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“What are you doing?”

“Ordering dinner.” Mary looks up from the takeout menu with bright eyes. “You can do that over the phone, can’t you?”

Dean knocks his hip against the counter and squints at his mom. “Yeah. You planning on picking it up yourself?”

“Why is it that I feel like I’m the child here and you’re my mom?” She playfully raises her eyebrows at him to punctuate the question.

Dean smiles down at the floor. “Uh, overprotective I guess. I’d, uh, love it if you went and got us some grub. Let me just get the keys and–”

“I’ll need 10 dollars. I wasn’t resurrected with any cash.”

Dean doesn’t hold back his laugh as he pulls a wad of cash out of his back pocket. “You’ll need more than that, Mom. Wait ‘til you see gas prices.”

She frowns down at the bills in her hands, but she doesn’t say anything else. As she makes her way toward the garage, she pats his cheek.

When she’s almost out of the room, he calls after her and reminds her that she hasn’t placed the order yet. She laughs and hits her forehead. He shows her how to use an iPhone. She calls it ridiculous and asks why they even say it’s a phone when in reality its other uses far outweigh its ability to make calls. He blinks at her.

Some stress drops from Dean’s shoulders once his mom is out of the bunker. He grabs a beer out of the fridge and downs half of it before joining Sam and Cas in the war room. Sam is staring intently at his laptop while Cas reads an old Men of Letters journal to see if there’s anything about the British chapter.

As Dean walks around Cas’ chair, Cas reaches his hand up without taking his eyes away from the book. Dean hands over his beer, Cas takes a drink, hands it back, and Dean pulls a chair out and sits close enough to Cas that their legs are knocking under the table.

Dean sighs heavily and leans back in his chair, reaching his arm toward Cas so he can give him a neck massage. Cas very briefly closes his eyes before resuming his research.

“How you doing, Sammy?”

From the opposite end of the table, Sam offers a tightlipped smile and trains his eyes back to the screen. “Still think I’m hallucinating, but at least it’s pleasant for the time being.”

“Did you try–”

Sam lifts his hands and presses his thumb to the old scar in his palm.

Dean smiles and drinks his beer.

“You trusted your mother to take the car?”

“You eavesdropped?”

“It’s easier than actively blocking you out,” Cas deadpans.

Dean stops rubbing his neck but keeps resting his hand on the back of his chair. “Should I have stopped her? I mean, she’s getting us dinner when she’s a guest in our home. Doesn’t that make us bad hosts?”

Cas just barely rolls his eyes as he closes the journal. “When I was sick, you let me watch Netflix and eat all of your Lucky Charms. I think you’re a fine host.”

Dean smirks at him and squeezes his shoulder. “That’s when you started sleeping in my bed, too. I think I went above and beyond as a host.”

“I don’t think that would be appropriate with your mother.”

“OK, the hallucination is once again a nightmare,” Sam says seriously. He closes his laptop and heads toward the kitchen.

Dean scoots his chair closer to Cas so he can nose at his jaw.

“You don’t seem too concerned about the British Men of Letters.” Cas’ neck betrays his words by tilting to the side and angling toward Dean’s mouth.

“Too hungry to care right now.”

“You could’ve offered to cook. That probably would’ve taken less time than Mary picking something up.”

Dean stops kissing Cas’ neck. “Honestly, I thought she might offer to cook. I was about to ask her what she wanted to do for dinner when I found her hovering over a menu.”

“Did you even check to see what she ordered?”

Before Dean can answer, Mary walks in empty-handed. She stops in the middle of the room and plants her hands on her hips.

“They were backed up. Said it would take an hour to fill our order! I’m starving.”

After a pause, Cas says, “I see where Dean gets his impatience.”

“And my appetite apparently,” Dean adds as he stands. “Don’t worry, Mom, we have steaks in the freezer. I got it.”

