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Stronger Than Words

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It’s nothing glamorous. One can barely call it a restaurant. Situated to the back of Singer’s Salvage, with a patch of dirt as a parking lot, the hole in the wall has a grand total of five tables- if you count the tiny one in the corner with a single chair- and a small bar with three stools. Not one table or chair matches, all bought secondhand or “rescued” from the side of the road to be thrown together. Behind the bar is a small window into the makeshift kitchen, which doesn’t look like much either, but is where all the magic happens.

“Slathering greasy burgers on a bun is not magic, Dean,” Sam says grumpily, watching his brother through the window.

“You only say that because you can’t even make toast without setting the toaster on fire,” Dean grins, humming in satisfaction at the pop and sizzle as he flipped the patty over.

“Dude, that happened once .”

“Yeah, it’s almost like cheese wasn’t meant to go in a toaster.”

Sam glares, but can’t really argue with that and settles for pouting instead. Dean smirks and places the freshly cooked patty on a buttered bun, along with some pepperjack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a dollop of mayo. He throws on some fries then hands the plate to Sam.

“Is it well done?” Sam asks, eyeing it carefully.

Dean gives him a look. “Are you seriously asking me-”

“Okay, okay,” Sam sighs and picks it up. “It’s just, she yells at me if it’s not-”

“Dude,” Dean slaps his spatula down. “It’s perfect, like it always is. I know how to make her damn burger-”

“Don’t you cuss in my presence, boy.”

Dean flinches and ducks his head, muttering under his breath while Sam grins like an idiot, handing the plate over to dark-skinned, heavier set woman sitting at the bar.

They both wait, holding their breath, as she takes a bite.

“Good enough, I suppose.”

Dean rolls his eyes. “C’mon, Missouri, you know it’s perfect .”

Sam looks way too smug. “He thinks he’s magic.”

“I am,” Dean says with a roll of his shoulders. “I’ve got rainbows comin’ outta my ass.”

“That’s for an entirely different reason.”

Dean doesn’t look up when he flips his brother off, and Sam chuckles to himself as he refills Missouri's sweet tea.

“Anything else I can get you?”

Missouri hums as she chews, wiping her mouth on a napkin. “Unless you can get me a slice of that handsome Mr. Singer, I'm ‘fraid there's nothin’ else you can do for me.”

“I heard that,” Bobby mutters gruffly, walking through the swinging door that leads out front to the shop.

“Got any slices left? Ol’ Ellie seemed mighty hungry for ya earlier,” Dean teases as he leans through the window, tapping his fingers against the frame.

“That old witch can stuff that pretentiousness right back from where she pulled it out of,” Missouri says sharply, smiling up at Bobby and giving him a one-armed hug. “How you doin’, baby?”

“Be all right long as you continue to keep me in business.” Bobby hugs her back, then proceeds to straighten the sugar caddy and other condiments. “You ever eat anywhere else?”

“I don't get the same kind of attention anywhere else.”

Dean winks and clicks his tongue, pointing his spatula at them. “See? I told you, Bobby. Winning personality.”

“Speaking of that winning personality, Ellen’s ready to whoop you when she sees you. Somethin’ ‘bout a pretty blonde-"

“Hey, I told Jo I was gonna call her and I'm gonna. It's only been a couple of days. Gotta make ‘em want it.” Dean grins and salutes them with the spatula, looking back down at the patties sizzling on the grill.

“That’s no way to find love, honey,” Missouri sighs, shaking her head as she munched on her fries. Dean makes the best fries, crunchy and soft with the perfect amount of seasoning.

“Not love he’s gettin’,” Bobby mutters, stealing one of the fries and earning a slap on his hand.

“You went out with Jo?” Sam raises a brow. “And didn’t call? Ellen is gonna kill you, man.”

Dean shrugs, unconcerned. “Nah, Ellen loves me.”

“Ellen doesn’t love anybody who's doin’ her daughter,” Ash speaks up from the other side of the bar, typing away at his laptop- most likely doing something illegal.

“Don’t you talk like that around me,” Missouri snaps.

“Ellen’s just jealous she didn’t get a ride,” Dean smirks as he thrusts his hips forward dramatically. He slathers a patty with BBQ of his own making, along with some cheddar cheese and a side of onion rings. “Sammy,” he calls out, placing the plate in the window.

Sam makes a face at him, grabbing the plate and sliding it over to Ash. “Can we not talk about your sex life?”

“That’s his whole life,” Ash says through a mouthful of burger.

“Got that straight,” Dean says, then smirks and wiggles his ass. “Or...not so straight, actually.”

Sam groans and scrubs a hand over his face. “Sometimes I can’t believe you’re my big brother.”

“I know,” Dean sighs in mock sadness. “I turned out so cool and you’re the biggest fucking dork to walk the planet. I dunno where I went wrong with you.”

“School,” Sam grunts.

“Mmm, yeah, knew that would bite me in the ass,” Dean shakes his head.

“Oh, God,” comes a voice from one of the tables. “Why is it that whenever I’m in here we always end up on the subject of your ass?” Kevin looks up from his computer with bloodshot eyes, his third cup of coffee sitting on the table.

“Because I have a damn fine ass,” Dean quips.

“Where’s my burger?” Kevin grumbles, eyes sliding back to his laptop screen.

“You didn’t order, Kev,” Sam sighs.

“Oh,” Kevin blinks at his coffee. “Uh, can I get a-”

“Plain Jane, with nothing on it,” Dean says with a dramatic sigh. “Yeah, I know. You know, man, for someone in advanced placement , you're not very creative with your food.”

“Not everything has to be dressed up,” Kevin clicks his tongue. “Just like how one’s hair doesn’t have to change color everyday.”

Dean glances up at the tiny mirror above the stove, checking his blue spiked hair and his eyeliner, which is heavily smeared. He loves cooking, but the steam does horrible things to his eyeliner.

Sam’s face comes into view through the window, and he lays his arms across it and squints over at Dean. “You look like the Joker.”

Dean scoffs. “Whatever. Ledger kicks ass.”

“Leto.”

Dean raises his eyebrows and points the spatula at Sam, flinging some grease onto the tiled wall. “Fuck you, dude.”

Sam grins and turns away, disappearing from Dean’s immediate eyeline. He can hear Kevin and Ash suddenly in an argument over which iteration of the Joker was the best performance based on characterization and portrayal in relation to the comics.

Dean looks down at the remaining ticket on the grill and throws down a chicken sandwich, sprinkling olive oil around and covering it with a small metal bowl. He dumps more fries in the fryer and sits his spatula to the side, crossing his arms over his chest and looking through the window, the only things within his immediate line of vision being the door, a portion of the bar, and part of a table.

This was the typical night at the diner. They had their regulars, but every once in awhile they were lucky enough to welcome in a few that were just stopping in while they waited for Bobby or Ash to fix whatever was wrong with their cars. Most of them were out-of-towners, unfortunate enough to have had old faithful finally give out shortly after crossing the border into South Dakota. While Sioux Falls wasn’t a small town, Singer’s still managed to go largely unknown, despite Ash’s insistence on making them a Facebook page to promote themselves. Bobby wouldn’t hear of it.

Dean kind of likes it like this, though. The diner doesn't have him rolling in cash; in fact, he barely makes enough some months to offset the cost of the food, but it's a nice, simple life, surrounded by the people he loves.

Dean picks up his spatula and removes the bowl from the chicken, turning it over. The old shopkeeper’s bell hanging above the door chimes noisily and Dean squints at the ticket, making a disgusted face.

“Okay, who’s putting mustard and mayonnaise on a chicken sandwich-”

He looks up and sees Sam’s back to him as he leans over the bar, pointing to the right side of the building. He nods, then turns around, raising a brow at Dean. “What?”

Dean leans around to look over his shoulder, nodding at the customer walking over to the booth. “Who’s that?”

“Dunno.” Sam shrugs and looks over his shoulder. “Never seen him before. What were you saying?”

“Someone-” Dean leans up as far as he can without burning himself on the stove, watching the man sit at the small table in the corner. He looks slightly uncomfortable, his shoulders hunched and hair sticking up wildly all over his head, looking nervously around him then back down at his hands. He looks up and makes eye contact with Dean, and fuck his eyes are blue , then he immediately looks down again, clasping his hands together on the table in front of him.

“I was just saying…” Dean fumbles around, messily assembling the chicken sandwich and slathering both condiments on despite how absolutely blasphemous he still deems it to be. “Um. Nevermind.” He slides the plate through the window. “Here.”

Sam grabs the plate and slides it onto the bar, sitting a bottle of ketchup beside it, then grabs his pad and pen from the counter.

“Hey! Sammy, wait!”

Sam turns back and rolls his eyes. “What?”

“I-” he holds up his hands with the spatula, then puts it down. “I’m just-” he peels his gloves off and throws them into the garbage, then points at Sam and out at the bar. “I’m just gonna-”

He quickly emerges from the kitchen and around to the bar, stopping in front of Sam and taking the pad and pen from him. He grins widely, tapping the pen on the paper.

“I got this one, little bro,” he says with a wink, and Sam makes a face. “Why don’t you take five?”

Sam blinks at him then at the very quiet customer and rolls his eyes so far back Dean is almost expecting them to fall back into his skull.

“Dean-”

“Hold that thought,” Dean turns on his heel and marches up to the small table, where the strange man with the amazing eyes sat staring at the old wood of the table. Up close, the guy is even more beautiful. Scruff on his cheeks and a jawline that Dean kind of wants to stare at all day.

“So, it must have hurt,” Dean says with a wide grin, cocking his hip to the side.

The guy blinks and looks up at Dean, tilting his head in this stupidly adorable way that could melt Dean right there. He raises a brow questioningly.

“When you fell from Heaven,” Dean finishes with a wink, ignoring the guffaw from Kevin and the ‘good God’ from Sam.

The guy’s expression remains unreadable for such a long enough time that Dean begins to feel uncomfortable. He shifts on his feet and taps the eraser against the pad. “Because, you know, you’re...an...angel? Whatever, it’s stupid.” He waves a hand and looks down at the pad, then back up at pretty eyes, who finally lets a small smile tug at his lips. There’s an unmistakable blush spreading across his cheeks when he looks down at his hands.

When he looks back up he’s fully grinning, giving his eyes cute crinkles in the corners. He sits up a little taller and starts motioning with his hands, which Dean immediately recognizes as ASL. Sam’s long-term girlfriend Eileen is deaf and had taught them both over the years, though she rarely needed to use it with them.

“Does that line usually work?” the man signs, still grinning shyly.

Dean blinks then smiles and shrugs, teeth grazing his bottom lip. He sets down his pencil and pad, signing a little slowly. “Only on the gorgeous ones.”

Pretty eyes blushes a little more and looks back down at his hands, a strand of that messy hair falling down across his forehead. The smile on his face widens a bit, his eyes crinkling in a way that Dean is quickly growing fond of.

“So, angel,” Dean says, picking up his pad and pencil again. “What can I get you? I’m awesome at burgers, but you can look at the menu if you want. Only thing you’re not allowed to order is the salad.”

Sam makes an offended sound.

“I only added it to keep Princess back there off my back,” Dean smirks, gesturing at Sam.

“Salads are healthy, Dean-”

“Busy, Samantha,” Dean waves him off, still smiling down at the cutie with the big blues.

The guy’s eyes widen a bit and he pats himself down, finally pulling a couple of balled up dollar bills from his jacket. He counts out three dollars and some odd change, then starts patting himself again, looking a little distressed.

“You know what? I’ll just work up my special for you, okay? Don’t worry about that.” He waves a hand dismissively while the guy looks up at him incredulously. “What to drink?”

Blue eyes gives a small huff and slowly holds his hands out to make the motion for coffee, one that Dean knows well. He nods and jots a few things down on the pad, not really ready to actually walk away to begin making the guy’s food.

“Great. I’m Dean. Just holler if ya need me, okay? I’ll be in the kitchen.” Dean tucks the pen behind his ear. “What’s your name, handsome?”

The guy carefully spells it out, clasping his hands together nervously in front of him again when he was done.

“Castiel?” Dean asks slowly, and the guy nodded. “Right. How do you feel about a nickname?”

Castiel raises a brow at him again.

“Gonna call you Cas,” Dean smiles and claps him on the shoulder. “Castiel’s not somethin’ I’m gonna want to yell from behind that grill.”

Cas smiles and blushes again, making another motion Dean knew very well.

“Oh, I’m an asshole?”

Cas grins and nods.

Dean scoffs. “Sammy, you hearin’ this? Are you setting me up right now? He one of your friends or somethin’?”

“No, but he will be,” Sam shoots back, giving Cas a smile and nod from the bar.

Dean laughs. “Alright, fine. But I’m gonna prove you wrong about that.” He turns to head back into the kitchen, tearing the order off the top of the pad and dropping it and the pen back on the bar. He points over at Cas with the ticketed hand. “Don’t go anywhere, gorgeous. I’m not through with you.”

Sam rolls his eyes, munching on his chicken sandwich. “Do you have to hit on everything that moves?”

Dean glances at him, then the sandwich, and narrows his eyes. “ You made me make that monstrosity?”

Sam shrugs and grins.

Dean shakes his head and slips on a new pair of gloves. “I really messed up with you. I dunno how you came out so weird.”

“So I’m the weird one?” Sam scoffs, reaching through the window with his giant arms to poke at Dean’s blue hair.

“You only wish you were as cool as me,” Dean smirks and grabs his spatula.

“Dean,” Ash calls out. “Pie?”

“Apple or cherry,” Dean calls back as he throws a patty on the grill.

“Apple,” Ash says, pushing away his now empty plate. “Cherry for Missouri.”

“Now there’s a good boy,” Missouri says affectionately.

“Put whip cream on-”

“No,” Dean says sharply, waving his spatula at Sam. “Don’t let him ruin my pie with his whip cream shit. It doesn’t need it.”

He scowls as he sees Sam slide the can of Reddi Whip over to Ash, but his attention is immediately drawn back to blue eyes in the corner, who’s staring intently at the camera in front of him as he cycles through pictures, oblivious to anything going on around him.

Dean prepares the bun while the burger cooks, adding all the traditional toppings. He adds fries to the plate and finally the burger last, then removes his gloves and throws the halter of his apron off his neck as he exits the kitchen with the plate.

“Photography, huh? You into that stuff?” Dean slides the plate onto the table in front of blue eyes, who smiles up at him and nods, then sets it off to the side. “What kind of pictures do you take?”

“Nude portraits, mostly,” Cas signs, face deadpan.

Dean feels his face heat up. “ Oh. Well I, that’s...I-I mean-”

“That was a joke.”

Dean lets out a relieved laugh when what Cas signed registered, and Cas looks down again with a smile. He picks up the camera and leans closer to Dean with it, cycling through the last several pictures on the camera of lakes, waterfalls, and sculptures.

“So, nature stuff, mostly?”

“Yes,” Cas signs, “but sometimes other things, too.”

“Other things,” Dean repeats, smirking slowly. “Like nude portraits?”

Cas smiles and rolls his eyes good-naturedly.

“These are pretty good, Cas,” Dean points at a picture of a full moon half shrouded by dark clouds and dead tree limbs. “Better than some of the shit I see in magazines and stuff. What some people call art, man…” He shakes his head. Dean pushes the plate closer towards Cas and taps on the table. “Put that away and eat now. You look too skinny.”

Cas bites his lip and nods slowly, still looking apprehensive about taking free food. He put his camera down gently and takes a bite of his burger, closing his eyes and sighing.

Dean smiles and reluctantly leaves Cas so he can eat in peace, settling on staring at him from the window. Now that he is really looking, Cas seemed a bit haggard. His clothes look old and worn, hanging off his slight frame. The trenchcoat looks as if it’s seen better days and could use a good wash. In fact, the only thing that doesn’t look beat up is the camera.

Dean’s eyes slide to the front windows, easily picking Kevin’s rusted piece of crap car, as well as Missouri’s and Ash’s cars. His ‘67 Impala sat off to the side. There were no mystery cars and the bus didn’t run this far out.

Dean glances back at Cas, chewing on his cheek as he eyes the dusty, scuffed up shoes that should have been retired a year ago.

“Dean.”

He jumps, startled, and looks over at Sam.

“Quit starin’,” Sam snorts. “He’s not a piece of meat.”

“Where you reckon he came from?” Dean asks, looking back over at him. “Doesn’t look like he drove.”

“Uh,” Sam looks back out the door. “No, I don’t think he did.”

“Gettin’ cold out there soon,” Dean remarks. “Think he has somewhere to go?”

“I don’t know, Dean, but that’s really not-”

“Oh, shit. His coffee.” Dean bustles out of the kitchen and behind the bar, turning over a mug and pouring some of the fresh pot into it. He grabs a caddy with cream and sugar and heads back over to Cas’s table. Cas looks up with his mouth full and raises his eyebrows, covering his mouth with a napkin as he swallowed.

“Thank you,” he signed.

“Yeah, you’re welcome.” Dean sits the mug and caddy in front of him. “Hey, Cas, you got somewhere to go tonight?”

Cas wipes his mouth and frowns, but finally nods, signing slowly so Dean can keep up. “I’m staying with my brother until he leaves town. Won’t be far behind him.”

“Oh,” Dean says, feeling oddly disappointed, and nods. “Okay. Yeah, that’s good. Was thinkin’-I thought maybe you didn’t, and was gonna offer my place. Not, like, in that way -although I wouldn’t exactly say no to that-but I just thought-”

Cas huffs and smiles sadly. “Are you always this articulate?” he signs, eyes twinkling with his smile.

“Did you… just quote Hercules to me?”

Cas smiles wider and nods. “It's my nephew's favorite movie.”

“Ah. Well I, um-” Dean clears his throat, still floundering.

“Honey,” Missouri says from behind him, “shut that mouth of yours before you put your foot in it.”

Dean snaps his jaw shut and gives her a withering glare. “Aren’t you done with that pie yet?”

She stares at him, taking a tiny bite slowly, chewing deliberately. He growls and turns back to Cas.

“Ignore her, she thinks she’s everyone’s mother.” Dean taps his fingers on the table and looks over at the bar. It looks like Sam has everything under control, and with no new tickets in the window, he pulls up a chair and takes a seat across from Cas. “So how long you plannin’ on stayin’ in Sioux Falls?”

Cas takes another bite of his burger, chewing and swallowing before he answered, which Dean thought to be overly polite considering he was signing anyway. “Supposed to be another week. I'm photographing Falls Park this week.”

“You travel a lot for your work?” Dean asks, swiping a napkin from the dispenser and starting to fold it.

Cas bites his lip and shrugs with a nod.

“Must be nice,” Dean murmurs, smoothing out a crease. “Getting to see all these interesting places. You work for a magazine or somethin’?”

Cas takes his time with this bite, chewing slowly before swallowing. “Something like that,” he signs, looking down at his plate.

Dean presses his lips together, folding a corner of the napkin. “Well, it looks like they’re lucky to have such a talented photographer. And such a pretty one, too,” Dean winks, a smirk on his lips.

Cas blushes and wipes his hands on a napkin, then made a karate chop-type motion into the palm of his hand, looking down at his food with a smile.

“He can’t stop,” Sam’s voice behind him makes Dean tense and roll his eyes. “Trust me, I’ve been trying to change him for years .”

“Shut up, Sammy. I’m the reason you ever walk out of here with any tips at all.” He lays an arm over his chair and turns, inclining his head to Sam. “Not everyone is interested in your creepy serial killer fetish, dude.”

“It’s a hobby!”

“It’s weird.”

Sam pauses and puts a hand on his hip. “Says the dude with the neck tattoo.”

Dean waves him off and turns back around, returning Cas’s easy smile. He hesitantly reaches for the camera, and although Cas tenses slightly, he lets him take it. Dean sticks his tongue out and takes a picture of himself, grinning as he hands it back to Cas. “Just a little something to remember me by. In case you didn’t immediately fall in love with this face in person.”

Cas takes the camera and tries to hold back a smile, failing miserably. He looks at the picture for a long time, then back up at Dean, giving him a nod.

“Art,” he signs.

“Dunno about that,” Dean laughs, standing and looking back at the bar. “Well...it’s gettin’ to be closing time soon. I’ll be back a little later...if you decide to hang out. You need anything else?”

Cas pauses but presses his lips firmly together, shaking his head.

"Cas," Dean tilts his head knowingly, "you can have whatever you want. Don't be afraid to ask."

“Do you have ice cream?” Cas finally signs bashfully, but Dean gives him an enthusiastic nod.

“Yeah, sure. What kind you want?”

“Vanilla,” Cas signs, then points to his coffee. He signs the same thing again, and Dean raises a brow.

In the coffee?”

Cas smiles and shrugs, nodding his head.

“Well, I’m not the right one to judge weird,” Dean shrugs back. “I’ll be back with your ice cream right after I tell everyone about how I was just touched by an angel.”

Cas rolls his eyes and covers his face to hide his growing blush, and Dean snickers and walks back behind the bar.

“You’re shameless, boy,” Bobby grunts over his paperwork, sipping on a coffee as he goes over the day’s invoices.

“Damn right I am,” Dean says as he pokes his head into the freezer. He fumbles around for a minute before bringing out a tub of vanilla. He used to make his own ice cream, but the ancient machine broke down a year ago and he hasn’t had to funds to replace it yet.

“I see what I want and go after it,” he continues as he digs around for his scoop. “People go their whole lives wishin’ and hopin’ for things, but never doin’ anything about it. Why should I waste opportunities?”

“There’s a difference between not wasting opportunities and being a whore,” Sam grumbles as he sprays down the bar, Missouri helpfully lifting her drink so he can wipe under it.

“You’re right,” Dean says, plopping a few scoops of ice cream into a small bowl. “Whores get paid. I offer my services free of charge, out of the goodness of my heart.”

“Jesus Christ,” Kevin mutters, still typing way at whatever school crap he’s working on.

“What did I say about cussin’,” Missouri snaps.

“That’s not cussing,” Kevin rolls his eyes.

“Isn’t there some rule about not taking the Lord’s name in vain?” Bobby mutters distractedly.

Dean walks out of the kitchen and around the bar, waving his hand around. “Nuh uh, we’re not having a religious discussion again.” He smiles and sets down the bowl of ice cream next to Cas’s coffee. “There ya go, beautiful.”

Cas spoons one of the dollops of ice cream into his mug and stirs it, taking a sip and nodding with a smile. He grabs Dean’s arm and points to the coffee, then hands it to him. Dean grins and takes a sip before handing it back, nodding in sync with him.

“Hey, that’s not bad at all.” Dean tongues the inside of his cheek. “Listen, Cas...I’m closin’ up in the next half hour or so. Would you mind hangin’ out ‘til then?”

Cas opens his mouth and closes it again, his hands rigid in front of him. He frowns and scans the room self-consciously, swallowing hard, then finally gives a hard nod.

“Cool.”

Dean bites his lip when he turns away, trying not to look too desperate as he goes back to the kitchen and quickly cleans and sterilizes behind himself. He peeks out the window every couple of minutes, ignoring Sam’s comments, to stare at the beautiful man in the corner, who was sipping his coffee slowly and staring out the window.

He’d just heated up the grill to clean it when he looks up again, finding Cas’s seat empty and seemingly no one bothered by his disappearance. He strides out of the kitchen, wiping his hands frantically on a hand towel, but Cas is nowhere to be found.

“Sammy, he- hey, where did he go?” Dean asks, tapping on the bar to pull Sam’s attention from Ash’s work.

“Dunno,” Sam shrugs, barely looking up at him. “I guess he left?”

“No,” Dean says, quickly walking to Cas’s table and looking around. He moves the empty plate, only to find Cas’s three dollars and change tucked underneath. “Dammit. Sam, I’ll be right back.”

Sam calls his name, but Dean ignores it as he dashes outside. It’s pitch black with a single pole lighting up the parking area. Missouri’s car is gone, but other than that there’s nothing missing. Except for his pretty angel, who is nowhere to be found. Looking like an idiot, Dean searches up and down the road, his eyes working hard to penetrate the darkness. Cas is gone, though, and Dean is faced with a crushing disappointment.

He looks down, not really understanding why he’s so...sad. He barely knows the guy and Sam is right; he hits on everything that moves. Cas probably saw right through the flirty smiles and, being too nice, left instead of telling Dean he wasn’t interested. Still, Dean worries for Cas. At the very least, Dean could have given him a lift to wherever his brother lived. He doesn’t like the idea of the guy walking the streets at night.

Dean sighs and scrubs a hand through his hair, messing up the spikes as he trudged back to the diner. The bell jingles as he walks in and he swipes up the three crumpled up dollars, stuffing them in his pocket.

“You find him?” Sam asks, not looking up from whatever Ash is showing him.

“No,” Dean says curtly, throwing him a rag. “C’mon, hurry up. I wanna go home. Ash, get lost, we’re closed.”

Sam and Ash share a look, but are smart enough not to argue. Ash packs it up and leaves, tugging Kevin along with him who is too engrossed in his typing to notice the slight tension. Once the door closes, Sam locks it up and starts wiping down the tables while Dean finishes up in the kitchen.

Chapter Text

“Dude, that’s over a hundred acres of park,” Sam says, barely looking up from texting Eileen. “You’ll never find him.”

“Maybe.”

“Since when have you ever put this much effort into a hookup?”

“Since always, first of all,” Dean says, adjusting his rearview mirror and patting his hair into place gently. He’d opted for green coloring today hoping it’d bring out the color of his eyes in case he did see Cas again, which was stupid, but he couldn’t stop himself from thinking it. “And what do you care, anyway?”

Sam is slumped down in his seat, his knees pressed up against the dashboard. “It just seems...excessive, is all. At some point, the chasing tail thing gets creepy, dude.”

“It took you over a year to convince Eileen to go out with you.”

Sam sighs and puts his phone down, giving his brother a look. “Eileen was special. Is special.”

“Okay, so,” Dean tilts his head back and forth, the silver metal of his labret piercing catching in the sunlight. “What if Cas is my Eileen?”

San snorts and turns his head to stare out the window. “C’mon, Dean. Look, you’re nice and you care about people, even your one night stands, but…” he shrugs, “Everyone knows you don’t exactly do the monogamy thing.”

Dean presses his lips together and shifts in his seat. “You sayin’ I can’t have an Eileen?”

“No,” Sam sighs. “I’m saying you don’t know how to have an Eileen.” He looks over at Dean and shrugs. “No one’s judging you, Dean. And it’s not like you make false promises. It’s like you said. You see something you like and you go get it.”

“So I am a whore.”

Sam grins and slaps Dean on the shoulder. “Yeah, but like… a super nice one.”

Dean clicks his tongue and smiles. “Well, at least I’m not getting married at, like, twelve.”

“I’m not twelve,” Sam rolls his eyes. “And we’re not engaged...yet.”

Yet?

“We’ve been together for a while,” Sam says defensively. “It’s only natural I start thinkin’ about stuff like that.”

“There’s nothing natural about you, Sasquatch.”

“Whatever. I’m starting law school this year, and it just feels like it’s time.” Sam turns his attention back to his phone, which looks entirely too small for his giant hands.

“Yeah, speaking of that...when do you have to be back?”

“You’ve gotta take me to the airport bright and early tomorrow. Classes start Monday.”

“So four years away from me at college, now you’re insisting on even more school, then you’ll go off and marry Eileen and live in Washington and I’ll never see you again?” Dean drums his fingers uncomfortably against the steering wheel, and Sam scoffs loudly.

“You’re being a little dramatic.”

“I just don’t understand what’s not to love about good ol’ Sioux Falls,” Dean shrugs, trying to seem nonchalant. “Why can’t Eileen do her marine biology stuff here?”

Sam clicks his tongue. “South Dakota is surrounded by land, Dean.”

“There’s like, lakes and stuff.” Dean looks over when Sam smirks at his phone, his fingers moving a mile a minute. “Hey! Don’t tell her what I said!”

“Too late.”

“You know what, Sammy? Maybe if you were better in the sack she’d want to come to you instead of making you go to her.” Dean looks straight forward and pouts, reaching out to turn up his music.

Sam ignores his brother’s antics all the way to the diner, the loud music only shutting off when they parked.

“You hafta blast that so loud in the morning?” Bobby grumps from the bar where he’s already seated when the two walk in, a cup of coffee by his arm.

“Sam was being a bitch,” Dean says as he walks around the bar and into the kitchen.

“Jerk,” Sam grumbles as he opens up the register to start counting down the money for the day.

“I see you two are startin’ early,” Bobby sighs and stands, grabbing his coffee. “I’ll be in the shop. Dean, I wanna club on wheat for lunch.”

“Okay- hey, what?” Dean pokes his head out of the window. “A club on wheat ? What the hell, Bobby?”

“Look, boy,” Bobby rounds on him, his beard hiding most of his blush. “I’m old and my cholesterol ain’t so good. So yeah, I wanna a club on wheat.” With that, he pushes through the doors that lead into the shop.

Dean blinks then turns to glare at Sam, his apron hanging off him untied. “You get him on that crap?”

“No,” Sam says defensively. “I just told him if he didn’t want his doctor yellin’ at him again, he should eat something besides your greasy burgers.”

“My burgers are delicious, you little shit,” Dean growls, roughly tying his apron and slapping on some gloves.

“‘Bout as good as your attitude right now,” Sam mumbles under his breath.

Dean glares at Sam’s back and heats up the grill, then takes note of how much bacon and eggs they have for the breakfast rush. It’s their busiest time and the little diner always fills up fast with customers clamoring for Dean’s waffles and pancakes, and even Sam couldn’t resist the fluffy eggs.

He’s on the phone with his supplier as the tickets start flowing in, balancing the phone between his shoulder and ear as he lines the tickets across the top of the grill and flips a few pancakes.

“Yes, four of those large cartons,” he says irritably, piling the cakes onto a plate and cracking eggs onto the grill, messily scrambling them and throwing in some salt and pepper. “Yeah, well, I realize we’re a small place, Martin, but I can promise you all those eggs will be sold before they go bad.” He adds the eggs to the plate and puts it in the window, throwing an orange slice on top and slapping the counter. He snaps once and points to the plate when Sam turns. “Nah, everything else the same, I’m just telling you, we ran out of eggs two days ago and I had to go to the Hy-Vee and buy like, ten cartons myself.”

He gets to work on the next ticket, throwing a few slices of bacon down. “Yeah, no, I understand there will be an additional charge for the additional eggs. Do you think you can get them here today?” A pause. “So, normal truck day, then. Thanks for being so accommodating.” He rolls his eyes and hangs up the phone, tossing it onto the island behind him.

“He’s not coming today, is he?” Sam’s voice is off to the side as he puts up another ticket.

“No.”

“We gonna run out?”

Dean pauses and looks out at the crowd, chewing his lip. “We’ll make it. Barely.”

Sam hums and turns to fill a few coffee mugs.

“Tell Kevin he only gets two eggs today,” Dean yells out as he sets out another plate. He hears Sam groan as he turns back to the stove and grins.

“Dean, you know he’s gonna-”

“Don’t care,” Dean throws down a few sausage patties. “No one gets extra today, genius college kid or not.”

“Hey, brotha.”

Dean turns and smiles at the big man slipping into the kitchen, arms loaded with- yes, bags of eggs.

“Benny, man, you’re my hero,” Dean bats his eyelashes and blows him a kiss.

Benny laughs and unloads the cartons into the fridge. “No, I just pay attention to our stock levels, unlike you.”

Dean pouts and pours his waffle mix into the waffle maker before slapping down the lid. “Orrrr you’re just tryna look good for your sexy boss.”

Benny rolls his eyes and grabs an apron, tying it quickly. “How many times I gotta tell you no?”

Dean shrugs. “I dunno. Lost count. You’re just playing really hard to get.”

“You got a little too much peach fuzz goin’ on for my taste, boss.”

“For all you know, it’s smooth as a baby’s bottom down below, Ben,” Dean winks as Benny groans and picks up a knife to start prepping their fruits and vegetables.

“Add that to the top ten things I never wanted to know about my older brother,” Sam says as his head pops into view of the window, reading the tickets for the sitting food. “Hey, Dean, no onions today in Sarah’s omelette.”

“Dammit, Sam, I just- put that shit on the ticket, man!” Dean scrapes the omelette to the side and starts fresh. “She pregnant again or somethin’?”

Sam glares at him. “Say it a little louder?”

“This’ll be three in the last four years-”

“Not our problem,” Sam says, and he disappears again with several plates of food. Dean turns to look over his shoulder at Benny.

“None for you and Andrea yet?”

“You really wanna know, or you tryna butter me up so you can ask me to cover for you?” Benny raises a brow.

“I’m offended,” Dean says dramatically, cracking a few more eggs. “But actually, uh...would you mind covering for me after the lunch rush? Just a couple hours or so.”

“Sure, brotha.”

“Aww, Benny, I could kiss ya.”

“Please, don’t.”

-----

Sam sags into a stool, groaning pitifully as the last lunch group leaves and the bell tinkles above the door.

“Big baby.”

Sam lifts his head to glare at Dean. “Dude, that was nuts .”

Dean shrugs as he picks up a few plates from the tables. “It’s Saturday, Sam. Everyone gets out and about, and they come here to show their out of town friends the hot cook with his awesome hair, great ass-”

“Okay stop,” Sam sighs and reluctantly gets to his feet. “Thank God it’s my last day here.”

Dean frowns and walks around the bar, dumping the dishes into the sink. “Get back here and clean these,” he says gruffly and takes off his apron.

Sam narrows his eyes. “Wait, where are you going?”

“Got an errand to run.” Dean walks out of the kitchen with the car keys dangling on his finger.

“You’re actually gonna go look for him?” Sam asks incredulously. Benny pokes his head out curiously.

“Look for who?” he asks.

“Some dude from last night,” Sam sighs. “You shoulda seen him, Benny. The poor guy is just trying to eat and Dean’s throwin’ out all the cheesy lines-”

“Ain’t nothin’ new,” Benny shrugs and leans back into the kitchen.

“Just be a few hours,” Dean says. “Hold the fort.”

“Can I leave early?” Sam calls out.

“No.” Dean slams the door shut and Sam pouts behind the counter.

-----

Falls Park is a good half hour drive away, but Dean makes it there in half the time, thankful for light traffic and the absence of police officers. He parks his beloved ‘67 Impala in the parking lot and starts walking, feeling sorely out of place. Young children stare. Not that he’s not used to that anyway, and in fact, children are typically fascinated by his colorful hair, tattoos and piercings. What’s interesting is watching how the parents react, either clutching their children a little tighter to them or encouraging them to interact.

Today most people seem to be keeping their distance, although that could have something to do with his somewhat distressed state. In the past almost fifteen years since he’d moved to Sioux Falls, he doesn’t think he’s ever actually walked more than maybe an acre of the park, and he has no idea where to begin looking now.

He sees a sign for the observation tower and deems that his best bet. He’d only be able to see but so far, and he hoped Cas hadn’t ventured further yet.

After a few long minutes of looking through the binoculars, Dean is starting to feel like the creep Sam accused him of. And, really, what are the odds of finding the guy? Cas had left by his own choice and that should have been a clear message to Dean that he wasn’t interested in Dean’s advances.

Yet, there he is, still looking for his pretty eyes in a small sea of people across over one hundred acres of land. Dean isn’t even sure what it is that’s driving him so much. True, he doesn’t hear ‘no’ often (except from Benny), but he isn’t so sensitive that he takes it personally when he does. Generally speaking, he just moves onto the next good-looking man or woman that walks in. Cas had seemed so...lost, though. Shy, sure, but it was more than that. There’d been a sadness in those blue eyes, a loneliness Dean wants to chase away, and yeah, he’s also worried that the guy is actually homeless with nothing and no one.

A tap on his shoulder startles Dean and he snaps back, cursing and earning a few glares from nearby parents. “Dude, say something next-” Dean turns to give whoever scared him a few choice words then freezes when he lays eyes on the very person he came here looking for.

“Come here often?” Cas signs with a smile, and Dean huffs a laugh, responding in ASL as he speaks.

“Only never.”

Cas is wearing a dark green canvas jacket and holding his camera between his hands even while the strap is wrapped around his neck. The Converse on his feet are dirty and worn, and he’s wearing a striped shirt that’s at least two sizes too big. He’s every bit as beautiful as Dean recalls, and then some. Cas let the camera hang around his neck as he signs to Dean again.

“You come to see the sights?”

“No, I…” Dean takes a look around him and vaguely realizes it’s the first time he’s ever really paid any attention to the park, even while living the majority of his life in the very city. “Actually I was wondering where you went, last night. You just...took off.”

Cas mouths an oh, and looks down at his feet.

“You also left this,” Dean says, fishing out the three dollars and change. “Told you it was on the house.”

He presses it into Cas’s hand, despite the guy’s protest. Cas hesitates then pockets the money, still looking down at his feet, fingers fidgeting with his camera.

“So…” Dean slips his hands into his pockets, glancing around. “You gonna tell me why you left?”

Cas shrugs, looking everywhere but at Dean. Dean sighs and tilts his head back, looking up at the trees and their changing colors. “Look, I get it. I’m not exactly everyone’s type. If I made you uncomfortable, I’m sorry. I, uh, just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Cas presses his lips together and finally looks up. “I was nervous,” he signed.

“Nervous,” Dean repeats, blinking at him. “Why?”

Cas shrugs and looks away again, squinting at the expanse of land branching out from the observation tower.

“Hey.” Dean touches his arm, signing as he speaks this time. “Why?”

“You’re cute,” Cas signs, blushing hard. He pauses, tapping his fingers against his camera before continuing. “I’m plain. Boring. You’re art.”

“You’re- what?” Dean shakes his head and holds up his hands to sign. His ASL is shaky at best, since Eileen was freakishly good at reading lips and speaking despite being deaf so he hardly had to use the language. But he could tell it puts Cas at ease, at least a little.

“Not plain,” he signs. “Not boring. You’re beautiful. Interesting.” Dean gestures at himself, his bright hair and tattoos, and shrugs with a smile. “Not art. Just loud.”

Cas huffs and steps forward, gently situating Dean against the edge of the observation tower, adjusting his stance, touching his face, until he finally was happy with the pose. Dean raises a brow but otherwise doesn't move, and Cas steps back, crouching and angling his camera upward, then snaps the photo. He stands and turns the camera to show Dean, the sun hitting his face at an angle that made him look angelic, highlighting the color in his hair and the sharp curve of his jaw.

“Art,” Cas signs again, then points down at the photo. “Beautiful.”

Dean stares down at the photo for a moment then glances up at Cas. Without a word, he fishes out his phone and holds it up. Cas’s eyes widen but he can’t help but smile when Dean flashes him a flirty wink. Dean snaps the photo quickly before Cas can stop him then holds it up to Cas. It’s by no means as professional looking as Cas’s, but it shows off those pretty eyes and shy grin, all that wild hair sticking up.

“Gorgeous,” Dean says softly. “I don’t call just anyone an angel, pretty eyes. I may be a flirt, but I mean every word.” He smiles and slips his phone back in his pocket so he can sign. “I didn’t mean to make you nervous.”

Cas shifts uncomfortably and tugs at his shirt, looking out over the falls. He squints against the sun and swallows hard, turning back to Dean.

“You came out here just to ask why I left?” he signs, a brow raised.

“Well, I…” Dean's throat is suddenly dry, and he coughs once. “Yeah. You left in such a hurry, and I was worried…”

Cas's expression falls slightly and he looks down at his feet again, clasping his hands together.

“Actually,” Dean says loudly, feeling a little braver, “I was wondering what you were doing later.”

Cas looks up at him innocently, running a hand through his unkempt hair. He tilts his head.

“You know,” Dean continues. “Because I thought we could...I dunno, hang out. You can show me more of your pictures if you want. I can show you my tattoos.” He pauses and smiles. “The ones above the waist anyway.”

Cas blushes and licks his lips, clutching his camera nervously. Dean is willing to bet the thing is all Cas owns, or at least the only thing that means anything to him.

“Hey,” Dean’s voice makes him look up. Dean smiles at him and shrugs. “You can say no if you really want to. I’m a big boy. I can take it.”

Cas shakes his head. “I'd like that.”

It takes a minute for the signing to register, and Dean raises his eyes and blinks at him. “You… really?”

Cas grins, corners of his eyes crinkling, and nods.

Dean smirks teasingly and leans forward. “You’re not gonna run away again?”

Cas huffs and shakes his head, his fingers feeling along the many buttons on his camera.

Dean’s smirk turns into a grin and he watches the blush on Cas’s cheek deepen. Geez, the guy is adorable and he didn’t even know it. “Okay, awesome,” he says. “So...you’ll come by the diner later? I’ll feed you again. Whatever you want.”

Cas chews his lip and pulls the same crumpled three dollars from his pocket, taking Dean's hand and pressing them into it.

“Oh, no, Cas, hey, I said last night's meal was on me.”

Cas shakes his head and points to the money. “Tip,” he signs with a smile, then points to Dean. “For outstanding service.”

“Aw, c'mon Cas, I can't take this. It was my pleasure-"

“Please,” Cas signs, and Dean presses his lips together and reluctantly nods.

“Fine. But only cause you're cute, okay? And only if you let me treat you tonight without complaints.”

Cas shrugs and smiles, finally nodding.

Dean carefully folds the money up and puts it in his pocket. “Good,” he says. He looks around at the park and its many occupants, some giving them strange looks. They must make a pair, Dean thinks. Him with his crazy hair and a shirt says ‘Orgasm Donor’, and Cas with his unkempt hair and rumpled clothes.

“You gotta way back to...wherever you’re sleeping?” Dean asks, raising a brow.

Cas just shrugs and looks down at his camera. Dean sighs, but doesn’t press. One thing at a time.

“Alright, angel,” Dean says with a smile. “I’ll see you at the diner later, okay?”

Pretty eyes nods, blushing again. Dean grins and gives him a wink before he turns to leave, fighting every urge to look back.

-------

“Dude, do not forget that you have to have me at the airport by 6 a.m.” Sam leans into the window. “Seriously. By 6 a.m. I mean 6 a.m., not ‘whenever Dean decides to roll out of the flavor of the week's bed and pick me up’.”

“Yes, you've made yourself perfectly clear, Samantha.” Dean chops onions and peppers on the stove, adding it to his philly meat.

Sam ignores the jab and frowns. “You worried he's not gonna show up?”

Dean pauses and gives him an incredulous look, because he had absolutely not considered that very real possibility at all. “Well now I am.”

“Whatever. You'll be telling me all about Lisa again next week. Don't act so stressed about this one.”

Dean mumbles but grabs a bun from their bag and slathers it with a little mayonnaise and cheese sauce, then adds the meat and vegetables. He plates it with a generous helping of fries and passes it to Sam.

“I dunno why you’re so hung up on him anyway,” Sam continues, passing the plate over to the customer before turning back to Dean. “Just that morning you were all over that girl with the butterfly tattoo on her chest. And that same afternoon you hit on the UPS guy.”

“Cas is different,” Dean mutters.

“Yeah, right,” Sam snorts and places another ticket on the queue. “He just didn’t hop into bed with you the first night. You’re chasing him, that’s all.”

“Jesus, Sam, I’m not fucking shallow.”

Sam shrugs. “No, you’re not. But you think with your dick. You said Lisa was different and you only dated her for a month.”

“I didn’t cheat on her.”

Sam sighs and leans into the window. “No, you just got bored and moved on. You’ll get bored with this Cas, too.”

“Why are you so damn concerned about my sex life all the sudden?” Dean demands, casting him an annoyed glance.

“I’m not,” Sam says lowly. “Look, I saw him, too. Dude is obviously down on his luck and it didn’t really seem he had a lot of friends to rely on. He’s probably been hurt a lot-“

“You a psychologist now?”

“-and I don’t think he needs the town flirt messing with him.”

“I gave him a free meal.”

Sam smiles, his eyes softening. “Yeah, Dean, I know. That’s the kind of guy you are. I’m not saying you’d hurt him on purpose.”

“Whatever. I'm helping him out, and he just happens to be incredibly gorgeous and totally my type.” Dean shrugs and squints down at the new ticket, throwing a burger and a couple slices of bacon in the grill.

Sam tilts his head. “You don't have a type.”

Dean holds his hands out to his sides, grease dripping off his spatula. “What do you want from me?! I thought you wanted me to settle down?”

“Dean-"

“You still workin’ to marry him off?” Bobby asks, plopping down at the bar and taking the mug of coffee that Sam immediately pours for him. His greasy hands would stain the mug, which Dean would bitch about later when he was scrubbing it instead of talking to a handsome dark-haired, blue-eyed guy.

“If only,” Sam mumbles, sliding the caddy of creamer over to the old man.

“Okay,” Dean says, pointing his spatula at both of them. “I’m officially a forbidden topic for the rest of the night. Talk about something else.”

Sam rolls his eyes and Bobby chuckles into his mug.

“You realize you’re the most interesting thing in this town?” Ash speaks up, hunched over his laptop.

“Well now, that- that’s just sad,” Dean mutters.

“But true.”

Dean grumbles and glances at the door, but it’s still annoyingly empty of pretty-eyed men.

“You’re actin’ like a lovesick puppy,” Bobby snorts.

“What did I say?” Dean growls. “ Forbidden topic.”

“What else should we talk about?”

“Sam is leaving me forever for college and can’t wait,” Dean says with false cheerfulness. “Talk about that.”

“It’s law school,” Sam corrects, earning an eye roll from his brother. “And it’s only three more years. You did without me for four. Three more won’t kill you.” He sighs and turns back to Bobby. “I just decided to stay at Stanford for law school too, instead of going to USD law like he wanted me to.”

“It’s not prestigious enough,” Dean mocks through the window, and Bobby chuckles.

“Yeah, that, or Stanford’s just not close enough for you,” Bobby mutters.

Dean mumbles to himself but doesn’t contribute as Sam and Bobby continue to talk, considering- as much as he hates to admit it- that Sam is right. He and Sam had grown up really close since their mother died when they were young and their father was never really around. He sent them off to live with Bobby when Dean was around ten years old, Bobby being a close family friend at the time. Dean could probably count on one hand how many times he’d seen John Winchester since then, and the visits stopped altogether when he came out his senior year of high school. Well...less “came out” as much as he just casually walked out from behind the bleachers with one of the captains of the football team.

So now here they are, Bobby still owning and running Singer’s salvage ten hours a day, Dean operating the diner out the back, and Sam helping out when he’s in town for breaks. Sam had met Eileen, who is two years his senior, during his first year at Stanford. She made the decision to attend graduate school in Washington for her Master’s in marine biology, but she and Sam visit each other every couple of weeks. They’re still going strong, if Sam’s talk of marriage is any indication, and while Dean is happy for him, but the thought of his brother moving away for good doesn’t sit well with him.

Bobby is getting up in the years, too. All too soon he would either have to sell Singer’s Salvage or shut it down, which leaves Dean with no diner to run. Sam thinks he should move when the time comes, but Dean likes it in Sioux Falls. He doesn’t have any reason to leave.

The bell jingles and Dean is so distracted with his thoughts he almost misses the wild mess of dark hair that walks in. His eyes snap up and he grins widely when he sees Cas standing awkwardly, that lost look on his face, a blush on cheeks rising when everyone turns to look.

“He’s not a stripper gram,” Dean snaps, slapping his spatula on the stove and making them jump. “Quit starin’ at him.”

Bobby mumbles under his breath and Sam just rolls his eyes. Cas quickly finds the small table in the corner and hunches down, trying to look as small as possible.

“Sammy!” Dean slaps the spatula on the stove again and points to it before he starts taking off his apron, and Sam rolls his eyes and disappears from the window.

“You hate it when I cook-”

“Yeah, well, hopefully no one comes in between now and the time I actually get his order,” Dean mumbles as he passes him the apron. “No way I’m letting you make Cas’s food, anyway.”

Dean gives him a smile as he pushes open the kitchen door, glancing at his reflection in the napkin holder and fixing a stray hair before approaching the table. Cas looks up and smiles warmly, signing a ‘hello’.

“Are you from Tennessee?” Dean asks smugly, sitting down across from him. Cas looks like he wants to speak and furrows his brow, then tilts his head.

“Cause you’re the only ten I see.”

Cas stares at him for a long moment and finally rolls his eyes and covers his face with his hands as the blush begins to creep up again.

“Any chance you’ll run out of these pickup lines anytime soon?” he signs with a smile, and Dean shrugs.

“Dunno. It’s worth embarrassing myself just to see that smile.”

Cas tries not to smile again but fails, and Dean laughs out loud. Bobby finishes off his coffee and sets the cup down on the counter, the springs in the stool squeaking as he gets up to leave. He tips his hat to them on his way back up to the shop and Dean gives him a half wave from where his arms are resting on the table between him and Cas.

“Take any good pictures?” Dean signs.

“Depends on your definition of good,” Cas signs back with a modest shrug. He passes his camera to Dean, who takes it gently and starts cycling through the pictures. Most of them are of the trees, the waterfall, a few off-beaten paths, and some park goers. Dean pauses at the one of him, then blinks when he finds another one. It’s of him looking through the binoculars, apparently before Cas got his attention.

“Spying on me?” Dean says with a wink, handing it back to Cas.

“I believe you were spying on me first,” Cas signs with a smirk, then pauses a beat before: “but you were the most aesthetically pleasing thing there, anyway.”

“Aw, you're gonna make me blush, Cas.”

Cas smiles and opens his mouth in what Dean is sure would be the prettiest sounding laugh he'd ever heard, if any sound came out. As it was, it was almost like he could hear it anyway; a gleeful, boyish chuckle.

Dean bites his lip through a smile, letting it slide back through his teeth. “Listen, uh, Cas. I was just thinkin’...I mean, I dunno...wondering, I guess...if you’d like to go out with me tonight. I could close up a little early, maybe we could catch a movie or somethin’...”

Cas’s smile fades and he casts his eyes downward, pressing his lips together. He looks back up and around the empty diner, taking a breath and looking back to Dean with an unreadable expression.

“I don’t know,” he signs finally with a regretful look.

Dean tilts his head and opens his mouth to speak, but he doesn’t know what to say. He’s been turned down before, sure, but Cas’s words bore with them the stark realization that none of the others who refused him before even compared to Cas- at least for him.

“You don’t-” Dean pauses and blinks hard, furrowing his brow. “Right. Uh...okay. Yeah. Sure. I’ll just-” He moves to get up from his seat, but Cas grabs his wrist, his blue eyes wide as he quickly shakes his head, and Dean slowly sits back down.

“It’s not that I don’t want to,” Cas signs.

“Then if you want to, why don’t you?” Dean asks, genuinely curious. Cas lets go of his wrist, looking down at his hands as he clasps them together. Dean dips his head to catch his eyes, pulling his attention back up to him. Cas looks unsettled, maybe a little sad, and Dean reaches out slowly to take his hand innocently in his own. “Cas?”

Cas’s hand twitches nervously in his own, so Dean squeezes gently. He frowns, then finally pulls his hand away to sign.

“I’ll leave soon.”

Dean shrugs. “So? I’ll call you.”

Cas huffs. “I don’t have a phone.”

“Your brother’s phone, then.”

“Dean,” Cas signs exasperatedly, “I’m not going with my brother. I travel alone. I don’t know where I’ll be next. I don’t know how I’ll get there.” He pauses and closes his eyes for a moment, sighing. “Nothing is planned.”

“Oh,” Dean says, his hands falling to rest on the table. He looks down at them and traces a pattern in the worn surface, then looks up to see Cas gazing at him sadly.

“Well, then we will just have to make the most of it,” Dean smiles, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “You said you’re here for a week right?”

Cas nods slowly, hands fidgeting.

“Then I’m gonna make the best week of your life, beautiful.” Dean smiles when Cas blushes again and ducks his head, trying to avoid Dean’s flirtatious gaze. “We can do whatever you want,” Dean says. “Not much to do here to be honest, besides me.” He winks and laughs when Cas hides his face to cover all the red.

“You need to work on your subtlety,” Cas finally signs when he's composed himself enough to look up.

“I could spell it out for you, if you'd like,” Dean teases, raising his hands to sign.

Cas opens his mouth in a silent laugh again as he reaches forward to push down Dean's hands, shaking his head.

“Fine,” Dean concedes, holding his hands out in surrender. “No expectations. Just a chance to see that smile again. Deal?”

Cas presses his lips together in a shy smile, then nods.

Dean’s grin is a thousand watts and he slaps his hand on the table, causing Cas to jump slightly. “Awesome. Now,” he points to Cas, “I bet you’re hungry, yeah? I’ll make ya something.” Cas bites his lip and starts to shake his head, but Dean just waves him off and stands. “It’s not a big deal. Just some stew I made earlier. I’ll heat it up on the stove.”

He hears Cas sigh in defeat and smiles as he practically skips off to the kitchen, earning a look from Ash and Missouri, both having been listening to the exchange. Dean heats up a big bowl of stew, throws in some crackers and cornbread, then brings it all to Cas.

“Eat,” Dean says, handing him a spoon. “Every last drop. And don’t you dare try to leave any money this time.”

Cas eyes the bowl eagerly then looks up at Dean, swallowing before looking back down at the bowl. He starts eating, quickly at first, like he hadn’t eaten all day (which he probably hadn’t), then slowed a bit when he realized Dean had taken a seat again and is watching him. He swallows and takes a sip of his water, lowering his spoon.

“It’s very good,” Cas signs, picking up his spoon again and taking a few more bites.

“Good…” Dean murmurs, watching Cas take a few more careful bites before snorting softly and rapping his knuckles on the table. “C’mon, angel, I know you’re hungry. Eat like you mean it.” He smiles and stands. “I’ll stop creepin’ on ya. Should start cleaning anyway.”

He pats Cas on the shoulder and walks back into the kitchen, glancing over his shoulder to see him practically slurping the bowl down. Dean shakes his head and spends some time wiping down his counters while Sam worked on the dishes. They clean mostly in silence, working around each other easily. Dean only pauses to bring Cas more stew, waving off the weak protest he receives, before getting back to cleaning.

“Hey, Sammy,” Dean says after finishing up the stove. “Go ahead and take off. Get some sleep before the flight.”

“Really?” Sam raises a brow, already going for his apron ties.

“Yeah, get outta here,” Dean waves him away. “I’m gonna stick around anyway.”

Sam smirks knowingly, but doesn’t argue. He gives his brother a pat on the back and Cas a friendly wave before heading out the door.

Dean pokes his head out and smiles at the sight of an empty bowl and plate, nothing but cornbread crumbs left. He takes a seat in front of Cas and pushes the dishes aside, smiling as he leans back in the chair.

“You’re a good cook,” Cas signs, giving him a shy smile.

“You’re a good customer,” Dean responds, shrugging. “I like the ones who don’t complain.”

“Customers pay,” Cas signs, eyebrow raised.

“Not the pretty ones.”

“Hey!” Dean turns to see Ash turned around on his barstool with his arms out by his sides. “I resent that!” Missouri’s turned around too, with her lips pursed around her straw and an unamused expression.

Dean scoffs nervously and gives them a half-hearted shrug, then gestures to Cas. “Gimme a break, guys?”

Cas is covering his face again when Dean turns back around, and he’s unsure at first if he’s embarrassed or laughing. Dean lets out a relieved laugh when he finally drops his hands, trying not to smile and failing.

“They’ve all gotten free food from me before,” Dean says defensively, “I just can’t afford to keep giving them free food when they’re the ones keeping me afloat.”

“Now you know that ain’t true,” Missouri says as she sips at her tea and munches on the last bit of her fries. “You’re plenty busy around here.”

Dean shrugs. That is true for the most part. Trouble is, it’s more expensive running a diner than he originally thought. He makes plenty of money in the summer, but once fall came and all the college kids leave for school, business lags. He has his regulars, but since Singer’s Salvage is a bit out of the way, a lot of people don’t even know he’s there. Dean doesn’t have the money to advertise, so he has to rely on word of mouth.

“Never hurts to have a few new faces,” Dean says neutrally, then wads up a napkin and chunks it at Ash. “Either order something or go, Ash. Wifi is for paying customers.”

Ash grumbles and grabs himself a piece of pie. Dean rolls his eyes and turns back to Cas with a smile. “Want some pie, Cas? I make the best and Ash was nice enough to leave the last piece.”

Cas pauses and Dean raps his knuckles on the table, pushing himself to his feet quickly. “I’m gonna get you a piece. You’re gonna love it.”

He walks to the bar and grabs the money Ash left on the counter, putting it in the register before plating Cas a piece of pie.

“Where’s my change?” Ash asks through a mouthful of pie.

“The rest is asshole tax,” Dean shoots back, pointing at him as he walked back over to the table. “Keep it up, man.”

Ash huffs and turns his back on him, nudging Missouri as she chuckles and slides off her stool, digging through her purse. She puts her money on the bar and squeezes Ash on his arm, then waves over at Dean and Cas’s table.

“Bye, ya’ll. See you Monday, Dean. Give Sammy a kiss from me.” Missouri opens the door, the shopkeeper’s bell chiming above her.

“I’ll settle for giving him a big ol’ hug,” Dean says back, giving her a wave as she lets the door swing shut behind her.

Cas smiles and waves too, then takes a bite of pie, closing his eyes and sighing. He chews slowly, placing a hand over his heart.

Dean chuckles. “Good?”

Cas opens his eyes and smiles, nodding vigorously.

Dean rests his chin on a hand and watches Cas (in a totally uncreepy way) savor every bite of the cherry pie. Dean has to admit that this is why he even tried opening up a diner. He just loves feeding people. Sam says he’s a mama hen; always taking care of people before himself. Dean isn’t sure about that, but he supposes there might be some truth to it. He spent most of his life taking care of Sam, anyway.

When Cas is practically licking the plate clean, Dean checks the time and whistles at Ash.

“Yo, mullet head,” Dean jerks his head towards the door. “Closin’ time. Head on home.”

Ash sighs and packs up his laptop. He waves vaguely at them both as he leaves and Dean locks the door behind him.

“I always gotta chase him out of here,” Dean chuckles and flips the sign to ‘close’. He walks back over to Cas and smiles. “Done, angel?”

Cas blushes and nods. Dean takes the plates and bowls back into the kitchen, glancing up through the window when he sees Cas settle into a stool at the bar. He turns slowly in the chair, back and forth, and Dean smiles as he puts the dishes in the sink and runs the hot water. Cas looks more relaxed than he’s looked since he’d met him, sitting on the stool in the middle of the bar, right in front of the door. The difference, of course, was lack of audience, but it’s refreshing for Dean to know that he makes him feel comfortable.

He washes the dishes quickly and finishes up last minute cleaning, then cuts the kitchen light and heads up to the front. He straightens the caddies and refills the ketchups, Cas watching him with interest the whole time. After the front is sufficiently clean and he’s taken the coffee pots to the kitchen to soak, he takes Cas’s hand, cuts the rest of the lights, and leads him outside.

He lets go of his hand to lock the door behind him, spins the keys on his finger, and points to the Impala. “She’s mine. Pretty sweet, huh?”

Cas smiles and reaches out to touch the hood, but he pulls his hand back and nods instead.

“It’s okay, you can touch her,” Dean smiles when Cas reaches his hand out again. “Just...gently. She’s a lady, after all.”

Cas nods solemnly and very gently runs his hand up her hood, scarcely even a caress, then looks up at Dean and smiles. “She’s beautiful,” he signs.

Dean shrugs and pats the hood. “Fixed her up myself. She was my dad’s, but after my mom died, he started driving it less and less until eventually he just left her at Bobby’s. Once I was old enough and actually knew what I was doing, I cleaned her up and got her running again.”

He opens the passenger door and gestures inside. “Wanna ride?” Dean says slowly, winking at Cas.

Cas blushes and puts his head down, pointedly looking away as he gets in the car. Dean closes the door behind him and goes around to the driver’s side, sitting down and starting her up. He reaches behind the passenger seat and pulls out a box of cassettes, handing it to Cas.

“Why don’t you find us something to listen to?”

Cas presses his lips together and looks down into the box, flipping cassettes over to read them and gently setting some off to the side. He finally picks one as Dean is halfway down the long dirt road to Singer’s Salvage, and Dean holds it up as they pass under a street lamp.

“Zeppelin, huh?” Dean flips the cassette and pushes it into the player, watching as Cas’s face lights up when Robert Plant’s voice fills the car. “Cas. Really, man. Where have you been all my life?”

Cas grins and holds his hand out palm down, moving it in a circle.

“Everywhere.” Dean clicks his tongue and nods, looking ahead. “You’re an enigma, Cas, you know that?”

Cas shrugs with a wicked grin and Dean shakes his head, tonguing his cheek. He tries to think of a time where he was this genuinely interested in another person he took out, but he draws a blank. Not that they weren’t interesting at all, or that he didn’t care… he just felt he had a hard time finding people that were interested in him for more than anything physical. Unfortunately, the ones who had were ones he just couldn’t picture himself being happy with. He likes his life, and he’s only willing to change it for someone who makes it feel worth the trade.

But Cas...he seems to be different. Cas almost refused the date because of time ...one thing that would never be an issue for someone only interested in a hookup. Dean regretfully considers the idea that perhaps Cas doesn’t get asked out often. It’s insane, because he’s gorgeous, witty, and funny...but people can be shallow. Dean wonders how often being nonverbal has prevented Cas from getting dates; or equally as sad: how often Cas has avoided asking someone because of it.

The thought has Dean irrationally angry. He’s not naive. He knows Cas must have gone through some tough moments because he’s mute. He knows first hand that people can be cruel and he hates to think of anyone slinging hurtful words at Cas.

Dean glances at Cas, fingers drumming on the wheel, and sees him bobbing his head slightly to the music. He strokes his fingers along the camera in an almost loving way and Dean actually feels a little jealous.

But no, he can’t think like that. He’d told Cas no expectations and he meant it. The last thing Dean wants to do is make Cas uncomfortable.

“Hope you don’t mind hanging out at my place,” Dean says, looking back at the road. “It’s nothin’ much, but...I’ve got good movies and beer.” He smiles and taps a finger on the wheel. “We can sit at opposite ends of the couch if you want. I promise to only a flirt a little bit.”

Dean glances over at him but Cas doesn’t sign anything, just reaches his hand across the middle seat, palm up. Dean glances back at the road then back to Cas, finally taking his hand and threading their fingers together. Cas gives his hand a squeeze and smiles, and Dean smiles back before returning his attention to the road.

The little house Dean rents belongs to a good friend of Bobby’s, who had become a sort of uncle to the Winchesters growing up. Rufus and Bobby fight like an old married couple, both of them so stubborn that they’d sometimes go weeks without talking to each other over something as simple as who drank the last of the beer. Despite that, when Dean turned eighteen and wanted a place of his own, Rufus had readily offered up his one bedroom bungalow for a measeley $250 a month, as long as Dean paid utilities and completed the yard work. He knocked off an extra $50 a month when Dean started fixing the place up little by little.

The only thing he didn’t like is that it didn’t have a garage to park Baby under. First project on Dean’s list was to put up a carport, that way at least most of the weather stayed off his car. It hadn’t been that hard either with Sam’s freakish height and long arms.

Dean pulls the Impala under the carport and kills the engine. “Home sweet home,” he says, smiling at Cas. He gets out and quickly runs around the front to open Cas’s door. Cas smiles that blushy smile and follows Dean to the front door where he’s ushered inside.

It’s small, but not cramped like one might think. It’s an open floor plan, the door opening up the kitchen on the left and a small living room on the right. From the living room is a single door which leads to the bedroom. There’s even a small space for a breakfast table that sat two comfortably, and four if he really had to.

Dean walks ahead of Cas, who is busy looking around, and starts flicking on lights. The place is relatively clean for a bachelor pad, and smells faintly of apple pie. Dean walks into the kitchen and grabs two beers from the fridge, bumping it closed with this hip.

“Make yourself comfortable, pretty eyes,” he smiles, handing a beer to Cas.

Cas twists the cap off his beer and takes a sip, looking around at the pictures on the walls. He brushes his fingers over the neck of a guitar sitting in its stand on the floor, then looks over at Dean.

“You play?” he signs, tapping the guitar.

Dean shrugs. “A little. I know a couple of the stereotypical songs."

Cas stares down at the guitar a while longer, taking a slow sip of his beer. He sits the bottle down and gestures to the guitar, raising his eyebrows at Dean.

“You-?" Dean nods slightly, shrugging. “Yeah, sure. Knock yourself out.”

Cas picks up the guitar and takes a seat on Dean’s small shabby couch, adjusting the guitar in his lap and giving it a few test strums. It’s a little out of tune, since the summer has been busy and Dean hasn’t had much chance to play it. Cas tunes it by ear, and Dean’s forced to consider what he learned about how taking away one of a person’s senses really does work to heighten the others. Cas goes straight from tuning into the opening rift of Lynard Skynard’s “Sweet Home Alabama”, then grins widely up at Dean, who chokes on his beer laughing.

Cas laughs his silent laugh, then points to Dean again, then signs: “Do you sing?”

“If you wanna call it singing, sure,” Dean laughs again and sits down next to Cas. “I’m not sure it’s any good.”

Cas turns and pulls a leg up on the sofa with him. He raises a brow and signs: “Try a verse for me.”

Dean rubs at his neck and almost has to fight his own blush. He can’t remember the last time he sang in front of anyone that wasn’t Sam, and when he did, it was purposefully bad.

“Alright,” Dean says, clearing his throat. “Open me up.”

Cas smiles and strums the familiar tune. Dean waits for his queue, then:

“Big wheels keep on turnin’,

Carry me home to see my kin,

Singin’ songs bout the south-land,

I miss ‘ole’ ‘bamy’ once again,

And I think it’s a sin.”

Dean stops, definitely blushing now, and turns to Cas with a big grin.

Cas gives the guitar a final strum and rests his arm on the it, gesturing toward Dean. “You have a lovely voice.”

Dean scoffs and shrugs. “I don’t know about that.”

“You really do,” Cas signs. “I could listen to you all night.”

Dean gets very serious. “If you stayed, I’d sing for you as long as you wanted.”

Cas looks shy again and smiles, looking back down as he starts strumming again, the tops of his ears bright red. This time he starts playing “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, his tongue coming to rest between his teeth as he concentrates.

“CCR, huh?” Dean bobs his head, but Cas stops before the cue to start singing.

“Easy listening,” he signs with a smile. “This is my favorite song.”

“Hmm. May I?”

Cas passes him the guitar and sits back against the arm of the sofa, grabbing his beer off the table and taking a swig. Dean strums a few times before his eyes flit up and catch Cas’s, who smiles at him reassuringly, and he starts in on the opening rift.

“Someone told me long ago

There’s a calm before the storm

I know, it’s been coming for some time.

When it’s over so they say

It’ll rain a sunny day

I know, shinin’ down like water.”

Cas watches him in awe, his lips pressed to the neck of his bottle. Dean catches his gaze and Cas gives him a supportive smile and a nod, and Dean continues to the chorus.

“I wanna know

Have you ever seen the rain?

I wanna know

Have you ever seen the rain

Comin’ down on a sunny day?”

Dean continues to strum, barely noticing when Cas puts his beer down and scoots closer. He’s about to begin the next verse when he looks up, Cas taking him by surprise as he leans forward, pulling Dean to him by his neck, and presses their lips together.

Dean’s eyes widen and the guitar is all but forgotten. He cups the sides of Cas’s face and closes his eyes, sighing into the kiss, running his tongue along the seam of Cas’s lips. When they pull away, slightly out of breath, Dean blinks and smiles.

“If I’d known some singing would get me a kiss I would’ve done that on day one,” he chuckles, stroking his thumb along a blushing cheek. “Ah, pretty eyes, you’re really cute with you blush.”

Cas clicks his tongue and looks down at his hands, his fingers pulling at a loose thread on his pants. Dean bumps their foreheads together, his hand resting on the back of Cas’s neck.

“I mean it,” Dean whispers. “You’re beautiful, Cas.”

Cas presses his lips together and looks up at him through thick, dark lashes. He huffs and frowns, reaching up to poke Dean once in the chest, then lay his hand there.

“You,” he signs, then he’s smiling again. He sits back, slyly raising the beer bottle to his lips, stopping to gesture to the guitar with it, making a “keep going” motion with his other hand.

Dean chuckles and shakes his head, but he picks up the guitar and plays the next couple of verses, watching Cas out of the corner of his eye as he relaxes and begins to sway slightly back and forth.

When he’s done, Dean leans his cheek dramatically towards him expectantly, and Cas grins gleefully as he pushes him away.

“So, you gotta thing for music.” Dean grunts, then takes a long swig of his beer. “I’ll just file that one away for later.”

Cas shakes his head with a smile.

“I’m just sayin’,” Dean shrugs, strumming the guitar with no particular tune in mind, “I’ll be Lloyd Dobler standing on an old dirt road holding a boombox over my head. Anything for you, gorgeous.”

Cas opens his mouth in a silent laugh and shakes his head again, taking another swig of his beer. His face is permanently flushed now, both from the alcohol and the constant flirting. Dean has the feeling the guy doesn’t drink a whole lot, probably because he never had much opportunity.

Dean strums a few more tunes before setting the guitar back on its stand. He sips at the last of his beer and leans back against the arm of the couch.

“So, we like music and photography,” Dean says with a tilt of his head. “What else does my favorite customer like?”

Cas waves him off and picks at the label on his bottle. Dean nudges him with a foot. “C’mon,” he whines, “Don’t go all shy on me now. You don’t have to talk about anything you don’t wanna. What’s your favorite color?”

“Green,” Cas signs.

“My eyes are green,” Dean smirks.

Cas blushes and nods. “I know.”

Dean hums. “So you travel a lot for work. Tell me about that."

Cas shrugs. “It's not work necessarily. I didn't go to school or anything. I just like photography and I like to travel, so I do that.”

“Seen a lot of places, then, huh?”

Cas shrugs again but finally nods. “Thirty-eight states so far,” he signs, looking a little proud. “I stay for a few weeks everywhere I go, pick up odd jobs when I'm able. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to find a publication that wants to use my pictures in an article or something.”

“Never out of the country?”

“Once,” Cas signs, smiling shyly. “To Italy. Saved for almost a year and found a cheap flight, and my brother surprised me with the money for a passport.”

Dean raises his eyebrows. “Italy? Wow. That sounds awesome.”

“It's beautiful,” Cas signs, “but funding the flight home took me almost six months. I didn't think about how difficult it would be to find work there, with the language barrier and-" he stops, laying his hand over his throat.

Dean frowns and taps a finger on his knee. He can only imagine how difficult it had been to get back home. It irks him that this brother didn’t help Cas out with some money. Dean knew if it had been Sammy out there he would’ve done everything he could to wire the money. But then maybe Cas didn’t ask for help. He seems to type not to.

“Well, I haven’t been much anywhere that I can remember,” Dean finally says, toying with his empty beer bottle. “Was born in Kansas, but my mom died and my dad packed us up. We were on the road a lot, but all I remember is the cheap motel rooms and the bars.” He glances at Cas and smiles softly. “I wouldn’t mind seeing something like Italy. But...I dunno, I guess I’m kind of a homebody. I settled here in Sioux Falls and haven’t really left.”

“The world is a big, beautiful place,” Cas signs, then pauses, furrowing his brow. “I meet beautiful people everywhere I go. Interesting people. But you're by far the most interesting I’ve met.” He smiles and fidgets with the hem of his shirt. “You should be sharing yourself with the world. With other people like me.”

Dean scoffs and runs a hand through his hair. “Dunno about that.”

“It's true.” Silence stretches between them before Cas starts signing again. “I'm sorry about your mom. Where is your dad now?”

Dean shrugs and stands, holding out his hand for Cas’s bottle. “No idea,” he mumbles, throwing the bottles into the trash and grabbing two more from the fridge. Good thing they’re closed on Sunday, otherwise he wouldn’t be able wake up so early to take Sam to the airport and work all day. He’s getting too old to stay up all night and work all day.

He sits back down, handing Cas a beer and popping his open. “Dad sometimes visited after he dropped us here. Bobby took care of us, me and him basically raising Sam. When I came out during my last year of high school, his visits suddenly stopped. I haven’t seen or heard from him since.”

“That’s terrible,” Cas signs, frowning. “It must have been so hard for you.”

Dean shakes his head. “Not really, actually. It was easier, being able to stay in one place. I’ve had more stability in my life since being with Bobby than we ever had before. It’s sad but...dad disappearing didn’t really make much of a difference. He was never the same after my mom died, anyway.”

“It’s nice that you have Bobby.”

Dean huffs a laugh. “Yeah. He’s a grumpy old prick, but he’s dad, more or less.”

Cas smiles and looks down at the bottle between his hands, smoothing an air bubble out of the label.

Dean watches him for a moment and takes a small sip of his beer. He doesn’t drink all that much anymore. A twelve pack will last him a week or two nowadays. That’s usually including visits from Sam. He’d kicked the habit a few years ago when he decided he didn’t want to end up like John.

“What about you?” Dean asks hesitantly. “Your parents still around?”

Cas shrugs and hesitates before lifting his hands to sign. “Yes...and no. They live in Maine, in my childhood home. I just don’t see them often.” He huffs and licks his lips quickly. “They don’t necessarily approve of my life.”

“No? Why not?”

Cas shrugs again and looks down. “My dad runs his own business. My mom’s a professor at the university. Siblings are all successful. I don’t think they look at photography as a sustainable career. Not that I can necessarily blame them.” He huffs a humorless laugh.

Dean frowns down at his beer and sets it aside, turning to face Cas. He knee nudges Cas’s thigh and he throws an arm over the top of the couch. “Does it make you happy, though? Photography?”

Cas licks his lips and nods slowly. “Yes...most of the time,” he signs.

Dean shrugs. “Then to hell with them. I guess I understand a parent being...concerned, but if they really cared...I dunno, I feel like they’d make more of an effort.” He bites his lip and looks down. “Not to disrespect them or anything. It’s just...if something makes you happy, they should at least be accepting.”

Cas doesn’t answer, just looks down at his bottle with a sad smile.

“You mentioned your brother, but I didn’t know you had other siblings. How many of you are there?”

Cas holds up a hand.

“Five?!”

He smiles widely and nods. “Me, younger sister Anael, and three older brothers: Gabriel, Michael, and Lucifer.”

Dean deadpans. “Seriously?”

Cas flaps a hand around his head and rolls his eyes before signing. “Yeah, angel names. It’s a whole thing. I hate it.”

Dean chuckles and scratches absently at his cheek. “Well, that’s...ah...that’s somethin’ else.” He takes a sip of his beer and gestures to Cas with the bottle. “So, this brother that’s in town now...are you guys close?”

Cas huffs another laugh, a genuine one this time, like he’s laughing at a joke he hasn’t let Dean in on. “Closer to him than my other siblings. Gabriel is…” he waves his hands around, trying to find the words, “different. To say the least. I think perhaps he’s the only person my parents are more ashamed of than me.”

“And what’s he do for a living?”

Cas smiles and shrugs. “Whatever he wants.”

Dean snorts and scratches at a cheek. “How do you make a living doing...whatever?”

Cas smiles and shrugs a shoulder. “I don’t know, but he manages.”

“Huh,” Dean huffs a laugh. “Well, I can’t really talk. Not like I expected to be running a diner, and it’s not always the most lucrative of careers.”

Cas turns and leans back on the arm of the couch, kicking a leg out. “The diner isn’t Bobby’s?” Cas signs, raising a brow.

Dean laughs and shakes his head. “Nah, it’s just on his property. Kind of a fluke how it started. See, Sam and I used to live with him. Well, Sam still does when he isn’t in school. Anyway, Bobby’s been running that shop for as long as I’ve known him. Missouri came in one day with a dead battery. She’s always been really sweet to me and Sam, so while she was waitin’ on her car, I bought her a piece of pie I had baked earlier. Apparently she loved it and kept coming back. Word got out that I made the best pies. People kept showin’ up, asking for a piece. Eventually I started charging for it. Pies lead to burgers...more people kept showin’ up. So Bobby cleared a small space, got a stove from a closing restaurant, some chairs and tables from secondhand stores...the rest is history, I guess.”

“That’s incredible,” Cas signs. “Your food really is very good. You could have a lot more business if more people knew you were there.”

“Well, you knew.” Dean points out, and Cas smiles again.

“Yes, but finding places such as yours is kind of what I do.” Cas nudges Dean’s knee with his own and grins. “Gabriel would love the pie. Sweets are kind of his thing.”

Dean smiles and shrugs. “Bring ‘em on by if you want. I bake plenty. Always apple and cherry, then the third is always something weird.”

Cas raises a brow. “Weird?”

“Well,” Dean leans back and sighs when the movement pops his back. It’s tough hunching over a stove all day. “Not weird , just not your usual fare. Blueberry, blackberry, rhubarb...sometimes peach cobbler if I have enough ice cream. Only one I don’t make is lemon meringue.”

“Why not?” Cas signs, smiling.

Dean makes a face. “I hate lemon flavored things. Unless it’s in tea or keeping my apples from browning, I don’t have much use for lemons.”

“I like lemon things,” Cas signs with a pout, and Dean shakes his head.

“And here I had you pegged for the world’s most perfect guy,” he says sadly, smiling as he takes a sip of his beer.

Cas blushes again but gives Dean a silent laugh. “Really? That’s your deal breaker?”

“Absolutely,” Dean says seriously. “You obviously can’t be trusted if you actually like lemon .”

Cas sighs in a dramatic fashion and moves to stand from the couch. “I guess I should leave then…”

“Don’t you dare,” Dean laughs, grabbing his wrist and tugging him back down, Cas landing a little closer to Dean. “I’m not done with you yet, gorgeous.”

“Are you holding me captive now?” Cas signs with a shy grin.

“Maybe,” Dean gives him a wink. “I’m not letting you go until I at least get one more kiss. I’ll even settle for the cheek.”

Cas hides his face as he blushes, but Dean can see he’s smiling. Dean doesn’t think he’ll ever get tired of seeing that smile or adorable blush. He’s never met someone so shy, but it’s understandable with Cas. With his lifestyle and being nonverbal, Dean can’t imagine he interacts with a lot of people. And even when he does, Dean has a feeling those interactions aren’t always positive.

“Maybe,” Cas finally signs when he composes himself.

“I guess I’ll just have to sing again,” Dean says confidently, and Cas grins at him.

“Using my weakness against me?”

“I never claimed to play fair.” Dean signs this time as he speaks, and Cas tongues the inside of his cheek, pointing to him.

“Where’d you learn to sign, anyway?”

“Sam’s girlfriend Eileen is deaf. She started to teach me a little when she would come visit Sam, and Sam and I would practice when she left.” Dean huffs a laugh. “He was so worried about impressing her. Still is, I guess. Looks like she may be the one.”

“What about you?” Cas signs, and Dean raises a brow. “You never had anyone special in your life?”

“Just you, angel,” Dean winks and smiles. Cas’s cheeks redden, but he raises an eyebrow questioningly.

Dean sighs and looks away, reaching over to grab his beer and taking a long swig. He rests the bottle on his thigh and picks at the label, Cas waiting patiently beside him.

“Never anyone like Eileen,” he finally says with a small shrug. “When Sam met her he just...knew, ya know? Hell, I knew.” He huffs again, smiling at the memory. “The closest I ever got to that was Lisa. We dated for a couple months and we got along and all, but...I dunno. We just didn’t mesh well. I got the feeling she wanted me to change, I guess. She was...normal. Pretty, nice, but normal . Never bothered me, but my weirdness seemed to get to her. It was an amicable break up. Which is all I told Sammy.” Dean snorts and takes another sip of his beer. “He just thinks I got bored. Might be true, to a certain degree. She wasn’t very adventurous.”

“Why would she want to change you?” Cas signs, looking genuinely confused. He scoots forward, taking one of Dean’s hands in his. He looks down at them as he runs his fingers over the two nails that are painted with black polish and fidgets with the fingers adorned with rings. Dean watches his face, chewing his bottom lip.

“You’re a work of art,” Cas signs finally, looking up at him through his lashes. “You’re interesting. You’re exciting.”

Dean smiles shyly, feeling as if he’s under a microscope, and reaches out to squeeze Cas’s leg. “There you go again, saying silly things,” he murmurs. “Maybe I’m only interesting because I’m new. You might get tired of this after a while.”

Cas shakes his head firmly and pokes at the stud on Dean’s lip. “Never.”

Dean pretends to try and bite Cas’s finger, and Cas snaps his hand back with a silent laugh. “If you say so, angel,” Dean chuckles. “Anyway, I wasn’t gonna change for her. I happen to like my loudness. Don’t always get the best attention because of how I look, but…” he shrugs and smiles, “I did get yours , so I call that a win.”

Cas grins and waves a hand dismissively, looking around the room as he raises the bottle to his lips. Dean watches him again, tonguing the inside of his cheek. It’s nice to see Cas so at ease. Dean downs the rest of his beer and sets the bottle on his coffee table, then props his feet up as he shrinks down into the cushions of the couch.

“Don’t you dare tell me there’s never been anyone special in your life. I won’t believe it.” Dean gestures to him when Cas shakes his head. “I mean it. Spill.”

Cas shakes his head again and shrugs. “No one.”

“At all?”

“No.”

“Not even like…” Dean pauses, “a one night stand?”

Cas shakes his head.

“Bullshit.”

Cas presses his lips together and shrugs again. “No time.”

“Aw, c’mon. You can always find time for someone you’re attracted to.” Dean rubs his own thigh. “You just don’t wanna tell me.”

“Never attracted to anyone before,” Cas signs. “Not really.”

Dean sits up a little straighter at that. “ Never ?”

Cas tilts his head with a slight nod. “Not enough to feel the desire for sex.”

Dean blinks owlishly and looks Cas over carefully, thinking that pretty body is being completely wasted. Not that a pretty body is all Cas is, not by a long shot, but Dean just knows Cas would look so good all spread out-

Nope, stopping that train of thought right there.

“I…” Dean shakes his head, at a loss for words. “But Cas, you’ve...I mean, you’ve had sex right?”

Cas may as well have not been blushing all day for how red his face got at that, which actually makes Dean feel a little guilty for asking, even though he loves the look on Cas. Cas rubs the back of his neck nervously, and Dean finally reaches forward and takes his hand in his again, giving it a squeeze.

“Hey, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-”

Cas waves him off. “No, it’s fine. I just never got close enough to get to know anyone before, I guess. Or they didn’t want to put forth the effort to get to know me. Either way, I haven’t had those feelings for anyone before.”

Dean frowns and nods slowly, feeling a complete ass. “Nothing wrong with that, Cas,” he says quietly. “I’m sorry. Sometimes I put my foot in my mouth. I didn’t mean to insinuate anything. Just...you’re very attractive. I find it hard to believe no one has ever been interested in...uh, getting to know you.”

Cas stares at his beer for another long moment then looks up and grins wickedly, sitting his beer on the table to sign. “I just think they struggle to understand me.”

Dean huffs a relieved laugh and admires Cas’s ability to make light of his situation, even when it’s something that he knows has made his life so difficult. “So was this...was I your first kiss?”

Cas rolls his eyes and purses his lips. “I’m not a nun, Dean.”
Dean laughs again and nods, holding up his hands defensively. “Okay, okay. Sorry.”

Cas smiles and looks over Dean’s shoulder at the pictures on the wall, frowning and standing to walk over. He stands in front of a handful of them; pictures of Dean and Sam with Bobby just a few short years after John left, a picture of Dean in front of his house the day he moved in, another of a young Sammy behind the wheel of the Impala- not driving, of course, since Dean hardly ever allows that even now.

Dean moves to stand beside him, watching Cas instead of the pictures in front of him. Cas smiles and points at one of Dean looking downright pissy outside of Singer’s Salvage with a tall, bright blue mohawk and wearing a kilt and some off-brand Doc Martens, complete with a black shirt that read ‘Surf Naked’ in bold white letters. It was probably Dean’s sophomore year of high school, maybe even junior year, when he was still experimenting with his look. Despite loving himself the way he was- for the most part, anyway- he was thankful that he had the good sense to tone it down...even if it was just a little bit.

“Oh, you like that one?”

Cas nods with a grin. “Do you still have the kilt?”

“Somewhere around here,” Dean shrugs. “Funny story about that, actually. Rufus found it at some yard sale or something, and I’d been going through...well, I guess it was what they thought then was a stage.” He huffs a laugh. “Anyway, Rufus picked it up as a joke, brought it over to Bobby’s. Wish you could’ve seen his face when he realized I was actually excited about it.”

“It looks good,” Cas nods at the picture.

Dean laughs and shakes his head. “I guess it isn’t too bad. Eventually stopped wearing it when I started to help Bobby in the shop. Hard to work on an engine with a skirt.”

Cas grins cheekily, his eyes crinkling slightly in the corners. “Would you wear it for me?”

Dean smirks and raises a brow. “Maybe. Might need a few more kisses for that.”

Cas looks like he’s considering it for a moment, and Dean practically holds his breath. To his disappointment, though, Cas just quirks a smile and looks back at the photos, tracing the frame of one with a fingertip.

Dean bites his lip, watching him intently. “Hey, Cas, listen...do you…” he pauses, and Cas looks over at him with big blue eyes, and suddenly he feels nervous asking. He clears his throat. “Do you have anywhere to go tonight?”

Cas’s eyes widen marginally but he quickly composes himself, then shrugs nonchalantly. “I always have somewhere to go,” he signs, quickly turning his attention back to the pictures on the wall, acting overly interested in them.

“Cas, c’mon now, man-”

Cas waves a dismissive hand at him, avoiding his gaze.

“Hey.” Dean grabs his chin and turns his face toward him, and Cas presses his lips together but finally looks up, meeting his eyes. “Why don’t you stay here? I got a perfectly good bed you can sleep in, and I’ll even sleep out here on the couch. No expectations. Okay?”

“I couldn’t do that,” Cas signs, but Dean shakes his head.

“Listen, buddy, it’ll make me feel better knowing you’re sleeping here. If I don’t know where you are I’ll worry all night.”

Cas huffs and looks around as if the excuse he needs to not stay the night is lying around somewhere.

“Cas.”

Dean’s voice brings him back looking into very green, very sincere eyes.

“Scout’s honor,” Dean holds up his hand with a small smile. “I won’t even flirt. Just...stay here so I know you’re safe.”

Cas sighs and runs a hand through his hair, making it even more wild than before, and finally nods. Dean grins and claps Cas on the shoulder.

“Awesome,” he says. “I got some stuff you can wear if you want. I usually sleep naked, but I’ll leave something on this time.” He chuckles and opens the door to the bedroom, digging through the dresser and then reappearing with some pajama pants and an old AC/DC t-shirt.

“Here,” he hands the bundle to Cas. “Take my bed, use the shower...whatever you want. Bathroom is in the bedroom, use whatever you need.”
Cas looks down at the clothes and shifts uncomfortably, but he steps forward when Dean ushers him into the bedroom and gives him a thumbs up, cracking the door behind him.  

Dean grabs his guitar again from the stand- this is probably the most he’s touched the damn thing all summer- and plops back down on the couch. He strums with no particular tune in mind, trying to distract him from the potentially naked and gorgeous boy in the next room and avoid a super awkward boner. He mentally curses himself when he looks up and realizes that the door is a little more cracked than he remembers leaving it, the traitorous space giving him an eyeful of smooth, tanned skin on the other side.

He quickly averts his gaze and absolutely does not think about the glimpse of ass he saw. He focuses on the guitar, starting up the intro to “Simple Man” and humming along quietly. He tenses slightly when he hears the shower start up and sings a bit louder, trying desperately to think of anything other than the hot, naked (and now wet) guy in his room. It’s like high school all over again. He’s a grown man now, damn it. Surely he can think of something other than sex with a guy who is potentially asexual. A downright shame, in Dean’s opinion, but to each his own.

Eventually, Dean is able to slip into the music and put Cas at the back of his mind. Until he hears the shower stop and Cas pull back the curtain, and the whole damn thing starts all over again.

The time it takes Cas to dress and come back out is practically torturous, but Dean makes a point not to show it when Cas emerges from the bedroom. The clothes are a little baggy on him and his hair is still wet and sticking up all over his head. He's barefoot and he walks slowly across the carpet as Dean hums to the tune he's strumming, finally sitting beside him on the couch and pulling his knees to his chest.

He looks fucking gorgeous and Dean almost forgets his next verse completely.

“Thank you,” Cas signs when Dean finishes. “For everything.”

Dean pauses his fingers, the note fading away, and he shrugs humbly. “No problem, beautiful,” he smiles at Cas, making a point not to wink or do anything else suggestive. He can be good. Totally. “Feel better now?”

Cas nods, his arms locked around his legs, and rests his cheek on his knees. Dean looks away, because that’s too damn adorable and he can’t fucking stand it.

“Good,” is all Dean says. He stands and stretches, then puts his guitar back on the stand. He goes over to the TV stand and picks out a movie before popping it in and handing the remote to Cas.

“Relax and chill out here for a bit,” he says. “I’m gonna shower. I smell like grease.”

He showers as quickly as he possibly can, trying not to think about a naked Cas having been in there only minutes before. He is absolutely not going to jack off in the shower to thoughts of Cas with the poor guy in the other room, inexperienced and innocent, watching the goddamn Disney movie he put on with a no doubt adorable smile plastered across his face. Wouldn’t be right.

As it were, he wraps his fingers around the base of his half-hard cock and squeezes, the picture of Cas spread out beneath him-

No . Uh uh. Not going there.

He lets go and shakes his head, ignoring the heaviness between his legs and the tingling pooling in his gut.

He dresses quickly after his shower and heads back out to find Cas in the same position, smiling widely at Prince Eric dancing around on the ship with his old sheepdog, Max while Ariel watches. The irony of the movie he very much accidentally chose wasn’t lost on Dean, but he said nothing as he sat back down beside Cas.

“Hey, so I do have to get up early in the morning to take Sam to the airport,” Dean says with a sigh. “But I don’t work at all tomorrow, so I was wondering if you’d stay while I take him and maybe...I don’t know. Hang out with me tomorrow?”

Cas seems to consider it for a moment, but he finally gives him a smile and nods.

“Okay,” he signs.

“Okay?”

Cas nods.

Dean grins. “Awesome.”

By the time the movie is ending, both of them are yawning and drooping in their seats. Dean turns it off and quickly checks his bed to ‘make sure it’s made’- meaning: checking for embarrassing items like porn. Once he deems it clear, Cas bids him a shy goodnight and disappears into the bedroom.

Dean spends the next half hour stubbornly refusing to think about the hot guy in his bed and ignoring his half hard cock. It seems wrong to jerk off to such an innocent soul, especially since Cas seems uncomfortable with anything overtly sexual. Or, at least, too shy about it.

It takes a while, but Dean eventually falls asleep only to wake up a few hours later to his alarm. Barely functioning and stumbling over every piece of furniture he owns, Dean makes some coffee and throws on yesterday’s clothes. When he gets some coffee in his system, he writes a small note for Cas on a post-it and puts it on the kitchen counter telling Cas to help himself to any food he wants.

Dean throws on a jacket, grabs his keys, and quietly slips out, locking the door behind him.

Chapter Text

Sam’s waiting on the porch at Bobby’s with his bags when Dean pulls up, and he winces internally at the bitch face already in place. Sam throws his bags in the back seat, ignoring Dean’s warnings about messing up the leather, then gets in the front seat and slams the door behind him.

“I said airport by 6 a.m.,” Sam says grumpily, muttering to himself when Dean hands him the mug of coffee he’d brought.

“Only gonna be a few minutes late,” Dean murmurs. “Why are you in such a hurry to leave me, anyway?”

“Dean-”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it,” Dean grumps, putting the car in reverse and backing out slowly so he doesn’t disturb all the dirt and gravel. “But you’re coming in for Thanksgiving, right?”

“Of course,” Sam says, his tone gentler. “Wouldn’t miss Rufus’s deep fried turkey for anything. I think Eileen’s planning to come for Thanksgiving too, but that’ll mean I’ll have to go to Washington for Christmas.”

Dean turns onto the highway and eases onto the gas. “I guess fair’s fair.”

Sam frowns and looks over at him, searching his face. “Late night or somethin’?”

Dean shrugs and scrubs a hand down his face, sniffing loudly. “You could say that.”

Sam goes to say something but stops when realization dawns on his face. “Wait, did he- did Cas stay over?”

Dean stares straight ahead and licks his lips quickly, then presses them together. “Yeah. Not what you think, though. Couldn’t stand the thought of him going... wherever it was he was gonna go and squat, when I had a perfectly good bed for him to use.”

“Oh, Christ-”

“Not like that,” Dean emphasizes quickly, waving a hand. “I slept on the couch.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, he-” he glances over at Sam and sighs heavily, “he’s never...I mean, he...ah. That, uh, was never on the table.”

“Right.” Sam presses his lips together and nods, looking straight ahead. “So I guess...that’s that, then?”

Dean furrows his brow. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I don’t know, I just thought-” Sam pauses to take a sip of his coffee, then coughs once. “If he’s not...ya know, into that, you wouldn’t be...into him.”

“Jesus fuck , Sam, how many times I gotta tell you that I’m not shallow?” He glares over at his brother before putting on his blinker and turning, punching the gas a little harder than necessary. “Look, I...I mean, don’t get me wrong, it caught me off guard. But try to imagine how hard it must have been for the guy with being nonverbal, and shy on top of that.” Dean pauses to clear his throat. “I really like this guy. But he’s supposed to be leaving in less than a week and contrary to popular belief, I’m not that guy.”

“Okay, then.”

“What?”

Sam starts to speak and stops, letting out an almost groaning sound instead. “It’s just...Dean, if he did stay, what would you do? Honestly? Look, I know you’re into him, but even if he made the decision to stay right now, I just feel like you’d be bored by the time he was originally supposed to leave.”

“Bet me.”

Sam scoffs. “What?”

“I’ll bet you right now that I can convince him to stay, and you’ll see him again with me when you come in for Thanksgiving.” Dean looks over at him with a wicked gleam in his eye.

“You’re serious.”

“Deadly.”

Sam stares at him then snorts and shakes his head. “Alright, you’re on. What do you wanna bet?”

“Not money, because we’re both poor as fuck.”

Sam chuckles in agreement. Dean drums his fingers on the wheel then smiles. “If I win, you have to eat burgers for a week.”

“Okay,” Sam grins. “And if I win, it’s salads for you.”

Dean shudders in horror, but nods. He didn’t feel as confident as he sounded, because he isn’t even sure he’s going to find Cas still there when he gets home from dropping Sam off. But, even so, he knows there’s a connection there and Cas must feel it too.

Dean cusses the whole way through the airport parking lots and streets. He almost missed his turn completely because there are fifty million lanes and of course he’s in the wrong one. He got Sam there, though, and gave him a gruff hug after telling him to call as soon as he landed.

When Dean finally pulls back into his driveway he breathes a sigh of relief, ready to go back to sleep for a few hours. He shuts off the Impala and stumbles back into the house. He doesn’t check to see if Cas is up or even still there, because he didn’t want to face the emptiness if Cas is gone. Instead, Dean falls back onto the couch and immediately slips into sleep, his leg hanging off the edge.

He wakes an indeterminate amount of time later to the sound of music filling the little space, and he blinks up at the ceiling, clearing his blurry eyes. It doesn't register right away where the music is coming from, or why in the world “Part of your World" is being played on an acoustic guitar, but he groans and rolls to his side, eyes widening a bit when he sees Cas sitting on the floor in front of the television with his guitar in hand. He's completely oblivious to Dean's waking as he sways to the music with his eyes closed, and Dean wonders briefly if Cas hears himself singing in his head when the rest of the world is quiet.

