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Magenta Skycode: Go Outside Again

It starts with a knock on Dean Winchester’s door, followed by a heavy thud.

Dean lifts his gaze to look at the mountains that rise tall and snowy across the lake and frowns. He placed an order for some marine architecture books last night, but it couldn’t be them yet. Salespeople never find his house, and he can’t even begin to think how little possibility there is for a surprise friend visiting him.

It doesn’t matter, though. Soon enough, the knock is repeated, followed by a kick.

There’s only one person who kicks down doors if he’s being ignored, and that’s…

Dean groans loudly and hops onto his feet. He drags himself through the dark kitchen — the natural light only hits it before sunset — and into the hallway before opening the door to none other than Sam Winchester himself. He’s got one of those condescending looks on his face, but he pulls Dean in for a hug nonetheless.

“I’m so glad you’re okay,” he mutters against the top of Dean’s head, the tall bastard, “I worried when you didn’t answer your phone after telling me to fuck off.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Dean says, “why wouldn’t I be okay?”

“So he had a good reason to leave several days before you expected and drive all the way here to strong-arm you,” Jess, Sam’s wife, says. She pushes Sam away to hug Dean herself, “so please, just play along.”

“Great, just what I need.”

“He was also worried sick.”

“In that case, thanks, I guess. For looking after me.”

“Are you not going to invite us in?”

“Of course,” Dean says with a one-sided shrug.

“Fair warning: he won’t take no for an answer,” Jess grins and slides past Dean into the house.

“Fuck,” Dean mutters, mostly to himself, and makes way for his moose brother to enter as well.

 

Sam and Jess got engaged two months ago, and neither one seemed to be very interested in planning anything extravagant. Jess’ parents were willing to lavish money on something extravagant for their only daughter, but such trappings didn’t interest her, and neither did the local church. Instead she proposed a small wedding, with only close friends, but in an exotic destination of their choice. Sam had told Dean excitedly when they agreed, and Dean had clenched the phone in his hand hard enough to almost break, knowing his brother would demand that he travel overseas despite his terror of flying. . Sure enough, he’d gotten a Save the Date postcard telling him only that they’d be going to a ‘surprise destination’ from Amsterdam. He wished them the best and refused every time Sam begged him to reconsider. Dean wants to believe Sam wouldn’t drive here hoping he’d convince Dean to step into a metal cage of death in the sky, but he knows that’s exactly why they’re here dragging all their luggage with them.

Dean makes them coffee and digs up some chocolate chip cookies from the pantry. They sit at the bar table of his open concept kitchen for a couple of quiet beats before Sam starts speaking.

“So, I got that job,” he says. “The one I told you about before, well, that whole fuck-off thing.”

“At that environmental place? Shit, man, that’s awesome!” A note of enthusiasm sneaks into Dean’s voice. “I knew you’d get it.”

“All of us did, except for you,” Jess hums dreamily, pushing a lock of Sam’s hair behind his ear, “you’re too modest for your own good.”

Sam manages a smile. “Yeah. And I’m still grateful that none of you told me not to go after my dream. So, anyway, Dean. I know we talked about this and you said no like a hundred times-”

“I will say no again, Sam, so help me God.”

“I know. It’s… I really want you there. I’ve promised to pay for your expenses, knock you out-”

“Please, don’t. ”

Sam gives him a pensive look, his face determined and sly, like he’s got an ace up his sleeve and he’s just been waiting for Dean to call.

“I can still sweeten the deal for you. You know the invitation just had the first point where we’d all meet, and the final destination  is still a secret.”

“Yeah, and it seems like you’ve got plenty of friends willing to travel on the Moore’s dime. ”

“I don’t enjoy your tone,” Jess huffs. “My parents want to do this, and  it’s not like everyone we invited is coming. But, yeah, we’ve got a group of wedding guests coming.”

“He’s just jealous,” Sam says, and Dean scoffs before nodding and mouthing ‘yeah, I am’. “Are you listening to me?”

“No. Even mentioning traveling is making me nauseous.”

He finishes his coffee before he’s too sick to do so, and pushes cookies in his mouth.

“Really?” Sam says, looking at the crumbs falling on the table, “is your final word going to be no? You won’t attend your brother’s wedding? Your only brother? The only family you have?”

“Final answer. Now, can we please talk about something else? I want to hear about your new job.”

“There’s one more thing I’m going to say,” Sam mutters. “After that, I’m done trying to persuade you.”

“You’ve got your fucking travel gear with you. There’s nothing you can say that would change my mind since, apparently, you’re heading to the airport from here.”

“Mykonos.”

Dean perks up despite himself, and that flash of intrigue is where Sam strikes.

“I know you want it, Dean. You’ve always wanted it.”

“Oh, that’s a low blow. Sam, don’t be like this. You’ve always talked about a city-”

“We can travel to Athens afterwards. There’s vast history in the islands of Greece that we want to discover,” Jess states, “but more than anything, we really, really want you on board. If this is what it takes to have you by Sam’s side for our wedding, then it’s the only place for us to go.”

Dean sighs. His eyes automatically travel towards the bookshelf on the back end of his living room.

Damn , Sam is right. Dean really wants this, for a host of reasons that no one but Sam truly knows.

 

Dean walks along the lakeside, rolls his shoulders and finally takes a seat on the nearby dock. Almost automatically, he strips off his boots and socks and lets his feet fall into the water. He wiggles his toes and sighs.

The view in front of him is familiar, but it’ll never stop being stunningly beautiful. Tall, stony mountains rise across the clear water, the sky is turning orange in symphony with the setting sun, and the air is clear enough to feel like it’s piercing Dean’s lungs. Montana’s late July days are almost uncomfortably warm for him, but having a natural swimming pool right next door takes the edge off that. Besides, bodies of water — especially calm ones like small lakes — have always made Dean relax and think clearer.

He already knows he’s going to say yes to Sam. It will probably be the only time he ever has to board a plane, and killing two birds with one stone by flying to a location he needs to travel to, eventually, anyway… It’s too good of a deal.

He watches his feet blur in the water and wiggles his toes again. It’s been a long while since he last was at sea. He’d need a tourist guide to take him through the motions of swimming in something that isn’t a shallow lake and possibly has waves in it.

He lets his exhale roll until his lungs are painfully empty, and stretches out the time between breaths. As he inhales again, he lifts his gaze up to the mountains — the firm, strong walls he’s build around himself in fear of change.

He’s ready for something to begin.

*

Dean wakes before his alarm. For a moment, he just lies on his mattress, waiting. For one foggy moment, he doesn’t fully realize it’s the morning of their departure and instead, he thinks about Mykonos. There’s books and notes all over his house about modern research on folklore and gods — mostly those of the ocean kind — and even though he went through them last night, he fears he’s missing some of it. The fear is not unfounded, either; his research has been going on for more than twenty years and there’s bound to be something that gets by his radar.

Greece has always been one of the places he’s been desperate to visit. It’s filled with people still active with lore, especially of that of their gods, so he’s bound to find invaluable information among them. He needs to go see the sights, spot the historically important locations, travel between Greek islands and shit , all of this is already making him very excited.

That is, until he remembers he needs to board a plane in five hours. A dead weight settles on top of his chest at the realization, and he tries to gasp through it to no avail.

Dean stomps his way to the kitchen and splashes his face with water before drinking it straight from his hands. It doesn’t really help, but it clears his mind enough to think of the options. Should he get wasted? The flight is just around 18 hours in total, so it wouldn’t be his personal record. Sam wouldn’t allow it — he’s way too into all things health-related and would remind Dean of the dangers of flying under the influence. He has an entire monologue about the dangers of self-medicating anxiety with alcohol, and Dean still has it etched into his skull,  even though it’s been over ten years since they last flew together.

Besides, he doesn’t want to deal with the consequences right after landing. It’s enough to be jetlagged, but jetlagged and hungover… Nah. Not worth it.

Which leaves him with medication. He has some prescribed pills for insomnia in his drawer, because sometimes summer nights are too hot for him, so surely he could start the trip with eight hours of shuteye?

Sam’s insistent voice comes through his thoughts again, reminding him that like drinking, sleeping pills also indirectly increases the risk of blood clots. Guy’s a damn clickbait article.

Dean groans and packs a couple of pills anyway. Maybe he’ll ask Sam to wake him up after four hours to stretch his legs and pump his ankles. Hell, he should ask Sam to do it for him.

“Hey, man,” a voice says from behind Dean, effectively making him jump.

“Fuck, Sam,” he huffs and turns around to face his moose of a brother, “are you serious? You can’t fucking sneak up on me like that!”

“Why are you awake already? We don’t need to leave until…” Sam lets his eyes wander to the large copper clock on the wall, “Oh, okay. Maybe it’s good to be awake.”

“I can’t exactly sleep. You’re being an ass, and I hate you. Why can’t you do this somewhere I can drive to?”

“Because we want to go to Europe, travel while we can, and if Jess’ parents are willing to foot the bill why shouldn’t we go all out? Besides, you want to go to Greece to catch your gods,” Sam says and rubs his eye, “and I need coffee before I can listen to your whining.”

 

Jess joins them as soon as the coffee’s on the table; she’s got the nose of a fucking bloodhound when it comes to caffeine. They talk about plans that mostly involve sleeping for the first couple of days, and preparing a short-notice ceremony somewhere nice. There’s a lot of things Dean, as the best man, needs to take care of — but he’ll get help from Bela, the maid of honor. It’s been a while since he met her and it only happened twice, but he’s certain they’ll get along just fine.

Too soon, they pack their stuff in Sam’s hybrid RAV4. After the anxiousness that didn’t fully form into a panic attack in the morning, it’s been hard for Dean to fully grasp reality. He knows it’ll hit him at the airport, but for now, he closes his eyes and listens to the steady hum of the vehicle.

He’s packed enough lore to last him through the two weeks he’s going to spend in the islands of Greece. He imagines rocky shores, crystal waters and white sand; he imagines white buildings and creeks and flowers; he imagines laughing people and hidden caverns until his heart is about to burst. He needs to do this. He wants to do this.

The closest airport from Dean’s house at Lake Josephine is either Glacier Park International or Lethbridge; and this time, they’re driving up to Canada. It’s a bit over an hour and a half spent in semi-awkward silence — Jess and Sam both want to talk about upcoming adventures, but they know it’d likely bring Dean to the brink of another panic attack. Instead, they talk about the office turtles that Jess spends her days with, Sam’s salary, and salad recipes. It’s pointless, idle chatter, but Dean is almost grateful for it — until he remembers it’s Sam and Jess’ fault he’s in this situation to begin with.

Dean’s wiring doesn’t fully connect when they’re checking in, or when they go through security, or when they purchase snacks and drinks from the tax-free stores on the other side of the security gates. He absently watches the planes disappear into the pitch-black darkness of Canadian sky, and wonders if there are people who do this daily. Is this normal for someone? What could he learn from a person like that?

It’s not until their passports are checked and they’re pushed into a makeshift aluminum hallway tube that Dean’s feet stop working.

“Okay, this was fun,” he breathes out and lets his body drag him to the floor, “see you.”

“Dean,” Sam says, calm but firm, “we can’t stay here.”

“That’s right, we can’t. This is a no-place between Heaven and h- Sam, are we in Purgatory?”

“Get yourself together, man,” Jess whispers. “You can do this. You’re not alone.”

Dean shrugs.

“I’m not even afraid up here,” he says, pointing at his temple, “but my feet won’t work.”

“Then it’s a good thing I’m bigger than you,” Sam huffs and yanks Dean by his wrists, but it’s not really painful. “We’re causing a scene, and you hate it more when your anxiety draws attention to you. Is that what you want right now?”

“If that means I can stay.”

“There’s nothing in the world that is keeping you here,” Sam mutters, “unless you’re going to die right now.”

“Don’t test me, so help me god, Sammy. It can be arranged.”

Jess makes a half-gasping sound and looks around nervously, obviously already afraid they’re going to be thrown out due to suicide threats.  “Please don’t bring security down on our heads because you’re shouting about self-harm, please, Dean!”

Sam finally succeeds in getting Dean on his feet, and somehow, he’s dragged inside the plane. It reeks of disinfectant and fake leather, and Dean is stuffed next to the window before Jess and Sam take care of their carry-ons. Dean instinctively clicks his seatbelt closed and tries to inhale, and exhale. It’s no use — he’s feeling a sense of dread that can only be caused by knowing he’s going to die; there’s no way he can escape this plane now, and his brother is being an unreasonable ass in letting him die like this.

“This is a good starting point,” Sam insists, trying to soothe Dean’s anxiety with logic, “the flight’s only fifty minutes. We can do this. You can do this.”

“Don’t think you’re going to make me forget the eight plus hours we’re going to be flying across the fucking Atlantic,” Dean hisses. “You’re not fooling anybody.”

Sam pats Dean on his arm and focuses on talking with Jess. When the engines turn on, Dean grits his teeth and briefly thinks he’s going to pass out. He’s angry at Sam and Jess for doing this to him, for behaving like jerks, and now ignoring him completely -- except that this is exactly what he’s asked of Sam in the past. They’ve flown together before, and if there’s anything that amps up Dean’s anxiety, it’s anyone hovering and fussing around him. They’ve long since established that it’s best for Sam to just get him in, because if he doesn’t  they’re going to spend hours trying to soothe him, only for his anxiety to return as soon as they’ve entered the plane. If Dean wasn’t so anxious right now, he’d be proud of Jess adapting to the situation this well, but he’ll appreciate them rationally once he lives.

*

Amsterdam is bustling with traveling families, businesspeople, couples, and what look like sports groups. As Dean walks among them, he stretches out his fingers — they’re stiff from all the handle-grabbing he did over the Atlantic.  He can’t say the ocean isn’t beautiful, though. It’s different from his little lake; far more than he could handle on a daily basis, but even so, he’s looking forward to seeing the Mediterranean Sea.

They’ve got a couple of hours to kill before boarding the plane to Athens, and Jess and Sam spend it shopping. Dean slumps into one of the row of seats currently unoccupied and lets his gaze travel among the people.

Is anyone as afraid of flying as he is? He knows it’s one of the most common fears people have. How come they hide it so well, then? Why aren’t there more people overwhelmed in his line of sight right now? A couple of kids are having a nervous time where they’re sitting on the other side of the aisle, but even they are handling it better than Dean was. He’s slightly sorry for the bruises he inevitably caused both Sam and Jess, and hopes they will fade before the wedding.

They’ve now been traveling for more than ten hours and Dean still can’t imagine himself eating. That is saying something, too — there’s a ton of restaurants and cafes all around him selling mouth-watering burgers, pizzas, tacos, and even Mediterranean sandwiches. All Dean can think of is throwing up into a too-small paper bag while thirty-five thousand feet high, and if there’s a whole pizza to get through… Nah, it ain’t gonna happen.

Eventually, Sam and Jess are done shopping. They still can neatly fit everything in their carry-ons, so Dean doesn’t have to offer to carry their nonsense along in his own bag. Sam must mistake his grumpiness for anxiety — which, in all honesty, might be the reason he is grumpy in the first place — and throws him a sympathetic smile.

“How are you feeling? Is the third take-off less nerve-wrecking than its predecessors?”

“Hell, no,” Dean states “Sam, I know you’re a firm believe in facing your fears to get over them, but you’d need to take me for about three hundred thousand rides before I’ll believe it’s not going to kill me. Not that that’s going to happen, though. Mark my words, after I’m done with Mykonos in two weeks and fly home, I’m never boarding a plane again.”

“Ah, never say never,” Jess hums, “you don’t know what will happen.”

“That’s right. Maybe you’ll really hit it off with a local and-”

Dean interrupts Sam with a scoff. “Romance? Are you serious, asshole? You think I’m going to get over my issues with romance?”

Sam bites his lip, and Dean knows he made a mistake by saying issues rather than fear of flying , because now Sam’s thinking about other things he thinks are wrong in Dean’s life — things Dean should fix or get help fixing. Be that as it may, hoping Dean will find a healing-type love is rich even by his about-to-be-married brother’s standards.

“I- of course not, Dean. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound like a jerk.”

Dean just lifts his eyebrows and leaves it at that. They’ve been here before. Sam sighs and gives Jess one of their patented couples’ looks that is more telling than words could ever be. Jess looks around for a moment and then leans towards Dean.

“What do you say we’ll go get some snacks for the rest of the flight before we board? You choose, I buy.”

Dean scowls at Sam for a second longer before taking the bait. “Sure. I see it’s a distraction, and it’s not like I could eat anything, but I’ll bite. It’s going to be expensive for you, though.”

 

Air time is shorter again, just over three hours. Sam and Jess buzz about countries they fly over; Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia. When they start talking about the recent history of Eastern Europe, Dean can feel his eyes drooping. It’s unlike him, and the notion almost makes him panic again — but when he opens his eyes again after what feels like a second or two, the seatbelt light is on, his belt is buckled by Sam, probably, and his vertigo suggests they’re descending.

“Morning, Jess says nonchalantly, her gaze fixed on her phone, “Ford or Volvo?”

“Hmm?”

“We’re booking a rental for the duration of our trip. We’ll drive it from the airport to Mykonos. There’s a ferry to take, too, it’s gonna be exciting, “Sam says, “I was thinking Ford, they have a neat hybrid series now. It’s no Chevy, but it’ll do.”

“Both equally suck,” Dean huffs, clenching the seat tighter because the plane is making a tight curve in the air, “take your pick from equally sucking cars.”

Sam and Jess talk quietly while filling out their information for the rental site. Dean watches the plane dive under the layer of clouds — and the sight makes his breath catch. The Mediterranean Sea stretches everywhere he can see — bright turquoise, shimmering, undoubtedly magical. A buzz of excitement runs through his veins as he remembers why he’s agreed to this trip in the first place. He’s ready to get to Mykonos and start his search of whatever he can find, really; gods, more lore, information, and just great locations. It’s with these thoughts in mind that he lands without much panic.

As soon as Dean gets his hands on his luggage, he digs out his notes. It’s still five hours of driving, but since Sam got shuteye while Dean almost fainted over the Atlantic he’s willing to take driving duty, leaving Dean with enough time to look into his latest findings about local gods.

It’s all so vague, though. He’s looked into stories by locals and by people with vast traveling experience around the Greek islands, especially those from less than a hundred years ago; he’s going for recent information, after all. Data about Greek gods since the dawn of time is available for anyone with little to no effort at all, and Dean figures that if there’s gods to be found through ancient chronicles, someone would have done so already.

He does realize it’s all really far-fetched to begin with. There’s no proof of gods existing, let alone sea gods. Still, he keeps on pushing forwards, because for him, they’ve got to exist. As a child he believed in impossible things, as all children do; but there’s a line of demarcation between the time he believed and the moment he knew . Knew that someone miraculous and wonderful had touched his life, had touched him, and it’s colored every facet of his life since. A lifetime of research stemming from a single moment at sea. It’s been a long time since he could lead a “normal” life with “normal” interests, ever since he woke up with the sense that there was something more out there, more than most people know. Sure, Sam might trivialize his interests into something that should lead to romance, but it doesn’t make them any less valuable for Dean.

Shedding all thoughts of his issues and his past, he rolls open the window of the backseat and flips Sam off when he starts complaining about what the pulsating air does to his eardrums. The sea smells of salt, and of fish, and of something far sweeter; it might be wildflowers that carry towards him with the wind.

They drive up to the Grand Hotel Resort at Agios Ioannis, which seems way too extravagant compared to the humble home Dean only just left but already kind of misses. Sam deals with checking in, luckily, and after Dean signs the travel data papers he’s granted his room key and guided to the second floor. Sam and Jess will be staying a couple of rooms over in a honeymoon suite, which is a blessing for obvious reasons.

It’s only 10 am local time, but they agree to meet for dinner around five. Sure enough, Dean falls asleep as soon as his luggage hits the floor. He’s pretty sure he sleepwalks the last couple of steps to his bed, and for now, he remains blissfully unaware of whatever’s going on behind the closed curtains of his room.

Chapter Text

Lana Del Rey: Blue Jeans

 

The next time Dean opens his eyes, he’s already forgotten he’s not home. He feels dead tired, disoriented and confused, and he keeps on blinking at the white ceiling for what feels like forever.

Eventually, he turns his head to the side and is met with more white, fixed with turquoise to match the island’s sea foam colored houses and the sea itself. The analog alarm clock next to the bed says it’s half past five, and it helps Dean regain his sense of reality. That’s right, there were dinner plans.

He gets up with a stretch and walks across the dimly lit room until he reaches the window. He pulls the curtains and sees — the sunset. What the hell, why is the sun setting this early?

The realization hits him painfully slow. It’s not the sunset, it’s the sunrise.

Groaning, he returns to his bed and digs up the phone from his carry-on bag. It takes a while for it to come to life, but when it does, it instantly starts dinging with messages from Sam and Jess. Apparently, they ended up eating a late dinner alone. Kindly enough, they’d left him directions to a nice bistro they found — the directions accompanied with the words when you eventually wake up, god-slayer.

Dean groans at his reflection in the mirror-doored closet and opens his luggage. The temperature’s somewhere in the low twenty degrees Celsius already, so he opts against his trustworthy leather jacket and dresses in light jeans and an old t-shirt instead. It’s way less comfort and safety than he’d like, but he’d rather be a little uncomfortable than a molten puddle of goo on the pavement.

When he gets out into the open air, he needs to almost physically suppress his squeal of delight. He still sort of fears for his life, as one tends to do when far from home, but the more he walks between the white houses the less he worries.

Making the bistro his goal, he keeps going southwest. It’s not realistic to expect any place to be open at this hour, so he hopes he’ll end up by the sea. He could check the map, but he wants to be surprised — it’s overwhelming to finally see the sea he’s dreamed about for so long, and he doesn’t want to rush it. There’s so much to admire before that, too; someone’s cooking breakfast on their patio, early birds have let their children out to run around the narrow alleys and corridors, and a busker is playing a guitar at a street corner. Everything is enveloped in a rosy hue, courtesy of Dean’s admiration, and in a delightful scent brought by a warm breeze. It makes Dean want to explore the nature of it as soon as possible.

Then, he turns another corner and is greeted by the sea. He starts breathing deeply, mechanically, to keep himself from holding his breath. Still, his heart seems to accelerate, as if it wants to escape the prison cage of his ribs and run before diving into the waves. Dean wraps both of his arms around his stomach to restrain himself for a while, and starts walking.

It’s mostly cliffs and stones here, in no way a perfect swimming spot. That’s not what Dean has in mind anyway — he only swims in his lake, and even then, it’s rare — so he just climbs on any suitable surface and hops onward until he’s close enough to touch the water. He crouches down to do just that, but then hesitates and takes a seat on the flat rock instead.

“Here I am,” he says, mostly to himself. “Can’t believe I’m actually here.”

The waves gently sway against his stool of a rock and he sighs.

“It’s been forever. I’ve wanted to come to you forever.”

Frowning, Dean realizes talking to the sea is probably beyond what the etiquette for normal might be. He also realizes he doesn’t mind; it makes him feel like a child again. He lowers his fingertips and lets the sea come to him — the next higher waves reach his knuckles. It’s warm and undeniably salty. Dean looks out into the horizon and sighs again.

“I wonder if you have gods for me.”

*

The bistro looks just as nice as Dean would’ve imagined from Sam’s hype. He orders some tiganites , Greek pancakes, with fresh orange juice and a cup of coffee before turning around and locking eyes with a familiar face. Bela Talbot is sitting at one of the tables to his right and she gestures for him to join her.

“Hello, Bela,” he says with a polite nod, “what brings you here this early?”

“Probably same as you. I arrived the day before yesterday, and have no idea how to maintain a healthy sleeping schedule. Please, have a seat.”

Dean obeys her and thanks the waiter when his food is brought to the table. Bela seems to have ordered some galatopita , milk pie, and there’s three separate espresso cups in front of her as well. She lifts her hand and gestures to them with a sweet smile. It’s contagious, too — Dean notices he’s smiling along.

“So, what do you think of Mykonos? I was hoping for something a bit more populated, but I guess this is cute.”

“You can blame me for the choice. Sam wanted me along and was willing to choose my favorite destination in the world. How come you’re here already, though?”

Bela lowers her gaze and smiles almost shyly. The expression is somewhat unlike her.

“Jess was pretty sure you’d make it. I caught the red-eye as soon as I heard they’d left to bribe you with Greek islands.”

Dean groans. “Damn them both.”

“That’s sort of self-assured of them, sure. Still, I’d be glad to have a family who knows me through and through.”

Dean sighs and nods his acknowledgement. They eat their breakfast in an easy silence, until Bela clears her throat, frowning.

“I’m on flower duty for today, so we can choose some in time for the ceremony.”

“I can’t even remember when the wedding is,” Dean admits.

“Maybe that’s the reason Jess hoped we’d interact as much as possible,” she muses.

“Did she now?”

Bela shrugs with a lopsided smile. “She said the more we spend time making wedding arrangements together, the better.”

“Ah. So, they don’t trust me.”

“You literally just told me you don’t remember your brother’s wedding date,” Bela says with a grin that’s half playful and half rightfully mocking, “so I wouldn’t start.”

Dean reaches over to slap her gently on the back of her head and smiles.

He likes Bela. They met at Sam’s engagement party a little over a year ago, and despite having very different lives — Bela enjoys opulent and extravagant things such as golden Jacuzzis, mansions in L.A., design furniture, and parachuting. Dean looks up to her in many respects; she has made a fortune despite coming from very unfortunate circumstances, and she’s one of those people that always gets their way, no matter how tough the opponent. In that sense, Dean likes the idea of doing organizational stuff with her.

But it bothers him, too. He fears there won’t’ be enough time to pursue his god hunt.

“So, what’s it gonna be?” she asks, already packing her belongings in a classy purse. “Are you joining me for flower duty?”

Dean blinks. “What’s that mean, exactly?”

“I know my Jess, you know your Sam. We can pick flowers and arrange delivery on the morning of the 23rd.”

“23rd! That’s right! That’s their wedding date.”

Bela rolls her eyes, but the gesture is affectionate.

 

She made it sound so easy.

When Bela talked about picking flowers for the wedding, she mentioned them both having close relations to the couple and that, apparently, should’ve meant they also knew about flowers. For Bela’s sake, Dean can admit she knows what looks good and smells nice. Her eye for combinations is impeccable, and she’s even got a decent grasp of what Jess could like. Dean, on the other hand, is strictly there for the sake of being in the way. He doesn’t remember any of Sam’s favorite flowers or colors — but everyone likes roses, right? — nor can he name any of the flowers in the arrangements on display at the shops. Bela isn’t that fluent in flower talk either, so they mainly need to get by with gesturing.

When they have that down, they realize there’s no point in buying anything before they decide on a venue. That’s not for the bests and honors to decide, so Bela wakes Sam up with a query call. Dean walks around their current flower shop, taking in the sea-colored roses and white orchids, but also grand sunflowers that greet him around the same height as his face, all the while half-eavesdropping on Bela’s voice of escalating frustration. Then, with a final groan, the call is over.

“Dean,” Bela sighs, “you’re free all day, right?”

“Uh, I guess I am.”

“Right. Great. We’re going venue scouting.”

Before Dean can ask for anything (or voice his annoyance, for the matter), Bela’s out the door with her long hair floating behind. Dean sighs deeply before following.

*

It’s irritating. Bela received absolutely no info about Jess and Sam’s preferences for the venue either, so they’re going to have to wing it — and if they had little idea about the flowers, they are still way shittier with locations. Dean remembers them wanting an outside wedding, preferably by the sea, so that’s where they’re heading first. While Bela decides to go on a quest through a couple of restaurants to ask about catering possibilities, Dean wanders around a beautiful, white-sanded public beach, hoping to run into someone with knowledge.

There’s a couple of options to choose from, really. There’s a guy sitting on top of a jet ski-related booth’s counter, another one sitting on a high chair while scanning the sea, and at least five other people dressed like they belong to the beach equipment. Because more and more people seem to scoot on the sand, Dean decides on the booth that’s mostly on asphalt.

The guy is concentrated on an ice cream chocolate bar and when Dean approaches him, he greets him with a wink.

“Hello, young man. What shall it be? My chocolate is off limits, but I’ve got jet skiing with and without skis, parasailing, canoeing, scuba diving, and other varieties of watersports,” he says without taking a breath, “except for that kind of watersports, that is. Then again, you’re cute so I might make an exception.”

Dean blinks before shaking his head slowly. “No thanks, I think I’m set in the sports department for now. Do you happen to know who’s in charge of this place? Is there someone I could contact if I wanted to throw a party on the beach? Is this city-owned?”

The dude scrutinizes Dean for a while before scrunching the ice cream wrapper into a ball and tossing it in the trash can outside his booth.

“No, it’s a private beach, so you need to talk to Cassie. As you can see, not in right now. Can I take a message?”

Dean looks towards the restaurant Bela went and tries to count the amount of time he has left.

“Is Cassie around here somewhere?” he presses on, shielding his eyes with his hand while moving his gaze across the beach. It’s starting to get uncomfortably hot already, and it’s hardly even ten in the morning.

“Yeah, probably a couple hundred meters along the coastline, teaching a scuba class with Charlie. I presume it’s the only scuba class currently in session, so you should find them no biggie.”

“Alright, I’ll do that. Thank you…?” Dean leaves the question in the air, already setting his feet on motion towards his target.

“Balthazar. Say hello from me, and please also say that putting your only brother to work on his short vacation sucks ass and is rude.”

“Got it,” Dean says absentmindedly — though, he can sort of relate right now. “Thanks for your trouble.”

 

Dean makes his way through the crowd and thanks his lucky stars he doesn’t actually have to spend time here right now. He wishes he had enough time to steal Sam’s crappy car and drive somewhere more remote — not even being on a small island of ten thousand people can seem to get him away from crowds. He’s had enough of them in airports already, his quota for the year is filled.

A cliff rises from the sea to end the beach, and next to that, a group of people has gathered. Half of them are snorkeling children on the shallow water, while others wait for their turn — or children. Dean beelines towards a young lady with fiery hair and a vest; she looks like she’s here to get shit done, which looks almost comical in comparison to the floundering group in the water.

“Hello,” Dean starts loud enough to draw the attention of the woman while feverishly hoping she speaks English or he’d come off as a rude tourist, “Am I right in assuming you’re Cassie?”

She turns to him with a snort that’s followed by a frown. “Uhh, what?”

“I…” Dean tries again, but something in her mind clicks and she bursts into laughter.

“Oh, right! You must’ve met Balthazar. Oh, no, no, I’m Charlie.”

“Alright, sorry. Then, well. Balthazar mentioned you so I must be at the right spot. Have you any idea where to find Cassie, then?”

Charlie nods behind Dean and when he turns around, the whole world stops for a while.

There’s a guy standing in front of him with a questioning frown and for a couple of seconds, all Dean can see is blue . He’s seen blue eyes before, sure, but this? This makes the fucking sea itself pale in comparison. Dean feels helpless to do anything but take it all in — from the wind-blown hear to the lips chapped in the sea breeze, the loose t-shirt that hangs off one tanned, firm shoulder, the arms that look strong enough to carry fucking Atlantis back to the surface. It’s like the ancient Gods of Greece have carved this divine creature as a physical manifestation of all of Dean’s deepest desires.

He does realize he’s staring. What amazes him even more is to see that not only is this God-given celestial thing patient enough to wait while Dean completely zones out on him, he’s staring at him right back.

Charlie clears her throat somewhere behind them. That’s what makes Dean at least try to get a grip.

“Uh, okay,” he starts quietly, “I’m looking for Cassie.”

“It’s Castiel,” the guy says, and his voice travels through Dean’s veins like a damn caress, “and you have been talking to my brother, then. He’s the only one who refuses to call me anything else. And you are…?”

Dean notices his mouth is hanging open and he snaps it shut while trying to, pretty much, remember his own name. “Dean,” he mutters then, “Dean Winchester.”

“Dean,” the guy — Castiel — repeats and the way he says the name is like honey and iron; strong and sweet at the same time. For some reason, Dean thinks about those stories that say names have power and they should only be shared with a chosen few. Castiel is testing out his name like it’s valuable.

“Yeah,” Dean says with a nod. Seriously, though — the guy is hot as fuck, sure, but not to be able to speak in sentences is a new low for him.

“You wanted to find me, here I am,” Castiel says patiently, “and I’m sorry, but could you wait for a while? We could finish up the class and I’d have… time for you, then.”

“I need to know if I can throw a party on this beach,” Dean says quickly, “but if it’s something that’s out of the question, you can tell me right now and I’ll be out of your hair.”

Castiel frowns again, letting his gaze wander around the snorkel-people. “What kind of a party?”

“A wedding. Twenty, thirty people tops. Food from local restaurants. Drinks from wherever. We’re a clean bunch, you won’t even notice we’re here.”

“Cas, you do like weddings,” Charlie says idly, “you’re all about love, right?”

“I’m all about cake,” Castiel says without missing a beat, “especially that made by Kali. She sells cakes by the avenue over there. I warmly recommend.”

Dean feels guilty that he didn’t let the guy finish his class first. The people are getting impatient now, and even though Charlie moves along to address the situation, the grumbling continues. Dean tries to shoot Castiel his best apologizing face, but he’s focused his gaze somewhere in into the horizon with his head slightly tilted. Something in the expression makes Dean open his mouth, even though he knows only lies are going to come out.

“I could see what I can do to get you into the guest list. Even more so if we’ll get a cake from the - the place you mentioned.”

“Hmm,” Castiel says absently. When he turns his stunning eyes back to Dean, there’s I’m onto your bullshit written all over his expression. “Wait for me at the booth. I’ll be there once I’m done calming our customers down.”

Dean nods, surprised by the abrupt ending to their conversation until he realizes that it had been Castiel’s plan in the first place — he’d just been too kind to keep Dean from talking. Dean watches Castiel walk back to the group and talking to them in a low voice, as if he’s calming down wild animals. Dean can’t decide if he feels it’s condescending or endearing. He also feels definite tremors running through him knowing this is not the last time he’ll meet Castiel.

Truthfully, it’s not his place to add to the guest list he was fully aware of it while low-key inviting Castiel anyway. Still, if he helps Sam and Jess find the perfect location, they’ll  probably be all pro-Castiel-in-their-wedding, right? Then Dean would have eye candy to ogle at and all of this is already seeming hell of a lot more interesting than before.

He feels jittery just thinking about it, so he does some quick breathing exercises before meeting Bela as she exits one of the restaurants.

“How’s business?” he asks, only feebly noticing the faked normality in his voice.

“Nothing yet. Our group is small enough that it wouldn’t make sense for a restaurant to close to make it exclusive; business is currently booming as the main season of the year is coming up. On the other hand, all of them are willing to take our group in if it meant they can also serve tourists and locals. It would require some table and service arrangements, so we should inform the restaurant of choice beforehand, but… Let’s ask Sam and Jess before thinking too much into it.”

Bela groans at the sun as a finale to his rambling and lights up a cigarette. If Dean remembers correctly, she only does that while on vacation or under a lot of stress, and this might count as both.

“So how about you? Did you do better?”

Dean thinks about doing the dishes, because that’s the first random thing that comes to his mind, so he doesn’t blush and start blabbering.

“I might’ve accidentally hit the jackpot.”

“Is that so?”

“There’s a guy who is in charge of the beach, and he didn’t shoot me down.”

Bela throws Dean a condescending glance. “I’m sorry, darling, but I’m not keeping up. How does not getting shot down count as a jackpot?”

Dean opens his mouth only to close it again. Wow, he’s the worst with not sharing the most random intimate details about himself — which apparently includes possibly crushing on a total stranger.

“Ooh, so there’s more to this. Is he hot? I bet he’s hot and you already drooled a puddle at his feet.”

“No comment.”

“Glad you’re just as aloof as I remember you. Let’s hit up local bars tonight.”

“Tomorrow, yes. I need to reserve tonight for jetlag, the greedy bitch.”

Bela clicks her tongue, then throws her cigarette to the ground to stomp it out before throwing it in the trash. Dean vaguely gestures them towards the booth to wait for — for Castiel. Damn it, even his name has an impact.

Balthazar hasn’t moved an inch, but the chocolate ice cream bar has changed into one of those twisty-kind of popsicles.

“Hello!” he says, still as chipper, “Cassie got my message?”

“Shit!” Dean yelps, “I totally forgot. I’m - I’m sorry, Balthazar.”

He scoffs. “It’s okay. It’s a lie anyway. I’m not his only brother and we meet twice a year.”

“That sounds punctual,” Bela says, getting Balthazar’s attention turned towards her.

“Oh, hello there, beautiful. Didn’t even see you.”

“Don’t be gross, my dude,” Bela says, smiling wryly.

“Uh,” Dean says, “Balthazar, this is Bela. Bela, Balthazar.”

Balthazar shrugs. “Nice to meet you. You kind of remind me of Aphrodite.”

A snort of laughter comes from behind them and Dean’s stomach does a funny little flip that feels a lot like falling.

“Quite the statement,” Castiel says, as he walks to Balthazar and pats his shoulder. “Although, I can kind of see it.”

Balthazar rolls his eyes and starts fumbling with some of his brochures on the stall. Castiel’s eyes meet Dean’s and for a split second, it feels like a tidal wave crosses over him. He needs to break the eye contact, because it’s too overwhelming.

Before the silence can get uncomfortable, Balthazar talks again. “Anyway, what’s the occasion? Why are we here?”

“I’d like to make a suggestion,” Castiel says. “How would you like to join me on a boat trip? I’ve got a little sailboat that seats four. It’s not comfortable for long traveling, but we could go around a bit and pass a couple of smaller islands. I’m pretty sure you could find your perfect location for the wedding.”

Dean glances over at Bela who’s looking back and forth between him and Castiel, as if she’s trying to solve a mystery. “What do you think?” he asks.

“I don’t know,” she replies, “I think we need to call Sam and Jess again at this point.”

Castiel throws a confused glance at Dean, who realizes they’ve orbited closer to each other while talking.

“Sam’s my baby brother. He’s the one getting married. I’m the best man and Bela is the maid of honor.”

“Oh,” Castiel nods, “for some reason I assumed you were the one getting-”

“Oh, no,” Dean says a little too quickly, “nope. I ain’t got a relationship to begin with, let alone an upcoming marriage. Sorry, I probably should’ve made that clear.”

“It’s quite OK,” Castiel hums, and Dean wants to believe the little smile playing in his lips means he’s pleased to hear Dean’s single. Okay, wishful thinking. Clearing his throat, he focuses on watching Bela talk on the phone instead — watching being the key word here, since she stepped just outside his hearing range.

He really hopes Sam and Jess would just let them take this little cruise now. It’s not like they’re in charge of all activities happening on the island, but if they deemed a trip like this unnecessary, Dean would have no reason to hang out with Castiel any longer.

After some very effective hand gestures of explanation and then frustration, Bela returns.

“Alright, uh. Let’s see. They’re generally super-pro for this idea, but Jess is currently having a bridal wardrobe-related crisis. So, her maid of honor is needed elsewhere,” she explains, looking genuinely sorry to turn down Castiel’s offer, “but they made quite a worrisome proposal, instead.”

“Let me guess,” Dean says, “they’re willing to rent a boat and pretend to be sailors. That wouldn’t be unlike Sam.”

“Not quite. Instead, they asked if you would still be up to the trip. They’d appreciate the help, the knowledge and the pictures, and apparently are willing to sacrifice the best man at the hands of a stranger.”

“That sounds like them, yeah,” Dean says idly, all his senses screaming in horror and excitement.

“I could ask if Charlie wants to be the fourth person to join us. As much as I would like to leave my burden of a brother on the shore, I know I’d never hear the end of it,” Castiel mutters. “Is this fine by you, Dean?”

He can only nod, and Bela’s Cheshire grin implies she knows exactly what Dean’s mind is going through right now.

*

As soon as they’re off shore, Dean needs to bite his lip so he won’t cry. It’s been ages since he last sailed the sea, but that’s not the reason he’s emotional — suddenly, he’s surrounded and carried by the Mediterranean, the turquoise waters and the waves that only look small from the shore. Balthazar and Charlie are chatting happily, and when Castiel’s not busy distracting Dean with the blueness of his eyes, he’s doing his magic with the sail; Dean’s completely drooling over his effortless rope skills, and the strong muscles that work beneath his golden tan skin when he pulls, or tugs, or flexes the sail. Dean’s glad he’s with strangers right now — anyone he even remotely knows would recognize his dreamy face and call him out on it. And it’s not solely physical, either, this interest Dean feels towards Castiel. He can’t wait to see these places with him, to hear him talk, to listen to his stories. He doesn’t know yet if he’s going to bring up his true motive to be in Mykonos — he hopes to, but he doesn’t want to sound like a tourist.

He is a tourist, though. He’d best remember that, or he’s going to end up sounding like the most pretentious douche in the world.

The first location they’re visiting is not too far off. It’s attached to the main island, towards the south and then back up around the narrow peninsula of Agios Ioannis. It’s a public beach, much like the one they left from, and Dean assumes the inland route can’t be more than a mile — or a kilometer, as they do it here.

“Alright,” Castiel hums, obviously pleased to be at sea and hey, who isn’t, “this is Ornos beach. A lot like the previous one, but the house lights really give the view an extra touch at night. See how they’re on both sides like this?”

Dean looks around, but frankly, he’s over the moon about pretty much anything at this point. The beach looks nice from the sea, and he can make out a small restaurant in the middle of it; there’s a nice covered terrace in front of it with warm-hued lanterns hanging from a thatched roof.

“Are you going to have an exclusive party?” Charlie asks. She’s currently in a thumb war with Balthazar over a lollipop you can whistle with.

“Oh, heavens no. We want a small, discreet wedding surrounded by these — by these stunning views. Ideally, it would be in a place we distract locals the least.”

“Well, I’m glad this is the only public beach I have in mind, then,” Castiel smiles, and Dean’s stomach does that dropping-feeling thing again, “onwards and upwards.”

They keep on sailing, Castiel gliding them forward and Balthazar and Charlie bantering like siblings. When the sail is set and Castiel is pleased enough, he takes a seat next to Dean. His warmth and the way he smells of clean air and the ocean and something sweet has Dean overwhelmed enough to wish he had a drink in hand right now. When he was younger, he used to bury all his feelings behind gin and vodka, but recently it made him sick more often than not. It doesn’t mean he won’t drink tomorrow when they’d go out with Bela — just a tad less, and in longer intervals.

“Hello, Dean,” Castiel says, “how’s the sail?”

Dean can feel Castiel’s eyes on him and without much thought to how it affects him, he meets the gaze. Immediately, his mouth feels dry and an almost silent squeak exits his throat.

“You’re stunning,” he says quietly, and when Castiel squints just a little, Dean registers what he said. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit — no, that’s not what he was about to say, fuck it, and they literally just had a conversation about unsolicited remarks. Fuck, he needs to save his ass right now, and he’s blessed enough to notice that Charlie and Balthazar aren’t listening in to their conversation at the moment, focusing on sea birds instead. “Uh, no. No, that’s not what I tried to say. I was trying to point out that you’re good at this — at this sailing thing, and that the views are stunning. You know, sometimes stuff just messes up in your head. You know that, right?”

Dean is pushing the case way too far, but Castiel just hums and looks towards the sky. “Thank you. I have been sailing for a long time, so it would suck if I still came off as a bad sailor.”

“You definitely don’t. I work with boats and I’ve seen professionals worse than you.”

“You work with boats? What, like build them?”

“Oh, no,” Dean says and works his jaw while he thinks of what to say next without sounding like he’s bragging, “I, uh, I design and execute SMS’s.”

“Short Message Services?” Castiel asks, giving Dean a side-eye, his head still tilted up. Dean pointedly keeps his focus on Castiel’s eyes so he won’t mentally caress his jaw and neck. In hindsight, the eyes are also distracting as hell and a small sinful part of Dean wants to see how they look like in a whole different situation from this.

“No — no,” he says then, vaguely wondering why Castiel doesn’t know about SMS’s even though he’s in touch with boats quite a lot, “Safety Management Systems.”

“I’m kidding. I knew that. Okay, so, vessel safety,” Castiel says and wraps his long, beautiful fingers around his knees and flexes his neck a little, “what’s the story?”

“What story?”

“It’s oddly specific of you to be in the vessel safety field of expertise. There must be a story there. Did someone you know own a company? Did your engineer teachers say you’d make a fortune with boats?”

“Whoa, there,” Dean chuckles, “yes, there’s a story, but it’s hardly been an hour since I met you, Cas. Give me a bit of privacy first.”

“Oh,” Castiel says flatly, and there’s a definite blush creeping up his cheeks, “I’m sorry. I was — I was just intrigued.”

It’s not the first time Dean briefly wonders if Castiel’s feeling this strange pull towards him as well, but if he does, he’s hiding it way better. Before Dean’s thoughts can be fully occupied by the possibility and the dread of it, Castiel gets up.

“Okay, it’s time for location number two — the Scorpios cliffs. Not much cliffs though, just rocks, but if you’re looking for something more remote and genuine, this is one option.”

Dean turns his head to where they’re going and sees a long strip of land reach out towards the sea. Just rocks seems about right — but since it looks like a natural aisle, it could be perfect for a wedding. The strip is wide enough for their small group to fit comfortably, and if they could bring in snacks, they wouldn’t even need catering. It’s austere, but beautiful in a very Mykonos way. Besides, there’s sea all around, which would sell it for Dean in a heartbeat.

“It’s beautiful here,” Dean says, only now remembering that he needed to take pictures and he snaps a couple with his camera immediately. “It’s where I’d want to get married.”

“Cassie, you need to remember that,” Balthazar says under his breath. Castiel smacks Balthazar in the back of his head, but says nothing about the comment. A warmth starts coiling in Dean’s stomach — it’s the kind of comment he could hear Sam saying based on how Dean’s acting right now. So maybe this is not Castiel’s normal behavior.

He really tries not to feel like a self-righteous asshole here, but also, he’s sleep-deprived, in love with the sea, and never seen anyone as attractive as Castiel in his life. If there’s even the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell that Castiel might seem interested in him, he’d act on it.

But not before. He’s not a fucking monster.

After a moment of circling around the rocks so Dean can get more pictures, Castiel changes course again. The wind is rising, but it’s nothing he can’t handle — he trudges on expertly, whistling while he does. Again, as soon as he’s secured the ropes, he sits next to Dean.

“Fancy seeing you here,” Dean says, trying to make light of the situation to ease his suddenly storming thoughts, “what’s next?”

“I’m saving the best for last, but first, I must ask you. How much do you know of Greek mythology?”

Dean wants to answer with almost everything or something as plain, but for some reason, the words gets stuck in his throat. He’s all up for a lecture by Castiel if that’s what’s coming, if only to listen to his voice.

“I… Am somewhat fluent in it, I’d say,” he ends up saying. Castiel freaking smirks and nods.

“Great. Then you won’t be surprised when I mention the Temple of Hercules.”

“The- The what?”

“Dude, the Temple of Hercules. Don’t say you haven’t heard of Hercules,” Balthazar says with pure mirth in his voice.

“No, yes, no, of course I have. I’m just… Wow. That sounds like… Like way more than was prepared for.”

“It’s the longest we’ve sailed today, but it should be nice out there,” Castiel says, gazing into the horizon, “hope you’ve got enough sunscreen on, though.”

“I swear I don’t,” he mutters, looking at his skin that’s used to the Montana sun, “I’m going to be in so much pain.”

“No, you won’t,” Charlie grins. “I mean, look at my skin. I’m the color of a template human before putting any color on. White as paper. That’s why I need to carry sunscreen on me at all times.”

She digs up a SPF 50+ screen from her bag and tosses it to Dean, who accepts gratefully. He tries to keep his awkward application to a minimum while still covering the most important parts — arms, shoulders, neck, and face — and returns the bottle after. Castiel looks like he wants to say something, but as soon as Balthazar breaks the silence with a faked cough, the moment is over.

“Okay, as I was saying,” he starts instead, “We’re going to see the Temple of Hercules. I’ll spare you the history lesson since all of that is available in books, but if you want I can let you in on a secret.”

“I do like secrets,” Dean muses, biting his lower lip since all his brain supplies him with are secret kisses behind temple ruin pillars. Shit, he needs to vent all of this out. He immediately sends a text to Bela, because she’s obligated to listen during their organizing. Maybe then he’ll feel like less of a 15-year-old with his first crush. It’s all so raw and pure he can’t understand where it’s even coming from.

*

The Temple is, quite obviously, perfect. Like Dean stated out loud, it’s far more than he expected to be seeing today, and no number of pictures taken with his phone are enough to captivate the aura of history surrounding them as they stand next to the pillars. It’s humbling, really — even though Charlie and Balthazar both probably have been here before, they stay completely silent, unless they’re asking questions of Castiel. Castiel does answer a few but more often he gives them hints to where to look for the information. There’s apparently a bookstore in town, and buying books from there would benefit the local family running it immensely. Dean makes a mental note to check that out as soon as possible — it wouldn’t matter that most of the books would be in Greek and he knew essentially none of the language. He needs to learn, though, and the feeling only gets stronger when he hears Castiel talk with a couple of locals spending a day sunbathing on the cliffs.

They also wander through the House of Masks and make their way to Ancient Theater of Delos, where they sit at the benches and Balthazar feels generous enough to share a bag of candy with them. They’re hard, like small jawbreakers, and Dean rolls one on his tongue with complete focus until Castiel clears his throat.

“This could be a place for the wedding,” he says, gesturing towards the theater stage, “of course, this is a public place and you would have to share the space with a couple of people and possibly a thousand cameras, but if that doesn’t bother you, it doesn’t get much more authentic than this.”

“It really doesn’t,” Dean says, his voice obviously shaking from the power of the stage and the thought of his brother getting married here, “I… I don’t know. I need to talk to them. Like I said before, we don’t want to make it exclusive in the sense of shutting a place down so we could claim it as our own. It wouldn’t feel right anywhere, let alone here. This is an important, or rather, a sacred place to many.”

“I agree,” Castiel says, “me, of course, being one of them.”

The silence that falls is so sudden and so filled with anticipation that Castiel looks around before frowning.

“What does that mean?” Dean asks quietly.

Balthazar hums. “Yes, Castiel. What does that mean?”

“I don’t… I wasn’t planning to…”

He looks at Dean, who hopes his expression will tell him how he feels — accepting of whatever he chooses to share, or not to share. He really wants to hear this, but he doesn’t want to push before Castiel’s ready.

“I was never much of a people person,” he starts eventually, “and I used to be really into archeology. Of course, I still am, but now I can also handle people to an extent; I can teach water classes of different kinds and hang out with my rare friends even if I wouldn’t actually have to. But before, it was much lonelier. Those first summers I spent here before moving in, I used to sail here in secret and walk among the ruins and the archaeological sites, finding small items and leaving them for the — for Poseidon.”

Dean bites his lip. Balthazar sighs heavily. Charlie leans forward until his legs are tucked against her and she leans her jaw to his knee.

“Oddly, it made me feel less lonely. Delos is a place that welcomes all worshippers of all gods, regardless of religion. I thought it had a place for me, as well.”

A silence stretches out again. This time, it’s melancholic, almost sad.

“When I was younger, but still shamefully old, I pretended Poseidon was my dad,” Charlie admits, “The Percy Jackson thing got in me real good.”

“Sounds like daddy issues to me,” Balthazar says, “both of you, that is.”

Castiel and Balthazar exchange slow gazes that speak volumes of a past that hasn’t been smooth sailing. Then, Castiel huffs out a laugh.

“Okay, that’s enough sob stories. I would love to roleplay Percy with you though, Charlie.”

“I rarely play it anymore,” Charlie admits, “But then again, I have never been this close to an authentic setting.”

“It’s set in the States,” Dean mutters. “We need a better rewrite of it. One that’s more… Accurate.”

“I’ll leave you to it then, Shakespeare,” Charlie laughs. She watches Castiel jump to his feet and stretch his limbs, and then she steals the whole bag of Balthazar’s candies before sprinting into a run.

“You kids have fun here,” Castiel yelps, “I’m going to steal Dean for a while.”

“Really? Really?” Balthazar says. “You’re going to take him to-”

“Yes, I am. Do you have a problem with it?”

“Oh, of course not. Should we take the boat then?”

“Won’t be gone for long. See you then.”

“What’s going on?” Dean asks. “I’m sorry, if this is the moment you’re introducing me to a pyramid scheme, I gotta tell you, man, I’m not interested.”

Castiel tilts his head, but there’s a smile playing across his features. It’s almost… Almost like Dean feels again.

“Let’s take a quick sail to a place I really like,” he says then. “It’s not wedding place material, but it might inspire you with decorations or something. You have to leave your phone, though.”

Dean nods and gives the phone to Balthazar, who smirks and rolls his eyes.

“That’s real smooth, Cassie,” Balthazar says, “you’re lucky I’ve got a candy bag to catch.”

 

Dean lets Castiel guide him past an archaeological site, past Cleopatra’s eerie house with the headless statues, and finally towards the sea again. Before they actually reach it, there’s an opening between the cliffs; it looks like it’s only a couple of feet in before it ends, but as they walk towards it, it takes a sharp turn left and a steep direction downwards.

“Buried alive, then,” Dean whispers, only slightly hysterical to share a confined space with Castiel, “that’s always a nice option to end your days.”

“This isn’t how you die, Dean,” Castiel says with patience in his voice, even though he must’ve realized by now he’s with a complete fool.

“Where are we going?”

“You’ll see.”

Suddenly, it’s absolutely dark — no light makes it through the heavy stones behind, over, under and across them, and it should make Dean feel anxious, like in the plane, but instead it’s calming. There’s a special kind of peace here; if he dies now, there’s nothing he can do about it. He’ll be here, buried with a beautiful guy who probably has perfect bones under all of that other perfect-ness as well. They travel in silence and their footsteps echo in the narrow hallway, and after a while there’s the sound of water as well.

At some point, it becomes obvious to Dean that they’re about to enter an underground cave, but nothing prepares him for what he sees when they get there. He’s not unfamiliar to the concept of the sea coming into these caves, of stalagmites and stalactites that form in these places. The water has, over centuries, morphed the walls absolutely smooth and colored the almost-white base of them into different shades of green and brown, almost perfectly gradient in hues. Some water-based plants climb from the pool under them, and the drop from where they’re standing is impressive.

Some sunlight gets in the cave from cracks that are too small for humans to pass through, and across them, another cave will probably lead back to the open sea.

Dean turns to face Castiel, and on a whim, puts both of his hands on his shoulders. Wow, the muscles are even more impressive to touch than they are to look at. Castiel just looks straight at him, as if he’s reading what’s written in his very core, and there’s a fire in his eyes.

“Castiel, this is important,” Dean whispers, and it echoes through the walls where the light is playing in ripples after reflecting from the surface of the water, “answer me this.”

“Yes, Dean?” he speaks just as quietly, and it’s like they’re having a secret sleepover party and they’re now both fifteen.

“Can I jump? Please tell me I can jump.”

Castiel looks down and squints as if he’s fucking estimating whether a human can survive this jump.

“You can swim, right?”

Dean laughs. He can’t keep it exactly quiet and it sounds weird in the cave for a moment.

“Of course I can. I wouldn’t want to jump if I couldn’t.”

Castiel shrugs and pats Dean’s hand where it’s still resting on his shoulder. “Then by all means, yes. You can jump, Dean.”

Dean lets out a triumphant cry and turns back around to face the water. It’s damn scary, and overwhelming, and he jumps.

For a second, he’s flying. The next second, everything is black, and then it’s all bubbles and cold, and his clothes are weighing him down. Another splash comes from somewhere, and Dean guesses Castiel jumped after him. He didn’t do that because he thinks Dean is drowning, right? He just wanted to jump too, right? He stays still until he can feel his toes turning colder than anything else — and that’s how he knows he’s still the right way up and needs to start swimming right the fuck now or he’ll end up drowning after all.

He surfaces with a gasp, and the water feels like it’s swirling, almost dancing around him. He laughs out loud and watches Castiel find his way up as well. Dean’s kind of glad he can’t see all of him right now — the way Castiel’s clothes probably cling to his skin right now would possibly make him come in his pants.

What an odd thought to have in an underwater cave. He’s almost sorry to ruin the sacredness of the place. To distract himself, he does the exact opposite of what he should, and swims to Castiel, stopping bare inches from his face. Adrenaline is pumping in his veins and it only accelerates when he sees Castiel’s eyes drop to his lips — oh fuck, is he really thinking what Dean’s thinking? — and then they’re impossibly even closer, sharing each other’s breath —

A whistle comes from somewhere, and the moment is broken. Castiel pushes himself back a little, blinking in what seems like complete confusion over what was just about to happen, and clears his throat before speaking.

“That must be Balthazar, then,” he says, “they’re on the boat just outside, waiting for us.”

“Is that — is that a specific type of whistle,” Dean asks, his voice is hoarse and he really wants to ease the situation right about now. “The type of whistle that says ‘I’ve got the boat outside, come here’.”

“Yes, that’s it. It’s simplified Morse code we’ve established to better function… As brothers, I guess,” Castiel says, just as eager to cling onto the idle chatter as they start swimming towards the exit.

 

 

Chapter Text

Evan McHugh: Serenade the Moon

 

Dean meets Bela at a club at Paradise Beach the next night. Even though the island is small, it’s still five miles from their hotel, and it’s too uncomfortable to walk in thirty-one degrees Celsius. With barely any eye-rolling or hair-flipping Sam agrees to be their designated driver; after all, it means they can also visit the Scorpios strip with Jess.

Dean and Bela share a couple of cocktails in their hotel lobby, which means they’re already in the giggly phase of drunkenness when they occupy the back seat of Sam’s crappy Ford. They’re reading information about the bar online and decide to try at least ninety percent of their cocktails and drinks. Dean can hear the judgment in Sam’s tone when he talks, but at least he wants them to have a good time. Jess reminds Bela that hairdressing duties will be scouted at noon tomorrow; as good a deadline for their partying as any.

The club is big, loud, bright, and already full of people. When Bela’s immediately pulled in for some dirty dancing, Dean concentrates on the architecture instead of focusing on what kind of people occupy the place. He lets his eyes roam over the open structure ceiling with criss-crossed scaffolding,  admires the walls that look like they’re made from ancient ruins, and slowly makes his way to the grand pool in the middle. It’s all really extravagant, and a bit too much, so he orders a couple of shots while he waits for Bela to find him again.

It’s not too long before his phone dings with a message, and Dean opens it up to a picture of Bela with a widely-smiling woman standing outside the club. They passed those specific cabanas when they came in, so it’s not too much trouble to make his way to them.

“Hey, Dean!” Bela beams and pulls him in for a hug. She needs to yell, because the music from inside is still overwhelming. “Do you want to keep on going? Damaris told me she knows a couple of places we could go see to get a more authentic experience of the island.”

“Sounds alright to me,” Dean replies and turns to the woman who’s still smiling just as wide as in the picture, and also seems unburdened by the fact she’s topless, “you must be Damaris, then?”

“Yes,” she says and they shake hands, “I’m one of the DJ’s in here, but I just finished my shift.”

“Which explains the attire,” Bela adds, “they’ve got topless DJ’s and my dear lord have mercy I might need to move here and never wear shirts again.”

“Yeah. Too bad I need to at least pretend I wear stuff outside the club,” Damaris says and throws a denim vest over her shoulders, not bothering to close it since it only barely hides what’s necessary anyway.

“Nice to meet you, Damaris,” Dean says as they slowly start walking away from the crowds. “Bela, how come you made a friend already?”

“She was getting a drink, I asked for a recommendation, we started talking about why I’m here and who I’m with.”

“It came up you’re here for more than just leisure,” Damaris says quietly, as if she’s a tiny bit ashamed by the fact that she knows this. Why, though? It’s not like weddings in Mykonos are a rare thing.

“Yeah, Dean… I told her about the god thing.”

Dean scoff comes out almost too mocking. “I didn’t know you even knew about the god thing.”

“Jess told me this morning, but only because I blackmailed her. She didn’t tell me the story behind your interest, though. Just that you’re obsessed and have collected information for two freaking decades. Impressive.”

“I shouldn’t be surprised Jess knows about it. Those two are physically incapable of keeping secrets from each other.”

“I think it’s nice,” Damaris rushes to say, “that you’re interested in the lore. There might be some people who disagree for fear of you being here to exploit our culture, but gaining knowledge doesn’t -- and shouldn’t -- equal to exploitation. From what I understand you’ve done a lot of work, and all of that in respect to our country and this island. Compared to some tourists we see across here, that’s really welcome.”

“Yeah, I gathered some people take advantage when it comes to public property,” Dean says, “I’m sorry you have to work in a place like that.”

“Nah, I like it, most of the time. I get to hear stories from all over the world, from places I don’t have the money to visit yet but definitely will. I get to yell at people for acting shitty. And, best of all -- I get to scare them with family stories that never make it to the public.”

Bela looks at Dean knowingly, and he rolls his eyes. Still, his heart is jumping a little faster just hearing what Damaris just said.

“So, my idea is that we’ll go to a quieter location to have a couple of nice drinks and I’ll share some with you. Would that be nice?”

“That would be nicer than you have to treat a stranger, to be honest,” Dean hums, “but I’d be a fool to turn you down.”

 

They walk for a while, until they reach a nice beach and take seats at a table outside a quaint bar-restaurant. It looks overwhelmingly beautiful in here; straw lanterns light the place with a dim gold glow to protect them against the blue-black darkness of the night. The waves of the sea can be heard from here, and Dean tries to fight the urge to run out to admire it up close. Damaris orders them something that Dean doesn’t understand, and he vaguely wonders whether not knowing Greek will end up killing him eventually. It would be nice to know what you’re eating, but he decides he trusts Damaris already.

While they’re snacking, they drink local cocktails -- mostly a thing called Greek Collins, because that’s the shit -- and slowly, Damaris starts circling the topic of gods again.

“So, in case you’re wondering what I mean by family stories, I’m going to start with the most extravagant one. For ages, people in my extended family were  rumored to be direct descendants of none other than Pan. We’re the kind of people not to take it too seriously, but whenever one of us is really good at herding, or music, or anything related to Pan, we start believing it a little bit more. You don’t have to tell me it’s pointless, though, I know it’s a fairytale,” she says with a wave of her hand, apparently due to an expression Dean didn’t know was on his face, “the descendants, I mean. About the gods, who knows? I don’t think it’s up to me to decide whether they’re real or not.”

