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Russian to the Altar

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Chapter One

 

Trick or Sweet was a bakery-slash-chocolate shop, but Dean was fairly sure that Gabriel would have him turn half of it into a joke shop if he could—something epic, of Fred and George Weasley proportions. The man was a prankster extraordinaire, so Dean was slightly suspicious when his business partner welcomed him with a wide smile, freshly made coffee, and a cheery greeting. It would hardly be the first time he squeezed in a major prank before eight in the morning.

“Dean-o! Good morning! I’ve got you some fresh coffee right here. Sit down and take a load off, buddy!”

“What do you want?” Dean asked suspiciously, very slowly sliding himself into the offered seat in the café portion of the bakery.

Dean and Gabriel had met at culinary school, both of them taking night classes, though for different reasons. Dean had worked as a mechanic since he was just fourteen, and his Uncle Bobby still needed him during the daytime; Gabriel was taking classes his family didn’t approve of, as apparently Novaks were all lawyers, philosophers, or doctors, and certainly didn’t dabble in genital-shaped chocolatery, like Gabriel did.

They’d bonded over their shared love of food, fun, and frolics, and had discovered that in their own secret ways, they were both huge nerds. Whereas Dean obsessed over movies and books and spoke several languages that were—in the strictest of senses—entirely fictional, Gabriel was tinhat-deep in bizarre conspiracy theories whenever he wasn’t at Doctor Who conventions or designing new, startlingly good, chocolate combinations.

Even so, both dorks as they were, Gabriel could be trying to work with on occasion.

“I don’t want anything!” Gabriel protested, lowering a steaming cup of joe to the small, bistro-style table just inside the window bay. They weren’t open yet, so they had a few minutes for… whatever this was.

“Uh-huh,” said Dean, unconvinced, wary of being lulled into a false sense of security.

Gabriel disappeared behind the pastry counter and emerged with a fresh, flakey slice of apple pie. The plate was even complete with the tiny doily under the slice.

“Pie for breakfast?” Dean asked, still convinced that Gabriel was entirely untrustworthy.

“Hey, nothing wrong with a sweet treat for breakfast! It’s great pie!”

“I know it is, Gabriel,” Dean said flatly. “I was here at four this morning making it, remember? Before I went to do the deliveries.”

Gabriel rolled his eyes dramatically and flopped down into the chair opposite Dean. He took a moment to pull off his hairnet, letting loose blond waves  fall about his face. “Can’t a business partner and best friend provide breakfast to another on occasion?”

“Balthazar’s your best friend.”

“You wound me, Dean. You’re at least equal, when you’re not criticizing my ganache.”

“Did Kali kick you out again and you need to sleep on my couch?”

“Nope!” Gabriel sounded quite proud. “We’re actually doing well. I haven’t even had to sleep on my own couch for a couple of weeks now.”

Dean couldn’t help but huff out a laugh. To say that his friend was dysfunctional was an understatement. But given the way he’d been raised, Dean often gave him a pass. His family were big; big name, big money. The perfect society family. At least until his dad had run off and left them when Gabriel was a kid, claiming that he couldn’t stand Naomi Novak’s coldness any longer, and that he’d found love with a Russian waitress named Rachel. Charles gave up his citizenship and put an ocean between himself and his emotionless ex-wife, not to mention his kids. Gabriel never really spoke about it, though as far as Dean knew, he had a whole other half of his family over in Russia.

“Alright, so no couch surfing,” Dean said, with some relief. Gabriel had occupied Dean’s guest room for a while when their business first launched, and they’d about killed each other. Thoughtful, he raised a forkful of his own goddamn fantastic pie to his mouth. “Did you forget to get the order in to the supplier on time again?”

“Jesus Dean, that was one time.

“Alright, alright. You don’t need an alibi, do you? Because if it’s a law thing, you’d be better off with my brother.”

Gabriel gave a long, drawn out, suffering sigh. “Fine.”

“Aha! So there is something!” Dean snapped his fingers and grinned for a moment, before alarm overtook him. “Wait, you don’t really need an alibi, do you?”

Gabriel grabbed the sugar shaker from the table as he chuckled, depositing far more crystals than a grown man should consume into his own coffee. “No, dude. I’m not in trouble with the law. Well, I mean… not unless we get caught.”

“We?” Dean spluttered, pie forgotten.

“This isn’t going well.”

“Gabe! Out with it!”

“I need you to marry my brother,” Gabriel said.

All at once, Dean’s brain did an illegal U-turn over the center line and screeched to a halt in the middle of oncoming traffic. There were so many things to say to that, but for some reason, what came out of Dean’s mouth was: “But Michael and Luke are both already married.”

Gabriel blinked. “Well you took that better than expected.”

“I’m not so sure I did; I think my brain is just rebooting. I suggest you talk quickly before it fully reloads.” Dean slid his hands around the white porcelain mug that Gabriel had provided, watching the heat curl from the black mirror surface in the dim, early morning light of the shop.

“Not Michael or Luke,” Gabriel confirmed. “I need you to marry Castiel.”

“Who?” Dean felt his own forehead crease as he raised his eyebrow in utter confusion.

“My younger half-brother. He’s Dad and Rachel’s kid.”

This was new insight into Gabriel’s family, for Dean. “You’ve never even spoken about that side of your family to me, Gabe.”

Gabriel nodded slowly to his coffee. “Yeah, I know. As a kid, I was angry and I pushed them all away, but as an adult… you’ve met my mother. I don’t blame Dad one bit for leaving, making a new family. We’ve gotten closer over the last couple of years. I have two half-brothers and a half-sister—twins, Anna and Alfie, and Castiel is the youngest.”

“How young?”

“Anna and Alfie are only two years younger than me, twenty-six. And then Cassie is twenty-five.”

“Alright,” Dean said slowly. “Now that we’ve played Novak Guess Who, are you planning on telling me what the fuck the marriage thing is about? Is this some kind of weird prank?”

“No.” Gabriel sighed, finally taking a deep gulp of his sweet coffee. “My brother is gay, Dean. In Russia… that can be difficult. But, technically, it’s not illegal as long as you aren’t ‘promoting’ homosexuality.”

Dean nodded, pie forgotten, feeling like he was sort-of following along. He wasn’t quite sure what he was following along with, but the words themselves made sense.

“The problem is that Cas is a novelist. He writes erotic novels. Very gay ones.”

“Oh. Well, good for him,” said Dean, nodding politely, until it clicked. “Oh—oh. Right. That’s… probably not good, then.”

“Yeah,” Gabriel said quietly, before taking another gulp of his coffee. “My dad has been increasingly concerned about his safety. He’s had a lot of threats. Cassie is a bit of a wildcard sometimes and he was too stubborn to leave, but some recent events got to him, got under his skin. He’s agreed to come to America to live and work if we can find a way to get him here.”

Dean blinked slowly. “But—why me? He has family, he has—”

“Step families aren’t covered by immediate family visas, Dean. I can’t get him here that way. And because his work can be done anywhere in the world, the delightful people at the bureau of consular affairs that I spoke to warned me that he’s unlikely to get accepted from Russia with a work visa. And claiming asylum here is notoriously difficult unless he’s been physically harmed—which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid happening.”

Despite himself, Dean was impressed. “You’ve really looked into all of this.”

“Of course I have. I know I’m an ass most of the time, well aware of that, but he’s my brother, Dean.”

They were silent for a moment, the heavy topic settling around them while Dean returned to picking at his pie. The crust was perfection, but he might look into searching out a new supplier for his apples; they just weren’t as tart this year.

“So, again—why me?” Dean found himself calmly asking.

“Well, you’re bi.”

“And you interpret that as ‘will marry anyone thrown at me’?” Dean scowled.

“No, I just meant—I don’t know any other guys who are single. And as a known homosexual, it wouldn’t be super convincing to pawn him off on a woman,” Gabriel explained.

“Pawn him off?” Dean pointed his fork at Gabriel disapprovingly. “You’re making him sound like an ugly pocket watch someone found in grandpa’s attic.”

“Well that part”—Gabriel stopped for a second to grin widely and pulled his phone out of his pocket. Thumbing through his gallery, he pulled up a picture—“I can reassure you of. Cassie isn’t an ugly anything.”

Placing his phone down on the small table, Gabriel shunted it across the polished surface toward Dean. Picking it up, Dean rested his eyes on Gabriel—still disapproving—for a moment before he looked down.

Holy shit.

Castiel Novak, it was clear even from a shitty photograph on a phone, was an incredibly attractive man. The picture was unguarded. He had his mouth slightly open, pouty, full lips parted. He wore pajamas; honest to goodness striped pajamas. And he sat on the floor with a Christmas present in his lap—perhaps one from Gabriel, Dean surmised, as someone had decided to send Gabe the picture. Castiel had wild, thick, dark hair that looked like he’d just rolled out of bed. His eyes were the most fantastic blue Dean had ever seen, vivid and gripping. His skin was tan, his firm muscles showing even in the sleepwear he wore.

“And you say he’s a novelist, not an underwear model?” Dean couldn’t help but grin.

Gabriel snorted. “Oh, he’s had the chance. But he likes books. Not to mention, he’s super damn awkward. No sense of boundaries, he just says what he thinks. Makes for interesting family relations.”

Dean made a small, noncommittal noise and passed Gabriel’s phone back across the table.

“I know this is crazy, even for me,” Gabriel said. “But he’s my brother. I’m not asking you to wine and dine him, just sign some paper. If he was able to be here, in America… well, my whole family would feel a lot better. We’d owe you.”

Incredulous, Dean shook his head at Gabriel. “Gabe, man—you can’t just ask me to marry a stranger. What if I meet someone I actually want to date? How is that conversation gonna go? Plus—this is definitely, one hundred percent, very illegal.”

Gabriel’s shoulders gave a slight slump, but Dean didn’t miss the motion. “Yeah. You’re right. I was just desperate and—you know what, forget I mentioned it, okay? We’ve got a store to open.”

“Too right. Today’s maple bacon cupcakes aren’t gonna frost themselves, and we’re almost out of your chocolate strawberries,” Dean said, pushing up from the table.

With another small smile, Gabriel stretched his hair net back over his blond locks. “Hazelnut pralines, too. Busy day,” he said, heading back behind the counter to the kitchen.

Dean followed. It was only when he looked down at his own hands, gripping the empty mug and plate from the table, that he realized he was holding them so tightly his knuckles were white.

 

x

 

The Roadhouse wasn’t the greatest nighttime spot; it attracted a lot of bikers and truckers, and there were often peanuts on the floors, shady dealings in the corners, and fights at the bar. But it was welcoming and homey, and Dean had been going there since way before he was legally allowed to drink.

The owner Ellen and her daughter Jo had been great family friends, and it was them and his Uncle Bobby who had supported Dean when he finally came out as bisexual to his family at twenty-one. His brother Sam, of course, couldn’t have given two shits who gave Dean butterflies and who didn’t, but some of the rest of the Winchesters hadn’t been so welcoming. Despite that, and despite their mom dying when Dean was only four, Dean had never felt like he was lacking in family.

The newest member of his family was the cause for his being in the bar that particular night; Sam and Jess had finally got a sitter for baby Mary that wasn’t Dean. Of course, that meant dinner at the pizza place down the street, and then drinks at the Roadhouse once they were done.

Sliding back into the leather corner booth that they occupied, Dean’s brother Sam dropped three fresh beers onto the table with a satisfying clank.

“What were you two talking about? I could hear Jess yelling from the bar,” Sam said, settling in next to Jess and looking across the table at Dean.

“Oh, you just wait.” Jess grinned at Dean. “Crazy Gabriel again.”

“It’s not that crazy,” Dean said, feeling oddly defensive on his wacky friend’s behalf.

“Dean! Yes, it is!” Jess insisted. “Come on, tell Sam. Cliff notes.”

Dean looked over at his brother, taller, leaner, and at that moment looking puzzled and mildly concerned.

“Gabriel asked me to marry his half-brother, Castiel, for immigration purposes,” Dean said plainly.

Sam blinked slowly before a laugh began to break his features, though he fought it valiantly. “Are you serious?”

“Yes, actually. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Well—I take that back. It is totally and utterly crazy, but it makes a strange kind of sense,” Dean said defensively.

Sam raised his left eyebrow fully, before picking up his beer bottle and leaning back in his seat. “Alright then. Go ahead. Explain,” he said, gesturing both hands out before himself in an almost welcoming gesture.

And so, Dean did. He told him everything Gabriel had explained while they had coffee that morning, about Castiel’s sexuality and his work as a novelist, about Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws (which he may or may not have researched a little out of curiosity while the shop was slow), and about Gabriel’s plan to safely move Castiel over to America.

Sam’s eyebrows drew closer and closer together as Dean explained, looking more and more concerned.

“Dean that’s awful!” Sam finally said, frowning as he exchanged a look of agreement with his wife. “To constantly be on edge like that, worrying if who you are and what you do is going to get you hurt, or fined, or imprisoned—or worse!”

“Yeah,” Dean agreed picking up his beer bottle and peeling at the edge of the label. Bravely, he took a breath and voiced something he hadn’t even said to Gabriel, keeping his voice deliberately low. “Am I nuts for actually considering this?”

Jess and Sam exchanged a long, alarmed look.

“You’re really considering it?” Jess asked, her expression as gentle and non-judgmental as always.

“Yes—well—I mean, I don’t know. There’s nothing in it for me, not really. It’s not like they’ll pay me or anything. But…” Dean trailed off, shrugging one shoulder self-consciously. “My biggest problem was how to come out to Dad and Grandpa Campbell. And that was rough for a few years, yeah. But now they’re gone, I pretty much just get to live my life.”

Neither Jess nor Sam interrupted, letting Dean say his piece.

“And sure,” he continued, “that hasn’t always been easy. But this guy could be in danger because of who he is, if he stays in Russia. It’s not like I’m planning on marrying anyone else any time soon, and it wouldn’t even have to be forever, once he has citizenship. I could help. It could make a big difference in his life.”

When Dean looked back up again, courageous even if he was feeling a bit awkward about the bizarre proposition, Sam was smiling at him oddly, as was Jess.

“What?”

“Nothing, just—that’s actually a really selfless thing to do. We’re kinda proud of you,” Sam admitted, before quickly clearing his throat. “Though obviously, as a lawyer, I must reiterate how incredibly, incredibly illegal such a thing would be. Clearly we’re only talking in hypothetical terms.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Right. Hypothetical. Gotcha.”

“So, you’re actually considering it?” Jess brought them back on track. “Have you told Gabriel?”

Deflecting in his usual way, Dean gave her a grin. “Sure. I could use a roommate. I’ll let Gabe know I’ll shack up with his bro, as long as he takes the trash cans out at Trick or Sweet from now on.”

Sam rolled his eyes, and Jess shook her head, but neither of them looked away.

The truth was, something in Castiel’s story had resonated with Dean and he had found, as the day wore on—against his own better judgment—that he really was thinking about doing it.

As he’d said to Sam… it wasn’t like he planned on marrying, or even dating again, anytime soon. Since he’d broken up with his girlfriend Lisa (‘broken up with’ was still easier to think than ‘been dumped by’), he’d been very, very single. And honestly, he saw it staying that way for a while. Having a paper marriage was hardly going to be a hindrance to him personally.

But it could change Castiel’s life. It could mean Gabriel didn’t have to worry so much—because as much as Gabe was goofy and flippant about most things, Dean had seen how tense he had been when they talked, and then how disappointed. Gabriel cared about his brother and he was worried.

“Can I talk you out of it?” Sam asked him, seriously. “I don’t want you getting in trouble, Dean.”

“I get it, Sam. I do. I know it’s a dumb decision. I’ve looked up what it could mean for me if we get caught. But as weird and sudden as this is, I think I’ve decided. It just feels like the right thing to do, somehow.”

Sam gave Dean a long, considering look across the table. Dean couldn’t work out what was happening with all the different emotions playing out in Sam’s hazel eyes. There was fear, and worry, but a little pride, too. Eventually, he nodded.

“Okay. If you need anything—a lawyer, a marriage witness, a mediator when having a stranger in your house drives you crazy… I’ve got you.”

Even Jess looked surprised, but she smiled too. “Well, alright then! I guess this calls for another round of drinks!”

As Sam and Jess went off to grab them—and no doubt gossip about Dean between themselves—Dean picked up his phone. His heart thumped oddly with fear as he rested his thumb on the screen for a moment, working up the courage to unlock the screen.

You’re not going to get caught , he told himself. This is just… a favor. For a friend and his brother. Nothing more.

Regardless, no matter what he told himself, with one simple text, he changed his life.

 

Dean:  Hey G. Been thinking about what you said this morning all day and… Yes. I’ll do it.

Chapter Text

2.

 

“That’ll be seventeen eighty-five, and don’t forget to tip your handsome chocolatier!” Gabriel winked across the counter to the flustered older lady who had just purchased a few more truffles than she had probably intended. The poor dear had only stopped by for an innocent loaf of Dean’s locally-famed bread.

Dean covered his light chuckle by opening the loud, squeaky door of their biggest industrial oven to pull out the final tray of bread that he’d baked for the day. He made small batches, fresh, and the locals of Lawrence knew exactly when to stop by and try to grab a loaf.

“Thank you for shopping at Trick or Sweet!” Gabriel trilled across the glass-topped pastry case as she departed, waving.

Throwing the towel he’d used to remove the tray from the oven over his shoulder, Dean clapped his floury hands over the sink before moving toward the front of the store. “Alright, I’ve got the last of the bread out,” he said to Gabriel.

“And not a moment too soon, I gotta head to the airport to pick up your new hubby, so you’ll have to stay up front,” Gabriel said as he untied his apron.

Dean smiled, trying his best not to look as nervous as he felt. “Okay. Are you still good for me to take the rest of the day off, to help get him settled in?”

Gabriel nodded. “Yeah. I’ll drop him off here so you two can say hello, and drive all his bags over to your place, if you want.”

Pulling the towel from his shoulder, Dean patted his brow. “Sure. You promise he can speak English, right? Otherwise this is gonna get awkward, fast.”

“For the last time, Dean—yes. He speaks perfect English. Probably better than you. He writes books in damn English. Really hot ones. His dad is American, after all. But he does have an accent.” Gabriel was moving toward the front of the quiet café, the early morning rush over and lunch not yet in full swing. He paused with his hand on the door pull.

“What?” asked Dean, seeing Gabe’s hesitation in the way his spare hand pulled the hairnet from atop his head but didn’t throw it down, just squeezing it in his fingers instead.

“Nothing, really, I just—I hope this works. And thanks, Dean. Really. I didn’t expect you to agree to this but…” Gabriel exhaled slowly. “If you can pull it off, my little bro will get to work without being threatened with imprisonment. Could love who he wants without being fined. Could actually just… live. It’s a lot, Dean. So, thanks.”

Dean had gone back and forth for the past few weeks. After a lot of research, he knew exactly the process that would happen if Immigration and Customs Enforcement thought that he and Castiel were lying. Cas would be deported, and Dean would face up to five years in prison, and a fine of up to a quarter of a million dollars. Big numbers. A big risk.

Even so, Dean wanted to help more than ever. The more he researched, the more Gabriel told him about Castiel’s situation, the more he wanted to help. So what if Dean was projecting, as Sam had casually mentioned. Apparently, he was trying to fix someone else’s life so that they didn’t have to live in fear or shame like he had, after coming out of the closet and then being marched right back in by his dad. Dean couldn’t see what was so wrong with that, even if it was true.

So, weeks down the line, here he was. He and Castiel, ‘Cas’ as Dean had started calling him in his head, hadn’t even spoken on the phone; with time zone differences and Dean’s weird work schedule, it hadn’t quite lined up for them to Skype as they’d initially planned. But that was okay. Castiel would be no different to live with than any other roommate, Dean supposed, but he did hope that at least he could become friends with his fake husband.

He found he wasn’t as afraid as he should be. Nervous, but not afraid.

Instead, he moved across to give Gabriel a brief, strong, back-clapping hug before he stepped out the door. “It’s fine Gabe. It’ll all work out just fine. You’re an ass, sure, but you’re still one of my best friends. So, if your family needs help? I help.”

With a grateful squeeze, Gabriel pulled back and nodded. “Right then. I’ll go get the little perv and you can start getting things organized. Don’t forget to invite me to the wedding; you know I’m great at—”

“No strippers, Gabriel,” Dean interrupted, before Gabriel could even get started. “That’s just weird for a fake wedding, okay?”

Gabriel pouted. “I knew I should have asked Cassie, he’d have been all for the strippers.” 

With that, the bell above the door tinkled and Gabriel departed.

Dean threw himself back into work. He had a couple of wedding cakes to bake, and a steady stream of customers wanting the fresh bread he’d just removed from the oven kept him busy. He and Gabriel had purchased a little neon sign for the top corner of the front window that flashed and said, “Fresh Bread!”—Dean’s baking was like crack for most people, so it was a great way to show people when they could get a hit.

He was distracted. Two hours passed, and he hadn’t even checked to see if Castiel’s transferring flight from New York had gotten in, never mind cleaned himself up. He had at least some vague idea of making a good first impression on his new roommate-slash-friend-slash-husband by at least wiping off all the flour—but it was too late.

The doorbell chimed, and even though Dean had only seen those eyes and that hair in one photograph, there was really no mistaking who it was.

Castiel wore a deep navy suit, boots, and a long beige trench coat that was unbuttoned and slightly rumpled—Dean guessed that he’d worn it all on his flight, to avoid packing the weight of the big coat. His stance as he stepped into Trick or Sweet was confident and firm, but as he knew to look, Dean could detect nervousness in his eyes.

And oh boy, what eyes they were. Even in a crappy phone-camera picture, they’d been the most gripping thing about a man who was already speech-destroyingly gorgeous. But in real life, at true size and true intensity, eyes that blue could stop a man in his tracks. And they did exactly that for Dean, his breath catching awkwardly behind his sternum in a lump.

Castiel looked nothing like Gabriel, which Dean was grateful for—he knew, at least sometimes, he was going to have to genuinely pretend that they were married. Cas must look more like his mother than like Gabriel’s dad, Dean guessed.

Even in the throes of jet-lag, with his thick hair, tan skin and pouty lips, Castiel looked like a genuine, come-to-life sex god.

And then… and then the fucker opened his mouth.

“Good afternoon,” he rumbled, in a voice so deep and gravelly that Dean quickly did a mental double-check that he wasn’t in the midst of a wet dream.

He so needed this meet-cute to go well.

“Hello,” Dean said, coming around the counter to extend his hand.

Without a jot of shame, Castiel looked Dean up and down as he stepped out from behind the pastry case. The look was slow and deliberate, taking in every stray flour blotch and chunk of frosting that Dean was covered in, yet seeming disappointed by none of it. Cas’s smile was beyond belief, coy and delighted, with his tongue resting very carefully just on the inside of his bottom lip. He reached out, shaking Dean’s hand firmly, and then lingering far too long at his fingers.

“I am looking for Dean Winchester,” he said. His thick Russian accent curled around the simple words, and suddenly his own name in Castiel’s mouth was the most erotic sound Dean had ever heard.

Son of a bitch. This wasn’t a meet cute, this was porn.

Dean got his shit together enough to smile back at Cas, realizing that the man was only an inch or two shorter than he was. “That’s me. Castiel, I assume?”

Cas blinked and dropped Dean’s hand, looking slightly mortified. “Oh! I am sorry. I thought that you were someone else. My brother told me Dean would be a tall, unattractive man who liked pie a little too much. I assumed you would be ugly and fat.”

Dean squeezed his eyes shut. “Great. Well, that does sound like something Gabriel would say.”

“What sounds like something I would say?” Gabriel’s voice raised over the bell above the door as he stepped into the store, grinning.

“That Dean would be tall, and unattractive, and like pie too much. You had me expecting an ogre, brother,” Castiel admonished, an impressively squinty scowl aimed in his older brother’s direction. “Instead I find here a very handsome man with an appealing body. He’s attractive, if somewhat floury. I would have been much more excited if you had said this from the start.”

Dean was feeling a bit lightheaded.  

“Gabe,” he craned his neck around Castiel to look at the much shorter man. “Are you going to take Cas’s bags to my house?”

“Our house,” Castiel corrected casually, looking mildly amused. His lip curled on just one side as he looked back at Dean from the corner of his eye. “I have no intention of being a kept man, you know.”

“As long as you pay your rent, dear husband, then you won’t be,” Dean countered with a grin, deciding that he might actually like living with this guy.

Castiel’s laugh, it turned out, was deep and rich, booming out of him attractively. Not that the fact it was attractive was a surprise. Dean was pretty sure this guy could look attractive doing anything.

Gabriel looked back and forth between the two of them with a small shudder. “I’m going to have to adjust all of my online profiles. It turns out I do have a squick: watching my baby brother flirt with my business partner. Gross.”

Dean felt the back of his neck warm slightly; that hadn’t been what he was doing. Well, not really. Kind of. He was going to have to keep that under wraps if they were going to get through this whole marriage thing long enough to fool I.C.E.

Castiel didn’t look as embarrassed as Dean did, but he did duck his gaze apologetically. “Would you like help with the bags, Gabriel?”

Gabe waved a hand dismissively and shook his head. “You stay here and sit for a minute, eat something bad for you, and start getting to know Dean. Your endless suits and your stupid typewriter don’t weigh that much.”

Dean nodded his agreement and gestured for Castiel to come and sit by the register behind the counter, grabbing a stool for him. “Have a seat and get comfy, Cas. Once your bags have been dropped off, we can walk to my place from here.”

Gabriel waved his way out of the door, and Dean made his way over to the coffee machine before turning to smile back at Castiel. 

“Would you like some coffee? I know it’s a little late in the morning, but—”

“Oh, yes, please!” Castiel interrupted, lighting up. “Coffee and vodka are about the only things I drink, no matter what time of day it is.”

Dean grinned, grabbing a cup as he pressed buttons. “No tea, no beer?”

Castiel looked thoughtful. “Almost everyone in Russia drinks tea… and it depends on the beer, I suppose. I’m sure it will be different here, many things will. But I will try anything once.”

Dean busied himself with the machine, nodding in return to Castiel’s shake of his head when he held up the sugar and cream. The guy’s voice was still doing things low in Dean’s stomach, and it was going to take him more than a few sentences to get over it.

They were briefly interrupted by a shopper who wanted to purchase the last three loaves of Dean’s bread. After that, he turned off the flashing “Fresh Bread!” sign, and the store was empty.

“It seems that people enjoy your bread very much,” Castiel commented, cradling the mug of black coffee that Dean had handed him between his palms.

“Yeah,” Dean said with a self-depreciating shrug. “My bread is pretty good, I’m told. But my real passion is pie and pastry.”

Reaching into the glass case that stretched out to the left of the counter, piled with baked goods, Dean extracted one of that morning’s fresh-made pie slices. He slid it onto a plate, then stepped past Cas to the other side of the register where Gabriel’s case was and tucked two simple chocolates onto the plate with his offering.

“Here you go. A little something to go with your coffee.” Dean passed the plate across to Castiel, their fingers brushing a little as Cas pulled the treats toward him.

“This looks very good, Dean. Did you always want to be a baker?”

Dean hummed thoughtfully as he turned to begin wiping down the counter behind the register. “Well, yes and no. I wanted to, but my dad didn’t approve of it, thought it was girly. So, I worked as a mechanic for my Uncle Bobby until Dad passed away a few years back. Then I took night classes to improve—that’s how I met your brother. We were both older and not doing what our parents wanted, so we bonded a bit. Decided to go into business together—”

Dean cut his explanation off sharply, snapping his head around at the filthy moan that came from behind him.

“Sorry,” Castiel said, looking up guiltily with crumbs of pastry on his bottom lip. “This is really good.”

Dean looked upward, resting his gaze desperately on the ceiling tiles of the café. He had a feeling that this fake-marriage thing might be a little harder than he’d expected.

 

x

 

Dean’s house was fairly small. He could afford bigger, sure—Trick or Sweet did well, and he’d always saved plenty while he worked for Bobby. His Dad hadn’t left him and Sam much in the way of an inheritance, but Sam had insisted that Dean take what there was. In exchange, Sam now owned their childhood home, where he lived with Jess and baby Mary. It just made more sense for Sam to get the house; he had a family. Dean was a solo affair. Roommates had been an on-off thing for Dean. The extra money was nice, but he didn’t need it desperately enough to put up with one he didn’t like.

So, the small guest room of his townhouse overlooking Lawrence park had already been empty when Gabriel suggested this whole crazy scheme. The last tenant, a twitchy older guy named Frank, had moved to Kentucky months before. Since the prospect of Cas moving in had been raised, Dean had spent his days off stripping wallpaper and restoring old furniture from yard sales. The room hadn’t cost him much but his time, nonetheless he hoped it would be a good enough place for Cas to sleep and work.

Castiel was quiet as they made their way into the house. They squeezed past the bags that Gabriel had so thoughtfully left all over the hallway after dropping them off using the spare key that he always had. Cas had grabbed one of the two suitcases, and Dean had bent to lift up the sealed box that he assumed contained the typewriter Gabriel had mentioned.

Who even uses a typewriter, these days? Dean thought to himself, hefting the surprisingly heavy box around the bend in the stairs.

“The room isn’t much, but I wanted you to be comfortable, so I did as much as I could with it,” Dean explained self-consciously as he shifted the box onto his right arm, so that he could swing open the guest room door.

Except it wasn’t a guest room, it was Cas’s room. His husband-to-be’s room. Cas would have a couple of months on a tourist visa, during which time they needed to get married, and then file a petition to have him stay. Gabriel had planned everything out for them, with much more conscientiousness than Dean would have expected from the scatterbrained chocolatier.

Dean was musing briefly over how his extended circle of friends and family beyond Sam and Jess were going to take his sudden marriage, when he noticed that Castiel was still very quiet, just looking around the room.

He gazed about, taking in the pale grey walls, and the curtains and bedding accented with purples and teals. The furniture was all mismatched wood, sanded and polished by hand. The bed was high, with solid posts and extra pillows. Dean had found a somewhat-matching dresser and nightstand, and a bookcase for the far wall. Under the window there was a wide, oak desk that he’d found for a steal at an estate sale a couple of weekends prior. He’d assumed that Cas would want a decent desk to write at, so he’d taken his time finding the right one. An assortment of comfy throws and blankets in matching colors were strewn around.

Castiel walked forward, trailing his long, thick fingers across the bedding as he looked up at a pair of iron candle sconces that Dean had affixed on either side of the room, framing the desk. The chair of the desk was worn, soft leather, one Dean had used for the computer in his bedroom before he switched it out for a laptop a couple of years back. Castiel raised his hand to the back of it, squeezing the soft, well-used leather under his palm.

“Is the room okay?” Dean asked, concerned, as he moved past Cas to lower the awkward typewriter box to the top of the desk. He frowned slightly. “You don’t have to write in here, or anything. I don’t know what your process is, and you can use the rest of the house as much as you like. I just thought—”

“Dean,” Castiel cut him off, his voice deep and throbbing. “It’s fine. The desk is beautiful—the whole room is. You put a lot of thought and effort into this… much more than I had expected, honestly.”

Dean shrugged one shoulder, leaning awkwardly on the edge of the desk. “Yeah, well. You gotta be here a while if this is going to work. I know this isn’t home to you, but… I wanted to help it be.”

Dean looked up, and Castiel’s eyes caught his. For a moment they just looked at each other; an intense, probing stare that Dean wasn’t terribly inclined to look away from. Castiel’s hand came up to rest on the outside of Dean’s arm, and he gave him a small smile.

“Thank you, Dean,” he answered quietly.

Finding himself suddenly breathless under the weight of Castiel’s gaze, Dean shook himself and grinned, pulling away.

“Alright, well—I’ll leave you to get settled in for a bit. I like to cook so I’ll go and start working on some dinner, if you want to eat in a couple hours.”

Cas withdrew his hand slowly and gave Dean a solemn nod. “Yes, I will unpack, and shower if you do not mind.”

Dean spread his arms and did a little spin as he walked to the door. “Mi casa es tu casa, Sergei.”

“That is not my name,” Castiel called as Dean walked out into the hallway.

Dean could almost hear the squinty frown, and it made him grin. “It could be your middle name for all I know—you think with an accent like that you’re not getting some nicknames?”

“My middle name is Dmitri!”

Dean made sure his laugh carried back down the stairs from the kitchen, shouting back over his shoulder, “Oh, yeah…that one might stick.”

There was some distant grumbling from up above, and Dean couldn’t help but smile. Castiel was gorgeous, likeable, and funny.

In other words, Dean was in trouble.

Chapter Text

For the first time in a long while, Dean tiptoed around his bedroom when he woke up for work. Luckily for him, as a baker, he’d never been someone that needed a lot of sleep. Four solid hours and he was good. Every day that Trick or Sweet opened, he had to get up at three a.m. to get to the shop and start baking. He had breads and rolls to knead, cupcakes to bake and cool and frost, and pastries and pies galore to turn out before the early morning rush began.

Usually, he would tear through his house, waking up grumpy, downing half a gallon of coffee and cussing at the uneven step down into the kitchen. But the morning after Castiel arrived, Dean tried his best to be quiet. He had at least a little roommate etiquette, after all.

He’d gone to bed a bit earlier than usual; Cas was jet lagged after three separate flights to get him from Novosibirsk, in the Siberian portion of southern Russia, all the way to Lawrence, Kansas, and he’d yawned the whole way through the simple lasagna dinner Dean had made, though he’d claimed to be delighted by the food.

So, Dean was surprised when he softly padded his way down the hallway to the living area and saw the small lamp near the living room window turned on, bathing the cozy living room in a gentle, yellow glow.

“Hey,” Dean said quietly, not wanting to make Cas jump. He moved across to the couch, taking the middle seat and pulling up a leg so that he could turn to face Cas, who was curled up on the end, gazing out of the dark window. “What are you doing up?”

Castiel turned, offering one of the tiny smiles that Dean was already learning to detect and hone in on. “It would be the middle of the afternoon, back home. I napped, but I had trouble really sleeping.”

“Ahh.” Dean nodded. “Well, I’m about to grab some coffee—I could make you some tea or warm milk if you wanted to try and get back to sleep?”

“Warm milk?” Castiel raised a dark, heavy eyebrow. “What am I, the baby of the house? No thank you. I will have some coffee with you—I might as well be awake now. I can start working too.”

Dean grinned, hopping up to go and thump the coffee maker with the heel of his hand, urging out every last drop before he returned with mugs for them both.

“Here you go,” Dean said as he lowered himself back to the couch, offering Cas one of the mugs.

“Thank you.” Cas took it and balanced it onto his knee. “I am glad you enjoy coffee. In Russia, many people enjoy tea at all times of the day, but I need the extra help.”

“You did say you only like to drink coffee or vodka,” Dean recalled.

“Yes. Sometimes we even put vodka in the coffee, back home,” Castiel said. At Dean’s vaguely horrified expression he grinned and added, “Perhaps I will make you some, one day. You might change your mind.”

They were quiet for a moment, sipping in the dim light, and Castiel’s gaze drifted back out of the window, watching the few lights that illuminated Lawrence so early in the morning. Dean thought that he looked vaguely melancholy.

“Different view from back home?” he asked, drawing Castiel’s attention back momentarily.

“Oh, yes. Novosibirsk is a big city, more than one million people. Lawrence looks to be very different.”

“I’ll bet. There’s only about a hundred thousand people in Lawrence, and a bunch of those are University of Kansas students. We’ve got a river and a golf club and maybe three main highways. I feel like you might be kinda disappointed, here.”

Castiel lifted his eyes to Dean’s, but the smile he gave him was strained. “Well, here I have not had death threats pinned at my door yet, or anything thrown at me, or strangers say I should be shot. I haven’t had the police tell me they will arrest me if I publish any more books. For the lack of those things alone… I think Lawrence is wonderful.”

Dean’s mouth went dry, and he didn’t know what to say.

“I have… upset you,” Castiel guessed, looking concerned. “I should not talk about that?”

Dean shook his head quickly, leaning back further into the familiar couch pillows. “Nah, man. You can talk about it. It’s just crazy to me—I mean, we have bigots here too. But at least legally, they don’t have a leg to stand on. I’m glad you’re not there anymore, honestly.”

“Me too,” Cas said, with another half-smile, before his gaze dropped down to his lap. Slowly, he ran one finger around the rim of his coffee mug, picking nervously at the porcelain. “I suppose I’m also thinking about you, and your life here. This situation is strange. I worry that I am intruding on your life, ruining it. This favor that you did for my brother, it’s… it’s a big one.”

“I didn’t do it for Gabriel.” Dean shrugged away the comment. “I did it for you.”

“But you have never met me. We never even spoke—”

“Cas, I didn’t have to meet you to know that you didn’t deserve what was happening to you, geez. No one deserves that. You deserve a home where you feel safe. That’s not a big thing, to me. That’s a basic thing.”

Castiel’s gaze was heavy, penetrating, and almost navy in the dim light of the living room. He stared intently, and Dean felt totally stripped under his look. He also found that he didn’t particularly mind.

“You are an amazing person, Dean. Thank you.”

Dean felt his cheeks heating, though he wasn’t sure if it was from the compliment or from the concentrated effect of Castiel’s eyes. “It’s nothing, man. Really. Just righting a wrong. And hopefully making a new friend in the process.”

Castiel smiled. He nodded, taking a small sip from his mug before he responded. “Yes, I am very much hoping we can at least be friends.”

“Well, then…” Dean trailed off for a moment, standing and moving his way over to the bookcase that sat under the window. From it, he pulled a carved wooden box. The polished exterior was covered in intricate flowers; it was something that had been his mother’s and that he now kept a few little trinkets in that he couldn’t bring himself to part with, but had no day-to-day use for.

From within, he pulled out the heavy, cool metal of his dad's white gold wedding ring.

Turning to Castiel once more, Dean grinned goofily as he dropped to one knee before the couch. “In that case, friend—will you marry me?”

He held up the ring dramatically.

Castiel laughed, his whole posture softening as he held out his hand toward Dean, fluttering his eyelashes as he wiggled his fingers. “Yes, dorogoi. I will marry you.”

Dean grinned back in turn as he slid the ring onto Castiel’s finger. “And what does that mean?”

“A dictionary could tell you, I believe,” Castiel said haughtily, affecting a coy grin. “Must I do all the work in this relationship?”

“I thought you weren’t supposed to start sassing me until after we’re married.” Dean’s back cracked as he stood back up, causing Castiel to wince.

“Will you go to work now, moj lyubimiy?”

Dean rolled his eyes at Castiel’s teasing tone. “Me learning Russian was never part of the deal, Dmitri.”

“I would really rather you call me Castiel.”

“Then I guess we’ll both be disappointed, hubby. There’s more coffee in the pot—I’ll be back for a break around seven, once my first round of baking is done.”

“Make sure you bring some of your pie, lapochka.

“Yes, dear.”

 

x

 

Living with Castiel was remarkably easy. He seemed content to keep the same hours as Dean, though Dean had certainly never asked the guy to get up at the ass-crack of dawn just because he had to. Castiel also didn’t sleep much, though he often appeared more restless and tired than Dean himself did. When Dean left for work, Castiel would settle at his desk with the windows open and begin writing. Sometimes, returning to the house hours later, Dean would find his fake future-husband in exactly the same position, surrounded by that morning’s coffee mugs, squinting harshly at his typewriter.

He had been in town for almost a week before Dean’s next day off rolled around. Business at Trick or Sweet was best over the weekend, when most people were off work and there was a  farmers market across the street. People would pick up their fresh veggies, then stroll across the road to grab some of Dean’s creations and get sucked in by Gabriel’s chocolates while they were there. So, Dean and Gabriel had come to an arrangement of each taking a different day off during the week, so that the shop got to stay open but they each got some time away from it. On the Tuesday morning after Castiel’s arrival, Dean found himself shuffling out of his bedroom in his pajamas a lot later than usual—though still early by many people’s standards. Dean had learned the hard way that he couldn’t get too far out of his routine on his days off, or waking up again to go back to work the next day was agony.

He stretched, cracking his back, and began to dawdle his way downstairs toward coffee. As he passed the living room, he caught movement from the corner of his eye. Turning, Dean was met with quite a sight.

Castiel had a thin foam mat spread on the floor in front of the living room window. The curtains were pulled back, allowing the early morning sun to drift lazily through the drizzle-streaked panes. Everything was soft and quiet. Castiel was doing yoga, Dean supposed—or Pilates, or some other form of body-bending, vaguely uncomfortable-looking thing that sounded good for you. He was upside down on the mat. His hands and arms lay against the foam, framing his head as his body arched up into the air, standing on his flat forearms with his bare feet kicked up toward the ceiling. His body was taut, every muscle perfectly held in place as his feet slowly curled forward, until his bare toes touched the back of his head, suspended above the mat. His t-shirt slowly slid down, giving in to gravity and pooling around his armpits, revealing defined, toned abs. Dean’s tongue darted out involuntarily to lick his lower lip—but it sure wasn’t his lip he wished he was licking.

Dean stared.

After a lengthy moment, Castiel let out a long, soft breath and uncoiled himself, straightening his legs up tall before bringing them back down so that his knees rested on the mat on either side of his arms. The motion was perfectly controlled and slow—quite beautiful, Dean thought, and not even just because of how fantastically attractive this tanned, pretzel-knotted man was.

Castiel looked back at Dean over his shoulder with a calm smile, as if he’d known that he was there all along.

Dobroe utro, krasivi, ” Castiel greeted him, grinning before he translated. “Good morning.”

“Mornin’, sunshine. You tie yourself up in knots like that every morning?”

“Like that? Ahh, that was scorpion pose. I try to practice every day; it’s not so hard once you know how.”

“We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one, hubs. Want some coffee?” Dean asked, gesturing towards the kitchen.

“Please, yes.” Castiel nodded enthusiastically. He made a small humming sound before raising his arms in a full-body stretch that was frankly obscene.

Dean spun on his heel and swiftly darted for the safety of his beige, mundane, distinctly not-sexy kitchen.

Castiel arrived only a moment later, when Dean was scooping coffee grounds into the machine. He packed in a little more than usual—Castiel liked his coffee really strong, he knew, so he figured he could just add a little extra water to his.

“Dean,” Castiel said, leaning his back against the counter next to the coffee machine. He folded his arms, his smile a little more on the apprehensive side than Dean had grown used to it being. “I wonder if I could ask you a favor.”

“Sure. As long as it’s not hiding a body, I’m probably good for it.” Dean raised an eyebrow, waiting.

“It’s your day off today, yes? You don’t have to go to the bakery with my brother?”

Dean nodded. “Yup, today and tomorrow. No plans at all. Honestly, I told my brother and friends to fuck off today and my next couple of days off, so I could help you get settled, if you needed anything.”

Castiel’s smile at that crinkled the corner of his eyes. “That was kind, Dean. Vi prekrasni iznutri dazhe bol’she chem snaruzhi.

“And what does that mean, huh?”

“Never you mind.” Castiel grinned, his tongue sitting just behind his teeth in that teasing way that Dean couldn’t help but stare at. “What I wanted to ask was whether you would have time to show me around Lawrence a little today, perhaps? I’ve focused on getting through my jet lag and working, and I confess that I haven’t really left this house yet.”

“Dude, of course! I’m sorry, I should have thought about taking a day off earlier than this to give you a tour.”

“Dean, you have done much more than enough for me. I’m a big boy you know; I can find my way around. But it would be nice to have your company, to get to know you.”

“Yeah, of course.” Dean nodded, grabbing two mugs as the coffee started to drip. “After all, the immigration folks are going to interview us. We should probably make sure we can answer their questions.”

Castiel’s eyes fell for a moment to his bare feet on the kitchen tiles, and for the briefest of seconds his shoulders dropped; but then his grin was back. “Of course. We have to make this believable.”

Dean passed over one of the mugs of coffee, before moving to the sink to top his up with some water. “Just gimme enough time to grab a shower and get dressed, and we can head on out. I can drive you around a bit, show you some landmarks. And then, if you want to, we can head to the mall and get some lunch or something?”

“That would be wonderful, thank you.” Castiel made a delighted moaning noise as he sipped on his coffee—unfortunately for Dean, who was wondering if he’d ever build up an immunity to Castiel’s voice. “Dean, this coffee is very good.”

“Yeah, made it a bit stronger for you. Noticed you like it that way,” Dean said, grinning as he turned back around, leaning against the counter next to Castiel.

Castiel caught his eyes with a soft smile, and for just a second (or he hoped it was just a second—it was getting increasingly hard to tell) Dean allowed himself to drown in blue.

When Dean finally broke away, hoping desperately that he hadn’t embarrassed himself, Castiel gave a small, barely perceptible smile. The Russian seemed almost stoic, at first glance, but Dean was quickly learning that his eyes held a lot of expressions within them. Castiel looked down to the top of his mug, watching the heat swirl lazily from the surface of the coffee.

“You are a thoughtful man. Thank you.”

They stood quietly, sipping away at their drinks, side by side.

Occasionally Dean would sneak a glance at Castiel from the corner of his eye, finding Castiel looking back more than once. They said nothing, both equally guilty, and grinned down into their coffee when they were caught, or gently nudged each other with an elbow.

Dean felt a giggle building in his chest, and he wasn’t even sure why.

The kitchen was quiet, morning light suffusing gently through the single-paned window above the old sink, and within felt cozy and relaxed. Even when his coffee was done, Dean found that he didn’t want to move. But Castiel had asked Dean to show him around, so of course he would. Peeling himself up off the counter reluctantly, Dean smiled across at Castiel.

“I’ll go grab that shower then, buddy. Then we can get going.”

Castiel reached out, his hand curling around Dean’s bicep. It lingered there for a long moment, and he looked like he was about to say something—but he didn’t. A gentle squeeze of Deans arm and a small smile were all that happened before Castiel released him, moving off across the kitchen and heading back to the living room.

Dean felt thrown off balance somehow, though he wasn’t sure why. What was that? he wondered, heading off to the shower with a tiny frown.

It didn’t take long for Dean to get ready, and they both headed out to his gleaming Impala to go for their drive. Dean’s heart warmed to Castiel even more when he made all the right appreciative noises at Baby before getting in.

“This is a nice car, Dean. You clearly take care of her well.”

“Yeah, well, she’s my pride and joy. I was a good mechanic, back before baking. Keeping up with her keeps my hand in it, I guess.” Dean preened a little.

“So you’re generous, and kind, and have many skills. Remind me again why you’re single, and fake-marrying me?”

Dean laughed as he pulled out onto the road, heading for downtown Lawrence. “Ahh, well. I’m a mess in my own way, just like most people, I guess. I work a lot, and honestly there just aren’t that many people around here who are single and open to dating a bisexual dude. But I decided a few years ago that I wasn’t going to hide who I was anymore, so… here I am.”

“Stuck with me.” Castiel smirked, his eyes darting sideways to Dean has he drove.

“Yup, stuck with you.” Dean grinned widely, before reaching for the radio. “I hope you don’t mind classic rock music, because that’s all that is allowed in this car.”

Castiel didn’t answer, but he did sing along; his voice was deep and throaty, just as when he spoke.

Dean watched him from the corner of his eye as he drove, smiling happily. It was going to be a very good day, he decided.

 

x

 

Lawrence Mall wasn’t much to look at, particularly from the outside. A blocky, gray concrete building a couple of miles away from the quaint town center where the bakery was, Dean didn’t often go there—he wasn’t much for shopping just for the sake of it, and the restaurants and seasonal booths that squeezed around the stores weren’t as enticing when Dean visited the mall alone. Castiel seemed unbothered by the ugliness of the massive building, and Dean thought that perhaps, living in the city, he was more used to such aggressive architecture.

Inside the mall was a different story, as Castiel seemed delighted by the smallest things. They stopped off at Starbucks—Castiel wrinkled his nose a little at his black coffee, too weak, Dean guessed, but he gulped it down at light-speed regardless—and then began wandering through the floors of the mall. Castiel took in the blinking store windows and loud displays with interest, smiling slightly to himself.

“Different?” Dean asked after a few minutes, breaking the comfortable silence.

“Hmm, not really, in that sense,” Castiel said thoughtfully. “We have plenty of malls. I think in Moscow they have over eighty of them, actually. But of course the stores are different, and just little things here and there stand out.”

“Like what?” Dean asked, finding himself genuinely curious as they strolled past Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Castiel smirked. “Things are expensive, here. And there are less people in fur coats, chain-smoking and plotting to bring down the regime.”

Dean couldn’t help but laugh as he rolled his eyes. “You’re shitting with me, fine.”

“Well,” Castiel said, tilting his head. “Maybe not about the fur coats or the smoking. Both of those truly are much more common back home. I guess your stereotypes came from somewhere. But honestly, a lot more is the same than isn’t—you’d be surprised. I just didn’t get out much, back home. It was safer to stay in and work.”

“Have you been here before? To America, I mean.”

Castiel nodded. “Yes. When I was a child, my dad would come here yearly to conduct business, and he’d bring me and the twins to see our brothers. I don’t remember much about that, though. I came once when I was a teenager, to stay with my brothers during a school vacation, and then once three years ago to meet with my publisher.”

“Your publisher is in the US?” Dean said, surprised, stepping aside to let a lady pass by with a stroller.

“Oh, yes. It would be difficult to find a publisher for some of my novels in Russia, especially as I write in English.”

Dean couldn’t help his rising curiosity at that, coming back to Castiel’s side. “You don’t write in Russian, at all?”

Nyet . There’s a better market here for what I write.”

Grinning coyly, Dean asked nonchalantly, “So, if, say, in this mall there was a bookstore—”

Castiel laughed, that deep rich laugh that Dean wanted to swallow down and keep. “Yes, Dean. We can check.”

Dean spun on his heel, reaching for Castiel’s trench coated shoulder and redirecting them down to the other wing of the mall, where the big box stores and department store areas were, knowing that they’d pass by a huge Books-a-million on the way. He made sure to only leave his hand resting on Castiel’s shoulder for an appropriate amount of time, of course.

Nudging at Castiel’s arm, Dean indicated the beige trench coat. “Why’d you always wear that thing? You had it on the first time we met, too.”

Castiel frowned, making a small huffing noise as he looked down at the unbuttoned coat that hung shapelessly from his shoulders. “I like it.”

Dean did his best to hide his amused smile, but a bit of it slipped through.

“You don’t like it?” Castiel asked, squinting suspiciously as they walked.

“Actually…” Dean allowed, very carefully and for the briefest of moments, his eyes to travel deliberately up and down Castiel’s frame. “I think it’s the ugliest coat I’ve ever seen. But somehow, on you… on you, it looks good.”

“The coat looks good,” Castiel repeated, low and deadpan.

“I mean, you look good,” Dean corrected, a little flustered.

Castiel smirked.

“Shut up.” Dean elbowed him.

“I said nothing.”

“You’re an ass, do you believe that?”

Da nyet, navernoe.”

Dean shook his head, tugging Castiel’s elbow into the bookstore. “And what does that mean, oh Rain Man of languages?”

“It’s like… yes, no, maybe. So, no, but you can convince me.” Castiel explained. “And I don’t know that many languages, Dean.”

Dean tilted his head as they hopped on the escalator leading to the adult fiction area. “How many?”

“Six,” Castiel said, as casual as anything.

“Six!”

“Yes. English, Russian, Serbian, Italian, French… and Elvish,” Castiel replied with a perfectly straight face.

“Quenya or Sindarin?” Dean asked, grinning widely as they hopped off the escalator.

“High-elven, of course ,” Castiel said regally.

“-o nút-, mime héru,” Dean replied sarcastically. Thanks to many long hours LARPing with his high school best friend Charlie, Dean could still whip out simple phrases like, “Of course, my Lord,” in Quenya without much thought. The two men exchanged wide, amused grins before Dean eagerly dragged Castiel toward the erotica section. The bookstore was massive, but the layout of most of the national chains was always about the same, so Dean managed to navigate them to the round-about area where he thought Castiel’s books would be.

“This is the section,” Dean murmured. “What name do you publish under? Or what kind of thing do your books—”

Castiel was already ahead of him, making an “Aha!” noise as he reached down to a shelf just below eye level, tugging out a book here and there, almost childishly delighted. “Even after years, this never gets old,” he confessed. “Actually seeing my words in print.”

“I’ll bet,” Dean said noncommittally, definitely not voicing how adorable Castiel’s tiny slip into unbridled excitement had been.

Castiel straightened up, browsing through the pile of slim paperbacks he held, and passed one over to Dean with a small, almost secretive grin.

Dean had been expecting some kind of Mills and Boon, Harlequin-type affair for some reason; the tid-bits of information that Gabriel had given him about his brother’s career hadn’t really processed in Dean’s head, and whatever he’d expected, it wasn’t what was in his hand right then.

Service and Longing, A Possession Novel, by J. Milton. He’d assumed that Castiel wrote under a pen name, but he’d had no idea what it was until that moment. He also hadn’t had a clue that Castiel wrote things that were quite so…

Dean swallowed harshly, hoping that Castiel didn’t notice.

On the front of the book stood a tall, slim blond man with curly hair, a hard glint in his eye as a smaller brunet guy kneeled before him. The blond had his hand in the brunet’s hair, pulling his head back in a gesture of control. The man’s other hand held a long, silk rope.

Jesus Christ.

Dean moved his eyes up from the book cover to see Castiel looking at him, watching him take it in, something uncertain in the way he looked, as if he thought Dean would judge him.

“That one isn’t my best,” Castiel confessed quietly. “Long stretches of it had to be written from the sub’s point of view, and that really isn’t where I excel.”

…and Dean was done. Just shoot me in the head, Dean begged, silently.

 “Oh,” Dean managed to say, moistening his lips slightly. “I see.”

Castiel made a move to begin to reshelve the books, but Dean reached out and seized his arm, stopping him.

“No?” said Castiel, his eyebrow raised.

“Are you kidding?” Dean grinned, grabbing them all from his fake-husband and piling them in the crook of his arm. “I’m buying a copy of every single one of these.”

Castiel turned his eyes up to the ceiling, before giving Dean a tiny, almost embarrassed smile. “I have some copies—”

“So?” Dean said, shrugging. “You support friends who create stuff, I know that. If I bake a wedding cake for a friend, they still pay me for my time. Maybe a better rate, but still. Authors have to make a living, too.”

“I suppose you are invested in me paying half of the bills.” Castiel grinned.

Dean ran his eye along the shelf of J. Milton books. “This many books, it looks to me like you should be paying all of the bills,” he teased.

They headed toward the register as Castiel knocked his elbow into Dean’s. “I can sign them for you, perhaps. You can auction them off to obsessive fans, that way.”

“You’re kidding,” Dean checked.

“Oh, there are lots of them. Screaming hordes, I assure you.”

In line next to Castiel to pay for his stack of racy BDSM novels, Dean stared, until Castiel gave him a slow wink.

That little shit.

“Come on, moj mal’chik,” Castiel said once Dean had swiped his credit card, raising a hand familiarly to the base of Dean’s back and guiding him toward the door. “I’m hungry, and for lunch I need the most American food I can find.”

Dean enjoyed the feel of Castiel’s hand guiding him, and almost let out a sigh of regret when it went away. “Alright then,” he said, smiling over at the grinning Russian. “Terrible, food-court hot dogs it is.”

Chapter Text

That weekend the sun was uncharacteristically hot for how late in the year it was. Dean burst into action, rushing home the second the bakery closed to take the opportunity while he could.

“Cas!” Dean called, kicking off his floury work shoes as he came through the door, still wearing most of his job. There was no immediate answer, so he stuck his head up the stairs a little. “Dmitri! I’m home!”

Dean heard the floorboards creak overhead as Castiel reluctantly peeled himself away from his typewriter. His feet appeared on the stairs, bare, his toes just poking out of a low-slung pair of navy plaid pajama bottoms. Above that was a rumpled t-shirt and a bedhead that suggested Castiel had spent the whole day snoozing, but which Dean knew by now was just caused by the way Castiel continually ran his hands through his hair and tugged on it while he wrote.

“Dean,” Castiel rumbled warmly, giving him a tired smile. “Welcome home. How was work?”

Dean gave a shrug. “Baked things. Sold ‘em.”

Castiel gave a pointed look to where Dean’s dusty shoes lay on the mat in front of the door. Immediately feeling guilty—despite the fact it was his own damn house—Dean scurried back a few steps down the hallway. He picked the shoes up, putting them neatly into the small rack under the table in the hall. Castiel swept by him with a smile, heading for the kitchen and no doubt the coffee pot, and gave Dean a tiny pat on the small of his back. It felt like a reward, and Dean silently cherished it, like the weak, greedy asshole he was, before mentally catching himself. He needed to stop being a weirdo about his roommate, fake-husband or not.

“How did your work go today?” Dean asked conversationally, following Castiel into the kitchen. “You’ve been writing pretty solidly ever since you arrived.”

Castiel nodded, leaning his hip onto the counter next to—as Dean had suspected—their poor overworked coffeemaker. “Yes, I’m working on a new novel. I’ve been”—something odd hitched in Castiel’s voice, and he paused, turning his back to Dean to focus on the coffee maker— “well, something has inspired me, I suppose. The words are coming remarkably well; I’m almost done. Probably just another couple of weeks at most for the first draft.”

“That’s great,” Dean said, smiling supportively, though he had little idea of the process involved with writing a book. “Seems to me like you deserve a little break this afternoon.”

“Oh?” Castiel asked, quirking an eyebrow as he turned back to Dean with a steaming cup of coffee. “What do you have in mind, moj mal’chik ?”

Dean was always oddly thrown by Castiel’s little Russian phrases when he was addressed with them; he liked them, the sound of Castiel’s thick accent forming the words was captivating to Dean’s ears, and there was something familiar and warm about their use that always made Dean think that this fake-husband gig wasn’t turning out so badly after all.

He never knew what they meant , of course. But he loved hearing them regardless.

“I was thinking that we could grill out,” Dean said, taking the cup of coffee that Castiel offered him, without having even been asked to make one. He smiled at the gesture and nodded his thanks. “I could call my brother and his wife over, maybe. They could bring their baby and we could hang out in the yard. Get the firepit going one last time this year.”

Castiel looked considering, his gaze turned down to the simple, chipped white mug that he seemed to have adopted as ‘his’. “Your brother knows, yes? And your sister-in-law. They understand that we are not really…” Castiel trailed off for a moment, gesturing awkwardly between them both. “We wouldn’t have to pretend, around them.”

Dean blinked, a strange hole opening up in his stomach that he couldn’t quite name or find the source of. “Uh, yeah. They know. So I guess, yeah, we don’t need to, like, be coupley or anything, for them.”

Castiel gave a faint smile. “Right. Well, that’s good, yes?” He looked up, his eyes searching Dean’s face for… something. Dean couldn’t quite work out what, and before he’d managed, Castiel looked away. Dean wasn’t sure if he’d found his answer or not. “How can I help?” he chirped, suddenly almost forcibly cheerful.

“Uh,” Dean said, still feeling like he’d just got off a rollercoaster, though he had no idea when he’d even gotten on one. “You can run down the street to the Dollar General on the corner, I guess,” he suggested. “Pick up some hot dogs, make sure we have paper plates and stuff.”

Castiel nodded and padded his way quietly out of the kitchen and upstairs to get dressed.

Alone in the kitchen, Dean pulled his cell phone from the back pocket of his white, loose work pants and tucked it under his ear, dialing his brother while he began to assess the cabinets and make a mental note of what they might need.

“Hey, Dean,” came Sam’s warm voice. “You get off work already?”

“Yeah,” Dean replied. “Gabe and I closed up a little early so we could make use of the weather. Wanna come over for some food?”

“Some food, or to meet your husband?” Sam asked, and Dean could hear his grin through the phone.

“Both, I guess,” Dean said, allowing a small laugh. “It’s weird, I know. But he’s really cool; you’ll like him, you and Jess both.”

“I’m sure we’ll get along fine, as long as the two of you are.”

“Yeah, we’re getting along great, actually,” Dean said, noting that he should get Castiel to grab ketchup, too. “Honestly, he’s awesome. Super easy to live with, doesn’t seem to get annoyed with me as often as he probably should… and he’s fun to hang out with, super dry, makes me laugh.”

Sam made a thoughtful noise on the other end of the line. “Sounds like a good catch for a husband, Dean. You should put a ring on that one, before it runs away.”

“Funny, Sam.”

“You aren’t the only hilarious one in the family,” said Sam, before pulling away from the phone and distantly calling to Jess. “Hey babe, do you wanna go over to Dean’s to eat?”

Dean amused himself checking how much steak they had in the refrigerator while Sam had a conversation with his wife. He popped the phone onto speaker, leaving it up on the counter so he could reach the back of the fridge.

“Yeah, he sounds good,” Sam was yelling. “He was nicer about him than he is about most people he does know.”

“Hey,” grumbled Dean, mostly to himself.

“No, Jessica, I did not ask him that! Wh—because I don’t care!”

“Dean!” Jess’s voice drifted down from the counter, louder as she came to the phone. “Of course we’ll come over; we’ll head straight there. Also, is he hot?”

“Yes, Dean—is he?” came an amused Russian voice from behind Dean.

Dean smacked his head on the refrigerator in his haste to stand up and dive for the phone.

If this was one of Cas’s books, Dean thought, I’d tell him how hot he was, and he’d rail me over the kitchen table.

“We need ketchup,” Dean said.

Castiel, dressed in worn jeans and a plaid shirt that Dean wasn’t entirely convinced belonged to him, simply looked at Dean for a long moment, silent and smirking, before he nodded. “Ketchup. Anything else?”

“We’re good for meat and stuff. Just ketchup, plates and hotdogs.”

Nodding once more, Castiel reached and grabbed his wallet and keys from the bowl on the kitchen countertop where they now lived, entwined with Dean’s. Turning down the hallway, he disappeared off to the store without a word.

Dean let out a long exhale when he heard the front door click. Fuck. Get yourself together, Dean. You’re a grown-ass man, get your shit locked down.

He’d thought that the longer Castiel spent in his home, the easier it would become. He was sure to grow desensitized at some point, right? Wrong. If anything, Dean’s spiraling attraction to the handsome Russian was getting worse as the days began to turn into weeks. It would have been easier if Cas was just incredibly hot, with a banging body and sexy voice. But unfortunately, he was also thoughtful, and funny, and quirky in an incredibly endearing way.

Stop it , Dean thought, scowling, as he headed up the stairs to get changed. That path only leads to a giant freaking mess that could end with five years in prison, remember?

Safely in his bedroom, Dean let out another sigh. He pulled open the closet door and pulled a clean shirt off a wire hanger, tugging it down rather than unhooking it from the rail. As a reward for his laziness, the hanger pinged off the rail and disappeared down into the junk at the bottom of the closet. Typical. Picking it up, Dean’s eyes fell down to the small bookcase he had tucked in beneath the shirts. Which was now entirely packed with J. Milton’s every work.

Perhaps Dean wasn’t doing himself any favors, reading Castiel’s books. He was embarrassed enough about it that he’d ordered them all from Amazon to be delivered to him at the bakery, anyway—so that Cas wouldn’t catch wind of the fact that after they’d come back from the mall the other day, Dean had immediately ordered his entire rest of his catalog. Sure, he was being supportive. More importantly, they were super freakin’ hot. Who needed the internet when you had a J. Milton?

These books Castiel wrote weren’t flowery bodice-rippers; apparently his thoughtful, yoga-loving fake-fiancé was using a 1980s fucking typewriter, of all things, to churn out the literary equivalent of German dungeon porn. Someone up above hated Dean, clearly.

Slamming the closet door, Dean quickly tossed his baking clothes into his hamper and pulled on a pair of clean-enough jeans from the chair next to his dresser. Feeling much more together without copious amounts of bread flour about his person, Dean headed downstairs to get the grill going before Sam, Jess, and baby Mary arrived.

While the coals warmed, Dean got the steak out of the refrigerator so that it could come up to room temperature and quickly marinated some chicken, gazing out across the scrubby, uncut grass at the back of the house.

Dean hadn’t done much with the garden of his small place. He’d have liked to, but he only had so much time and will when it was just him at home. He wondered if Castiel would want to use the yard for anything—maybe he could clear out that section at the side, and plant some stuff that smelled nice, spruce up the grass, and then Castiel could do some of his yoga outside if he—

“Hey!” Sam announced from behind Dean, slapping him on the shoulder. “Did you even hear us come in?”

“Uh, no,” Dean confessed, tearing his attention away from Castiel’s potential yoga spot. “I was in a bit of a daydream. Now, where is my favorite niece? Ah—there she is!”

Dean abandoned the grill to Sam in favor of homing in on Jess as she came through the back door with little Mary on her hip. At fourteen months old, the gorgeous little girl—all blond curls and huge blue eyes, straight from her mama—was the absolute center of Dean’s brother’s life, and Dean couldn’t blame him one bit.

Stealing the baby with a huge grin, Dean tossed her gently up in the air, to the sound of delighted squeals.

“Hey there, miss Mary Ellen! How are you today?”

“Deeee!” she shrieked happily, as happy to see her uncle as he was to see her.

Playing with the tiny toddler, Dean didn’t immediately notice Castiel return from the store. He was distracted by Mary’s joyful squeals as he helped her pretend to be an airplane, swooping her through the air complete with sound effects. But his eye finally caught Castiel, standing in the kitchen, just on the other side of the open doorway that led back into the house from the small patio. He was watching Dean, his mouth open slightly, his eyes following Mary’s journey through the air. Dean thought he caught a soft smile flutter across the Russian’s face, but as soon as he turned, Castiel caught his eye and stepped out into the yard.

Dean headed straight over to introduce him to Sam, Jess, and Mary, not wanting him to feel awkward.

“Hey, Sam,” he called over to his brother where he was helping his wife toss a salad on the small table Dean had set up for eating outside. “Come meet Cas—you too, Jess.”

Dean carried Mary over on his hip. He gave Castiel a warm smile, hoping that he wasn’t nervous or anything, meeting several people at once—but if he was, he gave no sign of it, extending his hand immediately toward Sam.

“Hello, Sam,” he said politely, shaking firmly. “It is good to meet Dean’s family. He speaks of you a lot.”

“Ahh, well,” Sam said, grinning like the little shit he was really far too grown to still be. “The same, actually. Dean hasn’t stopped talking about you since you arrived.”

Flustered, Dean opened his mouth to tell Sam to shut up, but he was quietened by Castiel’s slight touch to his lower back. They were saved from the subject by Jess coming forward, thank God.

She knocked Sam’s hand aside to greet Castiel with a hug, instead. “I’m glad you’re here, where you can be much safer,” she said simply as she released him. “I hope living with Dean isn’t too traumatic, and that you’re starting to settle in?”

“Staying with Dean has been wonderful, actually,” Castiel said. His eyes flicked across to Dean’s, penetrating, blue, and warm. “We get along very well. I find myself enjoying America much more than I thought I would.”

Dean felt a pleased flutter in his chest. He hadn’t specifically asked Castiel how he was settling in, but he’d been hoping that if he was that terrible to live with, he’d have said something. The confirmation was pleasant to hear though. Dean wanted Castiel to be safe and happy, with an entirely inappropriate intensity.

Formal conversation was quickly passed by as little Mary shrieked from Dean’s hip, reaching out one hand toward the newcomer.

“Up!” she whined; her big eyes latched onto Castiel. “Up!”

Castiel looked uncertain, but Jess soon put him at rest, taking Mary from Dean herself and holding her toward Castiel with a welcoming smile.

“Seems like she likes the look of you,” Jess said. “She wants you to hold her—do you mind?”

“No, of course not,” Castiel responded immediately, reaching out to take her. His accent made the words a little harsh, but his small smile made them warm. “I love children, very much. They’re so much more straightforward about their wants and needs than adults, I find.”

Sam nodded thoughtfully as he began to move back to the glass patio table Dean had set up by the grill, returning his attention to food preparation as they continued to chat. “You’re not wrong there, Castiel.”

“Cas, please,” he corrected, not taking his eyes away from Mary as she gleefully smushed his face, frowning intently as she learned each inch of the new-person’s appearance.

They all moved around each other easily, sliding the marinated steaks onto the grill, tossing salad, unpacking the hot-dogs that Castiel had obtained. Dean noticed that he’d already learned which were the good kind, smiling to himself as he sliced open the package to toss them onto the cooler part of the grill while he worked on perfecting the meat. Sam began to chatter about work, Jess about a new, fancy restaurant that was opening downtown which she wanted to try. Mary commanded much of Castiel’s attention, and Dean found that he could barely take his eyes away.

Watching his tiny niece accept and adore Castiel so easily did something unfathomable within Dean’s ribcage that he tried not to think too hard about. His roommate—because that’s all he was, really, Dean had to keep reminding himself—tickled Mary’s sides and blew raspberries against the side of her head to make her shriek with joy.

Entranced, Dean’s lungs were too big for his chest.

“Dean,” Jess said very quietly, a teasing note to her voice as she slid up next to him at the grill, “I know he’s attractive, but try not to burn the hot dogs.”

Shit.

“I—uh—” Dean felt his eyes widen a little but tried to shrug it off quickly. “It’s nice seeing Mary Ellen bond with someone so quickly, that’s all.” He turned his attention back to the grill as quickly as he could, rolling the quickly cremating hot dogs out of the flame, hoping to salvage them—his dignity, it seemed, was beyond saving, but at least they could still eat something that wasn’t entirely carbon.

“Mmhmm.” Jess hummed, giving him a soft, knowing look as she drifted back to Sam’s side, slipping her arm around his waist as she rejoined the conversation Sam had struck up with Castiel about Russian food.

Dean focused on getting the food out at his usual high standards, and he didn’t notice Castiel approaching until a warm hand settled on his back and an open beer was placed down next to him.

“Don’t work too hard, l’vionak. Enjoy yourself some, too.”

Pausing to take a swig of the beer—his favorite from the selection in the refrigerator—Dean tipped the bottle in appreciation. “Thanks, Cas. Thirsty work, manning the grill. I’m having a good time, though. I love cooking for people, honestly. Seeing you all just chatting and playing with Mary while I finish this up… it’s nice. I love it.”

Castiel’s smile was small, and somehow felt secret, just for the two of them, despite the close proximity of most of Dean’s remaining family.

“Of course you do, moj mal’chik .” Castiel’s hand slipped slowly from Dean’s back as he moved away, the only brief sadness of the happy afternoon.

 

x

 

By the time Sam and Jess left to put little Mary to bed, Dean was on his fifth beer of the evening and the kind of delightfully full that comes from eating a lot of food over a long afternoon. He was sated, warm, and happy.

Castiel had said he wanted to get in a few more hours’ work before the day was done, and so he had headed off to his room. Dean had heard the keys of the old typewriter thumping and clicking through the door as he’d walked to his own a while later, and the now-familiar sound made him smile.

He couldn’t help but wonder at what Castiel was writing. Closing his bedroom door, Dean slipped out of his smoky-smelling t-shirt and jeans, abandoning the splashes of grease and charcoal smudges on his pants to the hamper. He’d deal with them the next day, spray a little stain remover on them before he threw them in the washer…might as well see if Castiel wanted anything cleaned too, he mused idly, opening his closet out of quickly-developed habit.

What should he read tonight? Dean eyed the bookshelf beneath the rail for a moment before tugging the second book of J. Milton’s Possession series from the middle shelf. Despite Castiel’s voiced reservations in the bookstore, the series was turning out to be one of Dean’s favorites of his. Castiel might not feel like writing from the point of view of a sexual submissive was his forte, but Dean found he certainly enjoyed reading that way. Not that all of J. Milton’s works weren’t exceedingly hot… they were. But the Possession books were able to grip Dean on a much more personal level.

Settling himself down onto the mattress, Dean fluffed the pillow up behind his back and began to read. The story was gripping—much better plotted than most of the novels in the erotica section, Dean would say—but even so, Dean couldn’t help his thoughts drifting.

To Castiel, mostly.

To how he’d looked in the backyard a few hours before, that small smile that always felt like a gift crinkling his eyes in the late-autumn sunlight. His strong hands helping Dean carry plates, sliding past him at the grill with a small touch to his back or forearm, gesticulating as he taught Sam and Jess rude words in Russian.

It had been a great afternoon. And Castiel had looked absolutely devourable throughout the entire thing.

Dean felt himself beginning to chub up at the memories, thinking back to how utterly beautiful Castiel had looked as he laughed, low and rumbling, at Sam and Jess’s increasingly ridiculous requests for translation. Dean wanted that laugh pressed into his skin, wanted to absorb it and selfishly keep it just for himself. The Possession book slipped from his hand, down onto the bedding rucked up by his hip, and Dean couldn’t help but smirk at its upturned spine—Possession, indeed. What Dean wouldn’t give to possess Castiel… to be possessed by him.

His pajama pants were beginning to feel a little constricting, so Dean shifted on the bed to lift his hips and push them off, abandoning them onto the floor. He trailed his hand down across the front of his boxer-briefs, letting out a slow breath. Living with the sexy Russian was giving Dean a lot of pent-up tension. As much as he tried to tell himself that jacking off thinking about his roommate and fake-fiancé was wrong , he couldn’t deny that it certainly felt very right, and he was hardly the first person in history to be attracted to their roommate… there were entire porn sites dedicated to that exact thing, after all.

Squeezing himself through the fabric, Dean couldn’t help it anymore; he finally let go, picturing Castiel’s strong hands, his tanned fingers wrapping around Dean’s already growing length, easily coaxing him to full hardness with just a touch.

Dean let out a sigh of pure pleasure— why had he waited so long for this? Castiel never had to know, and it would certainly help take the edge off the thrumming buzz that built in Dean’s chest every time Castiel touched him, with even the most casual of movements.

He remembered the rumble of Castiel’s voice as he’d stepped up to Dean at the grill hours before, so close to the side of Dean’s face. The hand that rested on the base of his back, just in the curve; he loved it when Castiel touched him there. Obviously Castiel meant it only as a friendly gesture, but it was amazing what those tiny touches could do to Dean. They’d calm him in a moment if he was tense, or spread affectionate warmth through his bones in a way they really should not. But Dean savored every one.

Imagining Castiel’s touch right then, warm fingers against his bare skin, Dean let out a soft moan. He pictured Castiel’s fingers sliding around Dean’s hip to his front, the low gravelly rumble of some unknown Russian phrase in Dean’s ear as Castiel slipped his hand down across Dean’s abdomen and into his underwear.

Dean hadn’t even known that he had a language kink; perhaps he still didn’t, and it was just a Castiel kink, but whichever it was, Castiel’s tone and words did things to Dean that he had to struggle through every single day. But now he simply let it be; remembering his voice, his little Russian endearments. He was really going to have to learn some himself, sometime.

In Dean’s mind, the hand that gripped his cock—bobbing upward and fighting against his underwear for space, by then—didn’t belong to him; it was Castiel, his hot touch, his body pressing against Dean’s back as he jerked him lazily, teasing.

Dean’s underwear got pushed down, shoved haphazardly down his thighs to expose his balls so that he could imagine Castiel cupping them reverently, massaging them gently in the palm of his hand before giving them a firmer squeeze, building him up.

He bit his lip, his pulse beginning to race as he thought about Castiel stroking his length, working him over more firmly, running his thumb along the head to press into the bundle of nerves just under the crown. Dean licked his hand to soften his skin and ease his movements, the tension in his thighs already making him want to jerk his hips, though sadly they met only air as they thrust hopefully upwards.

Tipping his neck and pressing back against the bed, Dean’s bedframe gave a perilous creak as he groaned, rolling his head against the headboard, losing himself in his imaginings.

The things Castiel would do to him… because he had to be a kinky bastard, come on now, Dean reasoned. He wasn’t stupid enough to think that anything Castiel wrote was real, but the inspiration came from somewhere, and Castiel sure knew what he was about.

Pressure built low in Dean’s abdomen as he thought about Castiel’s hand speeding up, taking from Dean what he wanted. Thought about Castiel’s piercing blue eyes wordlessly demanding more, thought about the way Dean’s name sounded as it rolled off Castiel’s tongue, thought about how it would sound if he said it with his dick in Dean’s mouth.

“Fuck,” Dean hissed, his voice low, his heart thudding.

He jerked faster, his breath coming out in rough pants as he imagined Castiel’s fingers tightening in his hair, pulling him in, fucking himself into Dean’s throat.

“Shit…” Letting out small groaning sounds, Dean braced his legs and twisted his wrist, pulling at the head of his cock frantically, so close—

“Cas…” he gasped, his body fizzing with tingling white-noise as he spilled over his fist and stomach. He stroked himself through it, moaning softly, gasping.

Son of a bitch, that had been good. Dean orgasmed plenty, but imagining Castiel… it hadn’t been that good in a while. He lay back on his squashed pillow as his heart rate slowed, floppy and warm. Once he could breathe freely again, he reached across to his nightstand for some Kleenex, wiping up the splatters of come that covered his stomach and right up across his ribs. Castiel, it seemed, was incredibly inspiring.

Dean tugged his underwear back up when he was done, standing shakily and neatening the bed. It was always fifty-fifty with orgasms, Dean found—either they left him wanting to take an immediate nap, or with a strange buzz of energy. Masturbating to the thought of his gorgeous fake-husband seemed to have left him with the latter, so he grabbed his pajama pants from where he’d abandoned them on the floor and quickly found a shirt. Hoisting up his laundry hamper, he quickly scanned the room for rogue socks and floury work shirts before he headed out onto the landing beyond the bedroom door.

Might as well make use of the burst of energy and get the laundry started, he figured.

Stopping outside Castiel’s door, Dean realized that the clacking of the keys on the manual typewriter had stopped.

“Cas?” he called.

Nothing but flat silence.

“Gonna throw some laundry on, Dmitri. Lemme know if you want anything cleaned, okay?” Dean said. It would be very unlike Castiel to be asleep this early, but maybe the afternoon with Mary had worn him out, Dean reasoned. He stepped away, about to head down the stairs, before Castiel’s voice carried through the door.

“No, it’s okay—totally fine. ‘m fine. No laundry. Nothing at all. Goodnight, Dean.”

Dean raised an eyebrow to himself. Castiel sounded flustered and gravelly; perhaps he really had been asleep. He shrugged and headed on down to start the washer. “Alright, Cas. G’night.”

Chapter Text

When Dean and Gabriel had first met, they had bumped heads in the worst way. It had taken a while for the two of them to become friends, despite working out that they had things in common—and a good portion of the reason for that was just that Gabriel could be so fucking annoying.

“Sugar! Yes please!” Gabriel screeched at full volume, in a truly terrible imitation of a Maroon 5 song. “Won’t you come and put it down on me?”

Dean rolled his eyes, sliding the five-pound bag of sugar across the kitchen counter toward his business partner. “Here. But I need it back before I have to put the meringue topping on the lemon pies.”

“Thanks, Dean-o!” Gabriel chirped, beginning to scoop copious amounts of sweet crystals into the cradle of the digital weighing scale on his side of the counter. “You’re in a good mood today. Usually my early morning karaoke is met with derision and extraneous cussing.”

“It’s four thirty in the morning, Novak. I’m just too groggy to punch you.”

“Touchy. Coffee?”

“Yeah. Make it a little stronger, will you? I think I’m growing acclimatized to your brother’s coffee; everything else tastes like weak dishwater now,” Dean complained.

“In Soviet Russia, coffee drink you,” Gabriel quipped, affecting a hideous Russian accent as he moved out through the kitchen door toward the café front of Trick or Sweet.

Dean rolled his eyes and went back to stirring up his cinnamon bun mixture. He had a heavy tray of the delicious rolled treats in hand when Gabriel returned, moving them over to the other table and covering them with a thin cloth so that they could rise.

“Here ya go,” Gabriel said, sliding Dean’s favorite mug onto the center table. “Strong but bitter, just like you.”

“If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were hitting on me,” Dean grumbled, walking over to collect the coffee. He wrapped his hand around the chipped old Star Wars mug and took a deep inhale.

“Nah, I know better than to flirt with a nearly-married man,” Gabriel offered with a wink. “And also, eww.”

“Hey!” Dean said, offended, flicking flour at Gabriel across the table. “Rude. I’m adorable, fuck you.”

They glared at each other half-heartedly, smirking in amusement, as they both leaned back against the table for a well-earned coffee break. They worked hard long before the store ever opened to the public, and as much as it pained Dean to admit it, it was Gabriel’s ineffably cheerful demeanor that kept him going before the sun rose. Dean just wasn’t naturally made for early mornings.

“So,” Gabriel began after a long slurp of his vanilla caramel double-cream latte, “you really do seem to be in a good mood of late, all joking aside.”

Dean shrugged, watching the steam curl from his mug, already planning out how many cupcakes to frost in the back of his head. “I guess. Life is good.”

“It hasn’t been too bad, having my brother with you, then? Castiel can be…” Gabriel trailed off, searching for the right words. “Blunt. Awkward. Demanding, on occasion.”

“Huh,” Dean said thoughtfully. “Yeah, I can see those being true. But he’s also tidy, and considerate, and honestly a pretty damn good roommate. Could be much worse.”

“Just a roommate, then,” Gabriel noted, his eyes carefully trained on the green and white OSHA poster that they were required to have hanging on the kitchen wall.

Dean put his coffee mug down. “What exactly are you inferring?”

“Oh, come on.” Gabriel gave Dean a wolfish grin. “I could see the way you two were looking at each other the morning he got here. It was like the intro to a fairly decent porno.”

Dean spluttered, but he could feel his cheeks reddening, “Dude—no. I mean, sure, Cas is…”

“Dreamy?” Gabriel supplied.

“Handsome,” Dean corrected with a deep glare down at Gabriel. “But I’m not stupid. I’m not gonna fuck this up, okay?”

Gabriel looked up at him quietly, more serious. “Alright. Just asking. No need to bite my head off. I don’t think you’d mess this up, not deliberately or anything, but… well, you know. After you dated that Victor dude, I know you have a bit of a type, okay, and—”

“Oh no way. ” Dean picked up his mug and turned, heading back to his work station to begin his cupcake frosting. “I am not talking about this with you.”

“Dean.” Gabriel’s coffee went down to the counter and he threw up his hands apologetically. “I’m not trying to get all up in your business, dude. You can keep your kinky shit to yourself, I’m not here to judge how you get off outside of work. But I do have a personal investment in not ending up in jail, so… y’know.”

“I know what? ” Dean challenged, turning back, his cheeks burning as he leaned aggressively on one hand, staring flatly back at Gabriel.

Gabriel sighed. “Stop being so confrontational, asshole. You know I don’t like confrontation; this isn’t about that. I just want my brother safe, and us not arrested by I.C.E., so if this is all gonna fall apart because you can’t keep your dick in your pants around a man like him, and then you get all commitment-phobic and fuck it up, I want all our cards on the table.”

Dean took a deep breath. Maybe he was being just a little sensitive; Gabriel was, after all, in on this too. “Right,” he said. “Yeah. I get it, man. But there’s nothing to worry about, okay? Even if any of that is the case, someone like your brother isn’t gonna look twice at me, alright? So relax.”

Gabriel’s face fell oddly and he blinked slowly. “Now wait a minute,” he began, somewhat aggressively. “That’s just not true. Cas has a type too, and you are totally it, okay? There’s only one person around here allowed to talk shit about you, and that’s me.”

Despite himself, Dean gave a low chuckle as he pulled the cupcake bases he planned to use out of the walk-in chiller. Moving back to the main kitchen, he set them down on the steel countertop, and turned to Gabriel once more. He’d given up on his conversation with Dean it seemed, and was bent over a steaming pan, measuring the temperature of some melting chocolate with studious precision.

“I’m sorry, Gabe. I didn’t mean to be an asshole.” Dean wasn’t the best apologizer in the world—he was well aware of that. But he and Gabriel had learned long ago that working together while they were on the outs was no fun, so he’d tried to get better about swallowing his pride. “Yeah, Cas is pretty hot, okay? But I’m not gonna do anything about it. It’s too risky because of the chance of it not working out, I get that. I wouldn’t do that to him, I wouldn’t do that to myself, and I wouldn’t do that to you.”

Gabriel didn’t mention the apology—something Dean had learned over time, too—and merely accepted it with a small grin. He reached over to grab a large gallon canister of nuts, carefully sprinkling them into his chocolate. “It’s all good Dean-o. I just wanted to put it out there, y’know? Didn’t want you chasing tail right into jail. It’s not like you’re falling in love with the guy or anything, so don’t land us in jail over assault with a friendly weapon, okay?”

“Assault with a—oh my god.” Dean laughed, shaking his head and beginning to whip up his frosting. “I promise you, I won’t get us arrested, okay?”

“Better not,” Gabriel observed casually. “Pretty thing like you, you’d be playing hide-the-cannoli more often than even you would like.”

“Gross, Gabriel, gross… cannoli though? I should add some to the new product board, huh?”

Gabriel cringed, but couldn’t help a nod. “The baked kind, yes. Keep the other kind outta my kitchen.”

Dean decided that it was a genuinely good idea, and added it to the whiteboard on the wall, next to a hastily scrawled note of Dean’s that said, “ Surprise Russian cake?”. Luckily Gabriel hadn’t commented on that one.

They settled back to work easily, and Dean focused all his attention on perfecting his salted-caramel frosting. It wasn’t like Castiel was into him anyway, Dean thought. It wasn’t as if he was falling for the guy or anything like that. He was deadly attractive, sure. But Dean knew better.

Right? Right.

 

x

 

Shortly before eleven o’clock, Dean headed to the front of the store to turn off the flashing “Fresh Bread!” sign. He’d sold out, and he was feeling a little worn out and didn’t plan on refilling the case; they’d sold more than enough loaves for one day. Hopefully anyone that still wanted some would be encouraged to come back another day.

They’d had a busy morning initially, with loaves and cakes and croissants flying off the shelves, accompanied by pounds of chocolate and many, many coffees. Gabriel had taken a break from being behind the counter to refill his chocolate cases and fetch some more of Dean’s apple scones, while Dean quickly tidied up the café portion of the room, piling mugs into the dishwasher and setting it to run. They were moving into a small lull before lunch, it seemed, but they knew better than to slack off.

Dean took a minute to check his phone; a random political meme from Sam, a new picture of Mary from Jess, and a long, rambling text from his friend Charlie. She was demanding to know more about Dean’s new fiancé, who she was extremely put out to have not even heard of, even if she was busy getting a PhD over in Massachusetts.

He grimaced at that one and pocketed his phone—he’d call her later. He hadn’t really worked out what to do about his close friends and other family, outside of Sam, Jess, and Gabe. His instinct, of course, was to tell them the truth…but it wasn’t just his secret to tell, and Castiel didn’t know these people. He had to trust them, too.

Musing guiltily, Dean went to wipe down the tables near the window. He was focused on polishing off the coffee rings and didn’t hear the bell above the door chime, so he jumped when a deep, rumbling Russian accent boomed from behind him.

“Hello, Dean.”

“Shit!” Dean jerked upright. “I mean, uh, hi. Hi Cas.”

Castiel smirked. “Is this a bad time? I just felt like a change of scenery and some coffee, so instead of walking all the way across town to Starbucks, I figured I’d come here.”

“Nah, you picked a really good time actually, it’s just quietened down. You just made me jump. I was lost in thought.”

Castiel nodded. “I see.”

It was then that Dean noticed the laptop tucked under his arm. “You have a laptop!” he exclaimed, realizing only after he’d said it what a weird thing it was to say.

“Yes, Dean,” Castiel said, chuckling. He lifted his arm—clad as always in his dumb, wrinkly trench coat—and gestured to an empty table in the window nook. “I was going to sit and write for a bit, if it was okay with you.”

“Of course, buddy. No problem at all. I’ve just only ever seen you work on your typewriter.”

“Ahh.” Castiel nodded. “I see. I type my first draft manually, just getting the thoughts out, you see—there are lots of mistakes, but it’s the purest way for me to write, I find. Then I scan the pages and type up my second draft on the computer, copying from the images, ready to send to my editor.”

“That makes sense,” Dean agreed, moving back behind the counter. “So, does that mean you’re done with the first draft of what you were working on?”

Castiel nodded, and Dean couldn’t help but note that he looked rather proud of himself.

Adorable, Dean couldn’t help but think. “That’s great, Cas!” he said, moving over to the coffee machine. “Your drink is on me, then. Go sit yourself down, I’ll bring it over.”

Scowling at the drip coffee they had left in the jug, Dean tossed it and decided to make a fresh batch, so he could get it how Castiel liked it. He gathered one of the fresh apple scones that Gabriel had just stocked the case with and sprinkled a little more cinnamon sugar on the top, just to make it extra delicious.

“Dean, if you want to take a break for a bit, I’m done with the—Oh, hey, Dima .” Gabriel grinned across at Castiel as he spotted him. “You wanna sit with Cassie and take a break for a bit?” he asked, turning back to Dean.

“Don’t mind if I do,” Dean replied, grinning as he grabbed a second coffee mug. “I was about to take him a drink anyway.”

Gabriel nodded, settling himself behind the register and smiling charmingly at a young mother and two children who strolled through the door, as if on cue. “Welcome to Trick or Sweet! What will your pleasure be today?”

Dean left Gabriel to it, gripping the coffee mugs in one hand and grabbing the plate he’d prepared for Castiel with the other. He walked over to where Castiel had settled himself, his trench coat folded neatly over the back of his chair as he gazed thoughtfully out of the window at the small park across the street, where the farmers’ market was winding down for the day.

“Here you go,” Dean said, sliding the coffee in front of him before placing the plate down. “One coffee just how you like it, and one of my best baked treats, as a reward for finishing your first draft.”

Castiel smiled up at him, and Dean tried to avoid thinking about the way it made his breath stick in his chest.

