When Dean woke up, he was in a room. The room. The fancy room that Michael supposedly destroyed when he overtook Dean's half-brother's body before the fake apocalypse.
But nothing seemed to stay dead or destroyed anymore, not since he met the angels.
Dean blinked in the bright light that faded to the image of the room; the mark of angel magic. He looked around warily as he sat up on the edge of an elaborately gilded bed that he did not remember existing before. He was in an adjoining bedroom, which connected without a barrier to the room with the giant pile of bacon cheeseburgers and the bucket of ice and beer.
He waited, looking around him for the angel responsible to make an appearance. The fuckers liked to pop up out of nowhere with smug looks on their faces. He didn't care for angels, not since the only angel he trusted betrayed him for a pact with a demon.
Dean looked around for a weapon. A pen on the rococo style bedside table might do in a pinch, though it wouldn't do much more than distract the angel in question for half a second.
"Dean. You can't really think that will work against me." He didn't notice Castiel appear, but he rarely did. Dean jumped at the sound, his heart sinking. Just the angel he hoped wouldn't be behind this.
"Better than nothing." Dean grunted. The sight of Castiel, his head tilted at that particular, perpetually confused angle, his long trenchcoat hanging off his shoulders like a heavy blanket that somehow never seemed to tire him, caused a boiling mixture of rage and sadness to bubble up in his chest. He could barely look at him.
"What do you want? Why did you bring me here?" His voice was a low growl.
"I don't want anything. I'm all powerful. I am God."
"Then blink me back to my own bed, damn it! I have nothing to say to you." Dean said with fierce insistence.
"You are upset because of what I did to Sam."
"Yeah, I'm upset!" Dean spat out, clear by his tone that it was the biggest understatement of the year. "Let me go, Cas. I'm warning you."
"Dean, I'm God. Watch yourself." Castiel said sternly. Dean bit his tongue. How could this bastard have the guile to act as though Dean should treat him with anything but disdain? Still, Dean was afraid. He was man enough to admit it. He'd had dealings with near omnipotent beings before and it never turned out well for him.
He opted for stubborn silence instead. Castiel let it hang between them for a while before he spoke.
"I want to know why. Why could you not trust me? After all I gave to you… all I did for you? I asked you for one thing and you refused me." Castiel said. Castiel very rarely showed any sort of emotion in his voice, but now Dean detected a hint of hurt. He found it strange as Castiel claimed to be the new 'God' and human emotion seemed beneath that kind of species.
"Why?" Dean stood from his seat on the bed and walked around to the other side, agitated and in need of the action to soothe him self. "Can't you just crack open my head and look into my memories or something?"
"God always respected free will in his creations. I will as well." Castiel said evenly.
Dean glared at him. He couldn't help it. That damn neutral tone of his, the near expressionless face- he hated it now. It used to be endearing.
"You forget that I lost my brother more than once to deals with demons. Just because I loved you like a brother doesn't mean I had to, or should, stand behind your every decision. Brothers call brothers out on their stupid ideas."
Something sparked through Cas when Dean said 'loved', a ripple of emotion. Dean thought he might have imagined it, but if it was a hallucination it started a kernel of hope in him that was hard to squash. Maybe Cas wasn't 100% untouchable being after all. Maybe there was some small part of the Cas he knew left in there.
"But it worked. I was right."
"You made a deal with the King of Hell." Dean said dismissively.
"But it worked."
"Against the odds. It was still a piss poor idea." Dean shook his head, clenching his jaw in remembered anger.
"Dean." Cas said, and Dean's eyes snapped back to him at the faint tone of pleading, but Cas wasn't where he left him- he was closer now, merely a foot away from him.
"Why are we here now? Why can't we be as we were?" Cas whispered.
"You broke down the wall in my brother's head and let in the Devil." Dean reminded him, his lip curling into a snarl.
"You came after me. I would have fixed it, had you only stayed put." Cas reminded him.
"You knew. You knew I would never stay away. You knew that wouldn't work." And the real betrayal leaked out into his words, the one that really stung him to his core, that made it impossible to forgive the creature in front of him. "You never planned on fixing Sammy to begin with, before that power morphed your mind into whatever it is now."
Castiel stared at him.
"What else could I do?"
"It doesn't matter what you could have done, it matters what you did." Dean said, his voice coarse with anger.
Castiel looked away, contemplating the decorative wall for a few seconds, then back at Dean.
"What if I fixed him now?"
"I have the power, and perhaps the will."
"Perhaps?" Dean had dealt with far too many manipulative demons not to catch the word choice.
"If you would forgive me, and we could go back to what we were." Castiel said softly, his deep blue eyes flicking back and forth between Dean's.
Dean's heart lept. He wasn't blind to Sammy's suffering. He knew what it was like to remember Hell, god did he know, and Sammy's Hell had likely been much worse. Anything he could do to take that away, he would. Even if it meant stomping on his own pride, because he certainly didn't feel like forgiving Castiel anytime in the near ever.
