Dislcaimer: I do not own Supernatural. All characters belong to their respective owners, and I make no profit off of this.
Author's note: An older work I wrote for a fandom auction winner. They requested Dean/Cas/Sam, and I came up with this. Cross-posting from A03.
Stull Cemetery looks exactly the same as it did the day he grabbed Michael, and pulled them all into Hell. For all he knows, it might be the same day.
(All Sam remembers is fighting Lucifer, and winning, and falling, and nothing.)
(So he tells himself.)
At least he didn't have to crawl out of his own grave, but that's a cold comfort next to the stretched-thin, new way he feels. And the memories clamoring at the back of his mind, scratching at the door firmly labeled 'FORGET' like rabid hellhounds waiting to come for him. He doesn't have any plans to open that door, ever.
(Winchester not-plans work about as well as their actual plans.)
"Ugh," he manages, pushes himself up onto his knees, and squints around. The Impala is gone; everything is gone, and all that's left is an empty graveyard, and Sam.
He needs to find Dean. Half of him hopes his brother kept his promise, however long it's been, and the other half hopes he hasn't. He doesn't particularly like that half, even though Sam knows, soul-deep, that Dean couldn't ever really be happy knowing his little brother was in Hell.
Dean was in Hell, too; he knows what it's like, though Sam doesn't think he really had the same level of experience as Dean. He doesn't think he was there long enough.
"Hello Sam," he hears, suddenly, out of nowhere, and he startles badly, ends up flopping around on the ground until he's on his back, staring up at the angel in the tan trench coat. Cas still has unruly dark hair and eyes that are too-blue, and Sam's missed him, thought he was dead, but well, apparently that doesn't mean much anymore.
"Cas?" His voice is too hoarse, barely there, but he knows Castiel hears him from the way the angel tilts his head, staring down at Sam curiously. "Did you-"
"Yes," Cas answers the mostly-unasked question. "I couldn't leave you down there."
Sam…Doesn't really know what to say to that; to the fact that Cas pulled him out of the Devil's Cage and brought him back to Earth.
"Where's Dean?" he asks instead, squinting up at the angel who offers him a hand.
(Sam takes it, and gets pulled easily to his feet.)
Cas looks away for about half a second, long enough for Sam to wonder if he's going to like this answer, and then sighs. "He is…Hunting. Last week he was in New Orleans, and when I talked to him three days ago he was in Texas," he stops, pauses like he's wondering if he has the right to say whatever he wants to say, and then apparently decides that yes, he does because he goes on.
"He did try, Sam. He went to them, but Dean was never meant for that life, and he couldn't…" Cas trails off again, shakes his head, and then those too-blue eyes are drilling into Sam's soul again. "You were in Hell, and there was no way your brother and I could sit back, and let you suffer."
The way he says it…Sam blinks, lurches closer on pure instinct to settle his hands on Cas's shoulders just to keep himself upright. "Cas…Does Dean know?"
Cas quirks one of those amused half-smiles that he usually reserves for Dean. "I told him I had something to take care of," he answers with a shrug.
"Yeah," Sam says, because that's just like Cas, and he suddenly misses Dean fiercely; it's like an ache deep in the pit of his stomach that sucks all the air out of him, and leaves him gasping. He holds on to Cas, who's gripped him by the elbows and is peering at him with concern, and tries to breathe again.
"Sam?" he asks, worry clear in the tone, and it kind of warms Sam to hear it because Cas has always been Dean's angel.
"I'm fine Cas," he says, though they both know he's not, not really, and he won't be until he finds his brother again, and knows for sure that Dean is okay. He does let go of Cas, though, even though he immediately misses the way holding onto him had felt grounding, like maybe Cas could keep him together while Dean wasn't there.
"We should get you to him," Cas says, like there isn't even any kind of possibility that Sam might want to go somewhere else; like he can't even fathom the idea that Sam might not be ready to see his brother.
He wonders what that says about them, the fact that Cas apparently has such unshakeable faith that they belong together. He's not sure about it, himself; Dean and Cas have seemed so close the last couple years, and Sam doesn't know where he fits into that equation. He feels unbalanced, but of course he can't say any of that to Cas.
The angel wouldn't understand, and Sam…Really doesn't want to deal with explaining it. He'd rather just go along, and find Dean, and be with his brother again. He might be the third wheel, but after everything- well, he's pretty sure he'll take whatever he can get.
