Why I Ship Dean/Castiel–After Swearing to God I Wouldn’t

*****UPDATED 6/11/14*******

I am not a fangirl.

That is I’m not a narrow-minded fangirl. There are fictional characters that I love to the point where I wish they were my friends in real life, but said love is not blind love. I pride myself on my ability to see the best and the worst in people, fictional or real, and I often take great pleasure in commenting on their flaws as much as I do their awesomeness. I also pride myself on being fair. If a character that I loathe beyond all measure has redeeming qualities, I will commend them for it no matter how much it pains me to do so. I will also never “bash” a character no matter how much I hate them. And by bashing I mean I won’t exaggerate their flaws to make them even worse than they already are, nor will I add flaws. I may be guilty of taking liberties with canon as much as the next fan fiction author, but my respect for canon has always been strong to the point where I will criticize a writer for telling me their characters or events are a certain way when they’re portrayed in an entirely different way altogether. Like how a certain narcissist, cowardly Sue-author insists that her sparkly hero is a selfless, loving individual when her writing clearly portrays him as a self-centered, highly abusive stalker.

When it comes to shipping you wouldn’t be wrong to call my respect for canon somewhat fanatical. I am incapable of shipping a pairing unless one, said pairing is canon, or two, at least one character’s love for another is canon. Okay, I can enjoy a non-canon pairing fic no problem, but enjoying and shipping are two entirely separate matters.

So how, do you ask, can I ship Dean and Castiel when it couldn’t be more obvious that the pairing is most definitely not canon? Simple. Because the other requirement for me to ship a pairing is more than fulfilled in spades: Castiel is in love with Dean Winchester.

He is.

I know the writers never intended for him to be, but he is.

Please understand that I didn’t come to this conclusion lightly. In fact, in my fanatical respect for “canon” I fought it with everything I had. I rewatched every scene, took all dialogue, action, and even body language into account. Hell, in the end, in my desperation I even deluded myself in the worst way possible by telling myself that because the writers never intended for Castiel’s feelings to run that deep for Dean then they don’t. All because the creators say so. And it worked like a charm. In fact, had I decided to never watch another episode of Supernatural again I would have retained that delusion no problem. But alas, rewatching Supernatural weighed too heavily on my conscience (God, aren’t I a drama queen?) and I realized that to hold onto my delusion would be self-righteous hypocrisy, something I detest even more than evil. I can delude myself no longer.

For those of you who have never watched Supernatural, Castiel is an angel of God who rescued Dean Winchester, a human hunter of the supernatural, from Hell. Like most angels he is aloof and emotionally detached, serving what he believes to be the will of God without hesitance. But he quickly forms an attachment to Dean and in the process develops his empathy for humanity, admitting to having questions and doubts regarding the orders Heaven has given him (he has never received orders from, or even seen/spoken to God directly). His affection for Dean and his doubts grow to the point where he attempts to rebel against Heaven upon learning that the angels have been trying to bring about the Apocalypse instead of preventing it. Though his efforts fail and he is captured and tortured into obedience once again, his renewed callousness doesn’t last long. He eventually succeeds in rebelling and throughout Season 5 fights alongside the Winchesters against the forces of Heaven and Hell.

The bond between Dean and Castiel is without a doubt one of the major highlights of the show overall. Even without the hardcore evidence I’m about to present it wouldn’t be unjustified for fans to interpret their chemistry as romantic (on Castiel’s part). But the hardcore evidence isn’t shown until the end of Season 4, so for now let’s analyze their relationship from start to finish.

Note: only Seasons 1 through 5 exists in this analysis. I am not including anything from the abomination/character rape that is Seasons 6 and 7.

To say the beginning of their relationship is rocky would be a grand understatement. Dean returns from Hell knowing full well the deal he made to save Sam should have bound him there for all of eternity. At first all he has to go on are a bunch of collapsed trees surrounding his grave, a hand-shaped burn on his left shoulder, and the logical assumption that only an ultra-powerful demon could have been strong enough to overpower the authority of Lilith, the first demon, herself. Things are made worse when Castiel makes two attempts to talk to Dean using his real voice, believing Dean to be one of the few humans who can perceive an angel’s true form without being harmed. Unfortunately, he’s mistaken and only succeeds in making Dean’s ears bleed along with shattering a few windows. But the last straw is when Sam, Dean, and Bobby enlist the help of psychic Pamela Barnes to contact Castiel. She succeeds, and her eyes are completely incinerated. Dean, presuming he’s being fucked with by a sadistic monster, summons Castiel. He and Bobby ward a barn with every demon protection sigil they know, but Castiel arrives accompanied by thunder and lightning and completely unaffected by the wards, along with the rock-salt from Dean and Bobby’s guns. He even seems somewhat amused when Dean stabs him in the heart with Ruby’s demon-killing knife.

Despite this, we do see the beginning of a bond between the two. Dean is highly reluctant to believe in the existence of angels, and is pretty much hell-bent on denouncing the prospect that an angel of the Lord would rescue him of all people from Hell.

Castiel: Good things do happen, Dean.

Dean: (glaring) Not in my experience.

Castiel is already well aware that Dean is without faith, but immediately realizes why, something that Sam, Dean’s own brother, failed to understand.

Castiel: (peering closely, confused) What’s the matter? (understanding)  You don’t think you deserve to be saved.

Which pretty much sums it up. But note this; Castiel seems very confused why Dean doesn’t believe he deserves to be saved even though he’s well aware Dean broke after thirty years of torture and spent the last ten years tormenting thousands of souls with immense pleasure. You could argue that it’s just Castiel’s angelic nature. God says Dean deserves salvation so he does deserve salvation, no questions asked. But remember, Castiel is well aware that Dean has no faith in any higher power, let alone God, so he has to know Dean wouldn’t give two shits about what God thought. He’s confused why Dean and Dean alone doesn’t believe he deserves salvation. The only answer would be that Castiel sees something very positive in Dean, something he thinks Dean should be able to see just as easily in spite of the atrocities he committed.

Their next encounter is far more hostile. Castiel visits Dean in a dream to praise him for a job well done with the rising of the Witnesses. Dean is furious that the angels knew about it yet did nothing to help, and chews Castiel out to the point where Castiel loses his temper, icily informing Dean that he’s not here to perch on his shoulder. He’s a warrior of God fighting to prevent the release of Lucifer.

Castiel: Our numbers are not unlimited. Six of my brothers died in the field this week. You think the armies of Heaven should just follow you around? There’s a bigger picture here. (puts his face very close to Dean’s, voice dropping to an icy whisper) You should show me some respect. I dragged you out of Hell. I can throw you back in.

It’s in the next episode “In the Beginning” where Castiel begins to show that he’s starting to learn from Dean. He sends Dean back in time in order to show him the reason for the Winchester family’s connection to the demon Azazel. When Dean makes plans to kill Azazel, Castiel informs him that if he alters the future in such a way all the people the Winchesters saved will die.

Dean: I realize.

Castiel: And you don’t care?

Dean: Oh, I care. I care a lot. But these are my parents. I’m not gonna let them die again. I can’t. Not if I can stop it.

When Dean fails to kill Azazel and can only watch in devastation as his mother makes the deal with the demon in order to save her boyfriend’s life, Castiel appears behind him to lay a hand on his shoulder, his eyes sympathetic. He’s beginning to understand how deep human devotion runs, enabling him to empathize with Dean’s pain. Still, he makes sure Dean knows that the angels won’t stand for Sam honing his demonic abilities and they will stop him if Dean can’t. Dean takes the threat seriously and warns his brother.

In “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” Castiel shows up with his partner Uriel to inform the Winchesters that they need to leave town because they’re going to destroy it in order to stop a Seal from breaking. Castiel is calm in the face of the Winchester’s outrage, telling them to have faith even if they couldn’t understand: the order comes from Heaven, which automatically makes it just. Of course, Dean interprets that as blindness, not faith.

Dean: Of course you have a choice. I mean, come on, what? You’ve never questioned a crap order, huh? What are you both just a couple of hammers?

Dean flatly responds that he and Sam aren’t going anywhere. If the angels want to smite the town, they’ll have to take the brothers with it. The brothers fail and the seal breaks, but when Castiel visits Dean in the town’s park he assures him he’s not here to judge him. He surprises Dean by telling him that his and Uriel’s orders weren’t to stop the seal from breaking but to do what Dean told them, supposedly to test him.

Dean: So I uh—failed your test huh? I get it. But you know what? If you would have waved that magic time travelling wand of yours and we had to do it all over again, I’d make the same call. Cause see, I don’t know what’s gonna happen when these seals are broken, hell I don’t even know what’s gonna happen tomorrow. But what I do know is, that this, here? These kids, the swings, the trees, all of it is still here because of my brother and me.

Castiel: You misunderstand me, Dean, I’m not like you think. I was praying that you would choose to save the town…These people, they’re all my father’s creations. They’re works of art.

And then…

Castiel: Can I tell you something if you promise not to tell another soul?

Dean: Okay.

Castiel: I’m not a…hammer as you say. I have questions, I have doubts. I don’t know what is right and what is wrong anymore.

