Author's notes: Set in an AR. After the Apocalypse Castiel fell and became human; now he's hunting with the boys.
This fic was written for a prompt at Dean/Cas Secret Santa exchange at LJ. It is finished so I will update it soon. I hope you like it. Reviews are love.
Bright morning light filled the confines of the diner making everything look sharper.
Dean liked mornings. Mornings smelled like coffee and breakfast; mornings were simple – it's hard to hide anything in their exposing light.
He watched his brother frowning thoughtfully across the table - Sam was reading something from the screen of his laptop - Dean could tell by the way his eyes moved. There had been thousands of mornings like this – Sam researching, Dean devouring his breakfast listening to the sounds of the diner buzzing around them. But there was one thing that was still unusual - the person sitting at Dean's side of the booth.
The first thing they found out about Castiel after he had started hunting with them was that Castiel wasn't really a morning person. Dean was sure it was only Castiel's trait, not Jimmy's. First, the poor guy was long gone, second - where have you seen a righteous man who doesn't like mornings?
Castiel was different. He didn't talk much in the mornings, preferring to listen to Dean and Sam, sipping on his black coffee and dropping occasional comments here and there. The ex-angel was still a little indifferent about food, regarding it as a rather irritating necessity to maintain his human body, so he never had breakfast. Dean always insisted that he order one though, hoping that one day Cas would realize 'how awesome' it is. But more often than not Dean ended up eating Castiel's breakfast himself, just like this time.
"Is there anything up our alley?" he asked his brother, munching on the hashbrowns from Castiel's plate.
Without any words, Castiel moved the plate closer to him. Dean smiled at him and took few more.
No matter what Cas thought about mornings, Dean thought he looked good at this time of the day. He still had bed hair –black strands standing at various angles – and his skin looked soft and smooth in the pale sunlight. His eyes studying Dean from above his steaming mug were a bright, clear shade of blue.
Sam's voice distracted Dean from his musings. "Here's what I found. 'Christmas, 1917 was a time of dark despair. American soldiers were dying at an ungodly rate in a war-torn Europe while at home, a deadly strain of the flu virus attacked young and old alike. Tragedy was a visitor on every doorstep while a creeping hopelessness set in with every man, woman and child. But here at 1501 Larkspur Lane, for a pair of star-crossed lovers tragedy came not from war or pestilence- not by the boot heel or the bombardier- but by their own innocent hands. His name was Maurice. He was a brooding but heroic young man beloved of Lydia, a sublime beauty with a light that seemed to follow her wherever she went. They were likened to two angels descended from heaven whom the gods could not protect from the horrors being visited upon this cold, grey earth. Driven by a tragic fear of separation, they forged a lovers' pact so that they might spend eternity together and not spend one precious Christmas apart'." He looked up from the laptop.
"They killed themselves?" Dean asked, finishing his coffee.
Sam nodded. "It's an advertisement. It says here that their house was turned into a museum and anyone who visits it will find 'the love of their life'."
Dean snorted at that. "And what does another Twilight story have to do with us?"
"Well, I've checked the newspapers. Turns out the house is now a local legend. Twenty people claim that they found their 'true love' after visiting it."
Dean shrugged. "It could be a coincidence."
"Wait, you haven't heard the most important part." Sam paused dramatically. "Their bodies were never found," he said victoriously.
"So you think that their ghosts are hanging around and making people fall in love? What kind of ghosts are they anyway?"
"Ghosts of two star-crossed lovers who want other people to have something they couldn't?" Sam suggested. "Ghosts don't necessarily have to be mean; you know that."
"Okay, alright, even if they do make people fall in love or find their true love or whatever… what does that have to do with us? We save people from death, not love." Dean reached out and took another hashbrown from Castiel's plate, chewing thoughtfully.
