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“Here it is,” Castiel stated. “Room 313.” He turned back to see his parents, Chuck and Naomi Novak, smile at him encouragingly. He turned back and put the key into the door. He heard it unlock before pulling it out and turning the handle. He opened the door to see a half-decorated room. He glanced at what must be the belongings of his new roommate.

“Guess I’m not the first one here,” Castiel said, going over to the bare side of the room.

“That was rude of him, don’t you think? Why wouldn’t he just wait for you to get here so you could decide which side was whose?” Naomi murmured, eyeing the Led Zeppelin poster that decorated the wall.

“It’s fine, mother,” Castiel said. “I’m not picky.”

Naomi made Castiel’s bed while Chuck and Castiel began filling the small bookshelf that Castiel had brought with his collection of both personal and school books. A knock on the door startled them all out of their tasks. Castiel looked up and he saw a sandy-haired, green-eyed boy staring at him. Castiel felt his mouth dry up when he smiled at him.

“Hey, you must be my new roommate. I’m Dean Winchester,” the boy said, offering a hand to Castiel.

“I’m Castiel Novak. Nice to meet you,” he said, taking Dean’s hand in his own. They shook hands for a moment before pulling away, but they kept their eyes on one another. Castiel was shaken from his observation of his new roommate by Naomi clearing her throat.

“Oh, these are my parents, Naomi and Chuck,” Castiel gestured to them.

“Nice to meet you folks,” Dean said, giving them a slight wave. Chuck smiled at the young man while Naomi took a seat on Castiel’s bed, wearing a curious, mildly annoyed expression.

“Hello, Dean. Are your parents around? We’d love to meet them before we leave,” Chuck said. Naomi sent him a look that clearly told everyone in the room that no, they most certainly would not .

“Nah, my old man is over in Syria right now, and my mom’s a nurse who typically works the graveyard shift. My little brother and uncle helped me this morning,” Dean explained, sticking his hands in his pockets as he subtly rocked side to side.

“That’s unfortunate about your father,” Naomi commented, crossing her arms.  

“Well, he’s been a marine for my entire life, so I’m used to it by now,” Dean said.

“He never wanted to get out?” Castiel asked. Dean shrugged.

“Semper Fi, I guess,” he said softly, before clapping his hands. “I hope y’all don’t mind, but I actually promised my buddy Charlie to a few rounds of Super Smash Bros. once I got back from dropping my little brother off, so I’m gonna just head out.”

“It was nice to meet you, Dean,” Chuck said.

“Nice meeting you both. Castiel, can’t wait to get to know you,” Dean said, giving the youngest Novak a smile before he slipped out the door. Castiel smiled softly before turning to his parents to see them both eyeing him.

“What?” he asked.

“Maybe we should have encouraged a private, Christian college,” Naomi said softly.

“What?! Why?” Castiel demanded.

“Well after what happened with that boy last summer…” Naomi trailed off, glancing toward the door Dean had just walked out of, before looking back at Castiel. “Maybe it would be better if there weren’t so many distractions, Castiel. So many,” she paused, “ temptations .”

“Naomi,” Chuck chastised his wife gently.

“Charles, you know that I want what is best for our son,” Naomi protested.

“What happened with Inias meant nothing . It was wrong. I know that now,” Castiel said.

“I just don’t want you to stray from the path to Heaven, Castiel. I want you there in Heaven with me when you’ve died. I’d hate living in Paradise knowing that my son wasn’t there with me,” Naomi said. Castiel looked down at the ground.

“I promise that nothing like that will happen here,” Castiel said firmly.

“Good,” Naomi said coolly before she opened her arms for a hug. Castiel stepped into his mother’s embrace for a moment, then she grabbed his shoulders and gave him a small shake.

“Stay out of trouble, Castiel,” she said, turning around and walking out the door.

“Why can’t she say goodbye like a normal human being?” Castiel murmured.

“Have you met your mother? She’s not a normal human being,” Chuck said, humor dancing in his eyes.

“I don’t know how you’ve lived with her for as long as you have,” Castiel said. Chuck stepped forward and pulled Castiel into a warm embrace.

“Have fun, Castiel. And if you make some mistakes along the way, who cares? We’ll still love you,” Chuck said softly into his son’s ear. Castiel snorted at that, pulling away from his father.

“Right, unless I happen to make a mistake with a guy,” Castiel pointed out. Chuck frowned at that.

“Even then, I will still love you,” Chuck said.

“Charles, we have to go now, or we’ll be late to dinner with the Andersons,” Naomi said, poking her head into the dorm room.

“Alright,” Chuck sighed. Castiel waved a final goodbye to his parents before shutting the door. He slowly turned around and made his way over to his bookshelf. He looked at his entire collection, frowning. Nothing really seemed to capture his interest. He glanced around the room and noticed one book sitting on the nightstand beside Dean’s bed.

Castiel walked over and carefully picked up the book. It was old and worn, and he could tell that its pages had been dogeared many times. He turned it over in his hands, wondering what about this book had caused it to become such an obvious favorite.

Slaughterhouse-Five ,” Castiel murmured to himself, before walking back over to his side of the room.

Taking a seat in the center of his bed, he flipped to the first page of the book.

All this happened, more or less.”

~*~*~

A bang from the hallway startled Castiel out of the book. He watched as Dean opened the door and slipped in the room, rubbing his forehead slightly.

“Sorry, I forgot that the door wasn’t unlocked,” Dean said sheepishly.

“It’s fine,” Castiel said. Dean glanced down at the book that Castiel had in his hands, only to glance over at his own nightstand. When he turned back to Castiel, he had a small smirk on his face.

“So you like Vonnegut?” he asked. Castiel shrugged.

“I’ve never heard of him before today, but I’m enjoying this story so far,” he said honestly.

“You’ve never heard of Vonnegut before?” Dean asked, clearly surprised at this.

“My parents were… particular about what I was allowed to read or watch, or even listen to,” Castiel admitted.

“Well damn. And here I thought everyone had at least read something by Vonnegut. Guess you learn something every day,” Dean said, turning towards his side of the room. He pulled his shirt off before walking over to his small closet. Castiel’s jaw dropped slightly as his eye roamed the expanse of skin his new roommate was showing off. Dean turned around and caught Castiel’s wandering eyes.

“See something you like?” he asked. Castiel’s blue eyes darted back up to see Dean’s green eyes gleaming with mischievous playfulness. Castiel cleared his throat and turned his focus back to the book in his hands.

“I’m straight,” he said, gripping the book tightly. He could feel his face turning a shade of red.

“Yeah, as straight as al dente noodles,” Dean murmured to himself as he turned back towards the closet, but Castiel heard him nevertheless.

“Just because you want to be gay and live in sin doesn’t mean that I want the same for myself,” Castiel said, physically turning his nose up. Dean turned back towards Castiel, giving him a hard look.

“First of all, I’m bi. And I’m damn proud of it. Second of all, I’m not living in sin. Okay, if God or whoever was actually against me being into dudes, he wouldn’t make it possible to feel that way. God made me exactly how he wanted me. I’m no mistake,” Dean said, with a fierce tone. But something in his voice made Castiel wonder how many times he’d given the same speech to others throughout his life. Castiel had the decency to look down.

“I didn’t mean to offend you,” Castiel said softly. Dean gave a small scoff before turning back to the closet and pulling out a forest green henley.

“Look, man. If you’ve got that much of a problem with it, maybe you should go to the admissions office and see if they can’t find you another room,” he suggested with ice in his tone. Castiel shook his head, still staring down at the pages of the borrowed book.

“No. I knew coming into this that there would be things that would clash with how I was raised. I’m not going to let it affect my time here,” Castiel said firmly. Dean nodded and looked around before sighing.

“Look, we’re stuck together for the next nine months. May as well try to be friends, right?” Dean asked.

Castiel found himself wanting to be friends with this stranger. But his mother was right. There were going to be a lot of temptations, and he already knew that his biggest temptation would be his sandy-haired roommate.

“Why don’t you come out tonight. There’s a party at my buddy Benny’s frat house. Bunch of people are gonna be there. You should come. Get drunk, meet people, maybe make some friends,” Dean said. Castiel grimaced at the thought of being drunk with Dean around. He could feel the small flame that had begun burning for his new roommate the second Dean had introduced himself and Castiel knew he needed to nip in the bud.

“Maybe next time. I think for now I’d like to continue reading about Billy Pilgrim,” he said softly. Dean nodded and moved to grab his keys.

“Alright, don’t wait up. Have a good night,” he said, before slipping out of the room.

Castiel let out a huge sigh of relief before falling back against his pillows. He bit his lip in frustration. He’d been way too obvious with Dean—which meant he wasn’t trying hard enough. Castiel closed his eyes and his memory immediately replayed how Dean’s muscles had moved beneath his skin as he moved. Castiel could feel a warm feeling stir in his belly before his mother’s shrill voice filled his head.

I’d hate living in Paradise knowing that my son wasn’t there with me .”

Castiel huffed in frustration before opening the book back up and picking up where he’d left off before he’d been interrupted.

~*~*~

Poo-tee-weet?

And with that, Castiel closed the book of Dean’s beloved copy of Slaughterhouse Five. He glanced around the room for a moment before rubbing his tired eyes. He stood up and slipped out of his jeans, kicking them off to the end of his bed, before wandering over to his closet. He pulled out a pair of flannel pj bottoms and an old t-shirt he’d found at Goodwill. Normally, he’d sleep without a shirt but, with a roommate, he felt it was just the polite thing to do.

He left his shirt on the floor beside his already discarded jeans, before dressing in his sleep clothes and crawling into bed. He turned off the light and laid his head on his pillow, expecting sleep to steal him away quite quickly.

Unfortunately, half an hour passed before Castiel could even think about falling asleep. He turned over and was trying to readjust when he suddenly heard quiet murmurs and giggles coming from the other side of the door.

“Nah, my roommate, Cas. He’s probably sleeping. We can’t go in there,” a voice said. Castiel quickly realized that it was Dean on the other side of the door. The hushed conversation continued for a few minutes before a thud was heard. Castiel closed his eyes for a moment. Another thud echoed through the wall.

Throwing off the blankets that covered him, Castiel stood up and made his way to the door. He opened it up and poked his head out to ask Dean and whoever to please keep it down, only for the words to die on his tongue.

He watched as some man with dark hair held Dean’s arms above his head and attacked his neck with his own lips. Dean whimpered slightly, causing Castiel’s heart to quicken slightly. He felt his stomach sink a little as something green and ugly reared up in Castiel’s chest. He watched as the stranger moved to the other side of Dean’s neck and Dean let out another desperate whimper, before he opened his eyes and locked right onto Castiel’s.

“Cas,” Dean said batting the stranger away for a moment before straightening up and clearing his throat.

“S-Sorry. I just… I just woke up and needed to… to go to the bathroom?” Castiel said, as more of a question. He hoped Dean wouldn’t see through it. And if he did, he prayed he wouldn’t comment on it.

“Oh, right. Well, Nick, I should probably go in and go to bed. Thanks for a great night,” Dean said, pulling away from Nick.

“Yeah, we should do it again sometime,” Nick said, before turning around and walking away. Dean turned back to Castiel.

“I’m sorry about that,” Dean said. Castiel shook his head.

“It’s fine, Dean,” he said honestly. They stood, watching one another for a few moments before Dean cleared his throat.

“So… bathroom?” Dean asked, stepping out and gesturing down the hall for Castiel.

“Right. Thank you,” Castiel said, slipping out of the dorm room and down the hall to the bathroom.

Chapter Text

The first week of classes was a hazy blur of syllabi and faceless students, all packed into rooms the size of small conference halls. The only class Castiel found himself enjoying was the Psychology class he’d been enrolled in. It was also one of the two classes that he’d found himself in with none other than Dean Winchester.

Castiel had arrived a few minutes before class was supposed to begin and had taken a seat in the dead center of the sea of chairs. He’d been mindlessly reading the first few pages of the introductory chapter of his textbook when someone had wandered close enough to block the light from the pages. Castiel had glanced up and seen Dean grinning down at him.

In the few days since moving into the dorms, Castiel had seen little of Dean. The boy had made a few comments in passing that he was spending time with his friend Charlie. Castiel tried very hard to ignore the bubble of frustration that always formed in his chest when he heard that.

“Heya Castiel, mind if I sit next to you?” Dean asked confidently. Castiel thought he caught a glimpse of nervousness in his gaze, but by the time he blinked, it was gone.

“Sure,” Castiel said, lifting his bag off the chair beside him and onto the floor beside his feet. “Go for it.”

“Thanks, man. It doesn’t seem to matter if you’re a freshman in high school or a freshman in college. Sitting next to someone you know in class usually makes the class better.”

Castiel was finding this to be true. At least, in their shared Psychology class. He had someone to chat with before and after class, someone who was willing to share their notes lest he miss something, and just someone to keep him company when Professor Dauk droned on about nothing, which they were learning was a common theme in the class.

Their other shared class, College Writing, was definitely less enjoyable. Maybe it was the fact that Castiel often sat beside an unfamiliar redhead with soft blue eyes and didn’t speak much. Castiel had learned, from a brief conversation on their second day of class, that her name was Anna and that she was studying to be a journalist. She was only taking this course because it was required, and even Castiel had to agree she was on another level completely.

Despite Anna’s polite company, Castiel often found his eyes straying down to the front couple of rows where he knew Dean always sat with another redhead. He often saw Dean chatting animatedly or whispering conspiratorially with her. He wondered for a moment if they were dating, but immediately pushed the thought from his head and once again ignored the bubble of frustration.

The first week had been challenging, and Castiel was looking forward to his open Saturday where he could sleep, undisturbed, until noon.

Except that at 8am, a loud crash woke him from his peaceful dream. He shot upright, grabbing at the blankets for a weapon to throw at the source of the noise. Through bleary eyes, he made out Dean’s figure standing in the center of the room. He relaxed for a moment and blinked a few times before realizing that whatever the loud crash was, it had been caused by the now sheepish looking boy in the middle of the room.

“Sorry, Cas. Didn’t mean to wake you,” Dean said softly, as if that would somehow rectify the fact that Castiel had been scared awake.

“I’d say it’s fine, but I’d be lying,” Castiel grumbled, turning his confused gaze into a glare. Dean chuckled lightly before bending down to pick up whatever it was that he’d dropped. Castiel looked and saw a lot of glass on the floor, as well as a handle that was now connected to nothing.

“Damn,” Dean murmured to himself.

“You were making coffee?” Castiel found himself asking. Dean nodded.

“Kinda. More like trying, and failing, to make coffee. I knew the handle was coming loose but I didn’t expect it to just fall off like that,” he said. Castiel nodded sagely, as he watched Dean grab the broken pieces and walk them over to the garbage.

“Wait, don’t put them in there,” Castiel said, pushing the covers away from himself. He stood up and walked over to the closet and pulled out an empty paper grocery bag. He opened it and gestured for Dean to placed the broken glass in there. “This way, none of the glass pierces the bag when we take it out. Don’t feel like accidentally getting cut,” he explained. Dean nodded, before dumping the glass into the bag.

“Guess this means I’m going to have to go buy some coffee,” Dean said, scowling.

“Guess so. You should pick me up some since you rudely woke me before noon,” Castiel said, giving Dean a small grin to let him know that he was just joking.

“I could. Or you could just put on some shoes and come with me since you’re already awake,” Dean suggested. Castiel frowned at the idea.

“I already said that I’m not-”

“As friends, Cas. I mean, we’re gonna be roommates for the foreseeable future. May as well get to know each other, try to be friends?” Dean suggested. Castiel thought for a moment before sighing and walking over to his shoes.

“You’re paying,” Castiel said.

“Yes dear,” Dean said, rolling his eyes.

~*~*~

Once they reached the cafe, they went in and gave their order to a short, hot-pink-haired barista who had a bunch of jewelry adorning her face and tattoos covering her arms. Castiel was caught off guard by her bubbly personality. She smiled and joked with them while she took their order, and while she made their drinks. When she was finished, she wished them both a great day, and disappeared to the back room. Dean and Castiel made their way to a small table, where they sat down and let an awkward silence envelop them.

“So…” Dean said. Castiel nodded and they both took a sip of their coffees.

