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A Supernatural fic.
Dean challenges, Castiel replies, Sam watches.
Dean/Castiel eventually. Spawned from watching a SPN marathon and having too much work to do – because I always want to write fanfiction when I don't have the time to, of course!
Naturally Supernatural and its characters are not mine and in no way am I making any substantial profit out of this.
This one goes out to my friend Purrrin!
When he had first opened his eyes, the first thought to run through his mind was that this, this room he was in, was unfamiliar, and that it, the bed he was resting on, was far more comfortable than he'd become accustomed to. The room was too bright, the walls were too clean, the smell was too normal – or scratch that, its lack of bad odor made it abnormal.
One thing was normal though: he was nursing a hangover – but not to the cheap beer he was used to.
And then he remembered. The nice room, the comfy bed…the better beer…they weren't his. They belonged to Lisa. He'd gone to her, after leaving Bobby. After deliberately walking away from the last of his family.
At least his body didn't hurt, physically, but there was a deep weariness that had settled into every muscle, and it was the only thing keeping him from getting up. That and the fact that he was really not looking forward to starting this new life.
A life without Sam.
And damn it, he wasn't ready for that. He'd given his soul to have him back once, and he would do it again, if any Demon was willing to cut the deal.
He knew they wouldn't be, though. Even Crowley would most likely come up with an excellent excuse why his soul was worth jack in a contract these days.
And so he had decided – that from the moment he would set foot out of bed, he would look ahead. Needless to say that didn't provide him with much incentive to get up.
Not like anything could after the living Hell he'd literally been through recently.
Having a real homemade breakfast while sitting at a real table in a real kitchen – that wasn't Bobby's – was something rare and he took his time to enjoy it as he should.
"So what is it this time?" Ben asked with barely contained excitement. "A ghost? A multi-eyed tentacle freak?"
"Ben," Lisa said warningly as she filled their glasses with orange juice. "Eat your breakfast," she gently ushered, offering Dean an heartening smile.
He nodded back with a grateful smile of his own and nearly moaned as the food's flavor. "Jish ish good," he complimented with a mouthful – earning a chuckle from Ben and a patient sigh from Lisa. "Sorry," he said with unconvincing remorse as he swallowed, winking at the boy.
Once Ben was finished, he ran off to watch TV in the living room, and only then did Lisa question him. "So…what is it?"
"Sorry?" Dean asked as he poured himself another cup of coffee.
"What are you hunting this time around?" she asked him calmly as she leaned her elbows on the table.
Dean smiled a quick, forced smile and shook his head. "I'm not really hunting, more like looking for something," he replied, wincing at the coffee's bitter taste as he'd forgotten to add sugar.
Lisa was unimpressed by his apparent detached attitude. "And what are you looking for?" she asked patiently.
The hunter looked at her for a moment before he looked down at his now empty mug. "Something…"
Something to help me forget about what I lost.
"Oh, and how's it going so far?" she asked with a nod, deciding that two could play this game of his.
He grimaced and shrugged before flashing her a charming smile. "You'll be the first to know once I find it," he promised. "If I ever do," he added with another shrug as he popped another bread roll in his mouth.
Lisa chuckled despite her initial desire for this conversation to be serious. She then shook her head and cradled her own cup in her hands to warm them. "And at the moment? What are your plans for the next couple of days?" she asked.
"My Baby got seriously man-handled recently," he replied in all seriousness. "I'm gonna patch her up."
It took her a few seconds to realize he meant his car. "My garage is all yours," she humored him. "And then?"
"Well, I'm a hunter," he replied, as though that explained everything. "I'll do some hunting."
Lisa looked disappointed then, and he couldn't say that he blamed her.
But then again, neither could he say that it really did anything to him.
Dean was under his beloved Baby fixing some jagged parts when the first mind-bogging event of the day occurred. Bon Jovi's "Dead or Alive" echoed off the walls from the radio, and he was half-tempted to slide out and chuck a metal scrap at it. He felt that the song lacked its usual charm without Sam slaughtering it with his off-tune yelling.
Just as he was about to go through with his idea, the song ended and on came a commercial. Slightly pacified, he resumed his work until he heard the sound of footsteps. "Ben, is that you, buddy? Why don't you do me a favor and give me the big wrench that I left by the radio?" he asked as he struggled with a particularly stubborn joint.
He held out his hand and soon the tool was pressed into his palm. "Thanks buddy," he replied.
"No problem," replied a voice that was far too deep to belong to Ben. Or Lisa. And it was impossibly familiar, so much that he dropped the tool. So Dean sighed and squeezed his eyes shut. "Great, I'm hallucinating now, fucking awesome!" he cursed. "You still there, sick fantasy of mine?" he asked after a few seconds.
"Son of a bitch!" he cursed once more as he pushed himself away from under the car. And froze. And quickly grabbed the nearest intimidating tool he found lying around – the screw-driver – and sat up, leaning back against the Impala's door. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't use this to make you understand the meaning of pain," he challenged in the calmest voice he could muster.
Sam grinned and held up his hands. "I'm me," he assured him. "And I've got an Angel to prove it!" he insisted as he shrugged his head to the side.
Dean turned his head slowly and let out another string of curses as he first noticed Castiel looking rather curiously at the car's engines. Feeling eyes on him, he looked up from his mechanical contemplation and nodded at him. "Hello, Dean."
The older hunter snorted loudly and leaned his head back on the cold metal. "So it's really you," he started after some time, looking at Sam.
"Cas got brought back, why can't you believe the same goes for me?" Sam asked patiently, grinning encouragingly.
Dean's eyes flicked to the Angel for a second before they settled back on his brother. "He got brought back immediately. You…it's been two weeks, Sam…why now?" he asked, suddenly very tired.
Sam shook his head with a sad frown at this. "I don't know, Dean," he admitted.
At this Dean turned his eyes to the Angel.
Castiel shook his head apologetically. "I'm sorry; I do not have the answer either. I believe you should simply be glad and not question it any further."
"Yeah, great, thanks for your insight," Dean replied sarcastically – and both brothers couldn't help but chuckle as Castiel replied, "You are welcome," still not being familiar with sarcasm. There was silence for a moment before he sighed and grinned. "Well, since you're here, might as well make yourselves useful. Sam – get off your high ass and get to work on the transmission, you're probably the one who totaled it in the first place. Castiel – stop undressing my baby with your googly eyes and find us a hunt!" And without further ado, he slid back under the car, leaving the other two to exchange surprised glances.