"I think Sam has a point, Dean," Castiel finally cut in, which meant that the coffee probably worked and finally woke the sleepyhead ex-angel up. "Even if these restless souls do no harm, they still interfere in the natural course of people's lives. Perhaps those people weren't meant to fall in love." Dean wanted to retort, wanted to say that was exactly what Cupid was doing, but didn't. Even though Cas seemed okay with his new life, Dean was still unsure how he would react to the reminder of his family.
"Cas has a point," Sam agreed. "Here's what else I found. It is said here that one guy even left his wife with a three year old child after they visited the museum, claiming that he finally found his significant other. So there is at least one ruined family."
"Again, it could be a coincidence."
"And it could not be. Don't you think we should check? Besides, we don't have anything else at the moment. And it's only a couple hours drive." Sam looked at his brother expectantly.
Dean hesitated. "Okay, let's go check," he finally agreed.
"Don't you think that we should take some precautions first?" Castiel asked. "Make sure it won't affect us?"
"Oh, please." Dean snorted. "You're a dude; Sam is a dude and my brother. What can possibly happen?"
A couple of hours turned out to be the whole day. It was almost midnight when they reached their destination, parking the Impala at 1501 Larkspur Lane. The dark, gothic manor stood separately surrounded by a thicket of overgrowth hugged by low fog.
The night air was chilling to the bone, and Dean regretted they had to leave the relatively warm confines of the car. "You know, Sam, I guess you were right. This place practically screams 'ghosts inside'," he said, jumping over the fence. Sam and Castiel followed behind him.
They went around the house and broke in from the back door. It turned out to be easier than they expected.
Inside, the house smelled like dust and mold; wooden floors creaked with every step they took.
"This is not what I expected from a museum," Castiel said in a low voice. "I thought museums were about pictures and sculptures, not old furniture and cobwebs.
Dean chuckled. "That makes two of us."
"It's a different kind of museum," Sam explained, looking for a switch with his flashlight. "Sometimes people don't want pictures and sculptures. Sometimes they want to see how people lived before, to feel the atmosphere."
"Yeah, to feel the atmosphere of dust and cobwebs," Dean muttered and felt rather than saw Sam rolling his eyes in the dark. To his amusement, he also heard Castiel chuckle softly at the other end of the room. This was another thing he noticed about human Cas. He liked his jokes. Or let himself show that he did.
They divided and searched the house twice, but an hour later they still had nothing.
"Maybe there are no ghosts," Sam finally suggested. "Maybe there is an object, something that belonged to the owners that makes people fall in love."
"The house is full of old crap, Sam; it could be anything," Dean said, kicking the corner of a big dusty fireplace with his boot. "It would take months to find out what it is. We might as well burn the whole house."
"Perhaps that won't be necessary," Castiel said from the opposite side of the living room. He was standing in front of a huge stack of books, studying the worn spines.
"Find anything?" Dean came to stand next to him, looking at the hundreds of books.
"Here." Castiel pointed at one of the spines. "All the books here are placed in alphabetical order. But this one is misplaced."
Dean looked at it. "Hey, you're right."
Castiel raised his eyebrows. "I know I am."
"Good news, Sammy, you're not the only nerd on the team," Dean announced over his shoulder.
Castiel ignored him and took the book from the shelf. Suddenly, the whole stack started moving, opening an entry in the wall.
"Turns out even nice ghosts have secrets," Dean muttered, studying the darkness that gaped at them.
Castiel stepped inside and disappeared. Dean wanted to tell him to be careful, but it was too late. He stumbled over something and fell with a muffled sound, sending specks of dust dancing in the beams of Dean's flashlight.
"Cas, you okay?" He stepped inside, careful not to fall himself.
"I'm fine," Castiel informed him from the floor. "And I think I found the star-crossed lovers."
Dean turned the flashlight in the direction of his voice. Castiel was sitting on the floor in a pile of bones, covered in dust and cobwebs all over him.
"Is Cas okay?" Sam asked worriedly, poking his head into the entry.
