Dean's lying in bed flipping through an issue of Maxim- and he honestly does read the articles, so it's not like he's laying there ogling tits just for the sake of ogling tits; he's got some sense of decorum, thank you, and with his baby brother sitting at the table and painstakingly cleaning their arsenal, it would be a really inappropriate time for a boner, anyway- when he hears (feels, more like, but even that's not quite the right word) a sound he's come to know pretty well in the last few years: the sound of angel's wings.

He and Sam tense at the same moment...but the tension gives way to slack-jawed astonishment pretty quickly, as the boys take in the sight of what looks like the next Miss America scowling at them, long dark curls falling into her eyes. Dean whistles. "Hot damn," he breathes, "are you an angel? 'Cause that body is a miracle."

"Really?" Sam sighs, standing up, but the girl lifts her hand and tilts her head in a way that's startlingly familiar.

When she speaks, it's in a bland monotone that makes Dean's eyes widen. "This is a temporary solution," Castiel says- it can't be anyone else, not standing and talking and staring like that- "to an inconvenient dilemma."

"Cas?" Sam gasps, because he can't have a thought form in that big old cranium of his without voicing it.

Dean chooses the more direct, "Dude! What the hell happened to your vessel?"

"I left it, only momentarily. My presence was requested outside the human realm." Cas' voice sounds strangely prim coming out of this babe's body, especially taking into account the skin-tight biker chick gear and the shine of her lipgloss. "When I attempted to resume my position inside the vessel, I found it was no longer vacant."

Dean, for reasons he doesn't really want to consider, is speechless, so Sam takes over the investigative portion of the evening. "Demon?"

Cas nods, a gloomy look stealing into his eyes that kicks all of Dean's instincts into gear. This is a smoking hot girl, standing in his hotel room, with a problem that needs fixing. He finds himself on his feet and asking where they need to go without any real input from his brain. His eagerness isn't lost on either of them, unfortunately, because Sam pulls in his lips like he's holding back an obnoxious giggle and Castiel tips his- her, his, whatever- head even further to the side.

"If it's just a regular old demon," Sammy says, once looking at Dean with twinkling eyes loses its charm, "why didn't you just smite it?"

Good question. If Dean were capable of rational thought at the moment and not using all of his brainpower to keep his eyes off of Castiel's rack, he might have asked the same thing.

Cas' fingers curl up frustratedly, and he looks down at his feet. "Aside from the obvious destructive effect smiting would have on my vessel? The depleted my energy. I should have expected such a problem, should have safeguarded for it-"

"Hey, don't beat yourself up, swee-," Dean says quickly, his voice soft and comforting. What the hell? Dean shakes himself and specifically doesn't look at Sam or Cas as he clears his throat and tries again: "I mean. It's cool, man. So you're low on angel mojo. No big deal." The embarrassment of almost having called Cas sweetheart (And what the hell was that all about, anyway? Pop Castiel into a girl-shaped tin and suddenly Dean's all gooey and Hallmark card? Fuck that. Dean isn't living in a Lifetime movie.) recedes somewhat and Dean finds he can look at him- her, whatever- without stalling out from mortification. "You just pop us over to where we need to be and we'll empty your vessel out the old-fashioned way." Maybe it's slightly more machismo than necessary, but Dean feels better when he emphasizes his speech with a loving little pat to one of the shotguns Sam had been cleaning.

The other two don't seem quite as on board with the whole thing as he expected, though, because Sam rolls his eyes and Cas' frown deepens, and then they're both speaking at once. "I am depleted, Dean," Cas says slowly, and Sam groans, "What part of 'out of juice' are you not getting here, exactly?"

"Okay," Dean says, drawing the word out into several syllables. His eyes flit from Sammy's face to the ridiculously attractive little bombshell Cas is inhabiting and back again. "We'll take the Impala, then," he says, more casually than he thought he'd be able to manage.

The relief that sags Cas' shoulders does weird things to Dean's brain, so he squares his own shoulders and packs the guns more gruffly than is totally necessary. If anyone notices, they don't say a word.


The radio's playing a bit of the Zep, the windows are down, and a nice breeze is rolling through and playing in Castiel's hair- which Dean is not watching in the rear-view mirror, not intentionally, at least. He's also not planning to say anything, so it's a surprise when he hears his own voice rumbling: "I gotta ask, what's the big deal? I mean, anytime I'm ganking monsters I'm happy, but...seems like a lot of trouble to go through when you've got a perfectly fine vessel right here." Perfectly fine. And perfectly fine. Not that he's saying any of this because of that, of course, because that would just be weird. Cas is like a brother to him, sometimes even more than that. They've literally been to Hell and back again together; they walked side by side in Purgatory, fought together when it seemed like the fighting would never end. Just 'cause he's got himself a pretty little meat suit to prance around in doesn't mean any of those things have changed.

