cloudy_fic: (D and C by dreamawayx)
[personal profile] cloudy_fic
Title: The Mirror 2/3
Author: CloudyJenn
Fandom: Supernatural
Pairings: Dean/Castiel, various Sam pairings
Rating: R
Word Count: 24,500+
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me. I am making no profit from this fanfiction.
Warnings: None
Summary: When Dean touches a strange mirror, he's whisked away to one alternate reality after another and it doesn't take him long to realize the universe is trying to tell him something.
Author's Notes: Based off a [livejournal.com profile] comment_fic prompt. The first part was posted to [livejournal.com profile] cloudy_verses. I have since closed that post to avoid confusion and transferred the entirety of the fic here.



When Dean stumbles through mirror, he is facing himself again, complete with the gun pointing at him. There is sadly a lack of beautiful pregnant Castiel.

"Don't shoot," Dean says, hands held high. "I'm not a monster, I'm you. Get Cas and he'll tell you."

Dean seriously considers whether he could fall back into the mirror again before other Dean takes a shot. If he's here, this obviously isn't the right universe. But then other Dean says something that confuses him into forgetting that course of action.

"I don't know anybody named Cas," he snarls as he cocks the gun. "What are you?"

"What do you mean, you don't know Cas? Castiel? Nerdy angel guy? Or maybe a cute blond chick?"

Annoyed confusion crosses other Dean's face.

"Which is it?"

"I don't know," Dean grumbles. "It changes in each world. I don't understand. How could you not know Cas? Who dragged you out of hell?"

His confusion erupts into shock that truly worries Dean. There's no way. He can't have found a world where Dean didn't make the deal to save Sam. A sick suspicion settles in the pit of Dean's stomach.

"Where's Sam?"

"You listen here," other Dean snarls, thrusting his gun further in Dean's face. "I don't know any Cas or Sam and I sure as fuck don't know any angels."

Okay, whoa. Dean's head hurts with the truth of what the other Dean is telling him. A life lived without Sam. Without the stupid annoying little brother that this Dean couldn't live without. He stares at the other Dean. Who is he without Sam?

"You don't have a brother?"

"Yeah, I'm through talking."

Only instinct and a healthy understanding of his own mind keeps Dean alive. He sweeps out his foot and lunges towards himself. The other Dean's surprise at his sudden motion gives Dean the split second he needs to knock the gun away. Other Dean does not stay off-guard for long though. He tackles Dean to the ground, kneeing him hard in the stomach. Pain radiates through Dean's entire body, but he fights through it, punching and kicking as much as his other self.

"Stop...it..." he grunts, curling a leg around other Dean's waist and throwing every ounce of his strength into flipping them over.

"Fuck you," other Dean spits.

"Yeah, yeah," Dean mumbles, holding other Dean down with one arm across his throat and rifling through his pockets.

"Whoa, hey. Dude, I know we're hot, but that's too freaky, even for me," other Dean pants as he struggles to throw Dean off. His words more than his actions very nearly succeed in breaking Dean's concentration. It doesn't sound much like he's joking. Like maybe he's all too used to finding guys hot.

"I'm getting at your holy water," Dean explains.

He finally grasps the metal flask and draws it out. Other Dean stops fighting and stares up at him in wary understanding.

"Cheers," he says before tipping the flask and swallowing. He tosses the flask aside and while other Dean is contemplating him, he drags out his own silver knife and with an annoyed huff, carefully slices down the center of his palm. It smarts like hell, but it's worth it to see some of the suspicion ease out of other Dean's eyes.

"Not a demon or a shape-shifter or any other monster, okay? I'm you."

Other Dean abruptly rolls to the side, taking Dean along with them until their positions are reversed. The breath whooshes out of Dean's lungs. His body is fucking heavy.

"Okay, fine. I believe you're not a monster. Not sure I buy the other shit. Tell me about Cas and Sam."

"Sam's my brother," Dean wheezes. "He was born in 1983. A few years back, he died and I made a deal to bring him back to life. A couple years after that, an angel named Castiel saved me from Hell. We're hunters together and I'm trying to get back to them through that mirror," he says, jerking his head towards the mirror.

Other Dean sits back, his ass uncomfortably close to Dean's crotch.

"Angels? Seriously?"

"Yeah, I know. I didn't believe it for a long time either, but...it's real."

He doesn't even consider telling other Dean about the whole mess with Lucifer and the Apocalypse. It's just too unbelievable. Not to mention that Dean wishes he didn't know. No reason to torment this other Dean.

"Why would an angel care about you?"

"I have no idea," he says honestly. "But he's my...friend, I guess."

Other Dean snorts as he climbs off Dean's lap. The bitterness etched along his features depresses Dean. But what other feeling could this Dean possibly have? Alone all his life, obviously out hunting by himself. It's a terribly lonely life. Dean's lucky to have Sam and now Cas. There's no reason for loneliness now.

Which is...not something he'd realized yet.

"How did you start hunting anyway?" Dean ask, frowning. "If Sam wasn't born...well, the way it happened to me, Dad wouldn't have gotten into hunting."

"Dad? Dad was never a hunter," other Dean says with a matching frown. "Demons kidnapped him when I was 11 and Mom got back into hunting to find him."

"Did she?" Dean asks quietly.

