This was written for my Twitfic Exchange on twitter for antiquitydreams. She asked me to write a fic where Dean and Castiel have to pretend they are married. I could not have written this fic without her help. Thank you, Raven!

Castiel explodes into existence alongside the table where Dean sits, eating lunch.

"Dean," he says, breathless and unexpectedly concerned. More than concerned. He actually looks somewhat panicked.

"What's wrong?"

"I am sorry." Castiel's eyes are wide and urgent. Imploring. Dean has a feeling he's going to want to hit Cas in a moment. "For what is about to happen, I apologize."


But there's no time for questions. Not when Castiel is jerking him up from his seat, both hands clamped hard around his shoulders, and pressing their mouths together in a painful and disturbing parody of a kiss. Castiel's teeth crunch hard against Dean's, which sends sharp jabs of pain shooting into Dean's skull. Luckily as it turns out because it helps Dean ignore the way Castiel's tongue is filling his mouth. Just shoved right in there and not moving, like a wet slug laying across Dean's own panicking tongue.

"Mmphh-" Dean tries to say.


An unfamiliar voice speaks behind Castiel and thank God for it because it means Cas stops violating Dean's mouth. The brief flash of Castiel's expression Dean sees before Cas turns is apologetic, but no amount of apology could make up for the travesty that just occurred. Dean scrapes his fingers against his lips and glares at the back of Castiel's head.

"Hello, Castiel."

The voice belongs to a man. Dean looks around Castiel's shoulders, which are unusually rigid, even for him. The guy is shorter than Castiel, but much broader across the chest. In fact, he's downright bulky with muscle and fat. Dean would go so far as to categorize him as 'beefy'. If Castiel weren't an angel, this dude could probably pick him up and sling him around his head like a lasso.

"Hello, Zuriel."

Oh right. Of course. The guy is an angel too. Now Dean's back to wondering if he could spin Castiel on his finger like Wilt Chamberlain spinning a basketball after all. It's probably not the best idea to snicker in the presence of two pissy looking Angels of the Lord, but Dean does anyway.

"Is this your human charge?" Zuriel asks.

When his black-brown eyes shift from Castiel's face to Dean's, an actual emotion gleams through the typical angelic mask. Dean frowns.

It looks like resentment.

"Yes, this is Dean," Castiel says and then he sets his hand on Dean's shoulder. "But he is no longer truly my charge. My connection to him now is through the Oath of Theliel."

The suspected resentment in Zuriel's eyes abruptly hardens into something far more sinister. Dean can't quite identify the emotion, but upon seeing it, he can't help drawing closer to Castiel's side. The movement doesn't escape Zuriel's notice. The emotion flares bright again.

"You declared the Oath with a human?" he demands.

Castiel doesn't waver under the intensity of Zuriel's apparent dislike. Instead, he slips his hand into Dean's and squeezes it rather too tightly.

"We have yet to formally declare the Oath before the Council. But our relationship has been of a romantic nature for nearing three Earth weeks."

Dean tries to jerk away from Castiel's grip, but the stupid angel holds him with all his super-human strength.

Friendship is one thing and shit, Dean might still feel beyond uncomfortable with what Castiel would do for him, but Dean draws the line at pretending to be Castiel's boyfriend. Especially for a dick angel who's glaring at Dean like he fucking murdered a bunch of cherubs.

"What the hell, Cas?" he bellows. "What the fuck is the Oath of Telel?"

"The Oath of Theliel," Castiel gently corrects. He turns to face Dean, moving far enough that Zuriel can no longer see his expression. "You remember our conversation, don't you? When you agreed to become my consort?"

His words are spoken in his usual calm graveled tones, but his eyes are speaking something entirely different. The panic from earlier returns with renewed fervor and there's no doubt about it. Castiel is pleading with his big stupid blue eyes. Big stupid blue eyes that Dean's been having trouble saying no to since Castiel started hunting with them again.


"Are you-" Dean lets his own eyes finish his thought, which is fucking kidding me with this shit?

"Am I what, Dean?" Castiel asks quietly. The way he says it makes Dean shift uncomfortably. He sounds...defeated. Over his shoulders, Dean sees that Zuriel's narrowed eyes are starting to glimmer with suspicion. Suspicion that's quickly turning into smug satisfaction and for some reason, that makes a hitherto undiscovered protectiveness explode in Dean's chest. No doubt about it. Zuriel's an asshole and if Castiel needs a fake boyfriend, well, Dean'll just have to man up.

"Right, the Oath. Guess I was having trouble concentrating what with your mouth on my dick and all," he says crassly and then grins when his arrow hits its target perfectly. Fury blazes in Zuriel's dark eyes. Dean smirks at him.

"Oh," Castiel says in obvious surprise. He frowns at Dean. "There's no need to be that detailed, Dean." He turns back to Zuriel. "I hope you won't be uncomfortable with our relationship. I don't intend to hide Dean away."

"Your relationship is your decision, of course," Zuriel says stiffly. "I only hope you've made a wise one. You will not escape another summoning without taking a mate." There's a darkness to his tone now that Dean cannot mistake. Zuriel is not just angry. He is definitely jealous.


The look Dean earns from Zuriel would melt his eyeballs in his skull if he weren't holding back for Castiel's sake. As a boyfriend, Dean should probably already know everything about this summoning, but fuck it. He's confused. Castiel squeezes his hand again, but before he can speak, Zuriel turns to him and says, "You should better educate your ill-informed human. I would hate for him to agree to a binding union without knowing the full measure of the agreement."

Dean's guessing his hatred stems more from wanting to fondle Castiel's wings than any caring on Dean's behalf. But he doesn't get the chance to say it because Zuriel disappears with a gusty breeze.

The second Dean registers they're alone, he throws Castiel's hand away and whirls on him, irritation lining his every word. "Just what the hell was that about?"

Castiel frowns at his discarded hand and begins to pace, words spilling from his lips more quickly than Dean's ever heard him speak.

"The summoning approaches and I've reached an age where I cannot show up alone again. Not without some incredible explanation. Zuriel was once more trying to make a claim on me and I found...I could not hear his plea again."

Dean's thoughts jam inside his skull and for a split, he's stuck. Like a frozen computer screen and shutting it off to try again isn't helping. He's vaguely aware he's gaping and then Castiel is talking again.

"I have never desired his affections, but I did not want to hurt him. I have seen here on Earth, when humans use the excuse of an already established relationship to avoid another. I am sorry I did not have time to warn you." He looks at Dean with sincere regret in his eyes. "I truly do apologize. But I can't think of a thing I desire less than to be Zuriel's mate."

Dean's computer jolts back online.

"Wait just a goddamned minute," he says, not quite shouting, but close. "Since when do angels have 'mates'?"

Castiel pauses in his restless pacing to give Dean a curious look. "Since the beginning of time. You did not think that Earth creatures were the only that paired off into partners?"

"I thought you guys didn' know...seed clouds," Dean says with a hint of distaste.

