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."
"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."
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.
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."
"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."
"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."
"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—
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.
"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."
"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.