A/N: For tiptoe39's WAFF-a-thon on Livejournal. (.)
EDIT: Apparently FFN isn't displaying the second chapter. I've combined both chapters into one, so hopefully that will fix the problem.
Dean was glad that Sam never asked about the drinking. Yeah, they both knew that it was getting to be a problem. Dean would probably have to face that some day. But for now, the thought of going without terrified Dean. He needed it to chase away the demons that had taken up residence in his subconscious.
And besides, it hadn't affected his work. He was as good a Hunter as he had ever been, and he timed his binges carefully to make sure he'd slept it off before he got behind the wheel. It was those nights when he didn't have time to drink - when they were snatching an hour or two by the side of the road and getting to the required level of wasted would have taken more time that it was worth - that Dean was reminded just how much he relied on the booze.
He didn't get much sleep at times like that. He sat up and watched Sam sleep instead. It was comforting to watch Sam's chest rise and fall, his face untroubled by horrors. It reminded Dean of why he went to Hell in the first place. It reminded Dean that it was worth it.
But he still didn't dare sleep.
A chain of vampire nests along the west coast and a run of bad timing meant that Dean hadn't slept for more than a few minutes at a time in days. Even Sam was starting to notice that Dean was not quite right. That was probably why he left Dean at the motel when he ventured out into the rain to visit Angela, one of Bobby's contacts.
"I won't be long," Sam promised, "Try to get some shut-eye, okay?"
Dean would have liked nothing better, but they had run out of alcohol the day before last and this stupid motel didn't even have a minibar. "Nah, I'll wait up for you," Dean said, "Just pick me up something to drink on the way back, okay?"
Sam gave him kind of a sad look, but he nodded. He pulled his coat up around his neck as he ran through the driving rain towards the Impala. As he drove away, Dean began to count the minutes until he would be back.
Unfortunately, the rain soon swelled into a torrential downpour complete with winds that were threatening to drop some very large trees on the motel roof. Sam called to say that he was spending the night with Angela, and that he would be back when the storm had passed. Dean fought the urge to beg Sam to come back now, and instead forced his voice to sound unconcerned as he asked, "So, is she hot?"
And when Sam hung up, Dean was alone. Alone and sober, and that was not a good combination.
He held out for as long as he could. He had his pride, after all. But after an hour of seeing Alistair behind his eyelids every time a blink lasted too long, his terror warring with his exhaustion until he felt like he was about to shatter, he gave in.
"Cas?" he said, "I could use you right about now."
He barely got the sentence out before Cas was there, squinting up at him with those ridiculously blue eyes. It might have been the relief at having something, anything, to look at other than the inside of his own psyche, but Dean could swear that those eyes were the most beautiful things he'd ever seen.
"You look terrible," said Cas, "Are you ill?"
"Near enough," said Dean, "Cas, if I don't get some sleep I'm gonna lose it. Can you zap yourself to the nearest liquor store and hook me up?"
Cas only squinted harder. "Why do you require alcohol in order to sleep?"
"It just helps, okay?" Dean grumbled. He really didn't feel like spilling his guts to anyone. And especially not to Cas. There was a chick flick moment there just waiting to happen, and Dean wasn't about to fall into its grasp.
"Why?" said Cas, tilting his head like he thought he was cute or something. Bastard.
"Look," said Dean, perhaps a bit more roughly than needed, "Just go get me something to drink. I get blacked out so I don't dream, you go off and do your angel business, and everyone's happy. Okay?"
Cas stared for several seconds before asking, "Is it the blacking out or the dreamless sleep that you require in order to be happy?"
It was the "in order to be happy" that made Dean pause. Happiness hadn't entered into the equation for a long time. Drinking wasn't about being happy. It was about getting through the night without taking a knife to his own body, cutting off a piece for every soul he tortured in Hell until there was nothing left of him. But Cas wanted him to be happy. He even seemed to think it was possible.
When Dean didn't answer, Cas offered, "If you would prefer, I can ensure that you sleep peacefully."
