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For the Last Time

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“Why am I going again?” Dean pouted as he hoisted his duffel bag over his shoulder. “I’m needed at the shop.”

“Bobby said different, Dean.” Sam clasped a firm hand on his older brother’s shoulder. “You haven’t taken a vacation since Eileen and I got married three years ago. He said he can spare you for a cruise. Consider this a small portion of payback for all the things you’ve done for me.”

“Still, a cruise, Sam?”

“A singles cruise. Lots of people looking to mingle. It doesn’t even have to be forever. Can just be for the duration of the cruise.” Sam shrugged and let go of Dean’s shoulder. “Get on the ship before it leaves without you.”

Dean let out a sigh before pulling Sam into a hug. “Thanks. Bitch.”

“Have fun, Jerk.”

“Yeah, yeah. I’ll bug you if I’m miserable.” Dean turned and started walking towards the ship. He looked briefly over his shoulder to see Sam still watching him, as though he would bolt. He shook his head and briefly waved at his brother before heading to the gangplank to board the cruise ship.

xxx

Dean entered his assigned cabin, and unceremoniously dropped his bag onto the bed. He looked around, surprised at what his brother and sister-in-law had gotten for him. He dragged his hand down his face and sat on the queen size bed. He was still worried about the state of the garage without him, but maybe Sam, Bobby, and Eileen were right. He could use a vacation.

As he continued to take in his home sweet home for his trip, he noticed a gift basket sitting on the room’s built-in desk. He smiled as he stood up and crossed over to the desk. This group held nothing back. With condoms of every size, shape, color, and flavor, several different lubes, different sex toys, it was as though they fully expected their guests to get busy.

Dean pulled the different items out one by one until he came across a folder with the cruise line’s logo and “Cruise Itinerary” on it. He sat in the desk chair and opened it, excited to see what he would be up to for the next seven days.

“Sonofabitch.” Dean let the folder fall to the desk in shock. On the first page, in bright and bold letters: LGBTQ+ Mixer Cruise Itinerary. Dean blinked several times. There was no way Sam and Eileen didn’t know what they had booked him on, right? Did they think he had been single because he was Gay? While Swayze may get a pass, Dean knew for certain he was not Gay.

Dean shot out of the chair and looked out the window of his cabin. They had left port, so he couldn’t get off the ship. He pulled out his cell phone and found no signal. He did find wifi and went back to the folder to find the instructions to connect.

A few moments later, he was calling Sam over Skype. “Dean, miss me already?”

“Did you know?”

“Know what?”

“Don’t play stupid, Sam. This isn’t just a singles cruise.”

“Oh shit, are they old?” Sam started laughing. “Maybe that’s why it was a good deal. Sixty-five plus discount.”

“No, Sam. It’s for Gay People.”

Sam scoffed, “So?”

“So?! Sam, I’m not Gay.”

“Well, you sure as hell ain’t straight either.” Sam threw back. Dean could picture his younger brother’s bitchface perfectly.

“Excuse me?”

“Enjoy your cruise. Remember that Bisexual and Pansexual are LGBT too.”

The call ended with a beep, and Dean threw his phone on the bed. He huffed as he sat back down in the desk chair, his frustration with the situation souring his mood. Hiding in the cabin for seven days was not an option. He picked up the itinerary again and started to read it. While the chances of him getting laid had probably flown out the window, Dean could at least try to make some friends.

xxx

Luckily, the first night was just a casual meet and greet in the ship’s main bar. Dean figured he could slip in, grab a drink or two, scope out what exactly he would be dealing with, then head back to his cabin for some Netflix or whatever was available on the TV that was in there.

As Dean sat up to the bar and flagged down the bartender, a petite redhead sat in the seat next to him. “Sorry, apparently the guy can’t see me, and he’s coming right towards you. Can I piggyback?”

“Sure, Red.” Dean nodded at the bartender who came over. “I’ll take an El Sol, and for my friend here?”

“Lemon Drop. Extra cherries.”

Dean chuckled. “You heard the lady. Thanks.” He offered his hand to the redhead as the bartender went to fill their requests. “Dean.”

“Charlie.” She smiled as she took his hand and shook it. “I take it this is your first time on one of these cruises?”

“That noticeable?”

Charlie smiled as she got her drink and took the first sip of it. “Oh yeah. You got the air of a guy who’s just come to terms with his sexuality and is ready to show it.”

Dean choked on his beer, trying desperately to keep from spitting it out all over his new acquaintance. He set the bottle down on the bar and held up a finger as he caught his breath. “Not gay.”

“Figured you were bi.”

“Straight as they come.”

“You don’t have to be in the closet here.” Charlie gently punched Dean’s shoulder. “This is a safe space. No one is going to judge you.”

Dean shook his head. “I’m not in the closet. Was never in the closet.” He ran his hand down his face. “Brother set me up on this cruise as a vacation.”

“You’re serious?” Charlie scratched at her ear and looked around the bar. She shoved Dean’s beer back in his hand and grabbed her drink. “Let’s go.”

“What?”

“If you’re as straight as you say you are, it’s going to start getting very uncomfortable for you very quickly. You’ve already garnered some attention.” She pulled Dean off of his stool. “Where’s your cabin?”

“Woah, slow down there.” Dean threw his hands up in defense. “We just met.”

“Yeah, and I’m a textbook definition of a flaming lesbian. Let’s go.” Charlie turned Dean towards the exit and pushed him forcefully towards it. When they got out onto the deck, she stepped out from behind him and stood next to him. “You’re a lot taller than I thought. So which way?”

Dean laughed and pointed. “This way. And if you think I’m tall, you should meet my younger brother. He’s got a whole five inches on me.”

“I’m sure you two heard the whole ‘Did your parents feed you Miracle-gro?’ joke a million times growing up.” Charlie laughed when Dean nodded in confirmation. “So, are you and your brother close?”

“I would hope so. I raised him after our parents died.” Dean placed his hand on the shorter woman’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Red. I wasn’t saying it for sympathy. Just wanted to give you an idea. Mom died when Sam was still an infant, and Dad fell in love with the bottle. So I took care of him. Then when the bottle cheated on Dad and put Dad in an early grave, we went to go live with a family friend.” Dean paused. “Why am I still going?”

“I’ve been told I’m a good listener.”

“Right. Anyway, why’d you ask if Sam and I are close?”

“Would he play a prank on you?” Charlie inquired. “Like, send you on a seven-day cruise for LGBTQ singles?”

Dean stopped in front of his cabin door and pulled out his key. “He and his wife make good money, but not enough to spend on a prank like this.” He opened the door and let Charlie in.

“Damn. Okay then. Do they think you like guys?”

“I’ve only brought home women.” Dean shrugged as he sat in the desk chair. He pointed to the bed and offered it to Charlie. “I called him, and he said I’m ‘sure as hell not straight.’”

Charlie stacked up and fluffed the pillows before flopping on the bed. “Can you guys adopt me? I hear I’m a great little sister.” She smiled as she put her hands behind her head. “So, you’re here. You can’t leave. What are you going to do?”

“I mean, I’m an ally. I’m all for LGBTQ rights. I can make friends, right?”

“What part of mixer don’t you understand?”

“Bisexual people exist.” Dean snapped his fingers before pointing at Charlie, his hand forming a finger gun.

“They do. I bet if you stand up and look in the mirror, you’ll see one.”

Dean pouted and threw a packet of lube from the gift basket at her. “Smartass.”

“Yep, not an insult.” She picked up the packet and looked behind Dean. “You got a gift basket too?! Seriously. Adopt me.”

“Seriously, help me figure this out.” Dean dragged his hand down his face. “I’m not going to spend this entire trip hiding in my cabin.”

“Hand me the itinerary?” Charlie took the folder from Dean and started reading through the options. “Tomorrow is the Welcome Breakfast, that’s tame. Yoga…” She looked up. “No. Let’s see what else. Open swim all day, we can test that. Ooo, do you do Drag?” She was met with a death glare from Dean. “That’s another no.”

“Not your first rodeo?”

“Nope. Consider me your Fairy Gaymother.” Charlie gasped excitedly. “No way! They took my suggestion! They added more nerdy things. There’s open play board games, several tournaments, and some tabletop sessions.”

“Like Dungeons and Dragons?”

Charlie’s head shot up. “You’re a nerd too? Did we just become best friends?” She hopped off the bed and hugged Dean. “You know what? You don’t have to adopt me. I’m adopting you.”

“Okay, okay.” Dean gently patted her back. “Why are you so set on helping me?”

“I need a wingman, and you need… You need… Yeah.” Charlie shrugged sheepishly. She pulled her phone out of her pocket. “You have Skype, right? What’s your info?”

Dean took her phone and typed in his contact information before calling himself. He watched and shook his head as Charlie did a happy little nerdy dance when the theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark chimed. “Alright, there you go.” He handed her back her phone before saving her information to his contacts. “The wifi on the boat is stable, right?”

“Yep. I’ve never had an issue with it. So, I’ll call you in the morning to wake you up, let you get decent, then we’ll go get breakfast. Sound good?”

“Yeah. I’m glad that I’ll at least make a friend out of this.” Dean smiled, one of his first, full, genuine ones since realizing what happened. He stood up and walked Charlie to the door. “Catch you in the AM, Red.”

Charlie nodded and smiled as she exited the cabin and headed back towards her own. Dean closed the door behind him, kicking his shoes off as he locked the door. He hooked his phone upon its charger and fell back on the bed. A soft laugh fell from his lips as he started to fall asleep. No matter what happened this week, it was sure to be an adventure.

Chapter Text

Charlie called, waking Dean up before the tentative alarm he had set. She had wanted him to be decent when she got there, with “no man flopping” all over the place. Dean grabbed his stuff and hopped in the shower, still unsure if he was ready to face what would be his reality for the next nine days.

He was mostly dressed when Charlie knocked on his door and found himself subjected to a high pitched whistle and x-rated catcall when he opened the door shirtless to greet her. She gently turned Dean around and pushed him back into the cabin. “Ignore him. That’s Michael. Buried so deep in the back of the closet when not on the boat, he makes the rest of us uncomfortable when he’s dug his way out of it here.”

“And they let him keep coming back?”

“He technically doesn’t break any rules. Besides, you opened the door not wearing a shirt. That’s practically a mating dance around here.” Charlie crossed over to the shirts laid out on the bed. “So, you dressing to impress?” She picked up a green henley. “This one. It’s a little chilly out, and it’ll be cooler in the dining room still.”

“Thanks, Charlie.” He took the shirt and slid it on before grabbing the rest of his effects and filling his pockets.

“Yep. But I have a question for you. I was thinking more on it last night. You said your brother sent you on this cruise. He told you that you weren’t straight either. Honestly, I figured you were at least bi.”

Dean shook his head. “I don’t know why you two think that.”

“I’ll figure it out.” Charlie pointed to his feet. “Shoes, and let’s go. Don’t want to be late.”

“Didn’t realize we could be late for breakfast when you woke me up before it started.” He grabbed a pair of sandals out of his duffel and dropped them on the floor before sliding his feet into them.

Charlie’s eyebrow rose up curiously. “And a pedicure after we eat.”

“Rude, Red. Rude.” He crossed to the door and opened it. “After you, your highness.”

The two of them enjoyed a light breakfast and getting to know each other better. Dean explained how he and Sam ended up living in San Francisco while Charlie got into her job as a freelance ethical hacker.

“Yeah, remember that big scandal where Republican politicians were seeing money disappear from their Super PACs? That was me, an ex-girlfriend, and a few friends.”

“No shit. So it’s true that to avoid jail time, you can work for the F.B.I.?”

“Sort of.” Charlie pointed. “Damn, what is it with all the attractive new guys on this cruise? My 2, your 7.”

“I thought you were a les…” Dean turned around, and his jaw hit his chest.

“Bian? Yeah, I don’t want to sleep with him, but I can appreciate Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome over there.” Charlie kicked Dean. “Your bi is showing.”

“What?” His head whipped back around. “No. I, uh. I can also appreciate when a dude is attractive.”

Charlie scoffed. “So you didn't just imagine him lifting you up, slamming you against the wall, and claiming you?”

“Charlie!” Dean turned bright red.

“I mean, you’re a built guy, but he looks like a beefcake himself. Wanna wrap your legs around that waist?”

Dean shot a look back over his shoulder, glancing at the guy waiting to be seated. He was wearing a buttoned-down white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, showing tanned and toned arms. His dark brown, almost black hair was the epitome of sex hair, and he flashed a breathtaking smile to the tiny brunette he was with. Dean swallowed before turning back around and facing Charlie. He bent his hand back and stretched his wrist out and adjusted himself.

“Yeah, you’re picturing it now.” Charlie looked at the guy again and noticed the girl with him. “Ooh, she’s cute. Wanna do this? I’ll be your wingwoman, you be my wingman?”

“I’m straight.”

“Ok, let’s pretend for a minute that you aren’t.” Charlie held up her finger to silence Dean. “Whatever. Besides right now, have you ever found another man attractive?”

“Sure.” Charlie waved her hand for Dean to continue. “Swayze, Ford, Eastwood. The guy who plays Dr. Sexy.”

“Any non-celebrities?”

Dean swallowed and shook his head. “Not that I can think of.”

“None, whatsoever? You weren’t closer to certain guys than others?”

“Red, Sam and I didn’t stay in one area long enough to get attached to anyone. I think we both had a fling here or there.” Dean frowned at the memories of constantly traveling not sitting well with him.

“Well, didn’t Sam meet his wife? That doesn’t just happen if you’re constantly wandering. You guys settled down at some point, right?”

Dean ran his fingers through his hair before setting his arm down on the table. “Sam got to settle down. And go to college, and do his thing. I didn’t get to until later. But I don’t begrudge him any of that. I just made it so we could live.” He scoffed. “Sorry for being a downer.”

“You’re not. I’m pushing.” Charlie reached across the table and gently rested her hand on his arm. “How about we blow this popsicle stand? We can go swimming, or I can kick your ass at a board game.”

“Unless it’s Mouse Trap, I’d like to see you try and kick my ass.” He stood up from his seat and offered his hand to Charlie. “Where to?”

“If I remember correctly, it’s in one of the meeting halls on the deck below.” She stood up and looped her arm through Dean’s. “You’ll get used to the layout of the ship by tomorrow, I swear.”

Together, the two of them walked out of the dining room, unaware of a pair of brown eyes and a pair of blue eyes watching them leave.

xxx

During their walk to the cruise’s game room, Charlie and Dean settled back into a comfortable discussion. They found out that they had several more things in common, from their enjoyment of the Harry Potter novels to cheesy 80s flicks to LARPing.

Charlie grabbed his arm. “I’m serious. We get back in port, I’m printing off adoption papers.”

“Yeah, yeah. If neither one of us has a hookup tonight, I’ll skype Sammy and introduce you.” He patted her on the head before continuing walking in peaceful silence. After a couple of moments, they both stopped when they heard someone yell ‘Yahtzee!’

“You think someone is getting lucky Red, or you think we found the gaming area?”

They turned into the open room to find a multitude of people mingling over games ranging from Monopoly to Yahtzee to Settlers of Catan. Charlie let out a squeak and skipped further into the room to see what games were available, which left Dean hovering awkwardly by the entrance. Not fond of how dependent he had become on Charlie, he decided to walk through the tables to see what some of the other guests were playing.

Before he got too far, a heavy hand clasped Dean’s shoulder, whipping him around. He was face to face with the guy who had catcalled him earlier - Charlie had said his name was Michael - eyeing him up like a slab of meat.

“Well, isn’t it the new guy I spied this morning. Your little beard wander off?” Michael squeezed Dean’s shoulder, his voice causing Dean to cringe. “Does that mean you’ll actually be available for other people to get to know you?”

Dean brushed Michael’s hand off of his shoulder. “Sorry, dude. I don’t play for your team.”

“Hey, I get it.” The tall, lithe man stepped further into Dean’s personal space. “I’m straight too. I just like to have fun with pretty boys like you, where other people can’t find out.”

“I’m sorry, I meant I don’t play for Team Douchebag.” A few of the people around the two of them snickered, causing Michael to fluster. Dean, thinking the matter settled, turned to walk away.

“I wasn’t done talking to you,” Michael growled. “If you want to enjoy the rest of your trip, you’ll acknowledge me properly.”

“And I never started talking to you.” Dean quipped before he continued to walk away, offering a one-fingered salute over his shoulder. He couldn’t see the other man’s expression, but if the upgraded laughter was anything to go by, he hoped that it meant Michael would leave him alone for the rest of the trip.

As he paused next to a group of people playing a game of Mysterium, Charlie came bounding up to him. “I leave you alone for two seconds, and you manage to make a fool out of Michael, have half of the ship wondering who you are, and the other half wondering how to get in your pants. What did I miss?!”

“You weren’t gone that long.” Dean crossed his arms over his chest. “Anyone attractive, at least?”

“If you’re referring to Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome, haven’t seen him since breakfast.” Charlie dodged a swat before continuing. “What happened though? He apparently stomped out of here like a ‘petulant child.’”

“He attempted to hit on me. I turned him down. He really didn’t like no for an answer, apparently.”

“Well, to the people who know Michael and his antics, you’re kind of a big deal right now.” Charlie flipped her phone around and showed Dean an open group chat. “So much for wanting to stay under the radar.”

Dean read over some of the comments and felt the tips of his ears go hot. As Charlie had mentioned, a few of them were just grateful to see Michael taken down a few notches, especially by a new guy, while others were trying to fish out more details about him. He let out a sigh as he saw his picture a few times throughout the chat. “Well, at least you didn’t spill any details about me. I’ll just stay ultra-mysterious for this trip.”

“So, no more new friends?” Charlie pouted playfully and put her phone back in her pocket. “I think that’ll change.”

“Why’s that?”

“We’ll go to the open bar tonight, mingle, keep an eye out for our duo, and if that strikes out, Skype your brother. You made it sound like I need his stamp of approval.” Dean chuckled as Charlie continued. “And then tomorrow, I may have signed us up for D&D.”

“For real?”

“A nerd’s gotta nerd, and how else are we two nerds gonna find our forever nerds if we don’t nerd out?”

“Did you seriously just use the word ‘nerd,’” Dean paused and went over the sentence in his head, counting on his fingers, “five times in a sentence?” Dean smiled and shook his head, taking another punch to his shoulder. “So, we have some time to kill. Boardgames ‘til lunch?”

“You’re on.” Charlie pushed Dean towards a table as he mentally prepared himself to kick his new friend’s ass.

Chapter Text

Dean fell backward onto his bed. Charlie had kept him running all afternoon. Board games, lunch, swimming, and then she insisted on hunting for the pair that they had seen at breakfast. She took him on what the veterans referred to as the circuit.

While Charlie had warned him that it was considered the “cruising ground” of the ship, he hadn’t been prepared for his newfound popularity. Charlie introduced him to the people that she knew and helped exit him out of conversations quickly. They even managed to run into Michael once on the circuit, and while Dean braced for a confrontation, the man walked by without sparing him a glance.

Unfortunately, their lap of the circuit didn’t yield any results. When Dean suggested that maybe they had imagined the duo at breakfast, Charlie immediately dubbed them Lulz and Roffle, the unicorns they would keep searching for. He rolled his eyes and headed back to his cabin to take a nap and shower before meeting back up with Charlie for dinner and the open bar.

His phone went off, letting him know someone was Skyping him. Dean grabbed the phone and answered it, “What’s up, Red?”

“Just making sure that you’re awake, old man. How was the nap?”

“It was great. Shower was good too. Now I’m just waiting on a certain new partner-in-crime to get here so we can go get some grub.”

“I just left my cabin, I’ll be there in like two minutes,” Charlie informed him. Dean stood up and crossed to the door before sliding on his shoes. “There’s still no sign of Lulz and Roffle.”

Dean rolled his eyes and opened his cabin door. “Well, I’m waiting outside for you.” He cradled the phone between his ear and his shoulder as he turned around to close the door. “So, how long are we planning on sticking around at the Open Bar tonight?”

“Turn around.” Charlie was coming through in stereo, indicating her arrival. She disconnected their call and gestured with her head in the direction of the dining room. “I mean, are you going to have the balls to talk to tall, dark, and dreamy if he shows up?”

“Charlie, not into guys.”

“You’re totally into him. Plus, I watched you check out a few other guys while we were on the circuit earlier. You’re not as subtle as you think.”

Dean shrugged as a non-answer and continued walking.

“There is something that your brother knows that I don’t know, isn’t there?”

“Think there’s going to be burgers available for dinner, Red?” Dean deflected as they turned into the dining hall. “I could use a burger and a beer.”

Charlie rolled her eyes before slapping Dean on the chest. “Shit, they’re here.”

“What?!” Dean’s head snapped up and looked over in the direction Charlie had been looking. “Where?”

“I knew it!” Charlie held up two fingers for the hostess, and the pair followed her to a seat. “You are interested. And this ‘I’m straight’ thing is what? You covering for something?”

The menu became a makeshift barrier that was doing little good to keep Charlie’s questions out.

“Dean, please. If I’m being obnoxious and pushing too much, just tell me, I’ll back off. But I was serious about wanting to be your friend, and I’m serious about wanting to help you out.”

“Fine. Here’s the deal. One drink at the open bar, and we go back to my cabin. I can’t do this without Sam.” Dean ran his hand down his face. “Besides, we can get a drink to go when we finish our first.”

“You can’t tell me the story sober?”

“I can, and if you think I get drunk off of two beers, you’ve got a lot to learn.” Dean’s knee started bouncing nervously under the table. He pulled out his phone and sent a quick message to Sam to make sure that he would be available this evening. It fumbled out of his hand, falling to the table with a thud when he went to set it down.

“Dean?” Charlie reached across the table and gently put her hand on top of his. “Hey, we don’t have to do this. We can stop and rewind. Pretend that this never happened.”

Their waitress came over to the table to take their drink orders before leaving them alone again. Dean took a few deep breaths before looking at Charlie. “I guess this trip was Sam’s way of telling me that it’s okay. I need that answer, and I’ll get it with you there, and everyone will get their answers.”

“Okay?”

“But it’s not going to be me coming out of the closet with a full rainbow and hot pants and tank tops.”

Charlie laughed before quickly covering her mouth. “I’m sorry. That was kinda rude. I just never expected that out of you.”

“Yeah, I know.” Their waitress returned with their drinks and took their food orders before leaving the two of them alone again. Dean took a sip of his beer before smiling at Charlie. “Thanks, kiddo.”

“For what?” She cocked her head in confusion.

“For being an obnoxious little sister.”

