Wait and See

The Last Book

Cas gets weirdly intense about making dinner for Bobby, Karen and Ellen and when Dean is pressganged into helping, he doesn't put up any sort of resistance whatsoever. Cas has been dealing with his shit all week. He's not sure what spring of patience Cas has tapped into, but he owes Cas the equivalent of growing and reaping the vegetables for it, he can handle a little light chopping.

It's been a rough week.

On Monday, Gabriel had dropped in to let Dean know that Hell was in total chaos, and starting to collapse in on itself. Dean asked what that had to do with him and Gabriel had warned him that it could lead to some unusual Demon activity up on Earth. He still had no news on Sam.

Tuesday, Dean had picked up some of his Hell lore, finished it while he nuked some left overs, and grabbed a new book. Two pages in he'd realized that he'd already read it and grabbed a different one. Which he'd also already read. Then a third.

And then he realized that he'd read them all.

Cas comes home from the grocery store to find books everywhere, and Dean stinking drunk, face down on the floor.

Cas drags him upstairs, forces some water into him, and manhandles him to Bobby's old bedroom.

All Dean remembers is realizing he'd read all of the books, finishing the whiskey and waking up fully clothed, across Bobby's bed from a sleeping Cas, with his hand clasped around Cas's, and a screaming headache. He'd quietly explained to Cas, who hadn't asked, that he'd run out of leads and he'd been looking for almost a year and hadn't found anything.

At least it's his day off, so the debilitating hangover and the void of any will to live doesn't mean he misses work. Cas brings him aspirin and juice and lets Dean stay in bed all day before crawling back under the covers with him at the end of the night. Dean doesn't argue, just lets himself be soothed by the sound of another person breathing.

Cas forces food into him in the morning after the daylong hang over. An epic bacon and eggs breakfast when Cas usually tries to get him to eat something that doesn't make his arteries cry quietly from the abuse.

And then Cas explains to Dean that he is going to quit drinking. Because Cas doesn't want to worry about him drinking by himself, or drinking himself sick, or his drinking and driving or his drinking himself into a stupor to potentially drown in his own vomit if he doesn't have someone watching him.

Dean insists that he's not an alcoholic, and he deserves the occasional overboard, like when he realizes that he's wasted nearly a year of researching and done nothing to help find Sam, who he doesn't believe anymore is going to get magicked back to him the way that Cas, Bobby, Jo, Ellen, Karen and even Gabriel have been.

Cas asks Dean to go a week without a drink.

Dean accepts out of stubbornness more than any real desire to change, then realizes before the end of the day that he's having withdrawal symptoms. He's snappy and jumpy at work. He's having a whole host of unpleasant… digestive problems. His hands shake. His nightmares on the second night without a drink are so intense that Castiel basically brow beats him back into Bobby's bed and crawls in with him.

And the worst part is that it helps, just to have Cas there, and Dean asks him to stay. And he talks, which he never does, and Cas listens, which no one ever does, and Dean tells Cas about stealing Christmas presents for Sam and going hungry for him and lying to him for years to protect him from the truth. Cas just watches, nodding, the light flickering in his wide blue eyes while he strokes his fingertips over the back of Dean's hand and Dean wishes like hell that he didn't need this so badly right now.

So Dean now lives with a man with no sense of personal space, whom he brushes his teeth with, holds hands with, eats all of his meals with and now sleeps in the same bed with, even if Cas does stick to his side, only occasionally inviting their hands to meet in the middle.

Dean's father would beat the shit of him if he knew about this.

But what a dead man wants isn't Dean's problem, and things are hard enough without full-on tossing, screaming night terrors on top of everything else.

Cas hasn't once called him an alcoholic, there hasn't been the slightest hint of an "I told you so", he's just removed all of the booze from the house and suddenly happened to have a lot of tea and juice around, which Chelsea drinks with the enthusiasm of someone trapped in a commercial saying things like "Yum! What's a guava actually look like?" and "Oh there's jasmine in this… drinking flowers must be healthy."

Actually, Dean's been trapped in a commercial. So that analogy isn't totally true and he knows it.

He only takes the day of the hangover from Hell, the day of the moping and the day of the really bad symptoms of withdrawal off before he digs out the copy of Bobby's journal that he'd hidden in the panic room and starts making a list of Hunters to call.

