Dean's shoulder was still jacked up and if he turned his head the wrong way sharp pain exploded behind his eyes, but he couldn't stay in the hospital one second longer. No place that made pudding taste that lousy could possibly be good for his health.

And it wasn't like he could even just sleep. Not with Castiel showing up in a dream - again - saying he had something of "grave import" to tell Dean.

Castiel had kept his cryptic ass away from the hospital since that first night, as if once it was clear Dean would walk away with little more than some new scars Castiel had other things on his mind (but he had stayed that whole night; Dean had drugged up memories of waking up to sad blue eyes staring down at him). He knew Sam was grumbling about Cas taking off but Dean wasn't; the last thing Dean had said to Cas was that the world was doomed because Dean knew he wasn't up to carrying out whatever stupid destiny the angels had in store for him. Couldn't really blame the guy for not sticking around. Dean hoped he'd had luck finding some other patsy.

Going back into that warehouse was like walking straight into his nightmares. They'd started up again, even worse than when he'd first been sprung from Hell, like instead of dying Alastair had found a way to crawl inside his head and take up shop. Sam and Bobby had stripped the place clean but that couldn't stop Dean from seeing what had been there. What he'd done there.

And he had no idea why in the hell Castiel would pick this as the place to talk. "Cas? Don't know why, but I came."

"Over here." Dean followed the voice and found Castiel sitting against one wall with his arms wrapped around his updrawn knees, staring at the spread of black wings burned into the floor. He didn't look up. "Hello, Dean."

Dean swallowed the wise ass comment he'd been about to make and sat down beside him, watching him from the corner of his eye. Contrary to what he knew Sam thought, Dean did know when to not be a complete dick. "You wanted to talk, Cas?"

Castiel didn't respond. After a few minutes of sitting in that position Dean's neck started to ache; he massaged the heel of his hand into the sore spot, wishing he hadn't left the bottle of painkillers in the car. In his peripheral vision he saw Castiel's head turn to look at him; before Dean could even say a word Castiel raised one hand and pressed two fingers hard against Dean's temple. He felt a jolt of energy rush through him, then as he shook Cas' hand away Dean realized all of his lingering aches and pains were gone. "Shit. Cas, why the hell didn't you do that days ago?"

Castiel settled back against the wall. "Because I couldn't."

"So what happened? Why'd they take you back off your leash?"

"You misunderstand, Dean. I physically couldn't." He sighed. "Alastair came within three words of exorcising me entirely from my vessel." His lips twisted into a scowl. "As if I were a common demon." Castiel closed his eyes, visibly shaking that off. "The experience disrupted my connection with Heaven temporarily. I'm still...settling," he said, rolling his shoulders.

It was like Castiel was breaking in a stiff pair of shoes, not a body. Every time Dean thought he was finally pushing past the creepy wrongness clinging to Castiel it was like he intentionally did or said something to bring it roaring back. "You okay now?"

Castiel stared into the charred wings like they were whispering secrets. "No."

Sam had told him that he and Bobby had tried everything they could think of on the wings, mystical and mundane, right down to renting a sandblaster. Nothing had worked and they'd been forced to admit defeat, leaving the wings to be a weird-ass mystery for the next poor schmuck who used this warehouse. "Look, Cas, I don't..." Dean let the words trail off, realizing he wasn't even sure where he was going with that. God, I suck at this. "I get that you're..."

"Don't insult me by pretending you feel any grief, Dean."

Dean felt his mouth snap shut. He glared at Castiel, something the angel didn't even seem to notice. "Y'know, you're right. I'm not sad the guy's dead. He was a dick, a traitor and we're better off with him not waiting around for the chance to stab us in the back." The lines around Castiel's eyes deepened and Dean felt a flutter of remorse. "But all the same, I've watched my brother die and I know it sucks. I feel bad for you, Cas, not him."

Castiel's lips pressed into a thin line and he nodded once, acknowledging what even Dean would call a clumsy gesture. He ducked his head further down into the circle of his arms. "I felt it when Uriel killed our sister," he said, his low, whiskey-rasp voice even rougher than normal in that grim space. "We were less than a half mile away, investigating omens." His lips twisted. "He told me he was going to seek Revelation."

