fandomcorner: (Writing by me)
[personal profile] fandomcorner
Title: Locks of Love
Author: [livejournal.com profile] hils
Artist: [livejournal.com profile] evian_fork
Genre: Drama/Romance/Humour
Characters, Pairing(s): Sam/Castiel
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 11,500
Warnings: Consent issues (nothing stronger than touching and attempted kisses), near miss wincest
A/N: Written for [livejournal.com profile] sassy_minibang. Many thanks to my artist who stepped in as a pinch hitter and thanks to [livejournal.com profile] perfumaniac for the beta work ♥

Summary: Sam is cursed with hair so awesome that anyone who looks upon it cannot resist him. Unfortunately this includes his brother, forcing Sam to go into hiding while Dean figures out a way to break the curse. Alone, and not even able to venture outside Sam's only company is Castiel who is immune to the curse.





Art link: Art Masterlist
Podfic: Locks of Love read by [livejournal.com profile] eosrose
Fic link:

The bar was quiet, which suited Sam just fine. He really wasn’t in the mood for the loud raucous sort of place that Dean usually preferred. He just wanted to sit in the corner and have a couple of drinks while Dean discussed (argued) with Cas about what their next move should be.

There were a couple of guys with guitars on the other side of the room, crooning about loves that had been lost. The sound wasn’t particularly intrusive but it did little to lighten his mood.

Things were fucked up even by Winchester standards. He was being hunted by the devil and his brother was being hunted by an archangel. If either of them was caught and gave in, it was the end of the world.

They were both aware that running was pointless. With the amount of power at their disposal Lucifer and Michael could do whatever they wanted. The carvings Cas had put on their ribs offered a small amount of protection but they were all aware that it was only a matter of time before their luck ran out.

“Excuse me,” Sam’s head shot up from the beer he was staring at to find a girl hovering next to his table. “I don’t do this very often but you look really sad and I was wondering if you wanted some company.”

As far as pickup lines went he’d heard worse, but she had a kind smile.

“I won’t try anything, I swear,” she grinned holding her hands up in mock surrender. “You just look like you need someone to talk to.”

Sam shrugged but gestured at the empty seat.

“I’m Vanessa,” the girl said as she sat down.

“Sam,” Sam replied.

“So what’s got you looking like you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders, Sam?”

Obviously he couldn’t tell her the truth, the memories of what had happened to Lindsey still haunted him. So he did what he did best and he lied.

“It’s nothing really. Just been on the road for a long time and I’m tired.”

Vanessa flashed him a sympathetic smile. “You travel a lot? For work?”

“Yeah,” Sam replied. “it’s just me and my brother. It’s tough but, you know, we deal.”

“Must be lonely,” Vanessa mused.

Sam shrugged. “I don’t really have time to think about it.”

He sure as hell wasn’t going to mention that the people he hooked up with had a tendency to die.

“Well, that’s just sad!” Vanessa replied as she finished off her drink and rose to her feet. “For that I’m going to buy you a beer.”

Sam shifted uncomfortably in his seat. This was so much more Dean’s thing than his. “Look, Vanessa, you seem like a really nice girl and everything but I’m really not looking for anything tonight. I just want to have a couple of drinks while my brother works out where we’re heading next and then I’m taking off.”

“It’s okay,” Vanessa shrugged. “You’re not exactly my type anyway.”

She gestured to the tall redhead serving drinks behind the bar. “She’s more my type.”

“Oh, right. Sorry. Wow, that was really presumptuous of me.” Sam blushed.

Vanessa grinned. “You going to let me buy you that beer now?”

“Sure, thanks.”

* * *

By the end of the evening Sam felt warm and comfortable and was laughing at a story Vanessa was telling about her boss.

“That’s a good look for you,” Vanessa said when she was finished. “You should smile more often.”

Sam got to his feet. “I don’t have reason to very often. But thanks for tonight. I actually had fun.”

Vanessa got up with him and moved around the table to press a kiss to his cheek. “You never know, Sam. Maybe your luck will change soon. Now, I’m sure you need to get back to your brother and I’m going to go and see what time Cathy gets off.”

“Good luck.”

Sam pulled his jacket on and headed out into the night and back to their motel

* * *

“Did you change your shampoo?” Dean asked when Sam rolled out of bed the next morning.

“No,” Sam grunted as he padded into the bathroom. “And even if I did you know I get the good stuff. You can’t have any.”

“Yeah, like I want your girly shiny hair anyway.”

Whatever else Dean was grumbling about was lost under the sound of the water as Sam stepped under the stream of the shower. This was his favorite part of the day. Just him and the hot water pounding down on his body. For a few minutes he could just stand there and forget about the mess that was their lives. Pretend that there was no apocalypse, that he hadn’t set Lucifer free and that the Devil didn’t want to use his body as prom dress. For a moment he was just Sam Winchester. He was just a man.

It didn’t last long.

He almost slipped in the tub when Dean pounded on the door. “Come on, Sammy. I’m starving. You don’t need to make yourself look pretty for me.”

Sam sighed and shut off the water, toweling his hair dry before wrapping the towel around his waist and heading out of the bathroom to grab some clean clothes.

“Anyone would think it’d been weeks since you ate instead of a few hours,” he muttered as he rummaged through his duffle looking for a clean shirt.

This was usually the point where Dean made some comment about hunting being hungry work and when nothing came Sam glanced up. Dean was staring at him, mouth slightly open and a flush to his cheeks that made Sam wonder whether his brother was sick.

“What?”

“Are you sure you haven’t done something different to your hair?” Dean asked, his voice more of a rough croak than anything. Sam made a mental note to pick up some vitamin C pills while they were out since it sounded like Dean was coming down with a cold.

“Dude, what is with all the comments about my hair? I haven’t cut it, changed shampoo, highlighted it or anything else.”

Dean crossed the room, almost cautiously so that he was standing in front of Sam. He reached up and brushed a tendril of hair away from Sam’s face.

“It looks good.”

Sam snorted. “Whatever, dude. How about you get out of my personal space so I can get dressed and we can get some breakfast.”

Dean’s hand dropped back to his side and his sighed. “Breakfast. Right. I think I’ll wait in the car while you. . . you know.”

Before Sam could ask him what the hell he was talking about Dean grabbed his jacket and all but ran out of their motel room. Okay, something weird was definitely going on. He got dressed quickly and headed out to join Dean in the car.

“Are you okay?” he asked as Dean started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Why?”

Sam shrugged. “You’re acting kind of weird. Well, weirder anyway.”

“I’m just hungry.”

Sam let it go.

He probably shouldn’t have.

* * *

The waitress in the diner was cute and started flirting with Sam as soon as she seated them. Usually this would be Dean’s cue to start nudging Sam under the table and insisting he get her number with the check but instead he sat there and glared at Suzie whenever she came within ten feet of them.

