Stop panicking, man. You and Cas are great. You’re better than great. You’re at chick-flick levels of greatness. It doesn’t mean anything that Cas canceled date night this week. That’s the first time in a year that he canceled. Everyone we know thinks we are the freakin perfect couple. And they’re not wrong! Dean catalogues all the facts that make them great.
They go on dates at least once a week. Cas is a sap and insists that they be romantic and never take each other for granted. What other couple does that? Jesus, half the time Cas insists on knocking at their apartment door with flowers or a pie in hand to “pick Dean up.” And they have sex. Like, epic amounts of dirty, kinky sex. They also have a LOT of lovey-dovey cuddly sex that Dean can never get enough of. He doesn’t tell anybody but Charlie about that, but that part of their relationship is alive and kicking. They snuggle together on the couch most bad weather weekends and watch Netflix. They do homework together in the evening. They kiss each other goodbye in the morning. Dean does all the cooking; Cas does all the cleaning, even though Dean had to show him how not to ruin the laundry, because just... wow. They shop together every Sunday after having coffee and breakfast at a diner near their apartment. They deliver food to each other when they take double shifts at work. Dean found a garage to work at, and Cas spends late nights at the Gas n’ Sip. And they have picnics on Baby’s hood during their breaks. Basically, their life is domestic fluff. With or without the proposal and the ring, Dean and Cas have fallen into married-like bliss. Dean packs Cas’s lunches for God’s sake. If there was anymore love and romance in their lives, they’d probably die from diabetic shock.
Sure, they have their arguments. If Dean has to listen to Cas’s edicts about heart-healthy diets, he’s gonna pull his hair out. He’s learned how to make the little dork his quinoa salads and kale smoothies, but Dean’s not eating that shit until after his first heart attack, thank you very much! And he knows that Cas doesn’t love how he makes a joke of everything. Who jokes about heart attacks, Dean?! But, somehow, watching Cas roll his eyes is now one of Dean’s favorite parts of the day. Even when Cas is clearly put out with him, even when they’re bitching over who drank the last of the milk or whose turn it is to pick the movie, they still love each other. They still kiss and make-up. They never go to bed angry. Things are perfect.
Or almost perfect. It’s 9:03 p.m. and Cas should have picked up him two hours ago for their date. Tonight, though, Cas hasn’t even made it home.
Pulling out his phone to read their texts for the fiftieth time tonight, Dean sighs. Tonight, their texts only give him more questions and no answers.
Sorry dean no date tonight dont wait up
That was it. No reason. No explanation. No punctuation. It wasn’t like Cas, and it made Dean nervous. It didn’t help that the wedding ring had disappeared from Cas’s sock drawer two weeks ago.
No amount of rubbing at the stubborn crick in his neck would help Dean relax. He’s eaten a piece of pie--ok, three pieces. He’s put on a soft pair of pajamas. He’s taken a shot of the whiskey that Bobby got him for graduation. He’s tried to marathon episodes of Dr. Sexy . He still doesn’t feel any better. No amount of comforts or comfort foods put a dent in the huge rock that seemed to have landed on his heart. Hell, even the pair of cotton pants he borrows from Cas when he feels really down aren’t doing anything, and they always do the trick. They smelled of Cas, and they’re covered in the little cartoon bees his adorable freak of a boyfriend loves. Whenever Dean puts ‘em on them he feels domestic and loved; he also feels a bit like a fuckin teenage girl, but he doesn’t care. Cuz wearing his boyfriend’s clothes always makes him feel happy. But today... that thought--the thought that Cas was his boyfriend --and not his fiance keeps him from feeling comforted.
They finished their first year of university last week, and Dean, who had been waiting for Cas to pop the question for the entire year, had convinced himself that the end of their freshman year would be it. He was sure that the last day of classes would be The Day, especially after Cas announced he was planning a picnic for the two of them. Hell, it wasn’t that much of a stretch, was it?
Dean had found a ring and a draft of Cas’s proposal speech a year ago. Anybody would expect a proposal after that, right? So Dean had been waiting all this time for Cas to ask him. Dean didn’t like waiting around. He preferred action. His default setting was fighting for what he wanted, and he wanted Cas. But if Cas wanted romance, if Cas wanted to be the one to propose, well, Dean was determined to wait. It wasn’t easy, but Dean didn’t need easy. He could suffer through a pathetic amount of waiting and hoping. He could be the kind of man that Cas needed.
So, like a chick, Dean got all fluttery any time something special rolled by. Whenever they went to a classy restaurant, when Christmas came around, on both of their birthdays, on Valentine’s day, on the anniversary of their first study date, of the first time they kissed--both of which Cas insisted they celebrate--Dean expected a proposal. Each big day or holiday, Dean was sure Cas would finally ask him, but Cas never uttered any of the words that Dean had committed to memory. And today was the anniversary of their first date--The Day of the Pie, they called it. Cuz they were idjits.
Dean was waiting for Cas to say You're my family. I love you, all of you. Marry me, Dean or Be brave with me, Dean. Please, be my husband. At this point, Dean didn't need the lines he liked best from Cas's draft. Dean would settle for Put this ring on, Dean. But the words never came. Dean was pretty much ready to throw in the towel. But, after each Big Day, Dean always spent a few minutes looking at the ring and the card with Cas’s proposal draft on it. If Cas wanted to be the one to propose, Dean could wait.
