This life Dean has now, he never would’ve been able to imagine it.
They still hunt, of course. But now they have a network of experienced hunters at their fingertips. Instead of hightailing it to South Carolina to track down what might be a wraith, they can make a few phone calls and let another team in the area handle it. Sam, Dean, and Cas usually volunteer for anything within a hundred miles, so there’s still a lot of time on the road, but Dean finds that it’s different when you have a home to go back to. There’s downtime, usually a week or so in between cases, so Dean can watch TV, cook homemade meals, reread Vonnegut novels, listen to records in his room, touch up chipped paint on the Impala. It’s just the right amount of normal, a halfway point he never knew existed.
Sam spends most of his free time in the bunker’s library and archives, helping other hunters via phone and email with research on particularly difficult cases. He’s revamped the Men of Letters index system, and needs only consult a massive spreadsheet to find cross-referenced material for any given question a hunter might have. As an older brother, Dean really wants to be embarrassed by this level of nerdiness, but he’s mostly impressed. Besides, it seems to be fulfilling for Sam in a way that hunting itself never was.
And there’s Cas. He’s not a powered-up angel anymore, but he’s not fully human either. He still wears his holy tax accountant outfit most of the time, except to sleep, which he’s been doing more and more for the past year. At first, the sleeping was incredibly concerning to Dean, but Cas assured him that he wasn’t sick – his grace had just dimmed slightly from being on earth for so many years. “I’ve been away from heaven for a long time,” Cas said. “If I returned, maybe my grace would regenerate, but that could take years. Maybe longer. And I would much rather stay here with you.”
Dean still can’t pinpoint exactly when everything shifted into place between them. There wasn’t really a specific moment. It had been happening for a long time.
He feels a little guilty sometimes. For millions of years Cas was an angel, and Dean doesn’t want to be the reason for the loss of that identity. There are certain things about Cas that are the same – he’s philosophical, caring, protective, moody, and stubborn as ever. But now that they’re not busy saving the world every other day, Cas has time to build a more human identity for himself, complete with finer details, and Dean gets to witness it all.
Cas still doesn’t need to eat, but he’s decided he likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, neapolitan ice cream, and sushi. He’ll try almost anything, though, and seems content to pick off Dean’s plate, even when it’s the same old bacon cheeseburger and fries. He’ll happily listen to any music Dean recommends, and seems to somewhat enjoy Physical Graffiti, but when left to his own devices he has far mellower taste. For Christmas last year, Dean bought him a few cassette tapes of artists he seemed to like – Don McLean, John Denver, Simon and Garfunkel. It’s not stuff that Dean would listen to on his own, but he often lets Cas choose the music in the Impala, much to Sam’s indignation.
Dean has learned other things about Cas, too.
Cas likes to sleep naked. He usually ends up curled around Dean, with their legs tangled together. He talks in his sleep, and some nights Dean wakes to hot breath on his neck and the low hum of Cas’ voice as he murmurs something unintelligible. Before they shared the room, Dean slept with a wool blanket, but Cas runs hot, and their combined body heat has rendered blankets unnecessary for most of the year.
When they have no plans for the day, Cas likes to keep him in bed as long as possible, and isn’t afraid to tempt Dean with a nip to his earlobe or a slow, lazy grind against his ass. Not that he needs much tempting. Dean can’t help feeling mortified at the needy sounds Cas can pull from him, the sighs and gasps and moans. But in these moments Cas always looks at him with an expression of untempered devotion, and under his hands Dean has learned to let go.
One of the earlier times, Cas was so tender with him that Dean actually cried. It was the cascade of praise whispered directly into his ear – You feel so good. Dean. Beloved. – combined with the overwhelming realization that Cas meant it, all of it. These words weren’t manufactured for the moment. They were sincere on a scale that Dean had never experienced, and his soul seemed to cave in under their weight. Cas, of course, paused to ask if he was okay. Dean just kissed him, hard, and that must have been answer enough for Cas, because he resumed the gentle rocking of his hips and kissed him back.
Sometimes it’s like that – careful, sappy. Sometimes it’s rough, Cas riding Dean hard with a hand around his throat, just on the verge of too much pressure, an almost feral growl, white knuckles and the harsh scrape of teeth. Dean isn’t afraid, even when Cas pins his wrists above his head, even when the lamp on the nightstand flickers and pops from a surge of residual grace. Considering all the horrific violence in his daily life, and all the people he’s hurt, Dean never expected to enjoy this kind of sex. But with Cas it feels right. It feels right to leave marks on each other out of love rather than rage.
As mind blowing as the sex is, it’s not even Dean’s favorite part. It’s the quieter moments that really get him, like putting his arm around Cas when they’re watching movies on the couch, or the warm, amused look on Cas’ face when Dean inadvertently lets a pet name slip (Be careful, babe). It’s the easy confidence with which Cas takes his hand, even when Sam is watching (Dean’s working on getting used to that part). Or the way Cas recounts his dreams, no matter how mundane, over coffee in the morning, ever fascinated by the complexity of his now part-human subconscious. It’s the methodical press of Cas’ hands against Dean’s sore shoulders after a strenuous hunt, and the obvious fondness in the way Cas rolls his eyes at Dean’s jokes.
It’s the unreserved smiles they exchange from across a room – now they have no reason to look away.