Cas meets his eyes in the rear-view, and he's so completely Cas in that moment that Dean doesn't feel at all distracted by the dark eyeliner and long lashes framing that piercing gaze. "I have grown fond of my vessel," he says softly, but there's an odd intensity in his voice that makes it hard for Dean to tear his eyes away and shift his focus back to the road. "There are also moral implications at hand," Cas says after a moment, sounding more like himself, calm and even-tempered. "This body carries an active human spirit. I did not ask for permission when I possessed it."

That surprises Dean enough that he automatically looks to Sam for his reaction, but the kid's all curled up on himself and sleeping, slack-jawed and rumpled, with the seat belt holding up his drooping head. So Dean steals another glance in the rear-view and tries not to jump when he discovers that Castiel has slid forward in the seat and is now only inches from Dean, watching him unblinkingly. "Can you even do that?" Dean asks quietly, aware of the way it sounds- distrustful, uneasy- but unable to do anything about it.

"I am something less than angel, now," Cas says matter-of-factly. "There is no name, to the best of my knowledge, for what I have become." He's quiet for a moment, watching Dean closely. "I've disappointed you," Cas says at last, and Dean takes half a second to note the pain in her- his, Christ- eyes before blinking and shaking his head.

"No. No, Cas, that's not..." He turns the music down a bit and drops his voice as much as he can while still making himself heard over the wind, not wanting to wake Sam. "It's just a slippery fucking slope, you know? I get that it was an emergency, but when you start bending your principles here and there, when do you stop? I mean..." He shoots a furtive look at Sam, who is beginning to drool, and goes on, "Look at how things went with Sam, right? Befriending a demon, drinking her blood...and the next thing you know, he's breaking one of the freaking seals of the apocalypse. You never know where those choices will led, 's all I'm saying. And don't even get me started on the shit I've done...or that you've done."

Cas keeps his voice low as he responds, but it reminds Dean of the quiet before a storm. "Would you have preferred that I never returned to you? Or that I waited the many years it would have taken to find a suitable vessel who was also willing and, since it is obviously making you uncomfortable, less pleasing to the eye?"

"Christ, Cas-"

"Blasphemy is not necessary," Cas says shortly. "If you wish it, I will vacate this body and follow you in my true form. I will not be able to speak to you, or to help you-"

"Don't be an idiot," Dean growls, because he remembers saying "nobody gets left behind," and the sentiment holds even now, even here. "You're not going anywhere." He drums his fingers on the steering wheel, suddenly full of frustrated energy. "We're going to get you fixed up, Cas. Just...just go to sleep, or whatever it is almost-angels do when it's quiet time." Then he turns up the radio, just enough to drown out his thoughts, and presses down harder on the gas pedal.


Castiel is playing GPS in the back seat. "Left," he says, his vessel's eyes still wearing that tired, hang-dog look they've had in them since his and Dean's midnight conversation. On one hand, Dean hates to see it there, hates knowing that Cas thinks of himself as "less than angel"...but on the other hand, being able to possess a human without permission is pretty fucking demonic, and it makes Dean more than a little nervous. It's no wonder he could barely finish his breakfast platter that morning.

It doesn't help that Sam's doing that thing he does, with that damn crease in his forehead and his worried eyes, looking back and forth between the both of them like any minute they're going to emotionally combust and, God forbid, "talk it out".

Dean tries to ignore both of them and the feelings they're leaking all over Baby, and just drives where he's told.

Eventually they park outside a crappy old-school five-and-dime on the outskirts of some dusty Plains-state town, the replica of which can be seen in every rural area across the United States. Apparently, according to Castiel's spidey-sense, this is where the demon that jacked his meat suit is holing up. Dean pops the gear into park and looks at Sam, who's still wearing that irritatingly concerned look. "Stay with the car a minute," he says, because he's not quite ready to tell Sam about Castiel's newfound powers, and he's also not quite ready to storm in on a demon and kick some ass...not like this anyway, not with all these reservations and doubts. Then he sidles out of the car and walks around the building and behind the dumpster, because he doesn't totally trust himself not to raise his voice, and he really just doesn't want Sam involved right now, not in this.

Cas follows him, as Dean knew he would. "I am not a demon," he says abruptly, as soon as Dean stops walking and turns around to face him.

"I know that. But there's a lot of stuff that's not adding up for me here, and I need you to answer me straight." He shifts his balance. "Where were you? You said you took a trip. Where?"

