It seemed to Castiel that the room would never stop shaking, that the piercing, shrill siren would plague his ears forever, but he could cope with it if it meant Dean would remain pressed so close to him. He’d missed it, forgotten how much he loved that intense smell that clung to Dean’s clothes which seemed to be his entire essence. He sniffed hungrily, knowing that they only had a few moments left together. He was determined that his last memory would be of Dean somehow.
And then the room seemed to return to normal, and the silence felt as deafening as the angel’s arrival, and still Dean didn’t let go of Castiel, and the ex-angel felt completely confused. The conversation they’d been having had been terse, and Dean had seemed angry, so what did it mean that he was still holding Castiel as though he were protecting him? Did Dean realise how much harder it would be to accept his fate when he was treating Castiel like this?
‘Castiel,’ Naomi’s voice rang through the room, as though it were amplified with power. Castiel couldn’t talk, his throat felt too dry. Instead he swallowed, and buried further into Dean, realising how badly he was shaking as he did so. His fingers were digging so hard into Dean’s shirt that he was sure he would wear a hole in it. Dean spoke, his voice rough and rasping, and Castiel knew he should release his hold a little bit there was no way he could.
‘I don’t think he wants to talk right now.’
Did Castiel imagine it, or did Dean squeeze him back?
‘This is not your business, Winchester.’
‘If it involves Cas, it’s all my business.’
Castiel squeezed his eyes closed even tighter, wishing he knew what Dean was thinking. He assumed that Dean’s hatred of his siblings was outweighing any of their problems at that moment, and Dean’s attitude was very much about screwing the angels over. It had nothing to do with Castiel.
‘Fine. Castiel, your time limit has expired. You haven’t completed the task at hand. Let go of the human and come here.’
Naomi sounded stern, and Castiel’s heart sank. Would she kill him now, in front of Dean? Or would she take him back to Heaven for one last glimpse of the place before he met his fate? He didn’t want to go, didn’t want to loosen his hold of Dean. He couldn’t move anyway, even if he wanted to, because when would he next get the chance to see Dean?
‘Who is this chick?’
Dean muttered it so quietly, that Castiel wasn’t sure if he was meant to hear or not. He used to be able to hear Dean muttering from across the room, and it stung a little that he could no longer hear so well. He felt stifled, being human, but it was better than the reason Vibeke and Naomi were there. And Castiel knew that they, at least would have no problem hearing Dean. Naomi’s answer was fairly reasonable, considering Dean’s rudeness.
‘My name is Naomi. Castiel, I’m waiting.’
‘Well, you’re going to keep waiting sweetheart, he’s not going anywhere.’ Castiel was almost positive that Dean squeezed him again that time. He so wanted to believe that Dean was standing up to Naomi out of love, and not to be a belligerent fool. ‘What was this timed task about, anyway?’
Castiel heard Vibeke snigger, and felt Dean tense beneath his grip. As for Castiel, he couldn’t understand the mirth, the glee that had caused Vibeke to laugh. It was as though she were delighting in the notion that Castiel was about to die, but that didn’t compute for Castiel. Wasn’t she still in love with him? Or her weak version of it, anyway, since angelic emotions seemed so muted compared to the wildness of being human. But if she did care for him, or was still adamant that the follow a million-year-old protocol, then why would his destruction appeal to her? He really didn’t understand it.
‘So this is the perfect relationship you screwed Heaven over for? You don’t even talk to each other?’
Castiel felt sick. That must be what she was so enthused about, that Castiel had failed to make Dean love him again, that they were still having problems. But reason was beginning to catch up with Castiel, and he quickly did the maths. It had taken him a day to reach the bus stop, and two days waiting there. Another day on the bus, and one with Meg, just. Three days in that strange dreamland, and today. He’d only had nine days out of the entire month. They couldn’t have come to kill him already, he still had plenty of time. He wanted to relax, but Dean was shuffling them around, so that he could talk to Naomi directly, instead of turning away from Castiel to do so. The ex-angel waited patiently for Dean’s next move.
‘Castiel was given a month to salvage your relationship.’
So Naomi knew the time frame, she must have been aware of how far they were falling short. Dean’s body tensed again, and Castiel wished he could make himself move, just to soothe the irate hunter.
‘And?’ Dean sounded as though he couldn’t care less, and Castiel was unsure as to whether his tone referred to the time limit, their relationship, or Naomi and Vibeke’s involvement.
‘And?’ Naomi repeated, sounding puzzled. Perhaps she too, found Dean somewhat enigmatic. Although she probably didn’t find him as verile as Castiel did when his Alpha Male gene kicked in.
‘You said he failed. Even though time’s not up and it’s not like it’s any of your goddamn business. So what’s the punishment? He becomes your lapdog, huh?’
It seemed Dean had done the maths too, and for the first time since Castiel had woken up - probably since Dean had walked out of Becky’s house - Castiel wondered how Dean had coped in the last nine days, whether he’d been driven to see Castiel again as well, or whether he had pretended Castiel didn’t exist or … he wasn’t sure. Maybe Dean had spent the last week completely inebriated.
‘The time limit has lapsed.’
‘It’s not been a month. We have about three days left.’
Maybe Castiel was incorrect about Dean’s math skills. How could they vary so widely in their calculations? How did Dean account for those additional days? Dean was muttering under his breath again, and though Castiel didn’t hear it this time, he could guess that it was something profane about Naomi and Vibeke. In this instance, Cas agreed with him. But still, he couldn’t make himself move, couldn’t accomplish anything except to grip onto Dean like a life raft. The hunter didn’t seem to particularly mind, though he was preoccupied with the conversation at hand.
‘And besides,’ Dean’s voice was raised, and Castiel recognised the signs of an impending rant. ‘Do we look like we’re not together? Do we look like there’s not something there? Not like it’s anything to do with you.’
