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[personal profile] elementalv
Title: Hosanna
Author: elementalv
Rating: R
Pairing: Dean/Castiel
Notes/Spoilers: Roughly 3,300 words, post apocalypse. Assumes the reader has watched through episode 5x21.
Summary: Castiel is at a rest stop about thirty miles west of Detroit when Dean calls to ask, “You done finding yourself yet?”

~*~*~

Castiel is at a rest stop about thirty miles west of Detroit when Dean calls to ask, “You done finding yourself yet?”

“I don’t understand,” he says. “I always know where I am.”

“Figure of speech,” Dean says, impatient as usual. “I’m asking if you’re ready to come home yet.”

“I don’t —”

“If you say you don’t have a home, I will kick your ass six ways to Sunday. Got it?”

“I —” He sighs. “Fine. Based on recent experience, it should take me approximately two weeks to hitchhike to South Dakota.”

“Fuck that shit.”

“Dean.”

“For an angel —”

“Graceless.”

“Whatever. You’re shit at paying attention.”

“What?”

“Turn around, Cas. Geez.”

He turns two-hundred forty degrees before he sees Dean standing next to the Impala, waving his phone at him and smirking. For a moment, he wonders how Dean managed to track him down, and then he thinks that Dean has to have been paying the bill on the phone he uses and believes there must be technology involved. In any event, he’s more concerned that he didn’t notice the Impala’s engine. Its distinctive sound is familiar enough that he should have been aware of it as soon as it pulled into the rest area.

Castiel sighs again. In many ways, life was simpler before the apocalypse ended.

~*~*~

They reach the outskirts of Ann Arbor before Dean asks, “Are you ever gonna tell me what got your panties in a wad after we locked up Lucy?”

Castiel doesn’t consider lying to Dean. He could do so, and do it convincingly, but it would only hold up for so long before Dean remained true to form and ferreted out the truth. Castiel had decided long ago that this tendency was one of the inconvenient realities of having Dean in his life.

“It wasn’t after, it was before,” Castiel says. He may be willing to tell the truth, but he is also willing to have Dean work for it. If nothing else, it would tell him how committed Dean is to understanding him. Castiel suspects that Dean wouldn’t see this as the most honest approach, but Dean is human and has his own moral imperatives. He is unlikely to ever understand Castiel’s.

“Whatever. Answer the question.”

Castiel chews on his thumbnail for a moment. It’s a habit he picked up after he became a vagabond. “You’ve never asked what happened to Jimmy.”

Dean tenses up, and even with the limited vision remaining to him, Castiel can see that Dean has not only absorbed the full implications of that statement, but that he has also drawn certain conclusions. He has no doubt that Dean has drawn the correct conclusions.

“Never got the chance. He — is he —”

“No. Though for all intents and purposes, he may as well be,” Castiel says. He wonders if he sounds as depressed over that as he feels or if Dean hears a flat-voiced statement, delivered simply and without sentiment. It’s been nearly a year since he drained himself, and Castiel is still trying to use the correct vocal inflections in order to fit in with human society. He’s unsure of how successful he’s been, mostly because Dean and Sam and Bobby are the only ones who know enough to tell him, and they haven’t spoken with him enough to be able to judge.

“So he’s still in there? Does — he’s not awake, is he?”

“He’s not awake, no. He’s also not asleep.” Castiel has spent the last eleven months trying to sort out the current nature of his relationship with Jimmy. He still doesn’t have an answer that satisfies him — unsurprising, considering he’s entirely uncertain of where he ends and where Jimmy begins — though he does have an answer that seems to explain things. “He’s become a part of me, much the way I’ve become a part of him.”

“So, what. Two personalities, one body?”

“Not precisely. I have his memories, but I have no emotional connection to them. I can’t. He’s not — complete — enough to provide that context.”

“So more like that kid.”

For the first time in months, Castiel is jolted out of his brooding over Jimmy’s fate. He stares at Dean for a full half mile before asking, “That kid?”

“Yeah. That kid.”

Castiel is still learning how to function as a human, but he has, by virtue of long association, come to recognize those times when Dean is “fucking” with him. He takes a deep breath and says, “I don’t know what ‘kid’ you are talking about.”

