Dean ends up getting invested in cleaning up Bobby's old place, which comes as a shock to exactly no one. As it turns out, he does have a thing for building and reconstructing and working to a final product he can be proud of.
It takes time, and it takes scheduling hunting around the project. It also takes a lot of fucking help. Sam actually goes out to help more often than he doesn't, and Eileen generally comes as well. Jack and Cas allow themselves to be put to work. Cas, especially, is a huge help because he's unnaturally strong, no matter how small his grace is. He still has grace, and that makes him stronger than a normal man. Jack flat out refuses to use any abilities he may have as God, and it's kind of hilarious getting to watch him huff and puff through hauling wood. He thinks it's fun, though. He has a great time.
The ladies provide assistance a lot as well. When hunting is especially sporadic and Claire's going stir-crazy, she'll sometimes call Dean asking if he needs any help on the house. Kaia gets very serious about what colors to paint the walls—when they finally get there—and she's surprisingly rigid about the whole process. Dean gives her creative liberty to do some fancy designs on the walls if she really wants to, and this turns into basically no wall in the house being without something a little extra. She's good, though. It's all great to look at, and it makes her happy, and it makes Claire happy to see her streaked with paint and beaming.
Alex doesn't have a whole lot of free time from the hospital, but she always seems to know where to get the best materials and tools, or what company to call when they actually have to get professionals in to help. Patience is back at college again, but she introduces Cas to pinterest for ideas on interior design, and it's quite possibly the worst thing she's ever done because Cas becomes obsessed. Jody and Donna aren't scared to get their hands dirty, and they have a knack for ordering everyone around and telling them what to focus on.
Sometimes, a long day of work can end with people nearly coming to blows. When it's hot out and everyone is tired and aching, they're all volatile enough that it doesn't take much. At one point, Dean and Sam get into an argument so bad that they don't talk to each other for a week. Jody and Claire have an explosive fight that ends with a hole in the newly painted wall and Kaia getting furious with Claire because of it, which results in them arguing and is apparently resolved in ways Dean doesn't want to know the details about, if only by the way Claire's eyes light up when he thinks to ask if they're okay later. Eileen threatens to shoot Cas with a nail-gun when they get into a passive-aggressive argument about, like, roof tiles? Dean doesn't really know, but he takes the nail-gun before Cas can goad her into it, because she will actually do it.
Jack, of course, has a great time the whole time and only gets into muted arguments that pale in comparison to everyone else's. The first time Claire yells at him, tears immediately shine in his eyes and he looks like his hero just turned out to be a villain, and Claire curses, stumbles over an awkward apology, and has to disappear for a little while. When she comes back, she lets Jack do a card trick and lies to say that it is when he asks if the card he's chosen is hers. Cas and Dean firmly stay out of it.
As for them… Well, they get into so many fights that it puts everyone else to shame. Some of the fights are more snipping and bickering than anything else. Others are bad. Really bad. The first fight they get into after getting together is at Bobby's, and they spend the next three days bitching at each other, or alternatively ignoring each other. Cas doesn't come to bed, and Dean refuses to share his coffee, and when they finally break and have angry sex three days later, it's exactly as good as Dean expected it to be. Dean pretty much passes out afterwards, then wakes up to the make-up sex that is a whole helluva lot sweeter with the angry sex proceeding it.
Other times, though, the project is so fucking nice. They'll all get together and sprawl around, drinking and eating. When they get the firepit set up, they have a little bonfire where they all sit around laughing and talking the night away, the stars a blanket above them. They chase each other around with paint, and come together to think up solutions to problems, and the place feels like a home long before it's even finished.
When it is finished, it's definitely something to be proud of. It's not exactly like Bobby's, but Dean is sure the man would have approved of it, even the additions that Cas negotiated for.
That last day is mostly just moving in more furniture and putting the final touches on the place. Cas and Eileen are still at the Bunker with Jack, the three of them having just gotten back from a hunt in Omaha. Sam and Dean had gotten back from one in Kentucky a few days before them, so they're the ones who finish up the house.
Dean tosses the last throw pillow on the couch, because Cas insisted on throw pillows, and then he flops down on it with a gusty sigh. Sam joins him a moment later, staring around the living room.
"You're going to be happy here," he says quietly.
"Yeah," Dean agrees. He glances over at Sam, lips twitching. "You gonna miss me?"
"Absolutely not. I can't wait to be rid of you," Sam replies, and it's a lie. Dean knows it's a lie.
"You and Eileen decide where you wanna go yet?" Dean asks.
Sam purses his lips and shakes his head. "Not yet. We both agreed that staying in the Bunker for a little longer will be fine. We want to clean it up some more before we open it up, you know?"
"We'll help," Dean offers, because of course they will. It's their Bunker, too. Their responsibility. Their home, even, for a very long time.
"Yeah, I kinda figured," Sam says, shrugging a little lazily. "Garth is just waiting on the green light to start letting people know through the grapevine. It'll be faster with more hands."
Dean hums. "We've made some progress."