And making sure they couldn't see the big stupid grin that split his face and the watery eyes that the dust had given him.
Because those two idiots were back. They were there.
He wasn't alone anymore.
…damn that dust was vicious!
Castiel did find them a hunt not far, and with Sam's help he was finally satisfied with the car.
Oh, who was he kidding? He kept fixing that car for two weeks because he wanted a reason to postpone his departure, because he was terrified of beginning this new life completely alone.
Except he wasn't alone anymore now.
Lisa had been understanding, but even more disappointed, and he felt like a jerk for having given her the false idea that maybe they would really talk, and maybe he would settle, and maybe it would work. Agreed, that night the second day had been a monumental mistake on his part. He hadn't really meant for them to cross that line again, but neither had he been averse to the idea, obviously. But she'd been hoping for more, and he'd only been using her to feel better about himself. For that only he'd have deserved a good slap and a sharp kick instead of the comforting look and understanding smile he got when they said their goodbyes.
But to his surprise, he felt nothing at the prospect of leaving her and Ben. Maybe just a pinch of remorse. Those two weeks had been fun – given the circumstances – but he didn't really feel sad. He didn't feel a yearning to stay by her side. He didn't feel anything inside of him trying to make him stay. Quiet life with her wasn't what he really wanted, after all. It just wasn't for him, and having been given the choice, he chose to go back to hunting. With Sam. With his brother.
With Castiel, too, for however long the self-righteous Angel would be willing to be off his white puffy cloud.
Dean honestly wasn't sure which one of them he was madder at: Sam for dying or Castiel for coming and going as he pleased.
Well…to be fair, Sam hadn't really wanted to die, per se. So it wasn't really his fault. And he was back. So Sammy really wasn't to blame.
But Castiel…yeah, okay, he was angry with him. And the Angel didn't even seem to realize. And it made him even madder.
And he didn't want to read deeper into it, so after a day he just stopped thinking about it.
The good thing about having a fully mojo-ed Angel fighting by your side is that nothing stands a chance against you.
The bad thing about it is that nothing stands a chance against you and there's. No. Fun.
So Sam had come up with a great idea: Castiel had a time-limit before he was allowed to intervene – unless it became apparent that one of them was on the verge of seriously dying for real.
Dean loved it.
Cas didn't but he complied with a long-suffering sigh every time. He stood to the side, and counted very precisely to 15 minutes, all 900 seconds, in his head. Dean had tried to bargain 20 minutes, but Castiel didn't really grasp the concept of negotiating – "Twenty!" "Ten." "Nineteen!" "Ten." "Eighteen, and so help me that is my last offer, man!" "Ten."
Sam had finally stepped in and declared, "Fifteen and that's final! And so help me, you better not continue this stupid argument behind my back, because I will know if you do!"
"Wow, when'd you put the pants on, Sammy?" Dean asked with a grin, satisfied because now Castiel had no choice but to agree – or he'd look like a sore looser.
The Angel frowned at both of them – at Sam for stealing his victory, and at Dean because he didn't understand his words – Sam had worn his pants the entire time.
"Honestly, what is it with you guys? You're always fighting these days!" Sam complained as he leaned back against his bedpost.
Dean shrugged. "Yeah, like's he's here all that often anyway," he muttered.
"I was just under the impression that you would like to have more time to celebrate your reunion rather than have me interrupt," Castiel supplied seriously from his seat on the foot of Sam's bed.
"And we appreciate that Cas; don't misunderstand what my temperamental of a brother said. We're always glad to have you around," Sam assured him. "Dean thinks so too, he's just being hormonal at the moment!"
"Bitch," Dean muttered from his bed as he turned on the TV to watch "Dr Sexy MD" while eating a bag of chips.
"Jerk," Sam replied automatically. He then frowned. "And I honestly don't know how you can still watch this show after what Gabriel made us go through!"
Dean shrugged. "Better laugh about it than cry," he replied around a mouthful of potatoes. Something then occurred to him and turned to the Angel – who was still brooding. "Hey, by the way…how's Jimmy? Is he even still alive?" he asked with a frown.
"Jimmy is with his family at the moment," was his reply.
Sam frowned in confusion at that. "But…you're here…?"
The other shook his head. "This isn't Jimmy's body."
"What, he has an evil twin?" Dean asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Not to my knowledge," Cas replied very seriously, frowning in a way that indicated he'd look into it as soon as he left.
"So whose body is it?"
The two brothers exchanged surprised glances as they waited for more information. When minutes passed and it became obvious that nothing more would be said without some coaxing, Sam took it upon himself to ask the question.
"Then how come it looks like Jimmy?"
Castiel looked strangely self-conscious at the moment, and he averted his gaze as he replied. "He deserved to have his life returned to him, but the people I…know here only know this face. So I had an empty vessel made to resemble him," he explained with out-of-character timidity.
And he may not have been particularly fond of Anna, but this was an idea of hers that he'd found excellent.
"You did this for us?" Dean asked with a strange look in his eyes.
"Jimmy gave his consent," Cas assured them.
Both brothers chuckled at this – because of course Cas would worry that they'd care whether Jimmy agreed to it or not – and of course Cas would ask for permission!
"He stated that he was actually rather glad to be rid of me," the Angel added with a frown. "He then specifically expressed his dislike over the number of ways his body has been subjected to harm."
Sam and Dean grimaced. They had to admit the vessel had a point there.
"And the clothes?" Dean asked with a raised eyebrow as Cas still donned the same old attire, complete with The Trench Coat that had lived through a lot and was still miraculously intact.
"Apparently he was also glad to be rid of those," the Angel replied, his posture switching to something akin to approval this time.
Dean didn't even try to hide his laughter. "Well don't you look glad you've won custody of the trench coat in the divorce!" he mocked.
"Anyway," Sam interrupted before the other two could start another session, "we're glad to have you with us, Cas! Right Dean?"
Dean scoffed and turned back to the TV. "As long as he keeps to the fifteen minutes head-start," he muttered.
"I promise you I will respect our arrangement," the Angel vowed solemnly.
Dean shrugged, Sam chuckled, and Castiel watched.
All was well with the World.
It was only a month later that the incident happened.
