Thank you to callowyn for betareading. Title is from "Over Our Heads" by Zero 7.
Light Keeps Passing Through
Supernatural. Dean/Cas, Sam. R. Spoilers through 5x14.
Set after the events of 'My Bloody Valentine'. "It's not so impossible." ~2200 words
Dean wakes from an impossible dream about flight, and it is 6 AM. He is alone in the room, which he tolerates. It's not his favorite way to wake up. Unsurprisingly, Cas is gone, and Dean would like to ask, "What would happen? What would happen, Cas, if you stayed the night?"
It's not a thing he needs. It's not a thing Cas seeks out. In this way, they will be fine and it is not something he lets himself linger on. Even though they both are falling, they are exactly where they need to be in this war.
Two Horsemen down, two more to go. It's not so impossible.
Dean gives himself one minute of lying around before getting up and taking a shower.
He runs into Sam at the soda machine outside, and there is an exchange of murmured heys.
"You sleep okay?" Dean asks, and Sam says yes, and Dean knows he's lying. He knew that Sam would lie, and he allows it. It won't make a difference now anyway. In a few minutes, they'll roll out of the parking lot and maybe Sam will catch some Z's in the passenger seat. Dean will drive to the sound of his brother's breathing.
"What about you?" Sam asks, with the awkward attentiveness he's had since round two with the panic room, like he has to focus on everything twice as hard but is afraid of imposing.
Dean grunts. "Excellent, thanks."
"Playing Where's Waldo with God, what do you expect?"
Sam cracks open his Coke.
"Is that any kind of breakfast for a growing boy?" Dean asks, nodding at the can.
Dean says, "I could go for some pancakes."
"Yeah," Sam says, nodding slowly. "Me too."
Cas completely avoids food and drink. Not like he's much of an eater or a drinker to begin with, but before Famine, he could be cajoled into trying the occasional french fry, Reese's cup, shot of whiskey. Now he refuses to touch any of it, and has a tendency to look at their meals like they personally offend him.
"Try this pizza," Dean says, knowing he'll be refused. "Best pepperoni in the west, I guarantee."
"Leave him alone, Dean," Sam says.
At Sam's behest, Cas continues telling them about the Huangshan mountains, how sheer rock juts out of the ground and disappears into the mist. Their peaks peep out above the clouds like stepping stones in a lake. Up there, the world seems clean and pure, just as he remembers long ago.
God is not there either.
"Where to next?" Sam asks.
"I'm working my way north," Cas replies. "Perhaps the Gobi desert."
"They have bactrian camels there," Dean says, playing at a knowing look. It's the only thing he remembers from a documentary he watched months ago.
"Yes," Cas agrees. "They do."
When Sam goes to the bathroom, Dean asks, "How soon're you leaving?"
Cas shifts in his seat. He never looks comfortable in a chair. "I should leave soon."
"You work too hard, man. At least look for him somewhere nice like Guam or something."
"He's not in Guam."
When Sam comes back, Dean is alone, and they are both so used to Cas's sudden goodbyes that Sam doesn't even look surprised anymore. Dean's slice of pizza is back in the box, appetite gone. His fingers drum on the table as he gazes out the window at nothing in particular.
"You okay, man?" Sam asks.
"What's our next case?" Dean asks, and ignores the long look Sam gives him.
Sam takes out his laptop. As it boots up, he tells Dean about exsanguinated livestock down in Texas until Dean is pulled into an inane debate about the mating habits of chupacabras, and okay. This he can do.
Cas comes back later that night tasting of sea salt.
"The amulet led me to the coast," he seems to want to explain.
"Uh-huh," Dean says, and kisses the side of his nose, then his mouth, and Cas gets the message.
This is still strange to them, still new and fragile. Cas zigzags between an effervescent teenager pursuing every bliss and a curious scientist going "hmmm" at every phenomenon. He's fucked Dean so hard that Dean had to tell him to calm down, gritting his teeth at the pain, but sometimes Cas gets lost in tasting and touching the same small detail for minutes. He'd get distracted by the curve of Dean’s collarbone or the crease between his hip and leg, and sometimes Dean can’t tell if it's a sexual thing anymore or what. But he goes with it.
It's the end of the world and Dean is happy with these simple things. Just this: pressing his face into the side of Cas's neck. This: a hand on his hip, a kiss pressed between his shoulders. Hearing Cas's voice crack when he says Dean's name, the way Cas breaks upon him like a wave.
Afterward, Cas lies on his stomach as Dean drapes himself on Cas's back, and mumbles into his shoulder, "So, what, you're not down with human things like food, but sex is a-okay?"
"I didn't rebel against heaven for a hamburger," Cas replies, and Dean muffles his laugh against his neck. "Why are you laughing?"
Dean says, "Maybe you just haven't been trying the right hamburgers."
"I doubt I'd rebel against heaven for any hamburger."
"What about a cheeseburger?"
Cas opens his mouth to reply, then hesitates. "I've never tried a bacon cheeseburger."
"That settles it. After this whole shitshow's over, we're taking you to this place in Delaware, man, right by the ocean. Best burgers in the country. You'd rebel against heaven twice for these babies." Then he says, "C'mere." Dean rolls over on his back and tugs at Cas, and Cas follows the movement, sliding his body over Dean. He lifts a hand and touches Dean's mouth, very gently – a move that surprises him. Cas can pursue his bliss just fine, but tenderness is still a practice he is cultivating.
"Hey," Dean whispers.