Castiel had to think Deans words through slowly. Yes, by all appearances, by the way he was clutching at Dean, and Dean was holding him back, they seemed very much a unit. But the heart-breaking, chest-aching truth was that they probably never would be again. Castiel could see what Dean was attempting, however. He just couldn’t understand why.
‘Are you saying you’re back together?’
Naomi asked the question cautiously, as though she were checking against some misinformation. Castiel wondered what information they had in the first place, whether he was a conduit for the angels decision to act. He forced his inner monologue to sound unsurprised by Dean’s assertion that they were once again an item.
‘I’m saying we had a fight. I’m not going to be threatened by freaking angels every time we don’t see eye-to-eye. I’m not going to act differently just because that one over there,’ Dean’s head pivoted away from Castiel, and the ex-angel knew he was nodding towards Vibeke. ‘Can’t let him go. Was this her idea, huh?’
Castiel hadn’t even begun to think of Naomi and Vibeke’s motivations. And although it seemed true enough for Vibeke, it left Castiel curious as to how she had hoodwinked Naomi into believing that their time limit was up. There had to be some foul play somewhere, Castiel decided. Dean wasn’t done yelling at either angel.
‘Well, fine. You stand over there, I’ll go to that corner. And we’ll call him over like a puppy dog. Whoever he chooses, wins. But I tell you now, you son of a bitch, he’s not letting go.’
Dean was most definitely annoyed, but Castiel was glad that Dean at least knew him well enough to be confident of the outcome. He would never, ever pick Vibeke over Dean.
‘So, anyway, there’s still three days, bye.’
Dean’s head shifted again, as though he were cuddling closer to Castiel, and finally the ex-angel found his tongue.
‘Three weeks,’ he whispered to his lover. ‘We still have three weeks.’
Dean tensed once more, and Castiel couldn’t understand why, unless he was correct and Dean was lying like crazy to Naomi and Vibeke. Maybe it was best that Castiel remained quiet, so he didn’t upset Dean further.
‘We don’t, Cas.’ Dean whispered quickly, and then raised his voice again. ‘You never said what the punishment was.’
Naomi’s answer was brisque, and her tone businesslike, and it cut through Castiel’s core in a similar way to Dean’s dismissal did.
‘Castiel will be terminated.’
This time, Castiel was ready for Dean squeezing him as his muscles bunched together.
‘Because we had one fight?’
Castiel wished that he could rephrase things as well as Dean did. Phrasing their break up as a fight seemed to make the punishment seem overly dramatic.
‘I don’t think you fully understand, Dean.’ Naomi’s tone was condescending, in Castiel’s opinion. His nails dug into Dean’s flesh even further. It sounded as though it didn’t matter what Dean said, how trivial he made the break up sound, Heaven had made their decision and that decision was Castiel’s death. But Dean surprised him, though maybe he shouldn’t have, because he refused to take Naomi’s decision for a final answer.
‘Uh-uh, no way. He’s mine. And we’re not going to jump every time Heaven says so. You took his grace, that should be all the punishment he needs. There’s no way in Hell that I’m letting you take him from me. You know what this is? This is her being jealous, that Cas doesn’t look at her the way he looks at me. That he puts me first. That whatever I feel about him, I know he feels the same way. And she wants that, and she’s a psycho bitch.’
There was so much conviction in Dean’s words, that for a moment Castiel fully believed him. He turned his head minutely, enough to be able to look up at the hunter in surprise. Dean was studiously avoiding his eye contact, and Castiel accepted almost instantly that if they were to look at each other, Dean wouldn’t be able to keep up the pretence. Still, it afforded Castiel the time to study his ex-lovers face up close, to look at the soft curves of his cheekbones and the dusting of freckles amongst his stubble, the long and delicate eyelashes and those soft, plump lips. If he was going to die, Dean’s face was the final memory he wanted to have, mingled in with that wonderful smell of his.
‘Angels aren’t capable of jealousy. And now that Castiel is human, their betrothal is void. Although that may not matter soon.’ Naomi responded. Castiel thought she was lying as much as Dean. Angels handled their jealousy differently, that was all. Most of the time, they competed for how much they were in God’s circle, boasting about how much their father favoured them, how much power their grace gave them as a result. But there was little point telling Dean, and he knew the hunter would just not care.
‘May not matter?’ He scoffed at her. Of course Dean would pick up on something else that Naomi had said.
‘Are you being honest with your intentions regarding Castiel?’
Castiel wondered what on earth Naomi was picking up from Dean, how much he was managing to convince her. It sounded as though she was relenting. He didn’t dare hope for a pardon, not yet.
‘No, he’s not. They were fighting as we came. We both heard them!’ Vibeke finally joined in the conversation herself, and Castiel watched as Dean winced, before his face became passive once more.
‘I love him, okay? And we weren’t fighting,’ Castiel watched as Dean rolled his eyes, unable to believe what he’d just heard. Dean had finally said it, but not to him. Castiel wanted to hear it again, wanted to believe that it could be true, that it wasn’t just a result of Dean’s prejudice against his former kind. ‘We were making up. Kinda funny how you just appeared now, when we were getting back on track, time limits be damned. What is it, if you can’t have him, no one can?’
And then Dean’s hand was on the back of his head, massaging his scalp through the dark brown hair, and Castiel felt himself shaking with emotion. Were they making up? Was he reading Dean completely wrongly?
‘Vibeke … is this true?’ This time, Naomi sounded unsure, and Castiel knew that Dean had convinced her somehow. Was she reacting to the word love as well? Did she realised how monumental it was for Dean to even say that word? For the first time, Castiel saw himself surviving this, and he knew he would never be able to repay Dean.
‘Of course it’s not true. It’s typical of a human to suspect something like that. I am merely seeing my job through, Naomi.’ Vibeke had none of Dean’s finesse, Castiel thought, and her voice seemed saturated with poorly veiled rage.
