He saw it all again in his mind, but saw it clearly this time. Cas not slipping away but pulling away. Telling him to go. Not wanting to come with him. It burned worse than Hell ever could have to see that moment clearly, and to remember Cas calling him "friend" again just a few moments ago.

Dean blinked and was back in the motel room. He took a last swig of bourbon and set the empty glass down. He had to get it together.

Suddenly he was there, and Dean was filled with the same momentary mixture of relief and near-heart-attack that always accompanied Cas's arrival.


"Hello, Dean."

Dean's heart nearly melted at the sound, as always. That familiar, slightly formal greeting in a slightly graveled voice, and a look on his face like he was trying to understand Dean's. Like he was trying to read him.

Dean poured another finger of bourbon and downed it while he tried to think of something to say. All he could think of was how thankful he was that Cas was here. And how he shouldn't be, considering the guy had abandoned and rejected him and lied to him when it counted. And thinking he deserved to stay there... Suddenly he realized Cas was talking...He had to call him Cas even in his mind. The way he thrilled to the power inherent in his full true name, Castiel, was just stupid...

"...So Sam went with them to meet Garth, and should be back tomorrow afternoon... Dean, are you alright?"

"Yah, 'course."

"Dean, you're crying."

Suddenly Dean realized the tears he'd been just holding back had sprung free. This was ridiculous. He turned around and wiped his face, but he couldn't totally stop them.

"Dean, what's wrong? Are you hurt?"

It was just them here. No one to fight off, nowhere to run to. He sighed, and gave in.

"No, Cas. You just... you just gave me a hell of a shock. All this time I thought... and then you somehow know I thought it was my fault. And then it turns out it's even worse."

"Worse?" Castiel took a small step toward Dean and knew his face was confused and angry. Dean was looking at him, trying to guardedly watch and judge his every word.

This poor, hurting man. He was so strong, but only because he'd been through so much. Of course he was wary. As always Castiel noticed how beautiful he was, even when he was hurting, but tried to politely put those thoughts away.

"Dean, you taught me to make my own choices, to stand firm in the face of what's easy but wrong. I knew what I needed to do, and you made me strong enough to do it. Perhaps in spite of yourself this time- I'm sorry. All of this, all of it, was for you. Because of you. And I'm grateful." Dean rolled his eyes, clearly thinking this was a cop out.

So Castiel spoke plainly. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you I planned to stay in Purgatory. That's part of why I didn't want to find you, I knew you'd try to save me, and that I'd be tempted to let you. To stay with you."

Dean tried not to hear that last part, he couldn't let go of his anger just yet or the fear would come back.

He had been nearly suicidal when he thought he let Cas down, and now he didn't know how to feel.

"Then why the hell did you leave me and chicken out? What the hell, man? How could you do that to me? I thought you were better than that. I've earned better than that from you."

"Dean, I told you, I needed to stay." Castiel sighed. He considered the man standing in front of him. He again pushed down everything Dean stirred in him, but answered him more honestly and continued, "I gave you up as penance for holding you too closely. You needed to fight for someone beside yourself, you always do. And I let you fight for me in there. But that's not the only thing you have to give, Dean. And I don't know how I got out, but I know that I feel more purely myself now." Castiel looked down and took a deep breath before taking a step toward Dean, and once again lightly taking his shoulder.

"And I know that I will be with you and help you however you need. I didn't leave you. I didn't reject you."

Dean jerked away as he looked up in shock that Cas seemed to know he had been thinking just that, yet again. How dare he? It made him want to punch the angelic son of a bitch, and punch him hard. He remembered how that went the last time, though.

"You ass!" he screamed instead, stepping away to reach for his glass and throw it at the floor.

"Dean!" Cas yelled even louder. Then adding more softly, "Not everything has to be a fight." He kept his distance, seemingly ready to blip away if Dean got any more violent.