“If I knew it was going to be this weird, I would have just gone back to bed,” Castiel said honestly. Dean put a hand over his heart.

“I’m wounded. You’re not enjoying my company?” he asked dramatically.

“It’s more the conversation. Or lack of one, rather,” Castiel stated.

“Well you’re more than welcome to start talking,” Dean said.

“This coffee is terrible,” Castiel murmured, looking down at his bitter coffee.

“Are you some kind of coffee connoisseur?” Dean asked with a raised eyebrow.

“No, I just know the difference between coffee and dirt water. This is trash,” Castiel stated quietly, as if to not let the pink-haired barista hear him.

“Too strong?” Dean asked.

“Too bitter,” Castiel said, taking another sip while grimacing. “I like my coffee so sweet that it makes unicorns weep tears of jealousy.” Dean grinned and watched Castiel force down another sip before holding an open hand to him.

“Give it here,” he demanded.

“What?” Castiel asked.

“Just trust me,” Dean said. Castiel slid the cup of coffee over to Dean, who picked it up and stood up.

Castiel watched as he approached the counter with a charming smile on his face. He couldn’t hear what he was saying to the pink-haired barista, but when Dean had turned and pointed to Castiel for a moment, before gesturing to the coffee. The barista looked between him and Dean for a moment before smiling and nodding. Dean grinned and thanked her, before pushing a couple dollar bills into the tip jar on the counter. A few minutes later, he returned to the table with a new cup of coffee.

“I should’ve asked this first, but you have no allergies, right?” Dean asked. Castiel shook his head.

“None that I’m aware of,” he said.

“Great. Lexa up there said that you might like this,” Dean said. Castiel took the cup suspiciously before taking a sip. His mouth was filled with a chocolatey caramel flavored coffee. He hummed appreciatively at this cup.

“Better?” Dean asked. Castiel closed his eyes and smiled contently.

“This makes me very happy,” he said softly. Dean snickered for a moment before taking another sip of his own coffee.

“Glad you like it,” Dean said.

“I’ll have to ask her what it is before I leave,” Castiel said softly, opening his eyes back up.

“Alright. You like sugar loaded coffee. You are taking Psychology and College Writing. You’re straight as a pole. Anything else I should know about you?” Dean asked. Castiel’s smile slipped into a slight frown before looking down.

“Can I tell you something if you promise not to tell another soul?” he asked softly.

“Is this where you tell me that you’ve murdered twelve people, and I’m about to become unlucky number thirteen?” Dean asked playfully.

“No. You’d only be number six. Get it right, Dean,” Castiel deadpanned before grinning.

“My bad. I didn’t realize murderers were so specific,” Dean said. They both chuckled for a moment before Dean asked, “No, but really, what were you going to say?” Castiel let his smile melt into something a bit more somber before he looked up at Dean.

“I’m not straight. Like… at all,” he said softly. Dean furrowed his eyebrows.

“So what was with the whole ‘I’m straight, blah blah blah’ thing?” he asked.

“I don’t want to be gay, Dean. It’s a sin. Whether you agree or not, I was raised to believe it is a sin,” Castiel said firmly.

“And you’ve never questioned some of those teachings? Never stopped to think that maybe that’s not the right way, or the only way? You’re just some hammer and can’t think for yourself?” Dean asked, his voice getting more and more passionate.

“Look, I’m not… I’m not a hammer. Of course I have doubts. But I can’t… I can’t do that to my mother,” Castiel said, looking down at the table.

“She’s your mom . You don’t think she’ll accept you, regardless?” Dean asked.

“She didn’t accept my brother, Gabriel. He was her first born. The light of her life. And when he came home with his first boyfriend when he was sixteen, my mother immediately sent him to the pastor of our church for therapy.

“While my father was away for business, she beat the shit out of him, because she found a dildo in his room. And when he was seventeen, and he picked me up from school with his boyfriend in the car, she disowned him. Told him that he was going to influence me into being gay, too. She didn’t know that I’d already kissed my best friend, Balth, and that I knew I liked boys,” Castiel said. Dean looked down at the table for a moment before looking back at Castiel.

“That’s rough, Cas,” he said sympathetically.

“I don’t want to lose my family,” Castiel said softly. Dean nodded.

“I get it. I don’t know what I would’ve done if my family hadn’t accepted me. My dad had a hard time when I first told him and my mom that I liked girls and guys. He thought that maybe it meant that it was just a phase. That maybe I’d grow out of it, and end up with a girl. But he’s reached a point where he just wants me to be happy,” Dean said. Castiel smiled.

“You’re very lucky,” he said. Dean shook his head.

“I shouldn’t be lucky, though. That should just be how it is. Parents should just love you, regardless of who you love,” Dean said matter-of-factly.

“They should, but they don’t always,” Castiel said softly. Dean nodded and took another sip of his coffee.

“You should meet my friend, Charlie,” Dean said a moment later, looking up with sparkling eyes. Castiel felt that small bubble of frustration.

“I don’t know,” Castiel said hesitantly.

“Come on. You’d love her. She’s weird and nerdy. Plus, she’s in our College Writing class. May as well get to know someone else in the class,” Dean said. The redhead without a face that Castiel always saw Dean with was the infamous Charlie?

“Is she your girlfriend?” Castiel asked, and was startled when Dean threw his head back and let out a hearty laugh.

Charlie ?! Oh god, no!” Dean exclaimed. He laughed for another moment before straightening up. Castiel felt his heart stutter at the sound of Dean’s laugh, and he found himself wanting to make Dean laugh like that every single day for the rest of their lives. “First of all, she would eat me alive. Second, she definitely swings the other way,” Dean said, grinning.

“Oh,” Castiel said, feeling a blush creep up his neck. Dean let his grin melt into a cocky smirk that Cas was growing quite fond of.

“So, now that you know that, would you like to meet her?” Dean asked again. Castiel smiled and nodded.

“Great. We were supposed to hang out in her dorm this afternoon, but I’ll ask her if she wants to come to ours. We can hook her Switch up to my tv and play some games. Any preferences?” Dean asked as he finished his coffee.

“I don’t really play video games,” Castiel confessed. Dean looked at him in horror.

“Alright, well we’re fixing that today. Mario Kart it is,” he declared, as he stood up. Castiel stood up after him. Dean walked over to the door, tossing his coffee cup into the trash. Cas went to the barista to ask what the name of the drink was, a Turtle Mocha, and thank her, before following Dean out the door back to their dorm.

Chapter Text

A knock on the door caught Dean and Castiel’s attention. It had been about three hours since their impromptu coffee adventure. In his head, Castiel kept referring to it as an adventure and not a date because he wasn’t like that. Once they’d returned, Castiel offered to go in with Dean for a new coffee pot because, despite how good the Turtle Mocha was, it was far too expensive for two broke college kids to start getting coffee from a shop every day. Dean had agreed and they’d extended their coffee adventure into an adventure to Walmart.

It had been a nice adventure.

But definitely not a date.

Castiel wasn’t like that.

“That’s probably Charlie,” Dean said, standing up from his bed. He made his way over to the door and opened it. Castiel stood up from his bed and watched as Charlie entered the room. He heard her tell Dean that he was a “punk bitch” for changing the location at the last minute while giving him a hug. She turned to Castiel and gave him a warm smile before pulling him into a hug too.

“Sorry about Charlie. She’s a hugger,” Dean said at Castiel’s startled expression.

“You must be the famous Castiel,” Charlie said, pulling away.

“It’s just Castiel,” he said warmly. Charlie scoffed.

“I don’t know. The way Dean goes on about you, you’d think that you were famous,” Charlie said. Castiel sent a surprised look to Dean who had a slight blush on his face.

“Anyways! Charlie, Cas here really doesn’t have any idea about video games,” Dean said, causing Charlie to shoot Castiel a horrified expression that mirrored Dean’s earlier one.

“Dude, how have you even survived this long? We must fix this problem,” Charlie said dramatically.

“Alright your highness, gimme the Switch. I’ll hook it up, and you can help Cas decide on a game,” Dean said. Charlie grinned and handed the console over to Dean before turning to Castiel.

“I think the easiest thing for you would be something Mario related. It’s a classic, and most small children can handle those games,” Charlie explained. Castiel nodded at this information. “Dean and I are both experts, but we’ll go easy on you,” she said with a wink. Castiel found himself smiling at her playfulness.

“Also, I told Benny about us playing games, so he might swing by before the party tonight,” Charlie added, looking at Dean.

“Alright, sounds good. Are you going to this one?” Dean asked. Charlie nodded.

“Hell yeah. I heard that chick, Rowena, from chem is supposed to be there,” Charlie said with a wicked smile. “What about you?” she asked.

“I wasn’t really planning on it, but Benny probably wants someone there for some moral support,” Dean said. He turned to Castiel. “My buddy, Benny, is a pledge for the Beta Kappa Epsilon, and this is the party that’s supposed to introduce the pledges or something like that,” Dean explained. Castiel nodded.

“You should totally come with us!” Charlie exclaimed, grabbing onto Castiel’s arm.

“Nah, Cas isn’t really a partier,” Dean said, turning back to the wires of the Switch. Castiel shot Dean a slightly defiant glare, despite the fact that Dean couldn’t see him, before looking back to Charlie.

“I’d love to come,” he said, causing Dean to turn his head around in surprise. Charlie grinned before punching Castiel gently on the arm.

“Did we just become best friends?” she asked. Castiel just grinned at her. She grabbed his arm and pulled him down to the floor in between the beds. Dean turned the Switch on, and handed out the controllers, before sitting on the other side of Castiel. They all agreed on Mario Kart, and Charlie and Dean spent the next two hours teaching Castiel how to play. By the time they finished, Castiel had managed to beat Dean and the rest of the CPUs, coming in second behind Charlie.

~*~*~

“Alright Cas, ever been to a party like this?” Dean asked as they, along with Charlie, approached the frat house that had music pulsating out of it.

“I can’t say that I have,” Castiel said honestly. Charlie linked her arm with his.

“Alright, well Dean and I have a rule. If we get separated and we’re needing to find the other, we call out ‘Marco’ and if the other hears it, they have to shout back ‘Polo’ and we make our way to the kitchen. The only time it didn’t work was when everyone at the party was so high that a game of Marco Polo broke out,” she explained. Castiel glanced a wary look over to Dean who just grinned back at him.

“You’re gonna have a great time, Cas,” Dean said as they made their way up the steps of the porch to the house. Castiel looked around at the half dozen people socializing on the front lawn.

“Do we knock? Or…” Castiel trailed off.

“If we knocked, nobody would hear us,” Charlie said. Dean opened the door, and Castiel was immediately assaulted with the blaring music and the harsh smell of booze and weed and body odor.

“You sure this is okay?” Castiel asked hesitantly.

“We’re sure. Trust us,” Charlie said as they followed Dean inside the loud house. They all stood around near the front entrance for a few moments, surveying the partygoers.

“Oooh, there’s Rowena. See you later, Bitches,” Charlie said, before tearing away from Castiel and bounding off. Castiel immediately took a step towards Dean, feeling a little unguarded.

“Maybe I was wrong about coming tonight,” Castiel said softly.

“Relax dude. Just go with the flow and you’ll have a great time,” Dean suggested.

“Keg stands on the back lawn! Who’s with me!” someone shouted nearby. The crowd let out a roar and a handful of people started making their way to the back. Castiel turned to Dean to ask him what a keg stand was, only to find the man gone. Castiel’s heart sank a little as the anxiety began to creep up.

“Marco?” Castiel called helplessly, but nobody responded. He looked around and spotted a seat on the couch that was now available. He made his way over and sat down, hoping to find Charlie or Dean soon.

He must have only been sitting there for a few minutes before someone sat down beside him. Castiel looked up and saw a woman with wavy brown hair looking at him like she was a tiger and he was the antelope just minding its own business before an attack.

“Hi there, Angel Face. What’s your name?” she asked in a strange tone. Castiel thought she seemed nice, but also that if he refused to converse, he’d quite possibly get stabbed.

“Castiel,” he said quietly.

“Castiel? Strange name. What brings you here tonight?” she asked, pulling a cup up to her lips, while her eyes remained trained on him.

“I just came out with some friends,” Castiel stated.

“Ditched?” she asked. Castiel nodded.

“Sorry to hear that. My name’s Meg,” she said.

“Nice to meet you, Meg,” Castiel said.

“Back at’cha, Clarence,” Meg said.

“Castiel.”

“Gesundheit.”

“No, my name is Castiel. Not Clarence,” Castiel corrected.

“I know,” Meg said bluntly. Castiel pursed his lips slightly, uncertain of how to respond to that. He sat there, trying to figure out a proper response, but Meg just shrugged.

“Well, since your friends ditched you, how about I be your friend? At least for the night. What do you say, Clarence? Wanna move some furniture around?” Meg asked, a wicked glint in her eye. Castiel’s eyes widened for a moment before shaking his head softly.

“I’ll have to pass. But thank you,” he said.

“Damn. All the hot guys are either taken or gay,” Meg said, giving up the leer in exchange for a disappointed sip of whatever was in her cup. Castiel just nodded at her comment.

“So which are you?” she asked.

“I’m sorry?” Castiel asked, surprised at the question.

“Are you taken or gay?” Meg asked.

“Neither,” Castiel said.

“So you’re taken but afraid to show them off?” Meg guessed.

“No,” Castiel said, rolling his eyes.

“Ah, so you’re gay, but you’re in the closet,” Meg said. Castiel moved to say no, but Meg put a hand up.

“Nope, don’t bother denying it,” she said, cutting off any excuse that was about to come out of Castiel’s mouth. Castiel glared at her for a moment, before turning to look down at the ground.

Cas and Meg

“So what actually brought you here tonight? Because you don’t seem that interested in parties,” Meg said.

“My friends-”

“I heard that already, but what’s the real story?” Meg asked. Castiel blinked at her in confusion.

“So obviously you like one of these friends, so you’re trying to spend some time with him?” Meg guessed. Castiel glared at her but didn’t deny anything.

“I don’t know what to do,” he confessed.

“Just tell him?” Meg suggested.

“I can’t,” he said.

“Why not?” she asked.

“Because. It’s a sin. My parents raised me believing that being gay is a sin,” Castiel stated.

“And do you really believe that?” she asked. Castiel’s eyes narrowed.

“Of course I do,” he said, turning his nose up.

“Then stop liking men,” she said bluntly. Castiel immediately scrunched his face in confusion.

“What?”

“If you think it’s a sin, just stop liking men,” Meg repeated herself.

“I… I can’t just… turn it off,” he said, looking at his hands.

“So, if you have no control over it, how is it a sin? If whatever god you subscribe to thought it was a sin, don’t you think he’d make it so that you could make the choice? But he didn’t,” Meg argued.

“Even if God is okay with it, my parents most definitely are not,” Castiel said.

“I mean, mommy and daddy aren’t here. There isn’t anyone here to tell you that you can’t be with him. You’re hiding in the closet still, but nobody out here is going to hate you for it. Just pretend or lie when you’re home. Until then, live your life. And even if it is sin, what’s life without a bit of sin. We’re all sinners here. And all of our graves are the same size in the end,” Meg stated. Castiel looked at her for a moment, before shaking his head.

“I can’t do that,” he said softly. Meg sighed and then passed her cup to him.

“Then you may want to start drinking because it’s gonna be a long four years if that’s your approach,” she said. Castiel took the cup from her before she stood up and wandered around. Castiel began drinking the stuff in the cup. It burned at it slid down his throat, but it warmed him from the inside. Maybe this party thing could be okay.

Chapter Text

This party thing was definitely not okay. Cas couldn’t walk more than three steps without bumping into someone. He had multiple colored drinks spilt down his shirt, and, for the life of him, he couldn’t find Charlie or Dean. He’d been looking for them for the better part of an hour, but he had no luck whatsoever.

His solution was to keep drinking. He wasn’t a fan of the taste, but it warmed him up, and it made him relax more than he would ever admit. The fact that it also made him unable to take three steps without colliding with another partygoer—or a wall—was irrelevant.

He made his way to the door that led out onto the deck. He glanced outside and saw that the majority of people who had gone out for the keg stands had disappeared, leaving just a few people scattered around. Including Dean.

Dean .