“That is very kind of you Dean. Thank you, moj khoroshiy mal’chik .”

Dean rolled his eyes as he lowered himself into the seat opposite. He loved the way the Russian words fell from Castiel’s tongue, but he’d already given up asking what any of them meant.  “Mind if I sit with you for a few minutes? Will it be too distracting?”

“Not at all.” Castiel patted the top of his closed laptop. “I haven’t even started, and I always enjoy your company.”

Gabriel caught Dean’s eye from behind the counter as the small family he’d been serving departed, and he jerked his thumb to indicate that he was heading into the back as the shop was empty. “Call me if anyone comes in,” he requested.

“Sure thing,” Dean said, waving him off, before turning back to Castiel. “Hey—I’m used to your random Russian outbursts at me, but what was that Gabriel called you before? Dima ?”

Castiel scowled as he pulled the bakery plate over toward himself. “ Dima , yes. Gabriel speaks no real Russian, but still wants to make fun of me. It’s the diminutive form of my middle name—it means ‘little Dmitri’. It seems you’ve started a trend.”

Dean grinned wolfishly. “Big words coming from a man a foot shorter than you.”

Castiel’s frown melted as he gave a little laugh at Dean’s words. “Indeed, you’re quite right.” He eyed Dean’s coffee mug and the empty table beside it, raising his eyebrow. “No delicious baked goods for you? Did you want to share mine?”

He nudged the scone Dean had brought him back across the table, and Dean shook his head with a little smile. He wrapped his hands around his coffee mug, shrugging one shoulder.

“Nah, but thanks. Gotta watch what I eat, baking all day. I need to consume less scones, not more.” Dean grinned, lightening up the comment, but Castiel frowned right back at him.

“Ridiculous, Dean. A man who looks like you has a long way to go before he should stop enjoying life. Here—” Castiel broke the scone in two, settling his half on the napkin Dean had included on the plate and nudging the rest back toward Dean. “I insist. If your body becomes even one kilogram beyond fantastic, I will be the first to let you know.”

Dean felt his neck heating at Castiel’s bold, clear statement that he found Dean’s body to be ‘fantastic.’ Somehow tongue tied, he dropped his eyes briefly, totally unsure why he was reacting like a blushing schoolgirl. He opened his mouth to speak, to at least thank Castiel for the compliment, but of course the only thing he managed to say was, “Pounds.”

Castiel raised an eyebrow. “What?”

“We use pounds here, not kilograms, mister.”

Castiel gave Dean one of his full body eye rolls, shoving the plate the rest of the way across the table. “Shut up and eat your damned scone, Dean.”

Chuckling, unable to help the warm grin that he threw across the table at Castiel, Dean picked up the scone half from the napkin and took an obedient bite. “Happy?”

The smirk that Castiel passed back across the table made Dean’s heart thud alarmingly against his sternum. “Yes, Dean. I’m happy,” he said smugly.

Such a little shit, Dean thought with amusement, giving in and enjoying the scone between slurps of his coffee. He did, after all, make them just how he liked them.

They sat quietly for a few minutes, contentedly sipping their coffees, Castiel complimenting Dean on how good the coffee was, and how good his baking was, more than once. It was comfortable and relaxed, and Dean really didn’t want to go back to work—but it wasn’t fair to leave Gabriel at it alone, he knew. Before he stood up, though, he did decide to ask Castiel one thing.

“Hey, Cas—I’ve been thinking. One of my best friends, Charlie, she’s been asking a lot of questions about you. I think she’s a bit put out that I suddenly got engaged to a guy she’s never met, or even heard of until I’d already had you move in and put a ring on it.”

Castiel nodded slowly, still chewing. He swallowed, then tilted his head just a fraction, his eyes still on Dean. “That’s understandable, I suppose. I’m sure, given the situation, you’d be concerned if it was reversed.”

Dean nodded. “Yeah, of course. I was just wondering if you’d be okay with me telling her the truth, but I know that’s a lot to ask when you don’t even know her.”

For a moment Castiel just sat, regarding Dean with an unreadable expression. Eventually, he nodded. “I do trust your judgement, Dean. I’m sure you wouldn’t be friends with her if she was untrustworthy. I just…” he trailed off momentarily, before shrugging. “Well, of course, it makes me nervous. If anyone gets wind of what we’re doing, I’m concerned not only because I would be sent back to Russia, but you would get in a lot of trouble, Dean. Serious trouble. I don’t want that.”

Dean nodded understandingly. “I get that. I do, really. And honestly, it’s nice that you care enough about what would happen to me that you want to keep this as secret as possible. But if there’s anyone in the world we can trust, it’s Charlie.” Dean paused, picking up his coffee mug to drain the last few drops, before thoughtfully running his finger around the porcelain lip. “How about a compromise?” he asked, looking back up.

Castiel tilted his head again, questioning.

“What if I invite her down this weekend—she’s at MIT right now, doing a PhD—and I introduce you two. As my fiancé. You can decide for yourself whether to trust her or not.”

With a surprised blink, Castiel nodded. “That’s… very kind of you, Dean. I think that’s a wonderful idea, though—again—I’m reminded of the fact that you are lying to so many people and giving up so much for me, when you get nothing in return.” He frowned down at his coffee cup so hard that it looked as if he was trying to crush it with the weight of his stare.

“Hey,” Dean said, his hand darting across the table to cover Castiel’s without permission. “I get plenty out of it.”

Castiel’s gaze rose, meeting Dean’s for a moment, drowning him in relieved, grateful blue. The look held for longer than it should, but Dean couldn’t bring himself to care.

“I should…” Castiel patted his laptop after a long moment, breaking the stare before it became too awkward.

Dean cleared his throat. “Uh, yeah. Of course. I need to get back to work, anyway.”

He stood up, collecting his mug and the empty scone plate, and turned back toward the counter, planning to head into the kitchen and check on his sourdough starter. Sam and Gabriel both thought that he was utterly nuts, but Dean would swear up and down that it made better bread when he talked to it and sang it Metallica songs while he worked.

As he pushed his seat back with a rough squeak across the hardwood floor, Dean looked up to see Gabriel standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the front of the store. He had one hand on the doorframe, and his eyes fixed firmly on Dean and Castiel as they sat in the window bay. There was a strange look on his face, a soft frown, but when Dean stood he pushed it away to a smile and moved on his way down to the chocolate case. When Dean passed him, he was busy counting dark chocolate cherry bombs and he didn’t say anything.

Dean headed on into the kitchen after he rinsed the dishes and added them to the dishwasher under the counter, next to the coffee station. His sourdough starter was bubbly and content, smelling sweet and ready for use.

“There’s a good boy,” he crooned to it, pulling the jar across the table toward himself.

The doorbell jangled, and Dean paused, the light muslin he’d had over the starter in his hand. “Gabe?” he called. “You want me to get that?”

There was no response, so Dean pushed Han the starter (because Han shot first) across the table and strolled back out to the front of the shop. The owner of the restaurant down the street was there to pick up his order, and Dean greeted him with a warm smile.

“Hey, Roy. Pull up around the back, man. I’ll help you load.”

Dean looked over to the window bay. Gabriel had made his way over to Castiel and was seated opposite him, leaning over the table slightly. Castiel had his laptop open, but he wasn’t typing. His gaze still rested on the keys however, looking oddly cowed as Gabriel whispered something ferociously across the table. His brow was furrowed, his cheeks red. His overall expression though, Dean noted, was one more of concern than anger—but nonetheless, the way Castiel’s shoulders were stiffly pulled in as he hissed something back across the table, Dean know that no matter what they were discussing, it was one family meeting he wanted absolutely no part in.

And so he left them to it, stepping quietly out to help Roy stack the cupcake boxes onto his truck, to appease the hungry people of Lawrence for another week.

 

x

 

By the time Dean got home, his previously great mood from the morning had soured significantly. Gabriel had been off all day—not to mention singing pop-rock’s greatest autotuned hits—and they’d had a succession of truly shitty customers that had Dean regretting ever becoming a baker.

Gossip travelled quickly in a town like Lawrence. After the parade of asshole out-of-towners who had made dumb comments that got under Dean’s skin, they’d had a visit from Kit, the rude and aggressive owner of an auto shop across town. He’d once worked for Bobby, before Dean, and he’d been fired for his poor attitude before setting up his competing store. He hadn’t come to Trick or Sweet for bread or cake, though, or even for chocolate; he’d come to see if the rumor that Dean was marrying an “immigrant” was true.

The air quotes had been audible. It hadn’t bothered Dean as much as he’d thought it would, knowing that—sadly—it was bound to happen eventually. Gabriel, though, had just about leaped over the counter. He may not like confrontation, but the tiny man was scrappy as fuck when someone insulted his family. (Even though he hated most of them.) It had been all but a minute, and they’d kicked Kit out swiftly, but it had put a downer on their day and spoiled both his and Gabriel’s moods.

On days like the one he’d just got through, Dean often liked to strip out of his floury work clothes, slide into something old and comfy, and spend his afternoon giving Baby a little extra TLC. So as soon as he let himself into the house, he headed upstairs to change. He paused outside Castiel’s door, considering yelling to let him know that he was home—but he could hear laptop keys furiously clacking even through the door, so he decided to leave him to his second draft, and slink quickly back outside when he was changed.

Dean’s only regret about his otherwise serviceable, neat townhome was that he didn’t have a garage. It meant he had to park Baby on the street, which hurt deep in Dean’s heart somewhere that folks who drove Toyota Corollas in basic bitch white would never understand. He kept his Impala covered and very well cared for, and mostly it wasn’t a problem—other than the incident Dean didn’t speak of where some heinous miscreant had run off with her wing mirror.

Luckily, none of Dean’s immediate neighbors ever parked there, so he always had plenty of space to work on her. Clad in an old, grease-stained sleeveless tank and faded jeans that had more than one hole, Dean set about giving Baby an overhaul. She didn’t need it, per se, but he needed it, at that moment.

He breezed through changing her oil, before grabbing his creeper board and deciding to lift her a little to take a peek at her suspension. Baby was over fifty years old, and even though he kept her in prime condition, an older lady needed constant supervision to thrive.

He was on his back, only poking out from under the car from the knees down, with a wrench balanced on his stomach, when he felt a tap to his ankle.

Scooting out, Dean saw Castiel’s big blue eyes peering down at him.

“Heya, Cas.”

“Hello, Dean,” he said, giving a tiny smile.

“How’d you know I was out here?” Dean asked, pushing up on one elbow. His back twinged, announcing that a full day on his feet wasn’t necessarily the best time to go home and do even more work, but he ignored it.

Castiel, though, seemed to pick up on it, frowning softly as he extended one hand down to Dean to help him up. “I saw you come out,” he explained, using his other hand to point upwards. “You’re right below my window, after all, so I was watching.”

“You were watching me work on the Impala?” Dean asked dumbly, cursing himself that he hadn’t worn something better, if he’d known the sexy Russian would be paying attention. Not that, he reminded himself, he should be even thinking about what impression he might make on Castiel.

Dean was attempting to chase his thoughts to safer pastures, but it was rather fruitless when Castiel was still loosely holding onto his hand from helping him up and slowly trailing his eyes up Dean as if he was a delicious, sugary treat.

Dean cleared his throat.

Castiel’s eyes snapped up, and he dropped Dean’s hand, awkwardly reaching to rub at the back of his neck. “Uh—yes, I heard the door slam when you came out. You didn’t say hello when you came home, so I just wanted to make sure everything was alright.”

Dean leaned back against Baby’s hood, waving away Castiel’s concern with one hand. “Yeah, it’s all good man. Just a rough day, that’s all.”

“Why rough?” Castiel asked, his head tilting, blue eyes roaming Dean’s face and clearly not accepting his brushing the topic aside.

Dean gave a long exhale. “Just one of those days. Your brother was on full annoying form, and we had a bunch of rude customers from out of town who seemed to think I should be able to provide baked goods instantly, for the same price as the freakin’ Walmart over on Iowa Street.” He could feel his shoulders getting tense again even as he said it, his neck muscles bunching. “Assholes.”

Without really thinking about it, Dean made the decision not to mention the other reason his day at work had been awful. It wasn’t a big deal, and he didn’t want to upset Castiel over someone as petty and unimportant as Kit Verson.

Castiel’s squint was unimpressed and dangerous, even with just the reasoning he’d been given. “I’m sorry I left before they arrived. I would have had plenty to say to those people.”

Dean gave him a tense little smile. “It’s fine. I mean, I appreciate that you get it. Mostly it just pisses me off because my Dad used to say shit like that, after I told him I wanted to be a baker. He thought it was pointless, and that baking was a woman’s job.”

If Castiel’s squint had seemed dangerous before, the way his lips thinned then made him seem fully threatening. “What an archaic, ridiculous thing to say.”

Dean’s heart thudded, remembering the many arguments that had centered around similar topics as a kid. He shrugged awkwardly, closing in, shutting it away. “Whatever,” he mumbled, starting to push up off Baby’s hood.

“Hey,” Castiel said, his voice suddenly soft, gravelly but gentle. His hand came up to rest on Dean’s shoulder.

It took a second for Dean to drag his eyes up; he didn’t do this shit, show his emotions in front of people. He was self-aware enough to know that was yet another legacy of his Dad’s, but it was how he was, for now. When he looked at Castiel, their eyes held for a long minute. Dean realized that Castiel was breathing in time with him, the hand that didn’t rest on his shoulder slowly lifting up and down, guiding their breaths to be calmer, spacing them out as Dean automatically matched Castiel’s deliberate, deep inhales.

After a minute, his heartbeat calmed, and Castiel’s hand slowly slid from his shoulder. “Better?” he asked quietly.

Dean nodded, speechless.

Castiel’s smile, tiny on his usually stoic face, but like a ray of sunshine breaking through a cloud, was focused solely on Dean. “Good. Perhaps Baby has had enough attention for the day? You could come inside, and I could make dinner tonight.”

Dean raised an eyebrow. “You can cook?”

“You can come inside, and I can order takeout tonight.”

Dean laughed despite himself and picked up his tools. He obediently moved back inside, guided by Castiel’s gentle hand on his lower back, already feeling much better.

Castiel moved off toward the kitchen—no doubt to raid the drawer of takeout menus next to the refrigerator—and Dean headed through the hallway, taking a detour through the small laundry area beneath the stairs.

He stripped off the tank top he’d thrown on to work on Baby and tossed it into the hamper next to the machine where he often left his floury work clothes, so as not to traipse white dust through the house. Baking was great, but occasionally his house looked like he was selling cocaine rather than bread, and it was a bitch to sweep up. The shirt hit the edge of the hamper and slipped out, falling onto the green recycling box next to it.

On top of the box was a thick manuscript.

Untitled, it said.

J. Milton, it said.

Dean’s eyebrows raised involuntarily.

Bending down to pick up the inch-thick chunk of paper, Dean found his heart racing in excitement. This was… This was Castiel’s book. Crinkled, coffee stained, with a giant red “COPY” stamp on the front, this was a photocopy of the first draft that Castiel had told Dean he was finished with that very day.

An unpublished, raw, J. Milton.

Dean flicked his thumb along the edge, fanning the pages out as he bit his lip. If Castiel was done with it, planned to shred and recycle it… surely, he wouldn’t mind if Dean borrowed it first, right?

Right.

Chapter Text

The weather was cool the next weekend, a true fall wind blowing leaves around Dean’s feet as he closed Baby’s door with a firm thunk. He moved around to the passenger side of the car, opening Castiel’s door with a cheeky little bow.

“We have arrived, husband of mine,” he quipped.

Castiel gave him a tiny, knowing smile as he slid out of the car, smoothing his suit jacket. “We’re not married yet,” he pointed out. “But it’ll be here sooner than we think.”

Dean nodded. “Sure will. So, I figure this is good practice, huh?” He shut the Impala door once Castiel was out and tucked his keys deep into his pocket below his wallet. He smiled back at Castiel’s nod of agreement and gave Baby a little pat on the hood. “Be back soon, girl,” he crooned to her, while Castiel rolled his eyes.

They moved up toward the modern glass building they’d parked beside, the fanciest restaurant that Lawrence had to offer

“This is quite formal,” Castiel said quietly as they progressed up the path that led to the restaurant door, the honeyed smell of soft jasmine from bushes either side surrounding them.

“Yeah,” Dean agreed. “Charlie is usually the least formal person, but Gilda has been commissioned to create a series of paintings for the rooms here, so they want to eat here a few times so that she can judge the vibe.”

“Makes sense,” Castiel said, his voice more distant than Dean expected.

He turned, seeing that Castiel had stopped a few steps back down the path and was fiddling with his collar. Dean watched him for a second, taking in the way his eyes darted to the door and back, his fingers flattening and shifting his blue tie.

Dean stepped up to him, frowning gently, and took the tie out of his hands. “Hey,” he said quietly, between the two of them. “You’re nervous.”

Castiel stayed looking down at Dean’s hands for a second, watching him carefully turn over the silk and neaten it. Then he looked up, fixing Dean with his deep blue stare and a small smile that was—exceedingly rarely—the tiniest bit shy. “Yes, I suppose I am nervous,” he admitted.

“Why?” Dean asked, done with the tie but his fingers still resting on it gently. “You’ve got nothing to be nervous about. No one is going to know, Cas. We got this.”

“That’s—that’s not it, Dean. Charlie is important to you,” Castiel murmured, his eyes drifting back down.

“Yeah, but she has no reason to doubt what we’re sellin’ here, Cas, not really,” Dean said, going for comforting. “She’s not going to know until we tell her—if we tell her. That’s still up to you.”

“That’s not what I—” Castiel stopped, looking back up, looking even more nervous, if anything. “What if she just doesn’t like me, Dean?”

Dean’s heart gave a rude little swoop, spinning a tiny circle before it settled in his chest. Oh. Oh God, that’s adorable.

“Oh, come on,” he quipped softly. “Like anyone can resist you. You’ve got enough big dick energy to flatten the street. Bring it out, Dmitri, you got this.”

Castiel gave a small laugh at that, his tense shoulders and wrinkled brow relaxing. “Good to know you think so.”

Their eyes locked again, that long, sizzling stare that Dean never quite knew how to cut short, never even wanted to. Cas wasn’t just hot, wasn’t just domineeringly, delightfully confident most of the time, he was also—

Oh no, thought Dean. Oh no, no, no. You can be as attractive and cocky as you like, sexy till the cows come home, but Goddamnit you put my heart back where you found it, you dick. 

Dean coughed, breaking the silence. “Let’s go.”

The restaurant was dim and swollen with quiet jazz and loud laughter, every table somehow a private world even in the wide-open space. The table cloths were starched and heavy, hitting the floor, and the candles in the center arrangements of every table were lit already. There was a waterfall in the middle of the floor, and Dean couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at the flamboyance as they waited inside the door. He smoothed down his black suit and adjusted his matching tie, smiling patiently as the head waiter came to seat them—despite the fact that he would rather eat almost anywhere else.

“Dean!” Charlie waved, standing in soft charcoal dress pants and a pea green shirt that complemented her shiny, vermilion hair. Gilda sat next to her, resplendent in a floaty, knee-length white dress.

“Hey, Red,” Dean greeted Charlie warmly with a hug. The waiter stepped back as he saw they already had a table and excused himself to go fetch them drinks.

Castiel stepped up behind Dean, his confident veneer back in place—and suddenly Dean felt privileged that he’d seen it slip, even for a moment. He smiled, reaching over to wrap his arm around Castiel’s strong back and guide him toward the seat next to the one Charlie pulled out for him—trying to grin smoothly and look calm, as if every touch was normal and genuine.

“Charlie, this is Castiel, my fiancé. And Cas, this is Charlie, my best friend from high school. I’ve told you about her.”

Cas played his part well, nodding warmly as he reached across to take Charlie’s hand, not shying away from her forceful shake. “Indeed, you have. And this must be Gilda, her lovely wife, the artist.”

Gilda smiled warmly and nodded; she was much quieter than Charlie, but Dean found that they suited each other.

“That’s quite the accent you’ve got there, Castiel,” Charlie noted as they all settled into their seats. She fixed Dean with a pointed look that practically spelled out, which website did you buy him from, perv?

Dean glared back in response, letting Castiel answer.

“Please, call me Cas. And yes, I was born and raised in Russia.”

“Interesting. So, what brings you to America?” Charlie asked, turning in her chair so that she faced Castiel head on, quite blatant in her desire to cross-examine him fully. “It’s a long way to go just for this nerd,” she said, jerking a thumb toward Dean.

Castiel’s small laugh and fond smile across at Dean could pass for genuine, Dean realized with relief. “I have to disagree,” he rumbled warmly. “Dean is more than worth the distance.”

Gilda made a soft aww-ing noise, elbowing Charlie gently, subtly telling her to ease up without a word.

“I came to America to visit my half-brother, who of course is Dean’s business partner,” Castiel continued smoothly, the not-quite lies falling from his lips with practiced ease. Because, of course, they had practiced. “When he picked me up from the airport and took me to the bakery, it was love at first sight, honestly.”

Dean’s heart gave a betraying pitter-patter, but Charlie looked unimpressed. Her gaze moved accusingly to Dean. “That’s all very well in books and stuff, but don’t you think you’re moving a little fast?”

Castiel reached under the table, giving Dean’s thigh a reassuring squeeze. They’d been prepared for this.

“It is fast,” Dean agreed, nodding. “But I’m not getting any younger, and neither is he. And when you know, you know. And I know, okay?”

Charlie’s eyebrow arched. “Well you sound like idiots, to me.”

Luckily the waiter arrived, breaking through the tense atmosphere with glasses of water and the offer of champagne or beer. Dean busied himself ordering drinks, and left Castiel to Gilda’s soft questioning for a moment.

“Will any of your family from Russia be coming to the wedding, Cas?” she asked, smiling much more patiently than Charlie had.

Cas shook his head, smoothing out his napkin across his lap as he did so. “No, they will not. It’s a very long flight, and none of them are able to take long breaks from their work at short notice.”

Plus, said the voice in the back of Dean’s head, they all know that it’s not real anyway.

“That’s a shame,” Gilda said with genuine softness. “But we’re all subject to the whims of our work on occasion. What is it that you do, Cas?” she asked, clearly trying to keep the conversation going so that Charlie couldn’t attack once more. “Dean’s text earlier this week indicated that you were working here.”

“Yes, I am—I’m a writer, you see. So, I can work anywhere.”

Charlie’s interest was once again piqued. “Oh, that’s cool—what do you write?”

Castiel turned his gaze onto her deliberately, effortlessly calm and almost challenging. “I’m a very successful writer of gay erotica. Much of my work is published here in the States—it’s a little illegal back home, depending on who you ask—so I already have a decent income here without having to rely on Dean at all, if that’s your concern with our marriage.”

Charlie’s mouth opened, flapped twice, then closed. She let out a small grin. “You’re nice and straightforward. I like it.”

Turning back to the table, Dean looked back and forth between the two of them, holding his breath as if there might be some kind of minor explosion next to the fancy waterfall in the ridiculous restaurant.

“What’s your Hogwarts house?” Charlie asked very suddenly, her eyes narrowed.

“Gryffindor,” Castiel answered without pausing for a single beat.

“Star Trek, or Star Wars?”

“Battlestar Galactica.”

“Cheater,” Charlie said with a small smirk. “Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones?”

“Blasphemy, why not both? As long as we’re talking about books exclusively, of course.”

Dean and Gilda caught each other’s eyes across the table. Both let out a slow sigh in unison.

Charlie nodded very slowly, her eyes still boring viciously across the table. “Alright,” she said.

“Alright?” Dean asked.

“I want to be a bridesmaid,” she announced, picking up the beer Dean had ordered for her, which had appeared at some point during her geek-off with Castiel. “And I shall wear an emerald silk pant-suit.”

Dean sighed. “Fine.”

Da, of course,” Castiel agreed into the lip of his glass. Smug bastard.

They perused their menus, and although Dean still found himself a little tense, the questioning softened and became a friendlier, more ‘getting-to-know-you’ kind of chat. Even so, Dean leaned onto the table slightly with his forearms, his spine holding his hidden nerves as he watched Charlie and Gilda question Castiel.

“So how do you come up with the plots for your books?” Gilda asked, the gilded menu propped up before her.

“For me, the characters come before the plot does,” Castiel replied thoughtfully, lifting his eyes from the list of appetizers to respond to her. “Once I know the characters, have them fully designed in my head, the sort of trouble that they can get up to just jumps out at me.”

“Ooh,” Charlie said, wiggling her eyebrows. “I guess the million-dollar question, then, is where do your characters come from? Are they ever based on real people?”

Castiel grinned. “It’s been known,” he said somewhat evasively. “What’s everyone going to eat?”

“I have a few food intolerances,” Gilda said, shrugging at her menu. “So my options are limited. But the fancy salad thing sounds nice.”

Charlie and Gilda started going back and forth, Charlie pointing out things quietly that might meet her wife’s requirements.

Castiel’s hand rose silently to rest in its home at the base of Dean’s back. “Dean?” he said quietly. “What about you?”

The warmth from Castiel’s palm was instant stress relief. “Steak, I guess—what kinda restaurant doesn’t have burgers, huh?” Dean chuckled, flicking his eyes over to see Castiel watching him closely.

“Indeed,” he agreed with a dramatic sigh. “My tastes are simpler than this, I’ll admit.”

“I’ll take you out to the Roadhouse sometime this week,” Dean offered, grinning. He ignored the part of his brain that insisted it sounded like he was asking Castiel out on a date—as his fiancé, of course they should do things together. It was just part of their cover. “They have the best burgers in town.”

“You haven’t taken him to the Roadhouse yet?” Charlie butted in, aghast. “I’m honestly shocked. How much kinky sex have you guys been locked up having that Dean missed taking you there, of all places?!”

Dean laughed, despite feeling himself flush at the awkwardness of it all. “I’ve just been busy, honestly. Lots going on at work for the past few weeks, plus helping Cas settle in and all.”

“Lesson number one in marriage,” Gilda said sweetly. “Always make time for romance, no matter how busy you get.”

“You’re right, I’m sure. We should make time,” Castiel answered her with a smile, before leaning across toward Dean, bumping their shoulders together and playing the doting-fiancé bit to a tee. He stretched over just a fraction, and Dean felt soft, dry lips press into his cheek. “How about we go tomorrow night, Dean?”

Dean’s world went into soft focus, his body somehow melting into an embarrassing lump around his cheek. Feeling the way that his face roared straight to red, he desperately grabbed his menu and pulled it up, shielding himself and praying that the dim light would work to cover the way that Castiel’s tiny, unexpected peck had caught him off-guard.

“I—I, uh, yeah,” Dean squeaked out. “Tomorrow’s great.”

Charlie looked at him oddly but turned to answer Castiel’s perfectly timed question about her studies, rather than call him on his reaction.

Dean took a deep sip of beer before chancing a look at Castiel. His eyes drifted across to meet Dean’s with the tiniest of almost-imperceptible smirks before he continued his discussion.

You total shit, Dean thought. You’re gonna be the death of me.

 

x

 

It turned out that Castiel really did want to eat burgers for dinner the next day. Dean never had any objection to that, no matter where they came from, so he took Cas to meet Jo, Ellen, and Uncle Bobby. It went a lot smoother than the meal with Charlie and Gilda. Living in town, they had all at least heard about Dean’s sudden engagement weeks before, and it wasn’t as shockingly fresh as it was for Charlie. Even so, by the time they were walking home, Uncle Bobby’s rough slap on the shoulder and brief hug were playing on Dean’s mind.

He didn’t regret what they were doing. But lying to his friends and family left Dean deeply uncomfortable, no matter what the justification. They still hadn’t discussed whether they were going to tell Charlie or not; Dean was a lot more conflicted about it than he’d expected. Of course, he didn’t want to lie to her. But pretending to actually be with someone like Castiel, even for those short moments…Dean had enjoyed it a lot more than he could admit just yet. He’d been quiet on the walk home from the Roadhouse, and Castiel had let him be, even though they usually talked almost constantly in each other’s company. They were home before Castiel spoke up.

“What’s bothering you, solnishka?”

Dean shook his head, stepping aside for Castiel to enter the hallway behind him, and then moving to close the front door. “I’m fine,” he lied, shrugging. He was fine. He didn’t share his vulnerabilities that easily.

Castiel didn’t respond. Instead, he stepped toward Dean, crowding his personal space much more than Dean would have normally been happy with anyone doing—but it always felt different, with Castiel. It wasn’t an invasion; it was comforting. He reached out, touching Dean as he always did, the lightest of pressure on his lower back . Castiel moved almost imperceptibly—just a slight shifting of his weight so that he was behind Dean, leaning into him, his breaths in Dean’s ear despite his hand being the only tiny point of contact between them.

Dean felt cocooned, blanketed, somehow pinned in the doorway without so much as a word or sign that he could tell.

Castiel waited.

Dean felt warm beneath his collar—but also safe. “I hate lying to the people I care about,” he said quietly, his eyes casting down to the carpet, despite his earlier insistence that he was fine.

“Of course you do, milyy mal’chik,” Castiel rumbled understandingly. “It’s not a thing to be enjoyed.”

Dean nodded, dumb and silent, his body totally alive from head to toe with just how close Castiel was, even though he still didn’t touch Dean at all beyond that hand; not even a hug, as Dean might have expected.

“You know,” Castiel said, slow and careful, “that this can stop any time you want, Dean. I would never force this on you. I can go home, or find some other way. I won’t have you do this if even part of you—”

“No,” Dean hurried to say. I don’t want you to go, he didn’t say.

Castiel’s nod was slow, just the slightest catch of his stubble against Dean’s hair and ear. “Very well. I won’t ask again. But I expect the truth, if it changes.”

Dean found himself nodding, as Castiel stepped away and moved up the stairs.

His heart was racing.

What the fuck was that?

Dean barely remembered making his way up the stairs to bed, but there he was, sitting on the edge of the mattress trying to work out what the hell kind of mess his life was becoming. He kicked off his boots, letting out a long sigh.

He clearly had a hardcore crush on Castiel. That was beyond obvious, at this point.

But he needed to get a grip on it, he decided. He’d do what he could to work his way through it, to not make things awkward for them.

Even so, the past couple of evenings they’d shared played on a loop through Dean’s mind like the sweetest of tortures. Castiel’s hand smoothing down his back, comforting him in the restaurant. A tiny squeeze of his thigh, reassuring him. His chapped, yet incredibly soft, lips pressing against Dean’s cheek, chaste and yet enough to boil Dean’s blood. And his incredible voice, rumbling behind Dean into his ear, pinning him in the hallway with just his presence and nothing more.

Dean’s pants were uncomfortable from the thoughts alone, and he rolled his eyes a little as he stood up. Dude, you are not fifteen years old. Get a grip.

Even so, there was no reason not to take a little time for himself before bed.

The air in the house was chilly, so he quickly slipped into some comfortable pants and an old shirt, then crouched down in front of the small bookcase in his closet. He ran his eyes across the assorted spines of J. Milton’s works, before suddenly remembering his find from the laundry room the week before. Shifting aside a couple of fallen clothing items that he told himself he’d deal with later, he pulled out the thick manuscript that Castiel had discarded.

Propping himself up on the bed, pillows tucked in behind his back and the blanket cozied up around his thighs, Dean settled the new work on his lap. Untitled. Interesting, maybe Castiel didn’t title his works until the very end, or perhaps he was struggling to title this one? A red ‘copy’ stamp adorned the poor-quality photocopy, and there were a few tell-tale coffee rings here and there, revealing the many long hours Castiel had pored over it—Dean could picture him easily, elbows on the desk, one hand in his hair, squinting like the paper was in some way offensive. He smiled fondly.

The manuscript was much larger than a book, and slightly awkward to balance on his lap without spilling pages everywhere, but Dean managed. Eagerly, he turned to the first page of text, and began reading.

The story was set in Brighton Beach, deep in the Russian quarter of New York. A young doctor named Dmitri—Dean couldn’t help but smirk at that and wonder if he’d had any influence on that name choice—had just moved into the area and was searching for a roommate.

Castiel’s prose was always enjoyable to read, as he gave the reader quirky little details about Dmitri’s apartment and life without overwhelming them with dull information—which, given the genre, was definitely the way to do things. Dean found himself becoming wrapped up in the story quickly, curious to find out what would happen and whether the gorgeous young mechanic that answered his ad for a roommate would fall for Dmitri’s charms.

As Dean progressed further through the pages, something began to tug at the edge of his mind.

The protagonist was a dominant who was struggling to resist the lure of his sexy, submissive, incredibly domestic roommate.

The Dom’s name was Dmitri.

The sub’s name was Michael.

Dean’s middle name was…Michael.

No…surely not. It couldn’t be. Dean frowned, leaning forward on the bed, one of the pillows slipping down behind him, long forgotten as he flicked through the pages. It was crazy but… it couldn’t be.

Could it?

Dean read frantically onward, every word rolling deep in his gut as his imagination gave them even more meaning. Dmitri became Castiel, and Dean was the roommate he was trying to seduce.

The neat blankets and cozy pajama pants that he’d settled into were a lost cause the moment “Dmitri” started dominating “Michael.”

One of Dean’s hands rested on his hard cock through his boxers, teasing himself with light pressure as he read onward, skipping much of the plot to find the scorching hot, graphic sex scenes.

It didn’t mean anything, Dean told himself, absorbing every word of the characters’ passionate first kiss. It was just a book, it wasn’t real, he tried to convince himself as he took in their first heated fumble, Michael on his knees for Dmitri, worshiping his cock. Just because Castiel might have used their names and a roommates-type situation in his novel didn’t mean anything, Dean kept insisting. That was just how inspiration worked, it wasn’t real life.

Dean was gasping desperately, barely able to keep his place on the page as he furiously jacked himself to the descriptions of Dmitri ordering Michael onto his bed, spreading him out, dribbling lube between his cheeks.

Just the thought of this Dom, this Dmitiri, of Castiel...

He was choking on air, heat swirling in his belly as Dmitri slowly, torturously slowly, stretched Michael and took him apart with his hands, leaving him a pliant, begging mess on the mattress.

Dean was totally gone, crying out, hot come blasting his heaving chest as Dmitri fucked Michael down into the bed, pinning him, whispering to him that he was a “Good boy,” over and over.

Michael was full of come—in real life, Dean was just as fucked.

He sunk into his mattress amongst the pillows, calming his heartbeat and ignoring the way his come was puddling in the dip of his ribcage, cooling and congealing uncomfortably. Once he’d got himself together, Dean gathered up the manuscript pages and carefully clipped them back together, secreting away the unpublished novel in his nightstand.

As he climbed back into bed, he felt the momentary flash of guilt that usually came when he masturbated to thoughts of his amazing, sexy husband-to-be. But he pushed it away, shaking his head as he flicked off the light on his nightstand.

He didn’t know yet what he was going to do about the revelation—possible revelation, he reminded himself—brought on by the words, but there was one thing he did know for sure: Untitled by J. Milton was going to be getting a much more thorough read over the next few weeks. Who knew what he might be able to learn about Castiel and his preferences and desires, if even part of the book was true?

 

 

Chapter Text

Castiel was already pulling his trench coat tightly around himself as Dean cut Baby’s engine. The air was chill, winter beginning to grip Lawrence. There was still a month to go until Christmas, but fall seemed to have been barely a blip, passing in a couple of weeks. Locking the Impala doors, Dean fell into step beside Castiel as they walked downtown, commenting on how cold it was.

“Cold?” Castiel smirked, looking amused. “The breeze is a little chilly, I’ll give you that.”

“Says the man who is always in at least three layers.”

Castiel sniffed. “My layers are a fashion choice and reflect little on the weather.”

Dean laughed, bumping at Castiel’s shoulder to get him to turn left out of the parking lot. “How cold does it get in Novosibirsk during the winter, anyway? I don’t know what the weather is like, there.”

“It’s a city in Siberia, Dean. What do you think?”

Dean chuckled as they moved on down the pavement. “Fine, asshole.”

Castiel smiled, teasing done. “It is very cold. It rains a lot too, actually—but mostly cold. In the winter, during the day, it’s easily ten degrees, sometimes eight or so.”

Dean’s brow creased. “In…Celsius?”

“No. In Fahrenheit.”

“Jesus.”

“Yes, he’d have found it very brisk indeed.”

Dean rolled his eyes, beginning to move up the steps toward his brother’s office. “You’re the religious one; you’d know.”

Castiel smiled softly, moving through the glass door of the large office building where Sam had set up shop after college.

“Hey—” Dean said suddenly, a thought striking him as they boarded the elevator. “Did you—I mean, I know I’m not religious exactly, but when we get married, did you, like—did you want, like, a church or something? I thought we’d just go to town hall, but…” He trailed off with a shrug.

As the elevator lurched upward, Castiel turned to Dean, regarding him with obvious surprise. “You would do that for me, if I wanted?”

“Yeah, of course, man.”

Castiel’s smiled was surprisingly soft, but after a moment it fell, and he shrugged. When his eyes rose back up, they fixed on the inside of the elevator doors, waiting for them to open. “That is very thoughtful of you. But I think I would rather go to the town hall, in this case.”

Because this isn’t real suddenly hung between them heavily, and Dean was relieved when the doors slid apart and he could breathe again.

Sam’s unit was small but neat. He worked with his business partner and friend from college, Brady, and they had one sweet-natured paralegal named Patience and a slightly overbearing receptionist, Becky. Dean still felt a swell of pride whenever he saw the Samuel Winchester, Attorney at Law sign on his brother’s office door, even if the office itself was a modern monstrosity that Dean detested.

“Oh hey, Dean!” Becky chirped as they made their way through the waiting area. “And this must be Cas!”

“That’s right,” Dean said, nodding and smiling patiently while Castiel introduced himself. Becky was a bit irritating, sure, but she wasn’t the worst. She did a good job and was incredibly loyal to Sam—something Dean could appreciate. “Is Sam free right now, Becks?”

“Sure.” She nodded, pulling over a date book. “Do you have an actual appointment?”

“No, no.” Dean waved. “He just asked us to stop by.”

“Ah, personal visit, then. I’ll block out an hour,” Becky agreed, waving them on through. “Let me know if you want a coffee or anything.”

Off-the-record visit, more like, Dean thought guiltily.

“Thanks, Becky,” he said.

Sam’s office was far too modern for Dean’s personal taste, but whenever Sam sat behind the wide glass desk he had an air of confidence and power about him that made Dean’s chest do the swelly-pride thing again.

“Hey, Sammy,” he said warmly.

“Really, Dean? At least in the office, can’t you stick to Sam?” A lighthearted scowl passed over Sam’s features as he scooted his chair back to greet them both with brief, suitably Winchester-approved hugs. “Glad you could make it in today—Hey, Cas.”

“Good morning, Sam,” Castiel responded warmly. “We can make time whenever you need. We know we have to get this exactly right.”

Sam nodded. “You definitely do. But as we discussed, I cannot morally or legally represent you in—”

“Yeah, yeah,” Dean waved a hand, lowering himself into one of the stylish and uncomfortable chairs in front of the desk. “We were never here, basically.”

“It’s not funny, Dean, I could be disbarred if—”

“Of course, Sam,” Castiel cut in calmly, as if he could sense the Winchester warships gathering off the port-bow and he just didn’t have time for it. “We fully respect your stance, and appreciate your friendly discussion on the possibilities—nothing more.”

Sam smiled, calm again, and grinned warmly. “Thanks, Cas. At least one of you is taking this seriously.”

“Hey.” Dean frowned, crossing his arms. “This is very serious, okay. I get that. I’m just not a stickler for every letter of the rulebook like you two.”

“Well,” Sam intoned solemnly, “Unfortunately in this case…” He paused, moving to his bookcase on the far wall. He came back holding a hefty book that looked brand new. It even had a pink post-it on the front that said, in Sam’s neat handwriting, “Dean.”

“Unfortunately, in this case,” Sam repeated, slapping the book on the desk in front of Dean, “the rulebook is pretty serious.”

Dean rested his eyes nervously on the intimidating heft of Immigration and Citizenship, Process and Policy – Seventh Edition, by Thomas Alexander Aleinkoff. “What do you suggest?” he asked quietly, suddenly feeling the weight of not just the book, but his own decisions.

“Get reading, to start with,” Sam said. “But for now, we can start going through some of the paperwork you’re going to see.”

Dean looked over at Castiel, who was watching his every breath, it seemed.

“Dean,” Castiel said quietly, reaching out to take his hand. Dean couldn’t take his eyes from Castiel’s fingers, particularly his left hand, where his dad’s old wedding ring glinted—they’d certainly never held hands before. “Dean,” Cas said again, breaking his stare. “You know that if you change your mind, I won’t hold it against you. In any way.”

Dean squeezed Castiel’s fingers, before looking back to his brother.

“Alright, Sam. Let’s get started.”

There were a lot of forms, Dean learned. And frustratingly, a lot of them said the same thing over and over again. Worse, Sam kept reminding them, was that this was the easy part—it was ridiculously easy to lie on paper , he said repeatedly.

The interview would be harder.

Dean and Castiel were a solemn pair by the time they progressed down in the elevator and stepped back out into the cold air. The wind had picked up, and Dean turned up the collar of his old khaki jacket, giving him flashbacks to an awful time back in his very early twenties when he’d popped his collar all the time, just because he thought it was cool. He told Castiel as much, and the Russian laughed at him so fondly that all the tension seemed to blow away into the icy air.

“So, you weren’t always the suave, smooth man you are now, hmm?” Castiel grinned delightedly as they headed to the Impala.

“Everyone has an awkward phase, come on—you must have,” Dean needled Cas, digging in his pocket for his keys as they turned the corner.

“If we’re talking about fashion,” Castiel said thoughtfully, “I believe my whole life has been an awkward phase.”

Dean couldn’t help but laugh, tugging at one of Castiel’s beige coat sleeves. “It’s not bad, man. I mean…it could be better. But it’s a look. I just don’t understand why you gotta hide a body like that under a million layers.”

Castiel raised an eyebrow.

“Oh, come on,” Dean said, his neck warming. “I’ve seen you doing yoga, and you are perfectly well aware of how you look, you ass.”

Castiel grinned, a Russian phrase blowing away in the wind as Baby came into view.

Dean didn’t bother asking him to repeat it—he wouldn’t have understood anyway. Little did Castiel know that Dean would understand him soon enough, though. The Russian might like to tease him by talking in ways Dean didn’t understand, but Duolingo was a thing, and Dean had been working on it daily, in the privacy of his room and the back room of the bakery. One of these days, Castiel was going to get a surprise, Dean thought smugly.

He’d kept his discovery of Castiel’s manuscript entirely to himself, unsure what to make of it, or what to do with the information—but it had certainly spurred him on to practice his Russian and try to see what he could pick up with Castiel knowing.

As a few light, slushy raindrops began to fall, Castiel stepped up toward Dean. For a brief, heart-stopping moment, the part of Dean’s brain that lived in Spanish telenovelas (and more recently, Castiel’s books) thought that Castiel was about to back him up against the Impala door, pin him, and tear him fantastically apart with his mouth.

Instead he stopped, a hair’s breadth away, and his low voice was all that closed the gap. “Thank you for today, Dean. For everything. It…” Castiel trailed off, and for just a moment—a tiny, amazing moment—Dean saw all the pent-up emotion beneath the stoic, cocky exterior. “It means so very much to me, Dean, everything that you are doing.”

Because it felt right, and because it felt natural, and because Dean couldn’t help himself at all, he reached up and embraced Castiel, pulling him in for a tight hug.

Castiel’s spine was stiff, his shoulders awkward, his feet just that fraction too far away—but then he leaned in, and his shoulders slumped, warm and soft. “Thank you,” he whispered again, somewhere into the shoulder of Dean’s coat.

Dean was struggling to come up with the words to tell Castiel exactly what he felt on the subject—that Castiel deserved it, deserved to be free, and safe, and happy, and all the things that America was supposed to stand for. Dean was just a moving piece to get him there. Instead, all he could manage was to pull back enough to catch Castiel’s shining blue eyes.

“No matter what, Cas—even if the very worst happened, okay?—I would never, ever regret this.”

“Promise?” Castiel asked, something breathless and dazed about his voice.

“I promise, Dmitri,” Dean said with a grin.

“You had to spoil it,” Castiel said, laughing.

“Of course I did. Now, we gotta get to the mall before the storm hits—your brother has given me a very explicit and frankly terrifying list of items to pick up from the party store for this weekend.”

“Whose idea was it to put him in charge, again?” Castiel asked wearily, stepping back from Dean and walking around Baby’s front to get to the passenger seat.

“Oh,” Dean answered, ducking inside to start the engine. “It was definitely his own idea. I told him nothing crazy, no strippers, no dancing, nothing excessive.”

“So where are we going?”

“The strip club on 4th.”

“Of course.”

 

 

 

 

x

 

“I can’t believe Gabriel did this,” Sam said, bending down to check his hair in Baby’s wing mirror, much to Dean’s amusement. “It’s irresponsible, really. You two are really going to have to sell this tonight, with all these people around. Citizenship and Immigration Services are going to require personal statements from some of these people, you know, and—”

“Sam,” Dean interrupted. “Relax. It’s fine. Why would anyone ever suspect anything? It doesn’t make sense.”

“That’s because this whole thing doesn’t make sense,” Sam muttered under his breath, before sighing and straightening. “You know I understand your justification for all this, and I support you, but…it’s irresponsible, and reckless, really.”

“Sounds like you’re describing Gabriel, to me,” Dean said, shrugging.

Sam squinted at Dean, his eyes resting on the silk strip running across his chest. “You look ridiculous.”

Dean glanced down at the pink “Groom to be” sash that sat garishly against his best gray shirt. “Yeah…I sure do. You should see Cas, though.”

On cue, Castiel got out of the passenger seat of Sam’s wife’s minivan, followed by a veritable pile of friends and acquaintances pouring from the back seats. He approached them immediately, scowling out from beneath his fuzzy pink headband, which was decorated with two cartoonish penis-shaped boppers.

“Where is my brother?” Castiel questioned with an angry frown, while Sam whooped and died against the Impala door, wiping tears more than once before he managed to respond.

“Inside, Cas. Hiding, probably.”

Castiel let out a long sigh. “Of course.”

“You ready to do this, Cas?” Dean asked, nudging his shoulder and trying desperately not to giggle at the way it made his plastic peens wiggle back and forth.

“As ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose,” Castiel said grumpily. “I don’t object to the celebration of our marriage; it’s traditional, and as such, I’ll get drunk and be appropriately obscene. But is the humiliation necessary?”

Dean studied the headband carefully, reaching forward to remove a tiny stray feather from Castiel’s hair, the fluorescent pink incredibly jarring against his dark brown strands. He schooled his face into a serious, considering expression, watching the tacky cocks wobble above Castiel’s face. “Unfortunately, future husband of mine, I believe it most definitely is.”

Castiel fixed him with a particularly acidic stare, until Dean reached across and deliberately pinged the plastic dick on the left. Their gaze held for a moment longer, until the corner of Castiel’s lip began to curl, and Dean had to bite his lip not to giggle.

“You look fucking ridiculous, Cas,” he whispered, desperately trying to control his voice.

“You look like you’re in a beauty pageant,” Castiel countered, looping one finger under Dean’s silk sash and using it to tug him closer.

The urge to giggle built desperately between them, reaching breaking point as Castiel’s trashy headgear lolled forward, causing the additional appendages to bounce wildly in the space between them as the band hit his nose.

Castiel’s fucking laugh would be what put Dean in his grave, and he had no shame about it by that point. It was so deep and rumbling, he wanted to press nearer just so he could experience the sound from closer. Castiel’s smile—white teeth and gums and just a peek of tongue behind his teeth—was the most fascinating thing Dean had ever seen.

Tears blurred Dean’s eyes as he laughed along with Castiel, and they leaned on each other, simultaneously embracing the craziness of their situation.

“God, you two are so cute you make my teeth hurt,” Charlie’s voice sounded from right there , and Dean just about yelled in shock.

“Jesus! What the hell? You almost gave me a heart attack!”

The redhead rolled her eyes, giving Castiel a welcoming smack on the arm. “If you weren’t so wrapped up in each other, maybe you’d have heard me coming, Now come on, lovebirds. We’ve got novelty cocktails to chug and inappropriate body shots to take.”

Castiel’s nose wrinkled.

“Don’t worry, Dmitri,” Dean said with a wink. “Pure vodka for you. Wouldn’t want to lose your connection to the motherland.”

The look Castiel gave Dean was so withering it started him laughing all over again, causing Charlie to shake her head fondly at them both.

For a moment, something inside Dean froze; he hadn’t told Charlie the truth about Castiel, yet. In fact, neither Dean nor Castiel had brought it up again at all after their successful fake double-date with Charlie and Gilda. He knew he’d have to deal with it at some point, but selfishly he wanted to avoid it as long as he could. Charlie was like a bloodhound, though, so if she suspected for even a moment that something wasn’t kosher with him and Castiel, he’d never hear the end of it.

Luckily, for the time being, she appeared utterly convinced.

Charlie led them across the parking lot, moving between them and slipping an arm into each of their elbows. “Come on, dudes! There are beers and titties ahead!”

Dean sighed and allowed himself to be guided through the door of the club. This really wasn’t his scene at all, but if it made Charlie and Gabriel happy, he’d suck it up for a few hours.

The party that Gabriel had gathered together was sizable—Sam and Jess, Charlie and Gilda, Gabriel’s wife Kali and best friend Balthazar, who Dean had known almost as long as he’d known Gabe. Several of Dean’s acquaintances from other local businesses downtown, his colleagues from Bobby’s auto shop, Benny and Garth, and Jo from the Roadhouse. Ellen and Bobby had bowed out on account of work (and, Dean suspected, age), and Sam’s business partner Brady had sent his regards, but he was too busy.

The strangest attendees, for both Dean and Castiel, were Castiel’s half-brothers. While Gabriel was the one who had constructed the ruse to bring Castiel to the US, his other brothers, Michael and Luke, were not in on it at all. Luckily, they lived far away from Lawrence, having high-flying careers up in Detroit, and they barely deigned to acknowledge Gabriel—never mind the other half of the Novak family—most of the time. For whatever reason, they had both decided to attend, though by the time the party reached the club door they both already looked bored.

All-in-all though, Dean was pleased that so many people gave enough of a shit about his upcoming nuptials to attend—though he was under no illusions as to their motives, and was well aware that most of them just wanted to get their eyes on his mysterious fiancé. Lawrence was a small town; everyone knew everyone, it sometimes seemed.

Dean turned his attention to Castiel as they descended into the club proper, having had their IDs checked and waited for many of the group to check their coats. “Let’s go, I guess,” he said, extending a hand out toward Castiel and wiggling his fingers.

It felt nice to have Castiel link his fingers between his, even if it was just for show.

In the dim, rainbow, pulsating light, there was a huge open space flanked by booths, with a stage at one end that projected out through the middle of the dancefloor and stopped at a circular bar in the center. It was already full of people, buzzing with dancing patrons and scantily clad workers of varying sexes who attended to the customers’ needs.

Dean leaned over, pulling Castiel close so that he could reach his ear and be heard over the noise. “Do you want to get a drink first?”

Castiel looked around somewhat grumpily, before turning his lips to Dean’s ear in turn. “Several.”

Dean quickly obtained himself a beer on the tab that Sam and Gabriel had set up, and briefly left Castiel at the bar while he went to mingle with the other members of the party and say hello. Castiel was busy arguing with the poor bartender about the vodka they carried—Dean had quickly learned that Castiel referred to the kinds most often sold in Lawrence as ‘medicine for baby teeth’ and often sent employees digging around on the top shelf to see if there was something—anything—else. Dean smirked and left him to it.

He greeted his family and old coworkers, and moved over to an empty booth close to the bar. Castiel reappeared after a moment, triumphant, somehow having managed to secure half a bottle.

“Zubrovka!” he announced contentedly.

“Is that Russian?” Dean asked, squinting at the bottle fearfully. It appeared to have something floating in it.

“No, no. It’s Polish. But it’s a hell of a lot better than anything else they serve here—it’s bison grass vodka.”

Dean eyed the bottle and nodded slowly. “Right…well, enjoy. I have Margiekugels,” he said, holding up his gently sweating beer bottle.

“If I need something to rinse my toothbrush with at the end of the night, I’ll come and ask you,” Castiel said with a tiny smirk.

Dean nudged him with his shoulder, laughing. “Don’t be a dick, it’s not that bad. Here you go.” He pushed the bottle across the table. “Give it a try.”

Begrudgingly, Castiel wrapped his hand around the bottle and dragged it toward himself. “Alright, alright,” he agreed.

Dean watched helplessly as Castiel raised the beer from the table, wrapping his lips around it and tipping his head back, sampling a few sizable gulps. The plastic cocks nestled in his hair swung back hilariously, but Dean wasn’t paying attention to them. Instead he watched Castiel’s neck flex, his tanned skin scattered with stubble beneath his chin. Castiel put the bottle down, his tongue darting out to catch the moisture on his lips. Dean realized too late that he was staring, and Castiel had definitely already caught him by the time he tore his gaze back to the safety of the tabletop.

“So, uh, how was it,” Dean asked, clearing his throat awkwardly.

“I’ve had worse,” Castiel admitted. “Now—your turn.”

“Wait, what?” Dean turned back to Castiel, wide eyed. “Oh, no, man—I don’t usually—”

Castiel smirked lightly, sloshing way more than a single shot of the worryingly clear liquid into the empty tumbler he’d brought from the bar. “Fair is fair, Dean. You wanted me to try.”

Recognizing his mistake far too late, Dean sighed. “Fine. But if I end up hurling in the back of our Uber, you’re paying the bill.”

Castiel rolled his eyes, handing Dean the glass so that their fingers brushed. “Maybe you’ll like it,” he said nonchalantly.

Dean took the vodka down as quickly as he could, giving only a small cough when he was done. “Okay,” he admitted. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought. It’s almost, like…watery, compared to what I expected.”

A smug smile landed on Castiel’s face. “ Da. This isn’t perfect, it’s some kind of cheap export, but it’s the best I’ve had here yet. The good vodka I used to buy tasted like water.”

“Isn’t that a bad thing?” Dean’s brow creased, genuinely curious.

“Not at all. Good Russian vodka tastes like water—if it’s smooth and pure, it should have no taste. What you feel on your tongue isn’t flavor, it’s texture.”

“Huh.” Dean grinned. “So, you’re saying that the stuff I drank in college that tasted vaguely of gasoline was probably not the best.”

Castiel shuddered. “Sacrilege.”

They traded back and forth, Dean heading back to the bar to fetch a selection of his favorite whiskeys and Castiel obtaining two shots of the house vodka so that Dean could appreciate the difference. They were enjoying themselves, relaxed and easy, when Benny and Garth sauntered over to their booth.

“Hey, brother,” Benny drawled, reaching across to slap Dean on the shoulder with a hearty wink. “Too wrapped up in your husband to come hang out with the rest of us? He’s supposed to get you after the wedding, right?”

Benny’s hand lingered, and Dean felt Castiel stiffen almost imperceptibly at his side.

“And you are?” Castiel asked, his voice cool as he extended his hand across the table.

“Benny Lafitte. Shame that Dean hasn’t mentioned me, really. This is Garth.”

The much smaller, gangly man beside Benny’s cheerful bulk gave a little wave. “Castiel, right? We worked with Dean at Bobby’s before he started the bakery. Well, I did—Benny and Dean were closer, but that’s long past, right?”

Dean stared at Garth, flatly. “Yes, thank you Garth. Benny and I used to date, but that was a very long time ago.”

Castiel gave a small shrug and opened his mouth, but his response was lost under Benny’s rumble.

“Now, now, cher…you were the one who always insisted that we didn’t call what we did dating.”

“Well, whatever it was,” Castiel said, his voice icier than Dean had ever heard it, “it seems irrelevant now, doesn’t it? As I’m sitting here now, and you are not.”

Benny and Castiel looked at each other, and boy was that a meeting of Big Dick Energy that Dean had never hoped to see.

“Uh.” Dean looked straight over the top of their stare to Garth. “Anyway. How’s Bess doing, Garth?”

Garth blinked at Dean dumbly, as if the reason for the sudden change of subject had gone completely over his head. “Oh, uh—she’s good. Home with the baby, of course.”

Dean turned to Castiel, grinning widely and hoping to distract him. “Garth’s little one is the cutest thing ever. She’s only—what, five months now, Garth?”

Garth nodded. “And bitey. Very bitey.”

Castiel chuckled, and Dean could feel his shoulders lower just a fraction next to his side. “Babies often are. When I was very small, I bit my brother Alfie hard enough that he still has a scar. I only had two teeth at the time.”

Garth and Dean laughed, while Benny leaned his elbows onto the table and gestured between Dean and Castiel.

“What about you two? Plans for any kids? Dean always wanted them, I remember that much.”

Castiel’s arm came up, wrapping around Dean’s shoulders and tugging him possessively into his side, though his face was calm. He looked across at Dean, and for a split-second Dean panicked, wondering how they were going to handle questions like that all night—but Castiel was nonplussed, his smile soft and easy as he winked at Benny.

“Certainly, but I’m going to enjoy having him all to myself for a while first.”

Seemingly satisfied, Benny relaxed into a grin. “Can’t blame ya. Alright, Garth—there are some very hot ladies on that dancefloor. You coming?”

With flustered, reluctant agreement from Garth, the two headed off, and Dean turned back to Castiel, who had yet to release him from his side. “Sorry about Benny. He’s like that, but he means well.”

Castiel’s arm dropped slowly, Dean missing it before it was even fully withdrawn. “Apologies. I hope I didn’t—”

“Nah,” Dean cut in straight away. “Like Sam said earlier, we’ve really gotta sell this tonight. So—wanna dance with me?”

Castiel recoiled. “Oh, no, no thank you. I don’t have anything resembling rhythm.”

Dean grinned, reaching out to tug at his arm. “It’s a club, not a prom. No one gives a shit if you have rhythm, as long as you don’t spill their drink. Come on, I gotcha.”

Castiel grumbled and downed the rest of his glass of vodka but didn’t put up much of a fight.

 

x

 

Fresh air hit Dean in the face, causing him to momentarily stop and inhale deeply. “Oh, that’s better,” he gasped, letting the sharp chill of the November air fill his lungs. The low breeze formed goosebumps across the flesh on his bare forearms but felt wonderful on the rest of him, sweaty and overheated after an hour on the dancefloor.

He had perhaps allowed Castiel’s vodka to get to him a little too much, but he was still drunk enough not to care, pleasantly buzzed and feeling the warmth in his own cheeks. Dancing with Castiel had been some kind of fantasy he would chalk up as torture in the morning, no doubt, but at the time he’d been powerless to it, the opportunity to pull him close, bumping hips and grinding to the throb of the music just too tempting to resist. Castiel had seemed into it, to be fair, his hands gliding possessively over Dean’s back and thighs, selling their relationship to everyone around without question.

Dean could practically still feel the weight of Castiel’s palms on his hips, and he stood in the doorway, busy memorizing every touch.

“Come on, Dean, move,” Castiel grumbled from behind him. “Are we going to your car or not?”

Dean stepped forward quickly, nodding. “Yeah, let’s go. Too much noise and too many people, for me. Short doses only.”

Castiel seemed to agree, moving along with Dean as they headed the short distance to the parking lot. They stopped at a street vendor, Dean obtaining two skinny cheeseburgers from the questionable orange van before they turned into the parking lot. Once they reached the Impala, Dean passed the food to Castiel. He gave Baby’s hood an affectionate slap as he climbed up it, careful where he put his feet as he made his way up to her roof. Perching with his feet dangling down, he reached to take the burgers back and offer Castiel a hand up.

“Oh—wait,” Castiel said, pausing before he began to climb. He went for his belt, and Dean blinked, about to say something, when Castiel produced two capped beer bottles from under his shirt.

“You—” Dean snorted, shaking his head. “How did you even manage to get them to give you bottles with the caps still on?” he asked, reaching down to take them.

“Oh, easy,” Castiel said, grinning as he began to climb up. “I tip well.”

Dean snorted again. “Sure, like those big blue eyes don’t get you everything you want.”

Castiel gave a low, filthy chuckle as he positioned himself next to Dean, and reached to claim his burger. “You say that like you’re so innocent, as if you don’t flutter those pretty eyelashes at every opportunity.”

Dean glared reproachfully as he picked up a beer bottle, beginning to pat his pockets and search for his keys. They wouldn’t be driving home, they’d come back and pick up the car in the morning, but he still carried his precious keys everywhere.

“Give it here,” Castiel said, reaching out and grabbing the bottle by the neck. Stretching out his fingers, his tongue poking out adorably, Castiel wiggled his hand, using his ring—Dean’s Dad’s ring—to prize off the cap.

“Hey now,” Dean joked. “Don’t you damage that ring, or I might start thinking you’re not serious about this marriage.”

Castiel threw Dean an amused look as he reached across him, grabbing his own beer and uncapping it in turn. They arranged themselves on Baby’s roof comfortably, beer and burgers in hand, taking in the stars. The burgers didn’t last long, both men wolfing them down quickly before leaning back on their hands, gazing up at the sky and stretching out their legs.

“Is that a shooting star or an airplane?” Dean asked, squinting slightly fuzzily at the inky night above.

“Uh…where?” Cas asked, frowning upwards.

“There!” Dean reached across, tugging Castiel toward him and leaning in, trying to guide Castiel to where his finger was pointing. “Oh—it’s gone.”

“Probably a shooting star then, if it disappeared that quickly,” Castiel said, still squinting. “Airplanes tend not to poof into thin air—thank goodness.”

“Still wouldn’t get me on one,” Dean grumbled.

“Really?” Castiel tilted his head, turning just the fraction it took him to look at Dean. “Afraid of flying?”

Dean opened his mouth to respond, confirming that, of all the things in the world, airplanes scared him shitless—but Castiel was right there , his face so close that Dean choked and his words dried up on his tongue. His face flushed from drinking, his endless blue eyes glinting darkly in the moonlight, his hair sticking up from their exuberant dancing…somehow Castiel was more beautiful than ever, and Dean could only stare.

For his part, Castiel stared back. Neither moved, close enough to share breaths. If Dean tilted his head just a fraction, their noses would brush.

The look held, and Dean sucked in a slow breath, his heart beating in his ears.

“Make a wish, Dean,” Castiel said, his deep voice and husky accent rolling around the words.

“What?” Dean managed to force out, immobile, one of his hands asleep as he leaned into Castiel’s space.

“Make a wish…it was a shooting star,” Castiel explained, something oddly breathless about his words that Dean couldn’t compute.

Dean moistened his lips, and he could have sworn that Castiel did too—but he never found out, as with a shrill shriek, Charlie and Gabriel barreled into the parking lot.

“I found them! I found them!”

“No, I found them, you big nerd—”

“No, you did not, I was the one that said—”

Breath catching sharply, Dean and Castiel pulled apart. They slipped quickly down from Baby’s roof and were swiftly hustled into Jess’s minivan to be driven to their next destination.

Chapter Text

 

Lawrence City Hall was a large, brown brick building. It was several stories high and had some weird swoopy modern art out outside that Dean didn’t really get, but he figured maybe he wasn’t supposed to. There was a small lawn and some neat bushes, plus some huge, basic gray lettering on the frontage announcing, “City Hall”, just in case the sign on the grass, the sign on the door, and the sign as cars pulled off I-40 wasn’t enough to be sure. Dean regarded it all with some trepidation, smoothing out his rented suit as he leaned back against Baby with Castiel, waiting for Sam to arrive.

“Nervous?” Castiel asked him, pulling awkwardly at his tie.

Dean signaled for Castiel to step closer, so that he could deal with the tie. “Oddly, yeah. There’s no way anything should go wrong, but for some reason I feel like a SWAT team is about to burst out of the bushes and drag you back to Russia, all beaten and bloody.”

Castiel’s head jerked, alarmed. “I meant about standing up there in front of your friends and family and marrying me, bouquet and all, but okay.”

Dean chuckled as he turned Castiel’s tie over and neatened it up. They were in matching navy suits and blush silk shirts, and Dean had to admit they both looked damn good. “I’m not worried about that part so much as—wait, we have a bouquet?”

Castiel raised an eyebrow, and pointed down the sidewalk to where Sam, Jess, Gabriel, and Kali were approaching, all dressed to match in navy and dusky pink and carrying flowers.

“When did this turn into an event and I didn’t notice?” Dean scowled.

“The moment you left Gabriel and Jess in charge, I imagine.”

“Right,” Dean said faintly.

A honking car horn up the street announced the arrival of Charlie and Gilda—who both wore knee-length dresses in the same pink that Jess was sporting, to Dean’s genuine surprise.

“I thought you were wearing an emerald pantsuit,” he said as Charlie approached, blinking dumbly.

“Jess and Gabe had other plans. But I have it with me to change into for the reception, believe me.” Charlie quickly enveloped Dean in a hug, before turning to Castiel for the same.

“She’s changing for the reception,” Dean said to Castiel, feeling a little dazed.

“Yes, Dean, she’s changing for the reception,” Castiel said over Charlie’s shoulder, for some reason highly amused.

Dean let out a long sigh. “Anything else I need to know about?”

As the group all met on the sidewalk, Castiel tilted his head to his brother. “Anything else we should know about, Gabe?”

“The balloons at the hotel for the party deflated a little since I set them up this morning, but I handled it.” Gabriel replied smoothly.

Dean’s heart was beating erratically. “Oh,” he said. “That’s good.”

They began to move into City Hall, and Dean fell into step beside Castiel. There was a chance, he realized, that he’d been avoiding thinking about this part. It was just paper, he told himself. Castiel’s safety and residence here was worth the sixty-dollar license they’d picked up three days before while Dean took a lunch break from the bakery, at the very least. It wasn’t a big deal. He could understand the extra trappings that Gabriel, Jess, and to some extent Sam, seemed to have arranged—though he wished he’d thought to ask a bit more about them before that moment—as he knew that they had to make it seem completely real. They’d need real photographs, real stories to share. He’d failed to take into account that they’d also make it feel very real.

A nudge to his arm pulled Dean from his reverie. Castiel slipped his hand into Dean’s and gave him a small smile.

“So, you are nervous,” Castiel said quietly between the two of them, revising his original question.

“It’s not—I just—” Dean fumbled.

Castiel squeezed his hand. “Backing out?”

Dean shook his head. “Course not.”

“Then let’s do this.”

The first part was a blur. They stood in front of a smudgy safety-glass window, holding hands with fixed, polite smiles on their faces, and repeated the words that the registrar gave them. Sam produced the rings from the breast pocket of his suit—they’d stuck with just using Dean’s dad’s for Castiel, and they’d purchased a simple white-gold band at the jewelers in the mall, for Dean. Dean pushed the ring slowly up Castiel’s finger, holding it there and repeating the vows, steady and calm. He then extended his hand for Castiel to do the same. Their eyes met for a moment, and there was something there that Dean couldn’t quite put his finger on—but then the registrar was speaking again.

“And now, by the power vested in me by the State of Kansas, I pronounce you married. You may now kiss.”

Dean froze for a moment—a split second that he prayed now one saw, which betrayed the fact that he hadn’t thought about this part… not even once.

Luckily, Castiel saved them. He came forward quickly, pressing their lips together chastely for a beat of a couple of seconds, before pulling back and dropping his eyes swiftly down to their joined hands.

It was barely a kiss, purely perfunctory, enough to move them along. Something inside Dean mourned that fact, but he had no time to dwell on it, the officiant speaking once more.

“Can the two witnesses step forward, so we can sign the marriage certificate?”

Dean shifted so that Sam and Gabriel could approach the window, and turned his eyes back to see Charlie, Gilda, and Jess standing off to the side, holding flowers and smiling excitedly. Jess caught his eye, but he couldn’t read her expression.

Some damp ink and excited hugs later, and Dean was on the sidewalk.

Castiel hadn’t spoken a word beyond their vows since they’d entered the room, and Dean wasn’t sure where to start. Luckily for him, Gabriel was always comfortable speaking more than enough for everyone.

“Congratulations, guys!” he said, reaching over to squeeze them both into a group hug. “Now the real fun can begin!”

Dean gave Gabriel an amused smile. “Alright. Tell me what we’re doing. I know you can’t resist party planning. I don’t know why I thought this could pass without any fanfare.”

They were already moving back toward their cars as Gabriel threw a wide grin back at Dean. “Reception at the Eldridge Hotel, of course. I rented out the restaurant, and me and Balth spent two hours before breakfast setting up a nineteen-twenties speakeasy, so we can play card games and dance the night away.”

Dean blinked and looked over at Castiel to find him doing the same, gazing in surprise at his brother.

“Gabe,” Dean said, slightly awed. “That sounds…well, awesome. And like a lot of work. And a lot of money.”

Gabriel waved a hand as he stopped outside his cherry red convertible, grinning maliciously. “Oh, don’t worry about me, Dean-o. I put it on your Mastercard.”

He slipped inside the car and slammed the door before Dean could gather his wits to respond, leaving him gawping on the street.

Castiel’s hand came to rest on Dean’s shoulder, pulling his attention back. “Don’t worry, Dean. If Gabriel is an assbutt and doesn’t pay you back, remember that I’m Russian. I know a guy.”

Dean snorted as they headed for Baby. “That stereotype cannot be true. You can’t all know mafia types.”

“Oh no,” Castiel said with a smug little grin, tucking himself into the passenger seat. “I don’t need to kill him. It’s worse than that…I can call his mom.”

 

x

 

The Eldridge hotel was one of the nicest spaces that Lawrence had to offer—Gabriel had spared no expense (or none of Dean’s expense) to pull the reception off. He must really want it to be convincing , Dean thought. That made sense. He parked Baby around the back, in a space marked with a paper sign and jaunty balloons that declared, “Groom and Groom!”

Castiel sat in the passenger seat, unmoving, and Dean wondered if perhaps he was nervous—about to walk into a room that, it seemed, was likely to contain pretty much everyone that Dean knew, not to mention members of Gabriel’s family that Castiel hadn’t seen since he was a teen. But then he saw the way Castiel gazed around, cataloging and recording every brick, every face, the angle of the sun, the way the “Just Married!” foil balloon bobbed in the breeze. He was taking it all in, and the look—and the fact that Dean recognized it by now—gave Dean a slightly fond warmth in his chest.

“So,” he leaned over conspiratorially, dropping his voice as he sent it into Castiel’s space as if he was sharing a secret, “which book is this going to end up in—a new one? Or your second draft you’re working on now?”

Instantly there was a tinge of blush at Castiel’s ears, but it passed as he huffed out a tiny, guilty laugh. His eyes stayed on Dean for a moment longer, roving quietly around his face with the same intensity he’d given to the building. He moistened his lips before giving a quiet response. “I don’t know yet, not for sure. But I hope to know soon which direction I should take.”

Dean grinned. “Well, keep working hard, Dmitri. You’ve got rent to pay,” he reminded him with a teasing wink.

Castiel rolled his eyes with the weariness of someone twice his age, and Dean couldn’t help but laugh as he opened Baby’s door. He stood up and smoothed out his navy suit—which he thought he looked rather dashing in, truth be told—and moved around to Castiel’s side of the car to open his door. He bowed, offering out his hand.

“The party awaits, dear husband,” he said, grinning coyly.

Castiel allowed him his silliness, slipping his hand into Dean’s as he stood from the car, only releasing it to close the door. When he turned back to him, his smile was considering, his head tilted. “Moy muzh,” he said thoughtfully, as if he was practicing the phrase. “My husband, in Russian.”

Dean already knew that one, at least, from his hours of secret Duolingo binging behind the door of his bedroom, so his pronunciation was probably better than Castiel expected when he looked back at him, smiling and holding his gaze as he repeated it. “Moy muzh, Castiel.”

Castiel’s eyes widened and he visibly froze, something odd in his expression as he stared back at Dean. He caught himself after just a split second, though, giving a little laugh. “Yes, that was good. Very good, Dean.”

Offering his hand once more, Dean was slightly smug as he turned them toward the hotel. He’d been practicing his Russian often, hoping to surprise Castiel with it at an opportune moment. Right then, he decided to keep that to himself, and pretend that he’d just parroted the phrase.

“Well,” Dean said diplomatically, “that one wasn’t too hard to copy. Most of the other stuff you say could be some other language as far as I know; I wouldn’t have a clue.” But not for long, he added silently to himself.

They were swept inside by whoops and cheers, twinkling lights and canapes. Gabriel really had gone all out—and roped in Jess, too, by the looks of it. Dean gave them each reproachful looks, wondering what they were playing at. They knew this wasn’t real—it’s not like I.C.E. were going to attend the wedding. All they needed was enough for a few photos, not…this.

The Eldridge Hotel was a stately, historic hotel in downtown Lawrence with high, fancy ceilings and old chandeliers. Much of the furniture had been cleared from the space that Gabriel had rented, leaving a wide-open dance floor area with card tables around the edges of the room where people could eat from the buffet and play games. There was a small stage at one end where a local DJ was already setting up, and the whole room had been decorated in a deep navy to match their wedding attire, which even Dean had to admit, was actually pretty classy-looking.

“Alright, guys,” Gabriel whispered, appearing suddenly at Dean’s side as they entered the room. “I vetoed the sit-down meal and went for the buffet, so it’s perfectly feasible for you to skip all the toasting and speeches and stuff. If you can suffer through a first dance and a bit of PDA with my dumb little brother, I think you’re home free today.”

Sam’s voice joined in, a small war-conference of those “in-the-know” suddenly occurring near the door. “Your dumb little brother?” he questioned with a smirk. “You do realize that every woman or man who is the slightest bit into dudes, and half the ones who aren’t, are trying to work out where the hell Dean got him and how they can get one, right? If Jess was into threesomes, even I’d be down.”

The horrified look across Gabriel’s face managed to shut him up for all of five seconds, which given the smirk passing over Sam’s lips, had probably been the point.

Castiel merely made a grumpy spluttering noise, though his eyes did skim up and down Sam for a long moment, much to Dean’s amusement.

“Thank you for considering the speeches, Gabriel,” Castiel said calmly. “That would have been awkward. This is a much better idea.”

Gabriel preened. “Of course it is, I came up with it.”

Dean rolled his eyes and reached up to straighten his tie. “Alright, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go publicly mack on my husband and dodge half of my family for a few hours. After that, you’ll find me neck deep in the buffet.”

Castiel slipped his arm around Dean’s back, shaking his head slowly. “I already eyed the buffet table, lapochka. There’s at least three types of pie, so I am prepared to roll you home.”

“See,” Dean gloated as they made their way toward the dancefloor, shifting so that his hand was in Castiel’s. “I knew I married you for a reason, Dmitri.”

Looking over at Dean fondly, Castiel give one of his low, deep chuckles. They were still rare, and Dean didn’t note the stoic Russian giving them to many people; so each one that Dean managed to pull out of him he treasured, keeping them somewhere deep in his chest that he deliberately didn’t think too much about.

“Are you going to be alright with this, Dean?” Castiel asked quietly as they made their way through the room, nodding and smiling to all the friends and family members that had packed the room. “The dancing, the pretending—there’s quite a few people here, and—”

Dean squeezed Castiel’s fingers and leaned over, turning his face inward to whisper, “I said I would tell you the truth, didn’t I? If I needed to stop this? I promised you.”

It was the first time that they’d spoken of, or even acknowledged, the intense moment that they’d shared in the doorway of their home weeks before, after eating at the Roadhouse. The moment where Castiel had subtly claimed some kind of authority over Dean, and Dean had let him, so much more than willingly. It hadn’t come up at all; Dean had made sure that it hadn’t, between them both being busy and keeping their conversations light and determinedly elsewhere.

Castiel hadn’t pushed, or repeated it, or even mentioned it either.

Big blue eyes searched Dean’s face slowly as they came to a halt in the middle of the dancefloor, still holding hands. Castiel nodded slightly, not breaking their shared gaze. “You did promise me the truth,” he said quietly. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t worry, more for you than myself, if I’m honest.”

Dean had a response on the tip of his tongue, but the mullet-sporting DJ up on the stage was ready, and he steamrolled through the moment rather spectacularly.

“Dudes, dudettes, and everyone in between—our pair of sexy grooms has made it to the dance floor! Can we get a big round of applause for Dean and Castiel!”

They both froze, still stood close together and mid-whisper. Dean supposed that at least their pose would look intimate, and likely help sell what they were trying to peddle. Reaching across to slide his arm behind Castiel, tugging him into his side, Dean raised his other hand into a small wave. Beside him, Castiel mirrored his movement and smiled confidently out at all the family and friends assembled around the room. Dean could feel himself flushing. Castiel squeezed his hip gently beneath his suit jacket.

“Just smile, moj mal’chik, ” he instructed in a low rumble, his lips close to Dean’s ear.

The warmth of Castiel’s breath on his skin caused a zing to flash up Dean’s spine, but he managed to grin at the assembled party-goers, looking—he hoped—like a proud, if overwhelmed, groom.

The DJ was still talking, introducing their first dance as a married couple, but Dean’s focus had shrunk down so it could encompass nothing more than Castiel, pressed warmly up to his side. People were clapping, confetti had appeared from somewhere—Dean hoped that Gabriel didn’t think he was sweeping that up—and there were wolf-whistles and enthusiastic, happy shouts all around.

Gotta sell it, Dean supposed, justifying his actions in the increasingly flimsy way he seemed to have fallen into of late.

Turning slightly, he allowed his eyes to fall back to Castiel’s face, leaving them resting there with a soft smile. Castiel tilted his head the merest fraction; a subtle question, but Dean ignored it, bringing his hand up to cup Castiel’s jaw instead. His stubble was sandpapery under Dean’s thumb, and he took a moment to catalog the drag of it across his skin, stroking his way up Castiel’s jawbone slowly. As if on instinct, Castiel leaned his face into Dean’s palm, though his eyes still held a little confusion. As if they’d been doing it for months, Dean leaned in, letting his eyes drift closed as he guided their lips together. Castiel’s lips were dry, but large and pillowy in a way that made them feel soft beneath his own, just as Dean had always dreamed of them being. Dean kept the kiss simple, but long and gently exploratory. He felt Castiel exhale shakily against his lips in surprise; but he moved, responded, played his part, his hand sliding to the back of Dean’s neck, tilting him into it and softly controlling the angle of Dean’s head.

The well-wishers whoop ed and made aww-ing noises, but Dean could barely hear them over the blood thundering in his ears. Castiel felt like heaven, pressed against Dean, and for just a moment, Dean let himself get lost in it. His chest warmed, his spine tingled. For just that moment, Dean let it feel true.

But it had to end; it wasn’t real.

There, he thought, almost smug as he caught the breathless, dazed look on Castiel’s face when he withdrew. That’s what a first kiss should have been like; not like that perfunctory thing at the courthouse.

Castiel blinked, once, twice, his tongue darting out to moisten his lips as he pulled back. There was a heat behind Castiel’s eyes that Dean only caught because he was so close, and he couldn’t help but hope—real or not—that the kiss had been as amazing for Castiel as it had been for him.

“Get a room!” Benny hollered from the crowd, and the moment was broken.

Immediately, regret flooded Dean. What if Castiel wasn’t comfortable? What if he didn’t want to kiss Dean, even for show? Dean felt his heart rate elevate, his breathing sharper. He should have asked, they should have talked about—

“Hey,” Castiel said softly, pulling Dean close to his front, in a show of positioning themselves to dance. He slid his hand onto Dean’s waist, the other taking Dean’s hand and holding it. He placed their clasped hands onto Dean’s chest, and using two fingers, gently tapped out a calm breathing rhythm. “It’s okay,” he murmured, close enough for just them. “Breathe.”

Dean breathed.

Castiel’s fingers squeezed his, tighter, then looser, nudging Dean through his tense moment without question, just as he’d done weeks before when Dean had been working on Baby.

Son of a bitch, Dean thought helplessly. You’re not helping matters by being so fucking perfect here, dude. Smiling to Castiel gratefully, Dean pushed away his errant thoughts. They weren’t helping anything.

“Thanks,” he said quietly. “Sorry about…well, all that.”

Castiel didn’t say anything in response, merely shrugging one shoulder and giving Dean a small smile. Up on the small stage, the DJ started the music and gave them a thumbs up.

The strains of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters began drifting through the room, and Dean drew in a light gasp. If he’d had a real wedding, if there were a real first dance, if he’d picked the song himself…that would have been it.

Over Castiel’s shoulder, Dean caught Sam’s eye; his expression was carefully neutral, but Dean didn’t quite buy it. Swaying together, with Castiel held close to Dean’s front, he could hear Castiel begin to hum along.

Slowly, Dean relaxed. His arms were warm around Castiel as they slow-danced together, perfectly appropriate for what they were meant to be, and Dean’s shoulders dropped and untensed. As they did, Castiel offered him a one of those tiny, precious smiles, and leaned in, resting the side of his face against Dean’s shoulder. He spoke not to Dean’s eyes, but tucked into the side of his neck, quiet and intimate and cozy.

“You know, I’ve asked many times if you are okay with this…I’ve thanked you, too, but I don’t know if I ever really expressed how much what you’ve done means to me, Dean,” he said. “The brief mentions I’ve made...they don’t begin to cover it.”

Dean turned his head, unable to help himself, smiling down into Castiel’s mint-scented hair. “I never doubted your gratitude, dude. And honestly, I got one of the best friends I’ve ever made out of the deal. It’s not so bad,” he confessed, teasing softly despite the way the words felt wrong on his tongue.

Castiel’s nose rubbed against Dean’s neck as they moved in time to the music. “I just want to make sure you know, that’s all. You changed my life for the better with your decision,” he said, his voice solemn, despite Dean’s teasing.

For another minute, as the melodic guitars of the rock ballad played on in the background, they simply danced, waltz-like, but close. More people moved onto the dance floor, less attention just on them, and Dean found himself relaxing a little more.

“Was it so bad for you there?” Dean asked after a moment, unable to hold back from enquiring, even if he still figured that it was really none of his business.

“Sometimes,” Castiel asked simply. “Some people don’t care, some people do, much like here. But there…the consequences are different. The police in Novosibirsk had already fined me three times. They wouldn’t have let it go on much longer. The people who supported them, though, they were worse. I would have had to give up my writing, I feared, eventually.”

“What changed? What prompted you to suddenly decide to try coming here?” Dean asked curiously.

Castiel hesitated. Dean could feel him tense up against his shoulder, but he spoke after only a moment nonetheless, his words breathed quietly into Dean’s neck. “There was a website, run by a hate group in Moscow. They portrayed it as a game… to attack us. LGBT people. To hunt us. There were… prizes.”

Dean’s breath caught in his throat, audibly.

“Authorities took it down a time or two, of course,” Castiel noted, not giving Dean time to say anything. “Technically speaking, they still must honor our life and liberty, like everyone else. But the removals were slow. People were killed, only rarely were arrests made.”

Dean moistened his lips, unable to help holding Castiel a little closer, the music forgotten. “And they…”

There was a small nod against Dean’s shoulder. “Yes. My brother Alfie found me there. They had my name, my pen name, my address…everything.”

“Jesus.” Dean breathed out slowly, shaking his head against the side of Castiel’s. “That’s some crazy shit, like from those Saw movies.”

“Definitely more realistic than those movies, I can assure you,” Castiel said dryly as the music faded. “But it’s okay, Dean,” he continued, ducking his head as he straightened up, so that he could catch Dean’s downturned eyes. “I’m here, and I’m okay. Thanks to you. So, let’s just dance and eat and enjoy our brothers’ efforts, for today.”

“Yeah,” Dean agreed, nodding. “Yeah, of course.”

As Castiel moved to step back, Dean couldn’t help but reach out once more, pulling Castiel into a rough hug. “Sorry for the downer, dude. I just…I’m real glad you’re here, okay?”

Dean felt Castiel’s smile against his face as he hugged back tightly. “Me too, moyo solnyshko, me too.”

They lingered on the dance floor for a moment more, clinging close. Not for a cover, not for show, just for them.

Chapter Text

It was really hard to tell when Castiel was drunk, Dean had discovered. First of all, it took him practically an entire liquor store to get there—the dude could drink Dean under the table, and Dean was an accomplished drinker. Secondly, he really didn’t seem that much different after he’d reached the bottom of a bottle of vodka than he did beforehand. Even after their joint bachelor party when Gabriel had dragged them all over town to increasingly ridiculous bars and clubs, Castiel had simply ended up falling asleep on the couch with his plastic peen headband still firmly in place. 

But that night, after their quiet words on the dance floor, Castiel had really let loose. Dean felt a bit responsible; he was the one who had asked Castiel about Russia, making him remember the vile, terrifying situation that had led him to cross the ocean.

“I think I’m beginning to feel something,” Castiel had announced part way through the evening, and Dean had taken the declaration with merely a nod and a smirk.

About time, he’d thought, as he’d been watching his new husband threaten Gabriel’s open bar tab all night.

Even so, Dean chastised himself, he should have probably cut Castiel off little sooner. He’d swept him off the dancefloor before Jess and Charlie could harangue the poor guy into another drunken dance routine by some boy band that Dean was glad to have never heard of. It had been perfectly convincing, Dean thought, to announce to the guests with a feisty eyebrow-wiggle that he was taking his new spouse to bed. They’d all laughed, they’d all cheered, and by the time Dean had gotten Castiel out of the rented ballroom and started looking for Gabriel—who was probably hiding in the parking lot somewhere, smoking a joint and avoiding his family—Castiel had already tripped over his own feet and thrown up into a potted plant.

Uncertain what to do with it in such a fancy place, Dean carried the potted plant with him.

There was a chance Dean might be drunk, too.

Earlier, Gabriel had handed Dean a card-style room key and let him and Castiel know, somewhat apologetically, that he thought it might seem strange to everyone else if he got them separate hotel rooms. It had made sense, at the time. They’d shrugged, and Castiel had very chivalrously offered to sleep on the floor, or a couch, if there was one.

Looking at him now, leaning against the exterior wall next to the door of their room with a drunken smile on his face, Dean realized that Castiel would be much better off in the bed where he could keep an eye on him. Son of a bitch , he thought half-heartedly. I haven’t had to babysit a drunk person since college…and I’m barely in a fit state to do it. Great.

Shaking his head in amusement, Dean reached out and tugged Castiel in to his side, letting him lean on him. Plant abandoned in the hallway, Dean led Castiel into the room and settled him down on the edge of the bed.

“How’re you feeling, buddy?” Dean asked, tugging feebly at his tie. His fingers were slowed by whiskey, but after a few false starts, he managed to slide the blush silk from around his neck. It slithered to the floor, looking forlorn on the lavish carpeting.

“I’m fine,” Castiel mumbled. “Just tired.”

Dean nodded, already planning on sleeping on the plush-looking couch under the window. “Well, you should take the bed, I’ll grab some pillows and—”

Castiel made a disapproving noise, his voice commanding even through the fuzzy edges of the drunken slurring. “No. I won’t allow that, Dean. You will sleep here, too. It’s a huge bed.” He reached out, managing to get ahold of Dean’s wrist, and tugged him toward the mattress.

Surprised at Castiel’s strength given the sheer amount of alcohol in his system, Dean chuckled. “Alright, dude. Let me get my shoes off.”

Dean managed to kick off his dress shoes and wrestle his suit jacket onto the back of a chair. His belt didn’t take much work. He figured he could just sleep in his boxers and dress shirt; that wouldn’t be too awkward. The bed was huge, the centerpiece of the honeymoon suite, so it shouldn’t be all that weird, he decided.

Looking back up after tucking his shoes under the chair, Dean saw Castiel still sitting in the same place, unmoving.

“Come on, Cas,” he said, chuckling again and heading over to him. “Alright, I gotcha. Feet up.”

Castiel stared at him uncomprehendingly for a moment, until Dean shook his head and knelt on the floor so he could loosen the laces of Castiel’s dress shoes. He took one off, then the other. About to straighten back up, Dean felt a hand on his shoulder.

Above him, Castiel looked down, his gaze pinning Dean in place as he knelt on the floor. One hand raised up, pressing itself to the stubble of Dean’s jaw, and Castiel’s thumb trailed slowly across the side of Dean’s mouth, the pad of it catching deliberately on Dean’s lower lip. “ Tam ty vyglyadish' prekrasno, mal'chik. Na koleni dlya menya ,” he rumbled deeply.

What was that? Something about…knees? Was that knees or elbows? Come on, Duolingo, do better, Dean thought desperately. I haven’t once had to ask which bus goes to the train station! Teach me useful things, like body parts. Besides, I’d just get a fucking Uber.

The heat swirling through Dean’s core in response to the tiny action was immediate. But, knowing that he wasn’t likely to make the best decisions after a night of drinking, Dean determinedly pushed it away, snorting loudly instead. He brushed Castiel’s hand aside and stood up. “No dice, buddy. I can’t even understand that shit when you’re sober.”

Castiel let out a heaving, disappointed sigh and flopped back onto the bed, muttering something under his breath.

Dean rolled his eyes, grinning to himself as he stood. “I’m going to go and get us some water. You’d better have shifted your drunk ass over to one side of the bed or the other by the time I get back, Dmitri.”

There was another muffled response, this time spoken into the blanket as Castiel slowly rolled himself over. Dean’s Russian was coming along nicely, but he didn’t need his lessons to translate the fuck you in that mumble.

The bathroom was far too bright, Dean decided, and he spent as little time as possible locating two fancy crystal glasses that sat on the counter and filling them with tap water. By the time he returned to the bedroom, Castiel was a mere lump under the covers, taking up the right side of the bed.

