Beta: A massive thank you to my tireless beta souleswanderer who reads my rambling fanfic whether she knows the fandom or not. Love you, hon.
Characters: Sam, Dean and Castiel
Spoilers: If you know who Cas is, you're good.
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to Supernatural and no money was made from writing this.
Warnings: This could be read as slash if you choose to see it that way. Also, shmoop abounds! Don't judge me. :P
Summary: Caring for another brings peace to the soul.
A/N: This was written for following prompt on the Autumn-themed Dean-focused h/c comment-fic meme: It could be Thanksgiving or it could just be autumn. Dean's sick and hurt. Sam and Cas take care of him. There can be smexiness or no smexiness but they should be, not a couple but a triple. Loveyness, forehead-kisses, possible teasing and shmoop would be awesome.
This had not been one of Dean’s better ideas. And, in case you were wondering, Montana was frickin’ cold in November.
Dean stumbled, cradling his bloody arm against his stomach as he dropped to his knees. Going after a wendigo by himself had definitely not been the most intelligent idea he’d ever had. He’d gotten it, though, in the end. Not before he’d nearly gotten clawed to death and thrown across half of the forest. The biggest casualty, though, was his cell phone.
He’d left Sam doing research for another case. He knew Sam wanted to stay close to Bobby’s because Thanksgiving was only two days away, and Dean didn’t want to drag him away for the hunt. He’d flubbed some stupid excuse about needing to take care of something, and Sam didn’t look like he’d bought it, but he left him ago anyway. For what reason, Dean would never know, but at the time, he’d been grateful.
His knees felt damp and he reached down, gingerly touching his jeans. Oh, he was still kneeling on the forest floor. He was so freaking tired. He could rest here for just a minute. Carefully he stretched back, lowering his upper body against the soft leaves. Dean squinted, trying to see the stars through the trees. One of the benefits of being in the middle of nowhere was the stars. The forest blocked out the sky, old trees reaching up and stretching towards the blackness above, as if they could somehow reach heaven.
Heaven. Dean snickered at that. There was a time when he didn’t believe, and now, even after everything he’d seen, he didn’t know what to think. Nothing was at is seemed, he figured. He knew Cas, though, and trusted him. Almost as much as he trusted Sam. He supposed it was different. Sam was his brother, and the trust was inherent, Cas he had learned to trust. It wasn’t hardwired in his soul since birth.
“Wish you guys were here,” Dean murmured, allowing his eyes to drift closed. Only a minute, he promised himself. Only a minute then he’d get up and go find the Impala.
“Cas, thank you,” Sam repeated for what must have been the tenth time.
“Its fine, Sam. I wanted to find him, too.”
Sam rubbed a tired hand over his face. “He’s such a freakin’ jerk.”
They’d been keeping vigil around the bed for the better part of two hours. “That is not what you said earlier,” Cas pointed out.
Sam paled a little. “That was when I thought he might be dying.” He couldn’t be held responsible for what he’d said when he thought Dean was dying, could he?
“I told you he wasn’t.” Cas adjusted his trench coat that was spread out across Dean’s chest. Sam had said three blankets were more than enough, but Cas was insistent and Sam figured it couldn’t hurt. He figured they both had their own ways of being close to Dean.
“There was a lot of blood, Cas.” Sam would know, after all, because he was the one that had painstakingly removed as much of it as possible with a damp cloth.
Cas nodded once, glancing around Bobby’s bedroom. Bobby had graciously offered his bedroom once he saw Dean’s condition. After they’d collectively decided Dean was a dumbass and he was going to live, Bobby had muttered something about needing to baste the turkey. He also ordered them both to get some sleep, and surprisingly Cas hadn’t protested, saying angels didn’t require the rest that humans did.
“I should go,” Cas said, stepping away from the bed.
“No, you should stay,” Sam replied. “He needs an earful from more than just me and Bobby.”
“He was reckless,” Cas admitted.
Sam could think of a lot more colorful ways to describe it. “He was stupid, and he knows better.”
“Stupidity is a characteristic that many humans possess.”
“Yeah, well, Dean raises it to an art form,” Sam muttered, retrieving a fresh washcloth from the bedside table. He dipped it in the water basin and carefully brushed it against Dean’s hair, sopping up blood that wasn’t there anymore.
