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I Like Me Better When I'm With You

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Normally, if they weren't out saving the world and kicking monster ass, Tuesday was movie night. Dean would be the one to pick the movie, but that evening Jack had asked (read: pleaded) to be allowed to choose. 

 

He had to get Sam to stop teaching Jack those goddamn puppy eyes. Kid was an expert at getting Dean to cave every damn time! 

 

Much to his chagrin, Jack had settled for Thor—again, despite Dean stating that the movie wasn't accurate and that Norse gods were slimy sons of bitches. 

 

Movie night always happened in the Dean-cave (yes, Sam I'll call it that, thank you very much). 

 

With a bowl of popcorn in each hand and a six pack case of beer tucked under his arm, Dean made his way to the Dean-cave where Sam and Jack were already curled up in their usual spots. 

 

"Where's Cas?" He asked as he handed Jack a bowl and the other to Sam. 

 

"He's in the shower."

 

Right. Dean had forgotten about the angel's newfound love for hot showers every night. It was bad enough that he was hopelessly in love with the angel, so he tried not to think about Castiel in the shower, gloriously naked, surrounded by steam as he brushed those long fingers through that dark, wet sex hair, or the way the water ran in many rivulets down the flat panes of his toned, muscled chest, or his powerful t— Stop it!

 

He cleared his throat loudly and sat down next to Jack who was busy reading a book. He popped open a bottle as they waited for their last member to show up. 

 

"Whatcha reading, buddy?"

 

"A book."

 

Dean rolled his eyes. Apparently Jack shared Castiel's habit of stating the bluntly obvious. Honestly, those two were so similar. 

 

"Right."

 

"Hey Sam, what do you mean when someone is whipped? The protagonist here thinks his brother is so whipped." The invisible air quotes around the last two words couldn't have been more obvious. 

 

Jack had started reading a lot of novels ever since his soul had returned and he always asked Sam when he came across a new word.

 

"Being whipped basically means you're willing to do absolutely anything for someone you love. Even if it's not something you like or enjoy. You'd still do it because it made that person happy. You care about their thoughts and emotions way more than your own."

 

"You mean like how Dean is with Cas? Does that mean Dean is whipped?"

 

Said man choked on his beer and coughed, cursing when some of it spilled on his shirt. 

 

He glared at the kid who was innocently looking at Sam for an answer. 

 

Dean then glared at his brother who smirked back at him knowingly. Don't you dare you little shit...

 

"Yeah, Jack that's exactly what it means. Dean is whipped. So whipped."

 

Oh he was so going to kill his smug bastard of a baby brother. 

 

"Why is Dean whipped?" A gravelly voice asked from the door. 

 

Just kill me already!

 

Dean turned around to see Castiel enter the room. He'd ditched his usual suit and tan trench coat for a pair of Dean's grey drawstring sweatpants and a black T-shirt. The sweatpants hugged him just right and the T-shirt was stretched taut across his chest, hinting at what lay underneath. His hair was still wet from the shower as he sat down on the only empty sofa in the room. 

 

He was still getting used to seeing Castiel in other clothes and honestly, Dean thought it was a crime against mankind that he'd put on so many layers of clothes all these years. 

 

"Sam was just telling me that De—"

 

Dean unceremoniously shoved a handful of popcorn into the kid's mouth before he blurted out anything.

 

"Eat up, kid."

 

"Dean, you have beer on your shirt." Castiel pointed out rather unhelpfully.

 

"Thanks Captain obvious. Now are we gonna watch the damn movie or what?"

 

Face red, Dean all but flew across the room to turn off the lights and turn on the movie.

 

Things were okay after that. Sam and Jack didn't embarrass him any further and Castiel was blissfully oblivious to it all. 

 

Halfway through, Castiel's phone rang and he went out to answer it.

 

"I have to go." He announced when he returned from the call. 

 

"What do you mean you have to go? Where? Who was it?"

 

"A friend is stuck in some trouble and he called for assistance. I'm afraid it's quite urgent."

 

"Friend? What friend? Is it one of your halo buddies?" Dean asked even as he got up to follow Castiel out. 

 

"No. It's uh... it's the Sam and Dean from the alternate universe."

 

What?