Cool, Dean thought. He’s already under the covers. Probably gonna be asleep in minutes, the state he’s in. I can do this. It won’t be awkward; it’ll be fine.

Maintaining his mental pep talk the whole time, Dean tip-toed around the bed to leave one of the glasses of water on the nightstand closest to Castiel, before taking his own to the other side. Lowering himself to sit on the edge of the mattress, Dean chugged down a good two-thirds of the glass, before leaving the rest on the surface next to the lamp, ready for morning. He predicted that he would most likely wake up feeling like he’d been gargling with trash, and he’d learned a long time ago that a little forethought went a surprisingly long way with hangovers.

Dean looked over to the other pillow, where Castiel’s wild, thick hair poked out from above the bedding. His shoulders rose and fell rhythmically, fast asleep. Of course. Dean gave a little smile despite himself and slunk down under the sheets. They were luxurious, silky, and heavy—he should get some sheets like this for home, he thought idly, relaxing down into the pile of pillows the hotel had provided. He didn’t even need to fluff them; they were already perfect. With a small sigh, Dean rolled onto his side, pulling up the covers. Beside him, Castiel made a grumbling noise and shifted, tugging on the top sheet.

“Hey,” Dean grumbled under his breath, clamping the sheet between his fingers. “None of that, dude.”  

Castiel ‘ hrmph’ed , the mattress bouncing as he rolled over to face Dean. In the process, he managed to burrito himself in the blanket, tugging it out of Dean’s grasp.

Dean pulled firmly at the bedding.

Castiel made a low rumbling sound and reached out one arm, sleepily gathering even more blanket, though luckily his grip was too dozy to keep it when Dean determinedly yanked the comforter back again.

After a brief, sleepy tug of war, Castiel let out a long, huffing breath and simply rolled himself toward the center of the bed, bringing the blanket with him. Dean had a lot more sheet to pull over himself, but a lot less personal space.

Goddamnit, Dmitri.

Sharing a bed with Castiel taking up the middle of the bed and snoring quietly was not how Dean had expected the evening to end. Dean settled down under the covers, stiff as a board, his eyes wide open and fixed on the ceiling, suddenly feeling incredibly sober.

Slowly, taking calming breaths, Dean relaxed. He could do this; it was fine. Castiel had just drunk too much—it happened. He’d probably be embarrassed in the morning when he woke, and Dean could make fun of him over breakfast. No big deal.

They were just two friends, really good friends, who happened to be married, sleeping in the same bed.

Just sleeping. In the same bed as Castiel. The most gorgeous man he’d ever laid eyes on, who he’d been harboring a secret crush on for a couple of months, since practically the day Castiel had arrived in Lawrence. Cool. Cool. This was fine.

Dean was fine.

Letting out his held breath, Dean shifted to fluff the pillow behind his head, trying to get comfortable. He froze immediately when the motion seemed to disturb Castiel—but it was too late.

Castiel lolled over further, muttering in his sleep, pressing up to Dean’s side. His arms and legs reached across the bed like a hunting octopus, trying to ensnare some unsuspecting creature in his tentacles. And there Dean was, caught under the dead weight of Castiel’s arm across his chest, one leg thrown across Dean’s hip, his thigh—Jesus Christ, Cas’s thigh —claiming Dean and tugging him into Castiel’s side, so that he could lay half on top of him like a body pillow and puff warm, vodka-scented air into the side of Dean’s neck. Castiel was frowning lightly, making grumbling sounds, though they subsided as soon as he’d hunted down his prey. He relaxed again.

Trapped in a tangle of thighs that could make a man cry and biceps that he’d only fantasized about feeling so close, Dean did not relax. Instead, he let out a small whimpering noise, biting his lip.

He could just sleep on the couch.

But Castiel had said not to.

Dean was too tired to dwell on why he felt so compelled to do as the adorable, drunken lump on the bed beside him had asked. But it wasn’t as if he minded that much , he decided, relaxing into sleep with Castiel’s warm, determined limbs around him.

 

x

 

Dean woke up sluggishly, squinting against the morning light and wishing desperately that he’d thought to close the curtains before he passed out. There was a perilous rumble from next to him, where Castiel was squashed into his side, and Dean froze, wondering what the fuck he was supposed to do now.

“Dean,” came Cas’s voice, even deeper than usual and definitely displeased. “We appear to be sharing a bed.”

“Yes,” said Dean, summoning as much snark his hangover would allow him. “Which wasn’t a problem in theory, until I got into bed and you practically flattened me with your thighs.”

“My thighs?”

“And everything else. Do you usually sleep holding a pillow?” Dean asked, wincing as he struggled upward in his quest to block the sunlight.

“Well, yes,” Castiel admitted sheepishly, squinting after Dean.

“I am not a body pillow, Cas.”

There was a tense, embarrassed silence from the other side of the bed. Deciding to spare them both, Dean slipped his feet down to the floor and managed to make his way across to the curtains. He silently closed them to save Castiel the agony of daylight, before grabbing his clothes from the chair where he’d left them and slinking off to the bathroom without a word.

Leaving Castiel alone to wake up would humiliate him less, Dean thought, not to mention allow Dean to hide the horrendous boner that he’d had for freaking hours. That thing was no longer morning wood, it was an entire forest, and Dean was starting to feel lightheaded.

Shutting the bathroom door, Dean let out a long sigh. The space was entirely tiled in white, with a beautiful clawed tub at one end, double sinks, and even a couch. Honeymoon suite, indeed. Dean ignored the flowers and free soaps, however, heading straight to the shower. It was a big, walk-in contraption with a curved glass door and a waterfall showerhead, and Dean took a moment to look at it in awe before he entered. His little townhouse sure didn’t have a shower this fancy.

The water was instantly just the right temperature. Of course it fucking was.

Dean’s soaping, shampooing, and the speedy tug that followed were all entirely perfunctory; fast and to the point, just enough to get him out of the shower, clean, and able to face Castiel with his blood pumping around his brain rather than his groin. Quickly pulling on his clean underwear and pants, Dean rough-dried his hair with one of the plush towels before stepping back out into the hotel room, fresh-scented steam following him.

Castiel was doing his morning yoga on the floor, his spine arching through the air in a perfect bridge at the foot of the bed. No man who had drunk what he had the night before should be able to do that with their body before nine in the morning, Dean was certain. He was shirtless, and in the thinnest pajama pants known to man.

Dean considered turning around and walking straight back into the bathroom, but figured that might have been a little obvious, even for him.

“Dean,” Castiel said, kicking up his feet and moving through a slow handstand before he righted himself. He turned, facing Dean apologetically. “I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. It certainly wasn’t my intention to—”

“Don’t even worry about it,” Dean said instantly, interrupting with a wave. “You’re a cuddly sleeper, so what? Last time I shared a bed with Charlie when she’d been drinking, she drooled on my face. You’re a great bed companion by comparison. Anytime.”

A strange look passed over Castiel’s face.

A great bed companion? Anytime? Really, Dean? Dean wondered if he’d left his brain cells in the shower.

“Good to know,” Castiel noted, arching an eyebrow. “I called for coffee to be brought up,” he said, moving the topic onward swiftly. “I thought we could go downstairs for breakfast, but if you’d rather order something to be brought up here, we can do that instead.”

Dean shook his head. “Nah, coffee and then heading down to eat is good.”

The less time Dean had alone in a room with Castiel to make a complete ass of himself, the better, in his opinion. He may have sorted himself out in the shower, but he was only human, and the way Castiel’s pajama pants were clinging to his thighs was already weakening Dean’s shaky resolve. He needed the dude to get dressed , dammit. He’d definitely be revisiting those pajama pants in his fantasies later, Dean realized with grumpy resignation. This was just his life now, he guessed.

There was a knock at the door, and while Castiel went to collect the coffee from the chirpy hotel employee, Dean turned his back and began to stuff his clothing from the day before into his duffle. It was a flimsy excuse to take a moment to compose himself, but it’d have to do.

Castiel’s fingers wrapped softly around Dean’s bare bicep a moment later. “Dean?”

Jumping a little, Dean turned to see Castiel squinting at him, holding his coffee out cautiously. “Oh—thanks, dude,” Dean managed, praying that caffeine would help him hold it together.

“Dean, I—are you alright?” Castiel asked, solemn but quiet. “Did I do something to bother you, recently? Beyond the, uh”—he jerked his thumb over his shoulder toward the bed—“sharing a bed thing? You’ve been…”

Dean’s heart stopped as Castiel trailed off for a moment, but thank god, he continued after only a second.

“Jumpy, I suppose,” Castiel went with. “If I did something that made you uncomfortable or—or became, uh, too familiar—or—” Fighting with his words, Castiel dropped his gaze a little, something self-conscious and unsure about it that had Dean scrambling to tell him he was wrong.

“No, Cas. Not at all, I promise. You haven’t done anything wrong, and you’ve never once made me uncomfortable.” Dean’s chest was constricting oddly. He probably had been strange and jumpy with Castiel of late, considering he was spending almost every evening—and most showers, and the occasional long lunch break—picturing being plowed into the mattress by him. But that wasn’t Castiel’s fault, and Dean was suddenly acutely aware that by being so paranoid, he may have inadvertently worried Castiel in the process. “You’re the best friend and fake-husband a guy could ask for,” Dean added, grinning reassuringly. “Promise.”

Castiel gave Dean what seemed like a relieved nod. “And you would tell me if I overstepped, or went too far?” he checked, his dark brows slightly closer than normal as he studied Dean’s face, serious and concerned.

Taking the coffee mug from Castiel, Dean stood it on top of the dresser they were standing next to, before turning back to face him, finding Castiel looking oddly nervous. “You’re good, Cas,” he reassured. “I mean, if we’re talking about going too far, it was me that kissed you yesterday without checking with you if it was okay first.”

“It was okay,” Castiel replied quickly with a surprised-looking blink. “You were just doing what you needed to do for our cover, of course,” he clarified. “You caught me a little off guard, but I should have expected it. I should have thought of it myself, even.”

Yeah. Their cover. Dean managed to give Castiel another half-smile. “Come on, then,” he said. “Let’s drink our coffees and get down for breakfast—if the buffet is anything like the one last night, we’re in for a good time.”

Castiel’s shoulders relaxed, and he nodded as his usual grin spread slowly back across his face. “Of course. I can’t neglect feeding my new husband now, can I?”

“Coming between me and bacon would certainly be one of the fastest roads to divorce, gotta say,” Dean quipped as he pulled a clean shirt over his head and stretched, encouraging the last of the sleep from his frame.

Castiel’s long look back at Dean was warm and fond as he strolled over to the window, sipping his own coffee. “Bacon every day it is then, zaichik.

Dean spent most of breakfast wondering if he’d mistranslated, or if Castiel had actually just called him a male bunny. He could have asked…but he had already decided to save his little Russian language secret for just the right moment.

Bunny , Dean thought, amused. Weirdo.

 

x

 

So c'mon, take a bottle, shake it up!” Gabriel sang from the other side of the kitchen, days later.

Without turning, Dean reached across to grab the large sugar bag he’d been hogging while he sweetened fruit for Christmas cakes, and rolled the top down so it wouldn’t spill. “Break the bubble, break it up!” he called back, grinning.

“Pour some sugar on me!” they sang in unison as Dean turned, casually throwing the bag into Gabriel’s waiting hands.

Team Trick or Sweet was in great form, with the cases at the front of the bakery packed to the brim with goodies and the order board on the wall next to the health and safety poster already nearly full, resulting in them both using exponentially smaller handwriting as the week went on until it became something of a joke. Christmas was fast approaching, and Dean and Gabriel had entered one of their busiest times of the year. No one could resist baked goods and chocolate at Christmas, nor should they.

Gabriel scooped sugar crystals into the cradle of his weighing scale, still humming Def Leppard. Dean began to clear off his station so that he could begin putting together yet another batch of sugar cookies. He’d started making them in the shape of little Christmas trees, of course, and he was struggling to keep up with the demand. He sang along with Gabriel, finishing Pour Some Sugar On Me with him before launching into Quiet Riot’s Cum On Feel the Noize.

The sugar bag was returned to Dean’s table, appearing by his elbow. He turned to grin his thanks to Gabriel and found the entertained-looking chocolatier hovering behind his shoulder, looking at him incredulously.

“What?” Dean asked.

“You’re in a very good mood this week,” Gabriel observed, shrugging. “Even more than you have been lately. You’re singing! Usually you tell me to shut up.”

“Well,” Dean said, shrugging it off, “I have had three coffees.”

“Three coffees barely starts your engine,” Gabriel scoffed. “Three coffees is a regular Tuesday.”

“So? It’s actually Thursday, maybe I’m happy to be over hump day?”

Gabriel threw his hands up, rolling his eyes as he moved back toward his own station. “Whatever, dude. Just happy to see you happy, that’s all. You’re usually a lot more on edge at this time of year. Other than that one Christmas.”

Dean pressed his lips into a line, lining up his spoons methodically in a way that always drove the slap-dash Gabriel utterly nuts. “Well, this isn’t like that Christmas, if that’s what you’re getting at.”

Usually pretty high strung, Dean could be a bit of a nightmare to work with if he wasn’t relaxing properly when he was off the clock, he was aware. He and Gabriel did just fine most of the time, but the holidays were high-stress through and through. Luckily, Dean had worked out what made him tick and really relax in his very early twenties, but that had been no business of Gabriel’s. Until Victor. They’d met at a club in Kansas City; they’d had a great couple of months. It was never going to go anywhere, not really, but Trick or Sweet had experienced its most relaxed Christmas to date with Victor taking care of Dean off the clock. Gabriel had enquired…and then kinda wished he hadn’t, but he wasn’t the judgmental sort, in general.

...though he had made whip-cracking noises every time he’d walked behind Dean until well past New Years.

Hearing the bell above the door in the café tinkle, Dean quickly dusted off his hands with one of the million or so sack cloth towels that they had stashed in the kitchen and moved out through the door.

Ugh, you, Dean thought immediately, before plastering on his best customer service smile.

“Morning, Kit,” he said, waiting politely behind the register as Verson browsed his way along the glass cases. ‘What can I get for you?”

The brown-haired mechanic jerked his head back toward the door, indicating the other side of town. “Cole sent me to grab donuts for the back office, bein’ nearly Christmas and all, but with all the gossip, it’d have been remiss of me not to stop by here and take a peek at your wares instead.”

Dean bristled instantly but managed to maintain his smile. He became aware of Gabriel coming through the door behind him, folding his arms across his chest with a quiet, barely-audible huff.

“Well, we don’t sell gossip, to either you or Trenton,” Gabriel said hotly. “Just pastries or chocolates. You want either of those things?”

The corner of Kit’s mouth curled up unpleasantly. “I dunno, Novak…Figured you’d do all kinds of things for money in these parts.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Gabriel barked, his blond brows furrowing.

Instinctively, Dean’s hand came out in front of his friend’s torso, cautioning him wordlessly. “Did you want baked goods or not, Kit? We have other customers,” Dean said, nodding to the young couple who owned the art gallery down the street who were waiting in line.

Ignoring his question, Kit tilted his head to the side, peering back behind Dean into the kitchen. “Surprised you haven’t roped your new hubby into working here, Dean. Or does he not want to? I mean, that’s what people like him do, just come here and live off of honest people—”

“Get out.”

Forget restraining Gabriel; it was suddenly Dean’s hands that were in fists, his body leaning forward across the counter. He barely recognized his own voice as he icily demanded that Kit leave.

The couple from the art gallery stepped aside wordlessly, making a clear path for Kit to get to the door. Their faces were grim, and the guy—Dean thought his name might be Andy—was scowling openly at Kit. That made him feel a little better, at least.

Kit took a long moment, looking around at all the hostile faces, before letting out a noise of disgust. He turned and sauntered slowly back toward the door, taking his time about it.

“And don’t come back,” Gabriel called after him as the bell tinkled cheerily, at odds with the atmosphere in the café.

Dean was still furious, his shoulders hunched and tense. He couldn’t believe that dick—

“I’m so sorry about that,” Gabriel’s voice came to Dean’s left, cutting off his thoughts. He was addressing the other customers, gesturing apologetically to their full cases. “Please—on the house, whatever you’d like. Pralines? Cookies? Dean makes great cookies…”

Flushing angrily, Dean managed to smile apologetically at Gabriel, appreciating him stepping up, before he moved back into the kitchen to take a breath.

He turned on the tap in the food prep area, allowing cold water to pool in his cupped hands before bringing it up to splash over his face. The coldness slowly cooled his anger, and by the time Gabriel came back into the kitchen, his breathing was normal.

“Don’t let the health inspector catch you washing your face in that sink,” Gabriel quipped, though he sounded forced.

Dean let out a low huff. He straightened, grabbing the towel he’d abandoned earlier and scrubbing it across his face. “Sorry, Gabe.”

The pintsize man shrugged, leaning against the doorframe. “Just glad you didn’t punch him—thought you were gonna, for a second,” he remarked. “I wanted to though, so I’m not saying anything.”

“Where do people like him get off?” Dean asked, shaking his head, looking up to the ceiling. “I mean, where does he think his ancestors came from? He doesn’t look particularly Potawatomi to me, so clearly he doesn’t belong in Kansas,” he added dryly.

Gabriel gave a snort. “He sure doesn’t. Every Saint Paddy’s day he’s at the Irish bar over in Topeka, gushing about his ancestry. He’s a hypocrite, like every one of those types of assholes.”

Dean gave a low hum of agreement. He was still frustrated, and something about the incident hurt in an odd way that he couldn’t fathom. He wasn’t usually someone that would let assholes like Kit Verson or his vile bestie, Cole, get to him. They’d both given him shit years before, when they’d caught wind of him being bi. That hadn’t lasted long though, when they’d worked out how little Dean cared about their opinion, and precisely how willing he was to punch either of them out. Dean hadn’t exactly been level-headed in his younger years. Apparently, they had new hills to die on, and despite the years that had passed, Dean wasn’t sure he was feeling much more level-headed after all.

“You good to carry on working?” Gabriel asked, jerking a thumb back to the front. “Countdown to Christmas. Your crack cookies await.”

Dean appreciated Gabriel trying to redirect his thoughts. The sassy chocolatier really did know him pretty well, after all this time. He nodded, throwing the towel across to the hamper that stood in the corner. “Yeah,” he said, nodding shallowly. “I’ll go clear the front. Can you count the pies? Roy has a restaurant order.”

Gabriel nodded, giving Dean a quick smile, and turned to walk back out to the register.

 

x

 

By the time Dean made his way through the front door of his townhouse many hours later, he was much calmer. Even so, he felt twitchy, pent up, frustrated. Castiel didn’t appear to be home, his boots gone from the entryway and silence behind his bedroom door, so Dean figured a long, hot shower would be a good way to relax and get his head straight.

Pulling his white work clothes off and throwing them into the hamper in his bedroom—a small puff of flour mushrooming up from the basket and mocking his attempt to be tidy—he dug around in his nightstand for a moment, fully determined to take advantage of having the house to himself. Grabbing the items that he’d been searching for, Dean gave one last slightly paranoid call of Castiel’s name through his bedroom door, before deciding that the coast was truly clear.

Shutting himself in the bathroom, Dean dropped his boxers and started the shower.

Living with someone else wasn’t much of a problem, really; Dean had always had to keep his private activities on the down-low, what with having lived with Sam for much of his life. It’d only taken a few times each of walking in on something they did not want to see for them both to decide that some things were just best kept to their own bedrooms and nowhere else.

But periodically, when he lived alone, Dean liked to push the boat out and enjoy himself elsewhere.

As steam began to billow around the small, fully tiled bathroom, Dean unrolled the bundle of clean clothing he’d carried from the bedroom and pulled out the goodies he’d tucked within.

He’d long ago learned that the wall of the over-the-tub shower, opposite the sink, was a great spot for a suction cup dildo.

Toy-safe, waterproof lube and the shower perfectly warm, Dean was in heaven.

The image of Castiel’s damn thin pajama pants from the weekend before, at the hotel the morning after their wedding, had been seared into his mind ever since—the way the fabric stretched around his thighs, the way the outline of his cock was right there for anyone to see as the pants clung to him. It wasn’t the first time they’d come to mind since that morning, and Dean wasn’t in a hurry to forget them.

Combined with a favorite scene from J. Milton’s new manuscript, and Dean had plenty of material to warm up his shower. The scene he was so fond of was one not long after the Dom and the sub in the story had first given in to their desires; Dmitri had been teasing Michael for hours, promising him that his long-withheld orgasm would be worth it. The sub had been bratty, desperate, pushing at the fragile new boundaries between them by the time the fictional couple had made it home that evening, and for his disobedience, Dmitri had taken a paddle and branded his sub’s ass red.

For Dean, that would definitely have been more of a reward than a punishment.

The scene beautifully detailed Dmitri watching as Michael bent over a couch, holding his tingling, crimson cheeks apart and working himself open for his Dom’s viewing pleasure, before he was taken from behind, Dmitri’s pelvis slapping against his fantastically stinging skin.

In the steamy bathroom, Dean popped the cap off his lube, coating the thick, rubber dick with it before pressing it onto the tile. He added more to his hands, rubbing the slick liquid around his fingers as he stood with his chest under the water. He took his time, giving himself the full experience; reaching back, trickling extra lube between his cheeks and over his eager hole, as if someone else was pouring it, making his skin shine in the humid air.

He let out a low, puffing breath as he leaned forward, bracing one arm against the wall as the other worked back, sliding one finger straight within himself up to the second knuckle. This wasn’t his first rodeo; he needed little in the way of prep and never had. Clearly, he often thought with amusement, he’d been made to have a dick up his ass.

Twisting his hand just so, Dean grunted softly as he pushed a second finger in next to his first, loving the beginnings of the full, stretched feeling that he craved so much, enjoying the way his squeezing, muscled walls seemed to tug his fingers further in with each rocking motion. His breath parted the steam in front of his face as he let out quiet keening noises, his dick thickening between his legs as he leaned forward. He could hear himself; squelching, sucking, sloppy noises as he fingered his ass harder—sounds that as a young, inexperienced guy had been almost embarrassing, but now did nothing but add to his arousal as a comfortable adult.

“Yeah…” Dean breathed out slowly, working in a third finger. The toy he had bobbing hopefully behind him was thick, a chunky, veined ‘realistic’-looking dildo with hard balls and a bendy, though firm, texture. It was one of his favorites. Unfortunately, times like this, when he had the house entirely to himself for this kind of luxury, were few and far between.

He squeezed his eyes shut, clenching his muscles to tighten around his own fingers and then twisting them, feeling them pull and drag against the slicked insides of his ass. It was so good. Dean loved to be fucked—sure, he loved fucking, too, he wasn’t about to say no to either. But once he’d gotten past the internalized homophobia that had shadowed his teen years, he’d been shameless in his realization of just how much he loved to be filled.

In his mind, he replayed the scene he’d read from J. Milton’s newest work; he could practically remember it word-for-word. He had not just enjoyed it but studied it, as if he could gain precious knowledge about how his gorgeous, sexy-as-hell roommate worked from its prose. Letting go of the wall, he straightened slightly, so that he could keep his balance. Alone and unencumbered, Dean let his imagination take him through the scene again; his own secret version, where Castiel was the one who owned him.

He imagined Castiel’s large, strong hands trailing down his flanks to his hips, his fingers gliding slowly over the swell of Dean’s ass. Squeezing at the globe of his own left cheek, Dean let out a grunt as he swatted experimentally at his own rear. It wasn’t the same, spanking yourself; you always knew when the hit was coming. It just wasn’t as effective. But with his eyes closed, picturing Castiel’s cupped hand rearing back and then snapping forward to mark him red…it made his cock leap up further, proud and swinging in the air before him. A tingling sensation spreading across his skin from the impact, Dean bit down on his lip.

He wanted.

He desperately craved Castiel’s hands on him, moving him to the side, positioning him just so, as Dean was doing for himself right that moment. He hungered for the feel of Castiel behind him, his cock leaking drips of precome down his long shaft as he conjured up Castiel’s husky voice, his thick, sexy accent close to Dean’s ear as he told him what a good boy he was.

Dean wasn’t the type of sub who liked to be punished, who liked to fight back—though he could be a brat on occasion, he knew. Dean was the type who wanted to please, wanted to pleasure, and in turn, wanted to be taken care of. He wanted to switch off the part of his brain that worked all day to worry about what other people wanted and just follow simple instructions, letting someone else take care of him.

Water cascaded across Dean’s shoulders as he rearranged his feet in the tub, turning sideways so that his back was to the long wall, and he could lean forward, bracing his left arm on the sink. There was a thump, somewhere out in the house or the street; right then he didn’t care, too caught up in his fantasy.

Curling his fingers forward, pressing at his prostate and slowly dragging his fingers across it, Dean keened out into the bathroom, his shaking voice echoing around the tile. Again; press, drag, gasp. A long rub, a little more pressure, a high-pitched pant.

After a blissful, building, few minutes, Dean carefully slipped his lube-covered fingers from his hole, feeling the loss immediately as cool air hit the gape that he’d created. He shuddered, hissing and biting his lip as his muscles fluttered, demanding that something return to fill him.

Taking his cock in his right hand, his left still supporting him on the edge of the sink, Dean stroked up the length of his shaft, stopping to dig in a thumb right beneath the head; gentle but firm, rubbing a tiny circle.

Gasping out loud, Dean let a low curse out into the air as he pressed his hips backwards.

The slicked head of the rubber dick nudged at Dean’s ass crack, and he lined himself up carefully. Eyes closed, mind full of imaginings, Dean canted his hips and groaned out loud, letting out an exclamation of “Fuck, Cas…” into the damp, clouded air.

The head of the dildo popped past the first ring of muscle, and Dean cried out, his eyes springing open. It was big, and hard, and so different to his fingers, but in the best way. Panting, his chest heaving and droplets of water streaking over him, Dean paused, adjusting.

“Dean?”

That was Castiel’s voice, right outside the bathroom door. Dean froze, wide-eyed, biting down hard on his lip.

“Dean?” he called again. “Are you home? Or did you just leave the shower on?”

Suddenly confronted with the very real chance that Castiel was going to open the door and see Dean soaking wet, bent over, grabbing hold of the sink with a large rubber cock half-way in his ass, Dean frantically called out, “I’m here! I— shit— I’m here, Cas. In the—in the shower.”

Dean’s ass was aching, tugging desperately at the dildo he had partly inside him, demanding more. Biting the inside of his cheek against a groan, Dean shifted his hips slightly, sending a buzz through his body behind his ball sack.

“Oh, okay,” Castiel continued neutrally, right on the other side of the door. “I wasn’t sure if you were home yet.”

Fuck, that voice, that voice was everything that drove Dean wild and all he needed was for him to say—

“Dean?”

Shuddering, far too worked up to consider the shame that would come later, Dean pushed back, wetly slapping his ass cheeks against the wall, shoving the dildo in with a strangled cry that he tried to choke off into his bicep.

“Y-yes, Cas?” he called weakly, fighting with everything in him to keep his voice steady.

“Gabriel called me. He said you had some trouble at the bakery today, and I…well, I just wanted to check if you were okay.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Dean squeaked desperately, gripping tightly at his cock, his hips twitching as he eased back forward. “I’m okay. I’m good. V-very—very good, in fact. Just fine.”

There was a pregnant pause, the cascading hot water from the shower the only noise to cover Dean’s motions.

“That’s good, Dean,” Castiel rumbled from the other side of the door. “I like it when you feel good,” he added, lower.

Wait—what? No, no, he couldn’t…Surely…

“Getting shampoo in my mouth,” Dean babbled breathlessly, thrusting back again, the buzzing feeling in the base of his torso rising and spreading beyond his control. “Can we—can we talk about it later?”

“Of course, moj mal’chick, ” Castiel said, sounding kind and fond and oddly breathless. “Whatever you need. I’ll order some dinner, okay?”

The Russian words pushed buttons that Dean hadn’t known he had until this man had put on his dumb trench coat and gotten on his stupid plane and landed in Dean’s life.

“Yes!” Dean cried out, far too enthusiastic for take-out alone. He pushed back frantically, wet slapping sounds barely muffled by the shower as Dean fucked himself desperately on the toy, come erupting from him and splattering the tiled floor like a fountain. “Yes, Cas—that sounds great,” he panted, shaky and weak.

“Very good, Dean,” Castiel called, before Dean could make out his footsteps heading away from the door. He sounded…smug, almost, Dean thought, but that was something to worry about later.

First, he had to clean up this mess, soothe his stretched asshole, and swallow down the shame that was about to hit him like a breaking wave.

Shit.

By the time Dean had made it downstairs, his hair still a little damp, but all other evidence of his time in the bathroom carefully cleaned away, he had himself nearly convinced that Castiel knew exactly what had been going on beyond the door.

Dean became even more certain as the evening wore on, the two of them relaxing on the couch and watching old 80s action movies while they devoured the pizza that Castiel had ordered. Every time Dean caught Castiel’s smirking, secretive smile from the corner of his eye, or felt the weight of those big blues gazing at him instead of the TV, he became more certain.

It was a strange little thrill, somewhere in Dean’s chest, behind his ribcage and slightly to the left. What kind of game was the Russian playing, here? And why did Dean like it so much?

 

Chapter Text

“Are you ready to go, Dean?” Castiel called through Dean’s bedroom door just before ten in the morning.

“Yeah! I’ll be down in a minute, go ahead and warm Baby up for us, you know where the keys are!” Dean hollered back, springing up off the bed and self-consciously shoving the heavy manuscript that he’d been reading under his pillow.

In the weeks since Dean had discovered Untitled by J. Milton on top of the recycling pile, Dean had been diligently going through it. Not just because it was hot—and holy hell, was it hot—but because the more of it he read, the more he was convinced that Castiel had based it on them.

Castiel was confident, cocky, almost, and blunt. But at the same time, he could often be incredibly stoic, though Dean had noticed that he relaxed and smiled much more when they were alone. Even so, it was difficult to get a read on what he might really be thinking. Sure, Dean could ask. And, blunt as he was, Castiel would probably give Dean an answer.

But Dean wasn’t crazy, therefore that wasn’t happening.

No, clearly the only thing to do was study the manuscript with an intensity that Dean hadn’t shown since he graduated college, and to try and gather every little clue about Castiel from it that he could: his preferences, his thought processes. What kind of dynamic “Dmitri” liked to have with his sub. What kind of kinks he had, what he drew the line at. Obviously, Dean couldn’t be sure that everything in the book was real—he’d be stupid to think that it was. Nonetheless, there were enough clues to make him think that at least some of it was.

It wasn’t that Dean was hoping to use the knowledge to influence Castiel. That would be entirely wrong, and a hugely douchebaggy thing to do, Dean had told himself right from the start. But, perhaps if there were subtle ways that he could show his interest, and gauge Castiel’s in return…

Because, he tried to encourage himself, it wasn’t a totally ridiculous notion that Castiel might be interested…right? He liked guys. Dean was a guy. He’d subtly confessed to being on the dominant side when they were at the bookstore in the mall, and Dean was definitely—sexually at least—more on the submissive side. Dean was realistic enough to know he wasn’t terrible to look at, either. Castiel had said that Dean was attractive, after all.

And sometimes…sometimes Dean just felt it, and he was sure that was true for them both. Just felt that some of the moments where they had to appear to be a couple were a little too easy, that it just seemed right. There had been times where it felt like they were teetering on the brink of something. Neither of them mentioned it, of course, the risk of a tangled mess a little too high to make this easy.

After the incident in the bathroom, Dean was at least 77.3% convinced that Castiel knew what Dean had been up to on the other side of the door. Some moments, if he was having a particularly solid boost of confidence, Dean even convinced himself that Castiel had been into it. He was still too afraid of messing up the good dynamic they had going (and things going wrong, and Cas leaving, or otherwise raising flags that I.C.E. would simply love to throw Dean in jail for) to say anything, but he was starting to think that maybe they could have more than a roommates thing. Roommates with benefits? Was that a thing? He wasn’t expecting Castiel to fall in love with him, but...

But.

Dean’d had several months to get over his ridiculous crush, and it clearly wasn’t happening. He’d come so many times calling Castiel’s name that it was basically a part of his routine, and as shameful and embarrassing as that was, Dean had come to accept it.

So maybe, it was worth pushing just a little. Cautiously.

And so, Dean had been going through the book, highlighting and making notes like he was studying Shakespeare. Humiliating—highly. He felt like a high-school kid giggling over their crush’s social media profiles and doodling hearts on his notebook. (Not that there were any hearts, anywhere in that manuscript. None at all.) But, he hoped, he was starting to come up with some subtle ways that he could get an idea if maybe Castiel thought of him as a little more than an immigration beard.

Oh, he knew it was a bad idea. But he was starting to become desperate enough not to care.

Making sure that the well-thumbed manuscript was out of sight—not that Castiel ever came into Dean’s room anyway—Dean grabbed his coat from the end of the bed and shrugged it on, before hurrying down the stairs to get his wallet from the bowl in the kitchen, where Castiel had already removed Baby’s keys and gone to get her running.

Dean flexed his fingers, remembering his gloves just in time—he didn’t want to be scraping ice off of Baby’s windshield with his bare hands—and headed out to the curb.

It was the week before Christmas, and snow had come to Lawrence early. It was a white dusting, only an inch or so, but it put Dean in a foul mood, much to Castiel’s amusement. “This is hardly snow, Dean, you can’t possibly be mad about this,” he’d said. Dean, of course, had made irritated noises and pointed out that it’d be white for all of five minutes, it was bad for business at Trick or Sweet, and it meant that Baby’s floor mats would get all sludgy and messy.

Castiel’s insinuation that the floor mats were designed to collect messes certainly didn’t help, despite the twinkle in his eye as he’d said it, the little shit.

So, at right around ten o’clock, Dean slid into the driver’s seat with ice cold fingers, relieved to be out of the irritatingly wet, drifty snowflakes that still insisted on falling.

“There we go,” he said, pulling off his gloves. “At least now we can see where we’re going.”

“That’s always preferable, when driving,” Castiel noted dryly. He watched Dean clench and shake his freezing fingers for a moment, frowning. Then he reached over and clasped Dean’s hands, wrapping his warm grip over the top of Dean’s fingers and bringing them up to his lips. Rubbing gently, Castiel puffed warm air across Dean’s hands, making them tingle and throb as they warmed back up.

It was familiar and affectionate in a way that Dean hadn’t had time to prepare himself for, and he felt his cheeks pinking from something other than the cold as he ducked his head.

“Thanks,” he murmured, when Castiel released him.

Castiel just smiled, dropping his gaze in turn.

“So,” Dean said, clearing his throat awkwardly. “Where’d you want to go first?”

“I have no idea,” Castiel said with a sigh, settling back into his seat and looking out of the window as Dean turned up the music a little. “I should get a present for Gabriel, and I’d really like to get a little something for Sam and Jess. They’ve done so much for us—for me. But I have no idea where to start. I’m not very good at this, the gift giving thing.”

“That’s surprising,” Dean commented, pulling out onto the road. “You’re always so observant, and thoughtful and stuff. Seems like you kinda like looking after people and all that, I would have thought you enjoyed gift giving.”

“Oh, I do,” Castiel said. “But only with people I know intimately…and then I prefer to give care and attention and experiences over something from the mall.” He sighed again and gave a little shrug. “Hopefully something will present itself, there. If not, I suppose I’ll just throw money at the situation in the American way.”

Dean laughed as he made his way out of town toward the large mall. “That big book advance burning a hole in your pocket, Dmitri?”

Castiel chuckled dryly back at him. “Not so much. That and my royalties—which are less than most people think—are going to have to pay my bills up until I come up with a new book idea, so I’m pretty judicious with it.”

Gripping Baby’s steering wheel tighter, Dean kept his eyes right on the road. “Well, I’m sure you’ll come up with a new idea soon, Cas. You’re really good at what you do, and inspiration is everywhere, right?”

Dean didn’t need to turn; he could feel Castiel’s eyes burning like blue lasers into the side of his face. After a long moment, Castiel cleared his throat.

“Speaking of ideas,” Castiel began, his voice suddenly much lighter—too light, as if he was forcing it. “I was wondering if you’d seen a manuscript that I’ve misplaced somewhere around the house.”

You little shit.

Dean turned left, dodging an overenthusiastic cyclist and cussing under his breath at the guy trying to push past him to get into the mall before them. Once he had them cruising around the parking lot of the fugly, gray building, he let out a breath and looked over at Castiel.

Castiel was still watching him, patient and quiet.

“Yeah,” Dean forced out. “I found one of your manuscripts sitting on top of the recycling box, so I grabbed it and pulled it out. Didn’t seem like something that should just be thrown out while you were still editing. I know you scan it and all, but still.”

“Oh,” Castiel said neutrally, nodding. “Well, thank you. That was thoughtful. I don’t need it back now, but it’s good to know where it went.”

Dean nodded, pursing his lips as he pulled them into a parking space.

“Did you read it?” Castiel asked suddenly, an entirely different edge to his tone.

Dean kept his hands on the steering wheel, eyeing his knuckles for a moment while he worked out what to say. Taking a shaky, guilty breath, he looked over at Castiel once more.

Castiel smirked.

Dean swallowed harshly, not sure what to say. He knows, Dean panicked. He one hundred percent knows that I know—oh god, what am I supposed to do now? Apologize? Ask if it’s about us? Dive out of the car and run?

The dark, coy smirk that tugged at Castiel’s lips smoothed out after a moment, and after giving Dean a slow, up and down inspection, Castiel produced a tiny, smug smile. He reached for the door handle. “Come along, Dean. We have Christmas shopping to do, yes?”

“Uh, yeah—yeah,” Dean agreed hurriedly, all but fleeing from Baby, fumbling as he locked her door. “I need to get something for little Mary, gifts for Sam and Jess, then pick up a gift card for Gabriel and work out what I’m giving you.”

Suddenly, without an ounce of warning, Castiel was right behind Dean. He leaned in only an inch or two, his hand coming out to rest lightly on the base of Dean’s spine, on top of his khaki jacket. Dean desperately wished there was no fabric in the way at all.

“Well,” Castiel said, his voice low and accented and eternally sexy, “I’m sure you’ll be able think of something that would please me, Dean.”

He stepped away and the air was cold once more, damp snowflakes trying to float their way into Dean’s collar. 

 

x

 

After the moment —Dean wasn’t sure what else to label it, but ‘moment’ worked—in the parking lot, their shopping trip had been surprisingly relaxed and fun. Dean had knocked a few gifts off of his list—he’d found some nice candles for Jess and a set of historical romance novels that he just knew she’d love, and a book about serial killers for his brother (the kid was weird, nothing Dean could do about that). He decided to get a gift card to a local brewery to go with it, and that was those two done.

Christmas though, everyone knew, was much more exciting when there were children involved. So, they had spent a good hour in the toy store at the mall, spoiling Sam and Jess’s daughter, making it a game to find the noisiest, most irritating toy that would drive Sam the craziest. Pleased with themselves, they decided to drop their bags in the Impala, then get some lunch. After eating, they decided, they’d work out what to get for Gabriel, then split up to buy each other’s gifts.

They’d just made it back into the mall, bag-free, when Castiel paused outside Victoria’s Secret, gazing thoughtfully up at the window.

“How wrong of me would it be to give my brother a silk nightgown, some hair masks, and a bottle of wine for Christmas? It’s so much easier than thinking of a serious gift.”

Dean couldn’t help a devious grin. “Honestly, he’d probably love it. I’ve lived with the guy; he spends more time on his hair than my brother does. And silk is a luxury everyone deserves.”

Castiel’s low chuckle, the deep rumble that Dean was no closer to resisting than the day they’d met, rolled between them. “Is that so?” he said, grinning enough to show his pointy incisors. He pointed up at the display in the window, at a skimpy pair of boy-short panties in a soft-looking green satin. “Well in that case, Dean, those would match your eyes perfectly.”

Dean should have laughed it off. They’d have stepped away from the window, joking back and forth, and gone to eat their planned Chinese food.

Instead, of course, Dean felt his cheeks immediately flush and burn. Castiel’s eyebrow went up along with Dean’s temperature—which was arousing by itself, dammit.

Dean sucked in a sharp breath, stepping away from the store window. “I’m hungry, buddy, let’s go.”

Castiel tilted his head, regarding Dean quietly. The mall was crowded so close to Christmas, and loud, and so neither of them said anything further until they got to the restaurant. Once they’d grabbed a seat, Castiel simply nudged Dean’s knee under the table and asked him what his favorite Chinese dish was.

Relaxing, Dean suggested a few of his favorite dishes. Calm the fuck down, Dean, he reprimanded himself. You can still laugh and joke with the guy—one of your best friends, for Christ’s sake—without revealing your ridiculous crush every five minutes. Dean wasn’t embarrassed by his preferences and kinks, not as such. But letting Castiel know about them—even inadvertently—created connections in Dean’s brain that he probably shouldn’t indulge.

He thought about apologizing to Castiel for his strange, uptight reaction; but Castiel seemed to have let it go, so Dean did too.

Their waiter approached the table, delivering two glasses of water along with Dean’s beer. “Are you ready to order, gentlemen?” he asked with a warm, polite smile, looking back and forth between the two of them.

“Yes,” Dean said, nodding as he put the menu down on the table, leaving a hand resting either side of it. “I think we’ll just get a bunch of food between us and share.”

“A great idea,” the waiter said. His eyes darted uncertainly between Dean and Castiel before he politely asked, “Will this be one check, or two?”

Dean’s brain hiccupped. He was just about to say, “One, thank you,” when he realized that with no one around that they knew, he and Castiel didn’t need to play at being a couple. But it felt so normal now, that—

“Just one check, I’ll get it,” Castiel said, surprising Dean. He surprised him even further by leaning slightly forward to look down at the menu Dean had held, and slipping his hand into Dean’s, entwining their fingers on the tabletop.

He proceeded to order for them, calm and cool like nothing was unusual, while Dean sat silently, having a minor existential crisis over some tangled fingers.

“Oh, that’s my favorite dish,” the waiter was saying, chatty and pleasant and totally unaware of what was happening to Dean.

Maybe Cas just thinks we need to practice. Or he’s worried someone could see us, even if we can’t see them. Or it’s just risky to—

“Dean?” Castiel was squeezing his hand slowly. “Are you alright?”

Was he?

“Yeah,” Dean breathed out, forcing himself to relax. “You don’t have to pay for our lunch though, Cas, I can split it with you.” It’s not like we’re actually on a date, Dean added silently, though he had to admit he was suddenly feeling very much like they were.

Castiel gave a tiny shrug. “I’d like to, if you don’t mind.”

“Well, uh, thanks,” Dean managed. “I guess I did drive.”

“True,” said Castiel, giving Dean a little smile. “Though that’s not it. I just like doing things for you, treating you when you’ll let me. You don’t often allow it, but it makes me happy when you do.”

Dean’s head was already too mushy to even think up a response to that one, between the warm fingers that still held his—entirely without comment—and the solid side of Castiel’s leg that was right next to his own under the table.

He gave an uncertain smile instead, nodding. “Right. Well, uh, thanks,” he succeeded in vocalizing after a moment.

“You’re welcome, kotyonok, ” Castiel rumbled, looking immensely pleased. With another squeeze his hand was gone, and he shifted to the side.

Dean desperately ignored the whiny, needy part of his brain that immediately told him that Castiel was too far away and focused on his beer.

 

x

 

“Alright, Han, how do you feel about coming home with me, huh?” Dean crooned down at his sourdough starter. He and Gabriel had decided to close Trick or Sweet for a few days over Christmas, as they usually did, and so Dean would need to take his yeasty pet home for the break so that he could feed it.

“And people think I’m the crazy one,” Gabriel muttered behind him.

Dean turned, grinning lazily as he leaned back on the counter, watching Gabriel spray down his chocolate preparation area. “Don’t make fun of my sourdough, unless you want to be called out for yelling at your chocolate when it overheats.”

Gabriel shot up a look that said touché, and continued scrubbing. “So, what plans have you got for Christmas, Dean-o?”

“Why?” Dean asked suspiciously. “You asked me this last year, then you snuck into my kitchen when I was out and gift wrapped everything in my refrigerator, remember? I’m not falling for that prank again.”

“Oh, come on,” Gabriel protested, waving his spray bottle. “That’s not even a prank, it’s just Christmas cheer.”

Dean snorted and folded his arms across his chest. “I wasn’t very cheery when I had to go through several layers of paper to get to my bacon first thing in the morning, let me tell you.”

Gabriel rolled his eyes. “Alright, alright. Seriously though, you have any plans? Kali wants us to go to her sister’s, so I’ll be spending the day being harassed by Durukti’s snotty, evil little crotch goblins.”

“They love you,” Dean pointed out with a grin. “All kids do.”

“Yes, and so they should, but those are hell spawn, Dean, not children. Borne by the devil herself.”

Dean shrugged. “Well, I don’t have big plans. Sam and family are going to come over tomorrow to spend Christmas Eve evening with us, then I think it’s just me and Cas. None of your brothers are in town—thank god—so Cas doesn’t have any visitors. I think he’s happy to keep it that way.”

“First Christmas for the newlyweds, adorable.” Gabriel threw his damp cloth into the laundry bucket and dusted off his hands.

“You can’t even begin to make fun of us, Gabriel. This marriage was all your idea. And even with just me and Cas,” Dean said with a devious grin, “I think I’ll have a much better holiday than you will.”

Gabriel grumbled under his breath. He pushed up his sleeves, grabbing the broom from the corner where it lived and heading toward the front of his store. “Be catty all you like, Dean, at least with Kali I have a chance of getting something kinky for Christmas.”

Dean wrinkled his nose as Gabriel disappeared out past the register. Sure, Gabriel was cute—Dean wasn’t a blind man, and he appreciated guys as much as the next comfortably bisexual dude. But there were still some things he just didn’t want to think about his friend.

Making sure that Han the starter was moved over next to his coat so that he didn’t forget him, Dean pushed up his white chef’s jacket sleeves and dug into the last of their dishes. Elbow deep in suds and bits of floating pastry, Dean’s mind wandered.

Maybe, just maybe, he kept considering, Gabriel didn’t have to be the only one to “get some” this Christmas.

Perhaps Castiel didn’t feel as Dean did, his growing affection for the taciturn writer becoming an all-encompassing feeling as the months went on. But it did seem, Dean considered, like he might be interested in a sub, if not a partner.

Dean pulled the plug in the sink and began clearing away the last of his ingredients, making sure the kitchen was ready to be closed down.

Ever since his trip to the mall with Castiel a couple of days prior, Dean had been running circles in his head. Something had to give soon, Dean realized. He was going to have to see if Castiel was even slightly interested in him as more than a great friend, or he was going to have to just shut it down and stop thinking about it, because he was going crazy. Every time he walked downstairs in the morning to get ready for work, he had to avoid his own living room like the plague, just so that he wouldn’t make a fool of himself over the flexing, agile body that was bent over a yoga mat near the window.

Not that when he was twisted into alluring positions showing off his abs was the only time that Dean struggled to be close to Castiel. Everything about the man was somehow enthralling; his voice, his laugh, his small, oddly serious smile. The way he’d rest his hand on Dean sometimes, and Dean would feel like the only person in the world that mattered. The way he’d watch Dean so intently, as if he’d rather look at Dean than anything else.

Yup, Dean was a mess.

Dean’s nature was naturally rather domestic; it came from looking after Sam when he was young, he figured. Dean showed his love for people with actions, not with words; he cared for them, he looked after them. And he’d definitely been doing that with Castiel, he now realized. He cooked every night, he made Castiel coffee every morning, he even offered to do laundry. He always tried to think of little things that would make Castiel smile. Those tiny smiles felt so precious when he earned them, even if—he was strangely proud to say—he got more of them from the guy than anyone else seemed to.

The Russian honey cake that sat on the counter near Dean’s coat (and Han the starter, now) was a testament to that. A towering, golden creation made from many layers of thin, honey soaked cake, it was protected by a little plastic cloche over the plate. Dean had spent several weeks researching and trialing the perfect recipe, as he usually did with new products, and he was pretty convinced that he had a good one now. 

But this cake wasn’t even for the store. He’d just thought that Castiel might like a little taste of home.

Yeah, Dean had it bad. It was time to do something about it.

“I’m ready to lock up,” Gabriel announced, moving back into the kitchen from the front. “Everything is cleaned down and ready to sleep for a few days. You about done, Dean-o?”

“Yeah,” Dean said, wiping down the sink. “Everything is ready as far as I can tell. Time to close the doors, get drunk, and do Christmas.”

“I’ll drink to that!” Gabriel agreed, raising an imaginary glass as he walked across to the hook on the wall where his coat and scarf sat. Winding the obnoxiously striped scarf around his throat, he paused in front of the door. “You and Cas have a good holiday, yeah? I’ll text you.”

Dean nodded, taking a few steps across the kitchen to clap his friend on the shoulder. “Sure, buddy. Have a good one; we’ve both worked really hard this year. We deserve it.”

Cold wind and a burst of snowflakes welcomed Gabriel out into the back lot of the store, and only a few minutes later, they greeted Dean also.

He walked through the flurries, enjoying the quiet of the snowy backroads that led to his home. Their home. His and Castiel’s. Because for once, Dean realized with an odd little thrill, he wasn’t spending Christmas alone, and for a change, that didn’t mean he was crashing Sam and Jess’ Christmas. He’d see them, sure, but this year his own home was full of the season.

It hadn’t felt like that for years, not since Dean was a kid. The Christmas he’d spent with his ex, Lisa, had been a good one. But that had mostly been about her son, Ben; the kid was awesome, and that Christmas had been all about him. But this was different, in his own house, on his own terms, with Castiel. A magical, cozy, grown-ups only Christmas.

Dean hurried through the cold, cake under his arm, dreaming-up additions for his favorite egg nog recipe and wondering what he should make Castiel and himself for dinner. If the guy does want a submissive, Dean pondered in amusement, then he’s got me pretty well-trained already. And, importantly, Dean didn’t mind one bit.

“Cas!” he called, bursting through the front door. “I’m home!”

“In here!” Castiel called from the kitchen. Dean could hear the smile in his voice. “Welcome home, Dean.”

Dean kicked the front door closed awkwardly, juggling the small jar of bread starter and the plated cake. “Got a surprise for you, Cas!” he announced, striding through the hallway and down the single step into the kitchen.

The kitchen table was covered in papers, with fat red markings all over them, and pages scattered haphazardly all across the surface. In between the strewn papers, Castiel’s laptop rested, a document full of text on the screen.

As Dean arrived, dripping tiny clumps of snow onto the tiles, Castiel began to gather up his pages, picking them up one by one, and organizing them methodically as if the puddle of pages on the table made some kind of sense to him that Dean couldn’t begin to make out. Castiel raised an eyebrow, looking down at Dean’s snow-covered shoes.

“Oops, sorry—one sec,” Dean said without thinking, popping his items down on the counter and going to put his shoes in their spot. When he returned, Castiel was smiling. He looked tired, though, and his hair was extra wild, Dean noticed. “Bad day?” 

“How’d you know?” Castiel asked, head tilted.

Dean gave a small smirk. “Hair. You do that thing to your hair when you’re stressed and thinking about something too hard.”

Castiel reached upward, smoothing down his thick, dark locks with an almost embarrassed smile. “Yes, well. You may be right, there.”

“I know I am.”

For a long moment Castiel merely gazed at Dean softly, though when the silence began to stretch out, he straightened. Clearing his throat, and reverted to a confident, pointed smile. “You said you had a surprise for me?”

“Yeah!” Dean grinned, finding himself excited to discover what Castiel would think of his creation. “Close your eyes,” he said.

Castiel raised one eyebrow slowly, dark and questioning, and it hit Dean the same way that look always did.

“Sorry,” Dean murmured. “Please, close your eyes? I brought something home for you, that’s all.”

Nodding, smiling understandingly, Castiel sat up straighter, rolling his shoulders back, and closed his eyes. “Very well,” he said.

Dean quickly took the creation he’d so carefully carried from the bakery out of its box and eased the cake board it sat on very cautiously down in front of Castiel, turning it nervously this way and that, trying to make sure that Castiel’s first view was the best. He grabbed a fork from the drawer to his left. Suddenly nervous, he spent a moment squinting at it from different angles, an odd panic knotting in this chest. This was stupid. What if he hadn’t gotten it right? What if Castiel didn’t even like—

“Dean,” Castiel said, his hand raising blindly to find Dean’s wrist. Managing to grip it without opening his eyes, Castiel’s thumb soothed small circles over Dean’s pulse point. “Whatever it is, I’m going to love it. Don’t be nervous.”

The feel of the pad of Castiel’s thumb stroking at his skin sent little buzzes of electricity up Dean’s arm. When it withdrew only a moment later, Dean bit down on his lower lip so as not to make an embarrassing noise of loss. “Open your eyes,” he said instead, low. “It’s nothing special, just a little something that I thought…”

Dean trailed off as Castiel opened his eyes, big blues resting immediately on the cake on the table. He didn’t even blink, looking at it unerringly. “You made this for me.” It wasn’t a question.

Answering anyway, Dean nodded. He rested his hip on the table, looking down and watching Castiel anxiously, despite the other man’s attempt at reassurance.

Moj khoroshiy mal’chik,” Castiel breathed out. His face softening. “Thank you, Dean. It looks amazing—just like what I’d have at home, or better. Will you share it with me?”

Mal’chik…

Dean tried to answer, but his brain was stuck on the soft Russian words that had fallen from Castiel’s lips. It was getting easier to make out the odd word here or there; full sentences weren’t quite Dean’s speed, but sometimes the words he knew connected, and Castiel’s warm Good morning s and teasing My husband s were clear.

“Say it again,” Dean said, frozen.

Castiel’s brows pulled together, the tan skin above his nose forming the little bump that Dean was so fond of. “Will you share—”

“No,” Dean interrupted, turning so that he was fully facing Castiel. He let go of the table, his hands in nervous fists. “The whole thing. Say it again, please.”

For a long moment their eyes were locked, and Dean watched Castiel’s Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed hard. He was looking down at Castiel, and it didn’t feel right; very slowly, Dean crouched, until he was kneeling on the tile, his eyes locked with Castiel’s wide, intense stare.

“Please,” Dean said again, more quietly, once his knees were on the floor. He settled back onto his heels, immediately feeling a tempting tingle that pushed away all the alarm bells and loud voices in his head that were trying to tell him he was on shaky ground. “Just one more time.”

Castiel looked down at Dean kneeling before him, his tongue darting out just once, nervous, to moisten his large lips. To his credit, when he responded, his voice was strong and his gaze didn’t falter. “ Moj mal’chik,” he said again, low and deep and gravelly. “Will you share with me?”

My boy, Dean finally heard. My sweet boy.

Understanding, Dean knew, was only half the battle. Responding was another thing entirely. How would Castiel like him to respond? Did he really want him to, and if he did—did he have a preference for how he was addressed, like this? Dean knew of a few options; both from his research and from Castiel’s own books. But what if he got it wrong? What if his grammar was a mess or he used the wrong word or...Dean took a deep breath. He was too far in to worry about that; Castiel could correct him later. If he wanted, anyway.

Dean forced himself to meet Castiel’s eyes. His voice confident and practiced, even if everything else in him was jelly, Dean softly, nervously said, “ Da, gospodin.

Yes, Sir.

Castiel’s jaw slackened fractionally, his breath puffing out in an audible gasp. “ Bojemoi, ” he cursed softly, his eyes darkening. 

 

Chapter Text

Dean’s knees were protesting the tiled floor of the kitchen. Drips of moisture framed his temples as the snowflakes that clung to his hair melted and moistened the strands. He was close enough to Castiel that he could smell his cologne; something musky and yet fresh, like lemons and cinnamon all at once. The scent of the fresh cake on the table tinted the air, the lavender honey that Dean had soaked it in tugging at his senses. 

There was not a sound beyond two sets of breaths, elevated and unsure.

Castiel looked as if he was struggling to make some kind of decision; though what, Dean couldn’t be sure. He felt like his message had been received, though, and he wouldn’t push his husband beyond anything he was comfortable with. So, Dean forced his lips into a slow, relaxed smile. Reaching up to place his hands flat on Castiel’s thighs— Oh, sweet Jesus, he was touching the thighs— Dean slowly pushed himself back up off his knees. He didn’t break eye contact, not wanting Castiel to think that he’d changed his mind… He was just letting him know that this, now, was just a message. A confirmation of whatever this thing was between them. It was a choice, and one Castiel didn’t have to make right that second.

Even so, Castiel started slightly, his hand coming up to grab loosely at Dean’s wrist as Dean rose.

“Dean—" he rumbled, unsure, cutting himself off sharply.

Dean smiled again, pushing past the nervous air overfilling his lungs. “Yeah?” he asked casually, before reaching toward the cake on the table, his fingers moving to the handle of the simple silver fork he’d placed on the board next to it.

Castiel’s hand slid cautiously from Dean’s wrist down to his palm. He pushed gently, guiding Dean’s hand down to the tabletop, before letting go entirely to take the fork from his other hand. Castiel’s stare never wavering. Dean swallowed harshly as he watched Castiel break into the dessert with the side of the fork, a neat mouthful of honey and cake balanced on the tines.

Slowly, questioningly, Castiel’s other hand came up to Dean’s chin. He had to reach up, rising from his seat, but he grasped Dean’s jaw lightly between his thumb and forefingers, applying just enough pressure to turn Dean’s head and angle it down. The pad of his thumb trailed up slowly, brushing over Dean’s lower lip, encouraging his mouth to open wordlessly.

Dean’s heartbeat was thundering in his ears as Castiel brought the fork up to his lips, not looking away, even for a moment.

He was gentle, carefully easing the sticky treat into Dean’s mouth with an air of caution that Dean wasn’t sure if he was grateful for or already impatient of. Dean sucked in a soft breath as sweetness flooded his mouth; the light, spongy layers of cake soaked with the local organic honey that he’d flavored with lavender and sprinkles of nutmeg. It was divine. 

Though Dean was pretty sure that the moment would have been divine if he was being fed a fifty-cent hot dog, but even so, the decadent treat added something .

Castiel’s eyes followed as Dean’s tongue darted out to collect a crumb from his lower lip.

“Good?” Castiel enquired in a soft rumble, and Dean wasn’t quite sure if he meant the cake or his actions, with the way his hand still held Dean’s jaw in place, tender but firm.

Regardless, Dean huffed out a shaky breath. “Yes… Perfect.” He desperately wanted to add something else to the end of the sentence; Sir, Master, Castiel . But he wouldn’t say anything like that again, not until he was asked to. It felt like there was too much at stake.

The fork returned to the cake, spun sideways to cut another morsel. This time, still holding Dean so that he was guided to watch, Castiel brought the mouthful to his own mouth.

Dean was mesmerized as Castiel wrapped his lips around the silverware, tugging the cake within, crumbs tumbling onto his tongue as he collected every last scrap.

The asshole let out a godforsaken moan, lush and long and wholly inappropriate for any scenario except, perhaps, the one they were indulging in.

Motherfucker, Dean grumbled mentally, trying to ignore the rush of blood southward caused by the noise. Castiel knew exactly what he was doing—Dean was pretty convinced by then that he’d always known, and that Dean was the one who’d been slow to catch on.

With his fingers still tenderly grasping at Dean’s jaw, keeping his attention, Castiel brought his whole focus back to Dean. “You’ve been learning Russian,” he said—a statement, not a question.

With a tiny flash of embarrassment, Dean lowered his eyes.

“No,” Castiel murmured softly. “When I speak to you, I expect you to look at me.”

“I—yes,” Dean confessed, dragging his eyes back up from Castiel’s tanned neck to meet his gaze once more. “I wanted to know what you said whenever you’d drift off into Russian, and I just… Well, I thought it might be nice for you sometimes. If I could speak a bit, once I’d learned.”

Castiel’s smile slowly rose up his face and lit his eyes bright blue. With one hand still claiming Dean’s jaw and the silver fork in the other, Castiel leaned in slowly, tilting Dean’s face as he did so that his breath blew hot and close across Dean’s ear. Dean could hear the coy, teasing smile in Castiel’s voice even if he couldn’t see it, even if he could only feel the tiniest brush of his lips across Dean’s skin as he moved in and whispered breathlessly, “ Such a good boy .”

The tingling shudder that ran down Dean’s spine was beyond his control—and he made no attempt to hide it. After all, Castiel knew exactly what he was damn well doing. For a long moment, Dean thought the whole world might have frozen, but as Castiel leaned back it turned out just to be his own heart that had stopped. He let out a soft, whimpering noise at the loss of Castiel being so close, too dazed to even be embarrassed by it.

For a long moment, they just looked at each other. Dean studied every inch of Castiel’s face that he could see; he could still pick out a strange apprehension and indecision in his eyes, something deep inside the blue that was still assessing, still not quite sure—but how? What could Castiel possibly still be doubtful of at this point? Wasn’t he getting what he wanted?

Dean swallowed, harsher than intended, and Castiel’s fingers slowly slipped from Dean’s chin. He lowered the fork to the table, and it sat there looking forlorn, a streak of honey along the tines. When Castiel spoke again, his voice was calmer and had lost the breathless quality it’d had only moments before. His eyes seemed clear, whatever had been pulling at him buried away.

“The cake is exquisite, Dean. I’m honored that you thought to make it for me. Is this a Christmas gift?” Castiel asked, his head tilted inquisitively.

“Nah,” Dean said, breathing carefully as he smiled. “That’s just because. You deserve something way better than just a cake for Christmas. Guess you’ll find out the day after tomorrow, huh?”

Castiel nodded, the slightest flush to his cheeks that was somehow entirely endearing. “Well, then, thank you. Just because.”

With a small nod, Dean took a deliberate step back from the table. He needed to put some space between them, some time. Castiel had his options laid out before him now—Dean hoped, anyway—and Dean would give him the room to work them out. He moved toward the hallway, turning back only when Castiel called to him.

“Dean?”

“Yes?”

“Did Sam confirm that they’re going to come over tomorrow afternoon for gifts?”

Dean nodded hastily. “Yeah, he did. They’ll be here around four. I’ll cook, we’ll spoil Mary, then they’ll get a cab home after a few drinks. After, it’s just you and me for Christmas Day.”

Castiel’s smile in return was glowing. “That sounds wonderful.”

Their eyes remained locked for a long moment, and Dean wavered for a few breaths as he stood at the beginning of the small hallway to the stairs. Castiel’s face was a novel very much like one of his own; there was an obvious heat and desire throughout, but there was something else, a layer of unknown apprehension, some kind of mystery that the reader still had to solve. Dean could see it; something was holding Castiel back from claiming him, and Dean couldn’t quite figure out what it was.

But the fact was that, now, Dean knew. He could see the need in Castiel’s face, in the way his big blue eyes followed Dean’s every movement. Castiel wanted Dean.

So why wasn’t he taking him?

Dean gave another warm smile before he forced himself to turn, heading toward the stairs. He wasn’t sure what had just happened. It hadn’t ended how he’d hoped, but it sure didn’t feel like a rejection. As he made his way up to his room to change out of his snowy clothes and into some cozy plaid pajamas, Dean turned over all the information he had gathered in his mind. They were teetering on the edge; what would it take to push Castiel over?

He was definitely a dominant—that was now almost painfully obvious in every move he made, every tiny touch and soft command, now that Dean was paying attention. And he wanted Dean at least as a sub… He clearly desired him, Castiel’s brazen looks left no question there.

Perhaps he’s not sure what I really want, Dean thought as he pulled a soft, old shirt over his head. Maybe he’s not the “go a few rounds and move on” type. Maybe he wants to know that I understand exactly what I’m getting into… Maybe we need to talk.

It wasn’t the most pleasant realization. Dean was not the best communicator in the world, any single one of his exes would have said so. But in the kind of relationship that Castiel seemed to be looking for, it was easier. He could hand the reins to somebody else and just answer questions.

So, Dean decided, smiling as he began to lug his clothes hamper out into the hallway, maybe I just need to show him, to coax him into talking about it…

“My boy,” Castiel had breathed down in the kitchen—and many times before, Dean now realized. “My good boy…” 

Well, Dean would just have to show Castiel how much of a good boy he could be.

 

x

 

“Deeeee!” Mary shrieked happily, her chubby little legs kicking as Dean threw her up in the air. It was only a few inches from his hands, but the small girl always acted as if she was flying, her arms flung out to the sides comically.

“Are you ready for another present, baby girl?” Dean said gleefully, talking right over Sam’s desperate groan. Jess hid a smile behind her hand.

“Please!” Mary squealed. With a delighted grin, Dean zoomed her across the room like an airplane to where their small, heavily decorated tree sat in the corner near the bookcases. It was surrounded by tattered paper and rolled up balls of tape, chunks of ripped boxes, and ribbons galore. The room was as full of Christmas as they could make it. Dean had added a small Ikea desk under the window a month or so back so that Castiel could work there when the kitchen was occupied. The room felt a little cluttered, but it was definitely made more so by the sheer volume of Christmas decorations. It was cozy, Dean had declared, if a little glittery.

As the toddler wrapped her fat little fingers around the next paper-covered present that Castiel—who was kneeling under the tree and half-buried in giftwrap—held out to her, Jess leaned over to Sam, whispering something into her husband’s ear, past all the hair.

With a nod, Sam looked over to Dean. “After this one, maybe Jess and I should take Mary home, it’s way past her bedtime already. She can open anything else tomorrow at our place.”

Dean nodded, well aware of the hazards of an overstimulated kid. “Sounds good. I’m just glad she liked everything.”

Castiel gave a rumbling laugh. “I think we bought almost every noisy plastic thing in the toy store—of course she liked them.” In his lap, next to the tree, Mary was elatedly tearing strips of polar bear-covered paper from a square box.

Sam rolled his eyes, though his grin was fond as he rose from his awkward, folded pose in front of the couch. “You guys sure did. Dean’s bad enough at spoiling her on his own, we should’ve known it’d be worse with two uncles.”

“Well,” Castiel said, steadying the over-enthusiastic toddler as she practically toppled with excitement at her new toy, “Christmas is all about the children, yes?” He didn’t get a chance to look at Sam or Jess for an answer, because Mary began screeching in delight, turning to wrap her short arms around Castiel’s neck. He chuckled over her shoulder, pulling the tags from the latest Fisher-Price creation as he gave it to her. “Oh, look at that, Miss Mary-Ellen! Santa got you a musical bumblebee!”

Dean’s heart melted into a warm, squishy puddle in the bottom of his stomach. Nope, nope, he chastised himself quickly. None of that. That’s not what this is, not what Cas wants…but fuck me, he’s adorable with kids. As Mary smacked a wet, slobbery kiss onto the side of Castiel’s face for him to ‘give to Santa’, Dean let out a small sigh. Just shoot me, Jesus.

Busying himself as best he could before he accidentally made a fool out of himself, Dean started to gather up arm-loads of crumpled paper and tape, standing and making to move toward the kitchen.

“Hey, lemme help you with that,” Sam said, his giant sasquatch frame making awful cracking noises as he stretched himself out. He grabbed another pile of gift-wrap and followed Dean into the kitchen.

Stuffing the remains into a large blue trash bag, Dean smiled over at Sam. “Thanks, dude. It was great to have you guys over for a bit.”

“Nah, it’s us that should be thanking you; spoiling Mary and letting us crash your coupley Christmas Eve.”

“Funny,” Dean said, giving a tiny eye roll before ducking into the refrigerator to grab himself a fresh beer.

“Is it?” Sam asked suddenly.

Dean froze, head in the refrigerator, fingers curling over the metal cap of a bottle. “What do you mean?”

“I’m just saying,” Sam began more carefully, “that you seem pretty well suited, that’s all.”

Tugging the beer toward himself and straightening slowly, Dean gave a dismissive shrug. “So?”

Sam rolled his eyes, turning toward the sink and beginning to run some water over the couple of dishes and glasses that they’d used over the past few hours. “Fine, Dean. Whatever.”

Dean watched for a few moments as Sam squeezed weird yellow dish soap into the sink with a loud farting noise and a tiny bubble. Dean had always used the blue kind of soap, but then Castiel arrived and proclaimed that they needed some fancy biodegradable kind so as not to kill fish, or something-something… His lips had been moving, so Dean had been distracted. He’d switched out the dang soap anyway. Taking a deep breath, Dean turned so that he could rest his back on the counter next to Sam, not facing him, focusing on his beer bottle instead.

“Well, maybe you’re right,” Dean mumbled.

To his credit, Sam just kept on washing the remaining couple of dishes. “I know I am,” he said calmly.

“You know you are?” Dean questioned, raising an eyebrow as he tugged at the label on his bottle of Margiekugels.

“Oh, come on, Dean, I’m not blind.” Sam turned to fix Dean with a pointed look before he grabbed the next plate. “I am well aware that you are head-over-heels for that guy, I’m just not sure if you’re aware of it.”

Dean spluttered feebly as he twisted the cap off his drink. “Wait a minute—that’s not, I’m not… I mean—”

Sam gave out a low chuckle, nudging Dean aside and reaching for a towel. “Oh, so what is it that you’re telling yourself?”

Dean was silent for a moment before he muttered down into the neck of his beer, “He’s just pretty hot, that’s all. And yeah, I kinda like him, I guess.”

With a disbelieving huff of breath, Sam shook his head as he rubbed the towel over his arms. “I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, Dean. But you know how messy that could get, right?”

Crossing his arms defensively, Dean groaned. “Yes, Sam, geez. Don’t you think I’ve thought about that? That it’s not been the only thing I’ve thought about for months? The ‘what if it doesn’t go well and we still have to convince I.C.E. that we love each other’, the ‘what if I put myself out there and it makes him uncomfortable and he doesn’t want to do this anymore’? Come on, man. You know me. It’s been every friggin’ waking moment.”

“Months?” Sam asked quietly, something sympathetic in his voice.

“Oh, shut up,” Dean grumbled, refocusing on his beer after taking a long swig.

Sam, for his part, looked utterly torn, turning the towel over in his hands again and again.

“What’s up with you?” Dean asked after a second, turning to watch the dish towel as it traveled around Sam’s huge knuckles.

“I—Well, it’s a bit of a weird spot to be in. I’m your brother, and honestly, I really want to point out that Cas would be lucky to have you, and you’d be great together, and he’s clearly absolutely crazy about you. But…with things the way they are, this whole immigration situation…” Sam trailed off, sighing a little. “It’s risky, Dean. Not even just emotionally, if he can't stay—If something messes up and you can’t pull this off, it’s a big deal for both of you. Getting caught would ruin your life, Dean. Gabriel’s too, if they found out his connection to it.”

Dean nodded slowly, pursing his lips as he studied the foam inside the bottle. “Yeah,” he answered quietly.

“So?” asked Sam.

“So, what?”

“What are you going to do about it, jerk?” Sam sounded exasperated again.

Easy, Dean thought. I just won’t tell Cas that there’s some actual crushing happening here, that maybe I’d like to actually date him. If we keep it to a friends-with-benefits thing, just a sub and a Dom in close proximity who are both attractive and single…

Straightening up, Dean plastered on a wide smile. “Nothing, Sam. I’m not gonna fuck this up over a little crush. It’s not like I’m in love with the guy,” he added, laughing. “If we can get through the next few months, convince Immigration that we’re legit…then we can relax for a while. Go our separate ways, if we have to.”

Sam was scowling at him oddly, but Dean shrugged, spinning around to reach for the bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label which sat at the back of the kitchen counter and called out to him alluringly. “Maybe once you guys take Mary to bed, I’ll get some blankets and marshmallows out, and crack open this beauty outside,” Dean said to Sam with a wink. “As my awesome brother gives such great gifts.”

“Oh, drinking,” Sam said dryly. “That’s not you avoiding your problems at all.”

“Ouch, bitch.”

Sam’s smile was sugary sweet. “Oh, don’t worry, I predicted it. That’s why I got you the bottle in the first place—and gave Cas the fancy Russian vodka, too.”

Dean found he couldn’t really say much to that.

 

x

 

It was a beautiful night, despite the season. The sky was inky dark, with only a few scudding snow-clouds gathering overhead to occasionally obstruct the clear view of the waxing moon and its attending stars. Dean pulled the cozy blanket he’d dragged from the living room more firmly around his shoulders, letting out a contented humming noise as he rocked his head up against the back of his wooden Adirondack chair. He gazed up at the night sky, smiling, his near-empty whiskey glass dangling from his fingers.

“Another?” Castiel’s voice came from Dean’s right, rumbling low through the flickering light of the fire pit in front of them.

“Yeah, why not,” Dean said, his words not as crisp as they should be, but not sloppy just yet. “It’s not like we’ve gotta go anywhere in the morning.”

Castiel sat up, and the clinking sound of glass and unscrewing caps followed for a moment, Dean’s glass getting heavier as he gazed up at the sky. “There we go,” Castiel said, tapping the bottom of his glass against the rim of Dean’s with a cheery clink . “I’m pretty sure it’s gone midnight by now, so Merry Christmas, Dean.”

Blinking, Dean tore his gaze aware from the star-filled diorama and let his head loll to the side, grinning over at Castiel’s face, only a few inches away on his matching chair pulled up right next to Dean’s. “So, does that mean we can exchange gifts now?” Dean asked hopefully.

With a low chuckle, Castiel nodded. “I suppose that’s reasonable. I’ll go and get them.”

Dean nodded, taking Castiel’s drink for him as he went inside. Too buzzed to be coy about it, Dean watched with a smile as Castiel’s tight ass—wrapped enticingly, and amusingly, in tacky Christmas pajamas—disappeared across the patio and back through the kitchen door.

It had been an awesome evening—Sam and Jess had left with baby Mary after a great evening of kid-spoiling, beers and excessive snack consumption. Once they’d departed, Dean had suggested to Castiel that they grab some blankets and ingredients for s’mores, and head out to the firepit in the back yard with the fancy bottles of alcohol Sam had gifted them both. They’d spent several hours since just chatting about nothing, reliving the day through the haze of relaxation and several drinks. Dean couldn’t recall a more perfect Christmas Eve.

With a squeak, the glass door proclaimed Castiel stepping back out onto the patio. Dean’s old cozy work boots that he’d tugged on over his pajamas announced Castiel’s path back toward Dean through the small drifts of old snow. “Ho, ho, ho!” Castiel announced teasingly, flopping down into his chair next to Dean with a few packages tucked into his chest.

“You’re the first Santa I’ve ever actually wanted to sit in the lap of,” Dean couldn’t help but quip, grinning teasingly across at Castiel. So what? The alcohol was loosening his lips a little. Didn’t mean it wasn’t true.

Castiel laughed, shaking his head as he shoved a box at Dean. “Wow, so cheesy. This is why I’ve never written a book set during Christmas.”

Dean grinned back at him, settling the box into his lap but gesturing to Castiel. “You first, buddy.”

With a small smirk, Castiel tugged his blanket back around himself, and propped his feet up on the edge of the fire pit next to Dean’s before he reached to pull the first of Dean’s carefully wrapped gifts into his lap. 

They were carefully wrapped, but they certainly weren’t expertly wrapped. 

“This is a lot of tape, Dean,” Castiel pointed out, seeming unable to help himself. “You’re sure you really wanted me to have this?”

“Look, there’s a reason I had you wrap the stuff for Mary, okay?” Dean grumbled. “I’m crappy at this kinda stuff. When Sam was a kid, I’d steal presents from the store every year because we couldn’t afford anything, and I knew my Dad wouldn’t bother. So, I’d try to get what Sam needed for school and some fun stuff and pretend it was from our Dad. I’m not proud of it now, but at the time I just wanted Sam to have a gift under the tree like other kids,” Dean admitted with a little shrug. “Anyway, when we got older, he told me that he always knew that they were from me, not Dad, because the wrapping was so truly tragic.”

Castiel was silent for a moment, and when Dean looked up he found penetrating blue eyes boring straight into him from beneath a soft frown. Castiel seemed to sense the question in Dean’s raised eyebrow, and he gave an almost embarrassed shrug. “I’m sorry you had to do things like that as a child, Dean,” he confessed. “Though I’m sure that Sam appreciates all that you did very much since he grew old enough to really understand it.”

Awkward, Dean shrugged again. “Whatever, man. He’s my brother, y’know. We were all we had. Anyway—open that gift before I decide you don’t want it!”

Huffing with laughter, Castiel tore desperately at the tape. The first package he opened was soft and squishy, and it fought back against his attempts to rip it open. Dean watched with a grin, not lifting a finger to help. Eventually, Castiel managed to destroy enough tape to gain admittance. Throwing it down to the side of his chair, he gave Dean a joking glare in the flickering firelight. “Asshole,” he grumbled, smiling.

“You’re welcome,” Dean said with a wink. “I hope you can see what it is in this light.”

Castiel squinted down at the now-unraveled, rampant fabric that took up his whole lap. He pulled it this way and that, squinting, a slow grin covering his features. “Dean, is this…?”

“A snuggie!” Dean crowed. “You’re not really an American unless you’ve had a snuggie. But that one is special.”

The cream fabric was covered in small, dark text, which Castiel had lifted from his lap to squint at, his expression slackening. “This…” he trailed off for a moment, before looking back up at Dean, looking stunned. “These are excerpts from my books.”

Dean couldn’t help but laugh at how amazed Castiel looked. “Yup. All of the parts that the internet claims are your best…and a few of my favorites. I’ll leave you to guess which are which.”

The low rumble of Castiel’s laughter never failed to make Dean’s chest swell. “This is a wonderful gift, Dean,” he said, grinning. “I’ve never had anything like this before . Honestly, back home, I didn’t even have many copies of my own books, never mind anything fun like this to celebrate what I’d done.”

“I figured as much,” Dean admitted. “Hopefully that means you’ll like the other thing I got for you, too.”

Castiel raised an eyebrow slowly, before digging around under his snuggie to pull out the remaining two packages—one more for him, in Dean’s signature atrocious wrapping, and another that he passed over to Dean with a little smile, before returning his attention to the miles of tape. “ Yey-Bogu,” he muttered under his breath, grinning fondly as he gripped hold of a piece of tape that wrapped all the way around the square gift and pulling it directly upward. It peeled up, onward, onward, until he ran out of arm. Stifling a laugh, he looked up at Dean. “Did you even try?”

“Rude,” Dean said. “The wrapping is part of the gift!”

Castiel snorted. “Then God help me with whatever is inside.”

Dean knocked his knee into Castiel’s with a faux-pout, though he stayed silent; Castiel had finally cracked his way in to the second gift.

“Oh…” Castiel breathed out, his eyes widening. He just sat for a moment, smoothing his fingers over the intricate, leather bound book in his lap, before he looked back up at Dean, blinking. “This is mine.”

Dean nodded slowly, suddenly awkward. What if it was a terrible gift?

“This is the first book I ever published,” Castiel said, almost to himself, his eyes fixed on his lap where he still held the engraved, handmade book. “You had this made just for me,” he said after a moment, looking up at Dean with a breathtakingly blue smile that glimmered darkly in the firelight. “This is incredible, Dean.”

Dean shrugged awkwardly. “It’s not that big a deal, dude. Your writing is so good, you deserve something to really showcase your achievements.”

In the dim moonlight and shadows from the flickering fire, it was difficult to tell if Castiel blushed a little or if it was just a trick of the light, but Dean decided to believe it anyway. Glad that his gifts had gone over well, Dean turned his attention to the package in his own lap, flipping it over so that he could find the bow on top. He eyed it with a smirk, before knocking his knee into Castiel’s. “You don’t get extra points for the packaging being better than mine, but it is pretty, I’ll admit.”

Castiel grinned, gesturing to the gift. “It’s not much. It might even be boring, I don’t know. But I couldn’t resist it.”

Intrigued, Dean slid his fingers under the edge of the gift wrap, pulling it back to find a brown, unmarked cardboard box within.

“I remember you telling me,” Castiel began quietly as Dean eased it open, “that you once had a terrible experience—that we shall not detail—due to parking Baby on the road outside. You mentioned ‘heinous miscreants’, I believe.”

In the box on Dean’s lap, there was a gleaming, perfect, original wing mirror for a 1967 Chevrolet Impala.

“Oh my God,” Dean choked out, not even ashamed that tears pricked the back of his eyes. “Cas, where did you even get this? This looks brand new, it must have cost ten times what my shitty refurbished mirror did, I can’t—”

“You can,” Castiel said firmly. “And you will. You’ve done so much for me in the past few months. Let me spoil you a little, please.” 

Dean’s mouth was dry as he helplessly trailed his fingers across the flawless chrome, but he couldn’t contain the smile that pinched his cheeks. He felt warm—from the fire, he told himself—and oddly cared-for in a way he couldn’t put his finger on. Grasping at his whiskey glass where he’d left it on the arm of the chair, Dean threw back the freshly poured liquor to stop his mouth doing something much more ill-advised. Grinning stupidly as the alcohol tingled through his core, Dean leaned back into his chair, turning to the side so that he could face Castiel.

“Thank you,” Dean said softly. “That’s…well, probably the most thoughtful gift anyone has ever given me.”

Even in the darkness of the latest hours of night, Dean could make out Castiel’s warm, genuinely pleased smile. Smoothing his smut-covered snuggie over himself, Castiel settled against the wooden back of his chair, rolling onto his side just a little so that he could see Dean. Slowly, be brought his glass to his lips, taking a long sip of vodka as he regarded Dean across the rim.

Neither of them stopped looking at the other, not even when Castiel leaned down across the arm of his chair to pop the glass safely onto the floor. Something was sparking in the night air, and Dean didn’t know what it was, but he knew he was helpless to do anything but obey when the urge came to reach out and run his fingers through Castiel’s hair, smoothing it out. It was stuck up awkwardly where he’d been leaning back against the chair, turning ‘sexily tousled’ into ‘just got fucked’ and Dean just couldn’t look at it like that; it was torture.

It was quiet, only gentle pops and hisses coming from the fire as the occasional snowflake landed amidst the soft crackles of the low, dying flames. So, when Dean’s nails gently raked Castiel’s wild strands back into place, he heard the harsh swallow that followed. He intended to pull back, but his hand didn’t make it; when he heard the tiny gulp of Castiel’s Adam’s apple bobbing, Dean’s fingers curled and dropped, tucking around the edge of Castiel’s jaw and tugging him forward just another inch, two, three.

Not resisting in the slightest, Castiel’s breath felt burning in the cold night air as it hit Dean’s lips.

“Dean…” Castiel breathed, a note of caution in his voice, though he was the one who tilted forward first, discarding the invisible barrier between them.

Castiel’s lips were just as warm as his breath, and as soon as they touched Dean’s own he pushed back into them, seeking their heat. The lingering bitterness of alcohol cut Castiel’s otherwise fresh taste, just a slight variation from the whiskey of Dean’s own tongue. Up close, Castiel still had that enticing smell that Dean had cataloged before, like cinnamon and lemons and something soft, almost vanilla. His lips were goddamn pillowy , huge and dry-looking from a distance, though quickly proving themselves soft and pliant now that they pushed and pulled at Dean’s own, languid and long and unhurried. Castiel’s hand rose to slide his fingers into the short hair at the nape of Dean’s neck with a tiny tug; a miniscule adjustment to the awkward angle of their mouths…and then perfection. 

Kissing someone this perfect, novels always said, should feel like coming home…but Dean felt like he was leaving safe, familiar walls behind as he fell into Castiel, and building something new, and thrilling, and much improved. It was all hot, velveteen tongue and growing electricity as Dean opened up to him, each of them sucking in shaking, audible breaths through the increasingly small space between them. Dean gave a satisfied hum, his hands sliding up to grasp at Castiel’s biceps, wanting to pull his firm chest closer, closer—

Letting out a desperately shuddering breath, Castiel didn’t so much pull back as simply adjust; their lips parted as their foreheads met and rolled, pushing together in the chill air. Castiel’s eyes were squeezed shut, and he pressed his lips together tight as if he was savoring the last of the kiss before his tongue darted out to remoisten his lips. “Shit,” he hissed gently, his shoulders slumping just an inch. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that. I know that for you this isn’t—”

“What? No, no,” Dean said immediately, barely hearing what Castiel was saying, his face tingling with whiskey and Castiel's proximity. His hands slid up across Castiel’s collarbone to rest either side of his neck. Dean’s fingers rested at the front of his throat, the pads of his thumbs on Castiel’s pulse point as they stayed frozen, their foreheads pressed into each other’s still. “Don’t apologize. Kisses are good. Very hot. I’m not trying to say we—”

“You’ve been drinking, a lot,” Castiel cut Dean off, his protest somewhat feeble. He forced out a long, slow breath that Dean could hear the fight in, but his lips didn’t meet Dean’s again.

“I’m fine,” Dean said, his words forceful. “Believe me, this has nothing to do with the alcohol,” he added, unable to stop a small, disbelieving laugh.

“Then,” Castiel said, firm and softly commanding, “it won’t matter if we stop and wait until you’re sober, until we can talk.”

Dean let out a huffing, defeated whine, but it didn’t stop Castiel from pulling back. Dean’s body instantly felt too cold, and a shiver passed through shoulders and neck. From the way he paused to rub gently at Dean’s skin as he stood, Castiel’s departing hands must have felt it, but it didn’t bring him back.

“Come along,” Castiel said quietly, offering a hand down to Dean. “It’s really late. Let’s put some sand on the fire and get to bed.”

Silent, cold, confused, Dean obeyed.

 

x

 

The light that came through Dean’s blinds was weak, but it still gave him pause. As a baker, it was rare that he woke up at any time that wasn’t still dark. No work, settled into his mind, closely followed by, Christmas Day! 

Then the rest of the evening before followed, and he couldn’t help but let out a tiny, self-indulgent groan into his pillow.

Well, shit.

Dean reached across to his nightstand, twisting his clock so that he could see the face of it. 07:18. Very late for Dean, but not bad for someone who went to bed several hours beyond midnight, after an amazing, toe-curling kiss with his best friend-slash-roommate-slash-husband.

Well, shit.

Sighing, Dean rolled completely onto his side, and while withdrawing his hand from the alarm clock he noticed a large glass of water and several Advil perched on the edge of his nightstand. He certainly wouldn’t have had the forethought to put those there, not last night, after stumbling miserably to his bed. They were sat on top of a folded piece of typewriter paper. Dean lifted the glass and downed a good half of it, throwing back the pills, before reaching to unfold the note. It was in Castiel’s easily-identifiable inky scrawl, but with a little squinting Dean made out: I thought you might want these when you wake up. I’m going downstairs to edit out of your way, but I’ll leave some coffee on the warmer for you.

Dean stared at the words for a minute as he sipped his way through the rest of the water, slowly registering the fuzziness in his head. It wasn’t that bad, though, nothing some food and a couple of coffees wouldn’t fix. 

Sliding his feet out of bed to reach for the comfy jeans he’d worn yesterday, Dean smirked as he realized that someone had surreptitiously picked them up from the puddle on the floor that he had most definitely left them in, and folded them neatly, placing them on top of his dresser. Castiel could be such a neat freak at times, he just couldn’t help himself. Dragging them on over his hips, Dean located a clean black t-shirt and threw it on before heading downstairs.

Faint paper-shuffling noises gave away Castiel’s location in the living room as Dean passed it, but the kitchen smelled of warm coffee and pulled him in before he could think to say good morning. Leaning on the counter near the sink, Dean scarfed his way through two bowls of Cookie Crunch cereal while he savored his first cup of coffee. With the edge of the countertop digging into his hip, he surveyed the snowy garden outside. Alright, he was pretty sure that someone further north would laugh at his notion of snowy…but for Kansas, it was pretty dang snowy. Someone had raked out the firepit that morning; it was neat and clean, and there were fresh footprints through the thin layer of flakes that had fallen in the night. Castiel had been busy, it seemed. Dean wondered if he’d slept at all.

Frowning at the notion, Dean turned back to the coffee machine. There was still enough left in the large glass pot for two more cups.

“Then, it won’t matter if we stop and wait until you’re sober, until we can talk,” Dean remembered Castiel saying.

Fine. Dean grabbed a cup from the cupboard and prepared Castiel a coffee. He didn’t have a plan, per se . Or at least… He paused, his fingers around the handle of the mug. Not all of Castiel’s books were explicitly BDSM relationships, but the ones that were, Dean had definitely taken the time to notice some themes. Why not put his research to use?

Taking a deep breath, Dean lifted the coffee cup and moved quietly to the living room. Castiel sat at the small desk Dean had put in for him, in front of the window. There were papers and red markers everywhere in a carefully organized puddle that Dean never understood but Castiel seemed to navigate with ease. He was talking, recording some notes for his editor on a small tape recorder, something that Dean had noticed he often did while he was working, so that he wouldn’t lose his flow and could type them up later. The morning light came through the window in front of the desk, haloing Castiel’s hair as he bent over in concentration. Even in simple black yoga pants and a light blue t-shirt that Dean was sure said something appropriately hippy-ish on the front, Castiel was beautiful.

As he hadn’t been noticed yet, Dean stole a few moments in the doorway just to stare. Then, gathering his determination once more, he softly padded over to the desk, stopping a couple of feet away.

“Good morning, Dean,” Castiel greeted him, his red pen still in hand as he raised his head.

Dean gave Castiel a small smile, not trusting his voice. Eyes locked on Castiel, taking a deep breath, Dean held the coffee cup in both hands and extended it as he slowly, one leg at a time, lowered himself to kneel on the floor.

Castiel’s face was a story as he watched Dean kneel in front of him.

The briefest, momentary flicker of confusion swiftly transitioned into a longing that was held mostly in his eyes, before transforming into a small, dark smile that showed a hint of his teeth. Castiel bit at his lip slowly, before smoothing his features back to neutral. He reached forward, taking the coffee cup from Dean’s hands and placing it on the desk among his papers. “Thank you,” he said quietly, before turning his eyes back to Dean.