They’ve got some onions and peppers and a freaking eggplant in the fridge, so Dean quickly throws together an orzo salad with macaroni noodles since they don’t have orzo. Once the steaks are thawed (in the microwave, but nobody needs to know that), he throws them on the grill, heads back inside and tells Cas to keep an eye on them. He definitely doesn’t waste five minutes passionately explaining to Cas how to make sure all the steaks turn out perfectly medium rare.

While he’s roasting some broccoli, carrots and zucchini, Mary comes up behind him and asks what he’s doing.

“Uh, just roasting some vegetables. We went to the farmer’s market right before…well, a few days ago. Everything’s still good. You good?”

“You’re roasting the vegetables?”

“Uh, yeah?”

“And they taste good that way?”

“You kidding me? They’re amazing. I didn’t know I liked broccoli until I tried roasting it.”

“Huh.”

Dean mixes the not-orzo salad and lets the silence sit between them for a second.

“Oh! I gotta ask you. Um. That meatloaf you used to make when I was a kid. You still know the recipe?”

Mary laughs and takes a seat at the kitchen table. “Piggly Wiggly, sweetheart.”

“What?”

“I hated cooking. Why do you think I gave you PB&J for lunch every day?”

Dean huffs a laugh and scratches the back of his neck. “That’s, uh–I gotta be honest, one of the main things I’ve thought about you over the past three decades is that you’re a good cook.”

She immediately gets up and walks over to him. “Well, we’re getting to know each other now.” She pats his back a few times. “So, show me how you roast these vegetables.”

By the time Cas comes in with the steaks, Mary is cutting up some feta and laughing as Dean goes through the list of all the different kinds of mac and cheese he made for Sam when they were kids.

“He’s gonna be pissed when he sees the macaroni noodles in the salad,” Dean says with a wink to Cas and a nod toward the table.

Cas sets the plate of steaks down and stands with his hands by his sides, waiting.

“Macaroni and feta,” Mary says.

“Babe, go get Sammy, would you?”

Once Cas leaves, the conversation dies.

Dean and Mary laugh some more as they navigate around each other to set the table. When Sam comes in and asks what’s funny, they shrug him off.

Dean takes his usual seat next to Cas and squeezes his hand before they start eating. It’s his way of saying grace, which Cas finds sacrilegious. And hilarious.

Mary immediately stuffs her face and sings Dean’s praises with her mouth full. Sam looks at her, slack-jawed, but doesn’t say anything.

Dean loves cooking. He’s good at it. Not because he was trying to imitate his mom or take care of his little brother – even though those things are true – but because he just loves cooking. And that’s something he can share with his mom, show his mom, because they don’t have it in common.

After dinner, they all sit around the table and talk for a long time. Dean rubs Cas between the shoulder blades like he always does and then he scoots himself closer to Cas like he always does and then he wraps his arm tightly around Cas like he always does and then Cas leans up against his chest practically in his chair like he always does.

It’s not until Cas lazily turns and presses a kiss to Dean’s cheek that Dean registers something.

“Uh, Mom?”

“Yes, sweetie?”

“You know Cas and I are–we’re–we have a, uh–I should’ve said–mentioned–”

Mary downs the rest of her beer. “You had a crush on John Travolta when you were 4, Dean.” She winks at Cas. “If you want my approval, you’ve got it.”

Chapter Text

Castiel wakes up alone. He rolls over in bed and sighs loudly as he runs a hand through his hair. He feels groggy and uncomfortable, just like he always does after he sleeps. It’s not natural for his body to rest, and even just a few hours of sleep makes his grace buzz beneath the surface of his skin like it’s been de-charged for too long. Still, he sleeps most nights.

Dean is in the kitchen hunched over his phone and furiously drinking a mug of coffee when Cas stumbles in several minutes later. He looks up from his phone just long enough to make eye contact before casting downward once again. It’s deliberate. Acknowledging Castiel’s presence to demonstrate that he’s purposely ignoring him. It’s something Castiel never would’ve recognized a few years ago.

