When Dean wakes up, Castiel is still with him. That’s the first phenomena. The blue eyes that had been watching him lose their warmth. They flicker with caution, gloss over with doubt, watching him from the edge of the bed. The two of them go still for a long while, holding their breath, counting their heartbeats. Last night, nothing was close enough. Not Dean’s mouth on his neck, not Castiel’s nails running trails along his shoulders. Not the empty spaces they filled and pulled apart again or the cramped air between their mouths when they broke to speak some incoherent utterances of I need you, I need you, god, I’ve wanted you for so long and I-
Dean stops himself from thinking about the rest.
This is the second impossibility- that an arm’s length away, everything feels outstretched, unreachable. That the distance between them in his bed feels like an expanse Dean can’t cross.
Hey, look, it’s a draft that I’m never going to finish!
A sort of companion piece to Anna’s drabble.
He’ll be speechless at first. Eyes full of wonder like they usually are when he looks at you, like this isn’t the fourth or fifth time you both haven’t spent the night sleeping. You joke over a beer that usually once is enough when it comes to you, but he’s still an angel, technically, and maybe that should account for some things.
He’ll be speechless, but you’ll tease him and he won’t like it. You’ll ask him what he wants and he’ll roll his eyes and knead his fingers into your sides impatiently. He’ll tell you to get on with it, tell you that his wants leave little to the imagination when you’re both naked and touching and the door to your shared room is locked. He’ll joke your demeaning him, that he’s much bigger and much older than you are and not fit for begging. You’ll ask him again and laugh when he tries to bite your lip halfway through your kiss.
“I want-” he’ll submit, trembling, when your hand isn’t enough. You’ve developed a knack for this. You’ve always had beginner’s luck. You’ve always been good at starting off on the right foot, on being a natural with guns and flirting and whiskey. You’ll be much better at loving than you ever were at firing rounds at monsters that didn’t kill your mom. It’ll surprise you. It will every time he reaches in to kiss you when you wake up in the mornings.
“What do you want, sweetheart?” you’ll ask, though you answer the question with your hands. You touch him more. You wipe your palm across his forehead, brush away the sweat. You clamp your mouth down to the scruffy shadow of his neck and kiss him there until it sounds. “Just tell me what you want, babe, just tell me-“
“You,” he’ll breath out. “You, I want- I need you.”
It’ll make the pace of your advances hiccup, because the last time those words were uttered, your voice was hoarse and your prayers were mumbled and you could still remember how the blood tasted on your tongue not long before that. And he’ll say it like an anthem then, until he’s run out of things to say, until you rob him of breath. He’ll draw it until the words run over and spill at the edges, until all he can manage is the high incantation of ‘I’ or the long prolong of ‘you’ that turns into a very low and very awesome rumble of ‘ohhh.’
He won’t need you like he needs food. He won’t need you like he needs a cat to keep him company or the occasional privilege of the front seat. He won’t need you like he’ll need your words when he can’t imitate Vincent D’Onofrio well enough to pull off a successful interrogation.
He’ll need you like you need him, present and honest and there. He’ll need you like he needed the tablet in his hands, like instinct. He’ll need you like he needed your prayers the whole bus ride through, like how he needed to reply to you, like how he swore this would be the last time your call for him came unanswered.
He’ll need you like he needs your hands, and the way you grab the bony curves of his hips. The way you’ll clamp your mouth over his when he’s being too loud for your brother’s sanity. He’ll need you the way he needs to be worshipped, holy being as he is- without request, saying he’d rather kiss the scars and freckles on your skin because you’re so much purer, so much better, than the scorched mess that is him, but he’ll need you. He’ll need you like the compliments, like the shared clothing, like the trunk of your Impala that still holds his coat and his tie on the growing days when he’s comfortable enough to not wear them.
