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[personal profile] daymarket
Title: Firsts

Author: daymarket

Pairing: Dean/Cas

Rating: PG-13

Notes: AU robot!fic. Sequel to "I, Castiel," which is a fic where angels and demons are robots. Cas is Dean's robot and trying to figure out what the hell it means to be human. Dedicated to [livejournal.com profile] prettybird , who won my help_japan auction and requested more of this! :D Hope you enjoy, bb. There's probably going to be one last part to this story.

Summary: Castiel's not precisely human, but he's not exactly a robot, either. For Dean, the challenge is figure out which parts are which.

x

The First Time Castiel Lost Patience

Technophiles, Dean decided, were absolutely insane.

The Cybernetics Convention was held in a large, glass-walled building next to the Tech Museum. Cas was silent as they made their way into the depths of the unknown, but even if he was inclined to speak it would’ve been hard for Dean to hear him. There were dozens of booths on the glossy marble, and every single one seemed to be filled with…beeping things. Rows upon rows of the latest technology, the latest nuskin, the latest gadgets.

And of course, the latest bots.

Dean could feel Cas’ tension as if it were an almost tangible thing. He could understand it; they walked past rows upon rows of bots, with a good number of them virtually indistinguishable from the humans who were selling them—except, of course, for the bracelets on their wrists. Several booths offered five-minute customizations; for just a hundred bucks a pop, you could change the facial structure or hair or body of a bot you didn’t like. While it was impossible to erase full personalities without sending them back to the shop, that certainly didn’t stop traders from offering fancy toys that would do ‘modifications’ at a human’s fancy.

“Well,” Dean said loudly to drown out one particularly enthusiastic vendor, “the auction’s not till two. Bela told us to go pick Ruby at one thirty on the second floor storage, though. You want to get a bite to eat before we go?”

Cas didn’t answer him. Dean glanced at his face with a worried frown; Cas was staring intently at a booth that offered eye color modifications for $9.99 each. Dean glanced at the synth eyeballs in their plastic cases and winced. “Ugh. Hello? Earth to Cas?”

“What do they think of this?” Cas asked in a low, tight voice.

Dean glanced at him, frowning. “Of what? The new eyeballs? One word, dude: creepy as hell. Wait. That’s three. Whatever, you get the idea.”

“Not the eyeballs, the bots,” Cas said. “Of these…changes.”

Dean grimaced. “Dammit, Cas, how many times do we need to go over this? You can’t think that way. They can’t give consent, because their brains are just, you know, factory-issue. I guess they don’t care. Or they can’t.”

“And when the day comes that mere modifications fail to satisfy, we are thrown out like so much trash,” Cas said, his voice flat.

“You’re not like them,” Dean said firmly. “I swear, if I ever look like I’m going to chuck you out, you can…” he thought for a moment, and then said, “You can key my baby.”

“Your what?”

“My car,” Dean said bravely. “You can take her for a joyride and destroy her.”

Cas looked blank. “Why would I want to destroy your car?”

“Hopefully it’ll never happen,” Dean said hastily, “because I’m never going to toss you. You get that, right?”

“I understand your sincerity,” Cas said, but he was looking at the eyeball vendor again. Dean followed his gaze; a fat guy was gesturing at his beaming sextoy female bot, talking to the stand owner in a very loud voice about how he was sick of green and wanted to get something cooler, like silver.

Dean grabbed Cas’ arm to get his attention, his fingers sliding down to tighten around the metal bracelet. Cas looked up at him, his blue eyes widening in surprise. “Hey,” Dean said firmly. “Look at me, man. It’s not going to happen. Not to you. Not now, not ever. Because I might not have known exactly what I was getting into when Ash transmogrified you, but I’m sure as hell never going to back out or give up, because I don’t do that to people. And I’m not going to do that to you.”

Cas looked at Dean, his frown deepening. Dean squirmed slightly under the look, relaxing only when Cas finally broke the gaze. With a tired, human sigh, Cas rubbed the palm of his hand across his eyes. “It’s frustrating,” he said in a low voice. “It’s impossible to change it all, and by all society’s rules, I shouldn’t be inclined to try.”

“It’s not impossible,” Dean said roughly. “We’re here, aren’t we? We’re going to buy Ruby, and I have to say, even though I don’t like her I guess I’m just going to have to put with it.” His fingers tightened around Cas’ wrist. “I seriously wouldn’t do that for kicks, man. Do you get what I’m saying, here?”

“I’m not sure I know how to drive,” Cas said after a moment.