“Hey, Cas,” Sam greets a little somberly as he goes straight to the coffee pot. “Sleep OK?”

Dean clears his throat.

“Fine, thank you,” Cas answers gruffly. 

Sam turns dramatically toward his brother. “How ‘bout you, Dean? Did you sleep OK?” he asks too loudly, obviously annoyed.

Dean grunts his response.

Sam and Cas share a look.

While Sam goes on a grocery run later that morning, Cas and Dean sit silently in the library together. Dean is on his laptop, and Cas is sitting directly across from him reading a book that might have pertinent information regarding cosmic deals.

“More coffee?” Dean asks as he picks up his own mug.

“Mm,” Cas responds without looking up from his book.

Dean takes it as a yes and grabs Cas’ empty mug. 

When he comes back two minutes later and sets Cas’ mug down, he briefly squeezes his shoulder before returning to his seat. Cas stupidly lifts his head and strains his neck up in anticipation of something that never comes. 

They continue on in silence. 

That night, Sam announces that he’s going to watch a movie in his room. Cas immediately joins him. As the opening credits roll, he can hear Dean clamoring around in the kitchen presumably doing the dishes and cleaning up the dinner he cooked. Cas clenches and unclenches his hand and repeatedly looks toward the slightly open door.

“Just go get him, man,” Sam says casually, his eyes still on the TV. “He’ll come in here if you ask him.”

Cas doesn’t answer. 

Dean does eventually come, about 20 minutes into the movie. He tells Cas to scoot over as he climbs onto Sam’s bed. He sits close enough that their shoulders touch. Cas crosses his arms over his chest and ignores the way Dean’s socked foot keeps purposely knocking into his.

When the movie’s over, Dean announces that he’s going to bed while looking directly at Cas. Sam clears his throat.

“I don’t think I’m going to sleep tonight,” Cas says definitively. 

“What? You always sleep,” Dean argues.

“Yes, and occasionally it takes a toll on me. Goodnight, Dean.” His tone brooks no room for argument.

But Dean still grumbles to himself on his way out of Sam’s room.

Sam shrugs at Cas.

They ignore each other again the following morning. 

Eileen texts Sam saying she’s working an easy case nearby if they want to join her. Sam and Dean go, but Cas elects to stay behind.

They aren’t back by midnight, so Cas strips down to his underwear and gets under the covers of his bed. He plans on staying awake, but the comfort of a bed is an indulgence he craves even in wakefulness. He takes a deep breath and finds warmth in the human scent of the sheets. 

At some point in the night he hears doors open and close, footsteps, low voices, a shower running. Eventually the door to his room creaks open, but he keeps his eyes shut and his body curled up on his side. 

The bed shifts with the weight of a second person, and Cas can’t help the smile tugging at his lips.

He scoots his butt back, expecting to be met with an arm around his waist, maybe a kiss to his shoulder if he’s lucky, but nothing comes. He turns his head back, but Dean is facing away from him. He starts snoring before Cas can think of something to say.

He wakes up alone in the morning. They ignore each other in the kitchen.

Later that day, Cas hears Benjamin’s call. 


Dean doesn’t make eye contact with Cas as he sets a beer on the table in front of him, but he does squeeze his shoulder as he tells him he deserves it. 

Cas strains his neck up just as Dean is bending down to kiss his forehead. He catches Dean’s hand before he walks away and pulls him back.

“Oh! OK,” Dean says with a surprised laugh as Cas yanks him down and kisses his lips. “Alright, alright, I get it,” Dean protests weakly between kisses. “We’re not fighting anymore.”

Sam clears his throat.

Chapter Text

It’s not like he hasn’t had this conversation a thousand times before. It shouldn’t be any different this time around. 

“The first monster you killed was just a poltergeist. You were 13.”

“What? I knew how to fight monsters when I was 13?” Dean asks, incredulous.

A rush of affection hits Sam hard. He knows, logically, that Dean losing his memory is a bad thing. But. “You taught me how to shoot a gun when I was 7. Dad was so pissed.”