But the notecard had gone missing about 8 months ago, and two weeks ago the ring had disappeared, too. Both times, Dean had emptied the sock drawer, then taken all the drawers out. He’d moved the dresser away from the wall. But there wasn’t any evidence the items had fallen anywhere. Both times, they were just gone. And there were only two options, right? Either Cas was finally ready to pop the question and he was carrying the damn ring around or…
Or he’d decided that he didn’t want to marry Dean. Maybe he decided he didn’t want Dean at all.
Dean shook his head and scrubbed his hands through his hair angrily. You need to chill the fuck out, Winchester. Cas loves you. You love Cas. Stop jumping at the boogeyman. There’s nothing to worry about. Nobody gives up their trust fund for somebody they think they like. Cas loves you. Chill the fuck out.
Dean sighed and decided to try sleeping. A nap on the couch sounded perfect. He’d hear when Cas came home, and he wouldn’t have to try to get comfortable alone on their bed. Dean plopped down on the sofa, and let his body fall back and his eyes close. He folded his arms over his chest and crossed his legs. Sleep would come, and then Cas would come home, and he could stop being a little bitch about a small change of plans that meant nothing. Nothing.
Wait. didn’t Cas leave his funky trench coat behind today? Dean opened his left eye. Maybe it would be worth it to check Cas’s pockets? Maybe he could find a hint in there? Or a ring?
Dean sat up with a frustrated sigh. When had he become such a chick? He didn’t even want to get married that badly. He was still more than a few months shy of 20. Dean and Cas had forever. He wasn’t in a hurry.
He just needed to know. If Cas was tired of him or of living together, that was fine. Well, it wasn’t great, but he could get over it. Eventually. Give him 10 years, and he’d probably only think of Cas a few times a day. But he had to know. He grabbed his phone off the coffee table.
Hey man. You comin home soon?
Not now dean
You pissed or something
No dean just busy
K [pie emoji]
Dean waited but Cas never replied. And that was really weird.
The Pie emoji was basically their dorky way of saying “I love you.” It also occasionally meant bring home some pie . But Cas always knew which one Dean meant. Cas sometimes told Dean he loved him with another pie emoji or by actually writing the words out. Dean never texted the words. He could say ‘em. He did say them. At least once a day. Hell, Dean could even send naked pics of himself with a cold plate of pie sitting on his dick for anniversaries. Pie was freakin romance for them, and Cas wasn’t saying anything back?
Looks like it’s time to finish the whiskey Bobby got him a year ago. Congratulations to me, fuckers.
Cas gets home to a VERY drunk Dean, and things are awkward and angsty and a little bit Austen. Good thing these two idjits thrive in situations like these.
Setting his shoulders, Cas took a deep breath and prepared to turn the key to their apartment. Exhaling loudly, he tried to make peace with his disappointment. Today was supposed to be perfect.
Instead, today was a disaster. He was a scientist, and June 13--a Friday--was just another day on the calendar. It happened to be special, but not because of superstitions that insisted the day was full of bad luck. Today was special because it was an anniversary. Cas glanced at his watch. 11:46. It was The Day of the Pie, or at least it would be for 14 more minutes.
God, today… today almost made him believe in back luck. There was simply no ordinary way to account for this series of improbable events. He’d had a perfect day planned. Planned and researched with back-ups and back-ups for back-ups. And it had all gone wrong.
Normally, when Cas got home this late, he tip-toed in and quietly got into bed and spooned with Dean. Dean would snuggle against him, whsiper something about him being a ninja, or needing to wear a bell. But tonight. . .
Dean was still up? All the lights were on? And there were empty beer bottles in the hall?
“Hey, honey. Welcome home,” Dean slurred.
"Where are you?"
"M'layin on the couch." a near empty bottle appeared above the sofa, waving at Cas.
Cas went to perch on the end of the sofa, and grabbed Dean's feet to put them in his lap.
“Hello, Dean” Cas said, counting over 7 empty beer bottles and an empty whiskey bottle. “Is everything ok?”
“Just peachy, man. Freaking perfect.”
“Where did you get all this, Dean?”
“Hot Neighbor chick. Been flirtin’ with me for months. A wink or two made her pretty willing to buy me a couple 6-packs.”
“Don’t get your panties in a twist, man. I wink at a lotta of folks, but If the sun refused to shine, Cas, I would still be loving you.”
“Why are you quoting Zeppelin lyrics at me, Dean? What’s wrong?”
Dean simply shook his head and took another long drink.
“Dean, I know it’s date night. I apologize for not being here.”
“And the anniversary of our first date, dude.” Dean added without looking at him.
“And the anniversary of our first date, Dean. I am so sorry.”
“You know what gets me, Cas? What I can’t let go of?”
“I can understand folks like us staying together once we get goin’. You know what I mean?”
Cas shook his head, utterly lost.