“I’ve always thought the same, really,” Dean admits, “Although recently, I’ve come to think that they have to exist, or all my research has been for nothing.”

Damaris tilts her head. “Why do you want to find gods?”

“It’s a lame sob story that I don’t want to bore you with right now, but I can say it’s got to do with a supernatural experience as a child. After that, I wanted to know what exactly happened to me, and even though it could be anything, most of my research brings me to -- well, to sea gods or nymphs. Not the Poseidon-level stuff, but something more common.”

“Ah, you drowned, then?” Damaris says and sips her drink. Dean feels he’s choking on his own.

“Uh… No point in denying this anymore, right?”

“This is nothing I haven’t heard before. Not that tourists actually come around here all that much to find who saved them after they were proclaimed dead. I’ve heard stories, sure. I… That narrows it down quite a bit. Let’s see if I have something I could share with you that could be useful.”

While Damaris goes through her phone as if she’s got all her family stories stacked in there, Dean eases into his chair. This is a good thing. He can’t exactly tell if it’s going to be of use yet, but one of the things he wanted to do was to talk with locals, and getting included like this feels awesome.  He would’ve talked to bookstore clerks or hotel staff if necessary, but Damaris seems willing to help and help is what he needs. All in all, it’s a big win tonight.

That is, until Bela kicks him under the table and nods towards somewhere behind Dean. Even though there’s not all that much that Bela could be gesturing towards, Dean’s still not prepared for when he turns around and sees Castiel sitting at a coffee table, leaning forward and smiling this most incredibly stunning,  toothy smile that scrunches his nose and the corners of his eyes. He’s facing a group of people, who sit on the couch. Just like him, Castiel’s also out with friends, drinking, having a good time.

Dean’s throat feels tight and he turns his head quickly. Bela admires the prominent blush on his cheeks for a while before turning towards Damaris.

“Are you finding anything?”

“Oh, I’m just checking my Insta while I think,” she replies with a grin, “there’s pictures of me from tonight. Damn, my titties look good.”

“That’s not going to be up for long, though,” Bela huffs after leaning towards Damaris to look at the picture, “damn the female nipple policy.”

“What can you do. These are lethal weapons that make any environment significantly less safe,” Damaris hums and pulls the vest until she can close a couple of buttons.

Dean’s neck feels itchy as if someone’s watching him, but he doesn’t want to check it out right now. He’s not mentally prepared to lock eyes with Castiel, much less talk with him in this slightly drunk state that he’s in.

“Anyway, hmm. My great-great-grandfather was a fisherman, and from what I’ve heard, he was protected by one of the Old Men of the sea, you know, Glaucus?”

“He was commonly known as a god that shielded sailors and fishermen, right?”

“Yes, exactly. And apparently some of the times he returned from his trips, he told these stories of meeting Glaucus and drinking tea with him. Sometimes, his stories were so unbelievable his family thought that a simple-minded guy like him couldn’t come up with them himself, and that’s why they started to believe in these encounters somewhat. Then the man died in a storm, and that was a bit of a bummer, all things considered. His family started loathing Glaucus instead, which is never a good thing to do -- especially when they also turned their backs on Poseidon. That’s what ended up getting them killed, I’ve been told. One night, a flood came and rose higher than ever before, and suddenly, their house was gone.  Only one of them survived in the year after that: my great-grandfather.”

“Wow,” Dean sighs, “that’s one hell of a story.”

“Take it with a grain of salt. I always do,” Damaris says with a wink. “There’s more stories, but first, I want to go get us another round of drinks.”

As she leaves, Bela is immediately up in Dean’s business.

“Why aren’t you going to say hi to him?”

“I don’t… Does he even remember me?”

She rolls her eyes. “Seriously? You went on a fucking almost-kissery cruise yesterday and you think he doesn’t remember you?”

“Maybe he does that with everyone,” Dean mutters. “Besides, what would I say? Hi, we met yesterday? He’s with his people in there, I don’t think I can just chime in on their party.”

Bela shrugs. “If you don’t go I will, so help me sailor-saving old man Glaucus.”

“Why? What’s in it for you?”

“Look, honey, as much as I like to see you squirm while you try to get a grip on your fragile masculinity, I bet he’ll have an even better time watching you squirm under him.”

“God!” Dean yelps. “Shut your hole!”

“My hole’s perfectly fine, thank you,” Bela continues, looking at her fingernails for good measure, “it’s yours that’s all clogged.”

“I swear we’re not friends. I swear you’re my mortal enemy from now on.”

“What’s this about enemies?” Damaris asks, dropping a tray pretty much full of different-colored drinks and shots between them.

“He’s too pusillanimous for his own good, that’s what’s up,” Bela scoffs. For some reason, Damaris looks around as if she’s already onto the reason for their fight. All chances of Dean getting out of this quietly are thrown in the wind when she yelps happily and starts running towards Castiel and his group.

“Oh look, there she goes,” Bela says idly, “kind of like you should be going, but you never will because you’re-”

“What was it, pusillanimous? Trust me, I’d rather be that than force myself on Castiel.”

“That’s cowardice cloaked as politeness, if you ask me,” she sighs. “Oh look, now she’s waving at us to join her.”

Bela gets up, takes the tray in her hands and gives Dean a meaningful look before moving. Dean pushes himself to his feet and reluctantly drags them across the restaurant, until he’s standing next to Bela in front of a large, white, undoubtedly very soft sectional couch.

“I can’t believe you’re here!” Damaris yells, hugging one of the women and then one of the men in the group, “I’ve been meaning to call you and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long, but…”

She changes into fluent Greek after that and Dean raises his eyebrows as he’s suddenly thrown out of the conversation. He doesn’t even feel bad about it -- he’s too busy feeling Castiel’s intense eyes on him. He still can’t meet them.

“I’m sorry,” Damaris says suddenly, “these lovely people I just met don’t speak Greek, so let’s stick to English for now. These are Bela and Dean, my crew for tonight. I found them over at Paradise Beach Club and we’ve been drinking together ever since.”

“It’s hardly been two hours, though,” Bela adds and everyone laughs, “that being said, I think I’m gonna steal your girl here. She seems too awesome to not have as a friend.”

“Hard agree from me,” Dean mutters. Damaris looks up to see what’s causing his sudden change in mood, but mistakes it for not having had enough to drink. She gestures towards Bela’s tray, and Dean takes one of the drinks without investigating it too much.

“Hello, Dean,” Castiel says, finally opening his mouth, “nice to see you again.”

“You’ve met?” The guy still holding Damaris’ hand asks. His English accent is intriguing and Dean’s ashamed that he doesn’t even know how to greet people in Greek. He remembers Sam practicing it, but it’s hardly any consolation now.

“Yes, we…” Castiel seems to consider what to say, and Dean’s gaze finally meets his and oh, yeah, whatever sparks there were yesterday have multiplied. After a beat Castiel smiles again, and Dean wants to trace it with his lips. “We met at the Ioannis Beach yesterday.”

“I was there too,” Bela says under her breath, basically just to taunt Dean a bit, “in case you forgot.”

“No, I -- No, of course I didn’t. Nice to see you again too, Bela.”

“These are my friends, Antheia and Petros,” Damaris says, and the people in question wave at them, “I’ve been meaning to visit you after you had the baby, but it’s honestly been so hectic. Not that that’s an excuse or anything, but-”

“It’s all okay,” Antheia says, “we’re living in a mess, the baby cries all the time, currently, it’s not beautiful. Maybe it’s better for you to have this rosy image of us as new parents until we get it under control.”

Castiel smiles. “I’ve been to your place. The baby is healthy and quite beautiful, and the house looks like a home. That’s what’s most important.”

“That sounded like a backhanded compliment, but sure,” Petros laughs.

“I don’t know if you’ve met Damaris before,” Castiel says, now addressing the other people in their group. Damaris, these are Kora, Felix, Kali, Meg, and Melina.”

“Nice to meet you all,” Damaris says with a smile that seems genuine.

“That’s Kali from the cake shop, though?” Dean asks despite himself. As Kali turns her gaze to him, there’s a frightening second during which Dean thinks he’s about to vanish into thin air.

“That’s Kali from the cake shop, alright,” she says, “I see my reputation precedes me.”

“I told Dean you have the best cake in the world, and he’s got a wedding to arrange, so,” Castiel says thoughtfully, “you could invite him for a taste-test.”

“Doesn’t sound all that much like me,” Kali says, but bursts into laughter right after. “Of course I will. Come to my shop between nine and four on any weekday, and I’ll be there to give you a tour of my greatest hits.”

“Thank you,” Dean says. Damaris has started talking in Greek again, this time probably arguing about the cleanliness of Antheia and Petros’ house. Dean looks over at Castiel once more, trying to ignore how nice his forearms look as he’s leaning them on both of his sides against the coffee table.

“I feel like partying again,” Bela sighs, “You don’t happen to be going to a party?”

“Actually, yes,” a young woman with pleasant, kind eyes, says, “we were just about to leave. Do you want to join us?”

“Do we, Dean?” Bela asks with a grin that makes Dean want to kick her in the shin but just a bit.

“Yeah, sure. It’s not like we’re getting home anytime soon, because our designated driver is not with us.”

“Where are you staying?” Castiel asks. Bela laughs almost silently, obviously pleased at the question.

“At the Grand Hotel Resort in Ioannis,” she answers, “why? Want to spend the night?”

Dean is appalled enough to huff out a panic-sort of a laugh.

“No, uh, that’s not what I had in mind, actually,” he says then, and is that a blush creeping up his cheeks?, “I can arrange a ride for you, so your friends don’t have to come all the way here.”

“Eight kilometers is hardly all the way,” Bela mutters lowly enough that only Dean hears it, “what do you think?”

“I don’t mind,” Dean hears himself say. Even though all of the alarm bells are going off in his head, he’s too pleased to have met Castiel again to really deny him anything.

“The problem is that there’s way too many options,” Damaris says. “Do we want to go back to where we came from, or head towards Chora?”

“I want to see everything,” Bela says and looks at her watch, “and it’s only midnight. Do we want to travel to Mykonos City, Dean?”

“We can share a cab,” Castiel says nonchalantly, but there’s a hint of fire in his eyes when he looks at Dean, as if — as if he wants them to go out there, together, and occupy each other’s spaces again. It’s ridiculous, and beautiful, and it makes Dean feel admired.

 

The bar they enter is called VOID and it’s something Dean didn’t see coming. Compared to the places they’ve seen this far, this is very Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; sleek, glossy, mixing dark with light, and — just like everywhere else — very full of people. Someone from their group pushes a big phosphorescent flower behind Dean’s ear and another in a kind of a bracelet around his wrist. It’s clever, because during the first thirty seconds, Dean no longer sees anyone he knows.

It doesn’t take too long for him to find the bar, though. He’s still feeling buzzed so he keeps his alcohol intake to a minimum, deciding on a dry cider to nurse on for the next hour or so. He also drinks a pint of water that’s going to haunt his bladder later, but he’d prefer to get as little hangover as possible — there’s bound to be stuff to do tomorrow, seeing that it’s only three more days until the wedding.

He dances with a couple of people (some even from his group), but isn’t really in the mood for a bar anymore — as much as he likes spending time with people like this, he’s already longing for the quiet, content mood of the restaurant. He wants to hang out with Castiel in a place that’s quieter, and perhaps only includes the two of them, and-

Dean groans out loud to stop his train of thought. How much longer is he going to swoon over this guy without actually doing something? Bela’s right — it might end tomorrow, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy it now, right? He could just be frank, just honestly lay his cards on the table and let the chips fall where they may. Maybe if he gets this infatuation out of his system now, he doesn’t have to deal with it anymore and can focus on more important matters, such as research and the wedding.

It’s easier said than done, but Dean’s determined enough to take his cider and start wandering around the place in hopes of finding Castiel. There’s a glimpse of UV-flowers here and there, but it doesn’t make sense for Dean to start running after them before knowing who they’re attached to. He circles the lowest floor, hugging the railing between the seating and dancing areas. When the only familiar person he sees is one of the women he was introduced to earlier tonight — and he can’t even bring forth her name and can’t ask since her tongue is in someone’s throat — he decides to head upstairs next.

He almost bumps into Damaris on top of the staircase.

“Dean!” she yelps happily, already more drunk than she was before, “I was hoping to see you.”

“Here I am!” Dean yells back. The music from downstairs mixes with EDM from this floor and it will  cause a migraine in two minutes flat, so he gestures them to the edge of a bar. Damaris instantly orders them something cherry-based and laughs when Dean needs to chug down his previous cider to make way for the new one.

“Why’d you want to see me?”

“We’re meaning to go on a trip,” she starts slowly, “with some of the people in the group. And since none of us have a big enough boat, Petros thought about bribing Castiel as our designated sailor.”

“Oh, wow,” Dean says lowly, his breath already leaving his lungs.

“I introduced this idea to Bela, just to ask if she thinks Castiel is someone who would approve of an idea like this. She invited not only herself and you, but also your brother and his future wife, as long as we leave after the wedding.”

“I don’t… What do you want from me, then?”

“Do you want to travel across the Greek islands? I mean, it’s fine if you’d rather stay on Mykonos, but there’s a lot more out there. It could be helpful. You’re not leaving in another week, no?”

“No,” Dean nods. “I… It sounds like there’s too many variants in this plan right now. Of course, that sounds like a fucking dream come true, but I guess the most important thing is to talk to Castiel now?”

“I think Bela is doing that as we speak,” Damaris says and takes a sip of her drink before gesturing towards the dance floor, “or, apparently, there’s other ways that can be used to persuade him.”

Dean looks in the direction she indicates and sees Bela and Castiel around the middle of the floor, their foreheads pressed together as they obviously talk in a hushed tone. Dean doesn’t want to feel the angry wave of jealousy that comes over him,  and he doesn’t want it to change his whole posture. Damaris puts her hand on Dean’s shoulder.

“Wow there, stud. Calm your nerves. Your girl is safe, Castiel is-” She stops herself and groans, mostly at herself. “It’s not Bela you’re worried about, is it.”

“Well, right now it is,” Dean admits, “I’m…”

“You know what? In this mood, right now,” Damaris gestures to him, “I’m not letting you near Castiel. I don’t even know him that well but I do know he’s a good guy, and he’s helped many of the people I know. He doesn’t need your pointlessly dramatic American nonsense, not when he’s left that behind a long time ago and made himself a part of our community.”

“He used to live in the States, then?” Dean’s instantly distracted by the situation on the dance floor.

“Well, that’s his story to tell, not mine. As are some other things I wish I could tell you right now, to spare you from both the melodramatic jealousy and the inevitable heartbreak that’s headed your way.”

Dean frowns. “What’s that mean?”

Damaris rolls her eyes and pinches her nose with the hand that isn’t currently swinging the cherry cider around. “If I told you, it’d be against the statement I just made , for gods’ sakes.”

Dean looks back towards the floor. From here, he can make out Bela’s angry features and Castiel’s look of - is that embarrassment?

“I guess your anger has subsided, though,” Damaris hums, “so take your drink and get outta here.”

Dean nods and does as he’s told just in time for Damaris to get pulled into the crowd by a handsome-looking man.

 

It’s nice and chilly out.

Dean lets himself breathe deep and catch that whiff of sea air before he takes a seat on the curb of the sidewalk. He briefly wishes he shared the smoking habit Bela has, because it could ease his tension right now. Then again, he doesn’t know what’s put him on edge like this.

He ended up just coming outside instead of trying to push through the crowd. He doesn’t even know who he meant to talk to in the first place, probably nobody, and he doesn’t need for people to see the state he’s in right now.

Because his alcohol intake has slowed he’s already coming down from his peak drunkenness, and feeling the drag hard. He’s grumpy, he’s jealous, and for some reason, he’s worried. He wants to sleep this feeling off and start fresh tomorrow.

What had Damaris meant with what she said about Castiel? Why would anything Dean feels towards Castiel lead in heartbreak? Of course, if he was straight, or married, or straight and married… That would definitely be unfortunate, but not at all unexpected — Dean would feel hurt as all hell for a moment, but get over it; some people just aren’t into him or available for dating.

Dating

Dean grunts. Dating is what he has in mind, seriously? What’s he planning to do, date a guy for a week and a half and run back home?

That thought aside, Castiel being uninterested would not break Dean’s heart at this point. What would, though, is knowing Castiel’s into him as well and unable to act upon it.

“You sure think loud,” a warm, dark voice comes from behind him, making him jump.

“What?” Dean squeaks. His voice sounds like a squirrel fart in comparison. Castiel comes to stand next to him, looking into the street.

“You think loud. Your whole posture is… Whatever you’re thinking about, it’s thrown you for a loop,” he says slowly, gently, “want to take a walk with me?”

“Where to?”

“There’s a strip of sand by the sea just a bit further north. We could pass the Aegean Maritime Museum on our way, so you’d know where it’s at in case that interests you later on.”

Dean bends his legs and pushes himself back up. Castiel’s gaze is sweeping along his body and there’s genuine worry in his expression. Damn that guy, he’s way too good for a shithead with issues such as Dean.

“You don’t even know me,” Dean says, and okay, maybe that’s a thing he should’ve just thought about. Now he sounds dramatic.

“That’s… That’s right, I don’t,” Castiel replies, almost taken aback with embarrassment, “that’s one of the reasons I want to take a walk with you.”

Dean nods. “It’s not like I have anything else to do.”

Castiel smiles almost sadly and they slowly start strolling along the street. Dean can sense that Castiel wants to ask something — probably regarding his statement just now — so he decides to offer the information without being prompted.

“You came out of the club, saw me and thought ‘oh, I should offer him a walk along the sea, he seems sort of lost right now’ . While I appreciate that, and I do, make no mistake… You don’t know me. You don’t owe me your kindness.”

When Castiel doesn’t reply, Dean looks at him. He’s pushed his hands into the pockets of his jeans and here, between the narrow corridors of Mykonos City, he looks just as home as on the sea. Dean briefly wishes he’d gained that kind of peace with himself.

Finally, Castiel scrunches his nose. “You’d do that for me, right?”

“What?”

Their eyes meet, and for a second, Castiel smiles knowingly. It’s as he’s perfectly aware of how his presence distracts Dean.

“If you saw me sitting outside alone, obviously contemplating important questions of life and death, you’d ask me to hang out with you, wouldn’t you?”

Dean scoffs. “Yeah, I would.”

He can feel Castiel lean a little bit closer. “I know you would, Dean. That’s why I did the same for you.”

“How did you figure that out in a day? As you very well remember, we met yesterday.”

“It feels odd, yeah,” he says, and they’re briefly distracted by Castiel pointing towards the Maritime museum before they turn left and keep on walking, “but doing what I do for a living, I meet hundreds, if not thousands, people in a year. I have to learn to navigate through them quickly enough so I can best cater to their needs when it comes to teaching. And I recognize good people when I see them.”

“Good is a bit of an overstatement, to be fair,” Dean says, “I’m as petty as they come.”

“Maybe good was not the word I aiming for, then,” Castiel hums, “but the word I have in mind instead sounds a bit too biblical for this context.”

“Shoot. No, let me guess. Is it almighty?”

Castiel snorts so hard he needs to press his fingers on his nose for a while. “Oh, shit. Didn’t see that coming. Should’ve seen, but didn’t see.”

Dean notices himself all but beaming at Castiel. He tries to ease up on the expression, but his muscles deny him any control of himself right now. “And I even made you curse. Didn’t know you do that.”

“Oh, I used to be quite a sailor a couple of years ago,” Castiel assures, still rubbing his nose before rolling his shoulders. Somehow, his whole exterior seems brighter now. “I was reprimanded by the Ar- by Anna, my sister, enough times to know better.”

“Ah, yeah. Balthazar said he’s not your only sibling.”

“There’s seven of us,” Castiel supplies instantly, but his voice gains a new sort of strain that Dean knows means let’s not talk about this.

“Oof, I’m sorry. There’s only me and Sammy in my family, and even he feels like too much at times.”

“I’d love to meet your brother.”

“And you will, if you’re… That’s right, did Bela talk to you about some vague wayfaring plan?”

“Well, she did mention they need a boat, so less wayfaring, maybe,” Castiel sighs, “and I don’t know. It sounds like all fun and games, but…”

“But you’d rather come along because you’re wanted, not because of owning a boat?”

Castiel ducks his head and in the dim lights of the street, it’s almost impossible to notice he’s blushing. Dean feels the urge to take his hand overwhelm him and he has to bite his tongue to regain focus.

“Fuck that,” he decides to say, then, “let’s go alone.”

Castiel blinks at him. “What?”

“You and me, after the wedding, let’s go travel the Greek islands,” Dean specifies, already feeling the embarrassment of his request running up his neck, “I’d be there because of you, not because of your boat. You could show me things.”

Castiel squints at Dean for a long while before tilting his head. “And you’d be fine with leaving your brother alone on the island?”

“I- Uh, no, but I’d do it anyway.”

They turn another corner and Dean can see the sea, in all its dark, almost menacing glory, between the white buildings colored yellow by the warm lights. Castiel smiles.

“I’m being dramatic, here,” he admits then, “I’ve got nothing against this trip even with all our friends aboard. I’ve got a sports yacht that comfortably can carry ten people along, and it makes sense to fill her up with people if we’re going.”

Dean tries to not take this personally — Castiel is right, of course it would be environmentally better to fill a boat to the brim. However, there’s a part of Dean that needs to hang out with Castiel alone.

“Besides,” Castiel ventures on when Dean keeps quiet, “like I said, I’d like to meet your brother and the trip, on their part, could be my wedding gift.”

“You don’t know these people. You don’t have to give them a wedding present.”

Castiel looks at Dean, and for a second, more than what’s said passes through them — there’s a sense of longing in Castiel’s features now, and it ties together with the way he said Dean’s name when they first met. It makes Dean feel valued in a sense he doesn’t yet fully understand, but he’s going to do whatever it takes to find out.

“It’s righteous,” Castiel says, almost a whisper now, “righteous was the word I was thinking about. Not good, or almighty.”

“You’re right,” Dean huffs out a laugh, because suddenly it feels like his stomach and chest are on fire, “that sounds mighty biblical.”

The buildings end here,and suddenly they’re at the aforementioned strip of sand. There’s a drop from the road to the shore, and Dean takes the seat on the edge. Castiel follows the example with a frown; it looks like he’s concentrating really hard on something Dean can’t see in the slowly rolling waves.

“Why’d you come here, Dean?”

“You invited me for a walk,” he deadpans. Castiel scoffs.

“Bela told me it’s very important for you to see other islands as well. She made it known there’s a story there.”

“Ah, no,” Dean says quickly, “there’s no story. I’m just interested in Greek… stuff.”

“Is that the best lie you’ve ever come up with? If so, I’m worried about you. You don’t have to lie to me, Dean. You can just share.”

Dean looks out into the sea for a long, silent while. He’s uncertain about this subject, and for some reason, he thinks Castiel won’t be satisfied without knowing the whole story. More than that, Dean wants to share — he wants Castiel to know every detail to his past in a way best friends or lovers do, and it doesn’t make sense to him.

But he also feels guilt. He fears Castiel won’t take his motives as well as Damaris did, and he fears for the things he’s heard too many times to come out from Castiel’s mouth, too — that he’s naive, childish, can’t get over things and should do something more valuable with his life.

“Of course, I’m not forcing you to,” Castiel says.

Dean hops back onto his feet, toes his shoes off and dips his feet into the ocean. It’s chilly and tickles where the waves rise to his calves, and he wants to go swimming instead of talking. Instead, he reaches out his hand for Castiel in an invitation to join.

When Castiel does, though, he reaches his hand to Dean’s and grips it tight. Instead of feeling out of breath, Dean feels his heart set into a happy, content beat. He briefly thinks of the feeling as the physical equivalent of you have reached your destination .

They stand next to each other, facing the vast ocean stretching out as far as the eye can see, until finally Dean feels it’s safe to talk.

“When I was five, we went sailing with my dad. It’s not really sailing if it’s a small boat with a motor and not much else, but anyway, we went fishing. That was back when we lived in Washington and the ocean was close, and you forget that it’s dangerous when it’s domesticated like that.”

“Domesticated ,” Castiel echoes. “I like that word. It’s really telling. People keep waters as pets and forget they’re dangerous.”

“Exactly. Well, our pet water was nothing like this. It was much more… docile, I guess. I don’t remember the waves ever being as intense as here, but that’s because we didn’t live by the coast, not really. We visited it frequently, but dad always chose good weather for that.”

“Until a storm came,” Castiel supplies. Dean frowns at him.

“Your story or mine?”

Castiel hums and smiles apologetically. “I’m sorry. Go on.”

“How’d you know anyway?”

“SMS’s.”

“That’s right, I told you that’s what I do for a living. Anyway, a storm came. We were out at sea and it caught us off guard. Dad tried to steer the boat back to the shore, but since the motor was old and crappy, it failed on us.”

He takes a stuttering breath. Castiel squeezes his hand.

“Shit, I didn’t realize it would still be this hard.”

“Take your time. We can also leave it at this and return later.”

“No, I want to get this out. I remember dad swearing and yelling at the ocean, cursing it, and I remember the oars breaking because they were old and cracked in places. We made it close to the shore, but not close enough before hitting an underwater rock. The boat turned around, and my safety vest bounced away from me after trying to strangle me a little first — dad hadn’t tied it well enough around the crotch, I think — and then there was just water everywhere.”

Castiel sighs deeply, but doesn’t say a word. There’s an odd determination in his eyes — as if this had happened to a person he loves, and he’s hurting just as much as Dean is when he listens to his story. For some reason, all of Dean’s nerve ends bask in the attention and he feels like he’s being charged full of affection.

“But that wasn’t the worst thing that happened. I yelled, as hard as a five-year-old can, and dad was swimming towards the shore. When he heard me, he turned around, and the waves kept on rolling around us. He saw me struggling to keep on the surface, and instead of fucking taking the two strides to grab me he yelled ‘sorry, son’ and started swimming away.”

Dean’s throat feels thick and his voice is shaking. Castiel’s presence is right here with him, stroking the back of Dean’s palm with his thumb.

“I mean, what kind of a dad does that?” Dean asks, and a sob leaves his mouth without his consent. He presses his eyes shut in hopes the world forgets he exists. Oh god, Castiel must think he’s so weak.

“Dean,” Castiel whispers and is that fucking pity in his voice?, “can I hug you?”

Dean just nods and presses the heels of his palms to his eyes. This is far from the way he wanted to get closer to Castiel, but as warm arms wrap around his body and a jaw is propped on his shoulder, he hardly minds. He lets Castiel hold him for a moment without actually going into a full panic-mixed crying fit, until he feels he’s ready to open his eyes again. He bends back a little to meet Castiel’s eyes — calm, soothing, still definitely admiring eyes — and he needs to bite back the gasp trying to escape him. Such a contrast of feelings.

“I feel there’s more to your father than this,” Castiel whispers, “but even if you wanted to tell me now, I’d tell you to pace yourself. There’s time for that later. Now, what happened next?”

“That’s when it gets weird,” Dean huffs, wrapping his fingers around Castiel’s bicep to keep him this close. He turns his head and tries to be subtle in the way he smells Castiel’s shirt, because oh god. It’s like he’s bottled the cleanest ocean breezes and sprayed them on before leaving his house today.

“M-hm?” Castiel prompts.

“I was saved. I… I don’t know what happened. At one point, I was struggling to keep on the surface, and then, something grabbed my ankle, like fingers around it… And I was pushed up, and up, until half of me was out of the water and I was surfing the fucking ocean until I made it to the shore.”

Dean sniffles and suddenly feels too nervous to stand this close to Castiel. He’s going to judge him, right? Best he stay a bit further. He takes a couple steps away from him and only stops as Castiel clears his throat.

“Like, a mermaid?” he asks quietly.

“I don’t know,” Dean shrugs, “first, I thought of mermaids too, and of course, when I told about this, everyone said the currents were strong but there’s no way. People blamed it on winds and scuba divers and freaking sharks but…”

“But?”

Dean turns to look at Castiel, because there’s a tension to his voice now. He’s scrunching his nose to match the frown he’s wearing, and he looks as tense as he sounds — but there’s no judgment. At least, not yet.

“But I know what I felt, Cas. And I started doing research on things… Of creatures and entities that live in the ocean. It was hard for a long time, because I was scared of the ocean now. Eventually, I made little trips on these huge cruise ships again and it made me more confident. However, the more I looked into lore and legends around the world, the more I started to believe I was saved by a god — or if not a god, per se, then someone that works for a god.”

“A god,” Castiel says, and Dean hears he’s going for the deadpan, non-believing tone, but his voice is a bit too shaky for that. “You were saved by a god?”

“Cas, I don’t need your condescending behavior, I’ve heard it all-” Dean starts, but Castiel cuts him off.

“That would explain why you wanted to come to Mykonos. Greek mythology is well-established and enormous. Why’d you end up with Greek gods, though? There’s tons of other gods around.”

Dean looks into the horizon. “I investigated many, if not all. I quickly moved from religions with an omnipotent god into those with many — it’s not likely a single god can take care of everything that happens on this Earth. Then, I don’t know. I scanned through Egyptian, Roman and Celtic religions but always circled back to Greek. I guess that’s as much of a gut feeling as it is a personal preference. There’s something intriguing in how Greek gods are the ones who keep on resurfacing in literature, in mythologies around the world, and how some of the stories of Greece become vivid enough to be regarded as actual history. Trojan horse, for example.”

“Yes, Homer had that kind of an effect on people,” Castiel says nonchalantly, obviously deep in his own thoughts. “What would you do, then? If you suddenly found out gods exist and even met the one who saved you back then.”

Dean frowns. “I don’t know. Probably shake hands. Thank them, of course.”

Remembering John also makes Dean remember the way he used to treat Dean. He instantly thinks what have you even achieved in life that makes you happy to be alive , but he quickly shrugs it off. No time to think about this now, no matter how painful remembering his dad is.

Besides, Castiel’s expression has shifted into a soft smile. He comes next to Dean and takes his hand again.

“I don’t have much to offer when it comes to the entirety of Greek mythology, but now I really want to take you on a cruise around the islands.”

“I’d like that, Cas.”

“Sunday, then?”

“Sunday. It’s, what, early Thursday now, right? Damn, we’re gonna be busy if we want a wedding.”

“And yet I’m asking you for something,” Castiel says slowly. “If you’ve got time, come to the beach tomorrow. I’d love to go scuba diving with you.”

“Uh, what? In what part of my story did I state I love to be underwater and out of control?”

Something flashes in Castiel’s eyes, but he hides it fast. Dean is intrigued to chase whatever just happened — it looked like something more primitive and dangerous than anything he’s yet seen in Castiel.

“I think it could be a good experience. Empowering, even, to regain your confidence in the water. I saw you doing so well in my boat yesterday, and I bet you’d do well with some scuba equipment, too.”

Dean squints. “What’s your game here?”

Castiel laughs. “No game. Except for, well, I want to spend time with you. You’re fascinating.”

Dean blows a raspberry, because suddenly, he’s hot all over and feels like he should take a dive — which, coming from him, is saying a lot. “Okay, okay, Cas. You know what? You have me. I’ll swim with you tomorrow. No fucking scuba equipment covering my face yet, thank you very much, but I’ll take a dip if my schedule permits me to do so.”

Castiel absolutely beams. “Thank you, Dean. I can’t wait.”

Chapter Text

Yuna: Tourist

 

Sam wakes Dean up by insistently knocking on his door for half an hour. When Dean finally groans and forces himself upright, it’s eight a.m. and his head is throbbing from the alcohol he barely even remembers consuming.

“Fuck off,” Dean mutters as soon as he’s got the door open, “it’s too early.”

“I’m getting married on Sunday, Dean,” Sam frowns and pushes in with his hair flopping after him, “we need to get shit done. Come eat breakfast with me, and we’ll go buy decorations after.”

“What? Did you decide on a place?”

Sam throws him a pair of khakis that he begrudgingly takes, and after pulling a t-shirt over his head and sandals on his feet, he’s ready to start the day.

“We did,” Sam hums happily as he strolls down the white stairs, still radiating cold after the night, “we’re doing it by the windmill.”

“The- The what?”

“There’s the Bonis Windmill next to the folklore museum, and we’d really like to hold the ceremony there. It’s close enough to the ocean, so we can take a dive right after.”

“Speaking of dives,” Dean frowns as they take opposite seats at the bistro and open their menus, “I need a moment for myself today. I promised to go swimming with Castiel.”

Sam folds his arms across his chest, abandoning his menu for now. “Who’s Castiel?”

“A… I might’ve made a couple of friends. Castiel is one of them. We were out late last night.”

“Look at you mingle,” he huffs, almost impressed, “I never would’ve thought. Anyway, if you want, you can go see the folklore museum at some point. I think we’ll go see the spot and plan the decorations a little, and then head into the shops. We’re keeping it simple and natural, but we still want some balloons.”

Dean nods, mostly to the waiter who brings their coffees and take their orders. “And you can’t do this with Jess because…”

“Oh, Jess will come to the museum but we’ll go  do the shopping alone. She’s got a hairdresser that’ll show her and Bela a simple ‘do, and some cutting and dyeing, I guess.”

“Cutting and dying sounds about right,” Dean retorts. Sam rolls his eyes and refuses to comment on that further.

“So, this Castiel. What does he do?”

“He’s a scuba instructor. No, I think he actually teaches all kinds of water-related sports. Bela might’ve mentioned him yesterday, he was the one who took us for a spin on his boat.”

“Oh! Oh, wow. Please, tell him thank you, even though we didn’t end up in any of the places he suggested via you. That Scorpios place looked amazing, but much more like your place to wed.”

“That’s what I said!” Dean yelps. “God, it was stunning.”

“Indeed it was. Shit, I wish I could… I wish…”

“Say it aloud. You wish you could be sure I’m going to get married someday, but it’s not likely since I’m not dating.”

“I wasn’t going to say it.”

“You were thinking about it. It’s one of my many ‘issues’, right?”

“Dean, please don’t.”

“I won’t,” Dean says, lifting his hands up in surrender, “anyway. Castiel also suggested a bakery we should definitely check out today, if possible.”

Sam’s eyebrows shoot up. “Did he? Oh, fuck. That’s a relief, because, you know, obviously, we need cake.”

“You haven’t thought about cake?”

“I have thought about my beautiful wife-to-be with flowers around her, now with a windmill. Dean, I’m fumbling the ball here. We’ve wasted days just… Trying to get everyone to come here.”

“Is everyone coming?”

“We’ll be having twenty, or twenty-five people,” Sam sighs and smiles at the waiter who brings their food, “and our hotel is going to be booked during the weekend, so I need to get people accommodated somewhere.”

“Sounds like a thing for the best man, to be honest,” Dean says, happily biting into his spinach pie, “I can take care of that. When are people coming?”

“Uh, Friday and Saturday, mostly. You’ll be fucked.”

“Nah. I’m planning to go into the town anyway. There’s a bookstore I’d like to visit. I can ask around the hotels. Do they have a price range?”

“Somewhere plus or minus a hundred euros per night, preferably.”

“Gotcha. I’ll see to it. I need a list, though.”

Sam nods. “Thanks. That helps so much, you’ve got no idea. I haven’t even got a tuxedo yet.”

“Can’t imagine you getting married in a tux, though. Just… linen all around. We’re in Mykonos.”

Dean gets a laugh at that, after which they’re interrupted by Sam’s phone ringing. While Sam talks with what seems like one of the guests, stuck at Amsterdam airport, Dean stares at his food and thinks about Castiel again. They’d parted on good terms last night and he’d promised to come to the beach as soon as possible, but to be honest, the thought of swimming scared the living shit out of him. It was nothing too bad when they’d been in a cave that looked benign enough, but the fucking open sea?

The thing is, he’s already embarrassed of his outburst last night, and there’s some traumatic memories bound to come up as soon as he’s engulfed in open water.

He should’ve told Castiel he hasn’t been swimming a whole lot. Sometimes, in a pool. Sometimes, in his lake, when it’s really calm. But it’s already windy at eight thirty a.m. and Dean presumes it’s only going to get worse.

Well, better to take the plunge and embarrass himself further in Castiel’s eyes. That’d save him a whole lot of pining when they have to part. If he acts lame enough, maybe Dean can change Castiel’s opinion that Dean, for who knows what reason, is worth his time at the moment.

It makes Dean doubt Castiel’s judgment.

Sam ends the call and hides his face in his palms for a while. “Fuuuuuck.”

“That bad?”

“Mother of the bride is stuck. Sounds fucking awesome right now. You don’t happen to have extra time to drive to Amsterdam and back? Apparently, it’s only around thirty-three hours.”

“Sounds like a blast. If I leave right away, I’m back just in time for the wedding. If I don’t sleep.”

“Can’t make her take a train, either,” Sam mutters, pushing pie into his mouth with his giant ladle of a hand, “shit.”

“Why is she stuck? Is there something wrong in Amsterdam?”

“Storm,” Sam scoffs. “Would be a nice time to find those gods of yours and ask them to ease up on the weather.”

“I’ll ask Zeus the second I meet him,” Dean says with a finger gun pointed at Sam, who rolls his eyes again.

“Here’s a brain teaser for you. If there’s a storm at the sea, which god is responsible for it?”

“Can’t they do a combo? I bet they do combos. A brotherly quarrel.”

“I’d think they have outsourced their services by now,” Sam says nonchalantly.

“Exactly! That’s what I’ve been on about!” Dean all but yells and has to gulp all of his orange juice to not choke on his pie. “Outsourcing is why I was saved, I’m telling you.”

Sam looks at Dean in a way that’s all too familiar to him; kind of amused, kind of condescending, kind of empathizing. Dean decides to let it slide… Yet again.

 

Bonis windmill is awesome, and they get to see it in action because the more minutes pass, the more the winds blow across the island. They also pass VOID again, and for a moment Dean feels weak and wants to share everything with Sam; how he’s actually fallen in — in whatever people fall into when they don’t know each other well enough to fall in love. He doesn’t want to give Sam the satisfaction, though, because he knows the second Sam finds out it’s going to be over. All of the pressure associated with relationships will instantly be upon him, Castiel will have to navigate through Sam’s expectations for Dean, but Dean just needs everyone to like each other and no, all of that seems really suffocating. He’ll stress out not only himself but Castiel as well, and the guy would be a complete fool not to see his way out right around those moments.

Dean just wants to go swimming already. Like this, it keeps on nagging away on the back of his mind and he can’t fully focus on what Sam wants.

“What’re you so sulky about? Doesn’t the place please you?” Sam asks him, a frown forming on his face yet again. Sam might be in need of stress relief himself after this week is over. It briefly makes Dean think about the cruise, but since they didn’t make any firm plans yet it’s probably better to not tell Sam anything.

They’re sitting in the car right outside the windmill, and Sam’s doing some mental decorating with one of his hands raised.

“It’s really cool, Sam,” Dean assures, “I bet it’ll look perfect when we’re done decorating. Speaking of which, what do we need?”

“We need to find a place that’d rent us an arch. Jess is adamant about the arch with white flowers. Then, we’re going to do the flower shopping, for which Bela is going to join us via FaceTime. Lastly, the balloons.”

“Have you decided if you’re throwing an afterparty?”

Sam looks horrified for a moment. “A restaurant would take us in, right? Bela said something like that.”

“A restaurant would take you in, probably. Just let them know beforehand.”

Sam nods and huffs out a breath that puffs his cheeks. “Right, good. So, what do you reckon this place needs?”

“A shitload of flowers, if that’s what you wanted. We’ll just push these huge, beautiful flowers everywhere. We need to find a florist who’s willing to do that for us on such short notice, and preferably someone who’d rent us all kinds of containers  for them. I mean, flowers are what you want, right? We should prioritize them, then.”

“Sounds good. Do you have your phone on you? Mine’s on the back seat, but if you can see if there’s florists nearby.”

Dean does a quick scan on his phone. “Uh, yeah. Seems like there’s a couple to choose from. I mean, we visited a couple of spots with Bela yesterday, but they were back towards our hotel. So, take your pick.”

“Let’s just start at the closest location,” Sam says with a reassuring nod meant for himself. Dean pats his shoulder and guides them forward.

 

It’s all pretty much a blur from there on out. The first flower shop can’t deliver the volume they need that fast, but the second one is able to do so; they connect with Bela and a surprised Jess through FaceTime and get arrangements sorted out. It’ll probably be a mess, and the florist is graceful enough to point that out at least twice, but they’ll still be getting big, white flowers in clichéd Greek pots. It’s another two hours before they’re out on the road again.  Chora is getting crowded so Dean navigates them to a supermarket a bit up north, all the while wishing he had Castiel’s number — if for nothing else, then at least to thank him for last night and tell him he’s going to be on the beach… Eventually.

Sam navigates easily when it comes to obtaining alcohol; to be honest, Dean just sees hundreds of bottles of wine where Sam sees rare opportunities and valuable finds. They pack their cart to the brim with snacks and all sorts of variations from red to sparkling, and decide to buy fresh fruit on Sunday morning. They also do their best to find balloons and Google somewhere to get them filled with helium. After they’ve packed their car again, Sam leans against the wheel and groans aloud.

“Let it all out,” Dean hums, “I think we’re doing well. We’ve got the drinks, the snacks, and if we talk with the folklore museum, we might even get a table for this stuff.”

“Nah, we’ll do it picnic style. We really want to keep it low key and not… Arrange a whole scene.” Dean raises an eyebrow at Sam, because that’s exactly what they’ve been doing all day. Unfortunately Sam is too busy stretching to notice.

“M-hm, alright. Then we’ll do that.”

“Is there something else we can do today?”

“I guess we could get the clothes for you. Not promising you a tux, but something along the lines.”

Sam nods and straightens himself. “Thanks, man. I’d be lost without you. Will you be late, though? Should you tell Castiel?”

“I don’t… I don’t have his number.”

“What? How’s that possible? Weren’t you partying last night?”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean we exchanged any contact information. Which, in hindsight, might have been a lame decision.”

“Does he have, like, a company or something he does scuba instructing through? Would that have a number?”

Dean huffs. “They should. Wow. I’m a jerk.”

“Yeah, well, that’s what brothers are for,” Sam says, finally starting the car and reversing from the spot. “Call him as soon as you’ve found us a place to get clothes.”

It doesn’t take too long to give Sam simple directions, and then Dean immediately searches for Castiel’s work number. He finds one, but oddly enough it’s a landline. While he hovers his finger over the Call button, Sam sighs.

“Just call the number, Dean. He’s not gonna think you’re pushy.”

“Shut it, Sam,” Dean groans. While there’s something in Sam’s behavior than implies he’s perfectly aware of Dean’s budding crush towards Castiel, he doesn’t want to think about it right now. Instead he pushes the button and the line clicks almost immediately.

“What’s the name of a Swiss electronic duo that’s to blame for the Duffman theme song?”

The voice is Balthazar’s, but the speech comes out way too fast, so Dean just answers with a questioning huh .

“Yelloooo!”

“Hi, Balthazar,” Dean deadpans.

“New phone, who dis?”

“It’s Dean,” he all but yells, “are you high?”

“High on caffeine, not high enough on the whole love front. Something you need, Dean?”

“Yeah,” he replies, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration. “Is Castiel there?”

“Boy’s gone fishin’.”

“Seriously?”

“No idea. Not here right now. Tell him that I’m bored of the insides of this booth.”

“Not… Exactly with him right now either.”

“What do you want of him?”

Dean rolls his eyes in exasperation, and Sam frowns at him before concentrating on the road again. “Right now I want to tell him I haven’t forgotten our deal, and I’ll be there in around three hours.”

“What deal? You’re not up to something shady, are you?”

“Are you always this infuriating?”

Balthazar lets out a hearty laugh. “I aim to please.”

“Could you share this info with him if you see him, then?”

“Sure thing, kiddo. Bring me pie.”

“I will,” Dean promises and ends the call. “Alright, Sammy, we’re getting pie for the most infuriating person in the world.”

 

Dean and Sam spend the afternoon choosing clothes. Sam’s surprisingly fond of the linen idea, but isn’t ready to give up the idea of formalwear — and that’s why he decides to wear a suit with a pale pink jacket and light brown pants. They end up sending Jess pictures that turn out almost classy burlesque-ish with the poses, but Jess is absolutely no help; she’s so in love with Sam everything she sees him in makes her swoon. They decide to put a cream shirt under the suit and forget the tie.

After that, they drive back to the hotel and unpack the car. As soon as Sam sees Jess’ hairdo, he excuses himself and leaves Dean alone in the hallway. He snorts out of envy and disgust before heading back to his room to change.

So, swimming gear. He feels both giddy and scared as fuck to pull on his swimming trunks, and because he’s feeling self-conscious he decides to wear a tank top on as well. He applies a decent amount of sunscreen, but does realize it’s past the worst hours of sunlight.

Feeling vaguely like he’s set on his way to embarrass himself, he leaves the hotel once more.

 

Dean sees Balthazar by the stall, but pointedly decides to take another route to avoid him. It’s not that he has anything against the guy, at least not yet — he just feels he’s had his quota of him for today. So instead he walks to the shoreline from a bit further back, closer to the spot he first met Castiel. The beach is as full as it was when he last was here, and Dean briefly hopes they can do this somewhere else. He walks to the waterline and considers dipping his toes, but currently it looks impossible; the wind has settled a little since the morning, but the waves are still way too high for Dean’s liking. He low-key wishes Castiel knew a secret place somewhere that’s either underground or in a secluded bay that’s sheltered from the wind.

He sits in the sand for a while, trying to forget the people around him and what memories have been coming up ever since he shared stuff with Castiel.

Eventually, he feels, rather than sees, someone sitting next to him. They share a moment of comfortable silence staring out to the sea, and then, Castiel inhales to speak. Since it’s followed by a pause, Dean knows whatever’s going to come out of that infuriatingly alluring mouth of his is well thought out.

“How does this make you feel?”

“Hmm?”

“It’s rather windy today. Does that concern you?”

Dean turns to look at Castiel. From where Dean’s sitting, Castiel’s face is all sharp angles and shallow valleys. Again, Dean’s preoccupied with the thought of Castiel being carved by the gods to cater Dean’s aesthetic desires.

Or, by the feel of it, other desires as well. There’s an r-word he circles around, but it’s like crossing a threshold into something dangerous and unfamiliar, and he can’t even form the word in his mind yet.

“What the hell, Cas, of course it does. And I don’t know, I probably should’ve told you last time we went swimming that… I don’t do a lot of that. I don’t just go swimming in grand waves and hope I’ll somehow come out unscathed. I tend to stay on solid ground and only swim in pools or, you know.”

“Where the currents can’t sweep you away?”

“Yeah.”

“Then you’re blessed you’re with a good swimmer,” Castiel says nonchalantly, absolutely no bragging in his voice.

“I guess I am blessed,” Dean admits, his gaze not swaying from Castiel’s face. Castiel smiles — his smiles are not obvious, they’re more implications than actual expressions — and gets on his feet.

“Ready when you are, my captain,” he says.

“What? Here?”

“I don’t have a pool for you, that’s for sure.”

“No, that’s not what I-” Dean snaps his mouth shut when Castiel blatantly yanks his t-shirt off, revealing a well-toned, tanned body underneath. Oh, shit. That’s… That’s definitely going to be a problem here, and not only because Dean’s instantly filled with images that are not all decent. Mostly, he’s surprised to notice, they’re about him running his fingers up and down that intoxicating skin, making Castiel shiver, which is surprisingly lame in the scale of Dean’s fantasies.

Castiel turns to him and Dean makes sure to keep his gaze firmly in his eyes.

“You coming?”

“I… I guess I don’t have a choice at this point, do I?”

“You had a choice when it came to scuba diving, and you chose this.”

Dean huffs and discards his shirt on the sand next to Castiel’s. If Castiel gives him a once-over — and, of course, Dean hopes he does — he’s unaware; the waves are rising higher and keeping him on edge.

“Okay,” Castiel says firmly, “have you been in waves this big?”

“Hell no. To be honest, right now I’m considering giving  up.”

“You’ll love it, I’m sure,” Castiel hums, tapping his jaw with his fingertips. Dean is caught by the movement and kind of wants to kiss each one of those strong, nimble fingers.

Wow. Thirsty like a teenager.

“We’ll have to see,” Dean replies and walks a bit further. “Okay. What do I need to know?”

“There’s only really one rule,” Castiel says, “and please, pay attention to what I’m saying now.”

Dean looks at Castiel now, and for a while, they just stare at each other. There’s something that’s equally calming and scary in the way Castiel looks at Dean — it’s like there’s nothing else in the universe. Dean’s not sure if anyone has ever paid this much attention to him.

“Don’t panic.”

Dean scoffs. “Really? You’re going all Douglas Adams on me?”

Castiel tilts his head and opens his mouth, but apparently decides halfway that it’s not necessary to know the reference right now. “Yes. The waves are brutal. It’s of utmost importance that you pace yourself with the waves, because the moment you start panicking and think you’ll just swim to the shore is the moment you’ve got a broken limb or two.”

Dean frowns and crosses his arms, shoving his palms against his ribs. “What’s that mean?”

“You float. You need to float as close to the shore as you can, and only use your feet when you’re by the waterline when it’s the highest. Don’t try to strand yourself when the water’s receding. And don’t panic. Is this clear?”

Dean nods. “Float, don’t panic, walk when the water’s highest.”

“I’m not going to be far from you, so I’ll be able to save you if you’re in trouble.”

“No panicking.”

Castiel smiles and, once more, turns towards the waves. Dean watches him walk towards the sea as if it’s his second home — which, in all honesty, it probably is. He spends enough time in the sea due to his work that it could start charging rent.

When Castiel’s up to his thighs in the water, he makes a leap for it. He dives as effortlessly as any other aquatic animal and Dean’s baffled by the effortless grace of it. He feels like a baby duck waddling at the shore, trying to decide what spot would be the easiest to get in.

Castiel surfaces and gets into an upright position, letting the waves caress his hips and waist and all the way up to his shoulders while making it look effortless. Dean’s familiar enough with underwater currents and gravity to know how much muscle control that takes and is once again pretty much drooling. It’s ridiculous, and he definitely doesn’t want to be the guy that is gross to be at the beach with — and before his body can come up with a visible protest at his resolve, he makes a very swift walk at it.

The waves reach his toes, and compared to the sun-soaked air it feels cold. Dean takes a deep breath and keeps going until the next wave basically sweeps him off his feet and into the open sea.

God, it’s scary. It’s scary and feels intense, but as long as he keeps his face towards the beach, he doesn’t see the tallness of the waves rolling into him. The height alters a whole lot between casual standing and what feels like a flagpole but is probably closer to 12 feet. For now, Dean can’t feel the ground under his feet, but he reminds himself to not panic. Castiel slowly floating towards him helps as well.

“How are you, Dean?”

“I feel light,” he replies with a laugh, “and so, so scared.”

“You’re not panicking, right?”

“A little, but not enough to actually try something irresponsible.”

“That’s the spirit,” Castiel says, and this time his smile is a bit more visible. Dean makes a promise to try and get a mental image snapped from each of Castiel’s smiles. “Want to try swimming?”

“Uh,” Dean says, and before he can continue, Castiel hums.

“No, wait a second. Some higher waves are approaching. We’d best wait them out first.”

“Oh, god,” Dean says under his breath and Castiel swims a bit closer.

“Take my hand,” he says, “I’ll keep you safe.”

Dean looks at Castiel, partially ready to snap because he’s not comfortable showing  his weakness like this, but there’s nothing but kindness and calm in those blue eyes. He nods and gravitates closer before taking Castiel’s hand. Even underwater, it radiates warmth.

“Right. Hold on, unless the waves start pulling you under because of that. If you’re scared, just relax. Relaxing equals floating and floating equals staying on top of the waves.”

“What if they do the curly thing?”

“Then we’re on top of the wave,” Castiel says, gentle amusement in his voice, “but these don’t seem like they’re tall enough.”

The first wave hits them almost angrily. Dean yelps and gets a good flush of salty water in his mouth, and it stirs something in him he can’t be thinking about right now — he’s just a couple of feet away from his father, and he watches his father form the words ‘I’m sorry’ over and over again. Then, another wave comes, hitting his eyes.

“Dean,” Castiel says, his voice carrying through the storm in his mind, “you’re fine.”

Dean manages out a huff, shaking his head angrily to rid his face from excess water. “Keep telling yourself that.”

Castiel squeezes his hand a little, and it has a somewhat grounding effect. When the next wave comes, he’s almost enjoying the gentle rise and fall of it. There’s even a short moment of oh god but how I love the sea.

That thought is short-lived, because during the next wave, his hand slips from Castiel’s. Dean spirals further from the shore and it sends him into another round of trauma-induced panic — and gets him to make a swim for it.

For some reason, the next wave ends up pushing him quite a lot further, and when it recedes, he’s happy to notice he’s almost close enough to the sand to touch it. He takes a couple more strides with his arms and then, he feels ground under his hands, and his feet, and then-

Then the next wave comes and bashes him against the shore, giving him a full nose flush. Something scrapes at his shin and there’s water in his lungs and he’s coughing on all fours until the next wave comes and pushes him flat on his stomach. Right. Right. This is how it ends.

Of course, it doesn’t. Before the next wave hits the shore, there’s strong arms hooked under Dean’s arms, pulling him somewhat on his legs. Then, Castiel shifts so he can wrap his arm around Dean, and Dean grabs onto Castiel like he’s a lifeline — which, Dean thinks feverishly, he actually is right now. They make it up the gentle rise on the sand until Dean is promptly placed on the ground. He’s still wheezing and coughing, and his nose feels like he’s gone through a good round with a neti pot.

“Dean,” Castiel says gently. “Do you need anything?”

“M-hm,” he answers and flops backwards to the sand without caring too much about it sticking to his damp skin. “My dignity would be nice.”

Castiel does that funny little sound that’s not quite a snort, but softer and friendlier. “What went wrong in there?”

Dean groans lowly. “I panicked.”

“Yes, you did.”

“Even if you told me not to. Sorry ‘bout that.”

“What?” Castiel looks at him, confused. “Are you saying sorry because you panicked?”

Dean frowns. “Why not? You told me not to.”

Castiel’s gaze softens and he scoots a little closer to keep their conversation private. “That must have come out wrong and I apologize for that. Of course, I can’t demand you control your primitive reactions, because there’s no way you can control them if it all becomes too much.”

Dean nods and swallows around the sudden lump in his throat. He’s never even thought about not apologizing for his tendency to get anxious and cause a scene. He’s always done it, and even though Sam has always been patient and understanding… There’s something in Castiel’s words that are completely new and radical to Dean.

“It’s more than I thought,” he admits then, “I thought I’d be over that shit now.”

“Have you ever talked about it with anyone?”

“As in a therapist?”

“Well, yeah, or it could also be a trusted friend,” Castiel says and sighs, “but I’d think a therapist could steer the conversation better.”

“I’ve talked to Sammy, and to a psychiatric nurse at one point… And of course, I did make it back from the sea, and my mom had a serious talking-to with dad, after which she consoled me.”

Castiel nods and glances out towards the sea and again, sharp lines of his jaw catch Dean’s attention. He’s glad Castiel doesn’t apologize for taking him out swimming in the first place; Dean couldn’t deal with both the loss of his dignity and Castiel’s unnecessary guilt.

“Can I suggest something?” Castiel asks then. Dean slowly rolls his eyes, because he’s pretty sure he knows what comes next, what comes every single time his fear surfaces — he’s being told that he doesn’t have to try, that not everything is meant for everybody, and he can do other things such as baking cakes and taking walks in the forest and maybe swimming in a kiddie pool.

“Hmm?”

“I would still really much like to take you scuba diving. We’ll do nothing dangerous or too heavy, some light equipment would be enough. You’d be under the waves, exploring the bottom of the sea, instead of just… getting washed away.”

A warmth makes its way from Dean’s chest throughout his whole body. Castiel is causing a revolution Dean didn’t even know existed within him — that he’s allowed, that he’s not seen as a victim, that someone trusts that he can do this.

He’s just about to say something that feels extravagant, but Castiel inhales sharply and gets to his feet. “Shit, you’re bleeding.”

Dean forces himself up a bit, leaning against his elbows. There’s a nasty-looking gash on his left leg and it’s still bleeding on the nearly-white sand. Instinctively, he reaches out towards it, only to have his hand gently slapped away by Castiel.

“Let me get you something. Don’t touch it!” Castiel says, pointing his finger towards Dean’s hand that is trying to navigate towards the wound again. “You need something cleaner than your sandy finger.”

Dean lies back down and closes his eyes for a moment. It’s nothing too bad, it doesn’t look like they need to get it stitched, and it’s not like he’s losing a lot of blood, either. It’s just uncomfortable.

Shit. They better get it well wrapped. He was planning on wearing white pants on Sunday. When Castiel returns with a first aid kit and immediately sets to digging through it, a guilt settles in Dean’s chest. He didn’t remember to ask Sam about inviting Castiel to the wedding.

When Castiel scrunches his nose and frowns at the wound, Dean lifts himself up to a seated position. Their eyes meet for a second, and then Castiel tilts his head, turning back to the matter at hand.

“It looks…”

“Beautiful, yes,” Dean’s quick to make a joke, because something in Castiel’s expression right now makes him uncomfortable. Luckily, he earns a lopsided smile.

“Yes, of course,” Castiel says and then gazes towards the sea, “I wonder what did this.”

“Is there something wrong with it?”

“Oh, no. It’s just…”

Castiel sighs and shakes his head. Dean leans closer to the wound, but sees nothing out of the ordinary. That could be caused by glass, or sharp metal, or a dedicated rock. Still, something about it makes him uneasy, and it’s just at the tip of his tongue —

All of his thoughts melt away when Castiel brings a disinfectant cloth onto Dean’s skin. It’s all at once; there’s sharp pain that makes him want to kick things, the hot and cold of a wound being disinfected, and then — then there’s Castiel’s fingers, rubbing soothing circles into his skin just below his knee.

“Yes, I’m sorry, Dean,” he says, “this will be hurting for a while now.”

It feels like a short eternity. Castiel moves from a large cloth to a smaller one, cleaning every inch of both the wound and the skin surrounding it. Then, he brings out a dressing, which he presses against the wound before wrapping a decent amount of gauze around it. After fixing it with medical tape, Castiel gives it a couple of firm strokes, and when his hands move back towards the first aid kit Dean wants to chase the touch.

“That should be alright. Uh, I’d change the dressing tonight or tomorrow morning. You should ask the reception in your hotel about the… About a first aid kit.”

Dean nods. He bites his tongue so he doesn’t say anything foolish — such as please come along with your first aid kit and spend the night with me , or do you live nearby, because I suddenly don’t want to be alone. Instead, he says nothing.

 

Chapter Text

Coldplay: Hymn for the Weekend

 

It’s needless to say that both Friday and Saturday pass in a blur. When Dean’s not asking restaurants for their seating possibilities or hotels for their accommodation statuses, he’s taste-testing Kali’s cakes with Jess. Castiel was absolutely right about her baking skills — Dean has never tasted anything as good, although it makes him feel a little bad for his late mother, who could make some killer apple pie. He’s happy to notice Jess is too stressed with everything else to fully concentrate on the tastes, because that leaves Dean pretty much in charge. He chooses peanut butter cake with white chocolate filling, as well as red velvet with butterscotch — and when Jess is not arguing about picnic cloths with Sam through the phone, she makes an executive decision about the third layer, choosing something with different berries. Kali promises to get to work as soon as possible, and assures them they can pick up the cakes on Sunday morning.

Dean keeps thinking back to Castiel, and how there was so obviously something off with the way he looked at the wound in Dean’s shin. He also thinks about how they parted, how Castiel had lingered: almost touching Dean’s hand with his own, almost reaching out and asking him not to leave, almost leaning forward-- and if this were someone he knew better  he would’ve thought they were waiting for a kiss.

The thought alone thrills and scares the hell out of him, and he needs to keep himself busy so he doesn’t dwell on that.

By Saturday evening they’re finished planning. Balloons are ready to be filled with rental helium, Dean has white pants and a pale teal shirt, the restaurant is ready to take them in, and every one of the twenty-three guests are at least on the island. Because Dean’s been running all day, he thinks he’ll fall asleep the second his head hits the pillow.

He’s wrong. The second his head hits the pillow, he’s thinking about Castiel again. He’s thinking about the beach, and how he should’ve changed the dressing tonight instead of leaving it for tomorrow. He’s thinking about Castiel, deep in thought, fixing his wound. Castiel, looking at the sea, absolutely shattered. Castiel asking what caused Dean’s wound —

Then, clear as day, it clicks in Dean’s head. Fuck . Castiel hadn’t asked because he was unsure, or because he was scared Dean could catch something from an unidentified object. He asked because there was something sharp and dangerous on his beach , and he had been absolutely devastated to find out that regardless of his hard work patrolling there each day, undoubtedly cleaning it up as he went, someone had gotten hurt.

Dean sighs and presses the heels of his palms against his eyes for a while. Okay, he didn’t feel  like sleeping anyway. There’s no reason he shouldn’t get up now, change into something more comfortable (he’s still in the shirt-vest-slacks combo from a low-key rehearsal dinner and welcome party), grab a bag and do some plogging . He can listen to some Greek mythology podcasts during his mission.

 

He starts at the beginning.

It’s two am and the beach is almost empty. Ag Ioannis is not one of those places known for parties that go on until the morning, and Dean’s glad of that; there’s enough privacy and space for him to work. He’s got his jerk brother’s freaking headlamp on, there’s a plastic bag in each of his hands, and he almost crawls on the sand so he misses nothing. After he sets a pace, he puts a podcast on and listens to Greeks talk about their mythology in a modern light. All of it is really interesting, especially when the hosts start venturing into strong female warriors and goddesses, but unfortunately there’s nothing he doesn’t already know. Still, Dean keeps listening and laughing at some well-placed jokes, vaguely realizing how weird it must look and sound like in the darkness of the night.

