All the Pebbles in Your Path

by The Grrrl

Title: All the Pebbles in Your Path

Author: The Grrrl

Author's email: thegrrrl2002@gmail.com

Author's URL: http://thegrrrl2002.slashcity.org/

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Supernatural

Pairing: Dean/Castiel

Summary: Dean takes an unexpected trip. It's up to Cas to get him home again.

Notes: Written for the Dean/Cas Christmas exchange. A big thank you to the very awesome chelle who read this through and encouraged me and listened to me ramble on about it.

"All I know is that Crowley is pulling the strings," Dean said as he tucked his kit into his duffel bag. "And I don't like it one bit."

Cas stood by the window, looking out over the parking lot. "Perhaps it's not all Crowley."

"Like he's taking credit for holding Sam's soul, but he doesn't have it? Wow, a lying demon. Who would have thought it." Dean grabbed the bottle of whiskey from the bedside table. He considered stashing it in his bag, but since there were only a few swallows left he unscrewed the cap and it raised it to his lips.

"He would have to be very powerful to do such a thing." Cas turned to Dean. "Until we understand the extent of his powers, we can't be sure of anything."

"That's fucking great." Dean wiped his mouth, satisfied by the burn of the whiskey. He tossed the bottle in the trash with a loud thud. "Well, I'm heading off to Bobby's."

He retrieved his gun from under the bed pillow, tucked it into the waistband of his jeans and shouldered his duffel bag. When he looked up again, he expected the room to be empty. Yet Cas was still there, as irritating as ever.

"Don't you have some place you have to be?" Dean asked.

"Yes, Dean, many places. But you said you needed my help."

"Okay, fine." Dean relented, regretting his snide tone. "I just figured you had a battle to get back to."

Cas shook his head. "There's been a lull in the fighting. We're taking the time to regroup."

"So you're coming along with me?" Dean asked.

"Yes, I am," Cas said, "I will be riding shotgun."

Dean snorted and turned away before Cas could see him smile. He wasn't sure why he was so pleased, but the truth was he had missed Cas over the past year, missed his solemn, glaring, annoying presence. "Come on, then."

When he reached the door, Cas put a hand on his shoulder, stopping him. "What?" Dean said, immediately wary. "You were looking out the window before--is something out there?"

"I'm not certain. But I may have sensed something."

Dean stepped aside, reaching for his weapon as Cas opened the door.

All seemed quiet, but the parking lot was dark. Too dark. Three of the street lights had been broken and the area was illuminated only by the sickly green and yellow motel sign. Cas shot Dean a look and Dean knew at once that yeah, something was up.

Dean was glad Cas was with him.

Cas stepped out onto the covered walkway. Dean followed, alert and ready. The Impala was parked in front of the unit, only a few feet away. Sparing a quick glance at the neighboring units, Dean noted they were dark, seemingly unoccupied. Then he heard a sound above his head.

A loud thump in front of him as a man leaped from the roof of the walkway onto the hood of the Impala. Dean narrowed his eyes, raising his gun and aimed it directly at the man's chest. "Oh, you are going to regret that," Dean snarled.

The man smiled and even in the dark Dean could see sharp, deadly teeth and his blood ran cold.

Dean hated vampires more than ever.

The door next to him swung open and two more came out. Cas raised a hand, sweeping them back but the vamp on the car leaped to the room's door, holding it open and grinning viciously.

Dean saw the sigils on the inside of the door and his heart dropped. "Fuck."

The vamp slammed his hand against the door and blinding light flowed from it. Desperate, Dean reached for Cas, but he was already fading into a smear of white light, his face strange and distorted. Dean threw himself at the light, catching a glimpse of wings as they opened, feathers brushing his face and then all went white.

***

Dean woke to a throbbing pain in his arm. His wrist was twisted awkwardly underneath his body and he groaned as he rolled over onto his back, his entire body aching with the effort. The air smelled dank and heavy and he opened his eyes to cloudy skies above and that smell--damn it, that was sulfur in the air.

It could only mean one thing. Demons.

Heart pounding, Dean sat up abruptly, wincing at the dizziness it caused. A quick look around showed he was alongside a body of water, mud stretching out to the water's edge--a salt marsh. No demon in sight. Or vampires. No one at all. Just ferns and moss and water lapping at the shore.

The smell was coming from dark sulfurous mud exposed by low tide. With a sigh of relief, Dean rubbed a hand over his face, batting away the flies. He saw his gun lying in the greenery beside him and he reached for it, tucking it away in the back of his pants.

"Cas," he said. "Where the hell did you go?"

Pushing himself to his feet, Dean stumbled over leafy ferns, search for any sign of Cas's presence. His left wrist was swollen and bruised, maybe even broken and he held it against his chest protectively. Catching a glimpse of beige trench coat against the rich green, not more than twenty feet away, Dean shouted,"Cas?"

He hurried over to find Cas lying motionless, face down. Cursing, Dean knelt beside him and tugged his shoulder, rolling him onto his back. Cas's eyes remained closed. Dean cupped a hand in front of Cas's face, and yes, still breathing. He gently pressed his fingers against Cas's neck, reassured by the slow, steady heartbeat throbbing underneath his fingertips.

"Thank god." Dean sat, shoulders slumped. He spotted his duffel a few feet away, but he was too tired to get it. His head was pounding with pain and even though he knew there was aspirin in his pack, it was just too damn far away.

"Any time you want to wake up, Cas," he said. "I mean, we seem to be safe for the moment, but--" Dean raised his head, eyes on the horizon. The marsh gave way to thicker bushes a few hundred yards beyond, and it looked like a fairly dense forest past that. Low, thick trees with huge fronds--palm trees, maybe?

"It's a jungle out there, buddy." Dean patted Cas's chest. "Come on." He took Cas by the shoulder and shook him gently but there was no response. "This banishing thing sucks ass." He snorted. "Yeah, I'm sure you already know that."

Cas still didn't move.

"Great." Dean fished his cell phone out his jacket pocket and flipped it open. "Oh, that's even better," he added when he saw the 'no signal' status. "We must be in the middle of friggin' nowhere."

He gazed out over the trees, watching the as the fronds swayed in the breeze and wondered where the hell he was--South America? India? "I have no clue," he told Cas. "And you're not helping at all, are you?"

He got to his feet, groaning as his stomach lurched. For a moment he thought he was going to lose his lunch and he closed his eyes, breathing deep until the feeling passed. He held the phone up higher, as if were possible that buildings were blocking the signal. Shaking his head at himself, he closed the phone and slipped it back into his pocket, then trudged over to his bag to get that aspirin.

He found the aspirin and a bottle of water, then wrapped his injured wrist with a bandanna, using his teeth to help tie the final knot. Walking over to the edge of the mudflat, he wrinkled his nose at the smell. Clams were half buried in the exposed mud, streams of water running past, indicating the tide was still headed out. Snails moved slowly between the clams. "I guess I'm not going to starve," he said, eyeing the fauna dubiously.

An odd trumpeting sound in the distance and Dean froze, reaching for his gun. It sounded loud and deep, as if it came from something big. Really big. An elephant, maybe. Dean glanced down at his completely inadequate weapon and grimaced. It was enough to annoy an elephant, nothing more. The sound seemed to originate from the forested area beyond and Dean watched the distant trees with apprehension.

He saw movement but it was too far away to make out any details. Aside from the buzz of insects, all was quiet.

"A little too quiet," Dean muttered to himself as he glanced up at the sky. No planes. Or birds, for that matter. A marsh like this should be filled with bird life--seagulls, sparrows, ducks. Hell, maybe flamingos, for all he knew. But the only things flying around him were insects. Really big insects, like the red and yellow beetle that was currently climbing up his leg.

