I thought I had already posted this over here, but apparently I was wrong. You may have read this already on my livejournal or at the Dean/Castiel livejournal. I wrote it for lj user 'bold_seer' for the Secret Angels fic exchange.

May 2010

"I have to go now."

Those were the first words he said to Dean after the battle ended. Not a congratulations or a I can't believe it. Not even an Are you okay? It would have been nice because Dean was absolutely not okay. His skin was buzzing with the aftershock of Michael's mojo and his hands were drenched in Nick's blood. No, he was pretty fucking far from okay and he went even further away from it when Castiel turned to him, eyes deadly serious and said the words Dean had started to dread.

"You aren't coming back, are you?" Dean said because that's what life had taught him. Assume the worst and understand that the worst might be more miserable than you can imagine.

"Eventually," Castiel said vaguely, but his eyes were already turned away towards a growing tower of light.

His brothers.

"Hey, hold on," Dean said. His hand reached for Castiel, but only touched a cold mist. A shock of something Dean couldn't identify shot up his arm and then the mist surrounded him. A voice he didn't recognize spoke in his ear.

"Someday we'll have to teach you patience, Dean," it said, warm and amused.

"Oh," Dean said in perhaps more awe than he felt comfortable showing. This was Castiel's true voice then. It sounded lighter than his human voice, but infinitely more powerful. No wonder the weight of it dragged Jimmy's abandoned voice down into a guttural growl.

"Wait for me, Dean Winchester," he said.

A sudden breeze carried the mist away. It blended into the tower and the lighted column seemed to become one being. Dean felt Sam join him as he watched the tower shoot straight up and disappear into the clouds. The battlefield revealed its true self in the absence of Heavenly glory. Gray muck and red blood and the pervasive scent of blood.

"What happened?" Sam murmured, eyes on the empty space left by the angels.

"He left," Dean said. When Sam's gaze switched to his face, Dean cleared his throat and continued in a coarse tone. "He's coming back."

"Can't say I'm surprised," Sam commented.

Dean snorted.

"Come on," he said, grabbing Sam's jacket and tugging him. "Let's get the hell out of here."

Everything was over and now it was time to wait.

June 2010

They really didn't do much of anything the first month. Dean knew they'd eventually pick up hunting again. He was pretty okay with it actually. All the bitching about hunting he'd done in the past couple of years had more to do with his 'destiny' than it did the hunting itself. Dean didn't know how to be anything, but a hunter and anyway, they didn't really deserve the break. Not when their actions of the last two years caused the deaths of God only knew how many people.

No, they'd keep hunting.

But first a short break.

They spent it at Bobby's, of course and it wasn't exactly only sleeping and drinking. There was a lot of shit to sort through. Signs to follow up on, hunters to track down, rebuilding the section of Bobby's house that'd been wrecked by demons a week before the final battle. But even so, it was relaxing work. Nothing life and death. And there was a lot of napping in between.

Dean dreamed about Castiel a lot.

Just little things. He'd be laying under a giant oak tree, watching the leaves flutter and part around beams of sunlight and then he'd turn over to see Castiel smiling up at the canopy as well. Or he'd be working on the Impala and when he asked for a wrench, it'd be Castiel who handed it to him. Dean knew enough of dream visitations to understand they were regular dreams. Just nightly reminders that Dean apparently wanted to have the guy around.

Sam never asked Dean about what Castiel had said to him or tried to talk about when he'd come back. In fact, to Dean's surprise, Sam was the easy part. The other hunters that stuck around all wanted answers about the battle and the angels. Even Bobby bugged him a couple of times about when 'that damned crazy angel' was going to return. But not Sam. Sam would find Dean brooding on the front porch and he'd bring him a beer, sit quietly beside him and just be there without talking. Considering how many times Sam had dragged Dean kicking and screaming into uncomfortable emotional conversations, Dean figured this was Sam's way of trying to make up for siding with Ruby.

It went a hell of a long way.

August 2010

They left Bobby's when they got word of some funky disappearances down in Missouri. Bobby pretended to be relieved they were finally getting out of his hair, but Dean noticed he also made sure to give them both hugs that might have lasted a little bit longer than strictly normal. They promised not to let too much time pass between their visits and then they were off.