“What I’m saying is we’re both loyal fuckers. Loyal to a fault. So if we did the whole white picket fence thing. Or the whole shared apartment thing. Or, fuck, even bumped uglies more than a dozen times, we'd probably stick it out. I mean, shit, once we tell somebody we love ‘em or make em hamburgers or pie or make breakfast waffles or whatever, we’re basically like together. For us, that’s basically committed. Right?”
“So I get why you stay around. I get that. What I don’t get--what I don’t get at all is how did you start? Once the whole I-love-Dean train left the station, I can you see you stayin’ on. I can. But what could set you off in the first place? That’s what I don’t get.” Dean took another long swallow and tried to toss his empty in the trash near the kitchen. The bottle bounced off the lid and rolled along on the carpeted floor. Dean huffed a laugh and grabbed another.
“You want to know when I started loving you?” Cas asked timidly.
“Liking. Loving. Whatever.”
“You want to know the hour, or the spot, or--”
“Or the look, or the words, whatever laid the foundation.”
“Dean, it was so long ago. I was in the middle of loving you before I knew I had started.”
“Come on, man. My hotness didn’t earn me second looks at the beginning, and my” Dean snorted, “my manners sure weren’t winning me any favors. I hardly ever talked to you without being a dick. Now, come on, did you like me for being a smart ass or what?”
“You are are very smart, Dean.”
“You might as well call me a smart ass. I wasn’t much more than that. So you were sick of people kissing your ass. All those people who were always trying to impress you were making you sick, huh? I got under your skin because I was different. If you weren’t such a bleeding heart, you would have hated me for all the shit I pulled. But even though you try to come off as the serious son of Governor Novak, you’re really just a good guy. You hate all those people who are using you for your family connection. I got it. You don’t even have to try to explain it. I Scooby-Doo'd this little mystery. You didn’t know shit about me--didn’t even know if I was a decent guy, but who cares about that when they fall in love.”
“You don’t call it decent that you protected me from myself and from censure Freshman year?”
“Protecting you! What else could I do? You were freakin’ Castiel Novak? Who would have reported you to teachers for knocking them out cold. I mean, you can call it decent if you want to. Shit, we’re boyfriends know, you gotta make me sound like Prince Charming. Don’t worry, I’ll do my part.” Dean winked, “I’ll keep bein’ irresistible, little ole’ me.” Dean winks again and lays on that smile that Cas has seen him flash at waitresses when he doesn’t have enough to tip well. “Good old Dean. An aquarius who enjoys sunsets, likes long walks on the beach, and has perky nipples.”
“Dean, you’re drunk. Let’s just go to sleep. If you want, tomorrow, I can explain--”
“No, I get it. You like ‘em fiesty, huh? You like a ass kicking more than ass kissing, right?”
“Dean, really, i’m sorry about today--”
“So, let’s fight now.” Dean balled up his fist and laid it on Cas’s cheek. He pushed, moving Cas7s face. “I’ll keep roughin’ you up until you tell me.”
“Tell you what, Dean?”
“If you were always half in love with me, why’d it take you four years to pony up? What made you ignore me for years? Why did always act like I was invisible?”
“Becauase you were angry with me, and gave me no encouragement.”
“I was embarrassed man. I was drunk as shit. I thought hitting on your sister was a good idea to get your attention. I was an idiot!”
“I was embarrassed, too, Dean. And an idiot.”
“You could have said something to me. Said hello in the hallway. Talked to me after one year, instead of three.”
“A man who had felt less, might.”
“You have an answer for everything Cas. And you’re always so calm. Like you’re leading a damn debate team. Forget it. I guess I'll just be waiting for another four years."
"Waiting for what, Dean?"
"Nothing, Cas. It's ok. I just want you to know, you can get off the train any time you want."
“Dean, come on.” Cas stood and pulled Dean up. He gave him a hug that Dean leaned in to. Pulling the bottle from his hand, he linked their fingers and guided Dean toward their bedroom. “I’m getting you into bed.”
Dean shuffled along behind. Cas let go of his hands when they reached the bed. He filled a glass of water. “Drink this.”
After Dean gulped down the water, he pushed his shoulders down and pulled the covers up over his shoulders. “We’re going to bed. This has been a tough day for both of us. Tomorrow, I’ll make us breakfast and wake you up. Then we can talk this out. I’m sorry about date night, Dean.”
Still not totally sober, Dean wakes up and overhears a very strange phone-call between Cas and ...
"No!" Cas sighed. "No, I can't. Don't be ridiculous!'"
Dean squeezed his eyes closed against the sudden shot of pain ringing through his head. Cas was pissed, and he was loud, and that was wrong in so many ways. First, it was making Dean's hangover a real bitch. Second, it was freaking Dean the hell out. Dean had been dragged out of sleep a few minutes ago, probably woken up by the sounds of Cas's yelling from the kitchen. The thing is, Cas was never angry like that. Ever. In all the years Dean had known him, he'd never heard Cas lose his cool like that. Sure, the guy got angry. But he somehow channeled that anger into (usually) Naomi-destroying super powers. Even when Cas was pissed, he tended to be calm. Something must be really wrong.
