“I think I’ll go for a drive.”
Heaven isn’t particularly warm or cold, and it takes Dean maybe a little longer than it should to realize he could probably de-layer. No—scratch that—the temperature is actually perfectly warm (or perfectly cool, depending on your perspective). Yeah, that’s it—perfect. Chilly enough to feel cozy in a jacket over a flannel with no risk of overheating. Just how he likes it.
It feels like a classic fall day, perfect for burning some rubber against the road. As Dean drives, his hands grip the wheel just a little too tightly, in an effort to soothe away the sting of leaving Sam behind for good.
For now, he reminds himself. Sammy deserves to live.
Strangely, his fingers hurt when he doesn’t let go of where they’re wrapped around the leather, at least until Dean makes a conscious effort to relax his muscles. It’s strange—he feels awfully corporeal for a dead guy. Not hungry, but he could eat. Not thirsty, but damn did that beer feel sweet going down.
As soon as he stops trying to create pain, shaking his hands out before taking the wheel again, there is none. Interesting. “Something else you cooked up for us?” Dean wonders out loud, sort of talking to Jack but not really expecting a response. He’s unsurprised when an answer doesn’t come, but smiles to himself nonetheless and shakes his head. “The human experience, minus all the pain and suffering. Gotta hand it to you, Jack. You done good.”
The wind whips through the Impala’s open window, the familiar growl of her engine and the sound of the road beneath roaring by a nostalgic comfort to Dean. Mountains curve around him on both sides, and just beyond the bend ahead, he can make out a glimmering stream winding through the valley. He could easily be back on Route 66, on his way to a diner to pick up burgers and beer after a hunt, with Sam waiting back at the motel—
Dean’s foot slams down hard on the brake before he even realizes what he’s doing, bringing the Impala to a grinding halt in the middle of the highway. His vision clouds over as he throws the car into park. “Shit,” he mutters to himself, wiping the tears away angrily. It’s just a wave of emotion, though, dissipated nearly as quickly as it came on, and Dean drags a deep breath through his lungs before centering himself and pushing on.
Sam gets to live, he reminds himself, nodding even though no one is there to see it. You’ll see him again, when it’s his time.
As Dean eases the car back into gear, murmuring an apology that he knows is unnecessary because, well, Heaven car, Dean deals. So maybe it’s taken him until the afterlife to become even remotely emotionally healthy, but it’s never too late, right? As more and more road disappears beneath his tires, Dean lets himself remember Sam and all of the good times. With each memory that comes, he examines it, appreciates it, and tucks it away. Sam will always be a part of him, but if Sam gets to live, then damn it, Dean wants to, too.
He knows exactly where to start.
Dean didn't need Bobby to tell him that Cas was in Heaven. He felt it, felt Castiel’s presence the minute he opened his eyes and looked into the sun. And is that the real Sun? Dean’s gonna have to ask somebody. Either way, it’s setting in a blaze of colorful glory behind the mountains as he makes his way to—well, Dean supposes he doesn’t know exactly where he’s headed, just that there’s only one place he needs to be right now.
The road ahead grows dark, lit only by the occasional street lamp and the pinkish-red glow sinking slowly beneath the horizon. As the sun fades away, Dean finds that he can see equally as well in the dark as he can in broad daylight, and that fact makes him slightly giddy with glee. He wonders what else there will be to discover here, and his skin tingles.
Something tugs in his chest, calls him to pay attention. Up ahead, bathed in a pool of artificial light, sits a Gas-N-Sip, just off the side of the road. No cars in the parking lot, just like there haven’t been any on the road. As Dean guides Baby to a stop near the pumps, his anxiety flares, just a little. A quick glance into the store reveals nothing: lights on, nobody’s home. Maybe he was wrong.
Still, worth a look. Worth following that feeling—that tugging in his gut, stronger than anything he ever felt while he was living, that’s for sure. He steps out, Baby’s door creaking in his wake as he opens and closes it. She slams shut just like the real thing and the sounds echo in the night. Somewhere in the distance, he can hear that river rushing through the valley.
It’s all so... real.
Dean takes a deep breath and blows it out—force of habit.
The Gas-N-Sip’s door has bells on it. They jingle, cheerfully announcing Dean’s presence. Nothing in the store moves, and compared to everything Dean’s experienced in Heaven so far, it almost feels airless. Something about this place isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s just the lack of weird smells and dirty floors, spilled milk and dripping nacho cheese that Dean’s come to associate with the inside of these types of joints, but it’s something.
Dean snaps his fingers, realization dawning. This Gas-N-Sip is a little too alien. It’s as if it was constructed by someone’s nostalgia and a too-perfect memory that can only come with never seeing something for what it truly is, only the meaning it holds for you. Just like that, he’s instantly positive that he’s in the right place.
“Cas,” he calls out, turning in a half-circle and surveying the small space critically. “C’mon, Cas, I know you’re here.” The cooler hisses, drinks rattling a little in their cages, and Dean raises an eyebrow.
