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Happiness is(n't) in the Having

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"Dean."

The angel's smile impossibly brightens, and Dean can already feel his eyes beginning to sting from that one word alone, his name spoken with so much reverence and adoration.

"I have thought very long about what I might say today. And I didn't really get to an answer, because there are just too many things that would be worth saying about you, and I don't want to bore our friends with my List of a Billion Reasons to Love Dean Winchester. They know well enough themselves. But you..." Cas sighs, but it's not a sad sigh exactly, just a knowing one. 

"You don't. You will never be able to comprehend the depth of what you've done for me, Dean. Even I find it hard to grasp sometimes. It's beyond description, beyond anything that I might be able to repay. But I will try anyway." He pauses for a second, furrowing his brow adorably. "The describing and the repaying, that is", he then adds for clarification, and Dean feels a giddy chuckle bubble out of his chest, mixing with those from their forgotten audience. 

"You gave me freedom", Cas continues seamlessly, and it's a miracle to Dean how he manages to mix the gravitas of his tone with the light smile displayed on his face. "You gave me a voice, a purpose. You gave me a family and a home. You gave me a life, Dean. You taught me how to feel, how to care, how to love. And I intend to spend the rest of my life showing you all that I've learned." 

Cas lifts a hand to his face and wipes at his cheek, and dammit, Dean didn't even notice he'd started crying until one of the tears catches on Cas' thumb.

"You're my guidance and my direction", Cas says, hand lingering on his cheek, "you're my bravery and my strength. You're my protection, my safety, my shelter. You're my home. When we met, you were my mission, my charge. But you became so much more. You became everything.

"And it didn't need fate", Cas says, and Dean shakes his head against the angel's palm in confirmation, "the only thing I ever needed to love you was your permission. You're not my destiny. But you're my future. You're the future I chose, the future I keep choosing, every day."

The hand finally sinks from his face, but only to join with the other, taking both of Dean's hands in a comforting embrace.

"I love you how no angel has ever loved another being, and all I can do is thank you for accepting that love, and giving yours in return. And I promise that I will treasure it, cherish it, and never take it for granted, just as I will treasure and cherish you. I'll go with you, watch over you, and love you. Because I do. I love you, Dean. More than you will ever know."

It takes Dean a moment to realize that Cas has finished, and another to pull himself together enough that hopefully his voice will be reasonably steady for his own speech. He would wipe the tears from his cheeks but knows there's no use, and when Cas tries to free a hand from where they're clasped together between them, assumably to do the same thing, Dean stops him instinctively by gripping tighter, holding onto him like a lifeline. 

Touching Cas has always been grounding, and it's no different now. He closes his eyes for a second, feels the warm skin of the angel's hands in his, breathes. 

Then he finally opens his eyes, and opens his mouth. And it's so easy. There's no one there, there's only Cas and the love in his eyes, and the words flow like the waterfalls Dean can envision in those blue depths. 

"Heya, Cas..."

"Hello, Dean", Cas says, apparently unable to help himself, making Dean smile. 

"How do you even begin these sort of things?" 

Cas smiles wryly, shortly squeezes Dean's hands in understanding, comforting him already through such little, insignificant things, telling him he knows of Dean's struggling, that it's okay, and is it possible to die from your heart swelling with too much love?

"Look, there's nothing I could say that's half as romantic as the stuff you came up with, but...I just-" He trails off, needs a second to just look at him, take him in, let it settle that they're here, that he's here with Cas. 

"I'm just so damn grateful, Cas", he hears himself say then, not sure if it's the words he wrote on a piece of paper beforehand or simply words his heart is writing for him right this moment. "I know it's a frickin cliché line, and- and I probably shouldn't be swearing so much during this, should I?" He shakes his head to himself, Cas' smile widening. "Well. What I'm trying to say is...I never thought I'd be here. I never thought I'd get married, ever, I never thought I'd even live to get married, let alone find someone who...who I would want to spend the rest of my life with. Someone who can actually be part of this life, my life. Someone who gets that, gets me, and wants to be with me anyway. Someone who's It for me."

And who would ever have thought that that someone would even exist, let alone turn out to be an angel, gripping him tight and raising him from perdition, among other things.

