The summer is spent between books and field work. Dean falls into bed every night, bone tired and exhausted, and gets up early to make use of the hours before the sun stands high and staying outside is nearly unbearable.
He meets with Fran in the cool halls of the library then, and together they search for another way to get him home. They are able to dig up some old grimoires, and Dean writes down the spell that brought him here to search for similarities. By pure chance, they find it again, not that is does them any good without Cas’ help.
Dean prays regularly, but to no avail. He keeps the prayers short and simple, without addressing the summoning or the fact that they met. He doesn’t want to get Cas in trouble, and if Cas wants to talk to Dean, he knows where to find him.
All the while Lily immerses herself in her own research – she studies all the books Dean pointed her to, perfects her Enochian and translates ancient scripts Fran brought with her. They don’t tell her Cas showed up. Dean can’t say exactly why, maybe it’s Lily’s obsessive persona, but he wants to keep her away from the angels as far as possible.
The evenings are used for tending to his own garden – he has sown a variety of vegetables and thinned out the old apple and cherry trees and is rewarded with a rich harvest. Sam would laugh at him – or be mighty proud, that dork - if he saw how much green stuff Dean is eating. Dean promises himself to not tell his brother.
It’s the end of July when Cas visits him the first time.
It’s one of those stifling warm nights filled with the buzzing of insects and the heavy scents of earth and ripe barley. Dean lies awake, sheets pushed to the side, and relishes in the gentle breeze from the open window. He must have dozed off for when he opens his eyes again, Fran is sitting at the foot of the bed and watches him. It only takes a few seconds this time for Dean to realize that this isn’t Fran. The air is humming with grace and a faint glow caresses her silhouette.
Dean’s skin is prickling with anticipation and nervousness. He’s happy to see Cas, but doubts he’s here because he changed his mind. Only one way to find out. “What do you want?” His voice is sleep-rough and deeper than usual, and it sounds way to intimate in the small space between them. Cas’ gaze wanders over his body and Dean can almost feel it, on his chest, his thighs.
Cas’ brows meet in a confused frown. “My grace…,” he starts and cuts off. His hand reaches out but he tugs it back. He seems awfully insecure for a full-powered angel that doesn’t grant favors to mere humans.
Dean can’t help to feel a tiny bubble of petty glee at seeing Cas out of his depth. Cas says, “It’s drawn to you, and I don’t know why,” and he sounds angry and distressed, like this is all Dean’s fault, and maybe it is. Dean can’t regret it though – to know that Cas’ grace reacts to him even now let warmth bloom in his chest and he fights back a smile.
It’s a losing game.
“I can’t tell you how that works. We’ll meet in another time, but that’s still over 100 years away. But I’m glad your grace led you back.”
Cas’ turns his head to the side as if he’s heard a distant sound.
“I have to go.”
Dean dresses while Cas leaves with the lighting bright explosion of grace, and later accompanies Fran back to the main house. She leans heavy on his arm and doesn’t say a thing until they’re at the door.
“Will he help you?”
“I don’t know.”
One morning, he stumbles into the kitchen of the main house and instantly grabs his angel blade. Ishim is standing by the stove, chatting idly with Myriam. She turns and gives him a clipped “good morning”, while the angel grins brightly and comes over to reach out his hand.
Dean stops himself from stabbing him in the last second. “Jonah Webster”, the man says with a warm voice. Dean takes his hand and shakes it. His voice is unsteady when he gives his name, so he clears his throat and goes over to stack his breakfast plate.
“I will be helping with the farm work over the next weeks. I hear you were busy already with the cottage and the gardens. With the two of us, we’ll have the harvest done in no time.” He drones on and Dean concentrates on eating and humming approval where it’s needed. The surge of adrenaline fades slowly. It shouldn’t be such a surprise that he would meet Ishim’s vessel one day. He’ll get over it.
Still, he prays to Cas again that night. Please keep an eye on that buddy of yours , please don’t trust him.
Three weeks later, Cas is back.
“Do you really think Ishim would lay with a human?” he asks instead of greeting. He’s sitting on the bed again, that stalker, close enough to touch.
“Oh yeah, Cas, but that’s not the problem here. The problem is that he’s ready to kill her because she broke up with him.”
Cas ponders that for long moments, clearly taken aback that Dean doesn’t seem to find human-angel-encounters all that offensive. If you knew I had sex with your sister , he thinks. If you knew what you and I are up to in my favorite kind of dreams.