Rubbing his temples, Dean noticed it was still dark out, but the glare from the bedside clock was too painful for Dean to stare at long enough to tell the time. Fucking hang over. His head was killing him, his stomach was churning, and his mouth tasted like ass--and not in a good way. He huffed a laugh. His brain was basically malfunctioning. He needed water. Maybe some juice. A whole bottle of aspirin. But first he had to figure out what had Cas so upset. He crawled out of bed and managed to make it into the dark hallway before he needed to lean against the wall and take some deep breathes. Come on, Winchester. Do not puke. Do not puke. You don't want to watch your boyfriend scrubbing up your sick. Do not puke. Dean took a few more slow breaths and willed his stomach to calm the hell down.
"No, I can't tell him. I can't just spring that on Dean. Not like that. He deserves--" Castiel let out a long frustrated breath. "Dean just deserves so much better than that."
Dean still hadn't made it to the kitchen yet. At this rate, he never would. His nausea was returning with a vengeance. The more he listened to Cas's side of the conversation, the less his stomach seemed to agree that puking was a bad idea.
""Stop! It's not like that. I'm not a coward."
What was Cas talking about? What could he possibly be afraid to tell Dean? And who in the hell was he talking to in the wee small hours of the fucking morning?
"I do want to tell Dean how I really feel. I do hear you! I'm listening! What?"
This was a dream, right? Some kind of alcohol induced nightmare-slash-melodrama, right? It had to be. Dean's life wasn't like this. Cas wasn't like this. Okay, okay. Dean got a little pissy last night because his boyfriend didn't come to date night. And he over-reacted. Sure. But who deserves to wake up in an alternative reality where his boyfriend had some desparate secret he was too afraid to say? Not Dean. No way. He was awesome as fuck. Basically boyrfriend of the year. And Cas was definitely runner-up. The guy had even learned to bake pie for Dean using his own recipes so Dean could chill, stuff his face, and watch Netflix after a long hard day at school and the garage. And all this Cas did with an overload of 18 credit hours each semester and a full-time job. They did not need this drama. At all. Dean loved his soaps. And his telenovelas. But if they caused this kind of late-night hallucination he was definitely curbing his tv habits. Only Dr. Sexy marathons from here on out.
"I know I've put this off for long enough. You think anyone knows that more than I do?" Cas yelled.
Dean was panicking. He willed himself to take slow shallow breaths. He couldn't imagine having Cas catching him basically hyperventilating and snooping on a private phone call.
"It's not the right time. I--"
Even from this far from the kitchen, Dean could hear the tinny voice of a man yelling on the other line. A little buzz of anger. But he couldn't hear words. He couldn't recognize a voice. Who was Cas talking to?
"It's not an excuse. I want to tell him. He's just..." Cas sounded so frustrated. So tired. "Dean's vulnerable now. He doesn't deal well with vulnerability. When he's feeling better I'll--"
Fuck. Dean was never drinking again. If he was sober, his brain would probably be making a helluva lot more sense right now. Because, right now? This did sound like a soap opera or some sad Lifetime movie about a cheating spouse. Except Dean and Cas weren't married. Hell, Cas had never gotten around to proposing. So there was no way Cas was calming down his piece on the side, right? Cas wasn't the kind of man to cheat. And even if he was, when would he find the time . . . or the refractory period. They had sex like bunnies . . . right? Right.
Dean nodded his head, agreeing with himself. Cas loved Dean and Dean loved Cas. Their love was more epic than Jack and Rose, Han and Leia. They--
"Don't you dare! You are not going to call Dean and tell him. Don't threaten me. He's stressed from finals. He's probably going to be sick in the morning. He's sleeping! He has enough to deal with. He--"
Dean was definitely going to be sick.
"I'm not overreacting! You are threatening me, Sam!"
Wait . . . Cas was having an affair . . . with Sam? Ok, this shit was not computing. Dean needed to sober up. And he needed to talk to Cas.
Cas and Dean start being honest (and hugging it out)!!! finally
Dean takes a deep breath and turns the corner into the kitchen. "Hey, Cas."
Cas spins around, clearly shocked to see Dean. His eyes widen and flicker from Dean to the hall, again and again. Dean knows Cas is worried about how much he overheard, how long he's been listening. What Dean can't tell is if Cas is scared or embarrassed. He won't meet Dean's eyes and he's blushing. The lack of eye contact and the pink cheeks are pretty non-standard. Whatever is going on with Sam is clearly a big deal.
"Give me the phone, Cas." Dean says as calmly as he can. He still feels like he's gonna be sick all over the kitchen tiles, and he is not in the mood for diplomacy.
Dean holds out his hand, palm flat, and waits for Cas to hand over the phone. The tiny angry voice on the other end just keeps going. Sammy's still bitching at Cas, and Dean still can't tell what he's saying. Man, what a piece of crap 24-hours Dean's had. When Cas hesitates, Dean repeats, "Give it to me, Cas. Now. I feel like shit. Hand it over."
"Dean. No, Dean, I--"
Dean continues to hold out his hand. Cas's shoulders slump, but with a sigh, he drops the phone in Dean's hand.
Dean lifts the phone to his ear. "Sammy?"
"Dean?" Yeah, hey, Dean. You feeling better?"
"Go to bed, Sammy. We'll talk later. Don't call back."
"But Dean, you need to know--"
"Stay out of this Sammy. And go the fuck to sleep."
