To BHJ – I have no idea if this is what you wanted, but here it is, it's insane and stupid and it made me want to eat pie and watch pushing daisies.

Dean drops a pan of cherry filling all over the white tile floor.

"You're cleaning that up, jackass." Jo pouts, wandering away with a cautious look on her eyes, steadfastly re-filling the napkin holders.

Dean doesn't hear her.

He watches the news.

"...body found on the cruise ship 'The Grand Farewell' has been confirmed as a suspicious death. Preliminary reports from the medical examiner have revealed the deceased to be Castiel Novak, formerly of Lawrence, Kansas."

His hands are on his cell phone before he knows what he's doing.

"Bobby, channel nine." Ha waits for the older man to scramble for his TV and listens to him as he finds the right channel, swearing as he wiggles the bunny ears of his aerial. "Can you get me in to see him?" Dean says quietly, hanging up as soon as he gets his answer and leaving Jo to glare at his back as he tugs off his apron and rounds the counter, already running before he's out the door.

"It'll still be here when you get back!" she yells at his retreating back.

(-*-)

The funeral home is dark and wood panelled and has red damask wall paper. Pretty much like every other such place Bobby has visited in his time as a PI.

"Who is this guy?" Bobby asks him, rubbing a finger around the chaffing collar of his good suit. Bobby might be a private investigator working out of a Chinese restaurant, whose official address was the asshole end of nowhere, but he could dress for success on occasion.

"He's..." Dean frowns and bites the inside of his cheek. "He's no one, just a guy I used to know."

"Mmmhmmm." Bobby says dryly. In that Dean detects a 'You're not fooling me boy' and a 'Don't fuck this up' as well as a quiet 'You doing ok?'

"Let's just...get this over with." Dean sighs, as the door opens and the owner comes out.

(-*-)

His first memory, the first real memory he has, is of Sam. Naturally, he's his brother after all, the closest thing he had to a best friend once Castiel moved away.

The memory is of Sam dying.

Sam got sick at four years old. They kept him in and out of hospital for a year.

Dean was with him when it finally happened.

Sammy was five and a half. He was lying on a hospital bed, a tube to help him breathe, a tube to feed him, a tube to help him pee. More tubes than there was of Sam.

Then the rough sound of his breathing just...stopped.

His parents were outside talking to the doctor, the machines started screaming and then there were nurses and doctors pushing Dean back, out of the room, out of the way.

Then they all stopped.

And Sam was just dead.

Somehow, Dean isn't sure how, he got away from his parents and back into the room where Sam was lying so still. He remembers thinking that Sam looked exactly the same, only horribly different.

He'd touched Sam's face, and Sam had screamed.

Sam had sucked in a breath, and screamed.

Dean had flung himself away from the body on the bed, the living, squalling body of his baby brother, pressing himself to the wall and sliding down it, too terrified to turn his back long enough to open the door.

That was the first time he brought someone back from the dead.

There was another memory, an older one that he doesn't quite believe in.

It's about Cas's dog, Meg - and how she got hit by a car outside his house. In the memory, Dean touches her back to life and she runs away, back to Castiel, who Dean could never stand to see cry. Only, when Dean tries to pet Meg, her eyes go dull again and she falls down, never to get back up. Dean feels like he's ended the world, because as much as he hates seeing Cas cry, he can't stand being the one to make him cry. But, in the memory, Castiel comes to sit with him at the side of the road, and he tells Dean that the extra day he got with Meg was a little miracle, and that God has as many flavours as ice-cream, that Dean is like limited edition Ben and Jerry's – unique and special. A one time offer.

Dean thinks it might have been a dream.

Either way, he knew enough to never touch Sam again. His parents sent him to counselling, but Sammy understood. It didn't take much for him to believe that his older brother was special.

(-*-)

Castiel looked entirely different, but exactly the same.

Dean was hit by it as soon as he opened the coffin and looked down on his tousled black hair and soft pink mouth, the shape of his face and the length of his eyelashes unchanged by the decade they'd spent apart. Though, of course his eyes were closed.

"This is personal, right?" Bobby says behind him.

"He was a friend." Dean admits.

Bobby clicks his tongue.

"You're not going to do anything stupid are you?" Bobby asks.

Dean has confided a lot in Bobby. Since his parents passed away he's the closest thing Dean has to a father, and as such he's told him about his entire life – his past, and what he can do.

