evening_bat: Bat in flight, silhouetted against the moon. (Default)
[personal profile] evening_bat
Title: We All Need Saving
Author: [personal profile] evening_bat
Rating: PG-13? For implications.
Pairing: Dean/Castiel heavily implied
Word Count: ~3000
Summary: An alternate version of Meant To Be Known. At the time, I was a bit unsure if my story really fulfilled the prompt and I'd toyed with the notion of something shorter and less serious. I ended up going with the longer version but the short-and-cute one never quite got completely scrapped. And, well, at the time of writing, I was stressed out about RL, working on long, serious-themed fannish projects and really, really needing a distraction.

Thanks again to [livejournal.com profile] ramen_addict for the awesome prompt! And, as ever, to [livejournal.com profile] seryan for egging me on and beta-reading. Title taken from the same song as I used for the first story, "We All Need Saving" by Jon McLaughlin.


We All Need Saving

It was a beautiful afternoon, perfect for hiking. The air was warm and full of the green scent of a healthy forest. The sky was a clear, endless blue overhead. The sun was shining, birds were singing - and Sam Winchester was fuming as he stomped up the mountain in search of his wayward brother.

Dean was an idiot. A thick-skulled, stubborn moron who thought with his dick. Sam had no idea how his brother had managed to keep himself alive during the years they'd been apart. The man was a menace to himself.

Gods, but Sam hoped he was okay.

Not that it wouldn't serve him right if he wasn't, Sam thought with a fresh surge of anger. Trust Dean to get himself into trouble over a woman. Again.

Sam shouldn't have been surprised to find his brother in the middle of the commotion in the centre of town. He really shouldn't have been surprised to learn that it was because Dean had been found in the wrong person's bed. If - when - he found him, Sam was definitely going to have a few things to say to Dean about that. Their lives were dangerous enough, Dean didn't need to cause them any more problems because he couldn't resist a pretty smile. Especially not when said pretty smile's father had the ear of the mayor and yelled bloody murder when he found his daughter keeping company with a scruffy hunter.

By the time Sam had caught wind of it, the drama was in full swing. He'd rushed into the town square to find Dean looking almost bored, standing between a pair of grim-faced city guards as the mayor ranted on and on, making noise about invoking their town's patron to "punish the offender". The crowd's eager response to that aside, Sam wasn't too worried. He knew full well that most so-called patron spirits were anything but interested in the towns they were supposed to be guarding. He was far more worried about finding a way to get Dean loose and out of town. Or at least he was right up until the spirit actually appeared.

The shocked look on Dean's face would have been comical if Sam wasn't so busy being stunned himself. He hadn't even considered the possibility that the spirit was real and paying attention. Apparently he should have because there it was, large as life and twice as imposing. The factual part of Sam's brain absently noted that the spirit was a good few inches shorter than he was, with messy brown hair and eyes that were blue even from this distance. The rest of him was busy cringing at the sense of power radiating from the thing as it scowled at the mayor.

"What do you want?" the spirit asked flatly, gravelly voice carrying easily over the respectful hush that had fallen over the crowd.

"O - Oh great Castiel," the mayor started, self-importance faltering under the weight of the spirit's - Castiel's - stare. "We call upon you to dispense justice on those who would take advantage of us, your loyal people."

Castiel didn't look at all impressed with that and Sam wasn't sure if that was a good sign or not. He was pretty sure that the considering look Castiel turned on Dean was a bad, bad sign though. Of course Dean, who would literally rather die than appear intimidated, didn't help matters by tipping up his chin and giving the spirit one of his widest, cockiest grins. Sam's heart sank when Castiel tilted his head to one side for a long, silent moment.

"Very well," Castiel finally agreed, reaching one hand towards Dean. Alarm flickered across Dean's expression but before he could protest, he and Castiel simply vanished.

Shocked silence quickly burst into raucous cheering as the onlookers reacted to their patron's actions but Sam barely heard them, pushing numbly through the crowd. He barely kept enough presence of mind to head back to the inn where he and Dean had been staying. What the hell had his brother gotten himself into now? And how was Sam supposed to get him out?

The next few days passed in a blur as Sam hastily found out as much as he could about the spirit that had taken off with his brother. Castiel, he learned to his relief, wasn't particularly known for being dangerous or vicious or vindictive. In fact, a few people had sheepishly admitted, he was more often known for his indifference. By all reports, Castiel actually seemed kind of cranky about the townspeople praying at him. Sam was willing to believe that one, what with the irritable attitude Castiel had initially displayed when he'd appeared. Sam didn't really blame him for the surliness; the more time he spent in this town, the less he thought of its inhabitants.

His best chance for contacting Castiel was apparently an old shrine on the mountain outside of town. Sam was given a warning along with a set of directions. It wasn't always easy to make one's way to the shrine, he was cautioned. Pilgrims often found themselves facing obstacles: fallen trees, flooded rivers, bad weather or terrain, even wild animals. It was generally believed to be Castiel's way of testing the perseverance of his faithful. Sam was more inclined to think it was Castiel's way of making sure he wasn't bothered by townspeople whining at him on a daily basis.

