SUMMARY: This is very, very AU, for starters. Fifth season is when the whole thing splits off, but there are discrepensies even before that- my partner Loxiemightpossibly and I like to call it the “nothing to left to lose” universe. Sam stays in Hell (at least for now), but Dean can’t force himself to go back to the life he promised Sam he’d have. Castiel is fallen (you’ll read it D: sad feels ahead), and Jimmy Novak was a devoutly christian single homosexual, so there are no broken families to leave behind. ENJOY THE ANGELSEX.
PAIRING: Dean/Castiel, Destiel. I play Castiel, LoxieMightPossibly plays Dean.
WARNINGS: Blood, violence, angst, fluff, gay stuff, more gay stuff, various forms of GAY SEX. P…possibly OOC? I’m not sure. This is our first time playing them. Sorry! T_T
Heaven had been hard, and Hell had been harder…but waking up on earth had been more horrible than anything he could remember, because all he could feel from the moment he began to feel aware was a terrible, tearing pain. The agony was sudden and swift- there was no build-up, no waiting to become more cognizant of it before it intensified…it was amazingly instant and instantly all-encompassing, and when his lungs remembered that they needed to draw in air it came in a ragged, panicky gasp. The sky was cloudy and dark and one of his eyes didn’t seem to want to be opening- the other was greyed and filmy and…strange, and his mind couldn’t focus through the shock to realize how badly injured he must have been.
A part of him wasn’t used to even comprehending injury; it was new and his near-virginal nerves felt like they were on fire with pain…human pain. It was stunning, how much more these beings felt…how much more frightening and agonizing it was. As soon as he got breathing and thinking down again he tried his hardest to figure out where he was and why, even if why seemed so…clouded over. He tried to shift and something sparked up his spine- a cry not quite human or animal fell from lips he hadn’t known were parted.
The earth was moist and soft- his fingers curled, uncurled, and came away tinged red. He reached out and tried to drag himself, after it felt like hours passed and he’d managed to turn over; when the rain fell it fell cold, and he was surprised when he shivered-when it stung. When his fingers hit rock, he blinked his single eye, and he barely made out the shape of the grave-stone……comprehension passed, even if it was mercurial and fickle in his shock-addled mind.
The old cemetery…how fitting for the fallen, because that was all he knew he was, then. Fallen…he closed his eyes and felt darkness rush over him…he would have tried to shield himself with his wings, if he’d been able to.
If he’d had them. The bloody stumps of bleach-white bone and torn clumps of feathers jutting from torn cloth and ruined coat-fabric made one thing and one thing only obvious. The scattered feathers and streak of red from where he’d managed to drag himself made it moreso.
Castiel had no standing left in heaven, and his time on earth was limited. If he had any hope at all, it would find him collapsed in a place of human entropy, breathing in the rain as his fingertips touched the edges of mortality.
He’d been halfway to Kansas City before he’d had to pull over and just breathe, his hands gripped tight to the Impala’s steering wheel. Guitar riffs were still loud in his ears, making it easy not to think, but there was no escaping how wrong everything was. Everything about today was wrong - it tasted sour on his tongue and it made his ears ring, and despite the fact that he’d known how today would end, it hadn’t made the reality any harder to accept. He’d never been okay with this. Any time he’d said he had been, he’d been lying through his teeth, and everyone around him had known it. They’d been willing to ignore that and he’d been stupid enough to let them, and despite the fact that it hadn’t been his plan, the voice in the back of his head that had always sounded like his dad kept repeating the same damn thing; Sam had been his to protect. Good fucking job, Dean.
Bobby had gone back to South Dakota, but not before offering a room at his place; Dean had been tempted. He’d wanted nothing more than to drink himself into an early grave with Bobby and work on cars ‘til his arms were nothing but grease up to the elbows. There was just something about healing in a salvage yard; poetic, or romantic, or just god-damned ironic, but a home was a home, and Bobby’s was second only to the Impala.
Castiel had gone, too, and Dean tried not to worry about that. Heaven was in pieces with Michael trapped in the pit according to Cas, and every angel from arch to cherub had to know that Cas was complicit in that, and they had to be pissed (if there was one thing Dean had learned about angels, it was that god had given women PMS in tribute to them). He tried to reassure himself - Cas was back to life with his grace fully restored, after all - but he’d never been very good at soothing away his own doubts.
Lisa Braeden deserved better than him, and the closer he got to her and Michigan, the further he got from Dean Winchester. Sitting on the side of the road, though, he’d realized he hurt - that the further away he got from Stull Cemetery, the more something in his very core clenched with pain, and he was a little too old to ignore hints like that.
Which was how he found himself soaked to the bone, staring in horror at the mass of blood, trenchcoat and feathers that he knew was Castiel, without even having to see the angel’s face; he dropped the dagger he hadn’t expected he would need anyway, and he didn’t even register that he’d rushed to the man’s side until he was kneeling next to him, hands already bloodied despite the fact that he was only pulling him into his arms - jesus, were those bones? Was that where his wings were…? Where were they now?
“Cas…Cas! You in there? C’mon, man, don’t do this to me.” Fuck - dammit. Cas needed help, because his angel mojo didn’t seem to be doing much to help him, but his cellphone was back in the Impala and he wasn’t about to leave Cas alone like this. Shit - what was he supposed to do? Patching up injuries the Winchester way didn’t include a course on what to do if you came across an angel whose wings looked as if they’d had a bad meeting with a pair of pliers and - shit and shit again. There wasn’t much that could get to Dean after Hell, but this…this made his throat clench up and his stomach roil, but he ignored it all to pull Cas closer, standing carefully.
“…sorry about this buddy, but we gotta get you to the Impala. I’m not gonna lose you, too.”
Castiel would have never felt happier to hear the roaring din of a familiar engine, if he’d been at all conscious to hear it- at first it sounded like the rumble of thunder and heavenly hooves, and his mind scrambled frantically to regain itself, fearful that they would come down here for yet more of his dignity and life. But it wasn’t quite right, the sound, and there was only one pair of footsteps thumping against the muddy, wet ground, and he forced his unswollen eye open, trying vainly to focus on shoes that were so familiar to him…because everything about Dean was familiar.
And it hurt just to be moved, and he wondered idly how many times Dean and Sam had felt this way- how much bravery it took to work through such agony, when all humans knew how their fragile lives hung ever in the balance while they were bleeding out all over themselves…and Castiel felt a black, heavy weight in the pit of his ribs that suddenly wailed and railed against his better judgment…because what if he could die, now? A shudder raced down his back and a wave of dizzying nausea was cut off by a rock-rough groan, and his hands shot out for what they knew, gripping into clothing, forcing themselves into something solid.
The poor fallen couldn’t quite hold his head up, and when it fell everything jarred and pitched on its axis- the foot-long, feathery stumps jutting out of his back shuddered, and his breath came in short gasps; a fish out of water, unsure and panicked. It hurt, and there was too much blood…and he was startlingly, hideously cold in Dean’s arms, where overwhelming warmth had dwelled inside of him before.