"Well, he could really use a shower," Dean informed him, offering Castiel a hand. "But otherwise I think he's fine. And say hello to Maurice and Lydia here."
They collected all the bones, making sure nothing was left, and got out of the house. It didn't take much time to burn them, and soon they could leave.
They were already by the Impala when Dean stopped Castiel with a hand on his shoulder. "Wait." Castiel looked at him questioningly. "There is, uh, this stuff is all over your hair." He reached out and shook the dust motes off. Castiel stood still and stared at him, lips slightly parted in surprise which made Dean's hand stop. "What?"
Castiel shook his head. "Nothing, um. Thanks."
Somebody knocked on the motel door. Four short knocks – Sam already knew who it was even before he'd opened it. "Cas? I thought you were asleep."
Castiel walked into the room and looked around. "Where's Dean?"
"He's in shower. Why? Are you okay?" When the light fell on Castiel's face, Sam noticed how pale he was. There was a crease of worry between his eyebrows that hadn't been there a couple of hours ago. "I can call Dean if you want."
Castiel shook his head. "I wanted to talk to you in private." He perched on the edge of Sam's bed, fidgeting uneasily.
"Okay. What about?"
"I think something's wrong with me," Castiel said seriously.
Sam tensed. "What do you mean wrong? Are you hurt?"
Castiel shook his head. "Not really. It's just… I don't feel so good," he said meaningfully, as if Sam had to understand everything himself.
"Are you sick or something?" the hunter tried. "C'mon Cas, you have to help me here. What exactly is wrong?"
Castiel sighed and looked away. "Something happened to me in that house. I think…" he took a deep breath and blurted out, "I think I'm in love with Dean."
At first Sam was sure he misheard. "You… what? Say that again." Cas must have meant something else.
But Castiel lowered his gaze, suddenly very interested in the pattern on the carpet. He was desperately blushing. "You heard me."
"Uh, okay… that's… that's huge," Sam said slowly and sat on the bed next to him. "Are you sure you are?"
Castiel gave him the 'don't be a dumbass' look. "I am certain."
"How can you tell? I mean, sorry, man, but it's not like you are an expert on human emotions."
Castiel sighed. "I spent the whole evening thinking about how his fingers accidently brushed my forehead when he removed the dust from my hair. So yeah, I am pretty sure." His voice was dripping sarcasm.
"Okay, sorry." Sam scratched the back of his head, confused. What do people usually say when a guy who happens to be an ex-angel says he's in love with your brother? There had probably been no precedents.
"I believe I was cursed in that manor. Whatever it is, it's still working. We need to go back and stop it," Castiel said sternly.
"Going back there right now will be useless, Cas. First we need to figure out what it is."
Castiel winced and shook his head. "Sam, I can't wait that long. My heart is beating so fast I'm afraid it will explode. There is an awful feeling in my chest as if somebody is tickling it from the inside." He scratched his chest absently through the fabric of his t-shirt. "And it won't go away." A sudden thought flashed on his face. He looked at Sam with pleading eyes. "Please don't tell Dean about it."
Sam hurried to reassure him. "If you say so. But I don't see why we shouldn't. I mean, it's our case, Cas. Dean should know about it. And it's not your fault. He will understand."
Castiel opened his mouth to object, but the door to the bathroom suddenly opened and Dean appeared in the door frame wearing only a towel wrapped around his waist. "Hey, Cas." He grinned at his friend and stepped into the room, rummaging through his belongings in search of fresh clothes.
His arms and chest were covered with water drops that played in the light with every move; his hair was still dripping water.
Castiel didn't reply so Dean turned and looked at him once again. "Are you okay?"
"Uh, Cas says he probably caught a cold," Sam explained, hoping he sounded convincing.
Dean glanced at Castiel again. "You do look a little flustered. Are you sure you don't have a fever?" Before Castiel could reply, Dean approached him and put a hand on his forehead.
