Also: this is, in no way, in order of importance. Having someone do anything for my little corner of fandom is SO amazing. The only reason I've placed the list at the bottom is the fanworks don't make sense without reading the stories, although, even if you hate the stories, you should check out the incredible talent of the very, very sweet people who have contributed to a story of mine. :)
We are Both Afraid Before the Dawn
Teenage Dean and Sam are parked in Tornado Alley for the summer. While John works a job, the alley lives up to its name. (Gen, PG)
With These Rings
Dean says yes to Michael while a paralyzed Bobby and a still-hopeful Sam believe he's in the panic room. Michael proves to be a cruel enemy when he abducts Sam while inside Dean, and leaves the youngest Winchester blind. (Gen, R)
John brings the teen boys to a psychic to investigate the memories of his wife's death. His investigation unlocks a flood of devastation in the youngest Winchester's psyche. (Gen, PG-13)
We Three Kings
Sam develops an addiction to drugs while Dean develops one to alcohol during a course of incredible tragedies. Cas, a doctor in love with Dean, stands by them. Hopefully something for everyone: angsty, hurt, and sick boys, who love each other through it all. (Gen and Slash, G to R).
A Very Merry Three Kings Christmas
A photo of Dean and Cas, taken by Ellen, at Thanksgiving. (Dean/Cas, G)
Story link: A Very Merry Three Kings Christmas
We Three Kings
Sam calls Dean and Cas to help him through his unwilling withdrawal. The boys meet in the Rosemount clinic's waiting room. (Gen, G)
Story link: We Three Kings
The Festival of Weeks
Don't interrupt Sammy's nap. Also, Dean's decoration of the living room is awesome, thank you. (Gen, PG-13)
Story link: The Festival of Weeks
The Morgan Family Portraits
The brothers and their mother, displayed on a wall in their mansion. (Gen, G)
Story link: The Pride of Your Heart
Dean arrives at the hospital after the shooting in the halfway house. (Gen, G)
Story link: Westward Leading, Still Proceeding
New York Magazine
Lou Morgan is identified as Wall Street's greatest foe. (Gen, G)
Story link: Road From Perdition
Kali at the Funeral
Kali on the streets of NYC after seeing Gabriel. (Gen, G)
Story link: The Pride of Your Heart
The boys put Sam to bed after the death of Jess. (Gen, G)
Story link: Backdraft
Dean Carrying Sam
Dean carries an injured Sam from the car to Pastor Jim's. (Gen, PG)
Story link: This Dark March
The brilliant x_luciole wrote this incredibly touching AU of the Three Kings verse. I'm insanely honored to have her like the 'verse that much! Enjoy.
Sam's Bulletin Board
The fantastic x_luciole did this amazing bit of art, depicting Sam's bulletin board in companionship with the story Westward Leading, Still Proceeding
We Three Kings
Translated to Mandarin.
Cas felt Dean’s toes slip under his sweat pants and rub lightly at his foot. Dean pushed against his back, snaked an arm around him to rub his stomach, and breathed deliberately into Cas’ ear.
“Morning,” Cas grinned.
“You’re stressing. Quit it.” Cas sighed. “You’re tired,” Dean murmured, and kissed the sensitive spot on his neck. “Let me meet you for dinner, okay?”
Cas felt that familiar, enormous warmth wash over him. He turned, cupped Dean’s face, pushed him back onto the mattress, and wriggled on top of him, kissing his cheeks and nose and lips. Dean smiled and slipped a hand beneath his shirt to rub the bare skin on his back, easing the tension away, flirting with the hem of Cas’ pajama bottoms.
“Relax,” Dean murmured. “You carry too much. Let it go. You’re with me.”
I don’t carry anything compared to you, Cas thought, pressing his face to his boyfriend’s throat. You’re love brought to life.
Something started beeping. Cas’s chest hitched. He knew the sound of a struggling heart when he heard it. He clutched Dean, pushed his face into his throat, listened to the beats. They were regular, they were normal, Dean was okay. Dean had him and Dean loved him and Dean wouldn’t leave him, wouldn’t toss him aside because he didn’t make enough money or wanted to live in a different city or wanted a family, not endless hours of slave-labor. Dean wouldn’t leave him, and Dean wouldn’t die, because Dean couldn’t die, because he couldn’t leave him. And Sam—God, what would Sam do? Dean would never leave Sam, and Sam was fine, so Dean could never leave. He couldn’t lose Dean, he couldn’t, he couldn’t—
Cas jerked away, gasping. Dean was leaning over him, a warm hand on his shoulder, talking softly. “Hey, hey, hey, take it easy,” he soothed. “I gotcha. You with me?”
Cas moaned. “Fuck,” he gasped. Dean’s face lit up.
“Dude, that is the first time you’ve ever—”
“Shutup,” Cas groaned. “I think I’ve died.”
“Nope. Sorry. But you are short an appendix.”
Cas remembered bits and pieces—of being wheeled into the admittance area to triage, Anna arriving with her gentle smile and rock-solid presence, a few quick presses on his side, an ultrasound order, and then his clothes being cut away, and replaced with a gown and tissue before a mask covered his face and he’d gone under.
His boyfriend’s face softened. “Hey. Easy does it, buddy. You hurting?”
“Yeah, well, you’re drugged to the gills.”
Cas closed his eyes briefly, steadying himself. “Sam?” he managed.
“In the waiting room with Bobby, Ellen, and Andy. He’s fine.” Dean rubbed Cas’ shoulder. “So are you.”
Cas closed his eyes, let himself indulge in Dean’s warm, wide hand pressed against the top of his head.
“M’sorry,” he managed. “I should’ve known—”
“No, but you should’ve told me you felt like hell.” Cas looked up to see Dean’s obvious question of why didn’t you? and swallowed hard.
“I thought...it was no big deal. It’d be gone in the morning.”
“Right,” Dean said, his eyes warm and soft, mouth cocked in a gentle smile. “And it had nothing to do with the fear that maybe Sammy and me would freak?”
“No,” Cas pleaded, gripping Dean’s arm. “I knew you’d be there for me. If I needed it. I just—”
“Didn’t think you needed it,” Dean sighed, scrubbing a hand through his hair. Cas gripped his arm tighter, and Dean laid a hand over his and squeezed. “S’okay, bud. I can’t be mad at you when I’d of done the same.”
Cas shared a look with him, all warm eyes and sweetness, and tried to clear his head. “You said Andy’s here?”
“Yeah. Sam texted him, because they’re co-depedent, and Andy didn’t have his phone on silent and it woke him up. And I texted Bobby and Ellen, and Bobby was up and watching some dumb TV show, so they swung by.”
“To make sure you were alright.”
“I mean, why did you text Bobby and Ellen?”
“Because that’s what family does, Cas.”
The silence hung there. Dean squeezed his hand as Cas picked at the hospital blanket.
“Do you want me to call—”
“I think they’d want to know.”
“Dean! I said no.”
Dean raised his hands in surrender. “Fine. I hear you.” He got to his feet, and Cas felt the room sway.
“Where are you going?” he asked, his voice breaking.
“To let everyone know you’re awake, and get a doctor in here.”
“You can push the call button.”
“They’re right down the hall.”
“Just push the call button.” Cas felt his eyes stinging once more. “Please?”
His boyfriend took his hand, and squeezed gently. “Sure thing, bud. Whatever you need.”
“I should of made him,” Dean said before Cas could answer.
“Both of you,” Cas snapped, “are wrong. Anna, you know as well as I do that it’s difficult to diagnosis appendicitis. And Dean, I’m not a child.”
“You’re acting like one,” Anna scolded, “one who doesn’t want to take his medicine. Or admit he needs his medicine.”
Cas blushed. “I just thought it was a flu.”
Anna’s face softened. “I understand, really. You just scared me, that’s all. You scared a lot of people. Doctors are the worse patients, for sure.” She made a note on his chart. “You’re going to be in for at least a week, and on bed-rest at home for at least a week more. I want you to rest, Cas—no calling in, no Blackberry, no worrying about New York, no family meetings at Rosemount. Watch TV, drink lots of fluids, take naps, and let yourself heal. Understood?”
Cas sighed, exhaustion rocking through him. “Thank you, Anna,” he managed. She smiled and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder.
“I’m very, very glad that you’re okay, Cas. I’m going to get you up and fighting as quick as I can. It will be easier if you don’t fight us.” She cast a warm gaze at Dean. “I’m counting on you, Winchester.”
“I’m miles ahead of you, sweetheart.”
“Get a room,” Cas grumbled, his eyes drifting closed.
“You’re mean on anesthesia,” Dean said. Anna gave Cas’s shoulder a gentle pat.
“I’ll let everyone out there know you’re alright. Get some sleep.”
Cas didn't have the strength to argue.
Well-meaning, hard-working nurses popped in nearly every twenty-minutes. Some took notes, some spoke with Dean, and some roused him from his half-slumber to ask questions, examine his stitched side, or offer him pain and sleep aids. Even without them, the lights were far too bright, the bed too lumpy, narrow, and horribly devoid of Dean for Cas to truly relax into. His side ached, his fever spiked, and although he couldn’t think quite clearly yet, he was already beginning to worry about everything he’d fallen behind on, and would only fall further in the oncoming weeks.
He was somewhere between dreaming and wake when something cold hit his forehead and early sent him out of his skin, and Dean coaxed “easy, easy,” and appeared in his vision. “Your temp’s up again, bud.”
“Dean,” he mumbled.
“One and only.”
Even Cas wasn’t sure what he said next, but it didn’t matter: he felt the pads of Dean’s fingertips on his too-hot forehead, the rhythmic smoothing of his hair, the warm hand over his own.
And, even more importantly, he heard his boyfried’s voice humming, than singing, than the nearly-silent television. His side began to ache and throb, and a nurse came by at least three times before he woke covered in sweat, with a dry-mouth and a clearer head.
“Your fever’s breaking,” Anna said, and Cas started to find her back at his side. “You had me a little worried there, Cas.”
She chuckled. “Not doing it for you, huh?”
“Don’ know why people like this.”
“Good. One less thing for me to worry about with you.” She moved the blankets aside and examined his stitches. He felt heat fill his face, finally aware enough to be embarrassed. “I’m going to take you off the heavy-duty stuff and pump up your antibodies. The key here is going to be rest, Cas: no driving, no lifting, no gardening or anything for the next few weeks. I mean it. You land back in here with torn stitches or muscles and I’ll put you on a forced sabbatical. Don’t test me.”
“I’ve been out too much,” he groaned.
“Not when you’re here twice as much as you should be.” She smiled warmly. “Personally, I’m glad you’re here. It means I’ll be able to force you into subordination. I need my physicians to take care of themselves. I worry about you, my friend.”
He blushed and picked at his sheet. “Thank you, Anna.”
“What can I do, Cas? What can I get you?”
Cas glanced anxiously toward his boyfriend’s empty chair. “Dean?”
“He’s right down the hall, talking to Bobby, Ellen, and Sam.”
“Sam...did you see him? How does he seem?”
“He’s fine. Bobby and Ellen brought him home with them last night. He seemed tired but not unduly stressed. And it’s obvious that Andy is very set on staying by him.”
A soft knock came, and Dean came through, carrying coffee and a foil-wrapped sandwich. “Hey, you’re up,” he smiled. “How’s he doing, Doc?”
“Fever’s broken. I’m about to take him off the heavy narcotics, so he should be more lucid.”
“Awesome. You feel up to a visit? Sammy’s pouting because he didn’t get to see you last night.”
“M’not pouting!” an all-too familiar voice called. It felt so normal Cas could cry with relief.
“Visiting hours don’t start for another half-hour,” Anna hedged, then winked at Cas, “but I think I can make an exception. Given I’ve already bent the rules.”
Cas’s stomach dropped—Dean shouldn’t have been with him. They weren’t spouses, or, in their case, partners with Power of Attorney Agreements. Anna had clearly waved hospital policy in order to keep Dean by his side, and Cas could only hope that no repercussions would come down on her for it.
“Maybe we should wait,” Cas said.
“Don’t be silly.”
“I don’t want you to get in trouble.”
“I don’t want to deal with Sam’s sad-face. I’ll risk a tongue-lashing if I can avoid that.”
“That settles it,” Dean said, stepping aside and holding the door open. “C’mon, Princess.”
“Shutup, jerk.” Sam came through, a shy smile on his face and a blanket in his arms. “Hi, Cas.”
“Hello, Sam.” The younger Winchester seemed hesitant, so Cas extended an arm, relieved when the younger Winchester leaned forward into a hug. Anna quietly stepped out of the room, leaving the three of them alone. “I brought you a good blanket, because I know how cold hospitals get,” Sam explained.
Dean nodded. “There was infection—the appendix ruptured. So he’ll be a week here and a week in bed at home.”
Sam’s face fell. “You didn’t tell me that last night.”
“I didn’t know all the details last night.”
“I wanted you to feel okay getting some rest.”
The younger Winchester’s eyes grew damp. “That’s not fair! I was fine through your injury, through New York, even through Andy getting shot! I was calm last night—I just wanted to know what was happening.”
“Don’t Sammy me!”
“Sam, listen—I just needed you to be okay so I could—”
“Shutup, Dean. Shut.Up.”
Dean looked lost--and so, so tired. Cas reached out and took Sam’s arm, giving it a gentle tug. “Sam,” he murmured. “When emergencies happen, there’s no script. People just do the best they can under stress. You took wonderful care of me last night, getting everything together.”
“I don’t want to use,” he said, rubbing quickly at his eyes. “I just wanted to help. I was worried...but not like before. I didn’t panic, I didn’t hyperventilate, I didn’t even cry.”
“Oh, Sam,” Cas squeezed his friend’s hand. Dean crossed the room then and put an arm around his brother.
“M’sorry,” he murmured. “I was freaked out, okay? I didn’t know what was wrong or what was going to happen. I just wanted you both to be alright.”
Sam nodded. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “It was...hard. Last night.”
“I’m sorry. To both of you,” Cas said. “I was negligent.”
“And I’ll say sorry so I don’t feel left out,” Dean said with an eye-roll. “Now can we eat, please? Coffee up? I’m on death’s door here.”
“This is a hospital.”
“So, there are people who are on ‘Death’s Door,’” he whispered.
“Well my growling stomach isn’t going to lead them into the light, Sammy.”
"Cas!" Sam pleaded.
“I am hungry, Sam,” Cas said. "Would you mind getting me some Jello from the cafeteria?"
"Sure! What color?"
"Red or orange."
Sam hurried off, clearly pleased to be helping. Dean slumped down in his chair, unwrapped his sandwich, and took a gigantic, disgusting bite.
"Mmmm," he grumbled, making strange smacking and grunting sounds as he stared, lovingly, at his sandwich. He glanced at Cas and did a double-take. "Wha'?"
“Is that sausage and bacon?”
“And cheese, and eggs, and butter, and biscuits. It’s an orgasm in my mouth. And before you start, you nearly gave me a heart-attack, so I’m gonna enjoy my cholesterol, alright?”
"Do you know who I almost married?"
Dean gave him a big, close-mouthed grin. "Shu'up. M'your knight in shining a'mor."
"Every young man's dream," he sighed, but when Dean looked at him again, his chest filled with warmth and he smiled lovingly back.
