Castiel was in a conscious, although relatively unresponsive state throughout the night. He had grown used to the hunter’s groggy movements and quiet snorting and ignored it. For that reason, he was late to discover when Dean was actually awake.
The touch of his hand to his wing was the best hint and the angel’s eyelids slowly rose to see that he had, in fact, woken. Instantly, Castiel’s wing jerked upward and he began to rearrange him instantly. He knew Dean didn’t like it when he stood too close.. He expected to be immediately snapped at when the human woke to see an angel partially on top of him.
Castiel, a bit flustered by the situation, attempted to brush off the event — act like it didn’t happen. “Good morning, Dean..”
Except for the fact that it was Castiel, and that Dean didn’t give half a rat’s ass about, well, nearly anything this early in the morning. Sure, he’d been taken by surprise, but he definitely missed the window of opportunity where he was supposed to freak out and somehow fling Cas off the bed. So option B was to lazily roll his head in the angel’s direction, play it totally cool, and lift a brow at him.
There was that angel two-by-four up his—
"Didn’t hurt you, did I?" he asked quietly, immediately jumping on the angel’s injury instead of acknowledging the fact that they shared a bed and he’d been totally fine with it, or that Sam might have still been in the vicinity. Besides, he really would feel kinda shitty for adding injury to injury in his sleep.
“Good night, Dean.” The angel murmured lightly although he gaze did not leave the hunter. There was something about watching humans sleep. Most of them — most the ones he knew, at least — claimed to be so fierce, but in sleep they were all reduced to resembling children again. Dean was no different.
Castiel shifted his body to turn to the hunter, despite the dull pain that shot up his wing. He didn’t know what possessed him to lift his right wing and brush the tips of the feathers over the hunter’s arms, eyes locked on Dean’s to make sure he remained asleep.
The angel began to full turn to the side, freeing the wing under him before he rolled over it and left it to jut just slightly off the bed. His other wing lifted and was carefully lowered onto the hunter, becoming a makeshift, feathery blanket for the human. Castiel shifted only slightly into the most comfortable position and sending Dean a final glance before closing his own eyes in a mocking form of sleep.
Perhaps it was a good idea that Castiel had waited until Dean fell asleep, lest the blond crack some sort of joke at his expense—or to hide that it was sort of nice, sleeping in this warm, soft bubble.
The hunter woke up to a canopy of black feathers and the smell of pancakes and maple syrup (that thought led him to where Sam was, if he remained in the room after getting breakfast or left at the sight of him and the angel). With a soft groan, he raised a hand and pressed his palm firm against the arch of the wing settled above him, sort of muddling through the half awake haze of ‘Cas tucked you in under his wing—there’s a terrible movie reference in here somewhere. Wow, that’s really comfortable.’
“No, you couldn’t have.” Castiel responded almost immediately, eyes resting on the man at his side. A mildly sorrowful frown pressed on his lips. “Dean, you know there is such a thing as fate. Sam was suppose to die, Dean, and you were suppose to go to hell. This all happened because it was what the angels planned.”
The angel didn’t like having to speak this out loud. Those few years ago, he didn’t care that Sam died or that Dean mourned or that the older Winchester fell into the Pit. He knew it was already suppose to happen. Looking back at it now though, he felt nothing but guilt. Imagining Sam bleeding to death in his brother’s arms made him squirm. “I am sorry you had to live through that. Had I been the angel I am today, I wouldn’t have allowed it..”
"Yeah, and you know my views on fate, so don’t start on that shit. Team Free Will, remember? We avoided the apocalypse, we got Sam back. Whatever this Divine Plan your feather friends were harping on about is done. Over with." Dean lifted the remote for the TV and shut the thing off before tossing the device onto Sam’s empty bed and drawing the blankets underneath him up with a sharp yank. He scooted under, clothes and all, because he couldn’t afford to undress, to sleep like a normal human being.
They couldn’t have planned for him to break the first seal? Could they? Or for Sam to fill up on demon blood? What did they know anyway? All this knowledge, all these millenniums of living, observing—and order was turned to chaos once two broken brothers were brought it, who cared more about each other than they did about fate and plans and Heaven and Hell.
