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Seaside Rendezvous

Chapter Text

Dean sits on his board, the gentle sway of the water rocking him back and forth as he watches the sun climb over the horizon. He doesn’t normally go surfing so early, but he’s in the mood today and he’s not about to deny himself the small pleasure of surfing on his own. Tourist season’s coming soon, and then the ocean will be crowded with strangers. 

Not that Dean minds the strangers. They’re interesting. Most of them are pale and obviously can’t swim or surf worth shit. Dean makes a decent living teaching them to surf, and he’s certainly not about to turn that down just to have the beach to himself. Variety is the spice of life and all that, he knows he’d get bored if there wasn’t the constant influx of people here. 

A curious head breaks the surface of the water. Dean doesn’t have to look to know it’s a seal, and more than that, that it’s Sam; the dark brown fur, shaggy even in this form, is a dead give away.

Dean leans back, resting his weight on his arms, and nods to the front of his board. Sam obediently swims over, briefly disappearing under the waves before reappearing and scrambling on top. The board tips a little under his weight; if Dean hadn’t spent half his life on the water, his balance might be thrown enough to fall off, but as it is he barely moves. 

Sam stares at him expectantly, and Dean gives a half shrug. “I couldn’t sleep. Good weather, nice waves, and being awake? Why wouldn’t I come out?”

There’s more to it than that, if Dean’s being completely honest, but he’s rarely that. He doesn’t want to admit to Sam how lonely he’s been since he and Eileen finally mated, or that he’s growing tired of the one night stands with cute locals and mysterious tourists. It isn’t exactly easy to find someone who’s in the life or that’s able to understand it if they’re not. Sam completely lucked out with Eileen, and Dean’s never had that kind of luck.

And it’s way easier to deflect if Sam can’t actually talk, so he takes advantage while he can. 

Even in this form, Sam’s bitch face is evident. He squeaks in protest, noises Dean doesn’t need much effort to interpret right now. 

“Hey look,” Dean says and abruptly jumps to his feet. Sam clutches at the board and nearly falls off anyway. “Good wave comin’ in. Gonna ride it to shore. See ya at home later, yeah?”

He rocks back and forth until Sam has no choice but to dive back into the water, and then angles towards the incoming wave. It’s the coward’s way out for sure, but oh well.

It is a good wave, after all. It’d be a shame to miss it.

~ ~ ~

“This is absurd,” Cas grumbles and fumbles for the hotel key card that he could have sworn he put in his pocket. All of his pockets are suspiciously empty, so he shuffles his bags around to check in there. His phone is pressed between his ear and shoulder, faintly too warm. “Why couldn’t I just stay at home?”

“Because the Staycation thing is BS,” Gabe says over the line. “You’d just spend it organizing your books or cleaning out the attic or something. Seriously, dude, you need a real vacation.”

Finally finding his key, Cas sighs in relief and manages to get into the room on his first try. The scenic view of the ocean only makes his shoulders sag. “I don’t even know how to surf, and that appears to be the activity of choice around here.”

“Then find a hot local to teach you. Or just chill on the beach. Or get drunk at a bar. Just do something . I’m a thousand miles away and you’re boring me to death. You gotta live a little, kiddo.”

Cas doesn’t particularly disagree—it does feel like he’s just living to work right now—but that doesn’t mean he approves of his brother’s meddling. 

“Why not a mountain lodge instead?” he says, more for the sake of arguing than anything else. Letting Gabe think he’s won without even putting up a fight is never a good idea. “Why the beach? Why an island?”

“Because you’re pale as fuck, bro. And a mountain lodge would just let you avoid people.”

Forced socialization was never something he’s enjoyed, and Cas doesn’t appreciate it now either. But admittedly, Gabe did a good job picking this place. It’s beautiful and already the salty air has been doing him good. Two weeks might be excessive (as all things Gabe does tend to be), but Cas is confident he will find the resort pleasant enough. 

“Hmm,” Cas hums. He’s bored of the conversation now that there’s a bed in front of him. Jetlag’s a bitch, and he’s finished his necessary complaining. 

“Don’t sleep the whole day away,” Gabe scolds him, as though he knows exactly what Cas plans. “At least treat yourself to a nice dinner. I’ll check back in later, make sure you’re actually giving this vay-cay a chance.”

“Great. Even out here I can’t escape you.”

“You know you love me. Go take your nap, but then get out there and make some bad decisions. Make your big bro proud, would ya?”

The line immediately goes dead, and Cas flops onto the bed. Bad decisions can wait, he needs a nap.  

Chapter Text

Cas doesn't mean to sleep long, but when he wakes up from his nap, his room is painted in the unmistakable pink and orange hues of dusk. He briefly considers ducking back under the covers and waiting until morning to reemerge, but his stomach growls. He ignores it for a couple minutes and then forces himself out of bed.

May as well eat.

The main restaurants at the resort are closed or booked full, so he ends up at a tiki bar overlooking the beach. The view is understated in its beauty and he finds he's happy he ended up here instead of alone at a table a little too big for one.

"A mai tai, please," he says, pleased that he even knows the name of a single 'island cocktail.' 

"You just fly in?" a deep voice teases from down the bar. Cas looks and his breath is taken away when he spots the local. Tanned and muscular with windswept hair and stunning eyes, he's already a smidge enamored.

Finding his voice and what he hopes is an easy smile, he says, "Is it that obvious?"

The man laughs, grabbing his own drink and moving the few empty seats between them to sit right next to him. Cas’ breath catches as their legs touch, thighs pressed together, and he nearly misses what the man says next.

"Small island. I know everyone already, so a new face is kind of a giveaway." He holds out a hand. "Dean."

Cas readily accepts and shakes his hand. "Castiel."

"Welcome, Cas. What brings you to our humble island?"

"My brother thinks I work too hard and need a vacation."

"Sounds like a good brother."

"He has his moments."

"You got any big plans? If not, I'm happy to offer some advice."

Cas, as stupid a it sounds, would gladly follow any of the handsome man's suggestions if it meant prolonging this conversation. "I'm listening."

"You know how to surf? We've got the best waves here, and I say that as someone who's been to all the islands around here."

His stomach sinks. "I've never surfed," he admits.

Dean shrugs. "You and half the people that come here. Don't worry about it, we got tons of surf instructors, myself included."

Cas feels his eyes grow wide. "You?"

This time Dean winks at him. "Yep. I teach a class every morning at nine if you're interested. Right out there," he says, jerking a thumb over his shoulder to where the waves roar. "Tourist season just started, shouldn't be too busy. Could give you a lot of one on one time if you need it."

He gives Cas a once over and he feels himself blushing at the attention.

"I'd like that," he mumbles into his straw before taking a long sip. Liquid courage spreads its warmth inside him, solidifying the conviction that this is a good idea.

Even if he can barely swim.

"So what do you do that made your brother think you need a vacation so bad?" Dean asks.

"Corporate  lawyer. I promise, it sounds more impressive than it is."

"No no, I'm definitely impressed. I don't really know what it means, but I'm impressed by it for sure."

Cas chuckles, happy to know he's making at least an okay first impression. Normally by now, handsome men were politely trying to end the conversation. Maybe it's the mai tai making him overconfident, but this seems to be going well. 

Or at least, not going poorly. That's a start.

"So corporate lawyer Cas, you enjoying your stay so far?"

"So far, but it's only been a few hours and all I've done is nap and drink with a handsome surfer. Honestly, it can only go down from here."

Dean's smile is radiant. "Handsome surfer. I like that."

Cas blushes as though he's the one who was complimented. Eyes downcast to recollect himself, he notices the hoodie tied around Dean's waist. Strange, he'd checked the weather here repeatedly while planning his trip and it never gets cold enough to need a jacket or a sweatshirt. He'd made a point of not packing one just to save room in his suitcase, and yet here's Dean, a local, someone much more intimately acquainted with the weather here, with a sweatshirt.

"Something wrong?" Dean asks, a frown spreading across his face to match Cas’ own. "Look, if I came on too strong—"

"Are you cold?" he asks, pointing at the sweatshirt. It looks so soft, the light brown color of it almost plush. If he were two drinks farther into the night, he might've reached out to touch it. 

"Huh?" Dean follows his eye and then gives a full body laugh. "Something like that," he says with another wink, then more seriously adds, "Nah, it's just more convenient to carry it around with me than leave it somewhere, y'know?"

With practiced ease, Dean turns just so to reveal the tattoo peaking out the edges of his shirt sleeve and collar. It disappears down his back, but Cas can make out the geometric design of a seal.

"Sure," Cas says as his eyes trace the little pieces of visible tattoo. He doesn't know what Dean means, doesn't know what connection it has to the tattoo, if any, but it sounds reasonable enough. Maybe it's colder out on the actual beach with the wind coming in off the ocean. 

"Look," Dean continues, most of his earlier flirtiness turned into a nervous smile that's absolutely adorable. "I get it if you're not interested. It's... complicated, with guys like me."

"Handsome surfers?" Cas says earnestly. "I'm interested. Very interested. In surfers and... surfing," he finishes lamely. 

This time Dean's laugh is distinctly fond.  "Good, 'cuz I'm now interested in corporate lawyers." He briefly puts his hand over Cas’, the barest of contact that sends a jolt of electricity through him and makes butterflies dance uncomfortably in his stomach. Just like that, the touch is gone and Dean's standing up, ready to leave. "Remember, 9 o'clock, right out on the beach. I'll save the best board for you, yeah?"

Cas barely has time to nod before Dean's gone, disappearing into the darkness as he runs towards the beach.

"Bye," he whispers to himself, then silently curses. 

Damn. It looks like he might have to thank Gabe for arranging this whole trip after all. 

~ ~ ~

Dean's bouncing with nervous energy as he gets his class set up. He'd been eager about the prospect of tourist season bringing in new blood—even if it meant sharing the beach—but he hadn't expected to meet a guy that checked off all his boxes so soon. Cas is hot, kind of adorable, charming in a dorky sort of way, and best of all, someone who doesn't seem to be thrown off by the whole selkie thing. 

Not only isn't he unbothered by it, Cas seemed to know right away. Most of the time, tourists don't notice at all, which is fine since Dean's not looking for more than a night of fun. Cas clued in on the hoodie right away and Dean had seen the way his expression changed when Cas saw the tattoo. 

Perfect, because Dean's already hoping for more than just a night with Cas. 

Don't get ahead of yourself. Maybe we don't click that well and last night was a fluke.

Cas appears shortly after, hair adorably sleep rumpled and looking extremely grumpy as he sips on a coffee. It's adorable, and Dean's heart swells. 

Please, PLEASE, don't be a fluke...

"Heya, Cas," he greets and grabs one of the better beginner boards for him. "Long time no see."

"Hello, Dean," Cas grumbles back. Yep, not a morning person, but he's here bright and early to see Dean, so that's a good sign. 

Cas squints at him, tilts his head in confusion and stares at Dean like he can’t quite put his finger on it, but something’s off. 

“No sweatshirt?” he says. He looks both sleepy and puzzled, and Dean just wants to kiss him right then and there. 

Dean looks down where his skin is how hugging him tightly in the form of a wetsuit. It’d taken him years to learn how to make it appear as anything other than a too big t-shirt that resembled a tunic more than anything else, and now he almost likes to show off the different forms he can manifest. 

“Nah,” he says with a wink. “Wetsuit makes more sense for surfing lessons, don’t ya think?”

Cas blushes and mumbles an agreement. 

A few other students show up, briefly taking Dean’s attention, but he always gravitates back to Cas when he can. They chat a little when Dean’s not introducing himself to new arrivals. There's not actually a whole lot of talk on Cas' end, so Dean fills in the silence with everything he knows about the island. His family's been here long enough that he knows the history pretty well, plus he's been working the tourist circuit enough that he can offer suggestions about where to go, what to do, what to see. By the time nine actually roles around, Cas looks way more awake.

Good. It's a lot easier to teach someone who's, y'know, fully conscious.

Despite Cas' obvious misgivings about surfing, he doesn't do half bad for a first timer. Dean always starts with practice on land first so that everyone can get used to the motions before adding in the complication of water. Dean might've been born for the water, but he very quickly learned that humans definitely aren't.

"You don't look half bad," Dean says, poking Cas with his foot to get his attention.

"Do I look half good?" Cas jokes as he mimes paddling out and then jumping up on his board.

"Getting there," Dean promises. 

Dean's less than impressed with Cas' swimming. Once he gets out on the water, he's a mess. He swims like a human, that's for sure, and not a very skilled one at that. There's potential, but it'd take a lot of work. Work Dean's happy to help him with, but visitors don't tend to stay more than a week or so. Not nearly enough time to make that kind of progress, especially not when Dean can think of much better uses of their limited time together.

Assuming Cas is interested, anyway. 

"I got bad news for you," he says solemnly as the students return their boards at the end of the class. Cas looks momentarily worried that Dean is indeed about to impart some sort of life altering bad news. "Cas," he says, putting on arm on his shoulder. "You're never gonna be a world class surfer."

Cas cracks a smile. "That is pretty bad news. I'm not sure my fragile ego can handle it. Though I had hoped my surfing instructor would've been able to help."

Dean snorts. "Sorry, buddy, I ain't that good."

This time Cas' smile is wide and gummy, not the shy thing Dean's seen so far.

Progress.

