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The Sleeping Safety Squad

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Unconsciousness was something foreign to Castiel. Foreign and, if he were honest with himself, frightening. Even when battle weakened him to the point of catatonia, even when his physical essence was scattered across multiple wavelengths, Castiel was still conscious. He joined his brothers and sisters on the telepathic frequency that connected them all, still actively involved in the world around him, as he waited for his body—his true visage or human vessel, it didn’t matter—to repair itself. But he was never asleep.

That said, waking up was terrifying.

Where am I? Castiel stiffened on a bed—it felt like a bed—gasping for air only to find glass tearing down the walls of his throat. What’s happening? He looked around, vision blurred to the point of blindness, and tried to make sense of the colors and shapes around him. I don’t understand. Pain tore through his chest and stomach. Help. He could feel his body trying to shut back down. I need help.

“Woah, woah, woah.”

Castiel jolted when a pair of hands came down on his shoulders, fear cutting into his chest. He looked up at the person standing over him, relief flooding his veins as he realized who was touching him.

“Sam.” It wasn’t a question, but the rasping quiver in his voice made it seem like one.

“Yeah, it’s me.” Sam smiled briefly and straightened up, removing his hands from Castiel’s shoulders. “You okay?” he asked, peering down with a gentle kindness in his eyes.

Sam Winchester.

The Boy with the Demon Blood.

The Gentle Dandelion Floof who Needed a Haircut.

The Safest Person to be Unconscious Around.

Castiel blinked sluggishly and looked around the room, trying to figure out whether or not his senses had returned to him. “I… am okay. I think.” He put his hands against the mattress and pushed, trying to sit up. “I—” His arms gave almost immediately, dropping him back down, and colors started leaking into one another.

“Hey, take it easy.” Sam was hovering again, concern creasing his brow. “Tell me what’s going on.”

Castiel frowned at him. I don’t know what’s going on. How am I supposed to tell you?

Sam moved his hand in a rolling, circular motion humans often used to encourage more speaking from their conversational partner. “Help me out here. Is it pain? Fatigue? You gonna be sick again?”

Castiel blinked slowly, his lips parting but making no move to form words. Again? He didn’t remember being sick. Pain? Yes, everything hurt, at least to some degree. Fatigue? He didn’t even know what fatigue was. It was tiredness, yes, but would fatigue cause his body to move so slowly, disjointedly, absently? Would fatigue make his muscles shaky and weak and unable to support him?

It hurts to think. It hurts to speak. It hurts to… everything.

“Castiel?” Sam sat on the edge of the bed and gave him a slight shake. “Can you answer yes-or-no questions for me?”

Castiel gave a jerky nod, struggling to catch his breath despite the unbearable pain it caused. I can do that, I think. He hoped so.

“Okay, uh, you were coughing up blood earlier. Do you feel like you need to do that again?”

Castiel shook his head, inhaling slowly through his nose but finding it made no difference. It still hurt, and he still didn’t want to breathe any more than he had to.

“Are you in pain?”

Castiel nodded once, trying to relay the severity of the yes with his eyes.

“Okay, okay. It hurts a lot. Can you point to it?”

Castiel looked down at himself—a difficult feat, given he was still lying on his back—and then looked back at Sam.

“Okay, so, pain all over. Great.”

Castiel frowned, confused.

“Sarcasm. I meant it’s terrible.” Sam flashed another quick smile, but concern quickly regained control over his features. “Is there one spot that hurts more than the rest?” he asked, pulling his phone from his pocket and pressing a variety of buttons.

Castiel gave a single nod.

“Okay. Can you point to that?”

Castiel reached up and pointed to his throat. Because, despite the pressure in his chest and the ache in his limbs and the pounding in his head, he couldn’t stand being unable to breathe without shrapnel clawing its way from the back of his throat to his esophagus.

“Let me get you some water.” Sam jumped to his feet and went where Castiel couldn’t see.

Not that Castiel tried all that hard to watch him; that would have been entirely too exhausting. Instead, he stared up at the ceiling and tried to breathe as little as possible, his fingers wandering over the surface of the blankets he was laying under.

Under? ...Sam and Dean had put him to bed.

Castiel didn’t know why that made his chest warm.

“I asked Dean to get some ibuprofen.” Sam walked back to the bed and set a glass of water on the nightstand, grabbing Castiel under the arms and pulling him into a sitting position.

Castiel grunted when the movement caused him pain, color dusting his cheeks at the mortifying reality of his helplessness.

