Dean doesn’t remember falling asleep, but he blinks awake a little after two and looks over to see the other half of the bed is empty. When he stretches his hand out over the vacated space, the sheets are cool, empty like Cas hadn’t even been there. He sits upright with a bolt of fear, wondering where Cas has gone and he throws back the covers.
He is halfway down the stairs when he realizes it is freezing and he really should have thrown on a pair of pants. He tiptoes down the stairs, noticing a shaft of light illuminating the hallway at the bottom. He follows the light, blinking against the glare when he opens the kitchen door.
Cas is standing with his back to him, head tipped back as he downs a glass of milk. He looks over when he hears the pad of Dean’s feet on the stone floor and he wipes off a milk moustache. Cas frowns at him then rinses out his glass, adding it to the pile of newly washed dishes on the draining board.
‘What are you doing up?’ Cas asks, his voice low and accusing and Dean knows he shouldn’t push. He walks up behind Cas anyway, wrapping his arms around Cas’ middle and hugging him.
‘Couldn’t sleep,’ he replies, and he presses a kiss to the back of Cas’ ear. Cas squirms, turning his head to try and look at Dean. He tries to loosen Dean’s hold on him, but Dean fights off his hands, bringing one hand up Cas’ shirt.
‘Cas…’ and Dean hates how needy his voice sounds right now, but he needs this. He wants to understand, he wants Cas. He knows that now.
‘Dean, we don’t have to do this.’
‘What if I want to?’ Dean asks, and Cas stiffens beneath him for the second time that night. Dean steps back enough to let Cas turn around and lean his butt against the counter. Cas shakes his head, and Dean knows he has to take the bull by the horns here. This is his chance. He’s on the verge of something here, something like understanding, and he doesn’t want it to slip away.
‘Dean…’ Cas protests, but he’s cut off with a kiss.
Dean kisses Cas like his life depends on it. It’s hungry and desperate, and after a moment a sound escapes Cas, half-moan, half something Dean can’t identify, and all the resistance seems to flow out of him. Cas kisses back with equal fervor and whatever argument he had been about to spout goes unsaid as Dean trails his hands up Cas’ t-shirt, bunching the fabric up and pulling it over his head. It momentarily gets caught on Cas’ cast, and the pair of them share a chuckle before Dean frees him and tosses the shirt to the floor.
Cas pushes off from the sink, grabbing Dean by the hips and pushing him backwards. Dean isn’t sure where they are headed until his butt bites into the table and Cas lifts him up and pushes him back on it. There’s a thunk as something falls over and rolls off the table, landing with a clatter but neither of them pay attention to what it is.
Dean is breathless when Cas pulls away to look at him, blue eyes searching green like Cas is expecting to see something that tells him to stop. Dean grips the back of Cas’ neck and pulls him in for another kiss, letting that be his answer.
Cas pushes Dean’s t-shirt up, parting their kiss to trail kisses up Dean’s torso, following the edge of the t-shirt with his lips. He pauses to lavish attention on one of Dean’s nipples and Dean swallows a moan. The shirt is off and on the floor seconds later, and Cas’ lips are on his collarbone, sucking lightly. It hits Dean that it seems like Cas really knows him, but then Cas has always known him. Cas knows his quirks and his fears, his likes and dislikes, and now apparently, what turns him on. He realizes that this Cas really isn’t that different from the Cas he knows, that this is the natural progression, and all of a sudden time doesn’t matter. This is Cas and Dean has never wanted anything so much in all his life.
Dean’s hands are everywhere on Cas that he can reach. Trailing up his back and over his torso, tangling up into his hair as he brings Cas in for another kiss. Dean arches his hips, looking for friction and finding it when his dick grazes against Cas’ hip.
He lets out a sound that is almost a whine when Cas breaks the kiss and backs off, crawling backwards off the table. Dean watches as Cas kisses down the line of hair leading to his boxers, and he pinches his eyes shut when Cas nuzzles against his cock.
‘Lift,’ Cas orders, and Dean’s eyes snap open again as he plants his feet on the edge of the table and lifts his hips. Cas pulls off his boxers, pressing a kiss to the inside of Dean’s thigh as he tosses the garment aside.
Cas drops his own boxers and kicks them off in the general direction of the rest of their clothes. He’s leaning over Dean again in seconds, looking at him with the same kind of devotion his Cas does, and pulling at Dean’s hips so that he is nearer the edge of the table. Dean grunts, just wanting skin on skin as he brings Cas in for another kiss. Gone are the reservations of this Cas and his Cas not being alike at all. He can see it now, feel that same determination, reverence, faith in the way Cas looks at him, touches him. It’s everything Cas has ever been, but taking physical form his Cas has never been allowed to express. Their next kiss is softer, tender as Dean licks his way into Cas’ mouth.