Dean just lays there and watches him, propping his head up and smiling softly. When the song is over Cas sighs, then opens his eyes, blush immediately rising on his cheeks when he sees Dean.

“Good morning,” he signs shyly.

Dean smiles sleepily and signs back: “Good morning.” He sits up and rolls his shoulders, very much aware of Cas’s eyes on him. He rubs at his face, feeling oddly naked without all his color and makeup. His natural hair color is what Jo calls a ‘sandy brown’, whatever the hell that means. Dean usually has it saturated with blues and purples and greens, sometimes red if he’s feeling particularly loud.

Dean turns to Cas, who is still looking at him, and smiles. “Want some breakfast?” He asks, raising a brow.

Cas bites a lip and nods, fingers fidgeting over the guitar.

“Awesome,” Dean rolls off the couch and stands, heading into the kitchen. “Got some coffee if you want it.”

He starts digging into the fridge, fishing out some eggs and bacon, then in his cabinet for pancake mix. He hears Cas shuffle into the kitchen and glances up to see him standing awkwardly, hand clutching his other arm and hunched over as if he is trying to hide. Dean smiles and hands him a mug, then points to the coffee maker.

Dean starts mixing the pancakes as Cas starts the coffee maker. He looks back to see Cas hunched over with his arms on the counter and his chin resting on top of them, watching the coffee brew. He has the strong urge to cross the tiny kitchen and wrap his arms around him, but he's reminded of his promise from the night before and decides against it.

Cas pours himself a cup when it's done brewing and rifles through the cabinets until he finds another mug and pours Dean a cup too, smiling when he hands it to him.

“Thank you,” Dean signs, and Cas’s smile widens. Before Dean can say anything else, Cas steps forward, carding his fingers slowly through the hair on the nape of his neck, and presses their lips together.

Dean promptly forgets all about the pancakes and steps closer to Cas, cupping his face gently. He wants to deepen the kiss, press Cas up against the counter and ravish him, but he doesn’t do any of that. He keeps it chaste, just soft lips against slightly chapped lips, until Cas pulls away.

“Mmm, that may have earned you the kilt,” Dean teases softly, stroking Cas’s chin. Cas blushes and looks down at his coffee, fingers tapping against the mug. Dean chuckles and flips the pancakes, pleased that Cas didn’t move away. Pleased that Cas didn’t take off like Dean thought he might. He hopes Cas decides to stay all day (and maybe another night), because Dean is quickly starting to grow addicted to having him around.

Cas backs into the corner of the counter and hoists himself up onto it, watching as Dean finished up the pancakes and started on the bacon. The domesticity dawns on Dean and for some reason it makes him inexplicably happy, cooking breakfast for the two of them while they trade sweet smiles. Cas lets his legs swing off the counter as he sips his coffee, and Dean hands him the first piece of bacon, which he gratefully accepts.

“So about that kilt…” Cas signs with a grin when Dean plates the bacon and cracks a few eggs into the pan.

Dean smirks and quickly scrambles up the eggs with a dash of milk to make them fluffy. “A little curious, gorgeous?” He can’t help the slip up, but Cas doesn’t seem to mind and blushes behind his coffee mug as he nods shyly.

“Tell you what,” Dean murmurs, tossing his pan before deeming his eggs done and dumping them out onto a plate. “You eat every bite of this breakfast and I’ll put on my kilt for ya.”

Cas grins and nods eagerly, accepting his plate of pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Dean smiles and gives Cas’s leg a pat.

“Good,” he says then points to the pancakes. “Want any syrup?” He doesn’t even wait for an answer and grabs Mrs. Buttersworth, pouring a healthy amount of syrup on the hotcakes.

Cas isn’t as shy about eating this time, and he’s already finished with his food by the time Dean’s halfway through his own pancakes. He hops down off the counter and takes his plate to the sink, then goes ahead and washes it along with the pan and spatula Dean had used, waving Dean off when he tries to insist that he’d take care of them. He takes Dean’s plate when he’s done and washes that too, setting them all on the drying rack.

“So, Cas,” Dean starts, and Cas crosses his arms over his chest and leans back against the sink. “What, uh. What are your plans?”

Cas frowns and tilts his head. “What do you mean?”

“Just…” Dean pauses, licking his lips. “I don’t know. When you leave here, where are you going? What are you gonna do?”

Cas seems to think about it for a moment, then shrugs.

“I haven’t decided yet,” he signs.

“That...doesn’t ever scare you?” Dean frowns, plucking at his t-shirt.

Cas shrugs again and looks down at his feet, tugging on the t-shirt that’s too big for him.

“Well, you’re braver than me,” Dean smiles. “Never knowing where you’re going, how you’re gonna get there...not sure I could do it. You must be pretty resourceful.”

Cas waves him off and shakes his head. “Not really,” he signs.

Dean clicks his tongue and pokes Cas’s side. “Take the compliment, angel.”

Cas huffs, trying and failing to hide a smile. Dean chuckles and leans back against the kitchen counter, biting his lip briefly. “So...theoretically, if you were to get a job offer...would you stay?”

Cas’s eyes widen slightly, soon replaced by confusion. “Stay here?”

Dean shrugs. “Yeah. Why not?”

Cas pushes away from the counter and walks across the kitchen, running his hand absently across the counter. He passes Dean and turns back, frowning up at him and signing slowly. “I...don’t know. Maybe. For awhile.”

Dean tongues his cheek then lets out a slow breath. “What if, uh...it was me offering the job?”

Cas raises a brow and tilts his head. “You?”

Dean nods and rubs a hand up and down his arm. “Yeah, ya know...at the diner.” He shrugs and clears his throat. “Thing is, with Sam going back to school for another three years, I’m gonna need help. There’s another girl, Charlie...but she can only work a couple days a week. If you want, you could work those days she isn’t there. You’d get some extra cash, plus you’d still have time off to do your photography.”

“You want me to work for you,” Cas signs, and Dean nods again. He lets out a breath and turns away, moving to the kitchen table and slinking into a seat.

“Look, Cas...I know I barely know anything about you, but I know you ain’t had it easy. And things out there are tough. Hell, things are tough enough when you do have somewhere stable to work and live, so I can’t imagine traveling around the way you do.” Dean pauses, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. “It’d really help me out if you would do this for me. And I don’t know...maybe you’ll even enjoy it, staying put for a bit, making some money...”

Cas looks away. “But I still don’t have-”

Dean raises a brow. “What? A place to stay?”

Cas shifts uncomfortably. Dean sighs and rubs at the back of his neck, then moves to sit in the chair opposite of Cas.

“So you don’t have anywhere to go?”

Cas doesn’t answer.

“Cas,” Dean says incredulously and huffs, shaking his head. “And you were gonna leave here last night and stay...where? Tucked under the overpass?”

Cas shrugs.

“Damn it, Cas,” Dean growls and roughly scrubs a hand through his hair. “Look, I don’t...I’m not judging how you live your life. I’m really not, but...it’s getting too cold for that sort of thing. And it’s dangerous out here at night. We’re kinda in the boondocks and there’s some weird fucks out there. Please…” he reaches out and takes Cas’s hand in his, squeezing gently. “Will you just...stay here with me? You can have my bed, I’ll take the couch...I just really need to know you’re safe. I don’t want you out there sleeping under a damn bridge.”

Cas looks down at their hands then away...anywhere but at Dean.

“Cas.”

Cas huffs and looks up, finally, watery blue eyes meeting Dean’s gaze, nostrils flaring as he tried to hold back the tears. He swallows hard and signs: “I don’t like asking for help.”

“Yeah, well it’s a good thing you didn’t ask. I offered.” Dean lets go of his hand in favor of brushing the pad of his thumb under Cas’s right eye, wiping away a tear. “Come on, now. Say you’ll stay. At least for a little while.”

Cas bites his lip. “A few weeks.”

“It’s all I ask,” Dean concedes, sitting back in his chair and raising his eyebrows. “And the diner?”

Cas nods.

Dean smiles in relief and squeezes Cas’s hand again, thumb moving along his knuckles. “Awesome. You’re a life saver, man. Wasn’t sure what I was gonna do without Sam there. And, more importantly, I’ll know that you’re safe.” He stands and, unable to help himself, kisses the top of Cas’s head.

“Plus,” Dean says, resting a hand on Cas’s shoulder and squeezing. “As a bonus, you can eat at the diner for free whenever you want. And don’t give me that look, I gave Sam the same deal.”

Cas pauses, licking his lips. “Whenever I want?” he signs, and Dean nods.

“Whenever you want.” He gestures to Cas, raising his eyebrows. “ Whatever you want. I’ll make you anything you’re in the mood for.”

Cas grins and pulls his knees to his chest again, resting his chin on top of them. Dean looks at him fondly, thinking not for the first time that he’s possibly the cutest guy he’s ever met. He’s not a small guy, within an inch or two of Dean’s height, but he’s much leaner. He’s got broad shoulders and wide-set hip bones, so it was easy to imagine him filling out after some time in a stable home with regular meals.

Cas tilts his head and squints confusedly.

“What?” he signs.

“Sorry,” Dean signs and actually feels his face heat up just a little from being caught

staring.  “Can’t help it. You’re just...really nice to look at.”

Cas goes red and ducks his head to hide, and Dean chuckles as he ruffles his hair. “Hey, c’mon. I’ve got some clothes you can wear so we can wash yours. Hell, I probably have some stuff you can have . I’ve filled out a bit since high school.” He smiles and pats his belly. “Diner food will do that to ya.”

Cas chews his lip and follows Dean into the bedroom, both avoiding even looking at the bed as if that simple act would make their clothes fall off. Dean digs through his closet, muttering to himself, and finally pulls out a pair of well-loved jeans and a blue t-shirt with a wolf on it. He doesn’t even remember where he got the shirt. Probably Sam as some stupid joke. At any rate, it’s too small for him now and the blue will bring out Cas’s eyes.

“Here,” Dean hands them to Cas. “These should fit you alright. I might take you to the store later and see if we can’t find some basics for you. The clothes you have look like they need to retire soon.”

Cas takes the shirt and throws it over his shoulder, but shakes his head.

“What?”

“No store,” he signs.

Dean turns to face him fully and crosses his arms over his chest. He gives Cas a stern look, but Cas isn’t backing down, squaring his shoulders stubbornly and shaking his head.

“Why not?”

Cas huffs. “Money,” he signs simply.

“Okay, sure, but I wouldn’t have asked you to go if I expected you to pay for it-”

“That’s the problem,” Cas signs, frowning.

“Cas-”

Cas turns and crosses over to the bed, where he takes a seat and lays the shirt over his lap, looking at Dean expectantly. “I believe I was promised a kilt,” he signs with a grin, in a poor attempt to change the subject.

Dean presses his lips into a hard line and seriously considers arguing, but one look at Cas has the words dying on his tongue. Cas’s grin is strained and he’s clutching the shirt in his lap tightly, fingers fidgeting nervously. His pretty blue eyes are slightly glassy, as if he could cry at any minute, and Dean decides to drop the subject for now.

“Yes, you were,” Dean signs back after a moment’s pause. He sighs softly and slips back into closet, digging briefly before unearthing his kilt. He shakes it out a bit and disappears into the bathroom. He shimmies out of his pajamas and slips on the kilt, noting that it didn’t fit as snug as he thought it would.

Dean takes a breath and steps out, arms raised on either side. “Ta da,” he smiles, shaking his hips a bit. He fully expects that open-mouthed, silent laugh he’s grown to love, but Cas’s eyes widen and he stares for a solid five seconds before a slow smile stretches across his face. He licks his lips quickly and swallows, finally looking up at Dean’s eyes.

“I really like it,” he signs, then he gets up and sets the shirt on the bed, crossing the floor. Dean watches as Cas circles him, looking at the kilt from all angles, stopping in front of him again.

“A lot,” he signs with a smile. “It would be wonderful for a photo shoot sometime, if you’re willing to help me.”

“Oh yeah?” Dean raises a brow and smirks slowly. “Gonna paint me like one of your French girls?”

Cas blinks at him. “I don’t...understand that reference.”

Dean hangs his head and groans. “Alright, Cas. Next movie night we’re watching Titanic .”

Cas tilts his head and smiles.

“But yeah,” Dean shrugs. “Take all the pictures you want. Just makes sure to keep the risque ones to ourselves, okay?”

Cas blushes and shakes his head, still grinning widely.

Dean crosses his arms over his chest and raises a brow. “Now Cas, I can’t have you just letting my nudes out there for free, man. I think we should at least be handsomely compensated for them.”

Cas shrugs and nods. “That’s fair,” he signs. “Although I don’t see myself wanting to share.”

Dean fights off his own blush and coughs. “Oh, yeah? So you’ll keep them to yourself, then? Not gonna let anyone else see the goods?”

“I’ll guard them with my life,” Cas signs, then holds a hand over his heart.

“Good,” Dean grins. “‘Cause no one gets to see any of this for free.” He pauses. “Except you, beautiful.”

Cas rolls his eyes, but smiles his gummy smile.

“Now,” Dean turns to head back into the bathroom. “I’m gonna get back into something that doesn’t have my balls flapping around.”

He glances back in time to see Cas bury his face in his hands, his neck and ears burning red. Dean laughs and shuts the bathroom door to get dressed.

----

Click.

“Cas.”

Click. Click.

“Cas, you’re supposed to be taking pictures of, like, nature. Not me.”

Dean opens his eyes and turns his head just in time to see Cas look away innocently, fiddling with the strap of his camera. Dean just smiles and shakes his head, turning his head back to look up at tree canopy above them. They’re back at the park, in a relatively secluded part, laid out on the grass beneath the shade. Cas had needed a few more pictures and Dean decided he needed some fresh air. So here they are.

He looks back over at Cas and sees the camera pointed at him too late, the shutter clicking again before he can turn away.

“Dammit, Cas,” he grumps, but it fades into a smile when Cas lowers the camera, smiling himself at he looks at the photo he took. He turns the camera around and shows Dean, and even he has to admit it’s pretty artsy, the sunlight hitting him in this perfect way that highlights the green in his hair and shines off of the piercings on his face.

“Alright, that’s enough. If I’d known you were gonna spend all this time taking pictures of me, I wouldn’t have brought you all the way out here. Coulda done that at home.”

Cas grins and shrugs, still cycling through the pictures on the camera.

Dean watches him for a moment, nodding his head toward the camera when Cas looks up at him. “Got any good ones on there? That aren’t of me?”

Cas’s grin widens and he nods, then scoots over to Dean’s side. Dean leans in as Cas cycles through the pictures for him, and holy shit , there are actually a lot of really cool ones, and Dean vaguely wonders how Cas didn’t have publications busting down his door to use his photos. He has a great eye for it, which probably makes it that much more frustrating that he lives the way he does, unable to fully support himself.

After a few minutes of cycling through photos, Cas nonchalantly lays his head on Dean’s shoulder and continues to cycle. Dean tenses slightly in surprise but slowly presses his cheek to the top of Cas’s head, still watching him go through the pictures, but not really seeing them. All he could think about was Cas trusting him, Cas opening himself up to him, and the fact that his perpetually mussed hair smelled really fucking good- like apples and honey.

Dean barely notices when Cas stops cycling through the pictures and lowers his camera. He glances down at Cas to see him staring contently out at the lake in front of them, rubbing his cheek slightly against Dean’s shoulder. Dean hesitates then wraps an arm around Cas’s shoulders, relieved when Cas either doesn’t notice or doesn’t mind the touch.

“You know,” Dean murmurs after a while. “I should pick out some photos. Get them printed. There’s a few that would look pretty good in the diner. My house, too.”

Cas looks up at him in surprise, raising his eyebrows.

“I’d pay for them, of course,” Dean smiles. “Artists should always be paid for their work. Especially yours. Your work is really something, Cas.”

Cas pulls back to look at him, as if checking to see if he’s actually telling the truth or messing with him. A smile stretches slowly across his face and his eyes light up.

“Really?” he signs. “If I can find a computer to edit them on, I can find a few that would match with the ambiance of the diner, edit them to black and white-”

“Ambiance?” Dean laughs. “Not sure the diner has any particular kind of ‘ambiance’. Just a bunch of crap thrown together in there...most of it’s stuff I found out in Bobby’s yard or that Rufus found at yard sales.”
“There’s definitely a theme,” Cas says with a frown. “It’s much more artistic in there than you’re making it sound.”

“Whatever you say.”

Cas shakes his head. “No,” he signs, “I have some perfect ones in mind. You’ll see.”

Dean smiles and stretches out on the grass, pillowing his head with his arms. “I’ll trust your judgement, Cas. Pick out whichever ones you want.”

Cas grins and nods, already flipping back through his camera, his tongue slightly poking out. Dean stares up at the trees. Occasionally someone passes by, giving them a quick glance before continuing on.

“I have a computer you can use,” Dean murmurs, closing his eyes. “It’s mostly used for porn anyway. Be nice to use it for something artsy.”  

Cas is staring at him fondly when he opens his eyes again, giving him a sideways smile.

“Porn can be artsy,” he signs, and Dean snorts. His automatic response would have been to make a crude comment about how seeing Cas that way would constitute as his idea of art, but he doesn’t.

“Yeah, well. Anyway. I’ll boot it up for you when we get back to the house.” He rolls to his side and props himself up on his elbow. “You are staying again, right?”

Cas shrugs and nods, and Dean smiles at him.

“Good.”

Cas grins and raises the camera again, but Dean manages to put his hand up in front of him before Cas snaps the photo. Cas makes a face at him before cycling through to the picture, then laughs silently.

Dean watches him, grinning softly and thinking he’s found the most adorable guy in the world. Cas is too innocent for this world and Dean is astounded that innocence has lasted so long. He’d have thought the streets would have beaten it out of him years ago. Dean has this overwhelming urge to protect him, feed and take care of him, make it so Cas never has to worry again.

“Hey.”

Cas looks up and blinks, tilting his head.

“Want some lunch?”

Cas licks his lips and nods, smiling shyly.

Dean smiles back. “Awesome. I want tacos. You like tacos? We’re getting tacos.”

Cas just smiles.

----

The drive back to Dean's was mostly quiet as Cas cycled through his photos.  It started raining halfway back, large raindrops splattering loudly against the windshield and shining against the blacktop road. Dean parks as close to the house as he can manage and they run to the door, Cas tucking the camera under his shirt for protection.

They both break into laughter as they close the door behind him, Dean's laugh breaking through the silence as he leans back against the closed door.

Cas set his camera to the side and then he was on him, fingers pressing into Dean's hips as he molds himself to his front. Dean's laugh fades as Cas presses their lips together, and then it was just him and Cas, the rain forgotten, the fact that they were dripping all over the floor in the back of Dean's mind.

Dean’s back presses up against the door, the knob digging in, but he hardly notices it. His hands find Cas’s hair and thread through the wet strands, even though he itched to feel the rest of the lithe body currently pressed up against him. And said body feels incredible .

Dean almost groans when Cas very tentatively parts his lips. Dean gently lets his tongue slip inside and sighs when he slides along Cas’s, his hands dipping down to a wet neck. The fingers on his hips dig in ever so slightly and as they pull away, Dean smiles at the very flushed face in front of him.

“Hm,” he hums, thumbs sliding just under Cas’s jaw, and stares into dilated blue eyes. “Did we like that, beautiful?”

Cas looks down as the blush spreads across his cheeks, then finally nods. Dean's hands slide down to Cas’s hips, thumbs pressing into the skin under his shirt.

Cas looks back up at him through his lashes, hair flopped onto his forehead and rain dripping from the ends. He reaches up and runs the tip of a finger over Dean's nose ring, then down over his labret piercing. He slowly leans forward again to brush their lips together, sighing into the kiss.

Dean wants to sink into it eagerly, but he knows himself too well. He can’t lose control and risk scaring Cas off. He lets Cas set the pace and sighs when he opens up for him again, Cas’s tongue poking shyly at his. Dean pulls him closer, their hips flush together, his fingers digging into Cas’s hips. He feels along the sharp hipbone and wishes he could see those pretty hips in all their glory.

He nips at Cas’s tongue as they pull away again, then his bottom lip, and his head hits the door with a soft thunk . Dean closes his eyes, breathing deeply and working to calm his quickly flowing blood as it all wanted to pool to the south. He has no idea how Cas would react to a boner and it wouldn’t help his situation of trying to keep his hands to himself. Even now his fingers are inching below Cas’s waistband before he notices and slides them back up.

Dean presses his tongue to the back of his teeth, his eyes scanning up and down as Cas steps back slowly and takes a deep breath, gripping the hem of his shirt. His eyes widen when Cas pulls the wet shirt over his head and drops it to the floor.

“Cas, what-"

Cas steps forward and takes Dean's hands, putting them on his hips and moving to press their lips together again.

“Cas, wait. What- what are you doing?”

Cas freezes, furrowing his brow and looking down with a shrug.

“I just thought,” he signs, “I don't know. I'm sorry.”

Dean takes his hands when Cas fumbles with his shirt to put it back on and lets the wet material drop to the floor with a splat. “Cas, baby, wait,” he says softly, squeezing those trembling fingers between his own. “Hey…” he smiles and bumps their foreheads together, wet hair clinging to their skin, “We don’t have to do anything, even if you think I want it. Now...don’t get me wrong. I’m, uh...very much liking what I’m seeing. Probably a little too much. But I don’t want you to force yourself just to please me or something.”

Cas doesn’t answer, looking down nervously and refusing to meet Dean’s gaze.

“What I’m saying,” Dean says, tilting Cas’s chin up. “Is that...while I do want to see you, touch you...I only want that when and if you want it.”

Cas holds his breath, finally looking up at Dean, blue eyes searching his face.

“But you’re-" he signs, skimming his teeth over his bottom lip, “you're giving me a job, a place to live-"

“Cas, you don't owe me anything," Dean huffs, shaking his head. “I'm doing this because I want to help you. Not because I'm expecting anything from you. Do you understand?”

Cas bites at his lip and finally nods.

“Good.” Dean leans in a kisses Cas chastely, despite the urge to push Cas up against the wall and give him a real kiss. He pulls away and sighs, his fingers caressing the smooth skin of Cas’s hip. “As good as you look half naked and wet, do you want some dry clothes now?”

Cas looks down and nods, tugging absently at Dean’s shirt. Dean smiles and takes Cas’s hand, pulling towards the bedroom. Cas stands a bit awkwardly as Dean rummages for clothes and silently decides that he’s going to have to buy Cas something or else he was going to go through his clothes pretty quickly.

“Almost a shame to cover up all that pretty,” Dean says, winking at Cas as he hands him a bundle of clothes.

Cas stands with one arm across his bare chest, holding the other arm. He smiles shyly and takes the clothes, disappearing into the bathroom to change.

Dean plops down on the edge of his bed with a sigh, scrubbing a hand down his face and staring longingly at the door. He tries not to imagine anything below that flat stomach and sharp hip bones, how good Cas would look laid out beneath him, especially since he'd literally just told the guy not to think about it.

Cas emerges a moment later and Dean raises his eyebrows and stands, making a conscious effort not to check him out. It's ridiculous he has to tell himself not to when all the guy wore was sweatpants and a Zeppelin tee, but something about Cas wearing his clothes does things to him.

Dean smiles at Cas and grabs a towel from the bathroom, draping it over Cas’s wet head. “Don’t want you gettin’ sick on me,” he murmurs and Cas grins up at him. While he dries off his hair, Dean quickly changes into something dry as well. Dry being an old shirt and his kilt.

“Just to make you happy,” he smirks at Cas, tugging on the sides of the kilt. “Don’t ever say I didn’t do anything for you.”

He notes, very pleased, that Cas is working hard not to stare. Seems his silent friend really does have a thing for the kilt and Dean isn’t ashamed to admit that he would use that to his advantage.

“So what now?” Dean asks him, and Cas tilts his head and takes his hand, leading him back out into the living room. He picks up his camera and holds it up in question.

“Right. Hold on.” Dean fetches his laptop and boots it up, sitting it on the coffee table. Cas searches the pockets of his jacket and pulls out a card reader, sitting cross-legged on the floor and plugging it in, then slipping the card from his camera into the slot. He opens the folder and starts scrolling through what looks like thousands of pictures, his brow furrowed in concentration. He clicks on one, a picture of an old Caprice from Bobby's salvage yard that he's been slowly restoring for the past year. He grins and looks at Dean, pointing at the screen.

“Hey, that's a pretty sweet shot,” Dean says sincerely, leaning down to investigate it further. “Seriously, Cas. You have a gift, man.”

Cas blushes and looks away, fiddling with some of the settings on the photo and applying a vintage filter, then adjusting the lighting. Suddenly the photo looks like something straight out of an old history book or something, and Dean raises his brows.

“Wow. That's...awesome.”

Cas grins. “I thought it would look nice in the diner,” he signs. “I could blow it up and hang it above the kitchen window.”

Dean grins and nods, looking over the beautiful done photo. “It would be the best part of the whole place,” he signs. “It’s almost too good to hang in my rundown diner.”

Cas shakes his head. “It’s perfect for your diner.”

Dean smiles and pats Cas’s knee. “If you say so, angel.”

Cas nods firmly and cycles through a few more pictures before stopping at one of Baby. Dean sucks in a breath at how beautiful she looks, shining under the sun, a sleek black thing standing out against the dusty background. Cas got her at the perfect angle, showing her in all her glory.

“I want to do this one, too,” Cas signs. “Haven’t decided what edits to put on it yet.”

“That’s amazing, Cas,” Dean gives him a kiss on the cheek, enjoying the blush that spreads across Cas’s face. “I definitely need that in the diner, too.”

They spend the next half hour cycling through pictures, Dean choosing a few more to hang around the diner and even a couple for the house. Cas was right about having plenty that would fit the ambiance of the diner, and somehow Dean thought the car photos would actually pull together the theme he hadn't realized the old place exuded.

Dean's phone rings as Cas is finishing up with the computer, and he pulls his phone out of his pocket and checks the ID.

“Heya, Sammy. Get in okay?”

“Besides having to wait for my luggage for over an hour, no issues,” Sam answers tiredly. “But I'm in the apartment now, just unpacking. What have you been up to today?”

“Ah, not much,” Dean says nonchalantly, and he holds his pointer up at Cas, who nods before returning his attention back to the laptop. Dean gets up and retreats to the bedroom, cracking the door behind him. “Actually, I've, uh. Just been spendin’ the day with Cas."

A pause. “Really?”

“Yeah. We went back to Falls Park and he took some more photos and we just picked out several for the diner. You should see ‘em, Sammy. He's really good.”

“You're gonna… decorate the diner.”

Dean feels his face redden slightly. “Well, I mean… just a few photos.”

“Right…”

“What’s wrong with decorating the diner?” Dean frowns at his wall as he plops down on the bed.

“Nothin’...just, you’ve never shown interest before.”

Dean shrugs and tugs at his shirt. “Yeah, well. Now I am.”

“This have anything to do with the hot photographer?”

“The pictures are good, Sam. And I’m paying for them.”

“Okay, okay. Just surprised is all.”

Dean sighs and falls onto his back, his legs kicking off the the edge. “Offered him a job.”

“Seriously? Dean, that’s...I mean, you barely know him.”

“So? He’s nice and needs the money.”

“So he’s taking it?”

Dean rolls his eyes. “Yeah, why wouldn’t he?”

He hears some shuffling. “I dunno. You sure it’s...you know, safe?”

Dean frowns. “What do you mean?”

“Well, Dean, I-" Sam sighs. “I don't know, it's just… well, for one, like I said, you barely know the guy. And two, people may not… you know, people can just be… really mean, sometimes.”

“I don't think Cas would have taken the job if he didn't think he could handle it.”

“Right, but most people don't know ASL, and I'm just not sure how he's gonna-"

“We will figure it out,” Dean says firmly, glancing over at the door.

“Alright, man,” Sam sighs heavily. “Just don’t push things with this guy. I know you, Dean. You’ll get hung up and then either you’ll get bored, or he’ll leave, and either way someone gets hurt.”

“Okay, Samantha,” Dean grumbles. “I don’t need any lectures. Just tryna to help the guy out a little, that’s all.”

“Fine, fine,” Sam says. “Look, I was just callin’ to to let you know I was here. I gotta get settled and prepare for class tomorrow. I’ll talk to you later.”

“See ya, bitch,” Dean smiles.

He can almost hear the bitch face through the phone. “Whatever, jerk.”

Dean hangs up and grunts as he pulls himself up from the bed. He slips back out into the living room to find Cas perusing his movie collection. He looks up at Dean and smiles, holding up Titanic . Dean laughs and nods, plucking the movie from Cas’s hand.

“Alright. Chick flick it is then.”

They settle onto the couch, Dean on one end with one leg up on the couch and an arm thrown over the back. Cas sits on the other end, pulling his knees up to his chest again and resting his chin on top.

Cas is enthralled through the first half of the movie, and Dean doesn't miss how he sits up a little straighter when Leonardo DiCaprio is on the screen… not that he can blame him. When the first DVD ends, Dean changes it out for the second, and he spends the majority of the second half watching Cas instead of the screen. He probably should have warned him about some of the sadder parts, but he doesn't complain when Cas slowly begins to migrate closer to Dean's side of the couch.

By the time the ship has sunk and Rose is taking up all that damn space on the door, Cas has his face pressed into Dean’s shoulder and is trying very hard to hide his tears. Dean doesn’t judge in the slightest, because truth be told, this part gets to him, too. Though he doesn’t react as strongly as Cas, but Cas seems to react strongly to most things anyway. For all his silence and secrets, Cas is bursting with emotion and Dean loves watching all his genuine reactions to every scene.

Dean looks down at his hand, clutched tightly in Cas’s, and squeezes as Rose whispers her ‘I won’t let go, Jack’. Cas buries his face in Dean’s shoulder.

“Want me to turn it off?” Dean asks softly.

Cas hesitates then shakes his head and continues to watch. He sighs in relief when the credits finally start to roll, sagging against Dean’s side.

“Look at you,” Dean teases with a small chuckle. “Remind me not to ever let you watch Brokeback Mountain .”

Cas shakes his head and tries to nonchalantly wipe tears from his eyes. Dean pretends not to notice.

“How is Sam?” he signs.

“He's good. Landed about an hour ago, getting all settled into his place.” Dean clears his throat. “He's, uh. Well, you know, he's been doing this for years now, he's used to all the back and forth, I guess.”

Cas frowns. “Are you?”

“Yeah,” Dean says unconvincingly, and Cas tilts his head knowingly. “Well. I don't know. It's always hard to see him go. But… he's doing good for himself, and he's gonna do great things. He's a smart kid.” He pauses and tongues the inside of his cheek. “Well, I guess he's not a kid anymore. But to me he'll always be my snot-nosed little brother.”

Cas smiles. “He seems nice,” he signs, then reaches out to take Dean's hand.

Dean blinks down at their hands and nods. “Ah, yeah. Sam’s a good guy. Kind of a know-it-all, but...most college goers are.”

Cas waves his free hand at Dean and raises a brow.

“Me? College?”

Cas nods.

“Nah,” Dean shakes his head and laces their fingers together. Cas’s hand feels good; warm and solid and surprisingly big. Dean is reminded on how much Cas could fill out if he could get some regular meals in him. “Wasn’t really one for school. Almost dropped out of high school a few times, but I somehow graduated. Once I was out, I was never going back. Besides, I’m not really book smart like Sam is.” Dean shrugs and smiles, sliding his thumb across Cas’s knuckles. “Always knew I’d either do something with cars or cooking, so I didn’t see much point in college.”

“I think you're really smart,” Cas signs, and now it's Dean's turn to blush.

“Nah,” he says dismissively, “doesn't take a genius to flip burgers on a grill.”

“You're very good at what you do,” Cas signs, “but that's not what I mean. You're very intelligent. I know.”

“Oh you do, do you?”

Cas smiles and nods, then laces their fingers together and lays his head on Dean's shoulder again.

“What about you, Cas?” Dean murmurs, laying his cheek on top of Cas’s head, their entwined hands resting on his thigh. “Ever do college?”

Cas shakes his head and Dean isn’t too surprised.

“So the photography stuff? You teach yourself that?

Cas nods and fiddles with Dean’s fingers, tugging and squeezing on them absently.

“That’s impressive,” Dean smiles, watching Cas smooth his fingers over Dean’s now open palm. “Must be all that natural talent.”

Cas huffs and fidgets with his shirt with his free hand, looking down at their entwined fingers. Finally he sits up, looking at Dean curiously.

“Why are you being so nice to me?” Cas signs, and Dean raises a brow.

“What?” he asks incredulously. “Cas-”

Cas shakes his head and waves his hand, cutting him off. “You barely know me. You’ve been very kind and I appreciate it, but I don’t understand. I’m homeless, jobless, and I-” he pauses, a hand falling to the collar of his shirt and pulling at it anxiously. He swallows hard. “I have nothing to offer you.”

Dean frowns and sits up a little straighter, resisting the urge to pull Cas in his lap and smooth down all that hair. “You have plenty to offer, Cas.”

Cas shakes his head and looks down, biting his lip. “No, I don’t. You’ve fed me, clothed me, and let me sleep here, and I can’t-there’s nothing I can offer in return.”

“Have I asked for anything in return?”

Cas furrows his brows. “No, but-”

“That’s because I don’t want anything,” Dean says with a sigh, taking Cas’s jittery hands and holding them gently. “Cas, I didn’t do all this to...to get anything from you. I just like you, plain and simple. Wanted to make sure you’re safe, so I offered you my home. You’re too damn skinny, so I fed you, and I like cooking anyway. You needed a job, so I gave you one.” He looks Cas in the eye. “I don’t wanna hear this nothing to offer bullshit either. You have more to offer than most people I’ve met.”

Cas stares pointedly down at their hands and presses his lips together.

“Hey.” Dean reaches up and tilts Cas’s chin up, forcing him to look at him. Even then, it’s a few seconds before Cas makes eye contact with him. “You hear me? I like you. Not for whatever you think you can or can’t do for me. Understand?”

Cas watches him for a moment then finally nods, and Dean pulls him forward and presses a kiss to his forehead.

“I like you too, you know,” Cas signs when he pulls away. “Like, a lot.”

Dean manages a little smirk and raises a brow. “Oh yeah? Even all the weirdness that comes with me?”

Cas smiles and nods, reaching up to run the pad of his finger over Dean’s labret piercing. “Yes, especially the weirdness.”

“It’s the kilt, isn’t it?” Dean teases, green eyes sparkling. “It’s my secret weapon. No one can resist its seductive powers.”

Cas breaks into his silent laugh, blushing all the way to his hair roots, and tugs at the edge of said kilt.

“It shows off my pretty legs,” Dean crosses his knees. “See, look at that. Pure muscle. I belong on the cover of a highlander romance novel.”

Cas nods his head in agreement, giving him a gummy smile. He leans over to the coffee table and grabs his camera, turning it over in his hands and turning it on.

“Oh, no no no, absolutely not,” Dean says defensively, trying to grab the camera from his hands. Cas smiles widely and holds it away from him, reaching further and further as Dean continues to lean over him. Finally Dean gives up and sits back with a huff, and Cas grins wider in triumph.

Dean crosses his arms over his chest. “Fine. How do you want me?”

Cas’s eyes widen marginally before he composes himself, and Dean smirks internally at the implication of his own words. Cas shakes his head slightly and furrows his brow in thought, tilting his head to the side. He smiles after a moment, standing and holding out his hand for Dean, who takes it and lets Cas lead him out his front door. He walks him over to Baby, letting Dean’s hand go in favor of opening the driver’s door, then he motions Dean inside.

Dean takes a seat in the Impala and lets Cas pose him, his right arm draped over the steering wheel and one leg out of the car, foot flat on the ground. The kilt falls between his legs to cover the majority of his thighs, and his boots come up to almost mid-calf. Cas moves his left arm to rest his hand naturally on his left thigh, then he adjusts Dean’s head, turning it to look out the driver’s door, but not directly at the camera. When he’s satisfied, he steps back, smiling softly as he gets into different positions to snap the pictures: a few from above, a few from his knees, and a few from various other angles.

He stops and starts cycling through the pictures, his smile widening as he does. He motions Dean over, pointing to the camera. Dean climbs out of the car and stands beside Cas, watching him more than the camera as Cas cycles through each picture. Cas is smiling from ear to ear, practically giddy, and Dean can’t possibly regret letting him take the pictures. Anything to put that smile on his face.

“Whoa, what was that?” Dean’s eyes dart to the camera. Cas blushes and waves it away, trying to push the button, but Dean bats his hand away.

“That’s my leg,” Dean laughs. “ Just my leg. I thought you were getting some artsy angle, but nah...you just wanted to a close up of my calf and thigh. You dirty birdy.”

Cas just grins and shrugs, not looking nearly as embarrassed about it as he probably should, despite the blush. He cycles back to some of the other photos and stops on one, and Dean tries to imagine it with some of the filters that he knows Cas can- and probably will- add to them. He has to admit that they look pretty cool, although he would hate for Sam or anybody at the diner to see them. Then again, he’s weirdly proud of them, and again he finds himself in awe of Cas’s eye for a good photo.

“I like this one a lot,” Cas signs. It’s one that he’d taken from closer to the front of the car, through the window of the open door, showcasing a good profile of his face.

“Mhmm,” Dean hums. “And what are you plannin’ to do with these, exactly?”

“Nothing, if you don’t want me to,” Cas signs with a shrug. “But I’ll definitely be keeping a few for myself.”

Dean normally would make a spank bank joke here, but he keeps it to himself and just nods with a smile. “Well, they ain’t goin’ in the diner. But you can do what you want with them.” He can’t resist and winks at Cas, getting another cute blush.

“You know what I haven’t seen?” Dean says once they’re back inside the house.

Cas raises a brow.

“Pictures of you,” Dean tugs at a strand of Cas’s hair. “Only one I’ve got is the one on my phone.”

“Don’t take pictures of me,” Cas signs with a shrug.

“And why not?”

Cas huffs and looks away, hands tightening around his camera. Dean tongues his cheek and slides his hand down the nape of Cas’s neck, squeezing gently.

“Maybe, one day, I can take some pictures of you…?” he raises a brow.

Cas presses his lips together, refusing to look at Dean.

“Please, Cas?” Dean whispers, thumb stroking tan skin. “Just a few. When you’re a little more comfortable.”

Cas stares down at his camera and finally shrugs after a few long moments, nodding once. “Maybe,” he signs, glancing up at Dean.

Dean smiles encouragingly and presses a soft kiss to Cas’s cheek. “Thank you.”

Cas mumbles but Dean doesn’t miss the shy smile he tries to hide by raising his camera up to his face and snapping yet another candid photo of Dean. They spend the rest of the day watching movies and eating junk food, and Cas falls asleep on the couch during the last half of Fight Club , tucked against Dean’s side. Dean considers staying there with him for the night but decides against it, not wanting Cas to feel uncomfortable. He covers him over with a blanket when he gets up a little after 1 a.m., then retreats to his own bedroom, cracking the door behind him.

Despite Sam’s departure that day, Dean falls asleep with a smile on his face and his heart a little fuller.

----

“Alright, Cas, so serving is real simple, okay? We have a small menu, and pretty much everyone who comes in here already knows what they want. You just write it down for me and stick it in the window. And if you have any questions, you can ask me or Benny or whoever else may be working that day.” Dean hands him the pad of paper, a pencil, and his apron, then scratches his cheek absently, raising a brow. “Any questions for me now?”

Cas chews his lip nervously but shakes his head. “I don’t think so.”

Dean smiles reassuringly and kisses Cas on the cheek because he just can’t help it . “Don’t be so nervous, angel. Most of my regulars are pretty nice, maybe a little weird. I only get a few grouches and Benny shuts them up pretty fast. Plus Charlie will be here, so she’ll help you out.”

Cas sighs and nods, trying to put on a brave smile. Dean claps him on the shoulder then retreats into the kitchen to get the stove warmed up and take count of the eggs. He ordered extra, but it never hurt to be sure.

“Got a new hire, chief?”

Benny’s deep voice brought Dean’s head out of the walk-in fridge. “Yeah. He needed money, so…” Dean shrugs then closes the fridge door.

“You’re always lookin’ after people, Dean,” Benny smiles as he ties on his apron. “When you gonna let someone look after you?”

“You offerin’?”

Benny scoffs. “I’m serious, man.”

“When I can’t piss on my own anymore.”

Benny pulls a face and shakes his head. “You always got such a way of sayin’ things…”

Dean grins and walks back over to the grill and sprinkles on some olive oil then cracks a few eggs, making the three of them some breakfast before the paying customers started coming in. Bobby usually has a full schedule on Mondays, and he expects the place will be packed in the next hour. He glances up at Cas arranging and rearranging the sugar caddies and checking the ketchups and smiles to himself. The poor guy is so nervous, despite the fact that Dean assured him he was going to be fine a handful of times already that morning.

“Cas.”

Cas jerks his head up, eyes wide, wringing his hands together.

“Relax, sweetheart. I’m here to help if you need me.”

Cas nods and rolls his shoulders back, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, but it doesn’t stop him from looking expectantly at the door every few moments.

“Sweetheart?” Benny raises his eyebrows as he starts slicing the oranges for garnish, and Dean glances back at him before turning his attention back to the grill, which he was only paying half attention to while he watched Cas.

“Yeah.”

“Somethin’ you wanna tell me, boss?”

Dean glances over his shoulder at Benny and shrugs. “Not unless you’re gonna give me a hard time about it like Sam did.”

There’s a pause. “Nah, brother. You know I’m not like that.”

Dean is silent for a moment as he scrambles up more eggs. “We’re...I dunno. A thing.”

“A thing?”

Dean bobs his head. “Yeah. I think, anyway. It’s...weird. He’s not, uh, experienced-“

Ah.”

“-And isn’t...very active .”

“Mmhmm.”

“But we seem to get along,” Dean shrugs, flipping a pancake. “He’s...really great, Benny. Sweet, shy, but... comfortable. It’s relaxing.”

“Relaxing?”

“Yeah, like…” Dean rolls his shoulders as he plates a stack of pancakes. “We don’t really have to try with each other. We just hang out and it’s easy. He’s super talented with a camera. And he loves music, movies…”

“But...he’s not…” Benny lowers his voice, “sexual.”

Dean sighs and lowers his voice. “Yes and no. We’ve kissed, but…”

“Is he just...like, not interested in that sort of thing?”

“I don’t really know,” Dean admits, watching Cas wipe down the tables for probably the fifth time since they’d arrived. “I mean, all he’s really said is that he’s never had a connection with anyone before. Like maybe-”

“He’s waitin’ for the right one to come along?” Benny snorts, and Dean rolls his eyes.

“Sounds cliche when you say it like that, but...maybe. I don’t know. I get the feelin’ he doesn’t open up to many people. He has family, but he doesn’t really seem close to ‘em, and I’ve never heard him mention friends.”

Benny’s silent for awhile, and Dean finishes with his bacon and eggs and sits the plate in the window. “Heya, Cas, come on here and get somethin’ to eat. Don’t want you gettin’ hungry on me in the middle of the morning rush.”

Cas appears in the window after a moment and takes the plate with a grateful smile. He turns and sits it on the bar and digs in, and Dean doesn’t realize the lovesick smile on his own face until Benny comes up beside him with the tub of oranges and nudges him with a snicker.

“Well, alright, sweetheart, I’m gonna go have a smoke before the first customers of the day.”

“What happened to not givin’ me shit?”

Benny laughs and claps him on the back. “I’m just messin’ with you, cher. If he makes ya happy, well then, I’m happy for ya.”

Dean smiles, thinking that Cas does make him happy, which is a little scary since he’s only known the guy for a few days.

He chuckles when Cas jumps from his stool as a car drives up, breakfast only half eaten, and quickly starts digging for his pad and pencil.

“Relax, angel,” Dean waves his hand dismissively. “That’s just Charlie. Finish your breakfast.”

Cas sighs in relief and sinks back down into his stool, scooping up a forkful of eggs. Charlie walks in a second later, the bell jingling. She gives Cas a curious glance as she comes around the counter.

“You open early, Dean?” she asks, turning to the window.

“Nah, that’s Cas,” Dean smiles as he whips up eggs and bacon for himself. “My new employee.”

“And sweetheart!” Benny yells from outside.

Charlie smirks and turns to look at Cas, who is blushing deeply and staring down at his pancakes.

“I'm Charlie,” she says brightly.

Cas's eyes widen slightly and he looks over at Dean.

“Oh, right, yeah, she's not as good with the sign language.” Dean flounders and gestures awkwardly to her, then scratches the back of his head.

Cas pulls out his pad and writes something down, passing it to Charlie. She reads it and smiles, then pulls him in for a hug, which he reciprocates after the surprise wears off.

“It's nice to meet you too, Cas,” she says when she pulls away, and he smiles. “So how'd you come to work for Dean here?”

Cas goes red again and looks down, fidgeting with the corner of his notepad.

“I flirted and he was mine,” Dean says with a smirk. Charlie snorts and throws him a look.

“That doesn’t explain why he’s working in this dump,” she leans against the counter and folds her arms.

“This is not a dump ,” Dean scoffs, offended. “This is a dive . There’s a difference, missy.”

“You sure you wanna put up with this, Cas?” Charlie turns to him and smiles. “He gets worse as the day goes on.”

Cas smiles a little and shrugs a shoulder, then writes down on his pad. He holds it up to Charlie and she blinks as she reads.

“So he really did flirt?”

Cas blushes and nods, looking down at his plate. Charlie laughs and runs a hand through her red hair. “Well, I definitely believe he’s helping you out. Dean likes to help people. He’s a shameless flirt and a whore, but he’s good people.”

“Hey!”

“You can’t argue with any of that,” Charlie says, grabbing an apron and tying it on. “You’re a nice guy, but you tend to think with that thing between your legs.”

“Don’t knock it ‘til you try it,” Dean smirks.

Charlie makes a face and shudders. “Ugh, no thank you.”

“Right, I forgot,” Dean scoffs and playfully smacks himself in the forehead.

“Don't be mad that I'm the only one who won't sleep with you.”

Ugh ,” Dean groans, “be like sleeping with my sister.”

Cas is pointedly looking down at his pancakes, like he has the entire conversation. Charlie pats him gently on the shoulder and gives him a smile.

“Don't worry, blue eyes, I'm not into Dean because I'm not into guys. And he's really not that bad,” she assures him. “I mean, I’ve slept with way more women than he has.” She learns in close to whisper: “And a couple of the same ones.”

“What?!”

She pops into the window with a grin. “Oh, yeah, Winchester. You're not the only one with the gift around here.”

“I don't believe you." Dean slaps the grill nervously with the spatula, casting a glance at Cas, who looks mostly neutral.

“Then why don't you ask Jo where she was last night?” Charlie says confidently with a smirk and walks away, leaving Dean staring open- mouthed after her.

“...no wonder she never came looking for your head on a platter,” Benny chuckles as he steps back into the kitchen. “She was busy.”

Dean grumbles, casting another nervous glance at Cas, who is poking at the last few bites of his pancake with his fork. Shit, maybe working here isn’t the best idea. He didn’t think about all the shit talk these two can do.

“Yeah, real fun,” Charlie giggles. “Maybe you’ve lost your touch, Dean.”

Dean squawks and slaps the spatula down again. “What?!”

“Maybe you just can’t please them anymore,” Charlie shrugs.

Dean flares at her and opens his mouth to prove just how much he can please them, but promptly shuts it with a look at Cas. He sighs and walks around to the bar, tapping on the plate.

“Done, angel?” he asks softly. Cas just nods and pushes the plate towards him. Dean bites his lip and tilts his head towards Charlie.

“She’s just talkin’ trash, okay?” Dean licks his lips. “I, uh, don’t get around that much.”

Cas looks up at him and forces a smile, nodding his head stiffly and waving a dismissive hand.

“Really, Cas, I-”

“It’s fine, Dean,” he signs, but his smile is strained and resigned and he picks up his pad and pencil and walks around to the other side of the bar, sitting down on one of the stools to face the door.

Dean presses his lips together and picks up the plate, bumping Charlie hard and throwing her a look on his way to the kitchen.

“What?!” she hisses quietly, following him into the kitchen. “I’m just messin’ around-”

“Yeah, but he doesn’t know that,” Dean bites back, depositing the plate into the sink and spraying it with water. “Look, I really like this guy, and I don’t want to screw it up, so don’t make it harder for me not to.” He slams the plate into the plastic dishwasher rack and turns to her, crossing his arms over his chest. “Could you just please, for once, not act like I’ve been with the entire state of South Dakota? It’s not helping my case.”

“I’m not gonna lie to him-“

“Not asking you to lie , Charlie,” Dean snaps. “I’m just asking you not to exaggerate.”

Charlie raises a brow, thinking it really isn’t much of an exaggeration, but sighs and finally nods. “Whatever, man. But if you actually like this guy, maybe being honest isn’t such a bad idea. Yes, I know-don’t give me that look-I know you haven’t actually been with the entire state of South Dakota. I’m just saying…”

“Yeah, Yeah, I got it,” Dean waves his hand around. “Let’s just drop it. This is his first day. Thanks to you probably his last day, too. Will you just help him out? Make sure he doesn’t get too flustered?”

Charlie nods and smiles. “Sure, I’ll look after the poor guy.”

“Thanks.” Dean pulls her in and kisses her forehead. “ Game of Thrones marathon at my place this weekend?”

“You got it.”

----

The diner was filled to capacity and then some within the next half hour, and Dean was pleased to see that Cas more than handled his own. No one seemed to take issue with the fact that he was nonverbal, and in fact, they all seemed to really take to him. But then, Dean had spent the last couple of days with the guy, and as he’d told Benny, it’s just easy to be around him. He has a gentleness and understanding about him that Dean had never really seen before.

The breakfast rush dwindles about two hours in, the only ones left being Ash and Missouri. Dean shucks his apron and walks around to the bar, tapping Cas on the shoulder as he pours Missouri another cup of coffee.

“Take a break, gorgeous. You deserve it.”

Cas gives him a smile and hesitates briefly before giving him a peck on the cheek, and even in all its innocence Dean finds himself blushing as Cas walks around to the back of the diner.

“Mmmhmmm,” Missouri hums knowingly as she takes a sip of her coffee.

“What?”

“You really goin’ for it, then? Don’t you go breakin’ that sweet boy’s heart, Dean. I’ll hunt you down and whoop you good.” She glares at him over the rim of her mug.

“Why does everyone assume I’m gonna break his heart?” Dean frowns at her, hands on his hips. “You think so little of me, Missouri?”

She sets her mug down and levels him with a stare. “Now don’t take that tone with me, sugar. Everyone here knows you’re a good boy, but you’re a shameless flirt, Dean Winchester.”

“And that means I’m gonna hurt him?”

“No,” she says, tapping her finger on the surface of the counter. “It just means you’re not used to monogamy.”

Dean huffs and stomps back into the kitchen, wishing for the first time he could just go home. He’s suddenly realizing what people really think of him and he’s not in the mood their opinions anymore. Sure, he likes sex and is always ready for it with a willing partner, but he’s never made false promises to anyone. He’s always made it clear that it’s casual, no strings attached.

And Cas still planned to leave eventually. If anyone's heart was to be broken here, Dean was fairly certain it'd be his own.

“You know it takes two to have a good time,” Dean says grimly through the window. “You’d be surprised how many promiscuous women and men are in this town. I’m not the only one gettin’ around.”

“Honey, I didn’t mean-“

Dean waves her off and pulls off his apron. “Benny, I’m takin’ five,” he says curtly.

Benny watches him closely and nods as Dean disappears into the back. He glances at Missouri and sighs.

Cas is around back, squatted against the wall, his head back and eyes closed. He looks up at Dean when he rounds the corner and smiles.

Dean can't help but smile back despite his mood. “So? How are you liking it so far?”

“It's nice to be working,” Cas signs. “I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity.”

Dean scoffs and reaches out to take his hand, hauling him to his feet. “No, thank you for hanging around a little longer.” He cups Cas's face in his hands and pulls him in for a kiss, running his tongue teasingly along the seam of his lips. He bumps their foreheads together when he pulls away, and Cas sighs and closes his eyes.

“I'm glad you're here, Cas. I'm glad you're giving me a chance. Uh, this a chance, I mean.”

Cas opens his eyes and looks at Dean closely, his head tilting to the side. “Are you sure you really want me here?”

Dean blinks and leans back, eyebrows furrowing. “Yeah, Cas. Of course I want you here.”

“I don’t…” Cas pauses, “I don’t want to hold you back.”

“Hold me back from what?”

Cas shrugs and looks away, sighing slightly. Dean bites his lip and reaches up to cup Cas’s cheek.

“Is this about what everyone’s been sayin’?” he murmurs. Cas shrugs again.

“Cas, I don’t wanna make you uncomfortable,” Dean looks down briefly. “I want you to know, though, that you’re not a...notch on the bedpost or anything like that. None of this is to get you naked. I honestly just...care.”

“About me.”

Dean blinks. “Yeah. Yeah, of course.”

“Why?”

“Cas, we've been over this-"

“Humor me.”

Dean pauses and sighs, brushing his thumb across Cas’s cheek. “Because… you're special. Because...I don't know. It feels like you can offer me more. I feel like I can be myself around you and you like me because of it. Or maybe… despite it, sometimes.” He huffs a laugh.

“I think you think too highly of me,” Cas signs.

“No. No, don't do that. Don't downplay it.” Dean slides his hand around to tangle in the back of Cas’s unruly hair. “With the others… we knew what it was. Both of us, every time. With you, that's… well, I'd be lying to say it hasn't crossed my mind. But I want to be around you whether that happens or not. And honestly, that's… never happened before.”

Cas bites his lip, eyes flitting to Dean's lips then back up to his eyes.

Dean smiles slightly, a quirk of the lips, and squeezes the back of Cas’s neck. “I want...you. Just you.” He slides his thumb over Cas’s jaw. “Is that okay?”

Cas swallows and smiles, nodding slowly. His eyes dart to Dean’s mouth again before he looks back up, blushing. Dean is smirking now and he leans in close. “You wanna kiss me, sweetheart?”

Cas gets redder and nods jerkily.

“So what’s stopping you?”

Cas huffs and leans forward, crushing their mouths together in a heated kiss that catches Dean a little off guard. He moans and presses close, pushing Cas up against the wall as his hands tangle in dark, wild hair.

When they pull away for air, Dean braces himself against the wall behind Cas, their foreheads still pressed together and lips just barely brushing. Cas's hands are gripping Dean's shirt at his hips and he relaxes them slightly, letting his head fall back against the wall.

Dean licks his lips and clears his throat, then swallows hard, throat dry.

“I mean it, Cas,” Dean tilts his head marginally to the side, his eyes trained on Cas’s. “I just want you.”

Cas blinks and nods, scraping his top teeth over his bottom lip.

“C'mon. Let's go back inside.”

Cas nods and takes Dean’s offered hand, letting himself be dragged back into the diner. Missouri and Ash are still there, and now Kevin is setting up for what looked to be all day and all nighter.

“Want a whole pot, Kev?” Dean asks as they step inside.

He gets a grunt in response. Dean chuckles and starts up a fresh pot before turning to Cas, kissing him on the cheek. “It’s a good time to start cleaning up before the lunch rush shows up. And you might wanna use the bathroom real quick before you lose the chance.”

Cas nods and high tails it to the restroom, and Dean slips back into the kitchen to help Benny finish up the cleaning.

The rest of the day breezes by and they stay decently busy, as Dean had predicted it would be, much like any other Monday. Tuesdays weren’t quite as busy, since Bobby opened a couple hours later than the rest of the week. Mondays were crazy, and as such, Monday nights were reserved for drinking. Ash got tired of having to handle the entire shop by himself until Bobby was able to drag his alcohol-soaked self out of bed and make himself presentable, so Bobby finally caved and agreed to open the shop late. Dean thought it would have been much easier to just ease up on the bottle on Monday nights, but there’s no way in hell he’d tell Bobby that.

Cas sags in relief when Dean finally locks the front door, depositing all his tips from his apron on the bar and flattening out the dollar bills, eyes widening a little as he realizes how much he’d had in there. He starts putting them in a neat stack and Dean walks up behind him, wrapping his arms around his waist and resting his chin on his shoulder, looking over at the money.

“Damn, you made a killin’,” he says. “Looks like you just came from the strip club.”

Cas blushes and inclines his head slightly to lay it against Dean’s. He pulls out his notepad and writes: “No one wants to see that.”

“You kiddin’ me? I would kill to see that.”

Cas gives his silent laugh and playfully pushes Dean away. Dean grins and starts wiping down the bar as Charlie sits at one of the tables and refills ketchups and sugar caddies. Cas shoves his money back in his apron and takes the tea urns to the back for bleaching, leaving Charlie and Dean to themselves.

“He did well today,” Charlie says easily, smiling up at Dean. Her hair is now thrown into a messy bun, which she often did about halfway through her shift, once she sweated enough that it made her hair stick to her face. “Maybe even better than Sam.”

Dean laughs and starts removing the nozzles from the soda machine and dropping them into warm, soapy water. “Gonna tell him you said that.”

“Whatever. I have months before I’ll see him again.”

“Sam never forgets, though,” Dean says with an eye roll.

“He’s too busy trying to be a lawyer,” Charlie shrugs. “His waiting days are behind him.”

Dean frowns down at the soaking nozzles, suddenly remembering why he hadn’t brought up the subject of Sam all day. It bothers him more than it should that his brother is essentially moving on from this life, moving on from Dean. Dean knew he would, of course, but knowing it and experiencing it are two different things.

“Guess so,” he mutters.

“Missin’ him already?”

Dean shrugs and wipes his hands on his apron. “Just not used to not havin’ the big dork around is all.”

Charlie looks at him knowingly, but doesn’t say anything more. Dean walks back into the kitchen to get the pile of dishes done, kissing Cas on the cheek as he steps up beside him.

Cas grins as he dumps the bleach water out of the tea urns and begins to spray them down, and Dean pauses and just watches him for a moment, until Cas looks back at him and raises a brow.

“You’re fucking gorgeous, you know that?”

Cas grins shyly again and looks away, and Dean smirks. Fuck , he really is falling hard and fast for the guy, and he can’t even find it in himself to worry about the implications of that. Before long, Cas would be leaving again, and Dean would be alone. No Cas, no Sam...just him. He can’t bear the thought.

He decides then and there that he wouldn’t let Cas go anywhere. He’d find a way to keep him in Sioux Falls. And not just for his and Sam’s bet, either.

Chapter Text

“What are you doing?”

Cas looks up from his spot on the floor in front of Dean’s coffee table, the laptop open and on some website Dean’s doesn’t pay close enough attention to to recognize.

“Pricing flights,” Cas signs simply, turning his attention back to the computer.

Dean feels his heart stop for a second and he has to shake it off, sitting down on the couch and keeping his face carefully neutral. “To, uh, where?” he asks, popping open his can of soda.

Cas shrugs. “Anywhere.”

Dean forces a smile even though Cas can’t see it. “Already bored with Sioux Falls, huh?”

Cas doesn’t answer at first, eyes trained on the screen. “I like to keep my options open.”

Dean swallows a mouthful of soda and coughs as it goes down the wrong pipe. He waves off Cas’s concerned look and beats on his chest a few times.

Damn it. That hurt more than it should. Maybe Dean wants Cas to stay, but it doesn’t mean Cas has any plans to.

“I’m good,” Dean says hoarsely. Cas eyes for a moment then turns back to the computer. Dean looks down at his drink, thumb sliding against the forming condensation, and thinks maybe it’s stupid of him to get hung up on the guy. Whatever he is feeling seems to be one sided and it will hurt a lot less when Cas leaves if Dean quits while he’s still ahead. “So, uh...any luck?”

Cas sighs and shakes his head, closing out of the page and shutting down the computer. Dean tries to tell himself not to be too happy about that, but it’s useless, and he smiles at him anyway when Cas plops down beside him on the couch.

“All so expensive,” he signs, and Dean shrugs.

“Looks like you’ll have to hang with me a little longer.”

Cas smiles at him and his eyes light up, which dammit , gives Dean more hope than he needs right now.

“I’m okay with that,” Cas signs. He looks at Dean for a long moment, then finally points at his hair, purple today, which he doesn’t use often. “I meant to tell you earlier, I like that color.”

Dean’s eyes flit up as if he could actually look at the top of his head. “Oh yeah? Me, too. Should wear it more often. Stands out a bit more.”

He pats gently at his hair and smiles. “I should color yours. Wouldn’t even have to style it. You’ve already got the sex hair goin’.”

Cas’s eyes widen and his hands go to his hair, messing it up even more, and Dean laughs. “Yeah, you look like you’ve just had the best night of your life.”

Cas blushes deeply and waves his hands around, as if he can’t think of what to sign.

“Don’t worry about it,” Dean winks. “It looks good on you. Drives me crazy, actually. You really know how to test my resolve.”

His words do nothing for the blush on Cas’s cheeks, and he finally manages to sign “stop that”.

“Never,” Dean grins, tapping him on the knee and motioning him over. “Come here.”

Cas slides over and Dean expects him to maybe tuck himself into the crook of his arm, if anything, but to his surprise- and maybe a little to Cas’s, too- Cas braces his hands on Dean’s shoulders and throws a leg over his lap, slowly lowering himself down. Dean’s eyes widen slightly and his hands come to rest on Cas’s hips as Cas leans down and kisses him, fingers moving up to card through his hair.

The kiss turns into something deep and heated quickly, the hands in Dean’s hair tightening and pulling. Dean’s fingers dig into Cas’s hips, slipping just underneath the waistband of his pajama bottoms. Their tongues slot together, tasting with increasing eagerness. Cas feels good in his lap, a solid weight that fits perfectly, warm and snug against him as they lose themselves. They break only for a second to breathe before diving back in.

Dean forgets himself for a moment, allows himself to feel and fantasize, to touch and roam, and his body responds to it. He gradually becomes aware of the increasing pressure in his groin, and he rips himself away from Cas’s too-tempting lips. Dean pants heavily, clutching to Cas’s hips, and closes his eyes as he leans his back on the cushions of the couch. He breathes deep, trying to rein it all in.

“What, uh. What are we doing here, Cas?”

Cas's face is flushed and he's panting slightly, looking down at Dean with hooded eyes. He shakes his head, trying to shift out of Dean's lap, but he holds him in place.

“No, no, I'm not- Cas, I don't have a problem with it. That's… just it, actually.” Dean sighs and presses his thumbs into Cas's hips. “I just mean… you're leaving.”

Cas sighs and nods, and Dean's heart drops again.

“There's nothing for me here,” he signs, and Dean frowns. “Nothing for me anywhere."

I'm here.”

“For now,” Cas signs, and this time he does move, pulling his knees to his chest beside Dean.

“I...don't understand.”

Cas huffs, looking down. “I’m not easy,” he signs.

Dean quirks a brow. “I think we’ve established that-”

Cas smiles slightly. “That’s not what I mean.”

Dean frowns and shifts to face Cas, bending a leg on the cushions. “Then what do you mean, exactly?”

Cas shrugs and shakes his head. “People don’t tend to want to stay around me.”

Dean’s jaw clenches and he looks away briefly, unsure if he’s angry at all the assholes who mistreated Cas or at Cas for thinking so little of him.

“Have I given you any reason to think I’m gonna leave?” Dean finally asks, looking back at Cas. “And don’t say because I’m the town flirt. That shit’s not gonna work. I want a real reason.”

Cas gives him a look and signs jerkily. “That’s real enough for me. You’ll get tired of me-”

Stop .” Dean growls, grabbing Cas’s hands and pushing them down. “I don’t know what others have done to you, Cas, how they’ve treated you. Maybe one day, if you tell me, I can hunt them all down and kick their ass. But until then, I need you listen to me when I say I’m not one of them. I don’t know how else to say it, Cas, I like you . A lot. More than the word ‘like’ is really sufficient for. I’m not gonna get tired of you and I’m not plannin’ on leaving. So far, you’re the only one who’s a flight risk.”

Cas stares at him. “The talking thing-”

“Not a problem for me.”

“For now,” Cas signs again. “No one ever thinks it’s a problem until it is.”

Dean doesn’t really know what to say to that, so he just sits there, his hands fidgeting in his lap.

“But it’s not just that,” Cas continues, “it’s also my photography. And it’s also the fact that I’ve been traveling alone since I was seventeen, and I don’t know how not to. I don’t know if I could stay here, even if there was work here.”

Dean shakes his head, lips pressed together. “Those are just excuses, Cas. I’m not sayin I don’t want to travel so you can do your photography. I’m just saying...you don’t have to do it the hard way. You can...work here, at the diner. Whenever you want the time off, I’ll give it to you.”

“Until you get tired of me-“

Damn it, Cas,” Dean grabs his hands again and holds them in his lap. “Don’t make assumptions about me. And don’t let others influence what you think you know about me. If I say I’m not gonna get tired of you, then I won’t. End of discussion.”

Cas is silent for awhile, looking down at their hands. Finally he laces them together and gives Dean an unsure smile.

“Okay?” Dean prompts, and Cas nods, pulling his hands away to sign.

“I'm sorry. Just… not used to hearing things like that.”

“Yeah, well, get used to it, angel,” Dean says gruffly, then smiles back. “I'm in the habit of holding onto things I really want.”

Cas blushes and looks down briefly before signing, “You want me.”

Dean blinks then smiles again, a little teasingly, and chuckles lowly. “Uh, yeah. It thought that was...pretty clear.”

Cas shrugs and runs a finger up Dean’s leg. An innocent touch, but one that has Dean’s eyes tracking the movement. “You’ve just never said it,” Cas signs.

Dean hums and rests a hand on the side of Cas’s neck, feeling the warm skin and slightly fast pulse underneath. “Well. I want you.”

“I want you, too,” Cas signs, frowning. “And I don't know...I… I've never felt like this about anyone before. I don't know what to do.”

Dean shrugs. “Me either. But we'll figure it out together. How's that sound?”

Cas smiles and nods, taking Dean's hands again.

“I’m only interested in whatever makes you comfortable, Cas,” Dean says after a moment of thoughtful silence. “Despite my reputation around here, if we never...get to that point, it won’t bother me.” He shrugs when Cas gives him a disbelieving look. “I don’t know how to convince you of that, so I’m just gonna have to show you.”

Cas frees his hands. “But you want that with me,” he signs, tilting his head.

Dean swallows and nods. “Well, yeah. I’d be crazy not to. You’re hot, Cas. Gorgeous. I’ve...definitely thought about it.”

Cas blushes and looks down.

“Does that… really surprise you?”

Cas shrugs and nods, still looking down. “I think about it sometimes, too."

Dean sits up straighter, cocking a brow. “Oh, yeah? What, uh… what kinds of things do you think about?”

Cas's blush deepens and he looks away, but Dean gently pulls his attention back, his hand on his chin. “Cas.”

“I don't know,” Cas signs. “I don't know anything about this stuff. I don't know how to be in a relationship. Dean, no one's ever wanted me before. I just kind of expected to be alone my whole life. I'd accepted that.”

“Well, I don’t,” Dean says, an edge to his voice. He wishes, not for the first time, that he’d known Cas years before. He would’ve made Cas feel very wanted. “You don’t deserve to be alone and I won’t accept it. It’s okay you don’t know how to do this. It’s not like we’re born with the knowledge, Cas. Relationships, sex, intimacy...you learn it. Life ain’t a romance novel. Good thing, too. Most of them have really shitty writing.”

Cas cracks a smile, eyes sparkling. “You read romance novels?”

It’s Dean’s turn to blush. “No,” he says gruffly, eyes shifting. “Just...ya know, ex read a few. I may have flipped through one.”

“May have?”

“Okay, so I read one,” Dean shrugs, waving a hand dismissively. “Point is, it's all bullshit. I mean… sure, we don't know each other that well, but… that's different.”

Cas tilts his head. “How?”

Dean frowns. “I don't know how to explain it. I just feel like I have this connection with you that I've never had before. You really listen when I speak. You like me the way I am. I don't have to be anyone else around you.”

“Why would anyone expect you to be anyone other than who you are?”

Dean huffs a laugh, thinking about how his dad had reacted to his coming out, and how he and Bobby had argued about it after. Dean hadn't expected Bobby to be as accepting as he was, but other than some good old-fashioned ribbing over his wardrobe choices here and there, he was wholly supportive.

Dean shakes his head, bringing himself back to the present. “I’m just sayin’,” he continues. “That I’m...comfortable with you and that’s never really happened before. With the others, I’ve always put on this persona for them. With you, it’s just...me.”

Cas smiles and leans forward, kissing Dean softly and chastely. “I like just you.”

Dean grips the nape of Cas’s neck and pulls him forward, bringing their lips together again in a decidedly more heated kiss. His fingers tangle in Cas’s hair as his other hand comes to rest on Cas’s knee.

Cas is the one to finally break the kiss, swallowing hard and looking down.

“You're truly the most beautiful soul I've ever met,” he signs bashfully. “Inside and out.”

“Dunno about that,” Dean mutters, but Cas places a hand over his mouth and shakes his head, blue eyes piercing.

“You are,” he insists. “You're genuine. It's hard to find that.”

Dean doesn’t know what to say to that, as no one has ever said anything like that to him before, so he simply shrugs and kisses Cas’s hand.

“It’s late,” he says quietly. “Should probably sleep.” He doesn’t move, however. The want, need, to have Cas sleeping next to him is strong. He won’t ask for that, though. Nothing to make Cas potentially uncomfortable. Dean eyes his bedroom door. “You’re welcome to the bed again.”

“No, no, that's your bed,” Cas signs. “I don't want to put you out.”

Dean eyes him for a moment, squeezing his hand. “And you won't go anywhere, if I trust you to stay out here?”

Cas grins shyly and shakes his head.

“Good.”

Dean, reluctant to go, gives Cas a lingering kiss, one that silently begs for Cas to follow him. He sighs and pulls away, signing a ‘goodnight’ and making sure there are plenty of blankets and pillows to make sleeping on the couch as comfortable as possible.

Dean closes his door behind enough to give them both some privacy, but leaves a crack. Maybe it’s false hope that Cas will take it as an invitation, or maybe it’s his paranoia that Cas will leave.

He pulls off his shirt, but keeps his bottoms on and climbs into bed. The sheets smell faintly of Cas and he inwardly groans. The guy smells too good and it’s already hard enough- pun intended- trying to sleep with Cas nearby.

Dean growls and closes his eyes, determined to sleep through his frustration.

----

The next couple of days go much the same way, the two of them going to the diner for work and spending their evenings watching television or playing Dean's guitar. He declares them both off on Thursday though and leaves the diner to Benny and Charlie, since it's one of their slower days, anyway.

Dean wakes up and showers, hearing the gentle chords of “Imagine" playing from the living room, and he smiles to himself as he spikes his hair and adds the purple color to it that Cas loves so much. He carefully applies his eyeliner and stands in front of his closet with his towel wrapped around his waist, staring at his wide array of graphic t-shirts and deciding that a shirt declaring that he sells crack for the CIA wouldn't necessarily be appropriate for today. Which, if all went well, he hoped Cas would consider an actual date.

He settles on a pair of only mildly ripped jeans and a plain black tshirt and his Doc Martens, then heads out to the living room and smiles widely at Cas, who smiles up at him in return.

“Get dressed, gorgeous. We're heading to Palisades State Park today.”

Cas perks up, the soft strumming coming to a halt as he grins up at Dean. He nods and scurries off the couch, already mentally preparing for what shots and angles he wants for his pictures. Dean waits patiently, fiddling with his phone and ignoring the fact that Cas is naked in his bedroom for the upteenth time and Dean has yet to see even a glimpse.

Cas comes out in a pair of Dean’s jeans, which were a bit long on him, and a baggy t-shirt with the word ‘Kiss’ in faded, white letters. He grabs his camera, batteries, and a pair of sunglasses that Dean ‘found’ (bought) for him. He smiles at Dean, looking giddy, fingers twitching as if he couldn’t wait to start taking pictures.

Dean chuckles and within a few minutes, they’re on the road. It’s only about a thirty minute drive, filled mostly with softly playing music and comfortable silence. It’s hard to talk to Cas while driving, since Dean is still a little slow at reading signs, but they make up for it by holding hands. Which honestly is pretty awesome, so Dean isn’t complaining.

Once they arrive Dean parks, and before he can shut off the engine Cas is already dashing outside. Dean snorts and follows him, albeit much slower, content to watch Cas scope out the area with sharp eyes.

Cas stops every few feet to raise his camera, catching different angles in the sunlight and kneeling, even once dropping down to his belly and spending several minutes adjusting settings on the camera. He becomes particularly enthralled by one of the falls- not even the most magnificent one, but Dean decides to save that one for last, anyway- and after twenty minutes or so of watching Cas snap what had to be hundreds of pictures, Dean finally takes a seat under one of the trees. There's a tranquility about being there with Cas and watching him in his element, seeing him doing the one thing he seems to be comfortable with, the only thing he seems to be confident doing. It strikes Dean, not for the first time, that Cas doesn't seem to see in himself what others see… or at least not what Dean sees. He wonders briefly what it is that Cas does see.

Cas pushes himself up to his knees and looks at his camera, then turns back to Dean and grins boyishly. He gets to his feet and runs over, plopping down next to Dean and bumping shoulders with him, then points to the picture on his camera.

Dean smiles down at the screen and wraps an arm around Cas’s shoulders, leaning in close. “Amazing, as usual,” he murmurs sincerely, eyes tracing the perfect shot of the falls. He can almost feel the water spraying his skin. It’s good enough for a National Geographic and Dean hopes to see one of Cas’s pictures in the prestigious magazine someday.

“I love watching you,” Dean says as Cas flips through some more shots. Cas pauses and gives him a confused look. Dean smiles and shrugs a bit shyly. “Just mean, uh, you get so excited. You come alive and you’re...confident. You’re passionate about what you do. I like it.”

Cas smiles and pulls him in for a kiss, then taps his knee as he pulls away.

“You're passionate about your food,” he signs. “You really care what people think of it and it shows. Everyone should be passionate about something."

Dean hums. “What else are you passionate about, Cas?”

Cas smiles shyly and shrugs. “I like poetry,” he signs, “but my stuff isn't very good. It doesn't matter, though. Writing it and reading it makes me feel good.”

Dean’s eyes widen and he nods, licking his lips. “Poetry, huh? I gotta admit, most of it goes over my head, but I’d like to read your stuff. If and when you ever feel comfort showing it to me.”

Cas bites his lips and shrugs, looking down at his camera and flipping through a few more pictures. “It’s really not good,” he finally signs.

Dean scoffs and bumps Cas’s shoulder. “Stop that. If it’s even half as good as your pictures, then it’s amazing.” He kisses Cas’s scruffy cheek. “I hope you let me read some one day.”

“Maybe one day,” Cas signs, and Dean mentally chalks that up to a win.

Dean pats his cheek and Cas grins, then gets up and moves closer to the falls, where a family with a young girl are staring out over the water while the husband fishes. The girl migrates a little further down and starts attempting to skip rocks, but they all just plop and sink, much to her disappointment. Cas lowers his camera and tentatively approaches, and Dean holds his breath.

Cas motions to the stone in her hand and she eventually hands it to him, and he proceeds to mime the proper way to skip it, showing her how to flick her wrist and throw side-armed instead of over her head. He gives the rock back and she goes through the motion, looking back at Cas for approval. He adjusts her arm and she tries again, and he smiles and nods this time, clapping when she finally throws it and manages to have it skip once. He gives her a thumbs-up, and even from a distance Dean can see his open-mouthed, silent, squinty-eyed grin. He smiles to himself as he stands and makes his way over to them.

The child's mother has noticed Cas at this point and edges closer, but Cas is oblivious, watching the child skip her stones and smiling proudly. He steps back and gets down on one knee, raising his camera as the girl skips a stone and turns to him, laughing gleefully.

Dean approaches him as he stands again, and he points to the camera, showing Dean a beautiful picture of the child with the sun over her shoulder, raring back to throw the stone.

“She's never known a stranger,” the mom says as she approaches, and Cas smiles. He signs “hello" to her, and her face puzzles and she shakes her head.

“I'm sorry, I… don't know the language.”

“He says hello,” Dean answers for him. “This is Cas. I'm Dean. Cool kid you have there.”

The woman smiles. “Thank you. We think she's okay.” She ruffles the girl's hair. “I'm Sarah. This is Delaney. It's nice to meet you both.”

Cas bows his head slightly then holds up his camera, motioning to it and turning it around so she could see the photo.

“That's beautiful!” she exclaims, nudging Delaney. “You see that, sweetie? Cas here took a picture of you!”

Cas blushes and looks down, and Dean pats him encouragingly on the back. “Cas is a really talented photographer.”

Cas waves a dismissive hand. “She's a great model. I'd love to give you a copy,” he signs, and Delaney’s face puzzles as Dean translates for her.  

“What's wrong with your voice?” she asks innocently, and Sarah gasps.

“Delaney, honey, you can't just-"

Cas waves a hand again and gets down on one knee in front of her, motioning to his throat.

“An evil sea witch stole my voice,” he signs sadly, and Dean chuckles, then translates it to them. Sarah smiles and covers her mouth, looking down at her daughter.

“You need a prince!” The girl says excitedly, then looks from Cas to Dean. “Will you be his prince?”

Sarah bites her lip and gives Dean an apologetic look, but just shrugs and smiles.

“Yeah, if he wants me to be,” Dean says gently. “I’d make a pretty good prince, if I do say so myself.” He winks at Cas, making him blush and duck his head shyly.

Delaney takes Cas’s hand and looks up at him very seriously. “Maybe if he kisses you, you’ll get it back. That’s usually how it works.”

Cas blushes and covers his face with his free hand. Dean clicks his tongue and squats down to her level.

“You know...I’m not sure what kind of prince I’d be if I wanted someone to change for me.” He leans in a little closer to whisper: “I actually think I’d prefer him just the way he is. What do you think?”

Delaney frowns and tilts her head. “You mean like Shrek and Princess Fiona?”

Dean grins. “Yes, exactly like that.”

Delaney smiles and giggles. “I like that story.”

“Me, too,” Dean ruffles her hair and stands, smiling at Sarah. “Anyway, sorry if we interrupted anything.”

“No, not at all,” she waves him off and smiles. “I love that picture, Cas. How about I give you my email and you can send me a copy?”

Cas bites his lip and nods, glancing at Dean briefly. Dean smiles and digs out his phone, quickly taking down Sarah’s information. She thanked them both, her and Delaney waving goodbye as they ambled further down the path.

“Thank you,” Cas signs as they walk away. “I often forget that not everyone knows how to understand me.” He quirks a smile and looks down at his hands, and Dean threads their fingers together.

“Hey.”

Cas looks up and Dean cups his cheek, pulling him in for a soft kiss that Cas melts into. His eyes are still closed when Dean pulls away and brushes a thumb across his cheek, and he smiles when he finally opens them.

“It’s no problem, Cas,” Dean says gently, giving his hand a squeeze. “I’m fairly sure it’s what a prince would do, anyway.”

“You would make a very good prince.”

Dean chuckles and they start walking in a random direction, holding hands and swinging their arms slightly. “Actually, I’m not sure I’m prince material,” he smiles. “They have to dress so formal. I don’t do suits and tuxedos.”

“Just kilts.”

Dean laughs and bumps his shoulder with Cas’s. “Kilts are very manly.”

“Of course.”

Dean clicks his tongue. “Meanie. Go take your pictures.”

Cas grins and takes off down the path, stopping occasionally to snap a photo. Dean follows slowly behind, not wanting to get in his way and just enjoying watching Cas.

----

After hours spent at the park, and probably thousands of pictures later, Cas is looking tired and practically dragging himself down the path, barely enough energy to even lift his camera for pictures half the time. Every time Dean had asked if he was ready to go, he shook his head, insistent on staying. Dean couldn’t tell if it was because he wanted more pictures or if he just didn’t want the day to be over.

Finally, Dean has to put his foot down.

“Listen here, Cas, if you don’t want to admit that you’re tired and it’s time to go, that’s fine. But I am tired, and it’ll be getting dark before long, and just because we leave here doesn’t mean the day has to end.”

Cas sighs but nods reluctantly, and Dean nods once back.

“Great. How about we go grab us some food and hit up the drive-in?”

Cas grins widely and nods, and Dean kisses his forehead before taking his hand and leading him back to the car. He opens the door for him and Cas practically melts into the seat, struggling to keep his eyes open.

Dean chuckles and quickly gets them on the road. They stop and grab a couple of burgers from a window. The food and soda seem to wake Cas up enough to at least be functioning, and they eat on the way to the drive in.

Dean picks a spot in the middle. Not so close that it feels like they have to crane their necks and not so far away that it seems like Dean only brought him here to make out like a couple of teenagers.

“Want any candy or popcorn?” he turns to Cas, who shakes his head as he slurps on his Coke.

“Uh huh,” Dean smiles. “Well, when you change your mind, let me know.”

“What are we seeing?” Cas signs curiously.

“No idea,” Dean shrugs. “I didn’t look. Always a double feature, though.”

Cas nods and slides over to the middle of the front seat, unprompted, and lays his head on Dean’s shoulder. He continues to drink his Coke, and Dean mentally kicks himself for not having thought ahead well enough to bring food and drinks with them to the park, although Cas probably wouldn’t have spared an extra few minutes for lunch when he was so busy with his pictures. He seemed to really lose time when he was in the midst of it. Dean could understand that. He was often the same way when he was trying a new recipe or learning a new song.

Dean drapes his arm around Cas’s shoulder and kisses the top of his head. The first movie is Thor: Ragnarok, which Cas seems intently focused on, much to Dean’s surprise. Dean tries to talk to him here and there throughout the movie, but Cas may have only signed a handful of things to him other than answering most questions with a nod or a shake of his head.

He’s grinning by the end of it, and they get out of the car to go to concessions to get the candy and popcorn that Cas had insisted he didn’t want as the early movie-goers begin to leave.

“So you like that one, huh?”

Cas nods, still grinning, and he looks down and blushes as he signs: “I really like Loki.”

“Ah, yes. Our neutral evil, obviously bisexual God.”

Cas gives him a silent laugh and nudges him. “I don’t know,” he signs, “maybe chaotic neutral. Not necessarily evil, I don’t think. Definitely bisexual.”

“Either way,” Dean shrugs as they get in line. “The movies wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining without him.”

Cas nods and lays his head on Dean’s shoulder as they inch their way up to the front. “Who is your favorite?” he asks after a moment.

“Thor,” Dean says immediately. “I dunno why really. He’s kind of a goofball, but he’s like...pure. Stupidly optimistic sometimes, but people need that from somebody.”

Cas raises a brow. “You don’t think it’s because he’s over six feet of pure sculpted muscle?”

Dean grins. “That certainly doesn’t hurt.”

Cas grins back and they finally reach the front of the line, and a very bored-looking teenager with messy brown hair nods to them.

“What can I get you?”

“Uh...let me get a bucket of the popcorn, a box of licorice, and…” Dean nudges Cas and gestures to the candy. “What you want?”

Cas eyes them all for a moment, either ignoring or not noticing the irritability of the teenager. Dean grits his teeth as the kid huffs and rolls his eyes, but his anger fades to amusement when he sees Cas glance up at him and purposefully take longer to choose, thoroughly inspecting all the boxes before finally settling on a box of Snow Caps. A much cheerier teenager with black braids and beautiful dark skin rings them up, even taking the time to sign a “thank you” to Cas, and Dean slips her an extra five dollars after a blushing Cas turns away.

“I remember working here during high school,” Dean says as they leisurely make their way back to the car. “On the nights I wasn’t helping Bobby at the shop. So usually the weekends when it was packed with horny teenagers.”

Cas blushes again and nibbles at his candy. Dean didn’t mention how it made good hunting ground for him. There was always a girl (or guy) that was wanting some company during a horror flick.

He opens the door for Cas then climbs in after him, the two sitting close as they waited for the next movie to start.

“You go to a lot of movies?” Cas asks innocently, but Dean can tell there’s a hidden question in there.

“Not anymore,” Dean murmurs. “When I was younger, yeah. Good place to come when I was, uh, bored. Not really...well, I rather come here now when I have someone to bring. Someone to actually enjoy it with.”

“Did you have a lot of dates here?”

Dean eyes him and gives him a half nod, half shrug. “I mean… yeah. Used to.” Cas's face falls slightly and Dean squeezes his hand. “But hey… that's the past, right? I don't want that anymore. I want… commitment.”

Cas looks up at him curiously. “That's a big thing.”

Dean smiles and pulls his hand up to his lips, pressing a kiss to the palm. “Yeah. Can be scary.”

Cas nods and looks down. Dean never thought he'd see the day when he was the one ready for commitment. Lisa had wanted commitment, and Dean couldn't give it to her. And for the life of him, he can't figure out what it is about Cas that makes him want it.

“Not that...I’m not tryin’ to propose or anything,” Dean stammers out when he realizes Cas has gone quiet. “Just...this isn’t like a fling for me. Is all I’m sayin’. You are more than that. And you should...know that.”

Cas grazes his lip with his teeth and looks up, slowly nodding. “Okay,” he signs simply. Dean can’t read his expression and inwardly sighs at himself. He’s pushing too much and he himself doesn’t even know why. He just has this unbelievably strong need to keep Cas to himself. He’s never believed in soulmates before, but he’s starting to now. There’s no other explanation for it, this connection he feels. Like Cas fits perfectly, like this is meant to happen. And that’s a scary thing to think when he hasn’t known Cas for very long. But at the same time, he feels like he’s known Cas forever.

“Hey, Cas,” Dean murmurs. “You believe in reincarnation?”

Cas frowns, then a slow smile spreads across his face. “You mean coming back as a dog or a cat or a bee?”

Dean snorts a laugh. “Yeah… somethin’ like that.”

“Or like maybe Bill Nye the Science Guy?”

Dean blushes and scrubs a hand down his face. “Alright, that's enough. Nevermind.”

“No no, I'm sorry,” Cas signs quickly, laying a hand briefly on his knee. “I'm not sure if I do or not. Never really thought about it before. Why?”

Dean shrugs nonchalantly and tugs at one of Cas’s fingers. “I dunno. Never really thought about it either. Just...it’s weird. I mean we haven’t known each other for very long, but I feel comfortable with you. Like I’ve known you for a long time.”

Cas tilts his head and nods slowly. “Yes, I sometimes get the same feeling.” He smiles, eyes teasing. “You think we’ve met in a past life?”

Dean laughs and shrugs again. “Yeah, sure, maybe.”

Cas grins his gummy smile. “Okay, so what were we in our past lives?”

Dean gums and scratches at his cheek. “I was a prince, obviously.”

“I was a bee,” Cas signs definitively.

Dean blinks. “A bee? Why?”

Cas shrugs. “Maybe not a bee. But I definitely had wings.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah,” Cas signs with a smile. “I just feel like this lust for adventure is something that's always been ingrained in me. Seeing new places, capturing the beauty of the world. It was never something I had to be taught. It was just there.”

“A free spirit,” Dean says after a moment, and Cas tilts his head and shrugs.

“Yes, I suppose so.”

Dean grins. “Maybe you were an angel.”

Cas smiles shyly. “I don't know about that.”

“No, you definitely were,” Dean decides with a nod, tracing Cas’s jaw with a finger. “Nobody as beautiful and kind as you could have been anything but an angel. It’s the first word I thought of when I saw you walk in the diner.”

Cas’s face is burning now and he waves at Dean dismissively, trying to look away. Dean doesn’t let him, though, keeping their eyes locked.

“I’m sure of it,” Dean smiles, leaning in to kiss Cas gently on the lips. “You must have been my guardian angel.”

Cas searches his face for a moment, those blue eyes bouncing back and forth. He takes Dean's face in his hands and leans forward, kissing him long and slow, tongue tracing Dean's bottom lip. He opens willingly, slotting his tongue next to Cas's, and they trade soulful, languid kisses for a few moments, Cas's fingers splayed on either side of his neck.

When he pulls away, it's to sign: “I want you.”

Dean raises his eyebrows and licks his lips nervously. “I want you too, Cas. Of course I do.”

Cas raises his hands again, signing slowly and purposefully. “Take me home.”

Several things happen at once. Dean’s eyes widen into saucers, his heart doubles in pace, and his dick swells against the zipper of his jeans. He watches Cas’s face anxiously, looking for any signs of uncertainty, but all he sees is lust and determination. And he definitely likes that Cas had used the word ‘home’.

“Yeah, okay,” Dean swallows thickly and scooches down the bench seat to get the car rumbling to life. He thanks whoever is up there that most of everyone else had gone home, so getting out isn’t any work at all. Once he’s on the road, he pushes the pedal down and Baby roars down the road.

He halfway expects Cas to change his mind on the way home, but Cas spends the whole time staring at Dean. Dean’s hands tighten around the wheel when he feels Cas’s eyes on him and sees those blue eyes flicker down to his crotch. Dean shifts, embarrassed, and his cock isn’t shy at all. It twitches and he growls, urging the car faster.

The 25 minute drive home seems to drag on forever. When Dean finally pulls up to the house and puts her in park, Cas is on him, hands pressed to the sides of his face as he settles into his lap and presses their lips together. Dean pulls him in by his waist and one hand moves around and up his back to squeeze the back of his neck. The weight of Cas pressing down on his hardened cock proves to be too much though, and Dean shifts, accidentally pushing Cas into Baby’s horn. He huffs a laugh against Cas’s lips before pulling away, Cas looking amused and disheveled all at once.

“Inside,” Dean murmurs, and he opens the door and lets Cas climb out, following him closely behind. He shoves his house key in the door and lets it swing open, then Cas is on him again, and they stumble into the house and against the wall of the entryway as Cas’s lips connect with Dean’s neck. Dean pulls Cas in by fistfuls of his shirt and presses their lips together again, kicking the front door closed behind him and walking him backward toward the bedroom.

They stumble through the door because Dean is an idiot who closed it before they left. Cas doesn’t seem to mind, though, his lips too busy ravaging Dean’s to notice much of anything. Dean backs him up to the bed and slowly lowers him into his back, settling comfortably between Cas’s thighs. He breaks the kiss only to latch onto Cas’s throat, nibbling and sucking, hands in that outrageous hair. Cas opens his mouth in a silent moan and arches his neck, a hand clutching at Dean’s shoulder.

It’s strangely quiet, which Dean supposes he’d have to get used to, since by now there’s usually some soft moaning and whispers. It’s also weirdly erotic, however, because it makes him hyper aware of everything else Cas is doing. His heavy breathing, his twitching muscles, the way his body arches beneath him, how his hands can’t keep still. They explore, roam, as if Cas is trying to talk by tracing every curve and dip.

It strikes Dean that in the dark, with Cas’s inability to speak, he doesn’t have much to go on in the way of cues. If he’s making Cas uncomfortable or hurting him, he has no real way of knowing. The thought has him pulling away, and Cas reaches out desperately for him.

“Just a second, angel,” Dean murmurs, taking his hand and giving it a squeeze. He feels his way around to find the bedside table lamp and cut it on, and Cas squints against the light and frowns up at Dean.

“I just wanna make sure you’re okay,” Dean explains and Cas bites his lip, looking over at the light. He does look kind of uncomfortable now, so Dean lowers himself slowly back down beside him, brushing tips of fingers over his cheek. “What is it?”

“Don’t want you to see me,” Cas signs, avoiding Dean’s gaze.

“Why?”

Cas shrugs and seems to shrink slightly into himself. Dean grabs his chin and gently pulls his attention back to him. “Cas. You’re beautiful.” Cas tries to shake his head, but Dean stops him. “Yes, you are. But,” he sighs, eyes searching Cas’s face, “if you’re uncomfortable, I can turn the light off. But you have to let me know I’m hurting you, or if you want to stop. Tap me or something.”

Cas considers it and lays his hand on Dean’s shoulder. He taps twice and meets Dean’s eyes, and Dean nods.

“Okay, two taps on the shoulder and I stop immediately. Good?”

Cas nods and Dean kisses him chastely, then cuts the light back off, shrouding them in darkness once more.

Dean only fumbles a little as he feels his way back to Cas, pressing up against his side as he trails kisses down Cas’s neck. He presses a hand to Cas’s chest, feeling the steady breathing and rapid heartbeat. It slides down slowly, stopping just below his belly button. Dean pulls the shirt up and sighs when he traces up the soft skin of Cas’s belly, all the way up to his chest.

“Good?” He murmurs against Cas’s collarbone. He feels Cas swallow and nod. Dean smiles and climbs on top of him, his elbows keeping most of his weight off him, and darts his tongue out to tease a nipple. Cas jerks below him, choking on a breathy gasp, and Dean shudders as he arches for more.

“Mm, that’s it, baby,” Dean whispers, sucking a nipple into his mouth as Cas’s hands tug through his hair. “Lose yourself to it.”

Cas shudders under him again and Dean moves up, latching on to Cas’s pulse point and sucking gently. Cas sighs softly and lets a hand travel down to Dean’s shoulder. For a split second, Dean thinks he’s about to change his mind about things, but he only hesitates there briefly before moving the shaking hand down and around between them, cupping Dean’s hard cock through his jeans.

It’s only then that Dean realizes Cas is hard himself, and he can’t believe he hadn’t noticed before. But then, he had been distracted by everything else Cas, and it really hits him that this may be the first time ever that he was more worried about the emotional aspect of sex than the physical one. He wants this closeness with Cas, he wants to make him feel good, and just the idea of that almost has him coming in his pants like a horny teenager.

Regardless of the fact that Cas seems to be encouraging him, he feels stiff against him, and the absence of light has Dean uneasy again, not feeling confident in Cas’s comfort. He pulls back to look at him, and sure enough, in the small sliver of moonlight pouring in through the window, he can see that Cas looks uneasy. He doesn’t look Dean in the eye, instead trying to pull him back down to him again, but Dean resists.

Cas huffs slightly and squirms, and Dean clicks his tongue as he pulls away. He flicks on the light again and looks down at Cas, who is fidgeting and looking at Dean with such distress that Dean immediately feels like shit.

“Cas, you gotta talk to me,” Dean says softly, pressing a chaste kiss to Cas’s cheek. “Was it too far? Did I hurt you?”

Cas shakes his head and looks away, blushing and adjusting himself against the sheets. Dean can feel his bulge and has to close his eyes briefly to rein himself in.

“So what’s wrong?” He strokes Cas’s cheek, ignoring Cas’s impatient gesture at the lamp. “I’m not turnin’ it off until you tell me what’s going on. You don’t look comfortable and if you don’t wanna do this-“

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” Cas signs with frustration, flushing with embarrassment.

Dean blinks. “That’s okay, Cas. I didn’t...expect you to.”

Cas looks down between their bodies and swallows. “I don’t know...what to do.”

Dean smiles and takes a hand, squeezing it. “You don’t have to do anything. This is about you.”

Cas looks at him with wide eyes. “Will it hurt?”

Dean sighs and shifts to lay beside him, laying a hand on his cheek. “It's a little… uncomfortable at first, but you just have to be super relaxed and take plenty of time to prep. But after that, it feels amazing. But look, Cas… if you're worried about that, you can top. I got no issue with that.”

Cas swallows hard and nods, but the gesture does little to ease Dean's reluctance to continue.

“Listen, how about… how about tonight, we make this all about you? We don't have to go there yet. That's a big step, and I want you to know you're ready-"

“But I do want you,” Cas signs quickly, and Dean grabs his hand and presses a kiss to it.

“I know, I believe you, but this is a lot, and I know that too. So how about tonight you let me take care of you, and we can go from there. It would make me feel better, anyway, giving you some time. No need to jump right in. Okay?”