They have, actually. Outside of this house, they've been cleaning up the Bunker as well. Doing what they can to make it accessible to an amass of people, instead of just four or five. Getting rid of cursed objects, organizing storage rooms, hiding shit people shouldn't touch, sorting out the lore and archives. That's taken a group effort so far, too.
"Yeah. I wonder what Ketch would think. Or Mick. Or, hell, even Henry. Dad's dad," Sam murmurs.
"Fuck 'em," Dean declares, shrugging one shoulder when Sam blinks over at him. "Who fucking cares what any of them think? We're the Legacies around, me and you and Eileen. It's our choice, and this isn't a bad one. Helping people. It's what we do, right?"
Sam's lips quirk up. "Right."
"They're all dead anyway," Dean mutters, fiddling with the tag on the pillow squished up under his arm. "What do they care?"
"You have a point." Sam glances around the room again, pushing his lips from side-to-side like he's thinking pretty hard. He focuses back on Dean a beat later. "I think Bobby would care about this. He'd like it. He'd be proud, you know?"
"Yeah, I reckon he would. Hard not to be, seeing how far we got. That we even ended up living to see all this shit is…" Dean shakes his head, eyes bulging as he blows out a deep breath. "Sam, this might be our crowning achievement, dude. Not even that we defeated God, but that we lived on without him screwing around with our lives."
"I guess the story ends when we say it does." Sam cocks his head a little. "I feel like we need beers to clink together. That's what this moment needs."
Dean snorts. "I don't have beers in the fridge. Got some soda, though. Or juice boxes for Jack."
"I'm not drinking a juice box, Dean," Sam says, heaving himself to his feet.
"Well, shit, bring me one," Dean calls after him, grinning. "Apple juice is the kid's alcohol, Sammy, and it's actually pretty fucking good."
"It has artificial sugar!" Sam shouts back, sounding genuinely appalled by this.
"Don't be a bitch about this, Sam! You used to drink them all the fucking time. You were so weird, too," Dean says as Sam walks back into the room with—ha—two juice boxes. "You liked the orange juice, which was fucked. That shit used to make my eye twitch. But you loved it."
"Orange juice is a good source of Vitamin C," Sam tells him, wiggling his juice box—ah, it's orange juice, that explains it—at Dean pointedly, even as he tosses the apple juice to Dean. "You drink orange juice sometimes."
"Yeah, but not outta the box. Still makes my eye twitch," Dean mutters, wrinkling his nose as he pops the small straw off and opens it, jabbing it down to stick it in. He snorts when he does it, because he has a dirty mind, and Sam looks at him in judgement like he knows exactly what Dean was thinking. "Well? You wanted to clink drinks together. Beers, but this will do. Come on."
Sam rolls his eyes. "I can't stand you."
"Put it there," Dean insists, holding his juice box out, cackling when Sam heaves a sigh and taps them together. "Look at that. A solid moment. Put it in a fucking scrapbook."
Dean grins and sticks the tiny straw in his mouth, sucking on it hard to make that obnoxious gurgling noise. Sam grimaces and drinks his juice much more primly, the small box looking extra small in his big, awkward hands. He looks like an overgrown kid somehow, and Dean suddenly gets a vivid flash of the kid he used to be, all gangly elbows and eyes wide with a hunger for life, stumbling after his big brother with an awe usually reserved for fathers.
For a second, Dean aches for the kids they once were, aches even more for the kid that he never really got to be. Their lives… Sometimes, he doesn't know how to handle the idea of what it could have been, and what it was never going to be.
But they got this now. Dean can't complain. It's more than he ever expected to have.
"I will miss you, you know," Sam says after a while, his eyebrows furrowed.
"I know," Dean murmurs, wondering at the fact that he's going to be the one leaving first when, originally, he thought it was going to be him watching Sam go.
Sam's face pinches together, twisting. "Are you worried? About doing this, I mean. Not even necessarily without me, but...you know, settling."
"Sort of, but not really. It's just another thing I reckon I gotta get used to. This isn't like the first time I tried something close to it. You're still alive and kicking, for one. I'm doing it with Cas, for another. It's gonna be an adjustment," Dean admits, glancing around the house—his house, "but that ain't always a bad thing."
"No, it's not," Sam agrees, taking a deep breath. He lets it out slowly, lips curling up. "I'm happy for you, Dean. For all of us, I guess. But you, for this."
"Bitch," Dean says affectionately, holding out his juice box again, his chest warm.
Sam huffs a quiet laugh and taps their juice boxes together again. He says, "Jerk," like he's telling Dean thank you, even if he doesn't realize it.
Dean has never needed that, and he never will, but he appreciates it all the same.
The first week that Dean "lives" at his own house is pretty much spent entirely at the Bunker. He sleeps one night in the bed with Cas, then they all wake up and drive back to Kansas and spend three nights in their gutted rooms because they keep meaning to go back home, but then they get caught up helping Sam and Eileen clean up. Dean and Cas go back on the fourth night while Jack elects to stay, and then they get up on the fifth day to head right back to the Bunker, where they stay the next two nights.
