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Without Further Ado

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mamihlapinatapai
ma·me·la·pin·ya·ta·pay
A look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would initiate something that they both desire but which neither wants to begin. (Approximate translation from Yagán.)

··· ✘ ···

Laundry detergent.

The laundromat reeked of the stuff. The moment Dean pushed his way inside, shuffling backwards through the glass door with a sack in his arms, he smiled. “Mm! Smells like a sunny Sunday morning, Sammy.”

“Ew,” Sam said, following Dean, carrying his own sack. He eyed the spilled powder on the linoleum with distaste. “Smells like a flower shop threw up in here.”

“Ain’t that right,” Dean agreed, dumping out his clothes on the floor, right in the spilled powder. He bent, and straightened up with an old jacket in his hands. “Man, I haven’t worn this one in a couple years. I don’t really wear blue much, huh. Besides jeans.”

Sam glanced up, but returned his attention to his own laundry, already sorting items by how much dried monster blood was on each.

“I mean, it still fits,” Dean said, turning the jacket back and forth, then fishing in the pockets in case there was anything inside. “And I don’t hate it.”

“Just wash the thing, Dean,” Sam said, smiling. “You can put on a fashion show later.”

Dean sneered, “Nyeeh,” turning away. He left everything from the pockets on top of a nearby table – a nickel, half a prize ticket from an arcade in Arkansas, a cap from a lost pen, and a well-folded piece of notepaper, all battered around the sides from years in the forgotten pocket.

He packed all his cotton darks into one machine, all his delicates in another, and stuffed everything white in with Sam’s plaid, since those shirts had been washed so often that there was zero chance of a colour bleed.

And then he leaned back against the table, fiddling with the folded paper. He tapped it on his palm a few times. Then, curious, he unfolded it, a small wrinkle between his brows. Once he’d flattened the paper in his hands, he chuckled. “Wow.”

“What is it?”

Dean bit his lip, not looking up. “Nothin’. Just. Somethin’ stupid I wrote down once.”

Reasons not to be with Cas, it read, as a headline.

1. Dad wouldn’t like it

“Dad’s gone, kid,” Dean muttered, too quiet for Sam to hear. At the point Dean wrote this note, John had to have been dead for, what... four, five, maybe even six years? Past-Dean still had some healing to do, clearly. “Besides,” Dean added, “Mom would be fine with it. She loves Cas.”

2. Untrustworthy enemy angel

“Best friend,” Dean corrected. He inhaled, looking over at his brother. “Hey, Sammy, you got a pen?”

Sam patted his chest with both hands, then his hips, then set one hand in his back pocket and one on his chest again, then exclaimed, “Ah,” and pulled out a stolen motel pen from his shirt. He handed it over, looking interestedly at Dean’s note. “What’s that?”

“Hey, get lost,” Dean huffed, angling the paper away from Sam.

“Pff,” Sam said, leaving Dean alone.

Dean stepped forward and rested the paper against the curved metal front of a dormant dryer. He ran a line through the first two reasons, as they were thoroughly defunct.

3. Not into guys

Dean chuckled aloud, and crossed it out immediately. “That one’s just a straight-up lie,” he said, shaking his head. And irrelevant, too, since Cas wasn’t even a guy. Guy-shaped, maybe, but as an angel, Cas was definitely not a man.

4. Jimmy

The line Dean drew sliced over the ‘i’, hiding the dot on top. Jimmy was as dead and gone as John. The concern for Castiel’s human vessel had been valid at the time Dean wrote this list, but no longer. It was all Cas in that body, and Cas could consent to whatever he liked.

Dean blinked a couple of times, looking at the list. Every reason past-Dean wrote down was now crossed out.

Did that mean...?

Did that mean there was no reason not to be with Cas any more?

Dean stared with his lips slowly parting. “Huh.”

He lowered the list, still staring.

He floated over to Sam. “Hey, Sammy?”

“Yeah?”

Dean looked up, meeting his brother’s eyes. He handed him the list.

Sam read it. His eyebrows rose.

Dean inhaled, uncertain. “What the hell do I do now?”

