“Shhh,” Cas whispered into his hair. “Shhh, it’s alright,” Dean sobbed against his shoulder, and Cas rocked them back and forth, the milk sloshing as he scooted forward. Dean’s hands fisted into the material of his sweater, blunt nails biting into his back. Dean’s palms were damp where they pressed against him. “Fuck,” he whimpered, and Cas rocked them because he didn’t know what else to do. “Goddamn milk,” Dean choked. “Fucking milk everywhere.”
Dean can acutely remember Castiel’s favorite song. Maybe that’s because he was the one to show Castiel the song. Or, maybe it was because it was one of Dean’s favorite songs, too. Of course, he would never in a thousand years admit that it was one of his favorite songs–God, they played it on the freaking radio–but when he was alone in the Impala, nobody around, he would comfortably sing along to it while it blasted out of his stereo speakers. Sam would give him the most incredulous look if he knew, but of course, it could never be anything compared to the eyebrow raising he gave Dean when he found out that Dean was a secret fan of Doctor Sexy, M.D. Dean had the feeling he would never live that down.
But, all of that besides the point, for some reason, it stuck with him that Cas’s favorite song was Drops of Jupiter. More than likely it was because he spent hours listening to the damn thing. He remembered when he was taking a pointless drive through the country, passing by golden fields of wheat and stretching crops of what he assumed were carrots, when Cas appeared in the passenger’s seat beside him with only the slight ruffling of his wings signifying he had only just arrived at all. Dean was mildly accustomed to this phenomenon by this point, but seeing as he was singing loudly along to popular radio, which he commonly scoffed at, he jumped and almost instinctively slammed on the brakes. Cas looked ahead with no concern on his face, features etched with soft lines of content.
“Dammit, Cas,” Dean growled, breathing out heavily to slow down his rapidly beating heart. “Give a guy some warning before you pop in like that.” No matter how many times Dean said that, Cas never obliged. “What do you want?”
Cas looked over to Dean, looking almost offended. As if he wasn’t the one who appeared in my car, Dean thought bitterly. “What leads you to believe I want anything?” Cas asked, squinting his eyes in true Castiel fashion. Dean couldn’t imagine squinting like that as much as Cas did. It would hurt his face. “Do you automatically assume that whenever I come to you, I desire your assistance?”
Dean gave him a brief glance, raising his eyebrows. “Seeing as our lives are never ending war, yes, I do. And you’ve never exactly popped in my car to have a friendly chat before, either.”
“That’s true,” Cas responded, sounding slightly put off. “I usually only ever come if you pray for me to help you. Right,” Cas sighed, turning his gaze back to the road in front of them. “How foolish of me.”
“Oh, come on, Cas, that’s not what I…” Dean began, then let out a huff of breath through his nose and tapped his palm against the steering wheel. “Do you need anything then?”
“As a matter of fact, yes,” Cas’s voice sounded much less irritated now. “I need to know the name of this song.”
Dean was so startled, he almost forgot to reply. Normally, had it been anyone else, he would have immediately shut the radio off the moment they arrived. But there was something different about Cas. Unlike Sam, or any other human, for that matter, Cas didn’t have any sort of expectations of Dean. Sam would have had a heart attack if he knew Dean was listening to a song that had been made after the 90’s. Cas, however, didn’t think anything of it. It was just his way; go with the flow. Dean didn’t have to fit into any sort of mold around Cas. In fact, he doubted Cas would even bat an eye if Dean told him he watched Doctor Sexy in his free time.
“Uh,” Dean stammered, then composed himself. “It’s, uh, called Drops of Jupiter. Not my usual style,” Dean couldn’t help adding, “but it’s alright, as far as trash pop goes.”
“Drops of Jupiter?” Cas repeated, completely ignoring Dean’s criticism of the modern music industry. “That’s an…interesting title. What’s it about?”
“If I could replay it I would, so you could listen to the lyrics,” Dean said regretfully. “But can’t rewind radio.”
“You don’t know what it’s about?” Cas sounded even more baffled now.
“No, it’s not that I…” Dean trailed off again, growing irritated with his inability to explain human things to an angel. “It’s music, Cas, everyone interprets it differently. There’s no set meaning to a song, even if the artist says so. It’s all bullshit, whatever they say. That’s what the song means to them. Not to every person who hears it.”
There was a brief pause, in which Cas looked exceptionally thoughtful. “What’s your interpretation of it?” He finally asked, giving Dean a wide-eyed, innocent look.