Dean bowed his head, resting back on his heels and holding his hands behind his back, crossed at the wrists. He couldn’t see Castiel’s reaction to the pose, but he heard a soft hum of approval. Dean was beginning to get nervous at the silence, but after a couple of moments, Castiel finally spoke again.

“I need to finish up the scene I’m working on. Stay. Then we’ll talk.”

“Yes—” Dean said automatically, before cutting himself off, unsure how to finish the sentence.

Castiel seemed to understand his problem, a smile in his voice as he responded, “Just ‘Sir’, or ‘Castiel’ for negotiation is fine. What you called me the other day in the kitchen was lovely, and is very common in some circles, but it’s a little twee for my tastes. So, let’s keep it simple for you.”

“Yes, Sir,” Dean agreed, his eyes on the floor and his heart in his mouth.

The chair creaked as Castiel turned and got back to work, the squeaky scratching of his red pen as he made notes the only sound, interrupted by the odd slurp of coffee. Dean didn’t dare move, but as time stretched on he grew uncomfortable, not just from the tension that hadn’t yet been resolved but from the hardwood floor against his knees.

Like a mindreader, Castiel spoke up. “Move onto my yoga mat, moj mal’chik. It will be better for your knees.”

Dean hurried to obey, grabbing the foam mat from where it was stashed in the corner down the side of Castiel’s desk. He spread it out and dropped immediately back into kneeling position. He adjusted himself as swiftly as he could—he would show Castiel that he could do this, he’d show how him good he could be. Dean kept his eyes down, but Castiel must have been watching, as he spoke up when Dean was settled.

“Good posture. Hands behind, back straight, eyes down. You’ve done this before.”

“Yes, Sir.” Dean gave a little smile to himself at the tiny bit of praise. Being told he was good, being recognized when he got things right, being praised… He was well aware that was a large portion of why he did this, why it had always felt so right. Daddy issues? Probably. But did it really matter why, when it made him feel so good?

The pen began tracking across the paper again, and Dean focused on the small noise, letting his eyes slip closed as he waited. He wasn’t sure how much time passed, but Dean became aware of the feeling of Castiel watching him before he heard the cap being put back on the pen, and Castiel’s throat cleared.

“I’d like to discuss what you expect from me, and what your limits and preferences are before we start,” he began in a soft rumble. “But do you have any questions for me before we begin that?”

“I, uh, yeah,” Dean mumbled, coughing to clear his throat after being sat so quietly. He knew what he wanted to ask… He just wasn’t sure if he really wanted to know the answer.

“Speak clearly, please.”

Dean took a deep breath and forced it out. “You…hesitated. You’ve been holding back, and I guess I just want to know…why? Why you weren’t sure, why you didn’t…” Dean trailed off, not comfortable enough yet to voice ‘ why didn’t you want me’ , but knowing that at some point, that question would rear up in his own mind and torture him.

“Oh, sweet boy…” Castiel said gently, the chair squeaking as he rose from it. He moved over toward Dean, and Dean felt fingers twist into his hair. He pushed up into them needily as Castiel continued, his words sounding carefully chosen, almost practiced. “Of course I wanted you. I’ve wanted you, like this, since the day we met. You’re beautiful, and almost infinitely arousing, let me reassure you. I just wasn’t sure, when you finally came to me, if I…if I was going to be capable of doing this the way you wanted, the way you needed.”

Dean’s eyes bored into the floor. When it came to Castiel, he was already well aware that he’d take whatever he could get. He nodded, before remembering himself. “I understand, Sir.”

Castiel’s hand left Dean’s hair momentarily, and it took a lot not to whine—but he didn’t, merely listening to Castiel step back toward the desk and change the tape in his handheld recorder he used for work.

“I’m going to record our discussion now, if that’s alright with you. Later, if you decide that you want this to be a more permanent thing, then we can refer to it when we draw up a contract.”

“That’s fine, Sir,” Dean agreed. While only one of Dean’s previous partners had required a written contract, it wasn’t that unusual, and so he readily agreed.

“First, I will lay out my own rules,” Castiel continued. “If you accept them, then we can discuss your own limits and personal requests.”

Dean nodded again, ignoring the stiffness that was beginning to make itself known in his calves. “Yes, Sir.”

“Very well,” Castiel began. “My rules are simple—signals for entering and exiting play are to be negotiated and used at all times. This isn’t a 24/7 agreement for me, and I like our boundaries to be clear. Secondly, despite play being restricted to scenes, I do not share. If you have any inclination to go beyond this relationship for any of your needs to be met, then you are to come to me and terminate our contract. Thirdly, I don’t renegotiate scenes once they’ve begun. Your headspace at the time may mean that you can’t be trusted to make the wisest decisions, so if a scene evolves beyond what we have agreed, I will stop it. We can try again, but only after you’ve agreed to do so.”

Dean nodded, murmuring “Yes, Sir,” again as Castiel spoke. While Castiel was particularly firm and eloquent, nothing he was saying was that unusual.

“Finally, although not all of what you need from me will be sexual, much of it is likely to be so. To that end, I’ll require a full medical check before we negotiate any unprotected penetration or fluid exchange.”

Trying not to smirk at the formal phrasing—because wouldn’t that be a terrible way to start—Dean nodded firmly. “Yes, Sir. I’m clean, but I’ll make sure you get papers to prove it.”

“Thank you,” Castiel responded, his hand coming back to the crown of Dean’s head. “I will, of course, do the same for you, as soon as we can arrange that.”

Nodding once more, Dean voiced his appreciation as Castiel came around to stand in front of him, his bare toes appearing where Dean looked down at the blue yoga mat. Castiel’s fingers slid down through Dean’s hair to the nape of his neck, before moving around to his jaw, nudging Dean’s attention upward, out of position.

“Now,” Castiel said softly, crouching down so that he kneeled on one knee in front of Dean. His thumbs rested on Dean’s face, cradling his cheeks as he softly shifted the pads of his fingers across Dean’s cheekbones. “As you’ve been so good and agreed to those basics, how about we talk about exactly what you want from me, moj mal’chik?

With Castiel’s face so close, the gravelly rasp of the Russian words sent a little shudder down Dean’s spine. Castiel seemed to appreciate Dean looking at him when he was addressed, so he made an effort to keep his eyes up, and not let them drift down to the expanse of tanned throat that was only inches away. Dean swallowed firmly. Everything didn’t seem to be a response that Castiel would be pleased with, so instead, Dean tried to focus, moistening his lips. “What would you like to know, Sir?”

“Tell me where your limits are. Tell me what you like most. If we continue with this, well go through a whole kink list together, and see what works for us both—but for now, let’s see where we should start.”

Castiel didn’t even blink, his darkened blue gaze resting unflinchingly on Dean’s face, and something about it had Dean hardening between his legs before they’d even begun anything. He swallowed again, harder, and gave a small nod before he started speaking. “I’m not…into a lot of really hardcore stuff,” Dean began, somewhat meek.

Still caressing Dean’s face, watching his own fingers as they moved across the skin, Castiel gave a small smile. “Whatever you are into, or not, is totally fine. There’s no shame in any of it. But you have to tell me. I can’t promise you everything you want—but unless I can consider it, how will I know?”

“Yeah,” Dean said, nodding again sharply, oddly nervous. “Of course. Sir.”

Castiel gave him another of those tiny, precious smiles when Dean remembered to tack the title on to the end of his words without prompting.

“Well,” Dean moistened his lips, exhaling out some of his nerves and deciding to simply give Castiel the truth, as he wanted, and let him work with it. “I don’t like anything with blood, or the threat of it. No breaking skin, no knife play or blood play in general.”

Castiel nodded, his face perfectly serious. “That’s fine. Continue.”

“I, uh, I’m not into anything with scat, or electricity, or fire. Wax is okay.”

“Just okay? Or do you enjoy it?”

“Just okay,” Dean said. “The idea doesn’t bother me, but I’ve only done it once, very briefly. It was just fine… I’d try it again though.”

“Not something we’ll be doing immediately, for sure,” Castiel agreed, nodding. “I think your freckles would look absolutely stunning dripped in wax, but there are plenty of other ways to highlight them, beautiful boy.”

Dean felt himself flushing under Castiel’s hands, and the warmth his words caused went straight to Dean’s dick. “Spanking,” he blurted out, moving on in the only way he could. “I, uh, like that kind of pain. More of a sting, I guess, than pain, but…” Dean flushed harder, but there was no backing out now. “I’m pretty into that.”

The heat in Castiel’s eyes was unavoidably obvious at that, but he said nothing, only nodding, encouraging Dean on.

“I like to be cuffed, or tied, or caged. Restricted in some way, I guess.”

“Alright,” Castiel said, his tongue darting out to dampen the peachy swell of his bottom lip. “Those are all very good. Is there anything else you’d like to share?”

Dean desperately wanted to shift his shoulders and knees, but he forced himself even more still, determined to please—and determined to be honest. “I like to feel…full,” he admitted almost shyly. “I like being stretched, and filled. I like to feel it later.”

Castiel raised an eyebrow at that, the only change he’d allowed in his expression for a couple of minutes. “Well, I will be very glad to fill you, in many ways,” he said, the tiniest of wolfish grins coming through. “In fact, it will be my pleasure. Now—if you enjoy being spanked and filled, what about punishment? It simply wouldn’t do to punish you with things you enjoy so much, would it?”

Dean’s eyes dropped back to the floor, but Castiel continued before he had a chance to speak. He leaned in, his breath ghosting against Dean’s ear, his thumbs still at his cheekbones.

“Though, if I’m reading you right—and I’m almost certain that I am—I don’t think punishment or humiliation is why you want this, is it?”

Dean managed to jerk out a tiny nod, the rumble of Castiel’s voice so close to him making his cock thicken almost embarrassingly within his old, soft jeans.

“You’d rather please, you’d rather be praised… You want to make your Dom happy…” Castiel suggested, his voice still low. “Knowing that you’ve disappointed me, then, is the worst punishment for you.”

“Yes, Sir,” Dean managed to squeak out.

“You have a praise kink,” Castiel said, withdrawing slightly, his breath on Dean’s cheek, more of a statement than a question. “You’re service-oriented, I think. You worry and stress about others all the time… Your family, your friends, your business. You just want someone to recognize your efforts, don’t you? To make the hard decisions for you and know, in a finite, measurable way, that you’re pleasing somebody.”

Having it all spelled out like that was almost humiliating, but Dean managed to respond. “Yes, Sir. That’s all true.”

Pulling back further, Castiel’s hands finally dropped from Dean’s face. When Dean could see his expression again, he realized that Castiel’s pupils were blown, his lips slightly parted into a delightfully feral smile. “This is all very good…very good indeed. You’re going to be perfect, I can tell already…”

Dean’s heartbeat raced, a heavy, comforting feeling filling his muscles as he watched Castiel straighten up. He stood above Dean, but reached to cup his jaw, directing Dean to look up at him as he kneeled on the floor.

“Do you want to be my good boy, Dean?”

Dean’s nod was no longer uncertain or cautious. Instead he was eager, fuzzy around the edges, desperate to be exactly that. “Yes, Sir,” he practically panted out.

Finally, Castiel gave a full grin, his eyes never leaving Dean’s face. “You’re sure?”

“Yes,” Dean breathed urgently. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this certain about anything.”

Castiel gave one last, firm nod. “Very well, then… Stand.”

 

 



Chapter Text

Holy fuck, this is really happening.

Dean straightened up slowly, several years of experience having taught him that bounding straight to his feet after being in a kneeling pose for an extended period was a quick route to dizziness, tingling legs, and ending up on his ass. So he was slow and steady, placing one foot flat at a time and never looking away from Castiel.

Standing by then, watching right back, Castiel reached out once Dean was upright and curled his fingers around Dean’s chin. In the soft, wintery light from the living room window, Castiel examined Dean closely, tilting his head this way and that, scrutinizing him with a freedom he’d never before had.

Krasivyy malʹchik ,” Castiel purred approvingly, before a tiny smile pulled up the corner of his mouth, exposing his teeth for a moment. “Do you know what that one means?”

Struggling not to drop his eyes, Dean took a breath. “Beautiful boy, Sir.”

“Very good.” Castiel nodded approvingly. “Now, are you familiar with the stoplight system?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Tell me.”

“Green is good, everything is fine or better. Yellow means caution, so something isn’t quite right or I’m uncomfortable in some way. Red is stop; safeword color,” Dean recited carefully, letting his eyes rest on Castiel and drink him in while he had the chance.

“Perfect,” Castiel said approvingly, his fingers immobile on Dean’s chin. “Are you happy to use that system, or would you prefer something else?”

“Works for me, Sir,” Dean said.

“For now, I’m happy to simply allow a use of ‘Sir’ rather than my name as a signal of interest, but should we negotiate more complex scenes, we’ll talk in more detail about what will work best…” Castiel’s voice trailed off, and Dean noted with some pride that it simply seemed as if he was just as distracted by Dean as Dean was by him.

“Yes, Sir,” Dean murmured, smiling indulgently at the thought. “That works for me, too.”

Nodding, Castiel seemed done with talking; he slowly moved around Dean, trailing his fingers wherever he went, examining, enjoying. His nails dragged very slowly down Dean’s neck, over his collarbone, tugging his t-shirt collar just slightly as they passed it. They moved down his bicep, across the back of his elbow to his ribs, and up across his shoulder blades. Castiel was silent, only his slightly elevated breathing breaking the morning quiet.

Dean shuddered softly; Castiel’s fingers seemed to leave tingling trails, but he continued to look straight ahead, unmoving.

“You are a good boy, aren’t you?” Castiel murmured, the pleasure in his deep, low rumble rolling into Dean’s abdomen and stirring even more arousal. The question seemed to be rhetorical, and Castiel moved onward, still speaking softly. “I’ve never been entrusted with someone so beautiful, so trusting from the start. I’ll have to take good care of you, won’t I?”

The sides of Dean’s neck were heating, a flush building up underneath his ears at the praise. It felt good, and warm, and right. Castiel moved the pad of his thumb onto Dean’s blush as he came around Dean’s other side, wolfish delight in his voice as he complimented it. “Such a pretty color on you, moj mal’chik. To think that you are usually so confident…so sarcastic, and grumpy, and cocky at times…but I can reduce you to this with just words. You allow me to reduce you to this.”

Castiel was stood in front of Dean once more, and so Dean moistened his lips, unsure if he should speak without being directly asked to, but about to find out. “It—” He paused sharply after the first word to gauge Castiel’s reaction, but it seemed that his new Dom didn’t mind him conversing. “—doesn’t feel like I’m being reduced, Sir,” he confessed quietly. “Not to me.”

“That’s very good, because I love it. I hope to earn the privilege of seeing you like this often.”

Dean resisted the urge to fling himself at Castiel’s feet and tell him he could have everything, all of Dean, anything he wanted, as long as he’d just touch him again. Instead, he controlled himself enough for a small smile and a loud swallow.

“What do you want, sweet boy?” Castiel asked, his darkened eyes resting on Dean’s own, unflinching.

“I want you to touch me,” Dean said, without overthinking it.

“Not yet,” Castiel said simply.

Dean valiantly did not make a whining noise.

“First, I want you to touch yourself,” Castiel continued, watching with calm interest as his every word undid Dean. “I want you to show me how you like to be touched…slowly.”

“N-Now, Sir?” Dean asked breathlessly, more than aware of the thickening, heavy length along his left thigh that was his eager cock, already desperate for Castiel to just give the word.

“Yes,” Castiel said, reaching to softly cup Dean’s cheek. When Dean leaned into it automatically, chasing Castiel’s warmth and his scent, Castiel gave him an approving smile. “Quite touch-starved, aren’t you?”

A curl of embarrassment reached up through Dean’s chest, but Castiel cut it off quickly with his other hand, coming up to match on the other side of Dean’s face.

“We’ll fix that, don’t worry. We might play, we might tease, but I’ll never deny you the things that you truly need. Now…” Castiel trailed off momentarily, tilting Dean’s forehead down toward him so that he could press his warm, pouty lips to Dean’s forehead. “Touch yourself for me, my good boy.”

The skin that Castiel’s lips had so briefly caressed felt like it had been branded, and Dean would have done anything to pull Castiel’s mouth down to his own—but instead he obeyed, lifting his hand and bringing it to rest on his stomach. Eyes fixed on Castiel, he slid it down to the waistband of his jeans.

“Ah—” said Castiel, a delighted grin splitting his face. “That’s a little too easy, don’t you think?”

With a groan that he desperately bit back, Dean knew exactly what was coming.

“You can touch…anywhere but there. For now.”

Squeezing his eyes tight shut, Dean gave a sharp nod. He’d do it, of course. Doing it—doing anything Castiel wanted—was exactly why he was there. “Yes, Sir.”

Castiel leaned in close as Dean shifted his hand back upward, slowly caressing it up his soft, though slim, stomach. He didn’t exactly have time for the gym, and yes, he ate too many pies, but he was still in pretty good shape. Or good enough, he hoped. Castiel seemed determined to make it as hard as possible for Dean to focus; he was so close that Dean could feel minty, coffee-tinged breath hitting his cheek, could smell the soft, fresh scent of his weird hippy deodorant, and the gentle, cinnamony musk he always seemed to layer over it. He could feel Castiel’s closeness like a tingle in the air, the hairs on Dean’s skin standing on edge, but Castiel didn’t touch him at all, even the hands at Dean’s face sliding away.

“Good boy,” Castiel said, so close and quiet it was practically a whisper in Dean’s ear.

Fuck, the things Dean would do for that voice alone.

Over the top of his shirt, Dean slid his fingers across his ribs, moving up across his chest. He focused on Castiel, the entire sense of him, so close, and let his hands wander, his breathing ratcheting up in notches as he relaxed into it.

“Very good,” Castiel breathed out approvingly as Dean thumbed a nipple through his shirt.

“Yes, beautiful,” he growled as Dean trailed his nails across the fabric covering his flank.

“Perfect,” he crooned, breathless, as Dean dug his fingers into his outer thigh.

“You’re doing such a good job,” Castiel reassured him, and Dean could feel the weight of his gaze as it traveled over Dean, catching on the trapped, throbbing erection in his jeans.

With a smile like the devil on a Tuesday, Castiel reached out, two fingers landing just the slightest touch to the front of Dean’s thigh. After having him so close, but not touching at all, for the last few minutes, Dean couldn’t help but let out a small sigh as Castiel’s fingers pressed into the denim. The sigh grew into a soft whine as Castiel slid his touch upward, his eyes locked on Dean’s.

Castiel leaned in a little further, his breath against Dean’s ear lobe. “There you go,” he whispered, just the tips of his fore and middle fingers nudging Dean’s trapped, straining cock upwards; helping, adjusting him just a fraction, ensuring his comfort.

Dean let out a low moan at the sensation. “Fuck,” he hissed gently between his teeth.

Castiel licked his lips as he withdrew, placing his hands behind his own back, his eyes locking with Dean’s once more. “Color?”

“Oh,” Dean breathed out a sigh, “so green. So very, very green.”

Smiling coyly, Castiel raked his eyes down Dean’s body and back up before he nodded. “Then continue.”

Dean slipped back into it easily, letting the planes of his palms shift across his stomach, leaving white trails on his neck as he gently trailed his nails across the sensitive skin behind his ears, and let his breathing escalate as it wanted, filling his lungs with low pants as he grew more desperate—for sensation, for a touch, for Castiel. He groaned, low in his throat, a soft begging noise.

Castiel still stood in front of Dean, and Dean quickly sent up a prayer to the inventor of the soft, clingy kind of pants that Castiel seemed to favor when he was at home; they clung in all the right places, outlining a thick, growing cock for Dean beneath the fabric. He’d sneaked glances before, unable to help himself when Castiel had snaked his muscular form into twisted yoga poses or flopped onto the couch beside Dean, stretching erotically. Dean was far too weak to ignore that. But now, he didn’t have to hide it as he slid his eyes down Castiel’s body, cataloging the peek of a catastrophic hipbone where his shirt was rucked on the right, and daring to glance down further, to where Castiel’s yoga pants tented and strained. God, what Dean would give to drop to his knees and mouth at that fabric.

“Did you want something, moj mal’chik?

Castiel’s voice snapped Dean’s eyes back up, and momentarily his hands froze on his own hips, where he’d slipped the tips of his fingers beneath his t-shirt, trying to sate his need for touch. Licking his lips nervously, Dean spoke up.

“Touch, Sir… Yours, preferably.”

Castiel raised an eyebrow, smirking and unmoved.

“Please,” Dean added, softer, needier. “Please, Sir.” He was begging already, though he had no idea if that was something Castiel liked. In that moment, Dean didn’t stop to consider; it was just something he needed to do with every fiber of his being.

It seemed to go down very well, Castiel’s darkened eyes flashing with pleasure as he approached, stepping forward until he and Dean were barely two inches apart once more, close enough that they had to angle their heads and breath carefully around each other as Castiel’s mouth came up to Dean’s ear. “Lift your arms, sweet boy,” he offered gently, his voice placating and soft.

Dean did as instructed without a second thought. He bit back a moan as he felt Castiel’s warm, thick fingers land on his hips. They journeyed softly across his t-shirt, dipping under, the pads caressing the skin of Dean’s abdomen as they pushed his t-shirt upward, agonizingly slowly. Castiel kept his fingers on Dean’s skin, allowing the t-shirt to collect around his wrists as he trailed his hands on up to Dean’s ribs.

“You can make whatever sounds you want,” Castiel said quietly. “Don’t hold back.”

It only took a second for Dean to obey and let out a choked groan as Castiel’s fingers moved on up, nails drawing deliberately lightly across the already peaked nubs of Dean’s nipples. As Castiel eased the shirt up over Dean’s head and dropped it to the floor, Dean let out a shaky sigh.

“You sound beautiful,” Castiel complimented, so close to Dean’s face that it took everything Dean had not to lean forward and press his hot, tingling, longing lips to Castiel’s. He was right there, smelling like Heaven but looking like sin, his hair and eyes wild and unchecked as he invaded Dean’s space. Fuck, Dean wanted touch him—to be touched by him, to have those long, strong fingers wrap around his…

“You may touch, mal’chik, ” Castiel intoned, the air in between his syllables hitting Dean’s cheek. “Touch yourself, show me what you like. You’ve been so good…but slowly now, I want to watch it all.”

Dean gulped, oddly nervous, despite all this; the simple, common anxiety of letting someone, a new someone, see all of him popping up to the surface. He pushed it down along and reached toward his zipper, but Castiel had already beaten him to it, his fingers curled around the button at the top of Dean’s old jeans.

“Would you like to undress yourself? Or, as you’ve been such a good boy so far, would you like me to do it?”

Dean’s shaking breaths almost answered for him, but between his tiny, frantic nods he managed to push out, “You—please, Sir, you. I want you to touch me so bad.”

Castiel had this particular smile that he could give, Dean was learning, where his tongue curled just behind his white teeth, showing off his pointy little incisors. It was devilish, really, and it stripped Dean of every last ounce of willpower, leaving him a pliant, breathless puddle. Castiel popped open the button on Dean’s jeans and parted the opening with his thumbs, the noise of the zipper the only thing in the air as Dean held his breath. Castiel slid his forefingers through Dean’s front two belt loops, and with a sharp tug he removed the space between them, causing Dean’s hard cock to throb maddeningly within his boxers as he felt the matching erection that Castiel was sporting suddenly pressed up against him.  

Up against Dean, Castiel’s words were little more than a growl as he let go of the belt loops and trailed his fingers along the denim, across to Dean’s hips. “If you want me to touch you, sweet boy, you need to earn it.”

Dean gave out a low groan, the sound far too loud in the tiny, echoless space between them. “Y-yes, Sir. What would you like me to do?”

One hand dipped into Dean’s waistband, pushing at the heavy blue fabric as Castiel encompassed Dean’s waist. His palm slid back behind Dean’s hip to curl his fingers over muscle, light, teasing pads of skin trailing across the swell of the top of Dean’s ass. Hitching a breath, Dean realized that Castiel’s other hand was headed up his stomach and sternum and neck until a single finger pressed to the side of Dean’s chin and turned his face, guiding Dean’s jaw to the side and lining up Dean’s ear with Castiel’s hot lips.

“Show me how you looked every time you came for me, moj mal’chik . Show me what I couldn’t see every time you’d gasp out my name, what you looked like when you’d call it in bed, what you looked like when you cry it out in the shower… What you looked like every time you thought of me fucking you.”

Dean was too wrapped up in Castiel’s low, rumbling, accented words to feel any embarrassment. His edges softened and smoothed away, all sound and sensation. The roughness of Dean’s jeans and underwear as they both slid down his legs until he was fully exposed, the softness of Castiel’s pants against the his cock, the noise Castiel’s quiet but increasingly unsteady breathing made next to his ear.

Castiel’s hips angled away, giving Dean room as his hand came up to grasp at his length, which was by then bobbing desperately in front of him, begging for attention with drops of slick precome. Dean couldn’t help the low whimper that he huffed out along with a breath, squeezing his eyes shut for just a moment and taking the chance to lean in toward Castiel as he was so close, chasing his scent.

“That’s it,” Castiel encouraged as Dean began to stroke, slow at first, his head lolling to the side until it rested against Castiel’s temple. One finger still on Dean’s chin, Castiel didn’t pull away as Dean pressed into the side of his face, allowing it, angling his own face in turn until his lips found the bolt of Dean’s jaw.

As Dean tightened his grip, the hot skin of his cock shifting slightly beneath his hand as he sped up and found a familiar rhythm, Castiel’s mouth mapped out the edge of his jaw, trailed its way down his throat, latched on to his collarbone. Dean panted at the sensation, just so overwhelmed that after all this time, all these months, he finally had Castiel’s mouth on him.

Using his foot to nudge at the inside of Dean’s ankles, Castiel signalled for him to step out of the jeans that had given up pretenses and fallen down to the floor. Once Dean had complied he kicked them aside, leaving Dean naked whereas Castiel was entirely clothed. There was a strange power to it, and Dean couldn’t find it in him to complain as Castiel’s lips continued on their journey.

Far too soon, Castiel stepped back. Dean shuddered slightly at the loss, cold air rushing in to take the space Castiel had occupied. Teeth on his lip, Dean bit back a whine. He dragged his eyes down from Castiel’s flushed, rapt face, past his t-shirt and down to the bulging, tented fabric of his pants. Dean bit his lip again.

“Something to say?” Castiel asked, a dirty smirk pulling at the edge of his lip as he looked down, watching Dean tug at his cock hungrily.

“What about you?” Dean gasped out, a tremble running through his thighs as warmth began to build beneath his bellybutton.

For the briefest of moments, Castiel looked uncertain; it was an expression that sat oddly on his face with his back so straight, his shoulders so imposing, the very way he observed Dean like he owned every part of him. But it was fleeting, hidden away again immediately as he blinked at Dean and smirked. “You—if you would like that, moj mal’chik, then it certainly wouldn’t be a hardship.”

“Please,” Dean begged softly, his breath hitching as his stomach muscles twitched. He swayed a little before catching himself, straightening, doing his best to stand solidly and display himself as he’d been told.

Castiel began walking, his eyes never leaving Dean as he made a slow circle around him. He wasn’t touching Dean again, and Dean decided that was the hardest part—he didn’t mind being watched, he wanted to do whatever Castiel wanted like this, but he desperately craved Castiel’s touch; not just the firm hand of a dom, but the sensation of it being him, the one that Dean wanted, his hands on his skin…

“Color,” Castiel commanded softly from behind Dean.

“Green,” Dean confirmed readily, pulling steadily at his cock and twisting his wrist, obedient.

Back in front of Dean, Castiel’s eyes locked onto Dean’s, and it took Dean a moment to register that Castiel’s hand had disappeared inside his yoga pants and was working over his dick slowly, all his attention on Dean.

“You’re so beautiful, and you listen so well,” Castiel said, his eyes never leaving Dean’s. “My good boy.”

Dean’s heart rate shot up another notch at the proclamation, a sense of warm pride buzzing back behind his ribcage and slightly to the left, where he was trying not to admit that his heart was. “Yours,” Dean agreed quietly, unable to stop a flushing smile. “Only for you, Sir.”

Castiel’s smile was downright predatory as he maintained eye contact, the shifting of his shoulder the only sign of what was happening below. He stood close, yet not close enough. Dean brought his other hand up, the fingers of his right hand jerking at his shaft while the left gave a twist to his weeping head, slick with precome and flushed red as it peeked out from the tunnel of his hand. Trembling, Dean gasped as the tingling in his pelvis grew.

“Getting close, sweet boy?” Castiel asked, his own voice hitching now as Dean heard fabric sliding across Castiel’s hips. “Are you close to coming for me?”

His lips parting on a breath that turned into a gasp, Dean nodded. “Yes— fuck —yes, Sir.”

Castiel’s tongue darted out to moisten his lips and he gave a jerky nod, stepping across toward Dean once more, leaning in toward him, allowing their foreheads to press together. “Then go ahead. Next time, you can show me how long you can last…but today, sweet boy, I want you to come for me.”

The promise of next time threw Dean hurtling toward the edge. “Ah—” he said, garbled, breathless, barely able to form the words he needed. “Yes, Sir,” fell from his lips with an almost-whining quality that Dean couldn’t prevent.

The bright, vivacious blue of Castiel’s irises had shrunk down to a dark ring, his pupils blown, his lips parted as he huffed in breath. He opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something, but then it closed again, and Dean felt Castiel’s empty hand glide to the back of his neck moments before Castiel surged forward, pressing his lips to Dean’s.

It was an uncontrolled, panting, desperate kiss and Dean keened desperately through it as he came, breathing into Castiel’s mouth, pushing out shaking, nonsense words into Castiel’s lips. Castiel hummed back into him in turn, pulling back only to tilt his head down so that he could watch Dean spurt hotly onto the blue yoga mat between their feet.

Following Castiel’s eyes down, Dean watched as Castiel’s arm sped up, his breaths rattling out of him as his heartbeat settled. “Fuck,” he let out slowly, ecstatically, his attention all on Castiel even as his muscles continued to tremble.

Castiel hissed out a low, aroused sound, and Dean felt the hand at the back of his neck move to his shoulder. Not much pressure was needed to send Dean down to his knees—he was already swaying, his knees vibrating under the pressure of holding him up in a delightfully fuzzy, submissive, post-orgasmic haze.

“Color?” Castiel checked, his fingers tight enough to leave red marks amongst the freckles on Dean’s shoulders, he was sure.

“Green, Sir,” Dean gulped out his response, smiling hazily.

Dean’s thighs cried out in relief as he hit the yoga mat, and his arms moved almost reflexively back to cross behind his tailbone; returning to kneeling pose before his dominant, as he’d done so many times before—but never like this , never with Castiel, never with low, rumbling Russian words in the air above him that he couldn’t quite catch and Castiel’s thick fingers threading through his hair.

“Oh, yes—good boy,” Castiel praised freely as Dean fell into position. “There’s my good boy…can you stay like that for me? Stay still while I give you what you wanted?”

Dean managed a nod even though Castiel’s hand tugged tightly at Dean’s hair, angling his head upward. Castiel stood above him, his cock close to Dean’s face, giving Dean his first blissful view of the dark hair and long, thick erection that Castiel was jerking fast right in front of him. God, he wanted to wrap his mouth around it. Castiel’s skin was smooth, unveined, and straight—a cock made for hard, deep fucking. Dean could only imagine the power in Castiel’s muscled thighs and hips, imagine how it would feel to have that magnificent cock pounding into him—but fuck, the imaginings were so much better in technicolor.

With Castiel holding Dean’s head in place, Dean could do nothing— wanted to do nothing—except watch as Castiel’s pupils seemed to dilate impossibly further, a guttural groan bursting out from the bottom of Castiel’s chest. For a split second, Dean thought that Castiel was going to come over his face—and he would have been very, very okay with that—but at the last instant he redirected, spilling onto the yoga mat below, the last, slow drips decorating Dean’s bare knees in creamy, translucent white.

Dean was transfixed, watching Castiel’s come dribble across his skin, and he was too busy enjoying the softness of his body and thoughts to notice immediately when Castiel dropped down to his knees before him. He ran his hands down Dean’s shoulders and arms until he gently tugged his hands out of position, away from his back and around to his front, entwining their fingers gently.

“Dean,” Castiel said softly, the use of his actual name bringing Dean’s attention back up the way nothing else would. “Can you wait here for me just a moment, while I get some tissues to clean this all up? Then we can rest on the couch for a bit. We can just watch some TV and relax—it’s enough for today, don’t you think?” His voice was gentle and persuasive, but Dean knew better than to argue, thinking that if his friend Castiel was stubborn about caring for him when he could, his Dom Castiel would likely be ten times worse.

So he obeyed, grimacing as he staggered stiffly back up to his feet. Castiel pressed a kiss to his forehead, and the spot felt warm long after it ended.

 

x

 

Oh God, what if I’ve ruined everything?

Castiel had quickly flicked the TV on before he’d headed to the kitchen, leaving Dean stretched out on his side on the couch, and the local news provided a low, perky background track to Dean’s thoughts. It was an old couch, with soft, comfy pillows that sunk down into the frame when occupied, and Castiel had nestled Dean down into it with a soft blanket—actually the snuggie that Dean had gifted him with for Christmas, now that Dean was paying attention—as soon as he’d cleaned up both Dean and the yoga mat. He’d gone to get them both some coffee and food, and he’d be back in only a moment. Even so, it seemed that even a moment alone was enough for Dean’s brain to immediately remind him of every possible thing that could go wrong.

What if this is too much? What if he calls it off, or it gets weird and him being here is weird and then we have to—

“Dean, whatever’s running through that head of yours, stop it.” Castiel’s frame blocked the TV for a moment as he carefully slid a plate onto the coffee table, keeping the two coffee mugs in one hand as he pulled the Ikea contraption easily across the floor toward the couch where Dean lay. Once he’d got it positioned so that they could reach from the couch, he put the coffees down and unceremoniously clambered over Dean’s stretched out body to tuck himself down into the gap behind him, back against the couch pillows.

“I wasn’t—”

“Yes, you were,” Castiel said firmly, wrapping an arm over Dean and tugging him backward until they were spooning comfortably on the couch. His hand wiggled under the fabric of the snuggie, settling in, until he could comfortably stroke his hand up and down Dean’s bare side. “Now, tell me what you are thinking, moj mal’chik.

For a moment, Dean was quiet, no idea what was happening on the TV, his gaze resting on the leg of the coffee table blankly. He could feel Castiel’s body behind him, cocooned in soft fabrics but pressed right up to Dean’s skin, and his lips came forward to press gently behind Dean’s ear.

“Alright. If we are going to do any of this, then you must accept that this is part of it,” Castiel reminded Dean quietly, his strong fingers gently moving across Dean’s ribs in a soothing motion. He stopped only to reach forward and lift Dean’s coffee mug, placing it right in front of him, and tug the plate of bacon sandwiches he’d prepared up to the edge of the table. They smelled amazing, and Dean didn’t take much persuasion when Castiel’s voice continued to rumble behind his ear, “So first, eat something, Dean. Please. This is my job, too.”

Castiel stayed in that position, wrapped around Dean with his face buried behind Dean’s ear, stroking gently, while Dean devoured one of the sandwiches. It was heavenly—how had he not realized he was so hungry?—and as soon as he was done, he moved to his coffee, taking careful, hot sips.

Dean felt Castiel smile against his skin.

“Better?” he asked quietly.

“Yeah,” Dean admitted. “I needed that. Thanks, Cas.”

“Now, then,” Castiel said, “tell me what you’re thinking.”

Dean breathed out carefully, matching his lungs to the methodical, soothing stroke of Castiel’s hand down his flank. “I guess I’m just worried about…things changing. That I could be messing stuff up when we have so much riding on this. With all the immigration stuff and everything, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression or feel like you can’t…” Leave, if you need to, Dean finished silently, wondering how to express his concerns without sounding like a total basket case.

Behind him, Castiel stiffened for a second. His hand froze on Dean’s side, but only for a moment before it resumed again; out of sync with Dean’s breaths now.

“It’s okay,” Castiel said quietly. “I understand where you’re coming from and I’m not trying to—to make this more than it needs to be. If you want this, if this is something that will help you, that on some level you need…then that is what I am giving you, Dean. No expectations. It doesn’t need to change anything or affect anything that we’re doing.”

No expectations, Dean thought. Well. That tells me where I stand. Nodding his head against the arm of the couch, Dean couldn’t help but snuggle back into Castiel and take what he could get. As long as he knew that this was all that Castiel wanted, then fine. He could do that. “Okay,” he said, finding Castiel’s hand under the blanket so that he could wrap his fingers into it and pull it up to his chest. “As long as we’re on the same page, then there’s no reason to worry.”

It was just fine. Totally fine.

Squeezing Dean’s fingers back in turn, Castiel nodded slowly against the back of his neck, staying quiet.

Using his other hand, Dean reached out for the TV remote, flicking through the channels boredly. He kept his focus forward, appreciating Castiel’s closeness after what they’d done but not wanting to read too much into it, even if a part of him still wanted to. Castiel had been pretty clear where they stood. As the channels sped by, Castiel tilted his head, pressing a kiss to Dean’s bare shoulder.

“Why don’t we put on a Christmas movie?”

“We could watch Die Hard?” Dean suggested hopefully, doing his best not to melt under Castiel’s lips like an idiot.

“Is that a Christmas movie?” Castiel asked, but Dean could hear the tease in his voice even as he said it.

“Yes, it is!” Dean protested, grumbling but ending with a pout.

Taking the remote from Dean so that he could begin to flick through their movies, Castiel gave a low chuckle. “Of course we can, whatever you want,” he said softly, before propping his head up on his hand to grin down at Dean while the movie loaded. “Hey,” he said.

“What?” Dean asked, tilting his head to look back up at Castiel, allowing his gaze to take in the tousled hair—literally sex mussed, for once—and soft blue eyes that rested on him.

“Merry Christmas, Dean,” Castiel said with a strange, small smile.

“Merry Christmas, Cas,” Dean responded automatically, smiling in return. He wanted desperately to turn his face up the last inch and press his lips to Castiel’s, but he knew that was a whole other boundary beyond what they were doing.

So, Dean didn’t kiss him, and rolled back onto his side to watch the opening shot of the airplane in Die Hard instead.

 

x

 

Although he was—of course—exceedingly grateful for the extra business that Christmas brought to Trick or Sweet , Dean was hugely grateful to be able to put his Christmas tree-shaped cutters away and stop making sugar cookies for a while. He stood in front of the bakery’s white board, his arms folded, a dry-erase marker cap clamped in the corner of his mouth.

“Hmmm,” he said eloquently.

“How about chocolates shaped like—” Gabriel began.

“If you say buttholes or dicks again, Gabe, I’m making you clean the drains. No wonder Kali is at her wits' end with you, if that’s all you can think of for Valentine’s day.”

“Hey,” Gabriel grumbled. “I know that’s not all that V-day is about, okay. I can do romance, you better believe.”

“Excuse me if I’m skeptical, Mister Praline-Genitals.”

Luckily, the bell over the front door jangled and Dean was spared Gabriel trying to convince him of how romantic he could be. They had less than a month to come up with their product line for February, and even though they had some classic staples from year-to-year—heart shaped chocolate trays, dipped strawberries, red velvet cake—they always tried to come up with new, innovative offerings each spring. It was the first week that they were both back at work after Christmas, and they were getting back into their groove.

Dean spent his time listing out potential cake-flavor combinations on the whiteboard while Gabriel sold an armload of bread and buns to Lawrence’s newest, fanciest restaurant, the one that he’d tried out with Charlie and Gilda a couple of months before. With a sudden pang of guilt, Dean realized that he hadn’t seen Charlie at all since the wedding, with only a couple of brief texts here and there over Christmas. He hadn’t been deliberately avoiding her, of course. But was he reluctant to discuss Castiel with her? Eh…maybe. Guiltily, Dean dug in his pocket and pulled out his phone.

>> Gonna be in town any time soon, my Queen?

His phone hadn’t even made it back to his pocket before it pinged in return; Charlie must have been between classes.

<< Sure, if you’re done ditching me, peasant.

<< Shouldn’t we get together soon to celebrate immigration stuff, anyway? Doesn’t all that start happening this month?

Dean’s stomach lurched a little at the reminder, and he exhaled slowly as he typed out a quick reply.

>> Yup. We’ve got our biometrics appointment at the end of this week, then the interview part next week. Kinda terrifying.

<< You’ve got this. Honestly, you’re kind of the perfect couple, I’ve never seen you look at anyone the way you look at him. It's gross. The immigration folks are gonna have you outta there so fast you won’t know why you were worried.

<< I’ll make plans to come back home in a couple of weeks, then? We all hang out and celebrate.

Dean texted a quick affirmative and dropped his phone back into his pocket, turning Charlie’s words over in his head as he focused his attention back on the whiteboard.

Could Gabriel make chocolate roses? Surely if he could craft exquisitely veined phalluses then a rose would be a walk in the park…

Gabriel slouched back in from the front, tearing off his hair net and rubbing at the small line it left on his forehead. “Alright, I think I’m gonna take a break if you—huh, chocolate roses? Walk in the park.”

Rolling his eyes quietly to himself, Dean put a check mark next to his newest addition. “Great. At least we agree on one thing.”

“We’ll get the rest sorted, Dean-o, don’t you worry. You stay in the good mood that you’ve been in for the past couple days,” Gabriel said as he made his way across to the refrigerators to grab himself a soda and his lunch, “and we’ll have the whole thing worked out in no time.”

Dean gave a small chuckle as he recapped the dry-erase marker and went to wash his hands. “I haven’t been in that good of a mood. Just normal.”

“No way,” Gabriel said firmly, sandwich in hand. “You’ve been cheery, you and Cassie both. I ain’t even gonna think about why, honestly, but I’m appreciating the results when it comes to your work ethic.”

“Ain’t ever anything wrong with my work ethic,” Dean threw back, bristling just the tiniest bit. Soaping up between his fingers, he heard Gabriel sit down at one of the stools near the back, plonking his homemade sandwich down on the clean counter.

For a minute, Gabriel ate in contented silence as Dean dried his hands and re-tied his apron, preparing to take over out front. Before he stepped out though, Gabriel spoke up, waving his sandwich.

“Look, Dean—uh, before you go out there, I just wanna…say something, I guess? ‘Bout Cassie.”

Dean froze, panicking about where the discussion could possibly go. “Oh?”

“Yeah, just…y’know, we grew up on different sides of the world, but I’ve known the guy most of my life, one way or another. And one thing I’ll say is that sometimes—” Gabriel huffed out some air, shaking his head slightly. “—he seems like he’s got it all together. He’s confident and in control, that’s part of his thing, I get that, but…it’s not always true, y’know? Sometimes he doesn’t always think things through like he should, or he’ll make decisions based on what will keep the people he cares about happy. He buries his own feelings.”

“Are you going somewhere with this?” Dean found himself snapping, though he immediately regretted it as Gabriel’s hands rose and his eyes widened.

“Relax, Winchester. Just…look after him, too, that’s all.”

Dean threw himself into selling the remains of the morning’s pastries, cleaning up the café and making a series of complex coffee orders, to go. By the time Gabriel came out to switch with him, he’d earned his sit-down.

Throwing some leftover pasta from the night before into the microwave in the back, Dean flopped down onto Gabriel’s vacated stool with his head in his hands. He was determined to make some progress on their upcoming Valentines’ offerings, rather than daydream about using Castiel’s thighs as ear warmers. Absolutely determined.

He’d devoured half of his alfredo and added three cake possibilities to the board before he heard the doorbell out front jingle.

“Hello there, Officer,” Dean heard Gabriel say. Curious, Dean popped the cap back onto the marker once more, and slid to the side so that he could look around the door frame.

“Afternoon, Sir,” a young, husky man greeted Gabriel. From Dean’s vantage point, all that he could tell was that the man was dressed in a navy uniform and vest. Out beyond the glass front window, Dean could see another, similarly dressed man talking on the phone. “We were hoping to speak to a Castiel Novak.”

“You’ve got the wrong place, I’m afraid,” Gabriel said. “No one by that name works here.”

Dean knew Gabriel well enough to hear the tension in his light, friendly reply; hopefully, the officer in front of the counter did not. From his calm stare in response, Dean wasn’t one hundred percent sure that he bought it. Nonetheless, he handed over a card across the top of the pastry case.

“Well, I hope you don’t mind if we leave a number here for him. We just want to talk to him, that’s all.”

Gabriel nodded silently, and the man turned, walking back out to the pavement where his partner waited, still talking into his phone.

Stepping out from the kitchen, Dean watched the officer leave. On his back, loud and proud in yellow lettering, were the words: POLICE I.C.E.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Becky had made Dean a cup of coffee. It was weak and watery and only lukewarm, but the effort had been made and so Dean sipped at it, trying to internalize his grimaces.

“Sam will be free right after this client,” she chirped cheerfully. “I’m sure he’ll be really happy to see you; you hardly ever stop by!”

Well, I hardly ever need advice about Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, do I? Dean thought cattily, though he managed just to smile across at the perky receptionist. “I don’t surprise him enough, and it’s quiet at the bakery after Christmas.”

The coffee cup slowly emptied. Brady came out and said hi, wished Dean the best on his marriage, and disappeared off into the elevator. Becky took a break to run out and grab a salad. The clock ticked tensely above the reception desk.

Dean’s phone vibrated in his pocket. He knew it would be Castiel, barely glancing at the screen before he swiped to answer it.

“Hey, Cas.”

“Dean—what is going on? You left me a frantic voicemail about not opening the door, and Gabriel texted me and said he dropped you off and I should come pick you up from Sam’s office?”

“I can’t talk right now, I’m in Sam’s waiting room. And I can walk, I’m fine—”

“Dean,” Castiel said again, cutting in. “You don’t sound fine, and your voicemail was very concerning.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry.” Dean grimaced into the phone. “You didn’t pick up and I was worried, and I was trying to rush to Sam’s because—” From the corner of his eye, Dean saw Sam emerging from his office, accompanying an older lady. “He’s here, I’ll speak to you when I get home, I promise, Cas.”

Hanging up before Castiel could question or protest further, Dean sat up straighter in his chair and placed the near-empty, terrible coffee on the magazine covered table, waiting for Sam to notice him.

“Don’t worry about any of it, Mildred. Patience and I will meet you outside the courthouse at eight sharp, just like we agreed—Dean?” Sam’s walk stopped sharply, his eyebrows arched in surprise.

“Hey, Sammy.” Dean raised a hand.

Sam accompanied the white haired (and somewhat handsy, if Dean was seeing correctly) old lady to the elevator across the hall, then swiftly bounded back through the door to Dean. “Aren’t you working today?”

“Yeah, I was,” Dean said, dipping his head toward Sam’s private office as he stood. “But I figured I’d stop by and see my baby brother for a change.”

One eyebrow raised, Sam merely held his door open and stepped aside. As soon as Dean moved within, he clicked the door shut behind him.

“What’s going on?”

Dean frowned, for a moment about to question whether it was really that unusual that he stopped off to see Sam after lunch, but it just wasn’t the time for that fight, as joking as it would have been. “An I.C.E. agent just stopped by the bakery looking for Cas.”

Sam lowered himself into the chair on the other side of his hideous, modern desk, his elbows framing the white, wireless keyboard of his computer as he lowered his head into his hands. “Well, that’s not good,” he said after a tense moment. “Tell me what happened.”

Dean recounted the short story, on the edge of his seat, his hands sandwiched between his kneecaps. He was sweaty, and his chest twinged with every pant. He wasn’t going to tell Sam that he’d spent five minutes standing outside the building, struggling his way through what might have been a panic attack so that Becky wouldn’t see it, or that he’d been struggling to breathe the whole time while Gabriel hastily shut down the shop and silently drove him to Sam’s office, not a joke to be found as he hugged Dean and ordered him to call Castiel. Sam could probably tell. But Winchesters didn’t say that kind of stuff, they just didn’t.

Sam let out a long, huffing breath, rubbing at his eyes. “Okay. Well, I have some pamphlets that—”

“Sam!” Dean leaned forward, pressing his forearms onto the table. “I didn’t come here for fucking pamphlets, okay? Just talk to me. Is this as bad as it seems? Am I overreacting here?”

“Honestly Dean, no, you’re not,” Sam said grimly. “In most cases, unless they receive some kind of tip or report from a member of the public or service, I.C.E. won’t investigate a non-national’s claim to residency until their biometrics are entered and their case is being processed. If they are approaching before that, they’ve been given reason to.”

“So, you’re saying someone told them to come and check on Cas.”

Sam nodded. “Most likely, though there are other routes. Rather than focusing on blame, I think you need to focus on what you need to do if they come back before your appointment.”

“Which is?”

Despite Dean’s earlier protests, Sam spun in his leather desk chair and reached over to the bookcase that ran along the wall behind his desk, pulling out a thick red binder. Fiddling around until he’d retrieved a slim pamphlet from within, he turned back to Dean and slid it across the glass tabletop.

“The main thing to keep in mind is that if an officer comes to the house, whether Cas is there at the time or not, then you need to stay calm, and remember that you should not let them in unless they have a legally stamped warrant. They’ll try, no doubt, even without a warrant—they’re told to. Even if they have an I-205—a warrant for deportation—it doesn’t give them permission to enter your property without consent.”

“How am I going to know if what they’re showing me is legit or not, Sam?” Dean could feel his voice raising.

“You call me. And I’ll be there as fast as I can.”

“But you—”

“I know. But I’m not letting them take Cas. He deserves to be here; we just need to prove that. I.C.E. have zero reason to believe that your application isn’t genuine, Dean. They really don’t. If some busy-body asshole has tipped them off to Cas being here, they probably just want to verify his current status and that he’s progressing through the immigration process as he should, and that’s it.”

Dean nodded slowly. “Right. It—it doesn’t change anything, then. Not really.”

“Essentially. I’d make sure that Cas lies low and doesn’t answer the door until your biometrics appointment on Friday, but after that, try to relax, okay? Remember that once he’s in the U.S.C.I.S. system, he is here legally. In fact, it’d be illegal for him to leave, until they’re done processing his claim to residency.”

Dully, Dean nodded again. It wasn’t much comfort, but it was something.

“The only thing you should beware of now,” Sam continued, bringing clamoring panic noise back to the forefront of Deans mind again, “is that if Cas is already on their radar, it makes you both prime candidates for a Stokes interview.”

“What’s that?” Dean asked around his dry tongue.

“Jesus Christ, Dean—did you read any of that book I gave you?” Sam rolled his eyes to the ceiling.

“Not the time, Sam. Cliff's notes.”

“A Stokes interview is a secondary interview that an immigration officer can put you forward for if there are any red flags during your adjustment of status interview, or if they’ve been given other reasons to examine more closely—like this.”

Atop the table, Dean’s knuckles rubbed nervously along the inside of his other palm, squeezing until his hands began to whiten. “Right. So…how does that go?”

Sam was solemn, his eyes never leaving Dean’s face. “If they go ahead with the Stokes interview, it’s not a great sign. After they’ve given you written notice of the interview and requested extra documentation, they’ll separate you both. It’s officially a fraud investigation interview—they’ll record you both, cross examine you, and compare the footage. It can take several hours—and there’s really nothing that they can’t ask you, Dean.”

“Nothing?” Dean heard his voice like it was coming from someone else.

“Nothing at all. They will be incredibly invasive.”

Dean stared down at the glass. He could sense Sam growing frustrated, but he had no idea what to say. After another minute, Sam let out a long sigh and flopped his forehead back into his hands.

“I mean it, Dean…there’s nothing out of bounds. They’ll ask you about his work, his finances, his hobbies. They can ask you about his bathroom habits if they want, or who goes to sleep first, or how often you have sex. Honestly, they can ask you what his favorite damn position is, if they want. They’re legally free. The decision comes down to that one person, whether Cas gets to stay or not. You have to one-hundred percent convince them.”

“Oh, well,” Dean said, forcing out a grin. “That part’s easy. We all know Cas is a bossy bitch. He likes to—”

Dean ,” Sam closed his eyes forcibly, his fingers digging into his temples. “You have got to take this seriously! If you can’t convince them, then—”

“Sam,” Dean said, calmer, smaller, meeker, his gaze lowering to his lap along with his hands, “I am taking this seriously, I promise. The thing is, I.C.E. aren’t the scary part, okay? I’m not stressed about them, or their questions. I’ll answer them—absolutely anything they need to know. The only thing I’m scared of is losing Cas.”

Across the table, Sam regarded Dean with a small smile. For a long minute he didn’t say anything, before pushing back his chair and standing. “C’mere,” he said, moving around the desk.

Dean rose and was immediately pulled into a brisk, tight hug. He hid his smile; no need for Sam to see how much he needed it.

“It’ll be okay, Dean. I really do think that you won’t have any trouble convincing them that your relationship with Cas is genuine. The only half-truths you’re really telling here are how you met.”

“But we’re not—” Dean began into Sam’s hair, slumping a little.

“Yeah, sure. Whatever you say,” Sam interrupted, and Dean could practically hear his eye roll.

“Alright,” Dean grumbled. “Enough with the chick flick moment, lemme go.”

Drawing back from Dean with a long-suffering sigh, Sam gave his head a tiny shake before sliding into business mode once more. “Right—you know where to go for your biometrics on Friday, yeah?”

“Yes.” Dean sighed. “The letter had an address. I can Google. Cas can too. He’s pretty good at the Googling.”

“Alright, jerk,” Sam grumbled. “Just let me know if you want me to come with you or anything, okay?”

Dean nodded, taking a deep breath, feeling at least somewhat better. All he had to do was go home and update Castiel. He pushed his chair back into position in front of Sam’s desk. “I think we’ll be okay, just me and Cas. But…thanks, Sam. For everything.”

Sam’s smile was still irritatingly knowing, but he nodded. “Of course, dude. Now go home and see Cas before he has an aneurysm over the panicking text message that I’m assuming you sent him.”

Dean grimaced. “It was a voicemail.”

“Jesus Christ, Dean. Get outta my office.”

 

x

 

The drive up to Wichita had been entirely silent, which was unusual and stressful enough by itself, without Castiel staring out of the window and jiggling his leg the whole way. It wasn’t an excessively long drive from Lawrence, about two and a half hours, but the traffic had been a bitch. The regional immigration field office was smack in the middle of the city itself, off US-400 near the Arkansas River, and half of the roads were closed for an event outside the performing arts center.

“Dude,” Dean said, pulling off the highway into Delano, where the Immigration and Customs building was. “You gotta relax.”

“I’m fine,” Castiel responded crisply, his eyes not wavering from the edge of the curb as it flashed by.

Frowning, Dean didn’t buy it for a minute. But it wasn’t like he could force Castiel into talking about it, either. He’d been tense ever since Dean had made his way out of Sam’s office earlier in the week to find Castiel waiting outside in the two-hour downtown parking, leaning on Baby and looking pissed as hell. Dean wasn’t even mad that Castiel had driven the Impala (though he’d never admit to Sam that he’d given Castiel her spare key for emergencies, because he knew exactly the smug, knowing smirk that Sam would give him in response). He was far more concerned with getting Castiel safely home again. Luckily, Castiel had forgiven Dean almost instantly for worrying him so much, but he’d been quiet and edgy ever since. Dean couldn’t blame him. He seemed frustrated, annoyed, and lost, the problem outside of their control.

Of course. The realization of how he might be able to help Castiel feel better hit Dean suddenly as he navigated toward the river, listening to his GPS. It’s so obvious, I should have thought of it before.

Dean cleared his throat. He wasn’t sure if this would work, but there didn’t seem to be a reason not to try. “Hey, Cas?”

“Yes?” Castiel turned briefly from the window.

“Do you, uh, have the letter and stuff? The notes from Sam on what to do when we get there?”

Castiel nodded, reaching into Baby’s glove compartment and pulling out a bundle. “Of course.”

“Could you maybe go through it with me? I just—I wanna be sure.”

Squinting suspiciously, Castiel unfolded the bundle. “ Da ,” he answered, even though he was probably well aware that Dean had read everything they had at least fifty times already. “Of course.”

As Dean made his way around the corner and started searching for parking, Castiel read aloud the official letter confirming their appointment time, reference number, and directions.

“Any questions?” Castiel asked once he was done, sharply folding the paper once more.

“Nah,” Dean said quietly as he cut the engine in a paid parking spot several blocks up the street. “Just nervous, I guess.”

Fishing around the car for change to pay the meter, Dean could feel Castiel’s eyes on him. He hid his small smile. Once he’d gathered a handful of coins, Dean slipped out of the car and began to feed them into the slot on top of the old-fashioned machine. Coming up behind Dean, Castiel’s hand rested gently on the small of Dean’s back, familiar and comforting.

“So, where are we headed, Cas?” Dean asked, waiting.

“This way,” Castiel confirmed, gesturing up the street. When Dean hesitated, Castiel reached down and took Dean’s hand in his, leading them away from the Impala and toward the sidewalk.

“What do we need to do first?” Dean questioned once they were moving across the wide walkway that lined the side of the busy street up toward the immigration center.

“We need to go in, head through security, and then sign in with my alien number at the desk,” Castiel recited. “Then they’ll have us wait in a room off to the side, and then call me up to have my biometrics recorded.”

“And then that’s it,” Dean said quietly. “We’re in the system and…it begins, I guess.”

Castiel nodded, giving Dean’s palm a small squeeze. “Yes. They’ll use that information to make my Green Card, eventually.”

Dean nodded. “Alright. So, this isn’t too bad, right?”

“No, not at all. Nerve-wracking, but not much can go wrong, here.”

“Okay. So, what are we doing after?”

Castiel raised an eyebrow just slightly as they moved on up the sidewalk. If he could see through Dean’s incessant questions, he didn’t mention it. “What would you like to do, Dean?”

“Up to you,” Dean said, half-smiling. “Seems like we should mark the occasion…it all feels kinda real today, huh?”

As they approached the low, modern-looking building with an arched roof, Castiel responded. “It does. And I agree…marking the occasion seems like a good idea. I know it’s stressful, but it should be a good day.”

Up on the pale bricks above the door, the building announced, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services . They both eyed it together, exchanging a small, nervous smile, before they headed through the door.

Security was easy; they both remembered to take their keys out of their pockets, and when they dropped their coats onto the conveyor belt of the x-ray machine, they caused no problems. On past the glum, bored-looking security guard that checked their I.D.s and waved them through, they got in line to speak to someone at one of the desks behind glass panels.

“I think we should go out, when we get back to Lawrence,” Castiel said firmly, picking up their conversation from the sidewalk.

Dean couldn’t help but tense up a little.

Castiel squeezed his hand, and reassured him before he could even speak. “Once I am logged into the system here, Dean, no one can do anything, remember? I have to stay in the country, until my application is done processing. I’m here completely legally, if temporarily, as soon as they have me in their records, remember?”

Nodding, Dean licked his lips. “Yeah. Yeah, you’re right.”

“So,” Castiel prompted as they shuffled forward. “How about some burgers, a few drinks, just a nice relaxing evening, me and you? Hmm?”

Dean bit back a smirk at the subtle change in Castiel’s nervous demeanor now that Dean had sneakily cornered him into taking control of the situation. “Yeah, sounds good, Dmitri. Let’s knock this out, and then once we’re back in Lawrence, whatever you want.”

With a decisive nod, Castiel turned his attention from Dean to the middle-aged woman (Tonya, her name badge announced) that waved them up to her desk. Once prompted he slid his passport and the letter he’d received summoning him to the appointment through the gap in the glass.

In no time at all they were in a waiting room off to the side of the entryway, perched nervously on the edge of their uncomfortable seats. The chairs were in rows, all facing blue screens with lists of numbers, and the silence did nothing to make the room welcoming or calming. Luckily, they had each other for that, and it was only a minute before Dean’s hand sought out Castiel’s again, between their seats. Fuck it, he thought. If there’s anywhere we need to be convincing, it’s here. He ignored the fact that he wanted to entwine his fingers with Castiel’s just out of habit, and it was nothing to do with their cover at all. Castiel didn’t respond beyond a small squeeze and a tiny smile, his eyes fixed on the screens.

They waited for about forty minutes for Castiel’s registered alien number to flash up on the screen, next to a room number. Dean gave his hand one final squeeze before letting him go. He was alone, then, jiggling his knee and twiddling his thumbs and trying not to think about anything while he stared at the door Castiel had disappeared through.

Dean knew that this was the easiest part. But even so, just being here had him on edge, all kinds of traitorous thoughts like, what if they know? and, what if they don’t let him stay and he has to go back to Russia and it’s my fault? intruding into his brain even as he tried his best to fight them off.

Maybe Dean wasn’t the best at emotional things, but he wasn’t stupid. The more he sat, staring at the firmly closed door that separated him from Castiel, the more he knew, without a doubt: if Castiel wasn’t allowed to stay, it was gonna hurt like hell.

 

x

 

The Roadhouse was warm, noisy, and filled with the scent of Ellen’s Friday meatloaf, one of the only meals that could make Dean decline one of her burgers. Castiel claimed them a table in the back corner, while Dean ambled up to the bar, eyeing the top-shelf whiskey.

“How’s married life treatin’ you, son?” Bobby barked across the bar, waving away Dean’s emerging wallet with a scowl. “We’ve barely seen you since you bedded the Russian.”

Dean couldn’t help but grin across the bar. “It’s good. We just went and got Cas all registered with U.S.C.I.S. today, so he’s on his way to getting his Green Card sorted.”

“Celebrating, then?”

“Sort of, I guess?” Dean replied. “It’s a stressful process, but it went without a hitch, so Cas suggested we come and grab a bite to eat and a few drinks.”

“Oh, really?” Ellen appeared from behind Bobby with a white kitchen towel slung over her shoulder. “So, it’s Cas I’ve got to thank for you finally showing your face?”

Dean grinned meekly. “Sorry, Ellen. Sorry, Bobby. Life’s just been busy. Good busy, though, I guess.”

Ellen gave a little snort and pulled down the best vodka to go with the bourbon that Bobby was already pouring for Dean. “It’s alright, Dean. We remember what that honeymoon period is like. Just enjoy it.”

Even Bobby’s smile was warm as he pushed the two tumblers of alcohol across the bar. “Here. I’ll bring you some beers when we bring the meatloaf out—you make sure to stop by more often, y’hear?”

Suitably chastised, Dean took the offered drinks with a warm thanks and headed back across to the booth Castiel had secreted them away into. He was browsing through his phone as Dean approached, his stress-mussed hair haloed by the yellow light above the window. Smiling, Dean deposited himself into the seat opposite Castiel and pushed the glass of vodka across the table.

“Smells good in here,” Castiel pointed out, sniffing the air.

“Yup, Ellen’s cooking. I ordered some; you’ve gotta try it. And these are on Bobby.”

Wrapping his fingers around the gently sweating glass, Castiel raised it up toward the bar, catching Bobby’s eye with a grateful smile before he turned back to Dean, extending his glass. “ Davajte vupjem za to, chtobu mu isputali stolko gorya; skolko kapel vodka ostanetsya v nashikh bokalakh, ” Castiel toasted.

Dean brought his glass across to Castiel’s with a satisfying chink. “Gotta admit, buddy, all I got from that was something-vodka and something-glasses. You overestimate me.”

“I certainly do not,” Castiel countered with a small smile. “But that was probably a complex phrase for you. It’s a wish like…I hope that we have as much sorrow as we have drops of vodka left in our glasses. One of my dad’s favorites.”

“Your dad speaks Russian?”

“With an awful accent still, but yes. Once he became a Russian national he set about learning. Two decades, and he still can’t pronounce the word for ‘cheese’.”

Dean laughed helplessly into the edge of his glass, the ice clanking gently as he tipped it back. “Not much hope for me then, huh?”

“You’re doing very well,” Castiel praised softly. “You might not know all of the words, but your pronunciation is very good.”

“Well, I do have to listen to you all day.”

“Is my accent that bad?” Castiel asked, suddenly looking a little uncertain.

“Bad? No way, dude. It’s, uh”—Dean’s eyes moved around the bar, making sure there was no one close by to see his flush—“very nice, actually. I like it.”

One of Castiel’s dark, arching eyebrows pulled up a little higher, weighing Dean down in his seat a little farther without even a touch. “Is that so?”

“Oh, shut up,” Dean grumbled, poking Castiel’s ankle under the table. “You know. Though, I didn’t, really. Didn’t know that was, uh, kind of a thing for me, I mean. Until I met you.”

“Perhaps it’s just me,” Castiel said coyly, full of faux innocence as he took a sip from his glass.

Such a shit, Dean thought fondly, though he was spared from responding by the arrival of their waitress. Young and new, she hovered at the edge of their table, her eyes fixed on Dean with a small smile. “Can I get either of you anything?” she purred.

“Oh, no, thank you,” Dean responded politely. “Bobby’s got us sorted, so you can focus on your other tables.”

“Oh,” she said, not taking much trouble to hide her disappointment. “Well, you can let me know if you need anything,” she said, letting her eyes linger on Dean for a long, awkward moment.

Castiel reached across the table and wrapped Dean’s fingers into his own, pulling his hand across the surface and up to his lips. His eyes on the waitress, brazen and grinning, he pressed his lips to Dean’s fingers right beneath his wedding ring. “How about I’ll let you know if we need anything?”

Blinking and flushing, she nodded and practically ran from the table.

Unable to contain a chuckle, Dean pulled his hand back and shook his head. “Why don’t you just piss around me in a circle? It’d last longer.”

Smirking, Castiel regarded Dean over the top of his glass. “You said you weren’t into that, but it’s no skin off my nose if—”

“Dude, no, eww.” Dean burst out laughing, shaking his head.

“What’s so funny, you two?” Bobby rumbled from the edge of the table, leaning over to lower two steaming plates of meatloaf and mashed potatoes down in front of them. “It’s nice to see you having a good time. Can’t say we see Dean this happy a lot,” he said, smiling across at Castiel.

“Hey,” Dean grumbled. “Don’t be an embarrassing dad, Bobby, I’m too old for that crap.”

Bobby snorted. “Don’t let Ellen hear ya. She’s ten times worse than me. Enjoy your meatloaf, boys,” he said, his warm smile including Castiel as he took two open beer bottles from the crook of his arm and placed them down, too.

Dean had a momentary pang of guilt as he saw how much Bobby was truly happy for him and Castiel, but it passed as soon as Castiel poked his ankle under the table and winked before digging into his gravy-drowned potatoes. It didn’t feel as much like a lie as it once had.

They ate quickly, loving the food and chatting idly throughout, barely a quiet moment. They had just begun digging into the slices of homemade apple pie that Ellen had told their blushing waitress bring over, when Castiel nudged Dean’s foot.

“So,” he began, balancing his fork on his bottom lip with a wicked grin. “Don’t think that I don’t know what you were doing, earlier.”

Dean eyed his pie intently. “Don’t know what you mean, Cas.”

“Asking me questions until I had to focus on making decisions, taking control a little,” Castiel said bluntly, smiling around his fork.

“Ahh,” Dean said. “That.”

Castiel carried on smiling, flashes of white teeth around his fork as he softly replied, “Thank you. It helped.”

Dean nodded slowly, pushing his empty pie plate away and focusing on Castiel instead. “I wasn’t trying to do much. I didn’t even know if it’d work, really, because I don’t know why you are the way you are—but I figured it was worth a chance, if it’d make you calm down a little, maybe feel better.”

Pushing his last bite of pie slowly around his plate, Castiel spoke to the crumbs rather than Dean. “I suppose I like to take control in that way because…well, I don’t know if you know much about being a writer Dean, beyond watching me tap out words at my desk.”

“Can’t say I do.”

“It’s nice because I essentially work for myself, on my own deadlines. But actually, I have very little control over any of it—I come up with an idea, I write it as best I can. But then my agent gets a say, my editor gets a say. The whole thing is totally subject to the whims of the market—one book can do well, the next sell only a fraction as much. A lot of it is business. You can study the trends and try to work to them, but there’s so much of it that is just out of my hands.”

“Right,” Dean said, nodding slowly as he understood. “You feel like most of your life is out of your control. Except…that,” Dean alluded, conscious that they were seated so publicly despite their private corner. “That, you can control.”

Castiel gave a one-shouldered shrug, still regarding his plate. “For a lot of my life, I didn’t have any say in what happened to me and I spent my days afraid. Afraid of who I was and what it meant, and what it would mean for my life as I went out in the world. Back when I was in college, I tried subbing for a while,” he explained quietly. “I’m glad I did; it gave me a lot of important understanding. But I soon worked out it wasn’t actually what I needed.”

Dean gave Castiel a warm smile, nudging his foot under the table. “Well, I’m glad. Because it’s pretty damn hot.”

Making Castiel laugh seemed to be the right way to go, as he finally looked up from his plate with a slow grin. “Well, I’m glad that in our own ways, we can help each other.” Smiling his small, precious smile that still, after all these months, felt like it was for Dean and Dean alone, Castiel picked up his beer bottle and brought it back to his lips. After draining the last few drops, his eyes never leaving Dean’s, his tongue darted out to moisten his lips. “Are you ready to go home, Dean?”

As powerless to the pull of Castiel’s sexy voice and beautiful eyes as he’d ever been, Dean merely nodded. Throwing some cash down on the table (which he always did, despite Bobby and Ellen’s grumbling), Dean slid out of the booth and waited for Castiel to do the same.

Out in the dark, drizzling night, Dean took a moment to be glad that they’d parked Baby at home and walked the few streets to the Roadhouse from Dean’s townhouse. The cool air was refreshing, even with the light rain, and he couldn’t help but smile at the way that Castiel’s trench coat collar stuck up awkwardly, brushing against his hair. Dean reached over to fix it, smiling slightly, his eyes catching Castiel’s briefly as he smoothed out the fabric. He never commented on the old, ill-fitting trench coat anymore. It was part of Castiel, and he loved it.

They walked briskly, not talking, just enjoying a comfortable and slightly charged silence as they made their way over the damp-darkened sidewalks. They were close enough for the backs of their hands to occasionally brush as they moved, but neither of them reached out—letting the air between them charge and build, instead.

There was a small front yard leading up to Dean’s door, just a few feet of bushes and gravel on either side of the small path. Pushing through the gate, Castiel held it open for Dean so that he could make his way through. Dean paused in the doorway, fishing his keys out of his pocket. He could feel Castiel right behind him, like an electric charge in the growing storm, and in his distraction he fumbled his keyring and dropped them to the floor with a mocking jingle.

“Shit,” Dean rumbled beneath his breath. He crouched, feeling around in the dim illumination from the streetlight beyond the gate, mentally berating himself for never thinking to install a porch light until that moment.

Castiel shifted slightly, stepping up into the doorway to shield himself from the increasing rain, and when Dean straightened back up with his keys in hand, they were face to face, only inches between them.

Dean huffed out a small laugh. “Sorry about that,” he said, waving the keys. “Need a light out here.”

As if he hadn’t even heard, Castiel just nodded vaguely, his eyes on Dean’s as they stood close, the air crackling in the quiet night. “I had a good time tonight,” Castiel said softly, his voice barely louder than the raindrops.

“Me too,” Dean breathed out into Castiel’s space. “It was a good idea to go out, let off a little steam.”

Castiel’s eyes had drifted down until they danced across Dean’s lips, and Dean found himself desperately hoping that Castiel would cross the bare inches and kiss him.

But, he didn’t. Dean thought he was about to—Castiel leaned in, and Dean’s breath hitched—but he continued past Dean’s cheek, his voice rumbling low into Dean’s ear as Dean jammed the key into the door.

“You were joking about me being possessive at the Roadhouse—but I can’t blame that waitress at all. I could barely keep my eyes off you.”

Dean’s heart gave an out-of-sync thump against his rib cage. “Wanted to mark me as yours?”

“Don’t tempt me,” Castiel’s low voice threatened deliciously as Dean feebly wrestled with the lock. “You already told me you love to be spanked and filled, so don’t think marking you up is off the table, either.”

Sucking in a deep breath, Dean pushed the door open, before turning his attention back to Castiel. He angled himself against the door frame, his head lolling back against the wood for just a moment before he brought his eyes deliberately back to Castiel’s. His irises were almost navy in the nearly full moon that was creeping overhead. The air smelled of petrichor and distant woodsmoke, the pattering sounds of raindrops hitting the waxy leaves of the low bushes in the yard the only backing track to their closeness.

For a moment, a decision hanging in the air, they just watched each other. Then Dean leaned in, mimicking Castiel’s motion from only moments before, his upper lip just touching the curve of Castiel’s ear. “What if I want to tempt you, Sir?”

Castiel’s throat caught audibly, and he gave out a low groan of pleasure. He didn’t speak straight away, his hand rising to loop around Dean and tangle in the short hair at the nape of his neck, first. Dean melted into his grip automatically, tilting his head as Castiel’s mouth came to rest at the skin under his ear, pressing his words into it.

“As you wish,” he practically purred, his lips meeting Dean’s neck and dragging slowly down his throat.

It was languid enough to make Dean give out a whimper, his head falling back against the wood once more, a puff of breath curling out in the chilling air of the night. Dean’s body buzzed beneath Castiel’s attention as he dragged his tongue down to the plumpest part of Dean’s neck, right above the spot where it joined his shoulder. Castiel suckled at the skin, tasting it, rolling the flesh between his teeth as his hands clawed into the back of Dean’s hair, holding him in place. Dean panted, his eyes falling shut in pleasure was a dull, tingling pain alerted him to the blooming bruise he’d wear the next day, pressed into his body by Castiel’s teeth.

Dean felt Castiel’s lips curl into a grin against him as he let out a whimper. Their bodies were pressed tight together by that point, and Dean could feel Castiel’s ribcage rising and falling against his front. He could feel Castiel’s thickening cock, mere inches away from his own, through the thin denim of the worn, comfortable jeans he’d thrown on to wear to the Roadhouse. His mouth catching against skin the whole way, Castiel slowly moved back up Dean’s throat to his ear, before gliding across to his cheek, the kisses smaller, lighter, tapering off as he slowly pulled back.

They looked at each other, breathing shakily but in sync.

“What do you want, moj mal’chik?” Castiel asked, low and wanting.

You, Dean thought desperately. All of you. Your lips, your cock, your scent, your— “Taste,” Dean blurted out, quiet but desperate. “I want to taste you.”

Castiel didn’t answer him. Their eyes remained locked, and Castiel’s hand slowly slid from the back of Dean’s neck down to his shoulder, resting on the seam of Dean’s old khaki jacket. The moment drew out long, and for every second that Castiel didn’t speak, Dean’s heart cranked up another notch.

But then the hand on Dean’s shoulder tightened, and Castiel pressed down. Slow and determined, Castiel’s eyes never left Dean as he steadily compelled him to his knees.

As Dean lowered the last few inches to the floor by himself and settled onto his heels, Castiel’s hand slid up from Dean’s shoulder again and tangled loosely in his hair, a gentle hold that Dean leaned into once more.

“Color?” Castiel rasped from above.

Here? The back of Dean’s mind panicked, smelling the rain beyond the tiny porch area and feeling the damp cling of night against his exposed neck. Here! the other part demanded, his senses filled with Castiel and far beyond concern over the slim chance of a neighbor walking by at this hour. Realistically, they were obscured from the road by the bushes as much as by the dark of the night, but at that moment Dean wasn’t sure he’d have cared if Mrs. Robinson from number forty-three had come out for a chat—he was too distracted by the solid bulge in the front of Castiel’s jeans that was growing by the minute.

“Green,” Dean confirmed. His eyes locked on Castiel’s face, Dean leaned forward, his hands on Castiel’s thighs. He watched Castiel’s lips part on a breath, sucking in air sharply as Dean pushed his face into the denim, nosing up the length before him, dragging his parted lips over the fabric.

Ty prekrasen, you look so good on your knees,” Castiel said, his voice low as he directed it down to where Dean knelt. “Go ahead, sweet boy. You’ll look even better with my cock in your mouth.”

Dean didn’t need telling twice, his hands sliding up Castiel’s thighs to fumble with his button and zipper. He didn’t pull Castiel’s pants down—it was cold, and he wanted to maintain what little privacy they had in their nook—instead pushing his hand into the parted zipper and tugging Castiel out swiftly through the front of his straining boxers. Castiel hissed as his cock bobbed briefly in the cold air, but the sound quickly melted into a content hum as Dean leaned straight in, hungrily laving his tongue from Castiel’s root to his head.

The paperwork that Castiel had bought back from the clinic in town earlier in the week, added to the drawer of Castiel’s desk along with Dean’s own, may not have been the sexiest part of their new adventure. Even so, Dean was ecstatically grateful for it as he tasted the eager salt and musk of Castiel’s tip on his tongue.

Castiel hummed and panted softly above him as Dean slowly took him in, working his way down inch by inch. Dean was already in heaven—last time, he hadn’t even been able to touch; he’d only been able to admire Castiel’s smooth, straight cock as Castiel had jerked off above him. Now he was allowed to slide Castiel’s hot skin against his tongue, measure the heft of him with his lips, feel the tiny, controlled jerk of Castiel’s hips against his face.

Deliberately, Dean looked up at Castiel from beneath his eyelashes in the yellowish streetlight.

“Yes,” Castiel hissed softly. “Just like that—good boy, such a good boy.”

Castiel’s hips gave another aborted jerk as Dean pressed him to the roof of his mouth, using his tongue to massage the underside of his cock as he splayed his fingers desperately on Castiel’s hips. He continued looking up at Castiel, his eyes wide, as he sucked and bobbed, sliding Castiel right back on his tongue, forcefully suppressing his gag reflex as he hollowed out his cheeks and gulped him down.  

“Fuck,” Castiel groaned out above him, his head falling forward and his eyes falling shut, one hand coming up to support himself on the doorframe above Dean’s head. The other curled into Dean’s hair, tighter, jerking his head back at a sharper angle.

Dean couldn’t help a soft gagging, choking noise as Castiel’s movement knocked the head of his cock back into Dean’s throat. Castiel’s eyes flew open at the sound, dark and blown in the dim light. He bit his lip, and Dean could feel Castiel’s hips tremble beneath his hands as he held back. He was being polite, Dean knew, being good to him, but Dean could see Castiel’s desperate longing to thrust forward in every twitch of his pelvis.

Sliding off of Castiel with a slick pop , Dean tongued around the ridge of Castiel’s head, catching his breath, never looking away. As Castiel gazed down at him, panting, Dean grinned slowly, shifting his hands around to the sides of Castiel’s hips and tugging him temptingly forward. Dean rested his head back on the door frame, pulling at Castiel, guiding him back to his mouth. “Green,” Dean said deliberately, although he hadn’t been asked. “So green.”

Castiel’s eyes widened in pleasure as Dean tugged him forward, fucking his dick down into Dean’s mouth. Tightening his fingers in Dean’s hair, Castiel let out a low moan before edging his hips forward, slowly at first.

Dean breathed out carefully through his nose, determined to show how good he could be, how much he could take. He gazed up at Castiel unerringly, his fingers snaking under Castiel’s coat and shirt to caress at his skin encouragingly. It seemed to reassure him that Dean was fine with this, on board, eager; as Castiel looked back he gave a delirious, heated grin, before snapping his hips forward with more vigor.

The feel of Castiel’s thick, hot cock sliding across his tongue to slam back into Dean’s mouth, the smooth head knocking into the slick arch of the back of his throat, was a delicious, almost out-of-body sensation. Dean breathed as evenly as he could, concentrating on loosening his throat, keeping his gag reflex in check. But he didn’t bother to suppress the gargling, gagging noises that the enthusiastic face fucking produced—he let them out, instead, humming and choking around Castiel’s cock with abandon.

“Oh, fuck— holy shit— I…” Castiel was beginning to lose it above Dean, his arms trembling along with his thighs as he slammed forward and back, thrusting faster.

Spit was beginning to spill out of the corners of Dean’s mouth. He could feel wet trails down his chin, and tears sprang to his eyes as Castiel’s salty, precome-leaking tip smacked back into his throat once more. Dean tightened his fingers on Castiel’s hips encouragingly, trying all he could to signal with his eyes that he was good, he was more than good, he wanted—

“I’m going to—” Castiel began sharply, his body beginning to recede. But Dean whimpered around his shaft, his eyes widening further, calling him back.

And so, with a shaking gasp, Castiel thrust forward again, mewling Russian into the air as he gushed thick, warm come down Dean’s throat.

Dean choked on it, gargling it down as best he could, but losing a little down his chin as Castiel slowly withdrew, panting.

Castiel dropped immediately to his knees, matching Dean, his hands sliding down from the door and Dean’s head to slip around his shoulders and pull Dean close into his heaving chest. Dean could feel Castiel’s racing heartbeat through his shirt, and he smiled messily into the fabric.

“Good?” Dean croaked after a few seconds of breathing, his voice just as wrecked as the furious face fucking demanded.

“Oh,” Castiel panted softly, and Dean could feel his grin against the side of his face. “It was alright, I suppose.”

Weakly, Dean gave Castiel a playful shove in the shoulder. Castiel’s arms only tightened around him, and soft, light kisses made their way from Dean’s ear down to his throat as Castiel’s body pulled itself slowly back together.

“That was amazing, moj mal’chik ,” Castiel said after another moment, tugging at Dean’s shirt to press his words into his clavicle. “Now, how about you let me take you upstairs and reward you for that delicious gift, hmm?”

The privilege of having Castiel use him so was enough of a reward by itself. Dean hadn’t even been thinking of reciprocation—but if his Dom thought that he’d earned it, wanted to give it, who was Dean to argue? He nodded against Castiel’s chest. “Yes, Sir…I’d like that, please.”

Before Dean knew what was happening, Castiel’s strong, yoga-toned arms were sliding down his back, across Dean’s ass cheeks, and cupping under his thighs, hoisting Dean upward even as Castiel pushed himself up to his feet. Dean gasped at being manhandled, but he couldn’t even begin to voice a complaint as Castiel wrapped Dean’s legs around his waist and supported his back, pushing open the long-forgotten door. Castiel nuzzled into the side of Dean’s neck as he rescued the keys from the lock with one hand, Dean’s hands coming up automatically to cling to the shoulders of the trench coat that Castiel still wore as the door was kicked closed behind them.

“Come along then, kotyonok, ” Castiel murmured, tightening his grip around Dean’s waist as he took the stairs. “Time for me to mark even more of you as mine.”

A small thrill beat its way through Dean’s chest as he hoped Castiel meant what he thought he did. “Yes, please, Sir,” he replied eagerly, a croak in his choked-out voice.

The stairs creaked under the weight of two full grown, muscled men steadily making their way up them. Dean had closed his eyes, his spine and forehead curling over to Castiel’s shoulder by the time they reached the top, but he heard the tell-tale squeak of Castiel’s bedroom door as he pushed the arm that he held Dean with against it, easing it open.

A testament to Castiel’s neatness, the bed that Dean was tumbled gently down on top of was perfectly made. The room hadn’t changed much since Dean had set it up, back at the beginning of fall when Castiel arrived. There were books and piles of paper and the legendary typewriter on the desk, the closet was full, and various storage boxes lined the bookshelves, but it seemed more like Castiel had merged his life into the room, rather than replaced what Dean had already put there. Dean found himself smiling hazily at the thought as his back hit the creaky mattress. “Ooof,” he said, half-joking. “We need to get you some memory foam. My mattress is so much better.”

“Would you prefer to do this there?” Castiel asked immediately, his trench coat falling to the floor as he crawled above Dean on the bed. Not even Castiel, it seemed, could be persuaded to dull their electricity by doing something as mundane as hanging up his coat.

“No, no.” Dean shook his head, his hands rising to Castiel’s shoulders. Castiel straddled him, the mattress dipping under their combined weight as Castiel smoothly latched his lips back to Dean’s neck as if they’d never left. Humming in pleasure, Dean closed his eyes. “Here is good,” he said. “I like it here.”

Castiel continued his determined attentions at Dean’s neck for a few minutes, enjoying the taste of him, if the small, content sounds he made into Dean’s skin could be trusted. Castiel’s face was still flushed, his shirt untucked and his pants open, in exactly the post-orgasmic mess that Dean had created—but he didn’t seem to care, all his focus on Dean.

Dean let his hands roam across the uncovered muscles of Castiel’s back as his shirt rode up, enjoying the slight shifting of skin beneath the pads of his fingers with every tiny movement that Castiel made. His eyes slipped shut for a moment, and he simply let himself enjoy it, let himself imagine that all of this was really his.

“Roll over,” Castiel whispered beneath his ear.

Eyes opening immediately, Dean obeyed without even thinking, shifting over onto his stomach so that his face was buried into the pillows. They smelled like Castiel; warm and cinnamony, and Dean couldn’t help but subtly huff in the scent as he felt Castiel moving down his body.

“Good boy,” Castiel praised as Dean settled, and Dean felt his hands trailing across Dean’s back. He pushed up Dean’s shirt, letting his fingers spread across the back of Dean’s ribs, and Dean gave a small hum in response before taking the cue and pushing up on his elbows, shucking the shirt off over his head.

Dean arched his back as he felt fingers dragging down his spine, earning him a swat to the butt.

“Stay still,” Castiel ordered, and Dean froze immediately, focused only on the scent surrounding him and the sensation of Castiel’s hands on his skin.

Castiel’s fingers made their leisurely way to Dean’s waistband, slowly trailing around to his hips, one hand each side, before slipping underneath him. “Up,” Castiel said quietly, and he quickly worked the button and zipper of Dean’s jeans as Dean quirked his hips up in compliance.

Tugging Dean’s jeans down over his thighs and pulling them off, Castiel made a pleased noise as he dropped them audibly to the floor. Dean’s chest swelled just a little, preening, glad that he could please Castiel in some way.

“You’re gorgeous,” Castiel confirmed, sliding his hands back up Dean’s thighs so that his fingertips slid under the legs of his boxers just a teasing fraction, squeezing at Dean’s muscles. “I love your freckles,” Castiel continued, drawing his hands back before one finger hooked into Dean’s elastic waistband, pulling at it teasingly. “I’ll bet they stand out even more beautifully once you’ve been spanked red, hmm?”

Dean couldn’t help a small groan into the pillow, half-hard already.

“May I?” Castiel asked, tugging at Dean’s waistband again.

“Yeah, of course,” Dean mumbled into the pillow, delighted that Castiel would ask, even as totally in control as he was.

The elastic pinged back against Dean’s skin sharply. “Of course, what?” Castiel said much more firmly.

“Of course, Sir,” Dean babbled quickly, his flush at forgetting buried in the bedding.

“Better,” Castiel soothed. Dean felt both of his hands come up, tugging Dean’s underwear downward. He lifted his hips to help Castiel out, and give space for his swelling cock to be freed from where it was trapped in fabric.

There was a soft noise as Dean’s boxers joined the rest of his clothes on the floor, and then a gentle, warm sensation fluttered against the back of Dean’s calf.

Dean moaned again, squeezing his eyes shut and pushing his face into the bed as Castiel slowly kissed his way up from Dean’s ankle, past his knee and across the inside of his thigh. Dean felt Castiel’s devilish smile against the soft flesh of his leg as he let out the sound, and Castiel’s warm, delighted voice came just a second after.

“My boy likes to be spoiled, likes to be cared for, hmm?”

Dean could barely squeak out an affirmative sound, but at least he could hide his embarrassment in the pillows.

“It’s been far too lacking in your life,” Castiel continued, his hands sweeping across Dean’s hips and up his flanks, stroking luxuriously. “You’ve always been the one to provide, to be strong, to take care of others.”

There was a pressure at Dean’s back as Castiel leaned over him, his lips hovering behind Dean’s ear.

“Not any longer,” he whispered.

Dean shuddered involuntarily, the low rasp of Castiel’s accent thickening his cock up even further against the sheets. His mouth felt like it was full of words he wouldn’t let himself say; what came out, into the fabric, was a choked, soft, “Thank you, Sir.”

It wasn’t everything, but it was something.

As Castiel drew back, his hands slid to Dean’s hips, tugging them up off the bed. “It’s my pleasure, sweet boy,” Castiel replied, the palms of his hands gliding across the globes of Dean’s ass and squeezing with a pleased hum. “I’m very lucky to be allowed to play with you—so where shall we start, hmm? Tell me about being spanked, moj mal’chik… tell me how you like it, what you’ve done before.”

That, Dean could do. Pressing his eyes closed, Dean focused on the wonderful feeling of Castiel’s hands on his skin and the shivering sensation that his caressing fingers made Dean feel. “I like the sensation of it…the impact and the burn, the warm tingling afterward. Sometimes I like it rough, like with a solid flogger or something, and I can negotiate taking it further than that—but honestly, a firm hand is my favorite, Sir. Just…skin on skin, I guess.”

Castiel made an approving noise and rested one hand on the small of Dean’s back, encouraging him to push his ass up and out, displaying himself.

Too drugged by Castiel’s addictive touches and approval to feel any apprehension, Dean couldn’t help but lift his head a bit, looking back over his shoulder with a shit-eating grin as he gave his ass a little wiggle.

Castiel gave a soft laugh, not seeming to mind at all. He bent over, kneeling on the mattress, and gave the fullness of Dean’s left cheek a teasing bite as he unbuttoned his own shirt. Dean yelped a little, though he couldn’t help but grin as he watched Castiel strip down. Castiel let his shirt fall onto the floor where Dean’s clothes were piled, then slipped his pants off so that only his simple, dark boxers remained. Dean let his eyes roam across Castiel’s tanned chest, following his light smattering of chest hair on down into his underwear.

