The explosion that occurs at the moment of impact is strong enough to knock Dean sideways despite the fact that the wind and the rain and the lightning and thunder die the minute the last shard is freed from the trunk of the tree. Dean grunts and stumbles and almost manages not to fall if not for the unidentified lump at his feet that trips him, sending him flying face-first into the muddy ground with a grunt and a thud that knocks the wind out of his lungs for a moment.
The thud is his, though the grunt is not; Dean turns bewildered eyes to the body on the ground next to him and sees Balthazar, bloody and bruised enough to be doing a fair impression of how Dean had looked in the immediate moments after his encounter with Lucifer in Sam’s body. “Jesus,” Dean hisses instinctively, when he sees the extent of the damage.
Balthazar groans again, this time of his own volition, and feebly manages to roll onto his back, blinking up at the suddenly clear night sky with a look on his face Dean has seen too many times before, mostly on homeless veterans shaking in freeway underpasses and on late night park benches. “Wipe that pitying look off your face,” Balthazar croaks determinedly at him. “I don’t need it or want it. Besides, if you think I look bad,” the angel drawls in a raspy, pain-filled voice, “you should see Crowley.” There’s the semblance of a satisfied smile on his face when he says that, and Dean can only assume that the demon got caught by Raphael —with some help from Balthazar no doubt—for trying to double deal between warring angels. Good. “Apparently there is an advantage to being related to the people torturing you. Mostly in that they want to make it last longer.” Balthazar giggles a little to himself.
Dean would take a moment to ask Balthazar if he’s really okay or if the sudden wordiness is a side effect of whatever brain-scrambling torture techniques Raphael does up in Heaven, except that back at the base of the tree, important things are happening, all of which consist of Cas’s chest looking a lot like a nuclear reactor. Raphael has been blown backwards by the impact of the shard-on-angel light show as well but didn’t get knocked down, and Dean squints and watches Cas’s eyes go flashy and glowy as he works to incorporate the last of Gabriel’s grace into his system without sending up a giant mushroom cloud of angelic destruction all around them in the meantime.
“What’s happened?” Balthazar demands, apparently coming back to himself enough to realize something has. He turns and hisses, struggling onto his elbows to see what Dean sees through the crack of the one eye he has left that isn’t currently completely swollen shut.
“Cas got it,” Dean mutters, unable to take his eyes off of the sight as Cas screams and Raphael stares in horror at the swirling vortex that looks like a parent of mini-Cas as it rotates around Cas’s body like a freaky carrousel of airborne fire. “He got the last piece.”
“Oh, good,” Balthazar breathes, though sounds more sarcastic than not. Dean kind of gets that actually, given the circumstances, and he tries to scramble to his feet, to get over to Cas and do, well, something. He’s not sure what, exactly, but he sure as hell doesn’t want to sit here and wait for good things to happen.
But then Balthazar grabs him and yanks him back to the ground; Dean’s chin hits the dirt with a painful clack and despite how fucked up Balthazar looks right now, he’s not above reminding Dean that he’s still an angel and has a grip around his wrist like a steel trap.
“What the hell?” Dean hisses under his breath, struggling to free his sleeve from Balthazar’s grip. “Cas needs…”
“To defeat Raphael,” Balthazar wheezes determinedly, and seems to have sobered up completely in light of Cas going nuclear on them. “Otherwise all of this, otherwise losing him, will be for nothing.”
Dean glares, hand automatically going up to the grace around his neck. “He’s still alive. He’s still here, goddammit!” He refuses to believe he’s lost something when he can see it standing there, right in front of him.
Balthazar finally notices the vial, the determined light shining out from it, between the cracks of Dean’s fingers. He looks confused at first, before his bloodied features soften a little bit. He lets out a disbelieving huff. “So he is,” he murmurs, shaking his head. “How does he always…”
Whatever he is about to say gets cut off when something a lot like a shockwave explodes outward through the cemetery, sending Dean toppling to the side again and cracking or outright upturning a number of headstones. Dean suspects Balthazar’s death grip on his wrist is the only thing that keeps him from flying backwards and braining himself on the loose bits of stone debris swirling in the air.
After that, for what seems like a very long time, it is eerily quiet in the graveyard again.
And then, minutes or hours later, it is Raphael’s voice they hear first, his horror and his disbelief. “No,” the archangel intones, sounding a lot like Dean feels. “This is not possible. This should not be possible.”