There was nothing in the Hell lore and Gabriel had said he couldn't find Sam. Dean was going to keep looking on Earth, but the daily Google wasn't going to help.

Maybe he could just hope like Hell that Ash would come back from Heaven, that's who he needed. But while Ash may have been a genius, he wasn't one of a kind. He gets ahold of Hunters who tend to frequent California, in case Sam is somewhere in the Stanford area, in case that's the life he got magicked back to.

A really obvious solution occurs to him in that heavy concentration that comes from a repetitive task when he's priming a car at work. The only person that everyone knows is powerful enough to do this, and enough of dick to do it like this is God.

He does have one link to God.

He calls Chuck, who finally answers, and asks about the prophecies. Chuck says he hasn't gotten a prophecy since the one about Sam jumping into Hell to save the world. Dean asks about the headache at the poker game. Chuck says that he's still getting the headaches but nothing comes with them. When Dean asks about the new books, Chuck tells him that those were all already written, they just hadn't been published, and the books he was working on now were all still from old drafts and notes on the old prophecies. God's been silent.

Dean keeps making calls, getting increasingly desperate.

And Cas plans dinner.

"Why are you getting so… hardcore about this?" Dean asks Cas, scooting carrots off the cutting board into the bowl. Cas lets out a quiet, frustrated sigh when a few of them roll away onto the floor.

"It's the first real, planned out reunion," Cas answers. "It's important. I want it to go well."

"I don't think anyone is going to call you out on your hostessing skills," Dean says.

"This is just important to me, Dean."

"Okay." Dean wraps and arm around Cas's waist and side hugs him, letting go just before Chelsea comes in with a "Hi, boys. Karen said she's bringing pie, so I figured rather than try to subject your people to my attempt at a side I'd just pick up some fancy coffee to go with dessert."

Dean waves her in. Coffee for dessert. It's a fancy little bag with a ribbon tied around it, and it could not possibly be more obvious that Chelsea had bought wine for the pasta, gotten to her car, realized that she shouldn't bring wine, picked up coffee on the way and swapped out the ribbon. Dean wants to be a little offended that they both seem to think he can't even handle having anything in the house. But neither of them are wrong.

Thomas had mentioned his intention to host his own poker game and Dean had turned down the invite because he knows if he goes he'll have a beer, and then at least three more and while he probably wouldn't get that drunk, he does not need to relive this last week. He made it a week without a drink, but it shouldn't have been anywhere near as hard as it was, and now, with the liquor out of the house he'd either have to buy some, which would be like admitting Cas was right: he needs to quit drinking or hiding it so that Cas wouldn't find out, which would mean admitting to himself that he really is just an alcoholic, which seems like a terrible thing to be with a half normal life at stake.

They chop vegetables. Cas starts stewing things. He's making something Italian that Dean can't pronounce. It's mostly vegetables and the smell is amazing. It sometimes strikes Dean as odd that someone's who's been eating for less than a year has such a good sense for how to make something appealing and delicious.

Chelsea has also brought nice bread and olive oil and vinegar. Dean slices the bread.

This is what he imagines preparing for a family holiday is like. But even more awkward. It's all the official adults coming to a house that Bobby owns. Dean sleeps in Bobby's old bed now, with Cas, every night, even though the nightmares are subsiding already. Chelsea is just a friend. Dean's starting to think more seriously about letting her set him up with some girl, but can't get over the worry that it's going to be exactly like Cas's attempt to date.

He doesn't want someone that he can't be honest with and his attempts to be honest with girls haven't gone well. Cassie rejected him. Lisa didn't really reject him, but he can't shake the feeling that Ben is his biological son. He's a Hunter, he has instincts and every time he tries to choke it back as just wishful thinking, it pops up again- he just knows. He doesn't blame Lisa for lying, she's got a family and a life and plenty of reasons not to want him around. But it still feels like a rejection.

And then Chelsea. Who accepted who he was, what he did, has been around for every instance where the story he tells her gets more crazy, like Archangel's and Prophets dropping in for poker night and people coming back from the dead every couple of months.

But who he has absolutely zero romantic interest in, and who has even less romantic interest in him.

Maybe, like Cas, he just has to wait a little while longer. Become more of a civilian first. Because "boyfriend" isn't something he knows how to be. Dean Winchester is a one night stand. He's a codependent mess. He's a drifter. He's not boyfriend material.

