prompt for anon request on this: “I confessed to you riding shotgun underneath the purple skies.”
The car was quiet, next to the soft roaring of the motor surrounding them. Dean was driving, as always, hands on the wheel. Where they belonged, he felt. He’d been listening to one of his tapes before until Castiel had fallen asleep, and Dean had turned off the music so it wouldn’t wake him up. He knew how difficult sleeping was for Cas - he’d give him any opportunity to get rest.
The bags under his eyes that had always been there had become significantly larger - ever since he’d lost his wings for the last and final time, Castiel had been trying to adjust to human life. It had been like fighting a fight without any training, never winning but never losing either.
He just had to keep going, learn to cope with hunger and getting tired, deal with new emotions, new moods, new feelings. Dean had been so dedicated, so determined to help him through that he forgot all about himself until Cas pointed it out to him that he, too, had to eat. He wouldn’t sleep if Sam wouldn’t take him away from Castiel’s bed where he sat, chin in his hands so he’d be there if Cas woke up with a nightmare.
Whenever Castiel looked tired, overwhelmed, Dean felt like it was his fault. He tried anything until he found the best way to keep Castiel going, get him positive. Castiel loved training. He was still amazing with any knife, preferably those that felt like angel blades. He still had the strength and energy of a grown, muscled man, but he got tired faster.
They had started training with guns two weeks ago, and Cas didn’t want to stop. Hours on end, he’d listen to Dean, mimic his hand movements, the position of his feet, and soon Dean realized Castiel was the best learner. Cas wanted and needed this and that was enough. He didn’t give up after mistakes and pushed himself to not stop until he got it right.
He wasn’t the only one changing, though. Dean changed, too. The moment Castiel lay dead on the ground, the burn marks of his wings outspread in the dirt, Dean changed. Something died inside him, together with Cas and he only then, after all those years, understood what this ‘profound bond’ Cas had mentioned was, and how special it had always been.
But Cas had come back, thank God he’d come back, but Dean would never be the same. He was more careful, made sure Cas was never alone and told Sam to watch out for him whenever he had to leave them alone. Soon he noticed that Cas didn’t want him to watch over him like that, maybe it made him feel weak, so Dean kept it hidden. But it didn’t leave. Other feelings got stronger, too. Those feelings he’d always pushed away because he could and he didn’t want to deal with them.