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“Why do you do it, Cas?”

He nearly jumps in his surprise but manages to stay still--anything to make this time last as long as possible. But he is surprised. They never talk, after. Unless it’s Dean telling Cas he can’t stay, or that he’ll see him around, and Dean’s usually fully dressed and standing with his hand on the doorknob by the time he gets even those few words out.

He knows what Dean’s asking. He asks often, and the question sometimes manifests in Cas’s dreams. The disbelieving, incredulous look in those moss green eyes, the tension in his jaw, the straight, tight line of his lips.

Dean wants to know why he’s poisoning himself with drugs. Why he’s let himself become this empty vessel.

Usually Cas brushes it off; sometimes he winks and says, “Because it’s fun. You remember fun, don’t you Dean?” Other times he keeps a straight face and says, “Because i can.” He’s given a non-answer answer in so many ways: “They’re here, I’m here, it was fate.” “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” “We all do stupid things.” His personal favorite is “I decided it was time for my teenage rebellion.”

But now, lying naked in his small bed, Dean’s leg slung across his own, the light from a single candle casting long shadows throughout his cabin, it doesn’t seem right to give a glib, thoughtless comment.

Still, he doesn’t want Dean to leave. Maybe silence is better.

But his body betrays him. His mouth is forming words before he decides to answer, and he hears himself telling the truth. Or the closest truth he knows, anyway.

“I’m trying to figure out how to fit into this frail body, how to contain what was once vast in this tight skin.” Closing his eyes, he goes on. “And that first rush, when whatever substance I’ve got for the day first hits my system--it’s only a flash, a moment, never ever long enough--it’s the only thing I’ve ever found to come even close to the perfect oblivion of flight.”

Dean goes still, and Cas knows he’s said too much, they don’t talk about feelings , and Dean is going to leave. He’s the one who asked, but he didn’t want an answer like this. And Cas doesn’t blame him, he doesn’t want to talk about this either. It makes his back itch, between his shoulder blades. His stomach lurches, remembering the pain of his grace seeping from his body, his wings being torn away. That’s another reason for the drugs, of course. Numbing phantom pain. He doubts it will ever be truly gone, but the hours of feeling nothing ease the ache. Sometimes.

And suddenly he’s angry. Dean knows he doesn’t want to talk about this. He may not have known why before today, but Cas has made it clear that this is a forbidden topic. But Dean can never let things go.

He sits up, glowering down at Dean. “And why do you do it, Dean? Sneaking into my cabin in the dark of the night, taking what you want and then leaving again. We both know it isn’t love. Sometimes I think you don’t even like me anymore. But somehow I became your drug. I shouldn’t let you, shouldn’t feed your addiction, but…” He shrugs in the darkness. “Glass houses, all that.” And I’ve loved you since I first touched your soul is left unsaid. They both know it anyway.

Dean sucks in a breath. He looks like a moth pinned to a board, antennae still quivering, desperate to find an escape. But Cas won’t let him fly away so easily. Not this time.

Or maybe he will; there’s a sharp pain in his chest and he knows it will stop only when Dean’s fear and pain stops. He turns away, still angry, blinking away frustrated tears. He senses more than hears Dean slump with relief.

“Just go,” Cas says, looking into the candle’s flickering flame. The bitterness in his voice cuts through the deepest shadows.

Dean slides off the bed, finds his clothes and dresses without a sound. He’s halfway through the door before he turns back. “Cas, I--”

“Just go, Dean.” Cas falls back onto his pillow and puts an arm across his face, unable to look at Dean. He feels weariness tugging him downward toward sleep. He hates himself for adding a soft, low, “Please.”

When the door clicks shut Cas sits up, takes a sip of water from the glass by the bed. It’s warm, but he barely registers the temperature.

Maybe tomorrow, he thinks, burrowing under the blankets. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to forget.