Dean pulled a box of stuff out of the attic; sorting through all that was a chore he'd been putting off forever, telling himself that he had to focus all his attention on the shop. That wasn't such a problem anymore and Dean knew it was time, if just so Sam wouldn't have the excuse to rib him about it the next time he visited. Dean didn't know where half these boxes had even come from, although he could tell some dated back from when his father was still running the shop. He even ran across some of his mother's things, probably stored up here so his father could put off dealing with them; Dean folded everything back up carefully and put everything back in its box, deciding they could wait one more day.
He decided to refocus and went to the other side of the attic, where his own stuff was piled up. This Dean had a lot less attachment to and the job went quickly, work stuff in one pile, old school records in another (Dean didn't bother looking at those, he was shocked his father had even saved them.) Things didn't get really interesting until he started sorting through the various things clients had given him over the years. He'd given up years ago trying to figure out the things rich people did with their money, but over the years he and his father had amassed a decent supply of Rich Guy Gifts. Dean wondered if it would be worth calling up Sam and having him walk Dean through selling this stuff online or whether he'd be better off just tossing it all and making a clean sweep.
Dean opened up another box and pulled out a brown trenchcoat, a Christmas gift from some client or another. It actually wasn't that bad a coat, really; it was a little too small for him across the shoulders or Dean might have been tempted to keep it for himself.
Then it occurred to Dean that a coat tight across his shoulders would fit Castiel pretty much perfectly. And it was less than a week until Christmas; Dean didn't know if elves had Christmas but he didn't think that meant Dean couldn't give him anything. God knew Dean owed him a hell of a lot more than one second-hand coat.
And without thinking about it any further Dean put the coat under one arm and headed back down the stairs.
When Sam called on Christmas Eve to say that his flight had been snowed out Dean was almost relieved. Not that he didn't want to see Sam, but that gave him at least one more week to come up with a way to explain what in the hell had been going on in his shop. "Sam, it's cool. Come up for New Year's and don't worry about it."
Sam's frown could be deafening sometimes. "You sure? I don't like to think of you all alone, Dean. I could probably still grab a train..."
If only you knew, Sammy. "Dude. I'm a grown up. I promise you, it's cool. But get your ass here for New Year's, I got a hell of a surprise for you."
Christmas Eve was a hell of a party, even if it took over half an hour to explain to Cas why Dean had dragged a tree into his shop. "So, what do you think of Christmas?" Dean asked, knocking back the last of the fancy wine a client had dropped off that morning.
"I'm fairly certain I've seen more Christmases than you, Dean," he said, quirking an eyebrow as he buffed a scratch from the Impala's door. "I just don't understand the point of most of the popular traditions. Like your hat."
Dean pushed the too-big Santa hat back up over his eyes. "You want it?"
Castiel glared at him over the hood of the car. "No."
He was too easy to tease sometimes. "Dude, knock off work for a few minutes. I got something for you." Castiel gave him another doubtful look and Dean sighed. "Should have kept you tied up the whole night. Five minutes. C'mon."
Castiel stepped away from the car, trailing one hand along it as though if he kept in contact it might count as work. "One minute."
"Fine, fine. It's almost dawn anyway." Dean reached back for the wrapped package on the counter behind him. "Merry Christmas." Castiel frowned at the package for a few moments and Dean couldn't help himself. "You're supposed to open it."
Castiel glared at him again and Dean knew he'd deserved that. He at first unwrapped it so carefully it was as if he expected Dean to reuse the paper later, but he dropped the paper to the floor forgotten when he realized what he was holding. "I...I don't understand."
"I know it's kind of a dumb gift since you don't wear anything but y'know, now you could if you wanted to. You know I was never big on you being forced to look like that. And anyway, I can't use it and I think it would fit you, once you made cut outs for the wings and all."
Castiel's eyes hadn't left the coat, holding it out from him like it was about to catch fire. "But the work isn't finished," he whispered, his voice very small.
Dawn hit before Dean could ask about the strange reaction, Castiel disappearing in a flutter of wings and taking the coat with him. Dean told himself he could just ask about it the next night, shoving aside the stricken look in Cas' eyes and how the memory of that twisted in Dean's stomach.
Castiel didn't appear that night. If he was going to be honest with himself Dean would admit he hadn't expected him to, that look in his eyes couldn't have meant anything else. Dean sat there the whole night anyway, working his way through a fifth of whiskey as cold fury filled up his bones. He'd broken some rule, he knew that had to be it although damned if he could figure out which one it was.
The next night was more of the same, the almost-finished Impala looking at him like an accusation. Dean didn't touch it. Dean didn't touch anything in the shop, letting work pile up as if that would give it some kind of magic power.
After three days Dean knew he would have to get creative if he was going to find a solution.
Dean said the last of the words, an audible shift in the air at the last syllable. As the smoke in the shop cleared Dean grinned when he saw Castiel sitting in the circle he'd drawn on the floor. "Hey, Cas," he said, feeling the smile widen into something vicious. "Been a while."