The disappearances were related to an old broken-down sawmill. The spirit haunting the thing was pissed as hell. Sam gave Dean a long-winded explanation as to why, but Dean officially stopped caring when the thing picked him up and flung him aside the uneven stone walls of the mill. All he could think as he slumped to the ground was that Cas would be annoyed with him if he broke his back and died instead of waiting like a good little soldier. Then he thought about how Cas could have used his renewed mojo to ease the breathtakingly sharp jolts of bright white pain shooting through his body and decided Cas could kiss his ass.

You know, whenever he got his back down to Earth.

Sometime while Dean was trying to decide if he'd actually been blinded by pain, Sam managed to salt and burn the spirit's abandoned bones. He then hauled Dean to his feet and between the two of them, they decided that Dean hadn't broken anything. Didn't stop his ribs from hurting like a bitch though and when they walked through the door of their latest motel room, Dean felt something clench inside his chest.

"Dude, no," he said, pausing in the doorway.

"What?" Sam looked up with that touch of confused naiveté he never lost, not even when he was visited regularly in his dreams by the devil himself. "What's wrong?"

"Man, I can't take it anymore. I fucking hate motel rooms. I can't take this, Sam. My back fucking hurts. I wanna lay it on a real bed, not this fucking shitty slab. I'm too old for this shit!"

Dean knew he was probably becoming hysterical, but after that month at Bobby's and the god awful two years beforehand, it was just too much. So maybe they didn't deserve to stop hunting. Maybe they did have the responsibility to save lives because they knew what lurked in the darkness. But was it really too much to ask for a comfortable place to sleep and a living space that didn't smell like stale take-out and old socks?

"Um," Sam said. "Okay, get in here." He steered Dean into the motel room and onto the bed. "You have to at least sleep here tonight, but what were you thinking?"

"I wasn't," Dean said truthfully. Until that very moment, he'd just assumed they'd continue on with the same lifestyle. Endless driving and diner food and loose women and butt-ugly motel rooms. Business as usual. Except nothing was the same anymore. Not really. And if hunting was in his blood, so was the desire for a real home. No matter what he'd gone through, that deep down brutal clawing desire had never left him, not since he was four years old. He'd just buried it and look where burying had gotten him. Half dead inside. If it weren't for Castiel's intervention and a brief stern talk with God in the vessel of a tiny blond cheerleader, he might still be there. The basic message from both sources being, 'Don't bottle things up. Ask for what you need.'

Dean really needed to stop living like the wanderer. It was exciting at twenty-six. At 31 plus the forty years in hell, it wasn't nearly as awesome.

"Okay," Sam said and then he sat, clasping his hands in front of him like he did before they had 'Serious Discussions'. "How about we get a place then? I mean, Bobby's been hunting for decades from a permanent home base."

That clenched feeling in his chest began to ease.


"Sure. And you know, with things sort of calming back to normal levels, we probably won't have to be everywhere. We can just pick a place and take care of the surrounding area," Sam said.

"What? Like 'senior VP Eastern Great Lakes Division'?" Dean quoted with both a smirk and a shiver of disgust. Finding a house was one thing. But God save him from ever living the office life.

"Yeah, maybe," Sam said, an answering grin in place. "Something like that. All the hunters that turned out plus the weakened underworld means there's more hunters than hunts to go around. If we take some odd jobs and maybe if you fix up cars now and again, I think it's doable."

Dean realized then that he needed Sam to do this for him. He needed Sam to suggest ideas and take of details. He needed Sam to give him a home.

"Okay," he said slowly. "Then let's do it."

October 2010

It took a couple of months to find a suitable place. The house they picked was about three miles from Bobby's place. Dean didn't care one way or another in particular about the area. He just liked that it was close to Bobby and that it was quiet. No big city living for him. Although it was close enough to the nearest town not to make supply runs or bar visits a pain in the ass.

Really, it was perfect.

Well, not perfect. In fact, the house itself was falling apart. Dean purposely argued on behalf of getting a broken down building because he wanted to fix it. He wanted to work himself into his house the way he worked himself into the Impala. Sam made no objections and so after getting the electricity and water turned on, they moved in. They had practically nothing in the way of furniture and Dean knew it would take a long time to fix up each room, but he didn't care. Just the thought that they had the time now made everything okay.

The house was technically Sam's second choice. There'd been another place about a mile down the road with a cozy little breakfast nook Sam really liked, but it only had two bedrooms. When Dean pointed out this problem, Sam just nodded and told the real estate agent that they'd take the other place.

