When Dean stumbles into the kitchen, Castiel is already there, drinking his coffee and scrolling on the laptop. They mumble good mornings as Dean staggers past to the coffee pot and pours himself a mug. He plops himself down next to Cas and takes a couple of long drinks before glancing over at the computer.
"Not exactly looking for a hunt, huh?"
Castiel looks up from the screen. "The number of blogs dedicated to baking is staggering, Dean. And nearly all follow the same basic format—a narrative account of the writer's experience while executing the recipe, sometimes embellished with thoughts or memories only tangentially related to the recipe itself, accompanied by far more photographs than are really necessary of every step in the process, and then the actual recipe at the very end. With so many, you would think that there would be more that deviate from the formula in some way."
"So whatcha gonna bake?" Dean grins from behind his mug, and, yes, it's a little flirtatious. And yes, when he bumps Cas's knee with his own that is a little flirtatious, as well.
The only acknowledgement Castiel gives of any flirtation is to bump Dean's knee back. His face is a picture of consternation as he looks back to the computer.
"I was looking for something to bake for Sam's birthday next week. I am no closer to deciding, though, given the sheer number of choices and the time it takes to go through the posts for every one. You have to scroll past dozens of photos of every step of the baking process, usually with commentary, just to get to the recipe. And the comments are less than helpful in determining which recipes are of good quality, given that the majority are simply commenting on how good the food looks and how much the commenter is looking forward to trying the recipe in the future."
"Sam likes brownies, and he doesn't get 'em very often. Make him brownies." Dean shrugs as he takes another sip of his coffee.
Castiel's eyes look hopeful for a moment, but after some quick typing his scowl comes back. "There are over three million Google hits for 'brownie recipe.'"
Dean bumps his knee again. "Jesus, Cas, you don't have to do an exhaustive search for the ultimate brownie recipe. Read like the top five hits and pick one of those. I'm sure it'll be awesome. Sam'll love it."
Castiel gives a small grunt, one that somehow manages to communicate that while he acknowledges that Dean is right, the idea that a better recipe may be hiding in those three million hits still bothers him. He clicks on the first hit and picks his mug back up.
Dean sits back in his chair, drinking his coffee and watching Castiel. After a few moments, he realizes that the soft, mellow feeling in his chest is… contentment. He's not happy in the way that a little kid is happy at their birthday party, or even in the way that he is when Cas or Sam has been miraculously brought back to life after one of the long string of disasters in their lives. He's happy in a new and different way. And has been, maybe, for a while now. Nearly as long as Cas has been living here, human, in the bunker.
And then Dean Winchester has a moment of absolute clarity.
This is not the moment that he realizes he is attracted to Castiel. That he wants Cas. That realization (and the admission of it to himself) happened a long time ago, and over a long period of time.
First he let himself acknowledge that the grumpy, frustrating angel that was wreaking havoc on their lives but was also their most useful ally was… well, that many people would say that his looks were attractive. Eventually Dean admitted to himself that he found Castiel nice to look at, which, he told himself, was not the same thing as being attracted to him.
But over time, as Cas continued to stand too close and stare too intensely, the magnetic draw between them became impossible to ignore. And Dean was surprisingly okay with that. In his own head. But he still thought of it as nothing but attraction. As liking the way Castiel looked and feeling a warm buzz under his skin when Cas was near. He didn't want Cas. Not like he does now.
His subconscious got on board first, of course. First he found the sex dreams a little awkward. Then he grudgingly started to enjoy them. Then life interfered. He couldn't fantasize about a dead friend. Or a friend who was mentally not all there and vulnerable. And there was just no time or mental energy for fantasies in purgatory.
When Dean got out and Cas didn't, it was a bit like Cas dying all over again. But not exactly. Dean let his thoughts wander now and then. Not too far, not so far that he'd have trouble pulling back from it. But a little.
Then Cas came back. And when Dean first saw him, clean and wearing the right clothes for the first time in who knew how long, dear god did Dean's mind just immediately jump right in to all those places he'd been trying to avoid for so long. He wanted. Dean doesn't even remember now when exactly he gave in and started thinking about Cas when he jerked off, but it wasn't too long after that.
No, Dean has been very, very aware of his physical desires for a very long time.