Dean was overcome. Cas was here, looking as strong and powerful and flawless as ever. Strong enough to be gentle- the kind of power Dean would never admit he found magnetic. And Cas was here, not blaming him for any of it. That intense look on his face, those eyes that saw more than he could imagine. And he was acting like a child. Maybe to Castiel he was like a child.

Dean hung his head, and took a small step toward Castiel. "I'm sorry," he almost mumbled, tears ready to spring again.

The next thing he knew, Dean felt two large, strong, strangely soft hands on either side of his face. Hands that were strong enough to beak his face, holding it like the most precious thing in all of Earth and Heaven. He was startled for only a moment, instinctively reacting to the danger of being held still, then couldn't help reveling in the feeling. The warmth, the intimacy.

When he could finally look up, he was looking straight into Castiel's eyes. He was truly Castiel now, in all his glory, and still so gentle. Castiel was looking at him with an intensity he'd never seen before. Like he was trying to communicate something directly through his eyes into Dean's.

Then slowly Dean felt Castiel pull his face forward, as he placed the softest, gentlest of kisses on his forehead. Castiel couldn't stop himself. He gave Dean his fullest blessing, with all the power of Heaven at his command. In all his millions of years, he never thought he'd find another being worth giving that to, who would need it. And now there was no question. All of his love and protection, a piece of his grace, a piece of his very celestial existence, poured from his own soul into Dean's as he held him there, relishing every bit of the large feeling and intimate contact.

Dean didn't know what he felt, but it was beautiful. He felt a little more whole, safer, lighter, protected, calm. His tears fell freely, then stopped as the warmth washed through his entire being. He understood what it was suddenly- Castiel's blessing.

He also still felt the intensity and excitement from where Castiel's lips still rested on his forehead. A feeling came over him he certainly had tried not to associate with Cas, and had never ever felt with any man.

Too soon Castiel's lips were gone, though his hands still held Dean's face. He lifted it, and Dean instinctively raised his own hands to touch Castiel's face as well. He scarcely knew what he was doing. But he couldn't stop himself from stroking the strangely soft skin under that little bit of stubble. Taking in the little lines around his eyes and endearingly furrowed brow. His youthful but eternal cheeks that were strangely warm.

And finally his mouth. Those large, expressive lips, always either large soft pillows or screwed up in consternation. Almost of it's own will, Dean's thumb ran over Castiel's lips.

Castiel saw Dean examining his own face, saw him trying to resist feelings growing stronger every moment. And Castiel felt desire suddenly merge with the pure love he'd always had for Dean. It was a feeling that he'd never felt before knowing Dean, and no movies could have prepared him for the need, the flaring heat of it. Now in full force, it was all he could do to restrain himself.

In the end he needn't have tried. Before he knew what was happening, Dean's mouth was crashing down on Castiel's, claiming his lips. Dean poured all of his relief and pent up love into the kiss, silently begging him to never leave him again while knowing that was probably impossible. Castiel couldn't stop kissing him harder and harder, not even worrying if he would hurt him. All of the past resentments, all of the past hurts and lack of faith, he finally, truly let all of it go in that kiss.

Castiel slid his hands into Dean's hair, securing Dean's face to his own as Dean deepened the kiss. One of Dean's hands went around to Castiel's neck, just under his jaw. The other ran down around his back, holding his entire body fast.

Dean still hardly knew what he was doing, but he kept going. Kissing Cas didn't feel weird the way kissing a man should have. He'd never had any attraction to men, but was Cas even technically a man? Well his body was. For all his calling the angels 'junkless', apparently he'd been wrong, at least in this case.

That was just fine.

Dean couldn't stop touching Cas, though he stilled for a moment when Castiel's tongue first, tentatively, entered his mouth. Their tongues dueled at first in a display of mock dominance. But then their tongues and lips caressed each other, barely ever even leaving room for air.