"Ok." Dean agreed, his voice shaking with the effort to make it sound friendly. Cas's eyes narrowed.
"You have to mean it, Dean. You must actually forgive me."
Dean wanted to scream at him, "Why? Why does it matter to an all-powerful God whether I forgive you or not? Why do you care so much about me now, with the rest of the world's problems on your hands?" Instead, he said gruffly,
"I'll forgive you, alright? You do this for Sammy, and I'll do whatever you want." It was a defeated statement, but Dean wasn't a good actor and he was putting all his energy into hiding his anger.
Castiel's intense stare pressed into him, his eyes narrowing again. Then he closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and opened them.
"It is done."
"The wall? You put it back up?" Dean asked, his fists clenching at his side as hope surged through him.
"I did." Castiel nodded.
A shaky breath of relief escaped Dean. He put a hand to his head, rubbing his eyes as he spun around on his heel. The deep press of worry lifted off his chest, a feeling he wasn't used to. Usually whatever he worried about came to pass.
"Thank you." Dean made himself look at Castiel. He willed his resentment toward him to recede, as he really wasn't a good actor.
"You're welcome." Castiel responded, equally quiet. He took a step closer, but he was already too close to begin with. Dean tensed. Castiel saw.
"Dean." He said, his voice deep and warning.
"You have to give me some time, Cas." Dean said, almost exasperated. "You can't expect me to magically be fine. I've been angry at you for a while now."
Castiel let a breath go, and it might have been in irritation, Dean wasn't sure. Dean wondered again what a God would need human emotions for and doubted his ears.
Dean blinked and he was lying in his own bed again, the light from the flickering lamp by his bedside the only source of illumination in the room.
"You and your freaking salads. You just escaped Hell in your head, do you think you could learn to live a little? Appreciate life? Eat a goddamn cheeseburger?" Dean frowned as Sam picked lightly at his salad, engrossed in his laptop.
"Well, as it turns out I might actually live to a sane old age, so I would still like to take care of my body." Sam argued with a quiet smile, his eyes still glued to his screen.
Dean bit into his own delicious, greasy meat in a bun and made a noise of satisfaction that caused Sam to look up. Dean drew at his beer and smacked his lips with relish.
"Fine. I'll take a beer next time the waitress comes over, all right?" Sam rolled his eyes.
"That's my Sammy boy!" Dean grinned.
"You do know that beer has next to no nutritional value whatsoev-"
"Shut up and drink."
They clinked their beers together when the waitress brought Sam's beer. Dean couldn't keep the smile off his face after he downed half of his in one swig. Cas was wreaking havoc over all the 'false prophets' of the world, but otherwise they had nothing else big on their plates. That wasn't even really on their 'plate', as Cas was too powerful to attempt to stop, and besides he couldn't really complain about the sorts of things Cas was attacking. Cas hadn't been by to bother Dean since he magicked Sam's head, and the monster count appeared to be at a record low, likely indirectly or directly due to Cas's tyrade.
Dean actually found himself humming as he chewed his burger. He couldn't remember the last time he'd hummed. He couldn't really remember the last time he'd felt so light, either. His brother was fine. Bobby was fine. They weren't tracking any demons at the moment. Dean was chewing fast food while thinking about, and more importantly worrying about, nothing. His life was as close to good as it ever got.
Dean froze at the sound before turning to see the familiar trench coat and loose tie.
"Cas!" Sam whispered in surprise. Sam gaped at him as he stood awkwardly next to their booth.
"Hello, Sam. You look well."
"No thanks to you." Sam replied after a stunned moment. "I never got a chance to properly thank you for that."
"I heard your prayers." Castiel said simply. "There was no need for it though, I was responsible for your illness in the first place. I am sorry about that."
"Well, that's true." Dean found himself grumbling. Sam shot him a look that said something like 'hey he's omnipotent so maybe try not to piss him off'.
Dean felt a powerful pinching in his chest, painful and warm and syrupy. He cleared his throat, the pressure of Castiel's even stare a little too unnerving given his new superpowers. The Cas he remembered was a powerful soldier, but always a bit childlike to Dean. Dean never felt threatened by Cas, often just the opposite, like he had to take care of him in many respects. The new and not necessarily improved Cas, however…
"Dean, has sufficient time passed for you to forgive me?"
Sammy shot Dean a look that Dean ignored.
"I'm working on it, Cas. Gettin' there." He cleared his throat again.
"Would it help if I joined you for a beer?" Cas asked, looking around the dingy diner with mild curiosity.
"Sure." Sam answered for him, scooting over in his booth and pulling his laptop and disgusting salad out of the way. Cas looked genuinely touched and thanked him in a far too sincere sort of way before sliding in next to him. His tone reminded Dean of the old Cas, the incredibly awkward Cas. He looked uncomfortable sitting there, as though he wasn't expecting the plastic to be as hard as it was or the fluorescent lights above the table to irritate his eyes. Dean took another bite of his burger. Somehow it tasted less delicious.
