To say Sam was worried was an understatement. They had a mummy after them. They had to reach Hamunaptra fast to get the book of Amon-Ra. And his brother was playing strong but was the shell of himself after losing his best-friend and might have become lover if they had had time. And of course, he wouldn't talk about it.
They didn't have a plan. They could try and travel with camels like last time but there wasn't any diversion to be made, which meant Lucifer would certainly catch them long before they reached the city. Using a car in a desert wasn't a solution either, it would break down and they still had the Mummy trouble.
Right now they were in one of Bobby's house. But they couldn't hide forever. In fact they couldn't stay here much longer. Bella knew them and was certainly looking for them. It was a matter of hours for her to find them. Bobby had talked about a place of his that would serve as a good hiding place for at least a few days. They were going to head that way. Maybe after a good night rest they would think of something.
In the meantime Sam really wanted to help Dean. He wasn't even pacing. He just sat there, arms resting on his knees, his fingers barely holding a finished bottle of alcohol, his second one. Sam sat next to him, twisting his hand for a moment, searching out to breech the subject.
"Don't even think about it Sammy," mumbled Dean.
"Dean, you cared for him," started Sam.
"And he's dead, end of story," replied his brother.
"Yet you are standing at the window, as if you hope he's going to show up," pointed out Sam.
Dean gave him a look, stood up, and dragged himself to the other side of the room, as if to make a point. The dick. As Sam was going to call Dean on his bullshit he saw him sprang up and run to the window. Sam turned and sure enough, here was Rachel, Cas' falcon gently coming to them.
"Come here baby," cooed Dean, extending his arm.
The bird seemed to consider it but finally decided to land on Dean' upper arm. Good thing Dean had a leather strap right there or its claw would have dug in his flesh painfully. Gently he patted the bird, his fingers caressing the pretty feathers.
"You lost your master you poor thing?" he said softly.
Sam watched mesmerized as Dean, talked and petted the falcon. He was already feeding him bits of meat. It was strange to see him act like that. At least it was sort of therapeutic.
"I'm going to take good care of you, don't you worry baby"
Rachel gave a little chirp and Dean was back to stroking her feathers. Then they heard a thump on their door. They jumped in surprise and hurried to Bobby who had been standing guard.
"Holy! Dean!" called Bobby In that gruff voice of his.
As they reached him they were both surprised to see him his arm full of a dressed in dark body. The mop of dark ruffled hair was unmistakable. Sam immediately set to help Bobby drag the unconscious man in. They closed the door, Bobby back to guarding it, making sure Cas hadn't been followed.
Then Dean sprang into action too. They laid Cas down on the floor and began checking for life threatening injuries. He was covered in grime and blood, bits of human remains stuck everywhere. Part of his clothes were burnt and it seemed evident he had used a bomb as diversion to escape. He had some superficial cuts, some hematoma but was otherwise unscathed. A real relief.
"You clever thing," chuckled Dean, petting the falcon proudly.
Soon enough blue eyes opened and settled straight on Dean. Sam suddenly felt as if he was intruding, not really welcome in all that gazing intently at each other ritual. As discreet as he could he took his leave. They would have to move soon to avoid detection but he was going to let his brother bask in his happiness for a bit.
They were hiding in one of Bobby's numerous secret houses. The clever bugger had a freaking bunker! The whole deal: isolated walls, three rooms, all the commodities necessary! There was also lots of canned food, blankets and anything you could dream of. It was the panic house as he called it. A fucking benediction right now.
Bella didn't know of it. No one knew of it. Eventually they would be found out, but for the moment it gave them at least a few days to put themselves together and plan. Dean wasn't a man that minded a little bit of filth, he could go a few days without bathing, especially in the desert where you had no choice. But he had to admit a nice bath was just wonderful.
Not to mention it was also fun with Cas around. The dude was just clueless. He could kick your ass with a hundredth different methods, could read old Egyptian, Greek, Latin and God knew what else. But you gave him a bottle of shampoo and he was lost.
"I am not used to those luxuries," he explained, "we merely use soap."
