A Drunken Dream
“Cas, why…why do keep comin’ back to me?”
Dean slurs the question out as Cas helps him back to his bedroom at approximately three in the morning, arm slung over his shoulder like a soldier wounded in combat.
Cas had come home about thirty minutes prior to discover him half-conscious at the kitchen table, empty liquor bottles surrounding him like garnish. Apparently, their latest hunt had not gone well: they killed the pagan god they were after, but not before five virgins were killed.
Dean hadn’t taken it well.
“I mean it, Cas,” he repeats, when Cas ignores it the first time. “Why do you keep comin’ back.”
“Shush, Dean,” says Cas, gently but firmly. “You’re drunk.”
“I’ve never been no good for you, Cas,” Dean slurs, sounding emotional. “Never…never no good.”
“That isn’t true. And you just used a double negative.”
“Naw, no, no, you’re bein’…you’re bein’ too nice to me,” Dean insists, holding up an unsteady index finger. “I…I hurt you, Cas, I know I did. I made you leave the bunker when you were all…all human and squishy. Anything could’ve happened to you out there, but did I care?” He shakes his head adopting an exaggerated scowl. “Naaaaawww. Big man Dean Winchester, he doesn’t care what happens to his buddies. They lose they’re angel powers, an’ BAM! He kicks ‘em to the curb.”
Cas swallows, not liking to dwell on the subject. “You’re referring to yourself in the third person,” he states, attempting to divert the subject. “That is also grammatically -”
“And when I was all high on the Mark of Cain, an’ I nearly killed you? I never even tried to apologize for that, not…not proper anyway.”
He examines him out of the corner of his pinkened eye, red rims Christmas-y in conjecture with the green. “You…you wanna know why, Cas?”
“Dean, you’re highly inebriated. I’d advise you not to say anything you’ll later -”
“’Cause how do I ever,” he says anyway, free arm waving emphatically. “Make up for somethin’ like that? Huh? Do I just say, ‘sorry, buddy, I nearly…killed ya in cold blood in your own home,’ an’ just leave it at that? What am I s’posed to do, Cas? Huh? What am I s’pose to do, besides pretend it never happened?”
“You’re doing just fine, Dean,” Cas offers, which sounds bizarre in context, but he doesn’t know what else to say.
“Oh! And when you were crazy,” Dean continues, barking out a drunk, humorless cackle. “Let me tell ya, Cas, the way I treated you? I spent every last day I was in Purgatory regrettin’ that…wishin’…wishin’ I coulda done different. ‘Specially if I wasn’t never gonna see you again.” He pauses, drilling idly at his ear with his pinky finger. “But then I found you, and what was I s’pose to do then, Cas? Huh? What was I s’pose to say?”
“’Oh, heya, Cas. Just wanna tell ya, I take back what I said about not carin’ that you’re broken an all.’”
“’Yeah, I’m awful sorry you’re broken, Cas. I’m sorry I broke ya, when you first touched me in Hell, an’ I had to take it out on you because I just couldn’t come to terms with it. That I had to make myself hate you just to come to terms with the fact that the one good…one beautiful thing that happened to me, was broken because -”
“Dean! That is enough,” Cas snaps, willing himself not to hear anymore. “We’re almost at your bedroom. Until then, I’d thank you to remain quiet.”
“Okay, okay. Sheesh,” Dean huffs. “Mister Bossy Pants allova sudden…”
Soon, they round the corner to Dean’s bedroom. With the help of his grace, the door swings open and they lope over to Dean’s bed, where Cas lets him flop back on the memory foam.
He kneels down beside the bed in an serendipitous recreation of the prayer position, stooping to undo the laces of Dean’s combat boots.
“Y’know after the apocalypse,” Dean’s voice slurs out above him. “You…you stayed.” He props himself on his elbows, watching as the skilled, slender fingers undo his shoelaces. “Why’d you do that, Cas? Why’d you stay for me, after all your buddies went home?”
Cas’s brow rumples. “What are you talking about, Dean? There never was an apocalypse.”
“Not for reals, maybe,” Dean concedes. “But in the alternate timeline Mister Dick-With-Wings Zach sent to me, there sure’s hell was. And you…you were still there, Cas: doped up on prescription pills and down a pair of wings, but you were still there.” Dean’s voice is different now, almost quietly perplexed, as though he just can’t figure out why anyone would endure that for his benefit.