“You were worried.”
Sam glared down at his brother who was still dead to the world. “Well, yeah. Course I was. I mean, he’s my brother, after all.”
“You two are closer than that,” Cas replied. “You’re –“ Sam waited to see how the angel would classify him and Dean. Their relationship was wrought with sacrifice and pain, with near misses and burdens they never should have accepted, and yet here they were, still together and still fighting - “special.”
Sam snickered. “We’re special all right. Like rides the short bus special.”
“I do not understand that reference.”
Sam shook his head. “Never mind.” His eyes drifted down to Dean, watching the steady intake of breath. In and out. In and out. It was hypnotizing and remained one of the most beautiful things Sam had ever seen.
“You should get some rest, Sam,” Cas said quietly.
“I’m not going to leave him.” He’d sleep where he stood first.
Cas eyed the large bed. “There’s enough room.”
Sam tried to look affronted. “I haven’t slept with my brother since –“
Cas cut across him. “Four days before the apocalypse, I know.”
Sam’s eyes widened. “You know about that? How?” He couldn’t imagine Dean offering up that little tidbit of information willingly.
“Since I came to lie with him and the spot was already taken,” Cas replied evenly.
Sam blinked, freezing where he stood. “You – wait, what?”
Cas’ gaze was scrutinizing and Sam wondered how Dean handled the attention. “You are surprised.”
Actually he wasn’t. Not really. “No, not really. The way you two make googly eyes at each other, it should have been a dead giveaway.”
Cas lifted his eyebrow, clearly not understanding the googly reference. Dean could explain it to him later.
“Lay down, Sam,” Cas repeated, gesturing to the bed.
There was enough room so maybe Cas’ idea wasn’t so bad. “Yeah. Yeah, okay.” Sam toed out of his shoes and walked around the bed, easing himself down carefully so he didn’t jostle his injured brother. “He’s still an idiot,” Sam muttered, resting his fingers gingerly on Dean’s chest so he could feel each intake and release of breath.
“There will be plenty of time to tell him that,” Cas reminded him.
“Oh, and I will. Believe me.” Dean had a massive chew out coming to him, the likes of which he hadn’t seen in…well, at least two weeks.
Sam thought Cas might have smiled as much as Cas could or would smile. “You could, you know, have a seat or something.” He thought about how Cas said he’d shared Dean’s bed before, how Sam had taken his place before the apocalypse. Cas had said it without retribution or jealousy. Simply stating a fact rather than passing judgment or issuing accusation. He reconsidered what he’d said as he watched Cas carry a wooden chair across the room so he could sit closer to Dean. “It’s a big bed, you know,” he offered quietly. Had he just said that out loud?
“It is bigger than what you normally sleep in when you stay in a motel,” Cas agreed.
Sam closed his eyes for a second and marveled at his brother’s patience. Patience was something he didn’t typically associate with Dean. “I’m saying there’s room for you -” he pointedly ignores Cas’ heavy gaze - “if you want.”
“I do not require sleep,” Cas said. Sam, unlike Dean, was very good at picking up nuances, and Cas had not directly declined the offer.
Sam sat up, easing his hand underneath Dean’s neck and rested his other hand on Dean’s hip as he pulled him gently toward the middle of bed. He held his breath to see if Dean would wake up. Instead, Dean exhaled a soft breath, and his head lolled to the right, his nose pressing against Sam’s side.
“See, plenty of room,” Sam said, gesturing to the space on the other side of Dean.
“I see,” Cas said.
“Just lay down, Cas,” Sam said, dropping back against the pillows. “We should stay close in case something happens.” Okay, technically they didn’t have to be this close, but whatever.
Cas nodded once and the overhead light was turned off without so much as a flick of the switch. Sam listened to the sounds of Cas pulling his shirt out of his pants and toeing off his shoes. “Dean said it was inappropriate to sleep with your shoes on.”
“He’s right,” Sam said, wondering what else Dean had taught Cas about sleeping or not sleeping in bed. The bed barely moved when Cas laid down. Maybe that was another hidden angel talent.
