Title: Every Little Hair Knows Your Name
Pairings/Characters: Dean/Castiel, Sam
Disclaimer: I don't own them, blah blah
Summary: "At first he keeps it shoved in a box in the corner of Bobby's living room. Just for a few days."
Word Count: 1600
Notes: I haven't finished a piece of fanfic in about 3 years, but I had a lot of feelings about the past couple episodes. Spoilers for 7.01 and 7.02 (so beware of the warnings that go along with that) but ignoring the end of 7.02. Title comes from a Jens Lekman song of the same name.
At first he keeps it shoved in a box in the corner of Bobby's living room. Just for a few days.
It's the elephant in the room and on some level they're all okay with that, or at least they're okay with pretending to be.
Dean finds excuses to be in the living room and he stares at it out of the corner of his eye, but never opens it.
Three days in and truth be told, the thing is starting to smell. And by this time, Sam has made enough progress with controlling the hallucinations that he can devote some attention to other things.
When Sam walks into the living room, Dean looks up from the shitty mystery novel Bobby had lying around that he's been pretending to read for the last hour.
Sam hesitates for a moment and then he stoops down and picks up the box.
Dean glares at him, feeling his chest clench. He wants to yell at Sam, tell him to put the damn box back down and just leave the whole thing alone, but he says nothing.
Sam gestures at the box.
"Dean, are you gonna-"
"I'll take care of it Sammy," Dean says sharply.
"It's not… it's just that it's starting to smell a little-"
"I said I'd take care of it," Dean growls, throwing the book down on the couch and stalking over to his brother. He snatches the box away. Dean doesn't turn around. He doesn't want to see Sam give him those puppy dog eyes filled with pity because he physically doesn't think he can handle it right now.
Dean heads outside, to the place where Bobby keeps the garbage cans. Tucking the box under his left arm, he reaches out and opens the lid with his right.
"Damn," he mutters, wrinkling his nose at the stench.
The trench coat is damp and filthy but it doesn't deserve this. Cas doesn't deserve-
He shuts the lid and treks back into the house, towards the laundry room.
When the trench coat comes out of the dryer, he smells it. He can't stop himself.
It's dry and clean, and it doesn't smell like Cas anymore. Not that Cas really smelled like anything, but still, there was always this little hint, this little something that was him. And now it's gone.
Dean feels something break inside of him. Something shatter and splinter him off into a million tiny pieces and it's all he can do to keep them together.
Somehow, he thought he'd be numb by now. That after everything he and Sam had been through and the people they had lost that he was incapable of feeling, that he was just done. And maybe if he just drank enough booze and shoved his feelings down hard enough that it wouldn't matter. That it wouldn't hurt.
And he'd called Cas a child. He chuckles humorlessly to himself and it comes out sounding more like a sob.
The cellphone that was in the right coat pocket is water damaged and ruined beyond repair, but he lets it dry out and sticks it back inside the pocket anyway.
He finds a new box, folds the coat carefully
lovingly and places it inside. Then he shoves the box in the back of his closet and tries to forget about it.
There are other little reminders.
Like the ID for Agent Eddie Moscone that Dean finds amongst their supplies while he's packing for a hunt. Or the number he can't quite bring himself to delete from his phone.
Dean also avoids looking at himself in the mirror before he showers.
The handprint is still there, probably always will be. But it's already started to fade.
Dean doesn't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
On the one year anniversary, Dean pulls the box out of the closet. He doesn't mean to do it, it isn't planned or anything. It just kind of happens. One minute he's thinking about the part he needs to get for his baby, and the next minute he's upstairs in Bobby's guest room with his nose buried in the trench coat.
He tells himself he should stop, but instead he mutters "You stupid son of a bitch" into the fabric. As if being angry with Cas is going to make anything better. As if he just yells loud enough or is stubborn enough it will bring Cas back-
“I always come when you call.”
He doesn't like to dwell on regrets. The past is the past and there's nothing you can do to change it.
But he can't help wondering if there was something he could have said or done to change things. If he had paid more attention to what was going on. If he'd told Cas that he was needed, that he was wanted back when the words would have still meant something. But those weren't the words he had chosen. He had chosen words that were harsh. Dismissive. Words that he could put up like walls between them.
At the time, it seemed easier that way. But now he's sorry. He's so goddamned sorry, but Cas isn't around anymore to hear him say it.
The following year, Dean finds himself pulling out the box again. And yeah, it's overly sentimental and you better believe he'd deny it to high heaven if Sam or Bobby ever brought it up. But he does it anyway and Sam and Bobby never say a word, but they somehow always manage to stay out of Dean's way on those days.
Five years gone and Dean has carved out a little life for himself. It's not much, but it's more than he ever thought he would have. Sam and Dean got their own place, not far from Bobby's. Dean fixes cars and Sammy finishes his bachelor's degree. They still hunt, but not as often.
There have been a few women here and there (and one time a man, but Dean doesn't like to think about that), but nothing serious. After everything with Lisa, he'd decided that getting serious with a civilian just wasn't a good idea. He was still too much a part of the hunter's lifestyle to have that apple pie life. And honestly, he wasn't even sure if he truly wanted it in the first place or if was just something he felt like he was supposed to do.
So civilians were out. If he were to find someone, they would have to be a part of the life, someone who could understand, someone who could hold their own. But even when you had that, there was no guarantee that they would survive to see the next fight. He'd learned that the hard way.
It's the day again and Sam is nowhere to be found. Dean is grateful.
He grabs a beer and heads upstairs. He's actually managed to start laying off the booze a bit, but hey, it's a special occasion, right?
Dean reaches into the closet to pull out the box. He pulls out the coat and holds it close to him, burying his nose in the collar.
It had felt stupid, the first few times he did this, but after five years he just doesn't give a fuck anymore. It's just for today. And if there are certain things he needs to do on this day then he'll just go ahead and do them, nobody needs to know.
There's a sudden noise downstairs and Dean immediately goes into hunter mode. Dean places the trench coat down on the bed and carefully makes his way downstairs. He mentally kicks himself for not having a weapon on him. Rookie mistake.
He searches the first floor suspiciously, but finds nothing. Still a little unsettled, he heads back upstairs.
There's someone there. There's some asshole standing in Dean's room and he's touching the trench coat.
"Hey, what the fuck are you-"
And he stops dead in his tracks.
The man is wearing a cheap suit and a crooked tie that looks like it will never lay straight no matter what anyone does (and Dean knows that for a fact because he's tried multiple times). Dark, disheveled hair, a 5 o'clock shadow, and that unmistakeable profile. And this guy, he's slipping into the coat like it's been waiting for him to come back. Like he never left in the first place.
Dean is frozen. He's waiting for his reflexes to kick in, but it's just not happening.
Smoothing down the coat with sure, fluid movements, the man turns to Dean and stares at him, one of those barely there smiles at the corners of his lips.
"Hello Dean," he says and his voice is… it just sounds so fucking good that Dean could cry.
Dean is half sure that it's a trick or a demon or just something wrong because he's Dean Winchester and nothing in his whole fucking life ever goes his way.
But in that moment, Dean smiles at Castiel and finds that he can't bring himself to care.