The moment his eyelids strained and beckoned him to give into the pull of the mattress and pillow beneath him, he called out.
"What's up, Cas?"
Dean looked up from the small circular table in the corner of the hotel room. The hunter was scrawling through the pile of newspaper articles that Sam had left with him. Every so often he took a break from the finger tapping on the table top, the paper cuts, and licking his fingertips to scroll quickly through paper corners, to instead unscrew a cool bottle cap and bring the glass to his lips in a liquidized form of relief. Not once, however, did he take his eyes off the articles in front of him. Not when Sam called, not when he drank, not when a car beeped it's horn so loud at a passer by that even Castiel jumped a small bit. Not until, however, Castiel said a word, his name, for the first time in the four hours that they had been sat there.
"I'm tired, Dean."
"So am I, Cas. But this case ain't gonna solve itself!" Dean smiled softly at the angel, and brought the bottle up to his lips again and swallowing slowly. Castiel felt like he was under study, just like the articles on the table, because Dean's eyes were fixed on him and were refusing to move. "Feel free to kip on my bed. Wouldn't touch Sammy's though, he's a bit funny about fresh sheets and getting in to a warm bed. I dunno." Dean shrugged, turning back to the table, placing the bottle down on a small square of space and returning to the article again.
"Dean." Castiel stood this time, making his presence a little more known.
"Cas. Come on." Dean sighed this time, his voice slightly rougher, catching in his throat. "I gotta find out where this son of a bitch was buried, man! I know you're bored and can't flutter off to god knows where, but Sam'll do his nut if he comes back and finds me sleeping on the job." Dean turned back to Cas
"I'm not asking you to sleep, Dean." Cas sighed, circling his vision around the small hotel room, thinking of the correct words to say as to not allow for Dean to, well, freak out, as he had been doing recently whenever something was wrong with Castiel.
He looked down at his feet, at the burgundy carpet stained with cigarette ashes, vomit, and other forms of bodily fluids he didn't want to know the story behind. He eyes trailed to the walls where the broken clock hung, it's red second hand continuing to tick but the minute and hour hands refusing to abide by time's rules. Castiel sighed. Surely if a mechanical clock, running only on batteries and the assembly by an old man in a backstreet shop, decided it no longer wanted to follow laws, then Castiel could do the same?
"I'm saying that I'm tired. I want to sleep." Cas looked to the ceiling, spotting a spider crawling towards its web, probably to eat, or perhaps to sleep – because that's what normal, mortal beings do. "I've never slept before, Dean."
"Oh." Dean placed his hand on the papers on the table, moving them about slightly as though trying to tidy them, before standing up, placing his hands on his hips. "Oh." Dean scratched at his stubble with one of his hands, his tongue flickering out to lick his lips in thought. "Well there's nothing to it really, Cas."
"Really?" Castiel tilted his head, looking surreptitiously towards Dean. "Does it not cause you pain?"
"No!" Dean scoffed, "Why would it?"
"I've watched you sleep. Sam as well, of course." Castiel stated. "You move a lot in your sleep. Sometimes you talk, and I wonder who exactly you're talking to." Dean shuffled uncomfortable, tipping his body weight slowly from side to side, stuffing his hands into his jean pockets. "Then you've screamed before. You've woken yourself up, and I've had to flee before you saw me."
"You watch us sleep? Little bit twilight creepy that is, Cas."
Castiel just nodded. "I like to protect you when you're most vulnerable. Closing your eyes just to sleep seems rather counterproductive when you're trying to save the world from death and destruction."
Dean smiled, relaxing his stance slightly and stepping closer towards Castiel. "Sleeping's great, Cas. You have like hours – well, for us only a few hours – but these hours are away from all this crap that we deal with. You relax. Your muscles relax. Everything sort of…regenerates." Dean placed a soft hand on Castiel's arm. "Now tuck yourself under the covers, and catch yourself a few hours kip, okay?" He slapped Castiel's arm gently, still smiling at the new, fallen angel. "Nothing'll happen. I'll protect you for once, okay?"
Castiel started back towards Dean's roughly-made bed (the pillows still had Dean's head-print in them, and the cover was thrown over asymmetrically, half of it trailing on the floor. Unlike Sam's whose cover was tucked in under the mattress, and the pillow was freshly plumped), before turning back to Dean who was once again sat at the table, eyes darting between the black and white lines of the olden newspapers. "What if something happens to you?"
"Nothing's gonna happen, Cas." Cas furrowed his brows at Dean's prediction. "If it does, I'll wake you with some high pitched screams, okay?" Dean lowered his eyes, giving Castiel a look that the angel hated to disagree with. "Take that damned coat off before you get in, you'll be much more comfortable."