It wasn't so bad. No fancypants little breakfast nook, but then Sam had probably saved himself hours of teasing anyway by avoiding that feature. It wasn't huge, but it was big enough for a living room, kitchen and bathroom on the first floor and the three bedrooms plus another bathroom on the second. It was all they needed.

Dean didn't say it in so many words, but as he stood in the middle of a completely empty living room and let his eyes trace over the dirtied white walls and sickly green carpet, he found himself falling in love with the place.

It took awhile, but Dean was finally home.

December 2010

Between hunts and house repair, Dean didn't have many chances to go out and have some fun. Apparently, it showed in his snappish attitude because one day about week or so before Christmas, Sam threw him out of the house and told him not to come back until he'd drank, gambled or fucked the bad mood out of his system. Normally Dean would have fought back, but he was so grateful Sam didn't try to discuss the real reason for his rotten attitude that he silently retreated to the Impala and then the nearest bar.

It occurred to him as he ordered a beer that it'd been almost a year and a half since he'd had sex. Since Anna. Dean grimaced into his glass. Okay, so it'd been good at the time, but that was before she tried to murder his entire family. He couldn't believe it'd been so long and what's more, that he'd stopped trying a long time ago. First because he didn't care. Then because there wasn't time. And now...well, now there was no reason not to try, right?

Dean turned on his chair and began checking the available women. Two blonds in the corner, probably sisters. Cute, but too young. A brunette with smooth dark skin and bright green eyes. Stunning, but giving off a snotty vibe Dean didn't feel like fighting past. A few women here and there clearly hanging off a husband or boyfriend's hand. A redhead and another brunette Dean suspected were there together.

Then he saw a woman leaning against the far end of the bar and sending him the universal 'come hither' look. She wasn't the prettiest girl there, but she was attractive enough. Her short dark hair reminded him of Tessa, which was probably weird, but hey, Tessa was hot. He met her eyes and smiled, still not quite sure if he wanted to approach her. Then the decision was taken out of his hands. She got up and sauntered over, giving Dean a nice view of her body. Slightly curvy and rather short. Not too bad.

"Hey," she said in a soft dark voice. "Can I join you?"

"Sure." Dean nodded to the seat beside his and watched as the woman hopped up onto it. She ordered another beer before turning a bright smile on him. Her teeth were impossibly white.

"I'm Amber," she offered.

"Dean," he said and that's when he first felt it. A crowded kind of feeling. Like when you want to talk to someone alone, but a third person's there and they just won't get the hint to go away. He tried to ignore it because Amber was good-looking and if he didn't have sex soon, he might forget how.

"Well, I hate to be a cliché, but this is a regular haunt of mine," Amber said. Dean tried not to laugh at her choice of words. "And I've never seen you before. You from around here?"

"Ah, I just moved to town," Dean explained.

"What brings you into the area?"

They fell into a pattern of inane small talk. Dean decided he was too old to charm his way through a bullshit story, so he formed his real story into something for public consumption and as he was doing it, Dean realized this was going to be his life. It'd always be a lie because it was just too fucking weird and scary for normal people. Maybe he could find girls to fuck, but he could never find one that could ever really understand where his life had gone. He wasn't like Sam. He didn't think he could find a nice girl and settle down and know that she didn't really understand who she was sleeping with. That she could never really choose him because she wouldn't know who he was and what he'd done. And if she did, she'd rightfully run screaming in the opposite direction.

"Do you want to get out of here?" Amber asked a moment later.

"I can't," Dean said without thought. "I'm waiting."

"Waiting for what?" Amber asked in confusion, but Dean barely heard her.

He was waiting.

It didn't matter what girl wanted to choose him because he'd already been chosen. He'd been seen and known and still he'd been chosen.

Wait for me, Dean Winchester.

Dean never understood why he fell in love with Castiel five months after he'd left without a clue about when he'd come back, but that's what happened. Right there in that darkened bar, staring into the brown eyes of a woman called Amber, Dean fell in love with the angel Castiel and maybe his dick would fall off from disuse, but waiting was all Cas had asked of him and by God, he'd fucking wait.

"An angel," he finally answered.

In retrospect, he probably should have expected the insulted huff and abrupt end to their conversation. Dean watched Amber stalk off and smiled to himself as he thought about blue eyes and a cocked head and a deep gravelly voice.