When Dean looks up he sees the archangel braced against the fence of the cemetery, eyes wide as he stares at the figure kneeling at the base of the tree, the smoking, glowing vessel of Cas as he studies his own hands in wonder, blue eyes awed and curious and somehow, chillingly cold. The world around him, for the moment, seems forgotten.
“Anything is possible if it is the will of our Father,” Castiel answers eventually, and rises to his feet in one fluid motion, a crackle of energy sparking in the air around him like static with each movement. He suddenly seems too big for his vessel, for skinny Jimmy Novak’s body, and Dean swallows in apprehension at the sight, at the foreign, unfamiliar glint in Castiel’s eye that lacks any of the warmth and wonder he had come to associate with that angel, the one who loved all of his Father’s creations enough to die for them.
Part of Dean immediately knows what he is looking at is not Castiel. Not anymore.
Raphael doesn’t seem to notice. “You,” he growls, “can no longer use the name of our Father. Not as you have become, Castiel. You are an abomination to his laws.”
Castiel’s brow furrows. “Castiel.” He is still studying his own finger tips, as if they contain all the secrets in the universe. “That is my name? Why do you greet the occasion of my birth with such hostility, brother?”
Raphael steps away from the gate when he hears that, circling back warily around the tree, where the silver edge of his archangel sword glints, buried tip-down in one of its massive roots. “You know this already. What games are you playing?” he demands, though he seems a lot less confident now that Castiel seems to be bigger than him again.
“I am newly created,” Castiel answers flatly, and finally puts his hand down in order to study Raphael instead. “You are my brother. Raphael. I know this as well.”
Dean feels sick.
Beside him, Balthazar mutters curses under his breath in languages Dean does not understand. The meaning is implicit though, and the expression he’s making is universal.
“No,” Dean whispers, fingers tightening around the vial that has suddenly lost some of its glow. “He’s not…”
“Gone,” Balthazar answers, and sounds genuinely mournful, as if he is in more pain now than he’d been when Raphael had tortured him. “No trace of him left in there.”
Meanwhile, Castiel closes his eyes again, takes a deep breath full of air as if he’s reading the textbook of the universe in his mind through the oxygen around him. “This is Earth. Father’s favored creation. We are in the year 2011.”
Raphael slowly kneels to pick up his sword as Castiel rattles off his random facts, thoughtful. “We are,” he says, sounding curious, eyes sharp.
Castiel turns troubled eyes on him. “Brother,” he begins, “why have we not brought about the apocalypse as God had commanded? Why does the Earth continue?”
“Balls,” Balthazar murmurs beside Dean. Dean echoes the sentiment, but can’t seem to get enough control of himself to form the words out loud. The grace in his hand dims further yet, light plummeting in time with his own overwhelming despair.
Raphael however, looks like he just won the apocalypse jackpot. “A good question, brother,” he rumbles, using his vessel’s voice in its most soothing incarnation. “Humanity got in the way. Do you know the name Dean Winchester?”
Recognition sparks in Castiel’s eyes, enough to let Dean’s chest fill with a brief flare of triumph. But then Castiel simply answers, “Yes. You speak of the Michael sword.”
Raphael relaxes, making his sword disappear as he heads straight towards Castiel, all relaxed lines in his vessel’s smart pantsuit. “Yes. He refused to conform to his destiny,” Raphael intones. “Humans are very disobedient.”
“Then we will force them to obey,” Castiel says. “I know it is within our power to do so. Why have we not already, and brought paradise unto the deserving?”
“For one so newly made, you are wise,” Raphael chuckles. “I agree with you; there should no longer be any delay. What has gone wrong in our Father’s plans can yet be made right, little brother. We have the vessels, and a means with which to open the prison that contains our brothers. With your help, I can return us to that which should already be.”
Castiel considers this. “I will do as you say,” he answers eventually, voice blank, devoid of any feeling at all.
Dean feels something a lot like despair crawling under his skin, working its way through every vein in his body like a poison. “No,” he grounds out. “It doesn’t end this way. Not after everything… we can’t…we can’t…”
“Then what?” Balthazar mutters, clearly already resigned to this, to dying face down in a muddy field full of already dead humans. “What can we possibly do? Cassy is gone. Whatever is standing there in his place doesn’t know you, Winchester. It doesn’t care.”
Something inside of Dean refuses to believe that. It is unacceptable. Cas has died many times, but he has never for a moment been gone. There’s always been something; he’s always found a way back.
