After Sam had managed to calm Dean down, and then in turn Dean had somewhat pinned Cas down until the angel was calm enough to remain still while he was stitched and dressed, the three of them packed up the Impala and set off out of the woods, back to the road. The first hundred or so miles they sat in silence, no one mentioning Elsa, as Dean had to try very hard not to break the speed limit too severely. Sam was examining the scroll that Elsa had chucked at him before she’d been driven out of the cabin. The writing was like nothing he’d ever seen but maybe there was something back at headquarters that would help to translate it? Or maybe even Kevin could if they could find him.
After a while Sam had to roll the paper back up and tuck it in the glove compartment because it was giving him a headache. He rubbed his temples with his fingers, trying to make the action as minimal as possible so Dean wouldn’t notice. There was a sudden rumble of an empty stomach and Sam looked up at Dean.
“Was that your stomach?” He said, smiling slightly.
“No,” Dean frowned slightly, glancing in the rear view mirror.
Sam glanced behind him as well, and Cas looked away from both of them sheepishly.
“Cas… was that you?” Dean asked.
“Possibly,” Cas replied, staring out the window.
“I’ll find somewhere to stop,” Dean said, glancing at Sam as he noticed his brother rubbing his head again. “I think we’re probably off Crowley’s radar now.”
“We’re never off Crowley’s radar,” Sam muttered.
“You know what I mean,” Dean tossed a bottle of pills at Sam. “Take some of these.”
“I’m fine,” Sam protested.
“No,” Dean met Sam’s gaze for a moment. “No you’re not Sammy.”
Sam looked away and opened the bottle, taking a couple of the painkillers. Maybe Dean was right. Maybe he wasn’t ok. Maybe that was the point. The first two trials were presumably supposed to make it as hard as possible to complete the third.
Dean found a gas station and pulled over, filling up the Impala before parking round the back of a little cafe. It was on a side road and Dean had been taking a few detours as they drove just in case there were any demons on their tail so he was happy it would be safe enough to eat there. Stepping inside the three of them took a booth by the window so they could keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
“Hi, can I get you anything?” A waitress with blonde hair stood next to them, smiling slightly.
“Yeah, can we get three double cheeseburgers, three cokes and some more of that beautiful smile,” Dean grinned at the waitress.
She couldn’t help but smile as she took down their order and went to get their food. Dean watched her go before turning back to look at Cas and Sam who were both sat opposite him, staring at him pointedly.
“What?” He asked.
“Cheeseburgers?” Sam raised an eyebrow.
“You both need to keep your strength up so yeah, cheeseburgers,” Dean replied. “What are you staring at me for Cas?”
“Nothing,” Cas glanced away, looking out the window, but Dean couldn’t help but notice the slight tone of hurt in the angel’s voice.
Dean frowned slightly looking at Sam for answers but his brother just rolled his eyes like he was missing something obvious. They didn’t speak again until the waitress came back and put food in front of them.
“Is that everything?” She asked smiling at Dean again.
“Yes.” Cas cut across before Dean could say anything. Now there was definitely a note of something that Dean couldn’t quite put his finger on.
“Cas, you ok?” Dean asked, watching the angel carefully.
“I’m fine Dean,” Cas didn’t look at him as he picked up the cheeseburger in front of him.
Dean hesitated for a moment, before shrugging it off and tucking into his own burger. When they finished eating Cas dragged them out of the cafe and back to the Impala.
“Whoa, where’s the fire Cas?” Dean said, stumbling as Cas practically pushed him along.
“I just think we should get back on the road,” Cas replied. “We shouldn’t stay in one place too long in case Crowley has demons out here.”
Cas climbed into the back of the Impala and Dean walked round to the driver’s side.
“You know why he’s acting weird right?” Sam said in a undertone, standing next to the passenger side door.
“No, why?” Dean shook his head confused.
“You flirted with the waitress,” Sam smiled knowingly, climbing into the Impala.
Dean still didn’t understand. He shook his head and got into the car, pulling off. They didn’t stop again until after it had gone dark. Eventually Dean found a motel and they all got out, stretching and yawning. While Sam and Cas grabbed some stuff out of the car, Dean went inside and up to the reception desk.
“Hey, can I book a room for tonight?”
