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Meet Cute

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Six months later…

Dean didn’t know exactly what he was seeing but he knew he didn’t like it. Despite moving to California a couple of months ago to be closer to Cas and Sam, it still seemed like he and his boyfriend barely saw each other.

He knew this was one of the downsides of dating someone in the medical field—although seeing him come home in scrubs was definitely worth something. But, regardless, he thought he’d maybe sneak over to the hospital around noon and convince Cas to have lunch with him—even if it ended up being mystery meat from the cafeteria.

What he didn’t expect was to find him in an obvious argument with one of the other young doctors. They were keeping their voices low enough so as not to be heard, but the scowl on Cas’ face spoke volumes. Then she stepped forward into his personal space, putting a hand on Cas’ chest and nope, nuh uh, no absolutely fuckin’ way.

“What the hell, lady!” he hissed, stomping up to the two of them.

“Dean!” Cas exclaimed, instinctively stepping toward him.

“Who’s Dean?” the brunette asked, at the same time he asked, “Who’s this chick?”

“Hannah, this is my boyfriend. Dean, Hannah is one of my colleagues.”

“Seemed a little friendlier than that,” Dean pointed out, not knowing who he was aiming his annoyance at.

“You…have a boyfriend?” Hannah’s voice sputtered, which definitely shifted more of his anger to Cas’ side.

“Yes,” Cas said, simply, as Dean ground his teeth together. “And he and I need a moment in private, if you would excuse us,” he added. To the outside world, it probably looked like he just had his hand on the bend of Dean’s elbow, when really the motherfucker was manhandling him away.

“You want to explain what I just walked in on?” Dean whisper-yelled as Cas locked them both into an on-call room.

It was set up with two bunk beds for doctors who needed a rest during their shifts. Normally, the oldest of the Winchester brothers would be kinda thrilled to be in here with Cas, considering he’d seen what people got up to in these rooms on Dr. Sexy. But then he remembered Hannah’s heart-shaped face, framed by soft brown bangs and the thought of what people did in these rooms on Dr. Sexy sorta made him want to throw up.

“You’re overreacting,” Cas told him, flatly. Which, you know, was probably fair. But the energy inside of Dean wouldn’t settle and so he began pacing the tiny room, waiting for his boyfriend to give him something—anything—else to go off of. And yet, after a minute passed in silence and Dean dared to look in his direction, Cas seemed—nervous? And suddenly Dean felt much, much worse.

“No, Dean, I would never--” Cas started, reaching for his face, but Dean slapped his hands away.

“Then fuckin’ just say it already. What. Was. That?”

“Hannah,” he began, trying to keep his voice purposefully soothing, “Is under the false impression that we’re soulmates.”

“She--” Dean attempted a question, but he didn’t think there was any sound to it.

“Her wrist says, ‘Are you Dr. Martin?’, which, yes, I did say, but she must hear that at least a dozen times a day.”

“And did she say—you know, your thing?”

“After I said, ‘Are you Dr. Martin?’, I introduced myself and explained that I was supposed to be shadowing her. And she replied, ‘Let me show you around,” which is, I admit, similar to ‘Let me show you’ but it’s definitely not the same thing. Dean, Dean,” he murmured, almost begging this time. “I love you.

“You’re going to be working with her every day. She might change your mind,” he pointed out, feeling suddenly self-conscious of his grease-stained jeans and t-shirt that he’d worn from the mechanic’s shop.

“We’ve spent weeks together at this point and, while I think she is a very capable doctor, I don’t care about her that way.”

That sparked something in Dean’s brain in an instant. “Weeks! You’ve known about this for weeks and you didn’t tell me.”

“I—” he hung his head, “yes.”

“So what? You were just testing the waters before breaking the news to me?”

Cas took a steadying breath. “I understand why you are upset right now, I do. But you will stop accusing me of cheating on you because I would never—not in word, or deed, or even thought. And I don’t appreciate the insinuation.”

Dean laughed—because that’s what his life was, right? A sick, terrible joke. “I forgot, you’re an angel. Perfectly innocent, perfectly trustworthy. It’s not like I just found out you’ve been keeping a huge fuckin’ secret behind my back. And if you could lie to me that easily, how am I supposed to believe anything that comes out of your mouth?”

In that moment, it’s like Cas lowered a door behind his eyes—blocking Dean from seeing any emotion in them. “I think you should go,” he declared, stepping out of the way out the door.