“Okay,” Cas signs, and Dean pulls him close, pressing their lips together. They sink into the kiss, so much so that Dean begins to think Cas has forgotten about the light-

Two taps on his shoulder. Dean stops and pulls away. Cas points to the light and Dean sighs, switching it off again.

“‘M gonna see you naked one day,” he grumbles to himself, and Cas snorts a laugh.

Dean resumes his earlier position, mouth attached to a perky nipple while Cas’s hands clutch at his back and neck. The hard cock poking at him drives Dean nuts, but he takes his time. Exploring everything inch of Cas’s chest until the shirt is finally thrown off. Dean wishes he could see it all properly, but for now he traces it with his tongue and hands, moving down inch by inch.

He presses kisses along Cas's happy trail and pauses with his hands on the button of his jeans, giving him the chance to tap out if he needs to. But Cas doesn't, just watches him, chewing nervously at his bottom lip. Dean pops the button open and slowly slips a hand inside, over his boxers, sliding it slowly up and down, coaxing his cock to full hardness again. Cas sucks in a breath and lets his head fall back against the mattress, canting his hips forward once. Dean pulls the zipper down slowly and removes his hand long enough to tug gently at the waistband of the jeans and boxers, and Cas lifts his hips to allow him to slide them down, freeing his cock and giving Dean an eyeful of those coveted hip bones.

“Fuck,” he whispers, licking his lips and nuzzling the nest of hair between Cas’s thighs. Nice, thick thighs that he wants wrapped around his waist while he pounds into that tight-

Nope. None of that.

Dean takes a deep breath and looks up to see Cas signing through the darkness. Dean squints then shakes his head with a chuckle.

“Nothing’s wrong, angel,” he murmurs, kissing the delicious dip between Cas’s hipbone and his crotch. “You’re just so fucking beautiful.”

Dean doesn’t have to see that know that Cas is blushing. He smiles and pulls back a bit to put that pretty cock in front of his face. He hums and licks teasingly at the head, making Cas gasp and jerk, his cock smacking Dean on the cheek. Dean gently holds his hips down and looks up.

“Still good, baby?”

Cas nods frantically, though Dean can see he’s wearing a nervous expression. Dean reaches up and takes his hand, giving it a squeeze. Cas takes a deep breath and nods, squeezing back.

Dean locks their fingers together as he wraps his lips around the head of Cas's cock, the sound of his breath leaving him in a whoosh spurring Dean on. He sinks down until his nose is buried in coarse hair, laving his tongue over the vein on the underside of his cock.

Cas’s hips twitch wildly and Dean has to press him down onto the bed to keep him still. Cas huffs, scraping his nails over Dean’s scalp in a way that has his own trapped cock twitching. Dean moans around the thick length in his mouth, eliciting a jerk and shudder from Cas, and scrapes his teeth along the cock as he slowly pulls back up. He releases it with a wet pop and licks his lips, grabbing the base and squeezing.

“You taste amazing,” he whispers huskily, flicking his tongue at the leaking head. Cas squirms, trying to buck his hips, but Dean just chuckles. “Easy, baby, I gotcha. I’m gonna take care of you.”

Dean opens wide and sinks down again. The head nudges the back of his throat and he swallows around it, feeling it twitch eagerly. He bobs his head slowly, dragging his tongue and teeth along the shaft up then down, getting every inch of Cas seated snugly inside his mouth.

Cas huffs and his other hand moves to run through Dean's hair, gripping and tugging every so often. He pushes his hips up marginally when Dean sinks down, slowly finding a comfortable pace. Dean chuckles darkly when he pulls off and sinks down again, Cas’s shaky intake of breath letting him know how close he is. Dean swirls his tongue around the head and presses it against the shaft as he moves, and Cas comes with a choked gasp, pressing his hips up as he spills down Dean's throat.

Dean works him through it until Cas is shaking with the aftershocks, swallowing him down and moaning around his girth. He pulls off when he feels Cas shaking and jerking from the oversensitivity, the only sound in the room being Cas's panting. Dean hums and licks his lips, the taste of Cas still heavy on his tongue, and fuck, he could definitely stand to taste it for the rest of his life, and he can't even be bothered to care how dramatic that sounds.

“Fucking beautiful, Cas,” he murmurs as he crawls back up his body, nipping at a sharp hip bone and pressing kisses sporadically along his torso. He runs a hand through his sweaty hair before dipping down to kiss him, letting his fingers fall to trace his jaw while Cas's chest rises and falls as his breathing returns to normal.

Cas stares up at him when the kiss breaks, eyes blown wide, his mouth still hanging open from catching his breath. Dean thinks it’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen and tells Cas so, who huffs a silent laugh and blushes.

“Be right back, angel,” he murmurs, kissing Cas on the cheek and climbing off the bed. He disappears into the bathroom and returns a second later with a warm, damp washrag. He climbs back between Cas’s legs and gently cleans him up, wiping away spit and any cum that Dean may have left behind. Once he deems it clean, Dean tucks Cas away and zips him up carefully.

He grunts as he stretches out beside Cas, smiling as he throws an arm over him and nuzzles his neck. “How are you feeling?”

Cas lets out a shaky breath in response, grabbing and squeezing Dean's arm. Dean chuckles and presses a kiss to his neck.

“That good, huh?”

Cas nods and turns to face him. Dean raises his arm to let him settle against him comfortably, then strokes his cheek and down to his lips. Cas parts his lips slightly and turns his head to barely take the digits in his mouth, sucking gently on his fingertips.

Dean watches, his still hard cock giving a needy twitch, and sighs when the tip of Cas’s tongue presses against his fingertip. “As erotic as that is,” he mutters darkly. “I’m having trouble keeping certain things to myself…”

Cas pauses and Dean swears he can see the wheels turning as the guy slowly comes to the reluctant decision to release Dean’s fingers. Dean chuckles and loops his arm around Cas’s waist, pulling him close.

Cas lays a hand on Dean's cheek and pulls him in for a kiss, sloppy and still a little breathless.

“Hold on, baby,” Dean says gently as he pulls away, and he leans up to cut the light on. “Talk to me. Was that okay?”

Cas gives him a shy smile, squinting against the light. “Very."

“That can't have been your first blowjob ever.”

Cas blushes and shrugs.

“Cas, you-" Dean catches himself, not wanting to make Cas feel insecure. “Really?” Cas nods. “Wow. Well, I- uh...was it at least...good?”

Cas nods enthusiastically, and Dean chuckles and pulls him in for another kiss.

“Well, I'm honored,” he says as he pulls away. “It's weird, but...I really like that I'm the first you've ever let do that.”

Cas grins and kisses Dean’s nose. “Would you have been jealous if someone else had been my first?”

“Yes,” Dean says with a shrug. Cas’s eyebrows shoot up. “What can I say?” Dean continues, “I want you all to myself.”

Cas blinks slowly and smiles, blushing slightly. Dean smiles and pulls Cas to lay on top of him. He wraps his arms around his waist, tangling their legs together.

“See? Mine.” Dean grins, squeezing Cas’s waist.

“Yours,” Cas signs sincerely, and Dean swallows thickly, sliding a hand up to cup Cas's cheek. How or why he had fallen so hard and fast for the guy was unknown to him. Sure, he was handsome and brilliant and intriguing, but Dean had met plenty of interesting people in his life, and none of them had him ready to settle down. But with Cas, everything seems to come so easy. He’s more comfortable with himself than he’s ever been, and he finds himself wanting more even while just having Cas makes him feel like he has everything he needs.

Cas feels like an old soul, a kindred spirit, a part of himself that he's just discovering that's been there all along. The idea of losing him, of not waking up to that smile or seeing that silent laugh or those too blue eyes… Dean doesn't even want to consider it.

Fuck. He is so screwed.

“What are you thinking about?”

Dean barely catches the signs and shakes himself out of his thoughts. “You,” he says simply.

Cas smiles shyly and tilts his head in that cute way he does.

“But I’m right here,” Cas signs, grinning teasingly.

Dean chuckles and nods. “Will you stay here?” he asks, then quickly adds, “Tonight, I mean. Here...in bed. To sleep . Just sleep.”

Cas bites at his lip and Dean can’t help but poke at it with his thumb, pulling the lip free. “Just sleeping,” Dean repeats softly. “I promise.”

Cas hesitates then nods slowly, smiling with his ever present blush. Dean smiles back and kisses him chastely so he wouldn’t be tempted to turn it into something else. Dean pushes himself up with a grunt and pulls back the sheets, and Cas crawls under them, sighing as he lays his head against the soft pillow. Dean lays down beside him and flicks off the light, draping an arm around Cas and smiling into the dark when Cas presses a kiss to his forehead. It feels like only seconds later that he hears Cas’s breathing even out, and despite also being monumentally exhausted, he’s up for awhile longer, contemplating how different Cas has made his life in just a matter of weeks, and how much it would absolutely devastate him if he left.

Chapter Text

 

Dean is pulled out of a dead sleep to the growling voice of George Thorogood blasting from his cell phone, Cas tucked against his side. Dean groans and scrubs a hand down his face, looking over from the far end of the bed to his bedside table.

“Get a haircut and get a real job, clean your act up and don’t be a slob…”

Cas doesn’t move, lips slightly parted and one arm thrown over Dean’s torso. Dean flinches as he pulls his arm gently from under him, the limb numb and useless. Cas gives a small snort and turns over, and Dean reaches across the bed with a grunt and answers the phone.

“Heya, Sammy,” he says groggily, sniffing loudly. He pulls the phone away to squint at the time, only a few minutes past 4 a.m. “You sure are up early.”

“Nah, haven’t been to bed yet. Got a huge test tomorrow morning so it’s been a great, restless first week.”

Dean grunts in response. “Mmyeah, right, time difference and all that. So what you callin’ me for?”

“I can’t call just to check in?”

“Not at four in the morning, you can’t,” Dean says gruffly, lowering his voice when Cas shifts next to him.

“Whatever. You have to be at work within the hour, anyway.”

“Maybe Benny was gonna open for me.”

Sam snorts. “That’s as likely as you taking a day off.”

Dean shifts and nuzzles into Cas’s hair. “I took the day off yesterday.”

There’s a shocked moment of silence. “Really?”

Dean rolls his eyes and moves to lay on his back. “Yeah, Samantha, really. I decided me and Cas needed a day off.”

“You and Cas? So here’s still there?”

Dean huffs and scratches absently at his stomach, realizing he and Cas had fallen asleep in their clothes. “Yeah, man, he’s still here. Don’t sound so surprised.”

“Sorry,” Sam sighs. “Just didn’t think he’d stick around for very long. You bribe him or something?”

Dean grins. “No. Maybe it’s just all this charm oozing out of me.”

Sam snorts. “Sure, yeah, all that charm .”

“Well, if you didn’t have any reason for calling-”

“No, wait, actually...I do,” Sam says quickly, then lets out a breath. “So listen, I...I mean, I know I’ve made comments about it in passing, but I never really officially told you, or decided anything, and it’s time you knew-”

“It’s okay, Sammy. Admitting that you have a Harry Potter addiction is the first step to recovery. We’ll get through this.”

“Ha ha, very funny,” Sam says dryly. “Seriously, Dean, this is important-”

“Then spit it out, Sam,” Dean says irritably, reaching out to brush some hair off Cas’s forehead. “It’s four in the morning and I don’t have the mental capacity to try to decipher whatever it is you’re trying to say.”

“I’m gonna ask Eileen to marry me.”

Dean lets his breath out in a whoosh , looking unseeingly up at the ceiling. Sam is quiet on the other end of the line, only the faint sound of the classical music he plays when he studies pouring through the speaker.

“Dean?”

Dean coughs and clears his throat. “Yeah...yeah, I’m here.”

“Did you...hear what I said?”

“Yeah.” Dean tries not to let his voice sound strained, but he doesn’t know if Sam buys it.

“Well,” Sam says, and he waits a beat for Dean to respond before continuing, “what do you think?”

“Great,” Dean says hoarsely, clearing his throat again. “Really, really great. You know I love Eileen.”

There’s a shifting noise from Sam. “Yeah,” he says slowly. “But you’re...good with this, right?”

Dean frowns and plucks at the blanket. “Sure, Sam. Whatever makes you happy.”

Sam sighs and Dean can’t tell if it’s from relief or if it’s just exhaustion. “That’s awesome, man. Really. I was really nervous about telling you. She makes me so happy, Dean. I can’t to spend my life with her.”

Dean nods and swallows thickly, turning over into his side. “Yeah. Yeah, I bet. Listen, I gotta go. We’ll, uh, talk later.”

“Oh,” Sam sounds a little crestfallen, but clears his throat. “Right, of course. Sorry for waking you. I’ll let you get back to sleep. Bye, Dean.”

“Yeah, bye,” Dean ends the call and tosses the phone on the nightstand, scrubbing a hand over his face. Right, like he’s going to get any sleep now.

It’s not like he hadn’t been expecting this, but he thought he had a little more time. College he could handle, because Dean had always known Sam was destined for great things at a young age. He expected college, even wanted that for him. He expected him to marry one day too, he just hadn’t anticipated it would be so soon.

But the first time he’d brought Eileen home, Dean knew. They got off that plane together, hand in hand, grinning and giggling, and Sam looked at her like the sun shone out of her ass, and Dean knew.

He’d been prepared to hate Eileen. He wanted to hate Eileen. But when they caught sight of Dean waiting in the terminal, she’d rolled her shoulders back and strolled right up to him with Sam in tow.

“I’m halfway to wasted and I know there’s a bar around here somewhere. Take me there and I’ll catch you up.”

“But...I’m driving.”

“Sam can drive,” she’d said simply, and she looped her arm through Dean’s and he led her to the bar. To top it off, she drank him under the table even with a head start, and by the end of the night he had to admit that his brother had done pretty damn well for himself.

And at the end of the night when they’d sobered up and Eileen went off to bed, Sam smiled softly after her, and Dean knew.

All the same, Dean isn’t ready to let go. He isn’t ready for his brother to get married and move away and only come home for holidays. He isn’t ready to be alone.

He sighs and looks down at Cas, who’s still snoring softly. He leans down and presses a kiss to his forehead, then slides out of bed and makes his way to the bathroom to shower.

By the time Cas is getting up, Dean is showered and making them breakfast. French toast, eggs, and sausage, with coffee brewing in the corner. Cas shuffles into the kitchen, blinking blearily and otherwise incoherent as he grabs a random mug from the pantry. He stands by the machine, waiting as it gurgles, then fills up his mug to the brim. He takes a sip and looks over at Dean, who is grinning at the bacon sizzling in a pan.

“Good morning, gorgeous,” Dean chuckles, glancing up at Cas and taking in his disheveled appearance. “Sleep well?”

Cas scowls at him, and Dean chuckles and shakes his head fondly.

He snorts, loading a plate with all the freshly made food and holding it out to Cas. “Here, sleepyhead, eat and wake up.”

They both eat quickly and Dean sips his coffee as Cas disappears to the bedroom to shower and get ready. He tries not to think about Cas as he hears the water turn on and the shower curtain pulled open and closed, tries not to think about warm water cascading down his bare chest, tries not to imagine that body pressed between Dean's and the wall….

He shakes his head and shifts in his seat, adjusting his jeans to take the pressure off his rapidly swelling cock. He mentally kicks himself for not using his alone time in the shower this morning a little more efficiently, to give him hope of getting through the day without popping an awkward boner just from looking at the guy.

A tap on the shoulder brings Dean out of his thoughts. He looks up and smiles at Cas’s wet hair, sticking up in its usual crazy fashion. Cas is once again dressed in some of Dean’s old clothes, faded jeans and a Goonies T-shirt. A movie he’d made Cas watch not too long ago.

“Ready to go?” Dean says, standing and placing his mug in the sink. Cas nods and together they walk out the door, and make the quick drive to the diner.

It’s the lull between breakfast and lunch, so it’s quiet when they walk in. Benny waves at them both, and Charlie flashes the Vulcan symbol to which Cas confusedly returns, squinting cutely.

Dean sighs.  Something else he’s gonna have to make Cas watch. Dude has absolutely no pop culture knowledge.

“How’s it going?” Dean asks Benny as he steps into the kitchen.

“We did alright,” Benny shrugs. “Little slower than usual, but that could be because of the cold front.”

“Was a bit nipply out there,” Dean murmurs.

Benny pauses. “Don’t you mean nippy?”

“Nope.”

“Right…” Benny peels off his gloves and tosses them in the trash, then wipes his brow with a towel. He looks out the window at Cas tying his apron around his waist and inclines his head toward him. “Trust you had a good day yesterday. And night.”

“I did have a good day,” Dean says nonchalantly, pulling out the prepped veggies for lunch. “Night was good too. Wanna hear all about it?”

Benny gives a wry chuckle. “Not even a little, boss.”

“Good, cause a gentleman never kisses and tells.”

“Uh huh. And where's this gentleman you speak of?”

“Ha ha ha, shaddup.” Dean smiles and pulls on his own gloves. He looks out the window to see Cas with Missouri, who'd taken quite a liking to him in the short time he'd been at the diner. She'd even offered him a room at her house, before she found out he was staying with Dean. Of course, once she found that out, Dean had gotten a stern talking to about boundaries and respect, and Dean assured her it wouldn't be an issue. He'd keep the fact that Cas slept in his bed the night before to himself.

His eyes unashamedly drift to Cas’s perfect ass, because he never misses an opportunity to ogle it, and Dean sighs when he sees the hole on the left cheek of the jeans. His old clothes were fine for lending, but they were falling apart before Cas ever showed up. He really needs some fresh clothes, ones that won’t come apart at the seams while he’s serving tables. Dean wonders if he could sneak out at some point to make a trip to Walmart.

“Whatcha starin’ at,” came Benny’s voice, who knew perfectly well what Dean was staring at. Or who , rather.

Dean smirks and shrugs. “Something fine and mine.”

Benny snorts as he hangs up his apron for the day. “If you say so, chief. I’m headin’ out for a few. Come back by to help with the dinner crowd.”

Dean nods and claps him on the shoulder. He pokes his head out the window and whistles at Charlie. “Hey, nerd, go take a break for a little while. Me and Cas got it.”

Charlie flashes him a grin and is dashing out the door a second later, probably on her way to stare at her favorite waitress at the local bar. And people say Dean is bad. Charlie flirts with the ladies more than anyone.

It’s quiet for the next little bit before the lunch rush, so Cas sits at the bar with Missouri and teaches her a few phrases in sign language. Bobby pops in for his lunch, another turkey sandwich on wheat, but Dean doesn’t miss his grimace when he’s handed that and a salad instead of his usual burger and fries. Dean will have to be the one to keep him true to the diet, because he got a glimpse of the bloodwork from his latest doctor appointment on Bobby’s desk, and the numbers really weren’t good. The old man may not care about risking his life for some good old-fashioned beef, but Dean sure as hell does.

The lunch rush hits a little later than normal, but it winds up being just as busy. Cas handles the tables while Charlie tends the bar and the customers waiting on carryout orders, and Dean and Benny have their hands full in the kitchen, the grill lined with tickets. Dean doesn’t get as much time to watch Cas as he could have preferred, but what he does see of him shows him that Cas can more than handle his own, and he’s pleased to see how comfortable Cas appears to be getting with the job and customers.

When the lunch rush dies and they’ve got the place mostly cleaned up, Dean nudges Benny on the side.

“Gotta run a quick errand,” he says. “I’ll be back before dinner.”

Benny raises a brow, but nods. “Run outta condoms?” he chuckles lowly.

Dean clicks his tongue. “You know me better than that. I never run out of condoms.”

Benny rolls his eyes and waves him away. “Yeah, yeah, get out of here.”

Dean slips out of the kitchen and gently touches Cas’s shoulder. “I gotta go take care of something, beautiful,” he smiles. “Sit tight and be good.” He winks and laughs when Cas blushes, hurrying out the door and mentally going over how many outfits he should get Cas.

He ends up spending more than he probably should have, but it’s quick work. He doesn’t know what Cas likes or doesn’t like as far as clothes and decides to settle on things that were durable. As durable as one can get at Walmart, anyway. Dean prefers Target, but his wallet didn’t.

Aside from clothes, Dean also picks out the nicest camera bag he can find. He’d noticed Cas didn’t have one and had gotten it in his mind to get one for him. Now is a good time as any.

Dean rushes home, drops it all off, and is back at the diner just in time to cook for his usual nighttime crowd.

----

At the end of the night, Dean has to chase Ash and Missouri out of the restaurant as usual before he locks up. He’d sent Benny and Charlie home over an hour earlier when the rest of the tables had cleared out, leaving he and Cas to finish up the cleaning. Cas sits on one of the stools at the bar while he finishes up filling ketchups and sugar caddies, and Dean cuts their neon ‘Open’ sign off, locks the door, and pulls the blinds. He disappears into the kitchen to check the space over once more, and he pulls the tea urns from the drying rack to put back up front for the next morning. Cas is counting his tips when Dean returns to the front, and he puts the tea urns in place and crosses back to the other side of the bar, wrapping his arms around Cas’s waist and resting his chin on his shoulder.

“Damn, you made out good tonight, huh?” Dean asks, pressing a kiss to his cheek. Cas grins and nods, straightening the pile and folding it over, then stuffing it in his pocket. Dean hums and turns him on the bar stool, moving his arms to drape around his neck as he presses their foreheads together. Cas wraps his arms around his waist and closes his eyes, sighing deeply.

“Tired, angel?” Dean murmurs, swaying them slightly.

Cas nods, moving to rest his head on Dean’s shoulder.

“Let’s go home then,” Dean smiles, smoothing some of Cas’s hair down, a fruitless endeavor if there ever was one. “I think I hear our bed calling.”

Cas gives him a curious look and Dean just grabs his hand, leading him out and locking the door behind them. It’s a short ride home and when they walk inside the tiny home, Dean is already shedding his greasy clothes.

“Grabbin’ a quick shower, baby,” Dean says, tossing his shirt aside. “Pop in a movie if you want.” He disappears into the bathroom, starting up the water and attempting to clear away any dirty thoughts. He’s yet to jerk one off to Cas, purely out of respect and not because the urge doesn’t hit him. It does, pretty much every second of every damn day.

But he’s had blue balls all day, and before long he’ll once again, hopefully, be sleeping in the same bed as the guy who inadvertently caused it. Rubbing one out would be a service to Cas, really, to keep him from accidentally dry-humping him in his sleep.

He bites his lip and glances at the closed door, then steps into the shower. He quickly rinses the red color out of his hair- it’s super awkward touching your dick while it looks like you’re bleeding from a head wound- and follows it up with a good shampooing. His thoughts wander back to Cas, the heady taste of him on his tongue, how fucking gorgeous he looked the night before with his face flushed after his orgasm. He rinses the shampoo out of his hair and lets out a breath as his blood rushes south, his cock swelling rapidly. He wipes water from his eyes and looks down, grabbing it at the base and giving it an experimental squeeze. That alone makes his knees a little weak, and he reaches out to brace himself against the tiled wall. He starts stroking himself slowly, closing his eyes and leaning forward against the wall, resting his forehead on his forearm.

The sexual build up of the last couple of weeks has gotten to him, his vow to keep his hands off himself making the sensations too intense. His imagination runs wild and he pictures Cas in there with him, on his knees between Dean’s legs with those pretty lips wrapped around his cock. The idea has Dean’s cock twitching in his hand, pre-cum dribbling out, and shit , he won’t last long at all.

Dean groans into his arm and quickens his strokes, his hips jerking into his hand. He trembles, his thighs quivering and his knees threatening to give out when he imagines Cas swallowing around him. Taking every drop of Dean down his throat, those intense eyes staring up at him as that silky mouth works him over.

With a muffled grunt, Dean comes all over the tile wall. He moves his hand over his cock, working himself through it, seed splattering on the wall thickly. It takes a few moments to come down from the orgasm, his breathing heavy and hard, his whole body shaking. He releases his softening cock and steps back, letting the water wash away the evidence.

He takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, laying a hand over his chest and feeling his heartbeat return to normal. He can’t seem to recall now how loud he was or if it was loud enough for Cas to hear. He thought he’d been quiet, but replaying it in his mind has him paranoid that Cas knows exactly what’s going on.

He pointedly busies himself with washing his body, then his face, taking his time and only turning off the water when it begins to run cold. He dries off and wraps the towel around his waist, scrubbing a hand through his hair as he exits the bathroom.

He chokes on air at the sight of Cas just casually laying in his bed, waiting for him, the tiniest sliver of skin under the sheets to indicate at the very least the absence of a shirt. Dean coughs and rubs a hand over his mouth, clearing his throat.

“Shit, Cas, you scared me, man,” he says gruffly, walking over to his dresser and pulling out a pair of boxers and a tshirt. He moves to retreat back to the bathroom to change, but Cas waves a hand at him and pats the bed, expression unreadable.

“What? You need something?”

Cas shakes his head and takes a deep breath, slowly sitting up and letting the sheets pool around his waist, and yep , he’s not wearing pants either, and suddenly Dean can’t fucking breathe.

“What...Cas, um,” Dean stammers, his hand tightening its hold on the towel. Cas smiles shyly and beckons him over and fuck yeah Dean isn’t ignoring that. He drops his clothes and swallows as he climbs into bed, careful to keep the towel tightly around the waist. Despite the quick job in the shower, his cock is already twitching with some interest.

Cas pushes him to lay on his back and Dean goes willingly, blinking up at him as Cas lets his hands wander. They slide down Dean’s chest, tracing the tattoo of pentagram surrounded by fire, before traveling south to tease along Dean’s happy trail. Those fingers find the edge of the towel, still bunched desperately in Dean’s white knuckles, and tug it free.

“Cas-”

He waves Dean off and pushes the towel away, and Dean hisses as cool air hits his overly heated skin. His cock is half hard, swelling under Cas’s gaze. Dean looks away, unable to handle those blue eyes looking at him like that, and is met with Cas’s swollen cock poking out of the sheets. He groans and licks his lips, remembering what it was like to have that dick sliding against his tongue.

“Fuck! Cas!” Dean gasps as Cas licks an experimental stripe up the underside of Dean’s cock, looking up at him through his lashes. “Jesus, Cas, you don’t-”

Cas huffs and clamps a hand over Dean’s mouth, shaking his head, his message perfectly clear: Shut up, Dean.

Dean’s heart hammers in his chest, and he nods marginally, causing Cas to finally let go of his mouth. That doesn’t stop him from watching Dean closely, though, and he keeps his eyes on him as he dips back down again and slowly wraps his lips around the head of his cock. Dean lets out a long, gutteral groan, stifling it after a second by biting his lip.

Cas, still watching, gives the head a gentle lick. Dean sucks in a breath and fists the sheets as that tongue teases the slit, the touch so soft it borders on torture. Dean’s muscles are tight from the effort to keep still and not ram himself into that hot mouth. Cas licks him again, more firmly this time, coaxing a drop of cum out. He tastes it, eyebrows furrowed with curiosity, and Dean nearly blows his load right there.

Cas seems to come a decision and sinks down further on Dean’s cock, his lips stretching and his throat convulsing as he takes in the thick girth. Dean exhales roughly and throws his head back, closing his eyes tightly. Jesus , he can’t watch that. It’s too fucking much. He nearly jumps when he feels fingers on his balls, caressing them softly as Cas sucks around him.

Cas drags him back into the moment when he reaches up and takes his hand, the same way Dean had the night before. He squeezes gently, and honestly, he really shouldn’t be that adorable while also looking like an innocent sex kitten with his lips wrapped around Dean’s cock. Dean groans and reaches down with his free hand, tracing those lips, groaning when Cas hums around him.

“Fuck, Cas, you look so goddamn good, sweetheart…”

Cas actually manages to blush and look shy despite having a cock stretching his mouth. Dean smiles then groans as Cas sinks further down until he can feel his pulsing tip nudge against his throat.

“No hurry, angel,” Dean rasps out, sliding his fingers over Cas’s jaw. “Take your time. Don’t gotta take it all in-“

Cas gives a hard, pointed suck and Dean chokes, his hips twitching. Cas breathes deeply through his nose and starts to bob his head slowly, dragging his tongue across the thick vein on the underside of Dean’s cock.

If he hadn't taken care of business just mere minutes ago, the sight of Cas's lips stretched around his cock would've had Dean coming already. As it was it wouldn't be long, with Cas steadily increasing his speed and looking up at him through thick lashes with those gorgeous blue eyes. Dean meets his eyes and lays a hand gently on the back of his head, smoothing down wild hair.

“Jesus , you're fucking gorgeous,” he says breathlessly, and Cas sinks down, burying his nose in curly hair and choking on his cock. One of Cas's hands disappears beneath him and Dean's breath hitches at the thought of Cas touching himself just from this.

Cas seems to lose himself in it, his eyes fluttering as he fights to keep them open. His tongue lavishes the thick cock, slurping obscenely as he takes Dean in as deep as he can. Dean is making all kinds of noises now, his hips pumping shallowly to slide his cock down that tight throat. He babbles praises, Cas’s name falling from his lips, his fingers stroking and tugging at Cas’s hair.

“So good, baby, so good,” Dean moans, prying his eyes open and watching Cas sink down on him again, his own hips pumping as he fucks into his hand. Dean’s orgasm doesn’t build, it rams into him, making him gasp and arch as he comes. Cas takes it all in, swallowing every drop he can catch while a few escape out of the corners of his mouth.

Dean hauls him up the length of his body and pulls him in for a kiss, a hand traveling down to hook behind his thigh and pull him into his lap. Cas cups his face as he kisses him back, rutting gently against his stomach. He pulls away breathlessly but Dean holds him there with a hand on the back of his neck, pressing their foreheads together.

“Cas, baby, you- I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was amazing, but-” Dean huffs, meeting his gaze, “you didn’t have to do that.”

Cas clicks his tongue and gives him a look, then kisses him again. He deepens it this time, teasing his tongue just inside Dean’s lips, and Dean can vaguely taste himself on Cas’s tongue. He groans as Cas grinds his cock into his stomach and they pull apart with a wet sound. Dean pulls at Cas’s thigh encouragingly and buries his face into Cas’s neck, finding a spot to latch onto.

“That’s it, gorgeous,” he says huskily, sucking a mark into Cas’s pretty tan skin. “C’mon, c’mon…” Cas shudders against him and jerks when Dean’s hand moves from his neck to in between their bodies, finding that aching cock and squeezing it. Cas opens his mouth in a silent groan, clinging to Dean desperately as he rocks his body. Seconds later, after Dean twists his palm just right, Cas is coming all over Dean’s stomach. He jerks on top of Dean, pumping his hips as his seed shoots out, then finally going still.

Cas heaves a sigh as he flops bonelessly to Dean's side. Dean chuckles and groans as he pushes himself up, scrubbing a hand down his face and dangling his legs off the side of the bed.

“Made a mess of me, babe,” he teases, looking back at Cas. Cas blushes and pulls the sheets up to his chin. Dean grabs a shirt from the floor and wipes off his stomach, then tosses it into his hamper. “Uh uh,” he says gently, pulling the sheets out of Cas’s grasp and letting them fall around his waist. “Let me see you.”

Cas makes a half hearted attempt to grab the sheets, but Dean slaps his hands away and climbs back onto the bed. “Baby, we’ve had each other’s dicks in our mouths. Seeing you naked ain’t a big deal.”

Cas blushes but tucks himself against Dean’s side, a leg thrown over his waist. Dean smiles and pulls him close, kissing the top of his head.

“Mm, I like this,” Dean sighs. “Can’t tell you how many times I thought about it. Not just the sex part, but...this. You, right here.”

Cas doesn’t answer, not that Dean expects him to, but he begins tracing patterns in his skin, brushing his fingertips gently across a nipple and causing Dean to twitch. He props his head on Dean’s shoulder and looks up at him, smiling softly.

“Speechless, huh? I tend to have that effect.”

Cas huffs a laugh and rolls his eyes, laying his palm flat against Dean’s chest. Dean ghosts his fingers across the small of his back and kisses the top of his head again.

“I, uh. I picked up a few things for you today.”

Cas frowns and Dean looks down at him, shrugging slightly. “Just...thought you could use some clothes of your own. And, uh...a case for your camera.”

Cas pulls back to look at him better, his frown deepening. He seems to consider it for a moment, his eyes shifting between Dean to the sheets draped over their bodies.

“I just put the clothes in that bottom drawer over there, so you’d have somewhere to keep them. But they should fit you a little better than the ones you’ve been wearing of mine.”

Cas’s focus seems to glaze over, his eyes looking everywhere but at Dean. Dean licks his lips nervously and gently detangles himself from Cas’s warm body. “It’s just, uh, my old clothes are falling apart,” he says as he stands, wrapping a sheet around his waist and walking over to the dresser. He opens up the bottom drawer, pulling out one of the pair of jeans. “See? No holes. And they’re your size, so they should be more comfortable.”

Cas is staring at him and Dean swallows, gently tucking the jeans away. He ducks into the closet and grabs the camera bag. It’s a nice, black leather bag with plenty of room for accessories, and a perfect place for Cas’s camera to keep it safe. Dean sits on the edge of the bed and holds it out for Cas, who blinks and slowly pulls it into his lap. He fingers the straps, the leather, the many pockets.

“Cas, this isn’t...there’s no expectation here,” Dean says nervously. This isn’t at all how he’d pictured this going. He’d thought Cas would be excited, if not for the clothes than for the bag. “Those old clothes...I just wanted to get you some that won’t fall apart on you. Something to call yours. And you didn’t have a camera bag, so…” He shrugs, hands fidgeting in his lap.

“Thank you,” Cas signs finally, giving him a smile.

Dean lets out a relieved breath. “You don't have to thank me, Cas.”

Cas presses his lips together and looks back down to the bag, running his fingers gently over the leather. He carefully sits it to the side, pushing himself to his knees and inching over to Dean. He takes his face in his hands and looks at him a long time, blue eyes searching his face, then slowly leans forward and locks their lips together, and Dean’s eyes slide closed reverently.

The kiss lingers, their lips pressed together gently, hands roaming, until they pull away slowly. Dean nips at Cas’s bottom lip then smiles. “Ready for bed, angel?”

Cas nods, his fingers tracing Dean’s jawline, his cheekbones, all the while staring at Dean with an expression he can’t read. Dean kisses his forehead and they crawl under the covers. He flicks off the lamp and pulls Cas close, his chest pressed against his back, nose buried in all that hair. The three words Dean knows he can’t say, but desperately wants to, cling to his throat. It scares him that those feelings are there. They came strong and fast, barreling Dean over with no warning, but if he is honest with himself, he didn’t really do much to stop it. He’s deep in it now and for once Dean isn’t interested in climbing out.

----

The alarm goes off the next morning entirely too early, as it always does. Dean grumbles to himself as he flops over onto his stomach and slaps a hand down on his bedside table, missing the alarm clock but succeeding in knocking a whole bunch of other crap to the floor. He curses and opens one eye, fixating on the red flashing numbers in the midst of the dark, and slaps the snooze button. He sniffs loudly as he rolls to his back, scrubbing a hand down his face and letting his arm fall out beside him, hitting cool, soft sheets. Dean frowns and feels around, but the warmth from the night before is gone, his hand only finding more of the empty expanse.

“Cas?”

He sits up and feels around again in the dark. Nothing.

He reaches back over to the table and flips on the lamp with a shaking hand, squinting as light floods the room. Cas's side of the bed is empty and largely undisturbed, the impression of his body still vaguely pressed onto the sheets.

“Cas?” His voice is less composed now, and he looks around the room confusedly. Dean scrambles to his feet and pulls on a pair of boxers, then stumbles out into the living room and flips on the light. Everything is just as they left it the night before, save for the camera bag neatly zipped back up and sitting on the kitchen table. Dean swallows, his heart starting to pound painfully against his chest. He rubs at it and casts his eyes around helplessly, as if expecting Cas to pop out of nowhere. Everything is quiet and terribly empty.

“Cas…” he calls out softly, receiving no answer, of course. The silence, normally so comfortable, is deafening and it slices through him like a knife. Dean backs into the bedroom and collapses onto the bed, the bed that he’d shared with Cas just the night before. He puts his face in his hands and shakes uncontrollably, cursing his own stupidity for allowing himself to fall so hard, so fast.

Eventually, though, he's forced to pull himself out of bed and prepare for work since it's his day to open. He considers the idea that perhaps Cas would be at the diner already, and while he doesn't truly believe it, it has him getting ready so quickly that he doesn't even bother to put color in his hair or apply his eyeliner. He races to the diner, the Impala roaring down the deserted road, but there are no signs of anyone in or around the shop then he pulls up. He growls and shifts the car roughly into park, getting out and digging in his pocket for his keys as he approaches the entrance.

He grumbles to himself as he searches for the key, only to realize it's most certainly no longer on his keyring. He curses loudly and shoves the keys back in his pocket, kicking the rugged welcome mat in front of the door and using the spare key hidden beneath it to unlock the door. He scrubs a hand down his face in frustration as he steps inside and the bell clangs above him, too loud for the deafening silence inside. When he flips on the light it's immediately clear to him that something feels different, and it only takes him seconds to figure out why.

Sitting on top of the bar is the lone diner key and a piece of paper, and above that, hanging above the kitchen window, is a gorgeous, black and white vintage photo of his beloved Impala. Dean stops in his tracks, hand fidgeting at his side as he stares at it. It's more gorgeous than he remembers it being when Cas showed it to him, although that could have been due to the distracting beauty of the absolute delight on Cas's face as he excitedly discussed his vision for it. Dean's throat thickens and he coughs irritability, running a hand through his hair and pulling at the longer strands on top. He sniffs loudly and tears his eyes away, his boots scuffing against the tile floor as he takes the few steps to the bar. He picks up the key and the note, written on order paper, his eyes blurring as he reads the messy scrawl.

I'm sorry.

Dean crumples the paper and tosses it into the trash. For a brief moment, he contemplates tossing the picture somewhere in the back, but he can’t bring himself to do it. The fact is he loves it, and he doesn’t want to part with the one thing he has left now of Cas’s. Maybe he’s a glutton for punishment, because it hurts to even look at the beautiful photo, but Dean knows he’ll keep it. He rationalizes that he’s in the kitchen most of the time and therefore won’t see it too often, and it’s not like everyone has to know how much it breaks his heart.

Dean roughly pockets the key and stomps into the kitchen, blinking back the burning of his eyes as he starts prepping the kitchen. He grabs his phone and quickly dials Charlie, balancing the phone between his head and shoulder as he works.

“Hey, what’s u-”

“Can you come in?” Dean asks gruffly, switching on the dials of the stove.

“Ah...yeah, sure. Might be a few minutes late. I just woke-”

“Fine,” Dean ends the call and stuffs the phone back in his pocket. Opening up by himself is hectic and he’d planned on Cas being there. Without him, he’s stuck getting everything ready from back to front. By the time Charlie is rushing in, the diner’s been open for about twenty minutes. Luckily it isn’t too busy, but more would be coming soon. Charlie doesn’t ask questions, even when she sees Dean’s colorless hair and lack of eyeliner. She grabs an apron and pad, and gets to work.

Dean busies himself with cooking when he can and cleaning when he has spare time, doing all he can to keep his mind off the absence of dark hair and blue eyes. It’s not until Benny comes in for the lunch shift that he realizes what time it is, and he quickly strips off his gloves and throws them in the trash.

“Hey, boss-”

“Can I bum one from you?”

Benny cocks a brow but doesn’t argue, pulling his pack of menthols from his back pocket and passing them to Dean. He sticks a cigarette behind his ear and takes the lighter Benny offers him, then stalks out of the kitchen and through the door out back.

He’s barely gotten the cigarette lit before Benny joins him, and Dean makes a disapproving noise in his throat and checks the time on his phone. Benny’s early and still has a good half hour before his shift technically starts, so Dean doesn’t really have a leg to stand on with the comment he was ready to make about wasting company time. He drags his teeth across his top lip and takes a long drag of the cigarette, looking down at it in his hand as he ashes it.

Benny pulls his own from behind his ear and lights it, breathing in deeply as he leans against the brick wall. “Rough mornin’?”

Dean grunts in response.

Benny sighs, taking another drag, letting the smoke billow out of his nose. “You really gonna make me come right out and ask?”

“Ask what,” Dean mutters, taking a deep inhale. He isn’t one to smoke, except the occasional joint. This particular morning calls for it, though.

Benny is quiet for a moment. “He gone, then?”

Dean stares down at his cigarette. “Yeah.”

Benny nods slowly, side eyeing Dean as he scratches a cheek. “Guessin’ it wasn’t a mutual agreement.”

“No.”

Benny nods again. “And I don’t suppose you want to talk about it.”

“You know what I really want?” Dean says softly.

Benny raises a brow. “Besides a certain blue-eyed stranger?”

“I really wanna drink,” Dean sighs, taking one last drag before snuffing it out under his boot.

“Thought you’d quit that.”

Dean scowls and pushes it off the wall. “Old habits die hard.”

Benny eyes him for a moment, then finally shrugs, raising the cigarette to his lips. “Yeah, okay. Alright. Well, why don’t you at least wait til I get off tonight so I can go with you, make sure you don’t overdo it.”

“Not lookin’ for a babysitter.”

“Right. Well Andrea’s being all weird and I could really use a drink myself anyway, so why don’t you take pity on me and let me join you?”

Dean scoffs. “You’re a shit liar.” He scuffs the toe of his boot against the extinguished butt, then shrugs. “Fine. Whatever. We can close it up a little early tonight. Ash and Missouri can find somewhere else to spend their evening. Let Kevin know if he shows up, too.”

Benny nods and drops his cigarette to the ground, crushing it under his boot. He shoves his hands in his pockets and looks down. “Alright, then.” They’re both quiet for a few more moments, Dean considering going back inside but not really wanting to face people...or worse, Charlie. “Where you reckon he disappeared to?”

“Dunno.” Dean pushes himself off the wall and crosses over in front of Benny, pulling the door open. “Don’t care. Doesn’t matter.”

Benny opens his mouth to say something, but the door slams shut before he can even utter a word. The rest of Dean’s shift is tense, mostly silence broken with barked orders and dark mumbling under his breath. Benny doesn’t say anything else about Cas and Charlie is smart enough not to ask. They both breathe a little easier when it’s time for him to leave, Charlie only issuing a soft ‘bye’ as Dean throws off his apron and stomps out.

She watches him drive off and turns to Benny with a frown. “What-”

“Don’t ask, darlin’.”

----

When Dean gets home, he’s not sure what to do with himself. Everything reminds him of Cas. The stack of DVDs he always picked from every night after work, the guitar Dean woke up to him playing almost every morning, and of course the camera bag still sitting innocently on the table.

Dean stares at it then wordlessly picks it up, the thought to toss it out crossing his mind. He doesn’t, of course. Instead, he places it carefully in the back of the closet along with the clothes. Perhaps it’s from some false hope that one day Cas might come back, which Dean knows is stupid, but just like the photo he can’t bring himself to care about any sort of logic.

He spends the next two hours meticulously cleaning the house, despite the fact that he normally keeps it pretty clean to begin with. He even scrubs the floor and wipes down the blinds, then he pulls all the cushions off the couch to vacuum underneath. He stops midway through when he spots something shoved in the crease at the back of the sofa, and he bends down to pick it up, turning it over in his hands. It’s one of Cas’s memory cards for his camera, one of many, and Dean tosses it on the coffee table and tries not to think about what may be on it. For a brief moment he feels bad that Cas won’t have some of his pictures, but he pushes that thought aside too. Cas is the one who left, not Dean. He made that choice.

Dean’s mind does, however, wander to what could have caused Cas to make that decision in the first place. He was doing great in Sioux Falls, and they were happy...or so Dean thought. Maybe he’d imagined it all. Maybe he was so blindingly happy himself that he couldn’t see how miserable Cas was even when it was right in front of his face.

But no, he had been happy, hadn’t he? He stayed, despite his instincts telling him otherwise. Dean asked him to stay, and he did. It was barely even a fight when it came down to it. Deep down, some part of Cas must have wanted a life different to what he’d grown accustomed to living.

None of that really mattered now, though. Cas is gone and that’s that. There’s no point in thinking about what was or what could have been. The fact is it hadn’t been good enough for Cas. Dean hadn’t been good enough.

He slams the closet door shut and pulls the sheets off the bed. They still smell like Cas, like them . Sleeping would be hard enough without the scent lingering around. Next to come off is the clothes followed by a quick, mindless shower. He stares at the mirror, still damp, and glances at the line of bottles on the counter. It’s like a rainbow, from light to dark colors, all neatly arranged. He grunts and dries off his hair, once again going without any color, and pulls on a pair of jeans and shirt he barely even glances at. Going to a dive bar doesn’t require anything flashy, especially since he plans to get slobbering drunk whether Benny likes it or not.

He picks Benny up at the diner around eight thirty, pointedly ignoring stares from Ash and Missouri as Benny ushers them out and locks up. He’s still wearing the same jeans he worked in, but he did change his shirt into a navy blue button-up. He gets in the car and gives Dean a nod, and Dean drives the direction of the dive bar just on the edge of town, Crowley’s, run by a stocky Scot named Fergus MacLeod, who named the place after the name he preferred to go by. The guy himself is a little slimy as far as personality goes, but he and Dean got to know each other pretty well several years back when Sam first left for college and Dean was regularly drinking himself silly. He probably still has Bobby’s number on speed dial for all the times he had to call him to pick Dean up from the bar at closing time.

“Squirrel,” Crowley says cheerily from behind the bar, sliding a beer to a heavy-set man in a plaid shirt and trucker cap. “Moose out of the area again, I take it?”

“Can it, you slimy devil,” Dean growls as he slides into a stool, Benny following close behind. Damn it, he’s gonna be breathing down his neck the whole night. It’ll be a miracle if he even gets tipsy with the guy watching his every sip.

“Oooh, testy tonight,” Crowley smirks. “I love it when you’re all broody, darling.”

“For fuck’s sake,” Dean scrubs a hand over his face. “Just get me a damn whiskey and shut the hell up.”

Crowley chuckles and pours Dean a generous glass, which is drowned in seconds before Benny can even try to stop it. He scowls at Dean, who just shrugs him off and signals for another glass.

“Told you I wasn’t lookin’ for a babysitter,” Dean grunts. Benny just sighs and orders a beer, sipping it slowly.

“Not babysittin’,” Benny says easily. “Just a concerned friend, is all.”

Crowley hums and leans over the bar, resting his chin in his hands. “Trouble in paradise, boys?”

Dean glares at him and pushes his glass closer, then claps it down on the bar with a loud clink. Crowley chuckles and reaches under the bar for a bottle of whiskey, refilling the glass.

“We’re not having this conversation, Crowley.”

“Awww, come on, this is what we do! You come here and get sloppy drunk, tell me all your secrets...I, in turn, keep this glass full and that pretty little head of yours foggy with whatever good time I can find around this dump, the occasional offer of a quickie in the bathroom-”

Dean’s stare hardens and he tilts his head threateningly. “You’re done.”

Crowley tongues the inside of his cheek. “Right, then. Well if- when - you need me, I’m just a subtle signal away.” He slaps a hand on the bar and gives Dean a wicked grin, moving to the far end of the bar to replenish a couple of beers.

Benny sighs heavily and rubs his cheek awkwardly. “So he didn’t say nothin’?”

Dean turns his glare to him, slowly spinning his shot glass between his fingers. “That supposed to be some kind of joke?”

Benny’s eyes widen slightly and he blushes, then shakes his head. “What? No, no, I didn’t mean- I just… you got no idea where he’s off to?”

“No.” Dean throws back the whiskey and grazes his teeth over his lip. “And I said I don’t wanna talk about it.” He leans up and reaches over the bar, grabbing the bottle of whiskey by the neck and sitting back down in his seat, tipping it to the shot glass.

Benny huffs and takes the bottle, holding it away from Dean. “Yeah, but I don’t really give a damn what you said. This ain’t Jo. It ain’t Lisa. Now tell me what happened.”

“I don’t fucking know, okay?” Dean snaps, causing a few heads to turn. He glares at them, eyes dark with anger. “Gotta problem? Mind your own fuckin’ business!”

“Alright,” Benny takes him by the arm and drags him to a table in the back, forcing him into a chair. “Before you start a damn brawl. Sit down and tell me what happened.” Benny sits across from him, keeping Dean’s drink out of arm reach.

“I don’t know ,” Dean snarls. “And if you keep askin’ I’m gonna leave your ass here.”

“Well, something musta scared him off,” Benny says, unconcerned with Dean’s empty threats. “Think on it, Dean. Go over the last few hours you had with him.”

Dean growls and tugs at his hair roughly. “Fuck, Benny, I don’t know what to tell you. We worked, we came home, I had a shower, we...did some stuff, I showed him some clothes I got him, and we went to sleep. Woke up, he was gone. Only thing he left for me was a stupid note saying ‘I’m sorry’.”

“Okay…” Benny says slowly, handing Dean back his drink. “Anything happen at the diner?”

“No,” Dean drowns his glass and signals for another one.

“Okay, at home,” Benny tilts his head. “The, uh...stuff. Did you... push -”

“Jesus Christ, no!” Dean spits out.

Benny holds up his hands. “Easy, chief. I’m just tryin’ to understand it. So he was comfortable with whatever you two did.”

Dean shrugs and stares down at his still empty glass. “I assume so. He sort of initiated it.”

“Really?” Benny raises his eyebrows and clears his throat. “Okay. Well… did he give you any indication that he was unhappy?”

“No,” Dean says moodily, sliding his glass forward and scrubbing a hand down his face. “You know, that happened, then we were laying there and I told him I'd bought him some clothes-" Dean lets his hand drop to the table, eyes widening as he stares straight ahead. “Oh. Oh. Oh, shit.”

Benny opens his mouth, eyes wide, shaking his head slightly. “What?”

“Shit. Shit, shit!” Dean slams his hand on the table. “That's it.”

Benny holds his hand out in question. “What's it? Help me out here, man.”

“The drawer ,” Dean moans into his hands, shaking his head. “I gave him a drawer.”

“A… drawer.”

Yes, Benny, I-" Dean huffs, running a hand irritably through his hair. “I bought him clothes and a camera bag and when I told him he seemed...I don't know, weird about it. And before, he- he kept telling me he couldn't stay. But I thought we were past that, I thought…” he sighs heavily, rubbing his eyes. “I dunno what I thought.”

Benny furrows his brow and adjusts his hat, pulling on the brim, puffing out his cheeks with a heavy exhale. “What's that mean? He ‘couldn't stay’?”

Crowley finally sees his empty glass and drops the bottle of whiskey off at their table, blessedly silent. Dean refills it and takes a gulp. “Don’t really know exactly. Said something about...he’s always been on the road. Doesn’t know how to not be. Thinks I’ll get tired of him, that the nonverbal thing will become a problem. Told him I could never get tired of him and the nonverbal stuff doesn’t bother me at all.”

“And what did he say to that?”

Dean sighs and rubs at his eyes. “That he becomes a burden to everyone eventually.”

Benny frowns thoughtfully. “So he didn’t really believe you’d stick around.”

“Ironic,” Dean snorts. “He’s the one that didn’t stick around.”

“Maybe he was just tryin’ to protect himself.”

Dean narrows his eyes. “From what? Me?”

Benny shrugs and leans back in his chair. “I mean...not exactly what I was gonna say, but yeah. You didn’t know him for very long, Dean, and you moved...sorta fast with him. You had him moved in and workin’ at the diner in less than a week.”

“So?” Dean grumbles.

“So...maybe he doesn’t want commitment. He saw you were fallin’ and decided to split.”

“No. No, he-” Dean chews his lip, fingering the rim of his glass. “It wasn’t...I mean, I don’t think it was one-sided. It didn’t feel one-sided, Benny, he-” his throat thickens and he coughs, pointedly looking down, speaking slowly and deliberately. “He’s the only person who’s ever just...liked me, for me. And I was trying to prove to him that I liked him for him, and that I didn’t give a shit about the talking thing, or the fact that he was homeless, or his lack of experience. I just wanted him. I thought…”

“You thought it was real,” Benny finishes for him.

Dean sighs. “Yeah.”

Benny takes a sip of his beer and clears his throat, leaning forward. “And who’s to say it wasn’t?”

Dean glares at him again. “He’s gone, Benny. That says enough.”

“Maybe,” Benny says, spinning his beer between his fingers on the tabletop. “But we got no way of knowin’ why he left. It may not have anything to do with you at all. And anyway,” he pauses, looking like he was hesitant to continue, “I dunno, man. I saw the way he looked at you when you won’t lookin’, everyone did. I dunno if it was it, but it was somethin’. And it damn sure was real. So don’t you ever think that boy didn’t care about you. You ask me, whatever this is, the reason he left...it’s him. It ain’t you.”

Dean scoffs and drowns the rest of his drink. “Oldest excuse in the book. ‘It’s not you, it’s me’.”

“Dean-”

“I’m done talkin’ about it, Benny,” Dean says, pushing out of his chair and grabbing the bottle of whiskey, heading to the bar. “I’m here to drink myself stupid.”

Benny sighs and adjusts his hat tiredly. He has a long night ahead of him.

----

Benny eventually drags Dean out of the bar a little past two in the morning. He’d managed to keep Dean somewhat sober, except the last half hour when Dean swiped a second bottle of whiskey without his knowing. When Benny discovered it, the bottle was mostly gone and Dean was sloppy. Benny called it quits then and there, and is now practically carrying Dean into his house.

“Hope you got it outta your system,” Benny says grumpily, tossing Dean onto his bed roughly. Dean groans and curls into a ball, and Benny raises his eyes in prayer that he doesn’t have to clean vomit-covered sheets in the morning.

“Sleep it off, chief,” Benny sighs, slipping out the room and deciding the couch is looking like a damn fine place to crash for the night.

----

Dean wakes the next morning to a dark room and a pounding headache, Benny nudging his arm with a glass of water and only succeeding in spilling half of it on him and his sheets.

“What the hell, Benny,” he growls, swatting at him in the dark.

“Drink,” Benny commands simply, flicking on the light and holding the glass up to his face. Dean squints and covers his eyes for a moment, then gently pushes the glass away.

“‘m fine.”

“Your funeral.” Benny sits the glass on the bedside table and walks over to the bathroom, turning the light on and grabbing a bottle of mouthwash. He pours some in his mouth and swishes it around, then spits and motions to Dean. “Why don’t you take today? I can deal with the diner.”

Dean blinks at him, frowning against the light. He groans as he rolls to his side, sniffing loudly. “I’m the boss and you’re tellin’ me to take the day?”

“In the event that you’re incapacitated or absent, I reserve the right to order people around. And there ain’t no way I’m lettin’ you come in today like this.”

Dean scoffs. “And if I disagree?”

Benny caps the mouthwash and sits it on the counter, turning off the light and walking back out in the room, gripping the top of his black suspenders. “Then I’ll call Bobby.”

Dean manages a weak, withering glare. “Bitch.”

Benny smiles. “So you’re gonna be good and stay home?”

“Fine,” Dean growls, planting his face into his pillow.

“Good, because I’m already late opening up the diner.” Benny pats down his pockets, checking to make sure he has his keys and wallet. “Make sure you drink water and don’t spend all day moping in bed.”

“‘M not mopin’,” Dean says, his voice muffled.

Benny hums and heads towards the door, grabbing his hat and jacket.

“Benny.”

He stops and turns, raising a brow. “Yeah, chief?”

Dean rolls onto his back and runs fingers through his hair, sighing as he let his hand fall to his stomach. “I think...I think I loved him.”

Benny’s face softens. “I know.”

He closes the door behind him, leaving Dean with his headache and moping. He closes his eyes and desperately tries to imagine Cas clinging to his side, an arm and leg draped over him, breathing softly and silently into his neck, but all he’s reminded of is the cold emptiness of the morning he left.

Chapter Text

~December

 

 

    “So you really think she’ll like it?”

    Dean chops the veggies and meat for a philly steak sandwich on the grill with his spatula, nodding absently. “Yes, Sam. She’d be crazy not to.”

    Sam sighs and lays his arms in the window, resting his chin on top of them. “I’m talking about it too much, aren’t I?”

    “What? No, you’re fine.” Dean tongues the inside of his cheek and cuts open a hoagie roll, tucking the meat and veggies inside and sprinkling the top with mozzarella. He plates it and dumps a pile of potato wedges next to it, sliding it into the window. “Just distracted, is all. Sorry.”

    “Still worried about the business?” Sam glances back at the near empty diner. “Or lack thereof.”

    “Yeah,” Dean lies easily, scraping leftover meat and veggies off the surface of the grill. In truth, the diner always slowed down in the colder months, and specifically around the holidays. With Christmas just around the corner, people didn’t have the extra money to spend on their vehicles unless it was absolutely necessary, and a slow garage meant a slow diner. But that isn’t the real issue, since Dean prepares for that all year, putting money aside to get him through the slump. No, the real issue had nothing at all to do with food or customers.

    It’s been months since Cas disappeared without explanation, and he hasn’t even checked in to let anyone know he’s okay. Dean still doesn’t have the faintest idea where he could be, or why he left. It definitely hasn’t been easy for him, and God help him, even now that he’s basically lost all hope of ever seeing the guy again, he still looks for him everywhere. He’d even desperately scanned the “missed connections” section of Craigslist, in hopes that perhaps Cas would post there, even though he knew good and well that he was long gone.

    “You’ll get through it,” Sam says, bringing Dean out of his thoughts.

    “What?” he looks up, blinking at Sam.

    “Uh, the diner,” Sam frowns, giving Dean an odd look. “It’s always kinda slow right now, right? But it’s never caused too many problems…”

    “Oh...right,” Dean shrugs, wishing he had something else to cook. As it is, there’s only one customer in the diner. Ash is his only customer that shows up regularly this time of year. Even Missouri doesn’t show up as much, saving every penny she has for a flight to see her ungrateful son and sweet granddaughter.

    “Dude, you okay?” Sam reaches through the window, poking at Dean’s weirdly unweird , normal color hair. “You’ve been acting weird since I got back.”

    “I’m fine,” Dean says shortly and takes off his apron. “Watch the front for me. I need a break.”

    He tosses his gloves in the trash and walks out before Sam has the chance to respond, stepping out back and closing the door behind him. He leans back against the wall with a sigh, running a hand through his hair. He hasn’t felt like himself since Cas left, if he’s being completely honest with himself, like the guy took a piece of him with him. Everyone at the diner has been really careful not to mention him at all, ever since the tantrum- for lack of a better word- that he threw when Charlie got fed up with his silence and pressed him for answers. It took him all night to get the front of the house back in decent shape and he’d had to replace a few of the old wooden chairs, but it was almost worth it to not have people asking him what was wrong all the time. He’d told Sam in the simplest of terms what happened, and Sam thankfully knew him well enough not to pry. He’d even had the good sense not to bring up the bet they’d made.

    The stupid photograph of Baby still hangs proudly above the window of the kitchen, and even though looking at it brings Dean equal parts joy and grief, he still hasn’t taken it down. It looks like it belongs there now, and he can’t imagine what the diner looked like without it anymore. It completely changed the feel of the diner for him, much like Cas changed his life in the short amount of time he’d been apart of it.

    “Thought I’d find you out here.”

    Dean sighs and glances up as Bobby ambles over, once again favoring one knee over the other.

    “Shouldn’t you be sittin’ down?” Dean mumbles, digging into his pocket for his pack of cigarettes. Sam absolutely hates that he’s picked up the old habit again, but Dean can’t find himself to care. It’s not like he’s smoking a pack a day.

    “Probably,” Bobby grunts, glaring as Dean lights up. “Just like you shouldn’t be putting that crap in your body.”

    “Says the old man who still drinks whiskey like water.”

    “You givin’ me lip, boy?”

    Dean sighs, smoke billowing out his nose. “No, sir.”

    “Good. Now,” Bobby groans as he sits on a stack of old tires. “We need to talk about Christmas. When are you and Sam plannin’ on-”

    “Sam won’t be here.”

    Bobby frowns up at Dean. “What? Why the hell not?”

    Dean snorts and his head falls back against the wall. “He’s gonna visit Eileen and her family for Christmas. Leavin’ a few days before.”

    “Right, right. The proposal.” Bobby clasps his hands together between his knees. “Well. Guess it’ll be just me, you, and Rufus this year.”

    “Yeah.”

    Bobby raises his brows. “Think Rufus is set on his deep-fried turkey again. Missouri’s offered to make us some pies. Said she’d make that special pecan for you.”

    A smile pulls at Dean’s lips. “It’s called derby pie, and it ain’t nothin’ but pecan pie sprinkled with chocolate chips.” He huffs and waves a dismissive hand. “I’ll have to thank her.”

    “Damn right, you will. Be a shame if your lack of manners is what makes her stop bringin’ sweets over. ‘S the only good food I get anymore.”

    “Don’t be dramatic, old man.”

    “Shaddup.” Bobby groans as he pulls himself to his feet. “Hey, listen, I need all the help I can get from Ash today taking inventory ‘fore the end of the year, so if you catch him down here at all send him straight back to me. ‘M not tryin’ to be at this garage until the ringin’ in of the new year tryin’ to wrap things up.”

    “He’s stuffing his face full of Philly right now.”

    Bobby curses and hobbles his way inside the diner and Dean cracks a smile as he hears the old man barking. Truth be told he’s a little worried about Bobby. His health issues were no laughing matter and running the garage is taking its toll. Dean brought up retirement once and Bobby hadn’t talked to him for days afterwards. Dean hasn’t broached the subject again, but he knew he’d have to soon. The man simply couldn’t keep up this work pace anymore. Sam doesn’t understand why Dean is so stubborn about getting Bobby to settle down. If the garage closed, so did the diner. Dean supposes that scares him a little, but the thought of losing the diner just didn’t matter to him as much. It’d been little more than a passion project; something he liked to do and happened to make some money off of. Dean only likes it as much as he does because of the people he works with. Sam is starting a new life, though. Benny only works part time now. Charlie has a real job and only works during the summer on most occasions, unless she needs the extra cash. And Cas…

    Dean huffs and scuffs out his cigarette, heading back in just in time to see Bobby dragging Ash out by his outdated hair. It leaves the place completely empty save for himself and Sam, so Dean pulls out his phone and hops up on the bar, facing the kitchen. Sam leans back against the wall beside the window, crossing his arms over his chest.

    “Hey,” Sam says after a bout of silence, “you gonna be okay? I mean, Christmas alone...been a long time since we haven’t spent Christmas morning together. I know it’s hard for you-”

    “Don’t flatter yourself, Sammy,” Dean grumbles, scrolling through Facebook. He hardly ever gets on, let alone posts anything, and it’s more than a little depressing to see all of his friends with their happy families and Christmas plans. He closes the app and sets the phone to the side, scrubbing a hand over his face. “I’ll be fine. S’pose I’ll need to be getting used to it, anyway.”

    “Right…” Sam frowns and watches him for a moment, then heaves a sigh. “You know, when the day comes, I’ll only be a short flight away.”

    “Yeah, well, you know I don’t fly.”

    “A day’s drive, then.”

    Dean snorts. “It’s fine, Sam. I understand. Not fair of me to expect you to stick around here, anyway. And honestly… can’t even be mad about who you ended up with. Eileen’s perfect.”

    He looks down at his nails, the very last of the black nail polish from the last time he painted them at the very tips of his nails. A good clipping would rid him of the rest of it, and he’d be just as plain as everybody else, the last trace of his originality gone so he could just fade into the background.

    “Yeah, I think so t-”

    The shopkeeper’s bell clangs behind them, but Dean doesn’t bother to look up. This time of the day, it’s likely Kevin with his fucking laptop coming to set up shop for the remaining hours of operation.

    “ Oh , shit.”

    Dean looks up at Sam and raises an eyebrow. “Wha-”

    Sam’s looking past him though, his face pale and serious. He swallows hard and looks back to Dean with worried eyes, and when Dean finally turns, he loses his breath.

    Cas is standing there as if he never left, clutching an arm and hunched over against the cold. Dean notices, a bit irritably, that his jacket is way too thin for how cold it is outside. Cas is still as beautiful as ever, though, with his wind swept hair and those eyes that are so blue Dean had been starting to think he’d made them up.

Dean notices a few other things, too. Like Cas’s red nose, the sniffling and shaking, and the tired bags under his eyes. Dean pushes off the counter, ready to comfort and feed and protect, but stops himself. Cas had chosen this. He’d left Dean knowing full well that winter months would be hard without Dean’s help, and had still left anyway.

Sam looks at Dean carefully then at Cas, finally snapping out of his trance even as his older brother keeps staring.

“Uh, hey, Cas,” Sam clears his throat. Cas barely spares him a glance, too caught up in green to really notice anyone else. Sam resists the urge to roll his eyes, because seriously these two were kind of ridiculous.

“You’re missing color,” Cas signs hopefully with the tiniest hint of a smile, but Dean huffs incredulously and shakes his head slowly.

“You, uh, wanna sit?” Sam says finally and indicates a table, raising a brow. Cas hesitates then nods, sliding into his old table stiffly, hunched over as if he is trying to shield himself from Dean’s hard gaze.

Dean lets out a slow breath and leans against the bar, sinking down onto his forearms. Cas barely glances up at him and looks down again, but Dean’s stare never wavers, and Cas fidgets under it. Sam gives Dean one more look before he walks over to the table, and Dean continues to stare at the spot that Cas would be if Sam hadn’t purposefully blocked his view. Sam comes back after a moment, waving a ticket in Dean’s face and saying something that Dean doesn’t have the mental capacity to understand at this moment, and he finally tears his eyes away from Cas to look at Sam.

“...what?”

“Just give him the special. Says he’s not here for food, but-”

Dean licks his lips and squares his shoulders, nostrils flaring as he pushes past Sam, despite his weak protests. Dean strides up to the table and slaps a hand on the old wood, making Cas jump and look up at him with wide eyes.

“The hell’s your problem, man?” he snaps angrily, and Cas opens and closes his mouth, shaking his head slightly. “No, you know what, don’t answer that. You could’ve said something, Cas. Anything. You could’ve fucking talked to me, could’ve explained why you had to go, even after everything, I-” he swallows and clears his throat, looking down and steadying his voice, “you could’ve given me some peace of mind, at the very least. So fuck you, Cas. I didn’t deserve that.”

“You’re right,” Cas signs finally, eyes sad.

“I know I am.”

“I’m sorry…”

“You damn well better be,” Dean growls, feeling close to tears and red hot rage, and managing to keep both in check. “Why did you do that? I’ve been worrying myself to death over you, wondering if you’re okay, if you’re even alive . Jesus, Cas, all you had to do was find a phone and-“

“Dean.”

Dean snaps his head up and glares at Sam.

“Maybe do this later when we’re not in a public place?” Sam suggests pointedly.

Dean frowns, narrowing his eyes. “There’s no one here, Sam.”

“Yeah, well, I am,” Sam crosses his arms over his chest. “And I’m sure Cas doesn’t want to have this discussion with me hovering in the background. Get in the kitchen and make him some food.”

Dean’s nostrils flare, because what the fuck. He’s the big brother, damn it. He should tell Sam where to stick his reasonable advice. But one look at Cas has Dean’s resolve crumbling. Cas looks haggard, sad, exhausted, maybe even a little scared.

“Fine,” Dean snaps at both of them, causing Cas to jump again. He stomps off into the kitchen and the sound of pots and pans banging has Sam rolling his eyes.

Dean slams a bowl down on the counter and spoons a generous amount of chicken and dumplings into it, and he stalks back out onto the floor, past Sam’s waiting hands, and sits it roughly in front of Cas. He jumps again and casts his gaze downward, but Dean refuses to feel bad about it. He pulls a chair from another table and throws a leg over it, his arms resting on the back of the chair.

“Dean-”

“You can go home, Sammy,” Dean says without looking. “I can close up here myself.”

Sam, for once, has the good sense not to argue, and he takes off his apron and throws it on the bar, giving Cas an apologetic look and leaving without another word.

“Why’d you do it?”

Cas shifts in his seat, looking down at his food, still trembling slightly from the cold. Dean pushes the bowl closer and holds out a spoon, giving him a hard stare until he finally takes it and shovels a bite into his mouth.

“I don’t know,” he finally signs when he sits down his spoon, tapping the tabletop a few times nervously. “I’m not used to staying anywhere for long, I’m not used to being paid attention to, let alone-” he stopped signing abruptly, looking out the window and taking a deep breath. “I felt like I couldn’t breathe, it was so much...I know I should have told you, but I knew you wouldn’t understand.”

Dean grits his teeth. “Then why are you here, Cas? Huh? Why’d you even come back? Do you even realize how hard these past few months have been for me? Cause maybe you didn’t feel the way I did, but it’s still fucked up to disappear on someone you knew cared about you, maybe even-” a lump forms in his throat and he swallows past it, looking down so Cas doesn’t notice the sudden shine in his eyes.

“Me too,” Cas signs sincerely. “I did, too. I do.”

Dean gives a choked exhale and presses his tongue to the back of his teeth, a sort of something resembling adrenaline leaving him a little winded. “What?”

“It’s almost Christmas,” Cas signs, “and you’re supposed to spend Christmas with family. That short time with you made you feel more like my family than my actual family does. I wanted to spend it here, with you, if you’ll have me.” He sighs and hesitantly reaches out, taking Dean’s hand and squeezing. “If not, I understand. I know I don’t deserve to ask you for anything.”

Dean presses his lips in a thin line, his fingers automatically curling around Cas’s hand. He doesn’t say anything at first, turning his head to look out the window. It’s dark and the snow is covering the ground in a thick layer. He knows already that he won’t turn Cas away. He can’t. Dean tells himself it’s because it’s too cold and Cas’s jacket is too damn thin, but the truth is as angry as he is he still wants Cas at home with him. Where he can make sure Cas is safe, warm, fed. Even if the attention was suffocating .

And, despite how he smothered Cas, the guy still thought of him as family. Had come all this way to spend Christmas with him, not even knowing that Dean was going to be alone for the first time in years.

“You know I’m not gonna turn you away, Cas,” he says roughly. He glances at Cas’s soup. “Eat your food and well go ho- go back to my place.”

Cas doesn’t let go of his hand right away, still staring at him the way he always did, like Dean is the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. He wants to say it’s not fair for him to still look at him that way, but he can’t make himself be the reason Cas jumps or flinches again, even though Cas was 100% in the wrong. It makes Dean feel a little better to basically hear him admit it.

When Cas finally does begin to eat, it’s mere minutes before the bowl is clean, and Dean doesn’t even want to consider how long it’s been since Cas had a decent meal. He vaguely wonders how he got back to Sioux Falls as well, but he doesn’t want to push Cas to tell him anything.

Another bowl of soup and a short car ride later puts them back at Dean’s place, and he pushes the door open and cuts on the light, holding it open for Cas to come in. He walks in slowly with his arms wrapped tightly around his torso, looking around curiously. He smiles widely, then looks at Dean, who smiles back before he can stop himself.

“What?” he asks, still grinning slightly at Cas’s adorable lopsided smile. Cas moves to the pictures on the wall again, tracing the frame of his favorite picture of Dean in the kilt.

Cas shrugs and lets his arms drop to his sides, the sleeves of his oversized sweater falling over his hands. He’d lost a lot of weight again in such a short period of time, but Dean tries not to notice that, and instead focus on the glow that’s returned to his cheeks just since they’d left the diner.

“It looks the exact same,” Cas signs, running a hand over the arm of the couch. He smiles softly. “You know how you get these ideas of places you loved built up in your head, then when you see them again, it’s a huge disappointment? Not here. You kept it the same.”

Dean rubs at his neck, fighting back the urge to pull Cas into a rough kiss, and shrugs humbly. “Not one to change things just for the sake of change…”

He doesn’t admit that part of the reason it hasn’t changed is because he kept holding out hope Cas would come back. That if he did he’d feel right at home again if everything was the same.

Dean turns to the thermostat and cranks up the heat, deciding he’d worry about the electric bill later. He watches Cas slowly walk about, touching everything with reverence, and desperately wants to hold him. Kiss him. Drag him into bed. Dean doesn’t know where they stand, though. Isn’t sure if he wants to go down that rabbit hole again. Cas will leave again. He knows this. He also knows he can’t take the heartache if he lets himself fall deeper in love with the guy than he already is. And he’s definitely in love. He told Sam and Benny ‘maybe’, but he’s known for a while that Cas holds his heart.

Cas stops and turns back to him, pointing at his hair. “But you changed your hair. You don’t look like you.”

“Yeah, well.” Dean refuses to tell him how difficult the last couple of months were for him, or how half the time he didn’t even want to get out of bed, much less look at himself in the mirror or take particular pride in his appearance. He takes a deep breath and motions at Cas. “You’re looking…” he lets out the breath and gives him a disapproving look, “well, frankly, you’re looking too skinny. Dunno where you’ve been or what you’ve been up to but I could kick your ass for not taking better care of yourself.”

Cas shifts on his feet and looks down then away, migrating slowly to the guitar and running a hand over the neck of it. He picks it up and strums a few chords, then moves to the couch and sits, strumming to no particular tune that Dean recognizes.

The guitar hasn’t been picked up since Cas left and is out of tune. Cas fixes this easily, closing his eyes as he listens, then resumes whatever tune he’s got in his head. Dean watches him and thinks he’s missed this so much. Just having Cas here , comfortable and relaxed, playing the guitar like a damn pro.

Dean swallows and shuffles into the kitchen to busy himself with making hot chocolate. If he doesn’t do something he’s going to fall into a sobbing mess at Cas’s feet.

He makes the fancy hot chocolate, with real cocoa and topped with whip cream and chocolate shavings. He brings out two mugs and sets them on the coffee table. Dean doesn’t really want his, but he takes a sip so Cas will get the idea. Anything to get Cas warmed up without forcing him into a blanket burrito on the bed.

Cas eyes the mug, then looks to Dean and picks it up, wrapping his hands around it and taking a couple of long sips. Once he’s drained close to half the cup, he sits it back down and starts strumming again. When he finally breaks into the chorus of the song, Dean recognizes the melody and squeezes his eyes shut, looking away. Cas continues to play, however, and when Dean looks back, Cas is watching him with an almost reverent sadness. Dean licks his lips and swallows the lump in his throat, singing out the words softly.

“I’m sorry that I hurt you

It’s something I must live with everyday

And all the pain I put you through

I wish that I could take it all away…”

His throat thickens again and tears threaten to spill but Cas continues anyway, nodding to him in encouragement, so he joins back in on the chorus, voice barely a whisper:

“I’ve found a reason for me

To change who I used to be

A reason to start over new

And the reason is you.”

Cas presses his lips together and sits the guitar against the arm of the couch, clasping his hands in his lap. Dean feels stupid for getting choked up, but when he looks at Cas again, his eyes are glassy too, and he reaches out to take one of his hands in his own. Cas switches hands to give Dean his left so he can sign with his right.

“I’m sorry.”

Dean huffs a humorless laugh and looks down at their hands, sniffing loudly and clearing his throat. “Yeah, well.” He looks him in the eye, setting his jaw and trying to appear tougher than he felt. “Don’t you ever do that again.”

Cas smiles softly and looks down at their hands, squeezing Dean’s three times. He lets go to sign, and Dean immediately misses his touch.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about you,” he signs. “Everything reminded me of you. I knew I shouldn’t come back, that it wasn’t fair to you, that I didn’t deserve to come back to you, but I had to see you.” He pauses, then continues when Dean doesn’t respond. “I don’t expect you to forgive me. But Dean, I am so sorry.”

Dean looks down at his lap, his hands resting on his thighs, fidgeting under Cas’s gaze. He doesn’t say anything at first, partly because he doesn’t know what to say and partly because his throat isn’t working. He doesn’t even know he feels about all this. Happy Cas is back, angry he left in the first place, dejected that Cas would rather live a hard life on the road than a comfortable one with Dean. He isn’t sure if he should let Cas stay or book him a motel room for a few days. Isn’t sure when Cas will leave again and how much it will hurt when he does.

“I thought about you all the time,” Dean murmurs after a long moment of silence. “Wanted to jump in the car and go look for you, but I didn’t even know where to start. I just...it drove me nuts, Cas, not knowing why you left or if you were okay. I got sick with worry.”

He takes a deep breath and lets it out slow. “I’m too tired to think about all of this,” Dean shakes his head and rubs his eyes. “Just...I need to sleep. You are sleeping here tonight so don’t even think about leaving or I will hunt you down.”

Cas nodded quickly, eyes slightly wide. Dean’s tone left no room for argument and Cas sensed that any kind of objections would not be taken well. Dean retrieved a thick blanket and some pillows, handing them over to Cas who bit his lip, nodding his thanks.

“And you will be here in the morning.”

With that, Dean turns and walks to his room, closing the door behind him.

    The next morning, Dean wakes before his alarm. He stretches slowly and rubs his eyes, and he’s about to roll over and go back to sleep when he remembers Cas. He shoots straight up and slides quickly out of bed, hurriedly crossing the room and flinging the door open. The light in the kitchen is on and Dean can hear the coffee pot brewing, but he can’t see Cas anywhere. His heart skips a beat but his feet propel him forward, and he turns the corner to find Cas blessedly sitting in the corner of the kitchen on the counter, jumping slightly when he sees Dean.

    “I made coffee,” he signs shyly, crossing his ankles. “I couldn’t sleep, so I-”

    He doesn't have a chance to finish before Dean crosses the room and wraps his arms around him, resting his forehead on Cas’s shoulder. Relief floods him once the initial anxiety of Cas potentially having left again dissipates, and he lets out a shaky breath. Cas’s arms come up to wrap around his neck, pressing his cheek to the top of Dean’s head.

    “Thank you,” Dean says roughly, his arms squeezing around Cas, unsure of what he’s even thanking Cas for. The coffee, for not leaving again, for just being Cas . All the above, most likely. Cas simply nods and Dean feels soft fingers in his hair. He sighs shakily and realizes how much he’s missed Cas’s touch, his smell, the feeling of his body against Dean’s. His home feels so much warmer with Cas, fuller, the silence no longer deafening but comforting. Cas has a presence, despite never saying a word, and Dean didn’t realize how much he’d come to depend on that presence until Cas had left.

    Dean clears his throat and pulls away, his lips accidentally on purpose brushing against Cas’s cheek. Cas’s face is red and he’s smiling softly, eyes twinkling in a way that makes Dean want to kiss him silly. Instead of doing that, Dean grabs a mug and fills it up with some coffee. He sighs and takes a sip, closing his eyes briefly.

    “Listen,” he says after a moment of both of them sipping their drinks. “I gotta open this morning. Didn’t, uh, tell anyone you were here. And Sam’s not the type to blab about it. Once Benny comes in, though, I can come back and we can...I dunno. Talk about things. Not talk. Whatever we wanna do.”

Cas smiles softly over the rim of his mug, finally nodding.

“I'd like that,” he signs.

“Good.”

They sit in silence as Dean drains the rest of his coffee, and he moves to kiss Cas before he even realizes what he's doing. He catches himself, though, kissing his forehead instead and coughing once awkwardly. He gets ready quickly and pokes his head in the kitchen once more, giving Cas a wave and grabbing his keys. Cas raps his knuckles against the counter when Dean walks away, and he goes back around the corner once more, raising his eyebrows.

“What?”

“I won't leave,” Cas signs, shaking his head, then smiles.

Dean blinks then smiles, the feeling a little foreign and kind of hurting his cheeks. He nods and walks out the door, hoping the day goes by quickly.

----

    “You seem...chipper.”

    Dean pauses in his whistling and looks up from the stack of pancakes he’s loading onto a plate. “Okay,” he says with a shrug. “That a bad thing?”

    “No,” Sam frowns, eyeing his brother carefully. “Just...interesting. You never did tell me what happened with Cas last night.”

    Dean licks his lips and piles on the eggs next to pancakes, then tops it off with some bacon and an orange slice. “Nothin’ really. He ate some soup and slept on my couch.”

    “That’s it?”

    “Yeah, Sam,” he sighs, placing the plate in the window. “Not like we hopped into bed or anything.”

    “No, no, it’s just…” Sam shrugs as he turns, handing Kevin his plate. “You were pretty pissed. I guess I just didn’t expect you to take him home.”

    “Wasn’t gonna let him sleep in the snow,” Dean mutters.

    “No, I suppose not,” Sam says softly, watching Dean start on an omelette. “Are you guys...okay now?”

    Dean is silent for a moment. “I dunno what we are right now. Just glad he’s somewhere safe for however long it is.”

Sam sighs and slides Kevin a caddy with butter and syrup. “You're a good guy, Dean.”

“Don't I know it,” Dean grumbles, but he gives Sam a small smile. “Hey, listen. I just wanted to say...I really am happy for you and Eileen. I'm sorry I didn't act it before, just with all this mess I wasn't feeling very… romantic. But that's not an excuse for me being a dick when I should've been happy for you at the happiest time of your life, so-"

“I understood, Dean.”

“I know, but it doesn’t make it right,” Dean sighs. “I just need you to know I’m on board with this, okay?”

Sam smiles. “Thanks, Dean. Means a lot.”

“Good. Enough of this chick flick shit,” Dean rolls his shoulders. “Go clean a table or somethin’.”

“You love chick flicks, Dean.”

Dean throws a dirty washcloth at him and Sam huffs a laugh, shaking his head and walking out of sight to pretend to clean a table even though Dean knows perfectly well he’s getting on his phone to text Eileen. Ah, damn, he kind of wishes Cas would let him get him a phone. Just to be able to text the guy during work, help the time go by a little faster. If a camera bag freaks him out, though, then a phone certainly would.

----

Dean leaves the diner practically as soon as Benny walks through the door without so much as an explanation. He races home and, despite what Cas has said about not leaving, he half expects the house to be empty. He's pleased to hear a gentle guitar riff when he opens the door,and Cas is sitting in his usual spot on the couch. He stops playing and smiles up at Dean, sitting the guitar to the side.

“Hello, Dean,” he signs, and pats the couch beside him.

Dean smiles. “Hey, Cas.”

He sits down next to him and leans back against the arm of the couch, smiling as Cas continues to play whatever song he’s got in his head. This is probably one of the things Dean missed the most. Coming home to someone, watching Cas’s fingers fly over the strings, letting the music wash over him. It all feels so normal Dean almost forgets Cas has been gone for months.

“Keep yourself busy while I was gone?” Dean murmurs, unable to help his eyes from roaming. Too thin or not, Cas still looks damn good.

Cas nods and gestures towards the haphazard stack of movies, and the still open laptop. Dean is pleased to see Cas hadn’t been looking at plane tickets, but appears to be in the midst of editing some new photos.

“Where'd you take those?” Dean asks innocently, although it was really just a roundabout way to ask where he's been for the last few months.

Cas grins and picks up the laptop, typing something into the search bar and turning Dean to show him pictures of Glacier National Park, tapping on the screen.

“Montana, huh?” Dean frowns as he cycles through some of his photos, then forces a smile. They're all gorgeous, of course, but he can't push away the thought of Cas being out there by himself, likely without anywhere to stay.

Cas nods and takes the computer again, typing something else in and pulling up the website for the National Park Service, grinning widely at a picture of a beautiful mountainscape, and tapping the screen in the bottom right corner of the photo, which was adorned with a watermark.

    C. E. Novak.

Dean raises his eyebrows. “This is yours?”

Cas's grin widens and he nods.

Dean’s lips split into a wide grin and claps Cas on the shoulder. “Dude, that’s fucking awesome! I mean, it’s not surprising,” he shrugs, pulling Cas close by the shoulder and kissing his cheek. “You’re so damn talented, more of these places should be buying your photography.”

Cas blushes and shrugs modestly, leaning into Dean with his grin still in place. Dean points to the screen and squeezes Cas’s shoulder. “See, others will see this and you’ll start getting a reputation. Just wait, you’ll have your stuff in National Geographic by this time next year.”

Cas clicks his tongue and waves Dean off, reaching out to click out of the website. Dean rolls his eyes, but he knows he’s right. Cas has talent and is going to realize it one day.

“I dunno if you noticed,” Dean says softly, “but I still have that picture of Baby hanging in the diner. People talk about it all the time.”

“It’s a beautiful car.”

“It’s a beautiful photo.” Dean nudges him. “Thanks for, you know...leaving it for me. It was nice, having something to remember you by. Even when...even when it was difficult for me to look at.”

“I’m sorry,” Cas signs but doesn’t look up, licking his lips nervously.

“I know.”

Cas sits the laptop back on the table and clasps his hands in his lap, looking down at them and fidgeting his thumbs.

“Cas,” Dean takes his chin in his hand and Cas looks up at him with big blue eyes. “Why’d you do it? Was it too much? Did I- did I push you too hard? Did I move too fast?”

“No,” Cas signs quickly, shaking his head. “This is everything I could’ve ever wanted. It’s everything I don’t deserve.”

Dean frowns. “What? Of course you deserve this, Cas-” he pauses, letting out a slow breath. “Cas, why do you think so little of yourself? Is it your family? People you grew up with? I guess I just… don't understand how someone as amazing as you doesn't see it.”

Cas shrugs.

“I don't think my family approves my lifestyle,” he signs simply.

Dean hesitates. “You mean… your sexuality?”

“I don't know,” he signs, “we've never really talked about that. I never really dated anyone before. It's just that my parents and my siblings are all very conventional and successful. And I'm just me.”

“Nothin’ wrong with just you,” Dean says, reaching up to flatten some of Cas’s wild hair. It bounces back up, unperturbed by his efforts.

Cas shrugs again, running a hand down his threadbare shirt. “I’m plain. Boring. I don’t have a regular job, or a home. Frankly, I think I embarrass them.”

Dean bites his cheeks to keep from saying something he’d regret later. Truthfully, Cas’s family sounds like shit and he wants to tell them to go fuck themselves, but that’s not what Cas needs to hear right now.

“You’re not plain or boring at all,” he says, taking one of Cas’s hands in his and squeezing. “You’re the most interesting person I’ve ever met. Not to mention the most beautiful.” Cas blushes at this and bites his lip, looking up at Dean through his eyelashes. “I can’t speak for your parents,” Dean continues. “But I know that I’m not embarrassed by you. I’m actually really proud of you. You had the courage to go out and do what you wanted to do. Not a lot of people can do that.”

Cas looks down at their hands for a long time, pulling his lip between his teeth. He pulls his hands away, hesitating again before signing:

“I have to visit my family soon. One of my brothers is getting married and I’m expected to be there.” He huffs a humorless laugh. “They wanted me to come for Christmas, but I was able to get out of that. There’s no getting out of this.”

“When?”

“February,” Cas signs, rolling his eyes. “A Valentine’s wedding.”

Dean wrinkles his nose. “Gross.”

Cas laughs that open-mouthed, silent laugh, his eyes crinkling in the corners.  “Exactly.”

Dean’s smile fades and he looks down, taking Cas’s hands in his own again so he can’t argue with what he’s about to say. “Well then, I’ll go with you.”

Cas’s eyes widen and he starts shaking his head, which Dean isn’t sure is a good reaction or not. “No, no, listen,” Dean says quickly, kissing Cas’s forehead. “We don’t...have to go as a couple if you don’t want that. It’s just, maybe if someone is there that you’re comfortable with, you won’t have such a miserable time. And if your parents get to you, there’s someone there to bail you out.”

“You don’t want to deal with my parents, or my brothers,” Cas signs, frowning.

“I got tough skin, angel,” Dean snorts. “My dad criticized me enough that anything they say is just gonna roll off me. Besides, I wanna be there for you. If you want me there, anyway.”

“I don’t know,” Cas signs, but Dean shakes his head and takes his hands in his own again.

“You don’t have to know anything, for all I care,” Dean says, giving him a smile. “I’m going with you. That’s that.”

“What about the diner?”

Dean shrugs. “Benny can handle it himself for a few days.”

“But Bobby-”

“Bobby’s got plenty of people worryin’ about him all the time. He certainly won’t miss me.”

Cas sighs, and Dean raises a brow waiting for his next excuse, but none come. He shrugs and finally nods, and Dean grins and pulls him into a tight embrace.

“Don’t think anymore about it,” Dean says, nuzzling his hair. Damn, it smells amazing. Despite living on the road, Cas always seems to smell incredible. Natural, but not too musky. “I’ll make sure you at least have a decent time. And then we can go back to a hotel room and have a really good time.”

He winks and Cas blushes, hitting him softly on the chest. “Still a shameless flirt,” he signs with a grin.

Dean shrugs and strokes Cas’s cheek. “Only with you, gorgeous.” True enough. Cas left and Dean just didn’t have that same urge anymore. Beautiful men and women came into the diner, and Dean hadn’t spared them so much as a glance. He’d tried to cut loose at the bar, but five seconds into kissing whoever was willing and Dean just kept thinking how much he missed Cas.

“I got you something,” Cas signs with a grin.

“Oh, yeah?”

Cas nods, and he gets up and disappears into the bedroom, coming back a moment later with something behind his back and a huge grin on his face. He motions for Dean to close his eyes, which he does, and he can feel the sofa next to him shift as Cas sits beside him. He gives Dean a tap on his leg, and Dean hesitantly opens his eyes.

Cas is holding a framed picture of a snowy mountain pass in the distance and him standing in the forefront, albeit turned the opposite direction, with his head back and his arms out by his sides. Dean glances up at him momentarily to, of course, find him blushing, but his eyes are immediately drawn back down to the photo.

“You took this for me?” Dean asks quietly, running the tip of a finger over the picture, down one of Cas’s arms.

Cas nods and points to the mountain, signing jerkily: “That’s Heavens Peak. One of my favorite places to go.”

“It’s beautiful, Cas,” Dean says, finally look up at him and smiling. “I think it’s the first time you’ve ever put yourself in a photo. And I get to keep this?”

Cas nods shyly, poking at the simple frame. “If you want it. You can change the frame, too, if-”

“No, it’s perfect,” Dean leans in and kisses him on the cheek, sighing softly. “Maybe one day you can take me to Heaven’s Peak.”

Cas grins excitedly. “You want to see it?”

“Since you love it so much, yeah,” Dean shrugs. “Makes sense, you bein’ an angel and all.”

Cas waves a dismissive hand at that, but it’s forgotten quickly, and he starts signing furiously. Dean chuckles and steadies his hands, pressing his thumbs to Cas’s palms.

“Little slower, Cas,” he says gently. “Can’t keep up with you. Okay, you want to what?”

“You can actually camp there,” Cas signs a little slower than necessary. “I’d love to take you to one of the cabins. And we could climb the mountain-”

“Whoa now, I don’t like heights,” Dean smiles and shakes his head, and Cas tilts his head at him.

“But you’re going to fly with me to Maine?”

Dean opens his mouth and hesitates, furrowing his brow. “Oh. Um. Well...yeah, I guess I...didn’t really think that one through.”

“I’ll be there with you,” Cas smiles, taking Dean’s hand.

“Yeah, I just...hate flyin’,” Dean swallows, squeezing Cas’s hand. “It’s why I never go visit Sam.”

Cas frowns and strokes his palm, biting his bottom lip. “If you don’t want to go-”

“No, I do,” Dean nods firmly. “You’ll be there. It’ll be fine. Maybe you can help distract me.” He attempts a wink, though he knows it comes across weak.

Cas just smiles. “I think I can manage that.”

“So, cabins, huh?”

Cas nods. “Don’t worry. They’re not too bad. Rustic, but…”

“Cas, we could sleep on the ground and I’d be fine as long as you’re there.”

Cas blushes and looks down briefly before lifting his head and leaning forward. Dean holds his breath as their lips connect and fuck he really missed this. Cas’s lips are just he remembers, albeit a little chapped, but still soft and perfect.

One of Dean’s hands finds its way into Cas’s hair and the other guides him forward on the small of his back, until Cas is pressed against him and wrapping his arms around Dean’s neck. He sighs softly against Dean’s lips and sinks into it, lips parting slightly when Dean’s tongue traces along the seam.

Cas pulls away all too soon, although both of them are already breathless. He slouches bonelessly against Dean’s side, resting his cheek on the back of the couch and looking at him with wide eyes.

Dean licks his lips and swallows, closing his eyes for a moment to compose himself. He pats Cas on the knee, giving him a smile. “I suppose you’ll want your job back?”

Cas grins. “If it’s not too much trouble.”

“Good,” Dean huffs a laugh. “Could use the help. When Sam leaves, anyway. Not sure how much you’ll make before then, if I’m being honest.”

Cas shrugs. He raises his hand like he wants to sign something, but clenches his fist and drops it instead.

Dean raises a brow. “What?” Cas tries to shake his head, but Dean catches his gaze. “No, tell me.”

“I don’t have any right to ask this-”

“You can ask me anything.”

Cas fidgets with the hem of his shirt, chewing his lip. He raises his hands slowly, hesitates, then finally signs: “I was wondering if I could stay with you tonight.”

Dean’s face puzzles and he cocks his head. “Uh...sure? I mean, you stayed with me last night-”

Cas jerks his head and signs quickly: “No, I mean, with you. In your bed.”

“O-oh…” Dean’s eyes widen and his blood starts pumping in a way that is hasn’t done in months. He swallows and nods before his better judgement can tell him otherwise. “Yeah,” he says roughly, clearing his throat. “Yeah, you can...stay with me.”

Cas smiles, shy and hesitant, and nudges Dean’s thigh with his foot. “Only if you’re sure.”

“More than sure,” Dean breathes out slowly, trying to get his body back under control. One mention of Cas in bed with him and his cock is already swelling.

“I sleep better when I know you’re right there,” Cas signs shyly. His eyes flit down and a blush spreads across his cheeks. He sits back and pulls his knees to his chest, resting his chin on top. “Do I still have my own drawer?”

“Actually, yeah,” Dean lets out a breath, appreciative for the distraction. “I, uh. I never got around to getting rid of it, after...well, you know. It’s all still here… well, all in the closet, along with the, uh...the case-” he nods over to his bedroom door, “still here, for whenever you want it.”

“I don’t know why you’re still so nice to me,” Cas signs and shakes his head, looking away. “I don’t deserve it.”

“Hey,” Dean gently grabs his chin and forces their eyes to meet. “Look, I’m not gonna pretend to understand why you...did that. But if you were uncomfortable, then it’s better that you didn’t force things.”

“I wasn’t uncomfortable,” Cas shakes his head. “I just-I’m sorry.” Cas sighs, eyes flitting down again. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“Nothing’s wrong with you,” Dean growls, that familiar surge of protectiveness coming over him. “So stop talkin’ like that.”

“You’ll see,” Cas continues. “When you meet my family, and you see how great they all are, you’ll see then.”

Dean grits his teeth. “Well, I happen to think you’re really fuckin’ great, so I can’t imagine I’ll like anyone who doesn’t think that of you.”

Cas considers that for a moment, then grins widely. “Gabriel is really supportive of me. But I don’t think he was invited to Lucifer’s wedding, technically -”

Dean frowns and wrinkles his nose. “What kind of guy doesn’t invite his own brother to his wedding?”

Cas grin widens but he shrugs. “He’s probably afraid Gabe will mess it up somehow. To be fair, it’s not an outrageous assumption. You’ll see when you meet him.”

“I’m scared.”

“You should be.”

“I guess I’ll need a tux,” Dean chuckles, something he’d never thought he’d say. He’d joked with Sam about wearing an apron to his wedding, so much so that Dean is pretty sure Sam is expecting it.

Cas’s eyes darken just slightly in a way that pulls at Dean’s gut. “You would look very good in a tux,” he signs, slowing looking Dean over.

“Nah,” Dean shrugs. “Just look like a monkey in a suit.”

“No,” Cas shakes his head, licking his lips. “No, you would look...very handsome.”

