Saturday. Leather jacket, plaid shirt, bright smile. You looked like you were having a lot of fun with your friends at the park. Nice car by the way.
Dean blinks down at the newspaper Charlie has pushed into his hands with so much excitement she can barely keep herself from jumping around.
“It’s about you!” Charlie declares, clapping her hands together. “You have a secret admirer.”
“I don’t.” Dean pushes the newspaper back to her, going back to his studying. With midterms around the corner he doesn’t have time to waste on a message on the school newspaper that may or may not be about him. And Dean is, like, 99.8% sure the message is not about him anyway (not 100% because his Impala is a damn nice car. She is a beauty, thank you very much).
Sure, Dean was at the park on Saturday with Charlie and Benny but so was half the campus. This could be about anyone.
Charlie pouts at him from across the coffee table they have commandeered for their study session today. She has spent the last two semesters poring over the ISawYou column every day diligently in the hopes of finding a message about her, or at the very least about one of her friends. Charlie lives and breathes for drama, and what better drama than a secret admirer that chooses such a public platform to declare their interest. Dean is not going to play along with her illusions just because it’ll make good gossip.
The message is not about him, because he says so, and that’s that. He taps his pen on her textbook, showing her exactly what she should be doing right now instead of daydreaming, then he follows his own advice and buries himself in numbers and equations again.
At the library. That purple shirt makes your eyes look extra green.
Surprisingly, it’s Benny that discovers the second message.
Dean returns to his dorm from his last exam, bag hanging from one shoulder, more than ready to kick back with his roommate and two extra large pepperoni pizzas. Cold beers, good food and good company is all he needs tonight. Instead, what he gets is a phone shoved in his face and Benny’s evil smirk.
“Look what I found,” his roommate says, biting back a laugh.
Dean rolls his eyes. “Hey, Benny. Nice to see you, too, man. Yeah, my last exam was fine, I think I did pretty good, actually. How was your day?”
“This is more important than midterms, brother.” Benny shakes the phone in front of Dean’s face, threatening to hit him on the nose with it.
“Alright, alright. Calm down. Show me what you got.”
Dean reads the message.
Then he reads it one more time.
“Okay, first of all how is this more important than midterms?” he asks, still staring at the website of the school’s newspaper.
“Love,” Benny says, bringing a hand over his heart and fluttering his eyelashes, “is more important than everything.”
Dean shakes his head, but he has to fight back a chuckle at his friend’s antics.”Right.”
“What’s your second objection.”
“How can you be so sure this is about me?”
“Like you haven’t been living in the library for the last week. Only Charlie dragging you to Starbucks for more studying could get you out of there,” Benny says, laughing. He raises a finger to stop Dean’s objections before they are even out of his mouth. “And I saw you wearing a purple shirt yesterday.”
Dean flashes him a grin. “It’s plum,” he answers cheekily, then pushes past Benny and further into their dorm room. He drops his bag on his bed and starts taking his shoes off, ignoring Benny who follows him and comes to stand next to him.
“You say tomato…”
“Look, Benny. I don’t think I can be your friend if you think purple and plum are the same color,” Dean sighs, his socks following his shoes on a small pile on the floor.
“Purple shirt and green eyes?” Benny is clearly ignoring Dean. “And at the library? And barely a week and a half after the first message.”
“It’s not about me,” Dean insists, throwing his hands in the air. “Can a message sent yesterday even appear in today's column?”
Benny cocks his head to the side, one hand coming up to scratch his stubble. “That’s a good question actually.”
Dean sits with his back against his headboard, kicking his legs up to stretch across the bed. “See, it can’t be about me.”
Benny takes his phone out again and starts typing. “Charlie has a friend that works at the newspaper. I bet he could tell us if it’s possible. Let me text her.”
Charlie is more than eager to question her friend about the ISawYou column, which is why Dean declares he’ll go and find this Cas guy alone. Why he goes along with this plan is still up for debate but Dean would rather get this over with (without Charlie’s high-on-sugar fidgeting around) and prove once and for all that those messages were not about him.