“Oh, thank goddess. The adoption is still on.” Charlie returned the smile as Dean rolled his eyes at her.

xxx

The rest of their dinner went off without a hitch or a sighting of Roffle and Lulz. The duo continued their never-ending conversation of getting to know each other and realized that they could have indeed been siblings.

However, upon arriving at the open bar, things became quite chaotic. Several people came up to Dean, asking to buy him a drink - “This is an open bar, seriously?” - If they could have a dance with him - “Not unless you want a broken toe, sorry.” - or if they wanted to get out of the bar and have some private fun - “Not leaving my wingwoman alone to fly solo.”

Charlie had no problem making fun at his expense, and after the third person, a cute guy named Aaron, was turned down, she went from spectator to commentator.

“Ladies, Men, and Gentlethems, I do believe we’ve got the score back from the judges. Ah yes. They’ve given Dean a solid 8.4 for that decline. It probably would have been higher if he didn’t drag his friend into it.”

“Shaddup.” Dean rolled his eyes and took a sip of his now only-slightly-chilled beer. “Are you going to do this for the rest of the night?”

“As long as they keep coming.” Charlie smacked Dean’s shoulder. “And here’s another one.”

A handsome man slid on the stool next to him and offered his hand. “Dean, right? I’m Victor.”

“Hello.” Dean took his hand and shook it as the bartender came and took Victor’s order.

“Look, I’m not here to hit on you, although you are a handsome guy. I’ve seen you turn down three other people already.” Dean’s eyebrow piqued curiously, and even Charlie leaned forward on the bar to see what the guy was playing at. “Most of the boat knows what happened between you and Michael earlier today. As I’m sure your galpal has told you, most of the veterans to these events have access to a chat room to keep in touch, and it spread like wildfire from there.”

“Yeah, I’ve been warning him about his popularity all day.” Charlie offered.

“Well, Michael’s not used to being rebuffed. He knows most of the alumni won’t touch him with a ten-foot pole, and because of your actions, none of the ‘fresh meat’ will come near him either.” The bartender returned, and Victor took a sip of his drink. “That being said, you’re on his shit list. Now I’m not saying keep your head down. But, just be wary of the things you do on the rest of the cruise. And maybe make another friend or two. While Red here looks like a great wingman, it’ll be better to have an additional friend to vouch for you.”

“You offering?”

“When you two aren’t doing your nerd things? You can find me lounging poolside or in the movie theater.” Victor handed his phone to Dean. “Hit me up with your Skype details. And don’t worry. I won’t send the nudes unless you ask.”

“How did you know about the nerdy things?” Charlie inquired as Dean entered his contact info on the phone.

“The word was that Dean here told Michael off in the gaming hall.” Victor winked and took back his phone from Dean. “I’ll catch you two later. Enjoy the rest of your night.” He slid off his seat and disappeared back into the crowd.

Silence fell between Charlie and Dean as they took Victor’s warning into consideration. Charlie spoke up first. “Ready to head back to your cabin? I think it’s getting a little stuffy in here.”

Dean nodded and followed her out of the open bar and out onto the deck. They took a moment to appreciate all the stars they could see without the sky pollution back onshore. He took a deep breath, savoring the salt air before gently nudging Charlie in the direction of his cabin. They walked in silence, taking in the sounds of the idle chatter and the waves.

“Hey, Charlie?” Dean asked as they stopped in front of his cabin.

“Yeah?”

“Do you know how to sign?”

Chapter Text

Dean set his laptop up on the desk and positioned it so the camera could see both the chair where he would sit and the bed where Charlie was currently lying down. “Yeah, sorry, Red. I forgot to mention Eileen is deaf. She can read lips, but it’ll be easier if I sign for you. She speaks fine though.”

“No problem.” Charlie flipped through the itinerary to get a rough idea for the rest of their trip. “It’s actually pretty cool that you know how.”

“You do what you need to do for family.” Dean shrugged. “Alright. Picture looks good as long as you don’t move, Charlie. You sure you’re comfortable?” Charlie nodded, and Dean hit the button to call his brother.

Sam picked up on the second ring. “You’re bored already? Not even trying?”

“Shut up, Bitch.” Dean sat back in his chair to show Charlie lying on the bed behind him. She waved briefly. “I made a friend.”

“Well, I’m impressed. Jerk.” He signed to someone off-screen, and after a moment, Eileen joined them. “Alright, we’re here.”

Dean signed as he spoke. “Well first, Sam, Eileen, this is Charlie. Charlie, this is my brother Sam, and his wife-who-can-do-so-much-better, Eileen.” Sam rolled his eyes while Eileen giggled. “So, I’m going to rip the bandaid right off. Why did you guys send me on an LGBT Cruise?”

Eileen’s head tilted in confusion. “Ask that again?”

Dean resigned the question, not bothering to speak it. Sam was stewing, and his face was a mix of guilt and signature bitchface.

“Sam said he told you what type of cruise it was, and that you were comfortable with it.” She turned to look at Sam.

Charlie took the opportunity to slap Dean’s shoulder to get his attention. “Is it bad that I wish I had some popcorn?” She whispered to him, causing him to chuckle. “What’s he signing?”

“Basically that if I knew, I wouldn’t come. I can’t say he’s wrong.” Dean cleared his throat. “Lovebirds?” Sam pointed at the screen so Eileen knew Dean was talking. “Okay, now that I have your attention again, I’m not angry. I just need to know why you booked me on an LGBTQ cruise.”

Eileen spoke up. “Ash.”

“Really, Sam?” Dean glared at his brother. “Is that the only reason? Or is there something I’m missing?”

Charlie piped up, and Dean translated for her. “Who’s Ash?”

Before Dean could start talking, Sam spoke up. “How we know Dean likes guys. I don’t know how much he’s told you Charlie, but Ash was Dean’s quote-unquote best friend.” Sam looked to Eileen then to Dean. “Can I keep going?”

Dean paused; he could choose to keep this buried, or he could address it and clear everything up. He closed his eyes, a million thoughts running through his head before he nodded. “Yeah. Translate for the ladies, please, Sam?” He stood up and offered his seat to Charlie and took her spot on the bed when she got up. He debated grabbing headphones and listening to music so he didn’t have to hear about Ash but decided against it. Instead, Dean chose to start grounding himself for whatever Sam and Eileen explained to Charlie.

“I’m not sure what Dean told you about our life growing up.” Sam started, and Dean rolled his eyes, focusing on a spot on the ceiling. One. “After our mom died, our dad became a vagrant. Couldn’t hold a job down, moved us around a lot. We ended up spending a lot of time at Bobby and Ellen’s. They were friends of our parents.

“Ellen had two kids from a previous marriage: Jo and Ash. Whenever we were dropped off at their place, Ash and Dean were inseparable. Dean and I are close because of our childhood, but I mean…” Sam paused, his voice hesitant. Dean took a deep breath, catching the subtle quiver in his brother’s voice. He looked to the side and laid his eyes on the clock on the nightstand. Two.

Eileen took over the conversation for him. “I wasn’t around for long before the accident, but even I could see how close Dean and Ash were.” Dean breathed out, knowing what she was going to say next. “I thought they were together.”

“Two men can just be best friends, Eileen.” Dean didn’t bother sitting up. He could see the top of Charlie’s head. Three. He hoped that Sam translated for him, and took a deep breath in.

“Of course they can, Dean. But do you understand, with how the two of you were, that’s not how straight, platonic, best friends behave?” Dean breathed out during Eileen’s rebuttal, thankful that Sam did translate instead of yell at him. He took in another deep breath and saw the sprinkler on the wall. Four.

“Um, I don’t mean to be insensitive.” Charlie cut in, and he breathed out slowly. “You keep using Ash’s name in the past tense. Does that mean he’s… not around?”

Dean closed his eyes, seeing stars and abstract patterns. Five. He took in another deep breath before bracing himself for the answer.

Sam’s baritone blanketed the room. “Ash died in a fire. Almost four years back now.”

Dean breathed out slowly and opened his eyes. He refused to move, refused to allow Charlie to see the tear that escaped his eye. He ran his fingers over the cool satin of the blanket. One.

“It was a hard time for all of us.”

He ran his fingers over his jeans, they were rough but comfortable. Two.

Eileen rejoined the conversation. “Dean didn’t speak for days. He didn’t eat. He barely drank.”

Dean gripped the hem of his henley shirt, the soft cotton a contrast against his fingertips. Three.

“Okay, so Dean lost his best friend. That can screw anyone up.” Dean mentally marked a point in Charlie’s favor before noting the cold air blowing on him from the A/C. Four.

“It’s not that simple, Charlie.” Sam cut back in. How much did Sam know? Someone was laughing loudly as they walked past his cabin. One. “Dean was pretty much a grieving widower.”

Dean bit back a whimper. He tried to block out Sam and heard the lap of the ocean against the ship. Two.

“Look, I know I just met Dean yesterday. I obviously don’t know him as well as you all do. But what I’m hearing is circumstantial. Sure, I think he’s into dudes. But ‘because his friend Ash died,’ doesn’t sound like evidence to me.”

Dean felt a pang of guilt prick his heart. Then he heard a chair scraping across a wood floor. Three.

“Yes, I know Sam,” Eileen spoke up. “Charlie, Dean is still behind you, right?”

“Yeah. You know, it’s kinda mean that we’re talking about him like he’s not here, but he’s been right behind me the whole time.” Dean attempted to chuckle at Charlie’s defense of him and inhaled deeply through his nose. The smell of the ocean surrounded him. One.

“Charlie, Dean was supposed to be with Ash that night.” Eileen’s voice was gentle, despite the words hitting him like a sledgehammer. “They were supposed to be home together. In the apartment that they shared.” Dean smelled smoke. He knew the acrid smell wasn’t real, and he shouldn’t have counted it. Two.

Dean sat up on the bed. The squeaks of the springs and the rustling of the blanket caught Charlie’s attention and caused her to turn around. “Bobby asked me to stay later at the shop that evening. We had a rush order on a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner. I’ve always been a sucker for working on classic muscle cars.” Dean fought to keep the tears back. “I called Ash, told him I’d be late and not to worry. Told him ‘Nothing Else Matters.’ Next thing I knew, the Sheriff was at the shop.”

“Why would you tell him that nothing else matters?” Charlie tilted her head in confusion. “I don’t want to risk our budding siblingship, but that doesn’t sound very nice.”

Dean’s voice dropped to just above a whisper. “‘So close, no matter how far/Couldn't be much more from the heart/Forever trust in who we are/And nothing else matters.’” A single tear managed to escape down Dean’s cheek. “I lied, Charlie. Ash was my exception. I loved him.”

Dean tasted soot, and he tasted Ash.

One.

Chapter Text

Dean didn’t know how the pillow ended up in his arms, or why the string on his jeans was so fascinating, but he couldn’t listen to the suddenly hushed voices in front of him. Dean said it. The words that had been whispers between him and Ash, now spoken out loud.

“Dean?” A small, warm hand rested gently on his shoulder. “Dean, I need you to talk to us.”

He looked up into soft green eyes, searching for pity and finding none. “You’re not supposed to love your best friend like that. Dad told me that.”

“Yeah, well, fuck Dad.” Sam’s voice rang clear over the laptop. “He wasn’t there when we needed him. He wasn’t there to raise us. Ellen raised us. Bobby raised us. And they knew, and they didn’t care. They wanted you and Ash happy.”

“How did you all know?” Dean looked at the monitor and watched as Sam signed to Eileen. “We didn’t tell anyone. We kept a two-bedroom apartment. We sure as hell weren’t all touchy-feely.”

Charlie sat next to Dean and rubbed his back, as Eileen answered. “You wear your heart on your sleeve, Dean. You may think there was nothing for us to see, but we caught the stolen glances, the lingering touches. You two spoke to each other in song lyrics as code. Charlie may not have known what ‘Nothing Else Matters’ meant, but Sam and I did.” Eileen spared a glance at Sam, who nodded his head. “We know you both had your reasons for not telling us, but we all knew and figured you would tell us in your own time.”

“Dean?” Charlie wrapped her arm around his shoulder and squeezed him gently. “You don’t have to answer this aloud, but I want you to think on it, okay?” Dean nodded, and Charlie continued. “Are you afraid of pursuing another guy because you think it would tarnish what you had with Ash?”

A quiet “Huh,” came through the speakers, and Dean turned to look at Charlie. She gently wiped away the tears that Dean didn’t notice had fallen. “I… I don’t know.”

“You don’t have to answer right now,” Charlie took Dean’s hands into her own. “We did a lot of unfair poking and prodding on what should be your vacation. What I want you to do is say goodnight to Sam and Eileen, okay? I’m going to get you a glass of water, and you’re going to go to bed.”

Charlie stood up and gently tugged on Dean’s hand. He crossed over to the seat set up in front of the laptop and faced his brother and sister-in-law. “I’m not going to hear the end of this, am I?” Dean asked, signing for Eileen.

“Dean, all we want is for you to be happy. We haven’t seen that since Ash died, and you refuse to give yourself that chance. One night stands with faceless women isn’t cutting it.” Sam ran his fingers through his hair before resuming his signing. “I told you, this doesn’t have to be you finding happily ever after, but this is a chance to show you that it’s ok to try again.”

“And that we love you unconditionally. Nothing will change that.” Eileen added. “Now, go listen to the newest member of the family. Don’t do anything to scare her off. I want to get to know her better.”

“If you want to Skype tomorrow, you can. But try and have fun, please.”

“I hear you, Sammy. I do. Goodnight, both of you.” Dean waved before disconnecting the call. He stood up and stretched before fixing the pillows and climbing back onto the bed. “It doesn’t take that long to make a glass of water, Charlie.”

Charlie peeked out of the bathroom before coming out with a glass of water. “I know, but I figured you all deserved some privacy there for a little bit.” She crossed over to the bed and handed the glass to Dean. “You going to be okay, or do you want me to stay?”

“I’ll be fine, I think.”

“It’s okay to not want to be alone, Dean.” The petite redhead gestured for him to drink. “Plus, platonic snuggles are totally in right now.”

Dean finished off the water and set the glass on the nightstand next to him. “I’ll be okay. I promise. Just come get me for breakfast?”

“Of course. We need to continue the search for Lulz and Roffle!”

“I swear, those names.”

“You’re the magical liopleurodon.” Charlie leaned down and kissed Dean’s temple. “Try and get some rest, okay?”

“Yes, Mom.”

Charlie laughed as she walked over to the cabin door and opened it. “I’ll skype you in the morning. Goodnight, Dean.” She closed the door quietly behind her, leaving Dean to his thoughts.

Dean rolled over and grabbed one of the pillows, hugging it to his chest again. Charlie’s question and thoughts of Ash lulled him into a fitful sleep.

xxx

With all of the previous night’s events, Dean forgot to set his alarm. Which didn’t matter, as he forgot to put his phone on its charger. He didn’t hear Skype go off on his computer either, which lead to a very worried, very upset Charlie pounding on his door.

“Can you blame me?” She sat on the foot of the bed as Dean changed clothes. “That was an emotionally charged conversation last night. You were talked about like you weren’t in the room, you were practically outed by your brother and sister-in-law, then officially came out to the three of us, all while talking about…” Charlie stopped and looked at her hands. “Sorry, you probably didn’t want to have to hear it all again.”

“It’s ok, Red.” Dean held his hand down and helped Charlie to her feet. “I would be lying if I said it didn’t suck, but it was also helpful in a way.”

“You’re not just saying that?”

“I’m not just saying that.” Dean crossed the room and opened the door. “Come on.”

The walk to the dining room was quieter than their previous treks. They were seated in a different section than the night before, which yielded them more privacy but also obscured their view of the rest of the room. Charlie leaned back in her seat and put her feet up on the bench next to Dean. “I know it’s only been a few hours, but did you think about what I asked?”

Dean held up a finger as he sipped his coffee. He set down his mug and leaned back in his own seat, copying his adopted ginger. “I think it’s a whole lot of things, Charlie. You saw that I was afraid that my own brother wouldn’t accept me. My dad, if he were alive, he would disown me.” He ran his finger around the rim of his mug. “I don’t know if Ash was actually out to Ellen and Bobby, but I know they’d love him unconditionally. Fuck, I’m stupid to think they wouldn’t still love me too.”

“I think they would love you unconditionally, This is day three, and I’m pretty hooked on calling you a sibling.”

“Yeah.” Dean chuckled and took another sip of his coffee. “Still, I think there was something there when you said that I’m hesitant ‘cause of Ash. He was…” Dean paused and smiled fondly. “You’re actually a lot like him.”

“When you’re ready to tell me about him, I’m all ears.”

Dean nodded and finished off his coffee. “So, when does D&D start?”

“Smooth Dean.” Charlie pulled out her phone and swiped around. “We’ve got about a half-hour, but we can start heading over. They said they have pre-made characters, but if we got there early enough, the DM might let us roll our own.”

“Sweet. Time to roll some numbers and drop the intelligence.”

Charlie tilted her head in confusion. “Do you even know what you’re going to roll?”

“Nope. Don’t care. Don’t need to be intelligent to beat something up.”

“Right.” Charlie sat up and smacked Dean’s feet off the bench. “Self-deprecation noted. Let’s go.”

As the two of them left the dining room, Dean caught the sound of a warm, deep laugh. The sound was musical, and he turned to locate the source. His eyes locked on the sapphiric blue eyes of Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome. Dean tried to get Charlie’s attention, but she had already exited to the deck. He looked back to his unicorn and smiled to himself before following after Charlie.

“Did I lose you?” Charlie joked as Dean caught up to her.

“Nope. I found Lulz and Roffle. You ran out too fast.”

“Wait, where?”

Dean pointed over his shoulder. “In the dining room, obviously.”

“Shit, and we can’t get back in until lunch.” Charlie paused and looked curiously at Dean. “Wait. I thought you weren’t looking for them?”

“I wasn’t. I heard… which one is the guy again?”

“Roffle.”

“Right.” Dean rolled his eyes. “I heard Roffle laughing. Well, I heard laughter, and the sound was just...” Dean stopped when he saw the shit-eating grin on Charlie’s face. “Nope, I’m done. Let’s go, Red.”

“Awww, come on. You were smiling!”

“Nope, you wanted to roll a character.” Dean gently turned Charlie around and started pushing her towards the gaming area. “Come on.”

Charlie started walking on her own, causing Dean to stumble a little. “Did he notice you?”

“I don’t think so. Someone that gorgeous can have anyone on this damn ship, I’m probably kinda far down on his radar.”

“Okay. Step one was figuring out why you were on this cruise. That’s been accomplished.” Charlie turned into the game room. “Now, you’re telling me that Mr. Confident isn’t actually all that confident and suave, and I have to actually show you that you are a worthy human being too?”

“Heh, I’m actually pretty confident when it comes to the ladies, Charlie. Just when it comes to guys, well. You got that story last night.”

“I got that you haven’t had a lot of experience with guys. But honestly? You sell yourself short.”

Dean waited until Charlie signed herself in and signing himself in before responding. “No, I have the experience of being with a guy. Ash and I were together for…” Dean counted on his fingers. “A long freaking time. But, I didn’t even have to try to be with him.” He held up his pointer finger. “That came out wrong. I mean, we focused on each other; we made what we had work. I meant that we just clicked. There was no flirting or wooing or dating. We kinda realized what we were, and we never looked back.”

“Then it’s a good thing we’re role-playing today, isn’t it?” Charlie smirked. “Practice on the people at the table. Flirt with them. Charisma is not your drop stat in real life. Use it when we play.”

“Holy shit.” Dean’s jaw dropped in realization. “This was your plan all along.”

“Caught me. Let’s go. I still want to roll my own.”

Chapter Text

Charlie’s plan worked ridiculously well. As in, Dean couldn’t believe how well it worked. Their table had consisted of several other people, including the guy Aaron from the night before and a handsome guy by the name of Benny. Going with what Charlie said, Dean had chosen to roll a Bard, something he never would have done on his own.

On several occasions throughout their session, he had flustered both Aaron and Benny with his skills that involved Charisma checks. Diplomacy, Performance, the DM had made him roll for a Persuasion-that-turned-into-Seduction check; they were easily passed, and he had the table eating out of his hand.

“Oh my god, Dean. That was hands down one of the best D&D campaigns I’ve ever been a part of.” Charlie giggled breathlessly. “And dude, you are a slick casanova. I mean, were you even pretending?”

“A little of both, I think.”

Charlie pulled out her phone. “Well, whatever you did, if you do that in with the guys on this ship, they’ll be eating out of your hand.” Charlie showed Dean her phone. “So, we can go back to the Dining Room for lunch, or we can do the Cantina.”

“What’s good at the Cantina?” Dean ran his finger up the phone, scroll the page.

“Tacos.”

Confidence restored, and stomach growling, Dean smiled. “You had me at Tacos.”

The two walked the remainder of the way in comfortable silence. Charlie told Dean to grab a table and promised that she would order only the best item off the menu for him. He found a table that had a good view of the area, and sat down and pulled out his phone to play on while waiting for Charlie to join him.

Dean finished sending off a message to Sam when a smoky voice caught his attention. “Is there room for one more to join you and your friend?”

“Uh, one…” Dean locked his phone screen and looked up. It was Lulz, the petite brunette that hung out with Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome. “Wait. You’re… you’re the one chick.”

“You know me?” Lulz sat down at the table. “I gotta hear this one.”

“You, uh. I’ve seen you around.” Dean looked over to Charlie, hoping to get her attention.

“Same could be said about you, Dean.” Lulz followed Dean’s eyes. “Ah, there she is. Just to confirm. Not a couple, right?” Dean shook his head no. “Good, not awkward if I flirt with her then?”

“I think you’d make her dreams come true.” Dean paused and tilted his head. “Wait, how do you know my name?”

“You honestly don’t think this entire ship knows your name? You’re a big damn celebrity.” Lulz unwrapped her food. “Mind if I start eating? Looks like Ginger Snap is bringing yours now.”

Dean shook his head no. “Go ahead. So if you know who I am, does that mean your friend does too?”

“Who? Clarence?” The brunette took a bite of what looked to be one of the best damn burritos Dean had ever seen. “Yeah. Thinks you’re pretty sweet on the eyes too, but I didn’t tell you that. It’s his first time here, and he’s nervous about the whole thing.”

“How convenient. It’s Dean’s first time too.” Charlie sat down across the table from Lulz and kicked Dean in the shin. “Dean, are you going to introduce me to your new friend?”

“Yeah, of course. Charlie, this is. Uh. This is...” Dean covered his face with his fist, remembering that he didn’t get Lulz’s real name.

“Megara. But please, call me Meg.”

Charlie unceremoniously placed Dean’s food in front of him. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Not yet, it isn’t.” Meg winked. “So, it’s Dean’s first time. Not yours, though?”

