It still startled Castiel when his phone rang.

Last time he'd seen Dean the hunter had set the ring tone to a rock band he couldn't remember the name of. AC...something. The music would blare suddenly and loudly from his pocket, often succeeding in making him jump. Sometimes it made him smile a little because the music reminded him so much of Dean. He reached into his pocket and found the small device, not bothering to check the front to see which number it was. It was either Dean or Sam, because they were the only ones who had this number.

"Hello?" He remembered to say it this time. Sometimes he forgot he was supposed to answer after he flipped open the phone.

"Cas, it's Dean." The smile that flitted across Castiel's face almost went without notice. It had become so normal to hear his nickname, once spoken simply because it was easier, now used as a form of friendship. Unconsciously, Cas reached down to touch the card in his opposite pocket and felt a flutter in his stomach that Dean had told him meant he was nervous.

"Do you need help?" Castiel asked.

"Yeah, room 31c basement level. St. James medical center..." Dean trailed off as Cas appeared before him. He only started a bit; after so many times Castiel was sure the shock of his sudden arrivals had worn off.

"I'm there now," Castiel said. He heard his own voice echo in the phone Dean still had to his ear.

"Yeah I get that," Dean answered.

"I'm going to hang up now."


The two put down their phones and Dean flashed a sudden, amused grin at him. Castiel felt that flutter in his stomach again and almost sighed aloud. He had no idea how to handle this. His eyes flicked towards Sam, who was watching them from a table covered in human entrails. Maybe he could get him alone for a moment and ask him for advice.

"Hi Cas," Sam greeted him with a quick smile as Castiel approached the table. He pointed to the hearts in their plastic containers. "I think these are Enochian symbols."

Castiel reached down and picked up one of the hearts. It felt cool from the fridge it had been stored in, which made the wetness against his hand seems strange. Blood wasn't supposed to be cold. He peered at the vague symbol etched into the heart and, with just a drop of dread, recognized it.

"You're right, Sam, these are angelic marks," Cas said. "I imagine you'll find similar marks on the other couples hearts as well."

Sam looked just a little unhappy about being right. Castiel couldn't blame him for that. "So what are they? What do they mean?"

"It's a mark of union," Cas answered as he placed the heart back in it's container. "This man and woman were intended to mate." He shook his hand in a vain attempt to get some of the blood off.

"Okay but who put them there?" Dean asked.

Giving up, Cas just set his hand down on the table and turned to the brothers. "Well, your people call them Cupid."

Sam gave him an incredulous look. "A what?"

"What human myth has mistaken for Cupid is actually a lower order of angel. Technically it's a cherub," Cas explained.

"Cherub?" Dean repeated. His look of disbelief was similar to his brother's but more pronounced. It always fascinated Castiel how much the two were alike, and yet how completely different they were.

"Yeah. They're all over the world, there are dozens of them."

"You mean the little flying fat kid in diapers?" Dean said skeptically.

Castiel turned to him with a confused expression. "They're not incontinent," He replied, hoping to clear up whatever misconception Dean had formed.

Dean gave a startled shake of his head, as though he was certain he hadn't heard that right. The look he gave Castiel was somewhere between amusement and confusion. It made the angel wonder if he'd said something again that seemed strange. He did that a lot, it seemed, though Dean would never explain to him exactly what it was he did that was odd.

"Anyway," Sam said quickly, before Dean could reply. "What you're saying is-"

"What I'm saying is a Cupid has gone rogue and we have to stop him," Castiel interrupted, his voice intent as he attempted to let the brothers know that the situation was grave. Expression was still a difficult thing for him but he must have been learning because Sam and Dean appeared to understand. "Before he kills again."

There was that amusement again, this time in Sam, though he also looked somewhat disturbed. "Naturally," He said after a moment.

"Of course we do," Dean said, looking Cas dead in the eye. The angel felt that flutter again that was just as annoying as it was interesting. He couldn't tell if Dean was serious or making fun of him, or both. It was fascinating how he could mix the two.

"What now?" Sam asked.

"I know where he'll show up next," Castiel answered simply.

"Great, lets go." Dean glanced down towards Castiel's hands. "Might want to wash first."

The angel glanced down as well. "Oh." Yes, that was probably a good idea. He looked around until he saw a sink and walked over to rinse the blood off.

When the three made it outside Castiel reached over and touched Sam's arm to get his attention. "Can I talk to you?" He asked quietly when Dean walked around to unlock the Impala.

"Sure," Sam agreed easily. "Just a sec!" He called to Dean when he looked across the car at them questioningly. He shrugged and got inside, turning the vehicle on so he could play his loud music. "What's up?"

Castiel fiddled with the card in his pocket. "This day, it's a day people give something to someone they care about, right?"

Sam nodded. "Yeah. Cards, flowers, candy, stuff like that. Why?"

"I was wondering..." Castiel glanced towards the car nervously. The music was turned up high and Dean had begun what he called the 'head bang'. "Is this something that can only be done between a man and a woman?"

"You mean could a girl give something to another girl, something like that?" Sam asked. When Cas nodded he continued. "Sure, if you like someone romantically you can give them something, even if they are the same sex. Why?" This time the question was more intrigued. "Do you want to give someone a valentine?"

Cas shifted uncomfortably, avoiding Sam's intently curious gaze. "It seemed like a good way to..." He trailed off, unsure how to express what he was feeling. These sensations were still so new to him...

"Show your interest?" Sam finished helpfully.

Castiel nodded once. He pulled out the card and held it out towards Sam. "I want to give someone this."

Sam took the card. It was just a simple, small thing, with a heart and two words "Be Mine." Castiel had found it...what was the word? Corny? Yet the lady at the shop had insisted it was perfect if he wanted a simple, straightforward message.

Sam looked at the card for a long moment, face expressionless, before he chuckled suddenly and smiled. "What is it?" Castiel asked, the reaction concerning him rather than giving him the assurance he'd hoped for. "Did I do it wrong?"

"No, it's not that," Sam said quickly. "It's just...I dunno, I can't picture you in love."

A year ago Castiel wouldn't have been able to 'picture' it, either. He said nothing, simply reached out and took the card back, returning it to the safety of his pocket.

"Who do you want to give it to?" Sam asked curiously.

Castiel stared at him. How could he not know? "I don't know very many people," He replied, as though that was a perfectly obvious answer to Sam's question.

"Well, I know," Sam answered awkwardly. "But..." he trailed off suddenly before his eyes flew wide. "Oh my god. It's Dean."

Castiel shifted again; he now had an acute understanding of what humans called butterflies in their stomach. "Yes."

Castiel had witnessed human reaction to the idea of two men before. It had only gotten worse over time. He fully expected that reaction from Sam, so was surprised when he only looked surprised and extremely sympathetic. "Cas, you know Dean is the straightest person alive, right?"

It took Castiel a moment to work out what that meant. "I know," He said after he realized Sam meant Dean liked women. He didn't go into further detail. There was no need to.

"Well...good luck," Sam said with a weak smile. "I guess it is the apocalypse, what do you have to lose?"

"You are not bothered by this?"

Sam shook his head. "Not really. Actually, to be honest..." Sam trailed off. He glanced towards the car and gave a quiet laugh that was dangerously close to a giggle. "It's almost cute."

Castiel's eyes narrowed in an uncertain glare. He wasn't sure if he liked that word. Dean definitely wouldn't like that word.

"Let's go," He said abruptly as he turned towards the car, deciding to ignore Sam's final words.

It turned out that was nearly impossible, as Sam would begin laughing without warning as they drove to the bar Castiel knew would be the place to find the Cupid. Dean gave up asking him what was so funny after the fifth time, instead exchanging looks with Cas through the rear view mirror. The angel just shook his head, pretending he had no idea why Sam was so amused.

The bar was crowded when they arrived, overflowing with couples and singles looking for love, though they managed to find an empty booth in one corner. Castiel listened as the two ordered burgers and felt that twinge of curiosity that had begun growing since he'd been spending more time with them. He could eat and drink, there was just no need to, so before he'd never thought about it. Now he was beginning to wonder what things tasted like.

"So, what, you just happen to know he likes the cosmos in this place?" Dean asked as he pulled the top off of his burger and reached for the ketchup. Castiel found himself watching, strangely fascinated by the exposed meat.

"This place is a nexus of human reproduction, it's exactly the kind of..." Castiel trailed off as Dean squirted the ketchup onto the burger. Was he...hungry? "The kind of garden that Cupid would come to pollinate," He finished, not taking his eyes from the burger as Dean put the top back on and lifted it to his mouth. He stared at it suddenly, as though he wasn't sure why it was there at all, then dropped it back onto the plate and pushed it away.

Castiel saw the concern appear in Sam's eyes instantly. "Wait a minute. You're not hungry?"

Dean looked at the burger, then back to Sam. "No," he said simply.

Sam gave him a look, as though he couldn't believe what he was seeing.

"What? I'm not hungry!" Dean snapped defensively.

"Then you're not going to finish that?" Cas blurted before he could stop himself. When Dean didn't reply he reached across the table and grabbed the plate, ignoring the fact that both brothers were now staring at him rather than each other.

Cas was opening his mouth to take the first bite when he felt the presence of the 'Cupid' in the room. Reluctantly, he lowered the burger back to the plate. "He's here."

"Where? I don't see anything," Sam said as he and Dean searched the room, their eyes flicking over everything but not seeing what they were trying to find.

"There," Castiel said, nodding towards a couple as they began kissing. "Meet me in the back."

He vanished before either of them could say anything, reappearing in a dusty backroom that seemed as though it hadn't been used in some time. For a moment he stood still, trying to pin down the Cupid's location. When he had it he quickly snapped out his hand, calling on the powers he still had left to lock it in place.

Seconds later he heard the brothers footsteps. "Cas! Where is he?" Sam asked as they came up behind him.

