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Castiel cannot help but be offended as he watches Dean drive away with Sam without a backwards glance. He had suffered all kinds of pain and upset to save the brothers from Gabriel’s sadistic clutches, and Dean didn’t even seem to care. Barely seemed to notice him. And whilst he knew, like always, he’d burden the affront in silence and get back to business, he would be lying if he didn’t tell himself that it hurt. That he expected more from Dean Winchester, after all this time.

He’s running out of leads as he continues the hunt for his Father, but still Castiel leaves it several days before he next appears to the human (he tells himself it was because they had no need of contact; he was certain angels were not meant to go off in a huff). It’s late, when he does appear in the motel room, and Dean’s staring blankly at the television screen. Sam’s not there, and Castiel is not sure whether that is a curse or a blessing.

“I would have thought you would have had enough of that,” he nodded at the television, some sort of late night trashy drama playing across the screen. The way Dean jumped suggested that he hadn’t noticed the angel’s appearance.

“Jeez, Cas,” he grunts, getting up and jabbing his finger at the television, turning it off. “What do you want this time?”

Castiel couldn’t quite hide the frown that crossed his features at that. “I have not wanted anything of you in a while, Dean,” he pointed out tactfully. “I just wanted to... make sure Gabriel had not affected you too terribly.”

Dean looked honestly surprised at that, hovering awkwardly as he froze halfway back to the couch. “’s not the worst thing that’s happened to me ‘nd Sammy,” he joked without humour. “You know, some parts were pretty freakin’ funny.”

“I did not mean your... television debuts,” Castiel frowned, getting as annoyed as ever at Dean’s refusal to take things seriously. “I meant what he said about you and Sam, God and Lucifer.”

Another shrug as Dean finally looked away, flopped down onto the couch and scrubbed a hand over his eyes. “I dunno man, it’s pretty screwed up. But we’ll get through it. We always do, right?”

“Dean...” The name was out of Castiel’s lips before the angel honestly realised what he was saying, and for a fleeting moment an expression that was almost awkward crossed his face. His mask of neutrality was quickly back in place, however, though his hands balled into fists at his side as he struggled to come up with what to say.

“I was once sworn to protect you. I did as I was told, and I lost all that I was. Now you are all I have. Now I protect you because I know nothing else.”

There was an awkward pause, before Dean tried to laugh the awkwardness off. “Damn, Cas, d’you want to be any more of a girl?”

“I... I did not mean...” Castiel actually found himself stammering with awkwardness as Dean began to laugh.

“Chill, Cas,” Dean continued to chuckle, standing up again and moving closer to clap a hand onto the angel’s shoulder. “I appreciate it, alright? Kinda nice to know I’ve got an angel lookin’ out for me.” A pause, and then, “Where did Gabriel send you? When you were trying to save me ‘nd Sam?”

“It’s not important,” Castiel mumbled, looking down at his feet. It had been unpleasant, full of fear and pain, wherever he had gone, and it was not a memory he cared to reflect on.

“Hey,” Dean frowned, bending to try and force eye contact with the angel. “This protection thing you got goin’ on? It can work both ways. You wanna play guardian angel over me, then fine, I can ride with that. But you gotta let me in, too, man.”

“I do not know where I went,” Castiel admitted, the words getting through to him. “I just remember pain. Perhaps it was Hell, I do not know. I doubt even Gabriel wields the power to put me there.”

Dean frowned but nodded all the same, glad the angel was at least happy to say that much. “Alright,” he nodded, “Good. Well, y’know, not good that you went somewhere like that...”

“I understand,” Castiel nodded, looking up with a slight smile. “Protection works both ways. Thank you, Dean.”

“Don’t ment-“

But the angel was already gone.

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Castiel

December 2009

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