Cas pulls away from the kiss, staring down at Dean with a smile Dean knows without ever seeing it before is left for moments like this. Dean doesn’t think he could ever get used to seeing that bare affection in Cas’ eyes; it’s overwhelming, and he doesn’t think he can ever live up to it.
‘Come on, Cas,’ Dean pants, desperate to have Cas now he has figured all this out. ‘Please.’
‘Are you sure?’ It’s barely more than a whisper, but Dean nods his head and Cas pulls back completely.
Dean watches in confusion as Cas goes rummaging in cupboards, but he gets a nice view of Cas’ ass when he bends over, so he really isn’t complaining. When Cas comes back over, brandishing a plastic bottle of vegetable oil, Dean frowns.
‘We need some kind of lube,’ Cas tells him, and he flips the cap open, pouring oil liberally over his hand. Dean can’t do anything but watch in fascination.
He doesn’t have time to worry about what’s going to happen next. Cas brings Dean’s knees up and brackets himself in between them. There’s suddenly a finger pressed against Dean’s hole and he lets out a gasp as white-hot pain ripples through him.
Cas pauses, leaning over Dean and kissing him softly, and it’s the same care and devotion Dean’s always seen in Cas—his Cas and this Cas—that Dean brings a hand up and grips Cas’ shoulder, trying to bring him closer. Cas keeps his finger where it is though, letting Dean get used to the sensation.
‘You’re going to have to relax,’ Cas tells him and Dean lets out a long breath. He grabs a hold of the arm Cas is leaning on the table, his fingernails digging into the cast almost painfully, and nods.
The second finger brings more pleasure than it does pain. Cas wriggles his fingers, curling them up against Dean’s prostate, and Dean flails a hand outwards, smacking it off the tabletop before he grabs a hold of the edge.
‘Son of a bitch,’ he mutters to no one in particular. Cas smirks at him, bending down and kissing the inside of Dean’s thigh again, closer to his balls this time, and Dean feels his cock twitch in interest. Cas pulls free to add more oil. ‘Will you just get on with it?’ he almost whines.
‘So bossy,’ Cas whispers, grinning at him. Dean watches as Cas slicks up his own cock and then pulls at Dean’s hips again, leaving oily fingerprints where bruises are probably going to raise tomorrow.
When Cas slides into him, Dean is pretty sure he utters a stream of profanities. Cas stills against him, leaning in to kiss Dean’s jaw as he hooks an arm around Dean’s hips and pulls him in closer. Dean gropes about for something to hold onto, his hand finding Cas’ bicep and squeezing as Cas begins to thrust into him.
It’s nothing like Dean imagined. Cas is gentle and keeps whispering things to him that Dean really isn’t paying attention to but soothe him nonetheless. Dean bucks his hips, opening his eyes to stare up at Cas. Cas meets his gaze and Dean doesn’t think he’s ever seen Cas looked this wrecked before.
His eyes are wide and nearly all pupil, his hair even more unruly than ever before, and there’s a sheen of sweat over his body that Dean can feel as well as see. And the two images of Cas that Dean has had in his mind, angel and redeemed man, finally click, because in this moment Cas is power and strength and might and human. It’s quite probably the hottest thing Dean has seen in his life.
Dean grunts at a particularly deep thrust, Cas’ dick rubbing pleasurably against his prostate.
‘Harder,’ Dean says.
Cas does as he is told and starts thrusting harder and faster, pulling almost all the way out before slamming back in. Dean can feel Cas’ balls slapping against his ass on every inward stroke, and he moans when Cas wraps a hand around his cock.
Dean’s toes curl against the tabletop and he knows he really won’t last much longer. He drops the hand that had been holding Cas’ bicep, brings his hand over Cas’ and starts guiding him as he strokes. He resorts to unintelligible muttering as he comes, Cas’ name on his tongue as he clenches around him, coming hard.
Cas tumbles over the edge with him, riding out his orgasm as he slows his strokes on Dean’s softening cock. He stills against Dean once he’s done, and Dean raises his hand to Cas’ neck, stroking the wet curls at the nape. Dean tilts Cas’ head up and kisses him more tenderly than he has before.
They lie there for a long moment, catching their breath until Dean figures that it is actually really uncomfortable lying on top of the table, with the edge biting into the backs of his thighs. He groans and starts to sit up, forcing Cas up with him. Cas pulls free from Dean, standing back to let Dean get to his feet. Dean winces and looks around the kitchen.
It’s a mess, but a salvageable mess, and he and Cas do a quick clean up before Dean reaches out his hand for Cas to take. Cas takes it, smiling warmly, looking more content than Dean has ever seen him, as Dean leads him out of the kitchen.
‘Come on,’ Dean whispers and he hits the lights before he leads the way back upstairs.
