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[personal profile] whit_merule

Previous chapter.

Week 6.

11 kalends Octobris (September 21).

Note: Okay, so I give up on PWP. Warnings for this chapter of fantasy violence - of the monster-fight type, not domestic abuse or anything.


It had started out innocently enough. A quarrel in the morning, over nothing much - only Dean’s boundless and rather crude enthusiasm for chatter before breakfast, and Castiel’s lack of the same. Nothing terribly serious, logic would dictate; but Castiel wasn’t accustomed to arguing with Dean, even over small matters, and he found himself sulkier and more shaken than he’d expected.

They were out on patrol all day, the two of them - only a patrol, to keep the maps properly marked, nothing like a hunt. Castiel was soaring in slow zig-zags, scouting for signs of anything dangerous, Dean below on his horse with his favourite dog and a larger greyish one ranging out around him, shaggy and bloodthirsty. And maybe Castiel was a little further away than he would otherwise have been, maybe Dean was a little quieter. Maybe Castiel was a little distracted, tracing the complex little electric flickers of redcaps and gnomes and other more mundane life in the forest below. And his eyes were useless through the thick green thatch of the pine forest, of course, and he had no reason to be looking for something so large: the muted, roiling glow was nothing like the vibrant flare of werewolf, or wodewose, or any of those other creatures with a taste for flesh.

But excuses were for children, and those innocent of consequences.

The etayn rose to its feet with a bellow that shook the trees, lurching and shaking off branches like twigs. Dean shouted out something, to his horse or the dogs, and there was the sudden flurry of a scuffle. Castiel could see the grey-green scruff of its mane through the pines, feel it shake itself and stagger.

Castiel whistled, a high-pitched battle screech, anything to make it look at him instead, and folded his wings to dive. 

The hound bayed. 

It was high-pitched and sharp, closer to panic than the savage pack-triumph that he remembered, and it shot through him like ice. Everything seized up, muscle and bone and all the magic in his blood, and his body turned to lead between his wings.

“Mute, Chevy, mute! Get out! Cas!”

Something smacked into him and sent him tumbling through the air. Then it was a blur of branches  whipping at him, rough bark scraping open his cheek and arm, and the cracking thuds of collision. Shields down, his mind screamed at him, and it was pure fierce instinct that had him reaching and grabbing for the nearest branch rather than curling up to keep his wings from snagging, because if he hit the ground like this -

He spat out a mouthful of grit, and pine gum, and blood.

The dog was still crying out, too loud. Every yelp sent shocks through Castiel’s body, cramping every muscle and emptying his blood until it felt thin and cold, until he wanted to wrap his arms around his knees and cough up everything in his stomach. He was battered and torn, ribs and wings and one leg, one side of his face burning fiercely where the bark had scoured it red, and he couldn’t close off the pain. And his senses were befuddled, so he could hardly feel anything of the world around him, reduced to just his eyes and his ears. But the etayn was blinking at him through the branches with its muddy, rough-hewn face, stubby hand still half raised, and if it reached for him -

It did worse. It turned away.

Dean was struggling to his feet, far too close. Horse nowhere to be seen, his dog bristling in front of him with legs planted wide and fur bristling, her ears and tail tucked back so tight they were almost invisible, hurling abuse at the vast thing towering in front of her.

The overgrown rocks behind Dean were piled too high and thick for him for him to duck away. And any other direction was well within the sweep of the etayn’s arms. Dean was trapped.

And whatever strange magic the humans had used to twist those hounds into monsters, Castiel would not watch helplessly again and see somebody else he loved die for it.

Castiel hauled himself upright, clinging to the branches above him as they dipped and swayed sickeningly. His muscles were loose as soggy bread. Dean set his jaw, and drew his gun from his belt.

The etayn rumbled, shaking the trees, and reached out.

Castiel stumbled forward along the branch, wings tangling in the tree and too heavy to lift, and screeched again with all his breath. But the thing wouldn’t be distracted. Only Dean flinched - then he put a bullet through its eye.

It staggered back with a roar, one enormous hand clapping over the injured eye. The other hand whipped out, and flung Dean into a tree.

There was a sickening crack, and Dean lay still.

The wind moaned through the trees, and the world swayed. It felt very far away.

Castiel’s wings were an unwieldy bulk, nothing more than muscle and bone and feather. His body was too much for them like this, too heavy, too long. And every other power was tamped down and muffled. 

No better than a human.

Weak. And the dog was yelling, that ghastly halloo that had rung through his bones the day that -

The etayn never saw him coming.

He collided with it at the frantic speed of a tumble, wings crooked for a glide that was only just far enough. He was aiming for the throat, but his first wild slash cut uselessly at the breastbone and the knobbly, gnarled hide. Its bellow was bemused, deafening, tumultuous; and Castiel gritted his teeth and scrambled up on a mad surge of desperation. He barely missed its flailing hands, laid open its jugular in passing, got up to its shoulder as it gaped and felt its spine crack behind his heel as he launched himself clear of its reeling body. 

His sword spun off somewhere on its own spinning silver arc. The maze of pine branches rushed up to meet him, then the bracken. Then the ground. 

It wasn’t kind to him.

Behind him, the etayn fell, and trees groaned and cracked as they fell with it. That beast of Dean’s let out one last vicious howl, then fell silent.

Castiel actually couldn’t move. That was... new, and strange.

He stared at the pine cone that had landed in front of his nose. It looked like a pine cone.

His body felt like a dangerous, unfamiliar place.

With the dog quiet, though, his strength was creeping back in. Just enough that he could feel the tug of broken ribs and wingbones reaching for each other, the tingle of some savage blow to his kidneys mending itself. 

And his body was marginally lighter. With effort, he could drag himself to his hands and knees. It pitched him into a coughing fit that set his ribs screaming.

The world was muffled in fleece. 

The occasional crack and patter of damaged branches breaking loose, the thud of another pine cone on the back of his neck, the sharp smell of broken pine, the curl of his fingers through pine needles into the loamy earth, felt like they were happening to somebody a long way away. As if all Castiel was getting were the reports. And there was a terrible gulf opening up inside him.

He knew what he’d seen, and knew what he’d heard. Castiel had watched too many people die not to know that reinforcements usually came too late. That it took only a few seconds for anybody’s life to be changed beyond repair.

Dean’s back was broken. Or perhaps his skull. 

But he couldn’t be. He couldn’t. It was impossible, because the sudden sharp reality of that was - it wasn’t possible because Castiel couldn’t bear it. There was simply no way that could happen. 

He hadn’t realised just how completely this would break him.

The carpet of dried pine needles was soft and prickly under his hands and knees. He crawled a few steps, found a tree, hauled himself to his feet and clung through the flood of dizziness. And he couldn’t feel the warm, familiar pulse of Dean’s life.

The bile was rising in his throat, tasting like death. Castiel’s heart was pounding painfully now, trying to shunt the healing blood around his body too fast, and it took all he had to fight back the vivid sense-memory of the moment when he’d felt that one last pulse from Balthazar. Felt it go still.

Only a few yards, and he’d be clear of the trees. Only a few yards to the gap the etayn had torn in the forest with its raging. Dean was there. Castiel could put off this realisation for another minute, another few seconds, could make it not real until he saw, felt - but he had to get to Dean.

He was a pile of limbs and huddled body at the foot of a tree. The face was hidden under one arm, and one leg was bent at a sickening angle.

The dog barked again.

It was the sight as much as the sound that knocked Castiel to his knees.

Castiel wanted to scream against it. How dare Dean, how dare anybody, have so much power over him? How dare he burrow inside him and shatter him open into nothing and slash up the remains?

“Dog, be quiet,” he growled, and “stop.”

The beast ignored him: hovered with her tail down and ears flat between him and Dean, glared at him, and yipped.

Castiel didn’t have time for this.