Of both of them.
They end up driving.
(Sam isn't up to Angel Air at the moment, and well, he needs time before he sees Dean.)
The last time he saw his brother, he'd just managed to over-power the Devil in his own head before leaping at an Archangel and dragging them all down into Hell.
Sam's honestly surprised when Cas folds himself into the passenger seat of the beat-up old Ford Sam borrows from the garage in Lawrence. He doesn't even say anything about stealing being a sin, or whatever. He just hums quietly to himself -Sam thinks it's 'Back in Black' and wow, Cas has been spending way too much time around Dean, obviously- and stares out of the window as Sam buckles his seat-belt, and drives out of the lot as carefully as he can manage.
He hadn't expected Cas to stick around.
"Uh, so, don't take this the wrong way, man, but what are you still doing here?" And it sounds bad no matter how he says it. His social skills are obviously a little rusty. Or maybe he's always been this awkward around Cas.
Cas gives him a side-ways look. "Catching a ride," he says finally, carelessly, like it's something normal for him to be sitting shotgun next to Sam in a junked-up truck instead of doing his usual disappearing act.
"Why?" Sam asks blankly, then shakes his head. "I mean," he adds suddenly, "not that I don't want you here, but. Why? You can fly, right? You have your," he stops and waves a hand in an unconscious imitation of Dean, "mojo back, don't you?"
"Yes, Sam," Cas sighs, "I have my 'mojo' back." Sam could hear the quotations, and he couldn't help but grin because it's so Cas, and he hadn't thought he'd get this again. "Dean, however, still has Enochian sigils carved into his ribs, and I thought you might appreciate the company." The last is said a little snidely, and Sam remembers a drunk Cas leaning close and 'Don't ask stupid questions, Sam.'
"I do," he says, shrugs half-way, and shoots a quick glance at the angel. "You just…Never seemed to like driving that much."
"It's too slow," Cas agrees, one hand digging around in the pocket of his trench coat absently for a moment. It's still a little weird to see him with a cell phone, but well, there was no other way to get a hold of Dean, obviously.
"Hello, Dean," he says, and Sam can hear a note of relief in his voice that makes him worry about the state his brother is in. "No. Where are you?" It doesn't take long for the relief to turn into irritation, and Sam almost laughs because that, at least, is normal.
"Stay there. I'll explain when I get there, Dean. Just stay there," Cas sighs, making a face at the phone that has Sam grinning because it's so them.
He's missed them.
Cas hangs up without saying goodbye, and Sam knows that somewhere, Dean is staring at the sky, and cursing their angel. Cas can probably hear it.
"Can you hear it when he yells at you?" He probably deserves the odd look Cas is giving him for that.
Cas is used to Sam by now though, thankfully, and he just quirks a small, slightly-wicked grin, and shrugs. "It's amusing. Dean can be very…Creative," he answers.
Sam laughs. "Yeah, that's Dean alright," he agrees wryly, amused that Cas does it on purpose. He'd always suspected the angel couldn't possibly be as ignorant about human customs as he acted.
(Castiel has been around the Winchesters far too long for that.)
They stumble into a small town with a werewolf problem three days later, and Sam can't not stop; it just isn't in him to let it go when people are dying. It helps that Cas agrees with him, all righteous fury that these creatures have the audacity to kill on his watch.
"They are abominations," he says quietly from the chair in the motel room Sam rented, staring out of the window solemnly.
"The people they used to be are-" Sam can't help the protest.
"Innocent, I know," Cas cuts him off, finally turning to look at him. His face is blank, but Sam can see emotion in his eyes, and it's far from the indifference in the angel's voice. "But Sam, they can't be helped, now. It's a mercy to put them down."
'Mercy' isn't the word Sam would use, but Cas is right that they need to be put down.
"We'll head out tonight, then," he says, and flops backwards on the one bed in the room. Cas had just given him that look, the one that says 'are you really this dumb?', when he'd asked, so Sam had shrugged and paid for a single.
Unsurprisingly, Winchester luck holds true enough that Sam actually runs into the werewolves just after dark on the way back from the victim's mother's house. He doesn't know where Cas is, hasn't seen him since this morning, and he's only got one gun with silver bullets.
"Goddammit," he mutters, "you should know better, Winchester." Talking to himself isn't going to get rid of the very large, very angry werewolf heading right for him, though, and he pulls the gun, aims, and shoots. He's not going to have time to get the other two, but one of them is down, at least.