“I know you’re an angel…” Sam used the pillows from both beds to prop Castiel up, “…but you aren’t supposed to be able to sleep, and you did. So, maybe human meds will make you feel at least a little better.” Sam sat on the bed again and held the glass out.

Castiel reached for it, but Sam must have seen the way his hands were shaking, because his attempt was gently pushed aside.

“It’s okay, I can just hold it.” Sam did exactly that, pressing the glass to Castiel’s lips and tipping it as slowly as possible.

Castiel cautiously sipped the beverage, knowing he didn’t need it but hoping it could do something to ease his discomfort. It did, and for that he was grateful, but he couldn’t ignore the knot of humiliation twisting around in his gut.

Sam pulled the glass away after a moment. “Is that better at all?”

Castiel almost nodded, but he decided to give his voice another try. “Yes,” he whispered softly, grateful to find the pain had dulled somewhat. “Thank you.”

“Yeah, no problem.” Sam set the drink aside again and fell silent, waiting patiently for… something.

Don’t make me figure out what you want. It requires far more mental capacity than I have at my disposal. You barely make sense to me when my brain is fully functioning. This… this isn’t fair.

“We were worried about you.” Sam finally broke the silence, a soft smile pulling at the corner of his mouth while sadness darkened his eyes. “You were out cold for seventeen hours.”

Castiel’s eyes widened, and he got closer to shouting than he had in a very long time. “Seventeen?” His voice cracked halfway through the word.

Sam nodded grimly, but Castiel could tell he had no idea the gravity of what he had just confirmed.

Castiel had been unaware of anything for seventeen hours. He hadn’t been communicating with anyone or anything telepathically, he hadn’t existed on an astral plane, he hadn’t entered another vessel or adopted his more multidimensional form, he simply… stopped. He stopped for seventeen hours, and it scared him.

It terrified him.

“Castiel? Hey, you okay?”

Castiel inhaled slowly, discouraged by the returning shards, and shook his head. “I… I’m fine. I was… lost in thought.” He took another breath and looked around the room, desperate for a change of conversation.

“Where’s Dean?” he asked, seeing the room lacked older brothers of the Winchester variety.

“He ran to the store,” Sam explained. “He’s getting pills, remember? He’ll be back soon. Actually…” Sam pulled his phone out of his pocket and started pressing its buttons again. “Sorry, just thought of something else. Let me…” He pressed more buttons and then shoved the device back into his pocket. “Do you want some more water?”

Castiel glanced at the drink and, loathe as he was to admit his desperate need for help, he nodded. He tried not to think about it when Sam held the glass for him again. He tried even harder not to make eye contact, or do anything that would, in general, acknowledge the existence of another person in the room.

Sam set the glass aside again. “You feeling any better?”

Castiel considered the question for a moment. “Perhaps. I… am healing, albeit slowly.” He blinked a few times, his eyes watering slightly. “I…” His mouth stretched open, and he pulled down an unusually large amount of air, the sensation not altogether unpleasant but hardly enjoyable.

“It looks like you might need to sleep some more.”

Castiel’s heart seized in his chest. No, I don’t. No more sleep.

“You really did a nu…” Sam opened his mouth much like Castiel had, covering the hole with his hand and emitting a sound that fell somewhere between a sigh and a hum.

Castiel tilted his head slightly, wondering if he was not alone in his need—not need—for sleep. “Are you tired, too?”

Sam shook his head with a soft chuckle. “Nah. Yawns are contagious.”

Castiel’s eyes widened. “You mean… I infected you?”

Of course, that’s why he covered his mouth with his hand.

But Sam only laughed again. “No, no, it’s okay. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just… well, science can’t really explain it. We don’t fully understand yawning yet.”

Castiel nodded his head slowly and glanced away, feeling the urge again. He swallowed it and focused his gaze on the bed, taking time to contemplate his sandwiched position between layers of fabric. He had been touched by their care of his unconscious body earlier, he recalled, but he had gotten distracted before he could realize the newness of the situation.

Castiel had never been in a bed before. It was nice.

It was nice, but it did create a slew of unfamiliar sensations, a collection which only increased every time he moved. “Where are my clothes?”

Sam pointed to the floor by the bed. “You still have your boxers and your shirt, but we got rid of everything else. More comfortable that way.”

Nodding slowly, Castiel moved his feet and wiggled his toes. “Yes, it is more… comfortable…” It was almost pleasurable, in a way. Soft sheets against bare skin, nothing restricting movement, cooler temperature that wouldn’t induce sweating.