Meaning Castiel’s previous stoicism was a complete sham. But what’s way more astonishing is that despite the still very rough edges in their relationship, Castiel is putting a lot of trust in Dean by telling him such a thing. And I mean a lot. If word ever got to Castiel’s superiors that he had such doubts he would be killed immediately or dragged to Heaven’s torture chambers to be cleansed of his sins.

Anna: Dean, do you know how many angels have seen God? Seen his face?

Dean: All of you?

Anna: Four angels. Four. And I’m not one of ‘em.

Dean: That’s it? Well, then, how do you know that there even is a God?

Anna: We have to take it on faith. Which we’re killed if we don’t have.

The fact that he would take such a risk not only shows the pure, unconditional trust he has in Dean, but also how much he values Dean’s opinion of him.

This is a goldmine for slash fans, but is it enough to make Castiel’s romantic feelings canon? Nope. Not by a long shot. We’ve still got a far way to go.

Things get very heated again between the two in “Heaven and Hell” when Castiel and Uriel are sent to kill Anna, a fallen angel and someone Dean has grown to care for.

Dean: You’re some heartless sons of bitches, aren’t you?

Castiel: As a matter of fact, we are. And?

Eventually, Uriel comes to Dean in a dream and threatens to kill Sam if they don’t hand Anna over.

Dean: Don’t usually see you off your leash. Where’s your boss?

Uriel: Castiel? He’s, uh, he’s not here. See, he has this weakness. He likes you.

I know how slash fans would love to interpret that, and it’s perfectly okay for them to do so. But sorry. Still not nearly enough for canon.

The Winchesters set a trap by luring the two angels and the demon Alastair’s forces to the same place where they can fight it out. Before said fight, Anna forgives Dean (she was ignorant to their plan) and kisses him. Castiel watches the kiss with an unusually intense look before dropping his head in shame after Anna tells Dean she forgives him. During the fight between angels and demons, Castiel is overwhelmed by Alastair. The demon starts exorcising him from his vessel, but Dean hits him over the head with a crow bar. The day is saved when Anna gets her grace back and uses her regained angelic powers to banish Alastair. Uriel is furious and makes to attack Dean, but Castiel repays the earlier favor by pulling his subordinate back and leaving the Winchesters unharmed.

I’ve read a lot of interpretations regarding the intense look Castiel gives the kissing scene between Anna and Dean. Slash fans, as you may guess, prefer to interpret it as jealousy. Non slash fans see it more as confusion. I personally believe Castiel was trying to understand the bond between Anna and Dean, did understand when Anna granted forgiveness, and was shamed that he was the one who had to destroy it.

In “Death Takes a Holiday” Sam and Dean thwart Alastair’s efforts to break a Seal, and as an added bonus the angels manage to capture him. Castiel is triumphant, Dean is less than enthusiastic.

Castiel: Dean this was a victory.

Dean: Well, no thanks to you.

Castiel: What makes you say that?

Hmm. No threats of throwing Dean into Hell. Sounds like Castiel is getting a bit more tolerant of Dean’s defiance. Could it be that he regrets his harshness before?

Castiel explains that far from being idle, he was the one who fed Dean vital information through a phone call, but disguised his voice to sound like it was coming from Bobby. When he reveals his deception, he even looks a little ashamed of it.

Dean: If you want our help, why the hell didn’t you just ask?

Castiel: Because whatever I ask—you seem to do the exact opposite.

Very true. And you have every right to be exasperated about that, Cas. Dean can be extremely infuriating. I mean, so far all you’ve asked is to let Uriel vaporize an entire town filled with innocent men, women, and children, and to hand over your own sister to be brutally murdered when all she wanted was the happiness and freedom all angels have been denied since their creation. Why wouldn’t Dean be reluctant to trust you?

Castiel then reveals a bitter twist to their victory: with Alastair captured, the reaper he had planned to sacrifice in the ritual to break the Seal is now free to take the deceased into the next life. Dean is indignant about this. Good people are dying, so why can’t the angels make an exception for them like they did for him?

Castiel: You’re different.

A vague answer that can have several meanings. Consider something, though. As a foot soldier, Castiel only knows the bare minimum of what his bosses are really doing. He’s only told what he needs to know to carry out his orders successfully. But he does know that Dean broke the first Seal when he started torturing in Hell, and that, according to his bosses, Dean is the only one who can stop the Apocalypse. So, why didn’t he tell Dean then? Obviously, because of his growing empathy, he really didn’t want to so he settled for neutrality. Dean is obviously different because of his role in the Apocalypse, but even now I highly doubt you’d be wrong to translate “You’re different” to “You’re better,” even if you take the Apocalypse out of the picture.

Hmm.

In “On the Head of a Pin” we learn that seven angels have been murdered by an unknown culprit. Castiel and Uriel go to Dean to ask that he use the torture skills he learned in Hell to interrogate the now captured Alastair. We also learn that Castiel has been demoted and Uriel is now in charge of their missions.

Dean: What’s going on, Cas? (off his confused look) Since when does Uriel put a leash on you?

Castiel: (uncomfortable) I uh…my superiors have begun to question my sympathies.

Dean: Your sympathies?

Castiel: I was getting too close to the humans in my charge. You.

Note: In a deleted scene Castiel adds “even to your brother.” I’m very glad they cut that out because let’s be realistic, guys: Castiel’s friendship with Sam doesn’t exist. Castiel calls Sam his friend in Season Five, but the only true interaction they have beforehand is when they first meet. And any personal interaction afterward is very limited. Sorry, Kripke. That’s not how storytelling works. If you just tell instead of show, then it’s contrived. Which is a damn shame because I would have loved to have seen a real friendship between Sam and Castiel.

Anyway, moving on.

Castiel: (cont.) They feel I’ve begun to express emotions. The doorways to doubt. This can impair my judgment.

From this exchange, it is heavily implied exactly why Castiel was demoted.

Dean: Well, tell Uriel or whoever…you do not want me doing this, trust me.

Castiel: Want it, no. But I’ve been told we need it.

Dean: (agonized) Cas, the things that I did…what I became…you ask me to open that door and walk through it…you will not like what walks back out.

Castiel: (trying to convince himself as much as Dean) You know what we’re all fighting for, dying for. What Pamela lost her life for. You know what will happen if we fail. (pause) For what it’s worth…I would give anything not to have you do this.

It’s never confirmed, but from this I firmly believe Castiel was demoted because he protested against having Dean torture Alastair. And that…that does get you thinking. I mean, we already know he has doubts. He wanted Dean to spare the town and he didn’t want to kill Anna, but it’s only when Dean’s wellbeing that’s at stake does he make an outright protest to his superiors. Dean’s wellbeing. Not the wellbeing of over twelve-hundred people or even his own sister/former superior.

And even if I’m wrong, even if he wasn’t demoted due to protesting he outright says that he would “give anything” to spare Dean this trauma, not just pray like he did for the town or feel regret like he did for Anna.

That really does get you thinking, especially since they aren’t even friends yet. Still, it’s not enough.

As Dean tortures Alastair, Castiel waits behind the door. We see the deep, internal battle behind his eyes and when Anna shows up he almost desperately insists that Dean is doing God’s will. He’s filled with doubt and even begins to ponder the possibility that his orders aren’t coming from God. Still, he is revolted by the idea of falling and dismisses Anna in disgust when she suggests an alliance between them.

Alastair escapes and beats Dean to within an inch of his life. Before he can exorcise Castiel, Sam arrives and interrogates him with his demonic powers before killing him. Later at the hospital Sam delivers devastating news to Castiel: Dean’s suffering was completely pointless. The demons aren’t killing the angels. This combined with Uriel receiving Revelation that Heaven has commanded them to stop hunting the ones who are killing their brothers and sisters causes Castiel to seek out Anna again; his suspicions that God is not behind his orders have grown strong and he is now considering disobedience. However, he is still reluctant to act on his own accord and begs Anna to tell him what to do. She refuses. It’s time to think for himself.

After Uriel is revealed to be the murderer and is killed by Anna, Castiel visits Dean in the hospital. He reluctantly confirms that Dean did break the first Seal when he tortured his first soul in Hell. A devastated Dean demands why the angels didn’t just leave him there, and Castiel insists that Dean isn’t to blame, once again expressing his dislike of Dean’s insistence that he doesn’t deserve salvation. He then tells Dean that the Righteous Man who begins the breaking of the Seals is the only one who can stop Lucifer and the Apocalypse. Dean breaks down, claiming he can’t do it. He’s not strong enough. Castiel, considerate of Dean’s vulnerability, merely sits silently by his side.

So, slash fans, no evidence here. Dean is playing a big role in feeding Castiel’s doubts, but not the only role. There’s just bond-building here. But we’re getting closer to the core evidence.

In “The Monster at the End of the Book” the Winchesters encounter the prophet Chuck who has been documenting the brother’s adventures in the book series Supernatural. One such prophecy involves Sam making a deal with Lilith that involves them having sex. Naturally, Dean is hell-bent on preventing this from happening, and in his desperation he prays to Heaven for help. Castiel is delighted that Dean is showing faith at long last, but denies Dean’s plea to get Sam out of town. He’s touched by Dean’s plight, but adamantly says that he can’t interfere with divine prophecy.

Dean: Screw you. You and your mission. Your God. If you don’t help me now, then when the time comes and you need me—don’t bother knockin’ (furiously storms away).