“Don’t take much driving to wreck a car,” Dean said. He held a hand up. “Not that you ever need to drive. Because I’m not going to throw you out. Obviously.”

Cas gave him a sideways look and a raised eyebrow, but Dean had had months to train himself in Cas’ expressions, and he could see the faint quirk of his mouth. “Ash seems to think that Ruby has a certain charm.”

“Good,” Dean said. “Because that’s that, and I’m done with the girl moment here. Can we move away from the eyeballs? They’re making me nauseous.”

“You don’t approve?” Cas said cautiously.

“What, of eyeballs? I like them in their sockets, thanks all the same. And as a general rule, no, I don’t like bodyswapping bits around. You’re just fine, man.”

“And you, of course, are a paragon of physical perfection,” Cas said. “If you were a bot, I would not choose to modify you either.”

Dean paused, examining Cas’ face for any hint of irony. There was none. “Uh,” Dean said. “Thanks? I guess. I’m, uh. That’s not really, you know, what normal people say. Unless they’re being sarcastic. Are you being sarcastic?”

“Complimenting is a traditional part of courting,” Cas informed him, and Dean was 99% certain that he was laughing like a maniac on the inside despite the poker face. “I believe it is traditional to write poetry, as well.”

“Yeah, don’t do that,” Dean said. “Just keep on being, you know, you, and I’ll consider that poetry of the body.” He grinned despite himself. “Seriously, though, how far is this courting thing going to go? I have to say, I’m not one for chocolates and flowers, either. Although I wouldn’t say no to a cheeseburger, but I doubt that any medieval poets wrote about that.”

“I’ll make cheeseburgers tonight,” Cas said. “For three, of course.” He was quiet for a moment before looking at Dean with a tilt of his head. “After this,” he said finally, “will Ruby become...different?”

“You mean like with the Three Laws and the brain thing and all?” Dean asked. Cas nodded. “I don’t know,” Dean said. “That’s up to Ash, I guess. Do you want that to happen?” he asked, expecting an immediate ‘yes.’ Instead, Cas was silent for a moment, apparently pondering the question.

“They say that misery loves company,” Cas said finally.

“What? You’re miserable?” Dean said, stung. “Ouch.”

“No,” Cas said firmly, his fingers tightening on Dean’s shoulder. “I assure you that I am not…miserable. No.”

“I thought you wanted to change things. Wouldn’t Ruby be a good start?” Dean said.

“It’s a paradox,” Cas said, shaking his head. “Undertaking any action has consequences, and this more than most.”

“You’re losing me, man.”

“Removing the Laws gives free will,” Cas said. He stopped and gave a small smile. “Well, at least a synthetic form of it. Yet that itself comes with…doubt. Emotion. Things that I don’t understand yet, not fully. With the negative and positive to the action, it seems that one should be able to decide whether or not they want to remove the Laws before it actually occurs. But they can’t, because they don’t have free will.”

“So they don’t have free will to decide whether or not they want free will,” Dean said once he’d detangled the Cas-speak.

“Exactly,” Cas said.

Dean frowned. “Would you have done things differently?” he asked. “If you could, I mean, Would you stay as robo-Cas and not be, you know, human-Cas?”

“I’m not human,” Cas pointed out.

Dean groaned. “You know what I mean.”

“I don’t…” Cas began, then trailed off. He glanced at Dean, then away. “Would you give my answer any validity?”

“What do you mean?” Dean asked. “Dude, you’re human, or as good as. I get it. Whatever you say, I’m going to respect that.”

“Yet you won’t have sex because you feel that my consent is falsified,” Cas pointed out. “Which way is it, Dean? Am I human or not?”

“Wait. You’re scared I’ll dump you out because I won’t have sex with you?” Dean asked. “Dude, isn’t it usually the other way around?”

“No,” Cas said, looking frustrated. “You say that you consider me a human on one hand, yet your actions spell out the opposite. I don’t know much about what I do or don’t like, but this hypocrisy does annoy me.”

Dean drew in a deep breath. “I don’t go around shagging every human I meet, even though I’m perfectly aware that they all have free will. Not everything is about sex.”

“Annoyingly so,” Cas muttered. “It’s the most understandable aspect of human nature.”

“What, lust? But life would totally suck if we were just a bunch of horny monkeys shagging each other, you know,” Dean said, not unreasonably he thought. “You have to put up with all the other stuff too, even if it does make your head explode.”

“My head is in no danger of—”

“Metaphor, Cas.”