“What’s it matter?” Dean snapped, almost instantly regretting his tone when he saw the taken aback and slightly hurt look in Cas’s round, blue eyes. The angel didn’t reply, instead looked back out the window.
After a few moments of silence, Dean’s guilt grew and he sighed. “You kill me, Cas,” he grumbled before tightening his grip on the wheel. “I see it as a kind of goodbye song. Like, the guy is saying goodbye to someone who already left long ago, and he’s talking to her because he misses her.” Each word seemed to have to be torn from Dean’s throat, as if opening up to this angel next to him was an exceedingly difficult task, which it shouldn’t have been. “He’s saying goodbye to her even though she can’t hear him.”
There was another silence, then a flutter of wings. When Dean looked over, he was alone once more. Unsure of whether to be relieved, embarrassed or worried, he turned the radio off (which had long since stopped playing Drops of Jupiter) and continued the rest of the drive in silence.
* * *
It didn’t happen again until a few weeks later, when Dean went on another solitary drive. He wasn’t playing any music this time, but regardless, there was a sudden rustle of feathers and Cas was there, looking expectantly at Dean.
“Good morning, Vietnam,” Dean said, giving Cas an identical look. “Can I help you?”
“Why isn’t the song playing?” Castiel asked, looking crestfallen.
“What song?” Dean asked, feigning a confused expression to stall.
“You know what song, Dean,” Castiel answered, sounding much too angered about the damn song.
“It doesn’t play on the radio twenty-four-seven,” Dean retorted sharply, nonetheless switching on the radio and surfing through the stations. After what seemed like eons of radio surfing, Dean shut it off, giving Cas an apologetic glance. “Sorry, buddy.”
“It’s not your fault,” Cas replied, giving Dean a small smile before looking out the window at the trees racing by.
“So, what, you gonna zap off to wherever the hell you usually go when you poof out of nowhere?” Dean asked, keeping his eyes locked on the road.
“Why would I do that?” Cas inquired, squinting at Dean again.
“Your song isn’t playing,” Dean replied, defensive. “I thought you came here to hear it.”
“I can still come to enjoy your…sullen…company,” Cas challenged him, a teasing tone to his deep voice.
“Yeah, you sound so thrilled to do so,” Dean shot back, letting out a subtle laugh through his nose. Nothing else was said, and after a few minutes, Cas vanished. Dean wasn’t sure if this was good or bad, peaceful or awkward. For some reason, his mind leaned towards the former.
* * *
As an experiment, Dean began to go on his drives in solitude more often. As he’d expected, Cas showed up every time. Either he was constantly watching Dean, or he had some sort of sixth sense that told him whenever Dean was alone in the car. Either way, Cas never appeared to the Winchester brothers together (unless they specifically called, of course), but instead dutifully showed up whenever Dean found himself out in the middle of nowhere.
Unfortunately, the song was rarely on when human and angel rode along the desolate road together. Once or twice it’d been playing, and Cas had listened with a very intent face, then smiled when it was over, bidding Dean farewell and–in the blink of an eye–was gone. When the song wasn’t on the radio at the time, he stayed for a while, asking Dean things like, “Who thought to put peanut butter and jelly together on bread to make a sandwich?” and “What exactly is the fundamental purpose of watching baseball?” More often than not, Dean had absolutely no answer to Cas’s ridiculous questions.
One time, however, he asked, “Will you sing the song for me, Dean?”
Dean, taken aback and having a classic knee jerk reaction, said, “I don’t sing.”
And sure enough, that became the new thing; Cas would ask Dean everytime to sing for him, and everytime Dean would answer, “I don’t sing.” Surprisingly, as Dean had always seen him as a stubborn individual, Castiel never pressed the matter, just nodded wisely and let it go. That never stopped him from asking the next time, though.
After a bit, Dean began to feel bad. For whatever reason, Cas obviously had great interest in that song, and constantly joined Dean in pointless drives just for the chance to hear it. Seeing as Dean had no power in any way, shape or form over the radio, he figured there was only one thing to do, and that was a trip to the local library with a blank cassette in his hand.
It took an hour, an illegal YouTube download, and ten thousand curse words, but after a few WikiHow articles, Dean had the song Drops of Jupiter on the cassette. He flipped the library off behind his back as he sauntered across the parking lot, irritated but relieved.
Then he was gone, heading for the wide open blue skies, the Impala’s engine purring and her wheels turning at eighty miles per hour. The windows were cracked, the sun was shining, and now all Dean had to do was wait for the angel.
And, but of course, Cas was there with his usual rustle. As Dean had expected, upon entering the silence, Cas’s face fell. He was careful to mask it, but Dean could see that in Castiel’s eyes, he always looked forward to hearing that song. Cas gave him a smile, saying, “Hello, Dean.”