Dean, dressed in loose pants, a towel thrown on his shoulder, rolled his eyes. The dude had been in the process of undressing when he had noticed there was lots of bottle in the shower and no soap. Wearing only his dark dirty pants, their binding half undone, he had come seeking advice in how he was supposed to use the stuff.
"Come here you dork," beckoned Dean.
Cas obediently came to him, looking thankful as Dean gave him some soap. Then Dean took the bottle of shampoo and pressed a good amount in his hands, rubbing them together to make it bubble. With a half smile he started energetically stroking Cas' hair and scalp. It was only when Cas leaned toward him with a grunt of pleasure that he realized just how close they were.
"That feels really good," mumbled Cas, blue eyes for once fluttering close instead of staring, his voice even lower than usual, sounding a bit surprised too.
"What never had a girl do that for you?" teased Dean, trying not to let his sudden un-easiness show.
"I've never had occasions"
Dean paused in his massaging Cas' head and stared. Did that mean what he thought it meant? Cas avoided his gaze, looking slightly embarrassed.
"You've never… oh man that sucks!" sympathized Dean.
How was that possible? Dean had always been considered a Greek beauty, plump lips, delicate but manly face, toned and chiseled body, green eyes highlighted by a constellation of freckles. Cas wasn't bad on the eyes at all, but more of a rough peculiar beauty. Powerful body, not a tad of grease, ruffled dark hair, strong jaw with always a shadow, lips well defined often a little too dry, blue eyes that contrasted sharply with the rest of him. It was as if he had stumbled out of bed and needed you to take care of him, comb his hair, help him shave and moisten his lips. But Dean admitted he liked Cas' raw quality, his untamed appearance, not to mention his gravel voice that could send shivers down to his toes. What the hell am I thinking? He berated himself.
"I wasn't selected to breed," continued Cas, visibly sure that would explain it all.
"Breed? Whoua Cas, your lot is utterly crazy and they are all dicks," he grumbled, "I bet you never ate hamburger or pie," he suddenly added, changing that dangerous subject.
"Hamburger and pie? What are those?"
Dean snorted as he tilted his head all white and bubble-ly from the shampoo.
"American specialties! Best things of earth, trust me, I will make you taste them one of these days," chuckled Dean, rinsing his hands.
"I would like that, Dean," agreed Cas.
He turned to go back to the bathroom and Dean sucked in a ragged breath. His back! His back was streaked with red angry lines. It seemed he had been whipped from shoulder to lower back, until almost no skin was left. It looked mostly healed.
"What… what happened?" asked Dean, voice catching a bit.
"It was part of learning my place, Dean," simply replied Cas, dismissing the matter as unimportant.
He did that a lot when it concerned him. Got one to know one Dean supposed.
"You mean that's from Zach's punition?"
He remembered how Cas had winced as he had yanked him by his shirt when they had been arguing about killing Sam. This had been the reason. However it had happened yesterday how was it possible? Catching his surprise Cas, pulled a pretty looking box from his outfit. Just how much stuff did he hide in all those folds?
"This is a special ointment made of old magic herbs; they greatly hurry the healing and lower the pain," explained the Madjai, "one more application and barely anything will remain."
There was nothing else he could say. Just at how many applications was he for his back to still look like that? If it was such a miraculous ointment, it meant his back had been a really severe state. Before he knows it Dean has his hands on Cas' back. It's ok. It feels right. Cas didn't even tense up, on the contrary he can feel him press himself back, softly.
Those were made because of Dean. For Dean. When he thinks about it, he is overwhelmed. Cas abandoned everything he knew, everything that had been pounded into his mind, everything beaten into him for Dean. Because Dean had talked to him, asked him. He doesn't deserve it. He's full of shit, full of ideals with sometime double standards he doesn't even understand, he's impulsive, demanding, ungrateful, a prick. Yet this man, who isn't family, who doesn't owe him anything, chose him, gave him everything, even his life.
He hates Cas. He doesn't have the right to say his name like that. Had Dean ever mention just how weird it was having Cas call him? He said Dean with a tone that was more than merely saying his name. A simple "Dean" could be anything from anger to endless devotion, from blame to forgiveness. He could bet Cas would be able to use only his name to speak and still be understood. That's just not fair.