“So our dad did this, too? We’ve all been fighting monsters all our lives?”

“Pretty much. Family business, you know?”

“OK, so who else in our family fights monsters? Is it just you and me, are we all each other’s got?”

Sam lowers his flashlight and slows down for a second. It’s a weighted question, and Dean doesn’t even know it. “Uh, no. Long story, but our mom is a hunter, too. She doesn’t live with us in the bunker though.”

“The bunker? Is that the place you were talking about a minute ago?”

“Yeah. You and I live there, and sometimes Cas does, too.”

“Cas?”

Sam turns and very nearly shines his flashlight right in Dean’s face. “You don’t remember Cas?”

Dean shrugs and pokes his bottom lip out as he shakes his head.

“He’s your b–best friend. Oh, he’s also an angel.”

“What! Angels are real, too?”

Sam shushes him through his laughter. “Keep it down, dude. Yeah, angels are real. Granted, Cas isn’t as mighty and powerful as he was when we met him, but he still…watches over us.”

Dean tsks. “Way to make a real life angel sound lame. Do we have any other creature best friends? Ghouls? Hobbits?”

Sam thinks about Benny, bites his tongue. “No, Cas is it. He’s the only one who loves us enough to stick around this long.”

“Aw, he loves us? That’s sweet.”

“Yeah.” He huffs a laugh. “God, you’re gonna be so pissed if un-hexed you remembers this conversation.”

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing.”

They walk in silence for a second, save for Dean lightly humming Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

“So, uh, what other monsters are there? Are centaurs real? Giant spiders?”

“I didn’t know you read Harry Potter.”

“Who’s Harry Potter?”

Sam sighs. “Djinn are real, but they don’t grant wishes.”

“What the hell’s a djinn?”

“OK, uh, what about sirens? You remember what a siren is?”

“You mean like the wee-oo, wee–”

“No. The creatures who live in the ocean and sing beautiful–”

“Oh! Hot chicks who lure horny sailors to their deaths!”

“Yeah. Good job.” A leaf crunches loudly beneath Sam’s foot. “Except, the one time we fought a siren he wasn’t a hot chick.”

“Did you say ‘he’?”

“Yep. A siren appears as the thing you want most in the world, or the thing you’re most attracted to. He posed as an FBI agent and you almost killed me because he told you to.”

It’s not like Sam purposely brought Nick up. But now that they’re on the topic, it seems apropos to try to remind Dean about an important part of his identity. Not remembering your own sexuality seems like a huge bummer. And Sam can’t just outright say, “Hey, Dean, you’re bisexual,” because Dean has never even said it himself. It’s been an unspoken truth between them for years now – actually, ever since Nick the siren – and every time Sam catches Dean checking out a hot guy at the bar or Cas coming out of Dean’s room in the morning in nothing but a pair of Dean’s boxers, Sam thinks his brother might actually get around to coming out to him. 

So maybe talking about this will make Dean remember, and maybe he’ll finally say the words Sam knows he’s wanted to say for a long time. It’s not exactly how Sam wants to have this conversation, but their lives are too messed up for him to be surprised.

“OK, wait, so djinns don’t grant wishes, and sirens aren’t all hot chicks?”

Well. At least Sam is patient. 

Chapter Text

When they get back to the bunker, Dean is surprised to see Mom head toward the room they’d assigned to her all those months ago. He assumed she’d leave as soon as they were safely back underground. He’s still staring down the hallway after her when he hears Cas sigh.

He turns to find him slumped in a kitchen chair, his hands in his lap and his coat closed enough to cover the blood and black…goo on his shirt. He’s staring down at the table with a crease between his brow.

“You OK?” Dean asks gruffly as he takes a tentative seat perpendicular to him.

“No.”

Dean balks at the honesty but doesn’t say anything. He leans forward and folds his hands on top of the table. Somewhere in the direction of Sam’s room, a door opens and closes.