"And Cas, you're It. You know that, right?"

Cas presses his lips together and nods, coaxing another giddy smile out of Dean.

"I didn't, for a long time", he says truthfully. "I didn't because...I didn't know what it's like to find something...to have something that's good, and just for me. I never had anything that was only mine, and certainly not good things. The ugly bits, the messy parts, the stuff that makes people leave...those were for me, because of me. And even you..."

He sighs, sad yet grateful that these times are behind them, that he can look back at it now, the broken road they've wandered for so long, never knowing it led them straight to each other.

"I didn't know, didn't trust you to stay, so I made you leave. But you never wanted to, you just didn't think you were wanted back. But I wanted you. I've always wanted you, Cas. When you were up in Heaven, being an angel, when you became human, God I wanted you. I just never knew how to say it, didn't know how to make you ask.

"We know how to save each other, have saved each other in so many ways, and I don't just mean from perdition, you fucking drama queen." He grins when Cas laughs a breathy laugh, strangled by the happy tears in his voice. "You have saved me from myself, my anger, my fear that all I'm worth is a means to an end. And I think...I think I know it now, Cas. Because you told me. You taught me who I am. And isn't that quite a thing? Because I am who I am...because of you. And I know what you're gonna say", he continues quickly, a hint of amusement in his voice when he spots the furrowed brow he knew would appear at his words. "But it's true. I know it's true. When you said all those...impossible, beautiful things to me and I- I just thought...how can he not know? How doesn't he know that he changed me too? Loving you has changed me too, Cas. There's good in me - care, and love, and you've helped that come through."

He lifts one of Cas' hands to his lips, presses a kiss to his knuckles, just because he feels like it, just because he can.

"The first time we met you told me that good things do happen, and ever since you've gone on and on showing me that you're the very best thing that could ever have happened to me. You taught me that it's okay to want things, that I can have them, and I can't wait to spend my life waking up every morning, wondering how I got so damn lucky to get the one thing I never thought I could have." 

His fingers thread with Cas', tightening, searching for hold, calming and connecting, and maybe Cas needs that securing touch just as much as he does right now.

"Your first touch saved me, Cas. And I've gone on too long denying myself, us, that touch again. But not anymore. I love you and I- I-..." He lets himself get lost in the look on Cas' face, something he simply couldn't describe as anything but awe, and he didn't think it was physically possible to love that man more than he already does, but the overwhelming wave of emotion that hits him says otherwise. Dean shakes his head to himself, a giddy sort of disbelief curling his mouth upwards and making him chuckle at the impossibleness of this moment, the unreal amount of perfection that is personified in front of him.

"I..." He drives a hand over his face, grins up at Cas. "I hope we can get through with this quickly because I really wanna kiss you right now."

Cas laughs, happy and carefree, and it's a sound Dean knows will haunt him, burned into his memory, stored away as one of the most precious things his life had to offer. 

"Oh dear..." Rowena wipes at her eyes, careful not to disrupt her artistically applied make-up. "That was...certainly something now, wasn't it." She clears her throat, attempting to chase the hoarseness away all the held-back tears have caused. "I don't believe anyone will mind if we just jump to the important bits...You poor boys really have been waiting long enough. As have the rest of us." She gives them a playfully scolding glance, smirking when Dean raises a warning eyebrow. "Do you have the rings?"

"Oh, yeah." Dean turns with a grin, kneeling down, facing the chair Sam is sitting on. "Come here." He pats his hand against his thigh and the dog lying next to his brother's chair immediately jumps up, wagging his tail as he follows Dean's call, carrying two silver rings that are placed on a cushion in his snout (yeah it's super cheesy, and yeah Dean has spent an unreasonable amount of time training Miracle to carry that cushion. Sue him.)

"Good boy." He takes the rings and quickly combs his fingers through the tousled hair behind Miracle's ears before sending the dog back to Sam and getting up, handing Cas one of the rings - the one with a sliver of a blue glow to it, the one meant for Dean. Cas hasn't seen the rings yet, Dean wanted to keep them as a surprise up until the very end, and maybe he shouldn't be so nervous about that now, surely there's no chance Cas won't like them (he'd probably tell Dean he'd like anything just because Dean chose it), but the way Cas' eyes first widen and then water visibly when he takes in the ring Dean places in his palm fills Dean with a warm fuzzy sense of pride. 