"Ok, well." Dean was struck by how ridiculous the situation was- he was having a beer with God. What the hell were they supposed to talk about? He went for sarcasm he knew Cas wouldn't get. "How's punishing all the nonbelievers going, Cas?"
Cas half smiled.
"Sounds like it. We see your handiwork on the news from time to time." Sam chimed in.
"I've not tried to hide it." Castiel shrugged.
"Kudos for disbanding the KKK, by the way." Sam gave him a nervous thumbs-up.
"Thank you." Castiel said hesitantly. "I've wanted to address that problem for quite a while now."
"What's that?" Dean nodded at Cas' hand, the edge of what looked like an angry red welt peeking out from under his sleeve.
"It's nothing. It's difficult for this vessel to contain the power I've absorbed, that's all." Cas pulled his sleeve down, temporarily covering the welt. Alarm bells went off in Dean's head and he exchanged a look of worry with Sam.
"You're not going to explode or anything, are you?"
Castiel stared at him.
"You going to fix that, then?" Dean asked pointedly, a harsh edge to his words. He'd had a bad feeling about Cas' God plan since square one, and he still didn't trust it.
"Great." Dean growled, taking another irritable bite out of his burger before deciding it completely lost its flavor. He set it down for good, appetite gone.
"You're still angry." Cas observed, his sea blue eyes narrowed at him for the millionth time.
"I'm not. I'm just wondering why you've got chickenpox when you're supposed to be all powerful."
"It's temporary." Castiel quirked his head to the side.
"All right." Dean said, his voice tense.
"I thought we had an agreement, Dean."
Sam shifted, and Dean knew what he was thinking because he was thinking it too: Cas built the wall back up in Sam's head, he could easily knock it over again in a second.
Dean slammed his hand down on the table.
"So, what? Are you going to threaten to unclog the crazy drain in Sam's head every time I piss you off? You want to make me your little bitch?"
Castiel glowered at him and Dean felt his skin heat with electricity, the hairs on his arm standing to attention.
"I do not want you as my bitch." Castiel's voice was that of a petulant child admitting a teacher was right all along.
"Then stop with the friggen' agreement, alright? I'll forgive you when I forgive you."
Sam tried to diffuse the tension with small talk, and Castiel eventually went along with it. Cas took one swallow of his beer, made a face, and set it down. Dean thought about that fragile wall in Sam's head and did his best, but the ache in his heart didn't stop. It grew to the point where Dean couldn't even speak, he just played with his beer and beer cap and kept his eyes down, away from the deep, sky blue irises. Then he became aware of a long silence and had no choice but to look up. He met those eyes he'd been avoiding and the warm, gooey, burning acid in his stomach lurched.
Sam looked like he wanted to say something, anything, but then Cas pushed his barely touched beer over to Dean.
"I'll go." He said, his intense expression never easing. Then there was just the hard plastic seat and the space where Cas used to sit. The confusing goo in his chest evaporated into nothingness with his disappearance.
It was weeks later when it happened. Dean and Sam threaded their way carefully through an old factory, filled with the smell of tar and dirt, on the hunt for a djinn, and Cas appeared, covered in blood, on the floor before them. Dean was suddenly sick to his stomach and his feet ran without his brain ever having to tell them until he was pulling Cas's head up gingerly from the floor, wiping blood from his face to see his expression.
"Dean… help." Cas whispered, his voice scratchy. Sam threw a panicked look at Dean before pulling his cell phone from his pocket.
"Cas, this- this isn't your blood- what did you do?" Dean searched for a wound, finding nothing but the angry red boils all over Cas' body.
"I killed them… I killed them all….the innocent, the guilty…. I…can't….. you must…." Cas' voice was cracked and throaty.
"Ok, Cas, just tell me what to do." Dean said, his jaw clenched.
They did the ritual and the leviathans rose up. Cas wandered out into the lake, with Dean and Sam's eyes on his back, and the blackness sunk out into the drinking water, and all Dean could think was come back up, come back to me, come on Cas- I'm not there, but I'll get there I promise I will.
He walked down to the water and fished out the floating trench coat, and that night he laid awake in the darkness, running his thumb along the fabric over and over again, staring up into the blackness and hoping for a miracle he didn't dare expect but desperately wanted.
Dean carried the trench coat in the back of his car, unable to part from it for very long. Sometimes he would go to grab a weapon, some salt, a gallon of holy water, and he stopped, just for a moment or two, to brush a hand over the fabric and memorize the feel of it. Course, cheap threads, nylon-esque. The beige stained now with river dirt- he couldn't bring himself to wash it for months. It had touched Cas, wrapped his body in warmth, slid along his skin.
He hid it from Sammy in the extra tire compartment, but Sammy found it eventually. Wanted to have a full-on feelings intervention, tying it to his increased liquor intake.