“You’re—” Beautiful, Dean’s brain supplied. Captivating, astounding, addictive… “ —all manner of hot,” he said.

The softest flush built around Castiel’s neck; if Dean hadn’t already been drinking in the guy’s every pore with his eyes, it would have been easy to miss. But Dean didn’t miss it, and it made him strangely warm inside. Castiel’s eyes dropped momentarily, and rather than answer, he returned his attention to Dean’s ass cheeks. For a moment, Castiel just trailed his fingers across the skin, but then he began kneading more firmly, squeezing and gripping firm handfuls of flesh. “I’d like to start out with just my bare hand,” he announced, his voice steady, firm, and eager. “I want you to breathe in on each strike, then slowly breathe out as the feeling dissipates—can you do that for me, sweet boy?”

Dean tucked his forehead back into the pillows as he nodded, his breath hitching in anticipation. “Yes…gladly, Sir.”

Castiel’s hand still rested on Dean’s ass, unmoving.

Electric tension in the air, Dean waited, trying not to squirm. He darted his tongue out, moistening his lips and preparing to beg, please, please, Sir, I want to feel you so bad… when the first strike hit, out of nowhere.

It wasn’t hard; it stung, the slapping noise as Castiel reared his cupped hand back and brought it firmly down onto Dean’s right cheek resounded in the room, but was barely louder than Dean’s sudden, sharp intake of breath. It caught him by surprise, just as Castiel had clearly intended, but it was measured and careful, and the sting passed after only a couple of seconds.

“Color?” Castiel asked softly, his fingers gently stroking the buzzing from Dean’s skin.

“Green,” Dean gasped immediately. “More, Sir, please.”

Dean could picture Castiel’s devilish grin even if he couldn’t see it, the way his tongue would poke against his white teeth, his pointy, little incisors just showing past his plump lips. He didn’t respond, and his second hit was harder, by a mere fraction, and landed on the other cheek, this time.

Again, Dean heaved in a breath as Castiel’s hand landed, and slowly let it out through his teeth as the pain quickly ebbed away. He couldn’t explain to anyone who didn’t know ; he’d never been able to explain why this felt so good. Why the tingling, warming sensation across his skin caused his heartbeat to race and his cock to harden, why the anticipation of the hit made him curl his fingers eagerly into the bedding, why the second where Castiel’s hand connected felt like a pure, uncomplicated, crack of bliss. But it did, and Castiel didn’t question it, he only gave Dean what he needed, with no judgement at all. Just that smile like a devil with the hands of an angel, that gently massaged out the tingling pain before they’d lay another on him, then another.

Dean floated.  

He breathed through it exactly as instructed, the rhythm of his lungs in tandem with Castiel’s hand giving the whole experience an almost meditative quality. Every few hits, Castiel would check in with Dean, asking him his color. It was green, always green. He only briefly came out of his fog of pleasure when the strikes paused, he felt the bed lurch as Castiel moved away.

Dean lifted his head from the pillow, frowning, looking back and immediately beginning to search for Castiel—but Castiel’s hand came to the small of his back immediately, grounding him.

“I’m still here, moj mal’chik, ” he rasped, and Dean suddenly heard the full weight of arousal in his Dom’s voice. It was nice to think that this wasn’t just for him; that Castiel was affected by this too. “I’m just getting something, I’m not going anywhere,” Castiel reassured.

Humming a content agreement, Dean lowered his face back into the pillows, arching his back and presenting his burning ass shamelessly. He wanted more; probably more than was good for him, but Castiel, he trusted, would know exactly when to stop. Dean wasn’t making the decisions.

The bed lurched again only a second later, and Dean heard the tell-tale pop of a cap flipping open.

“How are you doing, hmm?” Castiel asked, slick sounds beneath his words behind Dean.

“Good, very good, Sir,” Dean said, smiling hazily into the pillow. “What are you doing, Sir?”

“Hopefully, rewarding you for being so very good today,” Castiel said, and Dean could hear the smile in his voice.

Curious, Dean raised his head, peered over his shoulder and caught sight of Castiel, entirely naked now—when had that happened?—slicking up a long, slim prostate vibrator. Dean let out a deep, happy groan. The idea of finally having something between his stinging, hot ass cheeks was heavenly. Dean let his eyes linger; Castiel’s thick cock stood proudly, glossy at the tip with precome, red in the dim light of the lamp at the side of the bed—Dean wasn’t sure when that got turned on, either.

Slick fingers trailed from Dean’s tailbone slowly down to his taint, leaving a slippery road of lube over his hole. Castiel had taken the time to warm it on his fingers, but even so, against Dean’s stinging skin it was jarring. Grunting, he bit his lip as Castiel called softly, “Color?”

“Green, still green,” Dean reassured, relaxing once more and dropping his shoulders.

“I’m glad,” Castiel responded, one finger circling Dean’s hole temptingly. “I want this to be good for you, sweet boy—you were so good to me today, and it’s been such a stressful week. You deserve it, don’t you?”

Dean squeezed his eyes shut. He hesitated, but he knew what Castiel wanted from him, even without being explicitly told. “Yes, Sir.”

“Tell me,” Castiel commanded.

“I—I deserve it.” Dean struggled, but he knew that was Castiel’s point. And he was grateful for it; it was easier, here, in the fuzzy, delightful haze of submission, to echo the praise that he desired from others. Things he’d struggle to even hear outside of all this, outside of Castiel.

“Of course you do, moj mal’chik, ” Castiel crooned, breaching Dean with one finger.

Dean breathed through it, arching his back involuntarily, pushing back, craving more.

“Greedy boy,” Castiel said, sounding amused, already pumping his finger up to his second knuckle, Dean could tell, and the pressure of a second finger beginning. “You take my fingers so well, don’t you, good boy? Hungry for them.”

Dean gasped down into the bedding, burying his face in the pillow again, nodding. “Yes—yes, Sir. I never needed a ton of prep, really, I—I like it,” he panted out, a shiver climbing his spine.

Two fingers quickly became three, to a background of whispered praise and gentle lips caressing over Dean’s burning skin.

“Ahh—” Dean hissed out as the three fingers withdrew, leaving him lonely. “You feel so good, Sir. Your fingers in me…been craving them a long time,” he admitted.

The devilish tone returned, and there was a slick, pumping sound, which simply had to be Castiel giving his own neglected cock some attention before returning to Dean. “Oh?” Castiel asked, coy. “You wanted my fingers, did you?”

The nudge of the long, plastic vibrator—thin and bulbous at the end, especially made for prostate stimulation, Dean knew—brought Dean’s head up from the pillow once more. With only a little push, the toy popped into him, past the first ring of muscle, guided by Castiel’s steady hand. It already felt good, the few minutes of Castiel’s probing fingers already building a buzz in his core. “Fuck,” Dean hissed happily as Castiel pushed it on in, tilting it expertly as he guided it. “Yes, Sir. Your fingers…and your cock, Sir.”

There was a tiny click, and suddenly Dean was filled with the most delicious buzzing. He cried out, a nonsensical noise that described the fuzzy, static sensation that Dean had begun to sense ratcheting up sharply under such direct stimulation.

“My cock, hmm?” Castiel said, sliding the toy almost lazily in and out of Dean, driving it over his prostate every time. “You want me to fuck you, moj mal’chik ?”

Deans knees were getting stiff, but he couldn’t care. “Yes!” he gasped out, eyes wide, his back bowing. “Oh, please—please, please, Sir, I’d love it, I’d love your cock in me…”

Castiel gave out a low, helpless groan at Dean’s totally shameless begging. “Your mouth, Bozhe moj. How am I supposed to resist that?

Drawing the vibrator torturously slowly across Dean’s prostate, Castiel reached out, his hand cracking across Dean’s ass once more, spanking him firmly. The cry that Dean gave out in response wasn’t any language, but it was desperate and loud. “Fuck!” he panted, following the noise up with weak, desperate words. “Please, I can take it…”

As the vibrator withdrew slowly from inside him, Dean heard it click off and almost buzzed across the bed just on his own, every muscle craving and desperate— finally, oh please, finally— as Castiel shifted behind him.

The nudge of Castiel’s hard cock at Dean’s hole drew a shaking groan from them both.

“Color?” Castiel gasped unevenly as he waited, his hands shaking on Dean’s hips.

“Green!” Dean practically yelled. Dear God, just fuck me…

Castiel let out a long, heavy sigh of pleasure as he pushed forward, sheathing himself inside Dean with one long, smooth thrust. Dean gritted his teeth, biting back a small whimper; Castiel was definitely thicker than the toy had been, and he shook for a moment, his ribcage aching as it heaved in and out at the intrusion. Castiel seemed to know not to move, giving Dean a moment to adjust as he leaned forward, one hand down on the bed as he draped himself across Dean’s back.

“That’s it,” Castiel rasped after a moment as Dean relaxed beneath him. “You really can take it, can’t you, my good boy?”

“Yes,” Dean panted in agreement. “Yes, Sir.”

Castiel slowly drew his hips back until Dean could feel the ridge of Castiel’s head tugging at his rim, before driving back in, pulling at Dean’s hips with his hands, splitting him on his cock.

“Fuck!” Dean cried out, his cock throbbing between his legs and leaving glossy drips of precome on the bedding.

Words weren’t coherent after that for Dean, his body resorting to grunts and soft begging noises for more, more, harder, deeper.

Castiel obliged every one of the sounds, his fingers digging hard into Dean’s flanks as he fucked him with abandon. Dean could feel his orgasm steaming toward him, filling the space beneath his belly button like a balloon of static, being blown up further and further until it was about to pop.

“I—I, Sir, I need—” Dean cried out desperately, choking on the words and praying for Castiel to understand them.

He did; his arm snaking around to Dean’s front without hesitation, taking him firmly in hand and twisting his fist around the head of Dean’s cock.

Dean came hard, with a dry, croaky cry that reminded him that his throat had already been well used that night. Castiel fucked him through it, fast and deep, chasing his own release with increasingly shaky pants. He curled over Dean, reaching forward to straighten him up on his knees as he pounded relentlessly upward, still striking Dean’s prostate viciously. Castiel wrapped his arm around Dean’s chest, catching his jaw and directing Dean’s face back toward his own, so that he could breathe words into the space behind his ear.

“Can you take both, sweet boy?”

“Both?” Dean gasped helplessly, his sore ass stinging still further from Castiel’s heavy thrusting.

With a click and a buzz behind him, Dean heard Castiel’s other hand retrieve the slim vibrator. “You did say,” Castiel practically purred, his voice far too fucking steady for what he was doing, “that you liked to be stretched and filled.”

Dean could only moan and nod emphatically as the toy pressed at the edges of his sloppy, lubed hole, right beneath Castiel’s cock. Castiel gave out a mirrored moan as he slowly, carefully worked the toy in alongside himself, the way that it pressed up against him, buzzing, no doubt just as pleasant for him as for Dean.

“Oh, shit,” Dean gasped, his eyes widening as he felt his balls tightening, his body reacting once more, lower and deeper than before. Prostate orgasms always felt different to the normal kind, and the one that was building deep in his pelvis was going to be a big one, he could tell.

“Can you come again for me?” Castiel asked into Dean’s skin, kissing the sweat at the back of Dean’s neck and nosing behind his ear, a notable desperate pitch to his voice that was tearing Dean apart all by itself.

Dean didn’t often come multiple times even with prostate stimulation, but he was in no doubt that it was going to happen this time. “Yes, yes, can’t—can’t stop it,” he babbled senselessly.

“Don’t try to stop it,” Castiel ordered, his hand moving down to tug at Dean’s cock, softening from his first orgasm and slick with come. “Come on, sweetheart, you can do it, come on my cock again—”

Castiel’s voice cut off sharply as he whined, and Dean felt Castiel’s cock pulsing in his ass, filling him with Castiel’s second orgasm of the night. Dean wasn’t far behind. Castiel gave a small, sensitive hiss and withdrew immediately, but he didn’t give Dean any respite, grabbing the toy before it could fall out and fucking him with it, even though Dean could feel Castiel’s thighs trembling with the exertion of holding him upright against Dean’s back. The sensation of Castiel’s come trickling out of him around the toy did it, and Dean stumbled forward as he came again, practically dry, silent as his body shook.

Dean barely even heard the praise pressed into his skin, across his neck, his shoulders, his throat, his eyes tight shut as he melted down onto the mattress with Castiel’s arms around him.

 

 

Dean was clean, and there was a fresh blanket tucked over him, warm arms around him, and a solid, comforting weight behind him. Relaxed, he pressed back, smiling and making a pleased sound as everything in the room seemed to settle and become brighter once more.

“There you are,” Castiel rumbled from behind Dean’s ear, one of the hands looped over Dean’s stomach rising up to begin an idle stroking rhythm down Dean’s arm. “I was beginning to think you were out for the night.”  

Dean stretched his toes downward toward the end of the bed, wiggling them against the crisp, clean bedding. Blinking, he squinted up over his shoulder at Castiel. “How did I not notice you changing the sheets?”

Castiel gave a deep chuckle in response. “You were somewhere else,” he said lightly, leaning down to press his lips to Dean’s temple. “You seemed perfectly content, so I wasn’t about to disturb you immediately. You should drink some water, now though.”

Dean grumbled slightly, and settled back down into the pillow again, squeezing his eyes shut and snuggling back into Castiel. “In a minute,” he said.

“No,” Castiel insisted from behind him. “You won’t fight me on this. It’s non-negotiable.”

Letting out a small sigh against the pillow, breathing in its warm, Castiel scent, Dean wiggled back against Castiel, tangling their legs indulgently. “But this is the best part,” he complained softly, still a little fuzzy around the edges from his peaceful, content little piece of subspace.

The hand that stroked down Dean’s arm paused near his elbow, freezing just briefly. “Alright,” Castiel murmured into the crown of Dean’s head after a pause. “Just a few more minutes,” he said, his voice strangely small and distant.

Content, Dean nuzzled down into the pillow.

He’d almost begun to doze off when Castiel shifted slightly behind him again, untangling them slowly. “Come on,” he said, pressing a hand firmly into Dean’s shoulder. “I want you to drink something, and have a little snack. Then you can sleep, if you like.”

Dean nodded, knowing that what Castiel was suggesting was for the best, even if he didn’t want to sit up ever again. Shoving against the pillows, he pushed up and placed his back against the wooden headboard of the bed, rubbing at his eyes. “Yeah,” he agreed, nodding. “You’re right. Sorry.”

The corner of Castiel’s lip quirked as he gave Dean’s shoulder a squeeze. “It’s just fine. Can you wait here just a minute, alone? Or do you need to come with me?”

Dean took a moment to take stock of himself; his ass stung like a bitch, in more ways than one, and he felt a little shaky and tired, but otherwise he was fine, his mind clearer than it’d been for days. He shook his head, giving Castiel a smile that he hoped was reassuring. “I’m great, really. You’re good to go. I’ll just wait here.”

Seemingly satisfied, Castiel gave a firm nod and slipped out of the bed. He was bare chested, but at some point he’d stopped to pull his goofy Christmas pajama pants on, Dean noted. They were covered in roly-poly reindeer.

Dean couldn’t help but smile to himself as he watched Castiel slip out of the door to head downstairs. What had he done to deserve this domineering dork?

Nothing, really, the little voice at the back of Dean’s head nagged. Because he’s not really yours, is he?

Sighing, rolling his head back against the wooden headboard, Dean brought his hands up to rub over his face. He was getting in over his head; he knew it, but he was already way too far in to stop himself. Fuckin’ Sam and fuckin’ Gabe, being right about shit all the time. This could be a disaster, if Castiel had to leave, or if he never wanted more than this.

But if a disaster was all Dean could get, then he’d take it and smile, and pretend everything was fine.

Castiel appeared back through the door quickly, carrying a bottle of water and a small plate.

“Here you go,” he said, smiling warmly as he handed them to Dean. Instead of climbing immediately back onto the bed, Castiel stood beside it, paused. “I—I don’t know how appropriate this is, but I actually have a little gift for you, if that’s okay,” he said.

Dean smiled down at the paper plate as he set it in his lap, oddly touched by the uneven, lumpy PB and J that sat in the middle of it. A chef, Castiel was not. But he tried, when it mattered. At Castiel’s words, Dean raised his smile up to him. “A gift? Christmas was like…barely two weeks ago, dude,” he pointed out.

Heading over to the closet, Castiel shrugged. “And? Does that matter?”

Dean huffed out a small laugh around his sandwich. It was tasty, even if it was kinda ugly. “I guess not,” he agreed.

Castiel pulled a small, generic gift bag out of the bottom of the closet and moved back over to the bed, placing it down on the comforter next to Dean before he slipped himself back under the covers. Dean shoved the rest of his sandwich haphazardly into his mouth, earning a scowl from Castiel, although at least he caught the escaping jelly with the plate. He quickly cracked open the water bottle and downed half of it, before placing it on Castiel’s nightstand along with the plate. Then he turned his attention to the bag.

It was a simple brown paper bag with twisted twine handles, and white tissue paper foaming out of the top. Dean couldn’t help but flash Castiel a grin as he sat to the side, observing quietly. Tugging the crinkled tissue paper out of the bag and casting it aside on the bed, Dean dug down to the bottom, finding several soft, tissue-wrapped packages.

“There’s a gift receipt in there somewhere if you don’t like them, or just want another size,” Castiel offered helpfully as Dean pulled a silky, emerald green pair of satin panties out of the wrapping.

Dean swallowed harshly, blinking, immediately taken back to their not-date day at the mall before Christmas, when he’d wanted nothing more than for what they had to be real…and his flushes as they stood outside the lingerie store, eyeing these exact same undergarments on the mannequin.

“I—you didn’t have to get these,” Dean stammered, protesting quietly, well aware that his face was beet red.

“They’ll look beautiful against your skin,” Castiel murmured, reaching over to run a finger across the hem as Dean held them. “And the lace will imprint so prettily onto your cheeks when you get spanked in them.”

Shakily, Dean pulled out two more pairs; a beautiful sapphire blue, and a black full-lace pair.

Castiel withdrew his hand, sinking down onto his pillow and rolling onto his side, studying Dean’s reaction. “I promise you, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” he said. “I’d love for you to wear them for me in one of our scenes, if you were comfortable.”

Dean nodded jerkily; there was absolutely no doubt that he’d wear them, scene or not. “Thanks,” he mumbled, pulling the last of the wrap out of the bag. The gift receipt fluttered onto the bedding, and Dean picked it up to crush into his hand with the trash, knowing full well that he’d certainly not be needing it.

The print on the receipt caught Dean’s eye before he balled it up, as Castiel began to gather the white tissue paper from the bed.

Pozhalusta ,” Castiel said warmly, shoving the stray pieces into the bag as he grabbed them, unaware of Dean’s mind screeching to a halt as he looked at the date on the receipt.

Before Christmas. A day or two after they’d been to the mall together. Meaning that Castiel bought these, hoped to give them to Dean, long before Dean had made a move, before he’d—

“Do you like them?” Castiel asked, a thread of uncertainty in his voice.

Packing up his emotions to examine later (or probably ignore entirely, if he was honest with himself), Dean shoved the panties onto the nightstand and slithered down under the soft blanket, turning to face Castiel.

“They’re awesome. Really. I was just surprised, is all. Not everyone is, uh…particularly into that.”

Castiel’s smile was serene. “I am,” he said simply.

Dean nodded against the pillow, and found himself suppressing a yawn behind the back of his hand. “I should probably go and head to bed,” Dean said, though he couldn’t help the note of regret in his voice.

A frown wrinkled Castiel’s brow, pulling his tan skin together in a disapproving bump above his nose. Dean wanted to reach out and poke it. “I won’t stop you,” Castiel said, “if that’s what you want to do. But I’d feel better if you stayed here tonight,” he confessed. “Sub drop isn’t always something that happens right away.”

Dean knew, and he nodded. He also knew that staying here, sleeping in Castiel’s bed, was a line that, for his own sanity, he shouldn’t cross. But the soft, concerned, almost hopeful expression on Castiel’s face was too much.

“Okay, Cas,” Dean agreed quietly, smiling across the pillows at him. “I’ll stay.”



Chapter Text

Everything was so warm. So, so, deliciously warm. Soft, lemony shampoo and cinnamony musk flooded Dean’s awareness as he inhaled, and he took a moment to smile at the sensation of Castiel’s hair against the side of his face.

If he didn’t open his eyes, he could pretend this was everything that he wanted it to be.

Winter sunlight streamed onto Dean as he slowly woke. It was weak and intertwined with a soft, chill breeze, as if there was a window slightly open somewhere. Dean squeezed his eyes tighter shut, the unwanted brightness causing golden fractals behind his eyelids. He nuzzled on down into the soft, musky-scented pillow.

Sunlight.

Wait… sunlight?

His eyes flying open with a jolt, Dean looked around. He was in Castiel’s room, a heavy arm thrown across his stomach and a thick thigh pinning his legs to the bed. Fuck.

Of course he hadn’t woken up—his alarm clock was in his room, not Castiel’s.

Dean rolled onto his side, drawing a disapproving grunt from Castiel as he was jostled. Dean’s arm flailed wildly, slapping at the nightstand, looking for someone’s phone or a clock—who the fuck didn’t have some kind of clock, or at least keep their phone near the bed? Damn this fucking sexy, Russian hippie. Groaning in displeasure, he rolled himself to the side (which was hard work, with half of Castiel’s weight still splayed over him) and stumbled out of bed, squinting at the sunlight. Finding his jeans on the floor, Dean quickly shoved his hands in all the pockets until he found his phone.

Only three percent battery. But, right then, that didn’t matter. What mattered was that according to the weak, low-battery clock, Dean should have been at the bakery two and a half hours ago.

From the text messages and missed calls, Gabriel was halfway to a coronary.

Shit.

Dean practically ran from the bedroom, slamming the door open and dashing next door to his own bedroom to grab clothes for work. He was never late for work. Trick or Sweet was his business, his and Gabriel’s, and he was a responsible person—alright, he’d made some damn dumb decisions when he was younger, but he had always, always, been the one to be responsible and provide. He’d simply had to, he had no option but to have his shit together.

Leaving a trail of destruction in his wake, Dean grabbed clean work clothes from his closet and dragged them onto his body as he flew down the stairs. Fuck, fuck, fuck…

As Dean grabbed Baby’s keys from the bowl in the kitchen where he’d left them before heading to the Roadhouse the day before, he heard Castiel’s bedroom door creaking open.

“Dean?” came Castiel’s concerned shout down the stairs.

Already jamming his feet into a pair of work boots near the front door, Dean only had time to throw, “Late!” over his shoulder. As he headed out to where Baby was parked, picking his way through thick, crisp frost across the pavement, he could hear Castiel calling after him, but he didn’t have time to go back. He could text him later.

Dean didn’t often drive to work—the walk between his townhouse and Trick or Sweet was short and pleasant, and it didn’t make sense to waste the gas. But time wasn’t on his side, so he hurriedly grabbed an ancient, expired gift card from down the side of the driver’s seat and scraped himself a small, clear space on Baby’s front window. It would have to do.

By the time Dean pulled up at the back of the bakery, his heartbeat had calmed, but his mind had sped up to ten times what it had been.

Idiot, absolute fuckin’ idiot, he berated himself, remembering the warmth of waking up beside Castiel. What did I go and do that for? Stupid! Should have left. Cas doesn’t want the same thing I do, so why’d I let that happen? Look where it got me, too!

Furious with himself, Dean wrenched open the back door to Trick or Sweet.

”Where the fuck have you been?” Gabriel greeted him incredulously. He was standing in the back, apron and hairnet in place, covered in smears of chocolate, one hand on the counter and one waving questioningly at Dean, frowning harshly. “I called you seven times!”

  “Dude, I’m sorry, okay?” Dean bit back angrily, in no mood to answer to Gabriel, of all people.

“You’re sorry? Dean! We open soon and we don’t have a single loaf of bread or—”

“I’m on it, alright?! Fuck!” Dean shouted back, throwing open the door to the chiller with one hand and grabbing an apron with the other.

Gabriel’s shoulders were stiff and his expression dark, but he didn’t say anything else as he turned back to his work. “Sorry for being concerned at you bailing on our business,” he muttered under his breath, stirring angrily.

“Oh, come on, like you’ve never been late,” Dean snapped as he pulled trays of cupcake bases out to thaw, the metal trays smacking down onto the steel counter with a grating clang . “I don’t need your judgement today, okay, asshole? Just let me fucking work.”

Gabriel frowned across at him, shaking his head, but declined to answer. Instead he gathered up his tray of finished products, muttering to himself, and took them out front.

Beginning to weigh flour, Dean let out a long exhale. Fuck. Gabriel didn’t deserve that, and Dean knew it. No matter how fast Dean worked, the morning was going to be a disaster. He could mix and beat and frost all he liked, the bread needed time to prove and the sourdough alone would take nearly an hour in the oven, and he wasn’t about to ruin his bread by rushing it on a higher temperature. Dean’s bread would be perfect, or there’d be none at all. And that was that.

Taking a moment, Dean heaved in a breath and rested the heels of his hands on the edge of the counter, leaning down onto it and hanging his head. “Son of a bitch,” he muttered to himself.

No matter how much he hustled, Dean felt slow. He was shaky and still furious with himself, and it showed in his hand movements and his focus. His mind kept slipping away, thinking about the night before, thinking about Castiel, thinking about how he’d probably messed that up, too.

Things he shouldn’t have said, shouldn’t have done, that Castiel didn’t want, kept picking around the edge of his consciousness.

By the time the shop opened twenty minutes later, Dean had his first batch of bread on trays to rise, and he had some of the loaves that he’d left to rise more slowly overnight in the chiller already baking. He’d frosted a couple of trays of cakes, and he made his way out to the front with them. He was taking stock of the glass cases, ignoring Gabriel as he opened the blinds behind the bistro tables, and working out what he needed to stock next, when the bell over the door gave a cheery tinkle.

“Good morning!” Gabriel greeted their first customer cheerily, turning toward the door. “Welcome to Trick or—oh, hey, Cassie.”

Dean looked up sharply, to see a very scruffy-haired Castiel striding through the door in his trench coat. He looked cold, the front of his coat open and white scuffs of frost clinging to his boots.

“Hello, Gabriel.”

“You’re out early,” Gabriel noted, nodding to the wintery weather outside the window. “You look freezing.”

“Yes, well,” Castiel said slightly sourly, raising a hand from within his coat pocket and jangling Baby’s spare keys. “I was going to drive over here, but Dean used the Impala. So, walking it was.”

Gabriel raised an eyebrow, looking over the top of the glass case Dean was filling with freshly frosted cupcakes. “Dean lets you drive Baby?”

Shrugging, Castiel took a step over to the small table in the window that he sometimes used to work at. “I looked at getting a car a couple of months ago, but Dean told me not to bother. There’s not a lot of parking at the townhouse, so he lets me drive the Impala if it’s an emergency.”

Gabriel blinked slowly, before turning his gaze to Dean. He looked like a deer in headlights. “Really?” he said.

“Yes, really,” Castiel repeated, sounding annoyed. “Now, if it’s not too much trouble, could I get some coffee? I’d like to speak to Dean for a moment.”

“I’ll get it,” Dean said, moving to the other side of the register toward the coffee machine.

“Oh, sure,” Gabriel said, mostly to himself. He sounded exasperated, and deeply annoyed, but he didn’t bother to look at either of them, pushing his way into the back of the shop as he spoke, instead. “It’s not like Dean has anything else to do.”

Waiting for fresh coffee to brew, Dean let out a long sigh. Alright, he probably deserved that, too. He pressed his hands down onto the counter, one on either side of the coffee machine, and let his head hang tiredly as the coffee dripped. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to take just a minute of quiet.

A hand touched his shoulder.

“Hey,” Castiel said quietly. “I’ll get that. Sit down for a minute.”

Dean frowned. “I’ve got it, Cas. I don’t have time to sit down.”

Castiel’s scowl was thoroughly displeased. “Just for a moment?” he asked again.

Dean felt panicky at the mere thought of neglecting his baking any longer, and so he shook his head. “You shouldn’t be back here,” he said gruffly, shaking Castiel’s hand from his shoulder.

Castiel didn’t answer, his brow creasing further as he took a slow step back, onto the customer side of the counter, and raised both his hands in a gesture of surrender. “Fine. If you won’t speak to me now, I’ll wait.”

Dean raised an eyebrow. “Why?”

“Because,” Castiel said firmly, reaching to push his trench coat from his shoulders in the warm store, a challenge in his eyes, “you need me here right now.”

“Why do you—” Dean cut himself off sharply, his overreaction and harsh criticism of himself that morning suddenly taking on a new meaning at Castiel’s insistence that he was going to stay.

Oh.

Castiel just watched as Dean swallowed harshly. He kept the distance between them, staying on his side of the counter, but he made no move to sit down, looping his coat over his forearm instead.

Turning back to the coffee machine, Dean poured Castiel a large mug of black, unsweetened caffeine and gestured to the table, carrying it over. “Here,” Dean said, lowering the cup to the surface, avoiding looking up at Castiel. “Sorry, I’d bring you a croissant or something, but my stupid ass hasn’t had time to make any yet.”

Castiel frowned, and his hand came out to rest gently on Dean’s forearm as they stood near the table. “No,” Castiel said softly. “You just made a simple mistake that was as much my fault as yours. It’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t make you stupid, Dean, or any of the other things you’re probably telling yourself.”

Dean looked up, allowing himself to take in Castiel’s vivid blue, softly concerned gaze. He didn’t look angry, but he didn’t look like he was going to take any arguing on the subject, either. Dean moistened his lips, dropping his gaze again. “Sorry,” he muttered quietly.

Instead of answering, Castiel reached over and slowly pulled Dean into a hug. He wasn’t forceful about it, and Dean could certainly have pulled away at any moment, but of course he was far too weak for that. Instead he pressed his face down into Castiel’s shoulder, letting out a sigh.

“Seriously?” Gabriel’s voice came from the doorway. “You rip into me for even asking why you were late, but you’ve got time for cuddles?”

“Gabriel,” Castiel rumbled, low and dangerous. “Shut up.”

Throwing his hands in the air, Gabriel turned back into the kitchen.

“I gotta go apologize to him,” Dean said, straightening up and pulling away from Castiel self-consciously. “I was an asshole.”

Castiel nodded understandingly. “Very well. I know you have to work,” he said, lowering himself into the window seat near his coffee, “but I plan to stay right here this morning—”

Dean started to open his mouth, but Castiel steamrolled onward with a glare.

“—whether you want me here or not. Last I checked, customers can stay if they’re purchasing something. So, as long as I’m paying for coffee and waiting on a croissant, I can—and will—stay right here.”

In case you need me.

It wasn’t spoken, but it was right there, and Dean found himself dipping his head and nodding shallowly. “Alright,” he said. “That’s fair.”

Castiel gave Dean a much warmer smile and reached over to grab his hand. He squeezed it for a long moment before he let go, turning to the table and picking up his coffee.

Moving back around the counter, Dean got busy, tearing back and forth between the kitchen and the front of the shop, hustling as much as he could to try and make up for the lost time. Every time he came out to the front, a tornado of flour and swirling thoughts, Castiel was there. Just sitting in the window seat, sipping his probably long-cold coffee, gazing out onto the wintery street or down at his phone. Each time there was a noise in the doorway as Dean emerged, he’d look up immediately. Silent. His soft, concerned gaze would rest on Dean unerringly until he disappeared again, not pushing Dean, just sitting. Just being there.

Dean didn’t apologize to Gabriel, but he dipped his finger in some scraps of melted chocolate and booped his nose with it, and that was practically the same thing. Gabriel even managed to smile a bit as he complained about sanitizing his bowls. They were good.

Eventually, after a couple of hours, when the cases out front were filling up and the customers off the street looked a little less disappointed, Dean walked out to the front with a white towel in hand, drying off his freshly washed palms. Feeling much calmer and more together, he gently shoulder-checked Gabriel as he moved up next to him at the register.

“Why don’t you go take a break, dude?” Dean suggested quietly. “You had a pretty rough morning, doing so much of the open by yourself—go get some hot food or something, or see if you can steal Kali from work for an hour.”

Gabriel gave Dean an appraising look before he nodded, reaching up to pull off his hairnet. “Alright. I’m sure Kali would love a break from the dead guys for a bit.”

Smiling, Dean nodded. Gabriel’s wife worked just down the street in Lawrence’s tiny funeral home, but the couple rarely saw each other during working hours; something that Kali had complained about more than once. As Gabriel pulled his apron over his head and hung it up on the wall, Dean stepped back out of the way, leaning on the doorframe that led from the kitchen to the space behind the register. He looked up, idly drying his hands, and let his gaze rest on Castiel in the window.

The weak sunlight from outside was pretty, if chill-looking, and it highlighted the side of Castiel’s face as he sat at a right-angle to the window. He looked a little tired, his hair still telling tales of Dean’s fingers entwined within it the night before. His face bore a few days of growing stubble, and the silvery illumination from the street emphasized the fine lines around Castiel’s fantastically blue eyes, etched from weeks and months and years of squinting at screens and typewriter keys for far too many hours a day. He was beautiful, but he was so much more than that, and Dean couldn’t help the warm, glowing feeling like an inflating balloon within his ribcage.

He’s been here all morning, just for me, Dean thought, watching as Castiel looked down, his thumb flicking idly across the screen of his phone. He should be at home, working on his draft…his deadline is soon. But he’s here because of me. In case I needed him, in case I wasn’t feeling right.

Dean smiled to himself, twisting the thin towel between his long-dry hands.

Castiel looked up, catching sight of Dean still standing in the doorway. He smiled somewhat uncertainly, before raising his hand in an awkward little wave when he realized that Dean was staring at him.

Jesus, what a dork, Dean thought to himself fondly, giving Castiel a small, reassuring grin over the top of the pastry case. Fuckin’ adorable, and stubborn, and loyal... God, I love you.

Still leaning on the door frame, Dean’s shoulders stiffened and he froze, forgetting to breathe.

Shoving down the feeling of panic that rose up in his throat like bile, Dean stumbled back into the kitchen. It was late morning by then, and the bakery was entering its small lull right before the big lunchtime rush. Dean quickly wiped up the counter he’d been using, and then pulled some trays from the oven when the timer went off. Smiling to himself, Dean picked up one of the fresh, warm croissants that he’d just completed with his tongs, and slipped it onto a plate. He knew Castiel liked his pastries sweet, so he tucked a small pat of butter and servings of jelly onto the side of the plate.

Carrying the treat out front, Dean strode over to the glass door and flipped the sign that said “Welcome!” to the other side, which had long ago been carefully painted by Gilda to say, “Back in Five Minutes!”. It was useful when Gabriel—or Dean—had to take a day off or duck out, and the other needed to take a moment to use the bathroom or run out to the back for something. Moving over to Castiel’s little bistro table, Dean reached across to the seat closest to the window and gave Castiel’s shoulder a little squeeze, bringing his attention up from his phone.

“Here you go,” Dean said, sliding the plate in front of him. “On me.”

“Is this you saying that now the croissants are done, so my time is up?” Castiel asked, a tiny smirk pulling one cheek upward, his eyes twinkling.

“No, no.” Dean laughed. “It’s me saying thank you.”

Castiel watched Dean as he busied himself making two coffees, and then slid down into the seat opposite, taking his weight off his feet for a few minutes. “You don’t need to thank me,” Castiel said as Dean slid one of the coffees over toward him.

Dean shrugged one shoulder. “Want to. And you deserve it.”

Castiel gave Dean a tiny, precious smile before he began to spread jelly on his fresh, warm croissant. “How are you feeling?” he asked neutrally.

It was a good question. Dean let out a breath. “Like an idiot, but mostly because of the way I acted this morning. Having you here was—was really grounding, though,” he confessed, “and I really do appreciate it.”

Reaching over to squeeze the hand Dean didn’t have around his coffee mug, Castiel gave a little nod. “I didn’t know if it would help, but if there’s one thing I know about you, you weren’t likely to tell me even if you did need me. You aren’t very good at talking about your own feelings or needs, at least not in everyday life.”

Oh, if only you knew how true that was, Dean thought, sadly amused.

Unknowing, Castiel gave a wicked grin. “Though at least you can be persuaded to express what you need in certain ways,” he continued, giving Dean a wink as he bit down into the flaky pastry.

More than a little flustered by both the tone and the wink, Dean gave a quick chuckle before turning his attention to his coffee. “Yeah, I guess so,” he choked out.

They sipped in silence for a few minutes, before Dean knocked Castiel’s ankle gently under the table, bringing his attention back.

“I’m thinking of texting Sam and asking if he wants to grab some drinks at the Roadhouse after work,” Dean said. “Bobby was only half-joking when he complained that he hasn’t seen me much for months, so I feel like I should stop by more.” Plus, I could really use a drink today, Dean interjected mentally. “Did you want to come with?”

Castiel ran a finger around the rim of his coffee mug, giving a reluctant grimace. “You have no idea how much I’d like to come with you,” he began. “Unfortunately—”

“Ahh,” Dean interrupted guiltily. “You spent all morning babysitting me, and now you’re behind with work.”

Castiel reached for his hand again, squeezing and frowning softly. “It’s not babysitting.”

Dean pursed his lips before responding. “Same result though. I’m sorry.”

With a dismissive wave, Castiel picked up his coffee cup to drain the last dregs. “Not at all. It was my choice, and there is no scenario where I would have acted any differently. Don’t feel guilty about it, Dean. It was my responsibility to be here,” he reminded Dean.

Right, Dean thought glumly down into the empty bottom of his coffee mug. It was his responsibility to look after me this morning, because I freaked out after—

“Dean,” Castiel said, pulling his attention back up sharply. “I wanted to. Please don’t feel guilty about that. My main concern is how you are feeling, and whether you would benefit from me staying longer.”

“Nah, dude.” Dean smiled genuinely, giving Castiel a little wink. He didn’t want to mess up his husband’s day any further, and he really was feeling a lot better. “I’m good, really. Feeling much more like myself. Even Gabriel forgave me for being a panicky ass this morning. I’m good. I’ll stop by the house quickly before I head out with Sam, so let me know if you want me to bring you dinner or anything, yeah? I know how you get when you get stuck into your words. You’d forget to breathe if it wasn’t automatic.”

Castiel’s smile was openly fond. “Very well, I will. Spaseeba.

Pozhalusta, ” Dean said, proud that he remembered how to respond, and smiling right back.

 

 

x

 

Dean drummed his fingers along the surface of the bar. He’d adopted a stool at the far end, so that he wouldn’t be in Ellen’s way as she served customers, and he’d been nursing his beer for a few minutes while he waited for Sam to make his way over from his office downtown.

“Bobby working late at the garage today?” Dean asked Ellen conversationally.

“Yes,” she said, sighing. “He'll be here in a few minutes. They got in a fleet of cars that had been worked on over at Trenton’s place, and the owner wasn’t happy with the results. Benny and Garth have been flat out, so Bobby’s had to pick up a wrench.”

Dean prickled slightly. He’d never say it to his face, of course, but Bobby was too old to be climbing under cars these days. Even so, Singer’s was his business and Dean had a feeling that they wouldn’t be able to peel him off his creeper board entirely until the day he dropped dead. Which probably wouldn’t be for a long time, as Bobby was well preserved by a diet of copious amounts of bourbon and pure stubbornness. “He knows he can always call me in to help on my days off, right?” Dean reminded Ellen, frowning. “I know I’ve got the bakery, but I can still strip down an engine. I can help.”

With an understanding grin, Ellen leaned across and patted Dean’s forearm. “We know, Dean. But you have your own business, and you’re newly married. Bobby’s proud of you, and he’ll be just fine.”

Dean scowled, but it was half-hearted. Ellen had been in his life for far too long for him to take any offense at anything she said, and she had a way of just cutting through the bullshit and just saying the truth that he had always appreciated.

“Hey, stranger,” a voice butted in from Dean’s right.

“Lisa!” Dean exclaimed, turning in his seat, blinking across at the chocolate-eyed brunette who’d sneaked onto the stool next to him. “Wow, it’s been…well, a minute.”

“Almost a year,” she corrected, smiling quietly. “I only just moved back into town after getting my mom back on her feet.”

Dean nodded, and an awkward silence fell until Lisa smiled again and leaned in to bump his shoulder with hers. “We were always friends, Dean. Don’t make it weird.”

“Yeah, we were,” Dean admitted, smiling down at his pint glass, studying the foam.

“I hear you’re married now,” Lisa said warmly, waving across at Ellen. She placed an order for a glass of wine, and Dean waited for her to be done before responding.

“Yeah, I am, actually,” he said, holding up a hand and waggling his wedding ring.

Lisa’s smile was warm and honest as she said, “I’m so glad for you, Dean. You always wanted that, wanted a family, underneath it all, I think.”

Dean twisted his lips awkwardly. “Yeah. I guess.”

“So,” Lisa said, gesturing with her empty hand. “Tell me about them while you wait for…”

“Sam,” Dean interjected. “We were just gonna grab a couple of drinks after work, catch up. But Cas…well, Cas is pretty awesome. If you’re back in town, I’m sure you’ll meet him sooner or later.”

“Must have been special, to make you get your head out of your ass,” Lisa quipped, a teasing grin crossing the space between them.

“Hey!” Dean spluttered, though he couldn’t help but smile back. She wasn’t wrong. “Cas is definitely special. I, uh…” Dean cleared his throat, testing out the words. “I love him a lot. It’s not always perfect but…I think I’m a pretty lucky guy.”

“He’s pretty lucky, too.” Bumping his shoulder again, Lisa swirled her wine and took a sip before responding. “Well, sitting here right now, you look happier than I remember you being for years. So I’m really glad for you, Dean.”

As he sipped his beer and turned the conversation to how her son Ben was doing at school, Dean realized that she was right. Since Castiel had come into his life, Dean had been happy. Life had its stresses—the immigration stuff alone was a doozy—but he’d been happy.

He’d been in love. Oh, maybe not at the start…but for a while.

“Hey,” Lisa said, flicking the side of his beer glass with a ping . “Where’d you go?”

“Oh,” Dean said. “Sorry—been a really long day for me, kinda tired.” It wasn’t exactly a lie.

She smiled, nodding understandingly. “You always did have to get up early,” she mused, remembering.

Dean was spared any further discussion on the topic by Sam’s arrival, still in his suit from work as he pushed his way through the buzzing Saturday evening crowd. Lisa excused herself after a few words with Sam, and he slipped into her vacant seat.

“Monkey suit on a Saturday?” Dean asked, jerking his thumb toward his brother’s attire.

“Yeah,” Sam said glumly. “Got a few big cases on. I’ve had to be in the office itself having meetings, rather than slouching around at home doing my paperwork. Being a grown-up sucks, doesn’t it?”

Dean laughed and agreed. “Sure does, Sammy, sure does.”

Bobby arrived from the garage and brought Sam over a beer without being asked, and they settled into chatting quietly about work for a few minutes, until Sam reached up to loosen his tie.

“No more work, yeah? How’s lover boy doing?”

Dean raised an eyebrow. “Cas is…good, I guess. A bit stressed—his book deadline and our status interview are both landing around the same time.”

Sam gave a small grimace as he took a sip of his beer. “That’s rough. Good thing he’s got his doting hubby to help relax him, huh?” he quipped.

Dean frowned down into his glass.

“Alright,” Sam said, more quietly, knocking Dean’s thigh with his knee. “What’s up with you? I was just messing with you, dude.”

“Yeah,” Dean replied, as lightly as he could past his suddenly dry throat. “’Course.”

Sam stayed silent. Fuckin’ younger brothers; they always knew the real tactics to get their older brothers to open up. Dean watched the dwindling foam on top of his IPA slowly swirl and drift around the bottom of his glass, clinging to the sides and forming loose shapes, like prophetic tea leaves. Exhaling slowly, Dean rubbed his hands up across his face, elbows firmly on the bar, before scrubbing his nails through the short hair at the nape of his neck.

“I dunno, Sammy. I just…I messed up, I guess. Kinda. Well, not really.”

Sam slowly rotated his upper body, and let out the slow kind of, “Uh-huh,” that indicated he didn’t have a clue what Dean was trying to say.

“I, uh”—fuck, why were words so hard?—“I think I, uh, got in a bit deeper than I thought. With this whole Cas thing.”

Sam slowly drummed his fingers on the bar, and even looking down at his glass, Dean could picture his brother’s eyebrows-raised, sarcastic expression as he said, “Well that’s news to exactly no one but you, Dean.”

Blinking, Dean looked up. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I tried!” Sam protested, shaking his head in disbelief. “And anyway, shouldn’t you know?”

Dean shrugged awkwardly, back to his glass again. “I guess I didn’t. Know, I mean. Know…that.”

“You can barely even say it, can you? Jesus, Dean,” Sam grumbled.

“Oh, fuck off,” Dean hissed down at the wood, before shooting Sam a poisonous look from the corner of his eye. “I am, okay? You were right. I am.”

Sam just stared, until Dean relented.

“I’m in love with Cas,” he said, much more quietly.

Sam’s prissy slow-clap was enough to bring Dean’s attention up from the Roadhouse’s long-ingrained beer stains. “Good job. Now, what are you gonna do about it?” Sam asked.

“Nothin’,” Dean mumbled, hunching his shoulders defensively.

“Wow.” Sam twisted to catch his eye before he shook his head. “You are an idiot. An absolute idiot—I actually kinda wanna hit you, right now.”

Dean pouted, swilling down his last dregs of beer. “Alright, I get it. No need to be like that. I’m not proud of myself, here.”

With a long sigh, Sam pulled out his phone and began to wave Ellen over, gesturing toward the top shelves behind the bar and making sipping motions.

“What are you doing?” Dean asked.

“Ordering stiffer drinks and texting Jess that she’s gonna have to pick us up.”

“You’re a good brother, Sam.”

“The fucking best.”

The two brothers spent the next hour or so making their way through several glasses of bourbon, with Dean lamenting the fact that he felt like an idiot, and Sam—for the most part—agreeing with him. Dean sent a few text messages to Castiel, just asking how his evening was going, but his responses were short and distracted, so Dean let him be. For the most part, he wallowed gently in his self-imposed sorrows with his sensible yet sympathetic brother for company.

Some things never changed, no matter how old he got.

Despite Dean’s low-level panic that he’d just realized he was head-over-heels for his own husband—as bizarre as that sounded—the evening was progressing fairly well, and he found himself relaxing.

Until.

“If it isn’t Dean Winchester, drowning his sorrows. They deport your mail-order-bride already?”

Dean rolled his eyes as he turned, the voice unfortunately familiar. “Cole—oh, and your little sidekick, too. Any chance you want to just fuck off? Not really in the mood.”

“Dean,” Sam warned quietly, but Dean shrugged at him, his eyes on the two men who approached.

Cole Trenton was fairly well built. Kit Verson was a little smaller, though—in Dean’s opinion—even uglier. The sneers across both of their faces weren’t doing them any favors in that department, either. Neither of them ever seemed to know when to back down, and their mouths constantly flapped with opinions nobody asked for. To say that Dean hated them was an understatement.

Kit’s lip curled as he pushed past Sam, ignoring him entirely, and placed one hand on the bar next to Dean. “Glad we ran into you, Dean. It’s good to see you without that filthy Ruski that everyone in town’s been gossiping about for months—maybe you’ve still got some sense in you.”

On top of the bar, Dean’s fist clenched involuntarily. “I suggest you get out of my face, and shut your mouth,” Dean cautioned coldly.

“Hey, now,” came Sam’s firm voice from behind Kit’s bread-shouldered frame, his barstool squeaking across the floor as he stood up. “I don’t think this is the place for this, guys. Why don’t you just move on your way, huh?”

Cole seemed to entirely ignore Sam, his emotionless blue eyes locked on Dean. “Or?” he said tauntingly pushing up against Kit’s arm, the only thing holding him back from Dean. Kit held his arm steady—it was covered in an assortment of tattoos Dean didn’t really want to read; they were almost certainly as disgusting as the rest of him. Cole leaned forward, snarling like an enraged Chihuahua. “Cold War is long over, Dean. We sent the spies back home.”

With a little too much whiskey in him not to rise to the bait, Dean pushed up off his seat, getting right back in Cole’s face. “What’s the matter, Cole? Disappointed you couldn’t get one of your own?”

Dean heard Sam let out an exasperated groaning noise, but he didn’t have time to listen to Sam’s good sense right now.

It wasn’t immediately clear, when Dean thought back on it, who exactly threw the first punch; he moved in off his stool, Kit and Cole stumbled forward, Sam leaped to the side and started cussing loudly, and then there were fists. The part that was clear, a minute or two later, was who threw the last punch: that was definitely Ellen.

“If you two slimy ingrates don’t want me to call the police right this second,” Ellen’s voice cracked through the air like a whip, blood spraying from Cole’s face as he spun away from her fist, “then you’ll get the hell outta my bar, and you won’t be coming back.”

Cole paused, spitting blood onto the bar floor—drunk or not, Dean had landed a decent couple of knuckle-splitters right across Cole’s nose. He looked at Ellen like he’d scraped her off his shoe, shaking his head. “As if we want to come to a place that lets his kind in,” he bit out through his pink, blood-smeared teeth.

“Don’t make me get that shotgun down from above the bar, boy,” Bobby growled from next to Ellen, his expression dark. “You’ve been asked to leave.”

Dean wanted to say something—the urge to have the last word was strong, but the bar was spinning a little and he didn’t think it was just the whiskey anymore; it might, possibly, just maybe, be the souvenir egg that was growing on his forehead from Cole’s dumb fraternity ring. Or the way his nose was stinging, or his knuckles were burning, or the blood that was gushing from his split lip. He was too damn old for this crap, he decided.

“Get out,” Sam hissed for him. Good Sam. Great brother, Sam. Dean swayed.

Everyone in the now-silent bar seemed pleased to see the back of Kit’s stupid camo vest as he grabbed ahold of Cole, guiding him out of the door, Dean noted. That was pleasing.

“Alright, everyone, show’s over,” Ellen yelled out, flapping her towel. “Get back to your own business.”

As she went, Bobby moved around the edge of the bar, watching with an appraising eye as Sam stepped up to Dean, grabbing at his chin and squinting at his split lip. “This is gonna need stitches,” Sam said firmly, over the top of Dean’s head.

Bobby nodded, reaching to grab Dean’s phone from where it lay abandoned next to his beer glass. “I’ll call the husband. Neither of you can drive him.”

Even past the slightly woozy feeling—which Dean was sure, if Sam would just stop fussin’, a couple of ibuprofen would cure—Dean realized in the back of his head (and somehow, at the same time, in his sinking stomach) that he may have neglected to actually tell Castiel about Kit coming into the bakery.

Sure, he’d dismissively mentioned that some assholes had stopped by the store, but he’d definitely downplayed it when Castiel had checked in with him about it after Gabriel had spilled the beans. Raising a hand gingerly to his face, Dean grimaced. He hoped Castiel wouldn’t be mad at him on top of everything else.

He didn’t have to wait long to find out—minutes after Bobby’s phone call, Dean heard the familiar rumble of Baby’s engine as she pulled up right on the pavement outside. He sat carefully sipping water at the bar, reassuring everyone that he was just fine.

“Dean?” Castiel called out as soon as he got through the door, looking around, looking furious and concerned and worried and all kinds of things that Dean didn’t want to have to see on his face.

Castiel had, at least, paused to pull on some real pants—but Dean knew for sure that the t-shirt he was wearing was one of the ones he slept in. It was faded, black with a giant pair of lips on the front and some text that, through his double vision, Dean couldn't quite make out. Feeling guilty, Dean raised a hand and waved reluctantly to grab his attention.

“Hey, Dmitri,” Dean called out lightly, affecting a bloody smile.

“Dean!” Striding over, Castiel didn’t even complain about the nickname, barreling straight to Dean’s side, almost knocking into Bobby. The old man looked amused, patting Castiel on the shoulder.

“He’s gonna be alright, son,” Bobby said quietly, his gruff voice reassuring. “Bit roughed up, but if it’s any consolation, the other guys looked about the same.”

His hands on Dean’s shoulders, Castiel managed a small, tight smile across at Bobby. “I’m not sure that’s comforting, but I’m glad it’s nothing worse.” Turning his attention back to Dean, Castiel reached up to thumb gently at the lump above Dean’s eyebrow, drawing a gasping wince from Dean, to Castiel’s obvious concern.

“Thanks for coming, Cas,” Sam spoke up. “Sorry about this—”

“It’s okay,” Castiel interrupted, not looking away from Dean. “Just tell me what happened.”

As Sam recounted the story, with the occasional interjection from Bobby, Castiel helped Dean to his feet and leaned him against his shoulder. Dean wanted to object, feeling awkwardly like the center of attention in a way he was just not cool with, but he didn’t seem to have much choice. So instead he shook his sore knuckles, hissing, and focused his shamed gaze on the floor.

“Dean,” Castiel said after a moment, his voice softly displeased in a way that confirmed to Dean that he’d definitely be hearing about this later, “why didn’t you tell me that this guy was like this, when he came to the bakery that day? You acted like it was nothing, but—”

Dean waved one sore hand. “It was nothing. He’s nothing—can we just go, please? Not really enjoying being the main attraction, here.”

Curious eyes from around the bar averted instantly, trying to look innocent.

Tightening an arm around Dean’s waist, Castiel nodded. “Alright,” he agreed, slightly clipped, but quiet. “Let’s take you down the urgent care, and they can stitch your lip up. Then we’ll go home, and I can take care of the rest.”

“I’m fine, man, I—”

“It wasn’t a request, Dean,” Castiel growled.

Dean gulped. To his embarrassment as he looked up, Sam looked horribly smug.

“Thanks, Cas,” Sam said. “Fair warning, he’s the worst patient in the world. Good luck with that.”

Castiel only smiled thinly in response, focused on helping Dean out to the Impala. They left Sam calling Jess, and Bobby mopping the bloodied floor of his bar, and Dean couldn’t help but feel like it was all his fault.

“Cas,” he said quietly as he lolled in the passenger seat. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have retaliated, I get that. I should’ve—”

“No, Dean,” Castiel cut in quietly, clipping his own seatbelt into place. “I’m not angry about the bar fight. It sounds like they got what they deserved, and you didn’t start it.”

Dean was quiet for a moment before he started to nod— stopping very quickly, as the motion sent throbbing waves through his head. “You’re mad that I didn’t tell you it wasn’t the first time Kit had run his mouth in the bakery that day, and that I didn’t tell you I had some history with them even before that.”

Pulling Baby off the pavement where he’d haphazardly parked her, Castiel’s eyes stayed firmly on the road. “Correct. But let’s not worry about that, for now. Right now, we’re going to get you fixed up, then I’m going to take you home and look after you.”

“Honestly, Cas, I’ll be—”

“Also not a request, Dean.”

Dean fell silent, guilty and woozy, until Castiel’s arm reached across the bench seat and gently tugged Dean over toward him. He rested his head down on Castiel’s shoulder with a little sigh, closing his eyes. “Okay, Cas,” he agreed.

Against the crown of his head, Dean felt Castiel’s lips press gently into his hair. “Good boy,” he murmured, barely loud enough for Dean to hear. 




Chapter Text

 

“There we go,” Castiel soothed, pushing the front door of the townhouse open with his shoulder and reaching back to guide Dean within. “Let’s get you set up in the living room. The doctor said you shouldn’t sleep yet.”

“Cas, really, I’m fine,” Dean grumbled thickly around the stitches that decorated his swollen lip. “If it was that bad, they’d have kept me in.”

Even kneeling before Dean, pulling off his boots for him as he leaned against the hallway wall, Castiel managed to look intensely displeased. “Dean, they did want to keep you in, for observation. You have a bad concussion. It was you that said, ‘I’m not staying here,’ and discharged yourself.”

Full of painkillers, Dean could feel the childish pout pull across his face, but he didn’t seem to be able to do much to stop it. “Don’t like hospitals,” he whined. He really didn’t. He’d last seen his mom in one, and he’d last seen his dad in one, and while he wouldn’t say he was afraid of them, Dean would definitely admit to them making him highly uncomfortable.

“I know, Dean,” Castiel said, sounding tired and soft. Somehow, he always seemed to have Dean’s number in these situations, something that would have been a lot more annoying if it hadn’t felt so right.

With minimal fuss, Castiel got Dean settled on the couch and disappeared off to the kitchen, before reappearing with a tray full of supplies. Dragging the crappy Ikea coffee table over to the couch, Castiel lowered the tray down within reach and plopped himself onto the cushions next to Dean, angled toward him. Dean lolled his head to the side, regarding Castiel with the best attempt at an apologetic smile that he could currently make.

“Sorry for ruining your night,” Dean said.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m just glad it was nothing more serious.” Picking up a washcloth full of ice, Castiel guided it to Dean’s face and placed one of Dean’s hands on it to keep it in place. “The doctor said icing it for a few more hours should help, so you hold that while I get your hands cleaned up.”

Dean had been in such a rush to leave the hospital that he’d only allowed them to stitch his lip and quickly assess his concussion, leaving his busted-up knuckles cracked and just as covered in dried blood as when he’d left the bar. Castiel pulled Dean’s left hand into his lap, looking down at it quietly and solemnly as he wrung out a clean washcloth in warm water and began to gently pat Dean’s knuckles clean.

Working to suppress a slight hiss at the hydrogen peroxide Castiel had put in the water, Dean slumped down on the couch further, curling onto his side and watching Castiel work. “Thanks,” he said quietly.

“Least I can do,” Castiel said, his voice clipped and tense as he washed the blood flakes from Dean’s skin.

“Hey,” Dean said softly, frowning despite the discomfort it caused in his forehead. He flipped his hand over, catching Castiel’s hand in his own and gently twining their fingers together. “This isn’t because of you, you know that, right?”

Castiel shrugged, not meeting Dean’s gaze. His spare hand fingered awkwardly at the edge of the cloth, but he didn’t pull his other away from Dean.

“No, man—no. People like Cole and Kit are just jerks, Cas. You know their type. If they weren’t causing problems about you, they’d just be causing problems about something else. It’s not about you, it’s about them and the nasty little ball of hatred they carry around where their heart should be.”

Castiel was quiet for a moment, before squeezing gently at Dean’s hand and turning it back over. Dipping his cloth into the bowl once more, he returned to his task, his eyes down. Once he’d cleared the worst of the mess, he placed the cloth back on the tray and picked up a lump of cotton and the small bottle of medicinal alcohol that usually lived in the cupboard above their stove. Once he was dabbing at the splits in Dean’s skin, he let out a slow sigh. “I thought I left this kind of thing in Russia,” he confessed, cleaning the wounds meticulously. “I guess I was wrong.”

Woozy and softened by the painkillers he’d been given at the hospital, Dean dropped the icepack from his lip down into his lap, reaching across the back of the couch to stroke the tips of his fingers down the back of Castiel’s neck. “Remember the first night you got here?” Dean asked quietly, studying his fingers as they caressed Castiel’s surprisingly tan skin. “I told you that there were people like that here, too. And this is exactly what I meant. The good thing is, look at all the people who stand against them here. Me, Sam, Ellen, Bobby—there wasn’t anyone at the Roadhouse that looked comfortable. That’s the important part.”

Silently, Castiel gave a rough nod.

Rubbing his fingers into the tufts of dark hair that began at the nape of Castiel’s neck, Dean gently squeezed the back of his head, soothing the tension away. Castiel relaxed under Dean’s hand for a minute, before looking back up with a small smile. Retrieving the ice pack from Dean’s lap, Castiel gestured toward his face with it, making Dean take it back.

“Come on,” Castiel said. “I’m supposed to be the one looking after you. Hold this, so I can clean your other hand.”

Dean obeyed, leaning his head against the back of the couch while Castiel made short work of the few areas of split skin on his left hand. Once he was done cleaning, a few steri-strips and one larger band-aid later, Castiel seemed content to let him be.

“I’m tired,” Dean murmured, wondering what time it was.

“Well, it is almost midnight,” Castiel said. “But the doctor was concerned about your head, so we should keep you up for a while yet, I’m afraid.”

Dean nodded glumly. “Tomorrow is gonna suck.”

Castiel sighed, unfurling his legs from the couch and pushing up to stand. “I’m going to take all this back to the kitchen and make you some coffee. I’ll message Gabe while I’m there—he’s just going to have to give you a day off tomorrow. I know it’s not ideal after today, but you’re not going to be in any state to be at the bakery in four hours.”

Reluctantly, Dean had to agree. Castiel disappeared off with the tray of medical supplies, and Dean listened quietly as the coffee machine began to chug and rumble, and the refrigerator opened.

Even if Cas doesn’t see me that way, and all he wants is a submissive, friends with benefits kinda thing…I’m lucky, Dean considered to himself, shifting his icepack with a sad smile. So what if he was in love with Castiel? He wasn’t going to push anything onto him that he didn’t want. For now, he was just going to be grateful for what he had.

Castiel reappeared quickly, two steaming mugs of coffee in hand.

“You don’t have to stay up with me…” Dean began to protest.

O, tishe, ” Castiel grumbled, dismissing Dean’s protest. “We can put on a movie, and I’ll watch over you.”

Dean scowled—for a moment, anyway, until it pulled the bump on his head—but couldn’t do much about it, letting out a resigned sigh instead. “Alright,” he agreed. “Don’t know if I can concentrate on a lot right now, though.”

“What’s a movie or show that you find soothing, or that you watched when you were a kid?” Castiel asked, settling himself onto the couch right next to Dean.

Reflexively, Dean leaned in, snuggling up to Castiel’s shoulder. For a split second they both froze; before Dean could pull back, though, Castiel’s arm slipped down around his shoulder, tugging him in comfortably.

“How about The Princess Bride ?” Dean suggested, relaxing against Castiel, secretly huffing in his comforting, warm scent.

“As you wish,” Castiel said down into Dean’s hair, a smile in his voice as he quoted the movie.

“You’re a dork,” Dean said, grinning as much as his split lip would allow.

 

x

 

They only had a couple of weeks left until Valentine’s day. Dean and Gabriel had agreed upon their seasonal offerings for the bakery in mid-January, and had spent the last week testing their recipes during their quiet hours. Gabriel’s chocolate roses were exquisite, dark chocolate petals framing a center of rose Turkish delight crème. Dean’s red velvet donuts were going to be the talk of the town, and the tiny, heart shaped garlic rolls he’d created would end up on a lot of dinner tables—not to mention adorning every meal in Roy’s hometown restaurant up the street,  and filling baskets at The Roadhouse. Dean had managed to talk Gabriel out of any inappropriate confectionary genitals, though he had compromised and allowed Gabriel to sell a few bottles of flavored chocolate sauce…and what people did with it if they purchased it, well, that was their own business.

As Dean was organizing his heart-shaped sugar sprinkles (he had quite the collection, despite Gabriel’s teasing), he found himself smiling down at the faint marks on the back of his hands, small red marks that told tales of the fight with Cole at the Roadhouse. They were healing up, almost gone, to the point where Dean no longer needed to cover them at work. As much as the memory of the fight itself wasn’t a positive one, the memories Dean had of how Castiel had cared for him after were much more precious. Alright, Dean had been resistant at first—he didn’t like being fussed over, not in the slightest. But he’d realized very quickly that letting Castiel clean his wounds and change his dressings every day made Castiel feel better, for whatever reason, so it was an imposition that he gave up fighting.

Recently, Dean concluded, any little thing that he could do to make Castiel feel better…he’d do it. Their adjustment of status interview was now coming up in just a few days, right at the same time that Castiel was tearing his hair out (almost literally, Dean worried, from the way he tugged at it) over his final edits for his new book.

Untitled, by J. Milton. Dean wondered if it had a name yet. For some reason, he hadn’t asked.

Sprinkles tidied up, Dean moved over to the sink to wash his hands before heading over to one of the large industrial stand mixers that lived in the back of the kitchen. He had cookie dough to mix. Before he could get started, his phone began a long, impatient buzz in his pocket, quickly filling the air with the sounds of Highway to Hell.

Smiling, Dean swiped his thumb over the screen. “Heya, Chuckles.”

“Handmaiden,” Charlie greeted him warmly. “Surprised you answered so quickly.”

Dean grinned, leaning back against the counter. “You caught me without flour on my hands for once. What’s up?”

“Nothin’ much, just checking in. Gilda and I are gonna be in town Valentine’s day, so…double date?”

 Dean wrinkled his nose. “You know how I feel about Hallmark holidays.”

“So? Now you’ve got a husband to be a cliché with! Embrace it!”

Letting out a tiny rumble of displeasure, Dean reached up to press at the bridge of his nose. He really needed to tell Charlie—he wanted to tell Charlie. But he wouldn’t do it without Castiel there, too. The secret belonged to both of them. Maybe face to face at dinner would be as good a time as any. “Fine,” he said. “Double date.”

Charlie made an awfully pleased squealing noise and he could hear her jumping to her feet. “Alright—I gotta go, I have to run across campus to my next class. But I’ll tell Gilda and we’ll make plans.”

“Okay,” Dean agreed. “Later, my Queen.”

“Stay cool, nerd.”

Shoving his phone back into his pocket, Dean shook his head to himself and went to re-wash his hands. He’d seen something on TV exactly one time, detailing how many germs were on the average cell phone, before he’d made a "wash hands after calls" rule at the bakery. Dean headed back over to the stand mixer and began to mix his cookie dough, his mind drifting back to what he could do to help Castiel relax a little.

He’d been doing as much as he could to keep the deadline-hit writer calm: serving home-cooked meals, providing coffee, keeping the townhouse as clean and tidy as he knew Castiel liked it, even if he never really complained out loud. Castiel was the hippie-dippy, yoga-loving, massage-having one of them, though. He’d probably think something was wrong with Dean if Dean was the one to suggest that maybe he needed to take a breath and get his chakras aligned, or some shit. So, he’d just been doing all he could around the house, in his own way.

Castiel had never requested a domestic sub, but damn if Dean hadn’t handed him one on a (freshly cleaned) plate.

But, right now, it wasn’t enough. With the threat of being cross-examined by U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services on the horizon, on top of the looming fiction deadline, Castiel was tense and quiet and running out of cheesy breathing techniques.

Dean needed to get creative.

Amidst scooping chocolate chips, an idea began to creep into Dean’s mind. A bad idea? Maybe. Or…maybe not. Dean had read, by this point in time, everything that Castiel had ever published. (Plus the one particular manuscript in question, that he had not yet published…) Dean had already noted that there were a few recurring themes , it could be said.

Dean wondered where those came from. It didn’t seem to make sense that Castiel would keep returning to writing things he didn’t enjoy. So, Dean justified to himself flimsily, it would make sense to at least try out some of the things that the Doms in Castiel’s books enjoyed, right…?

Castiel always seemed calmer after they’d indulged in a small scene, so why not lean into that? A week or so before, Castiel had metered out Dean’s “punishment” for neglecting to tell him honestly about Kit’s interactions at the bakery. Dean couldn’t even think of if as a punishment without mental air-quotes, because they had both been grinning and enjoying themselves far too much for it to be any such thing—but Dean had noticed that his sore, paddled ass hadn’t been the only lingering effect; Castiel had seemed a little calmer in the couple of days after. But now, closer to his deadline, that calm was long gone.

Decision made, Dean grinned to himself and whistled his way through the rest of his cookies.

“Hey Gabe, I gotta run out quickly,” Dean said when his turn for a break rolled around. “I need to drive somewhere and pick something up super fast—can I borrow your car?”

Gabriel shrugged his response and dug his keys out of his pocket, throwing them across to Dean. “Take your time, dude. It’s so dead in here today we could run on a skeleton crew.”

Dean rolled his eyes at Gabriel’s dumb puns, and caught the keys one handed. Once he’d ditched his apron in the back, Dean dashed out to the tiny parking lot behind the bakery where Gabriel kept his cherry red convertible. It wasn’t Dean’s kinda car, far too flashy, not an elegant lady like his Baby, but she’d get him to his destination.

Hurrying, despite Gabriel’s words, he fired up the incredibly messy vehicle—how did one man generate so many candy wrappers?—and pulled around to the road, heading directly out of town. It only took five minutes to get to the generically named "adult emporium" on the outskirts of Lawrence.

He had something very specific in mind, something that had featured in several of J. Milton’s works, always at the suggestion of the Dom in the story. Not exactly evidence…but the best Dean was gonna get. He had to begrudgingly admit that Gabriel’s sleek convertible was a dang sight easier to park than Baby, not that he’d ever say it aloud. Older Impalas kinda drove like boats, but she was sensitive and he wasn’t going to hurt her feelings. Once he’d locked up the car—and shaken a lollipop wrapper from the bottom of his foot—Dean headed inside.

“Welcome!” A cheerful saleswoman greeted the moment he set foot through the door. “What can I help you with today?”

Usually, Dean preferred to shop alone—particularly in a place like this, thanks—but he was in a hurry, and the less time he was away, the less likely Gabriel was to think of asking him where he actually went. “Uh, yeah, if you could advise me on a few things that’d be great.”

“Of course,” she responded politely. Jess, as her nametag identified her, smoothed down her black uniform and gestured around the store with a smile. “Let’s find you what you need—which area of the store are we starting in, today?”

Dean couldn’t help but smile at the very-skillfully avoided “you here for a chick or a dude” question.

Looking overhead, Dean spotted a large sign designating an entire wall of toys and bondage gear, and with a tight little smile he pointed to it as he began to move. “I need a few things for my—uh, my husband.”

She looked at him slightly oddly, but he wasn’t sure if it was the slip with the word "husband" or the direction they were headed in. He told the enthusiastic and exceedingly knowledgeable young blonde exactly what he wanted, and she was able to take him straight to the shelves he needed. She kept sneaking glances at him out of the corner of her eye, and Dean was well aware that she was wondering if he’d be the one using the items, or having them used on him… but she was far too polite to ask, ringing him up with a cheery smile and a discount code from a flyer that was lying on the register.

“Thank you for stopping by today! Make sure to come back for all your sexy needs!”

Dean couldn’t help but grin in amusement and assure her that should he need anything else, he knew exactly where to go. Humming, Dean took his large bag back to Gabriel’s car and was behind the wheel again in a little under ten minutes.

Gabriel was wrapped up in counting bags for inventory when Dean came back, and barely more than smiled as Dean gave him back his keys. 

Success! Dean rejoiced, before looking at the clock. He’d put in a few more hours…then maybe sneak out early, he decided.  

 

x

 

“Well, it’s a good thing I came home early,” Dean said dryly as he entered the kitchen.

Castiel looked up sharply, jumping and drawing in a sudden breath at Dean’s entrance. “ Blin! ” he exclaimed, one hand on his chest. “You made me jump, I didn’t hear the door.”

“I’m not surprised at all,” Dean said, shaking his head at the papers scattered across the kitchen table where Castiel sat with his laptop, and the mugs of cold coffee perched in between the sea of corrections like abandoned, jittery lighthouses. “Did you eat anything today?”

Frowning, Castiel began to shuffle his papers somewhat reluctantly into a pile. “Of course I did, you left me that sandwich to eat.”

“That was yesterday, Cas,” Dean said, letting out a long sigh. “You were supposed to take a break and make yourself some leftovers today.”

Castiel managed to look a little sheepish. “Oh…I’m sorry, Dean. I’m just so close to—”

“Close to passing out when you try and stand up, that’s what you are,” Dean grumbled, already going through the refrigerator and assembling some leftover lasagna on a plate.

“Isn’t it supposed to be me that looks after you?” Castiel asked as Dean shut the microwave, setting it for three minutes.

Dean shook his head, smiling fondly as he turned and walked over to Castiel. “We both know that’s not true. We both do our part in different ways. Now,” he said, placing his hands on the back of the kitchen chair that Castiel occupied and leaning forward, so he could speak low into his ear, “You’ve had a long day, and you’ve worked hard. So, I thought that maybe you could take a break for some…fun.”

Castiel paused in his paper shuffling, tilting his head slightly to the side so that he could look back at Dean. “Fun?”

“New fun,” said Dean devilishly. “Completely up to you, of course, but…I have a little surprise for you.”

Castiel’s eyebrow ticked silently upward.

Dean couldn’t help a little smirk, dropping his voice just a little further. “Eat your food, Cas …then come upstairs, Sir ,” he said, putting a little emphasis on the difference in names. “I’ll be waiting.”

Not waiting to see Castiel’s reaction, mostly in case it wasn’t what he hoped, Dean strode out into the hallway. The microwave was still whirring as he headed toward the stairs, and he heard Castiel’s laptop snap shut.

Dean grabbed the large bag he’d brought home from the bottom of the stairs where he’d stashed it, and moved quickly up to the landing on the first floor. He hesitated, unsure whether to go to his room or Castiel’s, but ultimately decided on Castiel’s. So far, they hadn’t ventured into Dean’s room with their "friends with benefits" relationship they had going on, and while it didn’t seem to be deliberate, there seemed little point changing what worked.

Closing the door behind him, Dean surveyed Castiel’s neatly made bed, giving it a smile. Neat freak, Dean thought, teasingly, before dumping the bag out onto the comforter. It only took him a minute to get everything out of boxes, rip off tags, and peel back plastic. He shoved the trash back into the carrier bag, before carefully arranging the items on the bed in a way that he hoped was at least somewhat pleasing to the eye.

Figuring that it would take Castiel at least a couple of minutes to eat—no matter how much he was rushing—Dean decided to quickly run to the bathroom. Any kind of sex, nevermind gay BDSM, could use a good scrubbin’ where it counted. Clean and fresh, Dean stopped by his own bedroom to find a clean t-shirt and a pair of simple black pajama pants—he knew what he was hoping Castiel would do, but he certainly wouldn’t get undressed until he was told to. Just to be extra good, Dean included a little surprise beneath his soft sweatpants.

Initially, Dean climbed into the bed and sprawled between the pillows, relaxing on the mattress above the items he’d displayed at the end of it—but as soon as he heard the stairs creak to indicate Castiel moving up them, he scrambled into a kneeling position, sitting on his heels up near the pillows.  

Head bowed, hands behind his back, he waited hopefully.

While Dean had totally framed this in his mind as something to distract Castiel from his worries and help him relax…he was still really hoping it worked for his own selfish reasons, too. Castiel was almost unbearably hot in Dean’s opinion, and there was no point where he didn’t want him. Anytime he could release his own tension a little, he was definitely going to.

Dean sensed Castiel entering the room; the door pushed open a little further with a soft squeak, and the sound of footsteps paused. He couldn’t see, keeping his head down, but he really wished he could see Castiel’s face as he took in the scene before him.

Mercy came in the form of Castiel clearing his throat. “Dean?” he asked softly, bringing Dean’s head up automatically, a final check in before Dean knew that Castiel would stop using his day-to-day name entirely.

Castiel was always tall, somewhat imposing, a little cocky and occasionally a basic bossy  bitch when he wanted his way, even with how caring and thoughtful he could be. But somehow, when he switched over to this, dived into his Dom persona, let his need for control take over…he always seemed three feet taller, to Dean, his shoulders set firmly, his eyes darker and bluer and even more entrancing. It made Dean’s heart race.

Dean bit his lip, giving Castiel a nervous, but hopefully reassuring, smile.

Immediately, Castiel moved over to the side of the bed, reaching across to tangle his fingers in Dean’s hair. It was grounding, and the soft scratch of Castiel’s nails across Dean’s scalp was like a drug, already pulling at his edges and leading him in. “Did you want to play, moj mal’chik? What brought this on?”

Leaning into Castiel’s hand, letting his eyes flutter closed, Dean smiled as he responded. “I wanted to surprise you. You’ve been really stressed, and I’ve been trying my best to look after you…but then I realized that maybe this was what you needed.”

“Sweet boy,” Castiel murmured, still petting at Dean’s head like he was a cat. “That was very thoughtful of you. I’ll admit I’ve been feeling very out of control and this…this is very enticing.”

Dean gave a pleased little hum. “So, you like them, Sir?”

Still looking at Dean, Castiel grinned as his hand slipped languidly down the side of Dean’s face before leaving entirely, so that he could step toward the end of the bed and assess the objects on top of the covers. He reached out, trailing his fingers over them, looking pleased. “These are lovely,” he said, picking up the first of two solid pairs of steel handcuffs. “What made you decide on these particular things—are these particular requests of yours?”

“Actually, they’re things I thought you might like,” Dean admitted, darting his tongue out to moisten his lips. He shifted, his arms getting stiff from being clasped behind his body. “I don’t know for sure, of course. It was just a guess.”

Castiel raised an eyebrow, the second, matching, pair of handcuffs dangling from his forefinger as he regarded Dean with a smirk. “Oh?” he said, sounding pleased, to Dean’s relief. “And what gave you the idea I’d like these things in particular? I know we said we’d sit down and go through a whole kink list together at some point, but we’ve hardly had the time.”

“Your books,” Dean admitted brashly. “There are just…certain things that you write more than others. I figured there was at least a chance they were preferences of yours, since you’d hardly keep going back to writing things you hated.”

Castiel chuckled his agreement, smiling as he lowered the handcuffs to the bed and moved along to the main attraction. “I must admit,” he said, a coy note creeping into his voice as he trailed his fingers across the blanket, “these are a bit of a favorite of mine. Have you ever used one, boy?”

Castiel lifted a long, metal toy from the bed. It was an expandable, steel spreader bar with various loops welded along the length of it, and two slightly larger loops, one at each end. (It was, according to Jess, the helpful saleslady who did not judge, the best one they had. “See these pins here?” she’d said. “One safeword and boom! Pull ‘em straight out. Make sure your ankles are supported though, believe me.”) It was designed to be tied, by various possible means, to the wearer’s ankles, forcing their legs apart and rendering them immobile.

“No, Sir,” Dean said, shaking his head. “I’ve seen one used once or twice—like, in porn and stuff—but I’ve never tried one.”

“You don’t have to try anything you don’t want to,” Castiel said quietly, sliding the cuffs and bar to the side. He pulled at the legs of his slacks so that he could bend his knees, crawling up the bed toward Dean and scooping Dean’s face between his hands, seeking out his eyes with a serious expression. “I’ll never ask you to try anything that you aren’t comfortable with.”

Dean couldn’t help the lopsided grin that spread across his features, though he schooled it away again quickly.

“What?” Castiel asked, his head tilting.

“You’re, uh, you’re kind of adorable, Sir.”

Castiel laughed, his eyes twinkling, and shrugged. “Fine, if you think so. I just always want to stay within your boundaries, and not push at them unless we decide that together. You’re such a good boy, you deserve that.”

Ignoring the tiny flush that he could feel building at his own throat, Dean forced himself not to look away from Castiel. “I’m fine with it—I’m curious. I like being restrained; you know that. New isn’t bad.”

Castiel relaxed at Dean’s words, smiling softly again, his eyes darkening. “And I love that you enjoy that—because I will really enjoy getting to restrain you, moj mal’chik. I’m so very lucky,” he said, stroking his fingers across Dean’s cheekbones, “that you choose to give me this.”

Dean’s flush was creeping further up his neck—he could feel the hot prickle—but he already didn’t care, entranced by Castiel’s expression. He’d do anything to see him look like that. “You make it easy to give, Sir,” Dean admitted quietly.

“Remind me of your colors, sweet boy,” Castiel said, finally releasing Dean’s face so that he could slide from the bed. He reached up, slowly loosening his blue tie and beginning to unbutton the white dress shirt that he wore over incredibly crumpled dress pants.

Dean knew Castiel was only dressed up because he’d had a Skype meeting with his publisher that morning; his publisher was lucky Castiel had even bothered to put on pants. It certainly wasn’t the norm. Dean rather liked Castiel in his suits though, so he said nothing, letting his eyes rest on Castiel’s fingers as they worked his buttons. “Green is good,” Dean began seriously, knowing Castiel wouldn’t appreciate him being flippant about it. “It means continue, I like it, I’m feeling fine. Yellow is for when something doesn’t feel quite right, I’m uncomfortable—so we need to slow down, or change something up. And red is stop, immediately, no questions.”

“Good boy,” Castiel praised, grinning down at Dean as he shook his arms out of his shirt. “Now, as you surprised me with this, I haven’t got a scene planned out—but I certainly have some ideas. So, I want you to check in with me a lot, make sure you’re happy with where things are going. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Sir,” Dean said immediately, eager. He wanted to get his damn pants off already, but he knew there was no way in hell it was going to be that easy.

“Take off your shirt and lay down on your back,” Castiel instructed.

Dean hurried to obey, his t-shirt flying off and landing on Castiel’s nightstand, half-covering the lamp. Castiel eyed it with amusement before looking back to Dean.

“Glad to see that you’re eager,” he said, grinning. “But try not to trash my room, please.”

“Sorry, Sir,” Dean muttered, embarrassed, as he lay down on his back amidst Castiel’s soft bedding.

Staring up at the ceiling, Dean sucked in a long breath, trying to calm the way his heart was already thumping at his chest, and did his best to ignore the way his dick was beginning to chub up purely from anticipation. The bed lurched, and then suddenly he had a view full of Castiel; straddling his stomach, his knees either side of Dean’s ribs, naked as nature intended. Dean was relieved to note that he wasn’t the only one already filling out in expectation.

As Castiel leaned over him, trailing his hands almost reverently down Dean’s left arm until he got to Dean’s wrist, Dean let his eyes roam and take in every inch of Castiel that he was allowed. His broad, muscled shoulders, smooth and tanned skin leading down to a smattering of dark hair that began at his chest and trailed all the way down to his groin, encircling his thick, straight cock. The single dark freckle above Castiel’s right nipple called to Dean like a beacon, begging to be kissed and tongued along with the hard, dark-brown nub below it—but he didn’t move, of course, wouldn’t move, until he was told to.

“Color?” Castiel asked gently, as Dean felt the press of cool metal against his wrist.

“Green,” he responded instantly. He hadn’t been told he couldn’t look, Dean reasoned, turning his head to watch as Castiel snapped the first of the steel handcuffs around his wrist, before pulling his arm up toward one of the wooden bed posts that Dean had so carefully sanded and polished himself.

It only took another minute for both of Dean’s hands to be restrained, one stretched out toward each side of the bed, cuffed to the headboard. Dean twisted his wrists with a smile, pulling against them firmly to test them as Castiel very carefully placed both of the keys within sight and reach on the nightstand.

“Comfortable?” Castiel asked, his thumbs rubbing soft circles on Dean’s inner forearms.

“Not too bad,” Dean said, nodding reassuringly. The position was a bit of a stretch, but nothing too bad; it was more exciting than uncomfortable. “They’re not digging in painfully unless I pull at them.”

Castiel leaned forward just a fraction more, so that he could link his fingers with Dean’s, stretched out on top of him, their faces only inches apart. Locking his eyes on to Dean’s, he gave a slow, dark smile. “Exactly as it should be. I want you to tell me if they start getting uncomfortable or digging in more than you enjoy. And I want you to safeword immediately if your fingers start tingling or feeling numb. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Sir,” Dean replied, surprised at the depth of the rasp in his own voice already. He could feel Castiel’s dick against his lower stomach as he rolled forward, pressing hot and increasingly hard against Dean’s skin. With Castiel’s face right above him, Dean licked his lips, desperate to stretch up and capture his lips, get to taste his mouth—but Castiel was the first to move, withdrawing in a way that made something in Dean’s chest mewl like a little brat. But he said nothing and turned his head to follow Castiel’s movements, instead.

Castiel leaned to the side, pressing his lips to the bump of Dean’s wrist beneath his thumb. Soft and wet, he trailed kisses gradually across Dean’s skin, working inch by inch up to Dean’s elbow. He took his time, and the feel of his hot mouth was divine. Dean exhaled heavily, biting his lip against a whimper. Turning his head just a fraction so that he could look back at Dean’s eyes, Castiel gave him a slow smile.

“Don’t bite back those beautiful noises, moj mal’chik. Unless I’ve specified silence, I always want to hear them.”

Beginning to softly float out of the anxieties of daily life under the rough rumble of Castiel’s instructions, Dean merely gave a little smile and nodded. “Yes, Sir,” he agreed easily, watching as his Dom’s pillowy lips latched back onto his skin, making leisurely work of the inside of Dean’s elbow. Castiel moved torturously gently up to Dean’s collarbone, rocking his hips maddeningly against Dean’s abdomen as he drifted across to Dean’s other arm, taking his lips on an agonizingly meandering journey up to the other silvery handcuff. Letting out a low grown of pleasured frustration, Dean pulled against the cuffs, loving the way they jangled against the wood.

“That’s it, good boy,” Castiel praised into his skin. “Let me hear you wanting more, or how are you ever going to persuade me to give it to you?”

“You’re a tease,” Dean panted out, grinning.

“Oh, yes,” Castiel agreed calmly, dragging his mouth back toward Dean’s shoulder. “And you love it.” He nipped into the flesh of Dean’s neck, the words sucked and bit right into his skin.

Dean groaned out loud, turning his face so that he could inhale Castiel’s lemony shampoo, tugging at the cuffs so they made sharp, metallic noises against the headboard. Castiel was unperturbed, running his tongue down Dean’s sternum. He shuffled himself down lower so that Dean’s chest and stomach were open to his mouth, and Dean cussed softly as their cocks brushed on the pass. “Oh, fuck , you always feel so good,” he said, squeezing his eyes shut for a moment.

“As do you,” Castiel purred against his skin, the deep rumble of his voice vibrating through Dean’s body as he spoke into his ribcage, worshiping every bone with his lips. “You are so beautiful, and so responsive…”

For a moment Castiel veered from his path along Dean’s clavicle to suck his nipple into his mouth. Castiel sucked hard, drawing Dean’s skin up into a firm peak instantly, before he withdrew, blowing cold air across his areola as he pulled back. Dean let out a high-pitched whine, a shiver running through him.    

“Yes, so receptive to even the softest of stimulation,” Castiel reiterated softly. “And the way you flush and melt under the simplest of praise…”

Dean did, indeed, flush and melt, feeling like he was sinking even further into the mattress under the weight of Castiel’s words.

“Such a good boy,” Castiel said. He lifted his head, their chests touching just fractionally as his breath hit the curve of Dean’s ear. “One day,” Castiel whispered, “I should decorate your gorgeous freckles with ink, write all the praise you deserve across your skin, then fuck you long and hard until you sweat off every word.”

Dean gulped harshly. “Jesus Christ,” he muttered helplessly. He felt Castiel’s lips curve against his ear. A sharp pressure twisted at Dean’s nipple as Castiel pinched it between his forefinger and thumb, making Dean yelp.

“Keep him out of my bed, boy,” Castiel said, coy but firm.

“Yes, Sir.” Dean panted, willing his body to calm a little; the friction of Castiel’s body against his, the sound of his voice rumbling between them, Dean was already so worked up that his pants felt uncomfortable and a little damp.

His hips shifting didn’t go unnoticed, and Castiel pulled back—to a soft whine from Dean—and swung one leg over, so that he could work Dean’s pants down. “You’re dealing so beautifully with all my teasing,” Castiel said. “So, I think you’ve earned your pants off, at least.”

Dean sighed with relief. “Thank you, Sir.”

Castiel was suddenly quiet at the end of the bed, until Dean lifted his head to look down. Castiel kneeled between Dean’s knees, his eyes trained on Dean’s crotch and the precome-soaked, emerald-green satin that encased his cock. “Oh, good boy,” Castiel crooned, sounding a little breathless.

“You like them on, Sir?” Dean asked, smiling proudly.

“Oh, yes, sweet boy. You fill them beautifully.” With one finger, Castiel reached out and trailed a teasing touch up Dean’s cock, rubbing a small circle in the dark, damp spot of fabric that clung to the head of his cock.

Dean hissed at the sensation, exhaling hard. “Oh, fuck,” he groaned softly.

“I think I’ll leave them on,” Castiel suggested darkly. He leaned down, curling his body over so that he could nose into the side of the silky fabric and kiss his way up Dean’s cock. Encased in the panties, Dean’s cock jerked desperately, which only made it strain further against the wet patch of material.

Breathing increasingly shaky, Dean could only nod as Castiel turned his lips to the crease of Dean’s thigh and his hip, tonguing his way along the lace hem. His chest felt like it was buzzing as Castiel’s burning mouth came back to Dean’s skin, over and over, working across the inside of his thighs and across his hipbones where fabric met skin. It was heavenly, and Dean found himself falling deeper, pulling against the hard metal cuffs just to feel them press into his skin.

“Color?” Castiel breathed into Dean’s abs.

“Green. Super green. Any kind of green you want,” Dean responded, before giving out a slightly hysterical giggle. There was a time and a place for movie references, but Dean had never cared where or when that was. The Fifth Element was always relevant.

Castiel huffed in amusement against Dean’s stomach, and Dean’s chest filled with warmth that he could make Castiel smile, even like this. “Dork,” Castiel kissed into his hip.

“Like you can talk,” Dean murmured, before all breath was stolen away by Castiel’s sucking the tip of Dean’s cock into his mouth, fabric and all. “Oh, fuck!” Dean managed, before falling into gibberish, whining and shivering under Castiel’s hot, laving tongue.

Castiel pulled back after far too short a time—or perhaps far too long, if he didn’t mean for that to be the end, because Dean’s balls were tight and hot and he was practically shaking under the cage of Castiel’s arms. Taking a moment to look down at Dean like he might just be struggling himself, Castiel smiled devilishly, his hands trailing to the insides of Dean’s knees and pushing outward, forcing Dean to splay his legs out wide.

From the side of the mattress, Castiel reached for the spreader bar that Dean had purchased. Making thoughtful humming noises as he turned it in his hands, Castiel nodded his approval. “This is nice, very sturdy. We can use the leather cuffs it came with tonight, but I think it would be beautiful used with rope, one day.”