Dean held himself very, very still. He was reasonably certain this was the most he'd ever heard Castiel say at one time.

Castiel continued, almost as if he'd forgotten Dean was there. "Her name was Abdiel. She thought roses were the finest things our father had ever created and she was always laughing. Even in battle, she was always laughing."

Dean grinned. "Bad ass warrior chick type, huh?"

Castiel's lips twitched up for the briefest instant. "I suppose so. You would have liked her, Dean."

"That would make a nice change."

Castiel's eyes went distant. "Do you remember the fiends guarding the path from Hell's outer gate to the Pit? The large ones, with the horns?"

Dean shuddered. There was a nightmare he thought he'd successfully repressed; big, big things, like rhinos on steroids, only sporting human faces with long, curved horns growing from where their eyes should be. They would scream like demented, colicky infants whenever they caught a soul straying off that path. Once Dean had counted one with eleven souls speared on its horns, still aware and writhing. "Yeah, Cas. Pretty sure I do."

"Long ago, during one of the earlier Sumerian dynasties there was a breach. My garrison was sent to contain it." Dean didn't know enough about Sumerian dynasties to judge how long ago they were really talking about, but he didn't dare break the spell to ask. Castiel had never broken out the war stories before. "I became separated from my unit and was pinned down by two of those...things," he said, and Dean could feel the way the word curdled in his mouth. "I was trapped and wounded beyond the borders of the breach when I felt it begin to close over me."

Dean's stomach twisted. "They were gonna leave you there? The fuck, Cas?"

"There was no choice. Once the ritual was begun it couldn't be stopped." He let out a long breath and Dean suspected that if the guy could have nightmares, that would be one of them. "Abdiel fought through an entire line of the creatures to get to me. We managed to escape the breach with seconds to spare."

"Lucky you."

Another twitch of his lips. It was the closest he'd seen Castiel come to a smile in...well, ever, frankly. "Yes. Anna was very cross with me for getting lost." The expression faded into something much more desolate. "I don't...I'm trying to recall if I ever remembered to thank her."

Dean couldn't claim he knew a whole lot about sword fighting horrors from the Pit, but irrational, unreasoning guilt? That was an old Winchester specialty. "Dude. It's not your fault. You know that, right?"

"I saw her empty vessel, Dean." There was a nasty intensity to his voice Dean recognized all too well, one that demanded he be punished for something. "I saw that the fatal wound could have been made by one of our swords. I simply wouldn't conceive of the possibility. I closed my eyes to it."


"There was no other mark on her. Abdiel was fierce with her sword, far better than I. Better than Uriel. She died because she trusted him." His jaw tightened. "Do you know what he was planning, Dean?"

Dean shook his head; Anna had shown up in a dream - Dean felt like his head was one big angel conference call lately - and told him there'd been a throwdown but no real details.

"He had chosen to side with Lucifer. And he was coming to each of us, one by one, asking us to do the same. I know the seven who said no and I'll never know how many secretly said yes. And when I said no he looked at me like I had betrayed him."

"Cas, why are you doing this to yourself?" Castiel's head swiveled to look at him, blank incomprehension in his eyes. Dean gestured in the general direction of the wings. "Why are you here? Why are you torturing yourself?"

Castiel took a breath, looking away, and Dean got the feeling he didn't actually know. "When one of us is killed the loss is marked. There's...ritual and song and the lost name shaped in the stars. Vigils of remembrance. There's been only silence for Uriel. It's's not right. It's not how things are done."

"Dude. He was going to kill you."

Castiel nodded. "I know." He stared at the wings, his head so low his eyes were barely visible above the line of his arms. "I don't...I don't understand why I still feel so much sorrow."

Dean shrugged. That one was easy. "Family's family, Cas. Even evil and crazy, that doesn't change." Castiel didn't respond. Dean wondered if he'd even heard. "Anyway," Dean said, desperate to lighten the mood, "at least you killed Alastair. That's one good thing out of this mess."

Castiel let out a harsh laugh, the wrongness of the sound going straight to Dean's spine. "I did no such thing."