“We’ve only got one room left,” the receptionist said. “How many of you are there?”
“Three,” Dean replied, already knowing – he just knew – where this was going.
“There’s only two beds, but there’s a sofa if one of you doesn’t mind sleeping on that,” the receptionist sounded genuinely apologetic. “Or the next motel is about twenty miles down the road.”
“No, that’s fine,” Dean said as Cas and Sam joined him.
He grabbed the key to the room and led the way down the corridor. It was a “minimal” room. That is to say, there were two beds and a sofa and very little else. Dean sighed and collapsed onto the sofa, his feet propped up on one arm, his head resting on the other. Sam and Cas put the stuff down on the floor and Dean heard them both sigh.
“Better get some shut eye guys,” Dean said from his position on the sofa. “We’ve got another long day of driving tomorrow.”
Sam glanced at Cas and shrugged, sitting down on one of the beds, slipping his shoes off and then lying down, pulling the blanket over himself. Cas slowly moved to the other bed and sat down. Dean had persuaded him into shoes that morning, but he was more than happy to slip them off. He sat cross legged on the bed, glancing between Sam and Dean, sighing.
A couple of hours later Dean got up to get a drink of water in the bathroom. When he came back, he saw Cas was still sat up on the bed. He walked round, head on one side until the angel looked up and caught his eye.
“Cas, what’re you doing?” Dean asked quietly so as not to wake Sam.
“Couldn’t sleep,” Cas shrugged, looking away. “Maybe you should take the bed and-“
“No, Cas,” Dean cut across him. “You need to get some rest.”
“I’m not an invalid Dean,” Cas met his gaze again. “There are people on this planet dying right now of starvation and torture and neglect and I’m not. I’m fine.”
“You are not fine,” Dean walked closer to the bed, sitting on the edge. “And those other people… I don’t care about any of them. I care about you, and this is all my fault, so the least I can do is make sure you get better.”
“You think I blame you for losing my wings,” Cas said sadly. “But I don’t Dean.”
“Well you should,” Dean replied, rubbing his face tiredly.
“But I don’t,” Cas repeated. “And as they were my wings don’t you think I should be the one to place the blame?”
Dean couldn’t help but smile as he caught the look on Cas’s face. He couldn’t stop Dean from blaming himself but it was of some comfort to the Hunter to know that at least Cas didn’t blame him.
“If you won’t take the bed, you can still share,” Cas said after a while.
“Cas…” Dean began, standing up, intending to go back to the sofa.
“I only offered because I would rather not listen to you bitching all day tomorrow about how your back hurts while you’re driving,” Cas replied, the tiniest hint of a smile playing on his lips.
He lay down, still wearing his trench coat and Dean rubbed his forehead for a moment. He would probably regret this in the morning, but what the hell, Cas was right about the bitching. Dean walked round and lay down on the other side of the bed with his back to Cas. He listened to the angels steady breathing and after a while Dean managed to fall asleep again.
A few hours later something woke him. He had obviously turned over at some point and he nearly fell off the bed when he found Cas had also turned over and was staring at him.
“Cas,” Dean whispered so as not to wake Sam. “You remember when I said it was creepy to watch someone sleep?”
“Yes Dean, I remember everything you say,” Cas nodded ever so slightly. “But I like watching you sleep. It’s the only time you look peaceful.”
Dean opened his mouth to say something, but he wasn’t sure exactly what to say to that. In the end he settled for staring at Cas, watching him carefully and thinking. It was unnerving how blue the angel’s eyes were.
“You’re gonna be ok you know Cas,” Dean said eventually.
“Were you and Sam ever ok again?” Cas asked.
“What do you mean?” Dean frowned slightly.
“Well, when you lost your parents, and then Ellen and Jo, and then Bobby,” Cas replied. “Were you and Sam ever ok after that?”
“I…” Dean was lost for words again. “We coped.”
“Then that’s what I’ll do,” Cas said. “I’ll cope.”
“Cas you are…” Dean hesitated searching for the words. “You are… you. Don’t ever change.”
Cas smiled slightly, the first proper smile Dean had seen since they’d rescued Cas from Crowley. Neither of them said anything for a long time and after a while they both fell asleep. In the morning Dean got up early, deciding not to mention that he’d woken up with Cas’s hand clutching his own.