But damn, people are shit. He makes it to the other end of the beach, hugging the concrete pavement while he goes, and his first plastic bag is three-quarters full when he’s done. It’s mostly because the small cafes and stalls are located here, and it will probably get better the closer he gets to the sea, but still… No wonder Castiel’s feeling lost, having to take care of all this in addition to all of those classes. It dawns on Dean that he didn’t realize just how much pressure there is on Castiel — taking care of a whole beach isn’t all fun and games, and Dean was probably a bit of an ass asking if they could organize the party here.

That explains Castiel’s hesitation towards it at first, as well. Nobody wants drunk twenty- or thirty-somethings littering all over his home turf. A bit angered by his own inability to see things clearly, Dean keeps working.

It starts getting light around five am. Dean realizes it’s his brother’s wedding day and he hasn’t slept a wink, but instead of getting anxious about it he picks up his phone and sends Sam a text. For some reason, he still hasn’t asked if Castiel can attend the wedding, and right now stressing over that seems like a vain thing to do.

Hi, Sam. Can I bring Cas to the wedding? He’s been helping out so much he deserves it, and even if he didn’t… I want him there.

There. Sam can make of it what he wants, Dean’s saying it like it is.

He ends up finding the thing that most likely caused his wound; it’s a piece of cobalt blue glass that sticks out like a sore thumb in the warm morning light. After grabbing it and checking the rest of the shoreline, he sits down on the sand and wishes he was on the east coast instead, so he could watch the sun rise over the sea.

 

Dean definitely doesn’t fall asleep, and he definitely isn’t woken up by a warm, firm hand on his shoulder.

He blinks his eyes open and sees Castiel. He’s scrutinizing Dean, as if making sure he remembers every last detail of the situation he’s found him in, before leaning backwards to take a seat.

“Hmm?” Dean asks, unwilling to form sentences yet. Luckily, Castiel seems to get his message.

“It’s almost nine in the morning, and you’re on my beach. Have you been drinking?”

Dean shakes his head and gestures towards the plastic bags at his feet. He wants to make a trash joke about himself as well, but words don’t want to come out.

Castiel reaches to grab one of the bags and then proceeds to open it. Dean doesn’t know what he thought he’d find in there, but it isn’t ounces and ounces of wrappers and glass. Because he says nothing, Dean looks around. People are showing up now, lying in sun beds and putting on sunscreen. Dean wants to go yell at them a bit, just so they remember where the garbage belongs.

“Collected it from the beach,” he mutters then, because Castiel is still silent. He reminds himself  that it’s Sunday, and he should probably be putting on his clothes already. He taps around for his phone, and briefly thinks he’s been robbed, but finds it half buried in sand a moment later.

Of course. I was going to suggest it but I didn’t know how well you knew each other and if you even wanted him around. Tell him to dress nice and if he can recommend some more good local wine, that’s welcome too.

That’s the only message that’s come from Sam, so at least he’s not angry yet. Dean sits up and looks at Castiel, who’s still staring at the trash.

“You alright there, buddy?”

“When did you come here?” Castiel asks, his voice a bit hoarse.

“Around two. Couldn’t sleep. Guess I was nervous about today.”

“And you collected trash all night.”

“Well, yeah. I realized you must’ve been upset because you’re in charge of the beach, and I got hurt.”

“Which is why you collected trash all night?”

Dean laughs. It’s getting awkward. “Do you want me to show you how I did it? It’s pretty simple. You just take a wrapper, or glass, or anything, and put it in the bag. Repeat until no longer necessary.”

“Dean,” Castiel says, finally looking at him. There’s a gentleness in his eyes Dean hasn’t seen before. “Thank you.”

The words reverberate through Dean’s body, settling somewhere deep in his chest. He didn’t do this for thank yous, but the way Castiel delivers his — like he’s honestly amazed — make his head spin.

“Uh, no problem.”

“I mean it. This… almost never happens. Sometimes, people help out. Most of the time, they don’t.”

“It shouldn’t be the way it goes,” Dean huffs. He’s still angry at himself for not realizing this sooner. “Will you come to the wedding with me?”

Castiel blinks. “Oh, really?”

“Yeah. I… Sorry I didn’t confirm it earlier. It’s been really hectic. Do you have classes today?”

“I’ve been making plans with the Greek crew regarding the trip. Are you willing to leave tonight?”

Dean tilts his head. “Really?”

“If you aren’t, we can wait a couple of days, but not more. Bela insisted you need to come along and knowing what you want to do… I kind of agree. There’s so much you can only learn by witnessing it.”

“Can we scuba dive?”

Castiel hums. “We can take a dip from the boat, or visit some of my favorite locations.”

“Cas, I don’t think you understand how even thinking about traveling the fucking islands make me feel. And to do it with-”

Dean snaps his mouth shut, because he’s about to say something that feels too big — or something that feels too small. He doesn’t want to call Castiel bro right now, but that’s what he’s trying to downgrade his feelings into.

Castiel seems to understand what he means, though. He smiles, small and simultaneously both knowing and secretive, and nods. “Then, I can’t wait.”

 

Compared to how stressed Sam had sounded when he called Dean as he walked back to the hotel, the man Dean sees in front of him is calm and composed. He smiles and continues to knot his tie. Dean frowns at it, since they weren’t supposed to do ties, but Sam pretends he doesn’t notice.

“How have you been?” he asks. “You look fine, but I know my brother well enough to know you didn’t sleep last night.”

“Well, I couldn’t. I did some research instead.”

Sam nods and considers himself in the mirror. “Did you know this was the first night in years I slept apart from Jess?”

“Oh, you’re superstitious? Now , of all times? You’re technically married already, considering you got the damn certificate signed and notarized before you even left the states.”

“That’s just the legality of it, Dean, not the spirit! So we wanted to play it safe. So much could go wrong today. We really should’ve planned ahead better.”

“You did your best, and people are here now. You’re with your family and friends, we all love you and your wife, and that’s all that matters.”

“That’s profound,” Sam huffs, but there’s a smile pulling at the corner of his mouth. “Thanks, man.”

“No problem. Now, am I dressed enough? Should I go for a tie too?”

“Whatever you want. I think you look good. Just… Can you not pass out during the ceremony?”

“I don’t even feel sleepy. I just need to catch up tonight. Which reminds me — do you have plans?”

“Swimming, mostly. We don’t want to plan too much. Let’s see what the others are up to, but they know we’re totally going to bail on them tomorrow.”

“Are you, now?” Dean asks. He wants to fish out information that would contradict with Castiel’s wedding present — them joining the cruise — but he doesn’t want to seem suspicious about it.

“Yeah. We want to see other sides of the island as well. Ideally, we’d also drive down to Náxos, but I don’t know how well that would work out. We haven’t had any time to do research.”

“Hmm,” Dean says, mocking absent-mindedness, “guess you’ll have to see.”

“Exactly. Now, uh. Could you make sure our car is empty? We need to go get the flowers.”

“And the cake.”

“Oh, fuck. The cake. Uh, take Bela with you. See if the hotel has a utility vehicle that we can use, otherwise you can probably rent one pretty easily.”

“Are you sure Bela can go? I don’t know all that much about preparing for the wedding as a bride, but I have a feeling she’s got her hands full Wasn’t she supposed to do Jess’ hair and all?”

Sam groans. “I don’t know, I don’t know. Just… Just pick up someone. There’s plenty of our people bustling all around.”

Dean rolls his eyes half-seriously before exiting the door.

 

Sam is right. There’s people Dean knows well, and some he knows by sight. Most of them are having coffee at the downstairs bar, and even though Dean wants to take Castiel along, he’s nowhere to be seen yet. Besides, Dean doesn’t want to trouble him more than he already does. So, he decides to ask Sarah, one of Sam and Jess’ best friends. Together, they make the ten minute trip there only to realize that it wouldn’t make much sense for them to travel back to the hotel with them. A quick call to Sam later, Sarah promises to stay behind on Bonis’ Windmill, taking care of their items while Dean drives back and gets the cake — and, hopefully, the bride and groom as well.

When Dean drops Sarah and the flowers off, there are already people gathering at the windmill. The wedding is not supposed to start before noon, but some of the guests are already opening bottles of champagne and enjoying the views. Dean wants to tell them to please be patient and nice, but then again, he guesses this counts as appropriate behavior for an easy-going wedding. He calls Sam again and apparently, he’s planning a rickshaw ride for Jess but will need  to get a lift himself.

After picking up the most delicious-looking three-layer cake in the universe and tipping Kali generously, Dean picks up Sam. Apparently, everything’s going according to plan, since there’s a wide grin on his face.

“Alright, little brother,” Dean says with a mirroring grin, “are you ready?”

“Hell yeah. I can’t wait.”

“That’s the spirit. There were a bunch of people getting drunk at the windmill already.” Sam’s eyes widen, so Dean’s quick to clarify. “Our people, of course. Drinking champagne.”

“Oh, good. So.”

“So.”

“I guess it’s time to get married.”

 

They end up with two tables, after all; one for the cake, and one for the recyclable paper plates and cups. They match up well with the flower pots, all of which are now perfectly aligned to form a space for the wedding to take place. There’s blankets laid on the ground on both sides of their makeshift aisle, and loose flowers and petals cover the ground. The arch is really simple, made of metal for easy portability, and filled with what are most likely fake flower vines that somehow look pretty instead of tacky. The champagnes are placed haphazardly on a wall made of stone, also surrounded by flowers.

A couple of minutes before Jess is due to arrive, Bela shows up at the location. She’s accompanied by some faces Dean recognizes but doesn’t know well enough to chat with — and Castiel. Dean can’t even count how many times he’s felt like air has been punched out of him upon seeing Castiel, but him in formalwear must be a new record in intensity. He’s wearing navy slacks with a white shirt, suspenders and a freaking bow tie, and Dean has never seen anyone look so cool dressed like a nerd. He’s carrying a bottle of what is undoubtedly the best wine on the island, and when he spots Dean he smiles shyly.

“Hello,” Dean say, taking a couple of steps towards Castiel. “Thank you for coming.”

“Thank you for inviting me. You look nice.”

Dean feels the need to both brush it off and say something back, but instead, he just blushes. Castiel looks at his face, taking the whole reaction in, and apparently enjoying it quite a bit.

“Let me introduce you to Sammy,” he decides then and walks down the aisle, vaguely noticing people sitting on the blankets already. Sam’s standing next to the arch, ready to roll whenever Jess arrives. He smiles at Dean and then turns his eyes to Castiel, instantly getting a bit more serious.

“Hello,” Castiel says with a nod, “You must be Sam. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Sam gives Castiel one of those smiles he reserves for official situations, and shakes Castiel’s hand. “Yes, and you’re Castiel. I’ve also heard about you.”

“All true, I hope.”

“I’m not a liar,” Dean mutters.

“Didn’t say you were. I’d hate for anyone to have a better image of me than I actually deserve.”

It’s kind of odd to hear, but Dean lets it slide — especially since Sam is only smiling. They start chattering away about the venue and the wine Castiel brought, and Dean takes a seat next to Bela. They’ll be standing behind the bride and groom when the ceremony starts, but since Jess is still on the way, they’ve got time to spare.

“Funny,” Dean mutters, “I’ve still got no idea who is actually performing this ceremony.”

“I think it’s that gal,” Bela answers, nodding towards the young woman sitting alone on the other side of the aisle. Dean hums thoughtfully, vaguely remembering her face from somewhere, and decides to say hello to her later.

“How are you?”

“Oh, I’m more than fine,” Bela smiles, “I’ve eaten well, I’ve seen the sights, and I’m ready to board the ship.”

“I think Castiel will present it as a wedding gift to Sam and Jess. Who else is coming?”

“Damaris, Antheia and Petros, and Meg. That’s pretty much it.”

“Well, there’s not that much more space in the boat, so that should be it,” Dean says. “Are we sure Castiel is fine with this, though? Last I talked to him, he didn’t want to be captain for a voyage he’s only welcome to because he has the boat.”

“Damaris has something up her sleeve about that. I think we’ll reach an understanding.”

Bela looks up with a smile, and Dean notices Castiel walking to them. He yanks himself up from the blanket.

“So,” he says tentatively, “you’ve met my family, now.”

Castiel smiles. It’s small and warm. “That I have. I’m honored. It’s an absolute pleasure. Sam seems like a good man.”

“He’s the best man,” Dean sighs. “I’m really proud to be his big brother.”

“Thought you were the best man, though,” Bela mutters, still somehow a part of this conversation. Dean scoffs.

“Don’t you have a bride to find?”

“She’ll be here  in two minutes. I know exactly where my bride is.”

Dean nods and turns towards the officiant, who’s now getting on her feet. No time like the present. He gestures for Castiel to join him and walks over to her.

“Hello, there,” he says. The woman turns to face them fully, and frowns. “I heard you’ll be performing the wedding.”

The woman looks puzzled, and her words come out tentative. “Excuse me?”

Dean recognizes the intonation of a person with hearing loss, and smiles before repeating his sentence. This time, she smiles in return.

“Oh, yes. I’ll be the ‘minister’ today. I’m Eileen. You’re Dean, right? I think I’ve seen you somewhere, but we didn’t get introduced.”

“Yes, I’m Dean. I take it you’ve heard about me, then,” he says.

“Well, not heard,” she says, tilting her head. Dean inhales sharply to try to fix his error, but she just laughs. Castiel also huffs out an amused laugh next to Dean, then effortlessly starts moving his hands.

Oh, of fucking course . Castiel, already absolutely fucking dreamy, knows ASL. He and Eileen have a brief conversation filled with good-hearted laughter, and then Castiel pats Dean on the back. Dean notices his body lean into the touch of its own volition.

“We should make way for the bride. I bet she’ll be here any second.”

 

The wedding is absolutely beautiful — obviously. Jess and Sam seem so deeply in love, and something of the sacred mood of the island carries into the ceremony. Eileen talks calmly, and her words are filled with admiration for the couple. Dean stands behind Sam and enjoys the cool breeze carrying from the sea; it dries his hair where it’s dampened from sweat and calms his nerves a bit. He’s not particularly sure what it is that makes him feel a bit on edge, but he’s pretty sure the main reason is sitting in the front row, drinking champagne and watching Dean with some kind of simmering fire in his eyes.

But what’s there to be nervous about? Sure, this feels more like a date than any of their meetings so far — and there’s bound to be people in this group who believe Castiel is Dean’s date for the wedding — but that shouldn’t stress Dean as much as it does. It’s probably more to do with them not talking about any of this stuff yet. Dean dreads it, but he still counts just how many times they’ve met since he promised himself he’d just do what he feels like doing. This is the third time. The third time, and he’s got no idea what to do next. Does he even need to talk about it, though? Would they end up in a pleasurable lip-lock sooner or later if he just keeps on hanging out with Castiel? Probably yes. Then, what Damaris said about jealousy and heartbreak comes back to him. He needs to try to yank some info out of the lady. It’s a good thing they’re gonna be on a boat together soon enough.

When Eileen pronounces them equal spouses, everyone stands up to cheer. Dean gets a little teary-eyed but blinks it away fast — he’s so proud of his brother for finally doing this with Jess, the girl he’s been swooning over since the dawn of time. They’re going to embark on a weird, lovely adventure together, and that’s not including the voyage taking place later. Dean can’t claim he doesn’t feel just a tad of envy, too — all of his bravado and evasiveness aside, he’s unsure if he’ll ever find a love like that. It would be alright if it weren’t what he wanted in the first place, but the more he sees people in love, and the more he falls for Castiel, the more he wants a relationship. For all Dean knows, Castiel could be the  embodiment of his desires; someone who attracts him on physical, mental, and social levels, and who seems patient enough to hang out with the mess that he is.

Then he locks eyes with Castiel again, and his mind supplies an image of him kneeling before him. To propose, not to blow. Well, ideally both. And it’s like Castiel sees exactly what he’s thinking about, because he tilts his head, quirks his mouth in a half-smile and considers Dean, his gaze long and intense.

After eating what must be the most delicious cake in the universe, they make their way to the beach. Jess, absolutely beaming with happiness, sticks a camera in Dean’s hands and tells him to take pictures. Dean goes though the couple of images someone took of the ceremony, and starts walking around. He gets a perfect picture of Sam and Jess jumping, with all their clothes on, into the water, and some very good ones of people splashing about, flute glasses in their hands. The sun is shining in a clear, late June sky, and the wind carries the scent of blooming trees from somewhere far away.

Castiel comes to stand next to him when he stops taking pictures. There’s a smile in his eyes that implies he’s enjoying himself, and a drink in his hand that he offers to Dean.

“Haven’t seen you drink anything. I’d say this is for keeping hydrated, but it’s alcoholic, so I’ll spare the excuse.”

“Did you need an excuse to bring me a drink? We’re here together, you ass.”

“Am I your plus one?” he asks with a wry smile, “I wish I’d known. I’d have brought you something. Is this the first date, or are we already on our second?”

Dean blushes and tries to do something, to deflect this somehow, but all that comes out is a somewhat dreamy sigh. He suddenly remembers some of the first words he’d said to Castiel were you’re stunning , so maybe there’s not much mystery here.

“Can’t wait to get going,” Dean decides to say. “Is your boat all ready? And, uh… are you alright with the idea?”

“Damaris called me earlier, and she’d realized how this would seem from my perspective. You didn’t… Talk to her about my worries, did you?”

“Oh, no. I talked to Bela because I was worried about you, but I trust her. I wouldn’t gossip about your feelings.”

“Hmm. I’m grateful, Dean,” Castiel says slowly, bringing his hand up to touch Dean’s elbow with his fingertips. The contact is brief, and Dean wants to take Castiel’s hand and put it back there, because every touch feels so easy, so right, and like it makes so much sense. “Anyway. Damaris called and said she’s willing to rent a boat, if that’s necessary for me to feel welcome. Of course, that’s nonsense, my ship is stunning and ecological and it makes sense to not pay rent for something I probably own a better version of.”

“You’re quite boat-confident, if I may say so,” Dean huffs, “then again, let’s see what you think when I go through your safety protocols.”

“By all means. I assure you they’re state-of-the-art.”

“Dean!” Sam yells. He and Jess are standing on a large cliff by the sea, gesturing wildly for him to come to them. Castiel starts walking with him.

“I bet they want pictures,” Dean says. Castiel nods towards the camera.

“Do you know your way around those? It seems… Complex.”

“This is only a small SLR,” Dean says, lifting the camera a bit from where it’s looped around his neck, “it’s ridiculously easy.”

“If there’s a button that I can press and it takes a picture, I can use it, but that’s where my skill ends. I’m so bad with photography and I wish I weren’t.”

“This is Jess’. We can take it along and I’ll show you a thing or two.”

“Have you done that a lot?”

“I used to take a ton of animal and scenery pictures in the forest and the mountains near my home. I haven’t had enough time for that recently, because the orders for SMS’s keep on pouring in.”

“I’m sorry about that. Hopefully you get to do what you enjoy, too, not only what you have to do.”

Dean hums and falls silent. They make their way to Sam and Jess, who are a bit tipsy, wet all over, and happier than Dean has ever seen them.

“What do you want, my darlings?”

“Could you take a picture of us right here? With the sea behind us, and the sun shining, and all this? It could make a decent thank you card,” Sam says with a grin.

“Not to mention, a bragging card when people ask what our wedding was like.”

“Of course,” Dean grins. “Just… Scoot closer to each other so you don’t seem like you’re cold.”

They oblige and share a couple of gross kisses before settling in a pose. Dean directs them a little and then takes a picture, and a couple more for good measure. Castiel keeps standing next to him in silence, and Dean is secretly pleased to show this side of himself.

“Alright, thanks,” he says eventually. “Let’s see what we have.”

“I could actually present my wedding gift at this point,” Castiel says and walks to Sam and Jess as they climb down from the cliff. Dean looks at the pictures while listening to their happy conversation, perfectly content with how the pictures turned out — before something catches his eye.

He needs to squint, and zoom, and look at the pictures from several directions, but nothing changes. It’s windy out, but it’s not windy enough for the waves to reach on top of the cliff where Sam and Jess were just standing — but still, there’s water splattering around them, behind them, sparkling in the sunlight like jewels and- and forming what’s a perfectly symmetrical, large heart around them.

It’s nothing short of magical. It’s literally magic. Right here, right now, in Dean’s camera.

He needs to sit down.

“Dean, are you okay?” Sam asks. Dean clears his throat and takes a seat on the stones. Bluntly he nods, even though his mouth has fallen open. He still flips through the images, his hands shaking and his heart beating hard, and nobody says anything.

Chapter Text

Tennis: Marathon

 

Dean’s never packed so fast.

In fifteen minutes, all of his personal items are gathered from the hotel room, and he gives it a once-over before heading out the door. There’s no cell in his body that isn’t pumped with thrills and adrenaline as he makes his way down the stairs.

Sam, Jess, and Bela are standing in the lobby, changed into dry clothes, and as soon as they see Dean, they both give him an absolutely beaming smile. Jess actually yelps a little and comes to give Dean a hug.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” she whispers, “you’re a miracle worker.”

“What? I didn’t do anything. You can thank Castiel.”

“But he’s your catch. So if it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t be going to… Oh my god, I don’t know if I can even handle saying it.”

Dean wants to ask just what Jess means with catch , but it would sound too… Well, it would make him sound either overly eager or overly frightened. So, instead, he makes a job of carrying all their bags to the trunk of the car while waiting for Sam and Jess talk with hotel reception about the refunds. There’s some kind of a payment they’ll withhold for canceling, but it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.

Then, they’re off. The New Port of Mykonos is just a couple of miles away,and Castiel told them to get there as soon as possible; apparently, his boat has been stashed somewhere else and he needs a moment to steer it to the beach. Dean doesn’t question the way Castiel made it sound like he needs to swim to catch his boat before sailing anywhere.

Sarah tags along, because she needs to take care of the rental car ending up back in Athens. Just thinking about this makes Dean giddy all over again, and he needs to physically ground himself by digging his fingertips into his thighs. He resists the urge to take pictures of everything he sees, because no good images come from the backseat of a car at thirty miles an hour, but he takes a couple of snaps of his friends laughing in the car. It’s lovely.

Damaris, Antheia, Petros, and Meg are already at the port when they arrive. For a moment, it’s a spur of introductions, congratulations, and hugs, and then they slowly make their way to the docks.

“I can’t wait to get going. It’s been so long since I last sailed. I need this so much, you guys have no idea,” Damaris mutters, letting her face soak in the sun.

“Same,” Antheia says, “and just so you know, guys, I packed enough meds for all of us in case we get seasick.”

“The waves seem alright for now,” Sam says and wraps his free arm around Jess, who leans back against him. Dean smiles at their disgustingly happy faces.

“Hello, peeps,” a voice says behind them, and Dean turns around to see not only Balthazar, who’s wearing an almost evil smirk, but Castiel as well. He’s changed his clothes into a white tee, actual freaking white capri pants that shouldn’t look as good as they do, and a hoodie wrapped around his shoulders, as one does when one’s a sailor. Dean fights the urge to go give him a kiss on the cheek, and he settles for giving Castiel a Look, one that he’s perfected for whenever he wants to use his eyes instead of his mouth and still make the target of his desire squirm. Castiel catches his eyes, and instead of averting his own gaze and blushing like Dean was completely expecting him to, he lifts his jaw, quirks his eyebrow and fucking challenges Dean. The mood shifts so rapidly that Dean’s knees give a little, and he needs to cough and turn around to not get a fricking erection right here. Would be a bit more awkward that he’s willing to get into now.

They walk across the small strip of land and end up on one of the docks. There’s a couple of boats parked here, and the group follows Castiel and Balthazar, who beeline all the way to the end and stop in front of a GreenLine boat that’s obviously too small for all of them.

“Alright, this jackass wanted to have a heart-to-heart with me,” Castiel starts, “so I didn’t get to pick up my yacht yet. So, here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re going to go back towards the Temple of Hercules, because she’s moored at the Port of Delos. So, we’ll need to try to make do with this for like, half an hour? Fifteen minutes? Depends.”

“Of course you’ve got multiple boats,” Sam mutters, and Dean can recognize the slight envy in his voice. Castiel smiles almost shyly.

“I’ve helped… in many ways. These boats are both working equipment and my home.”

Dean frowns. “You live in these? You don’t… Have an apartment?”

“I don’t, for now. I mean, I do have one in Crete, but I rent it when I’m not around.”

“You island-hop a lot, then?” Bela asks. Dean watches Castiel jump on board first and start taking luggage in with both hands. Dean wants to go help, make himself useful, and more than anything he wants to be seen by this wonderful man as if there were nobody else around.

Selfish, he knows.

“Yes, I do,” Castiel answers with a brief smile, “this happens to be a Mykonos summer and I’m blessed to have a beach to take care of. In other places, and at other times, I can be completely useless.”

“I doubt that,” Bela says with a wide grin.

After they’re all seated, some inside in the cabin and some on the deck, Balthazar and Castiel wrestle for a second about who gets to pilot the boat. Balthazar loses soon enough and comes to sit next to Dean. He gives him a once-over and a wicked grin before talking.

“So, this happened.”

Dean looks around and nods. “So it seems.”

He can see Castiel perfectly from where he’s sitting, and he loses it just a little bit when he puts on a hat — a legit sea captain hat — and glasses before piloting them away from the port.

Oh, what Dean wouldn’t do…

“Stop,” Balthazar says and snaps his fingers in front of Dean’s face.

“Hmm?”

“You’re doing the sex face. Stop doing the sex face at my brother, it’s gross.”

“I can’t,” Dean says and frowns at his own strictness. “I’m too far gone.”

“He’s not your holiday fling. You can go get someone much worse than Cassie, you have no idea what you’re up against if you’re sticking with him.”

Dean shakes his head. “I appreciate this, man. Still, if Sammy went and told someone that likes me that I’m too good for them, I’d kick his ass. It’s none of any brother’s business what their siblings are up to.”

“But you wanted to do that with Sam, right? Wanted to make sure that Jess gal is good enough?”

“Of course.”

“There you go. Big brother stuff.”

Dean rolls his eyes and waits until Bela has surfaced from the cabin and walked to the front. “Sure. Sure, I get it.  But you didn’t check whether I’m good enough. You outright denied me even thinking about approaching your brother.”

Balthazar looks at Castiel, who’s swaying from his toes to his heels and back again as he navigates towards their destination. “I did. You’d understand if you knew.”

Something is close to clicking in Dean’s head, and it’s something he knows he needs to stop thinking about for a while to understand. It frustrates him, but the closer he tries to circle to his possible revelation, the further it slips from him.

*

If Dean was impressed by the GreenLine 33 Castiel took them back to Delos with, he’s blown away by the yacht waiting for them when they get there.

Also obviously a GreenLine hybrid, probably a modified Oceanclass 65, the yacht sports a tall mast, sails currently neatly tucked. As soon as they’re safely moored to the docks at the Port, Dean makes a run for the yacht to see it closer.

Oh, but fuck. He’s seen his fair amount of boats, yachts, and sailboats, but this one is an absolute treasure. Hull painted into that Mediterranean teal-blue color of the sea, light wood panels covering most of the deck that’s visible from here.

“Dean, your bag,” Sam says with an amused huff, and Dean just nods.

“I can take care of it,” he hears Castiel say, “Dean, can you board from there? You can start with checking the lifeline.”

Dean manages a dull nod before he backs out a couple of steps and makes a running leap for it — a completely unnecessary one at that — and ends up at the starboard deck. By muscle memory alone, he starts sliding his hands along the metal railing, leaning towards it a bit. This is pretty close to what he does for a living, the exception being that the boats he works on are usually on dry land and he’s the one either directing the assembly of lifelines or setting them up himself. Sometimes they’re not metal, but rope. Still, checking is mandatory for whatever material.

He makes sure not to get carried away by the interior yet, because he wants Castiel to be there to show it to him. As soon as he’s finished, he heads back and starts transferring luggage from where it’s started to pile up on the dock next to the yacht.  Soon, Castiel boards with a single, powerful step and as he passes Dean, he briefly places his palm on Dean’s elbow. Even through a sleeve, Dean’s skin is left tingling.

As soon as everyone is safely along, they park their asses on the comfortable couches at the front deck. Castiel remains standing, and Dean can sense the excitement beaming off the guy. He’s bouncing on his heels and toes again, clapping his fingers together a couple of times and then taking a deep inhale.

“Okay, guys. Here’s how it’s gonna go. I’m the captain of this vessel, and I’ll get the last say. I will navigate us wherever I see fit, but I’ll also hear your suggestions. I was hoping to see both Ithaca and Kefalonia, because it’s been a while. Of course, we’ll hit Crete, because it’s hands down the most historically significant island, and probably Rhodes too, if we have enough time. Now, what are your schedules?”

“Our flight departs at seven in the morning on the 29th,” Sam says. “So that’s six days.”

Castiel clicks his tongue thoughtfully and walks to the window separating the helm from the forward. There’s a cardboard tube in a container here, and Castiel flips it open, revealing a map of the Mediterranean sea. He pushes it against the weather strip so it stays put.

“Alright. So, I think the leisure speed we’re going to be cruising at is around 15 knots. That’d put us a bit over an hour from Naxos. We could easily make it there tonight, maybe take a swimming break at the wide open, and go shopping for groceries at Old Town in the morning. I do have something for tonight, but no tea, no shade, you’re eating me into bankruptcy before we get to Crete.”

“Sounds good,” Meg says. Dean’s eyes meet hers for a second, and he feels a bit uneasy at the way she looks at him. They haven’t conversed before, and though Dean wants to talk to everyone on board she looks like a recipe for disaster with the smirk she’s giving him.

“Can we see the castle in the morning, too?” Sam asks.

“Of course. It’s really beautiful. I would also like to take Dean to a monastery.”

There’s a moment of awkward shuffling as people try to decipher just what this means. Dean looks up at Castiel, who seems oblivious to the situation, continuing to scrutinize the map.

“Then, we could make it to Thira, if only to see the lighthouse and spend the night at some anchorage. Six hours from that, we’re at Crete.”

“Three days,” Dean hums, “sounds amazing. I’m so ready for this.”

“Me too,” Castiel says, and Dean is probably just wishful thinking the way it sounds like he means more than the voyage. “Now, do any of you get seasick?”

Meg lifts her hand, and again, she’s looking at Dean. Dean tries his best to give her a sympathetic glance, but it probably comes out as a confused one.

“I’ve got medicine for you,” Antheia says kindly. She’s obviously on better terms with Meg.

“Don’t throw up in the ocean, you people. That is what I’ll tell you right now. We’re not here to make a mess. We’re here to respect nature and history. Absolutely no littering. Nothing thrown overboard unless you want to follow it by jumping. Is this clear, crew?” Castiel’s voice is deep with warning. Nobody dares to object, and he nods, satisfied. “There’s four heads under the deck. That’s four places for you to defecate or vomit in. Please, please consider that.”

Sam raises his hand. Castiel nods towards him.

“Will you be cleaning up and emptying the defecating places during our stop? Because you shouldn’t have to do that. I can help you out.”

“I shouldn’t,” Castiel says in a determined tone, “and neither should you, honeymooner. There’s remarkable service at ports, you’d be surprised. I’ll support local workforce and give them our…”

“Our shit,” Meg deadpans. Castiel points his pen at her.

“Exactly.”

“Oh,” Sam says. “That’s really neat.”

“Other things for you to consider. No jumping off the boat if we’re moving. Swimming only after telling me. I’ve got fishing gear, so if you can catch a fish we’ll all be able to eat, you will be rewarded with, uh, a reward of my choosing. No loud music unless it’s mine. Let me sleep if I sleep; sometimes I like to sail at night and that causes me to sleep during the day. Dean, you’ll be helping me out with the sailing part, since I think you know your way around the boom.”

“I’d be honored,” Dean says. Something flashes in Castiel’s eyes again, but he turns towards the map.

“Please be reasonable. Be polite, be kind. Fighting causes evictions. You don’t want me to evict you to a deserted island. Let’s decide what we do after Crete when we get there.”

“What about sleeping?” Balthazar asks. Castiel throws him a glance that borders on deadly.

“You’re not sleeping with me,” he says, “you’re a fucking nuisance to sleep around. Is there anyone who sleeps like a log despite any sound?”

“I do,” Damaris grins, “I can take you for a ride, big boy.”

Balthazar winks at Damaris and they share a laugh. Castiel squints at them, but lets it slide.

“Now that that’s settled, let’s go see the cabin,” he says with a nod.

*

Dean feels like a child in a toy store.

They step inside from the cockpit, and are greeted with light panel, white furniture, turquoise fabrics, glass tables. Dean whistles, long and too high to fully get in that appreciative tone, and steps forward to the galley. Sam is right on his heels, and grins when he sees the look on Dean’s face.

“I guess you’ll be cooking?”

“I fucking need to cook in here,” Dean sighs. “Oh my god, can you believe this? I mean, I was kind of expecting a fridge and a table, but an oven? Like, I can legit catch a fish an’ bring it here for cooking. That’s it, Sammy. This boat is my new home.”

Dean looks past Sam and sees Castiel calmly looking at him, an amused half-smile on his face.

“What?” Dean asks. “Are you going to tell me no?”

“I wouldn’t dare,” Castiel replies. “Please, continue. You’re almost at the saloon.”

They venture a couple of steps forward and meet white couches on both sides. The helm of the yacht is on the right, just next to the companionway leading down. For a moment Dean wants to take a seat in the Captain’s chair, but he also knows Castiel wouldn’t approve; at least, not without asking for permission first. Instead, he heads down.

Because the boat is compact, so are the sleeping quarters; or, rather, staterooms, as they’re called on a boat. Just to Dean’s right there’s a head and a room, and a narrow hallway starts on his left-hand side. Instead of following it, he heads forward to a room with a queen-sized bed.

“I was thinking,” Castiel says, surprisingly close, “that Sam and Jess can have this. They’re on their honeymoon and deserve good sleep… And good shenanigans.”

Dean hums in agreement. “I agree. Start getting your stuff in here, you asshat.”

Sam, currently behind Castiel, rolls his eyes. He’s smiling, though.

“And I’m putting my asshole of a brother next to the engine room. Are you fine with that, Damaris?” Castiel talks loudly, because Damaris is currently still on the upper deck. She yells the affirmative, and Castiel nods.

“Ooh, bunks,” Bela says enthusiastically and rolls into a single bed in a room on their right. “That’s it, I’m never moving again.”

Dean laughs, leaning against the doorframe. He’s just about to open his mouth and suggest he could stay with Bela, knowing she’s safe, when Bela locks eyes with him. Before Dean can see what’s coming, a wicked smile spreads on her face.

“Meg,” she says, “wanna share the room with me?”

Meg frowns and obviously wants to decline, but with half the eyes of the crew on her, she doesn’t want to let Bela down. “Sure. Sounds like a blast.”

It takes Dean a second longer to understand what the reasoning behind Bela’s eagerness to take a stranger for a bunkmate was.

Antheia and Petros would obviously sleep in the same space, being married and all.

And that, in turn, would leave Dean with Castiel.

He looks at Bela again, and she lifts a challenging eyebrow.

“Hm,” Castiel says, unaffected by the low-key power dynamics that just went down, “Antheia, Pathos, I assume you’re willing to sleep outside again?”

“Oh yes, please,” Antheia says quickly. At the weird glances thrown at her, she rolls her eyes gently. “There’s nothing like sleeping at the cockpit with the curtains closed, hearing the ocean roam around you.”

“I’m already envying you,” Sam laughs. “But I’m really pleased with our room. So, what’s next?”

“For now, there’s no plans. You do whatever you feel like doing, get settled in, take a power nap, do whatever you want,” Castiel says with a shrug. There’s restlessness in his eyes, as if he’s regretting this decision more and more. Dean can understand it well enough; he’s letting a lot of people in his home, his sanctuary, his place of solitude.

He wants to talk to Castiel alone, but for now, he can wait. After all, it does seem like they’ll be spending their nights in a queen-sized bed.

 

After Dean has taken his stuff into their stateroom, he returns to the galley. He digs around for some basic supplies and starts busying himself with some late evening snacks. Castiel is sitting in the Captain’s throne, leaning forward to concentrate fully on navigating. The engines are humming lowly, and Dean has to strain his ears to even hear it; a perk of having a hybrid, probably.

Sam and Jess greet them on their way out, and if Dean’s memory doesn’t fail him, all the others have already climbed to the flybridge. He tops some sandwiches with cheese, lifts them on a plate and walks up to Castiel.

“Permission to address you, Captain?”

Castiel holds up his finger and stares at the radar for a bit longer before leaning back with a huff. Then everything from his expression, to the way his posture angles towards Dean,  reveals how quickly has all of Castiel’s focus; and again, Dean’s pretty sure he’s never felt anyone’s attention on him like this. Castiel’s completely tuned in to him, he’s inhaling Dean’s presence, and he’s so interested in what Dean has to say. Dean feels the urge to say something overly dramatic or artsy — anything that would keep the spotlight on him.

What kills him is knowing that the second Castiel finds out just how boring Dean is in reality, he’s going to stop looking at him like this.

He doesn’t want that to happen.

“I made this,” he blurts and hands out the plate. Castiel’s gaze drops to the food and he takes one of the sandwiches with a nod.

“Thank you, Dean.”

“No problem,” Dean sighs. He shouldn’t feel as nervous as he does right now. “So, how are you?”

“I should ask you the same. How are you with sharing a room with me? And — uh. I feel it’s my duty to point out that you’ll be sharing a bed with me as well.”

“Yeah, I’m aware of that,” Dean says with a slight frown, “I don’t mind if you don’t. What troubles me, though, is knowing that Balthazar won’t be cool about it.”

“I’m a grown-up now. I can choose who I share my bed with.”

There’s an obvious second statement being made here, and Dean lowers his gaze. He’s never been this shy with flirting, but with Castiel… Oh, god. There’s something otherworldly about the guy, and Dean is reminded about the way he jokingly told Balthazar he can’t stop because he’s too far gone and boy, didn’t that circle around to bite him in the ass right around now.

He’s falling, and although some ends of his mind are trying to hang onto whatever dignity is left, he feels his world going soft and hazy around the edges of his vision.

“Huh,” he ends up saying. “Alright.”

Castiel gives him a calculating look, but says nothing more. Instead, he leans his jaw against his palm and takes a bite of the sandwich with his other hand. The picture is cute enough to make Dean want to punch something. He can remember Sam going on and on about the phenomenon of cuteness-induced violence when he saw his dog for the first time.

Also, how can Castiel be hot as fuck and the cutest thing Dean’s ever seen in a span of seconds? It’s infuriating.

“So, you cook,” Castiel says eventually. Dean nods.

“Not professionally. I took some classes when I was young and naive and thought I’d be a chef instead of an engineer.”

Castiel’s gaze prompts him to continue, but his mouth is full. Dean doesn’t know what to say, because all that’s going to come out is embarrassing.

“I… Well, I was told it was not a profession I should pursue. I was only fourteen or fifteen, and I was so vulnerable back then. I mean… I wish someone had told me it’s okay to pursue more than one thing that I feel is close to my heart. I’ve kept the skill up, learning new recipes here and there. And you’re in luck, since I live by a lake and fish every now and then, so fish dishes are my specialty.”

There’s a look of determination on Castiel’s face as he brushes his hands together to rid them of breadcrumbs. “Dean, it’s okay to pursue more than one thing that you feel is close to your heart.”

Dean should’ve seen this coming, but he blushes nonetheless. He rubs the back of his neck with an awkward hand and grimaces.

“Thank you, Cas. I think it’s been too late for a long time, but I appreciate the statement all the same.”

“Do you have a physical status that keeps you from practicing as a chef?”

“Uh, no, but-”

“Then why in the world would it be too late?”

“I…” Dean sighs. “I don’t know. I kind of like where I’m at right now. It got me here, right?”

Castiel tilts his head in a way that undoubtedly implies you would have been invited to your brother’s wedding even if you’d been a chef, but he says nothing more. Dean appreciates both his words and his ability to see when to stop.

There’s steps coming from the stairs to the flybridge, Sam walking into the galley a second later. “Hi, guys,” he says, all chipper, “could you auto-pilot for a while, Castiel? I’ll get the champagne, I want to toast with all of you up there.”

Castiel nods, returning to the maps and radar. “In a second, Sam. There’s a box with twelve glasses in the cupboard next to the fridge. You should be able to carry it with no problem. They’re brand new, but kind of cheap, so don’t worry about breaking them.”

“Thanks,” Sam says and pats Dean on the shoulder before venturing below deck to retrieve champagne.

“I want to ask you one more thing,” Dean says hastily, not willing for this moment with Castiel to end. “Are you alright?”

“Hmm? Yes, I believe I am. Is something troubling you?”

“No, I just… There’s a lot of people here.”

“I know. I also know I’ll spend ages alone after you’ve all left, so I’m fine with this. It’s overwhelming, sure, but as long as you don’t talk my ears off while I’m trying to sleep, I’ll manage.”

Dean’s trying to smirk and throw in a suggestive notion about things that could keep him awake, but instead, his smile comes out genuine. Castiel returns it and rises up with a stretch of his beautiful, long arms.

“Alright. I might need to check the maps up there but it should be smooth sailing at this time of night.”

“She’s really beautiful,” Dean says as they walk through the galley and into the cockpit, “I don’t know if I told you that yet.”

Castiel smiles fondly. “I kind of gathered that from the way you swooned while checking the lifelines.”

Dean huffs and shakes his head before climbing up, enjoying the warm breeze running through his hair. Before they join the others, Castiel leans a little closer.

“Although, it makes sense for both of us to be stunning.”

Dean blinks and opens his mouth, but the blush running into all of his upper body renders him speechless. Luckily, Sam makes his way back up with two bottles and the box, and draws everyone’s attention on himself.

“Okay, guys, here we go,” he says, “Dean, help me out with pouring these?”

“Sure,” Dean says with an overly eager nod. Sam hands one of the bottles to him, and together they start digging up glasses. Comfortable chatter fills the air, and Dean’s happy to notice Jess gets along with Damaris like they’ve known each other for a long time. After handing out glasses, Dean gravitates next to Castiel, raising his glass in a low-key pre-toast. Castiel returns the gesture with a smile and Dean wonders if he’s brave enough to finally make that move on Castiel tonight.

He’s not, and he knows it, but if he’d throw the nets in and let Castiel know he’s willing, Castiel would initiate the move.

Sam clears his throat. “So, we’re here. I can’t believe the beauty of this place, and that we get to experience it from this close. I’m grateful to have married right here, with the love of my life, and this wedding gift, Castiel? It’s more than we could ever have dreamed for.”

“I agree,” Jess says with a beaming smile. “There’s so much I’m grateful for today, and I can’t wait to get this journey started — and that’s talking about both the actual, physical trip that we’re taking and the marriage.”

“Bottoms up, then,” Sam says with a grin and lifts his glass. Everyone echoes the movement, and most also finish their half-a-flute-glass with one go. Sam laughs. “I’ve got a box of white wine, if that strikes your fancy. We can get proper drunk.”

“Tempting,” Dean says. “But I’m also ready to keep you company, Castiel.”

“I could drink a glass,” he replies, “and even though I could drink more before I’m too drunk to sail, I’d rather keep myself in check tonight. We can get good and drunk once we get to Crete.”

“Sounds good,” Sam says with a grin. “It’s our wedding night, after all. I might want to retire with my wife soon.”

“Gross,” Meg says, monotone, “I don’t have anyone to retire with.”

“You do have me,” Bela grins. Meg gives her a glance that’s half judging, half interested, and Dean stifles a laugh.

*

The evening is mostly spent getting to know each other. Damaris, Petros and Antheia share stories about their life in Greece and on the island of Mykonos; the married couple talks about growing up together in a village and always only had eyes for one another. Dean thinks the story crosses Sam and Jess’ in many ways — of course, excluding them being best friends when they were kids — and it’s both romantic and causes something resembling anger to boil in Dean’s stomach, too.

He doesn’t want to be bitter, but he hates how everyone around him make falling in love sound so easy — like the “right one” just sweeps right in and everything clicks in place. Okay, realistically speaking, he knows Sam and Jess had worked hard to build their relationship from a long-distance one to a studio apartment one before finally ending up where they’re at right now. Still, even back when Dean was an optimist in the matters of heart, he’d mostly been alone. There was a type of connection he always wanted to find and never did; even though he did date a couple of people when he was younger, he never got the feeling of belonging with someone.

Dean knows his face will soon turn solemn at the thoughts rolling through his mind, so he walks down the stairs and takes a seat on the bathing platform at the very back of the deck. It isn’t a dire invitation for anyone to follow him, only a wild hope — and it’s Castiel, once again, that reads him like an open book.

“Hey,” he says and sits down next to him, folding his legs neatly on the side. “Is everything alright?”

“Yeah,” Dean says with a dry laugh. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to make a dramatic exit.”

“And you didn’t. I just had my eyes on you, so I saw you leave.”

“Mm.”

They fall silent, and Dean leans his head against the half-wall behind him. People are still blabbering on the flybridge and it makes Dean feel warm — but he’s still happy he’s here instead.

“There’s no light pollution here,” Castiel whispers, “the stars are beautiful.”

Dean looks up and lets out a quiet gasp. The Milky Way spreads above them in white and shades of light blue; stars are everywhere around them, illuminating the night, claiming him and Castiel as part of the vast galaxy. On clear winter nights, Dean gets to see stars back in Montana, too, but mountains and trees block his view from the full effect of it. It’s completely different here, on warm waves, unobstructed.

“They really are,” Dean sighs. “I can’t believe I didn’t notice them earlier.”

Castiel hums. “Occupied by the entourage, I’d assume.”

“True.”

Another silence, during which Dean feels Castiel’s eyes on him. Even without looking, he can sense the tension off the guy.

“What is it? You seem like you want to ask something.”

“I just want to know you’re alright, first. Nothing that caused you to make that non-dramatic exit?”

“I,” Dean starts, and licks his lips in attempt to ease his sudden nervousness over the topic they’d soon breach, “I did have a reason, but it’s rather sad. And not as in dramatic, beautiful sad. Just pathetic sad.”

“Okay. Let’s hear it.”

“I was never good at finding love.”

Dean waits for Castiel to immediately start asking questions. He turns to look at him, and on Castiel’s face there’s a soft patience. Dean thanks all of the gods around the perimeter that he ended up here with someone who’s this… Kind.

“I used to date a lot. I… I met some people that were good for me, and some that weren’t. I’m by no standards a newbie when it comes to relationships. I’ve been around the block a couple of times, you get the idea. Once or twice, I was pretty sure ‘this is it’, right? That I’ve found someone I love who loves me back. But at best it was either fireworks or comfort. Never both.”

Castiel nods and moves so he’s fully facing Dean, this time crossing his legs under himself.

“And I love Sam and Jess, and I think Antheia and Petros are really cool,” Dean continues, and in a sudden lack of words, looks out towards the sea.

“But you’re jealous,” Castiel supplies calmly.

“No,” Dean says, “that’s too harsh. I want all the best for them.”

“It’s perfectly acceptable, Dean. Most of us want to feel that connection to someone.”

Just an edge of something in Castiel’s voice, here — an echo of what Dean feels, well hidden, years of expertise.

“But it shouldn’t make me angry towards people I love.”

“Your reaction is valid.”

Dean sighs. “I know. I just… Back when I was younger, I was optimistic. Now, I guess I’m a realist. I don’t expect there to be someone out there who is an answer to all my prayers… And just waiting for me.”

“Maybe you’re worth waiting for.”

Dean’s breath hitches. “Cas-”

“Why did you spend all night collecting trash on my beach?”

Castiel’s voice isn’t loud, but it’s still strong. Dean wouldn’t dream of not telling him the answer.

“You seemed devastated. The way you looked… You do anything you can for the beach and for the people, and you get trash as a reward.”

“I’m not doing it for the reward.”

“And neither was I, when I was picking them up. I couldn’t sleep, and I saw your face in my mind over and over again. So broken. So tired of the trash.”

Castiel exhales slowly. “You’re observant. Almost uncomfortably so.”

“Oh, I’m really not,” Dean laughs.

“One of these days I’m going start giving you lessons on how to give yourself some credit,” Castiel huffs and gets on his feet. “Now, I’m going to get us to Naxos. Then, we’ll have a good night’s sleep.”

 

Chapter Text

Me and my Drummer: The Wings

 

Dean didn’t realize just how tired he’d been before he fell backwards on the bed. As much nervousness as he initially thought he’d have about sharing a bed with Castiel, it turns out sleep is stronger. Hence, he’s unable to wait for Castiel to join him after he’s moored their yacht on the docks of Naxos.

He wakes up to yelling. Castiel’s nowhere to be seen, but the other blanket is rumpled and there’s obviously been someone resting their head on the pillow. Dean resists the temptation of leaning in and sniffing the pillowcase a little, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed instead. He gets dressed and after a quick trip to one of the available heads, he decides to locate the source of the sounds.

The window next to the captain’s chair is open, and Dean can make out at least Castiel’s and Balthazar’s voices coming from the bow. They’re both talking Greek, so Dean imagines there’s people on the dock next to them — and since he can’t understand a word, he busies himself with a breakfast instead.

“Wow, you’re up early,” Sam says, “you, uh, got any sleep?”

“Slept like a baby, Sammy. Must mean your night wasn’t all that.”

“Oh, it was. We mastered the skill of being quiet during college.”

Dean groans. “TMI, bitch.”

Sam sighs happily, and takes a seat on the couch. “Whatcha making?”

“I guess whatever I can find. Did you find out what’s going on out there?”

“I think they’re just asking for recommendations for shopping, or something as plain. Everyone seems to be in good spirits, so at least nothing’s wrong.”

“Right. Oh yeah, we meant to restock today. That means I can use everything there is right now. Have the rest of you eaten?”

“No, I think not. Jess and I wanted to go swimming as well, we were going to ask Castiel about that.”

“Sounds nice. He also owes me some scuba diving, so let’s see how that’ll turn out.”

Sam gives Dean a contemplating gaze but says nothing. They both know it’s not time for a conversation of Dean and Castiel’s relationship yet, but they also both know it’s coming.

Dean decides on making omelets for everyone. He chops up tomatoes and mozzarella, finds some basil in the back of the fridge and hums while he works. Soon enough, Castiel and Balthazar make their way back inside.

“Hey,” Dean says as Castiel makes his way to the fridge to open a can of some fancy mineral water. “Is everything alright?”

“Yes. There were a couple of people I know fishing at the dock, and I asked for the latest information on monasteries. Now I know the perfect place for us to go after grocery shopping.”

“Sounds neat,” Dean says. “Is anyone else coming?”

“That’s what I was wondering,” Balthazar says slyly, “what do the rest of us do while, and I quote, ‘I want to take Dean in a monastery’?”

Castiel tilts his head. “I’m pretty sure the preposition I used was to , my brother.”

“Is there a difference?” Balthazar shrugs. Castiel rolls his eyes and huffs.

“Please don’t be an asshole. It’s only morning and I’m already done with you. I can throw you out anytime.”

“You wouldn’t. You still owe me for-”

“Yes, I know perfectly well what I owe you for,” Castiel hisses and turns to Dean, “I’m sorry my brother’s an asshole. I swear my intentions are pure.”

There’s an opening for Dean to say I wish they weren’t, but since they’re not alone, he decides against it. Apparently, he doesn’t have to say it anyway — there’s a glint in Castiel’s eyes when their gazes meet that implies he understands perfectly. Dean’s heart sinks a little when he realizes no amount of flirting is going to accomplish what he wants to; it’s starting to look like he’s completely incapable of making an actual move.

“Thanks for clarifying,” Dean decides to say with a grin. He flips the omelet for a second and puts it on a plate to hand to Castiel. “There you go. Captain first.”

“A man after my own heart,” Castiel smiles. “Thank you.”

Dean hides his blush by turning back towards the stove, starting on the next one.

 

They end up splitting into groups. Sam and Jess decide to take dinner duty after picking up groceries, and Bela, Damaris, and Petros go with Castiel and Dean while Meg and Antheia stay behind to sunbathe. With zero to no hesitation, Balthazar also tags along and Dean knows it’s because he wants to keep an eye on them. Kind of endearing towards Castiel, but mostly Dean’s just really annoyed.

It’s a bit of a walk uphill to the monastery, but it’s worth it. While Balthazar constantly whines about how much his feet hurt, Dean pairs up with Damaris to admire the view; hills dip into a valley on their right, and on their left, walls built of stone pattern the uphill. Castiel and Petros talk in Greek now, but they keep their voices down as if they wouldn’t want to be heard anyway.

As they start up a narrow road and pass the first ornate arch with a bell on top of it, Castiel gestures for them all to come closer.

“The place we’re going to is a functioning monastery, so we’re not allowed inside. We can take in the exterior and the courtyard, and if you wish, I can share a story or two about the place. It really speaks for itself, though, it’s a holy place.”

Dean walks up next to Castiel, ignoring Balthazar’s death glare.

“Cas, can I ask you something?”

“Of course,” Castiel says. He looks up to Dean with a frown, as if he’s already preparing himself for a tough question.

“Correct me if I’m wrong,” Dean starts then, “but this is a Christian thing, right?”

“Yes. There is the word ‘Christ’ on the name of the monastery, which kind of gives it away.”

Dean huffs. “No need to be an ass about it.”

The corner of Castiel’s mouth turns upwards a little, but he keeps his calm. “I know what you mean, though. You’re interested in gods, and the Christian god is a mighty one. The fact that this is a religion that has been washing out cultures and mythologies for a long time, crusade after crusade, is an uncomfortable one. Even more uncomfortable is that whenever visiting these places, there’s an undeniable sense of holiness to them. Almost like reality is slightly altered, and you can just stand in there and admire the presence of…”

“…of undeniable massacre,” Balthazar retorts from behind them.

“Absolutely that,” Castiel says thoughtfully, “but also centuries and centuries of worship has left an aftertaste to these locations. That’s what I mean by holiness.”

“As long as you remember Christianity is dangerous, I’m all for this lesson,” Balthazar says. Dean wants to ask more about the obvious tension behind the statement, but he doesn’t know Balthazar well enough to do so.

*

Castiel is right.

As soon as they’re up on the hill and take in the grand monastery in the midday sun, they all fall silent. There’s a couple of other people around the premises, but the residents are nowhere to be seen. Eventually, Castiel starts talking about the history of the place; his smooth, dark voice fills the air and wraps itself around Dean’s bones, reverberating enough to force him closer and closer to Castiel. Balthazar forgets to stuff himself between them for a while as he walks around the yard with a solemn, almost angry look on his face.

Somehow, the members of their group stray from each other. Dean makes his way to the courtyard, and he marvels at the feeling the place rouses in him; the stone walls radiate with the sense of complicated history. As familiar as Dean is with the Christian god (thanks to his mother, mostly), here, that god feels like a stranger. At first, he thinks of Christianity as a minority in Greece, brought in by people who wanted to share what they’d found with people. That almost makes him feel bad for them — they must’ve gotten a lot of negativity and prejudice shown to them by locals, and they were once new. Then he ends up putting it to perspective and gets angry instead. He walks among the walls and runs his hand on the stones, wondering how much different the whole world would’ve turned out if people acted like they did on Delos: welcoming all worshippers of all gods.

He hears rustling from one of the doorways and turns to see Castiel sneaking into the courtyard. Dean frowns, but he seems so focused on getting away from something he doesn’t even acknowledge Dean’s presence. So, Dean keeps on walking around the area, taking a picture here and there, and keeping a close eye on the results. If there’s a surprise supernatural element in a photo, Dean doesn’t want to notice it only when they make it back to the ship.

There’s a beautiful fig tree growing in the corner of the courtyard, and the sun filters through the leaves and onto the stony ground. Dean kneels to get the perspective right, and just appreciates the view for a moment. This tree must be older than him by a landslide; it looks like it’s always been here. The residents of the monastery must take good care of their immediate garden, since everything both inside and outside the walls flourishes.

Eventually, Dean raises his camera and takes a couple of pictures. Just as he’s going through them to see if there’s anything more than what he shot, Castiel’s voice comes from behind him.

“Hello, Dean.”

Dean all but jumps, and tries to regain his dignity by standing up. “Geez! Warn a guy, okay? I didn’t see you coming.”

“Oh? I was pretty sure you were looking at me before.”

Dean lifts his brows. “Huh, you did? And you just pointedly looked away?”

“No, I was in my thoughts.”

“I saw you then, but I didn’t hear you sneak up on me like this.”

Castiel nods, and turns his head up to look at the tree. “Magnificent, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. It looks like it has stories to share.”

“It might have. You’d have to get in touch with the nymph that guards it to find out, though.”

Dean nods. “You’re right. I currently lack the means to contact a nymph, though.”

“Well, all of us do,” Castiel hums, smiling for a reason Dean can’t tell. “They’re evasive.”

“So I’ve heard.”

Dean keeps his gaze on the tree, but he feels Castiel turn his eyes on him. It makes Dean wonder what he looks like from this angle.

“I never returned the compliment,” Castiel whispers after a while. Dean frowns, trying to catch whatever thread Castiel is pulling at, but he continues soon enough. “You’re stunning, too.”

Dean coughs and quickly turns to look at his feet as if it would hide the blush that rushes to his cheeks. He can hear Castiel’s amused huff and he wants to kick himself for being this easily swooned.

“Uh,” he starts, although he doesn’t know what the hell he should say, “no.”

“Excuse me?” Castiel asks, and Dean sees him tilt his head in his peripheral vision.

“No, I’m not. But thanks for the sentiment.”

There’s a swift movement. Castiel steps forward and Dean turns to him, unable to remember when was it that he got this close to the wall — the cool tiles hit his back, forcing the air out of his lungs. Castiel leans a hand next to Dean’s head and stares, and Dean can feel his very essence try to reach out to Castiel, and it would be really nice if his muscles weren’t all cramping and uncooperative.

“Do you accuse me of lying?” Castiel asks lowly, his words running through Dean’s body in shivers. His tone is almost threatening, but it’s also almost desperate.

Dean swallows. “I don’t think you’re lying. I think you’re biased, in a way. You want to think that because you want to return the compliment.”

“You’re wrong,” Castiel says. “Ever since I saw you…”

They fall silent because they’re leaning towards each other. There’s no way Castiel isn’t thinking what Dean is, there’s no way every part of his being isn’t longing to breach that gap between them and kiss, and kiss and kiss until they’re unsure of the ownership of their limbs and hearts. Dean can see Castiel’s pupils are dilated, his mouth is slightly open and his breathing a little heavy, and then they’re closer, and closer, and Dean wants to skip the almost-part into actual touching, like, yesterday, his whole body is on fire—

And then, Castiel presses against the wall and pushes away, lowers his gaze and nods. “I’m sorry, Dean. I…”

Dean feels shattered. He can’t believe what happened, and what fucking didn’t happen, and he wants to grab Castiel’s shoulders and shake the mortified, devastated look from his face. Hands twitching but forcing to keep them still, Dean sighs.

“Thanks, then.”

Castiel looks up at him then, his blue eyes full of both wonder and confusion. Dean clears his throat before he clarifies.

“I believe you, somewhat,” he says, and a small amount of frustration flares inside him — one that wants to protest because if Castiel was serious, he would’ve followed through with that kiss and that means your ass is ugly, Dean, but he says nothing.

*

Sam and Jess make beef stew, but it does little to ease Dean’s mood. He chomps through his dinner, brooding silently, and then escapes to his stateroom.

It’s infuriating. Dean’s absolutely infuriated by what just went down at the monastery — and not because of what Castiel did, either. No, Castiel owes Dean nothing; flirting doesn’t equal promise, and Dean knows that well enough from how he’s behaved with people.

He’s infuriated by the situation, and that he, at thirty-four years old, is unable to control his own desire. He knows it’s his own fault for expecting that just because Castiel reciprocates his flirting, he’d want to take it as far as Dean does.

What the hell is that, anyway? He knows full well that Castiel’s already more than a holiday fling for him. What is he even hoping to achieve, here?

It doesn’t even matter anymore. Balthazar gets what he wants, now that Dean’s slowly deciding to forget about it before his jerk brain sees more things that aren’t there.

Damaris gets what she wants.

Dean can almost hear how the wheels start turning in his head. Even though he’d been drunk, he still remembers the conversation he had with Damaris at VOID a couple of nights ago. Damaris talked about jealousy and heartbreak, and that she hoped she could tell what she knew to save Dean from getting hurt.

Without even realizing it, Dean’s on his feet again, leaving the unmade bed that mocks him with the easy domestic atmosphere of their stupid sleepover with Castiel. He doesn’t know if he’ll be able to sleep next to him again — and he’s so angry at himself, because Castiel is innocent in all this and he still has to deal with Dean’s moodiness.

Since he’s a bit wobbly on his feet when he walks, they are probably moving again. The engines are off, but that doesn’t mean Castiel wouldn’t have utilized the sails. Damaris is sitting cross-legged in the saloon, a book of mythology in her hands. A quick peek outside shows they’ve left Naxos and are sailing towards Crete now — and that the sails are indeed in use. Images of Castiel pulling the halyard, his muscles working under that radiating skin of his, fill Dean’s head. He’s quick to shake them off.

He flops down on the seat opposite Damaris. “Do you have a minute?”

She looks up from the book and narrows her eyes, considering. “What’s up, Dean?”

“I’m… Conflicted.”

Damaris immediately puts the book aside and curls her legs against her. “I see. Is there anything I can do? I kind of sense you’re angry.”

“Sensed right,” Dean mutters. “I don’t know. I… Need to know what you were talking about back at the bar.”

“I talked about a lot of-”

“You know what I’m talking about,” Dean says gruffly, and deflates a little. “I’m sorry for interrupting you. I’m just… I’m so on edge right now.”

“I’d start with breaking that edge first. You’re too upset to function.”

“But I need answers,” he sighs.

Sam passes through the saloon, nodding to both of them politely before heading out. Damaris sighs.

“Sure. But not here. I’ll ask Castiel if we can moor around Ios for a while and go for a swim.”

“I’m,” Dean says quickly, “not… ready to swim again.”

Damaris rolls her eyes fondly. “Alright. Balthazar should be on the flybridge, so let’s go to our room.”