But Castiel always remained private.

"Of course not." Dean insists.

Bobby sighs. "I'll be outside." The older man says gruffly, leaving him and Castiel alone.

"Thanks Bobby." Dean says softly.

Dean starts his stopwatch, and, feeling like the biggest freak in the world, leans down and brushes his lips against Castiel's.

(-*-)

"That's gross!"

"Is not!"

Dean wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Anna really kissed Adam Miller, like that?"

Castiel nods solemnly. He'd watched them through the stair rails when Anna was meant to be baby sitting him.

"Gross." Dean repeats.

There's a seconds silence as the two boys cast around the tree house for something to do. There's nothing save a stack of dusty Spiderman comics and a busted Transformer that belongs to Sam. If Dean could hit him for leaving his stuff in his and Cas's hideout – he totally would.

"You want to do it again?" Dean asks shiftily.

"Ok."

Castiel's lips touch his again, and Dean wonders what Cas would be like at keeping house.

(-*-)

Castiel wakes up at the touch of his lips, like a damn fairy tale. The warmth of life floods through him and he sucks in a breath, a perfect, tiny sound in the deathly silent room.

Then he grabs Dean's tie and pulls, smacking the other man's head against the coffin lid.

Through watering eyes Dean sees Castiel climb out of the coffin and inch away.

"Cas, wait!"

There's a short silence.

"Dean?" Castiel's voice is about four fathoms deeper than when Dean last saw him, but it's him, and it's real. Dean's eyes burn from more than just nasal impact.

"Yeah, it's me. Listen we don't have long but..."

"I died." Castiel says numbly.

"And I brought you back, for a minute..." Dean looks at his watch, his vision clearing after a few attempts at blinking. "Forty seconds."

"Only a minute?" Castiel's eyes widen.

"That's all I can do without...without something bad happening." Dean scuffles his feet. "I wanted to ask you who killed you...but I missed you, so...I wanted to say that first."

"Likewise." Castiel says, smiling. "Dean...the whole reason I went on that cruise was because I was moping so much Gabriel press ganged me into it." Castiel smiles sadly and sighs. "I wish I hadn't left Lawrence."

"I wish I'd come after you."

"And, in the interests of preserving our time, it was Lucifer who killed me."

"Your brother."

"The very same."

"That bastard." Dean glares. "Well, we'll get him put away for that."

"Thank you." Castiel says sincerely. "Dean...when I go, again – when my minute's up..." He blushes, and Dean thinks for a fractured second that for a dead man he blushes so prettily. "Can you kiss me? just this once, now I'm awake."

Dean swallows the ball of guilt in his throat.

"Cas?" he asks brokenly "What if...what if I could make it up to you? All of this, the way we left it in Lawrence, What if, you didn't have to be dead?"

"...that would be preferable." Castiel says softly.

Dean's mentally calculating here, if he lets someone live longer than a minute – lets them live again forever. Someone else in the vicinity will die.

That's how it works.

That's how Castiel lost his father, after all.

Dean sighs through his nose, trying to expel the tight ball of wrong that's pressing into his sternum.

"Ok, the deal is – I can let you live, again. But you can't touch me again Cas, that's important."

"If I do...what will..."

"You'll die. Forever this time."

Castiel gives him a look of such strong longing that Dean has to physically steel himself against it.

"Never." Castiel says softly.

"Or you'll die." Dean repeats.

The last seconds on his stop watch are running away.

"Hell of a way to go." Castiel breathes.

Sixty seconds, and at Castiel's words, Dean's convinced that it's his heart that has stopped forever.

Downstairs, the undertaker collapses over the corpse he was stripping jewellery from.

(-*-)

Castiel's father had problems with kidney stones. Everyone knew it, because every few months, Castiel would go to stay with the Winchesters and his father would go into hospital to have some stones removed.

Regular as clockwork.

This time however was marginally different, because, at the time Mr Novak went into hospital, the Winchesters were already there watching helplessly as Sam struggled to breathe.

Castiel was sent to his brother's, Michael, Lucifer and Gabriel, who were a lot older than him. He wasn't happy about being away from Dean when he was needed – the last time Sam had had to be hospitalised, Dean had cried in a janitors closet for over an hour before Castiel had found him. Dean had insisted he was fine, almost furious at being found out. But Castiel had shut them in the cupboard anyway and allowed Dean to wring him tightly round the middle, his head buried against Castiel's wool sweater.