“…D…dean……?” he finally managed, in a voice both wonderfully familiar and terribly wet and thick-sounding…and he finally seemed to know where he was, and that he was, at least, not alone. The angel clenched his teeth, closed his eyes…and he shivered in the rain, giving at least a sign of fight still left.
They were both completely soaked at this point, but Dean barely even registered that. How could he, when the angel on his shoulder was bleeding out in a cemetery, in a scene that shouldn’t even be possible. Something was wrong - something bigger than he could fix with whiskey and gauze, because if things were right, then Cas wouldn’t be bleeding at all, anymore. He couldn’t move past that - what the hell had happened?
Freaking out wasn’t going to solve this, though. No, he needed to calm the hell down and treat this like he would if anyone else he’d known had gotten so badly injured on a job (except he still didn’t know any normal humans with wings). He tried to keep his movements gentle and careful, but there was an undercurrent of worry and urgency that made the motions jerky rather than smooth, but there wasn’t really enough time to worry about luxury.
If Castiel was capable of bleeding out, it meant he was probably capable of infection and fever, because of course dramatic irony insisted that this bullshit happen while it was literally pouring buckets. Castiel grabbing at him was, surprisingly, not a new sensation, except that he was actually relieved by it for once. It meant the angel was still conscious, still cognitive, and not anywhere near dead yet. The spectacle he made hauling Cas back to the Impala was probably pathetic - a shambling mass of limbs, because he had to put his arms in awkward places if he wanted to avoid hurting what was left of what Dean could only assume had been the wings he’d never actually seen (a deeply buried, slightly hysterical part of him was pretty fucking upset about that, too).
“Yeah, hey, it’s me Cas.” He was quick to respond to the sound of his name coming from those lips, even as weak as it sounded, and he jerked the Impala door open so he could slide his cargo inside, trying to arrange the angelic being so that he wasn’t lying on his torn up back - the interior light showed off what he hadn’t been able to make out in the heavy evening rain, and it wasn’t fucking pretty - Cas wouldn’t be winning any beauty pageants any time soon. Fucking hell, what had those feathery assholes done to him? “Yeah, I bet you’re cold - give me a second and I’ll get the Impala’s heaters on. Keep talking, buddy. You comfortable? Just…just hold on - shit, Cas, how do I bandage your, uh…your wings?”
No one was aware of their shambling waltz save drifting spirits and, perhaps, spitefully watching angels…but there were few presences, even animal, as if the beasts of man someow understood that a terrible crime had occurred- one worth granting silence and solitude to the victim…a sort of last rights of respect, save that Dean had other ideas. The broken angel only let go when he was being set down, and for a few moments even then his fingers clenched along with his heart, which filled with a strange sense of panic. Being left behind, let go of, left alone…he didn’t feel that he’d survive it, and that fear was so alien and unknown to him that it left him feeling horribly off-balance.
The car seat and the rumbling sound of the heater were familiar enough to calm that fear, and Castiel stared blearily into the plush interior as Dean spoke, listening to him through a thick fog of shock. Keep talking….He pressed his cheek into the well-worn faux-leather and tried to gather his thoughts- even when Dean mentioned his wings, and his chest tightened up like a vice. Gone…
“…I…n-not sure. Angels do not often…live through…losing them…”- but he HAD, and that warranted any quick thought he could muster. How to stop the bleeding…Castiel closed his eyes and his jaw tightened, because he knew it would be painful the moment he thought about it.
“…Cauterize the…area…around the bone. They’re…gone, Dean. There is n-no saving them.”
If any angels had the brass balls to show up when Dean Winchester was pissed at them, then…well, Dean Winchester would show them why that was a stupid idea in the same way he’d shown Zachariah. He was pissed, and worried, and sick and fucking tired of the people in his tiny, makeshift family dying and he was getting really fucking tired of the things that kept killing them. But anger was easy to concentrate on - it kept his mind clearer and more focused than panic and worry did, at the very least, and he quietly seethed as he dragged all of the things he needed out of various compartments of the Impala. Cotton, water, Everclear, and a lighter - bandages for afterward, and an old belt that had been used for similar activities in the past, as seen from the tooth-marks worn into the rough leather.
Cas had never had to go through something like this. Dean knew first hand what a bitch cauterization was, and Cas probably knew logically that it would hurt, but it wasn’t the sort of pain he was used to - Dean wasn’t even sure Cas was used to any pain, and definitely not the mortal sort. But like hell was Dean just going to sit back and let Castiel ‘not survive losing them’. If Cas thought he was getting away from Dean that easy, he had another thing coming, God dammit.
“…Alright - this is gonna be a bitch, but the pain lets you know you’re alive. Here - I’ve got a belt for you to bite, and Winchester Tradition says you get a congratulatory swallow of the Everclear afterwards.” Gently, he pressed the belt between the dazed angel’s teeth, giving him a worried, wry smile before he turned back to the job. He used the water bottle to wash away the excess blood, and a random shirt to pat the skin dry - and then he started to dap the Everclear on, trying to be gentle though he knew there was no softening the burn. If Castiel was feeling as much like a human as he was bleeding like one, Dean had to admit that it really sucked that this would be his first experience.
“…You’re going to want to bite down really hard now,” He commented, when he was done, his thumb flicking the lighter on. “You can even claw at the seats, I’ve been needing an excuse to reupholster Baby.” There was no point in dragging it out, though, and Dean lowered the flame to the alcohol-slick skin, and clamped down on the man’s arm so he wouldn’t flail around and set the seats on fire.
Castiel hadn’t exactly expected that having something cauterized would be ‘a walk in the park’, as humans oft expressed things, but…somehow, having Dean tell him almost made it better. Knowing that a mortal as strong as the man he watched over would still find it painful enough to warrant a warning…it let him know that his pain wasn’t weak, and that helped ease the shame he felt for barely being responsive when he hurt this badly.
Whatever he’d been expecting the pain to feel like, though…it paled in comparison to the distressing burning he felt from the alcohol, when he could never remember anything burning so badly during his ‘angelic’ life. He did his best to clench his jaw and ignore the sharp, sweaty taste of leather between his teeth…and the whimpers he knew he could hear above the blood pounding in his ears. He wasn’t sure he’d ever heard his heart beat so quickly, and he knew he hadn’t made those terrible, embarrassing sounds- like some small, wounded animal.
He did his best to try to fight past those sorts of thoughts, though….he needed to. There were other things to think about; the in and out of his breath, the rumble of the car beneath him……Dean’s hands. They were surprisingly gentle, despite the pain they had to put him through, and…he wasn’t sure why he hadn’t expected that. He supposed hazily that it was simply a touch Dean had never had to use on him, before; it was reserved for people like his brother, giggling women in years past…the child he was fond of…and he realized why. These must have been the hands he used when he was protecting someone…taking care of them. That thought carried him through until he felt that hand on his arm, clenching in a touch that he remembered- a warning.
And Castiel was beyond words and gestures that had the meaning he wanted, but a single blue eye managed to roll open and look back, giving Dean all the permission he needed to continue. It did nothing sort of rolling nearly fully back in his skull when there was fire, though…and he had expected it, known it, but nothing prepared him for the agony he felt.