Dean brushed the bug off, and despite the heat, felt a distinct chill. Everything was wrong. There were no signs of life along the undulating coastline--no boats, no huts, cottages, not even any garbage washed up on shore. The sea was covered in a heavy mist and Dean couldn't make out where the water met sky, he didn't know if there was more land beyond or not. He spotted something large moving in the water, out in the distance--a whale, most likely. It broke the surface briefly, dark, sleek skin glinting in the sunlight, then it disappeared beneath the sea.

At a complete loss, he headed back to Cas, stirring up flies as he trudged through the low growth, which were promptly eaten by big blue dragonflies darting here and there. "You're welcome," he said to the dragonflies. "Don't forget to tip your waiter."

Cas was still unconscious. "You're missing out on a lot fun here, buddy," Dean told him. "Seriously, are we even on earth? Or some kind of weird-assed corner of heaven?"

He stared down at Cas for a moment.

"How long you going to keep up the silent treatment, huh? It's getting old." He nudged Cas with his toe, then sat beside him. "I feel like shit warmed over."

He watched Cas breathe, making sure his chest was rising and falling steadily. His gun was a somewhat reassuring pressure at the small of his back. He wondered how long he was going to be stuck here--where ever "here" was. He didn't appreciate being taken out of the game like this--those vamps had been waiting for him, somehow they knew he was there and even more chilling, they had anticipated Cas's presence and were prepared to take him out.

Plus, Sam. Sam was at Bobby's, expecting him to show up.

"Damn it, Cas. I have things to do," Dean complained. He sighed, wiped the sweat from his face and waited for Cas to wake.

***

The fire roared and crackled, yet provided only minor comfort . Uneasy, Dean sat with his pistol in one hand, flashlight and knife by his side. Cas was stretched out on the sand beside him, still unconscious. A circle of salt surrounded them--Dean kept a box tucked inside his bag at all times. He was exhausted, but determined not to succumb to sleep. He needed to stay alert. It had taken him all afternoon to gather up the driftwood scattered along the shore and then had to drag Cas down to the stretch of sand where he had decided to set up camp.

Damn, he was heavy.

"This isn't fun anymore," Dean had pointed out to Cas as he dragged him over the mossy terrain, arms wrapped firmly around Cas's chest. "Feel free to wake up any time now and walk on your own two feet. Or better yet, flap your damn wings and get us both out of here."

But Cas didn't wake. As the sun set over the distant forest, the strange calls grew louder and more frequent. Something large flew over the trees and maybe it was a trick of perspective but the thing looked fucking huge, too big to be a bird. Too big to be able to fly. Dean dropped another gray, twisted log onto the fire and thought fondly of his shotgun, tucked away in the trunk of the Impala.

Hell, he wished he had the Impala, so he could get the fuck out of here and find some real food. The clams he had dined on were tough and chewy and tasted awful, but Dean was hungry enough to eat them. There was a freshwater stream only a few hundred yards away where he could refill his bottle so yeah, he was going to survive for the time being.

"No thanks to you," he said to Cas, who didn't deign to respond.

Cas's silence was getting pretty damn irritating.

A mist rolled in off the water as the sky darkened, blurring the moon and allowing only a few bright stars to show through. The night air was warm and despite his best efforts, Dean's eyes begin to close. He stood and stretched, gathering what little energy he had left. Rubbing his face, he yawned and rolled his shoulders, trying to soothe stiff, sore muscles. His wrist was throbbing again and he focused on that, hoping the pain would keep him awake.

The tide had come in and water lapped at the edge of the sand but the circle of salt remained intact. Dean moved within it, looking in vain for signs of civilization in the distance. No lights, no movement, just complete blackness as far as he could see. Unsettled even further, Dean stood beside Cas, staring down at his face in the flickering yellow light. Cas remained utterly still, the hollows of this eyes and cheeks dark with shadow.

Dean wondered if Cas was ever going to wake up. And if he'd still be Cas when he did.

"Come on, Cas," he muttered under his breath. "I don't even know what I'm dealing with here. I don't know if this is earth, or heaven, or hell--"

A rustling just beyond the sand drew his attention. Dean froze, head cocked to one side, listening. Footsteps. Quick, thudding footsteps at the edge of the water, just up ahead. Footsteps that didn't sound human--too quick, too heavy.

Dean knelt slowly, reaching for his flashlight. More footsteps, some soft scuffling in the sand and Dean carefully stepped over the line of salt and crept towards the sounds, flashlight off, gun cocked and ready. Once he was beyond the circle of firelight, he waited for his eyes to adjust. With the mist hanging low to the ground, Dean could barely make out movement. But whatever it was, it was large. He crept closer, raising his gun.

More noise, behind him this time. Dean whirled around. Fuck, Cas was back there, lying helpless. Just at the edge of the firelight something moved. It was big with claws and Dean saw a flash of sharp, jagged teeth, heading directly toward Cas. Dean aimed his gun and fired.

A blur of movement and it was gone. The sound of the blast echoed down the coast, promptly followed by the thudding of feet. Monsters, running across the field toward the forest. Dean switched on the flashlight and caught a glimpse of a long tail, clawed feet, and then they were gone, whatever they were.

Not a typical werewolf--not enough fur. Maybe a rugaru.

"Damn it," Dean said, heart pounding in his chest. He ran back to Cas, who appeared unharmed. Dean swept the flashlight's beam across the surface--the line of salt was intact, but just beyond it there were deep grooves, three parallel lines in the sand.

Dean sat beside Cas, gun cocked and ready. He had no trouble staying awake for the remainder of the night.

***

The sky was a pre-dawn gray when Cas awoke. Dean's only warning was a sharp intake of breath and then Cas's eyes were open, surprisingly alert.

"Holy shit, Cas," Dean said, startled and relieved. He knelt beside Cas. "It's about time. You had me freaking out here."

Cas blinked, then his eyes focused on Dean. He stared silently for a few seconds. "Dean," he said with a frown.

"Yeah. Hi. Nice to see you, too," Dean said, raising his eyebrows. "You feeling okay?"

Cas sat up abruptly, causing Dean to fall back on his heels. Dean waited for Cas's reaction as Cas took in the campfire, the ocean, the sky, his eyes lingering on the forest before returning to rest on Dean.

"Yo." Dean grew worried. "You remember how we got here? The vamps? With the banishing sigil?"

"You shouldn't be here," Cas said.

"Yeah, no shit." Dean's worry gave way to frustration. "Neither of us should. Because I have no freakin' idea where 'here' is. What I asked is, do you remember how we got here?"

"Yes, Dean, I remember the events leading up to the banishing." Cas leaned forward, eyes narrowing. "Question is, how did you get here?"

Dean shrugged. "What? I jumped in after you."

"How?" Cas demanded. "That isn't possible."

"What can I say?" Dean waved his hands. "You started to go glowy and I grabbed onto you, and next thing I knew, I was face down in the dirt, unconscious."

"This isn't right." Cas shook his head, then stood in one easy movement.

"No kidding. Where the hell are we?" Dean asked. He climbed to his feet, slower than Cas, and followed him. Despite his relief at Cas's recovery, he was getting more irritated by the minute. And okay, maybe a little scared, too, because Cas was looking as close to freaked out as Cas could ever get. "Is this earth, or some kind of--of--alternative reality, like in heaven, or--"

"We are on earth," Cas said, but he didn't sound happy about it. He strode swiftly across the marsh, trench coat flapping around his legs.

"Okay," Dean said, his fear building. He broke into a trot, slipping on the damp moss as he tried to keep up. "Then where are we? Because there are some nasty things hanging around, and I don't know what the hell they are."