"What, by knocking me out with your angel mojo?"
"No," said Cas, "I will watch over you and banish your nightmares as they arise."
It took Dean a little while to process that. "You'll…" he stammered, "Watch over me? While I sleep?"
"If you will allow it," said Cas.
And yes, it was kind of creepy. And yes, it was kind of weird. And yes, it was really, really gay. But at this point Dean felt like he was going to die if he didn't sleep right the hell now, and if anyone had to stand vigil over him while he was unconscious then it might as well be Cas.
"Okay," he said, "Okay, fine." And he flopped onto the nearest bed without so much as bothering to get under the covers or undress. He curled up there, jacket and shoes and all, and tried to overcome the feeling that Hell was just waiting for him to close his eyes.
He must have been even more tired than he had thought, because he was chained to the bed with Alistair kneeling over him before he was even done wondering how long it would take him to fall asleep. But instead of leaning forward to whisper poison in Dean's ear, Alistair fizzled and disappeared. The chains loosened. Dean felt himself sliding into a heavenly oblivion.
Even though every fiber of his being screamed at Dean to rest, he scrambled his way back to consciousness to find Cas sitting on the side of the bed, pressing a hand to Dean's head.
"How did you do that?" Dean gasped.
Cas raised an eyebrow. "Angel," was all he said.
Dean wanted to ask something else, but he couldn't keep his eyes open. His mind became a blessed blank. He only surfaced a few times during the night, just enough to be aware of cool fingers at his temples and the hem of a tan trench coat clenched in his fist.
When Dean woke fully, the sun was on the horizon and Cas was still sitting there, staring down at him. "Is it morning?" said Dean, and he was surprised by how scratchy his voice was.
"It's dusk," said Cas, "You slept through the day."
"The whole day?" Dean said, "I gotta call Sam." He checked his pockets frantically for his cell phone.
Cas retrieved the phone from the bedside table and handed it to Dean. "I already informed him of the situation," he said, "He is on his way. How do you feel?"
It wasn't until Cas asked the question that Dean bothered to notice that he felt fucking fantastic. He tipped his head back and forth and windmilled his arms, but aside from a little stiffness from his twenty-four-hour catnap he felt perfect. Best of all, he could no longer feel Hell clawing at the back of his mind, waiting for a chance to spring on him. He couldn't remember feeling this good since before he crawled out of his own grave.
"I feel good," was all he could get out.
"I'm glad," Cas said.
Dean could tell that Cas was about to wing away, but there was one more thing on his mind. "Cas?" he said, "Do you think you could do this for me again sometime?" Weird or no, being addicted to Cas was in every way better than being addicted to booze. Plus, there was no hangover.
"Whenever you wish," said Cas, "Just call me."
"And you'll come?"
Cas actually smiled then, his lips curving up slowly as if they didn't quite know how it was supposed to be done. Dean decided that it was a sight that he could get used to seeing.
Dean didn't know what it was that woke him up. Cas hadn't screamed or moaned. Hell, he hadn't even moved. But for some reason Dean had risen out of a deep sleep just in time to see Cas flick his eyes open and stare silently at the ceiling.
There had been only one room left at the motel when they had rolled in at midnight, and it only had two beds. After a round of rock-paper-scissors, Dean had found himself sleeping in an overstuffed chair. (Cas had won a bed by virtue of the fact that neither Sam nor Dean felt like explaining rock-paper-scissors to him. That, and if Dean had won he probably would have just given Cas the bed anyway.)
Dean waited for a few seconds, watching Cas's face. There was no expression on it to hint at what he might be thinking, but Dean was pretty sure he knew. Usually, when Cas woke up in the middle of the night he would just roll over and go back to sleep (not that Dean paid attention to things like that). But this time he just lied there, rigid. Something was wrong.
"Nightmare?" said Dean hoarsely, and that finally made Cas flinch.
Cas sat up so he could see where Dean was curled up in his chair. "I'm sorry I woke you," he said.
