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Transcending The Century

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Dean does not like travelling through time.

 

In fact, outside of witches, his brother getting hurt, and Cas making stupid, yet selfless decisions, time travel is one of his least favorite things; it's definitely his least favorite form of transportation. He hasn't liked it since it first happened to him before the first apocalypse, and he doesn't like it now.

 

For the swirl of nausea in his stomach, the pinch-tightness of his skin, and the throb behind his eyes, Isham will pay.

 

Well, Isham has plenty to answer for, but that's all Dean has claim to, so that's what he bitches about while Sam and Cas try to figure out when they are. Sam is doing most of the work, even without his useless phone, but Cas appears to be trying to help while healing himself at the same time. Dean does what makes him feel better in this bitch of a situation; he kicks a tree stump and curses Isham up and down for everything he can think of.

 

“I think we're way back in the past,” Sam announces with a quiet resigned tone that suggests he has solid proof but doesn't want to admit it.

 

“How d’you know?” Dean mutters, fiddling with his gun, eyes tracking the way Cas’ body sways.

 

Sam sighs heavily. “Look at the trail.”

 

Dean glances away from Cas, frowning at the dirt road they'd been thrown a few feet from. It takes him a few moments to see the horseshoe imprints and thick indention of wagon wheels in the dirt. The sight makes his stomach curl, makes him miss Baby with his whole being, makes him want to punch Isham's stupid, smug face in.

 

“That's telling,” Cas grunts, narrowing his eyes as he glares at the dirt.

 

“Got an idea?” Dean asks, standing up from where he'd settled on the stump.

 

Cas shrugs, then winces. “One, but I don't like it.”

 

“You alright, Cas?” Sam murmurs, always observant, seeing Cas’ pain easily.

 

But Dean really doesn't give a shit about that right now. He remembers how Cas had spoke of Benjamin; he remembers the easy familiarity between Isham and Cas. Dean can't get the image of Isham sneering at Cas for associating with them out of his head. All the rebuttals Cas has given him throughout this whole case has only managed to piss Dean off further. This is the last straw.

 

“Well, are you going to fucking tell us, or is this something else you'll keep to yourself?” Dean snaps, moving forward to yank Cas by the shoulder, turning him so they can glare at each other face to face.

 

“Don't be an ass, Dean,” Cas retorts sharply, drawing in a rough breath. “I believe we are in the early 1900s, back before Lily ever lost her daughter.”

 

Sam sighs heavily. “Isham is going to try and change what happened?”

 

“Seems so.”

 

“Where are we?” Dean mutters, crossing his arms and glaring at Cas.

 

Cas glares right back. “I'm fairly certain we are about a mile from her home. If we were to follow this road, we'd be able to reach both Isham and the Lily from our time. We can't let them change anything.”

 

“How are we going to get back?” Sam asks.

 

“We'll have to make Isham return us.”

 

“And if he doesn't?”

 

“Oh, he will,” Cas confirms, eyes narrowing into dangerous slits.

 

The look makes Dean's skin itch with warmth. Goosebumps skitter across his arms, and his short arm hair raises up in attention. There's a mixture of caution and yearning within him at Cas’ easy display of power; he's felt this since the moment Cas walked into a barn and declared himself an Angel of the Lord. He does not examine this feeling… ever.

 

Dean's whole body jolts when Cas suddenly releases a rattling cough, a hand coming up to clutch at his chest as he nearly folds in half. Sam is closer, so he reaches him first, hands holding him up and keeping him from falling. Dean moves over too, resentment and jealousy long forgotten as blood passes Cas’ lips, coating the green grass darkly.

 

“Cas, what's wrong? What's happening? No, stop hitting your chest; you're not helping,” Dean says, reaching out to hold Cas up, waving Sam back for a moment; they both can't crowd him.

 

Cas looks up at him, blue eyes wide and bright, pretty pink lips coated with dark blood, face a picture of shock. “I'm dying,” he says softly, tone in awe like he's just discovered a miracle.

 

This is the farthest thing from a miracle Dean has ever heard in his entire fucking life.

 

“What, no,” Sam exhales, shifting anxiously at Cas’ other side, hands reaching out like he can shove the words away and make them disappear.

 

Dean does not say anything for a long moment. He shifts until he's moved in front of Cas, holding him by the shoulders to keep him from swaying and stumbling. He stares at Cas, trying to see the extent of his injuries. A trail of blood has started to slowly leak down his nose, and his ears are suffering the same fate. Dean mindlessly wipes the blood away with his thumb, thinking vaguely that if it's not there, it never happened; he ignores the pink stain below his nose. Cas stares up at him, waiting.

 

Finally, Dean says, “Why?”

 

“My vessel does not exist at this time. Jimmy Novak is not born until much later; his body cannot sustain me here, not with as weak as I am.”

 

“So, you'll die here? Because of Isham? Because we can't get you back home?”

 

“Yes,” Cas answers, words as casual as if commenting on the weather.

 

“This is bullshit.” Dean grips Cas’ shoulders tight and shakes him slightly. “Listen to me, we're going to find Isham, and we are going to get you home, okay?”

 

Cas shakes his head. “No,” he murmurs sadly.

 

“What, why not?” Sam blurts, affronted.

 

“I will be dead in approximately two minutes. Or rather, my vessel will be.”

 

Sam blinks and straightens up. “Wait, your vessel? Cas, what happens to you if you burn out your vessel? Won't you just… go to Heaven? Or, I dunno, go back to your own time?”

 

“I will be a force of energy without a conduit. I will have to return to Heaven, where I will most likely be imprisoned or sentenced to death for messing up timelines. It is a very punishable offence, and I don't recall another me ever being imprisoned for such a thing,” Cas explains, coughing up more blood immediately after, swaying closer to Dean.

 

Sam sags again, idea squashed.

 

Dean murmurs, “How long?”

 

“One minute and forty-seven seconds,” Cas informs him tersely. “Forty-five now, forty-three, thirty-”

 

“Okay, we fucking get it,” Dean barks, flinching when Cas frowns at him and blood starts seeping out of his nose again. “I'm sorry, that's not- look, we can fix this, right? Just tell us what to do.”

 

“Find Isham and the Lily from our timeline; get them home at all costs. Do not, under any circumstances, allow them to change anything.”

 

“Yeah, that's fantastic, but I'm kinda talking about you here, Cas. How can we save you?”

 

Cas has that guilty expression again, the one Dean hates. He looked like that after he tried to become God; he looked like that in Purgatory; he looks exactly like this every single time he's aware that he and Dean are going to be apart for any long amount of time - from death or otherwise. Dean absolutely despises that look, and he wants to reach out and punch it off Cas’ face. He knows he's just preemptively angry for what's to come, but he's not ready to deal with this again, not after everything, not after all this shit they've been through.

 

“Dean, I'm sorry,” Cas whispers.

 

Dean swallows through a thick throat, heart racing in his chest. “How long?” he demands roughly.

 

Cas sucks in a rattling breath. “Fifty-eight seconds.”

 

Fifty-eight seconds is not nearly enough time to fix anything, or even say goodbye. Hell, fifty-eight seconds isn't good for shit. Fifty-eight seconds is now his mortal enemy, and every number below it will haunt his nightmares. Fifty-eight seconds is not enough, but no time ever is when things like this happen to the people he cares about.

 

Sam shifts some more, a sharp inhale of disbelief and despair that pulls Dean out of his moment of utter numb stillness. The time they have is dwindling, they all know it, and it's so unbelievably not fair that Dean wants to stab his own eyeballs out, or Isham's preferably. Cas has seemed to accept his fate, because he wobbles out of Dean's grip and stumbles into Sam's arms, giving a crooked smile that seems to be only reserved for Sam. The embrace lasts for only a few seconds, but Dean's thinks of seconds as precious commodities now.

 

Cas stumbles back over to Dean, clearly about to fall into his arms and just fucking die, because that's just the kind of tragedy Dean needs in his life right now. Sarcasm is a shitty defence mechanism in times like these, he thinks a bit dazedly.

 

Suddenly, there's a weight in his arms as he counts down in his head. And there is forty-six seconds left now, probably less because he's been counting super slowly. Multiple things fly through his mind to say, jokes or refusals or confessions, but none of it feels good enough.

 

Dean swallows at tries anyway. “I don't care if we're not as awesome as angels, Cas; you're our fucking family, mud-monkeys or not, and you can't get rid of us, no matter what.” Cas opens his mouth to say something, but Dean interrupts with a whispered, “How much longer we got?”