With the conversation suddenly steered in a place that Dean didn’t want to touch, with Cas apologizing again, the hunter chose to just drop everything and bury his face in the nearest pillow instead of waste more time thinking about it all. “‘Night, Cas. Wake me up if something’s wrong.”
Every emotion — every urge — the angel spoke of before suddenly appeared, rushing so rapidly, he was hardly able to keep himself in place. He wasn’t entirely sure if this was the human’s way of repairing these feelings or torturing him with them.
Castiel wasn’t sure what to do with his hands nor with his own mouth. He had watched humans do this of millenniums, but his mind seemed to run to blank. All he wanted was this burning sensation in his chest to be soothed. Two eyes flicked to the green ones just a few inches above him before they fell back to the lips. Showing a hint of hesitation, the angel decided to lean forward to touch Dean’s lips with his own.
And it was—
—completely and utterly heart-stuttering. Which was stupid, because Dean had filled his kissing and fucking and touching quota for the rest of his life, and this, this barely there feathering of a kiss from an angel whose only experience to fall back on was porn and a demon?
This was what made his ribs constrict suddenly with no warning, chest rising with an intake of breath. Yeah, he had made the first move, but for some reason, he couldn’t imagine the angel returning it, and now that he was? Something important had definitely short-circuited and it was so stupid and it wasn’t him, so instead of dwelling how much of a fucking girl he was being about this, the hunter raised his hands to the vesse’ls jaw and tipped his head to press more firmly into the gesture, olive eyes falling to half mast.
The angel couldn’t help but think that was a strange answer, of course though, he understood. He didn’t know the feeling of loss in heaven. He never lost any brothers or any friends. It wasn’t until he came to earth and Fell that he experienced true pain.
The worse pain Castiel could remember was not being blown to bits by Lucifer or being ripped apart from the inside by the leviathans, it was when he saved Dean from the attacking demon. He asked Dean to stand behind him and he refused. It was the feeling of absolute loss.
Life on earth without the Winchesters didn’t matter. If it wasn’t for them, he would be in heaven, a mindless warrior.
“Was that worse than when he fell into the Pit?” Castiel asked, brow creasing. Sam had died more than once — they all had. Perhaps the first time was always the worse though. He wouldn’t know. Every time he lost the Winchesters he, or another angel, would just bring them back.
Was it worse? Hell, it was awful every time it happened—he’d seen Sam die enough times for it to leave permanent scars in his soul, ones that he was sure Castiel had felt when he pulled him out of Hell.
The hunter sighed and stretched out on the bed completely, television forgotten about and fingers laced over his stomach as his eyes searched the ceiling above for a way that he could answer that question. “…Yeah, I guess, in some ways,” he admitted quietly, “I guess—I just never expected it to happen? Watch Sammy die, y’know? And he was right there. I didn’t even notice, I could’ve stopped it if I had gotten to him a few seconds faster. I never thought I’d have to watch him die—sorta blew a hole in me…”
For an angel, Castiel sure sucked at keeping himself groomed. Sure, after every fight, after every stab or bullet wound, he would returned completely mended, from the skin to the threads of Jimmy’s clothes. But his hair was always sticking every which way, and his tie was constantly askew, either on backwards, or the skinny end sticking out past the thicker end, and the lapels of his coat never matched up, and the top button of his white shirt was always undone (which wasn’t always necessarily a bad thing).
And his wings—every time Dean was able to grab a chance at seeing them, they were always fluffed, like someone had run their hands through them and tousled the feathers. And when he reached out to do the very same, he found that they were still soft, still warm from body heat, or whatever it was that kept them warm. Probably some celestial mumbo jumbo.
It should have been Sam—he was the one who tended to geek out and poke and prod at whatever it was that he found fascinating. But this time, it was Dean taking his place, standing a few paces away from Castiel’s back, fingertips combing slowly through the raven feathers that stretched out on either side of his head. They were huge like this, much bigger than he anticipated them to be, and he supposed he should have felt small, shadowed under this angel’s grace.