“Third, actually.”

Meg leaned across the table. “Well, ain’t that a charm.”

“Christ, get a room.” Dean opened his box and started digging into his tacos.

“If I wrench Charlie here from your grasp, I definitely plan on doing that.”

“Is that a promise?”

“Not in front of my food. Seriously.” Dean took a large bite of one of the tacos.

Charlie pulled out her phone. “Go watch movies with Victor, he’ll take care of you. He promised, remember?”

Dean swallowed his food, slightly choking as it possibly went down the wrong pipe. “Did you just ask Victor to babysit me?”

“You promised, and you can’t be alone while Michael is plotting some kind of revenge.”

“This sounds promising.” Meg looked between the pair. “You offended Michael that badly? It’s not like you outed him.”

“No, Dean just neutered his pride. Balls completely removed.” Charlie took a large bite of her taco, pausing to savor it. “Damn, I forgot how good these are. Anyway, I didn’t get to see it, but eyewitness accounts say Dean here put Michael in his place and boosted the confidence of other newbies Michael had been hitting on.”

“Yeah, Clarence blew him off too. First time it was half-hearted, but the second time, man, he threatened to knock Michael a few more pegs if he tried again. I was so proud of the little tree topper.”

“Clarence?” Charlie looked at Dean before looking back at Meg. “Is that your friend, the tall guy with the dark brown hair?”

“Sex on legs? You can say it, it makes him blush.” Meg wiped her face off with her napkin. “Castiel. That’s his real name. Some sort of religious, angel name. Hence me calling him Clarence.” Meg smirked at Dean. “You interested, handsome?”

Dean turned bright red and focused on his tacos again.

“I told you, Castiel thinks you’re attractive-” Charlie lets out an unholy squeal, interrupting Meg. “Ooo, I wonder if I can get you to make that noise on my own accord, Ginger Snap. Anyway, he’s just a bit on the shy side.”

“Where is tall, dark, and handsome?” Charlie asks while excitedly hitting Dean’s shoulder.

“He’s laying down. He went a little overboard on the swimming.” She pulled out a second voucher card. “I promised to bring him lunch, and I will, but I wanted to introduce myself.” Meg took a bite of her burrito. “So, what do you say, Ginger Snap? You and me tonight?”

Charlie took a peek at Dean, who waved at her to go. “I think that sounds great.”

xxx

After lunch, and Meg and Charlie swapping their information to get together later that evening, Charlie and Dean met up with Victor and his friend Nick. They had set up in the makeshift cinema on the ship, which was currently playing Hedwig and the Angry Itch.

“Good for you, Charlie. And potentially good for you too, Dean.” Victor tipped his head in celebration. “I will say though, we were planning on hitting up the Dance Party tonight. You’re still more than welcome to join us.”

“Sorry, I don’t really dance. Plus, I don’t think I brought anything that would be appropriate to wear.”

Charlie smacked Dean’s arm. “You’re going. I’ll go through your clothes with you.”

“Honestly, I think it’s the ladies that do most of the dancing anyway.” Victor took a sip of his drink. “I don’t remember. I was not sober for it the last time I was here.”

“Nope, it’s a clusterfuck of bodies on the dance floor.” Nick tore his eyes away from the screen and looked at the rest of the group. “The music is like a siren’s song. You don’t have to dance well at all.”

“Hmmm…” Charlie picked up her cellphone and started typing.

Dean perked up and watched Charlie carefully. “I don’t like that. What are you doing, Red?”

“She’s plotting for you.” Victor laughed. “Don’t you know what it looks like when a woman is scheming?”

“I’m not scheming! I was just asking what my plans for the evening were. I like dancing.”

“Yeah,” Dean scoffed, “and that timing wasn’t just perfect.”

Charlie put her phone down. “I’ll be there. Meg likes dancing. It can be a prelude to other things.” She wiggled her eyebrows.

“Don’t want to hear it,” Victor stated, turning his attention back to the screen.

“So, my options literally are to go to this dance thing or to stay in my room?” Dean groaned and ran his hands down his face. “Fan-fucking-tastic.”

“You can hang out at the bar. I doubt you’ll want to, though.” Charlie winked before looking at her phone. “Let’s finish the movie; we’ll hit your room, get your outfit picked out, get dinner, then split to get dressed.”

After the movie finished, Charlie held Dean to her word.

“Did you honestly think you were going to pick up the ladies with this stuff?” She unceremoniously threw several flannels on the bed before finding Dean’s teeshirts. “Oh, thank goddess. And you have one in white.” She set that to the side before going through the pants. “You only packed blue jeans?”

“I did tell you I’m a mechanic, right? I like durable.” Dean crossed his arms over his chest. “Besides, you’re wearing jeans right now.”

“Yeah, and I have a miniskirt and a tank top for later.”

Dean rolled his eyes and grabbed the white shirt, folding it and setting it on the desk. “So, what’s wrong with the pants?”

“You want the polite answer or the answer that’s more…” Charlie gestured vaguely with her hands.

“Hit me with it.”

“No one’s going to want to grind up against those. Although, you know what you can do?”

“What?” Dean raised his eyebrow skeptically.

“Wear your swim trunks.”

“No.” Dean shook his head. “Those are for the pool, they don’t hide anything, they show my legs, they’re meant for swimming.”

Charlie laughed. “Just think that you’ll be swimming through an ocean of men.”

“I hate you.”

“I love you too.” She walked into the restroom and grabbed his swim trunks and tossed them at him. “Put those with your shirt. I can build up your confidence while we eat.”

Dean rolled his eyes as he folded up the swimsuit and put it with the teeshirt. He crossed over to the door and opened it, gesturing for Charlie to exit. “After you, milady.”

Chapter Text

Dinner was too short and took too long for Dean’s liking. He didn’t want to actually go to this dance thing he was being dragged to, but Dean knew that the longer it took, the longer he would have to suffer. Charlie walked him back to his cabin with the promise that she would be back in 15 minutes to help him get ready while she did her own makeup.

Getting dressed didn’t take him long at all. Dean rolled his eyes as he looked at himself in the mirror. He shook his head and pulled out his phone to shoot a message to Charlie to let her know he was ready. Dean sat on the edge of the bed and slowly rocked back and forth, his hands gripping the side of the bed. He counted from one to ten, then from ten to one while taking steady, even breaths. Dean would not let himself panic now. He couldn’t.

A knock at the cabin door pulled Dean out of the spiral he found himself in. He stood up and crossed over to the door and open it to a smiling Charlie. She smiled brightly, holding up a pair of bags. “Make-up for me, and you, if you want some, and some hair stuff to help with,” she gestured at Dean’s head, “this. Although I’m not sure you’re going to need much if anything.” She sat at the desk where the laptop had been set up the night before. “I’ll do my make-up first, it doesn’t take me long. You will tell me why you’re so nervous.”

Dean looked at Charlie and tilted his head. “Nervous? Why would I be nervous?”

“Dean, I’m your new best friend. Reason that happened is because we figured each other out really fast. Like right now, you know you can’t lie to me, but you figured you would try anyway. I figured out you’re nervous because your knuckles are still a tinge on the white side.” Charlie looked into a mirror and applied some kind of lip goop. She puckered her lips before speaking again. “Tell me you don’t want to do this, and I won’t push you.”

“I do want this.” Dean looked at his hands. “I’ve been thinking about what you said, and what Sam and Eileen have been getting at.”

“And that is?”

“I need to move forward.” Dean let out a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding in.

“I’m going to ask a personal question. You don’t have to answer it.”

Dean laughed. “You know you’ve done this once before and almost broke my brain, right?”

“Hush. I’m asking.” Charlie took a moment. “When’s the last time you were touched in an intimate, non-sexual way? And I mean intimate, not familial.”

“I don’t understand?”

“Did you and Ash touch each other just to feel one another? To know that the other was there?”

Dean nodded.

“Have you had that since Ash died?”

“Oh.” Dean hung his head and shook it.

Charlie nodded. “Yeah. I agree that you should try to move forward, but no one would think less of you if this is too much.”

“Why the change of heart?”

“I see how nervous you are.”

“I’m going to be honest, while what you said makes sense, that’s not why I’m all wound up. What’s making me nervous is that this–“ Dean gestured at himself. “–isn’t me.”

“Wait, seriously?” Charlie crossed her arms over her chest.

“Yeah.”

“You do amazing with the flirting and the interacting with people.” Charlie smiled. “I don’t want to set you back when you’re willing to make progress. I shouldn’t mess with that.”

Dean pulled Charlie into a bear hug, earning a squeak from her. “I appreciate that Red, I really do.” He let her go and made for his duffle bag. “I’m going to go change into jeans and throw a henley on. Then we’ll head over, okay? I’ll sit back at the bar and make sure that only Meg gets her paws on you. If I meet a nice gal or guy, I’ll talk to them.”

“That sounds like a really fair trade.”

“Good, 'cause you’re not getting better.” Dean quickly grabbed his clothes before ducking into the bathroom. Once he changed, he slid out into the room again and did a spin, causing Charlie to giggle.

“I thought you couldn’t dance?”

“I said I don’t dance. Never said I can’t.” He gestured at his face. “You done covering up your pretty face with all that stuff?”

Charlie closed her eyes and sighed. “Yep. Are you ready?”

“As ready as I’m going to be.” Dean crossed over to the door and slid his sandals on before opening the door and letting Charlie out. “Where’s this party at?”

“Again, with the sandals! Seriously?” She jabbed her elbow playfully into his ribs as she slid out the door. “Main ballroom. Trust me, we’ll hear it soon enough.” Charlie practically skipped along the deck as the music got louder. “See?”

“It’s more like hear, and yes, I do.” Dean stopped as Charlie came to a stop close to the entrance. “What are we doing?”

“You, you can go in. I won’t be too far behind. I’m meeting Meg, remember? I said I’d be out here waiting for her.” Charlie grabbed Dean’s arm and turned him around before pushing him at the entrance. “You said you wanted this. Do it!”

Dean kept himself from stumbling at Charlie’s shove and walked calmly into the ballroom. While he didn’t know what it looked like undecorated, he could tell that it was decorated to look like a hip club you find in a big city like New York or Los Angeles. He shook his head and made a bee-line for the bar.

Plenty of spots were available, but Dean still chose one further away from the dancefloor. Dean figured that he promised Charlie that he would interact with people, but he didn’t have to be the one to start conversations. Hopefully, if he were lucky, the only people he would converse with would be Charlie, maybe Meg and Victor, and the bartender.

As though his thoughts had been heard, the bartender came over, flashing him a smile. “What can I get for you, gorgeous?”

“Something dark and smooth.” Dean winked, the corner of his mouth curling up into a smile. The bartender rolled their eyes but turned and ducked down, pulling a bottle of beer from the fridge beneath the bar and popping the cap off.

“Start with that. If it’s not to your liking, the dance floor will probably have all the flavors you can dream of.”

Dean blushed and took a sip. “Thanks.” He turned on the stool to face the entrance and watched as Charlie and Meg entered hand in hand. He took another swig, hoping to hide the disappointment that he didn’t see the Castiel guy with them. “Oh well,” Dean thought, “at least his wingman knows when to back down.”

“Getting comfy already, Dean?” Charlie giggled as she leaned on Meg. “You have to do at least one dance, okay?”

“He dances?” Meg eyed Dean appreciatively.

“He said he can dance, just that he doesn’t. I want him to put his money where his mouth is.”

“I’m right here.”

“We know.” Charlie and Meg replied at the same time before laughing.

“Shit, now I have to put up with two of you. I’m not surviving the rest of this cruise.” Dean brushed them towards the dance floor. “Go have fun. I’ll keep an eye on you two.”

“Like we need protecting.” Meg rolled her eyes. “You sound like Clarence. Let’s go, Ginger Snap.”

Dean took another drink as he watched the two ladies run onto the dance floor. The lights in the ballroom dimmed, and some weird flashing light shows started on the walls as an upbeat song started playing. Dean rolled his eyes but smiled as he saw Charlie get excited and throw her arms up and start dancing with Meg. He figured she deserved a night off from his bullshit.

Dean heard a small commotion and glanced back towards the entrance and saw Michael enter with a few people. A few people had jeered at him, but quickly left him alone when they realized he wasn’t worth it. Dean turned back to the bar and drained his beer, waving down the bartender for another one.

Dean took the first sip of his beer when he felt a familiar, unwanted hand on his shoulder. “So, Dean. Having a good time so far?”

“Go away, Michael.”

“I’m flattered. You know my name. Does this mean you’ve changed your mind?” Michael leaned back against the bar. “A simple yes, we can go back to my cabin, have a little fun.”

“Remember when I said I never started talking to you? That still applies here.” Dean turned to look at Michael. “I want nothing to do with you.”

Michael tried to lean in closer to Dean. “You don’t know what you’re missing out on. I can give you anything and everything.”

“It’s all about quality, and I know a shit show when I see one.” Dean drained his beer. “You need to learn that no means no. It doesn’t mean ask me later, it doesn’t mean you can wear me down. I mean, fuck off.”

“You’ll be saying yes soon enough.”

“You wish.” Dean waited for Michael to leave, but it became apparent that the douchebag wasn’t planning on going anywhere. He waited for the next song change, a bright, upbeat song. “Well, shit, wouldn’t you know. I love this song. Gotta go.” Dean pushed past Michael, deeming the dance floor a better place to be.

I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums
Oh, what a shame that you came here with someone.
So while you're here in my arms
Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young

He quickly found Charlie and Meg dancing to the beat. They smiled at him briefly but quickly refocused on dancing with each other.

We're gonna die young
We're gonna die young

“Michael is following you.” A warm, gravelly voice spoke into his ear. Dean nearly melted on the spot. “Dance with me, he’ll go away.”

Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young

He turned around, coming face to face with Castiel. It took a moment for Dean to remember to breathe, his eyes having locked on the sapphiric blue ones and taking away his capacity to think.

“Dean,” Castiel’s voice pulled his attention back. “Dance with me.”

Dean could only nod in response.

Castiel placed his hands on Dean’s hips and pulled him in closer. “Sorry in advance if I’m not very good.”

Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young

Dean swallowed his heart back down into his chest.

Young hearts, out our minds
Running 'til we outta time
Wild child's lookin' good
Living hard just like we should
Don't care who's watching when we tearing it up, you know
That magic that we got nobody can touch, for sure

Dean found his arms draped on Castiel’s shoulders, fighting the urge to run his fingers through the luscious, dark brown locks. Castiel’s fingers were hooked in Dean’s belt loops, helping to keep the pair of them tangled together.

Looking for some trouble tonight, yeah
Take my hand, I'll show you the wild side
Like it's the last night of our lives, uh-huh
We'll keep dancing 'til we die

Despite Castiel’s warning, Dean found the two of them effortlessly dancing and moving in sync with one another. Dean felt his heart trying to pound his way through his chest and wondered if Castiel could feel it too.

I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums
Oh, what a shame that you came here with someone
So while you're here in my arms,
Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young

Castiel pulled him in closer, the illusion of personal space entirely out the window. Dean swore that he could feel sparks fly between the two of them and prayed that Castiel could feel them too.

We're gonna die young
We're gonna die young

Dean let out a small gasp as Cas’ hands traveled further back on his hips, pulling him in even closer, their chests and hips pressed firmly together.

Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young
Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young

Forgetting the restriction he put on his own hands, Dean let his fingers get lost and tangled in the soft locks of hair, lightly gripping and pulling it as his body melted and melded against Castiel’s. Dean earned a rakish grin from his dance partner.

Young hunks, taking shots
Stripping down to dirty socks
Music up, gettin' hot
Kiss me, give me all you've got
It's pretty obvious that you've got a crush, you know
That magic in your pants, it's making me blush, for sure

As if on cue, Castiel winked and spun Dean around. He grabbed Dean’s hips again and pulled him back in close, grinding against his ass. A whimper caught in the back of Dean’s throat as his head fell back against Cas’ shoulder.

Looking for some trouble tonight, yeah
Take my hand, I'll show you the wild side
Like it's the last night of our lives, uh-huh
We'll keep dancing 'til we die

Unwilling to be outdone, Dean dropped down into a squat before slithering his way back up Castiel’s firm chest. He felt the other man’s heartbeat speed up, and Dean blushed with pride that he had that effect on Castiel.

I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums
Oh, what a shame that you came here with someone
So while you're here in my arms,
Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young

Castiel’s hands were back on Dean’s hips the moment he was standing up again. His grip was tighter than before, and Dean smiled at the possessiveness of his dance partner.

I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums

Dean placed one of his hands on top of one of Castiel’s.

Oh, what a shame that you came here with someone

He let his head fall back on Castiel’s shoulder.

So while you're here in my arms

He reached his arm back around, his fingers entangling in Castiel’s hair.

Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young

Peridot green eyes locked on to sapphire blue eyes.

We're gonna die young

Dean broke their eye contact to look at Castiel’s lips, before looking back at Castiel, almost pleading.

We're gonna die young

Castiel leaned forward and crashed their lips together.

Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young

Chapter Text

“Can we get out of here?” Castiel turned Dean around and spoke into his ear.

“Please.” Dean smiled as Castiel took his hand and led him off the dance floor and towards the exit. They paused at the rail and took a few minutes to catch their breath. Despite the fact they had practically been making out in the middle of the makeshift club, their glances were now shy and flirty.

“I know that was probably strange, and I’m sorry for assuming that you couldn’t handle yourself, but thank you for trusting me.” Castiel smiled at Dean. “I saw that he was harassing you at the bar, but before I could get to you there, you already made your way to the dance floor.”

Dean chuckled and ran his fingers through his hair. “It’s all good, Castiel. Michael wasn’t taking no for an answer, and no one else was stepping up.”

“So you do know my name. I thought Meg was making that up.”

“I thought it was Clarence at first.” Dean turned around and leaned back on the rail. “Something about you being named after an angel.”

“Yep. Meg thinks she’s cute, then you need to remind her that she was named after the wife that Hercules killed.”

“Sounds like you two are a riot at parties.”

Castiel moved closer to Dean but continued to look out over the ocean. “She is. Probably the reason she’s getting along so well with your friend. I get the feeling that you and I are the wallflowers.”

“I’m hilarious.”

“I can wait for the jury to come back on that one.” Castiel looked up at Dean and smiled.

“You wound me, Cas.”

“Cas?” One of his eyebrows raised up in question, and Dean’s only thought was that it shouldn’t be so hot.

Dean coughed, clearing his throat, “I mean, come on, you have to admit your name is a bit of a mouthful. Cas-Tee-El. You’re Cas.”

“I guess I can let you get away with it.”

“I appreciate it.” Dean leaned over and bumped his shoulder into Cas’. “So Meg said this was your first time on the cruise too?”

“I was blackmailed. She threatened to tell my family that I’m Gay before I did.”

“And she’s still your friend?” Dean’s jaw dropped. “I’m not understanding here.”

“Honestly? I only told the brother that I genuinely care about. He didn’t care. I gave him permission to out me.”

“And?”

“And, I got a free trip, where I’ve met a devastatingly handsome man who I heard may be interested in me.” The corner of Cas’ mouth quirked up in a smile. “You? How’d you end up here?”

“My brother and sister-in-law. ‘Dual-purpose vacation.’” Dean rolled his eyes. “I thought I was pretty securely closeted. Apparently, those who love you? They still know. So they sent me on this cruise for me to have fun, and to let me know that they accept me no matter who I love.”

Cas laughed. “Sorry, I don’t know the full story, and I know it’s impolite to laugh, but we’re both here because we needed to be outed.”

“Huh, I didn’t think of it that way.”

“Come on, everyone will be here. Let’s go to the bar upstairs.” Cas bumped Dean’s shoulder, returning the earlier gesture.

“Damn, and here I thought you wanted to take me back to your cabin and ravage me.”

“Night’s still young.”

Dean’s grip on the railing slip as he pushed himself up, and he stumbled walking after Cas. “That’s just evil.”

“So, the devastatingly handsome man is interested?” Cas turned and winked at Dean.

“I don’t know if he will be for much longer.” Dean gestured for Cas to go up the stairs first as they approached them. “I mean, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome keeps picking on him.”

“Seriously?”

“What? I didn’t know your name until a couple of hours ago. Be glad that was the name I picked. Charlie was running around calling you and Meg ‘Lulz and Roffle.’”

Cas tilted his head as they entered the upstairs bar. “I don’t understand that reference.”

“That might actually be for the better.” Dean pointed at a table in the corner. “Grab that? What’ll you have?”

“Just grab me whatever beer you’re having.”

“And if I wanted a mixed drink?” Dean crossed his arms over his chest.

“You haven’t yet.”

Dean’s jaw dropped. “Stalker.”

“Pay attention to your surroundings.” Cas walked over to the table while Dean headed up to the bar.

As Dean waited for the drinks, he shot off a quick message to Charlie [Left with Castiel. Pretty sure you won’t look for me anyway. Have fun with Meg. I don’t want to know anything.] He grabbed the two beers and walked over to Cas. “Come here often?”

“That’s one of the worst pick up lines ever.” Cas took a sip of his beer.

“Good thing I don’t have to use it on you then.”

“I could get up and walk out.” Cas looked towards the door then looked back at Dean. “Not going to let a lame pick up line ruin it.” He pulled out his phone. “Before I forget, and you can call me stupid, tell me to take a walk, but um…” He pushed his phone across the table. “Can I get your info?”

“Why would I say no?” Dean smiled as he picked up the phone. Skype was already loaded, and Dean just needed to swipe to the contacts screen.

“I mean, we did just officially meet. I know we’ve been looking for each other. And I know that I can’t seem to keep my eyes off of you when I do see you.” Cas let out a sigh and turned bright red. “I’m so sorry.”

“Cas, can I ask you a question?” Dean finished typing in his info, then sent a test call to himself. His phone’s Raiders of the Lost Ark tone chiming. ”When we were dancing, did something feel… right?”

Cas held his hand out for his phone. “I believe one would say that I felt a connection, yes.”

“It felt like electricity shooting across my skin, Cas. In all the good ways.” Dean handed Cas his phone. “The only reason I agreed to leave was because we were two seconds from getting hot and heavy on the dance floor.”

“That would have been awkward.” Cas swiped through his phone. “Really, Dean? ‘Devastatingly Handsome?’”

“Shouldn’t have told me,” Dean smirked.

“I think you should be told all the time. I think you need to be told how incredible you are.”

Dean blushed bright red. “I’m good.”

“Oh, I’m sure.” Cas leaned forward on the table, resting his chin on his knuckles. “What all are you good about? What do you like?”

“I like what I see.”