 

Cas wraps his arms around Dean's neck and hums against his cheek. “Twenty-seven seconds,” he says conversationally. “And you and Sam have never just been mud-monkeys to me; you're my family too, my home. Angel is my occupation, you are my home.”

 

“Okay, okay,” Dean breaths, eyes closing as he grips Cas’ lower back with his hands, “we might just be meatsuits, or vessels, or a blimp in time, but fuck, Cas… we feel, and we care, and we are so goddamn emotional that it's stupid we even exist. I hate you so much for all these times you keep doing this. So help me god, if you don't come back, I will fucking find you myself and beat the everloving shit outta you. Just come back, Cas, like you always do. Because we have a lot all the time, but we never stop caring or needing you. So, just… come back.”

 

“I will try,” Cas promises, but it sounds like a musical note never played, just written. Before Dean can call him out, he says, “For the record, I believe humans to be my father's greatest creation, and you being amongst humanity - a perfect representation, if you will - makes my statement hold more merit.”

 

That sounds like ‘you're my favorite’ and Dean thinks he might throw up if he examines that too closely.

 

Dean takes a deep breath, eyes still closed. “How long we got?” he asks again, like touching a flame over and over to see if it has gotten any hotter.

 

“Sixteen seconds,” Cas croaks.

 

The numbers dance in his brain, and they are scalding him from the inside out. He feels like he's swallowing ash, an omnipresent bitterness choking him. He doesn't want to be apart of this, doesn't want to see it, doesn't want to know. He pushes Cas back with all intentions of leaving, of spending Cas’ last seconds alone like a fucking coward; instead, he pauses and leans forward, pressing a kiss to Cas’ forehead, a mindless gesture of comfort.

 

Cas hums, closing his eyes, smiling slightly. He looks accepting, like this is finally enough for him. Dean wants him to fight, wants him to have a reason, wants there to be a different kind of fire burning within him, one burning with hope. Dean keeps his lips to Cas’ forehead and counts down in his mind.

 

Nine.

 

Eight.

 

Seven.

 

“Wait!” Sam yells suddenly.

 

Dean wrenches back from Cas so quickly that he nearly stumbles and falls to the ground. Cas frowns at Sam, apparently annoyed that his forehead kiss was interrupted without follow-up. Dean doesn't know whether to be annoyed as well or just shrivel up like a raisin from shame and embarrassment.

 

“Yes?” Cas asks slowly.

 

Sam claps his hands together excitedly, eyes wide with delight and hope. “You've got a vessel in this time as well, don't you?”

 

Cas stares at him for a moment, then speaks in a flat tone. “I'm an idiot. Give me one second. I-”

 

Whatever else he's going to say cuts off as his body crumbles to the ground, landing with a dull thump. Sam blinks rapidly in surprise, and Dean faintly thinks ‘zero’ and tries not to choke around the abrupt lump in his throat. They stand there for a long time, seconds and seconds toppling over one another as they gaze at Cas’ still, lifeless body.

 

“I dunno if he has a new vessel or if he's…”

 

Dean straightens up, clenching his jaw, rolling his shoulders firmly. “Don't. Just… don't. Come on, we've got to go find Isham and Lily.”

 

“What, that's it? What if-”

 

“Sam. No. Come on.”

 

Sam gapes at him. “But Dean.”

 

“No,” Dean hisses, whirling on him and slicing his hand through the air. “I don't want to talk about it, or have false hope, or anything. We're going to do what Cas wanted us to do, and then… we're going home. No more, no less.”

 

“What about his body?”

 

Right, that. Dean flicks a quick glance at Cas’ body on the ground. His eyes are open, mouth slack, blood already drying. Without Cas behind them, the eyes do not appear as blue as usual. He looks back at Sam, clearing his throat.

 

“We'll come back once we get Isham and Lily; we can take him home, give him a hunter's funeral.”

 

All of this is said very casually, as calm and collected as can be. Dean starts walking, ignoring the feeling of guilt as he takes more steps away from a body he knows as family. Sam falls into step beside him, hands stuffed in his pocket, head ducked, eyes sad.

 

They walk in silence, and Dean can already feel his mind slowly going blank.

 

It's always different - how he feels when something happens to them. With Sam, his mind races with loopholes and half-cocked plans, and he never slows down to accept anything. With Cas, his mind empties altogether, body turning to autopilot to run him as acceptance takes over and drowns him immediately. Not accepting Cas’ death would drive him insane; it happens way too often. But handling it and accepting it are two very different things.

 

Dean never really handles it.

 

He supposes it makes sense. Cas is his best friend. They've known each other for years; they have faced many things side by side. Outside of Sam, there is no one who matters more than Cas. A profound bond, Cas had called it once, and years later, Dean has to admit that it is really fucking profound.

 

There is also the tiny matter of Dean being in love with Cas, which is not as big of a deal as he thought it was originally. Being in love with Cas hasn't changed the fact that they are best friends above all else. Dean can want Cas until hell freezes over, but their friendship comes first. Short of Cas growing boobs and seducing him, Dean has handled all the things that come with the love very well.

 

His thoughts are interrupted by a clambering of hoofs pounding the dirt in the unmistakable sound of a horse galloping behind them. Sam and Dean share a panicked look; they haven't thought to consider what would happen if someone from the early 1900s sees them. They have to look strange with what they're wearing, and the way they speak will be even weirder.

 

Before they can figure out a plan with their gazes alone, a horse careens down the road towards them. A woman riding side-saddle looks as if she's seconds from falling off the overeager horse, but she manages to pull them to a stop a few feet away with minor issues. They watch her slide off, long blue coat lifting with the wind for a moment to reveal a white skirt. Her dark hair is curled perfectly out her face, a small blue hat atop her head. The horse immediately wanders off as she approaches Sam and Dean, but she doesn't seem to care.

 

Dean stares at her, frowning slightly. He has no idea what the fuck he's going to say to this woman. She can't be here, not today, even if she's some random friend of Lily's. On top of that, he doesn't know how to explain their clothes or weapons or anything.

 

He opens his mouth to cut off any of her questions, but she lifts her eyes to his, and the words freeze in his throat. He looks into her eyes and suddenly realizes that she's beautiful. There is something familiar about her gaze, and the curl to her lips feels like an inside joke he should understand. And her eyes are perfect in the way only one other's pair of eyes are capable. Blue, endless, and his.

 

“Cas?” Dean breathes, stepping closer without thinking, careless to Sam's hand on his arm.

 

The woman tilts her head. “What gave me away?”

 

“Cas!” Sam echoes in surprise.

 

“Yes,” he confirms, lifting his arms out and gazing down at his coat. “This is Florence Waughtry, a lovely widow who lost her husband to a war. She accepted me almost immediately.”

 

Dean couldn't give a fuck less. “You sure got a thing for dark hair and blue eyes, huh?”

 

Cas blinks. “If I was allowed a preference, I'd say I'm more inclined to enjoy dirty blonde, or sandy brown, paired with green eyes,” he announces seriously, not teasing in the least.

 

“Oh my god,” Dean mutters, eyes bulging.

 

Cas literally grew boobs and is now fucking seducing me, he thinks in delirious bemusement.

 

Funnily enough, he thinks he prefers Cas as a man.

 

“We need to go find Isham and Lily,” Sam reminds them, coughing pointedly.

 

“Right,” Dean agrees, slowly backing away, keeping Cas in his sights at all times, “yeah. That's a thing that we should be doing. Definitely.”

 

Sam scoffs. “Oh, come on, Dean, don't be a fucking jerk. Just cause he's a girl for the moment does not mean whatever you're thinking in your mind right now, so stop being gross.”

 

What Dean is thinking of currently is making his brain hurt. Cas in both bodies laid up beside him, touching, looking with those blue eyes, lips curled into that small pleased smirk. Dean is also wading on waves of relief that crash over him randomly to remind him that Cas is very much alive. He is here and okay, woman-shaped, but alive. And yet, Dean is having so many confusing visuals that he honestly doesn't know if he counts as a human being anymore.

 

Sam glares at him.

 

Cas reaches back to pull the pin holding his hair in the perfect bun away, letting his long hair fall into messy waves cascading darkly over his blue coat. Dean's mouth goes dry as Cas reaches up to adjust his small hat, coat tightening around his curves at his waist. Faintly, Dean thinks he deserves to be shot.

 

“When we locate Isham, we will have to restrain him and force him to return us home. Fortunately, Lily kept holy oil in her shed; Sam will go grab that while we handle Isham and Lily,” Cas tells them, hiking his skirt up and picking up his pace.