“Jealous?” Sam teased when Suzie left to get them some more coffee.

Dean actually growled. “You’re my brother. She should keep her hands to herself.”

Sam blinked in surprise. “Okay, what the hell? When did you come over all Neanderthal Man?”

“Can we just get out of here?” Dean sighed and Sam’s arms widened in alarm when he noticed Dean toying with one of the knives on the table.

“Yeah, sure Dean, we can go.”

He hurriedly threw some bills down on the table and dragged his brother out of the diner, making sure he left the knife behind.

On the way back to the car a young man stopped them and flashed Sam a shy smile. “I don’t normally do this but here’s my number. I was wondering if I could take you out some time.”

Dean punched him in the face before Sam could even reply.

“Dude, seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?”

He bundled Dean into the passenger side of the car and drove off before anyone could call the cops.

Shit.

* * *

Sam shoved Dean through the door to their motel room and locked it behind them.

“Okay, Dean. Sit down and tell me what the hell is going on. You just punched a dude in the face. For no reason.”

Dean didn’t sit down. He stood in the middle of the room, eyes glazed and cheeks flushed with his breath coming in pants as he stared at his brother.

“Dean?”

“I couldn’t help it,” Dean said softly. “I mean I knew what I was doing but the way he was looking at you I just lost it.”

Sam shook his head. “I don’t get it. It’s never bothered you before when people hit on me. Hell, half the time you encourage it.”

“I know.”

Dean straightened and moved over to Sam, a tentative smile on his face as he laid a hand on Sam’s shoulder. “You’re my brother.”

Sam relaxed. “I know, man, but you don’t need to go all Captain Caveman whenever someone looks at me, okay?”

“Okay.” Dean’s hand snaked up Sam’s neck, his fingers carding through Sam’s hair as he drew his brother into a hug. “You’re mine, okay? Nobody elses.”

Sam tensed when Dean buried his face in the crook of Sam’s neck and actually sniffed him.

“Dean, what are you doing?”

“I love you, Sammy. And I know you love me.”

Alarm bells were ringing in Sam’s head now but with his back pressed against the door and his bother pressed against him there was nowhere for him to escape to.

“Of course I love you, Dean.”

“I knew it.”

Sam reacted on instinct as soon as he felt Dean’s hands slide under his shirt and start stroking his chest. He shoved Dean away and started fumbling in his pocket for the key to their room. Why the hell had he locked it in the first place?

Dean lunged again, and to Sam’s horror he realized his brother was trying to kiss him.

“Dean, stop, what are you doing?”

“I know you want me, Sammy, I can feel it. No one else has what we have.”

Sam shoved him again, harder this time and it was enough to send Dean sprawling onto his ass. Sam didn’t wait to see what would happen next. He ran, and he kept running.

He was halfway across town before he realized Dean wasn’t following him. And five minutes after that he realized just how badly screwed he was.

* * *

“You know you really are the most attractive man I’ve ever seen.”

“Hands off! I saw him first.”

“Listen, lady, he obviously prefers dick so back off.”

“His hair is just so shiny. . .”

Within five minutes of stopping Sam found himself surrounded, everyone with the same flushed feature and glazed eyes that Dean had sported. They grabbed and pawed at him, one particularly eager woman managing to yank his jacket off him before he managed to get away.

He ran again, never more glad that he worked out regularly. It was obvious the town was cursed, or he was cursed. He wasn’t sure which yet. He really needed to be able to sit down and try to figure it out. Going back to the motel room was out as he had no desire to get molested by his brother again. It was traumatizing enough the first time.

There was only one place he could go where he would be safe. For now.

Halfway there a young woman burst into tears and reached for him. “Your hair is so beautiful. Please, I just want to stroke it.”

He ignored her and pressed on, slowing down to a jog when his sanctuary was in sight. It was only once he was inside the Impala and all the doors were locked that he finally allowed himself to relax.

Five minutes later his cellphone rang.

“Dean?”

“Sammy! You okay?”

Sam frowned at the sound of Dean’s frantic voice. “Yeah, no thanks to you.”

“Dude, I don’t even know what to say. I don’t know what came over me. It’s like I couldn’t stop myself. Jesus, Sam, I tried to. . . I think I’m gonna throw up.”

Sam drew a shaky breath. Dean sounded sincere enough, and the weird behavior of everyone else in the town meant it clearly wasn’t just his brother.

“Look, Dean, it’s not just you, okay? The entire town seems to be going nuts, and getting pretty handsy with me too. I have no idea what’s going on but I’ll figure it out, okay?”

He could hear Dean swallow on the other end of the line. Knowing his brother he was probably at the whiskey.

“You can come back to the motel,” Dean said softly. “Only if you want to. I totally get it if you don’t want to be around me, but I think I’m okay now. As soon as you left all those. . . feelings stopped.”

Sam glanced out of the rear window of the car. He could see their motel room from here. It’d be easy for him to run if he needed to. God, he really hoped he didn’t need to.

“Okay.”

He got out of the car and headed across the parking lot, hesitating for a moment before opening the door and heading into their room. Dean was sat at the table and, as Sam had suspected, he was the better was through a bottle of Jack.

“I don’t know how you can even stand to be in the same room as me after what I did,” Dean said softly before taking another healthy chug from the bottle.

“I already told you, Dean, it’s not you. Something is making everyone act crazy and we need to figure out what it is.”

Dean nodded and shifted in his seat. “So, what, you think the town is cursed?”

“Maybe. Or maybe it’s me. I don’t know.”

Sam sighed and flopped down in the chair opposite Dean. “You ever hear about anything like this happening before? Because I seriously have no idea what’s going on and—“

“Sammy?”

Dean’s voice was so small and quiet that Sam barely heard him.

“Yeah, Dean, what is it?”

“You need to get out of here. Now.”

“What?”

Sam flinched when Dean kicked back his chair and moved to the far side of the room, his back pressed to the wall and his eyes wide with fear. Fear and something else, something Sam had seen before. Oh no.

“Sam, I mean it. Take the car and get as far away from me as you can. Whatever this thing is it’s back and I don’t know how long I can hold myself back.”

“Dean. . .”

“GO!” Dean roared. “I won’t touch you like that again, Sam. Get out of here.”

The look of sheer desperation on Dean’s face drove Sam into action. He grabbed the keys and ran, diving back into the car and locking all the doors before pulling out of the parking lot. He had no idea where he was going but he was starting to realize that whatever it was it was linked to him somehow.

* * *

He was two towns over when he stopped to figure out his next move. Unfortunately as soon as he got out of the car to get some fresh air a woman in her sixties all but threw herself at him. That was when he realized that whatever this thing was it had nothing to do with the town he’d just left and everything to do with him.