"Don't know if that's a good one or not," he said when Cas blanched. Andy and Sam turned beet red: Dean nearly fell out of his chair laughing. "I said 'look, say the Ladies weren't my thing. Say I'm looking toward the other side of the street. Say on that other side I see a dude who does NOT look like a Lady. Say I see that dude and I say, 'I'm crossing this street.' Say I cross that street and I'm standing there looking at this dude. What would he look like?"
"For the love of God, Pop," Andy moaned.
Soon after they left, Peter called, and spent a good half-hour chatting Cas's ear off, although Cas couldn't understand what about. He understood enough to know that his friend was claiming credit for knowing this was coming, and intended to name whatever it was Balthazar's Omen, and that he felt he'd make an excellent bronze bust.
When Cas couldn't take it anymore he passed the phone to Sam, who looked equally baffled until Peter abruptly said goodbye and hung-up.
"Do you think he was drinking?" he asked, resting the room phone back in its bed.
"Sadly...no," Cas sighed.
The rest of the afternoon was quiet. Cas didn't feel like eating much other than Ellen's pudding and a bit of Jello. Sam and Dean were in the middle of a spoon-battle for the whipped-cream left over when a quiet knock came, and Dean said "hey Sammy, get that--" and successfully swiped the last bite of Cool-Whip as the door swung inward.
What appeared were balloons: an endless parade of balloons. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, silver, all stamped with GET WELL SOON!!!
The balloons were followed by giant red, squeaky shoes, yellow and blue pants, red suspenders, a bright blue shirt, and then, finally, tossed aside to reveal Gabriel’s painted white face, with two cheery circles on his cheeks, a fake red nose, and his usual beaming grin.
“GABRIEL’S GET-WELL-SOON-SERVICES, AT YOUR...SERVICES!” he cried.
Sam did a surprising thing: he moved back until he was no longer alongside his brother, but behind him. Cas had only ever seen him do that when John Winchester had made his surpring appearance. Dean glanced from Cas, to Gabe, to Sam, to Gabe, to Cas, like he was in a cartoon.
“The hell?” he finally managed.
“I’m here to spread cheer! Sorry but my kid bro has surgery, I show up, that’s just how I was raised.”
“How did you get here so quickly?” Cas asked.
“I may not be a good one, but I AM a Morgan, Cassie-Sassy. We’ve got planes.” He let go of the balloons, sending a rainbow helium shower up to the ceiling, and squeaked his way around the bed. Sam grabbed his brother’s shirt and hauled them both backward, keeping Dean carefully placed between himself and Gabe. “Hey!” Gabe said.
“Good to—see you,” Dean stumbled, yanked even further away by Sam, whose eyes were huge. Gabe seemed equally confused.
“Sam? Nice to see you when someone isn’t dead.”
“Sure thing, Gabe—Gabriel. Nice. It is. It is nice, I mean. Glad, Cas. Glad Cas is nice. I mean, glad Cas isn’t dead. And that you’re here, that’s...glad too. Nice too.”
Cas and Gabe exchanged a baffled glance, but Dean’s face morphed into one of knowing amusement. “Hey Sammy...this wouldn’t have anything to do with your clown thing, huh?”
“It’s not a clown. It’s just Gabe,” Sam rushed, and started blinking abnormally hard.
“Right. Your buddy. So you wanna let go and say hi?”
“Hi Gabe.” Sam made no move to let go of his brother.
“Hey there, Ace. Sorry, I didn’t know you had a Tim Curry thing.”
“It’s fine,” Sam tried to smile, but the bizarre blinking and timid peering around his big brother’s shoulder completely eliminated any pretese of it being 'fine.' “You, uh...had a good flight?”
“You want me to clean off the makeup? I will.”
Dean grinned back at his brother. “How about it, Sammy? Quick white-face wash, and you’ll be good?”
“You know...while you do that, I think Dean and I should go get coffee. We’ll get some for you too!” Sam smiled, and began to move, dragging his brother with him.
“Seriously, kid? Should we get a crisis counselor in here? If you need a safe room, this is one to talk in. I’ve got a friend whose Uncle used to dress up in Disney Princess drag, give him wine coolers, and—”
“Dean, I need a decaf!” Cas called.
“Black, decaf; Gabe you good with—” Dean stumbled as his brother yanked particularly hard and dragged them out the door, “milk and sugar?”
“Whatever!” Gabe beamed and pulled off his fake nose. “Seriously, it costs more than you think to rent clown gear.”
“What are you doing here, Gabriel?”
“Sam called. He said you needed me.”
“Of course he did,” Cas sighed. Sam’s entire world revolved around the presence or absence of big brother, and he knew it would forever be a hiccup in their bond that Sam couldn’t grasp how Cas had so many, and yet couldn’t call on them.
“Cas...don’t be like that. What happened in New York—”
“Doesn’t stay in New York, you understand? You know how hard it was on Sam to experience that? How hard it was on Dean? On me? Lou could have killed him Gabe! Do you understand that I love him as much as Dean does? Do you understand love at all!”
Cas was screaming by the end and couldn’t bring himself to care. He never let go like that, and at that point, he didn’t care who heard.
“No, you listen! Sam is my brother too, okay? And Dean...Dean is the closest person to a spouse I’ll ever have. They’re my family, my real, family, because they love and accept me and they don’t have to. And I love them because they’re loyal and good and all we aren’t. All you aren’t.” Cas forced himself to sit upright, although it hurt. “And you don’t care, Gabe!”
“Bro—Cas—I do.” Gabe looked suddenly frantic. “It’s just...with Dad, and everything, I couldn’t—”
“Do anything but drink,” Cas said bitterly. “I get it. I lived with that, Gabe. Not just with Dad, but with Sam and Dean too. But they fought it. They beat it, because they loved me and they loved each other and they wanted to be better for it. That’s not you. That’s not anyone with our last name.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“I thought you were different. I thought you wouldn’t judge me. I thought you’d help me. But you’re just like them. Just...go, Gabriel. You shouldn’t have come.”
“You’re being stupid,” Gabe pleaded. “I get you’re mad, but none of us had ever dealt with anything like this before. And yeah, I drink—I don’t have a Dean in my bed, okay? My kid bro lives halfway across the country and the only woman I may have had a thing for is never going to feel the same.”
“Maybe it would be different if you loved her more than booze.”
Gabriel’s face twisted into grief. “You don’t mean that, do you?”
“Just...go find a bar, Gabe. Maybe the one Peter met Crowley in. Bet there’s lots of friends for you there.”
Gabriel’s face crumpled, and he took a few strides forward, then turned, breaths hitching. “You know what? When I said everything was always about you? I was right. You may have done good by these guys, but you haven’t even tried to do any of this by us. If this happened to me, you wouldn’t be calling around for private planes, or renting stupid costumes, or bribing some guy with a helium tank. You can say you’ve been a great brother to Sam, but you’ve just been a pale imitation of Dean. And to the brothers you have...you’re never going to come close to what those two have, and all the things they’ve done for each other. You just left, found a family stronger than ours, and claimed you’d belonged to it the whole time. You’re still a Morgan, little brother. You’re always gonna be. And you said it yourself: what happens in New York doesn’t stay out there. Dad’s dead—and Michael and I can’t protect you or anyone else any longer.”
Cas was too flustered, too stunned, to answer, and by the time he had a half-assembled answer, his brother was gone, leaving Cas watching the balloons bobbing along the ceiling and waiting for the Winchesters to return.
Gabe wasn’t even close to the truth. He couldn’t understand all the things that had driven Cas from home. He couldn’t understand what he’d come to learn, living with Sam and Dean. He could never get what true friendship and family was.
Because you never told him. Any of it. Why you were sad, why you left, how you met Dean, why you met Dean...
Shutup, Cas told that horrid, self-hating part of his brain that always seemed to emerge in his quiet moments, when he was without work, or study, or, later, without a lover. Rachel and Dean had been living, breathing anchors in his darkness, beacons he could retreat to when his world darkened and night fell around it.
Cas closed his eyes and imagined his bed with Dean. He pictured the softness of the mattress, the warmth of the sheets and blankets, the comforter on top, Dean’s gentle breath on his neck and heat at his back. He let the picture penetrate his body, release his tense muscles, and was half asleep when a nurse intruded once more, smiling and apologizing for waking him.
“Your brother’s here to see you,” she said.
Cas put a hand over his eyes. “Gabriel, please, I can’t right now.”
Well, just like Sammy always said: hitting bottom means there’s nowhere to go but up.
Part 1 Part 2
A/N: I wrote fluff! O.O I'm actually terrified of Jurassic Park and can only watch clips when intoxicated. But the new trailer inspired this happy broment. Enjoy!
* * *
Movie night at the Morgan-Winchester household was always fraught with its own particular drama. Sammy liked "deep-thinkers" and documentaries; Cas liked foreign films and indie drama; Dean liked car chases and alien invasions. Since Sam and Cas enjoyed watching Dean watch bad TV almost as much as watching their own preferred films, they usually deferred to that, but Dean had it made his personal mission to find films they could all enjoy.
He'd believed he'd struck gold when he tapped into Michael Criton and Stephen King: thrillers with science at their back. The first time they'd all decided to watch Jurassic Park together, Dean had wanted to skip ahead to when the Park's power went down, and had only relented when Cas admitted he'd never seen the whole movie, just clips Gabe had forced him to view. Dean had obliged because he was sure he'd discovered a magic formula to unlocking a whole new peace to movie nights.
But, like the idealistic scientists, he'd failed to factor in all that he couldn't control: namely, the two rabid geeks by his side.
While Dean had enjoyed watching the dinos rise up and kick ass, Sam, who had always eaten up the science, suddenly realized his brother's boyfriend studied it for a living.
And all hell broke loose.
The T-Rex preyed on humans and lesser dinos, Sammy Jackson brooded and smoked, Newman met a gruesome end by the "Spitter," and even the girly, snuggly "Meet the Herbivores" moments came and went, and Sam and Cas were engaged in a frenzied discussion of DNA, blood research, fossilization, cloning, genetic maps, patents on fossils, cloning, and genetic maps, theories on chaos, evolution, extinction.
They didn't even have the decency to shutup and respect the SOUNDTRACK, which, as far as Dean was concerned, was the only orchestra music worth listening to.
The elder Winchester had purposefully avoided The Godfather, fearing emotional discussions about immigration, Daddy issues, debates on the psychology of murder, psychopathy, the Death Penalty. He'd avoided Quentin Tarantino films for the sake of Sammy's weak stomach and Cas's horror at violence as humor; he'd avoided Westerns for fear of criticisms on historical inaccuracies, aliens for fear of deep discussions on space, time, black holes, and the Big Bang; even JAWS, fearing it would veer into a question of cruelty to animals.
SURELY the two guys that meant more to him than oxygen could at LEAST appreciate a bunch of friggin' DINOSAURS? Or at least have the decency to limit the Nerdvana to one that encompassed the genius special effects?
Dean was doomed to be the over-eager scientist, seeing himself gifting the world, only to discover he'd brought down a curse.
The credits rolled, the TV went dark, Dean said "I'll leave you two alone," and still Sam talked, enthralled with the Human Encyclopedia that was Dean's boyfriend, all while Dean's boyfriend, the Human Encyclopedia, beamed with joy at Sam's fascination and reveled in a captive audience for his own geekery.
They'd never last two seconds in Jurassic Park. He could picture Sam being scooped up in the jaws of a Tyrannosaur and hollering "Cas! There is a second set of teeth!" before vanishing down it's throat. Cas could be blind and stumbling with a Spitter on his tail and hollering "Sam! the sting is similar to the spit of the camel!"
All the proof that Darwinism was real was seen right there in his living room. The brains may inherit the Earth, but to keep it, they needed their Deans. Because if a Rex or a Raptor ever came near either one of these guys, Dean Fucking Winchester would be more deadly than an asteroid could ever be.
And if that, he thought, smiling at the loves of his life, was all the proof of something more in the universe than chaos that Dean would ever need.
Even worse, he suddenly, savagely, missed Gabe, who he hadn’t spoke to since that horrible night when Sam had nearly died, his Father had been buried, his mother had rejected him, and Gabriel, the brother he loved and trusted more than any of the others, had told him to deal with it alone.
Cas was so, so sick of feeling alone.
He wanted to cry, but instead he did what he knew best—work. First, he gathered all the laundry and sorted it into piles of whites and colors, delicates and regulars. He ran those, than scrubbed down the kitchen, pausing only a few times to double-over and hold his stomach. At the worst moments, he wished for Dean: then his boyfriend would light up his phone with a text, all misspelled and sincere, and Cas would just want him all the more.
He tried to eat something, but the sight of food just made his stomach protest once more. Instead he tried some milk, which didn’t sit right, and then, in desperation, one of Sam’s red Gatorade’s. He was surprised that that stayed down, and even more that it didn’t have the bizarre flavor of Sam’s punch, and he finished one and a half before the buzzer rang in the laundry room.
Cas was moving the whites from the washer to the dryer when Dean came home, took one look at him and said “Dude, bed.”
Dean brought him soup, crackers, water, fluffed his pillows, took his temperature, gave him two Tylenol, and told him if he moved for anything other than the bathroom he’d knock him on his ass.
“I mean it. Sleep.”
“Not arguing. Lay down with me?”
His boyfriend smiled, toed off his shoes, and slid in behind him, slipping an arm around his stomach.
Cas bucked and cried out, tossing his arm aside.
“What?” Dean asked, sitting up.
“Sorry—m’sorry. It’s my stomach.”
“Want the heat pad?”
“No, just—” his breath hitched and he clutched at his midsection. Dean put a reassuring hand over his heart and smoothed his hair off his forehead.
“Hey, hey—look at me. It’s okay. Slow it down. I’ve got you.”
Cas nodded, eyes locked on Dean’s warm green eyes, the gentle laugh lines framing his gaze, and felt a horrid, childish weakness overwhelming him.
“I don’t feel good,” he whimpered, mortified when tears filled his eyes. Dean’s gaze just softened even further, and he lay, carefully, down beside him.
“I know you don’t, buddy,” he soothed, tucking hair behind his ear. “It’s okay. I’m gonna take care of you. Just relax.”
“I’ve taken too many days. I’m going to lose my job.”
“If that’s true, we’ll deal with it.”
“There’s no other hospital close by.”
“We’ll deal with it.”
“I’m not keeping up. My patients, medications, policies. I’ve fallen behind on everything.”
“Cas, we will deal with it.”
“Dude, you’re allowed to be sick. You’re allowed to be human. You can take time off for your Dad’s funeral, and Sammy’s health, or because you’re exhausted.” He reached out and laid a light hand over the one Cas perched over his midsection. “No one thinks less of you, bud. I promise. And if it happens that you lose your job for any reason, then I’ll make up the difference in the bills as long as I have to. We have savings; we’ll be fine.”
He was using that special, warm, reassuring voice he always used when Sam was upset: it was effective. Whatever happened, he knew Dean loved him, would help and support him, would guide him through whatever came his way.
“I love you,” he murmured, and nestled his head on Dean’s shoulder. He didn’t know why Dean had picked him, of everyone he could have, but in moments like this, he felt too lucky to care. Dean kissed his forehead.