"You were doing so well." Sam said, hands shaking as he stripped his jacket and boots off. Dean collapsed into the bed, his head light and his stomach lurching. "You were getting better."
In the silence Dean remember the other pain he wanted to dull- the screams for mercy, the sight of sharp objects piercing flesh, the smell of burning insides.
"He knew that you cared about him, Dean."
"Shut the fuck up, Sam." Dean whispered back. If Sam thought talking about it was going to do any good, he was wrong.
He was dead. He was never coming back.
"Emmanuel." Dean gaped at the man staring at him, his heart exploding in his chest. He couldn't be- but he was. He was looking right at him, and it was impossible to forget that face, his eyes bright against his dark sweater, looking so unlike Cas in that change of clothes. Cas looked up at him, a mixture of confusion and fear taught in the line of his mouth.
He said nothing, only edged cautiously past him and through the door, hurrying over to the woman tied to the chair. The house looked entirely too normal: potted plants, the faint smell of french toast, the floral print curtains.
Then the woman stood up, freed of her bindings, and pressed her hands against Cas's chest, running them up along his cheek in a familiar way.
Cas held her hand and drew closer to Dean.
He came to this house not knowing what to expect, but definitely not this.
"Dean." He surprised himself when his voice came out as steady as it did. He shook his hand. Maybe he could get on board with this amnesia. They could start over, forget all the ugly conflict between them. Dean was ready to start over now.
"Thank you for protecting my wife."
Dean drew a breath, feeling like Cas had kicked him in the stomach. He told himself it was because this was another loose string he had to cut, and it wasn't going to be pretty.
"Wife?" He heard himself say, his mouth suddenly dry.
Cas didn't remember demons. That was a problem, a real problem, but somehow it didn't clench his gut the same way. Dean processed it mechanically, rather than emotionally. He reasoned he would have to explain it all as demons had already tied up his wife and intruded on his house. They would keep coming.
"Emmanuel has very special gifts." The woman said, sliding her hand affectionately along Cas's arm. She seemed like a nice lady, but Dean hated her.
"Look…" Dean couldn't stop staring at Cas, finding his change of clothing highly unsettling. "You said you found Cas, that it was like a miracle." He made himself look at the woman, who was listening intently, smiling a little and nodding in agreement. "Well, unfortunately, you were right. Cas is…he's an Angel. That might be hard to believe, but he is." Dean struggle with his next words. "Thank you for taking care of him, but he has to come with me."
Castiel's eyes widened with shock.
"I'm sorry, Ca- Emmanuel." Dean said, though he didn't feel it. He wanted out of this house now, and he wanted to drag Cas out with him, "You're a soldier, an important one, and the thing that tied her up- he's not alone. They'll keep coming. The only way to protect her is to leave. We need your help anyway, and we know how to fight them, but we can only take care of each other if we stick together."
"I'm a soldier? I heal people." Cas said faintly. His 'wife' clutched at his sleeve.
"Well." Dean shrugged. "You can also do a hell of a lot of damage when you want." Dean said. Cas simply stared at him in shocked silence. Dean let a breath go. "Look, not to point fingers, but you actually started the war we're in right now."
"Yeah, you did." Dean said. "You didn't mean to, but you opened a can of worms and we've been trying to shove them back in over the past couple of months. It hasn't been pretty."
Cas swallowed and looked down.
"I'm very sorry."
Dean immediately regretted his impatient words. He'd just got him back and now he was yelling at him again.
"I just- I need your help, that's all. Please trust me." Dean said, gruff but trying to sound gentler.
Cas stared at him a moment longer before turning to his wife. She looked bewildered and sad and more than a little upset with Dean, but she had kept her silence up until then.
"I'm sorry, Daphne." Cas said softly. Tears sprang to her eyes.
"You're going to go with him?"
"I can't explain, but I feel that everything he's saying- it's the truth. I'm so sorry."
Daphne wiped at her eyes, sniffing. She kissed Cas softly.
"You fell into my life, and now you're falling out of it. You have been a blessing to me, and though what this man is saying is difficult to believe…. I trust you. I'm- I'm only sad that I have to let you go."
"I'm sorry." Cas said again, his hand drifting through her hair. Dean walked over to the door and looked out at the suburban block.
Cas' touch at his shoulder alerted him when the goodbyes were over. They walked down the stairs together in silence.
"Goddamn leviathans and their goddamn face stealing." Dean muttered as he gripped the remote control. Castiel hovered on the edge of the bed, chin in his palm, watching intently. Dick, so appropriately named, was going on about his new food components, using bullshit marketing words like "pure" and "natural".
"And that will-"
"Turn you into cattle, yeah. Slow and stupid, easy pickings for a leviathan breakfast." Dean muttered.
"I did this." It was a low moan.
Dean stared at his hunched backside in silence.
"Not on purpose."
