Some more “Trueform Castiel.” May have overdone it with the textured brushes, but regardless I like this thumb a bit more than the others on which I was working.
“Lost. Again.” Dean let out a frustrated sigh and holstered his gun. “Too bad one of us isn’t the size of the Chrysler Building. Maybe then he could see where we were going.”
Cas didn’t answer. Instead, he sagged to the ground, impossibly quick, his massive torso curling behind him like a snake’s. His mask face slowly drooped onto one forearm.
Dean made a rude noise and threw up his hands.
“C’mon, man. We already took a break, like, two hours ago.” But Cas did not get up. No, the angel did the exact opposite, of course, shifting his weight and pawing at the dirt until he carved out some measure of comfort. For all his size and power, thought Dean, the angel really was nothing more than an overgrown puppy—especially when he glared up at Dean with those big moon-eyes. “Cas. We gotta keep moving.”
“Blow me,” replied the angel, without so much as lifting his head.
“Well, when you say it like that.” Dean slowly dragged one hand over his face, as if he could physically tug the irritation out through his cheeks. Then he fell unceremoniously to the ground next to the angel. “So. You ever gonna tell me what’s eating you?”
Cas averted his gaze to somewhere far off in the underbrush. “I am finding it difficult,” he said eventually, “to remember.”
“Ah. Heaven stuff.” Dean grimaced. “Clouds ‘n shit, right?”
“Rain,” Cas said quietly.
“Rain?” Dean snuck a quick glance at his friend. Lines, like little furtive cracks, had recently begun to form on the mask face, under Cas’s eyes and around his chin, and Dean noticed a new one now, a hairline fracture right between the brows. He had the sudden urge to hurl himself at the mask and hold it together, with his arms and legs, if he had to. “Seriously?”
“Yes.” One long finger idly toyed with Jimmy’s tie in the dirt. “Being wet, generally. But I especially liked the rain. All those little drops, in random patterns. Well, not random, you know.” He looked over at Dean and frowned. “Well, I guess you don’t.”
Dean rolled his eyes, but said nothing.
“In this form,” sighed Cas, his finger falling still, “it is easier for me to grasp the greater pattern of the forest, yet harder to still see the weeds.”
“The trees, you mean,” said Dean. Cas stared at him blankly. “Hard to see the forest for the trees. That’s how the saying goes.”
“I know what I said,” Cas mumbled irritably.
Dean thought for a moment, forcing himself to remember the feel of cool droplets as they slid down his skin; the smell of ozone hanging heavy and electric in the air; the soft, soothing patter of rain against the Impala’s roof. No matter how loud it ever got, it could never completely cover up Sam’s heavy snore.
Sighing, Dean kicked out his feet and leaned back against the angel’s forearm.
“For me, it’s whiskey,” he said softly. He lifted his hand and held it there, unwavering, a few inches above his knee. The shakes had long ago stopped, along with the nightmares, but Dean knew right now it was the principle of the thing that mattered, and not the reality. He chuckled to himself sadly. “Man, I used to drink like a fish. Now I can barely remember the taste.”
Cas’s gaze lingered on Dean’s hand before moving back to the underbrush. “I’ve forgotten how a bee’s legs tickle when she tells a dirty joke,” he said. “Only that they do.”
“You got me there.” Dean smirked and folded his hands behind his head. “Remember the smell of the Impala?”
Cas nodded. “Or how it felt to go over a pothole. Like flying, but not.”
“Cheeseburgers. All that grease and ketchup.” Dean smiled wistfully. “Hell, road food in general, am I right?”
“Sex,” Cas offered.
Dean’s half-smile evaporated. He sat up, shaking his head as if dispel a bad dream. Then he noticed Jimmy’s tie, dirty and still flattened under one long, claw-like finger. He reached for it. “Can I?”
Cas hesitated before nodding.
“Here.” Dean picked up the tie and carefully wrapped it around the angel’s wrist, double-knotting it. He patted Cas’s arm once, briefly. “So you don’t forget.”
Cas stared at him as if he were stupid. “I hardly think—“
“Just,” Dean inhaled sharply, catching himself and restarting in a softer tone. “Just do it. It’ll help. I promise.”
He didn’t add that this was something his mom used to do, that it was one of the only things he could still remember about her, even though he could no longer remember her actually ever doing it for him—just a memory of a memory, really, an impression long since faded.
But the way Cas looked at him then, Dean suspected the angel already knew.
Dean cleared his throat.
“Do bees really tell dirty jokes?” he asked eventually.
Cas smiled down at the tie on his wrist.
“Oh yes,” he replied with a chuckle. “Filthy little hedonists. It’s all sex and road trips with them.”
“Sounds like my kind of species,” laughed Dean.
“Why do you think I like them so much?” Cas agreed.