Sam looked back at him, stunned. “What—” He shook his head. “What do you want to do?”

Dean glanced away. He huffed. “God knows.”

“Are there any current reasons why not?” Sam asked, handing Dean back his list. “Or any reason he’s been holding back?”

Dean pondered. “I don’t know.” He frowned, scratching a hot itch on his forehead with the blunt end of Sam’s pen. “I just have a lot of questions, maybe.”

“What kind of questions?”

Dean tucked his lower lip under the tip of his tongue. He drifted apart from Sam again, going to rest his elbows on a preparation table, legs twisted and stretched behind him so his torso hung low to the surface. He breathed out, and began to write.

··· ✘ ···

The purr of the Impala’s engine hit the exact note and vibrated at the exact frequency which could do one of two things: it could wake Dean from a stupor, get him revved up when he was low on energy – or it could send him to sleep, lulling him into unconsciousness and a place of inner peace. Her thrum was meditative. She helped him think.

He had a lot to think about. But he couldn’t think about it.

He simply acted.

Breathing in, he looked to his right, where Castiel sat in the passenger seat, leafing through the case notes and photos Rowena had sent. Dean and Cas had some time before they met with her and the others.

The car was... private. Safe. Dean could talk about anything in here.

So he asked.

“Cas, do you love me?”

Castiel glanced over, alarmed – but then his eyes softened, and Dean saw a smile in them, shining with the sunlight. “Of course.”

Dean nodded, turning back to the road. “That’s what I thought.”

Castiel took a breath, paused, then asked, “Is that all? Or was there something else?”

Dean smirked, tilting his head, watching the road slip away under them in white stripes and long stretches of grey. “Are you in love?”

He looked across again, wanting to see Castiel think about it. But Castiel didn’t think. He just said, simply, “Yes.”

“Oh.” Dean blinked, staring at the road, not really seeing it. He smiled. He chuckled, and he shook his head, gazing amusedly out of his side window, squinting into the sun. “Guess that tracks.”

“Was there anything else?” Castiel asked again.

“You fishing for somethin’, buddy?” Dean smiled.

Castiel met his eyes, smiling too. “What might I be ‘fishing’ for, exactly?”

Dean grinned, reaching to bat his arm. “That’s all, Cas. At least for now.”

Castiel was still and quiet for a little while, and Dean didn’t look at him. He waited for Cas to return to his paper-rummaging, and when he did, Dean let his shoulders drop, and he exhaled. He smiled, and drove on.

··· ✘ ···

Silence hugged the library’s inner sanctum, and save for the occasional, distant cough, the quiet felt like fluff in Dean’s ears. He took a breath, and his nose whistled. He exhaled, and the air rasped in his throat.

He waited until Charlie got up from the study table and moved a few aisles down to fetch another book. Then Dean swallowed, and reached over the table to touch Castiel’s coat sleeve.

Castiel’s gaze met Dean’s, and Dean smiled. “Would you ever want kids?”

Castiel’s lips parted. “In the library? Only if they’re quiet. We have a lot of research to do.”

Dean’s grin emerged lopsided. “Naw, I mean—” He gestured forward with a rotating finger. “Sometime in the future.”

“You and me?” Castiel’s eyebrows rose.

“Yeah.”

“Oh.” Castiel looked down, then pursed his lips thoughtfully.

“Pity we can’t breed genetically, huh,” Dean uttered, with a wonky smile, eyes wandering. “‘Cause, I mean – no offence, Cas – you are hot as hell. Forget Dr. Sexy and his cowboy boots. Scale of one to ten, buddy, you’re like, a fifteen. And I’m—” he shrugged, “whatever. We’d make cute kids.”

Castiel wet his lips, smiling at the compliment, before reminding Dean, “We already have Claire, and Jack. They might not be blood but they’re family. Young, impressionable.”

“Yeah, but,” Dean double-checked Charlie was still gone, then continued, “You ever think about babies? Raising them. Hands-on. Diapers and pre-school, that kind of thing.”