Castiel: Dean. Dean!

Dean: (stops) What!?

Castiel: You must understand why I can’t intercede. Prophets are very special. They’re protected.

Dean: I get that.

Castiel: If anything threatens a prophet, anything at all, an archangel will appear to destroy that threat. Archangels are fierce. They’re absolute. They’re Heaven’s most terrifying weapon.

Dean: And these archangels, they’re tied to prophets?

Castiel: Yes.

Dean: (understanding) So if a prophet was in the same room as a demon…

Castiel: …Then the most fearsome wrath of Heaven would rain down on that demon. (shrugs casually) Just so you understand… why I can’t help.

Dean: (nods) Thanks, Cas.

Castiel: Good luck.

I want you all to understand exactly what Castiel has done here. His doubts are very strong, he’s considering disobedience, and the reason he is considering disobedience is because he believes his orders are not coming from God, and God is the one he serves. Just before Uriel was about to kill him, his last words were, “You can’t win, Uriel. I still serve God.”

And what was said earlier about prophets? They may serve Heaven, but their visions are the word of God.

Castiel, and angel so fiercely loyal to God that he would be willing to give up his life and disobey his superiors for him, has just defied the word of his Lord all for the sake of Dean Winchester.

The only argument against this is that Castiel was responding to Dean’s threat to never help him again. But let’s be realistic. After the events of “On the Head of a Pin,” after he confessed to Anna that he was “considering disobedience,” I know he would be thrilled if Dean never had to follow Heaven’s orders again. The only logical argument is that he gave in because he was afraid of losing Dean personally. And they’re still far from friends.

That really gets you thinking, but we’re still not quite there yet. Almost though.

In “The Rapture” an extremely nervous Castiel appears to Dean in a dream, insisting that they need to talk. He gives Dean an address to an abandoned warehouse in the fear someone else could be listening to Dean’s thoughts. Both Sam and Dean make their way to said warehouse and find the aftermath of a battle between angels along with Castiel’s human vessel, Jimmy Novak. According to Anna, Castiel really pissed someone off and he was dragged back to Heaven. At the end of “The Rapture” Castiel appears just in time to save the Winchesters and Jimmy’s family from demons. He starts to leave, but Dean calls him back and asks what it was he wanted to tell him. Castiel fixes Dean with a very frigid look.

Castiel: I learned my lesson while I was away, Dean. I serve Heaven. I don’t serve man. (almost sneering) And I certainly don’t serve you.

It is later revealed that Castiel had intended to warn Dean that the angels intended for the Apocalypse to occur, for Sam to kill Lilith (Lilith’s death is the final Seal to release Lucifer), and for Dean and Sam to serve as the vessels for Michael and Lucifer. Castiel was dragged back to Heaven and tortured until he agreed to obey Heaven’s orders once again. But note this; Castiel tells Dean he doesn’t serve man, and he certainly doesn’t serve him. He certainly doesn’t serve Dean. Which means when Heaven’s persuaders were working on him they made it especially clear to Castiel that he didn’t serve Dean. Meaning that his reason for defiance was for the sake of mankind, but it was mostly for Dean’s sake.

Okay. Castiel’s empathy for humanity was honed through Dean, after all, so it makes sense that he would rebel mostly on behalf of the human who taught him so much. Any romantic feelings here are still strictly interpretive.

In “When the Levee Breaks” Castiel tries to stick to his former stoicism, but it doesn’t last long when he is confronted by Dean again. He is visibly very torn as he lies/manipulates Dean into working for Heaven, but succeeds in securing Dean’s loyalty.

In “Lucifer Rising” Dean is brought to a Green Room where he denies the angels’ efforts to “keep him focused” with offers of food, alcohol, and sex. He’s far more interested in his role to stop the Apocalypse. Zachariah, Castiel’s superior, is very vague and encourages him to have faith. Dean demands why he should.

Zachariah:(moves very close) Because you swore your obedience. (Threatening) So obey.

Which makes it very clear that the angels view him as nothing more than a weapon. They don’t give a shit if he believes in them, just if he does what he’s told. Dean looks behind Zachariah at Castiel, his eyes clearly asking “You’re just gonna stand there and let these winged Nazis treat me this way?” Castiel’s only response is to look down guiltily.

Later, Dean calls for Castiel. Just before the angel arrives, Dean knocks over a statue of an angel and smirks as it shatters on the floor. Castiel gives the broken statue of look of unmistakable hurt as Dean shifts guiltily and tells Castiel he needs something. In response, Castiel…he doesn’t smile, but it’s odd the way his face lights up as he answers “Anything you wish” as if there’s nothing he would love more than to give something to Dean to make him happy. However, he can’t since Dean wants to be taken to see Sam to patch up their fight from before, and Sam needs to be left alone so he can kill Lilith and unknowingly free Lucifer.

After Zachariah reveals the horrible truth to Dean, Castiel comes to see him again.

Dean: Why are you here, Cas?

Castiel: (hesitates for a moment) We’ve been through much together, you and I. And I just want to say…I’m sorry it ended like this.

No, Castiel. You don’t want to just say you’re sorry. If you did, you wouldn’t retain your blank expression after Dean punches you in the face, nor would you try to plead for his understanding afterward. You are sorry, but you want to keep Dean’s companionship more than you want his forgiveness.

Seriously, guys. If Dean did grant forgiveness, you really think Castiel would just say “Okay, thanks, that’s all I wanted” and just fly away?

No.

Castiel tries to convince Dean that this is his destiny, but Dean has none of that.

Dean: (half-enraged, half-pitying) Don’t give me that holy crap. Destiny, God’s plan—it’s all a bunch of lies, you poor, stupid son of a bitch! It’s just a way for your bosses to keep me and keep you in line!

Castiel just looks shocked and conflicted, and Dean demands if he’s really going to let millions of people suffer and die while Michael and Lucifer have their battle. Castiel makes one last ditch effort to convince Dean by telling him that after Michael wins the Earth will be transformed into a paradise where Dean won’t ever have to feel anger, guilt, or confusion ever again. He’ll feel nothing but peace, and he and Sam will live happily ever after.

In short, Dean will be transformed into a brain-washed shadow of his former self with warped free will along with every surviving human on the planet. And he knows it.

Dean: (quietly) You can take your peace—and shove it up your lily-white ass. ‘Cause I’ll take the pain and the guilt…I’ll even take Sam as is. It’s a lot better than being some Stepford bitch in Paradise! (Castiel turns away in frustration) This is simple, Cas! No more crap about being a good soldier. There is a right and there is a wrong here, and you know it. (forcibly turns Castiel around to face him) Look at me! You know it! (brief pause) Now you were gonna help me once, weren’t you? (Castiel looks away, pained) You were gonna warn me about all this before they dragged you back to bible camp. Help me—now. Please.

Castiel: (shakes his head, visibly crumbling) What would you have me do?

Dean: Get me to Sam. We can stop this before it’s too late.

Castiel: (sharply) I do that—we will all be hunted. We’ll all be killed.

Dean: (whispering, almost smiling) If there is anything worth dying for… this is it.

Castiel: (shakes his head, a pleading look on his face, and turns away).

Dean: (venomous, disgusted) You spineless—soulless son of a bitch. (turns away) What do you care about dying? You’re already dead. We’re done.

Castiel: (breath hitches, mouth trembles as if he’s about to cry) Dean…

Dean: We’re done.

Castiel leaves, but soon comes back. He banishes Zachariah with a blood sigil and informs Dean that Sam must be stopped from killing Lilith. He takes Dean to Chuck’s where the prophet reveals Sam’s location, but claims that Dean and Castiel aren’t in the story he’s writing and therefore, not supposed to be there.

Castiel: Yeah, well…we’re making it up as we go.

The house starts shaking and white light floods Chuck’s kitchen signaling the arrival of a vengeful Raphael.

Castiel: It’s the archangel! (to Dean) I’ll hold him off! I’ll hold them all off! Just stop Sam!

He then teleports Dean away and stares out the window to await his inevitable death.

Now we roll into Season 5. At the end of “Sympathy for the Devil” a very much alive Castiel appears to rescue Sam and Dean from Zachariah. He kills the angels under Zachariah’s command and brands Sam and Dean’s ribs with Enochian symbols in order to hide them from the eyes of all angels before leaving.

While the above is the hardcore evidence I was building up to, especially the part where Castiel rebels only after Dean makes it clear he wants nothing more to do with him, here is the line from “Good God, Y’all!” that sealed the theory’s fate.

Castiel: (to Dean) I killed two angels this week. Those were my brothers. I’m hunted, I’ve rebelled, and I did it—all of it—for you.

For Dean. He did it all for Dean. Not for mankind, but for Dean. And they still aren’t friends. Castiel himself said “we’ve been through much together, you and I,” but he never acknowledges a friendship between them. And he’s right not to because there isn’t one. There was affection and some trust on both ends, but not nearly enough to constitute a real friendship. And yet Castiel gave up everything for him.

…….

You know what? I was wrong. Very wrong. Castiel isn’t in love with Dean. That’s crazy. Because if the thought of being banished from the life of someone who isn’t family or even a friend is so horrible, so unbearable that you are willing to give up your home, betray your people, kill your brothers, and face down archangels alone knowing that they’ll turn you into a splatter of pulp, then you are not just in love.