Cas gave him a sideways look but otherwise remained silent, no doubt brooding on how irritating humanity was. “And that’s a good thing?” he said at last.

“What, your head exploding?”

“No. Being complicated.”

“Well,” Dean said. He tilted his head back, considering the problem. “On the whole, yeah. If we just lived our lives according to the rules of logic, we’d be…well...bots. But that’s the difference, I guess, the ability to say ‘fuck you, logic’ and go on to whatever we do or don’t want to do. That’s free will, and you have to admit, Cas, it makes life a whole lot more interesting.”

“Interesting, yes. But better?” Cas persisted, his eyes fixed on Dean’s face as if Dean held all the secrets to life, the universe, and everything. “Taking your car for a joyride would be an interesting exercise, for example, but I doubt you would perceive it as positive.”

Dean winced. “Oh, I did not need that visual in my head.”

“Dean.”

Castiel clamped his fingers around Dean’s elbow, a grip that promised to stay there until Dean answered the question. Dean looked at him, bemused. “You know that I’m totally not a philosopher, right?” Dean asked finally. “I’m sure that there are mooks on the Interwebs who’ve been debating this question for centuries. I mean, you don’t even need to have bots around in order for the question of chaos vs. order to be important.”

“I don’t care about the opinions of ‘mooks on the Interwebs,’” Cas said almost distastefully, and Dean grinned a little at the expression on his face. “You, though, are another matter entirely.”

“Really want an answer that bad, huh?” Dean asked. “I don’t know, what do you think?”

“Evasion,” Cas said.

“You’re evading my evasion,” Dean answered. “C’mon. Take a crack at it. What do you think about the eternal struggle? Is it worth it?”

Cas was quiet for a moment, his gaze shifting to stare off into the distance. Strangely enough, Dean actually found himself feeling rather edgy as he waited for Cas’ answer. “Yes?” Cas said finally.

“You don’t sound very sure,” Dean said, though something inside of him relaxed at the tentative answer.

“In absolute order, there is only one course,” Cas said slowly. “One must travel the path of a horizontal line with no deviations. But with free will, there are highs and lows in the path.” He glanced at Dean briefly, the blue eyes resting on Dean’s face for a fraction of a second. “And those deviations are what make life worthwhile.”

Dean let out a shaky breath. “Wow,” he said after a moment. “That’s very…Zen. You should write a book on that.”

“Insofar, of course, that I have a life,” Cas added, and Dean laughed.

“You’ve got one,” he said, placing his hand around Cas’. “We’re all supposed to be made out of electricity, anyway, so it shouldn’t matter if we’re made out of carbon or silicon.”

“So you feel the same way?”

“Not in such pretty terms, but yeah, I’d say so,” Dean said with a nod. “Count me in on Team Free Will. I’ll let you be vice president if you make the membership cards.” He grinned at Cas, and while Cas didn’t exactly smile back, he did look a little less forbidding.

Dean squeezed his wrist briefly before letting go. “There,” he said after a moment as Cas continued to look at him. “Now that we’ve got all that cleared up…”

“Let’s go pick up Ruby.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “As if I could forget.”

The Technosales booth wasn’t hard to find—it was one of the biggest around, with a huge, glitzy logo above it that threatened to blind Dean if he stared at it too long. “Winchester here for Lot 106?” the woman manning the booth asked as Dean gave his name. “Ah. Yes. That appears to be in order.” She gave Dean a smile, although it didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Jason!” she called, and the aforementioned man trotted over. “Fetch 106 from the storage room. Just one moment please, sirs,” she added to Dean and Cas. “There are chairs over there if you want to sit.”

Cas lowered himself into one of the chairs carefully, as if it might leap up and bite him. Dean took a seat next to him, staring meditatively at the people walking by. “How many bots do you suppose come through their company every day?” Cas murmured. “What happens to those that receive no bids?”

“Don’t get all fatalistic on me, Cas,” Dean told him. “Besides, they don’t just sell bots. They sell a lot of hi-tech gadgetry too. I think most of their stock is composed of mechbots, not smartbots.”

“I know,” Cas said. The side of his mouth pulled up slightly. “All the same, I can’t help but wonder.”

“Well, that’s a good sign, isn’t it,” Dean said softly, “because most bots don’t have the luxury of imagination. You do. Ruby will, too.”

“And that’s a good thing. As we’ve established.”

“It’s better to have the choice and hate it than to not have it at all,” Dean said. “Put it this way: if she really hates being able to think, then she can ask to have it reversed. If that’s what she really wants. Ash’s a good guy. He’d give her that choice.”

