A/N:Okay, I sort of had 'Set Down Your Glass' by Snow Patrol and 'Gravity' by Sara Bareilles on repeat while writing most of this. So, if you want to set the mood, jump over to youtube and give them a listen. Not mandatory by any means, but just in case you want to!
Dean leans Cas against the sink and reaches around behind him to get the washcloth wet. The way the blood drips from Castiel's nose to his mouth reminds Dean of all the times Cas has gotten hurt because of him, for him, and so when Cas quietly says, "I can handle it myself, Dean," Dean snaps at him. "Just let me do it, all right?"
And Cas doesn't nod or give any sign that he heard. He just closes his mouth and continues to stare up at Dean like he saved his life or something, when all he's doing is wiping away blood. He gently dabs at the gash on his hairline, and wipes the blood that runs down his cheek. Dean pushes his hair back and leans in to take a closer look at the gash and Castiel's eyes flutter close, but open again when Dean speaks.
"I don't think you'll need stitches," he says as he moves the rag to dab at the dried blood running from his nose to his upper lip. "What?" he finally asks Cas.
"You don't have to hide things from me, Dean."
Dean meets the familiar gaze with a pointedly unamused stare, despite the way his stomach flipped. "What am I hiding?"
"I told you before that I see inside you. Your grief, your sadness, guilt. "
"I know, Freud," he says, purposely rinsing out the rag as an excuse to look away.
"Without them you would not be the Dean I –," Cas stops and Dean's not sure how that sentence is supposed to end; he's know sure he wants to know. "You would not be Dean," Cas rewords himself and belatedly adds, "Who is Freud?"
Dean meets his gaze again and this is the point where Dean would say something snarky, except he's kind of speechless, and it's not really the first time it has happened around Cas. So Dean has to look away again. Except now he's stuck looking at his lips and he's not sure if that's better or worse. "Just shut up," he mumbles as he begins dabbing the area above his mouth again. It's quiet after that and all Dean can hear is Castiel's steady breathing and the drip of the faucet.
When he moves the cloth to Castiel's lips, they part for him, and fuck, Cas is still watching him intently and he can hear his heart pounding in his chest. Dean involuntarily takes a step closer and gently rubs the cloth over Cas' split lip. The air in the room thickens and Dean's hand that holds the cloth suddenly becomes heavy. His eyes flutter back up to Cas' eyes, and he doesn't remove them as he sets the cloth back on the countertop and returns his hand to Castiel's face. His thumb rests on Cas' lips and his fingers curve along his jaw, and god has he waited so long for an excuse to touch those lips. It's new and terrifying, but imagining the feel of them in no way compares to standing here actually feeling them while caught in those blue, blue eyes. His thumb brushes Cas' bottom lip slowly from the outer corner to the fullest part, and Castiel's breath quickens against Dean's thumb as his eyes drop to Dean's lips. The familiarity of the gaze almost surprises Dean, because usually Dean is the one to break eye contact by glancing at Cas' lips; Cas goes more for staring right into Dean's soul.
Dean has long lost control of the rhythm of his heart and he is so, so fucked because only Cas. After he has lost everything, after everything has gone to shit and he can't afford to feel anything anymore, only Cas could make him do just that. His thumb has stopped moving and he begins to brush it downward, pulling Cas' lip out slightly, and then he's leaning forward and Cas doesn't move except to accept Dean's lips against his own. Lips that Dean realizes feel a million times better against his own than against his fingers. Dean can't help but think how perfectly he conforms to Cas and Castiel can't think anything other than Dean. Dean. Dean.
Cas opens his mouth to deepen the kiss, and even though he doesn't have his grace anymore, Dean swears that is what is spreading slowly throughout his muscles and veins to fill the hollowness. It's warm; comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time, as with anything regarding to Cas. Dean pulls himself away and swallows thickly. The warmth stops spreading, but it holds.
He pulls Cas out of the bright fluorescent lights and into the dim main room, and Dean slides his hands underneath his coat at the shoulders to take it off, but stops in a silent question. Cas breaks eye contact to look down at Jimmy's coat, like he just now realizes it is bloody and torn. He nods imperceptibly and Dean pulls it off slowly and carefully, like it is a treasured part of Cas, which, he guesses it kind of is, and Cas watches as Dean sets it carefully on the chair and then returns his eyes to Dean.