Man, I'm not gonna like any of this. "What do you mean?"

"Didn't Sam tell you?" He looked at Dean, his head tilted to the side. "He killed Alastair. With a thought."

"You mean he pulled him from the meatsuit," Dean said slowly, grasping at straws he knew weren't there.

Castiel shook his head. "No, I mean Sam killed him. Alastair was exorcising me when Sam appeared and pinned him to the wall with sheer power, then crushed the life out of him. With immense pleasure." He let that settle for a moment. "Alastair was beyond my power to affect, among the most powerful demons I've ever encountered. Sam destroyed him with ease. He's much stronger than even the last time we met."

Dean choked down the urge to storm out and kick Sam's ass for lying to him. Again. "Is this the psychic bullshit? What Yellow Eyes did to him?"

"No, this is more than the taint in his blood." The lines around Castiel's mouth went hard. "There's something dark and powerful growing in Sam. You need to watch him, Dean. You need to know where he goes and what he does when he believes no one is watching."

Dean felt his eyes narrow. "That what you wanted to tell me?"


"Why? I mean, not that I don't appreciate it, but you guys usually play this stuff pretty close to the vest."

Castiel was silent for a long time. "Because I wish to spare you this," he said, staring into spread of black wings.

If it had been anyone else sitting beside him Dean knew he would have put a hand on his shoulder by now, would have dragged him out and probably gotten him nice and drunk like friends were supposed to do. The thought surprised Dean. He didn't know when he'd started thinking of Cas as a friend. He tried to remind himself that Castiel wasn't a person - in fact, was a thing possessing a person - but even that thought didn't have its usual bite. Not when the guy just looked so miserable. "Cas, I..."

"Leave me."

Dean blinked. "'Scuse me?"


Dean shook his head. "Dude, no. That's the last thing you..."

"Don't make me force the issue, Dean."

"You asked me to come out here."

"And I told you what I wished to. Now I'm asking you to leave."

"Cas, that's bullshit." Dean saw Castiel's eyes cut towards him. "I'm glad you told me about Sam, but you could've said that in the dream. Instead you dragged me out here. Why?" Castiel didn't answer and Dean sighed. "What do you want, Cas?"

Castiel was on his feet in one smooth movement and hauled Dean up by the front of his shirt. Before Dean could process what was happening Castiel shoved him against the wall and kissed him, a hard, punishing kiss that was practically an attack. When Castiel finally pulled back Dean was so dazed all he could think was What the hell was that? "I want my brother to have not fallen into madness," Castiel said, his voice a low, dangerous whisper. "I want to hear the voices of my lost brothers and sisters again, instead of only the hollow places where they should be. I want the demons to not break two Seals for every one we save. I..." His mouth twisted into an ugly sneer, his voice dipping even lower. "I want you to give to me what you gave to Anna, and I want to understand why I want that. I want many things I cannot have, Dean." His hands curled into tight fists around Dean's shirt. "Now. Please. Leave me to mourn in peace."

Dean wondered when the world had stopped making sense. Castiel was breathing so hard he shook; Dean put his hands on Cas' shoulders and felt him tense. "Cas. Man, look at me." Castiel's eyes dragged up to meet his and Dean read apprehension there, like Cas knew he'd said too much and was waiting for judgment. Dean shook his head, then leaned forward and kissed him back.

He felt Castiel let out a startled breath, then he shook Dean off and took a backwards step. Cas' eyes were angry and wild. "Don't mock me."

Dean took a step forward and grabbed Castiel's chin, making sure Cas couldn't look away. "Do I do shit like that? Huh? Would I?" Dean saw doubt flicker in his eyes. "You know me pretty damn well, Cas. That really something I would do right now?"

Castiel licked his lips. "I..."

Dean kissed him again, smothering whatever ridiculous thing he'd been about to say. This kiss was softer, deeper than the first; Cas' mouth was still open and Dean felt him shudder as he brushed his tongue against the inside of his lips. Dean ran his hands up and down Cas' arms, trying to soothe the shaking away as he worried at Cas' lower lip. "You don't get anything if you don't fucking ask for it, Cas."