"I said I had not taken the time," Castiel says. "And I haven't. I have not taken a mate in all of my existence."

"That's not...I meant, I thought you...god, I'm saying I thought angels couldn't even have sex. Not in whatever weird soupy form you poured into that vessel," Dean says and this conversation is his least favorite of all time. He does not want to think about Castiel's having bizarre shapeless blob sex with other angels. Or really any kind of sex with other angels. It is just too strange.

Castiel sighs.

"Our partnerships are not based on physical coupling, Dean. It is an emotional joining." His expression darkens. "I know you believe angels do not have emotions, but the truth is that our emotions are simply different from humans. Zuriel has loved me since the first moment he saw me in my Father's Heaven. He wants to join his grace to mine."

That statement pings Dean's new and intense protective feelings. "So what? He's been pressuring you?"

"Somewhat, but Dean, I am several hundred years overdue to take a mate. In his way, Zuriel is also trying to help me. All angels are summoned at regular intervals to prove that we are not drifting through this existence, unbound to another, without support," he says, tongue tripping oddly over the last word.

All this information is almost too much for Dean to process. Not only do angels hook up, but apparently, they actually stalk each other until they do. Bunch of fucking conservative nut jobs.

"So why not just pick someone else if this Zuriel creep doesn't make your feathers tingle?"

"I have..." Castiel won't meet his eyes and it bothers Dean.

"Hey," he suddenly says. Castiel's gaze snaps to his face. "You what?"

"I've never felt that way about any of my kind."

Oh." Dean's throat feels tight. He tries to swallow, but can't and his next word comes out as a croak. "Right."

There's a very long silence wherein Dean and Castiel both try their best not to look at one another. It's difficult to manage because they are standing less than three inches apart, but Dean's not inclined to move and since he doesn't know what to say, the silence stretches way past discomfort.

Then Castiel unexpectedly steps back, taking his freaky angelic heat away with him. Dean nearly falls forward in an unconscious attempt to find that warmth again, but he catches himself at the last second.

"I should go," he says.

"Wait a sec," Dean says. "What happens now? With your summoning thing?"

"My time comes," Castiel says blankly. "If I don't present a mate, the Council will find one for me. I can only hope it won't be Zuriel."

"They are going to...find you one? Find you one?" Dean's disbelief is staggering. The idea of Castiel being matched up by the dickless shitheads that run Heaven makes his blood boil. "Are you fucking with me?" he shouts, irrationally angry and unable to hold it back. Castiel doesn't cower under Dean's rage, but he does look somewhat surprised.

"Of course not," he says, eyebrows raised. "I believe my continued rejection of Zuriel will keep the Council from choosing him." He pauses, peering closely at Dean. "If that's what concerns you."

"No, that's not what I'm fucking concerned about," Dean snaps. "What if they bond you to some dipshit? You can get out of it, right? How long are these bonds supposed to last?"

"There have been instances of angels ending a partnership, but they are rare. The Council must approve the pairings as well as their termination," Castiel says. It sounds like he's hedging. At Dean's glare, he sighs. "The coupling would most likely last as long as my existence."

"Well, that's bullshit, Cas," Dean declares. "You can't let a bunch of assholes choose who gets to dick around in your grace for the rest of eternity."

"What would you have me do, Dean?"

"Can't you just tell them to shove it up their asses?"

"No, I can't. I'm bound by different rules than you. In this new Heaven, if I were to rebel again, I'd simply be killed before any chance of escape. And if I refuse to mate, I would be bound in Heaven until a suitable partner was found," Castiel explains.

Horror chokes Dean's throat. "Are you saying," he growls softly. "If you don't find a mate, you'd be put in prison?"

"Essentially. I doubt I would be freed until long after your life was nothing, but a implausible memory recorded in a holy book," he comments, almost idly.

For a brief moment, Dean's heart aches so much, he can't breathe.

"Way to make a guy feel insignificant, Cas," he murmurs.

"You're not insignificant," Castiel snaps, sudden passion replacing his nonchalance. Surprising anger flushes his face red and lends fire to his gaze. "It's because you're not insignificant that I must do this. I cannot leave you here."

"Don't lay that on me!" Dean pushes his way back into Castiel's personal space, his aggression fueled by an awful swelling of fear. He can't. He can't let Castiel make this fucking monumental decision on his behalf. Dean's already ruined Castiel's life six ways from Sunday. He just can't do it anymore.

"Fuck that."

"And what do I do instead?" Castiel challenges, his face so close that Dean can feel each forceful puff of air his heated words produce.

"Take me," Dean blurts.

Castiel fairly reels back from this passionate declaration. A dozen different emotions briefly flicker in his eyes, clearer than Dean's ever seen in that particular gaze. Shock into happiness into suspicion into downright fear.

"You can't be serious," he says slowly.

"Well, I am," Dean says, though he does feel a whisper of doubt clouding his mind. Not about keeping Castiel from having a random mate picked out for him. But Dean still doesn't quite understand what this mating entails. Castiel said it wasn't physical, but then Dean doesn't exactly have grace to be rubbing against Castiel's either. And there's the matter of the mating lasting for Castiel's whole life. He swallows around a sudden lump in his throat.

"What would I have to do?"

For a long moment, Dean thinks Castiel won't answer. That he'll fuck off in a whirl of feathers and not give Dean the chance to decide for himself. He's just about built up to actual anger when Castiel gives a weary sigh and sinks into one of the motel room's chairs.

"Mating with humans is unusual," he says, his voice carefully neutral. "It's not been attempted in many thousands of years, but it is possible. In that case, the human receives the protection of the Seraphs."

"And...that is?"

"It means the human is able to dwell in the Heavens without being dead. Walk among angels without dying. You could...the human could experience the full measure of the angel's grace without being harmed," Castiel says. He glances up at Dean for a sliver of a moment, just long enough for Dean to read devastating longing in Castiel's eyes. Then he turns away, expression blank once more.

"If you did this, our relationship would change very little," Castiel continues. "My grace would be more naturally attuned to your soul, but any actual mating, physical or otherwise would not be required."

Which doesn't sound so bad to Dean. In fact, it could probably help them on their hunts if Castiel was tuned into Dean's station, as it were.

"But you would be cleaved to me for the rest of your existence," Castiel says. "Even after your death, your soul would remain at my side. A human-angel mating is even stronger after the human dies because the soul is then more vulnerable to the supernatural. The angel is charged with protecting that soul." He looks up at Dean again. "In angelic terms, you would belong to me."

To Dean's surprise, the first thing that comes out of his mouth is not a declaration of the gut-wrenching panic he feels at belonging to someone that completely or his quiet little ache of desire or even a flippant remark about souls fucking each other. No, what he says is entirely different.

"That's what they think already, isn't it?" he accuses. Stalking over to where Castiel sits, he yanks up his shirt to reveal Castiel's mark. "That's why they let you keep coming around even after your mission. Because you peed in a circle around me! Didn't you!"