When Cas looks up at him, there's a clear question in his eyes, several actually, things like Did you- and How- And something that is just Oh, Dean..., and Dean can't wait to hear all these spoken in the angel's warm voice, but they'll have time for all that later, so he lets his own gaze say as much. 

The ring's warmth and weight are comfortable and familiar when Cas finally puts it on Dean's finger (he's not gonna admit to any particular number of times he might have slipped it on every now and then since he got it), and when he does the same to Cas, his hands are only mildly trembling. Rowena wastes no time announcing them to be husbands (by the power given to her by...well, herself) and if Dean's silly heart makes a huge leap in his chest at that word, nobody needs to know. 

He's not sure they even waited until she finished the sentence before they're already kissing, the cheering from their friends fading away to background noise as he loses himself in Cas' mouth moving against his, too caught up in the moment to feel conscious about the fact that some of them have never actually seen them do as much as holding hands before. All he can concentrate on is controlling the smile that keeps forming on his lips, almost too big to deepen the kiss - almost, you gotta set your priorities (...straight or whatever). They can taste the tears on each other's lips, but they're hardly the only ones crying (Crowley in particular has been violently sniffing into a black silk handkerchief for some time now).

 And all the while there's a hand pressing into Dean's lower back, a hand with a ring he imagines to feel even through the fabric of his suit jacket. 

~oOo~

The day goes on and everything is so much more perfect than any of them could have dreamed. If the Empty hadn't already tried to take Cas, it certainly would have now, for he can't think of a single moment in his life when he was as happy as he feels today. 

Dean is smiling and carefree, chatting with their friends, eating wedding pie (because of course that's what Sam ordered), laughing about Sam's and Eileen's speeches, accepting wedding present (Rowena's present isn't to be further specified here, but it might give you an idea of its contents to say that to Dean's great embarrassment -and Rowena's great amusement- it comes with a note that says Congrats on Reaching 5th Base)

He's clearly thriving in the midst of his family, that special group of people the Winchesters had assembled over the years, and Cas is indescribably grateful to be one of them, grateful for every single person present for making Dean smile the way that he does. Because it's one of the biggest lessons they'd both had to learn: If you feel drained around someone, they're not for you. And all the love Dean had given to the wrong people...maybe it's finally finding its way back to him.

And all the while Dean barely lets go of Cas' hand, tugging him along wherever he goes. Needless to say that Cas is just too willing to follow. 

I'll go with you, he'd offered countless time. And finally, Dean lets him.

~oOo~

The sun has made its way across the sky for the last couple of hours without them noticing, slowly cooling the air to a pleasant temperature after a day bathed in the warm rays. Before Cas knows it he realizes that it will soon begin to set.

He turns from where he's standing with Claire and Kaia at one of the round tables scattered over the meadow, looking around for Dean who had been gone for some time now after announcing he'd just quickly get something fresh to drink. He should be back by now, Cas just thinks when his as well as all their guests' attention is drawn towards the lake where a small stage has been set up. Until now its only purpose had been to accommodate Dean's old musical equipment, providing them with a pleasant background melody hoovering over everything, enough to set the right atmosphere, yet so subtle it didn't hinder any conversation.

When Cas looks over to it right now though, his eyes widen in surprise. Dean is standing there, a microphone in hand that he clutches just a bit too tightly, looking as if he might faint any moment. 

"Hey, there." Dean smiles nervously, playing with the mic's cable. 

"I...ah. I got a little something I'd like to say and...Not another boring speech, don't worry!", he promises, smirking when he's met with laughter, a bit of the usual cockiness coming through. "Sam covered that one already."

"Hey, I was hilarious!", comes the affronted answer from somewhere behind Cas, making him and everyone else chuckle.

"Yeah, whatever, man."

Dean rubs a hand over his neck, suddenly shy again, more so than Cas can remember seeing him since they got through their first couple of 'chick-flick' moments.

"Anyway, so...I'm just gonna...yeah." He straightens the mic cable that doesn't need straightening, lowers his eyes to order his feet next to the mic stand, clears his throat. When his gaze comes up again it searches the crowd, the hint of a smile curling the corner of his mouth when he finds who he's been looking for. 