"Dean," Cas says, just as soft. And then Cas kisses him, and Dean closes his eyes.
He wakes up alone.
Sometimes Sam goes for hours without talking, and Dean doesn't know whether to ramble through the silence or to let it be. His brother seems content with either, chuckling and mhmming at his anecdotes or just coasting the quiet with him. There's so much in Sam's head that Dean can see but not understand. Although this never bothered him growing up, it makes Dean worried and restless now. Sam is the only family he has left, but it's like there's no time to realize that anymore these days.
So, fuck it.
"Where are we going?" Sam asks when Dean takes the next exit off the highway.
"Short break," Dean says. "And don't give me that look."
"What? What look am I giving you?"
"You know what look you're giving me, man."
"This isn't the way to Greensboro."
"I think there's a lake somewhere up here," Dean says.
Dean looks over at him. "You wanna go swimming?"
"Do I... What?"
"Swimming. It's when you go in the water and-"
"Yeah, smartass. But I mean-" Sam looks behind them at the highway disappearing around the bend behind a forest that is slowly segueing into summer. He looks back at Dean. "What about Greensboro?"
Dean shrugs. "Couple of hours. Think of it as the same amount of time we wasted the last time you got us lost."
"Fuck you, that map was outdated."
"Excuses, excuses! A true hunter doesn't need maps."
Sam scoffs. "You're so full of shit."
And to Dean's relief, Sam doesn't insist that they turn the car around and go back, nor does he sink back into his silence. He is right there sniping back at Dean like they used to, and it's the exact same shit Sam used to do whenever Dean used to commandeer the route to a bar or a cinema or the world's biggest ball of twine. If Sam wanted to go too, he wouldn't actually say it, but he would happily throw jibes at Dean until they got there.
"Who made you king of the hunters?" Sam says.
They approach a T-intersection and Dean sees the glitter of water between the trees.
"I did," Dean answers. "I led a fucking coup."
At the lake shore, they shuck off their clothes and wade into the water, hesitant and laughing nervously because it is as Dean has feared: they've forgotten how to have fun. The lake is cool against his skin, and the sun shines bright and high in the sky; it's the perfect warm day. He couldn't have had better timing to call for an impromptu swim. Fuck yeah, I'm still the best brother, he thinks triumphantly. Then appends, Maybe.
When they are waist-deep, Sam takes a breath, slips under the water, and pushes off. He swims freestyle with steady and powerful strokes, and Dean watches him go, heart in his throat.
Later when Sam is dozing in the sun, Dean finds his cellphone in the pocket of his jeans and texts Cas with their location and the order come swim.
The reply: Why?
Dean's reply: because.
In afterthought, he sends another text: bring booze.
Dean goes back to Sam, lies down next to him on the grass, and closes his eyes.
He doesn't mean to sleep and he doesn't remember when he dozes off, but he is having half-dreams of the ocean when Sam says, a little surprised, "Oh, hey."
Cas stands frowning down at them, six-pack in hand. He tells them, "I'm not swimming."
"Fine," Dean smiles as Sam takes the beers from him. "Be that way."
"Have a seat, man," says Sam.
Cas drops by one night and the only thing he has to say is that God still can't be found and the other Horsemen are still beyond their reach.
Sam says, "I'm gonna go down to the bar and shoot some pool. We're kinda running low on funds." He turns to Dean. "You want anything from the 7-11 later?"
"Naw, man, we're good," Dean says. "I'm good."
And off Sam goes.
Cas smells like faraway places, like the monsoon that falls in dense jungles and the flowers that grow there. There is mud on his shoes. There is rainwater on his eyelashes.
"Sulawesi," Cas says by way of explanation before pushing Dean down to the bed.
Tonight, Cas is transfixed by Dean's carotid pulse. His fingers linger there, tracing the artery down his neck, and he murmurs, "Strange." A frail light in his eyes just as strange, twice as bright.
"You got one too, buddy," Dean says, and Cas presses a kiss against it. He flicks his tongue against it, and the sensation tickles.
"Strange," Cas says again, and he is so careful, exploratory. "These bodies are so strange."
"You seem to be enjoying them just fine."
"How do they-"
"How do they what?"
Then Cas sucks gently on the side of his neck as his hand slides down Dean's chest and lower still. Dean lets out an involuntary groan and thrusts into Cas's hand.
"Come on," Dean rasps against Cas's temple. "C'mere."
"I'm already here," Cas says, but lets Dean flip them over as they sink into each other, warm and familiar and soft.
Afterward, Cas reaches for his pants, and Dean says, "Hey."
Cas pauses, and waits.
"So like." Dean clears his throat. "You. You wanna stay the night?"
"Stay the night?"
"Just tonight, man. I mean." Dean shrugs as if that could make up for a reluctance to be articulate. "Y'know, why not?"
The pauses stretches longer than Dean would like. There is something wondering and curious in Cas's eyes, as if he has come across an unexpected puzzle. There is no puzzle, Dean wants to say. No games. Just him. Just them. But Dean doesn't say any of this, just crosses his arms, and waits.
Cas says, "All right."
Dean breathes out.
"Then you won't be needing that," Dean says, taking the pants from him. He tosses them back on the floor.
"I suppose I won't," Cas says, and smiles, actually smiles. It's a rare thing, and still looks odd on him sometimes, as if he is still experimenting with the gesture.
"Damn straight," Dean says, and kisses him, and Cas closes his eyes.
[originally posted at http://whynot.dreamwidth.org/225830.htm