"So I'm not really sure what your plans are while you're here," Dean says, suddenly feeling nervous. "But I know this really good seafood restaurant in town. I could uh... I could show you, if you're up for leaving the resort."

"I'd like that a lot."

"Great." Is his face going to be permanently stuck in a grin? If things keep going this well with Cas, it just might. "I'll pick you up around five?"

"Five sounds perfect."

Chapter Text

Cas tries to relax by the pool, but all he can think about is his date with Dean.

It is a date, right?

Worse, he has no idea what type of place Dean has in mind. He said seafood, which Cas normally associates with fancier places, but this is an island, everyone probably has seafood. He just can't picture Dean taking him to a formal restaurant. It's not that he doesn't think the surfer can clean up nice, he just doesn't think Dean would pick a fancy place. He's too down to earth, too proud of the island's true face rather than a polished version. 

Finally, Cas settles on a button down shirt and khaki shorts. It's a good middle ground. 

When he heads down to the resort lobby, Cas' palms are sweaty and he keeps second guessing himself. Date, no date? Good idea to start a romance with a local, bad idea? 

Then he sees Dean and the doubts are gone.

Definitely a date, definitely a good idea.

Dean looks gorgeous in a white polo that brings out the green of his eyes and highlights the freckles dotting his tan skin. His hair is styled, not the sandy mess Cas has grown accustomed to. He really wants to run his hands through it, to mess it up again. And shoes , has he ever seen Dean in shoes—?

And the sweatshirt is back, tied neatly around his waist over his pressed slacks. 

Huh. 

He doesn't know what his fascination with Dean's attire is, he really doesn't, but there's something about it that's… off, for lack of a better word. 

"Heya, Cas," Dean says and yeah, Cas no longer cares about what clothes Dean's wearing.

... Unless it involves removing them.

Dean offers his arm to Cas, and he readily links his own through it. The touch is warm, grounding, and totally in no way makes Cas' heart beat double time. 

"Ready?" Dean asks. "Hope you don't mind, it's a bit of a walk, but I promise, it's totally worth it."

"Lead the way."

Considering the time Cas used to spend jogging through the parks back home, the walk isn't nearly so long as he feared. It's the perfect distance, giving them time to talk more. Cas is admittedly not the friendliest person in the morning, so he makes more of an effort to make up for earlier. He asks questions and tells Dean more about himself in an effort to balance out Dean bearing the brunt of the conversation that morning. By the time they reach the restaurant—a quaint place called the Roadhouse—Cas feels like he's known Dean for years.

"Seriously?" comes a voice as soon as they enter the restaurant. "You bringing another one of your dates here, Dean?"

"You know a better place in town?" Dean says once a blond woman appears. She eyes Cas curiously and he smiles shyly. 

She rolls his eyes. "'Course there's no better place. I'm Jo, by the way. Family friend and unfortunately I've known Dean all my life." She offers a hand to Cas.

Reluctantly, he pulls free of Dean's grasp to shake it. "Castiel. I've known Dean almost a whole 24 hours. It's a pleasure to meet you."

"Would you stop making it sound like I'm a loser or something?" Dean grumbles, though he's obviously happy to see Jo and Cas together. "And could I have a table?"

"You wanting a sunset view or should I stick you in the back?"

"Sunset, please," Dean says with the same exasperation Cas knows he's used when dealing with Gabe, and he can readily imagine a younger Dean and Jo squabbling at the playground as children.

It's nice, getting a more personal look into Dean's life.

"So," Jo says once they're settled at the table, a nice bottle of red wine in hand. "Dean'll be having the shrimp because he's a predictable idiot. Castiel, can I recommend the halibut or the swordfish? There are also some non-seafood dishes if that's not your thing."

Dean makes a face, clearly showing he thinks Jo is joking. Cas supposes that's the luxury of living on an island with fresh seafood, but Cas is from Kansas and is rarely so adventurous as to try the sushi at his work that they declare is "fresh caught." This is an island adventure, though, so he's more than willing to go out of his comfort zone for Dean's sake.

"The halibut, please."

"Do you really bring all of your dates here?" Cas teases once they're alone. His heart is in his throat because he might still be wrong, this might not really be a date despite the romantic sunset view, the shared bottle of wine, and the romantic candlelit dinner.

Okay, it's totally a date, but Cas still worries. He's been wrong before and he couldn't stand it if he were wrong now.

"No, actually," Dean says honestly. "This place is basically home, so I only take the special ones here."

"I qualify as one of the special ones?"

Dean gives him a look. "Dude, you seen you? You're the right mix of hot and adorably cute. Plus you came on a vacation you didn't want to because your brother, who might be a pain in the ass but who clearly cares about you, told you to and you went surfing despite being a mediocre swimmer because a 'handsome surfer' asked you to. You're all types of awesome, so yeah, I brought you here."

"Oh," is all Cas can manage at first, his cheeks hot. Then, quickly, "If it helps, I think you're also a great mix of hot and adorable. I've rarely met someone who's as outgoing and friendly as you that actually has the patience to get to know me. I know I'm not the most personable person in the world, so thank you for giving me a chance and..." He holds up his glass of wine. "Thank you for dinner."

"I'll drink to that."

Dinner is wonderful. The food is exquisite and Cas enjoys watching Jo and Dean banter every time she comes to check on him. Despite her taunts, he can tell she's fond of him... and perhaps acting like a protective sister, needling information out of Cas to make sure he's good enough.

Cas is fine with that. He wants to be good enough.

As the dinner draws to a close just as the sun starts to disappear between the waves, Cas is feeling the full effects of the three glasses of wine he's had. More to the point, he's feeling the giddiness of a perfect date with Dean. 

Taking a deep breath and mustering up more courage than he's ever had on a date, he puts his hand over Dean's. "I've had a wonderful evening, Dean. Would you like to continue it?"

Dean's eyes go wide and he swallows. "Yes, please."

"My place or yours?"

Dean’s expression flickers with nervous embarrassment before he smooths it over. "Your place if you don’t mind. I uh... I still kinda live at my parents' place—And, yeah. Probably a mood killer."

"Wow," Cas says with a fond laugh. "Finally, the handsome surfer has a fault. He still lives at home."

"It's a whole thing," Dean mumbles, clearly embarrassed. "We don't move out until... You know what, forget it. Definitely not sexy talking about family and I know you must have a nice view from your room and I'd really like to take advantage of it."

"Going to show me the stars?" 

"Something like that."

~ ~ ~

Cas stretches, joints popping, and then rolls back over to go to sleep. He doesn't have work or meetings or errands to attend to, so why not steal a few more minutes in bed? He unconsciously reaches over to the other side of the bed— 

It's empty. 

It takes a moment for him to realize why that's odd, and once he does, he jolts upright, all thoughts of sleeping in forgotten. Dean's side of the bed is as empty as he'd suspected, and not only that, it's cold. Frowning, Cas casts a hopeful glance towards the bathroom, but the lights are off. 

Oh.

He can't explain how profoundly disappointed he is to wake up alone, especially since he's been waking up alone for years now. He should be used to it by now, and yet it'd been so nice to fall asleep in someone else's arms... 

He resists the urge to flop down on his pillow and wallow in disappointment. It's not a big deal. Dean is obviously more of a morning person than Cas and more importantly he's not on vacation. He probably had a surf class to set up. It's already... Cas checks the time and is surprised to find it's nearly noon. Yeah, no wonder Dean didn't wait. 

His disappointment follows him through the motions of brushing his teeth, showering, getting dressed. It's only when he's about to go downstairs in search of food that he finds a note stuck to his door.

Cas, 

Sorry I couldn't stay, but I've got a class and then some family stuff. Really too bad, since you are friggin' adorably grumpy in the morning and I'd wanted to see if I could kiss away the grumpiness. Maybe next time. <3

Dean

P.S. There's a whale watching tour company that you can book through the resort. I know swimming isn't your thing, so maybe being on a boat would be a good way to get some waves?

Cas reads and re-reads the note a few times, lingering on words like "adorably grumpy" and "kiss" and "next time." He even takes a moment to admire the neat handwriting, and yes, he maybe takes a second to acknowledge that he is completely smitten. 

The front desk helps him book a seat for whale watching. He has about an hour to kill before he has to head to the dock, so he spends the time wandering around the main floor of the resort. There's not a whole lot that isn't related to tourist attractions, things he's sure Dean's already done or finds silly to participate in as a local, so he ignores most of them. There is a winery visit he thinks might be worth asking Dean about, so he takes a pamphlet and keeps walking.

There's a gift shop near the exit and on a whim he decides to drop in. He has no interest in anything for himself—what little he thought he'd need, he brought with him and he's not one for souvenirs—but he supposes he owes Gabe some sort of thank you for setting this whole trip up. There are the usual things, t-shirts and collectible spoons and even a snow globe, though he finds that ridiculous on an island that's never seen snow. What really catches his eye are a large set of plush seals.

Now that he notices, the whole store is littered with seal paraphernalia. Mugs with swimming seals painted all over them. Jewelry with seals balancing pearls on their nose. Little ceramic statues. Coasters. Hand-carved figurines. On and on it goes, enough for Cas to flag down the woman working behind the counter.

"You seem to have a lot of seals," he says diplomatically, not wanting to offend but not able to hide his curiosity.

The woman—Becky, according to her nametag—beams. "It's an island tradition! We call ourselves the Home of the Selkies, or at least that's what everyone my grandma's age calls us."

Cas stares at her. "Is that a type of seal?"

The woman laughs, then frowns when she realizes he's serious. "Oh dear, I forgot sometimes you mainlanders don't know about them. Selkies are creatures that are half seal, half human."

"Like a mermaid?"

Becky gives him a pitying look. "Sort of, except not at all. They either appear as a human or as a seal, no in between nonsense. There are all sorts of legends about selkies protecting this island, so..." She gestures to the seal collection. "So we kind of like to support them."

"Oh." He takes another look around and picks out a goofy looking seal with lumpy stuffing and googly eyes. It reminds him of Gabe and if his brother complains, he'll tell him it's an ancient island tradition. Even that should shut Gabe up. "I'll take this one, please."

Satisfied with his purchase, he thanks the cashier, drops off the gift in his room, and promptly forgets about selkies altogether. 

The whale watching tour is... bumpier than he expected. The boat is small and rocks with seemingly every wave. Cas grips his life jacket closely as they crest over another, larger wave and prays he hasn't made a terrible mistake.

Luckily the water starts to calm after that, and the crew starts handing out binoculars and talking about the different wildlife in the area they might see. Half an hour later, all Cas has managed to see are seagulls and a splash of water in the distance that could have been a whale, but he has his doubts that it was anything more than his imagination. 

Oh well, it's not like I came here for whales. I came here for sun, relaxation, and the ocean, and I'm getting all three of those things right now .

The boat suddenly lurches, the distinct sound of something hitting the underside of the hull making Cas gasp in surprise and grab onto the nearest railing. 

Or at least I'm getting two of them... I don't know how relaxing it is when I'm worried about falling overboard.

Another bump has the other tourists whispering in concern, but the grew seems unbothered. A few more bumps, and then suddenly there's a splash at one end of the boat. 

"Is it a whale!?" one woman calls, dragging her husband over to take a look.

"It's a seal!" a kid calls, pointing enthusiastically. "A seal!"

"Two seals!"

"Three!" 

"It's a whole pod of them!"

Eager to see something more interesting than a seagull, Cas rushes over with everyone else to take a look. He has his binoculars in hand, but quickly finds he won't be needing him. The seals, maybe ten or more of them, are splashing and jumping and overall putting on quite the show. Everyone's cell phone is out snapping pictures, but Cas is frozen in amazement. 

They're beautiful and so close , he's never been so close to a wild animal before. He wants to reach out and touch them and has a feeling that these ones are friendly enough they might even allow it, though he remembers the crew's earlier warnings. Friendly or not, he doesn't want to put the theory to the test with his own hand. 

Still, he leans over the side to get a better look. 

As the seals play, he finds his eyes continually drawn towards one of the larger ones with brown fur. It—he? she? he has no idea—is particularly graceful as he weaves around his comrades. He swims faster than the rest, jumps more, and overall looks like a seal with a mission to show off. 

The brown seal disappears under the water and Cas is almost disappointed to see him go. Then he resurfaces right next to Cas, splashing him and barking like he's just played the best prank ever. 

"Thank you," Cas mutters wryly. The seal claps his fins together before he dives back under the water. 

The rest of the seals seem to take that as their cue to disappear, swimming away without so much as look back to the boat. The other tourists whine with disappointment, but Cas can't feel anything other than satisfied. 

He'll have to thank Dean later for the suggestion, this really was a wonderful idea.

Chapter Text

Dean ran his hands through his hair, hoping to  dry it out a bit more. Normally he'd stay at the house to towel off, but everyone was giving him strange looks. Sam especially looked like he wanted to talk, and nope, Dean's not ready for that. Way too soon. 

Because talking would mean admitting things, like that he's really falling for Cas. No, he's not in love with him yet, that'd be ridiculous, but there's a definite connection that he wants to explore. He wants to get to know Cas, see if there's any way they can build whatever they are into something more than a fling. 

So no, Dean's not in love with Cas... but he's pretty sure that given enough time, he definitely will be. 

During his escape from the house, he actually has to duck out a side door to avoid his brother, something he's not proud of. He silently promises himself that he'll talk to Sam soon, just not yet. He wants a bit more time where Cas is his , not a spectacle for his family or the latest rumor among the Winchester-Campbell pods. 

