When his alarm clock went off at ten on a Saturday morning, Dean almost decided to postpone his plans for today to next week. He was a mess of limbs and sheets and warmth and if his plans weren’t involving Castiel, he would probably have stayed in bed. He slapped violently in the general vicinity of his alarm, trying to hit his snooze button. When he finally reached it and stopped the annoying buzzing sound, he let out a satisfied grunt and slowly opened an eye.
"Life is so cruel sometimes" he mumbled to himself.
He clumsily got out of his bed, eyes still mostly glued together. He reached his window and stretched before completely opening the curtains and rested his head directly on the glass, letting the late morning light wake him. He lost track of time, only getting away from the window when his alarm went off again. He turned around and shut it down for good before putting his pyjama pants on and opening his bedroom door. He made his way to the kitchen and put coffee in his coffee machine. His morning routine was usually simple: a good coffee to wake him up as he read today's newspaper, and then he was off to the bathroom for a quick shower, get dressed, brush his teeth and voilà, he was ready to leave. The whole thing normally took about thirty minutes, but today, he was determined to take all the time he needed to look his absolute best for Castiel.
Dean had spent the entire month of June trying to convince Castiel to go out with him. After leaving his phone number to Cas two weeks ago, he waited several days for him to text or call but it never happened until he intentionally missed one of his usual lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. He sat at the bar every day since he accepted Benny's challenge so it was meant to caught Castiel's attention. He had explained his strategy to Benny when his friend saw him pull out a turkey sandwich from a lunchbox instead of heading out. Benny thought it would never work and was happy to make fun of Dean when their break was over because no one called or texted him. Dean, in return, was happy to make fun of Benny when they ended their shift, showing him a text from an unknown number he received a few minutes before.
From : Unknown. 16:45.
How dare you skip a cheeseburger and a Black-Out Cake? That's a national offense, coming from you.
They've been texting since then and Dean never skipped his lunch at the Cheesecake Factory again.
Dean finished his coffee without opening his newspaper, too busy thinking about all that happened in the last month. He got into the shower whistling a random song, which turned into full on singing after a while. He only shut up when he had to brush his teeth and even then, he kept humming and moving to the beat. He took the time to really do something about his hair and to put perfume on. He shaved and spent about fifteen minutes looking blankly at his closet, wondering what he should wear. When he finally opted for a black t-shirt with a red and blue plaid shirt, it was almost noon. Dean put his shoes on, locked his door and ran down the stairs.
Dean didn’t believe in God. With all the crap happening in the world, with all the crap he’d been through, if there was really someone up there watching over the human race, then that someone was an asshole. He preferred the idea there was nothing rather than the idea there was someone who didn’t give a shit about human pain. So he stopped believing. But despite all that, despite everything, he looked up at the sky and let the sun blind him for a short moment as he sent a short prayer to nothing in particular, asking for his day to be as good as it could be. It had started pretty well; he just needed it to continue that way.
He got into his car and put the key in the ignition, starting his Baby with a roar that sent chills running down his spine.
Yep, this will definitely be a good day, he thought. He turned up the volume and started singing again before backing out of his parking space and swiftly making his way to The Galleria.
The closer he got to the mall, the faster his heart beat. There was something about Castiel. Calling it love would be a really long shot, especially for him, but Dean really enjoyed talking with the guy–as well as looking at him, although that was something he never spent a lot of time thinking about, scared of what he could find lurking underneath. He was starting to feel bad for trying so hard to make the guy fall for him when he knew he would dump him as soon as the deal would be over. However, Dean never liked talking–or thinking, for that matter–about his emotions. Moreover, he had a special relationship with denial, so he did just that whenever these thoughts would came to him.
He found a parking spot near an entrance and hurried inside, going straight to the Cheesecake Factory. Tessa looked at him with surprise in her hazel eyes.
"Look who’s here! I thought you weren’t working on Saturdays" she said with a smile.
"Oh, I’m not. I have something to do."
"Is it involving your new crush?" His friend asked, winking at him.
"He’s not my crush."
Tessa raised an eyebrow and stared at Dean knowingly.
"Dean, do I look like I’m blind?"