You are hopelessly, desperately in love.

It may not have been the writers’ intention, but this is the way they ended up portraying it, and because of my respect for canon I can’t pretend otherwise. Hell, if I had written this story my fans would be well within their rights to flay me alive if I said otherwise.

There are two ways this could have been fixed. The easiest is that Castiel rebelled against Heaven for Dean and mankind. With some tweaking of body language and dialogue it could have been accomplished with little difficulty, and it would have made sense. All previous romantic evidence would have been strictly interpretive, but it would have been more than enough to maintain a non-canon romance and keep the slash fans happy.

The other way is if Kripke actually had established a real friendship between the two. Castiel rebelling for the only real friend he’s ever had would make sense because as we’ve seen, angel friendships are not based on unconditional affection and love. I can definitely see someone like Castiel giving up everything for friendship alone. But Kripke would have needed to postpone Castiel rebelling for at least half of Season 5. Dean being suspicious and hostile to someone of Castiel’s character and employ is inevitable to someone of his character, and more time would have been needed for a genuine friendship to develop.

But you know…maybe it was the writers’ intention after all.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, you don’t have to be sexually attracted to someone in order to be in love with them. Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind said it perfectly when he confronted Scarlett about her futile pursuits of Ashley Wilkes.

“Oh, yes, you’ve been faithful to me because Ashley wouldn’t have you. But, hell, I wouldn’t have grudged him your body. I know how little bodies mean—especially women’s bodies. But I do grudge him your heart and your dear, hard, unscrupulous, stubborn mind. He doesn’t want your mind, the fool, and I don’t want your body. I can buy women cheap. But I do want your mind and your heart, and I’ll never have them, anymore than you’ll have Ashley’s mind. And that’s why I’m sorry for you.”

If Scarlett had pulled her head out of her ass and realized that Rhett was the only man who could ever really know her and still love her, I have no doubt Rhett would have welcomed an ongoing sexual relationship with her. But, as he said, sexually intimacy meant nothing to him when compared to mental and emotional intimacy. His love was based on agape, the Greek term for unconditional love, not eros, sexual love. Same with Castiel.

If this was the writers’ intention, then I salute them for such a brilliant strategy. Focusing solely on emotional chemistry, if done correctly, is a surefire way to get your audience extra invested in your characters’ relationships. Just look at Kirk and Spock. In fact, if the writers had directed even a small bit of focus on sexual chemistry, I have little doubt that fans wouldn’t be so heavily invested in the relationship as they are now. I know I wouldn’t.

But that’s not to say I don’t believe Castiel wouldn’t have welcomed a physical relationship. And, yes, I’m still basing my opinions off canon. In the Season 5 episode “Free to be You and Me” Castiel and Dean make plans to capture and interrogate Raphael for God’s whereabouts; an encounter Castiel doesn’t expect to survive.

Dean: So, last night on Earth. What, uh, what are your plans?

Castiel: I just thought I’d sit here quietly.

Dean: (smiles disbelievingly) Dude, c’mon, anything? Mm? Booze? Women?

Castiel: (casts an awkward glance at Dean and looks away)

Dean: (slightly incredulous) You have been with a woman before? Right? Or an angel, at least?

Castiel: (rubs the back of his neck uncomfortably)

Dean: (leans in close) You mean to tell me you haven’t been up there doing a little cloud seeding?

Castiel: (shortly) Look, I’ve never had occasion, okay?

Dean: (contemplates for a moment, then nods) All right. (puts on his jacket) Let me tell you two things that I know for certain. One: Bert and Ernie are gay. Two: you are not gonna die a virgin. Not on my watch. (starts to head out) Let’s go.

Castiel: (follows Dean without a word)

In the next scene they’re in a brothel, and Castiel is staring at Dean in pure terror. When a prostitute takes an interest in him and leads him away, he continues to stare at Dean in terror.

Aside from the fact that this scene was a gold, platinum, and diamond mine for slash fans, it does make you wonder. Despite expressing discomfort at the notion of having sex, Castiel followed Dean out the door without a word of protest—but when they got to the brothel he looked as if he was about to be thrown in Hell. That sounds contrived at first glance, but remember what Dean said before they left. He said, “You are not gonna die a virgin. Not on my watch.” He didn’t say, “I’m gonna hook you up with some random prostitute so you can have sex with her.” Considering how uncomfortable Castiel was before, you would think he would at least hesitate if Dean voiced his specific intentions. Instead, he went with Dean without a word. So maybe he thought he would be having sex with someone he felt absolutely comfortable with. Someone he actually wanted…

Just food for thought.

For those of you who are waiting for me to give evidence that Dean has feelings for Castiel, I’m sorry to disappoint you but there is none. Not solid evidence. Dean does give Castiel his nickname, opens up to him, and they do become friends eventually, but that is far from enough for canon romantic feelings. However, I should at least do a short analysis on Dean’s sexuality. On the surface, it seems like he’d sleep with anything in a skirt. Yet at the same time, he seems the exact opposite of homophobic. He never hesitates to dish out a gay joke to Sam, and sometimes even finds it funny when strangers think he and Sam are lovers.

Woman: Just so you know, we accept home owners of any race, religion, color or…sexual orientation.

Dean: (nods) Right. I’m gonna go talk to Larry. ‘Kay, honey? (slaps Sam on the ass and walks away).

Even when he finds out about Supernatural fans writing Fanfiction with him and Sam as a couple, he expresses disgust only at the notion of incest rather than homosexuality. He also gets very flustered when he comes face to face with Dr. Sexy in “Changing Channels.” A little too flustered for merely being star struck if you ask me.

Oh, and let’s not forget this.

Dean: Well, Cas, not for nothing, but the last person who looked at me like that—I got laid (winks suggestively).

Yeah, that was more of a shout-out to the slash fans than anything else, but still.

Like I said, the above hints at Dean being a bit bisexual, but hints are just what they are. Hints. But if there were canon romantic feelings on Dean’s part, Castiel should consider himself extremely fortunate. In fact, he should consider himself extremely fortunate that Dean even gives him the time of day.

Oh.

What’s that in the distance?

That’s…yes, that’s the indignant wails of thousands of fangirls (and fanboys) who believe my opinion should be the exact opposite. And that irritates me to no end, not that they have a different opinion than me, but that they only look on the surface. Every Castiel fan I have ever encountered calls him the best and most loyal character on the show, that Dean is never appreciative of what he does for him, and should be thanking him on bended knee for all Castiel has sacrificed. Don’t get me wrong; much as I love and admire Dean, he really annoys me a lot of times to the point where I want to knock him into the nearest wall. But despite that he is better and stronger than Castiel could ever hope to be because—

(Yeah, I know I’m really veering off topic, but this needs to be said and I’ve pretty much done a complete character analysis of Castiel here, so I might as well say it now)

1. Castiel threatened to throw Dean back into Hell.

I know what Dean said was self-centered and presumptuous. I also know that it was an empty threat, that Castiel wouldn’t throw Dean back into Hell any more than he would rip his own wings off. But still, “You should show me some respect because I can toss you back into the place where you were butchered a countless number of times in a countless number of ways for thirty years until you were compelled to do the same to others” is one of the most heartless, despicable, evil things I have ever heard any character say in any fictional universe. Especially since Castiel knows damn well how wracked with guilt Dean is, as well as the nightmares he suffers with.

Fuck you, Castiel.

Extra note though. Castiel seemed fairly tolerant of Dean’s attitude in the beginning of this exchange, even letting a physical threat go without comment. But only after Dean sneered at the angels’ efforts in the war did Castiel make his threat. Only after Dean implied angels weren’t as impressive as he’d thought did Castiel lose his cool.

Making a threat you can easily carry out but won’t is a clear indication that you really want to impress someone. Cas was angry, yes, and Dean did appear remorseful after he mentioned the death of his six brothers, but that wasn’t enough. He didn’t want Dean’s remorse. He wanted his respect. So he said the one thing that would ensure Dean’s fear if not his respect.

Not that it makes it right, of course. It’s still as despicable as can be. Respect gained by threatening someone with their greatest fear and shame is no respect at all. It’s just insecure bullying.

2. Dean never compromises his morals in the face of personal risk, unlike Castiel.

In the Anna incident, Uriel threatened to throw Dean back into Hell if he didn’t hand her over. The concept petrified him, but he still refused. Only when Uriel threatened Sam did he give in. And he barely even knew Anna. Yeah, they had a friendship and they had sex, but he wasn’t in love with her. He saw her as another innocent he had to protect. Moreover, he attacked Alastair, a mega-powerful demon, with nothing but a crowbar in order to save Castiel. Despite the fact that Castiel threatened to throw him back into Hell, despite the fact that Alastair would have left him alone had he not interfered, despite the fact that Castiel was seconds away from murdering someone Dean cared about in cold blood, Dean still risked not only his life but Sam’s life to help him. If Anna hadn’t gotten her grace back in time, both Dean and Sam would have been killed by Alastair.