He pulled out his phone and called Dean.

“Whatever this is it’s me, Dean,” he said before he brother could even say hello. “I’m two towns over and someone’s grandma just tried to jump my bones. I have no idea what to do, but I need you. Help me, Dean.”

For a moment there was nothing but silence at the other end of the phone and then Dean sighed. “Okay, Sammy, we’ll figure this out. But for now you need to get away from people, okay.”

Sam nodded. “I was thinking the same thing. One of Dad’s old hunting huts is in the woods about a hundred miles from here. I was thinking I could go there. Can you bring me some supplies? Food and stuff?”

“Sam, you know I can’t.”

“You have to! Look, I think it’ll be okay so long as we stay in separate rooms. Whatever this thing is it only seems to affect people when they can see me. I mean you’re not feeling anything now, right?”

“No,” Dean agreed.

“And I can’t go a store unless I want to get molested by the cashier, which I don’t. So I figure if I hide out in the bedroom or something while you drop off the food and things that’ll be okay. Plus, you need your car back, dude. I know better than to keep your baby from you.”

The joke fell flat and that’s when Sam realized how serious Dean was taking this.

“It’ll be okay, Dean. We’ll figure this out.”

He almost sounded convincing.

“Yeah, of course we will.”

Dean almost sounded convinced.

* * *

Sam spent an hour or so cleaning up the hut that he was going to call home until they figured out how to break the curse, and he retreated into the bedroom when he heard a car pull up outside.

“Sam?” Dean’s voice was hesitant and Sam could picture his brother peeking his head nervously around the door. “You out of sight?”

“Yeah,” Sam called back. “You’re good. You’re not feeling anything are you? Anything curse-like I mean?”

“No,” Dean replied. “I guess you were right about the sight thing.”

Sam could hear his brother moving around in the other room, filling the cupboards with food and he really hoped there was going to be some beer in the fridge. If he was going to be stuck in here for who knew how long then beer was definitely going to be needed.

“So, you have any thoughts about what might have caused this?”

Dean’s voice was louder now. He must be standing just on the other side of the door.

Sam nodded his head even though he knew his brother couldn’t see him, and then he braced himself because he knew what he was about to say was not going to go down well.

“I think it was a witch.”

“SON OF A BITCH! I HATE WITCHES!”

The sound of Dean’s angry yelling was punctuated by the unmistakable sound of Dean’s fist connecting repeatedly with the door.

Well, at least he was taking it well.

* * *

Sam quickly fell into a routine living alone in the middle of nowhere. Dean checked in by phone every day to let him know what the progress was. Mostly there was no progress at all but Dean assured Sam that he had every hunter they knew looking into it and that he’d prayed to Castiel too and was waiting to hear from the angel.

So every morning Sam got up, worked out by doing crunches and push-ups in the bedroom, showered and then researched. Unsurprisingly there wasn’t much in the way of an internet connection in the woods so Sam had to make do with the books that Dean dropped off every few days when he did a supplies run.

They always had a beer together but it wasn’t exactly the same when there was a wooden wall between them.

Days turned into weeks and Sam was starting to consider the possibility that he was going to have to spend the rest of his life alone in this hut. If Dean and the others couldn’t find a way to find the witch or break the curse it was a very real possibility, and one that Sam was avoiding thinking about wherever possible because it was too depressing to contemplate.

“Hello, Sam.”

Sam was pouring over the latest chronicles that Dean had dropped off and was so deep into his reading that the voice caused him to yelp and fall backwards off his chair. He righted himself almost immediately, his reflexes kicking in as he sprung back to his feet.

Castiel was standing on the other side of the table, looking at him curiously as Sam dusted himself off and tried to pretend that he hadn’t been caught off-guard like that.

It took a moment for Sam to realize that Castiel was actually here and then his eyes widened.

“Cas, you need to get out of here. Didn’t Dean tell you? I’m cursed. Any minute now you’re going to. . . wait, why aren’t you trying to molest me?”

The smallest hint of a smile curled on Castiel’s lips as he moved around the table to stand in front of Sam.

“I’m still an angel of the lord, Sam. A curse of this nature is not powerful enough to affect me.”

Sam’s heart soared. “So you can fix it? Fix me?”

Castiel looked at him again for a moment, studying him so intently that Sam felt like a bug under a microscope. Then Castiel’s fingers were in his hair, massaging his scalp in a way that should not have felt good. Castiel’s face didn’t change as he ran his fingers through the length of Sam’s hair and finally plucked out one strand.

“I believe this is the source of the curse.”

Sam blinked at him. “My hair?”

“I’m still not sure what has been done but it’s this that’s causing people to react in this way.”

Sam stared at Castiel for a moment, waiting for the punchline. He’d encountered a lot of weird stuff during his life but cursed hair? That was definitely over the top. On the other hand if Cas was right then maybe there was an easy fix for this.

He ran into the bathroom and grabbed the scissors from the first aid kit. One cautious snip of his hair gave way to a frenzied attack as he hacked at it in huge clumps, barely noticing when occasionally he caught his scalp.

By the time he was finished he looked insane. His head was bleeding in several places and there were still some small bits of hair remaining in the mess. It should be enough, though. It had to be.

He went back into the main room with a triumphant smile. “There, fixed.”

Castiel shook his head sadly.

“What? You said my hair was cursed and now it’s gone.”

He reached up to tap his head to prove the point and the color drained from his face. Instead of coming into contact with a bald, sticky mess his fingers met a full head of hair. He ran back into the bathroom and even though the floor was still covered in the hair he’d hacked off, his reflection showed him looking no different than when he’d started. Even the cuts on his head were gone.

“I’m sorry, Sam,” Castiel said gently from the doorway, “but the only way to stop this is to find the witch and break the curse.”

Sam was ready to cry (or break furniture whatever you like)“So find her,” he pleaded. “You’re powerful, Cas. You can do it, right?”

“I shall do whatever I can,” Castiel promised.

That would have to be enough.

* * *

The next time Dean was due to make a supply run he didn’t show up, and sent Cas in his place.

“Your brother thought you might prefer some face to face contact,” Castiel explained as he set down the duffle that Dean had packed for him. “He is currently investigation established covens in the area where you were cursed, but it’s also possible this witch was working alone.”

Sam sighed and closed the latest book he’d been poring over. It, like all the others, had plenty about love spells but nothing that dealt with anything on this level and definitely nothing about cursed hair.

“I’m going to be stuck here forever, aren’t I?” Sam asked as Castiel started to unload the bag.

“Your brother is very persistent,” Castiel replied. “He will not allow that to happen, and neither will I.”

Sam watched as Castiel started putting the food away, not asking where anything belonged but seeming to know anyway. Must be some sort of angel mojo thing.