"You okay?" Dean asks nervously, noticing a slight anxiety in Castiel's eyes that wasn't there before. Dean knows that a coat is so much more than a coat.
"Yes," he responds, so Dean continues, taking off Cas' suit jacket in the same manner. Dean takes a step closer and his hands only just close around the tie when Cas lifts his fingers to Dean's lips as Dean had done to his. He traces Dean's bottom lip with his thumb, feeling Dean let out a shaky breath against it, and then he leans forward and starts kissing him again. For all the practice he has had, Dean should be able to continue undressing Cas while kissing him slowly, but Dean can hardly think clearly, let alone control his fingers, so he just stands there as his lips and tongue melt into Castiel's.
Their lips break and Cas breathes out, "Dean," while Dean loosens his tie and sets it with the growing pile of clothes, moving onto unbuttoning Cas' shirt. Cas watches his fingers until the last button is undone and when Dean fumbles for Cas' pants button, he stops Dean to unbutton Dean's shirt and pull it off.
Dean's t-shirt is the next to come off and Cas stares sadly at the large bruise beginning to form on Dean's ribs.
"I can't heal you…" he says as he touches it gently.
"I know. It's not that bad. I've had worse."
"I should be able to."
"Cas, stop. I'll be fine."
The remaining clothes come off eventually but not without continued interruptions of one of them leaning forward to capture other other's lips in a moment of impatience. Here at the end of the world, the slowness of their actions should be especially infuriating, but somehow it's not because what is time to a former angel and a broken man who spent 30 years in hell; especially when they have taken their time over the past four years becoming best friends and falling in love with each other.
For Dean, the slowness is a reassurance that Cas is really here; that this is really happening. After all, good things never happen in his experience, and if this is a good thing, then it might go by too quickly and disappear.
For Cas, the slowness is measured appreciation of Dean, his Dean; appreciation he no longer has to do from a distance. It's amazing that something as simple as associating touch with his feelings toward Dean makes him feel like Castiel again, and maybe this is the closest he will ever feel to being an angel again. His brothers and sisters had always warned him not to fly too close to the sun, but how could he not when that sun is Dean Winchester. And how could he even pretend that he is only flying close when instead he is flying straight into it.
When they fall on the bed in a tangle of limbs, Cas places his hand firmly on the handprint on Dean's, and there is another burst of warmth that spreads even more quickly through his veins. Dean swallows a noise that reveals how vulnerable he feels from Cas' touch and gaze.
"Cas, are we just doing this because…I dunno, it was meant to happen or something?" Dean asks uncertainly.
Cas'grip tightens and his eyes harden. "Even if the bond was meant to happen, does not mean it would have. You constantly defy fate. We are here, in this moment, because you defied your destiny." Dean has a flashback of Castiel's fingers grazing his as he hands him Ruby's knife. "Do not insult me, or yourself, to suggest –"
"Alright, alright Cas. I wasn't thinking,"
"You were thinking, that's the problem," Cas says, and he kisses Dean again, more urgently and this time Dean doesn't hold back the same noise though it's muffled by Castiel's mouth. Dean grabs Castiel's hips with his thumbs rough on his hipbones, and Dean grinds against him, which yields an unholy groan from the back of Castiel's throat. Dean feels himself harden even more and lets out a groan of his own out into Cas' neck as Cas throws his own hips into Dean's.
"Dean, look at me," Cas says gravelly and out of breath, and Dean meets his eyes, his stomach flipping and the back of his throat burning. Cas looking down at him like he actually means something, with the accompanying steady movement and pressure, with the intimacy as a whole, might have made him fall apart if Cas was not here holding him together. Everything is contradictory and Dean doesn't understand, so he grabs Cas' hair and kisses him again because that is all he can do.
He can't remember a time when he was so consumed by someone during sex; Cas manages to touch him in all the right places with reverent lips and fingers and it makes him feel whole again, and Dean hopes it is the same for Cas. They move against each other and into each other, and Dean hears Cas murmuring through heated breath what could be Enochian, and after that, the rest is a blur of Cas; his scent, his touch, his skin. Cas feels Dean spreading through his everything, until Cas comes with a cry of "Dean" from the back of his throat, and Dean follows with a groan of "Cas," from the back of his own, which Cas muffles with a hard kiss and languid tongue.