 

"Those clowns? Aren't they supposed to be in Brazil or something? And how the hell did they call your number? I thought we kicked them out for good."

 

Castiel raised his left eyebrow in disapproval at his crude words and Dean tried not to focus on how hot that was. 

 

"First of all, they aren't in Brazil because they're not billionaires anymore. I gave them my number before they left so that they'd reach out if they ever needed help. You have to understand that they don't know anyone from our world. And lastly, they aren't as bad as you make them out to be. That Dean sends me a text message every now and then to check in. In fact, that Dean is quite... charming."

 

The last line was absolutely plain, just a statement without any judgment or suggestion. But it irritated Dean all the same. 

 

It was bad enough that the stuck up clown had constantly flirted with Castiel when he'd been here and now he's texting him too? 

 

"I'm coming too," he stated. 

 

"You hate them. And when you don't like someone, you tend to get... hostile."

 

"Hostile? I'm adorable. And I promise I'll behave. Besides, you need someone to drive you."

 

"It's a three hour drive."

 

"Awesome, lets go."

 

Castiel sighed. It was one of those patented long suffering sighs that came from dealing with a stubborn dumbass for far too long. "Very well."

 

It didn't take long to hit the road. Dean told Sam and Jack about the situation and that they'd be back in few hours.

 

When he got to the Impala, Castiel was already there, dressed in his usual clothes. 

 

"So what's the situation?" Dean asked once they were on their way. He realised that he didn't even know what they were heading towards. 

 

"Sam said that Dean was injured. They were attacked by three vampires who mistook them for you two. They killed the monsters but that Dean got hurt in the process."

 

Dean tried to quell the guilt that arose in his gut. He tried to tell himself that it wasn't his fault that those two got hurt but it was futile. 

 

"Stop that." 

 

"What?"

 

"You're blaming yourself for what happened. It's not your fault."

 

"I told you not to read my mind, Cas."

 

"I don't have to."

 

Dean felt himself flush. Was he really that easy to read?

 

"Only to me."

 

So he'd said that part out loud. Great going, Winchester. Maybe if he had the time, he'd write a book: Dean Winchester's Guide to make an Idiot of Yourself. Guaranteed Results! 

 

Neither of them spoke after that and the rock music was the only noise in the car. 

 

"We're here," Dean pulled up in front of the address that Castiel had told him. It was an apartment building, nothing fancy and flanked by similar buildings. The neighbourhood was silent, considering that it was made up of only residential buildings and it was nearly midnight. 

 

"So which floor was it?"

 

"Fourth floor, the one next to the staircase."

 

They elevator was broken so they trekked up the stairs, Dean cursing his knees and panting all the way while the damn angel didn't break a sweat. 

 

Life was unfair. 

 

Castiel knocked on the door while Dean caught his breath. 

 

It was the alternate Sam who answered the door. He'd traded his blazer and cravat for a pair of jeans and T-shirt although he still hadn't ditched the man-bun. There was a Band-Aid on his forehead but other than that he was unscathed.

 

His face melted into a relieved grin when he saw the angel. 

 

"Castiel! Thank you for coming! I didn't know who else to call. Normally our medical team would handle these situations but now... I panicked and Dean was bleeding and we didn't have the chopper to get him to our Medical wing and we didn't know what to say at a hospital and I'm so sorry for ca—"

 

"Sam." Castiel silenced him with a single word. "Where's Dean?"

 

"Right...yeah, this way."

 

They followed Alternate Sam into the apartment. It was a small but pretty tidy place. They went past the living room and into the one of the two bedrooms. 

 

There, Dean saw his alternate self sitting up on the bed against the headboard with his chest bandaged rather messily. Judging by the blood seeping through the bandage, Alternate Sam hadn't done a very good job. Alternate Dean was also sporting an impressive black eye.

 

Despite being injured, his mouth curved into a wide smile when his eyes landed on the angel. He winced when his busted lip hurt from that action. "Cas!"

 

"Hello, Dean," the angel greeted as he moved to sit on the bed. Castiel places his palm on Alternate Dean's forehead and there was a blue glow from under his hand as the bruises on his face healed. He then did the same to the injured man's chest as well.

 

"You should rest," Castiel told him once all wounds had been dealt with. "And you're an idiot," he added. "A reckless idiot."

