Dean Winchester finds his brother Sam (while the most important person in the world to him and someone he'd easily drop everything and everyone to save in a split second) the whiniest, sassiest pain in the ass he has ever handled in his whole fucked up life. Which may not be saying much, because he hasn't talked to all that many people (just maybe a few chicks to pick them up, and his dad, and a few people he can call friends or acquaintances or whatever), but it's saying enough, because Christ, Sam's fucking annoying.
Dealing with the puppy-eyed shithead that is sometimes Sam for basically his entire life has taught Dean a couple of things for survival. Stress points, and signs of bitch fit, mainly. Back before Sam hit puberty (and seriously, a few times afterwards, too- Dean can't stress enough what a bitch his baby brother can be), he was eternally patient, sweet, and mild-mannered until suddenly, he was a fucking hurricane of bitch-face and smart mouth. And Dean doesn't like it for a second. So Dean's learned to recognize Sammy's signs of disaster, and usually he can divert the storm enough to catch a nap or get enough alcohol in their systems that the issue fixes itself.
Dean senses a storm coming, so he pulls along the curb outside their motel, engages the parking brake, and quirks an eyebrow cockily from the driver's seat at Sam, waiting for him to speak. Sam pinches his mouth into a flat line and draws his eyebrows together. Dean rolls his eyes and glances into the rearview mirror to find a fairly rumpled Cas sitting in the backseat, frowning at the two of them worriedly.
"I sense tension." He speaks in his own tone of concern, making Dean smile at the creases lining his brows and the tilt of his head. He wants to reach out a hand and ruffle Cas's hair and straighten his tie, but that's just fucking weird, so he doesn't.
"You're not alone in that, buddy," he says finally, staring pointedly at his brother, who is sitting, unmoving, expression dark like a storm cloud that someone's pissed on. That whole train of thought would probably offend Sam greatly, he thinks. Although everything seems to be offending Sam right now from the way he's glaring at everything in the car. "What's with the stick up your ass?"
"Cas, will you excuse us?" Sam grits out with his weird pinched face, and Dean resists the urge to sigh loudly. Cas glances sideways towards the window and peers at the buckets of rain pouring from the sky before glancing back at Sam. Nodding at Dean, the angel unbuckles his seatbelt and slips out of the car, murmuring that he'll meet them inside.
"Alright, what's wrong, Umbridge? Too few kittens in the world today?"
"Dean." Sam sighs deeply, staring dramatically out the window. Dean watches unsurely as his brother starts his own one man show. "You've got to stop pretending."
That... is unexpected. Sam turns his puppy eyes to Dean, and Dean's smarmy reply sticks in his throat.
When Sam is sleeping, sometimes, Dean and Cas watch him. It's creepy and weird, but also somehow comforting. Because Sam is safe and warm and drooling like a freaking baby, and Cas is safe and warm and content next to him.
Sometimes Dean pretends that they can stay like this. The three of them, touring the country and being exactly like this. Weird friends and brothers and... when he looks at Castiel, he's not sure what to categorize them as.
When Castiel looks back at him, he doesn't much care, as long as Cas is with him despite the lack of labels.
Sam gets to the point eventually, to Dean's surprise (and god, he sounds like a freaking greeting card and Dean doesn't know if he should laugh or what). He kind of wishes Sam hadn't, because it's the stupidest thing he's ever heard in his life. And Dean's heard far stupider things than he's met annoying people. Sam's setting all kinds of records here.
"Uh, no. Pretty sure I don't," Dean flashes a crooked smile, nodding to reinforce his point because Sam's probably lost it, he thinks. The job's become too much for him and he's just completely psycho now. Dean doesn't know how much mental hospital bills cost, but he figures it'll be expensive and annoying. Maybe he'll pick up Sam's poker-hustling tricks. Can't be that hard to trick some dumbass or other out of his hard-earned money. Not even that much.
Cas tries, eventually, to venture into one of their "dens of iniquity." He tries to get a hooker (failure there- he's about as gay as they come, and Dean wonders how he didn't notice thatbefore), and he tries to drink (he's surprisingly good at that- he has about twice as much as Dean and he still ends up carrying the elder Winchester home. To this day he refuses to tell Dean what happened after he passed out). He even tries to play cards with them, but Cas is just so open and honest that he's an easy target for everybody. His eyes are always wide with compassion or confusion or some freaking adorable emotion that makes him look even more of a lost puppy than Sam half the time.
It drives Dean up the wall- but he's not completely sure whether it's Cas's unguarded emotions or his own reactions to them that piss him off the most.
Sam is being patient, smiling widely with even wider eyes that make him look fairly psychotic. Dean shouldn't be surprised, he supposes. Sam is usually patient when it comes to things Dean is very obviously clueless about. And he always seems a pretty specific brand of lunatic to Dean anyways. So that's nothing new.