"A better question," Cas said, "would be 'when are we'." He came to an abrupt halt near the thick bushes and tangled undergrowth. "Look." He raised an arm and pointed.

The sun had risen and the first rays were slanting down at the edge of the bushes, revealing a herd of strange animals feeding on the leaves. They were the size of deer, with four legs, a high, arched back leading to a long tail that stood out straight, not touching the ground. Dean stared in disbelief. One of them turned its long narrow neck and stared back at him, a leafy twig hanging out of it's mouth as it chewed.

"What the hell?" Dean frowned, then took a step back as he realized just exactly what was in front of him. "No, Cas, that can't be--"

"I'm afraid so."

"Cas, those are not a dinosaurs."

"We've traveled far into the earth's past," Cas said. "About one hundred and fifty million years. Give or take a million."

Dean held his hands up, pleading. "That is not possible, okay? Are you sure this isn't just some heavenly version of Jurassic Park? Because heaven, that's kind of a weird place and you never know what's going on up there."

Startled by the movement, the creatures began to move away, surprisingly graceful as they broke into a trot. Despite his dismay, Dean couldn't help feeling a sense of awe as he watched them--dinosaurs, honest to goodness dinosaurs. He remembered Sam playing with a little plastic stegosaurus as a kid, making it attack Dean's soldiers on the battlefield they had set up in the back of the car. Sam loved that thing.

"Trust me, Dean," Cas said. "We've traveled back in time. Far, far back. I don't know how it happened."

"It was just your standard banishing sigil, right?" Dean asked. "What usually happens when you get hit with one those?"

"I am transported a distance away, and can't travel again for a time," Cas explained. "Usually a day or two."

"So how did we end up in the land of the lost?"

"I don't know." Cas said, his tone growing sharp. He whirled to face Dean. "What part of--"

Dean held his hands up. "I get it, okay? I get it. You don't know." He hated when Cas didn't know things. It never boded well.

Cas's expression grew thoughtful. "Perhaps the diseased blood affected its power," he mused.

"Vamp blood," Dean said with sudden realization. "It was drawn with vampire blood, wasn't it?"

"Either that, or your presence affected the spell." Cas folded his arms over his chest. "None of this makes sense, Dean."

"Ah, well that's good to hear," Dean said. "But never mind how we got here, how do we get back?"

"That's a very good question."

"Come on, Cas," Dean pleaded. "You've danced the time warp before."

"Thirty years verses one hundred fifty million." Cas scowled at him. "It's not the same."

"But you've got extra mojo now, right?" Dean knew he was grasping at straws but he couldn't wrap his mind around the possibility of being stuck forever in Jurassic Park.

"Once the banishment spell wears off, it's possible, but not a certainty," Cas said. "It will be a bigger jump than I've ever attempted before, even if we move forward in increments. We are a long way away from home."

"We need to get back, Cas," Dean insisted. "I can't stay here. There's too much going on. What about Sam? He's wandering around out there without a soul, and god only knows what Crowley is up to--"

"Dean," Cas snapped. "You are not the only one with responsibilities. I'm supposed to be fighting a war, for the future of my world--" Cas raised his arms in despair, "and yet I'm trapped here, as a direct result of helping you."

Before Dean could say anything more, Cas spun around and headed away from Dean.

"Crap." Dean scrubbed a hand over his head as he watched Cas stride off, shoulders stiff and angry. Cas had a point, as much as Dean hated to admit it.

A clucking sound in the from the ground and Dean noticed a small creature--dinosaur--peering up at him, head cocked to one side. It looked like a chicken, standing on two hind legs, a brightly feathered tail twice the length of its body standing straight up behind it. The front appendages were small and tucked against its body but Dean could see the long, sickle-like claws on its hands, and the mouth, even though shaped like a beak, was lined with rows of tiny, sharp teeth.

"What the hell do you want?" Dean asked.

It darted forward and before Dean could jump back, snapped its jaws, catching Dean's jeans in its mouth, right at the knee.

"You've got to be kidding me." Dean tried to shake it off but it was surprisingly tenacious for its size. He reached down to brush it away, realizing at the last second that it probably wasn't a very good idea.

The creature sank its tiny teeth into Dean's hand. "Fuck," Dean growled, gritting his teeth against the pain. The creature scampered up the side of his body, digging its claws painfully into Dean's hip as it bit down harder and Dean wondered if he had survived heaven and hell only to be taken down by a vicious killer chicken.

And then it was gone.

"Perhaps you should consider staying close." Cas appeared at Dean's side, eyeing him with something suspiciously close to exasperation.

"Okay. Good idea," Dean panted, clutching his bloody hand to his chest.

Cas reached out to Dean, demanding. After a moment of stubbornness, Dean relented and held his injured hand out. Cradling Dean's hand in his, Cas touched two fingers to Dean's palm and with a rush of warmth Dean's hand was healed.

"Thanks," Dean said quietly.

Cas didn't let go. Instead he moved closer, still glaring at Dean. Dean's breath caught in his throat and hell, he must be seriously tired--all he wanted to do was close his eyes and lean against Cas, to breathe him in, to let Cas glare all he wanted to. When Cas placed his other hand on Dean's hip, Dean nearly did just that, except when he followed Cas's lowered gaze, he saw blood and realized the killer chicken had gouged his hip with its claws. Cas was healing him.

"Uh. Thank you." Dean stared at Cas's hand, pale skin smudged with blood, resting against his jeans.

Cas curled his fingers over Dean's hip, his face inches away from Dean's. His expression softened as he searched Dean's face and Dean could feel Cas's breath on his cheek. Cas was too close. He was always too close. Dean knew he should just step away but he couldn't.

"Hey, while you're at it." Dean held up his other hand, exposing his bruised wrist. "I don't know if it's broken or--"

This time the healing warmth flowed up from the hand on his hip, through his chest and down his arm and fuck, it was almost sexual, the way it ran through him. Dean suppressed a shudder.

"Anything else?" Cas asked in a low voice.

Dean could think of a lot of things he wanted from Cas, things that had been lurking in the back of his mind for some time now. "Uh, I'm good," he said instead. "I do need to get some sleep, though."

Cas dropped Dean's hand and stepped away. "Of course."

Dean wasn't sure, but that might have been disappointed he heard in Cas's voice. "But first, I'm starving. I don't suppose you could mojo up some bacon and eggs?" Dean asked, trying to cover his confusion.

Cas gave Dean a look. "No, I'm afraid that wouldn't be possible."

"Pancakes? Biscuits and gravy?"

Cas shook his head.

"Jeeze, what good are you?" Cas raised an eyebrow and Dean grinned, feeling more like himself again. "Hey, do you think you can whammy a fish out of the water? It's got to taste better than those damn clams."

Cas could indeed. He stood at the water's edge, watching and listening. After a moment he raised his hand and a large fish landed in it. It looked almost like a regular fish, with a flat body and fins and two eyes and scales and everything else that made a fish look normal.

"Dude, that is awesome," Dean announced. In no time at all he had scaled and gutted it, washing it off in the water before gingerly placing it on a smoldering log in the fire. It smelled pretty good as it cooked.

"My strength is returning," Cas said, standing behind Dean as Dean poked the fire with a stick, building it back up again.

Dean glanced up, squinting at the sun. "You sound surprised."

"It's sooner than I expected, considering how weakened I was when I first woke." Cas walked to the water's edge. "But heaven is closer to the earth in this time period."

"Seriously? It is?" Dean looked up at the sky, but it was just clouds and haze, the sun a yellow glowing blob near the horizon.

"You can't see it from here," Cas said over his shoulder.