"Cas." Dean's eyes are fixed on him and Cas' heart skips a beat. "This is for you."

He turns shortly to gesture for the music to start, and as soon as the first notes fill the air, Cas feels like he's floating. He would recognize that melody anywhere, has been listening to it countless times, and it's one of Cas' favourite songs, one of the songs he didn't even think Dean would remember. (He'd given Dean a mixtape of his own (Sam helped him with it), but he hadn't been able to resist and made it Cas' Top 13 Taylor Swift Traxx. And even though this song isn't part of it, it's so perfect he doesn't even mind it's not one of the Taylor Swift songs.)

Dean has closed his eyes as he stands there on the stage, breathing, and as soon as he opens his mouth and the first words float through the air, Cas is lost. It only takes seconds for him to be hit by the familiar wave of emotion it has always caused to well up in him, only stronger, heavier, because this is not only a song he associates with Dean, it's Dean singing that song, for him. 

What would I do without your smart mouth?
Drawin' me in and you kickin' me out
You've got my head spinnin', no kiddin'
I can't pin you down

Cas' feet start moving of their own accord, watery eyes never leaving Dean, drawn towards him by that invisible string that has always been there between them, held, connected, bound. 

What's goin' on in that beautiful mind?
I'm on your magical mystery ride
And I'm so dizzy, don't know what hit me
But I'll be alright

He's moving through the group of people like in a trance, barely aware who or what he passes, solely focused on that one point in the universe, that one man his own universe has long been built around. 

My head's under water, but I'm breathing fine
You're crazy and I'm out of my mind

And just as he reaches the front, Dean chooses to open his eyes, green meeting blue, and he smiles, freezing Cas' feet to the ground, unable to do anything but stare, stare and listen. 

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I'll give my all to you
You're my end and my beginnin'
Even when I lose, I'm winnin'

There can be no doubt that these lyrics are more than just words to them, that Dean has not just chosen this because he knew Cas liked it. He means them as he sings them, just like Cas has meant them every time he listened to it and thought of Dean. Cas can hear their reality in his voice, can see it in his eyes, in the way he stands, in the way he breathes. 

Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you, oh-oh

This is not just a gesture, it's not a message, not even a promise. It's truth.

And Cas wouldn't be able to say it's really a conscious decision that drives him to do what he does next, it just happens, an instinct, a desire, a need, and before he knows it he's opened his mouth, sings out the words he knows by heart as he makes his way towards the stage. (It's Dean's turn to stare now, microphone suspended in mid-air, his mouth already open and ready to form the next line, but instead he finds himself silenced, watches in amazement how Cas climbs the steps of the stage, never breaking eye contact.)

How many times do I have to tell you?
Even when you're crying, you're beautiful too
The world is beating you down, I'm around
Through every mood

You're my downfall, you're my muse
My worst distraction, my rhythm and blues
I can't stop singing, it's ringing
In my head for you

And then Dean seems to have overcome his first surprised shock, his eyes no less awed, mouthing along with the lines Cas is singing to him, for him. 

My head's under water, but I'm breathing fine
You're crazy and I'm out of my mind

And Cas can see Dean's eyes glistening now that he's up close, can see in the way he sets his jaw that he prepares to take over again as it goes into the chorus, but the lyrics never leave Dean's mouth, or maybe they do, simply swallowed up by Cas desperately pressing his lips to Dean's. He thinks there might be cheering somewhere nearby, but his head can't care whether it's there and where it comes from. He can't even be sure the world around them still exists at all. Because despite the first surprise Dean is kissing him back eagerly, arms coming around to circle him protectively, just lets the song play on in the background even when they break the kiss, leaning their foreheads together and breathe, laugh, smile, breathe. Cas presses his mouth to Dean's cheeks, dries the tear stains with his lips, whispers thank you in his ear. 

Dean doesn't say anything, but he doesn't need to, the fact that he follows Cas when he pulls him off the stage and onto the dancefloor is enough, how he instantly falls into the slow swaying rhythm Cas sets to the ongoing melody, how he holds him tight, rests his chin on Cas' shoulder. And just as the song enters the bridge, Cas can hear the faint murmer of whispered words next to his ear, quietly sung to him and him alone, a private moment of intimacy even though they're still surrounded by people (people who've been watching them with tears in their eyes this whole time). 