After asking a girl and being pointed towards a desk in the back, Dean wonders exactly since when Charlie and Cas have been friends. Because he’s known Charlie since day one, and he’s never heard of the name Cas being mentioned before. Or anyone working in the student newspaper for that matter. Of course, Charlie is an endless bundle of energy with more hobbies than Dean can keep track of so it’s not exactly a stretch to assume there are a lot of people in her life that Dean has no idea about.
Dean approaches the desk just as Cas lifts his head over his laptop screen, and damn. Why didn’t Dean know about Cas until now? Messy black hair and strikingly blue eyes peeking at him over black-rimmed glasses make Dean almost miss a step.
“Cas Novak?” Dean asks, his throat dry all of a sudden. Where has Charlie been hiding this guy? And more importantly, why has she been hiding him from Dean?
“That’s me,” Cas answers in a deep rumbly voice that makes Dean’s skin tingle in all the right ways. He narrows his eyes at Dean, head tilting to the side.
Dean clears his throat, offering his hand for a shake over the laptop, but he doesn’t have the time to introduce himself, because a spark of recognition passes from Cas’s eyes and he lifts his hand to grab Dean’s. “Dean Winchester, right?”
“My reputation precedes me,” Dean says, half surprised, half trying for flirty and sounding hoarse and nervous instead. His palms feel too sweaty all of a sudden, and he pulls his hand back to wipe it discreetly on his jeans.
Cas stands up and walks around the desk until he is standing a couple of feet away from Dean. He is only an inch or two shorter than Dean, but he more than makes up for it with strong forearms and toned thighs that are barely contained in his tight jeans. Dean goes a little weak in the knees.
“Charlie talks about you a lot,” Cas offers.
“Will you be offended if I can’t say the same about you?” Dean winces internally. Damn, what happened to all his charm and smooth flirting skills?
Cas chuckles, leaning with one hip against his desk. “Not really, Charlie and I barely have any time to see each other in real life these days. We mostly talk online. What brings you here?”
“I- uh. I had a few questions actually,” Dean says, trying really hard to keep his eyes from trailing down Cas’s body. You’re not here for that, Winchester, focus. “About the ISawYou column.”
Castiel frowns. “Oh. I’m not the one writing it but ask away.”
“I was wondering how fast a message is posted after somebody sends it.” Dean rubs a hand behind his neck, feeling the beginnings of a flush rising up his cheeks.
“It depends on how many messages are sent in a day. We post thirty messages online every day, ten of which are also in the printed version a couple of days later. Usually somebody has to wait anywhere between three days to a week before their message is posted, but during breaks and exam periods we get significantly less messages.” Castiel turns his head to gaze into the distance, deep in thought. “I suppose they have more pressing matters to think about than the student newspaper. But if you do have a message you want posted I could push it for you.”
So it is possible that the message really was about Dean. God, he’ll never hear the end of this if Charlie finds out. And he can already picture all the teasing Benny will subject him to. He groans, rubbing his eyes. At least he knows what Charlie would ask in his shoes, and he knows he better ask that question himself or she will. “Uh, no thanks. No messages to send. Just one more question. Is there any way to know who sent a message?”
Castiel shakes his head. “The messages are submitted anonymously through a form on the website. Sorry.”
“It was a long shot,” Dean says. “Thanks for your help anyway, Cas.”
“Not a problem. You’d be surprised how many students we have asking the same questions every few days. Is there anything else you’d like to ask?”
It’s the perfect setup. The perfect moment for Dean to turn back into his confident, charming self and say something along the lines of ‘Yeah, I was wondering if you want to go out with me sometime’. Which is exactly what doesn’t happen, and Dean thinks of that line only after he has already shaken his head and thanked Cas for his trouble.
They linger there, watching each other, the situation turning more and more awkward with every passing second in silence, until Dean’s pretty sure even if he does ask now, the answer is not going to be one he wants to hear.
He ducks his head low, hoping Cas doesn’t see his burning cheeks, thanks him again and leaves.