Dean dipped his fingers into the ointment. It was tingling, a very strange feeling, Dean's first taste of magic. Of good magic. He had tasted lots of bad mojo. Firmly, because Cas isn't fragile, he started applying it. He was making small circles, making sure the balm penetrates the skin. It was a bit spooky to see Cas back fix itself with each rub, as if it had only been paint, not blood and skin. When his thumb caught on Cas' shoulder blades, a long shiver rand down the Madjai's spine. When Dean was done, he let his hand rest there for a moment longer.
It meant thank you, it meant that even if his injuries are gone and can't witness his loyalty, his dedication to Dean, he would do it all over again. Without Dean asking. Because he wants to. And Dean fucking doesn't deserve it, but he still takes it.
Sam would do everything for him, Dean knows it. But they are family; it's how they were raised. It's still wonderful; they could have hated each other's gut. Dad raised them well, family is everything for them. This here, it's Cas choosing Dean, accepting him, seeing something in him Dean can't even begin to fathom. That feels him with warmth.
"There all done," he said, breaking the spell as one would say.
He patted Cas' back then turned heels to leave. He can feel Cas' blue eye following him, making his nape burn under their intensity. He didn't turn back. But he did lean against the door and wondered what the fuck he was doing.
Rachel was chirping in a corner, fresh meat at her disposal. Bobby had grumbled about wasting good stuff on animals but Dean had insisted. Sam would bet it was a reward for the bird bringing back Cas. Something had changed between the two of them. It kinda resembled a courting ritual, albeit a strange one. But that's Dean, when feelings are involved.
Sam remembers times he was sick, Dean wouldn't sleep if he could help it, then he would collapse near Sam when it was too much. He would always soup ready to be heated, have fresh water for him to drink or to soak a cloth in to press against his burning forehead. He would carry Sam to the bathroom, feed him. He was a real mother hen. And to dismiss his worry, hide his love and concern, he would tease Sam mercilessly all the time, joke around, call him a pain. But everything would be laced with undercurrent fondness.
It was a bit like that now. Excepted Dean was being elusive, irritable. His attraction to Cas had turned into anger. It was fun to see them bicker at each other like a married couple.
"Guns are unnecessary; they won't slow down the creature."
"Well sorry but some of us are better at firing that swinging swords like a sissy."
"Dean. You put too much power into this bomb."
"Blow me Cas!"
And it was amazing to see Dean throw it all out the windows and smile when Cas was being dense about things that are common for him.
"Why would I blow you? It would be a waste of a bomb and you could get injured, we need you whole."
Dean looked at Cas with despair mixed in fondness. Cas tilted his head, conscious something was off but not knowing what. Dean won't explain it, Cas seemed certain staring at Dean will finally give him a hint, Sam suspected Dean just really enjoyed that and hoped to keep it that way for as long as possible.
"Get a room," growled Crowley.
"What for?" innocently asked Cas.
Dean laughed, patting Cas' back. Then he went back to picking useless fights with Cas. It was a circle.
"God damnit Cas! Noodles without butter aren't noodles!" yelled Dean as he pushed Cas away from the kitchenette.
Then he went into teacher mode, showing Cas just how he was supposed to cook. Cas patiently let him. Sam and Bobby exchanged a look. Sam wasn't for meddling into Dean's business, especially not the romantic ones. Dean had never need any help on that side with women after all. But as soon as it mattered… like with Lisa, it was something else entirely. And right now? Dean needed help because Cas wasn't going to do anything, just stare and love silently. Dean wouldn't move either, because he hadn't yet realized his feelings; he certainly hadn't even admitted he was attracted to Cas.
In any other circumstances Sam would let things sink a bit more, but they might not have much more time to live. At least he doesn't. If he is to die, he wants Dean to have someone to rely on, someone to put his pieces back together, someone to live for.
Hence why, he was currently approaching Dean with a nice cup of coffee. His big brother watched him from the corner of his eyes and grunted, already guessing he was in for a girly moment. Sam gave him his cup, as if a peace offering, or something to bribe him, and settled at his side.
"Want me to do your nails?" Dean greeted.
"I believe Cas would rather have you do his," replied Sam, happy to be able to launch the subject so easily.
Dean gapped at him.