“Do you have to leave right away?” Sam asked when Castiel was done. He knew he should be encouraging the angel to continue the search for the witch but it had been so long since he’d had a proper conversation with someone that he was half-convinced he’d forgotten how.

“I can stay as long as you like, Sam. I promised Dean I would keep you company today.”

Yeah, that was Dean, always looking after his little brother even when he couldn’t be in the same room as him.

“Do you want a beer or anything?” Sam asked, “Something to eat? I could cook.”

Castiel shook his head. “I don’t require food, but thank you.”

“Do you at least want to sit down? Take off your coat? You look like you’re getting ready to leave.”

Castiel did as he was asked, removing the ever present trench coat and draping it over the arm of the chair before sitting down. It was kind of weird seeing him out of it,. He looked younger and more vulnerable.

“Sam?” Castiel asked hesitantly. “I, uh, I’m not really sure what keeping someone company entails. Is there something I should be doing?”

He looked so earnest and sincere that Sam had to bite back the urge to laugh. “No, this is good. But if you want to talk about something, you can.”

“What do you want me to talk about?”

Sam shrugged. “Honestly, anything you want. Just take my mind off this whole curse thing for a while.”

Castiel thought for a moment, his brow creased in concentration as he seemingly tried to think of a suitable topic of conversation. “Did Dean ever tell you about the time he took me to a den of iniquity?”

Sam almost choked on his beer.

* * *

The next time Castiel appeared in the room, a few days later, Sam barely looked up from the book he was poring over. He wasn’t really reading it so much as just staring at the page, but it was something to focus on, or at least pretend to focus on.

“Sam,” Castiel greeted as he started loading the cupboards with food. “Are you well?”

“No, Cas, I’m not ‘well’. I’m cooped up in here with nothing but a load of totally useless books none of while have even come close to helping me. I’m tired and pissed off and sick of this stupid damn curse.”

He threw the book across the room and took a small amount of satisfaction when it hit the far wall with a bang and fell to the floor.

Castiel watched him silently for a moment and then extended his hand. “Come with me.”

“What?”

“I thought we might take a walk.”

Sam stared at him for a moment in total incomprehension. “Have you forgotten about the whole not being able to go outside thing?”

“I have not forgotten. But there are no people here, Sam. It should be safe for you to venture outside.”

Sam laughed, low and bitter as he rose to his feet. “Man, Dean didn’t tell you did he?”

“Tell me what?”

Sam moved over to the door and braced himself before opening it and stepping outside. Castiel followed him closely, watching curiously as Sam stepped a few feet away from the house and waited.

It didn’t happen right away, it never did, but after a few minutes the bugs started to swarm around him. Not long after that a bird settled on his head and started cooing softly. Finally a squirrel ran up his body and started nuzzling his face.

“Snow White never had to deal with this problem with her woodland friends,” Sam pointed out. “But you get why I can’t go for a walk with you, no matter how much I would like that.”

Castiel nodded. “I understand. I’m sorry, Sam. I had no idea the curse was this powerful.”

Sam managed to dislodge his few ‘friends’ and dashed back into the house before they could follow him. Of course as soon as he was out of sighed they wandered away as though nothing had happened.

* * *

“I brought you a gift.”

Sam idly notes that Dean really needs to teach Castiel the purpose of a greeting such as ‘hello’, but brushes it aside when Castiel sets a pile of books down on the table. None of them are research books, and Sam notes with awe that the book on the top of the pile is an original print copy of Utopia.

“Cas, where did you. . . how did you get this?”

“I called in a favour,” Castiel replied simply. “I noticed that you have nothing recreational to do here so I thought I’d bring you something to read when you need a break from research.”

It’s easily the most thoughtful gift anyone had ever got for him. Under normal circumstances he’d offer a hug, but this is Castiel and Sam very much doubted he was the hugging type. So he just smiled and said thank you.

“I want you to be happy, Sam,” Castiel replied as he turned his attention back to the bag of food he needed to unload. “I understand how difficult this situation is for you and I want to make it as bearable as I can.”

Sam felt sudden tears prick in his eyes and blinked them away.

“Will you stay and have a drink with me?” he asked when he spotted the bottle of Jack that his awesome brother had packed with this delivery. “I know alcohol doesn’t affect you but it’ll make me feel better if I’m not drinking alone.”

“Of course,” Castiel replied and pulled two glasses out of one of the cupboards.

* * *

“You know what, Cas,” Sam slurred later that evening. “You’re pretty damn amazing, you know. I hope Dean tells you that.”

He could just about make out Castiel’s face through the better part of the bottle of Jack they’ve worked through, and the angel was looking at him curiously.

“Dean has told me no such thing,” Castiel replied. “Why would he?”

“Because. . . you know. . . you’re his special friend. I wish I had a special angel friend but I’m not allowed. ‘m tainted.”

Castiel stared at Sam for a moment, his head tilted in that way that Sam knew meant he was trying to figure out something strange and human. He probably never had to deal with a drunk human before.

“Sam,” Castiel finally said. “I understand that you think very little of yourself, but I do consider you my friend. I would do anything to keep you safe.”

Sam nodded. “Yeah, because you love Dean and you don’t want him to be sad.”

There was that quizzical look again. Sam idly wondered if anyone had ever told Castiel it made him look like a curious kitten with those big blue eyes. Pretty blue eyes. He shook his head. When he started thinking of Castiel in terms of how pretty he was it was definitely time to lay off the booze.

“I think I need to go to bed,” he groaned as he lurched to his feet and moaned when the whole world shifted. Oh, he was going to feel this one in the morning if the spinning room and the fact that Castiel’s face was now out of focus was anything to go by.

“Do you require some assistance?” Castiel asked and Sam shook his head, making an unhappy sound when the movement caused his stomach to churn.

He made it across the room without falling flat on his face, which he considered a small victory until he stumbled into the wall instead of through the door to his bedroom.

The next thing he knew Castiel had an arm around him and was guiding him to the bed. Considering Castiel told both him and Dean time and time again that he knew very little about humans, he seemed to know exactly how to make Sam comfortable. He pulled back the covers and got Sam settled before removing his boots and jeans so he was left clad only in a t-shirt and his boxers. Out of all the supernatural things they’d encountered over the years, being tucked into bed by an angel of the lord was definitely the weirdest thing Sam had ever experienced.

“Thanks Cas,” he murmured when Castiel had finished his ministrations. “Dean’s lucky to have you.”

“You have me too, Sam. Always.”

The last thing he felt was Castiel’s fingers on his brow and then blissful oblivion.

* * *

He was surprised when he woke up the next morning without even a trace of a hangover. The kitchen was clean and tidy with all evidence of his drinking binge gone. Cas really was awesome and Sam decided that next time he visited he’d have to say thank you somehow. Not that he really had much in the way of resources in a cabin in the middle of a forest but he’d think of something. Maybe Dean would have some ideas.