Now let’s compare that to Castiel’s actions. While he too was tortured until he was compelled to do the will of evil beings, the brainwashing faded when he was released, same as with Dean. When Dean was threatened with Hell again, he was willing to go back all to save the life of one person. Castiel on the other hand abused Dean’s trust, released Sam from Bobby’s panic room so he could kill Lilith and start the Apocalypse, and turned Anna over to Heaven so she could be tortured like he was. The fact that he felt remorse for his actions is irrelevant. He wasn’t brainwashed anymore. He operated on orders he knew damn well were wrong.

Bottom line: the day Dean Winchester hurts someone in order to spare himself pain is the day he is Dean Winchester no more. The day Castiel hurts someone in order to spare himself pain is the day he is still Castiel.

3. Dean’s presumptuousness is nothing compared to Castiel’s.

Dean implying that Heaven’s armies should just drop everything and help him when he needs it should earn him a smack or five, but remember what I said before about Castiel apologizing when the angels’ true intentions for the Apocalypse are made known to Dean. He was really trying to make amends and in the process keep Dean’s company.

Ah, Castiel, what a nervy little thing you are. “I’m sorry, Dean. I tricked you, used you, and manipulated you to the point where you couldn’t help your brother when he so desperately needed it, and so that you could play a role in destroying the world without even knowing it. But it’s your destiny, so you should understand. By the way, I really like you and enjoy your company. Can I still be a part of your life?”

Fuck. You. Castiel.

4. Castiel, through action and inaction, nearly took everything away from Dean.

Castiel: (to Dean after he scorns Castiel’s plan to find God) I killed two angels this week. Those were my brothers. I’m hunted, I’ve rebelled, and I did it—all of it—for you. And you failed. You and your brother destroyed the world. And I lost everything…for nothing. So keep—your opinions—to yourself.

….

Oh.

Oh, my God.

My God.

The nerve of you…

Okay. Take a deep breath. Be calm. Rational. Objective.

Yes, Castiel, Dean is to blame for failing to stop Sam. He was a fucking idiot to even think of using his father’s ultimatum to convince Sam to give up Ruby and the demon blood. And to say Sam was a fucking idiot for not even considering the possibility that Ruby was playing him for a sucker would be the understatement of the century. But to hear that from someone who couldn’t have had a bigger role in Lucifer’s release if he’d broken all sixty-six Seals himself is absolutely hilarious. You knew the whole fucking truth. Everything! And you still fed Dean spoonful after spoonful of bullshit about how the angels were trying to stop the Apocalypse, how killing Lilith would stop the Apocalypse, how drinking all that demon blood would turn Sam into an unchangeable monster. And when Dean directly asked that if he ‘stood up and accepted his role’ as Heaven’s bitch-boy Sam wouldn’t have to drink demon blood or kill Lilith, you danced around it with words like ‘if it gives you comfort to see it that way,’ you didn’t even have the balls to lie to his face. But you’re not without balls, Castiel, oh, no. I mean freeing Sam from Bobby’s panic room—stabbing someone in the back right after securing their loyalty by using their love for their for their brother as a weapon against them—that takes balls. And we’re all supposed to condone all that just because you had a last minute change of heart?!

And, you know what, let’s pretend for a moment that you didn’t have your little change of heart. Dean would still be in angel custody right now knowing full well that you bought his loyalty on a crock of lies and a promise your bosses never intended to make good on. He wouldn’t have said yes to Michael even if he was threatened with eternity in the deepest bowels of Hell. While Sam would have been abandoned to the mercy of Lucifer and the demons, Dean would now be getting well-acquainted with Heaven’s persuaders. Yeah, Cas, remember the persuaders? Remember how loving and gentle they were to you when they wanted you to be a good, obedient little drone again? Food for thought, Castiel: how loving and gentle do you imagine they would be to a human soul they needed just lucid enough to say ‘yes?’ And if Dean wasn’t tortured into near-insanity, if Michael didn’t leave him a drooling vegetable when he was done wearing him, if the angels didn’t toss him back in the Pit once he’d outlived his usefulness, if they decided to grant him a place in Paradise—that might have been the worse fate of them all. Dean does feel a lot of negative things, but having the ability to feel, even bad things–that’s what makes him who he is. The angels would have raped his soul again and again until all that remained was a peace-programmed shell. Dean Winchester would have been obliterated from existence forever along with whoever the angels deemed worthy of Paradise. You can bitch all you want about what you’ve lost by taking Dean’s side, but that will never change the fact that Dean nearly lost everything he loves, everything he has, everything he is because he trusted you. Not the angels. You. So keep—your self-righteous hypocrisy—to yourself.

Oh, and let’s not forget Zachariah changing Dean’s message to Sam when Sam was ready to do the right thing.

Dean: What are you going to do to Sam?

Castiel: Nothing. He’s going to do it to himself.

No, Dean. We’re not going to do anything to Sam. We’re not going to make him believe that if he does the right thing then all he has to go back to is a brother who hates him and wants to kill him. Nope. We’re just gonna stand on the sidelines and bleat like the innocent little lambs that we are.

So, do I hate Castiel, you ask? No. I don’t. He’s still my favorite character on Supernatural and his relationship with Dean is one of the reasons why Supernatural is one of favorite shows. But as I said in the beginning of this post, I am not an apologist. And let me be clear on one thing; I am not angry that Castiel pulled this bullshit. I’m angry that he wasn’t called on his bullshit. It was the perfect opportunity for Castiel to have more character growth, but since no one called him on it he remained a self-righteous little prick about rebelling against Heaven until the end. Don’t get me wrong, a beating was the least of what Dean deserved for almost saying yes to Michael, but NOT because–

Castiel: (holds Dean against a wall, enraged) I gave everything for you. And this is what you give me!?

(Fantasizes about phasing through the screen and telling Dean exactly what Castiel did for him)

Well. There’s always fanfic.

And speaking of fanfic, I think I’ll end this post with some Dean/Castiel story recs. I started reading Dean/Castiel fanfiction before coming to my realization because, while I loved the relationship, it didn’t take me long to realize 90% of the stories out there were slash. But I’m not at all sorry because these stories helped me come to my realization and discover some extraordinary literature. Yes. Literature. I have extremely, and I mean EXTREMELY high standards when it comes to fanfiction, especially slash. So if you’re looking for mindless porn then I suggest you ignore the list below. If you want highly complex relationships, conflicts, stories, beautiful characterization, and writing that will wrench your heart, make you laugh/cry uncontrollably, and change your life, then click away.

***Note: I would pretty much recommend all Dean/Castiel stories written by these authors, but the ones listed here are my all-time favorites. This list will also be updated as I encounter more great Dean/Castiel literature. To avoid confusion I’ll put the date added next to each story as I update***

Author: peroxidepest17

The Law of Conservation of Energy

AU from Season 6 ep. 20. Dean convinces Castiel to abandon his plans to open Purgatory. In order to get Castiel the power to stop Raphael, Team Free Will embarks on a mission to search for the deceased Gabriel’s grace.

Not only the greatest Dean/Castiel story I have ever read, but one of the greatest stories I have ever read. If Kripke had taken the series in this direction, all of his previous mistakes would have been instantly forgiven and Season 7 would have stood out as the greatest of them all. If you read at least one story from this list let it be this one.

Think, Plan, Act

Post Season 7 ep. 02. Dean Winchester is fighting against a realization he does and doesn’t want to come to.

A short, but highly amusing and well-written story where Dean views his realization of Castiel’s feelings for him the same way he does another hunt.

I’m Just a Love Machine

Season 5. As a “reward” for helping to free a goddess from an evil spirit, the Impala is granted human form so he can love Dean as much as Dean loves him. But there’s still Castiel…

This story is both hilarious and touching. Human Impala is as annoying as he is endearing. You’ll love the almost one-sided rivalry between him and Castiel.

Author: R. C. McLachlan

Named

AU post Season 4 ep. 22. Sam kills Lilith, but Lucifer remains a no-show. Unfortunately, there’s no time to celebrate when a devastated Castiel reveals that Jesus Christ has been murdered. Lucifer seems to be only capable culprit, but Dean isn’t so sure.

The author takes a lot of liberties with canon in this story, but it’s so good that you just can’t care. Be prepared for the best prologue you’ve ever read, humor, angst, and a plot twist that will leave you reeling.

Oneiroi

AU post Season 5 ep. 10. After Dean is trapped in a mysterious coma, Sam and Castiel contact Gabriel for help. From a pagan goddess they learn, to their shock and horror, that Morpheus, Lord of Dreams is the one true maker instead of God. In order to get Dean back, Castiel and Sam must face their greatest fears and desires in Morpheus’ realm of Demos Oneiroi.

An absolutely exquisite story. Castiel reliving his ordeal at the hands of Heaven’s torturers and his dream life with Dean will tear at your heart equally if for different reasons. The ending is also one of the happiest and most tragic things I have ever read.

Happy Christmas, War is Over

The war between the forces Heaven and Hell rages. Castiel receives fatal wounds, and is filled with regret when it appears he won’t be able to accept Dean’s offer to stay.

While tragic, I love this story because it gives a glimpse into the super-epic ending that Season 5 did not possess, but that I wanted dearly.

Non-Photo Blue

Fifty possibilities of Dean/Castiel represented by a single word.