The entrance is a hatch on the floor of the cockpit, and they descend a ladder to get to the beds. The engines are behind a white wall, now silent, and even though the small space doesn’t have a head of its own, it looks cozy enough. Damaris gestures for them to sit on the bed. Her face is kind, but also stern. Dean is not at all sure if he’s going to get the information he needs.

“You don’t have to tell me about Castiel’s past, or anything. I know it’s his story to tell, and I respect that. But I want to know what you meant by the heartbreak.”

Damaris licks her lips, considering. Her gaze never leaves Dean’s, and finally, she sighs. “Okay. But I hope you aren’t putting too much faith in me, or in this story. It’s a lot lamer than you might have imagined in your head.”

“Mostly, I’m just puzzled. I don’t know what’s going on.”

“That’s fair. So, I’ve been friends with Castiel long enough to say I know him. I know he lived in the States, but I don’t know where he’s originally from. Anyway, we’ve been hanging out for around ten years, give or take a year. During those years… Well, we’ve seen a lot together, and trusted each other with a lot, but Castiel’s complete negligence towards anything romantic still remains a mystery to me. He doesn’t owe me an explanation, but sometimes I worry whether there’s something traumatic behind there, and feel a little sad that he doesn’t trust me enough to tell me.”

Damaris sucks in a long breath and kinks her head from side to side. Dean automatically does the same, but he feels he’s completely unable to breathe.

“And in hindsight, maybe I should’ve told you already. You’re obviously interested in him, but he’s as emotionally unavailable as the gods you’re looking for… If not more.”

“Doesn’t explain you using the words ‘jealousy’ and ‘heartbreak’ though, does it?”

“Well, uh. You’re not the first one who’s been interested in pursuing something romantic, or sexual, with him. There have been people before you, and there will be more after you. And he might care about everyone he meets, and he does, he’s an ass like that. He cares about everyone he meets, even those that treat him poorly. That might seem like mutual interest, but it’s never there; he’s never chosen a person over his love for the sea, or agreed to stay put for someone. He’s a traveler, a nomad of sorts, and no matter how jealous you get of the ocean, he’ll always choose it.”

“Of course,” Dean huffs, “I mean, I’ve gathered it’s his home. I don’t know why anyone who cares for him would demand such a sacrifice from him.”

Damaris nods, looking up at the ceiling for a while. “I respect his desire to travel, but like I said, I’m worried about him.”

“Have you ever considered that he might not be broken? That he’s just aromantic?”

“Well, of course I have, and I’ve asked him whether he falls somewhere in the spectrum. He said he doesn’t, and he was almost surprised by the fact that I even thought about it. I know intuition has little place here, but I think the people that fall for him aren’t the only ones who get their heart broken a little. Of course, he’s usually back to his own self in a couple of hours after turning down someone’s advances, but it’s like… It’s almost like he’s waiting for something that doesn’t exist.”

“True love? Is he one for soulmates?”

“Maybe. Or maybe he’s had a wild youth and he regrets that, and wants to stay away from all kinds of drama.”

“I’m not sure about that. The things I’ve been on the receiving end of from him have seemed pretty dramatic.”

“What do you mean?”

“We’ve almost kissed twice. Today… It was really fucking close. Like inches close. Like European centimeters close. He pinned me against the wall and looked like he wanted to devour me. Then he just… Didn’t.”

She falls quiet. Dean slaps his hands against his thighs and gets up, ready to leave.

“That’s new,” Damaris finally says, “are you sure it wasn’t you who initiated it?”

“Well, I might’ve wanted to do it for a long time, but since he hadn’t initiated it before, I thought he wasn’t interested. Pretty sure it was my back that was against the wall.”

*

Dean’s thoughts refuse to stay still even after his discussion with Damaris. He can’t wrap his mind around what’s going on. For all he knows so far, Castiel is interested in him — if his shameless flirting is anything to go by. Damaris had painted a whole different picture, but was her image of Castiel right either? She could believe whatever Castiel wanted her to believe, but the reality could be completely different.

Is Castiel fucking playing him? Is he trying to make Dean believe he’s interested in —  

In what , actually?

What would Castiel achieve by making Dean believe he’s interested? Thinking about this makes Dean feel hollow inside — as much as he’d like to pretend he knows Castiel a little, he really doesn’t. That means he can’t even begin to guess what Castiel’s game is here.

It’s all too exhausting, so he makes a solemn decision to ignore Castiel for now. It’s not as though Dean feels he’s owed anything by Castiel, he just doesn’t like the feeling of insecurity, of not knowing what’s expected of him. If he’d never shown any interest towards Dean, he could have a mature conversation with him… But seeing that the whole problem is caused by Castiel’s flirting, that’s an irrelevant scenario. And right now, Dean doesn’t trust himself enough; if Castiel came to talk to him, he might snap at him, and end up making things worse. Not understanding situations makes him feel inadequate as a person, and communicating when feeling inadequate… Definitely not his forte.

So he does what he’d do even if he wasn’t feeling a bit lost in a multitude of ways; research. He’s had very little time to think about the picture of Sam and Jess, but as he pulls up his laptop and starts transferring files from the camera, he sees it again. It’s almost a relief to notice it has stayed exactly the same — moving images might be too much for him to stomach — but simultaneously, he’s a bit freaked out. He remembers the spot the picture was taken, and there’s no way the wind would’ve made the waves that high.

He doesn’t immediately want to start thinking about which god in Greek mythology could’ve done this, because that would include wishful thinking, but still… There’s no way this was an accident. It’s too beautifully crafted for a natural phenomenon. It’s too perfectly placed in ratio to Sam and Jess. It doesn’t have to be a god who did this, though; it could also be a nymph residing around those parts. Some of them love to play tricks, so maybe a dryad or a nereid was present?

Maybe assuming it would be one of the original, actual gods would be pushing it. Dean remembers Gaia sort of passed her godliness on to Demeter, and that was ages ago — nowadays, the God of Earth could be someone completely different. It could be a different god altogether, like the trickster god Hermes, or someone he’s passed his mantle to. All of this feels like a reach, but reaching is about as close as Dean gets with his research anyway.

Idly, he starts turning pages in his main file. He’d remember if there was something about gods tampering with pictures, so he’s not even sure what he’s looking for — but he needs to keep working so he won’t start feeling desperate. He’s made it this far, but will he return home with nothing? It feels oddly sickening to remember it’s just a couple of days until their flight back home, and that if he does want something to do with Castiel, he should’ve made his intentions clear by now.

And here he is again, unable to do research, and thinking of Castiel instead. What is wrong with his head?

Salvation comes in the form of a knock on the door. Dean exhales sharply and walks to open it.

“Hi,” Balthazar says and gives him a once-over, “wanna fish?”

“Excuse me?”

“Bela said you’d be up to fishing. We’re just setting up on the starboard side. You’re welcome to join.”

Dean instantly feels enthusiastic to say yes, but takes a step back anyway. “Who’s gonna be there?”

“Well, moi , Bela, Antheia said she’d wanna give it a go, I guess that’s it. Enough rods for ev’rybody.”

“Okay, I’m in,” Dean says, “lemme just change real quick.”

“Sure, bud. We’ll be waiting.”

 

Fishing has always been a way for Dean to unwind. The second he throws the line, he releases a breath that’s been stuck inside his chest since he boarded the plane. The equipment is first-rate — the rod is light, the reel well oiled, the bait, well, various. Even better, Dean only catches a glimpse of Castiel when he hoists up a white-blue flag that implies someone’s going down for a dive. It piques Dean’s curiosity, but then there’s some nibbling at the end of his line and he concentrates on it fully .

It’s silent work. Dean enjoys the way even Balthazar knows that talking about anything would ruin the mood, and instead of petty commentary about how Castiel and Dean have been too close to each other, he keeps his thoughts inside. Bela is the one who gets bored first, and she gives Dean a short squeeze on his shoulder as she passes by. Even though they don’t know each other all that well, she’s obviously onto Dean’s foul mood and Dean, in turn, knows he can talk to her if he feels like it.

He doesn’t. He knows that the next person he needs to talk to is Castiel, and he’s not ready for that yet. Especially since right now, Castiel is getting ready to dive.

 

*

First, it’s really calm. Dean is ready to fall asleep in the saloon, since he’s hesitant about returning to the stateroom in fear of Castiel. After reefing the sails, Castiel had retreated to the flybridge, and Dean can hear his footsteps every now and then. At one point, he’d overheard Castiel say he wanted to keep sailing all night to make it to Crete in the morning. Balthazar at least tried to talk him out of it, and Dean isn’t sure of the outcome.

Then there’s a knock on the roof of the saloon. Dean opens his eyes and frowns at the ceiling. Was that an accident just now?

No, there’s a definite rap of knuckles against the surface, now for the second time. Dean sighs, considering — Dean has no doubt Castiel knows he’s here, so this is definitely him wanting Dean’s attention . Should he take the bait?

A third set of knocks, more urgent this time, and Dean yanks himself up. Right, better see what this is about, but he’s really not up for that heart-to-heart in the middle of the night. He watches his feet on the cockpit to not wake the people sleeping just under the hatch, and ascends to the flybridge.

“Cas-”

Castiel presses a finger against his own lips, not meeting Dean’s eyes. Instead, he nods to the port side. Dean turns to look and first, he’s not sure what he’s seeing. Because everything is dark and stars — but on the horizon there’s pitch black darkness that feels suffocating even from this distance.

“Dean,” Castiel says lowly, his voice as full of menace as a storm, “brace yourself.”

“What’s happening,” Dean whispers. Castiel walks to the edge of the flybridge and Dean joins him soon after. They’re now facing south, and it’s bone-chillingly quiet.

“We need to turn back,” Castiel says, “we need to get to Ios. A storm is coming.”

“A- Storm?”

“And not an ordinary one. We… I’m not sure if we have a chance here.”

Dean gasps. “Surely you’re joking?”

Castiel’s profile is serious, and he keeps on gazing into the horizon. A flush of panic spreads into Dean’s chest, but the situation feels too absurd to take seriously. It refuses to sink in.

“Alright, let’s do this,” Castiel sighs almost wearily, and sits on the chair. He presses a couple of buttons on the console, and the engines roar into life. Had they been drifting until now?

“Can I help?” Dean asks, “I only know boats technically, so I don’t know how much help I am with actual sailing, but-”

“Keep an eye on the storm. Are you good with approximations? Approximately divide the sky in four wide stripes. The blackness is now around one quarter, yeah?”

Dean tilts his head, staring into the open sea. “Yeah, it is.”

“It’s moving faster than it seems. We’re going to have to run for our lives. Tell me when it’s two quarters, and hold on tight.”

Dean wraps his forearms around the flybridge lifeline and exhales. He doesn’t believe a black cloud on the horizon could equal what sounds like the worst storm ever, but he does believe Castiel — besides, there’s a panic in his voice Dean has never heard before.

Over the engines, now loud enough to probably wake up everyone, Dean hears thunder. It’s rolling in from the south, and along with it the clouds move, dark, looming, unnatural. He goes through gods that could cause this, but there are so many — Zeus, obviously, but would he bother making waves without Titans to beat? Poseidon’s a more likely candidate, to be honest, God of Storms and all that. Still, it could be anyone else just as well.

Dean can’t shake the feeling that it’s meant for them; for their boat to never reach Crete. Considering how much significance the island holds for the gods, it wouldn’t exactly be a surprise — but it would imply their voyage is a threat, somehow. Apart from Dean’s enthusiasm to find the creature that saved him, there’s nothing that even remotely has anything to do with gods… Right? Then again, Dean doesn’t know all of the people on the boat well enough to vouch for them.

“Two quarters,” he says then. Castiel swears under his breath and presses a couple of buttons more.

“Like I said, I don’t know if we’ll make it,” he says then, “but if we don’t —”

Thunder rolls across the sky in a boom. Dean hears a faint yell that might be his own, and he grabs the lifeline tighter.

“I don’t know if you should be here,” Castiel says, and Dean realizes he has to yell now — the wind is rising and making the waves rise. “You might be safer inside.”

“I don’t care,” Dean yells back, “you asked me here for a reason. I’m not leaving you alone.”

Castiel glares at Dean, but doesn’t file any further complaints. Instead, there’s genuine fear on his features, and Dean fights the impulse to wrap his arms around the guy. It must feel like hell, knowing you’re to blame for the entourage to have ended up here in the first place, and now everyone’s life is on the line.

“Hit me up at three quarters,” Castiel shouts. He’s already maneuvering with great difficulty, the waves almost reaching the gunwales, and Dean feels so fucking useless just staying put. Almost instinctively, he raises his hand and gives Castiel’s shoulder a firm squeeze. Castiel doesn’t react, but Dean hopes his intentions carry through nonetheless.

For a couple of minutes, there’s nothing but waves, wind, and the rolling of thunder. Just as Dean opens his mouth to inform Castiel of three quarters, Castiel gets on his feet.

“Alright, just a bit further and we’re back on Ios. I don’t know how we’re going to moor in this weather, we might take some damage, but I- we could make it.”

“Three quarters,” Dean says before he forgets, “we just need to get to a point where we can tie the yacht.”

“Fuck, that’s close,” Castiel says, looking up at the storm. Lightning blinks somewhere in the clouds, but doesn’t breach them yet. “Okay, Dean. Now, don’t argue with me and get back inside. Tell people to go below, and stay below.”

Dean manually forces in a breath or two, and nods. “Yes, captain. But don’t start any —”

Castiel bangs both of his hands against the console, gripping tight, and grits his teeth while yelling. “Dean! Go!”

Biting his tongue, Dean walks down the stairs and into the galley, where Sam and Jess are standing with wide eyes.

“Let’s go,” he says dully, “captain’s order to go below.”

“What’s going on?” Jess asks.

“It’s a storm. Castiel’s worried we won’t make it,” Dean continues, seeing no point in lying. He then ushers them forward, taking support from the surfaces as he goes.

“Why didn’t he come?”

“He’s trying to navigate back to Ios. He yelled at me enough times to get his point across.”

Sam freezes, turning around to face Dean. “And when did yelling equal you leaving people alone facing certain death?”

“Sammy, fuck, don’t —”

“I fucking will. Jess, go below. We’re going to help Castiel.”

Dean looks pleadingly at Jess, who just shrugs. She’s already all too aware of his husband’s heroics to be bothered with trying to stop him.

“Alright, fuck,” Dean says, running a hand across his face, “let’s do this.”

*

By the time they’ve somewhat successfully moored the boat, everything is thunder, lighting, and pretty much an airborne whirlpool. They manage to pull the yacht on the shore just enough to stop it from rocking on the waves, and after that, they all head below.

Dean cleans up the bed from his research material, and Castiel takes a seat on his own side. He sighs heavily before pressing his face to his hands.

“That was a bit too close to my liking,” he says feebly. “Dean, I’m sorry for yelling at you.”

“It’s okay,” Dean says quickly, “I just wanted to make sure you didn’t plan to sink with your ship.”

“No… No. I didn’t have that planned.”

There’s something below the surface, but Dean knows better than to poke it right now. Castiel flops over to his back and presses his eyes shut.

“Do you need something? I could go make you a sandwich.”

“No. I appreciate it, though. I just need to sleep a little.”

“Of course,” Dean says and lies down on his own side. Sleep catches up with him immediately.

 

This time, Dean wakes up with Castiel still next to him. It’s dim in the room, but some light passes through the open door and for a while, Dean is unable to move. Instead, he uses a moment to shamelessly watch Castiel’s features from up close — the curve of his full lips, the way his bones are carved under his skin like he’s an artistic masterpiece. His eyelids are twitching and his breathing is uneven, and when he flinches and frowns, Dean needs to physically restrain himself from taking Castiel into his arms. How easy it would be to just finally fall together and forget complications ever existed.

Of course, he doesn’t do that. He needs Castiel to be awake and fully consenting to any activity. Still, right here, right now… It’s hard to remember what had him so upset in the first place.

Then, Castiel’s eyes open. Dean’s breath catches at the blue blue blue blue, brighter than any star,  but there’s a seriousness in his eyes, as if he’d been planning all night to start a conversation.

“Are you mad at me?”

Dean frowns gently. “What do you mean?”

“You’ve been upset since our visit to the monastery. I acted foolishly, and I don’t think I fully indicated how sorry I am.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry about,” Dean whispers, although what he really wants to say is please don’t be sorry for wanting to kiss me.

“Yes, there is. I… It’s obvious I’m…”

Dean’s mouth falls open, but he tries to school his features into calm. Is Castiel truly going to say some actual words, here?

“It’s obvious I’m attracted to you. I don’t know if there’s… Wishful thinking, or something, that makes me think you feel the same way.”

Courage for courage. Dean’s ears are burning, but he nods. “Yes, I do.”

Castiel lowers his eyes in an absolutely bashful expression. Dean wants to touch him, brush his cheek with a thumb, tame his bed hair with a couple of strokes, and pull him in for a kiss.

“Unfortunately, though, things are complicated, and I don’t know if there’s a way to explain it well enough so you’d understand.”

“I want you to know,” Dean says quickly, because he doesn’t want to hear Castiel’s explicit rejection this early in the morning, “that I never was angry with you. I was frustrated because I can’t understand the situation. I mean, I… Did I read the situation all wrong? Did you want to kiss me, like, real bad?”

“Oh, yes,” Castiel says with a lopsided grin, “real bad. Bad enough to almost make me forget my resolve.”

“Which is?”

“I was attracted to you when we met. I promised myself I would never follow through.”

“Why?” Dean asks, trying to keep his voice calm. His frustrated mood is well on its way back if Castiel isn’t going to explain, in simple enough terms, what the hell he’s talking about.

“I… I can’t. I’m sorry, Dean, that’s all I’m going to tell you.”

There’s sorrow in Castiel’s eyes — enough to make Dean believe he’s truly sorry.

“I don’t want to pry. I just… I’m just feeling kind of lost, here.”

“I understand. I do wish things were different.”

“That’s never going to change?”

“I’m afraid not.”

Dean nods, and bites his lip to keep from bursting into tears. Castiel never looks away from him, but his eyes are getting colder.

“It’s going to take me a while to see you neutrally,” Dean ends up saying with a sigh. “I… Have been sort of lost in you.”

Castiel suppresses his own sigh with a well-placed yawn. For a second, he seems like he’s losing his resolve again, but apparently he’s not done kicking Dean while he’s already down.

“Well, it might help to remember that it’s your… mundane, depraved desires that are leading you astray, and not me.”

Dean feels his chest physically collapse, and before Castiel can see his blush, he’s on his feet. He knows Castiel is right — he’s always known that lowly, base things such as sex shouldn’t stand in the way of higher virtues, and it hasn’t been a problem since he finished his faux-rebellious phase of loose sex. He heads up  the companionway and all the way out, trying to keep his brain from thinking about John Winchester -- but just like always during moments of weakness, John’s not going anywhere.

It’s still windy and rainy outside, but Dean can’t be on the boat right now. As soon as his feet hit the sand of Ios, he’s running — running to keep Castiel out of his mind, running to keep his thoughts out of his mind, running to keep John out of his mind. It’s so fucking excruciating to realize nothing has changed; Dean had come here to find out more about gods, and instead, he let himself be swayed by his carnal desires .

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck . Never again.

He bends over to catch his breath, and faintly hears thunder rumbling around him. If he stays out of high locations he should be fine, and it’s not like the storm is as strong as it felt during the night. He starts walking now, suddenly realizing his feet are bare and cold, and tries to make it somewhere he can spend a couple of hours. It doesn’t seem like they got to a part of the island where stores or restaurants or houses are a thing, so the best he can do is to try and find a shed, or a cave, or a dedicated tree.

Despite the storm, Dean is caught off guard when lightning strikes somewhere behind him; definitely on the ground somewhere not too far away. He picks up his pace just in case it continues to get closer, and does perfectly well until he steps on — what the fuck is that? Dean sits down next to some bushes, swears at the blood starting to seep from his sole, and squints into the sand. Half buried, there’s a spiky ball of sorts and when Dean reaches out to it, another strike of lightning hits a couple of feet away, making him yell. He scrambles backwards, trying to get back on his feet, but the sand is too soft for quick movements, and fuck this, fuck all of this — fuck thinking this storm is a coincidence just happening to get closer and closer to Dean, fuck thinking anything besides trying to slay any god he comes across, and fuck the fact that it’s the repercussions of his carnal desires that ends up killing him.

Lightning hits fast now — on Dean’s left, on his right, and as he starts running, it nearly catches his heels. There might be sound around, but he can’t hear it; there’s just the thump-thump-thump of his heart trying to escape his ribs to survive the inevitable blow, his lungs feel like they’re on fire, and finally —

Finally, there’s a hit. He falls over, face-first into the sand, and the weight of death is on top of him, breathing heavily, yelling at him. Does death yell? Now it does. Dean turns his head to the side, and faintly recognizes the tan sleeve of Castiel’s jacket where his hand is pushed into the dirt next to Dean’s face.

“Dean!” Castiel yells through the rumble of thunder, the pouring rain, the wind that makes Dean’s eardrums hurt. “Are you hurt?”

“What are you doing?!” Dean yells back. Castiel shifts his legs enough for Dean to untangle himself, but he never completely lets go — as Dean turns around in Castiel’s arms and fumbles into a half-sitting position, their foreheads automatically press together and it’s a million shades of beautiful, and overwhelming, but something’s wrong.

“Please answer me,” Castiel says through gritted teeth. “Are you hurt?”

“Uh, I hurt my leg in something sharp back there, but as for the thunder, I’m unscathed,” he says and backs up an inch to look around him. Thunder is rolling everywhere around them; there’s blinding light after blinding light marring the trees, the bushes, the rocks, and after a while of focusing and refocusing, Dean’s sure he sees a lopsided dome around them.

“Look at me,” Castiel says quickly, “please don’t look up. Just look at me.”

Dean lowers his gaze and nods. Castiel mirrors the gesture, and for a while, they’re lost in each others’ eyes. Dean sees there’s something Castiel wants to say, but it isn’t the moment.

The more lightning bolts circle their vicinity, the better Dean sees the formation. There’s something around them that repels all the damage — Dean can faintly smell it burning even though he can’t see it — and as much as he tries to understand what’s going on, he draws a blank. He doesn’t look up again, but as he watches Castiel’s pained expression and the sweat forming on his forehead from clear effort, something heavy settles in his chest.

“Castiel,” Dean says, voice calm, must be calm now, “what are you shielding me with?”

Chapter Text

The Cardigans: You’re the Storm

 

 

Eventually, as they tend to do, the storm passes. Castiel is shaky, in obvious pain, and when he gets on his feet he wobbles. Dean instantly becomes his support; he wraps a gentle arm around Castiel’s middle and they slowly start making their way back towards the waterline. Dean can barely start wondering how much time Castiel needs before he talks, when the silence is broken.

“I didn’t mean to say anything like that,” Castiel says. “I’m so sorry, Dean. When I panic — when I find myself in a situation where I don’t know how to act, I regress back to how I was raised. I know it’s not an excuse for what I said, and I’ve got no words as to how sorry I am.”

“Religious upbringing?” Dean guesses half-heartedly. Castiel shrugs.

“I was taught any physical activity was less valuable than gaining knowledge, or studying, or the art of philosophy. It’s been a long while since I stopped believing in that. It just… I’m lost with you, Dean. I…”

“Hold that thought,” Dean says slowly, “first, tell me what happened in there. And please, tell the truth.”

Castiel huffs. “I take great pride in my honesty. I would never come up with a flimsy lie to cover my tracks.”

“Wow. Mighty words.”

“How much do you… Want to know?”

“I saw you shield me with something. You’re hurt. Based on the smell, whatever you were shielding us with is still burning.”

“Yes.”

“What is it?”

Castiel lowers his gaze, and Dean has never seen him so utterly tired. “My wings.”

Dean almost trips on his feet and stops. Castiel cringes at the sudden pull.

“Your-”

“Yes, Dean. I have wings.”

Dean frowns. “Show me.”

Castiel blinks. “Excuse me?”

“Show me your wings.”

They both look around, but the beach is empty after the rain. Castiel runs his hand along his jaw. “Are you sure what you’re asking of me?”

“Are you afraid I won’t like what I see?”

That elicits a head dip. “Immensely.”

Dean brushes his hand on Castiel’s bicep. “You don’t have to do this if you’re not comfortable, but trust me; there’s no way in hell I wouldn’t like what I see.”

“They’re really bad right now, if the pain is anything to go by. So, uh, prepare for that.”

Dean nods towards the cliffs and bushes on their left. “Maybe not ideal to do it here. Let’s seek some shelter first.”

Castiel nods, but when Dean starts walking, he grabs his wrist. “You aren’t freaked out?”

Dean frowns. “Why would I be?”

“Well… I have wings.”

Dean fights a smile, and he hopes that when he fails, it comes out as soft as he feels inside.

“You saved me with them,” he says and they start walking again, “that’s amazing for two reasons. First, you saved me even though… Even though I just stormed out like that. Even though being with me must have been everything but easy. Second of all, you know, wings. They are amazing by themselves.”

“They’re big,” Castiel says slowly. “I don’t know what kind of fairy wings you’re expecting, but these are proper wings.”

Dean rolls his eyes and stops where they are now — between a couple of tall cliffs and a shrub that shields the view from the ocean. He crosses his arms, suddenly nervous, and Castiel sighs.

“You’re sure about this?”

“Please.”

Castiel steps back and closes his eyes. Dean doesn’t know how he’s going to react, so he takes a seat, completely unobservant of the wet, cold ground for now. He leans his jaw against his palms, digs his elbows into his thighs, and waits.

Castiel arches his back like a cat, and behind him, two wings unfold. Dean forgets to breathe as he follows their curve, claiming more and more space around them, glimmering and rippling like water in the sudden sunlight that penetrates the clouds. They’re stunning — white, but not quite, shiny like the most exquisite pearls-- but the longer Dean looks at them, the darker they get. It’s like they’re constantly shifting and changing in color, like the turn of the sun in the surface of the Mediterranean.

Dean looks at Castiel, who has the nerve to look bashful. For a moment, they just stare at each other, and Dean can physically feel his heart fill with affection. “Cas,” he says roughly, “is this the reason you kept your distance?”

Castiel presses his lips together for a second. “Almost.”

“May I come closer?”

Castiel looks at him like he can’t believe what he just heard, and nods. Dean gets on his feet, and before giving those magnificent wings — wings! For god’s sake! — any more attention, he walks up to Castiel and lifts his hand. Before touching, Dean waits for Castiel to give him a confused nod.

Dean presses his hand on Castiel’s cheek and exhales shakily. Then, he brings their foreheads together and listens to Castiel’s breath hitch just as much as his does.

“Thank you for saving my life,” Dean whispers. “I am in your debt.”

Castiel hums, but says nothing.

“Your wings are just as stunning as the rest of you.”

“Dean,” Castiel gasps. “Don’t, before you know everything.”

Dean bites his lip, because he feels he’s full of compliments and praise he needs to give Castiel right about now. Nothing has changed, they’re still on very unstable ground; but there’s a chance. There’s a minor, a minuscule chance in Castiel’s before , and damn it if Dean doesn’t take it.

He steps back and walks right first. Dean senses Castiel trying to keep his wings absolutely still under his scrutiny, but they’re unwilling to obey. From this close, Dean can make out patterns; there’s slightly darker feathers here and there. Dean has seen lines close to this before, and as much as he feels the knowledge just there under the surface of his brain, he can’t reach it. While trying to catch the thought, his eyes stop on something on the upper right corner — that’s…

Hmm. Dean leans closer to observe the feathers here; it’s like they’re heavy, in a way, and some of them look diseased rather than hurt. Castiel keeps his steady gaze on Dean as he disregards it for now, concentrating on the actual lightning damage. It does indeed look painful — some feathers are hanging on for dear life, some have burnt, and skin behind some is bleeding and oozing. Vaguely realizing getting repulsed would probably be a normal, even expectable reaction, Dean sighs and shakes his head.

“Okay, what can I do?”

Castiel frowns. “What do you mean?”

“I want to help. You’re hurt. Can I patch this up?”

“Uh,” Castiel says, obviously dissociating for a good second or two, “can I trust you?”

“I,” Dean licks his lips, “what? I’m not going to fucking wound you, if that’s what you’re afraid of.”

The left wing, currently without any affliction, quivers and reaches out towards Dean. For an odd minute Dean thinks about what it would feel like to be cradled and held inside the wings, but the whole thought feels so strange — let alone strong — that he needs to steer away. Luckily, starting his exploration along the left wing works as a perfect distraction.

“It’s not that,” Castiel says slowly, and Dean needs to remind himself what they’re talking about again. “It’s written that touching wings is for… For few people, only.”

“Written, huh?” Dean says absently, because his eyes catch another part that feels off, this on the very tip of the wing all the way left. “Sounds almost ceremonial.”

“I’m curious,” Castiel says when Dean leans closer and closer to another cluster of heavy looking feathers. “What do you see?”

“I… I don’t know. It’s like there’s these… Parts that are off. Like you’d dipped them in plaster a couple of months ago and forgotten about them after. I mean, I can see they’re fine. The surface of the feathers is similar to the others, and I see the — the middle thing…”

“Rachis,” Castiel says gently.

“The rachis is unbent and looks firm. I don’t know. Have they been like this for long?”

“A while, yes. By no means are they a new thing. And you can see there’s a less severe, but similar line on the right wing, almost all the way down.”

“Are they aching?”

“Oh, no. They’re just a projection.”

Dean frowns. Castiel looks at him again — this time with sheer desperation in his eyes that says please understand what I’m trying to say — and Dean fights the urge to pull him in for a hug. Fuck, why can’t he get a grip on what his subconscious is obviously trying to signal him? Why do the patterns along the wings look so familiar? He wants to curse, but instead he keeps talking.

“Other than that, I see patterns. Like… Like currents in an ocean. Fuck, Cas, this is so awesome.”

“Still not freaked out?”

“Hell nah,” Dean says. “I think we have to talk, though.”

“We definitely do. Do you… Should we get back to the boat?”

“I think so, yeah. Unless you have a better idea.”

Castiel shakes his head. “I do need to fold my wings back to —”

“A map!” Dean yells suddenly, clapping his hands together. He’d managed to walk three steps towards the boat, but now he turns back and scrutinizes the wings again. “It’s a map, right? They used these criss-cross lines in nautical maps in the 1700s — or earlier, I have no idea, but this is a nautical map of-”

He walks back to the right, crouching next to the line Castiel had mentioned earlier. It’s not a symmetrical shape by any means, and after a second, Dean recognizes it.

“Your wings are a map of the fucking Atlantic ocean?!”

“Uh-”

“Yes, no, don’t tell me,” Dean says, rising up and pressing the heels of his hands on his eyes. “Oh my god, this is fucking unbelievable.”

“Are you angry at me?” Castiel asks, and Dean shakes his head furiously. “You sound angry.”

“I’m overwhelmed. Okay, let’s see. I recognize the vague, artistic take on the Mediterranean here,” he says then, pointing to the line he’d been looking at, “and on the left end, then, uh, what’s in there? Gulf of Mexico?”

Castiel nods, and his wings flutter. The display of excitement is so childlike, Dean’s heart melts a little. When he realizes the meaning of those plaster-like spots on the wings, it turns into a painful squeeze.

“Pollution,” he whispers. “These are the most polluted parts of your sea. Oh, Cas, I’m so sorry.”

“Like I said, they are projections. They don’t hurt, but I can’t forget them.”

Foolishly, Dean feels a pang of gratefulness at himself for cleaning up the beach. It just became a fuckload more important.

“So,” he says and huffs gently. “Where does this leave us? Your wings are the map of…”

“Of the North Atlantic, yes,” Castiel says.

“And, uh. I think that’s all we know, here.”

Castiel nods, obviously aware that Dean needs help now. “I’m one of the Seven Gods of the Sea.”

Even though Dean saw something huge coming his way, he’s still surprised enough to take a seat. Damn it, he needs to shower for a year to recover from the cold.

“Oh.”

“I hope that clarifies why I’m against… Taking things anywhere.”

Dean nods. “Yeah. Not exactly god spouse material, here. Got that.”

Castiel falls silent, and Dean looks up at him. For a moment, he just stares, unable to believe he didn’t see this coming — there’s something otherworldly about Castiel, has been ever since they first met. Oh, fuck, and he’s been going on and on about his quest for finding gods, and it must have been so embarrassing to listen to.

When he starts to visibly shake, Castiel suggests they return to the boat.

*

Dean’s head is filled with questions, but he needs to swallow them all for now; it’s still only morning, everyone is waking up, and somehow, they need to make it sound like some revolutionary information hadn’t just come to light. He decides to make them breakfast — god knows he’s hungry, since he’s been pouting since dinner last night — and while he flips pancakes, he goes through what he knows now, which is not a whole lot. Could he ask Castiel for a nap under the deck that they could actually use for talking?  He bets Balthazar can steer a boat; but he wouldn’t be approving of any plan that includes Dean and Castiel spending time together.

Balthazar is Castiel’s brother, though. Does that mean he’s a god, as well? A memory makes its way to Dean’s consciousness; when they first met, Balthazar tried to hit on Bela, and both Bela and Castiel reprimanded him for it. Castiel had said something along the lines of things might be different in the South Pacific, which had led Dean to wonder whether Balthazar lives in Australia. So, what if Balthazar is the second of the seven gods? It would make sense for him to be so involved in Dean and Castiel’s friendship, as well — it’s not just Castiel’s secrets he wants to have kept, but his own.

For some reason, the thought makes Dean flinch. It’s all a bit too much, and he needs someone to calm him down; and it’s unfair, because Castiel is probably going through all kinds of shit in his head right now. Still, it’s not like he can now go chat with whoever; not that Dean asked, but he’s pretty sure Castiel hasn’t shared his true self with anyone in this boat.

He ends up eating breakfast with Bela, who tries to get latest gossip out of him, but ultimately notices something’s off— off enough for a normal conversation, at least. As soon as Dean’s plate is empty, he excuses himself to his stateroom. The display of his research on the bedside table makes him laugh hollowly, and as soon as he’s lying down, he falls into a restless sleep.

 

“Dean.”

A whisper carries through his current state, and Dean’s dream changes it into a physical caress. In this dream, he’s sitting in the darkness with nothing but Castiel’s voice, and it envelopes him completely, makes him feel cherished, brushes his skin like feathers of wings.

A hand presses against his shoulder and he’s almost sorry to wake up — until his eyes meet Castiel’s, they’re alone in the room, and the door is closed. The moment hangs heavy between them, and then, Castiel bites his lip.

“I need help.”

Dean frowns and raises himself to his elbows. “With your wings?”

“Yeah. It… If we could get the wounds cleaned, and the feathers straightened, it would be easier for them to heal.”

“Of course,” Dean says. “You decided to trust me, then?”

Castiel lowers his gaze and runs his hand on the sateen surface of his duvet. “I hope it pays off.”

“Alright. Let’s do this, then. Uh, do we need to worry about Balthazar?”

“I put him in the helm. He’s not going to come here.”

Dean nods and gets on his feet. “I have an emergency kit somewhere, but I’d prefer warm water over disinfectant. Is that alright by you?”

“Yes, preferably. I shouldn’t think they need bandages, unless something’s still bleeding. Despite being from lightning bolts, you’ll notice most of them look more like road rash. That’s, um, a god wing thing. They don’t burn, they kind of… wear out.”

Dean nods, digging around his bag for the kit to keep his mouth from falling open. After retrieving it, he turns back to Castiel, who has taken his wings out again — way too large in a room this small, and so, so painful.

“I’m so sorry,” Dean gasps, the words leaving him of their own volition. “You’re hurt because of me.”

“You were hurt because of me first,” Castiel says thoughtfully, trailing his wings with his gaze. “Besides, you get to pay me back now.”

“Okay,” Dean says, stepping next to Castiel’s right wing. “I’m going to need to touch you now. First, do you have any pointers? It’s not like I have touched wings before.”

“The skin is sensitive. Warn me if you’re going to tug any feathers off.”

“Right, captain,” Dean says with a heavy sigh. “Let’s get to it, then.”

Dean feels self-conscious and awkward, but he figures that if he’s going to do this anyway, he’d better get to it. He stifles a gasp at the first feel of Castiel’s feathers on his fingertips — it almost feels like water, cool and ever-moving, and even though the patterns don’t ripple along his movements, it’s undoubtedly magical.

“God,” Dean whispers. “Please tell me if I hurt you.”

“Alright, human. Will do,” Castiel says, and when Dean looks up at him, a smile is playing on his lips. This is one of the most private expressions Dean’s yet seen from him, and it makes his chest tingle. He sighs again — his breath is a manual labor he needs to force himself to continue because it’s all a bit overwhelming right now — and runs his fingers across the feathers until he runs across the first burn. It’s not too bad; he only needs to gently press the damp cloth on it a couple of times, and straighten a couple of feathers.

“That alright?” Dean asks. His throat is dry.

“It’s… It’s good. Thank you for doing this. I can get the ones on the front myself, but the back ones are going to be both worse and harder for me to reach.”

“No problem. I’ll do ‘em all now that we’re here.”

“We’re going to be here for a while,” Castiel says thoughtfully, watching Dean as he moves onto the next burn. “Could you answer me something?”

“You can try and ask, at least.”

“I can’t shake the feeling that I hurt you more than you let me know,” Castiel says, “with what I said about desire.”

“Hmm,” Dean says, content with the second part and kneeling on the floor to start on the next one. “You’re right. I don’t know how much you’re willing to hear, though.”

“Everything.”

“Whoa, be careful what you wish for. I might babble forever.”

“Please, do.”

“Not to mention, it’s gonna get dark.”

Castiel hums, and for a moment, Dean concentrates on his work again. When he’s done with the front, Castiel lifts his wing over Dean so he’s standing on the backside of it. Dean can’t help laughing, because it also swipes pretty much every surface clean of clutter. The new position disables direct eye contact, which is a blessing in disguise; it allows Dean to start talking without being scrutinized.

“Well, you already heard about my Dad, and what he did to me as a kid. Well, it’s not… It’s not all he did. We never got along that well after the obvious incident, and when I started to form my own opinions and want my own things, it was fucking hell.”

He sighs and is partly happy that he can stop talking for a while; there’s a feather almost all the way out, and Dean needs to warn Castiel about pulling it. Castiel flinches when he does, and after wiping the wound clean, Dean strokes the feathers around it gently. The wings make a wave — shivers , Dean thinks, suddenly feeling feverish. He needs to recollect his brain… Oh, yes. There’s a dad story to finish.

“So, when I first fell for a girl, she was the wrong kind. You know, rough around the edges, way out of my league when it comes to wit, an anarchist to the bone. My dad hit me.”

Castiel doesn’t say anything, but Dean can feel him tense. It’s odd how much the wings make sense, in a way — they’re a natural part of Castiel, and the more Dean looks at them and touches them, the more he feels they’ve always been right here. They move with Castiel’s impulses and thoughts, and for a while, Dean fears it works both ways; that touching them makes Castiel hear what he’s thinking about.

“Then, uh, I was what they call curious . My next relationship — if you can call it that, we never went on a date or did any couple stuff together — was a guy. You can guess how well that went down.”

“Dean, I’m sorry,” Castiel sighs. “Oh, shit. If I didn’t hate your dad from the get-go, I’d sure as hell hate him now.”

Dean smiles. “I do like that you’re angry enough to swear. Is that very godlike?”

“Have you actually read Greek mythology? All the gods are dicks.”

“Hush,” Dean mutters, “can’t they hear you?”

“Oh, that’s hardly a reason to bring down the lightning bolts.”

“Do you know who did?”

“Not a conversation for this place,” Castiel says, “if you want to talk about that, I should hope we’re in Crete by tomorrow morning. Take a walk with me?”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Dean says and lifts his hands when Castiel suddenly groans.

“Oh, shit, that’s feels wrong. Is there blood? Is it deep?”

“It looks like… Hm,” Dean swallows his initial reaction of horror and tries to sound nonchalant. “There’s something in here. Inside the, uh, the skin.”

“Is it big?”

“Size of a grape. Round. Like a marble.”

“Oh,” Castiel says, suddenly sounding a bit defeated. “Can you take it off?”

“I’d need to cut you a little. I can’t find the entrance wound.”

“That makes sense. I can do it myself, but I’d do a sloppy work.”

“Okay. I’ll do it, then,” Dean says and digs up scissors from the emergency kit. “I’m sorry, I don’t have a scalpel to work with. I try to cut as shallow and little as possible. I’ve taken some bullets out before, so I know what I’m doing. Can’t be that much worse even though this is bigger, right?”

“Why have you taken out bullets?”

“Uh, Dad was a hunter just as much as he was a fisher. He made me dig the bullets out, taught me to do that in case someone got shot by accident. I think his ulterior motive was to save bullets, though.”

Castiel huffs a laugh. “Makes sense. Money first, then people.”

“As per usual. Okay, here I go.”

Dean steadies his hands, opens the scissors and cuts. Castiel gasps and the wing twitches, and all Dean wants to do is to give soothing kisses to the feathers. As soon as the cut is deep enough, a heavy, round thing falls into the floor, rolls somewhere across the room and thunks against the wall. Dean, on the other hand, cleans the wound as gently as possible and is surprised to find that gods bleed red — rather dark, almost as iridescent as the wings, but red all the same.

“Fuck,” Castiel whispers, “thank you.”

“What was that?”

“Another conversation for tomorrow. Are you tired already?”

“Hell nah.”

“Okay. Keep talking about your father, then.”

“Sure. So, second punch delivered due to the whole ‘gay phase’ as he so nicely put it. When the next person I started to hang out with was a guy too, he…” Dean breathes a couple of times to find his words, but they refuse to come out. “I… I’m sorry, Cas, I can’t-”

A brush on his bicep. A gentle, soothing slide of feathers. Dean shivers despite himself and shakes his head.

“It shouldn’t affect me this strongly anymore.”

“Damn ‘should’s. If it does, then it does.”

He manages to nod, even though Castiel probably doesn’t see his face right now — there’s still a giant wing between them, even though Castiel used the upper side of it to calm Dean down.

“Thanks, and sorry.”

Dean can almost hear Castiel reprimanding him for apologizing, but apparently he wants to let it slide for now. Dean, after making sure the wound he cut doesn’t bleed too badly, moveson.

“Anyway,” he continues after a while, in a smaller voice, “Dad was the one who said my shitty emotions and desires meant nothing but ruin for me and the whole family. You couldn’t have known that, but your words were almost identical to his.”

“That’s the last thing I want,” Castiel says, whooshing his wing over Dean’s head again. He rises up and walks to Dean, places a hand on his shoulder and stares his way into Dean’s soul. “How can I make this up to you?”

“Never call me, or anything I need, mundane again. I see where it came from, but it doesn’t make it okay. Promise me this, and the rest is my trauma for growing up with a shitty dad. You can’t affect that.”

“I promise,” Castiel whispers, and Dean shivers with the resolve. He feels suddenly awkward and steps back, only to notice Castiel’s wings have slowly started to circle around him. It’s endearing and makes Dean blush, so he hurries with the task at hand.

 

Like Castiel predicted, they kept at if for a long while. When Dean’s finally done, he steps back and sighs.

“Alright. We’re done here.”

“Thank you, Dean. I’m already feeling better,” Castiel says, gets to his feet once more, and rolls his shoulders. He gives both wings a firm shake that makes the air around them pulse, and folds them into invisibility. “Oh, damn. You did a good job, Dean.”

“Can I ask you something?” Dean says while walking to the head to wash his hand. “Can’t gods just self-heal?”

“If it’s done by other gods, it’ll take a while, and the result may be sloppy. Also, if there’s specific intent, humans can hurt, and kill gods.”

Dean whistles. “That’s intense.”

“It is,” Castiel nods, “and there’s many stories I could share on the subject. But they can take place tomorrow, unless it’ll make our walk everlasting.”

“Wouldn’t mind that,” Dean says, busying himself with rearranging his luggage now. Castiel makes his way to the door and opens it. Before heading out, he stops. Dean looks at him, at his hand at the doorknob, and frowns.

“One more thing,” Castiel says, his voice the tiniest bit strained. He turns to face Dean. “First of all, it was not you I thought wouldn’t be the right material for me, but the other way around. You deserve more than what I can give you; you deserve a human. That being said… I would count this as the place where you know enough.”

“Oh,” Dean says, suddenly out of breath entirely. Castiel lifts his eyebrow and exits. His meaning is not lost on Dean, who tries to catch his heart before it flies out of his chest. This is the chance he’s been waiting for, all spelled out for him.

*

For reasons completely foreign to Dean (but they might have something to do with Castiel’s eyes when he makes the suggestion), he agrees to scuba diving. He doesn’t only surprise himself with this, but Jess and Sam as well — they make sure to take a thousand pictures of Dean getting into the gear, and another thousand where he watches the sea nervously over the lifeline.

“We’re starting easy,” Castiel says, tightening what he called a buoyancy control device around Dean, “we should start easier, in a controlled environment such as a pool and not the open sea, but.”

He lifts his eyes at Dean, suddenly at a loss for words. Dean quirks a smile at him. “I think the words you’re looking for are ‘you know I can keep you safe’, right?”

Castiel looks around, but nobody’s too close. His fingers linger on Dean’s hips for a second longer than necessary. “Exactly.”

Dean tries to suppress his shiver and shakes his head. “I know. You’re gonna distract the hell out of me, though.”

“You’re impossible,” Castiel huffs and turns away to pick Dean a suitable mask.

“Irresistible? Pretty sure the word you were trying to go for was irresistible.”

Castiel rolls his eyes as he turns back. “Lift your head up for me, please. Look at the sky.”

Dean follows the instructions, and Castiel flops a mask over  of his eyes. It feels comfortable, almost like it accommodates to his shape, but Castiel hums and takes it off to replace it with a different one. This one, it turns out,  is even better.

“Right. We’ll use this,” he mutters and swings the band behind Dean’s head. When his fingers retreat, he shamelessly runs them over Dean’s neck, eliciting a new set of shivers and a freaking gasp . Dean clears his throat to hide his sudden embarrassment and lifts the mask on top of his head. Castiel gives him a beaming smile — the most genuine, beautiful thing he’s ever seen from him. It makes him a bit weak in the knees, so he takes a seat.

While Castiel finishes gearing up, he goes through some safety instructions. They won’t be diving deep today, but Castiel makes sure that if Dean likes this, it’s not the last time they do it — and eventually, he could also teach Dean to dive alone.

Then, like it’s no big deal, they’re sitting next to each other on the bathing platform and sliding into the water. Instantly, Dean’s vision is filled with bubbles and his breathing sounds loud in the all-swallowing silence. When the water clears, he sees Castiel checking his diving computer before gesturing Dean to descend. Dean follows him and forces his breathing to continue and stay calm; all he sees is water and he knows humans aren’t supposed to be able to breathe below the surface.

It’s, in more ways than one, overwhelming. Dean feels he’s in space — gravity doesn’t exist here. When he stops moving, he is floating in what feels vaguely like mid-air. He also finds it surprisingly easy to follow Castiel down, and when they dive under a stone ledge, Dean kind of wishes this would never end. In the silence broken only by his lungs, surrounded by turquoise and petrol blue waters, alone with Castiel, he feels a sense of peace that he doesn’t know if he’s ever had before. He thinks back to their visit to the underground sea cave in Delos, and feels genuine gratitude about having come this far since. It happens easy with Castiel; easy as breathing, and just as loud.

Back up, Castiel had said this place is familiar to him, and it shows: He knows which turns to take and which spots are best to admire the views from. Eventually, they end up close to a cave, and Castiel gestures him to stop. Dean’s not fluent in underwater lingo, so he can’t ask what are we stopping for , but it becomes clear just a couple of moments later when Castiel takes his hand and yanks him into the cave.

Dean can’t see Castiel’s eyes properly, and if he didn’t know better, he’d guess Castiel is a bit frightened. He makes a vague hand gesture that Dean has never seen before, and squeezes Dean’s hand tighter.

Damn it, he’s too curious. Dean shuffles to the door of the cave and takes a peek.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

The largest thing he’s ever seen is floating towards them, and as he looks around, it’s not alone. A herd of fucking whales is crossing the ocean, and currently, it’s well on its way towards them. It looks like a zeppelin army, and Dean needs to grab the rocks with his free hand to ground himself.

Which, in turn, makes him realize he’s still holding Castiel’s hand with his other one. He lets himself be pulled back, and as he comes face to face with Castiel, he realizes the fucking asshole has actually taken his mask off. It takes Dean a painful couple of seconds to remember it’s probably alright — being a god of the sea must come with some perks. And god, he looks stunning like this — hair flowing in the water, an eerie aura of supernatural around him.

“They’re passing through,” Castiel says, his voice clear despite the water, and Dean nods. “Whales are really nice, but you don’t want to get in between a pod. They’re also highly unobservant at times.”

Dean gives Castiel an okay sign and, on a whim, runs his fingers through Castiel’s floating hair. He’s rewarded with a shy smile. There’s a second during which Dean can see the gears turning in Castiel’s head as he’s wondering if Dean would be up for an underwater kiss, but instead, he starts sharing whale facts. Dean doesn’t really mind; he needs all his focus on Castiel when they kiss (kind of selfish of him to assume that’s going to happen… But it’s definitely in the ballpark), and right now there’s around ten 50 tonne obstacles sharing his attention.

It takes a while for the whales to pass, and after they do, Dean’s already cold. They didn’t have proper drysuits on board, just a couple of ones used for pool practice or surfing, and being around a god who never gets cold is particularly frustrating. Castiel replaces his breathing apparatus before they make their way up to the surface slowly, still holding hands, and Dean is slowly starting to realize he might be in love.

 

Chapter Text

Owl City: The Saltwater Room

 

Dean could get used to Castiel waking him up. He’s sitting on his on own side of the bed, gently patting Dean’s knee; and when Dean opens his eyes, he’s met with another one of those bright smiles that Dean wishes he could bottle and cherish forever.

“Hey,” Dean says groggily and tries his best to match the smile. “What’s up?”

“I made us snacks for our walk, but we need to leave now if we want to slip by unnoticed. We arrived in Crete about an hour ago.”

“What time is it?”

“Only five,” Castiel says, looking almost ashamed. “But I thought… Since you want to know things—”

“Of course we’re going. Is the weather alright?”

“Warm already. Dress light, cover your easily burning skin.”

Dean rolls his eyes before getting up and yanking on soft linen pants. He doesn’t know if he’s ever going to get used to jeans again. He matches it with a light mixed fabric henley and turns to face Castiel, spreading his arms. “Easily burning skin covered enough?”

Castiel gives him a once-over that feels almost like physical caress, and Dean doesn’t know how much longer he’ll be able to keep from touching Castiel. He’s touch-starved as it is, and secrets and mysteries dissipating between the two of them makes him feel more and more comfortable, which in turn means… Well, the need to get closer.

“You look nice,” Castiel states and turns on his heels. He’s dressed in all white himself, matching the colors of the islands and the sea. In Dean’s humble opinion, he should never dress in anything but white. It is ridiculously hot against his all-year-round tan.

Castiel grabs the snacks he’s packed, puts them in a bag and swings it over his shoulder. Dean takes the camera along, just in case, and they try to be as quiet as possible as they make it to the shore.

It’s a silent place Castiel’s taken them to. It’s obviously nowhere close to Iraklion, the capital of the island, but it’s an official mooring spot and there’s a couple of small houses next to it, one of them a tiny convenience store. They walk past it, and into what looks like a small batch of woods. Castiel looks like he knows where he’s going, and Dean is happy to follow.

Eventually, they’re on a trail that has the ocean on one side, and trees on the other. The path is wide enough for them to walk side-by-side, and after walking for a moment, Castiel sighs.

“I don’t know where to start.”

“Oh? I wasn’t…” Dean clears his throat and looks away, because for now, he hadn’t even considered that Castiel would talk soon. To be honest, he’d been preoccupied with how lucky he is to be here with a guy like Castiel.

With a god.

Huh. It’ll take a while longer to fully sink in.

“Charlie knows I’m a god,” Castiel starts then. “She’d read the whole Percy Jackson series, that bookish woman, and guessed I’m one of the sons of Poseidon.”

“You’re-”

“I must assure you, though, it’s not as glamorous as the books make it sound. You know how many children the guy has? He’s known for his reckless behavior in the field of romance, and if his lovers can produce children, they will. I haven’t met him in thousands of years, so it isn’t like it’s anything to brag about to have a famous father.”

“In-”

There’s a resting spot to their right here; benches scattered around a small water fountain. Dean’s head is spinning so hard he needs to take a seat for a moment.

“Fuck, Cas.”

“I’m sorry. It’s not like I have expertise in talking about myself, so it all comes out either too fast or not at all.”

“No, it’s okay. I just need to reevaluate everything in my head, and it’s… It’s almost dangerous how much sense it makes.”

“What does?”

“Everything,” he says with a shrug. “That you’re a god. That it was probably one of your siblings that saved me, since it was a North Pacific thing.”

Castiel nods, and then shakes his head. “Well, that would be Michael. A peculiar brother. Our quarrels go way back, but I want to believe he has a good heart.”

“Can I meet him?”

“Uh, I… I don’t know. We’re the closest with Balthazar, and I’m also in touch with my sister Anna, who’s the god of the Arctic Sea. I haven’t heard of Michael in a long time, but if you’d want to initiate contact with him, I think that could work out.”

“Would you be uncomfortable with it?” Dean asks, and Castiel frowns at him.

“It’s not my call to make. If you wish for it, I’ll do whatever it takes to help you meet my brother.”

A rush of warmth passes through Dean, and for a moment he presses his hand on top of Castiel’s where it’s resting on the bench. Castiel looks down and his frown deepens before it softens; then, he’s almost in awe of what’s going on here.

“Okay, son of Poseidon, not the important kind,” Dean says then, looking out at the sea. “Anything else I need to know?”

“The stone you took out of my wing,” Castiel says, then huffs, “the one that’s still in our stateroom somewhere. It belongs to someone from Ares’ troops. That means it was his storm that tried to kill you.”

Dean hums. “I kind of figured it was out to get me.”

“I imagine it was to see what I would do. I’ve… I’ve taken an interest in you, and it doesn’t go unseen in these circles, trust me. There are gods out there who’d want to know if I’d…” Castiel lets his voice trail away, and coughs. “Right. There’s a really beautiful place a couple of hundred meters up the hill. I want you to see it.”

He tries to get up, but Dean yanks him back. “Hey, no! What happened to taking pride in your honesty?”

Castiel rolls his eyes and hovers there, half-sitting, half-standing, until he finally relents. “They wanted to know if I’d declare you.”

Dean squints. “Declare me? What the fuck does that mean?”

“It means that I’m ready to protect you, if push comes to shove. I’ve, uh, both figuratively and literally taken you under my wing now. It holds valuable meaning, for us. It means that I’ve chosen you from all of humanity to protect, to account for, and to stand beside.”

It sounds so freaking romantic Dean wants to yell to get the blood all around his veins to slow down a bit — it sounds so perfectly like in love that Dean’s pretty sure he’s missing some more obvious meaning through his pink glasses of wishful thinking.

“Uh, okay,” Dean says, and the way Castiel looks at him doesn’t leave doubt in whether Dean’s blush is visible. “I… I’m sorry you had to do that. If I hadn’t left, you wouldn’t have had to save me.”

Castiel smiles and gestures for them to keep on walking. Dean obliges. “It’s not that. If you hadn’t left, they’d have found another way to test me, to test us out. Tried to drown you while we were diving. Electrocution through water. Kept the storm going for as long as it takes to get you out.”

“Still,” Dean rolls his shoulders, because suddenly, they’re tense, “I hate that you were forced to do it just because you didn’t want me to die.”

“Oh. Well,” Castiel says and tilts his head in concentration, “it wasn’t me shielding you that implied that I’ve declared you. It was that I allowed you to touch my wings.”

“Huh,” Dean says. The memory makes him shiver. “How… How are they?”

“Better. A bit constrained, to be honest, but I can’t just whip them out wherever.”

“We need to have a place for that,” Dean decides with a vigorous nod. “An island for you to spread your wings and f- Oh my god, Castiel, do you fly?”

“Of course. They aren’t just for show or mating rituals.”

Dean squints, about to what the fuck on the second part, but a quirk around Castiel’s mouth unveils that he’s just pulling a chain, here.  Dean decides to take it up a notch.

“Well, for what it’s worth, those are the most impressive wings I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen the wings of a lilac-breasted roller. So, uh, consider me impressed. Consider me won over.

Castiel looks at him, a calculating but warm look, before sighing. “Dean, it’s like I said.”

For a second, Dean is scared he’ll take the I can’t route again, but instead, he leans a little bit closer. Dean’s heart is about to burst out into a Disney musical song right around now, and he needs to keep himself in check to be able to both walk and breathe at the same time.

“I never thought you’d ever… Ever stay around after finding out what I am. I didn’t approach you because it would have been morally dubious, not because I thought you weren’t worth the time or the effort. I’m starting to realize you’re worth all of my effort.”

“You’re a god,” Dean huffs. “It isn’t like I’m worth you, in any way.”

“Dean,” Castiel takes his forearm, and Dean sees some of that divine entity carefully hidden below the surface, “you’re worth a lot more than you give yourself credit for.”

Castiel’s eyes flicker down to Dean’s lips for a moment, but he lets go.

Dean sighs. “I might need some convincing with that.”

“It’s a good things we have a couple of days, here. Much less than I’d like, but a start.”

For the first time since Sunday, Dean thinks about how he’ll have to board a plane soon enough. Currently, he’d rather die.

They walk together for a while longer and end up in a grove of trees. Sunlight shines through the leaves, bending into a ceiling over them and painting everything bright green. Dean inhales, deep and loud, and looks up.

“You’re right. This is…” he looks back to where they came from, an opening that now looks small. “Incredibly safe.”

“I come here to meditate at times,” Castiel says, “a hundred meters forward and you’ll end up in a mansion. Technically, this belongs to its yard, but people rarely visit. In a thousand years, there’s been one kid who played here.”

“Did you become friends with them?”

“As a matter of fact, I did,” Castiel laughs. “It was Petros’ grandmother.”

“Wow,” Dean says, and swallows around the sudden pain around his chest. “Isn’t it lonely?”

“Oh, incredibly. I blink, and people are old. I exhale, and a century has passed. I sleep, and another thousand years have run me by, leaving nothing but dust of the people I used to love.”

Automatically, he backs away a step. Dean immediately takes a step forward to even out the distance between them.

“That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay kind,” he says, and Castiel flinches a little.

“It doesn’t, but it’s highly impractical for a god. I’ve always… had too much heart. It causes me pain and is a liability.”

“And it makes you who you are,” Dean says, unable to keep himself from brushing his thumb along Castiel’s cheek. When Castiel leans into the touch, he grows bolder, placing his whole hand there. “And quite frankly, I’ve been falling for you for a while now.”

Castiel’s eyes are soft, and shining, and when Dean starts stroking the cheek with his fingertips he closes them. The air in the grove vibrates around them, and Dean wonders if it’s because Castiel’s wings are flickering. The thought is endearing and awesome.

“I want to kiss you now,” Dean whispers almost silently, pretty much just moving his lips, “is that something you’d welcome?”

Castiel exhales sharply and opens his eyes. There’s bewilderment in his gaze, as if he can’t believe his luck, and in lieu of a reply he pretty much crashes their mouths together.

Fuck, fuck , they’re doing this, they’re doing this, this is really happening , and god, it’s good. Dean’s hands roam for a grip in Castiel’s hair, and Castiel places his own on Dean’s hips — and then, all of a sudden, the edge of surprise and urgency is gone and they ease their hold on each other, turning the kiss softer and slower. Castiel’s lips feel like heaven, and it’s a cliche, but so is kissing a god in a secret garden belonging to a giant mansion in the island of Crete; Dean’s ready to give up on all of his inhibitions regarding romance and cliches. And now that they’re finally here, he’s not going to let go.

Castiel smells like fresh ocean breeze, like fog on a cool morning in the mountains of Montana, of a bonfire, and he tastes surprisingly like a human. Still, nothing tops how he feels right now, pulling Dean closer and closer to his body; Dean opens his mouth with a gasp and Castiel doesn’t waste time in sliding his tongue in. There’s an undertone of needing more, so much more right now; they’re both done with waiting, but all Dean can do right now is pull Castiel’s hair to gain access to his beautiful neck. Oh, god, it smells even better and Dean fights the urge to bite the skin a little.

So, as first kisses go… It’s a home run.

*

“Dean,” Sam says to Dean’s back as he’s trying to sneak in for a nap in the stateroom. “What’s up?”

It’s been three hours since he returned from his escape with Castiel. Dean’s made it this far without talking to anyone, which is a good thing — in all honesty, he doesn’t trust himself enough to keep quiet. For one, as soon as he hears Sam’s question, he almost replies with I made out with a god!

He realizes he still hasn’t turned to face his brother. What a good start for a conversation.

“Not much,” he says, feigning nonchalance, and takes a seat on the saloon couch. “How about yourself? Is married life treating you well?”

“Not worse than before the wedding,” Sam shrugs. He can’t be swayed, though. “So, uh, I see you’ve made a real friend out of Cas.”

“As you already knew. What’s this about?”

There’s a flash of worry on Sam’s face, but he tries for a smile instead. “Nah. Just wondering. Do we know this guy is good? I mean, I trust your judgement, but to me, he seems kind of distant. It’s fine,” he says when Dean’s stare turns deadly, “we are all different, and he seems to be an introvert, which is a nice trait to have. No harm in that. I just… It seems like you’re getting deep into this, and I wouldn’t want you to end up—”

“Sam, fuck,” Dean groans, “when are you going to understand that I’m a grown person able to make my own decisions? First it’s your worry about my lack of any social life, and then worry that I’ll never find anyone to love, and now that I h—”

Wow, oh no. He needs to rephrase that fast. It’s one thing to be smitten, and completely intoxicated by Castiel’s presence, and probably flirt with the idea of being in love with someone you’ve only known for a couple of days (how ridiculous!) — and it’s another thing to voice that out loud to Sam. Basically, he would puppy-eye-worry this situation hard enough that Dean would never feel comfortable around Castiel again.

“And now that I have someone who I think is nice in my life, you’re trying to find some dirt on him.”

“Do you like him, though?”

“Of course. I think that was established long ago.”