Cas says nothing, the delicate fan of his eyelashes prominent over his cheekbones as he occupies himself with pealing off Dean’s second combat boot.
“You…you died for me, Cas,” Dean says incredulously, as if realizing it for the first time. “You died, you died willingly, for me.” He pauses, staring off, comprehensively, into space. “And not just then, but…but so many other times, too. Why’d you do that for me, Cas? Why’d you keep comin’ back to a guy who’d ‘cause you all that much trouble?”
Cas sighs, getting to his feet with a soft oof.
“Dean,” he says quietly, looking down at the drunken figure with soft, sad eyes. “I think, deep in your heart, you already know why.”
Dean stares at him, then he swallows wetly, head shaking lightly from side to side. “No. No, I gotta hear you say it.”
“Dean -” Cas starts to protest, but he’s cut off by the feeling of Dean’s warm, calloused palm grasping his own. It’s a desperate gesture, almost a plea in and of itself.
“Please, Cas,” he whispers. “Just this once, I gotta hear it. I need to hear you say the words.”
Cas looks down at him, at the damp, desperate green eyes looking up at him, silently begging for an answer. Cas wets his lips.
“It’s because I love you,” he whispers.
Dean swallows, blinking wetly. “Say it again.”
Cas’s eyes flutter shut, thumb stroking almost subconsciously over Dean’s. This wasn’t how he wanted his first ‘I love you’ to go, but then, when did the universe ever behave according to plan?
“I love you, Dean.”
It’s still barely audible, but it’s evidently all Dean needs. Next thing Cas knows, he’s being tugged down into an open-mouthed kiss, Dean’s warm, wet lips still somewhat bitter with the residual taste of whisky.
Cas’s first instinct is to melt into the sensation, to cherish Dean’s pliable, human warmth forever and ever, right here and now, but he forces himself to pull away.
“No,” he says firmly, pushing Dean back onto the bed. “No, Dean, you’re drunk. It isn’t right.”
“Please,” Dean whines, still attempting to follow the sensation. “Please, Cas, I…I want this, I swear I do, I’ve waited so long -”
“So have I. But I will wait until you’re sober and able to give me proper consent.”
“Damn it, Cas, m’not a vessel.” Dean sounds frustrated. “And I’m not some sort of chick, either, so you don’t need to -”
“I always need consent,” Cas almost snaps at him. “You are the person I love, Dean, and I’ll respect your boundaries even if you do not.”
Dean looks as though he’s about to say something else, then thinks better of it, mouth flopping slightly open and then closed again. He looks almost abashedly off to the side.
Cas can see he’s feeling uncertain, somewhat embarrassed about propositioning Cas so aggressively. He squeezes his hand reassuringly.
“Go to sleep, Dean,” he says gently. “I’ll still be here when you wake up.”
Dean looks at him hopefully. “You will?”
“Of course,” he assures him. It’s only when he strokes his thumb over Dean’s that he realizes they’re still holding hands. “I always watch over you, Dean.”
Dean’s adam’s apple bobs as he swallows, appearing to think it over. “Will you…will you lay in bed with me?” Cas eyes him dubiously, and Dean’s eyelids flutter. “Please, I just wanna hold you…just wanna feel you. I won’t try anything, I promise.”
Cas considers it, but finds himself cracking under the pleading emerald gaze. He crawls into bed, trench coat and all, allowing his head to rest atop Dean’s rib cage. He finds it comforting, the rhythmic thud of his heartbeat, the steady heave of his lungs.
It only occurs to him that this is happening, really happening, as he feels Dean’s warm, strong arms envelope him, and he realizes that he actually said it: after all this time, he told Dean he loves him.
Of course, he’s said it before, in what he thought would be his last moments after being impaled by the venomous spear, but this time is different: Sam and Mary aren’t here, and there’s no room for ambiguity as to who he’s talking to. He’s told Dean he loves him.
Up till now, he’s been too preoccupied with managing Dean’s drunkeness to realize the full magnitude of what’s just transpired. Now he’s beginning to, and it’s frankly overwhelming.
“You’ll be here when I wake up, right?” Dean inquires, jogging him from his introspective stupor.
“Yes, Dean. Go to sleep,” he murmurs, adding, “I love you,” just to confirm to himself that he actually said it. Finally said it.
“I love you too, Cas. G’night.”
Cas swallows, attempting to pretend his entire sense of reality hasn’t been completely upended. They’ll have a lot to talk about in the morning.