Dean sat in a flimsy chair next to Sam as the doctor finished up and left the room. He jerked a thumb towards the cast that encased Sam’s shin. “Nice cast. Want me to sign it?”
“Shut up, Dean,” Sam said miserably. “Eight weeks. Eight freaking weeks.”
“Hey, we deserve some time off anyway. You’re hurt, Cas is hurt… We’ll just go back to the bunker for a bit and recover,” Dean said easily. “Hell, let’s get back there before I get hurt.”
“You know, speaking of Cas,” started Sam hesitantly. He broke off with a frown.
Dean looked at him expectantly. “Yeah? What happened anyway, did I black out?”
Sam gave him a quizzical look. “No, Dean. You died.”
“Oh. Right,” he said, swallowing hard. “Well, what else is new.”
“But that’s the thing,” Sam said. “Cas came in just as you… died, and…”
“And when he got the club, he used it to save you before killing Dagda,” Sam admitted. “I mean, I’m not mad - I’m definitely glad you’re alive - but if Cas had killed him and then saved you, I wouldn’t have this,” he said, slapping the plaster on his leg.
Dean frowned. “Maybe he thought the club’s power would die with Dagda,” he proposed, not entirely believing it himself.
Cas had saved Dean before rescuing Sam. Dean wasn’t quite sure what to make of this, so he stored it away to think about later. Punching Sam lightly on the arm, he said, “Come on. Let’s get out of here.”’
They checked out of the hospital and drove back to the hotel, finding Cas waiting in the parking lot. He stood stiffly next to a dumpster, looking forlorn. All of their bags rested by his feet. Dean approached him, leaving Sam in the Impala.
“Hello, Dean,” came Cas’s automatic reply. Dean looked at him, and Cas did that little thing where his eyes narrowed ever so slightly, as if trying to figure Dean out with merely a glance. “I sent the cops away.”
“How’d you manage that?” Dean asked, mildly impressed.
Cas looked off, over Dean’s shoulder. “I did the normal thing. I pretended I had been knocked out the whole time, and that the culprit had already escaped.”
Dean nodded. “And they bought it?”
“They did,” he replied. “I did manage to hold on to the club, though. Judging by the fact that it killed Dagda and… you, it should have two kills left in it. It could be useful one day.”
“Good thinking,” Dean said, not entirely caring at the moment. “Listen, Cas… Sam said you resurrected me before killing Dagda. You… Did you have a reason for that?”
Cas’s brows furrowed, and he got that confused look on his face which was downright adorab-
“Yes, I wanted you alive,” Cas replied.
“No, I mean did you have a reason for saving me first? Sam was fighting a freaking deity. I was already dead, that wasn’t changing; why didn’t you save him first?” Dean stared at him, waiting for an answer. Cas met his eyes, but they were filled with something unfathomable and Dean couldn’t quite get a read on him.
When Cas spoke, it was slowly, hesitantly. “It just…seemed like the right thing to do. I’m sorry, Dean, I have no explanation.”
Dean studied him for a minute, then gave in, clapping him on the arm. “Well, we’re all more or less alright. Sam will heal in a few weeks. I’m alive, so thanks for that. I guess the rest doesn’t really matter, does it?” Cas just frowned. Dean continued, “We’re going to head back to the bunker now; take a little time off to recoup. You’re coming back with us, aren’t you?”
“Am I?” Cas asked.
“Uh, do you want to?” Dean asked, shifting his weight.
Cas shot back, “Do you want me to?”
“Of course, Cas. I’m sorry for kicking you out last time, but Sam’s angel-free now, so you’re good-“
“Not to mention the fact that I’m no longer an angel either.”
Dean shrugged. “Well, there’s that. But I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s nothing stopping you from crashing at the bunker. The place is big enough; there’s plenty of space.”
Cas nodded. “If you are offering, I accept.”
“Then I accept.”
By sudden silent consensus, they each picked up a bag and headed for the car. As they drove away, Dean was left wondering why he felt so filled with nervous excitement. One glance in the rearview mirror was all the explanation he needed.
Dean tossed his keys onto the table next to the bunker door, then held it open for Sam to hobble through on crutches. He had trouble fitting through the door, and Dean had trouble keeping a grin off his face.
“Shut up,” Sam muttered. Dean only smiled wider. Cas followed Sam into the bunker, looking tired and a little worn. The car drive had been long on top of their already hard day. Dean’s body was begging for sleep, but his stomach was more interested in food.
“How ‘bout I fry up a few burgers, then we all get some rest, huh?” Dean offered.
Cas nodded. “That sounds excellent. Thank you, Dean.” Sam grunted his agreement as he slumped down on the couch, propping his cast up on the coffee table.