This time they fall asleep together, Dean wrapped around Cas as the darkness wins out. He feels satisfied and satiated. He feels like he’s finally home.
Dean wakes up a few hours later to Cas lying across his back with his cast pressed awkwardly between them. He extricates Cas’ arm from between them—ignoring the sleepy whine from Cas—and drapes it over his middle. The nose tucked in at Dean’s hair nuzzles in closer, and Dean falls asleep again.
* * *
Castiel wakes early. He had been half-aware of Dean moving his arm from where it had been trapped between them and had woken properly when dawn broke. Dean is lying sprawled out on his stomach beside him, face turned towards him as he sleeps. A shaft of weak, white sunlight cuts across Dean’s face, highlighting the smattering of freckles over his nose. Dean looks peaceful, happy in sleep, the frown Cas has seen too often is gone. Here’s Dean with his guard let down, and he’s beautiful.
Cas settles on his back, shifting closer to Dean and running his hands through Dean’s hair. He still has no idea how long this Dean will be here, but he thinks after last night he isn’t nearly as afraid of what he might miss. He still doesn’t know what lesson Dean—and possibly himself—is meant to learn. He knows that Dean has learned things, he knows that Dean has accepted their relationship faster than his Dean had in the past, he knows that Dean has made the first step in realizing he doesn’t have to run away from his feelings.
He also knows that the past version of himself needs this Dean. He knows that if ever they are to have moments like this together, Dean and the younger Castiel need to make the rest of that journey together. Last night had been like getting his Dean back again, but there had been something new, different. This was Dean being with Cas for the first time, and Castiel remembers back to when they had first explored the physical aspects of what it meant to be together, partners in more than the hunting sense. It had been overwhelming, exploring that aspect of his humanity, and he had needed Dean as much as Dean had needed him in those moments. It had been uncertain and unexplored territory for them both, and Castiel realizes the younger versions of himself and Dean need that together, too. That physicality had been just as important in forming the bond between them as any of Dean’s worrying over Castiel’s newly acquired mortality or reassuring Castiel of his choice to relinquish his powers.
Cas wants the younger version of himself to have that, though. He wants for him to feel this sense of complete happiness that he does. He wants him to have Dean and not worry about whether he made the right choice. And he wonders if there is anything he can do to influence that for once and for all.
* * *
The next time Dean wakes, Cas is lying on his back staring up at the ceiling. One hand is idly playing with Dean’s hair and it tickles. Cas looks over when he feels Dean raise his head, smiles when Dean rolls onto his back and rests his head on Cas’ shoulder. Cas wraps his arm around Dean, pulling him in closer.
‘I hurt,’ Dean grumbles against Cas’ shoulder.
‘In a good way, I hope,’ Cas teases, and he kisses Dean’s forehead. Dean grunts at that and shifts onto his side, lying flush against Cas.
They lie like that for a while, Dean breathing in Cas’ scent, finding comfort in the solid warmth of him pressed against him. It’s quiet for so long that Dean begins to wonder if Cas has fallen back to sleep, but then fingers start playing with his hair again, compelling a shiver. Cas slows his hand, looking down at Dean. The angle’s awkward but Dean finds himself looking up into blue eyes anyway.
‘What if I can’t ever get back?’ Dean asks. It’s not really the question he wanted to ask, but it feels less dangerous. It still feels like this life isn’t his to keep, despite what has happened between them. Not yet.
‘I guess we take things in our stride,’ Cas says.
‘Do you miss him … me?’
Cas grins at that, and it makes something squirm low in Dean’s gut. ‘You really don’t change as much as you think you do,’ he says, but gives a small sigh and his arm tightens around Dean. ‘Until last night I missed the closeness.’
‘Oh…’ Dean says, and he feels a traitorous heat flood to his cheeks. Dean hears Cas swallow, and thinks that it had been stupid question to ask in the first place. There had been signs from the beginning that he had missed the closeness he quite obviously had with the Dean from now.
‘Dean,’ Cas says. He moves the hand that had been in Dean’s hair to cup his chin, and he pulls Dean in to kiss him softly. ‘Promise me something.’
‘What?’ Dean asks, voice barely above a whisper. He is staring into Cas’ wide eyes, trying to interpret the emotion behind them. It looks a whole lot like sadness.
‘Ask me to stay.’
‘Okay…’ and Dean leans in to kiss him again. He knows it isn’t going to be like this if he ever gets back. Not at first. It takes time and change for them to get here. ‘How long?’ Dean asks, pushing himself up on his elbow to look down at Cas.
Cas tilts his head at him—an impressive feat when he still has his head pressed into the pillow—and looks at him questioningly.
‘How long for what?’
‘How long have we been together?’
‘Ah.’ Cas bites his lip and looks down at their hands as he twines them together.
Cas meets Dean’s gaze again, and Dean doesn’t back down; he wants to know the answer. ‘Three years.’