He’ll need it all when he gasps and holds his breath and unravels against your chest. When his eyes close and he rests his head against your shoulder, giving it a squeeze, whimpering into your ear. He’ll need you, and you’ll be there, and you’ll slouch over him when you’re out for the count. You’ll close your eyes and you’ll listen to the soft song of his returning breath. Someday, you’ll hum along perfectly.
He’ll need you, and you’ll be there. But you probably won’t stop asking- asking him what he needs. Not because you doubt it, though sometimes you will. You’re made like that, formed to the insufferable habit of demeaning self-worth. You won’t stop asking because he won’t stop saying it, he won’t stop promising it.
And that’ll be okay with you.
He’ll kiss you with soft longing, whisper thank you’s into your hair, peck along the bridge of your nose from where he sits on your lap, arms around you.
He’ll need you and you’ll be there. You’ll need him, too. You always have. You always will. You’ll tell him so.
His hands always roamed when they kissed, and it was really only a matter of time before Cas discovered Dean was ticklish. It wasn’t the jarring laughter that bothered Dean; It wasn’t the falling over, the tears, the breathless cries of surrender when Castiel’s fingers rushed across his neck or playfully dug along the sides of his belly- the trouble was that Dean allowed this to happen, and he really had no one to blame but himself.
Castiel became brave about touching him like the moon went along waning- slowly, unnoticed, undeclared. Like a soft natural walk gone unquestioned.
At first, Dean would guide him. Tell him kiss me back, hold me like this, put your hands here, now try there, just breathe, I’ll make it easier, I’ve got you, I’ve always got you.
But Castiel had his fill of listening. He learned how to take Dean’s breath away, instead. His body, for all of Cas’ reforming it six years ago, was still an undiscovered place. He had an evangelical duty to memorize each curve, each turn, each twisted path that led to unknown things- a cry, a shudder, a shiver, a smile. He’d catalogue it, map it down with his mouth and his fingers and his grace, and that’s when he came to finding favorites.
It’s not that Sam’s “the smart one,” it’s that there are different frames of intelligence. Dean Winchester is a kinesthetic learner and that makes all the difference because it takes touch and practice to learn new things. So the first time he kisses Castiel, he realizes they’re going to need some practice and that’s fine. He’s not looking for skill, he’s pleading for want and it’s there, bright as the grace that shimmers in the gaps between Cas’ fingers clasped over his wounds, heaving over a bloodied pavement.
He’s grateful Castiel is patient, accustomed to waiting for microorganisms to unfurl into glimmering fish. He’s got the skill to bare the wait- to hold his breath and still his pace until Dean commits to memory how to illicit the perfect response- the quaking cry, the shivered touches, the sway forward the jerk back. He didn’t think himself the type for research, but he’s got a natural thirst for it, an inexhaustible drive he didn’t notice before. He’s sped through Vonnegut in the shadows and grated through till engines purred and readers beamed over the slightest wisp of EMF. Leave it to the angel to unearth the brillance in him, to make Dean notice the little things.
Appropriately, the little things are where it starts. Loving’s an instrument of attention, selflessness tuned like flying- attention to the lift off, focusing on weightlessness, trusting to hover between soaring and falling. So he commits himself to trailing kisses over gradient of skin and tone and build until he’s biting softly across Castiel’s neck, staining shoulders purple, and pressing calloused fingers against his hips until Cas is crooning, falling inward, pressing out, and shuddering down. And he’ll learn there’s a time and a place to call him by murmurs- baby, sweetheart, Castiel, mine, mine, mine- and that’s exclusively in the gradient between their hearts.
Learning comes like habit. Slowly. Unthinkingly. Like knowing Castiel wakes before he does, eyes on him like he’s convinced he’s the rising sun. Dean learns his shampoo suits the angel’s hair better than his own and that scented soap clings to him like rain and earth does, like blood does, like it belongs there. Frighteningly, as if all of Dean’s life didn’t tremble over the line if the forces of nature snatched Cas away. He discovers he can stain him with confusion, like the words are lost in translation, when he tells Cas that he’s beautiful. And that Castiel can remember how quiet heaven was when man cried blood for the very first time, and how Uriel laughed when babel fell, and how Anna always moved like wind over water. He learns that flowers grow by his feet and that fawns don’t scare when he’s standing, awed amongst cedar tress. Lessons he can’t forget.