"Okay, okay, fine" Dean answered, eyes rolling. "He might be a crush. Why do you care anyway? "
"I don’t know" she said, "I guess us girls love to hear about those kind of things."
"Whatever, I’ll leave you with your rumours and your fantasies. I wanna get there before he does."
"Go get him, tiger" she winked again.
Dean suppressed his smile and made his way to the bar, swaying between tables and waiters, until he reached the back of the restaurant and sat on his usual stool. Charlie smiled at him and finished a drink for a customer before walking towards him. In the past month, he had a lot of occasions to talk to her and she often joined him and Castiel in their conversations when there weren’t a lot of customers. They really got along, and soon he realized she was like his long lost little sister. Dean, however, avoided flirting with Castiel when she was around. He didn’t feel like it would be appropriate, for starters. On top of that, he was starting to think that maybe, Castiel and Charlie were more than just coworkers, hence today’s visit.
"Hi Dean" Charlie welcomed him. "You know Castiel only starts in fifteen minutes, right?"
"Yes, I know. I’m here to talk to you."
"If you’re stuck again in Twilight Princess, I am so not helping you. I know you can figure it out on your own. Hell, kids can."
"No, huh… I’m here for something a lot more serious."
There was a silence as Charlie stared at him, squinting.
"Keep talking" she said.
Dean took a deep breath.
"Oh man, this is gonna be awkward. Okay, here we go. Are you and Castiel, huh… ya know. Together, or something?"
Charlie’s eyes went from suspicious to incredulous in a few blinks. Since she didn’t say a thing, Dean continued talking, fast, being unable to deal with the silence.
"You know I keep trying to ask him on a date and he never says yes, and I’ve heard you guys talk about seeing each other after your shifts and if you guys are together I’ll stop I swear you just seem very close an –"
He was cut off by a resounding laugh and it took him a moment to realize it was coming from Charlie herself.
"What? What did I say?"
Charlie tried to talk, but she was laughing too hard to say anything clear. She had to take a minute or two to calm herself before finally looking at Dean, breathing hard.
"So, you are telling me" she started slowly, "that you think Castiel and I are screwing each other. Is that right?"
"Well… If you get to the basics… I guess, yeah, that’s what I think. I thought he might be interested at first, but seeing you around each other… I’m not sure anymore."
"Dude. I prefer tacos to burritos."
It took several seconds for Dean to assimilate what Charlie had said, but it finally dawned on him.
"Oh. OH. Wow, okay. I didn’t expect that. And… And him?"
"Oh, definitely burritos. You guessed right the first time."
Dean felt hope blooming inside his chest, but it was rapidly buried by incomprehension.
"Then why does he keep pushing me back? I know he likes me."
"It’s… complicated. But I know he likes you. He’s different when you’re around. He comes out of his shell. Just keep pushing; he’ll agree to go out with you eventually."
Dean had to hide the smile that was spreading across his face because Castiel chose that exact moment to come out of the staff room and join Charlie behind the bar. Dean had learned to read the man’s body language, and he knew he didn’t spent so much time in front of his closet for nothing.
"I didn’t expect you today" Castiel said, a radiant smile illuminating his whole face. "What were you guys talking about?"
"I was helping this dumbass with a game he keeps telling he’s the best at. Apparently he needs help the moment he gets to a boss fight" Charlie said, giving Dean a beer and a knowing look. "Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some things to do."
As she passed behind Castiel –who was too busy staring at Dean to notice anything– she looked at him and mouthed silently to DO IT, with her head pointing towards her coworker, making Dean choke on his first sip.
"You okay?" Castiel asked, concern in his voice.
"Yeah, yeah" Dean answered, still recovering. "Don’t mind me."
Charlie put her hand to her mouth to prevent her laugh to come out before she disappeared in the staff room.
"Actually, there is something I’d like to talk to you about" Dean started.
Castiel looked at his friend, his head tilted to one side.
"You look freakishly adorable when you try to understand something, you know that?" Dean said, unable to take his eyes off.
Castiel broke the staring contest they were having, pink colouring his cheeks. "Stop flirting with me." He still had a faint smile though, so Dean didn't take the order too seriously.