“As in, like-like?”

“That’s stretching it, Sammy.”

“Okay, sorry,” he says an runs a hand through his hair, a telltale sign of him trying to summarize what he wants to say. “Look, if you think Castiel’s nice, there’s nothing wrong with hanging out with him. There’s nothing wrong with going to the extremes of morning walks and scuba diving with a person you want to impress — even if it’s only as a friend. I just wouldn’t want you to push yourself over any metaphorical ledges without knowing if someone’s there to catch you.”

“And you think Castiel wouldn’t be, because I’m the only one he trusts around here?”

“Well, uh,” Sam looks away. “He must trust his Greek friends. They go way back. And probably he trusts his brother, as well.”

Dean squints at the sudden break in Sam’s voice. There’s a slight blush covering his cheeks, and that’s when it clicks.

“You’ve been talking to Balthazar, haven’t you?”

Sam looks around before answering. “Not that much talking with him. He talked to me.”

Dean sighs and turns his eyes toward the ceiling. “I can’t believe you.”

“He’s worried as well. Apparently, Castiel can’t always be trusted.”

“And he wants you to warn me about the evil that lurks in the darkness? Oh, wow, that’s thick. In case you haven’t noticed, Balthazar and I don’t even get along that well. It’s not likely he’d want to protect me from Castiel.”

“He wants to protect you from something, that’s for sure,” Sam says. “But it’s like I said. My personal worries basically include how involved you seem with Castiel, and I don’t know if you’re getting back what you’re giving.”

“It’s not a fucking competition.”

“Yes, but relationships do follow a basic principle of equivalent trade.”

“I don’t befriend people to benefit from them. Do you?”

“Of course not. I just…”

“You know what, Sam? Let’s just… Let’s trust me on things that have to do with me, okay? I know you’re my brother, and you’re obliged to think that nobody’s ever gonna be good enough for me.”

Sam smiles for the first time during this conversation. “So there is a romantic factor to you two. I knew it.”

Dean scoffs but can’t completely hide his smile either. “It’s not like it’d lead anywhere anytime soon. We’re leaving in a couple of days.”

“So, just a hookup, then?”

“None of your business, asshole,” Dean mutters and throws a pillow towards his brother, who’s now laughing out loud. Soon enough, he collects himself.

“Let’s trust your judgement, then. If you say you’re good with Cas, then you’re good. It’s not my place to say whether you’re doing the right thing.”

“It’s something I want to do. That, all things considered, makes this the right thing.”

“As you say,” Sam hums. “Anyway. How’s it going on the god front? We’re about to enter one of the best god-hunting islands, here.”

Dean blushes because he made out with a god! but doesn’t worry about it too much; it’s not like Sam’s going to guess the reason for his bashfulness any time soon.

“I’m definitely looking forward to Crete. I was hoping to get through some of my papers before we go.”

“I’m taking grocery duty today,” Balthazar says, stepping in from the cockpit, and then gives Dean a long, calculating look. “And you’re coming with me. Just the two of us. Right, brother?”

“Not your brother,” Dean says, his stress levels instantly rising, “and, uh, I mean, sure. When are we going?”

“In a minute,” Balthazar yelps before disappearing below deck. Dean and Sam share a confused look, but Dean decides to chat with his brother about issues besides Castiel.

“Are you looking forward to something in particular?”

“Oh, yeah. I was hoping to see Knossos, obviously, and if there’s enough time, a couple of other tourist locations would be nifty to see.”

“Of course. Do you want to, like, hire a guide and everything?”

“If there’s someone willingly telling us stories, then sure, we can tag along the group. But I think we’re also good with just the visuals.”

Dean nods. He wants to ask Sam about whether he’s ready to head back home yet, but Balthazar makes his way back right after.

“There should be a grocery store not too far away by the shore. I’ll ask Cassie to get to Iraklion, we’ll rent a car, we’ll hit Knossos together.”

“Sounds nice,” Sam says, patting his thighs. “You go on ahead. I can tell Castiel we need to get to the city.”

Dean nods, and Sam leaves them behind with a quick wave. Instantly, Dean’s nerves start to get jumpy — nothing good is going to come out with spending time alone with Balthazar.

“Alright, you filthy god-fucker,” Balthazar mutters as he starts back towards the exit, “let’s get to it.”

*

Balthazar stays silent for a surprisingly long time — until now, Dean hadn’t been sure if he’s able to keep his quiet for over a minute. When they make it through a strip of beach and onto the road Castiel took Dean to earlier, this time to a different direction, the guy sighs.

“Alright, what do you want?”

Dean frowns. “What do you mean?”

“You must have a sum of money that you want. I can pay your flight, and your rent for a year, and for a nice car in case you have a shitty car from the seventies.”

“It’s from the sixties, and it’s all but shitty,” Dean sighs. Balthazar rolls his eyes.

“Of course you’re a car guy. Can you get any more yuppie?”

“Hey,” Dean says, stilling for a moment, “if you want for us to talk, please stop patronizing me. It’s not gonna make me like you.”

“I don’t care.” Balthazar slows his walk, but doesn’t turn to him.

“Of course you don’t. I’m just human.”

There’s a beat of silence, after which they start walking again. When their eyes meet, there’s a slight apology in Balthazar’s eyes.

“So, he’s given you the whole shebang already, I assume. He’s a god, I’m a god, you’re a human.”

“Yes.”

“And you fucked? That’s disgusting.”

“I’ve no idea where you got that from. No, we haven’t fucked.”

“Then why is my brother looking so satisfied? Literally like he’s been getting some good action for a couple of hours.”

“We did kiss,” Dean mumbles, unsure whether Castiel wants to share this with his brother.

“Eww, gross,” Balthazar says and peeks at Dean. “You for real? Nothing more than kissing?”

“Nope.”

“Then why the fuck are you both looking like you’ve been thoroughly bonked?”

Dean shrugs. “No idea. For me, it’s probably the satisfaction of finally knowing what’s going on, and finally getting to cross that bridge with Cas.”

“Right. Like I said, gross,” Balthazar says, making a dismissive gesture with his hand, “anyway. Back to the business part of our lovely chat. How much to make you disappear?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I want you gone. I’ll give you hush money. Is this clear?”

“I hear the words that are coming from your mouth, but the meaning behind them is unclear.”

“It mustn’t be. Surely you know what this means.”

“Well, for now, it seems like I’m leaving on Saturday. That good enough for you?”

“I was hoping that you’d pack your bags and come up with a clever lie about wanting to investigate Crete by yourself.”

“That’s not gonna happen. If the captain of the ship says  I need to leave, I will. But if his brother, who’s done nothing but be a splinter in my ass ever since we met, asks me to leave, I ain’t gonna budge.”

Balthazar curses under his breath and they cross the road to get to the grocery store. “Nothing I can do to talk you over?”

“I want  to know why you’re like this. Why are you so appalled by the idea that I’m hanging out with your brother? It’s not like I’m gonna tell everyone his secrets. He trusts me with this, and I’m doing my best to be worth it.”

Deflating a little, Balthazar looks around and gestures for them to sit down on the stone bench next to the store entrance. Dean’s pretty sure this is the first time Balthazar decides to tell the truth.

“I’m worried about Cassie. We’re always been the closest of our siblings, and I’m the only one he’s been talking to about things that trouble him.”

“Is there… something wrong?”

“Of course, in a multitude of ways. Still, it’s been a while since I last saw that expression on his face. He likes everyone, absolutely has too big of a heart, that asshole, but he almost never falls.”

“He did seem a little sorry for having too much heart,” Dean mutters.

“I’ve been trying to push your sorry ass away because of the way Cassie looks at you. The way he talks about you all softly and is overall gross. It’s infatuation that will turn into love not too long from now, so the less you hang out with him, the less likely it is for him to start loving you.”

“This… Doesn’t happen often?”

Balthazar shakes his head. “He’s not the type of person who falls in love. Also, it would be frowned upon to fall for a human.”

“Give me a break,” Dean scoffs, “falling for humans is all Greek gods do. They transform into swans or make their fuckbuddies wear wooden cow suits.”

“That was the way of the world once,” Balthazar admits. “But for some of us, new laws have been made. The less you interact with humans directly, the better. I mean, sure, exceptions are made by the council, but it might take the lifetime of a human to get a reply from them. Sometimes lesser gods marry humans, but it doesn’t end well for either for them.”

“So let me get this straight. You’re worried that I will marry Castiel and it will not end well for him?”

“Something like that. I’m more worried that you’ll be leaving soon and if you keep on getting closer to him, his heart will break and we’ll have a storm for as long as it’s broken.”

Dean’s chest hurts. He needs to hug Castiel right now; tell him it’s fine, and that Dean’s not going to leave him. He doesn’t know how exactly he’s going to keep a promise like that, but it hurts more to not make it.

“Besides, you like old cars, you freak,” Balthazar continues and gestures them to go shopping already.

 

Knossos, as an experience, is an odd one. On one hand, Dean is happy to see the rumored location of the Labyrinth of Minos, but on the other, it’s crowded and hot and Cretans are eager to do renovations. Castiel sneaks Dean some information of the real history of the place, but Dean dubs it scandalous and refuses to believe it. A glint in Castiel’s eye makes Dean doubt his sincerity, anyway.

The absolute cherry on top of the sundae Dean only wishes he could be eating is Castiel gesturing for Dean to follow him to a half-room — one side of the space has collapsed, and some red paint can be seen behind the strong pillars. Instead of talking, Castiel gently pushes Dean against the back wall, hidden from view for a blissful second, and leans in to kiss his neck, to flick his tongue against Dean’s quickened pulse under his jaw, and firmly pressing their lips together. Dean welcomes the touch, pulling Castiel closer by his shirt and wrapping his arms around his waist. It’s causing shivers to roll all over Dean’s back and his chest and all the way down to his toes, and through his foggy brain he tries to remember if he’s ever felt like this with anyone else. It’s unfair to both Castiel and the previous people he’s been with, so he just focuses on if he’s ever felt like this before; intoxicated, exhilarated, overwhelmed, and safe .

It’s obvious he hasn’t, and he wonders if it’s a Castiel thing or a god thing.

Dean slides his hands lower, to Castiel’s back and then on his perfect ass, and with a pained huff, Castiel pulls away. He can’t make it further than an inch, pressing his forehead against Dean’s, and Dean feels cherished and wanted like, also, never before.

“We should head back,” Castiel mutters. “Not that I don’t want your hands all over me, but we would be interrupted soon enough.”

When Dean’s ears stop ringing from euphoria, he realizes tourists are chattering happily all around them — and it’s a matter of seconds before they’re found. Castiel steps further away with a sigh and, before turning away, brushes his finger on Dean’s jaw.

“You’re killing me, human,” he says, and Dean rolls his eyes.

“Likewise, my god.”

Chapter Text

The Bird and the Bee: How Deep Is Your Love

 

As promised, they throw a party.

Balthazar makes sure to buy enough booze (by making a second run to the grocery store on their way back to the docks), and Meg buys enough cigarillos to last a hundred years. As a former smoker, Dean’s a bit bothered by the amount of smoke around him, but doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it. After all, they’ll probably spend most of their time outside.

After dinner, Antheia digs up board games Castiel has hidden somewhere on the boat, and they all scatter across the flybridge. Castiel, ever the introvert, steers them away from the docks and moors them a couple hundred meters further; just enough to have the sense of safety, but a swimmable distance to land in case that’s needed.

They start with Clue, which is ridiculous considering how many people have to team up — and Dean ends up teaming with Jess, who happily picks Colonel Mustard. There’s too many of them to fit around any table, so they all sit a bit further from the game board and try to make the best out of a crowded situation. Dean firmly makes a decision to concentrate on the game instead of wondering how it would feel like to crowd Castiel against… against any surface, really. After Balthazar has stated that pretty much any question equals a sip, they’re ready to start.

Clue is either a shitty or a way too good drinking game. They’re tipsy at the end of the first round, Meg and Antheia a little more than the others — they’re already singing love songs like they’re in a karaoke bar. Sam is amused by them, but soon more distracted with talking to Jess about how long they can keep on extending their wedding night. It’s gross, especially since Dean has to sit next to them.

Then, his eyes meet Castiel’s across the board and it feels like he bursts into flames. There’s nothing but warm desire in Castiel’s expression; his mouth is fixed in a half-smile and his eyes are intense. Instead of blushing or shying away like his initial reaction would be, Dean raises his chin almost defiantly and meets Castiel’s stare.

Castiel’s lips part with what’s undoubtedly a gasp drowned under the women singing, and he clears his throat before looking away. Dean is pleased with himself and decides to use any opportunity to wind Castiel up more.

It’s not too long until the opportunity presents itself. After another round of Clue, this won by Dean and Jess with some badass deduction skills, they decide to just hang out, enjoy the ocean around them, and do a little lazy stargazing. Dean feels a nice buzz from the couple of beers he’s had, but he’s sober enough to…

He realizes that in his mind, he’s finishing his sentence with to give his consent. The thought excites and scares him at the same time; ideally, he’d want to jump Castiel’s bones as soon as possible, but it would be equally ideal to be truly alone with him.

After a good-hearted argument about whether Artemis or Ares would win in a street fight, Sam bends his leg so he can lean his jaw on his knee and frowns in concentration. “I wonder what it would be like to meet a god.”

“Hmm,” Jess says, leaning his head on Sam’s shoulder.

“Would it be similar to meeting a random person? Or would it be closer to meeting, like, a huge celebrity crush of yours?”

“Do you have celebrity crushes?” Dean asks, squinting at Sam. “Please don’t tell me it’s anyone gross.”

“Well, obviously, I don’t have crushes anymore because I’m married to my biggest one yet,” Sam says with a smile.

Jess kisses him on the cheek. “Right answer, my husband. Except that we just literally drooled over Alyssa Milano together.”

Dean nods approvingly. “I can appreciate that.”

“What’s a gross celebrity?” Meg asks from where she’s sitting next to Castiel. Dean shrugs.

“I don’t know. Someone who’s really problematic, and uses their platform to get away with domestic violence, for example.”

“Hear, hear,” Bela says, lifting her glass of wine, “we all know who you’re talking about.”

“I don’t know what it would be like,” Castiel says, “to meet an entity I didn’t know exists in the first place.”

“But we do know gods exist, right?” Sam says, and gestures to Dean. “I mean, we kind of have to know something exists, at least. So it could be pretty similar to meeting a celebrity.”

“Or a distant relative,” Petros muses, “I mean. We are all descendants of the gods, no?”

“What would you do if you met a god?” Antheia asks, and the question seems to be aimed at all of them. Sam shrugs.

“I don’t know. Ask a couple of well-placed questions to find out whether they’ve let shit happen in the world on purpose.”

“I’d take a selfie,” Meg states, “it’s something I aim for. Selfies with gods.”

“Sounds nice,” Bela says. “I’d probably start making amends. I mean, if the Christian God, in all the glory he’s presented with in the Bible, turned out to be real… I’d get praying pretty fast.”

“Yes,” Dean hums, making sure he’s looking Castiel straight in the eyes before continuing. “I’d definitely kneel in front of a god.”

He’s proud of how he managed to voice this thought; while nobody else thinks too much of it, Castiel flushes red and needs to look away from Dean. It’s absolutely lovely.

The conversation trails off to how gods from different religions would return to Earth. Dean’s legs are getting numb under him, and he gets up to lean against the metal railing that secures the stairs down. Soon, Meg joins him.

“Hey, stud,” she says, lighting a cigarillo that instantly brings forth memories of some of Dean’s one-night-stands, “what’s up?”

“Nothing much,” he replies with a shrug. “Yourself?”

“Nah. When did you say you’re leaving?”

“On Saturday.”

“Hmm, that could work. I’m planning to go to States myself, and I could leave with you.”

“That’s nice. Where are you headed?”

“New York, New Orleans, anything with New on it. I’ve been rotting away here enough, and I want to see something else than dusty ruins.”

Dean hums, but says nothing. Greece is just starting to unfold in front of him, and if he’d open his mouth now, he’d probably try to talk Meg off her plan — and for no reason in particular, except that he himself is bored with Montana and enamored with a Greek god.

Meg tilts her head. “What are you smiling for?”

“Nothing. Just happy to be on holiday.”

“Definitely has nothing to do with the dreamy captain?”

Dean’s almost proud of the way he can keep from flinching. “Nah. It’s the Mediterranean.”

“You wouldn’t mind if I hit that, then,” she hums. Dean bites his lip for a while.

“Of course not.”

Meg looks at him for a while longer before shaking her head with a chuckle. “You’re a dork.”

She puts out her smoke and throws it into the trash. For a while, Dean wonders how Castiel would react if someone threw trash in the ocean while on his yacht.

It’s not the littering that makes his thoughts drift, because he’d never disrespect Castiel like that. It’s the thought of Castiel angry, fuming, disciplinary . It’s the thought of Castiel pushing him near-violently against a wall, face first, and mercilessly jerking him off with his breath on Dean’s ear.

Shit. He needs to get out of here, right now, before his thoughts manifest physically.

He pats Sam on the back. “Hey, I, uh, I need to go eat some Advil and hit the hay. I feel a migraine comin’ up.”

It’s a lie. It’s still kinder than telling Sam hey, I need to go have a quickie with myself because the Captain in my dreams is too hot, so Dean doesn’t feel too bad.

“You okay? Can I help?” Sam asks.

“Nah, I just… Good night, all,” he says, and locks eyes with Castiel before leaving. For the briefest second, it looks like Castiel understands exactly what’s going on.

*

Dean is too nervous to lie down.

He doesn’t know if he should. Probably, yeah.

He paces around the room wondering if the glint in Castiel’s eyes meant he understood Dean’s situation… Or if he was just regularly pleased to be around his friends, which is much more likely, and thus, Dean should just give himself a quick go and fall asleep.

He flops down on his back, knees bent and the soles of his feet still on the ground, and sighs. It’s frustrating, and boring, and he wants to be with Castiel instead.

Apparently, his god hears the prayer. After a minute or two of tossing and turning in his bed with no immediate plans for that masturbatory experience, Dean hears footsteps.

Then, there’s a knock on the door.

“Come in,” Dean says. Castiel steps in through the door, closes it behind him, and then just stands there. Dean frowns. “Anything I can help you with?”

Castiel tilts his head, scrutinizing him. It’s obvious his earlier desire hasn’t subsided, quite the opposite; his breath is labored, and Dean feels his gaze roam up and down his body.

“I was about to ask you the same,” he says, taking a couple of steps towards the bed. “You seem… preoccupied.”

“Can’t get you out of my head,” Dean admits — is it too much? Nah, better go all in.

“That’s what caused your headache?”

“Nah,” Dean says, “it’s not my head that’s aching.”

Castiel raises his eyebrow — only one, which makes Dean’s heart skip a heavy beat — and leans over the bed, placing his hands on either side of Dean’s hips.

“Is that so?”

“Perv. I was talking about my heart.”

“Isn’t that nice,” Castiel’s voice rumbles through Dean’s veins and he can barely keep himself from bucking his hips. “Look, here’s what we’re gonna do.”

Dean reaches up to place a kiss on Castiel’s jawline. His breath hitches, and it’s the only sign that shows Castiel being just as affected by the situation here.

“We’re going to take it easy now. We don’t want to alarm people on the flybridge.”

“Fuck easy,” Dean huffs. “The things you’re doing to me in my thoughts are nothing but easy.”

“Patience, Dean,” Castiel says, lowering himself to fucking lick Dean’s lower lip with the tip of his tongue, “easy doesn’t mean we’re not getting physical. Is that what you want? To get physical?”

Dean nods. “Very much. I, uh, you’re hot.”

Castiel all but purrs and pushes Dean’s back against the mattress again, this time slowly coming to lie on top of him. It’s been a long time since Dean last felt someone else’s weight on top of him, and for it to be Castiel… It’s almost too good to be true.

He waits for Castiel to initiate the contact, happy that he doesn’t need to wait for long — after a moment of simply staring at him, as Dean has noticed Castiel sometimes does, he ducks down for a kiss. Dean places his hand on the back of Castiel’s neck, letting the other slide down his side, sighs at the pleasure when it deepens and Castiel’s tongue slides against his. Dean’s pretty sure he’s never been this close to heaven, and when Castiel slowly grinds down, Dean shamelessly lets out a groan.

“Cas,” he pants when Castiel’s lips start traveling down Dean’s neck, the kisses deep and incredible, “I… I can’t leave.”

“I know,” Castiel replies, slotting his leg between Dean’s and pressing a thigh against his  almost painfully hard cock. Dean gasps and moans, which causes Castiel to press his fingertips on Dean’s lips.

“Okay, that’s not going to work.”

“Hmm?” Dean takes Castiel’s finger in his mouth and gives it a firm suck. Castiel looks down at it, his eyes hooded, and Dean feels the  twitch of Castiel’s cock against his hip.

“You need to be quiet. Can you be quiet for me?”

Dean blinks, and nods. There’s nothing he won’t do for Castiel when he’s using his voice like that — it’s all of his wet dreams come to life. Castiel slowly moves his hand down to cup Dean’s length. Dean squeezes his eyes shut to not see the way Castiel’s looking at him; completely in awe of his reactions, and so hot Dean could probably come with the weight of his stare.

Castiel keeps it up for a while; just gently running his fingertips over Dean’s cock through his linen pants that are quite probably already soaked from leaking precome. They let themselves get lost in surprisingly slow, yet deep kisses — each of them feels like they’re slowly melding into a single entity made of love and desire — and when Castiel stops moving his hand, Dean starts grinding his hips against Castiel. Then, both of Castiel’s hands are in Dean’s hair as they bring their hips to a slow, almost delicate rhythm that barely gives them enough friction. Dean’s head feels like it’s splitting in two; on one hand, he wants to keep this up forever, getting to know each other with care and time; on the other hand he wants to yell at Castiel to just take him, declare him, devour him.

It’s lust on a level that scares him, because it’s ridiculously close to being helplessly in love; and when Castiel bites and probably bruises his clavicle with slow, definite moves, Dean’s pretty sure it’s both.

“If you,” he whispers, pants, can’t make words come the way he wants to with violent shivers running feverishly up and down his skin, “if you want to do something besides this, I feel I am obliged to tell you it won’t take long for me to come.”

Castiel looks up at him with a grin that borders on feral, but says nothing. Instead, he brings his hips down harder — and Dean needs to kiss Castiel to keep from moaning. He wraps his legs around Castiel’s hips and bucks up, eliciting a stifled groan from both of them. Through the thin layers of their pants and underwear, Dean feels Castiel’s hard length.  Even though he really needs it inside him, like, yesterday, he's perfectly pleased with what he has now. Every touch is a blessing, every kiss a gesture of unwritten praise.

Dean's orgasm starts building slow, and instead of chasing it immediately, he lets Castiel take the lead. It's overwhelming.He's heady, out of breath, almost dizzy, but also grounded to this moment -- a gentle push-pull of lips, hands, hips, breath. He needs to be closer, and he tugs at Castiel’s shirt and his hair; places a hand against his head, slides it to his cheek, and then Dean hears a voice — his own voice — speaking, whispering nonsense. Castiel’s smiling before he ducks in for another kiss, and it's too much. Dean comes long, steady, heavy, hard enough for his whole body to shudder. Castiel stills them with a deep kiss, humming against Dean’s lips, and then leans their foreheads together.

“You’re beautiful, Dean.”

Dean blows a raspberry and clasps Castiel’s shoulders at a particularly heavy aftershock. “You suck.”

“I was hoping it would come to that eventually,” Castiel mutters against Dean’s lips. “Did you mean what you said?”

For a moment, Dean’s chest freezes — did he say something while he was coming? He talked, for sure, but nothing too embarrassing… right?

Castiel seems to be on his wavelength, though, and instantly lets him off the hook. “That you can’t leave.”

“Wanna blow you,” Dean whispers against his lips, because he doesn’t want to think about leaving and crash from the high he’s on right now. Castiel hums.

“As much as I would love that,” he mutters, “to let you suck me and to come between those lips that are made for blowjobs… I have to decline for two reasons.”

“Excuses,” Dean hisses, but tries to smile a bit to let Castiel know he’s not being pressured here.

“One, I don’t think my refractory period is that short.”

“You came already?”

“Hell, yes. Feeling you come against me was fucking hot.”

“Love it when you swear, my god.”

Castiel rolls his eyes. “Two. Do you mean it when you say you can’t leave?”

Dean frowns, wondering why Castiel keeps bringing this up. Eventually, he nods. “Yeah. I feel I’ve just gotten to know you. I can’t even think of my cold house next to mountains and a shitty lake. I want to experience so much more with you.”

“I’m pleased,” Castiel says. “I’ve wanted to… Ask you to stay, but it’s not my place to do that. Now that you’ve stated your desire, I’d like to suggest we see Sam and Jess off on Saturday morning, get rid of the other people on the boat, and go see Kefalonia together. It’s a stunning island.”

The cold that still had its claws on Dean’s chest thaws in a second; he feels he’s on fire. It’s warm from his head to his toes and he wiggles his whole body out of sheer excitement.

“I would love that, Cas. I would.”

“Let’s do it, then,” Castiel says and leans in for a chaste kiss. “Stay with me for a while longer.”

*

Dean dreams.

He dreams of the view of a city that he sees through a hotel room window. It spreads everywhere around and under him, and the last rays of the sun are still giving enough light to keep the electronic lights off.

There’s a man standing next to him, and it feels like nobody he’s met before — he can’t look straight at him in fear of… Of what, exactly?

“It’s a beautiful city,” the man says. “And it looks even more beautiful when you see just a half of it.”

It makes sense for Dean — the man is talking about the place where it’s possible to lie down and see the city rising up from the ground, and it looks like it’s sideways; and if you dip your other eye under the surface, you can see the mirror of it. It’s an after-image, just for a while, before you sink deeper and deeper into Tartarus.

It’s the place where you die, and Dean knows the man is trying to kindly tell him to enjoy the view now; that the end is coming soon, and he needs to appreciate what he has until that moment.

“I’ve got a message for you,” he continues, stretching his calves in a weirdly detailed way. “And it’s as follows.”

Then, the whole image changes. The sky breaks with a loud boom, cracks spreading across the pink hue like lightning bolts that never fade. Dust — or shredded newspaper — starts falling from the sky and the man turns to him with a grin. His eyes are all-black, his mouth is oozing, and suddenly he’s mere inches away, yelling “No!” time and time again.

 

Dean wakes with a jolt. He’s alone in the room, sweaty and shivering, and he wants nothing more than to get a shower. He took one before falling asleep, and he wonders how long warm water on a yacht lasts, but right now he’s reeking and getting really cold really fast, and he just wants to get fresh.

He checks his phone. It’s already eleven in the day.

Shit. Sam’s going to be reprimanding, and Castiel is going to be worried, and he needs to get his shit together because one of the best things in his life happened last night and he can’t lose it over a nightmare.

He takes a quick, mostly cold shower and dresses quickly. In his dreams, he could stay in bed with a lazy Castiel who’d look amazing in sunlight and fuck him into the mattress slowly and reverently.

He decides to ask Castiel whether they could actually stay in Kefalonia for a couple of days. He doesn’t want to keep on traveling if it means he has to wake up without Castiel to hold.

Logically, he knows staying for longer will only make this harder, but he wants to ignore that for now.

As soon as he’s upstairs, he bumps into Sam and Jess, who are currently talking about U.S. politics. Merely to break that conversation before he has to participate, he decides there’s no time like the present to come forward about his plans.

“Guys,” he says. “Uh, you got a second?”

Sam shrugs. “Sure. What’s up?”

“I’m… How mad are you going to be if I don’t join you on the trip home?”

Jess fights a smile that implies she was waiting for this — hell, she looks like they’ve already been talking about this option. Sam, however, keeps his calm perfectly.

“What do you have planned, then?”

“Now that I’m here, I’d like to see if I can find something… Something more than just tourist ruins.”

Sam’s inquisitive expression turns into a glare, and Jess places her hand on his knee.

“Look, Dean,” Jess says. “How many days do you have off?”

“I can decide that for myself. I’ve got a couple of blueprints I’ve got to finish, but they’re only needed at the end of August.”

“Okay. In that case, I think it’s a splendid idea. There’s just one little thing.”

“I’ll pay for my trip home if that’s the case. I’m pretty sure the tickets are non-refundable this close to the date.”

“It’s not that,” Sam mutters, his teeth gritted. Wow, the guy’s pissed. “I’d just like it if you didn’t lie to me all the time.”

Dean frowns. “What do you mean?”

“I think your brother’s really happy for you for finding someone you want to spend more time with,” Jess says, still soothing Sam with her touch, “and he’d like to hear the truth.”

Sam nods. Dean mirrors him.

“You’re right. I’m sorry, Sammy. It’s just something so new that I don’t want to jinx it by talking too much. I don’t want to kiss and tell, because that puts pressure on any relationship, let alone one that’s this new.”

If there’s something in his brother that Dean admires more than anything, it’s his ability to forgive. Instantly, he’s beaming with glee, leaning forward and blinking at Dean.

“So, what happened?”

“I don’t even know. We flirted until it didn’t feel realistic to expect anything to happen anymore. Then, it happened anyway. We kissed, and did it again, and last night he soothed my migraine and asked me to stay.”

“Just like that?”

“Actually, I said I don’t want to leave. I was… Uh, my migraine made me talk silly.”

Dean blushes — half because he remembers what it felt like to be pinned down by the son of Poseidon, and half because Sam literally just reprimanded him for lying. He’s still pretty sure Sam wouldn’t approve of the truth, though.

“Well, if this is what you want, we’ll support you. Just…”

“I won’t fall hopelessly in love with someone who lives this far away, Sam,” Dean huffs with a laugh that sounds only a bit forced. “We both know what this is.”

“Uh, great, then,” Sam says, rubbing his hands together a bit awkwardly, “then there’s nothing to it. You go, man.”

“I don’t think it’s necessary to tell it to everyone on this boat, though,” Dean says, “so if you could—”

“What isn’t necessary?” Meg says. She comes in through the door and starts rummaging around in the galley. “What secrets are being kept from me?”

“Political,” Sam says quickly.

“Great,” Meg says, an obvious eyeroll included in the word. “Maybe it’s better that you don’t. Don’t wanna hear you’re all Republicans.”

“Meg!” Dean yelps suddenly, and turns back to Sam and Jess. “Do you think the person on my ticket could be changed?”

Sam frowns. “Sure, I guess. I need to make sure, but if it’s done before checking in, there shouldn’t be a problem.”

“What’s this?” Meg asks.

“Dean wants to stay behind,” Jess says, getting up to start rummaging as well. They’ve obviously got lunch plans already. “I take it you’re interested in coming?”

“Oh, yeah, I had planned something like that,” Meg says nonchalantly, “not that I’ve looked for tickets yet.”

“You could take my place,” Dean says. Meg squints at him, obviously trying to figure out what has changed since yesterday, but says nothing.

*

The day gets a good start when Petros catches them a European sea bass that’s quickly prepared for lunch. Dean ends up talking fishing with him until everyone grows bored of it and heads out to continue playing board games. It makes Dean a bit sad he didn’t get to know Petros and Antheia better, but they exchanged phone numbers and promise to come to Montana as soon as they decide to travel again.

During the day, the make their way back to Crete again, and this time they acquaint themselves with the Dikteon Cave. It’s a place shaped by nature; high stalagmite pillars rising from the ground and touching the stalactites hanging from the ceiling. It looks eerie, even with other tourists slowly making their way through the structures and railings preventing people from falling. Dean has no doubt that Zeus was really born here. He remembers the story well; of Uranus devouring his own babies at the threat of a usurper, and of Rhea giving birth to their youngest son in a cave,handing Uranus a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes to swallow instead.

It’s a story that’s both tragic and funny, much like all other Greek myths. It doesn’t justify Zeus’ actions later, though.

For a moment, Dean is immensely grateful that Castiel is the son of Poseidon. Then, he remembers all the shit Poseidon has done and decides he’s grateful Castiel is a good person no matter what he want through all those centuries ago, when he was a child.

Does Castiel think the same of him? Does he think Dean is a good person?

He wants to know, but also doesn’t.

In addition to the cave, they visit the National park of Samaria, especially the Samaria gorge. It’s the second place (the Secret Garden of the mansion aside) Dean has seen during their journey that’s lush with green trees and plants, after so long spent at sea or on stony surfaces of the beaches. If it weren’t so hot Dean could mistake this for Montana, too; many of the oaks and pines look similar to his home forest. The prime wildflower season is already over, but there’s still hints of hyacinth and cyclamen around. Castiel picks up some of the flowers and herbs he deems not endangered and promises to make them tea later.

It’s a long day, and after eating dinner at a local bistro, they make it back to the boat ready to fall asleep.

 

On a whim, Castiel suggests they spend the last day traveling to Athens; it’ll be easier for Sam, Jess, and Meg to depart, and they’d also be closer to Kefalonia. Unfortunately that means there’s no time for underwater shenanigans even though the day is hot, the mercury rising all the way to 38 degrees Celsius. It does afford Dean the chance to shamelessly take his shirt off in front of the captain, which by all standards is a victory — although Castiel is very good at hiding his reaction. It’s only when they’re alone on the flybridge that Castiel lets his facade drop for a second, and he promises Dean he’ll have his way with him as soon as they’re alone.

It makes Dean want to retreat to his stateroom immediately. Instead, he makes sure Castiel gets as uncomfortable he his by running his tongue under Castiel’s ear and biting the skin there gently. Castiel gasps and, after Dean retracts his touch, gives him a glare.

So, a success.

Later, Dean finds himself sitting next to Damaris, equally topless, on the chairs of the cockpit. For a while, they make each other laugh with bad puns, but suddenly, Damaris sighs.

“There's something in the air,” she says. “I'm not sure what it is, or whether I like it or not.”

Dean inhales deep before answering. “I don't smell anything.”

She rolls her eyes. “You know what I mean.”

“I really don't. What makes you think that?”

“Something feels wrong. Like… Do you like to watch horror movies?”

“Rarely. You should see where I live. Alone in the middle of the woods means that if I scared myself with horror stories, I would never sleep.”

“Fair enough. Well, it's still the best comparison that comes to mind; it feels like daytime in a horror movie. You know shit ain’t right, but it’s not night and you’re there just like, confused over the relative safety of the situation… While knowing you’re headed towards something bad.”

“Wow,” Dean huffs, “that does sound bad. Any idea why you’re feeling like that?”

“Maybe, but it’s something I need to discuss with my family instead of you… While I am growing fond of you, you’re not as savvy with the folklore of my immediate family.”

“That’s what you think this is? Something to do with lore?”

“That’s what I start with whenever I feel like this. Although I gotta admit, it’s been a while since I last did.”

Dean frowns, completely zoning out, and suddenly Damaris laughs.

“Wow, dude,” she says, “want a better view?”

Dean blinks and realizes he’s full on staring at Damaris’ chest. Instead of feeling embarrassed, he bursts out laughing himself.

“No, I’m fine, thanks,” he manages to say, “and for what it’s worth, that was purely accidental.”

“Nah, it’s fine, even if it wasn’t,” she says, looking down at her breasts. “Paid a shitload for them, so I want to flaunt them whenever I can.”

It’s the kind of statement that’s open for further questions, but Dean doesn’t want to intrude. Besides, what’s there to ask? She’s obviously happy with her body now.

“I wish I had the self-confidence of your boobs.”

Damaris shrugs. “What can I say? It’s only attainable with finally being what you always were inside — no matter what everyone else thought you were.”

Dean nods. There’s a lesson in there he could stand to learn, but it’s a bit too far for him to fetch right now.

“I’d like to get your number,” Dean says eventually. “I’m going to leave too soon to end up back in Mykonos, but I’d like to hang out with you some other time in my life. Maybe you’d want to visit Montana with Petros and Antheia?”

“Maybe so,” Damaris says with a small nod, “but it might take a while. I need to find out what’s going on around here, first.”

“Is there any chance you could tell me when you find out? Send me a text with the titans are rising , or something.”

Damaris laughs, but it’s just on the surface. For a fleeting, scary moment, Dean thinks about the probability of his statement being true.

“I’ll make sure you’ll be the first one to know.”

Chapter Text

Keane: Bedshaped

 

Suddenly, they’re alone.

It happens in a blur, all of it — Castiel moors them on the island of Psyttaleia, where they have a restless night; they leave their yacht on the docks at Piraeus and rent a car they take to the airport in Athens. It’s barely five thirty when they say their goodbyes to Sam, Jess, and Meg, and around seven when they say goodbye to the rest. After a quick wrestle with Balthazar, Castiel bids him adieu as well, leaving their bigger rental to him so he can take the yacht.

It feels like an odd thing to do, but Dean doesn’t question Castiel’s decisions. As soon as they’re outside the airport, Castiel makes a call; Dean only hears words here and there, but he gets the impression that someone has loaned one of Castiel’s smaller boats. Castiel’s happy to hear it’s nowhere too far, and when the call ends, he offers his hand for Dean to take.

“Alright, here’s what we’re going to do. Let’s rent another car, drive all the way to Patras. It’s a three hour drive, and we could stop for a better breakfast at some point.”

“Do I want to know how many boats you have?”

“These are all I have. One for day trips, one for larger amounts of people, and one for two. I’ve gained wealth by scavenging at the bottom of the ocean for thousands of years, Dean, cut me some slack.”

“I wasn’t complaining,” Dean huffs, “but if you think I’m impressed with your possessions, you’re mistaken.”

“Shoot,” Castiel smiles, “one boat too few?”

“At least two.”

Dean waits outside while Castiel handles the rental. He can’t find it in himself to diss on his choice on an electric car; especially since Castiel’s super excited about being able to charge it in places that offer fully renewable energy. If anything, this brings forth a question that makes Dean a bit uncomfortable.

“I think you should know something,” he starts as soon as they’ve made their way to a bigger road and Castiel no longer has to focus on driving. It’s funny how easily he gave the wheel to Castiel — in some situations, he’d rather die than take shotgun. “I have a car.”

Castiel squints at the road, nodding. “Yes?”

“It’s, uh, it’s a Chevy Impala. ‘67. Eats more per a hundred than I’d like to admit, here. It’s… It’s one of the least ecological things I’ve ever seen.”

Castiel nods again, a smile tugging at his lips. “And?”

“And I really love it. It’s a family heirloom I am proud to own. It doesn’t make sense, but I feel more like myself when I’m driving it. Still, I… am growing more and more aware of my choices as a consumer, here.”

“Dean,” Castiel says, his long, beautiful fingers wrapping around the wheel better. “If you love it, and it’s as important to you as you say, you have every right to have it and nobody should judge you for it. If you want to do something, make a donation to an association that helps keep the seas clean, or one that helps preserve rainforests. If you can’t do that, just… Do small things. Try not to waste energy, or water.”

Dean nods, turning to look out. The Mediterranean glimmers in the sunlight. “I want to make sure you’ll be alright.”

“Dean,” Castiel’s voice is heavy with feeling, and he puts a hand on Dean’s knee. “You’re kind. I respect it. Still, you should focus on making the world better for everyone, not just me.”

It’s heavy to hear, and Dean swallows the feeling of sudden sadness. He says nothing, and they drive in silence for a while. It’s obvious that Castiel picks up on Dean’s mood, but instead of asking about it, he puts the radio on. He sings along to some Greek songs Dean has never heard of, but it makes Dean laugh again.

 

They have second breakfast at a roadside gas station. They sit next to each other in a booth, and it’s an awful lot like some of Dean’s teenage dates. While Castiel uses his time to feed Dean baguette and oranges, Dean wonders if he used to feel like this back then, too; like his heart couldn’t contain the feeling for much longer without exploding. He looks at Castiel laughing against the morning sun, and thinks he’s never going to return to who he was before.

“I can’t believe you wanted me to stay,” he ends up saying, because what he really wants to say is far too serious too soon  in any relationship. Castiel leans in for a chaste kiss and brushes his finger against Dean’s nose.

“I can’t believe you wanted to stay.”

Dean shakes his head. “What’s that supposed to mean? Why wouldn’t I want to stay for the most beautiful god in existence?”

“You should see Apollo,” Castiel shrugs, “besides. It’s… Complicated. There have been people in my life who ran immediately after hearing about my identity.”

“Have there been many before me?”

Castiel frowns. “Does it matter?”

“Hey,” Dean laughs, “I’m not gonna get jealous of people who were there before me. You’ve lived for thousands of years, and I’d be sad to hear you lived all of it alone.”

“There have been some,” Castiel nods eventually, “but none of them human.”

“Oh,” Dean says, feeling a blush creep up on his cheeks, “I feel I’ve overstepped some boundaries.”

“I was the one who overstepped. For many gods, there’s a stigma about falling in love with a mortal. Aphrodite fell for, well, Adonis,” Castiel’s frown, never having left his face, deepens, “and was shamed deeply for it.”

“Are you ashamed of me?”

A fire flickers in Castiel’s eyes, suggesting that his feelings are not of shame, but of something that’s a lot closer to what Dean is thinking as well. Instead, he chuckles. “Not in a million years. Like I’ve told you, there’s something righteous about you that makes me want to keep on exploring.”

“There’s not much below the surface, I can guarantee you that,” Dean says, rolling his eyes fondly. Castiel hums seriously, pushing the last orange piece in his own mouth. Dean follows the movement.

“That I want to see for myself.”

They finish eating and get back to the car. It’s only around seventy kilometers more to Patras, and even though Dean loves the view that’s either the sea that expands on their right or Castiel, he can’t wait to stop driving and get to the waves again.

“I meant to ask you something,” Dean says then, suddenly remembering what he promised himself. “Can we rent a place in Kefalonia? As much as I love hanging out at sea with you, I want to sleep in a room, walk to a ready buffet table of breakfast, and most importantly, wake up next to you.”

Castiel’s smile is warm. “I’d love that. I actually —”

He falls silent, and swallows. Dean gives Castiel’s profile the best questioning expression he has, but it’s wasted since Castiel has to focus on the road.

“What is it?”

“I have a place in Kefalonia,” Castiel says, quietly. “It’s nothing grand, just a hut I bought back when I first spent a long time in Mykonos and Santorini, and started missing silence and the greens of nature.”

“Uh,” Dean says, shaking his head, “of course you have a place in Kefalonia. Just one mansion per Greek island.”

“Stop it, Dean,” Castiel says, almost exhausted. “I’m not sure if I appreciate the tone.”

“I’m not sure I appreciate the mansions,” Dean says. Something flashes in Castiel’s eyes again — Dean recognizes it as lust and it instantly sinks deep into his abdomen. Castiel says nothing, and Dean bites his lip to keep from asking… And fails.

“What is it, Cas? Wanna punish me?”

It’s a leap, and a dangerous one; Dean’s deepest desires include Castiel saying yes — it’s not like Castiel hasn’t given him the impression that this could be something he wants. Still, putting it out there like this is scary as hell, but the thought of a payoff is that much sweeter.

Castiel licks his lips. “I might have to.”

It’s an answer that gives nothing away. Just when Dean starts to get nervous and self-conscious about it, Castiel gives him a sideways glance that’s filled with heat. Dean all but gasps and turns back to the road, perfectly aware of the blush that creeps on his cheeks.

*

As they return the car to Patras and walk towards the docks, they make idle chatter. Castiel tells him the smaller yacht could, in an emergency, hold six people. It would not be pleasant, though, and Castiel had already made one of the staterooms into a small working space, which has maps all over it.

There’s tension between them. Dean hears it in Castiel’s voice and feels it all over his own body. He needs to keep on thinking about flying and thousands of cetaceans and other scary stuff to keep himself from popping a boner in public, and it still ends up being a half-hard situation. Castiel seems oblivious to it, though, which is a blessing — Dean has no doubt about how much more difficult Castiel could make it.

A thing Dean never thought they’d do, though, is swimming to catch their boat. Castiel doesn’t talk about it, but it’s obvious the person who had it on loan is a god unwilling to meet humans. The vehicle is left a hundred meters away from the docks, and despite Castiel’s suggestion to pick it up and come fetch Dean, they both end up swimming — and as a simple, weird gesture of how not human Castiel is, he carries Dean’s duffel bag so it keeps dry.

It’s so odd, and makes Dean feel a myriad of things, most of which revolve around humbleness and awe.

The boat is cute; darker in hues on the inside, decorated with shades of peach and rose. It’s another Greenline hybrid, this one without sails, and the layout is pretty much the same compared to the bigger one. Dean instantly feels at home, even more so when Castiel sits behind the helm console and navigates them back into the wide open.

Dean’s just making a post-shower inventory of the food available when Castiel catches his attention with a kiss on the back of his neck. How he’d managed to creep behind him unnoticed escapes Dean’s comprehension, but he’s always happy to be surprised like this. He leans back against Castiel’s firm body and sighs at the feeling of hands roaming on his sides and sliding under his shirt. Dean leans his head against Castiel’s shoulder and for a while, he revels in the feeling of being cherished.

“Dean,” Castiel whispers eventually. “You’re beautiful, and stunning, and I want nothing more than to take my time with you. There’s a place I’d want to show you before that, though.”

“Hmm,” Dean forces out, “it better be worth it.”

“That reminds me.” Castiel’s hands move up until his fingertips find Dean’s nipples. He grazes them gently with his nails and hums approvingly when Dean shivers. “You specifically said you want a punishment.”

“I asked whether you want to give me one,” Dean mutters.

“Oh, but you’re thirsty for it,” Castiel whispers. Dean shivers again, pushing his hips back against Castiel. “Besides, you were very rude.”

In a heartbeat, he’s pushed against the galley counter. Castiel’s hands run down his back and return up with the hem of his shirt, and Dean gladly helps getting it out of the way. His breath stutters at the touch of the cold surface against his skin, and he wraps his fingers around the back edge of it to keep himself at least a bit grounded.

“I’m a kind person, so we’ll take it easy,” Castiel says, “for now. Still, this is the point where I ask you whether you need a safeword.”

“I don’t-” Dean’s voice breaks out of sheer lust and he needs to breathe for a second, “I refuse to sleep with anyone who doesn’t stop when I say stop. I can come up with a word in addition, if that’s necessary.”

“That’s plenty enough for me, thank you,” Castiel hums. “Please, do let me know if you want me to stop. Now, stay still. By still, I mean completely still.”

Dean nods and relaxes against the counter. Castiel puts his hands on Dean’s back again before running them to his hips, pushing both of Dean’s pants down. Dean hears Castiel’s breath get heavier with the view he’s presented with right now, and for a while, nothing happens.

“Dean,” oh god, Dean can feel the word against his skin, “may I touch you?”

“Please,” Dean whispers, another shiver running through his skin. “Please, do.”

Castiel rewards him with a stronger press of his fingers against his hips. Then, he’s quickly maneuvered into a wider stance, and he hears, or feels, Castiel kneeling behind him. Dean feels his knees try to give when Castiel’s hands slide down to his knees and then up his thighs before spreading his cheeks apart a little.

At the first touch of Castiel’s lips against his hole, Dean’s melting. It’s the second time in his life he’s on the receiving end of this, and already Castiel’s making him feel like he’s worth taking care of. He’s also immensely grateful Castiel didn’t ask him to keep quiet. He’s gasping against the granite surface of the counter, gripping the edge harder, and when Castiel adds pressure with his tongue, sliding in a fraction of an inch, Dean yells. The intensity of his pleasure takes him off guard, and it’s not until firm hands grab his ass that he notices he’s been moving; shamelessly bucking himself back against Castiel’s mouth, while also trying to get whatever friction he can to his cocks that’s hanging heavy and leaking between his legs.

“What did I tell you, Dean?” Castiel asks. His voice is a little hoarse, but the authority is overwhelming.

“I’m sorry,” Dean says and can’t stifle the moan escaping his lips. “Please, I can do better.”

“I have no doubt,” Castiel hums, “but let’s see what you mean.”

Castiel licks a wide stripe over Dean’s hole, and the contrast between cooling saliva and the hotness of his mouth is nearly Dean’s undoing. He bites his lip to keep quiet before remembering it’s not quietness that is expected of him, after which he lets all of his pleasure come out in sounds — loud, shameless moans that come out broken because his throat is not used to sounds like this, and it’s weird that he’s ever become a person who isn’t always feeling like this. He’s feeling heady and isn’t sure whether the plea for Castiel to fuck him with his fingers, with his cock, with anything is a silent one. For all he knows, his mouth could already be betraying him, and he’s too blissed out to even care.

As good as it feels to have his ass eaten out, it takes him a while to get to that edge; there’s absolutely nothing touching his cock or his prostate. When he does start to feel the first waves of orgasm hit him, it’s that much sweeter — it builds slowly, completely numbing his brain, and he knows he’s mumbling profanities against the counter and he doesn’t even care, and then Castiel pushes his tongue in, as far as it’ll go, and Dean’s gasping for air he feels he can’t get enough of — he feels Castiel’s tongue move, swirl and twist inside of him and he’s right there, his whole body twitches and cramps—

And then, Castiel leans back, lets go of Dean, runs his hands down his thighs. Shit, shit, shit, he’s so close he’s pretty much half-orgasm — not quite ruined but definitely not satisfied, and he falls off his feet and flops on the floor, and Castiel’s there to catch him when he sways backwards. Kisses are placed on his shoulder, his neck, his upper back, and Castiel’s whispering something Dean vaguely recognizes as praise. It takes a while longer for the words to register.

“You’re so beautiful, Dean, so perfect for me,” Castiel mutters, and Dean huffs out a laugh that makes his muscles clench and ends up making him growl.

“Fuck you,” Dean mumbles back. “Fuck you, you fucking asshole.”

“This is your punishment,” Castiel whispers. “When you’re able, we’ll get you dressed. I’m showing you the place I want you to see, and we’ll moor the boat on my private dock, and I’ll show you my little house. We’ll eat supper that we’re making together, and when we’re done, I’ll make you come.”

Dean whimpers. It’s a needy sound, and he vaguely thinks whether he should be ashamed; instead, he feels proud that the sound depicts perfectly just how empty he feels right now.

“Does that sound like something you can do?” Castiel’s voice is gentle, and Dean knows he’ll not be pushed over any limit he’s not comfortable with.

The words escape his mouth before he can filter them.

“Yeah. But here’s the thing, Cas,” Dean mutters, “I’m gonna need you to fucking destroy me. I want you to fuck me until I can’t walk, leave your fingerprints all over my body, and kiss me until I can’t breathe without you.”

“God, that mouth on you,” Castiel says, obviously a bit affected by this declaration. Well, good , Dean thinks feverishly. Maybe whatever’s going on between them is going to render both of them into poets.

*

For what it’s worth, the place Castiel wants to show Dean is almost worth its cost — and not only because it includes a dive.

The boat is moored seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but with the island of Kefalonia a couple hundred meters in front of them. Castiel hoists the flag of diver down again, but instead of trying to take inventory on what gear they have, he gives Dean a serious look as soon as they’ve sat down on the bathing platform

“How much do you trust me?”

Dean wants to make another remark about how pissed he is about still having a low-key hard-on and how much that affects his level of trust, but instead, he nods. “Enough, I guess. I mean, I’ve been traveling with you for a while and wanted to stay for more. I wouldn’t do that with anyone.”

“Do you trust me to keep you safe underwater?”

Dean frowns. “What does that mean?”

“If we skip the equipment and make a free dive into this place.”

“What… What would you do?”

“Basically, prevent the water from being inhaled. I do know how to control water, Dean.”

Dean shakes his head, aiming for nonchalance. “I don’t know man, sure. Let’s do this.”

Castiel squints. “You don’t have to say yes.”

“I know. I want to see what you can do. Besides, who knows. Maybe diving without equipment is better.”

“Oh, it is, by a landslide,” Castiel says, smiling almost fondly at the surface of the sea, “it’ll be even better once you realize I’m not actively trying to kill you, and you can breathe.”

Dean laughs. “Sounds like an experience.”

“I’ve had humans along. Charlie was the last one I took for a trip under the sea.”

Something suddenly starts gnawing at Dean’s guts, but he decides to leave the question for later. Now, he needs to listen to what Castiel is telling him.

“The most important thing is to breathe. It’s the same with equipment. Whatever your head is trying to tell you about not being able to breathe underwater… Don’t listen, and breathe. Apart from that, just do the thing when you did when you were a child in a swimming pool.”

Dean frowns. “Pee a little.”

Castiel raises his eyebrows. “I was aiming for dive . I bet you liked to pretend you were a dolphin and that there was a whole underwater world around you.”

“I pretended I was a mermaid. Like, one of the seven daughters of Triton, but a male, oh—”

Castiel gives him a rather dry look. “Yes, that was based on us.”

“Fancy,” Dean grins. He dips his feet into the water and wiggles his toes. “So, what’re we gonna find down there?”

“Two things, one of which is eerie. Do you want to know beforehand?”

“Surprise me,” Dean says. Castiel takes his hand and squeezes it gently.

“I’ll make sure you can talk, too, but if your brain insists that you can’t, then you can’t. Got it?”

“Pretty much. Believe you can fly and you can fly, right?”

“Something like that. Ready?”

Dean looks down at his body. He was instructed to put his swimming trunks on after he recovered from the most magnificent almost-orgasm he ever had.

“Ready as I’ll ever be.”

 

At first, Dean doesn’t know what they’re looking at, but as Castiel gestures for them to swim backwards and look again, it starts to come to focus.

It’s a shipwreck.

And by no definition a small one. It’s a rather recent model of a passenger ship — once white exterior now turned algae green and rotten brown. It feels just as Castiel hinted it would, eerie, and Dean doesn’t know what is it about a grand, unmoving thing underwater that makes him this uncomfortable.

He realizes he’s got a question, and after a while he manages to voice his thoughts.

“Is this what you mean by scavenging? Do you dive into shipwrecks?”

Castiel nods. “It is. I don’t usually like to go for ships that are this recent. This is SS Meri, and it’s around thirty years old already, but usually I go for wooden ones that have been forgotten for centuries.”

“What can you fetch from those? I mean, they probably got some stuff that’s worth millions by now.”

“Usually I go for old coins or pretty, timeless things like pearls or jewelry. I don’t take anything that could be pinpointed to a strict time frame, or ownership.”

“Fair enough. Should we go in for a tour?”

“If you think it makes you uncomfortable from here, it’ll only get worse.”

“I would assume so.”

“We could dive through it rather quickly. There’s a lot of souls stuck in there.”

“S- What?”

“Well, humans. Spirits.”

Dean huffs and it comes out a gurgle underwater. “What the fuck, Cas? Now is the time you tell me that there are entities still inside?”

“They’re not stuck or anything. They’re looking for reason. A meaning to their death.”

“I’m sorry,” Dean shakes his head, “but isn’t it one of your fellas who should take care of the souls?”

“Oh, they do a good job,” Castiel assures him, “sometimes souls come back anyway.”

“Right,” Dean says. “So, if we go in there, what will we find?”

“Sorrow, mostly. The feelings of confusion and melancholy. If someone’s really close we can see them, but usually it’s just flickers in the corner of your eye and the sadness.”

“Alright,” Dean says with a curt nod. “We’re going in.”

He lets Castiel take the lead, and it’s obvious Castiel has been here before; he dives in through a window on the side and waits for Dean to join him before taking a turn and starting to head aft. Dean grows more and more uncomfortable as he recognizes locations — stairs towards cabins, a lobby, a duty free shop, and further down, a casino. Dean’s so overwhelmed by his own feelings that it takes him a while to realize some of the sadness isn’t his own. Castiel was right; there’s a sense of longing, solitude, confusion in the halls. It makes him think about all of those times he’s felt sad for no reason in particular, and if they were caused by the same reason.

At one point, he’s sure he sees something in his peripheral vision, and he snaps his head quickly towards it -- only to find a spoon, covered in algae, flowing towards him. He’s not sure if he wants to laugh or cry at the sight.

Eventually, they make it out through one of the windows in the back. Castiel says nothing as he takes Dean’s hand, and while it makes it hard for them to swim forward, the comfort is welcome.

 

Dean’s blessed to find that the second place Castiel wants to take him is much less eerie. They take a dive through a cave, and after a while of darkness and silence, they surface. Light is leaking through the holes in the stone ceiling, and for a while, the place looks familiar; the walls are pretty close to the cave Castiel took him to back when they were on Delos.

But there’s more details here. First of all, the water only reaches a part of the cave, and on the strip of land, flowers are growing. Castiel immediately walks up to them, kneels, and pushes his hands into the dirt.

“What are you doing?” Dean asks, tilting his head at the sight. Castiel starts tugging at the weeds growing under the dahlias, lavenders, and anemones, working in silence for a while. Dean can’t decide whether he wants help or privacy, his sudden change in demeanor shaping the atmosphere into something almost uncomfortable. However, it will take Castiel a while to finish by himself, and that’s what helps Dean make his own decision and get his hands dirty.

Do flowers grow in places that are this scarce with sunlight? Dean sniffs the air, full of different scents from flowers to dust, and wonders whether this place has a significance to Castiel. As if prompted, he starts talking.

“This is my prison,” he says gently, slowly. “A couple hundred years ago, I was punished for something I did, and I spent a while here. I had nothing to do with my time but transport flower seeds here and plant them.”

“Transport as in—”

“As in float over the surface of the sea. It took days and was highly impractical. When I wasn’t planting seeds, I was writing.”

Dean follows Castiel’s nod to the very back of the cave. There are lines on the smooth surface of the wall, long sentences scribbled out with a sharp blade.

“How long were you here?”

“For a while, like I said.”

“How long is that while?”

“A couple of decades. I…” Castiel shrugs. “For me, that’s a blink.”

“Oh, my god,” Dean whispers, “I’m so sorry.”

Castiel shakes his head. “It’s been a long time. I now come here to tend the flowers. Sometimes, bees come in through the small cracks in the ceiling. It’s lovely.”

A new sense of warmth crashes through Dean — a fondness that he’s never really felt before, and he wants nothing more than to tell Castiel that he’s safe now, and that Dean will always come for him and watch bees with him, and god — Dean wishes for nothing more than to breach that gap between whatever they are right now and falling undeniably, irrevocably in love.

When they’re done with the weeds, Castiel busies himself with watering the plants; he’s got a little pot in here that he fills with ocean water. It must be cathartic for him to work as if he were human, and Dean leaves him to it, walking towards the writing instead.

However casually Castiel had tried to play off how he felt about spending time here, the texts on the wall paint a different picture. For a moment, Dean’s not certain whether he’s even allowed to read them, and he turns to Castiel to ask; but he’s already met with a steady gaze and a nod.

Some of the scribbling is in Greek, and some in English. Some so small it’s impossible to make sense of it, but whatever’s visible here is absolutely heart-wrenching — I refuse to feel sorry for what I believe in has turned into haphazard I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I am a good soldier. The worst thing is written right in the middle of it all: I will never be good enough to deserve love.

“Dean,” Castiel says, straightening up and walking towards him. A trail of sea water follows him — Dean wonders if it’s because Castiel needs comfort — and he stops when they’re face to face. “Don’t you want to know what I was in prison for?”

“Of course, but I also trusted you to tell me when you’re ready.”

“Most gods, and other divine beings, have such an odd concept of what humanity means for them. I wanted to protect them, not kill them.”

Dean frowns. “And you—”

“And I spent time here thinking about my crimes towards my kind, yes. And it’s the reason I brought you here, as well.”

Dean hums. “As a fuck you to your kind?”

Castiel lifts a shoulder. “As a gesture that my spirit can’t be broken.”

The uncomfortable thought Dean experienced earlier during their trip comes back, and now he thinks he can manage the question.

“Is it an accident?”

Oh, maybe not. Castiel frowns, tilts his head, and Dean wants to kiss him and forget all about his question.

“Is what an accident?”

“Let me try again,” Dean sighs, “am I here just because I happened to be the one you had to save?”

Castiel squints, and Dean feels hollowness spread throughout his body. He shouldn’t talk about this now that Castiel’s showing him a place this personal to him.

“Dean-”

“No, Cas, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have brought it up. It doesn’t matter. What matters it that you’ve been here, gone through this, and it’s so fucked up I can’t even—”

Castiel places his finger on Dean’s lips. There’s fondness in his cerulean eyes.

“I didn’t bring you here so you could feel sorry for me,” he murmurs. “I brought you here to help you understand who I am, and that you don’t have to stress yourself over my decision to spend time with you. I’ve always liked humans, and you’re not messing me up, if that’s what worries you.”

Dean nods, looking around once more. This is a place of peace, of loneliness, of fear of not being good enough. The Castiel that stands next to him now is strong, determined, and full of life.

“Do you think you could end up here again?”

Castiel shrugs. “I’ve been spending time with Charlie, Damaris, and many other friends, and it’s been fine. I shouldn’t think they care that much anymore. The Dark Ages were a bit dark for the gods, too.”

“It was during the Dark Ages?! Wow. Way to add drama.”

Castiel shrugs and looks at the water still rippling at his feet. “I have a tendency towards dramatics.”

“I can see that,” Dean huffs. “Wanna go?”

Castiel nods and turns around. He turns his head before he walks away, giving Dean a perfect view of that profile that turned out to really be carved out by gods, and says over his shoulder: “For what it’s worth, it might have been an accident that it ended up being you. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel like I hit the jackpot.”

*

The house is the cutest thing Dean has ever seen.

It’s small and turquoise on the outside, with a vast garden growing around it, and at the first step inside the front door Dean realizes this is something truly magical. An old European library atmosphere intertwines with contemporary Greek art, and stained glass pieces hang in front of the windows, throwing patterns and colors all around the large open area of the living room.

“Welcome to my home,” Castiel says, looking around, “one of my friends has been taking care of the place while I’ve been away.”

“You do have a lot of friends,” Dean says absently, trying to take all of the beauty in. It smells like tangerines and bonfire in here. It smells exactly like Castiel.

“Like I said, there are many of us. This person is a nymph, a very kind one at that. She prefers to be alone, so I just let her live here while I’m gone. She leaves all kinds of kind notes behind, so if you find some, don’t be surprised.”

Dean sneaks up to Castiel and wraps his arms around his waist from behind. “Your house is so beautiful,” he whispers. “It looks just like you.”

He revels at the feeling of Castiel leaning against him, humming happily at the touch. “Thank you, Dean. And thank you for seeing my prison with me.”