"I know that." Dean sat back on his heels, watching the skin on the fish curl and blacken with the heat. "So how soon until we can try getting back?"

"Another day. Perhaps longer." Cas shook his head in dismay as he paced in front of the fire. "I don't like this. I was expecting valuable intel from the cherubs on Raphael's supporters and their movements. Anything could be happening. The fighting may have resumed and yet I am trapped here."

"Yeah. About that," Dean said. "You were right. I was being a dick back there. I'm sorry I got you zapped into dino world."

Cas settled in the sand beside him with a heavy sigh. "Dean, you didn't draw the sigil. And by this time, I should know that spending time with you is fraught with danger." He glanced at Dean, his usual intensity tempered by surprising warmth.

"Nice." Dean snorted. "But it's true, isn't it?"

Cas gave a little shrug.

"And yet you still stick around," Dean mused. "This 'profound bond' of ours must really mean something to you, huh?"

"I value our friendship."

Simply spoken, and Cas's earnest tone warmed Dean. Embarrassed, Dean poked at his fish, checking to see it was cooked yet. "Yeah. You know. Me too," Dean said, without looking at Cas.

The fish was done, so he pulled the slab of wood away from the fire to let it cool down. He drank some water, then poured some in the cup of his hand and splashed his face. It was warm sitting next to the fire, the air heavy and humid. His t-shirt was wet with sweat and clung uncomfortably to his skin. He glanced at Cas, in his buttoned up suit and trench coat. "Aren't you hot in all that?"

Cas looked down at his clothes. "No."

"I'll never understand you guys," Dean mused, touching a cautious finger to the fish. Still too hot.

Cas leaned forward. "How so?"

"It's like a sauna out here, and you're dressed in a suit and coat. And," Dean said, warming to the subject, "what's the business about the Chrysler Building? If you are that god damn big, how do you squeeze down into a human body?"

"I can collapse upon myself," Cas said, as if it were perfectly obvious. "Utilizing different dimensions."

Dean stared at Cas. "Oh. Right."

His sarcasm was lost on Cas. "It was odd at first, to be so contained," Cas continued, looking down at his hands. "Confining. But I've grown accustomed to this form."

"Yeah. About that. How come you still have the same vessel? What happens to it while you're," Dean waved his hands, "doing the multidimensional wavelength thing? Where's Jimmy?"

"Jimmy's soul is in heaven. God has granted me this body, it is now an integral of my existence."

Dean frowned. "That doesn't make any sense."

Taken aback, Cas said, "Of course it does."

"Like I said," Dean repeated, "I"ll never understand how you guys work." He tested the fish again, and found it cool enough to eat. He picked up a piece and tasted it. Then shrugged. It tasted like fish.

"I find humans puzzling at times, too." Cas raised an eyebrow as he stared directly at Dean. "Contradictory."

"No kidding?" Dean grinned at him.

Cas turned his gaze back to the fire, but Dean could see by the set of Cas's mouth that he was amused, his eyes crinkling at the corners.

Dean ate his fish as the tide moved out. A few small lizards dashed about in the mud, and Dean was buzzed by something flying around his food, something big and shiny with too many wings. A cool ocean breeze kicked in and by time Dean finished eating, he was almost comfortable.

"I'm going to try and get some sleep," Dean told Cas as he stretched out on the sand, using his duffel bag as a pillow. "Don't go anywhere."

"Where would I go, Dean?" Cas was standing by the water again, looking up at the sky.

"Good point." Dean settled in, reaching behind his back to smooth out a lump in the sand. "Just make sure none of those things come back. Things with teeth."

"I will keep watch over you."

Dean closed his eyes, satisfied he would be safe, that no dinosaur would eat him while he slept since yeah, an angel was watching over him.

He's pretty sure that wasn't what his mother had in mind when she used to say that to him.

***

It was late afternoon when Dean woke. He found Cas sitting beside him, knees drawn up, arms clasped around his legs. "Hey," Dean said, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. "So we're still here, huh?"

Cas nodded.

"Thought maybe it was all just a bad dream." Dean yawned, then dug through his bag and find an apple, wishing he had a cup of coffee. "How's the mojo?"

"Growing stronger," Cas said.

"Good." Dean saw his cell phone, which he had tossed in the bag earlier. He picked it up, rising to his feet. "Come on. Let's go for a walk."

"Dean, you can't make phone calls from here."

"No shit. But I can take pictures. Pictures of dinosaurs." Dean grinned. "Come on, Sammy will love it. At least, when he's back to being my brother again he will."

And Sam was going to be his brother again, because Dean was going to get his soul back. He was sure of that.

"And anyway, Bobby will get a kick out of it, too. Come on," Dean insisted. He hopped up onto the mossy field and motioned for Cas to follow him. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. At least it had better be."

Cas stood, a puzzled expression on his face. "You wish to photograph these creatures?"

"Dinosaurs, Cas," Dean explained. "In the flesh."

Dean headed toward the forest, Cas beside him. He took a bite of his apple. Now that he had gotten over his shock at the situation, there really was something cool about being in prehistoric era. He was certainly only human to have laid eyes on a living, breathing dinosaur. He wondered if Cas had been down on earth this early.

"Hey," Dean said as he walked, dragonflies bumping against his legs. "Cas, is past you upstairs right now?"

Cas lifted his eyes to the sky and nodded. "Yes."

"Doing what?" Dean remembered all too well what Cas had been like when they first met--solemn and focused, steadfast in his beliefs. More than a little scary.

"Training, most likely. The garrison has just been formed. Anna, Uriel, all of us, learning to work together. To fight together. As opposed to fighting each other. It was a very different time." Cas sounded mournful. "I was young, and innocent of the ways of our leaders."

Dean came to a halt in front of a small stream. "Maybe you should go up there and have a little chat," he suggested. "Set yourself straight."

"No," Cas said without hesitation.

"No?"

"I wouldn't change anything." Cas turned to Dean. "Rescuing you from hell, being on earth, being cast out of heaven for a time--I value those experiences."

Dean snorted. "I guess. Hell, I'd go back and change things if I could." He found a narrow area of the stream, and leaped over it in one easy stride, feet sinking into mud as he landed.

"Yes," Cas agreed, appearing next to Dean. "You would, wouldn't you? You always strive to make things better, no matter how impossible the odds."

"Yeah," Dean scoffed. "If I ever succeed, you'll be the first to know."

Cas seemed amused by his answer. "You already have, Dean, you just don't realize it yet."

"Not so sure about that." Dean was sure that Lisa and Ben wouldn't agree with him. Or Lisa's now-dead neighbors. He took one last bite of his apple, then tossed the core into the water. And frowned. "Oh, wait, I didn't just screw up history by doing that, did I?"

"I'm afraid so." Cas looked out over the stream where Dean's apple had landed. "When we return to our time we will find that find giant sentient apples have evolved and taken over the earth."

"Was that a joke?" Dean stared in astonishment. Then grew worried. "Please tell me that was a joke."

"Yes. It was a joke." Cas lifted his chin, looking awfully proud of himself.

Dean snorted. "Cas, you've been hanging out with me way too long." He shook his head. Then movement in the bushes ahead caught his eye. He patted Cas's shoulder. "Look, over there. Come on."

The variety of creatures was astonishing. Big, long-necked dinosaurs nibbling on treetops, little feathered creatures dashing through the undergrowth, brightly colored lizards scurrying up tree trunks, Dean could hardly decide which to photograph first. He tried to capture them all, instructing Cas to keep an eye out for anything that looked like it was about to attack.

With Cas watching his back, Dean had to admit, he was having fun. He had almost forgotten what it felt like.

"You think this will really work?" Dean asked as he pushed sand onto the remains of their campfire. Clouds hung low in the sky and a light drizzle began to fall.