“Dean.” Cas’ voice took on a rich, authoritative voice that sent shivers down Dean’s spine. “If you don’t want to talk about sex right now, that’s fine. We did just meet. But I still would like to get to know you.”

“That, let’s do that first.”

“Very well.” Cas gestured with his hand. “Dean, tell me a little about yourself.”

“My name is Dean Winchester. I am an Aquarius. I enjoy sunsets, long walks on the beach, and frisky wom- people.”

“Still getting used to saying that?”

Dean nodded. “I’m trying. You, Cas?”

“I’m Castiel Novak. I’m a Virgo. I like bees, counting the stars, and open-minded men.”

“I don’t even know which part I want to unwrap there.” Dean paused. “Actually, move forward. What do you do for a living?”

“I’m a High School Science Teacher, you?” Cas pointed at Dean. “Wait. No Hot for Teacher jokes. I get them enough from Meg.”

“Dammit. Fine. I’m a Classic Car Restoration Specialist. Fancy way of saying I’m a mechanic.”

“That’s incredible. Why are you putting yourself down?” Cas frowned. “It takes a lot to restore older cars.”

Dean shrugged. “It’s all I’m good at, really.”

“I’ve heard differently.”

“Unless you magically spoke to my brother or… Charlie?”

Cas shrugged his shoulders.

“I’m going to strangle her. She said she couldn’t find you.”

“Yes, but who did you have lunch with today?” Cas reminded Dean.

Dean crossed his arms on the table and rested his head on them. He spoke, but he knew that Cas would be unable to hear him, and he planned to keep his plots of murder to himself.

“You going to come up for air?”

Dean shook his head no.

Cas laughed. “Are you going to talk to me, or am I just going to talk to the top of your head for the rest of the night? As lovely of shade your hair is, I much rather look at your freckles, or your eyes, or your lips.”

Dean felt the tips of his ears go hot as he blushed. He lifted his head slightly and looked at Cas through his eyelashes. “The girls are evil.”

“I agree with that. Full heartedly. But we’ve met, and we’re talking, aren’t we?”

Dean let his head fall to his arms again and nodded. He took a deep breath in and exhaled slowly before sitting back up. “Out of curiosity, What all did Red tell you?”

“Assuming Red is Charlie?” Cas shrugged. “Mostly that you’re kind, friendly, funny. That you’re competitive. You’re a huge flirt. That you’re horrible at the game Mouse Trap, but could probably kick anybody's ass at Magic the Gathering...”

“We did one draft. I got lucky.”

“Hush. Charlie also told me that she and Victor had convinced you to go to the dance tonight. That’s the only reason I came.” Cas reached across the table and extended his hand. “And I’m glad I did.”

Dean slipped his hand into Cas’ and took a deep breath. He closed his eyes and waited for the panic to rush over him. When it didn’t hit, he opened his eyes and looked at the man sitting across from him. Cas was smiling and being patient. “Charlie didn’t tell you anything else?”

“No.” Cas shook his head. “Should she have?”

“Uh, no. Just, you’re almost too good to be true.” Dean let go of Cas’ hand and grabbed his beer, chugging it. “Look, I do want to see you again, but I need to go right now.”

“Okay?”

“I swear. This is…” Dean took a deep breath and started to look around the room for different items to count. “Please, I’m not ready for you to see this yet. Skype me tomorrow? We can meet for breakfast?”

“I would like that a lot.” Cas stood up. “Do you want me to walk you back to your cabin?”

“I’m good, I need to go on my own. I’ll be okay in the morning.” Dean started towards the exit. “Breakfast, ok?”

Cas nodded and waved as Dean hit the exit of the lounge. Dean took a breath of fresh air and turned towards his cabin. He ambled, taking the extra time to wonder why everything was going right. Nothing in his life went right. His mom died. His dad died. He gave up his life so Sammy could succeed. Ash died. Meeting Charlie and Cas on this trip? He knew that something was going to implode and destroy his happiness.

Dean stood in front of his cabin and pulled out the key from his pocket. A heavy hand landed on his shoulder and pushed him up against the wall. He was pinned, and a pair of lips that were not the soft, honey-sweet ones of Cas pressed and bit into his. He tried to push the person off of him, but he was stuck. Their hand was holding his face in place.

A flash went off, and the person who had attacked Dean backed off, laughing. The sound made his blood run cold.

Chapter Text

“Thank you, Bart.” Dean slid down the wall as he recognized the voice. Michael crouched down in front of him. “I’m sorry it came to this Dean. But I said I wanted you. If I can’t have you, I’ll make it so no one else will want you. Including that pretty boy of yours.” Michael kicked Dean’s foot. “Bart’s sharing that in the chat now as we speak. It looks so much like you’re enjoying it. You’re going to be so pent up, and with no one else to say yes to you, you’ll be saying yes to me. Just like I said you would.”

“Fuck you.”

“I look forward to it, Dean.” Michael looked at Bart. “Is it up?”

The guy with Michael nodded. “It’s causing a lot of controversy. You better hope they believe you over him. This is a bannable offense.”

“They won’t believe him.”

“Shit, we gotta go. His beard is on the way.”

As if on cue, Dean’s phone went off. Michael and his friend quickly walked away from Dean, leaving him sitting on the deck with his knees curled to his chest. A few moments later, Charlie showed up with Meg in tow.

“Dean, what happened?”

Dean shook his head and let it fall to his knees.

Charlie took his key out of his hand and gave it to Meg, who unlocked his cabin. “Dean, listen to me. I don’t believe for one second what Bart and Michael are saying. I have the message that says you left with Castiel, ok?” She bent down and put her hands under his arm, guiding him to stand up. “Oh thank goddess, I thought you were going to make us lift you.”

“Not that mean,” Dean grumbled.

“I know, Dean. I wasn’t implying that you were. Let’s get you inside, you can tell us what happened.”

Dean sat down on the edge of his bed and watched Charlie and Meg interact with each other. He kicked his sandals off and pushed himself farther back on the bed, resting against the headboard. He watched as Charlie took her heels off and gave the key to his cabin to Meg. Meg offered a sad smile before walking out the door and closing it behind her.

“You gave my cabin key to Meg?”

“Yep, because I’m staying here tonight. I’m not leaving you alone. She’s going to go talk to Castiel.”

The first tear escaped out of Dean’s eye.

“Dean?”

“He believes it, doesn’t he?” Dean asked quietly. “I could see why he would.”

“Tell me what happened? Did you two fight? Did you not get along?”

Dean shook his head. “The opposite actually. I felt. I mean, I really felt alive. We had a connection on the dance floor, then we talked under the stars, then we headed to the lounge on this deck. We were talking, and it felt good.”

“So, why were you alone?”

“I panicked.” Dean rested his head on his arm. “He wanted to hold my hand. I wanted to try it. And I waited for the panic, for something to happen. But nothing bad happened.” Dean scoffed. “I’m such an idiot. He admitted that you two had been talking, and I asked him what you told him about me. When he was so patient, so kind, so calm, I thought you might have told him about Ash. He said you only told him things about me being a good person and nerdy. I’m such an idiot.”

“So we can explain that all to him. From what we’ve learned, he is an understanding person.”

“Charlie, I told him that I wanted to go to breakfast with him in the morning, but just let me go tonight. For all he knows, I could have had plans with Michael.”

“I highly doubt that.” Charlie stopped as her phone went off. She held her finger up. “My personal opinion? I would bring him. But I’m going to put Dean to bed. He’s two steps away from a full-blown panic attack, and I think that’s why he left Castiel in the first place.” Charlie fidgeted while waiting for Meg to explain things from her side. “Look, Dean said something about meeting Castiel for breakfast?” Charlie pulled the phone away from her ear as Meg was yelling loudly. “Okay, so we’re making sure that’s still on then? Swing by here with Dean’s key, and you go cuddle pile with Castiel. We still have a couple more nights. Okay, hanging up now.”

“See?”

“He’s worried about you, he knows you were attacked and is upset we won’t let him near you.” Charlie slid off the bed. “I’m stealing a tee shirt, okay?”

Dean nodded then froze. “Wait. He doesn’t believe them?”

“No, and from what chat is saying, a lot of people don’t. People have eyes, Dean. The majority of the people on the ship were at the dance tonight, and not to trigger your panic attack further, but a lot of eyes were on you two. Damn, that was…” Charlie fluffed her shoulders like a bird fluffs their wings. “Yeah. You two are like the ship’s OTP. The two guys who have knocked Michael down off his pedestal.”

“The guy he was with, Bart?”

“Yeah, he’s not normally a douche. Wonder how he got dragged into this.” Charlie shrugged. “Sorry, close your eyes, and continue.”

Dean shut his eyes as Charlie changed out of her clubwear. “He said that what Michael did was a bannable offense?”

“Oh hell yeah. You can open your eyes.”

“How do we know he hasn’t done anything like this before?” Dean listened and opened his eyes. “Really? You pulled out my one printed shirt?”

“Yep. I love Zeppelin. And no, we don’t know. But this is the first time he was stupid and actually shared evidence. Do you know how many people have the photo and can use it against him? I know it’s a shitty thing to say, but you’re kind of a hero twice over.” Charlie crawled up onto the bed next to Dean. “Are you well enough to throw on your pajama pants? I know jeans are not comfortable enough to sleep in.”

“Yeah. I’ll be right back.” Dean got off the bed and grabbed his pajamas off the floor. “Don’t go hogging the whole bed. It’s always the small girls that do that.”

“Rude.”

Dean closed the bathroom door behind him and stared in the mirror for a moment. He had jinxed himself hard. Somehow, he still had Charlie by his side, watching over him and protecting him. His Fairy Gaymother as she called herself. And if what Charlie and Meg said was true, he could still very well have Cas. Dean wasn’t a religious guy by any means, but as he looked at himself in the mirror, he prayed to anyone that would listen. Don’t take this away. Please let me keep this.

Dean finished getting changed and stepped back out to find Meg talking to Charlie. “Hiya Dean-O.”

“Meg.”

“I have a message from Cas. Tiel. Sorry, he said only you can call him Cas.”

“Oh?” The corner of Dean’s mouth perked up in a small smile.

“Atta boy. Clarence says, ‘He’s holding you to the breakfast promise. He’s regretting that he didn’t insist on walking you back to your cabin, and he needs to see you with his own two eyes.’” Meg smirked at Charlie before looking at Dean again. “I’m also supposed to tell you, ‘He doesn’t want to lose you before he knows where the two of you are going.’”

Dean quickly sat on the edge of the bed before he lost his footing completely. “Cas said all that?”

“Scout’s honor.”

Charlie perked up. “You were a Girl Scout?”

“Nah.” Meg shook her head. “I ate a brownie once, though.”

Dean facepalmed, and Charlie groaned.

“But yes, Dean. I swear. All those lovely words were from Clarence himself.”

“See, I told you. Now lay down.” Charlie smiled at Dean before turning to give Meg a peck on the cheek. “Go take care of Castiel. You can confirm that he’s in mostly one piece, and I’ll make sure he’s there for breakfast.”

“Sounds good. See you in the morning Ginger Snap.”

Dean laid down in his bed and watched as Charlie walked Meg out of his cabin. She whispered something to the brunette, causing Meg to smile. He looked back up to the ceiling of the room to give the ladies their privacy and started counting backward from 50.

The door shut, and Charlie jumped on the bed next to him. “I’m surprised you didn’t hop into a scalding hot shower.”

“I haven’t said no to the idea yet.” Dean closed his eyes and cursed to himself as he lost track of what number he was on.

“Centering yourself?” Dean nodded in response to Charlie’s question. “Are you ok with cuddles? Cause I think you kinda need them.”

Dean sat up and readjusted the pillows behind him. He fluffed them up and moved them around so he could sleep comfortably on his back. “Come here, Red.” He took in a deep breath as Charlie snuggled up against him.

“I’m sorry this trip hasn’t been going your way.”

“I’m used to it by now. It’s like cruising down a highway, listening to your favorite song, then something just goes wrong. You can get a flat, or you can get t-boned by an 18-wheeler.”

Charlie looked up at Dean and huffed. “You’re kinda not exaggerating there, are you?”

“Nope.” Dean popped the p hard as he shook his head. “I told you our Dad fell in love with the drink after our Mom died? He ran a red light when drunk, was t-boned by a semi. We started living with Bobby and Ellen permanently then.”

“And you had other issues along your road of life?”

“That’s an understatement. Detours, road bumps, u-turns.” Dean chuckled, then pulled the blanket up over himself and Charlie. “No wonder I became a freaking mechanic. I love my car metaphors.”

“Clearly. You going to be able to sleep?”

“Hopefully.” Dean breathed in deeply before letting out a heavy sigh.

“What can I do to help you sleep? Like, no joke, I will sing you a lullaby.”

Dean chuckled. “I appreciate that, Charlie. Believe me, I do. But I just… I just don’t feel right. I’ve done things with guys to make sure Sam and I survived. That was the first time I wasn’t in control or able to take back control."

“What about Ash?”

“I loved him and trusted him. I was with Ash for years, Charlie. That’s different.” Dean yawned and closed his eyes.

“Are you afraid to try that again?”

“Mhmm. Little bit. I don’t want to lose someone like that again.” Dean settled back deeper into the pillows. “I would like it again, but I don’t know if I could survive that kinda thing again.”

Charlie’s voice softened to a calming tone. “That sounds like a lonely way to live. Hiding away from love because you’re afraid of getting hurt.”

“I know it is. But I haven’t seen a reason to do it any,” Dean cut himself off with another yawn, “any other way.”

“You’re willing to try if you find a reason?” Charlie inquired, her head shifting against Dean’s arm.

Dean nodded and hummed his confirmation as sleep slowly claimed him.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Dean stirred to the sound of Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter. Charlie disentangled herself from his arm and reached over to grab her phone off the other nightstand.

“Morning, my geeky goddess. You did, but that’s ok.” Charlie slid out of bed, and Dean stretched, realizing that his arm had fallen asleep. “I’m pretty sure we’re still on for breakfast, yeah.” She turned to look at Dean. “Looks like he’s waking up too.” Charlie pulled the phone away from her ear, presumably checking the time. “Give us about a half-hour? Yep, and we’ll meet you there. No, that part is still on. See you soon.” Charlie hung up the phone and hopped back on the bed. “Morning, Sleepy Head.”

Dean grumbled and sat up. “Morning. That Lulz?”

“You know her name now.” Charlie laughed. “And yes, it was Meg. She and Castiel are awake. He’s apparently anxious as all get out to see you.”

“I don’t understand why.” Dean swung his legs off of the bed and stood up, stretching and popping all his muscles and joints back into place. “He’s not responsible for me.”

“I swear, you are so dense sometimes.” Charlie crossed over to the desk and picked up some clothes.

“You just met me.”

“And you’re being dense. My point stands.” Charlie got behind Dean and pushed him towards the shower. “Go shower. Get dressed. I know you heard my half of the conversation.”

“Going. You going to be here when I get out?”

Charlie held up the clothes in hand. “Yep. Can’t change until you’re in there, though. Go.”

xxx

Forty minutes and a “where are you at” phone call later, Dean and Charlie met with Meg and Cas in front of the dining room. Dean saw Cas and blushed, suddenly finding a spot on the deck vastly intriguing.

“Alright, you two. Behave. Ginger Snap and I are going to enjoy breakfast alone since we ended up bunking with guys when we wanted to bunk with each other.” Meg pushed Cas towards Dean. “Bite, don’t bite, we don’t care. Just make sure you two have fun.”

Charlie and Meg linked their arms and headed into the dining room, leaving Cas and Dean alone. A few moments of silence passed between them before Cas spoke up. “How are you feeling this morning, Dean?”

“Honestly?” Dean rubbed the back of his neck and looked at Cas, “I don’t know. I feel like I should know. I feel like I should want to break something, or I should want to hide. I’m just here.”

“I’m sorry about last night.” Cas offered, his head tilting to the side. “I’m not sure what went wrong between us, and then to be physically harassed by Michael.”

Dean’s jaw dropped. “Nothin’ went wrong between us, Cas.” He ran his hand down his face. “Crap. I guess it looked that way, huh?”

“Very much so. Forgive me for being so bold, but I was extremely worried about you last night.” Cas offered his hand. “Let’s go in? We can talk some more.”

“Yeah. Okay, Cas.” Dean took Cas’ hand and followed him into the dining hall.

It didn’t take long for the two of them to be seated in a private booth. After placing their orders and getting their coffees, Cas broke their self-imposed silence. “So, what did happen? If something didn’t go wrong between us, why did you run?”

“It’s been a long time since I’ve done something like this.”

“Like what?” Cas inquired, smiling softly.

“Try to get to know someone. Want to get to know someone. I panicked last night because I didn’t panic.” Dean scoffed and took a sip of his coffee. “Shit, how screwed up is that? I didn’t panic at you holding my hand last night. I was expecting it, it didn’t happen, so I panicked anyway. I’m fucked up.”

“That doesn’t make you fucked up.” Cas paused and looked at Dean. “You realize you took my hand when we came in here, and you didn’t ‘freak out.’” Cas used finger quotes, and Dean couldn’t help but laugh.

“I guess not, huh?”

Cas offered his hand again. “Look, I know we’ve just met, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t drawn to you. Whatever pace you need, I’ll take it. That’s why I was afraid I messed up last night.”

“The dancing?” Dean eyed Cas’ hand before taking it. “You saved my ass, and I enjoyed it.”

“And then you ended right back up in trouble. No one’s buying what Michael is saying, but he still attacked you, he still…” Cas hung his head. “I should have walked you back to your cabin.”

“Who knows what would have happened then, Cas. This wasn’t your fault.”

“No. It was Michael’s. He would have waited for you as long as he could. I get that.” Cas looked up, apologetic, “But, I still feel like I could have done something.”

Dean gently squeezed Cas’ hand. “There is something you can do.”

“I’m listening.”

“From my understanding, no one’s been able to do anything about Michael, right?”

“That’s what Meg told me.” Cas nodded in confirmation.

“I really don’t want to see the picture, but I need a copy of it. And I wouldn’t mind your support.”

Realization lit up on Cas’ face. “You’re going to report him.”

“Charlie said nothing could be done before because it wasn’t enough. There’s photo evidence of him forcing himself on me.” Dean closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “That guy with him? Charlie also said that what he did was also out of character. Perhaps we can get him to flip on Michael.”

Cas sat back in his seat, letting his hand slide out of Dean’s. “I’m behind you. Do you know what you need to do?”

“Nope. Was hoping to pick Charlie or Meg’s brain. Maybe even Victor’s if they don’t know.”

“So, we eat, and we meet up with the ladies?” Cas picked up his mug and took a sip of his coffee.

Dean nodded and mirrored Cas, drinking his own coffee. He sat back and watched the man across from him, wondering how he had met someone so patient, so willing to go at his pace. Tinges of doubt started creeping up in his mind again, and he shook his head, trying to chase them away. “So, we’ve got our after breakfast plans set. Tell me more about you?”

“You know how loaded of a question that is. Ask what you’d like to know, Dean.”

“Uh, let’s see. You said you’re a science teacher. Are you from California?”

Cas nodded. “Yep. San Francisco. I got my first teaching gig there and stayed. Never went home. I don’t go home if I can help it.”

“Your folks don’t get uppity about that?”

“Mother and Father are rich, uptight, and conservative. I’m a disgrace by not wanting to be a surgeon or a lawyer or a politician.” Cas’ voice had become snooty before going back to normal. “Sorry, I can’t take myself seriously when I try to sound like them.”

Dean chuckled. “I couldn’t take you seriously, either.” He fiddled with the handle of his coffee mug. “So how many of your siblings are politicians or whatnot?”

Their server came by and dropped their food off, the pair thanked her and Cas picked the conversation back up. “Only two. Hester’s a lawyer, Raphael is a doctor. I have one more sibling, the brother I like, Gabriel. Funny enough, they still like him more than me, and he’s in the porn industry.”

“Sex sells, dude.” Dean took a bite of his bacon. “Granted, I won’t pay for it, but that’s what they say.”

“I think Father just likes the women Gabe hangs out with. Or the men. I don’t know.” Cas shrugged.

“Could be both.”

Cas raised his eyebrow. “Are you trying to put me off my appetite?”

“You started it. So Gabe outed you. Did they disown you?”

“Not exactly. They just keep it quiet.” Cas pushed some of the food on his plate around. “Gabe threatened to throw a coming-out party. I’m sad I didn’t get to see their reaction to that.”

“They’re still alive, so it must not have been that bad.”

“I guess not. How about your parents? How do they feel about it?”

“Mom died when I was four. Dad died, not knowing. The people who raised me? I think they know. If I’m as obvious as my brother says I am, then they do, and they don’t care, but I honestly don’t know.” Dean finished off his coffee. “My brother knows, and I guess he’s the one that matters the most. I have his full blessing.”

“It feels good to have that support, doesn’t it?”

“It’s different. I’ve been hiding it for so long. I never thought I needed it. But now that I have it? Now that I’m…” Dean looked at Cas and smiled. “I’m trying.” He shook his head and ran his fingers through his hair. “You done poking around at your plate?”

Cas set his fork down and pulled his phone out of his pocket. “Yeah, let me message Meg and have her and Charlie meet us in front of the entrance.” After Cas sent the message, he stood up and held his hand down to Dean. “Let’s go?”

xxx

Luckily for Dean, when he brought up his plan to the ladies, Charlie spoke up that she knew the second-in-command of the company that ran the mixers. Meg and Charlie looked through the Veteran’s Chat and saw that she was on the cruise, and Charlie sent a private message asking where the group could find her.

“Okay, she’s willing to meet with you Dean, she’ll take your statement and bring it up with the owner of the company. I don’t know what that’ll do, but you have evidence; you have almost an entire cruise ship behind you, and Meg’s going to go talk to Bart.” Meg cracked her knuckles. “I said talk, Meg.”

Meg shrugged. “Sign language counts.”

“Not funny. My sister-in-law is deaf.” Dean chided. “And no more violence, no more attacks. If this isn’t like him, like Charlie said, then it should be easy to get him to talk.”

“Ugh. Fine. Clarence, your boy isn’t any fun.”

Cas smiled. “I’ve had fun with him so far.”

“You all are against me.” Meg turned and walked away, calling over her shoulder, “I’ll find him, figure out what Michael has on him. Good luck.”

Charlie turned and focused on Dean. “You ready for this? She’s asking us to meet in one of the conference rooms on the upper deck.”

“As ready as I’m going to be.” Dean gestured for Charlie to lead the way before taking Cas’ hand.

Chapter Text

Charlie knocked on the door of the room where they were told to meet the VP of Rainbow Cocktails. A petite blonde met them, a too-wide smile on her face. “Charlie! So good to see you again! I wish it were under better circumstances, but it’s always amazing to meet up with you. Come in!”