"Yeah, but...she was too late. Anyway, she got me into it before she died and..." He holds out both arms. "Here I am."

Zachariah had a good point. Dean really does always find his way back to hunting. Even without Sam or his father, it still happens. His destiny to save lives and search out evil things.

The universe has so many things to tell him.

"You better get back to it," other Dean says, nodding to the mirror and it's a concession. Dean knows there are still doubts in his other self's mind and yet he's letting Dean go without any more fight. But as Dean picks himself off the floor and dusts off his pants, he realizes he doesn't want to leave other Dean alone. Not when he knows someone who could so easily make him happy.

"Just...hold on." Please be out there. "Cas? Castiel? Could you...just...get your ass over here?"

Other Dean is thoroughly bewildered. Dean just hopes that Castiel doesn't try to visit in his true form.

"Cas?"

"Yes?"

Both men spin around to see that very familiar face. The same old Cas with his dark staring eyes and ugly trench coat. Dean's heart twinges.

"Hey, Cas. It's...uh, well, I'm Dean Winchester."

"Me too," other Dean chimes in.

Castiel looks from one Dean to the other, his expression the same hard cold one Dean remembered from when they first met. Whatever's been happening to Cas, it's clear he hasn't learned much about human emotion. Dean wonders if this was a mistake.

"You have evidence of my Grace in your soul," he says to Dean.

Other Dean raises an eyebrow at him.

"From saving me from hell," he explains and other Dean nods as if it makes sense. Dean has a feeling he's just going with the flow now.

"I did not save you from hell," Castiel objects. "I saved Gregory Trent from hell."

"Who? Wait, no, don't tell me. The righteous man?"

Castiel nods.

White hot jealousy blisters through Dean's entire being. Another righteous man forming a bond with Castiel. Another man traveling with him and growing close with him. The anger must show on Dean's face because his other self elbows him and says, "Dude, are you okay?"

"Are you fucking him?" Dean growls. "Gregory?"

"Of course not," Castiel says, offended. "He has a wife and child."

Oh. That takes the winds out of Dean's sails. He glances at other Dean.

"You fuck guys?"

Other Dean nods.

"Of course."

Right. Obviously. With some difficulty, Dean overlooks that point and turns to Castiel.

"Look, he can explain about his life and I got a feeling you're stuck here, am I right?"

Anyone else might not notice it, but Dean knows Castiel too well, even this version that never saved him from hell or discovered emotions. He sees the pain and the wash of sadness in those glittering blue eyes. This Castiel is as alone as the Dean standing beside him. The truth of the matter hits Dean so hard, he releases a breathless laugh.

They so obviously need each other.

"Cas, this is Dean. Dean, this is Cas. Good luck."

"What-"

"I do not understand-"

But Dean's backing away, reaching behind him towards the mirror.

"It'll make sense, I promise," he says before touching the glass and being whisked away.

*******************

Dean really hates it when he can immediately tell he's not in the right world. Sometimes he retouches the mirror immediately, catching only a glimpse of shock on his own face or the female version of the same. But even so, when he steps out of the mirror once more and sees this version of DeAnna facing him, he can't help stopping.

"What the hell?"

Instead of the t-shirt and scruffy jeans look, DeAnna is wearing a dark green sweater that fits against her curves to perfection and a pair of really nice blue jeans. Maybe even designer jeans, Dean has no idea. The point is, she looks amazing in that outfit. And the look is completed with long shiny brown curls cascading down her back and impeccably done make-up. As far as Dean knows, they don't have curly hair and they certainly don't naturally have make-up, so it looks like DeAnna spent hours getting ready that morning. And it works well for her.

She's stunning.

He knew she was a good-looking woman, but this version could have stepped off the cover of a magazine. Dean had no idea his female self cleaned up so well. He wonders whether the same could be said for him if he ever changed out of his flannels and jeans.

Still, hot girly look or not, her instincts obviously remain the same because the moment she sees Dean standing there, she's got a gun pointed at his chest.

"What are you?"

Luckily, the usual rigmarole is expedited by the presence of Castiel, who touches DeAnna's arm and says, "No, don't hurt him, De."

De?

"Give me a good reason," she orders, though Dean notices her body relaxes significantly under Castiel's touch. Obviously another example in the great universal message that Dean and Castiel like fucking each other. He sighs. Really, he understands now. He'd just like to go home.

Dean listens idly as Castiel explains once more who he is and what's going on. Midway through DeAnna's disbelieving rant, Samantha appears in the doorway and the whole process begins again. Dean literally can't believe how epically hot Samantha is. Even with DeAnna's new look, she's got nothing on her sister and yet, Dean's actually more attracted to DeAnna than he is Samantha.

Which is a disturbing and kinky thought.

At any rate, seeing Samantha with her curtain of glossy brown hair and skintight tank top that reveals way more of her chest than is strictly necessary physically exhausts Dean. He's relieved he ended up with a goofy Sasquatch to protect instead of this Amazonian beauty. The tiny women Sam favors are way less threatening than the muscle-bound idiots Dean's sure Samantha attracts.

Well, unless they're demons.

"Can I just ask you something?" Dean interrupts. The other three stop bickering and face him, Castiel with that old familiar head-tilt that gives Dean a painful jolt of homesickness.

"What?" DeAnna says, not unkindly, though her suspicion remains.