That last one, of course, he wasn’t supposed to be aware of. Temperature. I must be in a terrible condition.

But he chose not to focus on that. Instead, he focused on the sensation of being surrounded by softness. He let himself be amazed by how inexplicably nice it was to be able to move around and yet never expose himself to the cold, biting air. It felt secure and safe—which was ridiculous, because two layers of fabric couldn’t protect anyone from anything—and the closeness of the material reminded him of bygone days spent wrapped up in his own wings, curled into a tight ball of safety and warmth and—

“Castiel? You want to go back to sleep?”

Castiel shook his head immediately. “No,” he rasped.

“Really? You were starting to nod off for a second there.”

Castiel had no idea what that meant, but he didn’t want to sleep.

“It might make you feel better.”

Castiel shook his head again.

“Dean and I will be here when you wake up, Cas.”

Oh.

There. That was it.

Castiel hadn’t even realized it until that moment, but that was why he feared unconsciousness so much. There was no control, no influence on the situation he was in. Normally, when his vessel was in danger but out of reach, he could call on his siblings and get their aid. He could influence aspects of the universe from an astral plane and keep himself safe. He could put up barriers and wards to keep out anything untoward.

But unconsciousness? Unconsciousness meant utter helplessness.

It gave anyone the capability to walk into the room and do what they pleased with him. He wouldn’t be able to fight back, wouldn’t be able to call for help, wouldn’t be able to do anything because he wouldn’t even be aware of what was happening until it was too late.

Sleeping meant vulnerability, and vulnerability required trust. Castiel didn’t have a lot of that left.

“Come on, Cas.”

Castiel was suddenly aware of hands on his hips, and then his body was tugged toward the foot of the bed so he could lay flat. “Sam, I—”

“Just try, okay?” Sam sat down on the bed and reached out a hand.

Castiel flinched when the fingers approached his hairline, instinctively associating finger-to-head contact with loss of control.

“Easy.” Sam spoke softly, and he had a warm smile on his face. “Dean used to do this when I was sick. It always put me right to sleep.”

There was a split second of nothing, and then Castiel felt Sam’s fingers trailing through his hair. Tensing slightly, the not-so-angelic angel tried to look up at the hand. He could only make out an occasional wrist and thumb, the contact requiring a closeness that allowed Castiel to smell something like oak and spice emanating from Sam’s skin and clothing.

“Isn’t this a bit…” Castiel struggled, thinking back over his personal space lessons with Dean, “…um, Don Juan?”

Sam only chuckled, unperturbed. “No, Cas. It’s just a comforting gesture.” He shrugged. “I mean, sure, romantic partners play with each other’s hair, but siblings do it to each other, too. Parents do it to their kids, some close friends do it to each other, medical workers might do it to a patient… it’s just something meant to soothe.”

Castiel relaxed into the mattress, already struggling to keep his eyes open. “It is very effective.” His mouth stretched open in another yawn, but he paid it no mind, focused instead on the tingling sensation traveling across his scalp and down his spine. “It’s… nice.”

Sam chuckled again. “Yeah, it is.”

Sam… I can trust Sam… I can trust Dean… they’re my friends… my family… they’re safe… sleeping around them is safe…

Something else Castiel didn’t like about unconsciousness was that one never really knew at what moment they ceased to be awake.


I can’t do this anymore.

Castiel thought it was very uncharacteristic of himself to think that way, because he had always considered himself a rather strong individual. He had endured many hardships in his lengthy lifespan. He had lost brothers and sisters, fought in battles that made Normandy look like a picnic, undergone endless hours of torture… and he always managed to stick it out. Sometimes he backpedaled, but it was only ever for a moment or two, and then he got his balance again.

But he couldn’t.

He just couldn’t listen to Sam scream anymore.

“Guys, help! Help! Please!”

Castiel’s gut twisted at the sudden increase in volume, air rushing softly by as he landed inside the panic room. “Sam, you know we can’t let you out.”

Sam arched off the bed, body writhing against the restraints. “Cas—Castiel, please!”

Castiel approached the bed and looked down at Sam, profound sadness in his eyes. “Sam…”

“Don’t leave,” Sam gasped, eyes frantically searching for… something, though Castiel didn’t know what. “Please. I know—I know you can’t let me out, but haaa!” He arched again, back curving away from the thin mattress, and his voice was thick with tears when he spoke again. “Please, don’t leave. Don’t leave me in here. I don’t want to be alone.”