 

“You really think Lily will be an issue?” Sam asks, frowning at Cas in confusion.

 

Cas frowns back, soft features hardening in the somberness of his expression. “Her daughter is still alive here; I can assure you… she will be a problem.”

 

“We can't save her?” Dean blurts out, mind clutching at the one normal thing.

 

“Unfortunately, we cannot,” Cas murmurs sadly, small hands clasped together tightly. “While I want nothing more, we can't allow anything to be changed. Even something as small as this can change the lives of countless in the future. It is unfair, I know, but it is how it must be.”

 

Dean is suddenly reminded of the time he had to be Death for a day. There is a natural order to things; the order is often unfair, but fucking with it has it's consequences. Dean knows this firsthand.

 

“We got it,” Dean answers gruffly.

 

Cas smiles up at him thankfully, and Dean feels a knot of pleasure unfurl in his chest, warming him. This body is much softer than the one Cas has made his own, curves replacing firmness, a sway to his hips replacing a sturdy stride, delicate features replacing strong ones. But the similarities is what's killing Dean. The eyes are the same, bright with an energy that belongs only to Cas. The ramrod straightness of his spine when he's determined has not changed. And what transcends any body is the way he stares at Dean, like they're always about to trade a secret, like Dean is the most important thing in the universe, like there isn't a thing that can express what they hold between them.

 

Dean is thinking very naughty thoughts about Cas, about the body he's in for a moment, about the body that he belongs to, and Cas arches an eyebrow like maybe he knows. Dean very firmly looks away, trying his hardest not to look back, failing almost immediately. Cas continues to smile.

 

Fortunately, there is a big ass fight waiting for them at Lily's cabin, and Dean doesn't have to think too hard about it. Sam slinkers off to handle the holy oil, Cas throws a few biting words at Isham that makes Dean smirk in pride, and Dean has to forcefully shove Lily off the porch.

 

It goes to shit quickly after that.

 

Lily is badass, Dean can admit. She's quick and has years of fighting under her belt. Dean is doing all he can not to be knocked flat on his ass, barely managing to get a hit in. Just when he thinks he will get clipped over the head, Cas whirls by, looking as if he floats beside Lily, and smacks the shit out of her before immediately turning back to his fight with Isham.

 

Dean and Lily gape after him in equal amounts of shock and disbelief. Thankfully, Dean recovers before Lily does and manages to clip the enochian-etched handcuffs on her wrists, laughing right into her outraged face.

 

After that, he gets to watch Cas in all his glory. He's always thought Cas was a powerful fighter, strong and tactile, striking without regret. Him wearing a skirt and having a vagina clearly hasn't changed that in the least. Cas is just as graceful now as he is in his own body, handling each move like it's the finishing blow. Eventually, that appears to be true because Isham goes down to his knees with an angel blade at his throat, kneeling before Cas with his hands raised in surrender, face betraying just how pissed he is about that.

 

Cas looks… good. That's all Dean can think. The right side of his skirt is bunched up near his thigh from where he'd kicked Isham over and over. His face is alight with victory, no smile in sight, just stony with triumph, a glint in his eye. His chest rises slowly, falling on mocking hums. He looks so goddamn pleased with himself, but like he expected no less.

 

Dean doesn't know whether he wants to kiss the smugness away or take a picture to enjoy it in length.

 

Sam turns the corner, waving a hand. “Got it here. Come on,” he says with a sigh.

 

Dean and Cas lead Lily and Isham to a small field past the break of the woods. There's a neighboring cabin right beside it, but it's clearly not being used by anyone. Sam gestures towards a spot in the field, lips twitching in the way they do when he's particularly proud of something.

 

Dean narrows his eyes, but shoves Lily where Sam points him to. Cas does as well, tying them together with coarse rope, nimble fingers flying easily. Dean averts his eyes readily, heart racing like a fucking traitorous hummingbird in his chest. He focuses on Sam instead, watching him lean down to light the fire after Cas steps away.

 

His brother is a fucking genius, because he lights one ring before shuffling back a few steps to light another, then another. Three rings circle them, each one bigger than the last, and Dean laughs in awe, clapping him on the shoulder.

 

“That's some fucking ingenuity,” Dean praises.

 

Sam grins. “Yeah, I figured some reinforcement wouldn't hurt. Besides, I know Cas said the holy oil would affect Lily too, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. So, what now?”

 

“Me and Cas will convince Isham to send us back while you go get Cas’ body back,” Dean says.

 

“Why do I have to go get his body?”

 

“You're legs are longer; you'll get there and back quicker than anyone else.”

 

“It could take me over half an hour because I'll be hauling a limp body all the way back.”

 

“Find the horse.”

 

“What, no, I'm not stealing Florence's horse to haul her angel's empty vessel around.”

 

“Pretty sure she doesn't care.”

 

“You're an ass,” Sam decides, rolling his eyes as he starts towards the road.

 

Dean chuckles. “Yeah, I've been told.”

 

Sam heads off in the direction of an empty body, and Cas walks away from where he was talking to Isham and Lily. They are on ground now, heads slumped, eyes closed. Cas walks up to Dean, back to being brilliantly pleased with himself.

 

“Well?”

 

“Isham will take us home,” Cas assures him.

 

Dean blinks. “What, seriously?”

 

“Yes,” Cas confirms, “I simply told him I'd allow him a genuine start to get away before Lily could reach him. He has agreed to my terms.”

 

“Oh, so you're going to let him go after everything he's done?” Dean mutters, wrinkling his nose.

 

Cas arches an eyebrow. “No, I'm not. An angel, I may be, an honest one, I am not. He will be given to Lily to be done with as she sees fit.”

 

“Fuck,” Dean breathes, staring at him with wide eyes, probably looking like a devoted understudy.

 

“Come to the cabin with me? They're knocked out for at least an hour,” Cas murmurs, lips twitching.

 

Dean thinks being alone with Cas in an empty cabin is a very bad idea, but his mouth jumps the gun before he can stop it. “Sure,” he says, voice steady.

 

Cas leads him to the cabin, opening the rickety door and gliding inside. Dean follows slowly, starting when the door slams shut behind him loudly. Swallowing thickly, he follows Cas into the dining room, trying with all his might not to be wary.

 

This is Cas - his best friend and angel. Nothing is going to happen; Cas wouldn't do anything, and Dean certainly isn't going to start shit, so they're going to stay exactly as they are.

 

This is exactly what he's thinking, that nothing is going to happen, when Cas suddenly whirls around towards him. His hair is wavy and thick under his hat, his eyes are bright and imploring, and his hands are slowly crawling down the slope of his hips. Dean watches his fingers slide down his skirt, inch by inch; Dean's mouth is dry, heart jumping when the hands stop about mid thigh. The fingers suddenly curl in, bunching the skirt and yanking it higher.

 

Dean swallows.

 

No, no, nope. This is so very bad in every single fucking way possible.

 

It's like watching an explosion, except infinitely better. The skirt slowly rises, and with every increment, Dean feels more air squeeze from his lungs. When he can see thighs, soft and pale with rosy undertones, Dean feels the front of his jeans strain against his insistent dick, and this is so very bad, what the fuck.

 

Vaguely, Dean thinks about Cas’ actual thighs; tanned and toned, they would feel good under his tongue, just like these might.

 

Jesus fucking Christ, stop thinking with your dick, you piece of shit, he scolds himself.

 

Then, there is no more leg to show, and Dean thinks he will get to breathe again. Before he can get his thoughts in order, Cas suddenly leans back on one hand and smoothly hikes himself on the table, knees spreading open. Dean barely has time to realize that Cas isn't wearing underwear before there is a small, yet strong hand fisting in his shirt.

 

“Wait, what,” Dean blurts, the only thing he can articulate between all the thoughts in his mind.

 

Cas doesn't yank him closer, but his fingers tighten in his shirt pointedly. “Florence Waughtry is not here.”

 

Dean is not thinking clearly. “Where is she?” he asks, blinking slowly, palms itching.

 

“She is visiting her husband in Heaven.”

 

“Wait, are you for real?”

 

“Yes,” Cas murmurs, tilting his head at him, eyes narrowing, “that has been our agreement every time I take her as a vessel. She tells me the body is mine to use for as long as I need, and that I may do whatever I'd like with it, so long as she gets to visit with her husband. She would like to stay with him, but she knows it's not her time.”

 

“That's… good,” Dean croaks, “I think?”

 

Cas nods. “Indeed it is. Do you want to know what she told me when I asked what she missed the most about her husband?”

 

The way he asks tells Dean that he really wants to know, but shouldn't ask. “What?” he asks anyway.

