It had been pouring for over half an hour before Dean realized no one at the camp could remember the last time they'd seen Cas. He checked the cabin – no dice there – and got into his other self's face about why no one was looking.
Dean couldn't believe his ears when his counterpart's reaction was to ask, "Why should we?"
He felt his fingers twitch and told himself he could not strangle his incredibly douchey future self. For some reason. "Because he's missing."
Other Dean shrugged. "Yeah, he does that. Look, we can't send out the troops every time Cas wanders off, we'd never do anything else." He took a swig from the open bottle of Jack on the table. "You're so worried, go yourself. I've got enough to do."
The memory of belting himself right across the jaw for that kept Dean warm while he looked. He finally found Cas behind one of the dilapidated cabins at the edge of the camp, sitting on the ground with his back to wall, his eyes closed and face turned toward the sky. Dean rushed over but before he even got close enough to touch him Cas smiled. "Hello, Dean."
"Jesus, Cas, get up. You can't be out here in this..."
Cas laughed, the jagged wrongness of the sound going straight to Dean's spine. "Dean, despite what everyone's probably told you I'm not actually so messed up that I don't know to come in from the rain. I like it out here." He opened his eyes and looked up at Dean, one eyebrow raised. "You gonna stare at me forever or are you gonna sit?" Dean sat beside him, cold mud squelching beneath him. "Always did like the rain," Cas said. "It's...vital. It makes you alive. Makes you clean." He shrugged. "Well, it would if it wasn't polluted like this, anyway."
It was hard to not stare at this Cas. He kept trying to find his Cas (and when the hell had he started thinking like that, his Cas?) hiding in this other one's rough edges, wondering when that shift had happened and why he hadn't done anything about it.
"You didn't do this, Dean." Dean blinked, not understanding at first, and Cas shook his head. "This," he said, gesturing at himself. "Not your fault."
"Didn't do anything to stop it, did I?"
"Fuck." Cas pulled his legs up to his chest and pressed his face against his knees. "Dean, quit looking at me like I'm some puppy you kicked. No wonder you used to bitch so much when Sam pulled this on you."
Maybe so, but Dean still thought the rain wasn't cold enough for Cas to be shaking this much. "Dude. You okay?"
Cas nodded. "Coming down a bit. I'll be good once the oxy kicks in." He looked at Dean and grinned, his head still resting on his knees. "You should see the look on your face. I forgot what it was like when you gave a shit." He looked back up at the sky, rain plastering his hair back and flowing down his face in rivulets. "How long do you have here before Zachariah decides you've learned your lesson?"
"Three days. Well, three then, more like one and a half now."
Cas took a long pull from the vodka bottle beside him. "Do me a favor then?"
Dean blinked. "Sure. Shoot."
"When you meet back up with the other me, I need you to give him a message." Dean nodded, ready to remember whatever prophecy or wisdom Cas wanted him to take back to the past.
So Dean was entirely unprepared for Cas to lunge forward and kiss him. When on pure instinct he opened his mouth to the kiss Cas shuddered and pressed closer, his hands cold and trembling to the point that Dean pressed his own over them. Cas finally pulled back like someone had a gun to his head, breaking the kiss with a desperate little whimper that gave Dean the horrible impression that Cas was about to cry. "Just..." he started, his voice cracking before he cleared his throat and got back under control. "Tell him not to wait so damn long to do that this time around."
Dean would have sworn on everything he'd ever loved that he'd had no idea it would have even occurred to Castiel to want to do this. And then in an instant it seemed ludicrous that he couldn't have known; so many things fell into place that Dean felt like an idiot for not realizing it before. "Cas..."
"I wanted you to kiss me that night before we faced Raphael," Cas said, his voice shaking and fragile. "Do you remember, Dean?" Dean flashed back to laughing his ass off outside that brothel, clapping one arm around Cas' shoulders. He remembered Cas had smiled at him and Dean didn't understand why he hadn't grabbed Cas by that stupid coat of his and kissed him then and there. "Why didn't you kiss me then?"
Dean shushed him gently, brushing his sodden hair out of his eyes. "I'm sorry, man," Dean whispered, pressing a light kiss to his lips. "I didn't know, Cas, swear to God I didn't." Cas shivered and Dean pulled him closer, running his hands over Cas' bare arms to try to warm him up. "I didn't know," he repeated before before kissing him again, long and slow and deep this time. Cas opened to the kiss like a drowning man finding a breath of air, his hands in Dean's hair and trying to get under his clothes; Dean tasted rain and booze and the bitter tang of pills.
"I missed you," Cas whispered between breaths. "I missed this and I missed you. I wish you were still you." Dean made soothing sounds as Cas shook against him; he slid one hand past Cas' waistband and over his too-sharp hipbone, wondering if Cas had always been this thin under all those clothes. "I missed you and you're leaving again."
"Shh," Dean said, kissing him to cut that off. "I'm here now, okay? I'm here right now." Cas nodded, nipping at Dean's lower lip and moaning as Dean brushed his hand over his ribs. Dean let Cas pull him down into the mud, Cas pressing against him like the world would end if this stopped. Dean slid Cas' shirt up and kissed his way up his stomach, feeling Cas arch up and writhe beneath him. Dean couldn't fix any of this. He couldn't change his other self back to being human instead of a tin soldier, he couldn't bring back Sam or fix this world or put Cas back together from the broken thing he'd become.
The rain was cold against his bare skin as Cas pulled his shirt up and off, discarding it into the mud. Dean couldn't fix it but he could make it better. Cas shuddered and groaned as Dean kissed his neck, his hands tight in Dean's hair as Dean sucked on the wet skin at the hollow of his throat. He felt the vibration as Cas whispered his name over and over, Dean, Dean, Dean.
For just a little while, Dean knew he could make this better.