"Intent is irrelevant, Dean, you should know that by now. The path to hell-"
"Is paved with good intentions, I know." Dean rolled his eyes. "Cut yourself some slack. Intentions matter. They're the difference between repeating your mistakes and atoning for them."
Cas looked over his shoulder, and for a long tense moment he didn't say anything.
"You are a good friend, Dean." Cas said, a weak smile on his face.
Dean tossed the remote on the bed haphazardly. Sammy was out doing something of import. It was a Friday night. The buzz of the cheap lights in the motel room hummed in their ears and Dick prattled on the tv, his smug face the very picture of sociopathy.
"So, how was married life?"
Cas glanced back at him once more.
"Well considering it's all I can remember… not bad. Daphne was a very nice woman."
"You know, I once took you to a brothel because we thought we might die in the morning and you let slip that you'd never even tossed down with an angel lady. Which, by the way, I have and you missed out big time, buddy."
"Oh?" Castiel rubbed a hand behind his head, the movement stiff and awkward.
"Yeah, but you scared off your date by talking about her daddy issues." Dean chuckled at the memory, the way they'd run out the backdoor to avoid security, the prostitute screaming bloody murder at them.
Dean laughed, and when his laughter died down Castiel turned to sit so they were facing each other, a smile hesitantly tugging at his lips.
"So, I gotta ask again, man- how was married life?" Dean meant to sound joking, good natured ribbing between two guys, but his throat tightened and it sounded more demanding than teasing.
Castiel looked away and seemed to reconsider his position.
"It wasn't like that. I'm still- I mean, I didn't really feel comfortable."
"No shit." Dean whispered. He hadn't realized his chest was tight until the pressure was gone and he had to laugh at how light he felt. Castiel frowned and blushed. "Sorry, sorry. It's just- you're still the same old Cas. How did she put up with that?"
Cas looked around, as though for an escape route, before he seemed to realize he had to answer Dean. "She was very religious." Cas said, clearly uncomfortable. "She didn't mind waiting until I was, um, ready."
"Generous girl." Dean chuckled again, picking the remote control back up and toying with it.
"That's an angel thing, right?"
"A lack of attraction to the opposite sex?" Castiel said, innocently curious. Dean froze.
"A lack of attraction in general?" Dean said slowly, "Or a lack of attraction just to girls?"
Castiel furrowed his brow.
"Are you suggesting-" Castiel looked even more confused. "That I might be gay?"
"Hey, you're the one who said you don't like girls. I'm just putting the pieces together here." Dean threw his hands up in defense. His heart had sped up for no reason. Castiel looked incredibly confused. "But… I'm pretty sure it's not just an angel thing. I've slept with an angel before, and she seemed to have no problem with, uh, attraction."
"I've never thought about it." Castiel said, looking off into nowhere in particular, "I don't know. The situation never presented itself."
Dean's eyebrows shot up.
"Alright, well. I can't help you there, sorry." Dean scooted off the bed and stood, stretching, mostly for an excuse to move the jitter out of his limbs.
"But Dean, how would I find this out?" Castiel asked quickly. "Now I'm very unsure."
"Uuuuh, buddy, I don't know. You know what? Maybe you're not. Maybe you just weren't attracted to her. That's entirely possible." Dean scratched his head, looking anywhere but at Cas, flipping through channels with the remote before settling back onto the bed.
"Maybe." Castiel looked troubled, introspective. Dean tried to focus on whatever the fuck was on tv, some lizard eating a spider or something, but Castiel's stillness was too distracting.
"Alright, let's go out. We'll find you a guy to hit on. You happy?"
"What?" Castiel looked up, alarmed.
"You've got that 'I just watched a puppy get shot' face on and I can't stand it. We'll settle this once and for all so you won't wallow in your existential crisis right in front of me."
He stood and dragged Castiel out of his frozen, deer-in-headlights stare and onto his feet.
"Up we go, come on." Dean said roughly.
The bar was noisy and loud and maybe not the right place to try to smoke out a gay guy, but hey, they were stuck in the middle of the desert in Colorado and they had to take what they could get.
The cigarette smoke made Cas cough as they took their seat on high barstools and Dean ordered a beer.
"See anyone moderately attractive to you?" Dean asked.
"I'm not- I'm not used to looking at people like that. How do you know who's attractive to you and who's not?" Castiel asked, flabbergasted.
Dean scratched at his chin, exasperated.
"Oh my god. You just know, ok? I can't explain this to you."
Castiel looked down at his folded hands in reaction to Dean's tone.
Dean took a deep breath. He forgot how hard it was to talk to Cas sometimes. There was something so wrong about two grown-ass men having this conversation.
"There are physical signs." Dean said, his eyes skyward, his teeth gritted together.
"OH." Cas' eyes were as round as his lips as he uttered the word.
"Yeah, you understand now? So you've gotten one before?"
"Yes." Cas said quickly. "Do you get… physical signs… every time you're attracted to someone? Or is that only sometimes? Do you have to be attracted to them to get it?"
"No, but that's a pretty good indicator."