Until then, Castiel had ceremoniously respected his time-out – 900 seconds, no more, no less. But that evening, the hunt got ugly. The brothers had stumbled upon a hoard of poltergeist resolutely haunting an old-style hotel that had recently been re-opened, all of whom – as luck would have it – had been cremated – sending them on a frantic search for left-over objects. All the while avoiding death at the hands of angry spirits from the after-life, that is, and this without having the slightest idea what had made them so angry all of a sudden in the first place.
If they hadn't known him to be dead, they would have so blamed all of this on Gabriel.
As it stood, they were in deep shit. Period. No sugar-coating on this one.
And so Castiel broke his count at 572 when screams of pain sounded out, and walked into the building well-set on zapping the brothers out whether they wanted to or not.
Sam had been ruffled but thankful. Dean on the other hand…
"We still had time!" he nearly yelled to the Angel's face as he was healing Sam's superficial cuts. "You're always doing things as you please!"
"Dean, calm down, it's not such a big deal," Sam admonished as he rested a hand on his arm to calm him. "We're okay, it's all that matters right? We can go back there anytime."
"Of course you'd side with him!" the older Winchester muttered darkly as he threw up his arms and left, slamming the door forcefully behind him.
Sam frowned as he clearly didn't recognize his brother on this one. "Don't worry Cas, I don't know what's gotten into him but—" he trailed off as he turned his head to the side because the Angel was already gone. After Dean, probably, and he hoped that his brother wouldn't do something stupid like try to punch him again.
Or worse, be such a complete jerk that Cas would leave for good this time. Yeah, he'd miss the Angel, but he knew that Dean, although he'd vehemently deny it, would miss him a lot more.
A lot, lot more.
Maybe even too much.
Dean kept cursing as he pulled a beer out of the cooler in the Impala, leaning back against his beloved car awkwardly while trying to avoid putting pressure on his right ankle – because of course the evening hadn't been bad enough as it was, he had to have sprained his stupid ankle! "Damn it," he cursed once more for good measure as he drank a few long gulps. As he lowered the bottle his eyes barely had the time to widen before Castiel touched his fingers to his forehead and stepped back without a word.
His ankle was all good now, but for some reason, he was far from feeling better. "Don't expect any thanks," he warned roughly.
"You never have to thank me," the Angel replied, as usual not fully getting the tone used against him. There was silence as the other returned to drinking his beer and so he spoke. "You are angry at me."
"No shit, Sherlock," Dean muttered.
Cas nodded and then seemed to hesitate before he finally spoke. "The fact that I can now heal you does not mean that I do not dislike seeing you hurt," he offered by way of apology.
Dean turned his eyes to him, and the anger seemed to have dissipated. "I know that…" he said quietly.
"But you are still angry," the Angel noted, determined to get to the bottom of the other's behavior.
"Now why would you say that?" the other asked back, putting on his best smug face – or his shit-face, as Sam would say.
Castiel seemed momentarily deterred, but he kept going – although he wasn't looking him in the eyes anymore. "You call me Castiel."
"It's your name," the other replied unimpressed – but to the trained eye, he looked slightly tense.
"You used to call me 'Cas'," the other reminded him without missing a beat. "I enjoyed it," he admitted then, looking for all the world like he'd just admitted the most unbelievable thing.
"Okay, fine, I'll call you Cas again if it's all it'll take for you to drop this," Dean replied with a long sigh as his fingers idly toyed with the near-empty beer bottle.
And then Cas did the very biblical thing: he held the other cheek.
Dean blinked and looked at him with a frown. "For what?"
"For whatever I did that so visibly angered you," he replied, not looking too sure of himself but visibly trying. He then tilted his head to the side and his body moved in just the way – and Dean knew from habit that he was about to leave in a blink.
"You keep doing that…" he growled. "You keep coming and going whenever you please!"
Understanding finally dawned in the Angel's eyes and he took a step closer. "You are angry because I left after I healed you and Bobby."
Dean let out a long sigh and he ran a hand through his hair, wondering how to stop this from going haywire – inside though, he knew it was too late because the words wanted out. "Well what did you expect? That I'd just say 'welcome back, Cas' as though nothing happened? You left," he accused mercilessly. "Right when I needed you to be there."
Castiel still looked unaffected to the outside world, but Dean knew better by now. He knew him.
He'd seen the guy drunk off his ass – him, an Angel! And he'd also seen the guy pissed off as Hell – and had even more felt than seen it, really. Nasty, nasty right hook of Holy Angel Wrath.
And they'd even been to a brothel together! – even if truth be told that memory was more about the first time he'd laughed in a long while than the girls – however charming they were.
Now, in Dean's opinion, you've seen someone drunk, you've seen them right mad, you've bonded over prostitutes – you know them. Simply.
Not that it was that simple with Cas – Hell, nothing was ever that simple with Cas! - but the main point was he knew the guy. Somewhat. As well as you can get to know an Angel of the Lord in a meat suit – even if in the present case his meat suit was a weird undefined meat suit. And the mighty twice-resurrected Angel was far from being as unfazed as he wanted to pretend he was. He was hurt.
And Dean childishly wanted him to hurt even more.
Like he'd been hurt himself.
"Ask me," he challenged before the other could say anything. "Ask me how it felt when you left."
Castiel tilted his head to the side – his most obvious and endearing sign of confusion – as if he didn't see the point, didn't see what good it would do. Or as if he didn't want to know the answer.
"Ask me, dammit!" Dean repeated louder.
And he must've looked intimidating to some point, because Castiel sighed and his eyes darted to the side before he asked, "How did it feel when I left?"
"Like what was left of me broke for the second time that day." The words were harsh and he knew it – and at the moment he didn't really care. He needed the other to understand. To understand human behavior – to understand him better. "I didn't want you to fix me up," he added unexpectedly.
Castiel's eyes bore into his and his frown deepened. He knew Dean well enough by that point to know how self-depreciating the man really was, but this…he thought they were past that. "Was I supposed to leave you in pain?" he asked calmly.
"Well it might've kept my mind off another kind of pain," Dean replied evasively, stubbornly. "Or you could've stayed longer," he accused.
"It was important that certain things got settled quickly, and my presence was required. However I always intended to return at some point," the Angel replied steadily.
Dean shook his head and uncrossed his arms. "Well you could've said something then, instead of flapping away without a word! Two weeks might not register as a long time to someone's who's lived thousands of years, but to us humans it's not nothing!"
