The groan of John's truck rolling up the motel parking lot echoes through Castiel's ears at three o'clock in the morning. With great reluctance, he pulls away from the comfort of Dean’s embrace to leave the room, but not before pulling the blankets of the bed up to Dean's shoulders and brushing his lips against the boy's forehead. Just as he closes the door quietly behind him, he could swear he saw Dean's lips curl into a soft smile.
Within hours of returning and stumbling into bed, John is already wide awake with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the newspaper in the other. Normally, the man would sleep through noon on the days he's back. Dean and Sam seem just as surprised as Castiel is when they shuffle out of their room and see their father sitting on the dining table like he had been there all along. On the table in front of him are a couple bags with the word ‘IHOP’ on them.
"Hey, Dad," says Dean. "When'd you come in?"
"A few hours ago,” grunts John, not looking up from his paper. “Eat your breakfast before it gets cold.”
Castiel stands to the side as Dean and Sam move past him to the table, digging into their food with enthusiasm. "Ooh, pancakes!" Dean exclaims. He stabs a slice with his plastic fork and holds it up to Castiel. "Here, try some." By the time Castiel's sitting down on the table, Dean has a plate set out for him and is in the process of pouring a copious amount of syrup on his pancakes.
"Is this much syrup really necessary?" Castiel asks. He's been to diners before. He knows that the average human wouldn't put this much on their food. Then again, Dean isn’t an average human. He’s far from it, in fact.
"Definitely," says Dean, not skipping a beat.
Sam rolls his eyes. "Sure, if you wanna get diabetes."
"Well, Cas is an alien so he won't get diabetes."
Castiel laughs along with the brothers good-naturedly as he begins cutting his pancakes into delicate slices. He catches a glimpse of John staring at them in wonder and a hint of jealousy from the corner of his eye. This is what you missed, Castiel tells him silently. This is what you miss when you let the past consume you. Your family will grow and move on without you.
After a long moment of contemplation, John finally seems to have settled on some sort of conclusion and goes back to his paper. But Castiel doesn't get the sense that he is actually reading it anymore. He's too lost in his own dark thoughts.
Their next hunt is at Centennial, Colorado, where a string of deaths (particularly males, which is already enough cause for concern) has been occurring.
“Maybe it’s a Woman in White. Or another Devil Woman,” Dean ponders.
John grunts, “Would be, except they all died in their homes. Their partners all say the same thing; they go to bed healthy and don’t wake up again the next morning.”
Sam frowns. “Partners?”
Suddenly, John looks as if he’d much rather be anywhere else than here. “Erm, all the men who died... they were... ” He doesn’t need to elaborate as the truth dawns on them at the same time. Sam’s eyes widen but not in revulsion. He simply looks curious.
Dean raises an eyebrow. Underneath the table he squeezes Castiel’s hand. “That’s... different,” he says carefully.
John nods in agreement. “Dunno why this son of a bitch is targeting... well, those kinds of men,” He clears his throat awkwardly. “but we gotta stop it either way. Got any idea what it is, Caspar?”
Castiel shrugs, a human gesture he picked up from Dean recently. “Your guess is as good as mine.”
After a day’s worth of traveling, they’re only three-quarters of the way to Centennial when they stop at a rundown motel for the night. As soon as they’re settled in, John leaves without a word. “He’s gonna get drunk,” grumbles Sam, with an obvious tinge of hurt in his voice. “He’s always like this.”
Not even Dean protests as he usually does when Sam complains about their father. Even without saying anything Castiel knows that he is thinking the same thing. Why their father always tries to drown his sorrows and memories with poison. But Dean shrugs, silently asking, “What can you do?” and bears it like he always does.
"I call first shower!" he hollers. But instead of dashing towards the bathroom as he usually does after calling 'dibs' on it, he turns to Castiel with a raised brow. "Wanna join me, Cas?"
Sam cringes. "Oh, ew! Too much information, dude."
Castiel tilts his head to the side. "You know I don't need to bathe," he says carefully.