‘Three years?’ Dean repeats, eyebrows rising towards his hairline.
‘And two weeks, if you want to be nice and accurate,’ Cas points out. Dean frowns at that, doing the math in his head.
‘The day I came here,’ he says eventually. ‘I came here the day of your anniversary and acted like an asshole.’
‘They day after our anniversary,’ Cas points out.
‘You can make it up to me,’ Cas grins.
‘You can make breakfast,’ Cas tells him, and Dean thinks that is an all right forfeit.
Dean does make breakfast. He’s good at breakfast, since he got plenty of practice while he had been staying with Lisa. He makes scrambled eggs and pancakes and some bacon, too, and if there is one meal Dean likes more than cheeseburgers, it’s this.
Cas comes into the kitchen fresh from his shower just as Dean is finishing doling their food onto plates. Dean catches a flash of silver in the light of the kitchen on Cas’ chest, and he narrows his eyes, trying to see better. Cas pauses on his way to the table and looks down. He seems to stiffen for a minute, and then tucks whatever is hanging from his neck into his shirt. Dean crooks an eyebrow at that, and gets up in Cas’ space.
‘What?’ Cas asks.
Dean’s answer is to dip his finger past the neckline of Cas’ shirt and pull out the chain. His silver ring is on the end of it, the one he has worn for more years than he can remember. He blinks at the ring, rubbing his thumb over it. Relief floods through him, he hadn’t lost it after all; he’d given it to Cas. When he meets Cas’ gaze, Cas is watching him as if he is half afraid of Dean’s reaction.
‘You should wear that on your finger,’ Dean says, and he backs up, turning his back on Cas as he puts the frying pan in the sink.
When he turns back, Cas is undoing the clasp of the necklace and sliding the ring onto his ring finger. Dean thinks it looks much better there than it did on him. Cas gives him a look that is half affection and half respect as he sits down at the table and starts eating.
Dean watches Cas eat for a moment before he starts his own, thinking how much he is going to miss this when and if he ever gets back to his own life. He wonders how long it will take him and Cas to get to this stage. He thinks that maybe it could be sooner, if he could get Cas to spend more time with him. This feels like too much to lose.
* * *
Sam and Sarah come back after noon in a cacophony of noise as the dogs charge into the house and Deejay throws himself at Dean the moment he sees him. Dean makes things worse by tickling Deejay, and soon the house is filled with the noise that makes it come alive. As much as Dean had enjoyed Cas’ company, he had still missed his family surrounding him.
Sarah and Sam have identical grins on their faces when Dean catches their eye after things have calmed down a bit, and a part of him dreads the conversation to come. Sarah corners him in the kitchen once Deejay has decided to attack Cas instead, and Dean resists the urge to roll his eyes.
‘So…’ she grins at him.
‘Nice dinner?’ she asks, trying and failing to hide a knowing smile. Dean narrows his eyes at her.
‘It was great, thank you,’ Dean says, folding his arms across his chest. Sarah grins at him.
‘And?’ Dean echoes.
‘What about after?’
Dean does roll his eyes at that and quickly glances at the kitchen table before he looks back at Sarah. She raises an eyebrow at him and gives him a look that says she isn’t going to back down. Dean thinks it’s wholly unfair that Sam managed to find a girl version of himself for his wife.
‘I’m not telling you!’
‘Ah ha!’ Sarah says triumphantly. ‘That means something happened!’
‘No it doesn’t!’
‘It does.’ Sarah grins and she bounces up to him and envelopes him in a hug. Dean frowns and tentatively hugs her back. ‘I’m so proud of you!’
‘Jeez…’ Dean mutters and he pulls Sarah away, holding onto her shoulders as he looks her in the eyes. ‘Do not make a big deal out of this.’
‘Fine,’ she says, but Dean doesn’t trust that glint in her eye. She ducks out of his grip and dashes out of the kitchen.
‘Don’t tell Sam anything, either!’ he calls after her, but he knows it is utterly pointless.
Dean sighs as Cas comes into the kitchen, Deejay perched on his hip and babbling happily. Cas glances down the hallway as Sarah disappears, then looks back at Dean and grins.
‘Did you just get the third degree?’
‘I just got attacked,’ Dean says with a frown. He smiles as his attention turns to his nephew, though, and he lifts his arms to take Deejay from Cas. Cas hands him over, smiling as Dean lifts the toddler into the air. ‘Please promise me you won’t be a gossip queen like your parents, huh?’
Deejay giggles at him and squeals as Dean spins them around.
‘I think two years old is a little young to be making promises like that,’ Cas says, meeting Dean’s gaze when Dean turns back to face him and holds Deejay close.