Castiel's eyes flick to his mark and Dean could swear his pupils dilate slightly, but before he can confirm, Castiel is standing as well and glaring at Dean. "I did not...I would not claim you without your consent," he growls.

"Then how come they let you come back here?" Dean presses.

"Because I wanted it!" Castiel explodes. He rips away from Dean, putting space between them, but ranting each step of the way. "Because if I stayed at my post in Heaven, you would have been dust and your soul lost to me before I could leave again."

"What do you mean, my soul lost to you?" Dean asks blankly. "I thought you said souls could hang out with angels in Heaven after we die."

Castiel pauses at the table. He leans down, hands clenched around the top rung of a chair and in that moment, he looks so very human. So weary and careworn. Dean takes a step forward before he realizes he's doing it.

"That's only if we were mated, Dean," he murmurs. "Otherwise, you will pass beyond the gate and we will not see each other again." He glances at Dean. "Your life is all I have."

Blistering anger boils up inside Dean's chest.

"Well, when the fuck were you going to tell me that?"

"I didn't think it would ever matter," Castiel snaps. "I hardly imagined you would care."

"What the fuck! Seriously...just what the-"

Dean is so angry, he can't catch the words whirling around in his mind. He snaps his mouth shut and marches to the other side of the room, suddenly eager to be as far away from Castiel as possible. Dean's not stupid. He knows he's had trouble accepting Castiel's friendship in the past. He knows he's not been the greatest friend in the world, but that's just because he never knew how to do it. All he knew was how to be a brother and a son and it just hurt too much to think that someone chose to be around him and still ended up dead because of it.

But they'd been hunting together for nearly a year and a half now. Without the pressure of the apocalypse, just because it needed to be done and they were good at it. Good together. And here Castiel is, telling Dean he doesn't care.

"Asshole," Dean grunts.

"Excuse me?"

Dean spins around. "You don't get to tell me what I care about, okay? And yeah, maybe I'm a dick, but if you think I'm just going to let you-" He stops short and strides back into Castiel's personal space. "Would I still see Sammy?"


"If we were did this bond thing, after death, would I still see Sam?"

"Oh." Castiel's confusion gives him a moment's hesitation. "Oh...yes. Yes, you could visit souls beyond the Gate. In fact, that is where human mates go when their angels are sent into battle away from Heaven."

"Okay, well, we'll have to talk about making it sound less like I'm some kind of soldier's wife, but whatever," Dean says.

His chest fills with nervous tension, the same kind of powerful excitement you feel right before plunging into icy water or jumping out of a two story window. Except now it's edged with something warmer, something that makes Dean push right up into Castiel's personal space, their chests pressed together.

"Let's go."

"Go where?"

Dean grins. "To ruin Zuriel's day."

But Castiel is not smiling. His eyes are dark with concern and...sadness. Dean hates that look.

"You don't really want this."

"What did I just say about telling me what I care about?" Dean says. "Besides, if you think I want to sit behind some gate with my thumb up my ass for the rest of eternity, then we have not met, you and I. So shut the fuck up and let's go to a fucking summoning."

Castiel searches Dean's face and as Dean watches, his caution slowly melts into that sort of amazement that's always made Dean so damned uncomfortable. But this time, he doesn't shrink away from it or make a careless remark. He stands still and quiet and lets Castiel look his fill.

His hand is gathered into Castiel's once more. "Very well," he finally says.

And that is how Dean finds himself standing in a giant sparkling white hall with Castiel at his side, both peering up at a row of incredibly stern-faced angels.

Dean's skin feels tight and dry, the end result of some kind of weird ritual Castiel did on him before they left the motel room. The so-called protection of the Seraphs, he guesses because there's no doubt about it.

They are standing in Heaven.

Not that Dean's never been before, but he was in the human section. The angel division seems a lot colder, the edges sharper and colors brighter. He's not sure if the angels are in vessels or just dressed themselves up to look like constipated politicians for Dean's sake.

"Brother Castiel," one intones, his voice echoing across the massive hall. "Why have you brought your human charge before the Council?"

"I am answering the summoning with my chosen mate," Castiel says in his deepest, most commanding voice.

Dean snickers.

The politicians glare at him, but it's the elbow to the ribcage he gets from Castiel that makes Dean school his features. This whole ordeal is massively serious in terms of consequence, but the actual process is ridiculous.

"See, me and Cas here," Dean can't help saying. "We're interested in a shotgun wedding."

The lead politician turns his heavy gaze from Dean's face back to Castiel's. "This is an unusual choice, brother."

Castiel gives a world-weary sigh. "Believe me, I am very aware of that."

"Step forward then," the politician says. He sounds bored. Not that Dean blames him. This wedding sucks. They're going to have to go get drunk with Sam later to make up for it. There is a moment of silence that stretches out so long that Dean very nearly asks them what the hell is going on when the head guy talks again.

"Your potential bond has been judged valid," he says. "You are given the right to declare the Oath of Theliel. You may join."

"Whoa, what does that mean?" Dean demands.

"Dean," Castiel says quietly. He turns Dean to face him. "It means I'm going to initiate the mating bond. It...will not hurt."

"Um, okay," he says, unable to hide his nerves.

"Do you trust me?"

And the thing is, Dean does. He's always trusted Castiel. Even when he barely knew him, even when he tested him at every turn, there was always a part of Dean that knew Castiel would never purposefully hurt him. Maybe it's being in Heaven, broken away from the Earthly bonds that cling at every human, but the feeling is a thousand times stronger here.

Sure," Dean mutters.

Then Castiel is moving impossibly close and for a second, Dean thinks he's going to try to kiss him again. But instead, Castiel only presses his forehead against Dean's. He wonders if all angels do that or if Castiel is changing the routine for him and the only reason Dean wonders is because Castiel's touch calms him so much it's actually shocking.

One moment, there is nothing different. Nothing, but the sensation of Castiel's breath across his face and his hands clasping at Dean's arms. And then there is an incredible warmth surrounding him. Not just around him, but within him and it's lightness. Such unbelievable lightness, like Dean could step away from the ground and actually float.

"What the hell?" he asks breathlessly.

"It's only me," Castiel says and Dean can't help laughing again.

"Only you? Feels like...fuck, I don't even know," he babbles. The sensation is only growing stronger, building and stretching and Dean's not sure he can handle it. "Cas," he pants.

"I'm here, Dean," he hears Castiel say. "You're safe."

But of course he's safe. This feeling is the definition of safety and salvation. His mind flashes away to flame and torment. To hopelessness and death and Dean is certain it will never end. Until this feeling. There is a warmth of pleasure and so much damned lightness fills him, drags him out of the pit.

Dean's eyes snap open and he jerks away enough so he can see Castiel's face.

"That was you," he says. "I remember you."

"My grace, yes," Castiel struggles to say. His cheeks are flushed and his eyes bright, as if whatever he's doing to do is exerting all his energy. Dean grabs his hands. He wants to help, but he's not sure how. On instinct, he reaches for Castiel, not with his hands, but with something else. Castiel's grace greedily tugs on it and Dean very clearly feels something snap into place. It's not anything he can really identify. Just that where there was nothing, there is now that peculiar lightness. A sensation that's entirely Castiel.

