Whatever (A Dean/Cas story)

Castiel has been gone for a long time. Too long. Dean misses him, Sam knows he does, but Dean will never admit it. Dean Winchester does not miss people. He kills things, he saves victims, he looks after his little brother. There just isn’t room for missing people on that list. He’s just getting steadily thirstier for alcohol, that’s all. And if he disappears for hours at a time, comes back with bloody knuckles, well, Sam doesn’t ask and Dean doesn’t tell.

A few weeks after that idiotic bastard used the angel banishing sigil, a letter arrives in the mailbox. Dean and Sam haven’t given their address to anyone, since they’re kind of wanted criminals across the country, and they were fairly certain the house they were squatting in was way outside the grid. It’s addressed to Dean, but Sam leans over his shoulder as he sits at the dinner table and opens it. Both of them raise their eyebrows, almost at the same time, when they see the sender’s name. Castiel. Does he even know how the postal system works?

For Dean (and also Sam, since you are likely reading this with him),

I apologise for my prolonged absence. I was not entirely sure where the two of you ended up after my abrupt departure. I was forced to find my way out of four-hundred-mile-long underground tunnels without my transporting abilities, which was… unpleasant, to say the least. You may be pleased to know that I have discovered your whereabouts, and am currently headed there. Due to the protective sigils around your house, however, I cannot simply appear there. I will be walking during the day, and flying at night, so I should be there by tomorrow. I will be sorry to say goodbye to this aesthetic beach, however; there aren’t many that are shaped so subtly.

I will see you soon. I imprinted your general location on the mailman’s frontal lobe. Don’t worry, it will fade as soon as he finds his way back to town.


Dean sits for a minute, too still, just staring at the letter. Sam glances warily between the chicken scratch on the page and his brother’s utterly expressionless face. Then Dean stands up, slowly balling up the letter in one hand. He walks as if his legs weigh about fifty pounds each. At the back door, he eases the screen door open, and just stares at the autumn leaves for a minute. His lip twitches, and he bursts into motion: the arm with the letter in it snaps back, tosses the letter-ball at least a hundred feet into the woods. Dean kicks violently at the door frame, muttering, “Cas, you fucking idiot. Why don’t you just stay away if you’re gonna be gone this long? Nobody cares about you. Fuckin’ baby in a goddamn trench coat.”

Sam almost puts a hand out to stop Dean, but he reconsiders. Dean never means what he says when he’s see-red angry. He needs to save face, even when he doesn’t, so Sam allows him that outburst. But after the bedroom door slams shut, Sam creeps outside and digs around in the huge piles of leaves, paws the damp, clinging things aside until he finds the letter. Tucking it in his coat pocket, he strolls back inside, smiling to himself.


Castiel hasn’t seen a sky this pretty since… well, close after the creation of the Earth itself. Then again, he hasn’t seen Earth from this angle before. Miles above the ground, wings beating steadily against the vibrant evening air. Walking made his feet itch, and all day he dreamt of spreading his wings and soaring through the sky.

So when the sun first touches the horizon, the animals of the city outskirts begin making their beautiful, natural music, and Castiel is far enough away from the city that no one will be out to see him, he allows himself a private smile, and slowly rises into the air. Once he’s ready to start moving, he lets out the breath he didn’t realise he had been holding. Glancing down as he flies, his eyes find and follow a newly formed, babbling brook running between lichen-ridden trees and darting around every scattered boulder. It’s a cheerful little thing, and Castiel almost waves at it. Then he remembers it’s inanimate. His face falls as he brings his eyes back to…

The Impala is cruising along the dusty road beneath him, keeping fairly good pace. Though that might be because the driver keeps poking his shaggy head out of the window to make sure Castiel is still there. Castiel doesn’t even notice that he’s smiling until his face muscles get tight and sore. Gradually, he descends, even as he moves forward. Sam sees this, and pulls over to the side of the road to wait for him.


Dean lies on his bed, face-down, stewing in his anger for maybe an hour. When he hears Sam starting up Baby, he scowls even harder. How dare his brother take his car without asking? Just another person standing against him. Who needs Sam? Who needs Cas? Who needs anyone else? Dean just needs Dean. And Baby. Sam better not so much as fucking scratch that car.

He sits up on his bed, folding his arms and grinding his teeth. Screw the both of them. He’s gonna go do… something. Without either one of them. He’ll come back to the two of them looking for him, all panicked and upset, and their faces will just light up when he comes back. Yeah. He’ll show them. He’ll make them pay for making him mad. And confused. Well, just Cas is making him confused. About regular people stuff. Even if Cas is an angel. Shut up.

Grabbing three beer bottles in one hand, Dean goes for a walk through the woods. As each bottle empties, he just tosses it into the leaves, where it’s swallowed up until the leaves decompose. Dean’s gait loosens with every pull of alcohol, and forest animals start running from him crashing through the underbrush. He may be just a bit delirious after the second bottle. He stumbles over a fallen limb, the hand he throws out landing on spongey lichen. For a second, he just scrunches his fingers, feeling it slip and slide under the pads. Then his spine straightens up, and his face composes. A little unsteady, he bows at the waist, one arm tucked under him, as if he were introducing himself at a party.