“Marco,” Cas called out. Dean twisted away from the guy that he was talking to and looked directly at Cas. He smiled a little bit.

“Polo,” he called back. Cas felt the right side of his mouth lift a little bit. Dean gestured for him to come out. Cas took a deep breath, before silently commanding his feet to work with him. He made it all of six steps before he stumbled a little bit. Dean was immediately in front of him, helping him straighten up.

“You good there, brother?” the other man asked.

“M’fine,” Cas said, waving him off.

“Benny, this is Cas, my roommate. Cas, this is my buddy, Benny,” Dean introduced them, keeping a steady hand on Cas’s shoulder.

“Are you one of Dean’s boyfriends?” Cas asked, eyes getting all squinty.

“Seriously, Cas?” Dean asked, clearly annoyed, but Benny just let out a hearty laugh.

“Nah, brother. I’ve got myself a girl. Her name’s Andrea,” he said. Cas nodded.

“Congratulations on having someone,” he said. Dean rolled his eyes before facing Cas.

“Having a good time?” he asked. Cas nodded.

“I’m fantastic,” he said, before bringing the cup to his lips to chug it.

“Whoa. Might wanna slow down there,” Benny cautioned. Cas shook his head.

“S’okay. I’ll be fine,” Cas said, waving him off again.

“How many have you had?” Dean asked. Cas shrugged.

“Lost count after five,” he drunkenly confessed.

“Seriously? Alright man. I’m cutting you off,” Dean said, reaching for the cup in his hands. Cas let out a whine of protest and moved to hide the cup from Dean.

“C’mon, man. Quit fucking around,” Dean exclaimed, pulling the cup out of Cas’s grasp, causing him to sway a little. Dean spun around and tossed the cup into the nearest garbage. Cas took a step back, resting against the railing.

“You gonna be alright?” Dean asked once he had turned back to Cas. Cas nodded sluggishly.

“Brother, I don’t think he looks too good,” Benny warned. Dean looked at Benny thoughtfully, before turning back to ask Cas how he was feeling. He didn’t get the opportunity, however. As soon as he opened his mouth, Cas bent over and expelled the contents of his stomach all over the floor of the deck.

“Alright, time to go,” Dean said, carefully stepping over to help Cas, who let out a groan and pushed Dean away.

“Noooo,” he whined, wrapping his arms around his stomach.

“Benny, can you go find Charlie and let her know that I’m taking Cas home,” Dean said, ignoring his whining roommate.

“I’ll let her know,” Benny said, patting Dean on his shoulder, before disappearing into the house to pass along the message. Dean looked at Cas, who was leaning against the deck railing with his head bent. Avoiding the vomit, Dean pulled Cas over to him.

“Come on. It’s time to go home,” Dean said. Cas looked at him with tired, glassy eyes, and nodded.

“Think you can walk on your own?” he asked. Cas nodded again.

“Alright, let’s go,” Dean instructed, walking towards the door. Dean made it halfway across the room before he looked back and saw Cas leaning against the wall, looking incredibly green again. He immediately sped back over to Cas’s side.

“Hey, you okay? You gonna throw up again?” he asked, putting his hand on Cas’s shoulder.

“I think so,” Cas said.

“Alright, there’s a bathroom right over here,” Dean said, pulling him over to the first door on the left down the hall. He sent out a silent thank you to whatever higher power there was that they gave them a clean, empty bathroom. As soon as Dean lifted the toilet seat, Cas fell to his knees and began emptying his stomach again. Dean sat beside him, rubbing soothing patterns into his back.

After a few minutes, Cas lifted his head and looked at Dean.

“Thank you,” he mumbled.

“Don’t mention it,” Dean said, letting his hand fall from Cas’s back.

“You do this for all your roommates?” Cas asked. Dean snorted.

“Sorta. You ready to get up and go home?” he asked. Cas nodded, before reaching up and flushing the toilet. Dean helped him up, and they exited the bathroom together. They began making their way to the door, only to be stopped by a short brunette woman who was grinning at Cas like she was in on a secret.

“Clarence, is this the friend that you were looking for?” she asked.

“Clarence?” Dean asked, obviously confused.

“This is Dean. He is my roommate. And my friend. And-”

“And he’s had way too much to drink. Sorry about him,” Dean said, cutting Cas’s next sentence off.

“It’s all good. Glad he found you though. He seemed a bit put out earlier when I found him a by his lonesome,” Meg said. Dean turned to Cas with apologetic eyes.

“I thought you heard me when I said I was gonna go out back and watch some idiots do the keg stands,” he said. Cas squinted at Dean for a moment.

“Oh boy, Clarence. Looks like you took my advice,” Meg said, gesturing to his shirt.

“I did imbibe copious amounts of alcohol and, unfortunately, I’ve gotten sick from it.”

Almost as soon as he said it, one of the frat guys came in and shouted, “Who the fuck puked all over the fuckin’ deck?!”

“That’s true. Which is why we should really get going. Plus, Cas has to be up pretty early tomorrow and the sooner he’s in bed, the sooner his inevitable hangover will be over,” Dean said, pulling Cas’s arm towards the door.

“Bye Meg,” Cas said quickly as Dean pulled him away.

“Have fun, Clarence,” Meg said before Dean pulled Cas completely out the door. They were on the sidewalk in front of the house when Cas came to a halt. Dean turned to him and saw that Cas had his arms crossed.

“What?” Dean asked.

“Dean, that was rude. We were talking to Meg, and you lied to her,” Cas said.

“You were about to get your ass handed to you by one of those frat guys, and you’re calling me rude?” Dean asked incredulously. Instead of answering him, Cas just began tapping his fingers. Dean let out an annoyed groan. “Look, I’ll apologize the next time I see her. Pretty sure she’s in my communications class,” he said.

Cas dropped his arms and nodded. “Thank you,” he said and began walking. He had gone about ten feet before Dean’s voice caught his attention. He turned and he saw Dean looking at him with a confused expression on his face.

“Where are you going?” Dean asked.

“Home?” Cas said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

“Yeah, home is the other way,” Dean said. Cas felt his face heat up in embarrassment.

“Oh, of course,” Cas mumbled as he walked toward, and then past, Dean. He could have sworn he heard Dean chuckling, but when he glanced back, Dean just wore a slight smile on his face.

~*~*~

They were about halfway back to the dorms when Dean finally cleared his throat to break the peaceful silence that had settled between the two of them.

“I’m sorry I left you,” he said. Cas shook his head at the apology.

“You don’t have to apologize. ‘Sides, I got to meet Meg,” he said.

“Is that really an upside?” Dean asked.

“I’m not sure yet. Perhaps. We did have an enlightening conversation,” Cas admitted, and he went up onto the curb. He held his hands out and tried to walk along the curb, but kept falling off.

“Mind if I ask what you talked about?” Dean asked.

“Not at all,” Cas replied. There was silence between the two for a moment.

“What did you talk about, Cas?” Dean asked, rolling his eyes.

“I’m gay,” Cas said bluntly, trying to walk the curb again.

“Yeah. We established that this morning at coffee,” Dean said slowly.

“S’what we talked about though, more or less,” Cas explained, as he slipped off the curb again.

“How come it was so easy for you to tell her but you got all uppity when I said it?” Dean grouched.

“I mean, there could be lots of reasons why it was easier. I’d already told someone. I now have two other people in my life who aren’t straight. Plus I’m not attracted to her, so that a plus,” Cas rattled off, his attention focused on walking the curb.

Dean paused for a moment, surprised by Cas’s admission. Not that he was surprised that Cas was attracted to him. He knew that Cas found him physically appealing. He was just surprised that Cas would even drunkenly admit to it. He watched his roommate unsuccessfully attempt to balance himself on the curb. He slid off, almost rolling his ankle, and Dean jumped forward to help steady him.

“You alright?” he asked. Cas nodded.

“Don’t think I’d pass a sa… sa… a drunk or not drunk test,” Cas said, shrugging off the tricky word.

“How drunk are you still?” Dean asked. Cas turned to him and grinned.

“Drunk enough to not pass a drunk or not drunk test,” he said. Dean smiled at that. He liked it when Cas smiled.

“I think it’s called a sobriety test,” Dean teased. Cas snapped his fingers and pointed to Dean.

“Thaaat’s what it’s called,” he said. They walked up the sidewalk that led to their dorm, and saw an RA standing at the door.

“Shit, they’ve got Hendrickson out tonight. Alright dude, just try to pull it together and don’t say anything. We can’t afford to get in trouble with you being as drunk as you are. Just pull out your ID and let me do the talking. Henrickson and I go way back,” Dean mumbled. Cas nodded with wide eyes, before following Dean closely. The approached the doors and saw the RA cross his arms, looking at them expectantly.

“Winchester.”

“Henrickson.”

“You gentlemen got any ID?” Henrickson asked. Dean immediately pulled out his wallet and flashed his student ID, which got a nod from Henrickson who then looked at Cas, who was patting his pockets anxiously.

“Dean, I don’t know where my wallet is,” Cas said, his voice suddenly very sober.

“Not allowed in without any ID. Sorry kid. I know there’s a big party tonight and I can’t afford to let anyone in without a student ID,” Henrickson said. Castiel’s blue eyes were as big as saucers, and if Dean wasn’t mistaken, starting to get very misty. He could also see his breaths starting to come out in shorter puffs. Dean could tell that Castiel was about to have an anxiety attack.

“C’mon Henrickson. He’s my roommate. The guy never goes out. I dragged him out tonight, and I forgot to remind him to make sure he had his ID on him,” Dean begged. Henrickson shook his head.

“Sorry Dean, but rules are rules,” he said firmly.

“Look. I know you’ve got access to a roster or something of all the students living in this dorm. You can look him up. He’s Castiel Novak. He’s in Room 313 with me. Please just let me bring him up. I swear on Sam’s life , he’s my roommate,” Dean implored. Henrickson groaned and looked around.

“Alright. Just this once. I’m serious Dean,” Henrickson said, opening the door for them.

“Thank you,” Dean said, turning to Castiel who looked like he had shed a tear or two and was just trying to catch his breath.

“C’mon buddy. Let’s go upstairs,” Dean said, wrapping an arm around his obviously drunk and frightened friend.

“Th-thank you,” Castiel said wobbly. They made it across the threshold when Henrickson called Dean’s name. They both turned back to him with curious looks on their faces. Henrickson looked Castiel’s disheveled appearance up and down before look at Dean.

“Don’t let him puke on the floor. I’ll make you clean it up,” Henrickson warned. Dean nodded and Henrickson closed the door behind them. Castiel’s worried eyes met Dean’s for a moment before Dean burst into laughter, causing his expression to melt from worry to annoyed.

“What is so funny?” Castiel asked.

“I don’t know why I bothered to tell you to act sober. Your hair alone gives it away,” Dean said, stepping forward to smooth down the multitude of flyaways. Castiel blushed slightly as Dean stepped back.

“Alright, let’s go up,” Dean said pressing the button to the elevator. The elevator arrived quickly, and they climbed on. Castiel quietly pressed the button for the third floor before leaning against the wall of the elevator. Dean watched as the doors closed and they were slowly lifted up to the third floor.

The doors opened up, and Dean stepped off. He began walking towards their dorm and heard the elevator doors shut. He looked back to ask Castiel about his plans for the morning when he noticed Cas wasn’t with him. He looked around the hall, checking to make sure he hadn’t walked past him when he’d been turning around. Nothing.

“Cas?” Dean called out quietly, not wanting his voice to travel too far down the hall and possibly disturb anyone. He made his way to the elevator and pressed the down button. The doors automatically opened, and there he saw Castiel slouched against the wall, snoring slightly. Dean smiled softly at the ridiculous picture he was getting, and immediately pulled out his phone.

“This is either gonna be my wallpaper someday, or excellent blackmail,” Dean murmured to himself, before stepping onto the elevator again.

“Come on, Cas. Almost to our room,” Dean said, grabbing him by the hand. Cas just grumbled and followed along pliantly. They made it into their dorm room without too much ruckus. Dean instructed Cas to sit down on his bed, and Castiel dropped so low that his face was almost right at Dean’s crotch.

“Wow, I thought that if you were gonna be that close to my crotch, there’d be a little bit more magic happening here,” Dean said cockily to cover up the fact that he wasn’t sure how comfortable he was knowing that his attractive roommate was so close to him. Castiel, however, was practically unphased by the comment.

“Is that a flirtation?” he asked. Dean didn’t bother answering Castiel. He just smirked and then dropped to his knees in front of Castiel, to help take off his shoes.

“I always hoped that the first time you dropped down on your knees for me, it would be for something other than taking my shoes off because you can’t trust that I can do it myself,” Cas flirted back, as Dean took off the first shoe.

“‘The first time?’ You hoping to have me on my knees a lot, there, Cas?” Dean asked.

“You are the most gorgeous man I’ve ever met, Dean Winchester. Of course I want you on your knees,” Cas said honestly as Dean peeled off his second shoe.

“Hmm, thought that you weren’t like that,” Dean argued. Cas shrugged.

“Maybe I could be like that for you,” he said softly. Dean snorted and nodded.

“Yeah, okay. Tell me that again in the morning when you’re sober, and I’ll consider it. Lay down,” Dean instructed. Castiel shimmied out of his pants before shimmying up to his pillow. Dean pulled the blankets over Castiel’s form.

“Promise?” Castiel murmured, holding his pinky out towards Dean expectantly. Dean sighed and wrapped Castiel’s pinky with his own.

“I promise,” Dean said. Cas nodded thoughtfully before pulling Dean’s hand a bit closer to his face. He placed a soft kiss on the inside of Dean’s wrist before releasing him. Dean felt his throat constrict, but nothing in his head sounded like a good response for that. Instead, Dean took off his own pants and shoes, climbed into his own bed, and passed out just as quickly as Castiel had.

Chapter Text

Castiel awoke the next morning to the sound of his own blood rushing in his ears. He opened his eyes and saw the sunlight shining through the blinds on the window. He moved his head slightly and groaned as the small motion caused his head to throb. He let out a small whimper, and pulled his blankets up over his head.

He was never ever, ever, ever drinking again.

Ever.

After a few minutes, he sluggishly lowered the blanket and carefully turned his head in the direction of Dean’s bed. It was unfortunately empty. Castiel glanced over to his nightstand and saw a glass of water and two Advil sitting side by side.

“Hey, you alive?” a voice called to Castiel. He could feel someone running their fingers through his hair in a soothing pattern.

“No,” he responded, letting out a low whine.

“Alright. Go back to sleep. I’ll put out some Advil for when you wake up,” the voice said softly. The fingers stroked through his hair a few more times before they left him.

Castiel glanced around for a moment, before letting his eyes land on the clock next to him. It read 10:18am. He wondered how long it had been since Dean had put the Advil out for him. Even more than that, however, he wondered how long it would be before Dean returned.

Castiel slowly sat up, before reaching over for the Advil and the glass of water. He downed the pills slowly and finished the glass of water. Castiel wished, not for the first time, that he had bothered to get Dean’s number so he could text him or call him or something .

Instead, he resigned himself to having to wait for Dean to return to their shared room.

He laid back down on the bed and was praying for his head to stop pounding when his phone let out a shrill screech. Cas silently cursed himself for giving his mother such an obnoxious ringtone, then he sighed and grabbed his phone from the nightstand. He didn’t remember plugging it in the night before. Maybe Dean had?

“Hello?” he croaked into the phone after he hit the answer button.

“Castiel? Are you alright sweetheart?” his mother’s overly concerned tone came through the phone.

“I’m alright. Just not feeling well,” Cas stated.

“Were you out drinking? Did that Dean boy put you up to it? I knew he was going to be trouble, Castiel,” Naomi accused.

“Mother, Dean didn’t put me up to anything. He’s been great, actually. He’s even been taking care of me,” Cas said, closing his eyes, remembering Dean’s fingers in his hair that morning.

“So who convinced you to go to a party and start drinking?” Naomi demanded.

“The only one who said anything about drinking was you,” Castiel pointed out.

“So you weren’t drinking?” Naomi asked. Castiel paused for a moment. He’d never really lied to his parents before. Even the summer before when they’d caught him and Inias making out in the pool house, Castiel had come clean about it right away. However, Cas knew that Naomi had a low opinion of his school and roommate, and he wasn’t about to encourage it.