Castiel huffed, smiling with his mouth open. “No,” he said truthfully. “No, that’s not really something I’ve considered. I imagine we have enough people to worry about.”

Dean’s eyebrows jumped. “Yeah,” he uttered. “Yeah, that’s true.”

“If circumstances were different,” Castiel went on. He held Dean’s eyes softly, placatingly. “If the world changed irrevocably for the better. Then I would not say no.”

Dean sat back, drawing a breath as Charlie approached.

“What are you two smiling about?” Charlie asked, tying her hoodie sleeves around her waist before she took her seat again.

Dean flicked his eyes to Cas. They shared a smirk, then Dean shrugged for Charlie’s sake. “The chair made a fart noise.”

Castiel rolled his eyes, returning to his book. He looked a little bothered. Dean watched him for a while, then carried on reading too.

First step to changing the world irrevocably for the better: education.

··· ✘ ···

“OW! DEAN!”

“Heyheyhey, it’s okay,” Dean soothed, stroking a hand down Castiel’s bare bicep. “It’s okay, I’m almost done.”

Castiel growled, clutching Dean’s pillow to his face as Dean dressed his wound with gauze.

“Just lie there and think of Hell,” Dean joked, as he tied off the bandage. “Not like Heaven’s any better, with no more angels.”

Castiel snorted. He took a moment to recover, then accepted Dean’s help to sit up.

They rested together with their legs dangling from the side of Dean’s bed, bare feet on the marble. Dean took Castiel’s hand and held it, palms together, fingers cupping each other.

Exhaling through narrowed lips, Castiel readjusted to having bandages all the way around his shoulder.

“How’s it feel?” Dean asked.

Castiel grunted.

“Good enough.” Dean patted Castiel’s thigh. Warm and hairy and muscular. Nice.

“This is so uncomfortable,” Castiel said testily. “I can’t believe people just have to wait for things to get better. Humans are so flawed.”

“Yeah,” Dean smiled, giving Cas’s hand another squeeze. “Not perfect, I know. But we find ways to deal.”

“Are you going to offer me drugs?” Castiel asked hopefully.

Dean grinned. “You want some? We can do that. Recommended dosage is two pills for an adult. No way you’re downing the whole bottle this time.”

A derisive scoff escaped Castiel mouth, eyes slanted in pain and frustration.

Dean bit his lower lip. “There’s better ways to deal.”

“Like?”

“Well...” Dean swallowed. “Hugs, not drugs, right? Do you— D’you like cuddling?”

Castiel looked at him blankly. “Cuddling.”

“Yeah. Big spoon, little spoon? Bed? Couch? Arms around—? No?”

Castiel shook his head. “I have no opinion.”

Dean scrunched his lips to the side. “Hm.”

Castiel tilted his head. “I could better answer your question if I had a frame of reference. An example.”

Dean met his eyes. Then he chuckled, nodding, chin to his chest. “Alright.” He got up and went to his bedroom door, pushing it closed. “Lie down. Let’s, uh... give you that example. So at least you know what the heck I’m talkin’ about.”

Castiel smiled, and Dean smiled.

Once they’d lain down together, they adjusted themselves under Dean’s blanket until they were comfortable. Castiel grunted in pain a few times, but eventually sighed, and remained still.

Face-to-face.

Dean’s hands interlocked behind Castiel’s neck.

Castiel’s palms on Dean’s waist.

Castiel breathed out slowly, and shut his eyes.

Dean watched him relax, and his own smile faded. He didn’t need to smile; all the contentment in the world filled out his insides until he was nothing but warm and thankful and entirely at ease.

“So, do you like cuddling now?” Dean asked.

“Is it important to you?” Castiel asked back, eyes shut but one eyebrow rising.

Dean gulped, shifting a shoulder in a shrug. “Actually? Yeah.”

Castiel peeked between his lashes, meeting Dean’s eyes with adoration gleaming in his own. “I love cuddling.”

“Are you just saying that because you think that’s what I wanna hear, or do you mean it?”

Castiel squirmed closer, pressing his warm front to Dean, wrapping his injured arm all the way around Dean’s back, nuzzling his face against Dean’s throat, and finally breathing out his entire lungful of air. “I love cuddling.”

