Castiel guarding Dean in Purgatory
“You don’t have to—“
“Sleep, Dean,” commands Cas. He adjusts his grip on the angel blade, which flashes with its own light, as if it were alive. “Don’t make me force you.”
Sighing irritably, Dean shuts his eyes and burrows his chin deeper into the trenchcoat. The fabric is heavy, musty. Still warm from its previous wearer. Dean inhales once, quietly, then jerks the coat down around his shoulders.
Several heartbeats go by before Dean lets himself open his eyes. But Cas has not moved. The angel is tensed, like an angry dog: chest thrust out, chin bared, every muscle in his arms flexed, alive. Cas looks even more imposing than usual, thinks Dean, which, given the tight cotton scrubs, is proof enough for him that God exists, and has a terrible sense of humor.
“You’re still wearing that hospital bracelet?” The chuckle Dean forces out sounds more like something a wounded animal might make; Cas flinches toward the noise, deep lines under his eyes. “Dude, how’s it even still on you?”
“I like it,” he says softly. “It reminds me. When I forget.”
Without turning, Cas kneels and holds up his arm for Dean’s inspection. His gaze falls on a line of small block letters printed neatly on the flimsy paper.
“WINCHESTER, CAS,” he reads.
For a moment, Dean can only stare, open-mouthed, at the bracelet. Then he swallows guiltily.
“Well, we had to put something.” He shrugs himself deeper into the coat to hide the flush rising in his cheeks. “I don’t think ANGEL OF THE FRIGGIN LORD would’ve fit in the box.”
Cas stands back up and smirks out at the gloom. “All the same.”
“It’s just a name.” Dean can’t quite bring himself to add it doesn’t mean anything, because he remembers that awful night at the hospital, with Sam, and Meg, and staring at what he’d written for a full minute, palms sweaty, heart in his throat, until Sam had to nudge him in the ribs and ask if he was alright. He draws a shaky breath.
“Just a name,” he murmurs, as he did back then.
“Adam said the same thing after he named the zebra,” replies Cas with nostalgia so obvious Dean can’t help but wince. He turns then, finally, his eyes soft and fond in the low light. “A name is a powerful thing, Dean. You humans, you don’t just name to classify. You name to remember.” His smirk evaporates, and he stares down at the blade in his hand. “Sometimes I have trouble remembering.”
At the wistful tone of Cas’s voice, something ugly and jealous inside Dean snarls to life.
“Look, it doesn’t mean anything,” he snaps.
Cas looks up, face drawn. “I suppose,” he says coolly, “I deserve that.”
Internally, Dean kicks himself. He rolls over, away from Cas’s unyielding stare, and stares up at the starless sky.
“No, Cas, I meant—“ Dean pauses, searching for the right words before giving up and continuing anyway. “Look, Bobby used to say, ‘family don’t end with blood’, right? Well, it don’t start with names, either, Cas. You’re family. No matter what.”
As the tension sags out of Cas’s shoulders, Dean sighs in relief.
“Thank you,” the angel replies, his voice no more than a whisper.
“Don’t mention it.”
They share a quick smile before the angel returns to his survey of the underbrush and gloom.
“But if it’s all the same to you,” says Cas eventually, casting a quick, almost shy glance back at Dean. “I’m going to keep wearing the bracelet. You’ve given me two names now,” Cas adds, not bothering to hide his smile. “And I intend to keep them.”
“Fine,” chuckles Dean, pulling the old, familiar coat tight. “Knock yourself out.”