“Hey, Cas,” Dean said in a notably brighter tone than he usually adopted when Cas was in the passenger seat. Perhaps the angel noticed, because he tilted his head slightly at Dean. Dean held up the cassette and tossed it onto Cas’s lap, a smirk on his face.
Cas held it up with ginger fingers, eyes wide as if he were holding a baby in his hands. “What is this, Dean?” He asked, his voice mystified. He flipped it slowly over in his fingers, stroking its hard surface as if trying to memorize it.
“Put it in and you’ll see,” Dean winked at Cas, who immediately looked hilariously alarmed.
“Put what where, Dean?” He asked in a deliberately slow voice, not taking his eyes off of Dean’s face.
“God, you pervert,” Dean mumbled, taking the cassette from Cas’s hands and shoving it into the cassette player. “It’s music, you dumbass,” he clarified when Cas still looked horrendously frightened. “Just…listen, would you?”
Despite only having heard the song a few times, Castiel’s eyes immediately lit up and the fear on his face melted into delight as the first piano keys were struck. “It’s the song,” he said in a low, content tone, a broad smile on his face. Dean wasn’t sure he had ever seen Castiel look genuinely happy like that. “How did you get the song?” Cas asked, his eyes searching Dean’s face.
“Nothing you’d understand, my man,” Dean replied, leaning back in his seat and smiling at the road ahead of him. “Just shut up and listen.”
So, Castiel did just that. He listened over and over and over again. He listened while Dean had to stop for gas because they had been driving so long, he listened while they drove through a brief rainstorm, he waited patiently while Dean called Sam to assure him he was okay, and he listened as the sun started to go down.
Shockingly, Dean never once got tired of the song.
* * *
Cas leaned forward and pressed the pause button, his eyebrows furrowed together in a look of deep concentration. Dean was surprised, to say in the least; Cas had listened to that song probably a thousand times in the past month.
“Dean,” Cas began, speaking as though he were on the brink of saying something extremely important, “I have concluded my interpretation of the song.”
Dean felt stunned, like a lightning bolt had just gone through his entire body. “You’re kidding me,” he said, then looked over at Cas. “Are you kidding me? This was all about you wanting to interpret the song?”
Castiel looked confused, doing his squinty eye thing again. “What?”
“I’ve been driving around nowhere every Goddamn week and listening to that song over and over just so you could decide what you thought it was about?” Dean’s voice rose just a pitch higher with every word, a decibel louder with every syllable.
“No, Dean, of course not,” Castiel calmly replied, understanding lighting his features. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this time with you, getting to know you and having this song as a sort of present from you to me.” Cas smiled at him.
“Get to know me?” Dean repeated, flabbergasted. “We hardly even talk!”
“There’s more to a person than what they say,” Cas argued softly, blinking. “For example, when there’s no other cars around, you don’t look at the road. You watch the scenery, observing it as if you were trying to memorize it. And you sing along to the song without actually singing; you just move your mouth to the words, and yet never uttering a sound.” Castiel looked to Dean, wearing a proud grin.
“Yeah?” Dean snorted. “And what exactly does that tell you about me?”
“Nothing,” Cas frowned. “Your mannerisms are a part of you as much as your personality is.”
“Sure, Cas,” Dean said in an unconvinced tone.
Cas seemed unsettled, and fell quiet for a few moments. “Well, I decided what I think the song means,” he finally said.
“Lay it on me,” Dean exclaimed, taking in a deep breath and letting it out through his nose.
Cas seemed pleased now. His cerulean eyes traveled back to the window as he began to talk. “I think it’s about letting go. I think it’s about someone, or something, from your past and learning to be grateful it happened or that they were in your life. I think it’s about thinking beyond your own little world and realizing how much more there is to offer, how much purpose and promise you have.” Cas took in a deep breath. “I think it’s about someone leaving, but instead of feeling left behind, you live your life and remember to say hello to them once they’ve returned.”
Dean fell silent, suddenly wrapped in his own thoughts. His eyes were squinted against the orange light of the dying sun, and he was abruptly aware of how his foot ached from driving consecutively for so long; normally, him and Sam split the job. He was also aware of how his shoulders felt tight and tense, and how his ass was sore from sitting in the same position for so long. Screw this, he thought, swerving sharply to the side of the road and into the yellow grass. Castiel immediately reached out and tried to grab at the dashboard, crying out in fear.