Damn, angels (or whatever the hell Cas is now) are bad at lying. "That's of no consequence to you," Cas says quickly, guiltily. The girl he's wearing has enormous green eyes, and they're wide with feigned innocence now.

"Dammit, Cas, I thought we were through with this bullshit!" Dean snarls, instinctively grabbing the lapels of Cas' vessel's motorcycle jacket. "All the secrets, the told me I can't save everyone, fine. But neither can you. So if this is another instance of you trying to-to protect me, or Sam, or just- fuck, humanity in general-"

In a heartbeat Dean's back is making contact with the brick wall behind him, and he's slouched down so that he's eye-level with all of Castiel's five feet and three inches. But there's real power emanating from Castiel, rolling off like waves and leaving the air around them crackling. "I am trying to protect myself," Cas hisses.

That...hurts, more than a punch to the gut might have, actually. Is he saying he doesn't trust Dean? After all they've been through?

Maybe Castiel's reading his mind, or maybe the look on his face says everything for him, because Cas' face softens even as his grip on Dean's T-shirt gets tighter. "Something is happening to me, Dean," he says, very quietly. It's obvious that the words terrify him, but he presses forward: "I forget things. I do things, sometimes, without understanding why. I have- powers, powers that I do not understand." Cas has never really been good with personal space, but now he leans in close, so close that Dean can smell the vessel's shampoo, and whispers, "Something raised me from Purgatory against my will. I am not safe until I know who, and why."

Dean doesn't really know why they're whispering, but it feels right to set his hands on this body's hips and murmur, right into Cas' ear, "Let me help you. You don't have to do this alone."

Cas shakes his head. "No." The hands that are fisted into Dean's shirt are trembling slightly, and that's enough right there to break Dean's heart...and to send a spike of adrenaline through his veins. Dean has seen Cas face a lot of truly scary shit- Leviathans being the most notable, possibly, although Lucifer himself ranks up there pretty high- but he's never seen Cas like this.

Maybe it's just the new digs, but Dean finds touching this version of Castiel feels natural, a habit he never knew he had. His hands slide up to his-, fuck it, his- back and pull him closer. "When are you gonna get this through your thick, borrowed skull?" Dean says, and when Cas drops his eyes Dean follows his gaze, forces Cas to look at him. "I'm not leaving you. Like it or not, you've got me, Cas."

Cas swallows and drops his gaze to Dean's lips, and even though he's seen Castiel do that exact same thing a thousand times before it feels...more significant now, in this context, in that body. Maybe he's wrong- he's not, and he knows it- but he takes it as the invitation he suspects its been for a long time now.

Cas goes stock-still when their lips first touch, but then he's crushing Dean against the wall, his hands balled up so tightly in that poor shirt that Dean expects it to tear any minute now. "You are confused," Cas growls, his lips still so close to Dean's that Dean can feel his breath. "This vessel is affecting your judgment."

"No," Dean breathes, trying to kiss Cas again. Damn angel's slippery, though, and he can't seem to make their mouths meet. "No, Cas, I've wanted this. We both have. For awhile, maybe."

The look on Castiel's face is both solemn and seriously pissed-off, which Dean doesn't quite get...until Cas speaks, and then realization hits him so hard he's breathless with it. "I have wanted this," Cas intones seriously, "since the moment I laid hand on you in Hell. Understand that, Dean, before you continue this folly."

Oh. There aren'tt enough words in the English language- maybe not even enough words in the entire human freaking lexicon- to describe the rush of-of whatever the hell that is in Dean's guts. He realizes, suddenly, that people have been trying to tell him this for years...that Castiel himself has been saying it, in his own way, maybe even from the moment they met.

For once, Dean finds that he and Cas are on exactly the same page about something. Because holy shit, does this deserve more gravity than Dean was expecting to give it. He loves Cas- he wouldn't say that out loud, not to anybody, but it's true- like family, like a best friend, like two people who have been through the trenches together and came out standing...but fuck. It wasn't exactly love-at-first-smite, was it?

Castiel watches Dean process all of that with grave resignation, and when (even though this is his best friend outside of family wearing the body of the sexiest woman Dean's seen in years, or possibly ever) Dean whispers, "Cas..." and wilts under the intensity of that look, Castiel just nods and lets him go.

"Sam and I will prepare the weaponry," Cas says, all business even though his damn body's lipgloss is smeared and her shirt is rucked up around his waist, "but I would prefer my true vessel remain unharmed." He walks away, his motions so stiff and unfeminine that Dean would chuckle under any other circumstances, and Dean watches him go with his heart in his throat.


