Dean leaned forward in his chair as Cas' hand made its way slowly up Lisa's bare arm, the contrast of her tan against his pale skin getting Dean so hard he had to shift positions to be able to stand the strain against his jeans. Lisa's eyes were closed but Cas' were staring right at her like he couldn't bear the thought of ever looking at anything else. He traced the curve of her breasts and she let out that breathy little moan; Dean knew Lisa started loud but got quiet as she got close and that moan was always Dean's favorite sign that he was getting things right.

Cas seemed to get the message, too; he stroked the pad of his thumb against her nipple and Dean watched his lips quirk up with pleasure as she gasped, sitting up straighter. Then she started rocking her hips, gentle and slow at first but she couldn't hold back from riding him hard for very long. Cas' head snapped back, his lips parted as he whispered words Dean didn't know, his voice rough and wrecked and God, Dean was hard. Cas had his hands on Lisa's hips like it was all he could do to hold on, his eyes so wide and blue, Dean had no idea eyes came that blue. He saw Lisa smirk; he knew she liked nothing better than to feel the guy coming apart under her and she was getting that now, Cas' hands tight on her hips and his back arching up. The words were gone, all Cas could manage was broken little sighs and moans as his head tossed on the pillow; he saw Cas' eyes unfocus, his lips parting wider and Dean leaned forward. Just a few more seconds now, he knew, any second...

The loud bang ripped Dean from the dream and he blinked for a few seconds, not sure where the hell he was. "Sorry!" he heard Lisa say, then felt her kiss him quickly on his head. "I dropped my hairdryer, I didn't mean to wake you up. I've gotta head out early today." He was barely able to turn over in time to watch her rush out the door.

Dean lay there for a long, long time, just staring at the ceiling before saying aloud the only thought he'd been able to hold in his head: "What the fuckwas that?"


Lisa loved Dean desperately. She knew he'd been through a lot (although it would be easier if he would tell her some of it, instead of brushing her off with, That's in the past and I can't talk about it and I made a promise, now can we get back to watching Dr. Sexy? The commercial's over.) She knew this relationship thing was all new to him, so she tried not to push him and not nag him too much when he left out his empty beer bottles and let ants get everywhere. She was even getting used to his moods.

But this wasn't moody. This was weird. And not the normal Dean Winchester brand of weird. "Okay, what?"

He paused mid-chew, saying "Awha?" around his mouthful of hamburger and Lisa shook her head. He'd even been weird about her picking up burgers for dinner, looking at her like she'd intended them as some secret message. "You've been looking at me like I have three heads all night. What is withyou today?"

Dean dropped his gaze for an instant and Lisa knew she had him. He tried to shrug his shoulders anyway. "Nothing."

Lisa slid the half-eaten burger away from him, ignoring his outraged protests. "Tell me, or so help me God I will buy and make nothing but salads livened up with organic granola for the next two weeks. And I will make sureBen knows whose fault it is."

Dean sighed, drumming his fingers against the table. "I had a dream," he finally said, apparently deciding the granola future too terrible a threat to keep avoiding the subject.

Lisa immediately felt a flutter of guilt. She'd promised on their first night back together to never ask Dean about his dreams. "Was it a nightmare? I'm sorry, I know I said I wouldn't..."

He waved that away. "No, not a nightmare. Not one like that anyway." He looked down again and Lisa was astonished to see that he was blushing. He glanced back up, speaking as if each word was being dragged out by wild horses. "I had a dream about you."


He nodded. "You and another guy. A friend of mine."

Lisa wasn't proud of what came out next. "You have friends?" Dean gave her a look and got up to leave, barely giving Lisa the chance to stop him. "I didn't mean it like that," although she did, just a little bit. "You just never talk about any friends. Half the time it's like you're trying to pretend you were born the day you showed up at my door. The only people I've ever heard you mention are your brother" - Lisa winced at the shadow that crossed his face; it had been months and if anything the pain of whatever had happened actually seemed worse - "your father, that friend yours, Bobby..." She pulled up short. "Was it him?"

A look of pure horror crossed Dean's face. "No! God, no, that's..." He visibly shuddered. "I may never have sex again now, thanks."

"Sorry." She stole a few of his fries. "So, this mystery friend. Is he hot?"

