Chapter 1: He loves you deep inside

Castiel's POV

'If I could be anything…' Castiel began, but Dean rudely cut him off.

'Oh, come on. We're not going to start that again, are we?' Dean snapped. Bobby and Sam seemed annoyed by his interruption and for once Castiel didn't back down either. The angel stared straight at Dean, but the hunter stared back, unfazed. It had been almost five years since that conversation and Castiel still loved Dean. Castiel would gladly bed him right now, if that was allowed and if Dean had seemed even remotely interested. It wasn't. Dean wasn't. Over the past few weeks Dean had been more irritated by Castiel's presence than usual. It was as if Dean couldn't wait to be rid of him.

'I didn't ask you anything, I was simply making a statement,' Castiel said and his cold politeness seemed to irk Dean. Anger radiated from him in disturbing waves. Castiel was sure that had Sam and Bobby not been here Dean would have attacked him. That might even be preferable to this distance that had been between them lately. Since Castiel had been given the choice to remain an angel or become human, Dean had visibly been growing angrier and angrier.

'Well, excuse me. I thought you were answering a question I asked you over four years ago, which, by the way, you already answered,' Dean commented. It seemed strange that Dean would remember that night. For him it had been a night like any other night, while for Castiel it had been the end of them. Dean and Cas: never happened. Except it did happen. Perhaps it wasn't so strange after all, since Castiel remembered every conversation he ever had with Dean, whether they had happened or not.

'Dean, could you shut up for a moment? Some of us actually want to hear what Cas has to say,' Sam said. Bless him. Dean's brother had been much more forgiving than Dean. Even of unforgivable offenses. Thinking about that moment when he had declared himself God, Castiel cringed and Dean picked up on it immediately.

'We all know what Cas would be if he could be anything: God. Yeah, remember that? Bow down before me and profess your love? That was hilarious,' Dean continued. Perhaps Dean's anger was normal. It was earned, unlike Castiel's unearned unhappiness. He felt he had appropriated grief and twisted it until it was unrecognisable. And it was all about Dean. Everything was Dean. Dean was everything.

Now there were no more impending apocalypses, Lucifer was back in his cage and no one was trying to release him. They still killed the occasional demon or monster of the week, but that was about it. The days when the Winchesters needed him were over. After he had shed his megalomania and the order in heaven had been restored, everything had reverted back to the way it was supposed to be. Supposed to be.

'Frankly, I'm surprised they're giving you a choice. Isn't declaring yourself God frowned upon?' Dean asked. Long since that had happened the others had arrived at a place where they could laugh about it. However, when Sam and Bobby laughed about it, Dean kind of smirked his way through. The angel could tell that Dean had neither forgotten nor forgiven him. Perhaps Dean was never going to get to that healthy stage where you put that sort of stuff behind you. And why should he? I don't deserve to be forgiven, Castiel thought.

'I did that for the greater good,' Castiel mumbled, embarrassed. The others might be able to, but he knew that Dean could not forget what he had said. Neither could Castiel. Or I will destroy you. And he had meant it too. For some reason Dean had been convinced that he could talk Castiel down. That they had a special connection and that Castiel would listen to him. Please, Dean had said. Don't make me lose you too, he had said. It would haunt Castiel for the rest of his days that this had not deterred him. Nothing inside had softened. It was ironical to the extreme that when Dean had uttered those words Castiel had felt absolutely nothing, while he would give anything to hear those words now.

'Funny, here I thought you were just power hungry,' Dean sneered. Bobby coughed awkwardly and Sam glared at Dean. It wasn't entirely fair of Dean; Castiel knew that, because a lot of his behaviour had been caused by the souls inside of him. Then again, Castiel had been in there somewhere and he had done very little to stop himself. In fact, he didn't stop of his own accord; he needed to be stopped.

'What will you do?' Castiel asked, staring at his tie, 'Let's stop talking about me. What will you all do with your lives now?'

The question seemed to surprise Dean. Sam, on the other hand, was ready to jump right in. After a quick glance at Dean, which Castiel noticed, because Sam wasn't exactly subtle, Sam told them he would like to go back to law school.