Castiel struggled with his words for a moment, but whatever he had been trying to say was erased by a quiet whimper. Sam’s face was screwed up and tight with pain, sweat soaked his hair and clothes, and he choked out a sob that surely would have continued had he not needed air so desperately.

“It hurts… it hurts so bad, Castiel, please, help me. Cas, please!”

Castiel sat down on the edge of the bed and leaned over Sam. He didn’t know much about human comfort, but he knew enough, and Castiel thought it was only fair he administer what he knew to the one who taught it to him.

“Cas, please… Cas…?”

Castiel ran his fingers through Sam’s hair, speaking softly. “It’s alright, Sam. It won’t last forever.”

Sam turned his head, pressing his face against Castiel’s palm. “It hurts… it… it hurts…”

Castiel let out a soft sigh and left his hand by Sam’s cheek, his other hand coming up to resume the task of hair stroking. “I know.”

“Don’t—don’t leave.” Sam stared up with glassy, frightened eyes. “You won’t leave, right?”

“No, Sam. I will stay. I promise.” Castiel continued to stroke Sam’s hair, occasionally using his thumb to rub the flushed cheek in his hand. “You are go—”

Sam arched off the mattress again and screamed, the desperate sound dissolving into sobs. He writhed and moaned, spit flying from his lips while his skin grew darker, blood pounding into his head.

And yet, to Castiel’s amazement, Sam never let himself break contact. No matter what, he pushed his head against Castiel’s hand.

“Dean—Dean’s mad at me.” Sam hissed and bucked again, a low groan grating up his throat, as though he had been punched in the gut. “I—I let him down. I wasn’t—I tried, Cas, I tried so hard.”

Castiel shushed him softly, still stroking his hair and hoping it was effective. “You didn’t let anyone down, Sam. Dean isn’t angry with you.”

Sam let out a bitter laugh, a sound which was quickly overtaken by grunts of pain. “No offense, but—you don’t know my brother as—as well as I do. I know what—he looks like—when he’s angry.”

“I never said he wasn’t angry,” was the simple retort. “I said he was not angry with you. You—”

“Cas!” Sam arched again, vocal chords clashing violently in his throat as he screamed for mercy that couldn’t be given. “Please, Cas, please, help me… please, please, Cas, it hurts, it hurts so much, you don’t understand—Cas! Cas, Castiel, Cas, it hurts, please…”

Castiel struggled with what to do for a moment, and then he shed his trench coat, trying to keep one hand on Sam’s head at all times. He placed his coat over Sam’s lower half, hoping it would offer the same sense of security Castiel had received from the motel blankets, and then he returned to stroking Sam’s hair.

“You’re going to be okay, Sam.” Castiel paused, glancing upward. “Do you truly think Dean blames you for your addiction?”

Sam panted, open-mouthed and wet, blinking up at Castiel with tears on his cheeks and a bewildered light in his eyes.

“Dean was angry because you lied to him. You trusted a demon more than him, and you chose power over him. He was angry because he was hurt.” Castiel offered the faintest of smiles and wiped the tears from Sam’s face. “You told him the truth today, Sam. You trusted him, and things still went awry. Dean is angry with himself for failing you.”

Sam pressed his face into Castiel’s hand, eyes flickering in every direction, chest jumping as he struggled to breathe. Still, he didn’t interrupt, so Castiel assumed his words were having a positive effect.

“You are his little brother. You are his responsibility. When Dean sees you drinking demon blood, he doesn’t see a monster, he sees his own failure. He should have done a better job, he should have taken more precautions, he should have…” Castiel let his words hang, indicating anything could be inserted into the silence. “You know that’s how he thinks. Even his initial revelation of what you were doing was riddled with guilt. He shouldn’t have died, he should have been there for you, he should have kept you on the straight and narrow. If he had just been around, none of this would have happened. You and I know it wasn’t his fault, but is that or is that not how Dean Winchester thinks?”

Sam stared for a second or two and then nodded weakly, trying to blink away his tears only to send them cascading into his hairline. “He shouldn’t… I don’t—” He shook his head. “I never got to talk to him about—about Heaven. I wanted—haa!”

Castiel startled at the sudden fit, but he quickly recovered and did his best to ease Sam into a state of calm, stroking his hair and whispering softly. “It’s alright, Sam, it’s alright.”

“I didn’t… I didn’t know how to tell him.”