"Dude, don't apologize," Dean sighed, "What was it about?"
"Nothing in particular," said Cas. His voice was steady, but he was picking at the bed sheets absently to cover the fact that his hands were shaking. "I was running away from something, I think."
"So are you okay?"
Cas raised his eyes to the ceiling once more, as if it might hold some answer. Then he met Dean's gaze and replied, "I don't understand. I remember very little about the content of my dream, and yet it has produced an intense emotional response."
"You're scared shitless and you don't know why," Dean translated, "Cas, that's the way nightmares are."
"I thought they would be different," said Cas, twisting the sheets tighter around his fingers, "Your nightmares were always very specific."
Dean didn't really feel like talking about his own nightmares. "Do you think you can get back to sleep?"
"It's almost morning," said Cas, "I'll just stay up."
Dean glanced at the clock. It was three. "You need to sleep," he said, "We haven't had a full night in a week, and we're not likely to get another one soon. Just try to forget about it. It wasn't real."
Cas squinted one eye at Dean and lifted his lip as if to say, "No shit, Sherlock." Sam had taught him that face. He had been practicing it. "I know it wasn't real," he said, "But in my current state of mind, I doubt that my sleep would be restful."
"You wanna get smashed?" Dean suggested, "That's what I do when I can't sleep."
Another incredulous look from Cas. "No, thank you." Then his eyes widened. He opened his mouth as if to say something, and then quickly closed it again.
Dean didn't buy that for a second. "Dude, what?"
Cas gave the balled-up sheets in his hands a squeeze and then, as if he might think better of it if he didn't say it fast, he blurted out, "I believe it would be comforting to sleep beside someone."
"You," Cas admitted.
Dean hesitated. It wasn't as if he hadn't thought about it. Sometimes he would catch a glimpse of Cas sleeping (it wasn't like he was watching him or anything) and wonder what it would be like to curl up around him, to twine their legs together, or to breathe in the scent of Cas's hair. But to make the thought into an action had always seemed like an insurmountable step. It was impossible. Besides, what would he tell Sam?
But then again, Cas did look miserable sitting there with nothing but two handfuls of bed sheets for comfort. And sleeping in the chair was making Dean's back hurt anyway.
When Dean stood and crossed the short space between the chair and the bed, glancing over to make sure Sam was still asleep, Cas seemed to sense that anything he said would only risk scaring Dean away. He stayed silent as Dean sat beside him and shuffled his legs under the covers. Dean reached over and gently disentangled Cas's hands from the sheets. They immediately re-entangled themselves in Dean's fingers instead.
They got horizontal and Dean pulled the covers back over them both, but still the only things touching were their hands (which definitely did not count as holding hands at all). It took several minutes of less-than-comfortable silence before Dean decided that replacing Cas's terror with awkwardness wasn't helping anything. He freed one hand from Cas's grip and used it to pull their bodies together.
For a moment, the awkwardness only increased as they both seized up, squirming stiffly as they tried to figure out what to do with their knees. But then Cas melted against Dean with a sigh, and suddenly it was as if their bodies had always known how to fit together perfectly. Cas rested one hand on Dean's chest and the other on his hip. Finally, they were stilled.
Dean soon found that he didn't care what Sam would think, or whether this made him something other than straight, or that this was technically cuddling. Now that he had Cas in his arms, he wondered how he could have possibly spent his entire life sleeping any other way.
"What did you think you were gonna dream about?" Dean wondered.
"Hmm?" said Cas drowsily.
"You said you expected nightmares to be different," said Dean, "What did you think they'd be like?"
Cas mumbled, "I thought I would dream about my worst fear."
"And what's that?"
Dean was pleasantly surprised to find that he could feel Cas's smile against his shoulder. "I think you know," said Cas.
"Yeah," whispered Dean, "I guess I do. Well, dream about something good now, okay?"
"Like what?" Cas's voice was getting quieter as he drifted off.
"Like getting the thing you want the most," said Dean.
The last thing Cas said before he fell back asleep was, "But I already have that."