The actual exorcism goes off a lot easier than any of them expect it to, and Cas' body is only a little bit beat up when he hops back into it, leaving the girl to slump to the floor. She's unconscious as Castiel heals himself (and Dean isn't sure if that weird surge of relief is because of what happened earlier, or if its just good to see Cas as himself again) and still unconscious when Castiel kneels at her side and looks up at Sam and Dean with a frown. "I have enough restored power to carry her safely back to her home," he says, addressing Sam instead of Dean. "Then I must find someplace safe to recover."

"No place safer than with us," Dean interjects, despite the awkwardness. "I meant what I said, Cas."

"And I meant what I said," Castiel says soberly. "It would be better if we were apart for now. Goodbye, Sam. Dean." Then his fingers are on the girl's forehead, and they're both gone, just like that.

The Winchesters stand in the car accessories aisle of the convenience store for a while, staring at the spot where Castiel and his preternaturally hot temp-vessel had been. Then Sam looks up and deadpans, "So you guys seem totally normal and not like you just broke up with each other behind a dumpster. What'd you do? Did you say something insensitive about his vessel?"

"Why do I have to be the one who did something?" Dean says hastily, nose crinkled with indignation. Then he realizes he's missing the bigger picture and splutters: "Wait a second, no- we're not, we weren't- we aren't together, if that's what you're thinking."

Sam gives him a 'duh' look. "Obviously not anymore. What happened?"

"Not any..." Dean pauses. For the second time in one day, he comes to the conclusion that everyone in the world knew exactly how Castiel felt about Dean except Dean himself. "No, man, it's not like that. Never has been."

"Really?" The astonished look on Sam's face is sort of priceless, and almost undoubtedly mirrors the one on Dean's face. Because, really? Sam thinks he's been having it off with their friendly neighborhood angel in his spare time? "I guess I just assumed..." Sam shrugs. "I don't know. A year's a long time, and I guess I thought...y'know, what happens in Purgatory stays in Purgatory, or whatever. At least until your presumably dead celestial boyfriend magically comes back to life, in which case what happens in Purgatory also happens in the separate motel room you've been insisting on getting every night."

"Dude, no, that's not..." In all honesty, Dean's been insisting on separate rooms because he's been having some pretty intense nightmares and he doesn't want or need to deal with Sam's concerned little-brother face every morning. And that's when he manages to sleep at all, which is rare enough that Dean knows Sam would worry if he knew the full extent of it. A quick change of the subject seems in order, and Dean's got something on his mind, anyway. "So you thought me and Cas were...and you were cool with that?"

"Yeah, why not?" Sam asks, with genuine confusion. He blinks at Dean. "I like Cas."

All Dean can do is shake his head and clap Sammy on the shoulder. "Let's go, kid," he grunts, steering them out towards the Impala. It's been a touchy-feely sort of day and Dean generally despises that sort of thing, but he won't deny the feeling sitting low in his chest, like the warmth of a double-whiskey settling into his blood. Castiel's been in love with him for years, and Sam's totally cool with his brother boning an angel with male parts, should the mood strike. Wonders never cease.


Dean wakes up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, his shirt (the one that Cas stretched out irreparably earlier, and what does it mean that he didn't want to take it off?) sticking to his damp skin and making him miserable. He glances at the alarm clock and lets out a sigh, then slides out of bed and takes a shower.

When he's clean and has reached the understanding that, no matter how hard he wishes or how long he lays in the dark staring at the ceiling, he's not going back to sleep, he starts a pot of coffee and switches on the TV. An hour-long infomercial about shammy towels is playing, and Dean settles down with his coffee and watches it distantly. When his foot begins to twitch from pent-up energy, he lets out a groan and mumbles what he's been thinking since the moment he woke up: "Castiel, if you've got enough juice to do it, now might be a good time to carry your properly-vesseled ass over here so we can..." He lets out an annoyed breath and struggles not to roll his eyes. "Talk, or something."

Castiel is at the foot of his bed, blocking the TV. Despite himself, Dean jumps a little. "Hey. That was fast."

"Hello, Dean." Cas looks tired, and not in the way that humans do when they could use a nap. He looks like he's been exhausted for centuries. "My powers are almost fully restored."

"Awesome." This is awkward. This is easily the most awkward situation Dean has ever found himself in, and that includes the incident with the silky panties and the girlfriend who wanted to know if he'd ever been 'pegged'. "So, look-"

"I made you uncomfortable," Cas says calmly, jumping right into it. "My affections are stronger than you presumed. They are also stronger than your own."

True on all counts, Dean supposes, except something about having it all laid out like that doesn't feel quite right, like there's something missing. He runs a restless hand through his hair and gestures irritably at the bed. "Sit down, would you? You're driving me bat-shit, standing way over there."

"I apologize." Castiel walks over and sits down, straight-backed and stiff as a board, beside Dean. "It was not my intention to make you uncomfortable, Dean."