‘Yeah?’ Dean says, draping an arm over Castiel’s shoulder and pressing a kiss to his temple. Cas makes an amused face at that and leans away to look at him. ‘Well, I guess we’ll just have to come around here more often and make sure we rub off on him.’ Right then, he makes a promise to himself that when he gets here, whether it’s now or he has to wait five more years when he goes back to his own time, he’s going to make that happen.
‘I think I can live with that.’
Dean and Cas spend a relaxed afternoon together. They take the dogs for a walk down to the park. It’s a hundred miles away from the life Dean is used to, but he thinks he can get too used to this. The thing that makes this future, this version of a life that isn’t his yet so much different from the others is that this one fits him. He doesn’t have to change who he is to fit this odd version of domesticity he has with Cas. Cas knows everything about him; his weaknesses, his strengths and he’s stayed beside him in spite of those. He knows that at the end of the day, once the holiday is out of the way, he and Cas will be back on the road and they’ll be hunting again and things will just fit.
He knows that if he ever does get back, things will be difficult; his Cas isn’t like this yet. In the present, Cas is still torn. There’s another two years before he and Cas finally become something He doesn’t know if he can keep them on this path, but he knows he’s going to try and screw things up completely. He had once told Cas to never change, but this time he wants him to; this time he can see the good that comes out of the future, instead of all the bad if only he stands by Castiel.
They are halfway back to the house when Dean decides to break the companionable silence between them.
‘Do we ever…’ Dean starts, looking intently at their entwined fingers as though they fascinate him. He is actually surprised that he has managed to hold Cas’ hand the whole time they’ve been walking without feeling weird about things. He can feel Cas looking at him in that curious way he knows too well.
‘Do we ever talk about having a family…kids? However we’d do that?’ Dean asks, looking up to meet Cas’ gaze. Cas gives him a small smile that answers his question.
‘It would mean giving up this life,’ Cas says and Dean knows it’s because he has said the same thing to Cas in the past.
‘Sam didn’t have to,’ Dean argues.
‘Sam has Sarah to come home to,’ Cas says carefully. ‘You and me? We’re all about the hunting lifestyle.’ Dean is quiet, and Cas tightens his grip on Dean’s hand. ‘You’d give all that up?’ and there’s a flicker of something behind his eyes that Dean momentarily thinks is hope.
‘For you and a kid like Deej? I think I could.’
Cas looks slightly torn, which surprises Dean—isn’t this Cas all about their weird hunter-style domesticity and being an awesome uncle to a kid who dotes on him?
‘You know what you said to me when I asked you this, the first time it was ever brought up?’ Cas says, and Dean shakes his head, though he has a feeling it isn’t good. ‘You said, “the only way out of this lifestyle for a hunter is you die.”’
‘I think we’ve both died enough, don’t you?’ Dean asks quietly, and Cas stares at him for a long moment. Dean can see the sadness there, like Cas is seeing that he isn’t as much like his Dean as he originally thought.
‘Dean …’ Cas sighs. He looks past Dean to watch the dogs for a few steps, before he looks back at Dean. ‘I didn’t think that now, in this time, you would ever hear of it. We argued over this, you were adamant about not bringing a child up in this world of ours.’
‘I get it,’ Dean says, feeling a little defeated, but he knows it sounds more like himself to not want children, to not want his legacy to be about the hunt. ‘I just feel like we should leave our mark on the world in some way.’
Cas smiles his warm, fond smile that does things to Dean.
‘Maybe we make our mark some other way?’ But Cas’ voice sounds thick, and Dean thinks he may be trying to convince himself more than Dean.
They end up in the den just before dinner. Despite Dean’s insistence that he doesn’t like chick flick moments, he finds himself snuggled up with Cas on the couch, kissing him. He feels like they are in that early stage of a relationship where he can’t keep his hands off Cas, but Cas doesn’t seem to mind. He kisses Dean back, smiling warmly at him before Dean sighs and deepens the kiss.
They pull apart at the interruption and Dean feels a blush rising from his toes right up to his hairline. He gulps as he looks up at his brother standing in the doorway and shoots him one of those “alright, you caught me” smiles. He coughs and disentangles himself from Cas as Sam grins at him like the cat that got the cream.
‘I’m going to help Sarah with the dinner,’ Cas says and he leans in to kiss Dean again before he stands up. Dean watches in mild horror as Cas winks at Sam and says. ‘I like past-Dean.’
‘Yeah,’ Sam smirks, and he claps Cas on the shoulder as he walks past him. Sam steps into the room and flops down on the couch beside Dean. ‘Looks like you two are hitting things off.’
‘Sam,’ Dean says gruffly, he really doesn’t want to talk about this, especially not knowing that Sarah has already filled Sam in.
‘Come on, Dean,’ Sam grins, clapping his brother on the knee. Dean frowns at him. ‘It’s nice to see you relax. You’re too uptight, sometimes.’
