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oh sooner or later it all comes down to faith

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Getting used to Heaven is something of a marvel. It ain't perfect, and Dean thinks he'd hate it if it was, which is probably why it isn't. There's just enough human-esque nuances to it that keep it feeling like life rather than death, and he's thankful for that because he's got the smallest inkling that he should have gotten to live a little longer than he did. 

 

Ah, well, what the hell, right? He's here, and that's that on that. No point in dwelling on it. 

 

Being here—Heaven—has its own little complications that he has to adjust to. Sam pops up pretty quick, which is nice, but Dean isn't exactly eager to get back to the crowd waiting for them back "home". He has too many things bouncing around in skull, things involving Cas and his dad and people who are here in Heaven only because he'd inadvertently gotten them killed—or semi-advertently in some cases. 

 

There must be some magical sprinkle of peace that Jack tosses into Heaven because, shockingly, things go rather smoothly. All the reunions are nice and easy, happy tears only, and it's like all the awkwardness and anxiety and pain that comes with living as an earthly being just doesn't exist here. It isn't all the way around perfect or anything, because there are some hiccups, but Dean figures that he gets off light as far as how easy things go, all things considered. 

 

The only thing is, Cas isn't around. 

 

Dean expects him to show up, to at least show his face, but Cas doesn't. And so, Dean corners Jack. 

 

He says, "Where is Cas?" and Jack hesitates before muttering, "I don't think he wants to see you, Dean," and Dean responds, "I don't care." 

 

Jack is Jack, though—a kid still, through and through—so Dean convinces him to tell him where Cas is, which just so happens to not be too terribly far from where Bobby lives, where everyone is lingering at. Dean promptly hops into Baby while ignoring everyone asking him what the fuck he's doing and where the hell he's going. Sam's the only one who doesn't ask a damn thing, watching with a small smirk and a wave as Dean burns rubber and leaves the flabbergasted group behind. 

 

Cas is found out by a very familiar lake, sitting out on the deck with his feet dangling over the water, and Dean marches right up to plop down next to him. Funnily enough, Cas startles, looking over at him in surprise, and Dean considers shoving Cas into the lake for being so stupid. 

 

Cas, in a very resigned tone, says, "Hello, Dean."

 

Dean suddenly finds a lump forming in his throat. Not one that suggests he might cry, but the kind of lump that gets lodged when your breath catches and creates a small pocket of air that feels solid, all because you've forgotten how to breathe. He tries to say, "Hey, Cas," and finds that he can't. He tries to say absolutely anything, and does not manage it. 

 

So, maybe there's not some sprinkle of magic in Heaven. Maybe everyone cultivates their own experience here, and Dean just isn't hoping this will go well hard enough. Fucking fantastic. He'd like for this to go well, but he's not gonna hold his breath. On purpose. The fact that he can't actually breathe at all because Cas said hello after saying goodbye is something else entirely. 

 

Cas doesn't look at him, but the relaxed expression on his face before Dean joined him is gone. Now, he's just frowning at the water. There's a tension between his eyebrows, a small wrinkle there that he can't seem to help. Dean is studying it, trying to measure how this reunion is going to go off that one detail, and it takes him a long moment to realize that he's just staring at Cas without speaking. 

 

"Hey, Cas," Dean finally responds, clearing his throat. There's an undeniable weight of awkwardness between them. He glances over his shoulder at the house behind them—it has an overhang roof and a porch with one rocking chair that is the kind all respectable, ridiculous church-going southerners have owned at least once in their lives. "Nice place you got there." 

 

"Thank you," Cas says quietly, still just watching the ripples on the lake. He doesn't look embarrassed, or angry, just...pensive. 

 

Dean doesn't feel the need to talk about everything, not so soon. He just wants… Well, he wants to secure a chance to talk about things. He thinks that they have to hash things out from when they were alive before anything else, because they have a lot of shit between them they need to figure out. But there's no rush. There doesn't have to be a rush. Time is weird here, and there's no expiration date. 

 

Their time has already run out. 

 

It makes him wonder what the hell he's going to do for the rest of eternity. There's no Hunting here. There's nothing to hunt. Sam has already made it a point to ask Jack how one comes by a place because he's eager to have a home waiting whenever Eileen arrives. Charlie has mentioned that she volunteers to help the people in Heaven who never owned laptops or phones in their time how to manage technology, claiming that it's something of a job. Bobby has a vegetable garden, and Rufus spends most of his free time trying to steal his fresh cabbage, which is sort of a hobby, Dean guesses. 

 

Some people don't do anything, from what he sees. Others run restaurants, or garages, or things that can't actually be necessary in Heaven. It's just something to do for the people who prefer having it. Dean's going to be one of those people; he just knows that, deep down in his bones. He lived longer than he ever expected to, but he sure as shit didn't get to do much living. 

 

Life without hunting… That's going to be hard. You don't kill things in Heaven. You just don't, and that's a pretty fucked up thing to be worried about missing. Dean's gonna have to do something else. Anything else. Some new hobbies to feel useful, to give him structure, to let him do something. 

 

He wonders what Cas is doing. 

 

"So, uh…" Dean clears his throat and throws Cas a cautious glance. "Whatcha been up to?" 

 

"Up to," Cas repeats, as if this is a foreign concept to him. He squints at the lake, still not looking directly at Dean. 

 

"Yeah. You know, you've been here—what? I don't really know how time works in Heaven, actually. But, I mean, what have you been doing for however long you have been here?" Dean asks. 

 

Cas' eyes open a bit, losing the squint. "Ah. Well, I oversee reconstruction. Heaven was not...suitable by any standards. I helped Jack fix it." 

 

"So, you're like an architect?" Dean muses, eyebrows raising slowly, impressed despite himself. "Bobby kinda said something like that, but—well." 

 

"Something like that," Cas allows quietly. 

 

Dean coughs. "Seems like an important position, man. Pretty—um, pretty high up there. Is there, like, a team for it, or…?" 

 

"No," Cas says. "I made the designs. Jack followed them. It was very simple." 

 

"Oh, wow. So, you just—you created everything up here, huh?" Dean mutters, blinking rapidly. 

 

Cas shakes his head. "No. It's not exactly architecture, Dean. Designing isn't...building. It's more about strategy and engineering. The structural integrity of Heaven before remodeling wasn't sufficient. Jack didn't like it. He wanted it to be different. He is, however, only three years old, so he noted that perhaps he wasn't the best candidate for coming up with the new design. Rather than reliving your happiest memories, or living only with those you came to love in life, I...had a different idea." 

 

"Which was?" Dean asks. 

 

"The beauty of life is in living," Cas murmurs, face softening. "The beauty of living is that everyone does it differently. Reliving the same happy memories blocks the chance to make more. Living only with those you loved in life removes the opportunity to love others. People have an ingrained desire to survive, to continue on and live, because dying is being taken away from the comfort of humanity. My idea was freedom. Free will. Heaven is not that much different from Earth, just without all the minor inconveniences that come with life." 

 

Dean takes in a deep breath, holds it for a long moment, then lets it explode out of him. "Well, damn. That's—that's pretty fucking amazing, Cas. What minor inconveniences do you mean, though?" 

 

"The necessities of life on Earth aren't necessary, but the option remains available." Cas tilts his head a little. "You can eat, but you don't have to. The same with sleeping. Anything you could possibly want is simply given to you. Things you eat or drink remind you of specific memories. Places you've been that are significant are places you can go to again. You could want a sandwich, and it will appear; or, if you'd prefer to make it, that choice is there as well. Heaven adapts to your personal desires, and it will do so naturally. A subconscious thing. Freedom." 

 

"Huh." Dean blinks rapidly. "And I'm guessing bad shit just...doesn't happen here? Like, Baby will never break down. People can't kill each other. No one ever gets lost or stranded. Shit like that, right?" 

 

"Precisely," Cas agrees. 

 

"Nice," Dean acknowledges. 

 

Cas' lips twitch. "Yes, I thought so." 

 

"Sam said something about wanting a house for him and Eileen," Dean says. "So, just because he wants it, he'll get it? That simple?" 

 

"He can't force her to be there, but yes. When she arrives, if she wants to stay and he wants her there, it will become her home that adapts to her own subconscious wishes as well." Cas looks over his shoulder, surveying his own house. "I did not think I would have a preference for a home, but I find myself partial to this one." 

 

"The wind chimes are a nice touch," Dean admits, joining Cas in looking. He squints, trying to peer into a window. What would Cas' house look like on the inside—a home untouched by Winchesters, a home of his own design. 

 

Cas hums. "Thank you. I have a rock garden in the back. A hammock, too." 

 

"Give me a tour, man," Dean mutters, rolling his eyes. "Show off all your cool shit." 

 

"If you insist," Cas says dryly, but he dutifully pushes to his feet, heaving a sigh as he stands. 

 

Dean follows him up, distantly pleased by the sound of his knees popping—something achingly familiar to him—but there's no actual pain. 

 

There's something truly odd about that, about how there's damage that can feel like home to him. He would not be himself if his knees didn't creak or pop, because he cannot remember a time they didn't—his knees were shot to shit before he was even twenty-five with all the hunting he did. It's a remembered ache, an intricate brokenness that he has adapted to so well that it pings as necessary and nostalgic in Heaven. How strange. 

 

Cas doesn't immediately head for the house. Instead, he stands right there on the deck and looks at Dean while trying (and failing) to not look at Dean. His efforts are so painfully obvious that Dean's heart pangs in sympathy. He gets it—wanting to look at someone, talk to them, be okay enough that neither of those things feel impossible. This must be so hard on him. 

 

Dean reaches out and puts his hand on Cas' shoulder, drawing his gaze. For a beat, they stare at each other, not saying a word. Then, promptly and with no warning, Dean pushes Cas into the lake. 

 

Whatever tension had been mounting between them cracks the moment Cas hits the water with a splash, and he comes up sputtering and pissed off. Dean laughs, watching while Cas drags himself back onto the deck, sopping wet and glaring at Dean like he wants to kick his ass. And that is—well, that's pretty nice, actually. Cas' shoes squelch when he stands, his trenchcoat going from the color of sand to a darker beige. His hair is plastered to his forehead, dripping into his eyes. He looks ridiculous. 

 

In between one blink and the next, Cas is dry. Completely and utterly. Man, Heaven sure as shit has its perks, or whatever the fuck. 

 

"That," Dean declares, "was for dying on me. Again." 

 

Cas looks contrite immediately, his gaze darting to the side. "Dean, I—" 

 

"Shut up," Dean says shortly—too sharp, too harsh, and Cas does. After a moment, Dean clears his throat and looks back to the house. "So? The tour?"

 

Cas' house isn't too big, or too flashy. Dean's first thought when he gets closer to it is that it's cozy. Going up the steps to the porch, Dean pauses when Cas does, confused because Cas is. He follows Cas' gaze to the two rocking chairs, not understanding why they've grabbed Cas' attention, but before he can ask, Cas just shakes his head and opens the door. Dean shrugs it off and follows after him. 

 

Immediately in the door, there's a small hallway that leads into the living room. There are plants peppered around the open area, not obtrusive, just there. Everything seems sensible—reasonably sized TV, normal couch (though the color is horrible), and there's a rug in front of a fireplace that looks inviting in a way Dean won't think about. There seems to be a sense of clutter, but the satisfying kind where everything sort of has a place—books on shelves, a record player in the corner, a decent sized nook shaped out with pillows and comfortable lighting. It looks… Well, it looks pretty cozy. 

 

"The kitchen is through here," Cas murmurs, passing by a table with a stack of records on it. 

 

Dean follows, but he nearly jumps out of his skin when the records on the table wobble in place. For a second, he thinks he's nearly knocked them over, but no, the stack has just grown. Cas doesn't seem to notice, so Dean doesn't ask. 

 

Cas' kitchen is also sensible. It's not extravagant, but it isn't dingy either. He has open cabinets, just shelves with no doors, and there are small plants lining the windowsill behind the sink that looks into the backyard—all the tiny pots are different colors, like a little rainbow. The table can sit four, and it's made of what appears to be sturdy wood, a deep brown that offsets the neutral colors of the room (of the whole house, really) very nicely. 

 

"What kinda drinks do you got?" Dean asks, heading right for the fridge. Before he can even open the door, there's a few clinks from the inside, and he raises his eyebrows. When he does peer into the fridge, there's a row of beers—his favorite brand. 

 

"Oh," Cas says, very quietly. 

 

Dean snorts and grabs a beer. "Dude, Heaven is great. Watch this taste like the time me and Sammy sat up all night on my birthday and drank for hours. We laughed so hard we cried." 

 

It doesn't, actually. It tastes like the time he sat out on Baby underneath a stretch of stars in some bumfuck town, leaning against her hood, feeling calm and settled as he so rarely did. The beers had been cold from the chill in the air, and he'd fallen asleep right outside, waking up with pink cheeks and a numb nose. It was some of the best sleep he ever got, no matter how cold he was. 

 

"Damn, that's good," Dean mutters, shaking his head ruefully and turning to Cas. "So, is this it? No other rooms? You could have a whole movie theater if you wanted, right?" 

 

Cas hums. "I could, yes, but I have no need for one. I have a bathroom and a bedroom as well, obviously."

 

"Obviously," Dean echoes, faintly amused. He sits his beer down, sweeping out a hand. "Well? Go on, lead the way. The tour ain't over yet." 

 

"No, I suppose not," Cas murmurs. 

 

Cas leads him back through the living room, and he once again pauses for a moment—less confused, but seeming...stalled by something. He's staring at the couch, so Dean stares at it, too. Maybe he was too quick to judge it, because it actually doesn't look bad anymore. The shade of it is different, so it must have been a trick of the light before. 

 

Shaking his head, Cas walks across the room and down the opposite hall. There are two doors across from each other—right across, as if for convenience sake. Cas opens the left first, stepping back to let Dean peer inside. It's the bathroom. 

 

The biggest part of the room is the shower. Dean's eyebrows fly up in surprise. It could surely fit two people at least, and it has wrap-around showerheads, all that can be picked up and manipulated. Dean wonders if Cas' shampoo and soap smells like memories, or just something normal. He doesn't ask, though, somehow sure that it's inappropriate. 

 

The sink has a little case with a toothbrush sticking out of it, and there's a comb sitting on the edge of the porcelain. A mirror is at perfect height above the sink, and it looks like one of the kinds that open to a hidden compartment inside. There are towels and rags hanging up, once again in a bunch of different colors, like a splash of rainbow to decorate the cool, neutral colors of the room. 

 

Dean steps out, easing the door shut. There's a clink like something dropping into a cup, and he pauses, poking his head back in. He frowns, scanning the room, but he can't tell what's different, not at first. It takes him a second, and then he's confused why Cas would need a second toothbrush. A sudden urge to clean? He's a weird dude, whatever. 

 

"You know, you can tell a lot about a person by their bedroom," Dean muses as Cas moves to the other door, opening it and walking in. 

 

Cas eyes him over his shoulder. "Yes, I know." 

 

For a second, Dean forgets to take in the room at all. Cas is looking at him strangely—which, that isn't new, exactly, but this is a little different. He's watching Dean closely, a curious glint in his eyes, a frown of muzzled confusion on his face. It's like Dean has done something that he's trying to figure out, but Dean hasn't done anything. Probably? Shit, he doesn't know. He's always doing something. 

 

Dean clears his throat and tears his eyes away from Cas, scanning his room instead. Once again, it's sensible. More plants—only two, and they liven up the room somehow, not overtaking the space. There's an open closet with what appears to be a genuinely depressing amount of clothes to one half of it. This isn't too much of a surprise. Cas is still in his trenchcoat getup, even in Heaven, and his closet only seems to hold a handful of jeans and t-shirts and what looks to be two different hoodies. There's a glaring absence of flannel. 

 

The bed isn't big—a twin, just enough to fit Cas comfortably. It does look good, though. Cas must appreciate a fine place to sleep, because Dean's pretty sure that it's a memory-foam mattress, and there's at least three extra pillows than required. To the side of the bed, there's a nightstand with a book on it, but that's it. In the corner, there's a desk with a closed laptop, what looks to be a notebook, and a mug of pencils and pens and markers. 

 

Otherwise, the room is simple and...cozy. Everything about this whole house is just cozy. Dean doesn't know why he's surprised that it's like this, that Cas appreciates simplicity and things geared towards his comfort rather than a place that looks expensive or nice. The place isn't themed. There's not necessarily any structure here—everything is just comfortable. 

 

"Well, I—" Dean cuts himself off at the sound of a heavy thud, head whipping back towards the bed in surprise. On the other side of it, there's suddenly a second nightstand. He blinks. "What the hell?" 

 

"Oh," Cas says again, eyebrows furrowed. 

 

"Cas, is your…" Dean squints, staring at the bed in mounting confusion. "Is your bed getting bigger?" 

 

Cas clears his throat. "Ah...it would appear so, yes."

 

Dean sends him a sharp look. "Really, dude?" 

 

"It isn't me," Cas snaps, narrowing his eyes. 

 

"It—what?" Dean blinks, losing some of his edge. He'd been under the assumption that Cas was making his bed bigger for, ah, availability—a subconscious desire, maybe, because Dean is here in his room. Unspoken things aside, if Cas isn't doing it, who the fuck is? 

 

"Dean," Cas says slowly, "you—you know that you're welcome here, don't you?" 

 

"Uh," Dean mumbles, freezing. He had known, he supposes. More unsaid things, yeah, but it's not like Cas would just kick him out, even without—well, the confession. "I mean, yeah, I kinda figured." 

 

Cas stares at him for a beat, then releases a soft exhale. "Do you remember what I said about Eileen living with Sam, if she wants to?" 

 

When she arrives, if she wants to stay and he wants her there, it will become her home that adapts to her own subconscious wishes as well. 

 

Dean blinks. He blinks again. No. Surely not. This isn't—he wouldn't. There's no way he showed up in Cas' house and just— 

 

Cas doesn't need a second toothbrush. 

 

Goddammit. 

 

It's Dean's turn to quietly say, "Oh." 

 

Dean is unintentionally changing everything because he has apparently come to the decision that he's going to be living here. That's pretty incriminating. Dean isn't really sure if that's something he wants to be aware of, but Heaven architecture obviously doesn't give a shit about the delicate issues in his head. 

 

Anyway, the rather blunt, over-the-head blatantness of Cas' bed going from a single to a queen makes Dean grimace and look to the ceiling to berate his very fucking obvious subconscious. Well, at least he knows that Cas has to want him here for any of this to even be happening, so that's...helpful. Okay, it's not, because Cas has already done his whole Love Confession thing, so the only person who has to figure their shit out here is Dean. 

 

Fan-fucking-tastic. 

 

"Heaven is geared towards your...wants, Dean," Cas murmurs. "If this is what you truly want, you're not going to get other options. Unless you're also wanting a second home, this is...all you've got." 

 

"Awesome," Dean says weakly. He stares at the bed, a lump in his throat. "Can I at least get my own room? Jesus fucking Christ." 

 

Cas clears his throat. "If you wanted one, there would be one. There...isn't." 

 

"I don't want to sleep with you," Dean mutters, reaching up to scrub a hand over the side of his face, willing the bed to suddenly split into two. It remains stubbornly one bed, a side clearly just for him. 

 

"Apparently you do," Cas retorts. 

 

Dean cuts him a sharp look. "Fuck you, I don't." 

 

"Then sleep on the couch," Cas tells him, his tone flat and bland. "I don't care." 

 

"Wait, I'm—" Dean lunges forward to catch Cas' arm as he pivots to leave, swallowing a groan. He blows out an explosive breath and grimaces. "Shit. Shit. Sorry, just—I'm sorry, okay? Gimme a second." 

 

There isn't a second to be given, however, because there's a small thump on the bed, like something falling on the covers. They both turn to stare, neither of them saying a word at the would-be innocent bottle of lube just casually waiting. There is absolutely nothing innocuous about it, and Dean drops Cas' arm like it's scalding. 

 

"Dean," Cas starts. 

 

"Was that you or me?" Dean chokes out. 

 

Cas stares at him, then arches an eyebrow. "Perhaps it was both. Don't be alarmed." 

 

"I'm alarmed. I'm so fucking alarmed," Dean declares, staring at the lube like it's going to grow legs and attack him. "I should—I want to leave." 

 

The door slams shut. 

 

"No, you don't," Cas says knowingly. 

 

Dean closes his eyes. "Shit." 

 

"You should relax," Cas suggests, though it's more of an order. He sighs and moves over to the bed, scooping up the lube like its meaningless, swinging around to put it in his nightstand drawer. After closing it, he turns and gestures to the bed, his eyebrows raised. "Sit down." 

 

"On the bed?" Dean wheezes. 

 

Cas rolls his eyes. "Yes, Dean, on the bed. I'm not going to do anything untoward. Calm down." 

 

"Maybe I want you to. Subconsciously. Who the fuck knows?" Dean blurts out, a little hysterically. He moves over to the bed anyway, sinking down on the edge of it. "Fuck, I don't even know!" 

 

"Okay," Cas says, then moves over to sit down next to him with a sigh. "Let's not—discuss that right now. Instead, tell me what you want to do in Heaven. I presume you won't wish to do nothing." 

 

Dean swallows. "Right. No, I wanna—well, I guess I want to do something. I just don't know what." 

 

"Heaven might know," Cas muses. "Do you have any ideas, or anything you wanted to do before you—" 

 

When Cas cuts himself off with a violent clack of his teeth, Dean grimaces and blurts the first thing that pops into his mind. "I wanted to own a bar, once." 

 

"You can do that here," Cas tells him. 

 

"Wanna help?" Dean asks, before he can think about why he shouldn't. He immediately wants to drop his head in his hands as soon as the words leave his mouth. This is getting worse and worse. 

 

"If you'd like," is all Cas says. 

 

"Sam isn't going to be living here," Dean mumbles, staring down at his fingers. He curls them into a fist, taking a deep breath. "I've never—well, I can barely remember a time that I wasn't living with Sam." 

 

"I'm sure he'll be close by. Unless he has the desire to be far away from you, I wouldn't be surprised if his home is just...up the road," Cas tells him. 

 

"Yeah, but still. He's not going to be here. It's just me and you, man," Dean says, glancing at him. 

 

Cas frowns. "I can't erase your desires, Dean, not even to save you the discomfort of acknowledging them. Whether or not you realized them before—" 

 

Again, Cas snaps his mouth shut, nostrils flaring, and Dean winces. Ah, hell. "Cas," he says cautiously, hesitant, "I know you're pissed, okay? I know that. I get it. I'm pissed at you, too. But what good does it do to be mad at each other for dying when we're already dead? It's—it is what it is, man." 

 

"Time and time again," Cas whispers, his voice shaking with the ferocity in it, "I have done things to protect you, to keep you alive, to—and I'm gone for a few months, so you just die? Do you have any idea how frustrating it is, Dean? You should have gotten more time. You deserved—you—" 

 

"Okay, okay, stop it," Dean says, hushed. He knocks his knee into Cas', drawing his gaze—bright blue and utterly furious. "Come on, Cas, don't do that. Life ain't fair, ya know? It's just...not. I had way more time than I ever expected to get." 

 

"Time you spent as a warrior for the world, rarely getting the chance to live for yourself," Cas snaps. 

 

Dean clears his throat. "Yeah, well, that's… Whatever, it's fine. I'm not upset about it. Sammy had a good life. And I have eternity to do whatever the fuck I want." 

 

"You deserved that on Earth. You deserved a good life. Out of everyone, you earned that." Cas makes a small sound of frustration, a raspy grunt in the back of his throat. "You saved the world, Dean, in so many ways. Do you understand that?" 

 

"Well, hey, so did you," Dean says weakly. 

 

Cas fixes him with an intense look. "You can take the credit for every good thing that I ever did for the world. It is only because of you that I came to care enough to do so. You saved the world in this way as well, by simply being you, because I—" 

 

He doesn't say it. He snaps his mouth shut yet again, but Dean hears it anyway. He can practically see Cas' mouth shaping the words. Because I love you. 

 

"Yeah, well, you saved my ass more times than I can count, so it's—it evens out, whatever." Dean clears his throat and looks down at his hands again. He can feel his own face twisting into anger. "And that last stunt you pulled? Cas, you don't—you have no fucking clue how much I wanna beat your ass." 

 

"I'm sure," Cas says, flat and toneless. 

 

"Fuck you," Dean spits, swiveling around to glare at him. "You don't just do shit like that to people. You didn't deserve to go out like that. You earned—you should have had a different ending." 

 

Cas looks at him, defiance curving the set to his jaw, eyes flashing. "It is what it is, Dean." 

 

"That's not the same." Dean releases a huff through his nose like an agitated bull. "That's not even close to what happened to me. I know why you did it. I know why you had to say what you did. I—I get it. We were gonna die, so you summoned the Empty to lower the number of casualties, but that isn't good enough for me. I would have preferred to die, do you get that? I coulda went my whole life not feeling as fucked up as I did after you—after—" 

 

"It was what I wanted," Cas murmurs when Dean falters. "I wanted to save you, and I did. I do not regret giving you the extra amount of time that I did, no matter how short it turned out to be. I made the choice to do it then, and I would do it still." 

 

"I didn't know how to get back up," Dean whispers, closing his eyes. "I wouldn't have, if Sam didn't need me. And—and eventually, even that wasn't enough. I was just so tired. I barely fucking remember everything that happened after. It all just feels like a blur. I was going through the motions, I think, and it wasn't bad, exactly, but it wasn't—it wasn't right either. I dunno. It's bad enough when you would kick the bucket without saying the shit you did, but that time, with what you said… It was fucked, man." 

 

"I am sorry for your—discomfort," Cas says. 

 

Dean opens his eyes, turning to stare at him. "My discomfort. You're sorry for my discomfort." 

 

"Well," Cas mumbles awkwardly, "yes?" 

 

"You think my discomfort was my top priority?" 

 

"No. I'm sure you were mourning your best friend, and for that, I apologize as well. That being said, I still can't bring myself to regret it. I saved you. For a moment, I was—free to be happy. Thankfully, you allowed me that without interruption." 

 

"I couldn't fucking speak, Cas!" Dean explodes, launching himself off the bed to wheel around and jerk his hands out in front of his chest. "I wasn't just standing by and letting you have the goddamn floor, you absolute bastard. There was so much—there was too much, and I couldn't—I wanted—I—" 

 

"Dean," Cas says, vaguely alarmed now, and he also stands up from the bed, peering at him cautiously. 

 

"No, shut up," Dean chokes out, his chest heaving. He can barely breathe, and every single word fights its way out of his mouth, punching out of him. "You were free in that moment, fine, what the fuck ever. But what about me? I—Cas, I couldn't fucking talk. I could barely goddamn breathe, and you just—you just—" He gives a growl of frustration, infuriated that he still can't say what he needs to. "That may have been the happiest moment of your life, but it was—it was the worst moment of mine. I had to listen to you, and watch as you—and I couldn't, Cas. I couldn't say—I can't say—" 

 

"Dean. Dean," Cas says insistently, stepping forward to hold his gaze, "it's okay. It is. You don't have to speak. You don't have to say anything." 

 

"You don't understand," Dean whispers, exhaling shakily. "I know you don't, because even I don't. The instant you were gone, I wanted you back. Cas, I wanted you back. I wanted—I wanted—" 

 

Cas stares at him, searching his face. After a moment, his own face falls slack, eyes widening just so. "Oh," he breathes out. 

 

Dean wants to be furious that Cas has figured it out before he has—whatever it is—but he's not even that surprised. Cas knows him too well, always has, even more than Dean knows himself. He's been kicking Dean in the goddamn teeth with how deeply he understands him, even about the things Dean doesn't, ever since they first met. You don't think you deserve to be saved, that's what Cas had said. All bundled up in impossibilities and power, this being that looked at Dean Winchester and knew every single inch of him, as if he had a right to each part. 

 

"What?" Dean grits out. 

 

"I love you, too," Cas says, simple and to the point. 

 

And Dean just—he breathes. For a second, he just breathes, and he keeps doing that. He stares at Cas, and he breathes. He stands still, and he breathes. He doesn't think, and he breathes. 

 

Long ago, Cas said you don't think you deserve to be saved, and at the time, Dean hadn't believed him. He'd denied it. Yet, it soon became something he just accepted about himself, just another part of who he is and how he's fucked up. He doesn't think he deserved to be saved, he never does. And Cas knew. 

 

Dean doesn't ever recall telling Cas he loves him. He doesn't remember realizing it. He doesn't even think he's been denying it all this time. And yet, Cas says I love you, too with the assurance of someone who has the chance to return the gesture—return it, echo it, because it has been given to him. 

 

And maybe...maybe Dean has been saying I love you in all the ways he hasn't. Saying I need you instead. Saying I'd rather have you, cursed or not. Saying I didn't leave you. Saying Morning, Sunshine, and Where's the angel, and It's a gift, you keep those. Saying Don't do this, because the last thing he ever wanted was for Cas to confess his love and trap Dean in a world where Cas never figured this part of him out. 

 

I wanted, Dean had said, only seconds ago, and he hadn't been able to get much farther than that. Maybe there isn't anywhere else to go from there. He wanted, that's the whole point. He wanted, and he still fucking wants. 

 

There's a bed big enough for two to prove it, a bottle of lube, an additional toothbrush, a different colored couch, more records on a table, a second rocking chair to join the first. Cas is right about him. He's always so fucking right, and Dean can't even hate him for it. He doesn't even try to. 

 

Cas has him backed into something of a corner, except it's a trap of his own making. He can't open his mouth to say that it's a lie, because it just...isn't. He can't open his mouth to agree to it, because he doesn't know how—he didn't when it mattered most, and it hasn't gotten any easier since. 

 

Dean doesn't say anything—can't say anything—and it feels like the most grueling thing he's ever done to just nod. Just that—a stiff, jerky nod that makes his jaws creak. He feels like he's being preserved in this moment, stuffed and encased in concrete, frozen into this person who admits something he's simultaneously known and never known about himself, something that perhaps shouldn't be so fucking terrifying, but is anyway. 

 

It's not necessarily the guy part, though Dean's sure to have a breakdown about that later, because what the fuck? But no, mostly it's just that it's Cas. 

 

They're both so fucking weird, and so fucked up, and honestly have so much shit between them that it would take forever to sort through it—but they have eternity now, so who knows? Honestly, in retrospect, they probably can't make it with anyone else. In the most ridiculous and horrifying and perfect way possible, they're meant for each other. 

 

Jesus fucking Christ. That's why this shit is so terrifying. If Dean fucks this up… Well. 

 

"You are thinking very hard," Cas notes, his eyes shining—he's been openly delighted from the moment Dean nodded. 

 

"You get that this isn't—" Dean's throat clicks, and he has to swallow a few times before attempting to speak again. "This isn't like...stepping into a puddle, Cas. It's—it's a whole goddamn ocean, and we can definitely fuck around and drown in it. Uh, metaphorically, I mean." 

 

Cas narrows his eyes. "I know how to swim." 

 

"Tsunamis don't give a shit about that," Dean says harshly, distantly aware that he's comparing his ability to screw up everything to literal natural disasters. Trauma, Sam would say, and Dean would have to do jazz hands to laugh it off. 

 

"Even after the great flood, there were survivors, Dean," Cas murmurs. 

 

"Okay, Yoda," Dean snaps, "real wise of you, but that's not—you're not listening to me." 

 

"I always listen to you." Cas rolls his eyes, up and over, exasperated. "If you think I haven't learned how to deal with you after all these years, then you haven't been paying attention. Your best is not the condition of my love; it was just as present at your worst. You can attempt to metaphorically drown me, but I've been tolerating you at your most ridiculous for so long that it's safe to assume I've evolved and grown gills. I'll be fine." 

 

Dean stares at him, then he barks a sharp laugh, slightly stunned. "That's—that's how you reassure me? Hey, no big deal, we're gonna be just fine because your fuck-ups don't faze me anymore?" 

 

"Well, do mine faze you?" Cas challenges. 

 

"I—" Dean pauses, thinking about that for a second. It takes a moment, but he thinks he gets what Cas means. Cas has done so much stupid shit over the years that Dean just...dealt with, because there's nothing in this world that Cas can really do that would ever make him want to let Cas go. Dude literally tried to end the world once, and Dean hasn't thought about it in years. The closest thing that ever came to them not making it was the whole Mary and Jack mess, and even then, somewhere deep down, Dean knew they'd make it anyway. Of course I forgive you, he'd said, because of course. Absolutely. Always. So, yeah, he gets it. "Okay, fair enough." 

 

"We're well-suited, you know," Cas muses idly, lips twitching. "I wouldn't like you otherwise." 

 

Dean snorts. "We are not well-suited. You put up with too much of my shit, and I—well, I have too much shit, so." 

 

"We can spend forever arguing who is the worst of us, if you'd like, but I don't think we'll ever actually agree," Cas says, his gaze soft and fond. "There isn't trouble to get into here, so I sincerely doubt we'll have many opportunities to display our worst. I'd say we could try for our best instead. Or moderate, at the very least. Normal, perhaps." 

 

"There isn't shit normal about us," Dean says. 

 

Cas inclines his head, amused. "Yes, that's true. Normal for us, then." 

 

Dean holds his breath for a long moment, working out what he's being asked to agree to, and once he does, he still agrees. "Yeah, okay, let's do that." 

 

"Good." Cas regards him for a moment longer, then hums. "Alright, I want to see Sam now." 

 

"You want to—what?" Dean blinks, startled. All of that, and Cas is ready to just drop it and carry on? He's ready to turn around and abandon Dean for his brother? If this is the start to...whatever the fuck they're doing, they're gonna have to work on it. 

 

"I miss him," Cas says simply, then turns and walks away without another word. When Dean doesn't immediately follow, his voice drifts back, quiet but firm. "Hurry up, Dean. You're driving." 

 

Dean stares around the room for a split second, then shakes his head and fishes his keys out of his pocket, blowing out an explosive breath and putting one foot in front of the other. 

 

It should be weird, but it's not. Cas slides into Baby with familiarity and reads the whole time that Dean is driving, his eyes narrowed in concentration. Every once in a while, when Dean glances over at him, Cas will look up and stare at him for however long it takes for Dean to remember that he should be watching the road. They don't say a word. 

 

In fairness, it's not a very long drive. Cas was right about Sam being right up the road. He's literally right up the road. Like, Dean has been driving for all of five minutes before he passes a mailbox with Winchester on it and has to do a u-turn in the middle of the road. The house itself is pretty nice—bigger than Cas' house, maybe a bit more traditional. 

 

Dean has just cut the engine when the door swings open and Sam comes ambling out with—shockingly enough—Eileen following behind. 

 

"She was not dead an hour ago," Dean mutters, squinting out of Baby's windshield. 

 

Cas hums thoughtfully. "Time is different here, Dean. A day on Earth can be decades here. Decades there can be a day for us. It's whatever suits our wishes. It's why I'm not surprised that Sam is here, because you would need him to be for Heaven to ever be home. People come very quickly, generally, even if they live their whole lives." 

 

"Oh," Dean says. "I just thought it was because she got old and died pretty quickly after he did." 

 

"There's that possibility as well," Cas admits. 

 

Huffing a laugh—seriously, Cas is so fucking funny sometimes—Dean opens the door and hops out. Cas does the same. It's mildly amusing to see Sam's entire face light up as soon as he sees Cas, but it's even more amusing to see Eileen start hopping in place and swatting Sam on the arm. 

 

"Cas!" Sam calls out, holding up a hand, grinning. 

 

"Dean!" Eileen bellows, practically shoving Sam out of the way to come barreling right for him, nearly knocking him off his feet. 

 

"Uh, hi, Eileen," Dean chokes out, startled again. He gingerly pats her on the shoulder, surprised that they're having something of a moment. It's not like they were strangers, but they weren't best friends either. They got along well, and Dean has always liked her, but they weren't close. 

 

They didn't have the time to be. 

 

Eileen wrenches back and beams at him, her eyes sparkling. "You're about to settle so many arguments, Dean Winchester, you have no idea. Why'd you have to go and die so young, hm? Sam is the most stubborn asshole in the world, so I could have used your backup, you know. You're not allowed to agree with him on absolutely anything, okay?" 

 

"Don't listen to her. Do not listen to her," Sam declares, pulling out of a hug with Cas. "She doesn't know what she's talking about. She never does. Let me tell you, man, she once argued—unironically, I should point out—that the Mandela Effect is a phenomenon that pushes the world into alternate timelines. Curious George never had a tail!" 

 

"He's bringing up the Mandela Effect thing again, isn't he?" Eileen asks, raising her eyebrows. She apparently doesn't need to turn and read his lips to know what the fuck Sam is saying. 

 

Dean nods at her. "Yeah. Also, I'm pretty damn sure Curious George had a tail." 

 

Sam makes a sound like he's in pain. 

 

"You're my new favorite," Eileen informs him, grinning, and Dean smiles back just as brightly. 

 

"Is Curious his first name?" Cas murmurs. "Surely not. It would be George. To earn the title of Curious, he would have to be all the time, consistently and perpetually. I don't think anyone is curious all the time, certainly not a monkey. He should be called George, I believe." 

 

"Man," Sam breathes out, "it's really good to see you, Cas. This is going to sound strange, but I've missed you being weird. It's been—Jesus, it's been years, dude. I mean, I knew Dean was skipping out to go find you, but—but still… It's been too long." 

 

"I apologize for not coming to greet you," Cas tells him. "I was…" 

 

"Hiding," Dean says. 

 

Cas sends him a sharp look, then softens when looking at Sam. "I was preoccupied. You have a lovely home, by the way. I'm assuming it was where you and Eileen lived when you were alive?" 

 

"Oh, yeah," Sam chirps. He reaches out to curl a hand over Eileen's shoulder, beaming. "You two wanna come in and see? It looks exactly the way it did before I died. You can see pictures of Dean." 

 

"You have pictures of me?" Dean asks, eyebrows jerking up as he follows the others towards the house. He's oddly touched. 