Castiel's tension drains out of his body and he falls against Dean's chest.

"There," he says, voice muffled by Dean's shirt. "Now we're mated."

Dean pokes at the sensation. With what he doesn't really know. His emotions or his soul or something. He thinks of Obi-wan Kenobi encouraging Luke Skywalker to 'reach out with your feelings'. In his amusement, Dean accidentally pokes to hard. Castiel groans deeply against his collarbone.

He quickly pulls away from the sensation, trying to cool the heat rising within him.

"Right. So we should go now."

The politicians are all but ignoring them. Castiel nods and lays a hand on his shoulder. The next second, they are back in the motel room. Sam is standing in the middle of it, phone pressed to his ear. The moment he sees them, he snaps the phone shut and glares.

"Just where the hell have you been?"

"Break out the beer, Sammy," Dean says, clapping his hand on Sam's shoulder. "I just made an honest angel outta Cas."

Sam's confusion is worth the entire trip.

"Yeah, but...eternity? I mean...all of eternity?"

Sam's expression is still shell-shocked thirty minutes after Dean tells him what he and Castiel have done. The two now sit across from each other in a booth, two empty glasses between them. Castiel is at the bar, a slight frown on his face as the bartender tries to figure out his order.

"It's not as bad as it sounds," Dean promises. Sam just stares at him.

"Dean...eternity is endless. Forever and ever and ever attached to Castiel's side. Do you even understand what that means? You will always be with Castiel."

Dean doesn't like Sam's tone. He sounds dismayed, as if Dean had sold his soul to another demon instead of gotten married.

"You got a problem with Cas?"

Sam's mouth opens and closes. "Dude, that's...not what I'm talking about. Although, yeah, about that. A marriage is not a friendship. And since when do you do anything other than friendship with guys?"

"It's not a regular marriage, Sam," Dean defends. "We aren't like married married."

Sam tries to interrupt, but Dean leans forward, cutting him off.

"Look, Cas had to get married or the dicks upstairs were going to cause him some problems. So I'm doing him a favor, okay? It's not like we're going to go have some big romantic honeymoon. Nothing's gonna change from before."

"Oh okay, so everything's exactly the same," Sam says, crossing his arms over his chest. "Nothing at all will change."

Dean nods, though he has a feeling it will only encourage whatever counter-argument Sam is about to spring on him. "Pretty much."

"Alright then, what happens when some hot girl comes on to you? Are you going to cheat on Cas? Because if you're, I'm sorry, bound to each other in the eyes of Heaven itself, it would be cheating, right?"

"I don't know!" An unpleasant feeling uncurls in Dean's chest. "How the fuck should I know? Cas said it didn't have to be physical and he sure as shit can't expect me to never have sex again," he says, but it just makes the unpleasant sensation grow. For all his womanizing ways, Dean's never been a cheater. Being disloyal rarely even occurs to him.

"Okay, fine. So what about Castiel?" Sam asks.

Dean frowns at him. "What about him?"

"How're you going to feel when he finds some nice woman to give him a little thrill?"

Dean's eyes snap to where Castiel is patiently waiting for the bartender to mix his complicated drink order. For some reason, Dean feels a pulse of relief. Like he'd been worried that Castiel was doing...something. He doesn't know what.

"Cas doesn't care about women, Sam," Dean says firmly. "Trust me, I know that first hand. Especially not now that he's angel'd up again."

"How do you I even want to ask?"

Dean shakes his head. "Probably not."

Instead of questioning him, Sam taps his index finger on the table and appears to think very hard for a long moment.


"What if it were a guy?"

Dean's stomach clenches. "What are you talking about?"

Sam looks up and meets Dean's eyes with a deadly serious look in his own. "You said that other angel had a male form and then he married you. Did it ever occur to you that Castiel might just like men? And if you two are doing this open-relationship thing, that maybe he'll find another guy to screw around with?"

"Look," Dean says angrily. "Cas isn't interested in sex at all. Period."

Except when Dean looks over at the bar, Castiel isn't alone anymore. He's chatting to a tall man with a broad chest and handsome face. Chatting and smiling. Castiel doesn't smile. Dean's standing from his chair before he realizes why and even then, he can't stop himself. He hears Sam mutter, "Oh yeah, this is going to work great," behind him as he marches up to the bar.

"Hey, what's up?" he says and even Dean knows how stupid he looks, slinging his arm around Castiel's shoulder like some kind of alpha male douche bag. But Castiel doesn't want sex. And since Dean already tried to push him into it, he's obligated to protect him from horny jerkwads who come sniffing around Castiel in dingy bars.

The guy gives him an odd look and backs away. "Um, I was just chatting with your...?"

"My husband," Dean says. Which feels incredibly fucking weird, but it certainly sends the message. Probably not the one Dean wanted to send though. The guy's eyes widen and he snags up his drink, practically running back to his table and what looks like his girlfriend. A different type of angry emotion rushes through Dean.

"Dickwad," he growls.

"You are not actually my husband," Castiel says, his eyes on Dean's shoulder pressed so close to his. "Not in the human manner. Perhaps it would be easier for you if you refrained from using that term."

"So ashamed of me?" Dean says and it's a joke as he starts to say it, but by the time it comes out, he's actually worried.

"Of course not," Castiel says. He leans into Dean's one-armed hug and gives him a slight smile. "You may refer to me with any title you choose."

"Right," Dean says. The ease with which Castiel melts into his side makes Dean uncomfortable. It's not right. That's not their relationship. But he so rarely sees Castiel looking relaxed. feels nice. He swallows hard.

"You don't care if I fuck other people, right?"

Castiel stiffens and suddenly Dean is holding a statue. His arm, now useless, slips off Castiel's shoulder. "I have no claim over your physical urges," he intones. "You should do whatever you desire with them."

"Yeah, okay."

So that's that sorted out. Sam should be happy. As Dean turns and trudges back to his table, he can't help wondering why he doesn't feel all that happy about it.

Dean is mostly right. The bond doesn't really change much between him and Castiel. They still go hunting, they still fight over what Dean eats, they still stay together until Dean is so exhausted his eyelids fall shut without his permission.

As far as he knows, Castiel goes home to check in with his family when Dean and Sam are asleep. He never asks because hey, a guy's entitled to some privacy, right?

Every now and again, Sam gives Dean a searching look, that expression that always means he's really worried, but unwilling to get into a bitch fight with Dean. It bugs the shit out of Dean, but since he's not willing to fight either, he ignores Sam. Everything's going fine, so his worry is a complete waste of time anyway.

It's about three weeks after the bond ceremony that Dean realizes he was really fucking stupid to believe that.

It's not like Dean isn't counting his sense of Castiel as a change. That curious warm sensation which signifies Castiel's presence just doesn't make itself known very often. If Dean doesn't poke at it, then he hardly notices it. And Dean tries very hard not to poke at it. Castiel never says anything about that part of their connection, so Dean assumes he's not very affected by it either.