Dean laughs and grabs his hand anyway, automatically tangling their fingers together in a familiar grip. "Well, I do, but I might need your help reaching my backside—"
Somewhere off to the side, Sam lets out a loud groan. "Oh God! So much therapy, so much therapy!"
"Is there something wrong with Sam?"
Dean smirks. "Ignore him, he's just being a prude. Come on... " He leans in until they're cheek to cheek and nips the underside of Castiel's earlobe, a spot they recently discovered could possibly drive Castiel mad. "... unless you don't want to," he whispers. His warm—too warm—breath tickles Castiel's ear.
And suddenly he gets it. His grip on Dean's hand tightens. "I want to," he says forcefully. Dean's smirk widens and his eyes darken with desire as he tugs Castiel into the bathroom.
Just before he kicks the door close, Castiel can hear Sam letting out a sound not unlike that of a dying kitten. "Dean, you jerk, I'm using the bathroom after you!"
John is all business the moment they enter the city the next morning. They stop only long enough for him to stick his head out of his truck and bark, “Dean, you’re going to do the interviews with Caspar today. Sam, you’re going to help me with research.” His tone leaves no room for argument.
Dean nods, his face the picture of solemnity. “Yes, sir.” He gently nudges a reluctant Sam out of the Impala.
As soon as John and Sam have driven off—presumably to the library—Dean turns to Castiel with a worried look. “Picking up anything, Cas?”
Castiel shakes his head. “No.” He doesn’t sense anything out of the ordinary. On the one hand, that means they shouldn’t be up against anything too dangerous other than a restless spirit or simply an angry witch. On the other hand, that still doesn’t narrow their list of possible monsters by much.
Dean heaves a sigh, sounding like a tired old man. “And here I thought we’d get this over with by lunch time.”
Unfortunately for Dean, they’re still no closer to learning any new information even after several very long interviews. All they know now is that the thing they’re facing is a spirit. Castiel detected its taint at every house they visited and it was always the same; the smell of gravel and dust fused together with unquenchable rage.
“My very own EMF,” Dean teases, wrapping an arm around Castiel’s shoulder. “I don’t suppose you know who our spook is, do you?”
“No. We may have to rely on your father and brother for that information.”
As if on cue, Dean’s phone rings shrilly. Castiel can hear John’s deep voice crackling on the other line. “Dean, come to the Central Library. We’ve got something.”
“Hey,” Dean said before he could stop himself, “Do I know you?”
Okay, so while Dean Smith was technically straight, he would not be the first to deny that he... experimented a little during college. Now unlike that creepy Sasquatch he met in the elevator the other day, this guy was actually Dean’s type.
His hair was a mess, making him look as if he’d just stumbled out of bed, and boy, wasn’t that a nice image? His lips were so kissable it physically hurt for Dean to keep himself in check. He had the bluest eyes Dean had ever seen. The way he stared intently at Dean like he could see all of his thoughts laid out bare just for him was, to say the least, nerve-wracking.
At the same time, it sparked something within Dean. Something alive. Something desperate to claw its way out of him and wrap around this guy and never let go.
But that was just creepy so Dean buried that feeling as far down as he could.
The guy cocked his head to the left and the sight reminded Dean of a confused puppy. “No, you don’t,” he replied mournfully. His voice was so low it was practically a growl and it did things to Dean. Specifically, the lower regions of his body.
“I’m Dean, Dean Smith,” he blurted, thrusting his hand out without thinking.
Tall, Pale but Handsome smiled warmly at him. “I know,” he said, taking Dean’s hand with both of his. “My name is Castiel.”
“Nice to meet you, Castiel,” said Dean, smiling back. “Hey, um, wanna grab some lunch together?”
It took him a while to realize what he’d just said but before he could start backpedaling, Castiel’s smile widened and Dean promptly forgot how to breathe.
“I’d like that very much.”
Sam drops the messy stack of papers on the table unceremoniously. “We’ve figured out a pattern,” he announces proudly.