January 2011

Dean obsessed about Castiel's bedroom. He called it the third bedroom out loud, but in his head, it was Castiel's bedroom. He suspected the same held true for Sam because every now and then, Sam called it, 'Cahhh-a the third bedroom.'

At first he thought about painting the walls yellow because a soft golden color might remind Cas of his home. But then, if he actually was living down there with them instead of in Heaven, Dean began to worry the reminder would depress Cas. Then he switched to blue until he realized it was because blue reminded him of Castiel's eyes and the sentiment was so sappy that Dean instantly switched his plan to green. It was only after he'd painted the walls a dark green color that Dean realized it didn't look as good with the brown carpet as he'd hoped. And really, ratty old carpet wasn't good enough anyway. What the room really needed was polished hardwood floors. Because Dean didn't have a fucking clue how to install wooden floors, it took a few weeks too long and a couple of emergency visits from an actual professional before Cas' bedroom was outfitted with a wooden floor dark enough to match the deep green walls.

Then it became an epic search for bed and dresser set. They didn't make much money from Dean's freelance car repair jobs or Sam's semi-regular shifts at a local bookstore, but there was enough to buy furniture from Goodwill. They'd already replaced the cots Bobby had lent them with real beds of their own months ago. As much as Dean liked his twin bed with an actual firm mattress fit for a human being, this room needed something more. God only knew why. Since he got angel'd up again, Cas didn't need to sleep. But the point was giving Cas a part of their home and that meant having a real fucking bedroom with a real fucking bed in it.

Dean found this extra long queen-sized bed made from the same colored wood as the floor and a few days later, a mattress was delivered to the house. He already had the sheets and patchwork quilt picked out to complete the thing and when Dean tried the bed out for a night, he knew he'd made the right choice. He hadn't slept that good in his whole life. In fact, he liked it so much he slept there the next night and then the next and he didn't realize what he was doing until Sam began moving his books into Dean's actual bedroom.

"And just what the hell do you think you're doing?" he demanded when he found Sam sitting on his floor amidst a pile of books.

"Turning your bedroom into a library," Sam answered calmly as if there was no reason for Dean to be upset that Sam was usurping his space.

"Yeah and where am I supposed to sleep?" Dean crossed his arms over his chest and gave Sam his very best disgruntled glare.

"You're kidding me, right?" Sam asked as he tossed aside a book and gave Dean his full attention. "You understand what you've been doing, right?"

Okay, there were times when Sam said things like this and Dean totally knew what he was hinting at, but he'd pretend to be ignorant in order to avoid an uncomfortable conversation.

This was not one of those times. Dean honestly had no clue what Sam meant.

"No, what have I been doing?"

"You've been building some kind of...nest or something for you and Cas," Sam answered, turning back to his books with a critical alphabetizing eye.

Dean felt his stomach drop. It was first time since last May that Sam had even said Castiel's name. And now that he had, Dean thought maybe he still needed the space because he did not want to think about what would happen if Sam was right, but Castiel didn't come back for years.

"A nest," he repeated blankly.

"Or a honeymoon suite or I don't know, a love cave or something," Sam said absently. "I suspected as much when I realized you were building the room based on a combination of your preferences and what you thought Cas would like. Then you started sleeping there." He looked up again and snorted. "I mean, come on. You're totally keeping the bed warm for him."

"Yeah, but he said I should-"

Dean clamped down on the words before they could escape because they'd do nothing, but confirm Sam's ridiculous accusation. When Cas said wait, he probably didn't mean for Dean to build them a little place. Like some 1940s housewife waiting for her husband to return from fighting in Europe and when Cas got back, he'd dip Dean into a dramatic kiss and toss his white navy dress hat into the air.


And now Sam was staring at him because apparently Dean got so caught up in that visual that who knows how much time had passed.

"He said you should what?" Sam asked with a grin, sounding like he'd already asked it once before.

"He said I should break your face," Dean snapped and stalked off to their...his...the third bedroom.

That night, he dreamed about Cas laying beside him on their bed and watching over Dean till morning came.