‘You’re a fine one to talk,’ Dean says, but Sam’s smile doesn’t falter.
‘Things were different back then,’ he tells him. ‘We’ve changed.’
‘When Sarah came along?’
‘When we met Sarah that second time,’ Sam says. ‘I started thinking how unlikely it was that I would meet someone twice on this job that isn’t a hunter themselves, or a demon.’
‘Sarah accepts me for who I am. She knows everything I’ve done—everything—and she understands my choices and the need to hunt,’ Sam goes on. ‘And she grins like an idiot every time I come home, and who doesn’t want to come back to that?’
‘She’s a good woman, Sam,’ Dean says. ‘I always thought that.’
‘She’s my best friend as well as my wife,’ Sam says and Dean suddenly realizes where this conversation is going. ‘I think that’s important, y’know?’
‘Because me and Cas were friends before…’ Dean trails off, waving a hand in the air as though that will be enough explanation. Sam smiles at him.
‘It makes things easier,’ Sam says. ‘You just need to let things happen and stop pushing him away.’
‘You’re such a girl sometimes, Sam,’ Dean says, shaking his head at him. Sam smiles and does one of those annoying shoulder rolls.
* * *
The evening passes without much event and, thankfully, without any more Meaningful Talks. Dean thinks that, finally, everyone has had enough of worrying over him and telling that he just needs to let things happen and stop throwing up roadblocks.
When he sinks down on the bed later that night, it is with a mixture of exhaustion and awkwardness. He feels slightly nervous as he listens to Cas moving, undressing behind him on the other side of the bed. He can’t help but wonder if things are different now, if there’s something expected of him. He jostles with the bed when it dips as Cas puts his weight on it.
Dean glances over his shoulder at him, and then runs a hand over his face. ‘I…er…’
‘Dean.’ It’s said much more affectionately this time around, and he feels the bed shift as Cas moves closer. He gives a jolt of surprise as Cas comes up behind him. Cas’ thighs frame Dean’s butt, his chest presses against Dean’s back as Cas wraps his arms around him and rests his chin on Dean’s shoulder.
‘Not everything has to be about sex,’ he says quietly, his lips brushing the shell of Dean’s ear. It compels a shiver, and Dean is pretty sure Cas is teasing him.
Cas brushes his lips against Dean’s neck, kissing a slow trail up behind his ear. Dean knows he learned that from him, because he used to do that to Lisa and Cassie and here’s the proof that he has done it to Cas, too. He tries not to think too much about the implications of him teaching Cas everything he knows.
Dean has to bite back a groan, but if the curl of Cas’ lips against his neck is anything to go by, the attempt was probably unsuccessful. Cas runs his hands up Dean’s chest for a moment before he grabs the edges of Dean’s over shirt. He pulls away from Dean as he removes the garment and tosses it over towards the pile of their clothes on the other side of the room.
Cas presses his chest into Dean’s back again, wraps an arm loosely around Dean’s waist. Dean tilts his body to the side, twisting to look up at Cas. He sees affection and mischief behind those eyes before Cas leans in to kiss him. It’s a look Dean wants to see more of.
Dean kisses back, the angle slightly awkward but he slides his tongue in against Cas’ and deepens the kiss. He twines his fingers with the hand Cas still has wrapped in plaster cast while he feels the arm around his waist move, fingers tickling a hot trail along his middle. Cas stops at Dean’s fly and pops the buttons with practiced ease. Dean breaks the kiss.
‘This feels a whole lot like sex to me,’ he says quietly, and Cas grins at him in a devious way Dean has never seen before. He likes it a lot.
‘Down boy,’ Cas whispers in his ear and he presses a kiss to Dean’s temple before he pulls away. ‘Jeans off.’
Dean raises his eyebrows at Cas, and he stands up to pull his jeans off. Cas watches him with a smirk, then pulls the covers back, patting the bed beside him. Dean crawls in, lying in the middle of the bed. Cas pulls the covers over them and lies face to face with Dean, smiling as he drapes his arm over Dean’s middle.
Cas leans in to kiss Dean softly. Dean closes his eyes and leans his forehead against Cas’. He can feel Cas’ breath warm, and minty on his face, and he presses in closer. He could get used to this.
Dean thinks he hears Cas whisper “I love you” and the press of lips to the corner of his mouth. He thinks he might have murmured a reply, but he’s suddenly so sleepy. All he sees is darkness.
The pain is the first thing Dean is aware of. It starts somewhere right in the middle of his cranium and pushes out in white-hot waves. He groans as he opens his eyes and he finds himself alone. He is lying sprawled out on the floor, darkness the only thing he can see beyond the spotlight centering on him.
‘Well, you finally worked it out,’ comes the familiar drawl that now accompanies his dreams. Dean knows that voice; he thinks he almost has it.