 

Sam snorts. "Well, yeah, sure. But no, I meant the other Dean. Our son." 

 

"Oh, right," Dean mumbles, blinking slowly. Sam had mentioned that already, but it's still such a strange concept to him. Sam's a dad. Weird. 

 

The house is as nice on the inside as it is on the outside. It's a lot of open, breathable space and cheerful lighting. It's what Dean would think of if he were ever required to describe a happy home. Scattered throughout are photos of Sam and Eileen's son. Dean watches him grow up through the pictures, enthralled by how much his nephew looks like Sam. He has Eileen's nose, and her smile, but his eyes... Dean blinks, surprised to find his own eyes staring right back at him—the shape of them, the long eyelashes, even the apple-green shade. 

 

"This was just after he graduated," Sam tells him quietly, tapping the picture Dean's staring at. "I wasn't doing too hot at the time, actually. I think I had just recovered from my first heart attack. Anyway, he was so—he was really excited about graduating because I'd… Well, Eileen and I promised we'd take him on a hunt after he did." 

 

Dean glances over at Sam in astonishment. "He was a hunter? Sammy, you—" 

 

"Ah, ah, don't start. Don't tell me how I should have raised my kid," Sam interrupts, fixing him with a serious look. "We never lied to him. He grew up knowing what mommy and daddy went through. He grew up on stories of Uncle Dean. Claire and Kaia were his godparents, man. He knew about the life, and he knew we wouldn't let him be in it until he was a grown man who could decide for himself." 

 

"Right," Dean murmurs, his throat thick. He clears it once, twice, a third time. "And did he?" 

 

Sam laughs softly, staring at the picture with open love in his eyes. "We took him on a hunt. Hearing about it is one thing, but seeing it, doing it...that's something else. He decided to go to college and actually finish, but after that… Well, the family business is still going strong, I guess." 

 

"I guess all Dean Winchesters are the same, huh?" Dean muses weakly. 

 

"What?" Sam snorts, shaking his head. "Hell no. My child is a helluva lot more well-rounded than either of us could have ever dreamed to be. He's also a lot nicer than you ever were." 

 

Dean rolls his eyes and reaches out to give Sam a shove. "Oh, fuck you." 

 

"Hey, I think I lost my wife." Sam glances up with a frown, looking around. "Shit, she can't stay put for anything in the world. Lemme tell you, she just wanders off wherever she goes. It's like she gets distracted by anything shiny, and I have to stumble around trying to figure out where the hell she went. I'm gonna put a leash on her, man." 

 

"Kinky," Dean teases, amused by how much of a crotchety old man Sam sounds like at the moment. 

 

Sam ignores him and heaves a sigh, going looking for Eileen, and Dean follows because Cas is also missing and that doesn't bode well. 

 

They're found a few minutes later in the kitchen, fingers flying as they sign back and forth in between drinking from oversized glasses of wine. Sam and Dean share a look, and Dean just shrugs. After a beat, Sam moves over to the fridge to grab two beers, then they move over to sit down at the table as well. They watch in equal amounts of interest as Cas and Eileen have what appears to be a very fast and very intense conversation without ever uttering a word. Dean has no idea what the fuck they're saying, but he's sure that Sam does, likely knowing ASL as well as Eileen does at this point. 

 

"He's telling her about his gardens," Sam tells Dean, likely noticing the confusion on his face. "He apparently has two at his house. A rock garden and a normal one." 

 

"Yeah," Dean says, "he was telling me about that. His house is nice. Lots of plants. Kinda livens up the place, if I'm honest." 

 

"I'm sure we'll see it at some point." Sam stares at him for a beat, then frowns. "What about you? Heaven didn't conjure the Bunker for you, or something, did it? Do you even have a house? Shit, Dean, I didn't even think—you can stay with me and Eileen. Of course you can. You know that, right?" 

 

Dean stares down at his beer and clears his throat, catching Eileen and Cas' hands slowly coming to a halt out of his peripheral. "Uh, that's—I mean, thanks, that's great, but I'm good, Sam. I'm actually, um, staying with—with Cas." 

 

"Are you?" Sam asks, sounding absolutely thrilled, and when Dean glances up, he has a shit-eating grin on his face. 

 

"Oh, fuck off," Dean mutters, picking up his beer to take a swallow, just to give himself something to do. It tastes like the beer he had after Cas came back from the Empty the first time. His face is hot. 

 

Sam tilts his head back, his shoulders shaking with laughter, and he just keeps wheezing, "I knew it, I knew it, I fucking knew it," over and over. 

 

Dean throws the bottle cap and pings him right in the forehead, smirking in victory when Sam yelps and rubs the red spot, scowling. "You didn't know shit, so shut the fuck up." 

 

"Oh, so you and Cas are just cohabitating, is that it? Really? Nothing to see here, just two dudes spending the rest of eternity together?" Sam raises his eyebrows pointedly. "Is that what you're going with, Dean, seriously?"

 

"You know what, Sam? Bite me." Dean huffs and leans back in his chair. "Maybe it's none of your goddamn business, you ever think of that?" 

 

Sam stares at him, blankly. "Dude, I had to watch you two be—I don't even know what to call it. But, the point is, I had to be an unwilling witness to all your shit and his. If anyone has earned the claim that it's their business, it's me." He holds up his hands when Dean opens his mouth. "However, because I'm a wonderful person and a great brother, I won't be an ass about it. Do what you do, man." 

 

Eileen releases a bright burst of laughter, and Dean jolts in surprise, having forgotten her and Cas for a split second. He glances over to see them back in the middle of a conversation, fingers moving quickly. Cas is smiling a little sheepishly, and Eileen looks utterly delighted. She leans across the table and gives Cas a very enthusiastic high-five. 

 

"I don't even wanna know," Dean mutters. 

 

"Yeah, me neither," Sam agrees. He pushes to his feet. "Come on, bring your beer. We have a pool table in the attic. Dean loved the damn thing. He got so good that he was better than me, you know. I think he might have been as good as you. Let's leave them to...whatever they're doing." 

 

"Preaching to the choir, man," Dean says, hopping to his feet and hastily following Sam through the house, his beer cooling his palm. 

 

They spend the rest of the day in the attic, playing pool. It's a long game because Sam keeps going through boxes and showing Dean different things that he wasn't ever around for—his nephew's first drawing, his nephew's first (forgotten and discarded) phone, Eileen's bow and arrows when she went through a phase of loving them, Sam's cookbook that he put together later in life. 

 

Eileen and Cas show up, drifting in, but they eventually drift back out. It's sort of nice, just knowing they're around, even if they're not interested in joining in on the Winchester Brother Bonding. Personally, Dean's having a great time. 

 

He knows, realistically, that he's going to have to see other people eventually. His mom is here. His dad. Bobby, Ellen, Jo, Charlie, Kevin, Mrs. Tran. There are so many people that he's going to have to be around, people he's forgotten how to be around. He's not sure who he's supposed to be around them. 

 

That's another thing. People are different. Sam, for example. It's strange because Dean has this idea of who Sam is in his head, all because he never got to see Sam get older, grow, change. Now, Sam is different—he bitches like an old man, tells stupid jokes, gets sentimental at the drop of a hat. People aren't frozen in time just because Dean died; they kept right on going, even when he didn't. 

 

It's an adjustment, and he's pretty sure that it's going to be an adjustment for others in regards to him. The only people who won't be surprised by what he's like now is Jack, Cas, Sam, and Eileen. They knew him well before he died, right before. And, well, maybe Mary, too—that's a complicated situation, though, and Dean doesn't wanna think about it just yet. 

 

This is enough, for now. Just spending time with Sam, Cas, and Eileen. It's more than enough. It's downright wonderful, is what it is. He'll worry about the rest when the time comes. 

 

As the day starts to come to a close, Cas appears in the attic and says, "I need to water my plants." 

 

"Do you actually need to?" Dean asks, genuinely curious. "Would Heaven let them die?" 

 

"I prefer tending to them without the interference of Heaven, so yes," Cas says. 

 

Dean grunts. "Huh, weird, but okay. Well, alright, let me finish kicking Sam's ass real quick." 

 

"Oh, please, you aren't…" Sam trails off, pressing his lips into a thin line when Dean proceeds to sink in the rest of his stripes and the eight-ball in short order. He frowns. "How are you still better than me at this? I've had more years of practice by now." 

 

"Yeah, and you've had more years to get sloppy," Dean says with a snort. He sits aside the pool-stick, then heaves a sigh. "This is just one of those things I'm better at, Sammy." 

 

Sam rolls his eyes. "Yeah, whatever. Get the hell outta my house, asshat." 

 

"Sure, sure," Dean mutters, biting back a grin. 

 

Sam and Eileen walk them out, chattering away the whole time. They're cheerful, seemingly having endless stories to tell, all these things they want to catch Cas and Dean up on. It's nice, but it's also a lot to take in. Throughout, there's nowhere in the world Dean would rather be, but after, in the silence of Baby, he releases a deep breath of relief. 

 

"Are you alright?" Cas asks. 

 

Dean nods. "Yeah, just... I feel like I'm gonna get punched if I admit that I already forgot my nephew's birthday. It's just a lot, is all." 

 

"It will get easier." Cas glances at him, smiling slightly. "I don't think they mean to overload us with information. They just...missed us." 

 

"Yeah, I know," Dean mumbles. 

 

Cas hums and picks his book up from where he left it sitting on the seat. He goes back to reading, not saying a word, and Dean drives them away. 

 

It's about ten minutes into the drive that Dean realizes something is up. Cas' house isn't this far from Sam and Eileen's, so he has absolutely no idea where the fuck they are. Cas had said people don't get lost or stranded in Heaven, but Dean's got a creeping sense of dread that he might be the first. How the fuck did he get lost on a straight road? 

 

"Hey, uh, Cas," Dean says warily. 

 

"Hm?" Cas looks up from his book, blinking over at him. "What is it?" 

 

"This is gonna sound weird, but I don't know where the fuck we are," Dean admits. 

 

"Oh?" Cas leans forward to peer out the windshield, squinting out at their surroundings. His lips tick down. "Ah, neither do I." 

 

Dean sends him a look. "We're lost? Should we be panicking? I feel like we should be panicking."

 

"We're not lost," Cas corrects. "There is somewhere we wish to be. Either that, or there's somewhere that Heaven wants us to be. Just keep driving. We'll get wherever we're supposed to at some point." 

 

It's lucky that Dean trusts Cas, because he swallows his arguments and keeps driving. He has no idea where they are, but it's just a straight road with some curves, so at least he doesn't have to take any turns. He blows out a deep breath and turns on the radio, eyes bulging when Taylor Swift comes on first. Cas doesn't so much as twitch, though, so Dean hesitantly leaves it alone. The song is new, something he's never heard before. 

 

Dammit, he likes it, too. 

 

Cas is right to say that they'll eventually end up where they're supposed to, because they do. Dean sees it first, slowing to an idle halt in the middle of the road as he squints out the window. Before he can think twice about it, he pulls into the driveway. 

 

It's a—well, it's a bar. It's the bar, the one from his own head, the one Michael weaponized against him, recognizing it as a distant dream he never really let himself pursue. It's why it worked so well to keep him trapped in his own head; he never actually wanted to escape. It's another one of those things that he simply wants, even if he never really allowed himself to acknowledge it. 

 

Dean stares at it for a long time, lips pursed. He's assuming Heaven is just...giving it to him. What, are he and Cas just gonna run a bar together? Are family and friends gonna stop in for drinks and visit? It'd be nice, admittedly. It'll give him something to do, and it'll provide him a place he can deal with others in spurts, in an environment that he feels secure in, or whatever the fuck. 

 

Eventually, Cas seems to realize that they're no longer moving. He looks up, peering at the bar with narrowed eyes, assessing. Finally, after a few minutes, his face smooths out as he looks over at Dean, patient, waiting. No judgement. 

 

"What about you?" Dean asks. "Isn't there anything you want to do?" 

 

Cas hums thoughtfully. "I already do them. I tend to my plants and my gardens. I spend time with Jack. I visit friends. I read books I've never read before, things Metatron hadn't forced into my head already. I help with the upkeep of Heaven itself. Those are things I want to do, so I do them." 

 

"Okay. Yeah, okay." Dean takes a deep breath and nods. "And you're just...cool with doing this, too?" 

 

"Yes," Cas says simply. 

 

"Right," Dean mumbles. 

 

"We can figure it out tomorrow," Cas murmurs, turning back to his book. "For now, I really do need to water the plants. Let's go home, Dean." 

 

Dean swallows, his fingers spasming around Baby's wheel. "Okay," he says, and his voice cracks. If Cas hears it, he thankfully doesn't mention it. 

 

Getting back to the house is so much simpler than what it took to get to the bar. Despite the fact that it was a half-hour drive from Eileen and Sam's to the bar, it takes ten minutes, at most, to get back to Cas' house. Dean doesn't even need to know where they're going—he just starts driving, and the house comes into view pretty quickly. 

 

Dean has the feeling that distance is as weird here as time is. He's not complaining, though. He took an hour drive that apparently lasted decades on Earth, and then Sam showed up, so there's nothing to complain about. It's confusing, but not in a way that really seems to matter. It just feels...accommodating.

 

It's late in the evening now, and Dean's instantly distracted by the lake. Cas bustles off into the house to, presumably, water his numerous plants, but Dean is rooted to the spot, staring at the lake. 

 

There are bobbles of light floating above the water, reflecting and glinting off the ripples. It gives it a story-book feeling, like something out of a fairytale. It's like the stars have dipped down to kiss the water, something so effortlessly ethereal about it. Dean stares with his mouth hanging open, amazed, awed. It's just—well, it's fucking pretty, actually. 

 

"It's glowworms," Cas tells him when he eventually comes back outside. "They settle on the branches over the lake during the day, then hang over the water and light up at night. I'm fairly certain there are some fireflies there as well." 

 

"I'm guessing it's here because you wanted it," Dean murmurs, still just staring, taking it in. 

 

Cas makes a small sound. "I suppose so. I spent a lot of time watching the lake. It's beautiful." 

 

"It's awesome," Dean breathes out. 

 

"Yes," Cas agrees, his voice soft. "Stay as long as you like. I'm going back in to see what surprise awaits me in the microwave." 

 

Dean jolts, blinking, and he turns to look at Cas with a small frown. "You don't gotta do that. I can cook, man. I mean, I didn't know you'd eat, but…" 

 

"Food tastes like memories here, Dean," Cas tells him gently. "Of course I eat." 

 

"Oh, right," Dean mutters. He clears his throat and glances back at the house. "Well, I can still cook."

 

Cas surveys him for a long moment, then nods slowly. "Okay." 

 

So, they go back inside. The house is mostly the same, but Dean can pick up on little details that his subconscious has changed without his knowledge. A poster here, a gun there, a few pictures lining the shelves that weren't there before. Cas doesn't seem to care, and it wouldn't happen if he did, so Dean doesn't say one word about it. 

 

In the kitchen, there's food already sitting out on the counter. Raw beef and bacon, buns, lettuce and tomatoes, whole potatoes. Cas looks equally startled, so Dean knows that the ingredients just popped up. Apparently one of them wants burgers and home fries, or maybe both of them do. Fair enough. 

 

Dean cooks. Cas leaves him to it, disappearing out of the room. Eventually, Dean can hear him moving around outside the kitchen, and then a little bit later the record player comes on. All My Love by Led Zeppelin plays, and Dean stares stupidly at the potato he's peeling for a long time, his jaw working. 

 

By the time the food is ready, Cas has apparently switched from Led Zeppelin to Judy Garland, and it's genuinely such a whiplash range of music that Dean can't even be surprised about it. Cas is so fucking weird, Jesus Christ. This point is only proven when Dean pokes his head into the living room to find Cas making a mess all over his very nice rug, doing some kind of wood-carving out of a tree stump the size of a small tire. He's intensely focused, and he looks utterly ridiculous hacking away at it, still wearing his stupid trenchcoat and leaving a goddamn mess of bark on the floor. 

 

"Hey, what the fuck are you doing?" Dean asks. 

 

"Rufus showed me how to carve out designs from tree stumps," Cas says, not even looking up. "I can do owls very well, but Charlie has requested that I try my hand at an X-wing Starfighter. I needed the firewood anyway. The extra goes in the fireplace."

 

"Okay, who's the lumberjack now?" Dean mutters, snorting under his breath. Cas pauses to narrow his eyes at him, and Dean grins with all teeth. "Yeah, not so funny when it's you, huh? Whatever, stop making a mess and come eat. But, like, wash your hands first. And dude, you gotta get out of that trenchcoat one of these days, man. I know it's basically your security blanket, but come on." 

 

Dean ducks back into the kitchen before Cas can come back with a retort, which feels a little like a victory of some kind. 

 

A little bit later, the record changes again, and it's Billy Joel this time. Only the Good Die Young. Dean has something of an out-of-body experience listening to it. He thinks maybe Cas is trying to tell him something, or maybe he just has a very eclectic taste in music, which is also just as likely. Either way, Dean is staring off into space with the lyric Oh sooner or later it comes down to faith bouncing around in his head when Cas shows up in the doorway, now notably in just a t-shirt and jeans. 

 

Is Cas Virginia? Cas is Virginia, Dean thinks a little ridiculously, blinking at him. 

 

But Virginia they didn't give you quite enough information. You didn't count on me, when you were counting on your rosary, Billy sings, and Dean is pretty damn sure Cas is Virginia and he's Billy, and this is just fucking wild, is what it is. 

 

"Thank you," Cas says, taking his plate. 

 

"You're welcome," Dean mutters. 

 

They eat in silence, listening to Billy Joel. They say there's a heaven for those who will wait. Some say it's better but I say it ain't. I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun. 

 

Jesus Christ. Dean rubs his fingers over his forehead and huffs out a weak, slightly hysterical laugh. The burgers taste like a random, relaxed day in the Bunker—a memory of him and Sam, taking a tiny break in between world-altering cases. Cas isn't there, but he isn't dead, and that was apparently enough to put Dean in a very good mood. Whatever memory Cas has, it makes his lips curl up as he eats. 

 

Come out come out come out Virginia don't let 'em wait. You Catholic girls start much too late. Oh sooner or later it comes down to faith. Oh I might as well be the one, Billy Joel belts out, and Dean launches from his chair to go lift the needle and dip the house into silence. He exhales shakily and clears his throat, shaking the cobwebs from his brain as he stiffly walks back into the kitchen and goes back to eating. 

 

"I was listening to that," Cas says. 

 

"Yeah, well, now you're not," Dean snaps, and then they really do eat in silence. 

 

After dinner, Dean does the dishes. Cas tells him he technically doesn't have to, that Heaven would handle it, but Dean actually wants to, so Cas just shrugs and leaves to go get a shower. He's out by the time Dean finishes up in the kitchen, so Dean goes to take one of his own. He very carefully doesn't think about the empty half of the closet being full of his clothes, the glaring absence of flannel a thing of the past. He just grabs some clothes and heads into the bathroom to enjoy the very hot water and genuinely delightful water pressure. 

 

When he gets out, Cas has stubbornly put the same song back on, and he's curled up on the couch with a book. The fireplace is crackling, emitting an orange glow over the room, leaving it comfortably warm. 

 

Dean scowls at the record player, gritting his teeth, but he doesn't risk trying to cut it off again. He's very sure they'll just get into a passive-aggressive battle of turning it on and off, which he has no desire to do. He tries to drown the song out, settling down at the table near the little nook to take his guns apart and clean them. He doesn't have a reason to, seeing as he won't be hunting anything, but it's something he has always done—a comforting routine, something to do with his hands. 

 

It's already late at night, but they waste an hour doing their own things. That song thankfully changes, so Dean eventually relaxes. He's actually bobbing his head along to Uptown Girl when Cas shuts his book and sits it aside, moving over to cut the music off. Dean looks up just as he jerks the barrel of the shotgun back into place, the resounding snap echoing into the abrupt silence. 

 

Even from here, Dean can see the way Cas' pupils dilate at the action, his whole body jerking in the middle of motion. He freezes for a second, just staring at Dean, then he blinks and relaxes all at once. His pupils return to normal. His initial sharp inhale seems like a distant memory when he breathes out casually. Dean would have never noticed if he didn't see it happen. 

 

"I'm going to bed," Cas informs him. "Sleep on the couch, or don't. Goodnight, Dean." 

 

"Night, Cas," Dean says weakly, gingerly laying the shotgun down and watching him disappear into the hall towards his room. 

 

Their room. 

 

This is Dean's house, too. He keeps thinking of it as Cas' house, but it's not. Not anymore. Cas wants it to be his home, and apparently so does Dean. Jesus fucking Christ, what the hell has he gotten himself into? This is genuinely insane. 

 

Dean puts his elbows on the table and his head in his hands. Right, so, there's no point in trying to deny anything. He literally can't. Heaven isn't going to let him, because it seems the thing he wants the most is—well, this. Just this. A bar, his family, and a life with Cas. What kind of life, he doesn't really know yet. He has eternity to figure it out, but he honestly doesn't want to take that long. 

 

He just wants to get to the part where it makes sense, where he's already figured it out, where he doesn't have to explore and work shit out. He wants it to be routine already, but to do that, he's going to have to actually do things. Whatever those things may be. He's still not clear on that one. 

 

Guys? Dean asks himself, then instinctively shies away from the thought. Those kind of things are saved for the midst of sexual acts and are not permitted to see the light of day otherwise. It's one thing to picture Dr. Sexy naked while he's getting himself off, but it's something else entirely to let that kind of thing have weight. 

 

But it's gonna have to have weight now, isn't it? There's a bed he's trying to convince himself to crawl into with a grown man waiting on the other side of it, and it's not like sharing a bed with a buddy out of necessity. It's just not. It's something else. It's the way Dean will be able to reach out and touch, and the way Cas will definitely let him, and the way he maybe, possibly, might want to. 

 

Guys??? Dean asks himself more forcefully, because he should know that at the very least. If he can't even figure that out, he's going to have to resign himself to a life of sleeping on the couch. 

 

And the thing is, yeah, okay...guys. Maybe. Whatever. Some guys. A few guys. The ones with strength in their grips, and the ones who wear cowboy hats and boots, and the ones that lean casually up against bars with their ankles crossed, and the ones with some scruff on their face, and okay, maybe the ones with rough laughter and sleeves rolled up to reveal veiny forearms. It's not a thing. It's just—envy, maybe? 

 

If he sees some guy who could probably kick his ass, his appreciation isn't like that. He's pretty sure it's just some version of dick-envy, but about someone's demeanor. Right? Right. 

 

Okay, well, no. The thing is, Dean's never once wanted to be Dr. Sexy. Getting off to the idea of Dr. Sexy wearing nothing but his cowboy boots has fuck all to do with Dean wanting to wear nothing but cowboy boots, and trying to rationalize it that way makes him sound fucking stupid, even in his own head. Jesus Christ. It's just Dr. Sexy being naked in cowboy boots, isn't it? Because he's hot. 

 

"Fuck," Dean swears, then groans quietly and drops his head to the table with dull thunk. 

 

Guys, Dean thinks mournfully, and yeah. But hey, ladies, too! That's still true. If nothing else, that's a relief. It gives him some room to exhale. 

 

Really, this small revelation wouldn't really matter in the grand scheme of things because women. They're a lot easier. He's not really sure how all this shit works, but he does know for goddamn sure that thinking dudes are hot doesn't make him think women are less hot. He could have gone his whole life not knowing that he—

 

Well, he did go his whole life not knowing.

 

Or, maybe he didn't. Not really. If he didn't at least have the smallest inkling, he would be freaking out a lot more than he is right now. He thinks he did know, but simply never cared to deal with it. In fairness, when did he have the time to? Life was already fucked up enough without him trying to work out if there was a little more to his secret fantasies of sucking Doc Holliday's dick—the one from Tombstone, specifically. 

 

It wasn't a thing, okay? There is something intricately sexual about that man's mustache, and Dean just simply understood he was no better than anyone else and had also fallen prey to it. Anyone would think that way, he's sure. 

 

In any case, this revelation does matter now, because he has a best friend who's in love with him, who he loves back—even if he can't say it—and there's a bed that they apparently want to share. Having a fantasy of sucking Doc Holliday's dick as a guilty pleasure is one thing; having a best friend right next to him who would probably suck his dick if he asked is another thing entirely. 

 

Eventually, he would ask. At some point, he's going to ask. Dean just knows himself too well. Cas will be warm, and he'll probably smell nice, and then Dean will be obsessing over it because he knows he shouldn't and he always does things he shouldn't. One of these days, he'll blurt out something very stupid, and Cas will—

 

He'll—he'll—

 

No, no, Dean is not thinking about that. It's different when the man is real. It's different when it's his best friend. He doesn't care what love confessions they have between them now, it's different. He's not thinking about it. 

 

Just, well, if he was thinking about it, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Hell, maybe it would be good. Actually, it would probably be—

 

"Fuck," Dean hisses, snatching his head up and staring across the room without actually seeing anything. He takes a deep breath. He lets it out. 

 

Cas abruptly appears in the mouth of the hallway, squinting at him, and he says, "Dean." 

 

Dean jerks so hard that his knee slams into the leg of the table, making him yelp instinctively, even though it doesn't actually hurt. Right, no pain in Heaven. He rubs his knee anyway and stares at Cas with wide eyes, throat bobbing. 

 

"Yeah?" he rasps. 

 

"Go to bed," Cas tells him. 

 

Dean blinks. "What?" 

 

"Go to bed, Dean," Cas repeats, crossing his arms and leaning against the wall. He heaves a sigh and tips his head to the side. "You don't have to be the one who decides to get into bed with me if you're already in it when I just so happen to join you. I believe it's called compromise." 

 

"Oh." Dean stares at him for a long beat, then he stands up and clears his throat. "I'm fine." 

 

"You're lying," Cas says blandly, with the air of a man who knows Dean so well that he doesn't even have to try anymore. He arches an eyebrow, his tone going firm. "Go to bed." 

 

Dean considers arguing for a moment, but Cas is wearing that expression and talking in that voice that states he's fully not fucking around. If Dean isn't careful, he's going to be picked up and carried to bed by a very irritated Cas who is tired of his bullshit. That's fair. Dean's tired of his own bullshit a lot of the time, too. 

 

Because he's very sure that being carried to bed will make his brain give up for the rest of ever, Dean forces himself to walk to the room—their room—on his own. Cas doesn't follow. He just stays where he is, watching Dean walk by without a word. 

 

Dean gets into the room and stares down at the bed for a long moment, but it is surprisingly easier to get into it without a man on the other side of it. He settles in, biting back a groan of relief. If anything could convince him that this is Heaven, it's this goddamn bed. Holy shit, it's literally perfect.  

 

He's just relaxing into it when Cas moves into the room, not faltering as he flicks off the light, dousing the room in complete darkness. Dean's heart immediately starts thumping heavily in his chest, and he wills his eyes to adjust fast enough, but they don't. He can't see shit, so he's tense when the covers tug and the bed dips as Cas slides in. 

 

The bed is big enough that they don't have to touch. That doesn't mean Dean isn't painfully aware of Cas being next to him. He is warm. He does smell nice. 

 

Shit. 

 

"Go to sleep, Dean," Cas rumbles, settling down with a quiet sigh. 

 

Dean coughs. "Probably won't be able to do that, but thanks for the vote of confidence." 

 

"If you did not wish to sleep beside me, Dean, you would have a bed of your own. Technically, there is nowhere else you should be able to rest perfectly than here, or you would have that place to go to." 

 

"Yeah, okay, I get that. My subconscious is a bitch, wonderful. That doesn't—it doesn't mean I've come to terms with it yet, Cas." 

 

"I see." Cas is quiet for a beat, and Dean can just make out the outline of his body in the dark. "Yes, well, be quiet while you attempt to do that. I like my sleep, and I won't have it interrupted because you're not going to allow yourself the things you want." 

 

"You're literally such an asshole," Dean mutters. 

 

"I'm worse without sleep," Cas says, pointedly. 

 

Dean turns his head, squinting at the faint shape of Cas' head. "Would you suck my dick if I asked?" 

 

"Yes," Cas says. Then, "Are you asking?" 

 

"No," Dean blurts out hastily. "Just—well." 

 

"Well," Cas echoes dryly. 

 

"Shut up, Cas. Get your goddamn beauty sleep and leave me the fuck alone," Dean grumbles. 

 

Cas hums. "As you wish." 

 

He doesn't say another word. His breathing is quiet, and it eventually gets slower. Dean can actively hear him falling asleep. He can sense it, can feel it as Cas' breathing grows deeper, as his limbs become slack. It's a very vulnerable thing, and Dean finds himself inexplicably wanting to protect Cas. From what, he's not sure. Everything, maybe. Anything. 

 

Despite his belief that he's not going to sleep a wink, Dean's lulled by Cas' breathing in short order. His eyes grow heavy. He starts to relax. He's not even tired, but he feels sort of lethargic and safe, happy to just lay here with his eyes shut and his thoughts drifting. It doesn't take very long before his breathing evens out with sleep, too. 

 

At some point later, he jerks awake to his arm being pushed down. He blinks rapidly, making a muffled sound of confusion. There's something warm beneath half of his body, fingers pushing his elbow away, breath ruffling his hair. What the fuck? 

 

It takes Dean a second. He has to relearn to exist first, and then he realizes that he's sort of lying half on top of Cas and elbowing him in the side. He smacks his lips and mumbles an apology, pulling his elbow away, and Cas gives an amused sound in the back of his throat. Dean's lips curl up. He closes his eyes again, ready to go right back to sleep. 

 

A beat later, Dean's eyes snap open. 

 

"Oh, shit," Dean garbles, jerking back in mounting alarm. He can feel the long line of heat from Cas' body pressed right along his own. They're practically knocking knees over here. 

 

Cas huffs quietly. "Stop flailing, Dean. Just go back to sleep." 

 

"Go back to—" Dean sputters and tries to squirm backwards, nearly braining himself on Cas' elbow with how hard he jerks back when his hand lands on Cas' exposed hip—a stretch of warm skin, soft and supple beneath his palm. "Dude! We're fucking snuggling right now! What the fuck?" 

 

"Again, this wasn't me," Cas snaps. "You're on my side of the bed, in case you didn't notice." 

 

"You coulda shoved me away! Jesus!"

 

"You're clingy." 

 

Dean releases a squawk of offense. "Clingy? I am not clingy. Fuck you. Move the fuck over." 

 

"I can't. I'm on the edge of the bed. If I move over anymore, I'll be on the floor." 

 

"Sounds like a goddamn improvement." 

 

Cas huffs again. "I liked it better when you were sleeping. Stop being ridiculous and go back to doing that, instead. You're not going to run me out of our bed because you have an aversion to comfort." 

 

Our bed, our bed, our bed, Dean's brain chants, apparently feeling the need to point out something else that's just going to send him spiraling further. 

 

"It's not an aversion to comfort, Cas. Maybe I just don't wanna wake up fucking cuddling you, did you ever think of that?" 

 

"Then perhaps you shouldn't cuddle me, Dean." 

 

"Oh, fuck off," Dean snarls, still trying to figure out how the fuck to get his arm out from under Cas' and roll away. Jesus Christ, he really did just wrap around him like a particularly clingy vine. That only pisses him off more. "Don't act like you're not enjoying this, you fucking bastard." 

 

"I'd enjoy it more if I were sleeping," Cas grits out, his hand fumbling in the dark to grab Dean's wrist and snatch his arm out. 

 

"Oh, boohoo, Sleeping Beauty, sorry to have woken you up. It's too goddamn bad I didn't elbow you in the face. That would have been much more entertaining," Dean snips, trying to yank his hand out of Cas' grip, only to realize a little too late that Cas has tightened it. His fingers flex around Dean's wrist, firmer, and Dean freezes. He goes from being furious to being wary in a second. "Uh, Cas?" 

 

Cas, when he speaks, does so in a growl of outright annoyance. "Are you going to be an ass every time you wake up this way? Because, if so, you can sleep on the couch." 

 

"So much for fucking comprise," Dean mutters. 

 

"If you weren't being ridiculous, I wouldn't suggest it. Is it really so bad that you've touched me? What's the problem with seeking the comfort of contact instinctively in your sleep?" Cas asks harshly. 

 

Dean doesn't say anything—can't—and Cas eventually just releases a sigh. He drops Dean's hand and flops back into his pillows, falling silent and going still, apparently trying to go back to sleep. 

 

As much as he's tempted to turn over and do the same, he doesn't. Dean stays on his side, his hand settling limply against the sheets in the small space between their bodies. If he wanted, he could reach out and poke the outline of Cas' arm. Cas would let him. Cas doesn't see anything wrong with it. 

 

Pursing his lips, Dean wiggles his fingers forward and does exactly that, poking Cas' arm. This earns him a huff, but that's it. Dean clenches his jaw and smooths the pads of his fingers over a small section of Cas' skin. He can feel the warmth of it, the tiny goosebumps that pop up under his touch. He traces a circle, then writes his name, then drags his fingers farther up and farther down. Pushing the perimeter of where he allows himself to go, so to speak. 

 

Cas doesn't say anything, but Dean can hear the shush of his hair against his pillow as he turns his head. It's dark, but Dean's eyes have adjusted. He can see the imprint of his fingers dragging along Cas' arm. Cas must be looking at his face. Dean wonders what expression he's got right now. 

 

Eventually, Dean works up the nerve to put his whole hand on Cas' arm, letting it rest there. After that, he gathers the courage to drag his hand up and down, tapping his fingers against the warm skin beneath in some kind of code he doesn't even know. He thinks it might be to the beat of that goddamn Billy Joel song, and he hates himself for it. 

 

"Dean," Cas murmurs, his voice soft, the name spoken with some emotion that Dean can't really spare the brain power to identify. 

 

"Sorry," Dean mutters. "For—you know." 

 

Cas hums in faint amusement. "It's fine. I told you, I know how to swim. You don't have to touch me, not even to apologize." 

 

"Okay," Dean whispers, then keeps right on dragging his hand back and forth. 

 

There's a certain kind of stillness, like the tremble of the air before lighting strikes, and then Cas exhales slowly and puts his hand over Dean's. He turns over carefully, burrowing his fingers underneath Dean's and bringing them up in between the spaces left open. Dean's whole body is stiff as Cas slots their fingers together, letting their hands drop down onto the bed between them. Their hands are slack, and so are their fingers, and Dean's heart is beating so fast that he thinks it's trying to escape. 

 

"Is it really so bad?" Cas muses, his voice a gentle rasp, deep and unnecessarily melodic, sort of entrancing without even trying to be. 

 

Dean's swallow clicks loud in the quiet as Cas pulls their hands up, his other one reaching out to pinch at the skin around Dean's knuckles. He proceeds to run his fingers all over Dean's hand, tracing his fingers, drawing shapes into the back of his hand, tickling the nailbed. After a few moments, with no warning whatsoever, there's the smallest puff of hot breath before Cas' lips—soft and warm—touch the raised mound of their threaded fingers, just where the knuckles meet and overlap. Dean's eyes flutter shut against his own will. He holds his breath. 

 

He doesn't exhale until Cas hums and tugs their hands up to tuck them under his cheek and chin. At that, at Cas practically laying on their hands, Dean's breath explodes out of him—too loud in the strange lull of quiet between them, like a heavy rock landing in a still lake, too heavy to cause ripples and instead making too big of a splash. Cas' fingers twitch around his, spasming, but then they go still. 

 

Dean clears his throat. "You're just—you're gonna hold my hand?" 

 

"Yes," Cas confirms. 

 

"That's it?" Dean chokes out, closing his eyes. 

 

Cas sighs. "Did you have anything else in mind, Dean? I'm more than willing, of course." 

 

"I don't know," Dean whispers, trying to get back to the unhindered sense of solitude from before. There was something safe about it, a place to tell secrets, a stretch of shrinking distance between them that anything could happen in. It's dark, and quiet, and Dean can speak here, almost without any issues. Breathing is questionable, but not everything is perfect. "I don't know, Cas. I think—I think you could do anything you wanted, and I wouldn't—I don't know. I don't—" 

 

He stops talking when he feels something hit the edge of their arms, sliding in the small space between them. He fumbles for it before Cas can, his breath coming out short and loud, hitching. He can feel his fingers shaking as he wraps them around the small, incriminating bottle. He knows what it is, and he knows why it's here. He doesn't bother to ask who it was this time; he's pretty sure he already knows. He just doesn't want it confirmed. 

 

It's confirmed anyway when Cas says, "Is that—" 

 

"Yeah," Dean admits gruffly, hating that Cas doesn't know, because Cas isn't the one who had a sudden desire for lube. Jesus Christ. 

 

"Dean," Cas murmurs, "we don't have to—" 

 

"Well, apparently I fucking want to," Dean snaps, trying to wrench his hand from Cas', to absolutely no avail. Cas just tightens his fingers and keeps their palms stubbornly together. "Apparently I want—apparently I—" 

 

"Again," Cas says dryly, "is that so bad?" 

 

"Let me go, you fucking—" Dean makes a low, angry sound in the back of his throat and tries to jerk his hand free. "Cas, I swear on my life—" 

 

The unfinished threat—a pointless one, seeing as Dean has no life to technically swear on—does seem to work, surprisingly enough. He doesn't expect it to because he's distantly aware that he's being an asshole, and also Cas doesn't really, uh, give in to most things. He's stubborn as fuck. 

 

It all becomes clear a moment later when Cas lets his hand go, only to grab his wrist and slam it down into the pillow beside his head. Dean automatically drops the bottle of lube and reaches up with all intentions of prying Cas' hand off of him, except he doesn't get very far because Cas just grabs that wrist as well and slams it down right along with the first. This leaves him half-leaning over Dean, and even in the dark, his arched eyebrow is visible. 

 

"Dean," Cas says, effortlessly and infuriatingly calm and firm, "we can fight about this if we have to, but I won't let you lash out at me about my desires because you're ashamed of your own. Whether you act on them or accept them is your business, but you won't attack mine simply because yours exist." 