There was a silence that followed, and Castiel knew that Naomi was trying to make her decision. Dean tightened his hold on Castiel, so that his entire body felt constricted, and he could barely breathe. He could no longer see Dean’s face, just the tanned, stubbled skin of his neck. That spot he’d always liked Castiel kissing, just below his ear, just beyond his jawline. He missed those moments with Dean so much, the ones where they just seemed to understand each other on a level that went beyond words.
‘Vibeke, we will discuss your behaviour in due course,’ Naomi finally broke the silence, and Castiel knew there was no arguing with whatever decision she made. ‘Maybe your promotion was too advanced for your skill level. As for you, Castiel, I’m choosing to believe your human. You may live, but you cannot have your grace back, that punishment is still in effect.’
Castiel’s entire body seemed to loosen at her words. It had worked, Dean had saved him, and he owed him everything. Not having his grace back meant next to nothing, he was being given the chance to try to win Dean again. He shifted in Dean’s arms, as much as the hunter would allow him to, and he peeked at Naomi.
‘Thank you.’ He hoped his tone was sincere, and not overly-excitable. Naomi regarded him carefully, as though she could see through him.
‘Don’t waste your opportunity, Castiel.’
‘Hey, one more thing!’ Dean said loudly, making Castiel jump. ‘Cas and me, we’re not always going to see eye-to-eye. It happens. But I am not spending the rest of my life with angel dickbags breathing down my neck making sure that we have a relationship you agree with. We can’t live with you holding a fucking sword over our heads, ready to drop it because one of us messed up. Heaven stops interfering, right?’
Naomi seemed to consider this for a moment, and Castiel hoped that she wasn’t going to take her decision back based on his rudeness. But then she nodded curtly, and Castiel was grateful for her mercy.
‘Agreed. As far as your relationship is concerned, there will be no interference from us. As to the state of Castiel’s grace, we will be monitoring him.’
Castiel couldn’t believe she would reconsider his grace as well. This time, when he spoke, he couldn’t hide any emotion, and he sounded far too excited.
‘That also seems fair. Thank you, Naomi.’
‘Naomi, please reconsider, what they’ve done-‘ Vibeke whined. Castiel couldn’t even look at her, instead he watched as Naomi scowled at her, clearly agitated with the other angel. Castiel felt sorry for Naomi, for being dragged into this mess.
‘Vibeke, return to Heaven. Now. I need to give you an appraisal.’
Castiel couldn’t help but look at Vibeke, as Dean pulled him closer. Vibeke’s face was etched with anger, and Castiel saw the decision to attack form in her eyes before she moved. She had barely taken a few steps towards them when she and Naomi suddenly disappeared, and Castiel felt shaken. If Naomi hadn’t intervened, would Vibeke really have killed him? Was Dean correct with that guess?
And slowly, Castiel noticed that he and Dean were still standing together, wrapped up in each other, as though neither would let the other go even without the threat of the angels. There was no need for them to be embracing so ferociously, and yet Castiel didn’t want to let Dean go, didn’t want to face to reality of their situation. He wanted to continue pretending, but he knew that it would never last.
‘Are they gone?’ He finally asked. Dean leaned his head against Castiel’s.
‘Yeah. Sure looks like it. Naomi’s probably cutting Vibeke a new one in Heaven right now.’
Castiel couldn’t believe how easily Dean was responding, but he didn’t want to read too much into what it meant, in case he got his hopes up too much. It was enough that Dean had taken away the threat of his demise. He forced himself to stay neutral over the whole debacle.
‘Well, thank you, Dean. You were … you did well. Thank you for lying so convincingly.’
Instead of blowing off the thank you as Castiel was expecting, Dean pulled his head back, holding tightly and pulling slightly on Castiel’s hair. The ex-angel reluctantly looked into Dean’s eyes, and the hunter finally spoke again.
‘Where was I lying?’
Castiel frowned. Wasn’t Dean lying? If Dean was telling the truth, then that meant … was it possible? Dean pushed on.
‘Why would you think I was lying?’
Castiel licked his lips, unsure as to how to proceed. Dean wanted to get back together? Dean really loved him? The hunter’s eyes flicked down, watching Castiel lick his lips, and suddenly the ex-angel felt indecent, like he was making an advance at Dean that he hadn’t been aware of. He babbled a response.
‘You … you weren’t?’
Dean maintained eye contact as he shook his head slowly, allowing it to all sink in. Everything Dean had said about the break up being a blip, about them getting back together, and being in love with Castiel … it was all true?
‘Meant every word, Cas. But we still have some issues to sort through before I’m comfortable with us again, okay?’
There was no room for relief, Castiel was in shock. Dean loved him. Even after everything, Dean loved him. Castiel would give him the world.
Dean winced again, but forced himself to focus. Castiel was in awe of how much his lover - not his ex-lover, his current lover - could keep his mind on track. Castiel’s mind was half-emerged in the fact that they were still pressed so tightly together.
‘Uh-huh. It was one at a time.’
Castiel wasn’t following Dean’s way of thinking.
‘Our dates. I said one at a time, Cas. You were putting so much pressure on me to go out with you, and I’d okayed that even though I was totally freaked out and not really sure what we were even talking about, and you wanted definite answers to questions I wasn’t ready to think about. I panicked, but I thought that was a pretty good answer, you know? I thought it would take the pressure off. I thought you understood what I meant.’
‘I do, Dean. One date.’ Castiel felt puzzled. What else could one date possibly have meant?
‘Yeah, Cas. I guaranteed you one date. I didn’t say I wouldn’t consider any more. It was a see-how-we-go-thing, a we-could-be-friends-if-it-doesn’t-work-out thing. You know, if you didn’t get it, you could’ve asked me to explain it better.’