Castiel’s a walking storm of cosmos in veiled glass. He gives the glimmer of the morning meaning. He wipes tears away that build from sorrows past and canonizes them into the weight of his wings. Wings that frenzy to a shock with the nightly raptures no one talks about- the raptures that come in tangents and silence and the falling over after a high when the chest breaths in again and shoulders slump and legs give out weakly to worn knees. He’s the start of something phenomenal, and Dean is noting it all down for reference’s sake- he’ll be a genius by the end of this, he knows it.
Castiel says his name, soft as the wisps of steam that twirl from his mug before he blows them away. It the ease in his tone that makes Dean forget the question; to ask him if he’d finally like to try scrambled eggs or wants to play it safe again and go for pancakes this bright Thursday morning. The thoughts are lost when they collide with the sight of him, wearing Dean’s shirt, hair still mussed from the shower, droplets of water still noticable from where he leans over the kitchen counter. A soft happiness so clear over his features that Dean falters, leaning against the knobs of the stove.
“You okay there, Cas?” He stirs the vegetables in the pan for good measure, brings it back to the fire. Simmer down there, he thinks, don’t want to burn the house down.
“I’ve been thinking,” he tells him, they way some do when they’ve already decided.
“You’re going for pancakes.”
“Not about pancakes,” Castiel smiles. He takes a long drink of the tea Dean made just sweet enough for him. “Dean, if you could- would you marry me?”
As if it weren’t surreal enough, even the air is crisper here. Dean takes a deep, clean breath and tastes the winter fill his lungs. He forgets all too often that Castiel is a walking miracle passing for mundane, that beneath familiar skin and soft, dark hair is a mass of eternal energy, toiling and whirling phenomenally.
In a second, they’re gone, jolted straight out of their stuffy motel room- and Dean’s thankful too, because what even happens in Idaho, besides potatoes?- and all three of them are standing knee-deep in snow and buried under layers of winter clothes they weren’t donning before.
“Cas,” Sam asks, eyes wide and darting to every which corner of horizon, “where are we?”
“Norway,” he answers, smiling.
“When I said I wanted to have a snow day, this really isn’t what I had in mind,” Dean admits, shuffling the heavy snow off his boots and hissing when a bit of ice-cold discovers the only open space his scarf grants, rushing down his back.
Destiel and John Winchester PLEASE. Destiel and soul bond. Destiel and music/dancing. Destiel and jealousy. Destiel and the batcave.
The record had stopped playing a while ago but they had kept dancing. Dean expected Cas to draw away, to point out that the ruse of teaching him how to dance lost its validity once the music had ended. He expected Castiel to see through him, to walk over him, to walk away or vanish or settle into what they always had been- unspoken and unresolved. But Castiel’s hand was firm and unrelenting in his own, and he had gotten wind of how to pace himself, of when to pull them back or push them forward perfectly on cue. He smiled, eyes cast down to their feet in silence, waiting. Patient until Dean’s hands lost their tension against his waist and in his palm. Patient until Dean smiled gently and hummed, warm and low in Castiel’s ear, a song he was spinning just for them. There, in the silence, something entirely different fell perfectly in place.
(Set after 8x10)
This was the sort of sorrow that festered, the bit sharply at the edges of the heart. This was the sort of pain that encircled and ensnared. Dean reached out through the darkness until his fingertips touched something tangible, until he reached Castiel’s slouching fame at the foot of their bed. Like the side of the bed he found empty when he stirred out of sleep, Castiel’s shoulder was cold to the touch. He’d been sitting there for a long while now. The mattress creaked beneath them, prompting them to speak.