"If I move us forward several million years at a time, yes," Cas said. "But I am concerned."

"About what?" Dean stood, slinging his bag up onto his shoulder.

"You."

"Me?"

"I don't understand any of this, Dean. You should not have been able to follow me to begin with. And to have traveled so far, I don't know if you could survive the trip back." Cas's brow furrowed. "Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Of course I'm sure." Dean grew uneasy. "It's not like I could stay here. Especially without you. I'd be dinosaur meat in no time."

"I would not leave you," Cas said. The intensity of his words startled Dean.

"I'll survive the trip," Dean told him firmly. "After all, I got here, right?"

"I don't understand it." Cas leaned closer, tiny droplets of water clinging to his hair. "Unless somehow, God's grace has left a mark on you." He touched his fingertips to Dean's forehead, eyes narrowing in concentration.

Dean could feel the warmth of Cas's fingers seeping into his skin. It seemed as though Cas was looking inside of him but instead of feeling invasive, it was oddly soothing. "Trust me," Dean said, closing his eyes. "There's no grace in there."

When Cas removed his hand, Dean opened his eyes again. He took a deep breath, bracing himself. "Come on. Let's hit the road."

Cas reached out and touched his shoulder.

With a flash of light they were standing in a heavy rainstorm, wind gusting around them. As Dean raised an arm to shield his face, he slipped in the mud, bumping up against Cas. A flash of lightening nearly blinded him. "Keep going," he shouted as Cas righted him.

Cas nodded. Another flash and they stood under clear skies this time, sun shining brightly. The ground shook beneath them and all Dean could see were creatures--big, heavy creatures thundering past. Dean grabbed Cas's arm, certain they were going to get trampled but Cas stood held his ground and again he was transported.

It was dark. Dean could barely breathe. The air was thick with smoke, choking him. He stood knee-deep in ash and when Dean squinted at the dark, blood-red sky, his eyes stung and watered. He coughed as he hung onto Cas's coat sleeve, dizzy and nauseous, his knees buckling beneath him. Cas wrapped an arm around his shoulders, holding him up. Swaying against Cas, Dean saw bright red stains on Cas's coat--blood. He wiped his face and his hand came back bloody. His nose was bleeding. He glanced up to find Cas gazing at him with concern, then Cas closed his eyes as if summing strength and all went white.

He was floating in a sea of white. Snow. Dean frowned, puzzled by the lack of cold. He was sure it was snow, but he couldn't feel it. He didn't feel cold at all. It was like being in a dream where nothing was real. Blue sky above, scattered puffy white clouds, bright sunlight and the effect on the snow and ice was dazzling.

He thought maybe he should be worried, but he was so tired, all he wanted to do was sleep.

Cas grabbed him by the shoulders. "Dean," he said, but Dean could scarcely hear him, the sound muffled as if he were under water.

Cas pulled him closer. "Dean," he said again, "say yes."

It didn't make any sense, but Cas looked scared, so Dean nodded. "Yes," he said. It was hard to draw in enough breath to speak.

Cas leaned in and wow, weird timing, but Dean leaned in to meet him anyway, expecting a kiss. A surge of warmth blew through his body and then he was more than warm, he was hot like the sun, searing heat, hot enough to melt his bones.

Firm, solid snow under his feet now and the air was cold, fucking cold, his breath puffing out white from his nose. Dean felt good. He felt better than good, he felt powerful, invincible, like he could take on this time travel business himself.

Then he saw the light emanating from his hands.

"Okay?" Cas was asking. "Dean, are you okay?"

"What the hell, Cas?" Dean asked, holding his hands out in front of him.

Cas touched his back, and they began to move forward in time again, but now Dean could see it happen. Awestruck, he watched the land change around him, trees growing tall and falling over dead, mountains rising, continents moving, new seas being created, animals changing and evolving and it was breathtaking, seeing the story of the earth play out before him. And in the center of it was Cas, steady and unchanging.

It came to an abrupt halt on a grassy hillside. A green lush valley stretched out below, animals moving in the distance, large herds grazing near a small body of water. Dean turned to Cas in time to see Cas crumple down toward the ground.

"Cas, hey--" Dean slipped an arm around Cas's shoulders, keeping him from falling flat. He knelt down, settling Cas safely on the ground. "Whoa there, buddy."

Cas leaned his head against Dean's shoulder. "I must rest a moment."

"Yeah, I can see that," Dean said, patting Cas's chest. Cas's face was pale gray, his breathing rapid and shallow. Yet Dean still felt fine. His senses were heightened--he heard the thud of hooves on the ground in the valley below, could see tiny insects moving through the grass nearby. He remembered the light under his skin and the clarity of the last part of their travel suddenly made sense. "You gave me some of your grace, didn't you?"

"Yes." Cas nodded. "You were fading. I was afraid I'd lose you."

"Cas," Dean said, exasperated. "Damn it."

Closing his eyes, Cas slumped against Dean's chest and went limp. Dean wrapped both arms around him, leaning against a nearby fallen log. He evaluated their surroundings--low bushes to the right, a rocky bluff above, a ravine to the right, low heavy trees just beyond. Small birds chattered in the bushes, something squirrel-like scurried up the truck of a tree. All seemed quiet and Dean allowed himself to relax, just a little. They appeared to be safe. For the moment, at least.

After a while Cas shifted in his arms and Dean was face to face with him, staring directly into Cas's very blue eyes. "Hey," Dean said, embarrassed by holding onto Cas so tightly. He loosened his grip, but Cas didn't pull away. "Feeling better?"

Cas nodded. The color was coming back to his skin, and his eyes had regained their sharp focus. "We've moved forward about one hundred million years," Cas said.

"Hey, only sixty million to go, right?" Dean said with an encouraging grin. "Piece of cake."

"Yes, Dean. It will be a breeze."

Cas's scowl was heartening. Clearly he was feeling better. "Do you want your grace back?" Dean asked. "Would that help?"

"It doesn't work that way. But it will slowly dissipate, so we should move on as soon as possible."

"Okay. Whenever you are ready," Dean said. Curiously, Cas still made no move to dislodge himself from Dean's embrace. Dean was reluctant to let him go. It felt good to have something solid to hang on to, he told himself.

Which didn't explain why, when Cas shifted again and leaned back against his chest, Dean found himself pulling Cas closer. He wrapped one arm around Cas's surprisingly narrow waist and slug the other across his chest, Cas's hair tickling his nose.

"You're remarkably comfortable," Cas said.

"Yeah, that's me. Your own personal armchair." Dean scoffed. "Now shut up and rest."

He felt Cas's faint huff of laughter and grinned. Truth was, Dean didn't mind waiting. Time travel was weird and disorienting and he wasn't ready to leap right into it again, even though he could still feel Cas's grace rippling through his body. Warm and electric, it was similar to how it felt to have Cas heal him. The very thought of harboring an angel's grace was disturbing, but Dean knew that if Cas hadn't done it, there would probably be bits of him scattered across eons. Dean was pretty sure it wouldn't be a good way to die.

The dangers of time travel seemed far away from the quiet, sunny hillside though, and after a while Dean began to relax, the sun warming his shoulders. He watched the animals grazing in the distance, milling about the grassy plain. They looked like buffalo, except for the crazy horns spiraling out from their heads. Dean's stomach growled, and he wondered how much longer it would be until his next meal. Those buffalo things probably would taste pretty damn good roasted over an open fire.

Dean cocked his head, alert. The area had suddenly grown quiet. No birds chattering, no little squirrely animals climbing around in the bushes. He tensed.

"This isn't good," he murmured.