Castiel felt himself frowning, as he tried to follow Dean’s logic, an uncomfortable weight settling in his stomach. Had he gotten everything so wrong? Could they have avoided a lot of this mess if Castiel had just realised that Dean didn’t mean one date only? He felt sick.
‘Look, Cas, what if I’d given you a number? What if I’d said ten dates? And then we get to number ten and we both wanted more, would you do the same thing? Or what if I said five dates, and we both realised on date number two that it just wasn’t going to work out? Would you have made me go through with the rest of them? Cas, I gave the best answer I could, okay? And like you said, no answer was ever going to be good enough. I did my best.’
He felt very sick. And yet Dean didn’t release him, didn’t try to move away. Whatever Dean’s point was, there was more than he was saying, more than Castiel could acknowledge through the sheer feeling of being so overwhelmed.
‘I never thought of it like that. I guess I got caught up in the idea that I might have you. When did … when did you know you wanted more than the first date?’
Dean’s eyes flicked down again, as though he didn’t want to let Castiel in to whatever private thought he was having. Castiel assumed that meant he was on the right lines. The nauseated feeling increased in his stomach. How long had he been taking action to try and win Dean when the hunter was already there, wanting him too? When Dean looked back up into his eyes, his own mossy green ones seemed glazed over with lust.
‘When we were making out in the Impala, that first time. It just felt like we worked, you know? Do you remember what I said to you then?’
Dean’s voice croaked, and Castiel tried to remember what Dean had said. He felt slightly panicked when he realised his memory wasn’t as perfectly in tact as it used to be. Was that a human thing, to only remember specific parts of a day rather than the exact minutae? He could remember Dean, propped above him, half naked, Castiel’s fingers tracing along his stomach to his waistband. What had Dean said?
‘All in good time?’
Dean looked back at him with a tired expression, and Castiel knew he had guessed incorrectly. But Dean seemed patient when he spoke again, like he was realising more about Castiel than before, and things he had previously taken for granted he was reconsidering. Maybe they were closer to being on the same page.
‘I said we had all the time in the world. That you don’t agree to going out with your best friend without knowing it’s probably going to be long term. Cas, I said that on our first date. And when have I ever gone back on that, or said I didn’t want anything?’
Castiel strained for the memory. Dean had said that, hadn’t he? And later at the bar, he’d put Castiel’s emotions before the girls who had been trying to work them for a free drink. Castiel felt terrible. He’d never really trusted Dean to feel anything back, never considered that the hunter would ever be capable of loving him on his own terms. Dean’s next words seemed to highlight that thought.
‘I still want you, Cas. I didn’t break up with you because I didn’t want you. I was hurt. I mean, we’d just had a great time together, and all this crap came out.’
‘You really want to get back together?’ Castiel could never have hoped for this. Yes, he’d wanted it, wanted Dean back, but he’d never taken the time to consider how Dean felt. He promised himself that he’d make the effort from then on to consider Dean first, to try not to act on his own impulses, as difficult as that would be. Dean once again flicked his gaze down before returning his attention to Castiel’s eyes.
‘Cas, you suck at reading signals.’
‘Is that one of our issues?’ Castiel knew it was, he’d just had that epiphany, but he wondered whether Dean would acknowledge it. The hunter groaned, resting his forehead against Castiel’s, his eyes fully closed.
‘Sometimes,’ Dean’s answer seemed resigned. Castiel tried to verbalise how lost he felt when trying to interpret Dean’s intentions, though he knew he was probably still wide off the mark.
‘I can’t tell what you’re thinking right now.’
Dean swallowed so loudly that Castiel could hear it.
‘You know how you find out, Cas?’ Dean raised the hand not gripping the back of Castiel’s neck, and caressed his face gently, holding it in place. Castiel felt his eyelids flutter involuntarily. ‘You ask me. Because if you haven’t noticed already, I’ve given you everything you’ve asked for. I’ll give you anything I can, Cas.’
Castiel was hard pressed to find the words to encapsulate how much it meant to hear Dean say something like that. And he presumed it was true, when Castiel didn’t want to have sex, Dean had traced his fingers across the then-angel’s back. When Castiel had bought all the items from Amsterdam, Dean had okayed using almost all of it. Dean had been showing his feelings all along, hadn’t he? Subtly, yes, so discreetly that Castiel had been obtuse to it all, but in hindsight - or maybe with his recently acquired human rationalisation - it seemed so clear that Dean was trying to express himself with his limited emotional vocabulary.
‘I want to give you what you want too, Dean.’ It seemed the right thing to say in the moment. Dean’s eyes flicked back open, mossy green and intense and almost seething with an emotion that hit Castiel in the solar plexus.
‘Does that mean you’ll stop calling things perfect? Like me, and our relationship? I can’t live up to perfect, Cas.’
Did Castiel do that very much? He supposed this was part of the reason why Dean was saying he felt pressurised. He’d forgotten how little Dean thought of himself, and chose to boost his ego, hoping it would have the desired effect.
‘You’re perfect to me.’
Dean groaned again.
‘Cas, it’s just more pressure.’
Castiel felt pleased that he’d managed to understand Dean’s way of thinking, and decided to make an effort in future to hold back on whatever would make the hunter feel pressured. For now, he wanted to embrace the conversation, since Dean was being so unusually open.
‘Sorry. What else, Dean?’
He looked away again, and Castiel focused on those long, delicate eyelashes. Dean shifted his weight, and Castiel presumed it was a topic that the hunter would find difficult to broach. He waited patiently, revelling in the smell of his boyfriend. He got to call Dean that again. His boyfriend.
‘Just … your fantasy, the one we were married in? Is that what you want? You want to be married in some suburban place with a plastic version of me?’