“Relax now,” he whispered, breathing a long, deliberate breath over Cas’s skin. “You’re safe. You’re with me.”
Cas felt inexplicable tears fill his eyes, so he shut them, seeking out Dean’s hand as he did.
“I can’t do anything right,” he managed. Dean’s had found his own and took it. “I’m ruining everything.”
“You’re tired. You’re sick. You’re grieving.” Dean stroked his hair. “And you’re wrong, because you haven’t ruined a thing. You’re depressed, man, and that’s normal after what you’ve been through.”
“I don’t feel normal,” Cas confessed. “I feel alone unless you’re with me. If you’re not here...I’m just lost.”
“Well, I’m here now,” Dean kissed him on the forehead. “And I’ll move shifts, take overtime, whatever I have to, to be at the door when you get in, if that’s what you need. You just gotta tell me what you want, bud. I can make it work.”
“I don’t want to be work,” he snapped. “It’s my worst fear. That I’ll just be a job.”
“Cas, if you’re a job, than I’m a jet-setting, tech-starting, international billionaire,” Dean sighed, curling around him just perfect, just right. Cas gripped his arm and clung, hard. “You remember what I said when we got back from New York? You can’t ask why we’re there. You just gotta let us be. I could list a thousand reasons why you’re the most awesome dude on Earth, but I know you can’t believe them right now. So you just gotta trust that I have awesome taste, and wouldn’t put all I had into a useless jerk.”
“You have before.”
“Yeah well...that was then. This is now.” Dean buried his face in Cas’s hair. “You’re the only jerk I got on not one, but TWO flights for. You’re the only jerk I trusted to take care of Sammy. You’re the only jerk I bought a house with, shared my little brother with, gave up drinking with, grieved our Dads's with. So you gotta deal with me, for the long-haul, okay?”
Cas closed his eyes, but couldn’t stop a tear from escaping. His chest hitched: seconds later, his boyfriend’s hand tangled in his hair and stroked.
“I don’t feel well,” Cas admitted, his voice cracking.
“I know, hon,” Dean soothed, hand moving through his hair once more. “I gotcha. I’m going to help you through this. And I don’t just mean your tummy-ache.”
“Oh just...shutup.” Cas swallowed, clung even harder to his boyfriend’s hand.
“I’m seriously like your Geisha-boy. Y’know, Sammy’s better at this snuggle-time thing than I am. We could pimp him out. Rent-a-Giant: what do you think? Bet he’d make up your salary in a week.”
“Shu’up,” Cas chuckled, trying not to when he realized it hurt. “Shutup and hold me?”
Dean stroked his fingers through his boyfriend’s hair. “Whatever you need,” he murmured, and began to hum.
When he woke next, it was to Sam setting down a book beside him. The younger man did a double-take, then smiled. “Sorry, I didn’t want to wake you.”
“I got you David Sedaris’ new book—I figured you could use a laugh or two.”
Cas smiled and sighed into his pillow. “That’s kind, Sam.”
His friend shifted a bit. “Things have been really hard for you, lately. I just...I want to say thank you. No matter how bad you must be feeling, you always look out for me. I appreciate it.”
“I know you do.” Cas forced himself to a sitting position, accepting his friend’s anxious hands to pull him up. “How is Andy?”
“Good. He has to double-up on meetings for a bit, but even Missouri said she understood. And it’s not a real relapse, because it was a one-shot deal. Kinda like me, except he meant to do it.”
Cas sipped at the punch, than forced a smile to show Sam he appreciated it. “Is he going to meet his biological parents?”
“He wants to. He has a couple dates in the mix, but they have to go through the agency. And he’s not going without his Dad.”
“Jack is a good man.”
“It’s funny...I wonder if Andy’s Andy because that’s how hes always been, or if he took on Jack’s traits. They’re so alike, it’s hard to think they’re not blood. But then...”
Cas took another sip of punch and smiled. “Then?”
“Just...I think of Bobby, and how he’s kinda been a Dad to us, and Pastor Jim, and Dean to me, and...I get a little bit how Andy feels. I know my Dad’s behavior and genetics shaped who I am, but they did too. I don’t know.” He smiled shyly. “How are you doing? I know you’ll say you’re fine, but...we can talk about New York, if you need to. I promise I’m not super traumatized or anxious or anything.”
“I know, Sam. You’ve done wonderfully.” Cas was mortified yet again when he felt his eyes brimming. On top of everything else, his emotions seemed as off the rails as the rest of him.
“What is it?” Sam asked, perching beside him, all sweetness and sympathy.
“Just...I miss Gabe,” he admitted. “And my Father...although he was never around. Being home was so terrible, but it made me remember good things too...does that make sense?”
“Of course it does. You know I still miss my Dad’s ‘kitchen sink’ stew? And when I was really little, he’d lie down with me and sing...and he always smelled like a bar, but you know, that was nice. Even though I’m glad Dean quit drinking, sometimes I miss that smell coming off him.” Sam blushed. “Pretty screwed up, huh?”
“No. I understand.” Cas smiled, losing his grip on his tears. “I’m sorry,” he said, frantically wiping his face. “I think...I may be processing all this...a little late.”
Sam’s face had morphed from empathy to concern. “I know this is meaningless coming from me, but...you’ve got to give yourself a break. You’ve had one hit after another the past few years, and I know I’m the cause of a lot of it. You never take time off, and now you don’t even get to enjoy a glass of wine or two...and your family...” Sam laid a gentle hand on Cas’s shoulder, and it was all the elder man could do not to curl into a ball and sob.
“Sam...” he said, forcing himself back under control. “I drank some of your Gatorades.”
Sam perked up. “They’re good, aren’t they?”
“They are—I was surprised.”
Cas took his punch in hand and braced himself for the flavor. “You know...dye, sugar,” he lied. “Where’s Dean?”
“Making soup. Creamy tomato with rice. He always made it for me when I was sick. He says he remembers our Mom making it for him. Except I think he added the cream.”
“I’m surprised he didn’t add bacon. Or beef at least.”
“’Surprised he didn’t add bacon. Na na nuh na nuh,’” Dean mocked, entering the room with a steaming bowl and placing it carefully on Cas’s tray. “That’s the best soup you’ll ever eat, assjack. And you,” he turned to Sam, “are due a Valium.”
“They’re taking me off.”
“The hell they are.”
“Really! They think it’s time.”
“Well that doesn’t change bedtime, baby boy.”
“I was talking to Cas!”
“And now you’re getting into your PJs! I can exclaim too!”
“God you’re a jerk.”
Sam flipped his brother off and disappeared down the hall. Cas took a large spoonful of soup and felt a heavenly warmth flood through him. He closed his eyes, imagining his brain re-routing home away from taxis and ERs and into Dean’s cooking and Sam’s God-awful punch.
“It’s okay,” he said, opening his eyes to Dean. His boyfriend rolled his eyes and plopped a bottle of Tylenol beside him.
“That’s the best soup you’ve ever had, and you know it. Eat that, take two of those, and be in that bed when I get back.”
Cas smiled as Dean chased his brother down the hall, beginning an obvious interrogation. He lay back, soup aside, not feeling hungry, although he realized he hadn’t kept anything down all day. His stomach was already protesting the little bit he’d forced into it.
Cas closed his eyes, tried to breathe through the onset of nausea, and quickly realized he wasn’t going to be able to stave off the sickness.
Even worse—sitting up and moving toward the bathroom was obscenely difficult. His stomach, abdomen, and even his legs seemed to cramp up, and before he knew it he was on the bathroom floor, crying out “Dean!” before he lost his battle and wretched onto the tile.
“Shit, Cas,” he heard, and then his boyfriend grabbed him under the arms and hauled him the rest of the way. Cas groaned and vomited once more, his whole body sweating and shaking with effort. He heard the sink running, and then a cool washcloth was pressed to his forehead while he gasped.
“Easy does it. Let it out. You’re okay,” Dean was murmuring, rubbing soothing circles into his back.
“M’sorry,” Cas moaned, clutching pitifully at his gut.
“Shut it. Jesus, you’re burning up.”
“Jus’ a bug,” he mumbled, swaying. Dean caught him.
“I don’t know...maybe we should swing by the docs? Get your girl to take a look?”
“What, you got another I don’t know of?”
“It’s just a virus. I know...” a cramp hit him, and he bucked, fumbling for Dean and finding him suddenly behind him, surrounding him, engulfing him in his arms and taking care not to touch his stomach.
“Shhhh, you’re okay,” Dean murmured. “Easy does it. I have you. Take a deep breath for me.”
Cas forced himself to concentrate, absorbing Dean’s warmth and strength into himself. His boyfriend gently dabbed off his face, his throat, and the back of his neck with the washcloth, talking softly the whole time.
“There you go. We’re good. You want to lie down again?”
Cas just nodded, accepting his boyfriend’s support to stand, carefully moving him aroud the puke he’d left in their doorway, and getting him back into bed and tucked up with the washcloth on his forehead.
“Be right back,” he promised, and Cas heard the sound of running water and clean-up. Dean was cleaning up Cas’s mess...again. It seemed that’s all the Winchesters did these days, was try and put Cas and his nightmare of a family into some order. And Cas couldn’t even do the one thing he was good at, which was work and provide for the family he loved.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, rubbing desperately at his eyes. “I’m sorry, Dean. Gabe. Sam. Mom. Dad...”
“Hey,” Dean said softly, appearing at his side. “I know you don’t want to, but I need you to try and hold some Tylenol down for me, buddy. That or hop in the shower. We gotta get that fever down.”
“I love you, Dean.”
“Shower, pills, or ambulance, Cas.”
That broke through Cas’s haze enough to agree to the pills, and, a few minutes later, a second trip to the bathroom, where Dean stripped them both and got them under a frigid spray that nonetheless brought the world back into focus a bit. Dean dried them both down, spent a few extra minutes rubbing the towel gently through Cas’s hair, got them into pajamas and back into bed.
“There you are,” Dean said, smiling and stroking his boyfriend’s forehead. “Your eyes are clearer.”
“S’just a bug,” Cas mumbled, feeling sleep pulling him under.
“I know, Dr. Quinn, but let’s keep it under 150, okay? Pretty sure your brain boils around 110.”
“You could die around 105.” The number was pretty much reflex. Dean’s hand in his hair, on his forehead and temple, felt like heaven while his body was a knotted mess of heated hell.
“Don’t talk like that.”
Cas jolted suddenly, hand going to his stomach. “Where’s Sam?”
“Down the hall, passed out.”
“I didn’t give him his Valium...”
“He’s fine, Cas. Out like a light.”
“A’love you,” he mumbled.
“At least you’re not a mean sick,” Dean kidded, then kissed him on the temple. “Sleep, okay? I gotcha.”
“Can you sing a bit?”
“I don’t sing!”
“The one with the candle in a window...I like that.”
Dean swore, mumbled, grumbled, then stroked Cas’s hair a few more times, and began a soft “you’re a candle in a window, on a cold dark winter’s night...”
He leaned over the bed and dry-heaved, caught quickly by Dean’s hands. He spat, heaved, and realized the piercing sensation in his gut was matched by the hideous cramps in his abdomen.
This was not a bug. This was not a virus. This wasn’t even an illness. This was something very, very, very wrong inside him, and it had been simmering, and Cas had ignored all his opportunities to stave it off.
Around him, over him, he heard Dean’s ministrations turn frantic when Cas didn’t answer his questions, and it was confirmation enough. He was burning up, his gut was on fire, his midriff was cramping, and he needed help—serious, professional help.
“Dean...you’re gonna have to call an ambulance,” he said, trying to sound calm. Sweat streamed down his face and he dug his fingers into his boyfriend’s arm so hard Dean actually flinched.
“Okay,” Dean said, scooting away and circling the bed to the landline. “Talk to me. What’re you feeling?”
“Stomach...abdomen...something’s wrong. Tell them it’s a possible hernia, appendicitis, maybe a kidney stone—but a dull cramping in the stomach and abdomen consistent and worsening over a day—”
“Dude, you’re not pregnant and didn’t tell me, right?”
Cas struggled to sit up, using Dean’s shirt and arms as leverage, quickly circled by his boyfriend’s arm while Dean spoke calmly to the emergency operator.
Cas wasn’t all that surprised when he heard Sam shuffling down the hall, his long hair scrambled about and the back of his hands rubbing at his eyes. Even with Cas in pain and Sam over six feet tall, the younger Winchester in sweatpants, an oversized t-shirt, and sleepy-concern couldn’t be seen as anything less than adorable.
“Me and Cas are going to the hospital,” Dean said calmly. Sam blinked at him. “Hospital, Sammy. Cas. Me. Middle of the night. Clothes. Shoes. Please?”
Sam’s eyes widened. He looked from Dean, to Cas, to Dean once more, than nodded and bolted down the hall. Cas let out a moan, and clenched a fist over his seizing gut.
“You’re okay,” Dean soothed. “ETA ten minutes, bud. Can you walk?”
Cas struggled to sit up, felt a wretched spasm in his stomach, and doubled back onto the bed. “Can’t,” he half-sobbed.
“Alright. Easy does it,” Dean murmured. “C’mon, c’mere. I gotcha.”
Dean scooped him off the bed and into his arms in a princess carry that Cas knew he’d never hear the end of when he was well. “I hate you,” he moaned as Dean carefully steered them out the door.
“Yeah, well, buck up, Scarlett. Rhett’s saving your ass.”
“I—” the pain...Cas didn’t have words. Pain like this shouldn’t exist.
“I know,” Dean murmured, “I know, buddy.”
“Uh,” Cas moaned. Dean carefully carried him down the stairs as Cas was reduced to gasping against his boyfriend’s neck.
“I gotcha. You just hang tight, you hear? You’re gonna be fine.”
“Dean...” he hated how weak he sounded, suddenly. He was a doctor. He treated pain. He understood its science. He understood what was happening. Dean couldn’t help: no one could. What was needed was a neurological intervention. Nothing more. Dean couldn’t—
He gasped as his side seized. Dean settled them both on their couch, Cas half in his boyfriend’s lap, breathing hard as Dean stroked through his hair, dragging his fingertips along his scalp, a warm hand on his back.
“It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s gonna be okay, buddy. It’s gonna be okay, Cas.”
“Don’t—” Cas pleaded, heat and shame filling his cheeks as he said it.
“Not gonna leave you. Promise,” Dean murmured, kissing his temple lightly as the sound of sirens filled the night and Sam bounded down the stairs, fully dressed, backpack over his arm.
“It’s alright!” he called. “They’re on their way. Dean, I’ve got clothes for you both. I’ll follow in the car, okay? You go with Cas.” He dropped the bag at the door and crossed the room quickly, kneeling before him. “It’s okay, man. Don’t worry. I know it sucks, but it’ll be better soon. You’re gonna be fine.” Sam smiled. A siren sounded outside, and the telltale red and blue lights flashed past the front windows. “I’ll get the door,” Sam assured him, patting Cas’ arm as he raced toward the porch.
“Deep breaths,” Dean soothed, but Cas could feel him shaking. “This is nothing, okay? You’re totally fine.”
“I don’t even have a will.”
“Shutup. Shut the hell up.”
The paramedics cut off his response, and, for the first time ever, Cas saw fear in Dean’s face that wasn’t directed toward Sam. Given their recent conversation about rights and money and death, and suddenly being faced with it...