He was a bit uneasy about the fact that he was having a suspiciously easy time of it. Instead of the obstacle course he'd half-expected, Sam was taking a leisurely hike up the mountain. In fact, this was probably one of the least stressful treks Sam had made in his life. Sam wanted to be hopeful about that, told himself that Castiel obviously didn't have any reason to impede his progress. Pessimism came more naturally, though and Sam could think of all sorts of reasons why Castiel might be too busy to pay any attention to throwing stumbling blocks in Sam's way. He knew better than anyone just how obnoxious Dean could be when he set his mind to it.

Dean had better be okay, Sam thought grimly. Because when he found him, Sam was going to kill him.

Dwelling on all the ways he'd make Dean pay for making him go through all of this to save him from himself kept Sam's mind occupied until he found the shrine tucked into a small cave on the mountainside. It didn't look like much, just a small boxy altar made of some pale rock stuck in a natural cavern but Sam was far too experienced a hunter to think that appearances were any indication of power. He stayed on his guard as he entered, noting the diffuse light which brightened helpfully as he took a few careful steps into the cavern. There was magic humming quietly in the air, of course, but it felt empty. At least he hadn't been attacked as soon as he'd walked in, Sam consoled himself. That seemed to support the idea of Castiel as a reasonable being, instead of one of the more capricious spirits he was more used to dealing with.

Sam knew almost as many summoning incantations as banishments and he easily recited one as he approached the innocuous looking altar. He kept it simple and polite, the spiritual equivalent of knocking on Castiel's door and asking if he were up for a chat. With any luck, Castiel would be receptive to the summons and to letting Dean go. The seconds seemed to stretch as Sam waited for some kind of response, hoping he wouldn't have to do anything more drastic to catch Castiel's attention.

Magic suddenly surged around him and Sam took a hasty step backwards but it was far too late. As the wave of power rolled over him, Sam only had enough time to curse Dean's libido for getting them both killed before the world went white.

He was still trying to blink his vision clear when he heard a delighted shout of, "Sammy!" from behind him. He spun around, unspeakably relieved to find himself on the receiving end of one of Dean's hard, all-encompassing hugs.

"Dean! You idiot!" he scolded as he hugged Dean back.

Dean just laughed at him, the bastard, but allowed Sam to shove him around without protest as he reassured himself that Dean was here and seemed all right.

"Are you okay?" Sam asked anxiously as he looked him over. "What the hell happened?"

"I'm fine, Sam. Really," Dean insisted, brushing off his concern the way he always did. He did look fine, Sam had to admit. Hell, he looked better than fine, relaxed and smiling like Sam hadn't seen in months. "And, well, Cas happened."

Abruptly reminded of what had brought him here, Sam looked away from his brother and scanned wherever it was he was now. "Wherever" seemed to be an oddly cozy cross between a library and a bedroom, Sam noticed. It was a largish, windowless room stuffed with books, bookshelves and comfortable-looking furniture. A quick glance showed him Castiel perched on the edge of a large armchair, watching them carefully with those blue, blue eyes. Sam couldn't quite read his expression but he didn't seem upset and at this point, Sam would take what he could get.

Sam looked an uneasy question at Dean, who cheerfully took the hint.

"Sam, this is Cas - Castiel," he said casually. "Castiel, my brother Sam."

Sam gave Dean a brief, incredulous look - only Dean would be so offhanded about the evidently powerful spirit who'd practically kidnapped him - but followed his lead, nodding a greeting at Castiel. "Hi."

Castiel rose smoothly from the chair and glided a few steps closer. "Hello," he replied neutrally.

Dean looked between them, a slightly sheepish cast to his grin the only indication that he was aware of the awkwardness of the situation. "Sorry if we scared you," he offered. "Cas didn't exactly take the time to explain what was going on to me, either," he complained, giving the spirit in question an aggrieved look.

Castiel smiled faintly and murmured something that could have passed for an apology.

That was about when Sam's temper ignited like kindling. "Well, that's great!" he snapped. "I'm glad to know that while I spent the last five days thinking you were dead or worse, you two were holed up here making friends!"

The fact that Dean was completely startled at this caused Sam to bite off his words, indignation cooling in the face of Dean's obvious confusion. "Five days?"

"Five days," Sam confirmed, watching a series of expressions chase across Dean's face. Sam never had understood how so many people fell for Dean's easy lies; he'd never had any trouble reading his brother. Dean was surprised to start (wide eyes and parted lips) moved through being impressed (lifted eyebrows and a pleased curve to his smile) and ended up at embarrassed (lowered eyes and the faintest flush across his cheeks.) Sam didn't miss the sidelong glance at Castiel, who'd resumed his impassive expression but his eyes warmed considerably when he looked over at Dean.

Oh. Well, that made things make a whole lot more sense.

"Been a bit busy making friends to notice time passing?" he asked dryly. Trust Dean to go from getting himself in trouble over a woman to getting a spirit to fall for him. Sam counted it a rare victory when Dean's faint flush spread into a full crimson blush. He hadn't been able to make Dean blush with an innuendo in years.