Dean shut his eyes, thoroughly pleased. “Me too,” he whispered.

“Will we do this tomorrow night, too?”

Dean let out a startled huff, grinning as he turned his head away. “Uh. I mean, if you’re still hurting this bad, sure.”

“So... this is just for tonight.”

“Yeah, Cas, what’d you think it was?” Dean looked at Castiel unsurely, the aches of longing tumbling through his insides. “Heyyy, why’d you look so sad, dude?”

“It’s nothing,” Castiel said, burying his face against Dean’s shoulder. “Shut up and cuddle me, Dean.”

Dean raised his eyebrows, but hugged Cas a little tighter. “I didn’t mean to hurt you, Cas. You know that, right? Whatever I did, I didn’t mean it that way.”

“I know,” Castiel whispered, nuzzling softly. “You never do.”

This wasn’t the time to pry. Dean let go of a long breath, shutting his eyes, holding Cas as near as he could. Whatever was wrong, he hoped it would heal in time, like any wound.

··· ✘ ···

Dean’s blade slashed through the air in deadly figures-of-eight, taking out vamps two at a time. Blood splattered across the parking lot, droplets rebounding off Dean’s shiniest black shoes.

“Cas, your left—” Dean shouted, elbowing Cas in the side. “Cover my back.”

They turned together, back to back – and Dean let his blade fly free, thunking straight through a vampire’s eyeball, downing the creature in a second. Dean ran forward, pulling the blade out with the eyeball attached, while Castiel came after, spinning an axe over his hand. “Step back,” Castiel commanded, and Dean obeyed, turning his face away as Castiel beheaded the vampire.

Dean looked around quickly, eyes sharp, examining the darkness beyond this orange gloom. The streetlight overhead illuminated pools of brown blood, which slowly formed a river, heading for a storm drain.

As his heartbeat began to settle, Dean shucked his knife in his hand, holding it more loosely, blade down. He nodded to Cas. “Parking lot’s clear. We got ‘em all.”

Castiel went to pat Dean on the shoulder, but refrained. He looked at his bloody hand, glanced at Dean, and smiled. “Don’t want to ruin your suit.”

Dean scoffed, looking at his fancy theatre dress-up. The starched white shirt was speckled with blood, and he shrugged. “At least we both made it. I knew a stage production of Twilight was just askin’ for trouble.”

Castiel wiped his bloody palm on his coat, leaving a handprint.

“Hey, Cas?” Dean asked, tentatively.

“Yeah?” Castiel bent down, dragging a body by the ankle to pile up next to another one.

Dean gulped. “Maybe this is a stupid question. I know we’ve been best friends for years. But, like...”

Castiel straightened with a sigh, his eyes tinted amber by the light from above. A soft breeze tickled past, lifting mussed hair from his forehead, showing his whole face. He looked beautiful, and elegant, and even the blood splatter in his stubble was a good look.

Dean managed a smile, shrugging both shoulders. “Would you ever betray me again? Go darkside? Try and kill me, sell me out – that kind of thing?”

Castiel held his eyes, and shook his head, a dent between his brows. “Not willingly.”

“So – we’re BFFs,” Dean said, punching Castiel’s arm.

“Mary told me what that meant,” Castiel said, eyes rising. “Best—? Best Friends Forever.”

“Yeah.”

“Our bond is eternal.”

Dean blushed, ducking his head. “Eternal, huh? Sounds a little more permanent than ‘forever’.”

“Beyond death,” Castiel assured him, bending to shift a third body. “And whatever comes after.”

“Cool.” Dean nodded, going to fetch the fourth headless corpse. “Think they have vampires in the afterlife?”

“Why?”

Dean shrugged. “Kinda fun, is all. Ganking things with you.”

Castiel chuckled, his gaze tender when he lifted his head. “I like ganking things with you too, Dean.”

Beaming, Dean went around gathering up all the dripping vampire heads, then dumped them and wiped his sticky hands together. “I’ll call Bobby and ask him to bring a truck. No way I’m letting this mess ride in my Baby.”