Cas wasn’t ready.
“Hey bud—hang tight for me,” Dean grinned, and Cas found himself stretched out on a back-board, one he’d seen thousands of patients brought in on: patients he could save, and patients he couldn’t.
How many of them had had partners without wills? How many of them had had family issues they hadn’t resolved, big brothers they hadn’t spoken to, dead fathers they hadn’t made peace with? How many of them had heard the news from Cas, who had chalked it up to a rough afternoon and gone home, all smiles?
Cas was crying and he hated himself for it. He was supposed to be above this. He could just hear his father’s voice: we’re Morgans. We treat problems. We do not succumb to them. He’d acted exactly like brothers in this case: bucked up and ignored the warnings, believing he was above something as common as a rotten appendix, or kidney stone, or hernia. Instead of acting defensively, practicing safe medicine, he’d placed himself and his health in danger, all to prove something his father’s death had ultimately proved futile.
Carried out of his living room, down his porch stairs, and loaded into the back of an ambulance like a piece of dead meat on a slab.
This was the indignity his father had always sought to spare his children. The indignity of illness, of weakness, of death. And all his work, his legacy, was undone with Cas’s weakness.
“Hey,” Dean murmured, wiping his face clean when the paramedic turned. “You’re going to be good as new.” He lifted Cas’s hand and pressed a quick kiss to the back of it.
It was the first time Dean had ever shown him that kind of affection in public.
“M’sorry,” Cas sobbed. “I should’ve known—”
“Shhh. Quit talking. Hang tight.”
“I know, hon.”
And that was another first: Dean never called him that outside their bed. And it was rare when the were in, saved for special moments when Cas was sharing something particularly painful. They loved each other, but neither one of them was inclined to drop their masculine roles by invoking pet names.
It was amazing just how soothing it was to have something so private said in public, when Cas was in such pain. It was I love you and I’m here for you and you’re not alone a million times over.
It was pure Winchester, through and through.
“When you wake up,” Dean said firmly, “this will all feel like a bad dream. And me and Sammy’ll be right there with you.”
Cas gasped as the pain hit him again. I want to wake up. I want to wake up to you and to Sam. I’m not ready to let go of our life, however little it is.
Dean’s hand found his own and squeezed, like he’d heard him. “You’re fine,” he murmured. “Look at me: you are going to be alright.”
Cas clutched his hand, not knowing how to express that he was afraid, and sad, and humiliated to be stretched out and crying and hurting and about to be stripped naked and cut into, and that he desperately didn’t want to be alone when it happened, especially in a hospital with his colleagues, but Dean just smiled, calm and loving, and stroked his hair, like he’d just woken up and rolled over and everything was fine, fine, fine.
Me: I'm not sure if this is right time-wise...I've got a couple stories I'm working on, and I sort of wanted there to be a break-story between the last post and this.
Me: A break-story? You haven't posted anything in like, 150 years, you fat lazy skank. Your readers are drinking with Ash in heaven and your old ass is wondering if there's enough time between posts?
So...here is part one! Please enjoy! :D
P.S. My stupid "n" key on my poor, ancient laptop, is being super tempermental. So if you see egregious typos, please let me know??? :D
P.P.S. "DOMA," or the 'Defense of Marriage Act,' is a movement to ban same-sex marriage in the US Constitution. On June 26, 2013 (which says how long I've been writing this @#$# chapter), the law was FINALLY ruled unconstitutional. Yeah, there's a lot we Americans get wrong, but I WILL say, that we have changed at a crazy rate compared to other places...and I have faith we'll keep pushing forward. With that, I'm done being all serious and hope you enjoy some fic :D
* * *
Rebound tenderness is a clinical sign that a doctor or other health care provider may detect in physical examination of a patient's abdomen. It refers to pain upon removal of pressure rather than application of it.
“What’s electric again?” Dean asked. Cas glanced to the bill at his right.
Dean shook his head. “That’s it. We’re turning the porch light off when we go to bed. We don’t want anyone coming by anyway.”
Cas smiled as he wrote out his half of the check. Strange as it sounded, he rather enjoyed paying bills with Dean: the two of them sitting down together at their kitchen table, the monthly costs of their home spread around them. Dean always asked him he felt about everything: really, how he felt about their lives. He always told Cas he was to take less shifts, and Cas always noticed stray bits of overtime Dean tried to sneak in, so he could point and say that he was more than capable of taking care of them, so Cas should try and take it easy: Cas loved him all the more for it. Paying bills was the rare, quiet time when they took inventory of every aspect of their lives, and when they operated, in full, as partners on every level possible.
Even if, after all this time, having separate checking accounts seemed a little unnecessary.
“Dude...you know I’m all about DIY,” Dean said, sighing at their water bill, “but I’ve done all I know how with that damn shower and it’s still running.”
“I’ll ask Sam if he’ll be home at all during the day this week, to let a plumber in.”
“Don’t you think it’s a conspiracy though? I mean, we only pay for hot water, and our shower is mysteriously only leaking hot water?”
“Who would be after the extra two dollars a month for our leaky shower?”
“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out, and I’m going to write to the paper about it. In all caps. And bold.”
Cas laughed as he set up another check, than felt a sudden roll of nausea that cut off his breath. Dean glanced at him, then did a double-take, frowning.
“You’re kinda white.”
“I’m fine.” The wave passed, and Cas breathed a long, slow exhale. “I may have eaten something...off.”
“That better not be a crack about my cooking.”
“Of course not,” Cas smiled. Dean had made them stir-fry with an inordinate amount of vegetables, which Cas knew was just for him. Food was a big way Dean showed love, and watching his boyfriend eat carrots and string-beans and snow peas and chicken that wasn’t soaked in fat—and pretending to love it—meant more than a thousand bouquets ever could.
“You need to sleep more. You shouldn’t have had to go back on shift so soon.”
“I’ve taken more time off than anyone else. I’m lucky not to be demoted.”
“So? Peter spends his free time at the bar. You took it off for family. You deserve a break.”
“Dean, I’m alright.”
“This is my fault,” Dean sighed. “I’m sorry, I should have been home with you this week. I knew you wouldn’t sleep if I wasn’t.”
“I did sleep.”
“Y’know what—screw Jay. I can go work for Bobby. Or some other garage. It’s not the only one in town. I’ll call him and tell him—”
“Dean for all that’s holy, I am fine.” He grabbed his boyfriend’s hand and squeezed. “It’s nothing. I’m a little run down, but that’s no fault of yours.”
“I’m a doctor.”
Dean nodded. “Okay. Let’s get this done, call it an early night.”
“Sounds good.” Cas grabbed the next paper in their stack. “Cell phones.”
“God bless you, family plan.”
“I agree. We’ve saved nearly fifty dollars this month.”
“Like I said.”
Just then the front door opened, and Sam hollered “Hey, guys!” with unusual exuberance.
“In here!” Dean called, and Sam came flying in.
“What do you think? It’s amazing, right?” Sam he asked, near bursting with pride. Dean and Cas exchanged a you following? ‘cause I’m not glance, before Dean shrugged.
“Sorry...did we miss a text or something?” he asked.
“No,” Sam beamed, “what do you think of the news?”
Cas and Dean exchanged a baffled glance.
Cas and Dean stared at him.
Cas and Dean stared at him.
“The Supreme Court!”
Cas and Dean stared at him.
“Sammy, what the hell are you talking about?” Dean finally said.
“Oh for—Cas, you gotta know!”
Cas glanced to Dean, who looked at him blankly. “I’m...behind on the news.”
Sam’s joy faded. “Really? It’s been months we’ve been waiting.”
“For?” Dean asked, cocking an eyebrow.
“For the verdict!”
Dean shook his head and looked to Cas. “I feel like I’m insane.”
“I’m afraid I’m not following you either, Sam,” Cas sighed. His stomach was rolling again, and it was taking a lot of work to keep his face straight.
“‘DOMA’ is ‘The Defense of Marriage Act.’ The movement to ban same-sex marriage in the Constitution. Today, the Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional: essentially, that limiting marriage to one man and one woman denies citizens their rights.”
“Great. So you and Andy can shop for rings.”
“It’s a huge victory—it’s the highest court in America saying that gay and lesbian couples deserve equal rights to marriage. Every state that acknowledges equal marriage now has the Federal backing, and Federal benefits. This is...huge!” Sam looked beside himself with happiness. “This is the next Civil Rights movement, and we’re living it!”
“Fine. But Cas and I haven’t budgeted more than $10,000 for your wedding, so Andy’s Dad’ll have to kick in the rest.”
“Oh for...” Sam sighed and crossed his arms. “You know what you two are? Homophobic.”
“You know what you are? A pain in the ass!”
Sam’s phone blared “Purple Haze,” Andy’s ringtone, and the younger Winchester rolled his eyes and scooped his cell out of his back pocket. “I know, I heard!” he answered.
“Tell your boy we give our blessing!” Dean called. Sam flipped his brother off and headed into the living room, Andy’s exuberant voice sounding through the speaker.
“They really would make adorable children,” Cas said, picturing a pack of floppy- haired, puppy-eyed, genius little kids. Dean huffed a laugh.
“Dude, no pregnancy is one of our perks. Don’t you and your docs go tweaking that.”
They passed the rest of the evening as normal: finished the bills, joined Sam for some TV, and got ready for bed. Cas gave Sam his meds and let him and Dean chat for a few minutes alone. He took the time to take two Aspirin and splash some cool water on his face, hoping he really wasn’t coming down with anything. As loving as Anna was, he couldn’t imagine her tolerating his endless need for time off to deal with family drama forever.
Lying in bed, waiting for Dean, Sam’s words came back to him. Although chronically behind on Time, he wasn’t so out of the news loop to know that marriage equality was gaining footing at an alarming rate. If Sam did have children, there was a good chance they’d grow up where was no marriage and ‘gay-marriage,’ but one name for one act, whoever it was for.
Since Dean refused to identify as gay (or straight, or bi, or anything other than Dean), and Cas refused to discuss anything approaching romance with anyone other than Dean (and, on the rare occasion, to at least reassure Sam they were happy), their chances of meeting other same-sex couples was pretty much zero. And Cas was fine with that—he liked the comfortable friendship they shared in public and the privacy they both valued surrounding their intimate life.
“Kid is ready to drench himself in glitter and dance in a rainbow parade,” Dean snorted. Cas admired his boyfriend in his navy t-shirt and matching pajama bottoms. Dean paused to pull of the shirt before sliding into bed, leaning over to press a quick kiss on his boyfriend’s mouth, a habit Cas had come to associate with it’s just us now.
Sometimes Cas couldn’t believe just how Dean had any humility at all, looking like he did. As blindly handsome as he was, he didn’t seem to take notice of his own attractiveness, unless he was recounting how he used it to distract someone long enough for him to snag cash or something Sam needed, back in the days before full-time employment.
Cas settled on his side, taking a moment to steady his stomach as it rolled yet again. “Do you think there’s something of merit to what Sam said?”
“My gut reaction is to say no...but for your sake, I’ll admit I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I’m not saying we do anything as extreme of those other couples, but...how do you feel about merging checking accounts?”
Dean stiffened. “What’s wrong with how things are?”
“There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just...wouldn’t it be nice to write one check, per bill, every month?”
“That would mean you were paying for pretty much all of it.”
“Of course it doesn’t: it would be joined.”
“You make about five times what I do. This makes us even.”
“Dean,” Cas scooted closer, ignoring the sudden objection in his side, and laid a hand over his boyfriend’s heart. “I understand you want us to be equals...but that has always hinged on your budget, not mine. Do you realize that isn’t equal?”
“When it comes to money...we’ll never be close to equals. I know that. But this is the closest we can be.”
“But it’s not.” Cas rubbed his thumb over Dean’s heart. “We could really deal with our incomes as one. Regardless of what we make individually. I understand you have reservations. But I also need you to know that, in my estate planning, I fully intend to leave you the rights to everything: including my finances. And there will be a separate account for Sam, to insure that his health is always provided for.”
“Stop it. I don’t want to talk about wills and crap.”
“This is important to me.”
Dean sighed, caught Cas’s hand, and rolled sideways to face him. “Cas, I don’t want your money. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with all that stuff.”
“I don’t think that’s what bothers you,” Cas said, doing his best to keep his voice light and soft. “I think you worry that people will think that’s why you’re with me.”
“I don’t care what people think.”
“If that were true, you wouldn’t have a problem calling me your boyfriend, or partner.”
Dean’s face morphed into one of shock. “That’s what you think?”
“No, it’s not. It has nothing to do with you. I’ve always been that way. Girlfriend and boyfriend seem so juvenile, and partner seems so formal and businessesy, and everything else feels too contrived.” Dean propped himself up. “Is this about the whole gay-marriage thing? Am I gonna have to put a ring on it?”
Cas had a flash of him and Dean in tuxes, standing under an archway, and felt his stomach roll again. It was so far away from the relaxed, friendly affection he and Dean shared—and the tender, more loving moments they kept to their bed—he couldn’t imagine them even pretending that was natural. Though he’d believed he wanted to marry Rachel, he’d dreaded the idea of a ceremony: and he’d forced a smile through hers, hating the endless photographs and handshakes and cues he had to remember.
“No, Dean,” he said, propping himself up. “I’m happy with how things are. But...with everything that’s happened, with my Father and the estate, I’ve realized this is something we have to deal with. I’m wealthy, Dean, and if I were to die first, I’d want you and Sam to be fully provided for.”
“You’re not going to die first.”
“We can’t know that.”
“I do.” Dean flopped back down. “If there’s anything I’ve earned in this life, it’s the right to not have to live without you or Sammy. I’m going to go first.”
Cas felt a sudden emptying of his insides, dread overwhelming him. “You can’t,” he pleaded, ignoring the physical pull in his gut as he leaned forward and grabbed his boyfriend’s shoulders. “Don’t talk like that.”
“We got time.” Dean reached up and laid a hand on the side of his face. “Don’t worry.”
“Then why are you saying this? Why do you get to be first?”
“Because I’m the weakest,” he murmured, pushing Cas’s hair behind his ear. “You and Sammy, you can power through anything.”
“You’re saying this like it’s fact.”
“It’s instinct.” Dean reached up and pulled him down against his shoulder. “I’m just trying to say...we don’t have to make these decisions tonight. And the money...that doesn’t have to be a factor.”
“But you’re making all these decisions without me.”
“I don’t think I can be of any use when it comes to managing money. I’ve spent my whole life clawing to keep the power on.”
Cas felt his eyes burn a bit, sat up, ignoring another twinge in his side, pulled himself on top of his boyfriend, and kissed him like this was, in fact, their last night together. “I don’t want to be without you,” he hissed, pulling back to stare at him, pinning Dean’s wrists. “You don’t get to decide I will be.”
Dean’s eyes softened, and he relaxed beneath him. “Let’s just leave it?”
“Tell me you don’t get to leave me.”
“I don’t get to leave you.”
“You don’t get to decide that I’ll be without you.”
“I don’t get to decide you’ll be without me.”
In the back of Cas’s mind, he realized it was surprising just how easy it was to get Dean to give in. And for the first time in their years together, he finally understood a bit about what it was Dean had loved about Gordon: he’d let Dean release all his responsibility. Dean carried so much for so many—Cas included—without complaint, and without a thought of his own well being. He, more than anyone, deserved the release of responsibility.