"I have him tethered," Cas answered. He spoke a short incantation to call the Cupid closer. "Manifest yourself," He murmured as he finished.

Then he dropped his hand and waited.

"So...where is he?" Dean asked when nothing happened.

Castiel turned to say he didn't know, just in time to see the Cupid appear behind Dean. He opened his mouth to warn him but it was too late, the Cupid already had Dean in a tight hug. A tight, naked hug, something he knew Dean would not react well to.

"Here I am!" The cupid said happily as he lifted Dean off his feet.

"Help!" Dean yelped as he frantically attempted to wriggle free of the Cupid's grip.

Cupid only laughed delightedly, then abruptly dropped Dean when he spotted Castiel. "Hello you!" the Cupid cried as he rushed towards him. The angel braced himself as he was swept into a hug of his own.

"This is Cupid?" Dean burst out angrily. He seemed to be quite shaken from the unwanted contact.

"Yes," Castiel gasped out; the Cupid's grip on him was so tight he could barely breathe. He let out a sigh of relief when he was released.

"And look at you!" The Cupid said as he turned and saw Sam.

"No!" Sam cried, beginning to back away. "No no!"

"Yes yes," The Cupid answered insistently, sweeping Sam into just as tight a hug as the other two had received.

"Is this a fight? Are we in a fight?" Dean practically pleaded as Castiel came to stand beside him.

"This is...their handshake," Castiel answered slowly. It was the best way he could think of to describe it.

"I don't like it!"

"No one does," Castiel assured him.

Cupid finally released an extremely tense and unhappy Sam and turned back towards Castiel. Dean visibly recoiled as he approached them and Castiel had the sudden, intense urge to reach out and reassure him in some physical way. Unable to contain the desire, he let himself place a hand on Dean's shoulder. Instead of turning his discomfort on Cas, as the angel had expected, he seemed to relax somewhat.

"What can I do for you?" The Cupid asked.

"Why are you doing this?" Castiel demanded.

"Doing what?"

"Your targets, the ones you've marked, they're slaughtering each other."

The bubbly happiness the Cupid had been displaying instantly appeared to deflate. "What? They are?"

Dean, who was staring warily at the Cupid, finally spoke up. "Listen, we know, okay? We know you've been flittin' around, popping people with your poison arrow and makin' them murder each other!" Now he was getting angry again. Cas squeezed the shoulder under his hand, hoping it would calm him down.

"What we don't know is why," Castiel said.

The Cupid turned to them, looking utterly shocked. "You think that I..." He trailed off as tears welled up in his eyes. "I don't know what to say!" he lifted a hand to his mouth and scurried around the two of them. Dean flinched away, brushing himself against Castiel in the process. The angel tried to deny the sudden flood of heat rushing through his body at the contact; now was not the time.

Sam finally got up the courage to approach them as the Cupid began to cry in earnest. "Should...should somebody go talk to him?" He asked hesitantly.

"Yeah, good idea, give him hell Cas," Dean said quickly, reaching over and slapping him on the shoulder with fake encouragement.

Pleadingly, Castiel glanced between the two of them. Both stubbornly avoided his gaze and with a quiet sigh Castiel accepted that neither of them were willing to approach the Cupid again. Not that he could blame them, really. Having a naked Cupid hug you as though you were a child was disconcerting enough for an angel, he could only imagine how they felt about it. So he crossed the small distance to the sobbing cherub, hoping to stay back enough to avoid another hug.

"Um, look, we didn't mean to, um..." he turned and gave the two behind him a helpless look. Sam nodded encouragingly and Dean winked. Great. That was helpful. "Hurt your feelings," Cas finished. Was that the right thing to say?

Immediately the Cupid whirled around and pulled Cas back into the hug he'd hoped to avoid. The angel sighed as he felt his body tense in protest and had a sudden, stray wondering; how would he react if it were Dean's arms around him right now?

"Love is more than just a word to me, you know?" the Cupid said, pulling Castiel out of his thoughts. "I love love, I love it, and if that's wrong I don't wanna be right!"

Awkwardly, Castiel lifted his arms and hesitantly placed his hands on the Cupid's shoulders in an attempt to comfort him. "Yes, yes, I, uh...I have no idea what you're saying."

The Cupid pulled back, though he kept a grip on Castiel's arms. The angel resisted the urge to shake him away. "I was just on my appointed rounds. Whatever my targets do after that has nothing to do with me. I was following my orders." A serious expression flooded his eyes. "Please, brother. Read my mind. Read my mind, you'll see."

He hadn't thought of that. Meeting the Cupid's eyes, Castiel let his mind touch the other's, searching for anything even remotely hostile.

He found nothing.

Slowly, he turned back to the brothers. "He's telling the truth."

"Thank you!" The Cupid sighed in relief.

"Wait, you said you were following orders," Dean spoke up suddenly. "Who's orders?"

The question provoked an amused burst of laughter from the Cupid. "Heaven, silly, heaven!"

Dean's brows drew together in confusion. Cas felt the flutter again; he'd finally recognized few days ago that he found the expression...cute. He almost winced as he realized this was the same term Sam had used to describe Castiel's affection for Dean. "Why does heaven care if Harry meets Sally?"

"Mostly they don't," the Cupid answered. "You know, certain bloodlines, certain destinies. Like yours. The union of John and Mary Winchester, very big deal upstairs, top priority arrangement."

"Are you saying you fixed up our parents?"

"Well, not me, but yeah! They couldn't stand each other at first but by the time we were done with them, perfect couple!"

"Perfect?" Dean repeated, his tone low and dark. "They're dead!"

Castiel found himself moving forward again, reaching out to Dean before he even truly thought about it. Attempting to comfort him seemed as natural as breathing. When his hand touched Dean's arm and Dean didn't react in a negative fashion he felt a strange surge of hope. Perhaps his card wouldn't be a complete waste of time. This was, after all, the second time in the last five minutes he'd touched Dean without a violent reaction.

"I'm sorry," The Cupid said sincerely. "But the orders were very clear, you and Sam had to be born. You're parents were just...meant to be." He smiled again suddenly and began to sing about matches made in heaven. Castiel saw Dean snap seconds before his fist lashed out, though the strike did far more damage to him than to the Cupid.

"Where'd he go!" Dean snapped when he realized the cherub had vanished after the punch.

"I believe you upset him," Cas sighed.

"Upset him!" Dean practically snarled.

"Dean, enough," Sam said sternly.


"You just punched a Cupid!"

"I punched a dick!" Dean yelled insistently.

Sam twisted around to exchange a look of concern with Castiel. "Um, are we gonna talk about what's been up with you or not?" Sam asked as he returned his gaze to his brother.

"Or not!" Dean growled as he strode around them and towards the door.

Castiel had learned about these moments. They were times when the brothers had something that needed to be discussed but one or both of them was avoiding. Dean would go back to the motel, Sam would probably go out to find something more on the case. For now, Castiel decided to leave them alone.

Besides, he still wanted one of those burgers.

... * ...

When Cas felt a sufficient amount of time had passed for Dean to cool down he went to the motel, armed with a full bag of bacon cheeseburgers. He'd meant to order only one but had somehow ended up with twenty instead. The first bite he'd taken had been such a fantastic explosion of taste that he finally understood why Dean was so obsessed with them. Now he was on his third one and oddly enough the wonder of the taste hadn't faded.

Dean was alone when he appeared inside the room. He was sitting on the end of the bed, staring at nothing, apparently lost in thought. He flinched when Cas appeared but relaxed instantly when he saw who it was. Curiosity flooded his face when he saw the bag in the angel's hand. "Are those burgers?"

Castiel nodded. "Do you want one? You still haven't eaten." He held the bag out hopefully; it wasn't good that Dean wasn't eating. Humans needed food.

Dean stared skeptically at the bag a moment before giving in and reaching in for one. "Thanks."

Cas only nodded. He set the bag down after pulling out a fourth burger and sat down next to Dean. The card in his pocket seemed like a weight, pulling harshly at him the longer he refused to speak. He took a bite out of the burger, giving himself a few more seconds to formulate a plan. Finally, he just reached in and threw the card into Dean's lap, firmly ignoring the 'butterflies' beating around inside his stomach.

"What's this?" Dean asked. He reached down and picked up the card, lifting it to his eye level. Then he started to laugh. "Dude, you're supposed to do this with people you're interested in, not friends!"

Shifting so he was partially facing Dean, Cas set down the burger and stared the other man straight in the eye.

"Oh," Dean murmured. He looked down at the card again, then back to Castiel. "Are you sure? You're kind of new at this whole human emotion thing, maybe you're getting friendship mixed up with something else."

For a moment Castiel said nothing. He let the surprise at Dean's unusually calm reaction come and go as he tried to think of what to say. Finally, he decided the best thing to do was to describe the feeling. Dean would know if he really had mistaken it for something it wasn't.

"Every time you smile, or frown when you're confused, it gives me that feeling in my stomach I told you about. You said it meant I was nervous. I smile every time I hear the phone ring because you set the...tone? Ring tone. I like your references even though I don't understand them. I like that you find me funny." Castiel stopped, unable to find the words to further describe the emotions. The fact that humans not only felt these emotions on a regular basis but were for the most part able to express them so fully amazed him. "Have I made a mistake?" He asked finally.

Dean was looking at the card again. His expression was blank and that worried Cas. Dean wasn't the type to go blank like that. "No," He murmured suddenly. "You know, if you were anybody else this would bother me."

With that Dean slipped the card into his coat pocket. He picked up the burger he'd set down in his lap when he'd first taken the card and began to eat again. Nothing further was said but Cas had the feeling that it was okay, so he picked up his own sandwich and the two ate quietly, staying close and comfortably silent.

"How many of those did you get?" Dean asked a quarter of an hour later, when Cas had finished off the rest of the burgers.