“Hello, Dean.” The voice comes from behind him, from back by the cashier’s counter, and Dean—Dean is not prepared. Relief washes over him like a tidal wave, crushing him. He knew, knew Cas was here, knew that he needed to find him, to see him but—
God, it hurts. Everything he buried, everything he stuffed down deep inside so that he could keep going, keep going, keep going comes boiling up like a volcano. All that shit he told Sam about making their people’s sacrifices worth it, about continuing to go on saving people and hunting things—it was all so...so hollow. This, what he’s feeling right now, this is what was buried beneath.
He tried. Fuck, Dean tried so damn hard. He wasn’t suicidal, not exactly—he definitely wanted to live. Wanted to see the world, to experience things with all of their newfound freedom and free will. Get a job. Buy a house. Build something he could be proud of. But the thing Dean couldn’t—wouldn’t—admit, was that maybe all of that possibility stretching before him simply wasn’t enough. Maybe he didn’t actually want to do all that without the people he and Sam loved and lost by their sides.
Eileen, Cas. Jack. Jack, at least, Dean understood. Knowing that Jack was safe and that he really grasped the importance of allowing free will to reign instead of any one being in particular—that was an ending Dean could accept. But how—even before Cas declared his love in that big dumb way that he did, saving Dean’s life by offering up his own—how could he be expected to just... go on without his best friend?
The day to day slog in the bunker felt empty. Duller, grayer, less interesting, when it should have been the most exciting and hopeful time in Dean’s life.
It’s not that Dean gave up in that barn, on that last, doomed hunt with Sam. He didn’t—he couldn’t give up on his brother or the world, even if he tried. But being tired, being ready, being lonely and desperate for a something more that it was increasingly clear he could never have on earth—that’s a whole different ballgame altogether.
Two, five, eight years ago, Dean would have laughed wholeheartedly in the face of anyone who even suggested that a piece of rebar on a routine milk run would have been the thing that did him in. Rebar. By the equivalent of a—a bit part actor, nonetheless. After surviving Lucifer, Hitler, the Archangel Michael, the Darkness and God—fucking rebar.
Still. None of those other things ever had a chance at ending his run, because Dean wasn’t ready to stop.
This? This piece of rebar through the chest, on a mundane hunt in the middle of nowhere? It marked his time, because Dean was ready. Not suicidal, but ready. Rebar never could have done him in otherwise. It was true, what he said to Sam about not thinking that day would be the day, but on the other hand...he didn’t not think that, either.
Honestly, all he really thought about during those few, gray days, was Cas.
And now, he’s here. The hard part is over, Dean just has to...he has to turn around.
He swallows hard, allowing the tears gathering in his eyes to spill over, just a couple. Cas deserves to see that, deserves to know that Dean isn’t made of stone, isn’t ambiguous about him, never has been. Just because he didn’t know an Angel of the Lord was capable of feeling the same damn way—Jesus. It doesn’t change a damn thing.
He turns, and there Cas is. Standing on the employee’s side of the counter wearing that stupid purple and white striped shirt he had when he was human after the Fall. It’s topped with a blue Gas-N-Sip vest and a nametag, Steve. Dean chokes a little and has to duck his head because he just can’t fucking deal—Cas looks so alive, young and perfect, with his stupid messy hair and that eternally confused look on his face, the head tilt—
“Dean,” Castiel breathes, and he sounds devastated.
“Hey,” Dean replies, going for jovial and missing by a mile. He sniffles before dragging his sleeve across his nose (bodily fluids in Heaven? Someone’s gonna need to talk to Jack) and grinning what he’s sure is a crazy smile, considering all the emotions swirling in his body. Locking eyes with Castiel, Dean steps forward, but whatever he’d planned to say instantly goes flying out of his head. He’s adrift, on unsure footing and with no clue how to go about bridging this gap between them at all.
When in doubt, crack jokes.
“What’s my line, again?” He snaps his fingers, while Cas blinks and looks somewhat taken aback. “Right. I'll have some beef jerky and a pack of menthols.” Silence hangs heavily between them as Castiel stares blankly for a long second before moving to reach up and— “No, Cas, I was kidding. It was a joke. I—”
Castiel opens and closes his mouth twice before he looks away, pained. “You—I thought you’d be settling in with your parents, spending some quality time with Bobby. I know Ellen and Jo are anxious to see you as well, and many others.”
Dean’s smile drops off of his face immediately, stung. “You knew I was here? Didn’t come to meet me?” Without replying, Castiel fiddles with the buttons on the register and keeps his eyes averted. “Cas,” Dean continues, genuinely shocked. “Dude, why are you even here? In a fucking Gas-N-Sip?”
Even downcast, Castiel’s eyes narrow. “I like it here,” he replies defensively. “Working at the Gas-N-Sip made me feel useful as a human. I built this one myself.” That explains the too-perfect details, just as Dean suspected. “Working retail or food service is an experience everyone should have,” he continues. “When we restructured Heaven, Jack agreed. He thought it might teach the old-guard angels some humility to do exactly that. Naomi is currently serving as a hot dog vendor in a large construct of Disney World several hundred miles from here.” He tries to remain stoic, but Dean knows Cas, and he catches the subtle twist of his lips.