When Dean shut the car off and pushed his door open, blessed relief crawling through his limbs as he stood up, Castiel also scrambled out of the car, asking in a raised voice, “What the hell was that?”
“C’mere,” Dean said, ignoring Cas’s outburst. He hauled himself up onto the hood of the Impala, leaning back against the windshield as if she was a recliner. He patted the spot next to him, smiling brightly at a very bewildered Cas.
If Cas had any misgivings about this situation, he kept them to himself. He instead very cautiously, knowing Dean’s fierce love for his ‘67 Chevy Impala, hoisted himself up beside Dean, studying him and imitating his legs-out-and-crossed-with-hands-in-lap pose, looking immensely worried.
“Me and Sam sit out here and watch the stars some nights,” Dean explained, looking at the purple and red streaked sky. “I haven’t ever watched a sunset before, though. Damn shame we don’t have beer.”
When he looked over at Cas, he was holding a six pack in his hand. “Where the hell did you get that?” Dean asked. He had meant to sound shocked, but instead his words came out as simply amused as he grinned. Cas was an unpredictable little shit.
“I went to a store,” Cas smiled back, hesitant but happy. He ripped a bottle out of the cardboard and handed it to Dean, pushing the rest of the pack to his side as well.
“Woah, woah, woah,” Dean held up his hand, giving Cas an incredulous look that would have put Sam to shame. “What are you doing?”
Cas seemed confused (which seemed to be a main point of his personality). “I thought you wanted beer,” he stammered.
“I do, but I’m not drinking that entire pack,” Dean wrinkled his nose. “C’mon, man, it’s tradition for both of us to drink. Not just the driver. You got a death wish?”
“Can’t say so,” Cas admitted, grabbing a bottle. “I spend enough time in heaven as it is.”
The sun set, the moon rose, and they finished of the pack quickly. Cas offered to grab another, but Dean quietly refused. They stared at the stars, watching in comfortable silence. Dean couldn’t help but glancing at Castiel at times; he seemed awed, and Dean could easily guess why; Cas had probably watched these stars being made, been among them before. They must have seemed so insignificant from down here.
“So why do you identify with it so much?” Dean asked softly, clenching his hands. He was horrible at in depth talks.
“With what?” Cas asked absentmindedly, not tearing his eyes from the sky, almost as if transfixed.
“I don’t,” Cas simply replied.
“Really?” Dean inquired, staring at Cas. “Why do you love it so much then?”
“Because it’s deep,” Cas said slowly. “It’s more than it seems. And it was one of your secrets you showed to me.”
Dean opened his mouth, ready to ask Cas to elaborate, but shut it and instead lifted his face to the sky as well.
He knew damn well what Castiel meant.
* * *
And then, the angels fell.
Sam was barely standing, Dean felt like fear was dragging him down to the ground, Crowley was probably half dead in the church, and they had no idea where Castiel was.
And the angels were falling.
Had it not been so horrifying, it would have been gorgeous. They looked like falling stars; they gleamed brilliant gold in the dark night sky, falling to the earth in graceful streaks. They rained down everywhere, dotting the sky like the distinct spots on a Dalmatian.
But instead of marveling its beauty, Dean was trying not to scream out in despair.
Sam weakly fell back against the Impala, looking as if he hadn’t slept in years. Immediately panicked, Dean asked, “Sammy?”
“I’m okay,” Sam said faintly, taking in deep breaths. “Dean, what’s happening?”
Dean’s heart fell to his stomach. Sam wasn’t okay and he knew it. Nonetheless, his emerald gaze traveled back to the falling angels. “The angels…” he murmured. “They’re falling.”
What does this mean for Cas?
As if he had a cue, there was a crunching noise from behind the car. Instantly on guard, Dean whirled around, reaching for the gun in his jacket out of habit. Then his hand dropped limply to his side.
Castiel was stumbling towards them, his hair a rumpled mess and his clothes dirty. His eyes were wide, his mouth slightly open as if he couldn’t breathe, and his steps clumsy, uneven. As he grew closer, Dean could see he was bleeding from a gash in his neck. Chills ran up his spine; Cas was an angel, he should be able to heal himself. He was an angel.
He was an angel, wasn’t he?
Dean hurried around the Impala, his eyes wide too. “Cas?” He asked in a hoarse voice. Cas stared at him, eyes bleak with horror, his voice rough and quiet when he spoke.
“Metatron,” he choked out weakly. “He…he tricked me. It wasn’t a spell to lock up heaven, it was…” Agony burned in his eyes and his body clenched up, his breaths coming in tiny, rapid gasps.