“Besides the fact that this thing’s a homophobe?”
“Yes,” says Sam. “Here, take a look at these pictures.”
Dean and Castiel lean forward to do so. “These are the victims,” says Castiel, instantly recognizing some of the pictures from those at the victims’ homes.
“Yeah, so?” says Dean.
“So,” continues John. “Notice anything about them in particular?”
Dean narrows his eyes, observing each picture more closely now. “They... They all have brown hair,” he says wondrously. “It’s not a coincidence, is it?”
Sam nods. “We looked through the papers and found something that might explain it.” He points to an old newspaper dated to three weeks ago. “Before all these deaths started occurring, a girl committed suicide. Get this: ‘Lauren Bray, aged nineteen, died yesterday night after her long-time boyfriend Nathan Harris ended their relationship over another man. The man in question was Daniel Turner, who admitted to the Centennial Citizen that he and Harris had been seeing each other for years and decided to finally make their relationship official.
“‘Bray, on discovering her boyfriend’s affair, grew furious and, according to Harris, even “violent”. She demanded Harris to take her back otherwise she would kill herself. Unfortunately, Harris and Turner dismissed her threat and Bray jumped to her death from a window on the tenth floor of the Republic Plaza that very night.’” Sam points to two pictures on the article. One is of the girl, still alive and happy. She was pretty—with golden hair that tumbled down to her waist like a waterfall, tanned skin, and innocent sapphire blue eyes. The other picture contains a shot of Harris and Turner. The man on the right is a blond, just like Lauren, and the one on the left has dark brown hair. “He kinda looks like you, Cas,” notes Sam.
Dean grimaces. “Well, if that isn’t the most screwed up thing ever then I don’t know what is.”
Castiel whispers a silent prayer for the girl’s soul. He’s certain now that she is the one behind all the deaths. After dying with so much pain and hatred in her heart, it would have been impossible for her to have passed on peacefully.
“That sort of explains why her targets are so specific; they all look like Turner. I’m surprised she hasn’t gone after him yet, though,” muses Sam.
“It’s possible that she doesn’t remember him due to the traumatic nature of her death,” suggests Castiel. “She can’t recall who Daniel Turner is despite remembering what he looks like in such vivid detail. Therefore, she can only go after the most likely candidates until she finally finds him. But even then, I doubt she’ll ever stop.”
John nods, taking this all in silently. “Alright, here’s what we do... ”
Harris blinks. "So you're telling me that the reason all these people are dying is because my dead ex-girlfriend is jealous of my boyfriend?" Everyone in the room except Castiel shuffles awkwardly, trying their best to avoid each other's gaze. Even John, one of the most hard-hearted man Castiel has ever met, looks a little uncomfortable. Harris's eyes narrow. "Get out of my house," he says slowly. His voice is quiet and cold as ice. "before I call the police." He steps in front of Turner, stretching his arms out over him protectively.
John, Dean, and Castiel are up on their feet and moving towards the door in one swift motion. Castiel pauses at the doorway to look back and his eyes meet Turner's. The man looks frightened and Castiel feels pity for him.
"Let's go, Cas," mutters Dean, gently steering him down the steps. The door slams shut almost immediately after Castiel steps out.
"Looks like we're onto Plan B now," John says gruffly.
Plan B goes horribly, disastrously wrong before they manage to exorcise the spirit of poor Lauren Bray.
While John and Sam had gone to salt and burn the body, Dean and Castiel watch the house from the cover of the Impala. Not long after, Lauren Bray makes her presence known in all her hideous glory. She attacks Castiel before he could even register her spirit was even present, suddenly materializing on top of his body with her icy, decaying hands curled tightly around his neck.
“Killkillkilltheonewhostolehimfromme!” she caws in a chilling voice.
Castiel grabs her arm in an last attempt to wrench her off him but her grip, fueled by pure hatred and unhinged rage, is too strong.
He catches a glimpse of Dean’s face—fear is written all over it like an open book—and, even as his gaze begins to dim, thinks, No! It can’t end like this!
