"Cas? Hey Cas! You coming out of it yet?"
The ex-angel twitched slightly. His eyes were open at least, staring out over the empty fields they shot through. God knew what the hospital had shot him up with. There were several needle bruises in the crook of his elbow. Dean could guess why they were there, from what the nurse had told him Cas had been found on a boat and had been unconscious for days. After something like that, you wake up talking about angels and Lucifer rising? They'd drugged the hell out of him.
When Cas'd called him from the hospital Dean had wired him the money for airfare. When they'd taken down Pestilence and there'd still been no sign of him Dean had checked with the hospital. Given the psychological problems his 'brother' was exhibiting he would need to be collected in person.
A trip had never taken so long.
When he finally got to the hospital he barely recognised him. A skinny, pale guy in a little white room. His eyes looked huge and the stubble Jimmy'd been sporting since he became a vessel had lengthened and roughened into the beginnings of a beard. Dean sat on the edge of the bed and looked him in the eye. They widened as if trying to focus on him.
"Cas?" It came out almost a whisper. The angel's forehead creased for a moment then he shook his head, closing his eyes.
"He'll be fine once the meds wear off." The nurse layed a hand on Dean's shoulder and for a second he had to remind himself that she was not a demon. She's just a person, doing a job and faced with a creature that she can't possibly understand.
He leaves the clothes he's brought for Castiel on the bed and waits outside. Bundled into the oversize T-shirt and jeans he looks even smaller. It's a combination of near starvation and the loss of his powers. Castiel looks weak.
The road is straight for miles and it's already getting dark. Dean tries again.
"Cas?" This time he blinks slowly and sits up a bit. He swallows and the sound of the dry rolling of his throat fills the car. Dean's left the music off.
"Hey, you ok?" Cas coughs then chokes. Dean casts a glance at him and realises it was a laugh.
"Dumb question." Dean flicks the heaters on full and checks to make sure they're pointing at Cas. He seems to be coming to, running a hand across his newly acquired facial hair and straightening up to take in their surroundings.
"Where..." His voice cracks, grates and returns to its usual rumble "Where are we going?"
"Bobby's" Dean finds a bottle of water in the side of the door and passes it across. Castiel takes it, frowns and twists off the top, downing the contents. Barring the incident with famine this is the first time Dean's seen the angel with anything less than total self control. Watching him gulp water brings it home – Castiel is totally human now.
Neither of them speaks much. Dean spots a sign for a motel and, realising that they both need some serious rest, he turns off. Castiel notices but doesn't comment, he's not up to it. While Dean pays for the room he stays in the Car, then follows him to the door. It's like all the rooms he's seen Dean take, two beds, two lamps and a tiny bathroom. Dean dumps a bag at the foot of one of the beds, another smaller one by the other.
"That's you, over there." Dean jerks a hand at the second bed. "You need anything?" Castiel shakes his head. Dean treks out to the car again, this time for some food. When he gets back Castiel is already stretched out on the bed, fully clothed and asleep. Leaving some chips and a bottle of water by the bed he flips off the light and settles in.
Around two he wakes up and finds the other bed empty. He crosses the room and flings open the door before he's properly awake.
"Cas!" he leans over the balcony and yells out over the parking lot. "Castiel!"
"Dean?" Hunched at one end of the balcony, on a ledge beside the ice machine, is Castiel. He's wet through and shivering but doesn't seem to notice. Next to him is a flask shaped bottle Dean recognises as his own.
"You trying to kill me?" He slams the door and comes to a halt in front of the smaller man. He frowns and Dean doesn't know if it's because he can't understand or because he's drunk.
"You can't wander off Cas." Dean's slipped into the tone he takes with Sam. Big brother on the war path.
"I didn't" he's not arguing, he just sees no reason for Dean's outburst. "I just came out here." Dean picks up the bottle. It's almost empty.
"Well just drink inside until we get back!" Cas looks at him like he's not making sense. Dean snaps. "You're not an angel anymore, ok? You could get hurt or killed or possessed. There's enough stuff out there that can kill you without you acting like an idiot." He manages to hold his level blue gaze for a few seconds before dropping his eyes to the tar paper floor.
"Just...come back inside ok?" Castiel uncoils himself and walks past him, back into the room. He's not doing what Sam does, seething or sulking but unable to argue. He's just doing what he's told. Dean looks down at the bottle remembering Cas drunk, broken by the knowledge that God doesn't care. It's the only comfort he had then, and it's still all he has.
Inside Castiel is on the bed again, staring at the ceiling. He's still fully dressed, including his boots. Dean knows Cas isn't stupid. He knows that humans eat and sleep and change their clothes. He just doesn't think it's important. Castiel was a warrior, an angelic soldier, in his own eyes he's useless. One more casualty of war.
"Cas" He looks up and finds Dean in front of him holding out the remaining whisky. He takes it and Dean sits on the bed with a sigh.