“Perhaps,” Cas said. He didn’t sound very convinced, but he did straighten up slightly.

They sat in companionable silence for a few more minutes, waiting. Cas spotted her first: she was walking just behind the sales guy, her face blank in a way that gave Dean a bad feeling. “Sirs!” the woman at the counter called. “Your item is here!”

Cas’ face darkened slightly at the word ‘item,’ but Dean gripped his arm and refused to let go. “Looks good,” he said as they approached the counter. “What’s, uh, what’s with the…was she reset?”

“As per Technosales policy, yes,” the woman said, and Dean felt a sinking sensation in his stomach. “Sign here please,” she added, oblivious.

“What if I wanted the original personality?” Dean asked, not letting go of Cas’ arm as he signed with his free hand. “Is it possible for me to retrieve that?”

“I’m afraid not, sir.”

Well, shit, Dean thought. Cas regarded Ruby’s blank face with a flat look, and it didn’t take a genius to guess the thoughts going through his head. “Cas,” Dean began as they headed away from the booth, Ruby trotting obediently behind them. “I’m—”

“Don’t, Dean,” Cas said, and probably the worst part was that he sounded tired, not angry. As they neared the Impala, he got into the passenger’s seat without a word. Ruby slid in the back, and it was unnerving, seeing her blank face in the mirror.

“We can reprogram her. Somehow. I mean, worst comes to worst I’ll just do random programming magic again and we’ll see how that works,” Dean said. “I mean, my first try got you, so I’m not that bad at it.”

Cas was quiet for a long moment. “I know,” he said at last, which wasn’t much, but at least it was better than the stony silence. “Dean, I—I appreciate your effort.”

Dean raised an eyebrow. “But you’re disappointed.”

“This, I believe, is a low on the emotional scale,” Cas said, turning to look out the window. “It’s difficult to quantify accurately, but yes. Disappointment is an adequate word for it.”

Dean tapped his fingers on the steering wheel, thinking it over. He could do random programming magic before Ash got his hands on her, yeah. Or he could try to duplicate Sam’s original programming. After all, Sam had had her for years, and Dean should have a pretty good handle on what her personality was like—

Or, y’know, maybe he could just ask Sam.

“Maybe I can just ask Sam,” Dean said. Castiel turned to look at him, eyes narrowed. “Sam’s almost OCD at times, I swear. I bet he kept a list of Ruby’s programming specs around.”

“Would he?”

“Yeah,” Dean said. “I mean, I won’t know until I ask, will I?”

X

“Seriously?” Sam asked incredulously as Bitchface #4: Dean, What Have You Done Now appeared. “You bought Ruby?”

“Why is that such a big deal?” Dean demanded, glaring at his stupid Sasquatch expression. As Sam continued to stare at him, Dean sighed and said, “Look, it’s a...thing, okay? I don’t get it either.”

“Thing,” Sam repeated. “You have a thing for Ruby? Jesus. If you’d told me that in the first place—”

“No, I do not have a thing for Ruby!” Dean said, holding up a hand to stop Sam from delving into unknown and treacherous depths. “It’s a thing, not my thing. You know, it’s a thing in general.”

“Your thing in general, you mean. Wow. I remember a time when you hated all technology and avoided anything invented after 2100. And now you’re collecting bots?” Sam said, and damn it, he was grinning now, a stupid smug grin that made Dean want to punch his lights out. “I didn’t know you had a thing for threesomes.”

“Sam!”

“What? It’s not a bad thing. I mean, Jess and I tried it out once or twice with Ruby.”

“Sam.”

“What? It wasn’t as great as advertised, though. I still can’t believe you bought Ruby. Seriously, man, if you’d told me that you wanted her, I would’ve just given her to you.” Sam crossed his arms, frowning now. “Seriously, man. Why’d you buy her? I mean, you’re not even having sex with your current one, so why two? And don’t just say it’s a thing.” And oh, god, the amusement was fading away, replaced by oozing concern from every pore. “Are you lonely, Dean? Because I know some great places where you can meet people. Real people.”

It was enough of a non sequitur that Dean had to laugh. “Dude, I’m not isolating myself from the human world if that’s what you’re wondering.”

“Then what?” Sam persisted. “Seriously, man. Half a year ago you wouldn’t have touched smartbots with a ten-foot pole. And now you’re starting up a collection? Is something wrong?”

Dean smiled a little. “God, Sam. You’re such a wussy girl. No, okay? Look. It’s a gift for someone.”