And even though a part of Dean wanted to say no, please, I’m sorry, just to make that too-cold expression go away, it was buried under several layers of his own ice.

“I think I should,” he responded back and that’s exactly what he did.

/////

Dean got a motel that night. He coulda stayed at Sam’s and Jess’s place, but they would’ve asked too many questions he didn’t want to answer. Plus, he didn’t trust them not to report back to Cas.

So, instead, he found himself clutching a bottle of whiskey in a room that smelled vaguely like feet, spitefully imagining what it would be like to go out and find someone else to fuck. He knew he’d never actually do it, but the complete non-response his body gave, even as he went over some old favorite fantasies, was just more proof of the grip Cas had over his heart.

And just like that, he was remembering Tuesday, when Cas had been riding him so good, biting his lip around the little whimpers he was making every time Dean brushed his prostate—like he was still shy about this—about wanting and being wanted.

And, of course, just that ten-second flashback is enough to have Dean’s erection stir for the first time all night. He pointedly ignores it.

Eventually, he calms down enough to go over what happened again at the hospital. Cas hadn’t been happy about Hannah’s advances—he had seen that. But if they really were soulmates—soulmates in forced proximity—it was only a matter of time, right?

/////

He came back to their apartment when he knew Cas would already be working his next shift. But what he didn’t expect was for their bed to look exactly how he left it the previous morning—as if Cas hadn’t slept there. He went back to the kitchen and there were still the same dishes in the sink. And, if he had succeeded at talking himself down from panic even a little, that was all shot to hell now. The fact that Dean also had not slept there was irrelevant.

He powered up his phone for the first time since he called in sick to work yesterday afternoon, only to see half a dozen missed calls and texts from Sam.

Sam [7:11 PM]: Cas just came over looking heart-broken.
Sam [7:12 PM]: What the hell did you do, man?

Sam [8:52 PM]: I talked to Cas. I get it. You shouldn’t have acted like that. But I get it.
Sam [8:54 PM]: Cas is staying the night, by the way.

Sam [6:01 AM]: He loves you and you love him.
Sam [6:02 AM]: Fix this.

/////

Later when Cas came home—with bags under his anger-intense eyes and his trench coat even more disheveled than usual, Dean honestly wondered if the dark-haired man was going to punch him.

But then the mask slipped and he saw the raw hurt there—and suddenly, he was walking forward and Cas’s strong arms wrapped instinctively around his waist, holding all his broken pieces together while he tried to do the same.

“Can we just—not fight right now?” Cas pleaded into his shoulder. “I know we have to talk but—later?” Dean nodded, already leading them into the bedroom, where they quickly fell asleep.

/////

“Go on,” Dean murmured when they both woke up around midnight, calmed by Cas’ hand running smoothing circles over his t-shirt clad chest. “I promise I’ll—you know—listen this time.”

“She’s not my soulmate, Dean. And even if she was—from the moment I met you, I was lost. No one else. But it hurts me that you don’t know that. That you don’t see that I have chosen you and will keep choosing you no matter what anyone else offers me. It’s why I didn’t tell you about her—why I wasn’t planning on telling you. I knew you would be upset and it’s nothing. Really.”

Dean knew Cas had the track record to support what he was saying—knew that when Cas’ parents demanded they end their relationship on the grounds that they weren’t soulmates that Cas stopped talking to them without a second thought—not that they were close before, the dickbags.

He knew that when they went out to bars or restaurants and someone smiled at Cas that way, it wasn’t just that he didn’t flirt back; he genuinely didn’t notice.

And yet, something was still bothering him. “If you’ve been trying to fend her off for weeks, why didn’t she already know you had a boyfriend?”

“I…to be honest, I just didn’t think it was relevant. I wasn’t interested in her that way and told her so. I thought that would be enough.”

“Does anyone at the hospital know about me?”

“Of course, my friends do, Dean. I’m very proud of you, but you know I’m private too. I don’t want to be asked by some random acquaintance at work how we met, or what we do on weekends, or ‘what’s it like to hit that?’,” he said, with air quotes. “Because believe me, it’s happened before. Those moments are just for us.”

“I need you not to hide shit from me,” he countered, lips pressed to Cas’ head above the curve of his ear. “Even if you think it’s for my own good or whatever, it’s not. Because I’m gonna find out and it’s gonna feel so much worse that it didn’t come from you.”