"That's exactly what I wanna talk about. Listen, I've been trying to go out with you like a madman for the past month. You're gay and single, I'm gay and single, we enjoy each other's company, I think you're hot, and I think you think I'm not so bad myself. Even Charlie thinks you like me." At these words, Castiel looked up again, exasperation in his blue eyes. He opened his mouth to say something, but Dean cut him off. "Let me finish. I am not asking for your hand here. I don't know why you are so stubborn to keep me away from you, I don't know what you're scared of, but I promise that if you give me one fucking chance" Dean emphasized, "you won't regret it. And I swear, if you don't want to go out again, I will stop asking. Please. Just one night, Cas."
They gazed at each other for what seemed to be minutes. That was something they've been doing since the beginning. Usually, Dean would feel uncomfortable if someone stared at him like that for too long, but apparently, Cas was an exception. Dean suspected Cas would be the exception to a lot of things. As for Castiel, he wasn't the type to stare; he ordinarily was the one to break eye contact, but it was nearly physically impossible for him to stop gawking at Dean. He always got lost in the tropical green of his eyes, in the dusk pink of his lips. He had frequent thoughts about kissing every freckle on Dean's face, to claim them his, forever. He imagined running his hands in Dean's hair, feeling Dean's body flushed against his as they kiss, the hotness of his skin. Dean and Dean and Dean.
Castiel closed his eyes, trying to wrap his mind around the word he's wanted to say the very first time Dean asked him out. "Yes" he said in a whisper, opening them again, looking at the unbearable hope in the man's eyes. "Okay."
Dean's jaw dropped. "Really?"
Castiel smiled at Dean's genuine surprise. "Yes, really. But you keep your promises. If I don't want to go on another date, you don't ask again. Ever."
"I swear! Are you free tomorrow night?"
"Slow down, cowboy. Why so fast?"
"Because I've been planning this for a fucking month, that's why!"
Castiel laughed. "Sorry, but I already have something tomorrow night. It's my brother's birthday. How about next Sunday?"
"Next Sunday it is." Dean took his phone out of his pocket and entered the event in his calendar. "There, you are now in my list of things to do." He winked at Castiel, who couldn't suppress a giggle.
"I'm so not answering that. Now leave me alone, I have work to do."
"Whatever you want" Dean answered. He got up from his stool and started walking away. He turned around to look at Cas, walking backward. "I'll text you the details tomorrow. Say thanks to Charlie for me."
"Thanks for what?" Castiel asked.
But Dean was already strutting to the front of the restaurant, too busy humming Metallica to even realize Cas had talked to him.
Castiel was in a dark room, standing up in the middle of nowhere. Nothing was clear in his mind; the place looked familiar, yet he knew he'd never seen it before. He could walk in the darkness without bumping in anything, only his instinct telling him there was something to bump into in the first place. The only thing he knew for sure was that he felt cold, and terrified. And lonely.
Where in the world... ?
He heard a creak behind him, and before he even turned around, he knew someone was there with him. He knew who was there with him, and he understood all at once why he was so terrified.
"Please, leave me alone" he pleaded. "Please."
The man in front of him didn't say a word. He just stood there, watching Castiel like a hawk.
"Please, Oh God... Don't hurt me."
They both started moving at the same time, like a well choreographed dance, Castiel moving backwards, the shadow moving forward. Castiel kept trying to put distance between him and the other man, always moving backwards for what seemed like an eternity, until his back knocked against a wall. He looked around to see he had reach the far end of the room. There was no escape.
"Please, you don't have to do this. I can do better, I promise. Please..."
The shadow was getting closer and closer, and Castiel couldn't suppress his scream any longer.
"GET AWAY FROM ME!"
He woke up screaming, sheets soaked in sweat. He was breathing hard, one hand on his chest trying to protect himself from an attack that would never come, the other clenched into a fist. Castiel turned his head to look at the clock and realized it was almost four in the morning. He heard footsteps rushing into the passageway and Charlie entered the room, hands tight around a wooden baseball bat.
"What is it?! Cas, you okay?!"
"Yes, I'm fine" he answered breathlessly. "Sorry. I had another nightmare."