Cas stared at him, tilting his head to the side until panic crossed his expression and he looked away very quickly.
"Dean. I don't want to do this."
"I know you don't, buddy, but you're a pain in my ass until we get this sorted out so we're doing it."
"Dean." Cas pleaded.
"How about him?" Dean asked pointing over Cas's shoulder. He literally twisted in his seat to stare at the guy. Dean had to reach over and pull Cas back into a normal position.
"Not like that! Suave, casual. Don't be so goddamn obvious!" Dean hissed, slumping over, hiding behind his hand and checking between his fingers to make sure the guy hadn't noticed Cas's incredibly direct approach.
"Well, I don't know!" Cas said, looking panicky again. "You didn't tell me!"
"I'm telling you now- suave, casual. Alright?"
Cas stared at him like he was thinking about vomiting on the table before teleporting out.
Dean rolled his eyes.
"Relax, dude. You're just going to talk to someone, like you're talking with me now. It's not that scary. You don't have to go fuck in the back of the impala or anything."
"Dean!" Cas hissed, horrified.
"I'm saying you don't have to do that." Dean sighed, rubbing his eyes. He couldn't help a little smile. "Not that I would let you. Though I might loan you the motel room for the night if you're really desperate. I can be charitable."
"Dean!" Cas repeated, his eyes wider than Dean had ever seen them.
"You wouldn't say it like that if you knew what you were missing." Dean chuckled. "You'd be thanking me, believe me."
Cas nervously folded and unfolded a napkin on the table.
"What do I even say?" He wondered hesitantly.
"You say, 'Hi, my name is Cas.'" Dean fished a couple of bucks out of his wallet and slid them over to Cas with one finger. "'Can I buy you a drink?'" Cas slowly lifted the bills off the table.
"Say it, Cas." Dean ordered flatly. After Cas's version of 'checking someone out', Dean had to quality check every ounce of flirting Cas could muster before releasing him on someone else.
"Hi, my name is… Cas…. Can I buy you a…drink." Cas faltered on every other word.
"Ok, now say it like you don't expect me to hit you over the head and steal your kidneys."
"Hi, my name is Cas. Can I buy you a drink?"
"Much better." That metaphor worked like a charm.
"Dean, what if they say no?"
"Then you smile politely and come back here." Dean shrugged.
Cas' eyes grew wide again.
"What if they say yes?"
"Then you have a beer, flirt a little bit, see if you get any, you know, under the table salute. Now, pick someone." Dean said, impatient with hand-holding him through such common sense.
Cas swallowed hard.
"You pick. I can't." He said quickly.
Dean scoured the bar. There wasn't a lot to choose from, but he didn't think that guy he'd pointed out earlier noticed Cas's obvious move. He looked attractive enough, and he didn't seem to be particularly interested in the girl sitting next to him and occasionally attempting to flirt with him. She was pretty cute by Dean's standards, so that left a reasonably good chance that he was simply not interested in girls, right?
"Try it on him."
Cas nodded and stood from his stool. A thought occurred to Dean and he reached out to grab Cas's hand.
"But, Cas, this is important- you know that people aren't always… well, aren't always accepting. You have to be careful."
Castiel looked beyond frustrated.
"Dean, I don't know what that means."
"It means that if he looks angry or freaked out in any way, you laugh it off. You say your friend bet you fifty bucks to hit on a guy and then you come back here and we leave, alright?" Dean couldn't believe he hadn't thought of this sooner. They were in the middle of nowhere in Colorado.
"…Ok." Cas seemed even more nervous now.
"Ok." Dean nodded, suddenly as nervous as Cas seemed.
Cas approached the man, wiping his likely sweaty palms on his trench coat as he did. Dean watched carefully, looking over the man's body language as Cas approached, ready to jump from his seat if he ran into any trouble.
Cas was too stiff, and his eyes kept darting over to the flirty girl eyeing him suspiciously, but he got through the line. The man looked him over, glanced at the girl next to him, and for a split second Dean could have sworn something like interest flitted through him, but then he shook his head and turned back to his drink, ignoring Cas. Cas looked desperately back at Dean for instructions and Dean motioned for him to return.
"Ok, so he wasn't into it. That happens sometimes." At least he didn't punch you out of homophobia, Dean thought grimly.
"He wasn't into it." Cas repeated, like Dean was teaching him another line. He looked around the bar, a little more confident, despite the fact that he'd just been openly rejected. "Should I try again?"
"Actually, Cas." Dean sighed. "We should call it a night."
"I thought you said-"
"I know, but I was an idiot. I don't know what I was thinking. It's not the same for you as it is for me." Dean said, and his heart sank a little at the thought. Cas couldn't just walk into any bar and try to pick someone up without the threat of some dudes cornering him in an alley afterward. Not that Cas couldn't take them all down, but he had no protection against hateful words like he did against human punches. Dean didn't want him to have to deal with that side of humanity on a personal level.