 

Dean wants to tell him that it's his fault. He wants to say that none of this would be happening if Cas didn't love him, didn't confess it, didn't be it. He wants to yell at the top of his lungs and deny absolutely any part of this, because what was he supposed to do? Cas is this person, this thing, this absolute force of nature, and he's goddamn everything. He's just so effortlessly everything Dean has ever needed, or wanted, or was scared to lose… So, what was he supposed to do? What could he do, besides love him back? It's all Cas' fault. 

 

Instead, Dean says, "Yeah, we're gonna have to fight about it," and proceeds to try and do just that. 

 

It's sort of a moot point, considering Cas has him pinned by the wrists, but Dean has elbows and knees for a goddamn reason. He gives it his all, too. He really, really tries on purpose, going for cheap shots and maybe getting a few in—he's pretty sure he actually manages to knee Cas in the side hard. 

 

It's a minor scuffle, and it ends embarrassingly quick. Cas sort of kicks the cover over Dean's lap and just—sits on him. And yeah, that's pretty undignified for Dean, specifically, but it works a treat for Cas. Dean stops and realizes all at once they're essentially wrestling around on a bed—their bed—in the middle of the night, and there's no chance that Cas is going to die, and there's no one in this house besides them, and— 

 

"Are you done?" Cas asks sharply. 

 

"Yep," Dean says, appalled by how high his voice has gotten and unable to do anything about it. 

 

"I can feel your pulse." Cas sweeps his finger over the inside of Dean's wrist. "It's fast."

 

Dean squeezes his eyes shut. "Great observational skills there, Sherlock. Can you get the fuck off of me now? If I knew you were gonna fight dirty, I would have waited to kick your ass in the morning." 

 

"I'm not fighting with you about this." Cas doesn't move to get off, but instead dips down, closer. Dean can feel the movement in the pit of his stomach. "I have nothing to fight about. I am not and never have been ashamed of my desires, Dean." 

 

"Oh, is that right?" Dean grits out. "If that's the case, why didn't you say anything?"

 

"I was under the impression that you would prefer not to hear them. I was also under the false impression that you would not share them." 

 

"Not false." 

 

"Uh huh," Cas says, tone dirt-dry. "Need I remind you of the bottle sitting next to my knee?" 

 

"Fuck you," Dean mutters. 

 

Cas hums. "Is that a desire of yours, Dean?" 

 

"Je-sus fucking Christ," Dean hisses out between his teeth, his whole body prickling with a flash of heat. He doesn't dare open his eyes and see the shape of Cas leaning over him—the weight of him bearing down on Dean's thighs is bad enough, thank you very much. He needs Cas to get off of him now. 

 

"Are you doubting that I'm not ashamed, just because I never told you?" Cas asks. "I could tell you now, if you'd like." 

 

"You're being an asshole on purpose."  

 

"Yes." 

 

Dean twists his wrists, choking out, "Son of a bitch," because that's actually—that's genuinely working for him right now. Fuck. 

 

"I'm not ashamed, Dean," Cas tells him, "and I don't care if you are. If you wish to pander to that shame, so be it. I will never ask you not to." 

 

"Cas," Dean blurts out, his chest heaving. He can feel it, without even opening his eyes, just how close Cas is right now. He's so warm and sturdy. Why the fuck is he so sturdy?

 

Cas is a stubborn bastard, and he's clearly got some shit he wants to say, because he ignores Dean's minor freakout entirely to lower his voice and declare, like it is law, "What you choose to do, and how you choose to act, is your decision. I, on the other hand, will not allow anyone—not even you, Dean—to come into my home and tell me I am wrong for the desires that I have." 

 

"Okay, yep, loud and clear," Dean whispers, his breath coming out short and choppy. Cas has that sharp, commanding snarl he gets when he's threatening to set people on fire, and Dean's struggling to grasp the concept of what shame even is. This was literally the stupidest thing he could have ever done—let Cas pin him down in a fucking bed and proceed to be all growly, like Dean's most recent revelation that men are, in fact, very hot isn't going to latch onto this immediately. 

 

"I would sooner list all the different ways in which I would enjoy it if you touched me, in front of a live audience of everyone in Heaven, before I act as if anything I want is something to be ashamed of," Cas continues, his fingers flexing around Dean's wrists. 

 

Dean swallows a small sound. Maybe a whimper, maybe not. He has no idea how weak he is right this second, so he can't be sure. As it is, the only thing he finds himself capable of doing is babbling, "Jesus fucking Christ, shit, shit, shit." 

 

"So," Cas concludes harshly, "you can fight if you'd like, but you will do so alone, and I will not provide a willing target. Do you understand?" 

 

"Yes, oh my god, yes," Dean gasps out, and the moment Cas' fingers go slack around his wrists, his hands are surging up to grab Cas by the head and yank him down. 

 

He has never been so goddamn turned on in his life, which is a damn shame, really, that he went his whole life on earth without getting to experience the effect Cas can have on him when pinning him to a bed and snarling at him. The first thing he does to prove it is moan into Cas' mouth, because he can't really help it, and Cas needs no time to go from mildly scolding Dean for not taking what he wants to participating when Dean takes what he wants. 

 

Cas kisses him hard and deep, lips warm and supple, pressing in without demanding anything else in return. A hook almost immediately forms in Dean's gut, tugging incessantly, and he unfurls at the necessary guidance. As with true defeat, he goes out not with a bang but with a whimper, lips parting as he gives in. 

 

His whole body shudders in response to the surrender, fantasies turning to reality, hopes squashed popping back up like novelty books from his childhood. Cas has metaphorically opened his pages, breathing life into the images of his wants, and Dean is helpless to do anything but accept. 

 

Dean slides his hands down Cas' arms, gripping harder than he means to, kissing back with as much fervor as he's being treated to right now. It doesn't slow down, doesn't ease up, doesn't stop. And he's so fucking thankful that it doesn't, because he doesn't want it to, because it feels so fucking right that not doing this would be wrong in every conceivable way. 

 

He's never given thought to how Cas would be in a setting like this. If he had, he might've expected Cas to be gentle, or maybe even stiff and robotic. That's not the case at all. Cas really is shameless. He gives zero fucks about holding himself back. If he wants it, and he can have it, he takes it. If he likes it, he makes sure that Dean knows. If he doesn't like something, he makes that obvious, too. 

 

Cas is loud. Like, vocal as hell. It's unnecessarily attractive to hear him gasp against Dean's mouth, to hear him groan roughly. Cas is also very grabby. His hands seem to be everywhere. Dean can barely keep up, slightly overwhelmed in the best way at the feeling of fingers in his hair, fingers cupping his cheek, fingers draping over his shoulders, nails digging in. Cas is also—most importantly—not scared of any part of this. He just fucking goes for it, the first to break the kiss to yank his shirt off, folding back in to continue the kiss while Dean is still trying to catch his breath. Dean may have started this (or maybe it was Cas; he's not sure, because this has been going on a long time, in retrospect), but Cas is clearly glad to take over. 

 

Dean—well, Dean is...a little more hesitant. He doesn't really mean to be. He can't help it. He's a little dazed, struggling to breathe, failing to make sense of anything outside the absolute shock of how fucking into this he is. He's so startled and lost amongst sensation that it takes him a bit to figure out that he can and should reach out and touch. 

 

His fingers are shaking when they connect with the warmth of Cas' sides. He drags them up, trembling, and he marvels at the feeling. His head is spinning, and Cas is doing something absolutely problematic with his tongue in Dean's mouth—problematic because it feels like something Dean's always going to want now, just...all the time. Fuck him. This is all his fault. And thank fuck for that, Jesus Christ. 

 

Cas stops kissing him—see, very problematic—to say, "We have to move. We can't do anything like this." 

 

"Yeah, sure, okay, whatever you want, Cas," Dean wheezes, barely understanding what the fuck he's agreeing to. Right now, he'd probably agree to absolutely anything. 

 

"Whatever I want?" Cas asks, his voice rough, the amusement there sort of barbed. "Is that your blanket permission that I'm allowed to do anything to and with you, Dean?" 

 

Dean tries to grab Cas back when he swings off his lap, and he realizes belatedly that he's been asked a question, so he rattles off, "Yeah, Cas," without a thought in his fucking head. 

 

"Okay," Cas says. "Take off your clothes." 

 

"What?" Dean blinks at him. 

 

Cas says it again, firmer, "Take off your clothes." 

 

"Oh, right, okay," Dean mutters, then kicks the covers off of him and scrambles to do what he's told. It's not until he's sliding his boxers off and tossing them to the side that he remembers he's supposed to be freaking the fuck out about this, and maybe a lot ashamed, but Cas is leaning in to kiss that little niggling problem right outta his head. 

 

Cas is taking to heart that it's whatever you want, Cas in the house tonight, because he proceeds to do exactly that. What he wants is apparently to drive Dean absolutely batshit insane. He just—he touches Dean everywhere, anywhere he can reach, fingers moving from the very top of his head and slowly dancing their way down. He keeps getting distracted by swooping back in and kissing Dean, fingers stalling out on whatever stretch of skin he was feeling before their mouths met once again. 

 

All Dean can really do is hold on, squeeze his eyes shut, and feel. Cas slowly makes progress, his nails ever so slightly skirting along the inside of his arms, and he gets lower at an aching pace. With each centimeter he drops his hands, his mouth ticks down to a new spot—the curve of his jaw, the sensitive spot just below it, his hummingbird pulse, and lower still, the dip where his shoulder and neck meet. He peppers kisses the whole way, warm and hot, unafraid to use teeth, doing so more frequently after Dean's whole body shudders at the sensation. 

 

Dean doesn't even really realize how hard he is until Cas' fingers reach his boner and, without so much as a stutter, feels absolutely every inch of that, too. For the entirety of that, Dean loses himself entirely, head tossed back, biting his lip hard enough to make it throb, digging his nails into the top of Cas' shoulders. Cas' hands are big and sure and hot, and there's no way Dean is surviving this shit. 

 

At some point, Dean starts to feel like a place rather than a person. It's like Cas is trying to know every nook and cranny, every secret in his skin, every bump and divot. He leaves Dean gasping and arching to touch his thighs, the ticklish spot behind his knees, the curve of his bowlegs. He even gets low enough that he's kissing Dean's small pudge of stomach, just so Cas can map out the shape of his ankles. Dean is so frazzled that it takes him a long time to remember what he wants to say. 

 

Then he does, and he blurts out, "I swear, Cas, if you touch my feet, I'm going to fucking kick you." 

 

"I know you're ticklish there," Cas informs him, then proceeds to ignore Dean's threat entirely to actually, genuinely skate his fingers over the tops of Dean's feet. He's so fucking weird, what the fuck? 

 

"How the hell do you know that?" Dean chokes out, thankful that Cas actually doesn't touch the bottom, most ticklish part of his feet and instead starts dragging his hands back up. 

 

"I built you, once," Cas murmurs. "You could say I'm getting reacquainted. Now turn over." 

 

"Turn—" Dean picks his head up to squint at him in the dark. "Are you kidding?" 

 

"No." 

 

"You're actually planning to touch every part of me?"

 

"Yes." 

 

"And we can't skip this part?" 

 

"No." 

 

"Right. Fuck. Okay." 

 

Cas hums in approval when Dean starts squirming to turn over. It should be weird. It is weird, but it's the kind of weird that Dean expects from Cas. It's oddly intense and intimate, but it feels too good to complain about. By the time Cas is kissing and nipping at the back of his neck—and woah, that's definitely an important spot he wasn't even aware of until now—Dean forgets that this is weird at all. 

 

It seems that Cas is serious about touching every single inch of him. He does. Even the strangest places. His elbows, the span of his ribs, the arch of his back, his ass, the dip right below his ass, the back of his knees again, the heels of his feet, if not the bottom—he respects that boundary. By the time he's made it as far as he can go, he's taking a portion of Dean's skin on the small of his back between his teeth and worrying it, pulling on it. There shouldn't be anything erogenous about it, and yet. 

 

Dean feels sort of unspooled and wrenched tight all at once. It's what he imagines the most cherished books feel like, every single word read, every page worn from adoring fingers, falling apart not out of mistreatment but because of the earnest destruction of loving something so much. 

 

Cas could pluck the unspoken words right out of his heart and quote them, Dean is sure. 

 

"Turn over," Cas says again. 

 

"Mm," Dean agrees, flopping over without complaint this time. If Cas wants to touch him everywhere for the rest of eternity, he'd just let him at this point. He feels known. He feels revered. 

 

"Are we going to do this again, Dean?" Cas asks with a certain kind of idle curiosity, as if he doesn't necessarily care what the answer is, but he needs to know nonetheless. 

 

"Dunno," Dean admits, hissing between his teeth when Cas presses his thumb against a sore spot on his neck. Hickey? Oh, fuck that noise. He's going to be so pissed about that later. 

 

Cas hums. "Then I guess we should make this count, shouldn't we?" 

 

"Might be for the best," Dean agrees a little breathlessly. Cas' knee is slotting between his own, knocking them apart. "Whaddya got in mind?" 

 

"Sex," Cas declares, rather bluntly. 

 

Dean had been pretty sure of that, considering they're both literally naked, and yet that one word still manages to steal his ability to breathe. Obviously they're doing that, because not doing that at this point would be such a waste of Dean's tendency to let his dick make the decisions for him every once in a while. It's now or never, Dean's pretty sure, and he's on board for now. 

 

"Yeah, okay, awesome," Dean blurts out, blinking rapidly at the feeling of Cas' fingers hooking behind his right knee and hitching his leg up. His mind is moving slow, so it takes him a second. "Oh. Oh. Oh, shit. Hold the fuck—" 

 

The rest of his sentence is lost in the groan he releases when Cas' free hand wraps around his dick, and then he forgets what he was about to say altogether. Cas leans over him, ducking down to press their lips together. The kiss shouldn't be so gentle and sweet, not with Cas stroking him, but Dean is torn between the flutter in his chest and the slow unfurling of heat low in his hips. 

 

Over and over, Dean is reminded that Cas clearly has plans here, and that he knows what the hell he's doing, somehow. Books, maybe? The internet? He's a gay angel, right, so he might have looked this shit up? Who hasn't stumbled upon gay porn once in their lives? Hell, Dean has a few times. It wasn't a thing—okay, well, maybe it was, he doesn't actually fucking know at this point. Now really isn't the time for take two of his panic, not when he's dead, making out with the best friend he loves, and also arching up into a man's hand on his dick. He doesn't really have a leg to stand on at the moment. 

 

Anyway, Cas has an idea of what he's doing, is the point. Dean also has a distant idea, but every time he tries to think about it solidly for a second, it slips away when Cas bites his lip, or twists his wrist, or makes a rough sound in the back of his throat. Dean just keeps getting distracted, and that turns out to be a pain in his ass. 

 

Literally. 

 

There's the pop of the cap on the lube, then the spread of Cas' hand against his thigh, pushing his legs further apart, then the pressure of Cas' knees under his legs to give his hips some leverage. Cas leans back, breaking the kiss, and Dean has just enough time to heave in a deep breath before there's a finger where fingers just aren't meant to go. 

 

Dean chokes, jerking in place, stunned by the absolute audacity of this man. He can't quite manage to get his tongue to unstick from the roof of his mouth to actually say anything, a little too lost to what Cas' left hand is still doing—stroking, squeezing, slow and torturous. 

 

And to start with, admittedly, Dean doesn't like it. He just doesn't. It's an intrusion. He's never felt anything like it. His brain is scrambled, but he does manage to catch the random passing thought of the implications that surround this particular act. What's it called? Something to do with bunk beds, right? The bottom bunk. He's the goddamn bottom bunk, and that might be the most baffling thing that has ever happened to him. 

 

In life, Dean has always slept on the top bunk—literally and figuratively. Seriously, whenever there were bunk beds, Sam slept on the bottom and kicked the top to piss Dean off. And, in regards to sex, Dean has never had a woman come anywhere close to his ass, except for that time a hookup wanted to spank him, but that's an experience he has tucked away in his guilty pleasures box. He's had women on top of him, and that was really nice, but—

 

But not the point. The point is, Dean's not the fucking bottom bunk, and he's going to tell Cas this the moment his hand leaves Dean's dick, just not a second before because it feels too good for him to remember how to do anything other than moan. 

 

So, no, he doesn't like this. It feels strange. It doesn't hurt, but it doesn't feel great either. Really, it's just a finger in his ass—a slippery one, at that. Dean's having a hard time believing that other bottom bunk people actually enjoy this shit. Is it like when women collectively fake orgasms? They do it so much, too, which is depressing and had been a pretty big blow to his ego when he'd been informed that he'd had it happen to him as well. Do people just regularly pretend to like things during sex? How do guys manage it? They can't fake orgasms. 

 

He's either going to have to learn how to pretty quickly, or he's going to have to tell Cas that the finger thing just isn't working for him. Preferably the latter, because Dean can love Cas until the cows come home, but he isn't about to lay here and pretend like this is in any way feeling— 

 

"Woah, what the fuck?!" Dean blurts out in astonishment as his whole body jerks, curling in on himself in response to the sudden and startling jolt of pleasure that just rocked him solid at the curl of Cas' finger. That had—okay, that had been good. 

 

"Ah," Cas says, then does the same thing again. 

 

Dean blows out an explosive breath and twitches, fingers fumbling for Cas' arms, gripping tight. He swallows. Cas does it again, and again, and again. Dean's toes curl. He has to close his eyes and try to hold still, fingers digging into Cas' skin hard enough that he's probably going to leave bruises. In a mere minute, Dean has gone from unimpressed and offended to locking whimpers behind his teeth. 

 

"Cas, you gotta—you can't—" Dean loses the thread of his thoughts, feeling them all unravel too quickly. Okay, so the finger thing is starting to work for him, fine, whatever. It's just that Cas is still stroking his length, and now he's adjusted to the intrusion to the point that it's starting not to feel like enough. It's starting to feel like too much, too. His hips jerk, and he sucks in a sharp breath. "Hey, uh, hey, could you possibly—ah, ah, you gotta stop, I'm going to—" 

 

Cas knows him well, as we've established, and so he abandons his dick entirely. That should be something that Dean mourns, but he's a little too wrapped up with what's happening to his ass. In fact, the split sensations were so much that it's almost a relief not to have to feel both. 

 

There's a second where Cas pulls his hand away to get more lube, and Dean—who wasn't a fan of the intrusion at all—immediately despises the loss. He huffs, blinking around blearily, clenching around nothing because he's just empty now, and he's not sure why that suddenly feels like an foreign concept to him, but it does. He thinks, a little stupidly, that he would like to never be empty again. 

 

Maybe Cas is indulgent, because he comes back, and he comes back two-fold. Now with a bonus finger. Dean's back to not being a fan, because this time, it kinda does feel the opposite of good. There's some burn to it, a different kind of stretch, and yet another adjustment period. He doesn't mind the burn so much—actually, he kinda likes that part. What he doesn't like is that it's not immediately just feeling the way it did before. 

 

It doesn't take very long, though. He does adjust because, presumably, that's what bodies do. This is a little different, a little fuller, a little more impactful. He's here for it, though; he really is, because Cas does that thing again, and yeah, yeah that's good. 

 

Dean gets it. He gets the bottom bunk people. He's never going to think badly of bottom bunk people ever again. They clearly know the goddamn secrets to the universe or whatever, especially when it comes to pleasure. If this is what the bottom bunk people get, he's going to sign the fuck up, because this? This is really, really good. 

 

It comes in layers. A finger, then two. A constant buildup that really puts in the work, leaving his legs shaking like they do when he's fucked someone nonstop for hours, except he's doing nothing right now. It steals his breath, wipes his mind clean, sends out waves of heat and pleasure-discomfort through every single inch of him. It builds, then stops. An emptiness, then a third finger. More burning, more lube, a stretch, some pressure, that full feeling and the reckless spurt of tingling pleasure through every trembling limb of his body. He breathes. He moans. 

 

It shuts up every thought in his head, and Dean thinks—or simply senses—that he could get high off of it. He's being wrung out from the inside out. He feels used. He feels pinned down without a goddamn hand on him. This is… This is… 

 

This is making him babble. It feels like his ear drums pop, and he hears himself through stuffy cotton, chanting, "More, more, more. More, Cas," and it sounds like he's begging, but surely not. Not Dean Winchester. He'd never. 

 

He does. He absolutely does, and he can't even blame himself. The general consensus right now is more, because he genuinely wants—needs—more, and since Cas started this shit, he's going to have to fucking deliver or Dean might kill him. 

 

Cas takes his time delivering because he's a bastard, but deliver he does. When Dean feels less and less full by the second, all stretched out and aching, considering the merits of actually clocking Cas in the jaw in the middle of sex, that's when Cas removes his fingers and replaces them with his dick. And it's at that precise moment that Dean actually realizes in full that he's about to get fucked. 

 

The thing is, at this point, Cas has kind of ruined him. If he doesn't get fucked, he might actually figure out a way to do the impossible and kill them both in Heaven. There's no room for shame here. He has officially forgotten the definition. 

 

Dean's ears ring when Cas slowly eases into him. He closes his eyes and holds his breath. Three fingers have nothing on a dick, Dean learns. There's an adjustment period for this too, another layer that builds, more burning, further stretching. 

 

Then: connection. 

 

This is Dean's favorite part of sex. That moment where the bodies meet and click into place, and it feels like anything can happen. It feels like his body isn't even his own, not really, and somehow that's so much better. It belongs to whoever is getting pleasure from it, however they are, and he gets to escape in someone else. Right now, that person is Cas, and oh, oh, that's something else entirely. 

 

A bastard Cas may be, but a gentleman he is as well. He holds still, waiting, and he oh so slowly dips over Dean to press close, his face dropping into the bend of Dean's neck. It causes Dean's legs to open further and push back, letting Cas slot between them. Dean exhales softly and eases his hands up Cas' arms, wrapping around his shoulders, fingers crawling up into his hair, gently pushing through the strands. 

 

For a long, drawn-out heartbeat, they just breathe. 

 

"Move," Dean whispers, finally. 

 

"Dean," Cas breathes out, then moves. 

 

It's slow. It's tender. Dean's not sure why, or what changed. This isn't getting fucked. They're abruptly making love. It's the careful drag out, then the achingly gentle press back in, making Dean's breath stutter and his eyes flutter shut. 

 

It feels good. That's all there is to it. No, Cas isn't hitting that spot in him, and Dean doesn't feel like he's barrelling towards an orgasm, but this is something different. This is emotional when Dean never wanted it to be, but now that it is, he never really wants it to stop. Cas is kissing him deeply, his warm hand reaching up to hold Dean's cheek, thumb caressing just below his eye. 

 

It can only be described as devotion in the truest sense of the word. It's what faith is supposed to be, an unwavering locked-in immobility that someone devout carries with them in every inhale and exhale. It's worship, plain and simple. Cas holds him, and kisses him, and makes love to him like the most faithful being to exist, all for Dean Winchester. 

 

Dean fucked around and converted Cas to freedom, and now Cas uses it to love him without shame. 

 

The slow unraveling of them both continues until Dean is making quiet sounds into Cas' mouth, fingers twisting into his hair. It continues until there's sweat on their skin and an ache in their muscles, like they need to cherish each other until they're sore. It continues and continues and keeps continuing, intimate and intense and heady, right up until Dean hooks his heel around the back of Cas' leg and urges him to go faster. 

 

And, just like that, Dean is getting fucked. 

 

Cas peels himself away from Dean and shuffles back onto his knees, reaching out to grip Dean's thighs and yank him up for a better angle. From there, things go from sweet to brutal. Dean has just enough time to grip the pillow behind his head with both hands before Cas really goes for it. 

 

"Oh," Dean gasps out. "Holy shit. Okay. Oh, okay." 

 

Dean presses the back of his hand over his mouth to shut himself up, because he sounds like a goddamn idiot. He ends up having to bite the skin to muffle the hiccupping moans that escape him. Cas has found the spot, and he's not letting up. 

 

Cas tells him—rough and gritty and moaning—that this feels good, and Dean wants to agree but has been reduced to sounds and sounds alone. He no longer has the grasp on speech. His eyes are rolling back, and he knows it, and he doesn't care because Jesus fucking Christ, this is— 

 

"Dean," Cas chokes out, and he sounds divine, he sounds like sin, he sounds like sex and Heaven and so fucking good that Dean kinda wants to cry. 

 

Dean almost does cry when Cas reaches down to start stroking him again. He cries out, jerking, and Cas slams his hip back to the bed with his free hand, holding him there, holding him there. 

 

"Oh my fucking—" Dean can't finish the sentence, his brain likely melting out of his ears, too much of everything happening at once that he breaks. 

 

It's probably the best orgasm he's ever had, in retrospect. He twitches through it, getting fucked through it, and he never knew that it would feel this damn good. He rides it out, barely hearing himself chant Cas' name like a prayer, like an oath. And, when it's over, he slumps and goes slack like all of his strings have been cut. 

 

Cas keeps right on going. Dean has to lift a shaky hand and weakly push Cas away from his spent dick, too sensitive to do anything other than whimper. Fortunately, Cas doesn't take much longer. He practically folds Dean in half to lean in and kiss him, and then his hips are stuttering as he releases a muffled, raspy groan into Dean's mouth. He has enough mind to pull out, but not enough to aim. He ends up making a mess of Dean's thigh. 

 

Dean is too busy shaking all over to care. 

 

Cas must care, though. When he eases back and lets Dean's legs fall flat, before he does anything else, he shuffles down to, first, clean up the mess off Dean's chest that Dean himself made, then lastly, clean up the mess on Dean's thigh that he made. He does all of this with his mouth, which Dean's brain—that is currently the consistency of pudding—finds to be very hot, actually. 

 

After that, Cas wobbles and crawls his way back up to flop down next to Dean with a gusty sigh. His hand lands limply on Dean's hip, fingers twitching. Together, they breathe for a while. 

 

"I'm very tired," Cas croaks, eventually. 

 

Dean makes a high-pitched noise and mumbles a slightly hysterical, "You fucking should be." 

 

"I think I'm going to go to sleep," Cas murmurs. 

 

"Right behind you," Dean agrees, feeling relaxed and completely exhausted in the best way. 

 

Cas sounds like he's smiling when he softly whispers, "Goodnight, Dean." 

 

"Hey," Dean says. 

 

"Hm?" 

 

"We're doing that again." 

 

"Oh." Cas pauses, and now he's definitely smiling, the smug asshole. "Okay." 

 

"Night, Cas," Dean mutters, closing his eyes. There's long beat of silence, and Dean's eyes open again, peering into the darkness. He swallows. After some silent deliberation, he shoves himself over until he's sprawling against Cas' side, tucked into the curve of his arm. Slowly, hesitantly, he lifts his hand and hovers it over where he imagines Cas' heart to be. He taps his finger against it gently three times, his heart racing, waiting. 

 

I love you. 

 

Cas knows. He always knows. He hums, a pleased sound, and he presses his face into Dean's hair. "Goodnight, Dean. I love you, too."

Chapter Text

The first "customer" they have at the bar is Charlie. 

 

She wanders in about fifteen minutes after Dean's gotten through a long, excited babble about the difference in two brands of beer, because yes, Cas, those things actually matter. There's a little overhead ding when the door opens that gets their attention—Dean is cutting limes, and Cas is arranging the colorful paper parasols. 

 

"Oh," Charlie says, when she comes in, "I was wondering where I was gonna end up. Looks like I wanted to see you guys this morning." 

 

Dean is halfway around the counter before she even finishes speaking, meeting her for a tight hug. She laughs lightly and squeezes him, then starts easily chattering away as he leads her over to the bar. She gets a drink, Dean makes it for her, and they talk. They talk for a long time, only pausing when Cas shows her the X-wing Starfighter he actually did end up finishing. She loves it, and he lets her have it. 

 

Before she leaves, Dean says, "Don't be a stranger, Charlie. Come have a drink whenever you want." 

 

"And when I don't want, you could come visit me at my place," Charlie offers, grinning at him. "I have a life-sized C-3PO costume, and it's awesome." 

 

"I don't know where you live," Dean admits. 

 

Charlie shrugs. "Just get in your car and drive. If I'm home, and I'm cool with you being there, you'll end up where you need to. You could always write a note. It'll disappear when you're done and end up where you need it to, and I could send one back. Hell, you could even manifest a phone here, if you wanted. Why haven't you done that yet? I've been waiting for your number to show up in mine." 

 

"I—I didn't even think of that," Dean mutters. 

 

"Come on, Dean, you gotta make Heaven your bitch, man. Make it work for you," Charlie says, winking at him. "Where are you staying at, by the way? It's not the Bunker, is it? Do you think Heaven's version of it would have Dot? Ooh, that would be something." 

 

Dean coughs. "Uh, you ever been to Cas' place?" 

 

"No." Charlie shoots a faint look of amusement over at Cas. "He doesn't really like a lot of guests, I'm guessing, so no one can find him if they try." 

 

"Oh," Dean murmurs. It takes him a second to rip his gaze away from Cas, from that little tidbit of information. He didn't have any problems finding Cas. Hmm. "Well, I'm with—I live with him." 

 

"Cool," Charlie chirps, "maybe you can convince him not to be such a hermit, dude. I wanna come over and have marathons. I'm thinking about face-masks and popcorn up to my ears." 

 

Dean snorts. "You have vision." 

 

"Heaven is my canvas," Charlie says with a small smirk and a flick of the wrist. 

 

She kisses his cheek before she goes, and as soon as her little yellow car is gone, Dean has Cas pinned up against a counter. Cas barely gets to complain about being interrupted in the middle of stocking the straws before Dean is kissing him a bit desperately. Cas is on board immediately, knocking over all his straws in his haste to get closer and kiss back with just as much ferocity as he's being given. 

 

"Dean?" Cas grunts when Dean rips his lips away to mouth at Cas' jaw and neck instead. 

 

"No one else could find you but me, huh?" Dean murmurs, gently biting down on the spot that Cas' fluttering pulse is trapped under, delighting in the way he hisses and arches closer. 

 

Cas hums, a gravelly sound. "Jack could, of course, but he knows I prefer my home to be—private. To even try and convince myself that I didn't want you to come and see me would be pointless. I think there were days where I looked for you and had to stop myself. I did not want you to be dead." 

 

"But you missed me," Dean mumbles. 

 

"Very much," Cas agrees, dipping his head forward as Dean lifts his, their foreheads meeting in the middle. He lifts his fingers and gently touches them to Dean's cheek, careful adoration. "Heaven could give me everything I wanted, but it could not give me you. That had to be willing on your part." 

 

"I think it's obvious that I'm pretty willing." 

 

"Yes, well, that's now. Before…I simply did not know. I did not make the conscious decision to allow you to find me so easily, Dean. That desire was not something I ever knew about. That was just Heaven giving me a chance at what I wanted most." 

 

Dean blows out an explosive breath. "I'm sorry I made you wait so long, Cas." 

 

"I would have waited for eternity," Cas says. 

 

"I know," Dean whispers. He reaches up and taps Cas' chest where his heart is, three times. Slow and gentle. I love you. 

 

"I love you, too," Cas tells him. 

 

Dean kisses him again, and Cas is more than happy to kiss back. They're still doing just that when Jack appears in the bar—not even using the door. He just shows up, and Cas is the one who notices first, turning his head to break the kiss. He jolts, clearing his throat and blinking blearily at his son. 

 

"Hello," Jack says with his customary wave. "One juice box, please." 

 

"Were you raised in a barn?" Dean mutters, pulling away from Cas and doing his absolute best to ignore the heat in his face. "Use the goddamn door, Jack, that's what it's there for. No fucking manners." 

 

"I was raised in the Bunker," Jack informs him very seriously, moving to sit at the bar. He brightens when Cas slides him a juice box. 

 

"Jack doesn't tend to use doors," Cas says with a sigh. "He can go anywhere in Heaven, with or without permission." 

 

Dean crosses his arms. "Well, not here. You come in through the door, or not at all, understand?" 

 

"I understand," Jack agrees, nodding. He's a child, and he is God, and he's still going to listen to the rules his pseudo-parents give him. It's kinda adorable. "Castiel says I have to knock when I come to the house, too. He says it's only polite. Mom doesn't make me knock when I visit her. She says I'm welcome at any time." 

 

Cas sends Dean a look. "We're having minor disagreements on parenting." 

 

"You and Kelly?" Dean asks, eyebrows raised. 

 

"Yes," Cas says. 

 

Dean chuckles. "Yeah, well, you're not parents if you're not fighting about how to do it. Boundaries are good, though. Jack, knock on more doors." 

 

"I'll try," Jack declares, eyebrows furrowed. 

 

He visits with them for a while, sipping his juice box and playing the spot-the-differences game on the back. He's got Cas and Dean in on it, in fact—Cas has spotted all twelve, but he's an asshole and won't tell Dean and Jack where they are—when the door opens again. Eileen and Sam come ambling in, and Sam has another moment of giddy delight when seeing Jack again. His dad instincts must be flaring up, because he gets misty-eyed when he claps Jack on the shoulder and ruffles his hair. 

 

Cas and Eileen almost immediately launch into conversation with their hands, and Dean has to awkwardly lean out of his seat when Eileen insists on distractedly giving him a hug. He allows the motion to get him out of his seat and lead him around the bar where he makes drinks and quietly soaks in the sight of his family. 

 

It continues in this vein for the rest of the day. 

 

Bobby comes by. Dean and Sam spend a lot of time with him, and it's really nice. 

 

Random people come in they've never met before, apparently wanting a drink bad enough to end up at this bar. When Dean asks, Cas says that people end up at places that the atmosphere suits them best, which means that this bar will be their favorite. 

 

The people closest to Dean always get around to asking him where he's staying at some point, usually just because they want to know where they could be visiting. Dean just says he's staying with Cas, and no one seems particularly surprised. Bobby just nods, says that he figured that, and then keeps right on talking. Dean doesn't know if it's because people assume that, since he died single in life, he's just okay to live with his best friend by default, or if it's because he's so transparent that everyone knows about his feelings for Cas. 

 

Whatever it is, Dean doesn't ask, and he's thankful that no one seems to feel the need to linger on it for too long. The only people who likely have a solidified idea is Sam and Eileen—and Jack, for obvious reasons—because he actually does tell them. Or, well, he weaponizes it. 

 

"How's cohabitation?" Sam asks cheekily, when the bar is empty in between visitors. 

 

Dean looks him dead in the eye, preemptively rejoicing at how much he's going to scar his little brother when he says, "Better than I expected, but getting your brains fucked out will do that to anyone, I guess. It's going great." 

 

Predictably, Sam gives a full-body flinch and stares at him in horror before he sputters, "Dean! Gross, dude, what the hell? I didn't need to know that. I mean, I'm happy for you, but come on." 

 

Dean would probably be more offended by that if Sam wasn't such a prude to begin with. If Dean had ended up with a woman and started telling Sam about his sex life, Sam's reaction would be no different. Eileen—who had been watching Dean's mouth in avid interest—leans across the bar to give the blushing Cas a very enthusiastic high-five. 

 

Anyway, the bar is a great idea. A stream of people come in throughout the day in broken-up clusters. Dean always has time to breathe between them, and when he needs a second, there are other strangers to go meet who don't know shit about him. His favorite of the day is a woman named Irene, who had died in the early fifties after poisoning her husband and outrunning the authorities. She's a riot. 

 

A lot of people visit. Ellen, Ash, Jo, Kevin and Mrs. Tran. Hell, even Adam shows up, and that results in Dean and Sam sitting down with him for a few hours to sort of...clear the air. It's not really that feasible, considering how much shit they've all been through with each other, but Adam is happy in Heaven and figures there's no point in holding any grudges. It's a very weird conversation when Adam admits that he actually, genuinely misses Michael. 

 

"You know he kinda, uh, betrayed us and the whole world in the end, right?" Sam asks tentatively. 

 

Adam shrugs. "He didn't betray me. I was already dead. He wouldn't have done it if—if—" 

 

"What, because you were special to him, or something? His favorite pet human?" Dean mutters, arching an eyebrow at him. 

 

"Well, you'd know all about that, wouldn't you, Dean?" Adam says with a pointed look towards Cas. 

 

Dean snaps his mouth shut and doesn't say another goddamn word. He doesn't, not even when Adam talks about Michael's daddy issues—but seriously, get the fuck in line, that doesn't excuse the betrayal, even if Dean won't say it. He even keeps his opinions to himself when Adam admits that he's put in something of an appeal to Jack to have Michael come to Heaven, even if only for Adam's happiness. Sam does enough of showing the dubiousness on his face for both of them, but again, neither of them say anything. They don't really have the right. 

 

Thankfully, Adam is gone by the time John and Mary come breezing in. They show up for maybe three minutes before Sam is suddenly saying that he and Eileen have to go, and Eileen—the supportive wife that she is—agrees with her arms crossed, looking John square in the eye as she flatly declares that she has a headache because the bar is too loud. 

 

Dean feels an odd sense of hero-worship for her because of that. Jesus Christ. She's wonderful. He always said she was too good for Sam, but now he's convinced Eileen is too good for everyone. 

 

Cas also makes himself busy fairly quickly, suddenly determined to go mingle with all the strangers that he absolutely didn't care about a few minutes before. This means that Dean is left alone with his mom and dad, and it's not until he nearly drops the beer he's getting his dad that he realizes he's not exactly looking forward to this. His hands are shaking. He sets his shoulders and forces them to be steady. 

 

"So, this is the dream, huh?" John asks, lightly tapping the bar as he looks around. 

 

"Something like that," Dean mutters, sliding them their drinks. More limes pop up for him to cut, which he's thankful for. It gives him a reason to stay moving and focused on other things. 

 

"It's really nice," Mary says with a warm smile. She looks around, eyebrows raised in appreciation. "I like the background music. Is that—it's The Temptations, isn't it? Papa Was a Rollin' Stone?" 

 

Dean's fingers still on the lime he's halving in two, listening. "Yeah," he says, staring down at the lime as he mechanically goes back to cutting it in half, his fingers stiff. "It's a classic." 