"Who taught you to put make-up on?"

Her surprise is palpable.

"Excuse me?"

Dean gestures at her face. "You know, the make-up. Looks really nice and I've been through about ten versions of you who didn't wear any, so I was wondering who taught you how to put it on."

"Um, Mom?" she says with a 'no duh' tone.

"Mom? Did Dad...?"

"Died. In the nursery," Samantha says, both girls now wearing matching frowns, but all Dean can do is smile and look away as odd tears itch behind his eyes.

The exact opposite universe. Instead of John Winchester and his boys hunting through the countryside, it was Mary Winchester and her girls. John raised DeAnna as a boy because he obviously didn't know any different, but in between teaching them how to shank demons and salt corpses, Mary must have taught her daughters all the stuff women know about hair and makeup. Dean remembers how good Mary looked even when hunting. Dean believes even his female self wouldn't care so much about her appearance, but if making herself pretty reminded her of good times with her mother, Dean knows she'd do it religiously.

"I take it things are different in your world," DeAnna ventures.

Dean just nods. "Hey, do you...I don't know..." He breaks off with a short laugh. The change is such a small one. Unlike the last Dean, who's mother never had Sam, this Mary is almost the same person. "I'll trade you stories about Dad for ones about Mom," he finally says.

The bright eager smile DeAnna gives him makes her even lovelier.

"Deal."

*******************

The sunlight glowing weakly in the dusty window of the mirror room flows across the floor at the same angle as ever. Despite the fact that Dean spent hours talking himself hoarse with DeAnna and Samantha, it's still around one o'clock in the afternoon the previous day when he steps through into the next world. So very weird, but Dean doesn't have much time to ponder it because he's immediately distracted by the presence of a strange woman.

It's not DeAnna, Samantha or Castiel's female vessel. She's a short well-built black woman with a gorgeous mass of curly hair and she's wearing a tight skirt that reveals a pair of shapely legs. She reminds Dean a little of Cassie, but the combination of sharp humor and smug conceit shining in her dark eyes ends the comparison thoroughly.

"Um...hi?"

"Oh, this is too good," she says, turning her head to shout down the stairs, "Yo, Sammy! You gotta see this!"

There's a loud clomping sound indicative of Sam's heavy ass running up the stairs.

"Who are you?"

The woman ignores him in favor of watching Sam walk into the room, his expectant smile turning to confusion.

"Dean? I thought you were staying in with Cas? How did you even get up here?"

"Not quite, babe. Try again," the woman says. The way she speaks to Sam and the way he looks at her both speak of familiarity. They are clearly longtime friends, if not more. It bugs the hell out of Dean that he doesn't recognize someone who knows Sam so well.

"Okay, I don't get it," Sam says after just a moment. "What's going on?"

"Yeah, I'd like to know that too," Dean says irritably. "Who the hell are you?"

"That's not a comforting sign," she comments without any real concern. "Or else I've got a different vessel in your world."

"World?"

"Vessel?" Dean exclaims over Sam's question. "You're an angel? Wait, hang on..." Her smirk is suddenly excruciatingly familiar. "Gabriel?"

"The one and only," she says with a wink. "Let me guess. I'm either this vessel's male form or...maybe you know me as a shrimpy brown-haired person? The female version didn't suit me and I decided against using a male when I vacated Heaven. Men are so much easier to control when you're a sexy female," she confesses.

"Hey," Sam complains.

"Sorry, sweetheart, but it's true," Gabriel says as she reaches up to pat Sam's cheek. "But don't worry; I still love you best."

Dean's thoughts screech to a halt. The words might be teasing, but the emotions behind them aren't. When Gabriel says she loves Sam, she really means it. And judging by the way Sam blushes and nuzzles ever so slightly against her hand, he really likes hearing it.

Oh god, his brother is fucking Gabriel.


*******************

"Will you stop looking at her like that?" Sam snaps.

"He can't help it," Gabriel says. "He still can't quite grasp the concept that angels don't have genders." She leans over to Sam and says in an exaggerated stage whisper, "This Dean isn't knocking boots with Castiel yet."

"Uh, look, I think-"

"Really?" Sam exclaims in amazement, interrupting Dean. "Is he from the same time in the other dimension?"

"Oh yes," Gabriel confirms. "He's just duller, I think."

"Hey!"

"I'm only teasing, of course. You're both equally dull."

For a second, Dean considers fighting with her, indulging the instinct to defend himself from Gabriel's brand of schoolyard insults. But really, she's not the Gabriel he knew. Obviously this is the wrong dimension. No reason to waste his breath.

"Be nice," Sam scolds

Dean smiles, pleased to know that even a Sam who's fucking Gabriel still has Dean's back. And then Sam proceeds to whirl on Dean and totally lose any points he's earned.

"And what's wrong with Cas? You're not still being an asshole to him, are you? He deserves better than that," he lectures. With his arms crossed over his chest and his angry tone, Sam reminds Dean of someone's nagging wife. Another thing that obviously never changes.

"Look, I know you're Sam, but things are different back home," Dean says, even though Sam's right. Dean has been an asshole to Castiel and he's not even sure why. Just that Castiel drives him so crazy and it pisses Dean off. Maybe even more than pisses him off. But Dean doesn't like to dig too deeply under the easier anger to the more difficult emotions hiding beneath.