Dean could only nod mutely, still far too busy breathing deep and trying to lower his arousal a notch or two. Which was incredibly hard to do with Castiel sitting between his legs, naked, his cock glossy and upright, begging for Dean’s mouth, or ass, or hand. Dean was entranced by it as Castiel continued his inspection of the bar, watching as a droplet of precome caught the light from the bulb over the bed. Gleaming, it fought valiantly against gravity for a long moment before it succumbed and drooled thickly over the edge, leaving a silvery trail across the reddened skin of Castiel’s cock.

Fuck, even his cock was beautiful. How was Dean ever supposed to resist any of that?

“Hey,” Castiel said, reaching up to slap at the side of Dean’s ass teasingly. “Are you paying attention to me? You know I want you to be my good boy, but if you don’t want to be—”

“No! No, I’m sorry,” Dean babbled, his arms yanking against the hard cuffs sharply. “I was—I was just distracted,” he admitted, too far gone for any embarrassment, “by you. By your gorgeous cock.”

Castiel gave a low chuckle. “That’s acceptable, I suppose,” he said, his hands pulling at Dean’s ankles so that he had to bend his knees. “But make sure you pay attention, moj mal’chik. It’s much more pleasurable for us both if you’re my good, sweet boy, hmmm?”

“Yes, yes, Sir,” Dean agreed heartily, shaking his head and hyper focusing on Castiel’s voice. He would be Castiel’s good boy, whatever Castiel wanted.

“That’s better,” Castiel praised warmly. “Now—color?” he asked, his hands pushing at Dean’s ankles until he was spread-eagled on the bed with bent knees, the angle of his legs mimicking the stretched shape of his arms as they were cuffed to the headboard.

“Still green, Sir,” Dean reassured him.

“Good. I’m going to attach the leather cuffs to your ankles, now,” Castiel continued. “Once I do that, you won’t be able to move your feet any closer together unless I allow it. I can push them out a little further, but I don’t plan to do that unless you ask for it.”

“Yes, Sir.”  Watching as Castiel wrapped the thick, black leather cuffs around his ankles and then used the metal clips to attach them to the largest loops at the end of the bar, Dean felt bold, licking his lips before he ventured a question. “What is it that you like about this, Sir? Will you tell me?”

“The spreader bar?” Castiel clarified, snapping the metal clip for Dean’s second ankle. At Dean’s nod he gave a wolfish grin. “That’s easy. Let me show you…”

Without another word, Castiel reached down and grabbed the metal bar, lifting it upward. Powerless, Dean’s ankles went with it, pushed apart and tied, attached to the ends of the bar. Dean’s feet dangled in the air, and he yelped at the unexpected movement as Castiel’s sharp tug on the bar drove his knees back against his sides.

“Oh, fuck!” Dean cried out, unable to move, his hands and feet totally immobilized—and his position now totally under Castiel’s control.

“Color?” Castiel said, shuffling up to Dean and leaning forward so that the bar was between them. Castiel pushed down, bending Dean’s knees, the bar against his own toned stomach. With one hand, his bicep bulging very attractively, Castiel held the bar still, while his other slipped back to Dean’s hips, tugging the silk underwear down his legs just enough to free his cock and ass, but leaving them digging into this thighs—just another form of restraint.  

Dean’s muscles protested, his lungs burned from the heavy breaths he was sucking in, and his thighs began to shake under the pressure of the position. All-in-all, there could only be one possible answer. “Green! Green—oh god, please, Sir—fuck, please touch me!”

With blown pupils and a grin that showed all of his perfectly white teeth, Castiel pressed forward a little further, earning a groan from Dean as he pressed his lips to Dean’s forehead. Castiel’s rock-hard cock rested against Dean’s own, tantalizing, and Dean wished desperately that Castiel would angle it just a little lower, and push into his obscenely exposed hole.

As if he could read Dean’s mind—or most likely, just the desperate signals Dean’s pliant body was giving out—Castiel smiled gently, the hand not supporting him on the bed trailing down Dean’s chest and across his stomach toward his weeping cock. “Tell me what you need, moj mal’chik.”

“I need your cock in me,” Dean begged, his heartbeat racing. “I need to be fucked, Sir, I need to come on your cock. Please, please, Sir.”

Castiel bit his lip, groaning deeply at Dean’s words. “I can never resist you, can I?” he said, shaking his head affectionately. “You’re going to get spoiled and bratty, always getting your way…but I just can’t help it. It’s what my good boy deserves.”

Dean wiggled his ass as best he could, tears pricking at his eyes. He angled his hips upwards, trying to press his cock into Castiel’s and get some pressure, just a little friction, absolutely anything to give some relief to his aching cock. But he was trapped, held in place by Castiel’s weight on the bar, and his cock bobbed uselessly, leaking onto his stomach. The tension in Dean’s muscles built maddeningly, Dean unable to even flex them. It was almost too much, on the edge of too far to be comfortable, too far to feel good. “Please,” Dean begged, his voice almost a sob.

Castiel’s hand came up to Dean’s jaw. “Color?”

“Y-yellow,” Dean admitted, his voice shaking, squeezing his eyes shut tight.

“Tell me what you need.” Castiel’s voice was firm, and he was frozen perfectly still.

“I just—I need—It’s almost too much.”

“Take a breath,” Castiel crooned gently, his thumb brushing at Dean’s jaw. “Tell me what’s too much.”

Dean sucked in air heavily, breathing raggedly but doing his best to calm down and explain, to be Castiel’s good boy as he wanted. As he’d promised. “It’s just too much,” he managed. “Please touch me, or fuck me, whatever you want, I just need…something, it’s all so good, I—”

“Shhh,” Castiel breathed the sound against Dean’s forehead, caressing his lips across his sweaty, hot skin. “It’s okay. I’ve got you, sweet boy. Do you want to continue now, or do you need a breather for a while?”

Shaking his head under Castiel’s kiss, Dean gave a sigh of relief. “No, I’m fine. I’m sorry. It’s just a lot, it feels really intense and just…I can only take so much.”

“Of course,” Castiel agreed. “Everyone has a limit, and you’re a very good boy for telling me before we got there.”

Dean’s chest bloomed brightly again under Castiel’s praise. He had done good; he’d told Castiel before it became entirely too much, before he couldn’t take it. And now, Castiel was going to reward him for being so good. Dean floated happily.

“I have to let go of you for a moment to get the lube,” Castiel said gently, letting go of the spreader bar and releasing the pressure on Dean’s ankles. “Is that okay?”

Dean nodded shakily. “Yes.”

“I’ll be right back. Lower your feet and stretch out your legs for me while I get it.”

“Yes, Sir,” Dean said automatically, easing his ankles back down to the bed as Castiel moved back, pulling away so that Dean had space to flatten his legs against the mattress. The pressure in his thighs loosened instantly. The metal clips of his leather ankle cuffs jangled against the steel bar, and Dean’s chest buzzed, the air in his lungs hot and staticky. He liked the noise.

“Good boy,” Castiel praised again, back quickly, bending Dean’s knees just enough to expose him once more. “You’re so good for me.”

Seemingly more confident now that Dean didn’t need a super-gentle approach to be comfortable with something in his ass, Castiel quickly and efficiently massaged around Dean’s hole with his thumbs, pushing lube inside and easing the fingers of his right hand in without much waiting around. His left hand went straight to Dean’s cock, immediately giving him the merciful relief that he’d begged for.

Dean sighed and shook, so glad to have something touching his cock that he could practically cry. Wait, was he crying? He didn’t even know. But he smiled, hazily, his back arching into Castiel’s touch, the heavy cuffs around his wrists digging in deliciously as he pulled against them.

“So good,” Dean echoed, doing his best to push down against Castiel’s fingers. “Everything is so good,” he reassured Castiel quickly, enough calm flowing across him from Castiel’s attention that he tried to vocalize more clearly. “It’s just been a while since I’ve been restrained this much, and it got a bit overwhelming. But I’m okay.”

“You’re sure?” Castiel asked, his voice still soft as he withdrew his fingers, still slowly jacking Dean’s cock with his other hand as he lined himself up against Dean’s hole, silk pressed between them, only lifting the bar enough to give himself access. “If you’re even slightly uncomfortable, we can stop.”

For a heart-stopping moment, Dean though that Castiel was going to stop, and he scrambled to reassure him. “No, no, please—I want you, so bad, please, I need you— ahhhh! ” Dean’s words gave way to a throaty groan as, with one smooth motion, Castiel lifted the bar and pushed forward, the head of his cock slipping suddenly past the first tight ring of muscle.

“Oh, god ,” Castiel hissed, his head hanging forward. “You feel amazing.”

Dean could feel Castiel’s thighs trembling against the backs of his own, and he sucked in his bottom lip, moaning. “Fuck, your cock is everything. Fill me up, please, please—don’t hold back, Sir, please…”

With another groan, this time of Castiel’s, the bar between Dean’s ankles was jerked up further. Castiel’s strong arms visibly tensed, and Dean’s tailbone left the mattress, his spine curled as Castiel leaned over him and fucked forward hard. Their bodies slapped together relentlessly, every forward thrust punctuated by a throaty moan from Dean and a gasp from Castiel.

“Going to come on my cock, sweet boy?” Castiel growled, leaning his weight into Dean’s thighs to support himself as he pounded into Dean’s ass.

“Holy shit,” Dean gasped out, nodding frantically. A growing sensation of fullness filled Dean’s balls as they shook under the force of Castiel’s motions, and he wished desperately that he could wrap a hand around his own cock. But restrained as he was, all Dean could do was arch his back further, trying to gain what little friction he could in the space between them.

Castiel didn’t stop him, if anything pounding harder, and Dean’s moans took on a strangled, breathy quality. Castiel was nailing his prostate right on the mark with almost every thrust, the pressure almost bruising. A muscle spasm rocked Dean’s abdomen and he cried out, desperate, his thighs burning and his wrists sore as he pulled down on his handcuffs. “Fuck!” Dean screamed.

Immediately Castiel began to pull back, but Dean shook his head frantically. “No, no! I’m good, I promise—please, fuck, it’s so sexy just to watch you,” Dean babbled. “Feeling it is even better, and the bar…fuck, yes, I love being under your control, Sir, I love—”

With a shuddering gasp, Dean’s words squeaked away to nothing as he spilled over his stomach, hot come spurting up across his ribs and running straight down his left side.

“Oh—” Castiel gasped weakly, his eyes wide as he looked down at Dean, coming untouched before his eyes. With a shudder he pressed his hips forward, seating himself deeply inside Dean as his eyes fluttered closed.

With the last of his energy, Dean grinned up at Castiel, clenching his muscles over and over around Castiel’s cock as it filled him, doing what little he could to milk the come from his Dom above him. Castiel’s eyes flew open again at the sensation, gasping, and he looked down at Dean with awe as he slumped forward, boneless.

Despite his own sticky, shaky-limbed situation, Castiel didn’t hesitate in releasing Dean from his bonds and pulling him back up the bed to the pillows, curling them together, mess and all.

Dean breathed in and out slowly, his heart rate slowly calming against Castiel’s chest. He gave a contented groan, stretching out like a cat. “Fuck,” he groaned, even though he was grinning. “I’m going to feel that for days.”

Castiel gave a chuckle, but his hands moved soothingly up and down Dean’s spine even as he responded. “Was I too rough?” he asked, sounding concerned enough that Dean had to nuzzle into his collar bone and press a line of kisses into Castiel’s warm skin.

“You were perfect,” Dean promised, tightening his grip around Castiel selfishly. “I’m sorry. About…y’know,” he said awkwardly, shrugging a shoulder. His skin moved against the blanket with a soft shushing sound, and Dean realized that he had no recollection of pulling it up over them.

He felt Castiel’s head shake against his temple as he pressed his face down next to Dean’s own. “Nothing to apologize for—you did exactly what you were supposed to do, so I could adjust and give you what you needed. You were very good. I’m so proud of you.”

Blissed out, Dean closed his eyes and let Castiel’s words wash over him.

All too soon, Castiel was shifting, pulling back slightly. “Time to clean up,” he said, sounding genuinely regretful. “Are you okay if step out and get some aftercare supplies?”

Dean made a grumbling noise and pouted up at Castiel for a moment as he rolled onto his back, settling into the pillow, but then he smiled, waving one hand weakly as he said, “Yeah, ‘course. As long as you come back for cuddles.”

Castiel laughed, nodding. “Wouldn’t miss out on those for the world,” he said very gently, slipping reluctantly out from the bed. He disappeared off downstairs but returned very quickly, coaxing Dean into sipping at a bottle of water while he used a delightfully warm, damp towel to clean them both up.

“On your side,” Castiel murmured, pushing to roll Dean’s hips so he could wipe the lube and come from between Dean’s legs and ass cheeks.

Dean grumbled at the indignity of it, causing Castiel to chuckle at him again.

“I don’t know about you,” Castiel said, “but I certainly don’t like waking up the next morning with crusty come behind my balls and between my cheeks.”

Dean rolled his eyes fondly at Castiel’s bluntness. “No, you’re right.” Smiling hazily, Dean tilted his head, looking back at Castiel curiously. “You do that, though? Bottom, I mean. I’m sure we’ve all woken up at least a little crusty once or twice, despite our best intentions.”

Setting the cloth aside on the nightstand, Castiel nudged Dean’s water to persuade him to drink a little more while he settled back in next to Dean. “Yes, I do. Surely you’re not one of those people who—”

“Oh, no,” Dean interrupted, shaking his head as he nestled into Castiel’s shoulder. “I’m not saying Doms can only top—just that you never seemed into it, that’s all. I’m well aware that you’d be quite capable of dominating the fuck out of me no matter what access points we were using.”

And wasn’t that a thought. If he hadn’t just been fucked six ways from Sunday, Dean could easily have chubbed up again at the thought of being buried in Castiel, his Dom taking what he wanted from Dean and keeping every ounce of control to himself.

Grinning down at Dean, amused by his phrasing, it seemed, Castiel nodded. He lay on his back, his arm around Dean’s shoulders as Dean nuzzled up into him, stroking rhythmically at Dean’s bicep. “You’re right, I could. And it is something I enjoy, I just…” Castiel’s hand slowed for a moment, his fingers shifting only slightly against Dean’s skin. “It’s not something I initially had the best experiences with. So now it’s something I keep for, uh…”

Oh. Dean thought. He heard the unspoken, something I keep for "real" relationships, for things that matter, as clear as day, even if Castiel hadn’t said that. Swallowing past the burning feeling that suddenly made itself known in Dean’s throat, Dean nodded.

“Right, yeah. Of course. I get it.”

“Dean,” Castiel ventured. “I—”

“It’s fine,” Dean interrupted. “We’re not that. And it’s none of my business anyway. Hey—do you think you could maybe, uh, aftercare-me on the couch today? I don’t wanna fall asleep here.”

Castiel was quiet for a moment, before giving a slight nod against the top of Dean’s head. “Of course. Whatever you need,” he replied, tugging his arm out from underneath Dean. Wordlessly, he rose from the bed and pulled his old, navy bathrobe from the back of the door, wrapping it around himself tightly. “I’ll get you some food while you get settled,” he said. “There’s enough lasagna left for you too.”

Dean watched Castiel carefully as he visibly closed off, tying the belt of his robe and moving to grab his underwear from the floor. Dean had no idea what he’d said, but Castiel was usually pretty snuggly and affectionate, particularly after sex, and this felt odd. “Hey,” Dean asked carefully as Castiel strode toward the door. “Are you okay?”

“Me?” Castiel asked, looking back over his shoulder. He seemed to hesitate for a moment, but then smiled. “I’m fine. Totally fine. Just want to get you downstairs quickly so I can rub some lotion into your wrists and ankles, okay?”

Dean nodded, not buying it for a moment, but obeying.



Chapter Text

 

Dean pushed himself up from Castiel’s mattress onto his elbows, before easing himself off the bed. He heard Castiel head down the stairs and begin rattling around in the kitchen, and Dean couldn’t help but frown slightly as he moved his stiff body around the room, gathering his clothes from where they’d been discarded—his sweatpants on the floor at the foot of the bed, his t-shirt still splayed haphazardly over the lamp. His silk panties, which had been tight around his thighs like a rope, were rolled up into a small ball on the bed where they’d been discarded as soon as Castiel removed Dean’s restraints. Dean gathered them up in his arms and shuffled slowly to his bedroom to dump everything in his laundry hamper. He heard the microwave whirring below, and a drawer closing.

Castiel was as stubborn as the day was long, and Dean knew he didn’t have a hope of getting him to say what was wrong or what had just happened if he didn’t want to. Even so, Dean had sensed…something, something off, something that made the oceanic blue of Castiel’s endless eyes just that little bit duller. And he hated it. Castiel might only be interested in a purely physical relationship, but that didn’t mean Dean could magically stop caring about him, he’d discovered. If he cared in a different way than a friend normally would…well, that was Dean’s cross to bear.

From the hook on the back of his bedroom door, Dean grabbed his bathrobe. He’d gotten it at an estate sale Gilda and Charlie had dragged him to, and he’d proceeded to freak them both out a bit by referring to it as his “dead guy robe” from then onwards. Dean stepped into the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror, clutching the robe in one hand. I look pale, he thought—or maybe it was just that he looked paler in comparison to the red lines at his wrists, the pressure marks around his ankles, the soft, blooming bruises across his neck and collarbone that were mere ghosts of Castiel’s lips and teeth. Slowly, Dean raised his hand, pressing two fingers into the bruising bite at his neck where Castiel had declared that Dean loved his teasing. Dean winced, but the tingle of soft pain was oddly pleasant. That one, at least, would still be there in the morning; the ones he could carry around under his clothes, a secret to all but him and Castiel, were the best ones. For now, he tugged on the dead guy robe, and hid them away.

Sighing, Dean shook his head and turned from the mirror, looking thoughtfully down at the bathtub, an idea forming. With a slow smile, Dean reached over and plugged it, starting the hot water running. He dug around under the sink until he found some bubbles—they may have once been Gabriel’s when he lived here, but Dean wasn’t going to think too hard on that—and sloshed them under the steaming tap. Poking his head out of the bathroom door, Dean called, “Hey, Cas!”

Da? ” came the lazy Russian rumble of a response.

“Could you maybe pause the food and come up here?”

There was silence for a moment, then the sound of the microwave door shutting—once, twice, then a third time with a mighty slam. It was old and resistant. Just like Dean felt some mornings, Dean often joked. Once the microwave had been bested, Castiel’s voice came back up the stairs.

“I thought you wanted to stay on the couch?”

“I have another idea,” Dean shouted back.

There wasn’t a vocal response, but Dean would have bet money that there was, at least, a fond eye roll. Nonetheless, Castiel’s footsteps sounded back up the creaky stairs. Dean busied himself grabbing some towels—he’d have lit a candle if he even had one, but Dean just wasn’t that type. There hadn’t been a candle in Dean’s bathroom since he’d lived in his Dad’s house with Sam. And those certainly hadn’t been his candles—or his Dad’s either, for that matter. As it was, he quickly tidied up his shaving junk from the counter and shoved it away in the cabinet, trying to make the room as relaxing as he could.

“Dean?” Castiel called from the hallway, sounding confused.

Dean poked his head out of the bathroom door, smiling. “In here,” he said.

Castiel raised a dark eyebrow. “I can wait…” he began.

Shaking his head, Dean smiled, trying not to look nervous. “This is for both of us.”

Puzzled, Castiel pulled his robe tighter around himself and stepped into the bathroom. His eyes falling on the half-full, bubbly bathtub, Castiel frowned softly, immediately turning to Dean. “Is everything okay?”

Dean reached out to usher Castiel toward the tub with a nod. “Yeah, I’m feeling fine. I promise. But I’m definitely aching all over, so this would be nice.”

Castiel nodded approvingly. “Very well. I still want to massage your wrists and ankles a little, put some lotion on them though, when you’re done.”

Dean took a step behind Castiel, venturing his hands up to wrap around Castiel from behind as he hooked his chin over his shoulder. “When we’re done.”

With a measured blink, Castiel looked back at Dean. “You want me to join you?”

“You’re a little slow today,” Dean teased.

Castiel gave Dean a glare, but he didn’t argue.

Keeping his voice low and his eyes carefully on the bubbles ahead, Dean stepped out from behind Castiel and shrugged his dead guy robe from his shoulders, hanging it on the back of the door, before he began to climb into the warm, lavender scented water. The tub itself was pretty big, one of the improvements that Dean had made to the townhouse when he first bought it, but even so it would be a cozy fit for two full grown men. Still watching the bubbles, Dean gave a little shrug as he sank down.

“Don’t get mad,” Dean said quietly to the water. “I’m not assuming anything. But you seemed a little off, and I just thought that…I mean, I didn’t want it to turn into something else. So, I thought…” Dean trailed off as he heard the fabric of Castiel’s robe brushing against his own as he hung it on the back of the door.

Castiel stepped up to the edge of the tub, and his hand went to Dean’s head like a magnet, his fingers tangling in Dean’s crown. “Why would I be mad? I don’t see anything but kindness, here.”

Dean’s eyes drew up to look at Castiel as he crouched beside the tub, so they were at eye level with each other.

“I’m okay,” Castiel reassured. “Nothing for you to worry about, anyway. It’s not what you think—I don’t think I’m dropping, if that’s what you’re inferring.”

Dean shrugged. “Humor me?” he said, unable to prevent himself from leaning into Castiel’s hand. “Even if you’re fine. Even if you’re just…just my friend Cas, right now. Can’t I make sure that you’re okay?”

“Just your friend Cas?” Castiel asked, a smirk pulling at his lips. “How many of your friendships involve nudity and bubbles?”

“Shut up and get in the tub, asshole,” Dean grumbled, giving Castiel’s chest a playful shove. “If my nudity offends you, then we need to be having a whole other conversation.”

Castiel laughed as he straightened up, and Dean’s chest swelled with the sound like it always had. Even more than it always had. Castiel dipped a toe into the water between Dean’s knees, giving a pleased hum at the temperature. “Going to be a tight squeeze,” Castiel pointed out.

“You were in my ass half an hour ago,” Dean pointed out crudely. “ That’s a tight squeeze. This is roomy.”

“Was that just a humble brag about how tight your ass is?” Castiel threw a wicked grin back at Dean as he climbed into the water, giving Dean a truly beautiful view of his own tight ass.

Snorting with laughter, Dean reached up and tugged on Castiel’s wrist. “Come here, you,” he said, much more softly, widening his legs as much as the tub would allow.

Castiel only hesitated a moment, which was pleasing. Dean wasn’t sure if Castiel would be against this, if he’d fight it more; they both looked after each other in their own ways, sure, but this was a little different. Castiel, at Dean’s guidance, settled back against Dean’s chest in the tub, the bubbles billowing around them and hiding almost everything but their chests and knees. Once he’d settled into place, Castiel gave a quiet, questioning look up at Dean, waiting.

“So, I very briefly dated this guy called Aaron,” Dean said, deciding to just go ahead with his story. “We were…really different people. But he was a good guy, and a good Dom, if a bit inexperienced.”

Castiel quietly raised an eyebrow, but said nothing, reaching out to lift up a handful of bubbles as Dean quietly spoke, instead.

“He’d get really upset if things didn’t go to plan,” Dean continued, cautiously wrapping his arms forward and easing them around Castiel’s chest bit-by-bit. “He’d feel really guilty, I guess, and it was easy for him to kinda spiral downward that way.”

Castiel nodded. “It can happen, and guilt at something not going the way you planned, when you’re responsible for another person, can be a big trigger. Doms dropping like that is a lot less common than subs—or so they say,” Castiel mused. “Though it’s arguable that it happens just as often, but that Doms by nature don’t want to admit to it.”

Dean hummed in agreement. “I guess that makes sense. They don’t want to appear weak.”

Castiel shrugged a shoulder against Dean’s wet chest and—to Dean’s relief—took ahold of Dean’s creeping hands and pulled them forward, settling them more firmly around Castiel’s ribs with a silent smile. “That’s probably true for some,” Castiel said once they were positioned. “But for a lot of us, it’s more to do with making sure that our subs feel safe with us. Certain subs would be uncomfortable around a Dom who was experiencing that kind of thing.”

Cheek-to-cheek in the gentle, scented steam, Dean gave Castiel a little squeeze before he pulled back just a fraction, turning to look at Castiel more fully. “Well, if you say you’re okay, then you’re okay. But I want you to know that it’s also okay if you’re not,” Dean said seriously. “You’re not gonna upset me. As far as I’m concerned it just kinda goes with the territory.”

Castiel studied Dean’s face for a moment before giving him a small smile. Settling more firmly back against Dean once more, Castiel closed his eyes and leaned his head back as he spoke. “That’s nice to hear. Really, it is. My issue wasn’t that though, not really. I just…got distracted, I guess, thinking about something else that—that was all.”

Dean gave a slow nod. Whatever it was, he couldn’t force Castiel to talk about it and he wouldn’t try. Instead, he tried to relax, and make sure that Castiel did the same. Shifting slightly in the tub, Dean reached for the soap up on the thin shelf next to him, and gently pushed for Castiel to move forward a fraction. “Sit up a little,” Dean murmured, gathering plenty of soap in his hands.

Eyelids fluttering open again, Castiel looked back at Dean as he sat forward, a tiny frown marring his forehead. “You don’t have to—”

“Cas,” Dean interrupted as gently as he could. “I want to, okay? If you don’t want me to, that’s okay. But the whole point of this is for it to be nice for us both.”

Slowly, Castiel’s eyes dropped to the water, his muscles tensing. Dean thought that he was about to say no or get out of the tub entirely, but after a couple of seconds he nodded silently, and with a soft slump, his shoulder blades pressed back into Dean’s hands.

“There we go,” Dean murmured approvingly as Castiel settled in, resting his arms on Dean’s knees. For a few minutes they were quiet as Dean worked the soap into Castiel’s skin, rubbing his thumbs in short circles, part-cleansing and part-massage. Slowly, Castiel’s head lolled forward, bending at the neck, and he let out a long, slow exhale.

“That does feel nice,” Castiel admitted quietly.

“Good,” Dean responded simply, moving up to focus on Castiel’s shoulders and the tops of his arms. Slippery and pliant, Castiel leaned back into his touch, and Dean fought valiantly to focus on making this feel good in the way he intended, rather than paying attention to the fact that Castiel was sitting between Dean’s legs, his bare ass inches from Dean’s soft cock in the water.

“I really enjoyed that scene with you,” Castiel said suddenly, though his voice stayed soft, his head still down, his eyes closed. “Thank you. For deciding to do that, and for putting so much thought into it.”

Anything, for you, was on the tip of Dean’s tongue. Instead, he managed, “You’re welcome. Honestly, it was great for me, so I’m happy you liked it.” Dean paused, wetting his lips and choosing his words carefully before he went on, his fingers pressing into Castiel’s biceps as he massaged the soap bubbles onwards. “However you frame what we’re doing when you take control…” Dean sucked in a deep breath. “It works on the basis that I care about you, a lot, okay? You’re my friend—hell, one of my best friends. I want whatever is going to make you happy, not just when we’re in a scene, but outside of it, too.”

As he stretched up to get more soap, Dean looked down at Castiel. His chin rested on his chest, his eyes still closed, and he parted his lips once, twice, as if he was trying to work out how best to respond. After a moment, his damp hands squeezing gently at Dean’s knees, he merely said, “Thank you, Dean.”

His chest swelling with warmth, Dean smiled. Cautiously, he reached around Castiel to guide him back against his chest once more, and then lifted one of Castiel’s arms from its prop on Dean’s knee, curling it in to Castiel’s chest so that he could soap on down it.

Castiel let out a tiny sigh, so soft that Dean almost missed it, and the sound was one of the best Dean had heard all day.

“Relaxing?” Dean asked quietly into Castiel’s temple, desperately wanting his lips to brush against Castiel’s skin, but doing everything he could to stop it.

Rolling his head against Dean’s shoulder, Castiel nodded. “Yes, very,” he admitted, before adding, slightly more apprehensively, “I haven’t done something like this with someone for a long time.”

Dean slowed his movement as he soaped down to Castiel’s wrist. “Is…is it weird?” he asked nervously. Is it too intimate? Is this too much? Am I—

“’S nice,” Castiel practically mumbled, smiling and letting his head loll back further against Dean’s shoulder until his face was turned toward the ceiling, his cheek against Dean’s. “It’s very nice,” he clarified, keeping his eyes closed, a little smile playing at the corner of his mouth, as if recalling or imagining.

Dean was happy for Castiel to keep his eyes closed, so that he wouldn’t see the soft flush across Dean’s cheeks and chest as he allowed himself to fall into it, allowed himself to imagine that this was something he could have.

“Good. Whatever we can do to keep us sane until this week is out, I’m on board,” Dean said, grinning like it was a joke, but his words solemn because they were true.

Castiel nodded slowly against Dean’s shoulder, before his head turned and his eyes opened, angling himself so that he could look up at Dean. “Are you scared?” he asked, blunt but soft.

Dean thought about it for a moment, pushing down the knee-jerk reaction to scoff and say, No, ‘course not, I’m Dean Winchester, I don’t get scared. He squeezed some more soap into his hands, rubbing it between them slowly and watching the bubbles cascade into the warm water. “No,” he said after a long moment. “I don’t think so. I am nervous about the interview; it’s an unknown. But I really do think we’ve got a good shot at this, y’know? And”—Dean turned his head, so he could meet Castiel’s curious blue eyes—“I also know that if they declined you staying, I wouldn’t give up. I’d help you appeal it, we’d fight it. Whatever we needed so that you can stay here, and be safe, and be happy. So no, I’m not scared, not really.”

Castiel’s eyes softened, and he blinked heavily for a moment before rolling his head back once more, so he was looking up at the old plasterboard ceiling that Dean had never gotten around to refinishing. Quiet settled around them for a minute once more before Castiel softly admitted, “I am.”

Soap forgotten, Dean couldn’t help but slip his arms back around Castiel’s waist, bowing his face down into his shoulder. He hugged him softly, not tight like he wanted to—rather too aware of the hopeful semi he was sporting just from having Castiel’s fantastic body between his legs, and not wanting to draw attention to it. He tried to ignore it, internally rolling his eyes at himself—as if he hadn’t had enough action today already.

“I just can’t help but worry,” Castiel started quietly, wrapping his arms over Dean’s. “I always get stuck in this spiral of thinking, what if something goes wrong and they come after you for this? It was uncomfortable before I knew you, but now…I’m not sure I could handle the guilt I’d feel if they arrested you, or fined you. Your life, your business—”

“Cas,” Dean interrupted gently, shaking his head. “That’s not gonna happen.”

“It could,” Castiel cautioned, sullen, his eyes closing again as Dean looked over at him. “But I’d do everything I could to make sure it didn’t, you know. I’d tell them it was all my fault, I’d tell them that I lied, that I tricked you, anything.”

Dean shook his head into the crook of Castiel’s neck. “We don’t have to worry about that,” he reiterated, squeezing Castiel just a little tighter. “It’s not going to happen.”

“Thank you,” Castiel said. When Dean looked up to clarify what for, Castiel was looking at him again, his vivid eyes just resting on Dean’s face, smiling quietly. “For this,” he added without prompting, lifting up a handful of the dwindling bubbles. “I may have needed it more than I thought.”

Dean couldn’t help but smirk back, slowly releasing Castiel’s waist. “So, does that mean you’re going to let me wash the rest of you without complaining?” he questioned, grinning as he reached over to the soap once again.

Chuckling as he nodded, Castiel responded, “It was pretty nice, so I won’t complain. And when you’re done, then you can let me take care of you, too. I still have some lotion for where you were restrained—you don’t want welts for everyone to stare at, or sore skin.”

Smirking down at Castiel, Dean couldn’t help but grin. “Yes, Sir,” he said, giving a tiny eye roll.

“Don’t be a brat,” Castiel said, raising one hand to tap two fingers to Dean’s cheek softly in a mockery of reprimand.

“Not even a little bit?” Dean pouted, fluttering his eyelashes deliberately.

Castiel flicked water in Dean’s face, earning a yelp and a throaty giggle from Dean. Dodging a second splash, Dean wrapped his arms firmly around Castiel again, unable to help but press his lips chastely to the back of his neck.

“I’m glad you’re feeling better,” Dean mumbled into his wet skin, smiling.

It took Castiel a minute to respond, stealing the soap from Dean and turning in the tub, tangling their legs so that he could reach them both, taking over. “Every time I think I’ve got you worked out,” Castiel confessed as he lathered up Dean’s arms, “you confuse me again.”

Dean grinned, puffing a stray floating soap bubble toward Castiel’s face. “If you work me out, let me know,” he said, without an ounce of sarcasm.

Castiel huffed a short laugh and nodded, gesturing for Dean to shuffle closer. “Come on. Let’s get cleaned up before the water gets cold. Then food, and maybe a movie?”

“A western?” Dean said hopefully.

“Don’t push your luck,” Castiel threw back—in a tone that said he’d already picked one out.

 

x

 

Returning to the U.S.C.I.S. building in Wichita was, luckily, much easier the second time. Traffic was good, and Dean and Castiel chatted the whole way there—nervously quizzing each other on obscure facts about their families, going back over their story for how they’d met, how they’d come to be together. They talked about their wedding—which became half preparation and half reminiscing, as Dean recalled their evening dancing, laughing, and devouring a truly excellent buffet. Those memories were precious and meant far more than Dean would say, even if their marriage was fake. They stopped off part-way to grab coffee and put gas in Baby, and still ended up cruising into the same parking lot that they’d used last time, twenty minutes early.

“Do you want to wait in the car for a few minutes?” Castiel asked. “Or shall we just get it over and done with?”

“No point in putting it off, I suppose,” Dean said, flexing his fingers on the leather of the Impala’s steering wheel, but not quite letting go.

Castiel didn’t move either, shoving his hands in the pockets of his trench coat but staying firmly on the bench seat.

“After these next few days are over,” Dean observed quietly, “we should really just take a break from life for a few days.”

“A few weeks,” Castiel corrected dryly. “At least. We never even got to do anything for your birthday, we’ve been so tied up with everything.”

Tapping the wheel, Dean shrugged. “Told you I didn’t want to do anything, and I meant it. Really. Not a big deal, I’ve never been a big birthday person.”

Castiel gave the kind of evasive hum that indicated he wasn’t done with the topic, but he let it go, responding with, “Alright. Well, as busy as it’ll be, everything is set up for the next few days, right?”

Dean nodded, finally reaching for his door handle, prompting Castiel to do the same as Dean spoke. “Yeah. Interview now, then we drive home and celebrate—or commiserate—getting through it. Sam’s gonna call in the morning, talk us through the final pieces. Then you have your meeting with Tessa and the suits, right?”

Castiel nodded. “Yes. All my line edits are done, so she’ll either accept it or send it back for another round, if I haven’t done well enough. She’s never sent my final back yet, but there’s always a first time. Still nerve-wracking having to sit through that Skype call.”

Tessa, Castiel’s New York-based editor, was a little more dramatic than necessary, as far as Dean could tell—she preferred to ‘look him in the eye’ when she gave him news, and Dean had never figured out if she liked to see Castiel squirm or if she just thought he was easy on the eyes. Not that Dean could blame her. “So,” Dean said, “that’s it though, right? If she accepts these final edits, you’re done?”

Castiel nodded, tugging his coat tighter around himself as they headed up the icy hill toward the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building. “ Da. Then the book is sent off for copyediting, and I get my payment upon acceptance check.”

Ducking his head against the cold wind, Dean grinned over at Castiel. “Well, that sounds to me like the drinks are on you when Charlie gets here for the weekend, Dmitri.” 

Castiel gave a soft snort. “Sure. Though people’s estimates of how much workaday authors make are hugely overblown, as you well know.” They’d reached the building, and Castiel slowed and drew to a halt in front of it.

Dean couldn’t help but bump his shoulder into Castiel’s. He was, in actual fact, well aware of how much money Castiel had, both in savings and what he got per book, as it had all been laid out in their immigration application papers. But Castiel was remarkably modest about what Dean considered to be his rather comfortable bank account. “Luckily the bakery does okay,” Dean said with a wink. “So, at least you know I didn’t marry you for your royalties.”

Smiling fondly, Castiel reached out to hold Dean’s hand, squeezing at his fingers as they stood at the door. “Ready for this?” he asked, sounding like he was perched on the precipice between calm and terrified.

“Let’s kick it in the ass.” Dean said, far more confidently than he felt, before pushing forward and dragging Castiel through the heavy door after him.

The wait was even longer than when they came for their biometrics appointment. Those appointments, Dean reasoned, were fairly straightforward—they recorded applicants’ height, weight, eye color, etc. and then took a full set of fingerprints, retina scans and photographs—but then that was it. These interviews, Sam had warned, could be fairly quick—or they could be here for hours. There was no way to tell. Finally, after an increasingly tense hour, Castiel’s number flashed up on the blue screen in the waiting room.

A skinny, weaselly little man met them at the door. “Mr. Winchester and Mr. Novak?”

They nodded, and he led them through…to another waiting room.

Sensing Castiel’s shoulders sag next to him as they sat back down, Dean reached over to grab his hand, threading their fingers back together, and pulled Castiel’s hand over onto his thigh. “We got this,” he reminded Castiel, sounding as reassuring as he could.

Castiel nodded quietly, fixing his gaze onto the blank wall ahead. They waited in the plastic chairs for another five minutes before Dean looked over, noticing Castiel chewing on his bottom lip.

“Hey,” Dean chastised gently, reaching out his spare hand to very softly thumb at Castiel’s lip, pulling it away from his teeth. “Stop that.”

Their eyes caught, as they were wont to do, and they were still staring when a warm, loud voice called for them from the doorway to the next corridor. “Dean and…Castiel?” the lady tried, not wholly unsuccessfully, as they rose and made their way over.

“Yes,” Castiel said, nodding as they approached a politely smiling black woman of average height, in a sensible suit and heels. “That’s us.”

“Well, welcome,” she said. “My name is Missouri Moseley—Missouri is fine. I’ll be interviewing you today. My office is this way,” she said, stepping to the side and holding the door.

The office was small. Maybe they were going for cozy, or reassuring, Dean considered, but really what they’d landed on was cluttered and slightly claustrophobic. The flimsy looking desk and packed credenza spoke of stingy government funding, and the generic, cheerful art on the walls definitely looked as if it came from Hobby Lobby on Missouri's own salary, Dean decided. Despite the thick files, legal pads, loose paper piles, and the entire array of novelty paperweights that filled the space, there wasn’t a single identifying item—not a photograph, or graduation certificate or cap, no world’s best aunt mug, or postcards from vacation. That made a sad kind of sense, Dean realized—it wouldn’t be wise, wouldn’t be safe, for these interviewers to let the applicants know anything of who they were. Nothing that could be used against them, nothing that they could be identified by…in case they had to give an answer nobody wanted to hear.

Swallowing harshly, Dean lowered himself into the offered seat in front of the desk. Castiel did similarly, before Dean decided that Castiel was just a little too far away for his nerves to take. So he shuffled his chair awkwardly a couple of inches to the left, scraping it noisily across the floor. Missouri watched, calm, smiling in a detached, patient way. Waiting to begin.

Once they were settled, she opened a paper folder on her desk, labeled with both of their names.

Castiel grabbed Dean’s hand, and Dean was grateful, clinging to it greedily.

“Now, let’s get started here, boys,” she said, “if we’re all done gettin’ settled.” Her voice was warm, a little higher pitched than her face would suggest, but direct and to-the-point.

Dean had the good grace to look sheepish. “Yes, ma’am.”

“I’m just going to verify the critical information in your file,” she began, picking up a pen. She left the top on it, moving it along under the words. “Full names?”

“Dean Michael Winchester.”

“Castiel Dmitri Novak.”

She hummed. “Unusual for Russians to have middle names like that, isn’t it? Don’t you folks have that patronymic thing goin’ on usually?”

Castiel looked a little impressed, Dean thought. “Yes, actually,” he said. “But my father is a naturalized Russian, not born. And my mother had to let him have something his way.”

Missouri chuckled, though it was brief. They quickly confirmed their dates of birth, address, Dean’s Social Security number, all the basic data that had been on each and every form they painstakingly filled out. Seemingly satisfied, she placed the pen down on top of the pile of forms and latched her fingers together like a church steeple from a nursery rhyme, placing her forefingers on her chin as she leaned over the desk.

“Now, let’s chat a bit,” she said, the most casual loaded phrase Dean had ever heard. “I notice you filled out your forms as both Winchester and Novak—you didn’t change your names after you married?”

Castiel shook his head. “No, ma’am. It didn’t make sense for us—Dean is a business owner and I’m a published author, though I use several names. Either of us changing our surname would have been a lot of hassle.”

“And you didn’t think that hassle was worth it, to be married?” she questioned.

Dean couldn’t help but frown a little. “Changing your name isn’t what makes you married,” he said, a little more firmly than intended. “It’s not about paperwork.”

With a tiny smirk, Missouri nodded. “Glad to hear it. So, tell me how you met?”

Catching Dean’s eye in a way that said I’ll take this one, Castiel squeezed their joined fingers as he leaned forward a little. “I came to America for research for a novel,” he lied smoothly, their story well practiced, “and for some meetings with my agent who’s based here—you can see she’s one of my character references on file—and I decided to take the time out to visit my half-brother at work. That’s when I walked into Dean’s bakery.”

“That’s the business that you co-own?” Missouri interrupted, her eyes flicking down to her papers as she pointed at Dean. “Trick or Sweet.”

Dean nodded as he replied, “Sure is, for quite a few years now. I bake everything myself, and do more than my fair share of the business side of things, too.”

With a slightly wicked grin that Dean hadn’t expected, Missouri leaned her forearms on the desk, shifting further forward as she returned to Castiel. “So, which did you like better initially—the baking or the baker?”

That startled a laugh out of them both, and Castiel grinned across at Dean, looking over at him as he responded. “The baker held almost all of my attention, instantly. Though I had just enough left to appreciate his spectacular apple pie. You gave me some that first day, remember?”

Dean grinned right back, nodding. “Of course I did. I don’t do things half-heartedly, you know—I had to bring out the big guns from the beginning.”

The corner of Missouri’s lip curled into a smile. The top of her pen popped off and she nodded as she made a note. “So, who cooks at home, if Dean bakes all day?” she asked conversationally.

“That would also be Dean,” Castiel admitted with a tiny grimace. “I try, on occasion, just to be good to him and do something nice…but generally, it’s better if I don’t.”

Dean shoulder checked Cas across the arms of their chairs where they touched. “Don’t be so hard on yourself, luchik, ” he teased gently, the little Russian endearment falling from his lips with ease. “You order a mean pizza.”

Missouri turned her attention to Dean then, smiling curiously. “You speak Russian?” she asked.

Dean shook his head, holding up a hand. “No, not really. I’m learning. Slowly, and badly.”

“He’s better than he thinks he is.” Castiel smiled softly.

After making another note, Missouri snapped the top back onto her pen. “So, Dean,” she said, looking over to him. “If Castiel got to taste your apple pie to grab his interest, then what drew you to Castiel?”

Dean found himself flushing slightly, but whatever, here they were, he had to sell it. “I mean,” he offered, shrugging awkwardly before jerking his thumb toward Castiel, “you can see him, right?”

Missouri laughed. “You’re a pretty couple to look at, for sure. But pretty ain’t married.”

“Yeah, well,” Dean began more quietly, “it turned out he was even prettier on the inside. Within a minute of meeting, he made me laugh,” he recalled truthfully, looking over at Castiel with a fond smile. “And then we got to talking, and we just fit.”

“You know, a lot of people,” Missouri mused, “don’t think the ‘love at first sight’ schtick has much merit, you know.”

Dean’s throat clicked as he swallowed, but even so, he managed to look up, his gaze resting unerringly on Castiel as he said, “I think it depends entirely on what you’re looking at.”

The dim, yellowy lamp on the rickety desk seemed to highlight the tiny flush that rose up back behind Castiel’s ears. Idly, Dean wondered if it colored the front of his chest, too, and found himself smiling.

“Cute,” Missouri noted, slightly dryly. “So, what do the two of you have in common?”

Clearing his throat, Castiel took his turn. “We’re both homebodies, we like to watch movies together and read books. We’re similar in a lot of ways, I guess, but also different—like puzzle pieces, I suppose. We fill-in each other’s gaps.”

And we both like to beat my ass red when we get the chance, Dean thought, straightfaced. Even though he didn’t look at Castiel, he felt his fingers receive a sharp squeeze, as if Castiel just knew what he was thinking. Dean smiled.

“Who proposed?” Missouri asked, moving right along.

“Dean did,” Castiel spoke up, the only other lie they needed to tell coming out easily from their practice. “He put his father’s old wedding ring on top of a cupcake and proposed to me quietly at home.”

“What made you say yes?”

“I loved him,” Castiel said simply, his eyes turning to Dean and sticking there. “That was really all that mattered. We worked out the logistics after.”

“Did you have a big wedding?” Missouri asked next, her pen squeaking away once more.

Tearing his eyes slowly from Castiel, Dean nodded, smiling politely back to the woman behind the desk. “Moderately big, I guess. We rented a hotel downtown, had a really nice party with all of our friends and as many family members as could attend.” Grinning widely, Dean couldn’t help but add, “It was a great night. Cas got pretty drunk, but I forgave him because of how hot he looked in his tux.”

“Dean!” Castiel grumbled, looking embarrassed, and knocked his knee into Dean’s thigh. “She definitely does not need to know that.”

With a deep laugh, Missouri waved the hand that held her pen, flapping the words away dismissively. “As long as I don’t get a breakdown of the wedding night, you can say anything you want, it’s just fine.”

Dean threw a slightly smug smile over at Castiel.

“Do you plan on having children?” Missouri asked suddenly, looking across at Dean again.

“Uh, I”—Momentarily panicked, Dean forced out whatever words came to mind—“I’d love that, one day. I mean, it’s kinda harder for us as guys than for a lot of couples, but…well, I’ve got a seventeen-month-old niece, Mary, and I could watch Cas with her all day. He’s amazing with kids, and the way he looks after others…I know he’ll make a really awesome dad someday.”

Missouri didn’t respond, her eyes flicking over to Castiel instead.

“We’ve talked about it,” Castiel lied, though Dean noticed that the flush behind his ears was back. “And yes, definitely, someday. I just want to have Dean all to myself for a little while first.”

Scratch, scratch , Missouri’s pen crawled across her legal pad, leaving spidery ink that Dean couldn’t make words from. Once she seemed satisfied with what she’d written, she leaned back in her chair, crossing her fingers over her chest as she eyed them levelly. “Tell me what would happen if this process was unsuccessful.”

Dean’s mouth went dry, and he opened his mouth to respond, but Castiel beat him to it.

“We’d try again, appeal the decision,” Castiel said, firm and sure. “Or if we had to, we’d relocate somewhere else. Leaving Dean isn’t an option, not for me. Now that I’ve found him, even if things are hard, or not how I’d wish them to be…this is it, for me. I’m not"—Castiel’s voice wavered oddly, but he continued—“I’m not a whole person, without Dean. I didn’t realize that until I met him, but now I know it, there’s no changing it. So, I’d take him however—wherever—I could have him.”

Missouri smiled, nodding slowly. “I thought so,” she said, sitting back up. Without making another note, she slid the yellow legal pad she’d been working on into the front of her file. “Well, that will be all for today, gentlemen.”

Stunned, Dean couldn’t help his mouth falling open a little as he blinked. They’d only been in her office around twenty minutes, at his guess. “You don’t—there’s nothing else you need today? You don’t want to cross-examine us some more, or anything? We were really worried…” he trailed off, his eyes wide as they rested on Missouri.

She stood up from her desk, chuckling warmly. “No need to push it, kid. I could do that if I really wanted to. There are certainly reasons to, given your file, and I was all prepared to split you up and make this hard when I first saw your application. But I’ve seen everything I need to, right here.”

Moving to her office door, Missouri held it open. As Dean and Castiel stumbled to their feet, she reached out, offering her hand to Castiel with a warm smile. “Obviously, there are loose ends to tie up and nothing is official until that permanent residence card is in your hands,” she said.

Castiel nodded, a little too fast, looking dazed, his hand still clamped to Dean’s like a lifeline.

“But,” Missouri continued, a twinkle in her eye, “let me be the first to say: Welcome to America.”

 

x

 

Dean shuffled a sad-looking package of cheese out of the fridge and over to the trash can. It looked like they’d have to call out for food if they decided to eat. Shrugging, he grabbed the neck of the bottle of champagne that he’d stashed in the refrigerator the night before and slid it off the shelf. Dean was very much a simple liquor and beer kinda guy, not really into the frou-frou, winey, bubbly stuff—but some things were just tradition, and why not change things up a little? He put it down, not trusting his slightly tipsy self not to drop it, so that he could grab some glasses. Rummaging around in the cabinet for some, he realized that he didn’t even own wine glasses, let alone champagne glasses, so novelty coffee mugs would have to do. Holding two mugs in one hand—one chipped Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mug and one that Dean had found for Castiel that said No Coffee No Talky— Dean grabbed the bottle in his other hand and headed for the living room, where he could hear voices.

Castiel was cross-legged on the couch, his laptop open in front of him. The rapid-fire Russian that was falling from his lips was far out of Dean’s league, but the smile and excited hand gestures that accompanied it made Dean smile, nonetheless. On the laptop screen, a slim redhead and a rather skinny, freckled man with none of Castiel’s warm, tanned appearance grinned right back at Castiel. Dean plopped himself down on the couch, reaching forward to place the champagne bottle down on the edge of the coffee table next to Castiel’s laptop. Once he’d put the mugs down beside it, he wiggled around, pulling a stray pillow from under his butt, before leaning to the side, grinning obnoxiously at the edge of Castiel’s Skype call.

Zdravstvuj, Anna, Alfie,” Dean said, nodding to them both. “ Kak dyela?

Castiel’s twin siblings grinned across at Dean as he greeted them in turn. “ Privyet , Dean!” Alfie returned, looking pleased. “Your Russian gets a lot better, very nice!”

Anna agreed with a nod. “We are okay, thank you, Dean. Very happy to hear Castiel’s news, today.”

“I’ll bet. We’re certainly pretty happy about it,” Dean said, nudging Castiel with his shoulder as he reached over to pull the empty shot glass that Castiel held out of his grip. He released it with a smile, watching from the corner of his eye as Dean dragged a half-empty bottle of vodka across from the other side of the table to fill it back up again.

Castiel switched back to Russian, rumbling out a few more happy-sounding lines to his brother and sister before giving them a little wave. Anna and Alfie were both pleasant, Dean had decided over the previous months, but a damn sight harder to understand than Cas was—neither of them worked using English, as Castiel did, Anna being a dancer and Alfie a struggling artist who worked in a fast food joint. Grotesquely talented lot, the Novaks, in Dean’s opinion.

Anna said something vaguely suggestive in Dean’s direction before they disconnected, causing Castiel to burst with a rumble of deep laughter. Dean raised his eyebrow at Castiel once he straightened up from closing the laptop.

“What was that about?”

“What was what?” Castiel asked, throwing back the offered vodka from Dean before he reached for the champagne bottle.

“Anna’s eyebrow waggling, and your amusement there, chuckles.”

Castiel grinned darkly. “Oh, she was saying that if she wants to dance in America in the future, did I mind divorcing you so she can marry you instead.”

Dean snorted. “Hell no. Doing this once was enough, thank you.”

“My response was similar, if a little more emphatic,” Castiel agreed, peeling the foil from around the cork of the champagne. “Can’t blame her for trying, though.”

Holding his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mug out expectantly, Dean waved dismissively with his other hand. “I’m sure there are plenty of Americans willing to marry a hot dancer like Anna. Whole websites full.”

“True, but how many of them look like you?” With a wicked grin and a celebratory whoop , Castiel sent the champagne cork shooting out toward the ceiling. Turning back to Dean, he tried to catch as much of the foam in the coffee mug as he could—but it wasn’t happening. Luckily, Dean was just tipsy enough to lean over and wrap his lips around the frothing bottle neck to save the couch.

“Oh, come on,” Castiel rasped down at Dean, watching his wet lips pop off the bottle top. He bit his lip, shaking his head before he added, “I’m already half-drunk, have a little mercy on me, it’s been a long day.”

“Not my fault you’re a perv,” Dean said haughtily, wiping his mouth and holding the mugs steady as Castiel poured. “I was just trying to maintain my upholstery.”

“You keep things clean by employing your tongue very often?” Castiel grumbled, sounding defeated.

“Depends what I’m cleaning,” Dean said, exaggerating his eyebrow waggle just because he could.

Castiel rolled his eyes, and Dean watched the motion carry right down his spine. Dean wasn’t sure if it was just him, or if it was a Castiel thing in general, but the dude made exasperation a full-body affair. Raising his No Coffee No Talky mug, Castiel cleared his throat. “A toast of some kind?” he said.

“Oh, you go ahead,” Dean said. “They always sound better from you, all Russian and rumbly.”

With a small snort, Castiel shook his head again, before straightening and moving his chipped mug toward Dean’s with a satisfying chink . “ Za našu družby !” he announced.

“Aww, that’s all?” Dean teased. “No paragraph of drinking wishes, this time?”

“That,” Castiel said tartly, “was a nice toast to our friendship. But if you want, I can go with Chtoby stoly lomalis' ot izobiliya, a krovati ot lyubvi, instead.”

“Oh, much more impressive!” Dean giggled, before pushing the sound down in embarrassment. He may have had a few glasses of bourbon since they’d got back from Wichita, but he wasn’t a giggler. “So very Russian, you practically growled in the middle there. What’s it mean?”

“It’s a wish that our table should break from abundance, and our bed should break from love,” Castiel said, straight-faced.

“Oh, sure, I’m the tease,” Dean said.

“It’s not a tease,” Castiel pointed out, grinning and drawing his champagne up to his lips. “I follow through.”

Dean almost choked, between the dry bubbles in his throat, Castiel’s flippant response, and the fucking eyebrow that accompanied it. Dean didn’t know why Castiel even bothered putting in effort with toys and instructions when he wanted to dominate Dean; apparently just a damn eyebrow raising could do that by itself. He was certainly glad for the effort though…Castiel had the whole package going, and Dean wasn’t complaining. It had been far too long a day for all of that, though, Castiel had been right about that.

Warm and happy and alcohol-softened around the edges, Dean leaned over so he could throw his arm around Castiel’s shoulders, raising his coffee mug again. “Well,” he said, “in plain English: I’m real glad you’re here, Dmitri.”

Castiel glared at the nickname, but it was as fond as could be. He lolled against Dean, raising his own mug in turn and smiling. “I’ll drink to that.”

As Dean clinked their cups together, his mouth kept moving, the alcohol he’d had before Anna and Alfie called on its way to catching him up. “I mean it, Cas. This hasn’t been as awful as it could have been.”

His eyes shining with amusement, Castiel rolled his head up toward Dean, shoving playfully at Dean’s ribs as he leaned into his side. “Oh, thank you, so very much,” he rasped. “I’m so relieved that the past half year hasn’t been as tortuous as you anticipated.”

Grinning down at Castiel, their eyes locked magnetically, Dean softened. “It hasn’t been. It’s been…pretty fantastic, actually.”

Castiel’s smile, Dean noted, was always a little lopsided when he’d had a few drinks. “I have to say that getting to know you has been a singularly exultant experience, also,” he responded, low and serious.

Dean couldn’t help but laugh, though it was only a chuckle in a half-breath. “You use way too many fancy words when you drink,” he pointed out.

“Sorry,” Castiel said, his smile undulled.

There didn’t seem to be a clear winner when it came to ‘who kissed who first’, but they were both winners in the kiss itself. Something in the back of Dean’s head, some tiny voice, kept insisting that he should pay attention and think about what he was doing…but it drowned away to silence under the onslaught of Castiel’s warm, soft mouth. The angle was odd, Castiel looking up at Dean as he leaned on him, his head on Dean’s shoulder. So, Dean slipped his hand down to Castiel’s neck, trailing his thumb along the underside of Castiel’s jawbone as they kissed slowly, before encouraging Castiel’s head up so that he could line them up better and deepen the kiss.

There was a soft thump as both of their champagne coffee mugs, dregs and all, dropped and bounced away, luckily hitting the cushions before the floor. So much for the upholstery.

Castiel’s shiny blue eyes had fluttered shut as the kiss began, but they popped open again for a moment on a breath, neither of them pulling away, just noisily sucking in air, gazing wide-eyed at each other.

Dean didn’t want to think before diving back in. Castiel was the one in charge of them, in charge of this, he reasoned—if they should stop this, then Castiel would be the one to do it. Melting back against Castiel’s lips once more, Dean flicked his tongue against the seal of Castiel’s mouth, trailing the tip of it across the plump swell of his pillowy lower lip. Castiel opened for him with a shuddering gasp, and then suddenly Dean was falling, slow and controlled, forward onto the couch with Castiel below him. They turned as one, rearranging themselves to sprawl on the pillows without their lips ever parting. Pressed into Castiel’s chest by his own weight, Dean heard a little sigh escape from his own lips as Castiel’s hands came up to his back. One rested on his shoulder blade and the other sat heavy and firm where it should simply always be, on the small of Dean’s back, the pads of Castiel’s fingers hot through the fabric of Dean’s old Singer Salvage t-shirt.

Beneath Dean, Castiel gave the softest of moans, and Dean was gone; no sense left beyond the one that kept him kissing Castiel, again and again and again.

When Dean had woken up that morning, tense and nervous and jittery for their interview, he hadn’t pictured ending the day making out with Castiel on the couch. But he couldn’t think badly of it; it was almost everything he’d wanted, almost everything he’d been craving for months…almost. Who even knew what this was to Castiel, where he’d take it from here; Dean was too weak to question it. He was greedy, and he just wanted Cas, he knew, however Castiel would give himself.

You’re a damn idiot, Dean thought hazily, but the hot breath, exploring hands, and firm chest below him chased away the thought, dissolving it into More, more, please kiss me more.

Their bodies lined up on the couch, and Dean felt Castiel’s knee bend up, the thigh of his thin sweatpants brushing against Dean’s jeans as Castiel hooked one foot behind Dean’s leg, as if he wanted to pull him impossibly closer. With one hand caressing Castiel’s neck, supporting himself with his forearm, Dean let his other hand slide down to brush across Castiel’s ribs, feeling each one through his worn, blue Namaste t-shirt. Dean loved this shirt; it was a light, sky blue that pulled out the brightest shades in Castiel’s eyes, and it was thin enough that it clung to Castiel’s nipples when he stretched…a fact Dean was eager to explore, his fingers trailing up across the fabric. Castiel’s mouth left Dean’s only to gasp as Dean rubbed the pad of his thumb slowly over the peaked nub beneath the t-shirt.

They looked at each other for a long moment, Dean’s hand frozen, their soft pants synchronizing.

Wordlessly, Dean drew back. Castiel’s eyes widened as he rose, and Dean could see panic pulling at his edges—so he quickly stood and held out his hand, offering Castiel help up off the couch, biting his lip nervously. Castiel accepted the hand, peeling his back off the seat it’d been pressed into and swinging his legs to the side to stand. As soon as he straightened, his eyes were straight back on Dean as they silently stood, far too close for any normal comfort, only inches apart. Castiel’s eyes moved across Dean’s face, searching hard—though Dean didn’t know what for, and could only wait.

Slowly, Castiel nodded.

All at once, permission granted, that was it; Dean reached down to grab Castiel’s hand, tangling their fingers and leading him out of the living room.

They only made it to the bottom of the stairs before their lips took over again. They were chest to chest, the air around them buzzing. Castiel’s hands pushed Dean’s wrists back into the wall and slowly raised them above his head as their mouths clashed, Dean’s body rolling within Castiel’s hold, his hips bucking from the wall. Dean felt hot from sheer need. They both groaned as they reluctantly pulled apart again, making it to the top of the stairs in a messy rush.

They didn’t talk about where they were going, Castiel’s bedroom door flying open and hitting the wall without any discussion at all. Castiel’s mouth was on Dean’s neck, working a ferocious stubble-burn into his skin, and it wasn’t until they sidestepped toward the bed that they came fully apart.

This…this could be a really terrible idea if— Dean began to think, but his brain simply switched off as Castiel sat down on the bed, pulling his bare feet up onto the mattress and scooting back toward the pillows. He lifted one arm, reaching for Dean’s hand.

“Dean…” he said, entirely breathless and wanting, and Dean’s last thread of good sense went out the window.

Unbuttoning his jeans, Dean dropped them at the side of the bed before crawling up it to insert himself between Castiel’s bent knees, immediately seeking his lips again.

One hand on each side of Dean’s neck, Castiel led them straight down to the pillows, his fingers slipping into Dean’s hair behind his ears. Castiel pulled gently at Dean’s bottom lip with his teeth and a shiver ran down Dean’s spine at the sensation.

“Fuck, Cas…” he breathed out, the words quiet between them.

Eyes open, taking in every one of Dean’s reactions, Castiel slipped his hands down to Dean’s sides, hot fingers curling under the hem of Dean’s t-shirt above his pelvis. Not needing any more of an invitation than that, Dean pushed back up onto his knees, reaching behind his neck and grabbing a handful of his t-shirt so that he could rip it off in one smooth pull, tossing it to the side of the bed. Castiel seemed entirely on board, his knees bracketing Dean’s hips as he sat up and tugged his t-shirt off to join Dean’s on the floor.

Dean looked down, hungrily taking in the beautiful, smooth planes of Castiel’s chest, and prayed to whatever God would listen, thanking them for the clingy, thin yoga pants that hid nothing of the thick, needy erection Castiel was sporting. With one hand, Dean pushed gently against Castiel’s chest, moving him to lay back down on the bed. He followed Castiel down but didn’t immediately go back to kissing—instead, he took the chance to wrap his lips around Castiel’s right nipple, sucking up the flesh and the little freckle that sat to its northwest. Castiel gasped aloud as Dean rolled the nub in his mouth, feeling the skin pebble up under his lips. He pulled back, letting his warm breath dance over Castiel’s chest as he licked where he’d sucked, taking the time to enjoy the freedom to explore.

Castiel didn’t voice any complaints, panting gently as he lay prone on the mattress, rolling his head back into the pillows with a low groan as his body stiffened under Dean’s mouth. Letting his lips drag against Castiel’s skin, tasting his abs and swirling his tongue lazily around one devastating hipbone, Dean moved on downward. When he reached the hem of Castiel’s obscenely straining yoga pants, Dean paused, looking up at Castiel from beneath his eyelashes in silent question.

Ty krasivyy,” Castiel murmured between breaths, gazing down at Dean with big, round eyes, nodding his approval.

Dean would have said something back, would have assumed that Castiel intended to flatter him by calling him beautiful in a moment like that, but there was something so genuine and natural about the way the Russian words fell from his lips that Dean had to pause for a moment, flushing as his eyes dropped. Castiel lifted his hips, pushing his own pants out of the way, before reaching down to pull Dean back up the bed. Dean stopped part way, taking a moment to discard his own boxers before moving into Castiel’s side. When they fell back into kissing, stretched out next to each other on top of the covers, it was even more electric than before; every touch of flesh met with more warm flesh in return, nothing dulling the heat of their bodies beneath their hands.

Castiel’s slight stubble brushed up against Dean’s, catching and grating between them just enough to make Dean shudder. Castiel tasted of champagne and smelled of warmth and musky cinnamon and vanilla, somehow both sweet and masculine at the same time. Dean wanted to crawl in deeper, loose himself in this, so that he could commit every moment to memory... but Castiel was pulling back. Dean let out an embarrassing, panting whine. Castiel returned immediately with lube and more kisses, and that was all Dean needed to sink back in, coherent thoughts gone.

They barely spoke as Castiel worked Dean open, taking his time purely for the pleasure of it, it seemed, rather than for preparation in any specific sense. They were molten, just breathing and kissing…lips, necks, shoulders, any part they could reach, soft and languid and gentle in a way that nothing between them had ever been before. Dean floated blissfully; not in subspace, but somewhere else, somewhere where Castiel could join him, and they were lost together. Castiel was slightly above Dean on the bed, two fingers buried inside of him, trailing his fingers across Dean’s prostate like he was merely exploring, and didn’t care what the final destination of his journey was.

But Dean was buzzing, tingling, heat growing and swelling out from where Castiel’s fingers began. So, with a soft groan, he pushed at Castiel’s shoulder. Castiel rolled back happily, his fingers sliding out of Dean as he went willingly back into the pillows, Dean above him. He looked up at Dean with his lower lip, plump and peachy, trapped between his teeth. Reaching down, he slowly stroked himself as Dean straddled his thighs, just looking at Dean, wordless, as he used the excess lube to coat himself from root to tip. Dean was entranced by Castiel’s hand moving, watching with his heart racing as Castiel’s grip firmed up, his loose hold getting tighter, a little more deliberateness to his movements as he bit down harder on his lip, his eyes never leaving Dean.

“Oh…” Dean let out softly, watching Castiel get more and more worked up, just for Dean. He lifted his eyes only so that he could lock them onto Castiel’s, the slick tones of Castiel’s hand shifting steadily around his cock the only sound.

Castiel groaned, his eyes widening further, the noise coming out past the lip still caught in his teeth.

Dean reached out, wrapping his hand around Castiel’s length along with him, entwining their fingers together, pumping in time with him. Castiel gave a long, happy sigh as Dean touched him, letting his head roll back on the pillow for a moment, his own hand slowly falling away as Dean took over. Dean jacked him off slowly, watching the glossy shine of Castiel’s cockhead as it peeked up from the tunnel of Dean’s hand, precum soaked and red.

“Oh, yes…” Castiel rumbled, breathy, as Dean shuffled forward, still working at Castiel’s cock.

Up on his knees, Dean lined himself up, giving Castiel one last long stroke before he sank down.

Castiel uttered a long, guttural sound, his hands coming up to Dean’s hips as his lips parted. Dean threw his head back for a moment, huffing out a sharp breath and rotating his hips as he adjusted to the girth of Castiel’s cock inside of him.

“God, you feel…” Dean mumbled, squeezing his eyes tight shut. “I’m so full,” he gasped, sounding a little delirious to his own ears, but not caring.

“So good,” Castiel rasped. “So good, Dean, you feel so good….”

Dean opened his eyes, letting out his held breath and looking back down to where Castiel lay, wrecked, among the sheets. Not good enough, he decided. Too far away. Working his thighs, Dean slowly eased up and down a few times, punching sharp breaths out of them both each time the back of his thighs slapped against Castiel’s hip bones. Once he had a pleasing rhythm going, the friction building through his core, Dean reached down, grasping at Castiel’s hands and then sliding his hands on up Castiel’s arms, inviting him closer.

Pushing up off the mattress, Castiel bent his knees slightly for balance and spread his feet, sitting up and wrapping Dean in his arms. That was much better, Dean decided; he could kiss Castiel’s face as he bounced in his lap, he could feel the air puffing from between Castiel’s lips with every thrust as he tried to hold himself together, he could hear the quiet moans that were a low-level constant from Castiel’s lips.

“Fuck,” Dean hissed out quietly, unravelling faster than he’d anticipated, his stomach muscles quivering and his thighs burning. “Cas…” he gasped out, the name sounding momentous in that place and position.

“Dean…” Castiel returned, no hesitation. Sweat built between their chests as they pressed together; it trickled into the hot, tight space between them, but neither of them seemed to care—the closeness only made everything better.

Feeling the heat in his stomach sink lower, Dean sucked in a breath and slowed his movements, reaching down to his own cock to grasp tight at the base. Castiel’s lips paused where they were sucking memories into Dean’s salty throat. “I’m close,” Dean gasped out. “But—not yet.”

In the crook of Dean’s neck, Castiel nodded, only pulling back as Dean pushed up further on his knees, sliding almost torturously slowly off of Castiel’s cock. In response Castiel could only bite down on his lip, groaning, his hands remaining on Dean’s hips as he rolled to the side and lay down.

Castiel didn’t need any encouragement to come back to Dean, settling between his legs for a long, breathy kiss, giving him a minute. When Dean was a little calmer, his heartbeat still fast but no longer pounding in his ears, Castiel withdrew to grab one of the pillows and placed it under Dean’s tailbone. He kissed his way around Dean’s face, caging him into the mattress with his arms as he slid his cock slowly up and down Dean’s ass, the tip just catching on his tingling, gaping hole. Even though Dean still felt fine, Castiel grabbed the bottle of lube from where it had rolled against his shin, generously coating his cock again before he tossed it off the bed and sank back into Dean in one long, smooth motion.

“Oh, yes—” Dean choked out, pressing his head back into the pillows as Castiel grappled with his legs, hoisting Dean up just a fraction on the pillow and bending his knees. Castiel’s fingers dug into his thighs, pushing them against the sides of Dean’s body, but he didn’t fuck into Dean fast—no, he took it slow, sinking in deep, over and over again, until Dean was quivering and whining below him.

“Fuck! Cas, yes!”

Castiel’s head curled forward, pushing all his weight behind his cock as he drove it between Dean’s cheeks. Their skin slapped noisily from all the sweat and lube and fervor, and each push deep into Dean was heralded by a soft grunt from Castiel that sounded almost as good as Dean’s own name did on his lips.

“Come on, that’s it,” Dean encouraged, reaching down to take his own stiff, throbbing cock in hand. “That’s it, Cas—yeah, that’s it…”

Castiel’s eyes came up to meet Dean’s, and they held there as Dean sped up his movements, groaning and biting at the inside of his cheek as his orgasm raced toward him. “Dean…” Castiel breathed out, as if he could see how close Dean was just from looking, urging him along with gasps of “Yes, don’t stop…”

Shuddering, Dean spilled across his hand and stomach. He panted Castiel’s name out into the side of Castiel’s face, practically bent in two as Castiel pushed down into him. Dean let go of his cock, quickly growing sensitive, and shifted his arm so that he could wipe his come-covered, sticky fingers on the comforter—but before he could do it, Castiel shifted, catching Dean’s wrist. He bent forward, sucking Dean’s messy fingers into his mouth as his thrusts sped up, gathering up the dripping come with his tongue…and holy fuck, if Dean could have come again, he would have. Instead, Castiel did, his hips stuttering forward as he grunted loudly, pushing Dean’s name out between his teeth as warmth filled Dean’s ass and seeped out around Castiel’s final, lazy thrusts.

Dean raised his arms to wrap them around Castiel as he slumped forward on top of Dean, releasing his thighs. Their bodies tangled together, sticky and spent, and for a moment they just breathed. After a few minutes, Dean flapped a hand feebly at Castiel’s shoulder. “Dude, you’re squishing me.”

“Sorry,” Castiel mumbled into the side of Dean’s neck, slowly slithering off to the side before he flopped onto his back.

“All good,” Dean responded, unable to stop his grin from leaking into the words.

It only took another minute or so for Castiel to groan and push up on his elbows. “I suppose I should be a gentleman and get us a towel,” he rumbled, sounding fucked enough that without proof to the contrary, it was believable he was still at it.

Sitting up reluctantly, Dean nodded. “You do that, I’ll get a clean blanket,” he offered. “This one’s sticky.”

Nodding, Castiel slithered off the mattress, shuffling off to the bathroom naked. While he was gone, Dean dug around in Castiel’s closet, finding the spare comforter and throwing it over the bed, balling up the other in the corner—that could be tomorrow’s problem. Dean was locating his clothes on the floor when Castiel came back with a damp washcloth in one hand. He had a towel over his shoulder, and in his other hand, he held what appeared to be…Dean’s alarm clock.

Not quite meeting Dean’s eyes, Castiel placed the cheap plastic contraption on the nightstand. “I, uh, I just thought that maybe…”

“Yeah,” Dean replied, knowing what he was getting at, even if he didn’t understand why Castiel seemed so hesitant about it. “Good idea.”

It only took them a few more minutes to clean up and grab clean underwear. Dean settled down under the clean bedding, looking up at the ceiling as Castiel padded over to turn off the light. He felt like he should say something—bite the bullet and see if this had meant as much to Castiel as it had to him.

But he didn’t.

It was too precious of a day to risk spoiling right then, Dean reasoned. He didn’t really want to remind Castiel that this wasn’t what they did, that this wasn’t the deal...not then. Couldn’t he have one night, before reality seeped back in?

As Castiel slipped into bed in the dark, his warm body stretched out beside Dean’s, Dean rolled over and right into his arms, refusing to second guess anything else—not right then. Another day, another time. 

Dean was going to let everything be perfect...for just this one night.



Chapter Text

Dean woke to moist heat. His fingers curled automatically into the bedsheet as he sucked in a sharp breath, his stomach muscles tensing as firm, wet pressure enveloped his cock.

Oh…oh fuck.

Lifting his head from the pillow, Dean curled his upper body up so that he could get a view of what was happening below; the bedding pushed back, muscled shoulders and a dark, wild bedhead braced over his pelvis. With a pop like a wet kiss, Castiel broke his suction and raised his head just slightly, looking up at Dean with a calm smile.

“Hello, Dean.”

Dean panted a rough, incomprehensible noise and flapped a hand feebly. “Continue,” he rasped out, morning croak and hangover battling for which of them could wreck his voice the most.

Castiel smiled serenely and went back to his business.

It only took a few more minutes before the sensation coiling through Dean’s abdomen built up, and he pushed up on his elbows, wanting to watch Castiel’s plump lips as they worked his cock. But Castiel’s hand slid up his stomach to his chest, his eyes meeting Dean’s from beneath his dark eyelashes as he firmly pushed Dean back down; he wasn’t to move.

Letting out a very content groan, Dean melted into the pillows beneath his head and closed his eyes, telling Castiel with sound alone how fantastic his mouth felt. Castiel was determined and direct, his hands massaging as his tongue worked wicked magic, and Dean soon cried out louder. Castiel’s name was on his lips as he stuttered and shook, coming into Castiel’s mouth with his eyes squeezed tight shut. Castiel remained on Dean’s cock for a few minutes more, gently suckling at the sensitive flesh with light kitten-licks until Dean shuddered, soft and spent.

Castiel climbed back up the bed then, snuggling into Dean’s side, looking smug. “Good morning,” he murmured into Dean’s jawbone, and Dean could feel his grin against his stubble.

“It sure is,” Dean said, smiling hazily as he rolled onto his side to kiss Castiel. He could taste the remains of his own salty musk on Castiel’s tongue, and while it would never be his favorite taste, he certainly didn’t mind it delivered like that.

Wanting to return the favor, Dean rolled Castiel back into the pillows, kissing him deeper until he sprawled out. Supple beneath Dean’s hands, Castiel didn’t bother playing around, shucking his boxers and kicking them off the bed, and then handing Dean a tube of lube. “Just don’t stop kissing me,” was his only request.

It was one that Dean was more than happy to comply with. He filled his palm with lube, warming it slightly before he smoothed it along Castiel’s already half-hard cock, eagerly watching the thick length fill out before his eyes. Much like the blow job he’d just received, the hand job Dean gave probably wasn’t winning any awards—it was sloppy and sleepy, and it was absolutely perfect. He cradled Castiel’s balls in his hand, trailed his fingers through the dark, wiry hair that surrounded his base, and caressed the soft skin of his thighs before really getting to work, tightening his grip around the ample girth of Castiel’s cock.

Castiel didn’t hold back with letting his enjoyment show, rolling his head to the side to pant into Dean’s neck between kisses. Feeling bold, Dean squeezed more lube into his hand and slid his hand down, squeezing gently at Castiel’s balls once more and trailing back over his perineum, applying a steady, massaging pressure. Castiel groaned, his eyelashes fluttering in surprise, but his fingers tightened on Dean’s bicep and he spread his legs further, so Dean continued. He alternated teasing passes downward, between Castiel’s cheeks and across his hole, with firm, circular motions across his taint, changing direction on every pass.

Taking his cue from Castiel’s gasping and shifting, Dean applied more lube and tightened his grip on Castiel’s shaft, moving slow and steady up to his cockhead and back down while his other hand, slick with lube and warm from pressure, slid between Castiel’s ass cheeks. He pressed the pad of his middle finger against the tight, resistive muscle as Castiel groaned into his mouth, pushing until he could ease it inside. Sliding his finger in and out while Castiel adjusted, Dean decided to leave it at just the one, pushing in further and curling over to seek out his prostate, while his first and third knuckles rocked against Castiel’s perineum, putting pressure on it from the outside. It didn’t take Castiel long to come like that. Dean managed to catch most of it in his discarded shirt, and they cleaned up in moments, snuggling back into the pillows before Dean even thought to check the time.

It was a little after six; a deep sleep in by Dean’s standards. A brief panic rolled through his chest, but then Dean recalled his alarm wouldn’t go off until six-thirty, as he had the day off for the most part—he’d only stop by to check up on things and make sure Gabriel had enough bread to keep him going.

“Breakfast?” Dean asked Castiel, rolling onto his side. “I should make us something hearty, make sure you’re all fueled up for your meeting today,” he added.

Castiel poked Dean’s sternum with a little smile. “For you, too—you need to recharge today. Valentine's Day is almost here, you’re going to be on your feet a lot.” His voice was sleep rough, deeper than it usually was even, and full of a throaty rumble that Dean wished he could hear every single morning.

“Yes, Sir!” Dean said, teasingly. “I guarantee you will never need to work hard to persuade me to eat a good breakfast. Bacon is essential for a healthy mind.” Despite his words, Dean peeled himself away from Castiel and out of the bed reluctantly, not wanting to leave either his sleepy Russian Dom or the warmth of the sheets behind.

Castiel snorted something disbelieving and muffled into the pillows. Reaching across, Dean tucked the comforter back around him with a smile. “Go back to sleep for a bit, Dmitri. I’ll bring the food up.”

In his boxers, Dean shuffled around the room quickly, retrieving his phone from the pocket of the previous day’s jeans and grabbing a bathrobe from the back of the door, before heading downstairs to prepare breakfast. He was half way down the stairs before he realized that the robe was Castiel’s. Uncaring, he shrugged and went on his way.

Coffee maker on, frying pan located, Dean dug around in the refrigerator for bacon and eggs. They had just enough—Dean usually liked to put cheese on his eggs, but he’d had to throw away their package of cheddar the night before. So plain eggs it was. They really needed to go grocery shopping soon, he realized. Dean located his phone charger while the water began to heat in the coffee pot, and then stood looking out of the kitchen window while his phone restarted.

It was icy outside, the snow they’d had at Christmas long gone, but thick frosty patches covered the patio and firepit outside and the scrubby winter grass beyond. Small gaps showed green fingers below, desperately trying to make their way toward spring. Dean smiled to himself. As soon as the ground thawed out, he had plans. He was going to clear the area off to the side and make a yoga spot for Castiel, as he’d thought about months ago when winter began. He’d spruce up the grass, plant some jasmine and climbing flowers, put up a little pagoda for them to climb. Hopefully he could surprise Castiel with it.

Down in his hand, Dean’s phone buzzed with incoming messages. Flicking through them, mostly best wishes and good luck for the immigration interview the day before, two caught his eye. Dean paused, dropping some butter into the pan for the eggs and bacon, before opening up the first, from Charlie.

> What up, loser! Good luck today. Make sure you buy the newspaper for the next few days.

Puzzled, Dean fired a quick message back, letting Charlie know that the interview went fine, but why the fuck should he buy a newspaper? Dean generally considered them a waste of trees, the internet worked just fine for him. The next message was from Sam, telling Dean to call him in the morning to chat about the interview. So, after slipping the remains of the package of bacon down into the frying pan, Dean wiped off his hands and called his brother.

“Hey, Dean,” Sam answered warmly, sounding a little out of breath. “You’re calling early.”

“Ah, sorry,” Dean said, leaning over carefully to grab a spatula without unplugging his phone from the charging cable. “I always forget that six-thirty in the morning isn’t sleeping in for most people. What are you doing up?”

“I went for a run,” Sam said, and Dean heard a car door slam.

“Of course you did,” Dean said, smirking to himself.

“So, how’d the interview go?”

“It went great! So great. The woman who interviewed us was actually really nice, and she told us she could see everything she needed right in front of her, so we don’t have to go back in.”

“Well, yeah, of course she could, watching you and Cas together is like watching puppies frolic in a field.”

“If you could not tease me, Sam, that’d be great,” Dean bit out, rolling his eyes. “I didn’t tell you how I felt just so you could rub it in.”

“I’m not—God, you’re dense sometimes.” Sam let out a hefty sigh. “I’m glad the interview went well, anyway. Congrats—I’ll text Cas in a bit.”

“Thanks, dude. So, what’s our next step, teach?” Dean poked idly at the bacon with the plastic spatula as it sizzled.

“Well, you wait. You need to go to the Department of Social Security with all of your paperwork, so that Cas can register and get issued a Social Security number. After that’s though, you wait for everything to come in the mail…nothing more to do for two years, then.”

Dean paused, mid bacon-poke. “Two years? What?”

Sam cleared his throat. “Well, you’ll have to reapply to confirm Castiel’s status again in two years. They probably won’t even interview you if you have enough things proving you still live together and enough public record to back it up.”

Bacon forgotten, Dean stared out of the window as he responded. “So, uh…so we have to keep everything exactly as it is now, for two years? I mean, I knew it was gonna be a while but I just… I guess I wasn’t thinking about that.”

“Well, honestly, we were focusing on getting through this first stage and getting Castiel legally resident. We kind of skipped over what happens after that. If I’m honest—” Sam stopped, sighed sharply, and then carried on a little more firmly. “Well, honestly I thought that you and Cas would have got your shit figured out by now and it wouldn’t be an issue to be together still by then.”

“I—” Dean cut off as suddenly as he’d stated. Two years. The bacon was beginning to stick, but Dean abandoned it, letting go of the spatula. “Sam, I…”

“What’s the big deal? You love the guy.”

“That’s—uh, that’s the problem, Sam. Like… I don’t know if I can do this for two years without him loving me back, Sam,” Dean admitted, his voice small, knowing the truth of it as soon as he said it aloud.

“Well then you’re going to have to actually talk to him Dean, and work something out,” Sam snapped. “I can help you with the immigration stuff, but this isn’t ninth grade, so I’m not spelling out for you what you need to do for the rest.”

“Hey,” Dean bit back at Sam, turning toward the coffee maker so sharply that the phone charger pulled out of the wall. “Don’t get pissy at me, you’re the one who conveniently forgot to tell me that even if he got accepted, we’d have to keep this up for another two years after!”

“Oh my god, Dean, you’re killing me. Talk. To. Cas,” Sam yelled, angry, before hanging up.

Dean stared down at his phone, which was irately informing him it was low on battery. Frowning, he snatched up the cable and plugged it back in. What the fuck was Sam doing, thinking that would be okay, that Dean could do that? Sloshing coffee furiously into two mugs, Dean moved them across to the table before returning to the sad, slightly blackened bacon. He sighed, shuffling the crispy slices onto a plate and wiping out the pan ready for the eggs.

Two years with Cas would be…heaven, Dean thought. But also, the most painful torture ever invented.

He stared down at the counter in front of him, robotically cracking eggs into a bowl and adding salt and pepper, whisking them up from muscle memory alone, his thoughts entirely elsewhere.

I can’t do it , he thought dully. Can I? Can I lie to everyone for that long…can I lie to Cas for that long? He’s gonna know, eventually. He’s gonna work out that I’m pathetic, and I fell in love with him while he was just having fun. I can’t do it.

Dean jumped a mile when bare arms slid around his waist and a stubbled chin hooked over his shoulder. “Cas!” He turned halfway, his eyes finding acres of tanned, muscled, entirely undressed Russian pressed up to his back.

“I heard raised voices,” Castiel said calmly, peering down at the eggs as Dean sloshed them into the pan. “Everything is alright?” He smiled up at Dean, soft concern in his endless blue eyes, his hands gliding to rest on Dean’s hips as he turned.

Dean opened his mouth, planning on telling Castiel what Sam said. He drew in a breath...and then let it out again, weak and selfish.

“Nothing,” he said, his chest aching. “Just shooting the shit with Sam.”

“Ahh,” Castiel said, smiling. “Need any help? Your bacon is a little…” Castiel jerked his head toward the waiting plate of slightly cremated bacon.

Dean grimaced. “Ah, yeah. Sorry about that. I got a bit distracted and I don’t think we have any more. Also, why are you naked?”

“You’re wearing my robe,” Castiel pointed out, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Oh,” said Dean, flushing slightly.

“Why don’t we go get dressed,” Castiel said, reaching past Dean to grab one of the cups of coffee, “and run out to get some breakfast before my meeting? My treat. You need real food before you go check on the store and Gabe anyway, yes?” He leaned over, pressing his lips to Dean’s cheek with a fond smile.

Dean froze, his skin warm where Castiel’s lips had so briefly landed, still holding the pan of liquid eggs. Sure, they’d kissed the night before, even that morning…when there was sex involved. But the way Castiel’s mouth grazed over Dean’s cheek then was so damned domestic that Dean’s chest constricted painfully. Say it! He his brain and chest roared. I love you, I love you, I love you.

“Uh—yeah. Yeah, sure. Good idea, Cas.” Dean choked out. He watched Castiel’s muscled thighs stride confidently out of the kitchen, taking his coffee with him as he left.

“I’m showering first,” Castiel called from the stairs, his voice lazy, warm, and content. He sounded totally unaware of the turmoil he’d left behind in the kitchen.

“Sure,” Dean called back automatically, still staring at the empty doorway.

Shit. I can’t do this.

 

x

 

Looking after his car was one of the best PG-13 ways for Dean to clear his mind.

Baby often needed a little TLC in the winter. The frost got under her rims, and Dean had to keep a close eye on her tire pressure and fluid levels, and there was always the risk that the cold would wear on her battery. Yet more of the horrors of parking her on the road. Letting out a huff of discomfort as he leaned across her hood to polish Baby’s window, Dean cursed his cold fingers.

Castiel was in the living room, Skyping with Tessa and some other execs from his publishing company. It was barely eight a.m. in Kansas, but it was nine in New York and the workday had already begun. Even though it was nothing to do with him, Dean had found that he was incredibly nervous on Castiel’s behalf. So, to distract himself, here he was, scraping ice off his pride and joy in the chill air. He'd been at it for about ten minutes, ever since he and Castiel had made it back from their short walk to pick up breakfast sandwiches. He was feeling sorry for his poor girl. The little townhouse was great, but if Dean could afford it alone, he’d find Baby somewhere with a beautiful, humidity-controlled garage and—

“Dean!” The front door flew open and Castiel ran out, bare feet slapping over freezing concrete as he rushed down the pathway to where Dean leaned over the car, grinning from ear to ear.

Straightening up from across Baby’s hood, Dean fought down a grimace at the way his back twinged. He’d definitely been working far too much, recently. He stepped around the car and just managed to drop the ice scraper in time to grab an armful of beaming Castiel.

“She accepted it! I’m done!”

“That’s great! I knew they’d love your book, Cas! Everything you write is awesome.” Dean squeezed Castiel tight, despite the awful cracking noises it produced from his back. “Now get back inside! It’s twenty-five degrees out here and you’ve got no shoes on.”

Castiel pulled back from the hug, looking a little horrified. “It sounds like you’re the one we should be concerned about—was that your back?

Dean waved dismissively as he bent over stiffly to grab the dropped ice scraper from the floor. “It’s fine. Sometimes when I’m on my feet at the bakery fourteen hours a day during busy periods, it plays up a little.”

Frowning, Castiel pulled the tool from Dean’s hand and plopped it resolutely into the bucket on the sidewalk. “Why didn’t you ever say anything?”

Dean shrugged one shoulder. “It’s just the way it is, nothing to worry about.”

Castiel’s unimpressed expression said different. “Come inside,” he said, firmly, grabbing Dean’s tool bucket from the white pavement. “It’s going to ice over again tonight, anyway—Baby does not need your attention this morning, she can wait.”

Horrified, Dean parted his lips, but didn’t get to say anything before Castiel piped up again.

“Besides, my feet are cold standing out here.”

“Of course your feet are cold!” Dean exclaimed, laughing and allowing himself to be pushed inside by Castiel, in spite of himself. “You’ve got no damn shoes! I swear, you dress like you’re going to a finance office or Woodstock, there’s just no in between with you.”

Castiel laughed as he closed the door behind them, sealing the chill air outside. Lawrence seemed determined to hang on to winter; Dean wished spring would hurry up and arrive. He had plans…not to mention, Baby would do much better without the constant frost.

Once they were in the hallway, Castiel dropped the bucket near the shoe rack and then moved up behind Dean. He slid his hand to the small of Dean’s back, humming thoughtfully.

“What?” Dean asked, slightly wary as he kicked off his boots.

“Why don’t you come and stretch with me, Dean, now that I’m done with Tessa?”

“Oh,” Dean responded quickly. “That, uh—no. I don’t stretch.”

Castiel raised an eyebrow. “Your back is very tight. You’ve been stressed and you’re carrying it in your thoracolumbar fascia and—”

“In my what now?”

“In your lower back muscles,” Castiel bit back, his eyes narrowing. He pressed a little harder into Dean’s back, using both hands, and Dean let out a small huff of relief at the sensation, despite himself. “See?” Castiel continued, softer again. “Come on, it’ll be fun.”

“Seriously, Cas, I know you’re just trying to help me feel better but first of all, that sounds like the least amount of fun I could have without there being kale involved, and secondly, I am the least flexible human being on the planet.”

“Flexibility takes practice,” Castiel said, hooking his chin over Dean’s shoulder and looking up at him sideways. “Why are you being so resistant to this?”

Dean sighed. “I’m just gonna embarrass myself,” he admitted, flushing already.