Dean rolled his eyes. "Lise..."

"What? If I'm having dream sex with someone I'd hope he'd at least be hot." She still couldn't figure out what had upset him to the point she'd finished eating first. "Look, Dean," she said, making sure he could tell she was done having fun at his expense. "We're not thirteen, so it can't be that you're jealous, right?" Dean frowned, admitting the point, and Lisa continued, "So what is it?"

"It's not that," Dean admitted, like she was slowly pulling out his fingernails. "It's Cā€”-" he bit off the word and Lisa felt her eyes narrow. That had been a name, she knew it. "The guy. He's not...I don't know. Like that."

"Why? Is he gay?"

Dean almost choked on his beer. "What? No, he's...look, he's just not like that. I don't think about him like that."

That was an...awfully suspicious denial, but Lisa decided to let it go. "Where is he?"

Dean's lips twisted into a sour frown. "Fighting a war."

Lisa could tell she'd reached the point where she should stop pushing. "Okay," she said, kissing his forehead as she got up to clear the table. "Finish up. Ben's been looking forward to going to see that Robots-Blow-Up movie with you. He even did his homework."

"It has a name."

"And yet I still don't care," she said, sticking her tongue out at him.

"You could come," he said, a leer in his voice. "We could make out during the boring parts."

"In front of my son? Thanks but no, I want to keep his therapy bills as low as I can," she said. "I have a date with a bubble bath and my soaps to catch up on."

Dean's car had just rumbled down the drive when she walked back into the room and found his phone sitting on the table. She rushed out the door but all she could see were the taillights; she went back into the house and sat on the sofa, turning the phone over in her hands.

She knew she should notlook at his contacts. That was wrong, and an invasion of privacy, and everything she told Ben not to do. Wrong. Completely wrong.

But Dean apparently had a friend it made him blush just to think about. One whose name he wouldn't even say. She flipped open the phone and looked at the small list of names. There were only a few names she didn't know; a woman's name, Ellen, who hadn't been called in over a year and man's name, Rufus, but there was only one unknown name that looked like it began with a C or a K.

Lisa supposed Cascould be a man's name.

She stared at the name a long, long time before hitting send.


That night Lisa climbed into bed beside Dean and wrapped one arm around him. Just as he was about to drop off to sleep Lisa leaned up, close enough to whisper in his ear. "So, how good areangels in bed, anyway?"

She knew it probably made her a bad person that she enjoyed his reaction as much as she did.


Dean sucked Lisa's nipple until it went hard in his mouth; he trailed his fingers slowly over her stomach, feeling her jump and whimper as he hit each ticklish spot, then slid his fingers into the hot, slick wetness below. He opened his eyes and almost jumped off the bed when he saw Castiel leaning against the wall, watching the two of them with a curious look on his face. "Shit. Cas, a little privacy here."

Lisa leaned up on her elbows and kissed him, drawing his attention back to her. "You're the one dreaming him
there, Dean," she said, nipping at his lower lip. "Your dream, your rules. If you want the big bad angel to go away just make him."

Dean paused, relishing the feeling of her kissing and sucking down his neck. "Fuck it," he said, surprising himself. "Let's see how much fornication an angel of the Lord can stand to watch."

"I heard," Lisa said, her tongue tracing around his lower lip, "that you took the poor thing to a brothel."

Dean saw Castiel look at the floor. "Sure did. He couldn't seal the deal, though."

Lisa laughed, a a deep, throaty chuckle. "Maybe we should give him some pointers."

Dean grinned. "Maybe we should. Anything to keep something that fucking embarrassing from happening again." He knelt back over Lisa and locked eyes with Castiel as he went back to fingering her. "Okay, Cas, pay attention. You ever lucky enough to get in that position again, here's step one..."


Lisa wrapped herself up in the bedsheet, warm and sated. She rolled to her side and propped her head up on one hand and studied Castiel, who was still standing against the wall as if he was holding it up. He was hard to read, his emotions coming and going in quick flashes like ripples in a still pond. She thought he looked lonely. And maybe just a little guilty. "That was wrong of us, wasn't it." He glanced over at her, his arms crossing over his chest. "Letting him think this was his dream instead of mine."

