Disclaimer: All of it? Totally not mine. Not even remotely. Disclaiming disclaimer disclaims all that needs disclaiming. Furthermore, I disclaim.
Summary: 5.04 'verse. Dean and Castiel watch the sky before the world ends.
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers for 5.04. Mild slash. Use of illegal substances (but it's the end of the world, no one cares anymore).
Neurotic Author's Note #1: Written for the spn_solstice contest thingie that's being held right now. I encourage you to go and read all the awesome stories there! So many talented artists and authors. :) There's going to be a vote, too. *nudges readers encouragingly*
Neurotic Author's Note #2: Many, many thanks to pkwench, morganoconner and scarletsherlock for each taking a look at this fic and giving me valuable advice on how to make it better. It wouldn't be the same without them. Hurray for betas! :)
Neurotic Author's Note #3: Title taken from a quote by Victor Hugo. “I met in the street a very poor young man who was in love. His hat was old, his coat worn, his cloak was out at the elbows, the water passed through his shoes —and the stars through his soul.”
There is podfic! Read by the lovely and talented diane_mckay. :D
Cas is a silhouette against the twilight. In a moment, the only part of him that will be visible is the dim glow from the tip of the joint he's holding pinched between thumb and forefinger. He's barefoot, in a worn grey t-shirt that falls in soft folds over the belt of his BDUs, staring at the rusting fence along the perimeter. In another life, Dean would have torn him a new one for sitting on the hood of the Impala, but the car has been idle for well over two years now, and harbours just as much rust as the barbed wire fence that separates the compound from the rest of the world.
“I can hear you lurking,” Cas says abruptly, not bothering even to raise his voice. Smoke curls from his lips, dissipates into the faded grey of the evening. “You may as well join me, Fearless Leader.”
A lifetime ago, Dean would have felt sheepish. Now he's just unreasonably annoyed that Cas can still detect him no matter where he is, no matter how quiet he's trying to be. He hooks the thumb of his left hand in his belt loop, keeps his right free, forever hovering near the butt of his pistol. He might put a bit more of a swagger into his step than is strictly necessary, but Cas is pissing him off more than usual. He swings himself up to sit next to his second-in-command, eyes scanning the horizon, feels the Impala dip under his added weight.
“See anything?” he asks.
“Plenty. There's something that used to be the mother of three about two hundred yards to the left, pressed up against the fence. There was a man with her, but he's dead now. If you look carefully you can see his corpse under that bush over there. She tore out his throat when he had his back turned. There's a coyote circling, I assume because of the promise of carrion. The stars are especially beautiful tonight.”
Cas may as well be reading a grocery list.
Dean snorts softly. “Right. Stars.”
“I used to be able to name them all.”
“All of them?”
“All of them.”
“How long did it take you to memorize that? There are billions of 'em.”
“Angels don't memorize things, Dean. They just are.”
Dean doesn't have anything to say to that. He watches as Cas brings the joint to his lips, and the tip flares brightly in the darkness. He looks up at the sky, which is cloudless for the first time in months.
“You shouldn't be in your bare feet. You'll step on something and get tetanus.”
Cas exhales in a cloud of smoky laughter. “Heaven forfend.”
“It's a terrible way to go.”
A shrug. “They're all terrible.”
Dean's still staring at the stars, tells himself he should look elsewhere, tear his gaze away before the sight rips him into pieces. He doesn't look at stars anymore, not since...
“So can you tell me how to forget all of them?”
Cas shrugs. “I don't know. The knowledge just slips away. I didn't know you knew any of the names of the stars.”
“When I was a kid. Astronomy's a useful skill in the field. Lets you know where you are.”
“You're the one who taught him.”
There's understanding in Cas' voice, and Dean wants to whip around and drive his fist into Cas' mouth, feel the teeth break, the fragile bones in his face shatter. He hasn't even said Sam's name —no one does anymore— but it hangs unspoken in the air as loudly as ever. Dean stays very still, hands clenching, and Cas takes another drag on the joint.
“You going to share that?”
Cas tilts his head, but in the darkness it's impossible to read his expression. Then his hand snakes out, cups the back of Dean's head, pulling him in. Dean's eyes widen, but that's all he has time for before he feels the scrape of stubble against his chin, the soft warmth of Cas' lips against his as Cas nudges his mouth open, his breath warm and pungent. Dean lets his eyes slip shut, breathes in; holds his breath, fingers digging into Cas' shoulders for purchase.
Whatever Cas is smoking, it's strong. It doesn't take long for Dean to feel a bit light-headed, detached, and he tells himself it has nothing to do with Cas' tongue chasing the taste of smoke in his mouth, probing and insistent; nothing to do with the rough click of teeth against his, the feel of Cas' thumb digging into his neck. He leans in a bit, heart stuttering in his chest, keeps his eyes closed, sees stars spark behind his eyelids. His hands move up, stop before they can touch. Cas is all angles and shadows and rough edges, and for a moment those edges blur and Dean can't tell where he ends and Cas begins, and a soft moan wells up in his throat.
Cas pulls away first, and Dean reels, slightly dizzy from the loss and the sudden rush of oxygen. For a moment he just sits there, letting his hands drop palm upward into his lap, breathless, blood roaring in his ears. He swallows hard, stares at the calluses on his fingers, dirt and dried blood under the fingernails. When he looks back up, Cas has turned back to stare at the fence, the joint spent between his fingers. He flicks it away, and it sparks one last time, scattering dying embers, before extinguishing itself against the dead ground. Then he slips down off the hood of the Impala, a mere whisper of movement on bare feet.
“Cas?” Dean barely recognizes his own voice, low and husky with an emotion he can't identify.
Cas doesn't turn back, and Dean feels the names of the stars slip through his fingers.