The angel was certain that the belt fell and that his Shriek cracked at least one window in Dean’s car- an inhuman sound of celestial anguish that had the birds fleeing from the trees and stalled baby’s engine to a temporary halt*…but his world was blackness after that shout, and his body stopped writhing and fighting against the feelings it was so unused to, exhausted from its new humanity. He wondered if he’d wake, but a part of him knew that dean would be there, and that followed him into the darkness.
*- ((omg Dean I am so sorry that I beat up your boyfriend and temporarily killed baby. She’ll start again, and fixing the rear windows is something you can do while Cassy is recovering in a nice Hotel somewhere. D: *hugs* It’s okay, you get a soul mate outta this shit. BE STRONG I’M PROUD OF YOU…!!!!))
Each whimper and flinch did absolutely nothing for Dean’s guilt complex, but he soldiered through it because it had to be done, and because his guilt was miniscule pain compared to what Cas had to be feeling, right now. Dean still bit his own hand bloody whenever a hunt went wrong and this was the end-result; he couldn’t remember how agonizing it had felt, the first time, and he could only imagine what it had to feel like when everything was still new.
He was going to owe Cas so many burgers after this. He would never be able to apologize enough for setting him on fire, but he refused to look away as it lit, though he did wince and duck his head at that ear-splitting shriek. How did he always forget that their voices were so high? His head ached and his ears throbbed even after it faded away, and he had to take a moment to try and shake the lingering ringing from his ears (to no avail, mostly).
He dared open his eyes after a moment of silence, only to see that the flame had burnt itself out and left the wound cauterized, and he spared a single mourning glance at the windows of the Impala before he started tending to everything else. There was salve for the burns, and another salve for the cuts that Bobby swore by, and then the bandages - he wanted to get them all taken care of and seen to before they had the opportunity to test if Cas were still immune to infection. That Cas had passed out was probably the best thing that could have happened, honestly, and Dean took advantage of that while he could. He bundled the angel up as best as he could once everything was wrapped, cooed the Impala back into working order, and then he set out to find the nearest out-of-town motel.
By the time Castiel would stir from his slumber, he would no longer be alone in the rain or stuffed into a cramped back seat. Instead, Dean had found a motel with decorations from the sixties that was still moderately cleanly, and he’d laid the angel out on the bed, stomach down. He’d even remembered to bring the Everclear inside, for that eventual ‘reward swallow’ - it was near midnight, but he couldn’t sleep. His mind was too caught up on everything, going in circles about what could have happened to Castiel, and he barely even realized that he was sitting against the headboard, blankly watching muted infomercials.
Despite the fact that his mind couldn’t stop going, it felt like every thought he had was too simple or inane - he needed to call Bobby. He needed to go to Michigan. He needed Cas to be okay. He needed to figure out what to do now. He needed to know why he didn’t want to be more than a few feet away from Cas when he woke up. He needed to know what the hell was even going on. When he’d joked about Cas going off to be the Sheriff of Heaven, he hadn’t exactly been imagining a high-noon duel, but apparently all the other angels had been.
He needed a drink as much as Cas was going to want one, actually.
Castiel’s body, mind, and soul were far too worn away and traumatized to wake for the rest of Dean’s handiwork- and there wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to warrant concern. Bruised ribs and scrapes, cuts and nail-marks…but once they’d had him down, his wings were all they had wanted…and there was nothing more horrible that they could have taken from Castiel than that. What was left of the feathery appendages trembled and flinched out of Dean’s hands at first, but…they almost seemed to grow used to the feel of rough fingertips, when there were no more injuries left to manage, and the Angel slept for one of the first times out of true exhaustion, curled up in the backseat of a familiar vehicle, with the only true friend he had.
He allowed himself to be carried in a boneless heap into the hotel, and he curled into the warmth of the brunette demon-hunter until he was ‘tucked in’…but even then, he’d inches closer in the darkness. His battered body sought the warmth of the touch it remembered- not the pain, but the gentility…the intimacy his heart was so unused to. his fingers finally caught against the edge of dirty, damp pantslegs…and finally, he felt at ease. He felt safe…his mind calmed, and his eyes opened only a few hours later, even if he made no sound, at first.
The fallen angel tried his hardest to remember what had happened, and it came back in a jarring rush that had his bandaged wings jerking and his fingers clenching; his breath shook and his gaze shot around, familiarizing itself with a world that hadn’t simply been a terrible dream. Angels didn’t tend to dream, though…and his dreams wouldn’t have been a quiet apartment off the side of a highway…even if having the edge of a warm, denim-clad thigh near his fingers was nice enough to calm him.
He was quickly learning just what the simple touches meant to him…and that grounding point, that connection, gave him enough courage and strength to whisper, because his voice sounded so loud without the voices of heaven and god around him, inside of him. There was just them, just this, and it almost felt selfish to speak and think…but he wanted to try. If he was to be here, he needed to learn.
“…My throat hurts…” He attempted softly, and his rough voice was more gravel than silk, just then; he raised his hand to cover his mouth, and his coughs had him wincing and panting after, but he kept trying, because the silence was just too much.
“…I…don’t remember coming here…Did I lose consciousness…?”
Dean didn’t need to hear Castiel speak to realize he was awake again; between the feeling of those fingers against his thigh curling into his jeans and some preternatural sense that told him someone was looking at him, Dean was already tossing the remote onto the nightstand and turning his gaze down towards the angel. He’d been trying to block out all the injuries and what they said about how Cas had gotten them, but all the mental images he’d banished after conjuring came rushing back as he once again took in how beaten the man looked. He’d never see Cas looked so injured and something about it just struck all the wrong places in him and made him angry at whoever had dared do such a thing to one of his, and far too worried about Cas, in general.
He barely even thought about it before he was carding his fingers carefully through Cas’ hair, a gesture he’d picked up from the memory of his mother when he’d been raising Sam, and a gesture that he hadn’t bothered to lose, despite the fact that no one in his life needed the comfort anymore.
”…Yeah? Guess this really is like nursing a human back to health, then. You’re gonna wanna drink lots of water while your body’s recovering. I’m pretty sure you used your real voice earlier, too, and that couldn’t have helped… here.” He snagged a water bottle off the nightstand, having put it there just in case - it was some sort of new-fangled packaging that had a straw, and Dean had grabbed it from the lobby the instant he’d seen it, because he knew that would come in handy.
“You were out for a few hours. I finished patching you up and got us someplace we could rest without having to worry about the rest of the so-called heavenly host smiting us with their wrath…what happened, Cas? I know you said Upstairs was a mess, but this…you looked like you’d come off of Alastair’s rack, not like you’d spent barely a day behind the pearly gates.”
Dean may have thought it a skill no longer needed…but that touch seemed to do something for the battered angel, because it was a sensation that distinctly lacked pain. His body had flinched instinctively, at first, but after that initial jerk…the fingertips slipping through short, sweat-damp hair felt…good. Castiel fought against it, but he felt his eyes close…his breath left in a soft sigh, shaken at the edges, but he felt relieved. Finally…something good, his mind complained, and he was almost apt to agree with it, no matter how irrational his thoughts were being. Maybe it was a part of having all these strong feelings- it lent a level of irrationality that he wasn’t used to…but…some baser thing inside of him simply told him to enjoy it, for now.