“You could get him laid.”

Sam stared at his phone for a moment because surely, not even Dean would be that crass. Surely.

“What did you say?”

“Get him laid,” Dean repeated. “The dude’s like a million years old and he’s never had sex. He even managed to talk a hooker out of popping his cherry.”

“Yeah,” Sam sighed, “he told me about that. Look, do you have any sensible suggestions?”

“How about you stop worrying about making Cas happy and let me work on hunting down this witch so you can rejoin society. Just, I dunno, read him a story or something. He needs to lighten up.”

That was it. It was almost as though one of those cartoon lightbulbs had appeared over Sam’s head.

“Okay, got it. Good luck with the witch hunt.”

He hung up before Dean could say anything in reply. He only had a couple of days before Castiel was due for his next visit and he needed to start work right away. He just had to hope Cas liked the gift.

* * *

He hated to admit it but he was actually nervous. He’d never done anything like this before, and certainly not with an angel. He’d spent the last two days working on Castiel’s gift and now Cas was due to arrive at any minute. He paced the small room while he waited, picked up the gift and then put it down again. Should he give it to Cas as soon as he arrived or should he wait until they’d settled down for the day?

“Hello, Sam.”

He jumped and almost stumbled into a chair that was just behind him. Way to be smooth.

“Cas, hey, how are you?”

Castiel was doing the staring thing again and Sam was beginning to understand how Dean must feel.

“I am well,” Castiel finally replied. “You seem in better spirits than when I was last here.”

Sam raked his fingers through his hair and let out a nervous breath. “Yeah, about that. Thanks for taking care of me that night, Cas. I was a mess and you shouldn’t have had to deal with that. I know you’ve got a lot going on and I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than take care of me.”

Castiel continued putting the supplies in the cupboards like he did every time he arrived. “It was no trouble, Sam. I know this is a difficult time for you and I know that humans turn to alcohol to relieve their distress.”

That kind of lead Sam right where he needed to be.

“I hope you don’t think this is weird, but I’ve got something for you. Consider it a thank you gift for doing all of this for me.”

He picked the gift off the tape and presented it to Castiel. He didn’t have anything to wrap it in but he figured the paper’s purpose would be lost on Cas anyway.

Castiel looked at the item in Sam’s hand for a moment as though he wasn’t really sure what to make of it. Then he took the book from him and opened it, reading aloud what Sam had written on the first page.

“1.Always say ‘hello’ when you see someone for the first time and ‘goodbye’ before you leave.
2. Don’t stare at people or things for long periods of time.
3. Personal space can be measured by an arm’s reach of someone.”

Sam’s cheeks flushed. It sounded stupid hearing it being read aloud like that.

“I know it’s probably dumb, but you’re always saying that you don’t get people and how they interact so I wrote down everything I could think of that you might need to know. I’m sure I’ve missed loads of stuff but it’s a starting point.”

Castiel closed the book carefully and brushed his fingers over the cover almost in reverence. “Thank you, Sam. This is a very kind and thoughtful gift.”

Sam smiled. “You’re welcome.”

And for the first time since getting cursed he kind of felt good about himself.

* * *

“Hello, Sam. How are you today?”

It was obvious that Cas had read the book Sam had given him, probably more than once, as there was a noticeable change in their conversations. Rather than just talking about how the hunt for the witch was going or how the search for God was going Castiel had started asking questions about Sam, how he was feeling and if there was anything else he needed. In short he was trying to be more human.

“I’m doing okay,” Sam said as they sat down for what had now become a traditional post-unpacking drink. After the incident with the whisky Sam had switched to green tea. He’d learned the hard way that partaking in any sort of caffeinated drink while being cooped up in a small house was a bad idea. “I just miss my brother, and fresh air.”

Castiel nodded. “Dean thinks he may have a lead. He’s on his way to investigate as we speak.”

Sam wasn’t going to hold his breath. There had been dozens of leads since he’d been cursed and none of them had played out.

So instead he just nodded and sipped his tea.

“I may be able to assist you with your inability to go outside though. I have been giving it some thought since you demonstrated what happens.”

Now that piqued Sam’s interest. He would give anything to be able to go outside, even if it was just for a few minutes.

“Would you be willing to partake in an experiment?”

Sam nodded. “Of course. I trust you, Cas.”

“Come with me then.”

He moved over to the front door and Sam quickly followed, eager to see what was going to happen.

“You need to stand close to me,” Castiel instructed. “Place you arm around my waist.”

Sam did as he was asked, moving so that he was side by side with Castiel, their bodies almost touching as he wrapped an arm around the angel’s waist.

Castiel nodded and closed his eyes in concentration. “When I give the word, open the door and the two of us will then step outside together.”

Sam stood and waited, the only sound in the room was Castiel’s breathing. He had no idea what the angel was doing but he looked to be deep in concentration so he remained quiet and waited.

“Okay,” Castiel said softly. “Open the door.”

Sam did so hesitantly and keeping in step with Castiel the two of them made their way outside. Sam tensed, waiting for the onslaught of animals and insects but after a moment he realized nothing was happening.

He glanced at Castiel. The angel had his eyes open now but his mouth was pressed into a tight line. He almost looked as though he was in pain.

“What did you do?” Sam whispered.

“I am shielding you with my wings,” Castiel replied. “I have extended my grace to surround you and it’s keeping the curse at bay. I cannot maintain it for long periods but we can take a short walk if you’d like.”

Sam wanted nothing more than to take a walk but he hesitated, seeing the pained look on Castiel’s face made him pause.

“This is hurting you.”

Castiel shook his head. “No. I’m simply not used to doing this and grace is not as strong as it once was. It’s a minor discomfort, nothing more and I will get used to it soon. Please, Sam. I want you to enjoy this. Walk with me.”

Sam didn’t really get the chance to argue. Castiel was already steering them into the woods and he had no choice but to follow. If he let go he’d get swarmed.

“Just promise to tell me if it gets too much,” he said as they walked.

“I promise,” Castiel replied with a nod.

They walked in silence as Sam didn’t want to break Castiel’s concentration. It was kind of nice though. He could hear the birds without fearing they were doing to divebomb him and make a nest in his hair. The insects buzzed around him but didn’t get too close, and the wind on his face felt so good he didn’t even have the words for it.

He had no idea where they were going but he trusted Castiel to steer them in the right direction and not get them lost.

They kept going until they came to a stream that cut through the middle of the woods. The sound of the water gurgling across the rock making Sam smile and bringing him a sense of peace that he hadn’t felt since way before being cursed.

“I thought we might sit a while,” Castiel suggested, guiding Sam over to a small grassy overhang. They sank down together and after a few minutes Sam pulled off his boots and socks and dangled his feet in the water.