Castiel got to his feet, shock all over his face. "What did you do?"
Dean showed off ancient book of folklore he'd found at the University library; getting the particular story he'd wanted translated had taken a few days but every cent he'd paid was more than worth it right now. "Catching up on the classics," he said.
"This is dangerous, Dean. Don't do it again, you have no idea what you could summon..."
"I don't care."
Castiel sighed. "That's because you don't know-"
"Cas, I don't care. Satan himself could show up in that circle, I'm willing to risk it. Where the hell have you been?"
"You have no right to be angry with me."
"Like hell I don't."
Castiel strode out of the circle, standing inches from Dean's face. "You dismissed me. I have no say in any of this."
"How the fuck did I 'dismiss' you? On what planet are you on that you think I don't want you here?"
"Do you remember what we spoke about the first day? You offered me clothing and I told you not to, not if you wanted me to finish the work."
"I..." And Dean did remember that, he just hadn't realized. "Why didn't you say how important it was then? How the hell was I supposed to know?"
"We're not supposed to discuss the terms in that kind of detail."
"Yeah, 'cause you always do exactly what you're supposed to, right? Were you hoping I'd slip up like that?"
"How could you ask me that?"
Dean shook his head. "Give the coat back. We'll wipe the slate clean."
"It doesn't work that way. Once I'm dismissed I can't work for the same person. Even if I did work here now it would count as if I'd done nothing. A dismissal is final."
"Why? Who decides that?"
Castiel shook his head, like Dean was the one being unreasonable. "It's just the way things are."
Castiel moved to back away and Dean grabbed his wrist. "Stay anyway."
Cas just pulled away. "I'm not free to make these choices."
"And who decides that? Not fighting, that's a choice too. If I hadn't summoned you, would I have ever seen you again?"
Castiel looked at the floor, his arms crossed as he leaned against the car. "No."
"And you'd be just fine with that, right?"
Castiel shook his head again. "What I feel is immaterial."
"Then why are you still here?" Castiel glanced up at him and Dean closed the distance between them, pinning Cas against the car. "Why didn't you fly your ass out of here second you saw it was me?" Castiel didn't answer and Dean pinned his wrists down to the hood of the car. "For that matter, why are we even still talking about this?" he said, leaning in so close he could feel Castiel breathing. "We both know I could just tie you up and keep you here." That made Castiel's breath catch but the look in his eyes wasn't fear. Or at least, not just fear. "We both know that and you didn't run out the second you could. What does that say about what you want?"
Castiel closed his eyes. "Let me go."
"Make me." Cas didn't answer and Dean leaned closer still, close enough that their lips were all but touching. "Stop me from wrapping that rope around you, dragging you upstairs and tying you to my bed for as long as I want."
"You wouldn't do that."
"You're real fucking sure about that, huh." Dean dug his nails into Castiel's wrists hard enough to make him whimper. It would be so easy and for a second all Dean could think about was Cas stretched out on his bed, there whenever Dean wanted him. No more staying up all night, no more rules to break.
But the moment passed. "I'm done with this," he said, not missing the mingled relief and disappointment in Castiel's eyes, same as when he'd backed off in the back seat of the car. "Get out."
"You summoned me. I thought you wanted me here," Cas said, sounding like he'd entirely lost track of what was happening.
"I do. I...fuck, Cas, I want you here more than almost anything but it's not gonna be because I tied you up and forced you to be here. Or because whoever gives you your marching orders is forcing you to be here. The next time I see you, if that ever happens, it's gonna be because you chose to be here. No other reason."
Castiel's jaw clenched tight. "You don't understand what you're asking."
"Stuff it, Cas. I'm not interested in hearing it anymore."
Dean saw Castiel's eyes go very hard but all he did was nod. "If that's what you wish." Then he disappeared, the wingbeat seeming to echo though the empty room.
Dean told himself the only reason he was sitting in the shop again come midnight was that he wouldn't have been able to sleep anyway. He sat up on one of the parts tables and watched the minute hand tick past the twelve and tried to ignore how his stomach sank into his shoes. He didn't know what the hell he'd been expecting to happen. He tossed his empty beer can into the trash and reached up to turn off the light.
Dean spun around, feeling his heart almost pounding out of his chest. There'd been no familiar wingbeat, no warning sound but there was Castiel standing against the car just as he was every night.
Well, not just the way he was every night: this time Castiel showed up wearing the coat Dean had given him over a dark suit. Even more startling, the familiar wings were gone and when Castiel gave him his patented head tilt of confusion Dean noticed that the tips of his ears were blunted. For the first time since the day they'd met Castiel looked completely human.
All Dean cared about was that he was there. "Hey, Cas," he said, trying to sound casual. Or at least not like he was so relieved he was about to throw up, because that was exactly how he felt. "You, um...look a little different tonight."
Castiel looked down at his suit as if noticing it for the first time. "Did I do something wrong? I don't...have much experience."