He leaned his head into those fingers in a gesture he hoped was stealthy (when it wasn’t at all, in any way), and tried to focus past the sore, throbbing pain he still felt everywhere. Was this what being injured felt like…? No wonder humans were so irritated when they were hurt.
His shaky hand reached for the bottle and he forced his eyes open again, fighting with it grumpily until he figured out how it worked- and he decided, as he had many times before, that human innovation wasn’t honestly all that amazing, sometimes. It was their way of imagining harder ways to do simple things, and he didn’t enjoy it at all. The water was almost too cold going down, and it hurt his raw throat, but he fought it and pulled away only to realize that more than half of it was down….
…and that question made him wish he hadn’t taken so much, because he immediately felt sick to his stomach. For the longest time the fallen stared at the far wall of the gaudy, terrible little motel room, and something in his gaze was one-thousand yards long and full of more pain than any physical injury could inflict. his fingers curled away from Dean’s pant-leg, and his voice was very soft in the small room, lost in the thick air between them.
“…time moves differently in heaven, Dean. It was longer than that…but…I suppose…I’m not the best sheriff…” - and that was all he could manage to say before his throat closed off and refused to let him continue. His hand pressed over his eyes, even if it hurt, and he tried his best simply forget that he existed, for just long enough to stop, because he refused to do something like crying in front of Dean Winchester and lose even more of his pride. He’d lost enough for one lifetime.
If Dean had known that Castiel was still trying to adjust to human emotions, too, he might have stayed those questions until a later date and a better time - it had just never really occurred to him that angels might think or feel differently. He’d never put that much thought into it, past the fact that Cas often acted in a way that he’d associated to just being Castiel, rather than being some sort of cosmic being with little understanding of the emotions God had graced humans with.
He hardly even thought of it now, except to acknowledge that Castiel seemed strangely fond of him fingering his hair, in silent embarrassment. A lot of things were odd about Cas right now, though, like the fact that he was so fucking beat up in the first place.
John Winchester had at least raised his first son to be aware enough of his surroundings that he didn’t push when Cas went silent, or huff impatiently, because he could tell the difference between a brooding silence and a fearful one, and he even understood what Cas was going through, to an extent. Hell was forty-years in four months, and Zachariah had proven that angels could be just as twistedly creative with torture as Alastair and his little school of Sadists. He got not wanting to talk about - he got being unable to talk about it, and if that was all Cas wanted to tell him for now, then that was fine.
And he certainly wasn’t about to disrespect Cas enough to point out any possible tears, because God literally knew that the angel had seen Dean cry almost too many times for him to feel entirely comfortable with. But he trusted Cas, despite what giant dicks all the other angels were, and he hoped Cas trusted him, too.
“Well. Whatever happened, we’re pretty safe here. I copied some of those Enochian Sigils the demons used to use to keep you guys out and put them up on the walls.” He’d been worried he’d done it wrong, too, because he’d remembered too late that Cas was technically an angel, too, but he hadn’t seemed affected from being inside them - the holy banishing spell hadn’t worked on him, either, but Dean definitely had enough tact to know not to ask why stuff that was made for angels didn’t seem to be causing him much issue.
“You’d look stupid in a Sheriff’s hat anyway, Cas. We’ll just vacation here, and the rest of the heavenly host can just suck their own dicks while we work on getting you better.”
Those rough fingertips and that easy silence seemed to be all that held Castiel together in the moments after he’d tried to speak and failed, and he nudged himself closer…as close as he dared, swallowing hard around the rising lump in his throat. Whatever happened…Castiel’s smile was a gallow’s smile; his dark lashes were wet when his hand fell away, and he refused to look toward Dean because he was fairly certain that seeing his face, his concerned eyes and the way his lip stuck out when he worried……he was fairly certain it would make more tears come out.
“…They won’t grow back. Not that I know of. My wings. They’re…irreparable…” he added quietly, when enough time had passed for his voice to sound less wavery…even if he held his breath when his chest hitched, because he was far too proud to hiccup or sob. He was not a mortal child and he couldn’t remember this body having BEEN a mortal child…he didn’t want to act like one. He wouldn’t let them have that. He’d not cried a single tear the entire time…not even once…and he didn’t know why his body wanted to now, especially when he was in front of someone whom he cared for so fiercely…even if Dean wasn’t fully aware of that, yet.
When the proud angel felt strong enough, he forced himself onto his side, even if it made him shudder to move, because he…just needed to hide, for the first time that he could remember. He curled up and felt lost without Dean’s hand in his hair, and he counted the threads in the motel sheets.
“…and I…can’t go back. I can never go back. I’m not…I’m…not like them, anymore. I’m not one of them…not now. The only reason I’m on earth is because…they couldn’t find a way to kill me…”
And finally…finally, Castiel couldn’t quite stop it. He trembled when he wasn’t truly cold, and his eyes stung wetly when he closed them; his breath edged out in a panicked, shaken motion, and he shook his head weakly against the pillows. It was too much. It was just…too much, and he was quickly learning that panic was a mind’s way of dealing with things that would overwhelm and shatter it.
“…I know what dying feels like, Dean. I remember it.”
As much as Dean didn’t want to believe it, he knew that made sense; wings were made of bones, and he doubted even Angels could regrow whole limbs, for all that they could heal every wound, most of the time. Even if all of Castiel’s angel mojo were working, his wings were gone - and they were going to stay gone, and he’d never figured out how to console someone who’d lost a limb, much less two. Loss of limbs in his lifestyle meant you might as well be dead, because you couldn’t dig a hole or protect yourself with only one hand, and you couldn’t run when a demon was on your tail with only one leg. Wings weren’t something he understood the importance of, because humans didn’t have them, but he could pick up on the distress and the despair in Cas’ voice and body language.
He also knew that Cas was as stubborn as he was, when it came to showing sadness - never at the hands of your tormentors was a rule that he’d always been sure both he and the angel on his shoulder had strictly followed - but he wasn’t Castiel’s enemy, and they both knew it. So he slid down on the bed until he was propped up only by cheap motel pillows, and when Castiel pulled away to hide, he reached out and found the angel’s hand with his own and tugged him closer - one hand clasped castiel’s, one arm wrapped around the injured man’s waist, and he tucked his chin over Cas’ hair, because he had it on good authority that hiding against another person was better than trying to hide in unfeeling, cold blankets.
Everything Cas said afterward just helped Dean build up his fortress of anger towards heaven and god and angels, and it said something that he’d always been ambivalent about religion right up until he actually started meeting angels, and then he’d decided that God and Heaven was just a load of sensationalist bunk. Christianity said he was supposed to be in awe of creatures that committed horrible acts of violence against eachother out of pettiness, and worship a god that let it happen? Yeah, no thanks. No wonder the Pagan gods were so pissed at western religion.
He need to say something, though, even if he hadn’t the foggiest idea of what he should say, but eventually, slowly, he found words coming to him. This wasn’t like comforting Sammy after a bad dream or a bad grade or both, or consoling Dad after a hunt gone wrong or another drunken sobfest over Mom - the way Castiel was talking his whole way of living had just been ripped away from him. He remembered what it had been like before, when Cas had been slowly losing his grace…but this had been abrupt and sudden, and he’d only just gotten it back. How could they do this to him? Why would they?