"Twenty," Castiel answered, as though that were nothing at all. "I'm going to go get more."

He disappeared and reappeared outside the fast food restaurant before Dean could say a word. By the time he returned, armed with another bag full of the burgers and already having polished off another full bag before that, Sam had returned to the motel. A suitcase was sitting on the table, one the two were studying with more caution than something so simple really deserved. Clarity struck him with the force of a well placed punch; how had he not seen it? It was so obvious!

Castiel watched as the brothers opened the suitcase, revealing a blinding light that dissipated quickly once it realized it was free. "What the hell was that!" Dean barked.

"A human soul," Castiel spoke up. "It's starting to make sense."

He took a bite out of the half eaten burger in his hand, not bothering to try and resist. He knew the vessel was already too far gone.

"What about that makes sense?" Sam asked, pointing back towards the suitcase.

"And when did you start eating, anyway?" Dean asked. "I mean, okay, one or two I get, but this is what? Thirty?"

"Exactly! My hunger is a clue, actually."

"For what?" The two said as one. Sometimes it amazed Castiel how in tune the brothers were to each other. They had to be to speak so perfectly in sync so often.

"This town isn't suffering from some love gone wrong effect. It's suffering from hunger." He held up the bit of burger left in his hand to emphasize his point. "Starvation, to be exact, specifically...Famine."

"Famine?" Sam repeated. "As in the horseman?"

Cas nodded.

"Great! That's freaking great!" Dean muttered exasperatedly.

"I thought famine meant starvation, as in, you know, food." Sam waved a hand towards the burgers in Castiel's hand.

Castiel swallowed his mouthful and nodded again. "Yes, absolutely, but not just food. Everyone seems to be starving for something. Sex, attention, drugs. Love." As he said the last word his eyes flicked towards Dean hopefully.

"Well that explains the puppy lovers that Cupid shot up," Dean said. He didn't so much as glance towards Castiel.

The angel held back a sigh by shoving another bite of burger into his mouth. He nodded in Dean's direction. "Right. The cherub made them crave love. Then Famine came and made them rabid for it.

"Okay but what about you?" Dean asked, taking a few steps towards his friend and gesturing towards the bag. "I mean, since when do angels secretly hunger for White Castle?"

What? Oh, right, the restaurant. "It's my vessel. Jimmy. His appetite for red meat has been touched by Famine's effect." He turned partially away from the brothers, suddenly embarrassed without really knowing why. He wished he could put down the food but the mere thought of it caused physical pain.

"So Famine rolls into town and everyone goes crazy?" It was one of those questions Dean asked that he didn't expect an answer on, it was more a way of confirming things to himself. It had taken Cas a long time to figure out that he wasn't supposed to say anything to these particular questions but this time he felt an answer was necessary.

"And then will come Famine, riding on a black steed. He will ride into the land of plenty. And great will be the horseman's hunger for he is hunger. His hunger will seep out and poison the air." Damn it. He was still hungry himself. He cast a small frown at the burger in his hand before giving in to the need to take another bite. Then he turned to face the brothers again. "Famine is hungry. He must devour the souls of his victims."

A thoughtful look creased Dean's brow, similar to his confused look but more intent. It still had the exact same effect. Castiel resisted the urge to look down at his own stomach; he couldn't believe there was still room for butterflies.

"So that's what was in the briefcase. Twinkie dude's soul." When he turned to look at Cas again he looked disturbed, which was a little strange. The disturbed expression was usually something seen on Sam's face. Despite everything he'd been through and done, Sam was still the sensitive one of the two.

Castiel's eyes flicked towards the case, then back to Dean. He nodded once. "Lucifer has sent his demons for Famine. To feed him, make certain he'll be ready."

"Ready for what?" Sam asked hesitantly. The same hesitance in his eyes said he didn't really want to know.

If he'd had an option, Castiel wouldn't have told them. It was something that had developed with their friendship, an intense desire to protect them, to shield them from all this darkness even though he knew it was a pointless need. Sam and Dean were the only ones who could stop it. There was no possible way to protect them from it. "To march across the land," He said finally.

Without warning Sam abruptly turned and bolted into the bathroom. Cas stared after him with concern, wondering if Famine's effects had touched him in some way. He sat down on the edge of the bed, his eyes lingering on the open bathroom door as he reached into the bag again.

Oh. He was out.

"So this town is just going to eat, drink and screw itself to death?" Sam called. Castiel thought he sounded somewhat breathless.

"We should stop it," Cas stated simply.

Dean stared at him. Cas stared back, wondering if he'd 'stated the obvious' again. Apparently he did that as often as he said strange things.

"Hey, that's a great idea. How?" Dean practically spat the last word and Castiel felt a sudden, odd twisting in his guts. He wondered if this was a higher form of nervousness.

"How did you stop the last horseman?" Castiel countered, feeling oddly defensive. What was happening? Why did Dean seem irritated now?

Dean turned and walked over to his coat, digging around in the pocket until he produced a ring. "War got his mojo from this ring." He turned and held it up so Cas could see it. "Then after we cut it off he just tucked tail and ran. Everybody that was effected, it was like they woke up out of a dream. You think Famine's got a class ring too?"

Castiel didn't bother to ask what a 'class ring' was. "I know he does."

Whatever had annoyed Dean a moment ago seemed to vanish now that he had something to latch onto. "Okay, let's track him down and get to choppin'!"

"Yeah," Cas agreed absently. He stared forlornly into his empty bag.

Dean cast him an incredulous look. "What are you, the hamburglar?"

Castiel felt a tiny smile flicker across his lips. "I've developed a taste for it," He replied. It was true, he knew even after Famine's effects were gone he would eat one of these again.

Just not ten of them at once. Or...wait, how many was he up to? Eighty...something.

"Sam, lets roll," Dean called. Cas flicked his eyes towards the younger brother; his breathing was getting worse.

"Dean. I...I can't." Sam turned and slumped against the doorway, panting like he'd just come back from chasing down a monster. "I can't go."

"What do you mean?" Dean didn't understand but in a sudden flare of clarity Castiel did.

I'm sorry, Sam.

Sam's eyes darted nervously and somewhat guiltily around the room, occasionally landing on Dean's own but for no more than a few seconds. "I think it got to me. I think I'm hungry for it."

"Hungry for what?" Dean practically growled. He didn't want to believe it. Cas felt himself reaching out again, touching his shoulder as he had before but this time Dean whipped around and glared at him hotly, making Castiel flinch back as though the expression had burned him. Their eyes locked for a moment, Dean's hard and Castiel's wide and confused. Unbidden, his gaze darted towards Dean's pocket, where the little token of his affection rested. Had it bothered Dean and he'd simply tried to keep it in, knowing Castiel was naive in human ways?

Then Dean was turning away, back to his brother, his expression morphing to concern as he met Sam's eyes.

"You know," Sam murmured.

"Demon blood?" Dean still said it like a question, still not wanting to believe.

Sam looked away, his eyes full of shame and unable to withstand the concern pouring from his older brother.

"You've gotta be kidding me." He whipped around to face Cas, his concern now blotting out the anger the angel had seen just seconds before. "You gotta get him out of here. You gotta beam him to like Montana, anywhere but here!"

"It won't work, he's already infected," Castiel answered tersely. He was feeling defensive again and it showed in his eyes as much as his voice. "The hunger's just going to travel with him."

"Well then what do we do?"

"You go cut that bastard's finger off," Sam ground out. "But Dean, before you go you better lock me down. Good."

Castiel saw the pain flare brightly in Dean's eyes but he nodded once. "I'll be right back," He murmured. Then he walked outside to his car.

Sam continued to lean in the doorway, short of breath, spastically grasping at a wet cloth in his hand. Castiel saw drops of water on his forehead and guessed he'd been using it to try and focus on anything but the hunger growing in him. He closed his eyes for a moment and drew in a slow, deep breath, then opened them again and focused on Castiel. "Did you give him the card?"

He wanted to know this now? Castiel looked up at him curiously and then realized it was just what Sam needed until Dean came back with the restraints. A distraction.

"Yes," Castiel answered with a small sigh. "I think I angered him."

"Why? What did he do?"

The angel glanced towards the door Dean had left open. His head was stuck down in the trunk, so he returned his gaze to Sam. "At the time I thought it was alright. He thought I was mistaken in my feelings until I explained it to him. He said if I were anyone else it would bother him. Then he put the card in his pocket and didn't say anything else. I thought his acceptance of the card was a good thing but when I tried to touch him just now he glared at me. Before he was snapping."

"That just means he's confused." Sam sucked in another, sharp breath, his fingers clutching tightly at the cloth. "It means he's thinking about it. That's a good thing. Just give him a while, remember he's straight. Speaking of angels have a...a sexual preference? That seems weird."

Castiel couldn't help a small chuckle at that. "Angels don't actually have genders in the way humans think of them, so no, we don't have a preference. Also I can't remember the last time an angel fell in love with a human. It's extremely rare."

"You're a rare case," Sam said with a smile, and Castiel knew that was meant as a compliment.

The sound of the trunk slamming closed startled both of them, Sam more visibly than Cas. Dean walked in a moment later carrying a pair of handcuffs. The look he gave Sammy was so pained that Castiel had to fight the urge to reach out to him again.

Sam only nodded. "Sink?"

"Sounds good," Dean answered gruffly.

Castiel waited outside the door as Dean handcuffed his brother to the sink's pipes. He listened to the low, rough voice as Dean assured his little brother they'd be back as soon as they could. Did Sam know how lucky he was? Love like that was hard to come by these days. Hard to come by at all.

Dean closed the door as he came out, then nodded at Cas. The angel reached out to the heavy cabinet he was standing by, knowing immediately that was what Dean was indicating. He pushed it easily in front of the door.

For a moment Dean just stood there, staring at the cabinet, looking as though he wanted to smash it to a thousand pieces. Then he took a deep breath and turned to face Cas. "Let's go talk to Dr. Corman again, see if any new bodies have turned up."