“Not that it would’ve changed anything, but you kind of took me there without telling me what I was up against.”

Castiel almost snickers . “I know. It’s that you wanted to stay, and instead of detaching yourself from the place, you tended the flowers with me.”

“I loved it. Thank you for taking me.”

“Hmm,” Castiel’s voice is so close , “will you pick up some vegetables with me? Let’s make briám.”

“From a store, I assume?”

“Why would you assume? They’re right there in my garden.”

“God, Cas, you’re impossible.”

“You’ve let me know that,” he says and leads them out to the backyard through a narrow wooden door, never letting go of Dean’s hand. “Alright. We’re going to need zucchini, onions, eggplants, potatoes.”

“I don’t know anything about growing vegetables or the climate around here, but I want to say this can’t be the season for all of them.”

“Oh, ye of little faith,” Castiel hums happily and makes his way to the eggplants. “I am a god. I possess the gift of life.”

Dean lifts his eyebrows. “Who-hoa! The gift of life ?”

Castiel shrugs. “It’s not uncommon with gods, either. I thought you’d done your research?”

“I have, but — uh, I don’t know.”

“Some mortals die an unfair death. Sometimes it happens so that life is restored to them. It’s… Complicated. Some gods are strictly against it, too, and there’s a policy against bringing back to life a mortal some other god has killed. Not without permission.”

Dean nods while picking onions, and the situation he’s in right now manages to catch him off guard yet again. Involved with a Greek god, check. Involved with one of a hundred real-life versions of Percy Jackson , check. In a garden with an immortal deity who wants to make ratatouille, check. Casually talking god politics, check.

Head over heels, check check check CHECK!

 

The food is quickly made, even more quickly seasoned and then thrown in the oven. Castiel excuses himself to a shower, and while he’s gone, Dean looks at his phone for the first time since that morning. It’s funny; a million things have happened since he and Castiel left Sam and Jess at the airport, but it’s likely they’ll be unreachable for a couple of hours longer. Right now, they’re probably almost done with crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Would Castiel be able to check on them? Is he aware of the aerial part above the ocean? Not that it matters, not yet, at least — if Dean hasn’t heard from his brother by tomorrow, it’s a different matter. Right now, he feels indulgent and selfish, and he wants to enjoy their evening together.

The sun is starting to set, and bravely, Dean lights up some wrought iron and glass lanterns around the house. The candlelight makes everything a bit tacky, but also perfect — the view from the windows behind them is that of a paradise, and bringing fluorescent lights into the equation would count as blasphemy.

A record player is in the corner of the living room; it has an ornamental, albeit fake, horn of a gramophone on top of it. Dean opens the lid to see that the last thing that's been listened to is an unlabeled record. There's a bunch of options to choose from in the open canvas box on the floor, but instead, he decides to put the needle on the current selection.

Instantly, he recognizes the opening strum of Moon River, and when Audrey’s voice comes in he forces out a huff of laughter. Wow. This is too much by any standard — suddenly, he's in the middle of a cliche, the most used trope in any book, and it should freak him out. It's not exactly what he grew up with, and for a while, all of his senses are trying to find a thread of toxic masculinity for him to hang on to; but then he notices he's fucking swaying along to the music and the strength and gentleness of feeling loved is all he can focus on.

It takes a while for him to notice that Castiel has returned to the room. He's leaning against the arch of the kitchen, his beautiful wings trailing behind him on the ground, and suddenly Dean realizes the need for open space in the living room — this is the home of a god. This is the place he can keep his wings out, be himself, and forget about the worries of, well, an ocean.

Dean walks up to him, pulling at his hands to wrap around himself, and gives him a chaste kiss. When he pulls back, Castiel’s eyes are shining in the low light, and there’s a gentle smile on his lips.

“Hello, Dean,” he mutters, “the shower’s free, if you want to use it.”

“Do I have the time before dinner?”

“You should,” Castiel says, squinting at the oven for a while, “there’s a clean towel on top of the counter there, and feel free to use whatever you wish.”

“Thank you,” Dean hums, leaning in for another kiss. “Want me to set the table first?”

“No, I can take care of it. Do you have a musical preference?”

“Is this yours or your friend’s?”

“Mine,” Castiel shrugs.

“Then I’m fine with it. Need to know what you’re listening to sooner or later.”

“Could my music taste be a dealbreaker?”

Dean crinkles his nose and brushes Castiel’s cheek with his palm. “I don’t think so.”

 

When Dean’s showered with lavender citrus soap that looks homemade, he starts to get nervous. He’s never given much thought to his physique; he’s been told he’s good looking and that’s what he’s believed. Still, now when he’s looking at himself in the mirror, he sees wrinkles, bumps, bruises, scars, softness around his stomach. He knows Castiel’s not shallow, and that this isn’t the first time today he’s seen Dean naked — and are these thoughts a bit funny to have after he literally had the guy’s tongue up his ass this morning? — but he can’t help the insecurity that feels completely unfamiliar to him. He knows it means his feelings are starting to run deeper than ever before, roaming the fathomless depths of his soul, digging for an amount of love he’s never been able to manifest. It’s frightening, and exhilarating, and if he stands here staring at his naked body for a second longer, he’s going to pass out.

Wearing sweats and a t-shirt he makes his way to Castiel, who’s currently sitting on the living room floor sorting out his feathers. Dean sits down in front of him, admiring his frowny concentration face and the iridescence of the feathers in the candlelight for a while.

“Can I help?” He aims for nonchalance, but it comes out at a much higher pitch than normal.

“Hmm?” Castiel doesn’t look up at him, and Dean wonders how he still feels like he has all of his attention.

“With the wings. I mean, there’s a lot of feathers.”

“Uh,” Castiel casts a look at his right wing, “I guess. This is just a quick groom-through. Straightening out feathers, picking out trash, checking if all the wounds are healing nicely.”

“Definitely something I could help out with, then. Toss me a wing.”

Castiel laughs and flops a wing towards Dean, setting some feathers flying around them. The fondness Dean feels makes his chest ache.

They work in silence, and after making sure everything is fine, Dean just runs his fingers up and down the wings, admiring the soft feel of them. It takes a while for him to notice Castiel’s stopped moving, too; he’s leaning his head against the couch behind him. His eyes are closed and he’s breathing quietly, although rapidly, through his mouth. It’s obvious he’s enjoying Dean’s touch — how sensitive are these things, anyway? — and Dean can’t resist scooting over and placing his lips on the vulnerable spot under Castiel’s jaw. Castiel’s wings twitch as he turns his head to give Dean better access to his neck, and Dean climbs up on his lap before closing his lips on Castiel’s skin again. Castiel places his hands on his lower back, just to hold him close, and when his beautiful wings wrap around them to form the safest little sanctuary, Dean needs to busy himself with more kisses so he won’t cry. Luckily, Castiel’s lips are brilliant, and it only takes a while for them to get from chaste to one of the hottest makeout sessions known to humanity.

It fucking sucks when Castiel pushes Dean away — by an inch or two — and growls that they should be eating dinner now. Dean’s hungry, sure, but the thought of sitting across from Castiel and pretending to talk right now is torture. It seems like Castiel feels the same, though; he hovers nearby when Dean takes the food from the oven and pulls him in for a kiss as soon as the hot pan is out of Dean’s hands. They end up sitting next to each other and feeding each other pieces of zucchini and potatoes. Dean loves the food almost to a level of ridiculousness, but he knows it’s because they made it from scratch. Castiel is also fluent in Mediterranean seasoning, and it makes every flavor come together perfectly.

After finishing with a quickly whipped up ice cream dessert, they make their way to the living room. A television emerges from behind cupboard doors and Castiel sits down on the couch, pulling Dean into his arms. It’s so domestic Dean can’t help but think about how he could have an office somewhere in the island of Kefalonia, and how good it would feel like to come home to his god after a day at work. They’d sit here, and watch TV just like this, with Dean’s back against Castiel’s chest, and end up making out.

“Tell me something about yourself, Dean,” Castiel says with a brief kiss to his temple. “I realized I don’t know all that much about you. What do you do when you’re not working?”

Dean shrugs. “I’ve got this small cottage by a lake, and I might fish, or walk around, or try to occupy myself with my car.”

“I don’t want to seem mean, but that sounds lonely.”

“Oh, mark my words, Cas,” Dean huffs, “I am lonely.”

Castiel’s arms tighten around him. The warmth of this gesture makes Dean want to burst into tears.

“I’m so sorry,” he mutters, placing a hundred small kisses in Dean’s hair. “Although, I can relate. Like we talked about the other day, I’m lonely as well. It’s different, because I have friends I can hang around with… But the time window is short. I don’t really age, and when people start graying and wrinkling, I need to excuse myself from their lives. I can never become too attached, or let people get too attached to me.”

A silence, suddenly heavy and dark, stretches between them. It’s obvious that they’re currently both thinking about the situation between them, but instead of delving further into that, Dean decides to change the course of the discussion.

“Would you rather live forever with your friends or become human?”

Castiel stays quiet for a long while, and Dean wiggles in his arms until they can face each other. Castiel’s frowning, deep in thought, and Dean can’t resist pressing his lips against his jaw.

“I don’t know,” he says then, his eyes suddenly meeting Dean’s with a strange intensity. “Both would bring problems. I don’t know how I’d adapt into a human life after all this time. It’d be hard, for sure. And if I could somehow make my friends immortal… Wouldn’t it be hard to decide which ones to let live forever? What if they said no? I would have to limit to a chosen few and even so, in a span of a thousand years, I’d end up with a weird group of people. They’d be from all over the timeline and wouldn’t get along, and I’d feel responsible for all of them.”

“I see,” Dean says, “it’s hard. For what it’s worth, though, I’d be by your side.”

As soon as the words have left Dean’s mouth, he wants to stuff his foot in there. It’s a huge assumption  he made just now, thinking Castiel would like to spend time with him as a human, or choose him to live with forever.

The thought is tempting, but it’s not for Dean to decide. Still, something he said has turned the gears in Castiel’s head, and his gaze has turned from intense to downright heated.

“We done with after-dinner rest?” Dean asks, trying his best to smirk, but he can feel his mouth already trembling.

“Are we?”

Dean turns all the way around and kisses Castiel — just presses their lips together, listening to the most incredible sound of a god’s breath catching. Castiel’s arms wrap impossibly tighter around Dean, letting him feel the intoxicating strain in his ribs when he breathes, and Dean deepens the kiss, licking into Castiel’s mouth, swirling their tongues together. His arms wind up around Castiel’s neck, which gives him the leverage to bend his knees and grind against Castiel’s crotch and his quickly hardening cock that Dean can feel perfectly against the thin layers of their pants. Castiel moans and Dean eagerly swallows the sound, and whatever resemblance of stability he had gained during their daytime adventures is instantly out the door. He’s deliberately been trying to not think about his outburst this morning, but now it makes perfect sense again; he needs to feel Castiel all over him so that he’ll never forget what happened here. Time is running out — every second brings them closer to their inevitable parting, and he needs this, he needs all of Castiel, everything he’s willing to give, and he needs it now.

“Right,” Castiel says between kisses and is interrupted with another moan caused by Dean’s grind against his cock, “bedroom.”

Dean nods and scrambles himself up, reaches out a hand for Castiel to take and lets himself be guided through the door in the back of the kitchen. The bedroom is light in color and decorated with more stained glass in front of the window, and there’s a bay window on the left. Castiel tugs Dean towards the bed and falls on top of it, pulling Dean on top of him. Every kiss exchanged between them feels like a blessing to Dean; he vaguely realizes he’s never stopped falling since they first met and he can’t bring himself to care right now, not when there’s a perfect, undoubtedly hot god under him.

When Dean busies himself with another trail of kisses down Castiel’s neck, Castiel finds his voice.

“Ground rules,” he sighs and pulls Dean’s hair to get him back up, but ends up fumbling and moaning instead when Dean bites the skin under his collarbone.

“Listening,” Dean hums and lifts Castiel’s shirt to strip it off him. Oh, oh , but the view here is perfect. He runs his tongue over Castiel’s stomach, nibbles and bites and mouths at the skin, and finally, Castiel manages to grab his hair and gently pull him back up.

“Hi, okay, you feel a bit too good,” he says, his eyes shining almost in a surreal way, “wait, let me find my brain.”

Dean laughs heartily and buries his face in Castiel’s neck. Castiel’s hands never leave his body, roaming under his shirt and squeezing with his fingertips while he catches his breath.

“Okay. First of all, wings,” Castiel huffs. Dean instantly presses both his hands on each of Castiel’s wings and squeezes tightly.

“Your call, but I love them,” he mumbles. Castiel suppresses a shiver.

“I do love it when you touch them,” he says. “Alright. Unless we’re in danger, I’ll keep them on this plane of existence. Another thing is that I’m capable of things you haven’t seen before, so. Do you want to keep this strictly human, or…?”

“Wow, Cas,” Dean says with a laugh, “I don’t— you’re gonna have to elaborate here.”

“Well, for example,” Castiel says and reaches down to take Dean’s shirt off, running his hands on the skin he exposes. Suddenly, Dean feels it; while Castiel’s hands roam on his sides, something's moving on his back as well. Rivulets of water make their way up to his neck before starting down again, and while it should be really confusing, they feel as much Castiel as his hands do — exploring, caressing, cherishing, purifying. Dean tries to not delve too deep into the feeling of sin and a personal god to cleanse him, and instead of replying to the question still in Castiel’s eyes, he crashes their mouths together.

Even though he thinks all of his focus is consumed by Castiel’s lips, Dean’s still noticing the way water travels down his back and over his sides to his chest. When it reaches his nipples, it's suddenly cold and warm at the same time, and Dean gasps into Castiel’s mouth. Castiel is shamelessly using the distraction to open the strings on Dean’s sweats. He dips his fingers under the waistband and gently runs his fingers along Dean's length, eliciting a groan from them both, like the feelings are echoing through both of their bodies. When Dean forces himself to focus and take Castiel’s shirt off, they're suddenly flipped around with a whoosh of wings.

The sudden display of strength and raw power has Dean shaking and suddenly, so painfully hard he bucks his hips up. Castiel’s holding himself up and just beyond Dean's touch and frankly, it's the most annoying thing in the universe right now.

“I take this as a yes, then,” Castiel smirks and Dean has to really try and recall the conversation they had just now.

“Like I said earlier,” Dean whispers, raising his jaw almost defiantly, “fuck me up.”

Castiel growls, a deep, celestial sound, and slides down to release Dean from the confines of his pants. Instinctively, Dean bucks up again, and this time Castiel rewards him with a swirl of his tongue against the head of his cock. The water, still circling his nipples in a wider circle now, rushes downwards -- and if all of this weren't enough, Castiel’s wings swoop in to gently follow the trail of Dean's ribs and down his sides towards the hip bones. Dean feels he's an instrument being tuned to an unearthly melody, and every single nerve in his body is singing praise. The thought scares him; it's way too early in the night for him to feel this intense, and he might be done way before he'd like to.

“Dean,” Castiel says, god, that voice isn't human, “how are you?”

Dean forces his eyes open — when did they close? — and realizes Castiel’s taken his clothes off at some point. Is it because he didn't pay attention or because Castiel is a god? Doesn't really matter, because the implication is suddenly clear in Dean's head. He's getting carried away with the sensations and it's costing him Castiel’s pleasure.

“I want you,” Dean sighs, “wanna make you feel good.”

“Dean,” he says again, his voice closer to a prayer, why is a god praying to me, “you have no idea what you’re doing to me right now. If you think you’re not making me feel good, let me assure you,” Castiel’s voice breaks as he runs his hands down Dean’s thighs, “you’re a fucking dream. How are you real?”

It makes Dean so warm to hear Castiel lose himself with indulgent words like this; it makes Dean realize he’s not alone in whatever these feelings are. He reaches up to capture Castiel’s lips with his own again — he bites his lower lip sharply and sucks the spot to soothe the pain, and Castiel’s wings wrap around them again, pulling Dean against Castiel and suddenly, everything feels desperate, and it’s like they can’t get enough of each other, and nothing is close enough.

Dean finally lets his hands roam on Castiel’s skin, from his beautiful shoulders and down his chest, reveling at the gasp he elicits from Castiel when he gently squeezes both of his nipples. Castiel leans back, supporting himself on his palms and bending his wings out again to let Dean roam freely. Dean kisses his way down Castiel’s jaw and clavicle until he reaches his nipples with his mouth this time, and the sounds Castiel makes are no less pleasant. He’s too fucking beautiful, absolutely stunning, and Dean can’t keep himself from biting into the skin, sucking light bruises all over. Every gasp and moan gives Dean courage to continue, to press his nails on Castiel’s back, to sink lower until he’s sure Castiel can feel his breath on his cock.

“Stand up,” Dean says suddenly. Castiel blinks before complying and Dean instantly falls on his knees in front of him with a thud. Castiel exhales sharply and places his hand on Dean’s cheek; a myriad of emotions pass between them, left unsaid for now.  Eventually, Dean kisses Castiel’s thighs and his stomach — he vaguely feels there’s a scar here, invisible in the dim light — before darting out his tongue and licking a narrow, long stripe on the side of Castiel’s cock. Castiel shivers all over and places his hands in Dean’s hair, tugging it gently, and Dean absolutely snaps. It’s been way too long since he’s had a dick in his mouth and he absolutely loves it to begin with, but doing this to Castiel is beyond anything he’s felt before. He sucks the head in, swirls his tongue before taking it deeper, and, the desire inside him flares so high he needs to keep going until he feels the head of Castiel’s cock in the back of his throat. The feeling of a good-sized cock filling his mouth, heavy on his tongue, is exhilarating, and he stills to enjoy this for a while. Soon enough, Castiel’s breaths start getting short, heavy and frustrated, and Dean hums around his length before swallowing around the glans. Castiel’s knees give a little and the grip in Dean’s hair tightens, and as much as he wants to encourage Castiel to fuck his mouth until he comes all over his face, he wants to do the work himself for a while.

He keeps his sucks tight and long, flicks his tongue at the head, licks a wide stripe on the underside. After a while, it’s obvious Castiel is struggling to keep himself still — he’s moaning and shaking, swearing under his breath and his hands are still tightening in Dean’s hair. So, Dean pulls back with one more suck and looks up at Castiel, who’s staring right back, lips parted, filled with an intensity only divine entities possess. It’s funny how much and how little Castiel is a human at the same time.

“Cas,” Dean says and he loves how hoarse his voice is already, after just a little deep-throating, “let go.”

Castiel huffs out a breath and tilts Dean’s head upwards a little. “Don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

“You won’t,” Dean says with a half-smile — god, he wants this to happen, like, yesterday, “please.”

With a groan, Castiel pushes Dean’s mouth open again with a thumb on his jaw. His eyes follow the motion of his glans entering Dean’s mouth, and squeezes his eyes shut right after.

“Dean, you’re gonna be the end of me,” he whispers, and Dean smiles the best he can around the hard length in his mouth. Castiel pushes all the way in, as far as he can; Dean swallows around him again and relaxes his throat, closes his lips loosely and guides Castiel’s hands on the back of his neck.

Then, all bets are off.

Castiel pulls back and slams all the way in again, making both of them groan, and yes, fucking yes, this is exactly what Dean needs, to be filled mercilessly and fucked into oblivion, and his brain blissfully blanks out. He lifts his hands on Castiel’s thighs for support and lets himself be fucked, and Castiel’s breath is catching already and he’s absolutely losing it. Dean never takes his gaze from Castiel, and when Castiel is able he looks back at him until it’s just too much. Castiel lifts his head against the ceiling and all but yells. His wings are shaking and shivering around them and it feels like the air around is concentrating and zooming in on them — and then Castiel makes a broken sound, trying to warn Dean that he’s coming, and Dean’s having none of it, closing his lips and sucking hard enough for Castiel to yell and come hard and thick in his mouth, slowly and roughly bucking his hips through the orgasm.

“Fuck, Dean,” Castiel groans, flopping on the edge of the bed and gathering Dean to his lap with his wing. He immediately kisses him, deep and indulgent, undoubtedly tasting himself on Dean’s tongue. “I… You alright?”

“Hell yeah,” Dean says with a lopsided grin, “god, I loved that.”

“You’re truly something else, aren’t you,” Castiel hums. “Luckily, I’ll get to see exactly what you’re made of.”

They take time to share another kiss, this more careful and deep. Simultaneously, water starts traveling up Dean again; it starts in his toes and envelopes his calves before shamelessly flowing to surround his dick. Dean gasps into Castiel’s mouth, and Castiel effortlessly throws him back on the bed, making him yelp as the springs make him bounce a little. The sound is happy and way too excited, and he’d feel ashamed by it if Castiel didn’t look at him with an expression filled with awe, admiration, and lust. The water makes its way back to Dean’s dick, spiraling up and down his length, and it’s so weird and wonderful that he couldn’t keep silent even if he tried. Soon, too soon for him to get comfortable, the flow heads upwards, making him moan as it travels over his chest and circles his nipples for a second.

“Hold your hands up for me, please,” Castiel says with a surprising tone of authority considering how disheveled he sounded a minute ago. Dean complies and immediately the water wraps around his wrists, and his arms are immobilized.

Dean looks up with awe and a heavy amount of arousal. Fuck, someone has done this to him before, but just because he really wanted to try something like this… And to be here without being prompted to makes his dick twitch and his head spin.

“I’m pretty sure water isn’t supposed to act like this,” he manages to say, and Castiel laughs.

“I don’t know who you think you’re in bed with. Rules don’t really apply to gods like that. Now, let me get some lube.”

For a moment, Dean’s worried it will take long, but Castiel’s hand never leaves Dean’s thigh and he manages to retrieve the bottle from his nightstand drawer one-handed. Then, he’s back close, so close , gives Dean a solid, stunning kiss and wraps a hand around Dean’s cock.

“Your hands good?”

“M-hm.”

“Good. They should give you some wiggle room so try to be mindful of the numbness, okay?”

Dean nods, already losing himself in the feeling of Castiel’s fingers traveling up and down his length.

He doesn’t know how, but suddenly Castiel has his fingers lubed and he presses one against Dean’s entrance, massaging the rim gently. Dean tries to push himself down to gesture that he needs Castiel’s fingers inside him right now , but Castiel just hums, sounding rather amused, and keeps on stroking his dick with his fingertips.

“Cas,” Dean mumbles, “please.”

“Oh,” Castiel says, “we’ve just started and you’re already begging.”

“I need you.”

“I’m right here. And I’ll take care of you.”

Dean lets out a frustrated groan but lets himself enjoy the feeling right now. Castiel’s fingers are hot and clever, and he applies just enough pressure to build up the euphoria inside him, but it’s also obvious he’s not rushing through this; another thing not always a given with Dean’s sexual encounters.

“You’re so beautiful, Dean,” Castiel mutters, “absolutely perfect. I want nothing more than to make you feel good.”

Instead of deflecting, Dean lets the words sink — lets them wrap around his heart and make him glow from the inside. He feels beautiful like this; tied up, moaning, fingers on his cock, slightly out of breath.

Castiel gently pushes his finger in through the tight ring of muscle, and keeps the slow push on until his finger is fully inside. Dean’s groans grow louder and he’s moving his hips again — another flow of water rises through him and stops around his stomach and chest.

“Patience, Dean,” Castiel growls.

“I’ve,” Dean gasps when Castiel pulls his finger out and pushes it back in, this time faster, god, that’s perfect, “I’ve been patient.”

“I know, and you’ve done so well,” Castiel says, “and the desserts will be just.”

He finally wraps his fingers around Dean’s cock and gives it a couple of sharp jerks before returning back to using his fingertips. It’s hot, and frustrating, but he adds a second finger then and everything whites out for a second when Castiel hits Dean’s prostate. Dean moans loudly, almost yells, and when he inhales sharply, he feels the water band around his stomach and chest tighten. It feels more safe than it does constricting, like he’d been tied up into a gentle harness, and he feels absolutely cherished, cared for, loved.

The edge closes in on him, and Castiel notices it — the second his muscles start clenching around Castiel’s fingers, he presses them against his prostate and lets go of his cock. Rivulets of water surround his length again, and Castiel concentrates on moving his two fingers deliciously inside Dean; they circle his prostate relentlessly, until Dean feels he’s seconds away from exploding completely. He’s not sure whether it’s his shivers or the water that rolls on his skin, and the way he’s tied up is too fucking perfectly fantastic, and Castiel’s fingers are so stunning.e’s not even over the best rimjob of his life that happened this morning, and logically he knows, he knows he’s coming already, his orgasm is right there, coiling under his skin and running in his blood. He vaguely realizes that if Castiel was fine-tuning him before, this is the fucking grande finale, the masterpiece, the magnum opus, his endless crescendo towards release — he’s tugging and pulling at the water around him, screaming into the open air around them, relentlessly fucking himself against Castiel’s fingers with the little wiggle room he has.

Castiel releases his fingers, leaving Dean to clench at the sudden emptiness, and their lips crash together hard enough to bruise, but it’s so good, it’s so good , the water’s still surrounding his cock and swirling and prolonging the already endless orgasm, and Castiel, the fucker, has the nerve to laugh gently.

“Don’t,” Dean manages, “don’t laugh at me!”

“I’m stunned, Dean,” Castiel whispers reverently, “just when I think you can’t be more, you’re a thousand times more. That’s why I’m laughing. I adore you. I fucking worship you, Dean Winchester.”

“Fuck me, you ass,” Dean hisses, gritting his teeth. Castiel hums and places another kiss on Dean’s lips.

“Condom?” he asks.

“Nah,” Dean says, then frowns, “aren’t you supposed to be a god? Do you need condoms?”

The water tightens and reminds Dean just how sensitive his skin is right now; he lifts his hips against thin air and moans, and why the fuck is he still on this brink of almost , he’s never felt anything like this before—

Feeling Castiel’s hard, thick cock against his hole still beats everything in the universe. He pushes against it the best he can, urging Castiel to get on with it already.Maybe his personal god is listening, because he pushes all the way in, hitting his prostate and making Dean’s ears ring. Castiel’s wings spread in the room, making him seem ethereal and impossibly gorgeous, and he uses them for leverage when he thrusts inside Dean again. There’s shiver-waters on Dean’s body once more, and he’s not sure if he’s coming already, or if he’s ever stopped since this morning, and then, something else — something almost scary coiling inside of him, like bright light or a forest spring. Grace , he realizes feverishly, this is the essence of Castiel, the very soul of a god pouring inside of him, and his hands snap free and they’re immediately on Castiel’s face, pulling him in for kisses and kisses and kisses, his muscles are spasming, he’s all worn out. Castiel quickens his pace, pounding him just as mercilessly as Dean only dreamed of before, and warmth, no, heat begins to pool in his abdomen and he realizes his ecstasy is taking on another layer and he’s yelling against Castiel’s lips, all of his muscles clenching and cramping. He can’t come this loud, it’s not physically possible to come this loud, and the ringing in his ears turns into white noise and he hears Castiel reach his own orgasm before it becomes an all-consuming sound, sight, feeling, being and he explodes, feels light beaming from his soul and mind, and falls into the soft darkness that envelopes him.

 

Chapter Text

Hurts: The Water

Unkle Bob: Swans

 

It's a long way back up. It's like Dean is diving in deep waters, surrounded by complete darkness. For a while, it feels like death, but it's too warm for death; everything is love. From the currents running under him to the bubbling feeling in his heart, everything is love.

Castiel’s voice is there, obviously, gently guiding him through it. His touch is on the balls of his feet, traveling up to his calves, applying gentle pressure. It's calm and beautiful for so long, Dean loses all time and meaning and is completely focused on being instead of doing.

Cared for. Loved. So, so loved.

But like all things, this ends. It might last for a lifetime, and then, eventually, Dean feels something that makes him want to squirm. It's like someone's watching him somewhere close by, in the warm water just behind him. He tries to ignore the feeling until it's taking all of his strength to ignore it, and then he turns.

It starts ricocheting through the ether — fear. Starting with red pulses and filling the atmosphere with something’s-not-right until Dean tries to breathe and his lungs are filled with water. There's something in the water, a predator unlike any cetacean, and he's just ruined his chances of survival by trying to breathe. This is how it ends. This is death.

“Dean,” Castiel’s voice is stern and it pierces through the waves. “Come back to me.”

Dean blinks his eyes open in the dim bedroom. Castiel is at his feet, still massaging his calves and shins gently, but his eyes are alert. His wings are gone, as is any semblance that he's not human. Dean instinctively reaches his hands out to him, begging for his weight on top of him, desperate to feel his touch. He's lucky, because his god agrees it's a good idea, and for a second they're forgetting themselves and indulging in deep, almost serious kisses.

Still, all too soon, Castiel breaks the kiss and leans his forehead against Dean's.

“How are you?”

Dean groans. His voice is hoarse to the brink of gone and all he wants to do is sink into sleep with Castiel as his pillow. He tries to fall asleep, just a little, but Castiel kisses his forehead and huffs a breath into his hair.

“I'm sorry, beloved, but you're going to have to stay awake for a while.”

Is that worry in Castiel’s voice? Dean opens his eyes and scoots himself up a little so he can lean against the headboard. Castiel joins him, thankfully sitting more upright so Dean can bury himself in his arms. With his free hand, Castiel starts drawing heavy circles on Dean's forearm, applying just the right amount of pressure for it to feel perfect on his tense wrists.

“Please answer me.”

“Was I out for a bit? Did I legit fall asleep?”

Castiel laughs gently. “You blacked out. I… I don't know if my powers were too much for your human body, after all.”

“Pfft,” Dean manages. “Don't flatter yourself, god. It wasn't your powers. It was you making me come so hard I'm pretty sure I saw through space and time for a while.”

“You do realize this sentence makes no sense?”

“Does, too,” Dean mumbles, nuzzling at Castiel’s neck. “Are you letting me sleep now?”

“Only if you let me take care of you tomorrow. Bathe you in the ocean. Feed you fruit from my garden. Make you come a little less intensely.”

“No,” Dean mutters, already half asleep. “Mutual taking care of. And if you start holding out on me after this, I will never let you touch me again.”

Castiel hums, pressing kisses in Dean's hair until he dozes off.

 

Castiel keeps his promise the next day, and the days after that. He takes gentle care of Dean, takes him for short boat rides to his favorite places around the closest islands, feeds him more fruit than Dean's ever eaten. They have sex; gentle, rough, fast and slow, and during one of those times Dean fears he yells he loves Castiel, but even if that turned out to be true Castiel never brings it up again.

They have dinner on the beach with lanterns lit all around them, and it feels like they're trying to tick all the cliche travel brochure boxes in the world. Castiel shows him the beauty of Kefalonia, the woods and the hills and the bays, and he kisses Dean in the moonlight, and they wake up to exchange lazy handjobs, and for a moment, everything is perfect.

Then, it ends.

 

Dean still has odd dreams. Mostly, he doesn’t think too much of them; but every night, for a short period of time, he’s returned to the hotel room with a view over the city. Some of the dreams have the same atmosphere as the underwater; someone's watching him, someone more menacing than the man standing next to him in these dreams. The man, on the other hand, sometimes talks in riddles, sometimes plainly asks him to reconsider — Dean asks him what and is met with a meaningful silence, and all of this is fine until one night, everything changes.

They're standing again, the man with his head tilted to see the half-place between living and dead, of dream and awake. Dean's never seen his wings before, but now they've manifested behind him; dark brown, golden flecks here and there. Dean watches the city lights come on, because for some reason, sunset is a permanent state here. The skyscrapers rise high, and the needles on top of them do exactly what Dean always thought they logically should do; they leave scrapes on top of them, white lines in the matte roses and peaches like an electroencephalogram.

“It's time,” the man next to him says, his voice serious and dull. “It's time for you to meet him.”

“To meet who?” Dean asks. It sounds like he's underwater.

The man sighs. “There's something I've been trying to tell you, but time is running out and we've got to hustle. Don't shoot the messenger.”

A bang comes from somewhere behind them, and for the first time since he started having the dream, Dean becomes aware of the space they're actually in. The windows are made from tinted glass and a bright light comes through them, spattering the floor with blues and greens. It looks like a cathedral, but the mood is not as serene as it would be in one; it’s closer to chaotic. Even though Dean can’t hear it completely , there are distorted tunes of various instruments in the air.

The back wall seems to be moving — zooming out, somehow, receding — until there’s a hallway in front of them. Dean’s scared, but he also feels frustrated by the unnecessary party tricks. He’s just about to turn his back to the man and scold him for the extra dramatics, but then there are footsteps in the hallway. They don’t sound like those of a human’s; something’s sliding along the floor with every step, sometimes they fall out of rhythm and, once or twice, Dean can hear the flapping of wings. They’re nothing like Castiel’s; where his sound fluffy and airy, these sound like skin.

Eventually, the creature comes into view. It’s at least ten feet tall, menacingly postured, and carrying something — a body, Dean realizes. It takes him a lot longer to recognize the corpse, bleeding and broken and obviously mauled, but when he does, it feels like the bottom of his stomach falls out of his body.

It’s him .

It’s Dean Winchester, dead and hanging in the arms of this, this creature that’s something he has never seen before. Its hair is made of red, blazing fire, dog heads are barking on its waist, large wings similar to those of a bat’s are folding behind it and when it opens its mouth to a feral grin, Dean sees sharp teeth — so many sharp teeth in that mouth. It’s like an odd hybrid of Scylla and Empusa, and for a second, it almost makes sense—

And then Dean sees its eyes.

Mediterranean blue, brighter than any star. Even when his eyes are glowing with unnatural light, Dean recognizes these are the eyes of the man he loves.

He turns back around to the window because he can't see this; he can't bear witness to the most beautiful thing in his life, and the undeniable evidence of his involvement in Dean’s own perdition, all in one horrendous frame. He heaves, supporting his weight on the cool glass of the window with this spread fingers, and waits for his breath to catch.

When Castiel talks, his voice is normal.

“Dean,” he whispers. “What's going on?”

Dean squeezes his eyes shut, steeling himself to meet Castiel’s eyes. When he turns around, he's back in the bedroom. Castiel, his beautiful Castiel is in front of him, worried and sleep-warm.

He inhales to explain something about sleepwalking, but instead, he lets his lungs deflate like a sad balloon.

Castiel’s considering him openly, reading his expression, squinting a little before something settles behind his eyes and he sighs.

“Nothing,” Dean says, but it’s too late — whatever Castiel decided, it’s already in motion.

“Come back to sleep,” he whispers, his voice sad and gentle. “I want to hold you.”

Before moving, Castiel briefly lifts his hand on Dean’s forehead. The spot feels tingly for a second, and then Castiel presses a kiss on the spot.

*

When Dean wakes in the morning, Castiel is sitting at the foot of the bed. His back is turned to Dean, and immediately, a cold sense settles around Dean’s heart; somehow, he’d managed to mess this up. It’s a situation they’ve never been in before, and he doesn’t know what it will take for Castiel to forgive him, but fuck, he’ll do anything. He’ll kneel again and actually pray this time. He’ll make amends. He’ll worship every inch of that beautiful body, including Castiel’s magnificent wings and his brilliant, brilliant mind.

“Are you awake?”

Castiel turns halfway, and Dean gets a glance at that shaped-by-the-gods profile. It’s one of the first things Dean fell for, and now it makes his chest ache even worse.

“Yes,” Dean whispers. He couldn’t talk loudly even if he wanted to.

“We need to discuss something,” Castiel says, turning back to face the wall. “I’m taking you to the airport today.”

It’s not like Dean didn’t see this coming; it’s already written everywhere in the apartment, the atmosphere of departure. Still, he can’t help asking.

“Why?”

“It’s complicated. First of all, there are things I need to attend to. Manners you don’t know — you possibly couldn’t know about, because you’re human.”

“Heard it through the grapevine that Zeus needs a haircut?”

He doesn’t know where any of his words are coming from. He aims for funny but ends up sounding as miserable as he feels.

Castiel huffs. “It lead me to thinking about something, Dean,” he says, and finally turns around to face him. There’s seriousness in his eyes, and a practiced calm.

“Yeah?”

“You’re only human. Many things are beyond your comprehension, and I didn’t think it through when I got involved with you.”

Dean sits up. He feels like he’s going to throw up and it’s better not to do it in the bed of a god.

“Uh-huh. Okay,” he manages.

“But it’s like I said. You’re alive now, but you’ll be dead the next time I turn around. Humans are so fragile, and they live for such a little time. I can’t let either of us sink deeper into this because we know it’s going to end so soon.”

“It’s,” Dean says, definitely feeling that bile climbing up his throat. “It’s not that short of a time for me, you know? It’s my fucking lifetime.”

Castiel shakes his head. “Yes, for you. It’s… Uh, I’m not sure I can put this in terms that you understand. The way I feel for humanity, and my brothers and sisters, and all of my siblings, it’s this… profound, unearthly, universal love that humans aren’t capable of feeling. To know you could never love me the way I’d eventually fall for you, and combining that with you dying what basically feels like right now … Dean, I don’t want that.”

“Cas,” Dean says and scoots closer, his whole body shaking because no, no, this is not fucking supposed to happen, this can’t happen, why the fuck is this happening right now it’s too early and it feels like there’s stones in his bloodstream, “where is this coming from?”

Castiel looks him in the eyes, and that’s the absolute worst of all the bad things going on here, because it’s not supposed to be decided for both of them already, but Castiel’s gaze is steady and certain. “It’s been simmering for a couple of days, but I got a message last night that I’ve got to take care of some business at the Baltic Sea. I started thinking about leaving you here for a couple of days to take care of yourself, but because I’m a god and time passes differently for me, it could be years before I’m back. Then, you’d be older, and bitter, and hate me for abandoning you, while my love for you would’ve kept on growing, because we’re fundamentally too different.”

Dean takes Castiel’s hand, and Castiel lowers his gaze to it.

“Cas,” Dean whispers. “Please. This isn’t you.”

Castiel shakes his head and gets up from the bed, dropping Dean’s hand flat on the bed. “And what do you know about me? We’ve only known each other for a couple of days, and half of those days, we’ve both been too driven by our desire for each other.”

“Right,” Dean says, his confusion changing shape into anger — ugly, self-targeted wrath. He rises from the bed and stomps to the bathroom to collect what little belongings he has here because okay, if this is what Castiel wants, Dean’s going to comply fast — to what end, he doesn’t know. He realizes he’s vaguely hoping that Castiel sees him packing and changes his mind, but it’s not going to happen and the worst thing is that it makes so much sense. Whatever petty feelings Dean has are not comparable to those of a god’s — how could they be? — and it’s the story of his life; always feeling too little, too much, or too wrong.

He shouldn’t even be surprised, and maybe that’s why he doesn’t even bother arguing with Castiel. What would be the point? The more he stomps around the house, the more he feels ashamed by pretending he knew Castiel to begin with. Who is he to know a god? Fucking Dean Winchester, the guy who almost drowned and who, by all standards, would’ve been better off had he drowned, has again tried to reach for the highest branch and is reminded from his rightful place.

“I’m ready,” he says gruffly as soon as everything is packed. Castiel blinks at him, looks at the bag in his hands, and nods.

“Then, let’s go. I’ll take you to Anna Pollatou airport, that’s all I have time for. You should get a flight to Athens from there.”

“I can take a cab,” Dean huffs. “Anna Pollatou, was it? Shouldn’t be too hard for me, even though there’s very little I understand from this fucking mundane human point of view.”

Hurt flashes in Castiel’s eyes for a split second and he hovers closer to Dean, but steels himself quickly. “I’m sorry I’m so blunt,” he ends up saying. “You deserve to be eased into it, but I really should be going already.”

“Hey, no worries. I’ll see myself out. I just love flying and being fucking dumped on the same day. That’s the fucking stuff.”

He steps out before Castiel can say more, and is only mildly surprised when he calls him from the doorway.

“Listen,” Castiel says. Dean turns on the pavement, spreads his hands questioningly and tries to keep from throwing up on Castiel’s yard. “I have to ask you to keep my identity a secret. To your brother, too.”

“What the fuck, asshole? In what world would I tell anyone?”

“In the world where I hurt you and you love your brother, maybe,” Castiel says with a shrug. For a moment, he’s the person Dean knows, and it makes his heart ache. “Also, uh, please don’t seek me out again.”

The whiplash makes Dean’s chest actually crack — his muscles tense so fast his cartilage snaps somewhere. “Whoa, well. Rest assured. This amount of cold water will probably keep me cool for a while.”

“Dean, I do love you,” Castiel says, quickly, as if a fast afterthought.

“Fuck you,” Dean hisses and turns around. “And vice versa. Next time you want a human booty call, hook up with someone who’s good enough for you, and leave me the hell alone.”

*

Chapter Text

The Bravery: The Ocean

 

Airplanes suck. Dean throws up three times at the airport, and once in the air.

Amsterdam sucks. Dean remembers him, Jess, and Sam sitting on the bench, and he wants to go punch his past self and make him run back home.

Castiel sucks. Castiel smells like shit and that shit is stuck in Dean’s clothes; sandalwood, oranges, the Mediterranean sea, the grove they kissed in, and Castiel’s bedroom.

Dean sucks. He sucks more than anything else, because somewhere along the way, he’d forgotten his worth amounts to nothing — and dived right in.

As soon as Dean steps inside his house, he’s overwhelmed by the feeling of sadness.

It’s not the sadness he’s carrying with him; it’s the one that’s been waiting for him. It instantly brings Dean back to the feeling he had in the shipwreck, the feeling of confusion and longing.

He doesn’t want to think about what this means, because there are really only two options — one, someone has died in this house, and he just never understood the feeling of melancholy before being fine-tuned to it back at the wreck… Or two, it’s his own sadness, sunk into the walls, seeping from the furniture, waiting to envelop and swallow him again.

It’s hard. However angry Dean is at Castiel’s you’re-not-good-enough-but-I-love-you game, he’d already mentally started moving on from this lonely cabin that feels like a bunker. It’s hard to realize nothing has changed, and he’s in the same situation he was before leaving. He could just get back to work tomorrow and go on with his life.

Instead, he cleans up. He’s jetlagged, tired to the bone and unable to sleep, so he starts stripping the sheets from his bed and tosses them in the laundry machine. He pulls all the carpets and rugs out, and as he sees them in the low afternoon light he decides they all look like shit and he should redecorate. He almost calls Sam and ask for his advice before deciding against it.

No time for talk yet. He needs to do this alone.

Eventually, he falls asleep fully clothed in an unmade bed.

The days pass by, but they do so at an agonizingly slow speed. Because Dean doesn’t need to stick to a schedule with his work, he doesn’t need to keep track of weekdays. It’s the way it’s always been, but it still frustrates him that it takes more than a week for his new rugs to arrive. Online shopping has never been Dean’s forte, but he’s proud of what he ends up with; warm greens and oranges, ornate patterns to replace single-colored ones, because anything that makes this place feel fuller is what Dean wants right now.

When he’s not redecorating, he takes walks in the forest. It’s cathartic, because during those moments it’s only him with no expectations of what he should be doing. Usually, he walks far enough to get hungry, and after the first day he never makes the mistake of not bringing snacks along. He’s never been that much of a jogger, but soon enough walking no longer feels like it satisfies whatever his body is craving.

Eventually, he starts heading upwards. He’d never thought about climbing the mountains, but greeting the sun in the morning from up high makes him oddly happy. The feeling of each climb being easier than the former makes him proud, and for a while, he feels his life is starting to come together again.

Of course, that’s a blatant lie. It takes more than three months for him to wake up to his own crying -- it was always inevitable — but it’s unfair how beautiful Castiel is in his dream. He places gentle kisses on Dean’s ankles, and his eyes are shining when he looks up at him. They’re lying in the bedroom of Castiel’s Kefalonia house, and it feels more like home than his cabin ever did, and Castiel’s magnificent wings are spread loosely around them both while still somehow letting light in. It makes sense for Dean, because dream-Castiel’s wings are made from water.

Then, he’s awake, and somehow already crying even though happiness was all he felt in the dream. It’s the kind of gross sobbing that’s not helpful in the slightest; the more he cries, the more he needs to get it out, and it’s heavy weight on his chest that tries to choke him, and why the fucking hell did he have to go and fall in love with a god? Who in their right mind does that? The realization makes him yell through the following minutes, and the bed is too hot and he gracelessly falls off it to sob against the floor instead, and he screams all of the questions that are in his mind that mostly start with why until he’s out of fuel and falls asleep again.

He never really recovers from that. He’s blessed his house is nice now, so it offers a nice environment for him to sulk in. When it starts, it doesn’t really stop anywhere; he doesn’t want to open the curtains anymore, or get dressed, or really do anything else besides walk around the house with a blanket draped around his shoulders and eat a shitload of cookies and crackers in lieu of real food.

Sometimes he even gets too deep into it, because the feelings that strangle him from the inside out remind him too much of those he went through after John found him with a man. Talking with a psychiatrist had helped him get over those feelings, but the things that happened can never un-happen, and he feels, for the first time in ages, the need to stand in a hot shower until he’s clean.

He talks with Sam a couple of times over the phone, but doesn’t really go as far as telling him what went down back at Greece. They keep their conversations to shallow topics, mostly revolving around Sam’s job. The guy’s so excited, and it makes Dean feel good that at least one of them ended up in a happy place in their life. Once or twice Sam tries to talk about Castiel, and if Dean has plans on meeting him again. Dean very promptly tells Sam that he’s never boarding a plane again, and that’s all there is to it. Eventually Sam understands better than to ask, and he invites Dean for a getaway in California which he politely declines for now.

The snow settles on the ground around December, and it makes some of Dean’s energy return. He gets back to taking care of his house, fluffing pillows here and there, and when he’s not busy doing that, he designs some shitty SMS’s for clients who don't respect his input anyway, asking for tons of improvements.

Suddenly, he's unable to stop thinking about Castiel. And it's not just his last words; it's everything from his smile to the pride he takes in gardening, from the press of his body against Dean's to the way he hoists the diver down flag on the pole. Months have passed, and Dean still remembers how it feels like when they're almost kissing, and how the fear of rejection almost topped his fear of flying.

Is it better to have had and lost than not had at all?

*

Dean spends the holidays alone, trying to completely block out any thought of family. He sits in front of the television all day, making his way through classic movies and even cartoons. He doesn’t want to make it feel too much like Christmas, so he doesn’t cook; instead, he warms up a microwave meal and has frozen brownies and coffee for dessert. He feels even that is better than what his sorry, human ass deserves,

He’s just finished with A Christmas Story for the second time when there’s a knock on his door. He wraps himself in a blanket and walks to the window first; no need to open the door if it’s someone he doesn’t know. There’s no mistaking who the Volvo hybrid in the thick layer of snow belongs to, though, and rolling his eyes, he makes it to the door.

”Oh,” he says blandly, “surprise guests are what I've always loved. I mean, why else would I have moved here?”

Sam, packed in a freaking ski jumpsuit complete with a scarf and a beanie, gives him a bitchy look.

“For the love of god, asshat, let me in. It's cold as balls in here.”

Dean shrugs but can't find it in himself to shut the door on his brother — nor does he really want to. He uses his blanketed hand to gesture for Sam to enter and flops on the kitchen stool with what he hopes is a mortified expression.

“Happy holidays, brother,” Sam starts, taking his beanie off and revealing a rather beautiful static electricity situation. “I was passing by after a conference in Winnipeg and I just… I know this is how you spend your holidays.”

“For a reason,” Dean huffs, and when Sam gives him a sad glance, he knows he needs to meet him in the middle — after all, they only want the best for each other. “Look, I'm glad you came. I just wasn't prepared for visitors and it can make me a bit grumpy. That said, if you wanna stay for a while, we can drink mulled wine and catch up.”

“I'd like that,” Sam nods with a sparkle in his eyes. He looks around the cabin for a while, obviously aware of Dean's post-breakup redecoration spree, and manages a warm laugh. “So, what have you been up to when you're not driving people away like the angry old man you are?”

Dean shrugs. “I don't know. Not much. Working, watching movies, eating, walking in the mountains.”

There's a hint of a frown on Sam’s face, but it's gone fast. He nods.

“Sounds like normal life, then. I'm glad you're getting back on schedule, because frankly, I've been worrying about you. You haven't really sounded like yourself during the calls.”

“Haven't felt like myself, either,” Dean says, wrapping the blanket tighter against the sudden chills running through his body. He needs to deflect this before it gets too serious. “So, isn't Jess gonna be pissed at you when you're away on such an important time?”

“No,” Sam smiles wistfully. There's a story there that Dean needs to try and get out of his brother later. “She's currently with her family, and they probably won't even notice I'm gone. Between four of Jess’ sisters, there's nine children running around the place.”

“Ouch,” Dean barely manages to keep the cringe off his face. “Sounds loud.”

“To you, snowfall sounds loud,” Sam says, rolling his eyes. “So, what about that mulled wine?”

 

Dean's glad to notice nothing really changes. Instead of watching A Christmas Story alone again, Dean watches it with Sam, both of them huddled in blankets and throwing brownies in their mouths. It's cozy, the way their childhood home was when they were alone; there's the looming sensation of something coming to ruin everything soon enough, but they're determined to ignore it together.

Dean wonders if Sam ever found out what happened to him after John found him with a guy. One day he's going to talk about it, but not now — besides, he wanted Castiel to be the first one to know.

Shit, and here he goes again. An abyss materializes in his chest, an all-consuming angry power of the universe ready to swallow him whole. Sam instantly picks on his mood and turns to look at him, but Dean forces himself to keep his eyes on the television.

“Dean,” Sam starts eventually, “can I ask you something?”

“I've got a feeling you're gonna ask even if I say no,” Dean says. Shit. He needs to be kinder.

“Don't answer if it makes you uncomfortable, but, uh, usually when I come around you're buried elbows deep in research. Now you aren't, and you don't even mention it. Did something throw you off the trail?”

Dean frowns. “I don't… I don't know how to answer that without lying.”

“I'm going to take that as a yes, then. Nobody told you to stop, though, right?”

“Oh, no, no. Everyone I met was very encouraging,” Dean assures him. Shit, he needs to share something. “It just hurts. I don't… Castiel and I didn’t part on good terms.”

Sam sighs, rubbing his hands together, probably to warm them up. “Yeah, I kind of figured that out. What happened?”

“We just didn't see eye to eye about what we wanted.”

“Huh,” Sam squints in concentration. “I wouldn't have guessed. You seemed to… be on the same page. I mean, he asked me for—”

Sam shuts his mouth with a snap and turns his gaze to the TV. Dean wonders if he should let it slide; any knowledge of what Castiel thought of Dean before it all went wrong would be painful. But damn it, he’s too curious for his own good.

“He asked you for what?”

Sam works his jaw for a beat, but gives up — he knows his brother. He’ll lose soon enough.

“He wanted to know what you like. He wanted to impress you.”

“Oh,” Dean manages. A ton of his interactions with Castiel go through his head in a second, and he feels nauseous because it’s in his past and forever unattainable. He finds nothing, though; nothing that implies Castiel would’ve done something merely to impress him. “What did you tell him, then?”

“Nothing, to be honest. I told him the only way you’d ever be interested in him is by not trying too hard. You like your people straightforward. He seemed to understand that.”

“A bit too straightforward about the whole breakup thing, if you ask me,” Dean sighs. “And it’s a mess in my head, and I don’t want to think about anything but more mulled wine right now. Could we pick this up another time?”

“If you want to,” Sam says thoughtfully. “I get it better now, though. What happened, and why you don’t feel like doing research anymore. I don’t think we need to force those wounds open if you’re not up for it.”

“We’ll have to wait and see,” Dean says, rising up from the couch. “Now, let’s eat.”

 

Sam has to leave the day after Christmas, but not before sharing a bit of his news; Jess’ period is late, and they really hope it’s not a false alarm. Dean sees his brother off to the front door and waves until the hybrid has disappeared between the snowy trees, and maybe he’s a little bit happier. He makes it back to the TV with thoughts of a possible new family member occupying his mind.

 

Chapter Text

Piers Faccini:A Storm Is Going to Come

 

Dean wakes up to someone screaming.

He's pretty sure he's alone, and pretends the sound only belongs to his dream. Soon enough, there's talking, too - frantic voices apologizing, explaining, begging, and he's not able to keep his eyes closed. He's lying on the couch, fallen asleep after a late night Valentine's Day movie, and the television lights up the room. He digs around for his remote to shut off the intruder, but he no longer can pretend he doesn’t hear what they're talking about.

“…making this the sixth mass cetacean stranding in a span of only a year. This is the first incident with known casualties, and the first incident in which a cetacean ended up this far away from the Atlantic Ocean.”

Dean rubs his eyes and lets his brain process the imagery in front of him. Pictures of whales beached in places that don't look familiar to him fill the screen, and then, video footage of people pushing them back into the waves. Dean's too foggy to make any sense of it, but the more he watches, the worse he realizes it is.

Six cases of mass stranding in a year.

What the hell has he missed while he's been decorating? While feverishly looking for his tablet, he tries to recall what Sam said during one of their calls. I'm just glad we got out of there before—

Before what?

It doesn't take him long to scan through the international news section back to last July. It seems like… it seems like there have been storms. At first, they look similar to what Dean experienced on Ios - he tries not to think about Castiel protecting him with his wings for too long. There's  a couple of local, ten kilometer radius storms at seemingly random places on the sea, but the longer Dean looks at them the more they seem to form a pattern. A quite familiar one at that: the storms are deliberately avoiding their sailing route to Naxos and Ios, and all the way to Crete and Kefalonia.

Despite himself, Dean presses his fingertips on the screen. Who would want to do something like this? Is it a subtle taunt everyone who was on board? More importantly, is anyone besides Dean or Castiel supposed to understand it?

Dean briefly thinks about whether his research can tell him anything about this, and a realization hits him. Through all of the time since July that he's spent here, rearranging, cleaning up, decorating… he still hasn’t unpacked from Greece. The second he came home, he pushed all his luggage into the storage closet in the hall and never returned to it.

Now, it almost makes sense that he hasn't bothered with clothes, since even summer next to Glacier National Park isn't warm enough to need linen. He had put his leather jacket on in Amsterdam and he'd just bought new underwear, rendering the gear in the bag useless.

He approaches the closet cautiously while thinking about what he's supposed to do with seven month old laundry. He feels like it should just be a salt and burn case, but what if there's something he really misses afterwards? It shouldn’t hurt that much anymore, for fuck’s sake, it’s been ages and he’s a sentimental fool unable to go through anything that reminds him of Castiel —

He gasps as it clicks, and pretty much runs back to his tablet. He looks at the patterns again, and suddenly, the delicate trails have Castiel’s signature written all over them. Dean doesn’t want to think too much into it, but this is the first glimmer of hope he’s felt since what feels like forever. His heart is beating a hundred miles an hour as he places his hands on top of the swirls again.

Oh, Castiel. Are you just as sad as I am?

By the time the first rays of the morning sun hit the closed curtains, painting the whole room blue-green, Dean has gone through everything that’s been happening in the North Atlantic since July. It seems like Castiel burned out in September, and after that, the first cetacean stranding incident took place in Portugal. There are images of three beached whales, two of which could be saved. They didn’t cause too much commotion, but the next incident took place only two days later on the south coast of Iceland. It was larger, with a total of twelve poor cetaceans, and only two were saved.

Scandinavia seems to be getting colder, and some scientists are explaining it with the Gulf Stream. Three passenger ships have gone missing. Two new, seemingly permanent whirlpools have formed, one next to Ireland and one next to the Gulf of Mexico. Underwater volcanoes have been active for the first time in millenia. Deep sea storms have been recorded.

All of these things happened in the North Atlantic region, except for the fifth case of cetacean stranding that took place in New Zealand. Dean knows Castiel wouldn’t do anything like this; he loves the ocean and wants the best for all the living creatures in it, he’s gentle and smart and no matter what he’s going through, he wouldn’t make a mess of his home. It makes Dean slightly anxious; if this is someone else’s doing, why isn’t Castiel doing anything to stop it? Then again, he doesn’t know if there would be a shitload more problems if Castiel weren’t doing anything.

He hates that the first time he thinks about contacting his new acquaintances in Greece is because of Castiel. They deserve a friend who contacts them for them, but after a while he steels himself and calls Damaris.

“Well, won’t you look at that!” she says as a way of greeting. “I thought you’d never reply my messages.”

Did she send messages? Dean needs to go through his phone, because it’s likely he’s just checked them out quick and forgot about them during his worst phase of post-Cas depression.

“I’m sorry,” Dean manages.

“Nah, it’s okay. I’ve been busy beyond measure lately. So, I guess you’re calling about the whale ending up in a football field?”

“How’d you know?”

“I’ve got skills, Dean,” Damaris laughs. Her voice sounds warm and she seems genuinely happy to hear from him. “But, look, it’s maybe best we talk about that somewhere that isn’t a phone. Will you invite me for a visit?”

Dean frowns and looks around, suddenly worried his house is messy. “Uh, what?”

“We need to talk about the North Atlantic and, you know. Stuff.”

There’s just enough vagueness to make Dean consider whether Damaris has found out about Castiel. It's not the right time to ask about it now, though.

“Alright. You could take a flight to Kalispell airport, and I’ll drive to pick you up.”

“Sounds amazing. Can’t wait to see your home. I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve booked a flight. Hang in there until that, okay?”

“Of course,” Dean says, frowning at her sudden change in tone.

“We’ll talk to each other soon,” she says and finishes the call. Dean looks at the screen for a while, and decides to call Antheia.

*

It’s too bad that Damaris takes a couple of days to arrive even though she takes the first available flight. Dean has to get through two more nights alone, and during the second one, he’s in the hotel room for the first time since he left Greece.

“I’m disappointed,” the man next to him says, and gives Dean a sidelong glance. “It’s been a while since we met, but apparently, you’ve changed your mind.”

“What?”

“See,” the man frowns and turns to him, “it’s like this. Live your own life and walk free from these dreams. Consider yourself self-righteous enough to think your choices will make any difference in the life of gods, and return here time, and time, and time again until you perish.”

Dean sighs. “Are you a dream, or is this some sort of divine communication that gods are capable of?”

“The fact that this is divine communication doesn’t mean this is not a dream,” the man shrugs.

“Who are you?”

He frowns. “I thought you’d have that figured out by now.”

Dean nods and looks at the skyline again. “I might have. You literally said don’t shoot the messenger. That might be a clue.”

“Yeah. My name is Gabriel, and I’m one of the allies of Hermes, the messenger god.”

“But also the trickster. How can I know you’re telling the truth?”

“Don’t you think I would have been punished yet if I wasn’t telling the truth?”

“I’ve no idea. I don’t know how gods work.”

Dean’s briefly distracted by the sound of claws against the floor behind them, but something tells him he shouldn’t turn around. Instead, he keeps talking.

“Is our line of communication open now? Can I ask you things and you’re required to answer?”

“I’m not required to anything, but there’s a reason they sent me instead of someone who’s an all-around asshole. Ask away.”

“Which side are you on? Are you with me or against me?”

“That depends what you want to do, but I’ve got to warn you, if you plan on getting further involved, I’m against you.”

“What else could I do? I know something’s up. I need to know what’s going on. I’m not going to stop.”

“Then, you need to know something,” Gabriel says, and Dean feels the dream starting to fade as he turns to look at him again, “if you keep on doing this, you will die.”

Damaris is all smiles when Dean picks her up at the airport. It’s been forever since she’s last seen snow, and taking the narrow mountain roads nearly has her crying. They shop for both food and baking supplies, and Damaris keeps the conversation light until they reach home.

“Oh, my god,” she yelps, “you have a little cabin in the woods, I can’t believe it!”

Dean manages a laugh. “It’s really nothing special. I have long since learned to enjoy solitude over the bustle of any city.”

“Mykonos must’ve been quite an experience for you, then,” she muses as she takes in the yard covered in a thick layer of February snow. “There’s quite a lot of noise.”

“Of course it was, but I was prepared. It was an absolute pleasure.”

Dean holds the door for Damaris and tries to kick most snow off his shoes before stepping in after her. It’s already getting dark, so he flicks on the light next.

“Awesome!” Damaris says and lets her backpack fall on the ground. She reaches out to pull Dean in for a hug, and yanks the grocery bags away from him. “Let me unpack these. Meanwhile, you can get started on whatever you want to eat — you haven’t eaten, right? — and after that, I’ll tell you what I know.”

“I’m really anxious, though,” Dean admits, “I have no idea what I’m up against, here.”

Damaris gives him a slowly unfolding smile. “I think you know better than you claim.”

Dean shrugs, again wondering how much Damaris knows, and grabs a couple of onions from the table. “Meatloaf okay?”

“Perfect,” Damaris says and sets flour and sugar aside while putting the rest away. “I’m gonna bake you a cake. A welcome, Damaris! cake. That sound good?”

“Absolutely,” Dean hums. “So, what’ve you been up to?”

“You know, the same old. Taking care of family, finding out I’ve been friends with a god for a long time without realizing it.”

Dean blinks. There we go.

“Oh?” he tries. Damaris playfully jabs him with her elbow.

“Don’t try with me. I know you knew.”

“Alright, I won’t. So, how’d you find out?”

“Everything went to shit after you left. Storms were everywhere. Since I’ve always known how much Castiel cares about the ocean, I went to meet him in Kefalonia… And he was not doing well.”

“Is he alright now?”

“We’ll get to that,” Damaris deflects quickly, and Dean’s thoughts instantly steer towards worst-case scenarios. What if Castiel has died? That could explain why he’s not able to protect his ocean. “But this first. So, he was the epitome of a depressed guy, just lying in bed watching cat videos. When I wanted to discuss what his thoughts were about the storms, he said he’d made them because he hates everything. I asked him about it, and eventually coaxed him into telling me what went down.”

Dean bites his lip, because he doesn’t want to ask, but already knows he’s going to do so anyway.

“He made sure I know he didn’t hurt any animals, as if I’d ever doubted that,” she sighs. “He was really quite upset.”

“Well,” Dean says, fighting against the pain rising in his chest upon hearing this much about Castiel, “it was not my preferred ending, either.”

“I immediately thought he was lying. Not only to me, but to you as well.”

Dean clicks his tongue. “I don’t know. He told me he takes ‘great pride’ in his honesty.”

“What if it wasn’t up to him? If this was the lesser of two evils, and he did this to protect you?”

