The house is huge and peeling and haunted-looking, although Dean can vouch that it is free of any and all restless spirits, having checked very thoroughly himself armed with salt and his homemade EMF meter. Some of the windows are boarded up and Dean knows the plumbing doesn’t work at all, and the electricity is literally ancient and will need serious tuning.

“It needs a new coat of paint,” Dean says. “The shutters too.”

“I don’t understand,” says Castiel.

Dean sighs and scrubs his hand down his face. “It’s yours now, Cas. You need a place to live and this— it was cheap, it’s not very nice, it needs fixing up, but that’s good, it’ll give you something to do, plus Sam’s nearby if you need—”

“Just to be clear,” Castiel interrupts. “You’re giving me… a house.”

Castiel turns to look back at the house, and Dean can see his eyes lingering on the tiny lawn and the weedy bushes by the front door. Cas could probably put a garden there, if he wanted.

“Yeah, I guess,” Dean says, uncomfortable with how that sounds. He’s just helping his newly-human friend set up his newly-human life. That’s all.

“This is a… very large house, Dean.”

“Well, yeah, I mean, you never know, you might… meet someone…”

Castiel gives him such a disbelieving look that Dean snaps his mouth shut.

“What is this really about, Dean?” Castiel demands.

“Exactly what I said, I want—”


“I want you to have a life, okay?” Dean says, fast. “I want you to be happy. I… it’s not my life, my life can’t— anyway, I want your life to be… better. Than mine.”

Castiel’s eyebrows are pinched together like Dean is the most confusing, frustrating thing he’s ever seen, and then he breathes out, and he says, “Oh.”

He turns to look at the house, the big monster with the red shutters and the tiny little lawn out front, then turns to Dean and sighs deeply, and Dean’s stomach sinks when he realizes that Castiel has seen right through him, as he always does.

“This is your house, Dean,” Castiel says.

Dean swallows around the horrible lump in his throat, and he spends several long seconds staring at the beat up front door before meeting Castiel’s eyes.

“I like the shutters,” he says finally.

Cas is giving him a look again, but this one of exasperated fondness, and Dean both loves and hates that look. Loves how it looks on Castiel’s face. Hates how it makes him feel so very precious.

“I want your life to be better, too, Dean,” Castiel says.

“The lawn needs a mow,” Dean says. “I could stick around, if you wanted— and then the shutters—”

Castiel smiles, small and quiet, and nods.