Dean hangs up and lays the phone on the kitchen counter. The silence is so thick in the kitchen, Dean hears Cas swallow.
"What's up, Cas?"
Cas shakes his head.
Dean raises an eyebrow. Does Cas really think that's gonna cut it?
Cas lowers his eyes, and plops down on one of the kitchen stools. He still doesn't speak.
Great, now they're playing a game of silent-chicken. Dean's just now sure how to win this game. He'd talk first, but only if he was sure it would help.
Cas loves him. Dean knows that. God, the last year . . . even his closest kin haven't done more for Dean. Here in Atlanta, Cas has been his rock. Mom and Sammy are miles away, and it's always Cas that comes when he calls. It's Cas that listens to Dean bitch about his professors or the homophobes at the garage. It's Cas who massages his freaking back when he's spent too long bent over the books or over an engine at his job, and it's Cas who takes care of him when he gets sick like he does every damn time the seasons change. It's Cas who helps him hug it out when he's stressed about failing a class or not having enough cash for bills. This year has been . . .
Even with al the ups and downs and the changes and the move and taking all these classes, shit, this year has been pretty perfect. Ok, not perfect, but as good as Dean can remember having since before his dad died. Except for one thing. This niggling in the back of his mind that Cas didn't want more, didn't want this forever, the way Dean did. Cas seemed to, but only at first. And then, maybe, even though Dean thinks things were great, Cas doesn't agree. Cuz, Dean coulndnt figure out what was holding Cas back from proposing. If he wanted to pop the question week one, what about week 40? It didn't bother Dean all the time. Hell, most days he forgot about the ring and the notecard with the drafted proposal. Most days.
But if Cas had confided in Sam, and was struggling with telling Dean something, Dean needed to help. Castiel was always so afraid of getting things wrong . . . and now they needed to talk about feelings and Dean was still sixty-percent alcohol and forty-percent man.
Dean takes a deep breath and sends a prayer that he can pry the truth from Cas, give him a hug, get some sleep (with cuddles) and do this all without puking his guts out.
"Dean, you hate these 'chick-flic moments' even when you're feeling up to them. You're sick. You--"
"Let's just . . . Look man, we gotta talk. Lay everything on the table." Dean shuffles forward until he's standing in front of Cas. "Look at me, babe."
When Cas's eyes slowly rise to meet his, Dean smiles as sweetly as he can. He hopes it doesn't come out as a grimace. He runs his hands along Cas's shoulders, and tries to rub some of the tension away. "I think we both have things we wanna say, things we've been worried about. Whatever."
Cas licks his lips, nervously, and Dean wants to kiss his worries away, but that's not gonna solve this problem. Not tonight. Instead he leans closer, and pulls Cas into a hug. "I promise, Cas. I won't walk away. I won't roll my eyes. Whatever you gotta say, I'll listen."
What were Castiel and Sam talking about? Where's the ring? Dean is determined to find out. As long as the answer doesn't break his heart (and he doesn't throw up), everything will be fine.
Dean pulled away to look at Cas's face when Cas's arms remained by his side. Cas was a hugger. Big Time. If he wasn't willing to get in on some hugging action, shit was bad. Dean held Castiel by the elbows but leaned far enough away that he could see Cas's face. His eyes were stretched wide. His chest rose and fell quickly. Cas was panicked and upset. His body was so tight it felt like Cas would take flight if he could. Whatever time it was, it was too damn early for this. Dean closed his eyes, took a deep breath and swallowed.
"What do you need to tell me, Cas?" Dean said softly, keeping all of his worry out of his words.
"I--" Cas muttered.
"You what?" Dean prompted. "Come on. You and I both know you aren't a coward. No matter what Sammy says. You can tell me."
"I--" Cas said again.
Dean waited, but Cas didn't try to say more. "Seriously, Cas, whatever you are talking about with Sammy at ass o'clock in the morning, you can tell me, too. You know that, right?"
"I--" Cas said, before giving up and shaking his head.
"Stop thinking so hard, Cas, and just spit it out."
"Look at me, Cas!" Dean wiped his palm across his mouth. "Damn it. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell." Dean ran his hands along Cas's arms, hoping to relax him enough to get him to talk. "I'm not angry. I'm--frustrated. Tired. I feel like I'm gonna puke. But I trust you, Cas. You gotta trust me, too."
Cas collapsed on the couch with a groan and put his hands in his head. His shoulders were slumped. He looked destroyed, empty.
"It's always like this. I--I never get things right. I never say the right thing or have the right timing. I didn't want it to happen like this."
"You're scaring me, Cas. You didn't want what to happen like this?"
"It's just like you said, I always come at everything sideways and backwards."
"What is it, man? You and Sam were bitching at each other like the world was ending. What's up?" Dean kneeled down, hoping to get Cas to look at him. "You're mom is ready to pull the world down around us? You got a scholarship offer at in another state you can't refuse? You met somebody else? You've got a fucking life-threatening disease? What?" Dean finished, pulling at his hair when Cas remained quiet.
Cas just kept shaking his head.