This is also not the moment that he realizes that he is in love with Castiel. That moment has also come and gone. The love itself, that grew slowly just as the desire did. First they were enemies, then allies, then friends, then somewhere along the way Castiel grew into Dean's best friend and one of the few people he truly loved. When Cas died, Dean's grief was testament enough to the depth of his love for his friend, and although Dean would never say it out loud, he also would not have denied it if asked outright.
And then one day, just another day in Purgatory exactly like all the days that had come before it. He and Benny spent it fighting and killing and running and hiding. And then they heard water, and they headed toward the water.
And that was the moment. It was not exactly a moment of clarity, not like this moment. He was too overwhelmed with relief and disbelief and a thousand other things for his head to feel clear like it does now. But with all of that swirling around his head, one thing hit him like a baseball bat to the gut: I'm in love. I'm so fucking in love with him. Shit. Shit.
And that was that.
This isn't even the moment that Dean realizes that Castiel feels the same way for him. He's always known, really. Every time Dean's understanding of himself and his feelings for Cas has been nudged (or violently shoved) forward, it never takes long for him to realize that Cas got there just a bit ahead of him. If there were ever any question, any lingering doubt, the entire Mark of Cain debacle erased that. Over and over, Dean pushed him away, and over and over Castiel proved how utterly devoted he was.
By the time they wound up here, Cas fallen and living in the bunker, there was just no room left for any sort of denial in Dean's mind, and he's never tried for it.
Castiel has been living here as human for nearly three months. And for nearly three months, they've been drifting toward each other. They haven't said a word about it. They haven't fucked or kissed or even held fucking hands. But it doesn't really matter, because that—all of that—is just an inevitability now.
As the weeks have gone by, they've slowly stopped guarding how they look at each other. Sometimes they stare, and the intent of the stare is crystal clear to both of them, and it doesn't bother Dean in the slightest—it's amazing, in fact. They stand as close together as they please, even to the point of touching. Touch is a big one—over the past month, in particular, they've become much freer in exchanging casual touches. A hand brushing an arm or a back, a shoulder pressed against another shoulder, feet touching under the table.
It's fun. It's exciting. It makes Dean feel like a freaking teenager, only without the insecurity and anxiety. They both know where this is going, but they're in no rush. They're enjoying the journey because right now they can. There's no impending disaster pressing down on them, nothing keeping them separated but also nothing making them feel any urgency to get this thing going now now now.
Dean has often wondered when and where and how it will happen. Maybe they'll be cooking together and one of them will simply forget himself and kiss the other on the cheek as though it's something they do every day. Maybe they'll be watching TV, curled up on the couch next to each other. Someone on the show will say something that reminds them of a shared experience, and they'll look at each other and share one of the stares that has been lingering longer and longer and then they'll just be making out. Maybe one of them will break and sneak into the other's bed in the middle of the night because he can't jerk off to one more fantasy.
This, right here, right now—this is not one of the scenarios Dean has imagined.
He is sitting there, coffee in hand, watching Castiel scroll through a brownie recipe (which does, he notices, involve far too many photographs). They're both in their pajamas, and Cas's hair is wonderfully out of control. His eyes are a little bleary because the coffee hasn't quite kicked in yet.
And suddenly one thing is very clear to Dean, as though a shaft of light has opened up and shone on an undeniable truth: This is my future. Cas is my future. This is all I want, every day, for the rest of my life.
Dean has never been one to worry about the future. He's always lived under the assumption that he probably won't have one—and given how many times he's died by the age of 38, it hasn't been a bad assumption to make. He's always kind of figured he'll be hunting and protecting Sam until the end, but he doesn't give much thought to what form any of that will take. Even when he was with Lisa, pretending to be a normal guy living a normal life, he wasn't truly thinking long-term. He didn't spend any time wondering about their retirement together or Ben's high school graduation. He just takes life as it comes.
So the thought startles him—but it doesn't scare him. Not at all. He doesn't know how long his future is. He still may die on their next hunt. Cas could die on their next hunt. Or they might both live to be ninety years old, grey and wrinkled and passing down lore to the young hunters. It doesn't actually matter how long they have or what else happens in their lives, though. What matters is—Cas.
One thing. Dean for once in his life wants just one thing to anchor his future to. To ground him. Not just wants, though. Has. Castiel is right here, next to him, loving him far more than he loves himself. And not just in this moment, not just for today—whatever happens, even if somehow they stay in this flirty-drifty area forever, Cas will still be with him, and he will still be with Cas. They're done letting heaven and hell pull them apart.