 

“The sex,” Cas tells him, gaze not wavering for a second. “She said she can cuddle her pillow, talk with her friends, but she cannot have intimacy with anyone else. Do you want to know what she tells me every time I take her body as my own?”

 

Dean really doesn't want to ask, but fuck, the way Cas is staring at him makes him want to know so badly. “Yeah, I do,” he admits in a croak.

 

“She tells me the same thing before I escort her to Heaven. I'm going to find release, Castiel; you're always wound so tight, you should too. Go ahead, take me out for a spin. She always laughs when I tell her I won't, but this time, when I told her I'd consider it, she encouraged me to do so,” Cas explains, voice soft and even, never changing in volume.

 

Dean is pretty sure that he's being bewitched or some shit, because he feels like he can't move. Cas just continues to stare up at him, blue eyes so deep and ethereal. His hand is still gripping Dean's shirt, the option still there. Dean has no idea what to say about any of this, and he does his absolute best to ignore all the things his dick wants to do.

 

“Florence sounds nice,” is what he settles for.

 

Cas hums. “She gives amazing advice. I think, for once, I will be taking it.”

 

Dean breathes carefully, chokes out, “We shouldn't, Cas. We really shouldn't…”

 

“It's okay,” Cas tells him easily. He motions with his free hand to his borrowed body. “It's just this once.”

 

Dean stops to consider this. It's not about them, it's about Cas wanting to blow off some steam. Just this once implies that Cas wants no more after this. This kind of opportunity doesn't come around very often for Dean; this is actually the first time he has had the chance to fuck someone he was actively in love with. Lisa, Cassie… he loved them, but sex with them had never been connected to being in love with them.

 

This is fundamentally different in so many ways.

 

But can he pass this up?

 

“Is this what you want?” Dean murmurs, because the answer will make up his mind for him.

 

“I've never had sex like this, never planned to, never wanted to before,” Cas admits, shrugging his shoulders, making his hair ripple around his neck teasingly. “But I find myself… interested. Things have changed for me, and I will not miss this opportunity.”

 

Right, that's exactly what Dean was thinking.

 

Practically a sign - if those even exist.

 

Dean clears his throat. “Okay,” he agrees.

 

The reaction is immediate. Cas tightens his hand in Dean's shirt again, yanks them together, and leans up to press his lips into Dean's. And yeah, that's- that's fucking something, isn't it?

 

Dean's not a hundred percent sure how it happens, but suddenly they're kissing. Not just lips pressed firmly together, no, they're actually full-on kissing. It's actually a bit forceful, but in the hottest way possible. Dean is so confused by just how turned on his is in this moment, hands clenching the soft humps of Cas’ hips, trying to lean into Cas’ hands on his face and the kiss all at once. He's making a noise between an uncertain grunt and a pitiful groan over and over, but even to his ears, it just sounds like a really raspy whimper from the back of his throat.

 

And it's good, like stupidly good.

 

Just from the kiss alone, Dean's hips are rolling forward instinctively. When Cas drops one hand from his face to unbutton his jeans with ease, one finger shoving the zipper down while the others tug at his boxers, Dean thinks he may just come then and there. Cas somehow manages to shove his jeans down to his knees with the help of both hands this time, and they haven't even stopped kissing yet.

 

The thing about it is… Dean really doesn't want to.

 

He is pretty certain he could kiss Cas forever from here on out. He thinks about the other pair of lips he knows so well from studying. They'd feel nice too. He wonders which he'd prefer, but he can't decide, and he doesn't know if that makes him a bad person or not. Instead of ruining the fucking mood, Dean decides to do what he's good at when it comes to sex, and he breaks away from Cas with minimal regret, already anticipating what's coming.

 

“Dean?” Cas asks curiously, fingers still trying to tug his boxers down.

 

Dean decides to save him the trouble; he shuffles back a step and falls to his knees, staring up at Cas intently. If Cas is interested and wants to take his opportunity, then fine, Dean will make it the best he's ever gonna get.

 

Reaching up, Dean pushes Cas’ knees apart and lets his hands crawl up Cas’ thighs. He grips them tight and yanks Cas’ ass closer to the edge of the table until he has his access. There, he thinks triumphantly and immediately leans forward.

 

The dark curls are soft against his lips and slightly damp from Cas’ own excitement. The wetness makes it easy to swipe out a tongue and lick intently up for a quick taste. Cas sucks in a sharp breath, one hand coming down to grip Dean's hair.

 

Dean really likes the idea of Cas losing control, yanking at his hair, grinding himself against his face, hips jerking and bucking helplessly.

 

Just the image is enough. Dean gets started with his new mission. He locates that sweet spot that makes Cas hiss, and he lavishes it with gentle attention - not too rough, not too insistent. He dips his tongue, tracing around the sweet spot, presses his tongue against it hard and hums, flicks the tip of his tongue at the same speed over the sensitive nub. It takes little time for Cas to provide Dean with the real life experience for what his mind had conjured, but it's so much better in every single way.

 

Cas is unabashed in his pleasure, uncaring at how he may look. He keeps his legs spread wide, leaning back on one hand, the other clenching Dean's hair tightly. His mouth his open wide, blue eyes hazy with pleasure, little throaty groans of ecstasy orchestrating every jerk of his hips.

 

Dean is pretty sure that he's going to come very soon, so he forces himself to stop and stand. Cas breathes deeply, staring at Dean like he's never seen him before. Dean knows that look. It's the patented ‘you give head good enough that I could fall in love with you’ look, and it's wonderful coming from Cas.

 

“Did you know that they have just recently made condoms with fluid reservoirs this year?” Cas asks him, reaching inside his coat and pulling out the strangest fucking condom Dean has ever seen in his entire life.

 

Dean can't help but grin. “Is that your way of telling me to just fuck you already?”

 

“Yes,” Cas answers without shame.

 

Dean has to take a deep breath to stay calm after that revelation. He carefully reaches out and plucks the condom from Cas’ hand, frowning at it. Cas must have brought it with him, which means one of two things: either Florence was seeing someone, or Cas was really hopeful about this.

 

Whatever it was, Dean's not going to dwell on it. He shoves his boxers down and very carefully pulls the condom on. It, honest to god, is the strangest feeling he's ever had, but it is better to be safe than sorry. He'd hate to knock Florence Waughtry up in 1901 and fuck up so many family trees.

 

Jesus, this is so wrong.

 

Wrong or not, Cas has spread his legs even farther and appears very eager to get this going, so Dean hitches Cas’ right leg up around his midsection and wraps his free arm around him to draw them close. They're nose to nose, eyes locked, when Dean slowly sinks into the wet heat awaiting him.

 

Cas’ mouth parts, and he makes a soft noise of surprise. Yeah, Dean knows the angle, know exactly how to curl his hips, knows what the tells are in any woman's body. This will be the best he's ever had, or will ever have, because Dean's jealousy says so.

 

“Don't close your eyes,” Dean murmurs.

 

With that one request, he very slowly starts rocking his hips, dragging out and pushing back in at an achingly slow pace. Cas does not close his eyes; Dean does not either. They continue to hold each other's gaze, barely a breath passing between them.

 

Dean waits until Cas hands are gripping his shoulders hard enough to bruise before he picks up his pace. It's tight and hot and wet, and Dean is trying his damndest not to come too soon and ruin it for the both of them. But he knows it will become too much far too soon, so he skips a few paces and skips over to when he's going faster. Cas seems to really like this decision, moaning happily and rolling his hips eagerly to try and make Dean go faster.

 

Oh, okay.

 

Dean suddenly pulls out, moving back, and Cas hisses in distaste, shooting an accusing glance at Dean's dick, daring it to come right now.

 

Dean - and his dick - ignore him without hesitation. He reaches out and tugs Cas from the table, grabbing his hips and turning him around. Cas goes with it, looking over his shoulder with an eyebrow arched in challenge. Dean gives him a grin and splays his hand in the middle of Cas’ back, pushing his torso down. Cas puts his hands up by his head, fingers spread wide like he's about to get searched; the sight amuses Dean for a moment.

 

The skirt has fallen back down slightly, cascading over part of his ass, and Dean uses one hand to grip Cas’ hip while the other pulls his skirt up, tugging the collected clump to one side, holding Cas in place. It leaves him face down on the table, ass in the air, clothes haphazard but still on, long hair a sexy mess over his shoulders.

 

Dean is about to fuck his whole world up, because Cas has fucked up his, and he can't help but want to return the favor.  