Sam is losing patience. Dean is still not surprised. Sam tends to do that when he is so very obviously wrong about things.
"Look, it's not going to ruin your freaking...macho vibe or whatever to admit you've got it bad for Cas, okay? I mean, all it's gonna do is make our lives like a million times easier."
Dean opens his mouth, but Sam cuts him off. "Dean. I know you're happy, alright? I also know you can be happier. And it's not gonna put anybody in any more danger than we're already in, so why don't you let yourself get this shot at it?"
"I... what? I don't have the hots for Cas! Sam, that's so-" Dean stops, uncertain of his next words. Not gross. Of course it's not gross. Having the hots for Castiel isn't gross. It's fairly understandable, with his puppy eyes and his sad face and his tiny frame. Having feelings for Cas is... weird? Yeah, weird's the right word here, he thinks. It's pretty neutral. Neutral and pointed and everything. "And besides, I'm straight."
Sam snorts and Dean rolls his eyes because of course Sam wouldn't forget all his drunken experimenting and confusion. Sam's probably written a fucking thirty page dissertation on Dean's sexuality and hidden it away on his computer somewhere because he's a nerd like that. "Dude, come on," he says, and Dean grimaces.
"Okay, I just... I don't... Dude, I'm going to say something very carefully, and you're going to listen, alright?" Dean says, nodding again with finality (and he wonders for a second why it's so important that he convinces Sam of this, and then he wonders for another if maybe he's trying to convince himself, too, and then he tells himself to shut the hell up because he's becoming just as crazy as his brother). "Regardless of sexuality and whatever, you need to understand that there is nothing going on between me and Cas, alright? Like, there is no emotional connection happening here between us. We're just two dudes."
"Dean," Cas nods, gaze fixed to the sky, and Dean must've swallowed a bit weirdly because he thinks he's about to choke or cough or something. He clears his throat and swings his arms and he's alright again, wandering towards the angel with a beer in his hand.
"What's up?" He asks.
"Not me," Castiel says grimly, and Dean smiles.
"That was almost a joke," he smirks quietly, and Castiel turns his big sad blue eyes to him and smiles a little bit, too.
"I'm beginning to think everything is a joke, Dean."
"Oh, hey, don't-" He shakes his head dismissively. "We'll figure it out. You'll be back and flying around like a bat in no time. We'll call in wing repair or something."
"The problem isn't in my wings," Cas murmurs. "It's in my will."
"You don't want to go home?"
"I do." Sensing Dean's confusion, he continues. "For the most part." He sighs deeply. "Mostlyisn't enough, Dean."
"So what's holding you back?" he asks, and Cas merely smiles.
Dean doesn't understand why Cas can't just pool up all his angel juice and wish really hard on an eyelash or some dumb superstition like that, but he pretends to get it. Either way, he moves closer and watches from inches away as Castiel tilts his head up again and frowns at the stars like he's waiting for answers nobody's willing to give.
Dean's pretty sure he understands that well enough.
"Really?" Sam asks, pulling Dean out of his thoughts. "Because the tension between the two of you is driving me up a freaking wall, Dean. You stare each other down all the time. You've got, like, no concept of personal space, and then even when he's not around, I bring him up and you get that stupid expression on your face."
"We do not- I still don't-"
"You've already admitted it when you were drunk, Dean. A lot. What's it gonna take for you to admit it sober?"
"What? You know what, man? Whatever. If I did, I was drunk." Dean throws his hands up. "That's the whole point." Why is his brother soannoying?
"Doesn't stop you from looking like you've hidden the last cookie for yourself when you hear Cas's name. Sober or not."
Dean frowns at his (almost certainly) mentally unstable brother, who nods towards the mirror.
Dean looks. "I don't see anything, dude."
"Because you changed your expression before you looked!"
"No I- no I didn't!"
"Yes, you did!"
"Castiel! Ah! See! Look!" Sam beckons triumphantly at the mirror, and Dean takes a look at his face and considers that it might look just a tiny bit softer than usual (really, what does Sam expect, a stony expression for his puppy of a best friend?) before looking weirdly at his brother.
"Are you alright, man? You seem really... fucking bizarre."
"Dean-!" Sam sighs heavily before leaning his head back against the seat. "Dean, do you know why Cas is stuck here?"
Dean pauses. "Yes."
"He can't leave until he fully wills himself to go. Which means he's got a reason for sticking around."
"Thanks for that Sam. I can always count on you to help me remember things I already remember."
"Put it together, then," Sam says irritatedly, swinging his legs out the door and into the storm outside. "Find your way out of the maze. I'm bored of watching you knock your head against the wall." He shuts the door and leans his head in the window. "Parking's down the road."
"Bitch," Dean mutters, and Sam flashes him a dimpled smile before lugging their duffel bag to Castiel, who, judging by his tiny wilting silhouette, has forgotten how to open a freaking door.
Which is just so typical.