Castiel shushed him. “You don’t have to speak so loud. Save your strength.”

Sam either didn’t hear, didn’t care, or couldn’t obey, and he continued at the same volume. “I didn’t—I’m not right, Cas.”

Castiel tilted his head to the side. “I don’t understand.”

“I’m just—I’m just all wrong.” Sam gasped for air and pulled against the restraints, trying to curl in on himself. “Ahh, haa, it hurts… it hurts so bad…” He exhaled sharply. “I was never… I didn’t—I didn’t fit, you know? It wasn’t—I love Dean. I love him so much, Cas, but… I wanted to be just—just like him and every time I looked at him, I just—I saw all the ways I couldn’t measure up. That’s why—that’s why he isn’t in my favorite memories, not because… because I don’t love him, Cas. I do, Cas, I do. I love him so much…”

Castiel remained quiet, sympathy creasing the corners of his eyes.

“But when I was—when I was away, I could be Sam, y’know? I just—I just wanted to be Sam. And Sam… when Sam was with Dad and Dean, he was a burden. He got in the way, and he wasn’t as strong or as fast, and Dad and Dean were both so busy protecting him they would get hurt, and it was all his fault, and he always fought with Dad, and he just—I just wanted to be Sam without ruining everything, Cas, I just wanted to be me without hurting anyone. I was just so… so tired of being different. Everyone—haaa! Oh, ah… ah…” Sam twisted in the restraints.

“Sam, it’s okay.” Castiel frowned slightly at the warmth of Sam’s skin, and he blew gently across the surface of Sam’s face. “It’s okay. It’s alright, just take a deep breath.”

Sam panted heavily, chest heaving, and shook his head haphazardly. “Everyone says… I’m the better hunter, but… I never wanted to be better at hunting, I wanted to hunt like Dean. I wanted to—to look at Dad and Dean and feel like I belonged there. I didn’t remember Mom, and I didn’t know what Dad was like before, and I never got to have any of that apple pie life they both knew about, and it was like—it was like there was this understanding between them, like—like they would hear a song or smell something and suddenly, they were both back in a simpler time, and I just—I just didn’t belong, Cas. Do you know what that’s like?” His voice cracked, and he managed to open his eyes enough to look at Castiel. “Growing up in a family that’s already so different from the outside world and still feeling like you don’t belong? And with Ruby—with Ruby, it was like… like I was where I was supposed to be, doing something I was born to do. Sam Winchester, the Boy with the Demon Blood. I was filling my role, and she didn’t—didn’t make me feel wrong for… for fitting in, and I… Cas, I just… I just wanted to belong, Cas… that’s all… I just wanted to belong… I am so tired of being a freak…”

Castiel maneuvered his hand behind Sam’s head and lifted it slightly, pressing his forehead against Sam’s and carding a hand through the increasingly damp locks. He’s still so warm.

“Sam… do you still feel like you don’t belong?”

Sam whimpered and said nothing, his breath flashing across Castiel’s skin in bursts.

“Sam…” Castiel sighed softly.

“Look at me, Cas.” Sam nearly squeaked out the words, his voice fractured and shaking and afraid. “I’m a psychotic freak of nature. I’m the devil’s vessel. I—” he groaned loudly, “—I’m addicted to demon blood, and when I drink it, I change. I get special powers, and…” He shook his head, his forehead rubbing against Castiel’s. “Dean is Dean, and you’re you. You don’t just… drink a potion and become someone… something different…”

“Sam,” Castiel chided softly. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“I don’t know, Cas…” Sam shook his head, groaning through another wave of milder convulsions. “Do I?”

“What kind of question is that, moron?”

Sam and Castiel both stiffened, the latter straightening up and turning his head to look at the door. It creaked, the locks sliding out of place, and then it swung outward.

Dean stepped in and pulled the door shut behind him, wiping his eyes and trying to maintain some semblance of his masculine dignity. He walked straight over to the bed and knelt down beside Sam’s head, leaning over and pulling his brother into an awkward but fully welcomed hug.

Castiel was unsure whether or not he was supposed to move, but regardless of Dean’s presence, Castiel had promised not to leave Sam. So, he sat perfectly still and waited.

Dean tucked his chin over Sam’s shoulder and squeezed him tightly. “You did good, Sammy.” He shook his head and held on tighter. “You did so good. You told me you were struggling. You were the one who suggested we lock you up. When you were high, you were staring at your next dose, man, and you said no. You said no.”