"I apologize then. Next time I will make sure to do that," the other replied diplomatically.
"Next time?" Dead repeated with a raised eyebrow before he huffed. "Cas, if there is a next time, don't even bother coming back!" he told him quite frankly before he turned from the Impala and made his way back to the Motel room without another word or even a single glance over his shoulder.
And if he had though, he would've seen how crestfallen Castiel could really look.
"He is not content," Castiel declared to Sam in the morning, while Dean had gone to follow one of the leads they had on the hotel – one of the architect's descendants or the such, he had explained in a hurry as he ran out the door.
Sam looked up from his computer, momentarily confused before he put two and two together. "Oh, you mean Dean!"
Castiel's frown clearly said 'who else?' as he regarded him somewhat impatiently.
And so the younger Winchester nodded and then paused mid-nod to shrug. "Well…he's Dean," he replied with a tight-lipped smile. As the Angel tilted his head in confusion he crossed his arms over his chest, wondering how to explain himself in a way the other would understand. "He's used to having bad things come crashing down every time something good happens to him."
"In other words, he is sour because he expects something bad will happen in the near future?" Castiel summarized with a deepening frown as he looked into his eyes.
Sam held his gaze for a moment, nodding slowly. "Well, yeah…" Why he was still stuck explaining his brother after all this time he could not fathom.
The other didn't say anything for a moment, and Sam thought he'd dropped it, but upon closer inspection, it was obvious that Castiel was thinking about it.
"It makes no sense to think so," he finally declared after a moment's introspection. "There is no rule that states bad things will happen after good things have."
And he looked quite certain of it, too.
Sam had to hold back not to laugh at the bizarreness of the situation. "Well it's…folklore, if you will," he offered. He then cocked his head to the side with a grin. "Winchester folklore. Dean Winchester folklore, to be exact. Don't let it bother you too much."
Castiel frowned as his eyes didn't leave the others'. "He is not content, Sam," he repeated, as though Sam had clearly missed the main point.
"Okay…" Sam turned in his chair and leaned his elbows on his knees. "Cas, don't work yourself up over it. It's Dean. You should be familiar with his antics by now!" he reasoned with a patient smile.
Cas sighed, looked down, and nodded before he returned to gazing out the window.
Sam raised an eyebrow at this. I spy, with my little eye, one Angel who can't pretend to save his life! "Okay Cas," he started as he closed down his laptop, sending the other a silent message that he was all ears, even more so than before, "why don't you tell me what really has you bothered here?"
If the Angel seemed reluctant to share, it lasted less than a second. "He's angry at me," he admitted.
"Hm," Sam eloquently said as he frowned, fingers raising up to stroke his chin. "Okay. Why? What makes you say that?" he asked as he honestly couldn't see his point. Dean was angry at everyone nowadays, so why did the Angel think that he was particularly mad at him?
"He said so," Castiel replied readily in his best 'now-why-would-you-ask-that-wasn't-the-answer-obvious' tone.
"You know that the things that come out of Dean's mouth are to be taken at a fifth degree at the best of times, don't you?" Sam asked as he rubbed his eyes tiredly. He then paused and ran a hand through his hair. "No, of course you don't. You don't know what a degree is," he mumbled to himself.
He was rewarded with the Angel's best offended slash confused slash know-it-all slash holier-than-thou look. "It is a unit of measurement, generally referring to temperature." There was a pregnant pause during which Sam tried his best not to laugh. "Though I was not aware that Humans could speak in a graduation of degrees," he conceded, and he looked truly fascinated by the prospect.
"Figure of speech, Cas, we talked about those before," Sam quickly clarified with a grin before clearing his throat. "In short, it means you shouldn't take what Dean says literally – at least not most of the time."
But Castiel seemed to really struggle with the concept, and Sam was half-expecting half-ready to hear him ask, "Then why doesn't he say what he really means to say instead of wasting time saying what he doesn't mean?" and deal with the inherent headache that would come from explaining degrees and double-entendre and sarcasm and Dean to one clueless Angel.
Fortunately for him, Cas didn't ask this dreaded question.
His question did, however, make his eyebrows skyrocket into his hairline.
"Then when he said that what was left of him broke for a second time the day I left, he didn't mean it?"
Sam was – understandably – stuck speechless. It wasn't like Dean at all to say something like that. But then again, Castiel – of all people – would never make it up. "Cas, why don't you tell me exactly what Dean said to you?"
And so the Angel set to give him the most precise word-by-word recap he'd ever heard.
And Sam frowned at the end. But then he smiled. Or more like grinned. And then he rolled his eyes and shook his head and muttered about that "moronic jerk" in a fond voice. He then looked back at the other who was patiently waiting with an expecting look on his face, hoping he'd be able to provide him with a simple, miraculous explanation about his brother.
"Cas, did you guys ever think of talking about the reason why you didn't come back sooner?"
The Angel's frown told him otherwise.
"Dean has not expressed any willingness to further discuss the issue," he simply stated.
Sam shook his head. "No, no, no, Cas. With Dean you don't wait until he wants to talk about things, you just talk, and make him listen whether he wants to or not." There he paused and frowned. "Generally speaking, he wants to, but he's too stubborn to admit it," he assured him.
Castiel nodded slowly, trying to make sense of the Winchester brothers. "So you are advising me to go to him and speak regardless of his willingness to listen?"
"That's the spirit," the younger Winchester agreed. He then looked him in the eyes and told him, "Cas, here's what you're gonna do…"
When Dean returned, he had that self-satisfied grin and raised eyebrow that indicated he'd found a lead. Apparently when the foundations had been dug, several artifacts were dislodged, and stored away in a warehouse for inventory before they were eventually forgotten and left there to rot. Literally.
They waited until the sun set before heading out, and once there, while Sam distracted the guards, Dean and Castiel sneaked in – sneaked in, no zapping, because Dean still insisted his body didn't like it. ("Damn it Sam! I may not particularly enjoy pooping, but I hate not being able to even more!" Sam hadn't been too willing to delve on the matter and so he let it drop with a sympathetic pat on his shoulder.)
Castiel was very diligently looking around for any signs of the box they were looking for, but at the same time his mind ran over his conversation with Sam. The younger Winchester had assured him that he would need to talk to Dean regardless of the man's wishes, and that his best shot would be a moment when Dean would not be able to leave.