He vaguely hears Dean yell "Cas!" before the air explodes with gunshots. Lauren Bray disappeared from view with a haunting shriek. “Oh my God,” Dean breathes, “Cas, are you okay?” His hands scrabbles all over Castiel’s body, searching for damage. Even when he finds none he doesn’t let go.
He’s afraid, Castiel realizes, he’s afraid that I’ll disappear. He gently pushes Dean off him. “I’m fine,” he says calmly. “Let’s worry about—”
At that moment, Harris bursts out of his house, dressed only in a robe and slippers. "What the Hell is going on—" The words die on his lips when Lauren suddenly morphs into existence barely an inch fron his face. She could’ve kissed him if she so wanted to. "L-Lauren?" he whispers, confused and afraid.
She stares at him unblinkingly for what seems like an eternity. Then, something flickers in her eyes. Recognition. She opens her mouth and lets out a terrible scream, “KILLKILLKILL!”She disappears within seconds, leaving a misty white trail behind her as she slips into the house.
"Fuck!" Dean is instantly out of the car and running up to the house with lightning speed.
"What the fuck was that?" Harris steps in his path. "That was... That was... "
"Your crazy bitch ex," Dean snarls, roughly shoving him to the side. "She's gonna kill David unless you move right now and let me do my job." Even before Harris could take a step back, Dean is already barreling through the door and up the stairs.
But he’s too late.
"We did it! We burned her body! We—" Sam stops as he approaches the bedroom and catches the look on Harris's face; absolute despair.
This is the first time Castiel doesn’t feel victorious after a hunt. Instead, he feels hollow. One look at the Winchesters confirm that he’s not the only one. The expression on Dean’s face is unreadable but his eyes hide nothing from Castiel; he’s terrified, angry, and upset all at once. The light in his eyes, the one that Castiel usually sees at the end of a hunt, is absent.
"He's dead," Harris chokes out, tightening his grip on Turner's cold hand as he bows his head. "I can't—" He cries openly in front of them all.
Turner died in his sleep, unaware of what happened to him at the very end. How Lauren Bray wrapped her hands around his neck and squeezed the life out of him. How, only seconds after the act, her body was finally torched and her spirit forced to cross the Other Side. "I'm sorry," says Castiel, meaning it with all his heart despite knowing his words will provide little comfort.
Harris whips his head up and looks around the room with the wild eyes of a man who just lost everything he loved. "He's gone... D-David, he... " He says no more as he dissolves into sobs.
They all return to the motel that night in mournful silence. Almost immediately after dropping off his bag, John is on his feet once again and out the door within seconds. The groan of his truck as he pulls out of the parking lot and, presumably, to the nearest bar reverberates in the room. Sam wordlessly slips into one of the rooms without looking at Dean or Castiel at all.
The moment the door shuts with a ‘click!’ Dean immediately pounces on Castiel, kissing him with so much desperation that all he can do is hold on. Eventually Dean has to surface for air but his arms remain locked on Castiel like those of an octopus. “God,” he breathes, burying his face in Castiel’s shoulder and inhaling deeply, “I thought... I thought she was gonna get you.”
Castiel tightens his hold. “I’m alright,” he whispers into Dean’s hair. “I’m here.”
They stay like this for a long time until Dean mutters something that causes Castiel’s whole body to tense up. He pulls away a little, though he still keeps his arms around Dean in reassurance. “What?”
Dean’s face is redder than a tomato and he bites his lip. “Will... Will you fuck me?” His voice is the softest Castiel has ever heard it.
“I’ve never done it before,” he says hesitantly.
Dean smiles weakly. “It’s okay. I—It’s been a while since I’ve done it. Well, I’ve never done it with another guy but... ” He trails off, looking increasingly unsure. “Um, if you don’t want to... ”
An image of Dean spread out on a bed before him flashes through Castiel’s mind so quickly he almost misses it but it’s enough for him to make his decision. “I trust you,” he says earnestly. Just to get his point across, he presses his lips against Dean’s.
