The words rattle around in Dean’s skull. Baby rolls smoothly down the interstate heading straight east. They’re through the mountains now and it’ll be an easy drive once they pass through Denver.
It’s been nearly four hours now, the sun has set entirely behind the mountains and Sam is sleeping against the window. His deep, even breaths should be calming but Dean still full of nervous energy and strung out like a live wire.
Getting drunk off his ass doesn’t help. Eyeing a pretty girl didn’t help. Billie wouldn’t just let him die. Yeah, something’s fucking wrong but there’s nothing he can do about it and Dean’s not fine but he can’t fix it.
He grips the wheel angrily, teeth grinding. Why can’t something just go right for once, why—
His phone rings.
With an apologetic glance at Sam, who’s startled awake, Dean answers.
“Dean, don’t hang up.”
What in the—
“I know you may be surprised—don’t hang up—and that’s fine I’m a little amazed myself but, Dean, it’s me. I’m here. I mean, I’m—I’ve just traveled to Denver if you could pick me up. Um, please.”
Who the hell would fake Castiel’s voice Dean has no idea. He looks at Sam but he can’t quite form the words. His brain is too fuzzy.
“I’m sorry, Dean, I—I’ll explain everything. Can you please come? I’m using a payphone behind a Walmart, if you take the exit for Tower Road you’ll see it. Just—”
Dean is still not really listening. Someone who knew his cell phone number and sounds an awful lot like Castiel is waiting for him just three miles ahead and maybe it’s the stupidest fucking thing he’s ever done but Dean, he… he has to know.
“I’m hanging up now,” he says, his voice inexplicably rough. “We’ll be there in five minutes. You… if you’re not him you’d better be long gone or I swear I’ll end you.”
“Dean,” the voice on the other end breathes. Dean’s chest tightens. “I promise you it’s me. I’m so glad you’re close, this was very lucky. I’ll see you soon and I’ll explain everything.” A pause. “Goodbye, Dean.”
With a shaking finger, Dean hangs up.
“What the hell was that?” Sam asks.
Dean continues to stare out of the windshield, numb and dizzy. “Cas,” he manages.
“Cas called you,” Sam says in his most incredulous voice.
“That’s why I said I’d end him,” Dean replies. He sees the Walmart through his window and turns on his blinker. “Only a monster could fake his voice like that.”
“Okay,” Sam agrees easily. Still trying to appease or placate him or whatever.
He drives slowly into the alleyway, eyes fixed on the payphone. And then he sees the figure next to it. A man, with his back turned, is staring up at the nighttime sky. Can’t see a damn star from here but he’s looking anyway. He’s wearing a fucking trench coat and Dean thinks his heart might beat out of his chest.
“Whoa,” Sam says but Dean doesn’t look at him. As if in a trance, he’s suddenly outside of Baby, standing on the pavement and staring at—
The man turns. Dark and neatly styled hair, the sharp point of his nose, the defined angle of his jaw, and finally those familiar blue eyes. Fuck, Dean feels like he’s been punched in the chest.
Neither one of them says a word, locked on to each other’s gaze like it’s the only real thing left in this world. Lucifer could pop up right next to them and Dean thinks he wouldn’t bat an eyelash.
Taking a deep breath, he steps forward one, twice. His breath is still frozen in his lungs. Idly, he contemplates getting some holy water, some silver, something, but…
It’s Castiel. He knows it deep in his bones in some ridiculous, incomprehensible way, the way he knows the callouses on his hands and the tread of Baby’s tires. Cas is standing right in front of him, back from the dead, and Dean can’t summon the wherewithal to say hello.
So he takes two more steps, then three and four, and finds himself nearly chest to chest with an angel of the Lord. The one who saved him over and over and over again. Who only ever tried to do the right thing and to help people and it got him dead but he’s back how is he back what did Dean ever do to deserve—
“Dean,” Cas says so quietly he’s not sure Sam heard him.
Dean raises his hands, pressing his palms to the plane of Cas’s chest. Solid and warm, his heartbeat lub-dubbing beneath his sternum. He lets his fingers trace the edges of this fucking coat, the one he carried around with him for an entire fucking year that other time that Cas died and still Dean got him back.
“Dean, I—” Cas stammers, and Dean looks into his eyes again. “I’m sorry. I did not mean to leave you.”
Dean can’t help but huff a laugh, though it’s like punching air out of a balloon. Hot, heavy tears spring up in his eyes and he can’t be bothered to wipe them away. He clenches his fists in the fabric of Cas’s lapels and bows his head.
And Cas leans forward, ever so slightly, just enough to close the distance between them. He rests his forehead against Dean’s and lets his own tears fall. Dean listens to the way Cas’s breath hitches, feels the warmth of his skin and the scratch of his hair and relishes that Cas is alive. Cas is alive.
“Tell me I’m not dreaming,” he demands. “Tell me I’m not going to wake up from this.”
Cas places one hand on the back of Dean’s neck and squeezes. “No, Dean, I am here.” He sniffles. “Surely you have better dreams than this.”
He’s probably referring to the dumpster smell in this alley, but Dean couldn’t give less of a fuck. “No,” he insists. “Not lately.”
Cas’s other hand settles around one of Dean’s fists still clinging to his clothes. His skin is warm and, fuck, Dean’s so glad that he’s alive. He doesn’t care how it happened, only that it’s been too many days since he last heard Cas’s voice.
Oh God. Kelly and Jack. Cas has no idea. He’s—
“Your mind is very noisy,” Cas remarks, a smile on his lips. Dean can’t stop looking at him. “I’m so happy to see you.”
“Me too, Cas.”
“I’m going to go greet Sam,” Cas tells him, pulling back minutely from their embrace. “And then we’re going to get in the Impala, and you’re going to take us home.”
“Home,” Dean echoes. Cas frees himself from Dean’s grip but he doesn’t drop his hand, instead using it to drag him over to Sam, who’s leaning against Baby’s hood and looking for all the world like the cat that got the cream.
“It’s good to see you, Sam,” Cas says warmly.
“Hi, Cas, you too.” Sam looks him up and down and sighs. “Looking good, man. Where’d you get your old duds?”
“I haven’t a clue,” Cas allows. He looks back at Dean now, who’s been so utterly focused on staring at Cas’s profile he’d missed what was said.
“You ready to go home?” Sam says but Dean still hasn’t looked at him. Can’t look at anything else, and Cas is staring right back.
“Definitely,” he says with a beautiful, gummy smile. Dean squeezes his hand and smiles, too.
Lords Reactions when MC ask-What’s the funniest thing that happened in your childhood?
I tried but… OK HONESTLY MOST OF THE LORDS HAVE TERRIBLE CHILDHOODS IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. I think Nobunaga by far had the happiest childhood. Yukimura did okay too, I guess, considering he blames himself for his mother’s death. Wow.
Lords reacting to being asked about something funny that happened during childhood
Nobunaga: …nothing. NOTHING FUNNY EVER HAPPENED. Don’t you dare ask anyone else. Mitsuhide: A cat once snuck into my bed while I was asleep. It sat on my face. Saizo: wouldn’t you like to know :) Masamune: …………Shigezane wet the bed until he was 8. Kojuro: A cat once chased me up a tree. I thought I was safe, but then I remembered. Cats climb trees. Inuchiyo: You. You happened.
I just saw a post saying “I know lapis could never write back, but peridot still sends her letters” or something like that, and it had her letter in a bubble. And I’m thinking, wouldn’t it be really sweet if one day, peridot is just minding her own business, and a blue bubble pops up next to her? 😍