“Nothing like you, though,” Dean says, glancing down at Cas’s lips. “Bet you clean up good, angel.”

“I'll show you mine if you show me yours,” Cas teases, which does nothing to help the situation in Dean's pants that had just begun to go away. He swallows hard and gives Cas a nervous laugh, then pulls him in for another hungry kiss.

“Right. Well, before things get out of hand,” he says quickly when they pull apart, “I should start on dinner. Spaghetti okay?”

Cas nods and smiles, and Dean kisses him once more before getting up. Suddenly, it’s like the last several months never happened.

---

A week later, Dean's cleaning up behind the bar, and Sam's filling caddies and ketchup bottles just after closing. Cas is sitting at his table on Dean's laptop, editing pictures, when Bobby comes in through the shop entrance, hands in his pockets.

“So, uh. Just got a bit of a strange phone call,” he says, looking at Cas. “Some guy looking for a ‘Cassie’.”

Cas's brows shoot up, and he looks at Dean.

“Yeah,” Bobby continues, “he wanted to let you know that he'll be in the area tomorrow. So I gave him our address, since I figured you'd be working.”

Dean glances at Cas and bites back the jealousy gnawing at him. “Who, uh, who calls you ‘Cassie’?”

Cas rolls his eyes. “Gabriel,” he signs, already looking exhausted at the prospect of seeing his brother. Dean relaxes, immediately feeling stupid for getting jealous.

Bobby looks at them both with a lost expression. “His brother,” Dean explains.

“Whatever,” Bobby grunts. “He’s comin’ by around lunchtime tomorrow. Don’t let him into the shop.”

“Why not?” Dean snorts.

“He seems the type to break shit,” Bobby turns and walks out. Cas blinks at his retreating back then looks back at Dean.

“He’s not wrong,” Cas shrugs.

Dean huffs and throws his rag on the counter, crossing the floor and plopping down across from Cas.

“So.”

Cas has gone back to his editing, frowning at the computer. Dean waves a hand in front of him, and only gets raised eyebrows in response.

“Cas.”

When he still gets only a blink in response Dean finally huffs and pushes the laptop closed. Cas opens his mouth in protest, hands out by his sides.

Dean ignores it. “Is your brother staying for Christmas?”

“No, I'm sure he won't be here that long,” Cas signs somewhat irritably. “He usually takes some kind of lavish vacation for Christmas.” He rolls his eyes.

Dean holds back a growl from the fact that while this Gabe was running around on some luxurious vacation his brother was walking the streets, half starving. True, it’s Cas’s choice to live this kind of life, but it still grated on Dean’s nerves.

“Any idea why he wants to see you?”

Cas shrugs and pointedly pulls the laptop back in front of him. “Probably to try and talk me into going with him on his vacation.”

Dean raises a brow. “He’s invited you before?”

“Every year,” Cas clicks his tongue. “Made the mistake of going once.”

“And?”

“And Gabe’s idea of a vacation is sucking tequila out of strippers’ belly buttons-”

“That’s not...awful.”

“-while I’m in the bed next to them.”

“Oh.”

Cas nods and narrows his eyes in concentration, already lost in the world of editing. Dean wonders how Cas edits his pictures when he doesn’t have Dean’s laptop to play with.

“So he's gonna come all this way to try to convince you to vacation with him.”

Cas nods again.

Dean frowns. Granted he isn't sure where Gabriel lives or even what he does, but he finds it hard to believe that he's not inclined to help Cas out financially, but he tracks him down every Christmas to invite him on a vacation. But Cas doesn't seem ready to share any other information, and Dean doesn't plan to push him, considering how things turned out last time.

“Soooo should I prepare myself to meet him?” Dean teases. “You know… older brother and all that…”

Cas freezes but doesn't look up. He clicks the mouse a few times, chewing his lip. “I haven't exactly told him about you.”

Ouch.

Dean blinks and looks away, smoothing his hands down his apron. He suddenly feels ratty in his rundown diner, his dingy apron, his mediocre lifestyle in general. Maybe Cas knows his family wouldn’t approve of some smalltown cook-

A hand on his arm brings Dean out of his thoughts. He looks down at Cas, who is looking up at him with a worried expression.

“No, that’s cool,” Dean shrugs, swallowing. “Not a big deal. Not like we’re engaged or anything.”

“I'm not ashamed, Dean,” Cas signs, because even if he can’t speak he can still apparently read minds. “It's just that Gabriel has been trying to hook me up with people for years and I keep telling him I’m not interested and I wouldn't hear the end of it if I told him about you. Obviously I'm going to tell him when he arrives, but I didn't want to listen to his incessant teasing every time I spoke to him.”

Dean lets out a breath. “Oh.”

“He'll be incorrigible, I hope you know,” Cas signs, quirking a brow.

“Well, if you can deal with me, I can deal with him,” Dean shrugs, feeling completely silly once again. He’s not usually like this, but with Cas his emotions run rampant. His blase attitude on dating and sex goes out the window, leaving him a possessive asshole he barely recognizes.

“Deal with you?” Cas frowns and shakes his head. “Dean, I-”

“No, I’m sorry,” Dean shakes his head and kisses Cas on the forehead. “Really. I know I’m bein’ weird. Don’t worry about it, okay?”

Cas looks concerned but doesn't respond, instead reaching out to take Dean's hand and squeeze it three times. Dean smiles and squeezes back.

“You ready to go?”

Cas nods and packs up the computer. Dean walks back over to the bar, but Sam waves him off.

“You guys go ahead. I got this. I'll lock up when I leave.”

Dean pauses and cocks a brow. “You sure?”

“Yeah,” Sam says. “I'm off tomorrow anyway. You two have to be up early.” Sam smiles to himself, and Dean ruffles his hair playfully, earning a groan from his little brother.

“Thanks, Sammy.”

Ten minutes later and they were walking through the front door, Cas immediately beelining for the couch so he could set up the laptop. Dean chuckles and rolls his shoulders, groaning when a few things pop back into place. Hunching over a stove all day did a number on his back.

He walks into the living room, toeing off his shoes, blinking to see that Cas is already deep into editing mode again. The guy hadn’t even taken off his shoes or coat yet.

“Cas, baby,” Dean sighs, gesturing towards him. Cas just shrugs and Dean takes it upon himself to pull off Cas’s shoes, then his jacket (one that magically appeared in his closet and somehow fit Cas perfectly), before plopping down next to him.

“If I groped you right now would you even notice?”

The only reaction from Cas is a blink and a few clicks of the mouse.

“Didn’t think so.” Dean sighs and gets up, crossing the room and popping a movie into the DVD player. Cas’s eyes flit up then immediately back down, then slowly back up again when Dean maneuvers it to The Little Mermaid menu, and he gives Dean a smile. In a few short moments, he finishes up on the computer and puts it away, and he makes himself comfortable, laying his head in Dean’s lap.

“Still your favorite, huh?”

Cas nods and reaches out to take Dean’s hand, holding it to his chest. Dean’s other hand is of course in Cas’s wild hair, massaging his scalp and working out tangles. It seems like Cas is struggling to keep his eyes open, but he’s far too stubborn to actually go to bed.

They make it about halfway through before Cas finally starts to nod off, his hold on Dean’s hand slacking a bit. Dean smiles and turns off the TV, and practically carries Cas to the bedroom. He lays him out on the bed and helps him get undressed, reluctantly leaving on the boxers. They haven’t done much of anything when it came to intimacy, but sleeping next to a naked Cas is a little too tempting.

Dean strips down to his boxers then climbs in next to Cas, switching off the light. He scoops Cas up in his arms, spooning him and draping an arm over his chest.  He doesn’t feel particularly tired, but Cas is already snuggling up and falling back asleep. Dean smiles softly and presses a kiss to Cas’s neck. It’s some time later that Dean actually sleeps, lulled by Cas’s warmth and slow breathing.

Chapter Text

With only a few days to go before Christmas, the breakfast crowd at the diner is unpredictable. There are times when it’s basically empty, and times when it’s packed so full that it looks like Cas is literally running around in circles trying to get orders. Most of the customers are regulars just passing by on their way to last-minute Christmas shop, and a few try to hang around to speak to Cas, no doubt ask him where he’s been for the past couple of months.

Dean is consistently churning out food, at one point standing in front of the hot grill for almost two hours without a break. He isn’t complaining, though, since this little surge in business this time of year is greatly appreciated, but he can do little more than smile and nod at those yelling hellos to him through the small window.

Business tapers off again around 11:30 a.m. and Cas collapses against the bar dramatically, slinking onto one of the barstools and pulling the wadded up cash from his apron to straighten and count it. From behind the grill, Dean wipes the sweat from his face with a rag, then tucks it into his back pocket. The bell clings, then:

“Hoooolyyyy cannoli, what a shithole!”

Dean growls and looks up at the guy, a short, brown-haired man with a mischievous face and golden eyes. He’s ready to tear him a new one when he sees the look of absolute glee on Cas’s face. He grins widely at Dean, eyes twinkling with excitement, then spins around on his stool and holds his arms by his sides.

“Hey, little bro.” The man who Dean assumes is Gabriel steps up and hugs Cas around his middle, resting his chin on Cas’s shoulder. He pulls back and cups Cas’s cheeks with his hands, looking him up and down. “You’re lookin’ good, kiddo. Lot better than the last time I saw you.”

Cas pushes him away and Gabriel stumbles back playfully, grinning, then raising his gaze to the kitchen window and pointing lazily at Dean.

“You must be the boss, am I right?”

Dean licks his lips and clears his throat. “Yep, uh. That’s me.” He goes to say something else but pauses and holds up a finger, then removes his gloves and apron and walks around to the front of the house, holding out a hand to the guy.

“Dean Winchester.”

Gabriel gives him a skeptical squinty grin but eventually raises his hand to shake. “Huh.” He gestures to Cas, then back to Dean. “You didn’t tell me he was a brickhouse stud, Cassie.”

Cas blushes and shakes his head at Dean, mouthing ‘I’m sorry’ and covering his face with his hands.

Dean blinks, unsure of how to even respond to that, and watches warily as Gabriel walks around the small diner. He seems to inspect every corner, table, and even pokes his head inside the small bathroom.

“What exactly are you looking for?” Dean raises a brow.

“Anything that might indicate that this hole you call a restaurant is actually a front for drugs-“

“Excuse me?”

“Or sex trafficking.”

“What the hell?” Dean sputters, face growing red. “Why the fuck would you-“

“Cassie has gotten himself into worse situations before,” Grabriel shrugs, causing Cas to glare at him. “Just making sure he didn’t stumble into something else I gotta bail him out of.”

Dean eyes Cas for a moment then frowns at Gabriel. “Well, it’s just a diner. And he’s paid fairly. In fact with his tips, he might make more than me in a day.”

Gabriel grins at Cas and cocks an eyebrow. “Oh yeah? You flirting for some tips, Cassie?”

Cas shakes his head quickly, face red.

“Can’t fool me, baby bro. I know you’re a player.”

Dean presses his lips together but says nothing, trying to push down his jealousy even as Cas shakes his head irritably. Cas looks up at him and the remains of his grin fades, and he reaches out and takes Dean’s hand gently, giving his usual three squeezes. Dean manages a weak smile and Gabriel raises his eyebrows and looks back and forth between them.

“Huh.” Gabriel tears his eyes away and gives a final look around the restaurant then claps his hands together, causing them both to jump. “Any-old-way, can I take you two out to lunch? I’m just, you know, passing through, and I’d love to spend some time with my baby brother, and well…” he pointedly looks down at their hands clasped together, “doesn’t look like he’s inclined to go anywhere without ya, so…”

Dean frowns and casts his eyes around the room. “Dude, I work in a restaurant-”

“Right. Right. But see, I was thinkin’ we could get something that more resembled food.” Gabriel shrugs and Dean suppresses the urge to punch him, made a lot easier by Cas’s hand tightening on his own. He looks down and Cas shakes his head subtly, then turns to Gabriel and signs ‘okay’.

“Fine.” Dean says gruffly. “There’s a place just up the road-”

“I actually already have us a table at Minerva’s, Dean-o.” Gabriel gives a wicked smile and his eyes practically gleam when Dean’s eyes widen a little. Minerva’s is arguably the nicest restaurant in Sioux Falls...like the kind that expects you to order a fancy bottle of red wine and four courses at $20 a plate and cleanse your palette with raspberry sorbet.

“W-we can’t really-”

Gabriel waves a hand, already heading for the door. “It’s on me. Not every day Cassie brings home a fella.” He pauses and tilts his head. “Well, never, actually…”

Dean casts a glance at Cas as they follow him out, and he sets his clock away sign to say they’d be back in two hours. He turns to find Gabriel inspecting the Impala, even standing a safe distance away and making sure not to touch anything.

“This yours, Dean-o?”

Dean grins and walks over, taking Cas’s hand in his again. “Sure is. Ain’t she beautiful?”

“Can’t argue with you there.”

Dean chews his lip thoughtfully, watching as Gabriel inspects the front end of Baby. “You a car man?”

“Mmm. Got a 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird back at home.”

Dean’s jaw drops but Gabriel doesn’t notice, instead squatting down to get a closer look at the Impala’s chrome.

“Y-you mean the one they only produced, like, 100 of in the entire world?”

“The one with the Looney Tunes’ Roadrunner horn?” Gabriel asks with a smirk, and Dean rolls his eyes, because of course that’s what the guy is concerned about. “Yep, one and the same.”

Dean is almost green with envy. He stares at Gabriel, wondering what kind of job the guy had that he could afford million dollar cars and fancy restaurants, not to mention lavish vacations. Gabriel didn’t seem the corporate type, and he couldn’t possibly be a doctor.

“How about we take her?” Gabriel says, nodding towards the Impala. “Love to see how she runs.”

Dean grins and nods, fishing out his keys with his free hand. He opens the passenger door for Cas then runs around to the driver’s side.

“Aw, I can’t drive?” Gabriel pouts.

“Hell no,” Dean snorts, slipping into the seat. Gabriel grumbles, but gets in the back without much complaint.

Dean starts her up and pulls into the road. Cas’s hand finds his, fingers locking together.

“How long you own that diner?” Gabriel asks.

“Haven’t really kept track,” Dean shrugs. “Few years. We kinda just threw it together.”

“Well, duh,” Gabriel snorts. “I sure as shit hope so. If that decor was on purpose I’d have to slap you. Although the picture of the car just screams Cassie.”

Cas blushes and nods, biting back a grin.

“How much you charge him, Cassie? You made him pay, right?”

Cas squirms in his seat and looks out the window. Dean sighs and casts Gabriel a look.

“He, uh, left before I could pay him. Never intended to get it for free.”

Gabriel rolls his eyes and pokes Cas on the back of the head. “Stop giving shit away, bro. You’ll never make money that way.”

Cas frowns and bats his hand at him. Dean won’t say it, but he actually agrees with Gabriel on that one. Cas is too nice for his own good sometimes.  

“Bad enough you don’t let me help you out every once and a while,” Gabriel sighs, looking concerned and annoyed. “You could at least make people pay for you work.”

Dean grits his teeth but doesn’t say anything, and makes a mental note to ask Cas about it later. He drives the fifteen minutes or so to Minerva’s and sure enough, there’s a table waiting for them under the name Novak. Dean catches Gabriel checking out the waitress before she walks up and asks what they want, and Gabriel answers for them before Dean can even open his mouth.

“We’ll have a bottle of the 2013 Emmolo Merlot, a couple of waters for the table, an order of the calamari, and ah…” he scans the menu quickly, then points. “One of the chocolate martinis, please.”

The waitress nods and takes the drink menu, and Gabriel watches her until she’s out of sight. Dean rests his forearms on the table, and Cas takes his hand again, giving him a smile.

“I’m just going to wash my hands,” Cas signs, then holds them out. “Something feels sticky.”

Gabriel cocks an eyebrow but refrains from making a surely inappropriate comment, then finally nods. Cas gets up to leave, flushing a bright red when Gabriel promptly called after him:

“Hey, remember, if you shake it more than once you’re just playin’ with it!”

Cas ducks into the bathroom and Gabriel chuckles, then turns back to Dean, his smile fading immediately.

“We don’t have much time, so I’m not gonna give you that ‘full of crap, big bro talk’, okay? Cassie didn’t mention you to me, which can only mean that he really likes you and he doesn’t want me screwing things up for him. So hear this, Dean-o: Castiel's a good guy, the best guy, but he believes some delusion of himself in which he’s useless, a burden, he’s got zero self-esteem…” Gabe pauses and glances to the bathroom, then back at Dean. “He doesn’t see what you and I see. So I can guarantee you, whatever it is you two got goin’, he doesn’t think he deserves it. If you like him, and I mean really like him, you need to know that. He’s not gonna be an easy one to keep.”

Dean chews his lip and sighs, eyes flitting to the bathroom. “I’ve noticed. He freaked when I bought him some clothes...left like a runaway bride or something in the middle of the night.”

Gabriel nods solemnly, and it makes Dean wonder how many times Cas has done something like that before.

“No, he doesn’t like depending on people. He doesn’t like handouts. He prefers to be self-made, even if that means barely surviving.” Gabriel digs in his pocket and pulls out his wallet, pulling out several bills and shoving them into Dean’s palm, holding them there. “He won’t take this from me. He can’t know I gave you this. I trust you’ll find some way to creatively make sure he gets this, and that he keeps it.” Gabe lets go and Dean glances down, discovering at a glance that there are several hundred dollar bills clenched in his fist, and his eyes widen slightly. Gabriel doesn’t say anything, just glances at the bathroom again before grabbing Dean’s phone and typing furiously, then laying it back on the table.

“That’s my number. If you need more money, or you have any issues with him, you call me.”

Dean nods and stuffs the money in his pocket just as he sees Cas emerge from the bathroom, and Gabe picks up a menu and pretends to peruse as Cas sits back down. He smiles at Dean, who swallows and manages a smile back.

“So, Cassie,” Gabe says nonchalantly, barely looking up from the menu. “I’m doing Cabo this year. You down to go?”

The waitress returns with their wine and waters, and Gabriel waves her off and pours everyone’s glasses, then looks to Cas for an answer. Cas huffs and shakes his head.

“Aww, why not? You can bring your boy toy with you. My treat.”

“Boy toy?” Dean mutters. Cas shakes his head again, not looking up from his menu.

“What if Dean wants to go?” Gabriel slaps down his menu, raising a brow. “What if he’s dreamed of going to Cabo all his life and your stubbornness is costing him a once in a lifetime opportunity?”

Cas blinks, looking up at Gabriel, then at Dean a bit nervously. Dean rolls his eyes with a snort.

“Cas, relax. I don’t even know where Cabo is.”

“Mexico,” Gabriel grunts.

“See, I would prefer the Bahamas,” Dean says with a shrug.

“Great idea!” Gabriel grins, earning him a weary glare from Cas. “I haven’t been there in years. What do you say to that, Cas?”

Cas shakes his head firmly and goes back to his menu. Gabriel sighs and slumps in his seat, giving Dean an apologetic look.

“Sorry, man. I tried. I guess you’ll never get that vacation you deserve.”

Cas tenses.

“I mean,” Gabriel continues with a shrug. “Working a diner all day, every day. Must be tough. Stressful, too. I’m guessing this time of year you’re not making too much money either.”

Dean shrugs and reaches out to grab Cas’s hand, squeezing it gently. “We manage. Besides, I did nothing but goof off before I opened up the diner. If anyone needs a vacation, it’s Bobby. Except his idea of a vacation is sitting in a fishing boat all damn day.”

Ugh .” Gabriel makes a face. “I'll stick with sun, sand, and chicks frisky enough to put me in a coma.”

Cas rolls his eyes behind his menu. The waitress returns and Gabriel orders them several different entrees, half of which Dean's never even heard of, much less tried.

“So, Cassie,” Gabriel takes a sip of his wine and clasps his hands together on top of the table. “I take it you've been summoned for ol’ Luci’s big shebang.”

Cas nods earnestly.

“Guess my invite got lost in the mail.” Gabe clicked his tongue and gestured to Dean. “And what about you? You goin’ with?”

Dean takes a sip of his own wine that tastes little better than dirt and makes a face, sitting it to the side and taking a gulp of water, then clearing his throat. “Uh, yeah. That's the plan.”

Cas looks over at him and smiles.

“Really?” Gabriel looks genuinely surprised. “Cassie actually managed to talk you into meeting our crazy ass family?”

Dean frowns. “I offered to go. So he wouldn’t be alone.”

Gabriel’s expression is unreadable, but Den has the feeling that he just earned a few points. After a moment, he nods once and takes another sip of his wine.

“Fair warning, Luci is a jackass.”

Dean glances at Cas, expecting to see a disapproving look, but Cas actually looks like he agrees with his brother on that count.

“Okay,” Dean shrugs. “I can deal with a jackass.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” Gabriel sighs. “He’s our brother and we love him, but he’s not the easiest guy to get along with. He’s a jerk...but he’s a jerk that means well. Most of the time. He’ll be hard on you, because Cas is the baby brother.”

Cas rolls his eyes and shifts closer to Dean, their thighs brushing together. Dean puts his hand on Cas’s knee, squeezing gently.

“Not the first time I’ve had an older brother hound me,” Dean scoffs. “I ain’t worried.”

“I’m not even the baby!” Cas signs, huffing. “Anael is younger than me. No one acts like she can’t take care of herself.”

“Anael is sittin’ pretty at a four year college that mom and dad pay for, not traveling the world with little to no plan and no way for us to even contact you.” Gabriel’s tone takes on a sharper edge, and Cas pouts, but doesn’t respond.

Dean sits up in his seat and clears his throat. “Wait, so… are you going to the wedding or not?”

Gabriel cocks a brow and picks up his wine, looking at Dean over the rim of the glass. “Oh, I’m going.”

“But you said you didn’t get an invite.”

“So?”

Dean hesitates then laughs, sitting back and rapping his knuckles on the tabletop. “Fair enough. There a reason Luci wouldn’t invite you?”

“I can think of a few…” Gabriel trails off, spinning his glass between his fingers as he eyeballs the waitress walking by their table. He turns his attention back to Dean, slouching back in his chair. “Luc and me, we’ll just say we don’t see eye to eye...although, it could have something to do with how much we have in common.” He glances over at Cas, who’s glaring at him with his jaw set, and chuckles. He waves a hand dismissively. “Doesn’t matter. He’s my brother and I’m gonna be there, whether or not he technically wants me. What are they gonna do, throw me out?”

“They may,” Cas signs, and Gabe scoffs.

“Puh- lease .”

“Would he actually throw his own brother out on his wedding?” Dean asks incredulously, starting to wonder if he really wants to meet the rest of Cas’s family.

“Mm, maybe,” Gabriel shrugs, unconcerned. “Mother certainly won’t be pleased to see me.”

“That’s because you purposely stir up trouble,” Cas signs, cocking an eyebrow. “She knows if you show up you’ll make a scene.”

“And so what if I do?” Gabriel shoots back. “Luci’s alllllways been the fav and you know it. Mom and Dad let him get away with everything. He deserves to have a few minor setbacks on his wedding day.”

“Uh, maybe you should think about the bride, too,” Dean says, tapping a finger on the table. “It’s more her day than it is his, right?”

Gabriel smirks coldly. “Oh, don’t worry. I’m definitely thinking about the bride.”

Dean sighs and decides it’s a lost cause. Gabriel is going to do what he wants, it’s plain to see. Judging by the look of exhaustion on Cas’s face, it’s a safe bet Gabriel has always been like this.

“You and your brothers are like a damn soap opera,” Dean mutters, taking another gulp of his water. Cas can’t even argue and nods solemnly.

The food comes shortly after, and as Dean suspected, it’s much more than the three of them can finish on their own. Everything is, of course, delicious, and Dean eats until he can’t anymore, and they box the rest of it up. Gabriel insists they take it home with them, and he picks up the entire check. Dean can’t see exactly how much the bill is, but it’s a three digit number, easily in the hundreds if he had to guess. He offers to pay a portion, but Gabriel vehemently refuses. Dean sits back in his chair, defeated.

“What is it you do, anyway?” he finally asks. He knows it’s rude to ask given the context, but his curiosity gets the better of him.

Gabriel smirks down at the check, signing his name with little more than a squiggly line. He closes the book and pockets his debit card. “I’m, uh. In the business of entertainment.”

“What, like...movies and shit?”

“Yeah, and shit.”

Cas’s face reddens again and he scrubs his hands over it trying to hide the blush, shaking his head. Dean looks back and forth between the two of them.

“What?”

“Tried to get Cassie to try for one once,” Gabriel chuckles. “He could be a star.”

If Cas was red before, it’s nothing compared to now.

Dean sits up a little more, his curiosity eating at him. “Okay, c’mon. Quit shittin’ around the bush. What do you do, Gabe?”

Gabriel shrugs and leans back casually. “I specialize in...erotic films.”

Dean blinks. “You...work in porn.”

Gabriel sighs dramatically. “I hate that word. Porn. Sounds so low class.”

Dean is barely paying attention to him, too busy eyeballing Cas. Gabe is right about one thing, Cas would be a fucking star.

“Damn right he would.”

Dean jumps, blushing all the way up to his hairline. “Oh, did I, uh, say that out loud?”

“Sure did, Dean-o,” Gabriel winks.

Dean chances a glance at Cas, who is practically hiding under the table now, his face so red Dean is a little concerned he might pass out.  He’d say he’s sorry, but quite frankly he isn’t. Cas needs to hear things like that every once in awhile. Dean hates that he thinks of himself as plain when it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

“Anyway, I prefer the term ‘adult entertainment’.” Gabriel downs the rest of the wine, straight from the bottle. Cas takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, his face beginning to return to its normal color.

“Yeah, I bet you do.”

“It’s providing people a service, Dean-o,” Gabriel teases, standing and pushing in his chair. Dean and Cas follow suit, and the three of them leave the restaurant.

“So you got any family, Dean?”

“Little brother,” Dean says as they climb into the car. “Sam. Samantha when he’s being a bitch, which is most of the time.”

“Mm, and what’s he do?”

“College boy. Gonna be a lawyer. Super smart. I dunno where he got it.” Dean turns onto the road and heads back to the diner. “Mom, maybe, but I wouldn’t know.”

“Why not?”

“Died when I was about four,” Dean shrugs. “Didn’t really know her. Dad didn’t talk about her much when he was still in the picture.”

Gabriel nods slowly and doesn’t ask why Dean’s dad isn’t around anymore. The guy seems to understand not getting along with parents.

“So just you and Sammy boy?”

“And Bobby,” Dean nods. “He owns the garage my diner is attached to. Sorta...adopted us, I guess? Grouchy old shit, but he took care of us.”

“That’s good,” Gabriel says, and they’re silent for the rest of the ride back to the diner.

“Thanks for lunch,” Dean says when they arrive, taking Cas by the hand again. “I’m glad you came by to see Cas and I got the chance to meet you.”

“Sure thing,” Gabe says, then gestures to Cas. “Come here and gimme a hug, kiddo.”

“Not a kid,” Cas signs, but he smiles and lets Gabe wrap him in a hug. When they pull away he looks down at Gabe in almost adoration, and Dean feels a little guilty for judging Gabe when they first met. He seems to be the only solid family that Cas has and it’s nice to see someone care for him the same way he does.

“Well, I’m off tomorrow,” Gabe says after a moment, clapping Dean on his back. “Too bad I didn’t get to meet that brother of yours. Judging by the looks of you, I’m sure he’d be a dish.”

Dean snorts. “Yeah, well. He’s leaving tomorrow too, actually. Goin’ to Washington to spend Christmas with his girlf- well, soon-to-be fiancee, I guess, and her family.”

“Geez, everybody’s getting married,” Gabriel shakes his head. “Not me, baby. Bachelor for life.”

Dean chuckles. “I used to think like that.”

Gabriel smirks and raises a brow. “Not so much anymore?”

Dean glances at Cas. “Nah, not really.”

“Mmm…” Gabriel hums, looking a little too smug in Dean’s opinion. “I got my eye on you, Dean-o. Take care of my baby bro for me.”

“If he lets me,” Dean mutters with a smile.

“Yeah, good luck with that.”

“Still right here,” Cas signs, and Gabe laughs and ruffles his hair.

“Alright, then. I better be goin’. See you two at the wedding.” Gabe points to Cas sternly. “And don’t you go disappearing on me again. You’ll send me to an early grave.”

Cas smiles sadly and leans into Dean’s side, and Dean laces their fingers together.

“Safe travels, man.”

“Yeah. I mean it, take care of him. I may not look like much, but hell hath no fury-”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it. I’ll do my best.”

Gabe gives them a final wave and gets in his rental car, and they stand there to wave until it disappears down the road.

“So...that’s Gabriel.”

Cas nods, tilting his head at Dean with a question in his eyes. Dean shrugs and smiles.

“I like ‘im.”

Cas smiles warmly, clearly pleased to hear it, and leans over to kiss Dean firmly on the lips. Dean sighs into it, wrapping his arms around his waist and pulling him close.

“Sorry,” he says quietly when they break apart. “About the, uh, star comment. I meant it, because you’re fuckin’ gorgeous. But I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable.”

Cas is blushing when he shrugs, running a finger up and down Dean’s chest. “I wasn’t uncomfortable,” he signs. “I was flattered, actually.”

“Oh yeah?” Dean nuzzles his cheek, a hand sneaking up Cas’s shirt. “Well as much as I think you would be a star, I don’t think I’d want anyone else lookin’ at you.”

“To be fair, being Gabe’s idea of a star would require them doing a lot more than just looking at me,” Cas signs with a cheeky grin, and Dean bites back a growl.

“Yeah, no. Don't like that one bit.”

Cas smiles and pulls him in for another kiss, then leads him back inside.

----

“Yeah, alright. Well have a good Christmas, man. Give Eileen a hug for me.” Dean smiles as he hangs up the phone, tossing it on the coffee table and plopping down beside Cas on the couch.

“Sam says hey. He made it safely.”

“Good,” Cas signs. “Are you okay?”

“What?”

Cas tilts his head knowingly, and Dean sighs and scrubs a hand down his face. “Yeah. Yeah, I'm good. It's just… now that Sam's getting engaged…” he huffs. “I guess I just thought I had more time with him. Gonna miss him. Happy for him, though.”

“He'll miss you, too,” Cas signs, laying his head on Dean's shoulder.

“Nah,” Dean buries his nose into Cas’s hair. “He’ll be too busy with his new life to miss me.”

“I think you underestimate how much he cares about you,” Cas signs.

“I think you underestimate how much he wanted to get out of this town,” Dean snorts. “Kid talked about nothin’ but leaving. Move far away, get married...trust me. It will be a while before he misses me.”

Cas frowns up at him, pausing, then signs: “I missed you. All the time.”

Dean smiles and pulls Cas into his lap, who goes willingly and wraps his arms around Dean’s neck.

“I missed you constantly,” Dean sighs, bumping their foreheads together. “Especially when I was here...place is too quiet without you.”

Cas huffs and lays a hand on Dean’s cheek, then pulls away to sign. “It’s quiet with me.”

Dean shakes his head, smiling. “No. Not the same kind of quiet. You have this presence about you. Silence without you is...empty silence. Silence with you is comforting.”

Cas looks at him a long time, one of his hands draping around Dean’s neck and pulling gently at the hair at the nape of his neck.

“I’m sorry,” he mouths.

Dean frowns. “For what?”

“Leaving,” Cas signs. “You didn’t deserve that. I’m so sorry.”

“Stop apologizing, Cas,” Dean says gently, taking his hands in his and kissing the knuckles. “It’s done now. We both know I’ve forgiven you. Just...next time, tell me.”

Cas raises a brow and Dean shrugs.

“I’m not stupid. I know you’re gonna leave again.”

Cas swallows and looks away, but doesn’t deny it. Dean sighs and pulls him down for a kiss, hand tangling in his hair.  

“I won’t pretend to understand it,” Dean murmurs against his lips. “But you need to be...you. If you gotta pick up and go, I just need you to tell me. Maybe keep in touch, so I know you’re okay. If you do that, it won’t hurt as bad.”

Cas kisses him again, holding the sides of his face, thumbs stroking his cheeks. He shifts in Dean’s lap, sinking lower and pressing their torsos together, sighing against Dean’s lips when he wraps his arms around his waist.

Dean holds him tightly and turns them both to the side, depositing Cas on his back on the sofa. When they pull away briefly Cas is smiling, and Dean smiles back before teasing his neck with his lips, causing him to writhe beneath him in silent laughter. Cas pulls him down again and crushes their lips together, his hand falling to grip Dean’s wrist supporting his weight next to him.

Dean quickly deepens their kiss, tongue slipping inside. He likes having Cas beneath him, that lithe body pressing up against him and squirming. The last week hadn’t had much in the way of intimacy except for the occasional kiss and sleeping next to each other. Dean didn’t want to push things in fear of Cas bolting again and Cas seemed reluctant to ask for anything more. In the months Cas was gone Dean hadn’t had many of his usual urges, his worry over Cas driving out any sexual needs he otherwise would’ve had.

So, when Cas cants his hips up, it’s no surprise Dean is already swelling inside his jeans. He groans into their kiss and grinds down, pleased to feel that Cas is right there with him. Cas gasps and kisses him hungrily, desperately, pulling Dean against him, blunt nails biting into his shoulders.

“Cas,” Dean manages breathlessly, pulling back and opening his eyes to find dilated pupils surrounded by brilliant blue. Dean can’t make himself form words for awhile and they just stare at each other, trying to slow their breaths. Something about the scene just changes , right before Dean’s eyes, and suddenly the next step seems so obvious, like it was just waiting for the opportune time. Dean knows what he wants to say but he doesn’t know how Cas will react, so he lets the words mull around in his head, trying to consider each scenario carefully. He licks his lips quickly and lays a hand on the side of Cas’s neck, brushing a thumb over his jaw.

“You want me, Cas?”

Cas’s breath hitches and his eyes widen slightly, bouncing back and forth as they maintain contact with Dean’s. He presses his lips together lightly and nods slowly, sincerely. Dean almost laughs in relief, but he doesn’t want Cas to take it the wrong way, so he just nods back and strokes his cheek, then presses a lingering kiss to his lips.

“I’ll do all the work, okay? You don’t have to do anything but lay there and make those pretty heart eyes at me. That sound good, sweetheart?”

Cas chews at his lip and nods again, one hand traveling up to the back of his neck to pull him down for another kiss, tongues slotting together perfectly.

As Cas starts to tug at his shirt, Dean pulls away, earning a huff and impatient pull on his hair.

“Hold on, baby,” Dean chuckles, climbing off the couch and helping Cas to his feet. “Just wanna move this where we have more room to play.”

He leads Cas to the bedroom, where what they are about to do becomes infinitely more real , and Cas immediately grows nervous. Dean gently pushes him onto his back on the bed, climbing on top to resume their earlier position. Lips crash together once again, the gentle coaxing from Dean easing Cas’s nerves.

Dean’s hand threads into his hair as the other one slips underneath his shirt, caressing his skin as it moves up his chest. Cas twitches when clever fingers tease a nipple, tweaking and rolling it as Dean works him over with his lips. Cas is breathless when Dean pulls away to latch onto his neck, biting down then soothing it over with his tongue.

“Remember the tap rule, okay?” Dean says as he pulls away, reaching over to his bedside table drawer and pulling out a tube of Astroglide. Cas nods a little jerkily, so Dean lays down the lube and runs his hands soothingly up Cas’s sides. “Baby, we don't have to do this if-”

Cas shakes his head quickly. “No, I want to,” he signs. “I want you.”

Dean presses his lips together and nods, slowly pushing Cas's shirt up. Cas leans up and kisses him just before Dean pulls it over his head and tosses it to the side.

Dean sits back a moment to appreciate the view eve as Cas tries to squirm under his gaze. “Shh, angel, you’re gorgeous,” Dean murmurs, trailing his fingers down Cas’s chest to his stomach, following that happy trail until it stopped at the waistband of his pants. Cas’s eyes follow the movement and his breath hitches, and Dean pauses to glance up at him.

“I’m gonna take care of you,” Dean murmurs with a smile, eyes darkening with lust as he palms the growing bulge between Cas’s legs. Cas’s jaw opens in a silent moan, his hips bucking. “You don’t have worry about a thing, sweetheart.”

Dean rolls his shoulders and slips off his shirt, then maneuvers his jeans off a second later. Cas watches with hungry eyes, swallowing thickly as his fingers fist into the sheets. Dean has never felt more desired than he does now, with those blue eyes staring at him like he’s the most beautiful thing in the world, like they could see right to his soul.

Dean unbuttons Cas's pants and pulls them down, and Cas lifts his hips to allow him to pull them off. Dean leans down again and kisses him languidly, gently stroking their cocks together between them as Cas pushes his hips up, lazily fucking into Dean's hand.

Dean sits back after a while, popping the cap on the bottle of lube and squeezing some onto his fingers. Cas's breath hitches again as Dean reaches behind himself and gently circles his own hole, arching as he finally slips one finger in to the first knuckle.

Cas is watching raptly, a hand clutching at Dean’s thigh and his chest rising rapidly. He already looks fucked out, his hair crazy and his eyes wild. Dean decides he really likes that look and wants to see more of it. Knowing he can make this shy, blushing photographer unravel from lust has Dean’s heart pounding.  

 

Cas lifts his hips to rub their cocks together, and Dean hisses and places a hand on Cas’s chest for balance as he lifts himself up a bit, scissoring his channel slowly. It’s been a long while since he’s bottomed and he’s actually a little nervous, feeling like a virgin all over again.

“Gonna take things nice and slow, okay? Let me know if you need me to stop."

Cas flexes his fingers over Dean's thighs and squeezes, then nods. He takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, then reaches up to lay his hand over Dean's heart.

Dean adds more lube to his fingers and adds a third, mouth falling open as he stretches himself gently, looking down at Cas with hooded eyes. He can probably stand a little more prep, but he likes the burn, and so he gives Cas a little nod.

“You ready, baby?”

Cas swallows hard and nods, his hands once again sliding down to grip his thighs. Dean withdraws his hand and raises up slightly, adding lube to Cas's cock and stroking. He lines himself up and meets Cas's eyes as he begins to sink down, pausing once the head pushes past his rim to take a deep breath. He groans low in his throat and Cas's breath hitches, and Dean lets out his breath slowly as he sinks the rest of the way down.

Cas is twitching slightly until Dean is fully seated, and his hips buck. Dean chuckles lowly and slides his hands back to grip Cas’s thighs, holding him down. “Easy, angel,” he says gruffly, shifting his hips to adjust the girth inside. “Gimme a sec. Been a while.”

Cas nods jerkily, nails biting into Dean’s thighs as he tries to rein in his body’s response to the incredibly tight heat surrounding him. He’s trembling with the effort not to move, eyes squeezed shut and his mouth hanging open as he drags in air.

“Feel so good, Cas,” Dean moans, smirking inwardly when Cas twitches inside him. Fuck, he’s a big boy. Dean can’t remember the last time he was stretched like this. “Gonna ride you.”

Cas’s eyes pop open as Dean pulls off, leaving just the head trapped inside, then drops back down. He lets go of Cas’s thighs and rests his hands on his chest, using it for balance as he pulls back up. Cas tries to follow him, but Dean smiles and shakes his head. “I know I feel good, but trust me on this. When I pull up, you go down. When I go down, you thrust up, okay?”

Cas lets out a shaky breath and relaxes his hands on Dean's thighs, moving them up to his hips. His eyes meet Dean's again and holds his gaze, and Dean watches with awed appreciation the nuances of each expression on his face as he begins to move. There's something about the silence combined with the way Cas just gazes at him, and while they hadn't said ‘I love you’ to each other in so many words, Dean can't think of a better way for Cas to express it.

Dean sets a pace and Cas follows it, gasping breaths and fluttering eyelids the only thing to indicate how good Dean is making him feel. But it's more than enough, because Cas keeps looking at him like that, and Dean knows without a doubt that he's never been looked at with this much admiration in his life.

Christ, look at you,” Dean moans, sliding a hand up to cup Cas's neck. “Fill me up so good, Cas, so perfect…”

He slides down and back up and Cas's hips stutter, eyes fluttering as he attempts to keep them trained on Dean. His mouth falls open and he lets out a choked gasp, hips stilling and fingers pressing into Dean's hips. He shakes slightly as he comes and Dean rides him slowly through it, tongue pressed to the back of his teeth as he marvels over the beauty of Cas's silent pleasure.

“Fuck, you’re gorgeous,” Dean whispers, ghosting his fingers over Cas’s parted lips and smiling when a tongue darts out to taste them. He pushes himself up and lets Cas slip out, and after a moment or two of gasping breaths, Cas’s eyes seem to focus and he stares up in wonder at Dean, who smiles proudly and moves to lay beside Cas.

Cas turns on his side, but pauses as his thigh brushes up against Dean’s still very hard cock. He blinks then blushes furiously, looking at Dean with a mortified expression.

“Baby, what’s wrong?”

Cas shakes his head, hands trembling as he signs, “I… it was too early.”

Dean scoffs and grabs Cas around the waist, rolling until he has him on top. “Angel, no one lasts very long the first time. It’s fine.” He kisses Cas sweetly, but Cas doesn’t look convinced. He’s squirming, embarrassed, and Dean sighs.

“You did a lot better than I did my first go,” he says, laying a hand on Cas’s cheek. “Three thrusts and I was done. Seriously. Don’t worry so much about it.”

“But you’re still…” Cas presses his torso down on Dean’s cock, eliciting a small grunt.

“Yeah, well,” Dean chuckles. “You can help me with that if you want.”

Cas considers that and licks his lips, watching Dean as he moves down his body and teases the head of his swollen cock with his tongue. Dean jerks and hisses, and Cas smirks before taking him in his mouth, sinking down until his nose is buried in unruly hair.

“Fuck! ” Dean cries out, his hand immediately coming to rest on the back of Cas's head, grabbing a fistful of the wild, sweaty hair. Cas laves his tongue over the vein on the underside of Dean's cock and moves up, swirling it around the head.

“Cas,” Dean breathes, glancing down in time to see his shaft disappear inside Cas’s mouth. “Fuck, sweetheart, you’re beautiful.”

Cas bobs his head, swallowing around Dean’s head every time it hits his throat as he slides his hand between Dean’s legs to cup his balls. They’re tight, twitching with each swipe of Cas’s tongue. Cas scrapes his teeth as he slides down again, getting Dean nice and deep, and Dean comes with a low groan as his hips cant upwards. Cas breathes carefully through his nose and takes in as much as he can, swallowing every drop he catches until Dean softens in his mouth.

He pulls off and licks his lips, and fuck, if that isn't the hottest thing Dean's ever seen in his life… he growls and grabs Cas’s arms, hauling him back up and pulling him into a filthy kiss. When they break apart again Cas falls to his side with a huff, throwing an arm over Dean's chest and nuzzling into his neck.

They lay in silence for awhile, Dean gently running his fingers through the hair on the nape of Cas's neck as he lets their breathing return to normal.

“So,” Dean finally starts, “how do you feel? Was it… okay?”

Cas pulls away and signs “perfect" with a smile, kissing him again, as if to prove his point.

Dean grins and kisses him back, their legs tangling in a sweaty mess. “Not to sound like a complete perv, but I’ve been thinking about that since I met you.”

Cas blushes and hides his face in Dean’s neck. Dean chuckles and gently squeezes the back of Cas’s neck. “C’mon, I couldn’t help it. You’re sexy and you don’t even know it. Which makes you even sexier.”

Cas is shaking his head and squirming to get out of Dean’s hold, but is held firm by a strong arm. “No, you’re not running away,” Dean clicks his tongue. “I just had your dick in my ass, I can say whatever I want and you’re gonna have to deal with it.”

Cas grins and presses his lips to Dean's shoulder, looking up at him through thick lashes. He reaches across and takes Dean's hand, giving it three firm squeezes.

“Well, I hope it was worth the wait.” Dean laughs when Cas nods his head furiously against his shoulder. “Gotta say, I'm honored to be your first.”

Cas huffs and lets go of Dean's hand in favor of tracing what appear to be random patterns on his chest with a finger, watching Dean's face intently.

“What are you thinking about?” Dean murmurs after a moment, running his fingers up Cas’s hair.

Cas smiles and pokes Dean on the nose.

“Me?”

Cas nods.

“What about me?”

Cas smiles that gummy smile and shakes his head, looking down at his finger as it draws invisible patterns.

“Mean,” Dean pouts, grabbing the finger and bringing it to his lips, sucking on the tip. “Don’t make me tease it out of you.”

Cas smiles and pulls his hands away, laying back so he can sign.

“Just really happy. You make me happy.”

It's Dean's turn to blush this time and he once again finds himself choking on the words he so desperately wants to say. His throat thickens and he swallows hard, managing a smile.

“You make me happy too, Cas. Like, insanely happy.” He scrubs a hand down his face and chuckles. “Cas, I- Jesus, when you left, I c-" he swallows again and shakes his head slightly. “I thought that was it, that you were gone and I'd blown my only chance at happiness because of something I did or the things I didn't say. But I'm telling you right now, you disappear on me again without so much as a word, I'll have no choice but to search this whole fucking country until I find you.” He gives Cas a stern look, taking his hand and pressing it to his lips. “I'm not letting go again.”

Cas doesn't say anything for awhile. When he finally does, it's to sign a simple:

“I won't disappear.”

“Good,” Dean sighs, his head falling back onto the pillow. He knows Cas will leave again and is accepting of that, even if he doesn’t like it. But maybe this time Cas will at least tell him where he’s going and check in every once in awhile.

Dean stretches out and turns off the light, plunging them in darkness broken only by the moonlight coming in through the window. Dean hums as Cas snuggles in close, their bodies almost plastered together, his breath tickling Dean’s neck. They fall asleep like that, both pleasantly sore and smiling.

Chapter Text

“Cas. Cas, baby, wake up. It's Christmas.”

The days leading up to now passed quickly, despite the diner being practically dead. Having Cas in his bed every night, and blessedly each morning, has Dean more in the Christmas spirit than he's ever been. They'd even gone and picked out a Christmas tree, which Dean hadn't done himself in years, and spent the day before Christmas Eve decorating it while drinking hot cocoa and watching cheesy Christmas specials… something Sam would tease him about relentlessly if he ever found out about it. Not that Dean cares. For once his heart is full to practically bursting, and he has his blue- eyed angel to thank for it.

“Cas.”

Dean brushes wild hair out of his face and nuzzles behind his ear, pressing a kiss to his neck. Cas turns and buries his face in his pillow, trying to pull the blanket over his head.

“No, babe, c'mon… time to get up.” Dean tries to pry the covers away but Cas’s grip is steel. “Okay, fine, I'll get your coffee first. But then you have to get up. Deal?”

Cas pops one eye open and frowns, then nods reluctantly.

Dean shakes his head amusedly and kisses Cas on the forehead, chuckling when Cas responds by burying his face into the pillow. Dean climbs out of bed and shuffles naked into the kitchen, rolling his shoulders as he hunts for coffee. Honestly, it’s Cas’s fault they were up so late. Ever since they’d taken that step, Cas has been gung ho about any and all sexual activities. They went from the occasional kiss to fucking every night, sometimes multiple times. Being a bit of a perfectionist, Cas says he wants to improve his stamina; Dean thinks he’s a boy with a new toy- the toy being Dean’s ass.

As he starts up the coffee maker, Dean allows himself to fantasize about getting inside Cas. He hasn’t initiated it, yet. Bottoming for the first time is scary enough, add it to being a virgin is terrifying. Dean wants Cas as comfortable as possible with sex before he tries it and is confident Cas will enjoy it, maybe even prefer it. Even if Dean is the one taking it, Cas usually gives him all the control.

His thoughts distracting him, Dean barely registers when the coffee is ready. He grabs a mug and fills it up, adding some sugar and milk before padding back into the bedroom. Cas is asleep again, looking even more rumpled than before. Dean smiles and sets the coffee down on the nightstand, threading his fingers through thick hair.

“Okay, baby, rise and shine now,” he chuckles. “Coffee is here. C’mon, get up.”

Cas sniffs loudly and sits up, his hair sticking up all over his head. He frowns and looks around the room, rubbing his eyes then fixating on Dean. He reaches out and touches Dean's face gently, though the frown doesn't budge, then he grabs his coffee off the nightstand and promptly takes a sip, cupping the mug with both hands. He closes his eyes as he drinks, practically downing half the cup before he opens them again.

Dean watches him fondly, and Cas looks over the rim of his mug at him, tilting his head questioningly. Dean shrugs.

“You're cute when you're grumpy.”

Cas rolls his eyes and swats Dean's hand away when he playfully tries to pinch his cheek. He sets the coffee down and runs his hands down his face, rubbing at his tired eyes again. He lets his hands fall to his lap and looks forward blankly, then suddenly sits up straighter, eyes widening slightly.

“It's Christmas,” he signs, and Dean laughs and nods.

“That's what I've been trying to stress to you, but you're impossible in the morning-”

Cas dives forward onto his knees and wraps his arms around Dean's neck, capturing his lips in a hungry kiss. Dean snorts a laugh into the kiss and grips Cas’s waist to pull him close, practically pulling him out of bed.

“You-” Kiss . “Seem more-” Kiss, kiss . “Awake now.”

Cas huffs and pulls away long enough to give Dean a look that clearly says shut up . Dean laughs and allows himself to be tugged down, falling on top of Cas as they flop onto the bed. Cas pulls him into another passionate kiss, hands gripping the back of Dean’s head.

“Still a little sore from last night, baby,” Dean whispers breathlessly when Cas finally releases his lips. “So if you’re wanting an encore, we may have to give it a few hours. Or you gotta go extra slow.”

Cas pauses and cups Dean's face, and his expression softens. He bites his lip and lets Dean go.

“Later,” he signs, then smiles. “It's Christmas.”

“Sure is, baby." Dean chuckles and stands, hauling Cas to his feet and handing him his coffee, but not before stealing one more kiss. He ruffles his dark hair and wraps an arm around his neck, and they walk out of the bedroom into the living room.

Cas's eyes widen at the presents under the tree, and he looks at Dean. Cas had put a few of his own under there for Dean, but there were several more now, because Dean refused to pass up the opportunity to get Cas some of his own stuff under the premise of a holiday.

“Don’t give me that look,” Dean huffs. “This is the one time of year I’m allowed to buy you shit. It’s expected. You’re gonna accept every single gift and like it.”

Cas blinks, chewing on his lip, then slowly smiles. Dean breathes a mental sigh of relief and kisses the top of Cas’s head. “Nothin’ fancy anyway,” he mutters as they curl up on the couch. Cas just keeps smiling, his gums showing, and Dean wonders just how many Christmases Cas spent alone and unhappy. If Cas lets him, he’ll make sure that never happens again.

“We gotta head to Bobby’s at some point,” Dean says after taking a sip of coffee. “But we can do our own little Christmas here. Oh, and-” He gets up and snatches a box off the kitchen table. “This is from Gabriel. Came in yesterday.” Dean raises a brow and hands the box to Cas. “I didn’t open it, because frankly, I’m a little scared to.”

Cas tilts his head warily and takes the package from Dean’s hands, turning it over in his own. Dean leans back and drapes an arm over the back of the couch beside Cas, looking between him and the gift.

“Well? You gonna open it?”

Cas chews his lip through his smile and glances back up at Dean, laying the box on his lap to sign. “I’m a little afraid, too.”

Dean huffs and Cas picks the package up again, slowly tearing into it. He opens the box, red tissue paper covering whatever’s inside, with a note with surprisingly fancy scrawl on it laying on top.

For your travels.

Cas raises a brow and looks at Dean, who shrugs. Cas lays the note aside and starts pulling out tissue paper, his face turning about nine different shades of red before he desperately recovers whatever’s inside with the tissue paper in his hand.

“What?” Dean smiles and tries to see, but Cas shakes his head. “Oh, come on, it can’t be that- well, yeah. Yeah, I guess it can. But c’mon, it’s just me.”

Cas reluctantly lets go of the package and covers his face with his hands, and Dean carefully removes the paper and gapes at what’s inside.

“It’s a- ah…”

Inside is a long black tube with a sketched neon green dick on the front, proclaiming “Clone-A-Willy” in big block letters. Dean’s face reddens too and Cas is still hiding behind his hands, but Dean forces a nervous chuckle, then before he knows it he’s broken out in full-out laughter, tears quickly beginning to stream down his face.

“It’s- Cas! It glows in the dark!”

Cas uncovers his face long enough to smack him on the shoulder, and Dean pulls the tube out of its packaging to inspect it, trying desperately to read through the tears blurring his vision.

“‘The in-home penis molding kit’,” Dean reads through his laughter. “‘Make a v- Cas! It vibrates!”

“I’m going to kill him,” Cas signs, shaking his head, but he finally smiles. Dean goes to move the box to the coffee table when he notices a card tucked into the bottom.

“Hey, wait. There’s something else in here, too.”

Cas frowns and takes the box, pulling the card from the bottom. It’s addressed to “Cassie and Dean-o” in the same scrawl. He pulls the card out and several pieces of paper fall out on his lap, which he picks up as his eyes scan over the writing inside. Dean looks over his shoulder to read the note Gabriel wrote, again lovingly addressing it to the two of them.

 

Cassie (and Dean-o),

Just remember, Cas, it’s rude to return a gift you’ve been given. For once in your life, have a bit of fun on my dime.

When you’re away, why don’t you test out the enclosed gift? I’m sure Dean won’t mind modeling for you. ;)

When you’re together, enjoy each other. Take time for the two of you. Go somewhere you’ve never been. It’s just as much fun to be adventurous with someone else as it is by yourself. Don’t limit yourself. Enjoy the ride.

And in the meantime, a little sun and sand couldn’t hurt.

Cheers,

Gabriel

 

“Holy shit,” Dean breathes, reading over the note again, before picking up the papers that were clutched in Cas’s hand. “He bought us round trip tickets to the Bahamas.” Dean is glad he’s sitting down, because his knees would’ve given out. “And booked us a suite for two weeks...right on the beach. Jesus, maybe I need to get into porn. It apparently pays very well.”

Cas’s eyes snap up and Dean scoffs.

“I was kidding, Cas. No one gets to enjoy me but you.”

Cas rolls his eyes, but gives a strained smile. Dean sighs and tugs the note out of his fingers, and sets it all aside.

“Hey,” Dean pulls Cas into his lap, arms wrapped around his waist. “We don’t have to use any of this if you don’t want to. The tickets, the hotel...we can just not go. However ,” Dean kisses him gently, tugging on his lip as he pulls away, “Gabe does have a point. Adventures can be fun with someone else. And I don’t think it would be so bad to...enjoy each other...in a five-star hotel...on one of the best beaches in the world.”

Cas presses his lips together and looks at him for a long time, finally sighing softly. “You want to go?”

Dean tries to shrug nonchalantly. “Only if you do.”

Cas glances over at the note and the tickets. His hands fidget in his lap, then he shrugs and gives him a small smile.

“Might be nice,” he signs. “You could use a vacation, anyway.”

Dean grins and pulls him in for another kiss, hooking a hand behind Cas’s thigh and pulling him back into his lap. Cas comes willingly and cups his face, kissing him languidly and panting softly against Dean’s lips. He pulls away to bump their foreheads together, then leans back to sign again.

“I think I’d like that, going away with you.”

“Me too,” Dean smiles, the tips over his fingers tracing Cas’s jaw and cheekbones. Cas is already tan, but Dean wonders how good he’d look with a Bahamas tan. All that beautiful skin stretched out on the sand as Cas arches beneath him-

Dean coughs and blushes when Cas gives him a bemused look, and he shifts and kisses Cas on the chin, then the lips, grinning when he huffs a laugh.

“I want to go away with you,” Dean murmurs. “Not just for the all day and night sex. I just...I dunno. I wanna see you relaxed. Having fun. Nothing to worry about but where your next great shot is coming from.”

Cas smiles again and shifts off of Dean’s lap, pointing to the tree. Dean nods and Cas scrambles to his feet excitedly, dropping to his knees in front of the tree and pulling out the first gift. He smiles down at the small box and passes it to Dean.

“For me?”

Cas nods and turns to watch him, and Dean takes it and turns it over in his hands, pulling at the tape and ripping the paper off. It’s a small blue jewelry box, and he pulls the top off to reveal a thick leather cuff bracelet, dark brown, with numbers engraved along the edge.

“Wow, Cas, this is-” Dean picks it up and runs his thumb along the leather, over the numbers. “It’s beautiful. What’s-?”

“Coordinates,” Cas confirms, chewing his lip nervously, “for the diner. I just thought since it means so much to you, and it’s where we met. It’s special.”

Dean blinks down at the beautiful piece of leather in his hand and smiles widely. “That’s- Cas, it’s...so amazing.” His hand finds the back of Cas’s neck and pulls until their lips smash together in a kiss that Dean hopes conveys those three words he’s been wanting to say. It leaves them both breathless and wondering if they have time for a quickie on the couch.

“You like it?” Cas signs, face flushed as he pants.

“I love it,” Dean says, and with Cas’s help fastens the bracelet over his wrist. Dean knows then and there he’s never taking it off. “You’re right. It is special. You’re special, Cas.”

Cas blushes and looks down.

“I’m glad you like it,” he signs, then reaches out and runs his fingers over the leather. “It suits you,” he signs when he pulls away again. He fidgets nervously then sits back, gesturing at the tree again with a raised eyebrow.

“Yeah, yeah, go crazy,” Dean says, tearing his eyes away from the bracelet and waving a hand in that direction. “One of mine next.”

Cas grins and scoots back over to the tree, finding one of the gifts Dean had wrapped for him. He sits cross-legged and balances the gift across his thighs, sliding a hand under the paper to loosen the tape.

Dean manages to not stare down at his bracelet and focus on Cas unwrapping his gift in a way reminiscent of a child. He suddenly feels nervous, because nothing he got Cas even compares to the thoughtfulness behind the bracelet. Dean had tried to keep it light, getting practical things that Cas could actually use. It all seems so inadequate now.

Once revealed, Cas finds himself looking at a box to an aluminum alloy tripod, fit to hold almost any camera size and can stand up to 55 inches. Most importantly, it’s lightweight and can fold up. Dean fidgets as he watches Cas trace over the picture on front, then freezes when those blue eyes finally look up at him.

“It’s, ah, durable,” Dean mumbles, eyeing Cas warily as he climbs back into his lap. “Can use it in any weather, so, like, if it’s raining-”

Cas doesn’t let him finish. He pushes Dean onto his back, straddling his thighs, and damn near kisses the life out of him. Dean’s worries fly out the window and he moans, looping an arm around Cas’s neck. Cas ruts gently against him and Dean’s hands slide down to his hips, pressing his fingers into the skin exposed due to his shirt riding up slightly. Tangled tongues and gentle scrapes of teeth are all Dean can focus on for the next few minutes, and when Sam’s ringtone begins playing from his phone, he lets his head fall back with an exasperated sigh.

Cas smiles and drops his forehead to Dean’s, and Dean licks his lips and swallows.

“Should probably get that,” he mutters, then waves a hand. “Go on, open the others. I’ll just be a minute.” Cas nods and lets him up, going back to sit in front of the tree. He watches smugly while Dean composes himself and finally sits up, grabbing his phone.

“Merry Christmas, bitch,” he answers playfully, if a little out of breath. Sam either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care, his tone way too excited for someone calling shortly after 6 a.m.

“Yeah, yeah, merry Christmas, jerk. Eileen said yes!”

Dean sits up straighter, pressing the phone to his ear. “Oh, yeah? Well, yeah, of course. She’d be crazy not to.” He clears his throat. “Congratulations, Sammy.”

“I’m engaged, Dean!” Sam laughs. “Can you believe it?”

“I still can’t believe you managed to find a woman who can stand you,” Dean snorts, rubbing at his eyes.

“Ha ha,” Sam deadpans. “Look, you’re gonna be my best man, so you better be ready to start talking wedding stuff.”

“Wait, what?” Dean frowns. “I thought the girl planned the wedding.”

“Well, yeah, mostly,” Sam sighs. “But you’ll need to get fitted for a tux. And throw my bachelor party. And she says I’m picking the music…”

Dean closes his eyes and lets his head fall back again as Sam rattles on about weddings and dates and who the fuck knows. He should be happy about this and should have expected the call, but his blissful happiness with Cas had made him conveniently forget about the whole proposal thing. And Dean it’s unbelievably selfish of him, but he wants things to stay the same. He doesn’t want Sam to move, start a life Dean has no part in, and go from seeing his brother everyday- when he isn’t in school- to only seeing him on holidays.

“Dean, are you listening?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Dean sighs. “I’ll be there for whatever you need me to do.”

“Great,” Sam snorts. “So, how was Christmas with Cas?”

“Well, you kinda interrupted it,” Dean mutters, looking down at his still half hard cock. One would think he got enough last night, but apparently he’s eighteen again. “We’re opening up presents now.”

“Oh, sorry!” Sam sounds genuinely apologetic. “I’ll let you get back to it. We can talk later. I’m assuming you’re going to Bobby’s?”

“Yeah, eventually. Probably for lunch. Just him and Rufus, so they’ll get drunk and pass out, then me an’ Cas can come back home and have the real fun.”

“Oh, Jesus, stop,” Sam groans. “I don’t wanna hear about your sex life with Cas.”

“You sure?” Dean grins and laughs when Cas slaps him on the thigh. “It’s better than porn.”

“Stop.

“Fine, fine,” Dean chuckles. “Cas is like vibrating over here with impatience, so I’m gonna let you go. Merry Christmas.”

“You too, Dean.”

Dean hangs up and tosses the phone on the coffee table, immediately getting up and joining Cas on the floor in front of the tree. Cas looks at him with concern, but doesn’t pry, which Dean is grateful for. He’d talk to Cas about everything eventually, but for today, he just wants the two of them to enjoy their first- and hopefully not their last- Christmas together.

They take their time unwrapping the last few gifts. Dean had gotten Cas a couple pairs of jeans and some shirts, as well as a new pair of shoes since the ones he was wearing were practically falling apart. Cas gifted him with a small photo album of photos he knew Dean would like- cars, graffiti, and most importantly, several selfies of Cas at different landmarks in Montana. There were even a few at Falls Park, some from the day of their date, Dean recognized, because of the outfit Cas wore. To be so gifted with a camera, Cas’s selfies were adorably amateurish, and he loves each and every one.

Presents unwrapped and paper covering inch of the living room floor, Dean shuffles into the kitchen to whip up some breakfast while Cas admires his new stuff. In between flipping pancakes, Dean strokes the leather of his bracelet as his mind wanders. The gift is surprisingly deep and sweet, something that one would give out of love.

Arms wrap around his waist and Dean is pulled from his thoughts. “Hey, sweetheart,” he smiles. “You hungry? Almost ready.”

He feels Cas nod and sighs happily. Usually on his days off he wouldn’t bother cooking much of anything, since that what he spends all day doing. With Cas, though, he can’t think of a better way to take care of him. He loves cooking for Cas and hates to think about what kind of food the guy eats when he’s on the road, if any food at all.

The arms around his waist pull back slightly, Cas’s palms flat on his stomach, then move downward, dipping into the waistband of his sweats. Dean chuckles as he pokes at the pancake in the pan.

“Hungry for something else, then?”

Cas doesn’t answer but Dean has the feeling that he’s smiling. A hand travels lower and grips the base of his cock, slowly stroking downward and back up again. Dean arches and shivers, huffing a laugh.

“You’re insatiable, you know that?” He groans softly when Cas coaxes the first bead of precum out and swirls his thumb over the head. Warm lips press behind his ear and Cas presses close, his erection obvious against Dean’s backside.

The pancake burns before Dean has the good sense to drop everything and cut the stove off, and they spend the next couple of hours in Dean’s bedroom, which is by far the best Christmas gift Dean could’ve ever asked for.

----

“We brought the booze, Bobby!” Dean calls when they walk in, holding up the brown bag full of crap whiskey and vodka. He leads Cas through the living area by the hand, finding Bobby and Rufus sitting together in the kitchen, already more than halfway through a bottle of Old Crow whiskey.

“Good, we were gettin’ low,” Bobby grunts, looking over his shoulder. “Merry Christmas, boys. You get all sortsa goodies, Cas?”

Cas blushes and nods, making heart eyes at Dean who only shrugs modestly.

“Gonna spoil him,” Bobby snorts with a shake of his head.

“That’s the point,” Dean tosses back. “How’s it goin’, Rufus?”

“Same ol’, same ol’,” Rufus shrugs. “Just listening to this old fart bitch again.”

Dean grins as he dumps the bottles of whiskey on the counter. “Bitch about what?”

“What doesn’t he bitch about,” Rufus grumbles.

“Cas, this is Rufus,” Dean smiles, nodding at the older black man. “Also known as Bobby’s wife.”

“Oh, ha ha,” Bobby glares. “You think you’re really fuckin’ funny.”

“I think I’m adorable,” Dean puckers his lips.

“Nice to meet you,” Cas signs with a smile.

Rufus squints at him. “What’d he say?”

“Says you’re ugly,” Bobby grunts, pouring himself another glass of Old Crow.

Cas vehemently shakes his head, looking distressed, and Dean laughs. “Baby, don’t worry about them,” he chuckles, kissing him on the cheek. “They bicker all the time. Best thing to do is just sit back and enjoy the show.”

“Heard from that brother of yours?” Bobby asks, taking a sip of his whiskey.

“Of course,” Dean says gruffly, letting go of Cas’s hand to set the bag of booze on the counter. He turns and crosses his arms over his chest, leaning back against the counter. “He, uh. He proposed to Eileen. She said yes.”

“Yeah, he told me. She’s a good one, that Eileen. Miracle he managed not to screw it up.” Bobby snorts and smacks Rufus’s hand when he reaches for the bottle again. Rufus rolls his eyes and grabs the bottle anyway, pouring the remainder of the whiskey into his own cup...well over the recommended two fingers. Dean shakes his head and reaches behind him for another bottle, passing it over to Bobby.

“Either one of you gonna be sober enough to cook today?” Dean asks, happy for a legitimate subject change. “I’d rather not do it, considerin’ I’ll be back at it again first thing tomorrow.”

“Even if he was sober I wouldn’t let him cook,” Bobby snorts, waving his hand at Rufus. “He can’t even make cereal without it tastin’ like shit.”

“Normally I would argue,” Rufus shrugs. “But he’s right. I can’t cook worth a damn.”

“Luckily, I thought ahead,” Bobby says. “Made us all a couple of steaks last night. All we gotta do is pop them in the oven to warm them up.”

Not exactly the Christmas feast Dean wants Cas to experience, but Bobby’s steaks are actually pretty good...even reheated. Dean makes the decision to whip up some mashed potatoes and steam some broccoli to go with it. He can probably rope Cas into helping him peel the potatoes.

“You want the grand tour?” Dean turns to Cas, giving him a peck on the cheek. “This is basically where I grew up. Little dirtier and older now, but it hasn’t changed.”

Cas smiles and nods, and Dean takes him by the hand.

“Well, obviously, this is the kitchen, usually only used as a fill-up station for old drunks.” Dean grins as he leads Cas back out into the living room and hears Bobby scoff loudly behind him, followed by Rufus’s: “Well, he ain’t wrong”.

“The living room,” Dean waves a hand around the room at the old maroon wallpaper adorned with some kind of gold design. On second thought, maybe the wallpaper was red and just really dirty...that was always a possibility. Although, Dean never really remembered it looking any different. The room honestly had the potential to look really nice; it had a large window with a nook and a beautiful old fireplace at the far end, but all that was overshadowed by an ugly couch pushed in front of the window, a large splintered desk in front of the fireplace, an old cheap rug whose pattern was eerily similar to the equally outdated wallpaper, and books practically lining the walls from floor to ceiling in some places.

He leads Cas through the wide doorway, back in the direction of the front door, but turns left. It’s a good-sized foyer, which of course Cas has already seen. Dean points out Bobby’s bedroom at the bottom of the stairs, but doesn’t lead him inside. It was always pretty much off-limits to himself and Sam when they were younger. They had always assumed it was because Bobby was hiding something from them, but as Dean got older he realized it was simply so that Bobby himself could hide from them. He didn’t have his own children for a reason, and while he loved Sam and Dean like they were his own, he obviously needed to have time for himself every once in awhile. Regardless, the respect for that privacy stuck with Dean, and he never entered Bobby’s room unless he specifically invited him inside.

Dean leads Cas up the stairs, which again would be beautiful if it wasn’t covered in grime and dust.  He opens up the first door to reveal a weirdly clean room, all the way down to the neatly made bed. “This was Sammy’s room,” Dean leans against the doorjamb. “Still is if he comes to visit. Nothin’ fun ever happened in here, believe me. All he ever did was read and study, the dork.”

Cas rolls his eyes and slaps Dean lightly on the chest. “Those are good things,” he signs as Dean leads him further down the hall.

“Yeah, well, this was my room,” Dean smirks as he opens the door and saunters in, plopping down on the unmade bed. “And it looks just like I left it when I moved out.”

Cas deadpans. “You didn’t even make your bed before you left?” he signs, and Dean shakes his head almost proudly, which causes Cas to roll his eyes.

“Not even sure if I washed the sheets, if I’m being honest,” Dean shrugs, and Cas presses his lips together and turns away. “Maybe just...don’t sit there, just to be safe.”

Cas pretends to be interested in something else, pictures or whatthefuckever Dean has on his desk in the corner, but his stance is rigid, his shoulders squared, avoiding eye contact. Dean rubs his forehead and kicks himself mentally, then gets up and crosses over to Cas, wrapping his arms around his waist from behind. Cas doesn’t really respond.

“Don’t be jealous, Cas,” Dean says gently, his chin resting on Cas’s shoulder. “That was stupid. I’m sorry.” Cas still doesn’t acknowledge him, leaning over to rifle through some papers on his desk, some old homework or something that Dean never completed, much less turned in.

“Angel,” Dean urges, “please. I’m an idiot. Just ignore what I said. Besides,” he presses a kiss to Cas’s neck, just behind his ear, lowering his voice, “you fuck me better than any of the others ever could. They’re nothing.”

Cas pauses, his hands on an old spiral notebook that Dean mostly used to keep his fuck buddies’ numbers in. Cas still won’t look at Dean, his eyes darting over the contents on the notebook. Dean huffs and snatches it away, tossing into the small trash can beside the desk.

“Cas,” he grabs Cas’s shoulders and forces him to turn, forces him to look at him. “I can’t change any of that. I got around and you know what? I’m not particularly ashamed of it. I used them and they used me; it was all very mutual. I’m not like that anymore. Not since I met you.” Dean pauses, licking his lips. “When you left, I wasn’t….with anyone. I tried, because I thought you weren’t ever coming back. I tried moving on, but I never could. Cas, not only do you fuck me better than any of the others, you also make me feel things I’ve never felt. Good things. You mean more to me than any of those names in that notebook.”

“Don’t care about any of them,” Cas signs. “I just hate that you didn’t think you were worth more than that.” He sighs and looks up at Dean with sad eyes. “They were before me. They don’t matter. But they had someone very special, and they couldn’t appreciate it. And you couldn’t appreciate yourself.”

Dean doesn’t really know what to say to that. Of course, he knew deep down that the promiscuity was a way for him to feel wanted, to feel accepted, to feel good . It was one of the only things he had to offer, one of the only things he was good at, and if he could be self-deprecating while at the same time making himself feel good, well...then he considered it a win-win.

Cas gives him a soft smile. “Your past is your past. It’s what you do now that counts and I know how you feel about me. You show me every day, unconditionally.” Dean’s hands slide to Cas’s waist as Cas raises his own to cup Dean’s face, and he presses their lips together gently, pulling back again slowly.

“You know,” Dean says with a small smile, “If this were the old me, with you bein’ in my room and all, I’d be putting the moves on you.”

“Because you never do that now,” Cas huffs a silent laugh.

“Nope,” Dean shakes his head. “Trust me. Back then I wasn’t very...subtle. If I wanted it, I got it.”

“So what do you call what you do now?”

“Tame flirting,” Dean shrugs. “Nothin’ compared to what I used to do.”

Cas raises a brow and smiles playfully, his tense shoulders easing up as he starts to relax again. “I’m morbidly curious. What did you used to do?”

Dean laughs and shakes his head, ushering Cas out of the room. “No way do you actually wanna know that. That’s a big can of worms we are not opening.”

“Now I’m very curious,” Cas grins as Dean shuts the door firmly.

Dean huffs. “Nope. We start talkin’ about that, no way you’ll be able to resist fuckin’ me, and Bobby never was one to be forgiving about the things he heard coming out of my room. He’ll kick us the hell out- he won’t care that it’s Christmas.”

Cas grins but allows himself to be pulled back through the hall and down the steps. Bobby and Rufus are playing cards at the table, and based on the glassy-eyed frowns on their faces, Dean wagers that they’re both much too far gone for cooking anything. He claps Bobby on the shoulder as he passes, and Bobby mumbles something he can’t make out. He wordlessly starts on dinner, giving Cas a bag of potatoes and a peeler. They set to work, the old men practically oblivious for the first half hour or so, but after the potatoes were mashed and mixed together and everything else was warming in and on the stove, the four of them sat together to play a game of gin rummy.

After the first game, Dean gets up to put everyone’s plates together. Cas tries to help, but he waves him off. Finally everyone sits to eat, talking about nothing in particular, with Dean translating for Cas. There’s more drinking, swearing, and general bickering from Bobby and Rufus, with Dean and Cas watching with some amusement. For desert there’s apple pie from the diner with vanilla ice cream, which Cas has two helpings of.

Rufus bows out first around 8 p.m., and Dean and Cas say their goodbyes shortly after. Bobby hugs them both tightly, giving them firm pats on the back, and Dean chalks the uncharacteristic mushiness up to the booze. Dean drives them home in silence, the day honestly so relaxed and perfect that the recent silence seems fitting.

Cas wraps his arms around him from behind once they're at the house and Dean's unlocking the door, and Dean smiles and lays his hand over Cas's arms as they stumble awkwardly inside. The house is still a mess from earlier but neither of them can be bothered by it, still riding the euphoric high of the day.

“Merry Christmas, Cas,” Dean murmurs softly, and Cas loosens his hold long enough to allow Dean to turn in his arms. He's giving him that smile again, the one that speaks a thousand words by itself. The one Dean dreamed about while he was gone, almost every night.

“Sleepy yet?” Dean asks lowly. Cas shakes his head, still smiling, and Dean grins back.

“Good.”

A few minutes later and they have already abandoned their clothes in favor of a hot shower together. It’s a little cramped for two full grown men, but having Cas naked, wet and close isn’t something Dean is going to complain about. He takes his time soaping Cas up, running his hands over all that pretty skin, paying special attention to those hipbones Dean loves so much. He presses up close behind Cas, a hand splayed on his chest as the other, slick with body wash, teases just above the base of Cas’s cock.

“Is this one of your moves?” Cas signs, his eyes half lidded and never straying from Dean’s hand.

“Never actually got any in the shower,” Dean chuckles. “Baths, showers...kinda intimate. Perfect for you and me, though.”

Cas lays his head back against Dean's shoulder as Dean's hands roam his torso, up along the planes of his chest again and down his flat stomach. He turns his head to nose at Dean's neck, finally turning all the way in his arms. He pushes wet hair out of his face and rests his forehead against Dean's, wrapping an arm around his neck and tangling fingers in the hair at the nape of his neck.

Dean presses his lips together and brushes a thumb across Cas's cheekbone.

“You really are gorgeous,” he whispers, and Cas looks up at him through wet lashes, lips parted. “Mm, yeah, just like that...that’s gonna be in my dreams tonight.” Dean chuckles lowly when Cas blushes, blue eyes fluttering shut briefly. It’s no exaggeration. Cas makes a beautiful image. Those pink lips parted, blue eyes so clear and intense one could drown in them, water cascading down his face. It’s the kind of thing that makes Dean wish he had a waterproof camera.

Dean gently presses Cas up against the tile wall and slots their mouths together, tongues immediately tangling as their torsos press together, cocks sliding up against each other. Cas wraps his arms around Dean, fingers digging into the wet skin of Dean’s back as he ruts slowly, rolling his hips so sensually that Dean’s knees almost give out.

He pulls away breathlessly to trail kisses down Cas's jaw, then his neck. He stops when he feels two taps on his shoulder, and Cas's pupils are blown and his eyes heavy-lidded when he looks at him.

“Are you okay?” Dean asks, voice laced with concern. “Do you need me to stop?”

Cas shakes his head vehemently, and Dean pulls back to give him room to sign.

“I'm ready,” he signs, and Dean tilts his head. “Want you...want you to make love to me.”

Dean drags in air, feeling out of breath as his heart skips a few beats. He wants to say something, anything that will convey how happy he is that Cas wants this, that Cas trusts him. Words fail him, though, so Dean says nothing and smiles softly. He nods once and pulls Cas in for another kiss, this one slow and deep, bodies pressed so close not even the water could slip through.

A few moments later finds them out of the shower and stumbling to the bed still damp because they refuse to stop kissing for something as silly as drying and walking . They fall onto the bed with a laugh, Dean sprawled across Cas, their cocks squished between their bellies.

Dean props himself up, caging Cas’s head with his arms. His smile fades and he looks at him sincerely, leaning down to kiss the tip of his nose.

“You sure you wanna do this?”

Cas nods, and surprisingly he doesn’t even look as nervous as he did the first time he topped. He reaches up and traces Dean’s jaw and across his lips, finally laying the hand on Dean’s neck and nodding again. Dean presses their lips together softly and unhurried.

“Alright, angel. Gonna go real slow, okay? If you are ever uncomfortable, you know what to do.”

Dean shifts to his knees and pulls a pillow from the top of the bed. Cas lifts his hips for him and Dean situates the pillow under his lower back, then he reaches into the nightstand to pull out his bottle of lube. He throws it beside him on the bed and lays his hand on the top of Cas’s knee, pressing a kiss to the side, then down his thigh. Cas squirms and when Dean looks up he’s smiling, and Dean smiles and kisses him again, further down the inside of his thigh, and Cas throws his head back in the open-mouthed silent laugh that Dean adores.

“Ticklish, huh? I’ll have to remember that.” Dean smirks but stops, instead moving up to kiss his stomach.

Cas bites his lip, smiling down at Dean as he peppers kisses across Cas’s belly and hips. He stops at a hipbone and nibbles, sliding his tongue along the dip and coming tantalizingly close to the hard cock sitting in a nest of dark curls. Dean bypasses it, though, and Cas huffs as he throws his head back.

“I’ve got a better place for my mouth,” Dean chuckles, nosing along the inside of Cas’s thigh and smirking when Cas twitches. He dips his head, kissing the heavy sac in front of him, before pushing Cas’s thighs up and moving down to run his tongue over his virgin rim.

Cas gasps, a hand flying down to grip Dean’s hair.  Dean glances up to see Cas’s face flushed a bright red, his eyes wide with surprised arousal.

“Want me to keep going?” Dean asks softly. Cas pauses before he nods, a thigh falling open to give Dean more room. Dean throws one of his legs over his shoulder, then dips down and slowly traces the tight muscle with his tongue again, feeling Cas’s leg shake slightly. He finally spears his tongue and barely pushes past his rim, causing Cas to gasp and jerk against him. Dean pulls back again and resorts to slowly dragging his tongue around Cas’s hole, allowing him to relax and enjoy the sensation, until Cas is practically writhing on the bed. It’s one of the few times that Dean regrets that Cas is unable to speak, although he quite enjoys the shaky breaths he’s pulling from his blue-eyed beauty.

“Okay now, try to stay relaxed, babe. It’ll make this much more enjoyable.” Dean kisses the inside of his knee again and reaches for the lube, popping the cap and spreading a generous amount over his fingers. He reaches down between Cas’s legs, and Cas jerks and hisses when Dean runs the cool liquid over his sensitive hole. He opens his mouth in a silent groan as Dean circles the muscle, and he squeezes his eyes shut and arches when Dean barely pushes a fingertip in, clenching around the digit.

“Easy, sweetheart,” Dean breathes, watching Cas intently. “Relax for me.”

Cas huffs and takes a deep breath, relaxing as he lets it out slowly. The muscles around Dean’s finger gradually unclench and he wiggles the digit around, sinking in to the first knuckle.

“That’s it,” Dean kisses Cas’s stomach, nipping at his belly button. “Nice and easy.”

Cas breathes unsteadily as he tries to keep his body loose, and Dean sinks his finger in until it’s as deep as it can go. Cas shudders and arches, already wanting more, and Dean is more than happy to oblige. He smiles and slips in the second finger, biting back a groan as the passage flutters around his fingers. He crooks the fingers upward and Cas inhales sharply, arching off the bed and pushing down against Dean’s hand. His cock jumps against his stomach, the head red and leaking.

“Ohh, you’re gonna love this, baby,” Dean croons, rubbing the pad of his finger gently against Cas’s prostate and watching him writhe beneath him. Cas opens his eyes and looks up at him desperately, sweat beginning to bead across his forehead and chest. “‘M not even gonna have to touch you, at this rate. You’re gonna come just on my cock, and it’s gonna be so fuckin’ beautiful.”

Dean straightens on his knees so he can look down at Cas, letting his free hand rest gently on his knee. Cas focuses on breathing, his mouth hanging open, eyes lidded but watching Dean intently, encouraging more. Dean adds a third finger and relishes in the way Cas clenches deliciously around them. He squirts a little extra lube on his fingers, just to be sure that Cas is comfortable. Cas reaches down and strokes himself lazily, and if Dean was actually fucking him in that moment, he’s sure the sight would’ve had him coming. As it is, his own cock twitches violently and he moans, reaching out to take Cas’s hand and moving it from his cock.

“No no, baby, not yet,” he chides gently, and Cas huffs impatiently and pushes down again on his fingers.

Dean chuckles a bit breathlessly and twists his fingers, earning another broken gasp from the beautiful man beneath him. “Mm, you love it, don’t you,” he murmurs, curling his fingers as he gently stretches Cas open. Cas nods eagerly, exhaling roughly as he rolls his hips. Dean smiles and scissors his fingers, gritting his teeth as Cas arches again and his cock smacks his belly. “Fucking gorgeous, angel.”

Dean withdraws his fingers slowly, loving the way Cas clenches around him, and grabs the lube again. He lathers up his cock generously, the whole shaft glistening, and grabs the base. He steadies his breathing and swallows, nudging the head against Cas’s puckered entrance.

“It’s gonna be uncomfortable,” Dean warns quietly. “At first. But I promise I’ll make you feel good, baby.”

Cas takes a deep breath, tensing involuntarily, and Dean runs his free hand soothingly down his thigh and up his stomach, silently urging him to relax.

“Breathe out slowly, and focus on me,” Dean says. Cas nods and lets out his breath,  and Dean pushes forward, the head of his cock sliding slowly past his rim. Cas clenches as he inhales sharply, squeezing his eyes shut and reaching toward Dean, his mouth hanging open slightly, forehead creased with a frown. Dean takes his hand and squeezes, stilling his hips.

“Hey, hey now… come back to me, sweetheart. Right here. Eyes on me.”

Cas finally opens his eyes, looking desperately at Dean, squeezing his hand hard. He nods quickly and takes another deep breath, letting it out slowly, shifting marginally, causing Dean’s cock to pull at his rim. Dean grunts, his neck muscles twitching as he reins in the need to pound into the heat hugging his swollen head. He does an excellent job keeping Cas’s thoughts muffled as he pushes in further, distracting him from the discomfort of his walls stretching to accommodate that girth for the first time. With his lips busy, Dean uses a hand to tease down Cas’s chest and tweak a dark nipple, then further down to wrap loosely around Cas’s waning cock. He pumps and squeezes the head, getting it nice and thick again, all the while pushing inside at a snail’s pace. It’s torture, all that tight heat clenching around him, but it’s sheer willpower that finally gets Dean fully sheathed with his balls pressing snugly against the curve of Cas’s ass. To distract them both, he slowly lowers himself until they’re chest to chest, careful to keep his hips still.

“C’mere,” he sighs, finding Cas’s lips and kissing him hard. At first Cas doesn’t respond, but the gentle coaxing of Dean’s tongue gets him to open up. Once that wet muscle slides against his own, Cas sighs and lets himself float. Dean kisses with passion and just like with everything else he does, he pours all of himself into it.

Cas turns his head and pants heavily into Dean's neck, his arms wrapped around and nails biting into his back. Dean's lips find his pulse point and he sucks gently, then trails kisses down the crook of his neck and across his shoulder. Cas breathes shakily, bordering on panicky, and Dean slides his hand back up to cup his neck, stroking his jaw as he presses their foreheads together.

“You're doing great, Cas,” he praises, and Cas tilts his head back to kiss him, panting softly against his lips. His hands eventually relax against his back and he pushes down against Dean experimentally, gasping sharply, a hand coming to rest on the back of Dean's neck, fingers tangled in his hair. Dean just barely pulls out before thrusting back in, and Cas’s fingers flex encouragingly in his hair.

“Jesus, look at you,” Dean marvels, then captures Cas's lips in a passionate kiss as he sets a painfully slow pace. Lips bruising, tongues tangling, nail biting into Dean’s scalp, all while he drags his cock in and out. Cas is tight , gripping his cock deliciously, making it very difficult to keep up the slow pace. Dean moans when Cas hooks a leg around his waist, angling Dean in deeper.

“Fuck,” Dean gasps, releasing their kiss with a wet pop , and he stops himself from sinking back inside with a quick, smooth motion. Cas chokes and arches, grinding down and clenching around Dean so tightly he has to pull out and grab the back of his cock to keep from coming.

“Fuck, baby,” Dean growls, reaching down to grip Cas’s hip. Cas looks up at him desperately, smoldering, those eyes blown so wide Dean can hardly see any of that pretty blue. His dick is throbbing, twitching against Cas’s hole, begging to get back in. Dean licks his lips and thrusts, burying himself in one go, getting his cock good and deep. Cas throws his head back in a silent moan, his hips snapping up, and Dean knows it’s time to move.

He pushes himself up, bracing hands on either side of Cas's head, then pulls out and snaps his hips forward, causing Cas to arch against him. He sets a quick pace, sweat beading on his own forehead, torn between wanting to immerse himself in everything Cas or think about something else to hold back his impending orgasm. Cas reaches between them to stroke himself, and Dean practically loses his mind, throwing his weight behind each thrust, his hips slapping against Cas's backside. The headboard bangs loudly against the wall and Cas lays a hand on Dean's lower back, pulling him deep every time he thrusts inside.

Fuck, I'm gonna come, baby,” Dean moans, but before his brain can even send the proper signals to his aching cock, Cas gasps and arches off the bed below him, his own cock spilling between them as he shakes uncontrollably, eyes squeezed shut and mouth hanging open.

The clenching of his hole has Dean following him seconds later, Cas’s name a loud moan as he buries himself deep and spills thick seed inside. Dean shudders and surges forward, capturing that open mouth in a sloppy kiss, all hunger and lust as he rides out his orgasm.

Dean’s arms shake to keep him up, his whole body trembling from the aftershock. They both gasp when they break apart, chests heaving as they catch their breath. Dean pulls out slowly and finally lloses his strength, collapsing, managing to barely miss Cas and plop down at his side. He throws an arm over his eyes and groans, every part of him humming with pleasure.

“Beautiful,” he sighs, turning to lay a kiss on Cas’s cheek. “You’re so beautiful. So damn perfect, baby. You did so good for me.”

Cas lets out a heavy breath, his chest heaving. He turns his head to look over at Dean and smiles, the easy, gummy smile that Dean loves, his face now relaxed with soft features. He looks tired, even more so than normal, but entirely blissed out and...just genuinely happy.

Dean slides his hand up to Cas’s neck and strokes his cheek with his thumb, and Cas licks his lips and swallows, his eyes sliding shut as he revels in the touch.

“You feel okay?” Dean asks, and Cas smiles again and nods. Dean huffs a laugh. “Well, good. Cause that was- I mean, I definitely want to be able to do that again.”

Cas laughs silently and takes Dean’s hand, turning his head again to press a kiss to his palm. He releases another slow breath and looks down at the mess on his stomach, making a face.

“Yeah, you made a bit of a mess of yourself,” Dean smiles and sits up with a small grunt. “Sit tight, baby. I’ll clean you up.” He shuffles off the bed and stretches as he walks leisurely to the bathroom, feeling Cas’s eyes on his ass every step of the way. He runs warm water over a washcloth and slides back into bed, settling beside Cas. He takes his time getting Cas clean, gently wiping away the mess on his stomach as well as the mess Dean left between his legs.

“We almost need another shower,” Dean mutters as he tosses the washcloth in the hamper. “But then we won’t smell like each other, so that’s no good.” He smirks and lays back down, pulling Cas into his arms and nuzzling his hair.

Cas cups Dean's face and runs the pad of his thumb along the stubble on his cheek. He smiles softly, eyelids heavy, the ever-present bags under his eyes a little less dark than they'd been when he showed up again weeks earlier. He pulls his bottom lip between his teeth and stills his hand briefly, then taps three times with his index finger.

Dean lays his hand over Cas's and pulls it to his lips, kissing it gently. “Cas, I…” he takes a breath and sighs. “I’ve been wanting to say something to you, but I’ve been afraid that it might scare you off. Even though I think you already know what it is.”

Cas looks at him patiently, his finger tracing Dean’s jaw, smiling a little smile that has Dean’s heart skipping. Dean dips his head, their foreheads bumping together. “Cas, I love you. I’m sorry if that scares you, but I can’t pretend I don’t anymore.”

Cas’s smile widens and his hand slides to the back of Dean’s head, pulling him in for a kiss. It’s languid but purposeful, and when he pulls away his eyes are closed, but he’s still smiling softly. When he finally opens them again he meets Dean’s gaze and lays his hand on his cheek again, tapping three more times with a finger.

Dean sucks in a breath. “You...too?”

Cas nods and gives him a gummy smile, and Dean smiles back, but he doesn’t know what to say. Cas frowns after a moment and pulls back, laying his hands over his own chest and moving them forward, away from his chest, then back again.

Breathe.

Dean huffs a laugh and takes a deliberate, exaggerated breath, and Cas grins widely again. Dean rolls and pins Cas beneath him, bodies slotting together perfectly as always. He kisses the breath out of him, hands in all that wild hair.

“I love you,” he says again as they pull apart, both slightly panting. “Fuck, I love you. I love saying it, too. So get ready to hear it every five seconds.”

Cas just smiles and traces his jaw on either side, blinking up at him. He pulls him back down for another kiss, which Dean happily obliges, only pulling away when they had to catch their breaths.

“How long?” Dean asks finally, brushing some of Cas’s wild hair off his forehead. “How long have you known?” He props himself up with a hand on either side of Cas’s body to give him room to sign.

“Since I left,” Cas signs, smiling sadly. “Being away from you made me realize. Couldn’t stop thinking about you. Dreamed of you every night. Wanted you with me.” He pauses and bites his lip. “Never met anyone I enjoyed more than my solitude.”

Dean grins widely and kisses him again, their lips sure to be bruised by tomorrow morning. “I missed you so much, Cas,” he sighs, pulling away and resting his head on Cas’s chest. “Couldn’t stand the thought of never seeing you again. I never stopped thinking about you, even when I tried. There were...some nights I got so drunk I couldn’t see straight, but I still couldn’t get you off my mind.” Dean snorts and shrugs. “I know that’s not healthy, but...it’s the truth. I knew I loved you and that it was never going away.”

“Your defense mechanisms are worrisome,” Cas signs seriously. “You shouldn’t have based your well-being on me, I-”

Dean pushes his hands down and kisses him breathless again, tongues mingling, Cas’s eyes closed again when he pulls away. He opens them slowly and licks his lips, reaching out to touch Dean’s face before signing:

“But I do, I love you. Hopelessly.”

Dean lets out a breath. “You have no idea how incredible it is to know that.”

“I actually had expected you to move on,” Cas signs. “I knew it was unfair of me to come back here, after I left. But I had to see you, even if it was the last time. I had to at least tell you I was sorry.”

“No need, Cas.” Dean shakes his head. “I get it, I really do. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. You scared the shit out of me. I laid here at night half the time wondering if you were dead. And I...I couldn’t bear that thought, so I drank. Was the only thing I could do to try to get my mind off you, and usually even that didn’t work. Benny, uh...he spent a lot of nights here, making sure I didn’t die in my sleep choking on my own puke or somethin’.”

Cas winces and looks away, eyes shining.

“Hey, no, don’t cry, okay?” Dean grabs his chin, pulling his gaze back to him and reaching up to wipe a tear from the corner of Cas’s eye. “Didn’t say it to upset you. I just… I want you to know, that’s how much you meant to me then. And it’s so much more than that now.”

Cas is quiet for a moment, smiling sadly, tapping his fingers together anxiously.

“I want you to know that coming back here, back to you,” Cas signs slowly, making sure Dean doesn’t miss a word of it, “it felt like coming home. Wherever you are, that’s where I belong. I know that now.” He taps Dean’s cheek again three times and smiles. “I may be adventurous, but my life wasn’t nearly as terrifying, daring, and exciting as it is with you in it.”

Dean clears his throat and presses his face into Cas’s chest to hide his blush. “You already got me in bed, Cas,” he mumbles, “Don’t gotta lay on the sweet talk like that.”

Cas huffs and lifts Dean’s head before pulling away to sign. “No sweet talk. Just the truth.”

Dean swallows, unsure on how to respond to something like that. He’s never felt like he means that much to anybody. Sure, Bobby and Sam love him, but it’s a family thing. Cas is so intense ; everything about being with him, just near him, pulls at something in Dean that he can’t fight even if he wanted to. Which he doesn’t. He’s more than ready to submit to whatever force is tethering them.

Cas taps him to draw him back to the present, brow furrowed in concern.

“Are you okay?” he signs, and Dean takes his hand and kisses it.

“Yeah,” he says, his voice a little strained, and he clears his throat. “Yeah, Cas. I’m good. Great, actually.”

Cas smiles. “What are you thinking about?” he signs, and Dean’s eyes search his face for a long moment, and he considers pouring his heart out to him, but nothing he could say would come anywhere close to how he actually feels.

“I’m thinking…” he starts, a slow smile spreading across his face, “I wouldn’t be opposed to having your dick inside me for the second time today, if you-”

He doesn’t get the chance to finish before Cas has him on his back, lips crushed together and fingers entwined over their heads.

Chapter Text

It’s a good thing Dean doesn’t have to open the diner the following day. Cas had kept him busy most of the night, his newly awakened libido seeming to have no limits. Dean is starting to discover that Cas is a quick learner not only in everyday life, but in the bedroom too. And, just as he likes to explore the world, he likes to explore Dean’s body as well. Which Dean has no problem with. Cas has found buttons Dean didn’t even know he had and he exploits them shamelessly.

Dean doesn’t wake from his orgasm-induced coma until after 10 a.m.,  leaving him only two hours until he has to be at the diner. He glances over at Cas and isn’t surprised at all to see the guy completely zonked out, his hair tugged in every direction thanks to Dean and his mouth hanging open as he snores softly.

Dean doesn’t bother to wake him. He’d given Cas the day off so he could get some photography done, and just to generally have a day to himself. Dean quietly crawls out of bed and pulls on a pair of sweats before shuffling off into the kitchen. He puts on a pot of coffee, nibbles on some toast, then spends a few minutes in the bathroom making himself presentable.

