A/N: This fic was written for dc_fireplace over at Livejournal. A combination of some fandom tropes I love. Namely, amnesia, matchmaking and people thinking Dean and Castiel are together when they're not. :) Enjoy!
It started when Dean touched the metal box thing with the complicated runes on the side.
Sam thought Dean knew better by now not to touch anything with unknown spell work on it, but apparently, he'd yet to read that memo.
As soon as Dean's fingers grazed the box's lid, a visible shock of white electricity zapped up his arm and his head snapped back. Sam had a brief horrible flashback of Dean lying in a pool of water in a basement, electrocuted and close to death. Then the forks of white dissipated and Dean stumbled to the side, clutching his side.
"Ow," he said succinctly and then passed out.
Sam managed to catch Dean before his face slammed into the edge of the metal box. Trying to wake him led nowhere and while Sam knew it was dangerous to leave the metal box there where another victim could find it, he had to take care of Dean. So he did the best he could. He carefully laid Dean on the floor outside the room where they found the box and dragged a filing cabinet from a nearby closet in front of it, figuring that most people wouldn't bother tugging the cabinet out of the way to get to the door behind it.
It took forever to lug Dean back to their motel room. His brother was fit, but his dead weight strained Sam so much that he resolved to ridicule Dean as much as possible about getting fat on cheeseburgers and milkshakes. Just as soon as he woke up.
The first thing he did when Dean was finally safely stored on his motel bed was call Castiel.
"There was this box thing," Sam said as Castiel sidestepped him and went to Dean's side. It was weird, but not quite unexpected when Castiel gently sat on the bed and stroked his fingers through Dean's hair. Sam watched in uncomfortable silence as Castiel's hand travelled down the side of Dean's face and came to rest, palm down, over Dean's heart.
"Box thing?" Castiel prompted.
"Yeah," Sam said, shaking himself. It wasn't like he hadn't seen Castiel touching Dean before. In fact, it'd been happening more and more lately. And really, watching Castiel reach for Dean wasn't half so weird as when Dean reached back.
"Sorry, yeah, there was a box with runes on it. We've been working this case; a bunch of people who work at the same company were struck with total amnesia. Unusual, obviously," Sam said. At Castiel's nod of understanding, he sighed and sank down in a chair. "We followed the clues to that room and we found that box. I don't know why Dean touched the damned thing, but when he did..." Sam shifted and swallowed hard. "It looked like electrocution, but there aren't any signs of it now. There aren't any burn marks. Do you think he's okay?"
"I believe he is physically unharmed. At least as far as I can tell," Castiel said with some frustration. Sam knew Castiel hated having his powers diminished, but never so much as when it prevented him from helping Dean.
"So he's just knocked out," Sam said, unsure if he should be relieved or not.
"Yes. Tell me more about this box," Castiel ordered him.
Sam spent the next ten minutes describing the box in full detail. Castiel volunteered to retrieve the box, but Sam argued that it might hurt him as well. They were in the middle of what was turning into an epic battle of wills when Dean abruptly woke up.
He gasped and sat up, coughing into one hand. Castiel's arm immediately went around Dean's back to brace him and Sam jumped from his chair to Dean's other side.
"Dean! Are you okay?" Sam asked in a panic.
Dean just coughed some more. Sam fetched him a glass of water, which Dean drained in one long swallow. Through the whole process, Castiel stayed beside Dean, solid and protective.
When the wheezing coughs finally subsided, Dean drew a deep breath and peered at Sam. His eyes narrowed. Then he seemed to realize that Castiel was essentially holding him and so he peered at Castiel instead. He looked confused, but that didn't worry Sam. One moment he'd been touching a box in an old office building and the next thing he knew, he'd woken up in a bed in Castiel's arms. Confusion was practically required.
No, what worried Sam was the blankness in Dean's eyes.
Of course, he figured it out instantly. But he had to ask.
"Dean? What do you remember?"
"Um," Dean said and then he leaned into Castiel's side. "Nothing?"
"Shit," Sam said.
Several moments of questioning led to the understanding that 'nothing' really meant nothing. Dean didn't remember anything of their present nor of their past. Pretty much the only thing he did know was how to speak English. Which was helpful, but Sam had been hoping for more.
"Okay, so you're my brother," Dean said, poking Sam in the chest. "And you're...an angel," he said to Castiel.