“There was no drinking, Mother. I just haven’t been getting a lot of sleep lately. I’ve been staying up late, working on assignments,” Cas lied.

“Well… don’t work yourself into the ground,” Naomi said.

“I won’t. Is there anything else you were calling about?” Cas asked.

“No. It was just a check-up. You don’t check in with us nearly enough,” Naomi complained.

“It’s been a week,” Cas said deadpanned.

“And we haven’t heard from you all week,” Naomi retorted.

“You know, Mother. There are students here who only talk to their parents once a month. Or only during holiday breaks. A week really won’t kill either of us,” he said.

“Where is this coming from, Castiel? I’m just trying to be a good mother. Why can’t you be a good son and just call?” Naomi said. Castiel felt his stomach fall a little. Was he being a bad son?

“I’m sorry. I’ll call more,” he said softly.

“Good. Now, I know you’re not feeling well today, but next Sunday, I expect to hear that you have found a church that you’ll be attending while you’re at school,” Naomi instructed.

“Yes ma’am,” Castiel mumbled.

“Alright, well… feel better dear,” Naomi said. Castiel heard the phone click before he could properly say goodbye. He turned off his phone and tossed it to the end of his bed. Then, grabbing the pillow from under his head, he dropped it on his face. He laid there, silently digesting his phone call with his mother, before falling back asleep.

~*~*~

When he woke again, the clock said 2:09pm. Castiel looked around the room and saw no sign of Dean having come through. He sighed, before standing up. He decided that if Dean was busy, he may as well make himself busy. He still had a bit more homework left to do, and he knew he’d be able to focus better in the library. He grabbed his books and shoved them into the messenger bag he carried with him. He was almost at the door when he paused. He quickly turned around and examined the room.

Cas had quickly picked up on a few things about Dean during their first week of living together.

Number one: the man loved his classic rock. It didn’t matter if he was studying, playing games, or just messing around on his phone. He loved listening to it.

Number two: Dean was smart. Cas remembered walking into the dorm on that first Tuesday and seeing Dean ticking away at something on his computer. He’d been about to ask what he was doing, but Dean had beat him to the punch when he realized that he’d come in. He had excitedly announced to his roommate that he was working on coding an app that would hopefully become available for the student body before the end of the year.

Number three: Dean was a neat freak. Cas assumed that, with his father being a marine, Dean had probably been expected to keep his room orderly and, over time, it just became his own quirk. Castiel had left a pair of boxers beside his bed one morning when he was rushing to get to class. When he returned to the room later that afternoon, not only were the boxers gone, but his bed had been remade as well. When Cas had asked Dean about it, Dean had blushed and just explained that he liked a tidy room.

Cas wordlessly walked over to his hamper of dirty clothes and grabbed one sock out of the hamper. He turned around and walked back over to the door. He tossed the sock into the middle of the room, and then turned back around and finally left the dorm.

~*~*~

Time got away from Castiel. He had gotten so lost in the reading for his Religious Studies class, that when he finally came up for air, it was almost 9:30pm.

“Damn it,” Castiel mumbled, and he quickly grabbed all the books and papers that were spread out around him. He needed to get back to the dorm as quickly as possible, before Dean went to sleep. Dean had mentioned the week before that he had a class at 8:30am on Mondays and Thursdays, so he’d like to have lights off by 11pm at the latest.

Castiel hurried across the campus back to his dorm, accidentally running into a group of girls, a professor Castiel had seen around the music department, and very nearly, a squirrel that hadn’t seen him barrelling down the sidewalk. Castiel checked his phone as he rushed back into the dorm. Nearly 10. Dean might still be awake.

Castiel rushed into the elevator and slammed the button for the third floor. He bounced impatiently on the balls of his feet while he waited for the doors to close and lift him to his floor. A few minutes later, he found himself fumbling for the keys to the door. He got the key into the slot and turned the knob so fast that he nearly fell into the room.

The light was off.

“Dean?” Castiel called out quietly. He waited for a moment, trying to listen for the slight snore that Dean let out when he was asleep. He heard nothing. Castiel cautiously flipped on the light, only to find that the room was empty.

And the sock was still lying in the middle of the room.

Castiel felt his stomach drop. Dean hadn’t been there all day.

He moved slowly over to his bed. He took off his bag and dropped it on the ground before sitting on the bed, staring at the floor. He knew that he’d been drunk when he’d asked Dean to promise to talk about it, but to have him break even that drunken promise still stung.

Castiel wasn’t sure how long he sat there, his eyes burning holes into the sock but, eventually, the door did swing open. Castiel looked up and saw Dean’s surprised face looking at him.

“Hey. I didn’t think you’d still be up,” Dean said stiffly. Castiel felt his heart drop again. Had he really made Dean so uncomfortable the night before that Dean would go out of his way to avoid him?

“I just got back from the library,” Castiel said softly. Dean nodded before coming into the room completely and closing the door behind him. He carefully walked over to his own bed, the sock on the floor going either completely unnoticed or skillfully ignored.

Castiel watched as Dean took a seat on his own bed and rubbed his face in exhaustion.

“Where have you been today?” Cas dared to ask, only to have Dean send him an irritated glare.

“I’ve been with Charlie. That okay with you?” Dean bit out. Castiel couldn’t help but flinch at the ice in his tone.

“Of course. I was only curious since you seem to like spending time in the dorm,” he said softly. Dean’s glare melted into something similar to regret.

“I’m sorry, man. I don’t mean to be a dick. It’s just been a long day. Someone got Charlie to try some stuff that she shouldn’t have touched and she hasn’t been doing so great today,” Dean said. Castiel nodded in understanding, the sting of Dean’s apparent rejection easing just a bit.

“So… how much do you remember about last night?” Dean asked.

“Everything,” Castiel nodded.

“Great okay. Um… So-”

“I meant it, you know,” Cas interrupted. Dean let out a small huff of breath like a half-hearted chuckle.

“Yeah, Cas. I figured you meant it,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck. Castiel felt the sting of impending rejection come just as quickly as before. He cleared his throat.

“If I made you uncomfortable, I apologize,” he said. Dean scoffed and rolled his eyes.

“It’s not that, dude. Look. You- You’re- I’m not-” Dean paused, clearly trying to figure out how he wanted to say whatever it was that he wanted to say.

“Be blunt with me. I’m not great at ‘reading between the lines,’” Castiel said, using actual finger quotes. Dean smiled softly at that and looked down at the ground before looking back up at Cas with resolve in his eyes.

“You’re an awesome guy, Cas. And you’re gonna make someone real happy someday,” Dean started.

“But?” Castiel prompted.

“But you’re in the closet. And I’m not. And I’m… I’ve already been someone’s dirty little secret. It didn’t end well for me. And I’m not looking to be that for someone again. I don’t want to feel like we’re looking over our shoulder every time we go out. So even though you’re attracted to me, and I’m attracted to you-”

“You’re attracted to me?” Castiel interrupted again.

“Really? That whole speech and that’s what you picked up on?” Dean asked dryly.

“No, of course not. I’m just surprised that you would be attracted to me,” Cas said honestly. Dean shook his head, rolling his eyes.

“And people say I have self-esteem issues,” Dean murmured, more to himself. When he looked back at Cas, the familiar start of a smile was tugging on his lips. “Of course I find you attractive. You’re gorgeous.” Cas lifted one side of his mouth in a half smile as pink tinged his cheeks.

“But you don’t want to be hidden away,” Castiel said in understanding. Dean nodded.

“I can offer you friendship though. From what I’ve seen, you have that Anna girl in Writing. You could always use more friends. Charlie seems to have adopted you. And she and I are kind of a package deal,” Dean said. Cas nodded, his eyes shining slightly. He was disappointed, but he was glad to hear that Dean was at least willing to become friends.

“More friends would be fantastic,” Cas said. Dean fully smiled and nodded.

“Great. Now that we’ve hashed this all out, it’s getting late, and I’ve got an early class, so I’m gonna hit the hay,” he said. Cas nodded in agreement. Both boys changed into their sleep clothes and crawled into bed a few minutes later.

In the dark, Castiel tried to let the rejection and disappointment go, but he couldn’t quite seem to shake the ache that had blossomed in his chest. He closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind. He was almost asleep when he heard Dean call his name.

“Yes?” he asked softly.

“Whenever you’re ready to come out of the closet, I’ll be here,” Dean said. Castiel didn’t know if he was saying that he’d be there in an emotionally supportive way or that he’d wait until Cas got his shit together and was brave. It didn’t really matter, though. Both possibilities eased the ache in his chest a little more, and Castiel drifted off to sleep not much longer.

Chapter Text

“Cas, wake up.”

Castiel felt something nudging his foot. He kicked at whatever was touching him and tucked his feet up closer to his torso.

“Caaaaaas.”

“Five more minutes,” Castiel mumbled softly, burrowing his face deeper into his pillow.

“No. No more minutes. You have to get ready for class.”

Castiel’s eyes shot open and he looked around the room. Dean was standing at the foot of his bed with a pleased look.

“Morning sunshine! Want some coffee?” Dean asked, satisfied that Castiel was finally awake.

“Ugh, yes please. Am I late?” he asked, rubbing his face.

“Not yet, but if you don’t get up and dressed, you’ll be going to College Writing in just your boxers,” Dean said. Castiel groaned and flopped back down.

“That class isn’t until noon,” he whined.

“And it’s already after eleven. Get up, get dressed, and drink your damn coffee. It’s Halloween next week, and you promised that you’d help me find a costume for Benny’s party, so after class, I’m dragging you to the mall,” Dean informed him.

“What if I have other classes today?” Cas asked.

“You don’t though. It’s Friday. Your only class on Fridays is Writing,” Dean stated. Cas opened his eyes and looked at Dean, who was stirring the sugar into Cas’s coffee.

“Why do you know my schedule?” he asked. Dean snorted.

“Because without me knowing your schedule, you would fall apart,” he said, handing Castiel a mug. “Now drink your sugar milk with a splash of coffee.”

“Thank you,” Castiel said, taking a sip of the coffee.

“You’re still willing to help me find a costume for Halloween, right?” Dean asked.

“Sure. What are you thinking about doing though?” Cas asked.

“I was thinking maybe going as Han Solo. I think I could convince Charlie to be Leia,” Dean said.

“I don’t think you’re gonna convince her to put on a gold bikini,” Cas pointed out.

“You’re probably right, but you never know,” Dean said with a playful grin, before turning around to grab his bag.

Cas watched Dean as he mumbled off a checklist of all the items he’d need for class. He smiled for a moment before turning back to his coffee. Dean had made it clear that they were only going to be friends. Cas needed his crush on Dean to go away.

“Do you want to come to the party?” Dean asked. Cas looked up at him.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea. Last party I went to wasn’t all that great,” he said.

“Hey, just don’t throw up on anyone’s porch this time and we should be fine,” Dean said, giving him a wink.

“I’ll think about it,” Cas said.

“Awesome. Now finish your sugar milk and get dressed. Anna and Charlie will probably be waiting for us,” Dean said. Cas nodded and finished his coffee as quickly as possible.

~*~*~

“Everything here sucks,” Dean said.

“I don’t know about the standard of Halloween costumes, since I didn’t really participate in it growing up, but I’d have to agree,” Cas said, looking at the dismal selection.

“Wait. You’ve never celebrated Halloween before?” Dean asked. Cas shrugged.

“I mean, my parents would let me dress up for the day at my elementary school because we’d have a Halloween parade, but I never was allowed to go trick or treating, and my school stopped doing the parade thing because of ‘security risks’ posed by masks and all that when I was in second grade. So no, not really,” he explained. Dean shook his head.

“That’s it. You’re coming with us to that party. No ifs, ands, or buts,” Dean said firmly. Cas frowned.

“I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Cas said.

“Cas, it’s Halloween. It’s not like it’s the devil’s holiday. It’s just a fun night for pranks, parties, and way more candy than any child should have access to,” Dean said.

“I’d really rather not do the party thing,” Cas said honestly. Dean sighed and nodded.

“Alright. Well, the night before is a Friday. I think that you, me, and Charlie should have a scary movie marathon at the least,” he said. Cas grimaced slightly.

“Can we keep the lights on?” he asked.

“What? Why?” Dean asked. Cas blushed lightly.

“Look, scary movies and I don’t really get along well,” he explained.

“Dude,” Dean said.

“When I was about eight years old, my brother Gabriel made me watch this movie called Jeepers Creepers and I still have nightmares about someone stealing my eyeballs,” Cas said.

“Who the hell makes an eight-year-old watch Jeepers Creepers,” Dean asked, obviously horrified.

“Apparently my brother,” Cas said, looking back at the costumes. Gabriel always did stuff like that to Castiel. From putting eggnog instead of milk in his cereal the day before Christmas to filling his bed with itching powder the night before the first day of fourth grade, Gabriel was always there to keep Cas on his toes.

Despite the fact that Gabriel had acted as his tormentor, he was his number one supporter as well. He had been the one to teach Castiel how to throw a punch when the kids at school started ganging up on him, and he’d always reminded Castiel to not let anyone else tell him how to think.

He couldn’t help but miss his brother.

“Hey, we’ll start with something scary but light. Work our way up to the heavier stuff. And we can keep the lights on if it makes you feel better,” Dean said. Cas turned to him with a small smile.

“Thank you.”

~*~*~

“Who makes an eight-year-old watch Jeepers Creepers?” Charlie asked, just as horrified as Dean. She and Cas sat on an air mattress that Charlie had dragged into their room. She had announced when she arrived that there wasn’t enough room on either of their twin-sized beds for the three of them, so the king-sized air mattress would have to do.

“Apparently his brother is an asshole,” Dean chimed in from his place in front of the DVD player.

“No kidding,” Charlie said.

“He’s really not. He thought he was being funny. He couldn’t have predicted that it would scar me that bad,” Cas said, defending his older brother.

“Well hopefully he’s made up for it,” Charlie said.

“He never really got the chance to. He left home a year later, and I haven’t really gotten the chance to see him since,” Cas said. Charlie opened her mouth to ask something, but Dean stood up.

“Alright, everything’s all ready to go. Movie time,” he announced, interrupting whatever question Charlie had been ready to ask. Cas sent him a grateful look.

“What are we starting with?” she asked.

“Well, to ease Cas into the horror movie genre, I decided that we’ll start out with a good ol’ PG-13 movie. The Ring,” Dean said. Cas nodded.

“And look, it’s barely even four o’clock, so we won’t even need to turn on more than one lamp by the end of the movie,” Dean said, sitting in between Charlie and Cas on the bed.

“We have to have the lights on?” Charlie asked.

“Yes, Charlie. Cas is new to the whole horror movie thing,” Dean said.

“A lamp will be fine, I think,” Cas said. Dean and Charlie both nodded. Dean held the remote up.

“Get ready, Cas. This genre will change your life,” he said, before hitting play.

~*~*~

“I just don’t understand why they didn’t just make a copy and then take both tapes, put them in a safe, and throw it down into the bottom of the ocean. That would have been the best option,” Castiel said, his back resting against his nightstand.

“Dude, you don’t try to use logic with these movies. Just go with it,” Dean said, leaning back on his arms. Charlie had climbed up onto Dean’s bed immediately after the movie had ended to try and reach the outlet near the side of his bed.

“But-”

“No buts. That’s just the basic rule of movies. Just go with it. That’s how you enjoy them,” Charlie said with a muffled voice, as Dean rolled off the bed to change movies.

“She’s right Cas. Abandon all logic, ye who enter here,” Dean said. Cas rolled his eyes at the terrible misquote.

“What’s up next?” Charlie asked, popping her head up from the bed. She plugged her phone in before leaningover to flip on the lamp.

“A classic. Halloween,” Dean said, holding up the DVD case.

“Oooh, goodie,” Charlie said, plopping back down on the air mattress.

“What’s this one about?” Cas asked.

“You’ll just have to wait and see. Scooch over,” Dean said as he crashed down between Cas and Charlie. Cas pressed play on the remote, and maybe it was just his imagination, but as soon as the screen went dark, he could have sworn that he felt Dean scoot just a little bit closer to him. He stole a glance at Dean, but Dean’s eyes were glued to the screen in front of them.