March 2011

Sam met Jayna on the first day of spring. She was the sister of a hunter named Cole they'd worked with in the last battle. It turned out that Cole had been a hunter for years without his family knowing. Then he'd suffered a serious injury during the fight. Jayna had insisted Cole move into her home in Memphis until he recovered and somewhere in the intervening months, the truth of his life had come spilling out. She didn't become a hunter herself, but Jayna was a reporter. Research was practically her life and so she'd begun organizing and investigating hunts for her brother and other hunters. Bobby let her use his library as a favor to Cole and that's why she was there the day Sam met her.

Dean knew he wasn't good at emotional crap. It'd taken him three years and a five month absence to realize he loved an equally emotionally stunted angel-man, so he wasn't an expert on matters of the heart. But even Dean could see something happening when Sam and Jayna met. Maybe because she was a gorgeous black-haired knockout or because she was surrounded by books or hell, maybe it was just love at first sight, but something about the woman made Sam speechless and for that, she already won a zillion points in Dean's book.

They saw a lot of Jayna after that. Which Dean didn't mind. She was shy and quiet, but with a steely resolve that impressed both Winchesters. Just the kind of girl Sam needed. Someone sweet who Sam felt he could protect when in truth she protected him just as much. It didn't hurt that she made Dean laugh and had inherited a fucking amazing recipe for peach pie from her grandmother.

For some reason, it didn't seem too fast at all when she moved into their house halfway through April. Dean kept expecting to feel a bit of jealousy, some that protective fervor he always felt when someone unfamiliar got close to Sammy. But it never came. It'd been years since they were a duo. It took hell and death and the end of the world, but Dean thought maybe he'd finally learned that protecting his family didn't mean it couldn't grow.

So it wasn't jealousy that bit at his insides when he saw Sam and Jayna together on the couch, her legs thrown over his, their focus locked on each other. It wasn't jealousy that made him feel cold and sad.

It was envy.

He heard them talking about it late one night when he'd wandered past their bedroom on the way to the toilet.

"How come Dean never goes out?" Jayna whispered to Sam. Dean paused. Eavesdropping was wrong, sure, but hardly the worst of his sins.

"What do you mean?" Sam's deeper rumble answered. "We went to shoot pool not two days ago."

A slapping sound, probably Jayna's hand against Sam's bare chest.

"I don't mean with us. I meant with women. Why doesn't he date? He's a cool guy and he's pretty good-looking," she said and Dean grinned to himself.

"Oh he is, huh?" Sam asked, but Dean could hear the humor in his tone. "Don't tell me you're worried you hooked up with the wrong Winchester."

"Well, I did only start dating you to get to him," Jayna said thoughtfully. The rest of her words were muffled by what Dean strongly suspected was a wrestling match. He considered moving away because he seriously didn't want to be standing outside their bedroom if they decided to transition to naked wrestling. But some kind of impasse must have been reached because he heard Jayna talking again, though perhaps a bit more breathlessly.

"I'm serious, Sam. I'm worried about him. He just...he seems sad," she said. Dean's heart squeezed in his chest.

"Yeah," Sam said with a sigh. There was a silence for a long moment before Sam started talking again. "Dean always worked under the assumption that he'd never have anything he wanted."

"Okay," Jayna said uncertainly. "I don't understand-"

"Do you know what it's like to be promised everything you've always wanted, but to never know when you'll get it?"

"I...no," she said and her voice sounded small.

"Me either, but Dean does. He's not sad, Jay. He's just unfinished. And the part he's waiting on is kind of mercurial."

Another pause.

"Are you telling me Dean's in love with the Ghost of Christmas Future?"

Sam's snort of laughter covered Dean's own. Because if Cas was going to be a Christmas ghost, of course he'd be the creepy quiet one.

"Kinda," Sam said, a smile in his tone. "And he's coming back in his own good time, so...Dean's kind of on hold."

"He?" Jayna said. "That's a surprise."

Tell me about it, Dean thought.

"Tell me about it," Sam said.

"So where is this guy?" Jayna asked. Dean leaned forward, seriously interested in Sam's answer. Because Jayna knew about the angels and Dean didn't give a crap if she knew about Cas, but he was understandably curious about how his future sister-in-law would handle the news that he was in love with a certified angel of the Lord.

"Heaven," was Sam's succinct answer. Yet another pause struck and Dean imagined Jayna was probably trying to work out how Dean would meet up with a dead guy without dying himself before she gave a startled 'oh' of understanding.

"Really," she breathed. "Are they...is that allowed?"

"Dean and Cas aren't really 'allowed' kinda guys," Sam said. "I don't think they've ever met a rule they didn't break at some point."

