Okay so I know that I have some unfinished fics and shouldn't be working on something new *hides*. Rest assured that the final chapter of my Sherlock fic 'The Resurrection' is still on it's way (and I'm so sorry that it's taken so long). I'm also hoping to work on 'Handchuffed', my Big Bang Theory one, plus a new Supernatural purgatory fic that I've started. I'm re-watching season six of Supernatural right now and just needed to get this out of my head. Something like this could have saved SO much grief :(

"Cas, I know you can hear me. Can you come down here for a minute? Please?"

Dean sits on the edge of yet another dodgy hotel bed, experiencing the usual sensation that he's talking to himself, and feeling a little silly for it. He fully expects the angel ignore him again, but he can't quite kick the annoying thorn-in-his-side feeling that he isn't okay with how things have been between them lately, so he figures that it's worth a shot. Besides, he's already had a couple of drinks, so the idea seems better by the minute. He's slightly taken aback when he hears the familiar rustle of wings behind him, and stands without turning around, taking another gulp from the glass of whiskey in his hand.

"What is it, Dean?" Cas asks in his usual low intonation.

He sounds tired, Dean notes without much surprise. But whether he is physically tired or otherwise crushed from the pressure of the war Dean isn't sure. Either way, when Dean turns around and takes in the angel's appearance, it certainly looks as though he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. Dean knows the feeling well.

"Nothing much. I just wanted to talk to you..."

He trails off at the stare Castiel is shooting at him, and can't help but swallow at the power radiating from it.

"Just for a minute," he adds quickly, picking up the whiskey bottle and shaking it slightly. "Drink?"

Castiel's expression downgrades from thunderous to mildly irritated.

"No. Dean, what is it that you need my help with? I don't have time for this."

Dean struggles not to wince at the harshness of his dismissive tone and tries to remember that his friend is in there somewhere, buried under layers of obligation and responsibility, hurt and resentment at having to do so many things he doesn't want to do.

"I don't need help with anything. I thought maybe I could help you."

Castiel's expression softens significantly at his words, and for a moment Dean sees the old Cas— the one who rebelled from Heaven to fight by his side, who laughed with him outside a brothel, who threw holy water at an Archangel after calling him an ass-butt.

"What could you help me with?" Castiel asks, but the words aren't cynical, just curious.

Dean shrugs, sipping his drink.

"I dunno, getting away from it all for a few minutes."

He gestures pointlessly at the sad room and Castiel regards him with an almost pitying expression, one that says Dean has absolutely no idea what things are like for Castiel right now. He doesn't, Dean suddenly acknowledges with uncomfortable clarity.

"What's it like up there at the moment, Cas?" he asks quietly.

Castiel sighs, dropping into a seat on the edge of the nearest bed, shoulders sagging. He runs his hand through his hair in a gesture so fragile and human that Dean is struck with the sudden unfathomable urge to hug him.

"It's destruction and chaos at it's absolute worst. Picture a rebellious child having a temper tantrum...then multiply it by a few hundred thousand and give those children unimaginable celestial power, which they're choosing to aim solely at one another, and you have something approaching the current situation." He pauses, his expression dark. "I should be getting back," he finishes miserably.

"Stay," Dean insists gently. "Just for a few minutes."

Something within Castiel seems to cave; he sighs deeply and turns to Dean with grateful eyes.

"Okay," he agrees hesitantly. "And I think I will take that drink."

"That's the spirit," Dean exclaims with a grin, fetching a second glass.

He sits back down next to Castiel, pours them both a generous measure of the amber liquid, and they sit in companionable silence for a few moments. Castiel takes another deep breath, and for a second he looks so wretched and desperate that Dean can't help reaching over and placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. He half expects the angel to flinch, unfamiliar as he is with human contact, but he senses Castiel relax under his palm. Taking this as a good sign, he moves his hand further across Castiel's shoulders and weaves smoothly under the layers of clothing to rub the back of his neck. Castiel practically melts into the touch, letting out a small noise that sounds suspiciously like a whimper, and Dean chuckles.