He lurched to his feet and hauled her into the air by her throat. She struggled and gurgled, claws lashing at his thighs, and Castiel fought down the savage urge to break her in two. He flung her away from him instead, let her thud and tumble her way across the ground, and fell jarringly on one knee by Dean’s side.

Dean’s shoulder was warm under his hand, and messy with crumbled bark that must have shaken loose when he’d slammed into the tree. Not so much as there should be, though, Castiel noticed numbly: there was far more on the ground, as if the forest didn’t want to cling to Dean’s shirt. He didn’t belong out here, after all. He was a creature of the open field and the farm, of tame kindly land and a bright sky.

A thin branch lay broken under his body, and, about a foot up the tree, its stump oozed slow golden drops down towards Dean’s hand.

Castiel would have to carry him home.

Dean hated flying.

Castiel slammed his fist hard into the trunk of the tree. It cracked and swayed dangerously above him. He snarled at it: let it fall! Let it try to -

“Cas?” Dean groaned. Then again, louder and sharper, “Cas!”, and he was squirming between Castiel’s thigh and the tree, boxed in, trying to turn over and sit up.

The world staggered around him, giddy as the water in a bowl when you slip and almost let it fall. There were hands on his shoulders and Dean’s voice in his ears, rough with pain or relief or worry. Then Castiel was pitching forward, falling into him, hands grabbing for his shirt and hauling it up and getting all over him. There was hurt inside him, little snarls of pain and wrong that caught at Castiel’s frantic senses now that he could feel it: concussion, bruises, damage to the cords holding the shoulder together. Broken leg, and maybe that had been the snap that Castiel had heard, or maybe it had even been that branch under him, what did it matter. Castiel slid through him hungry as fire, seizing on those spots and throwing all he had at them. It was like hauling a comb through knotted hair: jammed, then jammed again, then hurt, then suddenly came loose all in a rush with a few little twinges left here and there, but he couldn’t stop to go back because he was weak and he had to fix everything else first before his heart gave out, and what if there was something terrible he’d missed? 

“Fuck,” Dean was hissing somewhere somewhen outside in the coldness of the air, then, “Cas!” and Cas - Castiel - Cas was being shook, shaken, swaying, and “that’s enough, you hear me, you stubborn son of a bitch, fix yourself, would you? I’m fine, I’m good!”

Dean’s face swam sluggishly in and out of darkness in front of him as he blinked. Eyes, green eyes, too bright and worried. Fixed on Castiel. Alive.

Castiel slammed him into the tree so hard it shook.

“Do you have any idea,” he gritted out, without knowing what he was going to say next. Then that creature yelled, and barrelled into him from one side. 

It was a shock of muscle and noise, and a bright flare of pain where its teeth sank into his wrist and pulled, and when Castiel looked at it he saw nothing of the sweetness that Dean seemed to find in it: only the bristling mane and savage eyes and dripping jaws of the beast.

“Chevy, mute! easy! mute!” Dean was growling, his hands locked around its muzzle, prying its jaws open, and “leave it!”, but all Castiel could really hear in his mind was the violent music of the pack.

It took all of his self-control, all of his fear for Dean, all of his certainty that Dean would never forgive him, not to lash out: to wait those two seconds before his arm was released and she backed away, growling between whimpers and swinging her head from side to side, eyes fixed on Dean. It left him hunched in over Dean, wings mantled sharp and high, breathing heavily; and when Dean looked back at him his eyes went very wide, and very deep.

“She’s scared, Cas,” and his hands slid around Castiel’s back, grabbing with his own desperation at Castiel’s skin through the rents in his shirt, “she’s just scared, and you look pretty damn scary right now, man, hell, what the fuck ripped off your face?”

Castiel’s hands fisted in Dean’s shirt, then in his hair, then slid down to his neck and his chest and to cup the lines of his shoulders, because they couldn’t keep still. “She almost got you killed,” he raged, spitting the words out into the claustrophobic space between them, and again, pressing his hands in hard against the tender spots at Dean’s ribs and throat, while Dean made little noises and grabbed at the back of Castiel’s neck, “she wouldn’t stop, Dean, and I couldn’t -”

Dean yanked at his hair, a sharp prickle across his scalp that tugged his head back and cut off his voice in a rush of breath. “What’d you expect, I told you you need to get to know them just like you would weapons and you’re a freaking angel, why would she trust you, you never even talk to her, man!”

“Dean, she killed my brother,” Castiel shouted into his face, because it was the only violence he could do.

Dean went very still all over. And so did Castiel too, when it sank in what he’d just said. He wasn’t allowed to say that to Dean: that was a fundamental rule. He couldn’t blame Dean for Balthazar’s death, directly or indirectly, aloud or in the quiet of his mind, or this whole fragile web would break.

But he was so very tired of biting his tongue about that creature in the house: of pretending to simply ignore it, and not see the blood on its jowls.

Dean just stared at him, eyes eloquent and wet, like there were a whole host of things he was thinking of saying and setting aside, and Castiel dropped his gaze away from the terrifying intentness of Dean’s and just listened to the slowing pound of his heart, hot and strong.

“Okay,” Dean said at last, all on an exhale, and dragged Castiel into something too rough to be a hug. “Okay, man.”

Castiel closed his eyes against the hard curve of Dean’s shoulder, and spread his fingers over the fragile span of ribs and backbone and skin. So much life in there, so vivid and strong, but so close to the surface - so easy to spill.

“Fuck, Cas,” Dean breathed after a minute, nose pressing cold into Castiel’s neck. “I saw you fall and I thought -”

I know what you thought, Castiel wanted to say, but it stuck on something in his throat.

“We should find your horse,” he said instead, and his voice rasped as if he’d been shouting. “And the other dog.”

Dean sighed, pulled back enough to press their foreheads together bruisingly hard for a moment, then let Castiel pull him to his feet. “Maxim took off after Leapfrog. Think he decided protecting a horse was the better part of valour.”

If only both dogs had decided on cowardice.

Castiel found his feet were reluctant to hold him steady. But his body was knitting its injuries slowly back together, with the exception of the dog bite, so they had no excuse.

Dean held out his hand to the black hound, who slunk up beside him with her eyes fixed on Castiel. Castiel shuddered and looked away.

The twisted body of the etayn lay in the broken debris of the forest, a great grey and brown thing like overgrown boulders, gashed with red here and there where it had impaled itself on the way down. Very close to them was its broad, six-toed foot, half the length of Castiel’s body from heel to toe. 

Dean’s breath puffed warm into Castiel’s hair, too fraught to really be a laugh.

“Remind me never to piss you off.”

Castiel said nothing.




On the way home, he had to stop to vomit. He was barely even aware that Dean had dismounted and limped over before he felt the hand warm on his back.




The rest of the day was very strange.

Castiel felt like a cloud - like a child’s illusion of a cloud, at least, floating distant and serene so far above everything else, above the buffets and cross-currents of the lower air. Of course, anyone who’d run into one knew they were cold and miserable inside, and carried turbulence on their wings.

He said very little, because he had very little to say. Instead, he drifted through the afternoon’s tasks, body sluggish and exhausted, mind absolutely silent. The house was a little untidy, so he tidied it. It was his day to feed the chickens, so he fed them. The yoghurt that Sam had begun that morning was set, so he moved the urn into the cold cellar where it could mature more slowly. His body needed rest to refill its depleted reserves, so he dozed fitfully, draped across their bed half-dressed, face buried in the pillow that carried the scent of them both. 

Dean came by, looked searchingly at him, looked like he wanted to say something but didn’t, squeezed his shoulder, then left again, saying nothing but that he had to let Bobby and Ellen know what had gone down.

Castiel bathed, scrubbing blood and pine sap and dirt from the strangest places. He did his best to groom out the mess it had made of his wings, so far as he could reach, but there were many spots that would have to wait on Dean or Rachel. Perhaps Gabriel. Castiel had the indistinct impression that this might be one mood in which he would not find his strange brother stifling.