Charlie relaxed a bit, looking sadly at her friend. "Same as usual?"
"Yeah. Same as usual."
She put the bat beside the door and sat down at the edge of the bed. "I don't want to intrude or anything but... Since your brother's birthday you seem a little off. I know you have one once every now and then, but you really looked tired at work this week. They are more frequent lately, am I right?"
Castiel didn't answer. He put his weight on his arms and lifted himself up, so he could sit in front of Charlie. "I'm truly sorry. I should've warned you before coming over."
"Don't you dare, Cas. You know I'm here for you, day or night." There was a few seconds of silence. "Would you like to talk about it, maybe?"
Castiel sighed. "It's always the same thing. I'm in this big room and it's dark and I'm freezing and suddenly He is behind me but I can't see his face, but I know it's him, and he gets closer and closer and just before he touches me I start screaming and I wake up. I just... I can't do this, Charlie. I know why they are more frequent. My date with Dean is freaking me out." He finished in a whisper, ashamed of himself.
"Why did you agree on going, then?"
"I kinda like the guy... Maybe he's going to be the one helping me out of this damn nightmare, who knows. It's just that I need way more time and I need to take it slower than most people and I don't think anyone can be patient enough to deal with my crap. No one's willing to go through all this just to be with me. It scares the shit out of me that if I keep saying no, he's gonna walk away, but if I say yes and he sees how messed up I am, he's gonna walk away, too."
"You have it that hard, huh?" Castiel looked up, tears in his eyes. "Come here, big boy."
He moved beside Charlie and she hugged him hard. "You are the greatest person ever. Don't forget that. He's not gonna leave you, okay? Believe me, you're worth it. He's gonna see that, even if you're not ready for more than friendship. Now, you still have four days to calm down before you go out together. You still have two days to engrave in this thick brain of yours that you can do this. I know you can."
They stayed like that for what seemed like hours. Eventually, Charlie let him go.
"Well, I don't think we'll go back to sleep. Want some coffee? I know the storm's over, but we can still enjoy each other's company for a few hours. I only have to leave at ten. Would you like pancakes too?"
"I'd like that, thank you" he answered with a weak smile.
"Great! I'll do that. Take your time, breathe, take a shower, whatever. Just don't cry on my Grumpy Cat pillow. It doesn't help much."
She walked away, leaving Cas alone in the guest room. He looked down at his hands before closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. He knew he could do it, he just needed to breathe. It was one simple date, nothing more. Everything was going to be alright.
The rest of the week went by, punctuated by shadows and dark rooms.
To : Castiel Novak. 11:26
I'm gonna pick you up at 6 at door #2 :)
From : Castiel Novak. 11:31
I can go there by my own, Dean. Thank you.
To : Castiel Novak. 11:33
No you can't. I texted Charlie, you guys were together last night and she told me she's your driver for the day. Be there at 6. ;)
From : Castiel Novak. 11:58
... I hate you both. gtg. See you tonight.
Dean smiled at his phone. Having Charlie on his side was unexpected, but he was grateful for it. He was sitting in his kitchen, drinking his coffee and enjoying his day off. He tried to sleep last night, but his mind kept wandering to Sunday night. He tried to convince himself that he wasn't that much excited about it. It was only a date, right? He's done this so many times, it wasn't a big deal. But Dean had to face the truth when he turned in his bed and saw it was almost three in the morning, and still couldn't sleep. He was more than excited for tonight. His phone suddenly started vibrating in his hand, pulling him out of his daydreams. He smiled when he recognized the number.
"Hey Sammy, how are you?"
"It's Sam. Sammy is a chubby 12 year old. And I'm good, thank you. I wanted to ask you, Jess and I invited Bobby to dinner, wanna come too?"
"Thanks for the invitation, but I already have plans."
"Since when? You never go out on Sundays. Like, ever."
"Hey, I'm a grown ass man and I'm allowed to have fun once every now and then. And I'm not going out, I'm taking someone out, there's a difference."
There was a silence at the other side of the line. It lasted long enough that Dean started to think maybe there was a problem with his or Sam's phone.
"Dude, you still there?" he asked.