With a sigh, Dean sat next to Cas on the couch. He was afraid to touch him. Cas looked like a single touch would send him toppling over. "What, Cas? Just say it. I'm going a little crazy here. Give me a break." Dean lowered his voice and lowered his eyes. He'd been staring at Cas the entire time, but now Dean leaned forward on his knees and forced his eyes to the ground. Maybe what Cas needed to say, he couldn't look Dean in the eyes at the same time. "Really. Give me a break. I can't take it anymore," Dean whispered.
"What?!" Dean asked, jerking his head up to look at Cas. "Was that...?" Dean half laughed-half sighed. "Was that English?"
"I wanted to propose, Dean."
Cas finally met Dean's stare for a few brief seconds. His eyes flew back down, but Dean had seen that his eyes were tear-filled. Cas looked afraid, sad, desperate.
"You wanted? Past tense? Is that why Sam’s pissed. Cuz he can’t pressure you into it, Cas. I mean..."
Cas closed his eyes slowly, tears fell along his cheeks. He moved his head left and right. Dean wasn't ready to read that as a No.
"I've been wanting to propose to you for a while, since before we moved in, but every time I tried to say the words--even when I tried to practice saying them--imagining I was talking to you--the words wouldn't come out. My throat would clam up, my mouth would dry out. The words... they... they just wouldn't come, Dean."
"You were panicked, man. Maybe you weren't ready? That's not huge, Cas. It was--it is--early in our relationship. You don't have to--"
"No." Cas shook his head back and forth. "No." He said again, staring into Dean's eyes. "It's not too early, Dean. It wasn't too early. Not to me."
"Then what?" Dean coughed, trying to force the words out. "Then what stopped you?"
"I was afraid you would say no. Sam’s right, in part. In the past, I have been a coward about this."
"I might have said not yet, Cas, but not no. You gotta know that, right?"
"You might have called me insane. My mother certainly did."
"You told her?"
"I did. I also told her that when we married, I'd be taking your name... if you'd let me."
"You told your mom, but you didn't tell me?"
"I tried. I tried to tell you. To ask you. Every time a special day approached, I planned to ask you. When we went to nice restaurants, I carried the ring in my pocket. When Christmas arrived, on both of our birthdays, on Valentine’s day, I spent half the day sweating and stuttering, so sure that day was the day. When we celebrated our first study date or the first time we kissed I wanted to propose."
"But you never did, Cas. It's not a big deal." Dean said, trying to sound calm.
"Yes, it is a big deal. And you know it. I can hear it in your voice. I knew I needed to, as you say, 'shit or get off the pot'."
"Cas, babe, I would never say that about proposing. I'm a crude son of a bitch sometimes, but I've got limits."
"You might not say it, but you wouldn't hem and haw over a proposal like this, would you?"
Dean just shrugged. He'd like to think that if he had the balls to buy a ring, he'd be brave enough to ask the damn question. But he also knew that he had wanted to ask Cas about the ring for the past year and he hadn't said a thing. Some questions were too hard to ask. When everything you cared about was tied up in the answer...
"Sam said I should just ask. Whenever. On whatever day was special to us. But I couldn't do it. All those days, they seemed too small, too insignificant. For all you were to me, for how much I love you. Mary told me that I would know when the moment was right." Cas shrugged. "So I started carrying around my proposal draft a few weeks ago. Committing the words to memory. I was sure I knew them well enough not to stumble. I was determined to do this right. So I started carrying around the ring, too." His eyes were sad again, desparate. "But it never did feel like the right time. I wanted ... something big. I don't know. So I talked to Charlie."
"Shit. You asked Charlie for tips."
"Yes, I asked Gabe and Sam and even Mary, but Charlie's ideas were the only ones that seemed to be on an appropriate scale. She is also much more aware of what is popular with our age group. She helped me contact Becky. You remember, Becky, right, from the university promo video you shared with me three months ago?"
"You" Dean covered his mouth, trying to hide his smile and smother the laugh that threatened to come. "You planned on proposing to me with a flashmob?"
"And a pie with a ring baked inside." Cas finished.
"You came up with this by yourself?"
"Charlie and Gabe helped. Gabe helped me practice with the pie. I know you love cherry, and he helped me design the decorations for the top. It takes a lot of time to make a pastry Impala, Dean. And today was the Day of Pie, so... Sam was wrong about this. I had a plan. I wanted it—I felt it needed to be special. I wasn’t holding back because I was scared anymore."
Dean buried his face in his hands. Should he laugh or cry? He'd been miserable this year--not all the time, shit, not even 75% of the time. He was happy, but those days when he couldn't help wondering about Cas's feelings . . . Cas was freaking about how to propose, not if he should? This tall, gorgeous, blue-eyed, trench-coat wearing dork, was stressing about how to arrange pie decorations and flash mobs. Jesus. They were idiots. Idjits, as Mr. Singer would call them. And Singer wouldn't be wrong. Cas and Dean were dumber than any literary couple in the history of dumbasses that met, fell in love, and fucked shit up almost beyond all recognition. Dean and Cas weren't so much a modern version of Pride and Prejudice as they were Stubborn and Stupid.
"But this day was a disaster and the plans went up in literal smoke. Becky called me. She'd suffered a serious sprain, and while I was trying to call and reorganize the proposal and find out if it could be managed without her, the damn pie burned... And you were texting me, asking me where I was, and then--"
"Not only was the proposal shot to hell, our anniversary was DOA, too," Dean finished.