"Different how?" Sam challenges.

"He's lying," Gabriel butts in. "Have you worked out why you're traveling through all these dimensions yet?"

"What? There's no...it's just random," Dean says, but as soon as he says it, he feels the untruth of the statement. The worlds haven't been random at all. Not when there's so much that could be different. Worlds destroyed by war or famine. Worlds where this building doesn't exist or the mirror had moved to a museum or who knows, the house is under miles of water. Or smaller changes. He could have found world after world where Dean and Sam never hunted, worlds where they were both long dead or criminally insane. Any number of changes and all Dean gets with few exceptions are worlds where he and Sam both exist as hunters in this very building.

Worlds where Dean and Castiel are a couple. Even if the universes aren't lying and there's no being in existence more perfect for Dean than Castiel, there still must be worlds where Dean's too stubborn or Castiel too cold or Dean already married or Castiel unwilling to cross the line into human romance or just anything. But Dean's not seen a hint of those worlds. All he's seeing are the one's where Castiel makes Dean smile simply by holding his hand. Where they've started a family or are standing in the glow of new love or are actually fucking there in the mirror room.

"Yeah, now you're thinking," Gabriel says with a devious smile Dean's never trusted, not on her or her male counterpart. "Sounds like you still haven't quite gotten there yet."

Then she snaps her fingers and the mirror room disappears around them.

"What the fuck, Gabriel!"

Dean sighs. That's a too familiar voice. He turns around to see his counterpart half-naked and tangled up with Castiel on the bed. Unlike the last time Dean saw his male copy fucking around with Castiel, Dean's captivated by the image they present. Castiel flat under Dean's body, his cheeks flushed red and his hair made wild by Dean's fingers. His hands clutch at the other Dean's ass and the sight of it makes Dean's dick twitch and start to ache.

"What the hell is this?" the other Dean snaps as he climbs off Castiel and grabs his shirt.

"It's you," Sam answers. "From another dimension."

"What?"

"It's true," Castiel says, faintly surprised. "He carries the mark of my Grace on his soul."

The ache in Dean's groin only worsens at Castiel's desire wrecked voice. The other Dean's feelings aren't nearly so pleasant.

"Are you fucking kidding me? That's not possible," he complains as he shoves his shirt down over his head.

"Oh but it is," Gabriel says, her voice now bored. "And he needs to ask you about gay panic. We'll give you a moment alone."

Another snap of her fingers has the room empty save the two Deans.

"I really hate it when she does that," other Dean grumbles.

"Does she do it a lot?"

"I take it your Gabriel is less of a total bitch?" other Dean asks.

He shrugs into a plaid button down Dean recognizes. His amusement at the little detail helps ease Dean past the awkwardness of other Dean's question.

"Not really," he answers vaguely. "Never trapped me alone with myself though."

"Well, that's new, I gotta say."

"You're being really calm about this," Dean comments.

Other Dean shrugs. "Cas believes it," he says as though that's the only proof he needs. It only takes half a moment of thinking for Dean to realize it's all he would need as wel. No matter how much they've fought or how angry they've gotten, Dean always immediately accepts whatever Castiel tells him.

"C'mon." Other Dean sits in one of the motel chairs and gestures to the other. "The sooner we get this over with, the sooner I get some ass," he says.

The quiet glow of jealousy in Dean's chest doesn't even faze him. That alone should prove that he doesn't need this stupid conversation, but Dean suspects Gabriel won't let him go until they talk. Angels are such assholes.

"So let me guess," other Dean says. "You wanna screw Cas, it freaks you out, you're being a dick to him and are generally miserable."

"I'm not miserable," Dean denies with an annoyed frown. "As matter of fact, things are better than they've ever been."

It's true. With Sam safe and intact and Castiel hunting alongside them on regular cases, Dean had been enjoying his life before the mirror stole him from it. If it wasn't perfect, it was still massively better than anything he'd been experiencing in the previous six or seven years.

"Yeah, I thought so too. Look, I'll save us some time. It's gonna be weird. You're gonna miss tits and pussy and you're gonna hate the way people look at you when Cas wants to hold your hand in public, okay? Get used to it," other Dean says bluntly. His lack of sympathy doesn't surprise Dean in the slightest.

"Gee, thanks."

"I'm not done, jack-off," he says, earning a snort from Dean. "All that shit doesn't matter. You like dick, okay? We always have and don't even try denying it. Fucking Cas is a thousand times hotter than any chick you've ever known, trust me. And not just because he's got a tight ass. I won't ruin the surprise, but let's just say he loses his goddamn mind in the bedroom and he wants it all the time."

This conversation is doing nothing to ease Dean's creepy arousal.

"And even that isn't the most important thing."

"And what's that?" Dean asks sarcastically. "That I'm just so in love with him?"

"Yes, asshole," other Dean says with a smug grin. "You fucking worship the ground he walks on or you will if you get your head out of your ass and stop being a dick. And when those dipshits glare at you when you're holding Cas' hand, you won't care because he's happy and when you think about chicks, you'll remember you've never loved any of them half as much you love a weird little angel man."

Dean snorts again. Talking to other Dean is oddly like his inner monologue. Without the open declaration of love, of course. But the same attitude and profanity.

"Are we clear?" other Dean asks.