He pauses after he’s done brushing his teeth and glances down at his neat row of colorful bottles. He hasn’t used the stuff since Cas left and is feeling the itch to paint himself again. Like a ‘work of art’, as Cas had called him. Dean chews on his lip then grabs the purple, making quick work of it before carefully applying the eyeliner. Lastly, he puts on all his rings, and for the first time in a while he truly feels like himself again.

He dresses himself in a yellow tshirt that reads “No one knows I'm a lesbian” and tugs on the kilt and his black boots, already thinking about how pleased Cas will be when he sees him in it later that night, which makes wearing the outfit in the dead of winter worth it. He quietly makes his way back to the bed and leans over to kiss Cas softly on his forehead, smirking when Cas responds by furrowing his brow and furiously rubbing his face, then turning over, pulling the covers up to his neck.

Dean takes his time on the drive to the diner, considering the events of the last couple of weeks and hell, even the last 24 hours. Cas- unpredictable, enigmatic, at times flighty Cas- had said he was home to him. Had said he wasn't leaving, and God help him, Dean believes him.

He'd said he loves him.

And fuck, how many times has he heard that in his lifetime? And surely never from someone who wasn't basically required to. Expected to.

But Cas himself is unexpected. Dean doesn't know the hows or whys of his angel, and honestly, he finds he doesn't really care. Even if it does scare him, just a little. Cas holds his heart and Dean hadn’t realized how fragile it was until very recently.

Dean pulls into the snow-covered dirt patch he calls the diner parking lot, shuts off the engine, and trudges through the white stuff quickly. He’s probably crazy for wearing a kilt in December, but he hardly ever gets sick and most of his time is spent over a hot stove anyway.

“Oh-em-gee, he’s back !”

A ball of red is suddenly crashing into him and Dean throws his arms out to catch himself on a nearby table. “Charlie, what the fu-”

“You’re back!” She squeals excitedly.

“I was gone for a day .”

“No, no, no,” she sighs, pulling away to look up at him. “ You are back. The hair, the eyeliner- I missed looking at all your craziness. And- is that the kilt?”

Dean half bows. “The one and only.”

“I haven’t seen that thing in years . I’m a little surprised it still fits.”

Dean pulls a face and frowns. “Hey, I haven’t put on that much weight.”

Charlie giggles and pats his soft belly. “No, but you do love those pies.  Not exactly abs of steel anymore.”

Dean huffs and pries himself out of her arms. “I didn’t come here to be body shamed, missy.”

“No body shaming here,” Charlie grins and follows him into the kitchen where Benny is preparing the soup of the day. “If I were straight, I’d be all over you.”

“Yeah, well, I’m taken,” Dean says proudly.

“And every woman in South Dakota sheds a little tear,” Benny says teasingly. “And man, for that matter.”

“Damn right,” Dean grunts, slipping his apron over his head and tying it around his waist.

“Speaking of,” Charlie says in a singsong voice, grinning and resting her elbows on the island, her chin in her hands. “How’s that going? Don’t leave anything out. Been goin’ through a bit of a dry spell myself so I need alllll the sexy details.”

“Yeah, well,” Dean pulls on a pair of gloves and lets one snap against his wrist, “I don’t kiss and tell.”

“Since when?” Benny snorts.

“Since Cas,” Dean says, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning against the prep table. “You vultures’ll have to get your kicks somewhere else.”

Charlie groans and drops her arms against the island, pushing herself up and flipping her hair over her shoulder. “Where is that little sex kitten anyway? He’s almost enough to turn me straight with those big blue eyes and that fucked-out hair-”

“Whoa, hey,” Dean waves his hands around. “That’s my ‘sex kitten’ you’re mind fucking over there. Those eyes and hair are mine .”

“Ohhh, someone’s possessive,” Charlie smirks, resting her chin on her hand. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you jealous before.”

“Not jealous,” Dean rolls his eyes. “I just don’t like to share him. That includes any fantasies your sick mind tries to cook up.”

“I’m gay , Dean.”

“Yeah, well, he’s hot enough to turn anybody.”

“Yeah, and why he chose you, I’ll never know,” Benny snorts, throwing his apron off. “I’m gonna take a break, chief. Think you can handle it?”

Dean glances at the empty tables and snorts. “Yeah, I think I can make it.”

“So, really,” Charlie raises a brow as Benny walks by her. “Where’s your boy toy at?”

“Day off,” Dean shrugs. “Try to schedule him some extra time off so he can go and do...whatever it is he does.”

“That's… actually really thoughtful, Dean,” Charlie says sincerely. “Not that you aren't thoughtful, it's just...I don't know. It's difficult sometimes, understanding people who just... need space like that. He must be really special.”

“He is,” Dean says, then shrugs. “And I don't want him going anywhere, so… whatever it takes.”

Charlie watches him curiously and raises her eyebrows slowly, standing up straight. “Wait a minute. Something's different.”

Dean huffs. “Charlie, I already told you I'm not talking to you about our sex life-"

“Mmm, no,” Charlie clicks her tongue, shaking her head. “Not that.” She crosses her arms over her chest, taking a few steps toward him, looking him up and down. “He comes back and you’re suddenly you again, and now you’re talking about giving him his space and whatever it takes -”

“Yeah. So?”

She comes to a stop in front of him, scuffing a shoe against the floor. She tilts her head. “You’ve... fallen for him, haven’t you?”

Dean scoffs and waves her off. “Charlie-”

“Holy shit!” Charlie laughs, holding a hand over her mouth. “Wow. I never thought I’d live to see the day. Dean in love-

“What, was I that hopeless?”

“No,” Charlie smiles. “You were just that slutty.”

Dean clicks his tongue and turns to start wiping off the counters, anything to keep his hands busy.

“So you are, right?”

“What?” Dean grunts.

“In love with him?”

“Charlie,” he sighs. “I don’t wanna make this a big deal. My slutty past behavior is kind of a...sore topic for us. And I don’t want him to be reminded of it. Yes, I love him and he loves me, and that’s that. Don’t need a damn parade or anyone sayin’ what a miracle it is that I’ve finally settled down.”

“What, he doesn’t like that you slept around?” Charlie frowns. “Dean-”

“It’s not like that,” Dean rubs a hand over his face. “He just...doesn’t like how I, uh, treated myself back then. Got nothin’ to do with the sleepin’ around part. Just the why of it.”

Charlie sighs and presses her lips together, taking the rag out of Dean’s hands and tossing it into the sink, then wrapping her arms around his waist. He hugs her back, resting his chin on the top of her head.

“What’s this for?”

He feels her shrug, then she pulls away. “I’m happy for you, Dean. I think...I think this is good for you. Cas seems like a really sweet guy, and if I’m being honest, this is the happiest- and healthiest - that I think I’ve ever seen you.”

Dean smirks and turns away to keep from blushing, looking out the window into the empty dining room. Once January hit business would pick back up, but until then he’ll be lucky to make enough to pay the damn rent. Normally this is the time of year he’s up to his ears in stress, constantly worrying how the next bill is going to get paid. With Cas around, though, Dean hardly gives it any thought. Cas is the ultimate de-stresser.

“This is probably the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been ,” Dean says. “I dunno. Something about him makes everything so...easy. Being with him is easy. We don’t have to try. Even the sex is just... fun . Amazing, of course, but relaxed. Comfortable. Like we’ve been together for years.”

“Isn’t sex always fun?” Charlie smirks.

“Not like this,” Dean shakes his head and leans against the counter. “With the others, you know, it’s like I was tryin’ to put on a show. I was performing. Felt good, but it wasn’t… fun. With Cas, it’s...hell, sometimes we even laugh. We’re just with each other. No flexing, no games.”

“You are so smitten,” Charlie giggles. “It’s disgusting, honestly.”

Dean tries to hide his smile, plastering on an exaggerated frown and thrusting a thumb over his shoulder. “Don’t you have work you can be doing?”

Charlie shrugs and looks over his shoulder. “With all our customers?”

“Silverware needs rolling.”

“Already done.”

Dean narrows his eyes. “Caddies? Ketchups?”

“Done and done.”

“Count down the drawer?”

Charlie pauses then rolls her eyes. “Why are you so against talking to me about your romantic endeavors? We used to talk about everything. I’ll even tell you all about my night with Dorothy…”

Dean opens his mouth then pauses, looking up and tilting his head back and forth as he considers the very enticing offer, then finally shakes his head firmly. “No. He’s special. He’s different. Not someone to be bragged about. I’m keepin’ him all to myself. Sorry.”

Charlie sighs heavily. “That’s fair, I guess.”

The shopkeeper’s bell jangles and they both turn to look. Missouri waves at them from the other side of the window and they both wave back. Dean ushers Charlie off, but she’s already gone, appearing on the other side of the window a moment later and leaning over the bar to talk to Missouri.

“How’s the family, Missouri?” Dean asks, leaning out the window.

“‘Bout the same.” She barks a laugh. “Except my granddaughter is a little taller and my son a little meaner.”

“Don’t like that son of yours,” Dean shakes his head. “He don’t treat his mama right.”

“Well, sugar, it’s a good thing I got you then,” she smiles at him, eyes flickering to the colorful hair. “You’re the white baby I never wanted.”

Dean laughs and turns back to the stove, not needing a ticket to know what she’s going to order. Missouri has been getting the same thing everyday since the diner opened. In fact, on the menu Dean just calls it ‘The Missouri’.

“What kind of pie do we have today?”

“Peach or blueberry,” Dean yells back.

“Good. I want both.”

Dean smirks as he readies her hamburger patty, faintly hearing her and Charlie’s whispering, no doubt talking about him. Those two are worse than gossip magazines.

When he hands Charlie a perfectly cooked hamburger, Missouri looks up from her newspaper. “Where’s my shy baby? You leave him out in the cold, boy?”

Dean rolls his eyes as Charlie sets the plate down on the bar. “First of all, my shy baby. Second of all, he’s got the day off because I’m the bestest boyfriend.”

“He better have a good jacket on.”

Dean chuckles. “I got him a nice one, Missouri. He’s fine. Just needs a day to himself is all.”

“Mmmhmmm,” Missouri hums as she takes a bite of her burger. “Well. My baby girl is about to graduate high school and I was hoping I could hire him to take some pictures of her for me. You think he’d be interested?”

“Surely not for lack of talent, but I don’t think he’s really in a position to turn a job down,” Dean chuckles. “Honestly, I think he’d be thrilled to. He doesn’t typically take a lot of portraits, but he has before. I dunno. I can ask him.”

Missouri waves a hand dismissively. “I’ll just ask him tomorrow. I trust he’ll be back then?”

Dean nods, and Charlie scoffs, holding her hands out by her sides then letting them fall to the bar between them. “Missouri! I’ve been serving you for almost four years now!”

“And you know I love you, baby,” Missouri assures her, tapping her on the hand. Charlie huffs and snatches her cup from the bar, turning to refill her Pepsi with a scowl. Missouri chuckles and looks back up at Dean. “Anyway, he won’t even have to travel or anything. Patience graduates in May, but she’s flying up in April to spend Spring Break here with me, so we can just do it then.”

Dean looks down at his own burger on the grill and flips it, tilting his head to the side and smiling slightly. “Sounds good to me.”

The next several hours crawl by as it gradually grows dark outside. Missouri leaves shortly after she finishes eating, taking her extra piece of pie home with her. Dean sends Charlie home early, as there’s no reason to keep her when the place is basically empty. By the time it’s a quarter ‘til closing, it’s just Dean. Benny had offered to stay and help, but Dean waved him off and told him to enjoy his night. The truth is, he can’t afford to keep paying both of them for a full day shift when there’s no one here to cook for.

Dean is soaking the tea urns when the bell jingles. He looks up and smiles as Cas walks through the door, brushing snow off his jacket. He looks ridiculously adorable with windblown hair and red nose to match his cheeks.

“Hey, baby,” Dean steps out from the kitchen and pulls Cas in for a kiss. “Damn, you’re cold. Please don’t tell me you’ve been out in it all day.”

Cas smiles and raises shaking hands to sign: “Would it make you feel better if I told you no?”

“Not really.” Dean grins and cups the back of his head, pressing a kiss to his forehead. “Well, then. At least tell me the photos were worth it. Where’d you go?”

Cas’s grin widens and pulls out his camera, taking Dean by the hand and pulling him over to the bar. He turns on the camera and starts cycling through bright white pictures, then turns to show Dean a few.

“Palisades again, huh?” Dean wraps his arm around Cas’s waist and rests his chin on his shoulder, watching as he cycles through the photos. “Hey, wait, is that-?”

Cas nods and looks up at him. He sits the camera down and Dean lets go of him to allow him to turn and sign. “I kept in contact with Sarah through email, after sending her the first photo of Delaney. I wanted to practice with poses and lighting for photo shoots with people, since it’s so different than landscapes, so I asked if she’d be willing to meet me in the park.” He angles the camera up again and cycles through a few more, then points to one of Delaney looking directly into the camera, maybe a few feet away, grinning widely with an arm cocked back, ready to throw the massive snowball in her gloved hand.

“We had a snowball fight,” Cas signs. “She won.”

Dean chuckles and shakes his head. “That won’t do, Cas. I’ll have to teach you a thing or two. I happen to be a master strategist when it comes to snowball fighting.”

Cas grins and looks back down, chewing his lip as he looks through some more of his photos.

“Funny you should do this today, anyway,” Dean begins, and Cas looks back up at him, sniffling softly. “I was just talkin’ to Missouri earlier, and she wants to ask you to take some senior pictures of her granddaughter. Ya know, if you’re interested.”

Cas grins and nods. “Yes,” he signs. “I’d love to.”

Dean smiles back and hooks an arm over his shoulder, pulling him in for a kiss. “Awesome. She’s coming down for Spring Break in April, so Missouri says we can do it then.”

Cas nods. “I’ll be here,” he signs then looks back down at his camera, flipping through pictures of snow and ice. Dean chews on his lip, knowing what that ‘I’ll be here’ indicates. He wants to ask when Cas plans on picking up and leaving again, but is too afraid to. As stupid as it is, he wants to go on pretending that things will stay the same. That Cas isn’t leaving. He knows Cas will come back, but he also knows the time in between will be lonely.

It’s almost like Cas can feel the shift in Dean’s mood, the unsaid anxiety, because he looks up and frowns, sitting down his camera and tapping the hand draped around his shoulders. Dean tears his eyes away from a random imperfection in the wood of the bar and raises his eyebrows at Cas, giving him a faint hum.

Cas turns in his seat and lays his left hand on Dean’s cheek, holding up his right, middle and ring fingers down and the other three sticking up.

I love you.

Dean huffs a laugh, making his best attempt to look unbothered. He takes Cas’s face in his hands, leans forward and kisses him gently on the lips.

“I love you too, angel. C’mon. Let’s go home.”

----

When Dean is ushering Cas into the house, he feels a tug on his kilt and smiles. “Wore that for you,” he chuckles, shutting the door behind them. He grunts when he’s suddenly pushed up against the wall by the door, a thigh between his legs and a hungry mouth on his own. Dean groans and cups the side of Cas’s face, readily opening his mouth to let Cas in.

“I thought you might like that,” Dean huffs a laugh as they pull apart, licking his lips. Cas trails a hand down his hip, slipping his fingers up and under the kilt where he quickly discovers Dean is completely bare underneath. Cas’s eyes flutter in a silent moan and he sighs, pressing closer to Dean. His hand snakes around behind, pulling gently at Dean’s ass cheek as he presses their foreheads together.

“You want me, baby?” Dean asks softly, tilting Cas’s chin up and stroking his cheek until Cas finally opens up his eyes to look at him and nods sincerely. Cas swallows hard and takes Dean’s hand, sliding them both down his chest and pushing Dean’s palm against his hard cock, proving his point. Dean sucks in a breath and tries to cover it with a cocky smirk.

“Oh, yeah?” he continues, not sounding quite as confident as before. He clears his throat and lowers his voice, hoping that will disguise its unsteadiness. “Well, I think I’m in the mood for a good hard fucking, if you think you can provide.”

Cas’s eyes darken and he bites his lip, his gaze somehow hard and unsure at the same time. His grip on Dean’s ass tightens, nails biting into the meat, and his cock twitches against Dean’s palm.

“Mmm, you like that idea, don’t you, angel?” Dean chuckles, but his own cock jerks excitedly at the thought. He groans again as soon as the image accompanying the next words out of his mouth pops into his head, ruffling the kilt with his free hand. “Bet you’d just love to ruck this old thing up and bend me over that table and fuck me ‘til my legs give out, wouldn’t you?”

Cas’s eyes flutter closed again and he lets out a heavy breath, nostrils flaring as he tries to compose himself. He finally opens his eyes again, the pupils fully blown now, and nods, his jaw set.

Dean leans in, their lips brushing as he speaks. “ God, I want you to.”

Cas’s hand pulls, spreading Dean’s asscheeks apart, and a finger slips inside the crack to trace the rim down below. Dean jerks and moans again, his cock twitching underneath the kilt. Sometimes Cas takes him by surprise; shy one second and bold the next. Dean loves it, though, and likes to think he has something to do with Cas’s brief bouts of confidence.

“C’mon, baby,” he murmurs, tugging at Cas’s bottom lip with his teeth. “Show me how good you can fuck me.”

Cas shudders and pushes Dean towards the kitchen, their eyes never wavering, electricity in the air as they find their way in the dark. Dean grunts when he hits the table and moves easily when Cas turns him around. Cas seems to hesitate a moment before pushing him down onto the table, Dean bent in half and his cheek squished against the cool surface.

“Mmm, yeah, I like this,” Dean smirks and wiggles his hips, sliding his ass against the bulge in Cas’s pants. “Fuck, you’re so hard already. I want you inside, Cas.”

He hears Cas huff behind him and the warmth of his body disappears suddenly. Dean turns his head to look toward the bedroom, seeing the light flip on and Cas walk quickly through the door. He returns a moment later with the bottle of lube in his hand and Dean smiles and lifts his head off the table, reaching up to grip the edge and thrust his ass back when Cas presses against him again.

Jesus, get inside me already, Cas. Don’t wanna wait-”

Cas huffs again and pushes his head down against the table, and Dean groans and pushes back against him. Dean hears the cap of the lube pop open as Cas’s free hand pushes the kilt up his backside and lets it bunch around Dean’s waist. Dean inhales sharply when Cas presses a cold, slick finger between his cheeks, circling his rim.

Dean pushes back, but Cas slaps him lightly on the ass for his impatience, causing Dean to jump with a small yelp.

“Did-did you just spank me?”

Cas answers with another slap on the other cheek and Dean’s whole body clenches, including his hole that Cas currently has his finger in. Dean bites his lip and squirms, his cock aching between his legs. Cas crooks his finger and Dean groans, his thighs trembling from the effort to keep still.

“Cas, will you just- yes ,” he moans when Cas adds a second finger, and third a few minutes later, stretching Dean wide as he pushes them in and out. This time Dean does push back, grinding down and wishing those fingers were something thicker.

Cas makes quick work of preparing him, twisting and pulling his fingers, clearly just as impatient as Dean. He retracts his fingers after a few short minutes, and Dean moans and clenches around nothing when he hears the wet sound of Cas slicking his own cock behind him. He presses the head of his cock against Dean’s hole and slides it up and down, teasing slowly.

“Dammit Cas, just fuck me already!” Dean snaps, then gasps when Cas promptly pushes in, hands roughly gripping Dean’s thighs as he presses snugly against his backside. “ Oh, fuck!”

Cas pants heavily as he lets himself and Dean adjust, then he slowly pulls out and pushes back in again, as deep as he can manage. Dean moans loudly against the cool wood and reaches up to grip the edge of the table, clenching around Cas’s girth.

“Damn, that feels good,” Dean pants and pushes back, Cas’s cock twitching inside him as he moves his hips. “C’mon, baby. Fuck me like you mean it.”

Cas digs his fingers into Dean’s hips, nails biting into the skin so hard Dean is sure to have marks later. A hand disappears briefly only to grip the back of Dean’s head, holding him down against the table. Cas slides out then snaps his hips to bury himself again, hard and fast, the table scraping across the floor. Dean chokes on a moan and arches back, pleading for more.

Cas really sets into him now, one hand gripping the base of Dean’s neck and shoving his face hard against the table, the other hand holding tightly to his hip as he thrusts roughly, his thighs slapping against Dean’s backside. His breath comes in loud huffs and Dean closes his eyes and flexes his fingers along the edge of the table, taking everything Cas will give him. It isn’t long before Cas’s thrusts begin to become a little more erratic, and he grabs a fistful of Dean’s hair during a particularly hard thrust that causes Dean to arch up off the table.

Dean has no idea where this is coming from but he has no complaints, Cas’s assault toeing the line between pleasure and pain and if Dean’s being honest with himself, it’s fucking perfect.

“Gonna fucking wreck me, big boy?” Dean teases, earning himself another smack on his ass, and he smirks as Cas pushes his head down against the table again. He can feel Cas flexing his fingers against his neck and his pace wavering, and judging by that and the sound of his panting, Dean can tell that he’s close. Not that Dean’s far behind, his cock hanging hard between his legs and occasionally scraping somewhat painfully against the edge of the table.

His arms are starting to cramp, his thighs burning, his increasingly sensitive hole clenching with each hard thrust. The table scrapes across the floor with every rough snap of Cas’s hips and Dean’s cheek is starting to feel raw from rubbing against the wood. It’s all so damn good and out of nowhere and Dean doesn’t want it to end. It’s a shock when he realizes he’s seconds from coming and he hasn’t even touched himself, his cock hanging neglected and throbbing.

“Oh God, Cas ,” he moans, hands clenching so hard on the edge of the table his knuckles turn white and the wood digs into his skin. “Fuck, right there, yes-oh shit , I’m gonna come-”

It hits him so hard Dean swears he blacks out for a second. He cries out and his cock jerks, streams of cum spilling onto the floor as he clenches around Cas’s girth. He clings to the table, Cas thrusting wildly now, skin slapping against skin.

Cas stills with a strained breath while Dean clenches around him, and Dean can feel the warmth filling him as Cas grips his hips lazily. He collapses bonelessly against Dean’s back and mouths at the back of his neck, and Dean chuckles.

“Alright, get offa me,” he grunts, and he can feel Cas’s smile against his skin just before he stands, pulling out gently. Dean hisses softly and stands too, letting the kilt fall back down to its rightful place as he stretches his legs one at a time. He turns his torso from side to side, his spine cracking.

Cas tucks himself back into his own pants and scrubs a hand down his face. The minimal light coming from the bedroom reflects off of the sweat beaded across his forehead, and Dean huffs and raises the hem of his shirt to gently wipe it off.

“Jesus, Cas,” Dean smirks, “where the fuck did that come from?!”

Cas blushes, which is so ridiculous considering the guy had him pinned to the table just moments before. Dean laughs and pats Cas on the cheek. “There’s my shy baby. You’re something else, Cas.”

Cas smiles shyly and frowns, gesturing at Dean a bit awkwardly. “Are you...okay?” he signs worriedly. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

Dean laughs and shakes his head. “Baby, that was...that was fucking perfect. I dunno where it came from, but I think we definitely need to do it again.”

Cas smiles and scrubs a hand nervously down his face again. Dean steps forward and envelops him in a hug, pressing a kiss to his neck, then his cheek, then pulling back and pressing their lips together.

“Hey,” he says when he pulls away, pushing some wild hair off Cas’s forehead, “I was just thinkin’...might be a good time for us to use that vacation Gabriel got us. You know, if you felt up to it. I could go for a week or two of sun and sand with you, somewhere far away from here.”

Cas smiles widely and lays a hand against Dean’s cheek, but the smile slowly morphs into a confused frown.

“But what about the diner?” he signs.

Dean shrugs. “It’s usually not too busy in January anyway, people still recoverin’ from the holidays and all that. Benny and Charlie can handle it.”

“For two weeks?” Cas signs anxiously.

Dean shrugs, unconcerned. “Yeah, they’ve done it before. Well, not for two weeks, but it’s not a big deal. There’s always some high schoolers looking to make some extra money after the holidays. I’ll hire some temporary help and it’ll be fine.”

Cas still doesn’t look totally convinced, his hands twitching nervously. Dean smiles and takes them into his own, squeezing gently. “Hey, you let me worry about the diner, okay? I just want you to worry about what kind of speedo you’re gonna wear for me.”

Cas grimaces and blushes furiously, shaking his head quickly. Dean laughs and kisses his red cheek. “Fine, fine. No speedo. You’ll just have to be naked the whole time.”

Cas grins and shakes his head again, then stops abruptly, getting a faraway look in his eye. He furrows his brow and looks around, spotting where he tossed his camera on the sofa at some point during their stumbling to the kitchen table. He chews his lip thoughtfully and walks trancelike over to the sofa without so much as another acknowledgement to Dean, and Dean scoffs after him.

“Oh, no...I know that look,” Dean says warily, crossing his arms over his chest as Cas plops down on the couch with the camera, turning it on and skimming through his settings. “You go ahead and put whatever kinky ideas you got out of your head regarding me and that camera.”

But Cas is already gone, Dean’s very presence just part of the background.

“Hey.” Dean snaps his fingers in front of Cas’s face, but Cas barely blinks. “I mean it, Cas. I’m not doin’ it. There’s nothing you can do that’ll make me.”

Cas smirks and puts the camera on the table, picking up Dean’s laptop instead. He powers it up and logs online, Dean watching him silently the whole time, trying to imagine what artistic fantasies acted themselves out in his head.

Cas pulls up Craigslist and clicks on ‘post to classifieds’, selecting the ‘gig offered’ option on the following page.

“Hey...what are you doing?” Dean asks nervously, an edge to his voice. “Cas-”

Cas begins typing.

 

Amateur photographer seeks nude model for tropical photo shoot.

 

“The fuck he does!” Dean squawks, batting Cas’s hands out of the way and jerking the computer away from him as Cas’s shoulders shake with his silent laughter. He leans to the side and covers his beautifully gleeful smile with a hand, but Dean can still see the scrunched nose, the eye crinkles, and he smiles despite actually being just the tiniest bit nervous that Cas would actually hire someone to pose nude for him.

“You’re not as innocent as you let people think,” Dean mutters, snapping the laptop shut. “You little shit.”

Cas blinks up at him, his lips twitching into another smile as his hand falls away.

“Fine,” Dean says grumpily. “I’ll pose nude for you, only if …” he smirks down at Cas, very much enjoying the look of apprehension on his petty face. “You pose nude for me , too.”

Cas gapes up at him, blush coming back in full force, and starts to shake his head fervently. Dean just shrugs and stretches as he turns, heading to the bedroom as he sheds his shirt.

“Tit for tat, baby,” he says, the kilt coming off next and giving Cas an eyeful. “You want this for your weird, photography fantasy? Then you better strip it down, too.” Dean disappears into the bedroom and Cas scrambles off the couch to follow after him.

“But you’re not even a photographer,” Cas signs irritably. “Your reasoning behind wanting me to pose nude is purely self-indulgent.”

“Aw, Cas, don’t be prudish.” Dean smirks and walks into the bathroom, and Cas follows, leaning against the doorway. Dean adds toothpaste to his toothbrush and points it at Cas. “I think we both know at least part of you is doing this for yourself.” He thrusts the toothbrush into the side of his mouth and starts brushing, watching Cas carefully.

“I need to practice,” Cas argues. “Expand my horizons, build my portfolio. And it’s not weird!” His signing quickens and Dean takes a minute to recap what he’s doing in his head, carefully translating. “People practice nude photography all the time. What’s so bad about wanting to use my skills to take photos of my boyfriend?”

Dean lowers his toothbrush and raises his eyebrows. “Boyfriend, huh?”

Cas blushes. “Well, yeah.” he signs. “I thought that’s what you were.”

Dean stares at him for a moment then turns to spit into the sink. “That is what I am,” he says, turning back to Cas with a smile. “Just...wasn’t sure if that’s what...you wanted.”

Cas tilts his head and steps forward, wiping a bit of toothpaste from the corner of Dean’s mouth with his thumb. He takes Dean’s hand and squeezes three times, and Dean sighs as he pulls him into a hug.

“I love you, too,” he murmurs, still relishing in the fact that he can finally say that out loud. “You’re right. It’s not weird and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to hone your skills. I’d love to pose for you. Knowing you, you’d make it so tasteful it’d barely be considered a nude.” He pulls back and smirks. “Though, I would like to do at least one dirty one. You know. So you can practice.”

Cas grins wickedly, eyes twinkling. “Of course,” he signs. “I think you’ll find I’m very professional.”

Dean chuckles and finishes brushing his teeth, finally spitting and rinsing his mouth then returning the brush to its holder. “I don’t doubt it.”

He turns and smirks a little when Cas’s eyes flit downward and back up. He pretends not to notice his nakedness, since it’s so much more fun to watch Cas squirm...and since Cas had decided he was going to be a little shit tonight, anyway.

Cas swallows and shakes his head slightly, raising his hands to sign and seemingly forgetting his train of thought before finally responding. “So, vacation. Bahamas. When do you want to leave?”

Dean hums and grips Cas’s hips, pulling him closer. “If I had my way we’d leave tomorrow, but...I should at least give Benny and Charlie some time to prepare. And I need to see about getting some temporary help for them. So...maybe a week?”

Cas nods, pointedly looking at Dean’s face. “A week is good,” he signs, biting his lip.

“You know,” Dean nuzzles Cas’s cheek. “Nothin’ stopping you from, ah, practicing your stuff now. Not a tropical paradise here, but we can still do some nude stuff.”

Cas gives him a look, a smile tugging on his lips. “I think you’re just trying to seduce me into a second round.”

“Wouldn’t have to work too hard at it,” Dean snorts, slowly leading Cas backwards towards the bed. “You’re insatiable nowadays.”

“Me?” Cas signs with an incredulous look, and Dean chuckles.

“Okay, so I may be a little guilty, too. But that’s expected. You, though...your sexual prowess was a bit unexpected.”

Cas holds a hand up against Dean’s chest and they both stop, Dean smiling mischievously. Cas tries hard not to smile.

“Weren’t you going to take a shower?” he signs.

“Are you trying to change the subject?”

Cas can’t hold back his smile now, but he reigns it in quickly. “You smell like food.”

Dean scoffs. “That a bad thing?”

Cas crosses his arms over his chest and smiles again, then nudges Dean with his shoulder, back toward the bathroom. Dean moves sluggishly, letting his arms fall dramatically low by his sides. Cas manages to maneuver him back to the bathroom and push him through the door, and Dean turns back toward him, nonchalantly taking his own cock in his hand and stroking it lazily a few times.

“You know...I wouldn’t be opposed to a sponge bath-”

Cas grins like he does when he’s trying not to grin, and shuts the door in his face.

----

“You never take vacation.”

Dean sighs for the hundredth time that morning. “Look, if you can’t do it, we’ll just pick another week-”

“No, no!” Charlie waves her hands around quickly and leans into the window as Dean flips a patty on the grill. “I’m totally happy to do it. Extra money plus you actually taking some time off. You haven’t done that since you opened this place. I’m happy for you. Just...surprised, too.”

“You and me both,” Dean smiles up at her. His hair is blue today and his eyeliner to match, making the green in eyes stand out. “I never thought I could afford it. Never done the whole...vacation thing.”

Charlie giggles excitedly. “You’re gonna love it! Nothing but beach and sunshine and marathon sex with your boy-”

There’s a small clattering from the dining room and they both look up to see Cas, blushing from head to toe, hastily picking up some thankfully empty cups. Charlie winces and clears her throat.

“Sorry, Cas,” she smiles apologetically. “I, uh, thought you were still in the back.”

Dean snorts and shakes his head. “Don’t worry, angel. I never give her any details despite her constantly asking for them.”

“Hey!” Charlie whips her head around to glare at him. “I’m not bad. So sue me if I’m a little curious. Mama ain’t gettin’ any lately and you used to tell me all sorts of-”

Dean gives her a hard look and she snaps her mouth shut, then slinks away to clean some tables and avoid his stare. Cas ambles into the kitchen to dump the now dirty cups into the sink a bit sheepishly. Dean chuckles and leans in to give him a quick peck on the cheek.

“No worries, gorgeous,” he whispers. “Charlie broke three plates her first day here. By the end of the week, I had to buy a whole new set. Why do you think the cups are plastic?”

Cas smiles softly, spraying the cups off and shoving them in the slots of the plastic crate to run them through the dishwasher. He makes a sound that resembles a cough even though it’s not exactly right, and he covers his mouth with his hand. He sniffles and wipes his nose, which Dean is now noticing to be a little red. Dean reaches out and pokes it, and Cas swats his hand away.

“What did I tell you? Outside all day yesterday in the snow, no hat, poor excuse for gloves...it’s no wonder you’re sick.”

Cas waves a hand dismissively and tries to walk away, but Dean pulls him back.

“Hey, can’t just let that shit go. It’ll only get worse. I’ll run you by urgent care when we leave tonight so you can get some meds. Don’t wanna be flying and vacationing and all that when you’re already sick.” Dean pushes some hair off Cas’s forehead. “Should take you up to Donna’s too before we go, get you a cut.”

Cas sniffs again and Dean leans down to kiss him, but Cas turns away.

“Hey-”

“Sick,” he signs, with a bit of a sly grin. “Don’t wanna get you sick.”

Dean pouts heavily, going so far as to hang his bottom lip. Cas sighs dramatically, rolling his eyes, and kisses Dean quickly on the cheek.

“That’s all you get,” he signs, giving him a firm look.

“Fine,” Dean huffs. “But I’m spoon-feeding you soup when we get home.”

Cas doesn’t even deem that ridiculous statement worthy of a response and walks out of the kitchen, intent on ignoring his sickness and Dean’s pouty lips.

“You two are disgusting,” Charlie tosses her apron through the kitchen, aiming it at Dean’s head who is too busy setting the freshly cooked patty on its bun to duck. “I’m taking my break. Try not to have sex on the bar while I’m gone.”

“We can’t,” Dean scoffs, placing the burger and fries on a plate. “He’s sick .”

Charlie raises a brow. “So if he wasn’t, you would?”

Dean looks at her blankly. “Is that a real question? Of course I would.”

Charlie rolls her eyes and heads to the back as Dean places the plate in the window.

“Baby, come eat while there’s no one here.”

Cas pops into view long enough to snatch the plate up then scampers over to his table to dig in. Dean smiles and steps out of the kitchen to sit with him, picking at his fries.

“So.” Dean chews and swallows a fry, brushing his fingers together to rid them of excess salt. “How are you feeling about the Bahamas? Ready for some sun and sand? Drunken sex?”

Cas snorts and shakes his head, swallowing his bite of burger.

“I need you sober for the photo session,” Cas signs.

Dean gapes. “You tellin’ me I can't even have a drink before getting completely naked on a beach?! In front of people ?”

“We'll be on a nude beach, Dean.” Cas smiles and rolls his eyes. “Everyone will be naked. And yes, that’s what I’m telling you. I don’t want to have to edit the bloodshot out of your eyes on every single picture.”

Dean ignores the last comment. “So you’ll be naked too?”

“Can't,” Cas signs with a sly grin. “That's hardly professional.”

“Yeah, but see…” Dean wiggles his eyebrows. “If it’s a nude beach, you have to be naked. Otherwise you’re breaking the rules.”

Cas pauses, his mouth hanging open as he goes in for another bite of his burger, and blinks as he looks away. Dean just smirks smugly, popping another fry in his mouth.

“Mm, that’s what I thought,” he chuckles. “Bad news for me, though. With you naked, everyone’s gonna be lookin’ at you. Not sure I like the idea of someone starin’ at your hot ass. Even if it does make them jealous.”

Cas rolls his eyes again and waves Dean off. Of all Cas's qualities, his utter obliviousness to how desirable he is may be one of Dean's favorites. However, he wishes Cas could at least understand his own self worth.

Dean hums and pops another fry in his mouth, shrugging dismissively. “May just have to stake my claim out there in front of everybody.”

Cas chokes on his Pepsi and coughs, blushing furiously.

Dean smiles mischievously, a lustful twinkle in his eyes. “Hm, interesting. I think my shy angel likes that idea.”

Cas quickly shakes his head, wiping Pepsi off his mouth, his blush deepening as he stares down at the table. Dean’s smile only widens and he reaches out to lay a hand on top of Cas’s, stroking up and down suggestively.

“Oh, I think you do,” Dean lowers his voice, leaning in closer. “I think you want everyone to see who you belong to...or better, who I belong to.”

Cas shakes his head and rubs at his chest, trying not to smile and surely attempting to will away his growing blush.

Ugh, you guys ,” Charlie groans, coming back around the corner and leaning over the bar dramatically. “One whole shift without the goo-goo eyes, it's all I ask. Take pity on the girl going through the long, albeit rare, dry spell.”

Cas gives Dean a hard look and nods in agreement, trying to hide his smile.

“Hey, Cas, you know...I was thinkin’...” Charlie moves around the bar and plops down on a stool, turning to face them. “Your photos are so good, and you could probably get more work if you were better known. I could make you a Facebook page or something, if you want. I think it would really help to get your name out there and showcase your work.”

Cas chews his lip. “I don’t know-”

“C’mon, Cas,” Dean reaches out and squeezes Cas’s hand. “She’s great with shit like that. And she’s right. If you get your name out there, you’ll start gaining a customer base. You can start earning money doing what you love, instead of bustin’ tables at some rundown diner.”

“I like working here,” Cas signs with a frown. “It’s not rundown. It has charm.”

Dean waves him off. “Call it what you want, it’s still not going to get you anywhere. You have skill, man. People should know it.”

“So whaddya say?” Charlie smiles. “We can start with Facebook, and then if you want I could eventually build you a website. Something that fits your tastes.”

Cas takes a slow bite of his burger and chews thoughtfully, looking back at Dean. Dean shrugs and nods.

“I think it’s a good idea, man. I mean, this is what you really wanna do with your life and the sad truth is that without social media these days, you’re basically setting yourself up for failure. People won’t take the time to find you is some podunk town, they’re gonna find the most easily accessible people for the job.” He reaches across the table and takes Cas’s hand again. “And it’ll be a good way for you to communicate with people, too. Easier. Could get you a phone, set you up an office area…”

Cas smiles and looks back and Charlie, nodding.

“Thank you,” he signs.

“Really? You’re gonna let me?!” Charlie squeals, and she jumps down from her stool and closes the space between them, throwing her arms around Cas’s neck. She muscles her way into the booth with him. “Now, I have all sorts of ideas, for marketing and when I can get your website up and running. I can also, you know, help you manage some of the interaction if it gets to be too much for you-”

Cas’s eyes widen the longer she talks, and he looks at Dean helplessly.

Dean huffs. “Charlie, all that’s great, but...maybe take a breath? How about you make us some presentations or slideshows or some shit. Might make it easier to understand.”

“Oh. Right,” she smiles apologetically. “Sorry ‘bout that. Sometimes I get a little excited and forget not everyone has a hard-on for computers like I do.”

Cas smiles and shrugs. “Never apologize for something you’re passionate about.”

Charlie grins and hugs Cas quickly around the shoulders. “You’re awesome,” she says, pulling away. “Okay, I’ll put together a little something for you in the next few days. Should have something ready before you two start your smut vacation.”

Cas blushes and covers his face with his hand as Dean laughs, picking at another fry. “It’s not gonna be all smut,” Dean says. “There’ll be some sleeping, too.”

“I don’t know how you put up with him, Cas,” Charlie sighs. “You’re a saint.”

Cas grins and smacks Dean’s hand away from his fries.

“Hey-!”

“I’d tell you to whoop his butt, but he might enjoy that too much.”

They’d all been so preoccupied with their conversation that they hadn’t heard the bell chime when Missouri walked in, and she smacks Dean playfully on the back of his head as she passes by on the way to her stool. Cas grins and Dean furrows his brow, turning in his seat and raising his arms in defeat.

“I swear, I don’t get any love around here. Almost like you guys were lookin’ for an excuse to turn on me, and Cas comes in here with his unnaturally blue eyes and his adorably mussed hair and- Dean? Who’s Dean?” Dean mocks, flapping his hands around. “I only know Cas. Nevermind that I’ve fed-” he glares at Missouri, “and employed-” he turns to Charlie, “your asses for years now. I’m hurt.”

Cas suddenly gets serious and he leans forward, laying a hand on Dean’s cheek.

“Don’t use those puppy dog eyes on me,” Dean mutters, trying hard to look away. “C’mon, quit it.”

Since when is it possible for eyes to look so cute and droopy anyway? Cas keeps staring at him, eyes all downturned and sad , and goddamnit, he’s going to cave.

“Fine!” Dean throws his hands up and stands, stomping into the kitchen to start making Missouri’s stupid burger. “I hate you all.”

Cas grins smugly and pops a fry in his mouth.

“Wow,” Charlie breathes, looking at Cas in wonder. “You gotta teach me how you do that.”

“Even I can’t do that,” Missouri chuckles. “You got some kinda magic over him, sugar.”

“It’s called whipped!” Benny calls from the window in the kitchen, and they all turn their attentions to him just in time to see Dean loop an arm around his neck from behind and pull him away, Benny choking and sputtering out of view.

Cas grins again and goes back to his food, and Charlie scoffs incredulously and gets up from the booth, ruffling Cas’s hair before crossing back over to the bar. She fills a cup with sweet tea and slides it over to Missouri, leaning against the bar.

“How was your visit with Patience?”

Missouri shrugs. “Patience is an angel, as always. Son is ever the prick.” She smiles softly, then leans to the side to look past Charlie. “Speakin’ of visitin’, Dean, when can we expect to see that brother of yours and his fiancee ?”

“Spring break, I’d imagine,” Dean says, pressing the burger to the grill with his spatula and watching the grease drain. “And it’s still just girlfriend to you guys. He’d kill me if he knew I told you… think he wanted to do it himself.”

“Oh, please,” Charlie snorts. “Everyone knew they were gonna get married. He’s so head over heels for her, it was only a matter of time.”

“Still, I need you all to act surprised when he breaks the news,” Dean shrugs. “You know, all the girly squealing, jumping up and down, all that shit.”

“Since when have I ever squealed about anything?” Charlie demands, hands on her hips.

“Comic-Con,” Dean grunts.

“There was a Leia cosplayer with a golden bikini , Dean!” Charlie huffs, throwing her hands up. “What the hell was I supposed to do?”

Not drool over her?”

“You ask the impossible.”

“And I can’t jump,” Missouri scoffs, sipping at her Pepsi. “These old bones of mine would break apart.”

“You’re a tough old bird, Missouri,” Dean grins. “I think a little jumping won’t hurt too much.”

“Do you expect the same reaction when you get engaged?” Charlie raises a brow.

Dean blinks, head snapping up. “What?”

“Don’t play dumb,” Missouri smiles. “If you thought Sam and Eileen were bad, you should try looking at you and Cas, honey.”

“It’s teeth-rotting,” Charlie rolls her eyes.

“Guys, I don’t-” Dean flinches and glances over at Cas, who’s looking pointedly at his plate and chewing slowly. “It’s uh...not really something we’ve talked about.”

Of course Dean had thought about it, more than a little, actually. The idea had never seen like much of anything he’d be particularly interested in, or even really believed in, for most of his life. He’d yet to see an example of a happy marriage anywhere in his life. Even before his mother died, in the brief flashes of memory he has of his parents together, he never remembers them being truly happy. As he’s gotten older, he began to recognize those past memories for what they were: two people trying to make things work for the sake of their children. In all likelihood, nothing more than that.

Cas had returned with what seemed like a much better idea of what he wanted from Dean. Dean doesn’t think he’ll ever really figure out Cas in his entirety- which is fine, because it’s part of what makes being with him so exciting- but he definitely feels like he has a firm grasp on how Cas feels about him. That being said, the topic of marriage never came up for them outside of the brief conversations they’d had about Sam and Eileen...which are few and far between because of how difficult it is for Dean to talk about it. Cas seemed to pick up on that, and so he didn’t pry.

Cas finally looks up from his plate and they lock eyes, and Dean could kick his own ass for staring directly at him while talking about freaking marriage of all things. The expression on Cas’s face is unreadable but he doesn’t look away immediately either, and Dean swallows hard and clears his throat nervously before Cas finally lowers his gaze.

“Really?” Missouri huffs skeptically. “I don’t buy that for a minute, baby.”

Dean shrugs. “Believe what you want, but we haven’t. Not in a rush to do anything. He knows I’m not going anywhere, and that’s that.”

Missouri and Charlie share a look, but opt not to say anything further on the subject.

A few more customers trickle in and Dean is able to focus on making orders, ignoring the occasional knowing look from Missouri. The day comes to a close in its usual quiet way, complete with Dean kicking Ash and Kevin out so he can lock the doors. He sets about cleaning up the rest of the kitchen while Cas sits at the bar, counting his tips carefully. Despite not having as many customers this time of year, Cas still manages to bring in a substantial amount every day. Every bit of it went into savings, too, since Dean refuses to let Cas pay for anything.

“How’d you do, baby?” he asks from the window.

Cas looks up and grins as he pockets it. Dean chuckles as he scrapes off the day’s muck from the grill top.

“It’s that pretty face of yours,” he says with a wink. “Maybe they’re hoping with enough money you’ll give ‘em a kiss.”

Cas waves a hand dismissively and unties his apron, folding it and laying it over the bar. He starts filling the sugar caddies, frowning in concentration as he pulls each one out and replaces the caddies with even numbers of each sugar, Splenda, and Equal. Dean watches him for a moment while he methodically cleans the grill, smiling to himself.

“Alright, boss, I’m outta here,” Benny says as he claps him on the back, breaking Dean out of his trance.

“Yeah, man. See ya tomorrow. Charlie gone?”

“Oh, yeah. Don’t tell her I don’t ya, but I saw her run into Dorothy out back. Kinda seemed in a hurry to get outta here.” Benny huffed a laugh. “Everyone ‘round me gettin’ laid, and meanwhile Andrea can barely stand the sight o’ me.”

Dean raises a brow. “You guys havin’ problems or somethin’? Cause if you’re hintin’ at wantin’ me now, it’s too little, too late, buddy.”

Benny barks a laugh and lifts his hat, scratching at the back of his head. “Actually, uh...Andrea’s havin’ a hard time standin’ the sight- or the smell, for that matter- of anythin’ resemblin’ a meal.”

Benny grins slyly as Dean lets that sink in, and he turns slowly, pointing the spatula at Benny. “Wait a minute. You sayin’-?”

“She’ll be eight weeks on the second.”

Hol-y shit.” Dean lets out a breath, letting the spatula clatter to the grill. He gestures to Benny and and holds his hands up to the sides of his head, then gestures to him again. “Holy shit. Holy SHIT, dude!” He steps forward and pulls Benny into an enthusiastic hug. “Fuck. Shit. Benny, man, that’s- I’m so happy for you, dude.”

Benny laughs and squeezes Dean tight. “Can you believe it? Me, a dad?”

“Hell yeah I can believe it,” Dean pulls him at arm’s length, grinning from ear to ear. “You’re gonna be a great daddy. Little girl will be spoiled rotten.”

“How do you know it’s a girl?” Benny smiles, raising a brow.

“I just do,” Dean claps him on the shoulder. “You were always meant to have a baby girl. And you’re gonna wrapped around her little finger.”

“I can think of worse things,” Benny chuckles. “Alright, chief. Do me a favor and keep it to yourself for now. Andrea hasn’t told her parents yet.”

“Lips are sealed,” Dean smiles. “Now go home before it gets too late.”

Benny exits out the back door and leaves Dean thinking of others’ ideas of family, which are decidedly much different than how he and Sam grew up to view family. To him, real family had come from “found” family, or rather, the ones they chose to have in their lives despite not being related by blood. Dean always imagined they’d have a close relationship with their mom from what he can remember of her, because she was gentle and soft-spoken, she could make Zeppelin sound like a lullaby and she always smelled like honeysuckle.

Unfortunately, that was about the extent he could remember of her.

He liked to imagine, if he were to ever have a kid of his own, that he’d be more like Mary Winchester than John Winchester. He glances up at Cas, who’s meticulously arranging the caddies, ketchups, and syrups along the bar, and changes his mind.

No, Cas would definitely be the Mary Winchester.

He blinks and shakes his head. Get it together, Winchester.

Dean flies through the rest of his cleaning and actually ends up beating Cas by a few minutes, chilling in a stool as Cas wipes down the counter one last time. When he gets close, Dean grins and pulls him into his lap by his arm, earning nothing more than an eyeroll.

“You’re a very distracting boss,” Cas signs.

“It’s clean enough,” Dean clicks his tongue, prying the washrag from Cas’s hand and tossing it on the counter. “And I miss you.”

“I’ve been here all day.”

“Not here, in my lap,” Dean pouts. “You’ve been out here, flirting so you can get bigger tips. Right in front of your very devoted boyfriend, no less.”

Cas smacks him on the chest. “I do not flirt.”

“I saw you battin’ those long eyelashes at that trucker earlier,” Dean mimics it, batting his eyelashes. “Dude would’ve had no problem gettin’ you in his cab.”

Cas sighs and shakes his head. “You’re ridiculous. Are you forgetting how we met?”

Dean blushes. “Yeah, well. You were hot and I was horny.”

Cas rolls his eyes and wiggles out of Dean’s lap. “When are you not horny?” Cas raises a brow then grabs his arpon from the counter to hang it up neatly.

“When I’m asleep?”

Cas gives him a look. “If I had a dollar for how many times I’ve woken up with your dick poking me-”

“Okay, okay!” Dean holds his hands up in surrender. “You win. I’m a filthy lech. Now let’s go home.”

Chapter Text

“Have you packed?” Cas signs from across the table. He picks up his mug of coffee and takes a long sip, rubbing his tired eyes. His hair sticks up even worse than normal and Dean mentally kicks himself for not getting him that haircut he promised him.

Dean avoids looking at him as he pours his own cup of coffee and checks the time. A few past 4 a.m.

“I, uh. I work better under pressure,” Dean mumbles, and he can hear Cas huff from behind him. He turns and leans back against the counter, taking a sip and looking at Cas over the rim of his mug. “I told you to pack a week ago.”

“It’ll get done.”

“It was completely unnecessary to wait until the last minute.”

Dean smirks and gestures vaguely at Cas with his mug. “You’re grumpy this morning.”

Cas doesn’t answer but pushes out his chair and takes his coffee with him, disappearing into Dean’s bedroom. He hears some shuffling and several drawers opening and closing with more force than necessary, and he reluctantly makes his way to the bedroom after Cas.

Cas has abandoned his coffee in favor of packing Dean’s bag for him- if that’s what one would call it. He’s just throwing stuff inside without giving really any mind to what’s going in, Dean’s large suitcase unzipped in the middle of the bed with clothes hanging out from all sides.

“Baby, I said I would do this-”

Dean jumps when Cas slams another drawer shut then roughly pulls out the one under it. Dean sighs and sets his coffee down. The earlier in the morning, the grumpier Cas is, and Dean has learned this the hard way. He’s also learned not to take anything personally, because once Cas really wakes up he’ll apologize profusely and make it up to Dean- usually orally. Still, he’s never dealt with 4 a.m. stressed out Cas and it’s proving to be a challenge.

“Cas, stop for a sec.”

Cas huffs and throws another shirt toward the suitcase that ends up sailing clear over the bed.

“Cas,” Dean gently grabs his hand before he can slam the drawer shut again and brings it to his chest. Cas glares at him through messy hair and droopy eyes, and Dean leans in to give him a kiss on the nose. Cas scrunches up his face and tries to pull away, but Dean doesn’t let him.

“Hey, chill for a sec,” Dean says, a little more firmly. “Look, I know it’s early and you don’t do early, but why don’t you take a breath and tell me why you’re so pissed at me.”

“Tired.” Cas signs bluntly.

“Yeah, I get that,” Dean responds, trying to keep his voice even without any hints of sarcasm, which would certainly do nothing to help their current situation. “But it’s not just that, is it? What’d I do?”

“Nothing.”

Dean sighs and pulls Cas to the bed, sitting down and pulling him down beside him. “Hey.” He tilts his chin up and holds it there. “Talk to me.”

Cas looks down, avoiding eye contact, which Dean knows by now is his biggest indication of- well, not necessarily lying, since Cas didn’t seem to ever really lie to him- but definitely not telling him the whole truth, either.

“You gonna talk, or am I gonna have to start guessing?”

Cas purses his lips stubbornly, and Dean suppresses another chuckle and looks down at his watch. “4:17 a.m. Think I’d be able to guess before we have to catch that flight?”

Cas sighs and finally looks at him.

“Nervous,” he signs simply.

“Okay...nervous. Why?”

Cas shrugs. “Normally do this alone.” He taps the fingers of one hand against his forearm as he thinks. “Don’t want you to be disappointed.”

“What could possibly disappoint me?”

“Me.”

Dean frowns and takes Cas’s hand in his, pulling them into his lap. “Cas, the only reason I even want to go is because it’s with you. Frankly, I don’t care what we end up doing. Whether it’s sex on the beach or watching daytime television in our hotel room. It’s time. With you. Just us. For two whole weeks. That’s what I’m excited about.”

Cas bites his lip, looking down at their hands, his fingers twitching inside Dean’s palm.

“And I know you’re gonna go off and take your pictures,” Dean smiles. “I don’t expect you to spend every second with me. This is just as much your vacation as it is mine.”

Cas looks up, eyes searching Dean’s, finally letting out a heavy breath and nodding slightly.

Dean quirks a smile. “That’s my boy.” He brushes his cheek with his thumb and Cas gives him a small smile. “Now. For the love of God-” he gets up and grabs Cas’s mug of coffee, handing it to him, “drink the rest of this and I will bring you more. Go sit in the living room and put in a movie or something and I’ll get this stuff packed up.”

Cas stands and wraps an arm around Dean’s neck, cupping the back of his head with his free hand and pulling him in for a hard kiss. He pulls away, cheeks slightly flushed an lips parted, then sits his mug down to sign.
“I don’t deserve you.”

“You’re right,” Dean sighs. “You deserve a lot better. Now git so I can pack without you hovering over me.”

Cas purses his lips, but shuffles out of the room, gasping when Dean smacks him on the ass on his way out. Dean sighs, surveying the mess his angel has made of their room, and gets to work repacking it all. When it’s all packed and ready to go, Dean dumps his suitcase and duffel bag on the living room floor. He grabs Cas’s empty mug wordlessly and fills it up with the last of the coffee, handing it back to him with a smile.

“Got your passport?” he asks as he grabs his phone and charger.

Cas nods as he sips at his coffee, half watching Little Mermaid and Dean as he ambles around the house, looking for anything they may have forgotten. Which is silly because Cas has had everything ready to go for days. It’s Dean who’s dragging ass.

Within ten minutes everything is loaded into the car, Cas has a travel mug filled with coffee, and Dean is already fretting about leaving Baby in an airport parking lot. By the time they’re at the airport, though, he’s suddenly remembering he has to get on one of those flying death traps.

Cas shifts his bags to one arm and tucks his mug into the crook of his arm, using his free hand to take Dean's and lock their fingers together. Dean barely notices at first, taking long deep breaths and trying to focus on anything but the plane ride and not letting Cas in on how utterly terrified he actually is. Cas squeezes three times and Dean looks over at him and forces a smile.

“I love you too, sweetheart,” he says, sounding a lot more composed than he feels.

Cas looks like he wants to say something but both his hands are occupied, so he tugs on Dean's hand, pulling him to a stop.

“Gonna be okay,” he mouths, giving Dean a hard nod, brows knit together in a very serious look that Dean finds utterly adorable and endearing every time he sees it. “I'm here.”

Dean takes a very deep breath, almost to the point of pain, before he lets it out slowly. He squeezes Cas’s hand and nods, blinking rapidly when he feels the sudden urge to cry. Fuck, he’s pathetic.

“You’re right,” he says gruffly as they approach the lines to check their luggage. “I got you.  My guardian angel, right?”

Cas smiles and nods, kissing him on the cheek, earning an ‘awww’ from behind them as an older couple looks at them fondly. Dean smiles nervously, the gesture coming out more as a grimace, and swallows as they inch up the line.

“First time flying?” the older woman asks nicely.

Dean clears his throat. “Not first, just...ah, don’t like it.”

“Oh, honey, I get it,” she chuckles, patting his sweaty hand with her soft, wrinkly one. She has white hair, kind eyes, and rosy cheeks. The man next to her, presumably her husband, looks ridiculously adorable in his bermuda shorts and hawaiian shirt. “Scared me something fierce when I first flew. ‘Course back then, planes were just barely invented.”

She winks and Dean laughs, shaking his head. “What are you talkin’ about? You don’t look a day over 25.”

She giggles and waves her hand. “Oh, a charmer. Is that how he got you, honey?”

Cas blushes and nods, leaning closer to Dean.

“This your first time to Nassau?” the old man asks.

“Yes, sir,” Dean answers. “Cas here's brother recommended it. Said it would make the perfect first vacation.” He tightens his arm around Cas's shoulder.

“Newlyweds?” the woman asks with a smile, and Cas's blush deepens as he shakes his head quickly. Dean's chest tightens and he's not sure how to feel about Cas's abrupt answer, so he just watches as Cas lifts his hands to sign.

“I should be so lucky,” Cas signs with a grin, and Dean tries not to be so obvious about how happy that answer makes him as he translates for the couple, who chuckle, and the lady leans forward and folds her hand over one of Cas's.

“I think, maybe, you're not the only one who feels that way,” she says, giving Dean a smile.

Cas’s blush deepens and he smiles his gummy smile down at his feet. Dean’s chest and stomach flutter, and he can suddenly very clearly see himself proposing to this beautiful man. Exchanging vows, rings, the whole shebang. It’s a terrifying and exciting thought.

The couple chit-chats with them through check in and security, and then they all part ways as they head toward their gates. Talking with them had helped Dean forget about boarding a plane, until they reach their gate and then it all comes flooding back.

It doesn’t help that the huge ass windows show the flying death machine in all its glory. Dean swallows, watching anxiously as the team outside fuels and checks...whatever it is that they’re checking. Dean hopes they check everything twice. Three times. Hell, make it 10 times.

He feels a tug on his arm and looks down at Cas, who is sitting calmly in a chair and looking up at Dean worriedly. “I’m fine,” Dean lies through his teeth, sitting down heavily next to Cas. “They, uh, have sick bags on there right?”

Cas loops his arm around Dean and pulls him close, laying his head on his shoulder. He reaches up and cards his fingers through Dean's hair, leaning up to press a kiss to his cheek.

“I'll hold your hand the entire time,” Cas signs, laying his hand on his cheek.

“For the whole eight hour flight?”

Cas grins and nods.

“Might get sweaty.”

Cas sits up and raises a brow, smiling slyly. “I thought you enjoyed that.”

“Yeah,” Dean snorts. “In the sexy, fun way. Not the falling out of the sky way.”

Cas resists rolling his eyes. “We’re not going to fall out of the sky.”

“How do you know ?”

“I’m an angel,” Cas signs, his face utterly serious. “I know everything.”

Dean does roll his eyes and slumps in his chair. He wants the next eight hours to fly by (no pun intended), but unfortunately he has the feeling they’re more likely to crawl. Indeed, it’s only about thirty minutes, but it feels like two hours before they’re seated on the plane. Gabriel got them first class, so the seats are plush and the only one sitting next to him is Cas. They aren’t packed in like sardines, and each chair has its own little TV and some headphones. They are also given pillows and blankets, and a menu for in-flight meal. It’s all very nice, but Dean hardly notices any of it because holy shit he’s on a plane.

Cas taps him on the shoulder. Dean blinks over at him and raises a brow.

“Close your eyes,” Cas signs slowly.

Dean frowns, but obeys and leans his head back. After only a second of waiting, he feels Cas’s fingers in his hair. Massaging and tugging gently, working through his short strands. Dean then feels the other hand on his neck, gliding down his chest, then up his shirt to touch the slightly clammy skin underneath. Dean is very much aware that Cas is trying to distract him and he couldn’t be more grateful.

When they start to move Dean grips tightly to his armrests, and Cas folds a hand over one of his, the other still gently massaging his head. The takeoff is blessedly tame, especially compared to some of the other times he's flown, and he's finally able to relax marginally after about twenty minutes, when they're in the air and the plane has leveled out again.

When he opens his eyes, Cas has his head laid back against the headrest and his own eyes closed, even while his fingers are still moving deftly through Dean's hair. He looks peaceful, and the realization hits Dean that the very thing that scares the shit out of him is exactly Cas's comfort zone. He kind of likes the idea that he can be for Cas what Cas can't be for himself, and vice versa.

Dean sighs and grabs their blanket, throwing it over both of them as the tiny AC above blasts cold air on them. He gets as comfortable as possible and closes his eyes, leaning in close to Cas, using his presence and his touch to lull himself into a sort of half sleep.

The next few hours are spent in an odd daze brought on by Cas’s vigilant care, his fingers working magic to keep Dean’s focus off the fact that they’re hurtling through the air. Cas eventually rouses Dean for their meal and he nibbles on the food while Cas picks something for them to watch on the little TV. He eventually settles on You’ve Got Mail and Dean doesn’t have the strength to even poke fun at the choice.

When Dean has eaten all he can, he returns to his spot tucked up next to Cas. He closes his eyes again, Cas’s hands in his hair once more, and focuses on his angel’s steady breathing.

----

Dean wakes to Cas shaking him gently, and he momentarily forgets where they are, immediately snuggling up against Cas’s side and pressing his face into his neck. Cas shakes him again and Dean begins to register the gentle hum of a powerful engine and the quiet mumblings of people. His eyes pop open and he sits up quickly, heart beating out of his chest as he looks around. Cas loops his arm through Dean’s and pulls him close, tapping his forearm to get his attention.

“We’re here,” Cas signs with a smile, then pats Dean’s arm reassuringly. “You did great.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Dean mumbles, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. “Guess it wasn’t so bad.”

Cas smirks and starts folding up their blanket, stopping to take Dean’s hand during the landing, which is definitively the worst part of the flight that Dean can remember.

When they are safely on the ground, Dean breathes a little easier. It takes a day and forever for the plane to come to a stop and another friggin’ day to actually get off the plane. When they walk into the airport Dean almost collapses to his knees so he can kiss the floor, but he restrains himself. He grabs Cas’s hand, thankful he is there and even more thankful he’d helped him get through the longest flight of his life.

They take a cab to the address of the place Gabriel booked, and even with the beauty of the island surrounding them during the frankly horrifying cab ride, the look of absolute bliss on Cas’s face already made the entire trip worth it. He seems unable to tear his eyes away from the window, and not for the first time, Dean wonders what the world looks like through Cas’s eyes. It’s apparent through his photos that Cas doesn’t ever see just anything; he sees the sunlight and the laugh lines and the shadow in each and every thing on this planet...something that most people need filters to see. Cas sees more than people were surely meant to see. Cas takes something seemingly one-dimensional, and he sees the very soul of it.

Dean kind of wonders what he sees when he looks at him.

The hotel looks like something that Dean will never in his lifetime be able to afford, and when they pull up to the front his eyes are wide as he stares up at their home for the next two weeks. He pays the cab driver reluctantly and helps Cas unload the trunk and backseat of all their luggage.

“I really need to consider getting into the porn industry,” Dean snorts as they step inside the huge lobby. “This is ridiculous. I bet a night here is my rent.”

“It is rather excessive,” Cas signs as he looks around, his wide eyes taking it all in. “He’s probably making up for all the vacations I never took from him before.” He rolls his eyes.

They get checked in and retreat to their room on the tenth floor. Dean slides the key into the slot and holds the door open, letting Cas enter with his arms full of their bags, which are promptly discarded onto the floor as he steps slowly forward. The large glass doors to the balcony are open and the translucent white curtains billow with the breeze, the sound of the ocean filling the room. Cas bypasses a large king-sized bed that’s adorned with pristine white sheets and a fluffy white down comforter on his way to the balcony, and he steps outside, gripping tightly to the rails as he looks out over the beach.

Dean whistles as he looks around the room, making special note of the large flat screen mounted to the wall and the ridiculously fancy marble bathroom, complete with shower and jacuzzi.

“And your brother just... lives like this, like all the time, or-?”

He turns back to see Cas still standing on the balcony, once again oblivious to any and everything that wasn’t what he was seeing at that very moment. Cas is on his tiptoes, leaning as far over the balcony as he safely can, his head still up and looking out over the ocean.

Dean quietly takes out his phone and snaps a few pics before slipping it back into his pocket. Leaving Cas to his moment, Dean starts unpacking their bags. Since they’re going to be here for two weeks they might as well use the otherwise useless dressers in the room. Cas had packed basically everything he owned, as he didn’t have much to begin with despite Dean trying to buy him things. Maybe he can at least talk him into a tacky souvenir while they’re here.

Once everything is out away, Dean stashes their luggage in the closet and starts flipping through the room service menu.

“Babe,” he walks up behind Cas, resting his chin on his shoulder. “You hungry? I’m friggin’ starving.”

“You hardly ate on the plane,” Cas signs, not taking his eyes off the water.

“Yeah, well, fear kinda dampens the appetite.”

Cas smiles softly and finally turns in his arms, wrapping his own around Dean’s middle. His hair looks even more windblown than normal but at least this time it’s for good reason. Dean huffs a laugh and tries to smooth some down, even though he knows it won’t help. He leans back to sign, so Dean steps back a little to give him room.

“Thank you for convincing me to do this.”

Dean smiles. “Thank you for getting me through the plane ride.”

Cas pulls him in again, hooking his chin over Dean’s shoulder and squeezing around his waist tightly, the two of them leaning back against the railing overlooking the ocean.

Dean can’t remember the last time he saw the ocean. They traveled everywhere with their dad when he was young, but those memories were fuzzier every year that went by. He’s sure that whatever ocean he did see didn’t compare to this one. From this distance it looks pristine, crystal blue with sandy white beaches. And on one of those beaches he’s apparently going to get naked and have his photo taken.

Dean snorts to himself and kisses Cas’s cheek as he pulls away. “Food,” he murmurs, grabbing the menu again as he plops down on the bed. It hasn’t quite sunk in that he’s on vacation. He feels like he had to be at work the next day, because that’s how it’s been since he graduated high school.

Dean smiles when Cas crawls in next to him, laying his head on Dean’s stomach and fiddling with his shirt. “This is on Gabriel’s dime, right?” Dean mutters, looking over the stupidly outrageous prices. He grins when Cas nods and tossed the menu aside. “Great. I’m gettin’ a steak.”

Cas slides his hand up Dean's shirt and lets his fingers play over the hair of his happy trail, sighing contentedly. A dry cough follows, wracking his body, and Dean rubs him gently on the back.

The doctor diagnosed him with a case of tonsillitis and gave him a round of antibiotics, which led Dean to learn how utterly forgetful Cas is when it comes to taking medication. Even so, he'd been a miserable sick person, not that Dean minded tending to him; after all, it's what he'd done most of his life for Sammy.

“Take your medicine?” he asks, and Cas nods against his chest. “May have to take you back again, if it doesn't clear up.”

Cas shakes his head vehemently at that, and Dean sighs. It was more of a fight than he expected to get Cas to a doctor in the first place, and he'd been less than compliant since there. He was twitchy, anxious, moody… not necessarily out of character for him, but definitely different than Dean was expecting.

“Listen, you don't want it to get worse-"

Cas leans up and captures Dean's lips with his own, laying a hand on his cheek as he slots their tongues together. Dean moans into it, kissing back briefly before remembering himself and taking Cas’s shoulders, pulling him back.

“Uh uh, not gonna distract me. And you're gonna get me sick, if you keep on like that.”

Cas purses his lips and tries again, his hand sliding down to tease Dean’s nipple that he knows is incredibly sensitive, but Dean growls softly and pulls away.

“You’re not using something as sacred as sex to distract me from you being sick,” he says firmly, cupping Cas’s cheeks. Cas rolls his eyes dramatically and sniffles, his nose still just the tiniest bit red. It’s not nearly as bad as it had been only a few days ago, but still noticeable.

“C’mon, baby,” he says, a little more gently, “The doctor was nice enough to clear you for this trip, but only if you kept up your meds and took it easy. I’d hate for you to miss out on your vacation because you were too stubborn to let me take care of you.”

Cas huffs and pushes himself up, sitting cross-legged on the bed and signing furiously.

“I'm trying to let you take care of me and you won't comply.”

“Sex isn't taking care of you, sweetheart-"

“It's just a cold,” Cas insists, pouting. It's way more adorable than it has any right to be, and Dean almost, almost caves right then and there, but he shakes his head instead.

“Could get worse if you don't take care of it now.”

Cas looks like he has a lot to say on the subject, but he just lets his hands fall into his lap with a dramatic sigh, looking across the room at the open doors leading out onto the balcony.

“Tell you what,” Dean says, sitting up and taking Cas's face in his hands. “You take your medicine, take a little nap, and eat something, and maybe, maybe later tonight… depending on how well I deem you to be.”

Cas seems like he wants to argue and pout some more, but Dean pulls him into a long, teasing kiss that leaves them both a little breathless. Cas finally nods, still looking put out but not full on grumpy, so Dean takes it as a win.

“Take your medicine, because I know you were lyin’ when you said you did,” Dean smirks, patting Cas on the thigh. “I’ll order us something to eat. By the time you wake up from your nap, the food’ll be here. Okay?”

Cas flops onto his side then rolls off the bed, crawling to his toiletry bag as if his legs were made of lead.

“Yeah, yeah, you’re really funny,” Dean snorts as he picks up the phone on the nightstand, pressing the button for room service. “Quit mopin’ and take your medicine.”
Cas glares at him and pops the pill in his mouth, then stomps back over to the bed and makes a show of flinging the neatly made blankets off. He tosses and turns roughly, sending pillows flying and generally making the bed a complete mess.

Dean holds the phone away from his ear as it rings. “You're acting like a child- yes, hello? Need to order some food for room 1041.”

Cas proceeds to pout as Dean orders, but he's practically asleep by the time he gets off the phone, the jet lag obviously outweighing his stubborn pissiness. Dean realizes now that he'd probably been awake the duration of the flight to make sure that he was okay, not to mention the fact that Cas loves to fly.

Room service gives them an hour wait time, so Dean takes a quick shower to rid himself of the gross plane travel feeling and snuggles in next to Cas in bed, and Cas automatically curls in next to him.

Dean dozes in and out, stroking Cas’s hair as he stares out the open balcony. An occasional breeze flows in, ruffling the curtains, and it’s all just so relaxing . He definitely needed this, and he’s sure Cas did too.

After a while, there’s a light knock on the door. Dean untangles himself from Cas’s hold and answers the door, taking the tray of food and passing the man a tip.

“Baby,” Dean says, setting the tray down on the small table beside the balcony doors. He sits on the edge of the bed and gently shakes Cas awake. “Hey there, sunshine. Food’s here. Wanna sit up?”

Cas rubs at his perpetually baggy eyes and slowly sits up, his hair in disarray and his shirt hanging off his shoulders. Dean chuckles and kisses his cheek. “You’re adorable, you know that?”

Cas blushes and waves a hand dismissively, smearing mayonnaise on his chicken sandwich and laying the top bun on before taking a bite. He chews slowly, swallowing hard, no doubt around the pain in his throat. He looks out the window as he eats in silence, pointing after shoving a fry in his mouth and looking at Dean with his eyebrows raised.

“Wanna go to the beach?” Dean asks through a mouthful of steak, and Cas nods enthusiastically.

“Okay, maybe tomorrow,” Dean smiles, taking another bite of his prime rib. “If you’re feeling better.”

Cas sighs and carefully swallows another bite, eyes trained on the balcony. Dean already knows they’ll be at the beach tomorrow, regardless if Cas is feeling better or not. All Cas has to do is pull those big, sad eyes on him and Dean will cave. There’s just no fighting it.

“Just to clarify,” Dean says after a moment. “You wantin’ to go to the normal beach, or the naked beach?”

Cas finally cracks a smile and rolls his eyes. “Normal beach,” he signs. “Just relax tomorrow.”

“Sounds perfect,” Dean says, taking a swig of his beer. “Though I'm… not really sure how to do that. Guess I'll figure it out while I'm here. After two weeks here, I'm definitely not gonna want to go back to work, either.”

Cas doesn't answer, just pops another fry in his mouth and chews slowly, staring longingly out at the beach.

“So… how come you never wanna take Gabe up on these things? Creepy porn star company aside?”

Cas stiffens and finally shrugs.

“I mean…” Dean wipes his mouth and sets his tray aside, watching Cas. “Seems like he really cares about you… wants to spend time with you.”

Cas huffs and turns to Dean, staring a long moment before signing a response.

“I don't like feeling like a charity case.”

Dean frowns and cocks his head to the side. “Cas, I don’t think your brother thinks of you as a charity case. I think he just wants to make sure you’re okay.”

“I can take care of myself,” Cas signs with jerking motions.

“Yes, you’ve proven that,” Dean says, a bit of an edge to his voice. “There’s nothing wrong with letting people help every once and awhile, though.”

“I don’t need help.”

Dean’s jaw tightens and he lets out a slow breath. He refuses to argue on the first day of their vacation and with Cas being sick, arguments were more easy to come by. Dean downs the rest of his drink and sets his empty tray outside the door. Scrubbing a hand down his face, he turns on the TV and crawls into bed. He stares blankly ahead at the television, not really paying attention to whatever the hell is playing.

Cas continues to stubbornly look out the glass doors as he leisurely polishes off the rest of his food. He removes his tray and disappears into the bathroom to wash his hands thoroughly, and Dean can see him standing at the doorway of the bathroom in his peripheral vision, but he pointedly keeps his attention forward on the television.

After a moment Cas is moving back to the bed again, hesitating on Dean’s side and fidgeting with the hem of his shirt, then reaching out and taking Dean’s hand. Dean finally looks up at him and Cas forces a smile, climbing slowly over him and resting on his knees by his side.

“Are you mad at me?” he signs, tilting his head.

“No, Cas, I’m not mad.” Dean settles back into the pillows, looking back at the TV when Cas taps him.

“Seems like you’re mad.”

Dean sighs and stares at him for a while, eyes searching his face, then leans up and takes Cas’s face between his hands. “‘M not mad, Cas. It’s just...I want to be able to help you. I need to be able to help you, and you...you make it really difficult. I understand and admire your independence but there’s nothing wrong with accepting things from people every once in awhile.”

Cas hesitates then finally sighs. “It makes me feel weak.”

“Well, you’re certainly not weak,” Dean assures him. “And anyway, everyone has their weak moments. Kinda part of being human. That’s why we have family, friends...unbelievably handsome and devoted boyfriends. To help in those moments.”

Cas bites his lip thoughtfully. “What if you get tired of helping me in those moments?”

“Not possible,” Dean shrugs. “Have I ever given any indication of that happening?”

“No.”

“Then don’t worry about it,” Dean pulls him down for a kiss, sighing against his lips. “And let me take care of you when I need to, when you need me to.”

Cas smiles and pulls away to sign. “How did I get so lucky to meet you?”

Dean smirks and shrugs. “I have no idea, but you certainly won the jackpot. I’m a catch .”

Cas huffs a silent laugh and moves to lay beside Dean, resting his head on his chest. Dean wraps an arm around his shoulders and kisses the top of his head. Cas tangles their legs together and splays his hand out on Dean’s stomach, lifting up his shirt to play with his happy trail.

Dean ghosts the tips of his fingers up and down Cas’s arm as they lay in silence for the next hour or so, watching reruns of some cop procedural. Dean doesn’t realize that Cas has fallen asleep again until he tries to move with no response from him, so he carefully undresses and maneuvers them both under the sheets- which is much easier said than done- cuts off the TV, and pulls Cas back into an embrace. He knows Cas will end up getting hot in the middle of the night and practically push Dean off of him, but Dean will take whatever precious time he can get before that happens.

He doesn’t know how long it is before he finally dozes off to the sound of Cas’s even breathing, but something about having Cas there, in his arms, in a place completely foreign to both of them, gives him the most confidence in the longevity of their relationship than he’s ever had before.

----

Many of Dean’s dreams these days start the same way, which is why it’s no surprise that he confuses dream Cas with very real, very awake, very enthusiastic real Cas.

He’s already moaning and slightly canting his hips upward when his consciousness slowly surfaces, and he blinks once, immediately squeezing his eyes shut against the bright light flooding through the large glass doors, which he curses himself for not pulling the curtains in front of last night before bed. He reaches out blindly and feels soft sheets with a very conspicuous lump moving under them, and he’s about to open his mouth to say something snarky when the hand on his cock is replaced by a warm, wet mouth.

He grunts and arches slightly off the bed, allowing Cas to lave his tongue down the shaft and swirl it around the head a few times before he makes a disapproving noise and pulls him off. Cas pulls the sheets back with a huff, letting them bunch around his shoulders, and moves up to straddle Dean.

“Cas, what did I tell you-”

“I have listened to what you told me,” Cas signs quickly, leaning down to kiss Dean’s nose, then his lips. “I’ve already ordered and eaten food-”

Dean narrows his eyes. “Okay…”

“And I ordered you steak and eggs and a Tequila Sunrise-”

Dean licks his lips. “Is this- are you dirty talking me right now?”

Cas grins and ruts very deliberately against Dean’s stomach. “And I already took my medicine-”

“That’s it, baby, you know what I like.”

Cas shakes his head with a smile, taking Dean’s hand and holding it in front of them, threading their fingers together. “And I even went for a run earlier this morning, and I feel great. So great, in fact, that I came back and showered and did all your work for you.”

Dean furrows his brow, and Cas grins slyly and shifts closer, leading Dean’s hand back and pressing his fingers to the crack of his ass, slick with lube. Dean’s eyes widen and Cas’s adorable eye crinkles make an appearance, and he pulls his hands away to sign, letting Dean’s hand stay in place.

“So I’m going to need you to fuck me now.”

“Have I told you I’m madly in love with you?”

Cas grins again and shrugs. “Couldn’t hurt to hear it once more.”

Dean thrusts up lazily, sliding his cock between the lube slicked cheeks. “Well I am completely, madly in love with you,” Dean grins back, fingers teasing Cas’s twitching hole. “You know, like reach-for-the-stars, over-the-fence, World Series kinda thing.”

Cas raises a brow. “What is that from?”

“A movie,” Dean says shortly as he lines himself up, his head popping past Cas’s rim slowly.

Cas sucks in a breath. “What movie?”

“Ah...d-don’t remember,” Dean stammers, pushing his hips up and sliding inside the slick passage.

“You do, too,” Cas grinds his hips down, earning a strangled gasp from Dean, and swallows a silent moan of his own. “You just don’t want to tell me.”

It Takes Two, okay?” Dean grunts, his hands moving to grip Cas’s hips and keep the little shit from wiggling so damn much.

“With the Olsen twins?”

“Could we not talk about the Olsen twins when my dick is in your ass?”  Dean moans and cants up, burying his cock as deep as he can.

“It’s just,” Cas smirks, “you pulled that quote out awfully quick. How recently did you watch that movie?” He bats Dean’s hands away and lifts himself up, almost unsheathing Dean completely, then snaps back down.

“Doesn’t matter.” Dean’s struggling to keep his eyes open and his brain focused enough to decode anything that Cas is saying, and for once he actually wants Cas to stop talking to him to allow him to focus on how fucking incredible he feels, but of course Cas, being the little shit he is, refuses to let that happen willingly.

“Or maybe it’s just that you’ve watched it so many times-”

Dean growls and grabs Cas’s hips, turning them both and throwing Cas down on his back, kneeling between his legs as he lines himself back up. Cas gathers himself and raises his hands to sign once more when Dean pushes in again, and he closes his eyes instead and arches with a gasp. For good measure, Dean threads their fingers together on both hands and holds them above Cas’s head as he pounds into him, and Cas’s legs wrap securely around his waist.

“Not such a smartass now, are you,” Dean smirks and leans down, still keeping Cas’s hands locked above him as he noses along his jaw. “Can show you a thing or two about talkin’ dirty.”

Cas arches beneath him as Dean bites down on a spot on his neck, hard enough to border on pain, gentle enough to send sparks right down Cas’s spine. “And I’ll do it when you least expect it,” Dean whispers, licking at the shell of Cas’s ear. “I’ll get right here and tell you how much I love this tight little hole of yours. How all the pretty little gasps you make get me so fucking hard. How much I love pumping my cock into you.”

Cas opens his eyes and looks up at Dean desperately, mouth hanging open and panting hard. Dean captures his lips with his own as he fucks into him, pressing their foreheads together when they release and panting against one another’s lips. Cas arches again and pushes down on his cock, breath hitching in his throat as he throws his head back.

Dean lets go of his hands and leans back, grabbing Cas around the waist and forcing him up with him and into his lap, wrapping his arms around as Cas settles into the new position. Cas is a little heavier now and Dean’s knees protest, but the position hits Cas’s prostate perfectly, the telltale shakiness in his breath letting Dean know he’s getting close.

“So beautiful like this, baby,” Dean groans, his hand sliding up between Cas’s shoulder blades. “Fuck, you’re gorgeous. Perfect . You’re perfect, angel.”

Cas closes his eyes, head tilted back, mouth hanging open as he drags in air desperately. That blush Dean loves so much spreads across his face, his neck, down his chest. Dean uses his free hand to grip Cas’s neglected cock, pumping in time with his trusts, squeezing the leaking head as he strokes up. Dean twists his hand as he nails Cas’s prostate at the same time, and Cas is choking back as a gasp as he comes. He holds tightly to Dean as thick splatters of cum paint their bellies and his hole flutters around Dean’s girth as he rides out the orgasm, his eyes rolling back in his head.

Dean follows soon after, the aftermath of Cas’s orgasm pushing him over the edge, and he thrusts up as deep as he can as he comes inside Cas’s heat, the head of his cock nudging his sensitive prostate. Cas shudders violently and wraps his arms lazily around Dean’s neck, trailing his tongue along his jaw with kisses sprinkled in between as he catches his breath. Dean cards fingers up through the back of Cas’s hair and pulls slightly as he feels the last spurt of cum release, pulling Cas’s head back to expose his jaw. His legs are now practically numb from their position but Cas looks so fucking gorgeous this way, straddling his lap, sweaty hair flopped onto his forehead and his chest flushed red, his abdomen painted with his own cum.

Dean, not for the first time, wishes his refractory period was nonexistent, because he could definitely stand to fuck Cas like this again. From the looks of it, Cas is more than willing to oblige.

“Sweet, insatiable angel,” Dean croons, pushing messy hair off Cas’s forehead and sliding the hand down to cup his cheek. Cas leans into it, turning those too-blue eyes on him and blinking innocently, which considering the circumstances, is a little outrageous.

“You have any idea how much I want you?” Dean sighs, shifting slightly to ease up on his knees, but keeping his softening cock inside. “I could fuck you all day.”

Cas can’t possibly get any redder than he already is and he ducks his head shyly, but Dean picks his chin back up. “Nuh uh, no hiding from me,” he nuzzles his scruffy cheek, “I wanna look at that pretty face.”

Cas smiles, though he tries not to, and runs his hands through Dean’s short hair. He goes willingly when Dean dumps him gently onto his back, grimacing slightly when Dean slides out with an obscene wet sound. Dean hovers above him, showering him with lazy kisses up and down his torso.

Cas reaches up to trace down his cheek and jaw with gentle fingers, grinning when Dean turns his head to press a kiss to his palm. Dean finally shifts to his side and lowers himself beside Cas, propping his head up with a hand.

“You really wanna go to the beach today? We could always just...stay here.” Dean wiggles his eyebrows and Cas huffs, covering his face briefly with a hand then sliding it up, pushing hair out of his face. He shakes his head incredulously and looks back at Dean.

“I would like to go to the beach,” Cas signs finally, then hesitates briefly before continuing. “Then I’d like you to bring me back here and fuck me on that balcony.”

Dean raises his eyebrows and looks over at the brightly lit balcony, a thrill of excitement rolling through him at the thought of being watched. It’s something that’s always intrigued him, but he’s never actually had the opportunity to test it out. But now...the thought of it actually being something readily attainable already has his spent cock twitching with interest.

“Or you could fuck me on that balcony,” Dean says lowly, looking back over at Cas.

A small grin spreads slowly over Cas’s face, and he nods toward the balcony. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” he signs.

Dean gives a shrug that he hopes looks as nonchalant as he intends, swallowing hard and clearing his throat. “Could be fun.”

“And you judge Gabriel,” Cas signs with a smile, shaking his head.

“I don’t judge him ,” Dean clicks his tongue. “Dude makes an honest living, and business is good by the looks of it. Porn is awesome. Half my teen years was spent watching porn.”

Cas raises a brow.

“What? You think I was born with all this charm? I had to work to get this good. Which meant back then, when I still a little rough around the edges, I spent more time with my hand than I did with an actual person.”  

Cas shakes his head exasperatedly and glances back at the balcony, chewing on his bottom lip. Dean can see the war raging in his eyes as he tries to decide what he wants more, sex or beach.

Beach wins out and an hour later has Dean in his swim shorts, trudging through sand as Cas practically skips ahead of him. He would tell him to be careful, but Dean knows it will fall on deaf ears. Besides, it’s cute to see Cas so excited.

They drop their stuff in the sand and lay out two towels, weighing down the corners. Cas starts to head to the water and stops abruptly, turning back and holding out his hand with a smile. Dean takes his hand and threads their fingers together, letting Cas lead them down to the water. They stop at the edge of the shore, letting the water tickle their toes, and Dean looks over to see Cas looking out over the water with a serene expression, and he vaguely wonders if Cas is like this everywhere he goes. Just immersed in the newness of each place, content to simply be , without worrying where he'd go or what he'd do next. Dean kind of envies it.

The beach is mostly deserted, save for a few other couples and a young boy, maybe 3 or 4 years old, digging in the sand with a shovel a few feet away from the water while his parents look on from their seats. Dean catches Cas looking at him a few times and the kid seems equally interested in them, but he makes no move to reach out to them.

Dean watches him with an odd sense of envy. He didn’t have the worst childhood in the world, but he didn’t exactly have the best either. When Mary Winchester died, his childhood died with her. Forced to grow up faster than any kid should have to, he had helped raise Sammy as their dad moved them from motel to motel. Never settling, never able to just be kids . Certainly never going to a beach to dig in the sand, carefree and happy.

Dean looks back at Cas, at his gentle smile, and thinks this man would make a far better dad than John Winchester could ever hope to be. Dean clears his throat and looks out at the water. Now not only is he thinking of marriage, but now he’s got kids on the brain.

“So,” Dean says, squeezing Cas’s hand. “Sand castle or swimming? I didn’t think ahead, so we don’t have anything to build a sand castle with. But I bet one of these shops has some severely overpriced sand toys we can buy.”

Cas doesn't answer right away, first watching the kid build his own sandcastle- or rather, something that vaguely resembles a sandcastle- then looks back out over the ocean. His eyes scan the expanse before closing and he takes a deep breath, giving Dean’s hand a squeeze. He opens them again and turns to Dean, holding up a hand with that familiar sign.

“I love you.”

Dean huffs softly and pulls Cas in for a hug, pressing his face against Cas's neck and breathing in his scent.

“I love you too, Cas,” Dean says, voice muffled. They stay this way for a solid minute, and when Dean finally pulls away, he looks back at the water, then at Cas.

“Hey, let’s get some sunscreen on then go for a swim, kay?”

Cas smiles indulgently and nods. Dean knew Cas doesn’t necessarily need sunscreen, since the guy only seems to tan and never burn, but Dean would rather be safe than sorry.

They go back to their towel and Dean sets up the big umbrella they’d rented. He then sits, patting the towel beside him with a grin. “Lay down, gorgeous. I’ll make sure to get every inch.”

Cas rolls his eyes and lays down on his stomach, arms pillowing his head. Dean grins wider and squirts some of the sunscreen into his hand. They make the spray on kind now, but Dean purposely picked the lotion kind to have an excuse to rub all over his hot boyfriend.

He takes his time applying it, trying to ignore Cas's very intentional stretching and sighing, which is something Dean should have anticipated but definitely isn't complaining about. Cas takes the bottle from him and indicates for him to flip over, generously applying some to him too, and Dean's actually a little grateful that there are other people and a kid present because Cas definitely seems interested in a round two sooner rather than later.

They give the sunscreen some time to soak in, in which time Dean learns that Cas is about as patient as the three-year-old playing in the sand, complaining about how much sunscreen Dean had globbed on- which to be fair, had been quite a bit. Dean told him it wasn't all soaked in until the white had disappeared, and Cas is covered in a sheen of white for way longer than necessary.

After about a half hour though, when they're both decently sweaty from the blistering sun, they make their way back down the beach and wade slowly into the water, hand in hand.

It’s refreshingly cool, making goosebumps erupt across their skin as the water laps at their waists. Once it reaches their chests, Dean pulls Cas closer and kisses him deeply, passionately, letting his tongue explore despite whoever may be watching.

Cas is flushed when they break apart, grinning widely, and taps Dean on the cheek three times. “I love you, too,” Dean smiles, squeezing his hand underneath the water.

Most of their time in the water is spent with Dean watching, amused, as Cas splashes around like a child. Laughing silently, his wild hair soaked and sticking to his face, Cas plays in the water with a carefree attitude most adults can never even hope to possess.

A spray of cold water in his face breaks Dean from his trance and he wipes his eyes and blinks furiously to clear them, a grinning Cas coming into view a few feet away, hand poised to splash him again.

“Hey-!”

Cas’s nose wrinkles and the crinkles in the corners of his eyes reach almost to his hairline it seems as he grins Dean’s favorite gummy smile. A slow smile spreads across Dean’s face and he lowers his head, charging forward as quickly as the water will allow, getting only a glimpse of the half amused, half frightened look on Cas’s face as he tackles him into the water.

He immediately pulls them both back up seconds later, which is easily done since the water is mostly calm, and Cas sputters and spits out a mouthful of water and pushes Dean light-heartedly. Dean sinks down to chest height in the water and holds Cas around the waist as he wipes his eyes. Cas gives him a sly grin as he focuses on him again, sinking down in the water with Dean to crush their lips together, the taste of salt on both their lips.

They reluctantly pull away and Cas stares at him for a long time, ghosting the tips of his fingers over Dean’s throat. The sun shines behind him and Dean squints through his wet lashes, tightening his arms around Cas’s waist.

“Sing for me,” Cas signs randomly.

Dean blinks, furrowing his brow. “Sing? Cas, I-” he looks around shyly, despite knowing there are only a handful of people on the beach, none of which are close enough to hear him. “I don’t know...what, um. Why?”

“Because it’s beautiful here and being out here with you is perfect, and because it makes me want to sing or express something stronger than just words, but I-” Cas stops and drops his hands. Dean squeezes him around the middle and shakes his head, catching Cas’s eyes.

“I get it, Cas. Okay, fine. But you can’t make fun of me. Deal?”

Cas looks at him hopefully and nods, cupping his cheek and trailing his fingers down Dean’s stubble. Dean frowns and licks his lips, then reaches up and cards fingers through Cas’s hair, watching him as he considers what to sing, but weirdly, only one song seems to come to his mind. He goes with it, thinking it just...somehow fits.

Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo,

Here comes the sun, and I say,

It’s all right…”

He starts softly, with little rhythm, if he’s being honest, but Cas doesn’t seem to mind. He smiles softly and just watches him, mouthing the words slowly with him, a thumb stroking Dean’s neck encouragingly.

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter

Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo,

Here comes the sun, and I say,

It’s all right…”

Cas sighs softly and snuggles close, pressing his cheek to Dean’s, with only the sounds of Dean’s singing and the water rippling around them.

Even as the song eventually comes to an end, Dean keeps on humming to any tune that comes to mind. Cas seems happy with that, moving to rest his cheek on Dean’s shoulder. Dean, along with the soft current of the water, sways them gently back and forth.

“We should go dancing,” Dean murmurs into Cas’s hair, his fingers massaging his scalp. “Dinner and dancing. Like a real date. Somewhere with live music.”

Cas lifts his head and smiles shyly, face flushing at the thought of dancing in front of others. He nods, however, and slides his fingers over Dean’s cheek.

“Dunno how to dance,” Dean huffs a laugh, “but I suppose we can figure it out, together.”

Cas nods easily, eyes still trained on Dean’s face. It should be unsettling, the intensity with which Cas looks at him, but something about it is reassuring to Dean, grounds him, gives him support and confidence.

Dean clears his throat. “How ‘bout a little break? Go lay out, maybe grab some lunch. What do you say?”

Cas nods again and they wade slowly out of the water, Dean leading, Cas’s fingers entwined with his own. Dean looks back only when he feels a tug on his hand, after their back on hot sand. Cas lets go and wanders off to the side and Dean squints against the sun after him, holding up a hand to shield his eyes as he sees Cas slowly approach the little boy, whose sand castle looked to have been recently toppled. Cas waves tentatively at the parents, who seem largely unbothered, although Dean knows they’re keeping a close eye when he sees the mother sit up a little straighter in her seat.

Cas squats down next to the boy and holds out a hand, eventually lifting the boy’s own hand to shake when it appears the kid doesn’t understand. The little boy grins up at him and thrusts a shovel in his direction, and even from the horizontal angle that Dean is viewing them, he can see Cas is smiling his fucking unicorn smile, nose scrunch and all.

He helps the boy rebuild the small sandcastle, even going so far as to dig a moat around it and attempt to fill it with water, although it all just immediately seeps into the sand. The boy looks happy though, and the parents are smiling and talking amongst themselves, watching the two of them interact.

Cas is beautiful with kids. Dean is good with them, but it almost seems like Cas can understand them in a way most adults can’t. Like he speaks their language. Dean can interact with children fairly easily, especially since he basically raised Sammy. Cas is a natural, though. An innocent soul connecting with other innocents.

He smiles when Cas looks up, proud and happy with his little sandcastle, eyes shining so bright they put the crystal blue water to shame. “Looks awesome, baby,” he kneels beside him, poking at the tiny mote. “Need some crocodiles in here, though. Otherwise a mote isn’t much use.”

Cas and the boy blink and look around, and the boy settles on some tiny shells imbedded in the sand. He places them carefully inside the mote and grins up at Dean.

“Awesome,” Dean holds up hand. “Gimme five.” The boy giggles and slaps his small hand against Dean’s.

Cas looks over at Dean and smiles, and Dean smiles back, then looks back at the boy and gestures to their creation.

“Alright, buddy, we'll leave you to it. Be back a little later, okay?”

The boy nods and immediately goes back to building, and Dean takes Cas's hand as he stands, but he doesn't miss the longing look he gives the kid as they walk away. It's short-lived, though, because he smiles again and lays his head on Dean's shoulder as they walk back up to their spot on the beach.

“You're, uh. Good with them. Kids, I mean.” He inclines his head slightly as they walk, his cheek pressed to Cas's hair.

Cas smiles again as they reach their towels, then shrugs.

“I like kids,” he signs, then slips his shirt over his head.

Dean sighs at the loss of Cas’s magnificent chest and all that pretty skin. “Well, they seem to like you, too,” he smiles, shaking out his shirt. “You would’ve loved Sammy as a kid. Little dweeb. Had an ant farm and everything.”

Cas smiles and raises a brow. “Are you saying I’m a…dweeb?” Cas has to spell it out, then uses air quotes at the end, which is so fucking cute it’s not even funny.

“Yes,” Dean says easily, wrapping his arms around Cas’s waist and pulling him close. “But you’re my dweeb. My cute, hot, sex on legs dweeb.”

Cas huffs against his chest but hugs him back, pulling away after a moment and taking Dean’s hand. They decide to leave their towels and umbrella on the beach while they go in for lunch, since their spot is visible from their room anyway, and Cas leads them up the beach.