"Yes," Castiel confirmed.
"Do you mean that figuratively or..?" Dean asked, his face mere inches from Castiel's. They hadn't changed positions at all. Now that Sam knew Dean didn't know them, his close proximity to Castiel seemed even weirder. If anything, Dean had scooted closer towards Castiel. For someone who had such strict personal space boundaries, Dean was getting pretty cozy with the angel.
"No, it's quite literal. I'm an angel of the Lord," Castiel clarified.
"Our lives are pretty strange, aren't they," Dean said to Sam.
Sam rolled his eyes.
"You have no idea."
Sam and Castiel discussed how best to deal with this problem while Dean studied them both in turn. It was only after Castiel promised to speak a number of protective spells that Sam agreed to let him transport the box to Bobby's house. Although Sam thought Castiel was probably just humoring him and would have moved the damned box on his own with or without Sam's approval. A quick call to Bobby for permission and then Castiel vanished. Dean didn't look unnerved by his companion's sudden disappearance, but he did look faintly disappointed.
"He do that a lot?"
"All the time," Sam confirmed. "And yes, it pisses you off."
"Huh," Dean said.
After that, they packed up and left the motel. Sam drove because Dean still seemed a little off and didn't remember his obsessive protectiveness over the car. Which was a tendency that always annoyed Sam until it was suddenly gone, making Dean just seem that much less Dean.
They talked on the way to Bobby's. Not idle chat or their familiar mocking. It was real honest to god sharing. Dean asked Sam about their childhood and parents and just about every detail of their past he could think of. Sam told him everything. No reason to sugar-coat their lives and really, it felt good to talk about it. Like the combination of confession to a stranger and the comfort of a best friend. As Sam talked, more of the Dean he knew started to emerge from the vacant man who'd woken up in that bed. Dean teased him when Sam recounted going to Stanford to become a lawyer. He got angry and quiet when Sam described how he'd been killed by Jake and when Sam explained in an wavering voice the deal Dean had made, he spit out a very self-satisfied, "Good."
Sam finished telling Dean about how they met Castiel just as they were pulling into the Salvage Yard. Castiel was waiting for them on the front porch and began talking as soon as they got out of the car.
"I've examined the box and translated the runes. I believe it's a riddle of some kind. It makes several references to the mind and 'pictures of the past', so I think it's safe to say it's definitely the source of the problem," Castiel said, presumably to Sam, but his eyes were wandering over Dean's face and body. Sam could practically feel his desire to touch Dean, just to make sure he was still uninjured.
"Bobby has started researching," he added.
Instead of mumbling something inane and looking away from Castiel's stare like Dean usually did, he stared right back. Stared and smiled and swayed into Castiel's space like the angel was some kind of Dean-magnet.
"Okay, good," Sam said, brushing past them into the house. "I'll just go and help."
The four of them gathered around Bobby's desk and pored through Bobby's extensive collection of books. Well, Sam and Bobby pored through the books. Castiel puzzled over the riddle while Dean held a book in his lap and leafed through it without actually reading it. Instead, he discovered the joy of bothering Castiel. In any way he could. Asking pointless questions about anything from his favorite food to the reason he wore a trench coat. Kicking his feet accidently on purpose. Staring at him for so long that Castiel couldn't help asking what he needed.
Flirting with him, basically. Albeit flirting as a ten year old would, but flirting nonetheless. Sam and Bobby exchanged looks every ten minutes or so. Sam's were freaked out while Bobby's tended more towards vastly amused.
Finally, Sam begged for a break. He cited a need for food, but the real reason was separating Dean and Castiel before they started making out in front of him. Bobby obviously picked up on the unspoken implication because he made Castiel help him with lunch in the kitchen. Dean nearly broke his neck craning around to watch Castiel walk away.
"Dude," Sam said, leaving the realm of freaked and travelling straight into shocked.
"How long I been hitting that?" Dean asked eagerly with a dirty grin that skeeved Sam out.
"Hitting what?" Sam said slowly, though he knew what Dean meant.
"Castiel," Dean said. It sounded odd to hear the angel's full name falling from Dean's lips, but Dean hadn't yet heard anyone calling him 'Cas'. Sam winced slightly. It just reminded him all over again that Dean wasn't himself and when he regained his memories, he was probably going to want to give this one right back.