“What the hell, Cas? Since when do we give a fuck what those jackasses think? As far as I’m concerned, you’re a better angel than any of those assholes.” He fell silent after that, though, and again the words came to him slowly, though this time there was less of that ‘A GED and a give ‘em hell attitude’ and more of that nurturing side that Dean liked to pretend didn’t exist at all.
“…Yeah. But…I know how you feel, okay? I get how fucked up feeling like that is. If you gotta drink, or hit something, or cry - I’m not exactly in a position to judge you, man. But you don’t gotta worry about having nowhere to go - she’s not exactly a two story, three bedroom dreamhouse, but the Impala has an empty passenger side seat and she likes you as much as I do.” It was the best he could do, though he knew from experience how little it mattered. He understood death, he understood remembering it, and he even understood being betrayed by family, though his own had never tried to kill him. He knew that no matter what comforts he gave, none would ever be enough - he just wanted the man to know he always had a place with the Winchesters, even if there was only one of those, now. “I’m not gonna let any of ‘em ever touch you again, okay? You’re safe here. Or as safe as anyone can be, hanging around me.”
Castiel thought he was losing his touch, when he realized that he’d never noticed Dean moving to begin with, much less to get closer to him…but then, suddenly there was an arm around him and a hand in his, and Dean’s body still smelled like rain, engine oil, graveyard dirt, and cheap cologne……and Castiel scolded himself when he realized he was shaking. That he couldn’t stop shaking. His strength had been a thin wire and Dean had snapped it, and his hand clenched all too tightly in the demon hunter’s own. His chest clenched vice tight and when his breath rattled against bruised ribs it hurt, but he didn’t dare move, because he had thought that he would never need this kind of comfort…
…and now that he did, it frightened him, because he knew that there was no heavenly grace holding him up- no eyes watching, no brethren behind him or against him…those hands were all that was holding his reality together, and he didn’t know how he’d even known to FIND him, but he had. He couldn’t fight that- he couldn’t break away.
“…I’m not sure I’m an angel at all, Dean. Not anymore…” and even that was a murmur `spoken between them, lost against the stubble rough skin between Dean’s throat and jaw. When his free hand did move he balled it up almost too tightly, and it seemed like ‘hit something’ was going to happen…but he never made it to hitting before his fingers were clenching in Dean’s shirt, nearly tearing fabric to bits. What was left of his wings jerked futilely, and they may have shaken, were they whole.
“…I broke your windows, Dean. I…am not sure your car favors me-” -and it took that much, that long…but finally, gentle coaxing knocked down stone walls. Castiel closed his eyes, pressed his face against Dean, and let himself cry, clutching to the only bit of solid ground and reality he had left that was the same. He let those last words repeat in his mind instead of thinking of anything else, and he tried to let it soothe him. Safe. Safe with Dean. Safe…he wasn’t sure he ever had been, but…he wanted to believe that. He would have given anything for that. All he had to give for now were tears…and he could give that much, if it kept Dean near him.
That was a weakness he wasn’t even NEAR ready to admit to, however. For now, he simply let himself have this without words or worries or doubts. He let himself have safety.
Dean didn’t know who had ever said that it was awkward to watch a grown man cry - the only thing awkward about it was not knowing how to react, but it was more relieving than anything because he knew all too well how little good holding everything in did in the end. Humans and spirits and monsters all had a bad habit of holding things in, or holding things back, and that was what created the things that made Hunters necessary - the last thing he ever wanted to see was what that sort of thing did to an angel.
And Cas was definitely still an angel, though he knew Cas had always had issues in believing himself a good one. Even Warriors of God needed time to take a rest and let someone else hold up their weight, every now and again, and if this was Cas’s time to not be strong, Dean was just glad that the angel had someone he could go to for support.
“That’s the biggest pile of bullshit I’ve ever heard you say, Cas, and I’ve heard you say some pretty bullshit things. God - he brought you back, didn’t he? That’s twice now that you should’ve been dead but weren’t, and both times it was one of his precious arch-angels that did you in. I think that’s what you might call ‘making a statement’. He wouldn’t just…take that away, suddenly, would he? Why would you guys love him so much if he was that big a bag of dicks?”
He tightened his arm around the other man when he felt that shaking and how Castiel’s hand gripped so tightly at his clothes (and he wondered if there weren’t some bits of angelic strength left, because god damn, this was one of his favorite shirts), and let him fall apart as much as he needed to, knowing that Dean wouldn’t let him lose any of his pieces permanently.
“Don’t be ridiculous, man, Baby loves you - breaking the windows isn’t the worst thing that’s been done to her in her long career. She was wanting a new facelift soon anyway, I think.” Despite the content of the words, he said it softly, talking gentle and slow now because no one else had really seemed to care what he was saying, so much as they let the tone soothe them. Practically raaising Sammy had taught him a lot of things about comfort, and even if it had been a while since Sam had let him hold him or comfort him, Dean was quickly discovering that it was sort of like riding a bike - you never really forgot how.
Castiel wasn’t sure that he believed in everything as readily as Dean seemed to…but something about his utter lack of hesitance…the way he so stubbornly refused to consider anything else…it was comforting, soothing to some fractured part of him deep inside. He wasn’t yet aware of being allowed or able to have a time to be sad and weak, because it wasn’t something he’d ever had; Heaven was strangely competitive, and there was never a good time to be weaker or more vulnerable than the rest of his kin. This was different, though…it was just Dean, and that gave him the security he needed to let himself crack and flood.
“…Most of them…they don’t really have the strength t-to believe in anything else…..or the want…” Castiel countered quietly, even if that left open a particularly dangerous question, and he wasn’t sure that he was READY to admit that he believed in something, or someone, more than god. He especially wasn’t sure he could admit that that someone was holding him that very instant, holding him above the nightmarish storm-clouds that blocked everything he saw.
It took far longer than he was comfortable to calm down and think straight, again- by then he felt like he’d cried himself Dizzy and Dry, and his fingers finally lost their vice-tight grip against Dean’s chest, leaving his shirt terribly rumpled and torn in one small place from a careless, broken fingernail. He tried to ease his shaking breath even when it didn’t seem to help anything. The gentle touches and soft words…they helped, and he focused on those while he straightened himself out, closing his eyes against the pounding in his head.
“…I don’t like Headaches, Dean,” he finally murmured, petulant and tired as any sad child…he pressed his face to the warmth of the other man’s skin and hoped that he simply didn’t notice the little nuzzle that followed, entirely under the guise of ‘getting comfortable’. He sighed once more, finally easing, and frowned against the demon hunter. A face lift.
“…I…suppose…I could aid you in repairing her…? It’s…not like I have anywhere to be, since you’re the only being who seemed to know I’d returned. What is it that humans say about fate…?”
