Dean likes parks. When Castiel asks why, he shrugs and doesn't look away from the children on the monkey bars. He smiles, and they sit in silence until Dean says, "They're alive."
Castiel doesn't understand. "So are you."
"They're happy," Dean counters, and Castiel doesn't respond. He watches a young girl and her mother, hand in hand, approach. The girl is curly haired and smiling, leading her mother with intent and too much force. Her mother smiles though, and the girl stops in front of him. Amber, Castiel knows, stares and she giggles.
"Honey," her mother warns.
"You're beautiful," Amber tells Castiel, and her mother makes a noise that Castiel can't quite place.
"Amber, it's time to leave."
They're gone in moments, the mother taking long, hurried steps and Amber looking over her shoulder at Castiel.
Dean huffs out a breath. "She looked right at you."
"She was blind, Castiel."
"Yes," Castiel repeats, then turns his head to look at Dean. "And?"
Dean looks back towards the monkey bars.
Sam drones on about this missing person file that is more than likely your run of the mill not supernatural missing person, and Dean chews on a handful of peanuts and goes for another. Sam stops mid sentence. "Dean, you don't eat nuts in a bar."
"I could make so many jokes about what you just said, Sam, but I'll save you the embarrassment. This time." Dean eats a few more nuts and Sam sighs.
"Fine, if you want to get E Coli, then be my guest," he mutters.
Dean pushes the bowl of peanuts away, and goes for his beer instead. "Fine. You were saying?" He glances over to the table next to them and smiles at the girl sitting there. Blonde hair, bright eyes, legs that go on forever.
She smiles back, wanly, and returns to her conversation. Dean shrugs, takes a pull on his beer, and looks at his silent brother. Sam in frowning at him, and Dean's not sure why.
It's a moment he desperately wants to break. "Hey Sam, why can't Helen Keller drive?"
Sam rolls his eyes. "Because she's a woman."
"I've told you that one already, huh? Okay, how about this. Why can Helen Keller only masturbate with one hand?"
"Because she has to moan with the other." Dean tips his beer at his brother. "Now that's funny."
"Great. Yeah, that's what, your fourth beer tonight?"
Dean isn't drunk enough to miss the disdain in Sam's voice. He takes his keys out of his pocket, eyes level with Sam's the whole time, and tosses them onto the table. "I can walk," he says, pushing his chair back. It scrapes against the floor loudly, and usually Dean hates that noise, but tonight it's kind of justified.
Sam winces. "Dean."
"I gotta take a leak," Dean mutters. He carefully makes his way to the bathroom, measured steps and maybe he is a little drunk, and forgoes the urinal when he spots the other man standing there. He doesn't want to deal with awkward nonglances, and instead slides into a stall and locks the door firmly behind him. Dean takes care of business, leaving the seat down and probably pisses on it, but he doesn't care. He closes the lid and sits down, head in his hands, and Dean laughs a little.
He hopes the other guy has left by now, and he laughs at bit more.
"What are you laughing at?"
Dean lifts his head, not even surprised anymore, and Castiel's coat brushes against Dean's knees. "You know, I don't think these things are designed for two people."
Castiel just stares at him and Dean reaches behind and flushes the toilet before standing and staring right back. It's tight, with Castiel's breath ghosting warm on his chin, but it's manageable.
"We fit," Dean says. "Whaddya know."
"Why were you laughing?" Castiel asks and Dean nods. Cutting to the chase as usual. Heaven probably didn't know how to do small talk. Maybe they were smart that way.
"I don't know," he replies. "Sam's pissed at me. I'm kinda drunk. Pissed on the seat. Stuck in a bathroom stall with an angel, you take your pick."
"You'd prefer to be somewhere else?"
"Please." Dean reaches past Castiel and unlocks the door. It swings in though, and Dean knows that's going to create a problem. "Uh."
Castiel disappears with the fluttering of wings, and Dean isn't surprised by that either. "My life is weird," he mutters, opening the door and stepping out.