"Yeah, I think that about covers it."

"Good because I had to bribe Gabriel to keep Sam out of my hair long enough to get some. I'm not wasting this afternoon talking to myself." He tips his head back and calls out, "Yo, Gabriel. We're done here."

For the third time that day, the scene immediately changes. Instead of sitting in the motel room, Dean is standing with his back to the mirror. Before him stands Sam, Gabriel, other Dean and Castiel. Other Dean looks annoyed, but Castiel is watching him with frank curiosity. Heat flashes through Dean's belly. He quickly shoots his gaze to Gabriel.

"Am I ever going to actually get back?"

"I hope so," Gabriel says, her voice uncharacteristically kind. "I think maybe there's a few more miles to go before you sleep...you know, with Cas."

Dean rolls his eyes.

"Well, that's as good a place as any to escape you people."

"Good luck," Sam says.

"Remember what I said," Dean adds. "It's worth it, I promise."

"Yeah, thanks." Dean looks at Castiel. "You got anything to add?"

"Tell my other self to take care of you," he says.

There's no way for Dean to wrap his mind around the emotions that statement dredges up in his chest, so he doesn't try. Instead, he buries the feelings and nods without saying a word, turning towards the mirror. Dean takes a deep breath.

Here he goes again.

*******************

When Dean lands in the next dimension, he almost touches the mirror again right away because he sees his copy walking through the door at the other end of the room. But he stops short when he gets a good look at what his copy is wearing. A pair of green plaid shorts and a red t-shirt with what Dean thinks is one of those little mushroom guys from Mario Bros on it. His long hair hangs down into his eyes and he's wearing a pair of wire-rimmed glasses.

What the ever loving shit is this?

"There you are!" other Dean says. "I've been looking all over the house for you. Cas says this place is a bust. He wants to break for lunch. C'mon."

Without waiting for a reply, other Dean spins around and clatters down the stairs. Dean doesn't even think before he follows. Screw this being the wrong dimension. He has to know what is going on. The answer to that question becomes even more elusive when Dean reaches the first landing on the stairs and a third Dean emerges from a room to the left of the foyer. Nerdy Dean stumbles to a halt and stares at this new Dean.

"What the hell?"

"Who the fuck is that?" New Dean asks, pointing his gun up the stairs at Dean.

Dean presses a hand to his temple. This situation is fast becoming confusing. Nerdy Dean flattens himself against the wall at the end of the stairs and shoots panicked looks between the two other Deans. His already pale skin blanches to near white.

"Cas?" he calls out. "A little help?"

To Dean's great relief, Castiel immediately appears in the foyer, though his annoyed expression isn't a good sign.

"What's the matter, Will? What's taking so long?"

A small measure of clarity eases the confusion in Dean's mind. There aren't two Deans in this world. There's a Dean and...a twin? Probably. Having a geeky twin brother is actually kinda cool.

Unfortunately, Dean doesn't get the chance to ruminate on the situation because Castiel's irritation hardens into suspicion. Between one blink and the next, Will and other Dean disappear from where they stand and reappear behind Castiel's aggressively protective stance. Neither of them complain and in fact, Will shrinks closer to Castiel and peeks over his shoulder.

Weird. If Castiel had done that to Dean, he'd probably elbow him at the very least.

"What are you?" Castiel growls.

"Um, I'm Dean. I mean, not your Dean. Another Dean. Can't you see your Grace in me?" Dean asks, now worried that he's finally found a world where Castiel can't recognize him well enough not to strike him down as an evil impostor.

"I see my mark," Castiel confirms, but he doesn't sound pleased. "Did the Angel Council send you?"

"Angel Council?" What the ever loving fuck? "I don't know what that is."

"You don't know the Angel Council?" Will pipes up, surprise lifting his voice.

"Big fucking council of Angels? Been running the world for about three hundred years now?" other Dean adds in an incredulous tone.

"Okay, wow," Dean can't help saying. "Look, I'm not from this world. I came through a mirror in that room up there," he says, nodding back up the stairs. "That's why you see your mark or whatever, Cas. I'm looking for my own world and this obviously isn't it."

Curiosity brightens Will's gaze, but neither Castiel nor other Dean give up their wary mistrust. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to stay in this world. Dean's getting weird vibes off everyone here. The way Castiel curls a hand around both Will and other Dean's wrists freaks him out. Almost as much as the fact that other Dean doesn't seem to find it odd.

"He's telling the truth," Castiel allows grudgingly.

"Really?"

Will tries to get past him, but he's stopped by Castiel's powerful grasp. Seemingly without noticing the movement, Will lets himself be tugged close against Castiel's side, held tight by an arm slung around his waist.

"What's your world like? Where's the other me?"

"There is no other you," Dean says faintly, his attention mainly on the way Castiel beckons other Dean to take his hand. Their fingers thread together, joining all three in some kind of bizarre co-dependent little circle and yet again, no one acts like anything is fucking weird.

"No Will?" Castiel says. "How is that possible?"

"I...don't know? I mean, I've got Sam-"

"Is Sam your twin's name?" other Dean asks.

"No, I'm...what I'm saying is I don't have a twin," Dean explains, his eyebrows high on his forehead. "I have a younger brother named Sam. He's not here?"

