A/N: This is an over-long comment fic written for mangacrack over on livejournal. It's also the first time I've managed to write something rated higher than PG-13. Is it wrong that I'm really proud of that?
Hope you enjoy!
When Castiel realizes where they are, his first frantic instinct is to protect Dean. He knows what it must look like when he disappears, but there's no time to waste on soothing explanations. They need shelter now if they're going to make it through the night.
He finds a cave that's not to far away from where he'd left Dean. It's small and damp, lichen hanging in long strands from the entrance, and brackish water running down the rock face at the far end, but it's empty of monsters, and it looks as defensible as it's going to get.
Dean is where left him, standing between the trees. At the sound of Castiel's wings, he turns, fists raised, his body settled into a fighting stance. His face is bloodless, lips drawn tight. Castiel's not used to seeing Dean scared. He doesn't like it.
"What the Hell, Cas?"
Castiel closes the distance between them and grabs Dean's arm, feeling muscles tense underneath his fingers. "I found us shelter," he says, though it's not nearly enough. "We have to go."
He tugs, and they're gone, landing hard outside the cave a fraction of a second later. Dean hits the ground swearing.
"Jesus, Cas," Dean grumbles after he's calmed down, "warn me next time."
Sorry, Castiel starts to say, but then he remembers Dean's reaction last time he'd tried to apologize, and he just nods instead.
Dean shrugs and tromps into the cave. Castiel trails behind him, keeping his distance. It's difficult, has been difficult, ever since Dean's first half-frustrated, half-bewildered lectures on personal space. Still, distance is something that it looks like Dean needs right now, and if nothing else, Castiel can give him that.
They end up on opposite sides of the cave, their backs against the damp earth and stone of the walls. Dean's still muttering, a barely audible jumble of curses and blasphemies, but it seems more aimed at their situation than at Castiel. Still, he wishes Dean would stop.
After a few minutes, he does, voice trailing off into silence, and it's just the two of them, the dark cave, and the distant howling of monsters. It's clearer, when Dean's not talking, that Castiel's not the same as he was before they were thrown in here. Maybe it's some side-effect of being in Purgatory, of another dimension stripping away all the walls and defenses he'd built up back on Earth, but he feels different here, like his old self. Somehow, that just makes the distance between him and Dean more painful. It was easier to ignore before, when his fight with Sam's hallucinations had taken his sanity. Now, everything's sharper, brighter, cuts him deeper. Dean had wanted him to 'get better,' and now he is, but it still feels like he's falling.
Maybe an hour passes, and Dean's still quiet. It doesn't suit him, and Castiel almost prefers he'd shout again, that he'd yell, and rage, and tell Castiel it's all his fault. It would be better than this void between them.
Finally, he has to say something. "I'm sure Sam is fine," Castiel says carefully. He's fairly certain that's what Dean is thinking of. For all his uniqueness, he can be amazingly predictable. "And he won't be alone for long. We'll find a way out."
Dean snorts. "Yeah, if Crowley or the Leviathans don't kill him. Best case scenario, he's working with Meg. Do you remember the last time I died and left him alone with a demon chick?"
"Sam has changed," Castiel says, "I don't think he'll take the same path as he did when you where in Hell."
Dean just snorts again, and the feeble attempt at conversation curls up and dies.
The silence hasn't improved. Castiel lets it flow over him, focusing the sounds around them, trying to get a picture of the world around them; it doesn't take him long to realize that it doesn't look good.
Dean stirs, jarring Castiel back to the cave. Dean sighs, loud in the darkness, and swings around so he's setting next to Castiel, his shoulder a line of warmth against Castiel's.
"It's not that I don't trust Sam," Dean says, "I'm just worried, you know?"
Castiel does know. He understands far better than Dean will probably ever understand, but most of his concern is all focused on the incredible, fragile, human man next to him.
"Cas—" Dean starts, then stops, swallows.
It's not much of an opening, but it's as much as Castiel's going to get. He half-turns to face Dean, one hand coming up to rest on Dean's bicep, where he almost feel the echo of his handprint, the other cupping Dean's jaw, then sliding back, fingers running through his short hair.
Dean leans forward into his touch, which is probably the only thing that keeps Castiel from losing his nerve. He leans for ward too, until there's no space left between them, and he can feel Dean's breath on his skin. Dean's lips are soft beneath his, with a rough scratch of stubble.
For a second, Dean doesn't react, and Castiel has the sudden fear that this was exactly the wrong thing to do, that he's ruined everything that that he's tried to rebuild with Dean. Then Dean moans into Castiel's mouth, pushing back against him in a long press of tongue and teeth. Dean's hands slide up Castiel's chest, pushing his trench coat farther off his shoulders with each slow press, and Castiel lets the hand not in Dean's hair slip down, running over the hard planes of Dean's back.
Then Dean's breaking away from the kiss, gasping like he's been drowning, and even in the darkness, Castiel can see that Dean's pupils are blown wide and black, his lips swollen pink and still half-open. Dean wears the look well.
"Cas," Dean says again, but this time he sounds wrecked, his voice a hoarse rumble that goes straight to Castiel's groin. "I—" He hesitates, and Castiel's apprehension comes back, worse than before. Then Dean sighs. "Ah, fuck it." His fingers twist in Castiel's hair, pulling him close again, and Castiel melts into it.
There's an edge of desperation to it after that. Dean's jacket and shirt are the first to go, then Castiel's coat, abandoned on the ground before Castiel's brain has quite caught up with what his body's doing. It's all a needy press of skin that's unlike anything he's felt before. He's never felt this human, not even during the dark days when he'd been slowly Falling, his Grace slipping away. Castiel would be lying if he said he'd never imagined having this with Dean, but there's a difference between fantasy and the actuality of Dean's mouth on his skin, Dean pressing into him, warm and heavy and real.
Afterwards they lie in a tangle of limbs on their abandoned clothes, the night air cold against Castiel's skin. Dean shivers, and Castiel pulls him closer. They should probably get dressed, but even with the chill there's a kind of quiet peace that Castiel doesn't want to break.
"Hey, Cas?" Dean sounds half-asleep, calmer than Castiel's heard in far too long. "You do know I trust you, right?"
"I'm mean, it hasn't been easy. You've put us through a Hell of a lot of crap, and I don't think I can ever really forgive you for what you did to Sam, but you really came through for us back there, and that ought to be worth something, shouldn't' it?"
Dean's not finished though. "I do trust you though, Cas, as much as I ever have."
"I understand," Castiel says, and it feels like A Moment. It's kind of nice.
Dean laughs softly, arching his back against Castiel, then gives a pained grunt. "Dude, is that you knee in my kidney? Move it."
They go quiet after that, Castiel listening as Dean's breath evens out into sleep. This time, the silence isn't as hard to bear.