Holding up one hand, Dean rests the other on his hip. “Okay, we are definitely coming back to that, but Cas—that—that doesn’t explain why you didn’t want to see me.”
Letting out something that vaguely resembles a growl, Castiel shakes his head. “Do not put words in my mouth. I always—” He pauses and finally lifts his eyes to meet Dean’s. If he’s not mistaken, there’s a pinkish color tinging his cheeks, God help Dean. “I’m very pleased to see you. It’s—well, believe me when I say that there aren’t words.”
Dean nods thoughtfully, stepping forward so that his hips are flush against the counter. The racks of bubble gum press into his thighs uncomfortably as he leans even farther forward. “Cas,” Dean says slowly, deliberately so that Cas can’t accidentally misunderstand him again. “I came here to get you, and bring you home.”
Less than a foot away, Castiel’s eyes search his face, expression shifting from confused to hopeful to terrified and then—wary. Dean can’t blame him, it’s been a long goddamn road to get here.
“Bobby said you don’t have a place,” Dean continues. “You know. He’s got his cabin, Rufus and Aretha down the way, Harvelles have the roadhouse. He told me we just have to—imagine what we want and where, and boom, there it’ll be. Worked for Baby, so I’m thinkin’ he’s on to something. He also told me that you won’t. You know, create a home for yourself.” Dean pauses, licks his lips, doesn’t miss the way Castiel’s eyes dip down to them. “Told me all you do is wander from place to place. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you’re trying to get back to that whole memory-structure thing Heaven had going before.”
“I enjoy the places I’ve built,” Castiel retorts. “I have a park. This place. I have my truck and several motels that I enjoy freque—”
“Save it,” Dean cuts him off, waving a hand dismissively. Distracted, he grabs a zippo from the display and flicks it until he gets a flame. Grunting happily, Dean recaps the lighter and replaces it while Castiel continues to look on, bewildered. “Real fire,” he says excitedly. “That’ll be awesome for our place. Put a stone pit out back, have everyone over to drink around it? Definitely a fireplace inside, too, always wanted one of those. Only damn thing the Bunker was missing. Hey, what do you think about a pool? Only pool I’ve ever been in was a concrete hole at one of the dumps Dad left me and Sammy at when we were kids. Wait a minute—can you even swim? Or, better question, can you drown in Heaven?”
Dean breaks off from his rambling suddenly, flashing Castiel a wide smile and hoping beyond hope that he gets it, but Castiel just stares. “You...can have whatever it is you desire here, Dean,” he says cautiously.
“Yeah?” Dean replies, leaning on his elbow so that he’s as close to Castiel as he can get with the damn counter in the way. Now or never, he thinks. “What if the only thing I really want ain’t a thing at all?” Cas’ lips part and Dean can see him inhale sharply. “What if it’s a stubborn-ass former angel who told me he was in love with me and then jumped into the Empty before I could say it back?” Dean pauses. “Before I could tell him…”
Castiel’s eyes are so wide, and he’s pale as a ghost, which would be funny if Dean wasn’t trying to do something, here. “I didn’t think—”
“Yeah, yeah,” Dean replies, ducking his head. “I get it. You didn’t think I felt that way about you, I didn’t think you could. Listen, we’re already dead, so if it’s alright with you, can we just blow past this? Cas, can I just—Can I just tell you I love you, and we ride off into the sunset together? There’s a really goddamn nice one outside, and Bobby’s got beers on ice, and I swear, I’d be the happiest asshole this side of the Veil if you’d just sit with me on his porch and drink one.”
Before Dean has even a full second to wonder if his proposal has landed, Cas is halfway across the counter and in his arms. Big, warm hands framing his face, Castiel kisses him and kisses him and then kisses him some more. “I love you,” Cas murmurs between presses of lips. “I didn’t know if you wanted to hear it or be reminded, I thought for sure you’d prefer to forget—”
Cas’ insecurities make Dean clutch at him tighter, make him fist hands into his clothing and pull at his limbs desperately. Despite that, it’s not until he’s yanking Cas down onto the pristinely waxed linoleum, unwilling to sacrifice kissing him to continue all this stupid talking, that he discovers Cas’ clothes have changed. He shifts back out of pure surprise, winding up holding Cas at arm’s length just to drink in the familiar blue suit, tie, and trenchcoat.
“Oh,” Castiel says. “It’s—the Steve outfit is somewhat of a costume, I suppose. I always change back when I’m done here. It’s as simple as a thought.”
“Are you kidding me?” Dean bursts out. “Okay first of all—” He holds up one finger and closes his eyes. When he opens them, he glances down over his body and fist pumps in excitement. His Texas Ranger outfit from when they worked that case in Tombstone, complete with cowboy boots and hat, is flawless. “Oh, hell yes. A man could get used to this.” He smiles brightly at Castiel, who reflects his emotions back, albeit with a hint of amusement.
“Alright, just had to try that. But seriously, one more time.” This round, when Dean closes his eyes, he squeezes Castiel’s shoulder as he changes his own clothes back before working on Cas. The fabric of the trench coat shifts beneath Dean’s hand as he thinks, and when he opens his eyes, Cas looks a hell of a lot more touchable. “There,” Dean says proudly.