His lips twitched, like he was weighing just how serious a transgression that had been. "It was certainly...dishonest."

"Does he know you can bring people into dreams like that?"

"Iwasn't aware I could do that until I tried. I didn't influence his mind," he insisted, his mouth set into a tight line.

"Of course not," she sighed. "You wouldn't have been all the way over there if you had been. I'm working on him, okay?"

For an instant there was so much needin those blue eyes that her chest went tight. Then it was gone, his expression as smooth and calm as if he'd never had a troubled thought in his life. "It is good to see him again. Even under these circumstances."

Lisa didn't know how'd she'd managed to have two such stubborn men in her life. "Just talk to him."

Castiel shook his head. "The situation is...complex." He closed his eyes for a moment and she saw the sadness settle on him like a thousand pound weight. "I'm not the one he'd most like to talk to." Then just like before he shook it away. "I should leave. I'll be missed before much longer."

"How's it going?" She nodded toward the ceiling. "Up there?"

His lips twisted into a scowl. "Also complex."

Lisa watched him for a long moment. "Okay if I call later?"

That brightened his expression by a fraction. "Please do. I enjoy our conversations. I have very little to distract me as of late."

She picked up the phone from the bedside table. "How does that even work, anyway? I don't think I ever asked. Do you have a phone too, or...?"

He shook his head. "I did at one time, but there's no need now." He gestured and the phone rang; when she picked it up she heard his voice through coming through the speakers. "I could make the tide run in reverse," she heard, although when she looked at him his lips weren't even moving. "This is a simple trick in comparison."

She snapped the phone closed. "Such a showoff." She heard the sound of wings fluttering and when she looked up he was gone.


A slow pattern emerged, a series of meetings in linked dreams. Sometimes it was her and Dean in the bed, and Lisa knew she would have to be blind not to see how much it turned Dean on to have Castiel watching, those intense eyes recording every move and moan and sigh. Other times she had Castiel there with her, Dean straddling a chair at bedside looking like he wanted to eat them both alive. Lisa was...experienced, was the word she liked to use (although she knew Dean had her beat by a long shot, having a kid at home definitely made chasing boys more difficult) but she'd never had anyone touch her the way Castiel did. Focused and careful, like he wanted to be very, very sure he did everything right. And he likedtaking orders, something Lisa guessed was his angel nature peeking through. Whatever the reason, that turned the whole room on; Lisa could see the light in Dean's eyes as he watched her order the angel around, the way his hands went tight on the chair.

And there were definite moments when she could see Dean imagining himself on top of Castiel, maybe even under him, the look in his eyes betraying every thought in his head but he never did anything about it. She was sure he'd realized there was more than just particularly vivid dreaming going on but it was as if he didn't say it out loud he didn't have to deal with any of it. It was starting to make Lisa want to strangle him. She'd made a stray (but deliberate) comment once that Dean should join them, maybe that could be his birthday present, and she'd seen the way his eyes lit up before the idea fell away.

She was beginning to think the man she loved wasn't all that bright.


"...anyway, so remember how Elijah went completely crazy and that whole kidnapping thing happened? Well, Tea woke up in this room with just one little window she couldn't climb out of, then the scene cut to poor Dani tied to a chair and Elijah just standing there..."

Dean tried to ignore Lisa walking in and out of the room giving soap updates to whoever that was; football was on and he had a cold beer and it was hard to concentrate on what defensive line was doing when Lisa kept pacing in and out.

And seriously, how had they not caught that Elijah guy already? The cops on that show were morons.

"...Already? Okay. You be careful, all right?" Lisa hung up and snuggled in next to him, stealing one of his buffalo wings. "What's the score?"

"Colts are winning. Detroit lost already."

"So it's Sunday. Ben got dropped off at his buddy's okay?"

Dean nodded. "House is all ours for the weekend." He finished off the beer as Manning threw in another touchdown. "Who were you on the phone with?"


Dean almost choked. "Stop kidding around."

"Why would I be kidding? We talk all the time."

The thought of Cas calling Lisa just to chat was surreal. And although Dean would go back under Alastair's knife before he'd admit it, he hadn't spoken to Cas in months, not since the day he'd lost Sam, and it burned that Cas would rather talk to someone else. "Cas doesn't care about that stuff."