"Man, the dude's not /that/ strange!"
"You seem pretty close, it's been a while since I saw you close to someone else than me," remarked Sam.
"Yeah he's a cool guy"
Dean merely shrugged, drinking his coffee. He rolled his eyes as he caught Cas staring, the latter didn't stop. Dean motioned to his cup, silently asking if Cas wanted some. Cas shook his head no and went to go help Bobby as the older man called him.
"He's almost like family," ventured Sam.
In Dean's book, family was everything. It was the highest honor to be considered family, like Bobby was. Now the goal was to make Dean see that Cas was family, but not as a brother more like a possible in-law.
"Yeah I supposed he is," admitted Dean, watching Cas show Bobby stuff on a map.
"Remember that friend of yours in high school?"
Dean's deer caught in the headlight look told him he totally did. That he knew immediately what Sam was referring to, even thought Dean had had more than one male friend in high school, showed the connections were starting in his head. The subject of Cas was unconsciously linked in Dean's mind with his first poke of homosexuality hence his immediate understanding of who Sam was bringing up.
Sam gave his brother a reassuring smile that made him twitch. He began to stand up, his hand coming to rest on Dean's shoulder in an encouraging manner.
"Well I'm still ok with it, and yeah Cas is a great guy and welcome in our twisted family."
There. He had pushed the thought in Dean's mind; his brother wouldn't be able to avoid thinking about it anymore. He shouldn't be able to label Cas as only a "brother" either. His job was done. He had added a bit of approving too, just in case but he was pretty sure that hadn't been necessary. Dean did as he pleased.
"We need a plane," announced Bobby.
It had been three days since they had started hiding in the bunker. They had been raking their brain for a plan ever since. To have someone propose something remotely helpful was a miracle. But Dean didn't like this plan at all. His eyes had comically widened. No way. No freaking way! He opened his mouth to vehemently protest but Sam beat him to it. The little shit.
"Of course! A plane! It's fast, the Mummy has far less chance to catch up!"
Dean caught his breath. He wasn't getting in a plane! He preferred facing Lucifer head on rather than get in a fucking plane that would crash for sure! Especially since the mummy who was out to kill them could control the weather!
"We need a pilot," mentioned Crowley, perplexed at how they would find one.
At that Dean felt a triumphal relief. They would never manage to find one! He was saved!
"I might know someone," piped up Cas.
Dean sent him a betrayed, angry look. Cas merely tilted his head at him, puzzled at why he was getting such a reaction when he was helping. Dean glared at him and turned his head, stubborn. He could feel blue eyes digging holes in his head.
"That ex Madjai friend of yours? Might worth a try," mumbled Bobby, they had obviously talked about it before bringing it up in group.
"We will need to convince him, but I am confident," informed Cas, standing straighter.
"Without me," blurted out Dean, arms crossed on his chest in defiance.
Sam turned to him amusement fighting compassion on his face. Cas blinked and stared, confuse at what was happening. Bobby groaned, muttering idijit just loud enough for everyone to hear. Crowley turned slowly toward him, all calm-before-the-tempest kind.
"You are not backing out of this now. I left everything behind, my subordinates were eaten and I'm living with your dirty lot in a damn bunker. So you will man up and get into that plane you moron!" he hissed.
Dean seemed momentarily speechless. Sam snickered and explained to Cas that Dean feared planes like a cat feared water. Dean bristled, ready to show Sam just what happened to stupid little brothers who didn't know how to keep their cakehole shut.
"It's ok Dean, he's a very good pilot and if the plane crash you will die on the spot," reassured Cas.
Dean's eyes bulged out at that information. How the hell was that supposed to help? Cas couldn't be that dumb right? Or did he think the issue was feeling pain? Seriously what the hell had his people taught him?
"We still have to reach your friend without being spotted by Lucifer," pointed out Sam, defusing the tense situation.
Dean instead of tearing his eyes away from Cas started to smirk as he motioned to the dark clad man. His outfit just screamed: I'm a Madjai, kill me please. Not the mention the strange tattoos on his cheeks and forehead.
"Cas' the main problem, he's a sitting duck," chuckled Dean.
"I don't understand, I'm no duck Dean," replied Cas, tilting his head.