 

"My mom would really like it here," Mary tells him, leaning on the bar. "I should tell her to stop by. You're named after her, you know. Sam was named after my dad. It would have been nice if you two could have met them. They were...well, they—"

 

"We met your dad. Spent time with him," Dean says when she cuts herself off. Her head snaps up, eyes wide, and he gives her a thin smile. "It's a long story. He was resurrected. There wasn't a whole lot of familial affection. Sam killed him." 

 

Mary blinks. "Oh, that's—huh. Well." 

 

"Great," John mutters, "the next dinner at the in-laws is going to be war. Good going, Dean." 

 

"Met your dad, too," Dean tells him. He nods when John stares at him. "He was a good man. Dunno if he's around here, but you should try and find him. It's a long story, but he never—he didn't abandon you, not on purpose." 

 

John doesn't say anything. He just takes a long pull from his beer and looks away. 

 

"Oh, Castiel," Mary says brightly, swiveling in her seat to snag him by the arm as he goes by. He stares at her, startled, then smiles. She grins back. "You didn't think you were gonna go without saying hey to me, did you? You've been here longer than Dean, and I haven't seen you once." 

 

"I've been busy," Cas says—likely a lie. Dean taught him that. Nonetheless, he allows Mary to give him a brief hug. "I was helping Jack with reconstruction, so I didn't have a lot of time. I apologize." 

 

"It's fine, you're here now." Mary reaches out and smacks John on the shoulder. "Hey, this is the other one I was telling you about. One of my boys." 

 

John flicks his gaze over Cas, then nods at him in greeting. "Right. The angel. Yeah, I remember." 

 

Cas doesn't even look at him. 

 

"Don't mind him. He wasn't always so rough around the edges." Mary rolls her eyes, shaking her head at Cas. "So, you're helping Dean with the bar now, too? You're just out and about helping everyone, huh? Rufus said you've been giving him wood-carvings. He uses them to trade while playing poker, Castiel. You encourage his gambling habit." 

 

"I don't tell him what to do with them," is Cas' diplomatic answer. 

 

Mary huffs a laugh and nods. "Yeah, I guess you don't. It probably doesn't matter in Heaven anyway. We all have our hobbies, don't we?" 

 

"We do," Cas agrees. 

 

John passes Dean his empty bottle, and Dean wordlessly replaces it with a full one. He keeps cutting limes after, trying to focus on that and not the way he and his dad are both paying attention to Mary and Cas' conversation. 

 

"What's yours?" Mary asks. 

 

Cas seems to pause and think about that for a second, and Dean refuses to look up. So help him, if Cas' says Dean is his hobby… 

 

"Gardening," Cas says. 

 

"Oh, that's nice," Mary replies. 

 

John snorts, and Dean's head snaps up. He stares at his dad, his fingers tightening around the handle of his knife. He can practically see it, the judgement on John's face. Men don't garden, he would say, and Cas would say that couldn't be true because he gardens and he is, in fact, a man—genderless, but also a man, a distinction Cas would probably feel the need to make, and then everything would just spiral outta control from there. 

 

But all John actually does say is, "Did you tend to the plants in the Garden of Eden?" 

 

Ah, angel jokes. Less...problematic, but still. 

 

"No one tended to the plants in the Garden of Eden," Cas says. "Joshua did, however, tend to Heaven's Garden. He gave me tips, once." 

 

"What, between the time you were commanding an army of angels, or killing all of them?" Dean asks dryly, raising his eyebrows. 

 

Cas arches an eyebrow right back. "You'll have to be more specific. I've done both of those things multiple times." 

 

"Someone's modest," John comments sardonically. 

 

"He actually is," Dean mutters. 

 

"Well, I think it's nice," Mary continues, nudging Cas with her elbow. "I never really pictured you running a bar, but I think it suits you. You and Dean. Gotta have something to do around here." 

 

"When you're not at home anyway," John agrees. He glances at Dean. "Where is that for you, by the way? You ain't living with Sam, are you?" 

 

"No, sir," Dean says, his stomach cramping. He has to put the knife down for a second. "I'm actually staying with Cas." 

 

"You don't have your own place?" John asks, eyebrows folding together in visible distaste. Dean can see it clearly; he's always been good at figuring out when his dad didn't like something. 

 

"Yes," Cas answers for him. "With me." 

 

John glances at Cas, and there's a sudden shift. Dean watches it happen as if it's in slow motion. Just an abrupt straightening of John's shoulders, sitting a little taller, tension palpable in the air. It's the abrupt awareness of an incoming fight, like an old jacket that John is shrugging into. He's bracing himself for it, sizing Cas up with narrowed eyes, and Cas doesn't so much as twitch. He just meets John's gaze, staring him down, unafraid and unmoved. 

 

Dean's entire body prickles from the strain between them. He's holding his breath without even meaning to, struck dumb by the realization that Cas doesn't like John at all. He's not sure how he didn't see it, but the disdain is very fucking obvious, which is exactly what John's reacting to at the moment. You'd have to be a goddamn idiot to miss Cas' apparent desire to set John Winchester on fire—because he's got that look on his face again—and John is a lot of things, but an idiot isn't one. He's gearing up for a fight in a second, just off instinct alone, and Dean can see it. 

 

The bell over the door jingles, breaking the moment, and Dean exhales heavily, only to suck in a sharp breath when he sees who walks in. 

 

"Missouri?!" Dean blurts out. 

 

"Don't you even think about launching yourself over that bar to get to me, boy," Missouri scolds. "You'll walk around and hug me like you got some sense." 

 

Dean's shoulders relax, and he grins as he leaves his limes to walk around the counter, just like he was told. "Yes, ma'am," he says, dipping in to hug her. He could kiss her for showing up when she did, the perfect timing. Maybe she's even a psychic in Heaven, because she offers him her cheek with a smile, which he kisses. "It's good to see you." 

 

"And it's good to see you, but I wish you didn't have to die to pay me a visit," Missouri tells him, patting his shoulder with a sigh. "Tell me, Patience…" 

 

"Fine, fine," Dean says quickly. "You could probably find out more from Sam." 

 

Missouri nods. "I'll stop by to see him and his lovely wife here soon. He's going to ask me for recipes, so I need to grab a cookbook before I go. Well, aren't you going to introduce me to him?" 

 

"Who? Oh." Dean huffs a weak laugh, turning to see that Cas has abandoned John and Mary as soon as possible to hover behind him instead. "Uh, well, you already know, I'm guessing, but this is Castiel. Angel. Asshole. Halo. Hindrance. You'll love him." 

 

"No halo," Cas corrects. 

 

"Hmmm." Missouri sizes him up for a second, reaching out to put her hands on Cas' shoulders, lips pursed. After a beat, she smiles. "Yes, you'll do just fine, honey. Well, what are you two standing around for, huh? Get me a drink." She swings around to move away. "John Winchester, don't think I didn't see you trying to hide from me. Yeah, I see you. Me and Mary have a lot to talk about, and you're gonna be a part of the whole conversation." 

 

John winces. 

 

Dean decides Missouri is his new favorite person. 

 

Whatever tension had existed before is blown to smithereens by Missouri's presence. She has a way of wrangling anyone, no-nonsense and straight to the point, so very warm-hearted and well-meaning. Even Mary seems a little stunned by her, in awe, and they get on like a house on— 

 

Well, poor metaphors aside, they get along. Dean relaxes into the easy atmosphere, feeling like he can breathe properly again. He's not really sure what to do about Cas apparently hating his dad. He's not sure if there's anything he can do. 

 

Or, even wants to.  

 

It sticks in Dean's brain all day, even after John and Mary leave. He knows, realistically, that his dad wasn't the best. He has always been the one to swing wildly between defending John, or despising him, and he doesn't really know what to settle on now. It's different. This is eternity. This is Heaven, where things are...easier, in some ways. 

 

Nothing to do with John Winchester is easy. It's complicated because Dean doesn't really know how to act around him. This isn't John just showing up for a day or two because of some supernatural interference, a limited time that Dean can ignore the worst parts and focus on the best. This is eternal, this is endless time for him to have to live in his dad's presence when he loves and hates him in equal measure. Dean doesn't want to deal with that shit. 

 

When they close the bar down and go home, Dean tries to stop thinking about it. He manages through dinner. He especially manages through a shower, because when Cas goes in, Dean just follows him. He even manages through cleaning his guns and listening to Cas talk about plant maintenance. He manages right up until they're in bed. 

 

"Cas," Dean says. 

 

"Yes, Dean?" 

 

"You don't like my dad, do you?" 

 

Cas is silent for a beat, then he bluntly says, "No." 

 

"You don't even know him," Dean mumbles. 

 

"I know enough," Cas says coldly. 

 

Dean closes his eyes and sighs, pressing his head further back into his pillow. Cas reaches out to take his hand, threading their fingers together, and Dean has to swallow the knee-jerk urge to snap at him for it. Instead, he mutters, "He's my dad." 

 

"Yes, and technically, Chuck is mine," Cas snaps, fingers tightening around Dean's. "If I decided that Chuck should get a free pass for simply being my father, you would not be okay with it." 

 

"Well, yeah, but my dad didn't destroy the whole fucking world, Cas." 

 

"Is that the limit a father has to reach before he's deemed unforgivable, Dean?" 

 

"Dude, come on. It's—it's complicated, man. You know it is. Don't make this harder for me than it already is. Can't you just—" Dean wearily lifts his free hand and waves it around. "I don't know. Just stay out of it, Cas." 

 

Cas makes a low, angry sound in the back of his throat. "The fact that he is here, that I have not dragged him to Hell myself, is me staying out of it. I will not provoke your father, Dean, but I also will not stand idly by if he does something intolerable."

 

"He won't. What can he do? This is Heaven, man. He's just—he's here, and he's got Mom, and it can get easier. We just need time." Dean flips onto his side to reach out with his free hand, drawing meaningless shapes on Cas' chest. "I don't ask for much, but I'm asking now. Don't make this harder for me, Cas, please." 

 

"Fine," Cas relents, sounding very pissy about it, the asshole. "I will...stay out of it." 

 

"Thank you," Dean murmurs. He taps his fingers over Cas' heart three times, and Cas catches them in his hand, bringing them up to his mouth to kiss. 

 

"I love you, too," Cas tells him, voice softening. 

 

Dean brushes his thumb over Cas' bottom lip as relief swells within him, and he smiles, feeling the same echoed beneath his fingers. 

 


 

Garth shows up, and it's a pretty sad ordeal. He spends some time with his own family—those that died before he did—but he starts crying the moment someone makes the mistake of bringing up his wife and kids. It becomes a known rule very quickly not to bring them up when Garth is around. 

 

Alternatively, Dean has to duck down behind the bar and wheeze through laughter when Garth forces Bobby into a hug and cries all over him. Bobby keeps calling him an idjit, and it only makes Garth cry harder while beaming through laughter. 

 

Fortunately, Garth gets distracted by Sam and Eileen—they'd all apparently got closer after Dean died, later in life, something to do with their kids. Bobby gets his chance to escape to the bar with a small huff, sitting down and shaking his head. 

 

"Be nice to him," Dean teases. "He idolized you." 

 

Bobby grunts and waves his hand for a drink. "I ain't spendin' the rest of eternity letting him cry all over me. He gets just that once." 

 

"Softie," Dean says, sliding over a drink and leaning forward so Cas can scoot by to get to the Martini glasses. "Where's Rufus at today? You two are usually bickering wherever you go." 

 

"Well, we do have two separate lives, Dean," Bobby says dryly. "Different families. Different homes. Not all best friends stay together." 

 

Dean snorts. "Maybe they should. You're missing out, Bobby, lemme tell ya." 

 

"He wears my socks," Cas informs Bobby solemnly, shaking his head. "He doesn't even match them." 

 

"Well, that just ain't right," Bobby says. "I'm sorry that you have to put up with him." 

 

"Fuck off, both of you," Dean mutters, flicking a balled up piece of straw-paper at Cas with a mock-scowl. "I'm a goddamn delight to be around." 

 

"Yes," Cas agrees bluntly, "but I would appreciate it if you would stop mixing up my socks." 

 

Dean bites back a smile, twisting around to watch Cas scoot back by with a drink in his hand—Frank's by the look of it. He darts his hand out, quickly tapping Cas on the chest three times, and Cas' face softens into a smile before he continues on. 

 

The door dings just as Cas slips away, and Dean looks up as John comes ambling in. Mary isn't with him today for some reason, and Dean feels his smile drop right off his face. A blender is suddenly on the counter behind the bar, in pieces, waiting to be cleaned and put back together. Yet another thing to keep his hands busy. Great. 

 

"Hey, what's Sammy up to today?" John asks as he slides into a seat—one between him and Bobby, like bumping elbows is out of the question. 

 

Dean shrugs. "How am I supposed to know? What am I, his keeper?" 

 

"Hey now, watch your tone with me," John says, raising his eyebrows. "Just because we're already dead and in Heaven doesn't mean I won't take your ass outside." 

 

"Not that'll be a riot," Bobby declares gruffly. "I'll make sure to find Mary so she can come watch you put your kid in the dirt, eh, John? That's if you can. Dean ain't a little kid, and I think you're forgetting some of the things he has fought." 

 

John grunts and waves his hand in a motion Dean recognizes with ease—a request for a drink. As Dean passes it to him, he mutters, "Yeah, well, being dead don't mean you forget to be respectful. Anyhow, I just haven't seen Sam around that much, that's all. Can't find his damn house, either." 

 

"Maybe he doesn't want you there," Bobby suggests bluntly, leaning back in his chair in a completely unbothered fashion when John scowls at him. "I wouldn't know. I've already visited twice." 

 

"I'll let him know," Dean cuts in quickly, shooting Bobby a look before nodding at John. "When I see him again, I'll tell him. Don't worry about it, Dad. He just gets—I don't fucking know. He's probably absorbed in a book or something, the nerd." 

 

"Tell him to get a goddamn phone while you're at it. This is Heaven, not the stone age," John grumbles, shaking his head and taking a swallow of beer. 

 

"Right," Dean mumbles, focusing back on the blender, grimacing when Bobby snorts derisively. 

 

Well, there's no love loss there, unsurprisingly. Dean knows Bobby and John have a history, mostly revolving around how John raised Sam and Dean, up to and including how he kinda didn't. He also knows that Bobby and John have an odd friendship of sorts that they maintain, for whatever reasons. Dean's caught snippets from others saying that they've done things together, drinking or fishing or whatever the fuck it is that old men do. It's like they keep up something to do with each other for reasons Dean doesn't really understand, even though he knows Bobby has issues with John—always did. It's just another complicated relationship. 

 

"You know, Dean, yours isn't the only bar in Heaven," John says. "Ellen's got one. The Roadhouse. That pretty little girl of hers helps her run it. Said they knew you years and years ago." 

 

"Yes, sir," Dean agrees idly, unsure where this is going. He scoots forward again when Cas swings behind the bar to make yet another drink. 

 

"What's the story there?" John asks. 

 

Dean holds Cas' gaze for a moment, and Cas just narrows his eyes and turns away, so Dean figures nothing bad is going to happen. "Not much of one, really. Well, kinda. It was the end of the world. Uh, the first one. Everyone talks about it, so I'm sure you've got the idea of what was going on. Lucifer, mainly. Some demons. Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Angels being dicks. Um, not Cas. Anyway, Ellen and Jo helped with...everything, really." 

 

"What am I, chopped liver?" Bobby grouses. 

 

"No, 'course not," Dean says indulgently, rolling his eyes. "You did your part, too." 

 

"So, you were all pretty close, huh?" John asks. 

 

"Yeah, you could say that," Dean allows, frowning as he tries to click the blender into place. 

 

John hums. "Whatcha think of that Harvelle girl?" 

 

"Ellen?" Dean muses, not even looking up. "She's great. Badass. Love her bar. Why?" 

 

"No, not Ellen," John snaps. "Jo." 

 

Dean glances up, hands going still. "You talk to her, or something?" 

 

"No, not really," John admits. "She didn't serve me when I stopped by. Ellen did, though." 

 

"Her dad—" Dean stops, unsure how best to approach this situation. He clears his throat. "You remember Bill?" 

 

"Yeah, I do. He's there with them. He…" 

 

"Died on a hunt with you." 

 

John takes another pull from his drink, lips pursing, but he nods. "Yeah. She knows?" 

 

"Yeah," Dean says. 

 

"I take it she isn't very fond of me then, huh?" 

 

"No, sir, I'd say she ain't." 

 

"She fond of you?" John asks, eyebrows raised. 

 

Dean blinks. "Uh, she likes me well enough, I guess. We were—um, we got along well before she died. We've spoken since I've been here. We're...friends." 

 

"Pretty girl like that who doesn't put up with anyone's shit, and you wanna be her friend?" John declares, doubt clear in his tone. 

 

There's a shatter from behind Dean, and he goes rigid, already knowing what's happened before he turns. Sure enough, when he looks, Cas has apparently clenched the glass of the drink he was making so hard that it broke into pieces. Ah, shit, Dean thinks, his heart thumping unevenly. 

 

"Shut it down," Cas grits out, whirling around on the spot to glare at Dean. "Now." 

 

"Yup," Dean blurts out, hastily whipping around to bang his hand down on the bar. The background music cuts out and everyone goes silent. "Hey, we're closing early. Everyone out!" 

 

As if his announcement isn't clear enough, everyone's drinks abruptly disappear from their hands. People do fuss, but they don't stick around to do it, so that's all that matters. Everyone starts filing out, the bell over the door dinging over and over. 

 

"Oh, boy," Bobby mutters, but he slides off his stool with a sigh. 

 

John is staring incredulously at Dean. "You've got to be kidding me. Just like that? He tells you to close, and you just do it?" 

 

"Out," Cas snarls. 

 

"Who the fuck—" John cuts himself off when Dean slides in front of Cas with a tight smile. 

 

"Something came up," Dean lies. "Heaven stuff. Just, um, come around later, okay? Bobby, don't you—" 

 

"Yeah, just the thing," Bobby cuts in easily, reaching out to clap John on the shoulder. "Come on, I got some whiskey that don't need no memories to taste like Heaven. Let these idjits sort out whatever it is that's needin' sorting out." 

 

John scoffs, eyebrows dropping low. "My own son kicking me outta his bar." 

 

Wouldn't be the first, Dean thinks. 

 

"Wouldn't be the first," Bobby says, jerking his head towards the door. "Hop to it, skippy. We've got places to be, and don't think I won't call Mary to light a fire under your ass." 

 

The bar door opens with a loud bang! Dean keeps his face perfectly smooth, despite knowing that Cas is growing more and more pissed right behind him. He can almost feel the anger, like a tangible brush against his skin. He's got fucking goosebumps. 

 

The threat of Mary seems to do the trick, because John throws one more calculating look at Cas before turning and marching out the door, cursing under his breath. Bobby looks at Dean, shakes his head, then leaves, too. The door slams shut behind them the moment they're gone, and the snap of the lock flicking makes Dean's already racing heart speed up to alarming levels. He has to remind himself that he can't have a heart attack here in Heaven. 

 

"Cas," is all that Dean gets out of his mouth before he's being yanked around, shoved roughly up against the counter, and kissed with reckless abandon. 

 

Dean barely has time to get his balance before he's being manhandled onto the counter, knees shoved apart, the button of his jeans nearly ripped off before Cas' hands manage to yank it open. Cas is thoroughly plundering his mouth, intense and hot, making Dean's head spin and all common sense go skittering in endless, different directions. He doesn't realize he's moaning until it cuts into a choked sound as Cas curls his fingers into the waist of his jeans and underwear to yank them down. 

 

"Lean back," Cas orders sharply, pressing his hand to the middle of Dean's chest and pushing. 

 

Dean tilts backwards, heaving a deep breath, eyes rolling around a little uselessly. The faucet of the sink behind the bar is digging into his back, but he only just feels it. His head drops down until the curve of the back of his skull rests on the bar, right where his dad was sitting. Scrambling to make sense of this situation, Dean braces the heel of his boots against the shelves below the counter, more glass shattering as he accidentally knocks over the ones stacked there—wine glasses, he thinks deliriously. 

 

His jeans are pulled down just enough to free his half-hard dick, and he lifts his head with words on his lips, but fuck if he knows what they were gonna be. The moment Cas bends down and takes Dean into his mouth, the ability to speak or remember what he was going to say flees him. He releases a high-pitched garble and slams his head back against the bar, sucking in a sharp breath as his shaking fingers fumble for Cas' unruly hair. 

 

It's not like Dean's never gotten a blowjob before. Never from a man, sure, but a mouth is a mouth, so whatever gender owns it isn't going to change that much. That being said, it's less about technique and the mouth itself at this moment. Mainly, it revolves around the general feel of the whole thing, the mood. And, right now, the whole point of this seems to be fucking Dean's whole world up, which Cas is managing just fine. Dean goes along with it because, well, because he can't really help it. 

 

Blowjob scores aside, Cas is clearly making a point. He's not fucking around. This isn't a goddamn joke to him. Whether he's ever done this before this very moment or not, he obviously has some idea of how he wants this to go in his head. He seems focused on sucking hard and deep, making Dean release stunned sounds, and then just...not letting up. 

 

If it ain't broke, don't fix it—that kinda thing. Whatever seems to make Dean the loudest, that's what Cas does and continues to do relentlessly. 

 

Cas figures out in less than a minute flat that Dean especially likes it when he takes him all the way in and swallows around the head, and then he just keeps doing that. Dean wonders, vaguely and little hysterically, if Cas is managing just because they're in Heaven, so he can just will himself to have no gag-reflex and no worry of being suffocated. Whatever the reason, Dean is pretty sure that he's not going to survive it—dead as he already is and all. 

 

Of course, a lot of this has to do with the tension, with the way Cas is digging one hand into his thigh hard enough to leave bruises, the other pressed flat to Dean's chest above his own head, pinning Dean to the bar. It has to do with the knowledge that Cas was—jealous, maybe? Was that what that was? Pissed, for sure, just at the mere insinuation that Dean would run off and find himself a pretty girl to end up with. 

 

Cas hums around him, and Dean chokes out, "Oh my fucking—oh, Jesus fucking Christ, Cas." 

 

The hand in the middle of Dean's chest shifts, fingers curling in, and then it slides up. Dean feels it, the weight of the fingers digging into his sternum, then his throat, then his jaw. There's a pressure against his cheeks, fingertips pressing in, forcing Dean to open his mouth. Why? Dean doesn't know, and he doesn't really care, either. 

 

He just opens his mouth because that's apparently what Cas wants him to do. He finds out the point of it a moment later when Cas' thumb slides between his parted lips, easing in slowly, suggestively. It's so sensual for literally no reason, and Dean hears it echo in his mind when he moans—a long, filthy sound that goes muffled by the finger in his mouth. 

 

Cas' fingers curl around his jaw, digging into the tender, vulnerable underside. Dean's hips jerk, eyes squeezing shut as heat spreads through every inch of him, inside and out. He's moaning again, louder this time, and Cas' thumb presses down on his tongue, pushing it flat and wrenching his lips open. 

 

His whole body locks up, and the only goddamn thing he can think to do is cry out and suck a little frantically on Cas' finger, his head swimming as his release slams into him. He flinches against the bar, Cas' forearm still pinning him down while his hand holds Dean's head in place by fingers gripping in and outside of his mouth. He doesn't even have the mind to try and warn Cas, but there's no need to. 

 

Cas just...swallows. 

 

He keeps swallowing, even after Dean has nothing else to give, even after Dean is twitching against the bar, even after Dean starts going soft in his mouth. The sensitivity of it is so bad that the corners of Dean's eyes prick with heat when he feels the soft, hot tightening of Cas' throat constricting around his spent length. He gives a muffled whimper, yanking on Cas' hair, hips jerking uselessly. 

 

Finally, finally, Cas unfolds from above him, slipping his finger out of Dean's mouth and immediately putting it into his own. Dean stares at him, dazed, trying to make sense of...literally anything. He's shaking so bad that the glasses on the counter not yet pushed to the ground are rattling. 

 

Cas tugs his finger out of his mouth with a pop and says, "Turn over." 

 

"You're—you're going to kill me," Dean wheezes. 

 

"Impossible," Cas says. Then, again, "Turn over."

 

Dean closes his eyes. "Cas, I don't really think my legs are going to be able to hold me up so you can bend me over the counter and fuck me." 

 

"Hm." Cas pauses, and when Dean cracks open one eye, he seems to be considering that seriously. He ends up nodding. "Okay, get on your knees." 

 

"Oh my god," Dean whispers, his whole body twitching again. 

 

It's so unnecessarily hot that Dean thinks it might actually be a blessing in disguise that they waited to do this sort of shit until after they were dead. Dean's just fully fucking convinced that he wouldn't be able to survive this otherwise. If Cas had done this type of shit when they were alive, Dean's very sure he would have been ruined beyond repair—not that he isn't or wasn't already, but still, this would have been a different type of destruction. 

 

Fuck, he would have been so weak for Cas. 

 

He knows this, because he is right now. Even though he's trembling all over and feels like cooked noodles, he still shimmies his pants back up and practically flops to the floor. It's sort of graceless, but he does manage to get on his knees, and it's only because his brain has been sucked right outta his dick that he doesn't think very hard about it. 

 

Dean is on his knees in front of another man, his best friend, and he's genuinely so fucked out that he doesn't really care. He just tips his head back, eyes drooping low, and he waits. 

 

Admittedly, he has no idea what Cas' plans are, and maybe he'd be panicking about the implications some other time. If this is going to be the first time he has a dick in his mouth, so be it. Cas could probably do anything to him right now, and Dean would just let it happen. 

 

What Cas' plan turns out to be is not Dean sucking his dick. No, instead, it's something oddly filthier than that—hotter, too, not that Dean would ever admit that out loud. Cas just opens his pants, sliding down the zipper, gets his dick out, and proceeds to fuck his own fist while staring at Dean with bright eyes. Dean blinks up at him, sort of hazy and lost, unable to watch what his hand is doing when Cas is staring down at him like that. So fucking intense. 

 

Cas' hand reaches out, brushing Dean's cheek. His thumb presses into his bottom lip, catching against it. Dean's lips part almost automatically, a Pavlovian response that only took once to train. Cas sucks in a sharp breath, and that's all the warning Dean gets. It's enough time for him to, thankfully, close his eyes as Cas covers his face. 

 

In abstract, it's kinda gross. Or, it should be, at least. Someone just came on his face. It's hot and wet and sticky. However, in reality, Dean has to resist the urge to reach up and swipe his fingers through the mess just to actively feel the evidence of the wild implications of it. He doesn't, which turns out to be a good thing, because there's the drag of a zipper and the dull thud of Cas hitting his knees as well. 

 

And then—well, Cas proceeds to clean him up with his mouth. Again. Which is, once more, somehow very hot to Dean's pudding-brain. 

 

Once he apparently deems the mess gone, Cas pulls back and says, "We have the rest of the day off. I think we should visit Jack." 

 

"Cas, man, you gotta—you gotta give me a second. Jesus Christ," Dean mumbles, flopping back on his ass with a wheezing, choked laugh. He wipes his hand across his face, grimacing at the slightly wet quality to it from Cas' tongue. 

 

"Maybe at Sam and Eileen's," Cas continues, like nothing world-altering just happened. "We should go there first. I know how to call Jack. If he isn't at his mother's, he'll show up." 

 

"Hey, could we—I dunno—shift focus for a second, dude?" Dean mutters, staring at him a little incredulously. "You just—you just—" 

 

Cas flicks his gaze over Dean's face, a sheepish quality to his blue eyes. "You weren't complaining at the time, in my defense." 

 

"No, uh, I wasn't. You got me there." Dean clears his throat and sits his elbows on his knees. "But still, you can't just throw a tantrum and screw my brains out whenever you get jealous." 

 

"I like Jo very much," Cas says diplomatically, which isn't even close to an agreement. 

 

Dean snorts. "Yeah, I get that. It's not about Jo so much as the, um, idea. Right? Just the thought that I would...end up with someone else. Anyone else." 

 

"Well," Cas says, frowning, "yes, that's right." 

 

"Okay, well, I won't," Dean murmurs. "You don't have to worry about shit like that. I'm not going anywhere, so unclench a little." 

 

"I'm not worried." Cas sounds sincere, at least. He tilts his head, squinting. "I just don't like it." 

 

"Right, got it. Crystal clear on that one, buddy," Dean says with a snort. He points at his own face, raising his eyebrows. "You know, it would have probably been faster if you just pissed on me, you possessive bastard." 

 

Cas hums. "Yes, but it wouldn't have felt as good for both parties involved." 

 

"You're so stupid," Dean mutters, reaching out to grab Cas' tie and drag him closer. "C'mere." 

 

"Do you want me to apologize?" Cas whispers against his mouth, their noses brushing. 

 

Dean huffs a laugh and nips his bottom lip a little playfully. "Don't you fucking dare." 

 

Cas makes a pleased noise in the back of his throat and kisses him harder. Dean wraps his arms around his shoulders and lets him. He probably shouldn't be sprawled out in a mess of glass with Cas, making out slow and sweet, because it's kind of idiotic. Nonetheless, he does it anyway, because there's nothing else he wants to be doing. 

 

He could get used to doing what he wants, he thinks, especially if it's going to be like this. 

 


 

It's a few weeks before Dean sees his dad again. 

 

Behind the counter, Cas is cleaning out the blender, frowning gently down at multiple pieces that it breaks into, trying to figure out how to put it back together. Dean steps up behind him to watch, hooking his chin on his shoulder because it's only Sam and Eileen inside the bar at the moment, and he doesn't bother to help. Cas likes to do things on his own, and Dean likes watching him concentrate on seemingly simple things. It causes a surge of affection to burst warm and bright in his chest. 

 

Dean sighs and squeezes Cas' hips. "Sam wants a goddamn Strawberry Daiquiri—frozen. I feel like everything I did for him was for nothing."  

 

"The other blender is clean," Cas tells him, not even looking up from what he's doing. 

 

"Yeah, okay, but I feel like you're not taking me seriously here, man. A Strawberry Daiquiri, Cas." Dean moves over to start the drink, clicking his tongue to hide his amusement. "If I knew dying would lead him to drinking shit like that, I would have waited and saved him from himself." 

 

Cas sends him an arch look. "You like Strawberry Daiquiris, Dean. And Piña Coladas. And—" 

 

"In the comfort of my own home where no one can rightfully judge me for it," Dean interrupts, leaning over to raise his eyebrows, getting a small thrill out of the way Cas' eyes brighten briefly when he calls their home his own, claiming it. 

 

"Rightfully," Cas repeats flatly, staring at him like he most certainly is judging Dean for it, and more. He rolls his eyes and turns back to his disassembled blender, eyebrows furrowing again. 

 

Dean finishes Sam's drink and plasters himself against Cas' back again, just because he can. "You look like you're struggling." 

 

"I can do it," Cas murmurs. 

 

"Mhm." Dean reaches around Cas' body, under his arms, to grab the two pieces that have to click in first. "Start here. You have to twist them until they click in, or the whole damn thing will come apart and spill everywhere the next time you use it." 

 

"I see," Cas tells him, in a tone that suggests he does not, in fact, see. He leans back into Dean, humming, clearly distracted and not paying attention at all—it's the reason they barely get anything done around here, and also why Cas doesn't know how to do the damn blenders by now. 

 

Dean drops his forehead into the curve of Cas' shoulder, closing his eyes. The warmth of him is heady and inviting. He's tempted to close the bar down early and just go home, get a little lost in Cas' mouth and skin, which is a thing they do often enough now, since the last time, that literally no one would be surprised if they came by to see the place shut down for the day. 

 

Heaven is a strange place to be in love, but it seems only fitting that they'd do it here, too. Having started their journey in Hell, went through what they did in Purgatory, and experienced so much together on Earth, Heaven just seems like completing the whole set. Shit, they've had a thing for each other in every place they could—even the Empty, if he really thinks about it, considering how Cas died the final time that he did. 

 

"Sam is waiting," Cas says suddenly, leaning forward and shrugging Dean off, ducking his head as he focuses on the blender. "Take him his drink. Your parents are approaching, so I'll start making theirs." 

 

"Yeah, yeah," Dean mumbles, pulling back to grab Sam's drink and take it to him. If he takes a small sip on the way over, no he did not because he is a respectable bar-owner and would never do that. 

 

The tiny chime of the door comes on overhead as Mary and John ease inside, and Dean nods at them as he passes. Mary smiles warmly, while John takes one look at the drink in Dean's hands and grimaces. Dean picks up his pace and resists the urge to toss the drink out and bring Sam a beer instead. 

 

"About damn time," Sam mutters, picking up his drink and happily sipping out of the bright yellow straw like the pink umbrella poking him in the cheek doesn't bother him at all. Eileen watches him fondly. When he pulls away with a sigh, he grins up at Dean. "You know, it could just be because of my old age, but that just tastes better than whiskey." 

 

"Don't actually agree, but alright," Dean says. 

 

Sam's gone all starry-eyed, though, and there's no stopping him now as he gazes at Eileen. "Tastes like our fifth anniversary. We went to—" 

 

"—that hotel-bar, yeah," Eileen cuts in, her fingers flying as she signs along. "We pretended to be strangers for a night. It was nice." 

 

"Okay, if you two are going to be disgustingly sweet right in front of me, I'm gonna go," Dean mutters, jerking his thumb over his shoulder. 

 

"Yeah, you're gonna have to go," Sam admits, grinning with all teeth. "Send Mom over, will you? I never finished telling her about Dean's first crush." 

 

"You never told me about that, either," Dean muses as he backs away, a little bemused as always to hear his name applied to Sam's son. It was nice of him and all, but it can get confusing for some during conversation, plus it's kinda cliche. Whatever, he's not gonna judge. "You said it was hilarious." 

 

"You're gonna love this one," Sam says. "Took him when he was fourteen to meet Garth and the kids for the first time. Cas was seventeen, and Dean was infatuated instantly. Pretty much swore off Sam because that was the name of his dad, but Castiel? Yeah, he was fair game. It was a fucking riot to see history repeat itself, you know?" 

 

Dean flips him off. "Die." 

 

"Already did," Sam retorts cheerfully. "Dean took after his dear ol' uncle in that case, anyway. Cas—the young one, I mean, obviously—literally had no idea. He went off to college, and Dean was a wreck about it."

 

"His first heartbreak, that Cas," Eileen says with a soft, nostalgic sigh. 

 

"Tough break," Dean says weakly, then can't help but send out a ridiculous thought to his nephew along the lines of yeah, me too, kid. 

 

"He really took after you in that case," Sam teases, lips curling up. 

 

"Fuck off," Dean mutters. "Cas wasn't my first—" 

 

"Oh, please," Sam cuts in with a snort. "I know I'm old, but my memory ain't shit up here. I remember your heartbreak quite well, young man." 

 

"Can you stop acting like you're older than me just because I died young?" Dean grumbles as he pivots in place. He calls over his shoulder a sharp, "And seriously, fuck off!"  

 

Sam just laughs at him as he goes. 

 

Mary and John are taking the drinks that Cas slides to them when Dean swings back around the counter. He smiles at Mary when she smiles at him, nodding his head and saying, "Sam said to send you over. He's got a story about your grandchild's first crush. Apparently, I'm not the last Dean to be a little too, uh, attached to a Cas." 

 

"Ah, right." Mary's eyes sparkle a little as she picks up her glass and slides off her stool. She pats John's hand with her free one. "I'll be back." 

 

"Mhm," John says, lips twitching as she walks away, his gaze trailing after her. He still looks at her every day like she's the only beautiful woman in the world, which can be a little insulting to Adam's mother, who actually lives across town and does everything within her power not to come across John. 

 

Dean would have figured that awkward encounters wouldn't exist in Heaven, but they apparently do. That likely wasn't a fun experience for his dad, having to watch Kate and Mary interact, and Dean is thankful he wasn't there to see it, even if he heard about it later from gossipmonger Bobby. 

 

On top of that, Bobby said John looked mildly uncomfortable when he found out that Adam, Sam, and Dean all got together, like two worlds colliding in the most discomforting way possible. Dean perhaps shouldn't get a vindictive surge of amusement about that, but he usually tends to. 

 

"Your nephew," Cas starts, eyebrows tumbling together, "and a...girl named Cassie, I presume?" 

 

Dean snorts. "That's not very progressive of you, Cas. Nah, I dunno if you ever found out, but Garth named his twin sons Sam and Castiel. The nephew apparently met 'em and fell head over heels for Castiel at one glance." 

 

"Oh." Cas blinks, then squints. "Garth named a child after me? He never said." 

 

"You know he doesn't talk much about Beth and the kids. Makes him sad," Dean tells him, knocking his elbow into Cas' arm, only to freeze when Cas leans away from him. Okay, weird. 

 

John plunks his glass down and leans forward on his elbows. "Hey, whaddya think about heading to an old fishing spot that dried up before I was even twenty? Real nice location. It's about an hour's drive for some reason, but Bobby and Rufus agreed to go."

 

"Ah, I can't," Dean says. "Cas and I—" 

 

"You should go," Cas interrupts, looking straight ahead, directly to the left of John. 

 

Dean stares at him. "What?" 

 

"He's got the right idea," John cuts in, focused entirely on Dean. "Whatever plans you got can't be more important than spending some time with your old man. Just cancel 'em." 

 

Actually, Dean's plans consist of him and Cas taking the four hour drive to go visit Kelly. She's living in a place that looks like New York, and she has herself a real nice apartment with—well, with the former president. Cas and her are pretty close friends, actually, which is fair, considering everything they've been through together. They don't always get to see each other as much as they like, so Cas being willing to cancel the trip is pretty weird. 

 

Anyway, fuck that. If Dean wanted to go fishing with his dad, he'd have rolled up in Baby and asked his mom, who would have bullied John into it, no matter what was going on. It'd be nice to see Bobby and Rufus, sure, but he sees them pretty damn often. And really, Dean doesn't wanna go unless Sam is going to be there, and there's a likely chance that he won't be. Sam will claim back pain in the way that means he's actually in no mood to deal with their dad, and well...fair enough. 