“Cas?” he asks, half-mumbling, “what’s wrong?”
“I don’t need to sleep,” he replied. Dean felt his mouth run a bit drier, waiting patiently until Castiel turned to him, sympathetic and remorseful. Half-truths never got them far. “I can’t sleep, Dean.”
“How long have you been up?”
“A little while after you fell asleep. I watched you for a while. I tried but-” he drops the turn of phrase and holds his breath. The hand that gripped his shoulder runs gently to his neck, comforting him. He’s listening.
“Samandriel,” Castiel sounds out slowly, like the words were coming unraveled, like the memory of him was falling apart at the threads, “believed in me.”
“I know,” Dean replies gently. He appreciates the darkness because it hides them. If Castiel could see the grief in his face, he wouldn’t have spoken at all. Dean is sure that he feels it, nonetheless- he does that, share his shadows and identify his turmoil before it’s even begun to boil. Cas probably knows, Dean thinks, that he pains for him. He might only be speaking to ease Dean’s worries.
“I wish he hadn’t,” he says, with a sigh that shakes and ruptures. He wanted to sound sympathetic, above it all, like he was talking about a stranger. But vessels are human and humans, for all their flaws and calamities, can only withstand so much pain before they begin to cave.
Dean makes a habit of picking up their clothes in the mornings. The very image of comfortable laziness, Dean rolls out of bed- literally rolls, he hits the floor softly with a groan- and lags across the room. The only time Dean even remotely regrets tearing and tossing clothes away is now, in the early hour, when he’s burdened with trying to find his second sock or Castiel’s tie, when he’s got to figure out where shirts had fallen when they threw them so hastily over their heads and didn’t look back. The victory of finding the first of many layers is satisfying enough- the air is cold and standing around in flannel pajama pants alone never helps.
Of course, Castiel looks warm, still sleeping and nestled under the quilts. He’s always tempting to climb back in, to nestle back into his arms, but they can’t afford late check-out fees and making Sammy wait on them too often gnaws at his nerves. So, he’s gathering their clothes together and will wake Cas up soon enough- the responsible thing to do. With thoughts on the upcoming drive to Colorado, he reaches down for the last thing missing, Castiel’s coat rumpled and stretched across the rugged floor. Holding it softly, bringing it up close, the touch is paradoxical- he’d so often draw it near, tight and tangled in his hands. But the coat had always been torn then, when he could only hope Castiel was coming back. And, back then, the beige overcoat had been stained, weakened by use and corroded by time, by blood, by pitch, black ink that faded out in a damned, cold lake. When Castiel returned, he came out of the bathroom with a healthy glow, with bright eyes, open hands, and a silly question- ‘better?’, like Castiel could ever look anything less than perfect, beautifully broken and tangible and just so right. He returned to Dean redone and the coat was reborn. Bright and soft, made anew in his hands. Like nothing had happened, like he didn’t commit ragged, bloody scraps to pained memory. And here it was- new, fresh, whole.
Dean is too lost in thought to realize when Cas has crawled over across to the edge of the bed where Dean stands. He’s too focused on the war of melancholy and gratitude within him to perceive the silent movement until Castiel touches him experimentally, carefully, as if asking for permission when he brushes his fingertips across Dean’s shoulder. Castiel hovers over his skin, ghosting a touch, until he can latch onto Dean’s open hand. “Good morning,” he greets him. “Something wrong?”
Dean smiles, turning to match him, face-to-face. “It’s nothing. Just getting ready- thinking about some stuff.”
Dean smiles at the floor. Always so gratified when Castiel knows there’s more, when he can read the unspoken words in the open air. He lets the trenchcoat drop to the bit of bed between them when he kneels over the mattress, entangling their fingers and closing up on Cas just enough to feel the warmth radiating off his skin. They bump heads softly, like children, and Dean leans in to brush his eyelashes against Castiel’s until it makes him shiver. It’s a game they play, a stupid, embarrassing, secret one. A game Dean thinks he may have seen Mary play with John in their kitchen, just once, in a distant dream or a hazy memory.