Castiel clenched his jaw and waited a beat before muttering in a hoarse voice, "I'm fine."
Dean woke up in the middle of the night. There was somebody in his bed although he clearly remembered falling asleep alone.
With his eyes sill closed, he slowly reached for the knife under his pillow and took hold of the reassuring coolness of the handle.
A second later he jerked up, pressing the intruder to the bed with his elbow, holding the blade at his throat. "Who are you?" The person was squirming under him.
"Dean?" Sam woke up too, and the room filled with light from the lamp on the nightstand. It took Dean's eyes a few seconds to adjust.
"Dean. It's me." A familiar voice sounded from under the sheets.
Dean looked down and blinked twice. "Cas?" Castiel was staring up at him with wide eyes, breathing heavily.
"It's me," he said again. Dean stared at him blankly. "Let go. You're suffocating me."
Slowly Dean removed his elbow and got off Castiel, putting the knife away. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Castiel sat up, freeing his limbs that had gotten tangled in the blanket. "I...couldn't get to sleep." He looked somewhat embarrassed. Dean expected more explanations, but they didn't follow.
"I mean what are you doing here? In my friggin' bed! I could have killed you, man. What were you doing?"
"I don't know."
"What do you mean you don't know?" Dean sounded alarmed. "Cas. Look at me." He grabbed Castiel by the shoulders and lowered his head to look him in the eyes. "Look at me." He shook his shoulders lightly. Their eyes locked. "Do you remember how you got here?"
Castiel raised his eyebrows. "I don't suffer from memory loss if that's what you mean. Or sleepwalking, for that matter."
Dean still looked suspicious. "So you came here on purpose?" Castiel didn't reply. "What did you want?"
"I said I couldn't sleep. I… wanted to see you," he added quietly.
"Okay." Dean relaxed a little. "What did you want to talk about?"
"I didn't say I wanted to talk."
"Um. Okay. So you just wanted to see me?"
Castiel sighed. "I'm sorry. I wasn't intending to wake you up."
Dean tensed again. "Let me get this straight. You wanted to see me…while I sleep?"
It was either a trick of the light or Castiel was desperately blushing. "Yes." He bit his lower lip, turning away.
"Why?" Dean squeezed his shoulders lightly to draw Castiel's attention back to himself.
"Oh, for god's sake!" Sam groaned from his bed, getting tired of them. "Dean, Cas is in love with you."
"Sam!" Castiel growled.
"He's what?" Dean almost shouted.
"What you heard. He's cursed. Whatever was in that house, it's still working."
For a few seconds, Dean just stared from his brother to Castiel and back, stunned. "How long have you known?" He asked Sam.
"Ever since we got back. So not that long."
"And neither of you took the time to tell me?" Irritation was starting to boil inside him.
"Dean, it is no concern of yours," Castiel said evenly. "We were going to figure it out on our own." But he couldn't fool Dean. The hunter could hear uncertainty behind the cool demeanor.
"Not my concern? Hell, it is my concern, Cas." Dean snapped at him, hoping he didn't sound hurt. "If my best friend falls in love with me, I prefer being the first one to know," He snapped and only then realized what he'd just said.
Castiel didn't miss it either, judging by his deepening blush. "I'm sorry, Dean. I should have told you. But I was afraid you would…"
"Freak out," Sam finished helpfully.
Dean rubbed the bridge of his nose, trying to grasp what he'd just heard. So Cas was in love with him. And judging by his behaviour, they were in big trouble.
Suddenly very aware of his state of undress, he pulled the blanket up to cover his naked chest. "Don't worry, Cas. We'll figure it out," he said encouragingly. "We'll do research, find out what's making people fall in love and destroy it. Now let's get some sleep and decide what to do in the morning, okay?"
Castiel nodded and got out of the bed, leaving their room without saying anything else. Dean had to convince himself that it was not regret that he saw in his eyes.