Dean knew what was happening before Cas did. His heart shattering, Dean hurried forward and wrapped his arms tightly around Cas, holding him tightly to his chest. Cas began shaking, hugging back weakly at first. Then Dean could hear the racking gasps begin to take on a rhythm, and Cas began to clutch Dean as if he was the only thing Cas had left.
Castiel’s sobs were so strong, he could hardly gasp in air. He cried loudly, forcefully, without shame. Dean was actually glad; Cas couldn’t just keep this bottled inside. It would destroy him. But at the same time, Dean’s heart broke at the sound of Cas’s anguish. He put his hand into Cas’s hair, holding him even tighter. His other hand rubbed up and down Castiel’s back, feeling the soft texture of the trenchcoat beneath his fingertips. Cas was gripping Dean so tight that Dean could hardly breathe himself. Or was that just his grief?
“I’m so sorry!” Castiel suddenly screamed out; in all his years of hunting, of seeing countless people die before his eyes, Dean had never heard such raw pain in someone’s voice. He had never heard such regret, horror, shame. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry!”
Dean was afraid, something he didn’t admit to himself often. He had this amazing person, his best friend, his family, in his arms falling completely apart and Dean didn’t know what to do. So, he did the first and only thing he could think to do.
He began to hum out those first few notes, the notes he had long since memorized like he did his own name, gently laying his chin on the top of Cas’s head, gently swaying back and forth.
“Now that she’s back in the atmosphere, with drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey, hey…” Dean softly sang, running his fingers through Cas’s short hair. “She acts like summer and walks like rain, reminds me that there’s a time to change…hey, hey, hey…”
Cas was beginning to go limp, becoming too exhausted to even cry much longer. Dean sang a little louder, half hoping to drown out Cas’s heartbreak with his voice.
“But tell me, did you sail across the sun? Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded, and man,” Dean let out a short laugh, “heaven is overrated.”
Castiel was shaking now, his fierce grip on Dean’s leather jacket slowly unwinding. “Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star?” Dean’s voice began to wobble. “One without a permanent scar?” He gulped, falling silent for a few heartbeats, then sang again. “And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?”
For whatever reason, that line seemed to get to Cas and the sobbing came full force all over again. Dean held him tighter, gingerly pressing his lips to the top of his head. “Now that she’s back from that soul vacation, tracing her way through the constellation, hey, hey, hey.” Cas hadn’t cried so hard before. “She checks out Mozart while she does tae-bo, reminds me that there’s room to grow, hey, hey, hey.”
Dean’s voice rose, lifting his words to the sky above, where angels fell like snow. Now that he’s back in the atmosphere I’m afraid that he might think of me as plain ol’ Jane. Told a story about a man who was too afraid to fly so he never leaves land.”
“I’m so damn sorry!” Castiel screamed, clinging to Dean as if he were a burr.
“But tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet? Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day and head back to the Milky Way?” Dean’s voice was soft again, letting Castiel hear his grief, let him scream out his soul to the heavens (which was probably a bad way of putting it).
“And tell me, did Venus blow your mind? Was it everything you wanted to find? And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?”
Dean knew Sam could hear them. Dean knew his stupid song wouldn’t be enough to put Castiel back together. Damn, he knew nothing he did right now mattered; the world was practically ending. But he knew he had to try, didn’t he?
Didn’t matter. He would anyway.
But tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back toward the Milky Way?
And tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?
And tell me, did you fall for a shooting star,
One without a permanent scar?
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself?
Cas slowly calmed down, his cries eventually becoming ragged breaths. Dean knew he had to be utterly exhausted. One more time, he ran his fingers through Cas’s hair, suddenly aware of the vulnerability both of them had shown. Feeling slightly flustered and embarrassed, he almost had a typical Dean knee-jerk reaction. However, he allowed himself to keep his hold on his fallen angel. It felt nice, to hold him.
For a moment, it felt like he could actually doing something right.
“Na, na, na, na, na na, na, na,” Dean hummed softly, bracing himself and planting a kiss on the top of Castiel’s head. His heart pounded at the intimacy of the gesture, wondering in half panic and half curiosity how Cas would react.
Castiel just held him tighter and whispered, “Thank you, Dean.”
guYS BUT WHAT IF AFTER CAS FALLS AND HE’S HUMAN HE HAS NIGHTMARES ABOUT ALL THE THINGS HE DID IN HEAVEN AND BEING CONTROLLED BY NAOMI THE FIRST FEW NIGHTS SO EVERY NIGHT DEAN RUNS HIS FINGERS THROUGH HIS HAIR AND SINGS HEY JUDE AND I JSUT