-x-

How does one describe the awareness of becoming sentient from a non-sentient existence? He has grave doubts that there was ever existing language on the subject matter.

But for a second time?

Perhaps the experience shouldn't be so startling.

-x-

The littlest snowflakes float into his view, into his spread hands.

Dean shoulders open a shop door, grimacing with a cold wind hitting him in the face. He joins his silent companion, grumbling about ridiculous city prices and dropping into a sitting position – the older looking man doesn't react to him and stares intently at the melting snowflakes on his bare, smooth palms. No visible prints to be seen on milky skin. Nothing that would distinguish him to any record of human being if an official ever got their mitts on him – not that anyone much cared about two guys chatting on a sidewalk. The skyline of Chicago glows among the minor flurry of the weather.

"Do you, uh…?" Dean offers out a styrofoam cup with his right hand. His fingertips press into the heatproof lid.

The man accepts the coffee in the same gesture, carefully maneuvering it between both hands.

He takes a cautious sip, ignoring the scalding nature of the liquid. "It tastes awful," comes a rumble. "I like it." He assesses this by taking another longer sip, tongue stinging with the temporary burn.

"More you know," Dean comments. He pops off the lid of his own special order of blacker-than-Satan's-asshole coffee, blowing away the steam.

"We're… gonna find a way to turn you back, alright."

Eyes, an insanely clear gray, meets Dean's gaze, ambivalent. Fucking weird doesn't begin to cover the basics. A case turns to a magical showdown in an alley to – who the hell knew the Impala was a guy?

It's only slightly a lot awkward that Dean's car doesn't want to respond to anything other than the loving nickname Dean had bestowed on it, ever since the Impala has been passed onto him. He has got at least twenty five pounds on Dean, and maybe ten years along with a thick, blackish-brown beard that reminds him of his dad when John Winchester would return from an exhausting four-day hunt.

'Baby' would come out as the opposite nickname that fits.

Dean sighs aloud, tendrils of vapor white escaping his lips. "Sam's looking into a counter-curse or whatever with Bobby." Misinterpreting another silent, intense look, he insists, "You know…?"

"I know who they are," Baby says, dark and bushy eyebrows pulling together, and Dean kinda wants to laugh 'cause he's making a bitchface worthy of Sam's lineup. "I know who you are, Dean Winchester." The impulse doesn't last when the older man's expression tempers and those eyes—steely gray but edged bright with color—peer upwards. "You found me in 1973, and helped keep the timeline together."

"Wouldn't have been right if I didn't."

"Should I thank you for that?" The question isn't mocking. Dean blinks at it. "How about all those days you slaved away to repair me? Took care of me? Treated me so preciously?" Dean's skin crawls – pleasure or foreboding, it doesn't matter – when a hand smooths between his shoulder blades, up for the nape of Dean's neck. Warm fingers massage the slit of skin exposed from Dean's jacket collar.

He twists his arm free when Baby snatches onto it, and then is whipped to the side. Pain throbs inside his wrist, and Dean knocks his coffee into the gutter. His head cracks against the solid concrete, flashing stars behind Dean's eyelids. When he's sure he's not passing out, Dean reopens them slowly. Baby frowns apologetically at him, lacing and pinning Dean's fingers to the sidewalk beside his head.

The silver hair within the thick, dark beard flashes in Dean's blurring eyes—another round of stars, oh god— before he registers the situation. Moving is a no-no. The man above him weighs like… a car.

Dean croaks instead, "The hell?"

"John had a certain fondness for being handled roughly… was I wrong to assume that you were different?"

"Can't we talk about this first? You know, wining and dining before the kinky stuff—?" It's babbling. Pure babbling. Dean's heart feels like it's going seventy miles a minute in his chest. His vision focuses but his face burns embarrassment on top of the cold. His eardrums echo his heartbeat within his skull, so loud that he misses the gentle sounds of wings fluttering.

"—Am I interrupting something?"

Dean's head snaps towards Castiel's voice. Though usually stoic in emotions when he visits, Castiel appears less than pleased this time.