The second week is a little better. Dean, Cas, and Jack spend two consecutive days and nights at the house instead of breaking it up, as well as an additional night. The third week is an improvement because they spend the first four days in Sioux Falls, then the next three days in the Bunker. The fourth week is where it really sticks, because they all go to the Bunker to help at two different points in the week, but they don't stay overnight.
So, all-in-all, it takes a solid month for it to settle in that they've actually moved out and away.
Surprisingly, Dean's not the only one who struggles with it. Jack complains that his new bed feels weird, and he gets absurdly sad when he looks in the pantry and doesn't see a box of whole wheat pasta. Cas seems to have gone to war with the house itself, like he's not used to the dimensions and placement of everything just yet, so he's walking around in an annoyed state as he continuously bumps his hips and toes into various furniture. Dean spends a lot of time distracting himself in the scrapyard, feeling misplaced somehow, texting Sam every few hours to make sure he hasn't accidentally tripped and split open his skull or something.
Nonetheless, they adjust. They start to get used to it. Jack makes Dean take him to the farmer's market to get healthy foods so he can cook whole-wheat fettuccine with zucchini, and Dean wants to die, except he forces himself to eat every goddamn bite. He texts Sam a picture of it, and Sam replies with a golden-star review of why it looks great and should become a normal part of Dean's diet. It's kind of wonderful that Dean can escape that conversation by simply putting his phone away, and it's also kind of awful, too.
Cas reaches a point where he's glaring at every goddamn table in the house, so Dean goes and smooths down all the edges. Cas bruises now, even though they fade quickly, and he's not exactly happy about being jabbed by the edges of everything wherever he walks. Dean doesn't tell Cas he's doing this. He just does it. When Cas finds out, he tosses the keys to his truck to Jack and tells him, very calmly, to go visit Claire. Jack, completely oblivious, does as he's told, leaving Dean to get fucked over one of the tables, his hands scrabbling for purchase over the edges he smoothed down. Cas, as it turns out, is very grateful for his initiative.
Dean… Well, Dean finds his routine. He enjoys breakfast with Cas and the kid, sharing his coffee, fond of Cas' weird eating habits. He hangs out around the house, and he goes out to tinker with cars, or he goes for a drive. He checks to see if there's a case waiting to be found, or if Garth has anything he knows of. And, at some point, he calls Sam to either check on the status of the Bunker, or to just check in, full stop.
They do go back to the Bunker, but not as frequently. It's strange showing up after spending weeks away, but Dean finds that reunions don't always have to hinge on hard goodbyes. There's a certain kind of relief in knowing that when he leaves, it's not because he can't visit again. He can always visit again.
Sam and Eileen visit the house, too. Often just to get out of the Bunker. Once when they're passing through because they were lucky enough to grab the first hunt that cropped up in a while. Dean almost asks to go with them, but Jody expects them over for dinner the next day, so he skips it. There will be more cases, he knows. There always is.
That becomes very fucking blatant when, not even a week after, everyone everywhere suddenly finds themselves all over the map when the monsters come out of hibernation. Jack goes with Claire and Kaia to somewhere on the east coast, and he doesn't make it back home for nearly a month. Dean and Cas are all over the place, barely getting a goddamn break, and they run into Sam and Eileen unprompted in Michigan.
It's probably one of the most surreal things ever to accidentally show up to the same crime scene as his brother, not even meaning to end up on the same hunt. Dean kinda finds it hilarious, and the four of them end up working it together. They split up after, Dean and Cas heading to South Dakota, Sam and Eileen heading back to Kansas. Both of them going home, going in separate directions.
When they arrive, Dean flops down onto the couch with a groan as he says, "Jesus Christ, it's good to be home," and Cas slumps down next to him with a quiet hum of agreement.
"You called the kid today?" Dean asks, his head tipped back, eyes closed. Cas' hair is tickling his neck, smelling like his shampoo.
"Mhm," Cas confirms. "They've just finished handling a tulpa."
Dean makes a soft ah sound. "Those are rare. You don't often find one of those out in the wild."
"No, I suppose you wouldn't. People don't often believe in things that forcefully," Cas agrees, fingers running up and down Dean's arm. It makes Dean's skin tingle. "Jack says he should be home within the week if nothing else crosses their path. He was driving because Claire and Kaia were exhausted."
"Aw, the kids are all tuckered out from their first tulpa case," Dean teases, lips curling up. "Like baby's first steps."
Cas clicks his tongue. "Don't mock them. Those things were once hard for you and Sam, too."
"Damn right. Ah, the good ol' days." Dean sighs and turns his face into Cas' hair, breathing him in. His heart flips around in his chest when Cas' fingers slip between his, their hands tangling together, holding on. It's still as exhilarating as the very first time. Dean is so pathetic. "No angels, no God, just some regular hunts."
"I thought you'd appreciate the surge of angels in your life," Cas murmurs.
"Only one," Dean drawls, low and sweet, grinning when Cas shifts, breath hitching. It's so easy to make him happy. "Never really cared for most of 'em, but the first… Well, the first one I met, now that's a different story."