Lisa sat back on the sofa, giving him a look like she was his therapist instead of his girlfriend, but then she shrugged. "I think it amuses him," she said, choosing not to poke the elephant they both knew was in the room. "Once he said it was a 'fascinating look at human nature," which is probably doing more harm than good, now that I think about it." She opened up her own beer and man, Dean loved chicks who liked a good beer. "When I was in - seventh grade? During the first Iraq war anyway - my best friend's brother was in the army and I used to write to him. Nothing important, just twelve-year-old girl stuff. After a few years I was so embarrassed about that because there he was in the desert and I was writing him about boys I liked and how much I hated biology, but he told me he used to look forward to the letters. That other soldierswould read them, too. He said soldiers were so happy to talk about something that wasn't the war, they didn't really care what it was." She brushed her hand down his arm, tracing little circles into his shoulder. "Just talk to him, Dean."

Dean remembered Cas disappearing from his car, leaving him alone on the worst day of his life. "Maybe later."

It was a while before she spoke again. "I don't think the war is going well."

Dean ignored how his stomach was suddenly full of ice.


It was another two weeks before Dean could bring himself to think that Lisa might have been right. And even then it happened purely by chance; Lisa had been at a parent-teacher conference for Ben when her forgotten phone rang; Dean listened to it ring, long past the point were any normal call would have been sent to voice mail, before finally picking it up like he couldn't help himself. "Hey, Cas."

"Dean?" Dean had never heard him sound so surprised. "I didn't...I'm pleased to hear your voice." Dean thought pleased was an understatement; Cas sounded fucking delighted. Well, for him, anyway. "Lisa's all right, I trust?"

"Yeah, she's fine. She's got a thing she had to do with Ben." His throat was suddenly dry. "You've been getting pretty chummy with my girlfriend."

Dean heard weariness creep into Castiel's voice. "Do you object to that?"

"This isn't about Lise having friends, Cas, it's that it's been months with no word from you and then I find out you and her are talking up a storm." The instant those words came out Dean wished he could call them back.

Castiel sighed, an unexpectedly human thing for him to do. "I know how you feel toward me, Dean."

"Yeah? How's that, Cas? Enlighten me."

"You wish I had let you die." The fire in Castiel's voice made Dean take a step back. "That thought was so clear in your mind when we were both in the car I could taste it. You resent me for forcing you to live when Sam gone."

Dean couldn't deny that was true. "Still, that's..."

"Do you remember your first thought when I told you what needed to be done in Heaven?"

"Dude, quit it with the mind reading."

"I had just regained my power. I couldn't control it. Do you remember?" Dean was stunned by the bitterness in Castiel's voice; the words were pouring out like Cas had been boiling over for so long it was this or explode. "You thought, so that's what you're doing instead of pulling my brother from the Cage." Dean felt like he was underwater. "You're thinking that even now, aren't you?"

Dean couldn't deny that was also true.

"I think the same thing," Castiel said, catching Dean off guard. "I'm aware of my choice Dean. That it isa choice."

"So tell me, why's that your choice, Cas? I can't do anything about it. You can."

Castiel was so quiet that for a second Dean thought he'd lost the call. "Because if Raphael is allowed to rule Heaven all life on Earth will end."

"And you can't do both, right?" He hadn't intended that to come out as a sneer, but it did.

"Dean," Castiel said, sounding so defeated it worried Dean, "pulling someone from the Cage is nothing at all like doing the same from the Pit. I couldn't do that until I was sure of the war's outcome."

"Just in case, right?"

"There is no 'just in case,' Dean. Only a certainty."

It took Dean a second to grasp the implication of that. "Cas. Dude. I don't want to tradeyou for Sam. That's not a possibility."

"You've entertained the thought before."

Shame crept over him, so hot Dean felt like he was going to burst into flames. "I think a lot of things I don't want to really happen, Cas." He rubbed his hand over his face. "I don't blame you. I don't. You were fucking deadat the time, you couldn't have done anything else back there."

"But I could now. And we both blame me for that."