Castiel felt his heart jolt. Dean was being too hard on himself, as usual, Castiel could tell that much. He thought hard to come up with some explanation for the way he felt in that other world, which seemed so synthetic now. He knew enough that the topics they were covering were going to bring them all the things he had loved best in that world. Except maybe the picture of them that he wished could have materialised in his pocket the way he’d expected. Or yes, admittedly, his finger felt odd without his wedding band.
‘It was a happy version of you. And I can take or leave being married. What I liked most in there was how we were together. I understood you, you knew me, it was … it was …’
Castiel faltered. The last thing he wanted to do was describe it as perfect, and yet their connection had felt that way. At least, until the real Dean - his Dean - made an appearance, and Castiel was forced to consider the reality of his situation.
‘It was how you wanted us to be?’
Dean supplied, and Castiel latched on gratefully.
‘Yes! I know you’re still going to hunt, and you still want to live in the bunker, but all that was just details. It was how we were that mattered.’
And then Dean was leaning closer, kissing Castiel slowly, with none of the fury of the kiss that had saved Castiel, but a low burning heat was present nonetheless. The ex-angel sank into those lips that knew him so well, that gave everything but still seemed satisfied with their connection. And then Dean was talking into Castiel’s mouth in that way he did sometimes, and Castiel felt complete, because Dean was clearly feeling more comfortable in his own skin.
‘We want the same things, Cas,’ he nibbled on Castiel’s lower lip, sending electricity straight to Castiel’s penis. Which was probably Dean’s intention. ‘The big things, anyway.’
It took Castiel a couple of seconds to release what Dean meant. He wanted their almost telepathic communication back too? Castiel decided, if this was the time to declare what it was they wanted, he would make himself stand up to Dean and ask for those things that played on his mind the most. Without putting pressure on the hunter. After all, Dean had said to ask, and that’s all Castiel was doing.
‘There are other things I want, Dean,’ his voice betrayed his nerves.
‘Mmmmm.’ Dean was preoccupied with his mouth. Castiel fought hard to stay focused, knowing this was a potentially explosive subject to approach.
‘I don’t always want to have sex with you. Sometimes I just want to know you love me. I- you did say that, didn’t you? That you love me?’
That made Dean pull away, and look into his eyes again. His expression was pinched, as though he was fighting a grimace, but otherwise his face was blank, and Castiel had no idea whether he had overstepped the mark. But Dean had to know he’d been dying to hear those words, dying for Dean to mean them.
Dean’s eyes flicked quickly back and forth between Castiel’s own, as though he was expecting a trick. Was he waiting for Castiel to dismiss the request? Because Castiel wasn’t confident that he could accomplish that.
‘Yes, Cas,’ he finally spoke, his voice low, and slow, like every word carried a huge emotion. Castiel understood that for Dean, it did. It probably resonated deep within the hunter, and vocalising the emotion was the problem. But he did it anyway, for Castiel. ‘I love you.’
And Castiel knew he shouldn’t make a huge deal over the confession, but it was hard to be restrained. Dean loved him! Really loved him, despite everything that had gone wrong between them. He clung tighter to the broad-shouldered man in front of him, burying his head in the curve of Dean’s neck and inhaling slowly. That leather-cinnamon-apple-and-earth smell belonged to the man he loved, who loved him back. Dean’s fingers knotted further into his hair, as Castiel told him what he already knew.
‘I love you too, Dean.’
‘I know.’ Dean sounded choked up, and Castiel anticipated the moment that Dean reminded him not to place pressure on him. ‘Cas-‘
‘I know. But once in a while will be good enough.’ Castiel cut him off. He knew Dean would probably say something about how Castiel’s once in a while may be more frequent than he could handle, but Castiel was learning now. He could remember the fantasy Dean saying it to him over and over, like a throwaway comment humans make about the weather. The way Dean had just said it, in that moment of privacy, with all the emphasis on emotion behind it? Yes, hearing it infrequently would be good, because it would be sincere, and heartfelt. Castiel was starting to question whether it was possible that Dean could love him more fervently than he did the hunter.
‘What’s up, bitches?’
Charlie had the worst timing ever, in Castiel’s opinion. But he couldn’t say anything, because Dean was fond of her, and he knew he had to make the effort with her. He stayed quiet, hoping she would leave them alone at least for a while. He’d make amends with her later, when he and Dean were done making up themselves.
‘Charlie,’ Dean’s voice was dangerously low and terse, and Castiel wondered if he too wished, at least for the time being, that Charlie wasn’t around to mess up their reunion.
‘Want some coffee?’ Charlie’s voice was overly bright. Castiel wondered if Dean too could see that her need for coffee was a guise for getting more information about the state of their relationship. Charlie didn’t leave it long to ask after it, at any rate. ‘Hey, so you guys are all made up now, huh? Everything cool between you?’
Dean didn’t answer her as Castiel had been expecting. He knew that out of his range of sight, Dean was probably communicating silently with Charlie. Castiel nearly jumped as Dean nuzzled closer, his lips caressing the ex-angel’s ear as he whispered.
‘Wanna go to our room?’
Castiel didn’t miss that Dean had called it “our” room and not “my” room. That meant more than Castiel was capable of making tangible with words. All he could do was nod. Dean immediately let go of his head, one hand stroking down Castiel’s shoulder, and then his arm, until he reached his fingers. He slotted them easily into his own, and began to walk across the kitchen, Castiel following willingly, knowing that their room would probably mean some very loud, very enthusiastic sex. He felt giddy as he tried to keep pace with Dean, his legs shaking with anticipation. This was how the hunter communicated best.
‘Oh, come on guys, I wanna talk. It’s not easy being the fifth wheel, you know.’
Castiel had never considered that Charlie might have felt lonely being around them, even with Dean not talking to him. Maybe Dean had always suspected it and that was why he was more tolerable of her being around them? Castiel felt as though he was learning a lot, being human.