Instinctively, as it has countless times these past few weeks, Dean feels his eyes going down to the glass vial resting over his heart, to look at the fingers he has wrapped tightly around a the warm container holding the essence of the Castiel he knows. Mini-Cas thrums reassuringly back at him, though not as bright as before, as it had been in Sweet’s living room earlier, flush in the glow of Dean’s unwitting realizations.
Apparently it’s mini-Cas’s turn to reciprocate a sense of hope, because in a flash of inspiration, Dean grabs the chord and tugs it over his neck so that the vial hangs between he and Balthazar like a pendulum. “The grace,” he says desperately. “I’ve still got this. You said it was important. That’s got to mean something, right? This is part of him that’s still here.”
Some of the luster returns to mini-Cas’s glow at the praise. Dean’s always known Cas to be a stubborn mother fucker, known that the angel is always ready to fight for what matters most. The grace he holds right here in his hands, Dean realizes, can’t be any different than its master. For either of them.
Right now, to Dean, this—Cas— is what matters most.
Balthazar’s eyes fall on the bright container of grace speculatively. “Well,” he whispers, reaching out to brush a fingertip across the glass, “it’s certainly looking up from the last time we spoke.” But then the look on his face crumbles back into resignation. “But it’s not enough,” he tells Dean. “It can’t be. To think that he has a chance against an archangel brainwashing of this magnitude would defy the laws of all creation.”
Dean almost says that it wouldn’t be the first time Cas has done that, but before he can, Balthazar just shakes his head and lets his hand drop, away from Mini-Cas, like it hurts too much to look at it. “You have no idea what an archangel’s grace contains, human. It would swallow this tiny one up in a blink. Erase it forever. Then there really would be nothing left of Cassy on this plane of existence. Do you want to chance that?”
Dean glares. “It’s Cas,” he insists. “All we need to do is reach him. I just need to…I just need to get a moment with him, and then he’ll remember. I’ll make him remember.”
Balthazar’s answering chuckle is bitter. “You don’t seem to be able to grasp basic concepts of size and strength, stupid little human,” he hisses. “The strong eat the weak. You’d be sending what remains of Cassy to a bloody, horrible, exploding death. Again. And you’d have no one to blame but yourself. Again.”
Dean feels the answering flare of indignation from mini-Cas, sees it when the vial of grace glows threateningly brighter. He can tell just by that that it wants to go. Fuck Balthazar. He’s not the one Cas is profoundly bonded to. He doesn’t know that Cas can take all comers, that size doesn’t matter, that Dean isn’t letting his angel go without the goddamn fight to end all fights.
He’s all in. And for a Winchester, all means all.
And so he turns away from Balthazar, fixes his eyes on Cas. “Just you and me, man,” he says to the vial, and the grace inside of it swirls in ready eagerness. Dean manages a small huff of laughter. “So what are we gonna do?” he prompts, voice gentling. “Hold hands and sail off this cliff together?”
Mini-Cas practically throws itself against the glass in agreement.
And that’s that.
Dean gets to his feet, holding the vial up in front of his eyes. “You sure?” he asks the glowing light inside, one last time. He already knows the answer. It’s the same one he’d give if he were the one in the little guy’s shoes.
Mini-Cas just thrums impatiently, butting against the walls of the vial, small and determined and not the least bit afraid of what might come, reminding him of a time many years ago in a prophet’s kitchen, when an angel defiantly shouted to the heavens that he would hold them off, that he would hold them all off.
Dean can’t help but smile. That, he thinks, is definitely all Cas.
It’s enough for him.
He presses the glass to his lips and whispers a quiet, private, “You can do this, man,” against it and hopes it knows that he means I believe, I love, I hope. “I’m here waiting,” he adds after that, voice quietly fierce. “For whenever you get back.”
And then he closes his eyes and smashes the vial against the ground.
The glass shatters into a thousand pieces at his feet.
Castiel looks upon the world with wonder as he is suddenly made aware of it, as he is brought to completion. He opens his eyes for the first time, a newborn angel in the service of his Father. An archangel. He does not expect to find himself on Earth instead of Heaven when he comes into awareness, but if this is the will of his Father then so be it. He will serve in any capacity required of him, will take in this world as if it is the most important one, with all its sights and smells and sounds.
Raphael, his older, but somehow much smaller brother, smiles at him in welcome now, extends a hand for Castiel to grasp between his own as all the knowledge of the universe flows into the newborn archangel’s fledgling awareness, filling him up, explaining to him where he is and what is to be done, who his friends are, who his enemies are, what his mission must be.