 

"Aww. I still got you to show up and go all Dr. Sexy on me, didn't I?" Alternate Dean grinned as he bumped Castiel's shoulder with his.

 

The angel sighed, looking equal parts of annoyed and fond. "How have you been?"

 

"Peachy. You tell me, gorgeous. Kick any demon ass lately? How's Jack?"

 

Dean watched the scene unfold before him with a growing ache in his chest. He hadn't known that Castiel was on such good terms with their alternate selves. 

 

That exasperated huff, the hello Dean, the playful bickering; wasn't that supposed to be their thing? 

 

He tried not to let it bother him when the other guy sat a little too close to Castiel or the way the angel chuckled softly when he said something that wasn't even that funny! And couldn't Castiel see that the knock off Dean was hitting on him?

 

You're jealous, Winchester. Oh and the kid was right: you are whipped.

 

Alternate Dean wouldn't stop flirting and it didn't help that Castiel was completely oblivious to the guy's advances.

 

He was startled out of his thoughts when Alternate Sam clapped him on the shoulder. "Those two will take a while. I'm gonna make coffee, you want some?"

 

He cleared his throat. "Uh yeah... sure."

 

The silence in the kitchen was rather stiff as they waited for coffee. "So uh... what are you doing now? Now that the trust funds have disappeared."

 

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Dean felt like an ass.

 

But Sam wasn't offended. "Honestly? It's not too bad. We're just lucky to be alive. We found this place a couple of weeks ago and Dean- well my Dean got a job at a bakery close by. He's always loved baking since he was a kid so he was elated to take the job. He bakes a mean pie."

 

So perhaps there was some similarity between the two Deans after all. 

 

"What about you?"

 

Sam quirked a smile at that. "I decided to start working on my book. I realised I'd been putting it off for too long.  If this whole end of the world thing has taught me anything, it's that life is too short and unpredictable not to do what you love, spend time with whom you love. Who knows what's gonna happen tomorrow?"

 

Turns out even this Sam was prone to spewing wisdom just like his own baby brother. 

 

They drank their coffee in a less awkward silence than before. 

 

"We'll probably stay here until we've got enough cash to move farther away from you guys. It's not safe with you know... God."

 

"Yeah. So uh... what happened, the vampires?"

 

Sam shrugged. "They came out of nowhere. We'd gone to get some groceries when we got jumped. There were three of them but we managed to fight them off. Dean took the knife meant for me. He's reckless, but very brave." There was that little brother admiration in his tome that his Sam showed sometimes. Then he added as an afterthought: "But when you can stand up to John Winchester, monsters aren't a big deal."

 

That piqued Dean's interest. "What do you mean stand up to John Winchester?" 

 

Sam grinned somewhat wistfully. "Back at home, I was always the mediator between Dean and dad. They had disagreements all the time and I had to keep the peace between them. I didn't mind. Don't get me wrong, dad loved the both of us but him and Dean butted heads a lot."

 

What? 

 

Sam swirled his coffee and continued. "The biggest row they had was when dad found out Dean was bi. He walked in on Dean making out with this new recruit who'd joined HunterCorp."

 

What?

 

"There was a lot of yelling and Dean wouldn't let dad fire the guy. Now if your John Winchester was anything like the one in our world, you'd know that he had a pretty scary temper."

 

Oh Dean definitely knew all about that. He'd experienced the effects of that temper first hand many times.

 

"Dad wasn't used to being disobeyed. Everyone listened to John Winchester. Except Dean. When dad told him to stop this bullshit, Dean looked him dead in the eye and said: 'it's who I am. Suck it up and deal with it." 

 

What?

 

In no universe had Dean ever imagined he would go against his father. Sam had always been the bold one, the rebel. Turns out their roles had been reversed in this other universe. Over here, Dean was always the good son, the obedient one. Never the type to disregard John's wishes.

 

Turns out this Dean had done just that. He felt what could only be described as a grudging respect towards his alternate self. 

 

Dean had discovered he liked guys when he was around eighteen. Of course he hadn't told anyone then and he'd never acted on it either, but that small little what if had always been there in his mind. Sam knew now. Charlie had been the first one he'd told. 

 

Both of them had been nothing but supportive. 