Castiel nodded slowly, relieved.
They walked back up the steps and Dean jimmied the keys into the door. Sam still wasn't there. Dean called, and Sam whispered quickly that he was at some girl's house, not to worry.
At least someone was getting lucky tonight.
Cas wandered into the room, quieter than usual, absorbed in his own thoughts. Dean crossed his arm behind his head and flipped the tv on, but Cas was standing next to the tv, playing absently with the antenna, and it caused snow every three seconds. Dean's heart was too heavy to yell at him. Instead, he just flipped the tv off.
"Well, thank you Dean." Cas straightened when he realized Dean's full attention was on him. "I suppose. I guess I'll go."
"You don't have to." Dean said quietly. Cas looked around.
"Well, our night is over, isn't it?"
Dean hated when people asked him if he was ok; it was obvious when someone was upset. What a stupid question. He never wanted to talk his feelings out like Sammy constantly pushed him to do, it didn't do any good. He wanted a distraction, not a heart-to-heart.
"There's some beer in the fridge. Toss me one, keep one for yourself."
Dean drank until he laughed freely and openly. Cas overcame his aversion to the taste, probably out of some incessant need to please Dean that Dean would never understand, and drank until his cheeks and nose were pink. The last time they'd tried to get him drunk, it took three times the amount of alcohol before he started to 'feel it', but this time was different for some reason. Maybe Cas had been brought back more human than Angel, Dean wasn't sure. They each sat on a bed, and Dean did most of the talking. Cas didn't remember enough to have much to say. He asked about their previous 'adventures' as he called them, about how they met, about Sammy, about the impala, about Dean and his conquests. He asked a lot of questions about sex that Dean didn't have patience to answer. Which led them back into the 'gay' thing.
"What about that prostitute I tried to set you up with?" Dean asked after a long gulp. A pleasant buzz started in his ears and his fingertips were numb.
Cas stroked the beer bottle shyly.
"Before you scared her off- did you want to get down and dirty with her? It seems like you upset her on accident."
"That was accidental, but… I didn't have a 'physical reaction' to her." Cas replied delicately, staring intently at the bottle.
Well, she was hot, so that didn't bode well for the straight card. Dean didn't say that, though.
"Don't worry about it, man. It's not a big deal if you like guys." Dean's words were a little slurred. "I don't care about that shit." Cas smiled at that, propping his head sleepily on his fist.
"I couldn't bear it if you did. I would fight it."
"Cas, don't say that."
"I would have sex with a girl if it would make you happy, Dean." Cas said, his eyelids drooping. He was smiling at Dean like he was too tired to care.
"Cas, that's fucking twisted. Don't say that ever again."
"I would, though. I would never look at a man again if you didn't want me to."
Dean got up sloppily and tripped the small space between the beds to press his hand against Cas' mouth.
"Stop. I don't care, alright? For Christ's sake, I was trying to help you hit on guys tonight." He swayed on his feet.
Cas lifted his hand to Dean's, his fingers ghosting over the back of it. Dean watched with slow fascination, a hard lump growing in his throat. Then he felt Cas press a kiss to his palm, uncoordinated and unrestrained, his hand settling over Dean's fully now. Dean pulled his hand away.
The room was tilting a bit, but Dean was sober enough to know the atmosphere changed completely. Cas looked at him with guileless affection, his smile soft and his eyes hooded.
"I would." He repeated.
"Cas." Dean licked his dry lips. He could hear the blood pump through his ears.
"Do you know… how I know what a 'physical reaction' is?" Cas said, laughing as though it was the funniest thing he'd ever heard. He closed his eyes, tilting his head back until it rested against the bed frame. "I get them for you, Dean. I didn't know… I didn't realize that's what that meant. I thought my body was malfunctioning."
Dean's breath hitched in his throat and he stood frozen. He didn't know how the fuck to respond to that. Luckily, Castiel started to snore and he didn't have to form a response. He did have to sit down, though. The whole world was tilting on its axis.
Dean wondered briefly when Cas had started sleeping. He was pretty sure angels didn't need to do that. Maybe it was the booze... which also wasn't supposed to affect him.
Dean lay back against the pillows and prayed Cas wouldn't remember a word he said.
He didn't mention anything beyond how bad his head hurt and how dry his throat was, moaning in pain as he stumbled to the bathroom to throw up his insides. Dean hissed at him to shut up and turn the lights off.
They met Sam at a surprisingly clean diner.
"You two look like hell." Sam muttered.
"Battle scars from a great night, Sammy."
Sam shook his head, smiling.
"Did you have a great night, Sam?" Cas asked, groaning a bit and leaning his head against the side of the booth.
"What did you teach him?" Sam asked in response to Cas's overly obvious attempt at innuendo.
"Cas has been learning about human pleasures." Dean explained with a grin.
"You… corrupted an angel?"
"There's nothing corrupt about sex, Sam. If you think so, then you're doing it wrong."
