Just a little story, based on a prompt in the cuddle-meme on lj by wave_obscura.
Summary: "Cas wants to know why humans hug. Dean explains and demonstrates."
Warnings: none. Well, a hug.
Spoilers: not really, very vague for "My bloody Valentine", set in s5, before the finale
Genre: gen, h/c?
"Excuse me?" Dean turned around, sure to have heard wrong.
"Why are humans embracing each other, even when they are no Cupid."
"Cas, are you seriously thinking people hug because they want to say hello?"
"Well... yes, sometimes. I mean... in France, they even kiss..." Dean stops to remember Clarice, or Claire, or whatever she was called. French girls are awesome "...but that's not the point."
"No. Most people hug because - uh, well, because they like each other."
"But it makes you uncomfortable. Why would you want to make someone you like uncomfortable?"
"It doesn't make you uncomfortable. Jesus, why would you think that?"
"Is it not a sign of discomfort to stiffen your muscles and scrunch up your face?" Cas frowns, the way he does. And he does that head-thing, where he looks like a bird eyeing a particularly fascinating caterpillar.
"I've seen you react that way to being embraced. Was my perception not correct?"
"Uhm... yeah, no. I mean..." Dean scratches his neck.
"And after any embrace, you do this too."
"Do what when?"
"Scratch your neck. I've read dogs scratch themselves when they don't know what to do, and people supposedly do this when they feel uncomfortable."
"Dude, where did you get that from. And I'm not a dog." Dean adds as an afterthought.
"The man in the television said so."
"Cas, you should stop watching daytime-TV. It melts your brain." He turns around, going for Bobby's coffee-machine.
"So this ... hugging - why would anyone want to make others feel uncomfortable as a greeting?"
"Damn, Cas! What the hell do you want?" Dean twists and looks at the angel, but there is nothing to indicate that he is doing this to annoy him. There usually isn't, and he remembers that Castiel never actually got to get laid, not if he didn't try to pick up somebody while no-one was looking.
Somehow, he can't see that happening. So how could he know about the comfort of another one's touch? He sighs, rubs his neck before he stops and balls his hands. He has to watch his body-language better, apparently he's slipping.
"Look, that whole uncomfortable-crap, that's just me. Ok? Normal people like hugs. Sam likes hugs."
"Yes" he hopes that's it and Castiel won't ask why he thinks different on that subject. Hopes Cas will go to Sam and bother him about this crap. The angel is doing that head-thing again. If he was a puppy, he would look cute.
"Why do people like it?"
Dean mutters under his breath, takes a sip of the hot, bitter coffee. The machine needs to be cleaned.
"It just...releases tension, I guess. I'm no expert. It just makes them feel better."
"But not you."
"Yes, no. Sometimes. Yeah... well, it does. Just... it's complicated." Castiel looks at him a second, then understanding spreads over his face. Dean is pretty sure the guy is on the wrong track, but whatever. He notices the angel scrunch his brows again.
"I've never witnessed you loosing tension in an embrace."
"Well, you didn't 'witness' the right hugs, then." And he remembers that day, when Sam was standing in that awful hut in Cold Oak, or when Sam jumped at him after all those Tuesdays in Florida. Or after he came back from... away. Remembers countless girls he hugged, soft and curvy and warm and alive, smelling good and safe and like a fucking holiday from work. Cassie, had been a cuddler, and he had liked it.
He's pretty glad that no-one 'witnessed' those, except the participants. He shrugs.
"I'm a little screwed up. But hugs are fine, at the right time." Castiel is looking so doubtful it's nearly funny. Like he just told him letting someone poke his eye out would be an awesome experience. He doesn't think Cas believes him for a second.
"Usually, hugging is good when someone hasn't seen the other in a long time, wants to make sure they are well. Whatever. Or to tell the other they forgive them, or reassure them. Help them get over pain. It helps, I guess. Look, it's... people need body-contact. It's a fact. Babies get sick if they aren't cuddled, you can ask that man in the TV. It's just that not everyone likes it everywhere and some people are seriously screwed and just can't accept it" he shrugs again "No big deal."
"I see." Dean nods once, turns around to get rid of the terrible coffee and opens the coffee-maker to see if something died in the water-tank. He doesn't hear Cas standing from the chair, or coming closer. So it's not his fault he squeaks when suddenly two arms grab him and squeeze him from behind.
"Fuck, CAS!" He is released at once. When he turns, the angel looks so forlorn, he feels like he just kicked the puppy.
"Did you lie to me, Dean? Were you telling me that to make fun of me?"
"What? NO!" Dean forces his muscles to relax. It's hard work. "Look... You can't just.. you can't just embrace people from behind. Seriously, that shit can get you killed." Castiel seems to teeter between angry betrayal and curiosity, and Dean has a feeling where this will lead. He releases a lot of air from his lungs.
"Is it that important?" No answer. "Fine. Ok. I can... Commere" he waves the man closer. "Come, I won't bite." Reluctantly, Castiel steps closer again, still a foot or so away.
"Good. See, I was surprised. Normal people don't surprise-hug someone who isn't expecting it. You remember the talk about personal space we had?" He shudders at the memory of reaching for a towel from inside the shower and suddenly standing in front of a fully-clothed (thank GOD!) Castiel in the shower-stall. That had been... unpleasant.
"Good. Ok. I'm not going to tell you all about this and when it's ok to hug and... just, watch more TV for that. But... " he grabs Castiel at his shoulders and pulls him closer, closing his arms around the man. Its different than hugging Sam (and he can't even remember when he did that the last time), the angel is a lot smaller. He just holds on, waits until the muscles relay under his embrace, waits until he feels the reluctant arms of his friend return the hug.
"That's right" he whispers, just to say something. He feels the angel melt into this, feels him sagging a bit and he does what he'd always done.
When he thinks Cas got the hang of it, he relaxes his embrace, preparing to let go. Castiel doesn't.
"Cas, come on. You still don't get it?" Suddenly, he is pushed back a little. Not far, though, and the hard grip on his shoulders remains.
"Yes, Dean. I fully understand it. Thank you for showing me."
"Good. Uhm, you can let go now?"
"No." and he is pulled in again. "No, Dean. I want to reciprocate. You are still tense."
"Aw, fuck, come on, man. Let go. I'm good." But he allows to be pulled a little closer. Maybe that's why he hears the whisper close to his ear and maybe that whisper is why he lets his guards down, for a second, lets his head drop to the shoulders underneath. Maybe that's the reason for sagging a little, giving up a little of that heaviness in his heart, only for a moment, just for now. He'll take it back right after. But for now, he thinks, he can let it go. Just for a second.
"Yes, Dean. That you are."
a/n: This is supposed to be gen but if you want, you can read it as slash.
I'll exchange hugs for reviews!