Dean jogs over to the resort and tries the bar first. Even though he remembers Cas' room number, he's pretty sure an impromptu visit to Cas' hotel room would end in sex. Not exactly a terrible idea, a solid Plan B if he can't find Cas at the bar, but he's got something else in mind, something a lot more special than another romp in the hay. 

Luckily he finds Cas drinking another mai tai (adorable that he thinks he has to do the whole tropical drink thing just because he's on an island). Dean looks into the nearest fish tank to double check his appearance. His hair is a damn mess, damp and with clumps of sand stuck in it, but he at least looks presentable. 

Besides, damp and sandy kind of go hand and hand with the whole selkie thing. 

"Hey, sunshine," Dean beams and slides into the chair next to Cas. To his delight, Cas smiles warmly at him. 

"Hello, Dean. I was wondering when I'd get to see you again. I was worried I might have to enroll in more surf lessons."

On a whim, Dean leans forward and catches Cas' lips in a quick kiss. "Don't tempt me," he teases. "I might just disappear for a day to force your hand."

Cas smile warms his heart. What was he saying about not being in love? He might have to reassess, because he's damn close to the precipice already. At any moment, he feels he could fall right off the edge.

"Have fun whale watching?" Dean can't help but wink. He'd spent a damn hour trying to find the right ship so he could say hi, much to his family's mix of curiosity and annoyance. They'd indulged him, and he's thankful for it, even if it means he'll have to answer questions about it later. 

"I did," Cas says earnestly. "I've never seen seals up close like that before, though unfortunately we didn't see any whales."

"It's okay, seals are better anyway." 

"I think I'm inclined to agree with you."

Dean orders himself a beer and enjoys the thrill of Cas' compliment. They sit there, sharing their drinks and enjoying the other's presence, before Dean builds up enough nerve to ask what he's really there for.

"You eat dinner yet?"

"No, why? Know another good local place?"

"Something like that. It's a bit of a hike though."

"I'm game."

"Awesome."

The alcove isn't particularly hard to get to, but it is out of the way. There are some rocks to climb over, some sand dunes to navigate. It's enough to keep away the curious tourists, but not enough to be more than a slight inconvenience to those who know where they're going.

Dean definitely knows where he's going.

When they round the last corner and the path opens up onto the beach, surrounded on three sides by cliff faces and with a coral reef just offshore making the waves gentle, it's a sight to see. Cas whistles in appreciation as he sees it.  Dean preens a little. 

"Like it?" he asks nervously. 

"I was beginning to worry it wouldn't be worth the hike, but I'm gladly mistaken. It's breathtaking, Dean, truly."

"Right?" He takes Cas' hand and starts leading him down to the beach proper. "It's uh... it's where I learned to swim. And walk, actually. Swimming first, then walking."

He can't see Cas' expression, but he can hear his confusion. "You learned to swim before you could walk?"

Dean shrugs. "Easier. In the water, you don't need to balance yourself the way you do on land. Besides, the water's real gentle here. Thought it'd be the perfect place for a little skinny dipping." 

"Skinny dipping? I didn't even bring a towel—"

"I got you covered," Dean promises. He'd planned everything out this morning and leads Cas to the picnic basket and backpack he'd stowed there. "Blankets, towels, bathing suit in case you're not into the skinny dipping thing, plus a romantic dinner for two. Hope you like homemade PB&J because honestly, I'm not good enough of a cook for anything more complicated."

Cas draws Dean close, arms around Dean's waist. He settles his forehead against Dean's, and all Dean can see is blue. Dean's from a world of blue—ocean, sky, that line in the distance where the water meets the horizon—and he's never seen a blue that stunning before. For once in his life, Dean's actually worried about drowning.

"PB&J sounds perfect. Are we eating or swimming first?"

Dean has to blink to break the spell Cas has over him. He smiles, going for flirty but probably ending up somewhere closer to lovesick. "We should probably eat. I'm actually starving. Busy day."

Cas helps him set out the picnic blanket and the meal. It's definitely not fancy, though it's about as Dean as it gets. Sandwiches, chips, homemade sangria, a few slices of his mom's pie. He spreads it out in offering, a subtle nod to his selkie heritage and their gift giving rituals. He doesn't think Cas will get it, no matter how much he knows about selkies, so he's also thrown in an extra surprise. 

"I uh... I made this for you," he says in a rush and hands over the necklace. It's simple, really, a piece of coral on a seaweed necklace. The meaningful part is that he made it all by himself, that it's from his home, that it's a piece of the ocean, of himself, for a potential mate to carry with him.

He's never made a gift like that for anyone before, and he flushes bright red as Cas gingerly accepts it. 

"Thank you, Dean. It's beautiful."

Dean's already bursting with happiness, but then Cas immediately puts on the necklace. It suits him perfectly, and Dean can feel more pieces of his heart clicking into place.

"So uh," Dean mumbles, fiddling with the picnic basket to distract himself from how damn happy he is. "Let's eat?"

It's a slow, relaxing lunch, one that Dean spends asking Cas questions about his life, his job, his family. What's normally small talk, Dean listens to when raptured fascination. Each moment with Cas is precious, each new fact he hoards for later consideration.

"Were you serious about skinny dipping?" Cas asks with mock innocence. "Because I could go for a swim right about now."

"I'm game if you are, sweetheart."

The endearment slips out before he can think better of it, but as soon as it does, there's no way he'd take it back. 

They head down to the water, losing clothes along the way. Cas dips his toes in experimentally.

"You're not one of those guys who takes the stairs into the pool, are you?" Dean teases. 

Cas gives him a sly look.

"Nope." And then the last of his clothes are lost in a flurry and he's diving in.

"Sonofabitch," Dean laughs. He practically tears off the rest of his own clothes to catch up, not paying any attention to where they end up. 

He's got a cute boy to catch.

Although Cas really does make an effort to swim away, it doesn't take long for Dean to catch up.

"Gotcha," Dean says as he grabs Cas around the waist and pulls him in for a salty, wet kiss. Cas leans in to accept the kiss, then abruptly pulls away. He splashes Dean before diving under again.

Dean gapes in shock before laughing. This is a game of cat and mouse he's more than happy to play.

Especially since he knows he's going to win and steal a kiss every time.

He doesn't know how long they play, but the sun is definitely lower when he steals a final, breathless kiss from Cas.

"I think you've won," Cas concedes, slipping his arms around Dean's shoulders and pulling him closer. "What are you going to do with me now that you've caught me?" 

He bats his eyelashes, water drops making them look even longer and enticing. 

"I've got an idea or two in mind." Dean's voice is raw and husky. He'll admit, he's been thinking about this moment all day.

Their lips meet again, though there's no innocent fun keeping it light anymore. There's a growing heat behind every movement of their lips, every flick of their tongues. Dean moans into the kiss when he feels Cas' cock growing hard next to his own. His hands wander down to massage Cas' ass, to pull him closer and remove those last little empty spaces between them.

"Want to know a secret?" Cas asks when they part for breath.

"Always." He wants to know every secret, every non secret, about Cas until he knows it all. 

"I've never been skinny dipping before."

"Yeah?" Dean slips a hand between them, taking them both and starting to stroke them in time with the gentle sway of the water. "Lemme walk you through it..."

Cas gasps against Dean's neck, mouthing at the tender skin there and occasionally moaning in appreciation as Dean twists or changes the pressure, the pace. Cas is at his mercy, and Dean loves the thrill of it.

With a possessive growl, Dean quickens his movements. 

As they get closer, Cas clutches at him. He bites and he thrusts weakly into Dean's hand, and though he places his own on top, he makes no attempt to do more than touch, to create another point of contact. He looks at Dean, the sun and the ocean reflected in his eyes as he silently begs for more more more

It takes all of Dean's willpower not to come apart right then and there. More pieces of his resolve not to fall completely, helplessly in love chip away. In this moment, at least, he belongs to Cas. 

Maybe Cas belongs to him, too, just a little.

The thought is too much, too soon, and Dean instead throws himself back into the moment. He wants to be here and now . He forces himself to focus on Cas, on the way his eyes shine, the filthy noises he's making, the bruises he's no doubt leaving all along Dean's shoulders. He's beautiful, and this moment is possibly perfect.

"Dean," Cas gasps, his blunt nails raking across his skin. "Dean Dean Dean ...!"

It's quickly becoming his favorite sound, hearing Cas come.

"You alright?" he asks afterward. Cas is boneless in his arms, and he moves with the ebb and flow of the waves. 

"Amazing. Just need a minute. That was... more intense than I'd expected."

Dean kisses his forehead. "Take all the time you need, sweetheart."

They stay there in the water, bobbing back and forth as the tide comes in. The sun hasn't quite set yet, but some stars have started to appear. Dean knows them all by heart if not by name, so he holds Cas close and points them out, the shapes he recognizes and which ones point the way home.

It's only when a shiver runs through Cas that Dean realizes just how long they've been in the water.

"Sorry, buddy. Didn't mean to make you all pruny." He threads their fingers together and kisses each one. "I got dessert if you're still hungry."

"Dessert sounds lovely, but I'm more concerned about getting into a towel."

Dean laughs and leads Cas to shore. "Fair enough."

His amusement changes to slight annoyance when they walk onto the sand. Their clothes are everywhere and covered with sand. He doesn't mind the much—sandy clothes are a daily occurrence for him anyway—until he finds his boxers are half soaked from the ocean spray.

"Should've thought this a little more through," he mutters to himself. There's not much for it but to ring them out and hope everything else faired better. 

Dean doesn't even bother sorting between his and Cas' clothes, just grabs what he finds on the way back up to the picnic blanket. A pair of shorts here, a shirt there, what does it matter?

Dean's world comes crashing down around him when he sees Cas and remembers belatedly that it really fucking matters.

There's Cas. Tall, handsome, kinda nerdy Cas. The guy Dean's whole world has shifted towards these past couple days. There he is by the abandoned picnic basket with one of Dean’s ratty towels tied around his waist... holding Dean's skin.

Oh no. 

No.

No no no no no this can't be real, this isn't happening! How could he be so careless, so stupid !? The one thing his parents, his grandparents, everyone drilled into him, and he's gone and lost it. 

What's he going to do ?

He stands there in shock, watching Cas in frozen terror. 

Cas doesn't look at him, might not have even noticed him yet. His hands are inspecting the soft fabric and he admires it like the prize it is. With a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips, he buries his face in it and inhales deeply. 

He blushes slightly in embarrassment when he catches Dean watching him, but that won't last. 

Dean expects taunts to come next. Orders, maybe. A ransom demand if he's lucky. Honestly he has no clue, because he's the first in over three generations of his family to be this incredibly dumb. He's the one that's going to be a warning to young pups to come— 

"Here," Cas says and offers him the hoodie just like that. Easily, as if he never planned to keep it in the first place. "I think you missed this, it was by the rocks. I was worried the tide would get it."

Slowly, Dean reaches out. It could be a trick, a taunt, anything really, and he doesn't trust that Cas would really give it back. His fingers graze Cas' and then he has the sweatshirt, grabs a hold and yanks it away. 

"Thanks," he says brokenly, voice a wreck. It's only then that he notices his tense and rigid his body is but he can't seem to relax. He clutches the skin to his chest like a security blanket. "Thanks," he tries again and this time his voice doesn't waver.

He feels the magic in his blood churning. Between that and his heart racing, he can barely hear what Cas is saying.

"It's really soft. Smells like the ocean, like you..." The blush hasn't gone down. If anything, his cheeks are brighter than before. "I can see why you like it."

"Uh huh," he says numbly. Part of his still hopes this is a dream. 

"Dean, are you okay?"

It takes all his willpower not to flinch away from Cas' touch. He's grateful, he is, and his heart keeps reminding him he still very much cares about Cas, but he's never been so scared in his life as he was a moment ago. Even when that shark followed him home, even when he and Sam got lost as pups, never has he felt like that. He needs time to recover and get his bearings. 

"Fine," he lies, even forces a fake smile. Cas' brow furrows in concern, so Dean makes more of an effort. "I'm fine," he promises gently. "Long day."

"Oh," Cas says meekly. "If you're sure-"

"I am. C'mon, lemme walk you back to the resort."

He stiffly puts on the sweatshirt to ground himself. It's still his, even if now his magic has other demands it didn't before. 

He'll have to figure that out later.

Instead he focuses on Cas. He knew Cas was special, and now he has proof. Really awesome proof, once he thinks about it more reasonably. 

"Ready?" He offers Cas his hand.

He's just not sure what he's going to tell his family. 

Cas takes his hand and squeezes. "Ready."  

How's he supposed to tell them he got married today?

Chapter Text

Cas dreams of the ocean, the waves, a pull stronger than the tide. He dreams of strong arms and tan skin and beautiful green eyes. He dreams of a brown hoodie, scented with Dean's unmistakable musk, so soft, so warm, so alive and Dean…

He's not surprised when he wakes up hard, his hips making small, barely there thrusts down into the mattress. Too tired to feel any sort of shame for it, he continues to fuck downward as he imagines Dean wrapping him in his sweatshirt and then taking him apart with his tongue. 

Cas grunts through the effort of keeping a steady pace. He could easily roll over and jerk himself off properly, but his cock is stubborn and likes the fantasy as is. He grinds against the mattress, spreading his legs to allow his imaginary lover better access. 