"Yeah, well." Dean knows he should elaborate, especially since he's the one who called Cas down from wherever he was, but putting feelings into words has never been Dean's strong suit. He's gotten better- a helluva lot better- since Purgatory, but it still isn't easy. "Cas, look-"

"I don't want you to pity me," Cas says quickly. It's good having Castiel back in his regular old body (even if he was a mega-babe in the last one), with his flipped-around tie and his chapped lips. It feels...right. And there's something attractive about him, too, even in this vessel. Maybe it's the bedhead; weirdly, it makes Dean think of Dr. Sexy. There's a defiant tilt to Cas' head that makes Dean feel warm and ridiculous. Cas isn't moping or crying into his cornflakes (metaphorical cornflakes, but still) over Dean; he's a fighter.

"I don't," Dean says at length, leaning back on his palms and meeting Cas' intense stare levelly. "So are you gonna let me talk, or are you gonna make tape your mouth shut?"

Cas doesn't smile, but his expression lightens enough that Dean knows its just as good. "Go on."

"Good choice." Dean shifts his attention to his left hand, where is thumb is tracing a decorative seam on the comforter. He feels a little bit like he's in the sixth grade and asking some brace-faced girl to the school dance. Which is a slightly unfair analogy, but hey. "When I kissed you," he says carefully, and looks back up again at Castiel's inscrutable expression, "I was kissing you, Cas."

There's a moment of silence that feels so heavy it's nearly suffocating. Cas runs his tongue across his lips- not lasciviously; if anything, its more of a nervous, darting movement- and swallows so hard his Adam's apple bobs roughly in his throat. "Okay," he says eventually.

Dean stares at him for a moment. "Okay?"

"Okay," Castiel nods.

"Okay?!" Dean repeats, incredulous. "What the hell do you mean, okay?"

Cas tilts his head. "That is still the expression, isn't it?"

"Jesus." Dean runs his hand down his face and lets out a long breath. "Cas, buddy, I'm gonna need a little bit more than okay here. So if you want to maybe add to that...?"

With a sigh, Castiel switches his gaze to the window. Dean can't see anything outside but pure darkness; he wonders what, if anything, the angel sees. "I accept that you believe there was something more to your impulsive action than sexual gratification from an attractive body," Cas says evenly, "but it doesn't matter." He looks at Dean tiredly and says, "There is quite the substantial age difference between us."

"I'm not as young as I look, either," Dean jokes, and its partially true. Forty years in hell; a year in purgatory. He's died so many times by now that he's honest-to-God lost count. Maybe he looks like he's in his thirties, but most of the time Dean feels more like a grizzled old war vet than anything else.

Cas shakes his head. "You should be with someone who can give you a family. Someone who makes you happy."

"I keep telling you," Dean insists, leaning forward. "You and Sam are my family." Cas makes a face, and Dean huffs. "I've done the whole white-picket-fence, golf-on-the-weekends thing before. That's not me. This?" He gestures to the room around them. "Shitty motel rooms, diner food, and phony credit cards? That's me. This is as happy as I'm gonna get."

"Does that not depress you?"

"Hell no," Dean grins. "Better than heaven, this. At least this is real." Cas looks at him reprovingly, and Dean laughs. "Cas, if you're gonna hang out down here and play human, you're gonna have to get rid of all that outdated bullshit they've been feeding you upstairs. It's all right that life kicks my ass sometimes." Dean shrugs. "Makes the good stuff actually count for something."

Castiel looks at him searchingly for a moment, then leans forward and presses a chaste, lingering kiss to Dean's forehead. "Sleep on it, Dean. Give yourself time to be sure."

"Life's too fucking short," Dean grumbles, but Cas shakes his head again and looks at him sadly.

"No," Cas says gently. "Life is exactly as long as it should be." And then he's gone.


The next time Dean sees Cas, there isn't much time for long significant looks or emotion-drenched soliloquies. Namely because there's a mermaid (and whoever decided the mermaids of myth were hot was one sick bastard, because damn those things are fugly) sinking small cruise ships off the coast of Alaska. Between not drowning, fighting off what looks like a diseased sea lion with a penchant for forceful tonsil hockey, and actually figuring out how to kill the fucking thing (narwhal horn, as it turns out; good ole unicorn of the sea), they're a little too busy for romance.

And when the deed is done and they've all changed into dry clothes (Cas taking the heavenly shortcut, of course, and just willing himself dry) and gone down to the local fishermen's haunt, Dean is just too damn tired for anything more complicated than sipping beer and listening to the old men at the next table talk about the day's catch.