Dean leaned back against the counter. "That doesn't mean I never want to see you again, you miserable son of a bitch." Castiel didn't have an answer for that. "How is it up there?" he said, tabling the whole discussion because he was not in any way able to deal with this He would neverbe able to deal with this.

To his relief, Castiel also let it slide. "I hadn't expected this could be moredifficult than the Apocalypse. But I believe we're approaching a crossroads."

Dean didn't like the way Cas said that at all. "That a good thing or a bad thing?"

"We'll find out, won't we." Dean heard a low grunt of annoyance over the line. "I have to go. I'm...I'm glad we were able to speak, Dean."

The call ended before Dean could admit, Yeah, me too.


It was two weeks before he spoke to Castiel again. Dean would regret that, but he couldn't know that when the phone first rang. "Hey Cas, what's up? Lisa had to run out. It's been a few days, she's been worried."

There was a long, long pause. "Dean?" Cas whispered and Dean felt the hair on his neck go up. Cas' voice was tight, like he could barely get the word out. "Is that you?"

"Yeah. Yeah Cas, it's me," he said, sitting down on the bed. "You okay?"

"I've...been better."

Dean nodded. He realized he'd been waiting for this to happen. "You hurt?"


Dean could hear the pain lacing Cas' words and his hand balled into a fist. "Okay. Okay, you get your ass down here and I'll patch you up."

He heard Cas almost chuckle. "It's...not the sort of wound that can be healed with stitches."

"Get down here anyway."

Another pause. "I would were I able."

Dean felt like there was no air in the room. "'Cause you're hurt or cause you're caught?" When he didn't respond Dean knew the answer. "Both, then. Shit." He rubbed his forehead, trying to run through his options. "It safe to talk like this?"

"It wouldn't occur to them to monitor this kind of communication. Don't pray. That they'll hear and they'll know I contacted you somehow."

Dean nodded. He wasn't exactly in the habit of praying, anyway. "They working you over yet?"

"Not currently."

The tremor in Cas' voice tied Dean's stomach in knots. "Tell me what I need to do, Cas."

"I'm not somewhere you can find, Dean. We have the momentum and Raphael won't kill me out of hand. My people will free me when Raphael's army is pushed back completely."

"What if they can't manage that?"

"Then Raphael will win and the skies will rain with sulfur. You should know before I do."

Castiel's voice broke and Dean clenched his hand in the bedspread. "Okay," he said, keeping his voice calm. "Tell me what I can do."

"Talk to me."

Dean remembered what Lisa had told him and just ran through his day, telling him about how Ben had gotten in trouble at school, anything that came to mind. Finally Dean ran out of words, unable to think of anything except what he would do if he could be in Heaven right now. "You still there, Cas?"

Castiel's voice was very faint. "Yes."

"Buddy, I'm no good at this. I don't know what to say."

There was a long silence. Dean caught himself listening for Castiel's breathing before realizing that of course he didn't need to breathe in Heaven. "Why do you only watch, Dean?"

The pain was more obvious now. "What do you mean, Cas?"

"In the dreams. You arrange it so either I watch or you do. Why don't...why don't you want to touch me?"

Dean felt like his stomach was full of acid. "I didn't...I didn't know you wantedme to." He heard a soft, pained sound and tightened his grip on the phone. "They there, Cas?" There was no answer. "You said they can't hear us, right?"

"They can't."

"You're gonna be okay, Cas. You'll get through this." Dean remembered something Lisa had said and latched onto it. "Hey, remember what Lisa said, about what she wanted to do for my birthday? You bust out by then and we'll make that happen. Hell, bust out sooner and we'll move it up."

" would lie with me, Dean?"

"Yeah. You make it there and I'll do anything you want me too. For real, no dreaming."

"What would you do?"

Dean paused. He actually wasn't really great at that; Lisa was the one with the filthy mouth.

So Dean just started talking, finally letting everything he'd been fighting to keep down since that first dream come to the surface. Every stray thought he'd ever had about Cas he let tumble out of his mouth, imagined kissing the hollow of his throat, talked about stretching him slowly until Cas begged for more, imagined his blue eyes going wide the way they had in his dream.

When he finally ran out of words Dean thought maybe that had been a little too much. Right until he heard Castiel whisper, "Do you promise?"

Dean swallowed hard. "Just try to stop me."