He's alone, thankful for that, and washes his hands thoroughly. There's a mirror mounted above the sink, and Dean avoids his reflection without a second thought. He wipes his hands on his jeans and walks out into the bar.
Sam's gone. Dean swallows, looking at the blonde girl, but she's still engrossed in her conversation, and he contemplates another drink, but it's not appealing anymore. He wipes his hands again, they're still slightly damp, and heads for the door.
It's cold outside, and Dean considers getting a cab, but instead he burrows his hands into his pockets and starts to walk. The hotel isn't that far, after all.
Castiel falls into step next to him, glancing up at the stars with the closest thing he has to a smile.
"That must be fun," Dean remarks, his breath hanging visible in the air, and he remembers being a kid and pretending he was smoking while Sam giggled and did the same. And being a teenager and doing the same thing, while Sam rolled his eyes and pulled his jacket closer. "You know, popping up wherever the hell you feel like it. Or disappearing. Wish I could do that sometimes."
"It's a convenience," Castiel agrees, still staring at the sky as he walks.
Dean is impressed. He's tried it before, walking and looking up, ending up on his ass. Must've been another angel power, that one. "See any of your buddies up there?"
Castiel lowers his gaze. "Heaven is out of sight, Dean."
"Not a second star to the right thing, then?" Dean hunches over, a shiver raking through him, and he snaps, "Son of a bitch."
"You were cold when I found you."
This stops Dean in his tracks. He gapes at Castiel, suddenly not caring about the temperature, no matter how low it is. "What?"
Castiel stops as well, waits till a kid passes them, and why someone that young is out at this time of night, Dean has no idea, nor does he care. "I searched for you, Dean," Castiel says evenly. "Past a sea of souls, past lakes of fire, and the heat radiated. When I found you, gripped your arm, your skin was cold. I found it . . ."
"Strange?" Dean asks. Castiel nods, eyes burning into him, and Dean has to look away. He isn't sure what to do next and he needs a moment to process the new information. Dean remembers hell. He remembered the pain, the continuous pain, and then getting off the rack, and the real torture beginning.
Dean coughs, startled when Castiel lays a hand on his shoulder. He has to look up, let those eyes burn through him, and this time he doesn't look away. Dean remembers hell alright, but it ends with a bright light, and waking up six feet under.
"You know what I did," Dean says, "Down there. God knows what I did to those poor bastards."
"Yes. And still you were saved. What does that tell you?"
"That you grabbed the wrong guy."
"That you were worthy, Dean. How long did you say no before you gave in?"
"Not long enough," Dean snaps, his cheeks burning hot. He takes a step back, and Castiel's arm falls back down, useless.
"Tell me something Dean. If it was your brother, or your father, or anyone else going through what you did, and they reacted the same, what would you think? Would they be worthy?"
Dean doesn't answer, he doesn't want to answer, and he looks away, blinking back tears that he doesn't want Castiel to see. "So, uh," he says, coughs to clear his throat and hates how wobbly his voice is sounding. "I was cold in hell." Idiot.
"I warmed you."
Castiel sounds so matter of fact that Dean has to look at him, put the expression to the words, and the eyes betray the coldness. They're soft, bright under the streetlamp, and Dean smiles. "That's one way of putting it, I guess. Resurrected just doesn't have the same ring to it." Another shiver quakes through his body, and Dean remembers, right, its freaking freezing. He can still see his breath hanging in the air, and Castiel breathes in front of him, invisible and Dean thinks bastard. It's weird to him, because surely the vessel should be cold, should be breathing steam, should have a red nose and cheeks and blue lips like Dean's sure he does, but there's nothing but blue eyes and soft lips.
"You are so far from being human," Dean mutters.
Castiel cocks his head at this, no doubt confused because what Dean said should be obvious, and his eyes flicker briefly towards the ground, then back up as Dean shivers again and stamps his feet. He reaches out, fingers finding and curling around Dean's tight, and all Dean can do is stare dumbly at their intertwined hands and say, "you're holding my hand."