When Sam Winchester breathed his last and was unexpectedly revived, Castiel's father was in the room below chatting with the ultrasound technician.

He died one minute after Sam's first new breath.

Exactly.

(-*-)

"How could you be so stupid?" Bobby growls from the front seat of the car as he drives angrily back towards Dean's regular place of business. "Actually, no. I already knew you were capable of pulling a damned idiotic move like this – so why did I let you do it alone?"

"I'm very grateful." Castiel murmurs, beside Dean in the back seat. Their hands are intertwined, Dean's leather gloves cutting out the warmth of Cas's palm.

"Dead man walking, this is a rant, you don't get an opinion." Bobby grouses. "How are you going to explain this one away Dean?"

"Sam knows what I can do, he'll be fine." Dean points out. "To everyone else, Cas can be..." He falters. "What do you want to be?"

"Whatever you want me to say." Castiel shrugs. "You've known since tenth grade how I feel about you, Dean."

Dean can't fumble a response to that.

"Oh give me strength." Bobby growls from the front of the car. "You want to lay a claim on the dead man? Now would be the time to say it Dean – save you all kinds of heart break and me all kinds of stupid to deal with."

"Ok...Cas..." Dean can feel his brain frying with the awkwardness and his own unpreparedness. "Would you like...I mean, would it be alright with you if I wanted us to be... more or less..."

"Yes." Castiel says.

"Seriously?" Dean can't help but say. "Because...I meant that whole 'no touching' thing - we can't, ever. That means, no hand holding, no kissing, no sharing a bed, no cuddling on the couch...not that I you know, cuddle..." Dean casts a nervous look at Bobby. "No sex either Cas, for the rest of your life."

Castiel blushes.

"Well, to all intents and purposes, I already lived one life without..."

"Oh, you're killing me here." Bobby glares back at them with mild amusement. "The V-word's like waving a red flag at a...horn dog."

"I am not that bad." Dean huffs, then looks at Castiel's perfect flush and naive eyes. Oh he so hates his power for creating the ultimate 'want it, can't have it' taunt to his libido. "We'll work something out." Dean promises.

"Once I'm out of earshot." Bobby insists.

"Yes, once we're alone..." Dean lowers his voice. "and maybe around a whole shit ton of saran wrap."

Castiel's blush deepens.

Bobby grits his teeth and wonders if it's too late to drop the private eye gig and open a quiet little salvage yard like he always wanted.

(-*-)

After Castiel's father died, everything changed.

Castiel came home from his brother's house, they stayed at his childhood home and tried to pick up the pieces of their lives.

Michael didn't have much time for Dean, he wanted Castiel to find out friends, other people to play with, especially now that Castiel was so dependent on his friend.

Their first day back in Lawrence, Dean took Castiel upstairs to Cas's room, wrapped them in his superman duvet and held his friend in his lap for a solid four hours while Castiel sobbed out everything that had happened in the last week.

All that time, Dean knew his best friend was crying because of him, because something huge had been ripped out of his life.

And Dean was the idiot who'd done that to him.

(-*-)

Jo wasn't lying, the cherry pie filling really is still on the floor when they get back.

She flung a mop in Dean's direction.

"What did I tell you?" she scowled, serving a tray of pecan pie slices to a table of tourists.

"This is where you work?" Castiel asks, looking at the bright, well kept restaurant with an impressed expression.

"Dude, this is where I rule." Dean smirks. "I bought it when I dropped out of culinary college."

"You mean when they threw you out." Sam, unfolds himself from a booth behind them, looking as always neat and impeccably lawyerish, except for the paw prints on his knees, his German Sheppard's are the handsiest dogs Dean has ever met. "Hey Castiel...you look a lot better today."

Castiel meets his gaze. "I feel it."

"Uh-huh...Dean can I talk to you for a minute?" Sam asks suddenly.

Dean knows the lecture he's about to get.

"I have to clean the floor." He points out, never happier to have hired the most ornery waitress in the entire mid-west.

"I'll still be here when you're done." Sam threatens.

"Yeah, but then I'm giving Cas the tour." Dean grins, already dragging a bucket out from under the counter. "Jo, can you bring Cas...whatever he wants."