“And I need you to know I’m not going to leave you—that even when you make me furious and I need some space—I’m always going to come back.”

“Yeah…OK,” Dean’s voice was gruff.

“Now who is going to say it first—you or I?” Cas asked, just the barest traces of moonlight from their bedroom window painting a halo over his head.

“How about at the same time?” Dean suggested.

“I--” they both began.

“—Am sorry,” Cas breathed, just as Dean uttered, “love you.”

Cas sat up partway to look at him, the dress shirt he fell to sleep in looking adorably ruffled. “You…you haven’t said that before.”

“I know,” Dean sighed, hands on either of Cas’ shoulders. “But I always did, anyway.”

That night, as Cas entered him for the first time and he felt pain fade into an altogether new kind of pleasure, he told himself he was going to stop fearing how much he wanted this to work out and start trying his damn-dest to make sure it would.

/////

3 months later…

You [12:12 PM]: Come to the mall with me tonight. I need help picking out Cas’ birthday present.

Bitch [12:49 PM]: Why the mall? As far as I know, you can’t get fancy honey there.

You [12:51 PM]: I don’t want to explain now. Just do it.
You [12:52 PM]: Or I’m gonna tell Jess about the time you gave that speech in front of your junior high class and farted so bad, they had to evacuate the room.
You [12:53 PM]: Although she has to live with your ass, so she’s probably already aware of the safety hazard.

Bitch [12:55 PM]: Jerk

You [1:00 PM]: Be there at 6.

/////

2 days later…

Sam reached for the phone trying to vibrate its way off the nightstand.

“Is that Dean?” Jessica murmured, already half asleep.

Smiling, Sam turned the screen toward her so she could see the picture of his brother kissing Cas’ forehead while Cas flashed the largest smile Sam had ever known him to wear. It matched the ring on his finger. “Looks like he said ‘yes.’”

Jessica rolled her eyes, “Like there was any doubt of that.”

“I wish…I wish Mom was here for moments like this,” Sam thought out-loud, instinctively picturing the other ring that had caught his eye when he’d been helping Dean pick out Cas’ and how he had secretly gone back to the shop the day after for it. He looked over to his dresser where he knew it was hidden in a pair of socks but made no move to retrieve it. This was his brother’s moment.

“Didn’t you say she had left behind a bunch of home movies or whatever? Maybe you can put together a tribute or something that they can use for the wedding. Have her there in spirit, you know?”

He picked up her chin to kiss her firmly on the lips. “That’s a great idea, Jess! What would I do without you?”

“Crash and burn,” she teased, before rolling over again to sleep.

/////

2 months later…

 “Dean,” Cas said, patting the spot next to him. “You’re stalling.”

“I just don’t know what’s got Samantha’s panties all in a twist. I mean, we’ve had these videos for 20 years but out of the blue he insists I’ve got to watch this one today, right now, otherwise it’s the Apocalypse or some shit.”

“I don’t know Sam’s reasons—and they are not of import to me at the moment. But I would like to know the reason you don’t want to watch them. As you said, it’s been years.”

“I just--” Dean scrubbed his face with his hand, feeling the beginnings of stubble on his cheeks. “I always liked knowing that I had these moments left with her. Once I watch them, I… What if she’s more gone, somehow?”

“I don’t see how seeing her face and hearing her voice again would make her any less present to you,” Cas responded, as kindly and as bluntly as ever. “We can watch only the tape Sam recommended if you want.”

“Let me get a beer first,” Dean insisted. After a short trip to the refrigerator, he finally leaned back on the couch cushions, taking some comfort from leaning his shoulder against his fiancé’s. “OK, let’s do this.”

Cas read his eyes for one last confirmation before he pressed play.

 

It started at a beach, the gold sand and sun complementing the blond woman who sat on a striped beach towel in the middle of the shot.

 

“Your mother was beautiful,” Cas whispered, and Dean could do nothing but nod, realizing the pictures that he had didn’t do her justice. Not when half of her beauty was the way she leaned her head back and looked over her shoulder at the camera, eyebrows raised. She was also heavily pregnant.

 

“And what do you think you’re doing, John?” she asked the person recording.

“Making sure we have a fun movie to watch for when we’re old and have Alzheimer’s.”

