Title: Put an X Where I Lost My Way
Pairing: Castiel/Dean Winchester
Warning: Angst, violence (offstage), sex
Word Count: 2000
Summary: All he has in the world is a fallen angel who’s now gently stroking his hair.
Notes: I started this for my before season 5 began, based on publicity stills and spoilers for “The End.” By the time the episode was broadcast I realized the fic was too far off to be completed in any way I’d be happy with.
But there are some good parts in it and I didn’t want to just let it sit in my unfinished folder. While writing I’d made a soundtrack, and once my actual bigbang was posted I realized the soundtrack was more about this story than that one. Hence, ficmix.
- Benediction — The Weakerthans ♫
Here’s a marker, here’s my naked skin, our exhibit A,
Put an X where I lost my way
Castiel find him on the side of a Texas highway as the sky rains down ash and dust. He stands beside the Impala, his expression mild, and Dean is the first to speak. “All of this is my fault.”
“Dean,” Castiel’s voice is gentle, “there is still hope.”
“How?” He can’t look at Castiel.
“You are not dead. We will find Lucifer and you will kill him.”
“Lucifer,” Dean whispers, “has my brother.”
Castiel pulls Dean gently out of the Impala. He holds Dean’s face, a gesture that normally means comfort, peace, acceptance. Dean still can’t meet his eyes, can’t look him in the face. He wants to rage at him, push him away, tell him to go away and never come back.
Instead he kisses Castiel desperately, his fists clutching the raincoat and his hips pressing insistently against Castiel’s slim body. Castiel response is not to push him away, as Dean thought he might, but to kiss him back, lips parting and fingers curling into his hair.
“I don’t know what to do,” Dean chokes out.
Castiel’s voice is soft. “Neither do I.”
- You Keep Me From Breaking Apart — Apoptygma Berzerk ♫
You understand the chaos in my head
Only you understand every word I say
You restore my soul and erase all hurt,
The hurt only you can take away
His hand is on Castiel’s chest. Castiel’s heart beats like a person’s, thump-thump-thump, and Dean has a sudden need to feel it under his mouth. He is unceremonious: one moment Castiel is holding him, comforting him, and the next Dean rips open his shirt, buttons popping everywhere, and sucks Castiel’s pale skin up between his teeth.
If Castiel doesn’t want it, he doesn’t mention it. His breath speeds up when Dean licks his chest, whimpers with surprise when Dean wraps a hand around his cock. He says, “Dean,” in a soft, hungry voice and tugs on Dean’s t-shirt, and when he kisses Dean again, lips open, Dean believes for a moment that maybe it will work out, maybe he’ll wake up and everything will be normal.
It’s fleeting. It only lasts until he’s panting in Castiel’s arms, sweat drying on his skin, and then everything crashes back into place and he remembers Sam is gone and all he has in the world is a fallen angel who’s now gently stroking his hair.
- City of Black and White — Mat Kearney ♫
No one else knows
Take my hand
I’ll carry you
You can carry me
Dean and Castiel are reduced to stolen moments to have some time alone. They don’t talk about it, don’t try to define what they are or what they’re doing. Dean gives Castiel a look or touches his shoulder, or sometimes–rarely, because Castiel rarely asks for anything he wants, so rarely that Dean wonders if he ever wants anything–Castiel takes hold of one of Dean’s fingers or wrist and then lets it go, and they leave the crowded hotel room or the circle around the campfire and find a back seat or a dark thicket and kiss each other desperately, touch until it’s better. It’s only better for a little while, but Dean will take five seconds of sated peace over no peace at all.
He wraps himself around Castiel at night and Castiel whispers to him, “Rest, Dean. We’ll find our way.”
Dean tries to believe him, but it hurts to have hope.
- Riches and Wonders — the Mountain Goats ♫
You find shelter somewhere in me
I find great comfort in you
I keep you safe from harm
You hold me in your arms
I want to go home
But I am home
No one knows Castiel is an angel. They think he’s just another man, a quiet and serious one. They do pick up, however, that he and Dean are a couple. Dean winces when he thinks that, but he also knows there’s no other word for it. It’s hard to miss when he and Castiel go to the same tent every night, and no matter how they try to muffle their cries some moan or curse always escapes, and since he sports a new hickey almost every day he can’t exactly hide that he’s getting some, regular and appreciated.