“Lie still,” Cas commanded, “and think only of a long life. With me.” And then he moved down his boyfriend’s chest and beneath their covers.
Cas’s stomach didn’t improve the next day. He managed to get down some toast and a bit of eggs, quickly tossing the remains while Dean was busy talking at Sam about their schedules. Cas patted Dean on the back, squeezed Sam’s shoulder, and took off, Sam’s protest of “Dean!” and Dean’s mimic of “Sam!” drifting after him.
The drive in only ratcheted up his nausea, every curve seemingly designed to bring the fire in his gut further and further up into his chest. He made it through a full round on the floor before he needed to pause and splash cold water on his face, lean against the wall, and do some deep breathing.
He didn’t make it through round two.
On his knees in the physician’s bathroom, the little bit of toast came flying up, along with, he was sure, some remnants of Dean’s vegetable stir-fry.
He closed his eyes, leaned against his hand, and panted. He shouldn’t be at work: he knew that. But he’d taken too much time as it was. It seemed like every other week, someone was having to cover him for something, all of it personal. To take more time off...
Cas vomited for the third time. His gut ached, his eyes were running, and he felt a stupid, childish longing for Dean to rub his back and murmur like he had during Cas’s last bought with stomach flu, during ‘The Unfortunate Weekend,’ when he and Sam seemed dead-set on emptying their bodies of any and all fluids.
“Ew,” a familiar voice chirped from behind him.
“Some doctor you are,” Cas gasped, sweat running down his forehead.
“Pediatrician. Kids can’t physically produce that much bile.”
“Shutup,” Cas moaned.
“Seriously, mate, you best get home.”
“Anna will kill me.”
“She’s more likely to kill you if you walk around patients while sick yourself.”
“I’ve taken too many days.” Cas slumped back against the stall and wiped his mouth on his lab coat. “I can’t lose this job. This is the only hospital reasonably near Dean’s garage.”
“Anna isn’t going to send a Morgan to the showers.”
Cas’s stomach rolled again. “God.”
“Seriously,” Peter said, crouching outside the door. “Hold still.”
“What—” he startled as a cold metal object snuck into his ear. He tried to duck away, but his friend’s hand blocked his exit.
“Hold still, little man, and I’ll give you a Euro.”
“I’ve been to Europe.”
“Then hold still because ,I said so.” Cas heard a beep and Peter withdrew the thermometer. “101.4. Not life-threatening, but on the wrong side of normal.”
“I must have eaten something...off,” Cas gasped, leaning over the toilet once more and dry-heaving.
“Alright, Slugger, we know you could hit this out of the park, but best hit the bench.”
“Turn it off,” Cas moaned.
“Fine—home you go, you dumb wanker. You either report yourself to Anna or I’ll do it for you.”
“I can’t lose this job,” he moaned, as his friend gripped his shoulders and hauled him upright.
“You bring flu to this hospital, and Anna’ll take more than your job, my friend.”
Cas felt a sudden, severe onset of what could only be described as panic. “I’ve taken too much time. I’m failing my patients, my colleagues...my friends.”
Peter’s face softened. “No one’s harder on you than you are, Cas. This hospital can run without any of one of us. You’re here more than you should be anyway, and you know it.”
“I don’t want to lose this job.”
“You’re not going to.”
“I’m letting everyone down.” He was mortified to find his eyes suddenly damp.
“For Christ’s sake, Cas. Just go home. Get in bed and sleep this off. I promise I’ll act like this never happened.”
Cas took a deep breath, accepted his friend’s hand up, and splashed water on his face before he made his way up to Anna’s office. She was on a conference call and typing at the same time, but took one look at him, frowned, and said “go home. And stay there until you’re well,” before turning back to her computer screen.
“Anna, I’m sorry—”
“This is a hospital, Cas. We can’t have the sick treating the sick.”
“I didn’t mean to—”
“Of course you didn’t. Doctors are the worst patients, I swear.” She stopped typing and turned. “Cas, you can’t work while you’re sick. It’s dangerous.”
“I’ve taken too many days.”
“And you’re here more days than you need to be. You call in when you’re off. Don’t think I haven’t noticed.” Cas felt heat filling his cheeks. Anna’s face softened. “Cas, go home. I need you here, and I need you healthy. I’ll comp Peter a few extra days, alright? Now, go. Home.”
Cas’s stomach rolled once more, and he found he couldn’t be happier to be heading to his locker, and then to his office, and then down the stairs, to his car, and to home, where he wanted nothing more than a few pain-killers, and his own bed, with Dean.
In retrospect, he should have know that was the first sign that something was truly wrong inside him.
P.S. I'd like a Sam and Andy (friends only!) icon...any ideas?
And finally, title taken from "Raggedy Ann and the Slippery Slide," 1947, by Johnny Gruelle.
“Hi Mr. Gallagher, this is Lauren Williams, from Spencer and Chapin Adoption. I’ve got some news—Andy’s birth-parents would like to see him. They have both been clean for going on two years, and while they’re no longer together, they have reached out to the agency to say they’d like a meeting. Of course, both and you and Andy are welcome to decline, but as you know, many adopted children wonder about their biological roots, and this could be a wonderful opportunity to ask those questions. We are more than happy to arrange for a monitored meeting with a counselor, or anything else you may require. Please give us a call at your convenience.”
Andy couldn't say the same.
Which is why, when the doorbell was ringing, between the slow-motion effect of the weed and the surreal effects of the beer, he didn't answer for a good while.
He knew who it was anyway, way before he stumbled down the stairs, beer in hand, and opened the door.
“Hey Sammy,” he grinned. Sam was in his go-to brown hoodie and sneakers, jeans and white t-shirt, brown bangs hovering over his forehead and cutting years off his actual age.
“Oh...Andy,” Sam said, taking him in. “What happened?”
“I’m fine. I feel great,” Andy laughed, swaying and stalking away from the door. He could hear Sam coming in behind him. “Better than I have in ages. All that sobriety...it’s not good for you, you know? My Dad...I mean, Jack,” he laughed and sank down onto the sofa, “he drank and smoked for years...long as I can remember. And he turned out fine. Even adopted me. We used to sit around...make nachos, order take-out, watch movies, get high, drink beer...but then I had to get caught snorting coke, huh? Just like the folks...my real folks. Junkies, both of them.”
“Andy,” Sam knelt in front of him, one hand trapping the wrist clutching the beer, those big, dumb, way too sweet eyes full of all that horrid love and concern and friendship that Andy knew crippled Dean and Cas (because damnit, it had crippled him too)—“what happened, huh?” And then he smiled...like his kindness wasn’t enough. “You can tell me...you can tell me anything. I’m not gonna get mad, or judge, or preach to you. What is it?”
Andy squinted at him. “How’d you get here?”
“What, five miles?”
“You wouldn't answer your phone—your cell or the house. I was scared you’d been in an accident. I called Cas and asked him to keep tabs on the ERs, and Dean was downtown with him, so it was two feet or nothing.”
Andy couldn't believe it—Sam had been worried, but he wasn't crying or shaking or breathing hard or scratching at his arms, the way he’d done countless times before. He was calm and steady and had done what he needed to reach his friend.
Andy felt his eyes filling. He dropped the beer, not giving a damn that it soaked the carpet or splashed on Sam or stained the edges of the chair. He drew up his knees and sobbed into them, and Sam was up and moving, curling around him on the sofa, and he was so big, and stupidly sincere, and such a damn real, good, honest friend, that it just made Andy’s relapse seem all the more pathetic.
“M-m-my...parents,” was all he could manage, before he was crying too hard to articulate why he was actually upset. Sam wrangled out of his hoody and wrapped him up in it, leaned against the top of his head and hugged him tight. When Andy was too tired to cry anymore he finally managed to direct Sam to the answering machine, where he replayed that damnable message that had driven him over the edge.
“Buddy,” Sam murmured when the message ended, “this doesn't mean anything.”
“You don’t get it, Sam!” Andy barked, leaping off the sofa only to weave on his feet. “I have these...strangers out there with a...claim to me. I have this...stranger’s blood, dictating who I’ll ultimately be. Jack can only do so much against that.”
“You are more like him than you’ll ever be like them.”
“Am I?” Andy’s eyes spilled over once more. “How can you know that? How can I know that? I took to the bong like it was my baby bottle. I took to cocaine like it was oxygen. How do I know I’m not more their kid than his?”
“Because of who you've grown into,” Sam soothed. “Someone who’s kind and caring and looks out for everyone and does the hard work to make sure that they’re healthy for everyone around them. That’s not your bio-parents. That’s all your Dad—your real Dad.”
“My real Dad,” Andy snapped, laughing, “beat the crap out of my Mom and shot so much dope even the doctors couldn't explain why he was alive.”
“No, that was your bio Dad. Your real Dad is Jack, whose been nothing but grateful to have you since day one and you know it.”
“No, Sam, that’s what you guys say—guys outside the system. The social workers and counselors say it’s real, but it’s not. Everyone says kids belong with their parents—and they don’t mean whoever has the money to buy them from the pen.”
“And what about me and you, huh?” Sam smiled. “You've seen me sick, depressed, dirty, dragged me out of bed, taken me Christmas shopping—we’re not brothers? What about me and Cas? All Cas has done—with treatment, with our garden, with bringing us to New York...he’s not our family? What about Bobby and Ellen? Or Ash and Missouri? All those people don’t matter? Because they’re not blood, we don’t love them? We don’t value them like we value the relatives that hurt us so much they brought us together?”
Andy folded, doubling over on the sofa, relieved when his friend arrived to pull him close, pet his hair and shush him. He lay down, put his head in Sam’s lap, and curled into a ball against his friend. “M’gonna fail outta Rosemount,” he sobbed.
“No you won’t,” Sam soothed, putting an arm around him. “We’re gonna be okay, buddy. You’re gonna be just fine. It’s just a...hiccup.”
“A...hiccup?” Andy laughed, and looked up to see Sam flushing.
“Cas told me that, when I ingested the smack-salt.”
“That guy’s nuts,” Andy shook his head and wiped his eyes. “Seriously. You think all docs are like that?”
“I think they’re all used to trauma,” Sam smiled. “So I think they have a better perception on what’s panic-worthy. And Cas was trying to make me feel better.”
“He’s a good guy.” Andy’s eyes filled again. “Tracy broke up with me.”
“What? Why didn't you tell me?”
“’Cause...she said she thought I needed to spend more time in recovery before we dated. I guess ‘cause I spend so much time with group and you guys.”
“That’s not a bad thing,” Sam soothed, patting his shoulder. “That doesn't mean she doesn't love you.”
“No...I know she loves me. That’s what sucks. I hate it. I hate loving.” To his surprise, he felt a chuckle rumble through Sam’s body, and glared up at him. “What?”
“Dude, when I tell you that tomorrow...you are going to hate yourself.”
“Oh...shutup, emo King,” he moaned, and buried his face against his friend’s leg.
“I’ll give you one free pass, okay? You just used it. Beware.”
“I miss her,” Andy sobbed, clutching the denim over Sam’s knee. “I miss all my friends. All of them left me when I went sober.”
“You made new ones.”
“I’m...real easy to leave. M’parents left me. M’friends left me. Tracy left me. Bet Jack’ll leave me too, when he finds out.”
Sam sighed, folded his arms on his friend’s shoulder, and leaned his chin on top of them. “Well, I’m not leaving. And I imagine when you tell your Dad that he’ll be, he’ll have a whole hell of a lot to say.”
“Y’say that ‘cuz you have Dean,” Andy grumbled. “I’wanna Dean.”
“You can have him. But I’m telling you, I’m not taking him back. And believe me, a week in, you’ll be begging me to.”
Andy laughed again, and then held on tighter to Sam as the laughter turned back to tears. “Don’ hate me, okay?”
“No way, buddy,” Sam smiled, tugging him closer. “Promise.”
“Sir, you’re disturbing my ward,” Cas tried to snap, knowing he was smiling too broadly to come close to pulling off irritated. Dean winked at a slender blonde nurse and then gave Cas a quick, casual, peck on the cheek. Since his father had died, his boyfriend had shown him more attention in public: neither of them would ever be able to go as far as some, but since they’d be the same with the women they dated, Cas could hardly complain: besides, where he’d have felt embarrassment before, he felt a sudden thrill now. He never thought that comfort and familiarity could be a thrill, but somehow, seeing Dean reminded him of all those other spouses who swung by with meals or kids or ‘just to say hi.’ It was domesticity, familiarity, family--and after the hell with his own, it was a reminder of what peace truly meant.
“Gotcha a vegan turkey club,” Dean said, following Cas to the staff kitchenette. “With vegan turkey and vegan bacon and vegan mayo and vegan cheese...look, I don’t know what the hell is on this sandwich, okay? But it sounded like something you would eat.”
Cas grinned and opened it the brown paper container, finding a sandwich with everything Dean said (plus avocado and tomato) and small side salad to boot.
“Thanks,” he beamed.
“It’s nothing. It’s just...” Dean shifted and shoved his hands in his pockets. “You left before I got in, and I’ll be gone before you get in, and...it’s only been a week.”
Since we got back. And your Dad died. And your brother was arrested. And Sammy was only almost murdered.
Every night since they’d been back, Dean had pulled Cas into his arms and rubbed his back and head and hummed and kissed and soothed him while he cried. And every morning, Dean had made them a healthy breakfast, packed Cas a healthy lunch, and been waiting with a healthy dinner—all of which, Cas knew, was no small feat for the man who lived for cheeseburgers and fries.
“Where’s Sam?” he asked, pulling out a portion of his sandwich and smiling as he took a bite, letting Dean know he adored his choice. “Oh, God—did he call you about Andy? He hadn't picked him up for group.”
“Yeah. Said he was going over there.”
“Ash give him a ride?”
“He was going to walk.”
Cas paused. “Dean...”
“He said he was fine, and he sounded good and solid,” Dean said, eyes boring into his own. “I told him I wanted to take you dinner, since I wouldn’t get to spend time with you today, and he said for me to tell you hi. He’s starting to handle things again, Cas. We gotta try and let him.”
Cas held his gaze for a minute, than nodded and dug into his sandwich again. "I'm surprised he's been sleeping as well as he has," he admitted after a moment.
"Don't worry about him, okay? I've got you both covered." He kicked Cas's shoe playfully, grinning, trying to lighten the mood. "So, seriously, when he and Andy finally tell us they’re getting married, how much should go toward their wedding?”
“Oh...well,” he took another bite, pretending to consider the ceiling. “my parents always said the bride’s parents should pay for the Church and the dress, and the reception, but the groom’s on the hook for the rest...so if we negate that and split it half and half with Andy’s Dad...ten thousand?”
“We should start a new account.”
“What...you won’t merge our accounts, but you’ll start one for Sam and Andy's make-believe wedding?”
“You and I will never be on equal economic footing. Sam and Andy already are.” Dean reached into the paper container and broke off a piece of the fake bacon. “Besides, I want to be an Uncle, and from what Jack says, kids aren't cheap when you can't make them yourself.”