“You should try this,” he suggested when Castiel looked at him in confusion. “It feels nice.”

Castiel had the same look on his face that he’d worn when Dean had tried to convince him to try apple pie for the first time. But, to his credit, he pulled off his shoes and socks and dangled his feet in the water next to Sam. It was strange, seeing Castiel’s pale bare feet and calves. It made him look smaller somehow and more human.

“I kind of imagine Heaven to be like this,” Sam said after a moment. “Somewhere quiet and peaceful with a river. I know a lot of people imagine Heaven as a garden but I think it’d be something less cultivated and more natural.”

“Heaven is whatever you want it to be,” Castiel replied. “It’s made up of your own, personal most treasured memories. If this is one of them, then so shall it be in Heaven.”

It felt kind of strange discussing Heaven with an angel who had been there and knew exactly what it was like. But he smiled and tipped his head back to allow the sun to warm his face.

“Will you visit us?” He asked after a moment. “Me and Dean, after we die. Will you come and visit us in Heaven sometimes.”

Castiel nodded. “Of course. You’re as much as part of my best memories as I am of this one.”

Right then, even though he knew it was insane he wanted nothing more than to kiss Castiel for making all of this possible. For doing so much when really he had no need.

He turned his head to face Castiel and froze, eyes wide.

“Cas, you’re bleeding.”

Castiel glanced down at his body which only caused the small trickle of blood that was coming from his nose to drip onto his shirt. When he realized the source he dabbed his fingers to his nose and stared at the redness curiously.

“I appear to have overextended myself.”

Sam scrambled for his boots and socks, which was kind of difficult when he had to keep one arm around Castiel’s waist the whole time.

“You promised to tell me if it was getting too much,” he grumbled as he tugged his boots back on and tucked the laces in rather than attempting to tie them with one hand.

Cas just spared a glace to his shoes and socks and they were back on his feet as though they’d never been removed. “I wasn’t aware of it until now.”

“Well, come on, let’s get back to the house.”

The stumbled back the way they had come. Sam coping with this discomfort of loose shoes and Cas seemingly getting weaker by the moment. By the time they made it back Castiel was trembling with exertion and there was a sheen of sweat bathing his face. Sam was sporting a couple of rather painful blisters that he’d have to deal with later.

As soon as the door was closed behind them Sam let go of Castiel so he didn’t have to use up and more of his grace. Castiel immediately slumped against the wall and took a shaky breath while Sam kicked off his shoes.

“You’re so stupid, Cas,” Sam said when finally got a good look at Castiel’s pale face. “You need to take better care of yourself. I’m not worth you risking your life.”

Castiel attempted what Sam figured was supposed to be a smile but it looked more like a twisted grimace. He pushed himself away from the wall and stumbled over to where Sam was standing.

“I’m fine.”

Then his eyes rolled back and he collapsed into Sam’s arms.

“Cas! Castiel! Wake up!”

Cas was well and truly out for the count.

Sam patted Castiel’s cheek and didn’t get as much as a twitch out of him. He seemed to be mostly okay. He was pale and clammy but breathing and the trickle of blood from his nose had pretty much stopped. It looked like he’d just exhausted himself.

Sam scooped Castiel up and carried him through to the bedroom, carefully depositing him on the bed. He could have just left him like that, but decided that after all Castiel had done for him the least he could do was make the angel comfortable while he rested.

His hands hovered over Castiel’s shoes. Undressing an unconscious angel just seemed kind of wrong somehow.

He shook his head and reminded himself it was Cas. They were friends.

He removed Castiel’s shoes and tugged him out of his coat but opted to leave hit shirt and pants on. Undressing him further than that just crossed lines Sam really wasn’t comfortable with.

He pulled a blanket over Cas to keep him warm and then went into the bathroom to wet a washcloth so that he could wipe the blood from Castiel’s face. When he got back into the bedroom Cas was peering at him blearily through half-closed eyes.

“Hey, Cas,” Sam said gently as he sat down on the edge of the bed. “How are you feeling?”

“Tired,” Castiel admitted in a rough voice. “My head hurts.”

Sam nodded and reached over to wipe the blood from Castiel’s face. “You shouldn’t have done this for me, Cas. You could have killed yourself.”

“It was worth it to see you happy. There was no danger to my life, Sam, I assure you. I simply need time to rest and I will be fine.”

And with that his eyes closed again.

For a moment all Sam could do was sit there, staring at Castiel as he slept. He wasn’t used to people, with the exception of Dean, going out of their way to make him happy. Hell, he wasn’t used to feeling happy period.

He didn’t understand Cas at all. He could only assume that Cas had done this as an indirect way of making Dean happy.

Shit, Dean was going to be pissed when he found out Cas was hurt.

He quietly closed the door to the bedroom and pulled out his phone.

“Hey, Dean,” he said with a nervous smile when his brother answered. “How’s the witch hunt coming along?”

“I think we might be onto something, Sammy. I’m heading there now. You okay? I thought you’d be doing something with Cas today.”

He took a deep breath.

“Cas used his grace to shield me from the curse for a while so I could go outside. It took a lot out of him so he’s resting now. I’m really sorry, Dean. If I’d known what would happen I’d never have let him do it.”

Silence.

“Is he okay? Are you okay?”

Sam nodded. “Yeah, we’re okay. He’s just pretty wiped. It scared the hell out of me but he woke up for a few minutes and said he’d be fine. You should talk to him though. I’m pretty sure he only did this to make you happy.”

“What? Why would half-killing himself so you could take a walk make me happy?”

“Dean, come on, I’m not stupid. I know you and Cas are, you know, a thing.”

“A thing?”

“And I’m totally okay with it,” Sam hurriedly added. “He pulled you out of Hell and risked his ass to keep us safe. I get it. Just, you know, tell him he doesn’t need to do stuff for me to impress you.”

Silence again for a moment and then Dean started to laugh.

“Dude, seriously? You think I’m screwing Cas? Are you nuts?”

Sam frowned. “You’re not? But there’s all the staring and the personal space invasion. He visits you in your dreams! And you do the staring thing just as much as he does, and you don’t exactly push him away when he gets all up close and personal.”

Dean just chuckled. “Man, it’s like you don’t even know me. That’s just Cas being Cas, and I don’t push him away because I know it doesn’t mean anything. Come on, dude, you know I’m a ladies’ man. I thought you were supposed to be the smart one in this family.”

Sam opened his mouth to respond but Dean carried on.

“You want to know what Cas talks about when he’s here? You. All the freaking time, man. I think I know just about every little detail of every conversation he’s ever had with you. You wanna know why he pushed himself through the wringer today? Cuz he likes you. It’s got nothing to do with me.”

Sam opened his mouth again, realized he had no idea what to say to that and then closed it again.