Sam paused. “Oh.”

“Yeah, oh,” Dean said, shaking his head. “There, happy now? Jesus. What was with the mother hen routine, anyway? Can’t I buy something without you clucking about it?”

Sam shrugged, looking a little rueful. “Nah. It’s just that—you hear stories, you know? People who get so caught up with technology that they completely lose touch with reality. And some who do really wacko things with their bots. Did you hear about the guy who replaced his wife with a bot that looked exactly like her? Turned out he’d killed her six months ago and buried her in the basement. It wasn’t until his mother-in-law came for a visit that she figured out that it was actually a bot.”

“Seriously?” Dean asked, impressed despite himself. “What happened to him?”

“Insanity plea,” Sam said. “We followed the case in class. It kind of freaks me out when people mistake technology for people.”

“Uh,” Dean said. “Yeah.” He coughed. “Listen, Sam…”

“Yeah?” Sam asked.

“You ever, uh…you ever wish Ruby was a human?” Dean coughed, looking down.

There was a pause. “You do know that she’s not, right?”

“I know,” Dean said, irritated. “I’m saying what if, Sam. If Ruby were, you know, real, would you have spent the rest of your life with her? Settled down, have kids, all that jazz?”

Sam blew out a breath. “Did Jess put you up to this? Please don’t tell me this is some stupid test.”

“No test, Sam. Just asking.”

Sam was quiet for a minute or so, worrying his bottom lip. Finally, he said slowly, “We had some good times together. Good fun, great sex.” He frowned. “But she’s a toy, Dean. I mean, at some point you’ve got to put them away.” He took a deep breath. “Why? What’s up between you and Cas?”

“Nothing’s up,” Dean said irritably. “This is about Ruby. Focus.”

Sam blew out yet another martyred breath. “Look, you wouldn’t be the first guy to fall for a bot,” he said quietly in his stupid, heartfelt puppy dog way. “I mean, there was a point where I thought I loved Ruby, too. But you have to realize that if it seems easy to love them, it’s because that’s what they’re designed to do, man. They’re supposed to complement you perfectly so that you’ll love them. But again, there’s a line between bot and human. They’re never going to be as good as the real thing.”

But Cas is as good as the real thing. The thought rose unbidden to Dean’s mind, and it was a sign of self-control that the words never made it out of his mouth. Jesus. “Yeah, I know,” he said instead.

“Do you?”

It was Dean’s turn to sigh as he rubbed a hand tiredly across his face. “I didn’t come here for an examination of my mortal psyche,” he said at last, putting as much irritation into as he could. “Look, do you have Ruby’s protocols or not?”

“Dean…”

“Zip it, Sam.”

Sam was quiet for a moment. “I’ve got her original protocols on a memory drive in my office,” he said finally. “It’s an .aip file on my desktop. I can send it to you.”

“You know, I'm half-surprised that you didn't just delete her already," Dean commented. "I mean, clean break and all that?"
 
Sam flushed. "Shut up, Dean. You should be glad I haven't gotten around to clearing her out yet."

Dean shrugged, letting it go while he could. “Thanks, Sam. Can you send it to me by tomorrow?”

“Better, I’ll get it to you tonight. Check your mail.” Sam stood up, bracing his hands against the table. “Listen, Dean. About Ruby.”

“Yeah?” Dean asked, suddenly wary. “Look, I’m not about to kill you and put her in your place, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“Nah,” Sam said, waving a hand. “You’d miss my wit too much, admit it. No, it’s, uh…after, if you want to bring Ruby around. I mean, when Jess isn’t here, obviously.”

Dean raised an eyebrow. “Jesus. Jess’s got you whipped, hasn’t she?”

“It has its benefits,” Sam said with a grin. “But, you know. I wouldn’t mind seeing Ruby again.” He looked wistful for a moment before shaking his head.

“But we’ve all got to move on some day?” Dean completed for him.

“Yeah, that,” Sam said. “Anyway. I sure hope your ‘friend’ appreciates this gift,” he added with a wry smile.

“Yeah,” Dean murmured. “So do I.”

X

Dean dropped Ruby off at Ash’s (well, Bobby’s, but it might as well have been Ash’s) trailer the next day, leaving Ash to have wild paroxysms of joy in peace. “So, all in well, it went okay, I guess,” Dean told Cas when he got home. “I mean, he geeked out a lot. Also, apparently he owes me a zillion favors that are payable in either blood or sex, since he’s a progressive man and everything.”