“I shouldn’t be alive,” Cas continues, still staring at the table. “I would’ve never…”

Suddenly Cas’ eyes pop up and past Dean as Sam enters the kitchen.

None of them say anything as Sam grabs a cold cup of coffee. Dean and Cas look at each other. When Sam leaves, Cas’ eyes find the table again.

“I wouldn’t’ve…said what I said,” Cas continues, hesitance clear in his tone, “If I had known…”

A couple of seconds pass before it clicks for Dean. “That you weren’t actually gonna die?”

Cas nods minutely.

Dean leans back, runs a hand up through his hair and then drops it to his knee. “Look, man, you know I ain’t good at this. But you are family, so…what you said…it’s not – it doesn’t – you’re not trying to take it back, are you?” What the fuck – that’s not what he meant to say at all.

“No, of course not.” For some reason, Cas sounds angry. “It’s just that I – nothing.” He quickly turns his head to the side, the way he used to do when Dean had hurt his feelings.

“Cas,” Dean says softly. He waits until Cas looks at him. “I was scared to death when I saw that…what that spear did to you. I can’t lose you, man. So, uh, tell me. Whatever’s on your mind, spit it out.” It’s too harsh, too casual, but anything else wouldn’t be Dean.

“I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable.”

“What?”

Cas squints at him. “It was a declaration made because I thought it was the last chance I would get to tell you. I couldn’t die without telling you that I…that.”

Dean leans forward again and wipes his hand over his mouth. “You, uh, you didn’t make me uncomfortable. You know I’m not – I’m not very good at the whole, uh, love thing, but I know it’s there. I know we’re – you know, we’re good.”

Cas squints harder and leans forward so they’re only inches apart. “You knew I was in love with you?”

Hold on.

“That’s not – you didn’t – that’s not what you said, man. You didn’t say that.”

“Dean.” 

That’s his “quit being a dense idiot, Dean” voice.

Dean huffs a nervous laugh and stares at the table. “Yeah, uh, this would be a hell of a lot easier if you had died.”

Now Cas is laughing, too. “We are terrible at this.”

Dean lifts his eyes shyly. Cas is studying him.

“Do you remember…” Dean stops and sucks in a breath. He shouldn’t be talking about this. “That day in the cemetery, when we all thought I was gonna die.”

Cas nods once but doesn’t say anything.

“I wanted to, uh, say something.” Dean smiles and scratches the back of his head. “Actually, I didn’t. I wanted to – to kiss you.” He winces in embarrassment.

“I’m glad you didn’t.”

Dean looks sharply over at him.

“If you waited until you were on the brink of death to kiss me, I would’ve killed you myself.”

“You waited until your deathbed to tell me you lo–”

Cas cuts Dean’s argument off with a kiss. It’s just a tentative press of lips, but Dean still lets out a needy, embarrassing whimper as it happens. When Cas pulls away, Dean mumbles, “Nuh-uh,” and grabs him by the cheek to pull him back in. His hip is digging into the edge of the table, but he doesn’t care. He doesn’t care.

It’s sloppy and too fast and Cas is breathing heavy and whispering, “I love you,” over and over right against Dean’s mouth and it’s all too much and not nearly enough.

Later, in the pitch black of his room, lying breathless next to an angel, Dean tells Cas that he loves him, too.

Chapter Text

Dean counts the bullets again. Locks the box, puts the gun in its holster. He glances over at his phone while he works. The screen is black.

Sam is out on a grocery run because they’ve been cooped up in the bunker for four days with no leads and only takeout to eat. Dean’s hands hurt, cramped like it’s been too long since he fired a gun or stabbed something in the throat. Like the Mark of Cain still exists in his fingers, in his knuckles, his palms.

“Make your voice…a mail.”

“Cas, this is the tenth time I’ve called you today.” Dean hangs up, furious.

Sam keeps saying that Cas is fine, but that only makes it worse. Dean knows Sam is just saying that to placate him, to make him calm down. The fact that Sam knows Dean that well, knows he needs that reassurance, only makes him more frustrated. 