"I'm your exception," Cas muses, lifting his head to peer at him from up close, his gaze flicking all over Dean's face, snagging on Dean's lips a few times.
It's so nice to be wanted so openly, and to know it. Dean can't even doubt it, because Cas always looks at him like he's so very happy just to have the chance. Cas touches him like he's never going to get enough of him, like he's being granted a gift because he's allowed. Cas just loves him, unequivocally and unconditionally.
"Cas, you're my happy ending," Dean tells him, secretly pleased when Cas' lips part. "I was never gonna have that without you."
"Oh," Cas breathes out, and it's always so delightful getting to do that to him, getting to shake him up by loving him with the same ferocity that he gives. He looks genuinely beautiful when he's stunned like this. "Oh. Yes, well, come here. Now."
Dean grins into the kiss, letting Cas tug him down on top of him, the both of them situating themselves to get lost in each other for a while. Truly, it's one of Dean's favorite things to do.
And so it goes.
Jack turns up with Claire and Kaia three days later, late at night. They're all so tired that they just find their separate places to rest. Claire and Kaia are additions to breakfast, but not unwelcome ones. They stick around for the day, and Dean finds it incredibly amusing that Claire's about as grumpy as he is when first waking up, barely even managing more than grunts as conversation before her coffee.
For a while after that, cases are spread out. Frequent, but not stretching everyone thin. So many hunters are keeping in contact with each other now, reaching out to one another to give cases away or ask for them, needing a break or something to do.
Dean, Cas, and Jack start going back to the Bunker again, impressed with the progress being made. It's not very long before it's a place that people can start coming to. Sam and Eileen start looking more seriously into where they want to go next.
Five months after Dean, Cas, and Jack officially left, Sam and Eileen find an apartment in Brookings, South Dakota. It's approximately one hour away from Sioux Falls, and Dean busts out laughing the moment that Sam sheepishly tells him.
"Cas! Cas!" Dean shouts from the kitchen, still laughing while Sam sighs from over the phone. "Sweetheart, you're never gonna believe this. Sam and Eileen are moving to Brookings!"
"Oh, that's nice," Cas says, appearing in the doorway. "They'll be so much closer."
Dean grins at him and puts the phone back between his ear and shoulder as he continues cutting the bananas. Donna gave him a fucking fantastic banana pudding recipe, and he's become a little obsessed. It's his second time making it, and it's like the girls can sense it. He caught Claire and Alex raiding his fridge when they stopped by last week, two spoons scooping out bites from the container like a couple of animals. Cas is fond of the vanilla wafers.
"You're just not gonna let me cut those apron strings, are you, Sammy?" Dean chirps, sounding far too happy to really sell the joke, but still.
Sam huffs. "Shut up. The city is nice, okay? Eileen picked out the apartment! It's a college town, too."
"Well, it'll be nice having both of you closer," Dean admits. "Just a hop, skip, and a jump away."
"It's not like you're not constantly bugging me now," Sam mutters, but he's laughing a little.
"That's kinda my job," Dean tells him.
"Retire," Sam says flatly, and Dean can't see it, but he can hear the eye-roll.
Dean pops a slice of banana in his mouth, chewing right into the phone as he says, "Can't do that until I'm dead, I'm afraid. Make your peace with it, 'cause we got a lot of life ahead of us, and I'm gonna bug you every single goddamn day of it."
"Bother Cas. Can't you bother Cas?" Sam complains, except Dean can hear him snorting.
"Oh, trust me, I bother him every chance I get. No one's safe," Dean declares.
"God help us all," Sam mumbles through a laugh.
"Jack's busy right now," Dean replies, and then cracks up when Sam does.
By the time he hangs up, he's finished the banana pudding, and Cas has Gunsmoke up and ready. After finishing True Blood, which had a disappointing ending in Dean's opinion and an alright ending in Cas', they agreed to move onto Dean's choice. Back to cowboys, where nothing lets him down. Cas has bad taste sometimes, liking things that Dean doesn't. Other times, he doesn't, completely agreeing on Dean's opinions of them.
Faith and Fire, the story of Dan and Carl, for example, was something that Cas wholeheartedly agreed with Dean on. They threw the book away when he finished it, and Cas walked around in an odd, desolate state afterwards. Dean had been angry, but Cas? Oh, it had made him sad, and that made Dean angry with it all over again.
Gunsmoke gets mocked much the same way that Bonanza did, but Dean enjoys that anyway. He looks forward to it, to getting to curl up on the couch with Cas and bicker about the show. Some traditions are worth keeping, and this one certainly is.
"Where's Jack?" Dean asks as he flops down on the couch. He tugs the lever that lets it recline out, squirming to get comfortable so Cas can scoot in close to him. They share a blanket, as always.
"In his room," Cas murmurs. "Are you excited about Sam and Eileen moving to Brookings?"
Dean hums. "Yeah, it sounds good. They'll be closer, which is nice. Dunno if they'll stay there forever, though. Eileen likes to move around, remember?"