Sam seems to have other ideas, though, because he looks from Cas to Dean and back again three or four times before yawning exaggeratedly and sighing, "Well, I guess I'll turn in." He sits up and adds, hurriedly, "No need for you guys to head back, though. This is just your kinda place, Dean; you should hang out for awhile. And, uh, Cas...keep him company." He's fighting back a smile as he slides out of his chair and tugs on his coat. "See you guys in the morning." There's an eyebrow thing directed at Dean, which Dean chooses to ignore, and then Sam is gone, letting in a draft as he slips outside and walks back to the motel.

"Your brother is playing at matchmaker," Castiel says quietly, his face revealing only the barest traces of amusement. If Dean didn't know him so well, he wouldn't be able to see it at all.

"Yeah," Dean grunts, slugging back the last of his beer and waggling the bottle at the bartender. "Sorry."

"I appreciate the gesture." Cas finishes his own beer, only the crinkle in his nose belying his disinterest in the stuff.


"But, I believe it is misguided." Cas lets out a small sigh and leans forward, his eyes catching Dean's. "You have considered our conversation, I presume. And, I hope, come to a new conclusion."

"For someone who claims to be interested," Dean says quietly, with an uncomfortable glance at the guys at the next table, "you sure are trying pretty hard to push me away."

Castiel is unrelenting. Stubbornly, he shifts his jaw and warns, "As ever, I am thinking of your well-being." He picks at his beer label, suddenly (which does something funny to Dean's stomach, because it's a perfect mirror of Dean's own nervous habit), and adds, "I will admit there is some selfishness in my reluctance, as well."

"Yeah?" The bartender drops two new brews on the table, and Dean nods a quick thanks at him. "How so?"

"You have no idea what it's like," Cas says, swapping bottles so he can pick at the new label instead, "to feel, for the first time, after thousands of years of neutrality and blind obedience. There is a fragility in it that the human mind could never begin to comprehend."

"I know you, Cas. There's nothing fragile about you."

"As I say," Cas shrugs, "you could not fathom it." He peers at Dean owlishly, then, and says, "You're tired. I will let you rest." He glances around furtively and, before Dean can even think to say anything, disappears.


In Dean's nightmare, he and Cas are struggling against a horde of Leviathan. Castiel is barely fighting, not even raising a hand to defend himself, only moving to protect Dean when necessary, and it's making Dean furious. "Cas!" he shouts, to no avail. The angel doesn't even lift his head, just accepts each punch and kick as though he's taking penance. Dean can't give up on him, though. He just can't. "Castiel!"

"I am here," Cas says, close enough that Dean jumps and jolts out of his dream and into the bleariness of three A.M. in a darkened and unfamiliar room. It takes Dean a moment to remember where he is (Wichita) and why (good old-fashioned poltergeist). It takes no time at all to notice Castiel sitting on the edge of his bed, looking down at him. "Hello, Dean."

"Cas?" Dean sits up groggily, rubs at his eyes. "What are you doing here? Everything okay?"

"You called for me," Cas explains with a touch of sheepishness. "You sounded...troubled."

"Yeah, well, false alarm. Just having a little trouble sleeping." Enormous understatement, but Dean doesn't feel like talking about it, so he doesn't. "You can flap back off to wherever you go when you're not with us."

Cas stares at him. "I'll stay. If it's all right with you."

The hotel room feels too warm and too small. Dean sits up and wipes at the sweat on his forehead, his eyes burning from exhaustion (and emotion, maybe, leftover from the dream...but he pushes that thought away quickly), and lets out a huffed breath. "Course it's all right, idiot," he grunts, pushing the blankets off and climbing unsteadily to his feet. "I'm up for the day, anyway. Do me a favor? Put the coffee on."

A few moments in the bathroom (a long piss, an awkward stare at himself in the mirror, a thorough brushing of his teeth) and Dean pads back into the main room, scratching at his stomach under his T-shirt. Castiel is staring quizzically at the coffee maker, watching boiling water fill the pot. Dean sighs. "You have to put the grounds in first, man."

Cas turns around, his eyebrows raised and his hair a mess, and Dean's throat goes dry. What are they even doing? Dean doesn't give a flying fuck what vessel Cas is in; this is Cas, for Christ's sake. There's nothing about this that needs thinking about. In a few short steps he's across the room and pressing Cas against the noisy little mini-fridge, his hands twisting into the fabric of that stupid trenchcoat and his mouth pressing against Castiel's roughly.

There's a small noise sort of like a whimper that sounds low in Cas' throat and sparks an almost painful flash of arousal in Dean's stomach. And then Cas' fingers are scrabbling against Dean's wrists and trying, like always, to push him away.