"Yes. How could I ask you to be me husband on the same day I ruined our anniversary?"
"Are you asking me to propose to you? You want me to do the asking?"
Cas shook his head. "I don't want to do things sideways and backwards anymore, Dean. I really don't. And all my plans." Cas sighed. "They deserved to go up in smoke. They were sideways and backwards. That's all they were. They weren't honest. They weren't us."
"The Pie was pretty us."
"Not with a ring baked in it. You would have hated that. Wouldn't you?"
Half of Dean's mouth lifted in a smile even thought he tried to tame it. "Yeah, Cas."
"It's a waste of pie," they both said in unison.
They laughed together, but Cas's laugh was wet with sounds that suggested tears might follow soon.
"Sam was right. I am a coward."
"No, you're not, Cas. You're--"
"I am, Dean. I made a mess of everything because I was afraid. You always say, if I want honesty from you, I have to start with my own, but I just... I couldn't. And that's what we were fighting about. He wanted me to tell you what I was doing tonight. You were so upset that I wasn't here. And I just needed time to plan another proposal. Or I thought I did." Cas pulled at his hair. "But that's just me being afraid again."
"You're not scared of much, Cas. You're bull headed and you plow through anyone and anything that thinks to stand in your way. Your mom. Those dick-less assholes at Stanford. Your chem professor who scored your test wrong. In the fall, remember? I thought he was gonna cry when you threaten to call the dean. And man, remember that jerk at my garage? The one who thought it would be fun to squeeze my ass? That guy was twice your weight, and I thought he would shit himself when you got in his face." Dean nudged Cas's shoulder with his own. "You're not a coward, Cas. You basically decide what you want or what's right and then tell the rest of the world to get in line. You're not scared of anything man. "
"That's not bravery. Why would I be scared of them, Dean? Those people don't matter."
Dean raised an eyebrow.
"What?" Cas asked.
"You saying you were scared to pop the question cuz I mattered? You're not saying I'm the only person that matters are you?"
"I might be saying it." Cas asked, his voice high and unsure.
"You sound nervous. Are you're worried cuz I'm not the only one that matters and you think that'll make me upset? Or, are you saying I am the only one that matters and you don't want me to think you're nuts."
"Let's go with b."
Dean laughed. This time a real laugh. A light one. God it felt good. He was finally not feeling like puking was imminent.
"What time is it, Cas.
"It's 4 a.m., Dean. I'm sorry."
"Is it still the Day of the Pie?"
"It's after midnight, but the sun hasn't risen on the new day. I guess we could play it either way. What day do you want it to be, Dean?"
"I want Day of Pie cuddles, man. I'm tired. We been through the ringer. Let't just get our cuddle on and put this day behind us. Maybe the Day of Pie will be the anniversary and yearly tribute to us getting our heads out of our asses."
"But, Dean. we haven't had pie today."
"I've got some store bought. We could have a piece before cuddles and still beat the sun. Whaddya say?"
"We are not eating something made at a store on this day, Dean."
"Ok, Cas. What do you got in mind. Wanna spend two hours making another pastry impala?"
"No, let's go make a pie. You do the pastry. I'll make the filling. If we hurry we can beat the sun."
Pie-posal revamped. Will Cas finally ask Dean to marry him?
"All right, babe. Filling's done. Let's get it cool." Dean says.
"Kay," Cas answers, putting down his wooden spoon. He moves behind Dean and rests a hand low on Dean's back as he reaches in the cupboard to grab a large bowl.
"Ice bath. I need to cool this fast if we still want to beat the sun."
Dean smiles. "All right. Well, once you get that chilling, go get yourself ready. Your work clothes aren't good enough for the cuddle fest that's about to go down."
"Dean, you don't think I've noticed you've got on my pajamas." Cas kisses his cheek. "Again."
"I washed a load of your stuff this afternoon. Put 'em in your dresser. You got plenty of choices."
"Kay," Cas says again, with another kiss to Dean's cheek. "Be right back, hon."
Dean rolls his eyes, but he can't hold back a grin. He loves when they get all domestic.
All the ingredients for pie are out. Flour. Fruit. Sugar. Chocolate. Nuts. The kitchen is kind of a disaster. Cas has finished the filling and has left it to cool, but only after pulling our enough ingredients to make five different kinds of pie. Cas narrowed it down. To cherry. Always trying to put first what Dean's loves best. Dean sighs and shakes his head with a chuckle.
This kitchen is as messy as their night's been, but in spite of the mess--or maybe because of it--things are good. Things are great. Dean knows Cas loves him and still wants to marry him. Probably. Cas knows Dean loves him, too. And, as usual, they're bonding over pie. There's a list of things that Dean's grateful for. Top of the list is that Cas and Dean see eye to eye on the fact that, even though they're young, they've met the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Shit. They might have years of school and job interviews and piles of crap like that ahead of them, but they'll do it together. They've basically got the game of life beat hands down.
Dean pulls the pie tin over to him and starts laying the pastry out. He heads to the oven and hesitates to press the button to start preheating because his hands are a mess, covered in pastry. He shrugs. The oven'll just be another thing to clean up.