Dean is going to kill him for this.
Except the wolves don't have a chance to get near him. There's a loud clap of thunder, and a bright light, and Cas is there; a blurring whirl of light and trench coat, stabbing the werewolves with the silver angel-sword like it's the easiest thing in the world.
It's over in moments, and they're both left standing there with the bodies, staring at each other. Sam's still trying to come down from the adrenaline high, and Castiel just looks pissed. His hair is a mess, and his eyes are wild as he cleans off his knife, and puts it back into whatever pocket of reality it comes from.
"I did not," he starts, voice low and rough, and wrathful, "pull you out of Hell just to lose you to Heaven." Sam wonders if this is what Dean feels like sometimes, and hunches in on himself out of instinct.
"I didn't expect to just run into them, Cas. I wasn't trying to get myself killed again," he tries, but Cas just gives him the same look he used to give Dean when he tried to argue his way out of being lectured on his recklessness. Sam sighs, but doesn't get to say anything.
"Next time," Cas says, invading Sam's personal space without any kind of hesitation at all; like he belongs there, "call me. I don't just hear Dean's prayers, Sam."
"How'd you find me, anyway?" he asks, unable to resist because he hadn't, to his own knowledge, called out for the angel. Castiel just shrugs irritably, looking ruffled in his blood-specked coat.
"I was looking for you," he answers vaguely, and Sam knows that's all he's going to get on the subject. Still, at least the werewolves are taken care of, and Cas is pretty handy to have around when he's all mojo'd up.
He's also still very much in Sam's personal space, and Sam clears his throat, feeling a little awkward. "Uh, Cas…You maybe wanna back up a little?"
Cas blinks, looks up at him, and narrows his eyes. "And if I don't?" he asks, and Sam stares, because what?
"What?" he asks, and apparently his ability to talk and act like a rational human being around Cas is rapidly deteriorating.
Cas doesn't answer though, just leaves it at that, and turns on his heel to walk towards the car. He's apparently not going to leave Sam alone again; not that he minds, really, considering it means Cas is going to stay but it's also…Unsettling.
Sam really shouldn't be as affected by his brother's angel as he is because 1), he's an angel, and 2), he's Dean's.
Sam's just…Tainted, and he doesn't have anything either of them would want. He sighs and follows after Cas, sliding into the driver's side.
"Thanks, Cas," he says after a long moment, and he isn't just talking about the werewolves. They've never thanked Cas enough for everything, and maybe they should.
"Don't," Cas says, turning to stare at him out of too-blue eyes. "You and your brother; you're all I have left," he adds, solemn, and turns back to the window.
"You're all we have, too," Sam tells him, because other than Bobby, it's true enough, and the long drive back to the dinky, road-side motel is silent.
"I didn't know 'want' until I spent most of my time with you Winchesters," Cas says when Sam opens the door. He'd disappeared from the car as soon as Sam had pulled in, but somehow Sam isn't surprised to find him sitting on the edge of the bed, staring down at his hands. "I only knew 'obey' and 'orders' and my duty to my Father and Brothers," he continues, looking up only briefly.
"And then you met Dean," Sam says, because it's unequivocally Dean that taught Cas about free-will, and being his own person.
"And you," Cas corrects, pressing his shoulder into Sam's when he sits down beside him. "You, who were destined for such a dark path," he huffs a short laugh, and shakes his head. "You're the reason Dean and I never gave up, Sam; the reason we fought so hard against it all, because you did, and if you could fight it, then how could we do any less?"
Sam blinks, and stares, and Dean had told him he'd held on because of him, but Sam had never really believed it. To hear that Cas had, too; that he'd fought to the last for Sam, too….
"I just…Everyone said it was my destiny y'know, to give up to Lucifer, and I didn't want them to be right," he says, a little numb, and looks down when Cas squeezes his knee.
"You are a good man, Sam Winchester," he says, slowly, and smiles when Sam looks up at him. "Hell didn't break anything that can't be fixed," he adds, like he knows, and maybe he does because Cas has been there, too.
Sam can't help reaching out, and he knows he's going to regret it when he gets pushed away, but Cas doesn't. He meets him half-way I instead, and Sam makes a startled noise when their lips meet, feels Cas smile against his, and the angel tastes like a summer storm in the Midwest, and Sam doesn't want this to end.