It's an easy thing to imagine Dean kissing down Cas' back, to hear his voice as he urges Cas on. Sand calloused hands would pull his boxers down and push his cheeks apart. A rough tongue, wet and salty like the sea, would tease at his rim before pushing firmly against the muscle there. He'd tease Cas first, because Dean's a flirty bastard who has somehow learned all of Cas' buttons. He'd bring Cas to the edge before he'd even reach beneath him to put a hand on his aching cock— 

With a startled cry, Cas comes into the sheets. He moans Dean's name through it, and even after he's spent, he clings to the fantasy until the sheets are uncomfortably damp against his skin. 

He quickly showers and changes and does his damnedest not to think about his odd fantasy. Imagining Dean's tongue makes sense—he knows firsthand how skilled Dean is with his mouth—but he still can't explain his fascination with Dean's sweatshirt. It'd just smelled so good , like a concentrated version of the smells he already associates with Dean. 

... Maybe he could mention the fantasy to Dean and act it out. 

Or not. He remembers how tense Dean was when he saw Cas holding it, and how distant he'd been the rest of the evening. After everything else had gone so well at the beach, he'd hoped to invite Dean back up to his room again, but Dean had nervously made an excuse after a quick drink at the bar, something about "family stuff" and "needing to get things ready for tomorrow." 

Cas heads down to the atrium with Dean on his mind, though no real hopes of seeing the surfer for a few hours at best. Dean knows where to find him . Aside from walking the beaches, Cas wouldn't be able to find Dean unless Dean wants to be found. Maybe Cas should figure out a back-up plan for the day in case Dean's not available. There's a bus tour of the island he wouldn't mind, as well as a walking tour of a dormant volcano. 

He barely has time to step off the elevator before all his would-be plans disintegrate and quickly re-form into much better ones. 

“Morning, sunshine.” Dean leans against the archway leading to the elevators, his tight fitting shirt riding up at his stomach to give a glimpse of gorgeous tanned skin and toned muscle. Cas swallows slightly, then feels himself blush when he sees Dean wink.

"Good morning, Dean," he says shyly. "I was hoping I'd get to see you today."

Dean rolls his eyes at that. "C'mon, Cas. At this point, you're kinda stuck with me."

"Oh no, how terrible," Cas teases, earning him a small smile in return. "It certainly is a burden to have to spend my time with a handsome, charming surfer who takes me to wonderful places on the island that I would have never discovered without him."

"Life's tough, right?" Dean's casual flirtiness disappears almost immediately. His eyes stay glued to the floor and there's a slight, rosy blush coloring his cheeks and making his freckles stand out. "Hey, uh, if you're not busy... would you want to uh... come meet my folks? We've got a family cookout going on and uh... I dunno, thought it might be nice?"

Cas blinks, taking in the request. 

He'd be the first to admit his crush on Dean is less crush and more 'falling desperately, irrevocably in love with him.' Even so, it feels rather soon to be meeting Dean's family. He's never been in a relationship long enough for this to come up. 

Is this a good idea?

Is it a bad idea? True, it's rather soon, but I feel closer to Dean now than I have to anyone else I've dated. If Dean thinks it's an appropriate time, maybe he's right?

"I'd be happy to go with you if that's what you'd like," he says gently. 

Dean's shoulders instantly relax at the acceptance. "Yeah?" His expression is still guarded, still unsure. "I mean, if you'd rather not—"

"Dean, I want to be wherever you are. If you want to be with your family and I'm welcome to come, then that's where I want to be, too."

Dean lets out a sigh. He moves forward, seeking Cas and they meet in a tight hug. "Thanks, Cas," he says before pressing a kiss to his temple.

"Of course, Dean."

Dean leads Cas out of the resort to a dark black moped, complete with two helmets. 

" That's what you drive?" Cas balks at the little thing. "Not at all what I pictured."

Tossing him a helmet, Dean laughs. "I live on an island where gas prices are through the roof. I only drive this thing when I can't walk or surf where I wanna go. So yeah, I've got a moped." He pats the seat behind him and waggles his eyebrows. "It's got the added bonus of you having to cop a feel the whole way over."

"I'm a gentleman, Dean. I would never."

"Well, consider this your invitation not to be." 

The drive is surprisingly long. Cas swears they wind and weave through the entire island just to get to Dean's home, complete with twisty-turvy, overgrown driveway. Despite Dean's jokes about saving gas, he drives quickly and aggressively enough that Cas really does grab onto his waist and hold on for dear life. It takes him a moment to force himself to let go once they pull to a stop outside of a massive garage. 

And then, once his heart and stomach have settled, he notices the house.

Beautiful would be an understatement. The massive, three story home is in an old plantation style but with new paint and updated finishes. The wrap around porch has a view of the island greenery on this side and without further exploration, Cas has no doubt that the house backs up onto the ocean. He can smell it in the air and he would expect no less from Dean than to be right on the water, able to go out onto the waves on a whim and to watch the sun rise and set over the blue waves. 

"What do you think?" Dean beams, probably knowing damn well that his home is a work of art. 

"It's only the nicest home I've ever seen in my entire life," Cas says. "I can see why you still live with your parents, I'd be reluctant to leave a place like this."

Cas is so awestruck that Dean takes off his helmet for him. He kisses Cas' nose when he's done. "Yeah, it's alright. C'mon, lemme show you around and introduce you."

With each step they climb, it's almost like their nerves switch. Dean grows calmer as he reaches the safety of his childhood home; Cas becomes a wreck as he thinks about the prospect of meeting unknown quantities of Dean's family. He's learned some of their names by now, knows that Dean holds them in high regard, and he's suddenly worried he won't make a good impression. Sure, Dean likes that he's an awkward, dorky mess sometimes, but Cas is well aware that he's not the best at first impressions and, as his brother puts it, is an 'acquired taste.' 

"Good news is the Campbells are all out of town on a fishing hunt and aren't super social on short notice, anyway. Today it'll just be my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, and my grandparents."

"... So only the most important members of your family."

Dean pauses. "Yeah, fair point. They're also the least judgy members, so there's that. Just act natural, try not to talk about the whole marriage thing, and we should be cool, yeah?"

Cas nods fervently, only belatedly realizing that Dean said the word 'marriage.' Before he has a chance to clarify (because certainly he misheard ), Dean's dragging him around the porch to the back deck. 

They round the corner and suddenly six sets of discerning eyes are on them. Cas smiles and gives a wave (and maybe just a little bit he shrinks back and tries to hide behind Dean). 

"Hey, so that's my dad, John, and my brother Sammy," Dean starts breathlessly, his own nerves shining through. He points to two men at a grill, both broad and as tanned as Dean. The younger of the two is tall, tall enough that his head is close to hitting the fan keeping the covered deck cool, and his hair is so shaggy it blows in the subtle breeze. 

"It's Sam," the brother corrects and steps forward to shake Cas' hand. His grip starts to tighten and it's all Cas can do not to wince and pull away. "Nice to finally meet you. You're probably the first partner Dean's had he won't shut up about."

"Oh." His cheeks burn. "I'm glad to meet you, as well."

The older man narrows his eyes and takes a long sip of beer, holding Cas' gaze and not for a second blinking. 

"That's my mom, my grandma, and my sister-in-law. Mary, Millie, and Eileen." Dean turns Cas' attention towards a table long enough to seat twenty but now with only three women at one end. A pitcher of sangria rests within reach, an abandoned card game between them, and all three of them watching curiously.

There's a slight resemblance between Dean and his mom, half in their looks and half their mannerisms, their presence. She gives Cas a warm smile that's incongruous with the shrewdness in her eyes. 

"Welcome to our home," she says. 

The other women don't chime in, and Cas wonders what that says about the family dynamic or of it's just them deferring to her as the mother in this little boyfriend interaction. 

"Thank you."

"And over there on the swing is my grandpa Henry."

Cas follows Dean's hand to a porch swing at the far end of the deck. The older man has a kind face set off by thick glasses. Unlike the others, his skin is almost pale. He has a book in hand, one that he immediately continues to read after giving Cas a nod.

"Everyone, this is Castiel. He's my..." Dean fumbles for an adequate word before finishing. "He's my Cas."

There's a deafening silence. Cas fidgets slightly, reminded of a cattle auction he attended at a county fair. He now knows how it feels to be the cattle on stage under constant appraisement with no hope of knowing their fate.

"You know how to grill, boy?" John calls and it's like a spell has been broken. The sound seeps back into the world—the cries of gulls, the rolling waves, a wind chime—and Cas already feels he can breathe better.

"Not really, sir. At least not well enough that I wouldn't burn someone's meal on accident."

John snorts but doesn't seem offended or annoyed at the admission. 

"Perfect time to learn," Sam says and immediately a strong hand is on Cas' back, pushing him towards the grill.

"Oh no you don't, Sam." 

At the sound of his mother's voice, Sam freezes in his tracks. Cas' forward momentum carries him a few more steps before he can stop himself.

Mary pulls back a chair next to her and Millie, then offers it to Cas with a gesture. "We need a fourth. Can't play any decent games with just three people."

"What if Cas doesn't know how to play?" Dean asks nervously.

"Easier to learn how to play than grill," Millie points out. She pats the empty chair in invitation. "Come here, boy. We won't bite, I promise."

He gives Dean a wink and hopes he can adequately convey that he'll do his best. Dean visibly gulps but nods. 

"Alright, you go have fun. I'm gonna help Dad cook. If you need me—"

"I won't," he promises.

He might.

Cas takes the offered seat and watches in amazement as Millie deftly shuffles and deals. "We'll play spades. You don't sign, do you, sweetheart?"

"No?"

"Good. Glad we paired you with Eileen, then."

"I don't cheat!" Eileen both says and signs in fond exasperation. "You're the cheater! When you and Henry play together, it's impossible to stop you!"

"Why do you think she suspects everyone else of cheating?" Mary asks as she picks up the cards dealt her. "Don't worry, I'll keep her in line."

"You cheat, too!" Eileen laughs.

"Oh stop! You'll scare away Dean's beau."

"If he can't handle a friendly card game," Mary says, "he won't last long. Five, Millie. Cas, your bet."

They play a few hands without much talk other than about the game. Cas is a little rusty and they must sense it, because they don't press him much until he and Eileen start winning.

"So how did you and Dean meet?"

"How long are staying?"

"Know how to swim?"

"Surf?"

"Fish?"

It's an endless barrage of questions, and Cas politely answers them all with a diplomatic grace he normally reserves for court. When there's a brief break, Cas sees his chance to take some measure of control of the conversation.

"This is a lovely home you have here. Dean tells me the Winchesters have been living on the island for some time."

Millie preens and Cas congratulates himself on a successful diversion.

"Six generations now have been born and raised in this house. Each has had the responsibility of maintaining and expanding the house to what you see today."

"It's lovely," Cas says genuinely. 

"The land and beaches are nice, too. I'm sure Dean had been a good boy and shown you around. We own nearly half the island, you know."

"Closer to a third," Mary corrects. "Some of that is Campbell land."

"And it'll go to Dean or Sam, so it seems like it's Winchester land now."

It seems like a sore spot and Cas isn't quite sure how to navigate it. Luckily Eileen rescues him.

"So what do you do, Cas?"

He flashes her a grateful smile. "I'm a corporate lawyer. And yes, it's as boring as it sounds."

Eileen laughs. Mary frowns.

"A what—?"

"Oh good!" interrupts Millie. "Eileen is a marine biologist! You two must have so much in common!"

Cas opens his mouth to respond, but finds he doesn't know how to. He would never consider the two professions to be linked, except perhaps in an unfortunate lawsuit, and he's not sure if he's missed something to explain what she's said. He looks over to Eileen, hoping for a clue. Is it a joke?

Their eyes meet, she sees his utter bewilderment, and her expression hardens.

She signs something and Cas looks over his shoulder to see Sam watching them intently. 

"What are you signing?" Millie asks, still unaware of her mistake.

"Nothing," Eileen says a little too quickly, then blushes. "Sam wants to know what we're talking about."

"Tell Sam to stop being nosy," Mary says. She shoots her son a look that was both fond but scolding. 

"He's just looking out for Dean," Millie says. "Though he shouldn't worry. In my experience, Winchester men have excellent taste. I used to think no one would be good enough for my Johnny, and then he found a woman who's too good for him. Sam's done the same and I'm sure Dean's no exception."

Cas feels his chest tighten. This is a close knit family, and he worries how someone new could ever be accepted. Yes, he's been invited here to join them for the day, and yes, everyone's been welcoming so far, but that's likely because they know the score. They see he's not a local, they don't hear any plans for him to move here. He's a tourist passing through, someone who's caught Dean's eye but won't necessarily keep it for long. 

The idea of leaving causes a lump to form in Cas' throat. He knows intellectually he won't be staying here for that much longer. The time's always been measured in days. For a beach trip, it had felt unnecessarily long. For a budding romance with Dean, it's impossibly short. 

"I should help Sam with the drinks," Eileen announces. She's already signing to Sam and moving towards the back door. "It was nice talking to you, Cas."

Cas nods, glad to have anything to distract him from his thoughts.

He doesn't want to leave Dean. Not yet. Not ever, really, but that's not a thought he's willing to consider just yet.

Millie and Mary offer to clean up and shoo Cas away. Reluctantly, he joins Dean and John at the grill. It somehow seems less intimidating now that the smell of meat is drawing him in. And maybe he's less scared of John's quiet sullenness than he is of Sam's very obvious curiosity. There's a protective streak there, he's sure of it, and he's not ready to see if he measures up to Sam's expectations. 