“The kid over in Asia or the Philippines. The one with his twin brother growing out of his stomach.”

Alamjan Nematilaev, Castiel thinks. And as he thinks the name, the knowledge of the situation blooms fully in his mind. The comparison is an apt one, and he tells Dean so, adding, “In our case, however, Jimmy is significantly more present than Alamjan’s undeveloped twin, even though he no longer has any real coherence as a human soul.”

“Dude! Gross!” Dean shoots him a nasty look, and Castiel is left wondering why Dean even brought it up, if he didn’t care to understand the full similarities and dissimilarities between his case and Alamjan’s.

And then he stops wondering, because this is, after all, Dean, a righteous man who writes his own rules when the existing ones don’t meet his needs or expectations. It was one of the first things he admired about Dean, and in his more introspective moments, Castiel thinks that if it hadn’t been for Dean’s habit of making his own destiny, he never would have been tempted to do the same. He’s never quite sure if this is something to be proud of or something to mourn, so he ignores both options and continues to put one foot in front of the other. So far, that philosophy has taken him along a goodly portion of America’s highway system.

~*~*~

West of Jackson, Dean exits I-94 in favor of a small diner, saying, “Food. Now.”

Castiel nods in agreement, suddenly remembering it’s been too long since he last ate. He’s gotten better at recognizing hunger, but he still has trouble occasionally when it comes to satisfying that hunger. Dean — or perhaps Bobby — keeps him in cash and credit cards, so funding isn’t an issue. Rather, it’s the process of going in, sitting down, and telling someone what he wants that’s the problem. He may no longer be a full angel, but that doesn’t mean he can discard the habit of millennia and exhibit free will at the drop of a hat. It takes a certain amount of thought and conviction to do that, and some days, it just isn’t worth the effort.

Discretion being the better part of valor, he chooses not to enlighten Dean with that tidbit of information.

Dean adds, “You look like you haven’t eaten in a week.”

“A day and a half,” Castiel answers without thinking. And then he resigns himself to a lecture from Dean on the evils of forgetting to take care of his human vessel.

The lecture never starts.

Instead, Dean shakes his head and says, “Come on. I’m sure there’s a burger with your name on it inside. And there’s probably a second one with Jimmy’s name on it, too.”

~*~*~

By the time Castiel has finished eating and they’ve left the diner, the sun is starting to set, and Dean is nodding at a small motel just up the road. “We’ll stay here the night then get moving in the morning.”

Castiel tenses up. Their conversation during the meal had been desultory, wandering from gossip about people they barely knew to a discussion of Sam’s chances for getting into Stanford Law School a second time. He’d thought that would be the extent of it, that they would continue driving on, but he clearly thought wrong.

“I could drive tonight,” he offers.

“Yeah, no,” Dean says. “Get in.”

Castiel does, reluctantly, and he wishes the Impala’s seatbelt worked so he would have something to fiddle with on the short drive to the motel. Fidgeting is another new habit he has acquired since becoming a vagabond. He likes the way fidgeting occupies time without occupying thought, and he likes the way the rhythm of it settles into his mind and body. It’s a good way to pass the time while the driver of the moment tells Castiel his life story and asks if Castiel thinks God will forgive him. Castiel isn’t sure if every hitchhiker has to pay for their ride by granting absolution, or if it’s because humans recognize he’s something other than they, but he is certain that in these cases, lying is absolutely the best way to respond. With rare exceptions, he tells them all that yes, God loves them and forgives them, and that if they continue on the path of righteousness they’re currently on, they will see Heaven. As long as they don’t understand the true nature of Heaven, they will be happy after they die, and that’s all anyone can really hope for.

They’re at the motel now, and Dean is already coming out with a key — singular — in hand, which he waves at Castiel. When he gets behind the wheel, he says, “Got an end unit, and the closest people are three rooms away.”