Charlie’s birthday being half a week after midterms is both a blessing and a curse. A curse because Dean is roped into helping organize the whole affair - shopping, cleaning and decorating included - and a blessing because it gives him a good excuse to see Cas again without having to loiter near the newspaper’s office in hopes of bumping into him. Dean finds out Cas is invited by discreetly asking how many guests Charlie is expecting and then sitting through half an hour of Charlie and Jo going back and forth with names and whether or not they’ll be available that day.
The secret admirer thing is not dropped, because Charlie insists that they can surely figure out who it is if they can remember who they saw at the park, but it is put to the side for now in favour of choosing a birthday cake and more importantly, helping Charlie choose what to wear. And so, Dean has to wait a few more days before he can see Cas again.
People are dancing and drinking and mingling. With Jo behind the bar preparing all the drinks it’s only a matter of time before almost all the guest are halfway drunk. The apartment she and Charlie share is tiny, but with all the furniture shoved against the walls there’s enough room for all the guests. Some are gathered together talking and laughing, others are by the counter that separates the living room from the kitchen joking with Jo while they wait for their drinks, and quite a few (Dean included) are squeezed by the front door doing shots around the small round table Jo and Charlie usually use to leave their keys when they return home.
It’s a strategic choice of location. Cas hasn’t shown up yet, but Dean has the perfect view of the door for when he does. Here’s to hoping he won’t be too drunk to make a move once Cas arrives, though. A couple of shots were good to loosen him up and help him harden his resolve, but it’s been three hours since the party started, and Dean has had more shots than he would have liked.
Benny has an arm thrown around Dean’s shoulders, his other hand waving around his drink as he tells the story of the time he woke up passed out in a hospital elevator with the worst hangover of his life. Rum and coke splashes all over the floor and the people around them with his every gesture, but nobody seems to care. Only Dean does his best to keep looking presentable for when his target arrives.
The bell rings for what feels like the hundredth time that night, and Dean’s heart does a small nervous dance under his throat (also for what feels like the hundredth time that night). Anna, a redhead Charlie met last year in one of her yoga classes, manages to squeeze her hand among the people and open the door for a girl to walk in, a Zara gift bag in her hand.
Dean swallows past the lump of disappointment in his throat before his heart does a somersault again when Cas appears behind the girl. Their eyes meet long enough for Cas to smile and Dean’s stomach to fill with butterflies. Then Charlie comes pushing through the crowd to find Dean and drag him away.
“Deaaan, I need your help,” she whines, walking towards her bedroom on unsteady feet.
“Everything okay?” Her hold on him is iron tight as she pulls him along. Dean keeps trying to look back in hopes of catching sight of Cas again, but Charlie yanks the door to her bedroom open, pushes him inside and follows him, closing the door behind her.
“Dean, my new dress,” she says and turns around pointing at where the seam line going down her back has split open right where her butt is. “It’s ruined.”
Dean rubs a hand over his face, hiding his smile. “You should have listened to Jo when she said to get a size larger.”
Charlie leaves a dramatic sigh and drops to her bed, face first. “The larger size was too large for my boobs.” Her voice is muffled against the mattress, and Dean has to guess half of the words coming out of her mouth.
“This one was too small for your ass, apparently.”
Charlie turns her face to scowl at him. “It fit fine until I had to bend to pick up my fork from the floor, and then disaster struck.”
Chuckling, Dean pats her shoulder. “Hey, at least we got all those pictures before everyone arrived. Come on, I’ll help you pick another dress.”
“New dress?” Charlie pushes herself on her elbows. “Dean, I’m not changing my dress. You have to sew the hole.”
“You’re drunk,” Dean says. “I’m drunk. How am I supposed to sew your dress right now? Just change, and I’ll fix it for you tomorrow.”
“Everyone is drunk. Just do your best, please,” Charlie begs, mustering her best puppy dog pout.
This face works every time, and it’s the reason Dean finds himself cursing as he tries to keep his hands steady enough to sew the seam back together. Charlie refused to take off the dress, which left them with the only choice of lifting it to her waist so Dean could do his work. Jo finds them like that a few minutes later, Charlie slumped on the bed, half dressed, Dean leaning above her and trying to will his drunk hands to work.