"Is it too late to help?" he offers. 

"You don't have to help, Cas," Dean says. "You're a guest—"

John puts a beer in his hand. "Food's almost done, but could use some help with the plates." He turns to Dean. "He's a guest, sure, but can't have your boyfriend here being soft. He wants to help, let 'im help."

"Soft?" Dean scoffs. "Yeah, like putting fish on a grill is a great example of being a seasoned warrior."

"Don't sass me, boy. Don't forget I'm the one who caught these fish this morning while you were out moping. And what's this warrior, nonsense? This is about family. Family helps out."

Cas watches the exchange. John's acceptance is clear, as are Dean's continued nerves. What happened to the easy going surfer who'd charmed him only a few days ago? What's wrong? What on earth is he missing

He doesn't have much chance to think about it. There's a flurry of activity as everyone gets ready to eat. The table is set, drinks are sorted out, and Cas helps pass out the food. 

"To family," Henry says and they all lift up a glass. "To those we care about, however they're connected to us. To our welcome guest, whom we hope to see more of. I know I'm not the only one who is surprised to have Dean bring a significant other to one of our gatherings, but I'm also not the only one who's glad to see how happy Dean's been lately. Anyone who can make Dean happy is more than welcome here. So cheers."

"Cheers!" the rest of the family calls, clinking glasses together and drinking. Cas blushes and hides it behind his own drink.

There's more of an interrogation at dinner, but Dean's there to help draw the brunt of their attention. Sam in particular seems anxious to know about Cas. His job, his plans. He may as well ask point blank what his "intentions" with Dean are. Luckily he doesn't, because Cas has no idea. He wants to spend every waking moment he's still on the island in Dean's company (and quite honestly, most of the non-waking moments as well), but he can't pretend he has any idea where things will end up when he boards his flight home in a week and a half. 

"Stop with the third degree, would ya?" Dean says. He looks like he wants to smack his brother, and likely would if they weren't sitting so far apart. "This ain't twenty questions! Let us eat in peace."

Sam rolls his eyes. "I'm just asking some harmless questions—"

"You're being intrusive, hon," Eileen says without looking up from her salad. "Dean wasn't this bad with me when you brought me home. Give Cas a break."

"I don't mind," Cas says meekly. 

"See, he doesn't mind!"

" I mind," Dean snaps. "What did grandpa say about welcoming new guests, and you're here interrogating him like he's on trial." 

"Fine," Sam says diplomatically, holding up his hands. "I'll stop."

There's an implicit for now added to the end. 

After dinner the family once again spreads out. Henry and Millie take the porch swing, John and Mary fall into a rhythm of cleaning up together, roping Sam and Dean into it. 

"I can help," Cas says, only to have Eileen grab him by the elbow.

"Mind if we talk?" she asks brightly. Before he can answer, she drags him to the sandy white beach behind the house. They don't go far—they're still within earshot to hear Dean's whining about cleaning and Mary's gentle scolding—but it's far enough that they have some semblance of privacy. 

"As the only other non-local, I thought I should rescue you." Eileen smiles. "I remember how they can be."

"Overprotective?"

"I was thinking more overbearing," she laughs, "but something like that, yes." She turns suddenly serious. "Cas." And then she stops, obviously unsure how to continue.

"Yes?"

It takes her a moment to put together her thoughts. Very delicately, she asks, "Cas, what is everyone wearing?"

Cas frowns. The obvious answer of 'clothes' doesn't feel right, so he takes a look at the family gathered on the porch. There's nothing particularly remarkable about the sundress Millie is wearing, the loose tee and shorts Sam has on, or Mary's jeans and blouse. He looks at Eileen to see if she's being serious, but she definitely is. Suddenly it feels like a test, so he tries again. Which of these things is not like the other? Which of these things doesn't belong?

And then he sees it. 

The hoodies, the sweaters, the cardigans... They're all dressed like they don't live on a tropical paradise, like they expect to suddenly get chilly without a moment's notice. Dean's hoodie's always stood out to him, but his whole family seems to have the same quirk. 

Except Eileen, of course, who's in a tank top and short skirt. She's the only one who looks like she knows it's a hot, sunny day and is going to stay that way indefinitely.

"Does it get cold here?" he asks. "I don't understand—"

Eileen lets out a sigh. It looks like he's taken the wind from her sails, but it's her comforting him when she takes his hand. "I think you and Dean need to talk. Soon."

"About what?" he asks nervously. 

She shakes her head. "It's not my place to say. It's Dean's, but he's somehow forgotten. Probably thinks you already know, the big goof. Had the same problem with Sam at first."

"Know what ?"

She squeezes his hand and looks at him earnestly. "Ask Dean about his hoodie. About the tattoo. About anything weird you've noticed while you've been here but dismissed for one reason or another."

"Is he secretly a serial killer or something?" Cas jokes just to break the tension. This is serious, whatever it is, and he really has no idea what Eileen's getting at. 

Eileen's answering smile is small and pitying. "Honestly, that might be easier." She starts pulling him back towards the deck. "I don't mean to scare you, but it's important that everything is out there in the open. Dean's made up his mind about you, I can tell, but it's not fair to either of you if this goes on any longer."

"I don't understand," Cas pleads. "Could you give me a hint?"

It's too late, though. They're back on the deck. The table's clean and Dean is walking towards him. 

"Heya, Cas, wanna go for a walk? I could show you where I learned to surf."

"Good luck. Just remember to be calm," Eileen whispers and nudges him forward.

"Of course, Dean. I'd love to." He steals one last glance back.

Eileen mouths, ask him before turning away.

They walk hand in hand. It’s grounding, because whatever Eileen was warning him about, at least his and Dean’s feelings are real. They still click, they fit together so well, they have potential if they’re willing to see it through. That’s something, no matter what family secret Cas has to try to needle out of him. 

They probably get a mile or so before Cas has built up the courage necessary. In a rush, he asks, “Dean, why do you wear a hoodie everywhere?”

Dean’s steps falter and he twists to see Cas’ face. “Where else am I going to put it?”

“Uh huh,” Cas nods. There it is, that strange feeling that he should have recognized all along. It was a warning in his head that things did not add up.

“Why do you need it with you at all?” he presses. “Why do all of your family members have sweaters and coats when it’s almost ninety degrees? Why did you learn to swim before you learned to walk? What are all these clues adding up to, because I just don’t get it.”

Dean stops walking. Cas goes a step or two farther before backtracking. He takes in Dean’s expression—the worry visible there—before he rapidly closes himself off. 

“Cas,” he says slowly, “the sweatshirt is my skin. I have to carry it with me for protection, so that no one else can take it.” 

“Okay,” Cas says. This was getting somewhere, just not somewhere helpful. “What does that mean? What does it mean that it’s your skin?”  

“I’m a selkie, Cas. Me and my family, we’re all selkies. This is my skin. Y’know, the thing that lets me change forms?” 

“Okay.” He probably should be freaking out. Nothing about this is normal, but it’s still Dean standing in front of him, so he ignores all the parts of his brain that want to shut down and leave right now. “What’s a selkie?”

“You don't know what a selkie is!?” Dean can’t hide his surprise. 

Suddenly Cas remembers the gift shop. He remembers the cashier’s explanation: half human, half seal, always one or the other. He doesn’t remember anything about skins, though. 

“Not really? I had never even heard of them until I stopped by the gift shop at the resort the other day. It's an interesting legend—”

“Legend!?” Dean squeaks. “Dude, I’m standing right in front of you!”

“I’m sorry, Dean—”

“Why haven't you heard of selkie?” Dean shouts. “What do you even learn in school!?” 

Cas shrinks back against Dean’s anger. “Admittedly I think it was mostly Greek mythology—” he stops short. Dean looked like he was going to have an aneurysm. “I'm from a landlocked state,” he offers meekly.

“What do you mean landlocked? Are you cursed or something?”

“It means I live on land surrounded by more land. It would take me hours just to drive to a beach.”

Dean looks as if the concept personally offends him. Then his whole expression drops. “You mean this was all… an accident? When you gave back my skin, you didn’t… you didn’t have a damn clue, did you?”

Cas frowns, another memory taking hold. His eyes go wide. "That day on the boat, was that you?"

Dean looks like he could cry. "Oh my fucking god." He falls to his knees. He buries his face in his hands before pulling at his hair and staring up at Cas like he's desperately hoping this whole conversation is a mistake. "Cas," he begs.

"I'm sorry," Cas says and he means it. He thinks they both did something to get them here, to this point where they've both completely misunderstood each other. They were too caught up in how well things seemed to be going that they didn't question the things they should have. "Dean, I'm sorry—" 

"I can't—I can't fucking handle this right now. Shit." Dean pushes up to his feet and storms towards the water. 

"Dean—?"

"Dude, I need some time to think about this. This is... this is fucking bad, man. Fuck me, this is bad ," Dean babbles to himself. 

Cas means to reach forward and stop him, but then he stands there frozen. Dean pulls off his hoddie. He puts it on and... and Cas' eyes can't follow what happens. There's Dean one moment, being very human and very normal, and then in seemingly the blink of an eye, there's a brown seal, very not human and very hard for the logical part of Cas' brain to explain. He watches as Dean dives into the water, his tail disappearing and then Cas is alone on the beach. 

Completely, utterly alone.

Chapter Text

Dean remembers Sam and Eileen's wedding ceremony. Not the human one they did after on the beach with their friends in attendance. The skin ceremony, done in front of the family hearth. 

Drift wood burned brightly where Sam and Eileen kneeled before it. Sam handed her the skin, folded neatly as a blanket, and silently offered it to her. It was a moment that meant everything to a selkie and required no vow to make it sacred. Complete trust, profound faith, endless affection, all in a single gesture. 

Eileen accepted it solemnly. She'd understood what it meant, the love inherent in that small act.

Dean had waited with bated breath. He'd trusted Eileen, too, but it was a scary thing. No matter what the outcome, Sam's blood would forever change. There'd be a small little shift in his little brother, one that night not even be perceptible to someone else, but Sam would feel it. 

Without the slightest hesitation, Eileen handed the skin back to Sam. Dean swore the fire sparked and the air grew thicker. But then it was done and the couple was enveloped in hugs from the entire family.

Dean had always imagined his own ceremony going much the same way. The shared look of trust and affection as his world changed forever. 

And now he'd never have that.

He picks a direction and swims. He bypasses the main boating lanes and fishing paths, determined not to run into anyone. He needs to be alone, he needs to think. He needs to figure out where the hell everything went wrong and what the fuck to do about it.

The current pulls him further out to sea. He lets it.

He doesn't mean to, but he doesn't actually do anything productive while he swims. He wallows in everything that's come up in the last hour: embarrassment, disappointment, betrayal.

That last one isn't really fair, though. Cas didn't betray him. Cas didn't know enough to betray him. Even without knowing, he still gave the skin back. No, Cas couldn’t and wouldn’t betray him. If anyone is to blame, it's Dean for making assumptions he apparently had no right to make. 

He's such a fucking idiot.

In the back of his mind, he pictures being the one to tell Cas what he is, to show him, to initiate him into Dean's world. 

And now that's also something they'll never get, and it kills Dean a little inside. The opportunity’s lost, it's all ruined.

Another hour out he realizes he's being followed. It doesn't prickle at the back of his neck like when there's a shark or an orca, so he assumes the worst.

Sam Fucking Winchester, hot on his trail.

He's faster than his brother, they both know it. He could outswim him in no time. He almost does... but he doesn't bother. There's only so long he can avoid this conversation anyway. Might as well get it over with.

Hell, Sam might even be able to help. Certainly couldn’t make things worse.

It's with that thought in mind he changes course. A piece of volcanic rock, some new island in the making, juts out of the water. Most of the surface is too jagged to offer a foothold, but Dean can make out a spot near the bottom where the water has worn it smooth.

"Ugggh!" he shouts at the waves once he's human again. Part of him wants to bang his fists and kick at the rocks, to curse the sea and the stupid magic in his blood. Again, he can’t bring himself to do it. Mostly he's too tired for that kind of tantrum, and it's not like it's the rock's fault or even his blood's fault. 

"Geez, I thought you were going to drag me all the way to friggin China before you stopped," Sam complains. He shakes his hair out, purposefully spraying Dean with most of the water. "So you gonna talk or do I have to make you talk?"

"I'll talk," he grumbles. He pushes his palms into his eyes. This is so fucking embarrassing, but he's earned that. He looks at Sam miserably as he confesses the truth: "He doesn't even know what a selkie is."

Sam crosses his arms over his chest. "And?"

"And... he might have... I mean, I wasn't paying attention... I was caught up in... He—"

"Dean, spit it out."

"He had my skin."

"So?"

"So!?" Dean splutters. "He had my skin!"

"I don't want to downplay how big of a deal that is, but I think you're freaking out more than you should. I mean, he obviously have it back—" He gestures to Dean's hoodie, wrapped protectively around his shoulders. "And you brought him home to meet everyone. He's clearly important to you, and until you found out he's clueless about selkies, you were perfectly okay with the whole thing. So what's the big deal?"

Dean blinks. Sam's logic tracks. He was fine with being bonded to Cas up until that bombshell hit. Fundamentally, did anything really change?

"It can't be that simple," Dean says warily.