It seemed as if Cas’s first run-in with human emotion and tears left him just as exhausted as it left most people, because Dean had never had the chance to witness such a tired, drained expression on Cas’s face, before now. He’d seen tired and stressed, and tired and overworked, but never any true exhaustion, and Dean had just started assuming that, like so many other things that humans needed and angels didn’t, that Cas just didn’t sleep. He let him rest against him, though, and before he even realized he was planning to do it, he found his hand rubbing slow, repetitive circles on to the man’s back, carefully avoiding injuries he’d already memorized while Cas slept and he’d worried himself sick.
When he did catch himself, the movements stuttered while he internally worried if he should stop or not - was it weird, or awkward? But Cas seemed to just enjoy any touch right now, and after the sort of fucked up day he’d apparently had, Dean was willing to give him anything that might soothe him or calm him down, even if that thing was awkward touches.
“Mostly that she’s a bitch.” Came his first, immediate response, accompanied by a wry smile that slowly morphed into a brighter one as that offer filtered through his ears, he shifted just a bit, trying not to jar Cas and make for the world’s worst teddy bear, but he couldn’t help the excitement that jittered through his own limbs.
“Really? I mean, you’d really wanna help me out with her? People don’t usually offer, but if you’re interested in learning, I don’t mind.” His grin was a little wider, like a little boy who just got promised ice cream, a new toy, and a new friend to share it all with. Concern tainted it, still, but it was the first time Dean remember really smiling ever since Sam came up with the whole ‘throw Lucy in the Pit’ plan.
“I’ve got some painkillers, if you think they’ll work? I wasn’t sure, and I wasn’t about to feed them to you while you were passed out. They should help with the headache, too.”
Castiel almost seemed to pause himself, when Dean seemed like he might stop touching him, because…he really didn’t want Dean to stop. It had felt better than anything else had since this terrible ordeal had started, and ‘feel things that weren’t agony’ was fairly high up on the angel’s subconscious list of things to do, at that point. The fingers against his back reminded him rather abruptly that he’d been divested of his clothes, and that made the poor angel’s cheeks tint and left him staring unfocusedly at the skin of Dean’s throat because- well, it made sense to take them off, didn’t it? He’d been injured…he needed to be cleaned and bandaged, and he would’ve gotten blood and dirt and char all over the bed…
…and Dean had taken his clothes off. All he had left were his heavenly vessel’s boxer shorts, and he glanced down between them only to realize wryly that Jimmy Novak had a sense of humor. Rainbow Triangles…? Wasn’t that a common symbol of homosexual pride amongst human beings? And this man was both Homosexual AND Devout…? Well, it wasn’t unheard of, but perhaps he’d hidden it well…? Castiel left it at that, red cheeked and embarrassed for perhaps the first time in his existence, and he relaxed only when the touching started up again.
It was almost too close to his wings…but the bases of them weren’t damaged, and when Dean’s fingertips came in contact with soft fluff, feathers, and taut skin Castiel couldn’t repress a shiver that he dearly hoped wasn’t commented on. Dean seemed distracted enough, though, and when those big green eyes were staring down at him like a little boy on ‘christmas’, he couldn’t help but shift his tired gaze up and let his lips quirk. He didn’t realize how much he’d miss…any of this. It had been so much longer in heaven than it had on earth…
“ I would’t mind ‘learning’. I don’t think I could just lay here until this body repairs itself. It would be so…bothersome,” and it would be…nice, to do something normal, for once. To fix a car instead of killing a demon, opening a hellgate, arguing with angels…maybe it would calm him. Being around that automobile…it always seemed to calm Dean’s spirit, and he needed that. He shook his head at the mention of pain-killers, though…because that brought up a concern that he wasn’t willing to voice, yet.
“No. They’ll help, but I’ll be fine. I…don’t want them, right now.”
He didn’t want Dean to stop holding him. He didn’t understand why…not entirely, but he felt that it was right. That was all he needed.
The man responsible for Castiel’s unforgivable lack of clothes had already had plenty of time to adjust to the fact that this was, technically, the first time he’d ever seen him outside of his suit-and-coat combo. Something about it had kept drawing his gaze back to Cas, at first, and despite what more logical parts of his brain were trying to tell him, Dean reasoned that he was just worried and naturally curious.
There was nothing weird about that.
What he did think about now, though, was the fact that they were going to have to get Cas some new clothes, because whatever titanium alloy Jimmy Novak’s clothes had been made out of, they were wrecked now. Between whatever they had done to Cas, and whatever they’d done to Cas’ wings, it had somehow transferred to Cas’ vessel (Dean assumed, at this point, that it was really less of a vessel and more just Cas, at this point. Wherever Jimmy was, Dean wasn’t sure he was here, anymore, after Cas had gotten him blown up twice).
He would basically drown in Sam’s clothes (everyone did), and Dean wasn’t quite ready to go donating his brother’s things yet anyway, but he had some extras that Cas could wear until he healed enough that Dean could take him to a Salvation Army, or something. All of that still paled in comparison to the fact that Cas really wanted to help him work on Baby, though, and even as he mapped out half-baked plans for the future in his mind he was thinking of all the upgrades he could get around to, with an extra pair of hands.
Bothersome, though. Dean snorted, because only Cas would describe something as terrible as Cabin Fever and Bed Rest as bothersome, whereas Dean would have described something like that as ‘Hellish’, or ‘the third worst thing to ever happen to him’. And only Cas would admit to needing painkillers but not actually want them, but Dean actually understood that one, he though. Painkillers numbed far too much, sometimes, and how were you supposed to know your limits if you couldn’t feel them?
“By the time you’re healed up, I guarantee you’ll be almost as good at tuning her up as I am…” He trailed off then, but he went on to ask what had been nagging at him anyway, potential chick flick moment or not, because someone had done a number on Cas, and Cas had every reason not to be okay. “…hey, you alright, man? I mean, if you wanna talk about it…just…I’m here for you, you know? Don’t bottle that shit up inside just because you’re stubborn.”
Cas wasn’t ready to even attempt to stand up and muster the coordination to try and put on shirts and pants and anything else thrown at him…and then there was the ever-present thought that he’d have to cut two holes in the back of anything he wore for his wings, because for now they were fully corporeal, and he wasn’t sure when they’d feel like going back to being able to disappear into nothing like patterned fog…and he hadn’t yet noticed those eyes peeking at him yet, because he was too busy simply enjoying the act of being touched and not mortally wounded for the first time. Thoughts of fixing the car and finding clothes and learning to live a normal life paled in comparison to baser things, like rest and touch, sensation…
…and soon, the grumble in his belly that was loud enough to have him jerking a bit, warned him that hunger could be added to that list. He stared at his abdomen like it was betraying him, frowning disapprovingly at all the terrible noises and movements that fully mortal, fully human bodies had to make, and decided to ignore it for just a little bit longer- this was nice and he wouldn’t bother moving until he had to. ‘Nice’ was high up on a list of things he’d never seen or felt much of- it was the difference between a junky television and premium cable, or a cheap hotel and the ritz. He aimed to feel the good things, for long enough to suck them up and savor them past the soreness and tiredness and dirtiness and hunger.