"I guess we'll see," Cas says. He makes a small, pleased noise when Dean threads their fingers loosely together. "I like the idea of all of us being in the same vicinity."
"Me too," Dean admits, because he does.
Cas strokes Dean's hand with his thumb. "When do you think the Bunker will open to everyone?"
"Sam said in a month, probably. He and Eileen will need help moving again. Gonna need your truck."
They don't talk for a while after that, and when they do, it's to bicker about the show. Dean fiddles with Cas' fingers, wondering if he'll ever get used to this enough to stop being so pathetic about it. Cas still makes his heart jump, still makes a flood of want rush through him, and it's never going to stop. At least Dean's not alone in it.
He wouldn't trade it in for anything else, either.
Dean and Cas get into a fight that pushes Dean out the door and an hour up the road, barging into Sam and Eileen's apartment, cursing up a storm.
Well, he has the decency to knock first, but then he barges in as soon as Sam opens the door and squints blearily out at him. Eileen is on the couch, nearly snoring into her bowl of cereal, her hair a mess all around her head. Dean throws himself down beside her and goes off on a rant that doesn't really do anything other than make them blink at him sleepily. In their defence, it's seven in the morning.
"Did you and Cas wake up fighting?" Sam asks wearily, retrieving his oatmeal when it's done and sitting on the floor like a weirdo, perched half-under the coffee table so he can eat.
"No," Dean snaps.
Sam raises his eyebrows. "Before breakfast?"
"Yeah," Dean admits. "You got more cereal?"
"In the kitchen," Sam says with a snort.
Eileen offers him her bowl. "The good cereal is behind Sam's oats and fruits."
"My cereal is good," Sam protests.
Dean grunts as he leaves them to their stupid, happy domesticity and goes to raid their kitchen. He scowls through making himself some cereal, then scowls through eating it when he returns to the couch. Sam and Eileen don't seem sympathetic to his plight, but they don't kick him out, so that's nice.
"So, want to bet who will swallow their pride first?" Eileen asks cheerfully, a few hours later, fresh from a shower and clearly in a great mood. She's evil. She's so evil, and Sam doesn't even know.
"Oh, it's going to be Cas, definitely. He's stupid about Dean," Sam answers immediately, and dear god, Eileen's evil is infecting him.
Eileen shakes her head. "No, no, it won't be Cas. He's so stubborn."
"Dean isn't?" Sam blurts out.
"I'm right here!" Dean shouts, waving his hands, gesturing to himself in disbelief.
"Well, you can't be a part of the bet, Dean," Eileen says reasonably. "You have control over the results."
Dean signs you are evil, and Eileen grins.
"You probably should swallow your pride, though," Sam points out. "You're not wallowing on our couch waiting for Cas to call you."
"Oh, that's exactly what I'm gonna do," Dean argues, slinking down further into the couch like he can melt into it. "I'm not going home until he apologizes, so he's gotta swallow the pride this time. And I mean that literally. Not as an innuendo."
Sam wrinkles his nose. "Dude, come on."
"Well," Eileen says with a sigh, signing along and shaking her head, "I guess we should get the guest room ready. Dean's going to be here for a couple of days."
"Bullshit," Sam replies, then signs something that looks like he'll crack in an hour, and Dean has no idea if he means Cas or him.
Either way, Dean refuses to apologize first. He's not in the wrong here, not this time. If Cas wants to be stubborn, then fine, let him.
This decision is solid for the entirety of the first day. Dean does not waver. He's in a piss-poor mood and spends all his time refusing to look at his phone, watching action-packed movies with Eileen, while Sam makes stupid fucking goo-goo eyes at her because they're happy and not fighting. Coming here was a terrible idea, but going to Jody's would have been worse, because she would have told him to stop being a dumbass and made him go home with his tail tucked between his legs.
The decision is...less solid when the next day swings around and there are no calls or texts on his phone from anyone other than Jack and Claire. Jack just sends him a string of sad faces. Claire sends him laughing emojis and calls him stupid in precisely five different ways. Dean has to cut his phone off so he'll stop opening up his and Cas' text thread. There's a fucking heart by Cas' contact name, which he can't even remember doing, but it makes his own heart clench in his chest. The last message Cas sent him was I see you with a smiling emoji from when they got separated in a grocery store and genuinely couldn't find each other for a while. Dean hadn't replied because he'd looked up and grinned.
God, he's so stupid.
Nonetheless, he's firm in this decision. He spends the second day in a less pissed-off state, mostly just maudlin at this point. Eileen eats ice cream with him and puts on a string of romance movies that all have sad endings, and Dean realizes she's trying to win the bet. She's terrible, but her ice cream is good.
When he goes to bed in a bed that's not his own and far too empty on the second night, Dean spends a long time just staring up at his phone through the darkness, finger hovering over the call button. He realizes, like a slap to the face, that Cas genuinely makes him pathetic. He fucking misses Cas.
In the end, his phone slips from his grip and smacks him in the face, and Dean sits it aside with a sigh. He turns into a pillow that doesn't smell like Cas, and he groans because his decision is as solid as water at this point. He's not lasting another day, and he knows it. He cannot believe this. He used to be good at things like this. What's happened to him?