"Simple? Who said simple? I'm just saying it's not as hopeless and terrible as you think. You still married a human who doesn't even know you're married and then left him on a beach, but it's not like you can't fix things."

It takes that a moment to sink in. "Aw fuck, I left him ."

"Alone. On a beach. With your nosy parents and grandparents. Yeah."

"...I'm a terrible husband." 

"It's not looking great— Ow !" Sam dodges Dean's second punch. "You don't like it, then fix it! Don't take it out on me!"

Dean shudders to hold back a sob. Fix it? How? He's not even sure what parts are broken. 

"I don't know what to do," he admits.

"I'm no expert, but talking to Cas is probably a good place to start."

"Talk to him and say what , though? What do I even want ? Like, Cas is from a million miles away. He has no clue what he was committing to when he picked up my skin. I can't ask him to uproot his whole life for me."

"Who says that's the only option? That's the whole point of talking. Though yeah, maybe figure out what your ideal is and where your lines are first."

"I've known him three days, Sammy. I've got no clue."

"Okay. Imagine he decides to leave and never come back. How does that feel?"

Dean's surprised how quickly his mind rejects the idea. It's inconceivable, it's unacceptable, it's awful

"And what if he decides to stay here with you? How does that feel?"

It's... good. He likes that, but mostly because it gives them time to figure out the right answer. Right now time isn't on their side, and he hates that. No, they'd need more balance than one extreme or the other. It’d be ridiculously selfish of him to ask that much of Cas and give nothing in return; they’ll have to find a better answer. 

So yeah, talking.

"You're kind of not giving me a lot to go with here," Sam says. "Is this helping or am I just freaking you out more?"

"Both? Honestly, I've got no clue. Like, sure, talk to him but..." His stomach seizes at the thought. 

Hey Cas, let's start over. I'm a surfer who moonlights as a seal and you accidentally married me and I completely thought you knew all this. Wanna stay here and keep falling in love ?

"It's scary, I get that. Me and Eileen started in an easier place, but we had stuff to work out too. Still do. It's never easy being in a relationship with someone who's basically from a different world, but if you think he's worth it, then you've gotta try."

"Yeah, yeah okay. I can uh... I can maybe handle this."

He can't, but he's pretty sure the alternative is worse. If he doesn't try, he loses Cas no matter what. 

"You uh... You think he's still at the house?"

Sam snorts. "Are you crazy? You think I'd leave him there? Eileen drove him back to the resort. They're going to have a human talk or something, I don't know."

"Oh." A pause. "She's not gonna tell him we're married, is she?"

"Dude, that's the least of your worries. You do realize we're still on a rock hours out from home, with the tide against us."

"... So we should head back."

"You think?"

Dean stands on the edge of the rock, water lapping at his feet. His resolve is set, it’s just taking that final leap that's hard. 

"Sammy, I—"

A heavy shove knocks him off his feet. Dean squawks indignantly as he flies into the water. He gets a mouthful of salt, not that it stops him from shouting "Asshole!" when his head breaks the surface.

Sam's already in his seal form, laughing at him.

Dick.

With a splash, Sam dives below the surface. He resurfaces a dozen yards away and barks at Dean, then disappears again. 

"Hey, wait for me!"

Chapter Text

Eileen's waiting for him on the back porch. She sees him alone and runs out to meet him on the sand. He'd been tempted to try and hike back on his own, anything to avoid facing Dean's family without him, but then Eileen's got him in a tight hug and he thinks this is a much better alternative. 

“Come on, I’ll drive you back,” she says. She doesn’t ask how it went, probably because showing up alone is evidence enough.  

It went bad. So so bad. 

There's miles between them and the house before either dares break the silence.

"So selkies, huh?" Cas half jokes. "That's a thing."

Eileen huffs a laugh. "Yeah. You okay?"

Cas shrugs. "I have no idea. My boyfriend's another species, and apparently I hadn't noticed. That's kind of a trip."

"Isn't it?"

More silence as Eileen navigates the overgrown gravel road. 

"How'd you find out? About Sam?"

"It's more, how did I let Sam know I already knew?" She flashes a wide smile. "Surprise of his life. He’d gone to such trouble to hide it, too, since he assumed it was so damn obvious."

"You knew?"

"Marine biologist, remember? I was actually here researching a book on mythical sea creatures. For some reason, this island's full of lore and art... Huge oral tradition. Go figure, right? Granted, I didn't think they were real until I started interviewing people. Then I met Sam's family and just... When he comes out of the ocean after surfing, he just looks like a seal."

Cas can't help but laugh. 

"I can't say I knew, because it's still ridiculous. I just took a shot in the dark. Figured he'd be flattered if I was wrong. He just about stopped breathing, though. Proof enough I was right."

"I saw Dean as an actual seal and I had no clue."

"Honestly, you shouldn't have. Dean's spoiled living here. Sam thought everyone knew what a selkie was and that he needed to hide it, but Dean’s worse. He thinks everyone knows and can recognize it, and after me, I kind of reinforced that. He has no idea what the world is like even a hundred miles from here, never mind a thousand. Whether he knows it or not, his assumptions put a burden on you. And of course he's too much of an idiot to use his words and take two seconds to check." She roles her eyes. "He probably would've had you go through the whole marriage ceremony before he'd said a damn thing."

Cas frowns. Normally he'd laugh along and ignore the comment, but he's got that funny feeling again. Like Eileen says, it only takes two seconds to check on his suspicions instead of letting things build up and spiral out of control again.

"I think I'd have noticed if Dean tried to marry me..." 

"Not a selkie marriage. You'd never notice and he'd be thinking you knew and start..." She slows down the car so she can give him an appraising look.

"What?" he asks nervously.

"Has Dean ever given you his hoodie? Or a towel, maybe? Or any clothes?"

"No?" He thinks, wanting to be sure. This is clearly important. "He never gave me his hoodie, but he left it on the beach once when we went swimming. I picked it up for him."

He watches Eileen's face for any clues. She's carefully neutral, though he detects a slight tremor in her voice.

"And obviously you gave it back. And then he brought you home. Fuck."

"Fuck? No fuck. You mean 'phew' or 'oh well.'"

Eileen considers a moment. "I can maybe downgrade to a 'yikes' but... yeah. Yikes."

They pull up to the resort before Cas can negotiate her down to an 'oh dear.' But still, she's not panicking, so that's something.

"I can't stay, they'll be looking for both of us and I can do more damage control there than I can here, but..." She turns around and rummages through the back seat. When she reemerges, she had a thick book in her hand that she all but shoves into Cas' chest.

Merfolk, Selkie, and Sirens: An Island Tradition of Colonization
By Eileen Leahy

"Selkies are chapter three. No quiz, but you better do the homework."

It's with no small amount of self control that Cas makes it to his room before he opens the book. He skims the dedication page ( To my loving, supportive, completely impossible husband, Sam ) and forward. He nearly tears the pages as he rushes to find chapter three.

It begins with a simple line that makes his mouth go dry.

selkie — mythical creature that has the form of a seal but can shed their skin to become a human; possess a selkie’s seal skin, and you possess them

"Well that's an ominous way to start..."

The hours slowly slip away as he reads. Then he re-reads and then for good measure re-reads it again. He has WiFi at the resort, so once he's memorized everything Eileen has to say about selkies, he scours the internet for more. He devours story after story, all while filling in the gaps from the past few days.

In the end, the conclusion is clear.

He's married to a selkie.

Bonded , Cas corrects himself. Marriage is the human equivalent. This is actually much stronger, much more permanent.

It should scare him to acknowledge it. Without his even knowing it, he bonded with Dean in a way that can only be described as magic. Giving the skin back to Dean allowed him to retain autonomy over his life, but his blood will always yearn for Cas now. 

Permanently.

A little piece of Dean will always belong to Cas, no matter how this ends. 

No wonder he freaked out that Cas didn't know. It really was a complete accident, one that could've gone very badly for Dean. As awkward as it was to be abandoned on the beach, he thinks he might have reacted similarly in Dean's position. 

As long as Dean comes back, he knows he'll forgive him.

... He is coming back, right?

He dismisses the concern almost as soon as he has it. Sooner or later, he'll see Dean again, and his money is on sooner. Dean has an obvious, vested interest in seeing this through, never mind that Cas knows Dean genuinely cares about him. 

No, he should be focusing on himself. 

What's he going to do?

He doesn't mind that Dean's not quite human. It’s certainly strange and might take more time to really digest, but it’s not the deal breaker he might have once thought it to be. It's more the marriage bonding thing. And the living thousands of miles apart thing. Those seem much bigger mountains to climb than a slight species difference.

While he knows he should talk to Dean about all of this (and extensively), he still needs to process a few things. He needs to figure out his own wants and needs so that when the time comes, he can address Dean's wants and needs. Compromise, as he's learned from countless court cases, depends on both sides knowing the hard truths about what they really want vs what they can live with. 

What he needs is rather straightforward. He needs Dean to be comfortable with whatever they decide, since regardless of intent, Dean's the one who will have to live with lasting consequences from the past few days. That's very much out of his control for the moment, until he can hear from Dean, so his needs get put on hold. 

So the question is—aside from reconciling with Dean and a miraculous situation that requires neither of them giving up anything at all while gaining everything—what does he want?

It's a question that's going to drive him crazy if left on his own to stew in it. He'll imagine countless scenarios and then second guess them until he's more of a mess than when he started. He needs to talk , but he's not sure who he can talk to. 

Eileen has been very helpful and understanding, but ultimately she's not a neutral party here. Dean's her family, and he'll be constantly on her mind. It's him she'd be looking out for more than anyone else. They're on an island surrounded by people who are on Dean's side. Who's on his side?

The answer comes to him from the strangest place. He flops onto the bed, back to the balcony and his eyes happen to land on the derpy stuffed seal he purchased a day ago.

Gabe.

Gabe picks up on the third ring. "It's like one AM, what the fuck—" 

“What would you say if I told you I got married?"

His brother pauses. "I’d say who are you and what have you done with my brother."

"I’m serious, Gabe."

He can hear Gabe's jaw dropping over the line. "Uh, okay. Bombshell there. Uh... This is Cas , right?"

"Gabriel," he warns.

Another pause. 

"Well, if you had actually gotten married, I would say congrats. Whoever it was that got you to marry them after only a week, they must be something special."

"You wouldn’t say I’m crazy?"

"You’re a big boy, you can make decisions for yourself."

"But would you think it's a good idea?" he presses. Gabe's easy acceptance is strangely refreshing, but it's not necessarily what Cas needs to hear. "Am I jumping into things too quickly?"

"Probably? That's just going on the timeline, I can't make a fair assessment without meeting the lucky lady. Uh, lucky fellow? Lucky human being."

Cas grimaces.

"The point is," Gabe continues, "I can't tell you that you've made a mistake or made the right choice from Kansas, but if you've gotten married, you should know. You should know if it's a good idea or not. And if you don't, then you should figure that out before, you know, you have to fly home next week. Assuming you're still flying home and not staying there for the honeymoon or whatever."

"So what you're saying is that I, right now, should have a gut feeling if this is the right course of action?"

"Dude, were you drunk when you got hitched or something?"

"Or something," he mumbles. 

"Okay, well, do you want an annulment? Divorce? Whatever?"

He takes a moment to think. How does it feel knowing he's connected to Dean forever. Does he want to break that connection, or keep it?

Unconsciously, his hand goes up to finger the coral necklace Dean gave him. 

"No," he says with a calm certainty. He doesn't want to erase his bond with Dean. “I don’t want a divorce.”

"Okay then. Congrats, you're married. Figure out the logistics, send me a link to the wedding registry, and call me back at a reasonable hour so I can find out more about my whoever-in-law."

"His name's Dean. He's a handsome surfer who owns nearly half the island." Now that he's started, Cas can't contain how happy he is, how much he adores Dean. "He's amazing and—"

Gabe's whistle cuts him off. "Hot, rich surfer? He got a brother or sister?"

"A brother, but he's already married."

"Damn. You set up a time to Skype so I can pretend to make sure he's good enough for you, but really I can talk you up so he doesn't realize you're not good enough for him."

"Very funny, Gabe."

"I think you mean 'thank you' and you're very welcome. Night, bro."

"It's not night here."

"Don't care. Bye."

Despite his brother's rather obvious faults, Cas knows Gabe's heart is in the right place when it counts. He feels immensely better after their short talk, more settled in his decision. He'll do what he can to make things work with Dean, so long as that's what Dean wants, too. 

Now he just has to wait for Dean... and maybe find a way to bridge the gap between them. Make an effort to be vulnerable with Dean the way Dean inadvertently was with him.

Oh. He has the perfect idea…

Chapter Text

Dean hates that he ran away.

Obviously he hates himself for abandoning Cas the second things got tough, but right now he hates the more practical problem of swimming back to the island. Every mile he swan he now has to retrace, which gives him plenty of time to beat himself up over this whole mess.

It's late by the time the familiar skyline of rocks and trees and a small downtown come into view. The resort is at the center of it all, lit like a beacon welcoming him home. 

He can't change back right on the beach. Even if everyone who matters knows who and what he is, Dean's now painfully aware of just how little the tourists are aware of his life, his existence. He'd probably freak them out if someone saw, end up on the front page of some newspaper somewhere and then he and his kind would have to be a lot more careful with their skins.

Besides, he's never been one for that kind of spectacle. Not for strangers, anyway.