Cards on the table, we're both showing hearts
Risking it all, though it's hard

Cas closes his eyes, not caring if the tears start falling again and dampen Dean's suit where he buries his face in his neck, lets his body and mind go numb to everything that isn't Dean's warmth and Dean's voice. 

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I'll give my all to you
You're my end and my beginnin'
Even when I lose, I'm winnin'

'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you.

~oOo~

"Look at that."

Cas lets his gaze wander over the lake that glitters in the sunset, the cool breeze a pleasant feeling against his skin. The woods are calm and beginning to turn grey around them, here on the bench they snuck away to, eager to finally escape the hustle of their wedding celebrations and have a moment to themselves. The music and chatter are muffled in the distance, a quiet reminder of the joy this day has brought, and keeps bringing.

"It's beautiful."

"Yes, it is," Dean says where he's sitting next to him, but when Cas turns his head, the hunter's eyes are fixed on him, not the play of light and colour in front of them. He can't help but roll his eyes with a fond smile, turning his own attention back to the sunset they explicitly came here to watch. (Not that he would disagree with the sentiment that the man next to him is far lovelier to look at, but he'll have plenty of time learning every single one of Dean's features he hasn't memorized already, of that much Cas is finally certain.)

Dean, on the other hand, suddenly doesn't seem to be keen on admiring the wonders of nature. Or of letting Cas do it in peace. For soon enough the angel feels how Dean draws his nose up his neck, nuzzles it into his hair, places a kiss behind his ear, on his pulse point, making Cas shudder. 

"Dean." He's barely doing anything, Cas is well aware of that, and yet this is more than mildly distracting. "What are you doing?"

"Nothin'." Dean's voice is hushed and low, a warm breath of air right next to Cas' ear. "Just enjoying the view."

"You should be watching the sunset, Dean", Cas says (presses out), aware how weak his protest sounds, cursing himself when Dean's teeth scrape his earlobe and his own eyes flutter closed involuntarily. 

"Mhm." Dean hums, trails kisses over his cheek to the corner of his mouth, the vibration doing nothing for Cas' self-control. When he reaches his lips, Cas finally breaks, turns his head enough to kiss him properly, ignoring the self-satisfied smirk that forms on Dean's lips. 

"There." Dean smiles at him when he breaks the kiss, green eyes fixed firmly on Cas'. "Best view I've ever seen." He grins seductively, earning him a huff.

"You're impossible", Cas says scoldingly, unable to hide the amused smile though, and Dean smirks.

"Impossibly in love with my husband." 

He chuckles when Cas playfully punches his shoulder, rubbing the patch for dramatic effect, yet when his eyes find Cas' again, the angel is serious, calm, smiling. 

"Husband", Cas repeats slowly, his tongue wrapping around the word as if he were trying to actually taste it. "I could get quite used to that."

He kisses Dean again, deep and unhurried, before placing an arm on the backrest behind him, his fingers grazing the hunter's shoulder as they look out over the glittering water that reflects the colours of a sky painted in yellows and pinks.

There's a moment of silence while they watch the sun sink lower, more than halfway disappearing at the horizon, the last rays of light that mark the end of a perfect day, the beginning of a perfect life. 

"Are you happy, Cas?"

It's been right here on this bench that Dean had asked him that, barely a year ago in fact, yet it feels like a different lifetime. Cas hadn't known what to say, then. He knows now.

"Yes", he answered without a thought, not a moment's hesitation. "Yes, I am. Very much."

"Good." Dean smiles, Cas knows that he smiles, even without having to look. "Me too."

He lets his arm fall, sneaks it around Dean's waist to pull him closer and into his side, delighted to find that Dean instantly melts into him, wiggling a bit lower on the bench so he can place his head on Cas' shoulder. Cas' cheek settles on his head as they look out into the world, their world, a world that's safe and beautiful. 

And no, happiness is still not in the having. 

It's in the saying, in the being. It's in the giving.

And the having, the having is a gift.