And that's Dean's future. Sitting there next to him, having no idea how Dean's life has just shifted in this moment. He will soon, though.
Dean reaches out and puts his hand on Cas's where it rests lightly on his coffee mug. Cas glances at their hands, then at Dean. It's the most forward either of them has been, but he doesn't look particularly surprised. That'll come soon, too.
Dean smiles for a moment, running his thumb over the back of Cas's hand and looking into his eyes to be sure that what he's about to do is the right thing. It is. This is the most ridiculous thing Dean has ever done, in a very long string of ridiculous things, but it's exactly what he needs to do in this moment.
Castiel does exactly what Dean expected—he squints, tilting his head just a bit, trying to decide if Dean is serious. And god, Dean loves him like nothing he's ever experienced in that moment. He pulls Cas's hand off the table and takes it in both of his, leaning down with his elbows on his knees. He puts Cas's hand to his mouth for a moment, letting his eyes fall closed. It's less a kiss a more a simple touch. He finally looks back up at Cas, massaging his hand.
"I'm serious, Cas. I don't care what happens, I just want it to happen with you. Will you marry me?"
Now Cas looks surprised. But only for a few seconds, before a shy smile spreads over his face as he looks down at their hands.
Now it's Dean's turn to look surprised. In fact, the answer throws him so much that all he can do is laugh at first. He'd honestly been expecting some sort of mini-lecture about how this does not follow the usual courtship rituals for their culture or something.
But he recovers quickly as they gaze at each other, joy and wonder on their faces. This is real. They are doing this. All that drifting and now they're just going to dive off a god damned cliff. It's perfect.
Cas's brow furrows.
"Does this mean we can have sex now? With each other, I mean? Because I've been—"
Dean cuts him off with a kiss. It takes Cas a few seconds to respond, startled as he clearly is, but once he does… damn. Dean is a little pissed at himself for putting this off for so long.
It's a little uncomfortable, kissing while they're both still in their kitchen chairs, facing each other, so Dean does the obvious thing to fix that and climbs onto Cas's lap, straddling him. Cas makes a pleased noise that turns into a low moan when Dean moves his mouth down to suck a mark into his throat.
Things heat up pretty quickly from there, and it's not long before Dean is viscerally reminded that they are both wearing pajama pants that do little to nothing to disguise a growing boner.
"What do you say we move this to somewhere more comfortable?" he pants into Cas's ear, rolling his hips as he speaks. "Like my bed? Heh, our bed."
Cas pulls back, frowning. "Why is your bed our bed now? What about my bed? I don't think this decision should be made unilaterally."
Dean sighs and stands up. "Cas, your mattress is a piece of shit," he says as he pulls Cas up with him. "Mine is memory foam. Although…" Dean slides his arms around Cas's waist, because he can do that now. "We could just fuck on both of 'em and you can judge yourself."
God, he can say shit like that now. And then he can pull Cas in to kiss him more, and slide his hands up under his shirt. He tries to move them back toward the kitchen door, but it's slow going, since neither of them really wants to tone down this makeout session. Yeah, they're gonna get to do this every day for the rest of their lives if they want, but none of those times will be like this. The newness, the awe that this is happening, the anticipation of not knowing what Cas will want or like but getting to figure it out soon—all of that will wear off. The love and the raw want, though… Dean is looking forward to keeping those close.
They've just reached the door, and Cas has him pressed up against the jamb, biting at his neck and grabbing his ass, when—
Of course, Sam chooses that moment to come in and refill his coffee.
Dean always thought he'd be embarrassed to tell Sam about them, whenever it finally happened. But he finds he's… not? Of course this is happening, and he's pretty damn sure Sam would say the same.
"Don't get your panties in a twist, Sammy, we were on our way out."
"We're getting married," Cas adds, and that makes Sam freeze in place at the coffee maker. He turns to them slowly, and Dean makes sure to hide the tent in his pants behind Cas, who thankfully is still facing mostly away from Sam.
"Have… you guys actually been fucking behind my back this whole time? It's not like I would care, jesus, I'm happy for you—"
"Nope, technically haven't fucked even once yet, an oversight I am trying to fix," Dean says quickly, and starts tugging Cas into the hallway. Sam stares after them, shaking his head.
"You better be my best man, Sammy!" Dean calls over his shoulder as he shoves his fiancé ahead of him toward the bedrooms.