Castiel looks down, smoothing a hand over Dean’s favorite grey and black flannel, layered Winchester-style over a Led Zeppelin t-shirt and jeans. “You put me in your clothes,” he remarks, surprised.
“Should’ve done it a lot sooner,” Dean tells him seriously. Cas looks up from where he’s examining the jeans, and they’ve barely made eye contact before they’re falling together again. Dean drinks it in, all of it: the scratch of Castiel’s ever-present stubble, the softness of his lips, the tentative sweep of his unsure tongue. His hands—his goddamn hands all over Dean’s torso, grasping his hips, holding on like he’s afraid to let go. As much as he can, Dean tries to reassure him with action—holding Cas tight, threading a hand into his hair, kissing him back without fear or reservation.
When they break for air Dean supposes they don’t really need (although it feels as if they do), Castiel is red-flushed and swollen-lipped, just as Dean always fantasized he’d be in his dreams. As it turns out, his body works perfectly fine in Heaven, and if they don’t get moving soon, his and Cas’ first time is going to be in a goddamn construct of a Gas-N-Sip.
No friggin’ way. They’ve sacrificed so much, they’re not going to add that, too. At the very least, they can make it to Baby’s backseat, but Dean’s thinking big, fluffy, king-sized bed with extra pillows and blankets that feel like fuckin’ clouds. Hell yeah.
“So,” Dean says by way of segue, taking Castiel’s hand and leading him out the jangling front door of the store. “Tell me ‘bout what you’d want in a house.”
Castiel thinks for a moment and then, following him easily out to where Baby is parked, says thoughtfully, “I’ve always been interested in owning a dishwasher.”
Dean throws his head back and laughs.
They make that fire pit idea happen sooner rather than later, since Bobby has one crackling up a storm by the time Dean brings Baby’s roaring engine to a stop outside the cabin. There’s just enough light for him to be able to squint and make out several familiar faces gathered around—apparently, word’s spread about Dean’s arrival, and this is the welcoming committee.
As they exit Baby’s front seat and Dean rounds her trunk, Cas reaches out and grabs his sleeve, stopping him in his tracks. “I don’t need to be here,” he says softly. “I’m sure you want time to reunite with your family, your friends. Your mother and father, especially. It’s not the time to—”
“It’s the perfect time,” Dean cuts him off. Castiel looks like he’s going to protest, but Dean shoots him a warning look and holds his hand that much more tightly. “It’s the only time. We’re dead, Cas. If we don’t stop wasting opportunities now…”
“Point taken,” Castiel says quietly, but he’s smiling as Dean tugs him forward, towards the light. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t a little bit nervous—especially where it involves his father’s reaction—but everything he’s said to Cas is true, and Dean intends to stand by it. He’s earned a happy ending, even if it’s late, and Cas has earned the chance to be treated like someone who matters.
“Hey,” he says, stopping just short of stepping onto Bobby’s porch and turning to Castiel, cupping Cas’ face in his hand. “I love you,” Dean says.
Castiel’s smile widens, face nearly glowing in the refracted firelight. “You told me that,” he replies. “I love you, too.”
“Just makin’ sure we’re clear,” Dean says with a wink. “Let’s go.”
There’s an excited cheer of celebration as Dean approaches, and he responds by lifting Cas’ hand in the air, an unspoken declaration of, deal with it, bitches.
No one has a bad word to say about it, anyhow. Maybe things like hate and bigotry get filtered out in Heaven, or maybe Dean worried too much all along. Either way, everyone is too happy to see Dean to focus much on anything else. They’re too eager to hear about his adventures, to ask after Sam, to get the story of God’s defeat straight from the source. Cas’ presence, if anything, is treated as a bonus.
There are hugs all around, so much laughter, plus a lot of beer and a burger Ellen and Jo brought over from the Roadhouse. There’s Ash talking his ear off about the physics of Heaven these days (still way over Dean’s head), Pam pinching his ass, and Bobby calling him an “idjit” every chance he gets, like he’s trying to make up for lost time.
Dean’s mom stays glued to his side for hours, only eventually pried away by John, who shakes Castiel’s hand warmly and hugs Dean like Dean can’t ever remember him doing on earth. “I’m proud of you, son,” he says, and this time, Dean manages to believe it’s not a demon possessing him that’s saying so. John nods in Cas’ direction, over where Mary’s taken him to sit down next to the fire and talk. “You changed the whole world, Heaven too. You deserve every bit of happiness you can squeeze from this place.”
Dean feels something inside his chest loosen.
There are tons and tons of additional visitors, far more than the ones who would’ve made Dean’s shortlist. Endless groups of people that he helped at one time or another and people he wasn’t able to. Friends, not -friends, so many souls that all the faces begin to blur together in a bonfire-illuminated haze. It’s an endless amount of time later before Dean even realizes that he’s been acting the part of the groom in a receiving line after the wedding, or perhaps more appropriately, the family of the deceased at a funeral.