Lisa walked into the room then, throwing her bag to the floor. "Ben is grounded forever," she said before catching the look on Dean's face. "What happened?"

He put the phone on speaker. "Hey, Cas, Lisa just walked in," he said, mouthing they got him.

Her eyes went wide but she recovered quickly. "Hey, pretty," she said, her voice hardly shaking at all. "Heard you're having some problems."

"Things could be better," he answered, a very slight quaver in his voice Dean could tell she'd caught. "I...I believe I'm rather behind."

"Then I should catch you up." She took the phone from Dean and walked out of the room, pacing as she talked and Dean couldn't believe how steady she managed to keep her voice. "You will not believe the stunt Dorian pulled..."

When the call ended she sat on the bed next to him, one hand over her mouth and her shoulders shaking. She looked at Dean like he should have a plan. "What do we do? We're doing something, right? There has to be something we do now."

"Cas says he's got people on it. We've gotta trust that's true and that he'd not just blowing smoke so I don't do something stupid." Dean let out a long breath as he ran over their list of options and came up with nothing. "We've just gotta keep him going, give him reasons to keep going. That's what you need to get through this kind of thing, just one reason to get through the next day." She gave him a look then, a knowing look, and Dean felt something in his chest unravel. Almost without realizing it he started talking about Hell, not about what he'd done, he wasn't ready for that yet, but that first thirty years. When he opened his eyes he looked for horror or disgust or, and this would be the worst, pity, but all he saw was deep sadness. She climbed into his lap and kissed him almost like it was their first time. Maybe it was, in a way. "But you know what that means, right?" He frowned and she kissed his forehead. "That means you''ll know how to help him when we get him back."

Dean smiled. "Damn right."

She ran her fingers through his hair. "He told me you made a promise."

Dean felt himself blush. "Um. Yeah. That okay?"

"I love you," she said, kissing him again. "And about time."


Cas managed to call almost once a day and the days he missed were agony, long nights of pacing and drinking and making elaborate, unrealistic rescue plans. Every time Dean heard his voice it was little weaker than the day before, his hope that his troops could win this war without him just a little more shredded. Dean knew it wasn't true ā€“ Cas had said he was in a "pocket of pre-creation," whatever the hell that meant ā€“ but Dean couldn't stop imagining him on one of Alastair's racks. Castiel wouldn't talk about it; once he'd whispered to Dean that he was cold, the way he'd said it making Dean call Bobby the second he could. Bobby'd hung up as soon as Dean had said the word "pre-creation," then called back and said that whatever Dean was up to, he wanted no part of it while giving him what little lore he'd dug up. It was almost like old times.

As the weeks stretched on Castiel spoke less and less, going the whole call only saying, "Hello, Dean," if that. He liked Dean to talk about what they were going to on Dean's birthday, in as much detail as Dean could manage. Whenever Dean finished Castiel always whispered, "Do you promise?" As if the words themselves had power, as if they could guarantee the plans would happen. The world hadn't ended so Dean had to figure Cas' side was still fighting. He just wished they'd hurry it up.

One night, already deep into January, Cas had been so quiet it surprised Dean when he murmured, "I don't know how much longer I can do this, Dean."

Dean tightened his grip on the phone. "Don't talk like that. We're almost there." There was no answer. "Hey, I held out thirty years, and you're tougher than I am."

"I'm not."

And Dean could tell he really believed that. Dean had almost gotten used to Cas sounding fragile, especially over the past couple weeks, but this was the first time his voice sounded broken. "You don't get to give up now, you son of a bitch. You hear me?" No answer again and Dean couldn't fight back the frustration. "Cas, do you hear me?"


It actually hurt to hear the way Cas' voice rasped on the word. Dean closed his eyes, sitting on the edge of the bed. "I don't know what you need me to say, Cas."

"Something. Anything."

Dean buried his face in his free hand. He remembered the hopelessness of being on Alastair's rack, that sinking feeling when he'd finally accepted it was never going to end. It wasn't hard to imagine Castiel in his place, right on that edge where when you broke you were never right again. Dean hadn't been able to find a reason to keep fighting back in the Pit but he needed to give Cas one now. Just enough to keep him going that little bit longer.

