log; destiel WHO: Dean & Cas WHEN: Super late Monday night/super early Tuesday morning. Hard to tell. WHERE: Dean's ~dream~. No, really. WHAT: Cas crashes Dean's dream. It's kind of sad and kind of cute. WARNING(S): None!
Dean's dreams were usually nightmares.
He'd be the first to say that his head was just a bag of cats. He felt crowded at the best of times. With new things coming up year after year, their shape and form was always changing. A few years ago, he'd seen Hell every time he closed his eyes; now it seemed like everything else was fighting for space in his sleep. Some mornings he just woke up with a vague ache in his chest, feeling like the inside of him had burned in the night, the way some people woke from dreams about running with sore legs. It helped to fall asleep to some kind of noise, but that only went so far.
When he was lucky, there were nights when he fell asleep and saw something calm and bittersweet. Dean's dreams were always vivid, even the good ones.
Tonight, he'd been up late again, writing in a leather-bound journal he'd found in one of the warehouses. His father's journal had been in a pod drop months ago, filled up until the last few pages with what was left of John Winchester's life, and had been sitting on his nightstand ever since. In the days after Halloween, Dean had gotten it in his head to do the same thing his father had, writing down the jobs he could remember the clearest and stories that compelled him to keep the book strapped shut and hidden when he wasn't opening it himself. Someday when he was gone or unavailable, someone would open it and see the things he couldn't say out loud, and the best he could do was hope that person could have a little sympathy.
Dean fell asleep in his clothes, propped up on his pillows and the book open in his lap, his pen pinned under his hand.
In his dream, it was a mild day in the midwest, with white clouds dotting the sky and casting perfect shadows on the dirt road and the green grass. Dean drove with the windows down, a bag of takeout sandwiches on the seat next to him and the radio blaring Seger. He sang along (though he couldn't tell you exactly what song it was), and nearly managed to be on key.
Pulling into the Bunker's garage, he climbed out of the car and took the bag of food with him. Inside the door, he nearly tripped, then looked down to see a pile of shoes: a pair of gigantic boots that had to be Sam's, the dress shoes that Cas always wore (scuffed and worn out), Charlie's chucks and Kevin's dirty sneakers, a pair of threadbare slippers he somehow realized belonged to Bobby. He shouted to announce that he was home and had food, the sound of it swallowed up by the cushioned, saturated colors of the Bunker's interior. Everything was unusually warm, comforting rather than overwhelming.
Dean could hear voices, indistinct conversations in his friends' familiar tones, that were louder the closer he went to the kitchen. He made his way to them, pushed open the door. "Hey, guys, I---"
Empty. Their voices were echoes. Someone laughed. Dean dropped the bag and didn't hear it hit the ground.
The silence in the Bunker was palpable, thick, cushioning and covering up sounds that should have been, like the dripping of the water in the kitchen faucet, or the low hum of the overhead lights. Despite the echoing voices, there was nothing now. The kitchen, empty. The main room, deserted. The hallways, completely still. The warmth and comfort was oppressive, eerie.
It took one walk through the Bunker, of exploring nothing but silence, but the kitchen had an occupant on the second time around.
Even Dean's footsteps hadn't made a real sound as he looked for the voices, as obsessed with them as to drive himself mad. If this had started as a good dream, it wasn't one anymore, not until he found himself back in the kitchen.
"Cas?" Dean was quick to come toward him for a hug. "Where is everyone?"
Cas had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in his hands, and he'd been eying it with interest until Dean hugged him. He held it out of the way to keep Dean from squashing it, and returned the hug solely by resting his head on Dean's shoulder.
He waited until Dean had pulled back. "I don't know," he said. "It's your dream." He plaintively picked at the crust of his sandwich.
Dean leaned back, and then it dawned on him. "Oh. Cas, what are you doing in here?" It had been years since Cas had come into one of his dreams. Usually it meant--- "Is there something you need you can't talk about while I'm awake?"
Cas looked around the kitchen, quiet and thoughtful. This was what Dean dreamed about. Coming home, but coming home to nothing. No one.
"Am I bothering you?" he asked. His brow was furrowed with concern. He took a bite of the sandwich. It tasted exactly how he imagined it used to taste, before he got his grace. — No, not his grace, but Idina's grace, mangled and toyed with in order to keep Cas alive but in line.