"Comfortable? What has comfort got to do with regeneration?"
Dean laughed to himself slightly, tipping his head back, "Just trust me, Cas."
Cas frowned, before slipping the trench coat off and laying it on Sam's bed next to him. He slid under the covers, basking himself in Dean's scent and pulling the bed covers around him. He felt his eyelids flutter and remembered what Dean said about relaxing, allowing them to shut fully and swallow his eyes in darkness. He faintly heard Dean's voice in the background of his mind talking to him, before he slipped out of consciousness and into the new experience of sleep.
"I'll wake you up in a couple of hours, Cas. Sleep well."
He was running away. He could feel the beast's breath ice the back of his neck, and its claws tickle his spine. He squinted his eyes, wishing to whip away into the night, wishing to arrive somewhere safer. But he couldn't. An angel cannot fly if they have no wings. So he tried to run. Yet his legs refused to move and his feet stayed planted to the ground. He could almost feel roots reaching up through the earth and wrapping themselves around the roofs of his feet, clinging so tight that they were almost dragging him back down under the dirt.
His muscles ached, muscles he had never had the misfortune of tiring before.
Reaching forward, he outstretched his hands, looking for something to grab, looking for something to wrap his fingers around to pull him along the mysterious tunnel which he could see no way out of.
He tried to look behind him, tried to capture an image of the beast chasing him down this continuum, but with his first effort his neck snapped back round, forcing his eyes to only see the constant in front of him. He could hardly blink, and tears were flickering out of his eyes and onto his cheeks. He tried to scream, not even thinking about forming words, just about throwing sound out into the open distance before him. His throat fell hoarse after bare seconds of trying, though his vocals failed him as his screams came out as silence.
He wanted to die. He wanted it to stop. He wanted to be able to run, to be able to blink, and to be able to scream, or else to just do nothing at all. He squinted his eyes as a shape appeared before him.
He could see the hunter in front of him as he slowly faded into his existence, but his fingertips barely brushed the lapels of the mans jacket. Castiel tried calling out his friend's name, but once again no words abided by his beckoning. He kept trying, his throat burning like fire and his tongue aching as much as his legs.
He felt his body shake. He could feel someone grabbing onto his arms, but when he looked Dean was still just an arms length too far away from him. He felt a slap on the cheek, and another shake of his torso, and Castiel tried and failed to scream once more.
"Dammit, Cas!" Castiel's eyes flew open, and as they focussed he saw Dean leaning over him. He felt pressure on his arms and realised Dean was grabbing him.
"Dean." He stated, his eyesight still falling a little fuzzy. He tried to sit up, but felt a strong hand on his chest.
"Cas, you're not going anywhere." Dean gently pushed Castiel onto his back again before standing up and walking over to the fridge.
Castiel ran a hand through his hair, trying to remember what had just happened. "Where was I?"
Dean spun round, one eyebrow raised. "You were here, Cas. Whole time."
"No…" Castiel sat up slowly, watching Dean frown as he did so. "I was running somewhere. A tunnel!"
"You were just having a nightmare, Cas." Dean chuckled, and suddenly Castiel felt very small, swallowed up in Dean's bed sheets with his smiling face looking down at him.
"Oh." Castiel looked down at his lap, suddenly feeling very foolish as his cheeks blazed red under Dean stare. Dean took a seat on the edge of his bed, facing Castiel.
"That was your nightmare then? You were running?"
Castiel nodded. "But I wasn't running. I was stuck." Dean just nodded, taking a silent sip from his beer. "You were there."
Dean smiled, tilting his head momentarily. "I was wondering why you were shouting my name, y'know." He winked, and Castiel felt his cheeks burn even brighter.
Dean nodded. "That's why I woke you. Thought something was wrong."
"Yeah. Told you that I'd protect you for once, didn't i?"
Castiel nodded, smiling at Dean. "I'm sorry, Dean."
"What for?" He lifted the beer to his lips again, taking a long swig and swallowing it down before sighing.
"Over reacting. About a small nightmare-"
Dean stood, waving his hand and swatting away Castiel's apology. "We all have them. Some more than others." Dean scoffed. "Shoulda heard Sammy in his sleep after Jess died. Killed me listening to him wake himself up from his own screams."
"I don't like sleeping." Castiel threw the sheets off himself, and swung his legs round, standing up and grabbing his trench coat from Sam's bed.
"You gotta sleep some time." Dean affirmed, putting his beer on the small table where the newspaper sheets were still spread across.