The drive to the medical center was made in tense silence. Castiel wanted nothing more than to directly ask if he had angered or upset Dean but he reminded himself of what Sam had said. This meant Dean was thinking about it. Pushing would only make it worse. Wouldn't it? That was usually how it worked, right?

Cas let his head rest back against the seat. Music by Kansas invaded his ears, threatening to cloud over his confused thoughts. He was almost startled to realize he recognized the name of the band, though not the song itself. Wait, maybe he did. Point of something.

"Point of No Return," Dean said suddenly, and Cas realized he was now staring intently at the radio.

"Ah." He said simply. "I recognized the band."

He glanced at Dean then, hoping this would get him something, some small reaction. A quick, almost reluctant grin flitted across Dean's lips. "My good taste is wearing off on you."

Castiel managed a smile back. It still felt strange to smile, a foreign twist to lips that had previously only moved to speak. It was good, though, like laughing. They were things he wanted to learn to do more often, more fully.

Dean made him smile. Dean made him laugh.

Castiel followed behind Dean when they arrived at the medical center. He had a tendency to get lost in these places and Dean always seemed so sure of exactly where he was going and what he was doing. If he were honest with himself, he liked having someone to follow again. Particularly since he was following because he wanted to, not because he had to.

"Hey, Marty, Dr. Corman here?" Dean asked when one of the younger doctors stepped out into the hallway.

The man, Marty, looked surprised. "You didn't hear?"

"Hear what?"

The doctor gestured for them to follow him inside. As soon as Castiel saw the sheet covered body lying on the table he knew it was Dr. Corman. He must have been touched by Famine.

The doctor reached out and pulled back the sheet, revealing Corman's face. "He's been dry for twenty years but this morning he left work, went home and drank himself to death."

"It's Famine," Castiel told him.

Dean threw a 'shut up!' look at him. "Would you give us a minute, please?"

"Sure," the doctor agreed with a nod. He slipped quietly out of the room, leaving the two of them alone.

"Crap," Dean muttered as soon as the door was closed. "I really kind of liked this guy."

Castiel reached out and placed a hand on the man's chest. Almost immediately, he felt the bright presence of a soul still lingering within the shell. "They haven't harvested his soul yet."

Dean caught on immediately. "Well, if we want to play follow the soul to get to Famine, our best shot starts with the doc here."

Castiel nodded in agreement.

"Okay, so we'll wait in the car until a demon shows up," Dean said as he reached out and covered the dead man back up.

"I'll be back in a minute," Cas said, and vanished before Dean could protest.

He reappeared in the car again ten minutes later with a brand new bag of bacon cheeseburgers. Dean stared at him disbelievingly as he unwrapped one and set into it eagerly. "Are you serious?"

Cas closed his eyes briefly as the taste danced across his tongue. "These make me...very happy," He said with a smile, one of the biggest he'd managed all day.

Dean rolled his eyes. Castiel found the move somewhat endearing in a childish sort of way. "How many is that?"

"Lost count," Cas replied. "It's in the low hundreds."

Dean winced, followed by a low whistle before he turned back to watch the door of the medical center.

"What I don't understand," Castiel said around a mouthful of food. "Is what's your hunger?"


"Well, slowly but surely everyone in this town is falling prey to Famine but so far you seem unaffected." Castiel peered at him curiously, wondering if he was simply missing something.

Dean shrugged. "When I want a drink, I drink. When I want sex, I go get it. Same goes for a sandwich or a fight."

"So, you're saying you're just well adjusted?"

"Hell no! I'm just well fed."

Castiel almost flinched at the mention of hell. Sometimes he found it unbelievable that Dean could even still use the word.


The tone of his voice had changed, something softer, something questioning. Somehow, Castiel found the will to put down the burger and turn to look at him. "Yes?"

Dean was staring steadfastly out the window but Castiel could see the change in his demeanor, the tense line of his shoulders and the tightness in his jaw. "Do you really..." He turned abruptly, looking Castiel straight in the eye. "Do you really want me..." He trailed off and chuckled slightly, the sound far more nervous than amused. "Well, I guess that's it. Do you really want me?"

Castiel made himself look back into that nervous gaze, firm and resolved. "Yes."

The angel had no warning. One moment Dean was sitting there, conflicted and afraid, the next his lips were pressed against Castiel's, hesitant and uncertain but so sweet. The bag of food fell from his lap, the touch of Famine somehow overpowered by a sudden surge of pure need. Castiel had never kissed anyone before, he had no idea how to go about it, so he let the body show him what to do. His hands rose to Dean's head, threading into his short hair, gripping tightly as he shifted his own head just a bit, fitting them more closely together. Dean's lips slid across his, soft and questing, tentatively searching this new territory. Cas tried moving his own lips against the other man's, hoping he was doing it right, hoping Dean liked this new experience enough to do it again because if he didn't after this the angel thought the desire might just kill him.

When Dean drew back, just a bit, to catch his breath, his eyes looked...curious. Interested. "You know what? That didn't suck."

"That's a good thing, right?" Castiel asked.

Dean laughed quietly. "Yeah. That's a good thing."

"Good," Cas said simply. "I don't know what I'm doing."

Dean just grinned. "I'll show you. But not right now. We should be watching."

Castiel nodded. "Later?" His eyes were wide and pleading, afraid this moment wouldn't last.

"Yeah," Dean leaned down, planting a single, quick kiss to Cas's lips. "I promise."

Then he settled back into his seat, his eyes planted firmly on the door again. Castiel felt his first true grin settle across his lips, urged into being by the warm sense of happiness swelling inside him. He reached down and retrieved his burgers, pulling another one out more out of the need to continue going through the motions than any want for the taste. After that it seemed rather bland.

"Hey," Dean muttered suddenly. He coughed in a way that seemed like a cover for his discomfort. "I don't really know what I'm doing, either. Just so you know. I mean, I've never been into a guy. But I guess you're not just a guy, you know? Whatever, I just mean...don't expect too much."

"I expected nothing," Castiel said honestly.

Cas thought he saw Dean's shoulders shake slightly, as though he'd laughed. "Guess I won't disappoint, then."

A strange urge overtook the angel and since this night had been full of new experiences he went with it. He leaned across the car and dropped his forehead against Dean's shoulder, just for a second, before he settled back into his seat. He wasn't sure what the gesture meant, if it had been done for a specific reason or simply for closeness, but it earned him a quick flash of a grin.

"Oh god, what am I gonna tell Sam?" Dean murmured suddenly.

"He knows," Cas assured him as he dug into his food again.

"What?" Dean whipped around, his eyes wide and horrified. "You told him?"

"I needed advice," Castiel said simply. "He doesn't mind."

Surprise rushed in to wipe away the horror. "He doesn't? Huh. Well, good. He'll understand when I kick him out of the motel for the night."

That flutter returned, sharper than ever but now tinged with something new, something he didn't understand. When he mentioned this to Dean the hunter only smiled and said it meant he was excited.

Castiel never had a chance to explore that fully because no sooner had Dean explained it than the hospital door opened, revealing one of the demons 'caring' for the horseman. He had a briefcase in one hand. Cas wondered when he'd gone into the building in the first place and quickly decided it must have been while the two had been...occupied.

"Showtime," Dean said as he started up the car, waiting a moment for the SUV the demon had climbed into to pull away before following.

The demon led them to a small diner near the edge of town. The heavy, sickening sense of mass death was in the air, a pungent smell that would have revolted him if he hadn't been so busy staring morosely at his empty bag. He let out a heavy sigh and wished Dean would kiss him again. It helped distract him.

"Hey! Happy meal!" Cas jumped, yanking his gaze away from the bag. Happy meal? "The plan?" Dean reached across the car and prodded at the angel's shoulder, as though the action would somehow help to stabilize him.

"I take the knife, I go in, I cut the ring off the hand of Famine and I meet you back here in the parking lot," Castiel said finally, after he'd gathered enough of his wits to form a straight chain of thought. Famine's touch was getting worse.

"Sounds foolproof." Dean's sigh and sarcastic expression said it was anything but.

"Foolproof," Castiel echoed distantly. Why was he here? Famine!

Without really focusing on the intent, Castiel found himself inside the diner. An old man with the haggard appearance of a person reaching for death sat in a wheelchair roughly in the center of the room, surrounded by the demons sent to care for him.

I'm supposed to be doing something for Dean, Castiel thought hazily as he stared at the man before him. The feeling of insatiable hunger that had been bothering him all day began to intensify, a painful need that had him searching the room restlessly with his eyes, seeking anything that would calm it. The old man smiled but the expression looked sickened somehow. Castiel thought he wanted to be repulsed by it but instead he just cocked his head and looked at him curiously. Did Famine have what he needed?

"I know what you want," Famine said, his voice thin, weak, yet highly amused. He lifted a shaking hand and motioned for one of the demons to come closer. He said something to him quietly, too quietly for Cas to hear.

Dean needs me to do something. The thought pestered at him, attempting to break the hold Famine had on him. The angel tried to close his eyes, hoping darkness would bring him some form of clarity.

A large pan clattered loudly to the ground at his feet. Cas's eyes flicked towards it...and then the world narrowed, focused sharply until there was nothing but the pile of raw, red meat lying there before him. The angel thought he heard laughter when his knees gave out, felt a thought trying to pierce the veil of hunger as his hand reached into the slick, bloody mess.



Startled, Castiel twisted around. Two of the demons had Dean held between them and still the hunter had his head craned around one of them to see if Cas was alright. The angel felt a surge of affection so intense that for just a second he managed to stop eating.

"What did you do to him?" Dean growled, his eyes flicking from the horseman to Castiel and back again.

"You sicced your dog on me, I just threw him a steak," the horseman replied.