The third day is further proof that he's not going to last that long. He's silent through yet another bowl of cereal, and Eileen has stopped trying to do things to win the bet, either because she actually feels bad for him—unlikely—or because she can tell she doesn't need to do anything else. Sam just smacks his teeth, claps him on the shoulder, and shakes his head without saying a damn word.
But, just when Dean is about to crack first, his finger hovering over the call button yet again, his phone starts ringing. He fumbles and drops it, his heart lurching in his chest from the small flash of Cas' name on his screen. Sam's head lifts at the sound, and Eileen's lifts when his does, taking his cues. They both stare at him, amused.
Dean clears his throat and scoops up the phone, answering with a gruff, "What?"
Cas sounds exceptionally pissy when he snaps, "Come home."
"Apologize," Dean says.
"No," Cas replies.
"You fucking asshole." Dean exhales sharply through his nose and pushes to his feet, grabbing his keys out of his pocket. "I'll be home in an hour."
Cas hangs up, because he's horrible. Dean's moving for the door immediately, biting back a grin.
"See?" Sam prompts, watching Dean march by in amusement. "Knew it would be Cas."
"He apologized?" Eileen asks skeptically.
"No," Dean admits. He opens the door, waving a hand carelessly. "He's a dick. 'Course he didn't apologize. Just told me to get my ass home. Anyway, I'll see you both later. Check in if you get a case, or if you plan to stop by."
Dean closes the door on them furiously signing about who, technically, won the bet.
An hour later, Dean's barely got into the house good before Cas is pinning him to the wall, and ya know, Dean's totally okay with that. He appreciates that they can't make up like normal people, that they often find themselves fucking like they're fighting, like a physical continuation of their argument. For one, it's really fucking good. For two, the sex after the angry sex is always so, so soft and sweet, like the physical proof of their apologies.
Anyway, the kid must not be home because Cas rides him on the couch hard enough to make the recliner spring out and have Dean sprawl out backwards. This turns out to be a good thing because it changes the angle and gives them even more room, and their wants are already so brutal by that point, so they barely even slow down. That recliner portion of the couch will always be quicker to slide unlocked without the lever, though, and Dean won't ever fix it because he likes knowing why.
After, Cas drags him to bed and murmurs, "I missed you," into the small space between them, like it's a secret that could ruin something if revealed.
Dean swallows his pride, because he is oh so weak for Cas, and growing weaker by the day. "Sorry I left. I should've come back sooner."
"Mm," Cas hums. "I wasn't wrong, but I am sorry about our argument."
"That's not—oh, fuck you," Dean chokes out on a fond laugh, dragging his fingers through Cas' hair.
"You just did," Cas points out. "Technically."
"Yeah. Yeah, that was nice," Dean agrees with a sigh, eyes fluttering shut. "Give me a nap and a quick lunch, and then you can fuck me for make-up sex. Then all will be right in the world."
Cas releases an amused noise. "Will it?"
"Can't have angry sex without make-up sex soon after it," Dean says reasonably.
"You and your rules," Cas says fondly.
"Shut up. You love me," Dean mutters.
"Yes," Cas agrees, "I do. And you love me."
"The sky is up, and grass is green, and Baby is the best car ever made." Dean peeks down at Cas, who's squinting at him. "I was pointing out other obvious things, since you started it. 'Course I love you. Now, shut up and let me sleep. I've barely got a goddamn wink the last two nights without you."
Cas smiles into his shoulder.
One day, out of the blue, marriage is brought up again. Dean distantly remembers asking to put a pin in the conversation, but the pin is taken out because of none other than Jack.
Cas and Dean are watching a new show that Cas picked out, something to do with witches off of Netflix. They're barely into the first season, but it's pretty good, to be fair. They've been throwing theories at each other throughout the whole episode, and they're only interrupted when Jack comes barreling into the room, looking so damn happy that he could cry.
"What?" Dean asks. "What is it?"
"Claire just told me that Kaia wants me to be her Maid of Honor in their wedding," Jack blurts out breathlessly, nearly vibrating in his excitement.
Dean has never felt so betrayed in his life. "What? No, Claire agrees that marriage is a scam! She's talking about a wedding?"
"Dean," Cas says, exasperated. He rolls his eyes and focuses on Jack. "That's wonderful, Jack."
"Claire says marriage is okay for gay people especially since they went without the right to do it for so long," Jack informs Dean.
"I—" Dean deflates back into the couch a little, sighing. "Yeah, okay, she's got me there. The gay card trumps the scam thing, I'll give her that."
Cas arches an eyebrow at him, then turns back to Jack, smiling. "Have they been talking about a wedding seriously? Are they planning it?"
"Sort of. Claire said that neither of them have proposed yet and probably won't for a while, but they already know how they want the wedding to be. Alex would be Claire's Maid of Honor, and I would be Kaia's. Claire says Jody would walk her down the aisle, and Donna would walk Kaia, and then the father-daughter dance would be with you," Jack informs them in a rush.