Castiel blinks at the offer, at Jo's expectant look he glances at the menu board, his nose crinkles and he sneezes, blinks and then looks blank and clueless again.

"The special today is good." Sam says unexpectedly, then he grins widely. "Come sit with me – Jo, can I have another coffee?"

"Coming up." The blond slides away into the kitchen and Castiel takes a seat opposite Sam.

"Sorry about...you know, being a little wary." Sam says, while Dean begins to swab goo the colour of viscera off of the floor. "It was Dean's dick move that I was mad about - he should really have warned us what he was going to do."

Castiel looks down at his hands, hands with blood and life pulsing through them. He's sitting in Dean's own restaurant, in the city Dean chose to live in, in the life he chose to lead. It's a little miracle, a perfect miracle.

"I'm glad he did it." Sam says quietly. "He's not the only one to miss having Castiel Novak around."

Castiel smiles at his old friend.

"How's life been Sam?"

And that is pretty much all the invitation Sam needs.

(-*-)

Castiel leaves Lawrence at the age of fifteen, and he leaves under a cloud.

In the end, it's down to two things, the fact that his brothers just can't afford to keep the house there, and the fact that Michael caught him and Dean kissing in their tree house.

The worst part is that, it wasn't even really a kiss.

Castiel was watching Dean read him a section on the latest awful Spiderman comic, he had no idea why his friend still bought them, but he did, without fail. Castiel couldn't help but want to lean against Dean's side, which Dean allowed without comment. But Castiel wanted...well, more than anything he wanted to lie down, face to face and kiss – properly, like a boyfriend and girlfriend might.

He couldn't not think about how good Dean's lips would feel against his own, how warm his skin would be under his hands.

So he'd kissed him, a brush of lips against Dean's own, which were busily reading out the Green Goblins villain rant.

Dean had frozen, his throat working, eyes not meeting Castiel's.

On the street Michael was watching them, and he turned furiously to go back home and consult with his brothers on what they all knew was an unavoidable issue.

Dean gritted his teeth. "Never. Do That. Again." He said, then slapped the comic book onto the board floor and clambered over to lower himself down the ladder.

Castiel felt life his face was on fire with shame, and his chest was tight – something withering in there like an uprooted plant in the July sun.

A week later they moved.

Dean never got a chance to tell Castiel that he'd gone home and beaten the living hell out of the contents of his room. Gotten grounded for a month and finally realised that the one thing he wanted – more than his TV privileges back, more than another kiss (which was disturbingly at the forefront of his mind) more than what was 'normal' what he'd always expected...

Was his best friend.

By the time he realised that – Castiel was long gone.

(-*-)

Castiel is sitting in his diner, drinking coffee and trading college stories with Sam.

Dean pinches his own hand.

Castiel is still sitting in his diner, drinking coffee and trading college stories with Sam.

Dean smiles to himself and goes to join them, helping himself to a slice of peach and cinnamon pie. He'd only invented it that morning, so it's been a good day for him all round on the whole 'bringing joy to the world' front.

Castiel smiles at him softly over his coffee cup.

Dean grins back.

(-*-)

They have 'the talk' that night, when Dean makes up Castiel's bed, a fold out, across the room from his own.

"You know...I was going to kiss you back." Dean says, looking down at the soft sheets under his hands. Castiel is sitting with folded legs on Dean's bed.

"Oh." He says quietly.

"I know – it doesn't mean much now...and hell, it would have been a week late then...but I was going to." Dean turns around.

Castiel looks thoughtful but doesn't move.

"Yeah...that was dumb...sorry." Dean says embarrassedly.

"Find some saran wrap." Castiel advises him. At Dean's surprised look he expands, "I want to kiss you, now, dramatically and in a way that would make up for the painful waiting period...but I cannot do that, without the employment of saran wrap and some gloves."

Dean has never run to the kitchen so fast in his life.

And that includes the week that he'd employed that guy Ash as his under chef.

There were still burn marks on the ceiling.

(-*-)

Not being able to touch Castiel kind of sucks. Sure, they can kiss and touch and do a hell of a lot more, but there always has to be some kind of plastic of involved.

And Castiel is allergic to a lot of things, including latex.

Dean thinks that's probably the most original FML that no one but he and Cas will ever know about.

Their last kiss was a fumbled, awful memory, the reason they've been apart for so long, and Dean would give anything to replace it with something real. Something warm and skin on skin and perfect. The fairy tale ending wherein he wakes the prince up and doesn't condemn him to a life of almost-celibacy and saran wrapped danger wanks.