Cas didn't respond, and Dean hoped to hell that he wasn't unconscious because something was moving behind the bushes, something big and slow and stealthy and that was never good.

"Uh, Cas?" Dean said, patting Cas's shoulder.

Cas still didn't move.

Dean caught a glimpse of it between the leaves. A cat of some sort, about about twenty yards away. A really big cat, with short sturdy legs and a thick body, its golden fur striped with brown. As it crept closer Dean could see its face--glowing green eyes, a long nose, tufts of white fur on its muzzle.

And fangs. Long, nasty-looking fangs, curving down from its mouth. They were being stalked by a saber-toothed tiger.

"You've got to be kidding me," Dean exclaimed.

Cas twitched, then drew in a deep breath.

"Cas?" Dean reached behind to get his gun, slowly pushing Cas to one side.

"Yes, Dean. I see it."

The tiger rounded the edge of the bushes and crouched down low, eyes on Dean. Dean slowly brought his arm around, cocking his gun and aiming it directly at the tiger's head. The tiger was enormous, and even assuming his shot hit the target right between the eyes, Dean wasn't sure it was enough to it out.

"Please tell me you have enough juice to deal with this."

"I have enough juice," Cas said, "to deal with this."

The tiger took a step forward. Cas raised a hand and the tiger slid back. It scrambled, trying to catch its footing. With a flick of his wrist, Cas shoved the tiger halfway down the hill. It turned and galloped away, crashing through the tall grass.

Dean breathed a sigh of relief, lowering his arm. "Can we move on now? Because I'm ready to move on. I just want to go home and fight demons and vampires and then have a great big cheeseburger. With fries. Lots of fries."

Cas stood, reaching a hand out to Dean. "Yes, Dean. I'm ready," he said as he helped Dean up. He seemed amused by Dean's outburst.

Dean glared at him as he stood. "Just click your heels and get on with it, Dorothy."

***

Dean woke with a start. He was laying on something weird. Something kind of uncomfortable and prickly. Something that threatened to engulf him. He opened his eyes and took a deep breath. It smelled good, though. Like a warm summer day.

Hay. He stretched an arm out, grabbing a handful of it. He was laying in pile of hay, Cas's coat covering him. Tucked in along the sides with special care. Dean grinned. He was in a barn, the sun was shining and he could hear the clop-clop of horses outside, hens clucking--hopefully not the killer kind--and a dog barking in the distance. No more dinosaurs, no more saber-toothed tigers.

He closed his eyes and dozed again. Then woke to a soft fluttering and opened his eyes to see Cas kneeling beside him. He looked odd without his coat.

"Hello, Dean." Cas gazed down at him warmly.

"Hi, Cas." Dean yawned. "Are we almost home?"

"A few hundred years short, I'm afraid. But we'll be there soon," Cas said. "How are you feeling?"

"Tired. But normal," Dean said. "I think the grace got used up." He was a little disappointed.

"That was to be expected." Cas reached an arm out and touched Dean's shoulder.

Dean started to protest that no, he was perfectly comfortable, he didn't want to get zapped anywhere, until he found himself laying on a bed. A genuine bed with blankets and pillows. He blinked at the sudden darkness and as his eyes adjusted he saw they were in a room with four walls and a fireplace filled with a bright, crackling fire and windows and drapes and even though it had only been a few days, Dean was never so glad to see civilization.

"Cas, you are awesome," he exclaimed happily. He pushed the trench coat aside, slipped off his dirt-encrusted boots and lay back against the pillows, reveling in the comfort.

Cas sat on the edge of the bed, seemingly pleased at Dean's reaction. "We need to rest before we move on. This may not be up to your usual motel standards, but it was the best I could do."

"It's no Shady Pines. Thank goodness. Seriously Cas, this is good." The room was downright elegant.

There was a knock at the door. Cas slid off the bed and opened it, greeting a young woman in a language Dean didn't recognize. She handed Cas a covered tray, spoke a few words and Cas hesitated, turning to Dean. "Are you in need of anything more?" he asked. "I had them bring food for you."

Food. Dean laughed out loud. It just kept getting better and better. "No, I think that's--oh, wait." His eyes lit upon a large tub, off to one side of the fireplace. "I really could use a bath."

Cas spoke to the girl and after a short conversation, she nodded and left. "It will be ready in a little while," Cas told him.

Dean sat up as Cas approached, snatching the tray from his hands. "How did you manage all this, anyway? What did you use for money? And how did you explain what we're wearing? Where are we?"

He lifted the cover of the tray. It held a large bowl filled with a fragrant stew, a chunk of brown bread on a plate beside it. Dean promptly forgot all his questions and dug in.

"This is delicious," he announced as he shoveled the food into his mouth. Rich, dark gravy, chewy meat and a variety of unfamiliar vegetables, he didn't want to know what he was eating, all he knew was that it was good. He belched loudly, then grinned at Cas.

Cas raised an eyebrow. "Apparently so."

"Hey, I haven't eaten in, like, a million years," Dean told him. He watched as Cas picked up a jug from on the bedside table, lifted the lid and sniffed. "What's that?"

Cas held it up for Dean to sniff. It smelled sour and yeasty. Dean wrinkled his nose in dismay. "Beer?" he asked.

"What passes for beer in this era," Cas said, handing it to Dean.

Dean sniffed again. "Not too sure about his."

"It will be safer than drinking the water," Cas said.

"Seriously?" Dean took a sip from the side of the jug. It tasted bitter and there was no fizz whatsoever. He shrugged, then took a larger gulp. "I've had worse."

He finished his food and drank more of the beer, its relaxing warmth flowing through his body. Another knock at the door and a series of boys came in, lugging buckets of steaming water and spilling them into the tub. Last was the maid again, with a stack of towels and a bar of soap. As soon as the water carriers left, Dean bounced out of bed and headed for the tub. He dipped a hand in the water--it was hot, all right.

Straightening up, Dean pulled his shirt off over his head and unzipped his jeans. "I've got one hundred million year old road dust on me," he said, pushing his jeans down. "And probably brontosaurus poop, too. I'm more than ready to wash it off."

"You have developed a certain aroma," Cas agreed, sitting on the edge of the bed again, hands clasped on his lap. He hadn't put the coat back on and he looked different without it, more human in his dark rumpled suit, his shirt untucked, tie loose and pulled to one side.

"Are you telling me I stink?" Dean pulled his briefs off and tossed them on the floor.

Cas stared, eyes widening, before looking away. "I believe that is the term." He turned and doggedly watched the fire.

"What's the matter, Cas?" Amused by Cas's reaction, Dean looked down at his own body. "Never seen a naked body before? I've got the same junk you have."

"I'm aware of that," Cas said, but he stole a glance at Dean as if to make sure. "Very much aware."

Dean was tempted to tease Cas further, to see how far he could push Cas but he truly was filthy--arms streaked with dirt, the back of his neck itchy with dried sweat. Grabbing the soap and washrag, he swung a leg over into the deep tub, carefully dipping a toe in first to judge the temperature. Deciding it was just right, he settled into the water. It came halfway up his chest, engulfing him in soothing, delicious heat.

He groaned happily. "Oh man. This is fantastic."

Leaning back, he ducked his head under water then rubbed the soap over his hair, fingers digging into his scalp. Not much lather, but it did the job. "Oh yeah," he crooned, splashing water up over his head.

"Normally, I'm a shower kind of guy. But baths can be pretty awesome," Dean said, soaping up the washrag. "Even bubble baths. But don't you dare tell anyone I said that."

"Your secret is safe with me," Cas assured Dean gravely.

"You ever take a shower, Cas? Or a bath?"

"I haven't had the need," Cas said. He watched Dean openly now, brow furrowed with interest.