None of these “snapshots” are longer than a sentence, but each one contains its own story, and all are like bullets to the heart, each one more profound than the last.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Season 5. Dean and Sam explain the concept of Santa Claus to a horrified Castiel.

The characterization in this short story is spot-on, and whenever I need to laugh I reread it.

Author: bunnymaccool

Are you There, Dean Winchester? It’s me…God

Season 6 AU. All Dean Winchester wanted was a piece of pie, but he ended up swallowing a super-weapon that could easily end the Angelic Civil War. The weapon is a ticking time bomb, and it appears Dean will have to sacrifice himself once again for the greater good…or not.

Very well-written and hilarious. Sam’s “equation” to figure out the answer for Dean and Castiel’s feelings for each other will leave you rolling on the floor. Also when Chuck reveals his true identity he retains his prophet personality, but the author still makes it very clear that this is the one true maker.

Author: Misachan

Torn

Season 6. Castiel is brutally tortured by three of his enemies. All the wounds eventually heal save for two deep gashes on his back that are unmistakable tears. As Dean tends to his broken friend, he struggles just as deeply with his memories of Hell as he does his childhood memories of tearing wings off of butterflies.

Incredibly tragic and breathtaking. The ending scene where Dean has one of Castiel’s tormentors trapped and helpless will leave you with a chill that will never fade.

Forks in the Road

Season 6. Castiel dreamnaps Dean, believing Dean’s ability to defy impossible odds will help him navigate an angel prison where a weapon that could turn the war in his favor is prophesized to be.

It took me a little while to fully appreciate how haunting and poignant this story is. While the weapon’s true identity was quite predictable, the buildup to it was so amazing you’ll finish this story with a deep sense of satisfaction.

Clearing the Air

Post Season 4 ep. 16. Dean is still recovering from his ordeal with Alastair, but acquiesces to Castiel’s request to meet back at the warehouse where it all took place. Dean learns a few things about Castiel’s past, his grief over his siblings’ death, and something Castiel never intended for him to learn.

If you edited out the slash parts this would have been an absolutely perfect missing scene to “On the Head of a Pin.” Read it. Now.

Who if I Cried Out Would Hear Me

Season 6. Dean is kidnapped by witches and subjected to a bloodletting ritual. If he dies, his soul will be dragged to the deepest bowels of Hell. Castiel can hear him, but finding him is far more difficult. Concern and frustration soon boil into full-blown wrath.

Anyone who loves to see Castiel break out his bad-ass angel of the Lord routine will love this story, especially since it’s on behalf of Dean Winchester. The ending is very touching without being mushy.

Take the Wheel

Season 6. When Castiel is wounded by a rogue angel, Jimmy is forced to take control and get them to the safety that is Dean Winchester. They make the perilous journey to Bobby’s panic room with their fanatical, not so sane adversary hot on their trail.

Dean and Castiel are in a relationship in this story, though it’s not the story’s focus. Despite that I highly recommend it for two reasons. One, we get to see an angel who is fighting for humanity yet just as fanatical and self-righteous as Raphael. Two, Jimmy Novak never got the opportunity to really shine in the show, but he does in this story. The reader will feel his pain at being separated from his family, and admire his determination to do right by them despite the cost to himself.

Exit Wounds

Post Season 7 ep. 02. Dean and Castiel are both dead, but Castiel assures him Sam will soon bring him back. Dean is conflicted on what to say to Castiel since, despite all his betrayals, this is the last time Dean will ever see him. When it’s time to go back, Dean learns the depth of Castiel’s feelings for him…as well as the horrifying truth of where angels who allied themselves with demons went when they died.

This story is short, sweet, sad, and ends on a cliffy that’s as triumphant as it is evil. I really hope the author does a sequel for this.

Author: Aenisses Thai

A Thousand Small Cruelties

Post Season 5 ep. 10. Castiel is aloof, and it doesn’t take Dean long to realize it’s all his fault. He strives to correct his mistakes knowing Zachariah showed him how Sam and Castiel would pay a terrible price for his callousness.

While I stand by the fact that Castiel should feel very lucky Dean keeps him around in spite of what he did, I don’t at all approve of the way Dean sometimes treats Castiel. The writer does a masterful job of making Dean realize that there’s a huge difference between chick-flick moments and being there for your friends when they need you. The part where Dean imagines Castiel’s difficulties in braving a mall during the holidays in order to buy him a Christmas gift made me want to cry.

********UPDATE 12/7/12********

Redemption Road by This Team

Season 7 AU. With Castiel having set himself up as the new God, drunk on power and volatile as a nuclear reactor, Dean, Sam, and Bobby find themselves on the run from the jealous, capricious monster wearing the face of their friend. Desperate for protection and wary of his brother’s mental state since Castiel unlocked Sam’s memories of Hell, Dean knows Castiel must be defused before he can wreak further havoc in Heaven or on Earth. Although Bobby advocates for destroying Castiel by whatever means necessary, Dean is convinced the Cas he once knew still remains, buried somewhere beneath the mass of poisonous souls and calling out for help. Determined to save the angel who once rescued him from Hell and redefined his purpose in life, Dean himself must resist the allure of the false deity vying for his obedience, and come to terms with the knowledge, long-suppressed, that his feelings for Castiel run much deeper than brotherhood. It is this bond, and the dubious distinction of the Righteous Man, that will ultimately grant Dean access to where Castiel’s grace languishes in Purgatory. However, what Dean brings back with him is broken, angry, and only half-angel, certainly not the Castiel he remembers—and nor is it the only thing that returns to Earth with them…

This is a fan written AU of Season 7 complete with 24 episodes and DVD extras. It’s brilliant, mind-blowingly epic, and, like The Law of Conservation of Energy, puts the “canon” Season 7 to complete, utter shame. It’s over 600,000 words, but if you want to go on a long adventure with everything you could possibly want in a story, then you can’t miss it.

Where your Love Begins by Misachan

Season 4 ep. 16 AU. Dean is ensnared by Alastair, and after weeks of searching Castiel finally finds him…only to end up on Dean’s rack. Dean assures Castiel that the torture is all a ruse, that he’s only waiting for Alastair to let his guard down so they can both escape. Castiel believes him because Dean would never hurt him. Right…?

Warning to all. This story is not just tragic or heartbreaking. It’s traumatizing. Do NOT read it before going to bed. At the same time it’s one of the most brilliant cautionary tales I’ve ever read, flawlessly showing that if you believe in someone out of need rather than faith, you’ll fall even harder than the person you’re trying to save.

A Song of Wind and Wings by Triedunture

A Supernatural/Game of Thrones crossover. Sellslord Dean Winchester needs more than men to defeat the demon king Azazel and the army of Others, he needs something mystical and fantastic to raise morale. The Angelborn have not been seen for centuries, and when one is captured, all Dean has to do is convince him to fight on the North’s side. But that’s easier said than done, as this particular angel is running from something far deadlier than the Others.

Even if you’re not familiar with A Game of Thrones, you’ll appreciate how brilliantly the author weaves medieval fantasy elements with Supernatural. If you do love A Game of Thrones, you’ll be blown away by the pitch-perfect dialogue, relationships, and descriptions. They are more than worthy of the writing of George R. R. Martin.

I really, REALLY want to sequel to this story. The author is considering it, so if you love it please give her a shout of encouragement.

This Temporary Flesh and Bone by Misachan

Set between Season 4 ep. 20-21. Ever since Bible Camp let out, Castiel’s been a giant dick, but he’s been showing up in Dean’s dreams for the past two nights not saying a word. On the third night, Dean manages to coax him into not only telling, but showing the agonizing results of what Heaven calls “reeducation.”

Unlike Oneiroi, which goes into specific detail of what Castiel endured at the hands of Heaven’s persuaders, this story keeps the more grisly aspects vague, and it fits perfectly. The author draws brilliant parallels of the emotional and physical damage Dean and Castiel both suffered in Heaven and Hell. The subtle bonding builds until the eventual romance can’t help but make perfect sense.

The Fourth Wall by entanglednow

Season 5 AU. Castiel not only discovers Destiel Fanfiction, but that there is a lot of it. Sam is more than a little put-out that his brother is getting tons of “Fanfiction sex” while he’s apparently been left in the dust. To cheer Sam up, Dean and Castiel look for stories where Sam is romantically paired up with someone, and they eventually come across none other than—Lucifer. Naturally, Sam is horrified. Even more so when he learns that Lucifer himself has not only been reading the same fics, but is more than a little intrigued by the concept.

This is a crack fic, meaning certain liberties will inevitably be taken with characters and plot for the sake of humor. But at the same time it’s wonderfully written, and absolutely HILARIOUS. I’ve always loved the idea of Fanfiction saving the world, and this story fulfills my expectations in spades.

Here Open the Gates by Takadainmate

Season 7 AU. Dean Winchester grieves for a deceased Castiel, Castiel is brought back, Team Free Will hunts, the boys get turned into spiders, Dean gets thrown back in time 8,000 years, Dean and Castiel fall in love—and all the while Death observes and assists.

A brilliant fic from Death’s perspective. I love the complexity the author gives to Death that the actual canon character lacked. He’s still cold and distant, but at the same time he’s a vastly old sentient creature who’s intrigued by Team Free Will’s story to the point where he finds himself assisting them so it won’t end too soon.