‘What?’ Dean says. He picks himself up off the ground, swaying a little as his head spins. He blinks out at the darkness. ‘Y’know, you could be a hell of a lot less cryptic and show yourself.’
He didn’t know who he had been expecting, but it is the last person who steps into the spotlight. The archangel is shorter than him, brown hair flopping down to hazel eyes that are filled with mischief. He has a knowing smile on his face that Dean has, for too long, associated with—
‘Me,’ Gabriel grins, holding out his hands in a “you got me” gesture.
‘But…but you’re dead,’ Dean splutters, brow furrowed in confusion, and he just can’t shake the headache.
‘Obviously not,’ Gabriel says dryly. ‘You think God only favors Castiel?’
‘Sent you here to get you to learn something,’ Gabriel says. ‘I have to say, you learned it quicker than I thought you would.’
‘Maybe later, big boy,’ Gabriel smirks. ‘This was about Cas, not me.’
‘Cas…?’ Dean scowls. ‘What the hell did you do to him?’
‘Not a thing,’ Gabriel says. ‘It was all you.’
‘Yes, you,’ Gabriel says, rolling his eyes and pacing around the circle. Dean follows him with his eyes.
‘So…you sent me here to get me to see how things could be?’ Dean asks. ‘With Cas.’
‘How they will be,’ Gabriel insists, stopping in front of Dean once more. ‘It’s … how things need to unfold.’
Gabriel tilts his head at that, a gesture that is more scathing than the innocent, curious way Cas does it. Dean knows the answer and Gabriel doesn’t seem at all inclined to say it.
‘So you threw me into the future?’ Dean supplies, and Gabriel shrugs and gives him a little nod like it was nothing. ‘What about the Dean from now? What did you do with him?’
‘Conveniently out of the way,’ Gabriel tells him, then gives Dean a bored look at the glare he receives. ‘Look, someone had to be in your unconscious body while you were here. This isn’t astral projection, y’know.’
‘You won’t wake up until I make you wake up.’
‘How long have I been out?’
‘See for yourself,’ Gabriel answers and clicks his fingers.
Dean wakes with a jolt. His head is still throbbing, but as he blinks back the sleep it fades. He lies there for a moment, closing his eyes once more, noting the lack of warmth to his side where Cas should be, and thinks that if he really is back in his own time, he should hurt like hell. He doesn’t. He lets out a groan as he sits up and he stops when the figure at the end of his bed looks around at him. His breath leaves him all in one go.
Castiel is looking at him with wide, worried eyes. His trench coat is bunched up in his fists at his sides and Dean instantly knows he is back where he’s supposed to be. This Cas isn’t the same one he fell asleep beside.
Cas is on his feet and at Dean’s side in a second, palm pressed to Dean’s forehead. His palm is warm against his forehead, and Dean leans into it for a moment. But then the hand falls away, and Dean looks up, questions on his lips.
‘I couldn’t get you to wake,’ Castiel says, letting out an annoyed sigh. ‘I healed everything else, but you wouldn’t wake up.’
‘Gabriel wouldn’t let me,’ Dean tells him, and Cas’ brow furrows even further. Dean grabs Cas’ arm and pulls him down to sit on the edge of the bed. Cas acquiesces, staring at their hands when Dean twines their fingers together. His fingers flex in Dean’s grip, unfamiliar and surprised at the contact. ‘How long have I been out?’
‘A day,’ Cas says quietly, glancing over at the other bed. Dean follows his gaze. Sam is lying sprawled out on the bed, limbs akimbo and a book on his chest like he just fell asleep there. He looks worried even in sleep, and Dean knows that’s because of him. Dean’s been out for a whole day, yet it’s really been so much longer. He knows he will never get used to the difference in the passing of time between Heaven, Hell, the Past and the Future. ‘I’ll wake him.’
‘No, let him rest a bit,’ Dean says, and he sinks back against the headboard. He feels like he should ache from head to toe, but he feels nothing. He feels nothing but Cas at his side and Cas’ cool fingers against his. Cas’ fingers brush lightly over Dean’s, and his eyes drop to their entwined hands then. A moment later, he pulls his hand free.
Dean watches as Cas reaches into his pocket.
‘I found this,’ he says. ‘Behind the bar…in the alley. You really took a beating, Dean.’
He holds his hand forward, opens his fist and Dean’s staring at his silver ring. His gaze automatically flicks to his hand, noting the bare finger.
When Dean doesn’t make a move to take it, Cas hesitates only a moment before lifting it up, almost presenting it to Dean. Dean looks at it for a moment, his throat suddenly thick, and he can’t take his eyes away from Castiel’s face. He hadn’t realized how much he had truly missed him, until now.
Dean shakes his head. ‘Why don’t you keep it?’
Cas’ eyes widen at his words.
