The rain came down like a solid wall of water, one of those freak prairie storms that blow up out of nowhere. Dean hunched his shoulders against the rain and tried to ignore the cold water sliding past his collar and down his back as he stared accusingly at the Impala's flat tire - Dean swore his baby only ever gave him trouble in blizzards and rainstorms, like she enjoyed being contrary. Sam was sacked out in the back seat, sleeping peacefully for once, and Dean tried to figure out how the hell he was going change the tire without waking him.

Then there was that faint, familiar flutter of wings, almost drowned out by the rain. Before he even knew what was happening Castiel's mouth was on his, Cas' hands on either side of his head holding him still like a calloused vise. There was no finesse to the kiss, no teasing softness, just Cas' lips hard and insistent against Dean's, his tongue demanding access to Dean's mouth like Castiel owned it. Dean told himself someday he wouldn't give in to that unspoken order, that he wouldn't open his mouth to Cas, that just once his insides wouldn't turn to liquid as Cas took him apart with just a flick of his tongue.

Next time. Maybe.

Dean felt Castiel trembling, so slightly Dean doubted anyone else would have picked up on it; if he hadn't known better Dean would have said he was shivering from the rain. When Castiel pulled back, apparently finally remembering Dean was human and needed to breathe every so often, Dean noticed Cas wouldn't look him in the eye, and when he moved his hands away Dean saw blood under his nails. Cas, what did you do? "Cas, what happened?" was what came out instead, because they'd lost the knack for just saying things to each other somewhere along the way.

He heard Cas' breath catch; he was still so close all it would have taken was Dean tilting his head and their lips would be touching again. "Dean, why do you ask me questions you know I won't answer?"

Dean just gave him a look. He caught Cas' right hand and ran his thumb down the length of Cas's fingers, making damn sure Cas knew he'd seen the blood. Rain streamed down Castiel's face, the downpour already plastering his hair down; Dean tipped his chin up, forcing Cas' blue eyes to meet his, then wound Cas' tie around one hand and pulled him in for another kiss.

This kiss was softer than the first, Cas willing to let him lead. Dean traced the inside of Cas' lower lip with deliberate slowness, relishing the whimper he drew from deep in Cas' throat. Castiel shuddered, a single motion traveling down his entire body; he pushed Dean back against the car, his hands clutching hard onto Dean's coat. Dean kissed him like he was tasting Castiel for the very first time, as if they had all the time in the world to explore every inch of each other.

Sometimes Dean thought about the night outside that brothel in-the-middle-of-nowhere Maine, remembered laughing and throwing his arm around Castiel's shoulders as Cas shot him one of his rare smiles, remembered watching his face lighting up like the sun. Dean missed that Cas so much it ached, missed his friend; lately he looked at Castiel and wondered if that guy was even still in there, buried under the sharp-edged, ruthless creature Castiel had become. Sometimes he wondered whether that Cas really had died that day in Lawrence, whether whatever came back just had his memories and wore his face. It made him think of Amelia Novak, remembering her horror at looking up and seeing the angel behind her husband's eyes.

Other times there was this, Castiel shaking in his arms and kissing Dean like he was dying in a desert and Dean was cool water. He pulled Cas' shirt out of his waistband and slid his hands under the sodden fabric, Cas' skin so warm in the cold rain. He scraped his nails down Cas' sides and Cas moaned into Dean's mouth, pressing so close it was like Cas was trying to crawl inside him. Dean grabbed a handful of his hair and wrapped one arm around his waist, splaying his hand flat against Cas' spine. Castiel whispered his name, Dean shaped in a stolen breath like an invocation, heavy with power like a word in one of Cas' spells.

Dean had no idea how long they stood like that in the rain, Castiel pressing Dean against the cold metal of the the car, but it didn't matter. It would always be too soon. "I have to go," Cas said, absently running one hand down the front of Dean's jacket. "I've been away too long already."

Dean put one hand on his sleeve. Don't go. Cas, this is killing you. There's less of you left every time you come back, even you can see that.The words lodged in his throat. And anyway, they'd be coming over a year too late.

Castiel tilted his head, an old, familiar look, and kissed Dean again, gently, barely brushing Dean's lips with his own. Then he was gone, slipping through Dean's fingers like Dean was trying to hold onto the rain.

Dean rubbed his forehead, the beginnings of a migraine blossoming behind his eyes. He remembered what he'd been in the middle of doing and turned back to the tire, pulling up short when he found it repaired and inflated, the rubber and metal spotlessly clean and gleaming in the rain. Dean shook his head, drumming his fingers against the hood. "Just come back, buddy, okay?" Dean said to the air. "Finish this and come back. We can sort out all this bullshit then."

Sam stirred when Dean slid back behind the wheel. "Why're we stopped?" he said, his voice hazy and slurred with sleep. "Dean? Somethin' wrong?"

Dean chuckled, even though he couldn't think of a damn thing to laugh about. "No, Sammy. Everything's good," he lied. "Go back to sleep."

He saw Sam nod vaguely in the rearview mirror and a few seconds later heard him go back to snoring. Dean turned the key in the ignition and heard his baby purr to life, the most reassuring sound in the universe. "Just get us home," he said the the dashboard, pulling back onto the highway, the empty passenger seat a heavy weight on his chest. "This night's been long enough already."