The trio entered the room and were directed to a meeting table. “For you two who don’t know me, I’m Becky Rosen, Vice President and PR handler of Rainbow Cocktails.”

She extended her hand out, and Dean took it first. “I’m Dean, Dean Winchester.”

“Castiel Novak.” Cas took her hand and shook it as well before Becky gestured for them to sit down.

“Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, I know we’re here about Michael.” She pulled a thick folder from a pile to her side and set it down in front of her. “Honestly, I’ve been looking for a way to get him banned for a while. If you couldn’t tell.”

“Is that all on him, Becky?” Charlie asked, flabbergasted.

“You see nothing, but yes.”

“How is he still here? Is that all harassment complaints against him?” Cas stared as Becky flipped through the pages.

“This doesn’t leave this room, understood?” Becky waited until they all nodded. “Michael is a lawyer. The first time we threatened to ban him, he threatened to sue. He stated that we didn’t have enough evidence against him, yadda yadda, all that jazz.”

“You have a file against him, what is that? Three inches thick?” Dean pointed furiously. “There’s no way he can weasel out of all of that.”

“The President of the Company thought it better to just let it be, not risk losing. Michael keeps coming back, even though it’s been obvious he’s been less and less welcome.”

Charlie nodded in confirmation. “He keeps going after newbies like I told you, Dean.”

“But, the word on the street is that he’s messed up with you. There’s a picture?” Becky asked. “Like, an actual picture of him kissing you?”

Dean slowly nodded and looked to Charlie. “Charlie has it. It’s been spread around in that chat room that the new people don’t have access to right away.” Dean looked away as Charlie turned her phone to show Becky the picture.

“Jesus! And he thinks you’re enjoying that?” Becky started furiously typing away on a laptop that had been sitting on the table. “I need you to send that to me now. I’m going to start filling out the formal complaint form, and I do need to take a statement from you.”

Dean felt Cas gently squeeze his shoulder, and he took a deep breath in. “Where do you need me to start?”

“Your first interaction with him, please.”

“Monday morning. I opened my door, shirtless, he shouted some lewd comments at me.”

Becky nodded while typing. “Any witnesses?”

“Charlie. I was opening the door for her. A few other people walking by, but I don’t know who they were.”

“Can’t include them. Next interaction, please.”

“Later Monday morning. He grabbed me in the Game Room, I told him he wasn’t my type. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. I called him a douchebag and walked away.”

“Again, witnesses?”

Charlie spoke up. “He won’t know their names, let me get them for you. I found out because the veterans blew up the chat.” She pulled out her phone and started swiping away.

“Charlie, you’re going to have to ask them if they’re ok with being witnesses.” Becky turned back to Dean. “Keep going, Dean.”

“We saw him on the Circuit in the afternoon, but he didn’t even acknowledge me. So I didn’t see him again until last night. The first time was at the bar during the dance party. He came up to me, forcibly turned me around on my stool, wouldn’t take no for an answer again, and then told me I would be saying yes soon enough. I stormed off and went on the dance floor to lose him, met up with my pal Charlie, the girl she was dancing with, Meg, and I ended up dancing with Cas here.”

“Did any of them see the incident with Michael?”

“I saw Michael trying to chase him onto the dance floor,” Cas spoke up. “So I offered to dance with him to create a buffer between him and Michael. It’s no secret that Michael had been chasing after him since Monday, and he was very obviously after him last night.”

Becky nodded and looked at Charlie. “You? Did you see any of it? Or Meg?”

“No. Sorry. We saw Dean come up to us kind of fast and kind of panicked, but we didn’t see Michael. And then we saw him with Cas, so there were no worries from us. We didn’t actually worry about Dean until…” Charlie gestured back to Dean.

“Yeah. So, Cas and I left after the song was over. We didn’t know where Michael was at, and Cas suggested the lounge because it would be quiet, everyone would be at the Party.” Cas nodded in agreement. “After Cas and I had a beer, we went our separate ways, and uh,” Dean rubbed the back of his neck. “They were there waiting for me. Michael and this guy Bart. I didn’t see them. I didn’t even know they were there.”

Dean closed his eyes, trying to not relive the memory while he told it to Becky. “Michael did the thing where he placed his hand on my shoulder. It’s how I knew it was him. He did it the other two times he talked to me. There’s just so much weight.” Dean swallowed. “He shoved me against the wall next to my door and grabbed my face, and he forced me to kiss him.” Dean opened his eyes and looked at Cas, ashamed. “Once he was done, he made sure that the guy Bart had gotten the picture and was uploading it to the chat. Bart did express concern that Michael could be banned for what he did, and Michael said that the picture looked like I enjoyed it and that no one would ever believe me over him. He said that ‘no one else would want me, not even my pretty boy.’” Dean looked at Becky, tears threatening to fall. “Please tell me you got that all that you’re not going to make me repeat that again.”

“I did, and I’m sorry that I made you go through it.” Becky offered a sympathetic smile. “What I am going to do is refund the trip entirely, and with this additional evidence, I think you’ve made this Michael’s last trip with us, ever.” She looked to Charlie and Cas. “I’ll also refund the two of yours. Charlie, for being so helpful and Castiel, because a little birdie told me you weren’t immune to Michael’s harassment either. Charlie, if you can stay behind a minute, I need to get those names from you. Castiel, you may want to assist Dean back to his cabin or yours.” Becky gestured towards the door.

Cas stood up first and offered Dean his hand. Dean looked at it before looking up into blue eyes that were holding him in warm regard. He took Cas’ hand and stood up, allowing himself to be led out of the room.

Once they were out of the room, Dean let out a heavy sigh. “I knew that would be hard. I didn’t know it would be draining.”

“I bet you’re exhausted.”

Dean nodded in confirmation.

“Your cabin is closer. Let me walk you there, and if you want, I can go grab us lunch?”

“I just want to lay down.” Dean lightly squeezed Cas’ hand. “Please?”

Cas smiled and nodded, letting Dean lead the way back to his cabin.

xxx

Dean woke up several hours later. He and Cas had returned to his cabin with little fanfare. Cas had told him how proud he was that Dean had been able to make that report to Becky. Cas had helped him get his shoes off and helped him lay down. And even though it had sounded pathetic in his mind, when Dean asked Cas to stay with him and hold him for a while, Cas without question and without asking for something in return, laid with him and held him close.

It felt good. It felt amazing. It felt… right.

But now, as Dean came to his senses, the spot where Cas laid was cold and empty. He sat up slowly, allowing his eyes to adjust to the low light in the room. There was no one else with him. Dean slid to the edge of the bed and grabbed his phone off of the nightstand. It had been silenced, and he only had one missed message from Charlie, [call me when you’re awake. <3 ].

Dean stood up and walked over to the desk and found a handwritten note.

I’m sorry I didn’t wake you. You looked so peaceful, and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I know you didn’t sleep well last night, and you need your rest. Please forgive me for leaving you without saying goodbye?

Shoot me a message or skype me when you’re awake. If it’s not too late, I’d like to grab dinner with you.

-Cas.

As if on cue, Dean’s stomach growled. He had skipped lunch, too upset to eat after filing the harassment complaint with Becky.

Dean looked at his phone again, checking the time. It was probably too late to hit up the dining hall for dinner, but he knew the cantina was open. He shot messages off to both Charlie and Cas to let them know he was awake, but to enjoy their evenings. The last thing Dean wanted was his mood to sour their vacations. He slipped on his sandals and made sure he had his key and voucher before he exited the room, resigned to the idea of spending his evening alone.

Chapter Text

“Mr. Winchester?” A slightly familiar voice and rapid knocking woke Dean up the next morning. “Mr. Winchester? It’s important that I speak with you.”

Dean stumbled out of bed and crossed to the door, opening it to Becky. “Good Morning Mr. Winchester. I’m sorry to wake you up, but I have important news, and I need you to come with me.”

“It has to be right this second?” Dean stifled his yawn as best as he could. “Do I at least get a moment to get dressed?”

“Oh, of course! I’ll be right here, but I need you to be as quick as possible. The President has a very busy day, and I made sure to get you on his agenda for today.” Becky winked and turned her back to the door.

Dean groaned and ran his hand down his face. This was not looking to be any better of a day. He quickly threw on his pants from the day before and grabbed a shirt before sliding his shoes on. He checked his pockets, making sure he had everything he needed and opened the door.

Becky jumped in surprise. “I knew you were coming, but I zoned out there.” She giggled. “Alright, let’s go then. We’re going back to the same room as yesterday.”

They walked in silence, making good time. They got to the room, and Becky opened the door for Dean. “After you.”

At the table, a curly-haired waif of a man was sitting. He looked up at their entrance, a nervous smile on his face. “You must be Dean. I’m Chuck Shurley, Founder, Owner and President of Rainbow Cocktails” He stood up and offered his hand as Dean walked over to the table.

Dean nodded and shook his hand. “Nice to meet you, sir. I wish it were under better circumstances, though.”

“As do I, Dean.” Chuck pointed to the chair. “Please, sit.” A few moments passed in silence as Chuck read over what Dean assumed was his report from yesterday. “I’m going to be blunt. How much to make this go away?”

“Chuck!?” Becky asked, surprise laced throughout one word. Dean could clearly tell that was not the answer she was expecting.

“This isn’t good for business, Becky. Neither side. Michael will bring Armageddon upon us if we ban him, and Dean here has proof he can take to the media, making your life as PR a living hell.” Chuck turned to Dean. “How much to make it go away?”

“There is no price. Michael gets banned. You have an entire ship of patrons who will go to the media if I don’t.”

“You think they care about you, Dean?” Chuck crossed his arms. “You’re just this trip’s gossip. You stood up to Michael, you humiliated him, and you made yourself a bigger target, a fancier prize. The moment we’re back in port, everyone else on this ship will forget about you.”

Dean shook his head. “That’s not true. The people who come to these want Michael gone.”

“They forget about him. He’s harmless.” Chuck looked at Becky. “Get the checkbook.”

“He’s not harmless. He has a reputation, and you know it. What does he have on you?” Dean stood up and leaned forward, towering over the smaller man. “He dig up some dirt on you?”

Chuck squared his shoulders and jutted out his chin. “He’s got nothing on me.”

“Then you won’t mind going up against him in court, or supporting me when I do.” Dean threw out his own bluff.

“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.” Chuck stammered and stuttered over his words. “You’re going to take him to court?”

“Yeah. My brother is a lawyer. He’s the one who paid for this trip. For me to enjoy and relax after not having a vacation in three years. After my common-law husband died four years ago. So yeah. Michael’s done nothing but sexually harass me since I’ve been on the damn ship. Maybe I should sue you for not protecting me. You do advertise as a safe space, don’t you?”

Chuck looked back and forth between Becky and Dean. “You can’t. He can’t.”

Dean looked at Becky and winked so only she could see. “Oh, I think I have every right. There are how many people on the ship right now? And a beautiful chat room where all I need to do is have a friend shoot out a message? And how many people do you think I’ll have on my side, Chuck?”

“Please. Don’t do this.” Chuck slouched back in his seat. “Take the money. Settle now. Never come back. Forget about us.”

“Not gonna let Michael do what he’s done to me to others. He’s probably done worse to people before me. You realize that, right? You’ve got your right-hand gal over here busting her ass protecting your company, and you’re willing to throw it away over one douchebag?”

“He’s my son,” Chuck muttered. “That douchebag is my son.”

“Well, I see where he gets it from.” Dean spat. “Be a better person than this. Stop letting him turn your company into a hunting ground.”

“Becky, get him out of here. Now.” When no one moved, Chuck slammed his fist on the table and yelled. “I SAID, NOW!”

Dean and Becky moved quickly towards the door and exited before Chuck could erupt again. Becky pulled it shut behind them and looked up at Dean. “I am so sorry. You have to believe me, I had no idea that Michael was his son.”

“I can believe that. They look nothing alike.” Dean’s joke fell flat, but Becky had a half-hearted smile all the same.

“Michael shouldn’t bother you for the rest of the trip. He has security on him. But also don’t antagonize him. Not that I think you would, I’m sure you want to be as far away from him as possible.”

“That’s the understatement of the century.” Dean ran his hand down his face. “So what do I do now? I wasn’t really going to sue. You gave me my money back, well, my brother his money back.”

“Enjoy the rest of your trip the best you can? I’ll keep you informed if anything changes.” Becky patted Dean’s shoulder and headed back into the conference room.

Dean pulled out his phone and shot off a quick message to Charlie, testing the waters to see if she was awake and wanted breakfast. He headed back towards the main deck, remembering the general directions when he got a response. [in front of the dining hall. where are you? you didn’t answer the door.]

[Becky came and got me. I met the head honcho. talk about a dick. get a table and I can catch up?]

[yes!]

Dean quickly made his way to the dining hall and found Charlie still in line with Meg and Cas. “Not that I mind the company, but I thought it was just you and me, Red?”

“Meg has some news, and why would you say no to Castiel being around?” Charlie winked. “I’m starving. I almost gave up waiting on you. Thank these two.”

“Way to break my heart, Charlie.” Dean looked at Cas and offered a shy smile. “Thanks for waiting for me.”

Cas tilted his head and smiled. “I didn’t get to see you again last night. Why would I pass up the chance to spend more time with you?”

Dean’s heart skipped a beat, but before he had a chance to respond, it was their turn to be seated. The hostess brought them to a booth and left their menus on the table. Charlie and Meg took one side of the table, leaving the other side for Cas and Dean.

“So, good news for you, Dean.” Meg started as she flipped through, casually looking. “Bart said that he wants nothing to do with Michael and that if you were reporting him, that he’s ready to flip on him. I didn’t even have to threaten to throw a punch.”

“That’s probably not going to matter, but I’m glad you did go to him.” Dean took Cas’ hand freely and leaned back in the seat. “Becky and I figured out why nothing has come of all those reports we saw yesterday.”

Charlie and Cas turned to look at Dean, the redhead speaking up for the pair, “Why won’t it matter?”

“The owner? His name is Chuck Shurley. He’s Michael’s pops.” Dean held up his finger as the rest of the table prepared to explode with questions. “He was ready to pay me any amount of money to make my complaint, and the picture go away. He reminded me that I am literally nothing, and the moment I get off this ship, no one will remember what happened between me and Michael.”

“Dean, that’s not true.” Cas gently cupped Dean’s chin and turned his head so they were looking at each other. “There’s certainly the three of us who are sitting with you. Victor has expressed his concerns about how you’re doing. You are not nothing.”

Dean closed his eyes and nuzzled into Cas’ hand, momentarily forgetting the world around them, let alone the ladies across the table. Meg cleared her throat and pointed to their server, causing Dean to blush and Cas to chuckle.

After having their mugs filled with fresh coffee, and their orders in, the group settled into a conversation about their next steps. Dean explained what had happened in the office, and Charlie voted that after eating, they should go back to Dean’s cabin and Skype with Sam. Meg wanted to tell everyone on the ship right then and there. Cas was about to throw his two cents into the pot when a commotion started building up in the dining room.

Charlie and Meg pulled out their phones, and Charlie let out a happy squee while Meg grinned from ear to ear. Meg turned her phone so Cas and Dean could read the chat room. “Are you sure nothing was going to come from it? Michael’s been banned.”

“Where’s the proof?” Dean started to swipe on Meg’s phone before she slapped it away. “All I see is a bunch of people celebrating, and I hear it behind me. Who said it?”

“Michael himself,” Charlie replied before quoting what was in the chat. “‘I hope you all are fucking happy. I’m done. I won’t be back on the next cruise or any after that. I’ve been banned on all future trips. He went to the owner of the company, and made up a sob story about how this is his first vacation after his husband died…’” Charlie looked up. “Dean, what did you do?”

Dean paled. “That son of a bitch.” He turned and looked at Cas, who was staring at him in shock and confusion.

“I thought you said you were in the closet?”

“I was. Hidden behind lots of fucking skeletons.” Dean looked to Charlie, who nodded in confirmation. “At least I thought I was. I told you, my brother sent me on the trip to let me know he knew and that he was okay with whoever I loved.”

Cas sat back in his seat, confusion, and concern written across his face. “I guess I just misunderstood. Husband?”

“Kinda?” Dean pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath. “I mean, I’m not trying to hide anything from you. Ash and I were never actually married, but we were together for…” Dean sighed, “for years.”

“I can confirm his story, Castiel,” Charlie spoke up meekly. “We spoke with his brother and sister-in-law over Skype, and the three of them explained to me who Ash was.”

“For what it’s worth, I’m sorry for your loss Dean,” Meg took a sip of her coffee. “I can’t even begin to imagine what it feels like to go through that.”

Their server came with their food, stopping the conversation abruptly. Their meal continued in silence, with small, worried glances between Meg and Charlie, who would then look at the guys across the table from them. Dean could feel the tension building up, and once he was done eating, he excused himself without another word.

Chapter Text

Dean’s hands gripped the railing of the deck once he was outside. He slowly made his way back towards his cabin, but instead of going in, he looked out over the water. The ocean waves crested and crashed like the racing thoughts in his mind. He wasn’t even sure what just had happened. The morning had been a blur, and he was lost in the movement of it all.

“Dean?” Cas had walked up beside him and was leaning on the banister. “You left.”

“I did. Felt like I made a mess of things in there.”

Cas shook his head. “None of this is on you. I mean that. I’ve only known you since Tuesday night, and I can’t help but feel this insane pull towards you.”

“Yeah, and I know there’s a ‘but’ coming.” Dean closed his eyes and rested his head in his hands. “I know I’m a hot mess, Cas.”

“Tell me about him? About Ash?”

Dean looked over at Cas. “That’s like asking twenty plus years of history.” He sighed. “So, I told you my folks died, right? Well, my old man was a drifter. Went where the money was. A lot of the times he couldn’t take me and my brother with him. He left us with his best friends, Bobby and Ellen.

“They had two kids, Joanna and Ash. Jo was closer to Sammy’s age, Ash was mine, so we often split up like that.” Dean snuck a glance at Cas and found himself being watched aptly. “Ash was my best friend, to the point where I could go months without seeing him, and when we were back together, it would be like only a minute had passed. Eventually, it started hurting when I left, but I didn’t know what that meant. Not until we were like seventeen.

“By that point, Dad had died, Bobby and Ellen took us in, and I was supposed to be happy having a big freaking family, right? I couldn’t figure out what it was about Ash. I got to see him every day, got to spend more time with him. It hurt more. I wanted to be near him, wanted to…” Dean bit his bottom lip. “I knew that I loved him in the wrong way.”

Cas wiped away a tear that Dean didn’t realize had fallen. “Let me guess? Your father?”

“Yeah.” Dean nodded. “He was gone, but it didn’t matter. It was ingrained that I was wrong.”

“So, what happened? Clearly, you two were together.”

“Ash figured it out. He took me out on our first date, even though I didn’t realize that’s what it was. Went to the movies, I won’t forget it. Final Destination. Horror movies were our thing, so it didn’t seem out of the ordinary. He snuck me in some licorice, I had snuck in a couple of PBRs, and we were in the back row. At some point, he did the cheesy old trick, you know the one where you yawn and stretch?” Dean looked at Cas, who smiled and nodded in confirmation. “Sneaky bastard wrapped his arm around my shoulder. And it was the best feeling in the world.

“We got home that night, and he kissed me. He wasn’t my first kiss, but I swear, it was like I hadn’t been kissed before. He turned 18 a few months later, and then I turned 18 the following January. We moved out and lived together until…” Dean shivered, fighting back a sob.

“Dean, you don’t have to tell me any more.”

Dean sighed. “Yeah, I do. This sounds stupid, but the moment I danced with you, I felt a connection. You’re bringing out something in me that I haven’t felt in years, Cas.” Dean reached for Cas’ hand. “Let me finish?”

“Okay.” Cas nodded and slid his hand into Dean’s.

“Ash and I were together off and on for the better part of fourteen years. Honestly? Most of the time, it was on. But there were times when I felt pressured for not having a girlfriend or for saying that I was single. We would fight, I’d sleep in the other room for a few days, and then we’d make up.” Dean paused. “You know? Now that I think about it. I don’t think we had fought in a few years before.” He rubbed the area over his eyebrow. “Before the fire. Before I lost everything.”

Cas gently entwined his fingers with Dean’s and squeezed.

“Rationally? I know it wasn’t my fault. I’ve had enough friends and family and therapists tell me that. I was supposed to be home that night. But we had a beautiful car come in, they wanted a rush order, Bobby asked me if I could stay. Ash and I could have used a little more cash.

“I called Ash up, told him what was going on. He wasn’t happy, but he understood. We were saving up. We didn’t say ‘I love you.’ ‘cause that wasn’t us. I think at first we thought we were so clever, but it stuck. I said ‘Nothing Else Matters,’ and he said it back, throwing on a ‘babe’ at the end like it was no big deal. Just like always.

“About an hour or so later, the sheriff rolls up to the shop, it’s no big deal, she’s a long-time friend, but she doesn’t go to talk to Bobby, she comes right to me. She pulled me into the biggest bear hug, and told me, ‘There was a fire, Ash didn’t make it.’ Looking back now? They all fucking knew. She didn’t go to his dad, who was right fucking next to me. Jody hugged me, comforted me.”

“That does make sense, you two were together for as long as you were.” Cas stood up and pulled Dean to a standing position. “How long has it been?”

“Four years.”

Cas nodded thoughtfully and pulled Dean into a hug. “I am grateful that you shared your story with me.”

“Here’s the but.” Dean scoffed, pulling out of the hug.

“There is something here between us, but this is also your first venture back into the dating world after four years, after losing someone you loved so much.” Cas gently cupped Dean’s cheek. “I’m coming out of the closet for the first time. There’s a lot of baggage here between us. I don’t want to hurt you more.”

Dean’s heart fell. “That’s bullshit, and you know it. I know an ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ line when I see one, Cas.”

“Hold on. I’m not saying I don’t want to try. I’m saying I need to think. I want to approach this correctly. Please, give me that?”

“Say whatever you need to say to make yourself feel better, Castiel.” Dean turned and walked towards his cabin. “Enjoy the rest of the cruise.”

Dean opened the door to his cabin and stepped inside, slamming the door behind him. He pulled out his phone and shot a message to Charlie. [I know you’re probably busy with Meg, but I need you, and Castiel needs her. I’m sorry. he ended it before we even had a chance to start.]

Charlie responded quickly: [what the hell?]

Dean kicked his shoes off and made sure that the door to his cabin was unlocked. [he said some bullshit line about while he felt something between us, there’s too much baggage. he can’t handle my shit with Ash.]

[hold on, Castiel said that? Meg’s not buying that either. I’m incoming.]