Castiel’s heart sinks. He doesn’t want a repeat of the last time, but Dean clearly has a plan in mind, and trying to get Dean to give up a plan is an exercise in futility. Castiel knows. He’s lost that particular argument enough times over the last three years or so that he doesn’t even bother to object, despite what happened the last time he and Dean were in a motel room together. The night had ended with Castiel packing the few belongings he’d acquired after depleting the last of his Grace — he can’t quite bring himself to call it a Falling — and leaving before sunrise. He’d left a note, but other than Dean calling periodically to check on him, Dean has never once alluded either to the note or to the circumstances leading up to its existence.

Once inside the room, Dean shoves his shaving kit at Castiel then points him toward the bathroom and says, “Shower. Now.”

Castiel takes a sniff of his armpit and thinks it doesn’t smell any worse than the truck driver who had left him at the rest stop earlier that day. Hank had been kind enough, but he’d been unable to stop crying when he started telling Castiel about his life, so after just a few miles, Castiel suggested he drop him off somewhere. Hank only reluctantly agreed after Castiel pointed out it was a safety issue. Still, if Dean was offended by Castiel’s body odor, then Castiel would do what was necessary to take care of it.

He spends a long time in the shower, cleansing himself carefully, faithfully reproducing each of the steps Bobby Singer had told him to follow, ensuring that no trace of natural body odor remains. He thinks it’s peculiar that humans have no desire to smell another person’s true odor, but then again, he thinks quite a bit of human behavior is peculiar. This obsession with cleanliness is, to Castiel’s way of thinking, no more nor less odd than the human preoccupation with sex. He once thought that both obsessions were actually manifestations of God’s sense of humor, but he’s since decided that humans are more than capable of developing oddities on their own, without intervention from on high.

Once he’s clean, Castiel steps out of the shower to find that Dean has taken all his clothing. He’s left with nothing but towels, so he uses one to dry himself and the other to cover himself. Castiel leaves the bathroom in time to see Dean return.

“Your stuff’s in the wash. Assuming it doesn’t fall apart once all the dirt is gone, you’ll have something clean to wear in the morning.”

“My clothing wasn’t that dirty,” he says.

Dean snorts. “Tell it to someone who didn’t spend the last fifty miles in an car with you.”

Castiel wonders suddenly if Hank was crying because of the life he’d led (and yes, he should have been crying) or because Castiel’s aroma was making his eyes water. After a moment, he decides it was remorse and not body odor, though he thinks body odor may have contributed to the problem. He resolves at that moment to pay more attention to his personal hygiene in the future.

“Take a load off, Cas,” Dean says, pointing at the single bed in the room.

Castiel eyes the bed and then Dean. “Why didn’t you request a double?”

“Why didn’t you tell me about Jimmy before now?”

Castiel blinks. Dean’s question is unexpected, and he isn’t quite sure how to answer it. “You never asked.”

“It didn’t occur to you that maybe I wouldn’t know to ask?”

Well. No. Granted, Jimmy Novak wasn’t a major part of the Winchesters’ life, but he should have been honored as a significant part of their life, if for no other reason than he sacrificed his own existence to be Castiel’s vessel. He tells Dean this and watches a pang of guilt briefly appear on Dean’s face.

“Look, up until you mentioned him right before we caught up to Famine, I thought he’d died when Raphael smote your ass. You never said anything about him, so we figured he was off the list of things we could talk about.”

That — that actually makes sense, considering the Winchester ethos. “Oh.” Castiel looks at the bed again and says, “Still. After the last time —”

“You mean the last time, when I thought Jimmy was still alive and kicking inside, and that the body you were using wasn’t exactly yours? That last time?”

Castiel has moved from irritation to confusion in an unexpectedly quick manner. “But — I told you that I was experiencing pain and discomfort.”

That alone should have been enough to tell Dean that Jimmy was no longer a factor. On the other hand, Dean wasn’t always that quick on the uptake, something Castiel knew almost as well as he knew the names of all the prophets. Perhaps Castiel jumped to the wrong conclusion that last night.

“You’d also told me that Jimmy survived a smiting. How the hell was I supposed to know your Fall was what did the final trick?”