"Dean thinks I'm gay." Cas moaned. It was a quiet complaint over how much inconvenience the ambiguity of the question had caused him in the last 24 hours.
"What?" Sam blinked.
"Dean thinks I'm gay." He repeated louder as though he thought volume was the reason for Sam's confusion.
Actually, Dean knew he was gay. He avoided the look Sam tried to exchange with him.
"Seriously?" Sam said out loud when that didn't work.
"Well he doesn't like girls, and I know firsthand that Angel's get horny, remember?"
"Anna." Realization dawned in Sam's eyes. "Dean, she was a fallen angel."
"Look, fallen or not- an angel is just like a demon in that they both take over human bodies, with human desires and human functions. Demons can and do fuck. You know that firsthand."
"But my host was not gay," Cas grumbled. "So why would I be?"
"Yeah, why would he be?" Sam wondered accusingly, as though Dean was playing a mean practical joke on Cas in confusing him about his sexuality.
"Jesus, Sam, we ran some tests. It's pretty certain at this point. Don't ask me why, how would I know?" Dean couldn't say exactly how certain without letting too much information through.
"That's strange. Were you gay in heaven, Cas?"
Cas let an exaggerated sigh go, irritable in his hungover state.
"I'm an angel. God made us as soldiers. We don't spend a lot of time on pleasure, or emotion for that matter."
"Right." Sam grinned and started to wolf down his fruit salad. Goddamn salad for breakfast too.
"Well this obnoxious human body needs to relieve itself." Cas muttered, waving at Dean to scoot out of the booth. Dean obliged and watched Cas shuffle away to the bathroom.
He eyed Sam, wondering if he should try talking to him about it. But that could lead to the type of feelings conversation Dean hated. Unfortunately, he eyed him for too long and Sam noticed.
"What?" He wiped his lips with a napkin.
Dean was quiet. He decided to tell him, opened his mouth, and then changed his mind against it.
"Oh, come on." Sam frowned.
"I think Cas might have a little crush on me." Dean whispered, eyes darting to the bathroom.
"Why would you think that?" Sam leaned in, probably because Dean was speaking so quietly he could barely hear himself.
"Because he told me. Why do you think?"
"Wow, really? You two don't look awkward at all. What did you say?" Sam looked far too amused.
"I didn't have to say anything, he passed out drunk after he said it."
"That's convenient." Sam snorted.
"He doesn't remember."
Dean ground his teeth, irritated by his brother's lack of solemnity regarding the situation.
"You're the expert on these things- what the fuck do I do?"
"How am I…?" Sam started, then glanced at the bathroom, seeming to realize how little time they had, "Whatever. Obviously you have two options- you bring it up or you don't."
"Yeah, but what should I do?" Dean rolled his eyes at Sam's obvious answer.
"He doesn't remember his life, Dean. He's probably just attached to you because you're helping him so much when he needs it. I would wait until his memories return- maybe he'll remember what a pain in the ass you are and get over it."
Cas chose that moment to exit the bathroom. Dean scowled at Sam and jerked his head in Cas' direction. Sam started shoveling fruit into his mouth again.
Dean tried not to stare as Cas approached them, but his attention caught on a man who intercepted Cas' path. Cas looked surprised, then bashful. Dean watched them talk for two minutes, completely confused- Cas had other human friends?
The man pressed something into his hand before returning to a table on the other side of the restaurant.
"Who was that?" Dean asked suspiciously as Cas scooted back in.
"You don't recognize him? That's the man I attempted to talk to last night."
Dean choked on his coffee.
"What did he want?" Dean asked, his voice dark with protective instinct.
"He gave me his phone number, told me to call him." Cas shrugged.
Sam gaped, a half smile starting on his face. Cas obviously did not realize the significance of this. The level of obliviousness Cas had in regards to everyday, common sense occurrences physically hurt Dean.
"Look at Cas go." Sam laughed.
Dean's stomach lurched and he wondered if maybe it was something he ate.
"Why didn't he just do that last night?"
"He told me he wanted to be 'discreet'." Cas actually used air quotes properly.
Dean stabbed his eggs with his fork.
"Yeah, because a waffle house is goddamn discreet." Dean muttered. Sam stared at him strangely before returning his attention to Cas.
"You going to call him?"
"Should I call him, Dean?"
Dean paused with his fork halfway to his mouth. Sam's eyebrows shot up.
"Cas, you can call him if you want to call him. I don't know why you think that's my decision to make."
"Well you helped me flirt in the first place." Cas pointed out, sounding a little hurt. "You told me what to do and it worked, so I thought you might have more advice."
"I don't know, Cas. Nobody told me, I had to figure it out. You can figure it out fine for yourself, you're not a damn lemming. You have a human brain, too, in addition to a human dick."
"Jeez." Sam gave him that strange look again.
"What?" Dean said testily, impaling his sausage.
But Sam didn't clarify, and Dean didn't push. They ate the rest of their breakfast in silence.