Dean climbed up into his bed, grabbing a pillow and curling up around it. [door’s unlocked. I really don’t want to move.]

[stopping to get hydration of the nonalcoholic variety and will be there momentarily]

Dean sighed, burying his face into the pillow he had pulled to his chest. He was frustrated that he pulled Charlie away from Meg again, angry that Michael had somehow gotten the final word in, but most of all, Dean was disappointed that he tried to put himself out there again, only to find that he was more broken than he thought he was.

Chapter Text

For what it was worth, Charlie did her best. Dean was surprised that she still had so much patience with him and that she hadn’t dropped him like the hot mess that he was. She had picked up food and drinks and brought her laptop with her.

Charlie had insisted that they pull up Netflix, and put on Seven Deadly Sins when Dean said he had never seen it before. He knew that she was talking with Meg, but he couldn’t bring himself to ask what was happening on the brunette’s side, even if he wanted to know what Cas was thinking, if Cas was hurting like he was.

At some point, Dean drifted off to sleep. He remembered the short blonde hair guy and the girl in the anime recruiting a freaking giant, them rescuing some zombie fox dude, then Charlie gently shaking him awake.

“Dean, sweetie, you want to come and get Dinner with Meg and me?”

He shook his head no.

“Castiel won’t be there. Meg already confirmed.” Charlie ran her fingers through his hair and before gently patting his cheek. How she had done such an incredible job of worming her way into his life, he would never understand, but he would forever be grateful.

“I don’t have much of an appetite. I’m sorry, Charlie. Besides, you deserve some time just you and Meg. Don’t think I don’t see the smile she puts on your face.”

Charlie sighed and grabbed Dean’s cabin key. “You planning on leaving?”

“There’s drinks here, and if somehow I get my appetite back, there’s leftovers from the lunch you brought. So there’s no reason for me to leave. Besides. I got to figure out where I fell asleep.” He pointed at the TV. “That giant chick was pretty cute.”

“Diane. But there’s probably a character you’ll enjoy much more a little later on.” Charlie set her laptop on the desk next to Dean’s and slipped her shoes on. “Are you sure you don’t want to come along?”

“I’m sure.” Dean nodded before pointing to his key in her hand. “I take it you have plans on coming back?”

“Didn’t want to drag my stuff with me, is that ok?”

“Of course. I was just curious why you had my key.” Dean offered a smile. “People might start to talk if you keep sneaking into my room.”

Charlie snorted. “Dude, this ship knows what a flaming lesbian I am, even if they did see me come out of the room with you the other morning. You’re not that good.” She winked. “You need anything, let me know?” Charlie opened the door and took one last look at Dean.

“Just assume I’ll ask you for some pie.”

“How does one put up with you, Dean?

Dean winked. “I’m adorable.”

“Keep telling yourself that. I’ll be back later.” Charlie waved over her shoulder and closed the door behind her.

Dean sat up and grabbed his phone. He had a missed video call from Sam, as well as a message checking in on him. A small part of him had hoped for anything from Cas, but he wasn’t surprised when there was nothing there. That didn’t keep the feeling of emptiness from creeping upon him.

[Sammy, you around?] Dean shot off a message, finding himself suffocating in the open air of his room.

A quick response. [yeah, tried calling earlier. everything going ok?]

[i’m gonna get my laptop on and skype you. 5 minutes.] Dean stood up and crossed over to the built-in desk and moved Charlie’s laptop to the side. He lifted the lid to his and waited for Skype to open. Once it loaded, Dean quickly pulled up his brother’s contact info and called him.

“Hey, Dean.” Sam was sitting alone on the screen. “Just you and me, or did you want me to grab Eileen too?”

“You and me.” Dean paused. “Please?”

Sam’s face twisted into a look of surprise. “What’s going on?”

“I tried to have fun, and I fucked up. I think.” Dean mumbled. “I mean, I put myself out there, you know?”

“That’s what you’re supposed to do.”

“I thought I may have met someone.” Dean slouched down in his chair.

“I know there’s a hell of a lot more to this story.” Sam pulled up his phone and swiped on it before turning it to face the camera. “Can you tell me why your entire trip was refunded?”

Dean nodded. “Long story short? I was sexually harassed by a dude.”

“The hell?” Sam cradled his face in his hands. “I batted a thousand, didn’t I?”

“Shut it, Samantha. This ain’t your fault.” Dean focused on the fraying threads around a hole in his jeans. “I handled it, obviously. The bastard’s not allowed to come back.”

“You’re allowed to come back, right?”

Dean looked up. “If I wanted to. I hadn’t thought about it. Probably not going to.”

“Because you quote-unquote fucked up?” Sam over-exaggerated his finger quotes. “You still have tomorrow to get your groove on, Stella.”

Dean shot off a single-finger-salute to his brother before grabbing a bottle of water that Charlie had left for him. He twisted the cap off and chugged down half the liquid before coming back for air. “I don’t want that. If I wanted random hook-ups, Sam, I could have stayed home. God knows I’ve been doing that for the past three years.” Sam’s silence encouraged Dean to continue. “I got a taste of what I’ve missed. Now I need it again. I’m not going to be satisfied anymore.”

Sam hung his head, although Dean wasn’t sure if it were out of thought or out of shame. “What happened to your fight?”

“What?”

“Your fighting spirit. It’s gone. Find it again, Dean. You know what you want. Go get it.” Sam looked up and shook his head. “I’m going to have to let Eileen say ‘I told you so.’ Go be the big brother who raised me. The one who fought for us. The one who fought for what we needed, for what we wanted.” Sam paused as he contemplated his next words. “Go be the Dean that Ash fell in love with, ok? Fight.”

“I don’t…” Dean shook his head. “What the hell, Sam?”

“I want you to be who you were before Ash died. I bet you have been and didn’t even realize it. I bet that’s what this guy has seen in you.” Sam ran his fingers through his hair. “Don’t just give up because you think you fucked up. Make it right if you have to, but fight.” Sam looked at what Dean assumed was the corner of his screen. “After you get some sleep.”

“I’m sick of sleeping.”

“I can go get Eileen now.” Sam pointed over his shoulder. “You want her to tell you to go to bed?”

“No.” Dean finished off the bottle of water and played with the cap. “I’ll go rewatch an episode or two of this show Charlie and I were watching. I’ll probably fall back asleep. I’ll dream of large women.”

“I don’t want to know, do I?”

“There’s a giant…. Princess Bride reference… You know what. My wit is wasted on you.” Dean huffed and crossed his arms over his chest. “I’ll think about what you said, ok?”

“Yeah, well, here’s a reference for you. ‘There is no think, only do.’” Sam smirked. “I modified it for you.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Goodnight, Sammy.”

“Night, Dean. I’ll see you on Saturday to pick you up at the dock.” The call disconnected, and Dean shut his laptop. He grabbed his phone and headed back over to the bed, shooting off a quick message to Cas. [can we talk tomorrow?]

Dean shot another note off to Charlie, letting her know that he was heading to sleep but to not hesitate to come into the cabin to grab her things. He set the phone down on the nightstand, not expecting an answer, and crawled under the covers. As he got ready to turn off the light, his phone went off, letting him know he had a message. From Cas.

[I think we should. sleep well, Dean.]

Chapter Text

Dun dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuuun. Dun dun duuuuun. Dun dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuuun. Dun dun duuuuun duuuuun duuuuun.

Dean blindly swatted at the nightstand, reaching for his phone. He grabbed it, pulling it off the charger and tapping the accept video call button.

“You do live!”

“You act surprised, Red.” Dean stretched out before running his hand down his face and opening his eyes. “Oh, hey, Meg.”

The brunette rolled her eyes and smirked. “Good morning, sleeping beauty. Get your ass up. We’re on our way.”

“Breakfast?” Dean pushed himself up before leaning against the headboard.

“Try lunch, Dean. It’s almost noon.” Charlie corrected, barely able to hold back a laugh.

Dean scrambled to grab the clock off the nightstand. It blinked 11:59 tauntingly. “Why didn’t you wake me earlier?”

“You want the half-truth or the full-truth?” Meg rested her head on Charlie’s shoulder. “Choose as you come and open the door.” The call disconnected, and Dean threw the blankets off and hopped out of bed, crossing to the door and opening it. Meg entered the room, followed by Charlie. “So, which one Dean-O?”

“Can I have both?” Dean moved to close the door. “Like tell me the half-truth, and if I need more info, I can request it?”

“You can’t have cake and pie, Dean.” Charlie scolded.

“Well then, which one is the pie?”

Charlie looked at Meg, who shrugged and gestured to her to make the decision. “We came by earlier for breakfast. You didn’t answer, and I still had your key. I didn’t come back last night.”

“Full truth, it is!” Meg chimed in.

“Hush,” Charlie playfully pushed Meg’s shoulder. “We came in, and Castiel saw you sleeping. He told me to grab my things and pulled us back out. He said, and I quote, ‘I’d like him at his best when we talk later. I want things to go right.’”

Meg nodded in agreement. “I’ve got a smitten kitten on my hands, who was on the verge of being heartbroken until you sent him that message asking to talk.” The feisty brunette crossed towards Dean, invading his personal space and forcing him back towards the bed. “You hurt him again,” Meg jabbed a finger into his chest, “I.” Jab. “Will.” Jab. “End.” Jab. “You.” Jab.

Dean stumbled back onto the bed. “Message received.” He pulled his legs up and sat cross-legged. “I didn’t want to hurt him. I honestly thought he was done with me. I wasn’t hiding anything. I just hadn’t gotten a chance to tell him yet.”

“I know.” Meg offered her hand. “Which is why you’re still alive.”

“Meg.” Charlie chuckled, as Dean got to his feet. “Dean, there’s something interesting between you and Castiel. Anyone with eyes can see it. We just want to make sure neither of you sabotages it.”

“Yeah, you’re not the only one who’s good at trying to mess up a good thing, Dean.” Meg crossed back to the door and looked over her shoulder. “Get him dressed? I’ll make sure Clarence didn’t jump overboard.”

Dean tilted his head in confusion as Meg exited his cabin. “I thought he wanted to talk?”

“He’s nervous, Dean.” Charlie sat next to him on the bed, ruffling his hair. “We explained to him where we think you were coming from and explained to him what you laying your heart out meant. You’ve only ever been in one serious relationship, and from my gathering, a bunch of one night stands.”

“You literally heard Sam say that on the Skype call the other night.”

Charlie held a finger up to her lips. “Shhhh. I was investigating.”

“If that makes you feel better.” Dean wrapped his arm around Charlie’s shoulder and squeezed her in a hug. “So, you told him what? That I’m a hot mess?”

“No. That you two just need to talk. Even if you two don’t end up more than friends, you still need a base to build off of. And guess how you do that?”

Dean rolled his eyes and stood up, heading over to his duffle bag. “Talking.”

“You can be taught!”

“Let me get dressed?” Dean pulled out a pair of jeans, a teeshirt, and a flannel before heading into the bathroom. He paused and took a look in the mirror, turning the water on and splashing some on his face. The water slowly dripped down in little paths, attempting to carry away the stress and doubt of the past 24 hours. Dean scrubbed at his face and rinsed it, before drying it off.

A sharp rap on the door brought Dean back before he started questioning himself. “Dean? You ready?”

“Almost.” He shook his head and quickly changed out of his pajamas and into the outfit he had picked. Dean took one last look in the mirror and dropped his voice to a whisper. “You are your own worst enemy.” Dean choked back a sob. “It’s ok to want this.” He closed his eyes and swallowed, wiping away a tear that escaped. “You want this, you fight for this.”

Dean folded down his collar and rolled up his sleeves before checking over his hair. He grabbed his pajamas and exited the bathroom. “How do I look, Red?”

“Nervous.” She crossed the room and wiped the remainder of the tear that Dean missed. “Talk. Just be you, and I think you’ll be surprised to see how much he wants this too, okay?”

Dean nodded, unable to speak.

“Come on.” Charlie took his hand, leading him to the door. “Slip your shoes on and let’s get moving. Meg says she and Castiel are almost there.”

The pair walked in mostly comfortable silence, Dean’s nervousness slowly trying to encroach it. As they arrived at the entrance to the dining room, Meg pushed herself up to a standing position off of the banister and smacked Cas’ arm.

Cas stood up, his face breaking into a relieved smile once he saw Dean. He walked past Meg, quickly shortening the distance between Dean and himself. He stopped just a few feet short, allowing Dean to take the next step and be the person to close the gap between them. “Hello, Dean.”

“Hiya, Cas.” Dean took a deep breath and took the step forward. “Wanna grab some lunch?”

Cas nodded and cautiously took Dean’s hand, gently squeezing it before turning to look at Charlie and Meg. “Are we ready to go in?”

“You two are going in.” Charlie smiled sweetly. “Meg and I are going to the Cantina.”

“Yep. Charlie and I are going to enjoy lunch together, go for a swim, and do girly things.” Meg looped her arm through Charlie’s, linking them together.

“We will meet you two for dinner, though. So whatever you boys want to do in between, we don’t want to know about.”

Dean stole a look at Cas who was blushing bright red, before gently nudging him. “Let’s let these ladies get to their lunch, ok?”

“That sounds good.” Cas looked at Dean and nodded before turning back to Meg and Charlie. “Go enjoy it. Please don’t worry about us at all.”

The ladies nodded and turned and headed back off towards the cantina, leaving Dean and Cas standing in the middle of the deck. Cas lightly tugged at Dean’s hand. “Should we head in?”

“Yeah, Cas. I’d like that.” Dean followed Cas’ lead and walked into the restaurant. Dean idly ran his thumb over Cas’ while they waited to be seated. He fought with the nagging voice in the back of his brain to let the silence between them boost his confidence.

Once seated, Cas kicked his feet up on the bench next to Dean, tapping next to him and inviting Dean to do the same. “Get comfortable?”

“Isn’t it some sort of stereotype that queer people can’t sit properly?” Dean asked as he kicked his own feet up.

“Probably. We just want to be comfortable.” Cas rested his hand on Dean’s leg as he opened a menu. “Is this ok?”

“Yeah.” Dean forced himself to take slower breaths. “It is, I promise.” Dean closed his eyes and reached down, mimicking Cas’ gesture. His hand made contact with denim, and he found the texture reassuring, even if it wasn’t his own pair of jeans he was touching. “Talk to me? Ask me something.” Dean opened his eyes and instantly found the calming blue ones across from him.

“Do you want light casual talk, or go right into it?” Cas tilted his head.

Dean looked around the restaurant before grabbing his menu. “Keep it light for now? I do want to talk about…” Dean took a deep breath and remembered what Charlie said to him. “I want to talk about what we see here.” He gestured between the two of them. “But, I would be lying if I said I’m not nervous as hell right now.”

“Thank you.” Cas gently squeezed Dean’s leg. “I would like to get to know you a lot better.” He took a moment to look at the menu before asking his next question. “Did you rest well?”

“Yes and no.” Dean shrugged. He set the menu down and slouched down in his seat. “I guess I finally slept well at some point. But I know my sleep schedule is kinda messed up right now.”

Their server came by and took their orders. Once she left, Cas returned his attention to Dean and apologized. “I’m sorry for my contributions to your lack of sleep.”

“Don’t be. If I didn’t jump to conclusions, I would have heard what you said.”

“But at that point, I also knew that about your anxiety, and I didn’t think before I spoke.” Cas let go of Dean’s leg, causing Dean to slightly whimper, before he offered his hand across the table. “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t infatuated with you, and I want you to know that I want to learn more about you, your past, and I would like to spend a lot more time together off of this boat with you.”

Dean took Cas’ hand and squeezed it for assurance. “I would like that. A lot.” Dean felt the heat of a blush rise through his cheeks as the corner of his mouth quirked up into a smile. “So, do you want to start with some light questions?”

“I can do that.” Cas tapped his lips with his free pointer finger. “You mentioned a brother and sister-in-law, what are their names?”

“Sam and Eileen.”

“You mentioned Sam,” Cas remembered, “You’re close with them?”

“I practically raised Sammy.” He ran his thumb over Cas’ knuckles and smiled. “I know I mentioned that our dad was a drifter. When he took us on the road with him, I took care of Sam. I protected him.”

“So, you approve of Eileen?”

Dean quickly nodded. “Hell yeah. Even made a point of learning sign language to speak with her.”

“She’s deaf?” Cas tilted his head curiously.

“Yeah, she lost her hearing at an early age when she got one of those serious sicknesses. Uh… Rubella? I think? But yeah. She can read lips well enough, but I’d be more than happy to teach you how to sign.”

“I would like that.” Cas entwined his fingers with Dean’s “Do they have kids?”

“Do I count?” Dean laughed. “Seriously, though, I think they’ve talked about it. They have a dog named Bones, but no human offspring.”

“I can fully see you being their adult child, even if you are older than Sam.”

“Well, now the cruise makes sense. They needed a vacation from me.” Dean chuckled. “Eileen says it’s cause I didn’t have much of a childhood growing up that I act like a child now.”

“Did you want to ask me a question?”

Dean nodded, allowing himself to relax. “What are our plans for after lunch?”

Chapter Text

After lunch, Cas stated that he wanted to see Dean’s prowess at board games. Charlie had talked him up, and it was time for Dean to put his money where his mouth was.

They decided to start with a cooperative game and joined in with a few people who were looking for more people to play Pandemic. Once they realized that together they could save the world, they decided to try out the competitive games. Dean demolished Cas at Settlers of Catan, while Cas proved his prowess at 7 Wonders. Before they could pick another game, Meg called Cas and asked if they were ready to meet for dinner.

“I’m just saying, you had a horseshoe up your ass.” Dean playfully knocked into Cas as they walked hand-in-hand towards the dining room.

“And I’m saying one cannot win on military strength alone, Dean.”

“But I got Rhodes. You have to do the military strategy!” Dean huffed as they met up with Meg and Charlie. “Back me up, Red.”

“Nah, I’m good.” She shook her head. “You two have fun?”

Cas looked at Dean and nodded before bringing the back of his hand to his lips and leaving a soft kiss. “Yes. At least I think so.”

“I know so.” Dean shot back, winking at Cas.

“You two actually talked, right?” Meg asked as she gestured towards the restaurant. “Like, it wasn’t just fun and games, right?”

“Well, we had fun and played games. Ow!” Dean jumped as he got poked by three people. “Jesus, and here I thought that was funny.”

“Time and a place, Dean.” Cas gently chided. “We talked some. But we agreed that we do need to talk some more.” Dean nodded his agreement.

“So, what’s the plan then?” Charlie opened the door and waited for the other three to enter before joining them. “Have you figured that out?”

“Yes, actually,” Cas responded.

“We both live in San Francisco. Makes continuing to see one another pretty straight forward.”

Cas nudged Dean’s shoulder, “And we’re going to spend the rest of our time on the ship together.”

“Right. Cause you ladies deserve the world for putting up with my bullshit.”

“Dean.” Cas hooked his finger under Dean’s chin and pulled him, so they were face to face. “You promised. Less self-deprecation.”

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, Cas.” Dean sighed and softly rested his forehead against Cas’. “I’m gonna work on it.”

Charlie squeed loudly next to them, despite Meg’s hand quickly shooting to cover her mouth. She pulled the offending hand away and held it, giggling. “Don’t you see? This proves they talked!”

“I see it, Ginger Snap, I do. But you’re causing more of a scene than they are right now.”

Charlie whipped around and started apologizing, politely waving and whispering “sorry” before Meg dragged her along with the hostess to their table. Once seated, Charlie leaned over to Dean and nudged him. “Did you ask?”

“Ask what?” Dean stared at the redhead, genuinely confused.

“Wrong one, Charlie,” Meg pointed at Cas. “He’s supposed to ask.”

“Crap. Castiel, same question.” Charlie rested her elbows on the table and rested her chin on her hands before batting her eyelashes at him.

“No, not yet.” Cas cleared his throat and picked up his menu, hiding behind it. “I’m glad that we all agreed to come here for dinner on the last night.”

“Clarence, you’ve never been on this cruise before, you’ve never had the food here before.”

Cas refused to move his head from behind his menu. “You talked it up.”

“What was Cas supposed to ask me?” Dean looked between Charlie and Meg before his eyes found Cas’ peeking over the menu.

“Did you ever finish reading the itinerary, Dean?” Charlie asked after setting down her menu. “I know we started going over it together Sunday night.”

“You think I’m going to remember all of that?”

Meg chuckled as their waiter came and took their drink orders. “You should. But the fact that you didn’t, makes this that much more enjoyable.”

“Cas, put me out of my misery? It can’t be that bad.” Dean gently pulled down on the menu to find a brightly blushing and highly embarrassed Cas. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

“I don’t dance.”

“But we did the other night? And I don’t get what that has to do with anything?”

Cas took a deep breath and glared at Meg and Charlie. “Theclosingnightdancepartyistonight.Willyoujoinme?”

“I heard a lot of things in one breath there, handsome.” Dean offered his hand to Cas.

“Clarence. Think for a second. Where did you first meet Dean?” Meg asked.

“At the mixer.”

“And what did you two do?” Charlie added on, tilting her head playfully.

Cas looked at Dean. “I’m sorry, Dean.” He took a deep breath and took Dean’s hand. “According to the itinerary, there’s another Mixer Dance Party to close out the cruise. Will you come with me?”

“Yes.” Dean leaned in and whispered so only that Cas could hear him. “And we don’t have to dance if you don't want to.”

The guys were interrupted when their waiter came back with their drinks and took their dinner orders.

“So, after dinner, we split up, get ready, and then meet back up for the closing mixer?” Meg asked, sipping at her cocktail.

“Or…” Charlie piped up, “You can grab your things, meet me in my cabin, and get prepped with me, and we can meet the boys at Dean’s Cabin.”

“Will you two actually get ready?” Cas tilted his head and winked at Meg.

“I have an idea, Clarence.” Meg leaned towards Cas. “You get ready with Dean-O, I get ready with Charlie. Last team done pays for the first double date back onshore.”

Cas looked over at Dean, who nodded enthusiastically. “Sounds like a plan. We just need to set ground rules, so no one team has an advantage over the other.”

“You mean so we don’t whoop your ass?” Charlie giggled, giving Meg a high five.

“Right, Red. So you don’t cheat. We know how long it takes ladies to do their hair and makeup.” Dean leaned over and ruffled her hair.

“Rude!”

The quartet continued planning and devising their competition throughout dinner, enjoying a light and pleasant atmosphere.

xxx

A knock at the door let Dean know that Cas has arrived. Dean opened the door and moved out of the way as the brunette entered, rolling his suitcase in behind him. “You got everything, Cas?”

