Cas has been telling Dean he's grown to the taste of coffee. But Dean's got this long, bitter history of actually knowing better than that and long story short – he's buying none of that shit.

'It's the aroma' Cas says as he smiles to the warm, dark insides of a mug.

Makes the whole thing even more unsettling, because he never looks at Dean just then, it's just Cas and his morning tete-a-tete with the liquid bitch. And the second morning rendez-vous, and the noon one, then there's Dean's favorite 'I'm not hungry, Dean, I'll just have a cup' sing-along, reprised some time after with a supposedly innocent 'Coffee?' somewhere in the far too late evening.

So here's what Dean does: he knits his brows in suspicion and agrees that he indeed wants one. Dean needs one cause he keeps counting. So far, Cas is having seventeen really overloaded tea-spoons of the damned thing per day, and it's been barely three weeks since he's got the bastard back. And as much as Dean's aware, Cas ain't Clark Kent anymore, so he can fucking not allow himself to lick in the equivalent of a diner's weekly serving in two swallows. Except that, Cas does so, and as a result, Dean needs to keep himself alert just in case the stupid son of a bitch felt like having a heart failure on his watch or something. And it's somehow always Dean's watch, isn't?

'Why do you drink so much of this shit?' He hears himself nagging over and over again and suddenly he feels very old.

'Taste' Cas deflects one time after another and swiftly goes back to whatever he's doing. Mostly helping him with Sam, since the poor kid still's got a long way to fully recover. On other times, he tends to get busy giving Sammy a hand with some bunker files or fresh research when he insists that he's fine to do any work.

Dean appreciates it, he really does, but taking one burden off only to hit with another is not how things are supposed to work. And Dean doesn't think he's overreacting. Maybe Cas ain't got a clue, but he's seen him infatuated with addicting crap, he's seen those wicked, empty smiles, he's heard the lack of wings echoing in Cas's eyes.

Dean remembers almost begging him afterwards to not ever change. But he guesses that the only thing that doesn't ever change in Dean's life is an obligatory shitty outcome.

Unless he tears off half of his ass and destroys half of the world to do something about it, as usual. So he promises himself to do it before Cas gets killed either by coffee or by Cas.

Cas is smug, but Dean is more of a cunning beast than the pile of messy hair will ever be. He's trying to avoid crap by sticking close to Sam because he fucking knows Dean won't spill his guts on him right then. But Cas doesn't know Sam is already asleep. And Cas asked for a cup of coffee. What else he doesn't know is that Dean is about to join this two am drink-drug tea party with him as well. Take that, you bare-chested dick.

When Cas finds out, he pretends he's fine with the change of plans. Except that Dean's eyes know his lips good enough to know when and why do they twitch.

'Caaas' he starts nonchalantly, pointing his chin at Cas's mug. When only the man opens his mouth to try to say a thing, Dean interrupts 'say it's bout the taste and I'll tear you a new one'.

Cas frowns at him.

'I find it fittingly bitter, if you really have to know.'

'Bitter like what? Your life now?' Dean groans before he can stop himself. It's not like Dean's disappointed Cas's disappointed with actually living with them. He's just asking further and it accidentally came out a bit harsh, that's all.

Dean doesn't know what Cas had read out of his expression cause his face froze and his eyes widened before he decided to answer.

'Dean' he begins slowly, too carefully, 'it's not as much about the life I have now, as it concerns the life I've had and the choices I made then. It catches up with me when I let myself be vulnerable. It brings no change so I think it is unwise to allow it.'

'Got nightmares.' Dean figures. ' So you're not sleeping.'


'And where do you think this will take you, Cas?' Dean nearly whispers, all of his muscles tensing unexpectedly. Where do you think this is going to take me if it takes you?, creeps through his mind like a night-time thief, but he doesn't bother Cas with this one.

'Further than letting it reach me.' He replies with a terrible, bone-crushing conviction and despair. Dean can see all the guilt and regret through the cold puddles of Cas's eyes.

'You know it's possible to overcome this, Cas. We can do it.'

'Nothing can change this, Dean.' He tells him with a painful dullness.

'Oh yeah?' he says through gritted teeth to what Cas rises his brows in surprise as if he didn't know better and Dean snaps. 'Cause I think you just don't let m-!' too late he cuts himself, but they both know what the syllable is.

Cas sighs. Dean inhales.

'What the hell do you think I'm here for, Cas?' he tries. 'Would I lie to you, would I say shit if I hadn't already known there's at least a chance to deal with any of this crap? You know me, Cas. You know seventy-four years of mine' he adds in a tone that implies this one shouldn't be dwelled upon any further. Cas only nods with all seriousness, of course he knows. 'And yet I'm here, Cas. Sleeping, walking, talking, getting my nerves torn all over your sorry insomniass' Dean admits and he stares at Cas even more intensely, just to make sure the guy's staying focused.

'Dean, I don't know how to-'

'I didn't know either, at first.' Dean cuts in before Cas can off-track this conversation to Las Vegas. 'But over time something dragged me out of it.'

'What was it?'

'I'm staring at it.' Dean sighs exasperated.

Something in Cas's face clicks. Or falls to pieces. Dean's not sure anymore.

'But how could possibly I-' and he says it with such self-loathing Dean wants to punch him and do the exact opposite of punching all at once. Either way, Dean sure won't let him go on with this litany of self-shitting.

'You believed in me when I didn't, you cared for me when I didn't and you tried to fix me when I wanted to get more broken. Guess I've grown to the taste of needing to return the favor.'

'Dean, you don't need to…'

'Cas, for crying out loud, don't tell me what I need! I know what I need. I've told you!'

Cas swallows hard. Dean wants to say something, anything, but his mouth's suddenly too dry. He looks down at both the coffees, but he miraculously manages to figure something out without taking a sip. 'Drop the coffee, man. Lie down in bed, at least try. Baby steps, Cas' he tells the man. 'Let's do baby steps.' He assures himself, as well.

Cas doesn't know what to say. Maybe it's just for tonight on his part, Dean's not sure, but at least Cas abandons the table nodding and smiling weakly but frankly and directly at him this time, which is great.

But he actually goes in the wrong fucking direction, which is not.

'Cas?' the mess of a hair and the too large pajama-pants thing that Cas is, turns back to face him, confused. 'Cas, my room's that way.'

Now that Dean actually said it, he's too embarrassed to look around, but he can hear Cas follow.

Which is great.