And for some reason, hearing Sam say that made Dean feel even better than when Jayna said he was good-looking.

"How long's he been waiting?"

"Almost a year now."

Dean let a tiny breath of air escape in a frustrated sigh. God, it really had been almost a year. And it could be years longer. Who knew if Cas even felt the passage of time upstairs? He might come back down to them locked in time at Jimmy's thirty-five when Dean was old and gray. They might have but a heartbeat of time together in comparison to Castiel's long existence. Dean could spend his entire life sleeping with the presence of a promise and watching Sam start a family while hoping for the return of his own.

Then Dean remembered the way that mist had wrapped around him and that feeling he couldn't understand then, but now knew had been like falling into safety and contentment. He thought about the way Castiel had given up his home and his family for Dean. How he'd had dived into hell and plucked out Dean's broken soul. And about how Castiel had held and fixed and loved that soul. And then Dean realized something fundamentally shocking.

He was happier waiting for an uncertain future than he'd ever been living in his present.

"Do you think it'd help if I prayed?"

Dean jerked back in surprise at Jayna's question.

"Um...I don't really know what Cas is doing. He could be really busy," he heard Sam answer as he stumbled back down the hallway to his room.

Why hadn't he thought of that? In all these months, not once did Dean think about trying to contact Castiel. But Sam was right. He couldn't bother Cas now. Not when he was probably doing something really epic and important up in Heaven. Sure, he cared about Dean, but Dean had seen the way the other angels treated him after the final battle. He'd seen the respect Castiel had finally won and the way even some of the archangels deferred to Castiel in the days leading up the battle. They'd probably crowned him commander of Heaven's armies and if Dean bothered him, it'd just steal his focus from some decisions where people's lives were at stake.

He decided not to pray, but it was hours and hours before he could fight the idea off enough to sleep.

May 2011

Dean didn't know if it was coincidence or God's weird sense of humor that everything happened on the one year anniversary of their defeat of Lucifer.

Knowing God the way he did, Dean leaned towards the sense of humor thing.

It all started because Jayna saw Dean wander off into the little wooded area in their backyard and assumed he'd gone out there to cry or something. He'd already suffered through the one year retrospective Sam forced on him at breakfast and the real reason for his walk was to avoid another. Sam might have gone easy on him in the early days, but Dean knew it helped Sam to talk about what had happened. It helped him absorb the enormity of what they'd done and ease his guilt over the whole mess. Dean had let him get on with it at breakfast because of his new 'no bottling' rule, but really, half an hour was more than enough.

But Jayna didn't know Dean as well as Sam did, so about ten minutes after his walk began, Dean heard her footsteps falling behind him.

"Hey, what are you doing out here?" he asked with a smile because he didn't know at that point what she was about to do.

"I just wanted to check on you," she said as she reached him and tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. "You seemed a little upset at breakfast. I know Sam needed to talk it out, but I thought you might want to talk some too."

Dean swallowed his grimace down well enough. "No, I'm good."

They walked in silence for a bit longer and then suddenly Jayna blurted out, "Sam told me about your angel friend."

Dean's steps faltered, but he didn't stop walking.


"He said the angel left you and didn't say when he was going to come back," she said and Dean could easily hear the displeasure in her tone. Stated like that, Dean supposed Cas did sound like a jerk. But Jayna didn't have the whole story. Far from it.

"He just had some shit to do," Dean said with confidence. In this, he'd always felt certain. Cas would come back. "He wanted me to set up shop for when he got back," he added, though he was less secure in this idea. For all Dean knew, Castiel meant he'd come back just long enough to say goodbye or he'd stay, but with a different kind of relationship in mind than the one Dean wanted.

"So, what? You're just supposed to hang around, waiting on him?" Jayna scowled and her pretty brown eyes darkened. "It just doesn't seem fair, Dean. You've done all this work on the house and you're always out hunting and I know how much you like to have sex," she said, which made Dean snort. "Well, I'm just saying Sam told me and you've deserve a life too. You deserve better than that."

Dean halted them and tugged away from her hand.

"Okay, I know you're worried about me and I appreciate it, but don't. Don't do that. Don't say I deserve better than Cas," he warned. He wasn't really angry. Just unwilling to hear anyone put Cas down. Especially someone who didn't know the guy, hadn't seen all the shit he'd gone through for Dean's sake.