"Ah, the—oh." Cas blinks rapidly, clearly startled by that last bit.
Dean snorts. "Oh, that would be a treat, watching you and Claire dance. Ha! Hold on, I'm coming around to the wedding idea."
"Me? Are you certain?" Cas asks cautiously, eyebrows pinching together.
Jack bobs his head. "Mhm. Claire said it's because it only makes sense, and she also said that they can probably bully Dean into dancing with Kaia, since Kaia ran away and hasn't seen—"
"Wait, me?!" Dean cuts in loudly, eyes bulging. Ah, hell no. There's no way. He doesn't fucking dance.
"For Kaia," Jack insists firmly, eyebrows pinching together just like Cas' do when he's about to be stubborn about something. This wedding is clearly very important to him.
Dean opens his mouth to protest again, but Cas pins him with an identical disapproving look to Jack's, and they're actually bullying him. Together. As a unit. He sighs. "Hey, if she wants to subject her toes to that, then fine. But this is all in the distant future, right? Like, I don't gotta think about it too hard just yet, 'cause I am not prepared for dancing lessons. Put me on the Macarena and I'm golden. Anything more sophisticated than that, and...yeah, no."
"Oh, yes," Jack says glumly. "Claire said it's probably years away."
"Well, better than never, I guess," Dean says before he thinks about it, and then Cas sends him a look, and he wishes he never opened his stupid mouth.
"That's true," Jack agrees, perking up, oblivious. He starts backing out of the room. "I'm going to ask if she'll let me do a magic show."
With that, he darts away again, practically skipping. In the resounding silence following his departure, Dean looks down at his and Cas' hands where they're tangled together, their fingers bare. He chews the inside of his lip, and Cas turns to focus on him, the pin fully fucking removed.
"Dean, it's fine. I'm happy with the way things are," Cas tells him.
"I know, Cas, but marriage is just—wait, what? You don't wanna marry me anymore?" Dean blurts out, his head snapping up. He's so surprised by how deeply that thought stings, especially because marriage is just a piece of paper.
Cas blinks at him. He stares at Dean for a long moment, reevaluating. "It's not necessary, no. You were right to say marriage isn't some form of deeper commitment. I feel committed to you completely as we are right now."
"Yeah, but the gays had to, like, fight to get the right to have that tacky piece of paper. I mean, I didn't do any fighting around the time that was going on, outside of monsters and stuff, but I supported the cause, at least," Dean replies weakly.
"And I'm glad that it's possible now," Cas agrees.
Dean huffs. "I thought you wanted to have me in a way no one else has."
"I already do," Cas tells him.
"I—I—" Dean stalls out, suffering through a strong bout of bemusement. How has he gone from protesting marriage to arguing for it? This is some bullshit. He frowns. "M'not saying I don't think marriage is a scam, 'cause I still do, but...but…"
Cas raises his eyebrows. "Did you change your mind?"
"Our rings would clink together when we held hands," Dean mumbles.
"Is that a pro or a con?"
"I don't even know, dude."
"Dean," Cas says fondly, "we can just do the parts that you like. Why can't we just wear rings and tell people we're married, even if we aren't legally? Who is going to argue?"
Dean purses his lips, then sighs. "I wouldn't want a wedding party, you know? Like, with the dancing and vows and suits. Having cake and food sounds good. Some good music. Friends and family. Rings would be—okay, I like the idea of rings."
"We could do all of those things tomorrow," Cas points out.
"It's kind of a big deal," Dean murmurs.
"I thought it was a scam."
"Well, that too."
Cas' lips twitch. "We can be married without getting married, Dean. It doesn't have to be complicated. Though, I wouldn't mind dancing with you."
"You can dance with me right now," Dean grouses, wrinkling his nose.
"Oh?" Cas arches an eyebrow at him, a challenge, and Dean realizes immediately what he just did.
"Okay now, hold up, buddy," Dean says with an awkward laugh as Cas springs to his feet and sweeps over to the stereo that they spent a lot of money on, which has a built-in record player, CD player, and cassette player.
Cas glances over his shoulder with bright eyes, lips curling up. "What do you think? Something we can agree on, obviously. Billy Joel? The Eagles? Ah, yes, I know. You hum this when you're feeling particularly affectionate towards me."
"I don't hum shit," Dean protests, narrowing his eyes, because he's pretty sure he doesn't.
The Eagles come on a few moments later, and Dean raises his eyebrows at the first twang of Love Will Keep Us Alive. Does he hum that? Oh fuck, he is such a sap. And it's such a sappy song, too. A good one, though, he'll admit that.
"Come on," Cas insists, turning back towards him and waggling his fingers. He arches an eyebrow when Dean doesn't budge an inch. "Do I have to marry you to dance with you, Dean? Because, if so, that would be reason enough."
"Fuckin' Casanova," Dean mumbles, feeling very stupid and getting to his feet anyway.
When it comes down to it, though, dancing ain't so bad. It's nothing fancy. They just sway together in the middle of their living room once they get past the initial discomfort of it, and that takes seconds. It's far too easy to sink into each other and hold on.