“How can that not be the problem – it is one of our most sacred laws.”
“Mmmh, you won’t think that anymore in about a hundred years, trust me.”
“We know each other well, in your time?”
“One could say that. You will rescue my ass from hell, and I will rescue you from a couple smaller predicaments, and we will be friends, so yeah you could say we know each other pretty well.” Whatever he thought which part of this summary Cas would concentrate on, he doesn’t anticipate the next question.
“So you will be the reason I will change my mind about our laws?”
The question’s innocent enough, but Dean chokes on his own tongue. “Huh, what? No! I mean, yes... uhm, what are you asking here exactly?”
“Will I change my mind because you and I know each other?”
“Like, in the biblical sense?”
Cas nods and his eyes are on Dean with laser focus.
The blush creeps up Dean’s chest and his neck and his face like quicksilver. He’s glad it’s dark, but on the other hand, Cas will be able to see it just fine. Jesus, what is it with those invasive questions? First Fran with her weirdly phrased vessel inquiry, now that.
Dean is tired and his nerves are on fire and he doesn’t know how to handle this version of Cas. He shoots a quick look over. Cas hasn’t moved and clearly still waits for an answer.
Dean searches for the right words. (There are none, he knows, since he has been searching for them for a long time). “I… no, we’re not. I mean, we don’t have…” He takes a deep breath. “The reason that you will be opposed to the idea of… being with me… are not grounded in heavenly law.” He can’t meet Cas’ eyes while he stumbles through this explanation.
The blush is a full body thing now, his skin burns wherever Cas’ gaze lands and a low hum is building in his ears – it’s his own blood and it’s Cas’ grace. He had forgotten how that power can feel, how it can destroy and heal and soothe and drive him crazy with the barely contained power directed at him.
“Your soul shines in my presence, which is understandable, if we share a special bond. But your body reacts, too. Why is that?” Cas’ curious head tilt is the same as in the vessel Dean knows, as is the monotone voice that Dean mistook for indifference for a long, long time.
Dean has no way to wriggle out of this. He could tell Cas it’s fear or nerves, but even if the angel hasn’t spent much time on Earth, he might know the signs of arousal. So Dean goes for (part of) the truth. “Grace,” he whispers, and tries to calm his breathing, make his body relax.
Cas’ scrutinizes his attempts with interest. Then the soft, light-blue halo flares and that power in the room is touching Dean’s heated skin. It’s hot and electric and Dean closes his eyes, stifling a moan. This isn’t fair, he thinks, that this Cas is suddenly curious enough to reach out to him, even if it’s with his grace, that Cas is curious to feel Dean’s skin, when Dean hungered for a touch like that for eight freaking years.
A slightly hysterical chuckle breaks free, and transforms into a sigh when his back arcs under the caress of Cas’ grace. His body screams for him to let Cas explore and do to him whatever he likes, but his mind is reeling with the wrongness of it all. It feels like he’s cheating.
“Please, stop,” he chokes out, and fists his hands in the sheets to stop them from reaching out. And just like that, the feeling is gone, and Cas says “I apologize, I don’t know…” An eerie silence falls over the dark room and accentuates Dean’s ragged breathing.
This time Cas doesn’t tell Dean to close his eyes. Dean stares and stares and feels tears burning in the corners while Cas leaves.
He wakes up hours later, next to Fran’s sleeping form, and he never felt so alone in his entire life.
Dean is cranky and quiet for the next few days. He has his hands full with the farm work and Fran gives him his space. After a week has gone by she comes over to his house one evening and sits with him on the porch.
“You love him, do you?”
There’s no reason to lie to her.
“Yes.” He swallows. “I do.”
“I’m sure he loves you too.” She touches his arm, gently, and catches his darting eyes. Dean shakes his head.
“How can you be sure?”
“He doesn’t even know you now and his whole being is drawn to you like a moth to a flame. I feel his curiosity, his fascination, and I can’t even imagine how all of that would grow if he knew you for so much longer, shared so much with you.”
Dean averts his gaze. “Eight years are a long time to learn that the person you thought interesting is full of flaws and not worth your time.”
“Then tell me this: have your feelings for him lessened in all those years?” She pats his arm and stands to go without waiting for an answer. While he watches her form vanish in the night, he allows himself to entertain the idea, if only for one second, that Cas, his Cas , might want more too.