"Dean," Cas says, coming up behind him and grabbing Dean's hand.
"Yeah?" Dean asks, turning around.
When fear and determination roll across Cas's face, Dean manages to stop himself from saying, "You ok? What's up?" He hopes Cas manages to say whatever he needs.
Cas lifts up Dean's hand. He holds it up, stares at it. Then Cas slides a ring on Dean's finger. The ring Dean's been thinking about the past year is now just there. On his pastry covered hand.
"Are you asking me to marry you?" Dean whispers, too surprised, too emotional to do more than squeak his way through the words.
"No," Cas says shaking his head and keeping his eyes on Dean "I'm telling you."
Fuck. Dean's mouth dries up. He knows this Cas. This is the Cas that soldiers into battle, knowing what he wants and telling the rest of the world to get in line. This is happening. It's finally happening.
Cas takes both of Dean's pastry covered hands in his. "Dean, we're going to get married. Next year. On the day of the pie. We'll keep it small. Probably set up some chairs and a bar-b-que in your mom's backyard. We won't want to invite a lot of people. We'll have pie instead of cake. After the wedding, when we cut into the pies, I'll feed you a piece first. You'll pretend to fork up a bite for me and, then, at the last minute, eat it yourself. Everyone will laugh, but I'll be too busy kissing the taste of cherry pie from your lips."
Dean just nods his head. He could tell Cas no. Cas would let him say not right now if he wanted to. But he doesn't. Dean really doesn't want to. So he just keeps nodding. Cas seems to understand.
"After the wedding. We'll honeymoon that summer back home. You'll want to be near your mom and your brother. You'll laugh every time they catch us semi-naked or making out like newlyweds. In the fall, we'll come back here and finish up our undergrad degrees. After a few years, I'll start my residency. You'll get your first job at a firm near here. We'll have more money, but we still won't move. Because we'll be happy here."
Dean continues to nod and lick his lips. He wants to say something, anything, but he's not sure what. What do you say to someone who knows what you want, what you need like this?
"We'll be happy to stay here because we're saving money for our own home. And because you won't want to put down roots until you know where Sammy will end up."
Dean continues to nod, and the look of fear leaves Cas's face. He smiles. That gummy smile that Dean sees rarely enough that he commits it to memory every time. Cas's whole face is lit up with pure joy. His eyes crinkle at the edges and he looks like he's been told he won a million dollars. But all that's happened is that Dean hasn't said no. But who would say no to having all their dreams come true?
"When Sam finds a place he's happy, we'll move nearby. You'll start your own business. I'll start a new residency. You'll make me bagged lunches. And I'll cook dinners and breakfast for both of us whenever I have a chance. And you'll always bitch about the amount of vegetables."
"And will we have kids?"
Cas nods. "When I start getting more time at home and your company is doing well, you'll say something like, 'It's your choice, Cas, a kid or a dog, but we gotta get some more noise in here. Stuff's getting dull.' You still won't be great at being sentimental, but don't worry. I'm an expert in the language of Dean."
"Yeah? And how does that translate?" Dean says around the lump in his throat.
"It means that you're happy, and you'll think we're ready to start a family of our own. And that you're pretty sure we will be great dad's. You'll be right, Dean. We'll have enough love to share it with another."
"And what if we hit some bumps in the road? Life doesn't always go to plan."
"Then we'll make it up as we go along, Dean. But we'll do it together.
"All right. Let's get married then. Not sure when I can get you a ring."
"Your mom has that covered. If you want... If you don't mind..." Cas says, nervously pulling another ring out of the pockets of his pajama pants.
It's his dad's ring. John Winchester's ring.
Dean nods his head again, because he can't speak. Not when he's so happy and so full that he's not sure whether opening his mouth will end in laughter or tears.
Dean takes the ring and slides it on Cas's hand.
"So we're engaged, Dean?" Cas asks.
"Hell yeah we are," Dean manages to whisper.
The stove beeps.
"Everything perfect right now, Dean."
"I could do with less flour and shit on my hands."
"I could also do with some pie," Dean says.
"And some cuddles." Cas adds with a grin, still knowing what Dean wants. "And the great thing, Dean, is we can have all of that. Right now. Come on," Cas finishes, pulling Dean over to the sink. He tests the water with his hands until it's right and then stuck Dean's hand under the water. Next, Cas walks over and pours the filling into the pie pan. "We won't blind bake first. Fear of a soggy bottom isn't going to hold us back." Cas says with a wink. Cas slides the pie into the oven and sets the timer.
"All right. Couch cuddles now. Then pie. Then bed cuddles. And maybe bed sex if you're willing." Cas says pulling Dean into the living room.
Dean still can't think of what to say. What do you say when you're getting everything you've ever wanted? What do you say when you're basically a few birds and squirrels away from being a Disney princess?
Dean and Cas are on the couch, legs slotted together. Dean's head resting under Cas's chin. Their clasped hands resting on Castiel's chest. His body seems calm, but his heart is still being pretty fast. Not racing, but not chill either.
"Happy Day of the Pie, Cas."
"I love you, too, Dean Winchester."
Dean laughs. "An expert in the langue of Dean, huh?
"I knew we'd make a damn good Winchester out of you."