There's a quiet spot well away from the scenic beaches that bring in the tourists. It's too rocky, the waves too rough. Perfect place to find some privacy while he changes back. 

He scales the rocks with a bark of encouragement from the water. Dean very deliberately gives his brother the finger when he jumps onto the sand and starts running towards the resort.

Cas is probably in his room, right? Dean'll just go up there, beg for forgiveness, and hope for the best. 

Dean picks his way through the crowds. Even with the sun going down, there are plenty of tourists on the beach. He nearly trips over a toddler destroying a sand castle, then nearly bumps into a couple as they unpack their bags from a taxi. He’s babbling apology after apology as he rushes up the marble steps leading into the resort's main lobby. 

"Dean?"

His heart stops.

Only for a second, though, because that is definitely not Cas' voice. He turns in confusion only to have to look down at the terrified woman he's now towering over. 

"What?" he snaps and the woman visibly flinches.

He's suddenly aware that he probably looks half crazed, dripping wet and covered in sand, seaweed, and whatever else he dragged up on his run over.

He scolds himself and tries again. "Sorry. You need something, because I'm kind of in a hurry here."

"I don't know if you remember me? From school? I'm Becky?" She gains more confidence as she speaks and Dean actually does think he knows her.

"You that chick who had that crush on Sam and asked him to prom? Because he's married now—"

She flushes bright pink. "This isn't about Sam. This is official resort business. Castiel asked me to look for you."

"Cas?" Dean stops trying to walk away. "What'd he say? Is he angry? Does he not want to see me?"

"He said to let you know he's waiting at the alcove. He said you'd know where that is."

Dean laughs in relief. That's a good sign, right? Not only does he want to talk, but he's chosen the place where— 

Where they got married.

Oh. Oh shit , he knows. He knows and he didn't hear it from Dean.

"Fuck," Dean mumbles before a polite, "Thanks, Becky." Then he's off, back the way he came. Sure, he could make the hike, but swimming is faster.

The swim gives him something to concentrate on. The sun has nearly gone down, and as much as he hates navigating through the water in the dark, there's no way he's not getting to Cas ASAP.

He's already made Cas wait long enough. 

Dean changes back the second it's shallow enough for him to walk onto shore. He's dripping wet, a complete disaster of a human being (even one that's not completely human), but there's Cas, waiting for him as promised. 

"Cas!" he calls, voice hoarse because shit, this is it. He's got a husband waiting for him on the beach, one he adores but that he's completely taken for granted, at least when it comes to understanding what Dean is. He suddenly, desperately needs to fix this, because he doesn't just want Cas around, he needs him, desperately. 

Cas startles slightly at the sound of his voice—or maybe it's his sudden appearance from the surf—but he walks to meet Dean. He looks far calmer than Dean does, and he hopes that's a good sign. 

It's definitely a good sign when Cas throws his arms around Dean and pulls him into a hug.

"I'm so glad you came," Cas sighs into him, melts into the embrace and nuzzles against Dean's hoodie.

"I'm glad you invited me," Dean mumbles. His arms encircle Cas. It feels nice.

"You're soaking wet," Cas says. "I'm soaking wet now too, aren't I?"

"Probably," Dean laughs and reluctantly pulls away. He doesn't go far, and a hand lingers on Cas' cheek as he searches his eyes. "I'm sorry I ran away."

"Does it count as running if you swam?" Cas teases, then more seriously adds, "While I didn't appreciate it at the time, I've had the opportunity to learn more about your position and consider how you must have felt in that moment. It was not necessarily the right thing to do, but it was a very natural thing, to want space." He pauses then, focuses on his hands where they rest on Dean's chest. "It's so soft..." 

His hands spread across the hoodie. The rest of his clothes might be soaked from the swim, but his skin is nearly dry now, hoodie included. It's warm, Dean knows that from all the times he's been wrapped in his mom's skin as a pup, and he watches in fascination as Cas reverently touches it for the first time... at least, it's the first time he's  understood what he's touching. Dean holds his breath and tries not to shudder as Cas' fingers explore. All the damn adrenaline must have his wires crossed, because he's half hard under Cas' ministrations and attention.

No, focus! Sex later, talk first!

... Maybe just a little sex— 

No!

"Hey," Dean says as he gently takes hold of Cas' hands. There's no way he's going to keep any semblance of self control if Cas keeps that up. "We should uh... talk? I guess?"

"Oh." Cas shakes his head, breaking whatever spell he was under seconds ago. "Right. Yes, we should."

They stand there in awkward silence. There's so much distance between where they are now and where they need to be that Dean doesn't even know how to start. All those imagined conversations, words of apology and explanation carefully formed on the swim, disappear as he tries to pin them down and spit them out. 

Luckily, Cas starts. 

"So I read Eileen's book..."

"Fuck," Dean hisses, because yeah, that means Cas knows and Dean wasn't even the one to tell him. 

"Well, I didn't read all of it," Cas says with a frown, squinting at Dean in confusion. "Mostly just the chapter on selkies—"

"I ain't mad you read it. And definitely read it all, she did a lot of research and it's damned good, but yeah. I just... realized you didn't even know we were married, and I figured I should be the one to break it to you." Then he realizes how ridiculous that sounds, and adds, "I mean, selkie married. Not uh... not human married. So uh... since you're human, it doesn't like... count? I guess? If you don't want it to?"

Cas stares at him long and hard, his expression indecipherable. "And what if I do want it to count?"

There is no way he'll ever admit to it later, but Dean whimpers when he hears that.

"You didn't know. You don't have to—"

"I know. I know I don't have to do anything if I don't want to. And I should add that you don't have to, either. I have a better understanding of your traditions, of the—of the magic that binds you to me simply because of an accident, a complete misunderstanding, and that's not fair to you. So if you would rather I board my flight next week and never come back, I absolutely will."

Dean gulps. "And if I don't want that? Like at all? Maybe more the exact opposite?"

Cas smiles. "Then the marriage counts."

No one could blame Dean for swooping in to kiss Cas then. He's not a sap, he doesn't believe in love at first sight or even love after a damned weekend together, but he knows himself to trust the instincts that drew him to Cas in the first place. Cas is good people, even if he's more of a landlocked state kind of people, and Dean has no doubt love will come with time. Hell, it might be just over the horizon if Cas keeps up being so damn awesome. 

Suddenly Cas pulls away and Dean feels absolutely bereft. Cas' lips aren't against his, he's not in Dean's arms, the world is awful. 

"Oh!" Cas is fumbling through his pockets. "I have something for you. A uh... a gift."

Suddenly he has a small square box in his hands. It's flat and actually looks like it came from the resort's gift shop, the type people use to pack up the random souvenirs they've purchased so they won't break in transit back home. Dean has no clue what on earth Cas could think he'd want from the damn gift shop, but he's really curious to find out. 

"What is it?" Dean asks as he accepts the box. Like a child, he holds it up to his ear and shakes it, though he hears nothing but the roar of the waves behind him. 

"I read about selkie gift giving traditions," Cas says shyly. He's been a rock, solid and steady this whole conversation, and Dean's envied that. Now, though, Cas is blushing all the way to the tips of his ears. It's adorable, quite frankly. 

"Okay," Dean says slowly. "Eileen's definitely the human expert but I don't remember her book saying anything about keychains or bottle openers—"

"Open it," Cas says with fond exasperation. There's a slight tremor in his voice that has Dean's protective instincts wanting to wrap Cas in another hug to calm him down. 

Dean opens the box and finds... a blue, silk tie.

Dean raises an eyebrow at Cas as he pulls it out. The tie is clearly well worn and not something the gift shop would sell. It actually matches Cas' eyes. It's a nice tie, to be sure, but Dean doesn't understand. 

"Cas—?"

"So selkies give gifts that are uh... important to the gift giver, right? They represent something about the person giving the gift. And clothing, clothing plays such a big role and I thought... I can't... I can't give you my skin. I can't ever equal the gesture of giving you my skin and all that entails. I would, but I..." He trails off. His eyes are on the tie, his expression open and if Dean didn't know better, he'd swear Cas is staring longingly at the tie, like he's not sure this is the right move and he kind of wants the tie back. 

It's weird, mostly because Dean honestly feels like he's on the outside looking in for once. It's a much more muted than what Dean had experienced on this beach, but he can sense that it's at least in the same ballpark. Maybe more like the front gate of the ballpark, but still. Right direction. 

Dean patiently asks, "So what does this tie represent about you?" 

"I'm a lawyer, and I have to wear suits and ties when I go to court. I didn't have a tie when I finally passed the bar. That was the first tie I ever wore to trial. My grandmother gave it to me. It'd been my grandfather's, he was a lawyer too, and she swore it was lucky. I won my first case, so I kept it. I won the next one too, so I wore it again after that. Now it's been ten years, and I've worn that tie too many times to count. If you knew how much of my life has been dedicated to my work... I threw myself into it for so many years and... and that tie, it's... it's basically me, encapsulated in one article of clothing." 

Dean's fingers run over the silk again, noting each fray, each stain, each fold where Cas has tied the tie so many times it doesn't quite want to give up the shape of the knot. It's a beautiful gesture, he thinks. There's no magic in it, but it speaks profoundly of Cas' willingness to meet Dean halfway. Cas is trying, very very hard, and it brings a tear to Dean's eyes. 

Yep, his instincts were right. Cas is a keeper.

“You wear suits?" he teases. "That's hot as fuck.”

Cas huffs in mock annoyance. “How am I the idiot for not knowing what a selkie is, but you can just not know that lawyers wear suits?”

Dean laughs. He very delicately packs the tie back into the box and hands it over to Cas. 

"You don't like it?"

"I love it," Dean says. "That's why I'm giving it back. That's how selkie marriages work, remember? It only counts if we trust each other enough to give them back." 

Cas' eyes go from the box to Dean to the box again. Then he practically knocks Dean over as he lunges at him, wrapping him in a hug and stealing his lips in a hungry kiss. 

"Why you bring your lucky tie on your vacation?" Dean manages to say between kisses. He very gingerly puts the box into Cas' back pocket for safekeeping. Cas was right, selkie have a thing about clothes, especially important ones, and he doesn't know if he could bear losing the tie by mistake. 

"I brought a suit. Just in case I met a handsome surfer who wanted to go on a fancy date. Shut up about the tie and kiss me."

"Alright, sweetheart, I think I can manage that…"

Chapter Text

Cas stretches, rolls towards the solid, warm heat next to him, and sighs in contentment. He purposefully keeps his mind blank and hopes sleep will pull him under again. He wraps his arms around Dean—he's just aware enough to know it's Dean—and buries his face in the soft hairs on the back of Dean's neck.

The hairs tickle his nose, enough that he actually sneezes. He's dangerously close to waking up in earnest, and he frowns petulantly. Maybe if he wiggles a little farther under the blanket, he can gain a few more minutes— 

Blanket? They're on a beach, aren't they?

He jerks upright. Suddenly the world comes into stark focus. The sun creeping over the cliff face, the tide creeping closer and closer, and a thick, warm blanket draped over him and Dean. 

Cas takes the blanket between his fingers, the material now familiar even if he's never seen it in this form.

Dean's skin. 

His throat tightens at the display of trust and affection... and the reminder that they still have so much to talk about. 

... Not that he regrets being distracted.

Still. They've only discussed one of the issues they need to. The marriage might have been the most pressing matter, but it's not necessarily the most practical.

"Dean?" he mumbles and gently shakes Dean by the shoulder. "Wake up."

"No," he whines. "Sleep."

"I thought I was the grumpy one. Wake up, please."

"Make me."

It's a challenge he readily accepts. He starts with kisses along Dean's neck, his cheek, his nose. Dean's grinning even as he pretends to be asleep. 

When his hands wander Dean's waist, Dean wiggles his hips backward in encouragement. 

"As much as I would love to continue this," Cas whispers in his ear, "I think we need to continue our talk from last night instead."

He expects Dean put up more of a fight. Instead he rolls over and blinks up at Cas. 

"Do we have to?" 

"Dean..."

"No, I know. Sex is good, talk is better. It's just that... I really like how things are right now, and I'm scared it's only downhill from here."

"Me too," Cas admits. He worries their differences might be insurmountable despite their wishes, but after the look of sheer joy in Dean's eyes when he'd understood Cas' gift... well, he has hope. "Together we'll make it work. Compromise where we need to."

"Compromise," Dean repeats skeptically. "Cas, you live hours from the beach. That doesn't work for me. I mean that in like... a biological way. It wouldn't do either of us any favors for me to come with you."

Cas nods. He'd been expecting this. He'd actually put a lot of thought into possibilities while he waited for Dean. 

"I can move. I'm only still in Kansas because it's easier. There are lawyers everywhere."

Dean looks up at him, wide-eyed and vulnerable. "You'd move for me?"

"Yes, but on the requirement that I can find a job. I enjoy working, even though I have a tendency to overdo it—"

"I can help with that," Dean promises, some of his usual flirtiness back.

"I'll hold you to that."

"Do you think you could get a job here?" Dean has a fearful, almost desperate note to his voice. 

"It's possible and I will look into it, but I doubt they have what I'm looking for."

Dean hesitates. "If it's about money..."

"It's not," Cas assures him. "It's more about the type of cases and legal expertise I have."