"Then you're really missing out." Dean scrubbed his armpits. "One of life's simple pleasures. Like sex. Not that sex is always simple. It can be just as much fun when it's complicated."

"I wouldn't know." Cas sounded almost wistful.

"Still haven't done the deed?" Dean turned to Cas, hooking an arm around the outside of the tub and leaning toward him, dripping water onto the wooden floor. "No wonder you're always so cranky."

Cas narrowed his eyes."I've been busy."

Dean sat back, rinsing the soap from his chest. "Lisa had these friends with a hot tub on their deck. You know, with the jets? Now that was really something. Fucking awesome. You need to give it a try."

He lifted a leg and began soaping up his foot, aware of Cas's eyes on him as he washed. While it was weird to bathe with an audience, he appreciated Cas's open curiosity and wondered, not for the first time, what it would be like to get down and dirty with Cas. To show Cas how awesome sex could be. He was pretty sure Cas would like it. After all, Cas deserved to have some fun.

Dean scrubbed his skin until the water began to cool and grow cloudy with soap scum and dirt. Dean put the soap and washrag aside and with one final rinse of his arms, grabbed the sides of the tub and stood, water running down his body in rivulets. He was as clean as he was going to get, skin flushed pink from his efforts. Glancing around, he spotted the towels on a nearby table.

"Cas, could you hand me a towel?" he asked.

Cas stood, then hesitated.

Dean shook his head, disappointed. "Never mind." He swung his legs over the tub, climbing out carefully, and when he straightened, Cas was standing in front of him with a towel in his hand, eyes resolutely on Dean's face. Dean took the towel and rubbed it over his head. Cas didn't move away.

What the hell, Dean decided. He may as well go for it. "You can do more than just look," he said. "If it's what you want."

Cas breathed in sharply as he stepped back. "Dean, I--" he hesitated, apparently at a loss for words.

"Look," Dean said. "I'm just putting it out there, okay? An invitation." He turned and moved closer to the the fire, rubbing the towel over his chest. A minute went by, then two and Dean was ready to write it off. He had misjudged Cas's interest. Hell, it had been a long shot anyway.

A floorboard creaked, then cool fingers settled on Dean's hip. "I accept your invitation," Cas whispered, lips brushing Dean's neck.

With a shiver of excitement Dean dropped the towel and turned, taking hold of the lapels of Cas's suit jacket so he couldn't back away. Not this time. He met Cas's eyes and he couldn't hold back his smile.

"This makes you glad." Cas skimmed his fingertips over the curve of Dean's lips.

"Yeah." Dean turned his face into Cas's touch, lips pressing against Cas's palm. He was still wet, water puddling on the floor as he pressed his body flush against Cas. He pushed Cas's suit jacket off, letting it fall to the floor. "I think you're going to be pretty glad, too."

Cas's belt buckle was cold against Dean's stomach as he pressed his lips to Cas's mouth. At first Cas kissed carefully, but soon Cas's fingers were digging into Dean's hip, breath puffing against Dean's cheek as he grew less careful, one hand coming up to hold Dean's head steady as he figured it all out. He kissed Dean with intent, kissing as if he fucking owned Dean's mouth, until Dean was hard and breathless and pressing his hips against Cas's solid, unyielding body to rub his cock against the wool pants of Cas's suit.

"Come on," Dean panted, hand fisted in the back of Cas's shirt. "Get your damn clothes off. Now."

Cas tried to step back as he pulled his tie off, but Dean wouldn't let him, it felt too good having Cas so close. He kept one hand at the small of Cas's back, sliding the other down along Cas's crotch, pleased to find that Cas already growing hard. When Dean rubbed his palm over the curve of Cas's cock, Cas shuddered and groaned, abandoning the buttons on his shirt to grab Dean and kiss him again. He slid his hands down over Dean's ass and hauled him in, pressing his cock against Dean's thigh.

It was clumsy and frantic and Dean was pretty sure he was going end up with a swollen lip and bruises on his ass and scratches on his stomach from that damn belt buckle. But it was all so fucking awesome he didn't care.

With murmured words and a little shoving he managed to convince Cas that they should be on the bed, and as Cas lay back Dean held him flat with a hand on his chest and unbuckled that damn belt before unfastening Cas's pants and pushing a hand inside. Hot, sleek cock rising up to meet him and Cas looked perfectly dumbfounded as Dean stroked.

"Told you you'd be glad." With a broad grin, Dean shoved Cas's pants down to his thighs and kissed Cas's pale, exposed stomach.

Cas gasped and grabbed Dean's shoulders, hips twisting and restless as Dean nuzzled a sharply defined hipbone. He held Cas's cock in his hand, rubbing gently, listening to the small, desperate noises Cas made every time he squeezed. Then Dean put his mouth over Cas's cock and sucked him down.

A startled moan, and Cas's entire body jerked as he came, flooding Dean's mouth with sharp-tasting come. Dean didn't expect it, not so soon, but he sucked Cas dry and swallowed it all even though seriously, it wasn't his most favorite thing in the world to do--then pulled off and pressed a gentle kiss to the tip.

He crawled up over Cas, the head of his cock leaving a wet trail on Cas's skin. Cas stared up at him breathlessly, shirt still half-buttoned, and the shocked expression on his face warmed Dean to his very core.

"That was," Cas frowned as if searching for the right word. "Awesome?"

"Yes," Dean said with a grin. "I most certainly am."

"And sudden." Cas still seemed puzzled.

"Don't worry. There will be more. We're just getting started." Dean leaned down to kiss him. "Now will you get your damn clothes off?"

Cas glanced down as if surprised to see he still was wearing a shirt. In a moment he had it unbuttoned, then slipped it off, and kicked off his pants. Dean's cock still rested on Cas's stomach, and each movement sent shivers through his body. But Cas wasn't quite done yet.

"Socks," Dean added, raising an eyebrow.

Cas complied, and then he was naked. The evening had grown dark, and the light from the fireplace flickered, shadows dancing on Cas's skin and he really did look beautiful, all angles and sharp curves, his body entirely different than Lisa's. Dean sat back, straddling Cas's hips. He ran his hands over Cas's chest, taking in the warm skin and hard muscle. It had been a long time since he had done been with a guy, and in the past it had been all about getting down to business. It had never been like this, with Dean wanting to take the time to touch, to look. To indulge. To see the astonished and delighted expression on Cas's face.

It was so much better than the grim frustration he usually saw there.

Dean was startled out of his reverie when Cas sat up, his hands moving up Dean's body, over his chest and neck to gently cup his face. Cas kissed him, a sweet, slow kiss yet it still took Dean's breath away and he squirmed, moving his hips and pushing his cock against Cas's stomach.

"Cas, come on," Dean said. "Please."

"What would you like?" Cas asked.

Dean took Cas's hand in his and guided it down to his cock. He was more than happy to let Cas explore, leaning back as Cas ran his fingers over the shaft, groaning as Cas squeezed him tighter, seemingly fascinated skin moving over hard flesh. Forehead furrowed with concentration, Cas reached underneath to cup Dean's balls and Dean rose up on his knees, whimpering as Cas reached his other hand around to his ass. He clung to Cas's shoulders, face pressed against Cas's hair as Cas's fingers slid down between his cheeks, touching his opening.

"This makes you glad, too?" Cas asked.

"Oh yeah." Dean wanted all kinds of crazy things when Cas touched him like that. "Real glad."

Pushing his cock into Cas's hand, Dean showed Cas how to stroke his cock with just the right amount of pressure. When Cas tried to move his hand from Dean's ass, Dean reached back, holding it in place. "Put your finger inside me," he said roughly. "Just a little."

