A/N: Right, so this was something I started writing for Renegade Angels, but never finished once I changed my fic idea. I found it the other day and realized I still liked it, so I finished it up for you guys. It's just a bit of a scene. I hope you like it!
Three days, fifteen hours and thirty-six minutes after Lucifer rose, Dean stopped looking for Castiel for one reason and one reason only. Because that's when the angel knocked on the door of Dean's motel room. Dean had only returned to the room for a quick shower and a bite to eat before heading out to continue his obsessive search, so being suddenly faced with the angel stole the words from Dean's mind. He stood at the door, gun still in hand and stared at Castiel. For his part, Castiel stayed on the other side of the door and swayed on his feet, unable to cross the anti-angel wards. His eyes were red and dull, his clothes torn and stinking of something foul Dean didn't recognize.
"Dean," Castiel murmured, voice scratchy and exhausted. "May I come in?"
The oddly polite question snapped Dean into action. With a quick flick of his fingers through the dark blood stains, he opened the room to Castiel's presence, but before Cas could move forward, Dean grabbed his shoulders and tugged him inside.
"Cas...what the hell, man? What happened? Where've you been?"
"I don't...I'm not...it's-"
Dean cut off Castiel's slurred rambling by jerking on his shoulders, trying to drag him further into the room. Castiel fell against Dean with a short pained cry. His forehead collided with Dean's collarbone, allowing Dean to feel how much Cas was trembling.
"Ok, alright. Talking later," he said, panicked. Now that Castiel was closer, Dean was finally able to tell that the foul smell he caught earlier was of someone who hadn't had the chance to bathe in a few days. Dean's eyebrows drew together.
Pushing him back, Dean saw a plea deep in those glazed eyes. Whatever happened, Castiel was having trouble focusing and needed Dean to just shut up and handle everything for awhile.
"Ok, buddy, c'mere," Dean muttered. Castiel moved under Dean's direction into a chair beside the door. Dean knelt before him and with some hesitation, laid a hand on Castiel's chest.
"I'm just going to make sure you aren't hurt," he says, feeling his face flush. "Are you in pain?"
Castiel only blinked at him.
"Never mind." Dean couldn't see any blood and even though Castiel's clothes were torn in several places, he didn't feel any wounds. If he had been injured, he'd clearly healed by now. But that didn't explain his exhaustion or confusion. Certainly not the way he smelled. In all the times that Castiel had stood too close to him, Dean had never smelled anything this distinctly human.
The first order of business was a shower.
Dean gathered Castiel into his arms and tried not to think about how this looked as he steered him into the bathroom. He set Castiel on the toilet and started the shower, adjusting the temperature to a pleasant heat. Glancing over his shoulder, Dean saw Castiel staring at his hands, his expression troubled.
"I'm so tired, Dean," Castiel whispered.
"Oh." It was so far out of the realm of Dean's experience that he couldn't think of anything to say. Days of desperate searching and now that Dean had him again, he didn't know what to do with him. Now that he thought on it, Dean didn't know what he'd really expected to do with Castiel when he found him. Except maybe punch him for scaring Dean so much. But Castiel looked so down, so vulnerable, any thoughts of scolding him fell away, leaving Dean non-plussed. So he just started helping Castiel out of his trench coat.
"Can you...do you need help...?" He gestured at the shower.
"I...no," Castiel said. Keeping a steadying hand on Dean's shoulder, he lifted himself to his feet. "I think I can manage."
Dean didn't know whether to be disappointed or not.
"I'll just leave something for you to wear on the counter," Dean said, pointing to the counter as if Castiel had forgotten the meaning of the word. This conversation was too damned normal. It was grating on Dean's nerves.
"Thank you," Castiel said softly. His eyes were on his shirt as his fingers fumbled with his buttons. Dean wondered if he'd ever had reason to remove the shirt before.
He moved back into Castiel's space and quickly undid the buttons for him. His own hands shook slightly, but he managed to get the shirt open and he gave Castiel an encouraging smile.
"I'll be in there if you need me," he said and then he left before anything else could convince him to stay.
When Castiel finally exited the bathroom, clad in Dean's favorite pajama bottoms and a faded black tee, Dean was watching television and waiting with little patience. He'd called Sam to let him know about Castiel's return and while Sam had sounded happy, Dean knew he wouldn't be seeing his brother that night. Sammy still needed time alone and if Dean tried to follow him, they'd just have another fight.