 

When Castiel finally came out of the room, it was with Alternate Dean.

 

"I suppose we better get going," Castiel said to him and Dean refrained the urge to do sob from happiness. 

 

About damn time already.

 

"If you must," Alternate Dean replied, looking like it was a real travesty that the angel had to leave. "Hey, you drop by anytime you like, handsome. Hell I'll even go and throw myself at some monsters if I can get you to come over and play guardian angel slash Dr. Sexy."

 

The easy smile, the lingering hand on Castiel's arm; Dean had to admit that his alternate self was a smooth bastard. Kinda like Dean himself, but definitely more confident.

 

"You will do no such thing," Castiel sternly replied.

 

"Yeah okay, as you wish." 

 

The next thing the guy did pissed Dean off beyond limit.

 

He curled his hand around the angel's neck and pressed a kiss to his cheek (read: jaw). "Thanks for coming, Cas."

 

Dean saw red. "Yeah okay, that's enough hotshot! Let's take a step back there! Come on, Cas! Let's beat it."

 

Without waiting for an answer, he grabbed the hopelessly clueless angel by the hand and escorted the both of them out of the apartment. And if he accidentally shoved past the other Dean, well, that was nobody's business.

 

Dean was still irritated when they got to the car. He realised that he was still holding Castiel's hand so he hurriedly let go. 

 

How dare that little—

 

"Dean?"

 

"What?"

 

"Are you alright? You appear rather flushed."

 

Yeah he was flushed. But it had nothing (everything) to do with how he felt at that moment. Absolutely not.

 

Maybe he was just pissed that the other him had the balls to do the very things he had wanted to do for a long time but had been too afraid. 

 

"I'm fine, Cas. Freakin' peachy."

 

They got into the car and drove off. 

 

From the corner of his eye, he glanced at Castiel who seemed perfectly at ease and totally ignorant of the emotions hurtling through Dean's mind. 

 

It didn't help that Dean was in love with his best friend, who wasn't just sinfully gorgeous but incredibly kind-hearted, adorable and downright dorky at times. 

 

"What you did today for those two... that was real big of you, man. You didn't have to help them but you did," Dean broke the silence. 

 

Castiel shrugged. "Like I already said, they don't know anyone in this world. Besides, it was the right thing to do."

 

Dean hummed in reply. "Gotta say, that other Dean sure seemed to like you." A little too much. 

 

"He was very happy to see me," Castiel admitted with an exasperated and amused grin.

 

"You're not planning to leave me, Sam and Jack for those two knuckleheads are ya?" He joked, aiming for levity but falling terribly short.

 

"Of course not. The four of us are a family. Besides, you and I are more than that."

 

"W-What?"

 

"You and I share a profound bond, Dean," Castiel stated like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "While there are many Winchester brothers in the other universes, you're the only one I share an intimate bond with. So to answer your rather foolish question, no I won't be leaving you for those uh... knuckleheads," Castiel continued, not at all considering the fact that he'd lost Dean at intimate. 

 

They were literally in a fight against God and no one knew how this would end. For all they knew, the entire world could be gone any day now. 

 

What if he died and never got a chance to tell Cas how he truly felt?

 

Or worse, what if Cas d—no! He refused to think of that. He tightened his fingers on the wheel till his knuckles turned white and swallowed thickly.

 

There were times where they could have been happy but Dean had chosen to be bitter, closed off and angry. What if he lost him and there was no return this time?

 

What if he had told Cas the truth long ago?

 

He took a deep breath and pulled over.

 

"Dean? Are you okay?"

 

Sighing heavily, Dean shook his head. "I'm marvellous." He opened the door on his side and got out, letting the cool night air hit him in the face. 

 

He leaned against the car and closed his eyes for a moment. 

 

"What's wrong, Dean?"

 

When had Cas come to stand next to him?

 

They were standing close enough that their shoulders were brushing but still not close enough for Dean's liking.

 

"Cas?" When the angel hummed in question, Dean continued. "What did you see? In that paradise world Jack showed you a couple of years ago, what did you see?"

 

"What?" There was a rare note of surprise in the Castiel's voice.

 

Dean shrugged slightly. "You said you saw paradise. What was it like? I've always wanted to ask."