Dean closes his eyes, lips quirking. Yeah, it's sappy, but it's nice, too. He has a visceral memory of watching Bess and Garth dance in their own home and feeling a sharp yearning hook in his chest. On the outside looking in yet again, never thinking he'd get to have that, not even knowing who he wanted it with, or even if he wanted it at all. And now, here he is, basking in it with Cas.
"Now I've found you, there's no more emptiness inside. When we're hungry, love will keep us alive," croons from the speakers, and Dean finds himself humming along to it as if he does it often, which means he does.
"Hey, Cas?" Dean whispers.
"Hm?" Cas hums, sounding ridiculously content.
"Will you not-marry me?" Dean asks softly, his stomach in knots for no reason, heart thumping loud in his ears.
"Yes," Cas answers instantly, "of course."
Dean exhales shakily and clears his throat, holding Cas' a little closer after that, continuing to sway.
"Hey, you two arrived just in time," Dean declares as Sam and Eileen come sweeping into the house. "The rest are outside getting everything set up for the s'mores. Did you bring the hangers? Because we only had plastic."
Sam holds up a package of—not wire hangers, but actual marshmallow pokers. How fancy of him.
"I tried to tell him that hangers are a part of the s'mores experience, but he didn't listen," Eileen says, reading the expression on Dean's face exactly right.
"Buzzkill," Dean mutters.
"They're specifically designed to hold s'mores together," Sam mutters with a huff. "It's practical."
Eileen's face softens a little, and she bounces up to kiss Sam quickly, backing away and winking at Dean as she says, "You deal with him. I'm going to go find my beloved Cas."
"Still don't think she's a little evil?" Dean asks, amused. He starts gathering the last few bags of marshmallows and graham crackers.
"She's a wonderful person, who has never done anything wrong, ever," Sam announces doggedly, determined that that's the story he's going to stick to. He's biased, clearly.
"If that was the case, I wouldn't like her so much." Dean laughs when Sam rolls his eyes, and they head for the back door in sync. "How was Pennsylvania?"
"Exhausting. The woman who was being haunted fainted when her dead grandmother tossed a perfume bottle at her head," Sam says. "We swung by the Bunker before heading home, though. The hunters tried to feed us. How was Montana?"
"A bitch. The Djinn kidnapped Jack, and of course he didn't interfere and just let it happen. But he's God, so the whole dream-juice didn't work. I don't think I've ever seen a Djinn look that confused in my life," Dean admits, shaking his head as they file down the rickety steps and head for the bright spot of orange where the fire is going.
"Jack was alright, right?" Sam asks.
Dean snorts. "The kid was trying to show him a card trick when we got there. He was fine."
"Sounds like him." Sam huffs a laugh and glances up at the sky when they draw closer to the circle of chairs around the firepit. "It's going to be a clear night. Good for this kind of thing. It always looks so nice on the anniversary, like the world remembers."
"Maybe it does," Dean suggests. "It would kinda have to, right? The day Chuck wanted to end the world and was defeated instead. It's not like we can forget, so why should the world?"
Sam makes a small, gratified noise. "Yeah, I like the idea of that. Just another reason why everything we went through was worth it, I guess. It doesn't really make it okay, but it's still a nice thought."
"Can't have too many of those," Dean agrees, nudging Sam companionably with his elbow before they find their empty chairs next to each other with Cas and Eileen on either side of them.
There's a long process for getting the marshmallows passed around, along with everything else. Claire and Alex poke at each other with the marshmallow pokers until Jody cuts in and calls them off, Donna laughing discreetly behind her hand. Kaia and Jack are completely absorbed in pointing out shapes in the flickering flames, and Patience keeps throwing sticks in to make the shapes shift and change. Eileen and Sam get into a conversation with their hands, her feet propped up in his lap, his arms resting on her legs.
"I don't think I'll like it," Cas murmurs when Dean tries to get him to make s'mores.
Dean makes one for him anyway and cups his hand underneath it, insisting that Cas tries it. He laughs at the long string of melted marshmallow, swiping it away with his thumb. Then, he leans in and kisses the stickiness away, just because he can. As long as Dean will do that, Cas will eat s'mores, so they have themselves a compromise.
The night bleeds on, the smell of woodsmoke and melted sugar and chocolate in their nose, the sound of good conversation and bursts of laughter ringing out into the space around everyone. Dean leans quietly up against the side of his fold-out chair, his arm stretched out so his hand can find Cas' in the dark, their rings clinking together when their fingers tangle.
"You like the s'mores, Cas?" Dean asks him.
"Not particularly," Cas admits, "but I love you."
Dean grins. "Makes all the damn difference in the world, sweetheart. I love you, too."
Cas smiles at him and squeezes his hand. For a long time, they sit right there, basking in the warmth from the flames and the warmth from family. Dean looks around and thinks that this is it. This is what freedom is, what peace is. It's what he wanted, even when he didn't know he wanted anything at all, and he's got it. He has it. It's his, and he gets to keep it.
Today, and tomorrow, and for the rest of his life.