Then one day, they're on a hunt and something happens that makes it impossible to ignore the connection.

The case revolves around a broken down old house in small town Indiana. A bunch of local kids had landed in the hospital because of some stupid dare to fuck around in the house, so Dean and Sam decide to clean out whatever is haunting the place. A pretty simple case, but like with any hunt, things can turn dangerous without warning.

It's Dean's fault. He loses his concentration for a split second, his focus on where Sam is cursing about something on the floor below him. Castiel is standing right next to Sam, so Dean knows he'll be fine. But it doesn't stop his heart from thudding in his chest.

"You okay?" he shouts over the dust-covered railing that lines a sweeping staircase. His shouting keeps Dean from hearing the pissed-off ghost until it's pushing him hard over the edge.

Adrenaline blanks Dean's mind. There's no emotions of his own and the only vague thought in his brain is, this is going to fucking hurt. But all of that is nothing compared to the pounding of hard panicked fear pulsing into him. Heating up that warm sensation, curling into a tight knot and right before Dean hits the ground, he thinks, Oh, it's Cas.

The landing doesn't hurt. It's like falling into a cushion of air and when Dean sits up, he realizes he's half leaning into Castiel's arms.


Castiel is on his knees, his eyes wide, his hand trembling lightly on Dean's shoulder.

"Don't do that," he snarls. "You cannot. You must not..." He's so upset that he can't talk. Dean's impressed. He's never seen Castiel like this before. Their connection jumps and quivers, clogged with Castiel's fear. Without thinking, Dean touches it softly.

"Hey," he says. His touch turns calming, soothing. "I'm okay. Alright? I'm fine."

"Just because you believe we will have grand adventures in Heaven does not mean you should be so eager to see it," Castiel lectures. Over his shoulder, Sam's eyes are huge and more worried than ever, but again, Dean ignores him. He helps Castiel to his feet and grins at him.

"It's your fault for making it sound so awesome."

After that, the restriction on their bond loosens. He's not sure why. Something about the power of Castiel's emotions or the way Dean feels too empty when Castiel tries to draw away. Whatever it is, Dean finds himself touching the bond all the time. When he's amused by something and wants Castiel to laugh along with him. When he's annoyed, he opens the bond completely so Castiel will be left in no doubt of how ticked off he feels. It becomes an addiction. Because every single emotion, every moment of boredom, hunger, happiness, or anger, is eagerly soaked up by Castiel. Like he actually thinks Dean's mood shifts are interesting. Like he actually cares about Dean's irrational disgust of lima beans or the incredible pleasure he gets from putting Sam's hand in warm water while he sleeps.

And soon enough, Castiel begins to return the favor. Arriving from Heaven one day, Castiel starts ranting about the way his brothers are handling some crisis and Dean feels Castiel's frustration swirling around him. One afternoon Dean and Sam decide to spend away from hunting, Dean suddenly realizes the deep swell of affection he feels is not his own and when he looks up from the video game he's playing against Sam, Castiel is gazing at both brothers with a slight smile on his lips.

The back and forth becomes so natural Dean can't even remember a time before he could whip anger at the bond and get a cool peaceful feeling from Castiel in return.

Dean doesn't notice the effect it's having on him until Sam starts commenting on it.

"You're different lately," he says one afternoon while they eat lunch outside a fast-food place.

"Different awesome?" Dean asks.

Sam snorts. "Yeah, kinda. You're...I don't know. Lighter?"

"What does that even mean?"

Sam sips his drink for a moment. "I don't know. You've always just seemed you were carrying this massive weight and it's...just gone, you know?"

Dean dunks his fry in ketchup. "Huh," he says.

He can feel Sam's eyeroll.

Dean's man enough to recognize that his relationship with Castiel is more than a friendship. But to be fair, he thinks the same could be said for any relationship where both parties can actually sense each other's emotions. As far as he's concerned, it's just a perk and it still doesn't change anything important.

Not until a few weeks down the road when the itch starts.

There's no other word for it. Dean wakes up one morning with an odd bothersome feeling, like he's forgotten to do something important. It persists all through the day, distracting him so much during the hunt that he ends up drenched with water by a mocking poltergeist. Sam snaps at him to clear his head, but when Dean reaches out for Castiel to help soothe the feeling, he finds the bond closed to him.

Dean waits until Sam is sequestered away with his laptop and a bunch of saved up episodes of Doctor Who before confronting Castiel.

"You wanna tell me why you're all clenched up today?"

"What do you mean?" Castiel asks in a very unconvincing casual tone.

"Don't try that crap on me," Dean snaps, but then he doesn't know what to say. It's the first time either of them will have mentioned the way they are slowly weaving their emotions together. If they talk about it, it might become a big deal and Dean doesn't want it be a big deal. It's just the way things are.

"It's not crap," Castiel says stiffly. "If you'll pardon me, I have business in Heaven." And then he's gone without another word, leaving Dean alone in more ways than one.

Dean is so out of sorts that night he ends up yelling at Sam and going to get drunk at a nearby bar. A couple of hot girls eye him, but his expression is so stormy no one talks to him the entire night and Dean's just fine and dandy with that.

The evening is made all the worse when the troublesome feeling deepens into outright discomfort. It's a formless need, an ache for something Dean doesn't understand or know how to satisfy. The only thing he can think to do is drink more beer. Try and drown it out and when that doesn't work, Dean ends up staggering back to the motel room, so utterly shit-faced he doesn't know which way is up.

When he finally pours himself into the motel room, Sam takes one look at him and sighs heavily.

"Everything will be fine, Sam," he says in a pissy tone as he helps Dean to the bathroom. "Nothing's going to change at all, Sam."

"Shup," Dean manages right before he pukes all over the counter. It's the last thing he remembers from the evening.

He wakes up the next afternoon to heated whispers. Dean can't understand the words through the pounding in his skull and for a second, he thinks he's in the midst of a massive hangover. And while he does feel the effects of one, it only takes a moment to realize the real pain is from that itching feeling.

It is now a soul-deep craving, a devastating yearning that turns Dean's insides to ice. He can't move, can't think. All he can do is want so hard it hurts.

" something, okay? I can't even get him to wake up! Something's wrong," he hears and he grasps for the words, trying to find anything to anchor himself. His bond to Castiel is still shut and Dean can't believe he ever didn't have it. God, how had he possibly survived this silence? Another voice joins the first. Deep and gruff. Familiar. Dean turns towards it, hardly able to lift his head, but trying his best to get closer.

"You should go," it says. "This should stay a private matter."

There's a brief pause of no sounds and then Dean hears the door open and close. Seconds later, a warm weight settles on his shoulder and the bed dips.


It's Castiel. With a great deal of effort, Dean drags his head off the bed and drops it in Castiel's lap.

"Don't feel good," he murmurs.

Castiel strokes a hand through his hair. "Yes, I know. I'm so sorry, Dean. I should have known it would be worse for a human."