"Dean?" Chelsea says, and Dean can tell she's been repeating his name for a while now. "Hey, you wanna try some?" She's holding out a piece of bread with stuff on it, like she's going to feed it to him. Dean carefully takes it out of her hand. It's good.

He helps Chelsea set the table. Cas pours three glasses of some fruit flavored ice tea he found somewhere and the three of them sit, listening to the dinner bubble until the doorbell rings.

Cas welcomes Karen and Bobby in, pours them some ice tea too. Chelsea offers them some bread and oil.

Bobby talks about his business. He's just gotten a pretty hefty contract for some one out east who's willing to put down some very serious money for a custom designed bathroom. Bobby is clearly delighted with the prospect of traveling for business. Karen works at the Mitchell library. They're just happy and peaceful. It makes Dean happy to see them.

Ellen blows in the front door in a gust of cold wet air, that ugly March breeze that's melting but not melted yet. She hugs everyone, including Chelsea. She tugs at Cas's hair, and when she asks for a real drink she gets shut down with a quiet shrug from Bobby and an even, "We don't have any in the house," from Cas.

And then everyone goes over who is alive and who is confirmed dead. Ellen hasn't run into anyone that she knew was dead. All she knows about are Cas, Bobby and Karen. Dean and Cas chip in the Gabriel is back and kicking too, but says he's the only Archangel, even though Raphael didn't kick it the first time around either.

"Well," Dean huffs. "Let's hope we don't get Gordon or Bela back. Or Hell, we still don't know whose behind this whole "Wait and See" nightmare. Maybe we'll still run into Ruby. Or Meg."

"Meg didn't die the first go round," Bobby pointed out.

"Son of a bitch," Dean sighs. Cas pats his shoulder.

"Wait and see?" Ellen asks.

"Some cryptic bullshit we keep getting told."

"You're kidding. I called here soon as I got back. That was the message on every phone. Your cell," she points to Bobby. "CIA, FBI. CDC everything."

"When did you call?"

"When Jo and I woke up in a motel in Michigan two months ago. You were our first call.

"And the message you received was "wait and see"?" Cas asks.

"Yeah. Man's voice, kind of… high pitched a little nasal."

Bobby nods and explains his own cryptic message experience.

"I got the regular message at your number, Dean" Ellen says, through a mouthful of pasta. "And Sam's."

"I never got the call. I always check," Dean said. "And Sam had his phone when he… so who the hell knows when the cell phone company starts cutting people off."

"We tried Ash, Kubrick, Rufus, hell even Gordon, all disconnected," Ellen continues.

"Rufus isn't dead. We took a call for someone looking for Luther Vandross's superior at the CDC last week," Dean says.

"Well, we didn't know that until he picked up."

"We saw Ash in Heaven. I don't think he's coming back," Dean says. Karen and Chelsea both give him a look he's not sure how to interpret. "Were you… in Heaven?"

"I don't remember. I remember the hell hounds and the explosions and then I would up in Michigan."

"Pamela was in Heaven. Someone got her number?"

Bobby dials. Disconnected.

"Okay. So here are the facts we have," Bobby starts. "Two people last seen in Heaven- disconnected numbers. Kubrick you gotta hope is in Heaven, though who knows if they let Jesus freaks in."

"Gordon?" Ellen asks.

"Purgatory," Cas answers. He was a vampire. At the end."

Chelsea and Karen start clearing the table.

"Dean…" Cas starts quietly, setting his hand on Dean's leg as he does. "We had a disconnected number when we called Sam."

"But Bobby got a "wait and see" when he called all of us, and Ellen got a message for him. Besides it's just a damn phone, it's not like it's a reliable gage for who is and is not dead."

"Dean… it's been almost a year. Sam died a hero," Bobby starts. "I ain't saying-"

"Yes. You are." Dean's surprised that he isn't yelling. "No one thinks he's coming back. I know that."

"I think he could still come back," Chelsea declares, setting her hand to the back of Dean's neck. Cas is quiet, but squeezes Dean's knee.

"This is pointless," Cas says. His voice is utterly emotionless, and completely firm. "We don't have any method of determining what is really happening. We don't know who's behind this and the only person with the power said he's not behind it."

"Who's that?" Bobby demands.

"Gabriel," Dean answers.

"And you trust the trickster?"