“‘Scuse me, did—hic!—didn’t see you there.” His voice, though slurred and blurred around the edges from the alcohol, sounded more proper than Dean Winchester has ever been or pretended to be.

He spends quite a long time weaving through the woods, feet crunching on the leaves when they aren’t slipping. He thinks about how many times Cas has gotten them out of trouble, has betrayed his own family to help them. He thinks about how much he and Sam owe Cas for all he’s done. That baby in a trenchcoat gave up everything for them, rebelled against Heaven and his own family, all because he got attached to Sam and Dean.

Well… Dean scowls at the leaves around his feet, leaning against a tree as he thinks. Cas always seemed to favour Dean, for whatever reason. Even after the angel got over the whole “Sam-isn’t-an-abomination” mentality, he only ever answered Dean’s prayers, he would stare at Dean as if wishing he could read thoughts. There definitely weren’t any tugs in Dean’s stomach when Cas acted like that around him. Definitely not.

Dean wipes his mouth, staggering back to the house. Sam should be back with the car by now, and he feels like sitting with his baby for a little while. It always clears his head to just sit and drink while perched on the hood of the Impala.


“It is good to see you again, Sam—” Cas is cut off by giant arms squishing him in a slightly overenthusiastic hug. Sam’s back is bent a little, his long hair tickling Cas’ neck. There’s an awkward moment where Cas doesn’t know what to do with his hands, so he just pats Sam’s back.

“God, Cas, Dean and I missed you so damn much. Where were you? Where’d you end up?” Sam finally pulls his huge weight off, leaving his hands on Cas’ shoulders. “Fill me in, man, I haven’t seen your mug in weeks!”

“I don’t have a mug, Sam. I don’t remember finding one where I was, at least.” Sam fights down the urge to laugh at Cas’ puzzled expression. “But when I found the way out of the mine shaft, it was somewhere tropical. A small town near Nassau, I believe.” Cas runs his palms down the sides of his coat, smoothing the wrinkles out. “It took quite an effort to get here, Sam. I’m very tired. Are we close to the house?”

Sam smiles; he knew Cas would want to come right home. “Well, there’s an extra bed back at our place. Our temporary place,” he amends, pulling open the passenger door. Cas slides in, barely managing to avoid hitting his head, and Sam strides around to fold into the driver’s seat. The car starts, swings around, and kicks up dust going back where it came from. “We’re about an hour out, so we’ve got a little drive ahead of us. That’s alright though, yeah?”

Cas’ lips twitch in a faint smile. “Yeah.”


Dean stumbles around the side of the house just in time to hear the front door slam shut. Good, Sam’s home. Now Dean can take some time to scrub his damn brain clean on his car. Though, now that he thinks about it, does he even want to get rid of these thoughts? Cas is sweet, and his host body… well, Dean would be outright lying if he said that Novak guy wasn’t a hot piece of ass. Cas is cute too, when he isn’t pissed at Dean for thinking about saying yes to Michael. The way Cas would tug on his sleeve, asking, “What do you use this for?” used to be Dean’s favourite thing, even if he did tease Cas a little for it.

Slumped against the still-warm hood of his baby, Dean downs the contents of his last bottle with three slow, wet swallows, then wipes his mouth and sighs. He wonders when the sun set; he’s shivering in the cooling evening air. Tugging his jacket tighter around himself, he licks his lips to get the last of the beer off. He stares into the middle distance and tries not to think about anything, but ends up on Cas anyway.


Cas had been quiet on the drive back to the house. That wasn’t surprising, though; he rarely spoke when he didn’t need to. Sam watched him out of the corner of his eye. Sam could remember the first time he ever laid eyes on Cas; the faith he’d had since he was a kid—no matter how hard his dad and brother unintentionally tried to squash it—had swelled almost painfully brightly when he saw the angel. It was a little bit of a damper to hear Castiel, the living, breathing incarnation of the Someone Else that Sam prayed to every night, call him an abomination. But Sam would like to think that, over the time Cas spent with the both of them, he’d sort of grown to like Sam. He’d certainly become attached to the scruffy man in a trenchcoat; if he didn’t know where Cas was, he was damn well going to ask.

Something about Cas brought a better person out of Sam. With Dean, Sam tried to be like the shining image of Baby Brother Sammy that Dean pretty clearly kept on a pedestal in his mind. Dean expected his little brother to be good, live his childhood out until it ran dry, and not ask questions about the Big Bad World. Sam stopped being Baby Brother Sammy around age twelve, when he saw first-hand one of the freaky-ass monsters his dad was hunting. (He found out later that a Shtriga had almost killed him even earlier, but Sam hadn’t remembered.) And when Dean wasn’t imprinting a pure-and-clean image on his brother, he was arguing with him, both over the dumbest shit and over life-changing issues.