"Worse?" The hand on his head feels so good. It eases the ache inside him a touch. Not nearly enough, but it helps calm Dean.

"The mating bond," Castiel answers quietly. "I had hoped we'd be spared the pull because you're a human, but unfortunately, that's only made it worse."

"Thought we'd already did the mating thing," Dean says into Castiel's thigh. His body is relaxing a little now, though the clawing emptiness inside him hasn't abated.

"That was the initial connection. But the bond demands more," Castiel explains. His tone makes Dean feel sad for some reason. It's full of deep regret. Dean reaches out and lays his hand on Castiel's knee. When he starts talking again, Dean notices that Castiel's voice sounds slightly more breathy.

"The reason for the bonds is that Angels carry the need to join their Grace to another. Like a human needs emotional and physical love," he says.

"Don't have grace," Dean says sadly.

It actually makes Castiel chuckle softly.

"Yes, I know. It doesn't seem to matter."

Dean starts drawing shapes on Castiel's knee. "That why you cut me off?"

For a moment, Castiel doesn't say anything. The hand in Dean's hair smoothes down to his neck where Castiel lets it stay, a comforting weight on Dean's bare skin.

"Yes. I didn't want to burden you with my needs. I did not realize you were experiencing it as well."

"Should have said something," Dean says. He prods the bond, eager to share his irritation with Castiel and to his immense relief, Castiel opens the connection once more. His annoyance is swept away under the barrage of want, both familiar and foreign, the shape of Castiel's desire for this grace mating. Dean gasps at the intensity.

It's unlike anything he's ever felt. Similar to sexual desire in fervor, but wholly mental. His breathing picks up and his stomach tightens, but otherwise, his body is unaffected. His emotions, on the other hand, are in chaos. He reaches for Castiel, tugging hard on the connection, nearly mindless with desire.

"Please," he whimpers. "Cas, please."

Suddenly, Cas is pushing him, rolling him to the middle of the bed and sliding in next to him, one leg thrown over both of Dean's. His hands clamp around the side of Dean's face and he presses their foreheads together.

"Are you sure?" he pants. Dean turns into him, twining their legs together.

"Yes, yes, c'mon," he urges. "Please, now."

Castiel lets go.

The full force of their bond slams into Dean. For the first time, he realizes how much Castiel has been holding back. What he's feeling now can't be anything, but Castiel's very Grace flowing in and around Dean. Something within him draws on the grace greedily and the nagging sensation he's been carrying fades under the onslaught of shocking satisfaction.

But while the itch is fading, another feeling is building. Dean wants more, tugs harder, drawing on as much of Castiel's grace as he can. Everything that is Castiel, his thoughts and feelings, his beliefs and desires, all of it fills Dean's head to bursting and not if he had a thousand years could he sort through each individual emotion. The only one that Dean can truly grasp, the most overwhelming of all is an intense feeling of possessiveness. And instead of running away, instead of thinking of all the reasons why it should scare the shit out of him, Dean dives into it, so very eager to belong.

The moment Dean pours himself into the claim, the feeling that's been building explodes into a climax that's both like and utterly unlike a sexual one. As much as Dean loves a good orgasm, it's nothing compared to this feeling. Pleasure overpowers him, racing across his skin and lifting hairs, but settled fully in his chest. Like all the love he's ever known compressed into one singular moment in time and it's too much.

Dean passes out.

When he wakes up again, his cheek is pressed against Castiel's chest.

They've changed positions while he was out. Or rather Castiel has manhandled him into a different position. Castiel is leaning against the headboard and Dean is propped up against him. Castiel's hand is still in his hair. The motion of his hand is so very relaxing that Dean considers falling asleep, but then he remembers.

Weird soul sex.

He sits up.

"What the fuck was that?" he asks.

His voice is raspy as if he spend the night screaming through sex instead of whispering embarrassing pleas against Castiel's leg. His face burns with embarrassment, but when he tries to turn away, Castiel catches his wrist, holding him tight. There is something different about the way he is looking at Dean. There's no sign of hesitation, that ever present barrier that Dean didn't even recognize until it was gone.


"That was a grace sharing. Or in this case, a grace-soul sharing. I had not realized how powerful it would be," he answers, his eyes heavy on Dean's face.

Now that he's not hiding anything, Dean can see love plain in Castiel's expression. Love and ownership and raw hunger.

He jerks out of Castiel's grasp and struggles off the bed.

"Okay, well, that was fucking weird," he says, even though that's not the word for it at all. "Got that shitty itchy feeling to stop, so thanks."

And then he charges into the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.

He doesn't come back out until he's certain Castiel is gone.

By the time Sam comes back to the motel room, Dean is dressed and ready to go.

"What are you doing?" Sam asks, confused and worried. "Are you okay?"

"Just peachy, Sam," Dean says and he grins at him as he shrugs into a button down shirt. "We're going out tonight."

"Out? You were pretty sick. I couldn't wake you up. What the hell happened?"

Dean can see Sam's fear is still gathered in his chest. He knows the feeling well, that hard knot that sits like a block of ice below your ribcage. But there's no reason for it now. Dean claps a hand on Sam's shoulder, leaving it long enough for a tight squeeze.

"Cas did his angel ER thing on me, okay? I was sick, yeah, but I'm fine now. And I want to try that bar again."

"After how sick you were?" Sam says incredulously.

Dean snorts. "Not for the drinks, Sammy boy." He wags his eyebrows at him. "For the ladies."

"Dean," Sam sighs. "I really don't want to do that."

Dean pulls on his dark brown leather coat and checks his own reflection in the mirror. Nice, he thinks. Considering how sick he was a few short hours ago, Dean cleans up pretty good. He slicks down an errant piece of hair.

"Why not? You giving up on chicks?"

"I'm talking about going to help you cheat on Cas," Sam snaps, his arms crossing over his chest. In the mirror, Dean can see a first-rate version of the bitch face forming on Sam's face. He rolls his eyes.

"It's not cheating. I already told you that. Now look," he says, spinning around. "You can sit here and mope about Cas or you can come out with me and have fun." Before Sam can stop him, Dean pats the side of his face. "Because I'm going whether you come or not."

"You're a jerk, you know that?" Sam grouses. Dean swerves around him and throws open the door.

"Love me, love my faults, Sammy," he tosses back over his shoulder. He hears low cursing following him all the way to the Impala.

The bar is filled to bursting and to Dean's delight, he spots some of the same attractive women who were eyeing him the night before. A couple turn away when he lays on the charming grin. Oh right. He was a dick last night. Better stick with the new girls.

Sam isn't really helping matters. His expression is as angry as Dean's was the previous night.

"Ease up, will you?" Dean mutters under his breath. "Quit looking at me like I ate a baby. I haven't even done anything yet."

"This is wrong," Sam says back, his voice a low harsh whisper. "Cas cares about you and I'm sorry if you're too stupid to notice it, but you care about him too."