----

----

The rest of the day passes leisurely, and by late evening it feels like they’ve been there for days, despite it having only been little more than 24 hours. Dean’s laid across the bottom of the bed facing Cas, who’s sitting up against the headboard...a position that’s become sort of habitual for them, especially before bed, so that Cas can sign easily without having to contort himself awkwardly so Dean can see.

“So how are you feeling about going home?” Dean asks hesitantly, hoping Cas’s ease since being on vacation will help get more out of him than the shrug he usually gets when he asks him about his family.

Cas chews his lip. “A little nervous,” he signs slowly.

“Yeah?” Dean says gently, not wanting to push and scare Cas off, but also wanting Cas to open up a bit.

“My family can be difficult to deal with.”

“Mmm, most families are,” Dean wraps a hand around Cas’s ankle and squeezes. “What makes you nervous?”

Cas shrugs and presses his lips together. “Lot of things.”

Dean frowns and runs his hand up Cas’s surprisingly muscled calf. “Okay, name one.”

Cas’s hands remain in his lap, fidgeting and tugging on his clothes.

“Nervous about them meeting me?” Dean ventures a guess, squeezing the muscle, massaging the skin.

Cas shrugs again. “Somewhat.”

“It’s okay if they don’t like me,” Dean waves his other hand. “Most parents don’t.”

“My parents will like you,” Cas signs, nodding definitively. “It’s my big brothers I’m worried about. Gabriel described them mildly, but the truth is, they can be really terrible sometimes.”

Dean shrugs. “I can handle it.”

“You think that now.”

Dean scoffs and rolls his eyes, but the look on Cas’s face has him clearing his throat and deadpanning. “Okay, well...I’ll be cautious. Is there anything you’re looking forward to about visiting? How long has it been since you visited anyway?”

“Christmas last year,” Cas signs. “Before that, it was for Michael’s wedding, three years ago.”

“That’s...not a lot,” Dean says carefully. Dean’s family can grate on his nerves, too, but he can’t imagine going so long between seeing Sam and Bobby.

“It’s more than enough,” is Cas’s slightly bitter response.

“Well, they must miss you,” Dean tilts his head, fingers continuing to work over Cas’s leg. “I know I did.”

“They don’t miss me,” Cas rolls his eyes. “They just don’t like that they can’t control what I do.”

“You’re their brother, their son…” Dean murmurs. “I’m sure they care more than you let on.”

Cas looks like he wants to get angry, huffing and furrowing his brow, but he buries his face in his hands instead and rubs roughly over his eyes and temples.

“Don’t, please,” he signs, only clarifying- if one could call it that- when Dean looks at him curiously. “They’re my family. I love them, and they love me, but they’re stuck in the past and I can’t be there with them. I just want to see my family, but all they see is who I used to be.”

Dean does frown now, knowing full well he shouldn’t ask his next question but unable to stop himself. “What do you mean by that, Cas?”

“Dean, I’ve worked hard to get where I am now,” Cas signs exasperatedly. “My life since leaving them may not be glamorous or even comfortable but I’m happy because I have what I need, and what I want. I don’t need them reminding me of what I was before. It’s counter-productive.”

Dean slowly sits up, confusion written all over his face. “Cas, what-”

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” Cas pulls himself from Dean’s hand and climbs off the bed before disappearing into the bathroom. Dean is left sitting, staring at the spot Cas had been occupying, and wondering how much he really knows about the man he loves.

Chapter Text

There’s no sex on the balcony and dinner is quiet. Dean tries to make conversation, but Cas is closed up. Dean doesn’t want to take it personally, because sometimes Cas just gets like this; distant and unresponsive. Dean decides to do what he always does and wait it out, and in the meanwhile taking care of any minor task that needs doing. Which isn’t much in a hotel, aside from putting their trays in the hallway and letting Cas shower first. It’s easier at home, because Dean can cook them something and clean all the dishes, and just generally dote over Cas until that distance fades and they’re back to normal.

Now, however, he’s stuck piddling around the room while listening to the spray of the shower. Eventually Dean tires of pacing and opens up the balcony doors, leaning on the railing as he stares out at the ocean. It’s beautiful during the day, but breathtaking at night. The waves are dark except where the moonlight shines, and it reflects the night sky in a way that no artist could ever recreate. Except maybe Cas, who seems to be able to capture anything with his camera.

Several minutes pass before Dean hears Cas approaching, but he doesn’t turn, unsure if Cas will actually join him or opt to go to bed. He’d seen Cas upset before, but it’s always worse when it has anything to do with his family. It’s hard to imagine them being as terrible as Cas makes them seem, especially when Gabriel is so good to him...but then, Cas never made the same claims about Gabriel that he does the rest of his family. Once Cas even went from angry about them, to intensely depressed, and he laid in bed all night, refusing to talk or really even look at Dean. When Dean hesitantly asked him about it the next day, Cas had brushed it off and said he just wasn’t feeling well, and Dean had been too afraid of it happening again to pry.

Cas does join him this time though, looping his arms around Dean’s waist and laying his head against the back of his shoulder, turning his head slightly to press a kiss there. An apology.

“I’m the one who’s sorry,” Dean says, clasping his hands together over the balcony and scanning the beach. “I shouldn’t have pushed it.”

Cas arms tighten around Dean’s waist and he kisses him again, a few across the line of his shoulder.

“Can you just…” Dean sighs and pushes himself up, one arm reaching behind him to press his palm to Cas’s bare back. He turns slowly, taking Cas’s head in his hands and looking him in the eyes, licking his lips quickly. “Can you promise me, that as soon as you’re able, as soon as you can talk about it-”

Cas is nodding before Dean finishes.

“I promise,” he signs.

“Good,” Dean kisses him, leaning back on the rail, his hands sliding down to the sides of Cas’s neck. “I’m gonna take a quick shower. Get all this salt off my skin. I swear I got sand in places sand should never go.”

Cas huffs a silent laugh and Dean makes quick work of his shower. He doesn’t bother with a towel as he steps out of the steamy bathroom, scrubbing at his damp hair.

“Much better,” Dean grunts, not looking up as he starts digging through the dresser for some boxer briefs.

When Dean turns, though, Cas is kneeling at the edge of the bed, and he pulls at Dean’s hands. He smiles and pulls Dean’s lips to his own and they both sink into sheets, the boxers now lying on the floor, forgotten.

----

“So how’s the diner doing?”

“It’s alright, boss, you got nothin’ to worry about,” Benny drawls from the other end of the line, the sound of the grill sizzling in the background. “Business picked up a bit, but nothin’ we can’t handle. Had to send that new guy you hired home early a few times, actually, though that doesn’t have as much to do with lack of business as it does his fuckin’ up everything…”

Dean huffs. Of course, Alfie hadn’t been his ideal fill-in for while he and Cas were on vacation, but he was one of the few who was available last minute for shitty pay. And now, almost a week into their vacation, Dean is feeling more relaxed than he ever has in his life, albeit a little guilty for basically just transferring his stress to his best friend.

“Aw, come on, he can’t be that bad-”

“Yesterday he broke four plates and spilled drinks on three customers,” Benny says blandly, and Dean winces.

“Well, we’ll be back soon enough. You and Charlie hang in there.” Dean grins when Benny makes a disapproving noise. “And Bobby? How’s he doin’?”

“Ah, well. He’s doin’ alright. But you really should go with him to his next appointment, cause that knee of his is givin’ him trouble and he’s actin’ like it ain’t nothin’-”

“Yeah, yeah,” Dean clicks his tongue and presses it to the back of his teeth. “I know…”

“Always up in that shop, halfa the time by himself, he gonna fall and hurt himself or worse, and the old curmudgeon won’t hear a goddamn word I haveta say-”

“He doesn’t listen anything anyone has to say,” Dean snorts and rubs at his eyes, then drops his hand to Cas’s hair, who’s dozing in his lap while Scooby Doo plays on the tv in the background.

“Yeah, well we might have to make him listen sooner rather than later,” Benny sighs. “He may not wanna hear it or accept it, but he’s gettin’ too old to be runnin’ a garage.”

“Yeah, that conversation’s gonna go real well,” Dean sighs, gazing down at Cas and smiling slightly. “I gotta go. I’ll try and talk some sense into Bobby when I get back.”

They hang up and Dean tosses his phone aside. Cas sniffles in his sleep and presses his face into Dean’s thigh.

“Ew, don’t rub your snot on me.”

There’s a pause then Cas furiously rubs his face into Dean’s thigh. Dean laughs and bends down to kiss Cas on the cheek.

“Little shit.”

Cas rolls to his back and stretches, blinking up at him and smiling. He takes Dean's hand and folds it over his own, laying them over his chest and fiddling idly with his fingers.

“Things at the diner seem to be going well,” Dean says, moving his other hand to card his fingers through his hair. “S’pose I should check in with Sam at some point today, see how school's going.”

Cas smiles up at him and lets go of his hand to sign. “You're a good brother.”

Dean snorts. “Yeah. He all but forgets about me when he's away.”

“That's not true.”

Dean shrugs. “Maybe. I mean, it's good, I guess. He's doin’ well for himself. Guess I'm just feeling a little unneeded.”

“I need you,” Cas signs.

“Yeah, right. You and I both know you don't need anyone.”

Cas purses his lips and huffs, taking Dean's hands and kissing them, blinking up at him with innocent blue eyes.

“Well, I guess you do need me,” he smirks down at Cas, wiggling his eyebrows. “Who else is gonna pose nude for you?”

Cas blushes and smiles, reaching up to trace Dean’s jaw. “Still up for it?” he signs.

Dean raises a brow. “Baby, you and I both know I can always get it up.”

Cas sighs heavily and rolls his eyes, looking up at Dean with a bemused expression.

“Yeah, don’t worry,” Dean chuckles. “I’m not gonna flake on ya. Just, uh, maybe try to find an secluded spot for me. I don’t really wanna bare my ass to everyone on this island.”

“But it’s such a nice ass.”

Dean snorts. “Not nearly as nice as yours, though.”

Cas hides his face in Dean’s lap and defiantly shakes his head. Dean responds by smacking his very nice ass, earning a silent squawk and gasp.

“Alright, then. You all rested? Ready to go out?”

Cas looks pointedly down at his ruffled lounge clothes and frowns up at Dean, then pushes himself up and slides reluctantly off the bed, moving dramatically slow. The resort has several bars throughout, and Dean happened upon one earlier in the week that had karaoke and dancing, and since he’d mentioned going dancing sometime, he figured there wouldn’t be a better time than during their vacation.

Cas rifles through their drawers and turns back to Dean. “What should I wear?”

“Funny you should ask,” Dean says slyly, groaning as he leans over the bed and produces a bag from beside the nightstand. “While you were asleep earlier I ran down to pick up a few things, and- I know, I know, don’t look at me like that. I haven’t bought you anything in awhile, but I saw this shirt, and-” he pulls the button-up out, which is a brilliant blue that matches Cas’s eyes in low light. “Couldn’t help myself. Think of it as selfishness more than anything, if it makes you feel better. I just really want to see this on you.”

Cas stares at the shirt for a second then sighs, shaking his head good-naturedly as he grabs it. Without preamble, Cas chucks his wrinkled lounge shirt and slips his arms through the sleeve holes. He glances up to see Dean watching him intently and smiles, taking his time as he buttons up.

“Or we could just stay here,” Dean murmurs, eyes trained on the last bit of flesh he can see.

“We are not spending the entire vacation in this room,” Cas signs with a roll of his eyes. “You can fuck me when we get back.”

Dean pouts then crawls off the bed to find his own clothes, feeling eyes on him when he bends down. “Or maybe you’re gonna fuck me?” Dean chuckles, straightening.

Cas grins and crosses his arms over his chest, leaning up against the wall. Dean pulls on a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt, followed by a black and green plaid button-up of his own, leaving it hanging open. He looks to Cas and raises a brow.

“Well? What do you think?”

“I wouldn't be opposed to either,” Cas signs with a sly grin. “Semantics are the least of my worries.”

Dean rolls his eyes. “I meant the outfit, smartass.”

Cas laughs silently and pushes himself off the wall, wrapping his arms around Dean's waist and pressing a chaste kiss to his lips. Dean chases it, but Cas pulls away teasingly.

“Gonna assume that's approval.”

Cas smiles and nods, stepping back and offering his hand to Dean. Their fingers slotted together, the two leave the room and make their way leisurely to the bar. It’s only a few blocks away, so they take the time to walk, not really speaking and just enjoying each other’s company. The air is nice; a lot better than the winter wonderland they had waiting for them back home. Dean mostly enjoys it because he gets to see more of Cas’s legs and the dude has some very nice legs. Runner’s legs. Thick thighs, which grip his waist so perfectly when Dean is pounding into that perfect ass...

Dean has to stop his thoughts right there.

He lets Cas tug him along and when they get to the bar, he sees Cas’s face light up with excitement. Those blue eyes land on the karaoke stage and Dean immediately regrets the decision to come here.

“Absolutely not,” Dean says firmly when Cas turns to him with pleading eyes. “I’m not singin’ in front of all these people. I’ll sing for anytime you want, but only you .”

Cas pokes out his bottom lip and gives him that wide-eyed, puppy dog look. Luckily for Dean, as cute as Cas looks doing it, Dean got his fair share of puppy dog eyes from Sam, and he grew fairly resistant to its charms.

“Nuh uh. Not gonna happen.” Dean crosses his arms over his chest defiantly.

Cas tilts his head and reaches out, pulling Dean in by the waist and pressing their foreheads together, leaning in like he's going to kiss him but only teasing.

“I mean it, Cas,” Dean says, with little more confidence than he feels.

Cas noses up Dean's jaw and nips gently at his earlobe, eliciting a small gasp from the man whose resolve is very quickly diminishing. Cas trails his tongue down his neck and latches onto his pulse point, sucking gently.

Dean groans and raises a hand to card through that wild hair. Cas's hand barely brushes against his crotch, but it's enough to remind Dean of where they are.

“Dammit, Cas,” he bites out. “Maybe, okay? I'll think about it.”

Cas pulls away with a shit-eating grin and brushes fingers across Dean's cheek, clearly pleased with himself.

Dean glares at him without any real malice and Cas tugs him to a table near the stage. They order a few drinks and some appetizers and watch a few poor souls attempt to sing, some so drunk they’re mostly slurring. Some of it is just sad, but at least entertaining, and Dean tries not to think about getting up there himself. A couple of the singers, though, actually know how to carry a tune, and when one of them starts a slow song Dean turns to Cas with a smile.

“Wanna dance?” he asks, standing up and holding out his hand.

Cas smiles and takes it, letting Dean lead him out on the dance floor. Dean turns his hand palm out, letting Cas readjust and thread their fingers together, their free arms going around each other's waists. Dean tucks their hands against his chest and dips his head, pressing their foreheads together as they sway slowly to the music, to no particular beat.

“I love you,” he says quietly, and Cas responds by squeezing his hand three times. Cas's eyes are a little glazed from the alcohol, and Dean's rightfully buzzed himself, making the music sound muted and their steps feel particularly clumsy. He tries to let it distract him from the idea of dragging Cas to the bathroom and fucking him against the stall, but all it does is make him realize how little he cares about the lack of sanitation in such a scenario.

Cas seems to have the right idea, though, if how close he’s pressing to Dean is any indication. Cas is a tease when he’s sober and Dean is a little frightened to what lengths slightly buzzed Cas will go to. They’ve never really done the whole PDA thing except kisses and light touching, but Cas is pressed so close and seems to be purposefully rubbing himself against Dean.

“What are you doing?” Dean murmurs into his hair, grunting when they stumble again over their own feet. Cas just shrugs innocently, dislodging a hand to slide it down-

“Freeze, mister.”

Cas blinks and his hand pauses, just inches from Dean’s waistband. He looks up at Dean, his face completely impassive, but Dean can see the mischief in his eyes.

“Where do you think you’re goin’ with that hand of yours? We’re supposed to be dancing, like a respectable couple.”

Cas smiles softly and moves his hand back up to Dean's, though it does little to dissuade the anticipatory excitement. Dean tries to focus on anything other than his throbbing cock, reminding himself that no matter how badly he wanted to be inside Cas at that moment, their only lubricant is in the hotel room, and sex without it would be incredibly uncomfortable for both of them.

“You've done it now,” Dean whispers in an accusing tone, and Cas looks at him with about as much innocence as he can muster. “Now I'm standing in the middle of a dance floor in front of a bunch of people with an awkward boner. It's high school all over again.”

Cas gets a mischievous look in his eye and pulls back slightly, taking Dean's hand in his own and leading him through the crowd. Dean's thankful for the low light and the fact that no one seems to be paying particular attention to them, and it takes him a minute to realize that Cas is, in fact, leading him to the bathroom.

“Cas,” he hisses when Cas flings open the door and leads them inside, “what the hell are you-"

He stumbles backwards as Cas pushes him into a stall and closes it behind them, opening his mouth to speak again before Cas crashes into him, sealing their lips together, and despite himself, Dean groans into the kiss.

Cas fiddles with the button on Dean's pants, pulling away breathlessly as he pops it open and slides the zipper down, forcing the pants and underwear halfway down his thighs.

“Cas-"

He sucks in a sharp breath when Cas drops to his knees and takes him in his mouth, swirling his tongue around the head and promptly sinking down until it hits the back of his throat.

“Cas, Jesus ,” Dean grips Cas’s hair roughly and his hips buck of their own accord, his cock nudging the back of Cas’s throat with a little more force than what is probably comfortable. Cas doesn’t seem to mind, though, seems to like it actually. He grips Dean’s hips tightly, digging his fingers into his skin.

“Cas, baby, someone’s gonna-”

Cas drags his teeth gently over Dean’s cock and the argument dies in his throat as Dean tilts his head back, thumping against the partition of the stall. Dean resettles his feet, spreading his stance as wide as he can with his jeans locking his thighs. He glances down, watching Cas’s mouth stretch wide, hearing the wet slurping as Cas pulls off then sinks back down. It’s all a bit sloppy and uncoordinated, Cas’s movements more lustful than having any real finesse.

Between the buzz, the heat of Cas's mouth and the laving of his tongue, and the thrill of potentially being caught at any second, Dean is quickly approaching the brink of orgasm. Cas pulls almost all the way off and sinks back down again, gagging himself in the process but not letting it slow him down, and Dean lets his head fall back against the stall with a loud thunk . He fists the hair on the back of Cas’s head and juts his hips forward, letting his hand slide forward along Cas’s jaw, feeling the muscles there work to accommodate him. Cas looks up at him with wide blue eyes through dark lashes, and that's what easily pushes Dean over the edge.

He cants his hips forward and comes with a choked cry, his hands holding either side of Cas’s head, gripping and pulling slightly at his hair as he thrusts shallowly and sends spurts of hot cum down his gorgeous boyfriend’s throat.

Cas, of course, drinks it all up like the fucking sex kitten he is and Dean can’t believe Cas has never done this before he came along. Dude’s a natural, swallowing around Dean’s pulsing head, sucking it all down greedily until there isn’t a drop left. Dean shudders as Cas pulls off, the sound so wet it makes him blush. Cas’s lips are red, swollen, glistening with cum and spit as he drags in air.

“You’re so fuckin’ gorgeous,” Dean moans, grabs Cas’s jaw and pulls him, crashing their lips together in a rough and messy kiss. He tastes himself on Cas’s tongue and it’s salty, heady, and he loves that Cas was so eager to get him in his mouth. Cas kisses him back eagerly, nearly fucking Dean’s face with his tongue, grinding his crotch into Dean’s thigh.

Christ, ” Dean gasps as Cas pulls away to breathe. “What's gotten into you, babe?”

Cas huffs a laugh and rolls his eyes.

“You, if I'm lucky,” he signs with a grin, and Dean laughs and pulls him in for another kiss, more languid and romantic than the last despite the decidingly unromantic setting. Cas pulls away again and tucks Dean back into his underwear, pulling up his pants and rebuttoning and zipping them. He wraps his arms around Dean's waist, and Dean reaches up to brush his thumb across the flush on Cas’s cheeks.

“I believe you owe me a dance,” Cas pulls away to sign with a smug look on his face.

“Yeah, well, I was tryin’ to dance with you,” Dean scoffs. “But you insisted on gettin’ me all horny.”

“You make it very easy.”

“Ah, excuse me…?”

Dean freezes along with Cas, eyes widening comically. Dean swallows and clears his throat as he opens up the stall door to find a man standing there, looking very embarrassed.

“Can I, uh, get in there?” He nods towards the toilet and Dean nods jerkily.

“S-sorry,” he mumbles, grabbing Cas’s now sweaty hand and dragging him out of the bathroom.

“I think I need a drink now,” Dean huffs a laugh as they sit back down at their table.

“That was mortifying,” Cas signs anxiously.

Dean shrugs. “Well, baby, that’s the price you pay for exhibitionism.”

They finish out the evening, only leaving when they're both pleasantly drunk and their feet ache from dancing, Cas’s endeavor to get Dean to sing karaoke blessedly forgotten. Dean throws Cas’s arm around his neck as they walk down the street,  letting the guy lean heavily on him for the trip back to their hotel.

“Mighta had lil too mush there, Cas,” Dean slurs, snickering to himself. “Lookatchoo, needin’ me ta- hic! - carrya back totheroom…”

Cas’s head lolls over to look at him and he cracks up, silent laugh with nose scrunch and eye wrinkles. Suddenly he gets very serious and licks his lips, then wrenches himself out of Dean's grasp just in time to lurch to the side and fall to his knees, vomiting into the grass.

“...shit,” Dean mumbles, stumbling to his side as Cas retches again. Dean lays a hand on his back and rubs soothingly, and Cas coughs and spits, catching his breath. Dean is, of course,  more than used to overindulging, and it's easy for him to forget that others can't often hold their liquor as well as he can...especially Cas.

He waits patiently while Cas recovers, rubbing his back and whispering whatever bullshit comes to his mind that he'll remember none of the next day. Cas finally gets shakily to his feet, and Dean takes on most of his weight again, wrapping his arm firmly around his middle.

“Les’ get you back an’ in the bath, getchu some cold water an’ aspirin,” he drawls, a little annoyed with himself but unable to do anything about it now.

Dean settles Cas onto the bed once they’re back in the room and undresses the giggling lush. Well, Dean imagines it would be giggling judging by the shaking and wide grin. Once he has Cas naked, Dean stumbles into the bathroom and starts up the water. His head is blurry, but he’s eventually able to adjust the water to a comfortable temperature. As that’s filling up, Dean grabs a bottle of water from the mini bar and an aspirin from his bag.

“‘ere, baby,” he mumbles, helping Cas drink it down. “C’mon, les’ getchu in the bath…” Cas holds out his arms and Dean helps him to his feet, half carrying him into the bathroom. Carefully, with drunken movements, Dean lowers Cas into the bath.

“Feel like you’re gonna puke again?” Dean asks. Cas seems to think very hard about this then firmly shakes his head, smiling as he splashes at the water.

Dean nods absently, too worried about balancing himself on the edge of the tub to think about how fucking cute drunk Cas is. “Mkay, well imonna-”

He doesn't get far up off the edge of the tub before Cas is pulling his back with surprising strength given his current condition, and next thing Dean knows, he’s fully submerged in the steaming water, fully clothed,  and Cas is covering his own mouth with a hand to keep from blatantly laughing in his face.

“Dammit, Cas,” Dean mumbles grumpily, trying to get up and failing, finally just resolving to accept his fate.

Cas seems rather pleased with himself, poking at Dean’s legs hanging off the side of the tub. Dean grumbles and tries to at least sit up, but suddenly he has a naked Cas straddling his midsection. Dean blinks sluggishly, his drunk brain having a hard time keeping up, and glances up at Cas’s grinning face.

“Tryna drownme?” Dean slurs, trying and failing to get up once again, Cas’s weight is too much for his jelly arms.

Cas responds by bending and planting a wet, sloppy kiss on Dean’s lips. Well, he tries , but his aim is way off and he ends up just barely tonguing the corner of his mouth. Dean helps by grabbing his face and nudging him in the right direction.

Nothing about it is sexy. It’s...kind of gross, actually, even though both of them are so out of their minds they won’t find it in them to care until they look back on it. Cas loses interest pretty quickly...or rather, he becomes distracted quickly, which Dean figures is probably for the best. He’s way too plastered to get it up at this point and Cas needs to sleep it off, not to mention how seriously unattractive it is to try to have sex with someone who’s in constant danger of puking all over you.

The water is cold by the time Dean can get Cas bathed and back out of the tub, and he sheds his own soaked clothes and dries them both off. They brush their teeth and head to bed, after Cas attempts to pull him out on the balcony with a wicked grin and Dean, regrettably, has to insist that they sleep instead. It’s a good thing, because less than two minutes after laying down, Cas is already passed out flat on his back with his mouth hanging open, his head turned and half buried in the pillow. Dean snorts and collapses next to him, throwing an arm over his torso and pressing a kiss to his neck before quickly drifting off himself.

----

“Mornin’ sunshine.”

Cas groans and pulls the covers up to his neck, rolling over and throwing his pillow over his head, covering it with his arm.

“Yeah, I’ll bet your head fucking kills right now. Did we learn our lesson?”

Cas throws the pillow off and glares at him, expression softening only slightly when he sees that Dean’s sitting there with a mug of coffee, which he offers to him. Cas pulls himself up with shaky arms and props himself up, barely, against the headboard, taking the mug and wrapping both his hands around it as he takes a sip.

“So how’s your head?”

Cas grimaces and shrugs, the pounding behind his eyes too strong for him to move much.

“Thought so,” Dean huffs, placing some aspirin on the nightstand. “When you don’t feel like you’re gonna gag, take these.”

Cas nods slowly and for a few silent minutes they sit, Dean rubbing gently at whatever part of Cas he can reach and Cas slowly sipping his coffee. When the mug is empty, Cas sits it down with a sigh.

“I’m sorry,” he signs.

Dean’s eyebrows furrow. “For what?”

“For last night,” Cas bows his head, looking embarrassed. “Getting sick...dragging you into the tub-”

“Hey, wait a minute,” Dean leans forward and grasps Cas’s hands, squeezing them gently before releasing them. “That wasn’t your fault. I shouldn’t have let you drink so much. I just...wasn’t thinkin’.”

“I’m embarrassed.”

“Don’t be,” Dean insists, taking a sip of his own coffee. “We’ve all done stupid shit when we were drunk. I hitchhiked two states over because I got it in my head I could make it to Vegas overnight. Bobby had to come get me. Sam thought he could fly and jumped off the roof, broke his wrist in two places.” Dean shrugs. “You coulda done a lot worse than puke and get my clothes wet.”

Cas huffs, some color returning to his face along with his smile. He lets his head fall back against the headboard gently, massaging his temples.

“Here,” Dean hands him the aspirin, “go ahead and down ‘em. It’ll knock the headache out in the next half hour or so. The shakiness’ll subside after we get some food in you.”

Dean orders for them, light and easy stuff, and helps Cas eat...much to Cas’s annoyance. He eventually snatches his own fork, and Dean quickly eats his own breakfast.

“We were at that bar for so long, we never got to the beach to take your photos,” Dean snorts, rubbing a hand over his face. “Not that we were any kind of condition to take any good pictures. You could barely stand up.”

“Today then?” Cas signs, putting his tray aside. “If my head ever stops trying to get out of my skull.”

“Today sounds good.”

“Now, we’ll have to be careful, because technically it’s illegal-”

Dean turns his head to look at him so fast he practically gives himself whiplash. “Excuse me? I thought you said there were nude beaches here.”

Cas blushes and picks up his mug, looking down at it and tapping the side nervously with a finger.

Dean licks his lips slowly and stares hard at him as he turns his entire body toward him, pulling one knee up. “Cas?”

Cas huffs and hands Dean his mug. “There used to be,” he signs furiously, in such a frenzy to explain himself that Dean is thoroughly lost not far into his explanation and signals for him to slow down. Cas pinches the bridge of his nose briefly before continuing. “There were a few that were nude beaches around here, but they’ve since passed laws where it’s not allowed. I honestly didn’t know before we came, but when I was looking at some of the brochures to find one, it said none of them allowed it anymore-”

“Look, Cas, I’m all for being edgy and pushing limits, but I’m not trying to end up in a jail in the Bahamas.”

Cas drops his hands and sighs, but finally nods. He sits there for a moment, looking down at his hands, before getting excited again and looking back up at Dean, signing quickly again.

“Maybe just here in the room? For me?”

Dean groans dramatically and rolls his eyes, but looks back at Cas and smiles mischievously. “Okay, just for you. And only if you’re naked, too.”

Cas frowns at this. “You won’t be able to concentrate if I’m naked.”

“Right, cuz you’re gonna be completely professional with me naked and in our hotel room.”

“Yes,” Cas signs, though he doesn’t look too confident in that statement.

Dean snorts and shakes his head. “C’mon, it’ll be fun. Think of it as a challenge. Besides, if we’re both naked we can do some shots together. For the two of us.”

Cas stares long and hard at Dean before sighing, finally conceding with a single nod. “No funny business,” Cas signs firmly. “I want to make these good.”

Dean nods sincerely. “I won’t mess ‘em up, Cas. I’ll do exactly what you say.”

“Somehow I’m having a hard time believing you.”

“I’m sorry, what’s hard?”

Cas goes to answer and deadpans, and Dean laughs. “Okay, okay, seriously. I’ll be on my best behavior. Especially if you’re naked too.”

Cas smiles and leans in, pressing his lips softly to Dean’s. He pulls away to sign that he’s going to brush his teeth, and Dean tries to refrain from pulling him back down as Cas very deliberately climbs over him.

“Cock tease,” Dean mutters under his breath. He sighs and cleans up their trays before opening up the balcony doors to let some fresh air in. The room smells faintly of booze even though they never actually drank in there, which just tells Dean how drunk they were.

Dean looks down at the beaches and is a bit relieved to know he wouldn’t be naked on one now. Doing a photoshoot on a beach would’ve been pretty, but Dean thinks one in the hotel room is more intimate anyway. The room is gorgeous, he’d be more relaxed, and they wouldn’t have nature and onlookers to distract them.

Dean convinces Cas that the best thing for the hangover is to go to the beach and sweat out all the toxins from the night before, which he's not actually sure is true but it sounds legitimate enough that Cas buys it. They set up under the umbrella with their towels, both of them lying flat on their backs with sunglasses on that Dean picked up from them at one of the little shops in the hotel lobby.

Dean looks over at Cas, who looks like he doesn't have a care in the world, and smiles.

“You’re fucking gorgeous, you know that?”

Cas smiles softly at the sky, then turns on his side so he can sign. “You always say that.”

“Well, it's true.”

Cas holds up a very familiar sign, and it makes Dean's chest swell.

“I love you too, sweetheart.”

Cas closes his eyes again and Dean takes the opportunity to dig out his phone, snapping a quick picture. Cas cracks open an eyes, giving Dean a look that says he knows exactly what he just did, and shakes his head.

“What?” Dean shrugs, pocketing the phone. “You look too good, angel. I have sneak in pictures when I can.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“And yet you love me,” Dean says smugly. “So what’s that say about you?”

Cas smiles and turns to Dean. “Low standards?”

“Smartass,” Dean kicks sand at him. Cas calmly brushes it off. He turns to his stomach and lays, pillowing his head with his arms.

“So… only a few short weeks till the wedding,” Dean says hesitantly.

Cas doesn't respond, but he tenses slightly, breathing shallowly, like he's afraid to move a muscle.

“I just want you to know, no matter what happens, or what they may say…s’not gonna change my opinion of you,” he implores gently. “If you're worried about that at all.”

Cas relaxes marginally.

“And, you know, Gabe will be there. So that's something.”

Cas barely inclines his head.

“Just thinkin’... might be nice. Seeing your family after all this time. You may be surprised. I'm sure they'll be happy to see you.”

Cas sighs and pushes himself up, crossing his legs.

“Why are you so insistent about this?”

“What?”

“Wanting me to reconnect,” Cas signs. “Give them a chance. You don't even know them. So why?”

“They're your family , Cas.” Dean sits too, reaching out to lay a hand on Cas's knee. “It's just...I lost my mom young, and my dad just… left us. I can't imagine not wanting to take advantage of a family that actually wants you, when you have that opportunity.”

Cas drops his hands in his lap and looks out over the clear, calm water.

“Cas, I’m...I’m not sayin’ this to upset you,” Dean says quietly. “I just...I dunno, I just don’t want you to have any regrets. Maybe I’m wrong and they’re all douchebags, but I think they deserve a chance. Otherwise one day your mom and dad aren’t going to be there, and you’ll be left wondering...well, just wondering.”

Cas doesn’t respond and Dean sighs softly. He lays back down on his towel, hands pillowing his head, and blinks up at the sky. Eventually Cas settles back down too, and reaches over to take Dean’s hand. He squeezes three times and Dean squeezes back, and together they watch the waves lick the shore.

----

“I believe the deal was that I would agree to this if, and only if, you were naked as well.”

“Yes, well. Things change.”

Dean hums sits up on his knees in the middle of the bed, nonchalantly stroking himself as Cas attempts to adjust the camera. He smirks to himself while Cas fumbles awkwardly with it, despite the fact that being behind that camera is the most confident Dean’s ever seen him. Cas holds the camera up in front of his face and adjusts the lens, and Dean can see his ears turn bright red when the head of his cock pokes out of his hand, precum already beading at the head.

So Cas is a little shit, but two can play at that game.

“Fine,” Dean says, sitting back on his calves as he runs a hand lazily down his shaft. “Where do you want me?”

Cas lowers his camera, letting it dangle from the strap around his neck, and he swallows hard. He scrubs a hand down his face, as if trying to rid it of the redness, and motions around Dean before signing his instructions.

“Lay out, across the bed, on your back.”

Dean complies, and Cas motions toward the arm furthest from him.

“Move that arm above your head, curled inward slightly, make it look natural. Yes, good.” Cas moves around the bed to adjust his arm a little better, then around to the other side, and Dean smirks again as Cas tries not to focus on his blatant erection, moving some of the pristine white sheets up between his legs and draping it over his crotch, letting it taper off to the side. He moves Dean’s other arm back down, laying his hand over the part of the sheet that covers his cock, which is now curved up toward his stomach.

Cas moves back to the end of the bed and tilts his head, picks his camera up and looks through the lens, adjusting it slightly, then puts it down again. He scratches his chin and furrows his brow, then motions toward Dean, waving a finger back and forth. Of course, Dean doesn’t understand that, just giving him a puzzled look, so Cas walks back over to the side of the bed and adjusts the angle of Dean’s head. Dean reaches out to palm Cas’s crotch and Cas slaps his hand away, setting his jaw, and Dean sighs and moves the hand back where Cas originally staged it.

Cas moves back, lifts his camera, and starts snapping pictures. It’s surprisingly easy, posing for him. Maybe it’s because they’re in the room, but Dean feels mostly relaxed. He can feel the finest blush on his cheeks, especially when Cas gets closer or moves to a different spot on the room, thus reminding Dean that Cas is getting every possible angle. Dean is more or less comfortable with his body, except for his belly, which has gone a little soft from pies and burgers.

Cas stops, quite suddenly, and his camera goes slack around his neck. He stands, staring at Dean, then moves forward.

“Lie on your stomach,” Cas signs carefully. Dean complies, rolling over and twitching when his erection brushes against the sheets. Cas adjusts his head, so that he lays on his cheek, and moves his arms to rest easily above his head and on the pillow. Cas pauses, then moves the sheet down to rest just below the curve of Dean’s ass. Dean wiggles it for good measure, and gets a slap on his right cheek.

“Sorry, was I being...cheeky?” Dean smirks.

Cas sighs, long suffering and clearly done with Dean’s bullshit. Dean snorts a laugh.

Cas snaps a few more pictures, moving the sheet a few times, adjusting his arms and legs, and Dean spends the next ten minutes or so in this position as Cas works diligently around him. He’s actually a lot more focused and professional than Dean gave him credit for earlier, because although he’s interested- if the erection he’s trying to ignore is any indication- he’s still working just as meticulously as he would be with any other subjects.

After awhile, he turns Dean over again and poses him similarly to before, tapping Dean’s leg to get his attention before signing more instructions.

“Now I want you to plant your feet on the bed and raise your bottom half up-” he waves his hand as Dean tries to do so with the sheet covering his torso- “no, no sheet. So you raise up, where only the top part of your back and shoulders is touching- yes, exactly like that. Perfect.”

Dean grunts. “First of all, there’s no way I can stay like this. And second, I don’t want people seeing my junk-”

“Trust me, those are only for me,” Cas signs. “And anyway, most of these will be taken at an angle where people won’t see, so don’t worry. Take breaks when you need to. I’m in no rush- believe me.”

Dean huffs and raises up, and Cas takes a ton of pictures, the shutter clicking furiously. He taps Dean’s knee again and Dean looks at him.

“Don’t forget to breathe. Holding your breath makes you look tense and it shows in the pictures. Try to relax.”

Dean rolls his eyes. “Oh, I’m sorry , I didn’t realize I had to be in great shape to be a model for my own boyfriend. I’m struggling here, Cas.”

“Just relax,” Cas signs again. “You’re perfect the way you are. Don’t have to suck it in or anything like that.” He pauses and tilts this head. “I ride you all the time. Think about thrusting up into me.”

Jesus , Cas,” Dean coughs, blushing heavily now. The image helps, though, and Dean relaxes marginally. He works on breathing steadily, falling back down onto the bed when he needs to rest. Cas snaps away, uncaring of what position Dean is in. Dean licks his lips and thrusts back up, holding it and breathing with some ease now.

Finally, Cas signals he can drop down. Dean does so with a sigh and lets Cas rearrange his legs, bending one and splaying it out on the mattress. The other one he hikes up to, Dean’s foot flat on the bed, and spreads it out some. The position gives Cas a full view of, well, everything and Dean is very glad these are just for him.

Cas snaps a few more and moves around the bed, getting some from other angles that don’t logically make sense to Dean, but he’s sure they’re going to come out really interesting and creative, because Cas really does have a good eye for that kind of thing.

The sound of the shutter stops and after a moment of silence Dean looks up at him curiously, but Cas is just messing with the settings on his camera again, frowning at the screen. Dean bites his lip and flips over, crawling slowly to Cas’s side of the bed and dipping his head to mouth along his slightly hard cock through his pants, and Cas jumps, almost dropping his camera. He looks down, mouth hanging open, tongue pressed to the back of his teeth, and cants his hips forward.

Dean takes that as permission to keep going and unzips Cas’s pants, popping the button open to let his cock spring free. It’s rapidly hardening and bumps against Dean’s cheek as he noses along the side. Cas takes a shuddering breath and cups his jaw, stroking softly. Dean hums and nips at the base, then licks a wet strip all the way up to the head. It’s leaking already, smearing onto Dean’s lips as he kisses it.

Dean smirks when he hears the snap of the camera and opens wide, his tongue sliding out to lick obscenely at the head. He sinks down slowly, taking Cas in deep, inch by inch, all the while listening to the rapid clicks of the camera. He chuckles around Cas’s girth and sucks, dark curls tickling his nose as he takes Cas all the way in.

Cas sucks in a breath and runs a hand roughly through Dean’s hair, gripping it tightly in the back. Dean swallows around the head as Cas forces it to the back of his throat, and he moans at the taste of precum on his tongue as Cas pulls back. Dean looks up at him innocently through his lashes, sticking his tongue out to lave over the vein underneath his cock, and Cas raises the camera with shaky hands and snaps a few pictures.

Dean pulls completely off and takes a harsh breath, rocking back on his hands and knees and arching his back, his voice rough. “You wanna fuck me, Cas?”

Cas licks his lips and swallows from behind the camera, shutter clicking incessantly despite his lack of composure and swollen cock. Dean smirks and reaches over to grab the bottle of lube, watching Cas the whole time. He crawls over on his hands and knees, holding tightly to Cas’s waist as he balances on his knees in front of him and presses their bodies together, their cocks brushing. Cas lowers the camera slowly and Dean runs a thumb over his lips, then presses the bottle into one of his hands. He sits back on his calves and cocks a brow, running the tip of his finger from the base of Cas’s cock down to the slickened head.

“Gimme what you got, big boy.”

Cas huffs and slaps Dean’s hand away. He pushes hard on Dean’s chest, making him fall backwards onto the bed with a little bit of a bounce. Dean grunts, the wind knocked out of him, but he doesn’t have much time to recover. Cas is grabbing his legs and pulling , and Dean goes sliding across the sheets towards the edge of the bed. Cas spreads his legs apart, standing in between them, and gives Dean a look.

Stay.

Dean swallows and nods, wrapping his legs around Cas’s waist and shivering as denim scraps against his skin. Cas pops the cap of the lube open, pours a generous amount onto his fingers, and reaches down. Dean twitches when a slick finger skims his rim then suddenly plunges inside, down to the knuckle. Dean groans and arches, digging his fingers into the sheets as Cas impatiently pumps his finger in and out, stretching those tight muscles he wants desperately to be buried in.

“Gonna fuck me nice and good, Cas?” Dean taunts, wiggling his hips, arching slightly when Cas plunges a second finger inside. His camera still bounces around his neck with each subtle movement, and Dean grins wickedly. “Gonna make me famous, mister picture man? Bet you'll make good money with those, once everyone sees how well you stretch me open-"

He gasps when Cas crooks his fingers upward and they brush against his prostate, cutting off the words in his throat. Cas bites his lip as he adds a third finger, laying his free hand flat on Dean's lower stomach.

“How do you want me, Mr. Novak?” Dean asks with faux innocence, grasping at the sheets around him, pushing down on Cas's fingers.

Cas answers him with a loud slap across the back of his thigh, and Dean gasps and jerks with a shudder. “H-have I been that bad?” he asks, voice trembling with barely contained excitement. He doesn’t know where this side of Cas comes from and he hasn’t seen it since he was thoroughly fucked on the kitchen table, but Dean can’t deny he likes it. Cas motions for him to turn over and Dean obliges, humming as Cas reinserts his fingers and crooks them downward this time.

Cas slaps him again and Dean hisses at the sting on his cheeks. His cock is throbbing, hanging heavy between his legs, and his hole clenches around the thick fingers moving inside him. Dean lowers his upper half to the bed, pitting his ass way in the air, and reaches down to stroke himself.

Cas quickly grabs his wrist with his free hand and pins it against his back, putting enough weight on Dean to push his face into the mattress. Dean struggles lightly against him, but not with any intention of actually pulling away...more because he enjoys how it feels, knowing he’s at Cas’s complete mercy. He doesn’t get this Cas that often, and while Dean loves sweet, shy, borderline innocent Cas, sometimes he just really enjoys being dominated, and Cas is surprisingly good at it.

“Ahhh, fuck , Cas,” Dean groans, rocking back as much as he can on Cas’s fingers. Another biting slap on his ass causes him to gasp and arch, his leg muscles shaking as he relaxes again. Cas slows the movement of his fingers and squeezes Dean’s wrist hard, then lets go. Dean doesn’t dare move, but he grins slightly when he hears the shutter clicking again from behind him.

“Like what you see, Mr. Novak ?” Dean asks cheekily. Cas, of course, doesn’t answer, but a second later he’s pushing inside, gripping Dean’s thigh as he stretches him open, and Dean groans and presses his forehead against the mattress as he hears Cas documenting every agonizing second it takes to him to completely bury himself.

Dean tries to rock back, but Cas is holding tightly, his fingers digging into the skin of Dean’s thigh. He hears Cas choke back a gasp when he tightens around his cock, earning another slap on his ass. Dean chuckles breathlessly and licks his lips.

“Maybe if you’d fuck me,” Dean grunts, “I wouldn’t have to tease you so- oh!” He cries out and arches as Cas thrusts sharply, the zipper of his fly scraping against the skin of Dean’s ass, and hits deep inside. Dean groans and wants to push up, back, but Cas is keeping him pinned with surprising strength.

Cas starts a slow, hard pace. Each thrust seems to go deeper as he throws his weight into it, and Dean has to keep a grip on the sheets to keep from sliding. The head of Cas’s cock drags along his prostate deliciously and has Dean’s thighs quivering with anticipation, his own cock swollen and bordering on painful.

He only hears the clicking of the shutter a few more times before Cas pauses and slips the camera over his head, sitting it on the bed beside them. He grips Dean’s hips, fingers splayed across his skin, and resumes his pace. It’s not slow, but definitely not as desperate as Cas usually is when he’s like this, and this way Dean can actually feel the progression of his orgasm building low in his belly. Dean’s mouth falls open with a low moan and he presses his forehead to the mattress, rocking back and forth slightly as Cas slides in deep and pulls out again. His cock twitches dramatically between his legs and he lets out a sharp breath, then takes another shaky one.

Fuck, gonna come on that pretty cock, baby,” Dean grits out. “God, Cas, gonna make me come without even touching my dick… c’mon, baby... god, I’m so close…”

Cas slides his hands up and around to lay flat against Dean’s chest, gently pulling him up toward him. Dean willingly goes, sitting up on his knees, letting Cas adjust behind him so he slides back down on his cock. Cas wraps his arms around Dean’s waist and continues his slow thrusts, and Dean looks down as his own cock bobs between his legs, the head slick and steadily leaking.

He moves an arm up and back to wrap around Cas’s neck, and Cas brings his chin to rest on Dean’s shoulder, looking down at his swollen cock in awe.

“Oh, so you wanna watch me, huh, baby?” Dean says breathlessly, smirking. “You wanna see yourself fuck the spunk outta me, don’t you?”

Cas closes his lips around the spot between his neck and shoulder in response, sucking gently, and Dean moans again. He’s on the precipice, like an itch he can’t scratch, his orgasm just blatantly teasing him now.

But then Cas comes, stilling inside him, warmth filling him and spreading, and Cas breathes shakily against his neck, hot air tickling his skin. His fingers flex across Dean’s torso and he pushes in as deep as he can, his cock twitching as it empties inside him.

It’s all so much, so intimate, and Dean follows with a choked cry and subsequent stuttered breath, the first jet of cum punched out of him as Cas pushes inside. The rest follows in lazy, forceless pumps, soaking the reddened head of his cock and dripping down onto the sheets.

It’s a good thing Cas has his arms around Dean, otherwise he would have collapsed onto the bed. Dean’s thighs tremble with the aftershocks and he leans heavily on Cas’s strength. Cas is pressed against him tightly, his arms locking them together as he showers Dean’s shoulders with kisses and nibbles.

“Fuck,” Dean sighs, leaning his head neck on Cas’s shoulder. “You’re so fucking good, baby. Love the way you pound into me.” He can feel Cas smile against his skin and reaches behind to rub his fingers through all that crazy hair. “Hope you got some good pictures out of it.” Cas nods and squeezes his thigh, his hips, and runs his hand across Dean’s stomach.

Dean practically collapses with a sigh when Cas pulls back, tucking away his softening cock. Dean presses his forehead to the mattress and works to catch his breath, then pushes himself up onto his hands and knees and arches his back, cracking joints and stretching muscles. His thighs are still a little shaky and he knows they’ll be sore tomorrow like he’d completed a workout, but overall he just feels...good.

Cas adjusts the collar of his shirt and stops, laying a hand on Dean’s sore ass and clicking his tongue. Dean drops back down to his elbows, laying his forehead against the bed again, and he lolls his head to the side and looks back at Cas.

“What? Somethin’ wrong?”

He holds up a finger and disappears into the bathroom, coming back with a bottle of lotion. Dean scoffs but doesn’t argue when Cas insists on putting some on, partly because it feels good but mostly because the guy wouldn’t take no for an answer, anyway.

He slides off the bed afterward and begins to redress himself while Cas washes his hands, then he returns and turns on his camera and starts cycling through the pictures. Dean shuffles closer as he buttons up his plaid, looking over his shoulder.

Dean would blush at seeing himself so...exposed, but he’s too fucked out to really care at the moment. “I can’t believe you made porn artistic,” he chuckles, resting his chin on Cas’s shoulder. “How do you even do that?”

The first 100 pictures or so are tasteful, with only a few truly dirty ones thrown in purely for their own pleasure. Cas caught some good angles, making Dean look like a real model instead of just some naked dude.

“Ah, there’s the porn,” Dean smirks as Cas flips through the second half, and it’s odd seeing himself from these angles. Cas stretching him, teasing him, and finally lining up that fat cock and pushing inside. Most of these shots are steady, but there are a few where Cas clearly lost his composure and the picture turned out a little blurry. Which Dean just finds very flattering, because that means he had Cas so hard up he couldn’t even hold his camera straight.

“And Gabriel calls himself the professional,” Dean scoffs light- heartedly, pressing a kiss to Cas's cheek. Cas grins shyly and shakes his head, cutting the camera off and sitting it to the side. Dean sits on the edge of the bed and pulls Cas in by his waist, grabbing the back of his neck and pulling him down to crush their lips together. He eventually ends up straddling his lap as the kiss deepens.

The rest of the night consists of the two of them barely leaving their bed, clothes littering the floor, and the two of them so sore they can barely move the next day.

Chapter Text

The rest of their time in Nassau flies by quicker than it has any right to, and it isn't long before they're back on the plane. Dean would be more freaked out by the flight if he wasn't so worried about Cas, whose mood seemed to shift dramatically as soon as they set foot in the airport.

“What is it, babe?” he asks gently, but Cas just shakes his head, waving him off. “Come on… don't do this again. Talk to me. You get me worried when you're all dismissive like this, like you're gonna leave-"

Cas turns quickly to him, eyes wide, laying a hand on his shoulder and shaking his head.

Dean sighs. “I know you say you won't, but Cas...I didn't expect it last time either. So seeing you like this… just gets me nervous, is all.”

The corners of Cas's eyes are downturned like they get whenever they have this conversation, which Dean thinks is because of his guilt, but he can't shake the feeling that there's so much more to it.

“Just back to reality,” Cas finally signs.

But in even the short amount of time he's spent with Cas, he knows what that means. Cas says more with his expressions and moods than most people do with words. “Closer to that dreaded visit, is that it?”

Cas looks earnestly at him, and his tensed shoulders finally relax before he signs, “Yeah.”

“It’s gonna be okay, baby,” Dean says gently, laying a hand on Cas’s thigh. “I’m gonna be there with you. Whatever happens, whatever you think they’re gonna say...I’m gonna be right there. And you know what?” He kisses Cas on the cheek. “If it gets too rough, and they start actin’ like jackasses, you just say the word and we’ll go. We’ll leave and I’ll never bother you about your family again.”

Cas swallows thickly and grips the back of Dean’s head, bringing him into a hard kiss. When they part, Cas bumps their foreheads together and taps Dean’s cheek three times.

“I love you too, angel,” Dean smiles. “It’s still a little ways away. Try not to think about so much, okay?”

Easier said than done, but Cas nods anyway and closes his eyes. He leans against Dean, holding his hand during turbulence because he knows Dean’s more afraid than he lets on. When they finally land, Dean is visibly more relaxed and almost kisses the car in the parking lot.

The ride back to the house is blessedly grounded, and they only stop long enough for Dean to run in and check on things at the diner. Benny, of course, ran it beautifully in his absence, and Dean finds it perfectly cleaned and stocked for his shift the next day.

Not even a half hour after they get home and unpack, they’re both sprawled out on the couch, exhausted from their travel. Dean pops in the new Beauty and the Beast - cause fuck yeah, Emma Watson- and Cas snuggles up to his side, engrossed in the movie. Dean cards fingers tenderly through his hair, and the next thing he knows, he wakes up to the DVD menu playing and Cas snoring softly by his ear. He groans as he moves to get up, his neck sore from the position he fell asleep in, gently moving Cas off him so he doesn’t wake. Dean turns the television off and locks the door, turns off all the lights, then wakes Cas just enough to get him to the bedroom, where they both immediately pass out again, Dean draped over Cas this time.

----

“Get a haircut and get a real job,

Clean your act up and don’t be a slob-”

Dean grabs blindly for his phone, swiping the front without looking and pressing it to his ear, his face half buried in his pillow.

“Sammy.”

“Hey, how was your trip?”

Dean groans and rolls to his back, squinting at the minimal sunlight streaming in through the window. “Trip was great. Flying was shitty. Travel sucks. Tired.”

“You just waking up?”

“Yeah, thanks to an annoying little brother who shall remain nameless,” Dean grumbles and buries his face into Cas’s shoulder, breathing in his warmth and musk.

“Excuse me for thinking you’d be up by 10 a.m.,” Sam snorts and Dean can almost feel the bitch face.

“College boys ain’t always right,” Dean kisses Cas’s neck. “Plane knocked us out. We passed out on the couch. Been dead to the world ever since.”

“What? Didn’t get enough sleep during your vacation?”

Dean smirks. “Nope. In fact, most of the time, I was putting that amazing bed to some real use.”

“Okay, stop,” Sam groans. “I don’t need to know this stuff.”

“Whatever, man, you asked,” Dean huffs and nibbles at Cas’s earlobe. Cas is out cold, snoring and oblivious to Dean’s attentions. “Shoulda known with all that free time I’d get up to some freaky shit with my sweetheart.”

“I’m hanging up.”

Dean smiles smugly when he hears a dial tone and tosses his phone aside to wrap his arms around Cas’s middle. He has a little while before he needs to get out of bed and he fully intends to use every second snuggling with Cas.

It takes a lot of attention before Cas stirs even a little, and even then it’s simply to throw an arm over Dean and press his face against his neck, pressing a lazy kiss there.

“Hey,” Dean says gently, brushing some hair of Cas’s forehead. “I have Charlie coming in today so you can relax, take some time for yourself. You need anything before I have to go?”

Cas opens one eye and looks at him, then shakes his head, tightening his hold on him and sliding his hand up to cup his face. He taps his cheek three times, and Dean smiles.

“I love you too, angel.”

Cas smiles back and closes his eyes again, sighing softly, his breath hot on Dean’s neck. Dean strokes his hair until his breathing evens out again, and he lays there for awhile reminiscing about their trip and what the future may hold for him and the beautiful man in his arms. He finally detaches himself when he can’t put off getting ready any longer, tucking Cas back in, smiling to himself when he pulls Dean’s pillow to his chest.

----

Despite all Benny’s claims of running the diner in Dean’s absence being no problem, he doesn’t think he’s ever seen his friend so excited to see him as he is when he walks in that morning. He grins widely from the window, throwing his apron off his neck and coming out to crush Dean in a bear hug, patting him on the back as he pulls away.

“‘S good to see you, boss,” Benny pats his cheek, then gestures toward the bar. “We did okay without ya, but we sure did miss ya.”

“You know, I missed you guys too, believe it or not,” Dean laughs.

“Of course you did!” Charlie pipes up from a table, grinning at Dean before looking back down and scribbling something on her notepad.

“Got some news for ya,” Benny says, barely containing his excitement. He looks around at the decently busy dining room and inclines his head toward the kitchen, and Dean follows him back, looking around warily.

“What?” he asks quietly, almost a whisper.

“Andrea had her first appointment yesterday,” Benny says, grin almost splitting his face. “I have some news.”

“It’s a girl,” Dean rolls his eyes, pulling his apron off a hook and tying it around his waist. “I told you, Benny, I know these things-”

“No, no, too early to find out the sexes-”

“Well, I’m telling you- wait. What?” Dean jerks his head back to Benny, raising his eyebrows. “You said-”

Benny nods, his grin getting impossibly wider. “Yeah, chief. We’re havin’ twins.”

“Holy shit!” Dean eyes widen and he holds his arms out by his sides, mouth hanging open. “Holy shit, Benny! C’mere!” He practically launches himself at his friend, both of them laughing and rocking back and forth as they hug. Finally they pull away, and Dean claps him on the shoulder, shaking his head.

“Shit, Benny,” Dean laughs, scrubbing a hand down his face. “When you do somethin’ you really do it well, huh?”

“Sure as hell do,” Benny chuckles, cheeks red with excitement. “‘Bout one of the only things I’m good at.”

“Hush up with that talk,” Dean shakes his head, fixing Benny with a firm look. “You’re one of the hardest working men I’ve known. You’re gonna be an awesome dad. Those are some lucky kids.”

Benny smiles a rare, shy grin and pats Dean on the shoulder. “Thank you, brother. You’re gonna make a good uncle.”

“Hell yeah I will,” Dean grins. “I’ll have their hair dyed before they start kindergarten.”

“Oh, good,” Benny snorts. “Sure Andrea will love that.”

“Get their ears pierced,” Dean continues. “Get them little nails painted. Ohhh, get those temporary tattoos. Your little ones will be rockin’ unicorns.”

Benny sighs and shakes his head.

“Alright, gimme the deets,” Charlie demands, her head popping up in the window. “I need all the smutty goodness.”

“Charlie-”

“You owe me, Winchester,” she points her pen at him. “I know, I know; he’s special blah blah blah. Just tell me how many times.”

“Dunno,” Dean grins wickedly. “Lost count.”

“Ugh,” Charlie rolls her eyes. “I hate you.”

“Got a little freaky with his camera, too,” Dean murmurs, earning raised brows from both Benny and Charlie.

“Really?” Charlie snorts. “Man...it’s always the quiet ones.”

“You have no idea,” Dean chuckles.

“So where is casanova today?” Charlie asks, batting her eyelashes at him.

“Sleeping in, if he knows what's good for him,” Dean grins, squirting some oil on the grill. He grabs the first ticket hanging in the window and squints at Charlie's messy scrawl, then throws a few slabs of bacon down. “He'll be in bright and early tomorrow.”

“Good. So he can give me all the juicy details."

Dean snorts. “As if he would. In fact, he'd hate that I told you anything at all, so do me a favor and don't mention it.”

Charlie clicks her tongue and her head disappears from view, bright red hair flowing behind her. Dean flips the bacon and cracks a couple eggs, tossing the shells in the trash and throwing a couple of pieces of toast in the toaster.

“So how was vacation anyway?” Benny asks nonchalantly, slicing oranges for garnish. “And hold the goo-goo eyes, if ya don't mind.”

Dean’s glad he's turned so his smile is hidden, and he sighs. “It was pretty incredible. Relaxing. Beautiful. And I actually got my ass on a plane, so that's something.”

“I can't remember a time when you ever took a real vacation,” Benny muses.

“Never had a reason to,” Dean shrugged. “But it felt good. Might make it a regular thing.”

“Uh huh,” Benny says knowingly. “I imagine blue eyes sticks around, you'll have more reasons, then?”

Dean ignores the insinuation that Cas might not, in fact, stick around, knowing that Benny hadn't meant it that way. He shrugs again, flipping the eggs and moving the bacon to a plate before turning to butter the toast. “Speaking of vacations, I will be taking a few days next month for a trip to Maine.”

“Maine?”

“Yeah,” Dean slathers the toast with a healthy amount of butter. “Cas's brother is getting married. He seemed...I dunno, antsy about going home. I offered to go with him.”

Benny whistles. “Meetin’ the family...and at a wedding, too. That’s a big step, brother. No slight thing, being a date at a wedding.”

Dean shrugs as he sets the plate in the window. “Well, Cas ain’t no slight thing. I’m serious about him, and he seemed to like the idea of having someone with him. Apparently him and his family don’t always get along.”

“Well, that’s most families for ya.”

Dean shakes his head and rubs his hand over his scruff. “Nah, I feel like there’s something more, but he ain’t spillin’. Whatever it is, it’s putting a big rift between him and them.”

Benny raises a brow. “Sure you wanna put yourself in the middle of all that?”

Dean waves his hand dismissively and starts another round of eggs. “I’m no stranger to family drama, Benny. If I’m serious about Cas, I gotta be by his side, even through the shitty parts.”

“How noble of ya.”

“Yeah, yeah, fuck off,” Dean mutters, scrambling the eggs on the grill with his spatula and sprinkling in salt and pepper. He glances up through the window to see Charlie taking a new table a couple of cups of coffee before pulling out her notepad to take their order.

“But really, though,” Benny starts slowly, and Dean can practically guess what he’s going to say before he actually says it, squaring his shoulders in anticipation. “I guess I’m just wonderin’, if he leaves again...brother, it hit you so hard the last time-”

“It’s not gonna happen like that again,” Dean says confidently. “Things are different now. I’m beginning to understand him a bit more. By some miracle he loves me, Benny, and Cas ain’t the type of guy to intentionally hurt anyone, anyway. I’m givin’ him his space, and so far he seems content with that. Whatever it is he’s got goin’ on, I...I don’t think it’s got anything to do with me.” He takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. “So I’ve just gotta be patient in the meantime, work on figurin’ him out myself.”

Benny doesn’t reply so much as he does grunt, and Dean knows he has his doubts. Of course, Dean has his doubts too. He doesn’t really know that Cas won’t leave, even as badly as he doesn’t want him to, even as honestly as Cas seems to be when he tells him he plans to stay.

He’s hit with the revelation that he can’t picture a time in the future without Cas. He pictures holidays together, the diner together, traveling together. He pictures them buying a house together. He can’t imagine doing anything without him, even knowing that one day, he may have to. He has fallen, hard and fast, and he doesn’t know how it happened or what it is about Cas that makes his heart beat out of his chest but he doesn’t care to consider any life without him in it.

Dean suddenly can’t wait to get home to him despite having just spent two whole weeks with the guy.

“I’m so screwed,” he mutters to himself. Benny hums in agreement beside him.

----

Later that evening, after sending Charlie and Benny home early, Dean is scraping off the last bit of gunk from the grill when he hears the bell jingle. He looks up and smiles when he sees Cas shuffle inside, sniffing slightly from the cold.

“Hey, sweetheart,” Dean nods at a covered plate on the counter. “I saved you some food. Should still be warm.”

Cas smiles his gummy smile and slides into a stool, immediately tucking into the meatloaf.

“Have a good day?” Dean calls from the window, looking up from his scrubbing to see Cas nod with his cheeks stuffed with food.

“Did you even eat today?” Dean raised a brow, already knowing the answer.

Cas shrugged a bit sheepishly, swallowing another big bite. Dean clicks his tongue and shakes his head. He can tell by the rosy cheeks, the slight sniffle, and the worse than normal windblown hair that Cas had probably spent the entire day in the park.

“Charlie has your Facebook page ready,” Dean continues, walking out of the kitchen to wipe down the tables. “Wants to go over with you before she publishes it.”

Cas looks up from his plate, chewing a large mouthful. He tries to smile but he just succeeds in looking like a really cute chipmunk, and Dean laughs and shakes his head, sliding the towel over the top of the bar.

“Looks real good,” he continues, straightening the caddies and ketchups on the bar and looking over at Cas. “You’ll be neck deep in business in no time. She used the picture of Baby for your cover photo. I hope that’s okay. Does me proud to see the picture up there...my beautiful car photographed by the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Cas blushes and balls up his napkin, quickly throwing it at Dean and motioning for him to stop. Dean grins and walks around the bar, and Cas swallows and gives him a faux annoyed look as Dean spins his stool around to face him. Dean throws the towel over his shoulder and leans in close, turning Cas until his back is against the bar, pressing their foreheads together. He slides his hands up Cas’s thighs, and smirks when he hears his breath hitch.

“I’d kiss you, but your breath smells like ketchup.”

Cas frowns and makes a disgusted noise, then pushes against Dean’s chest. Dean chuckles to himself and stumbles slightly back.

“I’m kidding! C’mere.”

Cas gives him a smile, the smallest traces of pink fading from his cheeks as Dean steps forward again and takes his face between his hands. He presses their lips together, soft and slow, his hands sliding down to his neck as he pulls away to press their foreheads together again.

“I missed you,” Dean murmurs, rubbing the pad of his thumb across Cas’s stubbled neck.

“Only been a day,” Cas pulls away to sign, smiling cheekily.

“Missed you within the first hour,” Dean snorts. “A whole day is like...forever.”

Cas huffs and rolls his eyes at Dean’s general ridiculousness, turning his stool back to finish his dinner. Dean presses a kiss to the back of his head and hums as he finishes cleaning up, singing whatever song that comes to mind. Cas seems to enjoy it, swaying in his seat and casually watching Dean as he pushes his empty plate aside.

“Ready, sunshine?”

Dean pops up next to him, apron gone, jacket pulled on. Cas nods and follows him out the door, waiting as Dean locks up.

When they get home, Cas immediately shimmies down to nothing but his boxers and heads for the shower. Dean chuckles and follows at a slower pace, taking his time getting undressed until Cas throws a loofah at him impatiently.

“Throwing things isn’t nice,” Dean clicks his tongue as he steps under the spray beside him. He douses the loofah in the spray and shakes it in Cas’s face, following him as he backs away before finally dropping it and pulling Cas back to him by his waist. Their lips meet, tongues tasting one another hungrily, and Cas smiles against Dean's lips when he pulls him back into the spray, his hands finding their way into wild dark hair.

Dean hums as he pulls away and squirts some shampoo into his hands, immediately lathering it into Cas's hair.

“Get any good shots today?” he asks, and Cas shrugs. “Ah, come on, now. I think you're just being modest.”

Cas grins and closes his eyes as the shampoo starts to run down his forehead, so Dean leans down to kiss him again.

“Show me later?”

Cas nods, and Dean finishes shampooing and moves him back under the spray, thoroughly rinsing his hair.

“I was thinking,” Dean says slowly, busying himself with lathering the loofah with body wash, “I would buy our tickets to Maine tomorrow.”

Cas tenses slightly, so Dean slides his hand down to his waist, giving him a squeeze.

“That is, as long as you haven't changed your mind…”

Cas forces a smile and signs: “Have you?”

“‘course not,” Dean shrugs, dragging the loofah slowly across Cas's chest. “We're in it together, baby. And you know I mean that, cause I'm getting on another one of those flying death traps for you.”

Cas stares at him a long while, giving Dean one of those looks that makes him believe Cas really can see his soul. It’s deep and intense and takes Dean’s breath away, his heart close to jumping right out of his chest. Just when he thinks he can’t take a second more, Cas blinks and breaks his gaze, looking down and grabbing Dean’s hand. The loofah falls to the tub floor with a wet splat as Cas tugs him forward, closing the small amount of distance between them.

Dean goes willingly, opening up immediately when their mouths crash together, and he lets Cas dominate, content to just enjoy it. Cas pushes him up against the tile wall and they stumble briefly, but that doesn’t slow Cas down any. He slots a wet thigh between Dean’s legs, hands gripping his waist tightly as their tongue slot together perfectly.

When the heated kiss ends, Dean is left breathless and flushed, his eyes glazed and his cock more than just a little interested in wherever this is headed.

“What, uh,” Dean clears his throat, grinning lazily. “What was that for?”

Cas pulls away just enough to sign: “You’re an amazing man.”

“I dunno ‘bout all that,” Dean shrugs, licking his swollen lips. “I do know that I love you and a little trip to Maine is nothin’ if it means makin’ you happy.”

Cas smiles and signs ‘I love you’, and Dean takes his hand and presses a kiss to the palm.

“And how about this time, I'll let you pack for both of us so I don't stress you out?”

Cas huffs and shakes his head incredulously with a half- hearted eyeroll. Dean grins and slides his hand up to the back of Cas's head and pulls him in for another heated kiss, this time dominating, claiming, his other arm looping around his waist and sliding down to palm his ass.

“Now come on, baby. I'm a dirty boy in need of a good scrub down.”

Cas blushes and grins, then picks up the loofah and adds more soap before beginning to wash him slowly, intimately, moving it along his shoulders and arms innocently. He moves lower, soaping his torso, then finally down to Dean's swelling cock, slicking it with soap and looking up at him wickedly through his eyelashes before beginning to stroke with his other hand.

Fuck .” Dean grunts and braces himself with a hand on Cas’s shoulder, and Cas looks quietly smug about his affect on his boyfriend. “You cocky little shit.”

Cas blinks at him innocently and twists his hand, squeezing the swollen head as he strokes up. Dean hisses and jerks his hips, the water and soap making Cas’s hand deliciously slick and smooth. Dean can’t take his eyes off it, watching Cas’s hand slide over his dick with confidence he most certainly did not possess only a few months earlier. Dean supposes he has himself to blame for that, letting Cas explore at his own pace, finding all those little spots that make Dean turn to jelly in his hand.

The loofah falls again, forgotten, and Cas uses his newly freed hand to reach between Dean’s thighs. His soapy, slippery hand slides up his inner thigh, over a cheek then between them, fingers nimbly teasing his hole.

Dean jerks, lip caught in his teeth as he holds back a loud groan, fingers digging into Cas’s shoulder. “Fuck, baby-” he shudders when a curious finger just barely dips inside, and he suddenly berates himself for not grabbing a damn bottle of lube on his way in here. And that hand on his cock is still going, squeezing and stroking just right, and Dean can’t decide what he wants more. Cas on his knees with his mouth full of cock, or himself up against the wall while Cas pounds into him.

Cas makes the decision for him, though, slowly turning him around into the spray to rinse him off, still stroking him lazily as the suds disappeared. When he was clean, he turned in Cas’s arms and took his face between his hands, moving them a step forward out of the spray as he brought their lips together.

When Cas finally pulls away, Dean’s breath hitches as he watches him sink to his knees, staring up at him through his dark lashes with those brilliant blue eyes. He opens his mouth a little wider than necessary and teases the head of Dean’s cock with his tongue, sliding his tongue over the underside. Those eyes are on him the whole time and Dean can’t fucking breathe, and he reaches out to brace himself against the wall with one hand, the other moving to touch the side of Cas’s face reverently.

Cas doesn’t close his eyes until he starts taking Dean in his mouth, and it happens slowly as he slides down. His hands come up to grip Dean’s thighs, and he somehow looks both innocent and peaceful, like it’s a hallowed act.

Jesus ,” Dean manages in a whisper, his thumb tracing the lips stretched around his girth, his legs already shaking. “ Fuck , so good, angel.”

Cas bottoms out and blinks up at Dean dazedly, hands sliding around to grab the meat of Dean’s ass and massaging it. He pulls the cheeks apart and dips his finger in, sliding down until it reaches the pucker hidden beneath. Dean groans and his cock twitches violently in Cas’s mouth, fingers sliding up into Cas’s wild hair.

“Cas…” Dean breathes, arching his back as Cas pulls up, dragging his teeth along Dean’s cock then releasing him with a wet pop . Cas dips his head to nuzzle the base, then parts his lips to suck Dean’s balls into his mouth.

“Fuckfuckfuck,” Dean squeezes his eyes shut, unable to look at the scene without blowing his load right then and there. The finger teasing his hole circles the rim, dipping inside just a little before retreating. Dean pants and his hips stutter with indecision, his cock throbbing and his ass clenching. Cas continues to tease his hole as he returns his attentions back to Dean’s cock, quickly taking him as deep as he can, choking a little when the head of his cock hits the back of his throat. He pulls almost all the way off before taking him in again, swallowing around the head, and Dean’s hips jerk slightly when he feels his throat constrict around him. Cas sets a steady pace then, bobbing his head and looking up at Dean with somewhat glassy eyes.

“Fuck,” Dean says again, trying hard not to stare past Cas’s face to the guy’s hard cock, curved upward between his legs. Dean closes his eyes and throws his head back, trying to focus on anything besides losing himself so soon in.

He opens his eyes a few seconds later, which proves to be a mistake, because Cas is still looking at him as he takes him deep in his mouth and strokes himself with his free hand, the other still teasing Dean’s rim.

“Oh, fuck, Cas, I’m gonna-”

His hips stutter and Cas pulls all the way off just in time for thick spurts of cum to decorate his wet face, his hands holding Dean’s hips in place. Some lands in his still-open mouth and across his lips, which he eagerly licks off, opening for more.

Dean grips the back of Cas’s head roughly, pulling at his hair, and watches as more of his cum lands on Cas’s outstretched tongue. Cas licks it up eagerly and Dean could almost come again just watching.

“Shit, baby, you look so damn good,” Dean pants out, his hand slacking in Cas’s hair and petting gently. “Fuckin’ gorgeous like this.”

Cas actually has the audacity to blush , even while Dean’s cum is still splattered across his face. Dean chuckles and helps Cas to his feet, batting his hand away to grip his cock and stroke his angel into orgasm. It doesn’t take much, a few whispered words in his ear and a couple of squeezes, and Cas is spilling into Dean’s hand with a silent moan.

“That’s it, sweetheart,” Dean murmurs as Cas leans on him heavily, panting into his neck as his hips jerk with each pulse of cum. It splatters across Dean’s stomach, running down his wet torso and down to his thighs.

Cas kisses his neck through his breathlessness, holding tightly to Dean’s middle to keep himself standing. Dean wraps his arms around Cas’s waist, and he can feel his muscles shaking as he comes down, which makes him feel more than just a little smug.

Dean moves them back into the spray and Cas instinctively closes his eyes as the water washes over him.

“As fucking gorgeous as you look like this,” Dean says, wiping the mess on his face away with his hands, the evidence of both their orgasms washing down the drain, “I believe we’re defeating the purpose of the shower. Damn shame, though.” He clicks his tongue, frowning skeptically as Cas steps forward enough to get his head out of the water and open his eyes. “Speaking of all that, though...where’d you learn that?”

Cas bites his lip and shrugs with a shy smile.

Dean cocks his head to the side, grinning devilishly. “Cas...have you been watching porn ?”

Cas’s cheeks redden and he actually has the nerve to look scandalized, shaking his head quickly and looking away. Dean grabs his chin and pulls his attention back to him, trying and failing to hide his smile.

“Cas.”

Cas looks him dead in the eye and shakes his head again.

“So if I get out of this shower and go fire up the laptop, I’m not gonna find porn on my browsing history.”

Cas gives a confident shake of his head.

Dean hums and lets go of Cas’s chin, standing up straight and rolling his shoulders back. “Alright, then.” Cas seems to relax slightly. “I’m gonna check, I hope you know.”

Cas’s gaze snaps back to him and his eyes widen comically, and Dean barks a laugh.

“I knew it! You naughty angel.” Dean pulls him out of the spray and quickly rinses himself the rest of the way off before turning off the water and turning back to Cas. He lays his hand on the small of Cas’s back and uses the other to cup his cheek, then presses a soft kiss to his lips, with a few scattered between his words. “Got everyone thinkin’...you’re this...soft, innocent little choirboy…”

He presses Cas against the cool tile wall and he feels the man shiver under him, reaching up with a hand to grip Dean’s forearm.

“But that’s not true, is it?” Dean gently bites Cas’s bottom lip and pulls, releasing before diving back in for another kiss, teasing the tip of Cas’s tongue with his own. “Not for me. You love being naughty for me.”

He molds his body to Cas’s and Cas shivers again, the fingers resting on his hip pressing into the meat, blunt nails digging in, the teasing pain enough to send a jolt through Dean’s body and give his cock a valiant twitch.

Dean hums and kisses up Cas’s neck until he reaches the ear, tugging on the lobe with his teeth. “I feel like I’ve corrupted you a little bit,” he chuckles, kissing back down his neck and biting down on his collar bone. Cas nods very seriously even while his breath hitches in his throat.

“I would say I’m sorry,” Dean continues, dipping his head to flick his tongue at a pert nipple. “But I’m really not.”

Cas smiles shyly and sighs as Dean pulls away, sharing one more lingering kiss before they finally step out of the shower. They dry off and pad into the living room, both falling onto the sofa naked with no intention of putting anything on. There was little point. Cas was rarely satisfied with just one go.

“Now, lets see what you’ve been watching while I work, hm?” Dean says teasingly, grabbing his laptop and booting it up. Cas’s eyes widen again and he makes a grab for it, but Dean ‘tsk’s and bats his hand away.

“No point in hiding it now, baby,” Dean chuckles. “Cat’s out. I wanna see what you’ve been learning .”

Cas huffs and covers his blushing face with his hands, rolling over onto his side and looking genuinely mortified, which just makes it all that funnier for Dean. He chuckles and slides his hand up Cas’s thigh innocently, giving his hip a squeeze.

Sure enough, a couple of days prior- while he was at work, according to the time stamp- Cas had been perusing Pornhub. Dean was a little surprised to see it wasn’t all gay porn, since he’d never considered the possibility that Cas may also be into women. He immediately feels guilty for assuming anything at all about Cas, but especially his preferences. Dean hadn’t been particularly noticing anyone else since he’d been with Cas, but he’d never seen Cas so much as spare anyone else a second glance.

The videos are kind of all over the place- straight, gay, threesomes, one double penetration, which Dean raises an eyebrow at- but the ones that really pique his interest are the multiple ones bordering and completely crossing the line into BDSM. It isn’t the really hardcore stuff, but the kind of things someone just starting out would enjoy. Blindfolds, restraint, spanking...that sort of thing.

Dean thinks back to the day in the kitchen and he scrapes his teeth over his bottom lip, trying to keep his expression neutral as he turns to face Cas.

“You been lookin’ this stuff up for awhile, Cas?”

Cas doesn’t look at him, but he shrugs.

Dean taps his hip gently. “You can tell me, baby. I’m sure as hell not gonna judge you.”

Cas doesn’t respond, mostly covering his face again, but Dean can see how red he is all the way down his neck. Dean sighs and sits the computer back on the table, taking Cas’s hand and tugging him up. Cas cuts his eyes warily over at him, and Dean motions him over with his other hand.

“C’mere.”

Cas slowly tucks himself against Dean’s side, their hands joined together in his lap. Dean drapes his arm around him and kisses the top of his head.

“So that day, in the kitchen, with the kilt...you like that sort of thing?”

Cas pauses, but finally nods.

“You like to be in control, or you want me to?”

Cas bites his lip and shifts uncomfortably, but Dean’s patient. He finally pulls away to sign.

“Both.”

Dean hums. “Really.”

Cas nods shyly.

“So just...dependin’ on the day, the mood-?”

Cas shrugs, looking down at their hands, running his thumb over one of Dean’s fingers. Dean lets him contemplate, watching every microexpression as he considers his answer.

“Sometimes,” he finally signs, “I feel like I don’t have control of my life, and I want to. And sometimes I just want someone to tell me how to do things, because I feel like I don’t know on my own.”

Interesting.

So Dean had...kind of always had Cas a little wrong. He is independent, but also a lot less sure than he originally pegged him for. Maybe part of him does want help, and he’s just unsure of how to ask for it. Part of him does want to be taken care of, with the full understanding that he can be doing it by himself.

“There are a lot of things I don’t have control over,” Cas continues thoughtfully, “and sometimes, I want to feel like I have that control. And sometimes, I want someone else to control things for me, so I don’t have to.”

“You didn't get all that from Kinkmen,” Dean murmurs absently, ghosting fingertips over Cas's arm.

Cas rolls his eyes and gives him a smile. “Those videos are grossly taking that kind of sex play at face value.”

Dean snorts. “Understatement.”

“I've read a lot about it,” Cas signs. “Just curiosity, at first, when I stumbled across one of the videos. But I think I want that, to an extent. Not all the time, but when…” he pauses, “when I feel like I need it.”

Dean ponders silently for several long moments, sliding his fingers up and down Cas’s arm before finally clearing his throat. “I gotta admit, this is new territory for me,” he says softly, turning to kiss the side of Cas’s head. “Not that I’ve never gotten a little kinky, you know. But, uh, never on the level of actual BDSM.”

Cas hastily raises his hands, no doubt to tell Dean they didn’t have to do anything, but Dean gently closes his palm over his fingers and shakes his head. “Hold on, baby,” he chuckles. “I wasn’t gonna say I didn’t wanna do this. Kinda the opposite actually. I was just sayin’...we’ll have to learn this together, okay?”

Cas presses his lips together, looking up at Dean carefully, before smiling shyly and nodding.

“Besides,” Dean continues with a small shrug. “This sort of stuff requires a lot of trust. I like that you trust me enough to want to try it.” He hums and grabs the laptop again, typing into the search engine.

“You know, there’s different levels to this stuff,” Dean scratches his cheek absently. “See, look...some do the whole Master thing. And uh, hm...some do it all the time. Like they make it their life, with collars and shit.”

Cas blinks at the screen, looking kind of adorable with the utter look of concentration on his face, before he shakes his head. “I don’t want that,” he signs. “I like how we are. Just us. I don’t want to change...us. How we are with each other.”

“Good,” Dean sighs, clearly relieved. “I don’t mind a little play every once and a while, but I don’t want it a part of our everyday lives either.”

“I was just thinking it could be when it's necessary. Because I really like what we have now, I just-" Cas pauses, biting his lip.

“You're looking for… comfort. When you feel out of control.”

Cas blinks at him and nods.

“So maybe just… we can take things slow. Kind of dip into it, try some things out, see what we like and don't like… what works and what doesn't. Go from there.” Dean quirks a smile and takes Cas's hand. “How's that sound?”

Cas relaxes noticeably and nods again, squeezing his hand three times.

Dean chuckles and kisses his forehead. “I love you too, angel.” He turns his attention back to the computer, clicking around on a few of the sites. “We can start small. Maybe a blindfold, or something like that.” He tilts his head, pressing his lips together. “Gonna have to have a lot of rules in place, too. For your safety, so I know I'm not hurting you.”

Cas raises a brow and taps Dean on the shoulder, a reminder of the now rarely used gesture that Dean had instructed Cas to use during sex if he ever felt uncomfortable.

“Yeah,” Dean nods, frowning slightly. “That might work sometimes, but if you’re tied up? We’ll have to use another system.” He rubs at his chin thoughtfully. “Think for now, until we think of something solid, we’ll keep bondage off the table. At least for you. Until I know you’re one hundred percent safe.”

Cas blinks at Dean, watching as he reads thoughtfully through the website, muttering to himself with eyebrows creased. When Dean glances up, he finds Cas smiling softly and grins in response.

“What?”

Cas shrugs and looks down at his lap. “Just...you’re taking this all very easy. I expected this to be more awkward.”

Dean snorts and pats Cas on the thigh, giving it a squeeze. “C’mon, baby, you know me better than that. I don’t embarrass too easy, especially when it comes to sex. And hell, if this is something you need sometimes then I’m all for it. Who knows? Maybe I need it, too, and don’t even realize it.”

Cas smiles again and slowly closes the laptop, moving it back to the table and shifting to his knees. He lowers himself onto Dean's lap in its place and loops his arms around his neck, bumping their foreheads together.

Dean hums and wraps his arms around his waist, lifting his head to press their lips together and pulling back slowly.

“Wanna give you everything you want,” he says softly. “Whatever it may be. Wanna keep you here with me.”

Cas huffs softly and closes his eyes.

“I mean it,” Dean murmurs. “I'm not-" he licks his lips and swallows, “I'm all in. For whatever that means to you. I know...I know we haven't been… this, for very long. But I also know what I want, and it's you. I don't… I've never… wanted anyone like this before. And I won't again, and I…” he clears his throat and looks up into too-blue eyes, “it scares me, sometimes, how in love with you I am. Because I also feel like I could lose it all, lose you, at any second.”

Cas opens his eyes and shakes his head slowly, pulling gently at the hair on the nape of Dean's neck.

“I don't want you to be scared,” Cas finally pulls away to sign. “You shouldn't be scared of being with me. I regret that I've made you feel that way.”

“I just mean-"

“I know,” Cas signs, “I know why. I understand. When I was gone, I wanted to be back with you every day. But I knew the way I left, what I did, was wrong, was unfair to you. I didn't expect you to take me back. I didn't deserve for you to take me back. But I had to try. And sometimes…” he paused, looking down, “there are times that I feel like I need to go again. But I also want to be here, with you. It's very confusing.” He huffs, his hands falling to rest on Dean's chest.

Dean grazes his lip with his teeth, sliding a finger over Cas’s knuckles, and sighs softly. “You know, Cas,” he murmurs, “Sometimes Benny and Charlie, Sam...hell, even Bobby, they...worry about this. Us. Me, I guess. I was so messed up when you left, and I ain’t sayin’ that to make you feel guilty. But I tell ‘em that when or if you do leave again, it will be different. ‘Cause I know you’ll come back to me. ‘Cause I like to think I understand you a little better now.”

He huffs and runs his free hand through his hair. “I guess what I’m sayin’ is I don’t want you to feel like you’re stuck here, okay? That vacation taught me a thing or two about you; one of them being that you love seeing new things. Traveling, getting all those experiences, pointin’ that camera at all the beautiful things most people miss. I would never want to take that away from you.” Dean chuckles dryly and shrugs. “Now me? I dunno...I guess I like stayin’ in one place. Dad dragged us everywhere and I just...fucking hated it, actually. But I never make you live that way. So if- when- you wanna go off on another adventure, I just ask that you tell me. Maybe let me give you a phone, so you can check in. And, uh, you know...promise that you come back.”

“I love you.”

Dean huffs and grabs Cas's hand, raising it to his lips. “I know, baby.” He kisses his hand and lays his hands on Cas's cheeks, pulling him in for another kiss. “I love you, too.”

Cas smiles Dean's favorite gummy smile, complete with eye crinkles and an adorable nose scrunch, then shifts pointedly in Dean's lap.

“Take me to bed,” Cas signs, and Dean immediately hauls them up off the couch and rushes to the bedroom.

----

“Babe, you gotta relax.”

Cas barely hears Dean, continuing his whirlwind around the room, throwing their clothes and other belongings into luggage. He turns and looks around, chewing a thumbnail nervously, brow furrowed in concentration. He disappears into the bathroom and returns a few minutes later with his arms full of toiletries, which he deposits on the bed before beginning to meticulously pack them into their toiletries bag.

“I was gonna take a shower-"

Dean clamps his mouth shut when Cas spins around and glares at him, and he waves a hand dismissively.

“Nevermind.”

Cas tears his gaze away and roughly shoves the bottles into the bag, and Dean sighs and sets his laptop to the side, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Hey.” He sits up in bed, patting the space next to him. “C’mere.”

Cas glances at him and goes back to packing, so Dean leans forward and grabs his hand, pulling gently.

“Come here for a sec,” he urges, and Cas's shoulders droop slightly, then he moves to sit stiffly next to Dean.

“First off,” Dean clears his throat and glances at the bags. “We don’t leave for another two days. And second…” he sighs and presses a kiss to Cas’s hand, squeezing it gently. “I’m the one that should be nervous. Gettin’ on another damn plane and all.”

Cas doesn’t seem to find any humor in Dean’s ramblings, frowning deeply at the half-packed bags as if they had personally insulted him.

“Baby,” Dean says softly. “I know you’re not looking forward to this. And I know this trip will most likely be...well, kinda terrible seeing as you don’t get along with your family. But I’m gonna be there, okay? We can get sloppy drunk at the wedding, make asses of ourselves, then go back to the hotel and have some crazy sex...or pass out. Whichever.”

“My brothers are going to be awful,” Cas signs worriedly.

Dean shrugs. “Yeah, well, whatever. I don’t care what they say or do to me. But if they mess with you, just gimme the word. I gotta killer right hook.”

Despite the stress over seeing his family, Cas managed to crack a small smile. “You would punch my brother?”

Dean shrugs again and grins. “Right in the face...or kick him in the balls. I’ll fight dirty. Whatever gets the job done.”

“My hero.”

“You know, it's amazing how I can hear your sarcasm through your signing.”

Cas grins and lays a hand briefly on Dean's cheek. His smile disappears almost as quickly and he drops his hands to his lap, fidgeting and chewing his lip.

“But speaking of the hotel,” Cas signs, avoiding Dean's eyes, “Mother insists that we stay with them. At the house.”

Dean frowns. “But...I mean, are you okay with that? We don't have to-"

“She won't take no for an answer. You'll understand when you meet Naomi.”

“She sounds like a real peach,” Dean mutters, trying not to pout at having to stay at the house and no doubt under Naomi’s careful watch.

“You have no idea,” Cas signs moodily. He huffs and crawls off the bed, resuming his chaotic packing. Dean rolls his eyes and figures there’s no stopping Cas when he’s like this.

“Babe, don’t forget to pack the lube and condoms,” Dean smirks when Cas actually stumbles, blushing furiously. “Mom’s house or not, I’m not a damn celibate and we’re there for a week.”

Cas glares at Dean, but does grab the box of condoms and bottle of lube, tossing them into Dean’s bag. Though the condoms were rarely used at this stage in their relationship. They were both clean, but maybe if Naomi dug through their bags- and Dean feels like she’s nosey enough to do so- and sees condoms, she might at least feel better that her son is having safe sex. Maybe. Probably not, but it makes Cas blush and that’s always fun.

“Your Facebook page is coming along nicely,” Dean says after a minute. “Was just lookin’ at it. Won't be long before you have a nice following, I'm sure. Especially once Charlie posts some more of your work.”

Cas shrugs and nods, folding a few of Dean's shirts and placing them carefully in their bag.

“You'll have more work than you can handle soon,” Dean continues, taking one of the shirts and folding it himself, adding it to the bag before grabbing another. “Be doin’ something you really wanna do, too.”

Cas sighs and drops his hands, looking over at him, still clutching a pair of pants.

Dean raises an eyebrow. “What?”

“Are you just trying to distract me?”

Dean quirks a smile and pointedly looks down at the shirt he's folding. “Depends on if it's working or not.”

He hears Cas shuck the pants into a bag and looks up, smiling when he sees Cas half-heartedly glaring at him. “So...it’s working then?”

Cas throws a balled up pair of socks at him and stalks back into the bathroom, probably to pack up the sink and bathtub because that’s all that’s left after Cas’s packing rampage. Dean shakes his head and almost wishes the next two days would pass quickly, because an anxious Cas can be hard to deal with at times.

Dean abandons packing his bag and steps into the bathroom, wrapping his arms around Cas’s waist and nuzzling his ear.

“Hey,” he murmurs, nipping at his neck. “Want me to distract you in another way?”

Cas seems to pause, considering this, then reluctantly nods. Dean smirks and tugs him back into the bedroom.

Works every time.

----

“I take it back, you’re going by yourself.”

Cas rolls his eyes as he drags Dean through the crowd, closer towards their gate and therefore the flying death machine Dean is currently hyperventilating about.

“You went on the plane for the vacation,” Cas signs when they come to a stop at gate A4.

“That’s because it was two weeks of awesome sex and beaches,” Dean grumbles as he plops into an empty seat. “This is a wedding, staying at your mother’s house, with very uncomfortable family drama.”

“Well, you love me, so you don’t have a choice,” Cas sits beside him, smirking slightly.

“Damn right I do,” Dean mumbles, sinking down in his seat and taking Cas's hand. “Wouldn't do this for anyone else.”

It's another hour before the plane boards, and they sit mostly in silence, Dean anxiously awaiting the flight and Cas nervously fidgeting. He hadn't slept well the last two days. Dean woke a few times in the middle of the night to find him up reading or watching tv or editing pictures when he should've been sleeping. He claimed he just wasn't tired, but Dean knew better.

When they’re settled into their seats Cas automatically takes Dean's hand, despite the fact that they'd only be taxiing for the next half hour or so. Dean appreciates the gesture though, and he gives him a resigned smile and squeezes his hand, lacing their fingers together and laying their hands in his lap.

The flight was blessedly short (at least shorter than the last one) and mostly uneventful save for the slight turbulence that Cas had to coax Dean through. When they landed, Dean was practically first off the plane and they both worked through the maze of the airport to get to baggage claim.

“Hey,” Dean suddenly piped up as they stood by the carousel, waiting for their bags to come around. “How we gettin’ there?”

“Gabriel,” Cas signs, his shoulders tense and his face pensive. He looks about as happy to be here as he would having a cactus stuck up his ass.

“Well, at least we like him,” Dean mutters, taking Cas’s hand and giving it a squeeze. Cas sighs and leans into him, resting cheek on his shoulder. It’s a small gesture, but one that makes Dean feel... good . Needed. Cas trusts him enough to depend on him, to get him through this week so they can go back home.

They both walk slowly through the terminal, neither of them really wanting to face the reality of finally being here and having to deal with the next week, especially without really knowing what to expect. They step outside to the curb and wordlessly watch people get into cars, embrace loved ones, a few of them crying. Dean leans against the building and lights a cigarette, one he feels he deserves after their flight and before dealing with Gabriel again, plus whatever is to come. Cas says nothing, which says more about what Dean should be expecting than anything Cas had already told him.

It's not Gabriel's Plymouth- that Dean is looking forward to- that pulls up at the curb, though. It's a small Kia instead, and Cas's face lights up almost as brightly as it had when Gabriel had come to visit.

A young, slight, pretty redhead emerges, and she gives a small squeak of excitement as she runs around her car. She launches herself into Cas's arms, throwing her arms around his neck and wrapping her legs around his waist. He stumbles only slightly, and when he spins her around Dean can see the grin still plastered on his face, which somehow helps to relax him a bit. He smiles to himself and takes another quick pull of his cigarette before snuffing it out with his shoe.

Cas sits the girl down and lays his hands on her cheeks, and she signs a “hello” to him, which makes him grin wider and give her another hug. He drapes an arm over her shoulders and pulls her over to Dean, gesturing between the two of them.

“This is my sister, Anael. Anael, this is my boyfriend, Dean.”

Dean tries not to look ridiculously pleased- or surprised- about Cas referring to him as his boyfriend in front of someone else, and Anael looks like she's trying to suppress her own similar feelings about it. Her brow momentarily furrows and she tilts her head, but she recovers quickly, wide grin splitting her face.

“Nice to meet you,” Dean says, half-heartedly sticking out a hand, but she practically launches herself into his arms too, and he lets her hug him for a moment before he composes himself enough to return it.

“I wish I could say I've heard a lot about you,” Anael says when she pulls away, throwing Cas a look, “but I'm afraid that I haven't had the opportunity to talk to Castiel in almost a year. When he disappears, he really disappears.” She turns her attention back to Dean. “That's your doing, I suppose?”

“Um.” Dean rubs the back of his neck. “The last couple of months, maybe. Before that, not so much.”

Cas blushes faintly and avoids eye contact, nudging Anael with his shoulder and signing to her.

“Should we go?”

“Oh, well...yeah, sure.” Anael shrugs and picks up one of their smaller bags, heading toward the car before Dean can object and take it back from her. Cas glances at him and gives him a quick smile and grabs a few more bags, taking them to the trunk. Dean shakes his head and takes his over too, and in just a few short moments, he’s in the backseat, Cas in the passenger’s seat, and Anael is pulling away from the curb.

They’re almost immediately stopped in traffic just before leaving the airport, and Anael turns to look at Cas.

“Have you been well?”

Dean can see even from the backseat that Cas’s shoulders are stiff, and he looks over at her and nods quickly, signing back.

“How have you been? I didn't think you were planning to come in for this.”

Anael shrugs, turning her attention back to the road when traffic begins to move. “I did have to miss almost a week of school, but my professors were understanding. I’ll have schoolwork to do while I’m here, of course. But when mom told me you’d be here, I didn’t want to miss my chance to see you.” She nods back toward Dean, smile pulling at the corners of her lips. “And she told me you were bringing someone. Had to see that for myself.”

Her eyes are back on the road now, so Cas doesn’t respond, instead looking out his window and tapping his fingers against his thigh.

“So, Dean,” Anael says suddenly, “what do you do?”

“I, uh. Run a little diner, back in Sioux Falls. Nothin’ special.”

“You run your own restaurant?”

Dean shrugs. “Restaurant is a stretch. More of a hole in the wall that I threw some tables and chairs in.”

“He's being modest,” he sees Cas sign, and he scoffs.

“I love small-town diners,” Anael smiles. “They have such character. And usually the best burgers you can get.”

“Well,” Dean clears his throat and fights back a smile. “I, uh, do make some pretty good burgers. I think Cas can vouch for that.”

“I did notice he looked a little meatier,” Anael giggled, reaching over to poke a blushing Cas on the stomach. “He doesn’t look like skin and bones anymore. You must be feeding him well.”

“Damn right,” Dean nods, crossing his arms over his chest. “Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t let him skip meals. Gets all the food groups: bacon, burgers, and waffles.”