One of Castiel's hands came around Dean's neck, resting just above the collar of his shirt, his thumb shyly stroking the bit of skin there. Without wasting a moment, being a man of action, Dean's hands were at Castiel's collar, loosening his already ever-slack tie. That inside-out, backward tie had sometimes amused him and sometimes annoyed him- a baby in a trench coat. But before he could think to look at it it was gone, and Castiel was shrugging out of his jacket, only to return to the buttons of Dean's shirt.

Dean undid the top few buttons of Castiel's shirt as well. He let out a breathy almost-laugh at Cas bothering to wear a tshirt, and Castiel almost groaned that Dean had another layer. Dean broke their kiss to quickly, almost violently, pull up on Cas's tshirt, then stared at what was beneath. He looked between Castiel's chest and eyes, refusing their question, refusing to lose his nerve.

Castiel's chest was fair and soft-skinned, with only a little smattering of light brown hair. But the muscles below were steel, reacting to Dean's lightest touch as he traced the planes of his chest. He looked back to Castiel's eyes again, but didn't actually ask out loud- where was the scar that should have been there? The sigil that he had carved into his own body to save Dean. Cas seemed to sense his question as Dean's hand continued to lightly roam the expanse of his chest, and smirked to one side. He'd been restored to all his perfect glory, but he remembered.

Castiel's hand suddenly came down over Dean's and held it tight to where his own had pressed to banish the angels. When Dean looked back into Cas's eyes, the hunger he saw there made him forget everything but the here and now.

With a feral look and darkened eyes, Cas went to lift off Dean's tshirt, but ripped it down the middle in the process. Dean looked down, shocked, but Cas was staring at his chest. Dean couldn't help puffing up and flexing a little under the attention. His chest was smooth and his muscles large and obvious, strong and always ready for the next fight, the next adventure.

Castiel placed his hand in the center of Dean's chest like he had on his own, and Dean covered it with his own hand. Then Dean was kissing him, hard, walking them back until Castiel's back slammed against the wall.

Dean reached down and took both of Castiel's hands, linking their fingers and pressing into them, palm and fingers so fast they were nearly merged. He pushed Castiel's hands and entire body harder against the wall as this long-restrained passion finally poured out of both of them. Their bare chests and entire bodies strained and pressed against each other. The skin to skin contact was like nothing Castiel had ever felt. Like nothing Dean had ever imagined.

They kissed fiercely, hands roaming everywhere. Every inch pressed into each other as hard as possible. Dean could feel Castiel becoming impressively hard and thick against his thigh. And Castiel could feel Dean's strong erection digging into his hip harder and harder. It was all nearly too much there and then. As Castiel's hands came up Dean's chiseled back and came around his powerful shoulders, he felt it. The scar from his own hand gripping him tight and raising him.

He stopped cold and stared at it. He blanched at the sight, and the memory of all the pain Dean suffered, some of it at his own hands. He remembered with shame that he humbled Dean by telling him he couldn't perceive his true form, that he could send him back to Hell. Carefully, lightly, he laid his hand over the scar, his fingers lining up perfectly with the grip mark.

"Oh Dean," he said with a catch in his throat. "Wait," he said more clearly, "let me just..."

"No," Dean interrupted. "I like it. It's a reminder."

Castiel had never felt such a depth of love for one being, and had never imagined desire could be so fierce. It was all he needed to hear. All hesitation and question left him as he moved with resolve and impossible speed. Before Dean could blink his pants, boxer-briefs, shoes, and socks were all gone, and Cas was stepping out of the last of his.

Dean was thrown only for a moment at seeing Cas completely naked, and being completely naked. He tried to ignore the urge to check the shutters and doors were closed, but all was locked and covered. When he finally allowed himself to take in the sight of Castiel, he was even more beautiful. His toned legs and powerful hips, his strangely boyish features and strong muscles, and even more impressive erection. He was literally glowing in his passion, a soft white light making everything around him strong, and peaceful, and perfect.