“I didn’t Fall,” Castiel says automatically, though without force. Perhaps one of these days Dean will believe him, but judging from the look on his face, that day won’t be today. “You truly thought Jimmy was still viable when I —”

Embarrassment shuts him up. Dean’s rejection of his advances had hurt even more than discovering that God had decided they all — humans and angels and demons alike — had grown up enough to be on their own. Eight months later, the memory still stings, and Castiel isn’t quite sure what to do with that particular emotional pain. He’s certain that were he human, he would have shrugged it off long ago, but he’s still an angel with an angel’s long (and generally unforgiving) memory, so he worries at it and prods it, and it never has a chance to properly heal.

Dean’s face softens in light of Castiel’s conversational stumble, and he says, “I didn’t know one way or the other.”

“But you thought I was capable of having sex with you while Jimmy was still sufficiently alive to one day be able to live his life again. That is, should I ever regain the strength to depart this vessel.”

“I didn’t know,” Dean says. “And I wanted to. But things between us — Cas, that night, it was a bad time for us to talk. I figured we’d be better off talking in the morning, after we’d both had some sleep and were thinking straight. But the next day, you were —”

“Gone,” Castiel says abruptly. “I didn’t think you would want me to be around after that.”

Dean shrugs. “It was probably a good call on your part. Gave me some time to think.”

Castiel frowns. “About what?”

“This.”

Dean reaches out and touches Castiel’s left shoulder, runs his fingers down Castiel’s arm before moving a step closer. He takes Castiel’s hand in his and tugs just enough to make him take his own step forward. Dean is looking at him the same way Castiel has seen him look at attractive women, and Castiel’s heart is suddenly racing. He can’t quite breathe right, either, so he opens his mouth in the vague hope that he’ll be able to bring in more air.

It doesn’t quite work out the way he thought it might, because Dean is there, his lips touching Castiel’s, his mouth blocking the inflow of air. It’s slightly terrifying, not to be able to breathe as much as he wants to, but it’s not nearly as terrifying as realizing that he’s finally being allowed to touch Dean the way he wanted to all those months — years — ago. And not only is he allowed to touch, but Dean is actively encouraging it with small sounds at the back of his throat and aborted moves to pull Castiel’s hand toward his belt.

For a long moment, they stand there, each uncertain of the other, before Castiel pulls away from Dean’s kiss and takes a deep breath. He tugs his left and free, and before Dean can change his mind, Castiel is working to undo Dean’s belt and jeans. While he’s fumbling with those — the angle is off, and he still has to think about his fine motor skills to be able to use them — Dean is pulling off his t-shirt and pushing off his boots. They finish at roughly the same time, and when Castiel would continue to undress Dean, Dean stops him with a touch.

“You’re sure about this?”

Castiel looks at Dean, and then he Looks at Dean, the way he hasn’t since long before he lost faith in him, and he understands both the question he’s being asked and the one he isn’t. To both, he says, “Yes, Dean. I’m certain.”

And he is certain, he thinks, as Dean shoves his jeans down roughly and kicks them away before pulling the towel off Castiel’s hips. He’s been certain since the moment he pulled Dean out of the Green Room and sent him off to stop Sam, if he could. The fact of Dean’s hand wrapping itself around Castiel’s penis is simply an exclamation point to that certainty, as is the way Castiel rubs his thumb across the head of Dean’s penis.

Dean interrupts Castiel’s introspection with, “Will you, for once in your life, stop thinking so goddamn loud?”

After that, Castiel is too busy learning how to kiss, how to taste, how to move his mouth against Dean’s to think about anything beyond the next piece of skin Dean has to offer. He’s too caught up in the way Dean looks at him before taking his turn to learn how Castiel tastes to worry about what this physical intimacy might mean for the future. He’s entirely lost to sensation by the time Dean worries his way down Castiel’s chest and belly to think of anything other than chasing a pleasure that’s becoming more practical than theoretical. By the time, Dean takes his first tentative taste of Castiel’s penis, Castiel has nothing in his head but Dean, Dean, Dean.

~*~*~

Later, after they’ve taken their fill of one another and are lying close and sated, Castiel thinks that he may well have written a new hosanna just then. It won’t be one that other angels will ever sing — he’ll see to that, even if he has to make a deal with Crowley to enforce it — but it’s one that he’ll sing happily for the next fifty years or so.

August 2011

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