"Yeah, yeah. Dean, be nice to that guy okay? I know you want to keep your car, but if he makes you happy, just... Don't be stupid okay?"
Dean froze. He didn't tell Sam about Cas, even less about the bet he had with Benny.
"Come on, man. Benny is my friend too. I'm not as close to him as you are, but still, we talk. Just be nice. Castiel sounds like a nice guy."
"Okay Sammy, I'll be a good girl. Now be one too and go make the dishes before Jess comes back and rip your balls off and eat them for dessert."
"Ha. Ha. Ha. Jerk."
"Bitch. See ya."
Dean hung up, trying to forget what the end of his conversation with Sam woke inside him. Really, he didn't need his inside voice to materialize into his brother. He finished his coffee and stared blankly in front of him, before finally deciding the best way to deal about his unwanted emotions was to simply forget them. He got up, walked to his living room and fired up his Xbox 360.
He played all day, having nothing else to do and nowhere to go. By four in the afternoon, he was pretty confident again about tonight and decided it was time to get ready. He took a long, hot shower, put on tight navy jeans and a black shirt, letting a few buttons open and rolling up the sleeves to his elbows. He also put the necklace Sam gave him when they were young; He was always wearing it, and it soon became his lucky charm. he couldn't get out of his apartment without it. He added a few bracelets and his watch and by 4:45PM he was ready to go. He still had an hour to kill before leaving, but he didn't feel like playing anymore. Dean walked in circles in his living room, wondering what he could possibly do to kill time and stop thinking about his date, and finally decided to get his guitar. Playing music made him feel calm and usually helped him forget his troubles, so this was probably the best solution he had.
He walked to his room and opened his closet door, fetching his guitar before going back to the living room. He sat down on the couch and started playing with the strings, creating random melodies until he eventually began to play one of the songs he knew.
"Oh the summer time has come, and the trees are sweetly blooming, and the wild mountain thyme, grows around the blooming heather..."
He kept playing different songs until, finally, it was time to go. He grabbed his leather jacket and made his way to the mall, still singing under his breath.
Castiel grew more and more anxious as the minutes tick by. He was slightly nervous at 10AM when he started his shift with Charlie. He was anxious at 2PM and he was flat out panicked at 5:30PM. Charlie had to ask one of the servers to take their places for a few minutes as she tried her best to calm Castiel down after he rushed to the staff room when a guy in plaid ordered a whiskey.
"I think I'm gonna throw up" he said in a gravelly voice.
"How sure?" Charlie asked.
"High nineties." He winced and dropped on a chair nearby.
"Crap, okay, let me get you something." Charlie got out of the room and came back less than thirty seconds later with a plastic tub, a glass of water and some mints. "Here. Cas? Castiel! Breathe dude, you're turning purple. Come on, deep breath. Here you go, that's it."
"I can't do this Charlie, I just can't, I'm freaked out now, what do you think I'll look like at the restaurant? I couldn't eat a thing today and he probably expects me to eat tonight, I mean he takes me out for dinner, of course he expects me to eat and what if I can't eat and I throw up andwhatamIgonnadohesprobablyalreadywaitingformehow-"
Castiel was cut off by Charlie's hand slapping him directly on the cheek. He looked at her with wide eyes, feeling the burn on his face. She looked as surprised as him.
"You slapped me!" he exclaimed, outraged.
"I- I'm sorry, but you were talking and talking and talking and not thinking and I said your name three times but you didn't stop so I tried something else." It seemed to work, since Castiel kept staring at her like she popped out of nowhere. "Listen Cas, I know it's hard for you but you need to at least give it a try! I know you, I know you can do this. It's just dinner. He seems like a respectful guy and I'm sure that if you tell him you don't feel like doing this again, he won't insist. And so what if you don't eat? The important thing here is that you two see each other outside of work. Just do your best and be yourself and everything's going to be alright. If shit hits the fan, well, you know I'm never far. Text me or call me, and I'll come pick you up, no matter where you are or what time it is. Just. Calm. Down."
Castiel took a few deep breaths, his face in his hands, the glass of water and the mints discarded on the desk beside him. There was no reason for him to be this freaked out. Dean had been a sweetheart since the beginning and him and Cas were having a blast together. Really, there was nothing to fear. And as Charlie said it, she's never far and Castiel knew she could beat the shit out of Dean if it was necessary, and Cas had a doubt Dean knew it too.