Sam rolled on his side again and reached out to rest his hand on Dean’s chest. His fingers froze in the air, and he slowly retracted his hand. Sam figured he should count himself lucky he was able to be this close to Dean.
“You should touch him,” Cas said, his voice still like gravel, but softer somehow.
Sam swallowed, his hand returned to gently lie on Dean’s chest. “It’s one of the only times I get to be close to him.” It was an admission spoken from a weary heart. Dean was never one for physical closeness, and over the years Sam had come to expect it, to mirror it in Dean’s presence. In the months leading up the apocalypse, they were barely in the same room together.
“He will never admit it, but he likes it. Likes having you close,” Cas said.
“Dean would never tell you that,” Sam said. There was no way Dean, his wayward brother who could barely tolerate the one arm man hug, the man who abhorred sharing and caring with a passion, would ever openly admit to like being touched.
Cas turned his head, and Sam clearly saw blue eyes blazing against the blackness of the room. “He didn’t have to. His soul burns brighter when you are near.”
Sam opened his mouth to respond, but what do you say to that? Cas saw the world in a way that Sam could never imagine, and for a second he wished he could. “That’s –“ he swallowed – “thank you for telling me.” He never realized how badly he needed to hear that.
Sam shifted, and going for broke, he pressed his lips against Dean’s temple before resettling his head on the pillow. Cas’ inquisitive eyes were focused on something else, and when Sam’s eyes drifted closed, he thought maybe Cas was watching Dean’s soul. He hoped it was the most beautiful thing Cas had ever seen.
Several minutes passed with Sam snoring against the pillow, and Cas shifted on his side, resting his fingers over the palm print that was no longer visible to the human eye. “You can open your eyes now. I know you’re awake.”
Dean’s eyes opened to slits at first, and he blinked several times as the room slowly swam into focus. “You realize he thinks we’re sleeping together now.”
“We are sleeping together.”
Dean rolled his head against the pillow so he could look at the angel. “Well, yeah.” A minor technicality. “But he thinks we’re –“
“He made his own assumption.”
Dean sighed, resting his fingers lightly against Sam’s hand. “You could have told him you healed most of my injuries.” He remembered Sam painstakingly cleaning him, the damn cloth sliding over his mostly healed skin with care and a gentleness that was enough to make Dean feign sleep just so Sam wouldn’t stop. “Why didn’t you angel fu the blood away?”
Cas’ eyes were bright against the darkness of the room. “Caring for another brings peace to the soul.”
Dean processed that for a second before saying, “Is that why you healed me?”
“I never wish you to come to harm, Dean.”
Dean swallowed. “Thank you. For…you know.” All of it. Everything. And for still being here.
“You’re welcome.” Cas reached his hand out, his fingers sliding across Dean’s forehead. “You should sleep.”
Dean managed to weasel out his free hand, the one that had been pressed against his side, and he took Cas’ wrist, pulling his hand away. “Yeah, I will.” The ‘in my own time’ was implied.
The room fell silent save Sam’s soft snoring, and Dean relished the quiet and, if he was going to be honest, the closeness. After so many wrongs, it felt right. Despite their numerous fuck ups, they deserved a little right, didn’t they?
“Is it true?” Dean whispered.
“Is what true?”
He felt the warmth of Sam’s body, the feeling of his fingers pressed against his chest. “That my soul burns brighter when he’s close.”
“Yes, it is, although it took me awhile to recognize it,” Cas said.
“How did you? Recognize it, I mean.” He expected an answer along the lines of ‘I’ve been looking at souls since the dawn of creation’ or ‘I know your soul above all others.’
“Because your soul burns brighter for me as well.”
Dean swallowed, closing his eyes against the weight of emotion surging through his heart.
Cas leaned forward and his lips pressed against Dean’s left temple. “Sleep now.”
“Will you still…you know, in the morning?” Dean murmured, fighting the urge to sleep that was pressing against his mind.
“Be here? Yes, Dean. I’ll still be here. As will Sam,” Cas promised.
Dean pulled Cas’ hand forward until it rested on his chest next to Sam’s, their fingers all brushing together. “That’s good, yeah?”
“It is as it should be.”
Dean smiled into the darkness, his eyes drifting closed. “That’s definitely good.”