Dean lets out a shuddering sigh and the invisible load on his shoulders vanishes. “Okay,” he replies, smiling almost shyly now.
He leads him to what was originally John’s bedroom. It’s completely untouched. As soon as the door is shut Dean gently guides him towards the bed. “First things first: you gotta strip.”
Castiel does and he can feel Dean’s eyes on him the whole time, drinking him in. His heart is pounding rapidly in his chest and he fights to restrain himself. They’ve never gone this far before; up till now they always exchanged blowjobs and handjobs.
When it’s Dean’s turn to undress Castiel can’t look away from the sight. The ripple of his muscle and skin against the dim glow of the light outside the window is hypnotic and Castiel aches to reach out and touch him. “See something you like?” Dean teases, nodding at Castiel’s hardening cock.
I see something I love. “The view isn’t too bad.”
Dean laughs and pushes Castiel down on the bed, following suit once his back lands on the scratchy mattress. He reaches the side of the bed to grab a couple items from his duffel bag—a bottle of lube and a condom. “Cas,” he says smoothly. “I’m gonna show you something amazing.”
It doesn’t take long for him to have Castiel writhing and gasping under his skillful touch. He had long memorized the map that is Castiel’s body and knows exactly where to touch to set him on fire. Dean preps himself quickly, then he works on expertly rolling the condom down Castiel’s penis and eliciting a hiss from him. Before Castiel’s aware of it Dean’s sinking down on him roughly but quickly—too quickly—and Castiel cries out at the sudden warmth surrounding him and just the very presence of Dean.
“Dean—” Castiel’s hands latch onto his hips, trying to find something solid to hold onto. His mind is buzzing with a thousand sensations and he’s drowning in it all.
“Just,” Dean gasps and he has to hold onto the headboard for support. “give me a minute.”
They wait, trying to steady their breaths as they do so, until Dean begins to rock his hips up and down and Castiel thrusts up to meet him every time. They start out messily but eventually find a rhythm that has them both gasping and moaning in ecstasy. A few seconds later Dean guides Castiel’s hand to his dick and the noises he makes at the contact goes straight through Castiel’s ears and to his groin.
He’s almost convinced that he’s flying; there’s no other way to explain this feeling in his body, as if electricity and fire are simultaneously coursing through his veins. He feels heat—burning heat—pooling in his stomach, the pressure building up, up, up as he drives deeper into Dean. “Dean, I—”
“It’s okay,” he pants. “Just let it go, Cas, come on... ”
They come together with a cry and Castiel, for a brief moment, feels as if he’s floating in the air, no longer trapped in his vessel and it’s glorious.
He comes back to Dean collapsing on top of him, breathing heavily. “That was—”
Castiel nods in agreement. Dean chuckles and kisses him lazily, wrapping himself around Castiel like a blanket. It’s quiet for a long time, the silence only being occasionally broken by their heavy breathing.
Castiel doesn’t know what suddenly possesses him to say it but he does so anyway, “I love you, Dean.”
Dean tenses in his grip and for a minute Castiel is afraid. Afraid that this relationship between him and Dean, still so new and raw, is about to shatter just because he couldn’t control himself. But he doesn’t regret it, not really.
“I... ” I love you too, are the words Dean doesn’t say out loud but Castiel can hear them echo from within his soul, loud and clear like a psalm.
He kisses Dean and wraps his arms more securely around him in reassurance. “I know.”
“God, I’m such a girl,” Dean chokes, his voice caught between a laugh and a sob. “I was so fucking scared that she was gonna get you and I just can’t—”
“I’m alright now,” Castiel assures him, pressing a light kiss into his hair. “I’m not going to leave you.” Ever.
Dean looks up at him. His eyes are filled with hope and fear.
“I promise,” adds Castiel.
Dean smiles and Castiel feels as if he’s staring into the sun for the first time. “I’ll hold you to that.”
Chapter Eight →