He opens his laptop and scours the web for any kind of strange news. At this point, he’d be happy to take out a vamp nest or a couple of werewolves. He doesn’t fucking care if it has anything to do with Lucifer’s lovechild or hell’s fucking royal hierarchy. 

His phone buzzes. He picks it up and tries to answer it before realizing it’s just a text from Sam. 

Do we need eggs?

He types back a quick yes and dials Cas again.

“Make your voice…a mail.”

“Listen to me, you son of a bitch.” He doesn’t quite know where he’s going with this. “You don’t tell somebody you love them and then disappear for a month, alright? Maybe this is all on me. Maybe I – maybe you don’t realize that I…I should’ve said something. There. I admit it. I should’ve said something, so I’m saying it now. I feel the same way, Cas. I should’ve told you, and I’m sorry.” He pauses, takes a deep breath. “Call me back. I need to know you’re OK.”

He hangs up and stares down at his phone. His fingers are tingling.

He hurls the phone at the nearest wall and is satisfied when it shatters.


Dean gets a new phone, same number, and still Cas doesn’t call him back.


“Even if we do find her, what then?”

“I don’t know. I mean, uh–”

The door creaks open. Dean’s heart sinks as he looks up.

“Cas,” Sam says.

“Hello.”

“Hey. You’re alright. Um, where have you been?” 

“Let me rephrase that for Sam. Where the fuck have you been?” 

Dean’s heart is beating rapidly against his rib cage. Cas looks at him curiously. He can probably hear his heartbeat, feel it. 

“Why have you ignored our phone calls?” he continues, too chickenshit to say “my” phone calls. Sam hasn’t called him once.

“Where I was, the reception was, uh…poor.”

Dean bristles, tries not to lose his shit. His hands feel like they’re on fire. “No bars?” He turns back toward Sam. “No bars. That’s his excuse. Wow.”

Cas takes a step toward Dean and maintains eye contact. “I was in heaven. I was working with the angels.”

Dean clenches his jaw. His right hand twitches by his side. “The angels? So, what, you’re all buddied up with heaven’s brightest again? That’s–that’s good. Good for you.”

“Dean,” Sam chastises.

Dean turns on his heel and stalks off toward his room.


An hour passes, and still Cas doesn’t show up at Dean’s door.

Dean is selfish, he knows that, but he supposes he miscalculated this time. If he wanted to have a fucking conversation with Cas, maybe he shouldn’t have stormed off and expected Cas to follow him.

Because Cas didn’t follow him. Because Cas doesn’t care.

He grabs a change of clothes out of his dresser and goes to take a shower. 


It’s after midnight before Dean forgets his pride and heads to the kitchen for some coffee. Or whiskey. Whatever.

As he’s rounding the corner, he spots Cas sitting at the war room table, facing away from him, his shoulders hunched a little more than usual.

“I got your voicemail,” Cas says without turning around. No inflection in his voice.

“Which one? I left about 700,” Dean responds, glued to his spot in the doorway.

Cas turns his head slightly to the left so that Dean can see his profile, the determined set of his jaw, the sadness around his eyes. “Dean.”

Dean walks over to the table and takes a seat perpendicular to Cas. “Why’d you leave?”

Cas scratches the back of his neck as he stares down at the table. “I was ashamed.”

“What?”

“I thought I was going to die. I never planned on making that declaration.”

“Well, you did, so now you have to live with it,” Dean says too harshly.

“Your voicemail. It…made me recognize my mistake.”

“What the hell’s that supposed to me–”

“It means I misjudged how much I mean to you.”

It’s a declaration, a statement of a fact, no room for ambiguity. It becomes a physical weight in the room, too heavy to allow either of them to speak for a while.

“Don’t leave, Cas.” Dean rubs his palms nervously against his jeans. “Don’t fucking leave again.”