(He hates that no matter how hard he sucks on Castiel’s neck, the mark is always gone by morning. Castiel gives him an amused look whenever he complains, which is even worse.)
- In the Sun — Joseph Arthur ♫
When you showed me myself you know I became someone else
But I was caught between all you wish for and all you need
“Why do you stay?” he whispers to Castiel as the angel brushes his fingers over Dean’s ribs as if making sure they’re all still in place. “Why do you stay with me?”
Castiel is quiet for a while. “Because there is nowhere else I want to be.”
- I’ll See You Soon — Coldplay ♫
So they came for you
They came snapping at your heels
They come snapping at your heels
But don’t break your back
If you ever say this
But don’t answer life
One morning Dean reaches for him, cold, and opens his eyes when Castiel isn’t there. This troubles him only a little. Castiel doesn’t have to ask Dean’s permission to leave, after all, and he’s capable of taking care of himself.
He waits all day. No Castiel. Dean doesn’t send out a search party. Where would they look?
In the middle of the night, Jo brings Chuck to Dean’s tent. Chuck is drunk, no one knows where he got the whiskey from but Dean doesn’t put it past him to walk all day to loot a liquor store, and weeping. “He won’t stop crying,” Jo says, at the end of her patience with him, and Chuck drapes himself over Dean.
“I’m sorry, Dean,” he weeps. “I’m so sorry.”
“Too late for that,” Dean mutters and awkwardly pats his back.
“The angels can’t save him, either.”
Everything inside Dean goes cold, and Jo gasps and covers her mouth with her hands to hide it. “Sam?” she whispers.
“No,” says Chuck. “Castiel. Demons have Castiel.”
- I Miss You — Incubus ♫
You do something to me that I can’t explain.
So would I be out of line if I said,
I miss you.
They pour coffee into him and Chuck finally explains. The camp is being watched, demons waiting for their moment, but the wards the hunters have placed are too strong for them to breach. But Castiel often wanders in the night, since he doesn’t need to sleep, and he wandered too far. He wandered to where they were waiting with weapons and traps, and they took him.
“What are they doing to him, Chuck?” Dean asks, voice tight.
“What do you think?” Chuck snaps, and Dean has a flash to a movie from his childhood, of Aslan the Lion tied to the stone table, shaved and muzzled, and finally tortured and tormented by the dark creatures of Narnia. Like that, only worse, because he always thought Aslan was kind of ridiculous and Castiel is not an allegory or a fictional construct. Castiel is not abstract.
“So what do we do?” Dean says. “We go in and save him, right? How do we do that, Chuck?”
Chuck gulps his coffee and coughs. “I haven’t seen that,” he mutters into the cup and Dean strides away to keep from punching him.
- Unsaid — the Fray ♫
We’re both pretty sure
Neither one can tell
We seem difficult
What we got is hard as hell
He’d pray, but the only being he thinks would listen is Castiel and there’s no point in praying to him about himself.
He thinks about the good things instead, remembers the first kiss by the road side when the end began, remembers the way Castiel rolls his eyes and smiles at him when Dean makes a dirty joke, remembers the taste of Castiel’s skin under his tongue, remembers the way Castiel fits their bodies together and holds him tight when Dean wakes from a nightmare about Hell, remembers how it felt to kick back at the end of the day and lean against him and feel Castiel’s hand on his back or his arm around Dean’s shoulders. How it felt, really, to be loved.
Dean tells himself he’ll have all these things again if he just believes.
And, he thinks dryly, if he claps his hands hard enough he’ll bring the pixies back to life, too.
