Cas hasn’t been picking up.
It’s not the first time something like this happened but Dean thought they were past this. They’ve been texting almost every day, talking at least twice a week. Now that he knows this version of Cas, he can’t take the radio silence.
It spooks him more than he lets on.
He tries again late at night, dials the number he knows by heart. Straight to voicemail. He knows it would happen, he tried just a minute ago, but the sound of Cas’ voice washes over him and he relaxes as much as his nervousness increases. At the beep, he sighs.
“Cas, buddy… where are you?”
His mouth is an ugly grimace, the lines on his face etched with concern even after he rubs his hand over his face. It’s not the first message and it won’t be the last. He should stop. He should. Still, his voice breaks.
“I need you.”
We need you, he should add - because plural is safer, less full of weight. Yet, for some reason, he doesn’t. Instead, he just swallows, calls Castiel’s name softly against the speaker as if the sound of it could summon the angel. But, just like the other times before, the line clicks dead. Cas doesn’t magically appear just because Dean is wishing it with every fiber of his being. So the hunter closes his eyes, puts the phone by the nightstand - as he always does when Cas is away. Just in case.
He’s drowning, deeper and deeper, pulled into the water by dark claws. He can’t fight it. Or maybe he just doesn’t want to anymore. All of the sudden, he’s pulled up, fast and hard and then all the water is gone. He’s dry, standing on his childhood bedroom, bright blue “I Wuv Hugz” shirt on. Cas. Cas is standing right in front of him. The angel looks down at his shirt quizzically, the twitch of his brow too accurate to be just a memory. Then, he looks back up, smiles, all soft and gentle before he steals Dean’s space and wraps tight arms around broad shoulders.
Dean doesn’t know what to do. He hugs back, closed fists against Cas’ back, but none of this makes sense and the realization hits him like a truck doing nighty on a freeway. He pulls back, eyes moist and full of hurt.
“I’m dreaming, aren’t I? You’re just a dream.”
The angel hesitates, his expression odd. He looks as if he’s considering the answer and it makes Dean think for a moment that maybe it’s really Cas, sneaking into his dreams. But then the angel nods, confirms his suspicions and Dean believes it - maybe because Cas needs him to. He wraps his arms around the angel again, anyway. Fictional or not, this Cas feels real.
“Come back to me,” he pleads to the phantom because if it’s just a dream he can’t be at fault for his own words. Cas frowns, he looks sad - like angel statues over cold stone graves. Too sad. Dean’s hand cradles his jaw and he presses closer, leans in until his lips brush Cas’ in a gentle kiss.
“I’ll wait,” he assures, “just… come back.”
At last, Cas smiles again and Dean can’t help but smile back. The angel pulls him in for another kiss but he licks it out of Dean’s mouth, all demanding and pushy, hard and bossy in that way he knows always has the hunter going a little crazy. So Dean melts into it, all soft, pleased noises, moaning into chapped pink lips, trembling fingertips dancing over Castiel’s nape.
He should be angry. He knows Cas is lying. His imagination, no matter how good, could never recreate Cas this perfectly. This is the real deal, probably neck deep into some new stupid ass decision. But Dean doesn’t say anything, just shakes his head and smirks into the kiss, pulling the blue-eyed little nerd closer still.
When he wakes up, hours later, the other side of the bed remains empty. Still, he feels a little better. Cas will come back.
He always does.