 

"You should go," Cas tells him again. 

 

"What about Kelly?" Dean asks, frowning. 

 

Cas blinks at him. "I will let her know you send your regards, if you want." 

 

"Oh." Dean is struck with the sudden thought that Cas isn't planning to cancel his trip at all. No, instead, he's clearly fine to spend a day away from Dean (and possibly overnight, because they do sometimes stay over). "Right. Are you, uh, sure?" 

 

"Yes," Cas says. 

 

John knocks on the bar. "He said he's sure. You don't have to hold his hand through everything. There, it's settled. Bring the car. I'd like to get her out on the road at some point." 

 

"Cas is taking her," Dean says quickly, heading off that request before it can even get any further. He ignores his father's scowl entirely and turns to Cas, crossing his arms. "Dude, you okay? You're—" 

 

"Fine," Cas cuts him off, stepping back when Dean reaches out to him. "If you'll excuse me, there's something I wish to speak with Eileen about." 

 

Before Dean can open his mouth to so much as argue, Cas is walking away to go join the others. Dean stares after him, blinking, feeling oddly out of sorts. That's just fucking weird. Cas doesn't really act all that stiff anymore, and he sure as hell doesn't pull away when Dean tries to get close to him. 

 

Are they fighting? They do that sometimes. Wouldn't feel right if they didn't. It's usually about stupid, small shit that Dean forgets by the time they're making up. Occasionally, they'll have some huge fights about heavier things, about some of the shit they left behind when they were alive. 

 

But, usually, they don't fight that much. Bickering is always on the table, but that's fun. It's actually flirting, most of the time. Generally speaking, though, they're always happy and just struggling to keep their hands off each other. It's good. It's really good, in fact. Being with Cas like this is goddamn delight, and he regrets most that he never got to do it while actually alive. 

 

Seeing as most of their fights are ridiculous, Dean wonders what the fuck he did this time. It's pretty hard to mess things up in Heaven—physically, at least—so it's gotta be something he said. He does that sometimes too, often not even meaning to. He's a natural asshole, and it can and has gotten him in trouble with Cas, even here. But what the fuck did he say? He wracks his brain, trying to figure out what he's going to need to apologize for, but he comes up empty. He has no idea. 

 

"You look like a kicked dog," John tells him, staring at him flatly, a downward tick to his lips. 

 

Dean automatically straightens up and rips his gaze away from where he was (mournfully) looking over at Cas. "When is everyone heading out?" 

 

"Bobby and Rufus should make it over to mine just a bit before the sun rises. It's going to be an all-day thing." John arches an eyebrow at him. "You're really letting him take the car?" 

 

"Yes, sir," Dean says, looking down in relief when there's a small clink of glasses—there are suddenly a line of mugs that need to be wiped out, giving him something to do with his hands. "Baby is pretty fast and he's got farther to go. It ain't a big deal. If it was Sam, I'd let him take Baby, too." 

 

"It isn't Sam," John points out. 

 

Dean just shrugs and focuses on the glass he's meticulously wiping. There's silence between them until Mary eventually drifts back over, and he spends the rest of the time talking to her. He hasn't known her nearly as long as his dad, and not as well, but it's somehow a lot easier to deal with her than him. 

 

He breathes easier when they leave. 

 

When he tries to rope Sam into going fishing with them, Sam just grimaces and says, "Ah, can't. Pretty sure I pulled a muscle or something." 

 

"Dude, you can't pull a muscle in Heaven," Dean grumbles. "You can just tell me you don't want to spend time around Dad, you know. It's—I'm not going to be a dick about it." 

 

"I know," Sam says, his voice softening. He looks down, eyebrows furrowed. "I guess I'm just...guilty, man. I mean, it doesn't feel right to just leave you to deal with him, but…" 

 

"Hey, come on, what do you have to be guilty for, huh?" Dean reaches out and lightly smacks him on the arm. "Whatever your reasons to keep your distance, I ain't gonna fuss at you about 'em. I got over that shit in my thirties, I think. Dad is—it's fine. I know how to handle him. I know you never really figured out how to, not really." 

 

Sam glances at him, frowning. "It's worse now, I think. It's different when you raise your own. You wanna know something? When I first found out Eileen was pregnant, I was scared. Really scared. I didn't want to do it without you, for a start, but I was also terrified I'd be like Dad." 

 

"He wasn't that bad," Dean mutters, a reflex that makes him grimace—he's half-convinced that it's true, while a part of him thinks it's a lie. 

 

"He was worse," Sam says sharply. "Like I said, it's different when you raise your own. I know he didn't have it the easiest, but I couldn't ever imagine abandoning my fucking kid at some hotel room. We would go weeks without hearing a word from him. It was like he didn't even care, and you were—" 

 

"Sam," Dean cuts in harshly. 

 

Mouth clacking shut, Sam looks away and clears his throat. "It's just really hard to—to see it the way I do now. I didn't—I never really realized just how much you took care of me. I mean, I knew, but I didn't really know until I raised a kid of my own. I realized somewhere along the way that I was doing shit for my son that you did for me, and you were only six years old, man. And Dad—" Sam shakes his head, blowing out a deep breath. "If we're being really honest here, Dean, I should be calling you Dad, and probably Mom, too—not them. I love them, don't get me wrong, but I don't think I can spend a lot of time with them without hurting their feelings or getting into a fight, Dad especially." 

 

"You don't have to worry about it, Sammy," Dean says, his voice softening. "I'll handle it." 

 

"Just like always, huh?" Sam asks, lips twisting bitterly as he shakes his head. 

 

Dean shrugs and smiles slightly. "That's what I do, man. Doesn't matter how old you get, I'm always gonna take care of you." 

 

"Like that," Sam rasps, face spasming with a peculiar look of pain. "That's the shit I mean. Those are the things I have said to my son. Those are the things Dad should say to me, not you." 

 

"Give him a little more credit," Dean mumbles, averting his eyes. "If you needed him…" 

 

"I know. Well, sometimes. There were times when we needed him and he wasn't there. But I never really needed him, just you. And Dean," Sam says, ducking his head to look at him seriously, "it's not him saying it. That's the point." 

 

"Cut him some slack," Dean whispers. 

 

"You do that enough for both of us." Sam reaches out and claps his shoulder with a sigh. "Look, I'll try to be—I want to make it easier, maybe take some of the weight off of you. I know you're—struggling a bit, especially because of...Cas." 

 

Dean closes his eyes briefly, releasing a deep breath. "I'm not—I don't know how to—" 

 

"It's none of his business," Sam declares firmly. 

 

"I know," Dean agrees. 

 

Sam watches him for a long moment, then he blows out an explosive breath. "Just give me a little more time. Not the fishing trip, but the next...whatever he decides to do, I'll be there, okay? For you." 

 

"You don't have—" 

 

"Dean, shut up and let me do this." 

 

"Sam," Dean starts, but Sam just stands firm, not budging on this. Dean sighs and nods. "Okay." 

 

He feels an odd sense of guilt for how much that actively reassures him. It's a weird guilt. The kind that has to do with feeling so tangled up about his dad that his brother being around to take some of the attention would be a relief. The kind that has to do with feeling like he's kind of throwing Sam into the crossfire, even though there's no danger, or there shouldn't be. He's really fucking used to handling shit so Sam doesn't have to, and the idea that Sam will be trying to do some of that for him now is… 

 

They've been through a lot, but Dean still has that natural instinct to take the full brunt of anything and everything that Sam doesn't want or shouldn't have to deal with. Even in Heaven. Dean's pretty sure that's just a part of him. 

 

He's a little quiet for most of the day, his brain working in overdrive not to make a big deal about the upcoming fishing trip. On top of that, Cas is being a little weird, too. He's always weird, but this is a little different. 

 

Dean's struggling to wrap his mind around the fact that Cas is actually going to go see Kelly without him. Since Dean has been here, they've gone to visit her three times, and they stayed the night twice. Dean has literally slept next to Cas every single night since he stepped foot in Heaven, and he's a little—well, admittedly, he's kinda upset that he might spend a night without him. 

 

It's a little odd because Cas is back to normal by the time they make it back home. He waters his plants and drags Dean outside to laze around in the hammock, his back to Dean's chest as he reads. He eventually falls asleep there, the book falling from slack fingers to land haphazardly on the ground. Dean runs his hands through Cas' hair and tries not to worry about anything for a couple of hours at least, and then he wakes Cas up for dinner. 

 

"You're really letting me take Baby?" Cas asks later that night, when they're both just settling under the covers and facing each other. 

 

The truth is, Dean hasn't let John drive Baby. He has been avoiding that. He's not sure why, exactly, but the mere idea of it makes him feel… Well, he isn't too keen on it, is all. Maybe it's just a small, possessive kind of thing. Baby isn't his; Baby is Dean's. It doesn't matter who she belonged to first. No one gets to drive her without his say so, and they sure as hell don't get to demand it, not even John fucking Winchester. Dean will put his foot down on that if he has to—respect his fucking car, and respect that it's his. Cas does that. John doesn't. 

 

Dean hums. "Yeah, man. That okay?" 

 

Cas' answer to that question is to climb over him and knock his legs apart while kissing him, then scooping up the lube that falls by Dean's head. He opens Dean up torturously slow, taking him apart and then filling in all his empty spaces. They tangle up together, gasping, sweaty. Cas fucks him for a long time, for hours, taking his time, making Dean ache for it to the point that he's begging shamelessly for release by the end of it. 

 

And, at the end of it, Cas cleans him up with his mouth, as he always does, before scooting backwards into Dean's chest. Sometimes he demands to be the little spoon without ever opening his goddamn mouth, and Dean has to press his smile against the back of Cas' neck as he settles in. He curls his arm over Cas' chest, tapping out I love you over his heart, and Cas catches Dean's fingers in his own, tangling them together, kissing them. 

 

He says it back, "I love you, too," and they drift off to sleep without another word between them. 

 

When Dean wakes, Cas and Baby are gone. 

 

Fishing with his dad isn't as bad as he thought it was going to be, especially with Bobby and Rufus there doing most of the talking. Besides, fishing is kind of a quiet activity, which works in his favor. 

 

Dean's favorite version of his dad has always been this one. Not drunk, not wound up from having no leads to Yellow-Eyes for a while, not bitching at Dean about Sam, not disappearing for days and weeks at a time. Just the best kind of John Winchester in Dean's memory—sitting relaxed somewhere, nursing a beer, in a good mood. This is when it's easiest to be around John, and Dean realizes that he has missed it. 

 

Maybe it's because of Mary, but John seems lighter, a little happier, less of a hardass about everything. He still demands respect, but Dean knows goddamn well that John will always do that. At the very least, this is—well, it's as close to easy as it's ever going to get, Dean's sure. He basks in it. 

 

John ends up being the one dropping Dean off at the end of the day, back at Dean's place, and he looks very impressed by the glowing lake. Dean explains about the glowworms and the fireflies and that, yes, he has that view every night. 

 

"Cas thought it up," Dean admits, trying to keep the underlying tremble of pride out of his voice—failing to do so. "It's something he wanted, I guess. He's kinda—well, he's pragmatic about a lot of things, so this was sort of indulgence on his part." 

 

"Uh huh." John glances at him, grimacing a little, then looks away. "What's his deal anyway? I know he's your friend, but he's really fucking weird." 

 

Dean stiffens a little. "He's not—he's actually pretty badass. If you knew him...well, he's been around longer than you and I were ever even thought about. When he first showed up, he was practically a machine, and it was like he was on this setting to just...do whatever the fuck he was told. Didn't matter if it was right or wrong, he had his orders and he was supposed to follow 'em." 

 

"And?" John asks, sounding skeptical. 

 

"And then he just...rebelled," Dean mutters, the weight of his words hitting him even as he says them. He clears his throat. "He spent the next decade and some change basically giving God the finger while helping people. I mean, he tried his best, and he made some mistakes, fumbled here and there, but so did everyone else. Hell, so did me and Sammy. In Cas' defense, he ain't human. Even when he was human, he wasn't human. He's—he's not weird, Dad, he's just...Cas." 

 

John swings around in his seat, staring at him. He purses his lips, then grunts. "You oughta tell him to stop looking at me the way he does. I don't care if he's Jesus Christ himself, I won't just lay down and take that shit just because you're on some E.T. kick." 

 

"That's just his face," Dean lies. 

 

"Well, he can fix it, or I can fix it for him," John says shortly, raising his eyebrows. 

 

Once again, Dean stiffens. His jaw unlocks, and he very firmly says, "With all due respect, sir, no you won't. You aren't gonna lay a hand on him." 

 

"Excuse me?" John blurts. "He's a grown man, Dean. If he wants to pick a fight with me, I'll fucking finish it, so you might wanna tell him that." 

 

"I'm not telling him that," Dean says, "because there isn't anything to start or finish. Cas is family, Dad." 

 

John snorts rudely. "He ain't mine." 

 

"Well, he's mine," Dean snaps. "We're a package deal, so you can either leave him alone, or you can be the one to tell Mom why the two of you suddenly can't find me for the rest of eternity. I'm sure that conversation will go over well." 

 

"He must be some friend," John says stiffly, staring at him with a level, calculating look. 

 

Dean grits his teeth. "The best Sam and I ever had." 

 

"Well," John mutters, after a long beat of silence in the car, "as long as he keeps to himself, it should be fine, shouldn't it? Threaten me with your mother all you like, Dean—everyone does, and I know it—but that doesn't change the fact that as long as he doesn't start any shit, there won't be none. I can be civil if he can. Just seems to me that he can't."

 

"He can. He is," Dean says, because Cas really is and has been. John has no idea just how much. "Don't worry about it. Look, I'm gonna go on inside. I'll see you when I see you." 

 

"Uh huh," John grunts, watching him get out of the car with an unhappy twist to his lips. 

 

Disappointment. Dean knows that look on his dad's face very well. It hasn't changed a bit. 

 

Dean shuts the door and heads inside, the porch creaking under his boots. It's weird how quiet the place seems without Cas here, but he doesn't allow that to make him falter. He eases in the house, flicking on the lights and peering out the peephole until John's car drives away. As soon as it's gone, Dean blows out a deep sigh and lets his head land against the door with a dull tap. 

 

It takes him a few moments, but he does eventually pull himself away and head for the shower. He tries not to think about the fact that he just stood up to his own dad in defense of Cas. He never thought he'd have to do that before, and it's so bizarre. 

 

The thing is, Dean isn't gonna stand by and let his dad say stupid shit like that, unchecked. He wouldn't if it was Sam. Hell, Sam wouldn't if it was Eileen. John can't just go around alluding to his apparent willingness to kick people's partners' asses. Not that he actually knows that Cas is Dean's partner, but in retrospect, it's probably for the best that he doesn't. He can picture how that would go over, and it's...not a pretty picture. 

 

His dad would be—fuck, it would be bad. John isn't one of those type of men who would beat the shit out of somebody for being gay, or something like it, but he is one of those who'd shrug if someone else did. He's not gonna go fucking with Charlie—which is good, because Dean would kill him—but she isn't his kid, either. He may not agree with her love of women as a woman, but he'd just shake his head and keep his mouth shut about it. Stay out of it. Not his kid, not his family, not his business. 

 

Dean's his kid, though. Dean grew up a certain way. When he was seven years old, he told his dad that his friend from school had pretty eyes, and his dad chewed him up and spit him out for it— boys don't have pretty eyes, Dean, don't say stupid shit like that again. When he was nine, he told Sam it was okay to cry, and his dad made it very clear that it was not. When he was thirteen, his hair was long enough for the girls at school to put tiny braids into, and his dad made him keep it short from then on. When he was sixteen, he had a friend that was a girl, and his dad gave him a condom and told him not to knock her up, even though Dean wasn't at all interested. 

 

By the time he was seventeen, Dean had it all figured out. He'd worked out what it was that his dad was getting at—be a man, be tougher, act like this, talk like this, and don't do things like that. It was like he spent his whole life stumbling around a maze, and once he finally figured out how to navigate it, he didn't use the newfound knowledge to leave, choosing instead to show-off what he knew by walking every inch of the labyrinth. 

 

And, the thing is, Dean had wanted to act that way. It's something he made the conscious decision to do. He liked guns, women, and rock music. He liked his leather jacket, his flirting with any lady that moved, his rough and tumble car and his ability to walk into bars with gruff men just like his father and fit in. He actually liked those things, and to an extent, he still does. It's just not as loud and weaponized anymore, because he's not as quick to use it to hide that he just so happens to like other things as well. 

 

He likes cooking, so fucking what? He likes funny socks, and Taylor Swift, and nerding out over slasher horror films, and the comfort of holding a dog, and the sight of kids laughing while trick-or-treating, and the way Cas smiles. He likes the things his younger self—his dad—would scoff at. 

 

It took him years to be okay with that kind of shit, even just to himself. He's still not jumping at the thought of other people knowing it, especially John. 

 

Because, the thing is, while John would never say a word to Charlie, Dean would get something else entirely. He's already failed to fulfill that image in John's head he expected of Dean—a man with a wife, with a family. It would be so much worse if he found out that Dean was with Cas like this. 

 

Like Sam said, though—it's none of his goddamn business. This is eternity, and Dean will be damned before he spends it trying to make his dad happy. He got over that urge years ago. Mostly.

 

Sighing, Dean gets out of the shower and pads around the weirdly hollow house with a grimace. He has dinner alone, frowning at the sad sandwich he puts together. It tastes like the time he found Cas in Purgatory—that hug, that slightly out-of-bounds touch against the scruff on Cas' face, that long look, and that smile on Dean's face. He can remember it with startling clarity when he closes his eyes, and he thinks, bemusedly, oh, we were in love there, huh? 

 

Dean promptly loses his appetite and tosses his half-finished sandwich, pushing to his feet. He waters Cas' plants, because he's pretty sure that Cas would want him to. After that, he settles in to clean his guns, but even that feels weird without Cas hacking away at some tree stump in front of the fireplace, or curling up to read on the sofa. The record player isn't on. Shit. 

 

Huffing, Dean gets back up and shuffles over to put something—anything—on, vaguely annoyed that his routine has fallen all out of whack. He puts the first thing on that he grabs right off the stack, heading back to his seat, only to jerk to a halt halfway across the room when he hears the song. 

 

Come out Virginia, don't let 'em wait. 

 

"You've got to be fucking kidding me," Dean mutters, swiveling around to glare at the record player. Fucking Billy Joel again. Say it ain't so. 

 

Well, they showed you a statue, told you to pray. They built you a temple and locked you away. Aw, but they never told you the price that you pay. For things that you might have done. 

 

Dean groans and throws himself down onto the couch, grabbing a throw pillow and holding it to his chest. He scowls up at the ceiling, listening to the song, hating it. He fucking hates this fucking song because he knows—he just knows —that it has a deeper meaning to Cas. It's not about trying to sleep with a Catholic girl, not to him. 

 

Without having to be told, Dean understands that Cas likes this song because it represents his shift from being a hammer for God to choosing rebellion. Dean—of course—is Billy in this scenario, tempting Cas to make that choice, which he did in the end. 

 

It's practically a goddamn love song, when it comes to them, and Dean hates it because he doesn't at all. He shouldn't be so grateful to have corrupted an angel—even if Cas doesn't see it that way. You changed me, Dean, he'd said. Yeah, no shit. And it worked out real well for them in the end, didn't it? 

 

Ignoring that they're spending eternity in Heaven together, and only focusing on what happened to them on Earth...well, no, it didn't work out. Cas shouldn't fucking glorify it. Truthfully, it sets Dean's teeth on edge how things ended for them. They should have had more. More time, more chances, more...everything. Cas, especially. 

 

So come on Virginia show me a sign. Send up a signal and I'll throw you the line. The stained-glass curtain you're hiding behind, never lets in the sun. Darlin' only the good die young. 

 

"Don't do it, Virginia," Dean mutters. "You'll just end up dying for a fucking idiot." 

 

Huffing, Dean brings the pillow up over his face and lets it sit there. He closes his eyes and listens to the song, hating it and loving it in equal measure. He indulges his own dramatics until the song is finishing up— Oh sooner or later it comes down to faith. Oh I might as well be the one —and then he forces himself to get up, dragging back over to finish with his guns just as the last verse fades out. Other Billy Joel songs are acceptable, but Just The Way You Are is on thin fucking ice. 

 

It takes a long time for Dean to realize that he's just sitting around, waiting, and then he snaps, "Oh, Jesus fucking Christ," because there's no goddamn way he's lingering like he can will Cas to come through the door, all because he misses him. 

 

Dean grimaces at his own idiocy and forces himself to go to bed. He's spent years sleeping alone. It shouldn't be a hard thing to do. And yet, the bed feels too big and too cold, and he keeps looking over at the empty spot beside him, growing more and more frustrated by the second. 

 

He doesn't sleep very much. 

 

He manages to get a few hours, he thinks. In Heaven, it doesn't really matter, though. There isn't some headache from the lack of sleep. He doesn't feel lethargic, or moody, or grumpy—not because of the sleep he's missed, anyway. No, all of that has to do with the fact that he slept alone and he's apparently being a little bitch about it. 

 

He doesn't open the bar the next day, ignoring the reasoning behind that decision entirely. He's not waiting around for Cas to show up. He's not. 

 

Dean has coffee, sitting at the kitchen table and glaring at Cas' rainbow plant-pots on the windowsill. His leg is jumping up and down, and he knows with every useless cell in his body that he's absolutely going to tear into Cas the moment he comes home. It's going to be a fight. He can feel it. 

 

And it is. 

 

When the front door opens, Dean jerks in his seat, letting his coffee mug hit the table with a loud thunk. He can hear Cas moving around. He knows the weight of Cas' steps, knows the sound of them. Cas is checking on his goddamn plants, the asshole. 

 

Eventually, Cas appears in the doorway of the kitchen. He takes one look at Dean, then squints. Dean narrows his eyes right back. 

 

"Enjoy your time at Kelly's?" Dean asks. 

 

"Yes," Cas says bluntly. 

 

That, as they say, is the straw that breaks the very fragile camel's back. What proceeds is Dean making waves because he is an asshole, one who feels bitter because he sat around like some oh-woe-is-me house-wife waiting for her husband to return from the goddamn war. For the rest of the day, Dean gives Cas the cold shoulder, or just snaps at him, slamming doors everywhere he goes and being all-around outright ridiculous. 

 

He doesn't see it that way, of course, but still. 

 

Cas—never one to put up with anyone's shit for too long, not even Dean's—gives as good as he gets. For every barbed thing Dean has to say, Cas has a response that's equally cutting. They turn each other into pincushions, going around and around like it's a sport they're determined to win. 

 

Dean knows that Cas is trying to find out what his fucking problem is, but he's in no mood to give Cas any hints. He's not in a mood to do anything other than be mean, doing his absolute best to make Cas get pissed off, or even hurt his feelings. At this point, Dean will consider both a victory. 

 

They know how to hurt each other. They've perfected it through the years. Every serious argument they have is—bad. They go right for the soft underbelly of each other, knowing where to strike to make it as painful and infuriating as possible. Dean thinks every fight between them that isn't just some bickering war that hasn't yet spiralled out of control is actually a facade for them to go at each other's throats. 

 

Maybe that's just a catalyst to loving someone so much, especially when they have so much history. 

 

It's pointless to dredge up the past and forget to live in the present, or whatever the fuck Gandalf said, but Dean doesn't give not one fuck. He makes waves, bigger and bigger, and anyone else in the world would go fleeing for the shore instead of putting up with his shit. But no, not Cas, not this asshole who may as well be a fucking mermaid for how completely immune to Dean's shit he is. 

 

In the end, after Dean has said some very unsavory things that he'd kill anyone else for saying about Cas, there's a long stretch of silence as they glare at each other from across their bedroom—where they migrated into when it got close to bedtime. In that stillness, Dean has one moment of genuine fear. Just that first prick of panic that Cas is gonna decide that he's tired of swimming and leave. 

 

And then, Cas squints at him and says, "Are you being like this because you...missed me, Dean?" 

 

"No," Dean scoffs immediately. "Fuck you. I don't give a shit if you wanna fuck off. Do it, please. Actually, stay gone longer next time." 

 

"If you'd like," Cas says, arching an eyebrow in challenge. "Kelly would be delighted to have me stay with her for a few more days." 

 

Dean snaps his mouth shut, wavering. After a long beat, he mutters, "Well, if that's what you wanna do, who the fuck am I to stop you?" 

 

"If you want me gone," Cas insists, pointedly, "I will leave. Hand me my bag out of the closet." 

 

"I—" Dean stops, clenching his jaw. He's now backed himself into a corner, and there's literally only one way out. Why is swallowing pride so damn hard? It tastes like battery acid. 

 

"My bag, Dean," Cas says, watching him, not backing down. Waiting. Knowing. He already fucking knows. Of course he does. 

 

Pathetically, all Dean manages to say is, "Don't."

 

Not: don't leave, I don't want you to go, I'm sorry I'm such an asshole. Just: don't. That's it. If Dean had to put up with himself, he'd leave. He'd run as far and as fast as his legs would carry him, because fucking hell, he's a goddamn mess and a half. 

 

"Okay," Cas says calmly, taking what he's given like that's more than enough for him. His lips twitch, and he looks down at his shoes, pleased. 

 

You deserve more, Dean wants to say. You deserve better. That shouldn't be enough for you. It's not enough. 

 

The moment that the thought strikes him, it's not enough, burrowing under his skin like a splinter of guilt, Dean just sort of deflates and goes shuffling around the bed with a sigh. Cas watches him approach, not wary, not particularly surprised either. He's smiling a little even before Dean reaches out to tap his chest three times. He opens his mouth to reply, but Dean dips in to kiss him before he can. 

 

This time, he's earned it not to have those words echoing like a balm in his head. He's earned far worse for being such a shit, but Cas isn't an asshole the same way Dean is. 

 

Cas murmurs something against his mouth, still smiling, and Dean huffs at the fact that he's not taking this shit seriously. He reaches out to shove Cas' shoulders, pushing him down on the bed. Cas finally stops smiling, humming in approval instead. 

 

What proceeds is the tide calming, the waves turning to a comforting crash, a rippling ocean that rocks and sways without destroying everything in sight. Dean kisses him, and kisses him, and keeps kissing him—slow, warm, and sweet. He gets Cas out of his clothes, leisurely about it, huffing laughter into the side of Cas' jaw when they elbow each other trying to twist and kick clothes out of the way. 

 

It's the first time Dean ever fucks Cas, and he doesn't really ask. The lube falls to the bed while Dean is laying on top of him, and Cas just opens his legs without fuss, as if he already knows what Dean wants. Dean doesn't even know he wanted it until the option is suddenly there, then he can barely focus on anything else. Looks like Cas is on the bottom bunk tonight, which should be interesting. 

 

It is, actually. Dean's never had his fingers in a man's ass before. A woman's, yes, but this is different. It's a little messier because of the lube, and he honestly isn't sure if he's doing it as good as Cas does, but he can feel the heat of it, how tight it is, and it makes him swallow. He knows from experience with women how good it feels this way, and he doubts it's that much different with a man. 

 

It's not. 

 

It feels really, really fucking good. Dean has to shove his face into Cas' throat when he finally bottoms out, and Cas tangles his fingers into Dean's hair, lightly tugging on it. That hand tightens and grows rougher when Dean starts moving, fingers clenching and yanking Dean's head up so they can groan into each other's mouths, both of them shuddering. 

 

Dean tries to be gentle, he really does, but Cas isn't having that shit. He apparently has enough of the soft touches and the slow way Dean rolls his hips, because his free hand slides down Dean's back, nails digging in, and he grips Dean's hip hard. He squeezes, then yanks on it, urging Dean to move faster and harder. Dean's head swims, but he does as he was nonverbally told. 

 

Cas is loud, of course. He always is. He's so goddamn vocal about the shit he likes, even though Dean's pretty sure he never really says much outside of Dean's name. He's mostly just moaning, a low and raspy sound that makes Dean's skin prickle with heat. Dean does most of the talking for them both, babbling as the tension cranks higher, unaware of whatever the fuck falls out of his mouth. 

 

When it all falls apart, Dean chokes out, "Holy fucking shit, Cas," and tries to pull out because Cas is a gentleman and always does, so he has the distant idea that maybe he should as well. 

 

However, Cas just arches up into him, broad fingers slipping over his asscheek, grabbing it and forcing his hips forward. Dean jerks, wheezing oh, oh, oh my fucking god over and over as he spills into Cas, who moans as Dean frantically strokes his dick and proceeds to make a mess over both of their chests. 

 

Dean twitches when he slips free and falls to the side with a huff, blinking rapidly. He's trying to wrap his mind around the fact that Cas didn't want him to pull out, which is very hard to do when his mind is currently the consistency of pudding. Again. As always. Cas fucks his world up every damn time. 

 

He's still breathing very hard when Cas rolls over to clean up his own mess off Dean's chest. With his mouth. Because he always does that, too. It's always hot, so Dean just lays there pliantly and pants, letting Cas do whatever the fuck he wants to. Is it weird? It's probably weird. Dean feels like his measurement for what's weird is skewed these days. 

 

Cas even swipes his mess off his own chest to lick it off his fingers, and Dean's brain whites out as he watches. When he comes back to himself, he can't help but ask, "Do you have a thing for jizz, dude?" 

 

Is that a gay thing? Dean almost asks, but then doesn't because he's half-sure, even with his scrambled thoughts, that it's probably insensitive. 

 

"Are you complaining?" Cas asks, arching an eyebrow at him. 

 

"No," Dean admits. "Just asking. You always just, um, lick it up. Mine and yours." 

 

"I want to," Cas says simply. 

 

Dean blinks. "Oh. Okay." 

 

Cas lays back beside him, dropping his head onto the pillow with a sigh and a small smile. Dean watches him for a long moment, trying to figure out what revelation is skittering around in his brain. Something to do with being consumed, with taking in every part of someone. Is it a possessive thing? 

 

Dean isn't sure, but he's pretty certain that he doesn't give a shit because it's hot. Different strokes for different folks, and this is a good stroke for him, so no, he isn't complaining. 

 

Cas stares at him for a long time, then murmurs, "I did miss you too, you know." 

 

"Didn't fucking act like it," Dean grouses halfheartedly. He reaches out and traces Cas' nose, frowning. Cas catches his fingers and tangles them lazily and loosely with his own. 

 

"I was trying to 'stay out of it'—" Cas lifts one hand to do quotation marks, the bastard, "—as you asked me to do when it comes to your father. I didn't want you to feel pressured to choose." 

 

Dean narrows his eyes. "Between you and him?" 

 

"Yes." 

 

"Come on, man, it's not a competition." 

 

"If you wanted to go fishing with your father, you shouldn't have felt the need to refuse simply to join me in visiting Kelly," Cas murmurs. 

 

"If I wanted to go fishing with my dad, I'd show up at his goddamn house and ask him to go fishing, Cas." Dean leans up on his elbow, peering at him with a glare. "How 'bout you let me decide how I wanna spend my time, huh? Because, nine times outta ten, I'm gonna wanna be with you." 

 

Cas' lips curl up in an instant, eyes going warm and soft. "Okay, Dean." 

 

"Fucking sap," Dean mutters with a scoff, but he folds forward to kiss Cas on the forehead anyway, just because he knows it will make Cas' smile grow. 

 

"By the way," Cas says softly, pointedly, "I love you, too, Dean. Very much." 

 

Dean flops back onto his pillow with a huff, throwing his free arm over his eyes, gruffly saying, "Shut the fuck up and go to sleep, Cas. I didn't get very much last night, so." 

 

"Ah, yes, and I am the sap," Cas muses. 

 

"Suck my dick, you asshat." 

 

"Wake me in an hour, and I will." 

 

"Really?" Dean's head pops up, eyebrows raising, and Cas rolls his eyes. "Dude, I'm holding you to that, you know that, right?" 

 

"If you say so, Dean," Cas says. 

 

"Hey, Cas." 

 

"Hm?" 

 

"The next time you leave, I'm burning that goddamn Billy Joel record," Dean tells him. 

 

Cas hums. "I'll just manifest it again." 

 

"The point is," Dean mutters, "don't leave." 

 

"Oh. Right." Cas curls into him, pressing a smile into his shoulder. "Okay, Dean." 

 


 

It's a full house in the bar. Donna just got in after visiting with family, settling into Heaven with her cheerful disposition. She's only said that she hopes the girls don't miss her too much. She spends a solid two hours talking to Cas about the woman Claire turned out to be—a damn good hunter, a wife to Kaia, and something of a mentor to other kids involved in the life. Dean hugs Donna for a long time, then spends an even longer time catching up with her. Jo swoops in, and Charlie isn't that far behind, trying to seduce her, so Dean hastily leaves her to it, watching curiously every now and again to see if anything comes of it. 

 

Dean doesn't know what kinda game Charlie has, but she somehow manages to secure an invite over to Jo's goddamn house. Dean gapes at her, and Charlie just winks at him when she fetches Jo another drink. Well, whatever floats their boat. 

 

Jack stops in again. He's around a lot, thankfully. Dean has been showing him how to make drinks, amused by the idea of a three year old serving alcohol. Cas sends him scolding looks, but Dean just grins and lets Jack mix more drinks. It seems to soothe Cas that Jack has no interest in the drinks themselves, just in making them—he always gets juice boxes here, which is so fucking funny that Dean tells anyone who will listen about it. 

 

The former president—Jefferson—teases Dean for being the type of dad who talks about his kid all the time, and Dean has to try and figure out more elaborate ways to explain that he's not exactly Jack's dad, even though he kinda is. It usually ends up more confusing than just giving in and agreeing that Jack has more parents than he knows what to do with. More fathers, mostly. 

 

Dean is once again trying to walk Jack through the process of making a Bloody Mary when the already packed bar gets fuller with the arrival of John and Mary. Cas abruptly needs to go mingle with regulars, and Dean sighs as he goes. 

 

"I think I messed up again," Jack murmurs with a small frown. The glass empties out, which is a sure sign that he did. He glances up when Mary and John sit down across the bar, then he smiles brightly at them both. "Hello, Mary. Hello, John." 

 

"Hey, Jack," Mary says, lips curling up. "Dean's showing you how to make drinks, huh?" 

 

"Yes," Jack confirms, nodding. 

 

John side-eyes Jack, but he doesn't say a goddamn word, which is for the best. Dean knows John has feelings about Jack he very carefully doesn't let show. He heard about how Mary died the second time that she did. He's likely not very pleased being around the kid who had a hand in that, complicated as the situation may be. Mary and Jack see each other often, and she holds no ill will towards him, but John is John, and he wouldn't be him if he just fully let it go. He wisely doesn't make a fuss, though. 

 

"That sounds fun." Mary lifts up on her elbows, peering over the bar. "Jack, what do you have planned for dinner later?" 

 

"I was thinking a lunchable," Jack tells her, completely unironically. "I like the ones with the oreos in them. I dip them in milk." 

 

Mary's smile broadens. "Who doesn't? Well, how attached to that are you? I've got a big dinner slow cooking at my house, and I'm planning to do a couple of pies. You're invited." 

 

"Oh, that sounds good," Jack says. 

 

"Sam's already agreed," Mary tells him, then flicks her gaze over to Dean, her eyes—his eyes—crinkling at the corners. "You're coming, too, right? You and Castiel? I made enough food to feed a small army." 

 

Dean feels caught out, but with Sam and Jack being there, he can't not go. He hasn't stepped foot in his parents' house yet, but he knows that he can't avoid it forever. "Yeah, sounds great. I'll be there." 

 

"Castiel, too?" Mary checks. 

 

"Uh," Dean says, "yeah. Definitely." 

 

He glances over at John, who is staring down at the bar with his lips pressed into a thin line. Dean quickly looks away and smiles at Mary. 

 

When Cas finds out why they're closing the bar a little early, he says, "No, I'm not going." 

 

"Why not?" Jack asks, sitting up on the empty bar and kicking his legs back and forth. "It sounds like it's going to be fun. Mary is making pie. I like pie." 

 

"I know, Jack," Cas says wearily. He glances around the now-empty bar and heaves a quiet sigh before looking at Dean. "I…" 

 

"Come on, man, I already told Mom you'd be there. She's going to be there, so it'll be fine." Dean taps Jack's knee and jerks his thumb, nodding when Jack automatically hops down from the bar, letting Dean wipe it down in full. "Sam's gonna be there. Eileen and Jack. You gonna leave us hanging?" 

 

Cas squints at him. "You know why I don't want to go, Dean." 

 

"Why don't you want to go?" Jack asks, blinking at Cas. "It's all the Winchesters! We like the Winchesters. I'm a Winchester." 

 

"I know, Jack," Cas says, his voice strained. 

 

Jack frowns at him. "What is it?" 

 

"Nothing to stress about, kid," Dean mutters, nudging Jack with his elbow. "Cas is just being a worrywart for no reason. It's gonna be fine." 

 

"You're practically a Winchester, too," Jack points out with all the innocence of a goddamn child, not seeming to notice the way Cas grimaces. "You should definitely come." 

 

"Kid's gotta point," Dean says, raising his eyebrows. 

 

Cas presses his lips into a thin line, but he does eventually give a jerky nod. "Fine," he says, tone clipped and sharp. "Remember what I said, Dean. I will not allow anyone to treat me like—" 

 

"No, hey, I know." Dean drops his rag on the bar and moves closer to Cas, reaching out to grab his shoulder and squeeze it, holding his gaze. "I know you're—I know, okay, but...thanks for coming anyway. We've got a few hours before, so why don't we just go on home and unwind a little?" 

 

"That's acceptable," Cas allows, eyes narrowed. 

 

"Jack, you coming with us?" Dean asks, glancing over at him. 

 

"Yes, I'd like that," Jack says. 