“And?” Castiel raised an eyebrow again. “You can let me cuff you to a headboard and beg for my cock, but you don’t want me to see that you can’t touch your toes, because that’s embarrassing ?

Glaring back at Castiel Dean raised his hands in defeat. “Alright. Clearly, I don’t have a leg to stand on, here. I’ll go change into some sweatpants and meet you in the living room.”

Castiel smiled smugly before letting him go. “Good boy,” he said with a little wink, pulling his chin back from Dean’s shoulder and striding off down the hallway.

Dean headed upstairs to discard his jeans, mumbling to himself. There was no way that he was going to get through this without some level of humiliation, and probably a giant boner from watching Castiel writhe around. The things I do for this man, Dean thought to himself grumpily as he headed back downstairs.

Castiel had already spread out his yoga mat on the floor in the living room and pushed the coffee table off to the side to clear space for them. He smiled warmly, almost proudly, at Dean when he shuffled awkwardly through the door.

“Hey,” Dean said redundantly. He crossed his arms and moved to stand at the edge of the couch, watching Cas stretch his neck this way and that before he gestured Dean forward.

“Come on,” Castiel said, gesturing for Dean to come forward.

Dean took a step toward him, smiling down at the blue yoga mat. He had a sudden flashback to Christmas Day when he’d come all over that mat, shortly followed by Cas spilling his load on it in turn. Dean couldn’t help but grin.

Castiel raised an eyebrow in question, before turning and leaning over the tiny Ikea desk that Dean had given him so that he could write downstairs. He stretched out, his shirt riding up temptingly before they’d even begun, and drew the curtains across the living room window, muting the light in the room.

“Good memories,” Dean said elusively, shrugging and trying not to let his eyes stick too much to the solid two inches of tan skin that had been revealed.

Moving back to the mat, Castiel crouched down next to it. He kneeled on the floor and patted it, his palm slapping loudly on the foam material. “Lay down on your back, first of all.”

Laying down? Alright, that he could do. Dean lowered himself down and scrambled into position, sprawling out with his arms crossed.

Even without turning his head, Dean could picture Castiel’s eye roll just from the huff of breath he let out. “Alright, let’s get you a little more open than that. You’re all closed off,” Castiel complained. His hands came out to Dean’s forearms, dragging his hands down so that they lay on the floor each side of him.

“Stretch out long, first of all,” Castiel instructed. “Let’s get your muscles warmed up.”

Dean closed his eyes, focusing on Castiel’s deep, sexy accent. He let out a long breath and pushed his arms up and his feet down, stretching like he’d just woken from a deep sleep.

“Okay,” said Castiel approvingly. “Now shake it out, gently,” he suggested, folding his fingers between Dean’s to shake his arm in demonstration.

“Easy,” Dean said, following Castiel’s motion and then repeating the stretch again at his urging. “This yoga stuff’s a breeze.”

“Glad to hear it,” Castiel said, sounding amused. “I’ll keep that in mind. Now, let’s begin.”

“That wasn’t beginning?”

Nyet .”

Opening his eyes, Dean gave Castiel his best side-eye, but was met with only a serene smile and Castiel’s hands coming to his shoulders as he moved around behind Dean’s head.

“We’ll begin with a simple Supine Twist,” Castiel said firmly. “It’s very easy, even for a beginner, and it should relieve the pressure all along your spine, and your neck too.”

“Sure,” Dean said skeptically. “How’d I do that?”

Step-by-step, Castiel instructed Dean in how to draw his legs up, knees bent, and twist his whole body over to one side. It was easy at first, until Castiel told him he had to keep his upper back flat on the floor. Castiel’s hands resting on his shoulders made a lot more sense, then, as Dean struggled to touch his bent knees to the floor near his hips without curling his body over. Castiel pushed down, gently enough, but preventing Dean’s shoulder blades from leaving the mat. Dean let out a strangled grunt of displeasure.

“Yup, yup,” Dean said through gritted teeth. “Can definitely feel that in my whole back.”

“Just take it inch by inch,” Castiel suggested gently. “Give your muscles time to stretch and adjust. It should feel pretty good when you get there.”

Dean wasn’t so sure about the feeling good part, but he didn’t complain when Castiel leaned over him to stretch his arms out as if he was being crucified on the mat. A whoosh of Castiel’s warm, musky scent flooded over him, and he filled his lungs with it selfishly. Dean felt his muscles slowly relaxing, though, and by the time Castiel let him go, he stayed there of his own accord. Leaning over Dean from above him, Castiel grinned down.

“Much better, yes?”

Dean couldn’t help but grin up at Castiel’s upside down face. “Still can’t touch my toes,” he reminded Castiel. “Don’t get too cocky.”

Chuckling, Castiel ignored him. “Hold this for thirty seconds, then we’ll switch sides.”

Switching sides was easier than getting in position initially had been, but not by much.

The Supine Twist turned out to be a precursor to something called “Thread the Needle Pose”, which involved Dean keeping his back flat while he held his legs up at a ninety-degree angle, his knees bent, and then rested one ankle on the opposite knee. Dean let out a long groan as Castiel moved around to sit at his side, pushing Dean’s thigh back slightly toward his stomach as he did so.

“Good?” Castiel questioned.

“Yeah, feels good at the base of my back when you push,” Dean admitted.

Castiel nodded, before getting Dean to switch sides so they could repeat the motion. Once he’d satisfied Castiel in that pose, Dean rolled over and was promptly instructed in “Sphinx Pose.” It sounded really easy, keeping his hips on the floor, legs out straight, while he pushed up on his arms, curving his spine.

It became a lot harder when Castiel straddled him, sitting on his butt. “Hips on the floor,” he rumbled firmly.

“Unnghhh,” Dean grunted desperately. “You’re a monster. I’ve never hated you being that close to my ass—okay! Okay! Hips down. Good God Cas, what kinda yoga training do they do under the regime, huh?”

Castiel swatted playfully at Dean’s shoulder. “Hold for thirty seconds.”

“Like I have a choice,” Dean grumbled.

“True,” Castiel said, sounding smug as shit. “Now, let’s get you into a downward facing dog, stretch out your latissimus dorsi.”

“How is it you know more English words than me?” Dean grunted as Castiel released him, swinging his leg back over back over Dean and standing.

“I’m sure that’s not true. Try and get me to name car parts one day, you’ll soon see. Now,” Castiel reached out, gently placing his hands on Dean’s hips as he leaned over him and guiding his pelvis upwards. “Keep your feet and hands as flat on the floor as you can.”

Dean was a little distracted by Castiel’s warm hands on his hips. He smelled amazing, and the weight of his palms already had connotations for Dean…it was hardly his fault. Trying not to be totally creepy about it all, Dean took in a deep breath and focused. It took him a moment to get into position, but he did. When he was there, Castiel stroked his fingers down Dean’s sides, instructing him to slowly empty his lungs. He counted Dean’s breathing in and out, his hands massaging softly across Dean’s skin.

Yoga wasn’t his thing, Dean reminded himself. Having Castiel’s hands on him, though—guiding him, putting pressure on the correct muscles, massaging his back…that was definitely his thing. He let out a soft sigh, despite himself.

“Careful, Dean,” Castiel teased. “I might start to think you’re enjoying this.”

“’S nice, like the pressure on my muscles, feeling something tight around me when you’re pushing there,” Dean mumbled down into the yoga mat, eyes closed happily. “It’s just really relaxing. And your hands are magic.”

“Is that so?” Castiel said, sounding pleased. “Here—sit back.” From behind Dean, he tapped the floor lightly, and Dean lowered himself down to his knees and looked back to see Castiel sitting down, legs wide so that Dean could sit between them.

Settling down on the floor with his legs out in front of himself, his knees slightly bent, Dean rested his forearms on Castiel’s knees as they bracketed his thighs. “What now?” he asked.

“Nothing but relaxing, for you,” Castiel said, pushing Dean forward gently so that he bent over his thighs, opening up his back to Castiel’s hands.

Dean couldn’t help but let out a long moan as Castiel massaged into the base of his back, his thumbs digging into all the right spots. “Oh, God, yes,” Dean groaned. “That’s amazing.”

Castiel didn’t respond, focused on moving his hands in ways that turned Dean to putty. He ended up with his head lolling forward, sprawled forward over his thighs like a ragdoll as Castiel worked out the tension along his spine.

“You know,” Castiel said thoughtfully after a few minutes, “you saying you like the pressure on your muscles…that makes me wonder.”

“Hmm?” Dean managed; his voice muffled into his legs.

“We won’t have time right now,” Castiel said almost apologetically. “You need to go check on Gabriel so he can take a break, yes?”

Regretfully, Dean slowly raised his head, feeling a bit drunk. “Oh—yeah. Yeah, told him I’d go make sure we had enough Valentines stock ready for tomorrow, let him take a break.”

“You should go get dressed, then,” Castiel suggested, letting his hands trail down Dean’s back. “Could I borrow Baby, today?”

Looking back at Castiel over his shoulder, Dean raised an eyebrow. “You’ve already got her keys. Where are you going?”

Castiel smiled secretively. “I need to stop off and get some things. Time for me to return your little surprise, I think.”

“Oh, really?” Dean said, his interest peaked.

“Work, Dean.”

I’m sure Gabe could—”

Work, Dean.”

Pouting dramatically, Dean dragged himself up off the floor. “Is there a Russian word for ‘cockblock’?”

Castiel smirked, standing and following him out of the room. “Don’t be a brat, malish. And bring home something nice I can feed you afterward, hmm?”

“Pie?” said Dean hopefully as he headed to the stairs.

“Something healthy!” Castiel yelled from his route to the kitchen. “Fruit!”

“God, you’re the worst, I hate you.”

“Yes, dear.”

 

x

 

It was hours later by the time Dean trudged, floury and coated with an assortment of pink sprinkles, back through his front door. He tossed the newspaper he carried into the recycling on his way past—he’d followed Charlie’s baffling instruction and picked one up, but having searched it cover to cover, he had no idea why. Shrugging to himself, he headed into the kitchen.

“What happened to you?” Castiel asked, already rising from his seat at the kitchen table to walk over and get Dean a beer from the fridge. “You look like you had a fight with a Care Bear.”

“Valentine’s Day, man,” Dean said weakly slithering into his seat. “The stories I could tell! I still have flash-backs to the strawberry whoopie pies last year.”

“Whoopie pies?” Castiel repeated slowly, looking utterly baffled. “I don’t understand.”

“It’s like a cake, but a cookie—people argue—that’s kinda like a sandwich…honestly, I’m never selling them again, so you don’t need to worry.”

“Ahh,” Castiel said, looking no less baffled as he uncapped the beer.

“Sorry that all your time relaxing me this morning was wasted,” Dean said, reaching out to take the bottle with a thankful smile.

Castiel gave a little smile back in return, and moved around behind Dean’s chair to place his hands on his shoulders, gently squeezing through his white chef’s coat. “Not so. I always enjoy our time together,” he confessed quietly. “And it just means I can test out my other relaxing idea, this evening. If you still wish.”

“If that’s a fancy way of promising me dick, Dmitri, then you got it. Just lemme get the sprinkles off.”

Dean dashed upstairs, beer in hand, to have a shower. He tried not to rush it too much, though; important places needed to be squeaky clean, of course. He let the hot water begin to pull the tension from his shoulders. Trick or Sweet had been a madhouse. Dean was endlessly grateful to Gabriel for all the time off he’d given him recently, to head to Wichita with Castiel and deal with whatever fallout they had from that. He really needed to tell Gabriel to take some time off himself after Valentine’s, Dean decided.

Thoroughly soaped and scrubbed, Dean stepped out of the shower and hastily rubbed himself down. As instructed, he didn’t bother dressing all the way. Slipping into the black lace panties that Castiel had given him after they’d started their arrangement, Dean took a moment to look himself over in the bathroom mirror. Flushed from the hot water, his freckles stood out in a way that he knew Castiel would love. Observing his own ass wrapped in black lace with an appreciative eye, Dean gave himself a cheesy thumbs up in the glass before heading out to meet Castiel.

When he stepped into Castiel’s room, Dean was surprised to find the lights low, the curtains drawn and the lamps on the nightstands softly glowing. The comforter had been stripped from the bed, leaving only an easy-to-clean sheet and an array of pillows. Shirtless, Castiel stood near his writing desk, opposite the end of the bed. He looked good, his smooth skin highlighted in the subtle light. He was barefoot, and the teasing chiseled vee of his abdomen disappearing into his low-slung waistband drew attention to the fact that he wore simple, clingy black pants, and nothing else. The desk had been cleared, Castiel’s typewriter pushed to the back, and an array of items were sat on the surface.

Dean opened his mouth to enquire what they were doing, but Castiel’s deep rasp cut him off.

“Sit down on the end of the bed, moj mal’chik.”

Strict then, today. Dean grinned, having zero complaints about that. He positioned himself on the edge of the mattress, sitting with his feet flat and his back straight, waiting with his head bowed. After only a moment, a hand moved to thread fingers through his crown, tugging softly at the damp strands.

“Such a good boy for me,” Castiel praised gently.

“Yes, Sir,” Dean said, already preening a little.

“I’m going to describe to you what I would like to do today,” Castiel began. “You can speak freely and ask any questions. Only when you agree will we start.”

“Yes, Sir,” Dean responded automatically, already feeling a little thrill of excitement.

“Tell me about any experience you have with ropes,” Castiel commanded, turning back to the table and lifting up a length of black rope.

This wasn’t going to be a simple case of tying his wrists to the headboard, Dean already knew; there was far too much rope carefully laid out on the desk for that to be the case, and if it were, Castiel wouldn’t be approaching it in quite such a cautious way—they’d restrained his wrists before, after all.

The tingle of anticipation in Dean’s chest grew, warm and very hopeful. “The idea is hot,” Dean began. “I haven’t really had the, uh, opportunity to experiment much." He paused for a moment, arranging his thoughts so that he could be clear and concise, as he knew Castiel would prefer. Dean wanted to be good. "I’ve only been allowed more simple ties before, but, I’ve gotta admit, Shibari and Kinbaku always interested me.”

Castiel nodded. “Tell me what you know about the art of it,” he continued, bringing the rope across to Dean and holding it out to him to investigate.

Reaching out to take the rope from Castiel as offered, Dean felt the satisfying weight of it in his palms, silky and smooth. In this, at least, he felt like he was on pretty familiar, stable ground. “Both terms are Japanese,” he began, taking a breath as though he was reciting. “Shibari means ‘to tie’. Kinbaku is a newer word in their language. I think it specifically means to, uh, be tied to the point where there can be no movement."

Dean paused. He kept his head lowered fractionally, but looked up at Castiel through his eyelashes, wanting to check if he was on the right path, if he was giving his Dom what he wanted. Castiel smiled down at him and petted lightly at hair, urging him on wordlessly.

Encouraged, Dean continued, "It’s a subtle difference and most people use 'em interchangeably, though, in theory, I guess the intent is different.”

Castiel nodded firmly. “Indeed. What you call it is much less important than what we intend to do with it, yes?”

Agreeing, Dean nodded back in turn. “Yes, Sir.”

“One of my best friends back home,” Castiel said conversationally, “she was very fond of rope in all its forms. She loved suspending her subs, tying them very intricately—I learned a lot from her. When you mentioned you liked feeling constricted, feeling the push on your muscles…it occurred to me this could be a very good fit for you. If you’re happy to experiment with me, I’d very much like to try it with you.”

“Yes, Sir,” Dean said immediately, his stomach flip-flopping in anticipation. “I’d really like that. It’s been a long time since I’ve been really tied but…it’s nice,” he finished somewhat lamely.

Castiel crouched down in front of Dean then, looking up at his face with a smirk. “Nice?” he said, almost teasingly. “Eloquent.”

“Really fucking hot,” Dean amended, feeling his neck heat at the admission. “Like, really, really fucking hot.”

A slow grin crawled across Castiel’s face. “Then I’m happy to see if it works for us.”

“Will you like it, too?” Dean asked, knowing that it wouldn’t be as good if it was only for him, though he’d appreciate his generous Dom doing it for him and him alone.

“Oh,” Castiel said with a low chuckle. “Yes, it would be…really, really fucking hot, as you say.”

Dean couldn’t help but laugh. Castiel ruffled Dean’s hair a little as he stood back up and moved over to the desk. He spent a few minutes arranging his supplies how he wanted them, getting Dean to recite his safeword colors and limits while he worked, as he did before every planned scene, Dean knew by then. He went over what he planned to do, and instructed Dean on how he was to request any adjustments should he need them.

Dean’s heart was beating faster just from the discussion, a small stirring beginning within the lace at his groin. Oh yeah, he thought eagerly. This is going to be goddamn amazing.

Once he was satisfied, Castiel approached Dean once more, bending down to his level. He reached forward, cupping his hands around Dean’s face to bring his eyes up. His thumbs traced gently across Dean’s cheekbones, melting his edges, and his smile was gentle and warm.

“Are you ready to play, sweet boy?”

Dean couldn’t help but tilt his head into one of Castiel’s hands, closing his eyes for a brief moment. “Yes, Sir,” he said very firmly. “Please.”

Slowly, Castiel moved forward and pressed his lips to Dean’s forehead. They were warm, and now achingly familiar, even if not in the way Dean desperately wanted them to be. “Very well,” Castiel murmured against Dean’s skin, before pulling back. “Kneel at the end of the bed for me, moj mal’chik.

Outside of the bedroom Dean would have been too proud to ever admit that he scrambled up onto the bed as eagerly as he did, but here in his safe space with Castiel, he was perfectly happy to let his Dom know exactly how good he wanted to be, and exactly how keen he was. With his knees a few inches from the edge of the mattress, Dean sat back on his heels, with his head bowed, his arms crossed at the wrists behind his back.

“Beautiful,” Castiel praised as he approached. “You can look up, boy.”

Dean did, meeting darkening blue eyes that were stripping him down to be far more naked than his simple lack of clothing could manage.

“Good,” Castiel said. “Now—hold your arms out to the side, please. First, I’ll bind your chest. You’ll still be able to move your arms, but I don’t want you to. I want you to be perfectly still for me. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Sir.” Dean raised his arms obediently, holding them steadily out at shoulder height. He knew after a few minutes his arms were going to start getting tired, but for now it was fine, and helped with his balance on the mattress.

Castiel had his first length of rope spread between his hands, and he folded it in half, doubling it and pinching the middle into a small loop—a bight, he’d explained it as. “Now,” Castiel crooned gently, “I want you to breathe in deep for me.”

Obeying, Dean sucked in air and sent it deep into his lungs, holding it for a long moment before releasing.

“Keep doing that. Holding the air in while I tie will help prevent me from over-binding your chest,” Castiel explained as he came forward with the rope. He pressed the looped end to Dean’s skin, a couple of inches above his bellybutton, beneath his ribs, then passed the length of the rope all the way around, circling Dean’s stomach like a belt. When he reached the loop again, he tucked the ends through, slipping one finger under before he pulled it tight.

“This is a lark’s head knot,” Castiel offered quietly. “It’s also called a cow hitch, but lark’s head is definitely a little prettier.”

Dean gave a little chuckle. “Yeah, that one sounds better.”

“Breathe in, boy.”

As instructed, Dean inhaled deeply. Castiel checked the tightness of the rope that now encircled Dean’s abdomen before nodding to himself and moving on up, looping the rope all around him again in the opposite direction to the bight he’d made, repeating the motion, layering the rope on up.

“This is a simple corset tie,” Castiel said, continuing on up Dean’s ribs. “How does it feel so far?”

The air Dean was sucking into his lungs was starting to buzz deliciously, his attention focusing in on his breathing and the sensations that were happening across his skin. His arms were beginning to seem heavy, but other than that, every feeling was pleasant—the rope was silky rather than rough, the sensation coming from it being tight against his skin rather than from it rubbing.

“Really good,” Dean responded, as clearly as he could. “Feels nice. Tight, but not painful. Like…like a really big, squeezing hug.”

That drew a small smile from Castiel as he worked. “Don’t think I don’t know that you like those just as much…and you’ll get plenty once we’re done, my little snuggle-slut,” he said, sounding very soft and amused.

Dean flushed, but he didn’t argue. Castiel had his number to the last decimal, so why bother. “Thank you, Sir.”

“You’re welcome.” Castiel grinned. He tied off his first rope, fetching another and beginning again, leaving an inch or so gap before carrying the rope corset on up to Dean’s nipples.

Dean’s breathing began getting heavier, from holding perfectly still for several minutes—his arms were beginning to ache a little—and from the interesting jolts of sensation that Castiel moving the silky rope across his peaked, hard nipples was causing. He was half hard already, just from the tightness of the rope and the feeling of Castiel’s hands sliding across his skin.

“Color?” Castiel checked as he was finally tying off the second rope beneath Dean’s armpits.

“Green. Yeah, green…it’s good, Sir,” Dean slurred slightly, smiling down at the mattress. “Arms are stiff is all. But it’s okay.”

“Well, you can put them down now your chest is done,” Castiel said to Dean’s relief. “I’m going to begin to bind your arms behind your back now, as we discussed. Is that okay?”

“Yes, Sir,” Dean said, nodding eagerly. “Looking forward to it,” he admitted. If handcuffs and simple rope ties like he’d experienced before felt good, this was going to be awesome , he just knew it.

“I appreciate your enthusiasm, moj mal’chik, ” Castiel praised. “It’s very attractive.”

The only slight disappointment, Dean realized as Castiel climbed up onto the mattress behind him, was that he couldn’t see Castiel working on his arms. But he could feel it; Castiel’s hands placing his wrists together just how he wanted them, pulling Dean’s shoulders back, pushing his chest tight against the rope that bound it. It was a heady, thrilling sensation. Dean closed his eyes, sinking into it, beginning to float slowly upward as he gave himself over to simply feeling; The rope against his skin as it slithered and slipped and tightened, the mattress beneath his knees and toes, the slightly cool air of the room, the gentle touches of Castiel’s long, thick fingers.

The sounds, too; the soft rasp of the rope as it moved through loops, tugged by Castiel’s guiding hands. The occasional creak of the mattress or shush of the sheet beneath Castiel’s knees as he moved around behind Dean. And the low rumble of Castiel’s voice as he continued his near-constant explanations of everything he was doing.

“This is a very simple armbinder,” Castiel was murmuring. “Nice and quick to get you straight out of if you become distressed, this first time. Very important…I’m going to move this next knot up above the elbow joint, right here, you feel? We don’t want pressure on the actual joint, you see…”

His voice was soothing, and relaxing, and did all kinds of things to Dean that simple speech probably shouldn’t.

By the time Castiel moved from behind him, coming back to Dean’s front—with one hand on his shoulder all the way, so Dean could feel where he was and wouldn’t tip, unable to catch himself—Dean was almost fully hard, his lace panties straining between his legs as he kneeled.

“I don’t suppose I need to ask if you’re enjoying, hmm?” Castiel reached out, rubbing a thumb across the rounded head of Dean’s cock beneath the fabric. “Seems like you like the feel of it.”

“Yes,” Dean admitted, raising his head slightly to speak. “But it’s mostly because it’s you that’s doing it, Sir. That makes it ten times sexier.”

“Flatterer,” Castiel said, though Dean could hear the smile in his voice. “Now, let’s move you back up the bed, get you comfortable.”

It was surprisingly difficult to balance now that his arms were restrained, Dean discovered. Though he had zero complaints about it when Castiel came to his rescue, lifting and manhandling him up the bed so that he leaned back into a pile of pillows, his arms behind him, his legs out in front. As he settled him, Castiel’s hand came around to press at Dean’s thumb.

“How does that feel, boy? No tingling, no discomfort?”

“No,” Dean reassured him. “None, Sir. I’ll let you know if it changes, I promise.”

“Good boy.”

After fetching another couple of lengths of rope, Castiel straddled Dean’s legs as they stretched out in front of him, taking his weight though his knees so as not to crush Dean’s shins. Dean was surprised to notice, as he settled into place, that the front of Castiel’s clinging back pants was notably tented. Grinning softly to himself, Dean gently lifted one leg, moving it between Castiel’s and pressing into his groin with a wink.

“Good for you, too, Sir?”

“Certainly,” said Castiel, low and dangerous. “Though you’ll put that leg down until your told, if you want us to continue.”

Immediately, Dean flattened his leg against the bed, lowering his head. “Sorry, Sir.”

It only took Castiel a few more minutes to get Dean’s legs bound tight. Dean lay quietly on the mattress, letting his eyes drift shut, letting the sensation of being cocooned wash over him, letting his thoughts float out of himself.

Time passed. Maybe? Dean wasn’t sure.

A touch to his cheek, slow and gentle, brought his eyes fluttering open.

“There’s my boy,” Castiel murmured, keeping his voice low. “How are you doing?”

Dean felt a little drunk. He nodded, hazy and warm. “Awesome…doin’ awesome.”

Castiel was leaning over Dean, his knees bracketing Dean’s silk-clad hips as he stretched up to cradle his face. The feel of his warm weight brought Dean back to life quickly; his cock, softened from long minutes of almost meditative drifting, immediately began to thicken back up and demanded to know why it wasn’t getting any attention. Castiel smirked—he could feel it, Dean was sure.

“Very awesome,” Dean added, a little clearer, though still feeling like his skin was softly buzzing all around him.

“I’m glad you’re enjoying it so much, moj mal’chik,” Castiel rasped, grinning down at Dean wolfishly. Tilting his head, he leaned in, ghosting his lips across Dean’s neck.

Dean couldn’t help but let out a groaning sigh at the feeling of Castiel’s hot breath on his skin. He was so sensitive, everywhere; he cried out as Castiel rocked against him, their cocks pressing through fabric. “Oh, fuck…” he hissed, low.

“Do you want me to touch you?” Castiel asked, low and rumbling.

“Please, yes—please, Sir,” Dean whined.

Castiel pulled back, sitting up, straddling Dean’s hips. He trailed his hands across the ropes wrapped tightly around Dean’s chest, watching his fingers as they dragged down across the corset, bumping slowly over each lark’s head. “You look…so beautiful, like this,” Castiel said quietly, his eyes shining as he stared openly. “Color—are your arms alright? Do you need to move?

“Green,” Dean said immediately, his voice raspy and grating with arousal. “Arms are a little stiff, but don’t hurt. Can move my fingers a bit.”

Seemingly satisfied, Castiel moved on down the ties across Dean’s front until he reached the lace of his panties.

“It’d be such a shame to damage these…” Castiel considered. His voice was very low, thick and gravelly, and Dean loved how turned on he sounded. He pressed a kiss to Dean’s hipbone before he continued, “Still…they are, ultimately, easily replaceable…”

Dean barely had time to suck in a breath before he felt Castiel’s teeth settle around the lace hem. “Oh, shit—”

With an audible ripping sound, the lace dug into Dean’s skin, pulling and tearing as hot breath puffed across his straining cock. It merely twitched harder at the feeling. The stitches burst, shredded strings of lace falling to caress the sides of Dean’s thighs once the fabric could no longer fight Castiel’s determined destruction. With a bite and a twist of Castiel’s neck, they were beautifully ruined. Dean’s skin was red and stinging from the bite of the material while it had resisted, and he groaned like he’d been spanked; moaning for more, even as the last threads of intricate fabric clung hopelessly to his hips.

Castiel sounded wrecked, panting as dropped the remains of the underwear off to the side. He licked his lips, dark blue cosmos eyes sparkling with anticipation as they rested firmly on Dean. One finger slid slowly, purposefully up Dean’s cock, beginning at the root and slipping torturously slowly up to his flushed, bobbing head. “Color?” Castiel asked, coy and devilish.

Dean’s body writhed, straining against the ropes in a way that made his head swim deliciously. “Green! Is there something better than green? That. Better-than-green.”

Castiel’s hand was slow, but sped up in increments, building Dean up before loosening his grip and starting all over again. Dean watched, helpless, from where he rested up against the pile of pillows on the bed, his hands behind his back. Castiel’s touches where all consuming, the only point of motion on his body. Dean couldn’t reciprocate, couldn’t lose his fingers in Castiel’s hair, couldn’t trace patterns on their skin in salt and sweat, couldn’t get a handful of Castiel’s perfect ass. He could barely even clench his fists. It was all too much, and yet nowhere near enough.

“Please—please, Sir,” Dean begged, hardly coherent. “More—need more, please!”

“Patience.” Castiel’s fingers were acrobatic, performing tricks around Dean’s cock that were as much torture as pleasure. 

Dean bit his lips over and over, chewing them as he squeezed his eyes shut. The sensation of Castiel’s hand was maddening—hot and slick and tight, and yet, not as tight and all-encompassing as the ropes that wrapped him, keeping him immobile. Dean tried his best to hold back his moans, but hissing air slipped past his teeth even as frustrated tears pickled at the corner of his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he gasped, after letting a moan trickle out. “I’m sorry, Sir, I just wanted—I shouldn’t have begged, I just—”

Castiel’s lips were soft, cutting Dean off so gently that the last of his words ended up in the cavern of Castiel’s mouth. Swallowing them down, Castiel trailed off to smaller kisses before moving across to Dean’s ear, warming it with his panting breaths. He lay down across Dean’s front, trapping Dean’s eager cock between them both, flat against his stomach below the rope. Castiel’s voice rumbled between them as he said, “I love it when you beg. You’re doing so nicely for me, you suit this so well—even better than I hoped. I’m so happy with you, my good boy.”

Dean whimpered. The praise felt physical, filling the gaps between the ropes and cocooning him until it felt like he was hovering inches above the bed, floating on pure bliss. Dean made a happy noise as Castiel’s lips moved to his throat, unable to help panting softly. He felt drunk again, buzzed on the sensation taking over all of his senses. “You make me levitate,” he murmured sluggishly. “So good, everything so good…just want—”

“What do you want, sweet boy?” Castiel sucked his words into Dean’s collarbone.

“Just…just a little more.”

“Faster?”

“No, no…tighter, just…tighter.”

Dean felt Castiel’s head shake minutely against his skin. “I can’t make the ropes any tighter. I won’t chance hurting you. I know it feels good, but you have to trust—”

“Not the ropes,” Dean gasped out, the sensation of Castiel lying across his front, still grinding against his cock making him tremble under his tries. “I—I want to come for you, Sir, I need more…”

The grin was back against Dean’s skin, beneath his jaw where he couldn’t see, even when opening his eyes wide. With his shoulders pulled back and his arms bound, Dean could feel more of Castiel than he could see, and it was maddening. “Oh, you’ll come for me,” Castiel agreed, slow and rasping. “Tell me how you’d like it.”

“Oh,” Dean let out in relief. “Thank you—thank you. I’ll take it any way you think I deserve.” Sucking in air, Dean tried desperately to pull himself together. He needed to maintain some semblance of sense if he was going to be an obedient boy, after all. But he felt delirious as he grinned, tilting his head so that he could feel Castiel’s temple beneath his lips. “As long as it’s yours, Sir, anything would be perfect… your hands, your mouth, your ass. There’s nothing I don’t want from you, Sir.”

There was a breath of a pause against Dean’s neck. “You want my ass?”

Dean blinked, Castiel’s strange tone bringing him back to the ground better than his own feeble attempt at doing so. “Well…yeah,” Dean admitted. He automatically attempted a shrug, achieving nothing but a satisfying shifting of rope over his arms and chest. “Of course. But I know you don’t do that with subs, I was just saying—”

Castiel cut Dean off sharply with a finger pressed to his lips. When Castiel pulled back, pushing up on his knees so that he looked down at Dean, Dean was taken aback at how thoroughly fucked he looked. Considering Castiel was still wearing pants and hadn’t so much as touched himself beyond grinding against Dean, as far as Dean knew, Castiel was dark-eyed and wrecked, sweat beading at his hairline near his temples and a red flush spreading down his neck and across his chest. “Hush, boy,” he rumbled, his voice low and daring. Castiel licked his lips, the finger that pressed to Dean’s mouth trailing down to his chin to forcibly turn Dean’s jaw to the side. Hot lips hovered so close to the curve of Dean’s ear that he could feel them.

“Now tell me…” Castiel said in a husky whimper. “Do you want to be inside me, moj mal’chik?”

Dean’s shaking gasp seemed shockingly loud in the quiet room. “Fuck,” he mumbled desperately. “Fuck yes. Please, Sir.”

What kind of question was that? Of course he wanted that—especially as they were now, with Dean prone and helpless. To feel the barely-yielding, clenching heat of Castiel around him would be perfect. Especially as, Dean knew without a doubt, he would be the one getting fucked...no matter whose ass was full.

With a shockingly feral-sounding growl, Castiel jerked back from Dean to kneel on the mattress, sucking in a long breath through pursed lips. He didn’t say anything; he merely shifted to the side and off the bed, and headed to the desk where he’d earlier arranged his ropes and supplies.

Castiel was back within moments, before Dean could even begin to grow concerned. He climbed back onto the bed without preamble, straddling Dean’s thighs as he reached up to tuck another pillow behind Dean’s head—propping him up just a little further, so that he could see everything that was going on.

Dean drank in the sight greedily. The ropes were beautiful—something that could be so wrong, so violent, so restrictive in a negative way, used totally differently here. Not feeling like danger or denial, instead feeling like security and care and want.

The corset tie of neat lark’s head knots that constructed Dean’s torso had nothing on Cas, though.

He had his legs spread apart, kneeling either side of Dean’s body—pants gone, his naked body was pinkish with warmth, his tan highlighted in the yellowy lamplight either side of the bed. He was magnificent. The sight of his red, wanting cock jutting out in front of him as he looked down at Dean was enough to ratchet Dean’s arousal up another notch just by itself.

“Oh, fuck,” Dean said helplessly, watching as Castiel’s hand—soaked in the lube he’d dashed to the desk to retrieve—disappeared back behind his hips.

Castiel was quick, stopping only to push some lube into himself, his hand motions hidden from Dean but clear enough as he sunk down quickly onto his fingers, once or twice, just spreading the lubricant around and within.  Seconds later, he hovered above Dean’s cock.

“Color?” he asked, low and rumbling, just once.

“Green,” Dean said. It came out more solemn than he intended, his voice rasping and desperate, words no longer simple.

With that, Castiel reached down, once more wrapping his hand around Dean’s length. He pumped a few times, getting Dean back to full, throbbing hardness with practically no effort at all, before shuffling forward and guiding Dean’s cock where he wanted it.

The urge to reach up and grab at Castiel’s hips was overwhelming. But Dean was entirely tied. He could have wiggled, perhaps, but that would have earned him nothing but a punishment, so instead he fought his internal battle silently and stayed still.

Castiel took his time, sinking down on Dean’s cock slowly, inch by inch. He bit his lip, a fierce look of concentration crinkling his brow, bumping the skin above his nose. He was steady, though, pushing the head in past the tightest muscle at the entrance with a little extra help from his fingers, then controlling his descent with his thighs alone—his hands gripped tightly into the ropes at Dean’s sides.

Dean was sweating, every muscle trembling and shivering within his ropes.

Holy fucking shit.

Castiel felt so, so tight and so, so hot; whereas before Dean had been floating, he came back down at light speed to focus only on that one point of contact, where Castiel’s body was melding with his. Suddenly it seemed to be the point on which the whole world was turning.

Unable to stop himself, Dean let out long, audible groan.

Castiel’s noises were shorter and sharper, gasping Oh’s and Ahh’s that fell through the air like confetti. Once seated, he simply sat, gasping and adjusting.

“Amazing,” Dean breathed out, down to one-word expressions.

“Yes,” Castiel agreed breathlessly, seemingly in the same place.

Dean simply laid back and watched as Castiel took .

Not that he had any choice, but even if he had been able to move, Castiel was one-hundred-percent in control. The way he rose up and down, fucking himself on Dean’s cock like it was a toy for his own amusement, sent waves of arousal through Dean’s body. The pressure beginning to build in Dean’s abdomen was distracting, but he didn’t want to come—he could watch this for fucking ever, he decided, watch Castiel ride him and use him and make him a vessel for his own pleasure.

Yes, ahh—yes.” Castiel was reduced to simple words, but that was still better than Dean was managing.

“I—” Dean swallowed harshly. “Gonna come—trying not to,” he eventually managed, almost English.

“Not yet!” Castiel cried out, his voice throaty and desperate as his own hand raced selfishly over his cock. “Just need—”

“Trying—” Dean explained, focusing on anything he could beyond the balloon of pressure down in his pelvis.

“Ahh! Yes— Good boy ,” Castiel praised breathily. Dean could feel Castiel spasming around his cock, and holy hell there was no way he could hold through that. “Such a good boy, so good…” Castiel fell to murmuring as Dean’s body betrayed him.

Through the haze of the moment, Dean saw Castiel gasping above him, gazing wide-eyed down at Dean beneath him as they both got through the first few overwhelming, post-orgasm seconds.

Castiel winced, raising up on his knees. Dean’s softening cock slipped out obediently.

Looking down, Dean saw the ropes from his bellybutton to his armpits. The pretty little knots were painted white with Castiel’s come. Dean groaned gently as he smiled, committing the picture to memory. It was art.

Aftercare took time. Castiel was methodical, removing the ropes, massaging out every inch of Dean’s skin that he uncovered, soft murmurs of praise tumbling from his lips the whole time. Dean glowed from the inside, feeling cherished, feeling appreciated.

He was Castiel’s good boy.

Castiel came back with thick, buttery lotion, then. He went over every inch of Dean’s body, not even just the places that had been tied—though he gave extra attention to those spots. He enjoyed the process, soothing the cream into Dean’s skin with the pads of his fingers.

Spasibo, moj mal’chik ,” Castiel murmured against his sternum. 

Dean grinned hazily, coming back to himself in stages. “You’re welcome…real, real welcome.”

Castiel huffed out a small laugh as he reached up to press his lips to Dean’s cheek. “I have some food I prepared earlier, and some water. Will you be okay for a moment, while I get it?”

Dean nodded, perfectly content and happy.

Once Dean had eaten the sandwiches and fruit that awaited him, Castiel fetched the clean comforter from where he’d stashed it at the side of the room and tucked them both up within it. “How are you feeling, Dean?” he asked, warm and soft.

“Fucking amazing,” Dean admitted, snuggling back into Castiel, enjoying being the little spoon. “A bit stiff maybe, from having my arms pulled back...but totally worth it. That was so much better than I even hoped it would be. You’re awesome, Cas. You’re really good at that, too…definitely want to do that again.”

“Very well,” Castiel said, humming the words happily above Dean’s shoulder as he curled across Dean’s back to look down at him, smiling.

“I’ve never had someone dominate me while bottoming before,” Dean said, thoughtfully. “That was…also fucking awesome.”

Castiel laughed, and the vibration of it rumbled against Dean’s back. “Glad to hear I didn’t disappoint.”

“You never do,” Dean said with a smile.

They lay quietly for a few more minutes, Castiel nudging a water bottle back toward Dean a few more times, before Castiel got up to turn out the light. Settling back into the pillows, they snuggled up for bed.

It was warm, and cozy, and Dean couldn’t remember feeling so content and relaxed ever before in his life. It was almost unbelievable that it was going to be Valentine’s Day in the morning, and that Dean would have to rush from the social security office to take the second shift at the bakery. It was bound to be long, and exhausting, and full of customers who demanded too much and appreciated too little. But it felt a million miles away.

How could I possibly not love you? Dean thought, pressing his cheek into his pillow. Two years, two months…whatever Cas decides to do, I’ll take it. Every last second, while I can.

Castiel shifted awkwardly on the mattress, pulling Dean out of his reverie.

“How’re you feeling back there?” Dean asked, wiggling his butt suggestively.

Castiel laughed, deep and rumbling against Dean’s back. “Not too bad, for now. It’s been a very long time though, so I think I will be sore in the morning.”

Dean grinned down into the pillow. “I dunno, there’s something kinda nice about your ass aching the next day. Though maybe not so much if you’re not used to it.”

“I agree,” Castiel said, and Dean could feel Castiel’s grin against his skin. “Even though I enjoyed it very much…I think I prefer things how they usually are, for us. It’s a nice change sometimes though, hmm?” Castiel paused for a moment, his words quiet in the darkness. “Thank you,” he continued after a moment. “It was nice to share that with you, Dean.”

Dean rearranged the bedding around his front, fidgeting to cover the fact that his chest twinged and swelled oddly. “It was pretty awesome,” he agreed, as casually as he could. “Could probably be persuaded for round two, just sayin’.”

“We need to sleep,” Castiel murmured gently into the back of Dean’s neck. His big, warm arms resettled over Dean, smoothing across his ribs and down to his stomach.

Humming happily at the sensation, Dean snuggled backward into Castiel, fluffing the pillows so they didn’t bunch under his neck. “You’re right,” he said, suppressing a little yawn. “Just one more busy day, though, then we can relax for a while. No deadlines for you, quiet time until Easter for me.”

Castiel nodded, nuzzling his nose into the nape of Dean’s neck sleepily. “Sounds nice. How are you and Gabriel splitting the day tomorrow?”

“Gabe’s opening,” Dean mumbled sleepily, “so that I can go to the social security office with you. I’ll close the store and then we’ll head out for dinner with Charlie and Gilda.”

Prevoskhodno ,” Castiel said approvingly.

“Oh,” Dean said suddenly, even though his voice crackled with the sleep his body was demanding he had. “I was thinking that tomorrow would be a perfect opportunity for us to tell Charlie.”

“Tell her what?” Castiel rasped thickly, barely more awake than Dean, by the sounds of it.

“About us.”

Castiel stilled, and Dean heard him suck in a slow breath. “About…us?”

There was something almost…hopeful, Dean thought, in the Russian’s voice. Dean tried his best not to let that sting—surely, he wasn’t that keen to tell Charlie that their relationship was a fake arrangement. “Uh,” Dean said, clearing his throat. “Yeah. Tell her that this is all just…y’know.” He shrugged. “Fake. That we’re not really together or anything, just doing this all for paperwork.”

For a long moment, Castiel was silent, and Dean thought he might have fallen asleep, but eventually he mumbled, “Yes, I suppose you’re right. It’s as good a time as any.”

The streetlamp outside did a poor job of illuminating Castiel’s bed, the moon even more so, and the darkness and warmth and quiet soon lulled Dean back toward sleep, until he felt the mattress shifting softly behind him. Castiel was moving, pulling his arm from under Dean’s neck and getting out of the bed by the feel of it. Groggily, Dean lifted his head from the pillow.

“Cas?” Dean mumbled sleepily. “Y’okay?”

“Yes, of course,” Castiel said very quickly, his voice oddly tight. He reached out to smooth a hand over Dean’s shoulder beneath the bedding. “Sleep. I just need to use the bathroom.”

Dean nodded into the pillow, drifting even as Castiel’s footsteps moved out of the room.

He woke up sometime later; he didn’t know how much. The bed was cold and empty, but he heard the shower running, so he figured Castiel had decided to do a more thorough job cleaning up the lube he’d used. Rolling over, Dean smiled at the cinnamon scent of Castiel’s pillows, and dropped back to sleep.



Chapter Text

The next morning was breezy and chilly, drizzly rather than frosty—a little taste of the spring they would hopefully soon get. Dean loved the fresh smell of rain in the early morning and the way it made his nose tingle. He inhaled deeply, before quickly dashing from the porch and keying Baby’s engine to life to warm her up. Once she was purring in anticipation, he ducked straight back inside, not wanting to get any wetter.

Shaking the raindrops from his hair like a dog, Dean shuffled his way to the kitchen, humming contentedly.

“Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy, out in the back seat of my ’60 Chevy…” Dean sang quietly to himself as he flitted around the kitchen, getting the coffee maker clunking and the toaster buzzing in the slightly-too-bright artificial light. It was a little before six-thirty, still early by most standards, and the sun was barely warming the horizon. The plan for the day required him and Castiel to be at the Social Security Office ready when it opened at eight-thirty, and they wanted to quickly hit up the grocery store before then. The faster all of that could go, the faster Dean could head to relieve poor Gabriel at the heart-infused, sugary, incredibly pink bakery.

It certainly wasn’t Dean’s favorite time of year. But no business owner in their right mind would turn down the bump in profits that Valentine’s Day brought.

“Workin’ on mysteries without any clues, workin’ on our night moves…”

Dean hummed a few more bars as he filled up a large to-go coffee mug for himself, before grabbing another down from the shelf. When the toaster went off, Dean quickly slathered the bread in butter and honey, just the way Castiel liked it, then dropped both pieces onto a napkin. He was ready, the car was warm, and…there was no sign of the Russian.

“Dmitri!” Dean hollered up the stairs. “Come on! I got you breakfast, and coffee!”

There was a low grumbling noise from above, and Dean heard Castiel’s socked feet slowly pad out of the bathroom. “Yes, coming,” he rasped, making his way down the stairs.

Dean waited in the hallway, looking up at Castiel as he descended. “Oh my,” he said, grinning. “Rough morning?”

Castiel squinted silently at Dean, before reaching to pull one of the coffee cups from Dean’s hands and taking a small sip, despite the temperature. He kept up the little gulps for another minute, before shoving the cup back in Dean’s direction so that he could put his boots on.

A few more minutes later, Dean had Castiel settled in the passenger seat of the car, taking bigger mouthfuls of coffee and nibbling on the edge of his gross honey toast. He was crumpled, but at least he looked somewhat put-together with his tan trench coat over the top. His hair, though…

“C’mere,” Dean said, gesturing for Castiel to lean toward him. “Did you come back to bed with your hair wet? You look like you slept with your fingers in a socket.” He reached out, leaving Baby to idle on the pavement for a moment while he sunk his fingers into the thick, unruly strands at Castiel’s crown and began gently raking them forward, combing it into some semblance of order.

Castiel recoiled, jerking his head away. “It’s fine,” he snapped, before dropping his eyes guiltily. “I mean…I have it. Just drive.”

Dean frowned. “Drink your damn coffee, asshole,” he said, shaking his head. Mornings, who liked ‘em.

By the time they reached the grocery store, Castiel’s toast was long gone and he’d sipped the last of his coffee. His hair was still fucked though, of course. As Dean straightened up from the driver’s side and locked the car, Castiel came around in front of the hood and gave him a sheepish little smile.

“Good morning, Dean,” he said.

Dean gave a little chuckle. “Good morning, Cas. Ready for the day, now?”

“I don’t know about that,” Castiel replied, his lip quirking into a small smirk.

“Well, let’s get some food for the house as fast as we can, then hopefully we’ll have time to grab another coffee before we drive over to the Social Security office.”

The grocery store was blissfully warm compared to the chill air outside, and it didn’t take Dean long to strip off his coat and drape it over the handle of their grocery cart. They moved methodically along the aisles, taking little side trips here and there as each of them thought of things that they needed.

“I’m going to go grab cheese,” Dean said, leaving Castiel poking at the fruit. The Russian squeezed it and moved it around and generally paid far more attention to what he was picking up than Dean ever did, but Dean wasn’t going to complain. Castiel would be the one who’d probably end up feeding it to him, after all.

“Alright,” Castiel rumbled distractedly, squinting at a melon like it had personally offended him. “You Americans do love your strange, plasticky cheese. I’ll grab paper products once I’m done here.”

“Sounds good, Dmitri,” Dean replied, leaving the already half-full cart with Castiel.

The dairy section was only a couple of aisles over, but Dean got a little distracted on arrival. So much cheese. Humming Enter Sandman to himself, he walked back and forth, picking out some goodies to go with their usual staples. Arms full of blocks of colby jack, cheddar, and gouda, bags of grated mozzarella and Mexican blend, Dean was searching for the melty kind he could stick on quick burgers when a familiar voice spoke up from behind him.

“That is a lot of cheese, Dean Winchester.”

“Lisa!” Dean exclaimed, turning sharply and fumbling his armload of dairy as he faced her.

Laughing, she reached out and steadied a block of errant American cheddar, tucking it more safely into the crook of his elbow. “You need a cart,” she pointed out.

“Cas has it,” Dean explained, jerking his head over a few aisles. “I left him to do the healthy stuff.”

“Ahh,” Lisa replied with a teasing tone. “So, not much has changed in the relationship department for you when it comes to the grocery shopping, then.”

Dean gave a little snort. “You know I’d live on burgers and pie if it was just me, same as always.”

“Early to be doing your weekly food haul, isn’t it?” she asked curiously. “Or does your poor husband have to get up as early as you do?”

“He doesn’t have to,” Dean said defensively. “But for whatever reason, he chooses to keep the same schedule as me. He works from home, so he makes his own hours.”

“Aww,” Lisa said softly. “That’s kinda sweet, honestly.”

“I guess I don’t need to ask why you’re up so early.” Dean gestured to Lisa’s clothing. She had her hair up, and she was dressed in tight, calf-length gym pants and a sports bra, an unzipped hoodie thrown over top.

“Oh, yeah,” she said, laughing, looking down at her neat black sneakers. “I already taught one class this morning—they hired me back over at the Y, which is great, and I’m working on getting my own yoga studio open downtown.”

“That’s amazing, Lis,” Dean said warmly, meaning it. He’d been bitter about Lisa and Ben leaving his life for a long time, that was true…but things were markedly different, now. “I gotta introduce you to Cas. He loves yoga, does it every single day. He’s even had me rolling around on the floor like a bug dying on its back.”

“You?!” Lisa exclaimed, laughing openly. Her hand came forward, resting on Dean’s elbow as she leaned in, whispering conspiratorially. “Now that’s how I know you really must love him, Dean. We were together all that time, and the only time I could get you all bent up was in bed.”

“Oh, god…” Dean laughed, pushing playfully back on Lisa’s shoulder. “You remember that time when we went up to your dad’s cabin and I sprained my back trying to—”

“Oh my god, yes!” Lisa burst out, the hand not on Dean’s elbow coming up to cover he face as she laughed. “Fuck, that was so funny. I haven’t thought about that in such a long time. You were walking like a penguin…”

They both stood, chuckling and shaking their heads, and Dean was glad for their ease. When Lisa left, he never thought they’d be able to have this, again—they’d been friends for such a long time, before they’d dated, come and gone from each other’s lives since high school. But Dean hadn’t handled the perceived rejection so well, when Lisa had taken Ben out of the state for over a year to care for her mom. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, in the end, but he was certainly hoping that now—after some time and distance—they could be friends again.

“How’s Ben settling back in?” Dean asked.

“So well,” Lisa said, lighting up. “No more fights at school, no more acting out. He’s doing so good. Speaking of—how are you doing? Last time I saw you was at the Roadhouse…”

“Ah, yeah,” Dean said, shrugging and peering down past his cheese to look at his knuckles. “I’m good, really. The whole thing was dumb as shit. Kit and Cole are just assholes. I healed up real quick.” He grinned fondly, adding, “I think Cas kinda enjoyed getting to look after me for a couple days, to be honest.”

Lisa gave his arm a squeeze. “I’m glad it wasn’t worse, and that you had him after.” Her chocolatey eyes darted to the left, looking past Dean uncertainly. “Is, uh…is that him? Or is there another tall, handsome guy just staring at us?”

Dean looked back up, stepping back from Lisa as he turned to look up the aisle.

Castiel was standing still, at the very beginning of the aisle that Dean and Lisa stood at the end of. He resembled a spooked deer, frozen and unable to stop staring. One of his hands lay idly on the side of the cart, the other arm wrapped around an economy-sized package of toilet paper, clutching it to his chest. His beige trench coat hung around his thighs, and his unchecked-morning hair was still very evident, making Dean smile. When he realized Dean had spotted him, he ducked his head quickly, dropping the paper rolls into the cart and beginning to slowly make his way down the aisle to them.

“Yup, that’s Cas,” Dean said, smiling fondly.

“Shame,” Lisa said, winking flirtatiously up at Dean. “He’s a looker. If he wasn’t yours, I might have had to adopt him, welcome him to the country.”

Dean shook his head, laughing as Castiel approached. “Sorry, Lis. This one is all mine—Cas,” he called out, gesturing for him to hurry on down. “Come meet Lisa.”

Castiel came to a stop next to them, but remained on the other side of the cart, gripping the handle. “Good morning,” he said, nodding politely to Lisa.

“Hi, I’m Lisa,” she said, giving Castiel a little wave before she finally reached past Dean to grab a pot of yoghurt.

“Lisa…” Castiel repeated, sounding polite but confused.

“Oh—Lisa and I dated, back before you came here,” Dean explained, realizing that he’d never had any reason to mention Lisa to Castiel. “She moved back in to town a while ago, and we keep running into each other.”

“Ahh,” said Castiel, giving a little nod and a polite smile in her direction, before turning back to Dean. “We should hurry—the Social Security office opens in thirty minutes, so we need to hurry and get the food home if you wanted to have time to grab more coffee.”

“You should stop by Jo’s,” Lisa chirped cheerfully. “It’s right there on that side of town if you’re headed to the Social Security office anyway. Dean loves that place.”

Castiel blinked slowly.

“Of course I do,” Dean agreed, grinning. “It’s Jo’s! Don’t get down there often though, don’t often have a lot to do that side of town.” To Castiel, he explained, “Jo that you see at the Roadhouse sometimes, Ellen’s daughter. She and Ash have a coffee shop and gaming café down on 3rd—she went to school with me and Charlie and Lisa, and she makes a mean dark roast.”

“I see,” Castiel said, his eyes flicking between Dean and Lisa briefly. “Well, we should definitely hurry then, and see if we can get some.”

Nodding his agreement, Dean reached over to dump his cheese into the cart before turning and opening his arms, offering Lisa a hug. She stepped forward, squeezing him back with a small smile.

“It was really good to see you again, Dean. We need to see each other deliberately, sometime. As long as it’s not weird, or anything,” she added hurriedly.

“Not weird,” Dean confirmed, grinning. “My number is still the same, so call me, yeah?”

“I will,” Lisa confirmed, before turning back to Castiel. “It was nice to meet you, Cas. I’ll have to get Dean to bring you down to my studio when it opens,” she said, waving as she moved away with her yoghurt.

“Studio?” Castiel asked quietly, pointing the cart in the direction of the register.

“Oh, Lisa’s a teacher. Pilates, yoga…bendy things, your kinda stuff. I bet you two would get along. She’s an awesome woman.”

“So I see,” Castiel answered, short and quiet.

 

x

 

They didn’t have time to stop by Jo’s and so the Starbucks drive-thru had to do. It wasn’t Dean’s favorite coffee, nor Castiel’s, but they grimaced their way through the burnt-tasting mess just for the caffeine. By the time they got to the Social Security office there was already a line, though luckily there were only three people ahead of them.

Taking the pink raffle ticket that the woman behind the plexiglass-shielded reception desk told them to pull from the machine, Castiel strode ahead of Dean and into the waiting room. The seats were in awkward rows, just like at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building—what was with government agencies, Dean considered grumpily, making everything feel as overwhelming as possible?

They perched on the edge of a row next to a fierce looking older woman—though Dean figured he’d probably look fierce too, if he had to yell at that many kids. His coffee done, though he could still taste it clinging to his teeth, Dean folded his fingers together and pushed his hands down between his knees.

“So, we wait?” he asked Castiel.

Castiel nodded next to him, his trench coat rustling. “Yes. Wait,” he repeated, staring straight forward into space.

Alright then, thought Dean. Still not feeling chatty this morning, or quite awake, maybe. Fair enough.

Dean let Castiel sit in silence with his bundle of documents on his lap, giving him the space to wake up. It wasn’t like Dean didn’t often need that himself, on early bakery days. He pulled a magazine from the table at the end of the row and tried to distract himself with Oprah’s most recent charitable exploits.

Their number was finally announced overhead when Dean was in the middle of taking a quiz to find out which handsome movie hunk would be his ideal boyfriend. With a sigh, he tossed the magazine down; he guessed now he’d never know if he was destined to be with Chris Hemsworth or Jason Momoa.

The answer’s both, anyway, Dean thought idly as he followed Castiel through the unmarked door to…another waiting room.

“Come on,” Dean muttered. “Every damn time.”

Castiel raised an eyebrow as Dean settled into the seat next to him. The second waiting room was smaller. It had booths all around the outside where suited officers sat, talking somberly and accepting documentation as it was shuffled under the gaps in yet more glass panels.

“Coulda brought my magazine,” Dean grumbled under his breath.

“If I’m keeping you from something,” Castiel said primly, “then you don’t have to be here.”

“Alright, prickly pear,” Dean said fondly, knocking his knee into Castiel. “You need more coffee as soon as we’re done here.”

“I already had coffee.”

“Well you could use more, believe me.”

Castiel frowned, opening his mouth for some kind of retort, when their number was called out yet again, this time in a deep, British-accented voice. His head snapped up, following the sound, and he gathered his package of paperwork back up again, standing and striding away from Dean.

“That was quick, at least,” Dean muttered, following the sweeping trench coat as it strode across the room.

The man in the booth who had summoned them, their number flashing overhead on a pixelated screen as he repeated it again loudly, was stocky and dark haired, with equally dark eyes and slightly pasty-looking skin. “Good morning,” he welcomed them, not the least bit welcoming at all. “How can I help you today?”

Dean’s eyes searched the man’s desk as he settled into a cheap plastic chair next to Castiel. A tiny name plaque to the side of the computer announced him as Fergus Crowley. Went with the accent, Dean supposed, though he’d have expected a little more Scottish. He was sat in a low spinny chair behind a tiny desk, with single monitor in front of him and a scanner off to the side. He had an array of stamps next to him, thick and heavy-handled, and several ink pads. Yeah , Dean thought, he looks like the self-important, stampy kind.

“I’m here to register for a social security number,” Castiel rumbled politely, beginning to open up the flap of the thick, manila envelope that he’d stashed all of his immigration papers and related documents in.

“I’d never have guessed,” the man said, a little cattily, Dean thought. “My name is Mr. Crowley. This shouldn’t take long…assuming you have everything I need of course.”

“Well, I brought everything that I—”

“I’ll tell you exactly what I need in a moment,” Mr. Crowley interrupted Castiel bluntly.

Dean looked over at Castiel, raising an eyebrow, but Castiel was focused on the way Mr. Crowley’s fingers were tapping furiously across his keyboard. He looked nervous, but Dean didn’t really know how to reassure him, what with the mood he’d been in ever since they arrived. Actually, thinking about it…Dean realized that Castiel had been in an odd mood all morning. Ever since they’d woken up, in fact. In fact, the last time he’d seemed himself was when they were…hmm.

Looking across at Castiel, Dean frowned slightly to himself.

Mr. Crowley was still typing away, ignoring Castiel, so Dean reached across, gently touching Castiel on his shoulder to get his attention.

Castiel jumped, blinking, before shaking Dean’s hand from his shoulder. “What?” he asked quietly, still frowning.

“Just…are you okay?” Dean whispered back, just as quiet.

Scowling harder, Castiel shook his head. “Now isn’t really the time, Dean,” he bit out.

Well…he wasn’t wrong. Later, then. Dean held his hands up in apology and leaned back in his chair, crossing his ankle up onto his knee. It could wait.

“I-766,” Mr. Crowley barked.

“Uh, sorry?” Castiel said, sitting up straighter, blinking.

“Give me your I-766,” the administrator said slowly, like he was talking to someone stupid. “Do you speak much English?”

Dean saw Castiel’s jaw tic. Thank goodness, Castiel managed to bite back whatever response he wanted to give, and calmly—if somewhat grumpily—respond with, “Yes, I do. Which form is the I-766? I have everything here, but the numbers all sound the same.”

Mr. Crowley rolled his eyes. “Your employment authorization document. It’s what they mail you back when you first apply for residence and they allow you to work while you wait—”

“Yes, got it,” Castiel interrupted roughly, tugging a stiff, red-printed paper out of his package and slipping it under the partition separating them from their simply delightful social security administration officer.

Mr. Crowley picked up the document with two fingers, looking at it with obvious displeasure before he moved it over to the bed of his little desktop scanner.

“Anything else?” Castiel asked.

“Patience,” Mr. Crowley rumbled, frowning across at Castiel.

Dean stayed quiet, but he noticed Castiel’s fist clench lightly on the edge of the chair, even as he smiled back at Mr. Crowley peacefully.

The asshole made them wait a full ten minutes while he clicked around his screen and did…well, Dean had no idea what he was doing, other than being as much of a dick as he could. Dean started to get antsy, tugging his phone out of his pocket and checking the time repeatedly, pressing the button over and over to illuminate the screen and then black it out again. When he looked back across at Castiel, Castiel was staring at him pointedly.

Dean slipped his phone slowly back into his pocket.

“If you need to go, then go,” Castiel whispered when Crowley picked up the phone and started talking loudly to someone on the other end about bringing down a stack of forms he needed.

“No,” Dean whispered back, frowning. “We were gonna get through all this crap together.”

“I can do it on my own, Dean.”

“I know you can,” Dean bit back, bothered by Castiel’s snappish tone. “You’re capable of doing all of this by yourself, but usually you want me to do this stuff with you!”

“Doesn’t mean you have to,” Castiel hissed back. “You can do whatever you want, and clearly you’re bored. You don’t have to stay on my account.”

“I don’t get why you’re being this way—”

“Birth Certificate,” Mr. Crowley interrupted them flatly.

Castiel scrambled, pulling out both his Russian language original and the English translation documents to accompany it that Sam had notarized for him months ago. He shoved them at Mr. Crowley before he turned back to Dean.

“I’m not being any kind of way, Dean. I’m just saying you can go and get to the bakery rather than sitting here with me. I can take a cab, you know.”

Dean blinked, fighting down the annoyed buzz in this chest. “I know you can, but why should you have to? I want to be here, Cas.”

“Do you?” Castiel said, loudly enough that Mr. Crowley cleared his throat and tapped on the glass.

“If you’re ready,” he said snidely, “I need you to confirm your address on the screen below and sign it on the touchpad portion.” He pointed down to the small screen on their side of the partition.

Castiel exhaled slowly, his shoulders slumping, and he glanced apologetically up at Mr. Crowley as he shuffled his chair closer to the screen, picking up the black plastic pen on a string that hung from its side. “Apologies,” he said quietly. “Yes, that address is all correct.”

“Date of birth?” Crowley went on, sending a stream of information over to the touchpad for Castiel to confirm and sign, over and over.

Dean watched for a minute, before pulling his phone out of his pocket again. He really did need to get to the bakery. Whatever was up with Castiel, they could argue about it later.

 

x

 

Upon arriving at Trick or Sweet, Dean tried his best to put his poor mood and worries aside. Whatever was up with Castiel, it’d be okay. Hopefully, they’d have a few minutes after Dean finished work, before they had to run out for dinner with Charlie and Gilda; they could sit down and talk then. Damnit, whether Castiel wanted to or not, or said he was okay or not, they’d sit down and talk.

Maybe it was time for Dean to clarify a few things, as terrifying as that might be.

Even if Castiel didn’t know the extent of how important he was to Dean, didn’t realize that Dean was in love with him…he had to know how much Dean cared about him, surely? Maybe Dean hadn’t said it, too afraid of making a mess, but…he had to know, right? Well. Tonight, Dean would make sure. Even if Castiel didn’t return his feelings, he couldn’t have Castiel thinking that he wasn’t important, that even if he only wanted friendship, he wasn’t one of the most significant people in Dean’s life. That he wasn’t family, and that Dean wouldn’t do anything for him.

But for now…cupcakes, and sprinkles, and swimming-pool sized vats of damned pink and red frosting. (The dye was a bitch to get out of everything.) And, crucially, giving poor, stressed Gabriel some relief.

Dean changed into some spare white chef scrubs in the bathroom at the back, before pulling out his phone. He took a deep breath and sent a couple of quick messages to Castiel.

 

 

>> Hey. Hope everything goes fast at the office. Sorry if said something wrong. Maybe we can talk, tonight?

>> I just want to make sure we’re on the same page about some things.

>> Remember we’re meeting Charlie and Gilda at 7

>> Please wear real pants

>> Or warn me if you’re not gonna so I’m not the odd one out in a suit

Shoving his phone back into his pocket, Dean washed his hands and dived in.

It was six hours later by the time Dean raised his head for air. Pulling out his phone in the kitchen after washing sticky sugar from his hands, Dean noticed that Castiel hadn’t responded yet—but it was gone three in the afternoon. That explained why it had finally started slowing down.

All morning they had been besieged by hapless romantics wanting chocolates and pastries and fancy cakes for desserts. Why everyone always left it until the day of, Dean would never know; it wasn’t like a box of chocolates wouldn’t keep for twenty-hours. But, regardless, he couldn’t help the thrum of pride in his chest at his busy, buzzing bakery. Gabriel, too, was smiling and pleased looking, despite how run off their feet they had both been all day.

Poking his head out into the front of the café area, where Gabriel was grabbing the chance to clear tables, Dean called out, “Hey Gabe—you wanna quickly run out and take a break, before the after-work crowd hits?”

“Yeah,” Gabriel said gratefully, hauling a big gray plastic tub of dishes up onto his hip and heading past Dean, through the doorway and toward the big, industrial dishwasher in the back. “That’d be great. I’ll just run down the street and grab some hot food, okay? You want anything?”

“Fine by me,” Dean said. “I have dinner plans right after we close, so I’ll skip food, thanks. Grab me a newspaper though?”

Gabriel was already untying his apron, his hairnet flying off into the trash can as he took the opportunity to flee. “Sure thing, Dean-o!” he called back, already darting out past the register and toward the door.

Dean had been doing this job far too long to waste time relaxing while they had no customers, on a day like today. He wiped down the counters, he restocked the chocolate case and the pastry case and the large cloches of big cakes for slicing that lived on the top. He refilled Gabriel’s tempting candy dishes and refreshed his trays of scones and made sure they had enough coffee beans in the machine. Dean was a whirlwind, and he’d barely registered any time passing before the door slammed open, the bell above clanging loudly with Gabriel’s return.

“Dean!” he yelled, not even looking up as he hurried inside, a gust of cold, drizzly air following him as he elbowed the door shut with one arm, his other occupied with a brown bag of greasy food. His attention was fixed downward on a folded wad of paper—until he looked up, and raised it, to wave at Dean. “Have you seen this?!”

“Seen what?” Dean said from behind the counter, his gloved hands full of chocolate strawberries.

Gabriel unfolded the copy of The Lawrence Tribune that he was brandishing so gleefully, moving around to shove the headline in front of Dean’s face. “Look!”

Local Auto Shop Closed Amidst Investigation, Dean read. He looked up at Gabriel, blinking. “What—”

“Go on!” Gabriel said, his voice filled with barely-constrained joy. He was practically vibrating.

“Trenton & Verson Auto Care workers have been put on paid administrative leave by order of a County judge after an investigation was opened into the automotive repair shop’s working conditions,” Dean read aloud, his eyes widening in shock. “Lawrence Police received an anonymous tip-off that the owners, Cole Trenton and Kit Verson, both Lawrence residents, had some irregularities in their bank accounts—”

“Bottom of the page!” Gabriel interrupted, sounding like he’d burst if Dean didn’t read the whole thing, now.

Dean shuffled downward, the paper damp between his fingers as he skimmed in amazement. “Trenton and Verson were undercutting their competition by illegally employing undocumented workers, holding their passports hostage while paying them below minimum wage—son of a bitch, what a hypocritical piece of—”

“And look!” Gabriel chirped, jabbing his finger at a paragraph in the middle. “Singer Auto has offered to take on all of the customers left stuck by the closure, and to hire on the workers they were mistreating to handle the workload!”

“Sounds like Bobby.” Dean was beaming from ear to ear. “He always hated those two; that’s why he fired them back when they used to work for him.”

“They sure got their comeuppance for being such sour-butts about you and Cassie,” Gabriel added, still grinning. He moved into the back of the store and began to unpack the paper bag he’d been cradling in his arm.

“Sure did,” said Dean. He put the newspaper down under the register, out of the way of flying sprinkles, flour, and spills, planning to take it home to show Castiel. It was only when he was straightening back up that he thought, Wait a minute…

Whipping his phone out of his pocket, he grinned down at his screen. Still no reply from Castiel, but he had a message from Charlie verifying the time for dinner. Quickly, he fired out a couple of messages.

 

 

<< Yeah 7 is still fine

<< Just saw the paper

<< What did you do?

Immediately, Dean’s phone pinged back with a response.

 

 

>> Nothing you can prove

<< Seriously? That was you, Ms. Anonymous Tip-Off?

>> I don’t have any idea what you could possibly be referencing, handmaiden

>> But it was well deserved

>> He should’ve known better than to mess with my boys

“Fuckin’ Charlie,” Dean let out under his breath, before chuckling quietly. He’d worry that one of these days she’d get caught, but that was ridiculous. She’d already been offered a job she “couldn’t talk about” for after graduation…she was just too damn good.

This, Dean decided, was the best Valentine’s Day ever.

Both he and Gabriel kept their buoyant moods for the rest of the day, and the time flew by. Before he knew it, Dean was flipping the sign on the door and turning off the lights, and Gabriel was chasing the last of the eternal pink sprinkles around the chair legs with a long-handled broom.

“If you wanna get going, Dean-o, you might as well,” Gabriel said. “Go have fun on your double date. Kali didn’t even want to do anything tonight, so I’ll finish up.”

Dean didn’t miss that Gabriel sounded the tiniest bit put out. “She didn’t?” he asked curiously. “Doesn’t she usually love your ridiculously over the top attempts at affection?”

Gabriel shrugged, gesturing helplessly, broom still in one hand. “Yeah. She hasn’t been herself for weeks, though. She’s up early every morning, she’s been really off, barely eating—wouldn’t even touch the wine I opened for her on the weekend. She just wants to stay in tonight, just the two of us. I can’t even figure out what I did this time.”

Early mornings? Barely eating? No wine? That sounds like Jess when she…

“Uh, Gabe…” Dean began slowly. He opened his mouth again, before snapping it shut. Nope. Gabriel could work that one out on his own. “You know what, I have a hunch you’ll have a great night, even staying in. Trust me on this one,” Dean went with instead, winking.

Gabriel looked skeptical. “Sounds boring. But okay.”

Biting his lip in amusement, Dean ducked his head and slipped back behind the register to check the chiller was locked and grab his coat. “Well, thanks for letting me duck out early again, bud. I owe you!” he called back over his shoulder.

Gabriel’s jovial response was lost in chill wind as Dean opened the back door, a swift gush of drizzle hitting him in the face. He was momentarily glad that he’d driven to work for once, until that led him to remembering why that was the case.

Breathe, he thought. This is gonna be fine. Sit down and talk to Cas, make sure we’re good. Then go out and have a fun meal with your electronic-superhero best friend and her long-suffering wife. Gonna be awesome.

Baby purred a content welcome, much happier with the light, weightless rain than the freezing sleet she’d been facing over the exceptionally chilly winter.

“Alright, girl,” Dean murmured under his breath to the Impala as he guided her out of the small lot at the back of Trick or Sweet and onto the street. “Gonna go and talk to Cas, make sure he’s feeling good—then off to go and get yelled at by Charlie, probably.”

Even though Dean’s evening didn’t, at first, sound like it was going to be the best—he was not looking forward to hearing what Charlie had to say about them faking a marriage for immigration purposes—there was still a buzzing lightness in Dean’s chest; He was going to make sure that Castiel knew how important he was, he was going to have a delicious dinner and see a friend he missed like crazy since she’d started her PhD.

Pulling up in front of the townhouse, Dean checked his phone for the time. It was almost six-thirty. Having to be at the restaurant before seven made things tight, but Dean was confident he could throw his suit on in under ten minutes. If necessary, he figured, he could always talk to Castiel in the car—he’d be a captive audience, then, after all.

“Cas!” Dean shouted as he ducked through the front door, keys jingling, shaking raindrops from his hair. “I’m home! You ready to go?”

The townhouse was pretty tiny, so Castiel not answering at all was a little suspicious. Unless he was still in the shower, Dean realized. Kicking his boots off quickly, Dean left them on the hallway floor—which was completely clean and devoid of shoes. Castiel must have been on one of his tidying-up kicks while Dean was at work.

Taking the stairs two at a time, Dean headed up to the landing. Standing outside the bathroom, he knocked sharply. “Dmitri! Gabe let me go a few minutes early, but we still need to—”

There was no sound of running water, Dean realized, and as he knocked, the bathroom door swung slightly open, revealing the empty, dark interior.

“Cas?” Dean called again. “You here?”

A strange sense of foreboding settled around Dean. The house was too quiet. It hadn’t been this quiet since last summer, it felt like.

Suddenly everything seemed off. Silent and somehow…not like home. Not right then.

“Cas?” Dean tried again, barely yelling anymore as he approached Castiel’s bedroom door. His hand hesitated in mid air before pushing the door. What if Castiel wasn’t in there, either? What did that mean?

He was being stupid, Dean told himself. He was overreacting. He was…right.

He was right.

The door slid open slowly, revealing a freshly cleaned guest room. The bedding was folded into a neat pile on the end of the bed. The bookshelf was clear, and the closet door—open a couple of inches—revealed an empty hollow within.

Dean’s chest, already aching with nerves, became an instant empty hollow of it’s own.

Swallowing harshly, Dean dragged his wide, and suddenly incredibly dry, eyes across to the desk, blinking furiously.

Castiel’s precious typewriter was gone.

All that rested on the wide, estate sale desk that Dean had so carefully restored before Castiel’s arrival was a simple white envelope. On the front, in Castiel’s easily-identifiable ink scrawl, it simply said, “Dean.”

Dean felt like he was in slow motion as he moved across the room, reaching to wrap his fingers around the thick, fancy stationery. Castiel would be the type to have the nice kind, Dean considered dully.

Not sure his knees were going to make it much longer, Dean backed up, knocking the neatly piled bedding carelessly aside as he sat down on the edge of the bed. His fingers trembled as he carefully peeled the envelope open. Within, of course, was a letter in the same dark ink Castiel always used. Dean unfolded it, before suddenly blinking, and sticking his hand into his pocket to grab his phone.

It rang once, twice.

“Hey loser. You here already?”

“Charlie,” Dean said, his own voice sounding distant and strange. “I don’t think we’re going to make it to dinner.”

This, Dean decided, was the worst Valentine’s Day ever.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Dean wasn’t sure how long he’d sat at the end of the bed in Castiel’s room— the guest room, again , he registered dully—before he became aware of a commotion on the front porch below the window and knocking on the front door. No, not knocking… frantic, desperate banging.

He wanted to just stay right there, in this room that recently had become more like home than his own. His alarm clock was still plugged in, an innocent dull light of red numbers on the nightstand. The bedding, tumbled across the mattress from its neatly folded pile, was soft and familiar. But other things, the empty shelves, the cavernous, accusing closet, the uncluttered desk…they made the room feel alien, and wrong, like it belonged in someone else’s house entirely.

“Dean!” came a deep, comfortingly familiar voice: his brother. “If you don’t let me in right this damn second—”

“I’ve still got my old keys, move your giant moose ass over—”

Dean couldn’t help a vague, watery smile. Sam and Gabriel were constantly snapping at each other when they were together. He’d never worked out if they genuinely didn’t like each other, or if they liked each other a little too much.

“My what now?! Really? Like you’d even be here if it wasn’t for us!”

A third voice familiar voice butted in. “Guys! Shut up and get inside!”

Dean frowned, shaking his head slowly and thinking about getting up to open the door. But, he didn’t. He just sat, his fingers desperately crushing the edges of the letter he’d carefully refolded (and unfolded, and then refolded again, and shoved in and out of its envelope fifty times by now). 

He was still too afraid to read it.

What if it said the thing that the tiny voice in the back of Dean’s head was saying? That Castiel had got his Green Card in the mail, and he had his Social Security number now, so he was gone?

Got what he wanted.

Left.

Because Dean had never meant anything.

No, his rational brain kept insisting. That can’t be right. You know better than that…you know Cas better than that. It was hard to hear his rational brain, though, over the loud, jarring ache of a crying heart.

It sounded like a herd of tame elephants crashed right through Dean’s front door, but instead, it was Sam that appeared first, his giant four-head wrinkled with concern as he stood in the open doorway of the guest room.

“Dean?” Sam asked, low and careful, immediately stepping up to the edge of the mattress. “What happened?”

Dean didn’t get a chance to answer before the rest of the circus troupe squeezed their way into the bedroom. Sam was followed by Charlie, who was followed by Gabriel, who was followed by Jess, who was followed by Kali and Gilda, both of whom hovered near the door, peering anxiously at Dean.

Sam, Charlie, Gabriel, and Jess didn’t have quite their level of reserve.

Dean was trying his best to hold back tears and force his voice to do something suitably flippant and manly when Sam stepped forward, bending down to crush Dean’s head into his chest where Dean sat at the end of the mattress. All Dean could manage, then, was to croak out, “He’s gone, Sammy.”

Charlie clambered up on the mattress to his left, shoving all the jumbled bedding aside, and Gabriel climbed up to his right. There was an awkward, multi-height group hug situation for a long minute.

Until Gabriel pulled back, and smacked Dean firmly around the back of his head.

“Ow! What the fuck, Gabe?!”

“Oh, come on,” Gabriel grumbled. “We all know this is your fault somehow.”

“Gabriel!” Kali reprimanded from her post near the door. The slim, stunning Indian woman glared chastisingly across at her husband. With high cheekbones, waist-length jet-black hair and a gorgeous complexion, she was breathtaking even when she looked furious—Dean had often wondered how his annoying, tiny runt of a friend had landed a woman like her. Yeah, he was cute, but clearly, funny counted.

“It’s okay, Kali,” Dean said dully. “I’m sure he’s right.”

Sam pulled back, clapping Dean on the shoulder before he stood back up to his full height, freeing himself from his awkward squat. “Did you try to talk to him?” Sam asked quietly. “Is that why he left?”

Dean dropped his eyes to the carpet, finding a spot right in front of Jess’ scuffed white running shoes to focus on. “I, uh, no. I planned to. I was actually thinking that we’d talk tonight, or…I was gonna try and work up to it, anyway.”

“Talk about what?” Charlie asked, still cross-legged on the mattress next to Dean, sounding as confused as she did concerned.

Dean looked up again, turning his head to look at Gabriel, unsure what he should say.

Gabriel shrugged, looking around the room at the assembled little group before he said, “It wasn’t real.”

Charlie squinted, her green eyes snapping to Gabriel and boring into him with laser intensity.

“It was all fake,” Gabriel clarified, quieter. “Their marriage, their whole epic romance. Cass-butt just needed a way out of Russia, so… Dean agreed to help him get a Green Card.”

“What?” Gilda said from the doorway, stepping inward slightly, her voice louder than Dean had ever heard it. “But we saw you together! You…” she trailed off for a moment, exchanging a confused look with Charlie. “You were perfect!” she announced.

Charlie turned her glare to Dean with a sour pout. “Dean Winchester, you are an absolute goddamn idiot.”

“Hey!” Dean said defensively, reaching up to run his hands through his hair, tugging at it stressfully. “It was Gabe’s idea!”

“Not that, you nerf-herder! You’re seriously telling me”—Charlie folded her arms, simmering dangerously—“that you spent the past six months with Cas, with someone who looked at you the way he looked at you, and you think that was all fake?”

“Yes,” Dean breathed out shakily.

“Well then someone call the Oscar committee,” Jess suddenly announced, drawing Dean’s attention up to her. “Can you honestly look back at the past half-a-year and say that there wasn’t one sign that Castiel wanted you, too? Not one?”

“Oh, please,” Gabriel snorted, tossing his blond hair back before he tucked it behind his ears, standing up from the mattress where he’d been kneeling. “They’ve been having sex for a couple months already.”

“What?” Sam barked out, looking utterly scandalized.

“Quit clutchin’ your pearls, Samikins,” Gabriel grumbled, rolling his eyes. “Like you hadn’t suspected they were flashing ankles, just like I did.”

“Gabe!” Dean said, scowling. How did he even—

“You’re not the only one who confides in your brother, Dean-o. I’ve been privy to your spectacularly poor attempt at a ‘friends with benefits’ marriage for a while, so spare me.”

“So, do you know where he is, or”— if any of it ever meant anything, Dean desperately wanted to say, but did not—“if he’s coming back?”

“Sorry,” Gabriel said, shaking his head. “I knew some things, but this is a surprise. I thought we were getting closer since he’d moved here, but not that close, I guess.”

Dean felt himself deflate a little further.

“Alright!” Charlie announced loudly, steamrolling whatever response Sam had been about to butt in with, his prissy-looking expression trained firmly on Gabriel. “Dean—just tell us what happened, okay? We can argue over who has the dumbest ass later.”

His eyes falling back to the letter in his hands, Dean shrugged. “He left. We…we, uh, last night, we were together, and it was great. Or at least, I mean…it was great for me, I guess. This morning he was kinda off and we had a stupid argument about nothing, but it wasn’t—it wasn’t this, I didn’t expect to come home and find him just…just gone.” Fuck, his voice was shaking, and his chest was tight, and his knees were bouncing, and did everyone have to keep looking at him like that? Like was the last fucking puppy at the pound?

“Oh, Dean,” Jess said softly, somehow turning just his name into an outpouring of compassion that made Dean’s chest throb all over again. “We’re so sorry. This must hurt a lot.”

Gilda, sweet, gentle Gilda, still sounded confused as she leaned over toward Kali, asking quietly, “But I thought they weren’t really together?”

“They weren’t. Not officially,” Sam clarified as Kali nodded along. “Friends with really stupid benefits, it seems like. But Dean was…” He flicked his eyes to Dean, but then shrugged sadly. “Dean was in love with him anyway.”

“Ohhh,” said Gilda, understanding lighting her eyes. “Well, that sucks.”

“What did he say?” Charlie asked, finally adjusting her legs to sit next to Dean on the end of the bed rather than kneel on the mattress as she gestured to the letter Dean still clutched.

“I, uh, I dunno,” Dean confessed. “I haven’t read it yet.” There was another thump to the back of Dean’s head, and he turned to glare up at Gabriel, who looked totally remorseless. “Hey, aren’t you supposed to not kick people when they’re down?” Dean grumbled.

“I’m not kicking you, I’m whacking you at best. Now, read that damn letter,” Gabriel said.

Slowly, Dean looked down at the envelope in his hands. It was creamy, heavyweight paper with a buttery texture. The ink on the front came from a thick black ink pen that Castiel usually had rolling around his writing desk.

Dean looked up at the vintage desk opposite the end of the bed. Still empty.

He felt nauseous.

“Would you like us to step out?” Jess asked sensitively. “So that you can read it by yourself?”

Dean blinked slowly, tearing his eyes from the paper again. “Why—why are you even all here? And how?”

“You sounded totally heartbroken on the phone, Dean,” Charlie offered. “You kept saying Cas was gone, and you wouldn’t really talk, so obviously I hung up and called Sam right away. Gilda and I got here first.”

“Yeah,” Sam picked up the story from Charlie. “It only took me a couple of minutes to work out what was up, and obviously we raced straight over.”

“I called Gabriel while Sam took Mary around to my mom’s,” Jess chimed in.

“And we scrambled straight here,” Kali spoke up softly. Dean registered for the first time that she was wearing fuchsia pink, silk pajama bottoms underneath her coat. 

Great , Dean thought. It’s not enough for me to constantly fuck up my own life, I’ve gotta ruin everyone elses evening, too.

“Good thing, too,” Gabriel butted in. “None of you other geniuses thought to bring any keys!”

Dean felt overwhelmed, like he might cry again, though for a slightly different reason. Growing up, family had been a small, constricting world, after his mom died. But these people… somehow, he’d made a whole new family, over the years. Blinking furiously, he looked back down to his lap. “Well, sorry to disappoint you all, but I’m not sure I can read this.”

“What? Why?” Charlie asked.

Dean couldn’t help but huff incredulously as he looked back up at her. “Why the fuck would I want to read in depth about how he left, now that he got what he needed? I can see that already, Charlie!”

The black hole that had come into existence behind Dean’s ribcage swirled bigger, spinning and dragging more and more of him into it as he used the words aloud. He left. He got his green card, and he left. He left…me.

“Oh my god,” Gabriel exclaimed. “Can I hit him again?”

“Not if I do it first,” Sam ground out, running a hand across his face. “Dean. Read the damn letter.”

Slowly, the weight of his friend’s eyes pushing him down further onto the bare mattress, Dean tugged out the letter that he’d been fidgeting with from within its envelope once more. He was embarrassed to see his fingers shaking as he unfolded the letter, the way the paper quivered in the air making it obvious, to his abject shame.

He didn’t want anyone to see him like this, fuck. This wasn’t—he didn’t—

“Come on,” Jess said, just loud enough for Dean to hear. “Everybody out. Stop crowding around him like a pack of hyenas—lets go downstairs. Give him a minute to pull himself together.”

Jess, Dean remembered, was the best sister-in-law a guy could ever hope for. He’d feed Sam to a clown if he ever screwed that up.

In begrudging agreement the crowd began to disperse, leaving Dean alone in the empty room once more. He listened to them pour down the stairs, whispering between themselves as they moved into his kitchen below.

The letter was still there, in his hands, though.

Dean, it began. Already, something in Dean’s chest twisted. That wasn’t the name he wanted to see.

I can’t do this anymore, Castiel continued . I’m so sorry. I should never have let it get this far. I should have freed you from this agreement, or never made it in the first place. But, here we are, so now I am going to do the right thing, finally, and let you get back to your life.

“It’s not you, it’s me.” It’s a silly, trite saying, isn’t it? But in this case, it really is true. You haven’t done anything wrong, Dean. This is all on me. My selfishness, my weakness.

I don’t want to put you through this anymore. It’s not fair to you. It never was, and I’m sorry.

I’d hope that you won’t hate me for leaving, but I realize that isn’t likely. And I won’t blame you, if you hate me. But at least if I go, you’re free.

Dean frowned down at the paper. Castiel was apologizing for leaving, but at no point did he explain why he was leaving.

I wish you the best in absolutely everything, Dean. I won’t forget you.

Yours always, he signed simply, Dmitri.

Suddenly furious, Dean crushed the letter, balling it up in his hand, and hurled it toward the desk. It didn’t even make it there, too light, plopping lightly down to the floor instead and rolling a gentle couple of unsatisfying inches. It made Dean feel even more pathetic.

The letter told him nothing, really, and only strengthened the voice in his head telling him that Castiel had gotten what he came for and fled. That Dean had been seeing what wasn’t there, hoping for what wasn’t there, for months.

Slowly, his joints creaking and aching, Dean pushed himself up off the mattress. He might as well join everyone downstairs, he figured. He knew his brother and friends…there was no hope they’d leave until he went down.

Dully, through his aching head, he hoped that he could persuade them to leave, soon.

He wanted to grieve in peace.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be. He walked into the kitchen, finding that—as he suspected—there were still six concerned people jammed around his tiny kitchen table and leaning against his counters.

“Beer?” Sam said quietly, opening Dean’s refrigerator to offer him his own beverages.

Dean shrugged. Why not. Later, when he could get five minutes to sink into the ache in his chest without anyone watching him like he might crumble at any moment, he’d upgrade to bourbon. But beer was a start. “Sure.” He stood in the doorway, looking around at all the concerned, sad faces, and his heart just twisted further.

“So…” Charlie said, a tiny grimace on her face that she seemed to try visibly to push away. “How’d it go? Did the letter say why he left?”

“No,” said Dean shortly, taking the beer from Sam with a nod. “It didn’t.”

“I’ve been trying to call him,” Gabriel said from where he leant against the edge of the sink. “He won’t answer. So, either he thinks I’ll be mad at him, or he’s embarrassed, or really upset.”

“I dunno why he’d have any right to be upset,” Sam bit out, suddenly erupting angrily. “He’s the one that ran away and left Dean with nothing but a fucking note!”

Jess’ hand came to her husband’s arm placatingly. “We don’t know why he left, Sam,” she said softly. “There could have been a misunderstanding.”

Gabriel stared glumly down at his phone, and for the first time, Dean registered that if Castiel had left him, he’d left Gabriel too.

“I’m sorry, man,” Dean said quietly, moving across to lean next to Gabriel, his back to the toaster. “You just got used to having him here, huh?”

“Yeah, well,” Gabriel said, far too flippant. “I should know by now that my family is trash and everyone leaves. My dad, my bothers. Family sucks.”

Family. Oh, shit. Dean’s eyes widened as he suddenly looked over to Kali, where she sat the kitchen table, at an angle to him, in her pink silk pajama pants and dark, fluffy winter coat. They were having a night in. I ruined—

Kali caught his eye, frowning at him thoughtfully.

“Your family isn’t all like that, Gabe,” Dean said quietly, staring at Kali. “Right? And I mean, you can make a new one. You have already, with Kali.” He gave Kali a little half-smile, and she tilted her head at him curiously, a pleased yet puzzled smile pulling at her features.

Even Gabriel squinted at Dean oddly. “Sure,” he said. “But now isn’t really about me, Dean.”

Dean shrugged, looking back at Kali again. “Might as well be. No point in my misery bringing everyone down.”

“Oh, Dean,” Jess said. She moved up to his side and looped her arm through his, leaning into Dean and resting her cheek on his shoulder. “You’re not bringing us down. There’s nowhere any of us would rather be, I promise. Honestly, I—all of us, me, and Sam, and even Gabriel—we were convinced that the two of you were just meant to be together. We were so sure that he loved you. This doesn’t seem real.”

“Yeah,” Dean answered dully. “Well, he left and he didn’t even tell me why, so…”

“Yeah,” said Sam quietly, on his other side.

 

x

 

The early spring drizzle that had been bathing Lawrence on and off all day had grown into full rain by the time Dean walked his herd of concerned guests to the front door. He didn’t want them to stay. Not that he didn’t love them all and appreciate their kindness and concern…but he wanted to be alone.

He had an appointment with his bed, a whiskey bottle, and Netflix.