When Dean returns with a towel and cleans them off, Cas kisses him again, gently, reassuringly, and Dean kisses him back with a touch of desperateness. In a moment of vulnerability, Dean whispers, "Don't leave me, Cas."
Cas, looking straight into him, says, "I'm not going anywhere, Dean," and Dean pulls Cas' back against him and they fall asleep in the warmth of each other.
In the morning, Dean finds Cas new clothes, a light blue shirt, a pair of pants, boots, and one of his military jackets. The shirt and jacket quickly become favorites, as well as the pair of jeans belonging to Dean that Cas steals and wears more often than the pants. The jeans and jacket are slightly too big, but Cas likes them because they are Dean's, and Dean doesn't complain because he likes seeing Cas in his clothes. It reminds him that Cas is his.
It only takes one shot to kill a man, but Dean hesitates enough that the first shot isn't good enough. He fires two more shots in quick succession, and the body that used to be Bobby Singer slumps over in its wheelchair.
The gun in Dean's hand suddenly becomes too heavy and his arm drops, muscles give out, and the gun falls to the floor with a loud thunk. The hollow feeling in Dean's gut spreads to his fingertips and he stands there numbly; not thinking anything else except how much of a dumbass he is for dropping the gun.
He feels like he's been standing there for hours when a hand grips his shoulder and a familiar warmth cuts through the numbness. Dean knows the gesture well enough to not be startled, but he still flinches from the contact. When he turns, green eyes meet calm, familiar blue ones and Dean's fragile strength shatters instantly. He chokes back a sob and hastily tries to stop the tears from falling while Cas continues to stand an arm stretch away, watching him intently. The moment Dean gives up trying to pretend he's not crying is the same moment that Castiel slides his hand from Dean's shoulder to his upper arm and in one fluid motion pushes him down on the bed in the adjoining room. Cas sits down next to Dean, leaning against the headboard, and Dean falls into his jacket.
"I can't…I can't do this anymore, Cas," Dean whispers through sobs.
They've been through this before. Dean's self-doubt and Castiel's faith in him. He sounds broken, like a little boy again who never asked for any of this to happen; like the man in the hospital bed saying, "I'm not strong enough." Things that are broken always fall apart. Things that are so broken cannot be fixed so easily.
Dean shakes his head and clutches Castiel's jacket tighter. "I have so many regrets," he whispers.
"Dean Winchester." Cas says softly in his gravelly voice. He slowly moves his hand from Dean's arm to his chest. "I have seen your soul. It is the brightest and most beautiful I have ever seen." He doesn't mention that it has been steadily getting dimmer. "You are the strongest man I have ever known. You are strong even when you are weak. No other man could have accomplished half as much as you have in your lifetime."
Dean meets his eyes and lets out a bitter laugh. "Like starting the apocalypse?"
"I haven't done that yet."
"Why do you have so much faith in me, Cas?" Dean asks, looking away but moving his hand to touch Castiel's fingertips on his chest.
"I believe I just told you."
Dean starts to cry again and Cas pulls him closer. He presses his lips to Dean's forehead. "Dean Winchester," he says reverently. For Thine is the Kingdom. Another press near the corner of his mouth. "My fearless leader." Cas places two fingers on Dean's forehead in a familiar gesture, and though it doesn't make him lose consciousness as it would have in the past, it calms him enough to stop the shaking.
When Cas wakes, the bed is empty and Bobby's body is missing. He finds Dean in the back giving Bobby a hunter's funeral. Dean's eyes are bloodshot but otherwise there is no evidence of what happened last night.
Castiel approaches the fire, giving Bobby's body a silent blessing before carefully turning his eyes to Dean who refuses to look at him. They stand in silence for a while, shoulders barely touching, watching the fire consume the body until all that's left are embers and ashes.
"Quit saying my name like that."
Cas tilts his head. "I don't say it any certain way."
A muscle in Dean's jaw twitches. "Let's go home." They don't say a word to each other on the way back to the camp and it's the last time Dean drives the Impala.
