It was a Sunday brunch of sorts around the table later, nothing fancy — toaster waffles and jam and lots of coffee. Castiel ate like he’d never eaten before, causing amused smiles from the Winchesters and Bobby as he wolfed down waffles. “What?” he said self-consciously, wiping his mouth with his hand. “I’m hungry. I don’t remember the last time I ate.”
“It’s fine,” Dean said, patting his back. “You eat all you want.” Castiel smiled at him and Dean beamed back, happier than he could remember being for weeks.
“So,” Sam said, helping himself to more waffles, and Bobby got up with a sigh to put more in the toaster, “what exactly are you planning to do, Cas?”
“Exactly?” He chewed and swallowed his mouthful. “I don’t know, exactly. What do you think I should do, Dean?”
“Well,” Dean said, and the look Sam and Bobby exchanged didn’t escape him, “I don’t know, either. We’ll need to find you a job, I guess. We know people who can make fake IDs, so that’s not a problem. I guess we just figure out what you can do.”
“I don’t know how to do anything aside from be an angel.” Castiel frowned.
“We’ll figure something out. Maybe you could help out Bobby with the wrecking yard until you get on your feet.” Dean looked at Bobby, his eyebrows raised, and Bobby nodded. “And then when you’re ready, strike out on your own.”
“Oh,” Castiel said and put down his knife and fork.
“Oh . . . what?”
“I’d hoped to be with you,” he said, looking at Dean seriously.
“Oh,” Dean said, “well, yeah, I come by here all the time. And when I do, we could — um –” He looked at Sam, at a loss. What did he have to offer a new human being, after all? He didn’t know the first thing about teaching someone how to live. “We could see each other pretty often, really. You know. Between jobs.”
“Yes,” Castiel said and pushed away his plate.
Dean had planned to hit the road again that day, but with Castiel here he didn’t want to leave just yet. They spent the day helping Bobby with his bookcases, and Dean kept sneaking glances at Castiel. This person was not his Castiel and yet he was, with his graceful hands that handled the books so reverently, his slim tempting hips and dark unruly hair. Even his eyes were almost but not quite the same — wide and calm and intensely blue, but missing something. Angelic innocence, maybe.
After supper — which Sam cooked, because Bobby’s repertoire was exhausted and no one wanted Dean’s offer of Spaghetti-Os and cheese toast — Dean found Castiel out on the front porch, drinking a glass of water and watching the sunset. He bumped his knee against Castiel’s, hoping for a smile, but Castiel didn’t look at him.
“Hey,” Dean said and bumped his knee again.
Castiel said softly, “You don’t want me here.”
Dean gaped a moment. “What? No, Cas, of course I do. But you just show up and tell me I’m supposed to show you how to live and –and how come you weren’t sent back as a baby, like Anna?”
Castiel sipped his water. “Would you have preferred that I had?”
Dean looked out at the wrecking yard, feeling weary. “No. I’m just confused, I guess. I mean, where’d you get this body? You told me you didn’t have one of your own.”
“It is a gift from Sophia.”
“A gift . . . so . . .” He hardly dared to say it out loud. “So it’s just yours?”
“Just mine. No one else’s.” Castiel started to smile back at him.
“So,” Dean said slowly, “we can . . . do stuff and you won’t feel guilty about it.”
“Yes,” Castiel said, definitely smiling now.
“Oh, thank God,” Dean exhaled, “we can fuck now.” At Castiel’s amused look he added hastily, “I mean, when you’re ready, when you want to, when we both want to –”
Dean shut his mouth. This was definitely his Castiel — he said his name in that same calm, affectionate way.
Castiel was quiet a moment, arms crossed over his knee. The Fisher sisters — or Sophia, whatever form she was taking now — had not put him in a suit, which Dean found a little strange, but just jeans and a t-shirt and work boots much like his own. Castiel’s arms looked thin and pale, like he’d never spent any time outdoors.
Of course, Dean thought, he hasn’t.
Castiel said, “But how could I leave you, Dean? How could I leave you . . . wondering?”
“Thank you for that,” Dean said quietly, “but, Cas, hunting . . . it’s no life for an amateur. Stay with Bobby and Sam and I’ll be back every few weeks to check in. You’ll be safe here. I want you safe.”