 

Dean moves the hand holding his hip and reaches down to his left thigh, tugging it out and up, making his leg bend at the knee, settling somewhere near his hip. It's as if he's about to army crawl on top of the table, but doing so as uncomfortably as possible. Dean knows it can be awkward, but the payoff is better.

 

Cas apparently feels the same. “I'm not sure if-”

 

“Shh,” Dean says, chuckling lowly, “just trust me.”

 

There's a beat of silence, then, “I trust you, Dean.”

 

With that as permission, Dean moves forward and very carefully slides his way in, cursing at the change of sensation. It's impossibly tighter now, Cas gripping him with his whole body. He takes a steady breath, clenching his jaw, and starts up an easy pace.

 

“Better?” Dean asks.

 

“Don't stop,” Cas replies gruffly, pressing his forehead into the table and heaving deep breaths.

 

Dean gives a breathless laugh. “Sure thing, sweetheart; what else can I do for you?”

 

Cas whines and scoots back, chasing the sensation, shuddering when Dean pushes back in. “Faster, Dean; go faster,” he urges, voice hitching around a groan, hips trying to move with his.

 

Dean bites back a grin, knowing this is where things are going to get fun. While he picks up his pace, he drops his left hand gripping Cas’ side and moves it to the small small space containing what Dean has been waiting to make known. The moment his fingers brush over that sweet spot, Cas whimpers and starts trembling, head pushing side to side.

 

Dean starts rocking faster, circling his fingers closer and closer, biting his lip and groaning at the feeling of Cas enveloping him over and over so quickly.

 

Dean drops the small knot of Cas’ skirt, tucking it into his side, and reaches up with his right hand to gather all Cas’ hair and pull it slightly. He doesn't yank on it or fist it, he simply holds Cas’ head up and lets the grip give him something to hold onto, lets it ground him. Dean sees the side of Cas’ face, watches how his mouth falls open, how his eyes flicker and roll carelessly, pink and red blotching his skin from either the heat, or the strain, or both.

 

Dean is getting too close; he can feel the coil of heat and pleasure within him getting ready to snap. He grits his teeth and goes faster, snapping his hips in and out rapidly. Cas wheezes as Dean settles right on that sweet spot and strokes it unforgivingly, still gentle, but insistent. They're both so close, they're silent, just hiccuping out gasps or not breathing at all.

 

Then, finally, “Oh!”

 

Dean would laugh at Cas’ exclamation of surprise if he wasn't so taken by the feeling of him coming. He clenches around Dean, fluttering and tightening, and that's it. Dean can't help it; he comes right as Cas has finished up, shuffling away and tilting his head back as the weird as fuck condom catches it all.

 

Dean sways on his feet for a few moments, just letting his breathing slow, giving his quivering muscles a break. Once relatively calm, he blinks open his eyes from where he'd shut them from that ridiculous fucking orgasm. Jesus Christ.

 

Dean looks down and blinks in surprise. Cas is exactly where he was left, one leg hiked up, clothes all over the place, hands splayed. His eyes are closed; he looks like he's sleeping. Except, every few moments, trembles wrack his body and his breathing goes erratic for a moment.

 

Dean yanks off the condom, folding it over and doing his best to tie it off. He really has no idea what to do with it right now, so he casually sits it on the floor off to the side. He pulls up his boxers and pants, reaching up to fix his hair, and goes about fixing his clothes to look less yanked-on. After that, he looks back to Cas to find him in the same exact spot.

 

“Cas?” he asks carefully, taking a few steps closer.

 

Cas grins widely, cute nose wrinkling. “Mhm,” he hums, giggling slightly.

 

It reminds Dean of Cas in the world Zachariah threw him into; he's all loose and sated, smiling easy, laughing like he's high. The only difference is that this isn't tinged with bleak depression and doesn't seem self-destructive at all. In fact, Cas looks happy as fuck, and Dean knows exactly what this is.

 

“Oh, your first legit orgasm, huh?” Dean muses, chuckling quietly when Cas’ smile falls into a frown.

 

It probably isn't his first orgasm, but it is his strongest so far if his reaction is any indication. Legit, strong, whatever; the point is, Dean did this.

 

The caveman part of his brain that wants to shove Cas under him every night so he won't leave ever again is stupidly pleased by this knowledge. The more reasonable part of his brain realizes that he can't just leave Cas like that on the table. So, Dean takes the little knot of skirt and tugs it, smoothing it down; he runs his fingers through the wild mane of ridiculously soft curls, snorting when Cas leans into his hand like a cat; he even helps him pull his leg down, leaving him just bent over the table, still grinning like an idiot high off an orgasm.

 

Cas makes a small sound, manages, “Nice.”

 

“I'm nice or the sex was nice?” Dean asks curiously, leaning over to stare at Cas’ grin.

 

“Yes,” Cas answers firmly.

 

Dean snorts and decides to wait it out. It is his first serious orgasm, plus it had been in a woman's body. Some could argue that women feel orgasms even more intensely than men, even though they aren't always guaranteed to come. Dean suddenly wonders what it's like to have a vagina - not that he'd ever trade in his dick, but it does sound strangely appealing to have a little mound that must feel amazing, especially with the way woman react to it being touched.

 

“I'm gonna go check on our prisoners, okay?” Dean tells Cas, very firmly shutting down his thoughts. He always gets crazy thoughts after sex - pillow talk, Lisa would call it.

 

Cas makes an unintelligible noise, so Dean pats his shoulder and heads outside. Lily and Isham are in the same exact spot they were before, still knocked out, but Sam is back. Cas’ body is thrown over the back of Florence's horse, and Sam stands right beside it, arms crossed, jaw ticked in that way that tells Dean he is really, really pissed off.

 

But he can't deal with Sam's anger right now, because as soon as he sees Cas’ body, he realizes what he's just done and goes into an immediate crisis mode, complete with alarms blaring loudly while flashing red in his mind.

 

Dean walks himself through it as calmly as possible.

 

They all went to 1901. Cas jumped into a female body. Dean proceeded to immediately fuck Cas while in that body, even though they've never had sex before, expressed interest to, or had any sort of real discussion beforehand. And right after the best sex they've had in a really long time, Dean left Cas bent over a table, thoroughly fucked, and didn't stick around to have any conversation at all.

 

Yep, this is shit.

 

And on top of that, Sam is marching up to him with that look in his eye that means a punch is coming, and yep, there it is.

 

“What the fuck were you thinking?” Sam growls, shaking out his fist.

 

Dean winces as he gingerly touches the tender spot on his jaw. “Well, at the time, there wasn't much thinking going on, Sammy; we were just-”

 

“Ugh, shut up!” Sam explodes, flapping a hand to cut him off. “I don't wanna know anything; I heard plenty when I went to the door.”

 

“Sorry, I forgot to put my sock up; things just happened so fast, plus all my clothes didn't come off. I'm usually not so forgetful,” Dean says dryly.

 

Sam stares at him, lips tightened in fury. “He becomes a girl for ten minutes, Dean - ten minutes - and the first thing you do is sleep with him! How can you be such a dick about this?”

 

“Why is this my fault?” Dean throws his hands up, waving them around. “Did you stop and think that it was him who came onto me? I'm not a complete fucking asshole, okay? I wouldn't just… fuck him because he happened upon some boobs.”

 

Sam arches an eyebrow. “You telling me Cas seduced you? Cas?”

 

“Yes,” Dean snaps, jerking a sharp nod. “He, like, lifted his skirt at me - shut up, I'm serious. He told me he wanted to, I dunno, have the experience or something. I was… compromised.”

 

“Oh my god, you're so full of shit!” Sam reaches up to shove a hand through his hair roughly. “You were compromised? Are you serious?”

 

“Yes! He kept… fucking with me, Sam. Look, you know what, I'm not gonna explain myself to you. I'm a grown man and so is he.”

 

“And what, it's just that easy for you? Like, you had sex and it was super casual, but that's okay because y'all are besties?”

 

“He said it was just this once! Stop being a bitch, Sam; it's literally just sex.”

 

“But it's not. You had sex with Cas, who - need I fucking remind you - is an angel who has been your best friend for years, who you have a strong bond with. And to add insult to injury, you waited to do it when he wasn't man-shaped!”

 

And Dean knows all of these things. He has been reciting them in his mind for the last five minutes. He wants to rewind time and go back to before Isham ever sent them all spiralling back in time, back before he ever ended up in this bitch of a situation. Admittedly, he put himself here. He could have easily said no to Cas, but he hadn't wanted to; he never wants to. And sex, god… Dean has wanted Cas like that for years now, which is so terrible when he thinks about it, because he has never allowed himself to actually think about it.