Castiel was busy looking at every inch of Dean. His legs chiseled by running and climbing, with only a light covering of hair. His strong thighs giving way to defined and narrow hips. His thick powerful erection bobbing slightly in anticipation. Every inch of him was perfect.

Castiel came at him with purpose, grabbing his head again to kiss him hard, Dean's arms coming around Cas's back to hold him fully flush against him. Dean had never felt anything so perfect in his life. No one, not even Lisa, had felt so right and complete against him. It was like an electric current had come to life, waking up every inch of his being. Castiel felt that same energy, his long ago thoughts about having a bond with Dean returning to him to make perhaps literal sense now.

Without letting even an inch between them, Dean moved them to his bed, where he pulled Castiel down on top of him.

Castiel had never felt anything so strong as the moment he fell on top of Dean, his tongue still in the hunter's mouth, hands grabbing his hips so tight to his own. He had very little idea how to do what they were doing, but he couldn't care. He was ravenous for him.

Dean's hands were everywhere, grabbing and squeezing Cas's ass, rubbing up his back muscles, fisting in his hair. Anything to get more of him. When Cas's knee came up around his waist, Dean couldn't help the groan that pulled his mouth away from their kiss. Cas's cock pressed hard into his hips next to his own, and the friction made Dean need more.

Castiel watched Dean's head fall back in pleasure, and felt himself grow even harder at the vision of heat and abandon in front of him. At Dean finally letting go and letting himself feel so much. He leaned up and regarded Dean as he pressed into him harder, then raised one hand to gently cup his stubbled, muscular jaw once again. Dean immediately leaned into the touch, loving the feel of it, turning his head ever so slightly to kiss the heel of Cas's hand. The very hand that had raised him from perdition, nearly choked him in rage, and had always been there to heal him. Almost.

Castiel felt tears pricking his own eyes at the depth of his feeling for Dean, this overwhelming passion. As his free hand grabbed Dean's hip and his neck stretched in torturous pleasure, Castiel's didn't hesitate to reach down and take his Adam's apple in his mouth. But just as Dean was breathing hard from the attention, Cas pulled away.

"Dean, your heart is pounding so fast. Is that... is that supposed to happen?"

"Yah, Cas. You should feel yours..." With that Dean reached between them, ran his hand up the length of Castiel's hard cock, and squeezed it gently, feeling the strong pulse there.

Castiel's eyes fell closed, his mouth working without sound. Dean had never seen him quite so adorable or quite so sexy. Now it was his turn to suck at Cas's neck. He moved fervently tasting every inch of soft skin he could reach, first of his neck, then of his strong shoulders. Cas's hand fisted in Dean's hair as he went, driving Dean wild as he sucked back and forth across Cas's clavicle. He was so strong and firm under all his layers. Dean's hand was still lightly stroking Cas between them, alternating between firmly grasping him, and light touches to learn the size and shape of him. He was long, and thick, and cut. Dean marveled at feeling of satin-covered iron.

Just as Dean traced a droplet coming from Cas's tip with his finger, Castiel's hand moved to Dean's own aching cock. Dean almost jumped in pure pleasure as Cas's hand closed firmly around him. Cas's hand moved slowly, tenderly up his hard length, learning the feel of every inch of him. Dean instinctively bucked into Cas's hand, unable to stop the motion of his hips. One hand came up to pull Cas's lips back to his own in a searing, hard kiss. The other went lower, feeling Cas's balls, enjoying the weight of them in his fingers.

Cas groaned into their kiss as Dean's hands dipped even lower. Castiel brought his legs further apart, giving Dean access. Dean trailed his fingers once more up Cas's painfully hard cock, coating the tips of his fingers in the sweet liquid he found there. Then he once more lowered his hand and carefully inserted one, then two fingers into Cas's entrance.

Cas shuddered in pleasure, and Dean was shocked to find himself loving this feeling so much. He was growing even harder by the second. He maneuvered a bit and slid a third finger into Cas, loving the feeling of Cas nearly rutting against him now, trying to control himself. He couldn't hold out any longer.