"No," Dean growls against his lips, and he's gratified when he kisses Castiel again and Cas kisses him back just as fervently, with just as much hunger and want as Dean feels. The hands on his wrist go slack as Castiel settles back and opens his mouth, lets Dean's tongue in. All this time Dean had been expecting it to feel different, in some quantifiable way- because Cas is wearing a man instead of a woman, he guesses- but it doesn't, not really. The slip of their tongues against each other feels right and normal, and the hand he's allowing to slide up Castiel's warm back isn't objecting to the firmness of the muscle there. There is the scratch of Cas' stubble against his skin, but that's a good thing.

Dean lets his mouth trail lower, just a little, kissing the point of Cas' jaw. Cas rolls his head, though, exposing his neck, and something hot floods Dean's veins. He isn't sure where this is going, exactly, but he knows his nails are digging into Castiel's skin, and that he's using his teeth to leave little marks along Castiel's throat, and that Cas is making the kinds of sounds that generally mean Dean's in for a whole lot more than second base. Cas brings his foot up and braces it against the fridge, rocking his hips forward in a way that says he's totally on board with where Dean's mind is going.

Which is when the anxiety strikes. Cas is a virgin, right? runs through Dean's mind, quickly followed by: Shit, can he even have sex?

Dean doesn't even notice he's stopped moving until Cas lifts his chin and asks, breathlessly, "All right?"

"I..." Dean's voice is rough and his body is still...uh...ready for launch, but his mind is whirring. "I don't know. Are you?"

"Yes." Castiel says it instantly, matter-of-factly. "What's worrying you?"

Your innocence, Dean thinks, his eyes searching Cas'. He doesn't have to say anything; Cas looks at him and knows.

"Ah." In the blink of an eye, their roles are reversed. Dean is pressed against the fridge, the cold steel pressing uncomfortably against his ass cheeks, and Cas is standing over him, one eyebrow slightly raised. "Better?" His hands are pressed flush against Dean's stomach, and the fingers flex eagerly as he waits.

The swap makes Dean's mind fuzzy in ways he doesn't even want to consider right now. He's had some girlfriends in the past who liked to change it up sometimes, to play around and tie him up and all that kinky shit...but he's never been with anyone who could actually flip-flop like that, to go from sweetly submissive to completely in control in an instant without batting an eye. And damn, is it a turn-on.

"Better," he manages, almost embarrassed by how husky his voice is. (Almost. It's impossible to feel actually embarrassed with Cas looking at him like that, though, like he's something edible- sexy edible, not monster edible.)

"Good," Cas mumbles, and then nobody says anything for a long time. Their mouths are busy with better things, exploring each other with matching insistence. Somehow Dean finds his shirt coming up over his head; in a blur of movement Cas' coat is falling down around his shoulders, and then Dean's shaking fingers are fumbling with the buttons of his shirt.

They're nipping at each other all the while, kissing and biting at every new exposed bit of skin and hissing in turns. It's sloppy in a way that Dean hasn't experienced since he was a stupid kid getting play in the janitor's closet, and it's only amplified by the way they're grinding against each other, Cas' belt buckle jabbing his stomach and his boxers shifting awkwardly. "Cas, Cas," Dean groans, and Cas blissfully ignores him as he shimmies out of his coat the rest of the way and lets it drop to the ground, his mouth working on Dean's collar-bone. "Cas, we've gotta-"

Words aren't working so Dean uses his body to convey the message, and soon enough they tumble to the scratchy motel carpet, Dean on his back and Cas wedged between his legs, his cheeks flush and his eyes bright as he looks down at Dean. "This is an improvement," Cas says with an approving look. His hands seem to be everywhere at once, running down Dean's chest and up his thighs and grabbing at his hips. They're still grinding but the angle's different now, and for the first time that night Dean begins to worry that he might actually come in his pants like a snot-nosed teenager.

Dean's head goes back involuntarily as Cas' hand slides between them and touches, and he can't stop himself moaning out a quiet, breathy, "Fuck, Cas."

"I want to, Dean," Cas whispers, pressing down against him. He kisses the shell of Dean's ear. "May I?"

Dean almost laughs at the formality of it until he really considers the phrasing. His eyes open. Cas is looking down at him with undisguised need, his irises almost completely swallowed by his pupils. He looks so human that Dean's actually taken aback for a second. "You..." He clears his throat and tries again. "You want to..." Nope. He can't say it. Doesn't mean he can't think it, though, and the thought sends electricity dancing across his skin.

Cas nods once. "Yes." He looks down at Dean's body and his eyes soften. "I can ensure it will not hurt you."

There's something very close to panic in Dean's voice as he stammers, "I-I'm not...I don't have any-"

"Trust me," Cas says soothingly. "I know I don't deserve to ask for your trust. But, please. Just trust me."