It was only a few minutes into the movie when Dean’s phone let out the same ominous music from the movie.

“Sorry, that’s gotta be Mom or Sammy,” he said, reaching over Charlie to grab his phone from his bed. Cas grabbed the remote from where it had slipped between him and Dean and hit the pause button on the tv.

“You don’t have to stop it,” Dean said, glancing back at him.

“Just take your call. We’ll survive,” Charlie said. Dean quickly hit the answer button and stood up.

“Hello?” Dean asked into his phone. Cas couldn’t hear who was on the other line, but Dean’s eyes lit up immediately.

“Heya Sammy, how’s it goin’?” Dean asked. He turned to Charlie and Cas, before throwing his thumb over his shoulder and then stepping out into the hall.

“Sammy is his little brother,” Charlie said. Cas nodded at the explanation.

“They’re close?” Cas asked.

“Oh yeah. With Dean’s mom working so much as a nurse and Dean’s dad deployed most of their lives, Dean practically raised Sam. I’m surprised he hasn’t told you about him, actually,” Charlie said.

“We haven’t actually talked much about our families,” Cas said. Charlie nodded.

“Are you and your brother close?” she asked. Cas felt the small smile on his face melt into a frown.

“We used to be. But my parents kicked him out when he was seventeen years old,” Cas said.

“Oh god. That’s awful,” Charlie said. The unasked question of why hung in the air, so obvious that Cas was practically choking on it.

“He’s gay. And my parents are… narrow-minded,” Cas said gently.

“More like homophobic bigots,” Charlie said, clearly angered.

“Perhaps, but they are still my parents,” Cas said with a slight warning in his tone.

“I don’t mean to come at you or anything, Cas. You’re great. But to kick your own flesh and blood out just because he loves someone of the same sex?” Charlie fumed. She shook her head and looked up at the ceiling, her jaw locked tight. She took a few deep breaths, before calmly adding, “Good parents don’t just disown their children for something they have absolutely no control over. That’s terrible.” Cas sighed, but nodded in agreement. He went to say something, but Dean came back into the room.

“So Charlie, looks like you’re gonna have to go solo on the whole Princess Leia thing. Mom’s working a double again tomorrow, and Sam apparently needs someone to take him trick-or-treating,” Dean said.

“Sam is fourteen years old,” Charlie said.

“Yup, but Mom’s not letting him go without someone, and apparently there’s a girl he wants to meet up with,” Dean said.

“Well damn. Guess I’ll have to find a last minute costume that won’t look weird without someone else,” Charlie said.

“You could still go as Princess Leia. Bet tons of people would love to see you in the gold bikini,” Dean teased.

“I’ll pass,” Charlie said.

“Well, you could always come trick-or-treating with Sam and I,” Dean said casually, but Cas could tell that there was a bit of a question in his tone.

“No way. Last time I was around both you Winchesters, I ended up having to get pizza stains off my Eleventh Doctor cosplay. Not happening,” Charlie said firmly.

“What about you, Cas? You’ve never celebrated Halloween. Wanna go door to door with a bunch of teenagers, and then steal some candy from Sam afterward?” Dean asked. Cas saw the hopeful expression on Dean’s face. How could he say no to that face?

“Sure. Sounds like it could be… fun?” Cas asked cautiously.

“That’s the spirit. Awesome! Alright, let’s get back to murder-y good times,” Dean said, grabbing the remote and hitting play again. Dean scooched back a little, and visibly leaned onto Cas for support. Cas glanced over at him again, and this time, Dean looked back at him with a little smile and gleam in his eyes. Cas smiled back and turned back towards the movie.

Chapter Text

“My mom moved us out to Lebanon a few years ago. She was offered a job and the pay was too good to say no to. But I’m originally from Lawrence,” Dean explained after they hit the first hour of their drive.

“That explains why you act like you know everything about Lawrence,” Cas said. In the weeks that they’d been spending more time together outside of class and dorm rooms, Dean had taken Cas to many of his favorite places in the city. He’d even helped Castiel get Naomi off his back about finding a church when he brought him to the one that he’d grown up at. Dean had already told him that his family lived in Lebanon and Cas hadn’t thought to ask about his seemingly endless knowledge of Lawrence and some of the people in the city.

“You never stopped to think, ‘Hey, he sure knows a lot about this city?’” Dean asked.

“No, I was typically distracted,” Cas replied. Dean clicked his tongue.

“Can’t say I blame you. I am pretty adorable,” he said. Cas turned to glare at him.

“Why is it that you insist on dangling yourself like that in front of me when you know that I find you attractive, but also be adamant on us remaining friends? It’s like tempting a lion with a piece of meat,” Cas said.

“Okay, one, don’t use that argument. You sound like a rapist. You’re a man, not an animal,” Dean said. Cas scrunched his face up but agreed with Dean’s point. “Two, tell anyone–literally   anyone –that we know, that you’re into dudes and I’ll consider going on a date with you.”

“You know why I can’t do that,” Cas scowled at him.

“I know. And for that, I’m sorry. But I’m not ashamed of who I am or who I’m with, and maybe it sounds cruel to be so unwilling to compromise when that attraction is a two-way street, but I’m not going to come out of my own closet just to be hidden in someone else’s,” Dean said, giving Cas a hard look. Cas sighed.

“I’m just not ready, Dean,” he explained softly.

“I know, buddy,” Dean said equally soft. The silence that blanketed the car was uncomfortable and quickly broken when Dean chimed in with a quick, “And three! You’re much more of a kitten than a lion,” which resulted in a nice, long glare from Castiel.

~*~*~

“How old did you say your brother was?” Cas asked just after the hour two mark of their trip.

“He’s fourteen,” Dean said.

“Forgive me if I’ve been misinformed, but isn’t fourteen a bit old to require supervision for something like this?” Cas asked.

“See, when we moved to Lebanon a few years ago, Sam had a bit of trouble with the change. I was still pretty used to us moving around a lot for my dad’s work when I was in third and fourth grade, but Sam wasn’t. He had a hard time adjusting and some of the kids were just little assholes to him. Called him a bunch of names. Mostly calling him a freak. He’s gotten better now, but those same assholes still like to go after him, trying to get him into some trouble. This is just so Mom has some peace of mind,” Dean explained. Cas nodded in understanding as the quiet thump of Dean’s music played quietly.

“You don’t mind that we stay at my place tonight, right? We could drive back, but it’s gonna be late and I’d rather just stay the night, have some breakfast, and then head out late morning, early afternoon,” Dean said.

“That’s fine, Dean. I’m in no rush to get back,” Cas said. Dean glanced at him before returning his attention to the road.

About twenty minutes later, they pulled over to fill the tank of Dean’s little 2003 Chevy Malibu.

“Hey, can you go get me some chips and a Mountain Dew or something?” Dean asked Cas, handing him a $20 bill.

“Of course, Dean. Any particular kind?” Cas asked.

“Surprise me. Just not the salt and vinegar kind. Get yourself something too, if you want,” Dean said. Cas nodded and headed inside.

Once inside, he headed to the chips and grabbed a bag of barbeque and a bag of sour cream and onion. He’d let Dean choose and he’d have the other one. Cas then made his way over to the coolers where they kept the drinks and grabbed a regular Mountain Dew and a large bottle of water. He walked up to the counter, where a kid sat playing some game on his phone.

Cas placed the items on the counter and the kid held up one finger without looking at his phone. Cas rolled his eyes at the terrible customer service. He understood it was probably just a part-time thing for the kid, but really?

His eyes landed on a little display beside the counter. Inside, there were four slices of pie. Two apple, one cherry, and one blueberry. Castiel felt his mouth water just at the sight. He grabbed one apple and one cherry from the display, and two of the plastic forks beside them, and placed them with the chips and drinks.

“This everything for you?” the kid asked, finally looking up.

“Yes,” Castiel said. The kid nodded and began scanning and bagging everything up. Cas paid for the items and walked out into the Kansas sunshine. He saw Dean leaning against the trunk of the car, waiting for him. He held up his hands.

“What took so long?” Dean asked.

“The kid at the register needed to finish his round of candy crush,” Cas replied. Dean shook his head and made his way to the driver’s side.

“So what’d you get me?” he asked Cas over the car as Cas reached the passenger side. They both climbed inside and settled into their seats before Cas opened the bag.

“So we have—your choice between sour cream and onion or barbeque chips,” Cas said, pulling both bags out. Dean reached out and grabbed the sour cream and onion bag and Cas silently rejoiced at the opportunity to have the barbeque chips.

“A Mountain Dew that will probably rot your teeth and give you diabetes,” Cas said, passing the bottle to Dean.

“Don’t judge me,” Dean said, holding the bottle close to him.

“Too late,” Cas deadpanned, but flashed Dean an innocent smile to reassure him that he was joking. He opened the bag and began pulling the pies out.

“And I didn’t think about the fact that you’d be driving and your hands might be preoccupied when I grabbed them, but I also got us both-”

“Pie!” Dean exclaimed, reaching for the apple one. He opened the little plastic container it came in and began frantically searching around for something.

“Fork?” Cas asked warily, holding the plastic utensil out. Dean snatched it from Cas’s hand before Cas could think to blink.

“Yes! Thank you!” Dean rejoiced, before taking the first bite of pie.

Cas watched in fascination as Dean’s eyes fluttered shut and let out a deep moan. Cas felt a pleasant simmer in his blood as he watched Dean swallow the pie.

“Oh my god, Cas. You are officially my best friend. Don’t tell Charlie,” Dean said, opening his eyes. Cas cleared his throat and tore his eyes away from Dean.

“Your secret is safe with me,” Cas said, opening his own pie.

“Love me some pie,” Dean muttered softly to himself as he finished the pie.

Cas was about halfway through his own slice when he heard Dean open up his bag of chips. He ate a couple before placing the bag down next to the unopened bottle of Mountain Dew.

“Alright. Just another hour or so to Lebanon,” Dean said, starting the car up. Cas nodded and relaxed into the seat.

“What’s your favorite kind of music, Cas?” he asked after a moment of silence. Cas shrugged.

“I grew up listening to mostly Christian radio and church music. I’m not really into music though,” he said honestly.

“Okay, well we’re changing that right now,” Dean said, cranking up the music. The familiar tune of Ramble On came through the speakers as Dean hit the gas and they tore off out of the parking lot towards Lebanon.

~*~*~

“Looks like Sam convinced Mom to go nuts on the Halloween decor again,” Dean said, causing Cas to lift his head up from his phone.

After nearly four hours, they finally pulled up to a simple, yellow house that was filled with elaborate Halloween decorations. There were orange lights twinkling near the doorway, paper ghosts hanging from the tree branches, and various gravestones littering the yard. On the steps leading to the front door were four pumpkins; one with a Jack Skellington face carved into it, one with a silhouette of a cat and a crescent moon, one with a weird face that looked a bit crooked, and one that had “Happy Halloween” written on it. Dean parked the car in the driveway and turned off the car.

“Alright, Mom is still probably here. Her shifts don’t typically start until seven-ish. And Sam will probably be a twerp. Ignore him,” Dean said. Cas nodded at him in understanding.

They climbed out of the car. The sound of the doors slamming shut must have announced their presence because, before they’d even reached the door, it was opening up and a lanky young boy was barrelling out towards them.

“Dean!” the boy exclaimed, crashing into Dean, who let out an audible “oof” before wrapping his arms around the kid.

“Heya Sammy,” Dean said affectionately. The kid pulled away, giving Dean a slight glare.

“It’s Sam ,” the kid said.

“Oh sorry, whatever. Sam it is then,” Dean said in a mocking tone.

“You know what. I missed you, but it was only because I forgot that you’re a jerk,” Sam said, turning around. Dean pulled him into a tight embrace and gave him a quick noogie.

“If I’m a jerk, then you’re a bitch,” Dean said. Cas watched the interaction between the brothers. It made his heart ache for his own brother. He often wondered what their relationship would have been like if they hadn’t been separated all those years ago.

“Sam, this is my friend Cas,” Dean said after letting Sam go.

“Nice to meet you, Sam,” Cas said.

“Hi,” Sam said, a little shy and uncertain. He turned to Dean and said, “Is he your friend? Or your friend ?” before Dean started chasing him around the yard.

“Get back here, bitch!”

“Not in this lifetime, jerk!”

“Boys! If you knock over any of those decorations I’ll skin you both alive,” a woman’s voice called from behind Cas. He turned and saw a blonde woman a little bit shorter than him watching the brothers. She turned to face him and gave him a welcoming smile.

“Hi there. I’m Mary,” she said.

“Hello. I’m Castiel. I’m Dean’s friend,” Cas said. He hadn’t realized how nervous he was about meeting Dean’s family until they were right in front of him.

“It’s nice to meet you. Would you like to come inside? I made some burgers for dinner, if you’d like,” Mary offered. Cas’s eyes lit up.

“I’d love to,” Cas said. Mary turned and started walking back towards the house.

“Boys! Burgers are ready!” she called. Sam and Dean both looked up from their spot on the lawn where Dean had tackled Sam into a pile of leaves and a wrestling match had ensued.

“Be there in a minute! Gotta remind Sammy here who’s boss,” Dean called back.

“It’s Sam !” Sam exclaimed, trying to get the upper hand on Dean.

Cas watched the two brothers for a moment before Mary said, “They could be at this for a while. Let’s go inside.” He followed her in the door which opened up to a comfortable living room with an aged tan carpet.

“Should I take my shoes off?” Cas asked standing in the entryway.

“Off or on, doesn’t matter. Just make yourself comfortable. Can I get you something to drink? We have Coke or Sprite. Lemonade if you don’t want anything carbonated?” Mary asked.

“Lemonade would be wonderful,” Cas said. Mary nodded before disappearing around the corner into what Cas assumed was the kitchen.

Cas took a seat on the couch, looking around the room that this family clearly spent a lot of time in. He wondered for the first time if most living rooms looked that lived in. His childhood home had a living room, but it was only really used during Christmas before Gabriel was kicked out and whenever someone came to visit. It had always felt detached to him.

“So are you in one of Dean’s classes?” Mary asked as she brought in two glasses of lemonade. Cas took one from Mary and took a quick sip.

“Well, Dean and I do share a couple of classes, but we actually met because we’re sharing the same dorm room,” Cas explained, fingers running up and down the cup in a soothing pattern.

“Oh! You’re his roommate,” Mary said. She looked as if she’d just found a missing puzzle piece to an image that Castiel wasn’t seeing. Cas paled a little at her tone, but she shook her head and reassured him. “I just mean, he has told me a little about you, but he never gave me a name or a description or anything.”

“Dean’s talked about me?” Cas asked, perking up a little at this new information.

“Once or twice,” Mary said with a mysterious smirk. Cas opened his mouth to respond to that, but the boys came crashing through the door.

“Alright, now that Sam’s been dealt with, you said something about burgers?”

~*~*~

The four of them sat around the table, a slightly awkward silence enveloping the room. Cas glanced up at Sam, who was sitting right across from him and who seemed to be sizing him up every now and then, before stealing a look at Dean sitting beside him, who seemed to be hyper-focused on his food. Cas cleared his throat a little before taking another bite of food.

“So are you guys dating?” Sam blurted out, causing Cas to suddenly inhale the bite he’d just taken.

“Sam!” Dean exclaimed as Cas began choking on a piece of meat stuck in his throat.

“What? It was just a question!” Sam defended himself. Dean reached over and gave Cas a hearty pat on the back.

“Are you alright?” Dean asked, hand resting on Cas’s shoulder. Cas gave a stuttered nod but continued coughing.

“Do you need Dean to give you the Heimlich?” Sam asked. Cas shook his head rapidly.

“Castiel, try a big cough to clear your throat,” Mary suggested. Cas took as deep a breath as possible and gave a hearty couple of coughs, as Dean patted his back. He felt whatever was in his throat dislodge itself. He sat back in relief for a moment.

“Deep breaths,” Mary said softly. Cas took a couple deep breaths before sitting up straight again. All three of the Winchesters were watching him with nervous eyes.

“Thank you,” he said in a breathy tone.

“Sam, why don’t you go refill Castiel’s lemonade?” Mary suggested, giving her youngest a look that almost dared him to object. Sam sighed and grabbed Cas’s cup, before disappearing into the kitchen.