“What are you guys doing?” Jo asks, laughing.
“Dean’s fixing my dress,” Charlie slurs, lifting her head off the bed to look at her roommate.
“Dean’s too drunk to sew,” Dean complains.
“Oh, oh, wait. I have something that might help.” Jo runs out of the room and comes back barely half a minute later with three shots.
“How is this going to help?” Dean wonders but takes the glass anyway and throws the shot back.
“Oh, I needed that,” Charlie sighs, handing the empty glass back to Jo, who grins at them.
“You guys want one more?”
“Please, no,” Dean begs at the same time Charlie raises her hand over her hand to yell, “Hell, yeah.”
Two more shots and a badly-sewn dress later, Charlie and Jo stumble out of the bedroom, and Dean has every intention of following them, he really does, except his limbs refuse to move, and the bed is so so comfortable. Closing his eyes for five minutes won’t hurt anyone, right?
At a party. Heard you were quite the seamstress. Next time maybe we can have a couple of drinks together.
Dean can’t believe he lost his chance to charm the pants off Cas because he got drunk and fell asleep. He didn’t even get the chance to admire the guy. His plan was a complete, total, undisputable failure. It’s been a week, and Dean still can’t get over it.
Looks like Dean should reconsider hanging outside the student newspaper office. There’s gotta be some professor’s office nearby Dean can pretend to be looking for. Maybe he could ask Cas to show him. Oh, yeah that sounds like a nice plan.
Dean blinks back into reality, his eyes first focusing on a hand waving in front of his face, then the owner of that hand.
“Are you with us?” Charlie asks, snapping her fingers a couple of times for good measure. She is sitting to his left, with Benny on her other side and Jo across from her, their usual seats for game night.
Dean pushes her hand away and gathers the cards he’s been dealt - only now noticing them on the table.
Charlie peers at him over her cards. “Did you even listen to what I said?”
“Was it Grand Tichu?” Dean quickly moves around the cards in his hand, arranging them in combinations.
“Then I don’t care.”
“Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed today,” Jo says, wiggling her eyebrows at him.
“Bite me, Harvelle,” Dean hisses, picking out three cards and placing them face down on the table. Benny and Jo do the same, and all three of them turn to Charlie.
Charlie smiles widely at him, a hint of mischief in her eyes. “I said I have a surprise for you.”
“You’re giving me the dragon?”
“Trust me, brother,” Benny says, biting back a smile. “She ain’t got the dragon.” It’s lucky they are playing Tichu and not poker, because Benny has an awful poker face.
Charlie rolls her eyes. She drops her cards on the table and reaches for her phone. “You had the dragon last time, too, and I still destroyed you.”
“You were just lucky you had two bombs,” Benny argues, but his expression darkens at the memory.
“Anyway. My surprise.” Charlie glances around the table to make sure she has everyone’s attention, then takes a steadying breath. “Your secret admirer was at my party.”
“What?” Jo exclaims.
Benny drops his cards, and yes, he really does have the dragon. “Oh, shit.”
Dean frowns. “How do you know?”
Charlie chews on her lower lip as she scrolls through her phone, finds what she’s looking for and places the phone in the middle of the table. All three lean forward, craning their necks to read the new message in the ISawYou column.
“Oh, shit,” Benny says again, exchanging an astonished look with Jo, whose mouth is hanging open.
Charlie leans back in her chair, satisfied, hands crossed over her chest. She cocks an eyebrow at them. “We have a suspect list.” The game is quickly forgotten as Charlie orders Benny to bring a pen and a paper and Jo to find all the photos she can from the party. “It’s investigation time.”
“Guys, guys, guys. Wait a minute,” Dean says, grabbing Jo’s shoulder to keep her from getting up.
All three turn to look at him questioningly, Benny already half-raised from his chair.
“What are you gonna do? Ask everyone that came to your party if they have a secret crush on me?”
“I was thinking of trying to remember if we saw any of them at the park,” Charlie says.