Dean rolled his eyes fondly exasperated. Crowley cleared his throat loudly before fumbling in his stuff and throwing a steel box to Cas. The latter caught it easily and peered at it curiously before opening it and looking confused. Dean immediately leaned on his shoulder to see and scoffed.
"Make up? You carry make up on you, dude?" teased Dean, a huge grin on his features as he almost collapsed in laughter.
"Some of us actually like looking clean and charming whatever the circumstances and not like some filthy complete scoundrel," retorted Crowley, head held high.
"I suppose I am to use this strange powder to hide the pledge of my loyalty?" wondered Cas, having tentatively run a finger on the make up to find said digit covered in skin-tone stuff.
"Yeah that's the idea. And we will have to dig up some clothes for you too."
"If it is necessary," agreed Cas, nodding his head once.
Dean immediately busied himself to this task. A nice way to forget he would have to fucking fly on a crate directed by someone he didn't even know. He liked his feet firmly on the floor thank you very much. Anyway Sam had brain enough for the two of them and Bobby and him certainly didn't need him to plot their demise by plane crashing. So he was going to do what he could: make Cas presentable.
First of all he needed a white shirt then brown pants and suspenders, a tie… blue if he had. Blue would totally look good on Cas with his eyes. Not that it mattered of course or that Dean had really noticed it, it was just common sense, they didn't want Cas to look weird.
It was the kind of Dean that demanded his attention because Cas thought something was wrong.
"Mmm?" he replied, still pushing his way in the spare clothes Bobby had amassed.
He put on the side some stuff for the other guys too. They still had to find a way to hide his gigantor of a brother. Dressing him up wouldn't do the trick. They couldn't leave him behind with a cat either, that would be too risky. Or maybe that would be the clever thing to do but there was no way in hell he was leaving Sammy behind even for a few hours.
"I need space to hide my weapons Dean," reminded Cas, holding the garments Dean had haphazardly thrown at him.
Dude had a point. A jacket wouldn't do, Cas' twin blades wouldn't fit in it. Maybe a long coat? Yeah that should do the trick. Back to digging into the clothes Dean pulled out a long beige overcoat, kinda like cowboy one. It would do nicely. He just had to find some old boots and they would be set.
"Go put that on so we can see if it's ok," requested Dean.
Bobby kept a lot of things and as usual it proved useful. It was a habit many people found stupid and unnecessary but in their line of jobs you never knew what you might need. And there it was, worn leather boots that should be Cas' size or close enough.
Knocking as he opened the door Dean let out a snort as he was met with a mostly dressed Cas. He had managed the pants and shirt ok, thank God, it didn't take a genius to know how to put that on. However the suspenders were crossed on his chest and he had smudged the make-up on his face so now instead of having three lines of dark writing he had three lines of brown marring his face. As for the tie he had obviously given up and simply hanged him around his neck.
"I find your attire a bit complicated Dean," deadpanned Castiel, stuffing his shirt in his pants in a neat way.
Cas obediently did, coming a bit too close for comfort and making Dean huff a bit. The dude would never get it. Gently he unclipped the suspenders and put them correctly, Cas not moving a muscle as Dean leaned on him, arms around his waist, to tie them back properly. Then he took the tie in his hands and put it on correctly yet loosely, it suited the disheveled look Cas' messy hair gave him.
"Thank you Dean," acknowledged the Madjai, eyes following Dean's every moves.
"Put these on," requested Dean, giving the boots to Cas.
He didn't even wonder when being under Cas' scrutiny had became normal. As thought the boots were a match, as was the coat when the Madjai put it on. It suited him in a strange kind of way. And it seemed Cas liked the clothes, he was currently eyeing the coat as if thinking up ways to conceal all his weapons in it. Which he probably was, knowing the dude.
"I will need some sewing materials Dean," demanded Cas.
"Sure sure but first things first," grumbled Dean.
That make-up just didn't look good. Grabbing Cas by the tie he dragged him close, his friend allowing it without so much as a twitch. Using the end of this shirt Dean started to rub Cas' cheek to spread the powder uniformly. He could feel the roughness of Cas' skin and the scratch of his bear shadow when he encountered it. He was a man of the desert a strong unyielding man ready to face a tornado if it meant standing for his ideas and his body reflected that.