But Gabriel was somewhere away down on the farms, and Castiel didn’t have the energy or the determination to reach out to his mind to call him. Castiel was surrounded by humans, by people he barely knew.

Rachel and Sam, too, were out of reach: still out on their patrol. A feeble semblance of legitimacy - technically, by the terms of the Charter, any interspecies patrol had to have at least two members of either species on it. But that was intended to prevent foul play, rising out of lingering resentments or the treachery of opportunism, and there had been no question of that today. And so, in the name of efficiency, the four of them had split up.

Too arrogant. Too incautious. And why had he let Dean wheedle him into bringing that dog?

It was a shame that Sam was still out. Sam’s presence would be a comfort and an anchor: the boundless, easy warmth of his heart under all those self-conscious teenage mannerisms. And the way he would, absolutely predictably, fuss around Castiel and try to make him hot tea and anything else he could do to help, until Castiel was distracted with grumbling at him and feeling the real solid weight of care and family pressing in against his heart.

He washed himself all over again, in water gone tepid and cloudy. Castiel had taken to being more thorough in his bathing lately, inside as well as out, because Dean was oddly squeamish about encountering faecal matter. Castiel had noticed, in fact, that all humans had very strong disgust reactions in general - although Gabriel had mentioned once their susceptibility to hygiene-related illnesses, so perhaps it was a defensive instinct.

So many frailties, humans had. How could Castiel ever hope to learn all of them, let alone defend against them?




In the late afternoon, Dean found Castiel sitting in the kitchen.

It was too early in the year to keep the fires on all day, even for humans. But the only windows in the kitchen faced north, and there had been no sun directly on them all day. The stone walls had no stored warmth to give back, and looked grey and chill for it. Even the broad scarred old table in the centre of the kitchen felt cool as rock.

Castiel was dressed only in a pair of Dean’s soft sleep pants, and the big lopsided scarf that Dean had worn the day before. It felt like he was wrapping himself in Dean, all warm and soft and without the worrying bits. His hands were locked around a mug, though the tea in it had barely any more warmth to it than the air by now.

Dean looked in at him, and sighed.

Castiel didn’t look up, because he wasn’t sure what he’d see. Or maybe what Dean would see.

He kept staring at his mug while Dean moved around the room, through the opening and shutting of cupboards, the harsh scrape of the stool so Dean could get to the top shelf, the clink of glass on glass.

Dean leaned in from behind him to place two glasses and a bottle on the table. His hand landed in the curve of Castiel’s back as if he needed it to balance; but that touch was a familiar one, because it was where his hand always ended up resting in bed, when they curled up together to sleep. It was where he’d settle it for a moment in public, when he came up to join Castiel and greet him without words, as if it was a shorthand for all the long, lazy half-hours post-coitus that he spent running the same hand up and down Castiel’s back, or exploring it like a strange landscape with mouth and fingertips.

Light as it was, it was not a neutral sort of touch.

Castiel swallowed, and focussed on the bottle as the hand vanished. It was unlabelled, clear liquid in clear glass, but Castiel didn’t need to touch it to feel that it was far more potent than water.

Dean pulled out the chair opposite him, wood scraping loudly over stone, and sat down in that very pointed, important-things-are-going-to-happen-now way that he had sometimes, the one that drew all eyes to him. One of the glasses, the one with a finger’s width of the liquid already in the bottom, he took for himself. The empty glass, and the bottle, remained in front of Castiel.

“Okay,” Dean said deliberately. Castiel could feel the weight of his eyes, beckoning like a magnet until his own tried to twitch up to meet them. “Talk to me, man.”

Castiel had no words to say.

There was a violence in his body that scared him. 

He remembered it shaking itself, trembling far too hard. He remembered the feel of it slamming Dean up against that tree, the way Dean had had to unpick Castiel’s fingers from his shirt before they’d stood up and Castiel hadn’t even noticed at the time. He remembered grabbing at Dean’s skin, frantic, and wanting so viscerally to tear the dog to pieces, and he remembered that both of those impulses had come from the same place. As if any savagery would do.

Castiel had seen where savagery led. And madness: that too.

“I’ve seen you get messed up before in a fight, worse than that,” came Dean’s voice, low and inescapable. “Never seen you shut down after. Not like this.”

Dean waited some more, then downed his drink as Castiel fidgeted. The click of glass on wood was loud in the still room when he put it down again.

This time, Dean didn’t break the silence for him. He just watched, and waited, and let it draw out, and offered no escape.

But Castiel didn’t know what to say. How could he put into words this mess inside his head, this shapeless sense of looming disaster, if he couldn’t even grasp at it himself?

His eyes crept upwards despite himself. And there were Dean’s, so vivid and full that Castiel felt the queasiness in his belly surge again, and had to look away.

“I love you,” he spat out crossly to his teacup.

Dean cleared his throat. “Course you do,” he replied gruffly; and Castiel realised belatedly that he’d never actually said that to Dean before.

He felt obscurely that maybe he ought to apologise for saying it in such a manner, on such an occasion. Dean had first spoken those words to him through laughter. As if love was an easy thing. Happy and warm, and nothing else. Not a problem. Not -

“That’s supposed to be a good thing,” Castiel exclaimed, frustration pushing it too loud.

“Isn’t it?” This time there was a little flicker of uncertainty in Dean’s voice.

“No!” Castiel snapped. “No, I... yes. Yes. It should be.” He stopped, caught by the movement of Dean’s throat: a quick tense gulp that flicked shadow across the soft skin where it dipped into his collar bone.

Castiel took a careful breath, dragging it in deep against the dull ache of the bruises lingering around his ribs. Dean was still watching him. Listening.

“I’m scared,” he confessed brusquely, as if it would make that gaze let him be. “I haven’t - I had learned not to be. When one of my people went out, I - I had fixed that. But now - you, and I saw you lying so still, and that sound, if something happened to you...” 

The words were forcing themselves out of him, stumbling over each other unharnessed as fear, and Castiel had to let go of the cup and clench his hands against the table to stop them. His nails sank into the hard old wood, and opposite them he saw Dean’s hands twitch where they lay, as if Dean wanted to reach out and touch. Castiel fastened his eyes on the bold lines of his wrist, delicate skin over powerful tendons sliding back into the shadow of his cuff.

“I don’t like this, Dean,” Castiel muttered despite himself, after a long moment. “I don’t want to be scared.”

Dean was quiet for a while: only breath drawing into his body and falling out, and the warm thud of his heart.

“Figured that was just me,” he said eventually, low. “The longer it went on, the more people we... you know. You don’t stop caring, you just. When you see them ride out those gates, or when you’re out with them and see some toothy son of a bitch fly for someone’s throat, you kinda - shut that bit down. Freaking out all the time over what might go down - that shit’s exhausting, man. You hear me?”

And all Castiel could do was nod and feel something undefinable begin to unknot itself in his chest, because yes, that sounded familiar.

Only Dean wasn’t done.

“Just one thing I never - one person I was always scared for. Every day.”

“Sam,” Castiel muttered with a dry mouth.

“Well, yeah,” Dean half chuckled, and Castiel felt the movement of him scrubbing one hand over his mouth, self-conscious. “Guess that’s what happens when it’s family, right? Never stops screwing you over.”

“I don’t like it,” Castiel said again, only this time it sounded peevish even to himself, and it made Dean snort.

“Sucks to be you then,” he retorted, and reached across the table to tap at the back of Castiel’s hand. Castiel looked up, just so that he could roll his eyes, and found Dean grinning at him. It was a shaky kind of grin, and his eyes didn’t quite match it, but it was enough to coax Castiel’s mouth to twitch in response. And that, just that, made Dean’s whole face light up into something raw and wonderful; and this time Castiel forced himself to endure the burn of it, and not to look away.

And he was hungry for it too, he found: devoured the sight of it, of all that life and soul sparkling in Dean’s eyes and the quiver of his mouth that could so easily have been still and blank by now.