********UPDATE 8/23/13********

Twist and Shout by gabriel and standbyme

Real World AU. It’s love at first sight for Dean Winchester and Castiel Novak when they meet on a summer night in 1965, but things are far from easy in a time period where very few people were tolerant of homosexuality. Regardless, their bond only serves to strengthen as they endure bigotry and struggle to keep their relationship secret from those who would harm them. They dream of a long and happy life together complete with houses and islands. Then Dean is drafted in the Vietnam War…..

Exquisite beyond words, and a highly original take on the “doomed lovers” genre. Instead of warring families, bigotry, or tragic accident, Dean and Castiel fall victim to circumstances that were beyond their control, and being the people they are, they simply could not have reacted any other way.

How a Righteous Man Raises a Rose by swordofmymouth

Season 6 AU. Wanting to repay his older brother for taking care of him all his life, Sam Winchester allows Dean to live with him and his wife, Jess. He finds it more than a little odd when Dean grows obsessed with tending to a dying rose garden, but doesn’t hesitate to pick up a book called How a Righteous Man Raises a Rose by Castiel. But it’s no ordinary book. As he reads Sam discovers, to his everlasting horror, that the peaceful, ordinary, supernatural-free life he and Dean have was not earned, but bought at a terrible price by someone who loves them more than they could ever know.

In my eight-year career of reading fanfic, only two have ever made me cry and this is one of them (the other is a Star Wars fic called Father’s Heart by FernWithy if you’re curious). It’s one of those ultra-rare fics that I wish had never been written, and love with all my heart at the same time.

The Girlfriend Experience by rageprufrock

Season 5. As Castiel grows closer and closer to losing his remaining grace, his vessel provides him with a new experience: sexual frustration. Thankfully, he has Dean to lend a helping hand (literally), and Sam to walk in on them and provide well-meaning, but highly annoying conversation.

Hilarious, well-written, hilarious, well-written, hilarious, well-written, did I mention HILARIOUS!????!????

A Night at the Museum by swordofmymouth

Season 5, episode 4 AU. Dean is dead and Castiel remains in a post-apocalyptic world run by Lucifer and his demons, all alone. Or so he at first thinks. Using his grief and renewed hope, the ex-angel now human junkie plots to wage a one-man war against the Devil and gain Sam’s freedom as a last favor to the man he loved.

I personally don’t see this happening after The End episode, at least not quite in this way…but I don’t give a crap. It’s awesome. And if you want to know how to beat the Devil once and for all, this is the story for you.

Possession by Misachan

Season 5. Castiel thinks he’s found something that will help him find God, but it turns out to be a trap. Instead of locating God, Castiel becomes possessed by a creature older and more powerful than the archangels: Asmodeus. As Asmodeus goes on a murderous rampage, Sam and Dean race against the clock to stop him and get their friend back. But despite being the personification of evil itself, Asmodeus’ actions are as far from black and white as can be.

Same as Take the Wheel, Dean and Castiel’s relationship is not the focus point, but you won’t give a darn. Not with such a brilliant, complex original character as well as a SUPER interesting backstory for Meg.

Due Cause by FortinbrasFTW

“This wasn’t right. Things like this didn’t happen to people. First days were full of training documents and get-to-know-you chats and friendly talks with pleasant secretaries, not super-lawyers in disguise with molesting eye contact assaulting you in elevators. This really really wasn’t how this was supposed to go… Maybe it wasn’t how it was going. Maybe none of it was really happening to him and in a few minutes they would leave the room and all of this would go away and he’d have his normal, average first day exactly the way he’d wanted it.”

Sam gets his first job at the law firm of his dreams, which just happens to be the workplace of his law-school idol, who in real life is a good deal more cynical and a great deal more creepy than he might have imagined. Also: Cas runs a snack cart. Also: Dean helps.

Gotta admit, I never thought I’d be putting this on my favorites list and not because the main pairing is Sam/Lucifer. The author is clearly a Lucifer fangirl and from this work and her others, I doubt she finds much fault with his character. Sam is also too submissive for my liking, but the pros far outweigh the cons. Themes such as accepting responsibility for your actions, and that relationships with difficult people can work with the right amount (and kind) of compromise are handled brilliantly and will make you think.

Oh, yeah. Dean and Cas are hilarious and adorable.

Look, Up in the Sky! By Misachan

Superhero AU. The last survivors of their destroyed planets, Dean and Castiel are the protectors of the great metropolis, Lawrence City. But they’re as different as can be. Cocky playboy Dean, known to the public as Captain Awesome, cares little for his public image and just wants to have fun and protect innocent people. Stoic, responsible Castiel, also known as the Angel, believes Dean should stop wasting time fighting petty crime—as well as constantly embarrassing himself in public—and focus on his prophesized destiny: becoming the Champion who will destroy the demons who massacred their planets and people. Dean knows Cas resents his duty as Dean’s Guide, and Cas knows Dean has always resented his very presence…or so they think.

This story exhibits one of the many elements of this author’s great genius. She knows how to put characters in totally different worlds with totally different circumstances—and at the same time perfectly weave in plot points and ideas from Supernatural to make something very refreshing and new.

35 responses to “Why I Ship Dean/Castiel–After Swearing to God I Wouldn’t

  1. Oh my, this is great! I never wanted to “ship” anything (because I’m 36 and feel like that’s something a “grown-up” shouldn’t do, but what ever), but yes. I agree. Castiel is madly in love with Dean. Sometimes I wonder if this started as a Misha Collins ultimate troll – if it wasn’t his interpretation of the scripts that started the whole thing – but no matter how it came about it is definitely there. And thank you so much for the fic recs! This is getting bookmarked.

    • Thanks so much!

      I really need to update the rec list soon. I’ve discovered quite a bit of excellent Dean/Castiel fics since I wrote this post.

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Misha took the lines and body language to the next level. He seems to take WAY too much delight in the concept of slash fiction. But Misha was just an extra bonus. If the writers wanted to make Castiel’s feelings for Dean strictly interpretive, then they should have established a friendship between them before Cas rebelled against Heaven, or made Cas’ rebellion be on behalf of Dean and mankind.

    • Thanks! I’ll see about Season 8. I guess it would be petty of me to completely ignore it. Bad as the show got after Season 5 there were some worthwhile, in-character moments and they shouldn’t be ignored.

  2. This… just speaks everything I think about the whole Destiel thing. And those fics are amazing, so thank you so much! :)) I’m intrigued by what you said with the “I am not including anything from the abomination/character rape that is Seasons 6 and 7″. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what went wrong in those seasons…

  3. wow! i am just speechless. From the very beginning i suspected that Cas was in love with Dean. But i never saw Dean feel the same way about Cas. So.. you just explained for me why in the most perfect way possible..
    i really hope you could do the same based on seasons 6,7 and 8.

  4. I just wanted to say how much I love your post. I don’t think the writers meant it to end up this way. It’s just that Misha made Castiel so engaging that they needed an excuse to keep him on.

    You should try writing up their relationship in 6 and 7. Sure it’s an absolute pain to watch, I only managed to read the transcripts myself, but it gives us a glimpse on how Dean sees Castiel as well. He clearly thinks of Castiel as a child and as a brother like he does Sam.

    • Thanks, Sydre. And, yes, one of the few things Season 6 onward got right is how an in-character Dean would see Castiel. And he would be right to because Castiel, like all the angels in Supernatural (Anna excluded), are children who were never taught how to be adults.

  5. Hi! I loved your analysis. I also thought Castiel was in love with Dean almost since the beginning. However, I also believed his feelings were not reciprocated. Season 8 changed my mind about that. Now I believe Dean loves him too. Can you tell me your thoughts about it after watching season 8? Hope I’m not bothering you and I’m sorry for any mistake. English isn’t my first language. Thank you for your lovely analysis once again.

    • Thanks, Mary. While I don’t see Season 6 onward as true Supernatural canon after they destroyed both their characters and their story (I’ll explain how in a future post), I’ll definitely consider commenting on the few in-character moments they had.

      And trust me, you have a far better grasp of English than a lot of so-called native speakers. :)

  6. I wasn’t a shipper and I never read fanfic, but over the years of watching Supernatural my curiosity got the better of me because I heard about the crazy/creative fans of the show. I knew I shouldn’t read your blog, I just knew it. I wanted to resist. Now thanks to this essay I’m not only an enthusiastic convert to fanfic, I’m also shipping Dean/Castiel myself! That’s what poking around on Google gets you – I saw your title and had to read it, then read the links you included at the end of your article. I’m obsessed.

    Thank you for a wonderfully written and convincing analysis. The quality of writing by yourself and the authors I have read is exceptional, and I would love it if you have even more recommendations of authors to check out.

    And, just to chime in, I would love to see your take on season 8 also. Castiel and Dean’s relationship was absolutely adorable in “Clip Show”.

    • I’m so glad to hear that, Susan. Fan fiction can be truly mind-blowing a lot of times, and that’s something you never would have heard me say before I was sixteen. I will be updating the rec list hopefully soon with at least five stories.