"Thanks Charlie. I feel better now. I'm not great, but instead of being on the verge of a panic attack, I'm just... anxious."
"No problem man, that's what I'm here for. Listen, I gotta go back up front, but I'll tell the boss you were feeling sick. Take your last thirty minutes to breathe and put some colors back in your face."
Charlie hugged him and squeezed his shoulder before leaving Castiel alone. He took another five minutes to steady his breath before getting up and stripping from his uniform. He put on a blue shirt that brought out the color of his eyes and changed his blue and red work tie for a pitch black one matching his pants. He sat down again and spent the next fifteen minutes inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly, eyes closed, hands clasped together. He had to do this.
When he opened his eyes again, it was 5:55PM. He took his bag and exited the staff room, smiled at Charlie who had her two thumbs up in encouragement and made his way to Door Two. He easily spotted the Black 67 Impala parked a few feet away from the entrance and walked towards it. Castiel flinched a bit when he saw Dean get out of the car, but the man froze just long enough for Cas to see how Dean looked at him, and he was satisfied to know that he, too, could provoke something in Dean just by looking at him. Dean recovered quickly though, and circled his car to open the passenger's door.
"Good evening, Cas" Dean said with a blinding smile. "You look absolutely stunning."
"Hello, Dean." Castiel answered, blushing furiously. "Thanks. I could say the same about you."
"Thank you. Ready to go?"
"Sure" Castiel replied with false assurance.
"Then hop in" he said, his smile never leaving his face.
Cas sat in the passenger's seat and Dean closed the door. Really, that guy was too good for him. He made his way back to the other side and joined Cas effortlessly in the car. Dean started the engine and they slowly began to move. Everything in this car was Dean. It smelled like old leather and oil. There was a box full of old tapes at Castiel's feet, and he could read a few ones, seeing Metallica, AC/DC and Bob Seger in the bunch, all groups and artists Castiel knew but never really listened to.
"How was your day? Busy?" Dean asked after a while.
"Not so much, but I had a lot of things to get ready for next week, so it wasn't boring even if we had almost no costumer. You?"
"I didn't do much. I finally beat that crappy boss in Twilight Princess that Charlie didn't want to help me with. Other than that, boring day."
Silence fell again in the car, but it wasn't tense, as Castiel expected it. He looked discreetly at Dean, amazed by how he was comfortable, one hand on the steering wheel, the other lying loosely on his thigh. He seemed to become one with the Impala, like he drove it all his life. The car itself looked like it had been through a lot too. Castiel noticed a rattling sound coming from the ventilation and looked at Dean, about to ask what was doing that noise, but Dean answered his questions before he could ask them.
"This baby here was my father's. When we were young, Sam and I used to try sticking everything we could find in every crack there was. I managed to shove a few legos in the vents and Sam crammed a little army man in the ashtray. We even engraved our initials under the seat. It drove my dad crazy."
Dean smiled, sharing theses moments with Castiel making them even more precious to him.
"Is Sam older or younger than you?"
"Four years younger."
"You seem proud of your brother. Your eyes shine when you talk about him."
"Yeah" Dean said, scratching the back of his head. "I practically raised the kid."
Castiel wanted to ask how Dean ended up being more a parent than a sibling to his brother, but Dean was already parking the Impala in front of the Roadhouse. They both got out of the car and walked to the door, Dean opening it again for Castiel. He stopped once inside, waiting for a waitress or someone to lead them to a table, but Dean took his hand with a wink and pulled him to a table slightly away from the rest of the restaurant. As they sat, a cute little blonde in tight jeans and a black tee spotted them and came to their table, menus in hand.
"Hi Dean! Long time no see. How are you?" she said with a radiant smile.
"I'm great, thanks! Jo, this is Cas. Cas, Jo. Her mother's a family friend. She owns the place."
"Nice to meet you" Castiel said, extending his hand to shake Jo's.
"Nice to meet you too. Here are the menus. Anything to drink, guys?"
"Just a beer for me" Dean said. "Cas?"