It was Dean who broke the moment, uncomfortable as he still was dwelling whole-heartedly on powerful emotions for too long. He ducked his head and scratched at the back of his neck, flushed a little, brushing it all off like a joke and a charm.

“So,” he said, all rueful and light. “Had a talk with Rufus. Chevy’s gonna be sleeping with the pack from now on. In the kennels.”

Castiel’s eyes cut sideways away from him, hiding that first selfish wave of relief. Or trying to: he had the distinct feeling that Dean’s sharp green eyes hadn’t missed it.

But it wasn’t fair play: Dean had already given way on this subject months ago, when he’d first loaned Castiel his bed. Castiel knew that Dean had been accustomed to having the dog on the bed as he slept, and yet she’d not set a paw in that room since. Castiel hadn’t even had to ask.

“Dean, you love her,” he reproached.

Dean snorted again, his expressive mouth going soft at the edges. “Not like I’m throwing her away, asshat. She’ll still be at my heels all day when I’m out and about. Just not in the house.”

And Castiel hadn’t had to ask this time either. Dean had made it happen, without question or complaint. Was there anything Dean would not give up, for him? For Sam?

“Alright,” Castiel said awkwardly, although there was so much more that he ought to say, and reached out for one of Dean’s hands. It uncurled under his at once, turned over and opened up so that Castiel could fit their fingers snug and firm between each other.

Dean caught the fullness of his lower lip in his teeth, just for a moment, then let it go. It settled back into place, plumper and slightly reddened.  “Hey. I’m kinda fond of you too,” he said, in that I-can’t-believe-I-have-to-say-this tone of his, and Castiel felt the warmth of it soaking into him, easing out the chill. “Also, this is your house too, and what the hell dude? You coulda said something weeks back. Before I screwed up.”

Castiel scowled at him automatically. “You didn’t screw up, Dean.”

Dean’s eyes went dark. “Don’t give me that crap. Of course I fucking screwed up. Handling the dogs, knowing what they can take and what situations will freak them the hell out? That’s on me. I made the wrong call. Charter’s right: no way should I have had her out with you there too. There’s no such thing as a routine sweep, and I almost got you killed, Cas.” He bit his words off, and the bolt of his jaw jumped as he swallowed. “You don’t get to just brush that off like it’s nothing.”

Castiel wanted very badly to kiss him. 

“Perhaps,” he allowed quietly, and ran his thumb over the backs of Dean’s fingers while Dean’s breath evened out. They were paler than his own, but harder, calloused in places with all the tools that they had wielded. In peace, and in war. And they were warm with life.

“Don’t die,” he ordered eventually.

Dean’s fingers tightened on his, but his voice held a trace of laughter again. “On it.”

Castiel nodded once. Then he rose to his feet, and let the tiger loose. 

Dean was already halfway out of his chair by the time Castiel had stalked around the table, which was convenient, because it made it much easier to haul him to his feet and declare, “I want to kiss you now.”

“Oh, thank Merlin,” Dean hissed, and let Castiel push him back against the wall by the oven and kiss the breath out of him.

It wasn’t tender, not this time. It was desperate ravenous proof, hands slipping and tangling over clothing and hair and feathers and each other. And Dean shoved back just as hard as Castiel gave him, until they were gasping hot into each other’s mouths, wet and kiss-bitten, and grinding almost too hard into each other’s bodies. Castiel’s hips were locked into the cradle of Dean’s, an insistent rocking rhythm that he didn’t bother to restrain. Even through their clothes Castiel could feel the firm hot line of Dean’s eagerness beside his own, and there was a hand knotted just the right side of painful in the soft feathers under his left wing, a bright star of pin-pricks that drove him on with breath and hands stuttering. 

He’d known he couldn’t lose Dean, it wasn’t possible, he was here and alive and vital and writhing under Castiel’s body. Castiel let his wings take his weight against the wall, fisted his hands in the fabric of Dean’s shirt and yanked it up. Dean got tangled in it with a muffled curse, and Castiel tugged impatiently and mouthed at every glimpse of skin, until they managed to wriggle it loose. Dean was here, here, skin flushed and pink in the cool air and nipples going hard, and Castiel’s blood tingled warm inside him as though it had been turned to wine.

“Fuck,” Dean hissed into his hair, then tugged at it, harsh and sweet-sharp. “Cas, fuck, your wings!”

Castiel pushed into his mouth, nipped at his lip in retaliation for the bites he’d got himself each time Dean had tried to pronounce f, took advantage of the sweet openness left by the last word to sweep further inside and slide his tongue over Dean’s. Dean was laughing again, breathless and short, and it tasted good against his mouth.

Wings, yes. His wings. The tiger was clawing and loose, stretching its limbs, and Castiel’s wings were prickling all over as if he was a nervous child again, soft and barely fledged and startled into puffing up. Only when he managed to glance at them, to tear his mouth and his eyes loose for long enough from Dean, they were nothing like a child’s. He was boxing them both in against the wall, closing them in with a shivering arch. And it wasn’t just his hackle feathers that were rising: despite the hard shafts and heavy skin of adulthood, every feather that had any movement to it at all was erect, bristling from covert to primary until he could see the pale grey-blue down between the tracks.

It was ridiculously hyperbolic, put every emotion out on the field in plain sight, and Castiel couldn’t bring himself to care.

Dean’s mouth slid against his chin, Dean’s hand slid up between his shoulder blades, and everything about it was promise. Unwinding him, bit by bit.

When Castiel found his mouth again it was slower and deeper: Dean demanding assurances of his own. Both hands were riding the back of Castiel’s shoulders now, Dean’s elbows tucked firmly in under Castiel’s wings, lifting them out from his sides. His fingers were busy, tugging and scrabbling and prodding deep into the feathers at the joint, skating over the back of Castiel’s neck and tangling in the scarf. 

“Scarf without a shirt,” he pushed into Castiel’s mouth, half a smirk lost in the kiss like he knew why Castiel had dragged it on. “I like it. Absolutely freaking senseless.”

The weight of Dean’s attention was a powerful thing: whole-hearted and determined. He could feel it seeping into him: love, faith, strong and heady and sure, as if Castiel could subsist on Dean alone, nibbling and teasing away at the heart of these dark feelings until Castiel couldn’t quite remember why he was holding onto them.

“It’s your scarf,” Castiel pointed out thickly. 

“Oh, you think?” Dean’s know-it-all grin shattered on a gasp as Castiel scowled and rolled their hips together. 

“It smells like you,” Castiel mumbled into his cheek, because that was Dean’s I’m-going-to-keep-prodding-until-you-admit-it voice and Castiel was too impatient for that game and didn’t care if Dean knew it anyway.

Dean’s head fell back against the wall, and his mouth was a curving reddened wet mess and his eyes were a wonder.

“Yeah?”  he panted, and, with a ridiculous waggle of his eyebrows, “you know what else smells like me?”

Castiel blinked at him.

“Is that some kind of double entendre.”

Dean’s laughter fluttered through his ribs. “I don’t know, man, I’ve got no idea where I was going with that.”

Dean was infuriating, and beautiful, and happy. And he was here. And Castiel wanted him, and he had him.

Castiel grabbed at the backs of Dean’s thighs and yanked him up, trapped against the wall, until Dean was hissing “Holy sh-” and clamping his legs on instinct around Castiel’s waist. And, yes, that was better: Dean wound around him, Castiel wound around Dean (as he staggered back a step and wrapped him up in arms and wings), locked together flesh to flesh with Dean’s body riding open and trusting and hungry against him. 

“Your bed,” Castiel growled into his neck, and now he had to tip his head back to bite at the underside of his jaw and the little groove below Dean’s ear. 

“Well, yeah, I guess that smells -” only to say that to him Dean had to look down, meet Castiel’s eyes, and the rest of whatever idiocy he’d been about to spout was lost between their mouths.

Finding the path to the bedroom blind was its own kind of challenge, because his hands were splayed tight over the straining muscles of Dean’s back and his skin and his mouth and his mind were full with a litany of only Dean, Dean, Dean, and what was navigation next to that?