Such as here, now. In the middle of a hunt. In a warehouse. With no one else around. "Dean?" he called out with determination. His eyes then caught sight of the very box they were looking for and he walked to it.
"Yeah? You found it?" Dean asked in a hushed voice as he followed him. He then grinned as he read the inscription on the box. "Oh Hell yeah! Well done Angel mojo!"
"I used my eyes, not my powers," Castiel corrected with a frown. Dean brushed him off and gripped his crowbar tighter as he moved to break off the lid. "Dean?" Cas called out once more, resolve only growing.
"Yeah?" the hunter asked distractedly as he struggled to get the lid off.
"Ask me why I didn't return to you sooner."
Dean froze and turned to him with a nearly flabbergasted expression. "What?"
"Ask me why I didn't return to you sooner," the Angel repeated slowly, thinking that perhaps Dean hadn't heard him well.
But Dean had heard him perfectly fine the first time. "Oh great, another heart-to-heart," he muttered as he returned to shredding the life out of the wooden board. "Look Cas, there's a time and place for shit like that, and it's not now and here!"
"When and where then?" Castiel asked with a frown as he watched him loose patience with his task.
"Never," he groaned as he pulled back and silently threatened the treacherous box with the crowbar, "and nowhere."
Castiel stepped closer and grabbed the lid with one hand, easily pulling it off and throwing it to the side. "No. It is now and here," he insisted.
Dean was visibly torn between being amused, pissed off or insulted – damn you, Angel mojo! But the other held his glare without flinching, so after a minute he decided to humor him. "Why didn't you return to me sooner?"
"I did," the Angel replied, looking down at the box's content. "The second night. You were with her."
Dean's eyes widened and he let out another string of curses – noting that even in the seriousness of the situation, Castiel's jaw clenched when he 'uttered the Lord's name in vain'. Of all the nights, of course Cas had to pick that one! "So why didn't you come again the next day?" he asked, deciding to play dumb.
"Because of the discomfort," Cas replied as he arranged the objects and pulled the salt container out of his pocket, holding his hand out to the other for the fuel.
"The discomfort?" Dean repeated in a low voice, as if afraid to know the answer, eyes transfixed as his friend littered the relics with salt and fuel. The hunter then pulled matches out of his pocket and lit a couple, letting them fall in the box.
Castiel's eyes were riveted to the fire. "The clenching here," he started as a hand slowly rose to settle above his chest, "and the burning there," he finished as his hand moved down to his stomach. "I felt it, whenever I saw you two together. It was most uncomfortable," he declared as he finally turned to look him in the eyes once more.
Dean was mesmerized by the way the flames danced in the other's eyes, and for a moment it felt like he forgot how to breathe. Cas then looked up before nodding.
"The exorcism has been successful," he informed him.
Dean nodded absently and flashed him a quick grin as he shrugged his head to the side. "Then let's pick up Sammy and be on our way," he rasped in a nearly breathless voice, only too glad to be offered an easy way out.
Castiel nodded back at him and nothing more was said until they joined up with Sam and the Impala once more.
When Dean woke up the next day, it was to Sam watching Sesame Street as he finished getting dressed, hair still damp from his shower. "I saw that," he mocked.
"Shut up and get up, jerk," Sam replied easily.
He groaned loudly and stretched as he got out of bed, lightly rapping his knuckled against Sam's head as he walked past him. "Bitch."
Not long after he emerged from the bathroom fully refreshed and fully clothed. "Breakfast?" he asked as he put on his shoes.
Sam nodded and closed his laptop before grabbing his jacket and the keys to the room.
It wasn't until they were seated in a booth in the small diner nearby and they'd ordered their fix that Sam brought up the Angel's absence. "D'you know where Cas went off to?" he asked as he stirred his coffee.
Dean nearly jumped in his seat and turned quick eyes to him before remembering himself and acting more casual. "No idea. He doesn't exactly keep me updated," he replied with a shrug.
The younger hunter raised an eyebrow at this defensiveness but didn't say anything about it. the only thing worse than a defensive Dean was a defensive Dean accused of being defensive, therefore becoming even more defensive – mind bogging, yes. "So…did he say anything…particular to you recently?" he asked, feigning nonchalance as he toyed with the napkin dispenser. Dean's head snapped to him so quickly his mind imagined a loud 'crack' sound accompanying it.
"What's that supposed to mean?" the older Winchester asked suspiciously as he narrowed his eyes at him.
Sam sat up straighter in his seat and shrugged coolly, knowing it would annoy his brother. "Nothing. He just told me…nah, never mind," he trailed off with a frown as he reached for his orange juice.
Dean reached for the glass before him and pulled it out of his grasp. "What did he tell you, Sam?" he asked in a deadly serious voice.
Like a moth to the flame, Sam thought with a grin – an inner grin, of course, as grinning in front of Dean at this point would have likely signed off his death warrant. "He was just a bit worried that you were mad at him, for some unknown reason. So I just told him not to worry, that you were probably just being you, and he had nothing to do with it," he assured him with a shrug as he held out his hand, nodding at his beverage.
But Dean didn't relinquish the glass, and his frown deepened. "And then? What did he say?"
"I can't really remember," Sam replied with perfectly feigned unawareness. "He said that maybe he'd try talking to you…did he?" he asked, still trying to reach for his captive juice.
Dean looked down at this, and let out a sigh as he gave him a quick, small nod. "Yeah, he did…" He let Sam have his glass back, and pretended to be captivated by the menu until his brother talked again.
"And?" he coaxed. "How did it go?"
"How do you think?" the other muttered as he didn't look back at him, even as they were served their breakfast.
Sam sighed as he looked at him. "And…?" as the other turned to him with a raised eyebrow, he further explained himself. "Are you?" This time there was a roll of the eyes and a silent 'are you crazy' glint in the way he looked at him. "Are you particularly mad at him?" Sam spelled out once and for all.
Dean shrugged and picked up his fork to pick at his food. "Well, kinda…but he doesn't really get it," he finally replied after a few minutes.
"Dude, I don't get it," Sam said in between bites. "Dean, come on…help me out here, would you?"
There was a long suffering sigh and a few bites of bacon and eggs before the answer. "He's always coming and going as he pleases," he finally said, looking at him as though he expected Sam to understand clearly without him needing to add any more.