“You’re back,” he says with a smile, eyes fluttering downward. These sort of intimacies are always just too much to bare without his getting flustered, without him turning into a puddle of ridiculous sentimentality in the privacy of this space. ”Thank you for that-,” he tells him, with an honest vulnerability in his voice, “for coming back. When you didn’t have to. Maybe when you shouldn’t have.”
“There was never any other place for me to be,” Castiel confesses. Sometimes he knows when the time to argue against Dean’s insecurities is right. Instead, he wins this time. His eyelashes aren’t as long as Dean’s, but if he angels to the left and blinks fast enough, Dean always gives in with a laugh. Castiel would rather Dean start the day laughing.
“You’ve had places before me. You could’ve found somewhere better- where you didn’t have to give up so much all the time for us- for me.” Dean wraps his arms around Castiels torso and tucks his head over his bare shoulder. “You know, if I could, I’d give you everything. I’d give you the best life, the freakin’ world if I could- I’d give you a cat or bees or whatever the hell you want, I’d give you a lawn and a home-“
“You are my home,” Castiel reminds him, “and you are enough.”
“Still,” Dean persists gently, “I would. If I could, you know. Just thank you. Thank you for coming back.”
Castiel nods, shaking him off to look him in the eyes and appease him with a smile. And he pulls him back into the bed- he knows he shouldn’t, that they’ll be late if he does, if they don’t ristrict themselves to just caresses and words, but he does and Dean allows it. Testing their luck and self-discipline, maybe, or just being immaturely selfish. Castiel guides Dean over on top of him, pulling him by the hands that slide down the nape of his neck onto his broad, familiar shoulders. God, Castiel loves Dean’s shoulders with a specific ferociousness. Castiel falls back into the mattress slowly and Dean, a smiling mess, falls down with him. Down to press against him, down to rest his comfortable weight against Cas’ chest and to close his eyes delightfully- light crinkles on freckled skin- when Castiel reaches up to sprinkle the bridge of his nose with soft, peckish kisses. He saunters down so they can touch, so Dean can laugh against Cas’ cheek when Castiel whispers secrets into his ear and so Castiel doesn’t have to stretch when he holds Dean’s face in his hands and pulls him in even closer, their noses brushing as they settle comfortably when their lips meet. And that kiss, the first of many on this particular day, is open, pleasing, fresh and too full of life for the morning hour- angels, Dean thinks, are just too much. Castiel sighs, smiles against Dean’s moving lips before they open for him. He mumbles pleasurably, incoherently, and just feels the way Dean shifts over up above him, imagining the muscles in his back, how they must curve and cave with leaning movement.
“Always,” he tells him between breaths, wholly and earnestly and just so full of nourished bravery, “always happy to return to you.”
He would have walked out the door beside him, squeezing his shoulder with as much affection he could allow himself to show the angel, while Sam wasn’t looking. He would have offered some half-baked compliment and joked about the case while he opened the car, and he would’ve taken a moment there, standing across from Castiel as he sat by the passenger’s seat, waiting for the door to unlock. And Dean can imagine it very well, how his cheeks would’ve pulled up into a genuine smile and how his eyes would sort of crinkle with pride and gratitude, at having Castiel with him, still. He would’ve cranked up the volume and drummed his fingers against the steering wheel, beatingalong to the drum solo of his favorite song, taking in a breath of fresh air.