 

Being in love with Cas is all in theory because he's an angel, because they're best friends, because they're bond matters more.

 

Except, now it's not a theory.  

 

Sam just has to go point that out in real words, putting them out into the air, letting them go settle amongst the universe, finding home with the stars that never get to shoot across the sky. Sam is an asshole.

 

“You don't think I know that?” Dean hisses, stepping close to glare at Sam. “Just how well do you think you know me if you think I just stumbled blindly into fucking Cas’ brains out? Think about it, Sam, really fucking think about it.”

 

Sam blinks a few times, then it clicks. His eyes widen and he exhales sharply. “Oh my god.”

 

“Shut up, Sam.”

 

“You're-”

 

“Sam, I swear on Baby.”

 

“But you-”

 

“I will cut all your hair off and super glue it into a beard,” Dean threatens, narrowing his eyes in his serious ‘do not fuck with me’ look.

 

Sam has always been immune that look. “You love him; you're in love with him.”

 

“Sam, drop it,” Dean murmurs seriously, shaking his head and averting his eyes.

 

Sam seems to realize where to draw the line because he wisely doesn't say anything else; he just moves beside Dean while they wait for Cas to come out, a calm and steady comfort at his side.

 

Cas eventually does come out, a little skip in his step, eyes brighter than normal. He smiles prettily at Sam, curtseying at him like a dork. When he turns to Dean to do the same, he looks up through his lashes, lips curled into a secret smile. And despite absolutely everything, Dean is more than ready to go right back in that cabin and drop his pants again, just like Cas’ look suggests they do.

 

“When we return, I'll be back in my own body again. After that, we'll hand Isham over to Lily; she will get her revenge. Everything will go back to normal.”

 

It sounds really fucking simple when it's put like that.

 

Dean doesn't feel like it's that easy for him, but he wisely keeps his mouth shut. He hangs back, hands shoved in his pockets, head ducked down. His mind feels like lead, heavy and harsh - thoughts race rapidly, and he does his best to ignore them.

 

Just as Cas said, it all goes off without a hitch. Isham takes them back home, Cas taking his body back just as they're whisked away; he heals himself the moment they return. Isham demands freedom; Cas smiles grimly and grants that demand to Lily instead. She takes Isham and leaves, saying Cas has marked himself safe from her for what he's done before she drives off, a wicked gleam in her one eye.

 

After that, they climb into Baby and they go home.

 

Dean almost wrecks the car four different times; he keeps gazing into the rearview mirror to look at Cas. He can't really help it, doesn't really think about it, just finds his eyes drawn back to him over and over again. It's a marvel to see Cas back to normal.

 

His eyes hold that spark again, lips free of blood, skin tan rather than washed out and pale. He looks exactly like the Cas that they know and love, but Dean thinks about how this is the Cas he hasn't fucked. And fuck, that's so horrible to admit.

 

When they make it home, Sam shoots him a significant look, eyebrows raised, eyes soft with seriousness. He catches Dean's arm before they follow Cas out of the garage, murmuring, “You gotta talk to him, Dean; please don't be an idiot about this.”

 

Dean just averts his eyes and shrugs Sam's hand off.

 

Sam sighs and departs to his room, giving Cas a wobbly smile as he goes away to hide - the lucky bitch. Dean starts to his room to do that as well, because he's had one hell of a day, because he thinks he deserves a nap, because he'd rather bury himself in his bed than die inside every time Cas smiles at him. But just his fucking luck, Cas turns to him expectantly, eyes bright.

 

Dean knows the post-case routine. If it was a good one, they find someway to celebrate. They take turns in picking the ways. Sam usually insists they go out and eat somewhere that actually has a salad; Dean rotates between cooking a meal for everyone or getting takeout and nursing a few beers while they play cards; Cas, however, usually wants to hole-up in one of their rooms and watch a happy movie, only occasionally switching up to insist they all go out in the field behind the bunker and have a picnic at night. Technically, this case is a good one - fucking fantastic actually, his mind corrects in what can only be described as a leer.

 

Because God hates Dean, Cas asks, “Movie in yours? I want to watch the Smurf movie.”

 

Dean forces himself to smile. “Sure, sounds like a movie to nap along to.”

 

“The reviews say it's very wholesome,” Cas mutters, frowning slightly. “Shall I go get Sam?”

 

“Nah, I think the dude just wants to sleep at this point. To be fair, it's been a long day.”

 

“I'll stop by and ask anyway while you grab the DVD player. Maybe he'll come with us.”

 

Dean rolls his eyes at Cas’ insistence, but lets it go. He heads off to grab the DVD player they've hauled around with them for literal years. Cas has been fascinated with the damn thing since they brought it out. Dean is fond of it enough himself; it was a steady source of entertainment when they went to the shitty hotels with only three channels - one of which was the news.

 

He gets back to his room after Cas, slipping in with the DVD player in his hands, cords dangling over his arms. Cas is sitting at the edge of Dean's bed, waiting patiently. Dean busies himself with connecting the DVD player to his TV, matching the red, yellow, and white cords to their slots. He switches over to the DVD channel from the menu and grabs the movie that Cas holds out to him without looking over his shoulder. It starts up, and Dean suddenly has nothing else to do with his hands.

 

Dean stands in front of the TV for a moment, mind completely blank, then he whirls around to stare at Cas and blurt out, “I feel like I cheated on you.”

 

That had been the last thing he wanted to say, but it wraps up in the gravity around them, refusing to fly away. Dean closes his eyes, clenching his jaw, wishing he could step outside of himself for the simple liberty of beating himself upside the head. Still, as much as he wishes the words weren't out there, he realizes that they're true.

 

God, Dean feels like a fucking idiot.

 

“Oh,” Cas murmurs softly, clearing his throat. “I'm confused as to why you feel this way. Have you betrayed my friendship? I wasn't aware that you were in a position that you could be unfaithful to me.”

 

Dean tries to explain. “We had sex. Us. We- we had completely casual sex, and you were woman-shaped while it happened, and I feel like-”

 

“Dean, stop,” Cas interrupts gently, standing up to get eye-level. “Listen to me very closely. Whatever worries you have, I assure you that they are not an issue. I told you just the once; I will keep my word. I know you wanted me in my borrowed female vessel, but not my actual body, and I have no plans to pester you about it. Admittedly, I may have taken advantage of your attraction to females unfairly for my own pleasure and desire, which I apologize for deeply. If you're angry, I completely understand, but rest assured that I expect nothing in this form.”

 

Cas looks very pleased after his declaration, yet Dean feels anything but.

 

Dean realizes what Cas believes about the whole situation. To be fair, Dean hasn't ever made it clear just how he feels about Cas, or how he looks at men, or the desires he's never followed through on. It's not something anyone knows, simply because he's never really been pressed to do anything besides mildly joke about it, and denying it is just easier.

 

“Oh, wow,” Dean murmurs, blinking.

 

Cas frowns at him in uncertainty. “What?”

 

“Okay, I need to make this very clear. Hear me out before you say anything. So, I was very attracted to you when you were woman-shaped, no doubt. But dude, I'm attracted to you now. I had sex with you then, and I'd just as easily do it now. I like fucking, I like you, and surprise, surprise… I like fucking you. We're us, so I never thought… well, I never thought I'd have it at all, to be honest. Not until you were suddenly woman-shaped and seducing me. So, you've got it all levels of wrong.”

 

Cas stares at him, unblinking, lips parted. Dean remembers thinking about these lips, remembers aching for this skin, remembers being confused between how much he wanted them both. It's actually very simple, now that he's standing here yearning; he wants Cas is any form, but this belongs to Cas fully. Dean wants him in every single way, but this body is Cas’ home, so he wants to be a part of it.

 

“I don't understand.”

 

Dean chews his lip for a moment. “Everything you think I'll only do with women, I'll do with you.”

 

“Oh,” Cas murmurs softly, looking down at his fingers as if they held the answers to make this make sense.

 

“Cas, I'm into you, man,” Dean mutters, rolling his eyes, jerking a hand at Cas’ body. “I don't really care what body you're in; I just want you.”

 

Cas tilts his head. “Why did you wait until I was shaped as a woman to do anything?”

 

“What, are you fucking joking? How in the hell was I supposed to know that you were even interested? It's not like you make things like that obvious,” Dean argues, eyebrows pinching together. “Plus, I don't really like the idea of fucking up our friendship.”

 

“We will always be friends, Dean, even if we were to add sex and intimacy to the mix. And I wasn't aware that I had a chance with you sexually, because I assumed you were only attracted to females,” Cas admits with a sheepish shrug.