Will and other Dean shake their heads. Other Dean looks very disturbed. He keeps exchanging short dark glances with Castiel, but Will appears oblivious. He wraps an arm around Castiel's neck and apparently unconsciously begins playing with a lock of Castiel's hair.

"I've never heard of a younger brother," he says, fascinated. "How much younger?"

"Four years," Dean says. "And what do you mean you've never heard of a younger brother?"

"This world only produces one set of twins per family," Castiel says, cutting across Will's next excited statement. "Each human has an identical sibling. I assume that is not the case in your dimension."

"Yeah, no," Dean says.

A longer explanation about his world and about Sam springs to mind, but is utterly destroyed when other Dean presses his cheek against Castiel's shoulder and Castiel releases other Dean's hand to hook his thumb into one of other Dean's belt loops. Dean's brain locks up. He can't reconcile what he's seeing. Open affection is one thing. But Castiel is feeling up both brothers and it's not just loving touches. The twins gravitate towards Castiel like he's a big Angel magnet. And the way Castiel keeps them both slightly behind him speaks more of protection than love.

"Okay, I'm sorry, but what is going on?" Dean blurts. "Why are you standing like that?"

Will frowns.

"Cas is our Angel," he says as though that were explanation enough.

When Dean doesn't answer, other Dean speaks up.

"The Angel Council gave us to him. You don't have an Angel? I thought you had Cas' mark?"

"Um, yeah, but not because of that," Dean says, thoughts now whirling. He looks at Castiel. "So you're not screwing them?"

Will snorts with laughter. "Oh my god, are you serious? Why would he do that?"

But Dean catches the flash of panic in other Dean's eyes. He sees how other Dean tries to pull away from Castiel and the sudden guilt that overwhelms Castiel's expression. So that's how it is. Either this Dean and Castiel are fucking or they want to. And they won't say anything to Will because Castiel owns them or something. Dean makes a face. That's so messed up.

He's not leaving until it's fixed.

"Because he's in love with Dean?" Dean fixes his gaze on Castiel. "Aren't you?"

"Angels don't fall in love with humans," Castiel says, an obvious recitation. "We are here to protect and nurture them."

"Bullshit," Dean says.

"What's he talking about, Cas?" Will asks, eyes wide with confusion.

Castiel glares at Dean, but only briefly before turning to Will. His fingers dip under the edge of Will's shirt and he rubs what Dean assumes are comforting circles into Will's belly. On his opposite side, other Dean has released his grip on Castiel until they are only connected by their pinky fingers.

"It's nothing," he says.

"You're lying to me," Will accuses. "Why are you lying? Cas...do you...do you like Dean that way?"

Silent tension holds the room captive. Dean can tell Castiel is thinking fast. Unable to lie, but unwilling to tell the truth. It's one of the only familiar things about this world. Other Dean stares at the floor and he's biting the inside of his mouth. Dean thinks maybe he wants to say something, but can't override Castiel's authority.

"Will," Castiel finally says. "I didn't mean for this to happen."

Hope explodes across other Dean's face. His eyes snap from the floor to Castiel, his lips parted in shock.

"Oh my god, it's true!" Will exclaims. "Why didn't you tell me? Didn't you think you could trust me?"

"Trust you?" Castiel asks, also surprised. "It's forbidden. It's dangerous-"

"So? Since when have we cared about danger?" Will places his palm against Castiel's forehead, an odd gesture Dean doesn't understand, but which obviously means something to Castiel. He slumps against Will, his expression suddenly alive with so much emotion, Dean has to look away.

"You're my Angel, Cas," Will says quietly. "And Dean is my brother. So what if it's forbidden? I'm not going to tell anyone."

"I'm sorry," Castiel answers just as softly.

"Don't say it to me." Will nods over Castiel's shoulder at other Dean. "Tell him."

Dean turns away before Castiel does. Good for them and all, but he could do without yet another display of a different Dean getting what he wants. Whatever power sent him into that mirror has a wicked sense of humor. Somehow Dean's ended up as some kind of inter-dimensional Yenta. Behind him, he hears Castiel's low gruff tone murmuring something to other Dean.

He sighs.

Time to try again.

*******************

The first thing Dean hears when he steps out of the mirror is the sound of his brother's shrill indignant voice.

"See, I told you he would be here!"

Sam glares at Dean, his arms crossed over his chest and chin stuck out the way it always does when he's feeling disgustingly superior. It usually makes Dean want to punch Sam in the kidneys, but right now, it makes him feel terribly homesick. He misses his big stupid bitch of a younger brother.

"I didn't not believe you, Sam," the other Dean grumbles. "It's just weird."

Weird is right. Once Dean drags his attention away from his Sam-related melancholy, he really sees who is standing in the rest of the room. Sam and the other Dean, both male and dressed the way they should be. Beside them stands Castiel, a bemused expression on his face and in Castiel's arms, there is a little girl, perhaps two or three years old. She's got curly brown hair, big blue eyes and a breathtaking grin that Dean can't help returning.

"Daddy!" she squeals, kicking at Castiel's stomach and reaching out for Dean.

"Hey," other Dean says, sounding mildly annoyed.

"It's really you." Wonder lightens Castiel's deep voice. He doesn't move closer, but he does let the squirming girl down and watches in surprise as she stumbles into Dean's legs. "Marianne knows you."