 

"It was a happy place. The world itself was a better place, no evil, no suffering. More than a tangible place, it was a feeling of absolute bliss. I don't know how to describe it in exact terms, but it was beautiful, unlike anything I'd ever experienced in my several millennia."

 

Right, millennia. Sometimes, Dean forgot that Castiel was actually a bajillion years old. 

 

"Do you think we'll ever get to see paradise? Be happy without having to always look over our shoulder?"

 

"I should hope so. You deserve that more than anyone I know."

 

"You deserve it too, Cas," Dean replied immediately because it was true. Castiel did deserve to be happy. He'd been through a lot, especially after the angels had fallen. 

 

"If I should be fortunate enough to receive this happiness, I would very much like to spend it with you, Dean."

 

Damn.

 

That had to mean something right?

 

Dean felt a lump in his throat and a suspicious burning behind his eyes. Castiel was standing so close. If Dean moved just a bit, he'd be able to rest his head on the angel's shoulder, maybe press himself against him and bury his face in Castiel's neck. 

 

Had Chuck messed up his genetic make up by dumping a truckload of sappy fuzziness into his system?

 

Would it really be so bad if he spilled his heart out to Castiel? Poured out all that he'd felt for him since what seemed like forever? 

 

How long would he hide his feelings from everyone including himself? Besides, in his heart, Dean held onto the belief that his love for Castiel wasn't completely unrequited.

 

The angel felt something at least, right? 

 

They didn't have forever, at least Dean didn't. What they had though was this moment. Him and Castiel, alone yet together.

 

He'd dreamed about it several times. A life together. Most of the shit was domestic and disgustingly fluffy with him and Castiel shopping for groceries and arguing about which sheets would look better on their bed or what cereal they wanted, he dreamed of cooking, dancing around like absolute dorks as the oven baked their pie in the kitchen. He dreamed of sleeping in on a Saturday morning, trading slow unhurried kisses while wrapped in each other's arms, he dreamed of Sunday brunches with Sammy, Jack, Eileen, Charlie, Jody and her girls. 

 

The proud smile when they dropped Jack off to college had felt so real that Dean had cried when he'd woken up that night, yearning for a life he'd never have. 

 

Other times the dreams turned downright steamy when Cas would slam him into the nearest wall and mercilessly attack Dean's lips and neck, kissing him passionately and dare he say possessively, sucking a trail of bruises all the way from jaw to chest until Dean was positively begging for more.

 

He wanted it all. He wanted to kiss the man he loved without a care in the world, wanted to wake up next to him the morning after a night of particularly mind-blowing sex, argue over dumb crap like sheets and curtains, dance with Castiel in their kitchen while their dinner got burnt, drop their kid off to college and pretend he wasn't actually crying. 

 

Most importantly... he wanted to tell Castiel that he loved him without his throat closing up every time he tried.

 

"Cas?"

 

"Hmm?"

 

"You know that I'm not the best when it comes to talking about y'know... feelings and all that fuzzy crap right?"

 

"I am aware of that, yes."

 

Dean was thankful that the darkness hid the heat creeping up his neck and cheeks. "I know I don't show it but I care about you a lot." 

 

In the dark, something flashed in Castiel's blue eyes before it disappeared and his face softened. "Thank you, Dean. I am immensely fond of you as well. You, Sam, Jack: you are family."

 

Dean huffed in mild frustration. How was he supposed to convey what he was actually trying to say?

 

"Yeah, sure Sam and Jack are some of my favourite people. But you... you're different. What I'm trying to say is... you're..."

 

Gosh why was this so hard?

 

Maybe because you've kept it hidden for so long.

 

"I'm what, Dean?"

 

Dean Winchester had always been a man of action. Where his words failed him, actions took over and did what his voice couldn't. This time was no different. 

 

His hand seemed to work on its own as it reached out to grasp Castiel's. Slight surprise and a hint of something else passed on the angel's face but he smiled reassuringly at Dean, ever patient.

 

Castiel's hand was large and warm in his own. His fingers were long and graceful with slight calluses on the fingertips. He took a deep breath, carefully rubbing his thumb along the other man's knuckles. 