Slowly but surely the brown dust got mixed with Cas' skin and soon enough it looked normal without letting the dark writing show. Dean leaned back a bit and satisfied by his work took Cas' chin in his fingers and tilted his head so he could work on the second cheek. Dutifully Cas let Dean incline his head however he pleased. It seemed normal behavior and Dean felt a strange shiver run down his spine.
"Am I suitable now?" Cas asked as Dean finished rubbing at his forehead.
That nearly made Dean jump out of his skin. Cas' warm breath fanning on his face had just made him conscious of just how close they were. Stepping back he distractedly licked his lips, blue eyes followed the movement before catching his green ones and holding them, awaiting an answer.
"Yeah you look less like a walking target," grinned Dean, "now we have to find a way to make Sam look smaller, that's gonna be a bitch," he grumbled.
"You will manage I'm sure," reassured Cas, his voice so certain it hurt.
"Whoa whoa don't give me too much credit," uneasily joked Dean.
"You are a perplexing being Dean," deadpanned Cas, watching Dean busy himself with looking for clothes for their little group.
Dean only gave him a grunt not wanting to go there. He didn't know what Cas wanted to say but he didn't want to hear it. It was strange enough to have to deal with what Sam had implied and what he was actually feeling. Dean didn't do feeling and he had a good reason for that: he sucked at it. Yes Cas was a nice guy, crazy in all the right ways and fucking following Dean of all people, loyal too. And he was easy on the eyes for sure, all toned warrior body strong but strangely slender, messy hair as if he had just gotten laid and asked for round two, unnerving blue eyes that seemed glued to Dean as if he was fucking counting his freckles and kept loosing count and had to start over.
He reassured Dean, because he could trust him to watch his back, he could lean on his strength and had the feeling it would never fail him. That made him mad, because Dean was no weak man, he had taken care of Sammy on his own for a long long time. And it was fucking nice to be able to count on someone and Dean was angry for craving it so damn much. It was meant to end badly, he just knew it. He was going to mess up, get the dude killed and then he would have to pick the pieces… or worse he was going to disappoint the guy and would be left behind.
"It is puzzling to see you expect people to follow you as a messiah even thought you deem yourself unworthy."
Dean's head snapped back, ready to bark a cutting remark but he was met with a level and non-judging stare. There was trust there, wonder and amazement, as if Cas couldn't start to understand how Dean worked but was still ready to go to hell with him and think it was worth it.
"Your brother is very different from you."
"Yeah, he's great," replied Dean, not really knowing where the hell they were going with this.
If this was a way to change the subject he was totally ready for it. He could talk about Sammy, that was easy, safe.
"He has better self esteem than you do."
And too good to be true. Damn Madjai. And no amount of glaring and looking threatening seemed to deter him.
"That's because you raised him with love. You were raised as a warrior by your father."
Dean was going to punch him any seconds now but he had a feeling he would just break his hand on that pretty face and Cas would just keep doing and not mind him. That drove him crazy.
"Just like me, you weren't allowed to feel or think for yourself, Sam was your mission and your purpose yet you didn't do that to Sam."
Dean had his hands fisted on Cas' shirt, he had wanted to yank him forward but like that time in the desert, Cas didn't budged, rooted on the floor and stronger than Dean. That wasn't going to stop him from knowing him a good one. Dean didn't like being read that easily, he liked even less being put in front of those truth, even Sam took a beating when he tried.
"You made Sam into the great human being he is Dean, you should give yourself more credit."
That stopped Dean dead, his hands raised to hit looking stupid in the air like that.
"You taught me free will too," added Cas.
Dean released the white shirt, giving a shove in the process, Cas not moving an inch. Back to digging in clothes to hide his embarrassment, Dean tried to bury the urge to kiss Cas into submission. He felt bare, unworthy of what he had been told and yet touched by it. He wanted to hit Cas, punish him for making him feel, just has much as he wanted to fuck him, thank him.
"I'm not strong enough," he finally admitted.
"And that is why you are," replied Cas, nonplused.
ooo To be continued for the few people who were nice enough to review ooo