"I don't know," Dean said honestly. Moving away, he ran his hand over the kitchen counter before reaching for the fridge. There was no click when it opened, and inside it was empty except for a few bottles of beer. Just a different kind of nightmare tonight, then. Cas's presence stuck out, his colors too dull and his voice too sharp to be part of the dream itself.
"There's no one here." Cas watched Dean now with the same kind of infuriating precision that came in real life. Every move was observed, scrutinized. Even now, after years of being around Dean, Cas still watched him as if curious. "I thought you might like company."
"Did you spy for a bit before you popped in?" Dean grabbed a beer despite having the nagging feeling it was a bad idea. It opened silently, and when he took a drink, it tasted like sawdust.
"I looked around." Cas hadn't walked in Dean's dreams in a long time. Years, even. When they first arrived here, Cas had been little more than human and the ability was lost to him. After that, Dean was a demon and he didn't sleep. After that, the Mark of Cain had its grip on Dean, and Cas didn't want to go anywhere near Dean's corrupted thoughts.
Now, though, he was content to enjoy a sandwich, that tasted the way he imagined it to taste — salty and sweet and sticky — rather than like molecules and chemical parts. It was imaginary, but so was everything else.
The sandwich tasted good. The beer, apparently, didn't. Cas glanced at another bottle in the fridge. "Try that one." Maybe he could do something about that one.
Dean shook his head and left the bottle on the counter. He was starting to feel too real to exist here; having an angel come into a dream was always jarring, weirdly galvanizing, but he still couldn't get himself to wake up. Instead, he decided to sit down at the kitchen table. "I used to have better dreams for you to interrupt. Sorry about that."
Cas sat down across from him. "Is it better now?" he asked, with a vague half-smile.
"Maybe." Dean stretched a hand out, palm up and resting on the table. Casual, as if he wasn't reaching out.
Cas took a bite of his sandwich, then reached out and put his hand on top of Dean's. It was less casual, and he squeezed tightly. "You don't sleep well. I've noticed. We've all noticed."
Cas's hand was the only thing in the dream that felt solid. Dean took it in both of his and, in the privacy of his own mind, leaned in so he could press his lips to Cas's knuckles. "Mm. Sorry."
It was the kind of gesture that was unusual for Dean, and Cas watched him with quiet fascination. "I can help you sleep, Dean," he said softly. Dean didn't need to wake up with nightmares or drink to suppress them.
Dean was always more affectionate in private, but unless he was particularly vulnerable -- either tired or as the result of some show of sexuality -- his affection was usually solid and masculine. He'd grip Cas's shoulder or his knee, or clap him on the arm. Even when he hugged it was like he needed to prove something, but when he was sure no one could see him, it seemed like he could risk tenderness.
"I don't need you to be my security blanket, Cas."
"You don't have to suffer in your dreams," Cas countered.
Dean snorted. "Comes with the territory."
"It doesn't have to," said Cas, a little more sternly. "You've been through so much. You can at least find peace when you rest."
"I haven't had a really good night's sleep since…" Dean trailed off, trying to think. "Nine years…? I mean, look at this." He gestured around the too-bright kitchen. "Even the good dreams get kind of weird these days."
Cas sighed quietly, nodding. He wasn't going to push Dean to accept his help, and perhaps it was a good thing. Every time he used his grace, every time he did something with his powers, he used up a little bit of it. Every time he visited Dean's dreams, he felt a little bit of his grace fizzle out.
He hadn't told Dean.
He didn't know what to tell Dean.
"I'm going to finish my sandwich and leave you, then," he said, pulling his hand back. "I'm working on the apiary at night."
"You don't have to," Dean protested. Then he thought about it, leaning back in his chair and letting his mouth pull into a smirk. "Or you could wake me up."
"You need your sleep," said Cas flatly. He stuffed the rest of the sandwich into his mouth, and the bite was a little too large.
Dean nearly laughed. Even in his own dreams his game was getting rusty, wasn't it? "Hey, you don't wanna screw around in the apiary, I can respect that."
Cas chuckled, in that quiet sort of way that suggested he still wasn't sure how to laugh. It wasn't natural to him, in the same way that smiling wasn't, but he picked up on things slowly. He was still chewing, and he was smart enough not to start speaking until after he was done.