'Since everything seems quiet on the Western front,' Sam said, before ominously adding, 'For now.' Castiel saw Dean roll his eyes at the dramatic statement. Yet, why should Sam refrain from saying what they all thought; that this might not last. Every time you think you're out you always get pulled right back in.

'To Stanford?' Bobby asked. He sounded genuinely interested too; an emotion that Castiel was having trouble summoning. Not that he didn't care, he cared about Sam. It just so happened that he cared more about what Dean was going to do.

'Yes, I might. I'd like to be state's attorney someday maybe. Then when I graduate it would be like still fighting evil, only using a different method,' Sam explained and he sounded kind of proud and eager. Even in the midst of his anxiety about Dean, Castiel was glad that Sam would get to fulfil his dream.

'And you, Bobby?' Sam asked.

'Well, I'm too old for school,' the older hunter joked and Dean interjected that Bobby was too cool for school. This earned him another withering look from Sam, while Castiel smiled faintly.

'I'll do what I used to do, I guess. Work in the salvage yard and kill the odd demon,' Bobby answered. That sounded very pleasant to Castiel. A simple kind of life, but with a bit of excitement thrown in. Dean didn't seem to be paying any attention to their answers. In some sort of daze, the hunter was shuffling his feet. Suddenly he appeared to wake up when Castiel turned to him.

'What will you do?' Castiel asked Dean and he caught Sam winking at Bobby. Was it so obvious that Dean's answer had been the one he was waiting for? Whether Castiel would remain an angel or become human hinged on Dean's answer. Not that they would be together, but if Dean expressed even a modicum of interest in Castiel's presence in his life then Castiel would gladly become human. Even if it was only to see him twice a year during Sam or Dean's birthday. As a friend. As a vague acquaintance; someone from the past whom you have no use for anymore. Castiel would stay for a nod across a crowded room, a 'hi Cas,' a shoulder pat.

'I don't know. I could be like a cop or something,' Dean suggested. Bobby eyed Dean curiously, as if he was checking to see whether Dean would make a good cop. Bobby exchanged a glance with Sam.

'You do make a convincing FBI agent,' Sam offered, but he sounded hesitant. There could be a number of reasons for that, Castiel thought. Dean wasn't good with authority; mostly he had issues with having to obey orders. Dean himself was afraid that maybe he was not intelligent enough. Also, Castiel was unsure whether the FBI was still after Dean or whether they were convinced he was dead. Either way, that might prove to be an obstacle in joining them.

'If you choose to become human, you should be an FBI agent too. We could be partners!' Dean enthused. It was difficult to decipher what Dean meant, but Castiel was 99 percent sure that Dean was being sarcastic. Or was this confirmation, encouragement, proof that Dean did want him around? While he was agonising, Sam and Bobby were giggling about something Dean had said.

'Partners?' Bobby repeated, in between snickering, which caused Sam to start laughing again. The idea might be ridiculous, but there was no need for these hysterics, Castiel thought. This was just plain offensive. Dean didn't look happy about their mockery either; he looked nauseous.

'What? Cas pretended to be an FBI agent before. That... didn't go so well, but next time you'll do better,' Dean said and he patted Castiel' arm. Physical contact, actual physical contact: the angel tried very hard not to revel in it. Sam stopped laughing long enough to ask when Castiel had been FBI.

'You weren't there. It was just Cas and me,' Dean explained. Vividly, Castiel remembered that. Sam and Dean had been separated temporarily and Castiel was partnered up with Dean. To say this had been the best time of Castiel's life was an understatement. Even with the brothel nightmare included.

'Isn't it always just Cas and you?' Sam asked and Dean's brother exchanged another one of those meaningful glances with Bobby.

'What?'

'I think what Sam means is, how come you remember a question you asked Castiel four years ago and not a memorable one at that?' Bobby queried.

'That happened to also be the night I got a death threat,' Dean said casually and a horrible feeling came over Castiel. He looked at Sam and Bobby, but this was the first they had heard of this too.

'What?' Castiel asked, but his voice was suddenly hoarse. Dean had been in danger and he hadn't even known it.