Castiel whimpered, a soft, deep in his throat sound, then he pushed Dean back against the wall. Dean felt Cas' tongue against his, the touch cautious, like Castiel was trying to figure exactly how this all worked. Dean moved up one hand up to cradle the back of his head and started to guide him, showing the give and take, when to apply pressure and when to relax. Dean slid his tongue back over Castiel's and Cas moaned; Dean felt him raise one arm and brace himself against the wall. Dean finally pulled back, heady from a distinct lack of air, and saw that Castiel's eyes were wide open. "Cas," Dean said, planting a quick peck on his lips, "you're supposed to close your eyes when someone kisses you."

Castiel hitched in a breath and looked at Dean, a weird, intense panic in his eyes Dean couldn't even begin to place. "Hey," he whispered, running one thumb across Cas' cheekbone. "You're okay." He wondered if this was breaking some kind of angel taboo he hadn't known about. "This is good. You're doing good."

"I imperiled your soul," Castiel said and God, his voice. Dean had never heard someone's voice sound like that before, exposed and raw. Dean hadn't even known Castiel could do raw.

"Cas, I don't..."

"I asked you to sin." Cas was breathing in fast, shallow gasps, like he was seconds away from hyperventilating. "You picked up the knife because I asked it of you. I put you back on the path to damnation. I was no better than Alastair..."

Dean kissed him again, both hands cradling his head. "Cas, you have any idea how fucking stupid you sound?" Dean said, searching his eyes. "Do you? You are nothing like Alastair. Nothing. Yeah, you asked me but I chose it, okay?"

"You chose it when Alastair asked you, too."

Dean shook his head. "You were trying to save people, Cas. Save your family. You thought you were doing the right thing."

Castiel's lip curled. "No. I thought I was doing the necessary thing. I knew the entire time there was nothing right about it."


"Can you forgive me?" The rasp was barely audible, as if Castiel could hardly force the words out. Dean never seen so much horror in someone's eyes. The absolute certainty hit him that he could shatter this powerful creature in front of him with a single word and Dean felt his own hands start to shake.

"Hey," Dean whispered, willing his voice steady. "Yes, Jesus, of course I fucking forgive you." Dean was desperate to make Cas' eyes stop looking like that. He didn't want that kind of power over anyone, and he knew he sure as hell didn't deserve it. "I forgave you the second it happened, I swear. Cas, none of that bullshit was your fault."

Castiel shuddered and pressed against Dean, kissing him like he was never going to let Dean breathe again. Dean pulled Cas' shirt of his waistband and slid his hands up against his back, tracing circles into his warm skin. Dean could feel that Cas was hard and wondered if this was the first time that had happened to him. He shifted and pressed his thigh between Cas' legs, pulling him close so Cas was grinding against him; Castiel gasped, clutching tight onto Dean. "Not here," Cas gasped out, as if he'd realized the same instant as Dean that this was absolutely going to happen.

"Obviously, Cas," Dean said, kissing the underside of his jaw. "Where do you want to go? Anywhere you want."

"I don't...I don't know where..." The words shuddered into a moan as Dean scratched his nails down his back.

Dean's first instinct was his car - he got even harder just thinking about dragging Cas into the backseat of his car - but Dean remembered just in time that was where he'd slept with Anna. He didn't want to take Cas to the same place he'd banged his sister. That was just rude. "Motel," he finally said. Good a place as any. "Just take us back to the motel."

Cas nodded and Dean heard the sound of wings unfurling - this close he almost thought he felt the air move, like he could feel the wings themselves.

When Dean opened his eyes again a second later he saw they were back in his wretched little motel room and he said a silent prayer of thanks that Sam wasn't there. He maneuvered Castiel to the bed and started in on his clothes, Cas too unwilling to stop kissing Dean to be any help at all. When Dean started in on his belt Cas finally seemed to realize what Dean was trying to do; he moved Dean's hands aside and rolled on top of him, all clothes disappearing halfway through the movement. Dean laughed and kissed the curve of his neck. "Nice trick."

He rolled Cas back over and kissed his chest; he wrapped one hand around Cas' cock and felt his whole body arch, his blue eyes going impossibly wide. Dean knew he didn't have any lube – a mistake he sure as hell wasn't going to make in the future - and he didn't want to stop touching Cas long enough to improvise anything.