"Never said I didn't," Dean says as they reach the bar. "There's a lot of people I care about that I don't consult about who I fuck. You, for instance," he adds.

He doesn't care what Sam says. Dean needs this. He needs things to be normal again. The bond is closed up tight, shut down from Dean's side. It's making him think and do crazy shit. It doesn't matter what Castiel thinks. He said this damned marriage wasn't really a marriage and Dean's not been laid for months. All he needs is one amazing night. One good hard fuck and he'll be good as new.

Dean ignores the long-suffering sigh from his right and orders a beer. The bartender is pretty cute, but Dean doesn't do much more than give her a wink. He needs someone who can leave at any time.

Turning on his barstool, Dean starts surveying the available women. His eyes skip over the girls sitting or dancing with men. Too much chance the guys are boyfriends or husbands. There are a few larger groups of women, but Dean does his best work on girls sitting alone, the ones obviously hoping to be approached.

"See anything you like?" he says to Sam, just to be polite.

Sam glares at him over his glass of water. "I guess I should look since I'm the only one here who's not married," he grunts. Dean snorts.

It's not like Dean wants to be accused of cheating. But if Dean doesn't concentrate on this, on the familiarity of picking up a convenient girl, his mind will stray. Even now, the seal he's placed over the bond trembles and bucks, his emotions desperate to reconnect. Dean physically shakes himself.

"I'm going to go talk to blondie over there," he struggles to say, nodding towards a pretty blond-haired girl who's probably way too young for him. At least that'd never be a problem with Cas, Dean thinks idly as he stalks over to her table.

He feels Sam's eyes on the back of his head the entire way.

"Hey," Dean says to her. Unfortunately, his thoughts are still troubled with Sam's suspicion and the whole mess with Castiel. Her expression changes from boredom to faint alarm at his gruff tone and obvious distress. Very quickly, he plasters on that charming smile that's served him so well in the past.

"Sorry. It's been one of those days. Buy you a drink to make up for it?"

She considers him briefly, then slowly lets her stance relax. Her smile, when it comes, is lovely. "Sure, I guess. If your day's been that bad, you probably need the drink."

"You have no idea," Dean says as he drops into the chair opposite her and signals a waiter to their table. After their drink orders are in, he smiles at her again, this time more softly. "I'm Dean."

"Tara," she offers. "You don't sound like a local."

"Good ears," Dean says and it's the perfect opening. "I'm just in town for the night. Thought I'd see what the town had to offer by way of entertainment." In other words, if we spend the night getting to know each other, it's only going to be the one night. The message is obviously received because there's a knowing gleam now shining in her light blue eyes.

Too light, Dean thinks. Castiel's are a much deeper blue.

"Right," he says hurriedly. "So Tara. I guess you live around here. What do you do?"

"I'm a counselor," she answers. Dean's almost laughs. That's about as far from Cas as you can get. Not that he's trying to find the opposite of Cas. It's just a coincidence.

"I'm surprised," Tara says. She leans forward in that purposeful way women do when they want men to look down their shirts. Dean obliges her. "Most guys look pretty squeamish when they find out what I do."

"Why? You're not going to analyze me, are you?" Dean can't say the thought is all that comforting, but he doesn't exactly plan on spilling his guts to her. They don't need a lot of words for what he plans to do.

"Actually, I had something else in mind," she says and when she looks up at him through lowered eyelashes and reaches over to trace the tip of her fingers over his hand, Dean knows he's in. Tara would go home with him. She'd go back to his motel room and it'd be oh so good. An evening spent with a gorgeous woman. It's been far too long since Dean gave into his physical desires, since he lost himself in heat and pleasure. And in the end, it wouldn't mean much of anything, but for one night, he could sink into a willing body and it could be incredible.

As Dean stares down at her slender fingers and thinks about those hands skimming over his body, Dean knows without a doubt it'd never work. No matter how good Tara makes him feel, it'd be nothing compared to how Castiel made him feel that morning.

Her fingers abruptly lift off Dean's hand.

"Well," she says, sounding bewildered. "That's not exactly the reaction I was expecting."

Obviously Dean's expression must have shown some of his growing dismay. "No! I mean, it's not-"

But Dean doesn't really know what to say. He can't possibly explain that he's afraid his angelic husband has ruined him for sex with humans, but he doesn't think he can go home with her either. So he falls into a troubled silence.

"It really has been a bad day, huh?" she asks.

Dean snorts and in spite of himself, some of his tension eases under the lightness of her tone.

"I'm sorry," he offers and he really is. Both for leading her on and because nothing's ever going to be the same now.

"Dean, you look terrified," Tara says, her voice now laced with clear worry. Dean flushes with embarrassment. This is not how he imagined this conversation going.

"I should probably just..." he says, jerking a thumb over his shoulder towards the door, but Tara's hand once again descends on his own.

"Are you sure? I mean, I don't want to go counselor mode on you, but you really do look upset. Are you okay?"

"Yeah, no, I'm fine," he struggles to say, feeling like an idiot. "I just probably shouldn't have come out tonight."

"So why did you?" she asks before he can escape.


"Well, if there's somewhere else you really wanted to be...why aren't you there?"

Dean stares at her. "I don't...I don't know," he says, honest for the first time that night.

She smiles and squeezes his hand. "Look, I am going to go counselor for a minute, so bear with me. Running away from your problems rarely works. And if there's a girl out there you'd rather be with, you should be there instead of getting my hopes up because you are seriously hot, Dean," she jokes. It's impossible for Dean not to smirk at that comment.

"I'll be sure to tell the, uh, the girl that," Dean says. For the sake of his sanity, he's glad his slight verbal hiccup goes unnoticed. "I really am sorry," he says again.

She shrugs. "You're forgiven."

It's a wrench to walk away from her. There's a part of Dean that still wants that mindless no-strings-attached pleasure and Tara finding Dean so attractive makes her even more desirable. But he walks away regardless. Because Dean doesn't want to be in the middle of screwing this woman and instinctively reach for a connection she can't complete.

"Where are you going?" Sam asks as Dean passes him.

"Motel," Dean grunts. Sam's at his side immediately and Dean can feel the smugness wafting off him.

"I knew you couldn't do it," he gloats. "You're too good for that."

The only reason Dean doesn't snap at him is because he can't believe Sam still feels that way about him after all the shit he's done. So they walk to the car and then drive back to the motel in a silence made comfortable by Sam's pride and Dean's relief.

"I'm getting another room," Sam announces when they get back.

"What? Why?"

"Because," Sam says as he starts to pack his things. "You need to talk to Castiel."

Dean immediately begins pacing, trying to walk off the nervous tension that suddenly climbs into his body.

"I don't see why," he says. "I can't...he's not..."

"You can and he is," Sam says, though he can't possibly know what Dean was going to say because Dean himself doesn't know.

"What exactly do you think is going to happen here?"