"Same thing, please."
"He's polite on top of being gorgeous. Keep that one, Dean. Maybe you'll learn a few things." She winked and turned around. If she noticed Castiel blushing, she didn't say it.
"That's good. She likes you. She usually hates my dates."
"Because you usually bring your dates here?"
Dean looked at Cas with wide eyes, pink quickly reaching his cheeks. "That's not what I meant, I- I don't always bring people here, I mean, it's not like I do that a lot-"
"Dean" Cas said with a huge grin. "I'm messing with you. Stop freaking out."
"I hate you" Dean said, smiling.
"Quite the contrary, I think."
They looked at each other, both surprised by Castiel's words. Dean's smile widened, as Castiel's disappeared slowly. Thankfully, Jo was back with their beers five seconds later and broke the awkwardness creeping into their conversation.
"Just let me know when you guys are ready to order, I'll be at the bar." She was gone again.
Castiel took the menu and made his best to disappear behind it, but find himself incapable of reading it. It took him about two minutes to figure out the first item and decided to take it, because reading the entire menu at that pace would take the whole night. They ordered shortly after and made small talk until Jo finally arrived with their plates. Castiel found out he was starving and didn't felt so sick anymore and took a huge bite of his burger. It was absolutely delicious and he moaned over it before biting into it again. When he looked up, Dean was staring at him, cheeks pink again.
"What?" Castiel asked.
"N-nothing." Dean cleared his throat and grabbed his own burger, shifting on his chair. "So, tell me about you, Castiel."
"What would you like to know?"
"Anything! We've been talking for almost a month and a half and we only talk about our jobs and shitty customers. The only thing I know about you is that your middle name is Dmitri and that Charlie is your best friend. Even then, you didn't tell me, I figured that out by myself. So whatever, what's your favourite color, are you a dog person or a cat person, do you have siblings, anything."
"Green, dog person, yes."
Dean looked at him desperately, probably wondering what the hell was wrong with him, and Castiel couldn't resist laughing.
"Okay, I'll stop messing around, it's not fair. I'm having a great time and it's not right to make it hard on you."
"Asshat" Dean huffed before taking his first bite, making Castiel laugh even more.
"I have three brothers and one sister. I also had another sister, Naomi, but she died when I was five. Balthazar is the oldest, he's 35. Then there's me, followed by Michael who's 27 and lastly, Gabriel who's 23. Hannah is the youngest. She's still in high school. She's studying in Germany right now for a student exchange."
"It must be hard not seeing her for a long period like that."
"Not really. I mean, I do miss her, but the only one I talk to on a weekly basis is Gabriel. I only see the others during the holidays, so I'm kind of used to it. How about you? Anyone besides Sam?"
"Not really. I don't talk to my dad anymore and my mom died when I was four. There's Bobby who's like a father to me, and Ellen, Jo's mother, who took care of Sam and I a lot. I grew up with Jo and she's like my little sister, but none of us are related."
The conversation flowed after that, and they took turns asking questions. Cas knew Dean liked video games but he realized how much he enjoyed it when Dean talked to him about his evergrowing collection. He learned the Impala actually has a name, and that she's a girl in Dean's mind, and that he will forever take care of her like she's a real person. He learned Dean was afraid of flying, and that's why if he can drive to somewhere, even if it takes three days, he will. Dean, in return, learned that Castiel loved books maybe as much as he loved video games. He collected them, and even if he didn't like it, he wouldn't get rid of it, because he believed you leave part of your soul in every story you read. He learned Castiel can't get up in the morning without a glass of orange juice and a coffee. He learned that he's scared of thunderstorms and he prefers spending these moments with someone who can change his mind.
Both of them didn't see the time go by, and Jo had to come up to tell them the restaurant was about to close and they had to get out.
"What? Really?" Dean said, surprised.
"I'd keep feeding you, boys, but the kitchen's closed and we close in about ten minutes." She turned to face Castiel. "If you enjoyed your time so much you can always come back tomorrow morning. There's nothing like a great breakfast after a night with Dean Winchester."
Castiel suddenly felt his anxiety come back all at once and felt the blood leave his face. Dean must have seen it too, because he replied to Jo's comment with a shy "Okay, that's enough. We're leaving."