“I would not even begin to say I’ll be as good at it as you are. You realize how little experience I have with cars, right? This body…I don’t even think it has memories of repairing cars. I…think I remember the abbreviation ‘AAA’…? And breaking a toe with a ‘tire iron’. That’s…about it,” he excused, but-…his eyes slipped up at that last question…and he wasn’t sure how to Answer it at all. Okay. Was he…? He stare at Dean for a long time, ponderous and pouting, pulling at the stubble against his face that, for the first time, seemed to be growing…and he broke his gaze away and let Dean WIN, for once, which was definitely a sign of what his answer would be.
“…I…don’t think I’m okay, Dean. I don’t think I’m okay at all…but…I’m not ready to speak of it. I can’t be sure if…anything would come out save screaming and panic, and neither of those things would help anything. Just…give me time. It’s not every day that a man loses his wings, his grace, his job, his family, and his identity simultaneously. I…need to heal, first. Alright?…”
Living a ‘normal life’ wasn’t really on the Top Ten List of things a person learned while living with Dean Winchester, but Castiel would certainly learn how to live a human life with the demon-hunter; there were very few people more human than Dean, though he was never the first person to think so. ‘Normal’ was a phrase that Dean thought he might have wanted, once, back when he still had living parents, but he’d solemnly given up that life when he’d realized that it wasn’t just Sammy that needed to be protected from the creepy-crawlies.
But if being ‘normal’ just meant teaching Cas that the strange noises his stomach made were actually a biological imperative, and not just a minor annoyance or inherent weakness in his vessel, then Dean could actually do that, too. Just - after the important conversations were all up in their proper places and squirreled away until they were ready to see the light of day.
He laughed at the mention of AAA (total rip-off, right there) and grimaced at the idea that anyone could be so inept with a tire iron they’d break their toe with it. Seriously, what had Jimmy been doing, swinging it at his foot like a particularly retarded golfer?
“Like I said Cas, don’t sweat it. I’m an awesome teacher, and you’ll be talking shop with the best of ‘em in no time.” That bit of humor was a balm on an otherwise serious, too grim conversation, but good things couldn’t last forever - and he wasn’t sure how he was supposed to respond, when Cas answered him, because his response was kind of completely reasonable, and, you know, expected.
“….Yeah. Yeah, alright, fine, just…whenever you are ready to talk, okay? Just concentrate on healing and resting and learning how to touch the Impala and thinking of ways to hide your, uh…where your wings were, when we’re in public. No pressure. And if one day you just happen to feel like talking, then, uh, just…just sit down and talk. I’ll listen.”
That laughter…it was something Castiel couldn’t even begin to realize how much he’d missed until he heard it again, and it was akin to blasphemy to compare a human voice to an angel’s song, but Castiel couldn’t have given a quarter-damn about that, anymore. There wasn’t much of him LEFT that had a hint of heaven in it, and what did was jaded and faded and more than willing to turn up its nose at heaven and heaven-like things entirely.
He felt strangely comforted to know that there would be a ‘tomorrow’, though. That there was time to learn things, things that HE wanted to learn…to do things he wanted to do with people he wanted to do them with. He’d never really had that sort of control, before……it wasn’t actually something he could remember, but instead of scaring him, it elated him. It would be a bit nerve wracking at first, learning to manage time and bide and wait, and do things and schedule things…but…maybe it would be okay. Dean seemed to be at least passably okay at not dying…so he’d put his ‘faith’ in that, for now.
And it was also odd, but he could almost feel that disappointment radiating off of Dean when the little demon hunter didn’t get an immediate fixit; like a…how did mortals put it…a kicked dog? He assured himself that ‘kicked dog’ was correct, especially when he saw that miserable expression, and he could barely stop himself from moving to comfort him, patting the other man’s shoulder…even if his hand didn’t quite leave when it was done patting. It cupped skin gently and Castiel watched it refuse to move…he allowed it to stay, for now.
“…I promise, you’ll be the first and only person I tell. I…don’t really desire to speak to anyone else, right now. I’m not sure I know how. I just…can’t get it straight, yet. Something won’t let me think about it…” -and he shook his head at that and left it there- there were other things to talk about, anyway, like when Dean’s hand skittered a bit close to ‘where his wings were’ again and made him jump; the term made him tsk, and he glanced away as if it weren’t so important to him.
“A…part of them are still there. I can move them…and they feel things strongly. Only most of them are gone. It…takes too much effort, ripping out the bases. When they’re corporeal they’re attached to bones, muscle, tendon…”- and he snorted shakily, rubbing the side of the bridge of his nose as he thought it over. Even the memory hurt, but…talking about it that much…maybe that was good, for a start.
“…They’re…businessmen to the end; they didn’t want to get their hands dirty, and a body that still lives……it can crawl away from the scene.”
Dean had a feeling that this was going to be a very trial-by-error few weeks, at first. Both of them knew that Cas was particularly bad at acting even vaguely human, at times, and the first time they were at a bar and Cas stood too close to another person (he’d never really gotten the personal space thing, but maybe he would now that he was a little more human than he used to be…?) they were going to cause a scene - but that didn’t really matter. Cas could cause as many scenes as he wanted, and be as off-puttingly angelic as he need be, but Dean wasn’t about to turn him away. He had too few people he cared about left alive, and he wasn’t about to start pushing them away. Cas, Bobby, Chuck (in a weird, ‘you know me better than I know myself because you have prophetic dreams about me, and that pisses me off but I’ll try and keep you from dying anyway’ sort of way), and that’s where the list ended, if he didn’t count Lisa and Ben (Lisa, who he didn’t love but could have considered a best friend, and Ben who he would have loved like a son if his idea of fatherhood wasn’t so fucked).
Cas needed him, and Dean had always been willing to step up to the plate when he needed to. He’d show Cas the ropes, show him how normal people kept themselves alive, and maybe when Cas was healed up and knew how to be human a bit better, he could teach him how to Hunt the human way, with no angel mojo to back him up and kill the demons for him.
He startled from his thoughts when Cas’ hand landed on his shoulder and didn’t move, but since they were basically pressed together from shoulder to ankle, it wasn’t really that awkward of a touch. There’d been few times in his life when someone had tried to comfort him, though, and despite the fact that he wasn’t the one who needed comforting, he appreciated the effort anyway. He and Sammy had never been good at comforting the little things, once his gigantor brother grew up - desperate embraces if one of them miraculously survived death, but never casual, comfortable touches like this.
Honestly, he hadn’t really expected comfort like this from anybody. Their dad’s idea of dealing with negative emotions had been to block it all out and throw himself into the hunt, and while Bobby was a little better than that, he still had a tendency to think everyone could solve everything if they were just drunk enough.
The least he could do in return for that was to listen as Cas began to talk about what had happened, just a little bit. He tried not to wince to hear that it would have felt just like having a limb torn off, skin, muscle, bone and everything, because he knew, in gruesome detail, the things that would have to happen for something like that to occur. Sometimes he hated his job for the knowledge it provided him with.
“Alright, my bad.” He responded, because he’d known plenty of Hunter’s who’d lost limbs and had been defensive of what was left. If the thought that part of them were still there comforted Cas, Dean wasn’t about to take that away. Besides, what did he know about angels, except that most of them were dicks? For all he knew, Cas was just being a pessimist and they very well could grow back.