“I’m so sorry about him,” Dean said, embarrassment written all over his face. Cas shook his head.

“No, don’t worry about it. It’s fine,” he said with a reassuring wave of his hand.

“No, it’s not. God, he’s such a little twerp,” Dean said, turning around to glare at the door to the kitchen.

“Maybe, but he’s your brother,” Cas said. Dean turned back to him, giving him a thoughtful look.

“Do you have any siblings, Castiel?” Mary asked.

“One older brother,” Cas said.

“What does he do?” Mary asked. Sam came back in with a Cas’s lemonade. He took it from Sam and muttered a quick thank you before taking a big gulp. He caught Dean’s concerned look, but he just swallowed his lemonade and set the glass down.

“I don’t know what he’s been up to lately. I haven’t heard from him in the last seven years,” Cas stated. Dean looked down at his plate for a moment.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Mary said. Cas was ready for her to start asking questions but instead, she changed the subject and asked, “What are you majoring in?”

Cas had been so prepared for the usual string of questions that followed him telling people about Gabriel, that the sharp turn had caused him to let out an unintelligible, “Uhh.”

“He’s a Religious Studies major,” Dean said with his mouth full of his burger.

“How’s that?” Mary asked.

“It’s, um, it’s fine, I guess,” Cas responded.

“Sounds boring,” Sam piped in.

“Yeah, a bit,” Cas nodded, grabbing a few fries off his plate.

“You don’t like it?” Dean asked, setting his burger down.

“I mean, it’s not bad. It’s just kind of boring,” Cas said, popping the fries into his mouth. He quickly chewed and swallowed them before adding, “I’m finding our Psychology class much more interesting.”

“Maybe that’s a field you should consider instead?” Mary suggested.

“I don’t think my parents would like that very much,” Cas said.

“I know I don’t know your parents, but maybe you should do something you enjoy rather than something they want you to do,” Mary said, popping a few fries into her own mouth. Cas had often wondered what it would be like to tell his parents that he was studying something that they didn’t agree with.

“Mom, aren’t you supposed to start work in an hour?” Sam asked. Mary looked at her wristwatch.

“Shit. You’re right. Alright, I have to go. Sam, I expect you to listen to Dean tonight. Dean, be nice to your brother. Castiel, it was wonderful meeting you,” Mary said as she stood up and grabbed her own dishes.

“See you tomorrow, Mom,” Sam said as Mary rushed into the kitchen to deposit her dishes next to the sink. The boys at the table listened as the backdoor shut. Dean turned to Sam.

“So Sammy, ready to go trick-or-treating?” he asked. Sam’s face instantly morphed into a sheepish expression.

“Yeah, about that…”

~*~*~

“This is not happening,” Dean muttered to himself as he and Cas sat on the couch, surrounded by a bunch of teenagers.

“I take it that this is not usually what people mean by trick-or-treating?” Cas asked, leaning a little closer to Dean so he didn’t have to shout over the music.

“Not even close,” Dean said. A crash could be heard in the back of the house, followed by a bunch of oooh-ing from the nearby teens. Dean dropped his head into his hands before he said, “Mom is going to kill me.”

Cas looked around and spotted Sam chatting with a blonde girl who was wearing a nurse costume that was far too revealing for anyone under the age of eighteen to wear. He kept scanning the room and saw a small group of boys throwing a football back and forth.

“Dean,” Cas said, tapping Dean’s leg. Dean looked up and Cas pointed to the group of boys. “They are getting that football awfully close to those pictures.”

Dean turned around and immediately tensed. Three pictures were sitting on a little table in the corner of the room; one of his father in his uniform, one of Dean and Mary holding a baby Sam the day that he’d had been born, and a picture of all four of them at the last Christmas they’d all spent together. Dean was quickly up on his feet, storming over to the kids with the football. Cas was quick to follow him.

“Hey!” he shouted over the music. He grabbed the football before one of the other kids could catch it. “No throwing this shit in the house. You wanna play ball, go out on the lawn.”

The kids sneered at Dean, grabbing the football from him before making their way to the door. Dean watched them all leave the house before Sam came over to him.

“Dude, what’s your problem?” Sam demanded.

“My problem? Are you kidding me right now, Sam? Those punks could’ve broken something!” Dean shouted, pointing to their small assortment of family pictures.

“Just chill out! Nobody’s breaking anything. We’re all just trying to have a good time and you’re sucking the fun out of everything,” Sam replied.

“Seriously Sam? Mom’s going to kill you. Shut this whole thing down right now, and I won’t rat you out to her,” Dean said. Sam narrowed his eyes.

~*~*~

“This is just until the party is over,” Sam said, shutting the door behind him. The uncomfortable sound of a lock turning sealed their fate.

“No! Sam! I swear to God, Sam!” Dean said, jiggling the handle to no avail. Cas looked around the room. It looked familiar in a way that he’d never experienced before.

“Who knew that those damn tweens would be so strong,” Dean said, making his way over to the bed.

“Is this your room?” Cas asked, touching the posters that were hanging on the walls.

“Yep,” Dean said, bouncing on his bed slightly. Cas turned toward him.

“Can I ask why your lock is on the outside of the door?” he asked. Dean shrugged.

“That was just how the door was when we moved in. Never really was an issue before now,” he said, laying back on his old bed. He lifted his hands up and rested them on his face before mumbling, “Mom’s gonna murder me.”

“Your mother will forgive you both. She loves you two,” Cas said.

Dean glanced up at Cas, who was standing beside his dresser, watching him. He scooted over a little bit and patted the bed. Cas smiled at that and found himself quickly joining Dean on the old mattress. He laid back and turned his head towards the boy who had quickly become the best friend he’d ever had.

“Do you think your mother really hated your brother?” Dean asked quietly.

“I know she did,” Cas replied simply.

“Do you think she’d really hate you, too?”

“To be quite honest, I kind of think she might hate me now,” Cas said honestly.

“So what do you have to lose?” Dean asked as his fingers found Cas’s own.

“I’m afraid to lose my family,” Cas said softly as his heart stuttered in his chest from the small contact.

“I’ve got a family that I’d be more than willing to share with you,” Dean responded, as he brought their joined hands up. He softly stroked each of Cas’s knuckles with his thumb.

“You said you didn’t want to be with me,” Cas pointed out.

“I said I didn’t want to be your dirty little secret. I’m not saying that we have to shout it from the rooftops, but I don’t want to hide it, either,” Dean said. Cas inched a little closer to Dean.

“I’m scared,” Cas whispered like a frightened child.

“What’s there to be scared of?” Dean asked. Cas didn’t know. He just knew he was scared. He looked down at their hands and thought about how right it felt. How it seemed like their hands were made to hold one another. Cas wondered, not for the first time, if maybe their bodies would fit together like they were made for one another, too.

“Can I kiss you, Cas?” Dean asked softly. Cas looked into Dean’s bright green eyes and felt his heart melt at the look of adoration that was being sent his way.

“Yes,” Cas said, feeling like he was choking on his held breath. Dean leaned forward and placed his lips on Cas’s.

The Kiss

And oh, Cas felt like he was drinking water for the first time after sitting under the sweltering sun for hours. It was like dipping your toes into a lake that was just the right amount of cold. Like getting a passing grade in a class that you were awful in. Kissing Dean felt like a huge weight was being lifted off of Cas. It wasn’t one of those incredibly passionate, borderline gross kisses that you saw in the movies. No, this kiss was shy. Just certain enough not to be considered uncertain. Chaste. Just the press of lips and a sea of emotions that Cas was almost certain he could drown in.

They pulled away slowly, grins forming on both of their faces. Dean scooted up right next to Cas and laid his head on Cas’s chest, grabbing Cas’s right hand and holding it with his left hand.

“This alright?” Dean asked. Cas wrapped his left arm around Dean’s back and gave a gentle hug.

“It’s perfect.”

Chapter Text

Cas woke the next morning to find Dean missing from the room. He glanced around and saw the door opened. He closed his eyes again, hoping that when he woke up again, Dean would be back with him.

“You piece of shit!” a loud, angry voice screeched, causing Cas to sit up immediately.

Memories of his mother beating Gabriel, shouting profanities and slurs at him, quickly flooded his mind. He knew Dean had once said that his parents were supportive of his sexuality, but maybe opening the door and actually seeing her son with another boy had driven Mary over the edge? Cas quickly scrambled up and made his way down the stairs.

“Come on, you worthless son of a bitch!” he heard Mary say, as he rounded the corner to the living room.

Cas entered, eyes wide with fear and anger, only to have his mind come to a screeching halt as it tried to process the image in front of him.

Sitting on the couch in front of the television was Mary Winchester, out of her scrubs and in a worn t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants, screaming at what Cas immediately recognized as Mario Kart. Rainbow Road, to be exact. And, by the looks of it, she’d just gone flying off the edge of the track.

Meanwhile, Dean was walking around the house, picking up trash and putting it in a bag that he was carrying, and Sam was scrubbing a suspiciously green spot on the carpet.

Everything was fine. Cas let out a shaky sigh of relief.

“Morning Cas,” Dean said, finally realizing that there was someone else in the room. Sam and Mary both turned to him too.

“Good morning, Castiel. Did you sleep well?” Mary asked. Cas nodded dumbly, still not sure how he was seeing what he was seeing.

“You alright?” Dean asked, coming a little closer. Cas nodded again.

“Yeah,” he choked out, looking back and forth between Mary and Dean. He crossed his arms before adding, “Yeah, I’m fine. Just heard the shouting. Got nervous for a second there.”

“Sorry about Mom. She gets way too invested in this game,” Dean said, jabbing his thumb in the direction of the television.

“Sorry, Castiel,” Mary said with a sheepish grin.

“It’s fine. I’m probably overreacting,” Cas said, looking down at the ground. Dean came even closer to him, so that there were only a few inches between the two of them. He reached up and grabbed Cas’s arm gently, making Cas look up at him.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Dean asked softly, his eyes filled with concern. Cas nodded.

“Yeah. I am,” he said confidently. Dean nodded and smiled.

“Well, good morning,” he said again, before leaning in and giving Cas a quick kiss. When he pulled away, Cas caught Mary looking at them with a warm smile on her face. He blushed a little and looked down.

“‘Just roommates’ my ass,” Sam grumbled from his spot on the floor.

“How’s that puke stain coming, Sammy?” Dean asked.

“It’s coming,” Sam replied, glaring at the carpet.

“You wouldn’t have to be cleaning at all if you hadn’t gone and thrown a party last night,” Mary said, crossing her arms.

“Bet you never expected Sam to pull such a stunt,” Dean said, looking over at Mary.

“No, it was definitely something I’d have pegged you doing,” she said, before standing up. “Now that everyone’s awake, I’m going to make some pancakes before you guys have to get back to school.”

“Thanks, Mom,” Dean said, grabbing Cas’s hand. After Mary left the room, Dean turned back to Cas with a smile on his face. “That wasn’t so hard now, was it?”

“No. But we’re surrounded by your family, who loves and accepts you,” Cas pointed out.

“The first step is always the hardest,” Dean countered. Cas sighed and nodded.

“You’re worth it,” he said softly. Dean’s beaming smile solidified Cas’s decision to stop hiding. It warmed him from the inside out and brought out his own matching grin. And right there, in that moment, Cas resolved to make Dean smile like that every single day for the rest of their lives.

~*~*~

“So, when are you going to tell me how long you two have been together?” Mary asked over breakfast, causing orange juice to shoot out of Cas’s nose. He wasn’t used to someone being so quick to the point about things. His own mother would beat around the bush for weeks before she’d confront him about anything. He began coughing from the unpleasant feeling of liquid coming out his nose.

“Mom!” Dean scolded, as he passed Cas a napkin.

“What?! I’m just curious,” Mary said, sending a playful smirk to her oldest child.

“It’s a recent thing,” Dean said, shyly glancing over at Cas.

“What took so long anyways? You’ve been mooning over him for weeks now,” Sam said, pointed his fork towards Cas.

“I haven’t been mooning,” Dean grumbled, poking at his pancakes.

“‘ Cas is so smart. You won’t believe what Cas said. Hey, have I told you about how my roommate Cas is just the most amazing person on the whole planet ,’” Sam mocked.

“Okay, I do not talk like that,” Dean said.

“Suuuure,” Sam said before taking a huge bite of his pancakes. Cas bit his lip as a grin threatened to spread across his face at Dean’s embarrassment.

“Well I’m sure your father will want to meet Castiel when he gets home,” Mary said.

“Yup. Dad will wanna make sure you’re not dating another loser like Michael,” Sam said, earning a hard glare from Dean.

“Maybe we could have a barbeque. Castiel, you’d be more than welcome to invite your folks to join us,” Mary suggested. Cas and Dean both shared a look before Cas shook his head.

“I don’t think they’d be interested,” he said.

“Why not?” Sam asked.

“They’re not really… supportive of same sex relationships,” Cas said gently.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Mary said after a beat of silence.

“That’s stupid,” Sam said.

“I agree, but that’s just how they think,” Dean said.

“So they don’t want you and Dean together?” Sam asked.

“They don’t know about it,” Cas said.

“And they don’t need to know about it. We’re not hiding anything, but we’re not gonna make Cas’s life difficult by telling his family either,” Dean said firmly.

“As long as you two are happy, I support the two of you completely,” Mary said.

“Thanks, Mom,” Dean said, smiling at his mother.

“Thank you, Mrs. Winchester,” Cas said.

“Please, call me Mary. And know that you’re always welcome here,” Mary said. Cas felt a warmth bloom in his heart at the immediate acceptance that he got from Mary.

“Thank you.”

~*~*~

Returning to school had been fairly uneventful, and Dean and Cas had spent the evening after arriving back at the dorms cuddled up in Dean’s bed watching movies. It wasn’t until their Writing class the next day that anyone even found out about them.

Cas had sat up a few rows from where Dean and Charlie typically sat, chatting with Anna, when Dean and Charlie arrived. Instead of stopping at his normal seat, Dean strolled right up to them and said a quick hello to Anna before bending down and pecking Cas on the lips.

“Mind if we sit up here with you two?” Dean asked as he pulled away, glancing at both a shocked Anna and a surprised Cas.

“Uh, yeah. Sure! No problem,” Anna said, gesturing to the seat beside Cas. Dean turned towards Charlie only to see the red head staring at them in shock.

“Come sit up here, Charlie,” Dean called, taking a seat beside Cas. The three of them watched as Charlie scrambled up the aisle and made her way to them.

“When did this happen?” she asked, pointing between Cas and Dean.

“Over the weekend,” Dean said confidenty, taking Cas’s hand in his own.

“Wow! Well, congratulations!” Charlie said.

“I think you two make a really cute couple,” Anna chimed in.

“Thank you,” Cas said, feeling the blush settle on his cheeks.

“I didn’t even know you were into dudes!” Charlie said, smacking Cas’s shoulder lightly.

“Well, I wasn’t exactly advertising that little tidbit,” Cas pointed out.

“True, but still! I thought my gaydar was excellent,” Charlie pouted, taking the seat next to Anna.

“It must just be Castiel, because my gaydar didn’t go off for him, either,” Anna added.

“He’s just the weird outlier,” Charlie concluded.

The class started shortly after and if the girls saw Dean and Cas leaning a little closer to each other and whispering to one another throughout the class, they didn’t comment on it.

Chapter Text

Coming out had been relatively easy for Cas. Most people on campus were either supportive or didn’t care at all. He’d run into one or two people around town who’d given him and Dean a glare or made some kind of slur as they passed them by but, for the most part, it was a non-issue.

Months passed, but Dean and Cas’s relationship only grew stronger. Cas was fine with people knowing that he was gay. As long as those people weren’t his parents, anyway.

Two weeks before spring break, Dean had approached Cas with the idea of driving up to Sioux Falls together and finally meeting Dean’s Uncle Bobby, Aunt Ellen, and cousin Jo. Cas had immediately agreed.

The initial meeting had been a little rocky, having been caught in the middle of a steamy makeout session by Bobby, but everything else had gone without a hitch. The more of Dean’s family Cas met, the more welcomed and loved he felt. These people genuinely seemed to care about Dean, but also Cas himself. It was almost surreal, and it had hit Castiel like a ton of bricks.