Skin still damp from his bath and Cas pushed a finger in easily. Dean groaned, knees buckling as he rocked in Cas's lap. Cas's hand wrapped around his cock, Cas's finger inside him, Cas's mouth on his neck and Dean moaned helplessly, lost in the sensation. Trapped on Cas's lap and surrounded by pleasure no matter how he moved, it was too fantastic to last. He held out as long as he could, until he was trembling and breathless and then he came, thrusting hard as his orgasm rolled through him in waves. By time he was done he had eased down onto Cas's lap again, heading hanging over Cas's shoulder as he tried to catch his breath.

"All right then," Dean gasped, then snorted with laughter. "Damn, Cas." He raised his head and was startled to see Cas smiling.

Apparently coming all over him was all it took.

"I enjoyed doing that." Cas looked extremely pleased with himself.

Dean was pretty damn pleased, too. "More fun than just looking, eh?"

"Much more." Cas nuzzled his his neck.

Dean kissed him, then slid off Cas's lap and fell back on the bed, tugging Cas down alongside. Cas was impressively hard again and Dean reached between his legs, fondling his balls. "You get a gold star for your first time," Dean said.

Cas rolled to face him, pushing himself into Dean's hand. "What do I get for my second time?"

Dean thought for a moment, sliding his hand up Cas's shaft and fingering the slit of his cock. "A really big orgasm?"

"I would like that."

Spoken with such earnestness, and Dean had to smile. "Sex. It's a gift that keeps on giving."

He kissed Cas's sinful mouth, then slid down and nuzzled Cas's chest as he squeezed Cas's cock, eliciting a sharp moan. He found a nipple and licked it until it went hard, then sucked and scraped his teeth gently over it as he ran a thumb over dampness at the tip of Cas's cock. All the while Cas made small, desperate noises, his hands fluttering over Dean's back and neck, as if unsure of where to land.

Dean wanted to take it slow this time, to show Cas how incredibly good it could be. He kissed his way down over Cas's ribs, lips drifting over soft skin. Cas still lying on his side, a long stretch of pale skin, his body lean and narrow. Cas's stomach was streaked with Dean's come and Dean ran finger through it, feeling the muscles beneath twitch and shudder.

Easing further down, Dean propped his head on a hand and looked at Cas's cock resting in his palm. Now that things were a little less crazy he could really look. Long and thick, smooth round head, and the skin felt velvety smooth as he ran his thumb over it.

"Dean," Cas said with a sigh. He rolled his hips restlessly.

Dean grinned. "Look who's getting impatient." He leaned forward and licked the head, teasing.

Cas's hips jerked forward. "Dean," he said again, a low frustrated growl this time and yeah, it was kind of hot.

Another lick but then Dean wanted Cas's cock in his mouth. He didn't know when that became such a thing for him, but apparently it was, because sucking the full length of it into his mouth felt insanely good, enough to make his own spent dick twitch. He played with Cas's sacs as he sucked, then reached further back, cupping Cas's ass and pushing him forward, encouraging Cas to rock into his mouth and when Cas swung a leg over his shoulder Dean loved it, loved feeling surrounded by Cas, the warmth of his body, the smell of his skin, the weight pressing down onto him.

Dean took his time, sliding his tongue over and around the shaft as he fingered Cas's hole, taking a moment to wet his finger in his mouth before reaching back around and slipping it inside.

"Oh," Cas said softly. He reached behind, covering Dean's hand with his.

Dean hummed encouragement, making Cas gasp, then sucked Cas's cock deep into his mouth, until it hit the back of his throat. Pulling back, he focused on the head, pushing his finger deeper inside of Cas's tight hole and Cas began to moan, cock growing thicker. Dean wrapped a hand around the base just as Cas came, hips moving sharply, his cock slipping out of Dean mouth and Dean used his hand to coax every last bit of pleasure out of him, warm come spattering his cheek and jaw.

Dean shuddered with delight. He shouldn't like it so much, but he did.

As Cas eased down to gentle tremors, Dean pressed his face against Cas's hip. He nosed Cas's pubic hair and breathed in deep before sighing, relaxed and content.

A hand touched his hair. "Dean."

With a low grunt, Dean rolled back onto the bed, easing his hand from between Cas's legs. Cas reached for him, tugging him gently by the shoulders at first, then actually lifting Dean as if he weighed nothing, bringing him up and onto his chest.

Dean laughed. It was easy to forget Cas's unearthly strength. Especially after sucking his cock. "Cas," he said, wiping a smear of come from his cheek. "What's with the manhandling?"

"I wished to kiss you." And Cas did kiss him, soft lips and wet tongue and Dean considered spending the rest of his life doing just this--lying in bed, kissing, letting Cas work out every angle. He stretched out, stomach sliding against Cas's come-slicked skin and Cas took his weight easily, hands moving slow and soothing over Dean's back.

"Thank you Dean," Cas said, simple and heartfelt. "For all of this."

"My pleasure," Dean replied, nose brushing against Cas's. "Literally." He couldn't help smiling because yeah, he was feeling smug. Cas looked downright happy and Dean was sure that was an accomplishment of sorts.

Naked and happy Cas. It was something Dean could get used to.

He slid off Cas and yawned, scratching his stomach, then rolled onto his side and ran a hand over Cas's chest. Dean felt as though he had discovered some kind of secret of the universe, that Cas actually had a body under all those clothes. And that it looked this damn good.

But it couldn't last. Their merry jaunt through time had come to an end. Soul-stealing demons and rebel angels awaited them. "We should probably get going," Dean said, forcing himself to sit up.

"No," Cas said. "I think it's wise that I rest a while before we return. I should be full strength when we get back. Anything less would be a risk." Cas's eyes shifted to the bed covers as he spoke.

Dean was suspicious, but when Cas pulled him back down on the bed, he went willingly, tucking himself against Cas's side. After a moment he closed his eyes, sighing contentedly as he drifted, half-asleep. He was vaguely aware of Cas's lips brushing his cheek and Cas's hands sliding over his skin with a gentle, affectionate touch and it made his chest tight to think that it would all be over soon.

***

Yawning, Dean retrieved the damp towel from the floor and cleaned himself off. He felt better after a few hours of sleep, but as he watched Cas pick up his scattered items of clothing from the floor, he wanted nothing more than to climb back in bed and pull Cas back in with him.

Shaking his head, Dean reached for his clothes. He knew they were disgustingly filthy, but he didn't have anything cleaner in his bag. But his hands touched soft, clean fabric, and they smelled freshly laundered. "Cas," he said, after a moment of puzzled staring. "Thanks."

"It was self defense." Cas was seated on the bed, buttoning up his shirt. "As I mentioned, you had developed a certain aroma. As did your clothes."

"You're a handy guy to have around." Dean pulled his shirt on over his head, then reached for his briefs. "Speaking of which," he said without looking up, "you going to be around some more? Once we get back?"

"Dean," Cas placed a hand on Dean's shoulder, startling him. Dean hadn't heard him approach.

Dean didn't turn around."Yeah?"

"I will return whenever possible to see you." Cas's voice was low and full of promise.

Dean nodded and leaned back, letting Cas take his weight. "I'm going to hold you to that." As Cas kissed the back of his neck, Dean felt lighter than he had in a long time.

***

They rematerialized in the Shady Pines Motel parking area, just minutes after the banishing. As Dean had suspected, the vampires were still there, at the other end of the driveway. They were too busy arguing with one another to notice their return and Dean grinned as he and Cas crept up behind them. This was going to be good.

Cas raised his hand, spun his sword, then nodded to Dean. Dean nodded in reply, unsheathed knife in hand.

"Hey guys, guess who's back," Dean announced.

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