Sam zips up his bag. "Look, Dean, if you want him, you want him," he declares, as if unburdening a heavy weight from his shoulders. His expression is sympathetic, but utterly firm. "It's not what you expected in life, but it's what you got. Pushing it away makes you a coward at best and a fool at worst. I can't sit here my whole life and listen to you be sad all over the place when there's already something that actually makes you really happy. So I'm not going to. Call Cas and just talk to him."

And with that, Sam strides out the door without giving Dean a chance to form a convincing counter argument.

Dean doesn't call Castiel for a very long time. Instead, he lays on his bed and stares at the ceiling, thinking. Or rather trying not to think. The bond presses on him, calling for his attention and for the connection to Castiel. It would be very easy to reach out for Castiel and knowing him, he'd be at Dean's side without hesitation, despite the way Dean ran out on him that morning.

He shakes himself. There's two things for Dean to fear. Admitting to an attraction that changes the way Dean thinks about himself. Or giving up what he'd felt that morning. Giving up the relationship developing between himself and Castiel.

Really, giving up Castiel altogether. Because Dean's not sure he can be near Castiel and not reach for the bond.

All his life, the one thing Dean wanted more than anything was the warmth and safety he had before his mother died in that house fire. He wanted someone who could mean the world to him and who felt the same way about Dean. But he always believed he could never have it, even when he tried to make it happen. That life wasn't the one meant for Dean and he'd just have to accept it.

But then Castiel came and saved him. So many times that Dean's lost track, Castiel has been there, even when Dean pushed him away. Even when Castiel had to leave to take care of problems in Heaven, he was there when Dean needed him again. Getting closer all the time, so close they could actually share emotions and still Castiel isn't tired of him. Still, he's fascinated and still he worries about Dean. Cares for him and keeps him safe. Still he loves him even more than Dean always wished someone would. Everything Dean's ever wanted his whole life and like the fool Sam warned him against becoming, Dean's pushed him away because the package is unexpected. Because he's afraid of accepting a part of himself that's been there since long before he ever met Castiel.

Dean hates being afraid.

And what's more, he hates giving into fear. He's Dean Winchester, for God's sake. The man who rushes into certain death situations without a second's hesitation.

Being afraid of Castiel would ruin his reputation for life.

He whips a hard pulse of excitement at the bond and in his head, Dean imagines himself in a shower room, cracking a towel at Castiel's naked ass. The first pulse is then abruptly followed by a sharp zing of desire.

Castiel appears in the room almost immediately.

"What are you doing?" he asks with no small amount of suspicion. And also a healthy dose of interest. Dean's extremely delayed realization unlocks something inside his head. A whirl of thoughts he'd never acknowledge before pound into his brain. Thoughts about how Castiel's breaths shallow, the way he flicks his eyes down Dean's body, how much Dean likes the careless way Castiel's tie hangs slightly undone because it means Dean can stare at his bared throat.

"Summoning your ass down here," Dean says. "We need to talk."

"About what?"

Instead of answering, Dean stalks towards Castiel and allows the full brunt of his desire to fall heavy on the bond. He is met with resistance from Castiel's side and Dean can see it's straining Castiel to hold him at bay.

"You ran from me," Castiel accuses.

Dean doesn't need the bond to see he's hurt Castiel. He remembers the way Castiel looked at him after the grace-sharing. Relieved of his barriers and ready to give Dean everything. Castiel's moment of realization had been that morning and Dean had abandoned him. He can only hope Castiel won't do the same, now that Dean's finally had his own realization.

"Yeah, I did." He very slowly reaches across between them to place his hand over Castiel's heart. "You know me. I do everything the hard way."

"That is very true," Castiel agrees, his tone distracted. His gaze falls to Dean's hand. "I don't understand what you want from me."

Dean doesn't know how to say it.

But the thing is, he doesn't need to know.

In and around the desire, Dean carefully threads the reality of his feelings. Words he can't even think, not sure he'll ever be able to say, but knows he can't hide from Castiel. The moment the emotions softly knock against the bond, asking for entry, offering themselves to be taken or tossed aside at Castiel's pleasure, Dean feels the resistance give way.

"Oh," Castiel says, sounding vaguely confused. Dean laughs.

"Man, we suck at this so damned bad," he says.

Castiel ignores this comment. With strength that startles Dean, Castiel clutches at his hand and stares up at him with sudden hope in that unwavering gaze of his.

"You want a human bond," he says slowly, as if sounding it out. Dean nods. "You wish to...share human intimacies."

"Yeah," Dean says gruffly because he needs Castiel to understand he really means that part.

Tendrils of an odd unrecognizable emotion curl across the bond, an answer to the desire Dean gave Castiel. It doesn't feel the same as lust, but the sensation is similar. A kind of want, so profound and depthless that Dean momentarily struggles against it. But it's while he's touching it so hard, trying to force it away that Dean finally understands it.

Castiel wants to please Dean. He wants to please Dean so much it nearly consumes him, but he doesn't know how. He doesn't understand how human pleasure functions, doesn't even know if his body can work that way. Relief and excitement roll together in Dean's chest. This problem, he can handle. Dean abruptly stops fighting Castiel's unusual alien desire and lets it flow over the bond, encouraging his excitement into the beginnings of true arousal.

"Don't worry, Cas," he says as he moves closer, his words whispered against Castiel's mouth.

"I've got you now."

"We're back!"

Not that Dean needs the announcement. He'd already felt Castiel's quiet flare of relief at a job well-done. From there, it takes only seconds for him to transport himself and Sam back to the house.

"In here," Dean shouts from the living room where he's presumably watching a game on television, but has in reality been dozing all afternoon. It's his day off, damnit and Dean intends to enjoy it.

"You lazy ass," Sam accuses when he sees the way Dean is sprawled across the couch.

Dean just shrugs. "I couldn't be happier about it," he says. "Did you kill a ghost?"

"It wasn't a ghost," Castiel informs him. He's standing at Sam's side, rigid as ever and Dean smiles. "It was a witches' spell masquerading as a deceased spirit."

"Oh good, I missed the witch. Thank God."

Sam rolls his eyes.

"And we're fine, thanks," he says on his way through the living room towards his bedroom. Once he's gone, Dean looks back to Castiel, eyebrows raised, his question asked along the bond.

"We are both fine," Castiel confirms.

"Right." Dean scoots towards the back of the couch and pats the empty space he creates. Castiel immediately comes to sit alongside him and Dean slips his hand in under Castiel's trenchcoat.

"So it's my day off," he says, the bond now thrumming with teasing humor and the barest hint of desire.

"I am well aware of that," Castiel says.

"I get to have fun on my day off," Dean answers, very seriously.

"And this is your ill-disguised way of requesting sex," Castiel surmises. Dean snorts. Three years in and Castiel's frankness still amuses him. With no reason to be coy, Dean loads the bond up with super-charged arousal. His reward is a sudden lapful of angel.

"Oh, look," he says, tilting his head as Castiel mouths under his ear. "It worked."

"Hush," Castiel orders and Dean doesn't say a word. Not with his mouth anyway.

As usual, he lets the bond do the talking.