Dean thinks all the frustration is making him more girly by the hour.

Sam thinks Dean over shares.

Bobby thinks they should all get over it or shut up.

(-*-)

There are several reasons that Dean is, as Bobby puts it – Dumber than a box of hair.

The fact that he let Castiel get away is one such reason.

The fact that he got kicked out of culinary college is another.

But this time, this one time, Dean kind of has to agree with him.

(-*-)

It starts with Sam suggesting that maybe Castiel would like something alive around the house that he can, you know, actually touch.

Dean gives it some thought and asks Sam if he's seriously suggesting that Dean invest in a sexual surrogate.

Sam throws a heap of napkins at him and tells him to visit the city pound and get Castiel a pet.

Jo slaps Sam upside the head and tells him to pick up the napkins.

So Dean goes down to the city pound and looks at cats and dogs for over an hour before he realises that he has no idea what he's looking for.

Meg had been a black lab – but then, maybe Castiel didn't want to replace her with an identical model. He considers asking Sam, but then, his brother owns four German shepherds so he isn't really what you'd call unbiased.

That evening he brings it up over dinner.

"Hey, Cas..." Dean makes incisions into his cheese steak and glares at the pile of salad next to it. Stupid dead men and their obsession with his cholesterol. "Did you maybe want to get, like...a cat or something to keep you company." Dean can already feel himself getting embarrassed. "Or you know, to keep your feet warm at night?"

Castiel helps himself to a cherry tomato from Dean's plate.

"Not really."

"Oh...ok." Dean chews a mouthful of dinner and tries to think of another angle.

"You don't miss Meg at all?"

Castiel cocks his head to one side."Who?"

"Back when we were kids, you had that black Labrador, before you...uh...moved." Dean says gracelessly.

Castiel blinks at him. "Is this a joke? One of those things you do...that I don't get..?"

"No." Dean raises his eyebrows, "Why?"

"Meg was that girl in my gym class...we always got paired together because we were useless...you really hated her – you got detention for dogeballing her with 'excessive force'...after that we always got paired together."

Dean knew that name was familiar.

"That's not the point though." He says, returning to the point in question. "I just wanted to know if you wanted another dog, or something."

Again Castiel blinks at him.

"Dean, I've never had a dog."

Dean pauses mid-chew. "What?"

"I'm allergic, remember?" Castiel holds up his fingers and counts off, "latex, animal fur, dairy, penicillin and pollen."

Dean's a little busy trying to connect the dots, now that one of his dots turned out not to be a dot but a malicious bug that was just pretending in order to confuse him.

Or you know, something like that.

"Dean?" Castiel asks.

"Shhh." Dean holds up a hand.

Castiel having a dog named Meg (a girl who quite frankly deserved that dodge ball to the face) that got killed on the road...was a dream after all.

So raising it from the dead? Also a dream.

That meant that until he'd raised Castiel from the dead, the only other thing he'd ever undeaded/re-alivened was Sam.

Sam who he'd never touched again because of what happened when he touched Cas's...

Huh...

Well...shit.

"Dean?" Castiel asks again.

"There's a chance." Dean says slowly, "A very small chance that...I may have made a...serious of...miscalculations."

"What?"

Dean glares embarrassedly at the table top.

"I'm dumber than a box of hair."

(-*-)

Eventually they have to break for air.

Castiel isn't entirely happy about that but – as it is his first real kiss since the age of fifteen, he's allowed to be a mite possessive.

"How...could you...not know?" he growls between meetings of their lips.

"Blind...faith?" Dean hazards, hands already sneaking under Castiel's shirt.

"Not...good...enough..."

"Sorry." Dean slides a hand down the front of Castiel's pants.

"You're...for—given..." Castiel gasps.

And that's as close as Dean gets to apologising.

(-*-)

The next morning, wrapped in a glorious amount of freshly available naked Castiel, Dean thinks his life can't actually get any better.

He's an insanely happy box of hair. Or you know, whatever.

However his day only improves when he realises that he owes his brother exactly sixteen hugs, and about nine thousand wedgies, kidney punches, nuggies and slaps to the face.

The first time he hugs his brother, Sam drops a whole double chocolate milkshake onto the floor.

Jo throws a fit.