“Coffee,” Cas signs.

“Oh, right. And coffee,” Dean agrees with a grin. “He can put a whole pot away by himself.”

“Oh, he’s awful about his damn coffee,” Anael scoffs and rolls her eyes. “But, he’s also a demon in the morning if he doesn’t get it, so...”

“Demon is one way of putting it,” Dean chuckles. “I prefer cute and grumpy.”

“I’m right here,” Cas signs with a huff.

“Sure are, sweetie,” Anael pats him on the arm. “So, Dean, any siblings?”

“Little brother,” Dean scratches at his cheek as he watches cars inch by. “Sam. College boy. Super smart. Freakishly tall with princess hair. Just got engaged on Christmas.”

Anael sighs dramatically. “Man, everyone’s getting married now.”

“Tell me about it,” Dean grumbles. “I think he’s too young. The girl’s great and all, but still...or I’m just being old and stubborn.”

“How old is he?”

“Twenty-two. First year of grad school.”

Anael looks over at Cas, who’s pointedly ignoring her gaze, and smiles. “Castiel’s age.”

Dean frowns, trying to remember if he and Cas even ever had a conversation in which their ages were discussed, and they must not have, because he doesn’t remember balking over the fact that his boyfriend is the same age as his brother. Not that it matters much, since Dean’s only a few years older anyway, but he’d definitely assumed that Cas was older.

“Uh, yeah. Yeah, I guess so.”

Anael hums and turns her attention back to the road, as they begin to pick up speed as the traffic dissipates. “So what is Sam in school for?”

“Law,” Dean grunts.

“Oh, really? Interesting. I’m down at Averett, in Virginia, for journalism. Second year.”

Anael goes off on a bit of a tangent after that, about school and the differences between living in Maine and Virginia, her friends, a guy that she’s interested in- something Cas didn’t seem particularly pleased about hearing- and Dean drifts in and out of her story, instead looking between the rising tension in Cas’s shoulders and the passing landscape outside. The sky is overcast and there’s a lot of brown and gray. The road is still lined with leftover ice and snow, blackened by dirt and pavement, and it looks like it could snow again at any moment. They pass a sign declaring the city to be Kennebunkport, and Dean vaguely considers ending up being stuck there if it snows heavily before he can leave. He hopes luck is on their side.

He’s not sure what he expects when they pull up to Castiel’s parents’ house, but it’s definitely not the large brick Victorian that looms above them, with gray-shingled asymmetrical roof lines and stained-glass windows lining what looked to be an actual fucking tower. The large stone steps lead up to a porch that wraps around the house and attaches to a gazebo on one side, partially- paned dual front doors, and varying sizes of white cast-iron planters with pops of color placed strategically about. The landscape is a little overwhelming, surely done professionally, with crisp lines in the grass and fresh mulch lining the flowerbeds.

Dean’s shamelessly ogling the place as he gets out of the car and Cas and Anael begin to grab their belongings out of the trunk, until he finally breaks his trance to help when he notices them struggling.

“Cas, you- you grew up in this place?”

Cas just shrugs, but Anael pipes up:

“Yep! Mom and dad have owned it since Luci was born. ‘Course, Cassie left when he was sixteen, so he didn’t get to enjoy it as long as the rest of us.”

Dean bites his lip, looking to Cas, expecting him to be blushing or frowning, but he just shakes his head and nudges Anael hard enough to make her drop one of their bags of clothes, and she giggles.

“What?!” she asks innocently, picking up the bag again. The three of them continue walking to the front door, Anael half-turning to them as she begins to ascend the steps. “It’s true. He just couldn’t stand to sit still any longer, or deal with Luci’s pompousness or my whining or dad’s indifference or mom’s constant nagging -”

“I thought we’d agreed not to scare Castiel’s friend away the very second he arrives, Anael,” comes an even voice, calm but commanding. Dean’s not sure how he hadn’t yet noticed the woman standing in the doorway with her arms crossed over her chest, the gray pantsuit, heels, and tight updo making her look more like a lawyer herself instead of the professor Cas had told him she was.

Anael snorts and continues her ascent without so much as a pause, stopping only to peck Naomi on the cheek before disappearing inside. “Sorry, mama.”

Naomi smiles stiffly after her and turns her attention back to Cas and Dean, blue eyes the same color as Cas’s, yet somehow cold instead of warm and inviting like his. She smiles at them, too, although it doesn’t reach her eyes.

“Castiel,” she greets him, pulling him in for a hug that’s as equally awkward on her side as it is his. She kisses his forehead when she pulls away, and he signs something to her that Dean can’t see.

“Of course,” she answers, “Dean.” She turns to him and clasps her hands together in front of her. “I’ve only heard what’s been passed on to me through Gabriel, since of course Castiel, as we all know, isn’t one to keep in touch often.” She smiles again and looks over at Cas. “That’s made all the more difficult when you don’t have a phone, you know. I do wish you’d let me give you one.”

Cas shakes his head and looks down at his feet, so Dean clears his throat and steps forward, holding out a hand.

“‘S nice to meet you,” he says, and after a beat Naomi takes it, shaking his hand limply.

“It’s...nice to meet you as well,” she says stiffly, letting his hand go and stepping back. “Come inside.”

Dean takes a deep breath and follows Cas inside, unable to help himself from ogling the inside of the huge house. It is just as beautiful, with hardwood floors that looked polished enough to do some serious sock sliding and a grand staircase leading up to the second floor. Dean is struck by how utterly perfect it all looks, everything spick and span and gleaming. It feels more like a museum than a home and Dean can’t really blame Cas for wanting to leave. It’s all very pretty, yes, but not exactly welcoming.

“Anael,” Naomi says as she closes the door. “Please go fetch Gabriel and have him help with these bags.”

“Oh, uh, I-I can get these,” Dean stammers. “I don’t wanna get in the way-”

“Nonsense,” Naomi waves her hand and Anael disappears upstairs. “He’s been up there all morning doing God only knows what. It’s no trouble putting him to work.”

“Oh...okay,” Dean mumbles, glancing at Cas who looked like he could be a statue for how still and stiff he was standing. Dean almost reaches for his hand, but stops himself last minute. He has no idea what Noami’s been told about their relationship and doesn’t want to make things any more tense than they already are.

“Cassie, Dean-o,” Gabriel smiles thinly, spreading his arms out as he descended the stairs. “Welcome to the frying pan. Has Mother Icicle chilled your bones yet?”

“That’s enough, Gabriel,” Naomi sighs, rubbing at her temple. “Please be decent and help them with their luggage. Your guestrooms have been prepared,” she turns her attention to Dean and he inwardly balks. Separate rooms? Jesus , this was going to be a long week.

“I hope they are to your liking,” she continues. “I’m afraid we haven’t had much time, what with last minute wedding preparations and all.”

“I’m, uh, not picky,” Dean shrugs, helping Gabriel pick up some of the bags. “Grew up in motels, so s’long as the bed’s clean I’m good.”

“Ah,” Naomi blinks and Dean almost hits himself for opening his mouth. “That’s...lovely.”

Gabriel, thankfully, rescues Dean before he can say anything else and all three of them hurry upstairs. Once they’re on the landing Dean breathes a little easier, shaking the chill from his shoulders.

“Is...is she always-” Dean starts.

“Yep,” Gabriel finishes. “Cold as ice. Alright-” he claps his hands together, grinning wickedly. “Your rooms. Cassie, you know where to go. Dean-o-” he points, “-you’re down the hall and around the corner. Last one on the right. And before you ask, yes, she’ll know if you sleep together.”

Cas scoffs as he turns, walking slowly toward the presumed direction of his room and looking up at the pictures that line the walls, his bags hanging loosely off his shoulders.

“Gabriel,” Dean whispers, casting a glance over at Cas and shaking his head, “is this really necessary? I mean...Cas, he’s-”

“He’ll be fine,” Gabriel assures him. “I’m right next door. I know the drill. I’m here, against my family’s wishes, for Cas.” He pauses and grins, tilting his head. “And also to give Luci hell, but that’s neither here nor there.”

Loud knocking interrupts them and they both jump slightly, turning to find Cas frowning at them.

“Stop it,” he signs. “Can still hear you. Not completely useless.”

Dean opens his mouth to speak but Cas has already turned back around, walking a few steps down the hall and pushing open one of the doors before disappearing inside.

“Great,” Dean grumbles, scrubbing a hand over his face.

“Don’t beat yourself up too much,” Gabriel sighs, showing him to his room and setting the bags by the bed. “Cas is already...uh, moody at the best of times. Being here just makes things difficult for him.”

“Okay,” Dean throw his duffel bag onto the bed. “I get that your mom isn’t all warm and fuzzy, but I don’t really get why this is so hard for him. Family can be a pain in the ass, but-”

“Not really my place to say,” Gabriel shrugs, pushing his hands into his pockets. “Every family has its black sheep, right? Cas is the black sheep. Always has been. And...well, like I said. Not my place to say. But trust me, being here...it’s like scraping nails on a chalkboard for him. And despite the moodiness, I know he’s happy you’re here with him.”

Dean grunts and pats down his legs, looking for his cigarettes. He’s definitely going to need more before the week is done.

“Anywho,” Gabriel heads for the door. “Don’t think you can hide out in here. Mother is...traditional. She’s expecting everyone for dinner, which should be ready pretty soon. And again yes, before you ask, it will be tense and awkward and you’ll wish you were dead.”

Dean groans and falls onto the bed, throwing an arm over his eyes. He’d pull a cigarette out, but he’s pretty sure there’s no smoking allowed in the house. He starts wondering what he’s gotten himself into, but reminds himself that this is for Cas.

He takes a deep breath and pulls himself back up, taking a quick look around the mostly bland room that’s slightly uncharacteristic of the rest of the house. He steps back out into the hall and closes the door quietly behind him, only taking his hand off the knob when he hears the click behind him. He can hear muted voices coming from downstairs although he can’t make out what they’re saying, and he tiptoes quietly down the hall toward Cas’s room, moving slowly past walls of pictures and small ornate tables adorned with figurines and decorative plaques and elegant lamps. He rolls his eyes and continues to the door he saw Cas disappear into, stopping only once just outside the door to look at a picture that caught his eye. A small dark-haired boy and red-haired girl, both grinning widely, the boy missing one of his front teeth and struggling to hold the girl in his arms as she clings to his neck. There’s another boy with curly light brown hair in the background who looks to be a few years old, grinning mischievously. Dean smirks to himself and looks back at Cas’s door, taking a deep breath before pushing it open with a faint squeak.

Cas is sitting in the nook of the window, looking outside, either not hearing Dean there or not bothering to turn around regardless. Dean raps his knuckles against the doorway but Cas still doesn’t turn, so he sighs and takes a few steps inside, shoving his hands in his pockets and looking around the room.

It looks like a museum, almost, exactly the way you’d expect a sixteen-year-old boy to keep it. It’s like Cas’s parents never changed it, and he wonders how weird it is for Cas to come home and see that his parents are still trying so hard to hold on to a semblance of the boy he used to be, since they seemed to have a difficult time embracing the man he is now. There are a few more family pictures on the wall that Dean promises himself mentally he’d look at later, a couple of trophies on the dresser, a bookshelf lined with large hardback books, a brown and green plaid comforter on the bed, a large wooden bedroom set, a desk stacked high with more books and notebooks and loose papers. There’s a book of baseball cards, a stack of games in the corner, an old tube tv and an ancient game system with two controllers. All things you’d imagine a sixteen-year-old boy’s room to possess...but nothing that even resembles anything that Dean knows of Cas.

Dean’s shoes make soft scraping noises against the floor as he makes his way to Cas, and he kneels down to wrap his arms around his middle, resting his chin on Cas’s shoulder.

“Hey, you.”

Cas quirks a smile as he moves his head enough to acknowledge his presence, but doesn’t move otherwise, just staring out the window.

“This is a nice room. Ever have any other boys up here?”

Cas huffs.

“No? Girls?”

Cas half-heartedly pushes him, but Dean hangs on, grinning as he presses a kiss to his shoulder.

“So just a lot of ‘me’ time, then. That’s okay, nothin’ wrong with that.” Dean ducks when Cas reaches out to flick him, chuckling softly. “Fine, fine. Just tryin’ to get you to talk to me, is all.”

Cas sighs and turns to him. “I’m sorry. Just...taking it all in. It’s been awhile.”

“Mm…” Dean hums, turning his eyes to the window. Cas’s room looked out onto a garden, complete with an ancient looking willow tree and a fountain in the center. He can imagine Cas sitting here when he was younger, maybe even thinking on what angle to use to capture the perfect picture of that tree. “A year, right?”

Cas nods once. “Looks the same.”

“Not so surprising,” Dean grunts. “Your mom doesn’t seem the type to change things just for the sake of change.”

Cas doesn’t respond, his hands fidgeting in his lap.

“Saw some nice pictures of you,” Dean says softly, rubbing a hand up and down Cas’s arm. “You were cute. Chubby little thing, too.”

Cas quirked a smile. “Gabe would sneak me twinkies...they were my favorite. I think they were all I ate until mom caught on.”

“Twinkies, huh?” Dean chuckles. “I’ll have to remember that. I was more of a Devil Squares man myself.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Cas glances up at him, smile widening.

“Oh, I get it,” Dean rolls his eyes. “‘Cause I’m devilishly handsome, right? Hate to break it to ya, had nothin’ to do with Little Debbie cakes. I was born this beautiful, baby.”

“You’re ridiculous,” Cas shakes his head.

“Yep,” Dean grins. “Ridiculously awesome .”

Cas’s hands fall to his lap and his smile fades slowly. Dean licks his lips and sits down too, pulling one of Cas’s hands into his lap and lacing their fingers together.

“So I imagine dinner will be...interesting.”

Cas snorts.

Dean quirks a smile and looks back out the window. “It’ll be the whole family tonight, huh? Hope your parents have a large table.”

Cas cuts his eyes at him and gives him a deadpan look, and Dean chuckles, nodding. “Oh. Right. Of course.”

Cas sighs and leans over, resting his cheek against Dean’s arm, and they spend the next couple of minutes in silence. Dean nuzzles his cheek against the top of Cas’s head and turns to press a kiss there, then lays his head against Cas’s and hums softly.

“Cas…” Dean begins slowly, considering his words carefully. “If this is gonna work...you know you’ve gotta tell me, eventually. Right?”

Cas finally nods after a minute, his hand tightening in Dean’s.

“Okay. Good. I just...I can’t fix it if you don’t tell me what it is.” He scrapes his teeth over his bottom lip. The wind has picked up outside and the tall decorative grasses in the garden are being whipped from side to side, the tire swing in the massive oak tree swinging back and forth. Dean huffs through his nose and smiles softly, lifting his shoulder slightly to nudge Cas. “You know I’m not stayin’ in that room, right? Your mom’s crazy ass rules can’t keep me away.”

Cas huffs and shakes his head, sitting up, his lack of smile more than a little unnerving.

“She’ll drag you out herself,” Cas signs, finally cracking the smallest smile at the end.

“Ah, Cas,” Dean says, kissing his cheek. “You forget. I was raised by Bobby, paranoid extraordinaire. I’ve mastered the art of sneaking into bedrooms.”

“Maybe when you were 16 and a little lighter on your feet,” Cas snorts.

“You sayin’ I’m fat?”

“I’m saying you like pie.”

“Well, whatever,” Dean sniffs, jutting out his chin defiantly. “I can get past her, no problem. No way am I going a whole week without some lovin’.”

Cas turns to him and raises a brow, his face somewhat serious. “You can’t go a week?”

Dean frowns and snorts. “Without you? Knowing you’re down the hall? Hell no, I can’t. Trust me, Cas, I sleep a lot better with you next to me. Your mom can turn her nose up all she wants. I’m gettin’ my damn cuddles.”

Cas blinks at him and his lips split into a grin. He wraps his arms around Dean’s neck and crushes their mouths together, fingers tangling up in Dean’s short hair. When they pull away, Dean is left more than a little breathless and a flush on his cheeks. Cas licks his lips and taps Dean’s cheek three times, earning a dazed smile.

“I love you too, angel.”

A faint bell clings from the downstairs, and Dean furrows his brow as Cas pulls away, rolling his eyes.

“Dinner,” he signs as he stands, and Dean’s mouth falls open.

“You...you guys have an actual dinner bell.”

“Actual cooks and maids too.”

Cas-

He waves a hand dismissively, then sticks it out to pull Dean to his feet. He holds his face between his hands and kisses him chastely before beginning to lead him out of the room, dropping his hand at the top of the steps.

“Okay, but come on , as someone who didn’t grow up with any of this stuff I guess I just...I can’t imagine -”

“It’s not as amazing as it seems,” Cas signs, and starts down the steps without another word. Dean sighs and follows him down, grateful that he waits at the bottom to guide him into the dining room.

Anael is taking her seat across the massive table that stretches across the entire room, and Cas gives her a smile as he takes his seat across from her. Dean sits next to him, giving Naomi a tight smile, as she sits with her hands clasped under her chin at the far end of the table. Gabriel sticks his finger in his mouth and reaches over to shove it in Anael’s ear as he sits down next to her, and she slaps him irritably and wipes her ear furiously.

A blonde man Dean doesn’t recognize pulls out the chair one down for him for a dark-skinned woman with wavy dark hair and what appears to be constant bitch face, and he takes the seat next to Dean after she’s seated. Another tall, lean man with a complexion similar to Cas’s takes the seat across from the blonde man, after helping a thin redhead into her seat, next to Naomi.

Finally a slight, fidgety man with curly brown hair and a short beard sat down at the end of the table between Anna and Cas, taking off a pair of small spectacles and folding the arms, then laying them down on the table.

“Would you say grace please, Charles?” Naomi asks softly, and he gives a hard nod and clasps his hands together, everyone else following suit. Dean does the same and casts a glance at Cas, whose hands are clasped and head bowed, but his eyes are open, looking down at his lap.

Charles- who Dean assumes based on his context clues is Cas’s father- says a short grace, and two small women in long dresses emerge from the kitchen with literal silver platters. Dean almost has to pinch himself, for how unreal the whole scene feels. Everyone around him are talking quietly amongst themselves, sipping at their waters or glasses of red wine. Cas is still looking down at his lap, shifting uncomfortably as one of the women with glasses and blonde hair piled on top of her head serves him several stalks of asparagus with a pair of tongs, and the next comes along with pieces of seasoned chicken breasts.

“So, Castiel,” Charles starts, clearing his throat awkwardly, “this must be your friend Dean.”

Cas nods and practically beams at Dean, then signs: “Yes. Well, he’s my boss. And...my boyfriend.”

“Ah,” Charles nods as he takes a bit of chicken, lowering his knife and fork back down to the plate to cut another piece. “Well. It’s nice to meet you, Dean.”

“It’s nice to meet you too, Mr. Novak.”

“Just call me Chuck, please,” Chuck says with a wave of his hand, looking rather serious about it. Dean nods quickly and thanks one maid as she gives him a roll and the other when she adds potatoes to his plate.

“Do you have last name, Dean?” asks the too-calm voice from beside him, very similar to Naomi’s, as he cuts his chicken. The man pauses and raises an eyebrow.

“You don’t gotta answer that, Dean-o,” Gabriel says with a shake of his head, “Ol’ Luc there will just use that information to dig all up the dirt he can on ya-”

“And that’s my prerogative,” Luc snaps back at him, immediately composing his glare to look back at Dean. “I apologize for my brother. He’s not quite as...traditional as the rest of us. Although, I suppose if you’re seeing Castiel, you enjoy that sort of thing. Isn’t that right, Castiel?”

Cas shrugs, looking down at his lap again. Luc gives Dean a judgemental once-over, eyes lingering on his piercings. Dean’s sort of thankful that he made the decision not to wear his colors to meet Cas’s family, even though Cas insisted differently.

“Or perhaps it was more of a...kindred calling. Or-” he grinned, gesturing with a finger between Naomi and Castiel, “well. Castiel always did like to push mom’s buttons. Maybe another act of rebellion?”

Dean huffs and sets his jaw. I am not going to get in a fight with Cas’s brother on the first day. “Right. Yeah. Sure.”

Luc quirks a smile and gestures to himself. “Well, I’m Lucifer, the groom, and this-” he gestures to the woman next to him, who tips her wine glass in his direction, “-is Kali, my bride-to-be.”

“Mmm, there more wine, mama?” Gabriel asks suddenly, waving his empty glass. “You know, I stumbled upon this amazing merlot last time I was in Italy with some of the girls-”

“Please, Gabriel, I beg you not to bring that godlessness into our polite dinner conversation,” Naomi says with a wave of her hand.

“Boss, did you say, Castiel?” the other dark-haired man says, quirking a brow. He cuts his eyes over to Dean. “You run your own business, Dean?”

Dean’s nods. “Yeah. Nothin’ fancy. Just a diner I put together.”

“Ah…” the man ducks his head, a smirk on his lips as he bites into his chicken. “How...quaint.”

“Michael,” Chuck says firmly, never looking up from his food. “Be polite.”

“It’s nice,” Cas signs, his hands jerking sharply. “He started it himself. And he gave me a job-”

“Nah, Cas, it’s alright,” Dean waves his hand, taking a maybe-on-purpose sloppy bite of his chicken. “It’s no business empire like what you all do, I’m sure, but it put my brother through college and it keeps a roof over my head. And, frankly, the money Cas makes from working there is better than what any of you have ever done for him apparently. ‘Cept Gabe.”

Everyone seems to freeze. Cas’s eyes widen and Gabriel looks like he can’t decide if he’s excited or terrified.

“What we’ve done or haven’t done for Castiel is our business,” Lucifer snaps. “Our parents more than provided for him. He chose to leave-”

“Alright, Lucifer, that’s enough,” Naomi says coolly, calmly cutting into her asparagus. “Dean. I’m...glad to hear Castiel is doing so well over there. Although a diner is not what we envisioned for him…”

Dean shrugs and looks down at his food. “It’s just to give him extra money so he can do what he actually loves. Right, Cas?”

Cas blinks, swallows, and finally nods slowly. He shrinks a bit when Naomi pierces him with her cold gaze and Dean wants nothing more than to drag him away from all of this.

“Though, you could just talk to him like he’s right here,” Dean continues. “Ask him how he feels about it all.”

“Yes,” Michael snorts, turning to Cas. “How do you feel about serving up greasy plates, Castiel?”

“Hey, now…” Chuck warns.

Cas shifts in his seat, face reddening.

“I used to work in a restaurant,” Kali says non-chalantly, tipping her glass towards Castiel. “Not the most lucrative of job careers, but respectable, nonetheless-”

“That’s right, as I recall, you and I met the first time when you were serving...isn’t that right, Kali?” Gabriel asks, raising his glass to his lips. “Respectable, indeed.” He waggles his eyebrows, and Luc swallows hard, setting his silverware down and wiping his mouth.

“You should watch your tone, Gabriel,” he says lowly, and Gabe chuckles and takes another sip of his wine.

“Well...I should hope Castiel’s situation didn’t unfold in the same manner,” Michael smirks around a mouthful of chicken, cocking his head. “Hell of a way to get what you want-”

“That’s enough ,” Chuck says firmly, slamming his fork down on the table.

Dean hadn’t realized how hard his heart was beating in his chest until the table fell quiet, and he looks over to see both Cas and Anael looking at one another, almost in comfort. Cas’s hands were clasped together in his lap, his neck and face red, his food untouched. No one says a word until Chuck picks up his fork and begins eating again, and Naomi follows suit. Everyone slowly begins to murmur amongst themselves again, and the redhead at the opposite end of the table leans over, motioning to Dean.

“It’s nice to meet you, Dean,” she says softly, much more polite than her husband, “I’m Anna, Michael’s wife.”

“Nice to meet you,” he murmurs, then quietly goes back to his food.

“Dean was telling me earlier in the car that a friend of his made Cassie a Facebook page,” Anael says to Chuck, and he raises his eyebrows as he chews.

“Oh, yeah?”

“Mhmm. For his photography. Sounds like he’s got a lot of people interested in him.” Anael smiles encouragingly over at Cas and gives Dean a nod. She takes a bite of potatoes and chicken and chews slowly, then swallows, dabbing her mouth with her napkin. “Seems Sioux Falls is really working out for him.”

“I see,” Chuck smiles at Cas and Dean has to blink to make sure he’s actually seeing that right. “I didn’t realize your photography was so successful, son. I wish you would’ve told me.”

Cas bites his lip and shrugs, raising his hands. “I wouldn’t say ‘successful’.”

“I would,” Dean smiles proudly, ignoring the light scoff from Lucifer. “He’s getting really popular. Already sold a few shots. And the people of Sioux Falls are linin’ up for portraits come graduation season.”

“You’ve...sold some, Castiel?” Naomi asks slowly, a ghost of a smile on her face. “We had no idea. Which ones? I would like to see them.”

“Yes, me too,” Anna smiles warmly. “I just love photography. I’m horrible at taking pictures myself. Lucifer, why didn’t you hire Castiel as the photographer for the wedding?”

“I suggested that,” Kali sighs, waving her hand. “But-”

“I wanted a professional ,” Lucifer says bitingly. “This is our wedding, not some nature hike.”

“Cas is every bit as good as any so-called professional,” Dean says with a light growl to his voice. “Probably even better.”

“He’s right, Luci,” Gabriel tips his glass at Dean. “You really missed out. Our baby brother has a great eye.”

“You did take some amazing pictures out in the garden as a child,” Chuck nods at Cas. “I never realized the hobby would grow on you so much. Lucifer, maybe you should consider changing-”

“Absolutely not,” Lucifer scoffs. “So close to the wedding? We’ve already paid our photographer and he’s very sought after.”

“Your loss,” Dean grunts, wondering how much trouble he’d create if he punched the guy in the face right now.

“I offered to help you advertise, Castiel, years ago. You remember?” Chuck raises his eyebrows, eating a large forkful of potatoes and asparagus. “Imagine how far you might have gotten by now.” He chews and swallows, spearing a piece of chicken. “Of course, that doesn’t diminish what you’ve done now, but-”

“Charles is an inventor for...what’s it called, honey? Something about robots-?”

“I’m a software developer. For Android, dear.”

“That’s right,” Naomi smiles stiffly, lifting her wine glass and taking a sip.

“Just wasn’t ready to get started then, I guess,” Cas signs quickly, finally picking up his fork and pushing around his food. Naomi watches him with a strange look on her face, almost sad and far away.

“Castiel, I’m not sure if you got my emails about-”

Cas drops his fork and it clatters loudly against his plate, and Dean looks from him back down to Naomi, who’s frowning, her head tilted. Anael’s watching Cas with concern, as is Gabriel, and Cas is wide-eyed and frantically trying to clean up the forkful of potatoes that splattered all around his plate.

“Mom, maybe not now-”

“It could help him, Anael-”

Later ,” Anael hisses, her glare piercing daggers across the table at Naomi, who purses her lips tightly and nods.

“I made a new movie,” Gabriel pipes up quickly. “Coming this Spring, The Boobyguard , starring yours truly, your loving son and brother, who gets to hook up repeatedly with a very terrible Whitney Houston lookalike with much better boobs-”

Ugh, Gabriel, that’s enough ,” Naomi says with a wave of her hand, quickly picking up her wine glass and draining it. “Does anyone have anything decent to talk about?”

Dean snorts and looks over at Cas, who’s grinning widely across the table at Gabriel. Gabriel grins slyly back and gives him a wink, then returns to his food without another word.

“Dean, this diner,” Chuck says conversationally. “You enjoy it?”

Dean blinks and nods with a small shrug. “Uh, yeah, I do. Long days, but you know. Like feedin’ people. Small town like Sioux Falls, you get the same customers everyday. You get to build a relationship with them.”

Chuck nods, looking him over with a serious expression that’s very reminiscent of Cas’s staring. “You see yourself doing this in the future?”

Dean’s eyebrows wrinkle, confused at first, until he realized what this was. It was the talk , the ‘what are your intentions’ and ‘are you good enough’ interview every parent grills into their child’s date.

“...For a while longer, yeah,” Dean clears his throat, deciding his best option here is plain honesty. “Not forever. Bobby, uh...my uncle. The diner is sort of attached to his garage and he’s gettin’ up in years. Gonna be retirin’ soon. Once the garage closes…” he shrugs and looks down. “Well, I’ll be closin’ up shop, I suppose.”

Cas stares at him, almost looking surprised. Dean had never really talked about this to Cas before, or even admitted to how much the future sort of scared him a little bit. He’s been running the diner for so long that the thought of it closing always left him a little lightheaded.

“And what will you do then?” Chuck asks, raising a brow.

Dean swallows hard. “Not, uh...not too worried about it. Restaurants are always hiring. Might even move outta Sioux Falls...just depends.”

“Depends on what?” Naomi blinks.

Dean glances at Cas and their eyes lock for just a moment. “Uh,” Dean clears his throat, looking away. “Just...on how things work out until then. I guess.”

Gabriel lifts his wine glass to his lips, looking over the rim between Cas and Dean. Cas takes a tentative bite of chicken, looking wildly uncomfortable, which is understandable considering it seems like the entire table is watching the two of them.

“Well, then,” Naomi says finally, cutting her chicken. “I suppose you’re wondering if there’s a future between you and Castiel.”

“I think that’s just a little too forward, dear,” Chuck says calmly, chewing a bite of food. He swallows and takes a sip of water.

“I didn’t mean anything by it,” Naomi shrugs, and Cas takes a large bite of his potatoes, looking anywhere but directly at someone.

“I know there’s a future here,” Dean says firmly, looking directly at Naomi. He shrugs. “But timing is everything, and I’m in no hurry.”

Naomi gives him a tight-lipped smile and nods, motioning toward them with her glass. “So where have you been staying, Castiel? Somewhere with a roof and walls, I hope.”

“He’s staying with me,” Dean answers for him, when it’s clear Cas isn’t prepared to. “I have a spare room. It’s no trouble.”

Naomi raises an eyebrow. “Already? You don’t think perhaps this is all happening...a little fast?”

Gabriel snorts into his wine and goes into a coughing fit. Cas blushes and pointedly looks anywhere but at his mother. Dean coughs and thinks how mortified Naomi would be if she knew just how far her baby boy has gone with Dean.

“He had nowhere else to stay,” Dean shrugs, casting Gabriel a glare. “Figured it was better than him bein’ on the street. I give him his space.” Which is true, Dean thinks. He does everything he can to make sure Cas is comfortable.

Naomi’s frown deepens. “But, it’s...it’s-”

“Dear, please,” Chuck says gently. “I’m sure Dean is perfectly respectable. It’s certainly better than sleeping under bridge, which our boy has a habit of doing.”

“Oh, yes,” Lucifer pipes up, popping some potato into his mouth. “I’m sure it’s totally innocent, mother. A young bachelor, taking in a helpless stray. Feeding him, giving him a job. I’m sure he didn’t ask any sort of favors in return.”

“No,” Dean growls, fingers clenched around his fork. “I didn’t. And Cas ain’t like that anyway. I didn’t ask for anything. Just...didn’t want him sleeping in the damn snow.”

“Who are you to talk about morals anyway, Luci?” Gabriel raises a brow. “I remember your bachelor days. Kali isn’t the only one who shouldn’t be wearing white at the wedding.”

“Says the dropout who makes porn for a living,” Lucifer sneers.

“Please,” Naomi sighs, a hand on her temple. “Let’s not use that awful word at the dinner table. And in front of a guest, no less.”

“Right,” Gabriel rolls his eyes. “Because you’ve all made Dean feel so welcome so far. If he weren’t such a stand up guy he would’ve booked it out of here already.”

“That's enough , both of you,” Chuck says, laying down his silverware and turning back to Dean. “I am so sorry, Dean. We have been less than welcoming. Of course, I can speak for all of us when I say we are truly grateful to you for taking in Castiel when he had no place to go.”

Naomi purses her lips, no doubt wanting to argue that he could always come home, but she nods solemnly.

Cas shifts uncomfortably in his seat, so Dean discreetly reaches over under the table and takes his hand, giving him a smile when he looks up at him. He squeezes three times, and Cas finally smiles back.

“May I please be excused?” Cas signs to Chuck, who smiles and nods.

“Of course,” he says, then nods to Dean. “We'll have drinks in the parlor later, Dean. You're both welcome to join us.”

Dean nods and wipes his mouth with his napkin, laying it over his half-eaten plate. “Thank you. Excuse us.”

Cas can't get out of there quick enough, and Dean follows closely behind, up the steps and down the hall to his room. Once inside, Cas immediately closes the door and presses him up against it, his hands on Dean's hips and tongue licking his way into his mouth.

Dean almost pulls away, unsure if he should let this happen. Cas is obviously upset and looking for a distraction. The healthy thing to do would be to talk about it all, but Dean decides they can be responsible later. Right now, Cas is hurting and looking for comfort, and Dean is happy to deliver.

Dean grabs his waist and pulls him closer, bodies pressed together as their tongues tangle together. Cas begins to stumble back, pulling Dean with him, until the backs of his knees hit the bed and he falls backwards. Their lips never breaking from each other, Dean falls with him and plants his hands on either side of Cas’s head. Cas is already tugging at his shirt, his jeans, jerking roughly to get them off.

“Easy, baby,” Dean breathes against his lips, pulling away just enough to get both of their zippers down. Cas immediately presses their cocks together, canting his hips up to rut against Dean. Dean hisses through his teeth and grinds down, reaching up to grip the back of Cas’s head. “Okay, okay...whatever you want, angel.”

Cas cants his hips up again and Dean pulls back slightly, pressing their foreheads together, breathing heavily.

“Crap,” he mutters, and Cas furrows his brow. “The lube is in the bag in my room.”

Cas huffs impatiently and forces Dean's jeans down his thighs, followed by his own, and he grips Dean's hips, making him thrust against him, their cocks dragging together. He reaches between them and takes them both in his hand, stroking quickly, both of them already leaking.

Dean groans and pulls back enough to let Cas get a better grip, and he falls into rhythm with him, thrusting which each of Cas's strokes. His movements become erratic quickly and he willingly lets Dean take over after a few minutes, gripping the sheets below him tightly.

“That’s it, baby,” Dean breathes, stroking the back of his head, looking down into his eyes. “I’ve got you. Just let go, sweetheart, let go…”

Cas gasps beneath him and arches, his cock kicking between Dean’s fingers. He spills thickly, spurts of cum splatter across their stomachs and Dean’s hand as he thrusts up with abandon, riding out the orgasm with desperation. Dean strokes him through it, grunting when he comes a few seconds later, his cum mixing with Cas’s and creating a sticky mess.

Cas fights to catch his breath and clings to Dean, nails digging in almost painfully. He buries his face into Dean’s neck and sniffs, shoulders tense. Dean rolls them over, pulling Cas with him, arms around him tightly.

“‘S alright,” Dean murmurs, pressing a kiss to Cas’s head. “Don’t gotta hold back with me, baby. Go ahead.”

Cas, of course, doesn’t say anything, but Dean can feel wetness on his neck and soaking into his shirt. He hasn’t seen Cas cry too much since Dean tries everything in his power to never give him a reason to cry, but if that were his family down there, he’d be crying a little, too.

They lay in near silence for the next several minutes, only the occasional sniffle from Cas or shaking of his shoulders as he sobs. Dean holds him in place, one hand bracing the back of his head and trailing absently through his hair.

Cas finally pulls away himself after awhile, laying flat on his back and irritably wiping away the tears streaking his cheeks. His whole face is red and his eyes are puffy, and he stares unseeingly at the ceiling, one hand over his chest.

Dean crawls carefully over him, squeezing his hand as he goes. “I’ll be right back, baby. Gonna get something to clean us up with.”

He tucks himself away carefully and pops his head out Cas’s door, finding no one in his immediate vision and the sound of voices still downstairs. He slips out and tiptoes down the hall to his room, grabbing a couple of pairs of sweatpants out of his bag, one of the towels from the stack Naomi must have left for him to use after showering, and, as an afterthought, shoves the condoms and lube in his pocket as well.

He tiptoes back to Cas’s room and shuts the door behind him, locking it and quickly shedding his own soiled jeans, cleaning himself up and slipping on a pair of sweatpants. He does the same for Cas as he practically just lays there the whole time, then he lays back down with him, taking him in his arms again.

“That’ll do for now,” Dean murmurs, pressing his cheek to Cas’s shoulder. “I’ll have to get you cleaned up better later, with some soap and water. Whaddaya think?”

Cas doesn’t respond. Dean bites his lip, knowing that unfortunately, the dinner is something that the two of them have to talk about, despite how it makes Cas feel. Or, more accurately, because of how it makes Cas feel.

“Your dad seems nice,” Dean says slowly, continuing after he doesn’t get a response from Cas. “Anael and Anna...they both seem to care about you a whole lot. And Gabriel, of course.”

Cas scoffs.

“C’mon, Cas,” Dean says softly, “I know you kinda got the shit end of tonight and I won’t pretend to understand what you’ve dealt with your whole life with them, but...don’t dismiss the ones who really care because you’re distracted by the ones who want to hurt you.”

Cas squeezes his eyes shut and opens them again, eyes darting from side to side up at  the ceiling, a few more hot tears spilling from the corners and trailing down.

“Gonna be honest, Cas, I’m feelin’ a little at sea here,” Dean murmurs, wiping one of the tears away. “I want to help you, but I...if I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t know how...and it kills me, Cas, not bein’ able to help you-”

Cas huffs softly and turns on his side toward Dean, slowly reaching up and laying a hand on his cheek.

“Later,” he spells out with his other hand, and Dean takes a small breath and nods.

“Okay. Yeah, okay. Later.” Dean takes Cas’s hand in his own and presses a kiss to it, then holds it to his chest. “I suppose I’m expected for drinks, then?”

Cas gives him an apologetic look and nods, pulling his hand away to sign. “The women don’t usually go. I don’t either, since I don’t drink. But Dad will be there, and Gabriel. Luc. Michael.”

“Great.”

“You don’t have to go.”

Dean sighs and scrubs a hand down his face. “Yeah, I do. It’ll only make things worse if I don’t.” He chews his lip. “Hopefully I packed at least one pair of jeans without any holes in them. I imagine around here, that’s not looked at favorably.”

Cas looks at him sadly for a moment before pulling him in for a kiss, tongue teasing Dean’s bottom lip, teeth scraping gently against it as he pulls away again.

Dean wants to chase his lips, much preferring to stay here with Cas than to force small talk with people he didn’t particularly care for. Hopefully he can find some excuse to leave after a glass of whiskey.

With reluctance Dean pulls away and crawls off the bed. Once again he peeks his head out of the doorway, sees the coast is clear, and walks silently back to his room. He digs through his bag and finds a dark pair of jeans that are still kind of new-ish. He pulls those on along with a green Henley, being the nicest thing he had besides the tux for the wedding...which is rented, and he’s positive they will be able to tell that the moment they see it.

He stops by Cas’s room and gives him one more kiss, promising to be back soon. Dean steels himself and walks downstairs, finding Gabe at the bottom as if waiting for him.

“Ah, so you’ll brave drinks then,” Gabriel smiles. “Was hoping you would. I prefer your company over my two delightful brothers.”

Dean grunts. “Yeah, well, alcohol might help me deal with them.”

“One would think,” Gabriel shrugs and starts walking towards where Dean assumes the drinks are being held. He follows with a resigned sigh.

“How’s Cas?” Gabriel asks softly.

Dean frowns down at the floor. “Okay, I guess. Is that how dinner usually goes?”

“Unfortunately,” Gabriel sighs. “Those two aren’t very easy on him. Dad usually intervenes, but mother...well. She pretends she can’t hear any of it.”

“So she agrees.”

Gabriel cocks his head and hums. “I don’t think it’s that she agrees. It’s...well. Mother wants what’s best for him, always has. Cas is stubborn, as I’m sure you know.  Obviously we know how intelligent he is, how much potential he has, how he likes to set his own pace. He’s independent. More so than any of the rest of us ever were. She doesn’t know how to handle him. I think...” he frowns thoughtfully, “I think that she’s under the impression that he just needs some guidance, some ‘tough love’. Problem is, she doesn’t know where that tough love line ends and the one for straight cruelty begins.”

Dean scoffs. “Seems like that rubbed off on a couple of your brothers.”

Gabe quirks a smile. “A bit.”

Dean lets out a breath. “Why does she want to change him so badly?”

“Not change him,” Gabe shakes his head, “not really. She...like I said, mother wants what’s best for Cas. And in some cases…” he pauses, looking like he’s trying to choose his words very carefully, “there are times that I don’t know if Cas actually thinks his way is best, or if he’s just arguing to argue. He’s been a lot more ornery since-” he catches himself, waving a hand, “h-he’s just...you know, he’s still young. Mother is under the impression that if he’s successful- which she fully believes he can be- that he’ll be happy. But Cas...he...lives by a different code than most people. He doesn’t necessarily see things the same way.”

Dean chews his lip and nods. “I noticed.”

They approach what Dean assumes is the parlor door based on the voices coming from behind it, and Gabriel stops and looks at him solemnly.

“Castiel is a good kid,” he says, golden eyes trained on Dean’s. “A good brother, a good son. The best. He would do anything for anyone, regardless of who they are, if they’ve wronged him…” he pauses, sighing softly. “Despite what you’ve seen here tonight, what you’ll continue to see with some of my family...none of us take that for granted. I want you to know that. He doesn’t want to be here, and that’s fine. I understand that. But he’s always welcome here. He’s always wanted here.”

Dean opens his mouth to speak but changes his mind, instead pressing his lips together and nodding. Gabe nods once and pushes the door open, and Dean follows him inside.

Chapter Text

“Gabriel, Dean, nice of you two to join us,” Chuck says without a hint of sarcasm, as he stands from his armchair and moves to the bar. “Let me guess, Dean...whiskey guy?”

“Yeah, actually,” Dean says with a frown. “How’d you-”

“Lucky guess,” Chuck smirks, grabbing two bottles and holding them up one by one, “Irish or American?”

“American.”

Chuck hums, but pours a glass and passes it to Dean. “I’m an Irish man, myself.”

“Really?” Dean raises an eyebrow. “Don’t appreciate the variety?”

“Mmm,” Chuck takes a sip of his own drink and chuckles lightly. “I’m a bit of a purist.” He clears his throat. “Actually have roots in Ireland. My parents, a few of the cousins still live there. We visit fairly often. I’ve lived here since I was very young, of course, but it’s just...a little taste of home, I suppose. At least, subconsciously.” He gestures toward Dean and raises his eyebrows. “Castiel didn’t want to join us tonight?”

“Oh, he, uh...he was just tired,” Dean says quickly, shaking his head and shrugging. “Long trip, you know?”

“Of course.” It seems like Chuck is trying pretty hard not to look disappointed, and Dean hides the slight blush on his cheeks from his lie by taking a long sip of his drink.

“Any wine, pops?” Gabriel asks, already rummaging through the bottles.

“I always have the best out for you,” Chuck huffs, rolling his eyes as he sinks into a wingback chair. “Make yourself comfortable, Dean. We’re not terribly formal for drinks.”

Dean chooses a chair as far from the two jackass brothers as possible and crosses his ankles, tapping a finger on his glass.

“What’s your father do, Dean?” Chuck asks, taking a sip.

Dean snorts softly and shrugs. “I have no idea. Haven’t seen the man in years. I think he was a mechanic of sorts.”

“Oh, I see,” Chuck frowns. “I apologize. I didn’t mean dredge up any family drama.”

Dean waves his hand dismissively. “Nothin’ to apologize for. Our mom passed shortly after my little brother was born. Dad dragged us all over, sleeping in motels while he did God knows what. Dropped us off with Bobby after a while and left. When he found out my, uh, preferences ...he stopped visiting.”

Chuck’s frown deepened. “I’m so sorry to hear that, Dean.” He looks and sounds genuine, and Dean is a little shocked by the sincerity.

“Uh, it’s alright,” he shrugs, clearing his throat. “Worked out for us. I don’t really think about him much anymore.”

“And this Bobby, he raised you and your brother?”

“Yeah. More of a father to us than my dad ever was.” Dean shrugs. “I like to think that all in all, we were pretty lucky to have the life we did, because of him.”

“Sounds that way,” Chuck nods, tapping a finger against his glass. Dean looks over to see Michael and Lucifer standing behind the couch, deep in conversation, hunched over a phone with drinks in each of their hands. Gabriel's sitting at the stool behind the bar, nursing a glass of wine and rolling what appears to be a joint, although no one seems too concerned about it. They're all probably so used to Gabriel by now that nothing surprises them. Can't get much more brazen than bragging about your job in porn.

Chuck gestures at Dean with his glass. “I really- we really- appreciate all you've done for Castiel, Dean. In fact-" he leans forward, digging around in his pocket and producing a worn wallet, holding it up, “-I want to give you a little something to replenish your funds. Or help. However you want to look at it-"

“Oh, no,” Dean quickly waves his hand. “Uh, sir. No, sir, really...I don’t need any money. I appreciate the offer, but...I think if Cas ever found out, he’d be pretty upset. And, uh…” Dean shrugs, looking down at the dark liquid in his glass. “I do okay for myself. More than enough to take care of him. Plus, I’ve always felt a little weird about takin’ money I haven’t earned.”

“Hm,” Chuck puts his wallet away and looks at Dean carefully. “Well, I can respect that. But I want you to know that if you do ever need help, just ask. I know his annual tests and check-ups can get-”

“Say, pops!” Gabriel says loudly, planting himself beside Chuck’s chair and leaning on the arm. “I tell you about this new series I’m putting together? Casa Erotica , starring yours truly, of course-”

“Keep that filth out of here,” Michael sneers from across the room, which then instigates an argument between the two brothers and Chuck trying in vain to break up the fight. Dean hardly notices any of it, though, his mind grinding to a halt.

Tests? Check-ups?

Dean scrubs a hand over his face and downs the rest of his glass, standing to refill it and retreating to a corner of the room so as not to get dragged into the growing fight. Gabriel had purposely interrupted Chuck and it’s starting to piss Dean off that everyone knows something but him. Cas, especially, is keeping it from him. It’s upsetting that even after everything Cas apparently doesn’t trust him with whatever it is that everyone is tip-toeing around.

“Boys, please, enough,” Chuck sighs tiredly, bringing Dean out of his thoughts. “Just for once could we have a nice evening? I don’t know why you three bicker so much. And with a guest here as well. I’m surprised Dean hasn’t run for the hills yet.”

Dean scoffs and raises his glass to his lips as he crosses back over to his chair and sits down. He swallows a large gulp, and coughs once as the liquor burns his throat.

“You and me both, pops,” Gabriel snorts, stepping away from a still-enraged Michael. “I was just trying to talk about my work, is all.”

“Your work is disgusting,” Michael spits, and strides over to the bar to fill up his glass.

“It’s an honest living,” Gabriel shrugs.

“Not sure ‘honest’ is the right word, son,” Chuck sighs, sinking back into his chair.

“Um.” Dean frowns and learns forward, his glass dangling from his hand. “You said tests-"

“My work is about as honest as they come,” Gabriel says loudly, plopping down on the arm of Chuck's chair and clinking their glasses together. He shoots Dean a look before continuing. “I'm more than willing to detail my latest project, if anyone's interested-"

“We're not,” Lucifer says quickly, sighing as he sits down on the couch and crosses one leg over the other.

Dean sighs and presses his lips together, sitting back in his chair as the conversation continues around him. Cas is aware that he needs to talk to Dean about whatever is going on, and he agreed to eventually, but Dean is beginning to think it's a lot bigger than he originally thought, and he's starting to feel a little more than slighted at the fact that Cas would keep something like that from him. After all they shared, after the intimacy and the ‘I love yous’, there's still something he doesn't feel he can trust Dean with.

And Dean can't recall a time that Cas ever went to a doctor, save for when he had the cold the previous month, and all of that was pretty standard. He'd known the guy for, what? Six months? And he'd never heard him mention doctors, or tests… granted, he'd disappeared for awhile in that time, but still…

“Wait, you mean he…” Michael held up a hand, leaning from his seat toward Dean, “Cas never told you- I mean, you never asked him about his mutism? I would think that would've been something addressed, if things are as serious as you've said-"

“I…” Dean looks helplessly at Gabriel, who's glaring over at Michael. “I just...I assumed-"

“Don't you think that's our dear brother's business to tell?” Gabriel hisses sharply.

“He must be afraid Dean would balk at that kind of baggage,” Lucifer chimes in with a shrug, barely looking up from his phone.

Chuck’s face pales and he clears his throat. “I-I’m sorry, Dean, I didn’t...I didn’t know-”

Dean sets his jaw and looks away, waving a hand. “It’s fine.”

“I’m...I’m sure Castiel has a very good reason-”

“Dad, just stop,” Gabriel says lowly, but his voice sounds far away. Dean never considered the idea that Cas’s mutism was caused by anything other than natural causes. He’d assumed, since Cas never said differently, that he was born that way. Now his mind was spinning with whatever else could’ve possibly caused it, something that required tests and checkups-

“Well, as much as I’d love to stick around and see how this plays out,” Lucifer drawls, leaning forward to deposit his empty glass on the coffee table and standing, a hand over his stomach, “I’m afraid I need to get home and prepare for my wedding tomorrow.” He stops in front of Dean, giving him a cold smile. “Goodnight, Dean.”

Dean glares at his retreating back and almost gets up to follow the guy, show him how Dean used to deal with bullies back in high school. He forces himself to stay sitting, muscles tight and jaw set. He glances at Michael, who is staring at him with a smug expression, and looks away. Dean refuses to let these jackasses get to him. He knows what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to undermine the relationship, make it seem that Cas doesn’t think he’ll stick around long enough to handle the heavy shit. That he doesn’t love him enough to tell him everything.

Well fuck ‘em.

Cas said he would tell Dean later, when he was ready, and Dean is prepared to wait. He knows Cas loves him and must have his reasons for keeping such a big thing a secret. Dean isn’t going to let Lucifer and Michael ruin the best thing to ever happen to him.

After a few minutes of stilted, awkward conversation, Dean finally gets away and heads upstairs. He pauses at Cas’s door, rubbing his palms over his jeans as he tries to clear his head-

“Dean.”

His head whips around to find Naomi standing just a few feet from him. His face reddens and he clears his throat, shifting on his feet.

“Ah, sorry, Mrs. Novak-”

“You don’t belong here.”

“No, I know. I was just gonna pop in and tell him goodnight-”

“You misunderstand,” Naomi says, her tone suggesting she isn’t at all surprised by this. “You don’t belong here . With Castiel.”

Dean blinks at her, mouth going dry. She stares back at him with cold, steel eyes, her hands clasped in front of her.

“You seem like a...nice individual,” she continues, eyeing his piercings. “But my son is special-”

“I know he is.”

“-and he needs better,” she finishes in a clipped tone. “Better than you can offer him. Not to mention, you know as well as I do how he is. I appreciate everything you’ve done for him, but you should end it before you become too attached. If you don’t, you’ll wake up to him gone one day.”

With that, she brushes past him and down the stairs, leaving Dean staring at the wall. He glances over his shoulder and listens as her footsteps fade away. He runs a hand through his hair roughly, takes a breath, then slips inside Cas’s room quietly and shuts the door.

Cas is still sitting cross-legged in his window seat, and he turns and gives Dean a smile that quickly fades to a frown. He cocks his head to the side and straightens his legs, standing slowly and crossing over to Dean.

“What’s wrong?” he signs worriedly, brow furrowed.

Dean considers telling him about Naomi, about Michael and Lucifer and what Chuck had said. He considers putting Cas on the spot, putting him in a position where he’d be forced to tell him whatever it is he’s keeping from him. All it would take is a recount of the night so far, right up until Dean stepped inside the room, to make Cas break, and he could finally know everything that everyone else seemed to already know.

He doesn’t do that, though.

“Dean?” Cas signs, eyes wide with concern.

Dean’s brought out of his thoughts again, his eyes focusing on brilliant blue, and he surges forward, laying his hands on either side of Cas’s face and capturing slightly chapped lips with his own. It’s another beat before Cas fists his hands into Dean’s shirt and melts into the kiss, allowing his tongue entry with a soft sigh.

Truth be told, Dean doesn’t want to think about the possibilities. He doesn’t want to consider anything negative, doesn’t want to think about what it may mean for him and for Cas and for the two of them together. He doesn’t want to relive Cas leaving again, and he doesn’t want to approach whatever it is that might make it so again. He wants to relish whatever time he has left with his head buried in the sand.

----

“Remind me why I let you talk me into a bowtie ?”

Cas smiles from his spot on the bed, leaning back on his hands as he watches Dean futz with the bowtie for the upteenth time. Dean is standing in front of a full-length mirror, clad in the best rental tux he could afford, face screwed into a grimace as he tugs on the bowtie.

“Because you love me,” Cas signs when Dean looks over.

“Right, well, I may need a better reason than that.”

“Because…” Cas stands and saunters over to Dean, laying his chin on his shoulder and slipping his hand just slightly into the waistband of Dean’s pants. He gives Dean a look , the kind of look that tells Dean he’s in for a very good night if he behaves.

“Fine,” Dean huffs, dropping his hands and glaring at Cas through the mirror. “But I look like a penguin.”

“Penguins are cute,” Cas smiles.

Dean sighs and turns, grabbing Cas’s waist and pulling him in for a kiss. “Well, at least you look good,” he mutters when they break apart. “But you always look good, so that’s really not fair.”

Cas tries to pull back, probably to sign an argument, but Dean holds him in place.

“Nope. Nothin’ you say can change my mind.”

Cas huffs and grins, bumping their foreheads together. Dean’s smile fades into the kiss he gives Cas before he does finally pull away, and he turns back to the mirror, adjusting his outfit once more.

“Alright, c’mere,” he says when he turns again, pulling Cas in by his crooked, backwards tie. He pulls it from around his neck and puts it on the correct way, and Cas watches him with a quirked smile as he ties it and straightens it around his neck, fastening it to his shirt with a clip.

“There.” Dean gives him a smile and picks up the card for Lucifer and Kali, then offers his arm to Cas. “Are we ready?”

Cas rolls his eyes, trying to hide his smile, but humors Dean and takes his arm anyway, allowing him to lead them out and to the top of the steps. Dean’s grin fades when he sees Naomi walk by at the bottom of the steps in a strapless gold floor-length dress and matching heels, her arms covered with a sheer gold shawl. He clears his throat and loops his arm around Cas, pretending not to notice when Cas looks at him curiously.

Dean squares his shoulders and leads Cas down the stairs. He isn’t going to let Naomi’s words get to him. He isn’t going to give her the satisfaction. He’s here for Cas and no one else. Here to make sure his angel gets through this relatively unscathed.

“Lookin’ good, boys,” Gabriel grins as he comes into view, munching on an Eggo waffle that Dean can’t imagine Naomi keeping stock of in her kitchen. “You clean up well, Dean.”

“Back at ya,” he tosses back.

“Yeah, well, gotta look good for the big day ,” he scoffs. “Hate to do anything to put a black mark on such a special occasion.”

“I think that’s exactly what you want to do,” Dean smirks at him and Gabriel smirks back with a little shrug.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about, Dean-o,” he swallows the last bit of his breakfast. “I’m just here for my brother.”

Cas rolls his eyes and tugs at Dean’s arm. Dean glances over at him and raises a brow.

“Don’t encourage him,” Cas signs.

“I’m not,” Dean shrugs, taking Cas’s hand and kissing his knuckles. “He doesn’t need it. Gabe is gonna do whatever he’s gonna do.”

“Yup,” Gabriel grins then jerks his head to the side. “C’mon. They’re all in the family room. Limos will be here any minute and then we’ll all meet at the church.”

“Huh…” Dean chuckles under his breath as they follow Gabriel down the hall. “Lucifer getting married in a church. Kinda ironic. Who names their kid Lucifer anyway?”

Cas just grins and shrugs, rolling his eyes.

The wait for the limos is stuffy at best, and silent, for the most part. All of the women, save for Naomi, spent their morning getting ready at Lucifer and Kali’s house, and are taking separate limos to the church. Chuck sits in an armchair reading, his spectacles low on his nose, and Lucifer and Michael converse quietly off to the side, casting glances over at Dean and Cas every so often. Gabriel paces impatiently, earning a few side-eyed glances from Naomi.

“Castiel, darling,” Naomi says finally, walking over and attempting to tame his unruly hair. “Would you sit with me for the ceremony?”

He presses his lips together, but nods curtly, hands fidgeting by his sides. She gives him a tight-lipped smile and kisses his forehead, then pats his cheek.

An hour later, they’re all standing in a back room at the church, and Dean can see people beginning to arrive out the window, all dressed in outfits much more expensive than his own. He shifts uncomfortably, starting to feel a little self-conscious. He doesn’t know any of these people or how accepting they are, though he can venture a guess based on the fact that they’re friends of the Novaks.

It turns out that Michael and Anna are the only ones of Lucifer’s family that was invited to be in the wedding party, although Dean’s sure that it doesn’t bother Cas or Gabriel, and Anael doesn’t seem too broken up about it either. When all of the guests are seated, the family is ushered inside one by one, and Naomi is sure to take Cas by the arm as she walks down the aisle, leaving Dean trailing awkwardly behind. Cas turns to give him an apologetic look, but Dean just gives him a subtle shrug and a smile, and files into the pew beside him at the front of the sanctuary.

The ceremony is stuffy and formal, and Dean has to fight to stay awake. He’d half hoped Gabe would pull some mischievous crap, but the man is oddly silent and broody. Dean holds Cas’s hand the whole time, fully aware of the tight-lipped frown from Naomi.

Dean foolishly thought the reception would offer some relief, but when they arrive he discovers quickly he isn’t seated anywhere near Cas. Naomi had seen to it that Dean was placed at a table near the far back, under the guise that he hadn’t originally been invited and besides, where Cas is sitting is just for family .

Dean takes this all silently, even giving Cas a quick kiss on the cheek to wipe away that worried expression.

“No problem, angel,” he murmurs, squeezing Cas’s hand. “Don’t you worry about me. Go sit with your family.”

Castiel, his eyes still looking at Dean longingly, is pulled away by Naomi’s firm arm. Dean sighs and takes a seat next to some dude he doesn’t know, closing his eyes briefly to will the time to go quicker.

“Friend of the bride or groom?” a posh British accent asks, and Dean opens his eyes to see the man next to him looking at him, an eyebrow raised. He’s thin with blonde hair and a light, almost patchy beard, sipping on a rather large glass of red wine.

“Neither,” Dean says gruffly, half considering asking the guy where he got his alcohol. He figures it would be deemed impolite, although he hardly cares at this point, and instead takes a sip of his water. “You?”

“Groom, if I had to choose, I suppose. Though Lucifer’s nothing but a dodgy git,” the man says, gesturing vaguely to the front of the room with his glass. Another man next to him side-eyes him with a scowl and the blonde stares him down, then turns his attention back to Dean. “I’m not so naive as to think I wasn’t only invited for the gift. My parents are friends with the Novaks and as such...here I am.” He rolls his eyes and holds out a limp hand. “Balthazar.”

Dean shakes his hand. “I’m Dean.”

“Dean,” Balthazar repeats, nodding with a bit of a smile, eyes twinkling. “The boyfriend.”

Dean frowns. “I, uh…didn’t realize people knew that.”

“Oh, yes, Cassie’s quite often the topic of conversation at the Novak household. People talk. I listen.” He shrugs. “Not to mention, besides Gabe, Cassie’s about the only one of them I can stand to be around for more than five minutes.”

Dean chews his lip, lowering his voice. “I guess I just...assumed, based on how Naomi’s acted, that people didn’t...didn’t know Cas-”

“Has a tendency for uphill gardening?” Balthazar asks with a smirk, then frowns and shakes his head, staring at his glass of wine. “I apologize, I s’pose that’s a bit of a derogatory term these days-”

“No offense taken,” Dean mumbles, shrugging.

“Anyway, we’ve known since the boy started secondary school. He just never quite bonded with women the way a typical teenage boy did...though, come to think of it, I don’t much recall him really bonding with anyone. Kept to himself.” He takes a gulp of his wine. “A good kid, ol’ Cassie. Used to tag along with Gabriel and I back in the day.”

Dean licks his lips and swallows, looking toward the front of the room, scanning the tops of heads for Cas’s. He’s not hard to find, wild hair sticking up all over the place, despite Naomi’s efforts and the fact that he’s sunk about as far into his chair as he possibly can. The idea hits him then, that he could ask anything about Cas’s past to this Balthazar, who would likely willingly tell him whatever he wanted to know without so much as an afterthought. But he thinks of Cas, of his face if he found out that Dean had gone behind his back for information, and he refrains.

The party- if one would call it that- continues, and Dean mostly behaves himself, eating the painfully bland roast beef, green bean, and potato dish that’s served for dinner and partaking in perhaps a few too many expensive whiskeys, occasionally conversing with Balthazar in between meals and cake cutting and first dances. Little more than an hour in it’s time for speeches, and Kali’s maid of honor and sister delivers hers to a light ovation.

Michael stands next, at the wedding party table directly next to Lucifer and Kali, who turn to face him. He pulls out his notes and holds the microphone up, and Dean practically rolls his eyes when the man starts talking, the haze of the alcohol starting to make his eyes droopy.

“...and I knew when my brother first brought home Kali-”

A loud squealing causes Dean to jump slightly in his seat, along with half the table, and the room breaks out in lowly chatter as the microphone’s feedback continues to echo off the walls of the large room.

“...this...testinggg...is this thing, ah, there we go.”

Oh, shit .

Gabriel emerges from the back of the room, stumbling slightly, smug smile stretched across his face. Everyone sits a little straighter in their seats, looking between Gabriel to the wedding party, who all look an equal mix of horrified and irritated, save for Lucifer, who looks downright irate. Michael grips his own microphone tighter, holding it back up to his lips, desperately trying to keep the speech from derailing.

“Uh, I...when my brother first brought home Kali, I knew-”

“-knew that although it was her first time in Luci’s bed, it certainly wasn’t the first time she’d come home with one of the Novak brothers,” Gabriel continues, stopping by the liquor table and grabbing a bottle of scotch, turning it up as he stumbles forward. The crowd gasps and murmurs softly, and Dean sees Naomi stand, everything in her body language giving off the kind of anger that Dean definitely wouldn’t want directed at him. Lucifer sits straight up in his chair and even from a distance, Dean can see Kali’s face growing red.

“I- I knew she was...she would be the one he’d marry-”

“-because she couldn’t have the one she really wanted-” Gabriel chuckles into the microphone as he intentionally dances around a couple of tables, the opposite direction that Naomi is heading, doing his best to avoid her.

“She’s exactly the sort of girl he always talked about having for a wife- prayerful, faithful, compliant-”

“I’ll say,” Gabriel comments, earning a couple of stilted laughs from the crowd.

Lucifer stands slowly, stepping away from his chair and taking another step toward Gabriel, twisting his wrist roughly from Kali’s grasp when she tries to stop him. Gabriel leans heavily on one of the tables between him and Naomi, reaching across to steal someone’s glass before downing the whole thing. He doubles back the way he came, Naomi and Lucifer both in pursuit as calmly as they’re able, and he crosses the room, making his way up toward the front and leaning over the wedding party table, across from Kali.

“How’sit feel ending up with the consolation prize?” he asks her into the microphone, words slurring. Her jaw clenches and she promptly slaps him, causing his head to snap to one side.

Ooh !” he exclaims with a chuckle, standing and rubbing his cheek. “Just as feisty as the night we met, my love. Keep that fire burnin’-” he gestures to Lucifer, hot on his trail, “-you’re gonna need it with this one.”

Dean can’t decide if he wants to laugh or hide his face in embarrassment, despite this having nothing to do with him. He can see from where he’s sitting that Cas has opted for the latter, sinking low in his chair with a hand over his face. Never in his years has he seen something quite like this, Gabriel dancing between tables and skillfully avoiding capture while he continues to slur into the microphone. The whole reception is watching, some with amusement and some with disgust.

Dean just sighs and sits back, sipping his wine and watching as Gabriel is finally cornered. Lucifer takes the microphone roughly and Naomi, as calmly as possible, escorts Gabriel out of the room. They walk by Dean’s table and Gabriel gives him a drunken wink before they disappear out the door.

“Well,” Balthazar drawls. “That was something. Can’t say I’m too surprised. Gabe was always smitten with Kali, even after she left him. Poor chap.”

Dean shakes his head and the room gradually returns to a quiet murmur, everyone turning back to whatever conversation they’d been having. Michael sits back down, seeming to have given up on giving a toast, at least for the moment. Dean smirks into his glass, glad the two brothers were taken down a peg or two. Nothing like public humiliation to pop someone’s swollen head.

Tired of sitting, Dean gets up meanders to the terrace. It’s blessedly free of others, albeit a little chilly, and he closes the glass doors behind him, breathing a sigh of relief when the chatter mutes behind the doors. He doesn’t know how Cas stands this shit. Then again, Cas left at 16, so likely he couldn’t stand it anymore than Dean can.

He walks over to the stone railing and rests his arms on it, looking out over the garden below. The sun is starting to set, finally bringing the horrible day to an end. Dean can’t wait to retreat to Cas’s room and hold his angel close. Cas is the only person that could possibly make the stink of the day wash away.

He snorts as he sees Naomi practically dragging Gabriel down the walkway moments later, to a cab waiting at the corner. She stuffs him inside and hands a wad of money to the driver, and the car pulls away, only to stop before it reaches the end of the long drive, unbeknownst to Naomi, who’s already making her way briskly back up the sidewalk. She looks up and sees Dean before he can hide, shakes her head, and disappears under the terrace. Dean looks back up to see Gabriel again, now out of the car and drunkenly stumbling across the lawn, and he chuckles to himself, wondering what exactly the man has planned now.

He’d been so distracted with the scene he hadn’t heard the doors open, but he feels arms looping around his waist from behind, warmth enveloping him, and he hums and lays a hand over one of Cas’s.

“I think I’m beginning to understand your love of travel,” Dean says, the answering huff making him smile. “Or, at the very least, why you don’t come back here.” He turns, once again unprepared for the perpetual sex hair and big blue eyes that regard him, always taking his breath a bit. And not that Cas isn’t always this breathtaking, but the amount of alcohol Dean’s put away at this point definitely isn’t doing his own interested dick any favors.

“Better not let your mom catch you out here with me,” Dean says lowly, unthinking, and Cas’s brow furrows as he pulls back. “Um. I just...I just mean, she doesn’t seem too keen on PDA, you know?”

That answers seems to eventually satisfy Cas, as he only looks at him strangely for another few seconds, then pointedly presses his body against Dean’s, his arms tightening around his middle.

“You wanna get out of here?”

Cas pulls back and gives him a sad smile.

“I wish,” he signs, “but I’m afraid I’m sort of obligated to stay until the end, being family and all. I wouldn’t blame you, though, if you wanted to leave.”

Dean lays his hand on Cas’s cheek, stroking with his thumb. “Nah, not gonna leave you here alone with them.”

Cas shifts uncomfortably. “I just know it’s not fair to you, to feel like have to hide who you are, hide the fact you’re with me.”

“Well, so do you.”

Cas shrugs. “I’m used to it.”

Dean bites his lip and looks up at the doors, at the people inside, some sitting and talking and some up and dancing. He clenches his jaw and drops his hand, taking Cas’s in his own, and starts pulling him toward the door. Cas tries to resist, his eyes wide, and he pulls his hand away to sign.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m not ashamed of who I am, and I’m not ashamed that I’m with you. If all these people have a problem with that, they can shove it right up their asses- including your family. Now come on-” he holds out his hand, smiling softly, “-I’d like you to dance with me.”

Cas blushes and glances around nervously. “Dean, I-I’ve never really danced before.”

“Me neither,” Dean shrugs. “Guess we can learn that together, too.”

Cas hesitates then slowly accepts Dean’s hand, smiling shyly as he’s lead to the dance floor. There are already couples dancing, so Dean and Cas slip their way into the crowd. Smiling, Dean loops an arm around Cas’s waist and keeps a hold on his hand, pulling him close. Cas, his face red, wraps his free arm around Dean and lays his cheek on his shoulder. He closes his eyes and relaxes marginally, content to let Dean lead the way.

Dean wasn’t lying when he said he’d never danced. He did, briefly- at a school dance- if one could call that dancing. He knows how to pretend, though. With Cas in his arms, Dean gently sways them back and forth, occasionally twirling Cas playfully to get a huff and a smile. He honestly doesn’t know if they’re getting looks or not, too preoccupied with how good it feels to have Cas pressed close. If he closes his eyes, Dean can almost imagine this is their wedding… and that thought doesn’t scare him at all.

A hand on his cheek draws him out of his thoughts and he opens his eyes, finding the familiar calm of blue eyes on him. Cas smiles softly and leans forward, gently brushing their lips together briefly before pulling away again. He inclines his head to the side, toward the door, and Dean raises his eyebrows.

“I thought you had to stay-?”

Cas shrugs and takes his hand, leading him through the crowd and the double doors of the secondary entrance into an empty stairwell. The doors swing shut behind them, leaving them in blessed, comfortable silence, and Cas backs up against the wall, pulling Dean with him. He looks gorgeous, as always, but also utterly drained, features haggard, with dark circles under his eyes. Regardless, Dean can't stop staring, and Cas offers him another smile and holds up his hand in a familiar sign.

“I love you, too,” Dean says softly, cupping his cheek, his next words coming out in a huff. “God help me, Cas, I… I’m… so in love with you."

Cas presses his lips together in a tight smile and swallows hard, reaching up to take Dean's hand.

Dean scrapes his teeth over his bottom lip, laying his other hand on Cas's neck. “I need you to hear this, Cas. Whatever this is, whatever we are, whatever you want here… no matter what happens in the future or… what's happened in the past…” he swallows, eyes bouncing back and forth over Cas's features, “I'm all in. And if you need to go… I'm always gonna be here. Cause I c- I can't be me without you. Not anymore.”

Even in the low light Dean can see Cas's eyes shine with tears, and he hushes him softly and shakes his head.

“Hey… no, baby, I didn't… didn't mean to make you upset, I just-"

Cas shakes his head and smiles, pulling Dean’s hand to his lips and closing his eyes, letting his head fall back against the wall.

“Cas, I’m…” Dean sighs and shakes his head slowly, stepping closer to the other. “I’m sorry I pushed you with...all of this. I didn’t know what I was talkin’ about. I’m starting to see why you avoid your family so much. They’re...well, frankly, exhausting...and kind of terrible.”

Cas huffs and rolls his eyes. An understatement .

Dean nods and chuckles, rubbing the back of his neck. “Yeah. I mean, not everyone is so bad. Your dad seems nice enough. Anna and Anael are cool, too. Gabe is...uh, entertaining.”

Cas smiles briefly, though it looks strained and tired. Dean frowns and traces his cheekbones, the bags under those blue eyes. “I’m just sayin’...I get it. And I’ll never push you to see them more again, okay? We do things on your time, when you’re comfortable.”

Cas sighs and reaches up, looping an arm around Dean’s neck and pulling him in to bump their foreheads together. He taps the back of Dean’s head three times and earns a small smile.

“Love you too, baby,” Dean whispers, sliding his hand down Cas’s face to his neck. “If you want, I can call us a cab. Get outta here. What do you say?”

Cas closes and thinks for a long minute, before finally nodding. He looks reluctant, even now, to disobey his obligations to his family. Maybe Dean gave him the courage to get out of an uncomfortable situation, family or not, or maybe Dean is just a bad influence. Either way, Dean doesn’t really care. He hates Cas looking so worn and exhausted, and he couldn’t imagine what his dear mother has been saying to him all night with Dean nowhere near by to defend him.

“C’mon, sweetheart,” Dean tugs him down the stairway. “I think we’re done here. Let’s get you to bed, hm?”

Cas gives him a tired smile and nods, letting himself be led down the steps and outside. Just minutes later they're piled into a cab on the way home, Cas dozing on his shoulder. Dean smooths down his hair and takes his hand, pressing his forehead against the window. It's just begun to rain and the drops roll down the window outside and coat the windshield, making for a longer drive, but Dean relishes in the time spent with his angel, finally away from everyone else.

When they pull up at the house, Dean pays the driver and helps a groggy Cas up the sidewalk, snaking an arm around his waist as Cas punches in the code to get inside. The house feels less cold with just the two of them there, and it only hits Dean then that despite everything, this is Cas's home… the one he grew up in, the one he was molded in, and there's something kind of innocent and pure about that.

Dean helps him to his room and strips off his damp tux, and the poor guy is practically dead on his feet, barely holding to Dean as he steps out of his shoes and pants. Dean takes his time removing his tie and unbuttoning his shirt, throwing the tie over his shoulder as he helps Cas out of the shirt and tosses it to the side. He's about to toss the tie to the side when Cas grabs his wrist, swallowing hard and pressing his lips together, pulling Dean lightly as he leads him over to the bed.

Dean cocks his head, blinking at Cas curiously. “Cas, maybe we should just sleep-”

Cas tightens his grip on Dean’s wrist, the one attached to the hand still clutching the tie, and it suddenly clicks what Cas is asking for. Dean swallows, thumb stroking along the blue silk of the tie, and glances at the bed.

“You sure?” he asks lowly, finding Cas’s gaze again. Cas nods, unblinking, that blue eyes tired and desperate. It’s plain to see he needs this and Dean is more than happy-and able-to give it to him.

“Okay,” Dean says softly. “Just your eyes. Haven’t figured out how to bind you safely yet.”

Cas nods again and allows Dean to push gently on his shoulders until he is sitting on the edge of the bed. Dean unfurls the tie, stretching out between his hands.

“Remember, two taps means to stop,” he reminds Cas as he slowly loops the tie around Cas’s eyes. Cas affirms this with another nod, his fingers clenching and unclenching in the sheets by his thighs, and twitching when Dean finishes knotting the tie around his head.

“Comfortable?” Dean asks. “Anything hurt?”

Cas shakes his head, a leg bouncing slightly.

“Hey,” Dean says gently, his voice close and a hand cupping Cas’s cheek. “You gotta relax, angel. Nice and easy. I got you, okay? I’m gonna take care of you.”

Cas takes a breath and lets it out slowly, his hands unclenching and laying flat against the sheets. Dean takes a minute to appreciate how fucking beautiful Cas looks this way, with only the light of the moon highlighting his tanned skin, the perfection in his imperfections. Dean takes his time removing his own clothes, even folding them neatly and setting them to the side. He finally kneels in front of him, hands splayed across his thighs, then moves them down to his calves, then his ankles, and slowly back up again, touching every inch of Cas that he can. Cas shivers when he reaches his thighs again and moves his own hands to Dean's hair, and Dean continues to touch him, moving his hands up Cas's torso and to his shoulders, then back down his arms, finally taking his hands and moving them back to the bed.

“Okay?” he whispers, and Cas nods, his mouth hanging open as he draws in air.

“You look so gorgeous, angel,” Dean says softly, caressing his cheek. “Can't get enough of you.”

Cas tenses slightly when Dean leans him back, relaxing again when Dean joins him, pressing against his front as he dips down to kiss him.  

“That’s it, baby,” Dean whispers against his lips, nudging his jawline and nibbling at his skin. “You’re doing so good. Nice and relaxed for me.”

Cas takes a shuddering breath and lets it out slowly, arms twitching at his sides.

“Here, baby,” Dean grabs a hand and lets it lay across his shoulder. “Touch me. Feel me. I’m right here. Right here for you.”

Cas tightens his hand across the back of Dean’s neck while the other grips Dean’s left shoulder, fingers splayed across the muscle. Dean takes his time, kissing his way down Cas’s gorgeous body. Down the jaw, across the slight arch of the neck, stopping to nip at the tempting collar bone. When he gets to a nipple, he pauses and licks, chuckling when Cas sucks in a breath. Dean blows on it, watching it stiffen before his eyes, and hums as he takes the nub into his mouth. Cas writhes and Dean wonders vaguely if the absence of sight makes the sensations sharper, stronger. Or perhaps Cas is just so emotionally drawn out that any touch is going to set fire.

He laves his tongue over the nub, mouthing over it when he pulls away and gives the same attentions to the other. Cas's hands roam over his arms and shoulders, unable to stay still, and Dean shivers lightly at the touch.

“Doing so well, baby,” he praises as he moves down his body and noses at his cock. Cas lets his hands fall back to the bed and clutch the sheets, arching slightly when Dean licks a stripe up his length. He doesn't stop there though, instead moving lower and gently pushing up on Cas's thighs, exposing his clenching hole. He moves Cas's hands up to replace his own.

“Hold yourself open for me, sweetheart,” Dean murmurs, nuzzling his thigh. “Gonna make you feel good, help you relax.”

Cas obeys, and Dean dips down and drags his tongue across the tight muscle, hearing Cas's sharp intake of breath. He circles his tongue, humming softly, feeling Cas begin to relax with each pass.

Dean loves opening Cas up like this because it turns him into a beautiful, gasping mess. Not to mention how much it makes him blush. Cas’s thighs are already trembling as Dean dips the tip of his tongue inside, flicking it briefly before retreating and circling the rim once again.

“You look so damn good like this,” Dean murmurs, swiping his tongue over Cas’s sac and smiling when his cock twitches, pre-cum dribbling out slowly.  “I love that only I get to see this side of you. That I’m the only one who has ever seen you like this. My beautiful angel...”

Cas squirms, his hole twitching, the grip on his thighs turning knuckle-white. Dean hums and teases his rim, his tongue slipping inside again, loosening Cas up with every pass. When it’s clear that Cas can’t hold his trembling legs anymore, Dean takes over, his hands sliding up to grip those meaty thighs firmly. Cas’s arms fall to his sides as he gasps, arching slightly, chest heaving with every breath.

“So perfect, Cas, doing so well,” Dean says softly, pressing a kiss against his rim before he pulls away and reaches for the lube. He kneels, sitting back on his calves as he squeezes some of the liquid onto his fingers, rubbing them together to heat it slightly. He lays a hand on Cas’s inner thigh, a silent command to spread them wider. Cas lets them fall open and Dean splays his hand over Cas’s belly as he presses the first finger inside, his hole wet and pliant around him. Cas squirms as he works the finger in and out slowly, quickly adding a second which is met with only minimal resistance. Cas reaches up and grips Dean’s wrist and Dean flips his hand over, lacing their fingers together as he works him open.

The sound of Cas’s panting mixed with the wet sound of his prepping has Dean painfully hard, his cock throbbing between his legs, aching to be inside. He takes his time, though, adding a third finger after a few minutes, sliding them in and out, scissoring gently, until Cas is practically permanently arched up off the bed, sweat beading across his forehead and chest.

Dean finally retracts his fingers and situates himself between Cas’s legs, teasing his hole with the head of his cock.

“C’mere, baby,” he says softly, hooking his hands around his thighs and pulling him down to him. He lines up and starts pushing inside slowly, resisting the urge to push roughly into the tight heat. He relishes every second of it, every nuanced movement from the man under him, until he slides all the way home and circles his hips.

Cas pushes his hips down, wanting Dean impossibly deeper, his neck and back arched off the bed. Dean shushes him gently, steadying his hips with a firm hand.

“No rush, sweetheart,” Dean murmurs, hooking his hand under Cas’s thigh and draping the leg over his shoulder, getting his angle just a little deeper. “Gonna enjoy this. Make you forget about everything else but this…”

Dean presses into Cas, his head nudging against the prostate and making Cas gasp and claw at the sheets. He chuckles darkly and slides out smoothly, pushing back in before Cas could even huff his annoyance. Dean shifts on his knees and leans forward, practically bending Cas in half as he pushes in again. Cas opens his mouth in a silent moan, arching again, his heel digging into Dean’s back.

Dean watches Cas’s face for the next couple of thrusts, watches his mouth agape, sweat slicking his forehead, nostrils flaring. His hands are grasping desperately at Dean’s back, pulling around his neck, and Dean reaches up and takes them, lacing their fingers together and pressing them above Cas’s forehead as he dips down to nuzzle his jaw.

“If you need me to stop, I want you to squeeze twice. Nod if you understand.”

Cas nods, his breath hitching when Dean roughly thrusts in again, most of his weight now on Cas’s frame. The angle allows him to throw his full weight into each thrust, pressing him into the mattress, skin slapping against skin with every snap of his hips. Dean turns his head to press kisses against Cas’s neck and jaw, Cas’s breath coming out in puffs against his cheek, tickling his ear, growing more and more erratic. He clenches around Dean’s girth and Dean’s hips stutter slightly, the pressure sending an extra wave of pleasure through his body.

“Do you have any idea what you do to me, Cas,” Dean groans out, his voice husky, breathless. “You drive me fuckin’ crazy. Can’t even look at you without my heart tryin’ to beat out of my chest.”

Cas turns his face away, sweaty skin flushing with either pleasure or embarrassment. The tie’s edges are soaked with sweat, the knot bunching up around all that wild hair.

Dean grunts and pushes forward, throwing his weight into the thrust, and Cas gasps as it pushes him into the headboard. He squeezes Dean’s hand and for a moment Dean pauses, but Cas keeps squeezing and rolls his hips in encouragement. Dean hisses when he clenches around him and snaps his hips roughly, getting deeper into that heat.

“You’re incredible,” Dean whispers into his cheek, kissing and nipping over the jawline, his thrusts becoming quick and erratic. “So good, angel. Perfect, you’re perfect for me. All mine, right, Cas?”

Cas nods and presses his lips to Dean’s rough cheek, mouthing against the sweat-slicked skin.

“It's just me and you, baby,” Dean whispers breathlessly against Cas's ear, “forget everyone, everything else. Just me and you.”

Cas's breath hitches and he clenches down hard around Dean as he spills between them. Dean thrusts deep as he works him through it, his arms wrapping around his shoulders, one hand squeezing the back of his neck. Dean follows shortly after, when Cas's body is shaking with its aftershocks, pressing deep as he fills him.

Dean yanks the tie off Cas's eyes and immediately presses their lips together, one hand up in his hair as the other caresses his jaw and strokes his cheek. Cas parts his lips and allows Dean to dip his tongue inside, tasting each other as they pant into one another's mouths. It's uncoordinated and messy and fucking perfect .

When he has nothing left to pump into Cas and his lungs burn for air, Dean breaks the kiss with a small gasp. They breathe each other’s air for a few moments, faces flushed, then Dean groans as he slowly pulls out. Cas winces slightly and grunts as Dean rolls to the side, laying flat on his back as he pants up at the ceiling. Cas tucks himself into the crook of Dean’s arm, pressing close despite the mess on his stomach and the sticky sweat on their skin.

They lay in silence for a while, sweat cooling and cum drying. Dean finally crawls off the bed after a kiss to Cas’s cheek and fetches a damp washcloth. He returns shortly and cawls in next to Cas, who hasn’t appeared to have moved a muscle. Dean smiles and settles next to him, starting with the mess on his stomach.

“You did so well, sweetheart,” Dean says softly. “Did it...did it help?”

Cas smiles tiredly and nods, laying still and relaxed while Dean washes away the evidence of their activities.

“Good…” Dean grazes his lip as he moves between Cas’s legs, gently wiping away the mess he’d left behind. “Whenever you need it, Cas, you just let me know. Wanna give you everything, baby.”

Cas reaches out to grab Dean’s wrist, halting his work and causing Dean to look up questioningly.

“If you need it, too,” Cas signs to him with a nod.

Dean smiles and licks his lips. “Yeah, baby, I know.” He finishes up and tosses the washcloth to the side, pulling Cas in and kissing his forehead as he settles back in beside him. He pulls back and ghosts his thumb along Cas’s jaw, humming softly. “They’ll be home soon. Should, uh...maybe get you dressed, get back to my own room. Wouldn’t want them to catch me in here with you, huh?” He huffs a humorless laugh.

“Let them,” Cas signs with a shrug.

“Cas, you don’t-”

“I’m an adult, Dean,” Cas signs, “and they can get mad that I don’t visit them, and that I don’t do what they want me to for a living, and that I’m dating you, if they want. But they’re not going to shame me into stopping.”

Dean sighs, smoothing down Cas’s hair on one side and cupping his neck with both hands. “Breakfast might be awkward.”

Cas smiles and shrugs.

“You little rebel, you.”

Cas grins widely, eyes crinkling in the corners, and he looks down, no doubt blushing even though it’s too dark to see it.

Dean chews his lip. “Hey Cas, I...I keep tellin’ myself I’m not gonna…” he huffs and shakes his head, “there, uh. There’s been some things said, since I got here, and I-”

Cas looks up, looking more afraid than curious, his eyes wide and sad. Dean pauses, rethinks the conversation in his head. He reiterates what Gabriel had said, the conclusion he’d come to on his own about how Cas would- eventually- tell him everything. He still believes that, even though it’s killing him to know. And looking at Cas now...he can see he’s not ready, see that pushing him could only end badly.

He shakes his head slightly and huffs a laugh. “Is it really true your brother does gay porn too, or-?”

Cas’s face immediately changes to a mixture of relief and amusement, and Dean laughs when he gives him a hard shove, almost knocking him off the bed. He chuckles as he catches himself and clings tightly to Cas, then kisses him again innocently.

“Speaking of Gabriel...can’t imagine Naomi’s gonna allow him to stay here tonight.”

“Doubt he’d make the attempt,” Cas signs with a grin, “then again, he’s quite unpredictable when he drinks.”

“I noticed.”

Cas nods, his smile fading, his eyes beginning to droop again. Dean runs his hand through the unruly dark hair and kisses his forehead, then helps him under the sheets, curling in beside him. Cas buries his face in Dean’s chest, his arm draped over his side and clutching his back.

Dean thinks Cas is asleep before he hears him even say goodnight, his breathing evened out, blowing puffs of air against his chest. He rests chin on the top of Cas’s head and strokes his hair, recapping the day so far, every moment leading up to this one; every sour look from Naomi and Cas’s brothers- minus Gabe- the talk with Chuck, the secrecy...Cas’s mother’s outright contempt for him and her utter lack of respect for Cas’s own choices. He tries to imagine what Cas’s childhood must’ve looked like, and finds it too difficult to do so. He can’t imagine what things used to be like for him before he finally got out...how he was surely pushed around and made to live a life that wasn’t his own. He pulls Cas close, into the safety of his arms.

Well, fuck that. Never again.

It’s long after that Dean finally falls asleep, after he hears everyone else come in downstairs, after he hears Naomi’s heels on the steps, checking his room, and finally standing just outside Cas’s door before retreating back down the steps. He buries his face in all that hair and he sleeps, dreaming of the day that he gets Cas all the way out of that house...the day he can get him to smile without any pain in his eyes.

Chapter Text

After the next uneventful day- just he and Cas spending time at the local beach- Dean awakes to a dry hacking sound the following morning. He opens his eyes to see Cas sitting up in bed and coughing loudly into his arm, desperately sucking in breaths in between. He’s coughing hard enough to shake his whole body, his face red, tears in his eyes. Dean frowns and sits up, rubbing his back gently.

“Maybe you should see a doctor, Cas-”

Cas vehemently shakes his head, gasping for breath. The next loud cough makes him gag, and Dean whips around quickly and grabs the trash can by his bed, holding it up to him in case he gets sick. He doesn’t though, catching his breath as he holds the mouth of the small can, blinking through his tears.

“Seriously, Cas...all night with this. I know you think it’s just a cold, but it could go into pneumonia, or bronchitis-”

Cas shakes his head again, wheezing as he tries to breathe.

Dean presses his lips together and grabs Cas’s chin gently, turning his head so he can look at his face. It’s pale and his eyes are bloodshot, although that could be from the coughing, and the bags under his eyes are getting worse instead of better, even considering the fact that they laid down for bed before 9 p.m. the night before.

“Cas,” Dean says slowly, gently. “I really...I may have to put my foot down on this one. You don’t look good at all. You need to see a doctor.”

Cas moves to shake his head again, his face set into a stubborn scowl, but Dean keeps his grip tight on Cas’s chin.

“No, Cas, damnit,” Dean huffs, narrowing his eyes when the other just glares at him. “I’m not letting you do this anymore. You gotta take care of yourself. I’ll pay for the visit, the medicine, I don’t care. But you are going.”

Cas rips away from Dean’s hand and stands- or tries to, anyway- before a wave of dizziness overcomes him. Dean catches him easily, arms securely around his waist, and Cas huffs into Dean’s chest.

“You can be grouchy with me all you want,” Dean grunts and gently pushes Cas back down on the bed. “You wanna be an adult? Then you’re gonna go to the doctor.”

Cas glares up at him, but can’t muster up any argument as he goes into another coughing fit. Dean rubs his back soothingly, holding up the trash can when it looks like Cas night get sick. His coughs and his gag sounds painful, and he clings to Dean desperately.

When he’s settled back down and curled up under the covers, Dean digs out his phone and shoots Gabriel a text message asking if Cas has a regular primary doctor locally. Gabriel replies quickly with info to a Dr. Garth Fitzgerald, so Dean calls up the clinic and gets the next available appointment, ignoring the withering glare coming from under the covers.

If looks could kill, Dean would be up in flames by now.

His phone buzzes again with another message before he can think about what to do next, Gabriel’s name popping up on the screen.

 

Gabe: Is everything okay?

 

Dean glances up at Cas, whose eyes are closed again, chest rising and falling with his labored breath, and types a message back:

 

Dean: Seems like a bad cold or something. They squeezed him in for early this afternoon.

 

He sits down on the edge of the bed, careful not to disturb Cas.

 

Gabe: I’ll take him .

 

Dean frowns and shakes his head, despite the fact that no one- least of all Gabe- can see him. He texts back quickly.

 

Dean: I don’t mind. No need in you going out of your way.

Gabe: Already on the way.

Dean: I can handle it.

Gabe: Can’t text you while I’m driving, Dean-o.

 

Dean scowls and tosses his phone on the bed, scrubbing his hands over his face. He looks over at Cas, whose mouth his hanging open as he drags in air, a soft rattle in his chest and a sheen of sweat across his forehead, which very well could just have been from the exertion of his coughing fit, for all Dean knows. He reaches out and lays a hand above the comforter on Cas’s knee, giving it a gentle squeeze.

Dean eventually got Cas in some clothes suitable for public, if just barely. Cas is no help, laying like a lump while Dean slipped him into some very worn jeans and an oversized sweater. He actually looks pretty damn adorable, even with the bloodshot eyes and grumpy frown. Cas is positively rumpled when Dean drags him out of bed after a text from Gabriel announcing his arrival.

With Cas leaning on him heavily, Dean gets him out the room and down the stairs.  Dean’s hopes to avoid family members are dashed when Naomi appears around the corner just as he’s opening the front door.

“What are you- Castiel?” she gapes, horrified at his pale skin and rattling chest. “You look awful!”

“That’s nice,” Dean snorts sarcastically, earning a icy glare.

“This is not a joke!” she steps closer, lips pursed. “Castiel is prone to sickness.”

“I noticed,” Dean rolls his eyes. “Look, with all due respect, Mrs. Novak, can we have this conversation later? I need to get him to his doctor appointment-”

“You’re taking him to the doctor,” she says flatly, looking at him strangely.

Dean blinks. “Uh, yeah. He hates goin’. God knows last time I had to practically drag him kicking and screaming.”

“He-” Naomi swallows, fingers clenching. “He’s gone for you before. To the doctor. He let you take him?”

Dean raises a brow, frown deeping. “Not sure ‘let’ is the right word, but yeah.”

Cas tugs at his sleeve insistently, avoiding his mother’s sharp gaze. Dean nods and ushers him out the door without another word. Gabriel is out front and Dean helps Cas into the front seat, immediately sliding into the back.

“Oh, uh,” Gabe bites his lip. “I can totally handle this, buddy. You can just-”

“Shut the hell up and drive,” Dean growls, slamming the door.

Gabriel doesn’t argue, probably because they really needed to get going if they were going to make the appointment, and they’re on the road quickly.

“Hey, Cassie, you look like shit,” Gabriel says cheerfully, giving his baby brother a pinch on the cheek. Cas huffs tiredly and bats his hand away, slumping in the seat and pouting like a child.

“Shoulda heard him earlier,” Dean clicks his tongue. “Sounded like he was gonna hack up a lung.”

“Well,” Gabriel sighs. “It’s not the worst I’ve ever seen him.”

Dean frowns and wonders what exactly was the worst he’s ever seen Cas, but he knows he won’t get any kind of real answer. He sighs and leans back, closing his eyes. One day he’d know what all of this is about. One day Cas will be ready to talk about it. Until then, he had to be patient.

Gabriel’s phone rings and he holds it up in front of his face briefly before silencing it and shoving it back in his pocket.

“Just mother,” Gabe says nonchalantly, looking in the rearview mirror. “Good thing she doesn't have your number. She’s relentless.”

Cas rests his head against the window and closes his eyes with a deep sigh. He doesn't make an attempt at conversation for the rest of the drive, and he shrugs off help from both Gabriel and Dean when they arrive at the doctor's office, waving them both off and marching inside ahead of them, his arms wrapped tightly around his torso.

Gabe sighs and shoves his hands in his pockets, just shaking his head when Dean tries to follow after him.

“Give ‘im his space,” he grunts, falling in step with Dean, several paces behind Cas. “You'll find quickly, if there's anything that'll get you on his bad side, it's not respecting his boundaries. Gotta be supportive without being suffocating.”

“I know that!” Dean snaps, then immediately feels like shit for doing so and hangs his head. “Sorry, just- wish he would let me help him more. Feel like, with him, I’m wading out in the middle of the ocean and I don’t know which way is land.”

Gabriel nods knowingly as they come to a stop a few steps behind Cas, where he’s hunched over the reception desk to write his name on the check-in pad.

“Cas has always been a little…” Gabriel’s face scrunches as he thinks of the word, “well, frankly, weird. Not in a bad way, though. At least, not to me or Anael. But he’s...you know, it’s like trying to nail jelly to the wall. You’re never gonna get it. You go one way, he picks a totally different way that you didn’t even know existed. You’ll never catch up to him. You’re gonna have to tread that water until he eventually nudges you in the right direction.”

Dean sighs and rubs the back of his neck as they follow Cas into the waiting room. Cas plops into a chair, sinking down and wrapping his arms around his middle again. Dean sits next to him and Cas leans his way, resting his cheek on Dean’s shoulder. Gabriel raises his eyebrows but wisely says nothing, crossing one leg over another and picking up one of the magazines to thumb through.

It's another twenty minute or so wait before the door opens to the waiting room and a nurse pokes her head out, smiling over at them.

“Castiel?”

Cas nods and stands, pulling at the bottom of his sweater before making his way to the door. Dean stands too, with the intention of following, but Gabriel grabs his wrist, shaking his head subtly when Dean looks back at him.

Cas glances back at him and presses his lips into a thin line, then disappears behind the door, the nurse smiling first at him, then at Dean and Gabriel, before pulling the door closed behind them. Dean shifts on his feet, eventually huffing and beginning to pace the floor.

“Dammit, Gabriel, how-” he clenches his fists by his sides and turns to face the other man, “if I don't know what… if I can't know what's going on, how am I supposed to help him?”

Gabriel ignores him, flipping through his magazine.

Dean grits his teeth and looks back and forth between Gabriel and the door. “You know he's gonna go in there and downplay it, right? He's not gonna let ‘em know how bad it is.”

Gabriel pauses and frowns, tilting his head and glancing up at the door. “Good point.” He slaps the magazine down beside him and stands, straightening his shirt. “I'll go let the doc know.”

“No, I will,” Dean stands as well, using his height and build go his advantage to shoulder past Gabriel.