"Yeah, it's Cas. He's always done that. Plenty of things to do for an Angel I guess," Sam replied with a nod as he was trying to see the hidden point. His eyes widened softly as he thought of something. "You'd like him to spend more time here, wouldn't you?"
"No!" Dean quickly replied as though the mere thought of it was laughable. "It's just…I'd like to know what to expect. I mean, one day he'll go as he always does, without a word, and we'll never see him again and that'll be it right? That's how things'll probably go," he rambled out. "Well that's fucking stupid."
"I see," Sam said slowly as he was indeed starting to get the bigger picture.
"Yeah, how are we supposed to trust a guy with our lives when we never know if he'll be around? I mean for all we know he only wonders about us when he's bored and he's got nothing better to do!" Dean continued. He then stopped and narrowed his eyes suspiciously at Sam's idiotic grin. "What?" he asked roughly, silently daring him to cross him.
"Nothing, nothing," Sam said as he help up his hands. "I just…get it now. And you're right. Totally unreliable," he agreed with a nod, grin only widening as Dean nodded in self-satisfaction.
And Sam kept grinning fondly at his boorish brother.
Because it wasn't really about 'trusting a guy with his life' as Dean had claimed.
It was more about 'trusting someone with his feelings', and Sam knew that without a nudge in the right direction – heck, without a series of shoves – then his brother would never do anything about it.
"You should ask him," he offered with a shrug, looking completely earnest.
"What?" Dean asked with a raised eyebrow.
Sam reiterated a shrug at this. "I don't know…where does he run off to, how long does he plan on coming back, what's on his mind? Anything. Maybe it hasn't even occurred to him that we might worry about his whereabouts," he offered.
"I never said I was worried," Dean objected gruffly. He was then slightly pacified as Sam held up a hand in apology. "But yeah…maybe I'll ask. If I think about it, which I doubt I will," he added with a detached shrug.
Oh I'm sure you will, Sam thought as he nodded and ate his breakfast silently.
And Dean had thought about it, despite his claim that he wouldn't.
Well, to his defense, they were driving to Bobby's place, and Sam had insisted to be the one behind the wheel, so he had the free time on his hands. With nothing else to do. But think.
Way too much, if he were to be honest. He even almost kind of wanted Cas to return quickly so he could kick his Angel ass to next week with his next question. Almost. Kind of.
As soon as he would decide what to ask him, really.
"Where do you always go off to?"
Nah. Too clingy.
"Do you ever think about me—us, us! – when you're away?"
…The summit of clinginess.
"How's life in cloud number nine when you're the new wondrous boy toy?"
…No. Cas would just frown and say that he didn't understand his references. Or he would just frown at him for blaspheming. Sorta. Because when Castiel didn't understand a reference to Heaven he automatically assumed that is was blasphemous – and really, with Dean it was almost always the case, so who could blame him?
"Do you have any idea how much I like it better when you're here, despite all my complaining?"
Yeah, right. As if.
"When will you stop coming back?"
Yeah…that one was…a bit closer to home. Because one day Cas would stop coming back, wouldn't he? Mighty Divine business to take care of and all that shit. Being immortal and all that shit, too, as a matter of fact! And he and Sammy sure had cheated Death on a few occurrences, but some day, it would be it, with or without a little help from their demonic friends. And then what? Heaven? And then what?
Dean unconsciously raised his hand to the brand on his left shoulder. Did Angels have free access to people's Heavens? Did they travel between them easily like Ash had found a way to? Were they allowed to?
Would Castiel even want to do it for him?
That stupidly ridiculous place idiotically called 'Heaven' might not be so bad, then…with his brother, and his friends, and his…well…Cas, forever by his side in a world where Hell spawns would never bother them – ever again.
He could easily picture himself getting used to the idea in a future he hoped would be distant.
But the realization that he was contently embracing the notion of an afterlife when he wasn't even capable of handling his actual life made him shake his head in derision and chuckle. Sad, he thought.
If asked what his favorite place in the whole wide world – and the ones above or below – was, his reply would be honest, quick, without the hint of a doubt – the Impala. His Baby. The One. That one beauty who'd stuck with them through thick and thin since they were born. Their one true Home.
Bobby's panic room was a close second though, because the idea of a spirit-proof panic room was just too awesome to be ignored, and Bobby was a freaking genius.
He only wished he'd thought of it himself.
Granted, not having a house he couldn't have built one, and as much as he loved his car, it was no atomic shelter – but still. If a hunter's idea ever was worth commending, then Bobby's spirit-proof panic room was it.
And it was strange, too, because it wasn't as though he had any reasons to have any fond memories of it. He could still vividly remember Sam's screams as they cut him off from Demon blood, and he himself had seethed when they'd locked him in to keep him from going to the feathery bastards to say his damned 'yes'.
It was just one of those things that you can't explain. A feeling.
Without warning he heard the familiar flap of wings that indicated Castiel was back. Dean grinned slightly from his place by the door, and didn't turn to the other as he kept looking around the room. "This is an awesome room," he declared, only half-joking.
"I am not certain I share you enthusiasm in this," Cas replied in all seriousness. "It is hard to assimilate something good to a place that has served such dark purposes."
Dean shook his head in amusement as of course Cas would take this too seriously. "If nothing, you'll admit the idea of it is awesome, right?" he tried once more with a smile as he looked at him, in a good mood despite his previous brooding.
The Angel tilted his head slightly and then looked over the room once more, as though searching for what the hunter saw. "It could prove useful in the event of—"
"Cas," Dean quickly interrupted him. "You're missing the point. This is an awesome room," he insisted as he held his gaze.
Castiel seemed perplexed but eventually nodded slowly before looking to the side. "It must be a human trait to be able to like a place with bad memories," he thought out loud. "I cannot feel the same," he admitted as he looked him in the eyes once more.
And Dean knew what he meant. How couldn't he? Of course Cas had been mightily pissed off when he'd used the sigil he'd taught him to send him away! 'Desperate times, desperate measures' and all that crap were fine in theory, but as it stood, there still seemed to be a rift between them since that day. Even if they'd apologized, and silently agreed to never bring it up again. It had happened. There was no taking it back, either.
"Hey Cas?" Dean called suddenly as he leaned back against the wall, crossing his arms over his chest. "Ask me what I hoped that day, and that I still hope now every time you leave to do your Angel mumbo-jumbo?"