The way Castiel looked wrapped in Dean's old clothes struck something deep within Dean's chest. The lost expression on Cas' had faded into a mellow sadness that brought Dean to his feet. When Castiel didn't answer him, Dean just nodded and pointed to the bed.
"Do you need to sleep?"
A tinge of frustration seeped into the lonely sorrow in Castiel's eyes.
"I believe so."
Dean didn't know what to ask. Clearly Castiel was still angelic or the wards wouldn't have affected him. Yet, there was nothing angelic about the air of fatigue hanging over him.
"I think it's temporary," he answered, thought without much confidence. "It took a great deal of my energy to repair this body."
There were so many questions. So many things Dean wanted to say, so much that had filled him to bursting in those terrible days when he couldn't find Castiel. So many worries to share, so much desire to hear what Castiel had to say.
But instead, Dean just tore the blanket down the bed. "Take this bed."
Castiel complied without complaint. Once he'd climbed into the bed and slid down, a little confusion marring his features, he laid back on the pillow and let out a long sigh. Dean turned away, intent on sitting at the table and doing a little research.
"I'm not...I've never done this..."
His eyes pleaded with Dean again. It was the first time in Dean's life that he couldn't resist that look coming from someone not named Winchester. A disconcerting thought, but one that made him hesitate to flip off the light and return to the bed. There was an awkward moment as Dean tried to decide how to sit, but Castiel solved the problem by shifting over and curling on his side, leaving Dean a space to sit and lean against the headboard.
"It's not hard," Dean said. His words felt louder in the darkness. "Close your eyes and try to relax," he said, voice unconsciously lowering.
Castiel shifted again and though Dean couldn't see him very well, he assumed Cas followed his orders.
"Don't think about it too much," he instructed. Dean couldn't feel Castiel, but he could feel the body heat soaking into the bed and the scent of cheap motel soap filled his nose. Like always, Cas' presence settled around him, heavy and significant. The blunt comfort of it startled Dean into silence.
"I'm not thinking," Castiel promised a moment later when Dean still hadn't spoken.
"Yeah, good. Ok, well, just keep quiet," Dean said and he smiled when he heard Castiel huff lightly. "Take deep breathes and try to let go of your tension. I mean, I realize that might be hard or whatever, just now, but it's hard to sleep if you're not comfortable. Are you comfortable?"
Dean sighed. "Why not?"
"I'm not used to laying down."
"Well, you can't sleep standing up. You're not a horse." Dean imagined Castiel as a centaur. Maybe with great white wings like a Pegasus. But still wearing the long trench coat.
He shook himself. Clearly, he hadn't gotten enough sleep in the past few days.
"Ok, just try to concentrate on how soft the pillow is or something like that," Dean said. Unbidden, a memory of his mother staying at his side at night and rubbing his back jumped into Dean's mind. He batted it away, but it kept returning as Castiel stirred once again, trying to find the best position.
"Sit still," Dean commanded. He felt something welling up inside, the same something he'd felt when seeing Castiel in his clothes. Castiel was so close and Dean had been so worried. He watched in distant fascination as his own hand reach towards Castiel, as if Dean weren't the one controlling it. His fingers brushed a light stroke over Castiel's absurdly soft hair. Castiel moved into the motion of Dean's hand so immediately that Dean wondered if it were instinctive. The thought made the feeling in his chest grow heavier.
"This is somewhat better," Castiel murmured sleepily and he shifted closer, pressing his face into Dean's leg.
Dean experienced a brief moment of panic and very nearly jerked away from Castiel's warm touch. But then that feeling eased, turning sweet and comfortable and allowing Dean to finally recognize it as a powerful mix of possessive affection and overwhelming relief. It was weird being this close to Castiel, strange to card fingers through his hair and massage the base of his neck, but for whatever reason, it soothed the hard knot of brutally suppressed dismay Dean had been feeling ever since Castiel disappeared.
"That's good," Dean said, just as quietly a moment later.
Castiel's only answer was a light snore.
Dean smiled to himself and settled further down on the bed. His shifting woke Castiel long enough for him to adjust his position until his cheek lay against Dean's hip bone. He tossed an arm over Dean's legs and hugged them. Dean couldn't remember the last time he felt this comfortable.
"Yeah, it's good," he muttered and closed his eyes.
Within moments, he was asleep.