“Because there’s no chance in hell you’ll remember seeing anyone at the library,” Benny adds.
“And then what?”
“Um, maybe ask them out on a date?” Jo guesses, shrugging. Then she reaches over and smacks him on the shoulder. “Don’t play hard to get now, Winchester. I’ve set you up on more blind dates than I can count.”
“And all of them were disasters.” Dean catches Jo’s hand when she dives in for another slap. “All I’m saying is, maybe I’m not interested in a person I might not even know.”
Charlie narrows her eyes at him. “Dean Winchester, you’ve never turned down anyone without at least one date.”
“Jesus, Charlie, you make me sound like a whore.”
“That’s such a sexist term, Dean, you know how I feel about-” Charlie cuts her words off, scowling at Dean. She lifts an accusing finger at him. “Don’t try to distract me. You’re hiding something. What is it? Spill it.”
“It’s nothing.” When none of them looks convinced at his words, Dean raises his hands up, palms out. “I swear.”
A sharp breath gets everyone’s attention, and they turn to look at Benny, who’s staring at Dean with wide eyes. Then he smirks. “I know what he’s hiding.”
Dean breaks in a cold sweat just looking at Benny’s expression. God, please don’t tell him Benny’s figured it out.
“You’re pining for someone,” Benny drawls, and Dean knows his burning ears are enough of a giveaway that refusing is out of the question.
Charlie and Jo are immediately all over him.
“Who is it?” one of them asks while the other pokes him in the ribs, chanting “Tell us, tell us, tell us.”
“Tell us, tell us, tell us.”
“We only need a name.”
“Come on, Dean.”
Dean is suffocating. He feels like he is a suspect in one of those mystery movies, with a single light blinding him, while two detectives play the good cop-bad cop game with him, questioning him, drilling him until he bends and breaks. Except there’s no light blinding him and Charlie and Jo are both bad cops. Dean breaks all the same.
“Cas,” he blurts out. “It’s Cas. Jesus, get off me.”
Jo and Charlie take a step back, both stunned into silence. Then Charlie falls on him again, punching and hitting him anywhere she can reach.
“Cas? You’ve had a crush on Cas all these years and you only think to tell me now?” she yells, half amused, half genuinely hurt.
Dean lifts his arms to protect his face, since nothing seems to be able to stop Charlie’s attack. “Years? Are you crazy? I only met him two weeks ago or so.”
That gets him the reaction he wants. Charlie freezes, fist raised above her head, head tipping to the side in confusion. “Two weeks? What are you talking about. You knew Cas.”
Charlie turns from Dean to Jo and Benny, looking for help. “Come on, he knew Cas. Right, Benny?”
Benny gives her a half-hearted shrug and says, “I didn’t know Cas until your birthday party.”
“What-? No. You guys knew him.” Charlie frowns at all of them. “You met him at my birthday last year, for sure.”
“Didn’t Cas have his brother’s wedding last year?” Jo offers. “I remember he came by a couple of days before the party to drop off your present.”
“Well, what about that game night we had? The one we ordered six pizzas and they sent eight by mistake? Cas was there, too,” Charlie tries again, and Jo shakes her head.
“Cas was there, but Dean and Benny weren’t. I’d set them up on a double date with Marie and Christie from my basketball team.”
Benny visibly shudders at the mention of the two girls’ names, while Dean points at Jo and says, “Fuck you, by the way. That was the worst date I’ve ever been to.”
“The night wouldn’t end,” Benny recalls, eyes glassy as he stares off into the distance. They had to fake food poisoning to get away. The date had been that bad.
“Hey-”Jo starts, and Charlie cuts her off.
“But both of you saw him at the park. Remember, Benny? We were waiting for Dean to bring his car and pick us up when we bumped into Cas. We talked until…” Charlie trails off.
“Oh yeah, that rings a bell,” Benny admits, but Charlie quickly shushes him. She turns to Jo, wide-eyed.
“Until Dean showed up with the car.”
Jo’s mouth drops open, her mind quickly catching up with what Charlie is implying. Dean is a little slower.