And he would’ve heard some offhand comment, some stupid little thing Castiel would have to offer, while Sam chuckled or corrected him. And after a while, Dean knows, he would’ve hummed and nodded to some cheesy song, waiting by the red light before they could drive back to their motel room, and sliver his hand down between them. He’d pretend he wasn’t terrified, like he wasn’t mustering up all the courage he could find within himself, and he would hold Castiel’s hand in his own. He’d watch surpised, wide eyes melt into a warm sort of shine, and he’d feel Castiel’s fingers lax against his palms. Dean would rub the pad of his thumb against his knuckles, he’d imagine, secretly, the day that he would reach over for more than just his hand, and Dean would’ve smiled. He would’ve been happy and it would’ve been new, fresh, and delicious- like that first inhale after holding your breath for far too long.
Would have. Could have. But-
Dean had busted out of the habit of high hopes and daydreams a long, long time ago. Without noticing it, Dean had rediscovered that childish, torturous technique when they brought the old man back to his home. Walking out the doors, not caring to look back to Castiel who didn’t promise to come back, Dean remembered very clearly why getting ahead of yourself when in love was ill-advised in the Winchester family line.
When Castiel resurfaces from Purgatory, he is sore, broken, and blind. Everything, inside and out, spills over with searing pain and yet, he is unfeeling- a mess of pins and needles, a blunder of numbness, like the overwhelming of the senses that leaves the body helpless and distorted. But it’s Dean’s voice that wakes him, and it’s his prayers that inspire Castiel to force in a new breath of air. He wakes up in cold waters, so fitting of his deaths, and cloaked in the shadows of the winter night.
The prayers are the only way Castiel knows for sure that he still has his grace- he can’t remember if he ever lost it, he can’t remember anything- but the prayers have stayed and they fill in enough blank spaces.They flutter against his skin like cool mist running over his wounds, and they reverberate through his grace like the sounding of symbols, like the falling of bells, like the echos that dance in a frenzy, to and fro, off the walls of a dark cave. Thoughtlessly, the angel relearns how to walk, how to run, how to fly- fumbling, uncoordinated, like he were just freshly birthed. And the words, they rush over him like a flood. Three-hundred and sixty-five prayers in the dark, and a hundred more since their separation. A million apologies, a million questions, hundred upon hundred of ernest, hushed pleadings for an answer, for proof that he is okay, that he’s alive somehow, some way, even if Dean watched him die. And the closer he gets to Dean, the more space he lessens between them, the more the answers bubble up in Castiel’s throat and roll in his mouth and seep into the tears and the blood that the wind pushes away from his face.
So, when he stumbles over where the Winchesters are staying, when his heart falters and his mouth dries over knowing Dean is there, right there, waiting. Praying to him, now a painful habit, despite the time, despite the sorrow, praying to him silently as he leans over the sink and passes the running water over his face. Everything gives away, then, Castiel’s strengths, his reservations, his patience.
“Hello, Dean,” he says, voice new and strange against his sensitive ears. Hello. Hello. A million times hello, for every ‘Cas?’’, for every ‘are you there?’, for every ‘are you listening?’. A bright smile, a sincere one, a tingling yearning to clasp his hands around the righteous man right then and there and kiss the doubt away from his widened eyes until they melt against each other and fall to rest. But he holds himself steady still, and Dean stands there, livid and frozen, until he reaches out to pass a trembling, cold hand down his arm, to prove to himself that this image of Cas, for once, is not just a dream. And when they touch, the world holds its breath for a moment. Gravity lifts for an instant. The universe melts away for a second. And it all comes tumbling back, with doubling force, against the two when Dean realizes it: yes. Yes. This is Cas, his Cas, back from the dead and here to stay.
Dean catches him when his weakened knees give out, and the two slide onto the floor together with slow, bittersweet relief. It was worth a thousand wounds, it was worth the flight, the falling feathers, the dripping grace, to be there in his arms.
Finally, finally, Castiel will have the time, the life, the impossible miracle of answering each prayer Dean had the relentless faith to make, and it begins with tears, with shaking laughter, with a long, overdue embrace.