 

They head out, Jack happily climbing into the back of Baby, humming something under his breath. Dean turns on the radio—AC/DC, which is nice—and they enjoy a mostly quiet ride home. Jack does poke his head over the seat at some point to ask if Dean will turn a song up—it's Hotel California, so the kid has some taste—but it's otherwise quiet and relaxed, so Cas seems to calm down a bit. 

 

When they get home, Jack finds a stack of boardgames by the records that only ever seems to be there when he comes around, just like the extra door that manifests down the hall. Dean's pretty sure that Jack just sort of lives wherever he wants to, whenever he wants to, so he has rooms at different places he stays—always with a parent, though. He doesn't have a home of his own, because his home tends to be with everyone else. He's a kid, though, so that's kinda the point. 

 

Jack's room coming and going is a little strange, but Cas says that it's a moving room of sorts. It's the same room wherever he goes, popping up in whatever house he's staying in at the time, along with the manifested things he likes to have around. The room itself is a mixture of what Jack's room looked like in the Bunker, except it's so clearly a child's room that it's not even funny—he's got goddamn action figures and legos on his shelves, which Dean won't admit out loud are kinda awesome. Everyone has an inner kid, and Jack is scarily good at bringing it out in whoever he's near. 

 

Like now. 

 

Jack wants to play Trouble, so Cas decides not to do any wood-carvings today, for which the rug in front of the fireplace is likely thankful. Dean figures he can clean his guns later and settles in to waste a few hours with them. When Cas goes to put on music, Dean swats him over the head for playing that goddamn Billy Joel song again, which earns him a kick in the ankle in retaliation. 

 

They nurse a few beers—Jack has a popsicle—and it's a surprisingly invigorating lead up to dinner. They have fun, they relax, they don't stress. Dean likes having Jack over, especially to stay the night because he'll stay up and watch Scooby-Doo with Dean long after Cas has already rolled his eyes and slipped off to bed. Dean also knows that Jack bounces around between their place, Sam and Eileen's, and Kelly's and Jefferson's. There's something endlessly amusing that the new God has three different bedtimes to adhere to. 

 

When it's time to head out, Dean waits for Jack to slip outside to grab Cas by the face and plant a quick, smacking kiss on his mouth, complete with a ridiculous little, "Mwah!" 

 

Cas squints at him suspiciously, but he's also smiling, so that's enough for Dean. 

 

Mary and John's house is—well, Dean knows it. Not only does it stand before him now, but it lives in his memories. It's the house Mary died in. Dean clenches his hands around Baby's steering wheel, then releases a slow breath as he slides out along with Cas and Jack. Sam and Eileen pull up just as they are, and for a long moment, Sam and Dean just share a look—a thousand unsaid things go between them in that look, but Dean hears them all. 

 

"Say the word, and I'll make sure not to pass the salt to John," Eileen tells him as she walks up for a brief hug. She pulls back with a mischievous smile, eyes bright. "The pepper, too, if I'm feeling bold. I can teach you how to sign it." 

 

"You're a goddamn marvel, Eileen Leahy," Dean declares, lips curling up. 

 

"That's Eileen Winchester to you," Eileen says, then proceeds to actually teach him the signs for salt and pepper in case he wants to get everyone in on being a passive-aggressive asshole to his dad. 

 

The only person who doesn't treat this like it's about to be a very complex dinner is Jack. He's all sunshine and ignorance, bounding up to the door and knocking on it because he's working on boundaries. Kelly has finally caved and agreed to stop letting him get away with literally everything. 

 

Mary is the one who opens the door, and she hugs everyone as they file in, chattering away. Her hair is long enough to be pulled up in a haphazard bun on her head, but still short enough that blonde tendrils are falling down and getting in her face. She keeps distractedly blowing them away in between sentences, and Dean feels like it's one of those things she's always done, a habit of hers, except he's never known it because he didn't ever really get the chance to know her. It stings. 

 

Great start. Dean already wants to leave. 

 

"The pies are in the oven," Mary tells them as she leads them into the dining room. 

 

Dean has a visceral flash of a memory, one that's fuzzy in his mind but achingly real. Him, running full-speed into this very room with his toy truck, getting yanked up by a laughing John. He thinks he'd giggled and tried to squirm away when John ruffled his hair, Mary standing in the background with her hand on her swollen stomach and watching with a small, fond smile. 

 

The memory all but shatters when he sees his dad already sitting at the table, watching everyone come in. It's like a funhouse mirror, distorting everything that was supposed to be with what reality actually fell upon them. The worst part, Dean thinks, is that Sam doesn't look like he has any memories at all, like he has no dream of what could have been to compare to what actually was. It all started with a goddamn fire, years and years ago, and that's all she wrote. 

 

Cas sits as far away from John as possible. 

 

To start with, it's not so bad. It's a little weird to see Mary being—like this. He used to have this image of who his mom was in his head, right up until he met her. She's not Suzy Homemaker; she's a badass hunter with a mean streak, a person capable of mistakes, someone who loves her family fiercely and started the original tradition of making stupid deals for loved ones. She knows her way around a gun, she punched Lucifer in the fucking face, she failed and failed and failed to be the mother Dean and Sam needed her to be. She can be all of that, all at once, and she is. Most of all, what she has always been and what she still is, Mary Winchester is an enigma. 

 

So, to see her bustling around with a beaming smile, passing out plates and joking around with everyone, it's a little weird. She seems suspended in an idea, half of what he always expected her to be and half of what she ended up being when she came back. It's a complicated, tangled thing. He doesn't want to think about it. He thinks about it anyway. 

 

Even here in Heaven, though, she's still a badass. She's the thing everyone uses to keep John's ass in line. It's a little insane, but Dean can't deny that there's something kinda amazing about that. 

 

For nearly the whole meal, things are fine. Jack, Mary, and Eileen seem to be pulling most of the weight here. Kids and women—they're always on top of that shit. Men? They're useless, basically, and it shows because Cas, Sam, Dean, and John barely speak for most of the time. They just kinda eat and answer noncommittally when Mary speaks to them. 

 

It all goes downhill when Mary brings up Donna, saying, "She was talking about how she thinks Jody and the girls are going to miss her too much. She's hoping they won't show up for some time yet, but it wasn't looking good for Jody. They were both getting old. She said that it'll hit the girls doubly hard if Jody goes so soon after she does." 

 

"Donna seems like a nice woman," John comments when Mary glances over at him. 

 

"She's great," Sam agrees quietly. 

 

John nods. "Knew her well?" 

 

"Yeah," Sam says. "I mean, those women formed a really strong bond. Kinda crazy to think it all started with Jody and Alex, then Claire. And she was only involved because of Cas." 

 

"Because of him, how?" John asks, raising his eyebrows at Sam. 

 

"Uh," Sam mutters. 

 

"Claire is great," Jack declares happily. "She calls me Beanstalk. I'm...not really sure why, but I like it." 

 

"Jack and the Beanstalk," Dean tells him. "It's sort of—it's a story. I'll explain later." 

 

Cas swivels in his chair to frown at Jack. "You visit Claire? I thought you said you wouldn't interfere?" 

 

"I don't," Jack blurts out, eyes going wide. "I never have, I promise. We just—we texted some, after we saved Kaia from the Bad Place. She still texts me sometimes, even though I never reply. I think it's because the messages go through." 

 

"You kept your phone?" Cas asks, eyes narrowing. 

 

"Sam bought it for me," Jack says, lips twitching down. He tilts his head, visibly confused. 

 

Dean snorts. "Cas, chill out, man. Waste not, want not, right? I thought you were trying to teach him some values and stuff." 

 

"You stay out of this," Cas declares distractedly, still frowning at Jack. "I'm telling your mother about this, Jack. You promised to—" 

 

"Ah, come on, Cas," Sam needles, "it's just a phone. It's nothing like Chuck, right? You heard him. He doesn't even reply. Maybe it's a comfort for Claire and Jack both, and hey, they're basically siblings in a really weird way, ya know?" 

 

"Jesus," John mutters, "how many kids does he collect?" 

 

Dean's heart immediately trips in his chest when Cas snaps up straight, head slowly turning. Oh no, no no no, Dean thinks, eyes bulging. It's one thing to go after Cas, personally, but it's a whole other story to talk any hint of shit about the kids that aren't really his, even if he nonetheless cares for them. Even Dean didn't get away with treating Jack any kind of way. Cas outright fucked off to do what was best for Jack before he was even born, resulting in him and Dean having a pretty major fight about it. 

 

This is gonna go bad, Dean can already see it now. Even Sam looks alarmed, glancing over at Dean with a wince. Cas fixes John with a frigid stare, lips tightening like he's about to snarl at him. 

 

"Is there something wrong with caring for children?" Cas asks, each word coming out harsh and cutting. "Or, is that such a distant concept to you that you genuinely can't fathom it?" 

 

"Oh, shit," Sam breathes out. 

 

"The fuck is that supposed to mean?" John barks, letting his fork clatter to his plate. 

 

"John," Mary says sharply. 

 

"Cas," Dean mutters, shaking his head. 

 

"You got something you want to say to me?" John continues, leaning forward, eyes narrowed. 

 

Cas' nostrils flare, but his eyes flick to Dean for a beat, and he exhales slowly. "There are quite a lot of things I could say to you, John Winchester, but for the sake of the others, I will not. I do not collect children, because children are not possessions to own and order around as you see fit. Jack and Claire are my responsibility, and frankly, it's none of your business why that is." 

 

"Not sure if I agree with you there, Castiel. Jack's sitting at my goddamn dinner table, isn't he?" 

 

"Yes, at Mary's invite, as this is also her house. Perhaps if you did not want him or anyone else here, you should have made that clear to your wife. That sounds like a marital issue, not my problem." 

 

"Castiel!" Mary blurts out, astonished. 

 

"Dad," Dean says warningly. 

 

Sam sinks lower in his chair and whispers, "Shit, shit, shit, shit, sh—" 

 

"Who the hell do you think you are?!" John slams his hand down on the table, making the dishes rattle, and Dean flinches at the same time that Jack does. "I don't know who put it in your fucking head that you have any right to come into my home and disrespect me. You can get the fuck out before I drag you out." 

 

"I'd like to see you try," Cas retorts immediately, and oh, this is so bad. So fucking bad. 

 

"Well, I fucking wouldn't," Mary snaps, standing up out of her chair to fix John with a glare, then Cas with one as well. "I don't know what the hell has gotten into either of you, but—" 

 

"Into me?" John snaps his head up to stare at her with his jaw clenched. "Why is he here? Why the hell did you invite him?!"

 

"Because he's family," Mary says sharply. "I invited Eileen, didn't I? And Jack. They're family." 

 

"What, because Dean lives with him?" John asks, face scrunching up with disbelief. 

 

Mary stares at John, her eyebrows crumbling together. "John, Castiel and Dean are—" 

 

"Ahh!" Sam yells, shoving his chair back and shooting to his feet.  Everyone turns to stare at him, and he coughs. "Ah, I—my back. It spasms." 

 

"No, it doesn't. Sit the fuck down," John orders, and Sam's jaw hardens, eyes flashing. "I don't know what kinda idiot you take me for, but I know damn well your back doesn't hurt." He turns back to Mary before Sam can even open his mouth. "Now, what the hell were you about to say about Dean?" 

 

"Nothing," Cas cuts in. "She wasn't about to say anything. Jack, get up, we're leaving." 

 

Jack throws a cautious look at John, but he does get to his feet. Cas points to the door, lips pressed into a thin line, and Jack goes. Dean wavers for a moment, then he also stands up, legs feeling wobbly. It could have been worse, he thinks, right before it gets worse. 

 

"Oh, and you're going, too?" John snaps. 

 

"Yeah," Dean rasps, "that might be for the best. I'm their ride anyway, so I should—" 

 

"Sit down," John says harshly, "I'm not done with you. Give me one good goddamn reason I should have to put up with him for the rest of eternity." 

 

Dean's legs sort of...stop working, and he goes folding back into his chair, following the order like that's all he'll ever know how to do. "Dad, come on."

 

"Dean," Cas says. 

 

"Shut the hell up, we're not talking to you," John cuts in, pointing at him. 

 

"Dad," Sam barks, just as Mary hisses, "John!" 

 

"I wasn't talking to you," Cas declares, simply turning to look at Dean. "We need to go." 

 

"Right," Dean says, clearing his throat. Once again, he gets to his feet. "Right, let's just—" 

 

"No, you got a goddamn problem with me, and you have some kinda hold on my son." John also shoves to his feet, stomping around the table at an alarming pace. "I don't know what the fuck you've done to him, or what you told him, but this isn't the Dean I raised. He'd know better than to let you talk to me any kind of way. If he won't explain to you why, I'll be damn happy to show—" 

 

John cuts himself off and rears back when Dean careens around the table—nearly knocking Sam over to get there—and blocks him with a grimace. "Dad, stop it. No one's showing anyone anything. We obviously aren't going to be making family dinners a regular thing, so it's—it doesn't even matter. Just let it go. We're leaving." 

 

"Family dinners would probably go a little smoother if he wasn't here," John grits out. "If you weren't trailing around after him like some kind of—of—" 

 

"Some kind of what?" Dean asks, taking a step back, staring at John without really feeling much of anything. The room is suddenly silent and stifling like everyone's on tenterhooks abruptly. Dean spares one second to be grateful that Jack is outside. 

 

"Bitch," John spits. "You're like his goddamn bitch, you know that? Do you even realize the way you act around him? You're always with him. You live with him. You run a goddamn bar with him. Do you have any idea how that looks, Dean?" 

 

Dean drifts his gaze to the side, staring at the corner where he has the foggiest memory of his father playing cops and robbers with him. "How does that look, Dad? Tell me." 

 

"Do you honestly not see it?" John shakes his head and reaches up to scrub his palm over his mouth. Dean does that. That's a thing he does. Did he get it from his dad? "No one's said it, but I can guarantee you that they're thinking it. Thinking that you and that angel of yours are—are—" 

 

"Are what?" Dean prompts again. He can hear himself. He sounds so—flat. He feels submerged, as if he's doing all of this from underwater, like the tide is crashing in over his head and everything is just...loud and distant, all at once. His mouth moves mechanically when he says, "What? Fucking? Is that what people are thinking, Dad?" 

 

John stares at him, his face slowly smoothing out. It takes only a second because he's not an idiot, not at all. There's a flash in his eyes, the twitch of his cheek as he clenches his jaw, and John very slowly, very sharply says, "And they'd be right, wouldn't they? To think that you and him are—" 

 

Dean says nothing. He just...prepares. It's an odd sensation, an old one, a remembered one that's more skin-deep that anything else. It would have to be that way, though, because his skin held a bruise from John better than his memories ever did. 

 

The room is so thick with the silence that Dean feels like he's suffocating in it. He doesn't quite look at his dad, and his gaze drifts to the side, staring at everyone else. Mary doesn't look surprised, and it's at that moment he realizes she already knew, that she'd been aware of him and Cas this whole time, maybe even before Heaven at all. She does, however, seem to be staring at John like she's never quite seen him before, like he's a whole new man. 

 

Sam looks like he's wavering in place, unsure how to intervene but clearly wanting to. He's not like Dean. He doesn't know how to handle their dad. He doesn't come with the knowledge that it takes putting your body in between whatever John's target is. Sam wouldn't know. He's usually the target. 

 

Eileen is staring at Cas, who Dean can't really see behind him. Her hand is gripping the back of her chair, eyes wide, lips pressed into a thin line. 

 

Finally, John says, "So that's why, huh? That's why you let him say and do whatever? You got it in your head that you love him, Dean?" 

 

Again, Dean says nothing. 

 

"Answer me!" John bellows. 

 

And Dean does, because he's not sure what else he's supposed to do. He knows better to lie to his dad, so he's whispering, "I do love him," before he can really think twice about it. 

 

"Oh, you do, do you?" John scoffs and swivels his head to stare at Cas, his lip curling. "I should have fucking known just by looking at you. The way you look at him, I knew it wasn't right." 

 

"I don't need your approval," Cas growls. 

 

"You need a goddamn boot to the teeth," John says, low and angry, mouth twisting. "And I'm gonna be the one to give it to you since Dean apparently grew too soft. He's not going back with you. He stays here where I can sort him the fuck out, and you, you cocksucking mother—" 

 

It's not until John goes crashing into the table that Dean realizes he even balled his fist up, raised it, and launched it right at John's face. There's no pain in his knuckles, and he's a little startled when he watches it all happen. John falls into a chair, the table skittering a little under his weight, glasses toppling over and beer bottles spilling everywhere. 

 

Mary shouts something, Sam curses, Eileen launches herself from the chair, and John comes back up swinging. It all happens very fast, and Dean's not even really sure how it happened at all. 

 

Dean has fought with his dad before, usually just some sort of training through the years. He's also been shoved around, smacked over the head, gripped hard enough to leave bruises, and—on one memorable occasion—actually got punched in the face when he made the wrong comment at the wrong time. John has always been very good at making Dean eat dirt. He's strong. He has a mean right hook. He's got reflexes and a military background. He's fought and killed all sorts of monsters out there, up to and including demons. 

 

Dean has fought the devil. Dean has fought God. Demons are a regular Monday to him. He's been through Hell, literally; he's fought a future version of himself; he has killed so many different people and things—angels, demons, knights of hell, humans, Death, even the first fucking murderer in the world, Cain. 

 

And yet, the moment his dad lunges for him, Dean just...freezes. He locks up. He takes the hit, his head rocking to the side from the force of it. No pain, just an imprint of it, like a small ache that he's sure comes from the reasons behind it more than the actual punch itself. The thing is, Dean would have once crumbled underneath the hit, but he barely even flinches now. He's had worse from worse. 

 

Maybe it's that acknowledgement that unclicks something in his brain. Maybe it's that Cas is behind him, and John would go for him next. Maybe it's that Sam is surging forward like he's about to learn what it means to stand between John and his target for the very first time. Maybe it's just because Dean is suddenly so fucking angry that nothing else matters. Maybe he reacts for everyone else, but he knows for damn sure that he reacts for himself. 

 

The next punch John throws swings wide when Dean jerks out of the way, kicking his dad in the knee and shoving him in the back of the shoulder as he sidesteps out of the way. John stumbles, and Dean just—he just takes him down. With an elbow to the back of the neck and a boot to the back of the knee, Dean slams his dad down and grabs his arm, twisting it back. He drops his knee in between John's shoulder blades and bends his wrist so far that he can feel the bones grind. 

 

"Stay the fuck down," Dean snaps, his words cutting through the sudden silence. John tries to lift his head, so Dean bears down harder, making his face drag across the floor. John coughs, then goes very still. "When I get up, I'm walking out of here. If you try to stop me, I'll make sure you can't get up again."

 

John wheezes a harsh laugh. "Nice to know turning gay didn't make you weak." 

 

"I'm not actually gay," Dean says flatly, "if you cared to know. I like both. How's that taste? Knowing your son likes both, and he still ended up with a man?" 

 

"Tastes like shit," John grits out. 

 

Dean hums. "I'll bet. You should ask Cas how my come tastes, since he swallows it practically every night. And he's gonna keep doing that, for eternity, and I'm gonna keep letting him, and there's not a goddamn thing you can do about it." 

 

"You fucking—" John thrashes like a fish out of water, but he's caught. He can't move. He goes still again, turning his head with a grunt. 

 

"You should be real fucking careful who you risk pissing off up here," Dean warns. "You see, Jack… Well, he's Cas' kid. How quickly do you think he'd toss your ass back into the pit if basically all of his parents asked him to, huh?" 

 

Somehow, John goes even more still, an unnatural stillness, one bred from fear. Dean feels a strange surge of vindictive delight at that, like a predator watching prey realize there's nowhere to go. 

 

"You're here because of Mom," Dean says harshly, dipping down a little, his voice low and sharp. "It sure as shit isn't because you earned a spot up here. Not a lot of us did, I'll grant you that, but at least we know it. You weren't a good father." 

 

"Don't you fucking dare," John hisses, struggling around a little. "I did the best—" 

 

"Really?!" Dean bursts out, scoffing. "Why don't you sit down with Mom and have a long, long conversation about how you abandoned her fucking kids on a revenge mission she never even wanted? Why don't you tell Mom how you treated Sam because he dared to want a life that didn't go along with what you wanted? Why don't you tell her about all the times you shoved us off on Pastor Jim or Bobby, about all the times you made it clear Sammy was the only fucking thing I was alive for, about all the goddamn times you screwed over your living children to go chasing the dead?"

 

John goes rigid beneath him. "Don't you fucking talking to me like that! You know damn well—" 

 

"Shut the fuck up!" Dean snarls, shoving his knee into John's back just to hear him wheeze again. "Tell me I'm lying. Tell me I'm lying, Dad! Am I?!" 

 

"You got some guts, kid," John coughs out, thumping his head to the floor. "I ain't gonna say you got balls, since your current infatuation has 'em in his hands. Surprised he ain't clipped 'em yet." 

 

"You don't want Mom to know, do you?" Dean asks coldly. "Go on, Dad, tell her. Do it. Why don't you tell her that we used to go hungry? That I used to have to turn tricks to feed Sam? Did you know that? Did you know I was eighteen and getting old men and women off in the back of shady bars? The first time I ever touched a goddamn dick that wasn't my own, it was because you hadn't come back to pay for the fucking hotel room you left us in, all alone, and we'd gone days living off of the peanut butter we could scrape outta the jar."

 

"Who knows? Maybe that's where it all started, Dean," John grits out. "You should have starved before doing that."

 

"I did!" Dean shouts. "I fucking did, don't you get that? But I wasn't gonna let Sammy go hungry. If you had just—if you—" Dean snaps his mouth shut, distantly aware that his chin is trembling. He blinks hard. "The next time you come near me, or Sam, or Cas, it better be grovelling on your goddamn knees. When I get up, I'm walking away, and if you ever, ever, ever want to have anything to do with me, or Sam, or your family, you'll swallow your goddamn pride and be a fucking man. Oh, and you'll treat Cas like the angel he is while you're at it, 'cause just as easily as he pulled me outta Hell, he'll drag you right back in. And, trust me, he can." 

 

Dean doesn't wait. He just launches himself off of his dad and steps back, watching John immediately spring to his feet. There's a long stretch of one second where Dean and John stare at each other, feelings shifting, emotions crumbling down between them, everything thrown off-center. 

 

John takes one step forward, and Mary is suddenly there, slapping him. It's so abrupt and so loud that Dean jolts, blinking in surprise. John barely even flinches, just staring down at Mary with his lips pressed into a thin line. She raises a finger at him, and it's trembling as she gives a few false starts, no words escaping, just sounds. 

 

Finally, she says—just this, just a harsh, quivering, "Sit down and start talking." 

 

"Come on," Sam says quietly, reaching out to snag Dean's arm. "Dean, we don't—we don't need to be here for this. Let's just—let's go." 

 

"Yeah," Dean agrees dully, then turns around and heads right for the door without looking back. He thinks, a little hysterically, as he steps outside, that it's a real damn shame he didn't get to eat his mom's pie at least one more time. 

 

Outside, they can see Jack sitting in the backseat of Baby, and Eileen immediately breaks off to go over and slide in—presumably talking to him, calming him down, maybe explaining some of it, maybe not. 

 

Dean falters a few feet from the car, blinking down at his boots. He has the most absurd urge to bust out laughing. Jesus fucking Christ, he just told his dad that Cas swallows his come every night. Holy shit. 

 

"Dean," Sam says quietly. He's got that pinched, concerned look on his face, and Dean realizes that Sam just heard—well, everything. 

 

"It's fine," Dean mutters. "I'm fine. I really am. Don't worry about it, Sammy. It's all fine." 

 

Sam's throat bobs. "Dean, I never knew you—you—"

 

"C'mon, Sam, I don't wanna talk about it, man. Just not—not right now, okay?" Dean raises a hand and palms his mouth, only to stop when he realizes what he's doing. He clears his throat. "Listen, I'm—I'm pretty fucking tired. I kinda just wanna go home. We can hash this shit out tomorrow. I'll stop by." 

 

"If you're sure," Sam says. 

 

"Hundred percent positive," Dean assures him. 

 

"Cas," Sam mutters, shooting him a serious, weighted look, "you got this?" 

 

This being Dean, which is obvious because Cas says, ever so bluntly, "Yes, you needn't worry, Sam. I'll take care of him." 

 

Dean wants to complain about that, but Sam's shoulder slump a little in relief, so he keeps his damn mouth shut. When they all approach Baby, Eileen slides back out with a tight smile. She doesn't say anything, just leans up to give Cas a hug, then the same treatment for Dean, except she gives him a rather fierce kiss on the cheek while she's at it. 

 

Dean slides into Baby in sync with Cas, and then he cranks her up and tears out of the driveway without looking in the rearview mirror. The trip back to the house lasts close to an hour because Dean apparently needs to burn up a road at top speed more than he needs to get home. Driving therapy is a thing, or it should be. Either way, neither Cas or Jack complain that it takes longer than normal. 

 

When they do make it back home, they all sit in the silence of Baby after he cuts the engine, staring out at the glowing lake. Dean breathes. He keeps waiting for—something. Anything. There's nothing, not yet, but he's sure there will be.

 

And he's right. 

 

Jack leans forward eventually and murmurs, "I don't think John likes me very much." 

 

Dean thinks ha, me too, kid, then just—

 

He leans forward and presses his face against his arms resting against Baby's wheel, his fingers curling tighter around it. Then there's that something. That anything that turns out to be a harsh pressure in his chest, forcing him to tears to try and alleviate it. He's crying very suddenly, very hard, unable to stop once he's started. 

 

"Jack," Cas says softly, "go stay with your mother tonight, okay?" 

 

There's no answer, but Jack must be gone because Cas scoots across the seat and touches Dean's shoulder. Dean gives a hollow laugh, still just fucking crying, which is pointless and useless and helping absolutely no one. If anything, it only makes all of this bullshit worse. He cries and thinks about how John would call him less of a man for it. 

 

This is an odd sort of crying. A little empty, yet very messy. There's really nothing pretty about it. He's curling in over Baby's wheel and gripping it like a lifeline, listening to his deeply stupid sobbing, the kind that quakes on the way out, the kind that makes his chest feel like it's caving in. It's the desperate sort of crying that comes from knowing the tears won't salvage anything. It's all fucked up. 

 

It just pisses him off. Dean sucks in a deep breath and yanks back, slamming his hand down on Baby's wheel. He does it again, and again, and again. He does it until he's starting to feel the pain of it, and then he realizes that Heaven is giving him that because that's what he actually desires. He makes a fist and hits the wheel until his knuckles split, until they ache, until Cas catches his wrist. His knuckles heal almost immediately.

 

"Dean," Cas says firmly, "stop it." 

 

"It's not even what he did, Cas," Dean chokes out, swiveling his head to stare at him, eyes blurry, nose running. "It's just that he's not even sorry." 

 

Cas' expression fractures entirely. He tugs on Dean's wrist, even as he scoots across the bench, pulling Dean in close. Dean sort of just slumps into him and closes his eyes, pressing his face into Cas' shoulder. His breath shudders in and out of him. Cas smells really nice. Dean never wants to move. 

 

"He won't be able to find you—not here, not at the bar, not unless you want him to," Cas murmurs. He cups the back of Dean's neck, lightly scratching at the short hairs there. "You've already set the terms for how he will only be able to see you again, so he won't be able to unless he meets them." 

 

"So I'll never see him again," Dean croaks. 

 

Cas is silent for a long beat, then his hand eases up through Dean's hair. "Perhaps you will. Perhaps he will come to realize that you matter more than his own pride. He may one day stop holding onto what he believes are yours and Sam's wrongdoings just to excuse his own. I can't be certain." 

 

"I've defended him for so long, Cas." Dean shakes his head a little, inhaling the heady smell of him. "I still want to defend him. I know he wasn't perfect, but I've never—I don't know if he's a bad father. I was just so angry. I'm always so—" 

 

"I know, Dean," Cas murmurs. 

 

Dean tips backwards, lifting his head to stare at Cas, lips twitching weakly. "Guess that wasn't how you wanted to find out that I've—that I…" 

 

"What?" 

 

"The things I did to feed Sam." 

 

Cas sighs quietly. "Dean, I already knew." 

 

"You always know," Dean mutters. He grimaces and scoots back, away, putting space between them. "I reckon it seems kinda stupid how I reacted to—us, considering the shit I've done." 

 

"It's not stupid." 

 

"It's just—I don't think about it, Cas. I don't count that shit. I wasn't really there for it. I didn't do anything except with—with my hands. I could usually trick people into paying me for that. I had the face for it, ya know? Young, pretty, shit like that. If anyone tried to cross a line, I kicked their ass. So, it's not—it isn't like Dad was right. Me being—the way I am didn't start there. I was just doing what the fuck I had to for Sam, that's all. And I blocked most of it out anyway, so I barely remember that shit." 

 

"Sam doesn't know," Cas comments. 

 

Dean shakes his head, looking away. "'Course he doesn't know. What the fuck does he need to worry about it for? I know him. He would have been upset. He's going to be upset. I dunno how to explain that it doesn't really...matter to me." He glances at Cas, swallowing. "It's better if I don't have to talk about it, you know what I mean? I just—I can't really emphasize enough how much it doesn't feel like me. I know I did it. I just don't remember all of it. Any of it, really. I remember bringing food home to Sam. That's the part that mattered. The rest? Nah." 

 

"I understand." Cas leans his head to the side, resting it against Baby's seat. He looks thoughtful for a while, humming. "I can't recall Naomi's torture anymore, if that makes sense. I know it happened. I know you're the reason I broke free from her control. The rest is…" He waves a hand a little, waggling his fingers and sighing. "I have no interest in remembering any of it, so I understand." 

 

"Hey," Dean mumbles, his eyes tracking Cas' fingers moving lazily, "we're a real fucked up pair, huh?" 

 

"Mm," Cas agrees mildly. He looks at Dean and smiles slightly. "I told you we're well-suited." 

 

Dean huffs a weak laugh and shakes his head. He reaches out to grab the edge of Cas' coat—not of the trench variety, thankfully. It's one of Dean's. He tugs at a loose thread, eyes downcast. "You're not gonna be like one of those people on the TV who don't know how to handle their, um, lover or whatever after finding out that they were—that they—" 

 

"Pleasured strangers at the tender age of eighteen and beyond?" Cas supplies bluntly. 

 

"Yeah, that," Dean mutters. 

 

Cas squints at him. "Are you worried that I will treat you differently? Or that I will feel differently?" 

 

"Do you?" Dean asks, flicking his gaze up. 

 

"No," Cas says. 

 

"Because I don't want you to be, like, scared to touch me, or something. I don't even remember. Hell was worse, if I'm honest. Doing what I did back then wasn't the worst thing I've ever done or had to do. So don't treat me like—don't think I'm—" 

 

Cas reaches out to hook a hand behind the back of his neck, jerking him in for a—quite frankly—very filthy kiss. Dean relaxes all at once, sagging into it with a sigh, his fingers lifting from the loose thread to slide into Cas' hair. He scoots closer and lets Cas make his point, lets Cas lick into his mouth just like he would any other time, lets Cas kiss him with the same passion he's had from the very first they shared. 

 

It softens, eventually. Turns slow and languid. Dean sort of drifts in it, forgetting for a moment why his eyes are itchy even when closed, why they're in Baby to begin with. This could just be any other night. Nothing has changed, nothing at all. Slowly, Cas pulls back, humming quietly in approval. 

 

"I won't, Dean." 

 

"I don't know how to love you normally," Dean whispers, and maybe it's because they're in the safe bubble of leather and home that is Baby that allows him to admit it. Maybe it's because the kiss knocked his goddamn common sense right outta his head. He swallows and keeps his eyes closed, confessing. "I don't think I know how to love anyone normally. It's too much or not at all with me, sometimes. I can't figure out how to make it—less." 

 

"So, don't," Cas says calmly. "If it has escaped your notice, you should know I love you abnormally as well. I love you more than—" He pauses, then clears his throat. "Well, I think my existence is woven into my love for you. I cannot have one without the other. If I do not love you, then I must not exist, for that would be the only possible way I would stop." 

 

"Okay, Shakespeare, that's enough of that," Dean mutters gruffly, ducking his head and focusing back on the loose thread. He drops his hands and starts idly tugging on it again. "I shouldn't have made you come tonight. It all went to shit, and I just—I thought it would go alright because Mom was there. Guess she never knew what Dad could be like when he got really pissed off." 

 

"I believe she had some idea," Cas murmurs. "As soon as Heaven became more open, she started interacting with other people outside of your father. Some people weren't very subtle." 

 

"She smacked the shit outta him." 

 

"Yes, she did." 

 

Dean blows out a deep breath. "Well, I can add ruining my parents' marriage to the long list of things I never expected I'd manage to fuck up. In my defense, they were both dead, so." 

 

"You're very good at defying impossibilities," Cas agrees, lips twitching when Dean snorts. 

 

"It's kinda fucked that I feel like I should go back and let my dad kick my ass, huh?" 

 

"Honestly? Yes, a bit. You did nothing wrong." 

 

"Aren't you biased?" Dean asks wryly. 

 

Cas levels him with a look. "You did nothing wrong, Dean. His actions were inexcusable. Yours were mild, in comparison. I fail to understand why you blame yourself for things that would never happen if he did not act intolerably. He could have let you leave when you tried. He could have refrained from provoking me. He could have brought his children food. He could have stayed with them, instead of leaving. He could have mourned his dead wife and raised his children in a life she would have been proud of. There are many other things John Winchester could have done; if you believe that for yourself, why can't you believe it for him?" 

 

"This is gonna sound really stupid, man, considering everything that happened, but...he's my dad." Dean shrugs a little, his smile self-depreciating. "I think sometimes that I hate him. But I know all the time that I love him. I'm not sure how not to." 

 

"I cannot help you there," Cas admits. "I have absolutely no love for my father. In fairness, he was never really a father at all. It's different for angels, as you know, and Chuck was…" 

 

"A joke?" Dean mutters. 

 

Cas hums. "Yes, precisely. So, no, I have nothing to say about this. I won't claim to understand. I don't. I think you should be allowed to hate him. Only hate." 

 

"It wasn't always bad, you know." Dean glances out the windshield, frowning. "He's a hardass, that's true, but there were times… Well, he taught me about cars—Baby, specifically. He helped me make my first ever mixtape. When we were on cases together, before everything got really serious with Yellow-Eyes, Dad would always have a coffee waiting whenever I first woke up. He wasn't the warm-and-fuzzy type, but he was prone to bouts of his own version of affection, I think. There's more bad than good, I won't lie, and whole helluva lot of neutral. But the good? It was good, man." 

 

"The good can't erase the bad." 

 

"No, but who's to say I shouldn't be allowed the good if I fucking want it? Dad changed after Mom died. He wasn't the same man after that, and him being here… I dunno, maybe he wants to do the good shit, too. Maybe he could—" 

 

When Dean cuts himself off, Cas sighs and leans in, lips tipped down. "I'm not disagreeing with you, Dean. Your relationship with your father is between you and your father. I will never like him. I'm sorry. However, if he did the right thing, and it made you happy, I would be...cordial." 

 

"Doesn't matter anyway. I know my dad. It's never going to sit right with him that I'm with you." Dean flicks his gaze to Cas, licking his lips. "It's not so much about two men, I don't think. If it was anyone else, he'd keep his opinions to himself. But it's me. I'm his son. And oh, buddy, he does not like you." 

 

"The feeling is very mutual," Cas says dryly, and he holds Dean's gaze for a long moment. "I'm not going to suggest that you leave me to please him, because I do not think that would make you happier than ignoring him to be with me. Dean, I think it's up to your father to make the right decision here, this time. I'm sorry that he might not. I'm sorry that I'm a factor in that possibility. I'm sorry that it's going to affect you, and there's nothing you can do, but there truly isn't. You have done nothing wrong. It's not you losing him, if he can't do right; it's him losing you, and Dean, that is a great loss." 

 

"Well," Dean says with a gusty sigh, "I guess we'll just have to wait and see, huh? Life goes on. Or, well, afterlife goes on, I guess. This is Heaven. It's supposed to be easy." 

 

Cas looks at him fondly. "Freedom is never easy, Dean. That's why it's so special." 

 

Dean closes his eyes. "I know." 

Chapter Text

Dean isn't expecting the conversation with Sam to go over very well. The whole drive over, he drums his fingers on the wheel and chews his bottom lip. Cas completely ignores his anxiety, except he does reach out to put his hand on Dean's thigh, so that's nice. 

 

When they pull up at the house, Eileen is outside already. She's sitting down on the grass, her hand in a bag of chips. She grins and waves when they get out, tilting her head back to focus on them when they get closer. Cas squints at her, his hands starting to move, but she doesn't seem to want to stop eating her chips to sign. 

 

"I like a good breeze, that's all," Eileen says, presumably replying to Cas asking her what she's doing sitting outside on the grass. "Sam fusses at me for eating these chips, so I got in the habit of sneaking off to enjoy them. Cas, go on in. I think he's trying his hand at making candles."

 

"Ah," Cas says, grimacing, then proceeds to go. 

 

"Not you," Eileen tells Dean, reaching out to snag his wrist when he goes to follow. "You, come here and sit down in front of me." 

 

"Oh, boy," Dean mutters, but he does as she asks. He plops down in front of her, his knees creaking. 

 

Eileen studies his face for a second, then offers him the chip bag. "Want one?" 

 

"Don't mind if I do," Dean says, reaching in to pop one in his mouth. It tastes like a chip. No memories at all. He wonders if Eileen prefers it that way. 

 

"Sam was fretting all night last night," Eileen tells him knowingly. "Couldn't sleep. Didn't let me sleep. Just wanna warn you. He's probably going to cry." 

 

Dean sighs and puts his elbows on his knees, hanging his head for a moment. When he looks back up, Eileen is watching him patiently. He gives her a thin smile. "Yeah, I know. I don't really wanna talk about it, if I'm being honest." 