It is overwhelming and vast. It is everything and Castiel soaks it in, explores the encyclopedia of his grace for information and knowledge and experience, feeling as if he could never reach the end if he tried but also that he could do anything and everything all at once. He can’t help but feel tempted to try, to push the edges of his awareness to their limits and see what he finds there, if there is an end at all to the glut of knowledge available to him. There is no end he finds, after a moment and a lifetime of trying.
There is however, a voice. It is faint and strained and he cannot make out what it is saying exactly, only that it is warm, and that it is flashing warning at him, flashing feelings of fear and danger and loss.
He does not like it, and pulls away—far away—back to the present moment and the familiarity of his brother. He banishes that unknown voice to the very depths of his mind and hopes it will remain there so that he may accomplish that which their Father set in motion millennia ago.
“Castiel,” Raphael breathes, when he sees that the young archangel has returned to the present moment. “You must choose now,” he says, almost impatient even as their arms remain clasped together in brotherly affection. “Are we, or are we not in agreement that it is time for this world to end? That the cage must be opened and Lucifer must be freed in order to set the apocalypse in motion?”
“We must do as our Father ordered us,” Castiel answers, slightly puzzled as to why he and any of his brethren would be in disagreement. To disagree is a human flaw, he thinks. A consequence of free will. Angels have no need for the term, let alone need to experience it.
The distant voice in the back of his awareness flares in protest. He pushes it backwards again in irritation. It is a very un-angelic voice in his ear, not like one of the Host at all. “The cage shall be opened, Raphael,” he says determinedly.
He feels Raphael relax and release his vessel’s hand at those words, looking triumphant in a way that makes Castiel strangely apprehensive, that makes him wary even though he knows that he should not feel either thing in the presence of a trusted brother. Indeed, he should not feel at all.
Raphael, as if sensing his reluctance, stops to eye him. “Castiel?” he booms, his voice singing with the choirs of Heaven in Castiel’s ears. “Do you doubt?”
“No,” Castiel answers quickly, even as that voice chimes yes. “I do not doubt. My faith is absolute.”
The words are stilted though, almost forced out in something that humans call a lie. But that is impossible; angels do not lie either.
And Raphael seems to notice this as well; his confidence fades and wariness returns. “Castiel,” he says. “You doubt. Again you doubt. And you lie on top of it.”
Castiel shakes his head as the accusation swims in the air between them, Raphael’s accusations stirring a strange feeling of familiarity in his grace that speaks of experiences that are beyond just those that all angels instinctively know upon being born, that are more than obedience and trust and faith in the Word and in their Father’s plan.
They feel like more; like something that belongs to Castiel only and not to his brothers and sisters at all. They are thoughts and memories and feelings that are his alone. He should not have them.
Raphael knows he should not have them. The vast archangel self of Castiel knows he should not have them. Yet here they are, growing somehow, getting stronger by the moment.
In a flash, Raphael’s sword is in his hand again, the lines around his human vessel’s eyes harsh and determined. “Even given rebirth, you are an abomination, Castiel,” he says. “There is no redemption for you.”
But Castiel doesn’t hear him. He tilts his head instead, thinking that he can hear another person speaking to him, a more important one that whispers sweetly against him, making his insides thrum with joy, as if he is hearing the voice of God Himself. “I’m here waiting,” it murmurs in the far distance of his awareness, and is so warm and bright that Castiel can concentrate on nothing else. It easily drowns out the anger and rage and disbelief rolling off of Raphael in waves.
And then he hears the sound of glass shattering in the distance but somehow right in his ears all at once; bewildered, he is forced to stumble as a flurry of warm and familiar sensations suddenly swell to an impossible height within him, in a bombardment of image and feeling, of touch and taste and smell and sound. It is something that is beyond the Host. It is just for Castiel.
It pleads with him to remember. To return. To come home. Someone is waiting.
Dean is waiting.
The last thing Castiel sees is Raphael’s sword poised to strike him down. Then there is a sharp pain in his chest— where his human vessel’s heart beats— there and gone again in the blink of an eye.
And then he moves.
Dean can’t help but watch as Cas’s grace slams into him, can’t help but hold his breath and pray, because he remembers, he remembers exactly what Death had said to them when they’d begun this idiotic mission and he knows that it could end in a big fiery mess of angelic explosion when one grace meets another and they collide head on like bombs hitting the ground. By all logical explanation, it should end that way, considering what he’d just done.