“So how about you let me hunt down this witch and you decide if you want start batting for the other team with Cas. I’m cool with it if you want to go there by the way. Okay? Good? Good talk.”

He hung up, leaving Sam staring at his phone with a frown on his face.

What the Hell?

* * *

Sam decided to spend the rest of the day reading while he waited for Cas to wake up, but only got as far as sitting down and opening a book before he zoned out and started thinking about his conversation with Dean.

He’s never been into guys before, but he did want to kiss Cas when they’d been sat by the river earlier on. He honestly had no idea how he felt about Cas. He cared about Cas, sure, and the fact that Cas had done so much for him made him feel warm and loved for the first time since Jess. But it was Cas. He was male and an angel and his friend.

Wow, their lives were really messed up.

So he sat and pondered and didn’t really get anywhere until Castiel stumbled into the room, eyes still bleary but he was now fully dressed.

Sam pushed his chair back and hurried over, laying a hand on Castiel’s arm as he guided him into a seat.

“You okay?”

Castiel nodded. “I am much improved, thank you, Sam.”

He still looked exhausted. His face was less pale than it had been but there were shadows under his eyes that hadn’t been there before.

“Is there anything I can get you? Maybe you should rest some more.”

Castiel shook his head. “It’s getting late and you need to sleep. I won’t occupy your bed any longer.”

Even before he spoke Sam could hear Dean’s voice in his head commenting that this was a perfect setup of a scene from some cheesy chick flick. But that didn’t stop Sam from offering.

“It’s a big bed, Cas, we can share. You don’t look like you’re in any condition to be flying anywhere right now.”

Castiel glanced over his shoulder at the bedroom and then back at Sam. “Thank you, that’s very kind. I should be recovered enough to leave in the morning.”

“Take as much time as you need, really. It’s my fault you’re in this state in the first place.”

Even though he was pale, weak and clearly exhausted the look Cas shot him across the table almost had Sam shrinking back in his seat. It was stern and commanding and every bit the warrior of Heaven that Castiel was, but that Sam occasionally forgot.

“The decision was mine to make, Sam. You will not blame yourself for the end result.”

It wasn’t a request so Sam simply nodded and rose to his feet.

“I’ll get you something to sleep in.”

Castiel glanced down at his own clothes. “There was nothing in your book about why it’s necessary to change clothing in order to sleep. Are these items not suitable?”

Sam shrugged. “I guess. But I think you’ll be more comfortable in a t-shirt and pair of sweatpants.”

He couldn’t quite decide if Castiel was just too tired to discuss it any further or whether he actually agreed but he sighed and nodded and that was good enough for Sam. He laid out the clothes on the bed for Castiel and disappeared into the bathroom to brush his teeth and change into his own sleeping clothes. Modesty in front of an angel was probably stupid but he wasn’t quite ready for Cas to see him undress.

When he got back into the bedroom Cas’s clothes were folded neatly on top of the dresser and he was under the covers wearing the items Sam had left out for him.

“Comfortable?”

Castiel nodded. “Thank you for lending me your clothing.”

Sam clicked off the lamp and lay flat on his back staring at the ceiling. It had been way too long since he’d shared a bed with someone else and even though their bodies weren’t touching he could hear the sound of Castiel breathing.

It was strangely comforting, especially after being alone in this place for so long. He was used to the sounds of traffic outside, and of snuffling noises Dean made in his sleep.

“I’ve never really slept before,” Castiel said after a few minutes. “What should I be doing?”

Sam smiled. “Just close your eyes and relax. It’ll happen.”

He had no idea if his advice worked or not. After five minutes of lying there listening to the soft, regular sounds of Castiel’s breathing he fell asleep himself.

* * *


He was warm and comfortable when he woke up the next morning, feeling better rested than he had done since before the whole curse thing started. He lay there for a few moments just enjoying the feeling before he opened his eyes.

Castiel’s face was just a few inches away from his own, his eyes still closed and his lips parted slightly as he slept. Well, he clearly got the hang of it.

Sam took a few minutes to just enjoy the sight. Castiel’s hair was even more mussed than it was normally but he looked good. His face was no longer pale and the shadows from under his eyes were gone.

He wasn’t sure beautiful was the right word to describe Castiel but he definitely looked peaceful. It was a shame that neither of the lives really gave them much in the way of down time. It was a good look for him.

“Good morning, Sam.”

He almost jumped when Castiel’s voice broke into his thoughts.

“Uh, good morning.”

Castiel was very much awake now, but had made no effort to put some distance between them. Instead he was just staring at Sam almost curiously, his eyes shining a particularly vivid shade of blue in the morning light.

“So, you managed to get some sleep then? You look better.”

“Yes, I feel well rested now. Thank you. I trust your sleep was pleasant, also.”

Okay, this was weird. Lying in bed engaging in pillow talk with an angel of the lord. Sam was pretty sure his life couldn’t get any stranger than this.

Then Castiel kissed him.

It was a soft, almost chaste kiss that was over almost before Sam realized what was happening.

“Forgive me, Sam,” Castiel said in a voice soft with contrition. “I have wanted to do that for some time and . . . I apologize. I wasn’t thinking. It’s probably best if I leave.”

“NO!” Sam reached out and caught hold of Castiel’s wrist before he could even think about flying away. “Please, don’t. I’ve wanted the same thing for a while too but I kinda thought you had a thing for Dean.”

Castiel blinked at him in surprise. “Your brother is a good man, and I am proud to call him my friend, probably my best friend. But my feelings for him are very different from those I have for you. I should have said something sooner.”

“No, it’s okay,” Sam replied with a smile. “At least we got there in the end, right?”

Castiel nodded. “May I kiss you again?”

Sam leaned forward and captured Castiel’s mouth with his own. This kiss was far less chaste than the first one, their mouths open and their tongues rubbing against each other as Sam pulled Castiel closer to him.

Castiel’s fingers raked though Sam’s hair. It was the first time anyone had touched it with his consent since before the curse and damn it felt good.

“That was…pleasant.” Castiel said when they finally parted so that Sam could catch his breath.

Sam huffed. “Yeah, that’s one way of putting it.”

“I would like to do something like that again. Soon.”

Sam nodded. “That sounds good. I should probably eat something first though. Gotta keep up my strength.”

Castiel nodded and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. In the time it took Sam to blink Castiel was fully dressed in his suit and coat with not even the hint that something had happened between them lingering on him.

“You didn’t need to get dressed,” Sam frowned. “I was kind of enjoying the view.”

“I’m going to fetch you breakfast,” Castiel replied. “Anything you like from anywhere in the world. Just tell me what you want and I’ll get it for you.”

Sam stared at him for a moment, wondering whether Cas was kidding. Apparently he wasn’t.