 

"So, tell him that." Eileen fixes him with a serious look, raising her eyebrows. "You wanna know something, Dean? Even after you were gone, you were still present for everything. We celebrated your birthday every year. Sam told Dean about his uncle all the time. We kept pictures of you all over the house. The car—well, Sam took care of it. Always. It was important to him. You were important to us, a part of the family, even if you were gone. Sam wasn't going to have it any other way." 

 

"Bet that was annoying, huh?" Dean asks. 

 

"Yes, sometimes," Eileen admits bluntly. "There were times Sam was just—he was all grief. He'd go out and sit in the car and just cry. For hours. I had to yank his head out of his ass a lot more than I ever thought I would have to, remind him that you were gone, yeah, but we were still here." 

 

Dean grimaces and averts his eyes. "Shit. That… Well, that fucking sucks." 

 

"That's life, sometimes." Eileen reaches out and taps his leg, drawing his gaze. "My point is, Sam loves you a lot. It's easy for him to get into his own head when it comes to you, because losing you was like losing his brother and parents, again, all wrapped up into one. I love Sam more than anything, but he has the tendency to forget that things aren't just about him. I think I have you to blame for that." 

 

"Yeah, probably," Dean admits with some chagrin. He offers her a weak grin. "Everything was always about Sam, or for Sam—at least for me." 

 

Eileen nods. "Yes, but this—Dean, this isn't about him. He won't mean to make it about him. I think it's an unconscious thing. He'll think about why you did what you did, then blame himself. Actually, I'm pretty sure he's doing that already." 

 

"It doesn't really matter, not in the grand scheme of things," Dean tells her with a shrug. "Eileen, if I'm honest, I don't usually think about it. Any of it. I know it sounds stupid, but I kinda—forgot?"

 

"We all cope with things in different ways," Eileen says placidly. "Some people just block it out." 

 

"Yeah, well, I got a lot of shit that I just blocked out, not gonna lie." Dean swivels his finger around his temple, whistling. "Daddy issues are probably the least of my goddamn problems." 

 

Eileen grins at him. "Daddy issues make people more beautiful, so maybe you're right." 

 

"I kinda wanna stay out here with you," Dean whispers, leaning in like he's telling a secret, winking at her. "You're so much more fun than Sam. How'd he ever get so lucky with you?" 

 

"His dick is big and he knows how to use it," Eileen says, laughing when Dean wrenches back in disgust. She smiles with all teeth. "Well, that, and I love him. Also, he's the father of my child. And, if you want to stay out here with me, then do it. We can talk about your childhood trauma if you want." 

 

Dean wrinkles his nose. "Eileen, no. God, that's exactly what I'm avoiding with Sam. He's gonna be a fucking nightmare." He rolls his eyes and pulls a very sad face, bottom lip poking out and all, adopting a high-pitched voice. "Oh, Dean, you're so traumatized. I never knew. How did I go so long not knowing? You were only a child!" 

 

"Nightmare," Eileen agrees, pointing the chip bag at him again, lips twitching. 

 

"Right. Fucking spare me," Dean mutters, stealing some more chips. He tosses some in his mouth and resolves to actually swallow before speaking again, if only so Eileen will better be able to read his lips. Fuck, he really needs to learn ASL. "He's gonna wanna talk about Dad too, and I just...do not want to do that, ya know? It's complicated." 

 

Eileen nods sagely. "It's why you're so pretty. All those daddy issues." 

 

"Oh, Eileen, is this what I think it is?" Dean bats his eyelashes at her, smirking lazy and suggestive. "You and I can't do this. You're married to my brother. This torrid love affair would tear this family apart." 

 

"Don't really think your family needs much help there," Eileen says, snorting when he puts his hand over his chest and winces like he's been shot. "No, mostly, I just kinda wanna put some eyeliner on you. Would you let me do that?" 

 

Dean bears his teeth. "Eh, come on, I've only just come around to being okay with having a dick in my ass. Give me some time." 

 

"We'll work on it," Eileen suggests, the corners of her eyes crinkling. "You know, Dean—my son, Dean, I mean—started wearing eyeliner. Sam was overbearing in his support. Dean just liked the eyeliner. But, you know, times changed after you were gone. Guys started wearing skirts. More and more people started giving gender and gender identity the finger. The new generation looked at being straight and thought no, thanks. Well, not all of them, obviously, but it became more normal. Dean brought home a girlfriend when he was fifteen, then three months later he brought home a boyfriend, then later he brought home someone who was neither a girl or a boy. Sam was so embarrassing about it, you would have laughed your ass off. He just wanted to be really supportive." 

 

"Sounds like him," Dean says. "It also sounds like your kid was kinda a slut, Eileen." 

 

"We don't slut-shame at my house, Dean." 

 

"Hey, no shame in it. Good for him." 

 

Eileen huffs a laugh and chews on a chip. "Actually, no one lasted because Dean was hung up on Cas. It was really kind of funny, actually. Sam used to joke about history repeating itself, and I guess he really wasn't wrong, was he?" 

 

"No, guess not," Dean agrees, wry. He shakes his head, stealing more chips. The bag never really seems to go empty. "Ya know, the world sounds like it ended up alright, after all. Can't say how I would have fit into it, but I'm glad others got to be…" 

 

"Free?" Eileen muses. 

 

Dean meets her gaze. "Yeah, that. My life—I guess I didn't really get much of that. I thought I did, but Chuck fucked all that up for me. Hey, d'ya think my dad was the way he was because Chuck made it that way? His heroes needed a tragic past, or some bullshit. I bet he thought it added character." 

 

"Maybe." Eileen tips her head from side-to-side, considering. "Maybe not." 

 

"I met him once, my dad," Dean murmurs. "I mean, when he was really young." Eileen sends him a funny look, and he just flaps a hand lazily. "I got sent to the past. It was a whole thing. Anyway, I met him, and he was—he was a good man. Kind. I think he would have hated who he turned out to be. Maybe that's not who he was meant to be." 

 

Eileen hums and reaches out to lightly kick his ankle with her shoe. "Even if that's true, all those things still happened to you. He still—it doesn't excuse anything, not really. Having something to blame it on won't make it any less...shit." 

 

"No, I know," Dean agrees with a sigh. He nudges her shoe with his boot. "Did Sam say anything about seeing Dad again?" 

 

"Well, he spent a good three hours verbally ripping John Winchester to shreds," Eileen says dryly. "I won't lie. There were a lot of times I just closed my eyes to drown him out. In the end, I think he said something about respecting your decision about your dad. If he comes back around, and you want him there, and he acts right, then Sam will… Well, I guess he'll refrain from trying to kill him." 

 

Dean nods, lips tipping down. "And Mom?" 

 

"Ah," Eileen murmurs, sitting forward with a frown of her own. "Honestly, Sam mentioned that he wanted to visit her and see if—see what came of everything. He said something else, but I wasn't looking, so I don't know. What are your plans?" 

 

"Dunno." Dean shrugs. "I guess I'll eventually talk to her. She's gonna wanna hear the whole story, because Dad sure as hell ain't gonna give her the details. She'll wanna know Sam's part, too. I just don't really want to talk about it. Everyone's gonna be asking and asking, but is it so goddamn bad that I just wanna—move forward, I guess? This is eternity. This is Heaven. I don't want to be stuck on the bad shit in my life on earth. It's bullshit." 

 

Eileen contemplates that in silence, chewing on some chips slowly. She offers him some more, eyebrows furrowed, and then she nods. "Yeah, I get that. Well, it's not about Sam or Mary. Don't let them make it about them. Sam means well. He'll get his shit together, because he isn't perfect but he always tries his best. Mary? I don't know what to tell you about her. That one's on you." 

 

"Gee, thanks," Dean says flatly. He rolls his eyes and shoves some more chips in his mouth, chewing obnoxiously. Whereas Sam would have been disgusted, Eileen just arches an eyebrow and shoves more chips into her mouth to outdo him. He snorts and shakes his head. "I wonder what Cas and Sam are talking about right now." 

 

"You, probably," Eileen says. 

 

Dean tsks. "You're much better company. Come on, let's run away and leave them behind." 

 

"We'd miss them," Eileen tells him knowingly. 

 

"Yeah," Dean says mournfully, "guess so." 

 

Eileen smiles at him again, and they fall into comfortable silence, sharing the chips back and forth without a word between them. She's right about the breeze. It's really nice out. The chips are good, and she's fun to be around, and Dean thinks she might have a point about—well, all of it. 

 

He knows, realistically, that Sam is going to want to sit down and have an in-depth conversation about this. He's going to want to explain to Dean why all of the things he went through were wrong, like Dean doesn't already know that part. He knows, okay? He honestly fucking knows. 

 

He doesn't need to be told that it was fucked up, even if he can't remember it outside of the fact that he did it. Maybe he could remember it if he tried, but he doesn't want to try. He doesn't want Sam to sit him down and talk about how it probably fucked him up, like Dean isn't already aware that he's been fucked up long before Hell ever got a hold of him. He doesn't want to hear about how guilty Sam feels for not knowing, like Sam wasn't fourteen and had no business worrying about that shit. He doesn't want to think about it, any of it, and he's spent a great number of years not doing that. 

 

He doesn't want to, and maybe Eileen's right about the fact that he doesn't have to. He can shut that shit down. He's probably going to. 

 

"Come on." Eileen taps his leg and stands up, offering her hand down to him. The chip bag has mysteriously disappeared. "Time to go face the music. Let Sam cry it out, but don't be scared to tell him to shut the hell up. If you need me, well, yelling won't do you any good. Just run." 

 

Dean snorts and reaches up to take her hand, letting her help haul him to his feet. His knees pop. She nudges him with her elbow, smiling, and they head into the house. It's quiet inside. 

 

Cas and Sam are located in the kitchen. There's a mess of melted wax everywhere, and Sam's eyes are already red-rimmed, which is a recipe for disaster. Sure enough, he takes one look at Dean and his eyes start to water. Eileen sighs. Cas tosses up a hand, looking particularly bitchy. Dean can't help but chuckle, shaking his head. 

 

"Alright," Dean says, "everybody out but the overgrown giant." 

 

Cas and Eileen dutifully file out. On the way, Cas pauses to look at Dean, flicking his gaze over his face. Dean slaps on a grin, but Cas knows him too well. He just sighs and reaches out to touch Dean's cheek. It's a weirdly intimate gesture, fingers skating gently over his jaw. Dean swallows and reaches out to tap on his chest three times, if only to reassure him, if only because it's true. 

 

That seems to do the trick where his smile didn't. Cas smiles slightly and drops his head, turning and moving along. He and Eileen leave the room, signing back and forth, her laughter echoing in the homely kitchen. When Dean checks, Sam has managed to get himself mildly under control, blinking hard and swallowing compulsively. 

 

"You're gonna be a bitch about this, aren't you?" Dean asks, raising his eyebrows. 

 

"Yes," Sam says, and his voice cracks. 

 

Sam looks wrecked, and he sounds it, too. Dean heaves a sigh and opens his arms, muttering, "Okay, Sammy, okay," as Sam practically barrels him over to hug him a little too tight and a little too long. He cries, too, which isn't very good for either of them. Sam has always been an ugly-crier, but only when he's crying deeply, all heaving sobs and snotty noses. Dean pats his shoulder and sighs. 

 

"I'm sorry," Sam chokes out as soon as he pulls away, staring at Dean with wide eyes. "I'm so—" 

 

"Shut up," Dean says, watching in satisfaction as Sam's mouth clicks shut with a snap. Dean steps back and levers himself up onto the counter with a grunt, settling in, kicking his legs idly. "Look, it's like this, alright? It wasn't all the time. There were times I was lucky enough to get a job. You remember that part-time job I had at the hardware store?" Sam nods hesitantly, and Dean clears his throat and looks away. "That one was real. Moving around a lot, shit work history, a GED, balancing looking after you and hunting and everything else...it was all a lot of shit that made it hard to find an income. So, sometimes, I told you I had a job when I actually didn't." 

 

"Why didn't you tell—" 

 

"You were fourteen fucking years old, Sam. Then fifteen and sixteen and seventeen, and by the time you were eighteen, you were on the fast-track to college. It wasn't none of your goddamn business. It's still not. It's not your fault, and to be perfectly honest, I don't really remember most of it. And I don't wanna talk about it. At all. Sammy, it's not—it isn't about you." 

 

"You did it because of—" 

 

"I did it for you, and that was my decision. Mine. You didn't have a say in it. You still don't." 

 

Sam scrubs his hand over the side of his face, then ducks his head. His hair falls into his face, and he blows it away distractedly—just like Mary. "What am I supposed to do? Just act like it was okay? Just forget about it like it's not—like it wasn't—" 

 

"Dude," Dean mutters, "if you think that's the only shit you missed when you were younger, you're an idiot. You missed shit because I made sure you did. You're not gonna know everything, and you don't get to be guilty about it, either. I worked very fucking hard to stop that from happening, so don't go fucking it up for me. Just—just…drop it, man." 

 

"I hate him, Dean," Sam whispers. "Dad. I really fucking hate him." 

 

Dean sighs. "I don't. Well, I do, but I don't." 

 

"You know it's not—okay, right?" Sam looks at him, eyebrows folding together. "You know what happened and what you had to do, even the things I don't know about, it's wrong. Right?" 

 

"Yes, Sam, I'm aware." Dean rolls his eyes and kicks his leg out, letting his boot connect hard against Sam's hip. He barely even flinches. "Seriously, I already know, okay? We don't have to have a heart-to-heart. I don't want to have a heart-to-heart. I'm fucked up, what else is new? You think my childhood was the worst thing that ever happened to me? Yeah, no. That shit was a cakewalk compared to some of the things we went through long after Dad was already dead. At least I don't regret taking care of you while I could. The rest, the stuff that came later? I have a lot of regrets there, and that's worse."

 

Sam watches him for a long time, his lips tipped down. "You really just want to...let it go and move on? Just like that?" 

 

"I did that a long time ago. Dad brings it outta me, I guess. I was just—I dunno. I guess I was just really pissed at him for everything." 

 

"That's fair. So am I." 

 

"You think Mom knew?" Dean asks. 

 

"Not entirely," Sam says. "She was upset." 

 

Dean grunts. "Eileen said you mentioned something about wanting to talk to her." 

 

"You don't?" 

 

"Not really. I don't wanna explain any of this shit." 

 

"I kinda do," Sam admits. He frowns down at the floor, hands going in his pockets. "You don't have to, obviously, but I think—I guess I want her to know. We never really...told her. Not everything. Not how bad it could be. I didn't want to—" 

 

"Shit on Dad's memory?" Dean suggests, raising his eyebrows pointedly. 

 

Sam's lips twitch. "That, or speak ill of the dead. And, well, it wasn't—it wasn't always bad, was it? Or am I just mixing that up, too? I don't even really know what's what anymore, Dean." 

 

"No, it was—there were some good times." Dean sighs and shrugs lazily. "It's complicated, man. What isn't, though? I kinda just wanna move on at this point. I got a real nice house with a weird as fuck angel who likes me a little too much and a bar where I can pass the time. I'm as free as I've ever been, and I got eternity to relax into it, ya know?" 

 

"Settling down, huh?" Sam asks wryly. 

 

Dean waggles his eyebrows. "Hell yeah. I'm living the dream, dude." 

 

"You're coming around quicker than I thought you would," Sam admits. 

 

"What? With Cas?" 

 

"Yeah. You said—you just admitted it out loud, to Dad, that you love him. I never thought you'd say it, especially where Cas could hear you." 

 

"Hey, fuck you," Dean sputters, "I tell Cas I love him all the time. We have a—well, there's this thing I do. Anyway, you didn't hear his epically romantic speech before he died. I went from the main character to a love interest so fast, dude. 'Course I was gonna come around in the end. That's the way the story goes, ain't it?" 

 

Sam chokes on a laugh and shakes his head. "Well, as long as you're happy, man." 

 

"I am, mostly." Dean shrugs again. "I got you, I got Cas, I got Jack and Eileen and the bar and Bobby and a whole lotta shit to be happy about. This crap with Mom and Dad… It'll either work out or it won't, I guess. It ain't like we're not used to living without them. We'll be alright. We always are." 

 

"Wow." Sam stares at him. "Cas should have fucked you sooner." 

 

Dean picks up a half-made candle and makes like he's gonna throw it. "Bitch," he says. 

 

Sam doesn't even flinch. He smiles. "Jerk." 

 


 

Claire shows up in the bar one day, and about point-two seconds after, Kaia walks in right behind her. They look older than Dean ever knew them, more grown than young, wildly enough. The moment Donna sees them, she launches out of her seat, nearly knocking Bobby over when she does. 

 

"No!" she gasps out, rushing forward. "Already? What happened? Before Jodes?!" 

 

Claire and Kaia share a look as Donna yanks them into a hug as one, a small group hug that looks borderline painful. It's so strange how much older they look—they seem like they're in their fucking thirties, which is an impossible concept to Dean. He's guessing they were older when they died, which is even more impossible for him to imagine. 

 

"It was just a bad case, Donna," Kaia murmurs when she pulls back. "We've been thinking about retiring for a little bit now, but we hadn't decided yet." 

 

Claire snorts. "Looks like it's decided for us. God, Jody is gonna be so pissed when she gets up here. Dean will be, too." 

 

Dean jolts in surprise to hear his name, and then he's even more bemused to realize she's not talking about him at all. Right, his nephew is her godson. Weird. That's so fucking weird. 

 

 "Didja just get in?" Donna asks, sighing. 

 

"Sort of," Kaia mutters awkwardly. 

 

"It was weird." Claire makes a face. "I spoke with my parents. Reunited, things like that. It was mostly fine until Kaia showed up. I've never had anyone tell me it was a sin to like vagina before, until my mother. God, Donna, you coulda warned me." 

 

Dean winces in sympathy. 

 

"Well, if it was a sin, I reckon you'd be in Hell, dontcha know?" Donna clicks her tongue and shakes her head. "Nevermind that, you like whatever you want to. What brings the both of ya here?" 

 

"Well, Claire—in very spectacular Claire fashion—told her mother that…um." Kaia shoots Claire a look, clearing her throat. 

 

"That she's lucky I didn't show up sooner with how often I tried to smother myself between Kaia's legs," Claire says dryly, arching an eyebrow. 

 

Kaia coughs. "Yes, that. Anyway, Mr. Novak had to take his wife inside to calm down, and he said that we should visit for dinner at some point. Claire just stole his car and started driving us...nowhere, until we sort of ended up here." 

 

"Where is here?" Claire asks, narrowing her eyes. 

 

"That would be Mothership," Dean calls out, raising his eyebrows when Claire and Kaia snap their heads over in perfect sync. "A bar. Cas' and mine." 

 

Claire blinks at him, then laughs a little softly, lips parting. "Well, I'll be damned. Dean Winchester in the fucking flesh." 

 

"Alive and kicking, except not," Dean tells her, grinning. 

 

"You named your bar Mothership?" Claire asks, moving over in surprise. She gives Bobby a quick, careless glance, then leans against the bar with Kaia hovering right beside her. 

 

"Led Zeppelin reference," Dean says defensively, reaching down in the cooler to grab a beer and slide it to her. "Cas didn't mind." 

 

"You said it's his bar, too?" Claire peers around, rocking forward and back on her elbows. "Where is he, then?" 

 

"Playing hooky," Dean mutters. "Sam stole him and Jack, so I stole Eileen. She's currently asleep in the back, though, so I got the raw end of the deal. I could give him a call, if you want."

 

"No, it's fine," Claire says, waving a hand. "You could wake Eileen up, though. It'd be good to see her. It's been a while. Besides, I think she'd like to know what her son has been up to." 

 

"Living up to his namesake?" Dean asks. 

 

Kaia wrinkles her nose. "You have no idea." 

 

Dean smiles and shakes his head, walking off to go find whatever corner Eileen curled up into. As he goes, he hears Claire say to, presumably, Bobby, "You got a staring problem, old man?" to which Bobby gruffly replies, "Who you callin' old?" 

 

When Eileen finds out that Claire and Kaia are here, she practically flies out of the back to go hug them. They all do a mixture of talking and sign language, which Dean can only follow a little bit of. He's having Eileen, Cas, and Sam teach him in their downtime and when they're in the mood, but they're going so fast he can barely follow it. 

 

Dean pulls out his phone and texts Cas anyway. 

 

Whatever updates Claire and Kaia have about the younger Dean, it's apparently shocking enough that Eileen gasps and frantically waggles her fingers towards Dean. He has no idea what she's asking for until she signs that she wants a drink, then he rushes to get her one—a strong one, just in case she doesn't need the comfort of a memory right now, but instead wants a stiff drink. By the way she knocks it back, he's guessing that's the case. 

 

Not long after Dean texts Cas, Jack just abruptly appears in the bar, not using the goddamn door like he's supposed to. Just this once, he can let it slide because Jack is absolutely beaming when he shows up right next to Claire. He looks delighted, which he probably shouldn't because Claire is dead, but still. 

 

"Hello," Jack greets with his usual, awkward wave. 

 

"Hey, Beanstalk," Claire says, reaching out to punch him in his arm. "All these years, and you never once thought about texting me back?" 

 

Jack looks contrite in a second, all sad eyes and slumped shoulders. "I did want to, but I could not interfere. I'm very sorry." 

 

"Ah, chin up, kid," Claire assures him, rolling her eyes. "Ain't no skin off my teeth." 

 

Dean watches with mild interest as Claire, Jack, and Kaia have their own miniature reunion. Bobby grunts at him, and Dean slides him another drink with a huff of laughter. Donna and Eileen have moved to the side slightly, talking to each other about whatever Dean Winchester of the alive variety has been getting up to that's so scandalous. 

 

A little bit later, Sam and Cas come ushering into the bar, and Dean perks up curiously. He watches Cas come to a screeching halt, blinking in surprise as he looks at Claire, no doubt taking in all of her differences—laugh lines, new scars, a little taller, longer hair, just...older. Cas looks so startled for a second that Dean almost wants to laugh. 

 

Kaia notices first and says, "Claire." 

 

"What, sweetheart?" Claire asks, turning her focus from Jack and following Kaia's pointed nod. When she sees Cas, she blinks, then snorts. "Well, if it isn't the source of all my abandonment issues coming to cure me. Aren't you a sight for sore eyes?" 

 

"Claire," Cas greets, lips curling up, "you look...well." 

 

"I'm dead," Claire says flatly. "Never looked better. I saw my dad, you know. You two look very different to be—well, the same." 

 

Cas hums. "We are not the same. Through resurrection, this body became my own. I look like me because I am me, not James Novak." 

 

"You're bulkier than him," Claire points out. 

 

"I fought more things than he ever did." 

 

"Fair." 

 

They size each other up for another long moment. Or, well, Claire sizes Cas up. Cas, on the other hand, is just gazing at Claire fondly. It's starting to do very funny things to Dean's heart. Dads, man. The good ones, especially. They really get to him. Jesus fucking Christ, he has so many fucking issues. 

 

Eventually, Claire seems to reach the conclusion of her little dilemma, because she gives a sharp nod and walks over to hug him. It's very sweet. Dean's very sure Claire would make him swallow his teeth if he actually said that, so he does not. Claire turned out to be a strangely intimidating woman. 

 

After that, there's a bustle of Sam reuniting with Kaia and Claire, hugs all around. Eileen is well on her way to getting thoroughly drunk, and Sam looks outright worried when Kaia admits that they have something to tell him about his son. 

 

When it comes out a few moments later that Dean who isn't in Heaven is on the fast-track to Heaven because he fucked around and made a stupid deal, as per tradition, Dean groans and says, "Jesus Christ, all Winchesters are the same kinda stupid." 

 

"You can say that shit again," Eileen says morosely, taking another swig from her glass. 

 

Sam just sighs, reaching up to pinch his nose, shaking his head. "Don't tell me. It was for Cas, right? His Cas, I mean." 

 

"Who else?" Kaia asks dryly. 

 

"All Dean Winchesters are the same kinda stupid," Eileen clarifies, putting her chin in her hand. 

 

"Thanks," Dean says, tone flat. He even signs it to her, a little jerky to get his point across. 

 

Eileen flips him off. 

 

"Does Cas know?" Sam asks softly. 

 

Claire snorts. "Cas is oblivious. He still calls Dean his bro and pretends like all their over-the-top gestures for each other mean nothing. If only Garth were here. Or, there. Garth would have known what to do." 

 

"This is very strange," Cas comments. 

 

"Tell me about it," Dean mutters. 

 

Kaia ignores them both, smiling sadly at Sam. "We planned to—to convince him to explain, but Dean is as stubborn as you are. I doubt he'll tell Cas without us there to encourage it. Alex helps with cases from the hospitals, but I don't think he'll tell her. Patience has her own kids to worry about, so you know Dean won't go to her. Jody wasn't doing too hot, if I'm being honest. She's—she's really old." 

 

"I don't know how the hell that woman has outlived so many people," Claire admits. "I love her, but she's practically coughing dust." 

 

"If she outlives us all, you owe me twenty bucks," Kaia tells her, like she's reminding her of an old agreement. Their sense of humor is oddly morbid, but Dean can get behind it. 

 

Claire focuses on Dean. "You know, Dean used to use you and Cas as a cautionary tale for his own situation with his own Cas. He thinks all Cas and Deans are cursed." 

 

"What? Why?" Dean sputters. 

 

Sam coughs. "'Cause I may have told him that you and Cas were in love when he was, like, five. I was trying to explain why Cas was called Uncle Cas if he wasn't my actual brother, and it sort of slipped out, and then I had to explain that you two weren't actually together, you just loved each other very much. So, I'm guessing it kinda—uh, stuck." 

 

"Okay, so our epic romance was tragic as shit, whatever. Not the case in Heaven, though, is it? I came right to him the very first day," Dean says. 

 

"Did you?" Claire asks, surprised. "I thought it would have taken three days, at least, for you to even realize you missed him. Damn." 

 

"Sure wish we could tell Dean that right about now," Kaia mumbles, heaving a sigh. 

 

"He could have been a therapist. He went to college for it," Sam says sadly. 

 

Claire snags Jack's juice box and raises it like she's making a toast. "The most well-rounded hunter I've ever known, Dean Winchester. And the one before him, the most fucked up." 

 

Bobby busts out laughing, and Dean scowls. 

 

The rest of the day passes in mostly the same fashion. Claire and Kaia get the basic rundown on Heaven, and they agree to go driving in their stolen car to find their house later. They have no idea what it will look like, because apparently they've been staying in the Bunker, and so have a few other hunters—including the next generation of Sam, Dean, and Cas. That's so odd, but Dean gets a weird sense of pride from learning that. 

 

Garth shows up, and he gets the scoop on his twin sons' shenanigans. It makes him scratch his head and wonder what the hell his daughter is doing, to which Kaia replies that she's basically running around trying to make sure her little brothers, Sam and Cas, don't do anything stupid. She apparently didn't expect it out of Dean. 

 

Dean gets Claire behind the bar and is unsurprised that she knows how to make drinks. She helps give Jack a few lessons, but she mostly just flirts with Kaia and makes shameless innuendos about spreading her out on the bar. Dean eventually has to shut that shit down, because his bar is very classy and the only people doing anything even remotely sexual are gonna be him and Cas. He doesn't actually say that last part, but still. 

 

Bobby and Claire strike up something of a gruff, bickering war where they're like two alleycats meeting and hissing at each other. It's hilarious. 

 

Eileen gets properly drunk, bemoaning her son's stupidity, and Sam spends a lot of time with his head on her shoulder, sighing heavily. Donna does her absolute best to cheer them up. 

 

Cas splits his time between Jack and Claire, seemingly happy to just talk to them. In the end, however, they mostly just frazzle him by being little shits in their very different ways. Jack, with his earnestness. Claire, with her sarcasm. Kaia seems to take pity a lot and drags Cas into conversation, offering him small smiles and a brief moment of feeling less like he's being outwitted by two people he feels very responsible for. 

 

And Dean? 

 

Well, Dean simply sits back and basks in the feeling of family. Not everyone is here at the moment. Not Charlie, or Jo, or Ellen, or Kevin, or Rufus, or Adam. But that doesn't really matter when he'll probably see them around tomorrow, or the day after that. It's just pleasing to have what he does now, as well as what he's going to have tomorrow. It's the freedom of being able to look forward to his future. 

 

He's peering down the barrel of eternity, and it doesn't feel like something to dread. It's because of these people here with him now and some that aren't. It's good. It's really good. 

 

Yet, Dean thinks about his mom and dad. He hasn't seen either of them since the Disaster Dinner, as he has dubbed it in his mind. Sam had admitted that he spoke to Mary and explained a lot of things, and that she mentioned her and John were working through some issues, and that she asked how she could get in touch with Dean. She can't, is the thing. Cas says she'll be able to find him when he's ready to see her. 

 

Maybe it's something about the day. Something to do with Claire and Kaia showing up, giving some insight to some of the life on earth that he never got a solid crack at. Something to do with how comfortable he's gotten with showing his affection to Cas ever since handled the hurtle of his dad. Something to do with the time he's had to relax in the knowledge that he could spend eternity never seeing his parents again, if he wanted to. 

 

Except he doesn't really want to. 

 

Maybe that's why Mary is waiting when he and Cas go home later than evening. He sees her standing out by the lake, her hands shoved in her pockets. She heard Baby pulling up, causing her to turn, and now she waits. Dean stares at her for a while, and Cas reaches out to touch his hand, their fingers tangling on the seat. He doesn't say anything, just squeezes Dean's hand, then gets out of the car to go inside. 

 

After a while, Dean shoves himself out of Baby and forces himself to bite the bullet. Mary watches him approach and doesn't say anything when he walks right past her to plop down on the edge of the deck, his feet swinging over calm waters. She just moves over to sit next to him, sighing. 

 

"It's pretty out here," Mary says. 

 

"You should see it later at night," Dean tells her quietly. "There are glowworms and fireflies that light this place up. One of Cas' better ideas." 

 

"I'll bet." Mary goes silent for a while, and there's just the sound of trickling water, a rippling lake. All at once, she bursts out a deep exhale. "I take a drive every day trying to get to you, but this is the first day I've ever ended up anywhere." 

 

"I feel like I was along for a drive every day for most of my life to get to you, but you were already dead," Dean replies, then immediately wishes he hadn't. Shit, he doesn't want to talk about it. Why the fuck did he say that? Shit, shit, shit. "Sorry, that was—I shouldn't have said that. Kinda fucked up. Sorry." 

 

"It's true," Mary murmurs simply. "Sam said you didn't want to talk about it, any of it. Is that true?"

 

"Yeah, I'd rather not," Dean admits. 

 

Mary nods out of his peripheral. "You don't have to tell me, Dean, but if you—if you ever want to, know that you can. Just...one thing. When I came back, why didn't you ever—why did neither of you—" 

 

"Say anything?" Dean fills in when she struggles to finish her sentence. He glances over at her, and she nods, frowning. "Because you were dead, and then you weren't, and that was… I dunno. It was complicated, you know that, but it was also kinda like everything had been worth it somehow. Dad never stopped loving you, Mom. The John you knew, he was still—he had that part of him, I guess, and it just got so twisted and fucked up. Everything that happened to our family is just fucked up. Maybe we didn't want you to be sucked into that shit." 

 

"There's no excuse for the things he's done. I will not allow him to use me as a scapegoat for treating you boys the way he did," Mary says firmly. 

 

Dean quirks a small smile. "Good on you, Mom, but I don't think it's that simple, either. He didn't have it easy, to be fair. He's just—it's complicated." 

 

"Were you scared of him?" Mary whispers. 

 

"Yeah," Dean breathes out. 

 

Mary clears her throat. "I was, too. Of my father, I mean. He was rough around the edges like John turned out to be. Hunting—you know how it can be on someone. That's why I never wanted that life for my kids. My father wasn't like John, not the way I'm just now hearing about, but it was complicated for me, too. I love that asshole, even now. I'm guessing it's the same for you?" 

 

"He's my dad," is all Dean can say. It's all he finds himself thinking when he goes back and forth on how he feels about John Winchester. He's my dad, he's my dad, he's my dad. 

 

"I made him find Henry," Mary tells him. "I made him sit down with his dad." 

 

Dean blinks. "Oh? And how did that go?" 

 

"Well, you know your father. Better than I do, apparently. John was...gruff, of course. He didn't really seem to know what to do. But Henry? He was over the moon. He's a funny man. A little out of time, but endearing. He kept cracking jokes about how he used to put John on his knee and bounce him for hours, about how John would get into his Murray's hair pomade and try to eat it. He reminded me so much of who John used to be." 

 

"Just a long line of daddy issues in this family, huh? It's gotta be a Winchester thing. I reckon Sam broke that cycle, thankfully."

 

"Yes, well, I think John didn't know he had any issues surrounding his dad," Mary says. "He was real quiet after the visit. In fairness, it's quiet a lot at our house these days, unless we're fighting." 

 

"Sorry 'bout that," Dean mutters. 

 

Mary shakes her head, lips twitching. "It's not your fault. John is—he's a prideful man." 

 

"I know." 

 

"It's not just his pride that stops him from admitting he was wrong, you know." 

 

"Then what the hell is it?" Dean asks. 

 

"It's more than just admitting that he messed up, though I'm sure it doesn't make it any easier." Mary sighs and looks over at him. "If he owns up to it, he has to face the fact that he's at fault for a lot of yours and Sam's pain. It's not just being wrong, it's also that he has to accept he hurt both of you, which he doesn't want to do, because then he'll have to realize he hurt two of the people he loves the most." 

 

Dean swallows around a lump in his throat. "He sure has a funny way of showing it. Besides, we're not trying to crucify him for fucking up. You think I don't know what it's like digging your own goddamn hole and not knowing how to get out of it? There's shit with—with Jack that I… Well, I'll never forgive myself for it, even if he already has. But, for some fucking reason, the kid likes me and wants me around, so I try to do better. That's all I can do. I ain't gonna make shit worse by refusing him because I'm fucked up over my own dumbass decisions. As long as he wants me around, I'm here."

 

"John is—struggling with that," Mary tells him with a sigh. "He told me what he did, you know. Why he was gone so much, following leads, trying to do the right thing. He laid it all out, explained about the hunting, about how he just kept getting in deeper and deeper. The drinking, the women, the fights. He doesn't see it, but I know he had no idea what the hell he was doing. He didn't know how to be a hunter, not to begin with. He didn't even really know how to be a dad, 'cause he never had one, really. We were figuring out parenting together, and those first four years—well… It wasn't always perfect or easy, but we thought we were doing okay. We were happy. And then it just all just—fell to shit." 

 

"Yeah, that's usually how it goes." Dean shrugs when she frowns at him. "What? Am I supposed to feel bad for him, or you? I mean, I do, but it was my life, too. I remember it. I remember you, Mom. And him. My world fell to shit overnight when I was four years old, and then it never stopped." 

 

"You're right," Mary agrees softly, staring at him, her eyes shining a little. "You're right, and we can't fix it. Neither of us. That's part of it, too. John can't fix any of it. He doesn't know what to do." 

 

"Sammy and I don't need either of you to fix anything. You can't. You just can't," Dean snaps, slicing his hand through the air. "What's done is done. We got a lid on our shit. I took care of him. I took care of me, best I could anyway. You and Dad are not the worst things that ever happened to us. Maybe the most complicated, maybe the most disappointing, but that's it. We've dealt with worse, trust me, so fixing it? You don't. You never do." 

 

"So why am I here?" Mary asks, gesturing to the lake. Her voice is soft, careful, uncertain. She sounds scared. She sounds full of regret. 

 

"You're still my mom," Dean mutters, looking down at the water with a sigh. "I ain't saying it's gotta be a perfect little family, but wouldn't it be nice to have something uncomplicated for fucking once? Bake me a pie again, or something. I dunno. Just—try. All you gotta do is try. That's literally it." 

 

Mary sucks in a sharp breath, her small hands balling to fists in her lap. After a long moment, she exhales shakily and says, "It's very hard to feel as if I deserve that chance. Forgiveness feels impossible."

 

"It isn't about you," Dean says. "Look, I can't speak for Sam, but I ain't doing it for you. I'm doing it for me. It's not about what you deserve; it's about what I deserve, and that's a goddamn chance at a simpler time with my mom. If I wanna show up and sit the fuck down with you just to—I don't even know, something, anything, then I should be able to. Sam should be able to. We should have that freedom." 

 

"If that's what you want," Mary whispers, looking at him seriously, holding his gaze. "I want that. Anytime, Dean. You're welcome anytime." 

 

Dean purses his lips. "And Dad?" 

 

"Do you feel the same way about him?" 

 

"He's even more complicated than you are." 

 

"I know." 

 

"There's no point, is there? What with Cas…" 

 

Mary makes a strange face, eyes narrowing even as she wrinkles her nose. "I did not know he would have a problem with you and Castiel. I mean, I won't lie to you, Dean. I was surprised when I first met him and saw you together, but you—you reminded me of me, the way I was with your dad." 

 

"Okay, I'll bite." Dean frowns at her. "The fuck does that even mean? You knew instantly?" 

 

"From the moment you two hugged," Mary says, lips twitching. "I used to be—I guess you could say I was the type to roll my eyes and scoff at any sort of affection when I was younger. Growing up the way I did, in the community that I did, touching wasn't usually something to look forward to. But, with your dad, I can't help but just...relax, you know? It just feels so unnecessarily right, and even when I was rolling my eyes every time he touched me, back before I was pregnant with you, I still sort of just sunk into it. The way you do with Castiel. You don't even seem to realize you're doing it. I saw it, and I instantly knew, because it was—well, it was me." 

 

Dean stares at her, then huffs a slightly ridiculous laugh, shaking his head. "Huh. Uh, you know Cas and I weren't—we never—" 

 

"Really?" Mary stares at him in confusion, her eyebrows furrowing. "Seriously? Never?" 

 

"Not until we got up here. That asshole gave a big love confession, then just died on me." 

 

"Oh. Ouch." 

 

"Yeah." 

 

"Well, I wouldn't worry about your father." 

 

"Funny," Dean says. "Hilarious, Mom. What, is Dad just suddenly down with the gays now?" 