It was only Dean’s hand, groping back behind him at just the right moment, that saved them from smacking the back of his head into the door frame, and Castiel barely missed taking out the oil lamp on the trunk with his right wing before he was kicking the door closed and tipping Dean down onto the bed. 

The sight of Dean spread-eagled and mussed on their bed - their bed - was not one to which Castiel could imagine becoming accustomed. Mouth and eyes both half-open, both glinting wet and excited and beautiful, one leg drawn up just enough that the heel dug into the mattress and the fabric pulled tight against the bulge between his legs, and Castiel’s fingers managed to tangle themselves in the ridiculously simple criss-crossing leather laces at the front of the pants he’d borrowed. And perhaps it would have been easier to glance down, but Castiel still couldn’t quite tamp down the feeling that if he looked away for a moment, if he broke the bewitching hold of those eyes, Dean would disappear, or Castiel himself would melt away into nothing.

Dean lowered one hand to flick open the front flap of his pants - one, two, three buttons on one side of his groin, one, two, three on the other - teasingly slow. Then he shifted his hips a bit, rolled his shoulders against the pillows and grinned, slow and deliberate, so that Castiel’s eyes snagged on the rise of his chest and slid to the coarse little arrow of hair leading down to that loose square of fabric, where it was already trying to slip down off the stiff shape beneath. Virgin Dean may have been - was still, technically - but he knew his body, and every inch of him was sensual. And he knew how to use it.

Castiel kicked the pants off his feet as they slipped to the ground, unwound that ridiculous scarf and flung it into the corner, shook his wings out and stepped forward. His feet felt soft and potent as the tiger’s paws, each step weighted. This, maybe this was what Dean felt when he moved like that: the proud arch and curve of his wings, the swing of his hips. Castiel had always dismissed this sort of behaviour in art and stories as ridiculously exaggerated posturing, but here and now it felt natural. It felt like power: showing what he was, could be. Letting Dean look on his body, and see the man who had laid claim to him.

“Come on,” Dean growled, and there was nothing uncertain about it.

Castiel sprang the length of the room, wings kicking wide for a moment before he was covering Dean’s body with his own. 

He went for the hot pulse in the neck first, mouthing and listening and biting, then for the heart: hard, quick, nuzzling in with an open mouth, teeth set against the fragile skin and the vivid strength beneath it. So strong and so easily killed; and yet Dean was stretching his head back and moaning, legs hooking in behind Castiel’s thighs. Trusting him absolutely, nails scratching in his hair and hips jerking up against his stomach.

“Your dog is afraid of me,” Castiel couldn’t resist saying, testing, teeth scraping the skin just beside one nipple.

Dean made an impatient sound and refused to buy into it. “Yeah, and I’m not. Suck it up, angel.”

Just for that, Castiel took him literally: sucked that nipple into his mouth and bit down, hard.

Dean’s shout rang from the walls. Hot lines scored down the back of Castiel’s neck, as the nails digging into his hair slipped. When Castiel lifted his head, panting so deep that he could feel Dean’s erection slipping against his stomach with each breath, Dean’s eyes were blown and wild.

“Perhaps you should be.”

Dean groaned, grabbed for the scruff of Castiel’s neck, and hauled him up. “Not this again. You’re not Lucifer, you dumbfuck.”

Castiel stared down at him, at the sheer open trust and want in his face. But that wasn’t the point. It didn’t take soulless evil to break hearts and lives.

“I am me, and that’s enough.”

Dean’s eyebrow arched, snarky as his mouth was fond. “Yeah? I’ll take it.”

Maybe that was the only statement of love one could make, after all.

Castiel kissed it out of his mouth, slow and deep, and let himself be persuaded. Dean’s faith in him was like nothing he’d felt before: not the childhood trust between himself and Balthazar, them against the world, nor yet the fervent adoration of some of his more devoted followers in later years. It was impossible not to let himself be soothed by it - soothed, and intoxicated, and strengthened.

One of Dean’s hands closed around the wrist of Castiel’s left wing, fingers sliding easily under the feathers to press between the joints of the fingerbones. Verging on uncomfortable, or it would be if Dean squeezed any tighter, but it felt almost like holding hands.

When Castiel kissed his way down Dean’s body it wasn’t desperate, but it was rough and quick. Dean’s thighs flexed around his hips, his waist, his chest, and the head of his cock left a sticky trail up the centre of Castiel’s body, beckoning to him as he drew closer. Castiel opened his mouth on every inch of skin on the way down, but he was moving too fast to really taste it.

Judging by Dean’s hiss, the stuttered jerk of his hips, Castiel was almost too rough when he got there: pushed his mouth down over the head until his eyes watered, swallowing hard around the sudden explosion of flavour over his tongue. He sucked and mouthed greedily at it, tongue and lips slip-sliding over everything he could reach to take all of that taste into his mouth, to keep it for himself. Dean was cursing incoherently above him, the muscles of his stomach tensing over and over under the spread of Castiel’s fingers. Dean’s free hand was knotted in Castiel’s hair, while the other kept his left wing arched up and forward, a delicious stretch in his back and shoulder.

Two fingers over the waistband was all it took to tug Dean’s pants down over his hips, but it wasn’t enough: when Castiel tried to nose his way downwards he was met with bunched-up fabric, strained tight with the sprawl of Dean’s legs. He sat back with a grunt of irritation, flicked his wing out of Dean’s hold with a twist of his shoulders, and scrambled backwards as Dean growled and drew his legs together to shove at the offending clothes himself. Only then, of course, Castiel had to roll sideways out from between Dean’s legs, just as Dean’s knee came up to meet his face, and just as he tried to reach for the tangle of pant-leg and boot at Dean’s ankle, and somehow - 

- well, he fell off the bed.

There was a moment of silence, while Castiel’s knee and elbow moaned complaints at him. Then, from the bed, Dean burst out laughing. 

Because he would.

Castiel wasn’t in his laughing frame of mind. He was in his get-his-mouth-all-over-Dean’s-genitals frame of mind. Dean’s laugh was loud.

One of Dean’s boots hit the door, and the other plopped down by the trunk, and the pants were shaken into a heap on the other side of the bed, while Castiel flopped onto his back and glared at the ceiling. Then Dean’s grinning face appeared over the edge of the bed, so Castiel glared at him instead.

Dean bit his lip - “Sorry, right, sorry” - but the laughter kept shaking out around the edges, all infectious.

Castiel huffed, and looked back at the ceiling, just long enough for Dean’s merriment to falter. As if he wasn’t quite sure whether Castiel would.

“Come on, man, gotta leave your dignity at the door,” he wheedled, and Castiel snorted and cocked an eyebrow in Dean’s direction.

Dean crowed - “Hah!” and his head vanished as he sprawled out over the bed again. Castiel followed him up, closing his hand around one bare foot and glowering down at Dean’s naked form for good measure. 

Dean grinned wide and breathless and cheeky, and spread his legs wide, giving him a show. “Seriously, man, like a freaking cat. After she missed her pounce at a bird.”

“Don’t push it,” Castiel growled unconvincingly, and pressed his mouth to the delicate skin inside Dean’s knee. 

The urgency in his chest hadn’t lessened, but it had changed: something deeper, something aching and warm. Dean’s open legs were an arrow leading in to one central point, and Castiel couldn’t linger and tease at his thighs: he needed his mouth there, right there.

He slid his mouth over the head again for good measure, breaking the last of Dean’s chuckles up into amazed little gasps, lapping at the new wetness that had collected there. Then lower, open-mouthed, sliding straight down the shaft to the root. To get one testicle then the other into his mouth he had to fit one hand behind Dean’s knee, push it up and out: make space for his body and shoulders between Dean’s thighs. The taste and smell were muskier down here, more of the day’s sweat and less of arousal’s sharpness. He groaned into it, felt Dean shudder under the reverberation; then he was tugging Dean’s legs wider and tilting his hips up. He slid down and back, irresistible, to lick hot over the centre of him and dig into that flavour instead. Dean jumped against his mouth - a startled, garbled sound - and Castiel held him still with iron hands on his hips and licked there again, burrowing and demanding until Dean gave up on biting back his yells. 