There was yet another round of hugs before they all moved down the short path to the pavement, shoulders hunched and collars turned against the rain.

“I’m gonna come by and check on you tomorrow, you know,” Charlie announced, turning to look back at Dean.

He smiled, trying his best to look like he wasn’t a shell of the person he’d been an hour before. “I’m fine,” he lied. “Just peachy.”

Squinting at him disbelievingly, Charlie almost walked into the mailbox at the gate, causing the front of it to swing open. She reached to shut it, before frowning and sticking her hand inside to grab the contents. “You need to check your mail more often,” she grumbled, shoving a pile of flyers and envelopes at him.

Dean shrugged carelessly, stepping briefly out into the rain to grab them from her. “I usually check it in the mornings, but Cas and I were in a rush to get groceries before we had to head to the Social Security office,” he said quietly. “Just forgot.”

Charlie made a regretful face, but whatever her response was to be got overtaken by Sam suddenly marching back up the path toward Dean, frowning curiously.

“What’s that?” he said, tugging one of the letters from Dean’s hand and sticking his finger into the flap, beginning to tear it open.

“Sam! What the hell?” Dean blinked in surprise, reaching out for the letter in confusion. “Why the shit are you stealing my mail?”

“It’s not your mail!” Sam said, his voice raising. “This is Cas’s mail! I know these envelopes, I see them all the time!”

“Wha—” Dean began, as Sam shoved the ripped, empty envelope back toward him. In the top left-hand cover, light gray letters announced the return address of I-551 Processing Department, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services. The sight of it stole the rest of the words from Dean’s mouth.

Gabriel, Jess, Charlie, Gilda, and even Kali had stopped entirely or dashed back, and they were all huddled around Dean’s gate in the rain. Sam unfolded the papers from within the envelope hurriedly.

“Look, Dean!” Sam announced, shoving the paper back toward Dean. “I knew this was what it was!”

Dean blinked.

Sam held up a sheet of simple, double-spaced white paper, with a blue U.S.C.I.S. logo at the top. The words were barely discernible in the rain, but Dean didn’t need to read them—Sam’s confusion was made clear by the plastic, credit-card sized I.D. that was attached to the bottom.

It was Castiel’s Green Card.

“Wait a minute,” Gilda spoke up, her words barely carrying through the weather. “Why would he leave without his Green Card?”

Dean wasn’t sure what was happening to him. His breathing felt ragged and it was a struggle to punch each and every breath from his lungs, his lips sealed tight against the odd trembling that had overcome them. What was happening? Why had Castiel left if he didn’t have this already? Wasn’t this what he’d come for?

Without really realizing he was doing it, Dean reached out for the letter. Sam let him have it, and then Castiel’s face was peering up at him from shiny, green plastic. He looked calm, stoic, a slight smile resting on his lips.

Probably only someone who knew him as well as Dean did would see the nerves in his eyes in that picture, would see how anxious he’d been the day it was taken, the first time they’d driven up to Wichita.

But Dean did know him that well, he realized. He knew Castiel, and this wasn’t right. This couldn’t be right.

If not because he’d got this, and achieved his goal…then why did he leave?

Yours always, Dmitri.

The back of Dean’s neck was slowly soaking a puddle into the rest of his clothes as raindrops slid down his nape and under his collar. He wanted to believe that Castiel meant that the way Dean would mean it. But he was afraid. He looked up, and six pairs of eyes were staring, confused, uncertain.

“I don’t know,” Dean said finally. “I thought he—I thought he got what he came for, so he left. But I guess…I guess that’s not it.”

“So why did he leave?” Kali asked, her soft sing-song voice confused and frustrated.

“I don’t know,” Dean replied hopelessly.

“What did the letter say?” Sam asked again, pushing. “Are you sure—absolutely sure—that there was no clue at all? Did it say where he was going, even?”

“No,” Dean said, something like panic beginning to rise from his stomach and taint the back of his throat with bile. “I don’t know, I don’t even know where he is, or why he left, or— fuck, I don’t know anything!” He cussed loudly, the heels of his hands coming up to his face to rub the rain (definitely not tears) from his eyes.

“Okay,” Charlie’s voice cut through the rising wind that was whipping the rain into a storm. “Those who can stay, back inside.”

A minute later, they were all gathered around Charlie as she sat next to Dean at the kitchen table. Open before her, retrieved from the awful yellow Gremlin she called a car, Charlie’s laptop came to life.

“Alright,” Charlie announced, linking her fingers together and cracking her knuckles in a way that made Gilda cringe. “I am going to find where this dumbass Russian is, and I am going to give him a piece of my mind. Uh, Dean—I mean, Dean is going to uh, talk to him.” She smiled sheepishly as she logged in to her profile.

Sam barely hid his small snicker. “How are you going to find him, Charlie?” he asked curiously.

“I’ll start with his phone—gimme his number, Dean. If you know who his cell phone provider is, that’ll make it quicker.”

“Uh, yeah,” Dean said, pulling his phone from his pocket. He was dazed, uncertain, having no idea if Castiel would even want to be found, but proceeding anyway. “Here,” he said, angling his phone toward Charlie, “he’s actually on my plan, if that helps. Just another line. Couldn’t get his own without a Social Security number.”

“Oh, yeah!” Charlie said happily, grabbing Dean’s phone from his hand. “That’s perfect.”

The kitchen was tense and quiet for minutes as Charlie brought up screens that Dean was clueless about. Sam leaned over her shoulder curiously, pointing at various things and asking what they did, but her answers were short and eventually Jess grabbed ahold of Sam and dragged him away to the living room.

Dean sat on his hands, waiting, barely breathing.

Eventually, Charlie sighed. “His phone is turned off. Either he somehow knew that someone like me would be looking for him—unlikely—or he wasn’t sure he could trust himself not to answer if someone called, so he turned it off.”

Dean’s shoulders slumped, but Gabriel was right there, slapping him on the shoulder. “None of that. There are other ways, right Charlie? You’ve done crazier shit than this, right? I read the damn paper, I know that was you, with Cole and Kit.”

Charlie raised her eyebrows, saying nothing, but she gave Gabriel a small wink.

“What else can you try?” Dean asked. He didn’t know if finding Castiel was going to help—he chose to leave, after all. But maybe…

No, Dean wouldn’t think it.

But…maybe.

Charlie exhaled hard, reaching back to retie her ponytail. “I dunno. I could try to pull his credit card records, see if he’s used it for anything. But it’d take me a while to track down all that info—”

Dean was scrambling for his wallet already. “What if you had his bank account number, the one his royalty checks go to? It’s all Russian, but it’s probably connected to—”

“Yes!” Charlie exclaimed. “Why do you even have that?”

“He paid half the bills every month, and some rent. Always insisted. And he did it by bank transfer—always gave me all the info so I could check it.”

Charlie lifted her fingers to her lips, making a dramatic smooching noise as she chef’s-kissed the air. “Your handing me gold, Winchester.”

The kitchen was tense, the air thick with nerves as they all waited. Sam and Jess returned—Sam apparently under instruction to keep his enthusiasm under wraps, from the way he lurked at the back—and they all stood, silent and anxious.

Four minutes later, with some kind of password-cracking program rolling numbers at light speed up the screen, Charlie slowly exhaled. “Just a minute more, I swear…got it!”

“Got what?” Dean asked, shooting forward to the edge of his seat.

“I’m in his account—okay, he used the card to make a purchase, about thirty-five minutes ago.”

“Where?” Gabriel leaned in too, one arm on the table.

“Uh—” Charlie clicked and scrolled frantically. “—KC International. He’s at the airport.”

“He’s leaving…he’s going home.” The words registered slowly in Dean’s mind as they came out of his mouth, and his tongue felt dry. “No— no . He wouldn’t do that. Everything with me aside, he was scared, Charlie. He wouldn’t go back to Russia. He just wouldn’t. Can you see where the ticket was for?”

Charlie shook her head slowly. “Only what it cost, and that its with American Airlines. But American fly everywhere, domestic and international.”

“Where else would he go, Dean?” Sam asked. “Does he even know anyone here?”

Dean shook his head, slowly. “Not really—except us, and the rest of Gabe’s family.”

Gabriel straightened immediately, digging his phone out of the pocket of his white chef’s pants. A minute later, he was hanging up and shaking his head. “Michael says he hasn’t heard from him, so he’s not headed to Detroit. Knew that was a long shot—and even less likely he’d go to Luke.”

Dean bit his lip until it throbbed. Where else would Castiel go? He’d made friends in Lawrence, but other that all he did was sit at home and write his…books. Of course.

“New York.”

Charlie looked up. “New York?” she questioned Dean, looking confused. “Why?”

“Tessa—his agent. She’s the only other person he knows here,” Dean explained hurriedly, reaching to take his wallet from the tabletop where he’d left it.

“New York,” Charlie announced, her tone a confirmation. “Flight AA605. Prices look about right to what Cas paid, and there’s one leaving Kansas City in about an hour and a half, they’ll probably start boarding in an hour. That’s gotta be it.”

Dean pushed his chair back, rising to his feet without a word.

“Dean?” Sam asked carefully. “Where are you going?”

“I—” Dean froze, opening and closing his mouth. Where was he going? Castiel clearly didn’t want to talk about why he was leaving. If he’d wanted to, he’d have said more in his letter. But…

Always yours, Dmitri, the letter had said.

Everyone was staring at Dean.

“I’m going to the airport,” he choked out.

“Dude,” Gabriel said, “even if you drive like crazy, it’ll take you forty minutes to get there. That only leaves you twenty to get into the airport and find him.”

“I know,” Dean said, his words coming out thick and heavy. “But I’ve got to try.”

“Dean,” Sam spoke up then, softly. “If he chose to leave, then maybe following him isn’t the best idea. He clearly didn’t want to tell you why he decided to go.”

“Maybe so,” Dean said, feeling suddenly calm as he spoke, his fingers wrapping tightly around Baby’s keys and pulling them from his pocket. “And I can’t change that. But, what I can do, is make sure that he knows why I don’t want him to.” His cheeks flushed slightly, but he didn’t take it back.

“Oh,” Jess breathed out, hearts in her eyes. “It’s just like Love Actually,” she stage-whispered.

“That movie was set at Christmas,” Kali hissed right back. “And even when the kid found her, she still left!”

Gabriel elbowed his wife in the ribs, shushing loudly, and hustled Dean toward the door. “Well this ain’t a goddamn chick flick, folks, so let’s go!”

 

Chapter Text

“Move your giant moose-self over. How am I supposed to breathe?”

“I could barely see you down there, it’s not my fault that you’re so—”

“Oh, funny, Sam, so funny! I’ve never heard that I’m short before. Should be used to looking down, sasquatch like you!

“You’re on my side!”

“That is my side—”

“It’s my car!” Dean roared over top of both Gabriel and Sam, already regretting letting them come with him. “Everything is my side, now shut up or I’m leaving you both!”

As no one except Charlie and Gilda had the good sense to have brought their cars to the townhouse, both Sam and Gabriel had squashed themselves into the back of the Impala. They hadn’t even made it to the end of the street before they’d started squabbling like toddlers.

Dean had to admit that having his brother and found family around him was a comfort, no matter how annoying they could be. Travelling to Kansas City International Airport in the Impala by himself would have been a lot more peaceful, but—as Sam had immediately pointed out—it would have given him way too much time with his own thoughts. As it was, his fingers tapped intermittently on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, and his chest felt achy and tight.

This is a stupid idea, the little demon on his shoulder kept saying. He left you. Take a hint, dude. Luckily, there was an equally chatty angel on the other side, who kept telling him that it didn’t matter—he had to try. He needed to look Castiel in the eyes and ask him to stay. Make sure that he knew Dean wanted him to stay.

There was a thwack behind Dean as Sam swatted at Gabriel for something-or-other, and an offended squawk as Gabriel slapped right back. For two people who were annoyed merely by the other’s presence, Dean often mused, they sure couldn’t keep their hands off each other.

Next to Dean on the front bench, her laptop out in case there were any “updates”, sat Charlie. She turned her head, looking sideways into the back seat for a moment, before returning her eyes to Dean. “You ever wish those two would just fuck it out?” she mumbled.

“All the damn time,” Dean grumbled. “But also, so much not.”

Gilda had definitely got the long straw, driving Charlie’s Gremlin behind them so that she could take the merry band home once Dean got to the airport. Jess had left the group to go and get little Mary from her mom’s house, and Kali had excused herself from the trip as she wasn’t feeling well. Dean looked up into his rearview mirror, watching the hideous yellow car tailing him closely. Gilda looked so peaceful, driving back there by herself, he thought wistfully. Though God knows how Sam was going to fit into that Gremlin on the way home.

Unless, of course, Dean’s brain unhelpfully provided, you don’t get to Cas in time. Or he’s still determined to leave, because you’ve got this all wrong…then Sam can ride home with you.

Dean’s stomach lurched, and he accelerated a little further.

“Woah, no need to drive like a maniac,” Sam grumbled from the back as Dean shot around the corner, pulling them onto I-70 to head toward Kansas City International Airport.

“Kinda on a time crunch here, Sam,” Dean said, squinting through the dark, rainy night to make sure he was in the right lane.

Sam sighed, for once not doubling-down on insisting that Dean drive like a grandma. The car was silent, beautifully silent, for several long minutes. Dean was about to reach over and turn on some music to distract himself from the way he could feel his heartbeat in the back of his throat, when Charlie cleared her throat and spoke again.

“So, precious handmaiden. When, exactly, did you plan on telling me you were faking it, huh?”

Dean’s hand froze in midair, before slowly pulling back from the radio. “I, uh, well. Would you believe me if I said I was going to do it tonight, at dinner?”

“Excuse me if I’m skeptical.”

“I really was,” Dean protested, before sighing. “I know I should’ve been honest with you from the start. It’s not a reflection on you or anything, Red. I know you can keep a secret. But it wasn’t just my secret, y’know? And Cas didn’t know you.”

“I guess,” Charlie allowed, still sounding put out.

“And if I’m honest,” Dean admitted, fixing his eyes firmly on the damp, shiny tarmac ahead, “I guess I just…I put it off because the more people I had to tell, the more times I had to say it. And I didn’t want to say it.”

Gabriel let out a long, irritating aww-ing noise from the back. Damn it, he’d been quiet for almost five minutes. A record.

“Be glad you were at MIT, Charlie,” Sam said. “You got to remain blissfully ignorant and didn’t have to endure Dean’s pining. He was such a dumbass about it.”

“I was not!”

“Were too! You remember Christmas?” Sam shot back. “Watching you while Cas played with Mary was vomit-inducing. And that time you invited us over for dinner to—”

“Alright, alright!” Dean frowned harder at the road, which wasn’t moving by quite fast enough for his liking. “Bitch.”

“Jerk,” Sam replied automatically.

Charlie, after throwing a look into the back seat at Sam, pouted a little. “Well, maybe for you it was annoying, but I’m kinda pissed that I missed out on watching my best friend fall in love.”

“Don’t worry,” Gabriel offered. “We can fill you in on how the room went into soft-focus the first time they met. Cas’s expression might rarely change, but Dean-o is an open book.”

Dean’s fingers tightened involuntarily on the steering wheel, his lungs filling with prickly needles whenever he breathed in. It had been obvious to everyone else. Except, maybe, to Castiel.

Unless it had been obvious to Castiel, too, and this was his way of telling Dean thanks, but no thanks.

Dean swallowed hard.

“Hey,” Charlie said softly, poking Dean in the thigh in a sharp, annoying counterpoint to her gentle tone. “Whatever you’re thinking, stop it. I’m totally convinced that Cas loves you. When I met him, and we all had dinner…he looked so adoring, Dean. You can’t fake that kind of thing.”

“But it was fake,” Dean pointed out glumly.

“Well, what about you, Gabe?” Charlie said, turning in the front seat, shuffling her laptop to the side so that she could loop her elbow over the back of the bench and turn to Gabriel. “Do you think Cas fell for Dean, too?”

“Until he ran off…yeah, I’d have put money on it,” Gabriel confessed. “He never told me that he was in love with him. He doesn’t talk about that kinda stuff easily. But I knew he had a crush, that there was something physical there, at least.”

For the first time—far, far too late and somewhat amusingly—a thought struck Dean. “Gabe—uh, I know you suggested this whole Green Card thing, but, if…I mean, if this goes well, I guess, if things turn out, I mean…are you okay with it? With me dating your brother? We’d still be cool, right?”

Gabriel snorted. “Just drive faster, idiot.”

Despite Sam’s protests, Dean did just that.

It was late enough in the day that the after-work traffic was mostly gone, thank God, and Dean didn’t run into any major obstacles on the way up to Kansas City. He managed the drive in thirty-five minutes, which was great time… but he still had to find somewhere to park Baby, and work out where to go, and hope that Cas was still there, and that he even wanted to—Fuck, he was panicking.

Heart thumping, chest constricting, ears ringing, Dean headed for the exit ramp, sole-focused, his knuckles aching around the Impala’s steering wheel.

“Charlie!” Dean found himself barking frantically as he pulled off I-70. “Find out which terminal I need to be at!”

“Yeah,” Gabriel piped up, leaning forward over the bench seat so that he could peer at Charlie’s laptop. “Use those cyber-sleuth powers for good!”

“Terminal C, then gate eighty-four!” Charlie announced proudly. “His flight isn’t direct, so he’s headed to get his connecting flight in Charlotte.”

Dean cursed low under his breath, pulling Baby sharply into the next lane and causing a cacophony of angry honking behind him in the dark. With one hand still on the wheel, Dean dug around in the pocket of his loose, white pants—he was still wearing his Trick or Sweet uniform—and pulled out his wallet, throwing it at Charlie. “Book me a ticket!”

“Yes, Commander!” Charlie said sarcastically, but Dean could see her smile as she grabbed the wallet, flicking it open quickly.

“Sorry,” Dean grimaced, briefly flicking his eyes over to her. He didn’t mean to be an asshole, he really didn’t—he was tense, and panicky, and his heart still felt like it was bobbing around in his chest like a dinghy on the open ocean. It made him feel strangely seasick.  

What if he got there, and he was too late?

What if he wasn’t too late?

“Okay,” Charlie said, clicking frantically. “You have a seat—gimme your phone, we don’t have time for you to print tickets, so you’ll have to check-in via email and do it that way.”

Dean had very little experience with flights of any kind, as he generally avoided airports at all costs. Pulling his phone from his other pocket without even taking his eyes from the road, Dean handed over his phone. “Gotcha,” he said vaguely, having no idea at all.

“What if he’s already on the plane, Dean?” Sam said quietly, speaking up from the back seat for the first time in a while.

“Then I guess I’m getting on a plane,” Dean said, determined, swallowing desperately against the bile in his throat as he pulled into the airport parking complex.

 

x

 

Thank God, he wasn’t going to have to get on a plane. Castiel’s flight wasn’t boarding yet, the screens everywhere overhead informed Dean. So, he was still in the airport, somewhere. Probably headed for, or already at, his gate.

Dean had said a shaky goodbye to his wonderful—and damn stubborn—friends outside in the parking lot. He didn't have time for checking and being mad at how much the airport parking cost, or even to stop and watch as Sam curled himself awkwardly into Charlie’s yellow Gremlin, with Gabriel practically in his lap in the back, no matter how funny the sight would have been.

Instead, Dean had gathered up his courage and dashed into the airport. He’d made his way through security...eventually. He got a very invasive pat down from an understandably suspicious TSA agent who thought it was a bit odd that Dean was trying to travel to New York with only a phone and his wallet, dressed in a bakery uniform and a lot of pink sugar sprinkles. Dean tried to explain he was only here to try and tell his husband that he was in love with him, but that didn’t speed things up any. Eventually, all of Dean’s touchy spots had been invaded as much as TSA could, and every orifice had been cleared for takeoff.

Now he just had to get to the gate in time.

Dean shoved his way through the crowds, following the neat signs to the gates. He finally got past the first batch of duty-free stores, not even slowing to glance at them (though a bottle of whiskey for courage did sound pretty damn good). Finally, to his left, the first gate in this wing of the airport appeared.

Gate 45.

Fuck.

Castiel’s flight was going to leave from Gate 84. Math might not have been Dean’s strong point, but he could work that equation out. It equaled “run faster.”

Dean began slaloming his way through the crowds, pushing and sorry-ing and careening past trollies of suitcases.

BING-BONG! Overhead, a bland, bored-sounding female voice announced, American Airlines Flight A-A-6-0-5 to Charlotte, please begin boarding. Priority passengers—

Dean didn’t even hear the rest, putting on a burst of speed.

He was glad for the running, the dodging, the shortness of breath. It was something to focus on other than the way his chest ached from a feeling that wasn’t exertion at all. It was a distraction from the little voice in the back of his head that screamed a constant, self-deprecating commentary.

Why are you even bothering to run, Dean? He left you.

He didn’t want to be with you. He left you.

None of it meant anything, Dean. He left you.

He’s gonna laugh at you. He’s gonna get on the plane anyway. He’s not going to care if the thought of him being gone blasted a hole clear through your chest.

The hole ached, like it hadn’t been a letter that Castiel left in the guest room— his room —but a smoking shotgun, already aimed between Dean’s third and fourth ribs.

Gate 72.

BING-BONG! American Airlines Flight A-A-6-0-5 to Charlotte, now boarding all first and business class passengers…

Dean was sweating, and people all around him were looking at him like he was some kind of security risk, crashing past people with shouted apologies and scaring children. Why was everyone so slow? Didn’t they know how important this was? There were people just standing on the motorized walkways, idly staring down at phones, blocking the way with huge motherfucking suitcases that could easily have held Dean’s entire wardrobe.

Cursing them all under his breath, Dean vaulted over the side of the walkway, dodging around the idle commuters, and running onward.

Gate 79.

BING-BONG! American Airlines Flight A-A-6-0-5 to—

“Shut up!” Dean yelled, making the people around him jump.

Gate 81.

…What was he even going to say?

Gate 82.

…FUCK.

Gate 83.

And then…

Gate 84.

Dean caught sight of himself in the shiny metal reflection of a well-polished barrier wall between the gates: red-faced, panting, wild-eyed. He hurtled forward, only to be stopped by the extended arm and concerned frown of a suited security guard, making some kind of noise about seeing his ticket and I.D.

But Dean didn’t care, didn’t answer—because he could see Castiel.

Head down, Castiel was digging in the pocket of his stupid trench coat for his ticket. It was crumpled, and he nervously flattened it, over and over, as the boarding queue edged up toward the door. He moved onward, stepping forward as everyone else did, his smallest suitcase trundling along next to his ankles. He’d probably tucked his typewriter into that one to keep it safe, Dean registered in the back of his mind, while the security guy moved to bodily block the entrance gap in the barriers. Castiel’s hair was disheveled, the result of it being tugged and pulled. Dean could read the stress in Castiel’s frame like he could read one of his books. His eyes, Dean noted, were red-rimmed, and he looked the most unkempt that Dean had ever seen him in a suit.

The security guard was still talking, and he wasn’t moving his arm.

“CAS!” Dean shouted, registering the security guard’s request to see his ticket finally. He shoved his phone in the guy’s direction, frantically trying to scroll to his ticket with one hand.

Castiel looked up instantly. Dean was too far away to hear his gasped breath, but he saw it fall from Castiel’s lips as they parted, his jaw hanging for a moment before he snapped it shut, blinking hard. “Dean?” he called, confused, frowning, a shake to his voice that carried over the space between them.

“Look, dude, I have a ticket, really—” Dean was protesting, finally finding the email for the guy who was holding him back, and beginning to dive for his I.D. “CAS!” he shouted again, fear churning his stomach as the line began to move once more.

Castiel was at the front of the line.

There was no way Dean was coming this far and not getting to talk to Castiel.

“CASTIEL! Don’t you dare get on that plane, you SON OF A BITCH!

The entire boarding line turned to stare at him. The security guard jerked his head back like he’d been the one yelled at. The American Airlines employee checking Castiel’s ticket frowned deeply, looking over at the security guard in a way that clearly indicated he should deal with Dean.

Castiel looked down at his ticket. Looked back up at Dean.

Dean could see the way Castiel’s breathing was escalating, could see how his shoulders were tensing.

“Cas…please,” Dean called quieter, taking a step back and holding his hands up, unthreatening. The security guard eyed him, but responded to his posture by backing up, thank God. “Please,” Dean added again, extra pathetic.

The lady checking the tickets was saying something to Castiel, and he looked frozen.

“Five minutes,” Dean tried, feeling the fight leaching out of him, his shoulders slumping. “Please, that’s all I need. If you still want to go, then…then you can go.”

“You can’t hold up the entire airplane, ” the security guard snapped, though Dean thought there might be something slightly understanding creeping into his voice. “I’m sorry.”

“Then I’ll get on the plane,” Dean threw back. “I have a ticket, I’ll get—”

“Dean,” Castiel said, suddenly closer, the line abandoned. “You’re afraid of flying.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Dean said, gulping down the solid hysteria that was closing his throat, throwing his hands up helplessly. “But if that’s the only way you’ll talk to me, then—"

Castiel caught Dean’s hands in his and held on, grounding him.

“Please,” Dean said, just once more. He considered being ashamed of begging in front of all these strangers—who were all staring like this was the climax to a romcom—but he found he couldn’t care.

Who gave a shit about those people? He’d never see them again, and he didn’t care. Castiel was the only one he cared about seeing again.

Castiel let go of one of Dean’s hands, his own coming forward to rest on Dean’s sternum slowly. “Dean,” he said softly. “Breathe.”

One, two, tap, tap. In, out, tap, tap.

It was familiar, and it was touching, and it was…too much. Dean stepped back, just enough to dislodge Castiel’s hand from his chest. He had so many things he’d thought about saying, in the car on the way here, even while he was running.

Of course, the only thing he could squeak out was, “You left me.”

Castiel’s eyes closed for a moment, his head bowing. “I’m sorry.”

BING-BONG! Last call for American Airlines Flight A-A-6-0-5, Boarding Gate now closing…

“That’s all I get?” Dean panted out, trying to smile but grimacing half-heartedly. “I ran from Gate 45. I probably got a speeding ticket. I’m pretty sure I’m illegally parked. Your fucking brother saw me cry earlier. And all you have for me is sorry?”

Castiel’s mouth opened and closed, helplessly. “I—I don’t know what you want from me, Dean,” he said, sounding distraught.

“Excuse me, sirs,” the damn security guard butted in again. “Are you getting on the aircraft, or not? We’re barring the doors.”

“What I want from you,” Dean half-yelled, ignoring the security guard, his voice cracking and harsh and over-used, “is for you to look at me and tell me that you honestly want to leave. That I mean nothing to you, and that you don’t want to be here. That you don’t want to be with me.”

Castiel’s brow was wrinkling. He looked so confused and lost—but like a lifeline, one of his hands still held Dean’s, clamped tight. “Why would you possibly think I don’t want to be with you?” he said, his voice weaker and rougher than it had any place being. “I’ve been showing you what I wanted for months now. I thought—” his breath hitched, and he stopped.

The security guard cleared his throat.

The airport swam back into focus around Dean, like he was coming up for air after a long dive. Dean looked at the security guard, looked at the closed door, then looked at Castiel. “I think you missed your flight.”

Castiel nodded slowly. “Looks like.”

“Please stay,” Dean said, slumping as his last effort tumbled from his lips. “Please.”

“Can we—” Castiel looked around, as if he’d suddenly realized where they were, just like Dean. “Somewhere else?” he asked hopefully.

Dean nodded, not sure if he could speak any better than Castiel was managing. He had so much that he wanted to say, and even more that he wanted to hear. He cleared his throat, breathed. Tried again.

“We can go sit in my car,” he said. “We can talk. And then, if…if you still want to go, you can get the next flight.”

Blinking his tired, red-edged eyes hard, Castiel gave a wordless nod. “Alright,” he croaked out after a long minute. “Let’s talk.”

 

x

 

The lashing rainstorm hit Dean squarely in the face as the wide, automatic doors at the exit of Terminal C parted. It seemed that while he’d been Love Actually-ing his way to Castiel, the weather had taken a further turn for the worse. Dean, Castiel, and Castiel’s squeaky suitcase dashed to the Impala as quickly as they could. The rain was a refreshing, if freezing, jolt to Dean’s senses as he held Baby’s back door open for Castiel to put his luggage inside—what he had of it, anyway. His main bags were probably on their way to join his connecting flight to New York, in Charlotte…but that was a problem for later. Once the suitcase was on the back seat, Dean ducked his dripping self into the driver’s spot, followed by Castiel squelching his way into the passenger side.

For a moment the car was full of rustling as Dean and Castiel both wrangled their way out of their soaked coats and dropped them into the back.

Then, the car was silent. Outside, wind howled and thunder rolled, but inside the car there was only tense air and an uneasy hush.

When Dean’s breathing finally started to get too loud for his own ears, he cleared his throat.

“So,” he began eloquently.

Castiel cleared his throat in turn. “I’ll start,” he said quietly, directing his words to his kneecaps.

Dean nodded. That was a relief; things, he hoped, would start to make a bit more sense if Castiel would just talk.

The hypocrisy of his own thoughts didn’t escape him, but he’d come back to that when it was his turn to speak, he promised himself. Instead, Dean looked out of the window, watching the colored lights of departing planes glowing in the black sky overhead. It was gone ten o’clock by then, and the lateness of the hour wrapped around the car and gave them a private, intimate bubble.

It was awkward. Things had never been awkward with Castiel before. Dean took deep breaths, watched another flight take off.

“I’m sorry, Dean,” Castiel finally began, talking to a vague, inky spot on the horizon, at first. Then he drew in a deep breath, and turned on the bench seat, pulling up one knee just slightly so that he could face Dean. “I should have been braver and told you why I was leaving. I thought there was a chance you’d be angry, and I suppose I was right.”

“I’m not angry,” Dean said, butting in softly, shaking his head. “Yeah, you hurt my feelings. And I didn’t understand, and I still don’t. But if you felt that you couldn’t be near me anymore, I can’t really be angry about that, can I?”

“That’s not—” Castiel sucked in another sharp breath, cutting himself off. “You’re so self-deprecating, sometimes.”

“Well,” Dean said darkly. “People haven’t exactly given me reason not to be, y’know? They pull stunts like running away and leaving me while I’m at work.”     

Castiel cringed, his gaze dropping down to his lap. His fingers picked nervously at the material of his navy dress pants. “That’s fair; I deserved that. I realize now, how that must have seemed. But, as much as I’m sure you won’t believe it, I never intended to hurt you by leaving, Dean.”

Dean raised an eyebrow skeptically, but bit his tongue. He’d made it this far, so he was going to let Castiel talk.

“We were married purely on paper, Dean.”

Stomach sinking at the reminder, Dean nodded slowly at Baby’s steering wheel.

“But I screwed up.”

Dean’s head lifted a little, looking back at Castiel. His eyes were shiny in the odd, yellowy shafts of light from the huge floodlight that lit the parking lot. His fingers picked away at his dress pants, still.

“I—uh, I guess there were times where I just let myself forget that it was just paper,” Castiel admitted. “I let myself get pulled in, and for a while I, uh, well…”

Even in the yellowish light, Dean could see Castiel flushing red.

“I almost convinced myself that it was the same for you. That our relationship was changing, that maybe over time you’d come to feel the same as I did. That I could mean more to you than just an agreement, just a friend.”

Dean was holding his breath. The rain outside was beating down on the windshield, wind whipping around the Impala’s frame, and it made Dean want to hurry, want to jump in and word-vomit out all of his thoughts—but he held back, determined. He was going to let Castiel talk. They needed this; Dean needed this. He needed to know what was going on in Castiel’s head.

“But then…” Castiel began again, before pausing to bite at his lip. His eyes, even more puffy than they’d been in the airport, began to gleam and spill in the dim light, his fingers clutching at his thigh where the material of his pants pulled under his grip.

Dean reached out, finally stilling the movement of Castiel’s nervous hand with his own.

“Every time I thought we had something”—Castiel’s voice was cracking and breaking and bouncing around the car, and Dean wanted to reach out and pull him in, wanted to press apologies into his skin, but he couldn’t. Frozen. He’d done this; Dean was the one that had made Castiel sound like this, made him feel like this—“you’d make sure to remind me that nothing was real. That there were no feelings, for you. That this was just…a transaction. It hurt and it was stupid, but I couldn’t stop. After…after the last time, I had to be strong with myself. I couldn’t be broken in two anymore.”

The shafts of light from the floodlight outside made Castiel’s cheeks shine wetly. Dean wanted to reach out, but at the same time he wanted to scream at how badly he’d fucked this up. How had he made Castiel feel like that, and not even noticed? His chest ached, but no longer just for himself.

“Fuck, Cas, I…” Dean spread his hands out, before burying the heels of his hands into his eye sockets for a moment, pushing back tears, squeezing his eyes so tightly shut that golden fractals danced inside his eyelids. “I’m so sorry.”

Dean heard a heartbreaking sniffling sound before Castiel continued. “I couldn’t carry on with what we were doing, and also be wishing every moment was real.”

“Oh, Cas,” Dean murmured, fluttering his eyes open and turning in his seat. He just wanted to fix this. There was a lot of blame, a lot of miscommunication, they could be here forever dancing back and forth. He just needed to let Castiel know that they could fix it…if he wanted to. “Cas,” he said again, the leather of the bench seat squeaking as Dean turned, reaching out for Castiel’s face.

Castiel let his chin be lifted by Dean’s knuckle, red eyes squinting as he measured Dean up, blinking damp eyelashes as he studied his face wordlessly.

“Every moment was real,” Dean said softly, holding his gaze. “It stopped being anything to do with our agreement a long time ago, for me—if it ever even was. I was wanting and hoping constantly that it could be real for you…but for me it already was. Every single day.”

Castiel let out a shaky gasp that seemed to take all of his energy with it, his shoulders slumping, his face lolling forward into Dean’s hands. “You—you don’t mean that,” he said, but it was weak and unconvincing, a last-ditch effort, Dean knew, to protect himself.

“I do, Dmitri,” Dean said, smiling bravely. “And I think—I’m really hoping—that you want to fix this as much as I do.”

Castiel gave out a wet, gruff chuckle. “Of course I do.”

“What I don’t understand,” Dean said, knowing that now was the time to get every question out in the open, because if he didn’t then he might never, “is what changed. I can understand if you wanted to leave to protect yourself from feeling unwanted—God, I definitely get that, I can’t even tell you how much. But why now? Did I piss you off that badly, at the Social Security office?”

Slowly shaking his head, Castiel reached up to push his palms across his cheeks, rubbing away the stray tears that clung to his cheekbones and his stubble with an almost disbelieving laugh. “Dean, no. Come on, that’s not—I was just grumpy and upset already; that argument was just dumb. I was pushing you away because I’d already realized by then that I had to go. Or I felt like I had to go. I wanted you to be happy, Dean.”

Baffled, Dean shook his head. “Dude, why the fuck would you think leaving would make me happy?”

“Lisa,” Castiel admitted, his eyes dropping. “Or maybe not her specifically, but…someone. I was standing there, and I was already having the worst day because we”—Castiel cleared his throat again, forcing himself onward—“we’d had sex the night before, and it was amazing, and I messed up, again, and let myself believe it was more than it was, and then—”

Dean had to interrupt, then, couldn’t possibly keep his words in. “Cas! It was more to me—fuck, Cas, I—”

“And then”—Castiel looked at Dean pointedly, talking right over him—“you said that today would be the perfect time to tell Charlie. Tell her about us… about our fake, meaningless marriage. When I saw you with Lisa, I realized that I was being selfish. You clearly didn’t want more with me, and I was holding you back from the ability to be with someone else.”

Dean gulped harshly against the sour bile that lurched up from his stomach. He had done that. Every time he’d done shit like that, trying to protect himself, trying to reassure Castiel that what they were doing was fine, he could handle it…every time, he’d been hurting Castiel. And he’d done it so often.

Fuck.

By the time Dean had managed to get enough air into his lungs to respond, he was crying, too. Fat, shame-filled tears rolled down his cheeks and caught on his lips as he said, “Cas, no. You were so wrong. I was so wrong—I made such a mess of this. I didn’t want to be with Lisa, or anyone else. Only you . I thought I was protecting myself, thought that if I didn’t screw things up, I could at least get to keep part of you. Even though it was all of you that I wanted.”

And then, finally, they were reaching for each other. Arms tangling, burying wet faces in each other’s necks, leaning into a damp, awkward-angled, desperate hug on the bench seat.

“It was always real,” Dean whispered into the rain-damp collar of Castiel’s white dress shirt. “It was always real to me—it was exactly what I wanted.”

Against Dean’s collarbone, Castiel nodded; a small motion, getting bigger and more determined as the seconds passed. “Me too,” he eventually murmured into the side of Dean’s neck. “We might have called our relationship fake, but it was still the best one I’ve ever had. Every time we’d spend time together, or go on dates, or kiss…any of it. You always had all of me.”

Even having run through a rainstorm, Castiel still smelled warm, musky and familiar. Dean took a moment to inhale deeply, his heart thundering in his chest.

You always had all of me.

Dean pulled back slowly, making sure his motion was more invitation than rejection. His hands, previously spread out flat across the planes of Castiel’s back as he hugged him tightly, came up to rest on each side of Castiel’s neck.

Fuck, this was…wasn’t this the best outcome that there could have been, of this mad dash to the airport?

Dean certainly hoped so, but he had to check.

“Cas?” he asked, breathless, still nervous.

Castiel looked at Dean questioningly while he moistened his lips—as if the rain and tears somehow weren’t enough, he suddenly felt dry.

“Stay?”

His face splitting into a watery smile, Castiel nodded firmly. “I’ll stay.”

“With me?”

Castiel’s smile became a grin, his nod becoming more emphatic, and a small laugh escaping him. “With you.”

Dean had to close his eyes for a moment, because goddammit he did not need to cry any more than he already had. His cheeks hurt from grinning so wide, but he couldn’t stop—not until Castiel’s mouth suddenly pressed to his. Then there were no more thoughts of tears, or what-ifs, or lingering fears that Castiel didn’t want him back.

The kiss they shared was soft, and lingering, the torrential rain outside fading into the background. Dean wanted to drink in the plump, textured softness of Castiel’s lips all night, but instead he felt a little buzz rising in his chest, and it escaped in a grinning chuckle against Castiel’s mouth.

“What?” Castiel asked, not pulling back, merely pressing their foreheads together across the bench seat.

“I was just thinking how funny it is, given all the things we’ve done together, that we just had our first real kiss.”

Castiel’s cheeks bunched up in an amused grin. “I guess that was our first kiss. Of many, I hope.”

Dean leaned in again, pressing himself closer once more, meeting Castiel’s lips with a chaste, content peck, just because he could.

“We’re going to have to talk about a lot of things,” Castiel said, sounding serious even through his undulled smile.

Yeah, Dean thought. Like the fact that I’m already way past “I like you,” that I’m head-over-heels in love with you, and how you feel about that. But...one step at a time.

Shoving that thought aside for later, Dean nodded, equally as solemn as Castiel, but also equally joyful. “Yeah. You’re right—we need to discuss a lot of stuff. Communicate a lot damn better.”

“At home?” Castiel said, his blue eyes hopeful and huge right before Dean, pressed together as they still were.

Dean nodded, stealing one more kiss before he pulled back to reach for his seatbelt. “At home.”

 

Chapter Text

By the time Dean had pulled out of the parking lot of Kansas City International Airport, navigated a few truly insane road-planning decisions, and guided the Impala back onto I-70 to head back to Lawrence, Castiel was beginning to sag a little.

They’d both had a big day. Dean’s had been long and emotional, and so had Castiel’s, with the added horror of packing up his life and hauling luggage added into the equation.

“I guess we can call the airline in the morning and see what they can do about rerouting your bags,” Dean said once he’d settled into a lane on the freeway.

Castiel looked across to the driver’s side of the car and gave a small grimace. “That’s going to be very inconvenient, I have a feeling. Still, it is probably the least punishment I deserve.”

“Hey,” Dean said, frowning slightly. He reached out across the bench seat, pushing down the tingle behind his ribcage that told him he was reaching to hold Castiel’s hand— for real!— for the first time. “No punishment talk, okay? Otherwise, I could just as easily say it’s all my fault for making you feel so bad by being such an idiot.”

“Dean,” Castiel said severely, entwining their fingers together. “That’s not at all—”

“Exactly,” Dean interrupted with a little smile.

For a long moment, Castiel just gazed back at Dean, a small matching smile mirrored on his own face. Dean couldn’t help his cheeks pulling further into a grin, and could no more help the small, disbelieving chuckle that he gave out before turning his eyes back to the road.

“What?” Castiel asked curiously, stifling a creeping yawn.

“I just—” Feel like I’m flying, Dean thought. “—can hardly believe that you’re here. I mean, that we’re here. That…I dunno, that you actually want this.” Dean could feel his cheeks heating, so obviously he kept his gaze trained firmly on the dark, wet tarmac ahead of them. Just for safety, of course.

“Of course I do,” Castiel said, so openly and easily that Dean’s heart clenched painfully. “You’re amazing, to me. If anything, it’s certainly me that should be asking that question. You’re beloved by so many people, Dean, even if you don’t see it. I don’t have very much to offer.”

Dean blinked in disbelief. “Jesus, Cas. Who the hell made you believe that? Because lemme tell you—being smart, and thoughtful, and talented, and putting it in that package? C’mon, man.”

Castiel’s fingers squeezed around Dean’s on the bench seat as he looked down at them, his lips twisting into a half-smile at their tangled hands. “I suppose it might take a little while to adjust to the idea that you see me that way, is all.”

“Take as long as you need,” Dean said, dragging Castiel’s hand up so that he could press his lips to his knuckles. “And I’ll do my best to do the same.”

Dean looked across at Castiel quickly, taking in his tired smile and worn-looking eyes, both due to the exertion and high emotion of the day. He gave Castiel’s fingers one more squeeze before he let go, reaching across to turn on the radio quietly, then extending his arm out in invitation.

“C’mere,” Dean said. “It’s been a long day. With all this rain, it’s probably going to take me an hour to get us home. So why don’t you snuggle up and just take a nap? We can talk when we get home.”

Castiel looked skeptical for a moment, but the doubt passed quickly from his face as Dean tugged him into his chest, curling Castiel up into his side and keeping one arm around him as he drove. It took a moment for Castiel to relax, but then he toed off his boots and pulled his feet up onto the bench seat, sagging into Dean’s side as if every last ounce of resistance had left him.

Something in Dean’s chest tingled fondly at the way Castiel automatically removed his boots, not wanting to risk marking Baby’s leather seats.

Dean couldn’t help but smile fondly down at Castiel while he drove, one-handed, taking his time. He turned his jaw, pressing a kiss into the damp, wild hair at Castiel’s crown, the dark brown strands curling from the rain.

It was a perfect drive. The storm began to peter out as Dean neared Lawrence once more. At his side, Castiel made slight, breathy snoring sounds, his face totally relaxed and at peace in a way Dean had never seen it. As the months had gone on, Dean had seen a little more of Castiel, his stoic walls flaking here and there, the more comfortable he got. He’d seen Castiel stressed, and anxious, and struggling for control. And today, in the last couple of hours, he’d seen Castiel heartbroken and miserable, and open and vulnerable. But now, curled up into Dean’s chest, Dean finally saw him peaceful.

If Dean had his way, that’s how he’d keep him.

When Dean pulled up in front of the townhouse, he cut the engine as quietly as he could. He didn’t want to wake Castiel up, despite knowing he must. His commanding, comfortable, confident Dom was sexy and thrilling to look at, but seeing him like this, calm and trusting, warmed a whole different part of Dean.

Dean wondered if Castiel would still want him, like that, if he got to have him like this.

There was so much they needed to talk about.

“Hey, Cas,” Dean murmured down into Castiel’s hair, dried by then into erratic curls at the crown from their dash through the beating rain. “We’re home.”

Castiel stirred slowly, his eyes fluttering sleepily open to focus on Dean. It took a few blinks before they cleared, but it was worth the wait to see the blinding, toothy smile that spread across his face. “Not a dream,” he croaked groggily.

Dean chuckled. “Nope…we really did embrace a terrible romcom cliché and then get caught in a rainstorm.”

“I’ve written worse clichés,” Castiel admitted, still grinning. “I maintain that readers secretly love them.”

Dean couldn’t help himself but lean down, twisting his head to the side to press his lips into Castiel’s as he reclined against Dean.

Because Dean could do that now. Whenever he wanted.

Dean grinned wider.

For a moment they were suspended in time, light drizzling rain tapping at the windscreen as they exchanged more aching smiles and tasted more soft, happy kisses.

Eventually, Castiel pulled back, straightening up. His smile mellowed, his gaze still set on Dean. “Thank you,” he said gently.

“For kissing you? That’s kinda weird, Cas.”

“For coming after me, Dean.”

“Oh.” For some reason, Dean’s cheeks were warming, and he found himself raising a hand to rub at the back of his neck. “Well, yeah. I couldn’t let you go that easily, Cas.”

“I’m still sorry that I hurt you,” Castiel said, a regretful tint to his smile. “But I’m glad it worked out like this.”

Dean nodded, reaching to give Castiel’s knee a squeeze. “Yeah. That’s the best way to look at it, I think. Now—are you ready to go home? I think we have a welcoming party.”

Castiel’s brow creased in confusion, until he turned to look out of the window. Understanding dawned as his eyes alighted on the hideously yellow Gremlin parked in front of them. “Your friends…they came back here to wait for you.”

“Looks like. They were all here earlier: Charlie and Gilda, my brother and Jess, even Gabe and Kali. They’re probably waiting to see how my romcom road trip turned out.”

Castiel looked between the car and the front door of the townhouse, his teeth worrying subtly at his lower lip.

“Cas? What’s wrong?”

Giving Dean a nervous glance, Castiel ducked his head slightly, seeming almost embarrassed. “What if they don’t like me anymore?” he mumbled sullenly. “These are your friends, your family, and in their eyes I—”

“Dude, no,” Dean said, shaking his head as he pulled Castiel into a tight hug. “I’m going to explain to them it was just a misunderstanding, and that I don’t blame you for leaving so you wouldn’t get hurt anymore. That’ll be enough for them. And you know, they’re your family, too. Everyone in my life loves you, Cas.”

Including me… Dean tagged on mentally. I love you.

He’d be brave and get to that soon, he promised himself. There was, after all, definitely a lesson to be learned here about not saying what he was thinking. But first, he needed to clear out his house.

“Come on,” Dean said, reaching to grab their still-damp coats from the back of the car. He shoved the beige trench coat over to where Castiel still sat, smiling softly at Dean’s declaration. “Let’s face the music, so we can send everyone home—and then you and me, alone, can talk.”

Castiel nodded, bunching up his coat under his arm as he reached for the door handle of the Impala. He paused just momentarily, looking the tiniest bit uncertain again as he turned back to Dean. “I know we agreed to talk—and I agree that we should, about many things. But we…we’re good, yes? You’re sure that you want me to stay?”

Dean finally stopped thinking, and just acted.

He reached across the bench, tugging Castiel forward, catching the underside of his jaw. Dean’s thumb sat at the corner of Castiel’s mouth, staying there even as Dean leaned in, kissing him hard. Once he’d poured the unspoken words into a deep, firm kiss—which Castiel merely gasped his way through, looking dazed—Dean finally spoke them out loud.

“Cas, of course I want you to stay, you dumbass. Can’t you see I’m in love with you?”

His eyes wide and sparkling, Castiel blinked a few times, deliciously pink, before he responded, “I prefer scared. Less dumb, less ass.”

“No, you’re definitely a dumbass,” Dean said, smirking. “Just a frightened one.”

Castiel reached out, laughing as he shoved lightly at Dean’s chest. Instead of pulling his hand back, he left it there and leaned in, smiling more confidently. “Well, dumbass or not, I—”

There was a loud thump , making both of them jump in their seats.

Outside of the car stood Sam, scowling at them both. “Are you guys going to sit out here in the car all night, leaving us wondering what the hell happened?”

Dean opened his door immediately. “Did you just slap my car?”

Sam’s eyes widened, his flat hand sliding guiltily off Baby’s hood. “Uh, no.”

“Don’t lie to me, bitch,” Dean grumbled.

“Then get outta the car, jerk.”

Throwing an apologetic look at Castiel—they’d definitely be picking up that conversation later—Dean slid out of the car. He walked around to the passenger side, opening the door, and extending his hand to Castiel. “Come on. Let’s update the family. I promise I won’t let them bite.”

Smiling somewhat gratefully, Castiel nodded and slipped out, walking with Dean into the house.

 

x

 

“If you’re all gonna keep hanging around my kitchen at the same time, I’m going to have to buy a bigger house.”

Eight people packed around the wooden table that took up the center of the townhouse kitchen was just not working, but not a single one of them moved. The fugly yellow car outside had brought Charlie, Gilda, Sam, and Gabe back to the townhouse, where Kali had remained, waiting for them. Jess had returned immediately after putting her and Sam’s daughter to sleep at her mom’s house, clearly. Castiel stood at Dean’s side, near the doorway, and the entire group that filled the room seemed to be looking at him.

Dean could see the flicker of anxiety, still, deep in Castiel’s eyes, but no one else seemed able to; he held his head high, stoic and calm, before nodding at them all. Something inside Dean’s chest squeezed, again; a happy feeling, not at all like the one he’d endured hours before. This was one that came from realizing that the nerves Castiel had shown in the car, and at the airport—that vulnerability, that openness—they were just for Dean.

“Hello, everyone,” Castiel said, quietly. He sounded apologetic before he’d even begun; Dean wasn’t sure how he felt about that.

“So, you came back,” Charlie began, folding her arms. “Whatcha got to say about that?”

“Hey—” Dean began, defensive, before Castiel squeezed his hand gently.

“It’s alright, Dean,” Castiel said. “They’re all here because they care about you, and they were worried. They have every right to question my motives right now.”

“Damn right we do,” Sam said, sounding surprisingly angry, given that Sam was usually the calm brother.

Castiel turned to Sam, addressing him directly. “I’m sorry. All of you. Dean and I had…well, we miscommunicated. And while I don’t think you all need to know the details of it, I hope you can trust his judgement, and believe me when I say that my intention was never to hurt him.”

Looking around, Castiel took in Charlie once more before he moved on to Gabriel, Jess, Kali, and Gilda, then added firmly, “Dean is lucky to have family like you.”

“We welcomed you into our family,” Jess said quietly, to Castiel. “You’re part of it. Whatever happened between you and Dean…you could have reached out to Sam, or me. Or Gabriel, at least. We weren’t only worried about Dean, Cas. We were worried about you, too .

“Yeah,” Sam spoke again. “We’re your friends, too. Or so we thought.”

Castiel squirmed, his eyes dropping, and Dean tightened his grip where their hands were entwined. He parted his lips, but Dean stepped up. Castiel, to his mind, was only partly to blame for the day’s events.

“Hey,” Dean said softly. “Cas left because, well, it turns out, I hurt him pretty bad. Just miscommunication, like he said. But he’s here now, and we’ve already decided we’re not doing the blame thing. We both screwed up. And I know you all mean well, but Cas isn’t the bad guy here. He’s staying in Lawrence. Okay?”

The severe looks around the kitchen slowly turned to smiles.

“Good enough for me,” said Sam. He strode across the kitchen, crushing Castiel in a sudden hug, to Dean’s surprise.

Castiel blinked, looking overwhelmed, but soon smiled as the rest of the group stepped forward one by one to join in on the hugs. Gabriel was last, and Dean noted that Castiel clung back, hanging on to him a little longer than the rest.

“Thank you,” Castiel said, slightly croaky. “I fully intend to make it up to Dean, every day. I hope I can earn your trust again, too, and you’ll see that I’d never intentionally hurt him.”

Dean nudged Castiel with his elbow, the Russian’s comments just a touch too close to self-recrimination for Dean to allow without comment. But he didn’t have time to dwell on it, as Charlie spoke up, gesturing between the two of them.

“So, obviously you found Cas, and you came back…at least as friends?”

Dean smiled, looking across at Castiel before he answered. “More than friends,” he said firmly.

“And for real, this time,” Castiel added, reaching across to tug Dean into his side. “Not fake.”

“Not fake,” Dean agreed, nodding.

“Hell, yeah!” Gabriel burst out finally, pumping a fist in the air from where he’d returned to his perch on top of the kitchen counter, next to the sink. He was buzzing with a contained energy that made Dean smile. “That’s the best outcome. Happy lovebirds, and no jail for the meddling, matchmaking older brother. That’s almost the best news of the day.”

Dean and Castiel both gave out a chuckle.

“Almost?” Castiel asked.

Kali, standing serenely next to her excited, pintsized husband, gave Dean a secretive smile. “Today is about you.”

“Hell no, it’s not!” Dean said, shaking his head at her. “You had first dibs on today. Me and Cas just interrupted.”

Everyone looked a bit confused, even Gabriel, until Dean winked across at him.

“You knew!” Gabriel accused, his eyes widening before he looked across at his wife. “You told Dean?”

She shook her head soothingly. “No, my love—he guessed on his own, somehow. I only told you when you got back from the airport, for goodness sake, and I wouldn’t have told anyone before you. But I don’t mind if you want to share with everyone else now that we know Dean and Cas are fine.”

Castiel squinted curiously up at Dean, and Sam, Jess, Charlie, and Gilda all looked at each other before turning to Gabriel.

“What?” prompted Sam, slightly suspicious. “What did you do, Gabriel?”

The grin that overtook the smaller man’s face was blinding, crinkling up his face until his honey-whiskey eyes squinted over peaked cheeks. “Well, we…” he trailed off, an electric bundle of energy that appeared to be three seconds from making a squee- ing noise, and deferred to his wife.

“We’re going to have a baby,” Kali said calmly, always a counterpoint to her chaotic husband. “I’m pregnant.”

“Yeah, we are!” Gabriel crowed excitedly, wrapping his arms around Kali and lifting her clear of the floor while Dean’s kitchen dissolved into excited yelling and squealing.

“Gabriel!” Kali protested, slapping his shoulders firmly. “Put me down, you can’t squeeze the baby out of me for months yet.”

The whole group poured forward to laugh and hug and congratulate Kali and Gabriel, and Dean couldn’t help but grin along with them. Who couldn’t be happy for a baby? Even Charlie—who Dean knew had never once been inclined toward motherhood in her entire life—was wildly excited, so thrilled that her friends got to have something that clearly made them so happy.

“It’s early days,” Kali cautioned, even though she was smiling. “Only five weeks or so, my doctor thinks. So, we’re waiting to tell the world at large, but…not you guys. We wanted you to know.”

“I’m glad,” Dean said, meaning it. “Gabe will have to take a bunch of days off, so he can go with you to all of your appointments, Kali. I know he’s going to want to, and I sure owe him after the last couple of months.”

“Knew I was storing up all that good will for a reason,” Gabriel joked, winking across at Dean before Dean came to crush him in his own congratulatory hug.

“I’m really happy for you, buddy. Me and Cas call first babysitting rights, okay?” Dean said, catching Castiel’s eye and grinning at his emphatic nod.

“I’ll remember that when we’re up at three in the morning and about to burst into tears.”

“No problem,” Castiel said. “Neither Dean nor I sleep much as it is. Might as well be helpful.”

“Alright!” Sam announced. “We talked sense into Dean, located the Russian escapee, and now there’s a baby. This has to be time to celebrate, right?”

As much as Dean really, really wanted everyone to leave so that he and Castiel could be alone…he couldn’t disagree with that. He looked back over at Castiel, who nodded, smiling understandingly.

“If I’m quick,” he suggested quietly, “I can take Baby and get to the liquor store before it closes.”

“Please, and God, grab some pizza, too,” Dean begged, throwing Castiel his keys. “I haven’t eaten all day, because I thought we were having dinner with Charlie and Gilda.”

Bumping into Dean with a grin, Charlie gave them both a small wink. “Pizza and alcohol sounds like the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner, to me. And now it’ll be your anniversary, I guess, you cheesy, clichéd romantics.”

Sam was already digging through Dean’s cabinets and refrigerator, taking over and passing out Dean’s beer and snacks in a way that only little brothers could. Castiel dashed off to the store in Baby—with Charlie insisting on riding shotgun so they could talk . (Dean felt a little bad for Castiel for how that conversation was likely going to go, but he was sure Castiel could handle the redhead.) Everyone else piled into the living room, already suggesting increasingly ridiculous baby names.

Dean had a feeling it would be quite a few hours before he got to have Castiel to himself.

 

x

 

“Oh, thank God,” Dean groaned as he leaned back against the front door, having just firmly closed it behind Sam and Gabriel’s drunk asses.

Luckily for Dean, Jess and Kali had both—with very knowing smirks—said a very firm no to Gabriel and Sam sleeping it off at the townhouse and had herded their over-celebrated husbands off to their respective homes.  

Dean took a moment to be extremely glad that Trick or Sweet would be closed the following day. He and Gabriel had learned after the first couple of years that the day after Valentine’s Day, or Christmas, or Easter, was a great time for them to close down. Everyone was stuffed full and sugared up already, and it just wasn’t worth staying open. Thank God, because it was already several hours past Dean’s usual bedtime for work.

Castiel was leaning against the living room door frame with one shoulder, loosening his tie, finally. “It’s very late,” he said. “Let’s just go to bed. We can leave the cleaning up until morning…right now, I’m very keen to finally have you to myself.”

Allowing his eyes to skim up Castiel’s form as he rested in the doorway, clad in one of his slightly-crumpled-but-still-sexy suits, Dean found himself hoping that the talking could wait until morning, too. But he knew that wasn’t what was best.

Reaching out, Dean stretched his hand out to grab the tips of Castiel’s fingers, managing to grasp ahold of his hand and tug him across the hallway. “Same,” Dean admitted. “I’m very happy for Gabe and Kali, but me and you have been putting some stuff off for far, far too long.”

Castiel’s tiny, crooked smile was even more beautiful, Dean decided, when he knew without a doubt that it was meant for all of him. Settling his hand in Dean’s more firmly, Castiel started to move up the stairs, pulling Dean up behind him.

On the fourth step, he stopped, turning and looking down at Dean. He licked his lips nervously before parting them, turning his eyes to the wall at the bottom of the stairwell where they stood. Castiel rested his hand on the wall, pressing his palm against the smooth, gray-ish beige paint, and looked back down at Dean. “We kissed right here, remember? After the interview, before we—”

Dean stepped up onto the next stair, interrupting, pushing himself into Castiel’s space and grabbing at a chance to clarify some more things before time took them away and made them irrelevant. “Before we made love in your bed,” Dean said, firmly, sounding less nervous than he felt. “Because that’s what it was, to me. That was just me that you had, then—all of me. I didn’t dare to hope, at the time, that it was the same for you, but…”

“It was,” Castiel confessed, beaming as Dean trailed off. Letting go of Dean’s hand where their fingers were linked, Castiel slid his palm up Dean’s arm to his chest, turning him carefully on the step so that his shoulder blades rested against the wall, just as they had one time before. He pressed in, his lips hovering just above Dean’s. “Every part of it…every kiss, every touch, every sound. It was real.”

Dean tilted his chin up, dragging his lips against Castiel’s for just a second, his eyes squeezing shut, overwhelmed.

Castiel met the kiss, returning it more forcefully. He gave out a soft, relieved sound as they pressed together, almost a whimper, before his hand trailed down from Dean’s shoulder to grip his fingers once more. Pulling back, Castiel set his dark gaze firmly onto Dean, letting it rest there for a moment as he slowly raised Dean’s hand up the wall, his fingers a vice as he stretched Dean’s arm above his head. Dean’s other hand followed automatically, follow-the-leader.

“Dean,” Castiel murmured, pinning Dean’s wrists with one hand while the other came to Dean’s jaw, stroking softly along it with the backs of his fingers.

“Y-yes?” Dean asked, his voice shaky with want and excitement and hope.

Castiel’s fingers curled, two fingers coming up flat against Dean’s jawbone as he pushed Dean’s face to the side; the cold wall pressed in to Dean’s cheek on the left, and Castiel’s hot breath danced across his ear on the right. “Do you still want me to Dom you, Dean?” Castiel breathed out, low and rasping. “I would love to do so,” he clarified, letting only a beat pass. “Your submission was such a beautiful gift to me, moj mal’chik. But if you don’t think that’s a good match for you now…”

Dean was still holding his breath, his heart thundering into the back of his ribcage as Castiel pulled back just enough to grip Dean’s jaw and turn him, their eyes meeting. Castiel’s blown blue gaze was softer than Dean expected, softer than his gravelly, aroused voice could account for, until he said, “I don’t need it, Dean. I want it, I’d love it, but I would go without it, if you don’t want to mix that with a normal relationship. Because I love you, Dean—I am so very, hopelessly in love with you, I’ll take you any way that you are happy with, as long as I have your heart.”

I love you, Dean. It was a resounding echo in Dean’s mind and chest that blew the cobwebs off every door he’d been afraid to open.

Immediately, Dean’s lips parted, wanting to desperately blurt out, Yes, yes, I want you every way; instead, all that came out was a dry, overwhelmed croak. But his arms slipped down from Castiel’s loosening grip, and his hands darted forward to wrap firm fingers around Castiel’s biceps, pulling him in until there was no space between their bodies from chest to hip.

“Yes,” Dean managed, breathless, nodding shallowly but fast. “Fuck, yes.”

Like he’d been released from a cage, Castiel surged forward, melding Dean to the wall with his force as he pounced, licking into Dean’s mouth and claiming him a moaning growl of pure relief and shaking, clawing hands.

Dean let himself be mauled, gasping out breaths in the tiny moments where Castiel’s pillowy lips withdrew to journey elsewhere, across his jaw, down his neck, up to the back of his ear.

His eyes blinking open and closed in a daze, Dean was grinning like an idiot as he managed to clarify, “I want all of it, Cas. All of you.”

Clinging on to Castiel’s biceps like an anchor, Dean couldn’t help but lift one of his legs to wrap around Castiel’s, needing every part of them touching that he could get. Taking the hint, Castiel pulled back only long enough to slide his hands down to Dean’s thighs, using his muscled arms to hoist Dean up to his waist. He was careful, taking his time as he moved them upstairs, stopping to kiss and suck bruises into Dean’s neck against the wall every few steps upward.

Finally, when they reached the top of the stairs, Castiel was forced to let Dean down onto the landing. They pulled apart, both breathless, and both laughed at each other—flushed and rowdy-haired and smiling so ridiculously.

Castiel pushed open his bedroom door, and they both stepped inside…only to come to a somewhat jarring halt right inside the doorway.

The room was exactly as Dean had left it hours before; empty, the once neatly-folded bedding pushed into a jumble on the floor, leaving the mattress bare. The note that Castiel had left was crumpled in a sad ball on the rug, having rolled a few miserable inches away from the trash can under the desk. There was a chill to the air, the window left cracked open, and the thin voile covering the sides of the windows flapped damply in the breeze from the drizzly remnants of the storm outside.

Slowly, Castiel’s hand slipped from Dean's, his face clouding guiltily. “I, uh, I can make the bed back up,” he said quickly, moving over to the pile of sheets and pillows that were down on the floor beside the bed. “It’ll only take a minute.”

Dean swiftly moved to close the open, accusing maw of the empty closet, and shut the window to keep the mournful-sounding weather outside. He picked up the scrunched paper from the floor, considering it for a moment before tossing it, and went to help Castiel fight with the pillowcases.

Minutes later, they both lay on the bed, flat on their backs with their eyes on the ceiling and a guilty space between them.

The seconds dragged on awkwardly.

Dean’s chest ached oddly, and his fingers and toes tingled with discomfort. His spine felt like it wanted to curl.

With a sigh, Castiel rolled onto his side and propped his head up on his hand, before reaching for Dean’s fingers amongst the sheets. “Okay,” he said, quiet and regretful. “So. It’s a little strange to be here now, let’s acknowledge that, yes?”

Dean nodded, rolling to face Castiel, somehow relieved.

This was ridiculous. He’d been in this bed many times. He’d been stripped in it, spanked in it, cried in it, been held and slept in it. Why was this weird? Was it because they’d somehow ruined all the memories they had? Or was it just that something was subtly different, and they were overreacting and freaking out?

“Yeah,” Dean agreed morosely. “I guess we, uh, made it weird somehow, huh?”

Castiel let out a low groan, slumping forward and softly thumping his forehead on Dean’s shoulder. “I am sorry.”

“Nah,” Dean said, tucking his arms around Castiel and bringing him in close for a tight, if chaste, hug. “It’s not your fault.”

They lay for a minute, arms around each other, just trying to relax, until Castiel’s quiet voice projected into the crook of Dean’s neck.

“Did I ruin everything? Do we need to…to start over, somehow? Take this slower, or do it differently, or…something, I don’t know.”

Dean could tell that Castiel was upset, and he felt a matching ache in his own chest. This wasn’t them, this wasn’t how they were. It had never been awkward like this—every motion second-guessed, every word over-selected—not even the first time they’d been together. Not even when they’d both given in, even further than they’d thought, and they’d made love amongst these sheets.

“Hey,” said Dean softly, looking thoughtfully down at the sheets. “I have an idea.”

Castiel raised his head, and his hopeful look was all Dean needed to know that he wanted to fix this as badly as Dean did. “Yes?” he asked, his eyes on Dean, close and optimistic.

“Come with me?” Dean said, pushing up off the bed but holding his hand out to Castiel.

Curiously, Castiel followed, twining their fingers together as he padded along behind Dean in his socks and rumpled suit.

Dean took them out onto the landing at the top of the stairs, then pulled Castiel gently along the hallway the few steps to the room next door. Pushing the door open, he peered over his shoulder, grinning back at Castiel as he led them into his own bedroom, instead.

He wished, momentarily, that he’d had more time to make it look romantic and couple-y, and less like floury laundry chute, but here they were.

Castiel raised an eyebrow.

“We’ve never been in here,” Dean said, shrugging. “All new, just for us.”

“It’s a mess,” Castiel pointed out, but his lip quirked in amusement and Dean knew he didn’t really care.

“Well, then, you can make me pick up later,” Dean offered, grinning as he kicked a discarded, floury pair of work pants off toward the hamper. Dean wasn’t super messy, or particularly dirty, but his occasional disregard for where he left his clothes and shoes did seem to rub Castiel’s neat-freak tendencies the wrong way. If he was going to have Castiel in his bed, now, Dean decided, he’d have to try harder.

Dean tugged Castiel over toward the bed, sitting down on the edge of the mattress so that he was looking up at him, still clinging to his hand. As if on instinct, Castiel brought his other hand forward, and Dean entwined those fingers, too.

“We’ve been living together for nearly six months already,” Dean said, “and we’d kind of claimed the other room as ‘ours’. But maybe…if you want to stay... I mean, I get it if you want to keep your own space and kind of, y’know, still have some separation there…”

Castiel smirked softly down at Dean, watching him struggle with his words for a moment before he took pity on him, giving Dean’s fingers a tighter squeeze before he offered, “Or, we could turn the old room into an office. And we could both just sleep here.”

“Yeah, that,” Dean said, flushing awkwardly but grinning through it. “You’d want that?”

“Dean,” Castiel said, his voice tantalizingly lower as he brought his knees up to the mattress, settling his weight on either side of Dean’s thighs as he lowered into his lap, “I think the question is, do you want that? Do you want me to wake up here every morning…”

Castiel trailed off, tilting his head downward as he pressed forward in Dean’s lap. His lips burned hot against Dean’s skin as they danced past his Adam’s apple. The hum of his growl made Dean’s heart thump a bass line as Castiel’s lips caressed his throat lightly, and then waltzed on up to a spot behind his ear that made Dean go weak and rhythmless.

A hoarse moan was the only response Dean could manage before Castiel picked up his words again, low and rumbling against Dean’s skin.

“Do you want me to fall asleep here each night, holding you, giving you whatever you need on any given day, knowing you will look after me in turn? Because that sounds perfect to me, Dean.”

The smirk on Castiel’s face as he pulled back, climbing off Dean’s lap to stand innocently next to the bed in front of him, was everything about him that Dean had been so afraid he’d lost.

“Are you going to use those tactics to get your way all the time, now?” Dean asked, grinning and breathless.

“Didn’t I always? And more to the point—don’t you?”

Dean laughed, one-hundred-percent caught out. “That’s fair. At least we’re talking, now.”

“Da,” Castiel said, approvingly. “And we must continue to.”

“I agree,” Dean said, solemn even as heart still raced with appreciation for Castiel standing between his legs. “So maybe we should curl up in bed and do just that, until we fall asleep.”

“I don’t know,” Castiel said, biting deliberately on his lip as he reached down and began loosening his belt. “I explained why I left, and I will try to make that poor decision up to you every day. Perhaps you can start letting me show you I am sorry.”

"You did," Dean allowed, standing up to discard his pants and strip off his t-shirt. "But I also want to make sure I get to apologize for the ways I was bad to you, too. I know I was stupid, but I had no idea I was hurting you like that. Which makes me a dumbass, but if there are things you still need to say, then—"

Castiel sighed dramatically, pulling back the covers on Dean’s— their —bed like it was a chore. "Da, I suppose. You're sure just sucking my dick won't solve everything?"

"Cas."

"Dean."

"Shut up and take your pants off, asshole."

Chuckling, they both stripped down to their underwear. Dean turned off the light, leaving only a distant lamp down the street to peek through the blinds. Castiel could joke all he liked—Dean knew that defense mechanism intimately—but if they were going to make a real relationship work, they had to talk. They settled under the comforter, sinking into Dean’s pillows, their pillows, and rolled to face each other. This time, they both shuffled close automatically, their hands finding homes on each other’s waists and chests, their legs tangled comfortably. It felt easy, and right, and Dean let out a slow sigh of relief.

“That’s better,” Dean said softly.

“It really is,” Castiel agreed, stroking Dean’s side and leaning forward bare inches to press his lips to Dean’s cheek. “Coming here was a good idea. Not so much a fresh start as a reboot.”

“Let’s hope this goes better than the Charlie’s Angels reboot,” Dean said, nuzzling down into his pillow.

“I quite liked that movie.”

“This is it.” Dean sighed. “This is what causes the divorce: differences in opinion over Kristin Stewart’s emotionless acting career.”

They both laughed, but Castiel’s eyes rested on Dean and studied him intensely as they fell back to tired smiles. “We should talk about that…the divorce. Or, uh, not divorce. The marriage part, anyway,” he said quietly. “I don’t want you to feel pressured to maintain that, now more than ever. If you think it puts too much pressure on this new relationship that we have, then perhaps we can talk to Sam and see what our options are.”

Even though Dean knew it was something they had to talk about, it still caused an odd sensation like his chest was sinking too far down into the mattress as Castiel said it. Bravely, he moistened his lips and cleared his throat, working his way up to his words. “It’s not really that new, is it? This relationship. I mean, we mislabeled it and made a damn mess of it for a long time, but…”

Castiel nodded a quiet agreement, his cheek shush- ing against the pillow. “Yes, not so new. Months old, even.”

“Right,” Dean said, his chest unsinking a little. “I don’t think we need to change anything, unless it makes you uncomfortable somehow. I was all ready to be fake-married to you and just feel sorry for myself for the next two years, so that I could keep you,” he confessed, hoping he looked less humiliated than he felt at admitting it. “So really, why not just keep it up like we were? Our friends all know the truth, now, the ones that matter. Who cares about the rest?”

For a moment, Dean thought that Castiel would decline. That he’d say something sensible about how it wasn’t healthy for a new relationship to carry the weight of faking a marriage in public. But instead, Castiel saved Dean from being crushed into the mattress by the weight of his own ribcage.

“It never felt all that fake,” Castiel said. “And now I don’t have to suppress the urge to kiss you, or worry if I’ll overstep by reaching for your hand.”

Castiel moved his hand between them, finding Dean’s on his own chest and hooking his fingers in between, linking them tightly together. Illuminated in the dull glow of the street lamp beyond the blinds, he watched their hands, looking down at them thoughtfully. Dean watched him, admiring his directness, but seeing the vulnerability underneath. Trailing his thumb over Castiel’s knuckles, Dean forced himself to clear his throat once more.

“Do you want to talk about last night?” he asked.

Looking up slowly, Castiel gave a long blink as he huffed out a humorless laugh. “Was that really only last night? It feels like days have passed.”

Dean couldn’t help but agree. “It’s been a crazy twenty-four hours,” he admitted, before falling quiet again, allowing the idea of the topic settle.

Castiel continued watching their fingers, Dean’s thumb moving in reassurance across his skin. “It was my own mistake. None of that is on you.”

“I’ll allow that, I guess, as I didn’t understand at the time. But I want to understand now,” Dean said. “If you can tell me, I want to know anything I did that helped make this mess. So that I can fix it. I know I suggested telling Charlie about our marriage at dinner, but…” Dean trailed off, unsure how to phrase what he meant.

“It wasn’t any worse than anything else you’d said.” Castiel understood, even if Dean’s question wasn’t clear. “It wasn’t exactly that. It was more when you said it, than what you said.”

In the early hours of the morning, Dean’s bedroom was slightly chill. He reached across and tugged the sheet up over them a little further, covering Castiel’s shoulder, and sliding his body a little closer to him on the bed. Their entwined fingers pressed between their chests, but Dean didn’t let go. He stayed quiet, speaking silent apologies instead as he used his other hand to lightly trace Castiel’s bare spine.

“I told you that I don’t usually bottom,” Castiel said, lifting his face to Dean’s, nose to nose on the mattress, whispering even though there was no one to hear. “But I didn’t tell you why. That was a failure on my part, not yours.”

Dean nodded slowly, his nose brushing Castiel’s cheek as he whispered back, “You said you hadn’t had the best experiences. I thought you just changed your mind, I barely stopped to think about it when we—”

“This part is all on me, Dean,” Castiel reminded him. “I should have communicated with you, but I didn’t. I did something that I haven’t done in years, and to me it was an act of love. I wanted to do it with you and change my negative association with it. It made me feel close to you, but vulnerable, too. But you didn’t know that.”

“And when you were feeling vulnerable already, and you were letting yourself believe that things between us were real, I fucking ruined it.” Dean couldn’t help how angry his voice sounded, but that was all for him, not Castiel.

“My fault, not yours,” Castiel reminded him. “Failure to communicate.”

“I’m sorry,” Dean said again. He’d probably said it more in the past few hours than in the past year, but he saw no reason to stop, not with Castiel. His stomach was aching again, the same way it had in the car when he realized how much he’d messed up. Castiel had lowered his walls, so he should too, Dean figured. “It kinda makes me sick to my stomach that I hurt you,” he confessed.

“Don’t be.”

“Not that simple.”

“I know.” Castiel squeezed his fingers. “I told you already that when I was young, in college, I tried subbing at first, before I realized that wasn’t what fit for me.”

Dean nodded, enjoying the way their faces brushed in the dark.

“One of the Doms I subbed for was very rough—I don’t think they meant anything by it, I just wasn’t experienced enough to know what I wanted at the time. It left a lasting impression on me, though, and definitely shaped the way I handle a sub. I swore I’d never bottom at all, at first, but I worked out it’s fine as long as I’m in control. Even so, I just…” Castiel trailed off, shrugging lightly. “It was stupid of me to do that without explaining it to you.”

“Was it—”

“It was wonderful, with you,” Castiel said immediately. “Please don’t think it wasn’t, malysh. Try not to take blame on yourself where there is none. With you, I believe we can work that into our relationship when we want to and it would never feel anything but good. It was the first time I’d opened myself to you like that, though. So, your flippant comments afterwards cut a lot deeper than they maybe would have, otherwise.”

God, he’d been such a jerk. It made Castiel taking off make even more sense, and no matter what Castiel said, Dean couldn’t help but think he should have known. He pulled Castiel in tight, turning their close position into an embrace. “I am sorry. I’m sorry you were hurting and I didn’t realize, and I’m sorry I didn’t know how precious what you gave me was—I should have picked up on that,” he argued, feeling Castiel’s jaw begin to move against the side of his face. “Mostly, I’m sorry I never admitted to you how I felt without us having to go through all this.”

“That, I can definitely agree on,” Castiel said, and Dean felt his cheek drawing up as he smiled against Dean’s skin in the dim light.

“But now,” Dean lowered his voice again, pulling back to rub his nose against Castiel’s, “I can tell you anytime I want. And I promise to, every day. Ya vlyubilsya f tyebya s pyervava fsglyada , solnyshka. Ya lyublyu tyebya fsyem syertsem.”

Dean could feel Castiel breathe in against him, his chest swelling as he kissed his response into Dean’s lips. “I love you, too. Since we met, and always.”

Grinning, proud that he hadn’t made a total mess of the Russian words he’d practiced so many times in his head, Dean kissed back, speaking in a wordless way that was much more familiar.

They both wanted to turn it into more, Dean could tell; hands gliding, bodies softly rolling. But it was late, and they were wrung out, physically and emotionally. So instead they entwined and slept, tangled in the middle of the memory foam.

 

x

 

It was barely after dawn when Dean awoke; nowhere near rested enough, but wide awake from pure habit. He came to slowly, warm and fuzzy, peaceful. Stretching his body carefully, Dean couldn’t help but smile to himself; he was reminded of sharing a bed with Castiel for the first time, after their wedding. Draped over Dean’s side, an arm across his chest, his leg between Dean’s thighs, Castiel’s slumbering puffs of air tickled gently across Dean’s bare collarbone. Finding his arm pinned beneath the Russian, Dean didn’t complain. Instead he rolled Castiel in further, easing his arm up only slightly, using it to embrace him closer.

Still fast asleep, Castiel was a warm puddle on Dean’s shoulder. Running his fingers through Castiel’s hair, very softly fixing the tangles that a rainstorm on thick, uncombed hair had caused, Dean took a moment just to be, and breathe, and enjoy.

The sun peeking through the window, beneath and between the slats of the blind, was weak and groggy, slightly gray, like it needed just a little more persuasion to fully illuminate the world. It was a silent hour outside. Dean liked the world like this, suspended, waiting. It was one of the very few perks of having to wake as early as he did.

He wanted to wake like this, just like this, for the rest of his life.

There was a calm contentment to realizing it, to knowing that now they could be on track to making that a reality one day, not hiding from it or pretending it was just for show. Smiling down into Castiel’s hair, Dean gave up his raking of the dark brown strands and slipped his arm downward to Castiel’s uncovered shoulders, cuddling into him contentedly. He pulled the comforter up, not wanting his love to be cold when he woke.

Castiel gave out the smallest snores, breathy and happy, like he was sleeping well, dreaming of pleasant things. Dean’s lips curved against Castiel’s temple as he whispered softly, “One day, Dmitri, I’m going to marry you for real.”

He’d share all his secrets with Castiel, now; they’d talk about everything. But there were, perhaps, some little things that Dean would whisper only when he slept, for a little while longer. Dean closed his eyes again, enjoying the closeness, and let himself fall back asleep.

The second time he woke was to vivid ocean eyes gazing down at him.

Dean blinked away the heavy, sleepy feeling that tugged him down into the pillow, and reached up to stroke his thumb along Castiel’s cheekbone. “Mornin’, Cas,” he croaked. “Sleep well?”

Castiel had his head propped in his hand, his elbow buried in the pillows as he lay on his side. “Yes, very well,” Castiel rumbled in response, leaning into Dean’s hand. “I had very pleasant dreams.”

“Good,” Dean said, smiling goofily up at him.

“You’re off today. What would you like to do?”

“I was going to work on the house a little, maybe start a project in the yard I’d been thinking of, or see if Bobby needed any help,” Dean mused, reaching up to rub the sleep from his eyes. “But now I’m thinking I’d really like to spend the day in bed with you.”

By Castiel’s grin, he’d been thinking the same thing. “Go freshen up, lyubimyj . I will bring us coffee; I already put the machine on ten minutes ago.”

Dean groaned happily as he sat up. “Now that’s how you spoil a guy, Cas. Waking up to coffee already in progress.”

Castiel merely smiled indulgently as Dean shuffled off to the bathroom.

When Dean returned, Castiel hadn’t made it back upstairs with the mugs just yet. Hastily, Dean picked up some of the dirty laundry around the room that he knew would bother Castiel, even if he made himself not say anything about them. He pushed a few odd items into the closet, on top of the bookcase, to deal with later, and was just straightening up when Castiel pushed the door open with his hip, a coffee mug in each hand.

“You picked up,” Castiel noted, looking down at the pants-less floor with a small smile.

“I know you prefer it,” Dean said, shrugging.

“We have a nice home. It’s more beautiful when we can see it.”

“And you have never looked more beautiful than when you’re carrying coffee in your underwear.” Dean gave Castiel a coy grin as he reached for the mug, bringing it to his lips, sipping his way through the heat. “Ahhh…thank you.”

They snuggled automatically into each other on the bed, Dean leaning into Castiel as they sipped their way through their coffee, slowly coming back to the world and each other. When Castiel put his coffee mug down on the nightstand, leaning over Dean, his patience only lasted another minute before he reached across and gently tugged the remaining dregs of Dean’s away from him, putting the mug on the surface next to his own.

Dean smirked softly. “Impatient.”

“For you? Always.”

Good morning kisses were sweeter for feeling reciprocated.

Panting gently beneath Castiel only moments later, having made his way down the pillows and onto his back like liquid, Dean licked up into his mouth, burying his fingers in the soft hairs at the nape of Castiel’s neck. He only paused for a moment so that Castiel could speak, his voice a mere inch from Dean’s reluctantly abandoned lips.

“Please,” Castiel breathed, one arm caging Dean in above his shoulder while the second caressed his side, “let me make love to you again.”

Dean nodded into the kiss that reunited them. “Yeah,” he agreed, his body already tingling with anticipation. “Plenty of time for other stuff…just us, now.”

There was less talking, then. They’d been making up for lost time, using their words, but there was nothing wrong, Dean figured, with letting their bodies speak a little, too. He raised his arms to wrap around Castiel, tracing his ribs across his back at a leisurely pace while they made out amongst the pillows.

Castiel tasted of mint and coffee and familiarity, and Dean couldn’t get enough. “I love kissing you,” he mumbled into the three-day stubble that rasped against his own.

A moaning agreement came out on a breath above him, and Dean shifted his hips, making space for Castiel to climb between his legs. He didn’t speed anything up when he got there. Castiel filled the gap Dean’s parted thighs left him, and remained there, kissing him deeply and tracing every muscle of Dean’s face with his lips. His hands came up to cup Dean’s jaw, his fingers splayed across cheeks and in hair.

“I love kissing you, too,” he finally echoed minutes later, before leaning in to leave a trail of slow, almost meditative kisses across Dean’s face. He started at Dean’s chin, progressing up his jawline to his forehead, moving down his nose, over his cheeks, back to his lips. He even kissed Dean’s eyelids, soft and precise, as Dean melted into the memory foam below him.

Castiel didn’t fight Dean returning the loving gesture, journeying his own mouth across Castiel’s angular features, strong cheekbones, and cut, stubbled jaw. Dean was already hard in his boxer briefs by the time he was done, but that hardly seemed to be the point.

It didn’t hurt any, though, as Castiel slowly pressed his hips forward, rocking into Dean with a slow grind. “I love feeling you against me,” Castiel confessed, braced above Dean on both of his forearms as he dragged his pelvis upward, the obvious length of his hard cock rubbing alongside Dean’s, tantalizing and barely enough through the fabric.

Dean echoed his sentiment into the slope of Castiel’s shoulder, his lips catching on skin as he spoke. It was warm beneath the sheets in the tight space they were occupying, but neither moved to change it, just letting it be.

Lining their cocks up more purposefully, Castiel kept up his slow, almost lazy rocking; the sex itself just an afterthought to the intimacy, getting off together somehow less important than sharing the experience together.

“Ahh,” Castiel let out above Dean, a noise of contentment as much as excitement, the sound coming out on a sigh as Dean moved his hands. He had his hands between them by then, his fingers spread over Castiel’s abs, enjoying the shift of them as Castiel’s thrusts slowly sped up.

“Yeah?” Dean asked, not even sure what he was asking, slightly delirious from the heat and the closeness and the sense of tight space and synchronized heartbeats.

“Yeah,” Castiel agreed, seeming just as drugged by Dean in return. “Yeah,” he said again, shifting his weight to one side, propping himself more firmly at the side of Dean’s ribs to free his other hand. “Can I touch you, milyj?” he asked, as if it was a thing they’d never done before.

Drunk on half-breaths and rumbled Russian endearments that inflated his heart behind his ribs, Dean nodded into the warm space alongside Castiel’s neck, tasting salt on his skin as he said, “Yeah, touch me—please touch me. Can I touch you too, Cas?”

Castiel’s nod was emphatic. There was no awkward scramble to remove their underwear; Dean slid his hand past the elastic of Castiel’s loose boxers and trailed his fingers along the smooth, warm skin of his cock for long minutes before he even pulled him clear of the fabric, and Castiel simply tugged the elastic of Dean’s underwear over his dick and behind his balls, before spending his time caressing the hot flesh of Dean’s sac and exploring him like he was something newly discovered.

Their lips slick and clinging, every shared breath between them carried a hoarse, throaty sound or soft gasp, and every time Dean dared open his eyes Castiel was looking back, claiming him from above with darkened blue eyes, wholly his.

Almost of their own accord, their hands slowly sped up. When Dean couldn’t stand it any longer, the pressure in his core tugging at him desperately, needing just a little more, Dean kissed into Castiel harder, his empty hand gripping into his hip and silently begging with an upward thrust.

Nodding and panting into Dean’s throat, Castiel pulled back only long enough to follow Dean’s directions to where lube could be found in the nightstand drawers. They only needed a little to ease the way, droplets of precum and the heat of the space having already been easing their touches.

But once they were slicked up it was easier. Shaking with sensation and gasping above Dean, Castiel wrapped a hand around them both, his hips jerking as he worked them both together. Their bodies worked in unison, bucking into the tight tunnel of Castiel’s hand. With both of his hands free, Dean grasped the sides of Castiel’s face as he came, pressing their foreheads together and groaning out “Cas, Cas…” between incoherent sounds.

Biting his lip and grunting, Castiel didn’t move from that position as he gazed back down at Dean, frantically sliding their cocks together until he spilled over them both while watching Dean come down from his own high.

They lay tangled, sticky and messy, for so long that Dean almost wondered if Castiel had fallen back asleep. But eventually, his face came up from Dean’s shoulder and he smiled beatifically.

“We should probably shower, after that,” he suggested, his voice rasping and dark, giving Dean an immediate clue as to how the rest of the shower would end up going.

“Yeah,” Dean agreed, stretching out reluctantly. “Worth it, though,” he added, pulling Castiel in for another kiss.

“Do you have any towels in here?” Castiel asked as they parted.

“Yeah,” Dean said, slowly pushing up onto his elbows as Castiel sat back on his heels. “There’s a few spare ones on the bottom shelf of my closet, on the left.”

Dean flopped back onto the pillows, an arm flopping across his eyes as he waited for something to wipe his stomach with.

After a minute, he lifted his head, turning to look curiously at Castiel. “Can’t find them?” he asked. “What’s taking so long?”

Castiel sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the closet, his head tilted as he reached out his hand, trailing it along the spines of the small bookcase Dean kept on the floor under his hanging shirts.

The same bookcase that Dean had put in the closet after Castiel moved in.

The same one that contained the entire well-thumbed collection of sexy works by J. Milton.

Embarrassment curled in Dean’s stomach as Castiel pulled a book off the shelf. “Dean, do you have any books on this shelf that aren’t mine?”

Groaning and flopping back onto the pillows, Dean covered his face with his hands. “There’s a thrift store copy of Slaughterhouse-Five in there somewhere,” he said defensively.

“No, that’s on the floor,” Castiel said, teasing. “Oh, look at this, you even highlighted things.”

“Oh, God,” Dean shook his head, laughing into his palms as he continued to cover his face. “I promise I’m not a stalker.”

Castiel cleared his throat.

Dean looked up, finally dropping his hands, to see Castiel smirking as he held up one hand, his thick, untitled manuscript dangling from between two fingers. “Lots of notes,” he pointed out.

“You knew I had that,” Dean grumbled sulkily, though he couldn’t help but grin as he rolled on his side.

“I didn’t know it was quite so well used,” Castiel teased.

“Well you should have, your work is very moving.”

“I’m pretty sure the emotional passages are not why people read my work, Dean,” Castiel chastised softly, finally taking mercy on Dean and bringing one of the towels over to the bed.

“I’m embarrassed,” Dean admitted, dropping his arm back over his face on the pillow once he was cleaned up.

Castiel shrugged. “Don’t be. I think it’s funny, though I don’t know why you hid them in the closet.”

“I didn’t want you to know I had a weird obsession going on with your books,” Dean admitted, laughing at himself. Though, he couldn’t help but pause to smile. Without those books, Dean may never have realized that Castiel was into BDSM, or worked up the courage to initiate anything with him. “I was hoping that I could pick up some things to help me work out what you liked,” Dean confessed. “I already told you I did that with the spreader bar.”

“That’s just smart,” Castiel comforted, reaching out his hands to pull Dean up off the bed. “Let’s shower. Then you can sit here in bed with me, red as a beet, and tell me what all your favorite scenes are while we eat breakfast. It will be adorable, I think.”

“You’re cruel,” Dean grumbled, walking past Castiel.

Dean wasn’t expecting the sharp slap across his ass, and it made him yelp. Turning back, he saw Castiel grinning, right before he pulled Dean back into another kiss.

“If you don’t tell me,” Castiel said, his words trickling over Dean’s bottom lip, “how will I know which parts we should reenact first, moj mal’chik?”

Thank goodness, Dean had enough favorites to last them a long, long time.