“Cas saw Dean at the park. His car, too,” Jo says, and a lightbulb goes off inside Benny’s mind.
He turns to Charlie, a grin spreading on his face. “And you told him about Dean fixing your dress when you saw him at the party. I was with you when you were telling him the story.”
Charlie can now barely contain her excitement, and Dean thinks he might have an idea as to what they are implying.
“Cas practically lives in the library,” she whispers, biting down a smile.
At last, Dean has to put an end to this conversation before it gets out of hand. “Wow, you guys are clearly more desperate than me, because I still haven’t reached this level of projecting. You can’t seriously imply Cas is my secret admirer.”
“But it fits,” Benny and Jo say together, then look at each other and burst out laughing.
“You have no evidence,” Dean points out.
“We have… well, we have a feeling?” Jo winces. Even to her own ears her argument sounds weak.
“Actually we do have evidence,” Charlie interrupts. “Remember the day I found the first message? When we were studying at Starbucks?”
Dean nods weakly, not sure where this is going.
“I’d met Cas just the day before to borrow a book, and he told me - and I quote - ‘you should check out the newspaper tomorrow. We have a couple of juicy messages.’” She slaps a hand over her forehead and groans. “God, and I thought he meant the one about a dude seeing a girl eating half a burger in a single bite. How could I have been so stupid. He was using me to make sure the message got to you.”
A flame of hope flickers shyly inside Dean’s chest, and he cradles it in his hands, careful to keep it from growing too much and consuming him before he is absolutely sure that what he desperately wants is true. It can’t be, it just can’t be. Cas can’t have been interested in him all along, right?
“You lucky bastard,” Benny laughs, clapping a hand on Dean’s shoulder and squeezing. “You don’t even have to agonise over whether or not he likes you back. You already know.”
Dean’s voice is weak when he says, “I don’t.”
Jo waves a hand at him. “Sure you do. It’s obvious.”
“He even asked about you at my party,” Charlie adds, red curls flying around with the way she nods excitedly.
“So. What do I do?” Dean finally asks, and Charlie’s grin widens.
“Leave it to me.”
I’m the idiot that didn’t see you at the park, or the library, or the party. But I’d like to have that drink. Nonno’s, eight o’clock, next Saturday.
Dean glances at his phone, and he still has another six minutes before he can start panicking. Not that there’s anything to panic about. Nothing at all. Just because he said eight in his message doesn’t mean that Cas is going to show up at eight o’clock sharp. He could be late. Yeah, it’s totally normal for someone to be a little late, so really Dean has, like, plenty of time before he panics, right? So why are his insides quivering like that?
It took a lot of convincing on Benny’s part, and a lot of threatening on Charlie’s - Jo was sure he wasn’t going to back out - but he is here now. He is parked right across the street from Nonno’s, leaning against the hood of the Impala, and he shifts nervously around.
Five minutes now.
Sending the message to the ISawYou newspaper was Charlie’s idea, and Dean has spent the last week both dreading and looking forward to this moment. His message hasn’t been posted to the newspaper, or the site for that matter, and that’s the major reason for his concern. What if Cas never saw the message and Dean is waiting for nothing?
What if his secret admirer was somebody else and some random person shows up and Dean has to sit through an awkward date with them when his insides are all breaking down to tiny pieces?
Or worse, what if Cas saw the message, and he just decided that Dean is not worth the trouble after all, and he made sure the message was not posted to save Dean from the humiliation?
Dean feels his blood run cold, and he takes a deep steadying breath. He needs to calm down. He is totally overthinking this.
Plus, since his message was never posted there’s no way someone else is going to show up in Cas’ place. That’s a good thing. Except it leaves him with options one and three, which still end with him waiting here like an idiot for nothing.
He fingers the collar of his shirt. Benny suggested Dean should wear the purple one, since they already know Cas likes it, but Jo vetoed it, on the grounds of it being too casual and too try-hard, so Dean dug up a nice dark blue button up his mom got him for Christmas.