Sobbing, Sam tried to reciprocate the hug without the use of his arms.

“You did so good. You made me so proud, Sammy.” Dean turned his head, half resting it on Sam’s shoulder. “You’re gonna be okay. You’re gonna be okay, Sammy.”

Sam drew air down in stuttering gasps, chest heaving. “D-Dean…”

“Cas is gonna stay with you, and I’m gonna go get some water and painkillers and a blanket.” He pulled away slightly and pushed Sam’s bangs out of his eyes, trailing his fingers through Sam’s hair. “You want me to make some tomato rice soup?”

Sam gave a stiff, teary-eyed nod.

“Okay.” Dean smiled, and despite the sadness in his eyes, there was a fondness in the way his lips turned up in the corners. “Okay, I’ll be back soon.”

Castiel watched as Dean ran his hand through Sam’s hair again, relieved to see the gesture was similar to what he had been doing to comfort Sam. Still sitting, Castiel followed Dean with his eyes, waiting until the older hunter got to his feet and moved away to close the gap between Sam and himself.

“Cas, you’re—you’re still here?” Sam asked softly, a shudder tearing through his frame.

Castiel nodded twice. “Yes, Sam, I am still here. I told you I wouldn’t leave.”

“Thank you.” Sam took a deep breath and tried to let it out slowly, but a jolt of pain cut him off.

Frowning, Castiel started to stroke Sam’s hair again. “For what?”

“For coming in here.” Sam screwed his eyes shut. “For playing with my hair.” He grit his teeth and moaned through another wave of convulsions. “For staying even after Dean showed up. You… didn’t have to, you know, but… but you did.” He clenched his jaw and pushed a scream between his teeth. “Hah… Cas… when you live the life we do… it’s so important to have family…”

“Family?” Castiel looked over his shoulder. “You mean—?” He looked back at Sam. “You mean like Dean and Bobby? I’m family?”

Sam let out an airy laugh and nodded. “Yeah, Cas… you’re family. Of course, you’re family.”

Castiel blinked slowly, and while he continued to play with Sam’s hair, his mind began to wander.

Castiel was used to being part of a large family, but his relationships with his brothers and sisters had never felt like his relationship with Sam and Dean and Bobby. There was a certain… intimacy to his human family. There was a closeness. No hiding weaknesses and scars, no belittling the shortcomings and mistakes, no dismissal of soft-spoken words.

 “Ah, Cas! Cas! Owww, ow, ow… Cas…”

Castiel jerked himself from his thoughts and quickly resumed the task of administering comfort. “Sorry,” he murmured. “Dean should be back any second.”

Sam nodded and tried to stay silent, but he eventually let a burst of air through his lips, followed shortly by haggard panting and another attempt to hold his breath.

“Is it the sleeping?” Castiel asked suddenly.

Sam looked at him in utter confusion. “What?”

“Is that why you need family so much? Because you can’t trust anyone else to watch you when you’re incapable of watching yourself?”

Sam gave a weak smile. “Yeah, I… I guess that’s one way of putting it.”

“I see.” Castiel nodded a few times. “I… I feel safe sleeping around you, too, Sam.”

Sam winced, sucking air through his teeth, but he had a smile on his face as soon as the pain receded. “Team Free Will… also known as… the Sleeping Safety Squad.”

Castiel felt his lips quirk up in the corner, and then his mouth stretched into a full-blown smile. “Yes. You and Dean and Bobby are definitely safe people to sleep around.”

Sam laughed softly. “You are, too, Cas.”

“Good.” Castiel nodded, feeling an odd combination of relief and pride.

The Sleeping Safety Squad.

Castiel liked the sound of it, the thought of it. He liked the idea of being able to hand his family a knife and then show them his exposed back without a single shred of fear. He liked knowing that he could sleep—he could truly sleep, consciousness completely obliterated—without worrying for his own safety. He liked knowing he could be unaware of the conversation in a room, and the words wouldn’t turn to ridicule or criticism in his absence. Even the coarse terms and short, clipped tones would reflect nothing but love.

“Get that idjit a blanket before he freezes.”

“You bonehead, you’re supposed to take your shoes off.”

“Hey, hand me that Sharpie; I’m gonna give him a mustache.”

Castiel couldn’t help but smile, dreaming of the day when the words he had heard them use in reference to each other would be directed at him—at his sleeping, helpless, oblivious body.

The Sleeping Safety Squad.

Because how else could an angel get a good night’s sleep in the middle of the apocalypse?