“And did you accept?” Cas asked. “It seems rather impractical.”

“Nah. I’m stuck permanently in the 22nd century,” Dean said, leaning back against the sofa. “Anyway, I figured that I still did owe him a bit for, you know, your brain thing.”

“Brain thing,” Cas repeated, raising an eyebrow.

Dean waved a hand. “You know what I mean.”

“Fortunately, yes,” Cas said. “A side effect of cohabitating with you is picking up an ability to understand your gibberish, it seems.”

Dean laughed. “Gibberish? I’m hurt. Besides, you love my gibberish and you know it.”

“Yes,” Cas said simply.

Dean paused and reviewed his words. “Ah,” he said after a moment. “Look, Cas…”

“I know,” Cas said, cutting Dean off with a sort of tired finality. “Courting’s often a difficult path, I’ve been told.”

“Told by who?” Dean said, sitting up. “Please don’t tell me you’ve been getting relationship advice from Ellen.”

“Does Ellen dispense any?” Cas asked, blue eyes wide and guileless. Dean flapped a hand at him. “Perhaps I should attempt that route next time.”

“Spare me from Ellen’s tender mercies, please,” Dean said, shaking his head with a barely contained grin. “The excitement would send my blood pressure through the roof.”

“Perhaps I should stop making cheeseburgers, then,” Cas said gravely.

“Hey, no threatening the cheeseburgers,” Dean said, raising a finger. “I’d go into cheeseburger withdrawal, and that’s just cruel.”

“Love can be an arduous path,” Cas intoned, and this time, Dean did laugh. “All’s fair in love and war.”

“Spare me from the clichés, please!” Dean said.

“They’re called clichés for a reason,” Cas informed him. “I do not know if they ever involved cheese, though.”

“Yeah, cheese isn’t really a traditional romantic thing,” Dean agreed. “It’s more like flowers, chocolate, shit like that.”

“Perhaps I should purchase a bouquet of flowers for you?”

“What the hell would I do with flowers?” Dean asked, tilting his head to look at Cas. “I mean, eventually they’d wither and die and that’s just depressing. Besides, I’m too busy to throw them out every day.”

“Chocolate?”

Dean paused, studying Cas’ face. “Chocolate’s okay,” he said cautiously. “But you do know that you don’t have to get them, right? I mean, I don’t need them. And I don’t want you to get them because you think you have to get them because if you don’t get them then I’ll be pissed. Or something. I mean, you get what I’m saying, right?”

“You want me to be human,” Cas said. “Or should I say, ‘human-Cas,’ not ‘robo-Cas.’ But I don’t know how to prove this hypothesis to you.”

Dean took a moment to unravel his thoughts, slowly piecing out what he wanted to say. Finally, he said, “I want you to say yes because you can say no. And, I don’t know, man. Until we get this shit figured out, I think it’s just safer to…stop.”

“Safer for you? Or safer for me?” Cas said intently. “I can assure you that no harm is being perpetrated either way.”

Dean sighed. “Cas, can we not fight about this?”

“I’m not fighting,” Cas said, and damn him, he wasn’t. It was Dean who was getting fidgety at this topic, because hell, he had been celibate for a long time and yeah, there was this part of him that really wanted to jump Cas’ bones. On the other hand, well…

They’re never going to be as good as the real thing, Sam’s voice said into his mind. A cynical part of Dean said that since Dean had never actually known the real thing, well, he’d never be able to tell one from the other. Dean wasn’t really looking forward to adding Cas’ name to the list of his failed relationships, and damn, it always got complicated when you added sex to the equation.

“Ash said Ruby’s going to be up and about in a week,” Dean said, changing the subject. Cas’ eyes dimmed slightly, but he slowly settled back into his seat without another word. “He says he’s got a hang of the enviroprint or whatever, so it should be faster this time. You want to see her then?”

There was a moment of silence that seemed to stretch on and on. Dean toyed with the arm of his chair, trying not to squirm under Cas’ eyes. Coward’s way out, changing the subject, but fuck it all, Dean was just not built for this kind of talk. Finally, Cas said, “That would be pleasant, yes.”

“Thought you said you hated her,” Dean said, trying hard to lighten the mood.

“I have greater patience when it comes to dealing with people.” Cas stood up before adding, “but it’s not infinite, Dean.”

Cas disappeared into the kitchen, leaving Dean sitting on the couch. “Ah,” Dean said after a moment as the implication of Cas’ words sank in. “Well, fuck.”
 
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