They shared a smile—the perfect warmth and familiarly of an inside joke. Dean popped the bacon in his mouth and made a fake gagging sound, than cut off and said “actually...that’s not as terrible as I thought. But don’t you dare try and slip it past me one morning.” And then a nurse poked her head in and said “Doctor Morgan, you’re needed,” and Cas had to swallow his bite of sandwich and shove it in the staff fridge and hope it was all intact when he got back.
“Thanks for the sandwich,” he smiled, wiping off his mouth and getting a hit of hand sanitizer from the dispenser in the corner. “Say hi to Sam for me, okay?” A second nurse called for him. Cas took a step toward the door and was startled to find Dean’s arms around him.
“M’sorry I won’t be home,” he murmured. “But...I love you.”
Cas smiled. Dean had been making an effort to say it—and an effort it was. Showing his feelings was easy, but saying them had always been a challenge: one Cas had never minded. He’d been hearing non-stop words of greatness and excellence and perfection and duty and love his whole life. It was a whole other world to be shown.
So Dean told Cas he loved him, and Cas pulled back and kissed him, hard, right on the mouth, right on his ward, and he felt them meeting deep down in his chest, in his roots, and he pushed the world to know that they were perfect, perfect, perfect, together.
Jack kicked off his dress-shoes and stretched. “Hey howdy hey, An-day!” he called. “I’m starved! Let’s order in: your pick!” no answer. “Andy?” he called, and started as his son weaved into the living room.
“Hey, Pop,” he leered, and stumbled. Jack caught him before he face-planted. Sam Winchester came in behind him, carrying a damp rag and looking stressed.
“Hi Mr. Gallagher,” he said.
“Jack,” he corrected, propping his son upright. The kid never did call him that without being told. “What’s going on?”
“Andy’s...gotten a little stressed.”
“M’drunk,” he mumbled. “An’ high.”
Jack looked at Sam who nodded, sadly. “I got him to drink some water and lie down. And I called Alan to ask about his meds. He’s not supposed to be drinking on them.”
Jack sighed. Thank God for Sam. Sure, he had his fair share of drama, but he really did love Andy. And he knew Andy loved having a friend who cared more about him than weed or a free ride. “Thank you for staying, Sam. Are you alright?”
“I wouldn't leave him.” Sam’s chin went up. “Never...not like this.”
“I know you wouldn't.” Jack hoisted his son up against his shoulder as he slumped. It was a relief to know someone other than him knew how special his boy was: and was willing to stand by him. “Thank you, Sam, so much. I hope this doesn't affect your recovery.”
“No way. I can stay the night if you’d like.”
“It’s okay—I can take it from here. Could you come by tomorrow? I imagine he’s gonna feel like an ass. He’ll need you.”
Sam smiled, a little sadly, and reached out to pat his friend’s back. “Let me know when he’s awake and I’ll be here.”
Sam nodded and put a phone call in to his brother. Jack half-marched, half-dragged his son to the sofa, laid him out, and he and Sam sat quietly by him, waiting.
When Sam spotted the lights of his brother’s sleek black car, he leaned into his friend’s vision and said “I’m gonna be back here tomorrow, buddy, okay? You call me if you want...no matter what time it is.” He gave him a quick hug, smiled at Jack, and then was gone.
“Keep him away,” Andy moaned when the door shut. “I don’ wan’ him to relapse.”
“I don’t think I could if I wanted to,” Jack said. “He’s a good friend.”
“He’s the best,” Andy’s eyes grew damp. “He’s such a good guy...he just got overwhelmed. That’s why he used. He’s so sorry he did.”
“Did you get overwhelmed? Is that why you did this to yourself?” Jack rubbed his son’s back. “I thought you were doing good, buddy. What happened? You coulda called me.”
“My parents want to see me.” Jack’s stomach dropped. “The agency called today. They cleaned up and they wanna see me.”
“So? We don’t have to.”
“They say...it’ll be good for me. They say they’ve got counselors and everything.”
“Kid, I don’t give a damn if they’ve got the President and his Cabinet and the UN waiting to talk reunification. I’m not just meeting up with them because they think it’ll be best. That’s for you and me to decide.”
“They think it will answer my questions. They think it’ll give me answers. About why I’m a fuck-up, I guess.”
“Yeah, well, I think you’re going to feel like a complete jackass tomorrow, and you should.” He got to his feet, went to the kitchen to fill a glass with water, scooped up Sam’s neglected washcloth, and returned to his son. “Drink that. You’re still gonna be hurting tomorrow, but the more we get in you now, the worse the damage.”
“I’m not really yours, Pop.” A tear escaped out the side of Andy’s eye and ran down onto the sofa pillow. Jack used Sam’s damp washcloth to the stain off his son’s face. “I’m not really anybody’s.”
Jack stroked his hair. “Blood doesn't make family, kiddo.”
“That’s just what everyone says. But if it doesn't, than why can two strangers say they want to see me...and they can? Why does everyone say they’re my parents? Why does Cas’s family feel like they have to murder Sam? Because blood matters, Jack!”
Jack got to his feet, stormed down the hall, opened the closet, parted his and Andy's coat collection, and accessed their fireproof, fall-proof, super-insulated safe. Inside he had spare cash, savings bonds, critical papers, and, his most treasured possession: the adoption certificate, which he snatched out of its perch and marched back to his kid.
“Maybe you misunderstood how this works,” Jack snapped, plopping himself roughly onto the sofa and unraveling the small piece of paper in front of his face. “But this, here? This says fuck everyone else. This says fuck everyone who may have a blood claim to you, or a long-lost financial one, or any other sort of bizarre, medieval, off the charts, foreign claim to my damn kid. This says that I’m the be it all, end all, of you, Champ. And if anyone wants to come up against me and say they can do better, I will fuckin’ kick their fugly fuckin’ faces in. Because you are my son. ”
Andy laughed and his laughter turned to sobs, and he curled into a ball on the edge of the couch, and Jack buried a hand in his hair and petted him like a puppy.
“What if they’re just like me?” Andy sobbed. “What if you meet them and you hate me?”
“Buddy, there’s nothing you could do, ever, that would make me hate you. And bud, we don’t have to see them.”
“I do. I need to.”
“Then I’ll do it with you. But I’ll be dragged to hell before I let you call anyone else ‘Dad’ or ‘Pop.’ I washed your sheets when you peed on them. I mopped your puke off the floor. I grounded your dumb ass too many times to count. And I’ve sat by you in every damn sobriety meeting and family therapy and I quit grass and booze and everything else for you, and you are my son in every sense of the word, and if you don’t believe that than I will beat it into your head until you do.”
“All that says,” Andy choked out through his tears, “is that you paid for me.”
“No, jackass.” He scooted closer. “You know what I went through to get this? Over a hundred thousand dollars. More than my life’s savings. I was examined by every doctor out there—mental and physical. Not for you. For me. So that I could earn the right to be your Dad. The only thing I paid for is that chance. And I’ve been trying to earn you ever since.” He smiled and pushed his son’s floppy brown hair off his face. “You can smoke and drink and yell and shriek all you want, kiddo. But you can’t ditch me. You could meet these ‘parents’ and decide that they’re everything you ever wanted, but you know what? I’ll be a creepy-ass stalking you. I’ll send you birthday cards when you don’t tell me where you live and pizzas on Friday nights and call you with a fake voice saying ‘I know you’re watching Finding Bigfoot tonight’ until you don’t know what’s what.”
Andy struggled to a sitting position, buried his face in Jack’s neck, and cried until his stomach hurt.
“What if Sam never comes back?” he managed between hiccups and sobs. “What if I lost him too?”
“First off—there’s no ‘too.’ Second—Sam’s gonna be here tomorrow,” Jack soothed. “I know him well enough for that. You’ve never given up on him, and he’s not giving up on you.” He scratched his son’s scalp. “Face it—you’re screwed, Raggedy Annie,” he grinned, squeezing his hand gently. “You can drink and smoke and scream and cry, and you’re still gonna have people who think the sun shines out of your ass,” he grinned. “Now you try and tell me your drug-using, spouse-beating, baby-neglecting ‘parents’ can say the same, and I’ll fold that you’re right, and that piece of paper is nothing but a bunch of cash I tossed away years ago. Wanna bet?”
Andy shook his head, tears streaming. “I just...I just got overwhelmed, Dad.”
“I know, kiddo,” Jack soothed. “You need to sleep this off. You’re gonna feel better when you wake up, okay? I promise.”
“An’ you’ll be here?” Andy mumbled, eyes already drifting closed. Jack wiped tears away from his son’s face.
“Right here,” Jack smiled. He rose later, to make a sandwich, use the bathroom, grab a soda, and snag a blanket from the hall closet, but each and every time he returned to sit beside his son, and he was there when the sun rose, and when Andy opened his aching eyes, and he brought him coffee and Aspirin, and when his son looked up at him with grieving, hurting eyes, Jack kissed him on the forehead, and Andy gripped his father’s wrist, and they shared the silent understanding that the hell they’d face, they’d face together, as the closest of fathers and sons.
“You good, bro?” Dean asked.
Sam was half asleep, remote control drooping out of his hand, some crime documentary droning on in the background. He blinked up blearily, and Dean held out a cup of mint-smelling tea, something so ridiculous and girly that it made Sam’s throat tightened with appreciation.
“Sure,” he mumbled, and took the outstretched mug, blowing on it lightly before taking a small sip. Mint and sugar, and milk. He thought of all the times his brother had made him soup with rice when he was sick, and oatmeal with strawberries, and hot chocolate with cream, and he felt tears closing his throat, forcing him to carefully place the mug down on one of the stupid coasters Dean had made him order from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“Bull, baby boy,” Dean smirked, then sank down onto the couch beside him and tossed an arm over his back, letting Sam burrow into him like he wasn’t a full grown man, but, once more, the little kid who had hidden away in his brother’s shoulder too many times to count.
“Andy,” he managed, voice breaking at the name. Dean’s hand shifted instantly to his hair and stroked.
“He’s gonna be okay. He’s got too much support not to be.”
“I know, but...you know...I know there's family without blood, but it'd be hard not to have ANY biological family, you know? Dad...despite all his faults...Dad’s Dad. Dad’s not Bobby, or Ellen, or Cas...even if they’ve been more family than he is.”
“Yeah...Dad’s Dad. And we’ll always love him. But it wasn’t blood that made him family—it was the times he was good. The times he took us for ice cream, and to the movies, and paid the bills –the times he earned us as his kids. We didn’t owe him anything. He owed us. And he had to earn it. You telling me Jack hasn’t?”
Sam shook his head, felt his breath hitch, hard. “No...I mean, of course he has. But...sometimes I just...think we’re...lucky, that’s all.”
“Because...we’re blood and we’re...you know...family. Friends,” Sam blushed, suddenly interested in his nails. Dean smiled and squeezed his brother’s shoulders.
“Listen—if you were dropped in my lap as some foster kid, or if you and me and Mom and Dad suddenly had Cas dropped on us, or if we were orphaned when we were kids and given to Bobby and Ellen...we’d still all be family. Yeah, Dad was allowed to be way more of an ass than if he wasn’t blood-related, but there was still a lot of good times where he tried to be a good Dad. And even when he sucked—and God did he suck—but he taught us to love people even when they’re bad...and that’s important. That got us to where we are now, huh?”
Sam’s eyes filled and he fought to speak around it. “I...just...I really, really don’t want to lose Andy.”
“I know,” Dean squeezed him gently. “And you know me...I don’t believe in much. But I really, truly, believe that when it comes to Andy...let’s just say, you and he have the backing to make it. Because you have awesome, super familes backing you.”
Sam laughed. “You’re so full of yourself, you know that?”
“Dude, I am awesome, and that is being modest. I am an awesome brother, and an awesome mechanic, and an awesome boyfriend, and anyone who disagrees can kiss my ass.”
Sam closed his eyes and leaned his head on Dean’s shoulder. Dean was full of it—that he knew. Dean was insecure, undereducated, self-destructive, and ridiculously self-sacrificing.
And Sam couldn’t help but believe that even if there was no blood binding them, that he’d still love this big, dumb jerk as the greatest big brother anyone could ever invent.
The morning was way too bright for Andy’s taste. He’d spend the day with his head, eyes, and stomach hurting, and when he told Rosemount, he’d get a great big slap from his therapist and a lecture on the danger of substances with his meds from his docs.
He owed Sam a thousand apologies, and his Dad even more.
Andy peered over the edge of the couch to where Jack had laid out a couple blankets on the floor and throw-pillow from the sofa and was stretched out, still in his clothes. Near at hand was a puke-bucket and a water-bottle Andy would bet had been stacked with ice before he drifted off.
Andy smiled and stretched beneath the blanket covering him. No doubt Jack had tucked it around him before he fell asleep.
His Dad had always made everything warm and safe.
Before the day ended, he’d find a way to tell Jack how much he loved him. How much he appreciated being raised as he had. And he’d tell Sam how lucky he was to have a friend like him. How no matter what happened in their lives, he wanted to be there for the ride.
And he’d call Tracy and thank her for putting up with him. And tell her he’d call her again when he was stronger. He wouldn’t ask her to wait for him; but she would. He knew that, as surely as he knew Sam would forgive him, and his Dad was Jack, not some old former junkie.
He’d do all that—but now, he'd close his eyes and wait until his Dad woke him with promises of coffee, bacon, and pancakes. And then he’d rouse, grumbling, and set the table, and he and Jack would eat, and they’d decide to call the agency and ask for a meeting. And then they’d clean up and change and see a movie and go for food and Andy would have a long talk with Sam and they’d crash early, and life would go on, just like before.
Because Andy was home, and had been for years. And his family wasn’t about to let him forget it.
About this 'verse
When I saw Sam sneaking out behind a dumpster to drink demon blood, I said aloud "oh...he's an addict." And, dealing with a loved one with addiction, it completely seized me. I love the show as a whole, and I suppose I long for a family as loving and open as the one I've attempted to create below, trying to base it completely off of the amazing canon themes of family Kripke created. As a blanket statement, please be alert to themes of drug abuse, alcoholism, child abuse, addiction, depression, and anxiety. I have done my best to address these themes with honesty, but also humor, and much, much love, which is what we're all looking for, no matter what our issues and across all vices.
Amazing Humbling Friendworks: The fantastic x_luciole wrote an AU of my little AU and blew me sideways for taking the time, effort, and writing something so painful and beautiful: John Doe.
Art Posts: Part of school and my freelance business is Photoshop, and it's inspiring me to play around with photos. That and the fabulous, amazing time and talent donated by friends inspired me to start an art-post tag! You can find the first here: A Very Merry Three Kings Christmas.
PodFic: This 'verse has been podficced by the impeccable alice_alaizabel!!! You can find it here: We Three Kings.
Q/A: ONGOING: THREE KINGS Q/A
We Three Kings
Cas, a doctor, falls in love with the mechanic, Dean Winchester. He understood, early on, that this meant adopting his younger brother, Sam. He didn't, however, count on all the loss that would follow the Winchesters, the addiction that would trouble Sam, or the problems his own family would cause following his commitment to the boys.
One of the Chief Princes
Sam and Dean Winchester meet Cas Morgan's oldest brother Michael. The introductions are anything but pleasant.
While Cas and Dean pay a weekend visit to a depressed and sick Sam, they're interrupted by a well-intentioned in-patient determined to befriend the younger Winchester.