“Ask Bobby to bring a hose, also,” Castiel suggested. “There’s a fire truck on standby somewhere. Jack will know where.”

“Ha,” Dean grinned. “See! That’s why I love you, Cas – one reason of many. Always on top of everything.”

Castiel’s eyes flicked to Dean, and he smiled. “You love me?”

Dean realised what he’d said, and chilled with shock. But he let go of a breath, bowed his head, and nodded. “With everything I’ve got, Cas.” He lifted his eyes to meet Castiel’s.

Castiel stared. Like he was waiting for Dean to say more.

Dean glanced around. “What?”

Castiel realised the sentimental part of their interaction was done, so he turned away, shrugging, his smile gone. “Let’s get back to work.”

··· ✘ ···

Seagulls screeched around their boots, little webbed orange feet pattering on the dirty sand. Dean and Castiel sat on a wall between the seaside town and the sea, with crumpled paper spread between their laps, oily from a double-serving of thick-cut fries.

Dean bit a fry, dipped the second half in ketchup, then ate that. Then gave an entire second fry to the birds.

“You know those aren’t nutritionally viable for a sea bird,” Castiel remarked.

“Fat birds are cute,” Dean smirked. But he decided not to throw any more fries.

He swallowed his mouthful, then leaned back in the sun, exhaling deeply, watching the blue line of the waves caress the shore. Then he turned to watch Cas.

Castiel kept eating, licking salt from his lips, sucking ketchup from the back of his hand, placing his thumb in his mouth and slowly withdrawing it. The sight sent shocks through Dean’s body, electrified for unexpected moments. His arousal soon settled, but his curiosity burned deeper.

Dean tilted his head. “Hey.”

Castiel hummed questioningly.

“Would you ever have sex with me?”

Castiel barely glanced at Dean, instead opting to watch the sea, eyes squinting against the sun. He pressed his lips together, smiling as he cocked his head briefly. “I’ve thought about it.”

“Yeah?” Dean grinned.

“Yeah.” Castiel took another fry and dipped it in ketchup.

“And?” Dean nudged Castiel’s thigh with his own. “Conclusions?”

“If you asked.” Castiel met Dean’s eyes, giving him a kind, considerate look. “I would not say no.”

Dean nodded slowly, mulling that over. “Okay...” He pursed his lips and nodded again. Then he hummed. “You said that before, you ‘wouldn’t say no’. But – you don’t actually want to, though,” Dean wondered. “You don’t... actively want me.”

“It’s not that, exactly,” Castiel said, squinting at nothing as he wiped his fingers on Dean’s paper napkin. “I just...” He looked back. “I follow your lead. Always.”

“So you want me to make the first move?”

Castiel said nothing, only parted his lips with the very tip of his tongue, then looked away.

As the seagulls realised there’d be no more food, they wandered off, chasing each other and strutting around like they owned the place. Dean observed them for a while, then returned his attention to Cas.

“Do you like being on top?” Dean asked.

Castiel squinted at him. “In life?”

“In bed.”

Castiel smirked, averting his gaze. “I’d follow your lead.”

“In— In a – submissive kinda way?”

“In an inexperienced, I-would-rather-you-be-happy kind of way,” Castiel explained.

Dean drew a deep breath, straightening up his torso, chin rising. “But what do you want?”

Castiel seemed bothered now, sighing carelessly. “Dean, are you currently propositioning me?”

Dean shrugged. “No. I’m just asking.”

“Then it doesn’t matter, does it?” Castiel set his jaw and looked far away.

Dean caught the bitterness and upset in those few words and gestures. He sighed, eyes rising to the clear, blue sky. Someone was flying a kite up there.

The seagulls screeched, and the sea gushed, and Dean breathed, but he and Castiel said nothing else.

··· ✘ ···

Dean gave up on trying to sleep.

He threw the covers back, and grumbled barefoot all the way to the bunker’s kitchen.

Cas stood by the fridge, eating leftover takeout with stained chopsticks, dark fatigue circles obvious under his eyes.