Dean shrugs, starting to shape the meat mixture into a loaf. “From what?”

“Okay,” Damaris says, “let’s talk about this later. Now, where’s your mixer?”

Dean’s meatloaf is far from his best, but Damaris enjoys it anyway. It feels odd to have someone in the house again, especially someone who just won’t keep quiet — but Dean figures it’s exactly what he needs right now. After his conversation with Gabriel last night he’s been anxious, and although he wants to talk about it with Damaris, they need to talk about other things first.

Eventually, they get cozy on the couch, with a Lifetime drama muted in the background and some warm bundt cake in front of them.

“Alright, let’s see,” Damaris says, suddenly sounding all business. “I’ve been spending a lot of my time consulting locals and listening to the stories of my family and friends. They all seem to be pointing in one direction — someone up on Mount Olympus is pissed. At what it’s hard to say, but the most serious conflicts tend to have something to do with humans — most likely, about how much gods meddle with humans in the modern age. The easiest thing for us would be to contact Castiel, but the thing is… I tried to call his house phone, and visit him a couple of times after my first visit in September, but he’s nowhere to be found.”

“All due respect, but isn’t that common with him?”

“Well, he’s a traveler, and he tends to disappear for a while every now and then. Usually when he’s gone, one of our group at least knows who’s currently taking care of the boats. Also, he’s got a very good friend that almost always spends time at the Kefalonia house when Castiel’s not available, but it was… Eerily empty, now.”

“Did you get inside?”

“Oh, no. Didn’t think that was my place to break and enter. Now, though, I think this is getting way too serious for us to be polite. It’s like I told you when we last met — something is going on, and as much as I’ve tried to narrow it down, I’m coming up with nothing. I don’t like it, not one bit, and I’ve been waiting for you to contact me so we could make plans.”

“I’m not sure if I want anything to do with this,” Dean mutters, suddenly feeling the weight of Gabriel’s words again. “Castiel drove me away. I want to respect his wish to not seek him out.”

“Okay,” Damaris’ voice sounds like she’s planned her speech beforehand, which might be true since Castiel told her what happened. “But what if it’s not about Castiel? What if you’re there to figure out what’s going on in the ocean? Because, Dean-- and  I’m not saying this to scare you -- but from my side of the situation it looks like the end of the world is getting closer.”

“Right,” Dean says slowly. “And if we end up in Castiel’s house through a broken window, uninvited, it’s just coincidence.”

Damaris nods and smiles. “But first, we eat this cake. No revolution is complete without cake.”

Chapter Text

Band of Horses: The Funeral

 

Dean .

Castiel steps into the foyer of his Cyprus home; an extravagant villa from the 1800s he's hired people to take care of for him. Those were his vanity years, years that he felt he needed to both look good and own good-looking things; and while he loves the house dearly, he's also felt conflicted about his personal match with it.

Dean's standing on top of the staircase in front of him dressed in, of all things, a toga. His emerald eyes are sparkling with joy, but instead of running to Castiel he crosses his arms defiantly, challenging Castiel to be the one to cross the distance between them. He is happy to oblige, hopping up the stairs with ease.

The sun is shining brightly from the large windows on their left, and for a moment Castiel just takes in the beauty of the man standing in front of him. This is his fall from grace incarnate; this is why he rebels against all of heaven. There's nothing in the land of gods that compares to the beauty of Dean Winchester, and that's without even accounting for his stunning exterior — the jawline that Castiel never stops wanting to trace with his lips, the freckles, the crinkle of his eyes when he laughs. Being a god allows Castiel to see Dean’s soul, and before they met he always took that perk for granted. Now it feels indulgent; like he’s allowed a front row seat to an endless fireworks display, and it’s selfish to keep all of that for himself. He sees everything Dean is — he sees his strong will to live, the uncertainty that ripples just beneath the surface, how his whole essence brightens when Castiel touches him. He sees the darkness of his past, including things he hasn’t felt comfortable sharing with Castiel yet. He sees the surprise at having positive things happen to him, after a lifetime of never expecting any. What’s best, though, is that Castiel’s here now, in the villa where Dean has been waiting for him. They’ve got all the time in the world to explore, to indulge, and to love. With a smile on his face, Castiel lifts his arms and —

And feels the restraints on them.

Instantly he’s back in the dark dungeon, his hands cuffed behind him and his heavy, bleeding wings shackled tight. He tries to inhale, the damp air suddenly too heavy in his lungs, but only manages a stuttering gasp.

He feels his life slowly seeping away through the iron against his feathers. He has no idea how long it’s been; how long he’s been inhaling mildew and lichen, how long since he last held onto any kind of hope. And while the reason he’s locked in here feels unjust, Castiel also realizes this is divine punishment for lying to Dean.

As if it would make a difference, Castiel looks up towards the ceiling and apologizes to Dean for the thousandth time.

Mostly, Castiel sits in the dungeon. He’s got leeway for a whole meter around him, which rules out any gardening for now — and although everything from the walls to the floor is damp, it’s not damp enough for Castiel to significantly benefit from it. The handcuffs he’s been trapped in for ages prevent any god shenanigans anyway, and while Castiel’s impressed by the amount of detail put into his captivation, mostly he’s just pissed.

Of course he’s already aware of who’s behind this: Naomi, Artemis’ right hand and a lesser god herself, has been down in the dungeon a few times during the last weeks or months. When she doesn’t want to enchant Castiel with her presence she uses someone else to taunt him, and it makes Castiel sad to see many of his old friends having joined the other side.

It’s wrong to call it the other side, though. They think they’re doing what’s right for gods to remain holy and magnificent, and even though Castiel has some lesser gods that agree with his point of view, it’s still a lonely fight. Castiel loves his fellow gods very dearly, but he needs them to understand that they should live side-by-side with the humans, without a sense of classism between them. He’d always felt like it’s the right thing to do, and since the compass of his heart is all he has to navigate the currents between right and wrong, he has to follow it.

Still, the war is going to come. It’s been brewing for decades now, and as long as the sides are unable to understand each other, it can’t be avoided. By now, the heavenly troops are already sharpening their knives, perfecting battle plans, and waiting to make the first attack on a human city to see which gods are against them. So, in a sense, Castiel is safe here.

It doesn’t make sitting in the dungeon any more pleasurable. It doesn’t make Castiel miss Dean any less, either.

It’s ridiculous how, as soon as Castiel saw Dean walk away, he wanted to rebel against everything that’s ever existed, and challenge the whole world alone, as long as he could keep the man in his life. It’s not realistic, he knows that now better than ever, but he still dreams of doing that instead of what he did; that he apologized to Dean with a thousand kisses on those beautiful lips that are, by all standards, holier than anything in the realm of the gods.

When Castiel’s not sitting down here alone, it’s because someone from upstairs comes to question him. Mostly, Naomi wants to know about his connections to humans, and whether someone has figured out he’s a god, but she’s also very interested in Dean. For reasons unfamiliar to Castiel, the knowledge of Michael saving Dean in the North Pacific is public information, and now that Castiel’s taken an interest in him, Naomi considers him a threat. There’s an absurd moment when she’s pretty sure Dean is a spy for the Titans, but luckily that passes fast. Castiel’s not as fortunate with the rest of her accusations: that befriending humans is dangerous to all gods, that Castiel thinking he can have special rights without giving anything back to the community is an abomination.

All this would make sense if Castiel believed in any of this. Instead, he constantly feels guilt over the way gods have been treating humans ever since Pandora opened her wedding gift jar; it’s as if humans are toys to be played with, tortured for fun, and hunted for sport. Where most gods see prey, Castiel sees magnificent stories of humans who use the little time they have to aim for great deeds. He sees patience, determination, and a love that’s purer than anything else in the universe.

And to be loved by a human…

Castiel shakes his head. He needs to let go now. It’s too selfish of him to do anything else, and he doesn’t want to be selfish.

Castiel is yanked away from his dreams with a clank of the dungeon gate. This time it’s Naomi herself who bothers him.

“Hello, Castiel,” she says with a smile in her voice, but not on her lips, “how have you been?”

Castiel manages a shrug. Naomi frowns and nods.

“I see. Now. Rumor has it you’ve been thinking about escaping.”

“Then rumor is wrong,” Castiel grunts, “it’s not like I can plan anything. How long has it been, Naomi?”

“I captured you from Athens exactly seven months ago. Time sure passes quickly when we’re having fun, doesn’t it?”

“Are we having fun?”

“Well, I, for one, am pleased you’re willing to spend time with your aunt for the first time in what seems like forever.”

“Willing might be stretching it, but do go on.”

“And I’m also glad we’ve got to, hmm… Take care of some business while you haven’t been protecting your part of the sea.”

Castiel perks up despite himself. “What do you mean?”

Naomi looks around the dungeon, obviously considering how much to tell. “There’ve been disturbances.”

Castiel hoists himself up his feet and squints at Naomi. “What have you done?”

She shakes her head. “Nothing you need to worry about. So, how do you feel today? Ready to give us information about who you’ve been hanging out with?”

“Why do you care so much? Like you said yourself, humans are a subspecies. There’s nothing about them that could possibly threaten you, or the people you work closely with.”

“Who knows that you’re a god?”

“I know I have to protect us,” Castiel says, “I don’t talk to humans about gods, and you know that.”

“Do I?” she says, smirking. “Look, everyone knows you declared Dean Winchester. It’s no secret around the realm. So he knows, which makes him doubly our target of interest.”

“Target of whatever nuclear weapon you’re planning against him,” Castiel corrects her. “And if you think I’ll let you do that, you’ve got another thing coming.”

“Yet you’re here,” Naomi hums. “Don’t you want to know the reason why I’m here today?”

“Not really, no.”

“I received orders from up high that while we use all of our available troops to find Dean Winchester—”

“It’ll take you a while. I protected him before sending him away.”

“—it’s time for you to provide back to the society.”

Castiel frowns, blinks, shakes his head. “I don’t know what you think you can achieve.”

“You’ve been in contact with humans more than most of us, so you undoubtedly know how to deal with them. We’re going to let you tell us your information.”

“I’m not telling you anything.”

“Well, you’re going to have to. It’s the only way you’ll ever get out of here.”

“Dean is safe. The people I consider my friends are safe. I don’t need to get out of here.”

Naomi rolls her eyes. “We’ll see each other soon.”

She leaves, and not for the first time, Castiel wishes he could read minds.

Naomi’s intentions are clarified soon enough. Castiel manages to fall into a slumber, though gods generally don’t need to, and is awakened when the gate rattles and creaks open.

This time, it’s Zachariah — Ares’ man, this one — and Castiel instantly feels a sense of dread settle in his stomach. Zachariah has never been a forgiving man, but until now Castiel’s worked alongside him.

It weighs nothing in war, it seems.

“Hello, Castiel,” Zachariah says slowly, “always a pleasure.”

“Can’t say the same. What did she send you to do?”

Zachariah lifts his eyebrows and walks up to Castiel. He reaches for something in his pocket, and Castiel follows the movement.

“Apparently, isolating you from your pals isn’t enough to make you understand what’s best for you,” Zachariah says, and before Castiel can react, a punch is delivered in his ribs. He feels the impact on them well enough to realize that the handcuffs do not only prevent him from doing god shenanigans, but also put an ebb on his grace — the pain is more than he’s felt in ages. “So I was sent here to convince you.”

“Oh, how nice,” Castiel says, “they brought you in for muscle since you can’t deliver on the strategy front.”

Another punch, and a third one. Hurts like hell, but at least it might make Zachariah tire fast.

“What is up with you? You aren’t who I thought you were.”

“Works both ways,” Castiel huffs, and spits on the ground. It does worry him that some blood escapes his mouth even though he’s not been hit in the face… yet. “So, why are you here? Punch me until I cooperate and tell you where my friends are?”

“We’ll find them sooner or later, that’s not the problem. We want information about how to deal with the modern man.”

Castiel snorts. Zachariah lands a hit on his jaw, and it sounds like something is breaking. For a second, the pain is white and sharp, but with a well-practiced, controlled breathing pattern, Castiel returns his focus to the now.

“I don’t fucking know where to start. Gods lost touch with humanity a long time ago, and forcing your way through to them with violence isn’t the right way to do it.”

Zachariah bursts out laughing. “Oh, it’s not violence we’re going to use to extract the information from you. That’s just my own personal touch, because you’re one of the biggest assholes I know.”

“I don’t know how the size of my asshole is relevant,” Castiel manages, “but do tell me what you’ve got in mind.”

“Why tell you when I can just show you?” Zachariah grins, a feral, spiteful thing, and digs out a small metal device from his coat pocket. Castiel can’t recall what it is; he’s seen it before, and it pulls a primal fear out of the depths of his body, but it doesn’t fully click before the brass ring is placed against his temple.

An extractor. A fucking extractor. A device used to carve into the grace of a god and pull it away until the god either gives into the torture or dies. The most excruciatingly painful thing known to any deity, and usually reserved for those who murder gods.

The pain is instantaneous and all over. For a red second, he feels nothing but the air punched out of him and a fire entering all of his veins at once. All of his memories are poured out of him in a second, and feebly, he remembers that’s the side effect of using an extractor — all of his memories will surface at once, and they’ll be so overwhelming he might give out crucial information just because he can’t think straight. He’s blessed to see memories of Dean this vivid, though; for a moment, he’s shiny, brilliant, and beautiful in front of him.

It’s this image that gets him through the first round of extracting without breaking.

Time and space lose meaning. There’s the dripping sound of water somewhere to Castiel’s right, and there’s darkness, and that’s all there is. Every now and then, Castiel comes to enough to notice Zachariah looming in front of him, and what follows is the pain — intense, all-devouring agony that feels like he’s thrown onto concrete and the air is punched out of him, except that it never, ever ends. After Zachariah leaves, Castiel feels a little less like himself.

He can’t say how long it lasts. In his more lucid moments he feels bored with all of it; it’s not the first time he’s been imprisoned, and it’s not the first time he’s been tortured. It’s not going to make him break and it’s not likely for Zachariah to continue until he’s dead. They need him to give his information, and they can’t get it unless he’s alive.

They really should start smaller. When they eventually get bored with extracting Castiel’s grace, they don’t have a whole lot to continue with.

Unfortunately, his lucid moments are rare and long in between. Mostly, it’s just the sound of dripping water.

“Castiel,” Naomi’s voice is hard and cold, “get up.”

Castiel opens his eyes, feeling the vertigo even though he’s lying down. Some persistent rocks have dug their way deep into the muscles on his back and it takes him a while to sit up. Fuck , it hurts.

“How is Zachariah treating you? Nothing too harsh, I hope. Ares’ people are always so vulgar.”

Castiel manages a scoff, but says nothing. Maybe it’s time for him to stop being nice.

“Alright, it’s time to move on to the next part of the plan,” she says nonchalantly, “that is, of course, unless you’re willing to talk now.”

The look on her face is hardly of genuine interest, but she’s waiting for Castiel to deny her so she can proceed. Castiel doesn’t give her the pleasure of a reply.

“That’s what I thought, unfortunately,” she sighs, as if this didn’t bring her immense pleasure. “Let’s see here.”

She walks up to Castiel and presses her palm on his temple. For a moment it’s silent, and shivers run through Castiel’s body.

“You’ve got very little left.” She doesn’t even try to hide the satisfaction in her voice. “Looks like we’re ready for phase two.”

“What’s phase two?” Castiel manages.

“Well, we’ve purified. Now, it’s time to reprogram.”

Instead of starting to taunt him or touch him physically, Naomi takes a seat on a low stone pillar across from Castiel. It’s uncommon to see her like this; sitting in the dungeon in her sharp pantsuit as if it’s not a big deal.

“Got to tell you right now, I don’t feel that purified,” Castiel says.

“Why did you decide to betray us?”

Castiel huffs. “I didn’t.”

“But you did. You’ve chosen humans over and over again, and I thought we were doing well before last summer.”

“We were never doing well.” It’s hard for Castiel to speak, but it’s alright — there’s not much he wants to say.

“I’m not sure you realize how much we’ve done for you. Many of your friends have taken falls for you when you’ve been too busy get involved with humans. I don’t like to bring it up,” she has the nerve to look mournful, “because it’s a painful topic for me, too. But since you’re unable to understand what’s happened while you were away, let me just show you.”

For a while, fog swirls in Castiel’s peripheral vision. Before he can see it fully, images start to form before his eyes. Naomi moves the picture cleverly; lingering on the faces of deities that have died tragically while blurring the reasons behind their deaths. It’s painful to watch: many of the gods, nymphs, and small creatures are Castiel’s old friends, but it does little to convince him his affiliations with humans are to blame.

“Let that grief you feel from these losses make you realize what you’ve done, and what you inevitably will do if you keep on preferring humans over us.”

“I don’t want to choose anyone over anyone,” Castiel says, “but if I have to, it’ll always be humans.”

Naomi huffs, a brief, frustrated sound. “Why? All they do is lie, and cheat, and try to trick you however they please.”

“I don’t care,” Castiel says.

“So you’re abandoning your family for something as feeble as a human life.”

“Humans are anything but feeble. You’d know that if you bothered with them instead of staying in your tower of superiority.”

“Then, by all means, tell me. What is it about humans that you love so much?”

“What isn’t there to love? They’re curious, impatient, and compared to gods, really bad liars.”

“Is Dean Winchester one of these people, too?”

Castiel shrugs, falling silent. Naomi rises from the pillar and makes her way to the gate.

“I think he’s patient,” she says before leaving, “at least he’s patiently held vigil for you at the beach for a while now.”

“What?”

Damn it. Castiel’s voice is too loud, and too eager, and it implies how much he wants to hear more. Naomi instantly catches it, and just smirks before leaving.

Sometimes Castiel’s not sure what’s worse; to be tortured by Zachariah, interrogated by Naomi, or left alone for days. Every time grace is extracted, he feels the cold more — it makes him shiver and shake, it hinders the blood flow to his peripheral tissue, and every time Zachariah comes in to deliver punches, it feels like his toes and fingers are going to fall off.

More time passes, and while Castiel worries his grace is all gone the next time or the time after that, he worries more about forgetting. It’s all getting pretty foggy in his mind; images of his dead family members blend in with the blatant fact that he has grace to begin with, the dungeon blends in with his mansion at Cyprus, and his feelings for humanity blend in with his feelings for deities. It’s hard to keep track of everything, and while he knows Naomi and Zachariah haven’t succeeded in whatever they wanted to, he’s afraid they will.

He knows it’s the last time when they arrive together.

Zachariah is holding the extractor in his hand, and Naomi has a weapon sometimes referred to as a deity blade. They’re both talking, but Castiel doesn’t understand the words coming from their mouths; it’s because it’s in a language he doesn’t speak. He should be able to decipher it with his grace, but the fact that he can’t speaks for itself.

“I think he’s pretty much gone,” Naomi says. “Let’s see what happens if we take the cuffs off.”

“You think so?”

“There’s two of us, one of him. We’ll take care of him if necessary.”

“Right,” Zachariah says. “Just in case, though, I’ll put this on him first.”

Castiel recognizes the pain of the extractor, but it feels distant now. When Zachariah releases his hands from behind him, a surge of panic fills him; he’s not sure if he feels them anymore.

“Ah, but that’s brilliant,” Naomi snickers, “I think it’s time for the last touch. Castiel, can you hear me?”

Castiel notices himself nodding. He wonders why he obliges.

“Great,” she sighs, and takes a seat on the pillar again. “I can’t explain how much it saddens me that we’ve come to this. I would’ve always preferred you in my troops.”

Artemis’ troops , Castiel thinks idly, but doesn’t say anything. His mouth feels too dry and heavy.

“You’re a good soldier, Castiel,” Zachariah says.

“Too bad you chose the wrong side,” Naomi continues. They’ve both got a look on their faces that confirms what Castiel already knew; he’s not going to make it out of here alive.

He rolls his wrists on his sides. Naomi’s eyes catch the movement, but she doesn’t seem too worried about it.

“Have you ever met a god who doesn’t break eventually?” she asks. The question is obviously meant for Zachariah, who shrugs.

“Very rarely. There’s only been two before this bastard.”

“Castiel, would you like to join us?” Naomi sounds hesitant to go through with her plan. “All it would take is a minor sign of your loyalty.”

Castiel nods again, and frowns. No. He doesn’t mean to be doing that. Something sparkles in Naomi’s eyes, and she stands up.

“You would have to kill one of the people that meant the most to you before,” she says, squinting in disbelief when Castiel nods again.

No. No. No. No!

Castiel scans through his body quickly; from his frozen feet to his trembling legs, from his achy wrists to his bleeding wings, and feels a sensation at the base of his spine. It’s something like scratching from the inside, trying to make its way back to the surface, and Castiel focuses on that instead of listening to what Naomi is telling him. He imagines it as a faint ball of light, stuck between his vertebrae, and instead of just yanking it away, he begins at his feet. They’re cold and numb against the rocky surface of the floor, and for a while, he thinks getting any sense into them will be a lost cause — but he patiently adjusts his feet until he feels grounded. He imagines a warm pillar of healing blue light rise from the ground and enter his veins, and when it travels up to his spine, the ball of light moves easily. He lets it reach the back of his neck before examining it further.

He frowns. The light in between his conceptual fingers right now is his primal force, desire for life; his need to protect his home, the Earth, and his urge to rid of everything that stands in his way.

At some point, Naomi has come closer. She’s inches away from Castiel now, because she thinks she’s fucking won, and all it takes him is a split second to remove the extractor from his temple, crush it between his fingers, and shove it in Naomi’s eye. Light flashes through her eyes, blinding both Castiel and Zachariah for a second, but Castiel moves on  instinct. He yanks the deity blade from her hand before she falls lifeless on the ground, and steps towards Zachariah, who’s backing away slowly, his hands up in the air as an undeniably fake sign of defeat.

“Castiel, calm down. We can talk about this.”

Castiel steps forward, but then the chains anchored to his wings tighten, making it impossible for him to continue further. Zachariah’s eyes flicker behind Castiel, and his frightened expression turns into a smirk when he realizes what’s going on.

“Oh, my,” he sneers, “aren’t we in a pickle.”

Castiel breathes in deep enough for his chest to almost reach his breaking point, and with his exhale, he imagines the blue light escaping through the top of his head — and steps forward. He hears the delicate bones of his wings crack and break, the all-consuming angry-red pain blurs his vision, but he keeps on walking forward, mutilating his wings beyond repair, and he walks until he reaches a stunned Zachariah. He moves in slow motion as Castiel pushes the blade in through his diaphragm, and Castiel softens his fall with his arms and whispers an apology to both of them before stepping out of the dungeon.

Chapter Text

Lily Allen: Somewhere Only We Know

 

By the time Castiel makes his way up to the surface, the first signs of fire are already in the air. He’s standing on top of cliffs emerging from the ocean, and there’s nothing but waves all around him.

He wishes he knew more about the gods’ plan; if he had information from the inside he could plan accordingly. It’ll take him a while to contact any of the gods on his side with this little grace and his wings broken — but happily, those both are things that can be fixed. His grace, for starters, will slowly make its way back to him now that the extractor is broken, and as for the wings…

He looks behind him and cringes. Fuck this. Right now, he’s flightless like an ostrich, and if he doesn’t seek help soon he’s going to die of blood loss. He does wonder whether his grace will return enough for him to heal himself before that happens, but it’s foolish to take chances.

Where to seek help without being seen, though? Even if he could hide his wings right now — and he can’t, because the thought alone makes him scream in agony — he’d bleed all over and cause a commotion. So instead, he hops down into the soothing water and lets the currents carry him away. Most of his grace may be gone, but at least the ocean listens to him and understands his pain; it shelters him, and wraps around his wing in a soothing, cold cocoon that protects them from further injuries and infection, time-locking them into this state of hurt.

Eventually, he makes his way to the rocky shores of southern Mykonos. It doesn’t confuse him why the ocean decided this was the place he wanted to be; as soon as he’s on the Scorpios cliffs, he spots a familiar figure. Slowly and with a groan, he bends his wings out of sight.

Charlie yelps and runs to Castiel, ready to throw herself infor a hug — but the pained look on his face makes her waver. Her eyes scan him from head to toe, and when she sees the dripping blood behind his feet, he huffs.

“Castiel, are you hurt?”

“More than ever,” Castiel grunts. “Why are you here?”

“Time for that later. We need to get you to safety.”

“I’ve got a place uphill. We could…” he looks back to the waves, where his blood is slowly blending in with the sea. “No. We can’t stay here. We don’t have time. We need to be safe.”

“Don’t you have, like, wards against that? If someone wants to find you?”

Castiel nods, then shakes his head. “Unfortunately, it’s really strict. I can ward everything, but it means none of my friends can find me, either. Like you can see, the war is starting, and I could really use the company of my few trusted ones.”

“The— The what is starting?”

Castiel frowns. “The war! Can’t you hear the clarions?”

Charlie’s eyes widen, and she shakes her head slowly. “Castiel, I don’t hear anything.”

“Must be a god thing,” he huffs, “alright. Let’s get away from here.”

“Where are we headed?”

“We could try to get to Cyprus. I have a house there we could use as a base.”

“It’s a long way there,” Charlie frowns, “are you going to make it?”

“Do you trust me?”

Charlie looks around for a while longer, presumably trying to hear trombones of the apocalypse, and nods. “My life in your hands.”

“That’s exactly what I’m asking of you. I’m going to try and move us to Cyprus. Most of my divinity is gone now, and we might end up in Tartarus, but —”

“Whoa, what?!” Charlie almost gave her hand to Castiel’s outreached one but now yanks it back. “To hell ?”

Castiel rolls his eyes. “Don’t be dramatic. Worse things have happened, and even worse will happen if we dawdle.”

“Alright,” she says, nodding with a determined frown, “let’s do this.”

Castiel smiles at her. He kind of wants to give her a hug, but there’s time for that later; now he needs to collect whatever grace he has left to transport them to Cyprus. It takes an immense amount of effort, but he manages — somewhat, because as soon as their feet hit the ground, he passes out.

Castiel comes to slowly. The way sound echoes in the empty hall beyond the door of the room he’s in suggests they’re not alone; there’s at least one other god with them. He tries to get up, but it feels like there are stones laid on top of him. Shit, his wings must be in a bad shape by now; already healing wrong, infected enough to raise a fever, and painfully twisted. He also wants to know who else is here. Is Charlie safe?

As if on cue, there’s a knock on the door. Castiel expects it to be Charlie, but instead, Damaris peeks in with a worried frown.

“Heard you groaning. Are you awake?”

“Did I groan? I can’t—” Castiel shakes his head. He manages to support himself on his elbows in a half-sitting position, but everything hurts like hell.

“Don’t move. Uh, what do you need?”

Dean , he thinks briefly, but instead, he shakes his head. “Where’s Charlie? Why are you here?”

Damaris rolls her eyes, but steps in through the door. She takes a seat at the foot of Castiel’s bed, , collecting her thoughts before she speaks.

Castiel has always loved Damaris. She’s smart, spiritual, and thoughtful, while also managing to be one of the funniest people he has ever met. So seeing her like this, eyes downcast with a solemn frown on her brow, breaks his heart. She wipes her palms on her sundress, obviously trying to form a sentence from the storm of her thoughts.

“We’ve been trying to find out what’s going on here, exactly,” she eventually starts, “and you’re going to be disappointed at some factors of our research.”

Castiel frowns. “Are you hurt? Are any of you hurt? Who are you doing this with?”

“That’s the disappointment part,” she grimaces. “I— I might’ve recruited people beyond what you’d have wanted.”

“I know there’s another god here,” Castiel mutters. “Just tell me who it is.”

Damaris blinks. “Uhh… I don’t know what you’re talking about. Anyway, our most important quest was to find out what’s happening to the ocean, since as you might already feel, the Atlantic isn’t doing all that well.”

“What’s been going on? Naomi mentioned something about that, and thousands of dead creatures are wailing in my head, but I haven’t been able to decipher just what’s going on — I’m in such intense pain that I can’t think straight.”

“Can I help you?”

Castiel looks down, ashamed, and shakes his head. “I don’t think so. I made a rash decision to let someone too close to me, and I will forever have to live with that.”

“It’s Dean, isn’t it? You let him get too close to you, and you think it poses a danger to both of you.”

“It’s not just a thought. Declaring Dean was thoughtless and placed him in danger — it makes him a target of all the gods who’d prefer us not to meddle with humans.”

Damaris shrugs. “Luckily, for you, declaring someone doesn’t mean jack.”

Castiel’s frown deepens. “What do you mean?”

“You fucking threw him back across the sea with some blatant lies,” Damaris sighs. “In case you missed the memo, you shouldn’t do that to people you love.”

“I did it to protect him. The further he is from Olympus, the safer he is.”

“And you didn’t think to ask him what he wants?”

“If I’d told him the truth, he would’ve stayed, and when I was imprisoned in September, he would’ve been killed. He’s alive because I sent him away,” Castiel mutters. When Damaris’ gaze turns murderous, dread sets in his chest for a while. “Tell me he’s alive. Do you know anything?”

“Of course he’s alive,” Damaris scoffs, “it doesn’t make your actions right, though. Don’t patronize people by deciding what’s best for them and then forcing it on them with lies. No amount of divinity will give you a get out of jail free card if you do that.”

“I,” Castiel sighs. “You’re right, Damaris. I should know better, but... my feelings for Dean caught me off guard, and my judgement was clouded. I still think it’s best for him to be out of here, anyway.”

That earns him another eyeroll from Damaris, but she doesn’t argue further. “Anyway, you led me astray. I think you’ll see it best when you do your god thing, but there have been multiple accidents in the North Atlantic. Casualties include humans, cetaceans, and a ton of smaller sea critters.”

“Shit. I… Fuck it. I can’t be here,” Castiel groans and pushes himself up with force. He cringes through the pain and only manages to sit up before wheezing and coughing up blood.

“Fuck,” Damaris sighs, “you’re not going anywhere. Everything has to wait until you’re a bit better. Do you think you could see a doctor?”

“I just need my wings taken care of, so they’ll heal properly. I can do it myself if I have the right supplies; some thread and a needle, water and cloths, and gauzes and splints and—” he drags in a heavy breath. “Fuck this.”

Damaris opens her mouth, but is interrupted by the sound of the front door. Her eyes widen and she cringes. “Look, about having people you wouldn’t have wanted…”

“Damaris!” a voice echoes in the hall. It wraps around Castiel’s heart in a warm, soothing motion; instantly, he’s come home.

Damaris gives Castiel a sheepish grin. “He called me.”

Castiel squints. “I…”

“In the guest room!” she yells, keeping her eyes on Castiel. “He’s been out since yesterday. He doesn’t know you’re here.”

“Shit,” Castiel says, “is he going to be mad?”

“Of course not, you ass. He’s been worried sick.”

“He shouldn't see me like this. I can't exactly be of any use right now.”

Damaris frowns. “And what makes you think he only values you for what he can utilize?”

Castiel is about to answer, but that's the moment Dean decides to bust in through the door. Castiel’s breath catches at the sight of his beloved like this; stressed, tired, messy, full of anxious and angry energy. His soul is shining in warm golds and reds, and there's a hint of pitch black on the edges of it — Castiel’s never seen his actions manifest in someone this clearly. Immediately, he wants to throw himself at Dean and apologize with a million kisses, but instead, he averts his gaze.

“Oh,” Dean says, his tone schooled to perfectly neutral, “you found him.”

“Charlie did. She was guarding southern Mykonos, guy washed up in Scorpio.”

“Great. I think this is my cue to leave, then. Nice seeing you, Cas.”

“Don't,” Castiel hears himself saying. Dean hesitates, his backwards-stepping leg frozen mid-air. “Please, I…”

Dean crosses his arms as a sign of self-preservation. He looks small, broken, and he's obviously holding onto whatever strength he has left.

“I mean… if you want to go, I won't force you to stay. But I… I want to—”

His body chooses this point in time to try out a cough, and it hurts his side painfully enough for him to wince and swear. Damaris yelps and says something Castiel can't hear, making Dean leave. Castiel wants to yell at her, or him, but he keeps on coughing until he throws up what's mostly blood.

Castiel comes to when the evening sun is shining from the window, coloring the room in warm orange stripes. He instantly notices Dean sitting on a chair pulled next to his bed, a solemn look on his tired face, staring into nothingness. Castiel hums, not trusting himself to talk, and Dean turns his eyes to him.

“Hey,” he says gruffly. He reaches out to briefly press his palm on Castiel’s shoulder, and Castiel’s heart aches at the formality of the touch. “How are you?”

“Mm,” Castiel manages, and clears his throat. “Didn't leave.”

“No, I didn't. I’d rather not leave when you're this bad. Okay, I am merely speculating here, but your face the coughing up blood makes me think that you've been hurt by someone. Is this true?”

Castiel nods.

“How bad is the rest of you?”

He watches Castiel shrug painfully and glances behind him, obviously trying to see the wings.

“Cas,” he says, “could you show me?”

“Not here,” Castiel mutters. “Molting. Bleeding.”

“In the bathroom? I saw you have kickass floor heating. We could build you a nest.”

“Dean,” Castiel tries.

“Ah, time to say I don’t have to do this.”

“Don’t —”

“Do this because I feel obligated? Cas, dammit, let me take care of you. And before you can say it, I agree: no , you don’t deserve it. Now, are we done?”

Castiel nods. Gods , he’s in love with this man.

“Can you get up?”

He tries — really, really tries, and only manages to lift his head from the pillow. Every muscle in his body is trembling, he’s completely out of strength, and he flops down with what he hopes is a mortified expression.

“Okay. I’m going to hook my arms under yours and help you up. Then, we’ll see if your feet work enough. If they refuse to cooperate, I’ll carry you.”

Castiel nods again and steels himself; it’s unfair to feel blessed when Dean touches him, it’s a platonic, helpful touch executed out of necessity. Luckily, as soon as his feet touch the ground, he feels a bit more certain about himself and although he takes a lot of support from Dean’s arms around him, they get to the bathroom with little trouble. Dean helps Castiel to the floor, and the warmth of it feels safer than ever before. He makes a quick trip back to the guest room to pick up pillows and blankets, and sure enough, Castiel is soon sitting in a makeshift, soft nest.

“Comfortable?” he asks, his eyes on the floor instead of in Castiel’s eyes.

“Thank you,” Castiel says, almost smiling at the coziness of the situation.

“I've got to admit, though. This is just a replica of a cardboard nest on a hot water bottle I made for all the crippled birds I saved as a kid.”

“Am I a bird?”

“For now, yes. You can become a god again when you can fly. Now, enough banter. Give me those wings.”

“Dean,” Castiel sighs. “Why do you want to do this?”

“Because you’re hurt. Now, are you going to let me do what I want or keep on making decisions for me?”

Castiel swallows around the sudden lump in his throat. Fair. That’s completely fair, and if he was feeling better, Dean would no doubt let him hear all of the wrath coiling around the edges of his soul.

“A bit of a warning here. They’re probably worse than you can imagine.”

“Thanks, but I’m a big boy. I can take it.”

Without further disclaimers, Castiel brings forth his wings. It hurts more than it did before, and for a while, they’re surrounded with flying, bloody, darkened feathers, unable to see anything past them. The smell of rot, ash, and iron spreads in the air, and Castiel hides his face in his palms. He’s ashamed to let his beloved see him like this, and when Dean is silent for a long while, he can almost see the horrified expression on his face.

“Alright,” Dean says eventually, “let’s get to work.”

He takes a seat next to Castiel’s left wing and unceremoniously flops the tip on his lap. Castiel’s heart melts at the scene; how little Dean minds that his clothes get bloody, and how much intensity he applies to this task.

“Not gonna lie,” he mutters, “you look like shit. How did this happen?”

Castiel says nothing. Dean tugs some dying feathers off and it hurts, but he absolutely refuses to let it show.

“Or don’t tell me, that’s an option,” Dean huffs out a laugh, “but we’ll be stuck here for a while, so it’d be nice to, y’know, talk.”

“Why are you here?”

Dean glares at him before shrugging. “Saw the cetaceans on TV. Called Damaris. Just… Wanted to see what I could do. I didn’t know why you haven’t been protecting your ocean and I gotta admit I was worried, but I didn’t come back to whine about your decision, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“It should’ve been a mutual decision,” Castiel manages, “and when I’m hurting less, I’ll apologize to you so that you understand exactly how sorry I am.”

A blush rises on Dean’s cheeks, and even though Castiel didn’t mean anything suggestive with it he’s pleased to elicit this reaction.

“Not like it matters,” Dean shrugs, “I think you were right.”

Way to turn the tide. The warmth trying to make its way into Castiel turns freezing in a second. “You do?”

“Yeah, I mean, it’s not like I can hold a candle against something like this,” he gestures to Castiel’s sad excuse of a wing, “I’m only human.”

Castiel’s wing flutters in his touch. “Don’t. You’re incredible.”

“As we’ve established. Now, are you gonna tell me how you did this or no?”

“I was held captive by some... friends,” he starts then. “I was chained at the wings and when I escaped, I had to pull myself free.”

Dean’s grip on some of his healthy feathers tighten, and he scoffs. “They don’t sound like friends to me.”

“I don’t want to think of them as my enemies, either.”

“I get that. Some gods then, huh? What happened to them? How’d you get free?”

“I happened to them. I feel sorry for what I’ve done, but we’re at war now. I need to be alive to fight on the right side.”

“They weren’t on the right side, then?”

Dean’s fingers move to one of the gaping wounds left by the shackles, and Castiel immediately retracts his wing.

“Okay, that’s painful. God. What are we gonna do?”

“I— You need to stitch them. My grace should be back in a couple of days, and it should start hurting less and heal faster.”

“You completely without grace now?”

“No, I’ve got a little. The rest will find its way soon enough.”

Dean nods and reaches towards the first aid kit. “Should have some stuff here,” he mutters, and Castiel watches his hands start to tremble.

“Are you sure you’re up for this?”

“Hell, nah. Don’t want to hurt you.”

“It’s better in the long run. If you do this, I’ll forever be in your debt.”

“Don’t be dramatic. I’ll do this because for some reason, I’m the human you trust with your wings.”

And that’s the only reason why I’m doing this hangs in the air, and Castiel accepts it. It’s more than he hoped for, anyway.

Castiel spends the night awake, thinking about plans for the immediate future. After Dean finished with the wings they were both too exhausted and immediately wanted to sleep, but now Castiel’s mind is filled with questions.

What can he do to save as many humans as possible? He doesn’t have a way to contact any of his siblings without being overheard; it’s a miracle nobody has been listening in on them yet. The place has a decent amount of warding, but not nearly enough to keep a dedicated god away. He tries to think of some gods he can trust, but there aren’t many — Anna, Michael, and Balthazar for sure, but he’s hasn’t been in touch with the rest of the seven siblings in such a long time it’s hard to know where they stand now.

He also wonders about the god in this house right now. The feeling didn’t subside even after Dean told him Damaris and Charlie were the only people in the house. It should feel uncomfortable, but instead, it feels like this particular god is on their side. Could it be a nymph or a nereid?

It doesn’t really matter. If he’s going to stand up against the wrath of some of the most powerful gods of Mount Olympus, he needs to have people and gods on his side. He has no doubt Damaris and all of his Greek friends would be with him, but that’s hardly enough. Besides, people drop like flies when gods get angry, and Castiel couldn’t possibly carry the weight of his loved ones deaths on his shoulders.

He can’t even think about how wrong it would be for all of his bright, beautiful friends to die for his cause.

In the morning, despite having too little rest, Castiel feels better. He can stand up by himself, and the hum in his veins implies that some of his grace has indeed found its way back to him. He flaps his wings back and forth, and while the broken bones Dean tried to splint still hurt, it’s almost bearable. He tucks them out of view for now, because something about seeing them broken and weak makes him uncomfortable. It’s not even the first time he’s been held captive and tortured, so he doesn’t fully understand what’s changed.

As soon as he exits the guest room into a kitchen full of laughing people, he realizes why.

He’s never been so close  with so many people; he’s never loved anyone in particular this deeply. Hell, he’s never been in love with a human before, and the thought of him not being able to protect all of them in a time of need… It scares the living hell out of him.

“Good morning,” Charlie beams, “I love Dean.”

“Mm,” Castiel manages, because all he wants to say is so do I , but he’s not at all sure what Dean would think of that given the circumstances, “coffee?”

“There should be enough,” Dean says. He hops to his feet from the barstool and pours Castiel a cup. “How’d you sleep?”

“Not at all. I’m worried about the circumstances.”

“So am I,” Damaris says. “Tried to do research last night, but I guess we’re stuck without your knowledge.”

“Thank you,” Castiel says to Dean and relishes the way their fingers brush when the coffee mug changes ownership, “let me drink this and I’ll tell you anything.”

Charlie cringes. “I can’t wait. Okay, what’s up with the world?”

Castiel frowns over the rim of his mug and makes Charlie wait for a while before answering. He can feel Dean’s amused gaze on him, and not for the first time, he wishes the whole world would go away and let them get reacquainted with each other’s bodies in peace.

It’s beyond what he usually thinks of people, and it makes him giddy for a whole three seconds before remembering there’s a fucking war coming up.

“Alright, here’s what I know. Certain gods are vengeful towards those of us who think humans are good and deserve better than what they’ve had so far. Some would go as far as to give humans nice things; but mostly it’s about cooperation. But some of them have always thought humans are merely playthings they can do whatever they want with, and they’re ready to fight for the right to keep doing so. They’re planning an attack on one of the cities — I don’t know which one, but I’m betting my money on Athens because angry gods tend to be surprisingly simple at times — to see who will side with the humans. That’s where I come in. I need to be there for the people.”

Damaris nods. “Does the ocean have anything to do with this?”

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Castiel says, shrugging. “My captivators could have blackmailed me with the amount of damage they did, but they never followed through. I wonder if they weren’t behind it after all. Obviously, as soon as I heal, I’ll take care of marine urgencies. Tend to cetaceans the best I can, and prevent further harm from happening.”

“Sounds fair,” Charlie says.

“Not to be an ass about this,” Dean starts, “but do you have an army?”

Castiel shakes his head. “Sea gods don’t need armies.”

“I beg to differ, considering the circumstances,” Damaris sighs. “Any way you could get one?”

“I… No. I can’t just walk up to Mount Olympus and ask who wants to join me. I can’t contact gods without the others finding out. The risks are too big.”

“What about Balthazar? I’m sure he’ll help.”

“They’re keeping tabs on all of my siblings, but they’ll be here… Eventually.”

Dean frowns. “Uh. You need to contact gods, right?”

“Well, that’s the general idea, yeah.”

“Would it help if I knew how to contact the… Not gonna say his name in case gods are gonna come zapping in as soon as they hear a risky name being mentioned, but a messenger god? Hermes’ bratty kid?”

Gabriel . For reasons unknown, Dean’s talking about Gabriel. Castiel gives him a confused nod.

“That would help a lot. If we knew which side he’s on… We could ask him to deliver discreet messages to my trusted allies. Maybe he’d be up for some scouting as well, since the gods don’t really pay him enough attention.”

“Ah, a Hestia type, then,” Damaris says. Dean scoffs.

“Hestia’s a favorite! Don’t start!”

Castiel enjoys the way Dean’s eyes light up the second he gets to talk about his favorite Greek gods and goddesses. He’s sad this is what the situation is, because he’d love to listen to Dean talk about things that interest him. Even though they did spend an enjoyable week alone together, he knows way too little.

After listening to them talk for a moment, he gets up.

“I’ll go see how the sea is doing. Dean, when you’ve got the time, could you join me? I think we need to have a chat.”

“If it’s about the war, don’t fucking dare count us out,” Damaris says. “It’s a human thing, I’m coming along.”

Chapter Text

The Script: I’m Yours

 

Castiel walks among the shoreline of his villa, breathing in the scents the wind brings.

Cetacean strandings, far too many of them. Confused, hurt animal spirits trying to make their way forward.

Oil spills in the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Mexico, near Greenland.

Ice is melting.

An underwater volcano has erupted, bringing forth a new island in the middle of the wide open. It’s almost cute. Marine animals are already finding a life around it, but Castiel doubts any land critters ever will — unless he brings them there. A small conservation area for endangered species?

An underwater earthquake is starting. In a couple of days, it’ll start a wave. It’ll likely hit the east coast around New York.

What a coincidence for it to accidentally hit one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

Castiel doesn’t even know where to start. It seems like the peak of accidents is behind him now, implying Zachariah and Naomi were behind this — but it could also be what the real culprit wants him to believe.

So it’s either over, or it’s someone close enough to Castiel to know to keep it quiet now that he’s killed both Naomi and Zachariah.

It’s a mess.

He hears footsteps approaching. Dean stops next to him, inhales the wind, and lowers his gaze.

“How bad is it?”

“It’s worse than I thought. Everything is suffering. I’m trying to decipher who’s behind it.”

“You said your… people mentioned them when you were imprisoned.”

“Yes. Just taking care of things. I don’t know what things they could achieve with this.”

Dean hums, crossing his arms in consideration. “I think there’s nothing too complicated about it. They were hired to keep you away, because you’ve made friends with humans. Whoever is behind this is messing with the ocean to keep you occupied in case you get out.”

Castiel frowns. “You’re probably right. It’s a good call, though — I do need to tend to the ocean first.”

“Anything I can do?”

“I… I don’t think so, no.” Castiel sighs and takes a seat on the rocks. Dean follows him, and it hurts Castiel to notice he automatically puts distance between them.

Again, it’s what he deserves.

“Is this what you wanted to talk about?”

“No,” Castiel says, clearing his throat. “First of all, thank you for helping me out with the wings. I already feel better.”

Dean nods. Castiel can see him clenching his teeth together; he’s steeling himself, putting his defenses up. He doesn’t know where to start with apologizing, so instead, he deflects.

“How have you been?”

“Ah, you know me. Hanging out at my small cabin in the woods. Making dinner. I redecorated.”

“Good to know you’ve done well. I’m glad I didn’t… Hurt you that—”

“What the fuck, Cas?” Dean huffs. “In what universe would you believe you didn’t hurt me? I spent ages thinking that I wasn’t good enough for you, that being human made it impossible to ever be. You fucking made a mess out of me, and it’ll take more than a couple how-do-you-do’s to ever fix that.”

“I know. Still, I don’t think you would’ve left if I’d told you the truth.”

“That was my decision. Not yours.”

Dean hops to his feet to start pacing. While it makes Castiel nervous, he also hopes it calms Dean down a little.

“Look,” Castiel says. “I’m truly sorry for what I did. It doesn’t make it right, but I really thought I had your best interests in mind. When I saw you that night — I woke up to you standing in front of the window, clearly out of it, and… And then you looked at me, and you were scared . You were scared of me , and while I always knew humans and gods weren’t supposed to be together that intimately, I hadn’t predicted your mental strength would burn out so quickly. So I did what I thought was best for you, and sent you away.”

Dean runs his hand through his hair and groans. “It’s because I had a fucking nightmare in which you carried my dead ass in your claws. And yeah, I would like to have shared that with you in the morning, to talk it through with you. I would’ve liked to fucking know what it means when a messenger god contacts me in a dream. I am a human, Cas. I needed support, instead of being thrown out.”

Castiel opens his mouth to convince Dean sending him away was the right decision — even though he realizes it wasn’t — but all the thoughts running through his head at once are overwhelming. Gabriel had already started to contact Dean in his dreams, but why? Did he want to warn Dean or split the two of them?

“And that’s how you know you can contact him,” Castiel says, thinking aloud now. “He comes to you every night?”

“There was a long while when he didn’t. Instantly after I started taking interest in matters of the gods again, he returned.”

“Huh. Well, it would be handy to talk with him. Can you do it??”

“I can ask him tonight. Maybe he’ll come to us.”

“Right.”

A silence falls. Dean seems surprised that they just had a companionable talk, but when he remembers what brought them there he gets angry all over again.

“Still, what the fuck, Cas? It’s not like I thought we’d last forever, but I did think you’d be honest with me and that the decisions we made would be mutual. But you only saw me as a human, as a fucking subject of further observation and not as your equal.”

“Dean, it’s not—”

“Besides, I don’t fucking get why you’d decide to finish our last conversation ever with I do love you , like what the fuck do I do with that information?”

Castiel laughs dryly. “Dean, you’re right.”

“I know I’m right!”

“Not about the equality thing, though. I never thought you unequal or unworthy. If anything, it’s the other way around; you’re a human, and there’s no particular reason for you to be as kind as you are, but you strive to be good anyway. It’s truly phenomenal. That aside, you’re right about everything you just said. I wasn’t fair. You can’t do anything with my love if it’s given after I’ve already deceived you.”

“Dramatic,” Dean scoffs. He sits back down next to Castiel. “So, okay. I’m right, you’re an asshole. That’s established. If you didn’t have to worry about my safety, or whatever, what would you have done?”

“Oh,” Castiel sighs, because this is an easy one, “I would have kept exploring the world with you, dreading  the day you would decide you needed to get back to your job and your cabin in the woods.Eventually, when it arrived, I would’ve asked you to stay. To at least give you the option of staying with me. Because…” He sighs again, feeling the weight of his words more than ever, “I am very fond of you. I think you’re more than I could ever hope to find in a person, and I’d be a fool to let you go.”

Dean looks into the horizon, squinting at the sunlight. “Right.”

“How… How would you have reacted?”

“Would’ve left.”

It feels like a anvil through Castiel’s stomach. “Oh.”

“Of course I would’ve. I would’ve freaked out that my feelings were that strong that early in a relationship.”

Castiel grimaces. “Dean—”

Dean shakes his head. “Let’s… Let’s keep this professional for now. I’m sorry, Cas, but I can’t do more than that.”

*

During the day, Castiel walks in the garden and tries to listen to the ocean. He lets his wings stay out, because he knows he’s as safe here as it’s possible for him to ever be. It helps them heal, and the soft breezes ruffling his downy feathers makes him feel free for the first time since his capture.

There’s so much he would’ve liked to talk about with Dean, but it’s all pointless now. He knows he made a mistake, and he wasn’t expecting Dean to run back to him the second he returned… But knowing it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

How is he going to stick to professional behavior when all he wants to do is pray for forgiveness?

Dean tries to take a nap, but doesn’t manage; he’s too stressed about what’s at stake. They play card games until the sun sets, and Charlie needs to sit on her hands to not reach out and touch Castiel’s wings; she knows they’re off limits for her, but it doesn’t make her admire them any less.

Castiel’s both happy and saddened by the fact that Meg, Petros, and Antheia all make their way to Cyprus during the evening — he’s happy to see his friends, but he knows the more people he has along, the more are at risk of dying. Letting them all know this is the least he can do, and they seem to all feel the same as Damaris; ready to die for humanity.

Of course, that means there’s now nobody that doesn’t know about Castiel being a god. Apart from Petros, who seems starstruck, they take it surprisingly well. They spend the rest of the night trying to guess which stories in Greek mythology are true, and when it’s time to sleep, Castiel gets the weird feeling of it being too late too soon.

Apparently, Dean feels the same. As soon as Castiel has retreated to the master bedroom and the house has grown silent around him, there's a knock on the door.

Words feel unnecessary. Castiel scoots over and lifts up the blanket, and Dean instantly dives in. He scoots closer until he's in Castiel’s arms, and Castiel wraps blankets and wings around his too-cold body.

“This doesn't mean I've forgiven you,” he mutters against Castiel’s neck. “But I started thinking that what if, what if the war starts and we're bombed during the night, and I'm being immature about us. Cas, what if we die tomorrow?”

“If we do,” Castiel manages, shutting his eyes to keep tears from falling, “I'm glad I got to hold you tonight.”

Dean hums, a content, happy thing, and rubs his cool nose against Castiel’s skin. For a moment, they both just breathe.

“You know,” Dean mutters, his voice already sleep-heavy, “it was never supposed to last forever.”

Castiel frowns. “What was?”

“Our quarrel. It was supposed to last for a couple of days, after which we'd have some angry sex with you bottoming in the interest of fair play.”

Castiel huffs and places a gentle kiss on Dean’s forehead. Dean leans into the touch and it's absolutely heavenly.

“Well, for what it's worth,” Castiel says, his nervous heart already beating in his throat, “I can assure you we might die tomorrow sex with me bottoming in the interest of fair play might be even better.”

Dean laughs and in a soft, smooth motion, rolls so he's on top of Castiel. Their lips come together in a sign of forming a truce, of apologizing and forgiving, of promising to stay alive. Castiel’s whole body is melting, pliant in a split second under Dean’s hands that travel over the skin under the worn t-shirt he should've already taken off. He can't believe he gets to touch, to smell, to taste Dean again: sink his fingertips into his soft skin, dip his tongue in his mouth, and hear the moans that get stuck in his throat when he's too busy kissing Castiel back.

It's a pilgrimage.

Castiel wraps his legs around Dean’s hips and enjoys the way their quickly growing erections brush together. Dean lets go of Castiel’s lips to moan against his jaw and starts placing small kisses on the skin there; he sets his hips to a small grind that has Castiel gasping and throwing his head back. Dean makes a small, happy sound at the opportunity to kiss more skin, and after a couple of thorough kisses on Castiel’s neck he takes both of their shirts off.

They both still for a moment then, letting the seriousness of the situation dawn on them — that they’re here again, after almost a year and thousands of miles between them. The feelings that rise in Castiel’s chests are too enormous, too profound, too soon. The way Dean’s eyes twinkle with unshed tears of happiness implies he feels exactly the same, and he presses their foreheads together just to be close for a while. Then they kiss again, indulging in the beautiful feeling of reciprocated love, and Castiel almost whines at the loss of Dean’s lips when he ducks down to rid them off the rest of their clothes.

“You got lube around here?” Dean asks. “Or is this a place of sanctity?”

“You’re all the sanctity I need,” Castiel hums, fully aware of how cheesy he sounds. Dean rolls his eyes. “But the lube should be in the drawer over there.”

“You’re making me get off the bed,” Dean groans, “you better keep it warm.”

“It’s literally a meter,” Castiel says. “Do this for me, and I’ll let you come inside me.”

Dean’s breath catches but he tries to joke it off with a roll of his eyes. “Like you wouldn’t let me anyway.”

“Don’t you seem sure of yourself now,” Castiel laughs, but then Dean’s gone and come back again, and he’s silenced with a heavy kiss. Castiel can hear Dean opening the bottle of lube with the hand that isn’t currently placed gently on Castiel’s cheek, and then he starts showering his skin with kisses again; Castiel can’t help the smile that rises on his lips, and he runs his hands through Dean’s hair as he travels lower.

There are rare things that turn Castiel on more than Dean’s sinful lips around his cock. Dean seems fully aware of this, and he keeps his kisses and licks shallow, letting his hand travel towards Castiel’s entrance and draw slow circles around it with his fingertips. Castiel’s never been much of a talker but now he can’t stop — he blabbers about how good Dean feels and how good it is to feel his hands on him again, and how he thinks Dean is so unfairly hot it shouldn’t be allowed. When Dean finally takes him fully in his mouth, swallowing him all the way to the base of his cock, he’s rendered to half-word nonsense. It takes all of his willpower to not come already, and he tries to sink down deeper onto Dean’s fingers — two of them, already — but he’s quickly stopped with a firm hand on his hip.

“Cas, you’re healing,” Dean mutters after letting go of his cock, “you’re not allowed to move. Doctor’s orders.”

“You’re my,” Dean sucks the tip a little, making Castiel shiver violently, “doctor now?”

“M-hm,” Dean manages. After a while, he lets him go again. “And you’re letting me take care of you now.”

Castiel nods, and when Dean finds his prostate with his fingers he moans. Apparently it’s encouragement enough, and Dean comes back up to give Castiel another kiss. He’s on all fours, so Castiel instantly takes advantage of his ability to stroke Dean’s cock, hard and leaking precome on Castiel’s stomach. After a while, he manages to find the lube as well, and pours it on his hand to spread it on Dean, who drops his head on Castiel’s shoulder and lets Castiel see and feel the shivers and goosebumps that run through his skin.

Castiel manages to lift his legs up around Dean again, locking his ankles behind his back, and they’re kissing when Dean’s cock breaches Castiel’s rim. He doesn’t remember when he last felt this perfectly full and willing to take whatever’s given to him; when Dean sets a slow, gentle pace, he’s pretty sure he’s ascended to heaven. He wraps his arms around Dean’s shoulders and pulls him closer than should be humanly possible, and their kisses never end — and when they come a couple of minutes later, Dean inside Castiel and Castiel between them, it feels like a side effect of the much bigger high of their souls intertwining.

Chapter Text

Porcupine Tree: Lazarus

 

In the morning, the house is filled with sound.

Castiel wakes up alone and immediately feels empty and sad — he would have loved to wake up next to Dean and indulge in some morning kisses despite his human morning breath. After a while, he realizes more of his grace has returned, and when he flaps his wings into view, they look a bit like they should. They’re still darker than their normal hue, and of course not all the wounds have completely healed They will probably leave nasty scars, but they’re… Adequate.

It takes a while for him to realize there’s a lot more sound than there should be. With a frown, he walks to the door to listen in; people seem to be in good moods, but he doesn’t recognize the voices easily. Honestly, it sounds like open house.

Then, there’s a knock on his door. He steps back, appalled by the intrusion to his eavesdropping, and opens the door.

Gabriel stands in front of him with a grin on his face. He pulls Castiel in for a hug and pats his back.

“Good to see you, brother,” he mutters. Castiel pulls back and nods.

“What are you doing here?”

“Well, your designated human wanted me here. He also insisted I bring people who I know are on our side. It took me a couple of minutes, but we’re here.”

“You’re…? Who came?”

“I did!” Balthazar yelps, running to give him a quick hug. “Now, sorry. I need to make sure the rest get here on time.”

Castiel walks into the living room to find it full. At first glance, he recognizes Anna, Kevin, Michael, Hannah, Anael, and Raphael, and he’s filled with joy and pride over the fact that so many gods he considers family are willing to fight with him. With Balthazar, another wave of nymphs and other lesser gods make their way in, and the villa has never been this full of life.

Dean finds him when he’s still just staring at the scene in front of him. He takes Castiel’s hand and gives it a subtle kiss, and when their eyes meet, they both smile.

“Good morning,” Dean whispers. “Sleep well?”

“Like a log,” Castiel says. “I see you succeeded with this. How was it?”

“Well, it was confusing for a while. Gabriel did all kinds of shields before letting me talk. It was clever of him. But when we eventually were on the same page with what’s going on, he was willing to help. I… I hope it’s enough for now.”

“It’s more than I dared to hope for. By a landslide. Dean, I’m so grateful.”

Dean nods and looks around. “So, anyone I need to meet?”

“As a friend or as my declared human?”

“As your fuckbuddy.”

Castiel huffs. “You’re not my fuckbuddy.”

Dean tilts his head. “As your boyfriend, then.”

The gesture is simple — Dean just throws it in the air like this — but Castiel feels his heart is singing. “We need to discuss that,” he manages, “but after that, if you’re still up for being a boyfriend of a god, I’m all in.”

“Clear.”

“In the meantime, though, I think the most important people are Anna, the red-haired god next to Balthazar now, she’s the Arctic Sea god. Hannah, the one to Anna’s right, is the South Atlantic god, and we meet twice a year to converse about Atlantic issues. Then, of course, there’s Michael. Do you want to meet him personally?”

Dean swallows and Castiel notices he goes a little pale. “I do. I don’t know if I’m ready yet, though.”

“Ready as you’ll ever be. He’s alright. Feisty and protective, but he’s kind to humans.”

“Alright. Let’s meet him.”

After the initial introductions, Castiel lets Dean have some alone time with Michael. He keeps himself busy by talking to some nymphs in the meantime, and he also makes sure the humans, obviously confused by the amount of gods, are comfortable enough. Charlie is happy to get to know everyone, blending right in and serving self-made chocolate treats that everyone loves.

“So,” Gabriel makes his way next to Castiel when he settles against the bar table. “What’s your plan?”

“I don’t really have one yet. I’m glad you’re all here, but I’m worried about my ocean. I should be taking care of it, and also trying to eavesdrop on the conversations the gods are having. I don’t know if Naomi and Zachariah will be brought back to life, but it wouldn’t be the first time they decide to do that to keep good soldiers in their lines. You don’t happen to have heard anything of… of any plans?”

“Sadly, no,” Gabriel says. “They don’t send their messages through me. They’re still pissed about that stunt I pulled with the humans like two centuries ago.”

“Ah, the orgy.”

“Yes, the orgy.”

Castiel huffs out a laugh. “Okay. Then we’ll just have to be ready for whatever and wing it.”

“Yes. Wing it,” Gabriel says contemplatively, looking at Castiel’s wings he’s mostly tucked behind his back to save space. “How are yours coming along?”

Castiel spreads the left one a little. “They’re alright. Hurt a lot less now that they’re fixed.”

“Yeah. You’re pretty solid with Dean, then?”

“I would like to say so,” Castiel says with a smile, “but I don’t want to assume anything. We recently went through some rough stuff, mostly because I was an asshole, and we’re still working through that.”

“Ah. Well, for what it’s worth, I think he’s in love with you.”

Castiel nods. “I hope he is. I am in love with him.”

“You should tell him that,” Gabriel says, lifting a glass he didn’t have a second ago. “There’s never enough time for later .”

“You’re right, I should. I did tell him, but it was as I was doing the asshole thing.”

“Got it,” Gabriel says, “bottoming. Well, that makes any of us weak in the knees.”

Castiel rolls his eyes and catches Dean returning with Michael. They both look solemn, but when Castiel makes his way to Dean, he smiles tentatively.

“It’s intense,” he says, looking at Michael go. “I feel… Everyone expects something of me now that you’ve declared me. I get the impression they already expected  something when Michael saved me. I don’t know what all of this means.”

Castiel nods and brushes Dean’s face with his thumb. “I know. Is there anything I can do?”

“Not really. Just… Don’t expect me to grow wings or anything, okay?”

Castiel smiles and places a kiss on Dean’s cheek. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

*

Things take a sudden turn to a hell of a lot worse in the afternoon. They’ve mostly just talked to each other, not really making any plans yet, when a couple of nereids arrive in an obviously chaotic state. Two of them seem unable to form any words whatsoever, but one steps forward bravely.