‘So go pick up some chick,’ Dean shrugged carelessly, tugging at Castiel’s hand. The ex-angel knew he wasn’t mad at Charlie. He must have just been preoccupied.
‘Can I come with you guys?’
Castiel was surprised at his own vehemence, which was echoed in Dean’s tone. It wasn’t that he disliked Charlie, not at that point, but couldn’t she see how important it was that they spent some time together? Dean continued to wordlessly insist on pulling Castiel out of the door, squeezing his fingers once more. This time, Castiel squeezed back tentatively, wondering if Dean were trying to communicate something by doing so. All thoughts of Charlie were dismissed as the two of them walked down the hallway to their room, and instead Castiel became preoccupied with what Dean was thinking. Anticipation of what could happen made his chest buzz, constricted his breathing. Would the hunter kiss him again the way he had in that fantasy world? Or would he let loose further, and give Castiel some of the most mind-blowing sex he’d ever experienced? Whatever Castiel had said a moment before didn’t negate the fact that he wanted Dean to touch him, to be physical with him. He needed to know that this was definitely real.
Castiel followed Dean into the room, noticing that someone had cleared away the beeping machine from the side of the bed. He squeezed Dean’s fingers gently, hoping that whatever the hunter had been indicating by doing so to him was what he was communicating back, or attempting to, at least. Dean didn’t respond, and when Castiel looked at him, his expression was akin to shell-shock. Castiel instantly wanted to know what was making Dean react so badly, and then he talked himself into asking. Dean had said it was okay, that it was what he wanted. Castiel was just going to have to figure out the fine line of asking his boyfriend questions and not being too demanding.
‘Dean?’ Castiel was still hesitant. Dean would answer, wouldn’t he? ‘What’re you thinking about right now?’
Dean exhaled slowly through his mouth, but responded fairly normally, all things considered.
‘I was thinking that every now and then, it surprises me, the way Becky’s changed. I don’t mean the Becky we first saw at her place, I mean the Becky that’s been around since she and Sam started going out. I don’t know, maybe she’s supposed to be with Sam.’
Castiel smiled as Dean turned to look at him. He was complimenting Becky? The real Becky, the one whose soul was pure sunshine, who Castiel had quickly become friends with? Maybe Castiel needed to make his lover worry more often. Dean looked at the bed, and then back to Castiel.
‘So, how’s being human?’ He sounded confident, and Castiel envied that about him. He answered as honestly as he could, though he hadn’t given much thought to being human. Maybe it was because the Winchesters - and their friends - had worked for so long to make Castiel adjust to the human way of life that meant some of it came easily. Or maybe it was because Castiel’s bloody-minded need for Dean had just made the arbitrary trials of human life seem that much less important. After all, Dean was everything.
‘Filthy. And slow. And I’m finding that I can’t remember large patches of the days like I used to. I could remember everything, Dean, and now it’s a strain,’ he realised he sounded petulant, and tried to correct his tone. After all, his misery was over losing time with Dean, not over being human. The irony of losing his memory wasn’t lost on Castiel. ‘But I’ll learn to cope.’
‘Don’t be a martyr, Cas. It’s a big change.’
Castiel nodded in agreement.
‘It is, and I’m not pretending it’s not hard, but the pay-off is worth it.’
Dean’s face moved quickly, from surprise to apprehension to something a little more animalistic. Castiel recognised the expression as one that Dean took on just before kissing him roughly. Castiel was desperate for him to do it, to approach and dominate the ex-angel. He wanted their physical connection more than ever before, to the point that he was debating approaching the hunter himself, reaching through that short inch of height difference to let Dean know exactly what he wanted.
‘Cas? I know you don’t want to have sex, but um-‘
‘That’s not what I said,’ Castiel interrupted hastily, eager for whatever Dean was about to suggest. ‘I like sex Dean. Or at least, I’ve enjoyed it with you. I just don’t want our relationship to be entirely about sex, that’s all.’
‘Cas, it’s never been about just sex.’
Castiel heard the sincerity in Dean’s tone. How long had he missed that fact? It was slowly becoming obvious that sex was just the easiest way Dean knew to express the feelings that must have been alien to him. He looked into Castiel’s eyes, his own seemingly saturated with lust, and Castiel found himself wondering how on earth Dean could be holding back. His self-control was phenomenal, but Castiel was grateful for it. It had been too long since he had been able to look in Dean’s eyes like this, where all time stood still and the world just stopped existing and the only thing that mattered was them.
And then Dean was closing the short distance between them, bending Castiel’s head back as gently as he could manage with one hand so he had easy access to Castiel’s mouth, and the other hand wrapping around Castiel’s waist. His breath traced Castiel’s face, and it made the ex-angel feel emboldened. Dean had said he could ask for anything, and the hunter would do his best to give him whatever he wanted, hadn’t he? As Dean bent closer, he forced the question out.
Dean paused, not quite touching, but close enough that Castiel felt the sensation of his skin anyway. His eyes were still so intense, and Castiel had to force the words out.
‘Could you, um, could you kiss me like you drink a beer?’
Dean raised his head slightly, and Castiel couldn’t feel the hunter’s skin nearly brushing against his own anymore. Clearly, he was taken aback by the request.
‘How do you mean?’
Castiel felt his face burning, but tried to explain what he meant. It seemed so obvious to Castiel what he meant, but there was a chance that Dean wasn’t even aware of what he did.
‘When you’re drinking out of a beer bottle, you do it a certain way, and I just, I always wondered … what it felt like.’
His entire face felt like it was red hot.
‘I don’t know what you mean, Cas.’
It was agony trying to get this across. Castiel wished he had never brought it up.
‘Just pretend I’m a bottle of beer and you’re going to drink me.’