"I am so not right for this." Castiel unscrews the cap and drinks, barely wincing. He's waiting for Dean to continue.
"You, uh..." He rubs a hand over his face "I get it, I really do. You're stuck with us down here. You've lost your mojo and right now we're staring down the barrel of the apocalypse. But you can't just give up."
"That's not what I'm doing" A slight slur undercuts the defensive growl.
"Really?" Dean snags the bottle and takes a swig "Because drowning your sorrows isn't exactly angelic behaviour. It's fine, you know, do whatever the hell makes you feel good, but if it gets you killed..."
"It won't" Cas turns to him, frowning in concentration. They both take up a lot of the tiny motel bed, shoulders nearly touching.
"It might." Dean's lost his anger. His voice is quieter now, too quiet. The intimacy of this hits him, hard. That this is, or was, a dangerous immortal being and he has no place being this close to it, in any sense. Despite that he can't make himself louder, he's stuck in place and he can't pull back. "You can't just drink 'til it stops hurting. Mainly because it won't. Believe me." He's fixed with a long, frighteningly sober stare.
"I know. Where do you think I get it from?" Dean's whiskey, Dean's choices. He's not accusing him but he's made his point. Dean is the person he's closest to. That's where he's taking his cues from.
"Yeah, might not want to follow that road." He quirks a humourless smile. "Doesn't end anywhere good."
"There aren't many alternatives at this point." Dean can't help but smile, briefly and genuinely. There's something of Castiel left after all. The atmosphere of unnatural intimacy is still there, so when Cas's frown deepens and he leans forward Dean isn't entirely surprised.
Cas's mouth hits his own awkwardly, finding the right angle after a few seconds. All Dean's aware of at first is the scrape of beard and the taste of alcohol. The feel of his mouth and the way it moves takes a second to process. He leans in and blindly takes a hold of Cas's hip, a hand runs up his spine and rests against his neck. After a few minutes they break for air, foreheads resting together, breathing raggedly. Neither relinquishes their hold. He hasn't felt like this in so long. Gulping down air, skin twitching and chest tight. Cas doesn't seem any better, eyes half closed over blown pupils.
"I don't know." It comes out as one blurred rumble. Dean realises that Cas is drunk, probably the first time he's ever been this drunk. He pulls Dean back and kisses him again. Dimly, as they spread out on the mattress, Dean realises that Cas is still mimicking. Alcohol and Sex, the Dean Winchester coping strategy. But with his body shifting beneath him, uncertain and needy all at once, it's hard to think straight.
Somehow in between rough kisses Dean manages to gain the upper hand. Stripping back the layers of wet and dry clothing that separate them. Catching Cas's eye he sees that both of them are off the reservation here. He's hovering over a naked man, a former angel, and neither of them knows how to proceed. He's on fire, can't think of any way to get close enough to Castiel without breaking him. Can barely think at all.
Cas reaches up, places a hand on his shoulder and pulls him down. Kissing again, uncertainly fitting the planes of their bodies together and moving in such a way that neither of them fully controls. Dean can feel the blood drumming in his ears the whole time, hear Cas's blunt groans and his own grunts and moans, half smothered in his shoulder. As they come down he realises that he's shaking.
He moves so Cas, smaller than he is, can rest on top. Passing the top sheet between them awkwardly and tossing the dirtied bundle into the dark motel room. For a long time all he can hear is breathing, Cas's and his own. A few hours ago the man beside him was catatonic in a hospital. Now they're curled together on a sweaty motel bed breathing each other's alcohol laced breath.
After that long, agonising pause Castiel turns over. His face is expressionless, his own peculiar type of non-expression that makes him so hard to read. Dean's voice sticks.
He rests his forehead against Dean's shoulder. It hit's him, what he's done. Dragged Castiel down to his own level. Disgust comes from nowhere. He's twisted this and he's gotten off on it. Got them both off on it. He leans down and murmurs against the mess of dark hair.
"Cas I'm sorry." The angel shifts sleepily. His reply half lost against Dean's chest.
After a while he gets used to it. It takes three days to get back to Bobby's and by then they've settled into a pattern. Sharing a bed they've gotten to know each other, how they work together. Dean knows they're better than they were that first night. For a start, the second time, Cas is sober and comes to him anyway. Afterwards the guilt from before resurfaces, but it's only a reflex. They make each other, if not happy, at least comfortable.
Sam and Bobby can see it right away. There's already too much going on to get worked up over it. 'A hunter and an angel bunking together doesn't light the world on fire when there's already an apocalypse going down.' Other more colourful comments follow but nothing more judgemental than that. During the day he teaches Castiel to shoot, to fight with his reduced human strength and the basics of demon hunting. They don't touch any more than necessary. There's no obvious heat between them, just a connection made just out of view. It's there, they know and they leave it alone while they have to. After training, dinner with the others and a few hours of idle talk, that's when they get to be together.
A week later Sam comes up with a plan to stop the devil. It works.
Castiel is an Angel again.
Dean is alone again.