Without warning, Dean flipped them over, kissing Cas fiercely. Castiel was happy to be led by Dean in this moment. He loved the feeling of security of being held in Dean's strong arms, to let this tiny but fierce being take care of him. Castiel grabbed at Dean's back, then pulled back suddenly to regard Dean.

Again Dean felt like Cas was looking into his very soul. But instead of looking confused or concerned, the Angel's face was flushed and intense in a whole different way. The look in his eyes and heavy breaths were nearly too much, and when Cas gave a small nod, that was all he needed.

Dean pushed Cas's strong thighs further apart and up alongside his chest. And has he looked deeply into Castiel's eyes again, thinking of nothing but all his love and passion for him, he slowly lined himself up and entered Castiel.

Dean could hardly contain himself at the perfect feeling of Cas surrounding him, and squeezing him. Castiel arched into the feeling, but refused to close his eyes. His hand went to his own cock and stroked it slowly as Dean pushed into him even further, until he was completely sheathed inside him. Castiel had never imagined he could feel so complete, or so aroused beyond control.

As Dean pulled slowly partially out, he leaned up. And as he thrust back in, he replaced Castiel's hand with his own, his other hand gripping Cas's thigh tight. As Dean pulled and thrust in and out, harder and harder, Castiel spread his hands over his chest again. He fingered the sigil tattoo on Dean's chest, wishing he could tell him just how sorry he was that anything like that was necessary. How he couldn't blame him for being a little gruff when he bore it all so beautifully.

The adoring, emotional look on Cas's face undid him. He pounded into Castiel as hard as he could. He fell forward, supporting himself on his arms, kissing Cas hard on his lips, his eyelids, his neck, his chest, everywhere. As he moved, Cas's flushed and ready cock was trapped between their bodies, being pulled and rubbed with every movement of Dean's body.

Castiel could feel the friction driving him to the edge, his whole body coiling tighter and tighter. Dean was pistoning in and out of him now, and he knew he was close as well. At the last moment, Castiel, grabbed Dean's face once again and joined their lips in a kiss full of absolute need and devotion.

Dean felt himself slamming to to Castiel's tightness, ready to explode from the heat and perfection of it. When Cas took his face and kissed him, he returned it reverently. Suddenly he was overcome. Finally he thrust hard and full into Castiel and felt surrounded by a white hot light as he came, jerking and spurting hard into Cas. His own yells were swallowed by Castiel's mouth as Cas pressed up and came hard against his hip, bucking into him as his orgasm raged through him.

Breathing hard, sweaty, unable to think, unable to be anything but completely close to Castiel, Dean collapsed onto him, finally slipping free. Castiel was barely able to breathe or move yet himself. He brought his arms up around Dean's back and held him there, looking down at him and feeling once again amazed at this beautiful creature that was so strong in his mortal weakness, and who elicited all of his own compassion and gentleness.

Without a word he kissed the top of Dean's head, and comforted his exhausted body. For the first time that Dean could ever remember, he felt completely cared for, whole, and at peace. Castiel felt, finally, at home.

Hours later, Dean and Castiel lay tangled in Dean's bed, watching the sun nearly set through the top of the window. Castiel was propped up against the headboard, Dean's head resting on his shoulder as he dragged his hand over Castiel's abdomen. Castiel's palm smoothed over Dean's thigh, laying between his own, considering every inch of him.

When Dean looked up, what he saw in Castiel's eyes made him sit up a little more fully in concern.

"I love you," Castiel said without preamble.

Dean nodded and started to look away. But then he changed his mind. He decided to be stronger than he had been.

"I... I love you." In the end that was the only honest thing there was to say.

In her office up in Heaven, Naomi made a phone call. "We can't touch him now," she spat into the receiver. She hung up, and, for now at least, left Castiel and Dean to what fate they would drag themselves into.