But that was okay. Still plenty they could do. Dean kissed down his body as he stroked his fingers up and down Cas' shaft, relishing the way his hips jerked with each movement. He licked up Cas' shaft and Castiel let out a strangled cry, one hand groping through Dean's hair. Dean took him in his mouth and Cas shivered, whimpering and overwhelmed. Dean knew he was nowhere close to an expert at this - he'd only done it a handful of times, usually for kinky girls who wanted to watch Dean go down on their equally kinky boyfriends, and there were few things Dean wouldn't do for a kinky girl - but at the same time he knew Cas didn't have the experience to call him on it. He swirled his tongue around the head of Cas' cock and Castiel let out a series of shuddering gasps; Dean flicked his eyes up to meet Castiel's to make sure he was okay and almost came right there from how Castiel was looking at him, like Dean was the most fucking amazing thing he had ever seen. Dean sucked hard, taking Cas as deep as he could and Cas moaned, his head tossing back and his breath stuttering as he clenched his hands into the sheets.

Dean tasted the first salty drops of precome and slowly slid his mouth back up Cas' shaft; he'd gagged swallowing in the past (although he was going to make sure he got better at it from here on in) and on one hand he didn't want to take the chance of that happening now, he didn't want Castiel to have a single bad association from this. On the other hand, God, did he want to swallow Castiel down, taste him, make sure Cas knew how impossibly good all this could feel.

Dean felt Castiel's fingers tighten in his hair. "Dean," he murmured. "Dean, I don't..." Dean sucked hard and Cas moaned again, his hips jerking up. "Not yet," he gasped.

Going too fast. Gotcha. He let Castiel pull him up and into a clumsy, desperate kiss, like Cas had been starved for it. Dean wrapped his hand back around Castiel's shaft and watched Cas throw his head back. He licked up Cas' throat before finding his lips again and kissing him, deep, slow, wet kisses; his hand slid up and down Cas' cock, slow and steady at first then building speed to keep time with the rhythm of his hips. "I want you to come for me, Cas," Dean whispered, sucking on Castiel's lower lip. "C'mon. Come for me."

"I...I don't..." His eyelids fluttered and Dean kissed the corner of his mouth; Dean felt how tense he was and shifted up, licking along the shell of his ear.

"Just relax into it," he whispered, feeling how hard Cas shivered when Dean's hot breath hit his ear. "Relax and let go, I got you. Trust me, Cas, I got you." He felt Cas shaking right on the edge and kept talking into his ear, tracing his thumb along the head of Cas' cock. One more stroke and Castiel arched against him, coming with a single sharp, shuddering moan as he clutched onto Dean so hard Dean would bet good money he'd have some bruises. Dean thrust against the curve of Castiel's hip, already so close he ached. Within seconds his own orgasm shook shook him; he muffled his moan against the curve of Cas' neck as the force of it ran through him.

Dean rolled over on his back and pulled Castiel on top of him, both of them boneless and sweat-soaked and messy and Dean just could not bring himself to care. Castiel draped himself over Dean like the idea of not touching as much of him as possible was completely unbearable; he nuzzled against Dean's neck and murmured Dean into his skin, the single word laced with wonder and euphoria and just the barest hint of fear. Dean hadn't known words could be so full.

The fear Dean got; he felt like they'd just jumped off a cliff and he had no idea what was at the bottom. Dean wrapped one arm around Cas, kissing his forehead. "This is gonna wind up on your performance reviews."

Castiel's arms tightened around him. "I don't care."

Later Dean would wonder if everything could be traced back to those three very dangerous words. In that moment though, Dean was just proud as hell of him.

Proud and tired; as he started to drift off he felt Castiel kiss his jaw and settle more comfortably against him. "Rest, Dean."

Dean was so sated he almost felt pleasently drunk. "You gonna watch me all night?"

He felt Castiel nod. "Yes."

Dean smiled, stroking one hand through Castiel's hair. "Cool." Within moments the rhythm of Cas' soft breathing lulled him to a deep, restful, dreamless sleep.