 

Dean claps his hands together, clicking his tongue and shooting fingerguns at Cas. “Yeah, well, surprise! I'm a fan of dick too, yours specifically.”

 

Cas’ eyebrows jump up. “This changes things.”

 

“Yeah, that's what the fuck I was worried about,” Dean mumbles, dropping his hand.

 

“No, no,” Cas reassures him quickly, waving a hand carelessly, “I don't mean that. We are still the same, even if we allow room for… more. What I'm insinuating is that I want to revise my statement of ‘'just this once’, if you'll accept that.”

 

“You serious?”

 

“Very.”

 

And there are so many things to figure out, so many things to talk about, but fucking hell, Dean wants Cas. He wants his normal body, wants to learn it. There is quite literally nothing else that Dean can think to do with this new information.

 

Dean nods decisively and moves a bit closer, dipping his head and staring at Cas seriously. “Alright, this is what we're gonna do. We're gonna cut this shitty movie off, climb into bed, and have really amazing sex. You are gonna fuck me this time, and I'm gonna prove just how into you I am, no matter the body - though, this one is my favorite. Sound good?”

 

“Sounds perfect,” Cas agrees with a small smile.

 

Dean decides to just throw all caution to the wind and lean in to take a kiss. Cas is just as eager as he was when he was residing in Florence Waughtry; he curls into Dean, opens his mouth, and hums in a pleased fashion. Whatever awkwardness that Dean worried he'd feel makes a quick exit, leaving him warm with want and anticipation.

 

Kissing Cas as he is now feels right. The lips are more puffy, but a bit rougher. Cas’ hands aren't small now; they grip him tight and strong, yanking him close and holding him there. Dean's absolutely mystified by Cas’ hair; it's shorter now, but just as thick and soft. And when they break apart, those eyes shine with that look Cas carries with him wherever he goes. It tells him: you're loved, you're so important, you're my absolute favorite.

 

Sex with Cas in this body turns out to be Dean's favorite, and he is so fucking glad he was forced to go back in time, because that's when he found out he's gonna love and want Cas no matter what. That thought makes Dean pause.

 

Technically, he's been in love with Cas since 1901.

 

When it comes to them, Dean finds himself not even surprised anymore. He just sinks into the moment, lets Cas break him in the best way, and hopes he never has to lose this.




 



When the brightness of Cas’ eyes become too much, Dean forgets everything else plaguing him.

 

Yeah, they're on outs right now, practically on a break, but they mean too much to just give up on each other. And he's never said it, never made it clear, but he is hopelessly in love with Cas.

 

So, when the angel blade's tip pierces through Cas’ chest, resulting in that energy from within exploding out, Dean launches himself forward, Cas’ name ripping from him in a hoarse scream. He has to shield his eyes from the explosion, the sting too much to bare, but when he looks back, Cas’ body is on the ground in a heap, shredded wings burned into the dirt as a final goodbye.

 

Everything that comes after - the fight with Lucifer, losing Mom, attacking Jack - goes by in a strange haze of dulled pain. Dean doesn't really take stock of himself until he's in the room with Cas’ body. Sam had carried him in, covered him with a sheet, and graciously left Dean alone.

 

Dean knows they've been arguing; hell, they've been fighting like cats and dogs since that fucking parasite of a baby infected his mind. The only moments they have together is the ones they carve out for each other. Cas will come to the bunker really late at night, slide into Dean's bed, and just hold him; Dean always pretends he's still asleep, but he never fails to relax into the hold. And on occasion, Dean will pray to Cas when they're out on a case and he has a seperate room from Sam. It's always under the guise he'll try and change Cas’ mind, but the moment Cas would walk through the door, Dean would be on him in an instant. He couldn't help it; he just loves him, craves him, misses him.

 

Cas would always be gone in the morning.

 

Despite all of the strain on them, they were still them. And seeing Cas now, laid up on a table, still and empty, Dean wants them to be fighting again. He wants Cas to glare at him from across the room, and he wants Cas to yell at him through the phone, and he wants Cas to be fucking alive.

 

But he's forced to wrap his feet and shoulders with the curtains in the room. His breath rattles out of him, his eyes itch, and his body is sore in a way it hasn't felt in a long time. Mindlessly, numbly, he hauls Cas’ body up, grunting under the deadweight, and walks him out to the pire he'd built. He'd chopped wood for hours, set it all up, sweating and pissed and hating everything about the world.

 

Sam waits, silent and still.

 

Dean heaves Cas’ body onto the top, straightening him out, hands trembling as he shifts him over and over. He's reluctant to pull away, heart in his throat, eyes stinging; once he's done maneuvering Cas, he'll have to let him burn, and Dean doesn't think he'll ever be ready for that.

 

He pats him through the sheet, prodding at stiff limbs, yanking him up and down. He does anything to hold off on setting that fire.

 

“Dean,” Sam whispers after Dean's just standing there, rubbing what used to be Cas’ rising chest.

 

Dean stills his hands. “He's not- he has to be on here right, Sam. Just… let me situate him.”

 

Sam goes quiet again, but his silence is sad, pitying. Dean thinks of Jess, Madison, and Amelia, even ponders Eileen. Sam's been through this more times than Dean, in worse ways even; he wonders how Sam even smiles anymore, wonders if he'll smile ever again. Mostly, Dean wonders when he'll forget Cas’ smiles, wonders when he'll start to lose the image of Cas in his mind, wonders if he'll be able to accept that Cas isn't coming back this time.

 

Dean eventually realizes that he can't touch Cas’ lifeless body anymore, and he steps back, fumbling for his lighter. He holds it for a long time, fingers shaking, mind blank. “I can't,” he finds himself saying, turning to Sam with a blank face. “I can't do it, Sam; you have to do it for me.”

 

That alone speaks volumes for the situation.

 

Sam looks absolutely crushed by those words. Dean completely understands why. For him to admit that he can't do something, that he can't be strong enough, that Sam has to step up and handle something rather than him… it tells them anything they need to know about Dean's state of mind. Sam swallows thickly, wiping his cheeks quickly, and takes three long strides to him. He grabs the lighter, meets Dean's eyes, and flicks it without hesitation.

 

Dean forces himself to watch as Cas burns.




 




Cas calls, and Dean can't fucking breathe.

 

The ride back to the bunker is silent. They should be discussing Jack, or how Cas came back, or what their next moves are. Instead, Sam sits awkwardly in the passenger seat, chewing his lip and shooting Cas a reassuring smile every single time they meet eyes in the rearview mirror. Cas sits in the back, stiff and quiet, never saying a word. Dean keeps his eyes firmly towards the road, stomach twisting anxiously.

 

All he'd gotten was a hug.

 

It's stupid to be peeved with the lack of more when he's so fucking grateful that he has anything at all. He isn't sure what he was expecting. A kiss, maybe? A deceleration of love? Hell, something more than a hug that lasted only a few seconds longer than Cas and Sam's had.

 

Dean doesn't want to be that guy, but he is kind of reeling here. His heart isn't sure whether it's still broken or if it's mending itself already. His mind is in some vast space between wanting to take Cas home and fuck him until they can't do anything but weep or to go hide away in his room alone. He has zero idea where they stand, and he's dreading the upcoming conversation to find out. Last they talked, they were in the middle of a pretty bitter argument.

 

Dean really wants to kiss Cas, but he has no idea if he's a allowed to anymore or not.

 

Sam, for his part, seems to sense that they're not exactly in a comfortable spot. He wisely keeps silent, and once they get home late in the night, he slips off to his room after one more quick hug for Cas. As he passes Dean, he gives him a grave look; it's something serious and important, and there is something like envy in his gaze too.

 

Sam never gets second chances.

 

Jesus, Dean needs a fucking beer. As soon as Sam's door closes with a soft click, Dean whirls away and stomps to the kitchen. He grabs himself a beer, popping it with a quick hiss, and takes a few deep pulls. He leans against the fridge and drinks his beer, mind turning over the shade of Cas’ eyes.

 

Dean's missed him. He's missed his attitude, his stupid selflessness, his confusion. He's missed his body, the span of his salty skin, the curl of his lips, the way he writhes under Dean's tongue. Above all, he misses Cas breathing and being and existing. And he loves him so much, it's fucking ripping him in so many endless directions.

 

The beer is gone before long, so Dean follows that up with some water, just to chase the taste away and stall for more time. Once that's gone, he knows he has no choice but to go back out and either face his problems or run away. Dean hopes, or fears Cas has already went to his room.

