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Impala67 [7:23 PM]: You know how parents tell their kids that if they win the soccer game, they’ll take them out for ice cream? And the kid says, “What if we lose?” and the parents say, “We’ll take you out for ice cream anyway.”

AngelofThursday [7:24 PM]: When would I have any interaction with the parents of child athletes?
AngelofThursday [7:25 PM]: Also, what is the point in saying that dessert is contingent upon winning if you are going to give the child ice cream regardless?

Impala67 [7:25 PM]: Exactly!

AngelofThursday [7:26 PM]: Dean, you’re making even less sense than usual.

Impala67 [7:27 PM]: It’s just…tomorrow’s a big day for us.
Impala67 [7:28 PM]: And I know we’ve talked about how we’re not gonna let it change things one way or another.
Impala67 [7:28 PM]: But whether it turns out you’re my soulmate or not…
Impala67 [7:29 PM]: I think we should go out for ice cream.

AngelofThursday [7:29 PM]: Is the ice cream strictly metaphorical then? If so, I would say that I promise to love you regardless.
AngelofThursday [7:30 PM]: If not…do you want me to look up Yelp reviews?

Dean couldn’t help but chuckle a little at that.

It had been half a year since they’d connected on that stupid dating site, which he’d only joined in a half-drunken stupor after playing third wheel to Sam and Jessica all night. Pretty much as soon as he uploaded his picture, he’d been flooded with messages from girls and guys wanting a hook-up—but he could get that anywhere. He’d wanted someone that could be a nerd with his friends on game night, someone who would ride shotgun and join him singing along with the radio at the top of his lungs, and someone who was good in the sack.

In short, he’d wanted a soulmate.

Cas was almost none of the things he asked for on paper. While he was definitely a nerd, he was more of the kind that would win Jeopardy than could get into a detailed debate about whether or not the Hulk lifting Thor while Thor held Mjolnir counted as the Hulk lifting Mjolnir.

He’d also vowed never to sing in Dean’s presence under any circumstances but said that he’d be happy to listen to as many over-the-top performances of Eye of the Tiger as Dean felt like giving. And while Cas was devastatingly handsome, finding out if they had in-person chemistry sorta had to wait until they met…in-person.

Which was currently the reason that Dean’s stomach was in more knots than that bendy yoga teacher he used to date.

Impala67 [12: 03 AM]: Look, I got to head to bed if I’m going to get my four hours in before my flight tomorrow.

AngelofThursday [12:03 AM]: Apologies, I didn’t realize it had gotten so late.
AngelofThursday [12:04 AM]: Though maybe it will help you sleep on the plane?

Impala67 [12:04 AM]: You’re cute when you’re being delusional.

No, the only way he was going to survive the flight was by buying a tray full of those little liquor bottles. But he had such little vacation time, he couldn’t justify a 25-hour drive both ways no matter how much he tried.

Unsurprisingly, even after signing off, stripping down into boxers, and climbing into bed, Dean couldn’t get his brain to shut off. He could hear the minutes ticking by even though the only clock he had was his phone. So now, he’d be meeting Cas drunk and with zombie-like circles under his eyes. Perfect.

No, instead of sleeping, his mind read and reread the four words barely visible on his wrist that he’d memorized long ago—“What you got there?”

It didn’t sound like something Cas would say—nor did the child-like scrawl it was written in look like he imagined Cas’s handwriting. But how could it be anybody else?

/////

Six months ago…

AngelofThursday [1:29 AM]: I just wanted to let you know that, even though your profile says you live in Kansas, you seem to have your location settings pinned to a fifty-mile area surrounding Palo Alto, California.

Dean cursed. More proof that this whole idea was pointless. Dean checked the messenger’s profile, but other than saying he was male, 25, and in med school, it was almost blank.

Impala67 [1:35 AM]: Thanks, Man. I was just about to delete this whole thing anyway.

AngelofThusday [1:37 AM]: I will admit, I’m considering the same. So far, someone has tried to get me to join their energy drink pyramid scheme, two people have propositioned me and gotten very mad at my refusal, and another two messages started with “Did it hurt when you fell out of Heaven?” which is probably the fault of my username, but is disappointing, none-the-less.

His snort filled Sam’s and Jess’s tiny living room; he was currently crashing on their couch. Lucky thing about having a ginormous brother. Even in such a small apartment, the couch was long enough to fit all six feet of him.

Impala67 [1:39 AM]: But did you have someone insist that your profile picture was photoshopped and you ‘stole’ your lips from some Australian model?

AngelofThursday [1:40 AM]: I did not put up any photos of myself, so no.

This guy was either amazing at sarcasm or had never heard of it.

Dean’s mouse hovered over the “unpublish profile” button—and then moved away again. He kinda wanted to find out which.

/////

Dean didn’t remember his mom as well as he would have liked to. But she’d left behind about a dozen or so home movies that he’d have the courage to watch one day—and her journal.

In one of the entries, Mary talked about a man she had been in a relationship with before their dad. She and Brian weren’t soulmates—knew that from the beginning—and yet, she wrote like it was the end of the world the day he broke up with her. It was over a year later—when she first encountered a veteran named John Winchester—that she came to the conclusion that, if she had that much love to give the wrong person, it was nothing compared to what she was capable of feeling for the right person.

If she was here now, watching Dean bounce his leg in the airport terminal lounge, she might have said something to that effect to calm him down. But he didn’t want the mystery person who might come after Cas and prove how small his current feelings were.

He wanted messy black hair and midnight blue eyes and “I don’t understand that reference.” He wanted the deep growl he heard over video chats and the bacon that appeared on his doorstep every month because Cas got him a monthly subscription as a birthday present. He wanted….