But something about the way Cas’s grace had felt in his hands just now— so strong and sure and joyous—makes Dean feel inexplicably optimistic, like after everything they went through to get here, it can’t just end like this, can’t end with Cas gone and the end of the world at their doorstep. Not again.
This time, something has to change.
Except the grace impacting with Castiel doesn’t so much as send him staggering back a single step this time, doesn’t so much as cause a blink or a ripple in time like all the others had. Maybe because it’s so much smaller. Maybe because it’s just too weak. This time there’s only a brief, swift intake of air, and a quiet flash behind Cas’s big blue eyes as the grace disappears inside him. The angel’s only reaction is to blink and shake his head, looking more like he’d had a taste of something vaguely rotten rather than like his entire world is changing.
Dean feels his heart sink at the sight, as Raphael brings the sword down directly at Castiel, who’s just kind of standing there, staring at his brother in confusion.
For a moment, Dean thinks Cas—or whatever it is currently wearing his skin— has destroyed that tiny, determined angel’s grace.
And they’re all toast.
But then Raphael brings the blade of his sword down at exactly the same moment Castiel brings his up.
The earsplitting shriek of metal on metal rips through the clearing and suddenly Dean finds himself in the middle of an archangel fight with no clue whether or not the archangel wearing the face of his angel even remembers—or cares—who he is.
“You do not have sufficient power to destroy me, Raphael,” Castiel booms as he twists their locked blades around, as he shifts to the side and grabs Raphael’s wrist with his free hand, forcing the older archangel’s weapon from his fingers with a snap and a spark. “Your grace will not sustain you against me. I have consumed the essence of two angels, I have the power of your superior at my command.” His eyes are hard as he says this, as he squeezes down on Raphael’s vessel’s bones threateningly and shoves the other angel to the ground, pinning him with a knee against his throat. “Surrender,” he growls. “There is no victory for you here, brother.”
Raphael struggles ineffectually as lightning snaps across the sky again, casting the two angels in stark relief against the blue-white glow of electricity in the air. “I am no longer your brother, abomination,” he breathes, voice low and determined. “Kill me. My conscience is clean. I die in the service of God’s will.”
At those words, thunder roars in the sky overhead and the ground gives a tremor that nearly sets Dean off balance if not for the badly cracked headstone he is currently leaning most of his weight on. For a terrible moment, Dean thinks Castiel is going to murder his brother in cold blood.
“Cas!” he shouts, instinctively, despite Balthazar’s protests beside him to stay down. “Cas, don’t!”
Castiel pauses for a moment, looking at Dean with those inhuman eyes of his, head tilted like he doesn’t understand, like Dean is a strange creature that he would like to study for the rest of time.
Dean knows that look. That look sparks something familiar in his chest, sets it ablaze with a rush of hope.
“He does not remember you,” Raphael barks, sounding mocking even as his trachea is crushed under the weight of Castiel’s knee. “I die comfortable in the knowledge that he will destroy you next, Dean Winchester.”
Castiel glares down at his brother. Snaps his fingers.
Raphael disappears with a strangled cry.
Dean stares in horror at the empty spot the archangel had just occupied, at Cas as he rises gracefully from his knees, unruffled and stoic, eyes inhuman and curious and somehow far away and right here all at once.
Dean goes towards him anyway, staggering forward on shakier legs than he can ever remember having, suddenly unsure whether or not Cas is in there after all, wondering if Cas’s puny, courageous grace got eaten just like Balthazar said it would, by the bigger, stronger animal.
“Cas,” he croaks, after what feels like a lifetime of silence between them, “Cas, you still in there?”
For a moment, Dean is too scared to breathe.
But it’s fine. And Cas shows him with just one word.
“Dean?” he murmurs, and sounds just like he does in the mornings when he first rolls out of bed sans grace, when he’s irately demanding breakfast because his human body is making untoward demands of him which make it no longer possible to sleep despite how hard he tries. He sounds just like he did when he had that bug bite he couldn’t stop scratching, when Sam had been forced to explain the in-and-out system of digestion and excretion to him the first time around, when Dean had happily explained the concept of Busty Asian Beauties and free porn on the internet. He sounds grumpy and ruffled and exactly how Dean has always wanted him to.
It must be showing on his face, because Cas is eyeing him strangely now, like he’s maybe the one who’s possessed by the essence of another being. “Dean, I don’t understand your question,” he says. “Are you injured?”