When Castiel returned from the battlefield of Purgatory, the angel needed a home. He needed a sanctuary like children need blankets during thunderstorms. So, Dean washed the stains of Purgatory off his skin, anointed him with adoration and gentle affection, and let the angel grip onto his arms, lean against the weight of him, gasp in warm steam and the smell of soap-water until he turned and toiled, completely undone, completely remade. Dean guided him by the hand, through the darkness and into his bed, and Castiel was granted the irreplaceable gift of his clothes, his arms, his warmth through the midnight hour. They fall asleep, that first night, whispering stupid plans about diners, music, and meals. The last words they share, lagged by sleep and exhaustion and worn-out limbs, are murmured into each others ears, warm against the skin- earnest, unspoken proclamations of love. They don’t need speeches. They don’t need nonsense. Everything that matters is heard in the in-between.
“You know, a part of me always believed you’d come back.”
Still, Dean gave Castiel an infinite gift in that one night of honesty, in those short hours of tearing down their walls and loving fearlessly and with abandon. When Castiel wakes up first in the morning light, his clothes are loose and roomy. The pants slip under the curve of his hipbones, still marked from a few hours prior, and they need a bit of folding and readjusting- they’re nothing like the trench-coat, the button-down shirt, the tie he doesn’t get quite right. But they smell like the one he loves, and they just scream him in their feel, in the way they comfort and cloak him, in the way they warm his skin. The clothes come with the price of adjusting, but they reap so many rewards- they make Dean grin, and Castiel can’t fathom under-appreciating that miracle. They make Dean want him just a little more, just a touch more needy, just a tone more prideful and decisive than before. Castiel can’t go without appreciating that for very long at all.
From that day on, they share clothes like they share secrets- intimately, but proudly. Intimately, but openly enough for the world to see that something flitters between them with an undeniable, profound depth. So when Castiel is alone, when they divide in a fight or a hunt and the seperations stirs up a humming flight of anxiety in the cavity of his chest, Castiel can feel, in every sense- as an angel, as a soul, as a body- that something of Dean is forever his. And when Dean holds Castiel close, or stretches his arm across his shoulders- when he bumps into him as they walk with gentle intention or runs a hand down his shoulder, he can relish in recognizing what his stuff feels like on top of the turns and curves of his angel’s figure. Some days, he’s used to it and doesn’t think much of it. But the realization hits him, sooner than later, that everything is his. His. Completely and utterly his, from head to toe. And Castiel, he realizes over and over again, is a beautiful, blemished miracle, the living evidence of impossible things- thriving evidence that bonds can be preserved, the ties can be redone, that Dean Winchester can love something that lasts and not resent it in the fear of loss or pain to come.
Still, the day does come when the Winchesters decide to buy their angel some things of his own. The three know, fully now, happily now, that Castiel is here to stay, forever onward, and that comes with his own space in the Impala’s trunk- mostly used for beekeeping books, old records, and whatever strange trinkets the angel deems worth saving, like pressed flowers or shards of Amethyst. Whatever he deems right. There are other motivations, too- Sam can only deal with the long, tense, and obvious looks between them at the most inopportune times for so long, after all, and Castiel trips over Dean’s jeans. That’s a hazard in more ways than one. So, directing them with delicate affection, Sam takes them to shop. It’s a difficult thing, for two soldiers to have options, chattering crowds, so much mandency all around them. So he makes it easy; he treats them to lunch and takes them to the best places he knows, and knows just how to gloat when Dean settles into the initially daunting task and eventually eases into shopping- picking clothes he thinks would look best on Cas, voicing his opinions when a shirt does his angel no justice or when he really like how the fit of a pair of jeans showcase Cas’ butt. Sam blushes and disguises his embarrassed laughter with a cough. Dean doesn’t curve his enthusiasm when Castiel calls him for help in the fitting room, and when Castiel looks at him with huge, worried eyes, trapped in a shirt much too small, arms pinned down and hair a ruffled mess, the brothers laugh to the point of tears. There are little victories in everything.