Dean eased him aside, reaching into the fridge to get the other takeout container. There were no clean chopsticks, so he got a fork, and stood by Castiel, shoulder to shoulder.

“Why haven’t we kissed?” Dean asked.

Castiel frowned.

“Don’t get pissy, Cas, I just want to know. I’ve known you ten years and we’ve never even gotten close to making out. Not even a cheek kiss. You’re in love with me. You’ve died for me. You gave up armies for me. You fell for me, you killed for me, you ran away for a year in Purgatory to keep me safe. You keep coming back to me. Over and over and over—” Dean dropped his shrimp back into the box of noodles, too frustrated to eat. “Why haven’t we kissed, Cas. Just tell me.”

Castiel thumped his takeout container onto a metal table, turning to glare at Dean. “Why haven’t you kissed me? Give me one good reason why not.”

“Oh, do you want a list?” Dean offered. “‘Cause I have a list.”

Castiel snarled, turning away. “I’m going to bed.”

“What? I’m serious, Cas,” Dean called after him. “Been carrying that bit of paper around for ten fuckin’ years.”

Castiel was gone. Dean heard a door slam.

Dean sighed, slumping down against the kitchen counter. He picked up his noodles, and began to eat them, despair consuming him further with every mouthful.

··· ✘ ···

Seventeen miles from shelter, the rain started.

It was just a damp wash, to begin with. A simple grey mist, a cool touch on Dean’s cheeks. But as they walked, and the dusk cloaked the sky above the clouds, gloom morphed into darkness and the rain turned cold and lashing, creeping under collars and crawling up the insides of Dean’s sleeves.

Dean and Castiel carried on, walking beside the road. There were lights up ahead, and Dean could hear bass from a car radio. The sound was smothered by the hush and gush and spitting of falling rain, gurgling past the roadside in a tiny river, sliding in a layer across the tarmac like a mirror on the move. Water spat up around Dean’s boots, flung forward with every step he took.

Castiel called from behind, “We can take shelter over there.”

Dean looked back, making out the shape of Castiel pointing. Dean checked in that direction, and spotted a big tree atop a hill. He nodded. “Alright!” he called back. “Just until the rain stops!”

They hopped the ditch, Dean flailing on the edge until Cas grabbed his wrist. Together they pushed through the undergrowth, heading away from the campers who had set up their van for the night. Their music carried on, but only the lowest notes and the faintest part of the melody reached Dean and Cas.

Dean was grunting and panting as they reached the tree, having high-stepped through more overgrown grass than he’d anticipated. He rested his shoulder on the huge, rough trunk, breathing out, shutting his eyes.

It was no less wet under the tree. It provided darkness, and a more comforting silence, but the water collected on its leaves and dripped in massive drops to the ground, splashing Dean’s ear, then his shoulder, and the rebounding mini-drips were startling and cold. He gave a huff of complaint, stepping away from the trunk.

“Where do you think Donna and Jody are?” Castiel asked, standing at the edge of their shelter, looking out into the blue world. The only light came from the camp: two squares of yellow, some distance away.

“They’ll be along eventually,” Dean said. “They’ll drive up and down a few times once they realise they’re in the right place. Garth gave them the coordinates before we left.”

Castiel put his hands in his trenchcoat pockets.

Dean wandered forward, going to stand beside Cas. He reached up, pushing Cas’ wet hair off his face, combing it between his fingers to make it stand up again.

“Dean,” Castiel said in annoyance.

Dean withdrew his hand. He stuck it in his pocket, sulking.

Castiel sighed, bowing his head. “We can’t go on like this, Dean.”

“Like what,” Dean spat, as if he didn’t know. For the past month they’d slid between comfortably intimate moments of silence and touch, to outright shouting matches, slammed doors, one time with Mary acting as mediator because they both refused to acknowledge that fighting over a bowl of spaghetti was immature.

“Why are you doing this,” Castiel said, asking but not asking. “Why are you baiting me with questions about what it could be like, what you’ve thought about, what you want, but then—”

“Then?” Dean prompted.