Dean's heart is beating so loudly he thinks the entire motel must have been woken up by it. "Okay," he says quietly, tipping his head forward imperceptibly. "Okay."

They fumble with the rest of their clothes, still peppering each other with messy kisses. Castiel looks totally debauched, his hair even wilder than usual and his face, throat, and chest flushed pink. "Cas, oh God," Dean pants, and then all the rest of what he might have said dies away in his throat as Castiel takes on a look of serious concentration and slips inside of Dean all the way to the hilt, without any warning or preparation whatsoever.

It hurts worse than almost anything Dean can imagine for about an eighth of second...and then it feels awesome. "Ah," Cas gasps, sliding out a little and then pushing back in again and sending a new wave of fuck yes feelings through Dean's body. "I think I missed a step."

"Prep work, you bastard," Dean cries, his back arching involuntarily. His fingers dig into the carpet; his eyes are squeezed tightly shut.

Castiel leans down and kisses him heatedly, then presses their foreheads together. "Sorry," he mumbles, his breath warm and uneven. He slows down, gentles his strokes. Sitting up again, he shifts so that Dean's legs spread wider (it feels obscene, weirdly enough, but Dean just drapes his arm over his eyes and rolls with it) and Dean's feet go up in the air. Cas takes hold of Dean's ankles and uses them as leverage for his thrusts, varying the depth but keeping the pace slow and steady.

Distantly, Dean's aware of the fact that he's moaning. He's aware of his fist pumping in his lap, too, and the way he's timing every slide of his hand with the slap of Cas' hips against his thighs. It's good- it's so fucking good, so good Dean can barely stand it- and he's so grateful when Cas hastens his thrusts that he actually sobs out, "Yes, please, yes!"

Cas sighs out a reverent, "Dean," and drops a sweet, damp kiss onto the insole of Dean's foot, and that's all it takes. Dean's body tenses and the intense feeling inside him, so unlike the usual build to orgasm, reaches its peak, and then he's gasping and groaning and liquid heat is coating his still-moving fingers.

It feels a little bit like drowning, Dean thinks. He comes out at the other side struggling for breath and shivering. Castiel pushes into him a few more times, roughly, the pacing off, before going still and wide-eyed. "Oh," he says, very softly, and then Dean actually feels it, the warm rush of Castiel cumming inside him. If Dean wasn't in his thirties and a little bit past his prime, that feeling might've gotten him hard all over again.

Cas slides out of him and the feeling makes him grit his teeth and screw up his eyes, but then Cas lays his hand on Dean's stomach and the discomfort disappears, easy as that. They lie together on the motel room floor for awhile, side by side, Cas' arm draped over Dean's. For a long time there's nothing but the sound of them breathing in time with one another and the whir of the cheap mini-fridge.

"Now what?" Dean asks eventually, his voice hushed. There are a lot of unsaid things inside that question, ramifications that worry Dean and frighten him and excite him and leave him warm and cold all at once.

Castiel lets out a breath and stretches lazily. "I believe," he says, with the smallest hint of a smile, "I would like some breakfast."



The room is one he thinks he's never seen before. He's wrong, of course. The woman at the desk looks at him expectantly. "Well, Castiel," she prompts, "what news have you of the Winchester brothers?"

"I have known Dean," Castiel says at once, the words tumbling out of his mouth unbidden. There's a small, private smile playing at his lips. "It was glorious."

A snicker travels around the room, and the assembled angels exchange glances. How quaint, they think, for a being of such power to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh. The woman at the desk clears her throat and the noise dies down. "Anything else?" she asks, quirking her eyebrow.

Castiel takes a breath, and recites from memory every freckle on Dean's body, every wrinkle, every scar. The assembly listens with mixed expressions, ranging from horror to mild distaste. When he's done with his recitation, Castiel folds his hands behind his back and smiles mildly, dreamily.

"Blessed father," one of the angels swears, and it's a testament to everyone's shock that the blasphemy goes unchecked. "The poor idiot's fallen in love."

"He's been in love," another says disparagingly. "The difference is that now the feeling is openly mutual."

The woman considers this for a moment, tapping her nails on the desk. Then she smiles. "Good," she says, surprising the council with her optimism. "This is good." She looks at their stunned faces and laughs. "My dear friends, haven't you learned anything? There is nothing, in all of our Father's creation, more dangerous- more exploitable- than love."

A/N: Just a little something to get us through til Wednesday! Undoubtedly this fic will be wildly AU within a couple of weeks, but hey. It's (hopefully) canon-compliant for now! (If I goofed, I apologize profusely. Just grit your teeth and ignore it, eh?)