‘Hey, if you drag it back to Heaven with you,’ Dean says, ‘at least I’ll know you have to come back and return it, right? You won’t be able to flitter off and not come back.’
‘Seriously, Cas’ Dean says. ‘I want you to have it.’
And Castiel glances at the ring, his hand slowly closing in a fist around it, before he glances up again. He doesn’t quite meet Dean’s eyes as he slips the ring back into his pocket.
‘Thank you,’ he says, his voice barely a whisper, but Dean hears him anyway.
Dean nods. ‘Yeah.’
‘I should go,’ Cas says quietly, and starts to stand.
Dean reaches for Cas’ hand again, halting his retreat. ‘You can’t stay?’ Dean asks.
‘I have duties…’ Cas protests, shaking his head. He’s staring again at their entwined hands.
‘I’d like you to. Just…’Dean pauses, and Cas looks up to meet Dean’s gaze. There’s a little shock in his eyes. ‘Please?’
Cas smiles, a ghost of one that’s no more than a curving up of his lips, a slight easing of the lines on his brow. But Dean looks closer, and he can see the similarities between this smile and the private smile that Dean’s been seeing for the past two weeks. Given a little time, Dean doesn’t doubt one will morph into the other. He wonders if it will be the same, or if this Cas will be a little bit different when all is said and done.
Castiel’s fingers tighten around Dean’s, and he settles back down on the bed, anxious tension easing from his shoulders.
Silence settles around them, and it’s comforting. Castiel hasn’t let go of his hand, yet, hasn’t moved, and Dean closes his eyes and takes a deep breath in. The closeness he has with Cas now isn’t the same as the closeness he had become used to in the past two weeks, but it’s a start. He feels like he’s made a first step, and he knows it couldn’t have been this easy for the future version of himself. This is his Cas and he can’t wait to see more of him.
‘Did Gabriel hurt you?’ Cas’ voice breaks the silence.
‘No…’ Dean tells him. He opens his eyes. ‘He just wanted me to see something.’
Castiel nods, appearing to know not to push any further, knowing that some things are best kept private. And this is one of them.
‘When it comes down to it…’ he starts and he frowns as he thinks on what to say next, knowing this is difficult, too hard to really say. But he made a promise, and he’s going to keep it as best he can. ‘When you have to make a choice…I’ll be here. Whatever you choose.’
Castiel’s eyes widen for a moment, and his lips part as if he’s about to ask Dean what, exactly, he means. There’s a slight shift, a tiny movement where Castiel fiddles with the hem of his trench coat, and Dean frowns at the uncertainty there. Like Castiel realizes he’s been caught in a secret, one he’s not ready to give up yet.
Dean shifts closer to Castiel on the bed, pressing his leg just close enough to Castiel so that Cas can feel him there. Castiel’s lips close, and he looks stunned before a soft look comes into his eyes, half-disbelieving and all affection, and Dean sighs in relief.
‘Thank you, Dean,’ Cas says, and his voice is soft and tinged with gratefulness.
They smile at one another and Dean can see it. He can see here, now, is where everything starts. It should terrify him.
Instead, it kind of excites him.
* * *
Castiel doesn’t leave until much later. He sits with Dean until Sam wakes up, and then tells them he really must be on his way. He doesn’t want to. There isn’t a single part of him that wants to go back to Heaven and deal with Raphael and his other brothers who view him as something weak.
He hadn’t moved from Dean’s side the whole time Dean had been unconscious. And he spent it knowing that he should return to Heaven or fear Raphael’s wrath. He couldn’t though. He couldn’t leave Dean’s side until he knew he was all right. He didn’t care what Raphael and the others thought. He couldn’t fight the feeling in his gut that told him that he was supposed to be with Dean.
He can’t imagine what Gabriel has shown Dean, and part of him knows it isn’t his place to ask. But he can’t help but be curious at the shift in Dean, at the sudden furthering of their friendship by something as simple as Dean holding his hand.
Cas puts his hand in his pocket and draws out Dean’s ring, staring at the little circle of silver resting in his palm. He hadn’t known what to say when Dean had told him to keep it. It felt like too much, like a grand, wordless gesture. Cas knows that Dean doesn’t give up his possessions easily, and certainly not to people he doesn’t care about. The smile that had followed the insistence that he keep the ring is a smile Cas can’t quite remember seeing before on Dean. Thinking back to that smile does something to him he can’t quite define, something that makes his stomach clench and his chest feel too tight. It’s not a bad feeling, and he kind of likes it.
Cas slides the ring onto the same finger Dean had worn it on, looking curiously at his hand. It doesn’t feel as odd as he thinks it ought to.
He lets his hands drop and balls them into fists at his sides and heads back to Heaven. Any worries he had about angering his brothers by choosing to be at Dean’s side are strangely gone.
He has already made his choice.
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Current Music: Bad Things--Jace Everett