Wild, under Castiel’s mouth. 

Castiel paused for a moment to pant, forehead on the top of Dean’s thigh and breath pushing hotly against where his mouth had just been. Then he moved: nuzzled in again, wet-mouthed, at Dean’s testicles, and slid one hand around to meet it. 

He looked up to meet Dean’s eyes with one finger, almost dry, pressing just against that tiny impassable entrance, nail half-caught on the rim. 

Dean was up on his elbows, looking down at Castiel with his mouth slack and wet. His hips were cocked up towards him, thighs splayed wide, but there was a wary half-question on his face. Castiel thought that, like this, Dean might let him. If he asked.

And he did want to, fiercely. He wanted to feel Dean there and around him and in him and alive, to feel the hot pound of his blood from the inside. But Castiel could strategise for the long term, and he could and would stick to his plans. He needed to make Dean ask for it - ask, and beg.

Besides, that wasn’t what he really wanted. Not tonight.

He moved back up Dean’s body, leaning into every slide of skin on skin, every catch of hair and nipple against each other.

“Dean, I want,” he breathed into Dean’s throat, then he had to stop, and lift his head, and set himself into determination. “I want you inside me. Tonight.”

Dean didn’t even pretend to misunderstand him. No deflection, or jokes where he tried to pretend Castiel meant fingers or tongues instead. Castiel felt Dean’s chest fill out all stuttery against his, but his face went serious. When Dean lifted one hand to trace his fingers over the tender new skin on his cheek, Castiel closed his eyes for a moment to shiver, to feel. He opened them again to meet Dean’s gaze, searching and hot.

“We do this, Cas,” he said, soft and immovable, “I call the shots.”

It was a fair compromise. Castiel trusted Dean better than he trusted himself when it came to the limits of their bodies.

He nodded once, breathless and dizzy with it, and Dean groaned out loud and wrapped his arms tight around Castiel’s back, nose tucking into the side of his neck. It wasn’t quite a hug, not with their legs twining and chafing impatiently against each other and the wriggling of their hips together. If he let himself Castiel could finish like this, right now. He had a strong suspicion he’d doomed himself to being driven mad instead.

“Up,” Dean panted in his ear, and shoved at his shoulder. “Off me. On your back, captain.”

Castiel whined shamelessly at hard spike of desire at that title, at the sly grin in Dean’s voice and the wondering breathlessness under it, and at the prospect of tearing himself away even for a moment. But the order did its duty: he was rolling over onto his back before he knew it, wing sliding under Dean’s body as Dean moved with him, and when had Dean learned to rap out orders like a commander?

Dean straddled his leg, knee nudging gently up behind Castiel’s testicles, and leaned down to share one more soft, hot kiss. Then he set to work.

The way Dean moved over Castiel’s skin was always breath-taking: reverent and sly, as if his skin and body were something to worship, and something to toy with. Castiel’s world narrowed to the little thrills of his touch here and there and the slow hot burn of demand under it, until his body began to make decisions of its own and push up into one touch, shiver sideways under another, to take that mouth or those hands just where it pleased.

He was on edge already - it was barely a minute before every muscle was begging. He knotted his hands in the sheets to keep from grabbing, arched up under Dean’s smirking mouth and tender hands, held back the tiger and let loose the moans.

Dean’s hand dragged warm down the centre of his stomach.

Castiel opened his eyes to watch as it bypassed the aching throb of his erection to settle on his hip. Dean was looking up at him, eyes dark and wide, and when he caught Castiel’s gaze he grinned helplessly and pressed a fervent little kiss to the crease between hip and thigh. 

Castiel was completely, bewilderingly lost in love. 

There were worse places to be. Although he could feel the heat of Dean’s breath on his swollen skin, and it was an arrant tease.

“Fuck, Cas,” Dean groaned. Then he surged upwards, onto his elbows, chest brushing in one electric little touch against where Castiel most wanted to feel him, and slid one hand roughly in under Castiel’s wing to get it messy with oil.

Castiel suspected hazily that very soon he wouldn’t be able to smell his own preening oil without getting hard.

One finger was a maddening tease: the shock of first penetration, but not so large as to be a challenge, not after the number of times it had been inside him over the past fortnight. Two fingers made him cry out, made Dean slow down and back off until Castiel growled and swore at him and grabbed at his hair to pull him back in. The feeling was still strange, a little - too much like something his body should be fighting, should be pushing out, to be entirely a pleasure - but this was Dean, Dean inside his body, and that was an intoxicating delight.

Dean was making breathless, soothing noises against his thigh, rubbing back and forth across Castiel’s stomach with his free hand.

And then there was Dean’s mouth, all of a sudden - the shock of it - tentative and hot, nudging in just beside his fingers. Like he was working up courage.

“Dean, no,” he gasped out, even as his legs spread shamelessly wider and the tiger inside him yowled and demanded yes. Because if Dean’s instincts were against it, and Castiel’s own immunities misled him...

Dean pulled back, and the slow rocking motion of his fingers deep inside Castiel slackened.

“Gotta get you all relaxed,” he murmured, and Castiel could feel his bewildered scowl. “Was easier for me the other day after you used your mouth, so I figure...”

And yes, that had been - that was a dangerous memory to dwell on now, Dean’s body opening slick and hot around the tip of Castiel’s finger. Castiel had to groan, and roll his hips demandingly down onto Dean’s fingers so they pressed in deeper, and keep a tight rein on his body because he wasn’t ready to finish yet.

“No,” he gritted out, and “I’m fine. Won’t hurt me.”

Dean huffed something peevish, but the smile that he pressed into Castiel’s thigh felt a bit like relief. “Your loss,” he murmured, rich and deep, and crooked his fingers.

Castiel shouted out loud.

Dean was inexorable - impossibly patient. Two fingers, then three: he kept on until Castiel was hooking his fingers through his hair and begging, wings shoving restlessly down against the mattress and body arching up between them, quivering and hungry. Four times Castiel gave up and reached in desperation for his own barely touched erection, only to have his hand batted away. Twice Dean had to back off and take his hands away from Castiel altogether, or Castiel would have reached that final peak of pleasure and gone tumbling into the wind on the far side of it.

The second time that happened, Castiel opened his eyes (after he’d dragged himself back by his teeth from the edge) to find Dean sitting back on his heels between Castiel’s wide-flung knees. Dean’s own erection was pitifully neglected, straining red and pleading up towards his stomach, and he was frowning down at it, comparing it to the girth of his three slicked-up fingers when they pressed in together.

Castiel’s hips hitched in pathetic hope. He felt hollow and cold inside without Dean there, and the thought of that pressing into him, opening him up, of Dean’s beloved body hard against his...

“Dean,” he panted, and the word was a mess. “Please.”

Dean lifted his head, closed his left hand over Castiel’s knee like he was a skittish animal that needed touch, and stared at him with eyes bright and blown. Then he leaned forward, in over Castiel’s body, to press their foreheads together. Castiel grabbed for him, for the heat and weight and sheer promise of his body, hands slipping damp over his back. But Dean refused to be dragged down against him, and it would have taken more force than Castiel could let himself use to pull him in.

“No, baby,” Dean whispered against his mouth, and his voice was breaking. “I’ma do this right for you.”

And he kept going.

Castiel sobbed through his breaths, and cursed Dean, and his own stupidity in letting Dean take point, and his own treacherous body that welcomed Dean’s fingers back in as if they weren’t a feeble substitute for what it really wanted. All loose and easy now, it felt, maddening and slick even when Dean cautiously added a fourth from his other hand, and Castiel wanted force, wanted Dean.