Dean's Sober Superbowl Celebration
In support of his brother's and friend's sobriety, Dean wants you to get yourself to his house.
And Our Fates We Did Establish
The first time Dean sacrifices his own hurt for Sam sets an unfortunate precedent that will follow both boys throughout their lives.
The Thief in the Night
Dean finally confronts Sam about stealing from him and Cas.
Chief of the Four Favored Angels
Gabriel surprises his brother with a visit. Because why wouldn't anyone want to see him?
Those Who Live Among You
Cas finds the best burger joint in town for date night. Afterwards, he feels foolish for wondering if where to go would be his biggest problem of the day.
The Servants of Man
During his time at Rosemount, Missouri decides Sam needs to unburden himself about what happened on the street after he was kicked out of Dean and Cas' house. Sam complies, hoping it will be the last he'll ever have to think about it.
Weekend at Gabriel's
After the events of Those Who Live Among You, Cas decides he needs a break from the Winchesters. Visiting his favorite brother seems like the perfect escape. Meanwhile, Dean enjoys a weekend with Sam and wonders if there isn't something to the adage of three being a crowd.
Life From the Dead
Following the events of Weekend at Gabriel's, Dean and Cas make up, Sam mans up, Ruby shows up, Balthazzar blows up, and everyone grows up.
Faith in a Faith that Falls
Pastor James "Jim" Murphy finds two young boys set on spending the night in his church. He does what he can to help, knowing the odds are against them. Special thanks to faithinfaith, whose warm, insightful messages inspire me to work harder, and whose user name inadvertantly inspired this little bit.
The Festival of Weeks
Prior to the events of We Three Kings and all that follows. Sam's signed himself into rehab and undergone the initial withdrawal. Dean and Cas bring what comforts they can.
The Mechanisms of an Immature Mind
A John based interlude. He had the best intentions for his boys. Addiction had other ideas.
When Sammy Met Cas
You know the story: the happy couple believe they've found their soulmate. The honeymoon montage ends with the awkward introduction to the step-children. It's all downhill from there.
Balthazar, Doctor of Strange Love: or, how the Kings Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Their Life
An accident at the garage forces Sam and Cas to confront their insecurities about a world without Dean.
A Drop Fell on the Apple Tree
Dean knew Sam would grow up someday, but this wasn't how he envisioned it.
The Full Range of Human Dilemmas
Set between The Festival of Weeks and Simon Says. A family therapy session airs some crucial issues between the Winchesters, and cements a critical role for Cas in his new family.
This Dark March
Sam talks Dean into letting him go straight home from school. It's a mistake neither will make twice.
A Very Merry Three Kings Christmas
Part 1 up, Part 2 still incomplete, because I quit my job and life imploded. :)
Westward Leading, Still Proceeding
An incident at the halfway house leads Sam to reevaluate where he calls home.
Sam and Dean's happiness is shattered by their father's addiction and a bottle of Red Label.
Me and You and No One Else We Know
Dean Winchester breaks up with Gordon Walker. Sammy comes to his rescue.
The death of Jessica Moore ends the life Sam, Dean and Cas had known thus far.
Road From Perdition
The return of Pastor Jim isn't what any of the boys--including PJ himself--expect.
The Pride of Your Heart
A Morgan Family Crisis brings Cas and the Winchesters back East, where Cas learns that his family is out to do whatever it takes to bring him back into the fold: even if it means eliminating the family he's adopted.
Pre We Three Kings, post When Sammy Met Cas. Cas has had a bad day, and there's only one place he wants to be.
Raggedy Andy and the Slippery Slide
Andy Gallagher is a great friend, a great son, and a model recoveree. Until he's not.
Set a week after The Pride of Your Heart.
Morgans solve problems: they don't succumb to them. That's Cas's belief, even after everything. This time, it's going to take more than the Winchesters to show him home.
Set after The Pride of Your Heart and Raggedy Andy and the Slippery Slide.
“What the hell, man?” Dean quickly shifted into worry. “It’s three in the morning. Are you okay?”
“I couldn’t sleep.”
“I thought you were on shift until tomorrow.”
“I left early. We...were allowed. To leave early.”
Dean opened the door. “Come in.”
“I couldn’t sleep.”
“It’s okay,” Dean soothed. “Come on. Come in.”
Cas crossed inside. Dean took his coat and lead him to the small kitchen, where he poured Cas some white wine from the bottle he kept just for him, and handed it over in a whiskey glass. Cas downed it in a huge swallow. “Easy, tiger,” Dean teased, but refilled the glass anyway. “Something happen?”
“We lost a child. A five year old with a peanut allergy. He hid some candy in his room. His parents checked on him before they went to bed. It was too late.”
Dean didn’t flinch, or gasp, or roar about the parents, the way Rachel would have. He didn’t roll his eyes like Gabe would, or lecture him about the job, the way the family would. He just looked at him with those warm, kind eyes, and a solid, steady little smile—not about the death, but to make Cas feel more comfortable sharing what had happened.
“My friend Peter...he’s the emergency pediatrician—”
“I know. The Brit.”
“Yeah. He...he wasn’t doing very well.” He left out the fact that Peter had utterly refused to call it, and had continued to administer treatment until Anna came in and overrode him. “Anna let me take him home. He just wanted to go to the bar.” He again left out Peter sobbing in the surgeon’s bathroom, Cas at a total, impotent loss of how to console him. Peter may be a pompous ass to adults, but he loved the kids who came through those doors. Cas finished his glass and held it out, but Dean shook his head.
“That’s not the answer. Come lay down with me.”
“I can’t sleep.”
“We don’t have to sleep.”
“I’m not in the mood, Dean.”
“Dude, I’m not an ass. I just want to hold you.”
Cas felt his eyes fill. Dean’s expression softened and he moved forward, taking the glass and placing it in the sink. “C’mon.”
Cas had loved Rachel, and she’d been there for him. But the first time he tried to tell her about losing someone, she’d ended up crying, talking about losing her Aunt, and he’d held and rocked her while his own hurt festered. Since then, he’d kept the worse of the losses to himself, crying alone or, occasionally, while he reported to Anna, who always patted his hand and assured him he’d done everything he could.
This had been the first night he’d climbed into bed and ached so bad for Dean it was physical. He couldn’t sleep, couldn’t do anything but think about how badly he wanted to talk to him, wanted to lean on him, wanted Dean’s hand in his hair, around his waist.
Dean lead him to the bedroom, undressed him with care, and pulled him down onto the bed, amidst the pillows and blankets, a hand slipping under his t-shirt to rub the bare skin of his back. Cas sighed against him, caught sight of the photo of a young Sam, with Ellen and Bobby, kept faithfully beside Dean’s bed, and smiled to himself. Dean was still in his sweats and his tee and Cas was still in his boxers and undershirt and Dean loved him, didn't need him to be undressed to show him how much. Dean wanted what Cas wanted--to be a rock in a family of people who loved him, who needed him. It was one of the things that had pulled them together in the first place.
“You can’t save everyone,” Dean murmured, kissing Cas’ forehead. Cas sighed and let himself be rocked, gently, by Dean's inhales and exhales.
“I’ve learned to deal with the loss of adults. Heart-attacks, strokes, car accidents...they’re terrible, but I’ve learned. But...parents should never have to lose a child. Never.”
“You’re right. But people do. And you can’t change that. You can only do what you can with what’s in front of you. And you do so much more than the rest of us.”
“Sometimes...I wish I’d never become a doctor. I wish I’d...I wish I didn’t care so much. I try to think...like my brothers, and my father. He always tried to make us think like soldiers. He said...medicine is a war. A war against death. And there will be casualties. See them as necessary for the greater good, and move forward.”
“That’s not you,” Dean said. “And look...there’s nothing wrong with feeling like shit because a kid died. You’d be a friggin’ sociopath if you didn’t. You just gotta realize that you’re not a miracle worker. Yeah, the rest of us slubs think you are, but you’re not. You just know a hell of a lot more than we do about how to fix us up.”
Cas reached out a shaky hand and touched Dean’s chest. “I missed you,” he said, his throat swelling with tears.
“Hey, you can always come here. I’ll get you a key, even.” Dean leaned against his forehead. “Look...I’m not a doc. Fixing cars isn’t fixing people. I get it. I don’t know what more I can do, other than listen and hold you. But I’ll do that all you want.”
Cas felt a sense of peace wash over him that he’d only ever felt since he’d been with Dean. There was something about him: a force, a logic, an amazing, steady confidence, that Cas wondered at. Dean’s ideas of right and wrong were far off the mark of his family’s, but unlike this family’s his moral compass seemed to be guided, completely, by love. Cas had never met anyone this selfless, this...huge hearted. He felt like a sliver of the moon next to Dean: a sliver clinging on to the greater rock.
“Dean...if I...bought us a house, would you live in it?” he said.
Dean’s hand stopped moving on his back. “What?”
“If I bought a house. Would you live in it?”
Dean snorted. “That sounds a little...off.”
Cas flushed. “I’m...trying to see if you’d...maybe consider living with me.”
Dean’s hand moved off his back and stroked his head. “That’s two different questions.”
“What do you mean?”
“If you want us to move into together, and buy a house, sure. But I’m not letting you do it on your own.”
“But I can pay for it, so you don’t have to worry.”
“Dude, I don’t want you to.” Dean pulled away and sat up, looking Cas square in the eye. “If you want to...play this thing forward, than we’re going to be equals. Meaning we split the bills. Mortgage, electricity, cable—all of it. Otherwise, it’s not going to be you and me. It’s going to be you, me, and your damn money. I don’t want that. And I don’t want you questioning that that’s what this is all about.”
“I’ve never thought that,” he said, but the moment he said it, he realized he had wondered if that was why this loving, handsome, amazing man, had decided to love him. He was ashamed the moment he thought it, but that didn’t change the thought.
And it hit him, all over again, that he still didn’t know who he was without his last name. He’d realized that once before, and it had sent him out the mid-west. And here he was, and he still didn’t understand why Dean would want him for any reason other than his bank account.
But he also felt, for the first time, that if there was anyone in the world who could show him what he could be worth, without money and without the Morgans, it was the man holding him. The man he wanted to see when he woke in the morning, who he wanted to be in bed with when he fell asleep at night. The man he wanted by his side when he had to lay family and friends to rest. The man who didn’t seem to think sacrificing for those you loved was a sacrifice at all.
“I...I love you, Dean,” Cas managed. “And...I want to live with you.”
Dean smiled, leaned down, and kissed him. “I want to live with you too.”
“Will you buy a house with me?”
“I’ll buy a house with you.”
“I was thinking...we should get a two or three bedroom. So Sam would always have a place to stay. I don’t want him to ever feel unwelcome.”
Dean’s face glowed all the brighter. “You know...he was a total jackass at first. But he loves you now.”
“I love him too.” Cas grinned, shyly. “Jess told me, if I hung on long enough, that he’d be a great friend. And he is. And I’m...so glad I did.”
“Me too,” Dean grinned, dipped down, and kissed him again. “You know what? Me three,” he said, and dipped down, greeted by Cas’s joyous grin.
"Can I get a four? Maybe a five?" Cas teased, letting Dean pin his wrists.
"Don' know. I'm thinking I might go up to seven...maybe eight," Dean teased, and leaned down into his boyfriend's open arms.
Jim's heart racketed up when he heard what sounded like someone trying to kick in his door.
"Jim!" someone shouted. He was already halfway to the front of the rectory. "Pastor Jim!" He knew that voice--and it was never good when it yelled.
The Winchester boys stood on the stoop. Rather, Dean stood on the stoop, Sam in his arms, scrawny legs hanging over his brother's right arm while Dean's left held his waist. The younger Winchester had blood caked to his hairline, his chest, his legs. He had his face pressed into Dean's neck, whimpering.
"He got him," Dean gasped. "Jim, please. He needs stitches."Story Link: This Dark March
When Michael to tell her Lou had been arrested she screamed.
It wasn’t like her, but she couldn’t help it.
Her son had tried to murder someone...someone close to her youngest.
“Mom—please. I know, I know it’s hard...I had to.”
“Michael...he won’t survive behind bars.”
“We’ll try and get him help...but he needs to accept it. We can’t let him kill.”
“This is all Castiel’s fault!” she wailed. “He should never have brought them here...what is he thinking?”
“That’d we’d harm him.”
“We wouldn’t...” her voice broke. She had. She’d been so enraged that he’d dared to break protocol, that she’d harmed him. Then she’d felt angry he hadn’t introduced his new family, while being simultaneously furious that they were here. She'd wanted to make sure her children were dealing with their father's death, but she'd forbade them from showing emotion.
Somewhere along the line, she'd lost half of herself, and given into the never-ending barrage of press and criticism that came from public life. And now, with her husband gone, she could suddenly see the neat split between her true self, and the woman who lived to keep her family in clean print. And...
“This wasn’t the mother I wanted to be,” she whispered, tears sliding down her cheeks.
“This isn’t your fault, Mom—”
“It is. I never said no to your Father. Over the years...I lost track of what I wanted.” She sobbed again. “I was so desperate to protect you from the press...I never considered that they weren’t the biggest threat.”
“You were right to. The investments have been falling a bit—”
“But I never thought I’d base my parenting on the family finances, Michael!”
Once, she’d been a young artist: seeking grants, studying abroad on loans. She’d been at a museum opening on a student discount when the most handsome man she’d ever seen had approached her. They’d chatted all night about art, travel, and their families. They both wanted children. And before she knew it, she was married and pregnant and her husband was a rising star and all she’d dreamed of vanished as she struggled to rise beside him.
“Where is Castiel?” she asked, wiping her eyes. “I need to see him.”
Dean had finally fallen asleep, draped over Sam, using his brother’s hip for a pillow while one hand rested on Sam’s ankle and the other on his shoulder. Sam was already in a medication-induced sleep, and Cas shifted on his own cot, stretching his sore muscles.
He went to the bathroom, splashed water on his face, checked Sam’s vitals, and urged a sleepy Dean to take the cot. Dean slapped at him weakly, mumbled something Cas was pretty sure was a curse or two, and passed out promptly when his head hit the hospital’s meager pillow.
Cas decided coffee was in order, and went to find some. He wasn't the least prepared when he nearly ran right into his mother as the elevator doors opened.
The two of them each did a double take, and then his mother gasped “Castiel.”
Cas set his jaw, hard. “Mrs. Morgan.” Her face twisted in grief.
“Please...don’t call me that.”
“You told me too.”
“May I—” the elevator doors began to shut. She caught them, forcing them back open. Cas didn’t offer her a hand as she wrestled her way onto he floor. “May I have a word? Please.”
“If you expect me to drop the charges against Lou based on some insanity defense, spare yourself.”
“No, that’s not why I’m—”
“And if you’d like to lecture me about Dean, you can spare that too.”
“Cas, that isn’t why I’m—”
“And if you want to lecture me about duty or birthright or my societal obligations—”
“Cas, I’m here to say sorry!” she interrupted, and tried to reach for him. He pulled away. “Please...I understand you don’t want to hear it. But—”
“I’ve heard,” Cas growled, “everything you’ve ever had to say. About what you expected from me. I did all you expected of me. And I was miserable. I finally get to a point where I’m happy and you—and this family, do all they can to destroy it.”