Bobby shoos the growing crowd off eventually, though, their shapes talking and laughing and melting into the night as they disappear in all directions. It’s to Dean’s extreme relief, though he tries his best not to let on (lest he seem ungrateful). Small talk was never his strong point in life, and his ability to hold a conversation about nothing hasn’t improved in death. Much as he enjoys being the star and regaling everyone with tales of the epic feats of heroism that brought him here, re-telling the same story with all its painful parts over and over isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.
Nor is looking longingly at Castiel across the fire, watching him deep in conversation with Mary and wondering whether they’re talking crap about him. Probably not, if the way Castiel’s expression melts into something soft when he glances up is any indication. Still, he’s never been happier than when his Mom and Dad call it a night too, telling Dean in no uncertain terms that he’s to bring Castiel by to visit as soon as they’re settled.
“Settled?” Dean repeats when he notices that Castiel’s appeared at his side.
“I may have indicated that we were considering cohabitating,” Castiel admits, twining their hands together.
“Considering?” Dean echoes, tipping his head to peer down the scant few inches into Castiel’s very-blue eyes.
“Tell Bobby goodnight,” Cas says, nodding in Bobby’s general direction, but the old man is already waving them off, and Dean is pretty sure going in for a hug would be pushing it. He opts to wave back instead, letting Castiel lead him over to the car as he does. “Pull back onto the road and turn right,” Castiel instructs once they’re inside, and while Dean might raise an eyebrow, he knows when to shut up and drive, so to speak.
“Got a destination in mind there, sunshine?”
Even in the dark, it’s obvious to Dean that Castiel is suppressing a smile. “Turn right again,” is all he says, when they come to a fork in the road. The path that Dean compliantly shifts them onto is more dirt than anything else, but Dean supposes he doesn’t need to worry about Baby doing a little off-roading in Heaven.
Above them, the stars are bright and shimmering, the moon oversized and nebulous, just the way Dean remembers it being the last time he was here. He wonders vaguely if the road is still the Axis Mundi, if such a thing even exists anymore, and if he followed it, would the path lead to Jack? The sky combined with those musings hits differently, a strange throwback that Dean isn’t entirely sure how to cope with. Castiel seems to sense his shift in mood, choosing that moment to scoot over and wind his arm into Dean’s.
“It’s a lot to take in, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Dean replies stiffly, before shaking his head. “Sorry, it’s just—”
“You have nothing to apologize for, nothing to explain. If you’ll just—over the hill here, take the next left.” Dean nods and continues to drive, winding them through what appears to be endless quiet countryside. Castiel points out Mary and John’s cabin when they pass it, the second floor lit warmly with a yellow light in one window. Somehow, that makes Dean feel more settled.
“And here, this drive,” Castiel instructs, when they come to the apparent end of the path a mile or so later. Navigating Baby carefully through a thicket of trees, Dean is unprepared for them to burst through the shrubbery into an open clearing that sits at the edge of a cliff. A small log and stone cabin with more windows than Dean would have thought a house could have sits proudly in the center. It’s beautiful, but it’s dwarfed completely by the view.
Even in the dead of night, with the glowing, shifting cosmos hanging high above, everything is visible. It’s the vacation spot Dean’s always wanted (minus the beach, but they’ll work on that), mountains and what he assumes is the continuation of the rushing river he saw down by Cas’ Gas-N-Sip beyond. Lush green forest, quiet splendor, and Cas by his side, holding his hand.
Fuck, Cas was right. This is a lot.
“It’s perfectly alright if you don’t like it, or if you want to make changes—nothing is permanent if you don’t wish for it to be.” Cas sounds somewhat hesitant, like he’s concerned Dean isn’t going to like his place.
Dean frowns, things they discussed earlier clicking into place in his head. “But wait—Cas, we talked about this, I thought you didn’t have—” Realization dawns in a rush and Dean swallows his gasp, closes his eyes against the flood of emotion. Too much goddamn emotion today, fuck. “You built this,” he says softly. “Tonight, for me. For us.”
“Is it too much?” Castiel asks. “We could—there’s a motel I enjoy nearby, and of course, I could go elsewhere. Jack probably needs—”
“Cas,” Dean cuts him off patiently, for the umpteenth time since they’ve been reunited. “I love it. At the risk of driving you away for saying something so cheesy you can’t stand to look at me ever again—”
“—The only thing I’m sure that I want to be permanent in this place is you, alright?” Dean lifts his arm to rest it on Baby’s seat, tipping his head so that he can look right at Cas curled next to him. He lights up. “Oh, and maybe a bar. Always wanted a bar.”
“Rocky’s,” Castiel says immediately, surprising Dean. “Yes, I remembered, from when Sam and I helped you lock Michael away. Jack and I already built a replica in town. I thought you might want something familiar when you arrived, although I didn’t intend to take credit.”
Dean knows his mouth is hanging open, and he can’t do a damn thing about it. “Sweetheart,” he says instead, voice full of appreciation, “If there was ever any doubt that you were getting laid tonight, hoo baby.” He wiggles his eyebrows.