"Are you serious?"
"Hell yeah, I'm serious. I mean, the way he was looking at me, I figured something was going on," Dean said. "Why? It's not some big secret, is it?"
Sam wasn't sure how to deal with this. On the one hand, no, Dean was absolutely not 'hitting that' and it wouldn't take long to correct him. But...okay, Sam didn't want to be a bad brother, but he couldn't help feeling really curious. The tentative touching and quickly hidden flashes of yearning Sam had been noticing in Dean when he looked at Castiel were one thing. They could be explained away by Dean's overwhelming and frequently unfulfilled need to be held and comforted. But there was out and out lust in Dean's eyes now. That was totally different.
"So you like him, huh?" Sam asked, thinking the phrase innocuous enough.
Dean snorted. "He's pretty fucking hot, so yeah, I like him. Kinda thought it seemed like he liked me too."
"Um," Sam said.
"Don't tell me I'm some kind of prude," Dean said in dismay.
"God, no," Sam said quickly because that seemed far more ludicrous than the idea that Dean wanted to have sex with Castiel.
"So...wait, am I screwing him or not?" Dean demanded.
"No," Sam admitted.
Dean's face fell. For a moment, Sam expected embarrassment. His Dean would have been embarrassed. But this Dean's disappointment quickly turned to annoyed anger.
"Well, why not? I know I'm not wrong about the way he was looking at me," Dean said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder towards the kitchen. "The guy was undressing me with his eyes. And I know I'm not wrong about me, so what's the problem? The angel thing?" he asked derisively as if being an angel was not a valid excuse for Castiel to keep Dean out of his pants.
"It's...Dean, you've never said anything about liking Castiel," Sam said, clearly and slowly so Dean didn't miss his point. "Ever. As far as I know, you've never dated any man."
"Seriously? That's my problem? Dude, what kind of idiot am I?"
Defenses rose up in Sam's chest, but the absurdity of defending Dean from himself held his tongue. And it didn't matter anyway because Dean suddenly leapt up from his chair.
"This is bullshit," he proclaimed right before he turned and stomped into the kitchen.
Sam ran after him. Bobby was handing Castiel finished sandwiches which Castiel was then arranging on a platter. Both looked up with startled expressions when Dean burst into the room. He got right into Castiel's face, one hand clamping down on Castiel's wrist.
"You want me, right?" he practically snarled.
"Want you for what?" Castiel asked calmly, looking down at Dean's hand.
"Sex," Dean said. Sam winced again. Way to be blunt. Beside him, Bobby made an exasperated sound and muttered what sounded like 'dear lord' under his breath. He grabbed the plate of sandwiches out of Castiel's free hand and set it on his lap.
"I'm going in there," he said very pointedly as he wheeled back into the living room and Sam heard the unspoken message. 'Don't you idjits follow me with this nonsense.' Sam knew he should probably leave too. But he couldn't tear himself away. This was way too fascinating.
"I don't know what you mean," Castiel said in a very deliberate tone that totally signaled he knew exactly what Dean meant.
"I don't believe you," Dean said, ducking his head to catch Castiel's gaze. Once he had it, Dean closed in another step.
"Now look me in the eye and tell me you don't want to fuck me."
Castiel swallowed and frankly, looked a little terrified. "I..." he said weakly.
"That's what I thought. Look, I realize I don't know much about our past or whatever's going on between us, but I can't think of a single good reason not to be together if we both want to." Dean stopped short as if something occurred to him. "Unless you don't like me? I mean, my personality. Because if I'm this stupid about us, then I could be a dumbass in general or-"
"I like you very much," Castiel interrupted him.
"Alright then. In that case, when I get my brains back, we're having sex. I don't care what I say, alright? If you have to drag me kicking and screaming into a bedroom, you do it, you hear me?"
Castiel nodded solemnly.
"I promise, Dean," he said.
Dean started to walk back into the living room, but stopped himself and considered Castiel. Sam felt tension creep into the room and he was just about to ask Dean if he was okay when Dean stalked back to Castiel's side and cupped his face with both hands.
"In case you need a little motivation," he said.
And then he kissed Castiel.