Cas shows up at Dean's cabin that night and Dean takes a long drink of his whiskey and pours himself another glass. "Don't you have some sort of bullshit session tonight?" Dean asks him.
Cas smiles at him and shakes his head, walking over to stand in front of him where he is sitting on the bed. "Here is one just for you." He clears his throat formally. "Dean Winchester, you must bring balance to yourself before you bring balance to the world."
Dean lets out a hollow laugh. "I don't need to be in balance when I can't feel anything."
"We both know that's not quite true, Dean," Cas responds looking into his eyes. "If you did not feel anything, it would not bother you when I say your name with… reverence." Dean swallows thickly and his eyes trail over Castiel's lips and back up to his eyes. Both of them also know reverence isn't necessarily the right word.
"If you did not feel anything, you would not be gone each morning after we share a bed. You would not be at this camp. You would not let me do this…" Cas says as he leans down and captures Dean's top lip with his own lips. Dean's eyes are closed when Cas pulls away and Cas smirks. "My so-called 'bullshit' might bring you more peace than that whiskey, oh fearless leader."
Dean opens his eyes to give him a dirty look. "Yeah, okay, Mr. Absinthe and amphetamines. Prove it."
"Very well." Cas says, taking Dean's glass, grazing his fingers along Dean's in the process, and setting it down on the table. He returns his eyes to Dean's before he begins. "There are seven primary chakras." Cas gently places two fingers on the top of Dean's head. "This is Sahasrara." Then he replaces his fingers with his lips. Dean continues to stare at him levelly as he kneels to the floor and places himself between Dean's legs.
"The sixth chakra is Ajna," he says as he places two fingers on the spot between Dean's eyes. Once again he removes his fingers, placing his hands around Dean's head to bring it forward and place his lips gently on Dean's brow. Dean's eyes flutter shut in automatic response and he breathes in Castiel's heady scent of incense and sweat. It's comforting and familiar, and it calms him.
"The fifth," Cas continues, lowering his other knee to the floor and beginning to unbutton Dean's shirt, "is Vishudda." He doesn't bother with his fingers and places his lips on the hollow of Dean's throat.
Dean's breath is shaky as he mumbles, "This actually works on people?"
Cas breathes a huff of laughter onto Dean's neck and continues to steadily unbutton the rest of his shirt. "This is a personal session. You will have to tell me the final consensus. The fourth is Anahata," and Cas places his entire hand on Dean's chest as if he is sensing his soul. "A personal favorite of mine," he adds, slowly travelling his fingertips downward to kiss Dean's chest where his palm had just been. Dean always liked Castiel's hands. They were strong and lean and smooth, and they've become rougher over the years, but Dean likes them all the same.
And then Dean realizes. "You're leaving out all the spiritual shit. That's cheating, you son-of-a-bitch," he mumbles half-heartedly as Castiel pushes his shirt off his shoulders and down his arms.
"I knew you would not care about those parts as much."
Dean doesn't respond and Cas takes that as a sign to continue. "The third chakra is Manipura." He pushes Dean backward so he is lying down and places his hands on both sides of Dean's waist. Then he lowers his lips to Dean's stomach, holding them there longer than necessary. "The second…" he mumbles as he begins to unbutton Dean's pants. Dean's breath catches in his throat. His eyes are still closed but Cas is watching him meaningfully.
"You're fucking around with me," Dean accuses Castiel with a thick voice and Cas laughs before denying it.
He pulls Dean's jeans off slowly. "It is Swadhisthana," he states and kisses him just below where the waist of his jeans had been.
"Fuck, Cas," Dean groans before grabbing his arm and pulling him upward and looking at him heavily. They stare at each other an indeterminate amount of time and Dean is the first to break the contact as he closes his eyes and makes their lips meet. Their tongues intertwine urgently, mixing the tastes of whiskey and absinthe, and Cas feels Dean groan in the back of his throat. They break apart as Dean pulls off Castiel's shirt, but their lips are drawn back to each other in an instant. Dean's rough hands are gentle as they travel over Castiel's chest…stomach…back as Cas grinds into him and runs his fingers through his hair. Dean moves his hands lower to remove Castiel's pants, causing Cas to let out a throaty "Dean," into his ear. The tightness in Dean's groin grows at the sound and at the feeling of Cas pressing against him. Their hands and lips continue to explore each other as their hips move rhythmically against each other.