"Well, I don't want to."
"You don't exactly have a choice, Cas."
"Yes I do." Cas looked around at the hotel room. "How many nights will we be staying here?"
"Er…" Dean stalled, "Just the one more. Sam called. He managed to burn that freak's bones. So we'll be heading out of town tomorrow morning."
Castiel nodded, "So I will just stay away tonight and sleep in the car tomorrow. There're only two beds, anyway. And I've just slept for a while today. You can sleep."
"Don't be stupid, Cas. You were only out 45 minutes. And you can't sleep in the car. The back seats are as uncomfortable as rock hard ground." Dean walked over to Cas, "You'll never sleep with my driving anyway. And I can't have you falling asleep on the job." Dean folded his arms, and Cas watched as his face scrunched up in thought, as though his brain was ticking over which words to use to correctly form an appropriate sentence. It was a few long seconds before Dean spoke again. "We'll just have to share."
It had been a long day and Castiel appreciated it when Sam didn't question anything when Dean patted the space next to him, inviting Castiel to sleep next to him. Castiel assumed perhaps Dean had explained the situation to his younger brother, and Castiel felt rather embarrassed at the concept of the situation.
"Night, Sammy." Dean called out. Sam didn't answer, only responded with a repetitive cycle of snores. "Jerk." Dean laughed, if only to himself. Castiel hovered by the foot of Dean's bed and watched as the hunter stripped off his bottoms, leaving him only in black boxers and a plan grey t-shirt. His stomach flipped inside of him when Dean turned and smiled at him. "You can't sleep standing up, Cas." He patted the space next to him once again. "It's just sleep." Dean smiled, reassuring his angel.
Castiel nodded, shrugging off his trench coat and turning to hang it on the chair. He heard a few springs squeak behind him and felt Dean's hand on his shoulder. He spun around, facing the hunter, and with the darkness of the room Castiel was glad he stood so close otherwise he wouldn't have been able to see him.
"Take your damned tie off, Cas. Time to relax." Dean handled the striking blue tie, whipping it from around Castiel's neck and folding it over the chair on top of his trench coat. Dean smiled. "Take a few layers off man, or you'll never sleep." He turned away and slipped back into bed, facing the middle and giving Castiel the privacy he needed as he stripped down to just his boxers and a white under-tee. He shivered, standing once again by the foot of Dean's bed. "Get in." He heard Dean mumble, his face pressed into the pillow. Castiel nodded, mostly to himself and he walked round the side of Dean's bed and sat down tentatively. He rocked to his side slowly and allowed his head to hit the pillow, before sliding his legs under the quilt too.
Dean reached an arm behind him and grabbed the corner of the quilt and proceeded to throw it over both of them. His arm lingered, flung over Castiel's body, only the quilt separating them from an embrace.
"You okay, Cas?" Dean whispered, his breath warming Castiel's neck. Castiel subconsciously decided he preferred Dean's breath on his neck, than the nightmare beasts. He just nodded in answer, his breath hitched in his throat. "Nothing's gonna harm you, Cas. Just sleep."
Cas nodded again, watching as Dean's fingertips curled around the quilt tightening his hold slightly. Dean shuffled his head into the pillow, resulting in his body moving closer to Castiel's, but Castiel appreciated the warm it provided him. Castiel slowly moved his hands so they were peeping out of the quilt, holding onto the edges, barely millimetres away from Dean's.
Castiel smiled as he felt Dean relax into him, and heard him breath softly. In…out…in…out. With every breath inwards Dean's chest rose, placing soft pressure on Castiel's back, and with every breath outwards the warmth left him though the comfort stayed with the feeling of Dean's arm slumped over his body.
Castiel wasn't sure of the precise moment, but he soon drifted into a deep sleep. He wasn't sure of the precise moment that Dean's fingertips covered his either, he was just glad that they did.
Dean could feel his heart pounding so hard he was frightened that there was a possibility that it could burst straight out of his rib cage. Yet he kept running.
He followed the flicker of light in front of him, and the whip of a brown coat. He threw his hand gun to the side, no longer feeling a threat. He felt a smile stretch throughout his face and his muscles relax as he began to slow down. He reached out to the figure standing in front of him. He recognised it. It was the right height, and the right stance, and definitely the right trench coat.
"Cas?" He touched the figures back and it whipped round to face him, a smile meeting his eyes.
"Why were you running?" Dean doubled over, his hands on his thighs, catching his breath. He was getting too old for this running business.
"I don't know." Castiel tilted his head, looking at Dean with a questioning look in his eyes. "Just to see if you would follow me."