      I may discuss season 8, and if I do I’ll definitely include clip show since it contained some very good, in-character moments. And yes, very cute ones too. :)

  7. They are not in love. Not. Not. NEVER. EVER. SO please stop. You are an AMAZING WRITER, but please stop saying that.

    • Thanks for the compliment, but I never said *they* were in love, Janett. I said Castiel was in love with Dean. And even if I did, I have every right to say it if it’s what I believe, just as you have every right to say they aren’t if that’s what you believe.

  8. It’s great to see such a well written, well thought out piece from someone who’s actually a fan of the character but can see their flaws and isn’t, blinded by the light, as it were. I have to admit myself there’s a lot that I let slide in terms of the character but the ‘throw you back in’ to hell comment was even tough for me to see past initially and I loved him from the jump.

    However, most of the time, the Dean/Sam exchange in “Clip Show” said it for me best…(nothing specific so I’m not spoiling major developments)

    Dean: If anybody, and I mean anybody pulled that kind of crap I would stab them in their neck on principle, why should I give him a free pass?

    Sam: Because it’s Cas.

    Maybe it’s not right, we should look at things more objectively and see where he’s not been Mr Sneezing-Kittens-And-Floofy-Rainbows and actually look at his flaws. I can understand how frustrated people who AREN’T fans of the character get with us apologists when they give us valid point after valid point and we continue to defend him regardless.

    • Thanks, anhara. I’m glad you’re open-minded about Cas’ flaws. One person told me she loved my article until I started “hating on Cas.”

      The irony is, it’s not his flaws that upsets me at all. Quite the contrary I’m very glad he has them because they were great opportunities for him to grow and change as a character. Unfortunately, the SPN writers didn’t have anyone call him on them, and as a result he remained a self-righteous little prick about rebelling against Heaven until the end. Dean did deserve to get beaten up for almost saying yes to Michael, but not because Cas “gave everything for him.” Cas gave Dean exactly what he owed him as his action and inaction nearly resulted in Dean and humanity losing everything they hold dear.

      I think fans should look at Cas’ flaws more closely, not to demean him, but so they can realize they wouldn’t like him so much if he didn’t have them. Just picture a Cas who wasn’t little more than an obedient drone before getting to know Dean. Or better yet, picture a Cas who didn’t delude himself into believing he was doing God’s will in starting the Apocalypse–a Cas who didn’t need Dean to call him on his bullshit.

  9. Wow…I´m so glad I read this, it was beautiful. Thankyou for this. I also thought Cas loved Dean from the start. I loved when Hester told Dean: When Castiel first laid a hand on you in hell, he was lost! I think she was so right.
    But also like ohter people comment, I think its pretty obvious on season 7 and 8 that Dean loves Castiel.
    I absolutely loved what you said about the body and the mind. I think its exactly why I shipp them so hard, and it was the same reason I shipped Mulder and Scully with all my heart. I really loved to read your thoughts on season 8.
    Keep this up, you are awesome!

  10. Entirely with you on everything you say in this article!

    As a lot of others have also commented, I was just wondering your take on their relationship end of Season 7/Season 8? For me, it seems something has shifted with Dean, especially around Purgatory time. While I don’t think of it as sexual, it does seem to me that it’s more than – or different to – familial love that Dean has for Castiel.

  11. Nice argument one thing I think you should have added is that even though dean has told him numerous times personal space he still insists to completly forget it

  12. Your analysis is flawless and made me rewatch several episodes esp the last season four. And you are totally right. And I think regardless of how he feels Dean knew that he had some pull on Cas that he could exploit. The scene where he deliberately catches Cas’ eyes before telling him they were done shows it, he knows he has some pull. If he understands it or not is another matter.

  13. Wow, this is really brilliant! It’s nice to see someone making good points instead of just mindlessly saying they’re together. Evidence is everything! Would you consider at any point doing an analysis of their season 8 dynamic? I felt the episode “Goodbye Stranger” really showed how much Dean actually does care about Castiel, and that their relationship has grown much closer.

  14. You should definitely read Twist and Shout if you haven’t yet. The single most heart-wrenching piece of fanfiction I have ever read in my entire life….oh my godd…

    • The only reason I didn’t cry from Twist and Shout is because I heavily prepared myself and spoiled the ending. But for me the prize for most gut-wrenching piece of Dean/Cas fic is How a Righteous Man Raises a Rose by swordofmymouth. Even AFTER bracing myself heavily and spoiling the ending I STILL cried. Ugh.

  15. After season eight, I definitely think that Dean reciprocates the feelings. My thought process is very similar to yours as well, so I think you’ll agree (if you watch season eight, which is much better than seasons 6 & 7, I promise)

  16. I completely agree on the fact that in season four and five we had absolutely no evidence that Dean was in love with Cas, but I think something changes mostly in the abomination that is season seven and even more in season 8. I always try to be critical about Dean’s feelings, but in season 8 he’s just so desperate to have Cas next to him it made me start thinking maybe he was starting to return Castiel’s feelings. I always think Dean doesn’t love Cas as much as the angel loves him, but after season 8 I’m pretty sure there’s something going on. I would love to read your thoughts on season 8 (I wouldn’t blame you if you skipped season 6 and 7, I hate them with everything I have). This is seriously a great article :)

  17. Hello. I am so happy to discover this article. You provided a fair and objective insight into Dean and Cas, which I find refreshing. I love when someone sees a character’s flaws as well as his strengths. I definitely will be reading your recommended fics. I look forward to your thoughts on seasons 6, 7 and 8, as well as 9 when it has been released entirely.

  18. I love castiel! He loves dean so much and gave up everything for him. I believe dean loves him in return. There is two much staring and heart felt speeches between those two. Plus dean was the only one who believed castiel’s innocence in season 6 (sorry, i know that wasn’t included) and hunted fo him in purgotory. Castiel loved dean first though. Who wouldn’t love dean? The sad thing is that with the way the show is going destiel isn’t going to happen. I feel like crying!!

  19. I really like your article-very well thought and written. I have never shipped any pairing before in my life and after I (recently) started watching Supernatural, was curious about the Destiel phenomenon. That was when I stumbled on your amazingly well written post and read all the awesome fanfic recs. Now I too ship Dean/Castiel fervently. :)

    However, Supernatural Season 9 seems intent on breaking my heart. Dean throwing Cas out without anything in “I’m no Angel” and making fun of Cas’s job in “Heaven can’t wait”, I just can’t…What happened to Cas being a part of Dean’s family? I don’t get Dean’s attitude at all; I understand that Sam will always come first with Dean. But the way Dean treats Cas as though he means nothing at all…

  20. Very well written, I really love your analysis :)

    I just want to add my own thoughts regarding Castiels lies and betrayal.
    You mentioned when Cas told Dean about the prophet being protected, my own interpretation of that scene is Cas tried to help Dean without being too obvious. They were probably watched in some way and Cas didn’t want his superiors to know he helped Dean. I had the same thought when Cas came back and told Dean he wasn’t gonna serve him. I think Cas pretended just to please his superiors, so he would be able to be there with the Winchesters(Dean).

    So here is my interpretation of what happens next:
    When Cas told Dean “You swear to follow his will and his word as swiftly and obediently as you did your own father’s?” I actually think Cas gave Dean a loophole. I mean, Dean hasn’t always followed his fathers words “swiftly and obediently” and Cas should know about that.
    And he couldn’t warn Dean at this moment without risking everything so he pretended to serve his superiors in every way (that’s why he added the loophole).

    Another thing.. As we have seen before, Cas isn’t good at thinking for himself, so I think he waited for Dean to take action and tell him what to do, and not only tell him but really convince him. Cas wants to do the right thing but he isn’t always sure what is the right thing to do. So I don’t think he lied and betrayed, I think he tried to be strategic and wait for a good opportunity. Cas is smart but he has his flaws and I think his flaws got to do with his insecurities and the fact that he’s unable to think for himself. He is used to be led so he waited for Dean to tell him and convince him of a better plan than the one of his superiors. I kind of think he did have blind-faith back then.. That he kind of believed what his superiors said was for the best, even if his gut told him it was wrong. So all he needed was convincing.
    Insecurities work that way, we may feel what is right but we still believe in others words over our own inner voice. I think Cas prayed Dean would eventually look through the superiors lies and get to the same conclusion as his inner voice had. Kind of prove the voice was right. But he really wanted proof, and convincing so he could act on it.

    This is my interpretation of it and as I see it, Cas didn’t betray Dean, he betrayed himself. He didn’t follow his own heart, and hell, I know how hard it is so I don’t blame him. I understand the way you see it but I’m not sure it’s fair to claim he lied to manipulate Dean just to keep the company.
    If Cas had told Dean the truth, I’m not sure he would have lived long enough to help Dean when it really mattered. And letting Sam out could have been a direct order, like a test. To see if Cas served heaven. He was probably supervised after he got back so telling Dean the truth or disobeying wouldn’t have been a smart move. I guess that could be the reason he really tested Dean’s plan, I mean questioned his train of thought, the stopping-the-apocalypse-and-save-sam-part (in green room). And when Cas left the room and after a while came back just to take them to Chuck, I think he went away to prepare for the escape. Because he didn’t show Dean he agreed with him in any way, which could mean they were supervised at the time.. and when he got back, it was without a word of warning. He just painted the wall.

    So, I would really really love to hear your thoughts on this! :)

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