“No, Castiel, you’re wrong.” She took off her sunglasses and Cas could see her eyes were pink and puffy. She looked far older than she had the day of the funeral. Her hair was tangled and unwashed and pulled back in a loose ponytail, and her clothes were wrinkled and casual. “I believed...honestly, that coming back was the right thing. I still do. I still can’t make myself think that they—” she faltered. “But that’s not what I’m here to discuss. I can’t approve or understand the choices you’ve made, but...I also haven’t tried.”
“Your name was on that paper, supporting the division of the estate.”
“I’ve been signing endless documents these past few days.”
“And you’re telling me you’d disapprove?”
“Of ruining the estate? Yes. Murder? Cas, no matter how far gone I think you are, I never wanted anyone to be killed!”
“I wouldn’t put it past you. You raised us this way.”
His mother’s eyes filled. “I know,” she said, softly. “I don’t know how that happened...I don’t know how I forgot everything I once wanted for you. I just...” a tear slid down her cheek. “You can not imagine what it’s like to see your husband, and your children, torn to shreds by the press. To have people sneering and glaring behind your backs. I just...wanted you to be safe, and strong.”
“Family makes people strong,” Cas snapped. “Sam and Dean make me strong.”
“They do.” She wiped her eyes. “I can see the changes in you...your eyes, your face...your posture. Rachel was a wonderful girl, but...you never looked like this with her.”
“I’m going home, Mrs. Morgan. I don’t want anything to do with this ever again.”
“Castiel, please—explain this to me. Tell me about them. Tell me about your life.”
“I’m going home, Mrs. Morgan.”
“I’m your mother.” She clenched her jaw, trying hard not to cry. “Please, Cas...call me your mother.”
Cas pulled away from her, hit the button on the elevator, and rode it down to the cafeteria, and to coffee. When he got back, she was gone. So he walked back into Sam's room, took Dean's previous seat, and drank his coffee to the peaceful soundtrack of their breaths.
Sam finally had a clean bill of health. Cas received word from the police that he could retrieve their things from the hotel room, that they’d gotten all the evidence they could. While Dean waited with Sam as he signed all his papwork and was given some last minute instructions, he went back to the double room for the first time in two days.
The strangest thing was...it was just as they’d left it.
In fact, it appeared housekeeping had come through: the beds were made, the towels put a way, fresh plastic put back over the cups. The door Dean had kicked in was patched up and neatly back on its hinges. There was no signs of the violence that had taken place there only hours before, and Cas had a creeping feeling that, maybe, this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened.
He was ready to be done with New York.
Back at the hospital, Cas paid the cab driver handsomely to wait while he collected Sam and Dean, with a promise of a hefty tip if he took them straight the airport after. The driver was happy to oblige, and Sam met the Winchesters as they were coming out of Sam’s room.
“Before we go,” Cas said, “I’d just like to step out for a moment.”
Sam and Dean both stared at him. “Do you want us to go with you?” Sam asked.
“No, that’s alright. I’d...I’d like to see the boardroom one last time.”
“You want me to wingman?” Dean asked.
“No, I just...need a moment. I’ll be fine,” he smiled.
Dean eyed him for a long minute, than nodded. “Sure, man, take your time.”
Cas took the elevator up to the top floor, where the boardroom was. He took his time in the hall, looking at the portraits of past Presidents, crucial donors, and overbearing wives.
He paused just outside the entrance, gathering his strength, before carefully opening the door.
Michael sat at the head of the table, at the seat that had been their father’s, beneath the portrait of their Grandfather. He sat there, doubled over, head on the table. Sobbing.
Sobbing as if his heart had been shattered.
Sobbing as if his life was over.
Cas watched him, thinking of how close him and his father had been. How close Michael and Lou had been. How hard Michael had worked to live up to their expectations.
If Cas were a Winchester, he’d go to his brother, willing to work out their conflicts.
If Cas were a Winchester, he’d forgive all their past, unable to witness the suffering of his brother.
But Cas wasn’t a Winchester. Cas was a Morgan. And so Cas turned, walked back the way he came, and rode the elevator down to Sam and Dean.
Seating on the flight back posed a problem.
Dean didn’t want Sam sitting on his own, since he was still a little dizzy—and, Cas thought privately, traumatized—but he also didn’t want Cas all alone and bereaved—and good God, Cas hadn’t thought it possible, but he was falling all the more in love seeing how hard Dean was trying to do right by everyone in all this—but sitting by himself was...well...in the end, the only option.
So Cas dutifully kept an eye on Sam, and Sam smiled and talked and kept finding reasons to touch Cas’s arm or shoulder warmly, and Dean sat two rows behind them with his headphones on, humming so loud half the cabin could hear.
"I hope you're prepared....he'll be hovering over you for some time," Cas said.
"I know. It's okay. I'm used to it."
Dean's soundtrack switched to Nirvana.
Sam finally rolled his eyes, went back to his brother, and told him that he wanted to sit on the aisle so he could stretch out his legs. Dean huffed and puffed and fussed over his younger brother, tucking him in like he’s four, adjusting his head on the seat rest, testing his temperature, and telling him to yell if he needed anything, before he finally down beside his boyfriend and leaned on his shoulder. Relief passed between them: they felt it.
Cas laid a tentative hand on Dean’s, wary in public. Dean surprised him by turning over his own and catching Cas’ fingers.
He heard Sam’s sigh from behind them, and knew his younger friend was falling asleep, relieved he didn’t have to look after either of them for awhile.
And Cas couldn’t help it: he laughed.
As soon as they were home, Dean and Cas pulled out the sofa and put Sam to bed with a valium and some Gatorade. Once he was sleeping, Dean called Bobby and Ellen while Cas called Rosemount. Sam napped for a few hours, than insisted on going upstairs for a shower and his own bed, and Dean helped him while Cas checked into the hospital.
After his shower, Sam called Andy, and barely twenty minutes after he hung up, Andy’s psychotic van schreeched up to their curb, took out a few new plants, and Andy came flying out of the passenger side, arm in a sling, with Sam’s monkey, flowers, and a big bag of Gatorade hanging off his arm.
“Hi,” he gasped when Dean opened the door, eyes on the stairs. “Sam up there?”
“Go ahead, tiger,” Dean said, and let Andy sprint upward.
Jack Gallagher came in next, looking anxious and eyeing the stairs critically.
“I got the flowers: my boy’s not gay. Though it’d be cool if he was,” he said. “I just...I don’t know what the hell do for someone who’s almost been almost killed. So I went with flowers.”
“It’s a nice gesture, Sir. Thank you,” Cas answered. Jack shifted uncomfortably.
“I have to ask you both something very difficult. Understand, you guys are great, and Sam’s the best friend Andy’s probably ever had. But my son’s safety is my first and foremost concern. He was shot looking out for Sam...I will not have him be a target again. So I have to ask—is my boy in danger as Sam’s friend?”
“No—not at all,” Cas said quickly. “They’ve arrested the man who did this, and they plan on making more arrests.”
“But I understand the man who did this is your brother.”
“I’m sorry any of this had to happen," Dean stepped in, "but we’ve pulled Sam out of the halfway house, and believe me—we’re gonna make sure the rest of these guys are locked up for good.”
Jack studied the both of them, carefully. “You think they’re gonna end this?”
“We do. Cas almost married a D.A., and she’s close with the prosecution.”
“And those they associate with at Rosemount...you don’t think they’re dangerous?”
“No, not at all,” Cas said, quickly. “I know I’m only a medical doctor, but I believe Max was an exception.”
Jack relaxed, slightly. “I’m sorry, again, to have to ask questions like this. Even if you resent me, I hope you won’t resent my son.”
“You kidding? Andy’s awesome,” Dean grinned. “And we know you are too. If the situations were reversed, I’d be just as nervous. You won’t lose respect with us for looking out for your family. No way in hell.”
Mr. Gallagher smiled just as Andy ventured downstairs. “Hey, can I get a cold Gatorade for Sam? And could you put these in the ‘fridge?” he held the bag out over the stairs. Dean smiled.
“Sure thing, buddy. Hang on,” he said, and carried the bag off while Andy looked down over Cas and his father, and smiled.
“You guys okay?”
Jack beamed up at his son. “We’re fine, pal. Sam hanging in?”
“He’s hanging in. And Pop...I know you love me, but I’m gonna choose my own friends, okay?”
Jack blushed. “Not if—”
“No matter what, Dad. It’s okay.” Andy grinned and accepted a Gatorade over the banister. “Look, guys—we’ve all got the same goal here, and that’s to kick this whole drug thing and, right now, take care of Sam.”
“Your Father understands that,” Cas said quickly.
“I know he does,” Andy said, smiling at his Dad. “And I know you’re looking out for me, Pop. But Sam’s my friend, and I’m not leaving him.”
“You’re my son,” Jack snapped, gripping the bottom of the banister, “and if I have to forbid you from seeing someone to keep you safe, I’ll do it.”
“But you won’t,” Andy soothed, “because you think this is just as wrong as I do.”
“It’s my job to ask.”
“And they said I’m not at risk.” He smiled. “It’s okay, Dad. Go, you’ve got a gig. Dean or Cas will give me a ride home. We’re cool, okay?”
Jack hesitated, than nodded, slowly. “You tell Sam I hope he feels better soon.”
“He knows. He was a little worried by those flowers, I’ll tell you. He was totally ready to break my heart.” Andy winked at them and bolted back up the stairs.
Cas chanced a step forward and held out his hand. “You’ve raised a wonderful son.”
Jack nodded, shaking Cas’s hand, his eyes a little damp. “He was great long before me. I was just lucky enough to find him.”
“There’s no hard feelings here,” Dean said. “We appreciate everything you’ve done for Sam. And if we think Andy would be targeted, we wouldn’t let him come near us, and we’d let you know immediately why.”
Jack slumped. “Thank you...both of you. It means the world to me that he has a friend who isn’t using or dragging him off track. Sam’s a great kid. Let me know if you want me to drive the kids to group.”
“Remember we’re taking Sam out for pizza!” Andy hollered down over the banister. Jack rolled his eyes.
“Alright, Mookie! Go deal with your responsibilities.”
Dean smiled and shut the door behind them, breathing a sigh of relief. Cas looked at him for a long moment.
“Dean...have you ever thought about adopting children?”
Dean looked back, eyes soft, expression gentle. "Of course." Cas's stomach fluttered.
"Do you think you would like to?"
“No. No way in hell.”
“Me either,” Cas gasped in relief, and clasped Dean to him like a life raft.
“Hey!” Andy shouted. “I heard that!”
"Promise me," Cas muttered.
"I solemnly swear," Dean chuckled.
Cas slid under the covers, hearing Dean’s soft voice from the down the hall. He was used to this: when difficulties happened, the Winchesters instantly stuck close to each other. Dean would probably spend the night in Sam’s room, so he could be there in the event his brother needed him in the night.
So Cas curled up in his and Dean’s bed, arms stretching towards his boyfriend’s side, hearing Dean’s low mumblings and missing him terribly. So much so, that he barely noticed when the mattress dipped and Dean’s strong arms and broad chest arrived around him and Dean’s legs curved into the back of his knees, covering and filling him with the strength and warmth and safety of Dean. The addiction Cas could never, ever, begrudge Sam.
“Christ,” Dean sighed. “Only for you and Sammy would I endure all that air time.”
Cas smiled and laid a hand over Dean’s. “M’sorry.”
“Shh. None of that. Heard enough of it out of Sam.”
“Sam didn’t do anything.”
“Neither did you. Had enough of your guilt complexes. We’re home. We’ll deal.”
“He’s fine. Fast asleep. But before he went, made me swear I’d go back to bed with you. Friggin’ pimp.”
Cas had to smile. Sam. Dean. The Winchesters. Maddening in their self-sacrifice. Impossible not to love because of it.
“I love him too, you know.”
Dean kissed the back of his head. “I know.”
“And I love you.”
“Shutup,” Cas could hear his smile as he rubbed a bit of stubble against the back of Cas’ neck. “Go to sleep.”
Cas listed back into his boyfriend’s broad chest. “Dean?”
“My Father’s gone.”
Dean combed Cas’ hair behind his ear. “I know, hon.”
“My Father’s gone.”
“C’mere,” Dean held him tighter. “S’alright now,” he whispered, kissing the soft skin beneath Cas’ ear. “You can let it go now. We’re home.”
“I...I don’t know how.”
Dean smoothed his hair off his forehead. “Do you want to tell me about him?”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“What’s your earliest memory with him?”
Cas could remember it perfectly: sitting on his father’s lap at a broad table of people, holding himself very still, because he’d been warned he’d be punished if he didn’t.
“And what’s your last?”
Cas could remember it perfectly: his father frowning across the broad table of people when he explained he’d accepted a position in a hospital hundreds of miles from home.
“And how are you like him?”
Cas was meticulous, and reserved, and fiercely defensive of his loved ones.
“And how are you not?”
Cas didn’t yell, or drink, or vanish for weeks on end.
“Do you think he accepted you?”
My family doesn’t.
“Do you think he’d have accepted me?”
My family didn’t.
“Do you think you’re doing wrong by being here?”
No. I love you, and Sam, and you, and Bobby, and you, and Ellen, and Peter, and Anna, and you, and you, and you—
Cas turned, pushed his face into his boyfriend’s neck, and cried like he couldn’t remember crying. For his mother, his brothers, his father. For Sam and Dean. For himself...even if he hated to admit it. He’d done nothing to try and salvage his relationship with his father. Nothing to endear him to his family. Gabe had left him. The family hated him. The Winchesters could very well hate him, should hate him, for the danger he’d put them in. He was tired, so damn tired, and he just wanted to not worry, to not be responsible, for once.
“Shhh,” Dean hushed, as if Cas had spoken it aloud. “I’ve got this. I’ve got you. I’ll get you through, Cas. We’ll get you through.” Warm hands moved over his back. “You know I...I love you, too.”
“I know you do,” Cas wept. “But I don’t know why.”
“Moron,” Dean said affectionately. Cas sobbed against him. “It’s gonna be okay,” Dean murmured, rubbing his back. “It hurts, I know how bad it hurts. You just hang on, babe. Hang on to me, and to Sammy, and don’t ask yourself why we’re there. Just let us be.”
Cas kissed him. Dean returned the kiss, pulling back to whisper, “I’m here, I’m here” against his mouth. Home.
He, his mechanic, and their brother. Cas and Sam and Dean. Dean, he knew, would hold him all night, and wake him with kisses in the morning, and they’d go downstairs, where Sam will have made coffee and pancakes, and Dean will fry bacon while Cas sets the table and slices fresh fruit, and he and Sam will nag Dean into eating a piece for every bit of pig he downs, and then he and Sam will go out into the garden until Dean makes them all sandwiches for lunch.
And if, while gardening, he suddenly stops, Sam will cross the yard and pull him into a hug and pretend like nothing happened after Cas dries his face on his shirt and moves on. And if, after lunch, Sam wants to take a nap, Dean will pull Cas into bed and spoon him and stroke his hair and rub his back and tell him, over and over, that everything is going to be okay.
And they’ll go out for dinner, and watch a movie on TV, and fall asleep on the couch.
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7