 

Cas hasn't moved an inch. “Hello, Dean,” he greets quietly, blinking at him.

 

“Come to mine,” Dean says as response.

 

It's not exactly what he was expecting to leave his mouth, but he can't find it within himself to backpedal. Cas nods and follows him to his room, face carefully blank, eyes bright with flickering emotions he can't dim. When they enter, Dean gestures at him to shut the door, crossing his arms and regarding him once he does.

 

“Do you want to… talk?” Cas asks casually.

 

Dean doesn't, but he murmurs, “I'm so mad at you.”

 

“I know,” Cas whispers, ducking his head, shoulders wrenching up near his ears, throat bobbing.

 

“When it came down to it, you chose the kid of Satan over me, and then you died.”

 

“Dean, no, it wasn't-”

 

“Stop,” Dean cuts him off sharply, holding up a hand, trying not to crumble under Cas’ pitiful expression; the sheen over his blue eyes and the way his lip wobbles just so is nearly too much. “Cas, when I asked - no, begged - you to give us time, you didn't. Not only did you lie to me, but you stole from me, and on top of that, you didn't trust me to find a plan to make all of this go differently. And then, you wanna know what happened? You died, Cas, and I had to wrap your body in a sheet and fucking burn you. And that was on me.”

 

Cas takes a shaky breath. “No, Dean, I never meant for it to be like that. You wouldn't trust me, not at the time, but you see Jack. Surely you understand why I made the choice I made.”

 

“No, not really. 'Cause it's real freaking hard for me to make sense of anything that results in you being dead. And Jack? I'd sooner have seen him dead than be anywhere near me, because I blamed him for what happened to you.”

 

“It's not his fault, Dean. I made a vow to protect him, regardless of my life. Whether you can accept it or not, I did the right thing. I am sorry for lying, and for stealing, and for all the strife that happened between us, but I refuse to apologize for protecting Jack.”

 

Dean shakes his head slowly, exhaling a long breath of disbelief. “Can't you be sorry for leaving me? Again? Can't you make a fucking vow to stop sacrificing yourself like you don't matter to anyone? Besides Sam, you're the only thing that matters to me. Why can't you see that?”

 

“What happened has nothing to do with you, Dean. It's not on you, it's not your fault, it's not your burden to carry,” Cas murmurs softly, shuffling forward a few steps, hands twitching like he wants to reach out and touch him desperately.

 

“Are you fucking insane? Everything to do with you has to do with me! It's on me, it's my fucking burden, Cas!” Dean explodes, gesturing between them, insides heating with fury, breath rattling out of him as his whole body shakes. “Don't you get it? You're my person, you're the one I chose, and I- I can't- Cas, I can't handle it. I just can't. I-”

 

“Okay, okay,” Cas soothes quickly, reaching out to draw Dean close. He tugs Dean's arms apart, wrapping his own around him, one hand cupping the back of Dean's head to draw his face into his neck, the other hand rubbing smooth circles expertly over the tension in between his shoulder blades.

 

Dean lets his arms dangle at his sides and takes a deep breath, eyes sipping closed. “No, it's not okay. I'm in love with you and that's not worth anything to you, and it's not okay.”

 

Cas goes very still, the circle he's tracing going unfinished. Very carefully, he draws back and moves his hand from the back of Dean's head to tug his chin up. They stare at each other, watery green eyes meeting wide blue eyes.

 

“Dean, that means everything to me,” Cas says slowly, lips tipping down.

 

Dean gives a feeble shrug. “If I'd have told you before all of this, maybe-”

 

“No. I made my decision based off what was right, not what I wanted. Know that I wanted to return to you with every breath I took.”

 

“We should have never been with each other like we have. It fucked up our friendship, Cas. I told you it would. If we hadn't… I might could forgive you.”

 

Cas gives a simple nod. “You don't have to forgive me. We don't have to be anything you don't want to be. What you said… it's the same for me, Dean. It's always been that way for me.”

 

Dean wants to bang his head against the wall, or shove his face into a pillow and scream, or kick Cas in the shin and yell at him until he is hoarse. He hates how simple it is for him. Cas can just make himself into this expendable character that has one purpose, which is to stick his neck out for the Winchesters, no matter their fucking opinion. And he can let himself be miserable, give up what he wants all because Dean is terrified.

 

“I can't forgive you, not now. If we were just friends, I'd move the fuck on, but we aren't just friends anymore. I dunno if we ever can be.”

 

“Don't say that. You're my best friend; you will always be my best friend regardless.”

 

Dean knocks Cas’ hand from his chin and shoves into his space, growling roughly. “It's not that simple, Cas. We can't just go back. At least, I can't. I wanted you, and I got you, and you died. And I still fucking want you! I'm a goddamn glutton for punishment!”

 

“And what's the alternative?” Cas asks sharply, narrowing his eyes. “Huh, Dean? What else is there? Are we to leave each other alone, never speak again, never touch again? What will that solve? How will that save you from any heartache?”

 

Dean scoffs. “Yeah, because having you and losing you is really fucking fair.”

 

“Better to have and lose than never have at all.”

 

“You're full of so much shit, it's a wonder your eyes aren't brown.”

 

“I'm not asking for forgiveness, Dean,” Cas hisses lowly, lips tightening in a way that makes Dean's stomach pool with warmth. “I'm not demanding intimacy. I'm not even forcing you to make a choice. I'm simply telling you the truth.”

 

“I don't even know what to believe anymore.” Dean scrubs a hand over his face, sighing heavily.

 

Cas’ eyes go into accusing slits. “So, you mean to tell me that you don't wish to see me anymore? You're saying we can't talk, can't laugh, can't exist in each other's spaces? You want me to go, and you don't want to have sex anymore, and you don't even want to be friends anymore? Just to be clear, that is what you're saying, right?”

 

Dean purses his lips, considering. “You ain't gotta leave. I mean, this is your home too, and Jack is… your responsibility as well. But I can't be with you, Cas, not in any way, because what happens the next time somebody else suggests you toss your life away? What am I supposed to do then? How in the hell am I supposed to live with losing you over and over, especially when I've had you like we want?”

 

“That's not fair! It's not as if I'm out searching for ways to get myself killed, Dean. And it's not just me! You were going straight to your death to try and kill Amara, but you still went.”

 

“You offered to go with me.”

 

“Yes, because I don't wish to live in a world where you aren't in it,” Cas explains easily.

 

“Exactly!” Dean tosses his hands up, glaring at Cas seriously. “How do you think I fucking feel? You were dead, there was a case, and Cas… I hopped on the first opportunity to die; I practically told Billie to toss me wherever in the fuck she was going to. I'm so gone on you, I nearly left Sam!”

 

Cas blinks. “You died?”

 

“Yeah,” Dean retorts harshly. “Jammed a fucking needle right into my bloodstream and took a nap for far too long. Only reason I'm here is because Billie says I got more shit to do.”

 

“Dean…” Cas murmurs disapprovingly.

 

“Don't you fucking dare lecture me, you self-sacrificing jackass!”

 

“Stop being pissed that you love me.”

 

Dean waves his hands around wildly. “Why? Why should I? This is one bitch of a situation, Cas! I'm stupid in love with an angel who won't stop dying!”

 

“Okay! Okay, fine. I won't try and save the world by giving my life in exchange. I won't make deals for you or Sam. I won't throw myself into a position to be taken out of your life. Alright?”

 

“Promise me.”

 

“What, Dean-”

 

“I'm fucking serious, Cas. Promise me.”

 

Cas takes a deep breath, eyes softening. “I promise I won't willingly go out and die, okay?”

 

“Fine,” Dean snips, jaw ticking as he pouts slightly, narrowing his eyes as he scans Cas for lies.

 

“Good,” Cas agrees, quirking a small smile.

 

Dean huffs. “I'm still pissed at you.”

 

“I know,” Cas hums, clearly a lot more relaxed after Dean's ire diminished. “So, we can be friends again?”

 

“Are you joking?” Dean snorts, shuffling a bit closer as his tongue darts out across his bottom lip. “There is nothing friendly going on in my head right now. Yeah, I'm pissed at you, and I'm terrified, but you're my best friend who I happen to be into. Make-up sex is fucking fantastic, and I have plans going on in my head that will surely land me in hell.”

 

Cas chuckles gruffly, reaching out to draw Dean in close. Their lips meet tenderly in the middle, soft with relief and home. Before it grows too heated, Cas pulls back to give him a sappy grin and whisper something in a serious way that makes Dean's heart flutter, though he will never admit it.

 

“You may go to hell, but I promise I'll get you out.”