It was on the second to last night of their visit when Cas ended up breaking down.

A knock on his door startled him away from his book, Cat’s Cradle. He looked up to see Dean poke his head in. “Hey, just wanted to see if you were still up,” he said softly.

“Yeah, come on in,” Cas said, sitting up and making room on the bed.

“You were kinda quiet at dinner. Everything okay?” Dean asked, taking a seat on the edge of the bed.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just a little overwhelmed,” Cas confided.

“Why overwhelmed?” Dean asked.

“Because these people… they just met me and they already treat me like I’m part of the family. I don’t think my mother has ever treated me the way that Ellen has treated me,” Cas explained, tears springing to his eyes.

“C’mon, Cas. I’m sure that’s not true,” Dean said, grabbing Cas’s hand.

“No, it is. Trust me. Ellen? She’s an awesome mom. Your mom is an awesome mom. They’re both good mothers. My mom? No, Dean. She doesn’t come close to them,” Cas said emphatically. A few tears slipped down his face, which he hurriedly wiped away with the back of his hand. “I wish one of them was my mom instead of Naomi.”

“Hey, I told you before that I’ve got a family I’m willing to share. I’m sure Mom would go nuts with excitement if you were to start calling her ‘Mom,’” Dean said. Cas let out a watery laugh. “It’s like my Uncle Bobby always says: Family don’t end in blood. My family is your family as long as you’re willing to put up with Sam and his burrito farts.”

“You’re an awesome boyfriend, you know that?” Cas said quietly. Dean grinned.

“You don’t mention it nearly enough,” he said. Cas pulled him in for a chaste kiss. Once they parted, they rested their foreheads against one another for a few moments. “Let’s go out tomorrow night, just us,” Dean added.

“I’d really like that,” Cas said.

“Anywhere you want to go?” Dean asked. Cas shook his head.

“I don’t really know the area. Bring me to your favorite place here in Sioux Falls,” Cas said.

“You got it,” he said, diving in for another kiss from Cas. “Alright, time for bed. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“See you in the morning,” Cas responded softly before they kissed one last time and Dean left the room. Cas sighed and laid down in bed, feeling more content than he had in years.

~*~*~

The following evening found them at a cozy diner that Dean swore up and down had the best burgers he’d ever tasted. Cas was doubtful of the claim at first, but after taking a bite, found that Dean had been telling the truth.

“Oh my god,” Cas moaned after his first bite. “This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever had in my mouth.”

“Second most amazing thing?” Dean asked, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.

“No,” Cas deadpanned. Dean pouted a little before stealing a few of Cas’s fries in retaliation.

“How’s Sam?” Cas inquired, wiping his face with a napkin.

“Good. He’s still pretty bummed about Jess moving away, but he’s young. He’ll find someone new,” Dean said, dipping the fries in the small puddle of ketchup on his tray.

“That’s good,” Cas said, before looking out the window they were sitting beside.

“What’s on your mind, Sweetheart?” Dean asked, reaching for Cas’s hand.

“I got an email this morning,” Cas said.

“People still email?” Dean asked. He raised his hands in surrender after Cas sent him a clearly unimpressed look. “Sorry. You got an email. Who was it from?”

“Gabriel,” Cas said. Dean paused for a moment.

“Gabriel, your older brother, Gabriel?” he asked.

“The one and only,” Cas confirmed.

“Well, what did he say?” Dean asked.

“He wants to meet up. Says that he’d love to get together and catch up,” Cas said.

“That’s great!” Dean said. Cas grimaced slightly, before looking down at his plate. “Or is it?”

“It is, I just,” Cas paused. He looked back up at Dean, the worry evident on his face. “What do I say?”

“‘Hi, how are you?’” Dean suggested. Cas ripped his hand out of Dean’s so he could cross his arms and scowl. “Look, I don’t know .”

“Neither do I. That’s part of the problem,” Cas said, dropping his head into his hands.

“And the other part?” Dean asked. Cas lifted his head up out of his hands and looked Dean in the eye.

“What if my parents find out I’m talking to him?” Cas asked.

“Who cares? You’re an adult. You can do whatever you want to, Cas,” Dean said.

“I know ! I just… I’m still so mad at him for it,” Cas said, rubbing his forehead. Dean sighed and reached for Cas’s hand again.

“Your parents kicked him out,” Dean pointed out.

“I know. But I just… why couldn’t he have just pretended for a little bit longer?” Cas asked nobody in particular.

“Cas, not everyone wants to live in the closet,” Dean pointed out.

“I know, I know, I know. I understand why . But I was just a kid when he left. I know he didn’t leave on his own accord, but he still left. And I don’t know if I can forgive him,” Cas explained.

“No matter what you choose to do, I will support you one hundred and fifty percent,” Dean said. Cas gave him a small smile.

“Thank you,” he said softly.

“Now,” Dean said, pointing to the burger on Cas’s plate. “Finish your food. Movie starts at 8 and I don’t want to miss it.”

“Of course, Dean,” Cas said, rolling his eyes slightly. But he smiled nonetheless and took a huge bite of his burger.

~*~*~

“I can’t say that I am a big fan of it,” Cas said honestly as he and Dean left the theater, hand in hand.

“Dude, it was Star Wars,” Dean said.

“It was boring,” Cas said.

“But it’s Star Wars !” Dean exclaimed.

“I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t get into it,” Cas said.

“Alright, those are fighting words,” Dean declared before he turned and grabbed Cas by the waist and hiked him over his shoulder.

“Dean! What are you doing?! Put me down!” Castiel protested as Dean took off running down the parking lot. By the time Dean reached the car, they were both breathless; Cas from laughing and Dean from running while carrying Cas.

“You’re lucky I like you so much, otherwise we would have a problem with you not liking Star Wars,” Dean said, putting his hand on Cas’s cheek.

“Maybe I was just too distracted by the person I was sitting next to. Maybe I could learn to appreciate it a little more if I watched again,” Cas said.

“You flirtin’ with me, Cas?” Dean asked, grinning like the Cheshire cat. Cas just mirrored his grin and pulled him into a deep kiss.

“Castiel?” a voice called out. Like a bucket of ice water had been poured on them both, Dean and Cas practically leapt away from each other. They looked over and Cas’s face visibly paled.

“A-aunt Amara. How are you?” Cas asked.

“I’m good,” she said, giving him a critical once-over. He felt his hand twitch slightly. She looked over at Dean and gave him just as critical of a look, before turning her attention back to Castiel.

“Are your parents aware that you are here? Charles mentioned something about you staying at school this past week,” Amara informed them. Cas felt a lump in his throat and looked down at the pavement. Amara nodded at the lack of response. “I see.”

“I’m Dean,” Dean said, offering his hand to her. She only looked at him for another moment, before turning back to Castiel.

“It was nice seeing you, Castiel,” Amara said, her voice icy with accusation. Castiel nodded as she turned away from them.

After she was out of hearing distance, Dean came up to Castiel. He placed his hands on his shoulders and started talking. Castiel couldn’t make out what he was saying though. The blood rushing around his head was making everything seem so quiet. His rapidly beating heart was all he could hear.

“Get in the car,” he choked out, getting Dean to immediately stop talking. He nodded and moved to the driver’s side of the car. Cas opened the passenger side and climbed in.

The ride back to Bobby and Ellen’s was a blur. It could’ve taken them twenty minutes or two hours. It didn’t really matter to Castiel. All he knew was that when he seemed to come back to himself after zoning out, they were sitting in the driveway and Dean was turning off the car. They sat in the silence for a minute.

“My parents will know by the morning,” Castiel said softly.

“We’ll figure this out, Cas,” Dean said.

“There’s nothing to figure out, Dean. Once they know, they’re going to ruin everything,” Castiel said.

“So we won’t let them,” Dean urged.

“It’s pointless, Dean!” Castiel yelled, stunning Dean into silence. There were no night birds singing. There were no crickets chirping. Just the sound of Dean and Castiel breathing.

“When you say, ‘It’s pointless,’” Dean started. Cas turned his head to look at Dean, who looked like holding back his own anger. “Do you mean that getting your parents to see reason is pointless? Or fighting for us is pointless?”

“Both,” Castiel said firmly.

The silence between the two of them was deafening.

Dean nodded slowly, before opening his door and climbing out. Castiel watched as Dean shut the door and quickly made his way up to the house. He didn’t want to go in there, with Dean’s family all being there, knowing that he had just broken Dean’s heart. Cas felt a burning sensation behind his eyes. He laid his head against the headrest and closed his eyes, letting the tears run freely.

He’d just made the stupidest decision of his life. He knew it.

Chapter Text

The ride back to school was uncomfortable, to say the least. Castiel had slept in the car their final night at Bobby and Ellen’s and was more than ready to get out and stretch by their second hour on the road. He wasn’t sure what he’d been expecting of Dean, but to find the normally upbeat and chatty boy so quiet and closed off made Castiel want to beat himself with a hammer.

He knew that he’d spoken out of fear, but it was also true. His parents would most likely have him transfer to a school closer to home, or to a Christian college. And if he bothered to demand to stay, they’d just stop paying for school. Maybe they’d disown him altogether like they did with Gabriel.

Gabriel. He’d sent him an email the night before, telling Gabriel that he’d reach out when he was ready to speak to him. Maybe when the shit wasn’t in the process of hitting the fan.

“Do you want something to eat?” Dean asked quietly.

“Uh, sure. Where were you thinking of stopping?” he asked cautiously. Dean had been quiet. From Castiel’s experience, a quiet Winchester was usually a dangerous one.

“I was just thinking about going through a McDonald’s drive-thru. Get this road trip over as quickly as possible,” Dean said.

“You hate McDonald’s breakfast,” Castiel pointed out. Dean just shrugged as he kept his eyes on the road. “We don’t have to go there. We can stop somewhere else.”

Without any warning, Dean veered over to the shoulder of the road and threw the car into park. He unbuckled his seatbelt and turned fully towards Castiel. They watched each other for a moment, uncertainty in both of their eyes.

“Did you mean what you said last night?” Dean asked suddenly. Castiel froze. He’d been expecting Dean to keep on avoiding the conversation. He wasn’t prepared to actually be questioned.

“My parents aren’t going to let me stay at KU anymore, Dean,” Castiel said, almost begging him to understand.

“You’re an adult, Cas. What do you want to do?” Dean asked.

“Dean, do you realize what you’re asking me to do? You’re asking me to turn my back on my family, on the beliefs I grew up with, all for the sake of some romance,” Castiel stated.

“So is that all this was? Just some romance? Some fling with your cute roommate because ‘ hey, mom and dad aren’t around, so I can finally be gay. Oh, but once someone finds out, I can toss him aside ,’” Dean mocked, climbing out of the car.

Castiel felt his blood boil quickly as he was consumed with anger. He immediately opened his door and followed Dean out.

“That’s not what I meant, Dean!” Cas argued.

“That’s exactly what you meant, Castiel!” Dean shouted back.

“This is not as black and white as you’re wanting it to be!” Castiel exclaimed.

“Yes, it is! Yes, it fucking is!” Dean exclaimed. Castiel could see the tears in his eyes and felt his heart break at the mere sight. He took a deep breath, his anger fading away as quickly as it had come on.

“It’s not, Dean,” Castiel said softly.

“Yes, it is! Either you fight for us or you don’t!” Dean shouted. Castiel watched as Dean fought to catch his breath from his outburst. “What’s it gonna be?”

Castiel stared Dean in the eyes for a few minutes, sizing one another up for a moment, before Castiel let his gaze fall to the ground. Dean nodded, knowing that this was his answer. He turned away from Castiel and put his hands on his hips as he tried to process the information.

“I’m sorry, Dean,” Castiel said softly. Dean just nodded a few times before turning around. He marched over to the driver’s seat, opened the door, and climbed in wordlessly. Castiel quickly followed behind. Once they were both seated, Dean hit the gas, and they went tearing down the road, breakfast completely forgotten.

~*~*~

Returning to the dorm was even more uncomfortable than the car ride. They’d arrived only to find Castiel’s parents waiting for them in front of their dorm room.

“I take it Aunt Amara called you?” Castiel asked once they were close enough.

“How dare you embarrass us like that, Castiel,” Naomi hissed. Castiel looked down at the ground.

“I’m sorry,” he said softly.

“Go in and pack what you can. We can come back for the rest of your things,” Chuck said gently. Castiel nodded and went to unlock the door. Dean stood off to the side, feeling more uncomfortable than ever before.

“You are to never speak to Castiel again,” Naomi said, pointing at Dean.

“I won’t,” Dean said, his voice cracking slightly. Naomi turned her nose up slightly, before following Castiel into the dorm room. Dean and Chuck stood outside, the uncomfortable silence surrounding the entire hallway. Dean swore he saw three students start to walk down the hall, but upon feeling the tension, had decided upon a longer path.

“I’m sorry about Naomi,” Chuck said softly. Dean glanced over to see Chuck leaning against the wall on the other side of the dorm room door. “She’s very… passionate… about her beliefs.”

Dean snorted. “Is that what you call it?”

They let the silence settle in between them again, only to have the door open again. Castiel walked out first, followed closely by Naomi. She sent him a hard glare.

“We know what Castiel has left behind, and should we find any of it to be missing, we will be expecting you to replace it,” she said.

“Mother, leave him alone,” Castiel said with no real bite. Naomi just scoffed. Castiel took a step towards Dean and held his hand out to him. Dean wordlessly opened his hand and watched as a key was placed gently in his hands. “In case you need a spare.”

“Thanks, Cas,” Dean choked out.

“Let’s go,” Naomi announced, grabbing Castiel’s arm and guiding him away. Chuck gave Dean one final sympathetic smile before following his wife and son to the elevator. Once the doors shut, Dean turned to the dorm room and went inside.

Dean hadn’t realized how much of an imprint Cas had left on the dorm room. Seeing the half-empty closet, the desk that they shared in between their nightstands cleared off, and the odd little knick knacks Castiel had added to Dean’s bookshelf missing struck something deep inside Dean’s heart. He dropped his duffle bag down and pulled out his phone. He quickly scrolled through his contacts and hit the familiar name.

“Hello?” Charlie’s voice asked through the phone.

“Hey. I’m back,” Dean said.

“It’s about time!” Charlie exclaimed. “I was afraid you two were gonna elope and then I’d miss your wedding.”

“Yeah,” Dean said, his voice cracking as he felt the sudden sting of tears behind his eyes.

“What’s wrong?” Charlie asked, growing serious.

“Can I crash in your room tonight?” Dean asked.

“Yeah, of course,” Charlie said.

“Great. I’ll be there in a few,” Dean said. He grabbed his duffle again, not bothering to exchange any clothes or anything, and immediately left his dorm, slamming the door closed.

~*~*~

Castiel lay on his bed in his childhood room with his arm draped over his eyes, listening to his parents argue in the room next to him. He couldn’t quite tell what they were arguing about this time, but it made him yearn for his peaceful room with his wonderful boyfriend back at school. Everything about that house, all the sour memories that came flooding back the moment he stepped across that threshold, made him yearn for his quiet room and loving boyfriend.

And when his mother declared that he’d be going to see Pastor Lewis next week to “ help wash him of his sins ,” he’d yearned more than ever for that peacefully quiet dorm room, where he and his wonderfully loving boyfriend would sit and do their homework, or read side by side, or watch cheesy movies. He missed those things now more than ever.

But the dorm was no longer his room. It hadn’t been since he’d unhappily moved out last week.

And Dean was no longer his boyfriend.

He let out a miserable sniffle. He’d known that this was going to be the outcome if he were to give in and date Dean. But it had been so nice while it lasted.

If only it had lasted.

He waited a little longer, until the house grew quiet. He lifted his arm and saw that it was nearing one in the morning.

Castiel sat up and pulled his laptop over to him. He quickly went into his email and pulled up the one he’d received from Gabriel that morning.

Call me whenever you want.

Castiel pulled his phone out and dialed the number on his phone. It rang once. Twice. Three times. Castiel was about to hang up when-

“Hello?”

“Gabriel?” Castiel choked out, hearing his brother’s voice for the first time in what felt like forever.

“Heya Cassie,” Gabriel said softly. Castiel let out a quiet sob that he didn’t realize he’d been holding in. “Hey, it’s alright kiddo. It’s all going to be fine.”