One night, when Sam is asleep and Dean jerks awake from the nightmares he's pretending he no longer has, Dean sees an angel watching over him. Brows knitting in concern, Cas reaches out a hand and rests it on Dean's shoulder.
Dean, too tired to complain, leans his head against Cas's forearm, breathing deeply. Inhaling the smell of rain and summer and (for some odd, inexplicable reason) chocolate chip cookies, he smiles haltingly.
Cas returns his smile with a nervous one of his own.
"Dude, have you been baking?" Dean asks tiredly, because he should. If Cas, who can hardly walk a step out of a car without tripping over his own feet, is cooking food, Dean's gonna need to avert some serious crisis, and fast. Actually, had this been Sammy, Dean would already be on red alert, jumping out of bed to get a fire extinguisher, or a bucket of water, or something. But Cas is warm and soft and comfortable, so Dean lets his eyes slip shut at what he can only assume is Cas's what the fuck expression.
"I have never once baked," Castiel returns in his usual stiff manner, but it's laced with a sweetness Dean hasn't heard in what feels like lifetimes, and coupled with Cas's tentative hand to his forehead, he's never felt so... well. He can't even name it. It's wonderful and fresh and so much like home that he wants to smile and sit up and something just as much as he wants to let it wrap around him. It strokes his hair with Castiel's gentle hand, and he sighs, turning his face toward's Castiel's arm, and maybe, justmaybe (he's not a hundred percent sure because he feels like he's floating or flying or something) he presses a light kiss to the angel's skin before drifting off into a sleep without nightmares.
"Me neither," he thinks he might have said before he drifted off. "Maybe we can sometime together."
He's not a hundred percent sure.
He hopes, though.
Dean eventually finds parking and pulls into a spot haphazardly, pulling his jacket over his head as he hurries to the motel.
Weather, he thinks, is the biggest bitch of all. No motive or anything. Just out to piss him off and ruin his day.
Of course, Sam probably loves it. Dude's practically a girl. He'd probably talk about how it's supposed to be romantic and all the beautiful ideas behind it- each one enough reason to revoke his man-card, Dean thinks.
If Dean's perfectly honest, although he's usually not, he sees what Sam means.
But he'd never ever admit that.
"Damn snow," Dean mutters, whacking the steering wheel with his hands as Sam pointedly plugs in his iPod earphones.
"I don't know," Castiel says unaffectedly. "I enjoy this weather."
"Great. Why don't you drive, then?" Cas looks alarmed, so Dean rolls his eyes. "Sarcasm."
There's silence, and Dean exclaims something profane about the snow again. Castiel speaks up. "You dislike the snow because it makes driving difficult for you? Because it is stubborn and refuses to move for those who ask it to?" Dean turns his head to find Cas inclining his head and smiling wryly at him, as if he's meant to see some sort of irony there. He doesn't bother informing Cas that he's probably too stupid for his twisted angel bullshit. "I admire it for the same reason."
Cas looks away, unconcerned, and Dean stares at him for a few more seconds before turning back to the road, face red.
The rain stares him down, so he finally glares up at it and lets himself put down his jacket.
"Alright, fine! Fuck you! You win!" he shouts at it. "Are you happy? I'm soaking wet now!"
Shaking his head, he watches droplets fly from his hair and into the air. He's completely wet, and it's strangely refreshing. He's so screwed, it doesn't matter how much water gets on him now. It's been a long time since the damage is done has ended so simply and without consequence.
It's just great, actually. He's acting just as girly as his brother.
Or maybe not. Shit, he doesn't know. All he needs to know is he's absolutely soaked, and that for some weird reason, it's fucking awesome.
Castiel stares at him as Sam sleeps. Dean stares right back, and pulls down a corner of the comforter.
Damn it all to hell. Who cares, anyways? He's already been there once.
As Cas hesitates, he thinks hell might hold a new meaning for him now.
As Cas smiles in his own slight, enigmatic way and joins him, he thinks there are a lot of words he's redefined without realizing it.
"Dean." Castiel looks puzzled in the way that most people wouldn't at seeing a grown man spinning in circles in the pouring rain. Amused and gentle and understanding.
"Cas." Dean says right back. "Dude, this is freaking awesome. Come here."
"You're soaked." Cas inclines his head into the universal angle of you're crazy.
"Yeah," he replies, quirking an eyebrow like that's the whole point. And it is, maybe, so he tries Castiel's I'm telling you something meaningful so try not to fuck it up look on for size and finishes it off with a wide smile. "I'm totally screwed."
Dean's sure that it must've worked, because suddenly he's got an armful of warm angel in his arms and their lips are pressed together in a lazy, gorgeous kiss filled with the smell of cookies and rain and summer and the sound of rain pouring on the concrete around them and the feeling of sleep without nightmares.
Sam whoops loudly from a window to their right. Dean keeps a hand on Castiel's face and flips Sam off with the other.