Oh well. Sam supposed this was a better option than driving Castiel to murder him in some creative way, even if he had scared Sam half out of his wits.

"How did I not notice that much time passing?" Dean was demanding of Castiel.

"It wasn't really five days for you," Castiel explained, flicking an almost apologetic glance over at Sam as he reassured Dean. "Time flows differently here."

Actually, seeing the two of them together was making Sam feel a bit guilty for what he was about to say. Dean looked honestly happy and didn't seem to mind Castiel standing about ten inches too close. It had been a long time since he'd seen Dean like that with anyone. It looked like Castiel wasn't the only one who'd done a bit of falling.

Sam kept his eyes forward as he spoke but focused his attention on the periphery of his vision. He already knew what disappointment looked like on Dean, having seen it far too often in their lives. He just hoped he wasn't about to learn what rage looked like on Castiel. "So, uh, are you about ready to get back on the road?" he asked. "Bobby's waiting for us."

Dean's face fell as Sam had known it would, dismay showing clearly in the moments before Dean remembered that he was a tough guy and didn't do disappointment. Castiel, on the other hand, went very still, every hint of softness draining out of his expression and suddenly Sam was absolutely sure that they were in big trouble. Then Dean shook his head.

"Sam's right," he admitted reluctantly. "Nice as it is here with you - and it is really nice" he added in a low voice, "I can't stay. Sam and me, we've got things to do."

Sam had always known his brother was brave - hell, he often accused Dean of having more guts than brains - but he had no idea how Dean could keep himself steady under Castiel's stare.

When Castiel lowered his head, it looked like defeat but the tension only eased out of Sam's shoulders when a second flare of power deposited them back in the rough mountain shrine. Left to his own devices, Sam would have been perfectly happy to leave with a hasty goodbye but Dean was lingering in front of Castiel and Sam wasn't quite selfish enough to take that away from him. It was a bit weird to see Dean, normally so self-assured, practically shuffling his feet as he stumbled through a simple goodbye but then Dean didn't have a lot of experience leaving people he actually wanted to keep. Though Dean really was an idiot if he didn't notice the quietly sad way that Castiel was watching him.

"So, uh, I guess this is goodbye?" Dean said awkwardly. "For now at least. I mean, we could maybe come back?" he offered hopefully. "If we're in the area, since, you know, we travel so much. If you wanted..." he trailed off under Castiel's silent regard.

Okay, that was it. His brother was hopeless and it didn't look like Castiel was any better.

Sam cleared his throat, amused at the scowl Dean shot his way. Just you wait for it, he mentally promised him. Dean was going to owe him so much for this. "So, Castiel. Do you actually give a crap about that town?"

Castiel blinked at the blunt question. "No," he answered honestly. "I was here first," he said, expression darkening. "And they've hardly left me alone since."

Well that was easier than Sam had expected. "So do you have any particular reason to stay here?" he pressed.

"Well," Castiel hesitated. "I've always been here," he started. By now, however, Dean had caught on to what Sam was doing and was playing his part to perfection. Even Sam, with over twenty five years of little-brother experience, had trouble saying no to Dean when he looked at him like that. Castiel evidently wasn't any better at resisting. "Well, not really," he admitted.

Dean visibly brightened at that but stayed quiet. Sam resisted the urge to snort. Of course Dean couldn't just come out and ask for something he wanted.

"So there's nothing stopping you from coming with us, then," Sam pointed out for him.

Now that Sam had broached the topic, Dean had no trouble chiming in. "Yeah, Cas! Come with us! Life's a lot more interesting out there," he encouraged. "Besides, the people in town are all assholes anyhow," he added dismissively.

Castiel looked distinctly wistful but unconvinced.

"Yeah, come with us," Sam said. "I can use all the help I can get keeping Dean alive. Keeping him from getting himself killed is almost too much work for one person," he sighed, with a dramatic roll of his eyes.

"Hey!" Dean protested immediately. "Who was it that pulled your ass out of that goblin den last week?" He was so busy being indignant at Sam that he entirely missed the stricken look that Castiel gave him before he drew a deep breath and interrupted Dean's tirade.

"Okay."

Dean whipped around at the word, cutting his rant off mid-word. "Okay?" he asked cautiously, like he was afraid he'd misheard.

"Okay," Castiel repeated, face relaxing into a smile.

"All right!" Dean whooped, slinging an arm over Castiel's shoulders as he steered him out of the cave, clapping Sam on the shoulder as they passed him. "This is going to be great!"

"Yeah, yeah," Sam grumbled good-naturedly. "And you're welcome," he muttered at Dean's back as he started after them.

Sam wasn't totally convinced it was going to be great but at least it would be interesting. And it wasn't like they couldn't use the help. Even better if it came from something powerful that had all sorts of reasons for keeping Dean healthy and happy. At the very least, Sam didn't think Castiel was the type who liked to share so Sam was pretty sure this was the last time Dean would need rescuing - from his affairs, at least.

Fin


Comments are welcome! Hope you enjoyed reading it!

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