“You don’t have to do that, Cas, really. Come on, I’ve got some bacon and egg in the fridge. I can cook something up quick. Come and sit with me.”

Castiel didn’t look convinced by this plan but Sam was already pulling on his t-shirt and padding out into the kitchen.

“Do you want to eat anything? Drink something maybe?”

“Well, I just had some babies’ blood but I’ll take an OJ if you’ve got one.”

Sam’s blood ran cold at that voice. The owner of that voice had been tormenting his dreams for months.

“You can’t be here,” he whispered softly even before he turned.

“Can and am,” Lucifer replied and when Sam turned to face him the archangel was leaning casually against the wall like he belonged there. “You think those carvings on your ribs can hide you from me, Sam? I have plenty of humans who are willing to spy for me.”

From the corner of his eye Sam spotted Castiel emerging from the bedroom and tried not to draw attention to him. Maybe they could retain some small element of surprise and. . .

Lucifer waved his hand and Castiel crashed into the far wall with a pained cry. When Sam finally allowed himself to look Castiel was rigid, pressed against the wall by some sort of invisible force and suspended several inches above the ground.

“You would dare try and attack me?” Lucifer sounded more curious than annoyed. “I could eviscerate you in a fraction of a second. I still might. You’re of even less significance to me than the mortals who caused me to fall.”

“NO!” Sam rushed forward. “Don’t hurt him, please. He’s my friend.”

Lucifer turned his attention back to Sam, his curiosity now mixed with something darker and more predatory. Sam realized, too late, that he’d just provided him with leverage.

“I’d say the two of you are more than just friends,” Lucifer replied. “I should have recognized the stench when I arrived.”

He stepped closer to Sam, tilting his head as though looking at him from another angle would help him better understand the curious creature in front of him.

“I’m sure you know that I am a big believer in destiny, Sam. I believe things happen when they are meant to happen. I know you’ll say yes to me in Detroit but when I heard about this,” he ran his fingers through Sam’s hair, “I couldn’t stay away. Do you have any idea how easy it will be to get humanity to worship me if my vessel has your special charm?”

Sam’s face paled at the thought of his curse enslaving the whole of humanity. “It’s never going to happen.”

“No?” Lucifer made a fist with his hand and Castiel let out a scream that made Sam’s blood run cold.

“I’ll take him apart piece by piece and make you watch,” Lucifer said. “Your brother is off limits on account of my brother’s plans for him, but Castiel here? He’s nothing in the grand plan. I can do anything I want to him.”

He twisted his wrist and Castiel screamed again. “I can be very inventive, Sam. Especially when it comes to inflicting pain.”

Sam could hear Castiel’s ragged, labored breathing and didn’t dare look at him.

“Sam,” Castiel rasped. “Don’t.”

His words were choked off into a strangled gurgle.

“I can go like this for days,” Lucifer smiled. “Weeks even. I’ll make sure he doesn’t die, in fact I’ll make sure he doesn’t even lose consciousness. I want him to enjoy every moment. I know you can’t leave, Sam, so you’ll get to enjoy the show the whole time. Do you want to sit down? I’m just getting started.”

“Okay!” Sam said when Castiel started to scream again. “Just stop, alright?”

“You know what you have to do to get me to stop,” Lucifer replied. “One little word. That’s all it takes.”

“I’ve got a word for you. Asshole.”

Sam whirled to find Dean standing in the doorway, a bottle in one hand and his lighter in the other.

“Sam, duck.”

Years of training meant that Sam reacted instinctively and he was on the floor before the words had even finished leaving Dean’s mouth. He glanced up just in time to see Lucifer explode in flames. He heard the thump as the spell holding Castiel in place broke and the angel hit the floor. A moment later Lucifer was gone and the only sign he’d been there in the first place was the residual smell of burning oil and flesh.

“Holy oil molotov,” Dean said with a grin as Sam clambered to his feet. “Cas’s idea. Pretty awesome, huh?”

Sam was barely listening, he was already at Castiel’s side and wiping the blood from his face.

“Hey, are you okay?”

Castiel nodded weakly. “That was unpleasant.”

Dean bustled between them and helped pulled Castiel to his feet. “Come on, we gotta get out of here. That Molotov won’t keep Lucifer down for long and we need to be long gone before he gets back.”

“Dean, I can’t leave. You know I can’t.”

“Curse is broken, Sammy. I found the witch. Why do you think I’m here? And to save both of your asses of course. Now come on. We need to go now.”

They moved as quickly as they could with a half-conscious angel hanging between them. Dean’s car was parked just outside and Sam braced himself as he stepped into the sunlight.

Nothing happened.

“It’s really over,” he smiled.

“It’s over,” Dean agreed. “Now sit in the back with Cas and make sure he doesn’t bleed all over the upholstery.”

The words sounded harsh but Sam could see the concern on his brother’s face as they loaded Castiel onto the back seat. Sam slid in next to him and pillowed Castiel’s head on his lap, stroking his fingers through hair that was now matted with blood.

Dean jumped into the front and put his foot down. Before long the hut that had been both Sam’s home and his prison was little more than a spec in the distance.

* * *

The found a motel when Dean was finally too tired to drive anymore and didn’t hesitate when he asked for two rooms, much to Sam’s surprise.

Castiel had roused a little during the journey but his legs buckled as soon as he got out of the car and for the second time in as many days Sam had to help him inside and put him to bed.

“I’m sorry you keep getting hurt because of me,” Sam said softly as he carefully wiped the blood from Castiel’s face. Again.

“Just promise me you won’t say yes,” Castiel replied weakly. “No matter what anyone does to me. The world is more important than I am, Sam. You have to promise.”

Sam nodded, although in his heart he knew he was about as likely to let Castiel die as he would be to let Dean die.

“I mean it!” Even barely awake there was a force to Castiel’s voice that made Sam say the words.

“I promise, okay. We’ll find another way to stop Lucifer and I won’t say yes.”

“Good. Now, please get into bed. I believe being close to you will enable me to heal faster.”

It was total crap and they both knew it but Sam climbed in anyway, careful not to jostle Castiel too much.

“Tomorrow,” Castiel said softly as he slipped his hand into Sam’s, “we can go out for breakfast with your brother and then perhaps find a park to walk in for a while. You should take a moment to enjoy your freedom, Sam. It’s a precious gift.”

Sam squeezed Castiel’s hand. “Yeah, well that’s not the only thing that’s precious to me so don’t you go do anything stupid either, okay? We all need to make it out of this in one piece. Me, you and Dean. Team Free Will.”

“Team Free Will,” Castiel agreed.

It wasn’t over yet and they both knew it, but at least they were together and Sam was pretty sure that together they could take on anything, even the apocalypse.

“Night, Cas.”

“Goodnight, Sam.”

The End
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