Or more like attacked Castiel with his lips. Again, all Sam could think was 'weird.' Seeing his brother's mouth connected to the angel's face was just plain odd. As was the way Castiel became boneless against him, the only part of his body moving with any purpose his lips and, as Sam saw with a grimace, his tongue.
"Um," Sam said. "I'll be in the living room."
Dean and Castiel joined them a good deal later. Dean with a leering smirk and Castiel looking somewhat debauched, complete with dark bruises in the shape of Dean's mouth forming along his jaw and neck.
"If you're done playing seven minutes in Heaven," Bobby said, handing Castiel a book. "I think I found something that might help you parse that riddle."
"Oh yes," Castiel said. Sam tried to pretend Castiel's sudden eagerness sprang from any other source than screwing his brother, but was not successful.
Somehow between the book and Castiel's own knowledge of the sigils, they were finally able to come up with an answer to the riddle. Castiel wrote the answer in the rune language on a piece of cloth, dunked the cloth in oil and instructed Dean to light it on fire. According to Castiel, if Dean then threw the burning cloth into the metal box, it would break whatever spell had been cast. He seemed pretty positive it would return the memories of all its other victims too. Sam hoped so or they'd be stuck travelling around to complete strangers and trying to convince them to chuck a wad of fiery cloth into a weird box.
They all watched in tense anticipation as Dean carried out Castiel's instructions. After the cloth landed in the bottom of the box, there was a brief moment when nothing happened. Then more lightning shot out of the box and curled around Dean's body. Only this electricity was blue instead of white and once it dissipated, Dean looked the very opposite of blank. In fact, Sam could easily see the weight of knowledge and experience and sheer excruciating humiliation settle over his face.
"Fuck," he muttered and anyone else might imagine Dean was only wiping his face, but Sam knew he was hiding.
Castiel was having none of it.
"Dean," he said, stepping up close to Dean's body. When Dean jerked away, Castiel curled his hands around the back of Dean's elbows to keep him in place. "I need to speak with you in private."
"No, see, you can't take what I said seriously. I wasn't in my right mind," Dean said, his voice calm, but his eyes utterly panicked. Sam tried not to smile. It really was about time Dean learned to handle getting what he wanted. Or even learn to handle wanting what he wanted. Judging by the fierce determination radiating through Castiel's stance and expression, Dean was about to get his first lesson.
"You said kicking or screaming," Castiel reminded him sternly and he began steering Dean away, towards the stairs.
"Sam," Dean said somewhat desperately. Which might have tugged at Sam's heartstrings if he didn't know for a fact that Dean wanted Castiel.
"Sorry, Dean. You said and I quote, 'He's pretty fucking hot'," Sam said.
Dean glared at him. "I hate you."
"Dean," Castiel said quietly and when Dean's gaze transferred to Castiel's face, something changed. Sam couldn't see Castiel's face from his angle, but whatever Dean saw there made his features become soft and shy. Gentle and...adoring. Sam looked away in embarrassment. That look was seriously not meant for Sam's eyes.
"Come," Castiel said and some horrible irreverent part of Sam's mind said, in a little while, I expect.
Bobby and Sam both avoided watching Castiel drag Dean away from the living room. Once they were alone, Bobby shifted in discomfort, then glanced at Sam.
"You wanna go get a beer?"
When they returned from the bar a few hours later, Dean was slumped in a chair on Bobby's front porch with a beer hanging limply from his fingers. Bobby gave him a searching look, snorted and wheeled on into the house. Sam dropped into another chair and folded his hands over his stomach.
"He had to go see a man about a God," Dean said lazily. He sounded very extremely and totally relaxed. Sam bit the inside of his mouth.
"So...um...how'd it go?" Sam asked. Not because he wanted details. He just wanted to make sure Dean was okay. That he was happy and didn't regret anything.
"Well, there was screaming," Dean said and he actually sounded kind of dreamy. Normally Sam would mock the crap out of him, but it was just too nice to hear Dean sound like that.
"No kicking then?"
"Nope," Dean confirmed.
"Good," Sam said. And then he added, because he was obligated as a younger brother to say something, "Weird."
"Yeah," Dean agreed.
Maybe weird was just fine. Especially if it came along hand in hand with happy. And there was no mistaking the emotion fueling Dean's stance, his voice, his words. He was pretty fucking happy.
Sam smiled. Freaky box things weren't so bad after all.