- This Unavoidable Thing Between Us — Evermore ♫
When we walk away, we only grow more near
When we turn away, it all becomes so clear
This unavoidable thing, joining us
It’s so cold the creek is frozen and they have to hack through it with pickaxes to get water. Dean is awakened by shouts, someone shouting his name. He runs out to the main campfire, expecting fire, demons, the cavalry–instead there is a body, white and shivering and wrapped in Jackson’s coat. Jackson gasps, “It’s Castiel, I heard them dump him in the woods and he’s freezing, Dean, he’s alive.”
“Cas,” Dean whispers and holds Castiel’s face. It is Castiel, and his sunken eyes flutter open a moment, and his dry lips move. “Sh, don’t talk,” Dean says and kisses his lips. “I’ll take care of you.” He takes Castiel from Jackson’s arms and carries him to their tent. He wraps Castiel in their blankets and gives Jackson back his coat, and tries not to hover when the doctor arrives, boots pulled over her pajamas, to look Castiel over. Other people have gathered too, children who’ve missed him, friends he’d made, Ellen and Jo and Chuck. Chuck looks particularly frightened, as if he’s seen how this ends and wants a rewrite.
- If You Need A Reason — Mason Jennings ♫
all that’s missing, all that’s lost
every hope at any cost
every dream too good to come true
floods my heart when I’m with you
Castiel has been different ever since the archangel exploded him, but he’s even more different now. He’s always been solemn and focused, his smiles rare and mostly caused by something Dean says. And now he’s . . . it’s like he’s lost something, something inside, and Dean doesn’t know how to find it for him.
Too many mysteries. Dean is exhausted by them, and focuses on just living.
- Dust in the Sunlight — the Editors ♫
You mean more to me each day
And you mean everything, everything
“Dean,” he says, and Dean says, “Yeah,” and Castiel looks at him, straight in the eyes like he hasn’t since he was returned. They gaze at each other. Dean lets his gaze follow the lines of Castiel’s face, his sharp cheekbones, the slim line of his jaw, the way his hair falls over his forehead.
“I missed you,” he says, which he hasn’t said aloud for a long time.
“I would like to kiss you,” Castiel whispers, and lowers his eyes as if he’s afraid he’ll be rebuffed.
“You can, Cas,” Dean says and holds his face and kisses him. “You can kiss me as much as you want.”
When they part Dean almost pulls him back by his thin t-shirt, but just holds him instead, fingers flexing in the cotton. Castiel says, “You love me,” in an uncertain tone.
“Like crazy,” Dean says.
Dean huffs. “Because you turned my world upside down,” he says and lets go of Castiel’s shirt. “Because I hate living without you. Because making you laugh feels like winning the lottery. Because you pulled me out of Hell. Because I can’t help it. Because you came along and I couldn’t see anything but you.”
Castiel smiles again, em and fleeting, and then burrows under the blankets to kiss Dean’s hips. “Dean?” he whispers again. “Where did I go?”
- Gravity — Embrace ♫
Can you hear my heart beating? Can you hear that sound?
‘Cause I can’t help crying, and I won’t look down.
Dean had heard the expression “the world will move on” in a few contexts but never quite knew what it meant in real terms until now. It means, he thinks, that everything changes, that what was true yesterday isn’t true today and vice-versa, that you have to adapt or die.
Because that’s the other thing about the world moving on: no matter where the world moves, life continues. Otherwise it wouldn’t matter, would it? The world would go on turning and no one would notice but the alien explorers who might find this funny little world in a few centuries and try to puzzle out their lives from what was left behind.
And the reason he thinks about this is because a few months after Castiel is returned, the camp has its first birth. There have always been children–some with only one parent, some tended by an older sibling or taken under the wing of a neighbor–but this is the first baby conceived after the Croatoan virus, and Dean is taken aback by the wonder of it all.
He tries to explain it to Castiel. “Here we are, people barely getting by, not sure if there will even be tomorrow, and now we’ve got a new life. A completely new life. This is why we’re hiding in the forest instead of letting the virus take us. Don’t you think?”
Castiel sits cross-legged in the opening of the tent, sewing up holes in their t-shirts. “Biology,” he says succinctly and bites off a thread with his teeth.
“More than that. Hope.”
Samson — Regina Spektor ♫
And the history books forgot about us
And the Bible never mentioned us
Not even once