Dean likes classic rock and muscle cars and greasy fast food. He likes Earth far more than he’s ever enjoyed Heaven. He’s also really good at killing demons. So when the order is passed down for his garrison to lay siege to Hell, Dean straps on his armor, grins at his brother Samael, and flies without hesitation. This is what he exists to do—smite evil, follow orders, maybe disappear for a decade at a time in some small Midwestern college town until Sam comes down to drag his ‘irresponsible, hedonistic ass’ back to the straight and narrow. Having an archangel as his closest sibling is sometimes a pain in the ass, but Sam is all right.
Dean never expects to be the only angel to make it to Alistair’s layer of the Pit, and he certainly doesn’t anticipate being the one to raise the Righteous Man, but the soul is blindingly brilliant and painfully broken, and it clings onto his Grace with a strength that overwhelms Dean. He’s never understood what the other angels mean when they chatter on about witnessing the divine majesty of their Father’s creation, but the soul now cradled tightly in his Grace is the single most beautiful thing he’s ever seen, and Dean has seen a lot.
His garrison is surprised and honestly taken aback that he had been the one to succeed where so many of their brothers and sisters had failed, and Zachariah especially seems almost displeased, but Dean executed the order and resurrected the Righteous Man—Castiel Winchester, he needs to remember that name, it’s the most important name in his world now—and even Samael seems to beam with pride for him.
Castiel Winchester may have been chosen by God, but he certainly doesn’t seem to be able to understand Dean’s true voice, if the gas station incident is any indication. Rather than risk permanently damaging his charge’s sight, Dean needs a vessel. So he reaches out and speaks with a dying man in a hospital in Texas, whose name no one knows because he’d been in a persistent vegetative coma for months following a car accident. The man has no identification, and no one has come forward to claim him. He isn’t going to last much longer by human standards of time, so Dean asks his permission, requests the use of his body as a vessel so that he might watch over his new charge, and the man accepts graciously. His soul is pure and attractive, but it’s nothing compared to the one Dean has raised from Hell.
Samael is the one to suggest that perhaps responding to the Winchester’s summoning in the vessel’s hospital gown is not a wise decision. Dean doesn’t really see what difference it makes, but even he has to admit that he is fond of the black military pea coat they find among his vessel’s belongings in the hospital room.
The first time Dean lays eyes on Castiel Winchester alive and breathing is in a rundown barn littered with protective sigils and wards in Pontiac, Illinois. Lightbulbs flash and explode overhead, showering Dean in sparks, and he supposes that he’s being flashy to impress his charge. That’s not really a sin. The older man beside Castiel—Robert Singer, Dean picks from his mind—he dismisses immediately as no threat. Castiel regards him warily before leveling a shotgun at him and shooting him with rock salt, and—when that fails—brandishing an impressive-looking hunting knife.
Demon-killing magic, Dean thinks. It’s a formidable weapon, but he’s no demon. ”Who are you?” Castiel demands, and his voice is rough and low and pleasant.
“I’m the one who dragged your scrawny ass out of Hell,” Dean drawls.
Castiel looks skeptical. ”Yes. You have my gratitude,” he says dryly, then rears the knife back and stabs Dean in his vessel’s heart. This close together, Dean thinks that Castiel’s eyes are very beautiful and very blue. It bothers him that his charge doesn’t recognize him, but Sam had warned that this might happen.
Castiel twists the knife without remorse and Dean grins down at him—‘Angel of Thursday’ indeed—before calmly pulling it from his vessel’s chest and dropping it into the dirt at his feet. Robert Singer swings a pipe at him from behind and Dean is still distracted by the play of color in his charge’s eyes, so he catches the pipe on its downward arch and casts it harmlessly aside before pressing his vessel’s palm to the man’s forehead and letting him collapse to the ground. ”We gotta chat, Castiel. Alone.”
His charge doesn’t look very happy with him. Humans are endlessly entertaining but very confusing with which to interact. ”Your buddy’s alive,” he informs Castiel as he crouches defensively over Robert Singer, checking his pulse.
Those intelligent blue eyes are back on him. ”Who are you?”
“Daniel. You can call me Dean.”
Castiel frowns at him. ”Yes, I’ve concluded as much. I’ll clarify—what are you?”
Dean smirks. ”I’m an Angel of the Lord.”
His charge blinks at him. ”Angels don’t exist.”
“For a guy named after an angel, you don’t have much faith, do you?” Dean sighs. He stands from where he’s been slouched against a table and wills the barn to illuminate from the outside, bright flashes of lightening clashing through the warped wooden sides of the structure, and his wings materialize as imposing black shadows that stretch from wall to wall.
Castiel looks appropriately impressed, and Dean resists the urge to preen. The angel’s expression falls when his charge speaks again. ”Some angel you are. You burned Pamela’s eyes from their sockets.”
Dean chews his lower lip, averting his gaze from Castiel’s accusing eyes. Shame isn’t something that he’s used to experiencing, nor guilt. ”I told her not to look at my true form,” he explains. “Most people get hurt by seeing my true form, and my real voice. But you already knew that.”
“The gas station, and the hotel? That was you speaking?” Dean nods, and the Righteous Man snorts rudely. It’s the first unattractive thing that Dean has seen him do. ”Next time use your indoor voice.”
Dean scowls. ”My bad. Certain people, obviously not you, can see my true form.”
“And what form are you in now? Holy militant supermodel?” Castiel mutters.
Lips quirking, Dean looks down at himself and runs his hands over the front of his coat. ”This? This is my vessel.”
Castiel looks shocked. ”You’re possessing someone?”
“He was dying. He gave me permission.”
His answer only seems to further the rift between them, and that makes Dean somewhat unhappy. ”I don’t believe you,” Castiel growls. ”Tell me who you really are.”
Dean’s humor fades entirely and he blinks at his charge. ”But I already told you.”
Across from him, Castiel’s fists clench at his sides and he rolls his eyes. ”Of course,” he spits sarcastically. ”And why would an angel rescue me from Hell?”
It hits Dean like a sword’s blow then that this man, chosen by God Himself, is waiting for the other shoe to drop. ”You caught a break,” Dean says softly, and he feels like he’s dealing with a cornered animal.
Castiel huffs a humorless laugh. ”I never ‘catch a break,’” he air quotes.
Dean advances slightly, then stops. ”What’s wrong?” His charge’s face is impassive and carefully blank, but his eyes are a riot of doubt, fear, and a profound self-loathing that knocks the air from lungs that Dean doesn’t really need. It’s heart-breaking. This soul, so undeniably good and bright, is cracked through with threads of worthlessness and anger that Dean thinks he might rend the Earth in two just to fix it. ”You don’t think you deserved to be saved,” he breathes.
Scant feet away, Castiel swallows so hard that his throat audibly clicks. ”Why did you do it?” he asks.
Dean nods to himself and stands to his vessel’s full height. He still has a duty to carry out here, and Castiel will have to drop his guard eventually. He’s only human, after all. Dean vows to himself then and there that he will do everything in his considerable power to make Castiel understand his own worth. Even now, a small portion of the angel’s Grace is still attached to this man’s soul. Dean made a promise to his charge in the Pit, swore to protect him and help him fulfill his destiny, and he’s never had a human soul to watch over before. He’s never been entrusted with something this precious. He won’t fail.
“Because my Father commanded it,” Dean says, grinning. He’s always liked Earth and its inhabitants, but this particular human… Castiel is as fascinating as he is beautiful. Together, they’re going to save the world. And eat cheeseburgers. ”Because we have a job for you.”