"Well I have." Dean scoffed. "Had me running all over town, following you."
Dean stalled for a moment, "I don't know."
"Why would you run over town for me?" Castiel questioned. Though his questions were blunt, a kind look glazed over his eyes.
"I just would."
"The same reason why you'd stay behind on a job, to protect me?"
"The same reason why you'd let me share your bed, just so I could get some sleep?" Castiel asked.
Dean nodded. "Yeah. Yeah I guess."
"When was the last time you had a dream, Dean?" Castiel smiled.
"I don't know, Cas. What's with the questions?"
"What about a nightmare?" Castiel ignored Dean's questions, instead throwing his own back at the hunter.
Dean shrugged his shoulders, though from the look of his face Castiel didn't accept that as an answer. "Every night." Dean spoke, a rough voice escaping his lips. "Every night since Mum burned on Sammy's ceiling."
"And tonight?" Castiel wondered, his trench coat whipping in a sudden breeze, and his tie flipping over his shoulder.
Dean shrugged. "How would I know?"
Castiel smiled. "Because this is the first dream you've had in over twenty years."
"I'm in a dream? Dammit, Cas! We've spoken about you infiltrating my dreams, man! It's pure creepy! Worse than twilight creepy!"
Cas frowned, shaking his head. "I'm not in your dream. Not really. I can't do that anymore. Remember?"
"So who are you?"
"Just part of your dream. Part of your subconscious. Part of you."
His eyes flew open as he squinted into the darkness. He felt something tickled his nose, and before moving back abruptly he remembered why there was someone lying next to him. It took him a few moments to reel through memories of a few hours ago to remember he hadn't ended up in a strangers bed after a few too many drinks. No, instead he was sober and it was his own bed, and it was Castiel.
He scrunched his nose, Castiel's hair still tickling it, but still sighed contently. He lifted his head slightly to look down at Castiel's face. It was the first time Dean had seen Castiel so relaxed, and he wondered if Castiel had ever had the opportunity to just do nothing for at least a couple of hours. Dean felt sad at the thought that he probably hadn't.
Dean shuffled his feet slightly, and noticed his legs were tangled amongst Castiel's. He wasn't sure whose leg was whose, or whether it was his foot he was itching, but he didn't particularly mind either.
Castiel stirred in his sleep, rolling over slightly towards Dean. His face turned towards Dean, resting gently on the hunter's shoulder. Dean smiled as his eye gaze followed his arm to where his hand was tangled in amongst Castiel's fingers. He wasn't sure when that happened, but he was glad that it did. He stroked a single knuckle on the fallen angel's hand with his thumb and smiled when he saw Castiel's lips turn into a sleepy smile.
Careful not to wake him, Dean shuffled his body slightly around Castiel's allowing his head to stay on his shoulder, and their hands and legs to tangle together before his mind flickered back to the dream he had. It was true, what the Castiel in his dream had told him, that it was the first dream the hunter had had since his Mother had died. Every other sleeping experience was made up of nightmares and worry. He looked down at the sleeping man curled up against his shoulder and wondered how simply just his presence managed to calm him, even in his sleep. Dean smiled to himself at the thought of convincing Sam that only having two beds in every hotel they went to with Cas would be fine.
"Dean…" Cas mumbled against Dean's shoulder and his eyes slowly peeled open. In seconds, Dean made the decision to not pretend that he was asleep and he was glad that he did. He didn't want to close his eyes and miss the sleepy expression on Castiel's face. "Why are you not asleep?"
"I woke up." Dean whispered back. "Sorry, did I wake you?"
"I could sense someone looking at me." Cas stated, shuffling his body slightly, moving in closer to Dean subconsciously.
"Guilty." Dean smirked, feeling his cheeks blush.
"Did you have a nightmare?" Castiel asked softly, keeping his voice low as to not wake Sam.
Dean shook his head, "Just a dream." Dean smiled, looking down at Cas. "A nice dream." Castiel smiled back, holding Dean's gaze. "You comfortable enough, Cas?" Dean motioned down to their position; legs and arms interlocked, and heads to close together that Dean could almost hear Cas' thoughts.
"Only if you are?" Dean watched as a shy blush spread across Castiel's cheeks, his emotion raw on his face.
"Yeah." Dean smiled. "I am. Let's go back to sleep." Castiel nodded, closing his eyes and snuggling his head into Dean's neck. Dean softly pressed a kiss to Castiel's forehead before slipping into their bubble of unconsciousness, and the best nights sleep that either man had ever had. Of course, Castiel only had one other sleep to pick from, but he decided it was no contest.