Dean’s fingers twitched, and then he was pressing closer again, his mouth pressing gently against Castiel’s, his tongue flicking in between Castiel’s lips and the ex-angel sighed happily as their kiss quickly progressed, and it was everything Castiel had imagined it would be, everything he had been missing about Dean. Their tongues slid together, moving in a way that was familiar and yet tainted with nostalgia. Dean tasted of bacon and black coffee, and Castiel couldn’t think of a better flavour for anything at that moment. Their bodies seemed to mould together, and Castiel could feel Dean’s penis, hard and demanding, restrained by his jeans, pressing against Castiel’s inner thighs. He was straining against the pants he was wearing too, his legs shaking as his hands caressed Dean’s firm chest, their mouths working together, moving on from Castiel’s request until he was sure Dean was simulating sex with his mouth.
And then Dean was pulling out of the kiss, even as Castiel fought to keep it going. He knew Dean would probably want to kiss his neck, and normally he loved that but right then, as they were making up, Castiel wanted more mouth-on-mouth action.
‘Cas? We’re going to have make up sex, right?’
Dean had whispered it, and it sent a shiver up Castiel’s spine. Had Dean not realised what he was doing with Castiel’s mouth?
‘Think we just did.’
Dean smiled slowly, lazily, his gaze dropping to Castiel’s neck, and the ex-angel anticipated Dean’s next moves.
‘We’ve barely started.’
He brushed his lips slowly down Castiel’s neck, and Castiel found himself responding without thinking, arching his neck to allow Dean more room to move, exposing more skin to his lover, feeling Dean’s hands slide along his body until his fingers dug into Castiel’s hips, pulling him closer. Castiel closed his eyes, loving the feel of Dean’s mouth on him, and the feeling that Dean wanted him, was besotted with him.
‘You know what?’ Castiel whispered as Dean sucked a little on his neck, grazing the skin with his teeth. He felt the sudden need to show Dean that he did pay attention, that he did recognise certain traits of the hunter’s. ‘You say a lot with your kisses.’
Castiel wasn’t sure if Dean was agreeing with him, or if he was vocalising how much he was enjoying working Castiel’s neck, but he pressed on like they were having a conversation. He could see the rest of the day going that way; the slow, tantalising kisses punctuated with their conversation as they found their rhythm again. He couldn’t wait.
‘You do. It’s like an entire language. It’s why I left the fantasy. That kiss was …’
Dean left his neck alone, and Castiel could feel his eyes burning into him. He had no idea how to describe it, but he could tell Dean wasn’t going to speak, not straight away. Castiel cut to the chase, and explained why he left the fantasy land and came back to reality.
‘As pleasant as the marriage was, Dean, it was nothing like that. And then things seemed to fall apart once you’d gone. I told him about that kiss and he wasn’t- he didn’t … he called me a slut.’
Castiel knew that if he reflected on it properly, he’d realise some link between what that kiss had done to him and the way fantasy Dean had suddenly turned on him that went beyond fantasy Dean’s jealousy. It was potentially his own conscious giving him more reason to come back, he considered.
Dean - the real Dean - on the other hand, seemed baffled by Castiel’s confession.
‘You’re not a slut, Cas.’ His voice was tender, even as he began kissing Castiel’s neck again, his fingers working on the hem of his shirt. Castiel shook as Dean’s fingertips grazed the skin of his stomach.
‘Okay, my powers would be great right now, to just zap off our clothes and get in the bed.’ He whispered wistfully. Dean laughed onto his neck, sending vibrations all over Castiel’s skin.
‘I’m so glad you can’t cheat any more,’ Dean purred, and stopped kissing his neck to pull Castiel’s shirt off. Castiel thought for a moment that he was referring once more to the kiss with Meg, but then realised that Dean was referring to his status as an angel. ‘Let’s see how long you last without your powers.’
Then Dean was pushing him onto the bed, moving faster than Castiel could anticipate, taking hold of Castiel’s bare feet and pulling at the pyjama pants, leaving Castiel naked and aching for Dean on the comforter. He watched as the hunter pulled his own clothes off as quickly as he could, his fingers fumbling on his heavy work boots, and then he was sliding his way over Castiel’s body, lowering himself down so their skin made contact. Castiel couldn’t help his reactions, which were to shiver once again, and groan loudly. He needed Dean.
‘Dean?’ He whispered, as Dean got that animalistic gleam in his eye once more.
‘Mmmmm.’ Dean was clearly preoccupied with Castiel’s body. His gaze travelled across the skin of Castiel’s neck predatorily.
‘I can ask for anything, right?’
He wasn’t sure why he was asking, except that he knew Dean would be harder to convince of this matter than he was the kiss request. He had reacted fairly badly the last time this topic had come up after all, and they were completely in “the moment” that time.
‘Mmmmm, but please ask for an orgasm right now, because I’m already pretty close.’
Castiel felt Dean move his body, making their groins rub against each other, and he felt his eyes roll back in his head. Dean knew exactly what buttons to push, and Castiel had to force himself to focus once more.
‘Can I top? You always do. I know we’ve tried before, and last time you struggled, but in that fantasy, I did top, and we both liked it, and I think you’d like it with me, at least.’
He spoke fast, hoping it would somehow soften the request, but Dean still groaned, and stopped trying to manipulate his body, nuzzling his head into Castiel’s collarbone instead.
‘Please, Cas, not now.’
‘Why not now?’ Castiel persisted, the words jumping from him before he could stop them, before he could consider the fact that this was technically him heaping more pressure on Dean. He rationalised it by considering it them communicating further, removing more elements of confusion between them. Dean had wanted more communication, hadn’t he? ‘I’ve tried to understand where you’re coming from on this Dean, but I can’t. I’m your first boyfriend, but I’m not the first guy you’ve been with?’
‘You’re killing the we just made up, lets have crazy sex mood.’ Dean ground out into his chest. Castiel heard the warning tone, and tried to rephrase it so that Dean knew it wasn’t a pressurised situation. It was him asking. Dean only had to say yes or no, that was all.
