Dean sat back against the headboard of his bed and closed his eyes. He was pleasantly full from dinner, and now all he wanted to do was go to sleep. It was getting late, and they had done just about all they could for the day, save research, which Dean was happy to turn over to Sam. “How’s it going?” he asked, cracking one eye open.
“Listen to this,” Sam said, “Dagda, the Celtic ruler over life and death. He’s said to carry a club.” He looked up. “That fits with what that old couple saw.”
“And the black dog?” Dean asked.
Sam shrugged. “Could be his pet. Ruler over life and death, who’s to say he doesn’t have a death omen on a leash? Maybe he gets off on warning them twenty four hours in advance and then killing them,” he said dryly.
Cas spoke up from the couch, “Does it say how he can be killed?”
Sam scanned the page. “It looks like only by his own club. One end of the club is supposed to kill nine men, while the other end can bring them back to life.” He clicked a few times. “Oh, here’s something: the club can only kill nine men every hundred and forty years. His cycle must be up.”
“And he’s killed six already,” Dean commented. “We better find him before he gets all nine.”
“Yeah,” Sam agreed. “But first I think we all need sleep. That shop-owner was killed this morning, and all of the other murders were spaced out by at least a day. We have a little time.”
“Great,” Dean said, closing his eyes again. Suddenly remembering that there were only two beds, he sat up. “Oh, yeah, how’s this working?”
They all looked at each other, then at the available beds. “Cas, you should take one of the beds,” Dean said. “You’re hurt.”
“Really, I can take the cou-“
“I insist,” Dean said. “I’ll take the couch.”
“No, Dean,” Sam protested. “You drove all day yesterday and today. You take the bed, I’ll take the couch.”
Dean rolled his eyes. “Sam, you’re like ten feet tall. You’re going to fit on that little thing?”
“It pulls out.” Dean just stared at him. Sam shrugged, “I’ll sleep diagonally.”
“Come on, Sam. You can have the bed. I’m cool with the couch,” Dean said.
Sam shook his head. “Nope. Goodnight, Dean. Night, Cas.” He spread a blanket out on the pull-out and grabbed a pillow from the closet. In minutes he was asleep. Dean envied his ability to do that.
With a sigh, Dean gave in and got into his own bed, glancing over at Cas before he turned out the light. “Goodnight, Cas,” he said quietly, not wanting to disturb Sam too much.
“Goodnight, Dean,” Cas replied. “And thank you once again.”
“Stop thanking me,” Dean muttered, face half buried in his pillow. “You don’t need to do that.” His eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to the dark, so all he could see was black.
Cas’s voice drifted through the darkness. “I’m not sure I could ever thank you enough for all the things you’ve done for me,” he said, and Dean could detect the sincerity in his voice. “I don’t deserve your kindness.”
“Shut up and go to sleep,” Dean said, but not roughly.
Dean thought he could hear the smile in Cas’s voice as he said again, “Goodnight.”
After waiting an absurdly long beat and telling his annoyingly fast heart to calm down, Dean replied, “Night.”
The room went quiet, but where Dean was so tired just a moment ago, he was wide awake now. He was alert, but not thinking about the case, or the fact that the angels were barred from heaven, or the king of hell whom they had locked up back in the bunker. No, all he could think about was the former angel who lay sleeping so peacefully less than six feet away, his gentle breathing even and steady.
Trying to get comfortable, Dean rolled onto his side, his eyes now fully adjusted to the dark. Cas lay facing him, asleep. Vaguely aware of how weird it was that he was watching his best friend sleep, Dean couldn’t help but consider how soft Cas’s lips were, or how beautifully his jaw curved.
Snapping his eyes shut, Dean berated himself internally. He was straight. He had to be; his attraction to women was undeniable. He had never noticed things like the curve of some guy’s jaw before. Or could that be because he never had reason to? But this was Cas. It was Cas. The angel who had raised him from perdition, the angel who had rebelled for him. It was also the angel who broken the wall in Sam’s head, and who had tried to take over the role of God and who had made the angels fall and- But it was Cas. None of that mattered especially because Dean knew his heart was in the right place…most of the time.
For a brief moment, Dean allowed himself to entertain the notion that he might fancy Cas, if he were gay. Which he wasn’t. But say he was; there was absolutely no reason to believe Cas would ever feel the same way in return. He was so distant, so oblivious, so…Cas. Sure, he was human now, but at the very core, Cas still didn’t understand the subtleties of humanity. Innuendoes and little looks and gestures went right over his head. And if Dean came right out and said something in such a blatant way that Cas would understand, it could ruin their entire relationship. Dean didn’t want to lose his friend over some stupid one-off feeling.
But that was all hypothetical anyway.
“Aw yeah,” Dean said, shoveling scrambled eggs into his mouth. “We should stay at hotels with continental breakfast more often.”
Sam, unsurprisingly, had a plate with a heap of fruit and a glass of orange juice. He speared a pineapple and rolled his eyes at Dean.
“What…is this?” Cas asked hesitantly, pinching a limp, mostly cooked piece of bacon between his fingers.
“Bacon,” Dean replied through a mouthful of food. “Not the best, maybe, but it is unlimited.”
“I don’t think those two even out,” Sam commented.
“They do in my book.” Dean pushed his plate back and stood. “Time for seconds.” He headed back up to the buffet line and grabbed another plate, clean and still warm. As he loaded it up with pancakes, Dean heard someone at the table behind talking loudly, with urgency.
“I told you, it was the Grim!” the man said. “There’s tons of stuff about it, I’m not making this up!”
“This ain’t no Harry Potter,” another voice said gruffly. “Just go get a cup of coffee, Jerry. It was probably all a nightmare.”
Dean turned just as Jerry ran a frustrated hand through his hair. He looked familiar; he had been the sweaty guy that Dean had passed in the hall yesterday. With a frown, he wandered over. “Hey there, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I’m from animal control. We’re chasing a stray black dog, could you tell us anything about what you saw?”
“See? Just a stray,” the other man said smugly.
Jerry shot him a look before telling Dean, “I saw it along the highway, but it… You won’t believe me. No one believes me.”
Dean tried to look sympathetic. “Try me. Any information you can give us would be helpful.”
“Well, I was driving,” Jerry said, “and this dog just appeared on the side of the road. It ran out in front of me, and I tried to stop, but… I didn’t make it in time. But when I got out to see if I’d hurt it, it was gone. No blood, nothing. Just gone.”
“Probably ran off,” Jerry’s companion added skeptically.
Dean ignored him. “What time did you see the dog?”
“About noon yesterday. I was on my way to lunch,” Jerry replied. He wiped his arm across his sweaty brow.
“And what are you doing today? Going to lunch again?” Dean asked. They looked at him oddly. “Just need to make sure it’s not a routine thing where the dog is hanging around the highway, you know?”
That explanation didn’t make any sense, but Jerry answered anyway, “No, I’m in meetings here all day. The dog is someone else’s problem.”
Dean scoffed inwardly, knowing just how wrong Jerry was. He clapped him on the shoulder. “Well, thanks for your help. We’ll look into it.”
Though his food was nearly cold, Dean headed back to his table and sat down eagerly. “Looks like we won’t even have to leave hotel,” he said. “Dagda's coming to us.”