"Usually, no," Cas sighs. "But for this, I do. Gabriel isn't… subtle or generous. If there was any chance at all he felt the need to do this, he would have just dropped everyone he intended to bring back into the living room. He may have staggered them, he's powerful, but not all powerful, and he'd never mess around with the sort of time anomalies we've been running into with Bobby visiting our house and finding it empty, or no Hunter mentioning Ellen for months when it's unlikely they hadn't seen her."

Dean sees the way that Bobby's eyebrows lift slightly at "our house" and Cas's hand on his leg seems heavier.

Karen and Chelsea start clearing plates.

"Ellen, how was your werewolf hunt?" Cas asks.

And the conversation is suddenly over.

Karen and Chelsea pass out pie and coffee and everyone goes into the living room for dessert. Bobby grabs Dean's arm just as everyone else goes into the living room and they duck into the laundry room off the kitchen.

"Bobby, please. Can we not… get into the Sam thing right now?" Dean asks.

Bobby just shrugs. "You seem tired, Dean."

And it could mean all kinds of different things, and Dean just finds himself responding to issue that is most central in his mind right now.

"You don't have to worry."

"Maybe. But I still do." Bobby shrugs again. "Glad to see there's no booze in the house."

Dean feels a little flush of shame. Even though Bobby always knew, and knows even better now. "Cas is watching out for me."

"I noticed that. Guess you just take the guardian out of the Angel."

"Yeah."

"Been thinking. I don't need both these houses in my name. Two of you… have a home here. Might set aside some time in the next couple weeks. Sign some paperwork."

Dean nods. "Bobby, are you giving us this house?"

Bobby gives him a look that he can't quite interpret, then chuckles. "Well, you've been here the better part of a year without even asking. Might as well."

They pick up pie and coffee. Conversation in the living room sticks to hunting and life and away from mysteries. Everyone leaves before midnight.

Dean helps Cas wash dishes in silence for a while before he suddenly has to know.

"Cas, what do you think is happening with "Wait and See"?"

"I don't know, Dean."

"Just your opinion?"

Cas scrubs a dish, Dean just watches him. "There are so many things that could be doing this, so many combinations of possibilities. I just… what worries me is that Gabriel says that he can't be found. So he's either no where, or he's hidden."

"Then whoever's hiding him would be the one taunting us?"

"I'm not convinced it's a taunt. I just don't know." Cas sets the dishes in the sink and turns to face Dean. "I wish so much that I could give you answers, or bring him back to you."

"I just… I'm not sure what to do anymore, Cas," Dean admits. "I… don't have any leads. I don't know where to look. I don't know what to try. I read all of the Hell lore and he might not even be in Hell. I've got most of the Hunters in North America looking for him, and zilch. I called down an Archangel, who we all think is on the level and he can't find him. Cas… I don't… I don't know what to do if I don't get him back. I just… I take care of Sam. That's who I am."

"You take care of me," Cas offers.

Dean sets his hand at Cas's elbow. "Don't. I'd have been so dead, in so many humiliating ways if it weren't for you. You make… me miss him less."

Cas steps forward and hugs him… and it's… like it usually is. But Dean's starting to really… think about it.

Our house. Our friends. Our bedroom. Our bed. Cas's "You love me" from last week. Him helping Cas be human. Cas helping him chase away the nightmares. Neither of them Civilian enough for anyone else. Neither of them Human enough for anyone else.

Cas is warm in his arms, tight around him, stroking his back when he hugs him. It's not different from how they usually are.

But it's not a normal hug. Between friends. Even close friends. It's the same way they've been hugging. Arms around each other, chests pressed together. And it's not how Cas hugs Bobby, all shoulders. Or Karen. Or even Chelsea.

And even as Dean realizes this, and shivers, he still can't let go.

"I'm starting to worry that I'm never going to find him," Dean whispers. And it's the first time he's admitted it. Even to himself. It's been almost a year of spinning his wheels.

Cas insinuates himself even closer. Dean hears him start to say something, then cut himself off.

"What if we looked for Adam too? They are the two that were in the cage. They were both possessed by Archangels and the time. If there are any leads to Adam they may at least provide a blue print for finding Sam. And we haven't asked anyone about him."

The gratitude burns in Dean. Cas still has faith. Cas still thinks there are trails to follow. Cas isn't giving up. Cas finally loosens his hold on Dean and pulls back, just inches.

Dean leans forward and presses a kiss to Cas's lips.



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