Dean lets out the breath he hadn’t known he was holding and nearly starts laughing in hysterical relief at the cockeyed look his angel is giving him. He knows that tone too— just like he had known that look—and he is one hundred percent certain that that voice and that mildly irate, slightly bewildered stare can mean nothing but Castiel.
This is still Castiel.
Cas is okay.
And with that, Dean is staggering forward without another thought, closing the remaining distance between them and pulling the angel flush against him in a relieved hug.
“Dean,” Castiel murmurs, voice full of reproach. He does not hug back.
Dean pulls back so he can look at Cas again. Frowns. “What?”
“You should not wander into the middle of a battle between archangels when it is not yet finished,” Castiel admonishes him, looking him over carefully for injury, particularly in the area around his head. “That was foolish and very dangerous.”
Dean nearly snorts at that, because of course Cas would take the moment to lecture him about being an idiot instead of letting Dean celebrate the fact that his angel has not been mind-wiped after all. “Sorry, man,” he says, automatically. He isn’t really sorry at all though, not when Cas is standing there and still Cas, not after he’d been forced to stand around just moments ago, thinking the guy had gotten erased by a giant burst of douchebag archangel grace.
Castiel just stares at him, expectant, their noses nearly touching.
And wow, that is when Dean suddenly realizes there’s a complete lack of personal space between them and Cas wasn’t the one to initiate it this time. He looks sheepish and takes a hasty step backwards, away from the angel he’d just been hugging the stuffing out of in public at what was probably great cost to his manhood. Luckily it’s dark and the storm probably kept everyone inside.
Then, “So… it’s really over?” he asks after a beat, clearing his throat and avoiding Castiel’s eyes as he does. “Raphael is…uh… ” He trails off and makes a vague gesture with his hand that might mean dead in his book, but actually looks more like a lame one-armed reenactment of The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.
Castiel looks impatient. “I have sent Raphael into time out in Heaven so that he may think about what he has done. Gabriel’s grace has been successfully conformed to my own.”
Dean blinks. Stares. “Time out? Really?”
Castiel gives him this long-suffering, but somehow incredibly fond look. “Yes. Our mission is complete and I have now confirmed that you are not injured so much as infuriatingly impulsive. It is over.”
Dean sputters. “Well sorry, but I was wor…”
Castiel’s eyes bore right into his. “I find it is desirable to continue hugging now.”
He emphasizes this desire by wrapping his arms around Dean again and tugging them back together, in what is a move that can only be called pure free will. Dean’s arms automatically go up to reciprocate, and he muffles a helpless grin into the collar of the angel’s ridiculous trenchcoat.
Before long, he finds himself murmuring, “Don’t ever change, Cas,” under his breath, because it seems fitting and because under the circumstances, he can’t really trust himself to say anything else right now and not put his foot in his mouth in a horrible way.
Which—of course— is the perfect opportunity for Castiel to ignore the emotional tenor of the moment entirely and say, “I love you too, Dean,” in that matter-of-fact, completely guileless, and painfully earnest way of his.
Dean freezes unexpectedly, mostly because he hadn’t thought mini-Cas would be such a tattle-tale and a little because he’d hoped he could maybe put this conversation off for a while yet, maybe for when he’s not soaked to the bone, covered in mud, and fucking exhausted. “You still remember that, huh?” he asks after a mortified beat, embarrassed as hell even though he can’t bring himself to pull away from the comfort of Cas’s embrace.
“Of course I remember it. I was there,” Castiel answers, simply. Then the angel smiles, and Dean can feel it pressed against the damp skin of his cheek. “You said you would wait for me. I heard you.” Pause. “I will always hear you, Dean.”
Dean swallows, feels his arms tighten reflexively around Cas’s sides at those words, thinking to himself that this explains everything, that it can be simple and straight forward like this, if just he lets it. “Yeah,” he mutters eventually, and feels the tension drain out of his shoulders as he presses his face into the curve of Castiel’s rain dampened shoulder and breathes in deep. “Thanks for not keeping me waiting long, man.”
“Of course,” Castiel answers, like this conversation makes any sense at all. Then, after a brief, thoughtful pause, he adds (completely at random mind you): “Your clothes are very wet. Perhaps it would be wise to remove them before you catch cold.”
It is ridiculous and completely inappropriate to the moment considering Cas’s utter lack of innuendo upon saying it. It is also possibly one of the hottest accidental pick up lines Dean has ever heard in his life.
Suddenly, Dean is laughing too hard against the curve of Castiel’s throat to be embarrassed about how much he loves his angel at all.