“Hello,” he says, “my name is Jacques. I’m here to deliver bad news.”

“Is everything okay?” Someone from the crowd asks.

“No. We were sent here by Bartholomew. He wants you to know they’ll attack at sundown, and the world will end in fire.”

Castiel can feel Dean’s grip on his hand tighten. “Sent by Bartholomew? How did he know where we are?”

The nereid looks around the group for a moment before shrugging. “He just did. Maybe some of you told him? I don’t know, it wasn’t included in the message. Anyway, they attack at sundown, and—”

“And the world will end in fire, got it,” Dean scoffs. “Okay, where are they attacking?”

Jacques shrugs again. “It’s not included in the message.”

“Why did he send a nereid to deliver the news? There are messenger gods all around Olympus,” Gabriel says.

“Because if nereids want to be saved, they need to either side with Bartholomew’s troops or ask Castiel to give them sanctuary.”

“I don’t know if I can,” Castiel says hastily, and he tries to swallow the anxiety that’s caused by the realization. “I can barely hold the warding up in this place, and obviously, it’s not enough. I don’t have a place for you to go to.”

“It should be okay if we’re just tucked away in a nook or cranny,” one of the nereids behind Jacques says. “If you’re not asking us to fight for you, we’ll be fine there.”

“Ah,” Castiel sighs, “okay. In that case, seek the cave near Kefalonia. There’s ancient warding around it, so you should find it easily enough. There should be enough room for around two hundred nereids, if you pack in tightly.”

“Oh, we’ll manage with any little space,” Jacques says. “Thank you for the sanctuary, son of Poseidon. Our message is delivered now, so we’ll see our way out.”

“Thank you. Take whatever you want from the garden, with the permission of the nymphs around, of course.”

The gods watch the nereids leave in complete silence.

“Fire, then,” Hannah sighs. “I think our best shot is to see what would be a fruitful ground for fire.”

“Anything at this time of year,” Balthazar mutters. “I mean, anywhere with forest will do.”

“There’s forest right next to us, for starters,” Michael says.

“They know we’re here. Who says they’re not going to attack us?” Hannah says.

“How many more hours until sundown?”

Castiel loses track of people talking over each other and instead, gets up and tugs Dean along to the kitchen.

“How are you?”

Dean shrugs. “No idea. Apparently, this is it.”

Castiel nods. “This is war.”

“I can’t believe it’s real, and everything feels like a mess, and last night when I said I’m afraid we’ll die tomorrow I didn’t mean it to be a fucking invitation.”

“I know,” Castiel says, stroking Dean’s arm gently. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, and we need to make some quick plans, but all I can tell you is to please… Please be safe. I’ll do my best to keep you away from the worst of it, but I need you to be safe.”

“Cas, I can do this,” Dean says with a surprisingly confident smile considering how much anxiety is still streaming off him, “it’s not my first rodeo. Battles are what I’m good at. It’s the anticipation and the supernatural elements I have trouble with.”

“There’s so much I don’t know about you,” Castiel says with a half smile, “I want to find out.”

“We’ll have time,” Dean says. In contrast to his sudden confidence, the kiss he gives Castiel is shy.

“I just—”

Castiel stops talking, since people are suddenly walking out. He exchanges a quick confused glance with Dean, and they follow.

It’s hardly past two, and the sun is setting. It colors the ocean in crimson red, red like the animals killed for nothing in the same waters, and in the distance, there’s smoke. Castiel can’t place where it comes from; could be Crete or Santorini, or not even an island to begin with, since gods rarely need the laws of physics to create chaos.

As they're standing there in the middle of the yard — Castiel, Dean, with a mixed set of gods and humans around them — an explosion comes. It hits the cliffs not too far behind them, indicating that the attack is not coming from only one direction. Hell, it probably doesn't have one target, either. Castiel yells for people to back off, to seek shelter wherever they can because it's too soon, it's too much, and they don't have any semblance of a plan. Most of his people understand that retreat is the only way to act right now, but when Castiel stays and takes a stand he notices Dean standing next to him.

“Dean,” he manages to keep his voice calm despite the panic that rises upon realizing Dean is not safe yet, “I need you to go inside.”

“I need you to trust me to make my own decisions,” Dean says. His voice falters — of course it does, he's a human facing countless gods that only fight to slay his kind — but he digs his heels deeper into the ground.

“I trust you,” Castiel says. “But I need you to go.”

“I refuse.”

“Dean!”

Dean blinks and looks behind Castiel; his wings are flaring up in anger, shining bright like moonlight against the ocean. Dean squints angrily, works his jaw, and turns around to walk inside. Castiel wants to tell him he loves him, but that would be saying it in the worst possible situation for the second time.

He turns back to face the ocean, and in that instant, another explosion behind him shakes the ground. It's so close Castiel ducks — and sees the door of his villa fly over his head.

*

For a while, everything is fire. Castiel runs towards the house thinking of course the world will end in fire before his powers are fully replenished and tries to count his inhales and exhales — did he always breathe? — as he steps into the inferno that used to be his home. Instantly, he sees around ten people in the living room; Balthazar is protecting them with a water bubble. Castiel gestures him to take them the hell away from here before the whole place collapses and continues forward, because he needs to fucking find Dean, he needs to tell him he's sorry and he'll never question his decisions again, and that he loves him, and that —

There's a body on the kitchen floor, and Castiel shouts something incomprehensible as he sprints towards it. It's almost completely burned, and he bends over to examine it.

Shit.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.

It’s Petros. Completely, one hundred percent dead. Glancing back to the people under Balthazar’s proverbial wing, he sees a glimpse of Antheia’s curly hair. Does she know yet?

He can’t stay. Quickly, he places his hand on Petros’ forehead, muttering an apology and a thank you before straightening up again.

So unfair. So fucking unfair.

There’s a couple of people stuck in his guest room behind a fallen pillar, and he moves it to see the room is mostly intact. He’s pleased to notice both Damaris and Charlie made it in one piece, but his stress over Dean intensifies. Charlie seems to pick up on that, and after she helps the others escape she joins him in exploration.

The flames keep licking at the walls around them, rendering everything to ash. They pass another body, this of an unknown nymph, and Castiel repeats the gesture of thanking and apologizing to them before continuing.

It’s after Charlie turns to take a tour in the master bedroom that Castiel sees him.

Dean’s lying on the ground, eyes open and focused on Castiel, and there’s a piece of wood — part of a doorframe, Castiel thinks idly — sticking out of his diaphragm. His breathing is shallow and he’s obviously in pain, but there’s a sense of serenity in his face.

Castiel knows what it means, but refuses to process it. He kneels next to Dean, vaguely aware his wings are starting to smoke and will probably catch fire soon enough. Flames are already licking at Dean’s shoes, and for some reason, it makes Castiel want to yell.

“I forgive you,” Dean whispers. “You didn’t know. Please don’t blame yourself.”

“Oh, god,” Castiel stutters, a loud sob escaping his lips. He places his hand on Dean’s forehead, refusing to thank or apologize yet. “You’ll be fine. You’ll be fine, Dean.”

“Of course I will,” he says, a frown trying to form on his face but falling a bit short. “I see them. I never understood what he meant. I’m here now, Cas.”

“No,” Castiel says.

“I see it perfectly. Half of it. Half of the city. Half city lights.”

“Dean, please, don’t —”

“Cas,” Dean hums, “my broken angel. My god. So lonely and broken. I’m glad I could —”

“This is not you,” Castiel says frantically, “this doesn’t sound like you. What the hell are you talking about, Dean?”

“What do you want me to say? That I think you’re stunning?”

Castiel smiles through his sobs, then shakes his head. “Say nothing. Just stay with me.”

Dean lifts his hand slowly, grimaces at the pain, and gestures to the wood piercing him. “I don’t think this is negotiable.”

“Everything is. Stay. Stay with me.”

Castiel vaguely realizes the flames riding up Dean’s shins now. The fact that he doesn’t complain, or twitch, or do anything about it means he can’t feel anything with his legs.

“I just chose the spot poorly,” Dean says, looking all serious and thoughtful now. “I didn’t know the house was going to explode.”

Castiel’s wings twitch automatically as the flames start making their way to the feathers. Fire all around him is excited for the rush of oxygen.

“I— Cas, there’s someone who wants me to follow. Am I going to follow them?”

He shakes his head. “Don’t follow, Dean.”

“Is that what you want or is that what I want?”

Castiel rubs his face with his free hand. “I don’t know. I don’t know, Dean.”

“Will it make the pain go away?”

“Yes,” he replies instantly, because that much he knows to be true. He can’t believe he doesn’t know this much about… About death.

“I’m on fire, aren’t I?”

He nods. “Yeah, Dean. You’re on fire.”

“Please don’t burn your wings,” Dean says, pressing his eyes closed. “I’m so fucking scared, Cas—”

Then…

Silence.

*

Everything is static.

White noise. White noise. White noise.

Someone’s talking, and centuries pass.

Centuries pass in a heartbeat, and all Castiel can feel is guilt. Guilt over making Dean return inside even though he wanted to stay with Castiel.

Did he never see them as equals after all?

Guilt over carrying his body away from the fire, but not before his wings were half ash and Dean was mostly consumed by flames.

Guilt over feeling selfish. Crying on the grass. Hugging Dean’s body close, clutching him like it would make him return, and refusing to let go.

He’s vaguely aware the explosions are still going on. He’s going to have to deal with them at some point.

What do they want? What do they want that they didn’t already take from him?

When Charlie comes to him it’s daytime again. He vaguely realizes everything is not only static, but also slow motion. When Charlie takes Dean from his arms, he finds an anger he didn’t know existed within him — pure, unadulterated, divine wrath that is as all-consuming as his love for Dean was, is, and will always be. And then, he’s yelling at Bartholomew to fucking come and get him already, and when he doesn’t appear Castiel uses all his strength to send out a storm that he hopes will reach the far ends of the universe and wipe away every god who ever thought this was a good idea.

Then, he returns to Charlie and Dean, and for the first time, hears what she’s saying.

“What do we do, Castiel?” He finally glances in her direction, seeing her small form cradling Dean’s scorched body, her face painted with fear and sorrow. “They could attack again at any moment, and more of us could die.”

“I don’t know.” He balls his hands into fists, pressing them into his eyes. “I have to tell Sam, and I don’t even know if Dean told him he was here. How will I explain? He’ll want to come here, for Dean, but it’s too dangerous and I…” he trails off, hands dropping to his sides, lost.

“They’ve stopped bombing, so we’re in the clear for now, but who knows how long it will last?”

Castiel glances across the sea, gauging time and distance against his battered body, and makes a decision. Gently, as though Dean were only sleeping, Castiel takes his body from Charlie.

“Gather the others, and move to shelter as best you can. Ayias Solomonis is not too far away, you should be safe in the cave church for a while -- even safer if you make it to the catacombs. If the ceasefire continues for more than four or five days, try to make it out of Cyprus -- Antheia knows where my house in Crete is, you should be safe there.” He looks down at the figure cradled in his arms, and his grip tightens. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

 

There’s really no other option for Castiel than to carry Dean back to Kefalonia. He wants him safe, wrapped in a cocoon of water to preserve his body, in a place nobody else has access to. He can’t bear  to leave Dean anywhere unfamiliar for him because -- Castiel swallows around the thought -- if his soul is reluctant to leave his body, he’s going to need help to navigate to the afterlife later.

And so, his beautiful righteous human cradled tight in his arms, he walks. His wings have burned and for now, he can’t use them -- a nd his feet hurt like hell, his arms are shaking, and his whole body is begging for him to give up and die. He doesn’t.

Instead, he thinks about all the things he’s gone through. He’s been bullied, tortured, betrayed, and blackmailed, and he’s never given up. Before Dean, he didn’t really understand why he had such a strong will to stay alive. He thought it was something given with grace — something gods just had to possess to manage.

No. It’s clear as day, and it’s been clear as day ever since they first met on the beach at Agios Ioannis. He’s been alive all this time for Dean. He’s been waiting since he was born.

And it was worth it. Even if it’d only been that time at the beach. Or that time in the cave at Delos where they almost kissed.

Worth it. Worth thousands of years of suffering.

Thoughts come and go as Castiel takes Dean to safety.

Dean is not the first person to have died in front of him, and there was something he said that Castiel has heard before, always left wondering — half city lights. He digs through all his information but finds nothing to cross-reference it with; it’s like those words come to people just before they die. Dean talked about a him , as in there was someone who talked to him about the issue. Who, though? Again, Castiel realizes he knows very little about Dean’s personal life outside Castiel and his line of work, and he hates himself for never finding out.

While walking, a self-loathing part of him thinks it’s what he deserves — he didn’t prioritize the ocean, and this is the ocean’s revenge. The ocean is part of him, just as Helios is both the sun and the god of the sun; so in a sense this is a self-inflicted wound. Castiel doesn’t want to believe he’d have it in him to effect such a terrible self-fulfilling prophecy.

Oh, how he would’ve loved to ask Dean to help make this place a home. How he would’ve loved to argue over where to spend Christmas and summer holidays.

And where to get married.

Because that’s what he would’ve wanted. To marry Dean.

Now, he steps in through the door, and the sad irony of carrying Dean’s body over the threshold isn’t lost on him. He places him gently on the bed in a small, pretty bedroom, and lies down next to him.

He’s ready to die.

Chapter Text

Five for Fighting: Heaven Knows

Hey Ocean!: Islands

 

Dean walks on a road made of brimstone and diamonds.

Agony comes first; the burning in his legs, his torso, his face. He places his hand on his diaphragm, but it feels solid.

Then, comes longing. The sorrow in Castiel’s face when Dean said he needs to follow the people that came for him.

Who were the people, though? And where were they taking him?

There’s not much here. The road seems to rise out of nowhere, and some austere islands seem to be floating around him. Apart from that, it’s all pink-brown nothingness . He’s not sure where he’s headed, but when he sees the pavilion, he feels contradicted. A part of him wants to turn away, and another is intrigued by what he’s hearing.

Voices. At least three of them.

“Ah,” a voice says, and damn, it feels familiar somehow, “Dean, you’re finally here.”

Suddenly, he’s in the middle of the pavilion, and there are four people sharing the space with him. Instantly, he realizes these are some of the original twelve Olympian gods, and he tries to kneel only to notice his feet won’t obey him anymore.

“Nice to meet you,” another voice says. This belongs to a woman standing in front of him — she’s wearing a long black dress and her curly hair falls gracefully to her shoulders. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“Yeah, well,” Dean manages to say, “hopefully all good.”

“All kinds of things, that is true,” another voice — a man that looks like a homeless guy more than a god — says.

“What’s going on?” Dean asks. A man with blue eyes and a warm smile walks up to him; he’s the one who sounds familiar.

“There’s something you need to know.”

Dean looks at the people around here, and almost freezes when he notices the woman sitting next to the fire. She bears a striking resemblance to Dean’s mother, Mary, and she looks at him with the same amount of pride Dean would have wanted his mom to always look at him with.

“Yeah,” Dean says. “I bet. So, is this the afterlife?”

“No, you’re not there yet. There’s a long way for you to go if that’s where you want to end up. But it’s in your hands. The reason you’re here…” the man still standing in front of him hesitates, and the woman from the fireplace rises up and walks to Dean. For the briefest second, Dean can imagine her placing a gentle hand on his cheek to console him the way his mom always did.

“It’s because you’re declared. That obligates you to a detour before afterlife.”

Dean frowns. “Oh.”

“Usually, when gods declare living beings… They’re gods, or lesser gods. The fact that Castiel declared a human is… It’s not completely unheard of, but highly uncommon,” the man explains. The homeless-looking guy huffs.

“I think it’s a coincidence,” he says and Dean wonders if his voice is always this whiny. “This guy just got in trouble and would’ve died.”

“Please stop, Metatron,” the other guy says, tapping his jaw with his fingertips while never straying from Dean’s eyes. “This is a new situation for us, and while of course you can go to afterlife if you’re ready… You could choose to get your mortality burned away by one of us.”

“Any of us, really,” the Mary-looking woman says.

“Nobody asked me,” Metatron says, rolling his eyes. “Nobody ever asks me.”

“Or me, it seems like,” Dean laughs. “Oh, my god. What the fuck is going on.”

“How did you die?” The man asks.

“There was an explosion at… at Castiel’s place.”

The man’s expression shifts instantly. He frowns, and there’s an ancient fire of anger behind his eyes. Oh , Dean thinks feebly. You must be Castiel’s father. And that’s why he sounds familiar as well; they talk similarly.

“Why?”

“There were….” Dean doesn’t want to tell them the truth, because the risk of these people being on the opposite side is too big. However, the words escape of their own volition. “Some gods wanted to see who would stand up for humans, or something like that. Mostly, it was about gods having the right to use humans as they wanted.”

“Ah, age old feuds,” the woman in the black dress says. “What nonsense. Chuck, let’s finish it.”

“If Castiel asks us to, we will,” the man says, squinting at Dean. The gesture is similar to that of Castiel’s and for a moment, all Dean feels is hollow, longing pain.

“Okay, you take care of that, by all means,” he says, “but  what happens to me now? I mean… No offense, but I think I’ve done my share of burning.”

“It’s not physical burning,” the woman, now happily back at the hearth, says. “From what I’ve heard, it’s like a weight is lifted. We’ve done it to heroes.”

“Makes sense,” he nods, and walks up to the woman since she’s the only thing that feels familiar and comfortable right now. “but I’m hardly a hero. I don’t… I don’t want to be anything just because I’m a proxy.”

“Of course not, dear,” she says, and smiles with an age-old wisdom Dean always knew Hestia would possess. “But you do realize Castiel would never have declared you to begin with if you weren’t completely unique. That’s something given to you in birth. Not everyone is capable of loving a god.”

“He’s hard not to love,” Dean mutters. She laughs warmly.

“Yet not all humans fall for him. In fact, you’re the only one who did. Dean,” her eyes get serious and she keeps them at the fire in front of him. “Not all heroes are loud, ready to kill, and always flaunting their physical strength. Some make quaint homes in the mountains, and love against all odds even with the possibility of not being loved back. Some choose family over everything else and never lose their faith even when their family betrays them. I think your heroism is the strongest of all — it’s the power of a home carried with you wherever you are.”

Dean looks at the fire for a moment, considering this. It feels both exhausting and calming to be here by the hearth; he understands nothing, but the second he realizes that’s how things are probably always going to be, it feels easier.

Chuck coughs, reminding Dean he’s not alone in the room with the woman. “We’re manifesting for you after your death because you’ve got a choice to make. You can continue to the afterlife, and see what all the fuss is about, or you can let one of us burn your mortality away. It would make you a lesser god.”

“A lesser— what, like Cas?”

Chuck nods. “Like my Castiel, for example. You wouldn’t be in charge of the ocean, though, unless you want me to be the one to do that.”

“No offense,” Dean says, and again, the words come out even though he can feel the struggle behind expressing them, “but I’m very much in love with your son. I don’t want to be his sibling.”

“Take notes, gods,” the black-dressed woman says. “I told you nobody chooses to fuck around with a sibling, given the choice.”

Metatron rolls his eyes. “Not all of us had a choice, Amara.”

Chuck rolls his eyes. “Please ignore them. Besides, becoming a lesser god by letting your mortality be burned away doesn’t mean you become the child of one. This barely means you become a deity.”

“That is unless you want to die instead,” Metatron says with a surprising amount of glee in his beady eyes. “I bet that’s a good option after all the suffering you’ve had. If you go back, there’s going to be a hell of a lot more suffering.”

“Of course there will. Living beings are always suffering,” Amara says. “But it doesn’t mean life shouldn’t exist.”

“We’re not in a hurry,” Chuck says. “You can hang around here, help yourself to any of the treats behind the door,” he gestures to his left, where a door appears, “and we’ll be back in a couple of days. You can think in peace.”

*

Castiel spends most of his time taking care of the ocean. After soothing the underwater earthquake, he calms down the volcano with the help of nereids. He aids the sea critters into better living environments and tries to ensure safe passages for cetaceans. He tries to do as much as he can, not knowing when the next attack will come or how he can prevent it.

Balthazar and Gabriel have settled the rest of the group into a hotel in Cyprus, and everyone seems to be doing okay considering the circumstances. Castiel is unbelievably sorry he’s not there to support Antheia through the worst days of her life, but at least she’s got Damaris; she probably knows better what to say, anyway. Castiel cannot help her process her grief while he avoids dealing with his own, focusing on the things he can fix now to distract him, making sure at least the innocent animals are safe.

Before he’s done, he also visits an old friend — the 52 hertz whale. He’s always been able to relate to its pain, since in many ways, he’s also felt like it’s the only god on a different wavelength than all the others. The whale seems to be in good condition despite its unfathomable loneliness, and while it makes Castiel feel sad, it’s also oddly cathartic. Maybe some beings are meant to be alone, but at least in their loneliness they have one another; unique members in a tribe of sorrow that goes on and on.

The thought of being alone again hurts him so much he needs to distract himself. It’s not time to grieve yet.

Eventually there is nothing left for him to fix, but even so he can’t make himself return to Dean. He knows his body is safe for now, and the longer he avoids going back, the longer he can keep from making all of this real by telling Sam. He wouldn’t even know where to start. How can he hope to explain to Sam that there’s a war among the gods going on and his brother died in it?  It sounds incredulous even in his head, and the thought of leaving Sam in the dark and burying Dean in the garden instead feels appealing; Sam would worry about his brother, but at least he’d never learn how gruesomely he died.

Unable to decide what to do, he returns to Cyprus where Charlie pulls him in for a long, heartwarming hug. Damaris fusses around him like a mother hen, making cake and milkshakes. It makes him regret ever thinking he was truly alone; he should be grateful for what he has here, and keep on living for these people.

But then, there’s the pull. There’s the insistent pull towards something — as if there’s a string wrapped around his heart and someone’s tugging it gently, trying to make him understand he doesn’t fully belong here. It’s fucking frustrating because he knows who he belongs with, but unless he’s willing to break every rule gods have ever made and possibly die in the process, he won’t get Dean back. It angers him, and apart from Balthazar -- who dares to ask about whether Castiel is interested in trying to get Dean back -- everyone knows not to talk to him about sensitive issues.

Which means they don’t talk all that much about anything. Ceasefire has continued since Castiel left Cyprus, apart from small forest fires that could also be caused by natural phenomena, and all of them are strung as tight as bowstrings, waiting for the dam to break.

“There’s something I never understood,” Castiel says one night, when they’re drinking spritzers at the rooftop of their hotel. He turns to Gabriel, who’s fighting over the ownership of a candy bar with Balthazar. “You.”

“Me?”

“Who recruited you to go to Dean?”

Gabriel frowns, still pulling the bar idly. Balthazar refuses to let go of the other end. “Am I allowed to tell you?”

“I don’t think it matters now.”

“It was one of Pythia’s daughters. They’d seen him die in a prophecy and wanted me to warn him, make him turn away. They saw that if Dean stayed with you, he’d die.”

So it was written. A chill runs through Castiel.

“I didn’t visit him after you sent him away, not at first. Eventually, he decided to get back to you, and I needed to continue.”

“I’m not blaming you for anything,” Castiel says calmly. “I just… I feel there’s something in the big picture we’re missing.”

“I feel the same way about Dean. Something between the lines we’re not seeing.”

“Are you certain you weren’t told anything more? What if you misunderstood the dactylic hexameters?”

Gabriel scoffs. “I didn’t. I needed to tell him he was going to die, and that one day, he’d be in the middle.”

Half city lights.

“What does that mean?”

Gabriel hums. “There’s a place, in-between, when you’re half above  ground, and half beneath it, on your way to Tartarus. You can see both of the places; the bright lights of humanity and the pitch black of the underworld.”

Castiel shakes his head. “It doesn’t make sense. Why mention a middle, if the only way through it is down?”

“I’ve heard,” Balthazar chimes in, and Castiel hadn’t even noticed he was part of the conversation. “That some humans possess a spark of divinity, and they get to choose.”

“All humans possess divinity,” Castiel sighs. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell the other gods.”

“No, no. This is specific. It’s a divinity forged by hardships, like a diamond under pressure. Some people break under that pressure, some find their peace and make it through, and some rare souls are granted a choice between death and life.”

“Why is this the first I’m hearing of this?” Castiel says.

“It’s not in the manual, no,” Balthazar mutters, “because it’s very rare for humans to choose to continue once they know what death is like. Having all your worry and pain lifted from you can be orgasmic.”

“Sounds fake,” Gabriel says.

“I have to agree with Gabriel here,” Castiel says, and loses the end of his sentence when he spots Michael standing at the edge of the roof. He’s talking on the phone, and there’s something in his expression that makes Castiel wary. He tilts his head and tries his best to tune in despite all the people making noise around him.

It takes him a while to succeed, but when the words click in he’s instantly on his feet. He barely notices his wings fan out behind him, and when Michael turns to face him fully, his mouth turns into a smirk.

“Oh, hi, Castiel.”

Castiel brings his wings forth, fluffing them in what he hopes is an intimidating gesture. Michael looks at them for a while before shaking his head.

“They aren’t healing. They’re still burned.”

“Who were you talking to?” Castiel huffs.

“What’s up, brother? If I didn’t know better, I’d think you’re accusing me of something.”

“I am accusing you. You were talking about our coordinates,” Castiel blinks, and the realization dawns on him, “oh my god , you were the one who gave us away before they attacked the villa!”

Michael huffs out a sharp breath and gives Castiel a look filled with condescension. Suddenly, all of his pretenses are dropped aside.

“Do you have any idea what it’s like to live with regret, because you had a weak moment and saved a human?”

“You regretted saving Dean,” Castiel says, his voice a dead monotone, “so you made sure he died after all.”

“No, that was an accident, I didn’t intend for it to happen. But you’ve got to listen to me: we have enough problems amongst ourselves, and if all of us are focused on humans, what would happen to the realm of gods?”

“I’m not asking for either-or. I’m asking for a fucking choice. I’m asking for free will.

Michael raises his eyebrows. “Then, I beg to differ with you.”

“You can believe in whatever you feel is right, but if you regret saving the only thing that’s meant this much to me… then I no longer have a brother,” Castiel says. Michael fucking shrugs and turns away.

Castiel barely sleeps at all.

For the first time since forever, he prays to his father. He talks to him about Dean, and about the ocean, and how he feels like shit because Michael’s betrayal doesn’t even surprise him. He’s never thought ill of any of his siblings, but now that the truth has come to light he realizes he’s always been the most wary with Michael — felt uncertain around him, incapable of speak his mind. That he saved Dean clouded Castiel’s judgement enough to let him in the villa to begin with, but it’s a painful reminder that he needs to learn to follow his intuition.

Inevitably, morning comes, and with it the insistent pull inside him. Now it feels like anticipation, and for a while he just lies there. He’s anxious, like he tends to be before a storm, and he dreads the thought that Michael’s troops will probably arrive today. Yet, it’s not a bad feeling, and he wonders if talking to Poseidon helped him get some agony off his chest.

That, in turn, brings guilt. He shouldn’t feel easier, because nothing is going to bring Dean back, and no matter what he tried to tell Castiel at the end, he still blames himself. It’s shit, because he knows he should respect a dying man’s wish, but he just can’t help it.

A knock on his door interrupts his shame spiral, and after a second Damaris steps in. She doesn’t even bother looking apologetic, just makes her way to the window and pulls the curtains open.

“Alright, sea god, riddle me this,” she says. “What is going on?”

“What?”

“Come see. Something’s happening.”

Castiel heaves himself upright and walks next to Damaris.

What do you know, she’s right. There’s a storm on the shore visible from Castiel’s window, just like his gut told him — but there’s something odd about it.

“It barely reaches twenty meters across,” Damaris explains, “it’s the most local storm I’ve ever witnessed.”

“It’s,” Castiel says, feeling out of breath because suddenly, the pull is back, and stronger than ever. This has Michael written all over it, and it’s weird -- for some reason, Castiel thought it would take him longer to act. I think it’s Michael. It’s for me , that’s for sure . I need to follow it.”

“Is it a trap? Or a truce?”

“I...I don’t know. The only way to find out is to get to the other end of the storm.”

Damaris blinks. If there’s something Castiel has always loved about her, she rarely objects to a foolish idea, and here she is again proving him right with a nod.

“Alright. I’ve got a sailboat at the docks. You can take it. Or do you want me to come along?”

“No, I’m… I need to do this alone.”

“Of course.”

They make their way out of Castiel’s room and into the buffet breakfast, where Damaris snatches them a couple of baguettes and tomatoes. While they walk to the docks, she squeezes the tomato juice on top of baguettes and hands them to Castiel. They don’t talk, which is probably for the best — Castiel doesn’t want to explain the urge because he doesn’t understand it himself.

The wind blows angrily through Castiel’s hair and makes him squint. He tries to look into the horizon and see where the ruckus is coming from, but all he can see is rain that whooshes past sideways. On their left, he can see the air turning clear as if there’s an invisible wall keeping the storm from reaching further. It’s fucking weird, but Castiel boards the boat anyway.

“Are you gonna be fine?” Damaris asks.

“Of course,” Castiel nods and starts the motor. He’s already soaking wet from the rain, and so are Damaris’ baguettes, but she happily waves him off until she’s out of view, barely five meters out. Here, Castiel decides to pull the sail up anyway; the wind seems to be guiding him to his destination, and it will take less time and energy to ditch the motor for now.

Castiel’s heart is beating as he travels across the ocean. He’s nervous, and he doesn’t know what will follow when he’s face-to-face with Michael. It makes him uneasy, but he also welcomes feeling something new. It’s easy for him to face it; this is the most alive he’s felt since — since what feels like forever but is probably two months. Anticipation rises in his chest, higher and higher like tides pulled in by the moon, and surprisingly enough, he wants to laugh. For no other reason except for feeling something, finally feeling something that isn’t guilt or agony or longing.

His brain tries to remind him that he shouldn’t be this content with this situation by bringing forth images of Dean, drawing his dying breath. He feels cold just thinking about it, so he briefly lifts his gaze towards the sky and lets the rain soak his face. Why doesn’t he hang out in rain more? It should be part of his everyday routine.

Eventually, the storm ends; it feels like he passes one of those invisible walls, and then he’s surrounded by sunshine. There’s a small island in front of him, and it takes him  a while to recognize it, coming from this direction. It’s Strofades, and he has no idea how he got here so fast. It further confirms his suspicions about Michael being the one behind this; that speed of travel is only possible for gods, and he sure as hell didn’t do the traveling himself.

Not that he really doubted it in the first place. Humans rarely send storms.

It’s hard to get close to the beach with the boat, so he anchors it closeby and throws himself overboard. He rejoices in the feeling of the ocean against his skin — a feeling he can never get enough of — and takes a deep dive before stepping up to the rocky shoreline.

Even though the storm is gone, he knows where he needs to go. There’s an old temple on top of the hill, and he’s drawn towards it as if the pull in his chest had always led there.

For a brief moment, he realizes this could also be Poseidon. It’s unlikely for his father to answer his prayer this quickly, though, so he dismisses the thought fast.

It takes Castiel a moment to steel himself and push the doors of the temple open. Adrenaline rushes through his veins, making him weak, and for the first time in his life he feels the effects of hyperventilation. He can’t begin to guess where the feelings are coming from because, frankly, everything’s a bit of a mess.

Light comes in through the tall, stained-glass, mosaic windows, painting  the hall in warm autumn hues. There’s magic in these places, Castiel has always known that, and for a while he just admires the ornamental light fixtures and the craftsmanship in the wood carvings of the benches. As he walks forwards, light catches his skin, and on a whim he lets his wings out to get some as well.

There’s someone sitting in the front row, and even from afar it only takes Castiel a split second to recognize who it is.

“Dean,” he manages, unsure whether he should run or faint. Dean instantly rises from his seat and turns to him, and he’s radiant; his soul is shining like the sun, he’s smiling like he’s waited for Castiel all of his life. Castiel is drawn to the light like a moth, his legs moving on their own, and Dean welcomes him with open arms. He crashes his body against Dean, sinks his face under his jaw and breathes in the warmth, the glorious feeling of being home. He notices his fists are hurting from grasping Dean’s clothes hard like he’s a lifeline, and for what it’s worth, he truly is.

“Hey, Cas,” Dean finally sighs, obviously hesitant to let go. Castiel lets himself be pushed a little but refuses to free Dean’s shirt from his fists or look straight into his eyes. He’d probably burst into flames from the intensity.

“Hey,” Castiel whispers. “How long?”

“How long, what?”

“How long am I going to keep dreaming? When do you have to leave me again?”

“Look at me, Cas.”

He obliges slowly, and he was right, it’s too much — Dean’s eyes are shining just as warmly as his soul is, and the love pours right into Castiel’s greedy, thirsty heart.

“I’m here.”

“When do you leave?”

“I won’t.”

Castiel huffs. “Right.” It feels like he’s too far away from Dean, so he sinks into another hug.

“Cas,” Dean tries again. “I’m not leaving you again.”

It’s too much. Of all  the things ever to happen in Castiel’s universe, this is the one he doesn’t understand. Greek mythology never has happy endings yet here he is, hugging Dean Winchester in an abandoned temple.

They fall silent, listening to each other’s breathing and heartbeats. Eventually, Castiel manages to unclench his fists and wrap his arms around Dean — it feels like the void inside his chest is filled with love.It’ll take a while, but someday, he will be alright again. Dean waits patiently, although he’s pretty affected by this as well if his tears are anything to go by. Finally, Castiel pulls himself free.

That’s when he realizes what’s going on. “Uh, Dean,” he says feebly. “You’re not human.”

Dean laughs, ducking his head a little. “Yeah, well. That happened.”

“What happened?”

“I met your father, for starters,” Dean says. Castiel feels too weak to stand so he leans against the altar. Dean echoes his pose. “Awkward guy. Real nice, though. Glad you decided to ask him for help.”

“I did it last night,” Castiel says, blinking. “Were you with him last night?”

“I was around him, yeah. Him and some other relatives of yours.”

“Okay,” Castiel winces. “Oh, wow. Dean, I’m not sure I can take this.”

“Your father said you’d probably say that. He watches over you, you know. Knows you better than you think he does.”

Castiel shakes his head. “What did he… Think of me asking for help?”

“He was hoping you would. He’ll help dissolve the situation for now, force everyone to mediate a resolution.”

Castiel leans his hands against his thighs, overwhelmed by everything going on right now.

Dean frowns. “Are you feeling okay?”

“I love you.”

The warm smile that reaches Dean’s eyes is worth everything. “I’m serious, Castiel. How are you?”

“Well,” he shrugs. “Been better. Pains everywhere.”

Dean steps away from the altar and reaches out a hand for Castiel to take. “I think I can help you with that.”

Castiel nods, and lets himself be pulled back against Dean. He smiles and tilts his head, and Castiel realizes he’s asking consent for a kiss. Castiel nods and puts his hands on Dean’s waist again — for support, because he’s going to faint — and when Dean gently presses their lips together, he feels his body exploding with light.

They get a little lost on the way. What’s supposed to be a chaste little peck turns into a shamelessly indulgent deep kiss with Dean chasing Castiel’s tongue, and Castiel only realizes they’ve moved again when he’s lifted on top of the altar. There are so many things he  wants to ask Dean, but he can’t bring himself to break the kiss, because part of him is still afraid Dean’s going to disappear as soon as he opens his eyes again.

This is real. It has to be. It’s too good to be a dream.

When Dean starts pressing small, joyful kisses on Castiel’s neck, Castiel manages to laugh.

“Dean,” he says, “do I need to remind you why making out on an altar is a bad thing?”

“God, no,” Dean huffs. “I would like to do it anyway.”

He presses his lips on Castiel’s pulse point, sucking what’s probably a prominent mark there, and leans away. Castiel immediately regrets ever objecting, but is distracted by the way his wings are full and magnificent again.

“Okay,” he says, “you’re magical. What are you?”

“A lesser god now,” Dean says, tucking his hands in his pockets and swaying back on his heels in a sudden motion of embarrassment, “Hestia burned my mortality away.”

Castiel hops off the altar to pull Dean in for another kiss. He can’t believe it — this beautiful, brilliant human made it out of the land of the dead on his own, and is here, and kissing Castiel back, and —

“Mortality,” Castiel says suddenly. Dean blinks at the sudden loss of his lips against his own. “Are you immortal?”

“I’m a lesser god now, Cas, of course I am.”

Castiel feels he needs support again, but he forces himself to focus on standing up and speaking instead. “You’re staying with me.”

“If you’ll have me. You can be the resident sea god. I can be your home.”

“Yes, Dean,” Castiel says, pulling him close again, “a million times, yes.”

Dean places a kiss on Castiel’s hairline. “I love you, too.”

Together, they leave the temple. The sun is still bright in the sky, and Castiel feels warm for the first time in months. He can’t believe he gets to have this; to have his savior, the love of his life by his side for all of eternity. He’s ready to take Dean home to their little house in Kefalonia, and he really wants for Dean to keep his Montana house as well -- he’s looking forward to fighting with Dean about where to spend the holidays.

Chapter Text

Muse: Aftermath

 

Dean swats the persistent hand on his shoulder and turns away. Just a couple of hours more…

“It’s not my fault you went on adventures last night,” Damaris says, “or that you’re the only god in existence to need this much sleep. Now, up with your ass or I have to pull you away from the bed.”

“Don’t wanna,” Dean mutters. “Tell him to wait.”

“Really? If you don’t think he’s gonna go all I waited thousands of years for you already, Dean , you can think again.”

Dean groans. “That’s what you’re for. Don’t let him go Twilight on me.”

“Hah!” Damaris’ laugh is fake and she yanks the blanket off Dean’s body. He groans and reaches for it, already realizing he’s lost the battle. “Finding purpose in another person isn’t exactly a rare thing. If you’re not into dramatic gestures of romance, you should not have picked a fucking Greek god.”

“Hmm,” Dean manages a smile. “I did choose well.”

“You’re both making it sound like anyone had an actual choice in the matter,” Bela says. She’s standing at the door, leaning against the frame with a smirk on her face, and it’s seeing her that finally makes Dean get up from the bed.

“You made it,” he mutters, reaching out his hands for a hug. Bela looks at his half-dressed state for a while before accepting it.

“We all did. Your fussy brother flipped his mane until the airport crew relented and got us onto another plane.”

“Are they here already?”

“Just taking their stuff to their room. They’re a floor up, you should go say hi.”

“Do I have time to go say hi?” Dean asks Damaris.

She shrugs. “I dunno. Are you gonna get nervous?”

“I was nervous when I was born. Alright, I’ll make it quick,” Dean says and jumps into a pair of khakis before escaping the room. He makes a run for it, preferring the cold marble of the stairs over the metal death cage of an elevator. Even though exercise doesn’t get him out of breath easily anymore, he feels his heart beating faster and harder when he’s upstairs — his nerves are already getting the best of him, and it’s only morning.

Sam and Jess’ door is open, which allows Dean to jump right in with a loud “Hello!”

Sam, sitting on the edge of the bed, jumps. “Shit!”

Dean bursts into laughter and doesn’t stop until Sam pulls him in for a firm hug.

“You’re a jerk, do you know that?” Sam huffs. Dean nods and breaks himself free from the hug.

“Totally. Can’t believe you actually made it. It didn’t look too good in Amsterdam after our flight arrived late and the follow-up had already left. It’s stressful.”

“Yeah, tell me about it. Did I tell you about the time I flew here alone?”

Sam rolls his eyes, but the gesture is fond. “About a thousand times. You lost your luggage and missed the plane in Amsterdam.”

“I hate Amsterdam.”

“No, you don’t. You just don’t agree with the airport.”

“Same thing. It took me two weeks to get my clothes here. Do you know what it felt like to spend the first weeks in my new home in Castiel’s clothes?”

“You both loved it. You got to smell like him and he got to see you in his clothes.”

“Sam love me in his clothes, that’s for sure,” Jess says, emerging from the bathroom. Now, it’s not a surprise for Dean that she’s eight months pregnant, but this is the first she sees him live. For some reason, it almost makes him tear up.

“Look at you,” he says and pulls Jess in for a hug. “Can’t believe it’s been a year since we saw each other last.”

“And you couldn’t come up with something on your own?” she laughs in his ear. “Copycat.”

Dean laughs. “Yes. That’s the only reason I’m getting married today. To reel you back to Greece.”

It’s meant to be a joke, but there’s brotherly worry in Sam’s eyes when Dean meets his gaze.

“Stop it,” Dean says, “I’m happy.”

“He sucks a little, though,” Sam says, frowning. “I’m gonna have to talk to him before I give you away.”

“What makes you think that I’m the one who walks down the aisle, and that you’re gonna be the one to give me away?”

“Because you’re a sap, Dean.”

Dean shrugs. “Ain’t gonna argue that one. Still, you’ve got a couple surprises coming.”

“We’re looking forward to it,” Sam smiles. “Now, where can I find your future husband?”

“He spent the night at the house. I… I miss him so much, but apparently, his family considers this an important thing.”

“Oh my god, does Castiel have family?” Jess says and throws her hand over her mouth. “Wow, I’m rude. Sorry.”

“Yes, Castiel has family,” Dean says with a frown. “And you could try and get a hold of him through Balthazar.”

He flips through his contacts and sends Sam the contact info. He’s about to ask their immediate plans; he’s hungry as fuck and needs to distract himself from holy shit I’m getting married today . Damaris finds him before he can open his mouth, though.

“Alright, vacation over,” she says sharply. “I got you some spinach pie from the bistro downstairs, eat it while shaving.”

Sam raises his eyebrows and huffs out a laugh. “You really have grown close.”

“Do you think I’d let her handle the ropes if we hadn’t?”

“Of course not. Still, I can’t believe you robbed me of the chance to be best man.”

“I don’t really have a best man,” Dean squints, “it’s not exactly a traditional wedding. Well, you’ll see. Let’s talk before I get hitched, but before that, I just want you to enjoy Kefalonia.”

If someone had  told Dean he’d happily wear a tunic to his wedding, he wouldn’t have believed them. The minute he’s dressed in a chiton and what quite possibly is jewelry Castiel found in the ocean, his anxiety is overcome by joy. He’s ready to get married to the man he loves, and spend all of eternity with him.

They leave the hotel at noon — Damaris, Sam, Jess, Bela, and Antheia, who sailed here to pick them up. Sailing to their wedding location, a small island just off the coast, is a perfect way to start the ceremony. The day is sunny and a warm breeze ruffles Dean’s hair; he closes his eyes and breathes in the scents of the Mediterranean he can’t get enough of.

It’s weird how things turn out. A year ago, he was watching his brother get married and felt that pang of jealousy mixed with fear of never finding anyone to share his life with. It’s tough to admit but maybe Sam was right, and someone to love was what he was missing in his life. It doesn’t make his past or his issues magically disappear, but it does give him courage to move on instead of wallowing in misery.

After getting ashore, they make the short walk to the place of ceremony; white-clothed tables are already filled with fruits and berries of the season, and there’s enough room for the rest of the food that they decided on together. The plan is to feast until nightfall, and get tipsy and happy with some of the best wine in the country, with string lights as their ceiling.

Damaris picks up Dean’s flower and foliage crown from a table and places it in his head. Dean sees Castiel’s crown still in its place and feels anxious for a second — but there’s nothing to worry about. His beautiful husband will be here in no time. While waiting, he makes sure Damaris still has the rings, and that the common cup of wine is ready to be filled, and that he has both a little lump of sugar and iron in the hidden pocket of his tunic. When Damaris initially had talked about bringing symbols of good luck to the wedding, both Castiel and Dean had deemed it unnecessary; but both had been plagued by nightmares the following night so they quickly changed their minds. Hymenaeus, the god of weddings and feasts, was a fickle one and they didn’t want to challenge him with their obnoxiousness.

Dean is just about to go check the loutrophoros when Balthazar runs up to him with bewilderment written all over his face.

“Listen!” he all but yells. “There’s a catastrophe on the horizon.”

“Shit,” Dean says, crossing his arms to keep himself from falling apart. He knows Castiel won’t bail on him — countless promises whispered against his skin last night a fair reminder of it — but having to cancel a wedding because of a war or a hostage situation is a different thing altogether. “What is it?”

Balthazar yanks him by the arm and takes him to the side of the benches. “We don’t have enough space.”

“Oh?”

“Dad just appeared on the island. He wants to join. There’s at least six other gods with him.”

Dean blinks. “So, that’s seven people who need to be seated. Shit.”

“The whole seven more gods isn’t at all threatening to you?”

“Nah,” Dean shrugs, “it’s not the first time I meet Poseidon. Besides, I did invite them.”

Balthazar huffs. “Of course you did.”

“Castiel was a little sad that I got to meet his dad, but he didn’t. He tried to hide it, but he said in passing it would be nice to have his father here, and I just…”

“And despite the fact that we’ve been trying to get a hold of him for ages, he just instantly said yes?”

“I made him an offer he can’t refuse,” Dean shrugs. “If he comes to the wedding, he gets to see Castiel again. If he skips it, I’m gonna make sure I become an absolute nightmare of a son-in-law.”

Balthazar glares at him. “So, basically, you threatened Poseidon.”

“I want my husband to be happy.”

“Speaking of which,” Balthazar nods towards the back of the garden, and Dean knows he says something else — but at that moment, Dean completely blanks out on everything that isn’t Castiel. He’s smiling at something Charlie says, and Dean feels the intense admiration he felt the first time. It’s probably never going to end, the thought of being in the company of something truly divine, but it’s alright; Castiel feels the same way.

God, he feels the same . It’s surreal, exhilarating, and the best thing ever to have happened.

Their eyes meet, and Dean is drawn in like a magnet. He walks up to his almost-husband and lets himself be pulled in for a hug. Castiel smells like the grove they first kissed in and Dean feels his knees go weak.

“Hello, Dean,” Castiel whispers in his ear, “you look beautiful.”

Dean hums and pulls Castiel tighter against himself. “Can’t believe this.”

“Makes two of us.”

They part reluctantly, and Dean picks up the other flower crown to place it on Castiel’s hair that looks like he blow-dried it on the boat. They both hover forwards for a kiss, but a cough from behind Castiel halts them.

“Good day,” Chuck says, and gives Dean a quick assessing look before turning all of his attention on his son. Castiel wraps his arm around Dean’s waist and holds him close; for support, obviously, but Dean welcomes the touch nonetheless. “Hello, Castiel.”

“Hello, Father,” Castiel says with a frown. “I’m… Surprised.”

“Yes, well, so were we with this one,” Chuck nods towards Dean. “He didn’t take no for an answer, and here we are.”

Dean smiles at Hestia where she’s standing under the trees. She nods with a proud look on her face, and turns to talk to Metatron — who, on the other hand, looks like he’s been chewing lemons since he was born.

“Is this your doing?” Castiel turns to Dean.

“You said you would love to see your father, and I wanted you to have the best day of your life.”

“Well, Castiel has lived long,” Amara says, taking her place next to Chuck. “You’re ambitious, I’ll give you that. But I doubt it’s possible to top every day in his life-”

“Thank you, Athene,” Castiel says. “And, as usual, your cynicism threw you off the mark by a landslide. Dean, I can’t believe you did this. I am truly blessed with you.”

He places a kiss on Dean’s forehead. It’s short, but full of meaning. Dean feels warmth spread in his chest, and it almost scares him to love someone this much.

“Guys,” Charlie says. “Should you get married?”

Dean laughs. “Oh, that’s right. That’s why we’re here.”

“Would you object if I…?” Chuck gestures to their flower crowns. Castiel’s mouth falls open for a second, but he recovers fast.

“You want to tie the ribbon?”

“As a sign of my blessing to you two. Not that you need it, but, you know.”

Castiel looks at Dean before answering. Dean squeezes his hand reassuringly.

“We’d like that very much,” Castiel says. Chuck smiles and claps his hands together, rubs them for a second, and unfolds a shiny, rippling ribbon out of thin air. He steps to his son first, letting the ribbon wrap around the crown; the flowers in it welcoming the touch of water, blossoming ever higher.

“May this ribbon represent the love between you two,” Chuck says, his voice wavering, “transparent, flowing, and as fathomless as the ocean.”

He turns to Dean next, and he feels the cool water travel against his scalp. When Chuck is done, he steps back and looks at both of them.

“Thank you,” Castiel says. “For this, and for coming.”

“We’ll talk more later,” Chuck assures them. “Now, get married.”

They start with a variation of the ancient Greek ceremonial bath; Damaris climbs up to one of the tables and pours holy water on them both from a loutrophoros. It’s hard to keep from kissing Castiel when he’s laughing and his clothes are half-soaked, but Dean manages — he’s going to have this man to himself soon enough. When they’re done, they walk down the makeshift aisle until they reach the arch, completely covered in white and pink roses.

After stressing over who was going to minister their wedding, they decided against it altogether. As much as they love all their friends, this is something meant for only the two of them. They face each other under the arch and as Dean looks at his god, his lover, his beautiful salvation in front of him, he knows they made the right decision.

They fought over who got to start, because whoever talked second would need to manage it through ridiculous amounts of tears. After some very compelling oral arguments, Castiel had given up and let Dean start. Now, he’s almost regretting it; the silence around them is suddenly overwhelming and Dean knows all eyes are on them — and even though everyone is here to support and love them, the audience feels almost suffocating.

Castiel reaches out with his grace — a thing Dean only started to see after becoming a god himself — and wraps it gently around Dean’s chest. The feeling of warmth, never fully gone, gets stronger, almost hot now and Castiel gives Dean a smile. It’s one of his rare full ones and it makes Dean unable to keep the words in for any longer.

“Castiel,” he starts. “I can’t believe you.”

Someone laughs in the audience. Castiel tilts his head slightly.

“I can’t believe you came to me. I can’t believe I met you, and you deemed me interesting enough to keep around. Before you, I was stuck in this place where I considered myself basic, normal, nothing too interesting. Kind of grayed out in the background. And you came to me, and touched those rare things in me that were still me and not just filler material — and it was as if I had awakened from a long sleep. You never stopped doing that. You make me want to be me, because I’m interesting enough as myself; not in things that I achieve, or do, but in who I am.”

He takes a break, because talking is starting to get to him — he swallows against the lump in his throat and blinks so he doesn’t tear up just yet. Castiel looks at him with awe, with the same intensity he’s always looked at him with, like Dean is something important.

“And, uh, it’s obvious that I love you. I love you so much and so soon it frightens me every day — it’s the kind of love I wasn’t expecting to exist outside movies and novels. Sure, I’ve seen love; I’ve seen it with my brother and his wife, and I’ve seen it between friends and random people on the street, but this? This is something different, because it’s mine, and it’s yours, and it’s so personal compared to all those other loves I’ve seen. And I will need your help every day sharing this, because I can’t be buried under this amount of love alone. And if you can promise to do that, to love me the way I love you, I will promise to stay by your side. I will promise to trust your judgement, and support you in the decisions you make. I promise to sail the seven seas with you and meet the rest of your siblings, I will dive to the deep end with you, help preserve the marine life,” he leans closer to whisper in Castiel’s ear because this one is for him alone, “and never stop worshiping you, my god.”

Dean enjoys the shivers running through Castiel at that, and he steps back. Castiel is crying, like Dean low-key hoped he would be, and he takes Dean’s hands to his own. For a while, he just stands there, unable to form words, and strokes Dean’s knuckles with his thumbs.

“Right,” he manages then. “Alright. Okay. Dean, it’s like I prayed for what I wanted and needed the most and they sent me you. Every morning I wake up and I need to check that you’re still there — not because I don’t trust you, but because I can’t believe I am this lucky. You’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen, and not just on the outside; you’re patient, and giving, and kind, and you never stop learning things you don’t understand.

“You know this, but I was lonely until I met you. I’d traveled alone for so many years, and even though I met friends, none of them filled the void I had in my chest — the need to be loved, the need to feel love for someone and that desperate, nerve-wracking feeling of not being able to live without each other. And you came along, and I was so close to giving up and living on an island alone for the rest of my life. And now I get to have this, this love without fear about whether you love me back or not, because I see it in you; I see how you’re glowing when you wake up next to me, and when you travel the islands with me, and when you drink your coffee in the morning. I know it’s because of me, because of us, and I know I make you happy. I promise to never stop doing that. I will always keep trying to make you happy. I will always try to protect you from everything the world dares to try and throw at us, because you deserve nothing less.”

Dean hovers towards Castiel because he needs him, he needs to be closer, he needs to touch him now — but Damaris comes to them with the rings, and after gesturing some of their closest friends to join her, holds them out. Sam, Jess, Bela, Antheia, and Charlie hold their hands over the rings, blessing them silently. Then, Damaris hands the rings to them accordingly so they can place them on each other’s fingers. Dean’s ring, a gold band with intricate carvings and swirls, feels like it’s made for him. It might be true — he never questioned where Castiel got the ring. Himself, he spent an eternity searching for the right ring for Castiel,and finally found it in a second-hand store in Cyprus while waiting for Castiel to sort out what happens to the lot after the villa burned down. It’s also gold, but thicker, and there’s a blue mother of pearl band in the middle of it. It reminds Dean of the Mediterranean undercurrents, and he’s happy to see it fits perfectly on Castiel’s finger and looks good against his tan skin.

And then, fucking finally, they kiss. It’s long, and indulgent, and probably grosses everyone out.

After the feast, Chuck and Castiel step aside to talk about things they’ve missed in each other’s lives during the last centuries. Dean sits at the table, happily munching everything he can reach, and chatting away with Bela and Jess until Sam gestures him to lean forward a bit. Sam lowers his voice, but Dean’s pretty sure at least Jess and Charlie can hear him.

“Uh, I got to admit, Castiel’s family… It’s eccentric.”

Sam nods behind Dean, and Dean turns around to see what’s going on. Currently, Amara is holding her hand over her wine glass with a mortified expression, and Metatron is trying to push his own glass towards a man who Dean hasn’t met before. Said main seems to be the one responsible for whatever’s going on in their cups.He can see how, from Sam’s perspective, it must be a confusing display; but Dean’s pretty sure that it’s Dionysius, and he’s pulling a prank with their wine.

“Yeah, well. I haven’t met all of them yet, but they seem to be a lively bunch.”

“I wonder if you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them in the future,” Sam continues, still intrigued by the display at the next table. “Do they all live in Greece?”

“I don’t know, to be honest,” Dean frowns. “I don’t know the answer to either of your questions.”

Sam falls silent, and Dean can hear the wheels turn in his mind; he won’t be guessing the truth any time soon, but Dean wonders how he’s going to rationalize things. Sam doesn’t know Dean is a god now, and until Dean and Castiel can be absolutely sure it doesn’t cause harm to Sam or anyone else to share the info, it’s going to remain a secret. Dean hates that Sam has to be out of the loop like this, damn it --he never even knew that Dean had died, which, in retrospect, is a blessing -- but it’s what’s best for him. If it was up to Dean or Castiel alone, he would already be told about all the secret Greece holds inside its beautiful, messy borders, but it is what it is now.

And Dean doesn’t even know what the schedule for this is. For a couple of years, everything will stay the same, but if it takes longer for the gods to reach an understanding about how to deal with humans… Dean will have to stop seeing Sam. He won’t be able to understand how Dean — or Castiel, for that matter — will never age, and even though they could probably work around that with some godly shenanigans, it wouldn’t change the fact that from Dean’s perspective, Sam will die of old age tomorrow.

That is, unless he becomes a god. Stranger things have happened recently.

It makes him sad to think of how he now shares Castiel’s fate, and he understands very well how Castiel had times when he never wanted to deal with humans again. Still, it doesn’t mean he’d change things; to him, this is a dream come true. Not only did he find the gods he wanted, he became one as well.It’s absurd, but also exhilarating, and he would’ve wanted this even if he’d never met Castiel.

He looks at his husband who’s still talking with Chuck under an old oak tree, and he feels warm and happy. He’s blessed to have someone along for this journey, and even though Castiel was born a god and has never had to lose a sibling to old age, he’ll know what Dean is going through when the time comes.

Dean feels like a sentimental fool thinking about this now that Sam’s laughing with Jess, both of them at the prime of their lives, a new life about to start under their care soon enough. Dean wants to meet the newbie as soon as possible, and it would be nice to spend a little time in Montana as well. They decided to keep the place even though Dean immediately said he wanted to move to Greece; he’s in love with Castiel’s small house in Kefalonia, and doesn’t miss the cold weather of northern US. Before that, though, he wants to unplug for a couple of weeks and spend every peaceful moment indoors with Castiel.

Sam shakes his head in disbelief; currently, Balthazar is pestering Hestia about something that has to do with fire. Dean idly wonders whether sea and fire gods automatically quarrel — probably not, since Hestia knew about Dean and Castiel and still wanted to burn Dean’s mortality away. Dean hasn’t seen Hestia since that time, and he needs to thank her for everything she’s done. Not now, though, since Castiel makes his way back to them, Chuck trailing behind him.

“Hello, love,” Castiel says and drops a gentle kiss on Dean’s lips that has his head spinning. Shit, they’re going to need to leave soon. “How are you?”

“I miss you,” Dean groans. Sam laughs.

“You sound like Jess and me when we started dating.”

“Excuse me, we’ve been dating for a year,” Castiel huffs. Dean idly wonders if he counts the time from when they first met or when they first kissed. God, he needs to be kissing Castiel now.

“I remember when I was young,” Jess says, making Sam snort so hard he inhales wine. Dean looks at them, smiling warmly. They’ll be good for each other, and no amount of Dean living across the globe changes that.

“You must be Dean’s brother,” Chuck says, offering Sam a hand to shake. “I’m Castiel’s father. Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too,” Sam says. Dean can already see Sam’s next opinion about their eccentricity forming, but then, Castiel’s lips against his ear distract him completely.

“Leave in an hour?”

Dean’s breath catches, and he nods. Castiel straightens up and squeezes his shoulder before leaving to chat with other gods.

Dean will never, ever get used to fucking Castiel as a god. In addition to being able to focus everything he has into single points of contact, tenfolding everything to begin with, there’s the whole thing about grace he never felt before.

They make their way in through their front door somewhat decently; Dean carries Castiel over the threshold, eliciting a happy, surprised laugh from him. After that, all bets are off, as it tends to be with them — Castiel pushes Dean against the nearest wall and kisses him, kisses him again, harder and with intent, and Dean’s knees give but he’s held up by Castiel’s weight completely against him.

“Cas,” Dean whispers between kisses placed on his neck and clavicle. “I need you.”

“Hmm,” Castiel replies and hoists Dean up on his arms. Dean immediately wraps his legs around Castiel and kisses him through the hallway until they’re in the bedroom. Castiel turns them around so he falls first, and Dean adjusts himself so he’s straddling him. He’s way past any moderation or dignity, and he grinds against Castiel’s quickly hardening cock with a moan.

“Dean,” Castiel says, his voice already strained. “Please—”

“Got you,” Dean says and lifts himself enough to slide Castiel’s tunic up his beautiful skin and over his head. He rids himself of clothes as well, and although he would love to tease Castiel a bit, there’ll be time for that later. Now, he removes Castiel’s boxers and takes his dick in his mouth. He moans around the feel of it, sucks around the head before rolling his tongue on the underside —

“Dean!” Castiel huffs again, and Dean stops for a second, still keeping the glans between his lips. Castiel looks down at him and his cock jumps at the sight he’s beholding, which in no small amounts makes Dean pleased. “Turn around. I want to open you up.”

Dean lifts his eyebrows but obliges, frustrated at the couple second loss of Castiel’s dick against his tongue. The payoff is good, though — in addition to Castiel’s lubed finger, a certainly welcome intrusion against his hole, Castiel sucks his cock into his mouth and moans. Dean’s eyes roll involuntarily and he stutters for a second before regaining his composure and taking Castiel’s cock, all of it, in his mouth. The feeling of being opened from pretty much both ends feels filthy, and gorgeous, and quite possibly like one of Dean’s new favorite things.

By the time Castiel’s shaking and breathing loudly and pretty much yelling from bliss, he’s got two fingers inside Dean, and it’s enough, it has to be right now, because Dean can’t wait any longer. He turns around again, placing his hands on Castiel’s chest and slowly lowering himself on Castiel’s cock. Because he’s less opened than usually, it takes him a while to adjust, but when they’re flush against each other and he can feel Castiel throbbing inside of him, it’s worth every second. He starts a slow grind, moving his hips back and forth because he needs Castiel this close, not an inch further. He lowers himself to kiss Castiel’s mouth and jaw, and Castiel takes the opportunity to start pushing up. The head of his cock hits Dean’s prostate and he yells, he needs this, he needs more, he feels he’s breaking from the inside and still nowhere close enough—

And that’s when the grace comes in. Castiel reaches out with it, caressing Dean’s soul, and it feels like more in every cell of his body; more desire, more touch, more ecstasy. It feels like unity in a way Dean has never been able to feel with anyone else, grace joining soul, the two of them becoming one; Dean trembles under Castiel’s touch and tries to give back what he can, and judging by the way Castiel sounds, and by the way he feels inside Dean… He’s doing a good job.

When Dean’s thighs start to cramp from all the shaking, Castiel effortlessly turns them around and starts fucking him in earnest; he moves fast, hitting Dean’s prostate with every thrust, and holding Dean so close his cock is trapped between their stomachs and the friction is too much, way too much, and his orgasm builds fast and is intensified by being completely enveloped in Castiel’s grace, and for a second he’s not sure whose feelings are going through him because the pleasure he feels is both his and Castiel’s — but it’s over fast, because then he’s coming thick and hot between them, shamelessly pushing against Castiel the best he can until Castiel’s coming too, Dean’s clenching muscles milking him dry.

After managing to somewhat clean them up, Dean falls on his back. Castiel instantly wraps his arms around him and kisses his temple, his cheek and his mouth, throwing his leg possessively over Dean’s.

“I love you,” he whispers. “Never leave this bed.”

Dean laughs. “Was about to ask you the same.”

“You think they’re mad at us for leaving before the guests?”

“I think they always knew we’d do exactly that.”

Castiel hums. “I think we chose our friends well, in that case. Now, rest. I’ll get up in a while and make us dinner, but if you think we’re done for tonight, you’re mistaken. Just so you know.”

“I was counting on that,” Dean says and turns so he can tuck his head under Castiel’s neck and inhale the scent of his skin. “I love you too.”