“Yes. I double and triple checked the room. I’m a little anal when it comes to that.” He set his suitcase to the side and crossed over to Dean, taking both of Dean’s hands into his. “Are you okay with this?”

“My heart is beating a mile a minute, but not in a bad way.” Dean swallowed and rested his forehead against Cas’. “Something is just right about you being here.”

“You know how to make a heart flutter, don’t you?” Cas left a quick peck on Dean’s cheek. “You want to Skype Charlie and Meg?”

Dean’s hand went to his cheek as he nodded. He grabbed his phone off of the nightstand and quickly pulled up Charlie’s info, pressing the call button. The phone rang with no answer, and Dean shot Cas a suspicious glance before pushing the call button again.

“Dean!” Charlie’s face came up on the screen, slightly flushed. “Sorry, I couldn’t find my phone.”

“Laying on it?” Dean smiled smugly.

“No proof. Stop!” Charlie giggled at Meg off-screen. “Cas there?”

“Yep. He just got here.” Dean panned the camera to include Cas in the shot. “So, We’ll set a timer for five minutes, to give you leeway for makeup. Then we’ll start.”

“Scout’s honor!” Meg shouted from the other end of the line.

“Scout’s honor, Megara,” Cas replied.

“Then let the race begin! See you soon, bitches!” Charlie disconnected the call.

Cas set a timer on his phone for five minutes. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“That they’re not gonna wear makeup or do their hair?”

“Meg has to do her hair. Otherwise, she puts Medusa to shame.” Cas sat on the edge of the bed, his outfit already in hand. “But I know damn well she’s not going to do her makeup.”

“You sneaky bastard.” Dean moved and stood between Cas’ legs. “Luckily,” He leaned forward, pressing against Cas to reach behind him. “I was only planning on changing my shirt.” Dean grabbed a henley and stood back up, the shirt hanging from his pointer finger.

“Teasing already?” Cas raised his eyebrow, sending a shiver down Dean’s spine.

Dean bit his bottom lip and nodded. “You may not want to dance.”

“I can be persuaded.” Cas tugged on Dean’s teeshirt, bringing their lips together in a heated kiss. The timer went off, and Cas pulled back reluctantly. “I’ve been wanting to do that all day.”

Dean softly kissed Cas’ lips again, a quicker, chaster kiss than before. “Well, that might’ve been our first kiss today, but it doesn’t have to be the last. Let’s beat the girls to the mixer, and I promise you all the kisses you want.” Dean stepped out from between Cas’ legs and took off his flannel and his teeshirt. He tossed them onto his duffel bag before pulling his henley over his head.

As he finished straightening his shirt, Dean hopped onto the bathroom and gave his hair a quick look over. Satisfied that everything was still in places, he stepped back into the cabin and saw Cas finishing his outfit off by rolling the sleeves up on his button-up shirt. Dean instantly started chewing on his bottom lip, enthralled by the handsome man mussing up his already-sex-tousled hair.

Dean swallowed down a whimper. “Ready to go, Cas?”

“Of course, Dean.” Cas gestured to the door and followed as Dean exited. “You know, despite the two of us going as fast as we did, I’m still fairly sure they beat us.”

“Think so?” Dean closed the door and took Cas’ hand as they started walking towards the ballroom.

“I’ll be surprised if they didn’t.”

As they got closer to the mixer, the music swelled in volume, and the number of people increased. It wasn’t until they heard an audible “Shit!” and saw two streaks, one of red and one of brown, did they realize that they had almost won the challenge. Meg pulled Charlie in and dipped her, sealing their victory with a kiss.

“Well shit, Cas. I guess we’re on the hook for a double date. You good with that?” Dean knocked his shoulder against Cas’.

“As long as I’m with you, I think it’s a fantastic plan.”

Chapter Text

Dean wrapped his arm around Cas’ shoulder, as Cas wrapped his arm around his waist. The feeling of being so close side-by-side was intoxicating and thrilling. They walked into the ballroom, the bass from the music vibrating through them. Dean leaned more into Cas to talk into his ear. “Back by the bar? Should be quieter there.”

Cas turned his head, coming face to face with Dean. His tongue shot out between his lips, a small flick moistening them. He took a couple of shallow breaths before nodding and guiding Dean back towards the makeshift bar. They found a pair of open stools and sat down, their heads still close together.

The bartender made his way over to the pair, taking Cas' order for two lagers and swiftly filling it.

"So, Cas, come here often?" Dean winked and clinked the neck of his beer bottle against Cas'.

Cas shook his head. "How often do you get told that you're a nerd?"

"If I can hear it from your lips, I want to hear it all the time."

"You're insufferable." Cas leaned over and stole a kiss. "But I look forward to getting used to it."

Dean turned bright red and looked down at the bar. He mumbled under his breath, causing Cas to laugh in response.

"What was that?" Cas rested his hand on the small of Dean's back.

"You don't have to be so nice all the time."

"Oh, I promise that I am not nice all the time.” Cas lightly ran his fingers in small circles along Dean’s spine. “I am a monster without coffee. Usually, about half a pot until I can talk to anyone. My students love me but say I’m the strictest teacher they’ve ever had. I’m not exactly the most outgoing of people, so you can certainly say my people skills are rusty, and I’m not very polite.”

“That doesn’t sound like an asshole. That sounds like a normal human being.”

“That’s because I’m describing them. You’re not experiencing them.” Cas peeled the label off of his beer. “At least you get to miss out on the arguments about never getting to meet my parents. Those were relationship killers.”

“Yeah?” Dean leaned over and nudged Cas. “Tell me about it?”

Cas smirked. “I guess you did tell me about your last relationship.” Cas took a sip of his beer and waved over the bartender. “Make that your only beer, and it’s a deal.”

“Sure?” Dean agreed quizzically.

“I know you haven’t been drunk this entire trip, and the one night I can have you all to myself, I want us both to be able to remember it.” The bartender came over and, after Cas asked for two drinks of water, pulled out two bottles from under the counter. “So, the tipping point then?”

“Only if you want, Cas.”

“Last ex wanted to be the one. They wanted the wedding bells and the big church and the doves being let loose.” Cas shrugged. “I was game. Even went to a couple of venues with them for those wedding expos.”

“How long were you two together?” Dean took the final pull of his beer, setting the bottle to the side and grabbing a water.

“At that point? Six months?” Cas finished peeling the label off of his beer bottle. “I don’t think I cared that I didn’t click with him. I was just going through the motions. I couldn’t find someone who was ok that I was in the closet.”

“How were you going to explain a wedding and a husband to your parents?”

Cas laughed. “Yeah, that’s what finally clicked for me. He’s sitting there putting wedding magazines in my hands, asking what my parents like to eat, and I reminded him that he would never meet my parents.” Cas took a drink of his beer, draining it. “He gave me this look of sheer confusion. He thought that he couldn’t meet my parents cause they didn’t live in the country or something along those lines. Not that I had no intention of never introducing them.”

“Wait.” Dean held his finger up. “Really? He was that dense?”

“I was just as dense. I had spent time with his parents on multiple occasions and never realized it.”

“Castiel Novak, no you didn’t.” Dean laughed and rested his head on Cas’ shoulder. “I know it sucked for you, but I’m glad it happened.”

“Cause it pushed Meg to act, and it got me here?”

“No, 'cause it’s a hilarious story.” Dean lifted his head and winked at Cas before resting it on his shoulder again. “Seriously, though. I’m glad I’ve met you.”

“And I’m glad I met you.” Cas lifted Dean’s chin and leaned in to claim his mouth in a soft and passionate kiss as the beat of a new song took over the makeshift nightclub.

I'm not Snow White
But I'm lost inside this forest.
I'm not Red Riding Hood,
But I think the wolves have got me.
Don't want the stilettos
I'm not, not Cinderella
I don't need a knight so baby take off all your armor

Dean reluctantly broke the kiss and slid off of his stool, pulling Cas along with him.

You be the Beast and I'll be the Beauty, beauty
Who needs true love as long as you love me truly.
I want it all, but I want you more
Will you wake me up boy if I bite your poison apple.

Cas tilted his head in confusion, grabbed his bottle of water, and followed after Dean.

I don't believe in fairy tales
I don't believe in fairy tales
I don't believe in fairy tales
But I believe in you and me

Dean rolled his eyes playfully and took Cas’ water bottle, taking a swig of it and handing it back before pulling Cas into a dark corner.

Take me to wonderland
Take me to take me to
Take me to wonderland
Take me to, take me to
Take me to wonderland
Take me to, take me to
Take me to wonderland
Wonderland, wonderland

Cas realized what he was being dragged into and pressed Dean against the wall, reclaiming his lips with renewed ferocity.

When I lay my head down to go to sleep at night
My dreams conceive the things
That I make you want to hide
Don't lock me in your tower
Show me your magic powers
I'm not afraid to face a little bit of danger, danger

Dean whimpered into Cas’ mouth, his hands tightly gripping Cas’s hips to keep them from moving to more inappropriate-for-public spots on his body.

I want the love, the money, and the perfect ending
You want the same as I, I, so stop pretending
I want to show you how good we could be together
I want to love you through the night, we'll be a sweet disaster

Cas carded his fingers through Dean’s hair, locking them together at the nape of his neck. Cas playfully bit Dean’s lip before kissing along his jaw, nipping at his ear.

I don't believe in fairy tales
I don't believe in fairy tales
I don't believe in fairy tales
But I believe in you and me

Dean groaned and pulled Cas in tighter against his body, praying that Cas could feel how wrecked he was leaving him.

Take me to wonderland Take me to take me to
Take me to wonderland
Take me to, take me to
Take me to wonderland
Take me to, take me to
Take me to wonderland
Wonderland, wonderland
Wonderland, oh
I believe in you and me.

Cas leaned into Dean, his lips next to Dean’s ear. “Is there something you want, Dean?”

I don't believe in fairy tales
I don't believe in fairy tales
I don't believe in fairy tales
But I believe in you and me

Dean closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

Take me to wonderland
Take me to, take me to
Take me to wonderland
Take me to, take me to
Take me to wonderland

Dean waited for the panic to take over him and tell him that this was wrong.

Take me to, take me to, take me to
I believe in you and me, Wonderland
Take me to take me to take me to Wonderland
Take me to take me to take me to Wonderland
Take me to take me to take me to Wonderland

Dean let out his breath slowly and smiled at Cas, once he realized that there was no reason for the panic to come.

Take me to Wonderland, take me to Wonderland

“You, Cas. I want you.”

Chapter Text

Cas pulled back, his eyes not only dark from the shadowed corner they chose. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, Cas. I’m sure.” Dean stood up straight, pushing off of the wall and pressing against Cas’ chest. “At the risk of sounding cheesy, take me to Wonderland?”

“I can do that.” Cas grabbed a fistful of Dean’s henley and pulled him in for another kiss. “I want to do that.”

Dean placed his hand over Cas’ and led him back out of the corner, leading him across the dance floor. He recognized the song playing, Now That I’ve Found You by Martin something or other. Eileen loved the beat, and Sam had learned how to sign it for her, surprising her at their wedding. Dean had hated Sam at the time, as he begged for help learning it from Dean. While the song was officially Sam and Eileen’s, it had kept reminding him of Ash.

Now, as he walked through the crowd, Cas’ hand in his, the song’s meaning evolved. Dean had listened to the lyrics a hundred times before, but now he heard them.

Some say you can never go back
To the city built for dreamers
But I know we can find it on our own

Dean looked back at Cas and smiled. This wasn’t a fairy tale, and there was no guarantee that this was going to be forever between them. But he could believe in them for right now.

I've been waiting for your wake up call.

They finally made it across the dance floor, and Dean pulled Cas into his arms, stealing a kiss before they exited the ballroom.

Once outside, Cas wrapped his arm around Dean’s waist, leaning into him as they walked back to the cabin. Dean slid his own arm around Cas’s waist, hooking his fingers through the belt loops and pulling Cas in closer.

Dean pulled the key to his cabin out of his pocket when they got to the door. He took a moment to look at Cas and smiled. “You’re still sure you want this, right?” Dean fidgeted with the keyring in his hand. “No hard feelings if you just want to cuddle and go to sleep.”

“Dean, get the door open.” Cas traced Dean’s jaw with his thumb. “Please.”

“You got it, Cas.” Dean slid the key into the lock and turned it, opening the door. “After you.”

Cas entered the room, catching his finger in one of Dean’s belt loops and pulling him in as well. Dean was barely able to get the key out of the door and push the door shut before Cas brought their bodies together again. Cas claimed Dean’s mouth, his tongue flicking over Dean’s lips, pleading for access. Dean smiled, and their tongues began to taunt and tease in a dance they made up as they moved across the room to the bed.

Cas pushed Dean onto the edge of the bed. He carded his fingers through Dean’s sandy brown hair, grabbing it and pulled, causing Dean to whimper when their kiss was broken. “You’re so perfect, Dean. So beautiful.” Cas moved back in, his teeth softly grazing on Dean’s pulse point before locking his lips to suck and mark and claim.

“Cas.” Dean tilted his head to the side to give Cas better access to his neck, closing his eyes as he enjoyed the needy pressure. Dean blindly grabbed for Cas’ hips, finding them, and tugged him in closer, needing to feel more of Cas’ body. Dean opened his eyes and traced his fingers around the top of Cas’ jeans, stopping at the button and quickly popping it open before Cas could protest.

A throaty chuckle vibrated through Cas’ chest, and he pulled off of Dean’s neck. “Impatient?”

Dean was barely able to nod before Cas pushed him back on the bed and climbed on top of him, straddling his hips. Cas stole into his mouth again, sealing their lips together as he pinned Dean’s hands next to his head. Cas pulled away breathless, his lust blown eyes staring deep into Dean’s. “What do you want, Dean? I’m being greedy and taking, but I want to know what you want.”

“Don’t want you to stop.” Dean’s tongue flicked over his bottom lip before he bit it. “I want you in every way imaginable.”

Cas softly nipped at Dean’s chin. “What do you want now?”

“I want to take your shirt off. I want to feel you.” Dean wriggled his wrists. “Let me Cas. Please?”

“I’m not going to deny you when you asked so nicely.” Cas pushed himself back up onto his knees before standing up.

Dean sat up, his hands immediately shooting to Cas’ shirt. He started from the bottom, pulling the tails out of Cas’ jeans. Dean’s hands fumbled slightly as he began to undo the lowest button. Once they were finally separated, Dean looked up at Cas, who smiled softly at him. Dean took a deep breath and calmed himself, and swiftly moved his way up the rest of the buttons.

Cas leaned down and softly kissed Dean’s lips while finding the hem of his shirt. As he stood back up, he brought the henley up with him, taking it off of Dean and tossing it on the floor. “Gorgeous.” The corner of Cas’ mouth quirked up into a smile. “I could spend hours mapping the constellations on your body.”

Dean blushed as he pushed himself back on the bed. He pulled Cas back onto his lap and traced his fingers up Cas’ stomach and chest before sliding them under the shoulders of Cas’ shirt. Dean leaned his head to the side as Cas moved to resume marking his claim on Dean’s neck. Dean’s breath caught in his throat and pushed Cas’ shirt off of his shoulders, pulling it down his arms.

He lightly dragged his fingers down Cas’ back, catching a glimpse of markings on the otherwise tanned skin. Dean pulled away from Cas, chuckling. “What’s this?”

“An unwise idea from an unwise 21-year-old Castiel.” Cas stole a kiss. “I thought I was clever. Angel wings to go with my angel name.”

“Pretty badass if you ask me.” Dean kissed Cas’ shoulder and traced his fingers along the lines of the tattoo. “I’m yours, Angel.”

Cas blushed before biting his bottom lip. “How about you finish stripping, and we’ll see if you still want to call me an angel?” Cas slid off of Dean and helped him to his feet. “Let me see more of you. Please.”

Dean obliged Cas’ request and unfastened his jeans, popping open the button and slowly sliding the zipper down. He slipped his thumbs behind the waistband of his underwear and pushed them down with his jeans in one swift movement. Dean heard Cas’ breath catch, causing him to look up and find the blue eyes he enjoyed getting lost in. Cas was taking him in, savoring him like a cold drink on a hot day.

Dean closed the distance between them, pressing his lips quickly against Cas' before sinking to his knees in front of him. "Dean?" Cas questioned, his voice cracking from anticipation.

"Lemme take care of you, Angel." Dean looked up and licked his lips. "You’ve been good to me. Let me give you something." Dean pulled down Cas’ zipper before tugging down on his jeans. “You said you were being greedy and taking.” Dean slipped his fingers under the waistband of Cas’ underwear before slowly sliding them down. Cas’ cock popped up before falling heavy in front of him. Dean bit his lip, “Are you being greedy if I willingly give?”

Dean placed his hand on the top of Cas’ cock before teasing with an exploratory lick underneath from the base to the tip. Cas shivered and gently cupped Dean’s cheek, a sign of encouragement Dean willingly took. Dean wrapped his lips around the head of Cas’ cock and slowly slid it into his mouth, his tongue lapping covetously at the leaking precome.

Cas’ hand moved to the back of Dean’s head, his fingers tangling into Dean’s hair. Cas whimpered as Dean started to pull back, “Dean, your mouth is heavenly.” Cas cried out as Dean slid back deeper, his pace quickening, but his eyes never leaving Cas’. “You’re so good, Dean. So beautiful.”

Dean briefly closed his eyes and blushed, not used to the praise that Cas so willing gave him. He moved to grab onto Cas’ legs, to hold and pet them when Cas stopped him. “Hands by your side, Dean. Please. Be my good boy.” Dean inhaled fully and nodded as best as he could before taking all of Cas. He gagged slightly but slowly exhaled as he relaxed his throat. Cas’ other hand grabbed his shoulder as Cas balanced himself, the pleasure almost taking his knees out from under him.

“I lied, your mouth is a sin. Pure sin.” Cas chuckled as he pet through the hair at the back fo Dean’s neck. “You’re going to have my come in just a few strokes like that if you’re not careful.”

Dean’s eyebrow rose mischievously as he rolled his neck back and forth, just a small amount. Cas’ fingers dug into Dean’s shoulder. “You want it to be over already?” Cas asked, his eyes lust blown. “Dean,” Cas tried to pull back on Dean’s hair. “I’m going to come.’ Dean continued the motion, his tongue massaging the length of Cas’ cock that was in his mouth. “Dean!” Cas gasped as he came, hot spurts painting the back of Dean’s throat.

Cas pulled out of Dean’s mouth, a line of come trailing from Dean’s plump lips to Cas’ cock, and helped Dean to his feet. “You’re incorrigible.”

Dean pressed up against Cas, his stIll hard cock rubbing against Cas. “I can be taught. But I wanted to thank you first.” Dean playfully licked Cas’ lips before leaning in and kissing him, sharing Cas’ taste off his lips.

“I’m not done with you,” Cas warned, a possessive growl building up from his chest. Cas took Dean’s chin in his fingers and continued the kiss, open and messy, heated and needing. “Go lay down.” While Dean laid down on the bed, Cas walked to the desk where Dean’s gift basket remained unused. He rummaged through it and found lube and condoms before crossing back to the bed.

Dean was leaning back on his elbows, watching Cas intently. “Whatcha doing, Angel?”

“I’m never going to hear the end of that, am I?” Cas climbed up on the bed between Dean’s legs, tossing the lube and condom within grabbing distance. Cas gently bit Dean’s hip, causing Dean to yelp, before he started to lasciviously mouth his way up Dean’s stomach and chest.

“Nope.” Dean whimpered as his hands instantly went to touch and feel any and all of Cas’ skin. “A wing and a prayer, all that jazz.”

Cas chuckled, his right hand tracing Dean’s left arm before resting on his shoulder. “So handsome.” Cas leaned down on top of Dean, his lips running along Dean’s collarbone. “So beautiful.” Dean moaned, fighting to keep his hips from bucking upward. “So responsive,” Cas smirked, before biting down on Dean’s collarbone.

Dean cried out and wrapped his legs around Cas’ waist. “Feel so good, Cas.”

“I know, and I’m going to make you feel even better.” Cas rocked against Dean, his cock almost fully hard again. “You feel what you do to me? What you make me want?”

“Cas, please.” Dean’s arms wrapped around Cas, his hand and fingers clinging to Cas’ back to keep him from leaving. “Mine.” The word slipped so quietly from Dean’s mouth, Cas barely heard it.

Cas continued kissing up Dean’s neck, only stopping to whisper in Dean’s ear. “All yours, if you’ll have me.”

Dean’s breath hitched. He turned his head and caught Cas’ lips, igniting a passionate, uncoordinated kiss as he claimed Cas as his own. “I want this, Cas.”

Cas gave Dean a quick kiss, then leaned over and grabbed one of the packs of lube and a condom. He sat back on his knees and ripped open the lube, squirting some onto his fingers. “Just need to get you ready, handsome.” Cas massaged Dean’s hole, earning a low, deep moan, before sliding his middle finger in. Dean’s back arched and his hands grasped at the blankets underneath him. Cas grinned, “More, Dean?”

Dean nodded, his words failing him.

Cas slid another one in, only giving Dean a moment to adjust before he started to move his fingers in and out. Dean’s head rolled back as he chanted Cas’ name, praise, and adoration rolling off his tongue. Cas flicked his middle finger, searching for and finding Dean’s spot. Dean writhed under Cas, mewling and whimpering at the attention being lavished upon him. Cas kissed Dean’s inner thigh then pulled his fingers out.

“Cas?” Dean pouted.

“It’s ok, Dean.” Cas grabbed the condom and cracked it open. “I think you need something a little more substantial.” Cas rolled it on in one swift and practiced motion before grabbing the lube. “I said I was going to take good care of you.” Cas squeezed the rest of the lube into his hand and stroked his cock before lining it up with Dean’s ass. “Your pace, gorgeous.”

Dean nodded and relaxed. The stretch and burn from Cas entering him felt exquisite. Dean quivered and cried out in pleasure, grabbing onto Cas’ arms. Cas bottomed out and leaned down, claiming Dean’s lips and swallowing his moans. Dean ran his hands up Cas’ arms, his fingers digging into Cas’ back and shoulders. He pulled out of Cas’ kiss, “Move, Angel. Need you to move.” Cas pulled out slowly, dragging his cock, looking for the spot that would make Dean call out his name again. Cas felt Dean’s legs wrap around him as he slid back in, claiming him, keeping him. Cas tugged at Dean’s hair again, exposing Dean’s neck and attempting to darken the mark he was using to claim Dean as his.

“Cas,” Dean trembled, “I’m so close.” Dean clung to Cas, his body trembling and quaking.

“You’re going to come from my cock alone?” Cas asked against Dean’s skin. Cas nipped at Dean’s jaw. “Come for me. I want to know you liked this. I want to know I made you feel good.”