 

"I had a long talk with him about it," Mary says softly. She looks at Dean with a sad smile. "The way we grew up, the time we grew up in...it wasn't the best for people like you, you know." 

 

People like you runs around in circles in Dean's head, not really seeming to make sense. People like him. He's a part of a people. Like a little club, or some shit, but one where others who aren't in it might hate you. It's so weird because Dean doesn't really feel any different than he ever has. He doesn't feel much different than anyone else, outside of being fucked up. He puts his shoes on one at a time just like everyone else does, so to speak. What, just because he likes dick openly now, he's suddenly different? He's suddenly other? 

 

But, in the same breath, he gets what she means, what she's hinting at. He grew up in a time where it wasn't easy either, especially with John raising him when he stuck around to do so. Dean even bought into it for a while, which might have been where hating himself became second-nature. Sam never bought into it. Dean's influence? Maybe. Or maybe Sam was always destined to be a good person. His random jokes through the years, mildly offensive as they were, paled in comparison to Dean's. He never really meant them the way Dean did. He was always a very live and let live kinda person. 

 

So, Dean just says, "I know," and lets it go. 

 

"But," Mary continues, "John had a rude awakening when I told him about the couple of times I rolled around in the hay with girls he couldn't have dreamed of pulling."

 

"What?!" Dean blurts out, appalled. 

 

Mary smiles at him, a twinkle in her eyes. "You're not the first Winchester to like both, sweetheart."

 

"You're shittin' me." 

 

"I'm absolutely not." 

 

"Holy shit," Dean chokes out, staring at her with wide eyes. "And you told Dad? What did he—" 

 

"You may not know this about your father, but he's not made out of stone. I told him if he wasn't okay with you, he couldn't be okay with me. He had to wrap his head around it. He's got this idea that it's different for men, but it's really not. I'm not going to give you all the details, but to put it plainly, I said he wouldn't ever lay another finger on me unless we found out the joys of—what's it called?" Mary snaps her fingers, eyes narrowing. "I had to ask Charlie. She knew what I was talking about. A peg?" 

 

Dean's eyes bulge. "Okay, woah, stop right the fuck there. No, thank you. I don't wanna know shit. I'd rather Dad be a raging asshole for the rest of eternity than hear whatever else you're about to say. Uh, no offense. But, um, no. Just...no."

 

"Fair enough," Mary says, lips twitching. "Anyway, I've been wearing him down. He still doesn't like Castiel, though I can't imagine why. Castiel is great. But I did get him to admit out loud that you liking what you like doesn't change anything, and that you kicking his ass was something to respect." 

 

"He said Cas has me by the balls, but Mom…" Dean tips his head towards her, raising his eyebrows a little pointedly. "He was projecting, it sounds like."

 

Mary grins at him. "Dean, sweetheart, I've always had your father by the balls. I do love him, you know. Right now, I'm so furious I could kill him, but I still love him. I'd drag him to Hell myself so Castiel didn't have to if he didn't show any potential of change, though, just so you're aware. I don't know when. I can't give you a time frame, but one of these days, he's going to come around." 

 

"I don't even know if I want him to." 

 

"I don't blame you." 

 

"If he does…" Dean takes a breath and slowly lets it out. "Well, I guess we'll see when the time comes."

 

"I guess so," Mary agrees softly. 

 

They fall into comfortable silence, both staring at the water, watching the lake stir under the wind. They don't say anything else, but Dean doesn't really think they need to. This is enough. 

 

Sometimes, enough is all you get. 

 


 

It's months before Dean sees his father again. 

 

In that time frame, Jody shows up. She gets to reunite with her actual kid, as well as her wayward ones. Donna kisses her full on the mouth right in front of Jody's dead husband and Bobby, and Jody wryly introduces her as her best friend. It's kind of adorable how excited Donna is, and Dean finds himself looking at Claire questioningly. Claire just shakes her head, so it's a no on Jody and Donna being an item. Donna's literally just that happy to see her best friend. 

 

Also in that time frame, Dean gets Charlie, Jo, and Eileen over to his house, kicking Cas out to go spend time with Sam. Somehow, Claire and Kaia end up at the house, too, and Dean suffers through all of them calling it a goddamn slumber party. It's fun, though. They all eat popcorn and watch movies. Eileen browbeats Dean into eyeliner—he's not a fan of the experience, even if he grudgingly admits that it's kinda hot, and Jo thinks it's hilarious. Charlie decides around two in the morning that she would like her ear pierced—the top of it, the curving cartilage—and Claire is the one who does it with a piece of ice and goddamn sewing needle. Kaia is the first to fall asleep, and she does so on Dean's shoulder, drooling on him. It's a good night, overall.

 

At some point, though, all the lights go out for, like, a solid hour. Heaven as a whole is just—dark. Dean has no idea what the fuck is going on, and he doesn't find out until the next day that Sam and Cas somehow managed to briefly cause so much chaos that they royally fucked up the structural integrity of Heaven, sending the whole goddamn place into darkness. Dean decides right then and there that Cas and Sam are not permitted to be left to their own devices ever again. 

 

Somewhere in these few months, Dean also gets around to sucking Cas' dick for the very first time. It's pretty nice, actually. Heaven is top notch because he can just will himself not to have a gag reflex, he finds out, and so he doesn't even really have to do any of the work. Cas just fucks his mouth however he wants to, and Dean gets to listen to him moan. And, when Cas comes, he pulls out enough to make a mess on Dean's mouth and tongue. Then he proceeds to lick that mess up, which is so unbearably hot that Dean almost asks Cas to marry him. So, ten-outta-ten, they do actually do it again. 

 

It's not Doc Holliday from Tombstone, but it's somehow even better, so Dean is thriving. 

 

At some point, Dean just...stops thinking about his dad. The sting of it fades. He shoves it down and away, focusing on the good in everything else, instead. People come as time speeds up and slows down on earth—Alex, Garth's wife (Bess), and Missouri's son (James) are notable arrivals. Heaven keeps right on going, freedom under his fingertips. 

 

It's easier because his mom is around. She never brings up John, and Dean never asks. She makes it a point to bring him a pie every now and again, and they're good enough that Dean doesn't bother trying to get her to stop. Things are still complicated, as they always may be, but Dean doesn't mind so much when they're both trying. It gets easier day after day to just be glad that she's around. 

 

Dean thinks he could spend eternity doing this. Just this. It's almost like his dad is just—dead. Sort of like it was before, in an odd way. It gets to the point that Dean's not even really that mad about it. If he never sees his dad again, well, so be it. 

 

But then, out of the blue, John does show up. 

 

It's at an inopportune time, admittedly. Dean and Cas are closing Mothership down, so the bar is empty. It's getting later and later, and they keep delaying their trip home because they're having a minor argument about a song. You fucking guessed it. Only The Good Die Young is playing in the background at the bar, and Dean is fully fucking convinced that it's Cas' fault, because there's no way that he's the one who wants to hear it. 

 

So, they bitch at each other for the entirety of the song, because goddammit does Dean fucking hate it. Except Cas has caught him singing it in the shower, or when he's cooking, or when he's giving Baby a bath, or when he's not thinking about anything too hard, and so he clearly doesn't hate it, Cas is sure. Dean insists that it's not his fault that it's catchy, and then Cas squints at him and makes a very suggestive comment about marriage of all things, and by the time the song is changing into something by Bruno Mars—that's definitely Cas—Dean has Cas pinned against the bar as they make out stupidly. 

 

This is, of course, how John finds them. 

 

There's a rough clearing of a throat that Dean would recognize absolutely anywhere at any time, and it will henceforth haunt his nightmares from this day onward. It makes Dean jerk back, startled, head whipping around to blink at his dad in pure shock. 

 

For a split second, Dean feels like a teenager, like his dad is about to kick his ass for doing something wrong. All the time in between, and his dad still has that effect. It takes actual effort for Dean to plant his feet and not back away from Cas, even if the point would be moot now. John definitely got an eyeful, seeing as he walked in on them kissing. 

 

"Ah," Dean blurts out, "Dad." 

 

Just that. Dad. It's spoken in the tone one would use to describe a deadly force capable of ruining everything. Simple and uncomplicated dread. He doesn't want to fight his dad. He can, he knows that now. He will, if he has to. He just...doesn't want to. 

 

John has a pinched look around his eyes, but he gives a stiff nod and gruffly mutters, "Dean." There's a long beat of silence, then, "...Castiel." 

 

"What're you, uh, doing here?" Dean ventures, eyebrows raising. Cas sure as shit isn't going to greet John. He's a bitch. Dean loves him a lot. 

 

"I'm—" John stops. A muscle in his jaw twitches. He stands very still, then stands very tall. His gaze drifts from Dean to Cas, lingering there. "I ain't getting on my goddamn knees, but—" He stops again. He doesn't really seem to know how to start back. 

 

Dean sees where he gets his struggle with speaking from. Still, he's not about to make this easy. John rarely made things easy for him, after all. "But?" 

 

"But," John agrees. He reaches up to scrub his eyebrow with his fingers. "I need a goddamn drink for this shit." 

 

"Get the man a drink, Cas," Dean says, tapping Cas on the hip. Cas squints at him, but Dean holds his gaze, so he does pull away with a scowl. 

 

Cas swings behind the bar, every single inch of him pissed off. He's going to absolutely fuck Dean's world up after whatever this is gets over with. A drink in hand, Cas marches over to John, completely unafraid, and he holds it out. John hesitates for only a split second, but it's enough. He does reach out and grab the beer, popping the top and taking a deep swallow. After, he heaves a sigh. 

 

"Continue," Cas prompts, arching an eyebrow. 

 

John looks like he has just swallowed something very sour for a second, and then his expression smooths out. He doesn't look at Dean. He looks at Cas, and keeps looking at Cas, and he says, "The only person I'm willing to treat like an angel is my wife, but I have been told that I can treat you with the respect you've earned for being there for Sam and...Dean. So, I will." 

 

"I don't care," Cas says bluntly. 

 

"I know," John says, then nods towards Dean, "but he does, so it's teeth-grinding tolerance from here on out for me. You're not—the worst." 

 

Cas lingers for a moment, then smiles thinly. "I do believe you can do better than that." 

 

"You're pushing it." 

 

"Someone has to. He won't. Do better, or get out."

 

John audibly grits his teeth, but then he huffs out a deep breath and snaps, "Thank you, oh holy angel, for making my son very happy." 

 

"I do make him very happy," Cas agrees, visibly smug. He apparently decides that's enough because he then moves back over to stand beside Dean, just a little too close, just like always. 

 

"My turn?" Dean asks, clearing his throat. 

 

"Where do you want me to start?" John mutters. 

 

Dean stares at him for a long beat, then he snorts and shakes his head. "If we were gonna go through all of it, we'd be talking for eternity. I don't really have the time for it. Say your sorry and go about your day. I honestly don't give a shit anymore." 

 

"I can just leave," John suggests. 

 

"There's the door," Dean agrees. When John's nostrils flare, Dean sighs. "Look, Dad, you want something bad enough, you work at it. You taught me that. It'd be nice having you around, but it won't kill me if you're not. I've lived a lot of my life without you, and I can keep doing that. Or, I can share a beer with my dad every now and again. Up to you, because at this point, I'm good either way." 

 

John looks at him, almost studying him like he's someone he knows but needs to reevaluate. Dean can practically see the layout of himself in his dad's head shifting and changing, forming into something else entirely. It's an odd thing recognizing the respect that briefly flashes in John's eyes, but Dean sees it. He doesn't particularly care one way or another anymore, though. Dean doesn't need his father's respect. 

 

"Despite everything," John says, "you did turn out to be a good man, Dean. And, for what it's worth, I'm—I am sorry." 

 

Dean takes that in for a long moment. It's nice. It's kinda too little, too late, but it is nice. He's glad to hear it; he could have made do without, he has made do without, but it's a nice thing to have nonetheless. In his long life of unspoken, shifting needs that he never knew how to voice, it's such a strange thing to know he once needed his dad above all else, and now he doesn't need him at all. It's somehow both an ache in his chest and liberating. 

 

"Good to know," Dean says, finally. He throws his arm around Cas' shoulders and nods. "We should be getting home now. Take the beer, if you want it." 

 

The dismissal is clear. John wavers for a moment, opens and closes his mouth, then he nods and takes the beer when he goes. 

 

The drive back home is silent. 

 

Dean wonders if he's going to see his dad all the time now. At the bar, at least. John can't find Cas and Dean's house unless they're both okay with it, which Cas likely never will be. It's the same thing with the bar, except it's more neutral ground. Cas isn't going to care if John comes there—he may not like it, but he won't stop it, especially if Dean wants him there. So, basically, he'll only see his dad when he's in the mood to. Works a treat. 

 

Cas is, very predictably, up in arms about Dean making him get John a drink—though, no one really makes Cas do anything. It's just that Cas is weak for him, and Dean has worked this out, and maybe he sometimes exploits this knowledge a little. If Cas wasn't willing, at the very least, he would have just refused—rebellious, lovely thing that he is. 

 

Anyway, Dean's sort of glad Cas is in a mood. He was banking on it, honestly. After that encounter, Dean would very much like to be roughed up a little. He wants Cas to break him apart and leave him all fucked out, good and proper. Pissing Cas off just to have real, authentic rough sex that leaves him sore the next day is probably a little underhanded, but it's not like Cas isn't aware. He knows Dean does shit to rile him up. He lets Dean do it. He's no innocent party, no matter how big his blue eyes are or the amount of times he tilts his head adorably in a day. 

 

So, when Cas all but shoves him in the room and snarls, "Get the man a drink?! Really, Dean? You know how I feel about that man," all Dean does is start peeling his jacket off, biting back a grin. 

 

"But ya did it anyway," Dean says knowingly. 

 

"I considered smashing the bottle over his head. You're very lucky I did not," Cas snaps. 

 

Dean gives a theatrical shudder. "Ooh, Cas, your desire to maim my dad is just so hot. You can't keep talking like that, man. I might not last." 

 

"This isn't the time for your jokes, Dean." 

 

"All the time is the time for my jokes, pal. Now, are you gonna get outta that stupid trenchcoat some time today, or are you going to keep it on? Because I gotta draw the line at you keeping it on when we have sex. That's too much, even for me." 

 

"You're annoying," Cas tells him. 

 

"I know." Dean flashes him a grin as he tugs his pants off. "Fuck me about it." 

 

Cas' chapped lips part almost immediately, pupils dilating so fast that it's almost comical. He sucks in a sharp breath and starts peeling off the trenchcoat, thankfully. Dean was starting to worry that Cas would actually fuck him with it on just to prove a point. It's not the weirdest thing he's ever done, Dean's so gone on him that he'd probably let him. 

 

Cas is barely out of his shoes, socks, shirt, and pants before he's surging forward to shove a now-naked Dean down onto the bed. He maneuvers Dean around where he wants him—on his front. They haven't done it this way yet. Well, first time for everything. Dean's willing to try anything at this point, so long as it's with Cas. 

 

Due to Cas being pissed off, he's not as torturously slow about opening Dean up. In fact, he's a little quick and hard about it, rushing a little, the burn of it persistent and strangely new. They've never done it from this angle before, with Dean on his knees, his face buried into his pillows where he can pretend he has any dignity by muffling his groans. 

 

It's a pleasure-pain that puts Dean on pins and needles, hissing and arching and unable to think about much of anything at all. He loves it. That's the thing about sex in Heaven. There's pain because Dean subconsciously wants to feel every single sensation, even the parts that cause him discomfort. It makes it so much more real. Impactful. Good. 

 

He's a little dizzy by the time Cas gets on his knees behind him and pushes his way in. Dean is prepared, yes, but Cas isn't being particularly slow about it. He gives him just enough time to adjust, only barely, keeping him teetering on that knife's edge of oh, yes and ah, fuck. Dean garbles out a mixture of both with Cas' name thrown in, and Cas responds by grabbing his hips and fucking him into their mattress. 

 

It's good from the back, Dean decides. Deeper. Cas isn't hitting that spot within him as much, but he doesn't really have to for it to be good. The burn of it, the nearly punishing pace, it's all so fucking good that Dean feels wrung out and sore before they've barely even begun. There's something to this full feeling, this ache from the inside, this inevitability of Cas coming in and wrecking him from the inside out, like it's his goddamn job. 

 

Dean clenches their sheets in his hands and rides it out, the breath getting knocked loose from his lungs over and over, his eyelids fluttering, mouth slack as he gasps and gasps and gasps. He can't seem to catch his breath. Everything feels good. The way Cas is fucking him, the way Cas is gripping his hip with one hand hard enough to bruise, the way Cas slides his hand down the arch of Dean's back until he reaches his head and shoves it down harder. 

 

They get sweaty. Dean can feel it when Cas folds over his back, chest slick and sliding, hot and heavy. Dean feels like he's being melted down and absorbed, like Cas is cupping every inch of him and shrinking him down to a fine point that exists only for this feeling that makes him shake all over. Cas moves his hand from Dean's head to his hand on the bed, fingers tangling through the back of Dean's instead. 

 

Dean moans low in his throat and frantically fumbles for his own dick with his free hand, and he gets maybe one blissful stroke before Cas' hand leaves his hip and grabs his wrist, wrenching it away. 

 

"No," Cas says, orders, his tone sharp. 

 

"Oh, fuck," Dean chokes out, shuddering, his breath hitching as Cas draws his arm back up and slams it down to the bed. 

 

Cas nips sharply at the back of his shoulder, still fucking him hard and fast. This bastard can multitask. "Don't do that until I tell you." 

 

"Okay, okay, oh my god," Dean babbles, wheezing. 

 

He doesn't try again, though he really wants to. After all of that, he's very sure he could stroke himself once and lose it entirely. He's like one step away from a very intense orgasm he can feel coming along, but it remains out of reach. 

 

Cas keeps fucking him, and holding one hand while pinning the other wrist down, and biting the back of his shoulders. Dean keeps losing his mind. 

 

In the end, Cas doesn't have to tell him to. There's no point. Cas just fucks him so long and so consistently well that Dean's thread on reality snaps. He's been wound up this whole time, feeling every inch of the pleasure Cas is practically beating him with, and he does something he never has before. 

 

Cas does this thing with his hips, an arc on the way in, sort of brutal and overwhelmingly good. Dean's whole body locks up, going rigid, hips jerking against empty air as he proceeds to find release without anything even touching his dick. It's very bizarre. He's astonished by it, and everything has been pressing in tighter, tighter, tighter until he just collapses under the strain. 

 

"Hoooo my god," Dean whimpers, jaw unhinging as everything seems to clench all at once, even as he lets go. He's barely even breathing. 

 

Cas sucks in a sharp breath against the back of his neck, then just fucking bites down on it like that's not going to make Dean come even more. But, in his defense, his hips are stuttering and he's yanking back in seconds to make a mess on Dean's ass. As per usual, Cas pretty much immediately leans down to clean it up with his mouth, tongue and teeth moving all over as Dean tries to breathe. 

 

Apparently, Cas didn't manage to pull out all the way in time, because he takes his clean-up to a place Dean previously thought was only where fingers and Cas' dick would go. No, guess not, 'cause that's definitely Cas' tongue as well. 

 

Dean doesn't have the brain capacity to even try and remember that some people would be embarrassed by this—him, under normal circumstances, specifically. So, Cas gets his raw response, which is a resounding and undeniable yes, even without Dean being able to make use of the english language. He didn't know this would feel good, too, but it does. 

 

It really, really does. 

 

He fumbles back with one hand to claw at Cas' shoulder, trying to make sure he keeps doing that, trying to ask that he really gives it his best shot. He's twitching all over, and the feeling is unlike anything he's ever tried to describe, but he's so frazzled and fucked out that he's a little desperate for this to never end. 

 

Cas is the best, honestly, because he indulges. He always does that. He sort of just gives Dean whatever he wants, even when Dean himself doesn't really know that is. Like now. Right now, with Cas' tongue doing downright sinful things to him. 

 

He doesn't come again. He doesn't get hard. He can't. It just feels really good. He's almost crying by the time Cas slowly pulls away, and he'd be ashamed of that any other time, but he honestly doesn't have the energy to care right now. Cas gently pushes his hips to the side, letting him slump over, and Dean watches in a daze as Cas meticulously wipes the mess Dean made of the sheets and licks it from his fingers. Dean closes his eyes, because if he watches that for any longer, he will just die. 

 

At some point later, Dean's brain comes back online, and the first thing he does is crack open one eye to find Cas laying beside him, watching him with a genuinely content expression on his face. Dean reaches out and grabs Cas' soft dick, because it's a miracle. It's a goddamn miracle. 

 

"You look very relaxed," Cas comments, not even batting an eye at Dean touching him. 

 

"I am," Dean croaks. 

 

"Mm. Good," Cas says, pleased. 

 

Dean has just enough energy to drag his hand away from Cas' miracle dick and tap his heart three times. A pause. Three more times. Another pause, then three more times. I love you, I love you, I love you. 

 

"I really, really do," Dean whispers. 

 

Cas hums. "I love you, too." 

 


 

The next time John inevitably pisses Dean off again, Dean weaponizes his relationship with Cas. 

 

John has been around, as predicted, and it's not all bad. He comes by the bar to drink, sometimes with Mary, sometimes without. He always greets Cas very stiffly and otherwise ignores him, but he never says one negative word about him. He's clearly making an effort with Sam as well, who treats anything John does with narrowed-eyed suspicion, but that's his dad, too, and he's used to following Dean's lead, so he doesn't make any scenes. Hell, John even spends some time with Adam, and he only looks devastated for a split second when he realizes that his other son is also carrying a torch for an angel—one who Jack is actually considering letting into Heaven, despite all the reasons he probably shouldn't. 

 

Sometimes, Dean will carry on a very normal conversation with his dad. Maybe drink a beer with him. John doesn't demand to drive Baby anymore. He doesn't make idle threats about putting Dean in the dirt. He doesn't really do much of anything besides spend whatever time Sam and Dean will grant him just talking to them. He's still an asshole. He's still gruff, still a hardass, still John Winchester. 

 

Mary is delighted by it. 

 

Other times, Dean will just give his dad a wide berth. Even if it's nice to see his dad around, he doesn't necessarily always want to interact with him. He learns that they can be in the same room without ever speaking, and that's just as well. 

 

And still, Dean doesn't really care if his dad leaves and never comes back or not. He doesn't need his father. He's just okay with him being there every now and again. It's nice, in a weird way. Not always, because sometimes Dean looks at his dad and hates him fiercely, but the anger ebbs and flows. It's never going to go away. It's never going to be easy. 

 

It's not the Winchesters if it's not complicated. 

 

Anyway, his dad does piss him off again. He's been careful. Very careful. Dean can often see him biting back some of the things he wants to say, which is always an intriguing thing to watch. Still, he does fuck around one day and make a mildly derisive comment about Cas, and that's all she wrote. 

 

Dean leans against the bar, meeting John's eyes, holding his gaze. "I'm gonna marry him one day," he says, quiet and low just so John can hear. 

 

John looks stricken, and Dean's lips curl up as he pulls back, raising his eyebrows and knocking on the bar. He proceeds to march over to Cas and make a very big spectacle of kissing him, much to the surprise of literally everyone else. Dean doesn't do this kind of shit in front of people. 

 

But it becomes a new thing. Whenever he's angry with his dad, Dean finds Cas and tugs him into a kiss. Or, he holds his hand. Or, he wraps around him and looks at his dad with a smirk. Or, when he's especially pissed off, he does all of that. 

 

Cas is always happy to oblige, simply rolling with it, not caring if Dean wants to show him off or keep things private. Those things don't bother him. He does, however, eventually work out why the hell Dean has started doing it, and what triggers it. When he does, he starts abusing it, too. If John is around, Cas makes a point to stop by and kiss Dean's cheek, or his mouth, or his fingers. 

 

Wisely, John doesn't make the mistake of showing his displeasure, nor does he make any more derisive comments, so it's a win-win. 

 

Dean wonders if he could give his father a stroke by being so openly in love with a man, as well as affectionate with him publicly, especially a man that he just doesn't like. He's not sure, but he's not scared to find out. 

 

On one such day, Dean is in the middle of sliding his hands up and down Cas' arms—he's not wearing his trenchcoat today—while John stares down at the bar like he's contemplating bashing his head into it. Mary seems utterly oblivious, or just doesn't care, and she's locked in a very serious conversation with Jack about why Wonder Woman is a perfectly good superhero to have as a favorite. 

 

It turns out to be a goddamn family reunion, because without any warning whatsoever, Sam comes bursting into the bar with Eileen hot on his heels, and behind her is—

 

Dean blinks. 

 

He's only ever seen his nephew in photos. In person, he really does resemble Sam and Eileen, though he favors Eileen a little more. He's got Sam's height, though, Jesus Christ. But his eyes. Those are Dean's eyes. And Mary's. And so, yet another Dean Winchester is dead, wildly enough. 

 

"Dean!" Sam calls out, openly giddy. "It's Dean! He showed up at the house a few hours ago!" 

 

"Yeah, I got eyes, Sammy," Dean says, hooking his chin on Cas' shoulder and squinting at his nephew curiously. The nephew blinks at him. "So, I take it your deal got you in the end, huh?" 

 

"Uh," the nephew says, "yes?" 

 

"Tough break, kid." Dean appraises him for a moment longer, then pulls back from Cas to grab a beer and hold it over the bar, watching Mary lean to the side to give room. 

 

"Dad never really shut up about you," the nephew blurts out as he shuffles forward to take the beer. He stares at it, then clears his throat. 

 

"Sam never shuts up, period," Dean corrects, grinning when the nephew's lips curl up. "Don't worry, he hasn't shut about you, either. S'nice to meet ya in person, though." 

 

"Yeah, same." The nephew awkwardly holds the beer back out. "Uh, sorry, I don't drink." 

 

Dean raises his eyebrows and takes it back. "You wanna juice box? We always have some for Jack." 

 

It's very weird to watch one of Sam's bitchfaces cross the nephew's face, but he's got it down to a tee. He holds up a hand and says, "Nah, I'm good, but...thanks, I guess." 

 

"This is kinda weird, huh?" Dean asks, opening the beer and taking a pull from it. 

 

"Yeah, kinda," the nephew admits. He shifts his gaze to Cas, then goes very pale. "Ah, shit." He whips around and stares at Sam. "Cas—he can find me here, can't he? Dad, we gotta go." 

 

"Cas isn't dead yet, Dean," Sam says. 

 

The nephew reaches up and runs his hands through his long hair—another Sam gesture. "We were on the same hunt, Dad. There's no way he's surviving that. Sam is gonna be so pissed. Gertie is gonna resurrect me just to kill me again." 

 

"How is this in any way your fault?" Sam asks, arching an eyebrow at him. 

 

"It just—it is," the nephew insists. "I should have never agreed to—I knew the deal was going to run up eventually. And I told Cas—" He huffs and turns to Eileen. "Mom, how do I get back home?" 

 

"Cas is probably with Garth and Bess at the moment, Dean," Eileen says. "You don't need to worry about that just yet. Claire and Kaia are here, you know. Jody, Donna, Alex. They usually stop by here at some point, so you may as well just—" 

 

The door once again slams open, but this time it's so hard that the bell almost seems to screech. Dean straightens up in offense because that's his goddamn door, but he doesn't get a word in edgewise before a man comes stomping in. He's got blond hair like Bess' and blue eyes like Garth's, but that's about where the similarities to them stop. 

 

He looks like Brad, kinda—Bess' cousin, which is a faint memory in Dean's mind now—at least body type wise. He has tattoos. He's wearing flannel. His boots are black and scuffed, his jeans are ripped, and he looks fucking furious. 

 

Dean—the young one—goes skittering back almost immediately, and Garth comes into the bar with Bess right beside them. They both look suitably concerned. Dean's pretty damn sure that a bar fight is about to break out for the very first time, and he cannot believe it's his nephew who's starting shit in the Mothership. Dean does not give a fuck what kinda family loyalty he's supposed to have; no one is going to cause a fuss in his bar. 

 

"Hiya, Cas, long time no see," the nephew blurts out, inching back another step. 

 

"Are you fucking kidding me, Dean?" Castiel bursts out, jabbing a finger towards him. "You made a deal? A deal? And then, what? You think it's funny to make some kind of—I don't know, speech?" 

 

The nephew is silent for a beat, then he sighs and takes a step forward. "I don't think it's funny, no. You know why I made that deal. I told you." 

 

"Ah, yes," Castiel says sarcastically. "Hey, Cas, listen bro, I'm just gonna trade my life in for yours. No biggie. Oh, also I've been in love with you for years. Sorry, gotta check outta life now. Really? Really?" 

 

"He's got a point," Dean mutters, throwing Cas a pointed look. 

 

Cas squints at him. "Should we intervene?" 

 

"I will if it looks bad," Dean decides.  

 

"Hey, Casper," Garth says soothingly, moving forward to touch his son's shoulder. "I know this is frustrating, son, but remember the breathing exercises we taught you? In through the—" 

 

"Dad, I swear to god, not now," Castiel snaps, glaring right at the nephew. "Don't you have anything to say? Anything at all?" 

 

"I'm sorry you're dead," the nephew offers quietly. "I made the deal to save your life, but we ended up dying together anyway. I just couldn't—Gertie and Sam would have been devastated, Cas. What was I supposed to do?" 

 

"The deal is null and void. That's not what I'm talking about, and you know it. We have spent the last—oh, I don't know—seven years together, and you didn't think to bring up the fact that you love me? Not once? Not even a fucking hint?" 

 

"Yes, because that would have gone over well." 

 

"No one gives a shit about your uncle's curse, Dean!" Castiel bursts out, throwing his hands up. "It's not real. How are you so fucking stupid?!" 

 

"Casper, sweetie," Bess cuts in, "maybe dial it back on the insults, okay? I just think—oh, I really think you're letting your anger get the best of you."

 

"He is stupid!" Castiel snaps. 

 

"Hey, cut him some slack," Dean calls out, leaning forward to wave his hand, drawing everyone's gazes at once. "He's a Dean Winchester; it's in the name, really. Also, if you two are gonna fight, you're gonna have to take it outside. No one's fighting in our bar. Cas set the rule, and I will enforce it." 

 

The nephew's head snaps around. "What did you just say? This bar—you and Uncle Cas own it?" 

 

"Yes," Cas answers for them. 

 

"Like, together?" the nephew persists. 

 

Cas arches an eyebrow. "Yes." 

 

"Kid, there's no curse," Dean says with a snort, reaching out to poke Cas' cheek. "First day I showed up in Heaven, I moved right in with him and never left. Looks like your only obstacle was you." 

 

"And him," the nephew mutters, turning to frown at Castiel. "What was I supposed to do, Cas? I wanted to tell you. I always wanted to tell you, but I knew—I know it would just cause more problems." 

 

"So you waited until you were dying?" 

 

"You know what they say about deathbed confessions." 

 

Castiel closes his eyes, seeming to actually practice those breathing exercises Garth was talking about, then he opens his eyes and points harshly towards the door. "Go. Outside, right now." 

 

"Hey, now," Sam starts. 

 

"I'll apologize later, Mr. Winchester," Castiel says, leveling the nephew with a stern look. "Go." 

 

The nephew hesitates. "Why?" 

 

"Jesus Christ, Dean," Castiel hisses, "go the fuck outside so I can fuck you in your very nice car like I've been daydreaming about for the last seven years!"

 

There's a beat of silence, then the nephew silently heads outside without looking back. Castiel curses sharply and pivots on the spot, slamming his way right back out the door. The bell jingles when it shuts again, and Dean raises his eyebrows at Sam, who's palming the back of his neck awkwardly. 

 

"Well," Garth says, "isn't that just lovely?" 

 

"Son of a bitch," John mutters, then puts his head in his hands and stares listlessly down at his drink. Dean can practically hear what he's thinking: it's happening again, what the fuck, why me, no, no, no. 

 

Dean grins. 

 

"So, that was all very dramatic," Eileen declares, crossing her arms and smiling slightly. "But it's Dean and Cas, so what can you expect?" 

 

"That goes for you two as well," Sam adds, throwing Dean and Cas—the original ones—an amused look. 

 

"There may very well be a curse," Cas says, apropos of absolutely nothing. When Dean stares at him, he shrugs. "I just think it's very odd that they had romantic feelings for each other, one of them confessed right before dying, and only when in Heaven were they able to get together." 

 

"Yo, Beanstalk," Dean mutters—he'd picked up the nickname off Claire, and Jack genuinely likes it. "I know you're all about not intervening, but do all various Cas and Deans out there a solid and make sure they're not cursed to have tragic love stories."

 

"Okay," Jack chirps cheerfully. 

 

"You don't think they're really—" Bess makes a lewd gesture with her hands, frowning. 

 

Garth rubs her shoulder. "Honey, it's Casper. Of course he is." 

 

"What's with Casper?" Dean asks. 

 

"Oh, that's a funny little nickname he picked up when he was a kid. He was scared of ghosts, so we watched Casper a lot. He started quoting the movie so much that we started calling him Casper, and it just stuck," Garth says. 

 

"Oh." Dean makes a thoughtful face and shrugs, taking another pull from the beer. He nearly spits it out a second later when a thought strikes him. As it is, he starts hacking and banging on his chest, flapping his hand towards Sam, who raises his eyebrows at him. "Sam—your kid, his very nice car. Did you give Baby to your son?" 

 

Sam blinks at him. "Yeah, of course I did." 

 

"Oh no, no, no," Dean chants, whipping around the counter and heading for the door. "I swear if they're fucking in my car!" 

 

When he makes it outside, they are not fucking in Dean's car, because dreams do come true. It looks like they haven't quite made it that far. He barely spares them a glance, ignoring them kissing very tenderly because he couldn't give less of a shit. He moves over to stroke Baby with reverent hands, murmuring sweet-nothings to her. 

 

"Dean," comes the gruff voice of a younger Castiel. 

 

"Yeah?" the nephew murmurs. 

 

"You uncle is really fucking weird, dude." 

 

"Tell me about it." 

 


 

Eternity is a very long time. Never-ending. It should be terrifying to face it, but with the freedom that he has, Dean finds that he's not scared at all. 

 

It's a good afterlife. Dean has his car, his brother, his family and friends. The bar. Cas. He has a long time and a lot of freedom to mend his relationships with his parents, or not—whatever he decides. He has a nephew to get to know, the irony of seeing yet another Dean and Cas be weirdly intense about each other kicking him in the teeth every day. He has the chance to watch his Cas interact with Claire and Jack, a burst of warmth that grows from it more and more. He has a house that feels like home and a familiar lake that lights up at night. 

 

He has this, right now. 

 

In the safety of his own home, where no one is watching, Dean puts on a record that plays a song he doesn't actually hate, and he wrangles Cas into the middle of the room to sway to it. He's perhaps feeling a little sentimental today, or it could because of the crackling fireplace that sets the mood, or maybe it's just that Dean is learning to embrace the freefall of freedom and let himself have the things he actually wants. 

 

He wants to dance with Cas like a couple of fools, and so he does. Cas doesn't seem to mind, letting Dean hum against his ear without complaint, lazily swaying back and forth to the song. You might have heard I run with a dangerous crowd. We ain't too pretty, we ain't too proud. We might be laughing a bit too loud. Aw but that never hurt no one. 

 

"I didn't die young," Dean tells Cas. 

 

"Yes, you did," Cas replies. "You should have had more time than you got, Dean." 

 

"Could say the same about you," Dean murmurs, dragging his nose along Cas' cheek. 

 

"I've lived many millennia." Cas pauses as they turn in a slow circle, then he hums. "Though, I will admit that I did not feel truly alive before I met you. I did not understand the beauty of life until I encountered yours. Truthfully, I didn't understand the beauty of anything until I met you." 

 

Dean closes his eyes. "When you laid a hand on me in Hell, you really were lost, huh?" 

 

"I touched you, and I knew everything about you, and it still wasn't enough. I wanted to claim you, though I had no right or no order to, and I did it anyway." Cas huffs a small laugh. "I wasn't lost. I was saved. I was sent into Hell to save you, and somehow you managed to save me." 

 

"Okay, Casanova," Dean mumbles, brushing his lips against Cas' cheek, "no need to be a fucking sap. I get it. I really do. This song isn't subtle at all." 

 

"I truly do like it," Cas says. 

 

"I know." Dean lets his forehead land against Cas' with a gentle tap. "I thought, you know, we could get some dancing practice in, 'cause I gotta a feeling you're gonna want this to play at our wedding." 

 

Cas hums, a pleased sound. "No one knows me as well as you do, Dean." 

 

They haven't actually ever spoken about marriage like this, not really. Dean had kinda figured that it was a foregone conclusion, honestly, but at the same time, he's started to think about it in anything other than the abstract. He's never given a lot of thought to being married, but this is eternity. He has a long time to work up to finding out his desires and how to let himself have them. No rush. 

 

Dean does like that Cas is just—sold on it. He just already knows and agrees that they're gonna be married one day. It's a strange comfort. No muss, no fuss. A simple understanding that they're it for each other, here and everywhere and forevermore. 

 

"I'm really glad you can swim, Cas," Dean whispers. 

 

"You're not the torrential waters that you think you are, Dean," Cas replies gently. "You've feared tsunamis, and all I feel is peaceful ripples." 

 

"You're biased." 

 

"Perhaps." 

 

"I wish I knew how to open my stupid mouth and say something worthy of how I feel about you, Cas," Dean murmurs. "I just don't know how to speak sometimes. I don't know how to tell you."

 

"You tell me every day," Cas says, easing his hand down Dean's chest, tapping his heart three times. 

 

Dean quirks a small smile and closes his eyes, breathing Cas in, thinking he can say this after all, especially after all the times Cas has said it to him. And so, he does. "I love you, too." 

 

As they dance in slow circles, a mere drop in the ocean of eternity, the song plays on and on. Oh sooner or later it comes down to faith. Oh I might as well be the one. You know that only the good die young. 

 

Yeah, getting used to Heaven is something of a marvel, but Dean thinks he's doing just fine.