Two more minutes to go, and Dean forgets all about shirts and hair and making a nice first impression because panic is clawing its way up his throat. He’s an idiot, he is the biggest idiot, and there's no way someone like Cas would be interested in him so really this whole thing is just a joke and Dean would be better off forgetting about it and running back to his dorm to hide for the rest of his remaining years as an undergraduate student. It’s only two years, it's not like he'll miss that much stuff.
Dean stands frozen across the street from Nonno’s, eyes glued to the ground, so he only notices someone coming up to him when that someone's shadow hits his shoes.
Dean takes a sharp breath and looks up startled. His heart immediately melts in a puddle on the street. There is Cas, hair perfectly tousled, sleeves rolled to his elbows, ass-hugging jeans, and though Dean feels a little remorse Cas has left his glasses at home, bright blue eyes locking with his more than make up for it.
Cas’ eyes slowly trail down Dean’s body, then make their way back up. Dean flushes to the roots of his hair.
“Nice car,” Cas says, the corner of his mouth tilting up in an unsure smile.
“You’re here,” Dean blurts out, like the idiot he is, and Castiel frowns in confusion.
“Yes, I thought- I mean I assumed because there was this message…” Cas trails off, brows knitting together. Then he drops his eyes and takes a step back. “I’m sorry I probably misunderstood something. Excuse me-”
Dean grabbed Castiel by the elbow before his mind could catch up to his body, and now, Cas is looking up at him expectantly, and maybe there's some hope hidden in there. He’s here, and he got the message, and he's Dean’s secret admirer, so really, how bad can this go? Dean takes a breath.
“I didn't think you’d come,” he manages to say, but after that his mind comes up blank as to how to continue, so Dean lets his instinct take over. A terrible decision, really, because all it comes out is a jumbled mess of I wasn't sure, and You look great and You never answered my message, so .
But Cas, beautiful, kind Cas, smiles like he understands exactly what Dean is trying to say - a miracle, for Dean himself doesn't know what he's trying to say - and takes Dean's hand in his own, lacing their fingers. He nods towards Nonno’s.
“Wanna grab a bite?” he asks, looking at Dean from under his lashes, and all Dean can do is nod and let Cas lead him towards the diner.
Dean is sure he is a terrible date, and that he talks too much, but Cas laughs at his jokes, and allows Dean to try some of his milkshake. He blushes a lovely shade of pink when he apologizes for using the school newspaper instead of coming up to him, and Dean shakes his head and assures him it’s fine and not to worry about it. He thinks it'll be a good story to tell their children one day, but he doesn't say it out loud because he is totally gone on Cas, but he is not an idiot to let that thought slip. Not that much of an idiot, at least.
Dean pays for their food, but Cas only lets him because Dean agrees Cas will buy him dessert later. They walk out of Nonno’s holding hands. Dean fumbles with his keys, and Cas suggests they walk to Sweetie Pies instead.
“It’s a lovely night, and it's not too far away,” he says.
They stroll down the street, talking about this and that, and Dean has it bad already. He is rumbling on endlessly about something stupid and unimportant like Did you know that elephants can't jump? Yeah, I saw that on a documentary once. My brother loves nature documentaries- and Cas stops walking. He tugs Dean back close to him and says, “I want to try something.”
Dean's brows furrow in confusion. Then there's a hand on the back of his neck, and Cas pulls him in and just like that they are kissing. Dean melts against him, wrapping an arm around his waist to press their bodies together. Cas’ lips are full and a little dry, and Dean can see fireworks behind his closed eyelids.
He wants to kiss Cas almost as soon as they pull away, and so he does. And he kisses him again later while they are sharing a piece of pie, the flavor of cherries clinging to their lips. And he kisses him goodnight when he drops him off at his dorm.
It doesn’t even bother him that Benny teases him endlessly for lying in his bed staring at the ceiling dazed.
The next day he’s returning a book to the library when his phone rings with a new message. He reads it, and then he gazes around the room until his eyes fall on Cas, leaning against one of the bookcases, phone in hand. He greets him with a kiss, and they leave together.
From Cas, 9:43 - At the library. Leather jacket, black shirt, heavy books. Wanna have lunch with me?