"Sam said Cas belonged to you from the moment you first met," Jayna said with surprising passion, her hands curled into fists on her hips. "And that you belonged to him and that every move Cas made, he did it for you because he loved you and he'd hoped you'd love him back. And now you do and what? He just leaves you? What kind of crap is that?"

"Sam had it all wrong," Dean said, now starting to feel a hint of anger. "Cas did all that stuff because it was the right thing to do. Because he wanted to find his dad and fix Heaven."

"So you're saying it had nothing to do with the way he felt for you?" Jayna asked incredulously. "You can't seriously believe that, Dean or you wouldn't have waited all this time. You're normally so aggressive. You won't let Sam get away with the littlest thing, but you give this Cas person all the leeway in the world? Well, I'm tired of it! He can't treat you like that," she declared and then spun around, marching over to where the trees cleared enough to let in a shaft of yellow light.

"What the hell are you doing?" Dean snapped, following after her.

Jayna ignored him in favor of turning her face to the sky and clearing her throat.

"Hello? My name is Jayna St. Clair and I have a message for Cas," she said in a clear loud voice. Dean grabbed her hand and tugged her back, as if she were standing at some kind of portal into Heaven instead of a random space in the forest.

"Quit that," he hissed, but she just ripped her hand out of his and raised her voice again.

"Cas, if you can hear me, this is Sam's new girlfriend and I want you to know that you're hurting Dean by staying away like this," she accused the sky. "And Sam and I are really worried about him, so you best get yourself back down here before he gives up on you and moves on!"

"Shut up," Dean growled through clenched teeth, working against the effort of shouting over top of her to Cas that he'd never do that. Because it was stupid. Cas probably didn't have any idea what they were saying. He wasn't listening to their ridiculous argument and Dean stepped into Jayna's personal space to deliver that message when her eyes widened and her mouth fell open.

"Hello, Jayna St. Clair," Dean heard from over his shoulder and the voice was even rougher than he remembered. Deeper and stronger and closer than ever. He spun around and if he'd reached out a scant five inches, his palm would be laying flat against Castiel's chest.

"Hello, Dean," Cas added, his mouth twitching, but not quite smiling.

God, he was beautiful. A stupid girly description, but the only one that fit. In the golden afternoon light filtering down through green velvet leaves, Cas' eyes glowed and his skin shone and he was fucking amazing. Dean felt like a man dying of thirst who'd stumbled onto an oasis after a long dry year.

"Cas," he rasped.

"Oh my god," Jayna groaned. "I didn't really think...Oh shit, I am so sorry," she stuttered and Dean figured that now Jayna really was part of the family. Sooner or later, every Winchester had to experience being caught off-guard by Castiel and made to look like an idiot.

Cas took his eyes off Dean's long enough to glance at Jayna and give her a proper smile.

"Please don't apologize. I'm glad he has another person watching over him," he said. Dean heard Jayna draw in a sharp breath. Probably at getting a full blast of the Castiel Stare of Doom.

"Um...yeah, um...okay. I'm just going to go now," she mumbled and the sound of grass swishing against her sneakers told Dean she was practically running away.

Then Castiel's gaze belonged to him again.

"Cas," he repeated because he didn't know what else to say.

"Dean," Castiel said, stepping even closer. Not touching, but close enough for Dean to feel his body warmth. "I've missed you."

"Yeah," Dean breathed, looking down at Castiel's mouth and then back to his eyes. Up over his forehead to the shock of messy black hair and down over his nose to his chin. He wanted to look everywhere at once. Look at Castiel's face and at the screwed up tie and that stupid trench coat he still wore. Rememorize him in case this really was another goodbye.

"Me too," he muttered.

When he realized that Castiel's eyes were roaming over his face in the same manner, heat spread over Dean's cheeks. He quickly said the first thing that came to mind.

"Did you really come back because Jayna yelled for you?"

Cas' eyes settled on Dean's mouth as he answered.

"Actually, I had planned on returning next week, but her plea was very persuasive," he said, gaze flicking back to Dean's eyes. "Were you really going to move on?"

He sounded more amused than worried.

"I didn't fuck anyone while you were gone," Dean blurted.

Castiel's pupils dilated slightly. "I'm glad to hear that," he said with such possessive satisfaction that Dean felt himself shiver.

