(That one hospital AU, reposted as all three parts at once! ♥)
“I’m perfectly fine.”
His name is Castiel, and he’s been on Dean’s ward, making himself known, for what feels like about fifty years, now, but is in fact probably closer to a couple of weeks. He’s pretty much the definition of a terrible patient; he’s rude, he’s catty, he’s critical – he won’t eat the food they give him, he complains, loudly, at all hours of the day. He gets bored easily, rolls over sulkily when he gets tired of TV, and folds his arms like a disobedient child, staring resentfully at anyone who so much as looks at him.
He is also, coincidentally, Dean’s favourite.
It takes a while for them to get anywhere close to ‘normal’, but it happens.
Dean knows from experience, anyway, that ‘normal’ is way more relative than people give it credit for. If your ‘normal’ is shooting monsters in the face, and then that normal becomes trawling through the wreckage of a bomb blast, and then that normal becomes trying to find your place in a world which is suddenly altogether slower than you ever remember it being – the word isn’t enough. It just means too many different things.
But like Castiel always assures him, the most impressive thing about the human mind, the human body, is its ability to adapt. You can lose everything – name, flesh, home – and still keep rolling on; and, lucky for Dean, he has two, and most of three.
Two fingers on his left hand were a tiny sacrifice, really, in the face of all that he’s given before; his sanity, his time, his fucking life. You have to give sometimes, to get what is worth having, and he knows that sometimes what you give is as simple, as cliché, as your pound of flesh. He was just glad Sam wasn’t the one who gave it.
But still, here, sitting on the hood of the car, waiting for Castiel to take their orders outside from the roadside café, he flexes his hand; he misses his pinkie and ring-finger, strange to think they aren’t still there. He’s all scar tissue now, old burns, old fractures.
The air around him is crisp, almost-static. The trees around them drop their leaves in swathes, still early enough in the season that their nakedness is new, and shocking.
He runs into the FBI agents again that night; the ridiculously tall guy and the shorter one with the nice smile, both of them built like brick houses, still in their suits. Embarrassed (or intimidated), he tries to sidle past their booth in the bar unnoticed, but the shorter one catches his eye as the taller slides out of the booth, making motions with his hands towards the bar.
The shorter guy – Agent Perry, Linus thinks, but he’s not sure – looks him up and down, loose and easy in his movements, grinning a little less enthusiastically since the last time Linus saw him. He doesn’t look as drunk as he did, before, but he’s still got that edge to him; eyes alight, hands spread wide over the back of the booth. Nice hands. “Hey.” He says, little nudge of his voice, and his gaze is dark but careful. Linus finds himself at a loss as to where to put his own hands.
“Hi,” he tries, and then is embarrassed. “You, uh – feeling better?”
The agent – Perry, definitely Perry – Ducks his head, briefly, with a smile. “Yeah.” He says, and offers nothing else. He shrugs. “You know how it is. Stresses of the job.”
“Sure.” He replies, dubious, and Perry hears it in his voice; he laughs.
Linus hesitates, then, not sure if he should leave; if this brief exchange will be all Perry’s willing to afford him; hell, if the partner who left, who he looked pretty cosy with, would be none too happy about the way Linus is unable to stop watching him; his beautiful mouth and eyes, the way his suit fits him (which, for the record, is well). But Perry looks briefly, awkwardly, at the table he’s sitting at, and then pats the seat beside him and speaks as if bracing for a blow.
“So, hey, can I buy you a drink?”
By the time the taller agent comes back, Dean has his arm around the back of Linus’ seat and is leaning way too close for this to be just friendly, fingers skirting the edge of his collar, breath warm on the side of his neck when he dips forward to talk against the shell of his ear. On instinct, when Perry’s partner comes back, Linus flinches away; but the taller guy just rolls his eyes like he’s used to it, and makes a gesture at Perry with his hand, prompting him to dig in his pocket and lightly toss him his keys. The taller – obviously a lot more sober, and a lot more sensible – agent waves a sarcastic goodbye to Perry, whose hand has made its way below the rim of Linus’ collar, fingers tripping their way ticklish across the back of his neck.
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” He says gently, eyebrow raised – then catches himself. “Actually, uh – just – have fun, guys.” He waves gently, looks sheepish, and ambles his way out of the bar on his long legs. Perry and Linus both watch him go.
“Your partner-“ He’s not drunk, but he’s tongue-tied; “He doesn’t mind?”
“Sam?” Perry looks at him, confused. “Why would he care?”
Linus shrugs, embarrassed. “Stupid question. Sorry.”
Perry eyes him for a second longer, then laughs. “We’re like brothers, man. It’s not like that.” He pauses. “Hang around a sec. Next round’s mine.” He slides around the booth, and out of it.
Agent ‘Dude, call me Dean’ Perry buys the next round, and the next, then looks left and right, and slurs his mouth over Linus’ jaw. “Wanna get out of here?” he mutters, the scent of his breath warm, bitter.
Linus laughs, tipsy-loose; he nods.