"Corporate lawyer," Dean says. It's cute, especially since Cas is now very certain Dean has no idea what that means. The fact that he remembers has more to do with his interest in Cas, and that's very sweet. "I could uh... I could maybe move to a bigger island. Not far away," he adds hastily. "Maybe like uh... Hawaii?"

"You think Hawaii is big?"

"... It's not?"

"Oh Dean." He brushes his hands through the loose strands of Dean's hair. "Please let me take you on a tour of the world. I would love to show you mountains, the Great Lakes, snow ."

"Cas, I'll go anywhere you want to go, I just gotta end up back here. I got family, friends, a life here... I'm connected to this island, and leaving for good terrifies me. Don't get me wrong, I want to explore the world with you. I've swum a hundred miles every direction from here just for kicks... It's just.. it's—"

"But the tide always brings you home," Cas finishes for him.

"I don't want to be the one who's taking everything in this relationship," Dean mumbles. His fingers trace patterns along the blanket—his skin , Cas isn't sure he'll ever quite get used to that—and he won't meet Cas' eyes. "Relationships like that never work out. Resentment and all that."

"You're not taking anything I'm not willing to give. I want a job, you need to be by the sea, those aren't mutually exclusive."

"You said you love your job," Dean accuses and yes, Cas has said that.

"I love the job," he amends. "I like being a lawyer. I don't specifically love my job, the one I currently have. I can move, I promise you."

Dean worries his bottom lip. It's a completely innocent, unconscious movement, but after everything he's seen Dean so with his mouth, it's downright sinful.

"Dean..." It takes a monumental effort to look away from his lips. He gently nudges Dean's chin so he'll look at him again. "Right now, we're agreeing to try. I'm agreeing to look for a new job closer to here, you're agreeing to change islands. There are always ways things can fall apart... especially if you're looking for them."

"I've never been in a real relationship," Dean blurts out. "I—it's just—people leave . It doesn't matter how much I like them or how well things are going. They leave, and I can't follow. You go to some place surrounded by land... I'm never getting you back unless you choose to come back, so I know I'm being extra selfish here—"

Cas cuts him off with a kiss.

"Dean."

"Yeah?" He looks dazed, his eyes slightly unfocused and a dopey smile pulling at the corner of his mouth. 

"Stop overthinking it."

"Yeah, okay."

"I still have a week here before my flight..." Cas gives a half shrug. "That's enough time for me to start the job search, enough time to get to know each other better..." He gulps. "Enough time to maybe get to know each other's families..."

"A week isn't that much time."

"Dean, look how far we've come in four days. If we've gotten past the surprise marriage and interspecies issue already, I think the sky's the limit for a whole week."

At that, Dean laughs and pulls Cas down into a bone crushing hug. He rubs his nose into Cas' hair. Cas can't help but think of a seal as he does it. 

"How'd I get so lucky?" Dean says before kissing his temple. 

"No idea," Cas says seriously, earning him a warning nip on his earlobe. "Ow, stop, I'm your husband!" 

Then the tickles start. Then the wrestling. And then, hours later when Cas is fed up of sand and Dean's hungry, the rest of their lives start. Together.

— fin — 

Chapter Text

Gabe

  • They do indeed set up a time to Skype with Gabe. He's relatively tame (for him) and does in fact talk up how awesome his baby bro is... and shoos Cas away from the screen for a bit to give the "don't hurt my little brother" speech. Dean solemnly promises to never hurt Cas if he can help it, earning him instant approval.
  • "Who are you kidding? You approved as soon as you heard he was rich and hot."
    "I'm wounded. It's true, but I'm wounded."
  • They can't decide whether or not to tell Gabe about the selkie thing. He notices Dean is... strange, but it's not like he has any idea selkies are a thing. The seal's out of the bag, though, when he visits the island and sees Dean transform (whoops).
  • He takes it rather well.
  • Gabe, staring at a seal suspiciously: Dean-o is that you?
    Dean: ... I'm standing right here
    Gabe: so is this like your cousin or something?
    Dean: you think just because it's a seal I'm related to them—
    Cas: Dean.
    Dean: ... It's my uncle
  • As strange as Gabe finds the whole selkie thing, the Winchesters find Gabe equally strange (if not more so). It gives them some perspective on how Cas must view the selkie thing. 
  • Sam, staring at Gabe suspiciously: he's weird, right? even for a human?
    Eileen: oh absolutely. it's not just you.

 

The Winchesters

  • Sam and Eileen are relieved they worked things out.
  • (Sam quietly slides Eileen five bucks when they find out.)
  • They debate whether or not to tell Dean's family the whole ordeal. Dean wants to be honest, but Cas points out they really just need to know the marriage bit, not the selkie confusion stuff. Save them both the embarrassment. 
  • Dean: It's not that embarrassing
    Sam, eating a bag of chips: yeah it is
    Dean: NO ONE ASKED YOU
  • The rest of Dean's family readily accepts Cas, though they are surprised to learn the marriage already took place. But if Dean it's happy, they're happy. 
  • They do a more formal wedding (eventually). Both selkie and human. Dean mutters he doesn't see the point, they're already married (but secretly he's very pleased).
  • (It's not much of a secret, since Cas and everyone else knows.)
  • The Campbell side of the family are kind of dicks and tease Cas about not being able to swim. Mary is pissed and makes it her mission to teach him. Both Cas and Dean are too scared of her to refuse. 
  • Cas indeed becomes a very good swimmer. It's one of his favorite things, going on swims in the shallows with Dean's family, and on longer swims with just Dean. In seal form.
  • Cas learns sign language. He and Eileen cheat at cards all the time. Soon they are banned from being on a team together. They have no remorse. After all, the humans have to stick together. 
  • Let's also take a moment to imagine uncles Dean and Cas babysitting twin selkie pups who are adorable but mischievous. After a swim at the family beach, they refuse to turn back and come to shore. The result is always Dean's loud seal barks and Cas frantically signing all manner of bribes in an attempt to get the human versions of their nieces back.
  • Also imagine then dutifully dressing in tutus and tiaras to attend tea parties... which half the time, the girls prefer to attend as seals.
  • They can't complain, though. Even if their nieces were way worse and not adorable and amazing... they do kind of owe Sam and Eileen, which neither is likely to let them forget any time soon.
  • Cas is mildly annoyed that boy girls learn how to swim (seal and human) better than he does. They constantly tease him about it their whole lives. 

 

Cas' Job

  • Cas' job goes through a lot of iterations. First he flies back home to figure things out there. He has money put aside, so he takes some of his saved vacation time then puts in his notice. He doesn't want to be stuck in Kansas while he figures things out. 
  • (Though of course Dean surprises him by flying out to see him. This is where Dean learns firsthand what a landlocked state is—he hates it—and that he really fucking does not like airplanes. He does like getting to see where Cas is from, though. That alone makes it worthwhile.)
  • Cas tries some work at smaller firms on Hawaii. This works for a while, but they both realize quickly it's not a long term thing. Cas isn't thrilled with the job itself and Dean, despite his best efforts, isn't sure he wants these islands in particular. It's a little too big, too crowded, too many people who could see him transform and he feels more trapped here than he did in Kansas, oddly enough.
  • They try Australia for a bit. That's a change for both of them, but Cas spends too much time researching Australian law and Dean is confused by the wildlife. 
  • Henry's the one who pulls Cas aside on a visit to the Winchester home. He mentions that the Winchester-Campbell estates are quite large and could use a lawyer to help oversee them. Never mind that there are several islands in the area with other selkie (or siren or cecaelia) families who could use his help. Plus there's pro bono work, helping out at the resort... There is in fact plenty to do much more locally, if he's interested.
  • Cas is interested. Dean is interested.
  • (Cas also has a small internal meltdown when he realizes that siren and cecaelia and mermaids and all that are real too. And then he meets them. Dean is eternally amused by this.)
  • They get their own room at the Winchester house (Dean's old room), but quickly decide that's not for them. They appreciate staying there from time to time, but over the years it's clearly become Sam and Eileen's home, one where they'll raise their pups together. Dean and Cas buy their own place on the island, close by but private enough that it's distinctly theirs.
  • The locals are somewhat in awe of Cas. Those that actually know what Dean's family are (people like Ellen and Jo) are amazed by both Eileen and Cas, that they were able to marry into an all selkie family and hold their own with people like Samuel Campbell and John Winchester. Those that don't know the selkie thing (you know, the ones that have always been suspicious but would never say anything for fear of looking like superstitious fools... but also the ones who would declare "I FUCKING KNEW IT!!" if they ever got proof) are amazed that Cas not only won over chronic flirt Dean Winchester... they got him to leave the island (no matter how temporary that move might be). Cas clearly has magic powers of some sort that might trump the (alleged) selkies living on the island. 

 

Dean and Cas Explore the World

  • Airplanes are out, but Cas still drags Dean all over the world. Obviously they tour fantastic beaches. They see the Great Lakes. They see islands near and far, rivers, waterfalls. They do all the water stuff first, because it's easiest, but Dean soon gets a thirst for seeing more.
  • They go to mountains. Dean sees snow for the first time. It's cold and he hates it... until he tries snowboarding. It's not as fun as surfing, but it'll do. 
  • They go to famous cities and just do all the tourist things. Cas always teases Dean about that, about finally being a tourist when he's used to being a local. Dean will fondly roll his eyes, say he's not that bad, and then proceed to do the tourist-y things imaginable. 
  • Dean expands his horizons with food in particular. He really fucking loves food, and he loves trying the cuisine all around the world. It's amazing. He has been missing out. 
  • (Though he will also criticize places that have bad seafood. Cas will point out that they aren't near fresh water whenever this happens, something that Dean always intellectually understands but doesn't get, y'know?)
  • Basically they become world travelers together, experts for the local selkie community when it comes to recommending good places to visit that are indeed selkie-friendly.

 

Dean and Cas in Love

  • They don't say the L word for a long time. They both admit they've always been drawn to each other, that there's been something there from the very beginning, something possibly more profound than a word like love can describe. Dean jokes they're soulmates, Cas that they knew each other in another life and haven't forgotten. It doesn't matter how or why, though. 
  • Dean says it first. It comes in a moment of awe. They're swimming by a coral reef, Dean as his seal self and Cas with snorkeling gear, and Cas is just... there with him. It's the two of them, exploring, being together, living their lives as an adventure that they share, and Dean just... knows. He knows he loves Cas. 
  • And like an idiot, he forgets he's a seal and tries to say it right then and there, but all it comes out as is a friggin seal bark. He has to wait until they get to shore where he confesses he's in love with Cas, blows him right there on the beach (it is thankfully a secluded beach), and then he can't stop saying it. "Morning Cas, I love you. Night Cas, I love you. What would you like for lunch, Cas? Also, I love you." It's adorable.
  • Cas doesn't say he loves Dean out loud until their first anniversary. He's admitted it to himself by then, but he's somehow scared of saying it to Dean. He shouldn't be—they're married for fuck's sake—but he stops himself every time he's on the brink. But then Dean takes him out to the Roadhouse on their anniversary, re-enacting their first date. This time, though, Dean's wearing Cas' blue tie and his skin is in the form of a lovely blue suit and... and it just kind of slips out, right then and there. Dean beams, cheeks flushed, and says it back. 
  • Now they can't stop saying it.
  • Dean and Cas also develop some new kinks along the way. Very very specific ones.
  • Cas has a thing for Dean's skin. It's like a condensed version of Dean. He wears it whenever Dean will let him. His favorite thing is to sleep bundled up in it, to lazily jerk off wearing it, wear it while he and Dean have sex. It's the closest he can get to Dean, wearing his literal skin, and he just... loves it. 
  • Dean has a thing for Cas wearing his skin. It's a possessive streak in him, he supposes. Something like seeing Cas wear his clothes (which also gets him all hot and bothered... selkie do love their clothes), but way more personal. It's Cas claiming him by having his skin, and him claiming Cas by having him wear it. 
  • Speaking of Dean's possessive streak... They maybe dip into some BDSM. Cas loves submitting to Dean because it's Dean and he loves him. Dean finds he fucking loves domming Cas because, well, it subverts all those selkie legends he grew up fearing. Cas owns him by old selkie law, he holds a claim to Dean down to Dean's very blood because he possesses Dean's skin, and yet Cas willingly submits to Dean. Dean can boss him around, boss around this person who could literally tell Dean to do anything he wanted to and Dean would be compelled to do it. It's just so... wrong? naughty? Dean can't describe it, but it's a huge power trip to tie Cas down, have his way with him, and not have to ever fear any consequences. 
  • He also loves doting on Cas afterward. He goes crazy with the aftercare because it's also in his nature to take care of his family, and Cas is most definitely his family.
  • And last but not least, there's the tattoos. Skin is sacred to a selkie, they don't get tattoos lightly. That's why Cas gets one, he wants to show how important Dean is to him by forever marking himself. He gets a tattoo of Dean's paw print right on his right shoulder, something that shows the claim Dean has on him. 
  • (Dean may or may get hard the second he sees it. Because holy fuck.)
  • (He likes to get Cas out of his shirt specifically to see that tattoo. He'll stroke it and kiss it and nibble it, especially during sex.)
  • Dean loves the idea so much that he gets Cas' hand tattooed on his left shoulder, because Cas has left a mark on him as surely as he has on Cas. Cas, while perhaps not quite as openly enthusiastic as Dean, does have a thing for laying his hand over Dean's shoulder when he's feeling particularly sappy and in love.
  • (i.e. really often)


Most importantly... they lived happily ever after.