"Warmth," Castiel says. And it's true. Dean feels the heat rush through him, a slow burn, and it stems from their hands, up to his lips and to his other fingertips, down to his toes and settles in the pit of his stomach. Warm.
"Most guys would just offer their coat," Dean says awkwardly, but thankful, and Castiel lets go of his hand. The heat remains though, and Dean takes it as his cue to continue walking. He shakes his head, "An angel was just holding my hand."
Their arms brush together as they walk, and Castiel doesn't make a move to distance himself. Dean thinks he should, is sure he would normally, because Castiel isn't Sam brushing against him, but he can still feel the warmth radiating. It's not something he wants to lose.
Their arms brush again, and Castiel looks at him then. "Sam worries about you," he says.
Dean knows this. Hell, Sam's even said it once or twice, in the midst of an argument or a casual conversation, the words popping up like the guy at the party that no one invited. He's asked about Hell, he's stopped asking about Hell, and he's worried, using his mind mojo, and Dean wants to scream. Instead, he breathes heavy and says, "Yeah." It comes out sounding a lot like sorry, and Dean takes a step to the side, away from Castiel's arm and they keep walking. The hotel car park is a hundred feet away and Dean searches for the Impala and comes up empty. He kicks a rock absently and repeats, "Yeah."
"Would it be so terrible to tell him?"
"Terrible? I don't think that could describe what it would be like telling the guy. He thinks he wants to know, but. I mean, Sam has this vision of Hell, right? Course he does, everyone does, and there's no way." He's stopped again, at the edge of the car park, and Castiel stands next to him, watching. "There's no way they could know unless they've been there. No goddamn way. And if I told him. Well, I'd hate to ruin the fire and brimstone image he's got going, you know? Replace it with that. He blames himself as it is, the whole me going to hell thing, so telling him? Yeah, I think it would be a swell idea, Castiel, just peachy."
Dean kicks at another rock. This one is smaller then the last one, and goes farther, but it isn't as satisfying. He wants the other one. He kinda wants to go back to the bar and get another drink. Or four. The nice buzz he had going on was long gone, and he was sure Castiel was to blame.
"You're not listening, Dean," Castiel says. His voice is soft, and Dean finds himself leaning in, and there's a firmness in his tone that keeps him there. "Would it be so terrible for you, to tell him?"
"This is not a burden you should carry on your own, it's overwhelming."
"Shouldn't bottle it up, coz it's gonna burst?" Dean nods. "Yeah, I've heard that one before." He sighs. "So, you think I should do the care and share? Because, to be honest, I was starting to think that's what you were for. I mean, that and being my cryptic stalker."
Castiel lets out a huff of breath that sounds suspiciously like a laugh, and it's something Dean thinks he's heard before. He remembers it from the park, the first time, after Samhain. The second time had been a different experience, no laughs, not even a smile, just that blind girl. Dean swallows, and spots Castiel's lip twitching. It's a laugh alright, and he decides the sound isn't that unpleasant.
He finds himself smiling back, even laughing a little, because he sorta cracked an angel up and man, his life is weird, and Castiel's face falls to normal, and he blinks, long and hard and looks away. Dean finds it odd, because Castiel isn't much of a blinker, but the warmth burns inside of him, and he can't really care about much else. He's peaceful. He's warm, and it's starting to snow again.
There's something in Castiel's glance when he looks back, something that Dean knows he'll never understand, and he's really not sure he wants to, and Castiel says, "You should go inside."
"Why? Sam's not here."
The warmth slowly starts to fade, and Castiel disappears altogether. Dean swears under his breath, "evasive bastard," and does the dash towards his room. He fumbles with the keys, finally manages to get it in the hole and turn it, and it's not until he's safe in bed that the old warmth fades completely. He curses and groans until he warms up enough under the covers to be comfortable, and eventually Dean falls asleep and for once, he doesn't dream.