'Well, I didn't know it at the time. It was only when Balthazar tried to unsink the Titanic about two years later and you described one of the Fates as looking like a librarian that I put the pieces together,' Dean explained and Castiel could feel guilt filling the pit in his stomach. Could it be that even after he had erased it, that Atropos still had been angry enough to threaten Dean?

'Atropos threatened you in person,' Sam reiterated. The disbelief was apparent in his face. Dean shuffled his feet again.

'You were there too, so technically she threatened us and it was even before we botched the apocalypse, so she really must have had it in for us,' Dean said and he almost sounded proud to have invoked the scorn of such a powerful force.

'What did she say exactly?' Castiel finally asked.

'Someday,' Dean revealed, but when he saw their reactions he plainly thought that this didn't sound particularly threatening, so he added, 'but she whispered it real creepily.'

Someday. Castiel instantly realised that it had not been a threat, but it might a promise. And what a coincidence that he discovered this when he had to decide whether he would become human. Coincidence or fate? Atropos had said that an angel and a human weren't supposed to fall in love and be together: 'angel' being the operative word in that sentence. If they could someday be together when Castiel was human, could this be someday? Or was Atropos screwing with him?

He hadn't listened to her advice; he hadn't gotten over Dean, though his fixation had shifted from time to time. Dean's collarbones were beyond wonderful, but so was Dean's smell. There were weeks when the way Dean smelled could drive Castiel crazy. There was the fresh and tangy scent of pine needles and resin. It was very woody and Castiel suspected it came from Dean's aftershave, though he wouldn't be surprised if Dean just occasionally rubbed that little pine tree shaped air freshener from the Impala across his face. Then there were the customary hunter smells of gun powder and rock salt, but they had faded over the past few weeks. Overlaying those was the very subdued flowery fragrance of Dean's fabric softener. And then underneath it all was the spicy smell of Dean's sweat, which, no matter how subtle or strong it was, Castiel always liked.

Some weeks Castiel tried to avoid eye contact with Dean, otherwise he would find himself laying awake at night, wondering whether Dean's eyes were green or hazel. They could skip over him, but they rarely did. Those amazing eyes usually appeared to peer straight into Castiel's heart.

Other weeks it had been Dean's forearms. Whenever Dean rolled up his sleeves, Castiel would practically swoon. And when Dean touched his collarbones he could still feel a pull in his stomach and an almost overwhelming urge to smother those two stupid, insignificant bones with kisses.

Everything that was Dean's had the power to turn him on in mere seconds. Sock, knife, bacon cheeseburger, car keys. Castiel could even remember a particularly embarrassing time when Dean had clipped his toe nails and he'd caught himself thinking that he might collect some of them later. No, he had scolded himself; that was stalker type behaviour. That was unhinged and unsettling. The most upsetting perhaps, lately, was Dean's voice. Able to transform within a heartbeat and vulnerable to almost imperceptible changes that only Castiel could pick up on. Depending on the circumstances, Dean's voice was everything that Dean was; dangerous, kind, tough, soft, like gravel, like honey.

But Dean's voice never said the words Castiel wanted to hear. I love you. Once upon a time, in a moment forever encapsulated only in Castiel's mind, Dean had said that he would continue to love him. What followed had proven him wrong. Dean had chosen to live with Lisa and Ben. Perhaps that was ultimately the way it was supposed to be. After everything he had done Castiel knew better than to hope that Dean would say, Please, don't make me lose you. That was his own fault. The one time Dean had been honest about his feelings, pleading even, Castiel hadn't responded.

The way he had treated Dean before that also precluded, Stay here with me. Dean's fate had been clear, but Dean had wavered. It was not that Castiel didn't believe; he had always had faith in Dean. The fact was that he had needed to be harsh and unforgiving and it was necessary that he pretended to be disappointed in Dean. There was even that time when he had physically hurt Dean, all the while, his breath hitching in his throat, thinking about that other fight they didn't have. Thinking about Dean's hands dragging him across the room and slamming him into the wall and finally Dean's tongue hot in his mouth. So, now he would just settle for, Stay.

(***)

Story titles and chapter titles are song titles from Rachael Yamagata.

This story is a sequel to Teeth sinking into heart, but I think it can also be read as a standalone fic. The references are light, but of course you can always read Teeth sinking into heart too.