‘I’m not trying to do that, and I don’t want to fall out already, I just want to understand.’
Dean’s response was to continue kissing his neck, letting his stubble scratch along the sensitive skin there. Castiel knew exactly what Dean was up to, and he fought to stay in the moment, reverting back to a previous subject.
‘Okay, so these kisses are the I’m-avoiding-the-topic variety,’ he said in a teasing tone. Dean’s response was to nip the part of his neck that had been getting the most attention. Castiel knew he was close to the mark, and continued teasing Dean, glad they were back on track. ‘So I have to work out why you’re avoiding it. And don’t bite me just because I got it right. It’s not linked to your father, is it?’
Dean immediately shifted off of Castiel, pulling his clothes back on at the foot of the bed as reason caught up with Castiel. He’d once again gone too far. Was it linked to John? Had he been inappropriate with Dean in ways that Dean had never admitted to before? It would certainly explain his need to hero worship the father who put so much upon him. Castiel knew fear did strange things to humans, his brothers and sisters certainly used that a lot to get what they wanted.
‘Dean?’ He was hoping Dean would stop putting his clothes back on. They were getting back on track, how could Castiel have gotten it so wrong?
‘I don’t want to talk about it.’ Dean’s tone was sulky, rather than angry. Castiel knew he needed to backtrack.
‘Did he get to Sam too?’
It slipped out of his mouth before he could stop it. But really, it made sense. John had deprived and abused both boys in so many ways, it wasn’t a huge stretch to think he would keep them both in line with sexual dominance. It was an animalistic thing. He wanted to be there for Dean if it was the case, however the hunter would let that happen.
‘No. My dad’s got nothing to do with it. Almost nothing.’
Dean’s tone was hard to read this time, as he pulled his jeans back on. He sat back on the bed, and Castiel scrambled up, over to his lover, determined to make things better somehow. Dean passed him the plaid pants and sweater, and Castiel understood that despite the fact they were both more than ready physically for sex, it wasn’t going to happen.
‘Please, tell me. It’s what I’m here for, right?’ Castiel couldn’t help but push, trying to crack Dean open. Hadn’t they just agreed that it wasn’t going to be this hard, ever again? He made a show of putting his clothes back on, letting Dean know that he was doing as the hunter wanted so it was only fair for Dean to talk. The hunter sighed heavily, but he did comply.
‘Look, I’ve done a lot of things I’m not proud of, Cas. But some things I just had to do. Like earning the money to help Sam get through Stanford. He never asked where the money came from, I think he thought it was a grant, maybe. But I could only get so many fake credit cards, lose so many poker games, behind Dad’s back anyway. It was easy money, you know?’
Castiel was listening hard. From what he could gather, Dean was saying that their father’s overbearing nature had led to him going behind John’s back in order to give Sam what he wanted, even at the cost of himself. That was so Dean, to put someone else before himself, to consider his own needs last. He wished he’d been assigned Dean earlier, to save him from this kind of fate. Dean wasn’t done talking, however. It was as though the floodgates had been opened.
‘Women don’t really pay for sex, surprisingly. Or maybe I needed to go to an agency and end up on some Fed book somewhere and ruin the real job. Whatever. I just wanted to help Sammy, even when he ditched us, when he ditched me. He has no idea, and you can’t tell him, okay? But when someone’s paying you for sex, you don’t call the shots so …’
Dean apparently had no intention of finishing that sentence. But Castiel understood, and he knew that Dean was saying that there was too strong an association for him to be able to bend to that whim, at least for the time being. Castiel watched as Dean worked his knuckles into the muscles of his legs, and found himself slipping behind Dean, caressing his shoulders gently, trying to somehow fix the damage he’d once again caused.
‘I’m sorry, Dean.’
‘Uh-huh.’ Dean still sounded annoyed. But he wasn’t walking away, and Castiel decided to hold onto that fact. This was still salvageable. They were still salvageable.
‘If I still had my powers, I’d take all those memo-‘
‘Don’t even go there. Learn from this, Cas.’ Dean’s tone was final. Castiel couldn’t understand why Dean would want to hold on to the bad memories, but maybe it was a human thing to only remember certain parts of your life? So maybe Dean’s response was entirely human, to want to cling on to whatever memories he could. After all, Castiel wanted to keep hold of every memory of Dean.
‘I just want to look after you, Dean.’ He said quietly, and kissed the back of Dean’s head, through his hair. It was like a magic touch, Because Dean leaned back immediately, letting Castiel continue kissing him gently, his head burrowed in Castiel’s chest as the ex-angel lavished attention on him. It felt right, to remind Dean that Castiel ultimately just wanted the intimacy with him. Even if his penis was still throbbing with need.
‘You’re looking after me right now,’ Dean’s voice sounded choked with emotion. Castiel knew to tread carefully. He nodded, and tried again, tentatively. Maybe he was thinking with his penis, as Dean would put it.
‘It can be a litmus test for us, maybe? When you really trust me again, when you’re ready to put it all behind you, then you’d let me try?’
Dean looked down at his own hands as he considered the question. Castiel knew he might not want to, but the fact that Dean was taking the time to at least think about it was a huge step forward. Whatever the response might be, Castiel knew that he would have to accept it, and even if the answer wasn’t no, he would still have to tread lightly, and accommodate for what Dean was comfortable with.
Dean’s gaze flicked back to Castiel’s, and his mossy green eyes seemed to stretch on forever. Castiel felt like he was falling down a tunnel just looking into them.
He didn’t sound confident, and Castiel knew the yes was loaded with conditions. But ultimately, it wasn’t about Dean agreeing to let him top, it was about the fact that Dean cared for him enough to let him try. Castiel tried to smile at him, before he bent down and kissed his boyfriend on the forehead again, trying to let him know without wasting the words just how much he loved him.