But instead, all he felt was safety.
Castiel studied his face momentarily, before the wing that was flopped weakly over his arm lifted and brushed over the hunter’s shoulder in thanks before it drew back quickly, settling back in place. Heavenly gestures we feeling consistently more unnatural by the day. A year ago, that would have terrified him. The last thing he wanted was to become more like humans, but now, it didn’t seem so awful. It was far more enjoyable than heaven.
“Good.” The angel commented, voice muffled as he pressed his head against the pillow a bit farther. That was something he didn’t like of earth — you always owed someone else something. He owed Dean, Dean owed him — at the end of the day, it didn’t matter. They would both still do just about anything for each other.
Castiel quieted then, nuzzling his face into the pillow. His wings weren’t bothering his much anymore. They itched a bit, but only the largest gashes stung at all. They wouldn’t stop fidgeting though and that was a constant reminder they were out and palpable. The idea of being comfortable for the following hours seemed impossible. A distraction was necessary. “Dean, what is the worst wound you have received?” It was the first thing that came to mind.
That was definitely a question to ask—Dean couldn’t blame him. He wasn’t really much for talking, even among Sam. They just sort of existed around each other, not really needing to say anything, but occasionally, one or the other would break, and one or the other would humor him.
Still, the question was an interesting one. Castiel had put him back together—he surely knew how many bones he’d broken, how many ribs he’d cracked, how many times he’d dislocated each shoulder, how many stitches he’d gotten all together up until the day of his birth to the last day of the Crossroads deal. None of his old scars remained, skin fresh and new, only to be replaced by new scars, by new broken bones.
"You mean aside from the dog kibble the Hellhounds turned me into?" he asked slowly, arching a brow at the stationary angel. “‘Cause that hurt like nobody’s bitch." The worst wound, huh? Did it have to be a physical one? "—I guess… when Sam died? I mean… I didn’t bleed, no one stabbed me, no one broke anything. But until I remembered about the Crossroad demons, I thought it was it, y’know? That one achievement I had in life? Raising Sammy with Dad, teaching him to shoot, teaching him to hit on girls, whatever… everything just kind of… blew out as soon as I realised he was dead. If that makes any sort of sense, I dunno."
Castiel brow knitted and he gawked until he saw the grin. The occasional warning that a joke was coming would have been wonderful. He relaxed back, eyes soon finding the crow feathers that quivered under the hand. He wished he had a bit more control over them. If an elder brother would have saw him, one with less sensitive wings, he would be the target point of ruthless jokes, especially from Gabriel or Balthazar. He was suddenly very happy they were in private.
“That’s what friends do.” The angel repeated, testing the words on his tongue. He had to take a few seconds before he finally seemed to accept this. It might have been common among human, but it was never spoken in heaven. He was ‘friends’ with several angels in heaven — Uriel, Anna, Balthazar — but never like he was with Dean. He was so different than them.
“Alright.” Castiel agreed at last, nodding against his pillow. “And if I don’t repay you for this, you can’t repay me for the things I have or will do, correct? We will always be even?”
"Always," Dean reaffirmed, his touch retreating only so he could elbow the pillow behind him into a more comfortable lump and then shift down to settle in beside the angel, hands tucked neatly behind his head and fingers laced together. He didn’t want it to matter what they did for each other, he didn’t want a Hunter’s Code of Honor between them—a hunter saves your ass, and you owe them a favor, no questions asked. He didn’t want to have that sort of relationship with Castiel.
More of a mutual agreement, the understanding that they were both willing to take shit for each other without expecting anything in return. Whether or not the angel truly understood that was yet to be figured out, but he was sure he got the gist of it.
Because as nervous as he was about Castiel becoming more and more human the more time he spent on earth, there were some things that he wanted the other to understand, at least for the future, were he ever to walk the earth again once he and his brother were long gone from this earth—because who knew where he and Sam would end up, if they still held a reserved spot up in Heaven.