"So this is your big trick, huh? Makin' people coo-coo for cocoa puffs?" Okay, he had to find out what that meant as soon as he regained control of his own limbs.

The horseman sneered. "Doesn't take much. Hardly a push. America, all you can eat all the time. Consume, consume, a swarm of locusts in stretch pants. And yet you're all still starving because hunger doesn't just come from the body it also comes from the soul."

"Funny, it doesn't seem to be coming from mine."

"Yes, I noticed that," The horseman replied interestedly. "Have you wondered why that is? How you could even walk in my presence?"

Castiel saw Dean smirk before he was driven to turn back to the meat. "I'd like to think it's because of my strength of character."

"I disagree," Famine answered, as though they were having some kind of civilized conversation.

Cas heard a sound, a soft whir that meant the electric wheelchair was moving forward. Seconds later he heard Dean cry out in pain. The urge to turn and attack the horseman, to rip him to shreds for hurting Dean, was enough to make him twist around again, though he couldn't force his fingers to release the handful of hamburger they'd clutched seconds before.

"Yes, I see. That's one deep, dark nothing you've got there, Dean. Can't fill it, can you? Not with food, or drink, not even with sex." At that the horseman began to laugh. A sense of dread filled Castiel; if it was true that Dean was empty...had the kiss meant anything to him? Or had it been a desperate attempt to fill the hole?

"You're so full of crap," Dean gasped. He sounded confident enough; Cas hoped it was sincere.

The horseman just kept laughing. "You can smirk and joke and lie to your brother, lie to yourself, but not to me! I can see inside you, Dean. I can see how broken you are. How defeated. You can't win and you know it but you just keep fighting, just keep going through the motions. You're not hungry because inside you're already dead."

"Dean..." Castiel had no idea how he managed to ground out the name, or when he'd cleared his mouth enough to do it. All he knew was that Dean's eyes were pained, his expression slack in a way that said the horseman had hit home. He was telling the truth.

Not with food, or drink, not even sex.

But he'd missed something. Something just as vital, perhaps more so in the end, than those three things.

"Let him go!"

Oh, no.


The horseman turned his chair to face Sam, his face lighting in what appeared to be genuine pleasure.

"Sammy, no!" Dean cried, his voice just as pained as the expression in his eyes.

Pained. He couldn't be empty if he could still be hurt. Not all of what the horseman had said could be right.

Two of the demons started forward, towards Sam, but before they could so much as take a full step the horseman snapped out "Stop!" Instantly, the demons froze, though none of them looked happy about it.

"No one," Famine said more quietly, still more deadly. "Lays a finger on this sweet little boy."

Sam looked less than happy about this description of him.

"Sam, I see you got the snack I sent you," Famine said with a smile.

"You sent," Sam repeated, sounding only partially surprised.

"Don't worry, you're not like the everyone else, you'll never die from drinking too much. You're the exception, just the way Satan wanted you to be. So..." the horseman held up his hands, indicating the demons surrounding him. "Cut their throats!"

"Sammy, no!" Dean said again, louder this time, as though hoping to drive the words through the haze of demon blood drugging his little brother's mind.

Sam stood there, breathing harshly, his eyes darting between the demons, his hunger intense and clear. When he lifted his hand Cas thought he was giving in, until he suddenly clenched it. The bodies the demons were inhabiting screamed as they were forced out, black smoke spilling from wide open mouths until only a circle of unconscious, or likely dead, men remained.

"No," Sam growled determinedly, even as his hands shook and his eyes flicked longingly towards the black smoke still hovering uncertainly above the ground, just over the bodies.

"Fine," Famine answered easily, still smiling at Sammy as though he were the most precious thing that existed. "If you don't want them, I'll have them."

Cas saw a surge out of the corner of his eye but he couldn't move his gaze from Dean's face. He was afraid if he did he would be lost completely. He didn't have to see, however, to know that the horseman was consuming the demons' essence.

"Cas?" Dean murmured suddenly, and Castiel realized that at some point he had crossed the room to get the knife Castiel had dropped when the meat had been thrown to him. Cas's eyes had never left his face yet somehow he'd never seen him move.

"I'm a horseman, Sam," Famine said suddenly. The angel saw Dean's eyes flick back up to his little brother, though he remained crouched at Castiel's side. "Your power doesn't work on me."

"You're right." Sam's voice was a dark tone of triumph. "But it will work on them."

The demons, Cas managed to think just before the horseman began to scream.

The touch of Famine lifted abruptly, so abruptly it was almost a shock. The angel reeled back from the meat, revulsion settling in his gut. He felt Dean stand up behind him, then an arm was encircling his shoulders, heavy and warm and comforting. "You okay?" Dean asked roughly.

"I'm fine," Castiel replied. "Sam isn't."

Dean grunted, a reluctant sound of acknowledgement. "I know. Let's get him to Bobby's."

"The ring."

The hunter's gaze fell to the knife in his hand. "Damn, almost forgot. Hang on."

Striding over to the unconscious form of the horseman, Dean rather viciously sliced off the ring finger, despite the fact that he could have simply removed the ring. Castiel couldn't blame him for wanting to cause a bit of pain. Not after what the horseman had done to Sam.

Once the ring was safely in his pocket Dean came to stand beside Castiel again. "Will you beam him there? I'll follow you in the car."

Cas nodded. "See you soon," He said softly.

... * ...

Sam had begun to scream and pound against the panic room door moments before Dean arrived in the car. Castiel went to meet him outside, unable to stand the desperate cries from his friend any longer. He wanted so badly to open the door and find a way to ease Sam's pain. Standing so close only made the temptation perilously hard to ignore.

"How is he?" Dean asked the moment he had the car door open.

"Not well," Castiel replied truthfully. "The worst of it just started. Hopefully it will pass quickly."

Dean nodded. He leaned back against the car, staring steadfastly at his feet. Castiel said nothing, waiting for the hunter to speak first. Somehow, he knew Dean needed to begin this.

"Cas..." Dean sighed, a harsh, frustrated sound. He shifted uncomfortably against the car before suddenly lifting his gaze, not quite but almost looking Cas in the eye. "When the horseman said I was...empty. That's not really true. I'm just burned out. The only thing I had left to lean on was Sammy."

"Had," Castiel repeated quietly.

"Yeah, well...guess I got you now, too," Dean muttered, ducking his head again. He dug at the dirt with the toe of his boot restlessly. Then, suddenly, he pushed himself away from the car and met Castiel's eyes, his own as earnest as they were nervous. "I don't have a clue how to start this."

Neither did Cas, but Dean had jump started them and now he needed the angel to take the next step. "You need some sleep," Castiel said simply. "And some real food. You need to see your bother well again. Then we'll see what happens."

For a moment there was a calm stillness, then Dean smiled slightly. "Okay. Sounds good. Just gonna do one thing here."

Quickly, Dean leaned forward and kissed the angel, backing away before Castiel could really respond.

"Food first," Dean said abruptly. "You should know Bobby doesn't have real food."

The two began to walk towards the house, side by side, their hands brushing occasionally as they moved. "I'll go get you some," Castiel offered.

"Nah. We'll get real food later."

They found a half eaten sausage pizza in the fridge, which to Dean was about as real as food got, if it wasn't a bacon cheeseburger. Castiel wanted to try a piece but couldn't bring himself to after all the burgers he'd eaten, so he just watched as Dean polished off two slices. Getting him to the couch was an easy matter after that. He pulled an old, worn blanket that was slung over the back of the couch across the hunter, then sat down in a nearby chair.

"Gonna stare at me till I fall asleep?" Dean asked sleepily. His eyes were already closed.

"Yes," Castiel replied with a small smile.

Dean gave a quiet burst of laughter. "Mom used to say angels were watching over us," he murmured.

Cas said nothing, just watched as Dean's breathing slowly evened out as he slipped into sleep.

When he was certain Dean wouldn't wake for a while, Castiel stood and slipped down to the panic room. The beating of fists against the door had stopped but the silence caused more worry than reassurance. He reached to open the slot on the door when he heard Sam's voice, weak and tired but so much more his own than it had been three hours ago.

"Cas? Are you out there?"

"I'm here, Sam." Castiel flipped open the slot and peered inside. Sam was sitting on the floor, leaning back against the narrow bed. Sweat was pouring down his pale, weary face, dripping into eyes that looked self loathing and quietly horrified. "Are you all right?"

Sam gave a weak chuckle. "Not really," He answered. "But better. There isn't as much in my system as last time. Is Dean here yet?"

"Yes, he's asleep."

"Oh good." Sam closed his eyes and rested his head back against the bed. "Is he..."

"He knows this wasn't your fault," Castiel replied immediately, knowing exactly what Sam had been about to ask.

"Thanks, Cas."

The angel paused a moment. His hand hovered over the door, uncertainty holding him back for just a moment before he decided Sam was far enough out of it. He pulled open the door and stepped inside.

Sam's head snapped up from the bed, his eyes going wide. "No, don't let me out yet!"

"I'm not," Cas assured him. To emphasize that point he shut the door very firmly behind him.

"Oh. What are you doing, then?"

Instead of answering, Castiel crossed the room and sank down onto the floor beside Sam. He reached out and settled one arm across Sam's shoulders, remembering how good it had felt when Dean had done this for him earlier and hoping it had the same effect for Sammy.

"Thanks," Sam murmured.

"You're welcome," Castiel answered simply.

They remained that way for a while, comfortably silent. Sam's weight began to lean against him more heavily when his exhaustion started to get the better of him. Cas shifted him so Sam's head could rest against his shoulder, wondering at the warm feeling in his chest that came from knowing that the hunter trusted him enough, felt comfortable enough with him, to accept this so easily.

"How'd things go with Dean?" Sam asked. Castiel smiled slightly as he realized the brothers sounded almost exactly the same when they were tired.

"Well," he said after a moment.

"Yeah? He's willing to talk about it?"

