No real spoilers as far as I know. I haven't watched any season 9 yet, I'm waiting to see if it triggers mass suicides. So, this is based on tumblr and it's gif sets.
It feels weirdly dirty, going to a hotel room at three a.m. Not even a hotel that he's checked in to. It's also not a great hotel. He broke the 'motel' barrier and sprung for an actual hotel, without vibrating beds (huge loss there) but also without mildew, by-the-hour pricing and hepatitis in the coke machine. Still, not exactly a top of the league joint, it has a pool, but no cover for it, a reception desk, but it's unmanned, and all the rooms are en suite, but they have old fashioned keys on chunks of wood.
He had to wait for Sam to fall asleep, then go out to a bar, then drink three beers and wait for Zeke to come after him and spy on him from the parking lot (picked the wrong vessel for being inconspicuous, that's for damn sure) then, once his shadow had gone back to the bunker, Dean'd left the car and walked around the block, twice, then headed for the hotel by backstreets.
He was actually pretty buzzed from the secret agent-ing. It was sad that it was what he had to do to check in with Cas.
Castiel opened the door of the hotel room and let him in. It was basic, clean if bare, and Cas had left his clothes all over a chair in the corner. He had on a hooded sweatshirt and jeans, and there was a take-out wrapper in the wastebasket.
"Settling in then?"
"Mmmhmm," Cas sat cross legged on the bed, looking at the old episode of Oprah that was showing on the tv. Looking at it, but not really paying attention.
"Still pissed at me?"
That got him a glare at least.
"Fair enough." He sat down on the bed and watched the television. "It's just temporary, 'till I can figure out why the hell he doesn't want you around. Unless you think you know what's up with him?"
Castiel shrugged. "What do I know?"
Dean punched him lightly on the shoulder, the way he would Sam if he was being such a tight ass, but Castiel tensed up and looked at him like Dean had hit him for real.
Castiel's eyes were on the floor, and he shook his head, not blinking.
"Cas, I didn't think it was this big a deal, I'm sorry."
"I didn't think it would be either, which is the most unfair part of all this." Castiel tilted his head back and looked at the ceiling, then turned to glare at Dean. "Aside from the uselessness, the weakness, the knowledge that my entire race is vulnerable, and also out for my blood – aside from the constant need of it all, of being passed around and put here like a burden,"
"It's being able to feel all these little...inferences, that I just didn't have." He raised a hand, grabbed at empty air and let it fall again. "I know you care about Sam, more than...oh, anything. And you know...this is what you do, all the time. But I've always been able to see how it worked, for you. Now, all I can do is feel like..." he shook his head, "and I don't want to, because it's not fair on you, and it makes it really hard to do anything and...and I can't even talk about it, properly."
"Feel like what?" Dean was watching him carefully, trying to work out if Cas was losing it or just pissed off. "I mean you're right, Sam's my brother, he's pretty much spent the last nine years with me, standing at death's door, repeatedly hitting the doorbell."
"And where am I, in that analogy?"
"...maybe, you're the kid who knows better but doesn't say anything." Dean shrugged, leant back. "There's always a kid like that."
"I wish I knew better." He folded his hands in his lap. "I keep thinking about the first time, when we met, trying to work out if I had any idea what kind of shit storm was about to hit me...I can't remember though, I can't think, how he...how I, used to think. It's too hard."
"I don't think any of us could have known. If I had, maybe I'd have let you throw me back down there."
The look on Cas's face suggests that Dean has uttered the worst blasphemy in existence.
"I was only joking."
"Don't." Cas shakes his head, "that was...that is just it, I don't understand how I got here. How I got from being that way, to being like this."
"Scenic route? Lots of diversions."
"I think..." Cas looks at his hands, "I think some of it was you...the good parts, and some of the bad. But...the stuff I chose for myself, or, the things I had to do, it feels like that's what brought me here, to suffer, which, I deserve. But the first part, the part that was all you...I wish I could have seen how that ended. Who I'd have been without having to constantly go back there and...try to fix it."
"You wouldn't have liked it. Lots of incense, Buddhas ...casual substance abuse."
Castiel just looks at him weirdly.
"OK, so, I lied about the whole 'casual' thing. I'm kinda glad that you're...you're still kind of you."
"I'm not so sure."
"Because...you asked me, how I felt? About you picking Sam, again. And, I don't feel like I did before. I understand it, but I wanted more than that, this time."
He swallows, hard, and still isn't looking at Dean. "I wanted you to pick me."
It's out there then, like a airborne toxin, and Dean can't get away from it, or pretend he never heard. It's not some illusion, some glimpse into the future, it's not in the heat of the moment – they're just sitting there, on a less than comfortable bed in a hotel room.
"I probably won't ever be able to." Is what comes out of his mouth.
Castiel shuts his eyes for a second, then trains them on the wall opposite. "I wasn't actually expecting it to hurt that much. You'd think losing God would be enough to kill that kind of thing forever." He stood up, went to the door, arms folded, head down. "So, you can get back."
Embarrassment is new one on Cas, and Dean wants to fix it. He doesn't know how, but, trying is better than just walking away. Only, that's exactly what he does.
He leaves the hotel, he goes back through the streets to his car, and just as the sun is starting to rise, he drives back to the bunker. When he gets there it's morning, and he parks up, goes inside. Sam is still sleeping, he gets all the way to the kitchen and takes one boot off before he shoves his foot back in, turns tail, and goes right back to the car.
This time the journey seems to take twice as long. He parks in the same place at the bar, takes the same route to the hotel, goes up to Cas's room, knocks on the door.
He answers in the same clothes, with hair that looks slept on, and reddish, tired eyes. There's confusion and hope and hurt all blended together on his face.
"I choose Sam." He thumps the heel of his hand on the doorframe, leaves it there. "I've chosen him all my life and...that's just a part of things as they are. It's not gonna change."
Castiel nods, once, sharply, and goes to shut the door.
"But...maybe...definitely, I haven't always tried to look out for you, as much as I should have. I guess I never really felt like I had to, because...well, you were always there for us and...you didn't really, need...me. Or, you didn't seem to." He thinks that now, maybe, he knows just how wrong he'd been about that. "So, I'm gonna look out for you, better, from now on. Just because I want him to be OK...that doesn't mean you don't matter...it doesn't mean I don't...care."
Castiel nods a little, accepting what he's said, then he says, "You should get back."
Dean back away a little and nods. "I'll come see you again soon."
"Don't mention it."
He's taken a few steps down the corridor when Castiel catches up with him, in a few strides, puts his hand on Dean's shoulder and turns him around.
"The thing, about not being an angel anymore?" he says, quickly, softly, "I used to look at you and not know why, and now I do, I know." A little, sad smile tugs at the sides of his mouth. "It sucks."
Dean puts an arm out and hugs him, like he'd hug anyone. And if it goes on a little longer than he knows it should, if he relaxes when Cas does. If he feels like maybe this is what he's been so gone over since he found out Cas was fallen?
It's OK, for now, if he doesn't say anything.
The good thing about Cas, one of the good things, is that, usually, he doesn't even have to say it.