Dean glanced between them for a minute before heading for the kitchen, methodically preparing his favorite food. They ate in silence; anything interesting that could have been said between them had already been during the long drive. Sam left his empty plate on the table and grabbed his crutches. “I think I’m gonna turn in, guys. Goodnight. Or morning. Or whatever it is.”
“See ya,” Dean said, finishing off the last of his own burger. When they were alone, Dean and Cas sat in awkward silence, both of them finished eating, neither of them talking. Their eyes skirted around the room until at last Dean said, “So, uh, want me to show you to one of the guest rooms?”
“I know where they are,” Cas said flatly.
“Right.” Another long moment went by. “Your bandage needs changed,” Dean said.
Cas stood, gathering up the empty plates. “You’re tired, Dean. It can wait.”
“Don’t worry about me,” Dean said dismissively. “Go wash up, then I’ll change it for you. It won’t take long.” He took the plates from Cas and waited a beat. Cas didn’t move. “What?”
Cas tilted his head in that scrutinizing manner of his. “Why are you so kind to me, Dean?”
“You’re my friend, Cas. Hell, you’re family. It’s what family does,” Dean said. Even as he said that, Dean knew it wasn’t quite the truth. He knew that he never had and never would feel the same about Cas as he did Sam, but some part of him was glad for that. It left other doors open. After all, it would be weird to think about Sam in the way that he sometimes thought about Cas when his forehead scrunched up like he was trying to figure Dean out like a puzzl- Dean cleared his throat.
“But even after all that I did. Dean, I nearly drove Sam insane. I declared myself God, I put you in terrible danger more times than I can count. I don’t talk to you in weeks, then call you up and expect you to rescue me,” Cas said miserably. “How could I expect anything but hatred from you? I don’t deserve your kindness.”
“Yes you do,” Dean replied immediately. “Yes you do, man, because you’ve saved my butt more than once too. You’re the one who ‘gripped me tight and raised me from perdition’,” he said, mimicking Cas. “Remember that? You freaking pulled me out of hell. You’ve always been there for me, man, and I mean that. Because when you went dark side, it wasn’t you anymore. But you’re back now. Hell, you brought me back to life yesterday, and you don’t think you deserve a cheeseburger and a bed to crash on? So yeah, you don’t owe me anything. Now go get a shower so I can change your bandage.”
Looking a little bewildered, Cas nodded at him, then left the room. Dean let out a breath that he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. Once he had started talking, the words just spilled out of him. Honest outbursts really weren’t his style, Dean thought. He’d have to watch those.
Since the bunker had once been home to the more community oriented Men of Letters, the showers and bathrooms were all communal. Dean walked past the door and heard the water start up, so he gathered up some medical supplies and took them to Cas’s room, figuring he’d wait there.
Dean sat down on the bed, realizing, not for the first time, just how uncomfortable the seats of the Impala could get on long drives. The soft bed was a blessing. The pounding of water hitting the floor still echoed down the hallway, so Dean leaned back, resting his back against the headboard. He didn’t mean to fall asleep, but the moment he closed his eyes, he was completely out. When he dreamt, it was inexplicably of heaven.
Cas returned to his room wearing a pair of sweatpants which Dean had bought for him. He hadn’t put on a shirt, so the cut on his abdomen was exposed, ready for a new bandage. It didn’t look quite as bad as the day before, Cas thought. Some of the inflammation had gone down, but it would still need some healing. He missed the days when he didn’t have to worry about things such as infection.
Coming to an abrupt stop in the doorway, Cas took in the scene before him - Dean sitting almost upright, his head lolled back against the wall behind the headboard. He’d forgotten what it was like to watch over Dean as he slept; it had been so long since his angelic duties were so simple. Looking at Dean now brought those memories back in sharp relief: the quiet rise and fall of his chest, the slight downturn of his mouth, the peaceful expression on his face.
Sometimes Cas was just glad to see that his eyes were closed, because that meant he didn’t have to look into them to find pain, or hurt, or fear. While he was asleep, Dean looked as tranquil as Cas thought he deserved to be all the time. And, with this in mind, Cas didn’t have the heart to wake him up, not even to move him to his own bed. Instead, he took a spare throw blanket and threw it over Dean, then gathered up the medical supplies and moved to the next guest room.
Cas clumsily managed to bandage himself, but it didn’t offer the same relief that it had when Dean did it. Maybe he hadn’t wrapped it tight enough, or put enough antibiotic. Maybe it was something else. Though it felt like his wound was on fire, Cas ignored it and lay down on his bed. As he lay there, he thought about how hard it was to grapple with all of these new human feelings, like pain and hunger. So far, he’d been doing pretty well, and some of the sensations he even enjoyed. Like dreaming. Cas loved to dream, because usually he thought of heaven, or watching the birds and bees for hours. Dreams were such an escape from the pain of humanity; such a relief. However, tonight as Cas fell asleep, he experienced something new for the first time, but certainly not the last.
He had a nightmare.