The smile grew wider. "He did more than talk."

"Really?" Sam laughed quietly. "That's great."

When Castiel felt Sam slump fully against him he considered moving the hunter up onto the bed. He looked down at the head on his shoulder, at the face that now looked somewhat peaceful in sleep, and decided to wait a while. Who knew what the blood would do to his dreams and he'd heard that people could sometimes keep nightmares at bay when close to another person.

For a while Cas drifted in that place between consciousness and sleep. He didn't need sleep, it was something he'd learned, something he rather enjoyed on occasion. Something human.


It was also a good way to communicate with his vessel. Jimmy.

You're going to be here for a very long time, aren't you?

Yes. He didn't try to deny it. Even if he hadn't been trying to help the brothers he was still, for the moment, cut off from Heaven.

And you're in love with Dean.

Even in his half asleep state, Castiel smiled. Yes.

A sense of resolve and peace came from his vessel. Am I able to leave?

The angel had suspected this might happen. Vessels sometimes remained alive and intact for hundreds of years before an angel was through with them, their spirit trapped within their own minds. It wasn't something Cas had meant to put Jimmy through for this amount of time. Yes. You can leave, if it's what you really want.

Jimmy didn't ask what would happen to him afterwards. He had been a man of faith before this ordeal and even now he still retained much of it. He felt completely secure in where he was going if he left the body. Then I leave this body to you. Honestly, I don't really want to be in it when you and Dean get it on, anyway.

Castiel almost laughed aloud at that. Goodbye, my friend. Thank you.

Castiel felt a kind of surge, a warm, wordless goodbye, before the soul freed itself from it's body. There was a sharp shock and Castiel realized he was alone in the body...his body, now.

Nothing had changed, yet everything had. Castiel reached out and touched his own coat. Sensation had always been very real for him but now it was different. Now, he was the only one experiencing it, the only one receiving the signals that he was touching something that was soft from wear and slightly cold from the chill air of the panic room. Sam's warm breath ghosting across his throat felt clearer against his skin, the heavy weight of him more pronounced.

It was incredible.

He was so distracted that he didn't hear the door open, didn't notice anything at all until Dean quietly called his name. When he looked up the hunter was smiling, his eyes traveling from Sammy to Cas, the warmth of that smile erasing some of his earlier pain.

"He's much better," Castiel said.

"I see that," Dean replied.

Shifting Sam carefully, Castiel stood and lifted the younger hunter up onto the bed. He pulled the blanket over him before crossing the room to Dean. They shut the door quietly, hoping to let Sammy sleep longer. Then Dean gestured for Cas to follow him.

"Where are we going?" Cas asked when Dean led him out to the car.

"There's a motel a mile from here," Dean answered as they climbed in. "Bobby'll keep an eye on Sammy. He's okay enough for us to leave, right?"

Castiel nodded. "He's through the worst of it."

Dean said nothing further, so Castiel leaned back in the seat, his head tilted to the side so he could watch the hunter. It took only a few seconds of silence for Dean to reach for the radio. It was another band he thought he recognized...something to do with a van...

"Van Halen?" Castiel asked uncertainly.

A grin snaked across Dean's face. "Van Halen," He confirmed. "You know, this stuff drives Sammy crazy. It's nice to have someone who doesn't mind it."

"I like some of Sam's music, too," Castiel admitted. Sam listened to softer things, music that touched on what was good in life and made it sound as though it could overcome anything.

"Hey..." Dean reached over and turned the radio down. "Been meaning to ask you...where does Jimmy fit into this?"

Cas reached out and touched Dean's shoulder. Perhaps he hadn't felt as much as he thought he had before because the simple action of setting his fingers against Dean's coat, of feeling the warmth of his body through the material, was so much clearer, so much more than it would have been with Jimmy still inside his body. "He's gone," Castiel said distractedly.

Dean glanced towards him, surprised spiking across his gaze. "Upstairs?"

Cas gave a short, quiet laugh at the term. "Upstairs," He repeated. "He didn't want to stay knowing it could be a very long time before I no longer require this body."

"Don't blame him," Dean murmured. "Don't blame you either," he said quickly. "For being in..." He trailed off with a sigh. "You know?"

"I know."

The rest of the trip was made in silence, with only the rock music to keep it from being complete. The motel they pulled up to was small, Castiel counted only six rooms. A sign in the window of the tiny office told them there were vacancies, so Dean climbed out of the car and went to get them a room. The angel just sat and waited until Dean came back out. He lifted the room key in his hand and wiggled it, grinning in a way Cas suspected was meant to be suggestive. The angel found himself smiling in amusement as he got out of the car.

"We're down at the end," Dean said as Cas came up beside him.

Castiel just nodded and followed the hunter down to the room.

The interior was better than some of the other places Sam and Dean had stayed in. The room was small and seemed all the smaller because of the dark, fake wood paneling. The rug was a dark shade of brown as well, and the blanket spread neatly across the twin bed was deep green. Castiel had the sense that the owners had attempted to give the room a forest feel.

The clatter of the key landing on the small, round table beside the door startled the angel. He glanced over at Dean and felt the flutter start up again, so intensely that he almost felt ill.

"Cas? You okay?" Dean asked. He started to reach up, then seemed to think better of it and lowered his hand again.

"I think so," Castiel answered. "Why did you do that?"

Dean frowned at him. "Do what?"

Castiel took a step forward and touched Dean's hand. "You started to touch me. Then you stopped."

"Oh." Dean glanced down at their hands and smiled nervously. "I'm clueless, that's why."

Cas smiled slightly and somewhat helplessly. "We don't have to do anything right away," He mentioned as he stepped a little closer. "We have all night."

Dean grinned oddly, as though he wasn't sure what to do with that. "A night off. When was the last time...oh yeah, never!" He glanced down at their hands, then shook himself suddenly, as though snapping out of a daze. "Okay, right. TV. You haven't really seen TV yet, have you?"

"Not really," Castiel answered, casting a dubious gaze at said television.

"Good start," Dean muttered, more to himself than Cas. He slipped his hand inside the angel's and pulled him towards the bed.

For some reason he couldn't explain, Castiel felt a surge of something warm and silly envelope him. Was it simply because Dean had just taken his hand like it was the most natural thing in the world to do?

The two sat down on the end of the bed after Dean retrieved the remote. For a few minutes he flipped through channels, muttering under his breath about crappy stations. Then he settled on something that he appeared to recognize.

"Man in the Iron Mask," He said when Castiel gave him a questioning look. "No monsters to be found!" He added with a grin. "You know the story about the three musketeers?"


The next ten minutes of the movie were spent explaining the history of the story and this particular movie's take on it. Castiel liked D'artagnan almost immediately. He was strong and loyal, even though the man he served was weak and arrogant. Dean seemed to like Porthos, which made perfect sense to the angel. His personality was somewhat similar to the hunter's own.

"I don't think I like this," Castiel declared a while later, when the king brought the woman who had been engaged to the soldier to the palace.

"Why not?" Dean asked without moving his eyes from the screen.

"He killed that man, Raoul, just so he could take the girl."

"Well...yeah," Dean shrugged one shoulder. "He thinks he's entitled to everything. Keep watching, it gets better."

Castiel's eyes narrowed doubtfully but he did as asked.

When the king took the woman to his room, Castiel almost looked away, until he watched him bend down and kiss her throat. He cocked his head in the way he always did when he was curious; that looked...interesting.

Twisting around, Castiel leaned over and pressed his lips against the side of Dean's throat, before the butterflies could come back and prevent him from acting. A quiet, sharp breath was sucked in through Dean's nose in response. A click and sudden silence told Cas the TV had been turned off.

"Is this okay?" Castiel asked, his lips brushing against the rough skin of Dean's neck. There was a small, jagged scar there, just beneath his jaw. A knife? A fang? Something stranger?

"Yeah." Dean shifted, bringing his arm up and around Castiel's shoulders. His fingers slid into his hair, slowly and carefully, rubbing against his scalp in a way that sent pleasant tingles rushing down the angel's spine. "More than okay, actually."

Gently, Dean used the grip he had in Castiel's hair to tilt back his head. For a moment the two simply stared at each other, letting the significance of what was about to happen sink in. Then, just as gently, Dean leaned down and brushed his lips against Cas's, more the breath of a caress than a kiss. Though he wanted more Castiel didn't push, just let Dean set the pace, let the hunter move against him as he wanted, and marveled at the softness of the other man's touches. For some reason he couldn't explain, Castiel hadn't expected gentleness from him.

Another brush, then a more firm press at the corner of his mouth. That made Castiel smile and he decided right then and there to stop wondering why certain things made him have certain reactions. All that really mattered was that they did and that, at the moment, he really, really liked those reactions.

Dean sat back a bit, not retreating, simply settling in for a different approach. His eyes traveled down the length of Castiel's body, pulling a shiver through him that gave Cas the strange vision of his body somehow being tethered to Dean's gaze. It made him laugh, quietly, the experience still too new for anything bolder. Dean grinned, his wide, full grin that made the corners of his eyes crinkle.

"You laughed." Dean reached up and touched Castiel's lips, which were still curved in a smile.

"I've laughed before," Castiel said. "Remember when you tried"

"Hook you up?" Dean chuckled at the memory; the look on Castiel's face had been priceless. "Yeah, I remember. That didn't count. That was more of a chuckle. This was a laugh. It's different."

"I like laughing," Castiel said. He bent until their foreheads were touching, liking the closeness. "You make me laugh."

"Glad I'm useful for something," Dean responded gruffly. He kissed Cas again, a little more firmly, a little more deeply. "Hey, Cas?"


"We have way too many clothes on."