"Nah, Cas, you look fine. You look like an accountant, but you look fine." He nodded toward Castiel's missing wings. "What happened to the wings? You still look kind of naked without them."
"I'm no longer bound to you or to anyone else, so I've lost that mark of servitude." For the first time Castiel looked a little uneasy. "If that's a disappointment I under-"
Dean rushed forward and kissed him before he could get out another word. "Cas, man, I like the wings but I like you being right here right now a lot more." Dean straightened his lapel and fixed the knot in the tie. "Would help if you weren't all crooked, though."
Before Dean could even take another breath Castiel shoved him hard against the wall and kissed him like he was never going to let Dean breathe again. When he finally let Dean come up for air he slid his hands past Dean's waistband, letting out a soft sigh. "You've been waiting a long time to do that, huh?" Dean said, wrapping one hand around Castiel's tie to keep him close.
Castiel nodded. "You could say that. That alone was worth this."
This time Dean kissed him, nipping at his lower lip. "So what do you want to do, Cas?"
Castiel smiled. "You keep telling me how much I'd like your bed."
That was music to Dean's ears. "Shame you broke out your nice clothes. You're not gonna be wearing them very long."
They kissed all the way back to Dean's bedroom, losing shoes and Cas' belt and Dean's shirt along the way. Dean let Castiel push him onto the bed, lying back as Cas undid his jeans. "I should torture you for hours the way you did me," he said, kneeling over Dean and running his thumb under Dean's lower lip. "That would serve you right."
"You can do anything you want to me, Cas. Lord knows I've had my way long enough."
"You do have a point," he said, bending down to kiss Dean's lips. "Turn over."
Dean complied, grinning as he stretched out on his stomach. "Jumping right to the main event, huh?"
"Shush," Cas said, making Dean grin again. "I'm working." He felt Cas' fingers trail down his back, quickly followed by Castiel kissing his way slowly down the his spine, lingering just long enough each time for Dean to feel Cas' breath against his skin.
"Jesus, Cas. Just like that." He felt Castiel slide his jeans over his hips and down to the floor, Cas' hands trailing down his skin. He reached back and grabbed hold of Castiel's tie and pulled him down to the bed beside him, starting in on the shirt buttons before losing his patience and tearing the shirt open.
And he wasn't the only one short of patience; he'd barely finished before Cas pulled him down into a messy, deep kiss. "Tell me what you want, Cas."
Castiel's eyes were wide blue pools as he stared down at Dean. "I want to make you scream my name."
Dean turned over again, stretching out again as Cas went back to running his hands over every inch of him. "Let's get to it, then."
Dean startled himself awake, needing a second to realize all of that had really happened. Every inch of him was sore and wrung out and he'd never felt better in his life. He opened his eyes to find Castiel staring at him like Dean was an incredibly fascinating piece of art. "Hey, Cas," he said, rolling a kink out of his neck. "Guess you still don't sleep, huh?"
"Shouldn't have let me sleep, either."
"I've never been able to watch you sleep before. I enjoyed it."
"Weirdo." Dean pulled him closer, hooking one leg around his and wrapping one arm around his waist. Castiel was still naked except for his coat, which he must have slipped back on while Dean was sleeping. "What's with all this?" Dean asked, fingering the sleeve.
"You gave it to me," Cas said, a flush coloring his cheeks.
"Kinky weirdo," Dean said, kissing him to take the sting away. "What time is it, anyway?"
"A few minutes until dawn."
"Hey, happy New Year's Eve, then," Dean said, running his thumb along Castiel's jaw. "Sammy's supposed to be flying in today, wait until he sees you here. Wonder how I should introduce the two of you."
Castiel propped himself up on his elbow, his brow furrowed. "Why would that be an issue?"
"Well, when Sam finds you living here he's gonna have at least a few questions."
"I thought you understood."
Dean just frowned. "Understood what? You don't still have to jet out come dawn, do you?"
"You might say that." Dean felt Castiel's eyes study him. "You don't understand."
"Cas, could you not be cryptic for five seconds?" Which came out harsher than Dean had intended but he could tell something was wrong, Cas' eyes were too wide and his pulse was going too fast.
"Dean, I broke my bonds. I didn't work for an entire night. I chose that. I thought when you wouldn't let me explain it meant you understood."
"The work and the bondage is what allows the dawn to restore us. It creates us anew each day."
"So what happens if you don't do the work? What happens at dawn?"
Castiel kissed him, the touch light and lingering. "We die." The first rays of dawn streaked through the window and Castiel's eyes went wide, his breathing suddenly ragged. He clutched tight onto Dean, kissing him deep for a few long moments. Dean felt him exhale and opened his eyes just in time to see Castiel outlined in white light, the glow erasing the blue of his eyes. When Dean tried to hold onto him his hand passed right though; as the sunlight streamed into the room Dean watched him dissolve into shimmering light and then finally nothing, leaving nothing but empty coat behind.
Content Notes: Character death and dubcon.