In front of him, Castiel seems to undergo some sort of internal struggle between turning beet red and jumping Dean right then and there, but fortunately, the second wins out. All of a sudden, Dean finds his body pinned to the driver’s side window by six feet of former angel, and much as he knew he wanted this, the overwhelming relief of having it is still surprising.
Also surprising is how real Castiel feels in his arms. His skin is human-warm and when Dean sucks a kiss over his pulse point, it throbs with his heartbeat. Nerves seem to be working just fine, too, alighting and firing all the way down to Dean’s fingertips and toes. Dean’s moaning around Cas’ tongue down his throat and has Cas’ t-shirt rucked halfway up his abdomen when he finally grabs hold of his senses.
“Wait, wait,” Dean gasps, managing to place a hand in the middle of Cas’ (very firm, focus, Dean) chest. “Take me, take me—” It’s difficult to get the words out because Cas is relentless. His lips are still skating down Dean’s neck, teeth grazing at the collarbone Cas has pulled aside his t-shirt to reveal.
“Oh, I will,” he murmurs, as Dean finally manages to struggle upright, tugging Cas down into his lap where he—Jesus Christ—pouts. It’s a damn good thing they never worked this thing out before now, Dean would have been putty beneath that look, not great for maintaining focus on hunts.
Not that losing him worked out so great either, but—bygones.
“Inside,” Dean demands. “Gimme the nickel tour, and if you skip everything but the bedroom, I promise not to complain.”
Castiel grins, something feral that makes Dean ache for him even more, even as Cas pulls the door handle and sends Dean tumbling backward. Naturally, he takes Castiel with him, and they end up a tangled pile of arms and legs, laughing and elbowing each other on the ground. To Dean’s surprise, the dirt feels like dirt, and that makes him inordinately happy for reasons he can’t quite parse out at the moment.
“This is exactly how I pictured this, in case you were wondering,” Dean jokes as he sorts himself out and gets to his feet, reaching out a hand to tug Cas up with him. Cas just smiles, leans up to kiss Dean softly before booking it towards the front door.
It’s crazy nice inside, the kind of place Dean and his stolen-card-wallet could only dream about in his previous life, but in truth, he barely notices. Right now, he only has eyes for the angel—in all his essentially human, messy-haired, grace-less glory. The flannel Cas is wearing hangs carelessly off of one shoulder where Dean shoved it, and that pleases him immensely, making Dean even more anxious to get where they’re going.
Cas leads them through a high-ceilinged foyer, and past or through several other rooms which are—yes, definitely a house, Dean doesn’t care—until finally turning the handle of a door that leads to—fuck yes, this is what Dean was waiting for.
The master looks out over the spectacular view with huge windows and a balcony on the other side of sliding glass doors. There’s not much inside the room besides the biggest bed Dean’s ever laid eyes on, huge and plush, with way too many pillows. The bedclothes are crisp white, and the four-poster has gauzy curtains tied back and hot damn, Cas dreamed this up?
Not the time, but now, Dean can’t wait to see his bar.
“Cas,” he breathes, looking around in amazement, “this is fucking awesome.”
“I’m glad you think so,” Castiel replies almost shyly, having broken away from Dean to stand uncertainly by the bed. “I just—um.” He pauses, touching the cushiony spread with his fingertips and hesitating. “Do you still—”
Dean answers Castiel’s stupid question by tackling him down onto the bed. Now that they’re alone, now that they’re here, everything is starting to settle in more heavily. Even as he’s kissing Castiel quiet, tasting him on his tongue and feeling his body relax into his arms, Dean can’t help flashing back again on those horrible days where Cas was just... gone.
It makes him anxious to get closer, to fit himself to Cas’ body as tightly as possible. A part of him fears that even this is a dream, a trick, because he thought they’d damn well-proven that Winchesters do not get happy endings. Thankfully, Castiel’s all too happy to easily oblige Dean’s yanking at his clothing, the sliding of hands underneath shirts to push them away.
“You know that you can... mmph,” Castiel’s cut off once again as Dean kisses him tenderly, cups a hand around the back of his head and really tries to pour all of his feeling and emotion into the touch. “Will the clothes away,” Cas finishes, once he’s able, albeit slightly breathless.
Dean blinks down at him, somewhat offended. “Absolutely not,” he protests. “No fucking way am I losing out on undressing you, that’s the best part.” He runs teasing fingers down the side of Castiel’s rib cage, lingering on every bone and wanting to drown himself in the way Cas smiles. “Fuck,” he says softly. “Cas, I missed you so fucking much.”
Cas is in sort of an awkward predicament now, his right arm trapped inside the sleeve of his t-shirt, so he ducks underneath and pulls it and the flannel the rest of the way off while Dean “helps”. As soon as he’s freed, Dean dips down and lets his mouth graze across Cas’ chest, stopping to bite gently at his nipple, to which Cas presses into and moans his approval.
He stops, though, before anything can escalate again, dropping his forehead to Cas’ sternum and exhaling slowly. Dean can feel the warmth of his own breath, can taste the salt of Cas’ skin, and it all feels so real. So good. “I tried to keep going,” Dean admits softly, only to the neutral safe space of Cas’ chest. “Truth is, I didn’t want to do it without you.”