And Dean knew damn well what he needed to say.

"Please say something," Castiel whispered, the sudden panic in his voice ripping Dean apart. Like he really thought Dean had left him alone in the dark and the cold. "Dean..."

"I love you." Dean had always thought this moment would scare him more. "I do. And I'm pretty sure Lisa does, too." He let out a long, long breath. "Fuck. Fuck, I've never said that to someone who wasn't blood, not like that. You make me say that out loud, you do not stand me up on my birthday. You understand, Cas?"

The second stretched on like years. "I would never." His voice was faint but for the first time since Dean didn't know when he almost sounded like himself. "Dean, I..."

"Shh," Dean said, cutting that off. Saying the words and hearing them were two different things and Dean didn't think he was up to doing both in one day. "You don't have to say anything. Just hold out a little bit longer, okay?"

"Can you talk a while more?"

"Long as you want, buddy." Dean talked until his throat was dry, Lisa coming over to rub his back and take over when he ran out of things to say.

It wasn't until the call clicked off that Dean realized Cas hadn't asked him to promise anything.


Castiel didn't call the next day. The day after that, more silence. Then a full week, until Dean was seriously contemplating ways to storm places that didn't technically exist.

The day before his birthday Lisa parked Ben at a friend's for a sleepover and took Dean out, a transparent attempt to take his mind off things but one he was incredibly thankful for. Dean overdid it a bit, not blackout drunk (Cas might still call) but easily trashed enough that Lisa had to drive them home. It was past midnight when they finally headed back, Dean falling asleep against the passenger side window.

He almost didn't hear the phone ring. It took two tried to fumbling it open and he turned on the speakerphone without meaning to. "Cas?"

"Where are you?"

Dean had to blink for a second as he made the leap back to fully conscious. "Where am...where the hell are you?"

He could almost hear Cas' brow furrow over the phone. "It's your birthday."

Lisa floored it without him having to say a single word.


Castiel was leaning against the bedroom wall, his arms crossed; he had dark circles under his eyes and generally looked ragged, like whatever he'd been going through up there was enough to bleed through to his vessel. "You two are late."

Dean saw Lisa drop down to the bed, shaking with relief. "You scared the crap out of us," she said. "How were we supposed to know you'd be here?"

Castiel just looked confused, glancing back from Lisa to Dean. "We had an appointment."

Dean shook his head, his heart pounding so hard he didn't know how it was staying in his chest. "Get over here, smart ass." Then Dean grabbed Castiel by his coat and kissed him hard, just the way he'd imagined during that long, silent week. Dean felt whatever bravado Cas had been propping himself up with evaporate; he shook as he returned the kiss, clutching so hard onto Dean he didn't think Cas would be able to stand if Dean let him go. Dean broke the kiss but didn't move back. "You okay?" he said, staying close enough that his lips brushed Cas' as he spoke.

Cas just held onto Dean harder. "No."

Dean nodded. 'We'll get you there. Guess you won, though, huh?"

He felt Castiel smile. "The last surrender came at midnight."

"Hey, happy birthday to me. We're not letting you out of our sight for a long fucking time, you know that, right?"

Castiel nodded. "I believe Heaven can do without me for a decade or two. If that's all right."

That was a ridiculous question Dean had no intention of answering. "I think Lisa's got something to say to you."

Dean stepped back and Lisa wrapped Castiel's tie around one hand and kissed him like she'd been practicing her whole life for that one moment. It was absolutely the hottest thing Dean had ever seen.

Lisa maneuvered Cas over to the bed and backed him onto it, then sat back in Dean's chair. "I think you two owe me a show."

Castiel looked up at Dean, his eyes bright with anticipation. His tongue reached up over his upper lip, a quick, nervous little gesture and if Dean hadn't already been hard that would have done it. When Dean leaned over Castiel and kissed him again it felt so natural Dean had no idea why he'd waited so long. Cas murmured his name, a low, shaking whisper, and Dean pressed one finger against his lips. One last time he gave Castiel a detailed run down of everything Dean was going to do that night, talking right into his ear and only stopping when Cas finally moaned, pressing up against him in a sudden, desperate surge of need. Dean grinned and committed all of his focus to making every one of those words a reality.

Promises to keep, after all.