Dean's not sure what he should do. It's not cool to grab up a stranger's child, but if he doesn't respond to the girl, she might get upset. Her surprisingly strong arms clamp around his calves and she stares up at him with those shining blue eyes. Not blue like Castiel or like DeAnna's son, Mark. Instead they are a clear sky-blue, so light that her pupils are a shocking darkness at their center. Dean already feels himself falling under their spell.

"What's going on?" he asks weakly, finally giving up and reaching down to swing the girl into his arms.

"You're here from another dimension," Sam says excitedly. "I saw it in a vision. I even saw myself explaining that I have visions because your Sam doesn't. At least not anymore and not in the same way. And no, it's not because of the demon blood. I was always psychic. I was only given demon blood because I had that power."

All the while Sam is spewing this confusing speech, other Dean is glowering at his child snuggled against Dean's side. He can't blame him. Dean's never had a child, but he knows he'd hate having one call another man 'Daddy'. Unless it was Cas, Dean's brain automatically corrects.

"Marianne," other Dean blurts before Sam can draw breath to continue his explanation.

The girl turns her striking eyes from Dean's face towards the voice calling her name. A puzzled frown forms on her small mouth and she cocks her head to the side, a movement she must have picked up from Castiel.

"Daddy?" she asks.

"Yeah, I'm Daddy," other Dean says. "Just want to make that clear."

Marianne's frown deepens and she turns her head back to Dean. One of her tiny hands pats against his cheek as she searches his face. He stills, uncertain of what test she's giving him, but somehow hoping he passes.

"Different Daddy," she decides.

When Mark had looked at him, Dean had fallen in love and at the time, he assumed seeing his and Castiel's features in the child's face was the reason. But this girl doesn't look a thing like him and it doesn't matter. One look at that total trust and complete adoration and Dean's gone once again.

"Yeah," he says.

"Not exactly," other Dean objects. "He's-"

"But he is you," Sam declares. "I told you, he's the exact same as you. Marianne's not going to see the difference."

"How did you know that anyway?" Dean asks

"I told you, I'm psychic! You see-"

"Sam," Castiel interrupts, his clever eyes locked on Dean's face, probably catching every detail of his bewilderment. "Dean appears overwhelmed. Didn't you say he would need a break?"

"Oh right." Sam grins. "I even saw you telling me that, but I forgot. Are you hungry?"

The last question is directed at Dean. Until Castiel mentioned it, Dean hadn't thought about his stomach or any other need in several hours. But now that he's said it, Dean's stomach clenches and he realizes he has to piss like a racehorse. Sooner or later, he'll have to stop and sleep. Dean has no clue how long he's been up, but it must be very late at night back home. Maybe even the next day. But he's not ready to stop that long yet. Only when he's on the verge of collapse.

"Yeah, I could eat."

Other Dean snatches Marianne away from Dean.

"C'mon, baby girl. You wanna eat?"

She giggles and rests her cheek against other Dean's shoulder.

"Hi, Daddy."

"That's right," other Dean says as he carries her out of the mirror room. Dean snorts when he hears other Dean's rapidly fading voice say, "Can you say Number One Daddy?"

"Well, that's great. Now I'm Number Two Daddy."

"Actually, Cas is Number Two Daddy," Sam says helpfully. "You'd be Number Three."

"You can shut up," Dean says, poking him in the chest. "Let's go. I'm starving."

*******************

"Where'd she come from anyway?" Dean asks.

The odd little group sits in a booth at the same diner where Dean ate the last two times. He's beginning to memorize the menu. Not that these places ever vary much in their choices. Good thing his eating habits rarely vary either. Even in alternate realities. He and other Dean place the same order of a double cheeseburger and onion rings. The only difference is the short exasperated glance Castiel gives other Dean. Dean grins. He's seen Cas and other Dean having sex and he's listened to other Dean talk about how much he loves Cas, but he's never seen them act like a typical couple. They work seamlessly. Other Dean grabs the high-chair and Castiel inserts Marianne into it seconds after other Dean's got it in place. Other Dean's water comes with lemon and Castiel scoops it into his tea without asking. Castiel's handing him a tissue the moment other Dean realizes he needs to clean off Marianne's cheek. It's...oddly endearing.

"Well, you see, when a man and a woman love each other very much," other Dean says.

"I meant, how did you get her," Dean interrupts, rolling his eyes.

"It's called adoption," other Dean quips as he hands Marianne the graham cracker Castiel produced from nowhere.

"Yeah and I don't know about you, but my record isn't exactly clean enough to adopt a kid."

"Oh well, when a man and an angel love each other very much, the angel can pull strings about the man's FBI record."

Dean glances sidelong at Castiel.

"Breaking laws for me, Cas?"

"I was only correcting mistaken information," Castiel says in an falsely innocent tone.

"So you see," Sam says from Dean's left. "You don't have to worry that you can't have children with Cas. You just have to trust him."

"Okay, doesn't that freak you out?" Dean asks other Dean and Castiel.

The idea of Sam with true psychic powers is terrifying. His Sam is good enough at wheedling information out of Dean without adding the actual ability to read his mind.

"All the time," other Dean says with an exaggerated eye-roll.

"Don't listen to him," Sam counters. "I don't have visions all the time. Only when I need a message. The worst being when Dean and Cas refused to tell me they'd hooked up." He shudders. "My brain decided to provide me with evidence in technicolor and surround-sound. I had to beg them to tell me or stop, so I wouldn't have to see it."