Castiel's eyes widened the slightest bit and Dean almost laughed as he watched him mouth the word 'mumbo-jumbo' in confusion. But then his face turned completely serious and focused once more, and very calmly, he asked him, "What did you hope that day, that you keep hoping every time I leave to…when I leave?"
Dean grinned at his decision not to repeat 'mumbo-jumbo' and then sighed, feeling strangely relaxed for some unknown reason. "That you'll come back," he finally replied.
"I always will," the Angel replied as though it was obvious, taking a step closer. "I will always return to you, as long as you want me to," he assured him.
Dean chuckled as shook his head in disbelief. "As if I could believe that…"
"I would not lie to you," Castiel said with a frown.
A snort was his reply. "Oh, so if I – let's say – asked you to always come back for as long as I lived – then you'd do it?" he asked with his usual self-depreciation.
"You would not even have to ask," the Angel stated in a firm voice.
"Yeah, right!" Dean dismissed as he pushed himself off the wall and walked back towards the stairs. He however stopped as Castiel was suddenly between him and the wooden exit. And he was close. So close that those impossibly blue eyes seemed to look right into him – and for the first time he wondered: were Jimmy's eyes ever that blue?
"Ask me," the Angel started in a low voice. "Ask me how long I intend to remain by your side."
He wanted to step away right then, he really did. But he was nailed to the ground, glued to the spot, unable to even look away. He gulped nervously and opened his mouth, his voice surprisingly steady despite his inner turmoil. "How long…do you intend to stay with me?"
Castiel moved even closer then, and Dean felt his breath catch and his heart skip a beat as he felt the heat radiating off the other's body as he whispered his answer in a low voice. "For as long as you'll want me to."
He then held his gaze for a few more seconds that felt like an eternity before stepping back right as Sam jumped down the stairs two by two.
The younger Winchester paused in his steps as he looked back and forth between them – Castiel looked the same but Dean…now that was a real ruffled look! "Hey Cas! Good to have you back," he greeted with an easy smile. "I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" he then asked cautiously.
"No – course not! What's that for a question?" Dean quickly muttered as he walked past them to take the stairs. "New hunt?" he called back without waiting up for them.
"Uh—yes," Sam replied, visibly aware of having indeed interrupted something, despite his brother's claims. He shot a quick look at Castiel but the Angel wasn't looking at either of them. "Bobby got a call from an old buddy of his…it's not so far, so…"
"Say no more Sammy! To the Mirthmobile!" Dean interrupted him as he soon vanished back into the house.
Sam sighed and turned to Castiel to apologize but the Angel was already gone.
Bobby was glad to have them back with him on a hunt, and while no assertions of 'Idjits' were spared, neither were the good times. He'd referred to their hunt as a 'family outing', and truth be told, it was just that – and it was just what the brothers needed. Family was family, and it was sweet, no matter how weird theirs was – and, yeah, admittedly, it topped a whole new level of weird.
"It shouldn't take us more than a couple of days, trip included, to do our deed," Sam commented as he studied the map from his trusty co-pilot seat.
Dean snorted loudly, turning to look at him incredulously. "You didn't," he said as he shook his head, turning to look at his brother.
"What?" Sam asked with a frown. His eyes then widened and he raised his finger at him, eyes narrowing. "Don't," he warned.
"Dean…" he repeated warningly.
Castiel raised an eyebrow from the backseat but didn't say anything and merely observed their antics.
"Don't," Sam warned.
"You said 'do the deed'!" Dean mocked as he nearly burst out laughing. "You're such a looser!"
"Yeah, okay, ha ha, very funny, we're all laughing," Sam deadpanned as he leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms over his chest. "Jerk," he muttered.
"Bitch," was the automatic response. A good ten minutes passed with no further incident before Dean snorted loudly once more, pointing a finger at his brother.
"You said 'do the deed'!" he repeated in a sing-song voice.
Sam groaned as he rolled his eyes. "Okay, that's it! Stop the car!"
"Stop the damn car, Dean!" Sam repeated as he pulled out his phone. "I'm hitching a ride with Bobby!"
Dean chuckled but did as he was told. "You sure Sammy? Bobby drives at speed limit," he reminded him, sounding as if he were saying a very bad thing.
"Yeah well at least he's an adult!" Sam said with a grin as he waved his goodbye. "Cas, you wanna join in too? You might catch a serious case of crazies if you stay there too long," he told the Angel.
"Hey! Don't make Cas choose sides!" Dean called. "That's not fair! He has to stay impartial to both of us! You can't corrupt him!" he joked.
Sam grinned as Cas was obviously lost as to what was a joke and what wasn't anymore in their conversation. "Honestly, Dean? Cas is partial and we all know it," he said before closing the door and waving at them one last time before climbing into Bobby's car as it had pulled along behind them.
"You are not really mad at each other, are you?" Castiel asked Dean once the younger Winchester was gone.
Dean was lost in his thoughts over Sam's words and he jumped slightly as he heard the other's question. "What? No, no, don't worry, it's just brotherly teasing!" he assured him as he moved the car back on the road, following Bobby this time. He then reached for his phone and handed it to the Angel. "Here, send him a message, would you? Write him 'you know you still said it'."
Castiel raised an eyebrow, but took the phone and did as he was asked. A minute later the phone beeped and Castiel read the message. "You're a jerk," he diligently read aloud.
Dean chuckled and nodded. "Well tell him he's a bitch."
If the Angel complied, it was only because by this point he knew the brothers well enough to know that there was no animosity whatsoever behind the calling names. This time, after a minute the phone rang. "Hello, Sam? Yes…yes, please hold," Cas said courteously as he held the phone to Dean. "It's for you," he informed him pointlessly.
The hunter's grin widened as he pressed the phone to his ear. "Yes, Sammy? Wanna come back into the fun ride?"
"Stop making Cas write stupid messages to me and talk to him you idiot!" Sam's amused voice sounded at the end of the line.
Dean squirmed slightly in his seat as his eyes quickly darted to the rear-view mirror to glance at the Angel. "What makes you so sure I didn't write those?" he asked defensively.
"You don't care about grammar and spelling. He does."
"Yeah. So cut the crap, and fess up! I'm riding with Bobby to give you time!"
"Hey! I heard that ya ungrateful brat! See if you'll still dare to complain when I make ya ride in the trunk!" he heard Bobby's voice threaten.