Dean bit back another whimper as he nodded, He closed his eyes and tilted his head to give Cas better access to his neck. Dean let out a cry once Cas started rocking his hips faster and up into him. His body tensed and his fingers dug sharply into Cas’ back. “Angel. Cas. I’m coming.”

Cas moved to reclaim Dean’s mouth and sped up his thrusts as he felt the hot sticky mess shoot up between them. Cas followed close behind, the sensations bringing him over the edge for a second time. Cas collapsed on top of Dean, who let out a soft oof and wrapped his arms around Cas. “That was incredible. You’re incredible, Dean.” Cas placed a sweet kiss on Dean’s jaw.

Dean let out a soft chuckle. “That was,” Dean chewed on his lip before smiling at Cas. “Awesome isn’t enough of a word.”

“How do you feel? Do you hurt?” Cas slid out carefully and started to clean up.

“No.” Dean shook his head and sat up. “I feel… right?” His voice raised in a question. “I thought I would panic, or feel regret. I’m happy, I want to clean off, I want to get in bed and be wrapped up in your arms.”

“So shower first?” Cas winked, before standing up on semi-shaky legs. “I could use someone to make sure I don’t fall over.”

Dean stood up and took Cas by the hand, leading him to the shower.

Chapter Text

Two phones started going off at the same time, one playing the theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark, the other playing Flight of the Bumblebee. Cas grumbled and snuggled in closer to Dean while Dean grabbed his phone off the nightstand. “It’s Charlie. Do I scar her?” Cas waved his hand in response, so Dean pressed the Video call answer. “Mornin’, Red.”

“Okay, you’re alive. At least one of you is answering.” Charlie raised her eyebrow. “Castiel is there with you, right?” As if on cue, Cas’ phone went off again.

“He’s there! You two did stay together last night!” Meg smushed herself into the screen with Charlie. “Where is he? I have his coffee.”

Dean gently elbowed Cas. “Cas, Angel, Meg said she has your coffee.”

“I demand room service,” Cas grumbled from under the covers. “She knows where your cabin is. They were probably on their way over here anyway.”

“Rude, Clarence.”

Charlie laughed and shook her head. “Are you two decent? We want to grab some breakfast, and yes, we’re on our way.”

“Uh.” Dean lifted the blanket and looked underneath. “How offensive do you find guys in pajama pants?”

“Shit, I lost that bet.” Meg cursed and rolled her eyes.

“We’ll live. Try and get Castiel into a sitting position so he can drink his coffee? We’re coming from Meg’s cabin, so a couple of minutes, and we’ll be there.” Charlie waved and disconnected the call.

Dean set his phone down and climbed on top of Cas. “I know you heard that. Rise and shine, Angel.”

“I’m gonna be stuck with ‘Angel’ as a nickname?” Cas asked groggily as he turned underneath Dean.

“Only when I'm sweet or sappy. I can stick to Cas for the majority of the time.”

Cas took Dean’s hand into his and smiled up at him.”I was going to be sweet and sappy for a moment there, but then I thought about how I can’t wait to have you in this position.” He smirked and shook his head. “Yep. Off, Dean, or we will scar the ladies.”

“What have I gotten myself into?” Dean leaned down and kissed Cas before sliding off of him. “So, what were you going to say before you had a brain hijack?”

Cas’ ears turned red as he blushed. “We’re still planning on testing the waters off of the boat, right?” He laced his fingers through Dean’s as he sat up in the bed. “Because I am really looking forward to falling asleep and waking up with you again.”

“I definitely want to do this.” Dean’s mouth curled into a smile. He started to say something when Meg and Charlie began to bang on his door. “Damn their timing.” He got up and crossed over to the door, opening it to two way-too-excited ladies who barreled into the room. “Morning, Ladies.”

Charlie threw her arms around him and hugged him while Cas greedily took his cup of coffee from Meg. “So happy for you, right now.” She stepped back and looked back and forth between the two men before looking at the gift basket. “Do I need to take another shower?”

Dean rolled his eyes. “If you noticed, the fancy soaps are missing from the basket, Red. Ugh, why am I sharing this with you?”

Meg and Cas looked at each other and nodded before speaking in unison. “Siblings.”

“Do we need to get fully dressed for breakfast?” Dean asked. “Can I just throw a teeshirt on?”

“As much as the ship would love to see their superhero in Batman pajama pants, the dining room does actually have a dress code.” Charlie looked over at Meg. “You know they had sex on that bed last night, right?”

Meg snuggled up to Cas. “Yes, Cas and Dean had man sex. I’m not sitting in anything gross, he’s not completely gross, and he’s pretending to wait his turn for the bathroom when he’s really just savoring his coffee. I think I’ll live.”

“Besides, Charlie.” Dean grabbed an outfit out of his bag. “How many people do you think have had sex on these beds? They run how many cruises a year?” He headed into the bathroom to the sound of Charlie yelling that she hated them all.

After quickly getting dressed, Dean took a moment to look in the mirror. There was something different about his appearance that he couldn’t quite place. He splashed some cold water on his face and headed back out into the cabin where Charlie had been convinced to curl up with Cas and Meg. “You not getting up now, Cas?”

“Look, I don’t even like women like that, but something is appealing about this.” He smiled and feigned injury as he earned chest smacks from both ladies. “Fine, I get it.” He handed his coffee to Meg who set it on the nightstand.

Dean watched as Cas grabbed the items he needed from his suitcase before stopping in front of him and giving him a peck on the lips. Dean’s heart swelled, and he moved over to the bed, falling back on it with a grin on his face.

“Jesus, Dean-O, who would have taken you for a softie.” Meg leaned forward and patted the top of his head.

“I’d say ignore her, but she’s right. You came on the boat Sunday, adamant that you were straight.” Charlie nudged his shoulder with her foot. “I knew that was a lie, by the way.”

Dean waved her off.

“Now you’re here, completely taken with Castiel–”

“Who is smitten with you, if you couldn’t tell.” Meg interrupted, her eyebrows wagging.

Charlie rolled her eyes before turning back to Dean and smiling hopefully at him. “I think you need a new song lyric to focus on. You don’t have to let go of the old one, because there are always classics that can bring a smile to our face.” The door to the bathroom opened, and Cas stepped out, his eyes instantly finding Dean’s. Charlie leaned in to finish her thought. “Sometimes, a new song is what we need to get our heart racing again.”

Dean nodded at Charlie’s words, his eyes never leaving Cas’. “I think I understand that now.”

“Good. ‘Cause you two need to get your shoes on, so we can grab breakfast before this damn boat gets to dock.” Meg hopped off of the bed and pulled Charlie with her. “We’ll be outside.”

“Do I even want to know?” Cas asked as he tossed his pajamas into his suitcase.

“It’s something we’ll figure out, Cas.” Dean slid off the bed and crossed over to Cas, pulling him into his arms. “Hopefully, sooner rather than later.”

xxx

As the group ate breakfast, a shipwide announcement came through, stating that they would reach port in approximately 45 minutes.

Charlie and Meg excused themselves, while Dean and Cas leaned in closer together.

“They’re going to have sex one last time, aren’t they?” Dean stated rhetorically once the ladies were out of earshot.

“Without a doubt.” Cas rested his head on Dean’s shoulder. “Did Charlie mention anything about wanting to keep seeing Meg once the cruise was over?”

“Yep.” Dean nodded. “She said it may be difficult at first. She has to find a place in San Francisco again, but she felt confident that she could.”

“Huh, I don’t recall that.”

“That Red’s not in Cisco?” Dean thought for a second. “I don’t recall her bringing it up in front of you, so unless Meg told you, I’m not sure you would have known.” Dean kissed the top of Cas’ head. “She’s just down in Palo Alto. I did tell her she could move in with me for a bit if it made it easier to figure out what’s going on with her and Meg while she searches for a place.”

Cas sat up and turned to face Dean. “Shit, I never did ask which neighborhood you’re in.”

“That’s the deal-breaker?” Dean laughed. “Russian Hill.”

“Seriously?” Cas laughed. “North or South of Lombard?”

“Stalking me already?” Dean shook his head and ran his hand down his face. “More East of it, but I guess slightly South of it too.”

“You’re closer to North Beach?”

Dean nodded his head back and forth. “Yeah, you could say that. The shop is actually in North Beach.”

“Dean, I live off of Telegraph Hill.”

“No shit.”

“Yeah, Meg and I rent a small condo together. It’s how we can afford to live there.” Cas shook his head in disbelief. “How long have we practically been neighbors, and could have run into one another?”

“I’ve been at my place for practically three years now.”

“It’s a small world.” Cas kissed Dean’s cheek.

Dean nodded and slid out of the booth, offering his hand to help Cas out. “It is.”

“So, planning on taking me back to your cabin to let me ravish you one last time?”

“Nope.” Dean shook his head. “That makes this…” He pointed between the two of them. “Seem too final. I’m not done.”

“Good. But once we’re off this ship, I’m holding you to that.” Cas lightly tugged on Dean’s hand and started leading him out of the dining room. “We are making arrangements for an actual date, understood?”

“Yep. Now I do want some cuddles until we get in port. Damn Meg and Charlie denying us morning cuddles.”

Cas laughed. “That can be arranged.”

xxx

Once the ship was back in the dock, Cas and Dean disembarked hand-in-hand with Charlie and Meg behind them.

“Did you leave your car here, or do you have someone picking you up, Dean?” Cas asked once they were back on solid ground.

“Sammy’s coming to get me. Wasn’t gonna leave my baby in the lot here.” Dean scanned the crowd. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he has Eileen with him.”

“Gabe remembered that he’s coming to get us, right?” Meg inquired, nudging Cas’ side.

“Yes.” Cas turned to Charlie. “How about you?”

“Bright yellow beetle over there.” Charlie pointed. “But, I’m happy to stay with you guys until your rides are here.”

Dean chuckled and pointed towards Charlie’s car as well. “Mine sticks out like a sore thumb. My brother is that giant a couple of cars down from that.” He stopped and looked at Cas. “It’s up to you. You don’t have to come and meet the family yet.”

“Might as well.” Cas shrugged. “We can load up Charlie’s car on the way.”

“That is Sam, isn’t it!?” Charlie pulled her suitcase behind her as she skipped across the parking lot. “Sam! Hi! It’s me! It’s Charlie!”

Dean, Cas, and Meg all watched in various shades of amusement as Charlie dropped her bag off behind her car before running and jumping into Sam’s arms. Eileen, as Dean predicted, was there as well, and popped out from between the vehicles and started signing to Dean, asking where her enthusiastic hello was.

Dean secured his bag over his shoulder before signing back. “Sorry, hands are full.”

“Is that him?” Eileen smiled.

Dean rolled his eyes and kept signing as they got closer. “Sam can’t keep his mouth shut?”

“He gossips worse than old women at the park.”

Dean started laughing loudly, causing Cas and Meg to turn and stare at him. “Sorry, Eileen was making fun of Sam.”

“You weren’t kidding when you said she was deaf, huh, Dean-O?” Meg blushed. “Sorry about that.” She tilted her head. “Not to sound ignorant, but how do we talk to her?”

“Eileen can lip read well enough, so just talk to her. I’ll sign next to you, so she can catch anything she might have missed. She can also speak well enough on her own.” Dean looked back at Eileen and signed before picking her up in a squeeze. “Hiya, beautiful.”

“Hi, Dean.” She spoke clearly, then looked between Cas and Meg. “I know that’s Charlie, who are these two? Going to introduce me?”

“Sure, if the moose pays attention.” Dean signed and shouted over to Sam. “You going to make me do introductions more than once, Sammy?”

“Sorry, Dean. I ran into a client.” Another head poked out from between the cars, causing Cas and Meg to gasp.

“Gabriel?” Cas inquired, as Meg confusingly asked, “Gabe?”

Dean looked at a perplexed Eileen and signed to catch her up. “Apparently, Sam’s client is Cas’ brother.”

“I’m so sorry.” She signed in return, clearly joking by the mirth in her eyes. She moved so she could see Dean and Sam and watch them sign.

“So, wait a minute.” Charlie piped up. “Sam’s a lawyer.”

“Yes. Proprietary Interests, Intellectual Rights.” Sam confirmed.

Cas shook his head. “And Gabriel writes, directs, and produces Pornography.”

“Guilty.” Gabriel shrugged.

“And you two already knew each other.” Dean ran his hand down his face as a realization hit him. “Shit. You were at the wedding.”

“You met my brother before you met me?” Cas chuckled. “This should be a great story.”

Chapter Text

-Three Years Before the Cruise-


A short, well-groomed brunette strode up next to Sam, offering his glass in a toast. “Congratulations, Sam!”

“Thanks, Gabe.” Sam clinked his glass lightly against the other while watching his bride spin around on the dance floor. “Thanks for spotting the last little bit of money too.”

“Consider that part of my wedding gift. You’re a great lawyer, and you’ve busted your ass for me over the past year. I look forward to many more years working with you.”

Sam raised his eyebrow curiously. “Part of? Gabe, I asked to borrow fifteen hundred from you.”

“Eh, the other part is a voucher to make a porno with Eileen.” Gabe winked. When Sam blanched, Gabe laughed. “I kid! Although if you ever have room for one more.”

“Gabriel.”

Gabe laughed and clapped his hand on Sam’s arm. “Okay, enough with the jokes.”

“You know, you could have brought Kali with you.”

“Bring my on-again, off-again, porn star girlfriend to your wedding and cause a scene?” Gabe took a sip of his champagne. “Nah. I like you. Don’t need the drama.”

“And that’s why she’s only your girlfriend sometimes.” The song changed, and Sam paused to look at Eileen to make sure she could feel it before going back to his conversation with Gabe. “So, you didn’t bring her. Hoping to hook up with someone else tonight?”

Gabe shrugged. “I mean, options are open, right? Although, you two kept the wedding party small. And the Maid of Honor is in a relationship. Can’t get a read on your Best Man, though.”

“You’re not his type.” Sam took a sip of his drink. “Besides, he’s still um...” He ran his hand down his face. “He’s still in mourning.”

“That’s…”

Sam nodded solemnly. “Yeah, that’s Dean.”

“Shame. He’s pretty.”

“He’s a good person. Put himself through hell and back so I could have a good life. Busted his ass at the garage, worked extra shifts. Should have gone to college, but thought it was wasted on him.” Sam ran his fingers through his hair. “Ash was his one good thing.”

“You and Eileen, try to set him up with anyone?” Gabe asked, sipping casually at his drink.

“He sees through that too easily. He’ll bring home a girl every now and then, but that’s just…” Sam shrugged. “A stop-gap?” He looked down at the shorter man. “He’s still hiding the fact that he likes guys.”

“Sounds like my brother.” Gabe chuckled. “He’s so far in the wardrobe, I think he’s found Narnia.”

Sam offered his glass for another toast, which Gabe gladly obliged. “To idiot brothers who think we’d love them less–”

“Despite the fact we already know,” Gabe finished. The song changed again, this time to a slower one. Sam moved to go join Eileen when Gabe grabbed his arm. “You know. We could introduce them. No expectations, just friends.”

“I think that sounds like a plan.” Sam nodded towards Eileen. “But if you’ll excuse me.”

“Of course.” Gabe waited for Sam to join his new wife on the dance floor. He finished his drink and grabbed two fresh ones before heading over to Dean. “Hello there, handsome.” Gabe offered a flute of champagne. “Can I join you?”

Dean took the drink and tossed it back. “Why? Sammy put you up to it?” He looked Gabe up and down after setting down the glass. “Not interested. Sam’s old enough to know my type by now.”

“Sam actually said I wasn’t your type.” Gabe let out a laugh. “What is your type? I can find you one.”

“Yeah? Did Sam tell you to not bother me too?” Dean pushed himself up from the table. “Hooking up with someone from a wedding’s kinda cliche anyway. Enjoy the rest of the reception.” Dean walked away, his hands shoved in his pockets.

Gabe sat in the vacated seat and watched as Dean exited the ballroom. “Just your type, Cassie.” He sipped at his champagne and turned his attention back to Sam and Eileen, twirling on the dance floor.

xxx

-One Year After the Cruise-


“So believe it or not, Sam and I actually did try what, three or four times to get you two together?” Gabe looked over at Sam.

“I think you’re underestimating. It was probably closer to six or seven.” Sam smiled as chuckles came from the small group around them.

“There was your housewarming party.” Gabe ticked his finger, “But Cassie had Parent-Teacher Conferences.”

“And then the Release Party for Casa Erotica 18, but Dean had the flu.”

“And then the Release Party for Casa Erotica 19, but Cassie said no after what happened at the party for 18.” Gabe tilted the glass in his hand towards Cas. “Still sorry about that.”

Sam ticked a fourth finger, “There was your second studio opening event. Dean couldn’t get off from the shop.”

“I think we get the point, Samantha,” Dean spoke up, his head resting on Cas’ shoulder.

“Gabe and I just want to make a point.” Sam looked at Gabe.

“Right, and that point is that we knew that you two would be a great match. Even though we weren’t the ones who got you two together.”

“We totally did.” Sam cut in. “We got them on the ship.”

“Nuh-uh.” Meg’s hand shot up. “I got Castiel on the ship. That was all my blackmail.”

Eileen raised her hand as well. “The cruise was my idea. You wanted to send him camping.”

“I mean, camping is more me, but…” Dean tilted his chin up and kissed Cas’ cheek. “I have a new appreciation for cruises.” He turned to Eileen and signed, “Thank you.”

“Okay, can the Best Men finish their speech, please?” Gabriel interrupted, looking around at the group before raising his glass. “Dean, you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You’re stubborn and independent. But when you let yourself? You love truly, you love fiercely, and you love thoroughly. Thank you for opening yourself up and letting Cassie in. I know that he’s in good hands with you.

“Cassie. You closed yourself off because of how we were raised. I’m sorry that I wasn’t brave and strong enough to help you be yourself.” Gabe smiled fondly at his younger brother. “But you are so brave on your own. You took the first flight with only a small push–” He looked at Meg then looked back at Cas. “–a shove from the nest. You put yourself out there, and you went for what you wanted. And you got it. We’re this crazy little family now, and knowing you? You wouldn’t have it any other way.” Gabe turned to Sam, taking his glass and offering him his turn to speak.

“Castiel,” Sam spelled out before pointing to Eileen. “I know it’s technically my turn to speak, but Eileen has something that she wants to share with you first.”

Cas and Dean turned to look at a very pregnant Eileen who had stood from her seat. “Castiel, it took us a while to come up with it, but it shouldn’t have. We knew you were family the moment Dean’s eyes lit up again. You saved him from his darkness, from his self-hatred, from his own personal hell. You are the angel that your name represents.” She winked at Dean, who was quickly sitting up. “Castiel, your name sign.” Eileen did the sign for angel, her right hand turning into a C as it came off her shoulder.

Dean turned to look at Cas. Tears were freely streaming down his face as he signed “Thank you” to Eileen and Sam. Dean wiped the tears away as Sam started to speak again.

“Dean, I know this is going to be hard to hear, especially on what’s supposed to be a happy day. But I would be remiss if I didn’t say this.” Sam stole a glance from Bobby, Ellen, and Jo, who all nodded. “We all knew that no matter what, Ash would want you to be happy. That night you Skyped me on the cruise, do you remember? What did I say?” Sam waited until Dean nodded. “I said, ‘Go be the Dean that Ash fell in love with.’ None of us, Castiel included, want you to forget Ash. Because we—” Sam gestured at their adopted family. “–never will.

“We want you to know that we never want you to hide, we want you to be proud, and we want you to know that you have your family at your back. We will always support you.” Sam took his glass back from Gabe.

“To Dean and Castiel!” Gabe raised his glass.

Cheers and glasses clinking filled the room around Cas and Dean as they leaned in for a chaste kiss.

Charlie tapped her glass with her knife and cleared her throat. “So, while I know this is supposed to be an informal, formal affair, there is still something we all agreed on. You boys need a first dance as husbands.”

“Charlie, we’re on a cruise ship with hundreds of other guests. There are easily 30 other people in here with us. We’re not going to—” Cas stopped talking as Charlie’s hand shot up, and the lights dimmed in the lounge. The first few beats of their song started playing.

“You were saying?” Charlie smirked. “Up with you two!”

The first few lines of the song were sung as the newlyweds got to their feet. Dean took Cas by the hand and pulled him close before wrapping his arms around Cas’ neck.

It's the look in your eyes that told me
It's the way that we lie that haunts me.
I will love you forevermore
I will love you forevermore.
It's the fear of height that kills me
From all that we hide, we will be.
I will love you forevermore
I will love you forevermore.

“Charlie probably thinks she’s clever, doesn’t she?” Dean whispered into Cas’ ear.

Oh, my heart is telling me
That it's now or we'll never be.
You take away all my fears
You take away all my fears.
I won't let you ever give up
Can't you see, I want you so much.
You take away all my fears
You take away all my fears.

Cas nodded and rested his head in the crook of Dean’s neck.

I will tell you for the first time
I will tell you what I've always wanted to.
I will try, so we never go back.
We've pretended for the last time
And I swear I'll be the only one for you.
I will try, so we never go back.

The pair swayed back and forth, forgetting the rest of the room around them. Cas started humming the tune as he pulled Dean in closer.

I will give you all that I've got
Somehow I don't think I can stop.
So take away all my fears
So take away all my fears.
Oh my heart, tell me that you feel it
I don't wanna see us ever give up
I'll love you forever, I hope that we'll never
Never give up.

Dean carded his fingers through Cas’ hair and started quietly singing along.

I will tell you for the first time
I will tell you what I've always wanted to.
I will try, so we never go back.
We've pretended for the last time
And I swear I'll be the only one for you.
I will try, so we never go back.

Cas pulled back, watching Dean contently as they remained in each other’s arms.

I will tell you for the first time
I will tell you what I've always wanted to.

I will tell you for the first time
I will tell you what I've always wanted to.

“A year ago, did you think you’d be here?” Cas asked, the corner of his mouth fighting to curl up into a smile.

I will tell you for the first time
I will tell you what I've always wanted to.

I will tell you for the first time
I will tell you what I've always wanted to.

Dean shook his head. “No. But I’ve enjoyed this journey with you so much, Angel.” Dean leaned in, pressing his lips against Cas’ in a tender kiss.

I will tell you for the first time
I will tell you what I've always wanted to.
I will try, so we never go back.
We've pretended for the last time
And I swear I'll be the only one for you.
I will try, so we never go back.

As the song ended, Cas pulled out of the kiss, tilting his head and smiling at Dean. “For the first time?”

Dean grinned, resting his forehead against Cas’. “And for the last time.”