Soon after, they were sitting in Baby, an awkward silence slowly filling the place left on the seat between them.
"Sorry about Jo" Dean said after a while. "She loves to mess with me but sometimes she doesn't realise she crossed a line."
"It's okay Dean, really. It just took me by surprise." Castiel was maybe a little destabilized by Jo, but he was doing his best to keep his mixed feelings for himself. No way in Hell would he tell Dean what Jo had triggered. He wasn't ready for that much honesty, so the best thing to do was to keep it to himself.
"Shall I take you home?" Dean asked with a sheepish smile.
"That would be best" Castiel answered. "I start at ten tomorrow morning, I need my beauty sleep."
"I bet you do."
Dean's mood shifted fast after that, going back to his charming self again. Castiel gave him a few indications as they talked, trying his hardest to push down the anxiety that was growing stronger at every turn. The worst part wasn't the anxiousness itself : if it was just that, Cas could easily ask Dean to park his car and he could get off and call himself a cab. The problem was that Cas didn't know what he wanted. Dean was great, but was Castiel ready for a new relationship? Could he handle the fact Dean might try to kiss him once he gets home? He couldn't think, his brain stuck in Freak-The-Fuck-Out mode. Luckily enough, Dean was too busy talking about his cassette tape collection to notice how silent Cas was. Ultimately, they reached Castiel's house.
Please don't get out of the car, please don't get out of the car, please don't-
Dean turned off the ignition and opened his door, getting elegantly out of the car.
Castiel opened his door too and slid out, looking everywhere but at Dean who was standing three feet away.
"So..." Dean trailed off. "I had a great time tonight."
Castiel took a deep breath, finally turning to face Dean. "I had a great time too" he smiled.
And cue the awkward silence.
They looked at each other for a while, trying to find into the others eyes what they should say or do next. Dean was the first one to break eye contact, to Castiel's surprise.
"Listen, huh..." Dean looked extremely uncomfortable and kept playing with the last button of his shirt, like he didn't know what to do with his hands. "I really enjoyed our time together."
"You already said that, Dean."
"I know, I know, I suck at this. What I mean to say is that I want to do it again. You're special, Cas, I don't know what's with you but damn, I feel awesome when I'm with you. I... it's just..." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Please go out with me again?"
Castiel opened his mouth, closed it, just to open it again. If his brain was freaking out earlier, now it was in Total-Panic mode, red lights flashing, alarms howling. His stomach curled, and he felt like he was about to throw up again. He put a hand to his mouth, eyes closed, breathing hard.
"Cas, you okay buddy?"
"I'm fine I just.. I'm sorry Dean I can't do this. I really appreciate you, I really do, but I've been through a lot this past year and I don't think I'm ready for all this yet."
"Do... Do you want to talk about it?"
"Just thinking about it makes me wanna throw up so no, I don't want to talk about it, I'm not ready. I just don't want to lose you as a friend because of that. I really do like you." Castiel was feeling worse with every word coming out of his mouth and he closed his eyes again. He felt everything turn and he tottered slightly.
"Whoa, careful there" Dean said, reaching out. "Sit down. Here ya go, take a deep breath. It's gonna be okay. You won't lose me Cas. I promise. I just told you I want to do this again, but it doesn't have to be a date, we can just go out as friends too. Would that be okay for you? I don't want to rush you or anything so if you just want to be alone, tell me and I'll go."
"I'd like that a lot. Going out as friends, I mean."
"Great" Dean smiled. "Next time, you invite me, okay? You'll know when you're ready and I'll wait for your invitation."
"Thank you, Dean."
"Can you get up?"
"Yes, I think I can."
Dean helped Cas up his stairs and stayed behind him as Cas fumbled with his keys, making sure he was alright before stepping aside.
"See you Monday?" Dean said.
"Sure" Castiel answered, a soft smile on his lips.
He closed his door and climbed the stairs slowly going straight for his bed, falling asleep almost instantly, exhausted. He didn't notice the roar of the Impala fifteen minutes later, as Dean finally took off after hesitating long and hard on Castiel's doorstep.