Cas gets up slowly, hesitantly comes closer to Dean until he’s hovering just above him. And then he’s squatting, bringing himself down so Dean will look at him. With his eyes on Dean’s countenance, he takes Dean’s hand in both his own and brings his knuckles to his lips.

Dean closes his eyes. His hands relax. 

Chapter Text

“Here.”

Cas reads the label and turns the tape over in his hands. “I don’t have a cassette player,” he concludes as he holds the cassette back out to Dean.

Dean gets up from the kitchen table and pushes it back toward Cas until it’s right up against his chest. “I’ve been in that truck. There’s a cassette player.”

“Well, I don’t know how to–”

“Cas,” Dean says, leveling him with a glare. “Take the damn tape.”

Cas flips it over in his hands once again, looking down at it studiously. When he looks back up to thank Dean, he finds himself alone. He looks around the kitchen, but Dean is gone.

He tucks the cassette into the inner pocket of his coat and pats it once to feel the solid weight against his chest.


“What’s that?” Sam asks jovially as he joins Cas in the library. 

Cas tucks the cassette away quickly and clears his throat. “Dean gave it to me. It’s a cassette.”

Sam looks up quickly from his computer, a shocked and amused expression on his face. “A cassette? He gave you a cassette?” 

Castiel squints at him. “Yes?”

Sam looks down at his keyboard, huffs a short laugh, straightens up a bit in his seat. “What’s on it?”

“It says his top 13 Led Zeppelin traxx, ‘tracks’ with two x’s,” Cas recites from memory.

“You haven’t listened to it yet?”

“I…no, I haven’t.”

Sam nods as he says, “Well, uh, you should. Dean doesn’t just – he doesn’t even let anybody touch his tapes, man. That’s…a really big deal that he gave you one.”

Cas presses his hand to his chest. “I’m not sure he meant for it to be a big deal.”

“Yeah, well.” Sam shrugs. “Listen to it, at least.”


Cas is sitting in his truck, holding the tape in his hand, staring at the radio and wondering where to put the damn thing.

The passenger door creaks open and shuts. Castiel doesn’t look over.

“Oh fuck, I was wrong,” Dean says with a small laugh. “There’s no cassette player in here. C’mon.” He doesn’t wait before getting right back out and heading over to where the Impala is parked on the other end of the garage.

After a moment, Cas follows him. He hesitantly gets in on the passenger side and hands the tape over to Dean.

A couple of seconds of silence pass before the music quietly pours through the Impala’s speakers. Dean leans his head back against the seat and puts his arm up on the backrest of the bench. His fingertips brush lightly against Cas’ shoulder.

Cas can’t quite hear all the lyrics, but he knows it’s something about being lonely and missing someone and he wants to ask Dean when he made this tape, who he had in mind when he made this tape, who this was really meant for, but the words get stuck in his throat.

As the music washes over him, he closes his eyes and leans his head back as well. After a minute, a hand brushes through his hair and Dean begins to hum.

Cas opens his eyes and looks over, and Dean’s head lolls to the side as he gives him a lazy grin. 

“You like it?” Dean asks, his hand still carding through Cas’ hair.

Cas prefers his own music, but maybe he could get used to this as well. “I like it,” he concedes.

“Good,” Dean replies, his head falling back against the seat once more. “I could sit here all day.”

Cas scoots a little bit closer to the driver’s side. “I could, too.”

Chapter Text

The day that Cas comes back, Dean is in the garage sweating under the chassis of the Impala. There’s nothing wrong with her, but working on her usually makes him feel better.

He woke up around 4 this morning, downed three cups of coffee, took a look at himself in the mirror and ran his knuckles across his beard. He’s gaunt and tired; the beard hides a lot of it. There’s a little bit of gray in his whiskers, and he really should trim it, but that would require a lot of effort. The truth is that he didn’t grow the beard to hide how bad he looks; he grew the beard because shaving is too much effort. 