“Then you don’t follow through,” Castiel said flatly. “I don’t even understand why we’re still having this conversation. It’s not like we’re both unaware of the other’s feelings. You know how I feel. You know how you feel. What I want, Dean, is to move forward.”

Dean swallowed. In his pocket, his hand closed around an old piece of paper, warm from his thigh and damp from the rain.

Castiel turned to Dean, faint light from the campervan reflected in both eyes. The rest of him was only a shadow. “You want answers, Dean?” he asked. “I’ll tell you my answers. I want a family with you, but I’m afraid to lose anyone I love after losing you so many times. I want to be your best friend, forever. Until time runs out. Until the universe collapses in on itself, goes dormant, and then begins again. I want to lie with you, in your arms, and kiss you, and hold you, Dean. I want that. And I want to touch you whatever way you ask to be touched. If you want me to submit, I will submit. If you want me to bind you in satin and have me read you poetry, I will. If you simply want to lie naked and aroused and do nothing, I will want that, too. I just want you to be happy, Dean. That’s all. Making that happen—” Castiel’s voice broke, fragile as he forced out, “Making that happen would make me more content than anything I can even imagine.”

Dean looked away, teeth gritted, nostrils flared. His heart ached with the weight of those words, tied up with fury, and anguish, and despair. If Cas wanted all that, and knew Dean wanted it too, why didn’t he take it already? What the hell was he waiting for Dean to say on the matter? What was keeping Cas from making the first move, exactly? Why didn’t Cas get that Dean wanted to be taken in his arms and kissed? He’d all but begged for it.

Dean shook his head. Maybe it was simple. Maybe he should’ve begun with an easy question, right at the start.

“Cas,” he said, defeated. “I gotta ask you a question.”

“Anything,” Castiel uttered darkly. “What’s one more, after all?”

Dean rubbed his mouth, then sighed, unsure if the drip on his cheek was a tear of a raindrop. “Is— Is there someone else? Will there ever be anyone else? Or... has there ever been anyone else for you. Ever. Truly, I mean, not in passing.” He looked at Castiel, standing tall and bold. “Because – there ain’t for me.” He exhaled, mouth trembling, words thick. “You’re it for me, Cas. The one, or whatever. And I swear to God, Cas, if you say yes right now, I don’t—”

“Dean?” Castiel rushed to Dean, taking both his shoulders, gazing into his eyes from inches away. “Dean.”

“What,” Dean said.

“There’s nobody else,” Castiel whispered, apparently on the verge of laughter. “There never has been. Dean, after everything, why the fuck would you think that?”

Dean bowed his head in relief, shaking on Castiel’s shoulder. He sniffed, forcing away tears. “Just— I don’t know— I don’t know, the— I have no clue what else you want me to say to you, Cas. We keep goin’ in this stupid circle and I want out. I want out.”

He stepped back, brushing a tickle from his own burning cheek.

“There’s no reason,” Dean said, “to any of this.”

He gulped, then went on, more calmly, “There’s no reasons left. No excuses. There’s nothing keeping us from being together in my books, Cas. There’s no reason for me to resist, or to tell myself that this is not a good idea. So,” he sighed, “it’s up to you, now. Ask me. Ask me whatever questions you need. I’ll tell you whatever you want to know until you’re sure I’m the one you wanna spend eternity with.”

“Dean,” Castiel sighed. “I don’t have questions.”

“There’s gotta be something! Anything! Am I looking to get married someday? Am I scared of commitment? Did that ‘bind me in satin and read me poetry’ thing sound like an awesome night to me? Am I a bed-hogger? Do I keep gift receipts? Do I snore?”

“You snore,” Castiel muttered.

“Ask me!”

“I don’t need to.” Castiel placed his hand on Dean’s chest to keep him from babbling on. “Dean, there’s nothing that will sway me. I can’t imagine why you think answers to trivial questions like that would change anything between us.”

Dean threw his head back. “God— I know, I know,” he admitted in a sigh, chin dropping to his chest. “I knew before I even asked the first question. Nothing was gonna make me change my mind.”

“Then why ask?”