Cas pulls away at some point, lower, and before Dean can protest, Cas shows him the last chakra ("Muladhara" which earns a noise that rivals the one made at "Swadhisthana"). Dean thinks the whole thing is probably blasphemous, but maybe he should give Cas a little credit. Because even though he can't remember the names of any of them, the last three are his favorites. And drowning in Cas feels a hell of a lot better than drowning in whiskey, even if in some strange way it hurts more the day after.
In the morning, Dean is gone as usual and Cas gets dressed, realizing that he always hopes Dean will be there in the morning but doesn't expect it, because it hasn't been that way for a few years. He returns to his own cabin, lighting incense and popping a few pills before settling on the floor to meditate.
Days pass and they don't speak to each other except when they absolutely need to, and if that happens it is always through Chuck. Cas knows Dean is being Dean by drinking whiskey by the bottle and sleeping with various women each night in order to forget and Cas mirrors that with absinthe and groups of women. Dean even leaves camp for a few days on a hunting trip and Cas knows he purposely left him behind.
The night Dean returns, one week has passed, and he shows up in Castiel's doorway after one of those "bullshit sessions." Cas smiles at him genuinely. "Hello, Dean."
Dean walks slowly to where Cas is sitting on the floor and sits down across from him. He leans forward to kiss Castiel softly on the lips. When he pulls away, Cas stares at him so intently that he looks down and fiddles with the rug. He licks his lips before speaking. "You're the only one left, Cas. You're all I've got. And I'm not the same Dean I was a year ago. I can't be that person anymore." It is Dean's way of apologizing for something he doesn't need to be sorry about, because Cas knows him, and he will always be his Dean no matter what does or does not happen between them. His Dean always comes back to him.
Cas doesn't answer right away and Dean is forced to look up at him for some sort of sign that he was listening. Their eyes meet and Dean is reminded of what Cas said to him back in that hotel room when he was cleaning the blood from his face. The blue eyes he looks into now are still the same, but maybe hazier and something about that saddens him. He wonders what Cas sees in his eyes now, but he's too afraid to ask.
"Non sum qualis eram," Castiel finally says. "'I am not what I once was.'" And then he laughs like there is some sort of joke in that when there's not, and Dean hates that he can tell it's a deflection.
"Everyone is hardened in war," Cas continues after he stops laughing. "There are Three Marks of Existence; Suffering, which you know well, impermanence, and lack of a permanent self. All things change Dean, there is no reason to assume your situation, or yourself, cannot nor will not change."
Dean doesn't believe him, but he doesn't comment. "You deserve to feel like an angel again," Dean says after a moment, softly placing his hand between Castiel's shoulder blades.
He leans into Dean's touch. "Sometimes I do. With you mostly. You deserve to feel like you again," Cas says in return.
"It hurts so goddamn much."
Dean is silent for a while, absent-mindedly moving his fingers on Castiel's back, and they sit that way until Cas push Dean onto his back gently. Cas kisses him deeply and their tongues move against each other languidly. Dean smells like sweat and gun oil. That part of Dean never changes. Eventually, Cas rolls onto his back next to him with their arms touching and they stare at the ceiling, heads clouding with the smell of incense and each other.
"We'll probably die, Cas," Dean tells him bluntly.
"One's death does not bring an end to life. You have lived from an endless past, and you will live into an endless future." The hope only of empty men. "I will always be here, Dean." He places his hand on Dean's face to turn it toward him and then drags it down to his chest. "With you."
"Cas…" Dean finally says, imitating the way Castiel says Dean's name.
Cas smiles as he understands the unspoken meaning. "You were the first to call me that," Cas tells him fondly. Those three words they dance around will never be spoken, but everything else says it enough.
Thank you for reading! Just a last quick note that the chakra stuff is taken from Hinduism. (If you look these up make sure you realize that the fic refers to the superficial activation points, and not where they are located inside the body.) The Three Marks of Existence come from Buddhism, and other various phrases are from T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men.