“No, it’s not,” Castiel choked out.

“What’s going on, Castiel?” Gabriel asked. And just like that, it was as if Gabriel had never left.

Castiel completely bared his soul, telling Gabriel about how he had always known he’d liked boys. How he’d fallen for his roommate. How everything had been going so perfectly until the day before when Amara had seen them.

“Cassie, I know exactly what you’re going through,” Gabriel said.

“Mother beat and disowned you,” Castiel pointed out. He grimaced at the bluntness of his delivery, but Gabriel didn’t even falter

“Yeah, she beat and disowned me, but she tried to get me to ‘ repent my sins’ too. I was supposed to sit down with Pastor Lewis, too,” Gabriel said.

“What did you do?” Castiel asked.

“I went and made out with my boyfriend in front of the church,” Gabriel informed him. Cas couldn’t help the bubble of laughter that burst out of him.

“That’s pretty badass, Gabriel,” he said.

“Yeah, well, I was born to be a badass. And so were you, Cassie,” Gabriel said. Castiel looked down at his bedding, playing with a thread that was coming loose. “Look kiddo, our mother? She doesn’t care about us. She doesn’t care about anyone but herself. That’s, unfortunately, the reality of the situation. If she did love us, she’d still accept us. Even if what we were doing were sins to her, she’d still love us regardless.”

“What about Dad, then?” Castiel challenged. Gabriel paused for a moment.

“You can’t tell anyone, particularly Mom, that I told you this. Hell, do yourself a favor and just don’t mention this phone call to Mom. But Dad and I still talk,” Gabriel admitted.

“You and Dad have been talking this whole time?!” Castiel exclaimed.

“Hey! What did I just say? Keep this quiet! Now shut up and let me explain!” Gabriel ordered. Castiel huffed in frustration but remained quiet. “Dad never agreed with Mom disowning me. But our entire family, both her side and his, agreed that it was the right move to make. So Dad kept in contact with me.”

“Why not me?” Castiel asked.

“You were a child, still. And we really didn’t know at the time if you would accept me or not. It wasn’t until everything went down this last summer that Dad gave me your email,” Gabriel said.

“So what took you so long?” Castiel asked.

“I was scared,” Gabriel explained.

“I guess I can understand that,” Castiel admitted. The brothers were silent for a moment before Gabriel let out a loud yawn. “I suppose I should let you get to bed.”

“Yeah, unfortunately, they still expect us gays to work and pay taxes and shit like that,” Gabriel joked.

“Gross,” Castiel said.

“Tell me about it,” Gabriel replied. Castiel opened his mouth to wish Gabriel a good night, before Gabriel said, “This new boy. The roommate. You love him?”

“More than anything.”

“Don’t let Mom ruin this for you, then,” Gabriel advised. Castiel bit his lip, looking down at the laptop on his bed.

“Thank you, Gabriel,” Castiel said softly.

“Don’t mention it. Really. Don’t.”

They bid each other a good night, before hanging up. Castiel sat on the bed, staring at the phone in his hand, feeling overwhelmed with the information he’d just received. He decided that for now, he needed to get some sleep. He’d deal with everything else in the morning.

Chapter Text

“Castiel?”

A voice pierced through the fog his mind was in. Cas turned his head back to the man in front of him. Pastor Lewis had was looking at him with an expectant look on his face.

“Sorry, what?” Cas asked.

“Castiel, I understand that you have fallen under the Devil’s spell. We just want you to come back into the loving arms of Jesus Christ. That’s why you’re here. Your parents and I; we all want to get you back on the path to Heaven,” Pastor Lewis said, his voice carrying a tone of pity in it.

It had been a week since Cas and Gabriel had spoken on the phone and they’d spent the last week texting one another.

“Look, Pastor Lewis, I get that you’re trying to help me, but… but what if it’s not actually a sin? Wouldn’t God want me to be happy?” Cas asked.

“Of course God wants you to be happy,” Pastor Lewis said. “But he doesn’t want you to turn to sin in order to find the happiness.”

“But what if it’s not a sin ?” Cas asked again, a little more firmly.

“It is a sin, though, Castiel,” Pastor Lewis reiterated, his tone insistent. Cas pursed his lips at the lack of answer. He felt his blood start to boil at having someone avoid his question.

“But-”

“There are no buts here, Castiel. It is a sin . And this boy? This Dean Winchester? He’s going to burn in Hell. Do you really want to burn with him? Or do you want to end up in paradise with your family? The people who actually love you?” Pastor Lewis asked. Cas felt his eye twitch. He was sick of this.

“No, you know what? I don’t want to end up in paradise with them. If that’s what paradise is? A place filled with bigots and zealots who use the Bible to further their own agendas? No thanks, I’ll pass. I’d rather burn with Dean Winchester in Hell,” Cas said.

“Castiel-”

“No! Don’t you get it ? Being with Dean? That is my Heaven! Being in love with him, being loved by him ? That’s what Heaven is! God made me who I am. He knew my path from the day I was born and he knew that I’d choose Dean, and he loves me regardless. And if he doesn’t, then he’s not the God I was raised to believe. I tried—God knows, I tried—to be a good Christian. To do what the Bible said. To not sin. To be a good person. But loving someone is not a sin!” Cas exclaimed, his face a shade of red it had never been before, his nostrils flaring wildly. He couldn’t remember a moment in his life he’d felt as passionately about anything as he did this. As he did Dean . He felt his fingernails digging into his palms as he stood and strode to the door.

“Don’t you dare walk out that door, boy,” Pastor Lewis said, the ire in his tone obvious.

“Or what? I’m already going to Hell. What could be worse than that?” Cas asked, staring down Pastor Lewis with fire in his gaze. The man stared back at him silently. Cas scoffed and nodded. “Yeah, that’s what I thought,” he murmured before walking out the door.

~*~*~

Cas walked into his home and immediately made his way up the stairs and into his bedroom. He threw open his closet door, gathering the remaining shirts from their hangers. He was suddenly grateful his father had suggested he’d retrieve his clothes from the dorm later. Cas reached up to the top of his closet and pulled down the suitcase. He flung it open and placed it on the bed before unceremoniously placing his clothing in there. He grabbed a few books that he didn’t want to leave behind and a picture of him and Gabriel that he placed carefully in the suitcase before zipping it up.

“Castiel?” he heard the cold voice of his mother. He turned and saw Naomi standing at the door, her hands on her hips.

“Mother,” he regarded her coolly, before turning back to his closet to grab his duffle bag.

“What are you doing, Castiel?” she asked him, taking a step into his room.

“I’m going home,” Cas said bluntly.

“Dear, you are home,” Naomi said, her tone bordering on condescending.

“The dorms, mother. I’m going back to the dorms,” he said stiffly as he began grabbing items from his room that he wanted to keep, placing them into the duffle bag.

“You’re not going back there, Castiel,” Naomi said.

“Yes I am,” Cas said firmly, before turning to look her in the eye. “I’m leaving, and there’s nothing you can say or do to stop me.”

“We don’t have to pay your tuition anymore, Castiel. This semester will be the last we will take care of if you go back to that boy,” Naomi threatened.

“So stop. I’ll figure out how to get by,” Cas said bluntly, zipping up his duffle bag. He threw it over his shoulder and grabbed his suitcase before leaving the room.

“Castiel! Castiel!” Naomi called after him. He reached the stairs and Naomi called out, “If you take one step out that door, you are no longer my son! You leave, don’t you dare come back!” Cas paused for a moment, before turning to Naomi.

“Go ahead. Disown me. I’ve already disowned you,” he informed her.

“You’re ruining your entire life, Castiel!” Naomi exclaimed.

“I really, really , don’t care,” Cas said, before turning back around and walking down the stairs. He turned towards the front door and saw Chuck standing in front of the door. Cas paused. His father and his brother were the two people he’d miss the most. Everyone else was shit. But he had to do this. He couldn’t live the lie they wanted him to live anymore. Cas took a deep breath and continued over to his father.

“Castiel,” Chuck regarded him quietly.

“Chuck,” Cas said softly. Chuck looked him up and down for a moment.

“Do you know what you’re doing, Son?” Chuck asked the young Novak. Cas shook his head.

“Not a clue. But I can’t find it in myself to give a rat’s ass anymore,” he said honestly. Chuck looked at him thoughtfully for a moment. He glanced up at the top of the stairs to see Naomi watching them carefully, before looking back into Cas’s eyes.

“I’ll give you a ride then,” Chuck said, before turning and opening the front door.

“Charles! Castiel! Stop!” Naomi called.

“Let’s go,” Chuck said, ushering Cas out the door. They got into the car and saw the front door open and Naomi rush out. Chuck reversed out of the driveway as fast as possible, before driving off towards the college.

They sat in silence for a minute or two, before Cas finally turned to Chuck and said, “Why are you helping me?”

“Because I already lost one son to Naomi’s narrow-minded views. I wasn’t about to lose my other one,” Chuck said. It was silent for a moment before Chuck continued with, “I don’t care if you’re gay, Castiel. I care whether or not you’re happy.” Cas blinked at him in surprise, before turning to gaze out the window.

“I don’t know. I love Dean, but maybe I’m crazy. Abandoning my family over something that might not even last? It’s reckless,” Castiel said, the doubt creeping into his mind and heart.

“That’s just your mother talking,” Chuck said reassuringly.

“Maybe she’s right,” Castiel said softly. It was silent for a moment before Chuck cleared his throat.

“Have I ever told you about Becky Rosen?” he asked.

“No, I don’t think so,” Castiel replied, shaking his head.

“She was this girl I dated in college before I began dating your mother. She was… God, she was a lot of things. She was full of life, funny, smart in her own way. She was also bat-shit crazy,” Chuck said, pulling a smile out of Cas. He’d never seen his father talk so candidly about his life before marriage.

“Why are you telling me this?” Castiel asked.

“Well, I think she was the only girl I’ve ever been in love with. And even though I firmly believe that she was clinically insane, she was also just really good at bringing out my own kind of crazy. And that scared my parents. And they told me that I needed to stop seeing her. Settle down with someone a little more ‘sensible.’ By sensible, they obviously meant someone who they approved of. And I listened to them,” Chuck said. Castiel was quiet. He couldn’t think of anything to say.

“I don’t regret it,” Chuck continued. “I didn’t love Naomi, but she and I grew to tolerate one another. On our best days, I’d even go so far as to say that we’re friends. She gave me two of the greatest gifts I could’ve asked for. You and Gabriel both make me so incredibly proud and I love you both more than I could ever possibly express. But I often wonder what would’ve happened if Becky and I had a fighting chance.”

“Dad… I don’t understand,” Castiel said softly.

“I think the point I’m trying to make is that, love… it makes us all bat-shit crazy. And if it doesn’t, you’re not doing it right,” Chuck said, glancing at his son, a smile gracing his face. Cas felt his heart swell at the acceptance his father was giving him. Maybe Gabriel wasn’t able to be here anymore, and maybe his extended family and his own mother would disown him, but Cas knew his father was on his side, and that was enough for him.

~*~*~

They pulled up to the campus an hour later and Cas could feel the knots in his stomach. What if Dean had moved on? What if this was going to go terribly? Cas shook his head slightly, hoping he could shake out the worries that were bouncing around in his mind.

“You’re going to be okay, Cas,” Chuck said reassuringly. Cas nodded and opened up the door. Chuck climbed out with him and helped get his suitcase and duffle out of the back seat. Chuck pulled Cas into a tight embrace for a moment before pulling away and giving him a reassuring smile.

“Go get your man,” Chuck said. Cas smiled and nodded before turning and walking into the dorm. He made his way past the common room, determined to reach his dorm, before he heard a voice calling his name. He turned and saw Charlie marching up to him.

“Castiel! You’re back!” she said, surprise evident in her tone.

“Yeah. I’m back. And I’m here to stay if Dean’ll have me,” he said honestly. Charlie smiled for a moment before melting to one of concern.

“Your family though? Aren’t they going to be mad?” she asked.

“Oh, I’m sure. Naomi is furious. My dad though, he’s the one who brought me back here,” he explained.

“I’m sorry,” Charlie said softly, but Cas just shook his head reassuringly.

“No need to be sorry. I’m not going to change who I am just because of their close-minded views. It’s just not who I am anymore,” he said. Charlie smiled before pulling him into a bone crushing hug.

“Good to have you back, Cas,” she whispered. Cas wrapped his arms around her and gave her a brief squeeze in return. They pulled away after a moment and Charlie cleared her throat and straightened her back. “Alright, get going. Dean’s in the room. I’m sure he will be surprised to see you. Good luck,” she said, shooing him off with her hands. Cas smiled and turned back to continue his short trip to the dorm room.

He finally reached room 313 and lifted his hand. He paused for a brief moment, before knocking five times. He waited but was only greeted by silence. He wondered if maybe Dean was out, but Charlie had said he was in. He knocked five more times.

“Go away, Charlie! I said I’m fine!” Dean’s muffled voice called through the door. Cas grabbed the handle and gave it a quick twist, only to find it was locked. He went to pull out his key, only to remember that he’d given it back to Dean the day after he’d moved out. He felt a spark of irritation course through him, at both himself and Dean’s stubbornness.

“Dean Winchester, you’d better open this fucking door,” he growled quietly to himself before he began rapidly knocking on the door, feeling his knuckles start aching after the ninth knock. He was briefly considering calling out to Dean, but the door swung open by a very angry Dean the very second he opened his mouth.

Cas watched the anger morph into heartbreak only to quickly turn into confusion.

“Cas?” Dean rasped.

“Hello, Dean,” he said softly, letting go of his own irritation. He watched as the walls came back up around Dean, as he crossed his arms in front of him.

“Are you here for the rest of your things?” Dean asked, gesturing towards the suitcase. Cas shook his head.

“No. I’m home,” he said softly. He saw the hope spark up in Dean’s eyes.

“No, Cas, you can’t. Your family-”

“Are going to get along just fine without me,” Cas finished.

“But your mother-”

“Can go rot in Hell for all I care,” Cas interrupted again.

“You don’t mean that,” Dean argued.

“Don’t I?” Cas asked, daring to walk into the room.

“You said you had to be there for your mom. Your brother isn’t there, so you had to be the one she could rely on,” Dean reminded him. Cas nodded.

“Yeah, I did say that,” he conceded, closing the door behind them. He didn’t actually know how this would go, but the last thing he wanted was an audience.

“What changed?” Dean asked, taking a seat on his bed.

“I got a phone call from Gabriel last week. I learned a lot from that call,” Cas said, taking a seat on the perfectly-made bed that he’d left behind three weeks prior. He looked down at his hands, before looking back up at Dean. “He helped me realize a few things. The main thing being that, if my mother - the person who is supposed to love me unconditionally - can’t love me for who I am, then why the fuck should I be there for her? She has people who can do that. I’m under no obligation to change myself for anyone.”

“Holy shit,” Dean said softly. Cas cocked his head in confusion. “You just swore.”

“Seriously? I tell you about this epiphany I had and all you pick up is that I swore?” Cas asked, exasperated.

“You said fuck,” Dean said in awe. Cas shook his head and stood up, walking towards the door.

“Where are you going?” Dean asked, standing up.

“I came back to get down on my knees and beg you to take me back, but if you’re too busy being shocked that I swore-”

Dean cut Cas off by pushing him into the door and kissing him hard. Cas wrapped his arms around Dean’s neck as he felt Dean’s arms wrap around his waist. They pulled apart after a few seconds and rested their foreheads together.

“You really think this is going to be worth it?” Dean asked softly.

“I know that you’re worth it,” Cas replied.

“You’re crazy, you know that?” Dean asked playfully.

“A wise man once told me that love makes us all bat-shit crazy and, if it doesn’t, you’re not doing it right,” he said.

“My god, two swear words in one night. Next thing I know, you’re gonna be strolling up in here with a tattoo and a lip piercing,” Dean purred into Cas’s ear.

“I was thinking tongue, actually,” Cas said, wiggling his eyebrows.

“Oh my god, who the fuck are you? You’re not Castiel!” Dean exclaimed playfully.

“You’re right,” Cas said, capturing Dean’s lips in a quick kiss. “I’m just Cas.”