“Flight #290 to San Francisco will be getting ready to board in 15 minutes,” a woman’s voice announced over the PA system, jerking him from his thoughts. “First-class passengers, those with mobility devices, and active service members will be invited to line up first, so you should begin gathering your things. On behalf of Angel Air, we’d like to thank you for flying with us today. After all, the journey is just as important as the destination.”

With mottos like that, I might throw up before I even get on the plane, Dean griped internally, standing up and hoisting his duffel bag more securely over his shoulder. ‘Cause, yeah, the journey’s great and all, but not if you end up nowhere.

/////

3 months ago…

“Can you freakin’ believe a bee has to fly 90,000 miles to make just one pound of honey?” Dean told Sam, gesturing emphatically with his hot dog. Groups of people were gathered in clumps with Bobby and the grill mostly at the center.

“Dean, that’s like the tenth ‘fun’ fact you’ve shared since I got home for spring break. What. Is going. On?”

“Maybe, I’ve developed some new interests since you’ve been away at school. People change, Sammy. Even Lawrence changes. Did you notice we got a Sonic since you left?”

Sam rolled his eyes. “If it was just the fact that you’ve apparently binge-watched all of Animal Planet in the last three months, maybe I’d let it go. But I figured you weren’t going to let me out of your sight except for bathroom breaks this visit. And instead, you ditched me at the movies last night for undisclosed reasons.”

Dean smiled uneasily. He’d gone back to the apartment to chat with Cas, but his brother certainly didn’t need to know that.

“Hey, dweebs!” Jo interrupted, reaching up on tip toes to put one hand on each of their shoulders. “We’re setting up knife throwing, if you wanna get your asses kicked.” She gestured toward a large cut-out of what appeared to be a vampire.

“But if we slice and dice your boyfriend, who are you going to take to prom?”

That earned Dean a head-slap but, thankfully, did get him out of the conversation with Sam.

…But only for the afternoon.

By the time evening rolled around, Dean had had approximately five too many beers and was spilling his guts to his brother.

“I’m really glad you found someone,” Sam said, sincerely, but with a hint of worry around his eyes. Sure enough, less than three seconds passed before he added, “And you really don’t know if--”

“No, Sam. You know how that shit works. It’s the first words you say to each other face-to-face. Not in a letter—or a text message—or a video chat.” Dean suddenly imagined what would happen if it did work over camera and your soulmate was an actor on a dog food commercial and you had “Dogs don’t know it’s not bacon” on your wrist forever.

“Well?” Sam asked, tucking his hair behind his ear. “Are you going to find out?”

“Yeah. Someday,” he said, avoiding his brother’s glance and taking another sip of beer. After all, it was easy for Sam to talk. Third day at Stanford—and there she was—the “Is this seat taken?” that he’d worn underneath a leather bracelet since he was 16.

But Dean wasn’t like him. Good things didn’t just happen in his experience—and he didn’t see why the universe would start being nice to him now.

/////

“Going to visit your sweetie, I’m guessing,” the middle-aged blonde woman sitting next to him in 32B smiled.

“Uh…,” he said, intelligently, running his hands up and down the armrests. He shouldn’t have gotten a window seat. That was a terrible-no-good-very-bad idea.

“No need to be shy,” she said, patting him conspiratorially. “If there's one thing I've learned in all my years on the road, it's when somebody's pining for somebody else. And we’ve got several hours together. So, why don’t you tell me about them?”

“Uh…” he repeated.

/////

1 month ago…

“Cas! You can’t just—say shit like that as if it’s the weather. There’s a high of 69 today, partially cloudy, and by the way, I’m in love with you.”

“Why not?” his sorta-boyfriend answered from where Dean had his laptop resting on the coffee table. “I’m much more sure of that than if it’s going to rain today or not.”

“Because—because you just can’t.”

“It’s a good thing Sam’s the lawyer and not you.”

Dean didn’t have a good response to that either.

Since Dean had had his chick flick moment with Sam in Bobby’s and Ellen’s backyard, his brother had gone from quietly skeptical to almost absurdly enthusiastic about their whole thing.

He and Cas both attended Stanford so in the name of looking out for his big brother, he and Jess had made a point of having Cas over for dinner the week he got back from spring break. Now, they all go jogging on the weekends together and take yoga on Tuesday evenings and it’s all kinds of weird.

On one hand, knowing that his brother and his…Cas get along so well made Dean a flavor of happy he didn’t know existed before. On the other, he didn’t want to build a whole puzzle around Cas only to realize that the two most important pieces weren’t ever meant to fit in the first place.

“Dean, I wasn’t trying to make you uncomfortable—and there’s no pressure to say it back or even to feel the same right now. All I’m asking is that you give me the credit of knowing my own feelings.”

Dean worried the bottom of his lip between his teeth. “It’s not that I don’t—you know, you too. It’s just…”

“You’re worried we’re not soulmates,” Cas stated plainly, crossing his arms over his chest. His white dress shirt sleeves were pushed up to the elbows, the shoulders flexing with the motion. “Which frankly, I find out-of-character for you. You talk about Bill Gates dropping out of school as an exercise in free will—and how the best musicians pushed beyond socially-established boundaries. You hate when people say that you’re like your father—because, ‘screw genetics’—you are who you choose to be. And yet, this—” Cas held his wrist out to the camera and Dean automatically shut his eyes so he couldn’t read what it said. “This is what makes you finally believe in prophecy?”

“Put your hand down,” Dean complained, still with his eyes closed.

“Why? If you tell me what yours says and I tell you what mine says, we’ll know what to say to each other when we meet and then you can stop worrying.”

It was actually something he thought about before—but then he’d spend the rest of his life wondering.

“Please, Cas?” he tried again. And even though he could hear Cas grumbling about it, he could tell that he dropped his arm.

He bought the plane ticket the next day.