"You didn't ask for that," Dean said because he wanted Cas to understand that Dean chose him too. Without any understanding of reciprocation, Dean chose him.

"I know." Another step forward pressed Castiel's chest against Dean's and when he spoke again, Dean felt Cas' breath flow over his lips. "One of my brothers told me you had built us a home."

That surprised Dean and maybe made him feel the slightest bit silly. The idea that another angel had reported back to Cas that Dean had been making assumptions was embarrassing, but before he could comment on it, Castiel suddenly leaned forward and rubbed his cheek against Dean's. Rubbed against him like they were puppies or something.

"I had hoped," he murmured, voice breaking and fingers curling around Dean's upper arms. "I wanted to see you so badly, Dean. After I knew what was waiting for me, I wanted to come back so much."

Dean tilted his head away from Castiel, pinned him with a confused look. "Then why didn't you?"

"Because I knew if I saw you, I wouldn't be able to go back and finish my work," Cas answered, replacing his cheek with his hand. Dean leaned into the touch. "I've...ah, how should I say this? I've given my notice."

"You...wait, you quit Heaven?" Dean asked, shock and hope balling together to form a lump of nervous energy in his chest. Castiel smiled, an honest-to-God grin of happiness and the sight of it made Dean's knees lock up. Cas caught him as he started to sway.

"You say that like I haven't already done it once before."

"But that was...I mean, they let you back...how is this possible?"

Cas seemed fascinated by watching his own thumb gently massaging Dean's temple and so his voice was distracted as he answered.

"My actions put me in my Father's favor. He requested my assistance in reordering the Host," he said.

"So, he made you head honcho?" Dean asked and it didn't matter that Dean already wondered if they would do that, it was still hilarious. He began to laugh, his forehead falling against Castiel's. Cas' frown looked a lot less threatening when seen from three inches away.

"What is funny about that?"

"It's not you, Cas," Dean explained between chuckles. "I'm imagining Zachariah and Raphael and all those other fuckers' expressions when they had to start obeying your orders for once."

"Ah, yes," Cas said, a smile creeping back in place of the frown. "There was something gratifying about that, but I never wanted command. It was...difficult to see Heaven in such disarray," he said and only the brief hint of true anguish in his tone told Dean how deeply that pain actually went. He closed the last remaining space between them and slipped his arms around Castiel's back, holding him close.

"My brothers didn't like my command and they were afraid to accept our Father's punishments." The sigh he gave then was weary and heartbreaking. It made Dean begin to rub soothing circles into Cas' shoulder blades. "My Father's support meant a great deal to me, but..." Cas trailed off into a self-deprecating laugh. "I'm afraid I've been among humans too long. As much as I needed my Father's support, I needed yours as well. Knowing you were down here, planning for us...I couldn't have done my work without that, Dean," he said and Dean had never seen Castiel's patented stare so intense or so serious before.

That safe warm feeling he'd gotten from the mist encircled him once more and it was probably weird that a creepy wide-eyed stare made Dean feel so fucking happy, but hell, his life was weird.

"Um," he said because he didn't know how to verbally accept Castiel's gratitude. "So are you going to go back for a week?"

Castiel tilted his head one way and then the other.

"Hmm, I believe I know myself after all," Cas said. He leaned over again, almost kissing Dean. "Screw them."

The only thing more awesome than Castiel's choice of words was the way he poured into their first kiss without a shred of hesitation. He pushed Dean up against a tree. Dean felt the hard edges of bark digging into his back and fuck, it kind of hurt, but it was also kind of amazing and a year of waiting was nothing in comparison to the tide of pleasure and bliss rising within him. Dean pressed back against Castiel's loving aggression and thought to himself that the joy he felt probably came from that thing Sam had said about Dean being unfinished.

His stupid missing angel part had finally floated back home and for the first time in his life Dean was a whole person.

"Don't you ever leave again," Dean said in between frantic kissing.

"I won't," Cas promised. "Don't know why I left in the first place."

An uncomfortable squeezing sensation around Dean's middle signaled the use of angelic mojo. The next time he stopped kissing Castiel long enough to draw breath, Dean realized they now stood in their green and brown nest of a bedroom. He tugged Cas' arm and grinned at the awed look Castiel developed when he ended up straddling Dean's lap in their bed.

"Welcome home," Dean said.

Castiel only answer was another kiss and really, Dean was more than okay with that.