 

Feeling brave, he stepped closer to Castiel, lacing their fingers together and turned so that they were standing chest to chest instead of shoulder to shoulder. Hardly daring to breathe, he reached out his other hand and curled it around the back of the angel's neck and leaned in so that their foreheads were resting against each other.

 

"Dean?" There was a question in Castiel's voice and Dean was certain he didn't imagine the hitch in his tone when the angel said his name. 

 

"Cas... I love you." 

 

The words were soft and almost reverent; like a caress, prayer, fact and confession all wrapped together. 

 

How long had he held those words close to his heart, refusing to reveal it or say it out loud even to himself?

 

Before he could lose his nerve, Dean closed the gap between them pressed his lips to the angel's.

 

It was slow and tentative. Castiel's lips were warm and moist against his own. Castiel made a soft noise of surprise and then all but melded into him, fingers weaving through Dean's short hair and angling their heads better.

 

Dean wasn’t sure how long they kissed but it was better than anything he’d pictured. All through, there was only one single thought in his head: Holy shit! I'm actually freakin' kissing Cas! This was totally real, not like one of the many dreams he'd had.

 

Castiel pulled away first smiling softly, his thumb stroking Dean's cheek in a manner he'd never dared to do before. 

 

"Dean," his tone was even gravelly than normal and Dean couldn't help but shiver pleasantly.

 

"You taught me to live, laugh and love. With you, I discovered what it's like to do what you believe, to stand up for what's right and damn the consequences. I got to experience family, to have people who fight for and who will fight for you in return. Despite being around for eons, it was with you that I realised what it's like to truly be alive."

 

Dean's breath caught in his throat on that confession. The burning behind his eyes returned twofold.

 

"I love every part of you: I love how you care about those around you. You make fun of Sam's hippie health diet crap and yet you never fail to pick up his items when we're on a supply run. You pretend to hate the Thor franchise because it's inaccurate and yet you watch every single one because Jack loves them. You're always ready to help a friend out. You're particularly endearing in the morning when you wake up and are yet to have your coffee. You are kind, selfless, passionate with your soul just as beautiful as your body. You are awe inspiring, Dean Winchester and I love you."

 

Dean hadn't meant to cry. He'd sworn that he wouldn't and yet here he was. It was ugly and messy and it was all because of this beautiful, eloquent bastard standing before him. 

 

Dammit Cas, you made me cry!

 

Cas loved him. 

 

He opened his mouth to say something but all that came out was a half-sob. 

 

Dean was happy. Like free pie forever happy.

 

He wrapped his arms tightly around Castiel and buried his face into the angel's neck. Strong arms embraced him back, holding him securely. He felt the other man's warm lips press against his temple and smiled goofily into the tan trench coat. The angel's hands were firm but gentle as they rubbed his back steadily, running through his hair and interwoven with soft kisses to his head.

 

Dean loved this. He still couldn't wrap his head around the fact that this was all real. He lifted his head to kiss Cas on the cheek, eyes still a too misty. They stayed like that for a while.

 

His phone rang, forcing them to let go of each other. Mentally cursing, he pulled out his phone and saw his brother's name flashing on the screen. He swiped and answered.

 

"What?... Yeah we're on our way back... will be there in an hour. What? No, my voice doesn't sound funny! No Sam I wasn't crying, you're crying. Whatever, bitch... Yeah sure thing, tell the kid we'll watch the movie tomorrow, promise... uh huh, yeah, yeah okay. Bye."

 

Geez. Little brothers sure were a pain in the ass. 

 

"I suppose we should get going," Castiel remarked. 

 

"Yeah." Dean kissed Cas again just because he finally could. The angel was responded immediately, backing Dean against the Impala and all but devouring his lips. 

 

Damn Cas could kiss.

 

"I admit I could get accustomed to this," Castiel mused out loud, stroking the shell of Dean’s ear.

 

He snorted, but agreed wholeheartedly. 

 

Oh he could definitely get used to this. 

 

"Keep kissing me like that and you can do whatever you want, Cas."

 

They got into the car, and Dean felt like it was the beginning of something new and wonderful. He was being sappy, but for once, he didn't give a damn. 

 

Sam was gonna be so smug about this. Dean readied himself for a million I told you so's once the younger Winchester found out.

 

But then he glanced down at his hand that was holding Castiel's and decided that it was worth it.