A hand strokes soothingly down his back, sifting the hair at the nape of his neck and then sliding in between his shoulder blades. Dean exhales again, the arm he has wrapped around Castiel’s waist tightening. “Guess we’ll never know,” he whispers. “If—what it’d be like, to share our lives.”
“You can’t think like that, Dean,” Castiel replies gently, continuing to pet over his back and shoulders. “I’ve been alive for the better part of eternity, in many different forms. I’ve experienced so many things, and the one thing I will say, is that it’s entirely unfair that you haven’t.”
Dean grunts noncommittally. That’s not the issue, from where he’s laying.
“However, I hope you understand how hard Jack and I worked to create this version of Heaven for you.”
Stilling completely, Dean takes a beat and then raises his eyes, finding himself staring deep into blue oceans that at the very least, are as sincere as they come. “Me? You mean...humanity. All of us.”
“Yes,” Castiel agrees, tipping his head side to side in a way that suggests he doesn’t. “All of humanity will benefit, of course. But Dean, Jack is your son and I am—I’m yours, Dean, and your happiness is the most important thing in the world to me.” Cas props himself up on his elbows so that he can lean their foreheads together. “Jack and I created this Heaven for you. With both space and access to all the people who are important to you, with endless places and experiences for you to discover and explore. Being able to manifest anything you want is only the beginning—Dean, there’s so much more.”
The expression on Castiel’s face is so earnest, so open, that Dean can’t help the tears welling up in his eyes again. “I didn’t know,” he says, a little hoarsely.
Castiel shrugs. “Now you do.” He takes Dean’s arm from where it’s wrapped around his waist and laces their fingers together. “And now that we have this, I’m hoping we can do a lot of that exploring together.”
If anyone asks later, Dean will deny it, but Cas saying those words releases the floodgates tentatively holding back his emotions. Pretty soon, he finds himself burying his very wet face into the crook of Castiel’s neck and sobbing openly. It’s rough. His tears are a mess of various things: anger over his fate, at everything Chuck took from them, at never getting to live with the one person who somehow found a way to love him back. Sadness over Sam, over losing Cas and everyone else, all jumbled together with fear, relief, even hope—
He’s never ripped the dam open like this before, never allowed himself the space to grieve and truly feel his emotions, to let them all out. But here, now? He has nothing to lose, and Cas—Castiel makes him feel safe. Cas built him an entire universe here, did everything he could to make up for the life Dean would never get to live, and that was before he knew Dean loved him back.
Cas did all of that for him thinking he’d get nothing in return, and that—that is why, emotional as Dean might be, he knows he’s going to be okay.
As soon as he feels like he’s done crying, as if by magic, the tears and other nastiness disappear like they were never there at all. While Dean was having his breakdown, Cas rolled them onto their sides at some point, so when Dean pulls back he’s looking directly into his eyes once again. “I love you,” Dean says plainly. “You believe me?”
Cas’ eyes crinkle at the corners and he leans forward to press his mouth chastely against Dean’s. “Of course, Dean,” he says, settling back atop the fluffy comforter with a contented sigh. “Do you feel better?”
“This bed is really fucking nice,” Dean comments off-handedly, pointedly ignoring the question while letting his palm drag over the soft material. Thankfully, Cas lets it go. Dean knew he loved him.
“You’re welcome,” Cas says with a wink, and Dean’s jaw drops open a little.
“You’re sassy when you’re getting what you want.”
“Yes,” Castiel agrees, leaning forward to kiss Dean again. This time, he tests the waters but doesn’t hesitate to dive in, just as soon as Dean gives him the green-means-go. This kiss is the opposite of chaste and he doesn’t stop, and Dean couldn’t dream of trying to stop him.
“Love you, Cas,” Dean says against his mouth, because apparently, now that he’s pulled the band-aid off, he can’t fucking stop. “Love you.”
“Show me,” Castiel replies, pressing Dean onto his back and straddling his hips like a goddamn natural. He breaks the kiss with a pop and sits up, touching two fingers to his own lips and flicking out his tongue in a move that makes Dean drool a little. “A thought,” he begins. “I know what you said about undressing, however—”
“‘Nough said,” Dean replies, closing his eyes for a moment and only opening them when the silky feel of Castiel’s skin is pressing flush against his own everywhere they’re touching. Cas’ warm thighs bracketing Dean’s hips, two palms sliding up his chest, lips caressing his jaw, and—oh, fuck yes.
Dean gets a hand in between them, closing it around Cas’ cock with great satisfaction. The only thing more satisfying than the satin heat in his palm is the noise Cas purrs into his ear. The low, groaning hum that vibrates against Dean’s own throat when Cas can’t even keep himself upright any longer.
He lets Cas kiss him, sloppy and slightly missing the mark this time as Cas comes undone with just a few easy strokes. It’s a beautiful thing to watch, a little overwhelming, actually. To be here, in their comfortable bed in Heaven, to be safe and together and—fuck, he can say it—in love, it’s just—
Maybe Dean is one of the lucky ones, after all.