"Unless you planned on joining in," Baby informs him, a hint of a leer on his lips. Dean's eyes bug out. Yougottabekidding—

Castiel examines the outward dismay in his human charge for a few seconds before warning the older man, "Step away from Dean now or suffer the consequences."

"You have no claim to him, angel."

"I raised him from perdition."

"I have been there for him. Every moment he has needed me." Baby's rumbling tone starts to boom as he yells, muscular jaw clenching, "I have not and will not betray or abandon Dean like the others. You don't know what he's gone through in his lifetime. What he won't say to anyone but what I have seen. It would kill a normal man!" Dean's chest tightens. "And yet he goes on… I want to protect him."

Castiel's deep blue eyes narrow. "Forcing your will on him isn't what will protect him," he points out.

The fingers pinning Dean's hands loosen.

Baby's weight shifts away and Dean sits upright, coughing a little and rubbing the bruise on his head. A sorrowful murmur, "…No one else knows him like me. Not even his brother."

"That is enough," the angel says, curtly. "Dean, I have the reversal spell Sam contacted me about."

Dean lifts up a hand. "One minute, Cas," and he's half-amused to see a human tic resembling an eyeshrug as the response.

"… …You make the call."

Steely gray stare at him in astonishment, as Dean adds in all seriousness, "You've already had your first taste of shitty coffee… you might as well be given a choice if you want another opportunity."

"Dean, it's not possible. His corporeal form will deteriorate—"

He growls at the quiet and probably truthful protest from the background, "Cas…"

A laugh reverberates into the Chicago night. Baby's grin widens on his scruffy, age-thin cheeks. "I'll give you the same answer I gave your father when he asked me." Dean's mouth slides along spit-wet lips roaming his, automatic in slotting their mouths in a more comfortable position. But his hands clench on the black leather jacket of the older man.

"I wouldn't change anything," Baby admits, genuinely, and Castiel finishes reciting the syllables of the chant.

-x-

.

"Well, I'll be a son of a bitch…"

John sounds more contemplative than pissed off or relieved about his proposal being rejected, wiping his contact-reddened lips tasting lightly of engine oil.

"There might actually be a soul in ya, boy."

.

-x-

The drive back to Bobby's isn't going to be a short one. But at least there is transport again. Castiel settles in the backseat of the Impala. He hasn't stopped glaring and frowning at the back of Dean's head since they left Illinois. Dean kinda just lets him and dials for Sam over speaker phone. "We've got it all figured out. Murdering witches ganked. I'm bringing back a thing of beer."

"Since Dean is a jerk and probably hasn't said it yet… thank you for helping out, Cas," Sam calls out, knowingly. Dean mutters 'bitch' under his breath, gripping onto the steering wheel and making a sour face.

Castiel informs the cell phone, "Dean allowed the vehicle make the decision."

"He deserved it." Dean pats the leather upholstery, smirking. "Didnja, gir—er, boy?"

"And then you allowed it to accost you."

Dean glances over his shoulder with a 'shut-up-right-now' look and fakes a chuckle. "Cas doesn't know what he's talking about, Sammy."

The angel's frown hardens – all his disapproval still apparent. He leans up from his seat, grumbling into Dean's cell, "I believe humans would refer the vulgar term as to 'sucking face'."

Sam makes a choked noise on the other line. "You MADE OUT with your car—?—!"

"Hey, hey," Dean barks, scowling in the darkness of the car when Sam bursts out laughing, "He kissed ME, ME— I was an innocent victim here!"

Castiel deadpans, "You did not scorn him for it."

"You mind shutting your cakehole back there?"

Sam butts in, gleefully, "Cas, are you… jealous?"

To Dean's mounting dread (and, jesus christ on a bicycle – there's actually a part of him impressed that an angel has the hots for him), Castiel makes a not so convincing huff of disbelief.

"Of course not," he ponders this. Sam's new round of laughter cuts off with Dean flipping the cell phone shut, fuming.

Sam better damn well prepare his bedroom door for stealth pranking invasion tonight. He's so screwed.

-x-

END

-x-


Credit and dedicated to Vladbride who collaborated with me on the fic concept, and who always wanted to see Dean get felt up by the Impala. Comments are so very appreciated~.