"I meant that in the best possible sense," Sam insisted. "Talk. Now!" he repeated to his brother before hanging up.
Dean tried calling him again, but the line was cut off. Either he'd turned off his phone or he was blocking him. For a second, he considered asking Cas to zap over to them and relay a message to Sam, but Bobby had banned Cas from 'doing the Houdini in his damn car' after he'd nearly caused an accident upon appearing without warning – Bobby had never really gotten used to him coming and going as he always did.
Castiel had taken this very badly. "This is serious, Dean. Bobby has banned me from his car," he'd told him gravely.
Dean had instantly cracked up, but one look at the Angel's not amused face and he'd forced himself to stop, biting his lips to remain as serious-looking as he could. "Sorry."
The Angel had nodded, pacified, and had only broken the silence minutes later. "What is a 'houdini'? Bobby accused me of doing it."
Dean burst out laughing at this and as a result nearly crashed the car.
So, no, he was not asking Cas to zap over to Bobby's car to annoy Sam.
Sam said to talk, but he hated serious conversations when he was behind the wheel – so much could go wrong. Well, luckily, Cas was far less annoying than Sam when it came to music, and so at least he could listen to whatever he wanted.
Today, good music. Tomorrow, a good hunt. The day after? Maybe that talk. In the meantime?
Always enjoy the little victories in life.
With their combined efforts, Cas hadn't even gotten to finish his silent count to 900, and soon it was time for celebration.
Bobby's friends – themselves former hunters, in their younger days – spared no efforts in making them feel right at home to thank them for their help. Beer and cakes were served a plenty once the hunt was over and done with, bones and remains salted and burned and monsters beheaded and whatnot.
Dean had enjoyed the little celebration rightly, and had then made his exit as a drunken Sam had started to entertain them all with their embarrassing stories from school. He'd walked out and shivered briefly before going back in to grab his jacket, silently ambling to the Impala. "Hey Baby, yet another day and we live!" he greeted as he slid his knuckles on the cold metal.
He grinned slightly as he heard laughter coming from the house, and shook his head as he climbed onto to the hood and leaned back against the windshield. Sighing contently, he closed his eyes and breathed deeply the crisp night air.
"Sam's stories are…entertaining, to say the least," Castiel's voice sounded next to him without warning a few seconds later. "Are they all true?" he asked with a slightly curious expression on his face.
Dean surprised himself by not jumping up in surprise and shrugged lightly as he turned his head to look at him. "There's always a shred of truth in legends, isn't there?" he asked smugly.
Castiel smiled back in amusement and nodded. "Yes, there usually is," he agreed.
There was silence for a moment, but it wasn't as tense as he might've expected it to be. Finally though, after a while the words just came out again. "Got bored so quickly though? I guess Sammy's not as good a story-teller as he used to be," he commented with a grin.
"Knowing Sam, it will not be long until he collapses into a snoring – what was that word you used? Heap?" as Dean nodded in amusement he continued. "He will soon collapse into a snoring heap on the couch," he finished.
"Well Cas, you must be in a good mood if you're letting yourself make fun of our Sammy," Dean commented with a wider grin as he leaned his head back on the glass panel, shifting to the side as he motioned for the other to join him with a wave of his hand. "Join in on the fun," he called.
Castiel titled his head slightly and then moved to sit next to him, back rigid as he contemplated the reason why they were sitting on the car as opposed to in it, as was supposed to be.
"Relax, Cas, stop thinking so much," Dean advised in a quiet voice as he reached out a hand to his shoulder, coaxing him into lying back on the windshield, like him. Once the Angel was settled, he turned his gaze back to the sky – but his hand didn't move from the other's arm. "I suppose the view's different from up there…" he stated after a few minutes were spent in silence.
"Yes, it is," Castiel agreed as he looked at him, still unsure what to make of the situation. "I like it better from here, though," he admitted after a moment, his gaze still not fixed on the sky they were talking about.
Dean nodded absently before letting out another sigh. "Hey, Cas?"
"Ask me how long I'll want you to stay," he said in a deep voice, eyes still looking up above.
Castiel hesitated for an instant, as though fearing the answer. "How long will you want me to stay?"
Dean shrugged. "Well, I dunno…is 'forever' too much to ask?" he asked him as he turned his head to him.
The Angel's eyes bore into his and at this moment it occurred to him that the hunter's hand had moved down from his arm to his hand. It felt warm. "No, it isn't," he replied in a quiet voice, as though speaking too loudly would put an end to it all.
Dean flashed him a quick smile and moved on his arm to lean over him. "Normally in those chick-flicks that Sam so loves that would be my cue to ask you to ask me to kiss you, but I'm gonna go ahead and take some liberties here. If that's okay with you," he asked as he looked into his eyes, his free hand moving to rest on his chest.
"Yes, I believe it is," Cas breathed out, eyes shutting closed as Dean leaned forward and their lips met. His hands slowly rose from his side to keep the hunter close, and pull him closer. "This feels quite pleasant," he admitted against his lips as they parted.
Dean smiled widely and shook his head. "Believe me, you haven't seen half of it!" he promised as he brushed his lips against his skin. "Permission to corrupt you, Castiel?" he asked huskily as he nuzzled his cheek.
Cas looked him in the eyes and tilted his head the side, his look somewhat smug. "You can try," he replied in a low voice.
Oh Hell yeah.
"Now ask me to kiss you," Castiel urged although their lips were already touching.
Dean nearly growled at this as he deepened the kiss. "Now that, Cas…you never need to ask," he informed him properly. "What you want, you take."
"I will do just that, then," the Angel replied as he pulled him down once more.
Oh. Hell. Yeah.
The next morning, Sam groaned loudly as was nursing the mother of all hang-overs. Light hurt. Moving hurt. Hell, the air hurt. It was pure torture. It was unfair, too. With a sigh, he buried his head in his cushion, trying to sink deeper into the couch.
Until he heard humming.
Raising his head, hair falling into his face, hand raising up to shield his eyes from the harsh, cruel light, he narrowed his eyes and saw his brother in the kitchen with a mug of coffee in one hand, the newspaper in the other, and the grin on his face.
I guess I don't need to ask Cas if Dean's content now.
Chuckling before groaning at the way it reverberated in his skull, he grabbed the pillow and stuffed it on his head, dead set on sleeping the pain away.
About time, too.
Enjoy it this time.
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