Dean shrugged. “Just – letting that scared little kid inside me know it’s all right.” He swallowed, then explained, “I crossed those old excuses off the list the day I found it, but they were there for a reason, you know? Dad’s long-gone, but I still worry what he’d think if he saw the person I’ve become. You’re my best friend and I trust you with my life, but I’ve trusted so many people and been burned before, and it’s so goddamn hard to let that go. I know who I am now, and what I like, and who I like – but I still can’t show up out ‘n proud a whole lot of the time. And Jimmy— God, poor Jimmy. I needed to know you wanted this, Cas. Wanted me. And I’m allowed to want you back without hurting someone else.”

“You were... being serious about that list,” Castiel realised.

With a grim smile, Dean pulled the list from his pocket, a stark navy square against a background of blackness. A big wet raindrop splashed directly onto the paper. “I crossed out every reason not to do this. And wrote out questions. Every one of your answers was a reason to do this.”

“And yet you haven’t. Why?”

“Because...” Dean’s breath shuddered. “Because I have one more question.” He put the list back in his pocket.

He stepped up to Castiel, and lay his hand against his chest. He felt a heartbeat.

Don’t think, Dean told himself. Just act. No matter the pros or cons, this was what he’d wanted for an embarrassing number of years. It seemed obvious to him that it was going to happen eventually; it may as well be now.

“Cas,” he said.

“Yes, Dean?” Castiel asked. His hands touched Dean’s waist, cold hands warming under the open sides of his jacket.

Dean sucked his lower lip, then released it, voice deep and aching in his throat as he asked, “Can you kiss me now?”

Castiel chuckled in surprise. He breathed out, then smiled. “Yes.” He leaned in, holding Dean’s cheek, and touched him with rain-wet lips, chilled skin pressing into Dean’s blush.

Dean sighed, tilting his head, opening his mouth.

He’d expected fireworks. Or relief. Or a surge of joy.

But...? Kissing Cas... somehow, it turned out...

He got all three. Once the silence of shock passed, it hit him – boom! – this was the best kiss of his life. Because it was Cas. Cas was his best friend. Cas was his best friend forever, and they were kissing. In the rain, in the dark, answering a question that had gone unanswered for a decade. That made it perfect.

This was perfect.

Weak-kneed, Dean gasped into Cas’ mouth; he let Cas pull him in by the small of his back as Dean clung to his shoulders. They pushed deeply against each other, mouths touching completely; Dean whimpered, and grunted, then grinned as he lifted away to turn his head, initiating a second kiss. They nestled into each other’s faces, humming, tongues slick together, exhaling hot air between their parting lips.

Dean fell away clumsily, laughing, wiping spittle from his cheek. “Shit,” he whispered.

Castiel’s full, toothy smile was faintly visible in the dark.

“Real good answer, Cas,” Dean teased, stepping back into Castiel’s warmth.

“It was a good question,” Castiel replied.

They kissed again, nosing together, humming random notes. Dean giggled, headbutting Cas as he hid his face against his neck, icy nose on Cas’ searing-hot throat.

“Ah,” Castiel complained. “Cold.”

“Dunno about you, but my heart’s warmed all the way up,” Dean smiled.

“Yeah,” Castiel murmured, kissing Dean’s cheek twice. “Just your nose that’s frozen over.”

“Heh.” Dean nuzzled against Castiel, making him squirm and laugh, but remain huggable so Dean could share his heat. “Cold nose is a problem I know how to fix,” he said. “Huddle for warmth.”

So, for a while, they contemplated, while hugging each other tight. Dean smiled the whole time.

And then Cas asked, “Dean, are you happy?”

Dean smiled wider. “Yeah. Really-really.”

Castiel smiled. He lowered his face just a little, kissing Dean’s cheek. “Then I’m happy too.”

··· ✘ ···




Reasons not to be with Dean

1. Jimmy
2. Dean’s not attracted to male vessels
3. He hasn’t shown me he loves me
4. He hasn’t said aloud that he loves me
5. It’s been ten years and he’s still too afraid to ask

Reasons to be with Dean
1. He asked

{ the end }