A/N: Hey, everybody! Did ya miss me? Didja?

*crickets*

Oh. Well. Anyways. I did National Novel Writing Month and wrote an awful, terrible novel - much worse than any fanfiction I've ever written, that's for sure. BUT, I still wrote a novel in a month and for that I am proud. Someday, that hulking pile of a mess may be rewritten into something readable. However, in the meantime I returned to my literary version of comfort food - Dean/Cas. A little angsty with some humor and hopefully tied up with the fluffiest of fluffy bows. I don't know where this particular story is actually going, and updates will likely be very, very slow (I'm in the last two weeks of the semester at college), but I'm happy to be back in my element. Enjoy!

Oh, and please review. Your feedback is like the sweet ambrosia of the gods to me, and has been scientifically proven to increase my typing speed by 20 percent.*

*By "scientifically proven", I mean "in no way empirically supported".


Dean stood under the showerhead and let the hot water run down his back. He wasn't washing, just standing, just – being. He closed his eyes, and pressed a hand to the cool tile on the wall.

Having a soulless brother was tough. It was almost worse than not having a brother at all. At least back then he knew that he was alone, that Sam wasn't there to back him up. Now – he was never sure. Dean had thought he couldn't trust him after the demon blood debacle; now, he was afraid that the second Sam was out of his sight he'd be murdering civilians and kicking puppies. He was a friggin' sociopath, and he wasn't Sam, and honestly, Dean just needed to lock him up and keep him from fucking them both over until he got his real brother back.

Couldn't lock him up, though. He was too strong and too smart. He'd just break out, and then he'd be pissed, and who knew what he'd do.

It frightened the hell out of Dean.

It was relieving, actually, to admit that. Dean was scared out of his goddamn melon of what Sam might do. He was on guard every second, always keenly aware of where Sam was in the room and what he was doing, like he was in the middle of one big hunt and Sam was his oversized, hyper-intelligent prey – who could easily become his predator. Funny thing was, Dean knew exactly who he wanted by his side in this kind of situation, who he wanted to be waiting in the car outside, who he wanted backing him up and pulling the last-minute rescue out of his ass, and it was his brother.

These days, Dean never missed Sam more than when he was staring him in the face.

Made him feel a little better about the fact that Sam had waited a year to see him, though. Kid was soulless. Of course he'd been able to stay away that long. On the other hand, Bobby had no damn excuse for keeping him in the dark. Gave him some shit about not wanting to interfere with the family Dean was building…

Lisa's voice echoed in his mind. As soon as he walked in the door, I knew.

Dean clenched his jaw, and his fingertips dug into the grout. Are we that fucked up? Are we really so goddamn toxic to each other that I can't have Sam and a life of my own?

In his heart of hearts, he knew the answer was yes. As long as he and Sam were alive, they were going to drag the other wherever they went, back and forth across the earth like two dogs playing tug-of-war. Because neither of them could let go of that damn rope, not ever.

Sam was dragging him to hell and back, and Dean wouldn't let go.

"Hello, Dean."

His eyes snapped open.

There, standing mere inches away in the spray of the shower, his tan trench coat getting completely soaked, was Cas.

Dean jumped backwards and barely avoided slipping and cracking his head open. "The fuck!" he swore, grabbing the shower curtain and clutching it to himself in a fit of modesty. The water was spraying everywhere but he didn't care. "Get the fuck out of my shower!"

Cas held his gaze, cocked his head ever so slightly (totally unbothered by the rivulets of water streaming down his face), and asked in the least sincere voice ever, "I'm sorry, am I interrupting something?"

Oh, that little bastard. He knew exactly what he was doing. He'd been around the block enough times to know that it was not okay to sneak up on Dean naked and he'd done it purposefully just to piss him off. Dean wasn't sure just when he'd learned sarcasm, but he recognized it well from that dystopian future he'd glimpsed where Cas referred to him exclusively as "our fearless leader."

Seething, Dean turned off the water and groped for his towel. He wrapped it around his waist and used his hand to wipe the water off his face.

Cas, of course, was instantly dry.

"Is there something you wanted?" Dean demanded. "Or is it too much to ask for five minutes of peace?"

"You were in there for half an hour," Cas noted dryly. "I got tired of waiting."

Dean felt his eyes widen. "You were watching me?" he asked incredulously.

Cas frowned. "No. Well, not the entire time."

Dean growled and poked his finger in Cas's chest. "Look, I've had quite the week. I was abducted and nearly probed by fairies while my brother nailed some alien groupie and then I got beat up in my jail cell by an invisible homeless dude and you didn't lift a damn finger. So whatever it is you want, you can just shove it. I've got bigger problems on my plate."

Cas's eyes hardened. "Why is it my responsibility to be your personal bodyguard? In case you haven't noticed, Dean, you are the one constantly asking favors and I am the one who is perpetually expected to supply them!"

"Because that's how our relationship works!" Dean exclaimed, gesticulating in exasperation with his hands. "I need help, I have problems, you have angel mojo, you help fix them. Trust me, if I had any kind of freaky superpowers I would pay back the favor, but I don't. So I really don't see what you expect me to do!"

Cas narrowed his eyes, stepped forward and into Dean's personal bubble, and said evenly in a low, gravelly voice, "Oh, I think you know exactly how you can pay me back."

Dean stared, and for a second his brain stopped working.

He can't –

Is he seriously implying that –

The shower

Finally he managed to choke out an insanely disbelieving, "What?"

"The weapons stolen from God's armory," Cas continued tersely. "I need you to help me track them down."

Oh, of course. Dean mentally breathed a huge sigh of relief, and every muscle in his body relaxed. He'd just doing what Sam always accused him of and confusing porn with real life. Of course Cas hadn't been implying that. It was friggin' Cas.

"I am losing the war in heaven, and if Raphael kills me, I will no longer be able to, as you say, 'fix your problems' with my 'angel mojo.'" He used the same air quotes that he'd whipped out when they were working on that plague case, and it almost distracted Dean from the seriousness of what he was actually saying. "I have already given you so much more than you can ever hope to repay, so don't act as though I'm the selfish one here."

"Cas." Dean ran a hand through his mussed, wet hair and rubbed his neck. "I want to help you, I do. Raphael is a total dick, and nobody wants him running the show, especially me." He glanced past Cas to make sure that the door was still closed, and lowered his voice. "But Sam doesn't have a soul, and Crowley's trying to extort us, and the two people who saw me through one of the hardest times in my life think I'm a monster. I am just as royally fucked as you are, the sand is running just as fast through my hourglass, and my life is my priority right now. I'm sorry, but I can't help you."

Cas's face fell, and his brows furrowed upwards, making his blue eyes sad and pained. "Dean. You know that I wouldn't come to you unless I'd exhausted all my other options." He reached forward and put an imploring hand to Dean's arm, his fingers falling squarely on the scar that he'd left there years ago. "If you have ever considered me a friend, then believe me now when I tell you this: I need you."

Dean's heart thumped painfully in his chest, and he was acutely aware of Cas's hand on his bare skin, acutely aware of the point Cas was making with it.

I gripped you tight and raised you from perdition.

Sam knocked on the door. "Could you guys hurry up in there?" he called. "I need to use the facilities."

"Alright, alright," Dean yelled. He turned his attention back to Cas, and sighed. "Sam and I will look into it, okay? But I'm not making any promises."

"Thank you." Cas released his arm, and his eyes regained their cold distance. "I didn't expect anything more." And he was gone.

Dean stood there for a moment, dimly aware that a puddle had formed around his feet, and wondered what he'd ever done to make Cas act so damn slighted.