Castiel started to laugh again, more fully, enjoying the way it filled his chest and made the world seem a distant memory. He laughed harder when Dean growled playfully and attacked his coat, tearing at it in a manner that only made it more difficult to get off. One of the hunter's hands somehow ended up half way down a sleeve while Castiel's arms were trapped, both by the coat hanging off his elbows and the arms wriggling around his back. A particularly rough yank sent them tumbling backwards onto the bed in an amused, tangled mess. Castiel didn't mind in the slightest that he couldn't move his arms, that he was trapped, because it was Dean above him, Dean suddenly abandoning the coat to work at the buttons on his shirt, Dean who had him utterly helpless in more ways than one.

"I'm stuck," Cas declared when Dean did not return to the coat once his shirt had been unbuttoned.

Dean's grin was predatory this time. "I know."

Pushing the shirt open, Dean leaned down and sealed his lips just above the angel's collar bone. Castiel sucked in a surprised breath at the jolt of pleasure the action caused. If that simple touched caused such a reaction, what would happen when Dean reached a sensitive place?

The hunter lifted himself up onto his knees, then slowly, curiously, reached down and flattened both hands against Castiel's chest. He left them still a moment, then curled his fingertips inwards in a massaging motion and oh, Cas liked that. He liked that very much.

"Weird," Dean murmured suddenly. "I'm so used to touching, well, boobs."

Castiel had to rip his focus away from the sensation Dean was causing with his hands in order to answer. "Is it bad?"

"No," Dean replied with a shake of his head. "That's what's weird. Guess it's cause it's you, you know? I mean, I really like you, Cas, the person...angel...whatever. So it's okay that you're a dude. Does this make any sense?"

"Not really," Castiel said lightly. He didn't really care why Dean liked him, so long as he did. "Will you untangle me? I want to touch you, too."

"Nah," Dean responded distractedly. His hands slid downwards, fingers flicking over the dusky points of the angel's nipples. A gasp escaped passed Castiel's lips as he arched into the touch, the sweet sensation zinging straight to his crotch. When Dean had taken him to that horrid place and that girl, Chastity, had taken him to the back, he couldn't remember any sensations like this, couldn't remember even starting to get hard. Now, after just a few kisses and Dean's hands on his chest, he could have cut diamonds. "Kinda like you this way," the hunter continued. He rubbed his fingers across the rapidly hardening points again, more firmly, before concerned eyes suddenly darted up to meet Castiel's. "Is it okay?"

Cas nodded immediately; he still wanted to touch Dean, badly, but he liked this, too. He liked that Dean could do whatever he wanted right then and Castiel couldn't stop him. Well, alright, one good pull and he could tear the coat in half but he happened to like this thing. Besides, he wanted to keep up the illusion.

It made him feel more human. He was beginning to enjoy feeling human.

As soon as he'd received permission Dean leaned down and sealed his lips around Castiel's left nipple, rolling his tongue against it as he rapidly flicked a finger across the other. A low moan rumbled in the angel's chest as his hips surged upwards, the pleasure of Dean's actions driving him to seek a touch, any touch, to relieve some of the pressure growing there. He felt Dean's free hand slide onto his hip, pausing just a moment before it slid slowly across to cup him through his pants.

"Whoa." Dean sat up slightly, twisting around to stare down at his hand. "That's...whoa."

"Is whoa good?" Cas gasped hopefully, because if it wasn't and Dean moved his hand away he was going to have a serious problem.

"Yeah," Dean answered distantly. He kneaded his hand once, causing the angel to let out a strangled cry. A grin flitted across the hunter's face and he did it again, more firmly.

Cas began to struggle against the coat again, his need to touch Dean flaring into something frantic. Dean reached up to help him, finally yanking the coat down and throwing it across the bed to land somewhere on the floor. He did the same to the angel's shirt, then lifted up his arms when Castiel began pulling at Dean's own shirt. The angel felt actual, sharp relief when Dean laid himself across Cas, skin against skin bringing a sense of intimacy so strong he wouldn't have thought it possible. He brought up his hands and pressed them against Dean's chest, running them straight down until he reached the waistline of the hunter's jeans. Everything was hard muscle and soft, hot skin, a combination Castiel found utterly addicting.

No wonder humans did this so frequently. It felt so good.

On impulse, Castiel wriggled himself down enough to lean up and kiss Dean's chest, roughly in the center. Dean gasped above him, a sound that shot straight through Castiel's body, making him want to hear more. His fingers slipped just inside Dean's jeans as his mouth began an exploration of the expanse of skin before him. Though he had no real idea what he was doing or if he was doing it right, Castiel didn't let it stop him and from the sounds flying from Dean's mouth he didn't mind in the least bit. He tried the same action Dean had done to him earlier, sealing his lips around one nipple while flicking at the other with his fingers.

"Damn, Cas!" Dean breathed abruptly. Castiel felt a hand close around his head, holding him there, before it left as quickly as it had come. The chest above him shifted and he let out a tiny sound of complaint when Dean moved away; he'd really liked doing that!

Dean chuckled as he scooted down Castiel's body. "Believe me, I'm not complaining," he assured the angel. His fingers reached up and began to work at the buttons on Castiel's pants. "But if you're in the same condition I am, these are getting painful."

Cas glanced down at the hands working his fly and realized for the first time that it was getting rather painful. He pushed himself up onto his elbows, watching as the button came undone, as Dean took the zipper and pulled it down slowly. Anticipation flooded him in thick, drugging waves, making his breath pant passed his lips and his hips surge forward again, which made Dean chuckle. He took pity on the angel and reached up, gripping both the jeans and the boxers beneath them and yanking them off in one quick motion, tossing them down to join the coat, leaving Castiel completely exposed. It was a strange sensation, making him feel at once incredibly excited and extremely nervous.

"Your turn," Castiel said roughly when Dean failed to remove his own jeans, instead simply sitting there staring down at the angel with wide, fascinated eyes.

"What? Oh, right," Dean answered distractedly. Then he grinned suddenly, mischievously. "Wanna help me?"

Castiel laughed at that. The simple act caused the nervousness in him to wash away, leaving only the excitement and that silly, happy feeling he was quickly growing to like. He shifted around until he was on his stomach in front of Dean, reaching up to fumble at his fly with uncertain fingers. Dean stared down at him, his eyes half lidded and heavy with lust, somehow making Cas feel a little more sure of himself. He slid the hunter's jeans and boxers half way off before Dean kicked them the rest of the way down.

Dean's cock was at full attention, almost flat against his belly. Cas stared a moment, head cocked curiously, before he leaned forward on another sudden impulse and pressed his open mouth against the base. From the sharp cry Dean released, Castiel guessed this action had been a good idea.

Shifting up onto his elbows for better access, Castiel leaned forward and flicked his tongue experimentally across the head of Dean's cock. The hunter's hips jerked forward with a strangled cry. Hands slid into his hair, gripping almost too tightly, tugging encouragingly, so Castiel opened his mouth and took in as much of Dean as he could manage without choking.

"Fuck, Cas!" Dean shouted, his fingers tightening erratically in Castiel's hair.

Castiel felt a new sensation, something that made him want to smile despite his hot, hard mouthful. It was...satisfaction. He liked hearing Dean lose control like that, knowing the reason for it was Cas himself. He slid up a bit and then down again, rolling his tongue against the base, hoping for another sound. This time it was a long, low groan that sent arousal spiking down his spine and straight to his own neglected cock. His fingers twitched as he considered touching himself but it felt wrong, somehow. He wanted his first touch to be from Dean's hand, not his own.

Feeling bolder now that Dean's reactions had assured him, Castiel shifted again so he could bring up one hand. He slipped it between Dean's legs to brush his fingers against the sac, tentatively at first, then more firmly when the action gained him another moan. So that was a good place, too. Determined to hear more of those sounds, Castiel lifted up onto his knees and slowly took Dean all the way in, despite the gag reflex that tried its best to stop him. It didn't matter, nothing mattered but bringing Dean as much pleasure as he could possibly give him. It was yet another new feeling, another link in the chain of reasoning that led him to understand why so many angels had fallen from heaven. This was why, to feel, to live, to love.

"Oh shit, Cas, you don't have to..." Castiel looked up in time to see Dean's eyes roll up into his head, his mouth moving but words escaping him. He felt a tug in his hair, telling him it was okay to pull back, then Dean's gaze dropped back down and fell to lock with Cas's own eyes.

Somehow, it was the most arousing thing that had happened yet. Castiel swallowed around Dean just once, keeping eye contact, and Dean's orgasm ripped through him, tearing a cry from his lips as he emptied himself into Cas. The angel was unable to stop himself from choking but refused to pull back until Dean sank bonelessly onto the bed. Only then did Cas let him go, gasping slightly and wiping at the cum that had leaked out from between his lips. It tasted strange, he thought. Salty, almost, yet it wasn't entirely unpleasant.

For a few long moments Dean simply lay there, limbs splayed out, eyes closed, panting as though he'd just outrun a werewolf. When he finally opened his eyes again the hunger in them was so intense that it pinned Castiel to the spot, leaving him utterly helpless when Dean suddenly pounced.

"I'm going to destroy you," Dean growled playfully in the angel's ear as they tumbled back against the covers. "That's a good thing," He added quickly when Castiel opened his mouth to question.

"Oh. Okay," Castiel agreed easily. That didn't make much sense, but then again most of what humans did made little sense.

Dean lifted himself up over Castiel, so he was hovering on all fours. "Roll over."

Castiel frowned; roll over? "Onto my stomach?"

Dean nodded and flashed him a grin. "Trust me."

Well, that was easy enough. Castiel turned over onto his stomach, sighing in pleasure when his aching cock rubbed against the soft sheets. He crossed his arms, rested his forehead against them and waited to see what Dean would do.

The first touch came to his back, fingers digging under his shoulder blades, where just the echo of his wings could be felt. A hiss of pleasure snaked through his teeth as he arched into Dean's hands, like a cat asking for a firmer stroke.

Dean chuckled. "Thought so," He murmured as he pressed again, harder this time.