He thinks he ate a bowl of cereal this morning, but it’s possible he didn’t. Sam didn’t wake up until about 7, so Dean spent the morning slowly drinking coffee and staring at the screen of his laptop. He doesn’t remember anything he was looking at. 

It’s about 3 p.m. now, and he’s been hiding in the garage for the past three or four hours. If he stays in the bunker, Sam…hovers. Asks him how he’s doing, if he’s eaten anything today, if he’s found any new information or a case to work. So he prefers the garage.

Dean hasn’t left the bunker in four weeks, two days. Sam has been out, chasing dead ends, cleaning up Jack’s messes, helping other hunters. When he’s gone, Dean curls up in bed and stares at his laptop. He doesn’t know what he’s looking at or what he’s looking for. He thinks about having a drink, decides it’s too much effort to go to the liquor store to get something. Apparently the cure to alcoholism is feeling too apathetic to even buy a drink. 

“Dean.”

Dean doesn’t respond to the voice, not at first. He sometimes hears Cas, sees him, so he’s gotten used to ignoring him. He keeps working.

“Dean?”

With a sigh, Dean rolls himself out from under the car and sits up, rubbing his forehead with the sleeve of his shirt. He blinks several times as he looks at Cas.

“You really here?” he asks.

Cas looks down at himself, presses his palms flat to his trench coat. He looks back up at Dean and responds, “I think so.”

Dean wipes his hands on his jeans, stands, crosses the garage until they’re only a couple feet apart. He looks at Cas, studies him, then says, “C’mere,” and pulls him into a hug.

The way that Cas melts against him, presses his hands tentatively against his back, and then squeezes him hard – it’s like a switch flips in Dean’s head. 

This is Cas.

Dean pulls back just enough to look at his face. Cas’ eyebrows knit together.

“Are you OK?” Cas asks.

Dean looks at him with one hand still on his arm and the other on his waist. Cas begins to move back, away from the embrace, but Dean wraps a hand around the back of his neck and pulls him in for a kiss.

He’s never kissed Cas. He’s wanted to, sure, but he’s never actually done it. So he kisses him slowly, gently, works his mouth against those dry lips and pulls him in closer by the waist.

Cas eventually picks up the pace of the kiss and pushes his tongue past Dean’s lips. Dean tries to keep up, but soon enough they’re moving too fast and breathing heavy and Cas’ hand is at Dean’s hip and he’s kissing him over and over and Dean closes his eyes and lets Cas kiss every part of his face, his other hand holding Dean in place by the back of his neck. Dean holds onto his hips and breathes.

When Cas moves his lips down to Dean’s neck, Dean coaxes him back up and kisses him softly on the lips, just a peck. He then runs his knuckles along his cheek and looks into his eyes.

Castiel closes his eyes and leans back in for another kiss.

Chapter Text

It’s an accident.

Sam was with Jack and fully intended on staying with Jack, but then the kid asked for a moment alone with his mom and Sam just…

The kid’s already got him wrapped around his little finger. Maybe Sam’s just – it’s all too much all at once, and he needs somebody to take care of, or to care about. He needs somebody – not to replace all he’s lost, but to maybe fill some of the holes inside of him. Jack could do that for him.

So, he left the kid alone. And now he’s standing - hiding in the damn hallway as his brother wraps Castiel’s body.

It’s an accident that he sees it.

Sam knows his brother. He knows that Cas wasn’t just a friend or a brother to him, but he also knows that neither of them ever…did anything about it. He can see the regret in the lines of Dean’s face, could see them even before Castiel was – before he died.

After wrapping Castiel’s legs, Dean takes two steps up toward his head and brushes his thumb across his cheek. Sam should leave, he knows he should, but everything feels like it’s happening in fast forward and he can’t move.

“Come back,” Dean says. “For me, come back for me.”

He then leans down and brushes his lips against Castiel’s forehead. He comes back up, blinks, stares at Castiel. Then he leans back over and kisses him on the lips.

Castiel doesn’t wake up.