“Have I mentioned that angels are dicks? I mean, when we first met, you were kind of a dick, too, but never like this. It’s no wonder humans got to be such assholes, with those guys looking out for us. No offense, Cas, but most angels are worse than any demon I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting.”
Castiel was surprised at just how…Cathartic it was to say anything at all to Dean, but after the mention of his wings was made he just wasn’t sure that he felt…right, saying anything else. It all hurt, still- it was sharp and stinging, and he decided that the other man meant it when he said that he didn’t have to talk…he was silent and grateful for that, and lingered for a few more moments in the stillness between them before his stomach decided to remind him loudly that he was experiencing ‘hunger’, still, and that it was a state that very much needed to be addressed and righted before riots were had and protests started.
“…They are- I can do nothing but agree with you, at this point. Save perhaps change the subject? My stomach won’t listen to reason- it demands sacrifice now, or it’s going to call a pox upon us.”
And even if it was spoken in a perfectly flat tone…that was humor!!! Cas made a joke, or tried to! He never, ever wanted to admit how much he tried for Dean…but this was one of those times. When they were alone and wrapped up in one another it felt so good, but…he was reluctant to break it, because what if it didn’t happen again? It was irrational- he caught himself scolding himself and paused, gathering himself together as he removed his hand and rolled away. It would happen…right? Somehow. Things that felt nice usually happened again- human bodies sought out pleasures. He’d just have ‘faith’ with what little he had left.
It was a shaky, miserable Struggle to get to a sitting position, but the angel fought admirably, and when he was sitting he looked gravely proud of himself, even if he still looked tired, beaten, and apparently starved to death. One step at a time…that was a good way to think of all things.
“…How often am I supposed to do that…? Eating. It seems like such a chore…stopping everything for food all the time…”
The next rumble of Cas’ stomach was loud enough to startle the hell outta him, and Dean’s brows inched up towards his hairline as he realize that it hadn’t been a Rougarou or Wendigo or Werewolf, just his angelic friends god-damn stomach. Jesus fucking Christ - he’d ask when the last time Cas had eaten was, but he knew that the question would only win him either a flat look or a confused look. god. damn. angels.
He let the man go when he began to struggle up, and he sat himself, watching Cas fight through discomfort so that he could sit - part of him wanted to insist that he take those painkillers, but he knew that if he was that hungry, it was best to wait until they got some food in him, first.
That joke caught him more off guard than the growling stomach had, and he sputtered out an incredulous laugh because it took him by surprise. Cas joked? Cas had a sense of humor? Goddamn, the Apocalypse nearly had happened, hadn’t it? He scrubbed his hand down his face, before he rolled off the bed and made for the room’s phone, shuffling through the leaflets left by it.
“How often are you supposed to eat? A few times a day, mostly - it’s different for everyone, depending on their health and fitness. Hunters tend to need to eat more often than Civilians, but most of ‘em just substitute eating for beer. You shouldn’t do that, by the way - I know it’s hilarious to hear me lecturing someone about it, but your body’s brand new to humanity, buddy. You wanna take care of it.” In complete opposition to what he just said, of course, he held up a coupon list for pizza delivery, and waggled his eyebrows as he showed it to Cas. “I know you like your burgers, but I don’t think either of us is up for a burger joint, so order-in it is. This might be a stupid question, but you think you’ve got any preferences?”
A few times a day?! That seemed like way, way too much to Castiel- he stared blankly at the Hunter with disbelief extremely well-displayed across his face, and shook his head to imagine it. Stopping for upward of two hours every day just to ingest food?! that was….SIX HOURS human beings sat around grazing like cows. They had their charm even with all the weaknesses…he supposed- and whatever flyer Dean was waving around looked enticing enough. So…he’d need to eat more often if he hunted, because they needed more energy…okay. Maybe they could eat and hunt at the same time- he reckoned he’d seen Dean stuffing his face while walking around enough times that it wasn’t any sort of social faux pas.
“I don’t think so…? No preferences, no allergies…and it startles me to realize that humans are allergic to the food they eat. How does your species even begin to survive?”
Castiel was fairly certain he remembered at least one of the winchester boys eating ‘pizza’ in front of him, and it had smelled good at the time, so he could do nothing but agree…and he managed to stay awake until the pizza got there, but three slices in he was wavering where he sat, and he was out cold less than a half-hour after, exhausted from the entire day’s ordeal.
It was still raining outside long after midnight, when two blue eyes snapped open, wide and unseeing, full of a fear they didn’t know yet how to express. A cry was on the edge of his lips, half lost, and the crackling rattle of thunder made him jump where he sat with a hand pressed over his chest. His heart felt like it was going to explode through his ribs, and he didn’t understand panic well, yet- he just knew that it was an overwhelming, choking sensation that had him stumbling to his feet and staggering as quietly as he could toward the bathroom, because vestigial instinct told him it would be a good idea.
That same instinct was probably what helped him find the toilet, fall with a muffled thump to his knees, and upend some of their makeshift dinner into the mouth of the porcelain throne…and panicking was concerning, but throwing up was horrible. He felt dizzy and blank, and he pressed his forehead against the rim of the bowl before he reached up to flush, jolting a bit at the last snippets of memory. Nightmares, he recalled. They were called nightmares. Sam had them quite often- Dean occasionally.
Maybe this was why none of his kin had ever chosen to sleep. Mortality, thus far, was not turning out to be the best thing ever.
Dean was very talented at walking, stuffing his face, and usually some other activity he multi-tasked with - Cas was probably not going to be very good at that sort of multi-tasked eating yet, though, so for now he’d just have to learn to eat every time he was hungry, and they could work on the To-Go food at a later date. He did grin at the mention of allergies and humans being inefficient, but…it was just nice to see Cas being Cas again, even if he was complaining about humans.
It wasn’t a perfect ending, and it certainly hadn’t been a perfect day, but it was nice, mundane ending to what had been a royally crappy day, and if there was anything a Winchester knew, it was how to make due with what you had. And what he had was the familiarity of a crappy motel room, adequate pizza, and Cas - and that was a lot better than how he’d thought this day would end, even if Cas was injured and once again betrayed by his dickbag family.
He didn’t sleep easily, but he slept well enough - but long years of hunting and being the parent of his younger brother, Dean had learned to tune into the sound of nightmares that weren’t his own, and Cas’ quiet flight to the bathroom didn’t go unnoticed. He laid in bed for only a few minutes longer, but the moment he heard retching, he was kicking the blankets away, and Castiel would have gentle hands pressed against his spine as he lost his first meal as a human.
Maybe it was because it had been a long day for the both of them, maybe it was because the loss of Sam was still fresh and raw, maybe it was because he was still sleep-ridden, or maybe it was just because it was Cas, but Dean hardly thought about it when a familiar tune worked it’s way past his throat - it was raspy with sleep and he still couldn’t carry a tune, but it was nowhere as abrasive a sound as Dean singing loudly in the Impala tended to be - it was soft, gentle, and caring, and, to Dean, the tune had always been one to bring calm to him when he needed it most.
This song had been sung to him after nightmares and when he was sick - he wasn’t sure, at the moment, why it shouldn’t be that way for Cas, too.
“hey jude, don’t make it bad
take a sad song and make it better…”