But this time it was only a minute or two before Dean was pulling back and fumbling in under Castiel’s wing for more oil, even though he didn’t need it. Then he was moving off, out from between Castiel’s legs, and Castiel was too sluggish and stupid to do more than blink indignantly at him until Dean was tugging on his elbow and lying down on his back and saying, “C’mere, c’mon, I think, I saw a picture where -”

As soon as he worked it out, Castiel was on him like a flash: pinning him to the mattress, knees squeezing in on either side of his hips, hands flat on Dean’s heaving chest. And he almost got what he wanted - angled his hips and felt the head of it push in behind his testicles - before Dean was growling at him and tugging him further back until he sank down onto those  familiar fingers again.

The groan felt punched out of him, relief and frustration and incredulity all at once.

“Dean Winchester, are you trying to destroy me,” he panted out; and even around the lip bitten white between his teeth Dean laughed at him, a breathless amazed little stutter.

“Love you like this,” Dean gasped, and Castiel glared at him as hard as he could and pressed down with all his weight.

It was good, it was better: deeper, and wilder, the hard stretch at the opening and the bump of Dean’s knuckles against the entrance. Dean’s thighs were hard tense muscle pressed flush against his buttocks, and his face was a wonder to watch. And now Castiel could move. Each roll and shove of his hips did different things, sent sparks racing through his body, Dean’s erection was right in front of him, so close, and any minute now Dean would let him, let them, and what would it feel like to ride that like this?

 Castiel just threw back his head and moved.

“Fuck,” Dean whimpered, nails pressing grooves into Castiel’s right thigh and body coiling tight under him. And then, helplessly, “Cas,” and “fuck it, we’re good.”

He surged up against Castiel’s chest, hand tugging loose and arms going tight around Castiel’s body to kiss him open-mouthed and breathless as they rolled over together. Castiel’s back hit the mattress again, then Dean was on him, over him, hips shoving in finally between his legs and erection knocking hot against his thigh.

Dean swore again, into Castiel’s neck, jabbing in awkwardly and only catching at Castiel’s testicles. Castiel groaned and pushed his hips up, trying to edge him into the right place, but the angle was impossible and Dean slipped up and over the crevice of his thigh.

Dean’s heart was thudding against Castiel’s ribcage and there was a whine caught just behind his breath where it puffed frustrated over Castiel’s throat, and Castiel took impatient control. He caught Dean’s hips and just tugged, hard and fast, and the tip skidded down over his perineum and past where he wanted it, catching on the way just enough to make him gasp.

“Dammit,” Dean gasped out, hips working desperately, and “this is supposed to work, right?”, pushing his weight back onto his knees to get in from further back, slipping and shaking. Then, “Dammit, Cas, stop laughing,” and Castiel was not laughing, definitely not, not in the slightest. Not over the huffing embarrassed noises Dean was making against his chest, or the jerk and slip of his hips between Castiel’s thighs: he just wrapped his legs around Dean to hold him still and got his nails into Dean’s hair and kissed him, all open mouth and air stuttering between them.

Dean made a woebegone shaky noise and collapsed heavily into the kiss, crushing Castiel’s erection against his stomach. So really it oughtn’t have been a surprise, all strung out and burning as he was, that Castiel came at once: blindingly, noisily and completely.

When he could open his eyes, Dean was braced over him, a haze of smooth golden shoulders and scowl.


Castiel drew the tip of his tongue languidly over his lower lip, and rubbed the sole of one foot down the back of Dean’s calf. His body felt like it was singing inside.

“That was your fault,” he informed Dean, only it came out more as “Srrrrfl.”

He was pretty sure Dean got the point anyway, because his face slid into something like an aroused pout. Which was ridiculous. And also beautiful.

Castiel shoved at him, because somebody had to be practical about this, until Dean moved back enough to let Castiel tuck his wings in and roll over onto his belly.

“Wanna see your face,” Dean muttered rebelliously; but his hands were already running all over Castiel’s back, and it felt like worship.

The bed was sweet under him, warm and welcoming, and Castiel spread himself out on it and revelled in the phantom sensation of Dean’s eyes following his hands, sliding over the lines and shadows of Castiel’s back, looking at him and wanting. Better if he could have held on until Dean was inside him, but he felt too good to regret it. The naked want was still there, a fire banked low but still hot, and his inner muscles were clenching slowly, grasping at air. 

He needed to be filled, to be open. It took almost too much effort to hike one knee up by his side to let Dean look, let him in, but it was worth it. Dean’s breath stuttered into something like his name, and there were fingertips pushing gently right at the edge as if Dean needed to make sure he was still okay.

“Do it,” Castiel grumbled, and Dean’s fingers dug in sharp and hard for one shock-sweet moment and vanished.

Then Dean’s warm weight was plastered all over Castiel’s back and Dean was curling one hand close around Castiel’s side, and nosing at the feathers between his wings.

It still wasn’t perfect. The angle was better: that solid nudge was right where it needed to be. And it snagged on the edge, caught there for one breathless moment right in the centre of him - then, when Dean pushed, skidded loose and up over Castiel’s tailbone, through the mess of oil and sweat. And a second time, and a third down to bump the back of his testicles when Castiel tried to help by nudging his hips upwards, until Dean sat up with a growl and caught at the rim with two fingers to hold it open.

Which almost worked - almost failed, as it bent and tried to slip away - almost worked again, then suddenly the fingers were gone and the pressure was suddenly surer and, by all the gods of the moon, Dean was holding himself to guide himself in. 

And then -

- oh - 

- yes, maybe, so very wide, impossibly wide, and maybe Dean had been right in the first place and this wasn’t possible at all, and ow, “Dean, stop!”

Dean jerked back - “fuck! what? sorry!” - frustrated and even a bit impatient for the first time, and Castiel’s contradictory body mourned the loss, tried to clench down on what suddenly wasn’t there even while it stung.

“Oil,” he hissed over his shoulder. “On yourself. Too dry.”

“Arthur’s balls,” Dean hissed, and his hand landed heavy in the small of Castiel’s back as he leaned forward to tweak at the oil gland under his right wing. Then it was a minute of fumbling and Dean making noises like he was trying very hard not to come, which had Castiel’s hips shifting hopefully against the bed, and then - “Dude, stop wriggling, I can’t -” finally, yes, the hot impossible pressure of Dean, Dean, Dean, right there.

This stretch ached still but it didn’t drag, didn’t really hurt. It only overwhelmed, deeper and fuller every moment. Just on the edge of too much, while Dean’s fingers dug painfully tight into his hip and little shocked moans fell out of his mouth and Castiel went dizzy for want of breath. Dean’s other hand came free and skidded over the small of Castiel’s back, the angle of his hip, curled around the side of his waist, slippery and never quite settling. Castiel had no idea what noises he was making himself, but they dragged at his throat and his chest like they were clawing their way out, the tiger’s own counterpoint to the sweet burn where Dean was opening him up.

Cas,” Dean moaned out, like just that word was a revelation.

Then Dean was leaning forward and down, trying to press down close Castiel’s back again, and everything inside of him shifted and chased all the air out of his lungs until Dean was grabbing at his shoulder and wing and hissing, “Shit, sorry sweetheart, okay?” then seizing hurriedly on Castiel’s hip again when he almost slipped out.

Castiel gabbled something incoherent and rocked back, rocked up into him. Every nerve in his body lit up, like flying through a storm, and he did it again, while Dean panted into his shoulders and shoved clumsily back down, locked his arm low around Castiel’s stomach and grabbed for a rhythm that didn’t make them fumble apart.

Dean, Dean was inside him, he was actually having sex with Dean.

Dean’s free hand slipped up over his shoulder, pressed down over Castiel’s where it was digging into the mattress, and knitted their fingers together. And that was almost as good as being able to see his eyes. Almost, but not quite.