"Never had a neck rub before, hey Cas?" he asks, already knowing the answer.

"No. But it feels...quite pleasant," Castiel replies in a liquid rumble of a voice. He sounds more content than Dean has heard him in more months than he can count.

"You're so tense," he says, applying a bit more pressure to the tortured muscles.

Castiel doesn't reply, eyelids fluttering closed, lost in the sensation of Dean's ministrations.

"Is there anything I can do to help?" he hears Dean ask.

His voice is so gentle and sincere that it gives Castiel pause, eyes reluctantly opening to consider the man beside him.

"I'm afraid not. But I do appreciate the offer."

Dean stops his gentle kneading and it's all Castiel can do not to moan with disappointment.

"We're friends right? Friends help each other out," Dean declares, giving Castiel's shoulder a firm squeeze before removing his hand. Castiel watches with a frown as Dean refills their glasses.

"I'm sorry that I'm not here helping you and Sam. Believe me when I say that this is where I would much rather be."

He holds his breath for a moment, wondering if he's said too much, but Dean just smiles and gives Castiel's back an encouraging pat.

"So do it. Quit."

Castiel sighs again but can't begrudge Dean's way of reducing the most complex problems to the simplest, bluntest solutions. He leans forward and buries his face in his hands. Dean finds himself momentarily thrown by the vulnerability of the gesture, torn between feeling uncomfortable and feeling honoured that the angel once again feels safe enough around him to let his guard down.

"I can't just quit, Dean. They're my family and at the moment I'm the only one maintaining some semblance of order. If I leave...it will be a bloodbath, so to speak."

Dean mentally shudders at the imagery his words conjure up as Castiel forces himself to his feet. He can't get too comfortable here. It will make him weak, and he knows enough about his siblings to know that they will pick up on any vulnerability and use it against him.

"Well don't be a stranger, you hear?" Dean tells him sternly, looking Castiel in the eye. "And if there's anything I can do, you let me know."

Castiel looks at Dean, head slightly tilted, and for a second Dean wonders if Castiel is going to hug him. But he remains where he is, stance weary but solid.

"Thank you. You have no idea how much it means to me to have your support."

And yeah, his people skills may be rusty, but the words come to him so easily that it's almost like he never left.

"You're welcome," Dean replies in a tone that is so much softer than Castiel is used to hearing.

He pauses for a moment, and Castiel can sense that there's more he wants to say. He hesitates, unsure of whether or not he should stay, and studies the shabby motel carpet. When he looks up again, Dean is close...far too close.

"And Cas?"

"Yes, Dean?" Castiel replies distractedly, his focus shot to hell by the hunter's close proximity.

He briefly wonders how anyone—human or otherwise—can have this kind of effect on him after so many years of existence. But before he can provide himself with any answers, Dean's hands are at his neck, straightening the collar which is more rumpled than usual as a result of the brief massage.

"Be careful up there, okay?"

Castiel watches him closely as Dean adjusts his tie. He's so close that Castiel can count the freckles on his nose, not that he needs to—he remade Dean himself and knows the exact number already—and can see every eyelash hooding the expressive green eyes. They're so often cold and guarded that Castiel treasures these rare moments when the hunter allows him a glimpse of his true self and the damaged, beautiful soul within. Castiel wants to reach out and claim it, touch every tiny freckle and feel the human warmth of another being who is actually on his side, who actually cares. He dreads returning to his home and the horrific battle that reins there, yet somehow he feels lighter, refreshed, more able to cope. Finally he finds his voice.

"I will. Thank you, Dean. You've helped me more than you will ever know."

"Good." Dean gives his shoulder an affectionate slap. "Go get 'em, tiger."

Castiel manages a smile, wishing he could just lose himself in those eyes and the comfort he knows they can provide. Instead he straightens up, his rigid form every inch the celestial soldier once more. Then with a powerful beat of his wings Castiel is gone, leaving nothing in his wake but a rustle and the residual haunt of his grace. Dean sighs and drains his glass. They may be fighting different wars, but maybe Castiel isn't lost to him after all.