Castiel didn't know what to make of this strange uncomfortable feeling that twisted deep in his gut. Wondering if he had been poisoned, he stared hard at the bottle of beer on the table in front of him. It didn't look any different from all the other beers he had drank as a human. But he remained suspicious. Why else would he feel like he might throw up?

Sam sat across the table from him, quietly picking at the label of his beer bottle. They had fallen into a comfortable silence, which was not unusual in Dean's absence. Castiel loved the younger Winchester as he would a brother, but he often struggled with what to talk about beyond the weather or the details of any hunt they were on. Usually Castiel let Sam start the conversation. Things tended to work better that way.

This, however, felt like an emergency.

"Sam, something is wrong with me," Castiel said.

Sam glanced up. "What's up?" he asked.

"My stomach aches, but not like I'm hungry or need to relieve myself," Castiel said. "This is different."

"Did you eat something weird?" Sam asked.

Castiel shook his head. "Only the nachos I shared with you and Dean, but neither of you appear to have been affected in the same way."

"I feel fine," Sam said, shrugging. He glanced toward the bar, presumably to look at Dean. Castiel didn't follow his line of vision, not wanting to see again what he saw once before. "Cas," Sam said, and his voice was softer now, filled with understanding and pity. "It wasn't the food."

"Then why do I feel this way, Sam?" Castiel asked.

Sam sighed, delaying, like he didn't want to answer. "It's jealousy."

"Impossible. Dean is allowed to flirt with whomever he wishes," Castiel said. He frowned at the bitter tone to his voice. He hadn't intended to sound like that.

"Cas," Sam said. "Maybe you should look over there again."

"I'd rather not," Castiel said, because while Dean was allowed to flirt with whomever he wished, Castiel didn't have to watch it.

"I'm serious, Cas. Look," Sam said, urging.

"I can't," Castiel said. Now he sounded broken. The pain in his stomach was also in his chest. "I won't." His earlier glance had earned him the haunting memory of a woman pressed against Dean's side while he waited at the bar for their next round of drinks. Castiel dreaded seeing the progression.

"Cas," Sam said. "Look at Dean and tell me he looks like he's flirting back. Because frankly, I don't see it."

A small hope swelled in Castiel, pushing down the other, uglier feelings. Trusting Sam to not want to hurt him, Castiel looked up to where Dean was standing.

Dean's shoulders were hunched with arms crossed in a defensive posture. He was leaning heavily to one side, away from the woman pawing at his shoulder – the shoulder where Castiel had once left his handprint. Each time she touched him, Dean shrugged off her hands. But the woman was incessant, even as Dean's head continued to shake in a well-known signal for NO.

Castiel was on his feet before he realized it. He stopped after a step, remembering that social norms required him to make a parting gesture when leaving an occupied table.

"If you will excuse me for a moment, Sam," Castiel said.

Sam's lip quirked a little. He appeared amused, though Castiel had no idea why. There was not much humor to be found in this situation. "Sure, Cas."

Castiel turned back toward Dean and his breath caught. The woman had leaned close to Dean and was placing a kiss on his neck. What Castiel now recognized jealous flared within his chest, stretching outwards to encompass all of him even down to his fingertips. Dean's neck was Castiel's neck to kiss and nuzzle, not some strange woman's. Didn't she see the marks she had left there earlier – the claims he had made? Or was this some sort of human challenging ritual? Either way, Dean seemed repulsed. His arm shot up as a barrier, but it was too late – her lips had already touched his skin.

Castiel lost coherent thought and his body took over, surging forward until he was standing directly behind Dean. His arms shot out to wrap around Dean's waist.

Dean tensed for only a moment. He relaxed the instant Castiel aligned their two bodies together, with his chest lining Dean's back, and breathed, "Hello, Dean," onto the back of his neck.

"Hey, babe," Dean said, voice light and happy. His hands slid atop Castiel's and squeezed. "I was wondering when you were going to come over."

"My apologies for the delay," Castiel said. Later – much later – he would admit to Dean the full extent of the misunderstanding and they would have a serious discussion about whether or not Dean really was allowed to flirt with whomever he wished (no). But for now, Castiel was content kissing away any lingering trace of that woman from Dean's neck. Only after a few stolen moments did he realize that she was still there staring at them.

"I told you I'm taken," Dean told her. The words filled Castiel with such pleasure that an incoherent mumble escaped his lips without his permission. Dean stilled and the tips of his ears turned red. He breathed in a sharp curse.

The bartender finally placed three beers in front of Dean. He grabbed three bottlenecks in one hand and Castiel's hand with the other and all but ran back to the booth. Castiel refused to sit until Dean went into the booth first. Once seated, Castiel slung his arm around Dean's waist and continued nuzzling his neck.

"Still think it wasn't jealousy?" Sam asked, and laughed.


3.30.13

Cross-posted from tumblr and Ao3. TheKingsLover is my sn at each so you know it's me! :3

Thank you for reading!