"Needless to say, we told him," Castiel says lightly.

"And your visions decided you needed to know about me and kids?" Dean asks.

It sounds far-fetched, but Dean can't forget what Gabriel had told him. Something sent him through these worlds for a reason. These weren't random worlds. Each one had a message for Dean or a purpose he could accomplish for the Dean and Castiel in that world. Dean thinks of Mark and how envious he'd been of DeAnna.

"Apparently." Sam gives him a gentle smile. "I know how much you want your own child."

"Yeah," Dean answers, voice rough with suppressed emotion. He immediately tumbles into another question to smooth past a potentially awkward moment. "How do you go hunting with her around?"

"In turns," other Dean says. "We live a couple of hours from here. Most of the time, Marianne stays at home, of course, but you know, Sam's visions had her here." Dean nods. "Anyway, we only go on hunts within a day's drive and me and Cas never go on the same hunt. Nothing we hunt anymore can really hurt him, but you never know."

"Right," Dean agrees. It's a good way of making sure Marianne is never left alone, but he has to admit, it sucks that he can't hunt with Castiel anymore. Yet at the same time, he likes the idea of the sacrifice, that he could find a compromise between staying a hunter and giving up his whole life entirely.

"Cas still makes me take an angel with me though." Faint disgust mars other Dean's expression. "Usually Balthazar."

"Seriously?"

"Batazar!" Marianne shouts.

"Marianne loves her uncle Balthazar," Sam says sourly.

The waitress interrupts Dean before he can properly mock Sam for his familial jealousy. When she sets Castiel's plate in front of him, Marianne immediately stretches her arms forward, past other Dean's plate and makes grabby hands.

"I wanna french fry, Das," she demands.

"What'd she call you?" Dean asks as Castiel hands his daughter one french fry.

"Das," he says. "We taught her to call Dean 'Daddy' and attempted to have her call me 'Dad'."

"Which she thought was stupid," other Dean says, rather proudly Dean thinks. "She heard me calling him 'Cas' all the time and sort of...smashed the two together."

"French fry, Das," Marianne pleads.

Castiel gives her two more French fries, but Dean can tell by the look on his face that it's all she's getting. If Dean does end up having a child with his Castiel, the kid might actually grow up on a healthy diet. And with constant supervision. A strange and wonderful concept.

"You know, if you want her to eat better food, you should set a better example," Sam says in a haughty tone from behind his mountainous salad.

"Turkey is healthy," Castiel protests. "It comes with french fries."

"French fry?" Marianne says. "Das?"

"Besides, Dean is the one who sets a terrible example."

"Hey, you don't catch me giving her onion rings."

"What child likes onions?" Castiel exclaims.

The three of them soon dissolve into good-natured bickering while Marianne tries to steal a pickle off other Dean's plate. Dean watches them in amused silence. They're not perfect, not by a long shot. But they sound like a family and Dean wants this so bad, he aches with it. But not the same sort of ache as before. Not the depressed certainty that he could never be truly happy, a family man in his own life. It's the pain of separation. There's no denial. Dean knows what he wants.

He only needs to get back to his own world.

"Are you okay?" Sam asks, finally noticing Dean's silence.

"Don't suppose you had a vision about how long I'll be out here?"

Sam shakes his head.

"No, I'm sorry," he says with sympathy. "But it can't be too much longer, right? What else could you have to learn?"

"That's what I'd like to know."

*******************

"Are you sure you don't want to stay the night?" Castiel asks.

"No, I'm good."

Dean can't explain it, but somehow he knows this world isn't one he needs to visit for very long. He needed to see this family, but they don't need him. If Dean's ever going to get home, it can't hurt to earn points with whatever sent him out by helping when he can. This family doesn't need help. Their happiness is obvious in every glance they exchange, every gentle touch or whispered word of endearment.

"Good luck," Sam says. "I mean with your family."

"Thanks."

Sam drags Dean into a massive, but brief hug, as if he knows it'll be too painful for Dean to linger in the embrace. The other two don't offer the same comfort, which Dean appreciates. With other Dean, it'd be too weird. And with Castiel, he's not sure he could let go.

"You wanna say goodbye, Marianne?" other Dean asks.

"Bye? Bye, Daddy?" she asks, obviously confused by the turn of events.

"Daddy number two," other Dean reminds her. "I'm not going anywhere, kiddo."

"Oh." She leans out of his arms suddenly and Dean only just moves fast enough to catch her. "Bye, Daddy."

God, that name cuts right through Dean. Wrapping his arms fully around her, Dean holds Marianne close, his eyes shutting against the powerful wave of melancholy. Marianne will never be his child. In his world, her other self has already found a home, he imagines. Like Mark, he'll never see her curious blue eyes again or hear her sweet voice begging treats from her 'Das.'

The universe better stop screwing with him soon. Dean can't take much more of it.

Without another goodbye, Dean hands Marianne over to her father and marches towards the mirror, hand stretched towards the smooth glass.

"It's soon," Sam suddenly says, his voice oddly flat. "Very soon, Dean."

"What?"

But his momentum is too great and Dean's fingers graze the mirror's surface.

The mirror takes him.

Part 3
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