Castiel braced his wings wide on the bed and used them to push back up into Dean, stronger, chasing the ache and the thrill of it. Dean slipped out for a moment, mouth working mindlessly and gasping on Castiel’s spine before he managed to get back in. Then again, and this time he had to get one hand free to fumble his way back in, as Castiel groaned a frustrated groan and thumped his face down into the pillow.

“Fuck you, this is hard, you should try it,” Dean gasped out, almost laughing. Then he leaned down too fast, to nip at the down on Castiel’s spine, and slipped out again.

Castiel decided abruptly that “Dean calls the shots” had only applied until the first instance of penetration.

He turned over, wing twisting up over Dean’s head, legs tangling just enough for the leverage he needed to flip Dean onto his back and pin him down again.

“I intend to,” he breathed, inches from Dean’s stunned-wide mouth, and earned a messy kind of whimper. “But not yet.”

Straddling Dean’s hips was natural and easy by now, and Dean was grabbing at him, hands sliding over his knees and thighs and half sitting up to chase his mouth until Castiel squeezed at his erection to hold it steady. Then Dean cottoned on, gasping “Cas, shit, yes” and wrapping his hand around Castiel’s to help, the other one tight on his hip. It was trickier than Castiel had expected, lining it up. But two deep breaths and then it was prying Castiel open, splitting him apart, filling him with Dean. So much deeper and fuller than before, right down until Castiel was actually sitting on Dean’s hipbones and squeezing Dean’s hands and dizzy for want of breath.

Dean’s eyes were screwed tight shut, stomach flushed tense and quivering. Castiel felt a flush of absurd triumph.

He shifted a bit, experimentally, shivering all over at the tug and push of it against the inside of his body. Sore, yes, but a kind of sore that he thought he could learn to enjoy. 

Dean groaned helplessly under him. “Cas, don’t, I’m gonna...”

“No you aren’t,” Castiel informed him, and Dean shot him a dirty look from under his eyelashes which dissolved into wide-eyed shock as soon as Castiel began to move. And that was almost better than the feel of it, than the rush of chasing a second climax: Dean, spread-eagled on the bed, eyes locked with Castiel’s, speechless with lust and adoration and the struggle to hold back. Full of life, brimming with it, so that it spilled out of him in tears and curses and laughter, filled up Castiel’s veins heady and bright as mead. He was grabbing for Castiel’s thighs, trying to hang on, fingers slipping in the sweat behind his knees, and Castiel arched his back and opened his wings and used them to drive his rhythm, fast and wild.

But this was Dean, so of course he wasn’t content to lie there and watch. It was barely a minute before he was sitting up, body curling awkwardly under Castiel’s. Then he was getting his hands all over Castiel, palming frantically at his hips and back and sides,  using the wing joints to tug him down harder and buck up into him even as they surged in their own rhythm. He pressed his open mouth in against Castiel’s chest, against his neck and his chin, bit in under his jaw because he couldn’t quite reach his mouth from there, and back to his neck again. It was there, hot in the hollow of Castiel’s throat, that Dean shouted out his completion. Castiel felt it inside him, squeezed in tight, shoved down in demand, because he was almost there, almost, and Dean’s broken little gasps into his neck were perhaps the most beautiful noise in the world.

Dean went boneless against him, began to soften inside, and Castiel dragged his hand down to squeeze it around himself. Almost too good, that touch, after so long, and on nerves already sensitive from the first orgasm, so it was hardly a minute before he followed Dean over the edge with a strangled cry, and they landed sprawled together on the hopelessly messy sheets.

Sticky, and slippery, and just the wrong side of too warm. Dean’s hands were hot and loose in the dip of Castiel’s spine and the back of his neck, and their chests were heaving against each other and that would probably be easier for Dean without Castiel’s weight on top of him, but Dean’s breath was huffing in wet little bursts behind his ear and he couldn’t quite bring himself to move.

The sheets were probably a mess.

Castiel’s wings likewise. Between the sap and ragged edges he hadn’t managed to groom out, and everything else here and now... and he was almost certain he hadn’t enough oil left to do the job, not for some hours. Dean owed him a long, indulgent grooming session. Maybe this time he’d work out how to avoid snagging the down in the combs meant for contour feathers.

There had been a child, once, or a dream. For three summers he’d been real and solid and alive, welcoming Castiel into his world of oak leaves and dry hay and river water and laughter. And then for many more years than that he’d been a frozen image: a comfort, and an idea of a childhood that had never been completed.

It had been strange, at first, seeing that child in the eyes of a grown man, with his own stories and his own life. But Castiel didn’t see that anymore. Now he thought back on that child, and that dream, and saw the echoes and the seeds of the man. This man, who was making soft little humming noises and grinning dopily into his neck. This man, whom Castiel had chosen out of all the world to be his future. 

Dean wasn’t an escape from an ugly present anymore, and he wasn’t a remedy to a broken past. He wasn’t even the promise of future reconciliation, of a way to rebuild; but maybe what they had between them, that could be a promise.

Castiel shifted himself, slid half off Dean to take his weight onto his own side. It hurt, Dean slipping out of him - which made no sense, because it hadn’t hurt quite like that on the way in or with every thrust in the heat of things. He could feel every muscle inside him, aching and clenching, like they weren’t sure whether to fill up the space left to them or demand something else to replace it. It was an odd and not entirely pleasant sensation, and made him shift uncomfortably and contemplate reaching for the chamber pot under the bed.

Dean just purred something wordless and happy at him and nosed at his temple. Castiel made a noise like “mmph” in reply. 

They lay there for another few long hazy minutes. Then Dean wriggled a bit against him, and punched his fist into the air.

Castiel squinted at him. Dean was beaming, waggling his eyebrows at him in a “come on, aren’t we awesome?” kind of way, and he looked utterly ridiculous and irresistible.

“Dignity at the door?” Castiel asked blandly.

“Shut up, freak, we did it,” and Dean was kissing him again, which would never get old, even when they were both smiling too much for it to be much more than little nuzzles and nips.

The front door slammed open. 


Dean’s head fell back against the pillow. “Brothers, man. Worst timing ever.”

Castiel sent out his mind through the door, curling around through the living room and down the corridor towards the door. Beside the vague formless puff of Sam’s human mind were two bright flares of angels - Gabriel and Rachel, and both of them as agitated as Sam’s voice. Gabriel felt his touch and latched onto it fast as a whip, raw fear and fury for a moment before it was veiled over with his usual evasive sarcasm, which gave way in turn - as he felt the tenor of Castiel’s current mood - to the mental equivalent of a lascivious eyebrow-waggle.

We are both currently naked, Castiel informed him primly, to keep anyone from actually bursting into the room, and withdrew.

“Gabriel and Rachel as well,” he sighed into Dean’s shoulder, and rolled over to reach for the wash cloth, wincing a little at the shift in position. “And technically fifteen minutes ago would have been worse.”

Dean made a grumbling, contented sort of noise of agreement, and dragged himself out of bed to find their pants. “Guess it’s time to face the music. Hope Sam at least saw to his horse properly before they came charging over here - I taught the kid better than that.”

They moved around each other in silence for half a minute, passing clothes from hand to hand, mopping at messy spots on each other’s bodies, leaning into each other’s warmth. Sam pounded on the door and called out, Dean yelled back that they were fine, why was everybody making such a fuss about a little giant-trampling, Sam got all snippy and demanded to know whether everybody at least had all their limbs left, Dean confessed that his arm had got ripped off but Castiel had regrown it for him, Sam went silent for a moment then informed him loudly that he was a jerk, Castiel cuffed Dean around the head then had to wipe at the back of his own thighs again because apparently sex was messy and it was still trickling out, and Dean was grinning at him like nothing in the world could ever go wrong, just like he’d used to look as a child.

The moment before they emerged, Castiel put his hand on Dean’s arm and held him still, because he wanted to say this properly.

“I love you,” he said, breathless and sure; and Dean laughed, and leaned in to drop a kiss at the side of his mouth.

“Yeah, I know,” he replied, and opened the door.


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