But when Sam was with Cas, he didn’t have to pretend to be an innocent child. He could be himself, completely. And the way Cas trusted so firmly in his beliefs, the way he was willing to sacrifice himself for his cause, gave Sam thrills of hope. Hope that he could turn this wordless desire to cleanse the world of the stains he’d put there, he could turn this into a cause soldiers would defend along with him.

Sam shook his head and blinked back the moisture in his eyes. His inner tangents had to be reined in at some point. He glanced over at Cas, who was fiddling with the buttons on his coat with the concentration of a cranial surgeon. Sam chuckled to himself, shifting his hands on the wheel and gently pressing the accelerator just a little harder.


It takes Dean a good ten minutes to weave and swerve from the Impala’s side to the front door, jerk it open, and fall on the hardwood boards inside the door. He’s sure that if he wasn’t so out of his skull on whatever kind of fucking beer he just had, he’d be laughing his ass off at himself. But, as it is, he struggles to his elbows, then swings around to sitting position, and leans against the wall, head bent back far enough that it hurts to swallow. God, he’s messed up. Cas isn’t gay. He’s an angel, he has a mission, a goddamn job to do, and here’s Dean, wondering how to bring up the topic of “oh I think I may want to kiss you how do you feel about that.”

Dean’s really messed up. But he knew that already, and it doesn’t console him much. He squeezes his eyes shut until he sees stars erupt in his skull. Murmured voices in the kitchen have his eyes flying open again, listening as well as he can.

“I’m gonna go read in my room if you need anything, okay, Cas?”

The other voice is warm with affection, and Dean faintly wishes the voice could talk to him with that tone. “I am not an invalid, Sam. I will call for you if I need help.” Heavy footsteps clump down a hallway Dean can’t see, and then silence. The occasional flip of… newspaper pages turning? He’s curious, and shuffles forward on his knees until the kitchen comes into view.

First thing his eyes fall on is the clock, and Dean squints at it to see how long he’s been gone, before he remembers. He’d broken the thing a week ago in a particularly angry outburst; he’d punched the wall, and the poor clock, a cheerful-looking pig with the time keeper in its pot belly, had rolled off the shelf and shattered on the floor. Sam and Dean had cleaned up all the glass, but the damn thing had stopped working. They’d put new batteries in and everything, but it just stayed stuck on 2:55. In the morning, of course. That’s when Dean’s usually the crabbiest.

The next thing he sees is Cas, hair rumpled all to hell, wrapped in a blue-and-white-striped bathrobe about five sizes too big for him (probably Sam’s), sipping on steaming coffee and frowning at last week’s paper, as if scrutinising the print long enough would give him all the answers he wanted. He’s so damn cute, Dean’s heart climbs into his mouth and swells enough that he can barely even breathe. All he wants is to hug Cas from behind the chair, kiss his neck, and bury his nose in that fucking nest of hair.

And that’s when Cas looks straight up, locking eyes with Dean. If he could barely breathe before, there is no usable air in the whole house now. It’s only when Cas drops his eyes back to his paper that Dean makes a valiant effort to stand, held back not just by his extreme inebriation, but also because he’s just gotten the oxygen back in his lungs.

When Dean feels his foot slipping and his weight tilting back to the floor, a warm hand catches his elbow and helps him to the table, settling him into a chair. Dean blinks, watching Cas search the cupboards for a glass, then fill it with water from the tap. He pushes the glass to Dean, a look on his face that can only be described as tender. Dean is suddenly painfully thirsty, and he leaps on the offering, gulping messily. He watches Cas out of the corner of his eye, breathing through his nose so he could keep swallowing.

“You know, I was worried. You weren’t here when Sam and I arrived.” It’s a quiet admission, but Dean freezes, a little trickle of water snaking down his chin. “I thought, maybe something happened to you. But Sam, who is much wiser than you give him credit for, assured me that you would, eventually, come home.” Dean’s still staring, possibly struck dumb, that Cas was actively worried about him. Cas had asked Sam if he was okay. And Sam, optimistic little shit that he is, had told Cas that Dean always found his way back home. Although the rustic, overgrown house could barely be called home.

Dean sets the glass down. “Hey, uh… Cas?” The angel lifts his eyebrows. “I, well. When your letter came, I wasn’t… I didn’t like it very much that you were, y’know, AWOL. I guess I just…” Missed you, Dean wants to say. But all that happens is a gusty sigh, punching his chest in, and his head drops to his chest. Dammit. Why can’t he say anything around Cas?

It doesn’t matter, though, because he hears Cas’ chair scraping on the floor, and soft footsteps walking around to the back of Dean’s chair. Then warm arms wrap around his neck, lips pressing on Dean’s left ear. Then Cas just nuzzles into the juncture of Dean’s neck and shoulder, squeezing his hold on Dean tighter.

“I love you, Dean Winchester. Even if you are a bit obtuse at times.” Dean can’t help but smile, even if he was just insulted. He puts his hand up to Cas’ arms and closes his eyes, wishing they could stay like this forever; warm, safe, and happy. Dean, Cas, and Sam. That’d be Dean’s paradise.
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