“Uh, maybe you should just-“

“No,” Dean rounds on him, eyes blazing. “Look, no one wants to tell me what happened… that’s fine. I can wait. But like hell I’m gonna let him and the rest of you keep me from being there for him now.”

Gabriel blinks and slowly sits back down, watching Dean storm through the door. It doesn’t take Dean long to find Cas with the help of one of the bewildered-looking nurses. He knocks then lets himself in, ignoring Cas’s incredulous look and the doctor’s surprise.

“Don’t mind me,” Dean says, taking a seat next to Cas. “Just the loving boyfriend, here to make sure he actually tells you what you need to know.”

“Ah,” Dr. Fitzgerald smiles, his face open and friendly. “You must be Dean, then. Castiel was just talking about you.” Fitzgerald is a lanky fellow with big ears, a wide grin, and still young enough that Dean wonders if he graduated med school early. He doesn’t look a typical doctor in Dean’s opinion, but maybe that’s why Cas puts up with seeing him.

“Yeah, that’s me,” Dean smiles back, reaching out to take Cas’s hand. Cas huffs, but lets their fingers tangle together. “Hope he told you good things.”

“He said you were pushy and stubborn and probably about to walk through the door at any moment.”

Dean blinks and blushes, looking down at his lap sheepishly. Cas cracks a grin through the fog of his exhaustion and squeezes Dean’s hand.

“Guess he wasn’t wrong.”

“Guess not,” Dr. Fitzgerald says with a crooked smile, then turns his attention to his chart, flipping through a few pages of notes. “Well, Castiel. Been over a year since you’ve been in. Some reason you don’t wanna come see me?”

“Don’t think anyone wants to come to the doctor,” Cas signs, and Dr. Fitzgerald laughs after a minute, nodding.

“Fair enough.” He drops the papers back to his clipboard and sits it to the side, sitting down in his chair and clasping his hands between his legs. “So what’s been going on? Why’d Dean and your brother make you come in today?”

Cas rolls his eyes. “It’s just a cold.”

“Just a cold, my ass,” Dean grunts, ignoring Cas when he shoots an icy glare at him. “He started with the cough a few days ago, just here and there at first. But he kept me up all night coughing last night, didn’t get any sleep himself, wheezing, can’t catch his breath.” He shakes his head. “Ain’t just a cold.”

Dr. Fitzgerald hums, raising an eyebrow at Cas. “No, it doesn’t sound like it. Alright, well I’ll just have a listen, see what I can find.” He adjusts his stethoscope and stands, holding it up in front of Cas before lifting his shirt enough to press it to his chest. Cas jumps slightly and frowns, and Dr. Fitzgerald mumbles a ‘sorry’, then: “Okay, deep breath in, let it out slowly.”

Cas obeys, taking several deep breaths and letting them back out, and even from where he sits Dean can hear the soft rattle in his chest and wheeze on the exhale. Dr. Fitzgerald frowns and straightens, moves to his back, and repeats, finally nodding and pulling the stethoscope from his ears, letting it fall around his neck.

“Think you’ve got a touch of bronchitis,” Dr. Fitzgerald says to Cas, whose expression is unreadable. “I’m gonna prescribe you an antibiotic, something for the cough, and an inhaler to help you open those airways, and if you’re having any pain just take some ibuprofen to reduce inflammation. Other than that, it should go away on its own in a few weeks. However, if it doesn’t get any better, you’ll need to come back for x-rays. It could easily slip into pneumonia if we’re not careful.” He eyes Cas, finally giving him another nod. “We clear?”

“Can’t come back,” Cas signs.

“Why’s that?”

“Don’t live here anymore,” Cas shrugs, wringing his hands together.

Dean scowls, looking up at the doctor. “Don’t worry. He gets worse, I’ll make sure he gets that x-ray. No matter where he’s at.”

“Excellent,” the doctor smiles, typing a few things on his laptop. “I’ve sent your prescription to the last pharmacy you had listed here, so I hope that’s okay.”

Cas sighs and nods, rubbing at his puffy eyes.

“Anything else we need to check, Castiel?” Fitzgerald asks and doesn’t seem at all surprised when Cas vehemently shakes his head. Dean presses his lips into a thin line, but doesn’t say anything. Chuck’s words come back to him and he wonders if Cas has been keeping up with whatever scans or check ups he’s supposedly supposed to be doing. Dean has a feeling Cas avoids doctors at all costs and it if weren’t for Dean, he wouldn’t see them at all.

A few minutes later and they’re headed back to the car, Cas practically throwing himself into the backseat and laying down.

“Bronchitis,” Gabriel shakes his head as he climbs in. “That’s a lot more than just a cold, baby bro.”

Dean buckles up, glancing over his shoulder at Cas. He’s breathing a bit roughly, chest rattling and wheezing, eyes squeezed shut.

“You gonna let me take care of you?” he asks as Gabriel pulls out onto the road. Cas cracks open an eye, looking up at Dean, and nods solemnly. Probably too tired and weak to argue, if Dean had to guess.

“I’ll drop you two off,” Gabriel says after a minute. “Let him get back to bed. I’ll go pick up his medicine. I’d get a fresh bottle of lube for ya, Dean-o, but I have a feeling you won’t be gettin’ any love anytime soon.”

Dean snorts and Cas reaches up and smacks Gabriel on the back of his head.

“Hey! Driving!”

Dean reaches back and takes Cas’s hand, giving him a small smile before turning back around. “So, any chance you’ll be around for dinner tonight? It was...somehow...even more awkward last night without you there. Even without Michael and Lucifer.”

Gabriel drums his fingers against the wheel. “Not sure how welcome I’ll be, but I can try. I’ll use bringing Cassie’s meds as my in. In the meantime, just make sure he sleeps.”

Cas makes an irritated noise in his throat, immediately going into another coughing fit. Dean looks back at him with concern, squeezing his hand, before Cas yanks his away so he can sit up and try to clear his lungs. Even Gabriel is casting worried glances in the rearview mirror, Dean notices, until Cas finally stops and catches his breath.

They make it back home without much chatter, and Cas gets out of the car, Dean opening his own door to follow him out before Gabriel catches his wrist.

“Hey, did the doctor say anything else?”

“Um.” Dean glances at Cas and back, shrugging. “Not a whole lot. Says he’ll need an x-ray if it doesn’t get better. Why?”

Gabe shakes his head. “Just, uh...just making sure. I know how Cassie doesn’t like to tell me the whole truth about these kinda things.”

Dean chews his lip. “Gabriel-”

“I’ll be back in a couple hours,” he says with a smile. “Now go on, before he falls out.”

Dean looks to see Cas halfway to the door, with Naomi waiting for him at the edge of the porch, hugging her jacket tightly around herself. She meets him halfway down the steps, taking his face between her hands then pressing one to his forehead.

Dean gets out of the car and shuts the door without another word, hearing Gabe drive off as he jogs up the sidewalk.

“Well?” she demands as he steps up onto the porch.

Dean glances at Cas, who has his arms stubbornly at his sides and his face turned away as Naomi tries smooth a hand over his forehead.

“Bronchitis,” he murmurs and raises a brow at her sharp intake of breath. “Got some meds on the way. Doctor says it should go away on its own, as long as he takes it easy.”

“Well, that settles it,” she says briskly, already ushering Cas into the front door. “You should just stay here. No need to fly off...wherever it is that Dean lives, Castiel. You should stay here and rest where I can look after-”

Cas wrenches from her grasp and runs up the stairs, despite the fact he can hardly drag in a breath while just sitting. He ignores his mother’s shouts and slams his bedroom door loudly. Dean sighs and starts up the stairs, but is caught by Naomi’s firm hand.

“He needs his home,” her voice trembles, whether from rage or something else, Dean couldn’t be sure. “His family. We can take care of him.”

“No offense, ma’am,” Dean says calmly, sliding his wrist from her grasp. “But if Cas felt that way, he would’ve come home sooner. And...I don’t think Cas thinks of this place as his home, anyway. I can take care of him just fine, if he decides he needs me to.”

“He doesn’t let anyone help him,” Naomi throws her hands up, looking as uncomposed as Dean has ever seen her. “What makes you think he’ll let you?”

Dean shrugs and climbs the stairs. “He’s done so before. And maybe it’s because I don’t treat him like an invalid.”

He sighs as he walks through Cas’s door, locking it behind him and leaning on it heavily. Dean can’t wait until they’re out of this house and away from that woman. He understands she’s worried for her son, who spends most of his time on the streets with no way to get help if he needs it. No phone, no security, not even a jacket in the winter… until Dean came along, anyway. Any mother would be worried, but her controlling nature is the downfall to her relationship with Cas. Dean learned that the hard way and works everyday to keep himself from hovering over the man too much.

Dean opens his eyes to find Cas watching him with an unreadable expression, chest heaving as he breathes. Dean clears his throat and pushes off the door.

“Want some ibuprofen, baby?” he asks, already digging some out of his bag. “Might help that pain some.” He pulls out the bottle and sits on the edge of the bed as he dumps two pills into his palm. “We still have some water from last night. Here-”

Cas presses a hand to Dean’s knee to get his attention, his eyes watery and looking up at Dean desperately. “Are you going to leave me?” he signs with shaking hands, swallowing thickly.

“What?” Dean sets the pills aside and scooches closer to Cas, stroking his slightly sweaty hair. “Cas, what’re you talkin’ about? Why would I leave you?”

“Too difficult,” Cas shakes his head, a tear falling. “Sick all the time-”

“This is only, like, your second time gettin’ sick-”

“And my family, and...and me,” he keeps going, signing getting sloppy and hard to interpret. Dean takes his hands in his before he can continue, squeezing them gently and bringing them up to kiss the knuckles.

“You’re not difficult, Cas,” he says softly, then tilts his head to the side, humming. “Well. You’re a little difficult.” He grins when Cas huffs a laugh. “But you’re you , and I love you. Very much. Your family, or getting sick, or your sometimes crazy mood swings aren’t gonna change that.”

Cas sniffles and shakes his head, trying to pull his hands away.

“Hey,” Dean moves to prop himself up against the headboard and pull Cas up to him, laying his head in his lap. “Listen to me. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be. But I love you, and I want to be with you, even if that means having to deal with your family. And you being sick is a non-issue, and in any case, not something you can help. And whether you like it or not, I’m not going anywhere , so get used to it, sunshine.”

Cas closes his eyes and tries to hide a smile, rubbing his nose with the back of his hand.

“Now,” Dean continues, using his shirt to wipe the sweat from his forehead, “we’re going to get you better, and as soon as you feel okay enough to fly, we’re getting you home. Okay? Back to our place, where I can take care of you, and cook for you, and...sing for you, and you can watch all the cheesy Disney movies you want. How’s that sound?”

Cas does smile this time, a few more tears escaping out of the corners of his eyes, and he nods.

“Yes,” he signs, “I’d like that.”

“Me too,” Dean sighs, brushing some of Cas’s hair off his forehead. “Now get some sleep before we’re summoned for dinner.”

His cough seeming to subside for now, Cas falls asleep relatively quickly in Dean’s lap. Dean strokes his hair, propped up against the headboard with the old tube TV on a low volume.  Gabriel drops off the medicine and retreats to his own bedroom before Naomi spots him, telling Dean he’d let his glorious presence be a surprise. Dean just rolls his eyes and lets Cas sleep a little longer before gently shaking him awake so he can take his medicine. Cas swallows it reluctantly, almost gagging until he finally gets it down, then settles back into Dean’s lap.

Cas only gets another hour of sleep before they’re called for dinner, and Dean finds himself yet again sitting at a stilted family meal. The only saving grace is the absence of Lucifer and Michael, and Gabriel’s seemingly endless array of stories to keep Naomi focused on him rather than Cas.

“Feeling any better, Castiel?” Chuck leans forward to whisper while Naomi berates Gabriel for his ‘disastrous’ scene at the wedding.

Cas shrugs, poking at his food with his fork.

“You should eat, son,” Chuck insists. “It will only help. I had them mash the potatoes so they wouldn’t hurt your throat.”

Cas sighs and pushes around the potatoes, never looking up from his plate, his shoulders hunched as if trying to hide.

“Thank you for taking him to the doctor, Dean,” Chuck smiles at him. “We usually have to drag him there kicking and screaming. My wife is usually the one that’s screaming, though.”

“That’s not funny,” Naomi snaps at him halfway through her tirade at Gabriel.

“It was a little funny,” Gabriel shrugs, taking a sip of his wine. Chuck tries to hide a smile around a forkful of roast beef as Naomi turns her attention back to Cas.

“I do wish you’d consider staying a little longer,” Naomi says gently. “We...we could even pay to fly you back out to Dean’s when you’re better, if that’s what it takes-”

“No,” Cas signs simply, never looking up from his plate.

Naomi takes a deep breath and her and Chuck share a look, then she slides her plate forward and clasps her hands on the table in front of her. “We’re concerned, Castiel. You constantly taking off, us never knowing where you are or how to contact you, your blatant lack of concern for your health…” she trails off, blinking slowly and taking a deep breath, “I’ve tried to be understanding, to give you your space, but-”

“Have you?” Dean asks sharply, gripping his fork in his fist. “I mean, seems to me he keeps leavin’ because you can’t give him his space.”

“Hey, how about-”

Naomi glares over at Gabriel and holds up a hand. “That’s enough out of you for tonight. I’m not going to let you distract from any of this anymore.” She looks back at Dean with an icy stare. “Don’t pretend that you know anything about us, Dean. You’ve only just met Castiel. You may think you know him best, but there’s a lot that you don’t know.”

Cas’s head snaps up and he looks at Naomi with wide eyes, then over at Chuck, shaking his head slightly.

“Now, sweetheart-” Chuck starts, but Naomi cuts him off.

“Don’t you think it’s time he knew?” she snaps, holding her hands out. “If our son is going to be living with this man, he should at least know his medical concerns. He should have an idea of what he could expect in the future. He should know why I’ve been painted as the worst mother in history.” She clasps her hands back together, her gaze falling back to Dean.

Cas sits stiffly in his seat, still shaking his head at Naomi, eyes welling with tears.

Please , he mouths, but Naomi only briefly purses her lips.

“I'm not the enemy here, Castiel,” Naomi says gently, one hand inching forward, as if trying to reach out to him. “I'm trying to do for you what any good mother around. I'm trying to make sure you stay healthy. And… if Dean is the person you choose to be with, it's my duty to make sure he knows how to take care of you. What being with you entails. The good… and the bad.”

Dean may be mistaken, but he swears he can see tears in her eyes too, despite being so sure that she was devoid of emotion up until now.

Cas's jaw trembles and he squeezes his eyes shut, fists clenched on the table.

Naomi takes a deep breath and fixes her stare on Dean again, retracting her hand. “When Castiel was 14, he was diagnosed and treated for stage 3 laryngeal cancer.”

Dean sucks in a breath and looks over at Cas, finally seeing a few tears trailing down his cheeks. He resists the urge to wrap him in his arms, instead swallowing hard.

“So, uh…” his voice is hoarse, and he tries to speak past it, “what, uh-”

“It was a bit of an anomaly,” Naomi continues, “him getting that type so young. Unexpected, unfathomable, for a child in his health, at his age. He underwent radiation for months before they were finally able to shrink the tumors enough for laser surgery. Unfortunately- and it’s unclear whether it was due to the cancer itself or the surgery- his vocal cords were damaged and required removal, which is why he speaks solely through ASL now.” She pauses, looking sadly at Cas. “He had a recurrence, early last year. We noticed the changes when he came home for the holidays. Thankfully radiation took care of that, but...Castiel is only just in remission, Dean. We have to be prepared, at any time, for another recurrence.”

“Remission,” Dean repeats, closing his eyes briefly and taking a deep breath. It’s a lot to take in at once, especially knowing that Cas was clearly not ready to share this information.

“Yes…” Chuck sighs, leaning back in his chair, suddenly looking about ten years older. His eyes sag and his shoulders drop, and he looks down at his fidgeting hands. “That’s why it’s so important for him to keep up with his doctor visits. So it can be monitored. Not to mention all the radiation treatment, the cancer itself...it’s made him immune system weak. He’s more susceptible to illness.”

Dean scrubs a hand over his face, his heart breaking with every tear that falls down Cas’s cheeks. “Look, I-I appreciate you tellin’ me all this,” he mutters. “But you really should have left it up to Cas. If he wasn’t ready for me to know, then-”

“He was never going to be ready,” Naomi shakes her head. “He was never going to tell you.”

“Yes, he was,” Dean says firmly, fingers clenching in his lap. “I understand how...how serious this is, but you should never have forced it like this.”

Cas abruptly stands, the chair scraping against the hardwood flooring loudly. He’s out of sight before Dean can even react, leaving the room in a stunned silence.

“Damn it,” Dean hisses, pushing out of his chair.

“Dean-” Naomi starts, but he cuts her off with a hard look that leaves Gabriel a little impressed.

“No, listen,” he growls at her. “He was going to tell me. In his own way, in his own time, when he was ready to talk about it. You think you know your son, but I don’t think you do. You can’t push him into things like that and expect him to be okay. You’re trying to mold him into somebody else and you’re missing out on the amazing person he already is. Instead of doing what you think is best, maybe try actually listening to him for a change.”

Dean turns on his heel and stomps out of the room, intent on finding Cas and cleaning up the mess his mother has made.

The door to Cas’s bedroom is shut, so Dean knocks softly and enters slowly, closing the door behind him. Cas is sitting in his nook by the window again, his knees pulled to his chest and his head resting against the wall. He’s sniffling and his breathing is labored, his shoulders shaking with silent sobs.

Dean crosses the room, his shoes scuffing lightly against the floor, and he sits down beside him, pulling one leg up on the seat with him. Cas pointedly stares out the window, hands squeezing his legs.

“I’m sorry,” Dean says finally, breaking the silence. “I’m sorry things happened that way, Cas. I...I know you would’ve told me.”

Cas squeezes his eyes shut, tears escaping out the corners and sliding silently down his cheeks.

Dean chews the inside of his cheek. “But...I do wish I could’ve known, so I…” he lets out a breath. “Jesus, Cas, if something had happened-”

“Everyone acts like I’m a child,” Cas signs jerkily, frowning through his tears. “They still act like I’m 14 years old and I can’t do anything for myself. I feel like I have to do twice as much to prove that I’m an adult, that I can take care of myself.”

“I get it, Cas, I do,” Dean assures him, taking his hands. “Don’t ever think for a minute that I see you as incapable of anything. I know how fucking incredible you are. You show me every single day. And this just proves how fucking strong you are, on top of that. But baby,” Dean tilts his chin up, brushing away a tear with his thumb, “from here on out, you gotta let me help you. Not because you can’t, but because it’s easier with someone who understands. And because I want to help. Because I love you, Cas, and I...I can’t let anything happen to you. Because you- hey-” he pulls Cas’s attention back to him when he tries to look away, “-because you are every bit of my future. Because I can’t picture my life without you in it anymore. Because when I picture a happy future for myself, it’s with you.”

Cas pulls his hands away to sign. “You didn’t sign up for this. Too much trouble-”

Dean shakes his head and takes his hands again.

“Maybe just the right amount of trouble,” he says with a wink, and Cas huffs, trying to hide a small smile. “Hey, there he is,” he says teasingly, brushing Cas’s lips. “Missed you.”

Cas waves a hand, hiding his smile against his knee.

“You’re cute,” Dean smiles, grabbing Cas’s ankle and pulling gently. “Don’t hide that pretty smile from me, angel.”

Cas ducks his head, but Dean tilts his chin up and kisses his forehead. Cas huffs, acting annoyed, but wraps his arms around Dean’s neck with his fingers tangling in his short hair. He allows Dean to pick him up and take him to bed, watching with some amusement as Dean undresses him.

“Thought we agreed I wasn’t a kid,” Cas signs, nudging Dean with his socked foot.

“Yeah, well, you’re sick,” Dean grins. “Any excuse I can use to spoil you.” He shrugs and climbs onto the bed with Cas, laying down beside him. “Plus, I just like taking your clothes off. I’d have you naked all the time if I could.”

“Wouldn’t that get a little boring?”

Dean snorts and shakes his head, spreading his hand over Cas’s stomach and tracing his happy trail. “I could never get bored looking at you, baby. You’re so damn beautiful.”

“Stop.”

“Never.” Dean grins, clicking his tongue when Cas very intentionally and suggestively arches beneath his hand. “Uh uh. You think that coy seduction thing you got goin’ is gonna work on me this time?”

Cas pauses and shrugs, grinning.

“You need to sleep,” Dean says firmly, stripping off his own shirt and pulling the comforter over both of them. “And you have to take more medicine around 6 a.m., and then you’ll need to go back to sleep. So don’t get any ideas.”

Cas huffs and presses his head back into the pillow, and Dean chuckles and kisses his forehead. “Sorry, baby. I’m puttin’ my foot down.”

“You sure have been doing a lot of that today,” Cas signs.

“Mhmm. And I’ll continue to, should the occasion arise. Now go to sleep.”

Cas smiles softly and turns to face him, tucking himself against Dean’s side, one arm thrown over his stomach and his head resting in the crook of his arm. It’s barely been five minutes when his breathing evens out and he starts to snore softly, and somehow between that and his raspy wheeze, Dean drifts off sometime later.

He does wake up early and have Cas take his meds, though he’s not sure Cas even fully woke up for it. He chokes down the pills and a gulp of cough syrup and immediately turns back over, pulling the covers up to his neck. Dean lays on his back and looks up at the ceiling, allowing himself silent contemplation over the events of the day before, without worrying about Cas jumping to conclusions. He has a million questions but resolves to wait until Cas seems ready to talk about them. Perhaps in a couple days after all this blows over.

He’s still awake almost an hour later when his phone buzzes on the nightstand, and he finds a text from Gabriel.

 

Gabe: How’s he feeling?

Dean: Seems about the same. He’s sleeping.

 

Dean lays the phone on his chest, sniffing as he runs his hands over his face and rubs the sleep out of his eyes. His phone buzzes again.

 

Gabe: Meet me downstairs for breakfast. I have alcohol.

Gabe: Naomi’s gone, she met a friend for breakfast.

 

Dean sighs and looks over at Cas, then slowly and quietly gets out of bed, dresses, and slips out the door, pulling it closed behind him.

He pads downstairs, the house eerily quiet and still. With Naomi and her overwhelming presence gone, Chuck presumably still sleeping, and Cas dead to the world, there is no one else around except Gabriel. It makes the home, despite its beauty, seem somehow even colder than before.

Dean slips into the kitchen where Gabe is lounging at a small round wooden table, a mimosa in his hand.

“Breakfast entails food, Gabriel,” Dean snorts as he walks in, hiding a yawn behind his hand.

“That’s where you come in, buddy boy,” Gabriel grins, gesturing with his drink. “You’re the cook. Make me some of those pancakes you’re fattening my brother up with.”

Dean rolls his eyes and starts digging through the cabinets to gather up all the fixings.

“So, uh,” Gabriel leans back in his chair, an arm thrown over the back. “How was your night?”

“You tryin’ to get info outta me?” Dean grunts, grabbing a whisk and a big bowl.

“Well, dinner didn’t exactly end well,” Gabriel shrugs.

“It was fine,” Dean pours in the pancake mix, along with milk and eggs, and starts whisking it together. “Takes more than that to shake us apart. We talked a little and went to bed. True, it wasn’t how he wanted me to find out, but it doesn’t change how I feel about him.”

“So, even knowing all of that now,” Gabriel says slowly, watching Dean carefully. “Knowing the cancer could come back, knowing what...could happen. You’re still-”

“I’m not leaving him,” Dean says in a hard voice, jaw clenched. “So you can quit with the big brother routine. I’m not gonna hurt him.”

Gabriel nods. “Gotta say, Dean-o,” he says, leaning back in his chair, “I wasn’t sure what to expect, when I first met you, but it definitely wasn’t this.”

“So you thought...what? That I was just interested in sleeping with him?”

Gabe quirks a smile. “To be honest, I’m not sure what I thought.”

Dean grunts and turns the stove on, opening and closing cabinets until he finds a pan and places it on the burner.

“I’m sure you have questions.” Gabe holds a hand out by his side. “I’m here to help.”

Dean turns and crosses his arms over his chest, leaning back against the counter. “I can wait until Cas talks to me.”

“It’s very noble of you,” Gabe says, taking a sip of his drink. “But cat’s out, now. I don’t think he’s gonna care about the details now that you know. But-” he shrugs, “up to you.”

Dean pauses, pressing his tongue to the top of his teeth. “How often is he supposed to...be getting scans, or whatever?”

“Every three months. Well,” Gabe tilts his head to the side, “for now, every three months. At two years remission, it goes to every six months until he’s been cancer free for five years. But even then, he should go regularly.”

Dean swallows. So he’d known Cas for almost six months, and he hadn’t had a checkup in that time, to his knowledge. And he doubted seriously that Cas would’ve gone himself during the time he left.

“He has an oncologist he sees here,” Gabe continues, “but if he’s gonna go back with you-”

“He is.”

“-then he’ll need one in South Dakota. I can see who his oncologist recommends.”

Dean nods, pressing his lips together and turning to the stove, pouring some batter into the pan and finding a spatula.

“He could potentially learn to speak again, you know.”

Dean freezes, staring down at the batter and raising the spatula to poke at the hardening edges of the pancake. “What?”

“There are options. Tracheoesophageal puncture, electrolarynx, oesophageal speech. He won’t sound the same, of course, but-”

Dean whips around. “Why are you guys so keen on changing him?”

Gabe holds up his hands defensively. “Hey, look, I love my brother no matter what he decides to do, just the way he is. I’m just sayin’.” He settles back into his chair, sitting his drink on the table and crossing his arms over his chest. “We have some home videos around here somewhere. You know, before...everything. If you’re interested.”

Dean slowly turns back to the stove, carefully flipping each pancake. “Yeah...yeah, maybe,” he says quietly. He wasn’t sure if Cas would like that or not, but Dean is curious about what Cas was like a kid. And, admittedly, he would like to hear Cas speak, even if it’s a child’s voice. It’s not like he’s never wondered what Cas’s voice would sound like, what it would be like to hear him say his name, hear him laugh...hear him moan.

Dean clears his throat and slaps a stack of pancakes together, then whips up some eggs and bacon he found in the fridge. Cas must have smelled the familiar scent of Dean cooking, because he shuffles into the kitchen moments after Dean sets a plate in front of Gabriel.

“Hey, baby,” Dean smiles, kissing him on the cheek. “Take a seat. I’ll get you some coffee, okay?”

Cas, still half-asleep, nods as he rubs at his eyes and falls into a chair.

“It’s no wonder you keep him around, Cassie,” Gabe says around a mouthful of pancake. “This is awesome. You’ll never go hungry again.”

Cas doesn’t respond, but does steal a piece of bacon from Gabriel’s plate. A few minutes later Dean is handing him a cup of coffee and he nurses that while Gabriel eats. Dean wordlessly hands him a plate of breakfast as well, a silent but clear demand for him to eat.

By the time Dean sits down to eat, Gabriel is finished and working on his second mimosa.

“Do you ever not have a drink in your hand?” Dean grunts as he munches on his eggs.

“Nope,” Gabriel smiles. “Least, not while I’m here. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to deal with this place for more than an hour.”

“Fair enough,” Dean concedes, cutting his pancake into bite-sized pieces with his fork. Cas digs in, no doubt hungry after barely picking at his dinner the night before. It seems the first round of antibiotics have done him well, since he’s already looking like he’s getting his regular appetite back.

They eat in silence for a few minutes before Chuck shuffles in, still in his robe and slippers, glasses askew on his face. He looks like he’d barely slept, his hair almost as unkempt as Cas’s usually is, the bags under his eyes that much more prominent.

“Smelled bacon,” he grumbles, crossing over to the counter and gesturing to the food, then raising his eyebrows at Dean. “May I?”

Dean shrugs, poking at his eggs. “Help yourself.”

Chuck gives him a small smile and grabs a plate, loading it up with bacon, eggs, and a couple of pancakes. He sits down next to Gabe, gesturing to his glass.

“Anymore of that?”

“I gotcha, pops,” Gabe says, standing and busying himself with making Chuck his own mimosa. He offers one to Dean but he declines, holding up his mug of coffee. Chuck glances up at Cas and Dean every so often as he eats, but says nothing, his face unreadable. Gabe places the mimosa in front of him and polishes off his own, taking it over to the sink.

“Alright, fellas. I’d love to stick around, but not as much as I’d love not to.” He grabs his keys off the table and heads for the door, patting Cas on the shoulder on his way out.

“You’re delightful,” Chuck grumbles, shoveling a forkful of food into his mouth.

“I’m a ray of freaking sunshine,” Gabriel calls as the door slams behind him, leaving the three of them cloaked in an awkward silence.

“Castiel,” Chuck says finally, looking up at him over the rim of his glasses, “Dean...I want to apologize to both of you for what transpired last night. What we did was wrong. Both of us...we agreed that our behavior was unacceptable, considering the situation.”

Dean looks over at Cas, who swallows the last bite of his food and carefully wipes his mouth with a napkin. He stands slowly and picks up his coffee, taking a long sip as he leaves the room.

Dean’s cheeks puff out with his exhale and he looks down at his plate, raising his brows. Chuck sighs and sits down his fork, rubbing his face.

“I’m sorry, Dean,” he says, looking sincere. “I know the kind of impression we’ve given you, and it’s not good. It’s not what we intended, or wanted. We aren’t the terrible people I’m sure you think we are. We’re just...we’re handling a difficult situation the best way we know how. Admittedly, not that well. I need you to know...we just want to do right by Cas. But we also know that often times, he doesn’t do right by himself. And we have to try, as parents, to toe that line.”

Dean nods absently, taking a sip of his coffee. He looks back down at his plate and pokes at his eggs with his fork, pushing them around his plate.

Chuck nods once and takes a few bites of his food, then sits his fork down again, brow furrowed. “We appreciate all you’ve done for Castiel. I know getting this news must be difficult for you-”

“You know I’m in love with your son?” Dean looks up, sitting his fork down and pushing his plate to the side.

Chuck actually looks surprised. “I’m sorry-?”

“Yeah,” Dean says with a breathy laugh, “yeah. I’m fuckin’ crazy about him. Ever since the first day I met him, there was somethin’ about him...I knew he was special. I didn’t know or care where he came from, I just prayed to whoever would listen that he’d never go back, because I knew the second he walked into my diner that my heart couldn’t handle it if I never got to see him again.” He pauses, smiling down at his plate. “You know what that feels like, Chuck? To love someone so much it doesn’t matter who they are, or what they came from, or what they’ve done in the past. It doesn’t matter that they’re stubborn, or sick, or secretive...that their family is dysfunctional- at best- or that you’ll never hear their voice…” he trails off, biting his lip, then looks back up at Chuck. “So, yeah. I’m in love with your son. And I get that I’m not good enough...Naomi’s made that perfectly clear. But I don’t care. Because Cas makes me happy, and by some fuckin’ miracle, I do the same for him, and I’m sorry, but I...I’m not lettin’ him go. Not as long as he wants me, too.”

Chuck sits there for a minute looking stunned, his fork poised above his plate, and finally a slow smile spreads across his face. “Then he’s lucky to have you, Dean.”

“W-what?”

Chuck shrugs and takes a bite of pancake. “He’s lucky to have someone like you.”

Dean swallows, his mouth suddenly dry. “With all due respect, sir, I feel that I’m the lucky one.”

“Castiel is by far the...oddest one of our family, if you want to call it that. He’s just...he’s always done things his own way. Now is no different. I remember-” Chuck laughs, shaking his head, “when he was little, he used to love telling stories. Got pretty good at it, too. Acted them out, did all the voices, the whole nine. Always started them with “once ‘on a time”- we didn’t have the heart to tell him the word he was looking for was ‘upon’- and he’d make up this elaborate story with witches and vampires and werewolves, princess and princes, all off the top of his head. These insane stories, where the craziest things happened but he somehow always tied them together...and they always ended with ‘happily ever after’.” He sighs, shoulders rising and falling, and looks up at Dean with a smile. “I think Cas has spent all this time looking for his happily ever after, Dean. And I’ve never seen him look the way he did when he finished those stories, until he introduced me to you.”

Dean opens his mouth to speak and closes it again, furrowing his brow.

Chuck shrugs. “So you may think you’re lucky, Dean, but seems to me, to him...you’re something of  a prince.” He quirks a smile.

Dean looks away, drums his fingers on the table, looks at the fridge, the stove, anything but the man sitting across him. He feels a blush rising to his cheeks, but can’t do anything to hide it. Is that how Cas thought of him? His Prince Charming? Dean’s not sure he fits that role, but it makes his heart beat a little quicker knowing that Cas might actually feel that way.

“I’m gonna ask him to marry me,” Dean blurts out, not even sure where it came from because he certainly hadn’t planned on bringing it up. Hadn’t even really thought too much on the subject since he’s so careful about not pushing Cas’s boundaries.

Chuck, to his credit, doesn’t appear all that shocked, save for the fact that Dean is choosing to bring this up now.

“Oh?” is all he says, bringing his cup of coffee up to sip at.

Dean coughs and shifts in his seat, feeling as though he’s jumped over the edge of a cliff. He’s falling and there’s no stopping it now. Sort of like how he fell in love with Cas.

“Yeah. Yes,” he nods jerkily, hands wringing on top of the table. “I know I’m not, uh, up to par with your family. Don’t make a lot of money and, honestly, my business is probably gonna be gone in only a few years. At best. But, I- sir, I can’t picture my life without him anymore. I...I know I can give him what he wants. Needs. Deserves.”

Chuck eyes him silently and for a long enough while that Dean starts to squirm in his chair. “Alright,” he finally says, setting down his mug. “Are you asking permission then?”

“Ah...I guess,” Dean shrugs, tapping a finger on the table. “But, truth be told, I’d ask him anyway, whether you gave me permission or not.”

Chuck blinks and smiles, chuckling to himself as he stands. “Guess that settles it then, hm? Just let us know when the wedding is. I would very much like to be there for that. We both would.”

Dean presses his lips together and nods. “That's assuming he says yes.”

Chuck pauses with his plate and mug in his hands. “He will.” He smiles and takes his dishes to the sink, then leaves the room.

Dean raps his knuckles against the table before pushing his own chair back as he stands. He takes his own dishes to the sink and heads upstairs and directly to Cas's room, shutting the door behind him.

Cas is back in bed, to Dean's surprise, looking tiredly over at him, his mug clutched between his hands. Dean sighs and crosses over to the bed, sitting and wrapping an arm around him, pulling him against his side and kissing his forehead.

“Cas-”

“Don't.”

“I'm not making excuses for them yesterday… that was inexcusable. But I kind of understand where they're coming from… no matter how wrong they went about it. Hold on, listen to me.” He takes Cas's hand and holds it under his own. “They care about you, Cas. They love you. And they want to make sure you're being taken care of, whether by someone else or yourself. And now that I'm here… it's another thing they have to worry about. They don't know me. They don't know us. Imagine how it must feel, their son living away, with…the issues you've dealt with, living with someone they don't know. Not saying they acted favorably, but...I dunno. I kind of get it.”

Castiel looks down at their hands, his crazy hair falling over his face until Dean reaches up to brush some of it out the way. It’s silent while Dean lets Cas mull over whatever thoughts he’s having, until Cas finally looks up and rolls his shoulders with a sigh.

“So what are you saying?” he signs, narrowing his eyes.

Dean shrugs as he tries to flatten some of Cas’s bedhead to no avail. “I’m sayin’...I dunno. Don’t think so harshly of them, I guess. I ain’t a fan of your mom and she really isn’t a fan of me, but one thing I think we have in common is that we care about you. And you know what? I think she’s scared, Cas. Wondering if or when the cancer might come back. Wondering where you are half the time, if you’re okay, if you’re even alive. I, uh, have some experience with that.”

Cas winces and glances away. Dean clicks his tongue and tilts his chin back towards him, stroking his jawline softly.

“It’s no easy thing,” Dean continues, leaning in close to bump their noses together. “Not sayin’ she’s right or wrong. Just that she and your dad wanna make sure you’re okay. You’re their kid. They love you. I love you.”

Cas reaches up and lays his hand over Dean’s, wrapping his fingers around and squeezing. He holds up his own ‘I love you’ and Dean smiles softly, taking his hand and kissing the palm. He doesn’t have to say anything for Dean to know that he’s considering his words, and even as much as Dean hates to admit that Naomi and Chuck do care at least as much as him, he knows it’s the truth. It at least made some of Naomi’s behavior a little more understandable.

“Now, no offense, baby, but you sound fucking terrible,” Dean says as he pulls away and reaches over for the inhaler. “You got the whole Darth Vader thing goin’ on. Here.”

“Who’s that?” Cas signs innocently.

“Who’s-” Dean shakes his head incredulously, handing over the inhaler. “I gotta lot of work to do with you, Cas.”

Cas grins and holds the inhaler up to his lips, taking a deep breath and holding it as he passes it back to Dean. It seems to help significantly almost instantaneously, the rattle in his chest much less prominent than before.

“Tell you what,” Dean says, “why don’t we just hang out in here for a couple hours and you just rest, and later we’ll hang out with Anael some before she leaves tonight? If you get enough rest today and tomorrow, maybe we can get out of here a day early.”

Cas nods and immediately slides down into bed, pulling the covers up to his chin, and Dean lays down beside him, pulling him to his chest.

“Gabe and I are working on finding you an oncologist back home, okay?” he says softly into his hair, then presses a kiss there. “But know that it doesn’t mean anything has to change. As long as you go get your scans like you need to- and I’ll be there with you every step of the way, as long as you want me- I don’t care what you do, or how many trips you take, or any of that. Okay? I’m not goin’ anywhere, and I’m not changin’ my mind about you.”

Cas pulls back to look up at him, eyes searching Dean’s face, and finally wandering up as he reaches up to pull gently on the top of his hair and look longingly back down at him.

“And when I get home I’ll wear my colors again. Hell, I’ll wear all of them at once, if you want me to.”

Cas grins.

“And the kilt.”

Cas’s face changes, suddenly becoming very serious, and he swallows hard, nodding definitively.

“Atta boy,” Dean chuckles. The kilt, for whatever reason, is Cas’s kryptonite. All Dean has to do is promise to wear the thing and Cas basically agrees to anything. “Just a few more days, angel, and we can go home.”

Chapter Text

“It couldn’t have been that bad.”

“They coulda had their own reality TV show,” Dean snorts as he throws on a patty, the grease popping around the edges. “I dunno how Cas survived living there for as long as he did. Parents were tolerable, I guess, though his mother is a little overbearing, to put it lightly.” Dean shakes his head, pressing his spatula down on the browning meat. “But the brothers? Jesus. They’re lucky I didn’t stab a fork into their eyes at dinner.”

“Knowing your temper, I’m surprised you didn’t,” Benny scoffs, his form hunched over the small island as he chops up some fresh veggies for Bobby’s super healthy, very bland salad.

“I’m tryin’ to keep Cas, remember?” Dean rolls his eyes. “Stabbing his brothers probably ain’t the way to go.”

“So was the whole visit a bust?”

Dean chews his lip and shrugs. He hasn’t mentioned Cas’s condition to anyone yet, choosing to let Cas decide whether or not he wants others to know.

“I mean, the dad seemed to like me okay,” he flips the patty, “And it did give me a little bit of insight into why Cas is the way that he is. But it wasn’t a vacation, that’s for damn sure. You know his mother tried to put us in separate bedrooms?”

Benny barks a laugh. “I’m bettin’ you didn’t spend even one night in your own room.”

“Fuck, no,” Dean grabs a few buns and slaps them on the grill to toast them, adding some butter to each side. “Not that it mattered much. Cas got pretty sick while we were there. Still recoverin’ from it.”

“Ah,” Benny nods, pushing aside the veggies to chop up a head of lettuce. “That explains why he ain’t here.”

“Well, that,” Dean shrugs as he carefully folds a piece of cheese over the almost-done patty. “And because I figured he’d need a few days to himself after that whole mess. His mom means well, I think, but her words affect him more than she thinks.”

“Ain’t it the way with all parents?”

Dean huffs a laugh as he slides the patty onto its bun and decorates it with condiments and veggies. He dumps a basket of fries on the side and sits it in the window. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Luckily mine left instead of sayin’ shit he knew would hurt me. Never thought I’d be thankful for that.”

He takes a look out the window, seeing Charlie take the plate to one of their only tables. He’s lucky that she goes to school in town and has wanted the extra work so that he’d been able to give Cas more time off. Although, he can tell Cas is already starting to get a little stir crazy sitting in the small house all day and waiting to recover. It’s only a matter of time before he takes off on his own again, and Dean’s still holding out hope that he does tell him before he goes. They’d already set up for him to see his new oncologist the following week, and Dean’s gotten to be pretty confident that Cas won’t bow out before then.

He strips off his gloves and tosses them, turning to face Benny and crossing his arms over his chest. “So how’s Andrea?”

“Well...those two really doin’ a number on her,” Benny drawls as he chops up the lettuce and adds it to the prep containers. “But doctor says the sickness’ll pass soon. Hope so. She’s already threatenin’ that she don’t want anymore after these.”

“Can’t say I blame her,” Dean chuckles. “Carrying one looks hard enough, but two? Glad my stuff hangs outside, not inside.”

“Aw, Dean,” Benny grins. “You’d be such a good mommy-”

“Quit that,” Dean throws a hand towel at him, scowling through a small blush. “Don’t give me the image.”

“I dunno, Dean,” Benny snickers as he slips off his apron to go on break. “Technology’s makin’ all sorts of leaps lately-”

“I said quit!” Dean throws a dirty spatula this time, missing Benny’s head by an inch. Benny laughs as he slips out the kitchen, catching Ash’s attention.

“What are we yellin’ about?” he asks, blinking at the screen of his laptop.

“Male pregnancy, apparently,” Bobby grunts as Benny hands him his salad before retreating outside for a smoke.

“Like a seahorse?” Ash glances up.

“I’m not a seahorse!”

“Uh,” a voice calls out from the doorway, the bell jingling above an ridiculous head of hair. “Should I come back?”

“Sammy boy!” Ash smiles, spinning around in his chair. “Look who decided to pick his head up from a textbook to come see us.”

“Ha ha,” Sam rolls his eyes and takes a seat next to Bobby. “Why is Dean a seahorse?”

“I’m not .”

“He’s pregnant,” Bobby snorts, making a face as he bites into his salad.

“Oh.” Sam blinks and grins at Dean through the window. “Congrats, Dean. When’s the due date?”

“For fuck sake.” Dean leans down to grab the box of rubber gloves, slapping it down on the counter when he comes back up. “Hey...where’s Eileen? Didn’t you say she was coming?”

“Oh, yeah, uh...well, we had a long flight and she was tired, so I just dropped her at your place. We are still doing dinner tonight, right?”

“Right, yeah. What was Cas doing?”

“Cas wasn’t there.”

Dean clenches his jaw, resting his fists on the counter and leaning forward. “What?”

Sam raises his eyebrows and shakes his head, looking totally clueless. “Yeah, man. House was empty. He supposed to be there?”

Dean licks his lips and swallows, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. It’s more than likely that Cas is just out somewhere taking pictures, despite the fact that he really should be in bed resting and recuperating, but Dean can’t help that his mind automatically jumps to Cas being gone gone again. He shakes his head, trying to push the thought away.

“Probably just...out at Falls Park again,” Dean grumbles, looking down as he slaps on a new pair of gloves. He throws a chicken patty on the grill for Sam and some fries in the fryer, then starts slathering mayonnaise and mustard on an ungrilled bun for him, laying the halves on a plate and dressing them with lettuce, tomato, and pickles.

“How are classes?” Dean asks, mostly to change the subject.

“Tedious and stressful,” Sam says immediately, mumbling a ‘thank you’ when Dean sets the plate down in front of him. “I get about two hours of sleep a night.”

“I refuse to feel sorry for you,” Dean grunts, leaning on the counter and watching Sam pick at his fries to find the longest one. He saves those for last. “You wanted to be a college boy.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Sam grumbles, squirting ketchup over his mound of fries. “Hey, how was the wedding thing?”

“It was, uh...your average day in a soap,” Dean chuckles humorlessly, tracing his tattoo along his arm.

Sam makes a face. “Really? That bad?”

“And then some.”

“Ouch,” Sam takes a bite of his sandwich. “Well, good thing you love him. I don’t remember you ever meeting parents before. Well, only if you don’t count the ones who chased you out of the house.”

“You’re hilarious,” Dean deadpans.

“No, really,” Sam swallows his bite. “You’ve never been so serious about someone. You live with him, you met the parents, you don’t even look at anyone even remotely attractive anymore.”

“And?” Dean grunts, looking down at the countertop.

Sam shrugs. “Just sayin’, it’s kinda cool. I like Cas. I mean, he’s kinda weird, but so are you. You two fit. I’m just glad you finally found someone, Dean.”

“You act surprised.”

“I am . A year ago you were saying you’d never settle down. Now look at you. You’re more whipped than me.” Dean opens his mouth to argue, but Sam holds up a hand. “Don’t even try to deny it.” He looks to Ash, raising a brow. “Am I wrong?”

“No lies detected, amigo,” Ash says, without so much as looking up from his computer. Sam looks back at Dean and gestures to Ash, then pops a fry into his mouth, shrugging.

“May as well just ask him to marry you, at this point.”

Dean presses his lips together and tries to find something in the kitchen to busy himself, feeling Sam’s eyes on him. Sam utters a muffled sound and chews and swallows quickly.

“Wait, are you...you’re not gonna-”

“Shut up, Sam.”

“Holy shit,” Charlie pops up in the window, grinning widely. “Dean Winchester, you look at me right now.”

Dean can feel his face burning, and he pointedly keeps his head down. “Get back to work, Charlie. I don’t pay you to stand around.”

“You barely pay me at all,” Charlie points out, pulling herself up on the bar, her legs swinging off the side. “Spill, Winchester.”

Dean huffs and scrubs a hand over his face, looking up at them. “‘M not asking him anything yet-”

“Yet?!”

“I don’t even know if it’s something he wants,” Dean holds his arms out by his sides, and Charlie and Sam share a look.

“Stop trying to sell us that crap about him not caring as much about you as you do him,” Bobby says, pushing the salad around his bowl. “If I have to watch you two making googly eyes at each other across this bar one more time, I’m just gonna ask him for you myself.”

“Not sayin’ he doesn’t care,” Dean mumbles. “Just sayin’ marriage might not be something he wants to do.”

“Oh, please,” Charlie snorts. “He’s crazy about you. He’ll totally say yes.”

“This is stupid,” Dean throws his hands up. “I haven’t even asked him.”

“Yet,” Charlie and Sam both say.

“I gotta a question for ya,” Bobby grunts. “Will you do me the honors of gettin’ me a burger?”

“No,” Dean grins, pointing at the salad. “No more grease for you, old man.”

“You’ll make an excellent wife.” Charlie giggles and ducks when Dean throws a spoon at her.

“You all suck.” Dean retreats back into the kitchen, ignoring Bobby’s demand for something that isn’t rabbit food.

---

“Sam says you’re a pregnant, engaged seahorse,” Eileen says with an amazingly straight face the moment Dean and Sam walk through the door. Dean shoots Sam a glare, his annoying little shit of a brother grinning like an idiot.

“What?” he asks innocently. “Not much goes on in this town.”

Dean rolls his eyes and toes off his shoes. “I dunno why you hang out with this loser, Eileen.”

She shrugs and smiles. “Not many options up North.”

Dean laughs and walks into the kitchen to grab a beer, almost sagging with relief when he sees Cas sitting at the table and staring intently at the laptop. He’s deep in editing mode, so Dean just greets him with a kiss on the cheek and a pat on the shoulder.

“You guys want a beer?” Dean calls from the kitchen, grabbing an extra two when Sam responds with a yes. He takes them back into the living room and sits down on the couch beside Eileen, casting a glance over at Cas when he hears him cough a few times. He sounds much better than he did when they first got home from Maine, although they had to have Dr. Fitzgerald call in a second round of antibiotics to help clear up the bronchitis, and Cas had to agree to have an x-ray done if it wasn’t gone within the week. Dean gave Chuck and Naomi his number so they could occasionally check in on him, which they’d already taken advantage of a few times since they’d returned home. Not that he minds, necessarily. It’s nice to know they care as much as they do, and truth be told, he even thinks it makes Cas feel a little better, too.

Sam settles on the floor between Eileen’s legs with his beer, crossing one of his long legs over the other. Eileen holds her beer in one hand, running the other through Sam’s hair.

They sit in silence for awhile and watch a college basketball game, which no one besides Eileen appears to have any interest in, and Dean gets up for another beer after a while. Cas smiles at him from behind the computer, which Dean returns before pulling another three beers from the fridge and taking them to the counter. He starts popping the tops off of them when he feels Cas’s arms wrap around his middle, and he smiles to himself.

“Heya, gorgeous,” Dean says, turning his head to look back at him. “Get any good ones today?”

Cas doesn’t answer, of course, but instead slides his hands lower, passing suggestively over Dean’s crotch.

“We have company, Cas,” Dean murmurs lowly, though it doesn’t stop his blood from pooling south. “And you’re still sick.”

Cas presses against him, an unsubtle bulge poking at Dean’s backside.

“What’s got you so excited?” Dean chuckles, turning around in Cas’s arms. Castiel smiles and bites his lip, glancing at the laptop with a small blush.

“Hm...lookin’ at those dirty pictures you took of me?” Dean ventures a guess, tugging at Cas’s belt loop with a finger. “Is that what you’re workin’ on?”

Cas shrugs and looks down, thrusting once against Dean’s thigh.

“Sure hope Eileen didn’t see those.”

Cas shakes his head firmly and lines his body up with Dean’s, pressing close. Dean exhales sharply and grinds his teeth as his cock begins to swell earnestly.

“Cas, my brother is here-”

Cas doesn’t seem to care, sliding his hand down to cup Dean’s crotch. Dean huffs and pulls away, face slightly flushed.

“Dinner first,” Dean huffs, reaching down to adjust himself. “Then you can do whatever you want with me. Go take your meds and leave me alone so I can lose this-” he gestures down at his crotch, “before I have to go back out there with my brother. You little shit.”

Cas grins and turns on his heel, grabbing a water from the fridge before sitting back down and taking two of the pills. He’s able to immediately immerse himself back into his editing, damn him, and Dean turns and leans against the counter, trying to think of anything that he can use to will away his boner.

----

“We were thinking we’d have a Fall wedding,” Eileen says, twirling some spaghetti onto her fork. “My work keeps me pretty busy through the warmer months, so if we were to wait until October, maybe November, I’d have plenty of time to plan. And we could take our honeymoon when Sam is on his Winter break.”

Dean nods, like he has been most of the evening, chewing a mouthful of spaghetti and trying not to think too hard about how much things are changing, or how fast. Cas is the only one who seems to notice his inner turmoil, casting glances over at him often, giving him sweet smiles and reaching over to take his hand from time to time. Dean tries not to think about how it’s a thing that Sam would normally notice- him not acting like himself- before he was always so caught up in Eileen. Of course, it’s no one’s fault that Dean doesn’t like change...no one but himself, really, and he’s getting better...he thinks.

“It will be beautiful,” Cas signs, and Eileen smiles and signs a ‘thank you’ back.

Dean licks his lips and swallows, looking down at his plate. “So, uh...you thought about where you’re gonna live?”

“Well, Eileen can’t exactly leave Washington, since she’s working making...probably a lot more money than I ever will,” he grins over at her. “But I’m considering transferring to one of the law schools up there. Gonzaga, Seattle, UW-”

“I keep telling him to stay at Stanford,” Eileen shakes her head. “We’ve done the distance for this long, what’s two more years? But he’s not convinced.”

“So...you’ll move to Washington,” Dean states in a carefully neutral voice.

Sam shrugs and nods, taking a bite of garlic bread. “Yeah, why not? She’s got a good job and it doesn’t really matter where I earn my degree. That way, when we’re married, we don’t really have to worry about moving in together.”

Dean nods and forces another bite of spaghetti down. It makes perfect sense what Sam is saying, and he has no reason to get his panties in a twist over it. The distance to Washington isn’t much different than California. It doesn’t change anything at all, really, except that it further solidifies the fact that his baby brother is grown up. Getting his own life. Moving on from Dean and this podunk town.

Dean feels some of the tension leave him when Cas wraps his fingers around his thigh, squeezing reassuringly. Leave it to Cas to know where his mind is at.

“What about you, Dean?” Eileen suddenly asks. “Any big changes coming?”

Dean’s jaw drops before he picks it right back up, teeth clicking. He clears his throat and sets his fork down, wiping his mouth off with a napkin.

“Ah, yeah, I dunno,” he shrugs, “Maybe? Bobby, you know, he ain’t gettin’ younger. Probably gonna retire soon and then, uh, the diner will probably close.”

Eileen frowns along with Sam and she leans forward, reaching out to lay her hand across Dean’s. “That’s not necessarily true. Maybe-”

“Nah, it’s okay,” Dean shrugs, slipping his hand from hers. “I ain’t broken up about it. I knew it would happen eventually. Besides, Benny’s got twins comin’. He’s gotta find someone who can pay him more. Charlie only works there to help me out. She’s got a real job that takes more and more of her time. And, uh, Cas here...you know, his photography is really takin’ off. He won’t have the time to work there either. I...I don’t need to hold people back just to keep some diner open.”

Sam’s brows furrow. “Dean, I don’t think-”

“Anyone want seconds?” Dean stands and grabs the pot of spaghetti, spooning what’s left on everyone’s plates.

An awkward silence envelopes them all for a few minutes, and finally Eileen clears her throat and smiles up at Cas.

“I’ve heard a lot about your photography, Castiel, and Sam showed me your Facebook page. It looks like you already have a lot of interest. What I’ve seen on there was really incredible.” She pauses, drumming her fingertips on the table. “I’d love to see more, if you’d like to show me.”

Cas’s face lights up and he grins, nodding excitedly. He moves to get up, but Dean clicks his tongue.

“Eat first.”

Cas huffs. “I already did,” he signs jerkily, and Dean raises a brow.
“Yeah, okay, but are you still hungry?”

“No.”

“Liar.”

Cas throws his hands up and lets them fall to the table with a slap , but he grabs his fork anyway and tucks into his second helping. Dean smirks and sits back down.

“Told you.”

Cas childishly opens his mouth to reveal his half-chewed food, and Dean chuckles and waves him off. They all eat their fill and Dean washes the dishes after, while Cas and Eileen sit at the table and cycle through his pictures on the laptop. Sam stands over by the sink with Dean, a beer in his hand.

“So what’s going on with you?” Sam asks, when Cas and Eileen are properly distracted. “You’ve been weird all night.”

Dean rolls his eyes, elbow deep in suds. “Nothin’s wrong with me. I’ve been the usual amount of weird.”

“Are things okay between you and Cas?”

Yes ,” Dean says, perhaps a little too loudly, and he promptly lowers his voice. “Yes, things are fine with me and Cas. Great, actually. Especially considering…” he trails off, biting his lip. He’d wanted to wait until he saw Sam in person to tell him about Cas, and specifically about their visit to Maine and the cancer, but he wanted a little more privacy than in the middle of his kitchen with Cas sitting ten feet away. He sighs.

“I’ve missed you, man,” he says honestly, looking down at the plate in his hands. “I’m so happy for you, Sammy...I am. But all this...it’s just been hard for me. I dunno. Hard seein’ my baby brother grow up, not need me anymore.”

“Dean,” Sam tilts his head, “you’re my brother. I’m always gonna need you. When Eileen and I are arguing, when I get a job, when I have my first kid...you’ll still be my first call for all of that. You know? I still... depend on you, to support me like I know no one else will.”

Dean sets the plate down and fights the wave of emotion that hits him out of nowhere. No way is he going to get all misty eyed with Eileen and Cas just a few feet away. He looks up at Sam- he still hates that he has to look up at his little brother- and nods once.

“Yeah...yeah, I know. You’re right. C’mere,” he pulls Sam down for a quick hug then roughly pushes him away, rolling his shoulders with a grunt. “Enough of the chick flick shit. Start dryin’ these plates.”

Sam smiles and grabs a dry washcloth. “Yeah, whatever. You love chick flicks.”

Dean pauses, then nods his head. “Yeah, you’re right. I do.”

The rest of the evening is spent nursing beers or coffees, chatting mostly about Sam and Eileen’s wedding with Dean in much better spirits than before. It could be the talk with Sam or the alcohol, but he’s feeling pretty good about everything and doesn’t even grumble too much about having to make a best man speech. Whatever. He’s just going to tell embarrassing stories about Sam, especially the one involving a nurse’s uniform and Bobby’s liquor cabinet-

“Dean, no!”

Oh, he’s so telling that story.

Finally, with not-so-sober Sam in tow, Eileen bids them all goodnight and ushers her stumbling fiance out to the car.

“Kid never could hold his liquor,” Dean snorts as he closes the door, then grunts in surprise when Cas pushes him roughly up against the wood from behind. Dean smirks and rolls with it, cheek pressed against the door as Cas crowds him, lips grazing the back of Dean’s neck and strong hands gripping his waist.

“Want something, Cas?” Dean asks, playing innocent even while he thrusts his ass out to press against Cas’s crotch.

Cas's fingers roam under his shirt and press into his skin as he latches onto his neck and sucks, sending a shiver down Dean's spine and straight into his dick. His bravado melts away as Cas lavishes him, and he goes pliant under his touch.

Cas must feel the change, because he pulls away slowly and turns Dean in his arms, cupping his cheek and pressing a soft kiss there before taking his hand and leading him to the bedroom. He backs Dean up against the bed, meeting his eyes as he pulls Dean’s shirt over his head and tosses it to the side. He unbuttons his pants too, dropping slowly to his knees as he pulls them and his underwear down, helping him out of them, and he kisses the head of his hardening cock on his way back up.

Dean swallows hard, his throat going dry. “Cas…”

Cas kisses him silent, pushing gently on his chest until Dean lays back against the mattress.

“Stay,” he signs, a simple command, and Dean nods solemnly. He watches with nervous anticipation as Cas retreats to the closet and returns with one of Dean’s belts and his blue tie, holding them out in front of him and gesturing to the bedposts, making his intentions clear.

And of fucking course Cas knows what he needs right now, because Cas knows him better than anybody, even better than he knows himself, a lot of times. Dean nods, and Cas lays the belt and the tie on the bed as he undresses, keeping his eyes on Dean the whole time. When he’s relieved of his clothes, he climbs onto the bed and straddles Dean’s waist, just out of reach of his aching cock, and begins to restrain him. With the tie first, on his left wrist, and the belt second, on his right.

Dean tests the restraints just to be a shit and finds Cas has got him locked down pretty tight. His heart leaps and his breath leaves in a whoosh as the excitement of uncharted territory builds. He sort of expected to be at least a little uncomfortable, even nervous, but he strangely feels completely at ease with this.

Cas taps his cheek to get his attention and Dean snaps his eyes up, swallowing at the look of deep intensity in those too-blue eyes.

“Tell me to stop and I will,” Cas signs to him and Dean nods silently, licking his lips. He doesn’t see himself telling Cas to stop, because he trusts Cas to know what’s too far or too much. Cas’s eyes are steady, his demeanor calm, and Dean knows now why he feels so comfortable with this. He would never let himself be this vulnerable with anyone else. He knows Cas will keep him steady.

Cas leans down and kisses him slowly, barely dipping his tongue past Dean’s lips, tasting him. He pulls back all too soon, leaving Dean wanting more, chasing his lips as far as he can before the restraints pull him back. Cas bites his lip and reaches up, tracing the tie and belt wrapped around each of Dean’s wrists, sliding his fingers up and giving each one a good yank to make sure they’re tightly in place. He moves off of Dean and to one of the drawers of the nightstand, pulling out a brand new rubber cockring and fixing Dean with a smirk.

“The hell did you get that thing?” Dean asks incredulously, eyebrows raised, his cock giving a valiant twitch.

Cas doesn’t answer, pulling out the lube and applying some to the inside of the ring, then moving back to the bed, between Dean’s legs. He slides the ring on Dean’s half-hard cock, fitting it in place at the base, and gives his cock a few short pumps, helping to stroke him to hardness.

Fuck, Cas, what-”

Cas looks up at him with lust-blown pupils and holds a finger up to his lips, effectively shushing him. Dean presses his lips together and nods, and Cas squirts more lube onto his fingers. He lays a hand on the inside of Dean’s thigh and pushes them open, wider, pressing his slicked fingers to Dean’s hole and circling the rim. He circles slowly for so long that Dean starts to grow impatient, earnestly pushing down against those fingers, trying to get them inside. Cas doesn’t allow it, though, not yet, and Dean finds himself beginning to sweat from the anticipation. He’s just about to whine about it when Cas finally, finally slides the first finger in to the last knuckle, quirking it upwards and eventually finding that little bundle of nerves. He furrows his brow, tongue poking slightly out of his lips as he concentrates, very slowly rubbing the pad of his finger over Dean’s sensitive prostate.

Dean is trembling with the effort to keep still and quiet, his alternating between squeezing shut and popping open to watch Cas. His fingers curl around his restraints and tug, the headboard groaning under his strength. Cas’s eyes snap up and he presses his lips together, reaching up with his free hand to loosen some of Dean’s fingers in a clear command.

Relax.

Dean takes a deep breath and as he exhales, his hands loosen and his arms go slack, nothing but the restraints holding them up. He licks his lips, his cock twitching when Cas adds a second finger. Dean groans in frustration, head falling back onto the pillow as his hole clenches around the two fingers. Cas doesn’t seem to be in any hurry, though, watching Dean’s every twitch, hearing his every gasp, seeming to get some sick pleasure from making Dean squirm.

Dean almost sobs when Cas finally adds a third finger. He twitches and clenches around them, jerking when Cas occasionally brushes his prostate. Dean’s cock leaks profusely, the cum running down his length and dribbling over his stomach. It’s red, flushed, swollen, begging for attention that Dean is pretty sure it’s not going to get. It borders on painful and he hisses through his teeth when Cas presses a kiss softly to the throbbing tip.

He’s close to begging when Cas finally retracts his fingers in favor of slicking his own cock with the lube. Cas’s eyes never leave him; a stare that would be uncomfortable if it were anyone but Cas. Somehow, though, it makes Dean feel safe, loved, like he’s the only thing that matters on the planet. Cas has a knack for making him feel that way in everything he says and does, but Dean finds that the way he looks at him says more than any words he could possibly say.

Cas lays his palm flat against Dean’s thigh, squeezing three times. Dean pulls lightly against the restraints as he looks up at him and nods.

“I know, Cas. Me too.”

When Cas finally slides inside, eyes closed, mouth hanging open, Dean moans softly and closes his eyes, letting his head fall back against the pillow. He’s sweating now, the sheets clinging to his back, even through the slight chill of the house. Cas presses deep, pitching his weight forward, hands resting on either side of Dean, trapping his cock between their bellies as he leans down and presses their lips together. Dean chases it when he pulls away, only opening his eyes when the warmth of his body over his is gone. Cas sits back on his calves and lifts Dean’s thighs up, situating them around his waist, his hands sliding back down to his hips as he pulls out slowly and thrusts back in, circling his hips.

Dean can’t tell if he’s in Heaven or Hell, the slow torture Cas is inflicting on him so painfully good he’s not sure if he wants more or to pull away. He arches off the bed, grinding down to entice Cas to move . Cas digs his nails into Dean’s hips, stilling his movements, and raises a single eyebrow at Dean. He groans pathetically up at Cas, but obeys the silent command and pulls at his restraints out of pure frustration. Knowing Cas, Dean can fathom a guess that this isn’t just to torture him. Cas is trying to tell him something, show him something, but all Dean wants is a hard fuck.

“Please, Cas,” Dean croaks, his voice breaking the silence between them, horse and dry. Cas shakes his head and slides back out, thrusting in just as deliberate and slow, circling his hips just right to press his cock against the prostate. Cas ghosts his hand up and down Dean’s torso, teasing his nipples and dancing over his stomach, skillfully avoiding the thick cock bobbing between them. The little shit.

“Cas, Cas, please,” Dean sobs, tightening his thighs around Cas’s waist. “Can’t take this. Do whatever you want, just fuck me .”

Cas all but ignores him, watching his own hands move up and down Dean’s body, along his legs as he rocks in and out slowly. Dean tosses his head back and groans in frustration, stretching, arching, flexing...anything he can do to entice Cas.

“Cas,” Dean begs, forcing his eyes open and looking up at him, blinking through the blurriness, “please...need to feel you. I need you, Cas, please…”

Cas holds the outside of one of Dean’s thighs and moves his other hand down the other leg, grabbing his ankle and moving the leg over to his other side. Dean’s upper half is still flat against the bed, save for his arms, pulled tight toward the headboard, his lower half twisted to one side as Cas presses in deep, testing out the new angle. He slides in and out a few times, achingly slow, and Dean squeezes his eyes shut, his brow furrowed, trying desperately to grind down, to no avail.

Dean whimpers pathetically and Cas finally adjusts them again, moving his leg back around and instead pressing both of his thighs up as high as they can go, his knees pressing dangerously close to his chest. He slips out as he works to adjust Dean and Dean immediately misses the stretch, opening his mouth to complain just as Cas pushes in again, the head of his cock directly nailing his prostate.

“Fuck!” Dean cries out, his thighs trembling under Cas’s hands. Cas blessedly moves now, pumping in and out roughly, sweat beading on his forehead, his thighs slapping against Dean’s backside with a wet sound, folding him in on himself. It feels so good, too good, and he knows without a doubt that he’d be nearing orgasm if the ring wasn’t staving it off.

And Cas, bless him...even Dean’s sex-clouded mind he can hear the man wheezing, trying to push down the remnants of his sickness to give Dean what he wants, what he needs . Dean would protest at this point about his overexertion if he could just get his fucking voice to work, but he can do little more than whimper and moan, wrapping his fingers around the restraints and pressing his forehead against his arm.

The pressure builds low in his belly and rams into him and he arches hard with a loud cry, looking wide-eyed down at his flushed cock, which is clean save for the clear wetness at the tip. His cock aches and twitches but nothing comes out, and while Dean wants desperately to come he also knows that while oversensitive now, touch will be unbearable when Cas finally decides to indulge him.

Cas hits his prostate dead on, hard and fast, and Dean bites down hard on his arm to keep from screaming. His cock twitches violently, throbbing with the load it can’t spill, sparks of pleasure and pain radiating up and down the shaft as Cas continues his assault. Even through his labored breathing, Cas doesn’t slow for a second. He grips Dean hard and snaps his hips over and over, the wet slap of skin on skin loud and bruising. Dean finds that he kind of likes the pain, likes how Cas can push it right to the edge. And he definitely likes the look on Cas’s eyes, so dark with lust the blue is almost gone, staring at Dean so intently he could swear Cas is looking at his soul. He thinks Cas likes this, too...likes having this control even if it’s just one little part of his otherwise unpredictable life.

Dean squeezes his eyes shut and groans into his arm, but Cas reaches up and firmly grasps his chin and taps his cheek, making sure to bring Dean’s attention back to him. He holds Dean’s gaze on him, slowly letting go of his chin and ghosting his hand down Dean’s body again. He takes Dean’s cock in his hand just as his thrusts begin to become more erratic and tears spring to Dean’s eyes at the sensitivity, comparable to post-orgasm sensitivity but heightened in intensity.

“Cas,” Dean cries pathetically, gasping and arching, pulling earnestly at the restraints. “Cas, please, pleasepleaseplease …”

Cas’s eyes roll back and he closes them as his mouth falls open, both hands dropping to hold tightly to Dean’s thighs as he comes. He sways on his knees, his head falling forward, twitching slightly as he slowly pumps his hips in and out.

Dean chokes out a moan because Cas looks so damn beautiful and he really wants to come . Castiel shudders and Dean can feel his cock twitching inside. His hips slow until they’re only just vaguely twitching, then he almost reluctantly pulls out, leaving Dean achingly empty and still hard as a fucking rock.

Dean watches, heavy eyed and strung tight, as Cas sits back leisurely and dips his head between Dean’s legs. A second later there’s a warm, wet tongue teasing his rim and licking up the mess of cum between his cheeks. Dean squeezes his eyes shut and arches, his cock bobbing.

“Cas, baby, please ,” he sobs, chest heaving. “I gotta come, I can’t-“

Cas pulls away, licking his glistening lips, which is just all manner of hot, and crawls up Dean’s body like some damn sex kitten. Dean arches immediately, seeking friction, anything , to help with the ache between his thighs. Cas very intentionally avoids Dean’s cock and sits just below his chest, holding a finger up to Dean’s lips when he tries to protest. It’s a good thing his arms are still tied, because Dean has the overwhelming urge to shove Cas up against the wall and fuck him hard and fast, desperate for his own orgasm. Not to mention that Cas’s face when he’s being fucked is the stuff of wet dreams, making more than a few appearances in Dean’s subconscious.

“I need you, Cas, please,” Dean begs, sucking the finger into his mouth and looking up at Cas through his lashes. Cas watches him in awe, pressing his tongue to his bottom lip. He pulls back finally and reaches over for the bottle of lube, slicking his fingers and reaching behind himself. He braces one hand on Dean’s chest and he works himself open, and Dean knows the second he sinks the first finger inside, feeling his legs clamp a little tighter around his torso and hearing his breathing pick up again.

Fuck, baby, you-” Dean swallows hard, throat dry and voice hoarse, “you look so good, sweet angel…”
Cas doesn’t allow himself nearly enough prep before he moves back and proceeds to remove the cockring, but Dean loses his breath before he can argue, the sensations of Cas touching him too much to allow him to think straight. Cas lubes his cock and slowly pulls the ring off, then strokes a few more times, too slowly to allow Dean to get off on it. He shifts again, back up Dean’s body. He lines himself up over Dean’s cock, the head pressing against his tight rim, and slowly sinks down.

Dean gasps, coming down on a growl, and pulls hard enough against the restraints that his shoulder twinges and the headboard makes a small cracking sound.

Cas pauses when Dean is fully sheathed inside, his chest rattling slightly as he fights to drag in air, letting himself adjust and further torturing the poor man beneath him. Dean is a whimpering, babbling mess incapable of much thought but yesyesyesmovemovemove , so close to the edge already that it won’t take much from Cas at all to get him to blow his load. He tugs at his restraints again, the muscles of his arms stretching and the wood of the headboard groaning.

Cascascas ,” Dean sobs, unable to stop his hips from canting up and making Cas bounce slightly on top of him. “So good, feel so good, oh fuck - I’m gonna- Cas -”

Cas, thank fuck, doesn’t make Dean wait. He grips Dean’s hips hard, keeping them firmly in place, and lifts up, slamming back down with a loud slap and getting Dean deep. Dean’s mouth falls open and he moans like a damn porn star, something that would have embarrassed him if Cas didn’t feel so fucking good, if his cock wasn’t already pulsing and if that ass wasn’t gripping him so perfectly, wet and tight, sliding up and down with a rough pace-

Shitshit- ” Dean gasps and arches, Cas’s weight may as well meaning nothing for as much as he bounced him up, getting his cock deep inside. His eyes roll to the back of his head and his vision goes black for a second, his muscles clenching as his orgasm erupts from him with no chance of being held back. His dick pulses as it spills inside, filling Cas up with hot seed.

When his awareness fully returns, Cas is kneeling beside him, untying the tie around his wrist, his other already freed and laying limply by his side. Cas tosses the tie to the side and sits cross-legged, pulling Dean’s arm into his lap and massaging his wrist gently. Dean lays boneless, chest still heaving, tear tracks out of the corners of his eyes dried and tight against the cool air of the bedroom. After a few minutes, Cas moves to the other side and massages his other wrist, and Dean closes his eyes and hums softly, rolling his shoulders back against the mattress and finding them stiff and sore.

Cas finally stands and helps Dean sit, then taps his thigh and points to the bathroom. Dean nods, scrubbing a hand down his face, his arm feeling foreign and heavy. He allows Cas to lead him into the bathroom, and he leans against the doorway as he watches him run steaming water into the tub. He digs under the counter, brow furrowed, and finally pulls out an ancient box of Epsom salt that Dean doesn’t ever remember buying- in fact, it may have been from when he dated Lisa- and pours a generous amount into the tub.

Cas stands and smiles softly at him, wrapping his arms around his waist as he pulls him in for a chaste kiss, then he pulls him over to the tub. He steps in first, settling against the back, and motions for Dean to sit in front.

It’s a kind of awkward position, and it’s not ideal in that it won’t be easy for Cas to talk to him, but Dean can’t find it in himself to care as he sinks into the water, the warmth soaking into his sore muscles.

The first few minutes are spent in complete silence, each still riding their post-orgasm high as Cas leisurely runs a bar of soap over Dean’s skin, occasionally stopping to massage the muscles of his arms and shoulders. Dean leans heavily on Cas, the water up to his chest, letting the warmth of the water and Cas’s touch lull him into a blissful state. He vaguely wishes they had some soft music playing and makes a mental note to purchase a little dock for his phone so they can listen to his playlist.

Cas places a finger under Dean’s chin, tilting it up, and Dean lets his head fall back as Cas massages the soap across his neck and chest.

“You’re gonna spoil me,” Dean says in a hoarse voice, his throat raw. Cas nods and gestures to Dean, then points to himself with a shrug.

“Hm, ‘cause I spoil you, too?” Dean smiles and Cas nods again, the corners of his lips tugging upwards. “Can’t argue with that. I ain’t stoppin’ anytime soon.”

Cas rolls his eyes and dips the soap under the water, sliding over Dean’s stomach and around his groin, avoiding his overly sensitive cock, which Dean is grateful for; even the softest touch would be too much right now.

“Where’d you learn how to do that, anyway?” Dean grunts, closing his eyes and lolling his head to the side. He doesn’t really expect an answer, and he suspects he’d find it in the search history on his computer if he really wants to know. Cas just continues his ministrations, pressing his cheek against the top of Dean’s head.

They stay like that until the water starts to get uncomfortably cool, Dean only moving just enough to allow Cas to reach his shoulders and massage out some of the stiffness. They drain the tub, towel off wordlessly, and climb into bed, and Dean sits up against the headboard, draping the covers over his waist. Cas flops down beside him and squirms until his head rests on Dean’s thigh, and he smiles up at him boyishly, one hand resting on his stomach.

“Thank you,” Dean says finally, pushing some of Cas’s wild hair off his forehead.

“I know how hard Sam leaving is for you,” Cas signs.

“I am happy for him, you know? I just-”

“I know.”

“It’s always just been me and him, Cas. Things are...scarier without him, I guess. I had a clear purpose before. I looked after Sammy, took care of Sammy, made sure Sammy had everything he needed, made something of himself. Now I have to figure out a new purpose for myself.”

Cas folds his fingers over Dean’s and pulls his hand down to his lips, letting it rest there, looking up at him innocently.

“Yeah, you’re real cute.” Which, okay, he totally is, but Dean isn’t going to let that go to Cas’s head too much. Dean smiles, because he can’t help it, and pokes at Cas’s bottom lip. “I can always just take care of you, if you let me.”

Cas tilts his head in that cute way and blinks up at Dean.

“I know you can take care of yourself,” Dean shrugs, “but I like doin’ it. I dunno. Charlie says I’m a natural caretaker and I guess she has a point. Always tryna feed people, worried about their needs before my own. Especially with you…” Dean’s smile softens and he traces Cas’s lips and jaw. “Want you happy all the time.”

Cas blushes and hides his face in Dean’s thigh, and a moment later Dean can feel tiny kisses on his skin. He chuckles and grabs the remote off the nightstand, turning on the small TV sitting on his dresser. He finds Netflix and puts on Moana , another Disney movie that is quickly becoming a favorite of Cas’s.

Cas immediately picks his head up and smiles, settling closer and using Dean as a pillow as the movie starts to play. They’ve watched it too many times to count now, but Dean doesn’t mind. Whatever makes his angel smile.

Chapter Text

Dean’s always hated hospitals.

There’s no real reason behind it, save for the harsh lighting, the long white sterile hallways, the smell of sickness and death. And even never having visited one under any kind of detrimental circumstances, they still cause dread to pool at the pit of his stomach. Never more so than it did now, though.

Cas sits beside him, his knees pressed tightly together, his hands clasped in his lap, fingers fidgeting. He’s staring unseeingly up at the television in the corner of the room, but Dean knows he has no real attachment to whatever is currently on the cooking channel, regardless of how interested he’s trying to appear to be about the preparation of vegetarian tortellini.

They’d had this appointment set up for weeks, since they’d returned from Maine, and Cas had been inwardly stressing about it since then. He hadn’t said as much to Dean, and he changed the subject whenever Dean tried to broach it with him, but he hadn’t been sleeping well, and he’d spent even more time than normal retreated into himself. All that Dean could’ve written off, but when Cas flat out refused to an invitation to take new pictures at a park they’d never been to before, he knew it was bad.

Dean lays a hand over Cas’s, stilling his nervous twitching. Cas pointedly keeps his gaze on the television, pressing his lips together, jaw set.

“‘S okay to be scared, Cas,” Dean says softly. “But everything’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be fine. No matter what they say, we got this.”

Cas remains stiff, only closing his eyes and taking a long, silent breath. He slowly pulls his hands out from under Dean’s, folding in on himself.

Dean sighs softly and moves his hand to Cas’s knee, giving it three short squeezes. “I won’t let you shut me out. That’s not gonna help anybody. And whether you like it or not, I’m here. For the good and the bad.”

Cas doesn’t respond and Dean doesn’t expect him to. He keeps his hand firmly on Cas’s knee, hopefully offering some semblance of comfort. When a nurse calls his name, Cas visibly flinches and tenses, as if planning to run for it. Instead, he takes a deep breath and stands slowly, almost subconsciously reaching for Dean’s hand- which of course is right there, strong fingers wrapping around his- and they follow the nurse through the double metal doors.

Given the nature of the cancer and the failure to keep up with his every three month schedule, the doctor calls for a PET scan. Cas almost starts panicking at this, clutching to Dean’s hand painfully with a sweaty palm and shaking his head rapidly, already trying to tug Dean towards the door. Dean plants his feet firmly and, as much as it breaks his heart to see the fear in Cas’s eyes, he pulls Cas back and places his hands on either side of his clammy face.

“No, no running,” Dean whispers, stroking his cheek. “You can do this. Real quick. We get it done and we leave, okay? I’m right here.”

Cas looks away, blinking his watery eyes, and bites his lip hard. He nods once, staring intently at the white wall, and swallows. Dean quickly helps him change into a gown (Cas’s hands are shaking too much to do it himself) and holds his hand while they administer the injection- where Dean learns that Cas really hates shots.

Unfortunately, though predictably, Dean can’t join Cas in the room itself. Instead, he’s forced watch through a window while Cas, in full-blown panic mode now, is laid out and sent through a terrifying-looking machine. They tell him when to breathe, when to exhale, and somehow through his anxiety Cas manages these simple instructions.

It feels like hours before he’s finally done, though in actuality it can’t have been more than a half hour or so. Dean enters the room again as soon as the doctor allows him to, wrapping his arms around a shaking Cas, smoothing down his hair and kissing his forehead.

“Hey, you did great, baby,” he whispers reassuringly against his forehead, cupping his neck with one hand. “It’s over. Let’s get you dressed and we can go home.”

Cas’s new oncologist is Dr. Barnes, a pretty, dark-haired woman who appears to be in her early forties. She seems nice enough, knowledgeable and understanding, and she assures them that she’ll call with the results within the next couple of days.

“In the meantime,” she says, “try not to worry about it. It’s been over a year since your last radiation treatments, and your scans came up clean then.” She looks to Dean. “There’s no use in him worrying himself sick. We’ll have answers soon.”

Dean gives her a stiff nod and shakes her hand, and he helps Cas dress after she leaves. He’s pale and looks exhausted by the time they walk out of the hospital, and he practically collapses into the passenger seat of the Impala, sinking down in the seat and wrapping his arms around his middle. The drive back to the house is tense, and for as uncomfortable as the silence is, it doesn’t seem right to turn on any music either, so they sit in silence. Dean reaches over and takes Cas hand, stroking the back of it with his thumb.

When they get back home, Cas seems restless and paces around the small space, fingers twitching and skin still pale. Dean thinks about making coffee, but dismisses the idea immediately. Cas is a wired enough as it is, even if he looks ready to pass out. Dean considers making some food, but dismisses this as well. He’s not hungry and Cas looks too sick to eat.

Finally, Dean asks the question he’s been dreading since the drive home. “You want some time to yourself?” he murmurs, rubbing at his arm. Are you going to leave?

Cas pauses in mid-step in the living room, seeming to think about this hard, but shakes his head. Dean sighs softly in relief and nods, glancing at the bedroom. He chews his lip and shifts on his feet. “Want me to take care of you?”

Cas eyes the open bedroom door and nods slowly, and Dean smiles as he takes his hand. He pulls him inside and shuts the door, giving it a sense of privacy even if it isn’t needed.

“C’mere.” Dean pulls him close and Cas goes willingly, gentle hands on his face, then his neck, down his chest. “Want the tie?”

Cas closes his eyes and nods. Dean quickly retrieves it and ties it gently, blocking Cas’s view with soft silk. Dean undresses him quickly and leads him to the bed, nudging him onto the sheets. Cas spreads out on his stomach, pressing his face into the pillows. Dean grabs some massage oil and climbs onto the bed after ridding himself of everything but his boxers.

“Just relax, sweetheart,” Dean says, straddling the backs of Cas’s thighs and soaking his hands up in lavender scented oil. The words aren’t needed. Cas is already much less tense than he was five minutes ago, letting the darkness and silence envelope him. Just for good measure, Dean turns off the lamp, the only light now coming through the curtains.

Dean works his oily fingers over Cas’s muscles meticulously, going over every inch and inching his way down. It’s nothing sexual, demanding nothing from Cas but his willing compliance. Simply letting Dean shower him with affection with gentle touches and soft kisses, feeling Dean’s love for him, his world nothing but warm darkness and ceaseless wanderings of fingers and lips.

Bit by bit Cas relaxes under his skillful hands, molding himself to the bed, his breathing evening out. Dean’s not sure how long he runs his hands over Cas’s body before Cas finally sleeps, but he continues massaging for awhile anyway, maybe more for himself than for Cas, to ensure himself that his angel is still here. That he’s safe, that he’s okay...that no matter what happens, they’ll find a way through it together. And if the cancer does come back, they’ll deal with that too.

He doesn’t know much about Cas’s past, but he can deduce based on his reaction to the scans that Cas still harbors a lot of trauma from what he faced years ago. He knows the wait for his results are going to drive them both crazy. He also knows that he’s going to have to be the strong one, the positive one, the tether for when Cas is feel lost at sea, wading in unfortunately familiar waters.

----

Dean wakes the next morning to sunlight shining in through the window, casting broken lines over Cas's naked body. He's laying on his back with his hands over his stomach, wide awake, staring up at the ceiling. They'd had a rough night after Cas stressed all day, and he'd been up and down all night. Dean caught him in the living room around 3 a.m., drinking coffee and watching a movie, and he had to coax him back to bed.

Dean sighs and rubs a hand down his face, then turns on his side and props his head up, laying a hand over Cas's.

“Mornin’, sunshine,” he says groggily, out of habit, and quirks a smile.

Cas doesn't acknowledge it right away, but he finally swallows and the corners of his lips turn up slightly before he looks over at him. There's something in his eyes, though, the smile not quite reaching, and Dean's stomach clenches.

“Dean.” He signs slowly, deliberately.

Dean licks his lips. “Cas…”

Cas pauses for a minute, but it feels like a lifetime, and Dean feels like his heart is about to hammer out of his chest.

“I have to go.”

Dean’s heart falls into his stomach and he feels like he can’t breathe, lungs turning to cement. He somehow manages a small nod and sits up, despite his limbs weighing a ton and his mind grinding to a halt. He sort of thought- well, knew- this would happen. He’s lucky Cas stuck around as long as he did instead of just disappearing while Dean slept. But he’d foolishly hoped Cas would prefer going through this with Dean instead of by himself. They haven’t even heard the results yet.

“Okay, uh, yeah that’s-” Dean scrubs his hands over his face, trying to find his voice, hoping Cas can’t hear it shaking. “Yeah. Good. Fine. Just-”

Cas sits up and grabs his hand, squeezing it three times before pulling away to sign. “Not for long. I just need-”

“Yeah, Cas, I get it,” Dean says a little roughly, not meaning for it to come out that way, but unable to stop it. He climbs out of bed and slips on some sweatpants, running a hand through his hair. He’d told himself he was prepared for this, but weeks and then months went by and Cas seemed to settle in. Dean had pushed it to the back of his mind, letting it gather dust, playing ignorant and pretending he’d never have to go through this again.

Cas watches him warily, wringing his hands, back rigid. Dean glances around the room, as if the answer to this would be buried under his laundry.

“You’re eating first,” he finally says, tone leaving no room for argument. Cas nods solemnly and slowly gets out of bed to pull on some pajama bottoms. Dean marches into the kitchen to see what he had to whip up, Cas following silently behind him.

They're out of pancake mix so he just pulls out a pack of bacon and the carton of eggs and sits them both on the counter before turning to put on a pot of coffee. Cas stands back and watches him awkwardly, wringing his hands together.

He’s filling the filter with coffee grounds when he feels Cas’s hand on his arm and he looks to see him staring at him with wide, glassy blue eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he signs, and Dean swallows, shrugging.

“Nothin’ to apologize for,” he murmurs, so jumbled he’s not sure if Cas can even understand him. Cas’s hand on his arm pulls insistently though, and he sighs and looks back over at him.

“I just feel like I’m-” Cas frowns, caging his hands together.

“Trapped. Yeah. I get it.”

“No,” Cas signs furiously. “Well, yes. But not in the way you think.”

Dean rolls his shoulders, setting up the coffeemaker and pressing the ‘on’ button, then turns back to the stove. He feels Cas pulling on the band of his sweatpants next, trying to get his attention. Dean spins around and hooks Cas’s waist, pressing their lips together and backing him up, sliding his hands down to his thighs before lifting him up onto the counter. He holds tightly to his waist with one arm, the other hand sliding up and fisting into his hair as he slips his tongue between Cas’s parted lips.

They pull apart breathlessly a moment later and Dean holds the back of Cas’s neck as he rocks their foreheads together.

“I do get it, Cas. I’m sorry, I just...I’m going to miss you. I’m going to worry about you. I know you need this, and I’ll support it, but it’s not going to be easy. So you can’t just...expect me to be okay, you know? This is not gonna change how I feel about you, but...you gotta just let me not be okay.”

Cas swallows and nods, one hand coming up to rest on Dean’s neck.

“Okay,” he finally signs when he pulls away, giving him a nod.

“And a phone, Cas. Please. Let me get you a phone. Just so you can check in from time to time, so I know you’re okay.”

Cas pauses, looking unsure.

“Please, Cas,” Dean pulls back to look in his eyes, his hand sliding forward with him to cup Cas’s cheek. “Please. I won’t even give the number to anyone else...that’s all up to you. And I won’t call you, I won’t text first. All I ask is you at least text me once a day to let me know you’re okay. That’s it.”

Cas sighs and finally nods, letting Dean turn his attention back to the stove. Cas swings his legs as he watches Dean fry up some bacon, then scramble eggs with the leftover grease. By the time the food is cooked, the coffee is done gurgling and they both sit to an only slightly awkward breakfast. Dean practically forces Cas to eat seconds before releasing him to go pack. Dean makes quick work of the dishes, the cleaning only helping a little to keep his mind off things. The fact is Cas is going to be gone, most likely in just an hour or two, and Dean isn’t sure how to deal with it.

He mostly stays out of the way while Cas gathers his clothes, but manages to slip in extra pairs of socks and maybe, possibly , an extra $100 that Cas won’t find until much later when it’s too late to argue about it. Dean digs for his old flip phone, which he’s kept charged and ready to go as a ‘just in case’. He programs his number before handing the phone and charger over to Cas.

“I’m serious, you check in every day,” Dean says firmly, stuffing his hands in his pockets while Cas stuffs his bag with jeans. “Just a simple ‘safe’ will do. Okay?”

Cas zips up his bag and rubs his palms on his sweatpants, looking up at Dean with tired eyes and nodding.
“Good.” Dean looks down as he toes at the carpet. He looks back up after a moment and motions to the phone, now laying on top of Cas’s bag. “I’ll go get that activated as soon as I drop you wherever you want to go.” He tongues the inside of his cheek and points a finger at him. “And no sleeping on the street. Find a motel. Something. You’re just gettin’ over bein’ sick-”

Cas just stares at him, his expression unreadable. He looks almost sad, but also exhausted, worried, anxious, and maybe even a little awestruck. He tilts his head and furrows his brow in thought.

“What?”

Cas licks his already chapped lips and steps forward, taking Dean’s hand and giving him a long look before he leads him into the bathroom, moving him to stand in front of the mirror. Cas hoists himself up onto the counter and crosses his legs, then reaches back for the bottle of purple dye, squirting some into his hands and motioning Dean forward. Dean frowns but complies, and Cas carefully saturates his hair with the dye, rubbing it through with tenderness and great attention to detail, refusing to miss a spot. He pushes the longer pieces up in the front, spiked like Dean normally wears it, and grins proudly before cleaning the color off his hands.

Next he finds his eyeliner and carefully applies that as well, slowly, his eyes locked with Dean’s the entire time. When he’s done he recaps and tosses the eyeliner pencil onto the counter and signs:

“Perfect.”

Dean blushes and tries to look down, but Cas catches his chin.

“Don’t lose yourself,” Cas signs. “Be you even without me.”

Dean takes Cas’s face between his hands, thumbs stroking his cheekbones, and nods. “Okay. Yeah, okay, Cas.” He smirks humorlessly and leans forward, pressing a slow, lingering kiss to Cas’s lips. “You know you’re gonna be fine, right? Cause you are. And as soon as those doctors call with the results, I am gonna call you. Gonna let you know to go celebrate, cause everything’s gonna be perfect.”

Cas’s eyes gloss over with tears but he smiles and nods, dipping his head as Dean kisses his forehead, holding Dean’s face as Dean kisses his lips again.

The kiss lingers for a long moment before Dean forces himself to step back, a lump in his throat and his heart hammering in his chest. He realizes what he’s feeling, among other things, is fear. He’s not afraid Cas won’t come back. Dean believes he will with absolute certainty. What he’s afraid of getting through each day until then, coming back to an empty home, making coffee for only one, cooking at the diner and looking through the window only find his angel isn’t there. He won’t know how to fill his days without Cas around to take care of, watching Disney movies with, sing to sleep.

“Got everything?” Dean asks, his voice rough.

Cas presses his lips together and nods, hopping down from the counter.

“Good,” Dean looks back over his shoulder at the duffel bag sitting on the bag. “I put some granola bars and trail mix in your bag while you were in the bathroom. Just in case, you know...but if you run out of money, just call me, okay?”

Cas sighs and nods again, and Dean knows Cas won’t friggin’ call even if he hasn’t eaten in days because he’s too damn stubborn.

Dean rubs at the back of his neck as he follows Cas into the room, watching him gather up his bag and slip the phone into his pocket.

“Hey,” Dean says suddenly. “You should take the laptop.”

Cas pauses and blinks, frowning slightly.

“Just so you can edit your stuff,” Dean shrugs. “I don’t use it much anyway. You can upload your stuff to your Facebook page.”

Dean doesn’t wait for him to answer and disappears into the living room, gathering up the laptop and charger and placing it all in its case. He hands it to Cas wordlessly, who takes it gingerly, his eyes swimming.

Dean grabs his coat and keys, helps Cas put his bags in the car, and they’re down the road all too soon. Cas holds his hand in the silence and when they arrive at the bus station, they both sit and stare out the window, each lost in their own thought. Finally, Cas climbs out of the car, Dean following suit, and grabs his bags from the backseat.

“Be careful,” Dean says uselessly, rubbing his sweaty palms over his jeans. “No sleeping on the street, I mean it. Cheap motel is better than nothin’. Stay away from dark alleys. If it gets cold, don’t stay out in it too long. You can’t get sick again. And-”

Cas kisses him hard and they stumble backwards against the car until they’re breathless. It lasts forever and not long enough. They pull away, breathing, lips brushing, then Cas steps back. With one last, long look at Dean he turns and heads into the small building, the door closing behind him.

Dean sighs and sits back against the car, his hands twitching at his sides, and finally allows the tears to fall. He clears his throat and shakes his head, pinching the bridge of his nose and furiously wiping away the hot tears. He sniffs and pushes himself off the car, shoes scuffing against the gravel as he gives one last look at the doors Cas disappeared through and circles the car, getting inside and slamming the door behind him. He drums his fingers on the wheel and pointedly ignores the bus station as he starts the car and pulls away.

----

“So where did he go?”

Dean sighs and props his feet up on the coffee table, taking a swig from his beer. “Dunno.”

Sam frowns. “You… don't know.”

“No, Sam. It's not like he… to be honest, I don't think he knows until he gets there.”

Sam looks at the tv, turning his bottle in his hand. Another college basketball game is on that neither of them are interested in, but Dean stares unseeingly at the television anyway.

“So why did he leave?”

Dean parts his lips and looks over at him then quickly back at the tv, raising his bottle to his lips.

“Dean.”

Dean sighs again and scrubs a hand down his face. “So I didn't exactly tell you everything about our trip to Maine.”

Sam sits up a little straighter and turns his torso towards Dean, raising a brow as he rests his beer on his knee. “Okay, I’m listening.”

Dean drops his hand and it lands with a slap on his leg. “Look, the whole trip was pretty rough. His other brothers, Michael and Lucifer-”

“Lucifer?”

“Yeah, that’s his real name, too,” Dean rolls his eyes. “Anyway, they’re fuckin’ jackasses. Real pieces of work. But they’re bullies. Easy to deal with. His parents, though…” he shakes his head and picks at the label on his bottle. “They care about him, but they’re hard on him. Especially the mom. Always tryna change him, wanting him to conform to their waspy lifestyle...anyway, she sort of forced a situation on Cas and told me something pretty big.”

Sam frowns and takes a sip of his beer. “Big, like...bad?”

Dean tongues the inside of his cheek. “Yeah, kinda. I kinda knew there was something Cas wasn’t telling me, but I was trying to wait and let him tell me when he was ready. His mom didn’t care if he was ready or not, though.” He sighs and lets his head drop back, closing his eyes. “Cas had cancer when he was a kid. It’s why he can’t use his voice anymore.”

“Oh, shit,” Sam’s eyes widen and he all but faces Dean now, setting his beer down on the coffee table. “Cancer? Jesus.”

“Yeah,” Dean rubs at his eyes. “He went through radiation, chemo, injections- the whole nine yards. Explains why he hates goin’ to the doctor. Also why he gets sick so easily. His immune system is all fucked up because of it.”

“Does...I mean, is it still-”

“He’s in remission,” Dean chews on his lip. “Or, we hope he is. Thing is, he’s supposed to get checked every three months. ‘Course he hasn’t been doin’ that. So, after my insisting, I finally got him in yesterday.”

“Oh…”

“Yeah,” Dean sighs and sets his beer down. “It was...rough. He about near had a panic attack. Anyway, we won’t get the results for a few days. And...I dunno. I kinda knew he’d take off. He barely slept last night, wasn’t talkin’...I woke up this morning and he said he had to go. That he...felt trapped.”

“...trapped.”

“Yes, Sam, trapped. Look,” Dean sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose, “I don't pretend to know exactly why he does some of the things he does. But this...I kind of get it. He was gonna go crazy sittin’ around here, waiting f