"Finally," Dean says, looking up when they walk in the door. There's such a look of profound happiness, and relief, and so many other things on his face that Sam has to stop for a minute, and just stare because it feels like he hasn't seen his brother in forever.
"What? You knew?" Dean clearly knew, and he grins; something real, and private, hooking an arm around Cas in such a casually possessive way that Sam raises an eyebrow.
"Hell yes, I knew," Dean says, shrugging even as he reaches out to tug Sam closer; a hard jerk at his collar that has him moving towards them in a stumble. They both steady him, each with a hand on his arms, and he stares at them both helplessly.
"Cas told me he had something to take care of. I told him to go find you, and bring you back," and Dean's voice is too gentle, too rough, and Sam doesn't know what to do with himself.
"But..Cas..and everything-" He doesn't even know what he's trying to say.
Cas smiles though, that terrible, wicked, half-smirk that Sam's become so used to, and his hand slides up Sam's arm to caress his cheek in a gesture that is so terribly intimate in a way they haven't been yet, and Sam wants to weep at the feel of an angel touching something so stained as him that way.
Cas shakes his head. "It was real, Sam; all of it. You are ours, and I think it's time you realized that," he says, voice soft, and fierce at the same time. The voice that can shatter glass, and summon storms, and rule Heaven; he never imagined it would be used to claim him as something beloved.
He never imagined they would want him as part of…Them.
Sam turns his head when Dean tugs at his chin, and finds himself staring into his brother's green eyes. "Cas is right," he says, that smile on his face; the one that reaches his eyes and means something. "You belong with us, and we don't want you anywhere else."
"I don't want to be anywhere else," he manages, looking between the both of them, and the sudden brush of feathers across his side startles him, and Dean laughs.
"Feels weird, huh?" he asks, and Sam looks over to see him tracing something neither of them can see, but he can feel the feathers there. Like steel, and down, and lightening all rolled into one, and he looks up at Cas in wonder.
"It's awesome," he says, and laughs when Cas grimaces at the word that is more Dean than Sam. He rolls his eyes then, a telling, human gesture, and shoves at the both of them until they stumble backwards towards the bed, and Sam's a little stunned that this is happening.
"Can I?" Dean asks, one arm wrapping around him from behind, and his chin rests on Sam's shoulder as he stares at Cas. The angel is busy tugging off his trench coat, and the suit underneath, and Sam is understandably distracted for a long moment. Dean chuckles, and tugs at his hair lightly until he gets his attention.
"Y-yeah," he stutters, turning to face his brother with wide eyes, and Dean grins at him as Cas presses close to his back.
"Relax Sammy," Dean says, reaching up and undoing the buttons of his shirt; Cas is the one that slides it from his shoulders, and Sam can barely breathe when they touch him, both of them looking wrecked, and desperate. Like they can't stop now that they have him, and it's almost too much, being wanted like that by them when he's been to Hell and back.
"We have, too," Cas murmurs, and Sam flushes because he'd forgotten that Cas could read his fucking mind, and that shouldn't be as hot as it is.
"No thinking," Dean orders, and it's not hard to obey with all of them skin-to-skin now, and Cas chuckles, shaking himself in a way that Sam thinks he's maybe shaking his wings out before-
"Shut your eyes," he says, and Dean tugs Sam's head down, and buries his face in Sam's neck but they can both still see the bright light behind their lids until it fades and Cas's voice comes back.
"Okay," he says, shaky with desire, and want, and need, and they both look at the same time. Their eyes are wide, and even Dean shows some appreciation for the great black wings that shift above them, feathers trailing down to caress their bodies, and set them both to shivering.
"Damn, Cas," Dean starts, doesn't finish, just reaches up to run a finger over the nearest feather, and they watch as Cas's eyes go dark with pleasure.
Sam lets his own hand stray up to join his brother's. "They're beautiful," he murmurs, and Cas ducks his head like he wasn't expecting that.
"They're stained," he says, glancing up at them, and his wings shift nervously, "from Hell."
Dean goes still, and Sam sucks in a breath because this, right here, is visible proof of everything Cas has done for them both, and he's the most beautiful thing Sam has ever seen.
They reach up at the same time, tugging Cas down to them, and the three of them lose themselves in each other, and the feel of being together finally; safe.
This is the way it should be; the three of them, bound up in each other the way they always have been, and Sam wouldn't have it any other way, after everything.