That night, the trunk is just a bit more filled and Castiel does not doze off to sleep in the back of the Impala while they drive to Kanas for a Shifter case. He maintains steady awareness, keeping careful watch over Dean in case he dozes, enjoying how his wings have room to stretch in the space of the car. And as the night thickens he numbers the stars and calls the clusters, silently, by name and thanks them. He had fallen. He had failed. Castiel, the soldier, the ex-god, the prideful, the flawed, the broken, did not deserve happiness. He did not deserve a heaven better than the divine gift his father granted his brothers- but Castiel found it. Castiel got it. Sitting comfortably in pants Sam bought him, in the first shirt Dean lent him, and warmed by a ridiculously thick, fluffy sweater Cas chose for himself, Castiel has found home. Not in some multi-dimensional wave of light from above, not in a house or in some beautiful land across the globe- he found home in a Chevy, he found home on Earth, he found home in the scars of wars unfolded. Castiel found home in Sam Winchester, they boy who fought against the evil boiling hot in his bloodstream and won, and he found home in Dean Winchester, in the fragments of a shining soul in the pits of Hell, in the marking of the skin of his shoulder, in the touch of him that corrupts the flawed bits due to decay and threads together what’s worth saving forever. He find home in Dean’s breath, in his legs entangled in the morning, in the chilling shudder of him at night. He finds home in the way Dean lathers the soap out of his hair and he finds home in his clothes.
For an angel who waited centuries, who watched humankind rise and stumble, who suffered wounds and plights unprecedented, home was a long-time coming. It was well worth the wait.
Joan Watson wakes up with a sore throat and a bad cough on a rainy Tuesday morning. The feverish hours of the night before are a hazy blur, and it takes a few steady moments to distinguish what were memories and what were fevered dreams.
When Sherlock realizes she’s awake, he sits up straight from the foot of her bed, eyes wide and stammering. “You and I have an agreement,” he tells her quickly, “no separation spanning longer than three hours, exactly, so I took it upon myself-“
“Are those photos of an autopsy on my legs?” Joan croaks, voice hoarse and low. She doesn’t mind his proximity, sitting on her bed only a few feet away, though it surprises her.
“Autopsies,” Sherlock corrects sheepishly, “plural. And they’re technically not on your legs, they’re on the quilts.”
“The quilts are on my legs, Sherlock. You’re using me for a desk,” Joan groans and falls back against the warm pillows, wiggling under the weight of the hefty layers of blankets on top of her. She remember all the noise when Sherlock scrambled through the washing machine and the hallway closets for more blankets- that’s where this warm mess had come from. She looks at him, eyes aching and head whirling, and gives him an unseen, strained smile.
Sherlock peers up a little after, not really but just almost for permission to go on speaking- he was well into his deductions, he explains, when she interrupted his monologue by waking. He likes animate listeners, he tells her, but she’s much quieter when she’s sleeping. It’s rude. It’s so very much like him. But Joan tries to spoil herself, half-convinced that this is his best way of showing concern. Because he is, in many ways, like a child, and children do not know how to be selfless or compassionate past their self-interests; sick parents are still expected to get up, are still demanded lunches and drives to school. There’s something like that between them both, but not quite, and she doesn’t think about it for too long. She listens, instead, and he falters before going off on tangents to look at her and swallow down a smile- she listens often, and he appreciates it. It scares him, though, and he worries, secretly, about her not being there to listen anymore one day. Still, he is immature and unexperienced in friendship- the first day, he does not extend her tissues until she ask for them, and they have a five-minute conversation about cold medicines that, somehow, turns into a curt but unwanted argument about social skills, or lack-thereof. She stays in bed, thirsty and sore, and stumbles when she walks to the fridge to drink water. He doesn’t quite like the bruise on her knee that darkens after she tripped over unlocked handcuffs and knees the coffee-table.