Castiel groaned out something that started as Dean's name and trailed off into something unintelligible. One thing was for certain, it was a sound of immense pleasure. He pressed up against Dean's hands again, completely blown away by the indescribable sensation zinging from Dean's fingers and throughout his body. He released another incomprehensible yet extremely happy sound when Dean leaned down and pressed his open mouth against the angel's back.

A quiet chuckle rolled against his skin suddenly. Cas lifted up on his elbows and twisted around in an attempt to see Dean, his eyes half lidded and heavy with the lust pouring through his body. A flash of Dean's earlier expression made him wonder if he looked the same way. "What are you laughing at?"

Dean glanced up at him and grinned. "Myself. I'm having way more fun then I thought I would."

Cas couldn't help but grin back at that. "Good. Don't. Stop."

Dean laughed, a full laugh this time. The vibrations danced lightly across Castiel's skin, sinking inside and pulling a laugh from him as well. He hadn't expected laughter to be a part of this but it was a welcome surprise.

While the hunter's hands continued to knead at his shoulder blades, Dean's lips began to wander lower, mouthing experimentally along his spine, tongue exploring the curve of his lower back. Castiel had the strange and random thought that if he could purr, he would. As it was his hands were already gripping and pressing at the pillow much the way a cat would knead. Low moans sounded from deep in his chest almost constantly, a basic and easy way to tell Dean he really liked what he was doing and please please please don't stop.

"Hey, Cas," Dean murmured suddenly. His hands slid downwards along the angel's sides, lightly enough that it caused a strange sensation Castiel had heard referred to as 'tickling'. They came to rest on his hips and began to pull. "Roll over."

Castiel didn't have to be told twice. Anticipation spiked through him in a nearly unbearable wave as he rolled onto his back. Dean hovered above him, hands now planted on the bed on either side of Cas, staring down at him with the hunger the angel had kept expecting to see while they were chasing down Famine. He felt pinned to the spot by it, blissfully helpless as the hunter's eyes traveled up his body, then slowly, slowly back down.

"Dean," Castiel murmured suddenly. He was a little amazed he was able to talk at all at this point. "You don't have to."

He could see it now, beyond the hunger, a hesitance in Dean's eyes. Whether he was uncertain of himself or his own desire, the angel wasn't sure.

"I want to," Dean assured him with a quick flash of a grin. "Just need my brain to catch up with my body."

"Yours is still functioning?" Cas said disbelievingly.

Dean froze, just for a second, before he burst out laughing. The full weight of the hunter came crashing down on top of him when his arms failed to support him. Castiel felt them loop around his shoulders as the hunter buried his face in Cas's chest. The angel wasn't sure why that was so funny but felt himself smiling anyway, just because Dean was happy.

"I really like you, Cas," Dean chuckled against the angel's chest.

Castiel almost simply said he knew that already, and then he realized that this was something humans did. They told each other, assured each other, or sometimes just said it for a reason he wasn't sure of yet. Just because? Just because it felt right?

Yes. That made sense.

"I like you too," Cas said finally. "Obviously."

Dean let out another short burst of laughter at that. "Yeah. I would never get naked with any dude but you."

Abruptly, Dean pushed himself up again. "Okay, I'm good. Here goes nothin'."

With that Dean slid down Castiel's body and sucked the head of his cock into his mouth.

"Fuck!" Castiel screamed.

It was better than anything Dean had done yet, too sweet, too good, making him twist the blanket in his hands as he tried desperately to hold his hips still. He didn't even realize what word he'd just cried; he'd sworn, it was one of the first human habits he'd picked up, but he'd never used that particular word.

When Castiel lost the fight and began to move his hips Dean lifted his hands and pressed down, holding him still against the mattress. His mouth slid down further, taking Cas in about half way before he stopped. For a moment he just held himself there, unsure what to do next. Then Cas felt his tongue flick against the underside, just like he'd done to Dean before. The angel arched up off the bed, his hips straining against Dean's hands, wanting more, needing more. He felt one hand leave his hip to encircle what Dean couldn't take in. Then the hunter began to move, up and down, sliding his hand along with his mouth. Dean's hand was rough and dry where his mouth was soft and wet, a contrast that sent the angel into a state of near hysteria. Dean's name began to spill from his lips, frantic and nearly incoherent, when he felt something begin building, a sweet pressure threatening to explode at any moment.

When Dean reached up and brushed his fingers over Cas's sac, echoing the angel's actions again, the pressure didn't just explode. It crashed over him, through him, out of him, waves and waves of pleasure so intense that Castiel threw back his head and released a wordless scream. It went on for what at once seemed endless hours and yet only a few seconds, until finally he was slumped against the bed, every muscle in his body relaxed, a vague sense of that intense pleasure still hovering within his body.

Afterglow, he thought distantly.

Dean slid up the bed and collapsed beside Cas, one arm flung out so it rested behind the angel's head. Somehow, Castiel managed to make his body move enough to press himself against the hunter, using his arm as a pillow. The afterglow was almost as nice as the climax itself, he thought sleepily as he let his heavy eyes slip closed.

"You fallin' asleep down there?" Dean murmured, sounding just as tired as Cas suddenly felt.

"Mm," Cas answered.

Dean chuckled softly. "Night."

"Night," Cas muttered.

... * ...

When Castiel woke the sun was shining through the only window the little room had. Dean was sitting at the end of the bed. His coat was sitting beside him but he hadn't pulled any of his clothes on yet. Cas found he was rather glad of that. Naked Dean was something he had a feeling he was going to become addicted to.

"Morning," Castiel said when Dean seemed to notice he was awake.

Dean twisted around abruptly, looking surprised, before he smiled. "Morning." He lifted what he'd taken from his coat; the valentine card Castiel had given him. It seemed years had passed since that moment. "Dude, could you have picked a tackier card?"

The angel laughed. It came easily this time, naturally. "Probably," He said. "I got my point across, didn't I?"

"Yeah, you did that," Dean chuckled. He slipped the card back into his pocket and knocked the coat off the bed. "So, it's seven. I figure we've got a couple more hours to laze around before we go back to Bobby's."

Back to reality, was what he meant. For now, Castiel decided to pretend reality didn't exist. "Are we going to watch more TV?"

"Nah, nothin' on, already checked," Dean said with a shake of his head. He twisted around to crawl across the bed so he could flop down next to Cas.

"Then I have a question," Castiel said as soon as Dean had settled. "What does coo-coo for cocoa puffs mean?"

He never got his answer. Dean began to laugh as hard as he had last night, when Cas had asked if his brain was still functioning. Laughter led to kissing, which led to more things that kept them occupied for the remainder of their time together.

Sam was out of the panic room and sitting at the kitchen table when they got back. His face was still somewhat pale and his eyes still haunted, though they brightened when Dean and Castiel came into the room. He laughed when Castiel gave him a thumbs up, which he was pretty sure was a sign of confirmation.

"Both of you, shut up," Dean muttered as he poked his head into the fridge.

"I didn't say anything," Castiel said with a confused frown.

Sam shook his head and Castiel realized this was another thing he didn't understand yet. Maybe the thumbs up had counted as communication?

"Dean, you do realize that I am never going to let you hear the end of this, right?" Sam said with a grin as Dean sat down at the table with two beers. He held one out to Cas, who accepted it after a second's hesitation. At this point there really wasn't any reason not to take it.

"Shut up," Dean said again, and Castiel realized he was hiding a smile behind his beer bottle.

"Only until we get back on the road," Sam said. "Then it begins! That means you too, Cas."

"What is it that I won't be hearing the end of?"

Sam and Dean shared a look. "You'll see," They said as one.

"That's assuming that you're going with us," Dean said suddenly, gruffly.

Are you afraid I'll leave you, Dean? Castiel wondered.

"I'll ride in the car with you," Castiel said in answer to his question. "I really don't have anywhere else I need to be anymore."

"Great! I get to torment both of you!" Sam said happily.

Dean abruptly set down his bottle with a loud bang! and stood from his chair. "Excuse me, Cas, I have to kill my brother."

Sam let out a quiet 'oh shit!' and bolted from the room. Once, Castiel wouldn't have recognized this as playing. Now he just laughed as Dean ran out after his little brother. He opened the beer and tried a sip, decided almost immediately that he didn't like it, then stood and went into the other room when he heard Sam let out a loud 'ow!'

"Dean, let him go," Castiel said, amusement tingeing his voice when he saw Dean had Sam in a headlock.

Dean let him go but instead of stopping the brothers attacked Cas instead. Unsure what he was supposed to do, the angel ended up pinned beneath the both of them, struggling and laughing as it turned into a bizarre kind of wrestling match.

A loud "Idjits!" ended the play. Sam and Dean bolted up from the floor with twin expressions of embarrassment on their faces. Cas simply lay there, his head craned up so he could see Bobby staring down at them with a look somewhere between annoyance and amusement. Dean reached down a hand to help him up when Sam went over to talk to Bobby. Cas accepted it and let the hunter haul him to his feet.

"Sorry," Dean muttered suddenly. "We got carried away."

"Don't apologize," Castiel said immediately. "I haven't seen you that at ease with Sam in a long time. was fun."

Dean grinned and leaned over to give the angel a quick kiss. "Guess we better hit the road. Got an apocalypse to stop.

Oh yes. He'd almost forgotten about it.

"Oh, hey..." Dean fumbled in his jacket pocket and produced the card. "Here." He shoved it into the angel's hand and hurried towards Sam and Bobby.

Cas stared at the heart and 'Be Mine' in confusion for a moment, unsure what Dean's giving it back to him meant. Then he turned it over and saw something had been written on the blank side, a single word that made him smile when he read it.


... * ...


This was way longer than I originally intended but I think it turned out well. I wanted to write something a little lighter to make up for the dark tone of this particular season. Hope you enjoyed it! ^_^