 

“What beach was this?” Cas asked as Dean’s parents talked and laughed together and a seagull screeched overhead.

“Don’t know. We used to road trip a bunch. Could be Florida, South Carolina, California…Anywhere really. Your parents ever take you to the ocean when you were small?”

Cas snorted. “No. Although I think a few of my babysitters did. Always felt bad for them having to try to juggle all five of us kids. And really, Gabriel should count double.”

 

“Now hand over the camera,” Mary demanded of John at last. “If you’re going to insist on bringing that thing out where it’s going to get sand and salt spray all over it, I at least want some footage of our son.”

There was a vaguely vomit-inducing transition as the camera was passed from one person to another, but luckily, Mary got it stabilized quickly.

“Dean!” she called out, focusing the video on a four-year-old boy covered in freckles. “Can you wave ‘hi’?” His whole arm, not just his hand, started moving enthusiastically.

“I’m building a sandcastle, see?” he said, gesturing towards three lumps of wet sand close together.

“Very nice,” Mary sounded amused. “Maybe you should look for some seashells for the doors and windows?”

“OK!” Little Dean enthused, already running toward a flash of something a few feet away.

 

“I think I remember this,” Dean told Cas, his voice slightly awed, hearing Cassie’s voice in his head for the first time in forever saying, “What’s your favorite memory?” and he subconsciously leaned forward a little to see the screen better.

 

 “Mom, Mom, Mom!” Little Dean yelled and even though he’d sounded excited the entire video, there was no denying that he seemed extra pleased.

The next thing shown was a dozen or so tiny turtles emerging from the sand, some with flecks of shell still clinging to their heads. “Wow!” Dean murmured, hands resting on his knees as he watched them make their slow way toward the waves.

 

“It’s funny,” Cas remarked. “I think I saw a turtle hatching once. Maybe it was a documentary that I just thought was a memory. Did you know that leatherback turtles lay up to 120 eggs at a time?”

Dean opened his mouth to respond when—

 

A slightly younger black-haired boy suddenly appeared on screen, apparently drawn by Dean’s animated shouts. And something about his blue eyes looked strangely familiar….

 

“That’s not--” Dean started, realizing that Cas was suddenly leaning forward too, an inscrutable expression on his face. He glanced down at the words on his wrist then back to the screen again, nervously.

 

“What you got there?” the new child asked, still a few feet away.

 

Dean looked at Cas’ wrist, his heart trying to get a lifetime of beats into a tenth of a second.

 

“Let me show you!” Little Dean exclaimed, reaching out without hesitation to grab the black-haired boy’s wrist and tug him closer to look at the turtles as they squirmed new lines into the sand. “So cool, right?”

 

And whatever happened next, Dean and Cas didn’t know because it looked like someone had recorded over the tail end of the video with another one—in this case, Mary tucking Dean in at night, whispering “Angels are watching over you,” into his ear right before she turned off the light.

Cas paused the TV.

“Please tell me--” Dean began, blood pumping almost painfully through his veins.

“That was me,” Cas confirmed, looking slightly awestruck.

They passed one moment, then two in silence.

“We’re soulmates, Cas,” Dean whispered, finally letting his smile break into a grin that made him look more like the child he was in that video than Cas had ever seen him look before.

“Apparently, yes.”

“Sure you still want to marry me now that it’s no longer an act of rebellion?” he asked, mostly joking.

Cas rolled his eyes, but let his boyfriend’s arms wrap around his waist—let their breaths mingle. “What have I told you about asking stupid questions?” he asked, lips barely brushing as they spoke.

Dean answered with a kiss.

/////

23 years ago…

“Let me show you!” Little Dean exclaimed, reaching out without hesitation to grab the black-haired boy’s wrist and tug him closer to look at the turtles as they squirmed new lines into the sand. “So cool, right?”

Castiel nodded, enthusiastically. And, a few minutes later, when Dean asked him to help find shells for his sandcastle, he nodded then, too. Green and blue eyes alternated between watching the ground for something useful and watching each-other.

Eventually, John came over to where his wife sat and watched their son play. “It’s amazing how kids can become best friends just like that.”

“I’m just worried he’s going to be upset to leave him. It’s getting pretty late and we’ve got a long drive tomorrow.”

“He’ll get over it,” John told her, placatingly, resting a hand on her swelled stomach.

He had no idea how wrong he was.