With Castiel quickly growing lost to the pleasure, Dean flips them again, working his way between Cas’ thighs so that he can grind down against him. This may not be a particularly long event or in any way complicated, but Dean is extremely content to just enjoy the ride.
“Let me tell you,” Dean murmurs in Castiel’s ear, trailing kisses just underneath and along his jaw as he gets a hand around both of them at the same time. Cas hums his permission, eyelids fluttering as his hips work unconsciously against Dean’s, hand coming to rest at the small of Dean’s back. “About all of the things I want to do with you. Guess we got until infinity to try everything out, no rush.”
“Tell me,” Castiel manages, arching his back so that his chest presses against Dean’s, hot and slick and delicious. Dean’s free hand wanders, touching everything he can reach, exploring the curve of muscles and the angles of planes—everything—he wants to know, to remember it all.
He sucks an open-mouthed kiss to the left of Cas’ nipple, where a lone freckle tempts him to add his own mark. “Want you to fuck me with your fingers,” he says. “Wanna bend you over and lick you open, keep going until you beg for more. Want you to hold me right here in this bed, wrap your arms around me and fuck me slow and deep from behind, wanna pull your hair and get your legs over my shoulders and—”
“You’ve thought about this,” Castiel says, words punched out with a breathy laugh. His eyes are glassy and his breath has quickened, but he’s still smiling and he’s still curling a hand around Dean’s head, holding him close. Dean belatedly realizes that his own hand is in an awkward as hell position that should definitely have gone numb by now but—nope. If that’s a Heaven thing, Dean’s liking this place better and better with each passing minute.
Cas under him, breathing into his space, looking relaxed and blissed out as he rolls his hips into Dean, is nearly enough to have Dean tumbling over the edge. He tries to hold on—hold out—for as long as possible, because this is Heaven. It is, it’s everything Dean wasn’t entirely sold on when he first got here, it’s all the love and acceptance in the world, and so much goddamn more than just sex.
But it’s sex, too, and it’s not very far removed from the way it works on earth (although they should definitely push those boundaries—they have time). Not to mention, a naked Cas writhing beneath him is Dean’s twelve-year wet dream come to life. He’s hard as he can ever remember being and dripping all over the damn place, so when Castiel tenses and closes his eyes and comes luxuriously stretching and clutching at Dean, Dean’s name rolling sinuously off of his lips like a prayer, Dean is done for.
The heat boiling and rolling around in his stomach and at the base of his spine explodes, and all Dean can do is hold the fuck on and cling to Cas like the miracle he is.
He’s dizzy and barely-conscious for the aftermath, but Cas doesn’t leave his side and somehow they both end up not sticky and very clean, so Dean once again decides that Heaven is pretty okay.
He curls into Cas’ outstretched arm, head pillowed on his chest, legs tangled beneath the covers. Covers? Where did those come from? Dean dismisses the question, focusing on drawing lazy trails on Cas’ tan belly with his index finger while he gazes out the window at their view.
“Looks familiar,” he half-slurs, eyes not fully open. “The mountains. ‘S’it Vancouver?”
“What?” Castiel replies, startled. “It’s Heaven, Dean, not Vancouver. I wasn’t aware you’ve even been to Vancouver.”
“I haven’t,” Dean replies sleepily. “Saw a picture one time.”
Castiel pats his head. “Sleep, Dean,” he says. “It’ll all be here. I’ll be here.”
“People sleep in Heaven?”
“People do whatever makes them happy in Heaven,” Castiel replies vaguely. “You were never able to truly rest in life. It’s no surprise that you would want to sleep here.”
Dean yawns, fighting against the darkness closing in, but maybe not as hard as he could. Cas isn’t wrong, and if he’s going to be Dean’s pillow…
“Sleep,” Cas insists again. “I’ll watch over you.”
“Yeah,” Dean replies, snuggling down against him and listening to the beat of his heart (how?). “Love you, Cas.”
“I love you, too.”
It’s silent for a moment, save for the gentle rustling of a warm breeze, moving curtains on doors that Dean didn’t realize were even open. “Hey,” Dean pipes up. “Guess happiness is in the having too, huh, tough guy?”
Castiel chuckles, squeezing Dean’s shoulder before dropping a kiss to the top of his head. “Who knew it could be that simple?”
He waits a beat, but there’s something still bothering Dean. “Cas?” he ventures, suddenly feeling awake again. “What will happen when it’s Sam’s time?”
It’s Cas’ turn to be silent, but pretty soon he’s resuming stroking Dean’s back reassuringly. “When Sam’s life on earth is coming to a close, Jack will let us know, and you’ll go to meet him. You’ll pick him up in Baby and bring him back here, and we’ll explain everything. We’ll have a big party, like we did tonight, and everyone will welcome him home. What comes next—well, I suppose that’s up to Sam, isn’t it? We’ll have to wait and see. Whatever happens, we’ll be here.”
Dean nods into Castiel’s chest. “Yeah,” he says. “We’ll be here.”