It was 6 p.m. Chipotle rush-hour and Castiel had his drink cup halfway to his mouth as he squinted at a guy currently ordering two burritos.
“Hey, are you listening to me?” Hannah asked from across the table, throwing a chip at Castiel’s face.
“Where do I know that man from?” Castiel responded, eyes still on the guy.
“What man? Striped tank top?”
“Hmm,” Castiel hummed.
The guy had shaggy light brown hair and broad, freckled shoulders that tapered down into a perfectly trim waist. When he turned to the side to walk down the burrito line, Castiel swept his eyes along his handsome profile and down his tall frame, blinking at the square-shaped muscles of his bare thighs in a pair of slightly-too-short cuffed jean shorts.
“Oh. That’s. That’s what’s-his-name,” Hannah said unhelpfully. “You showed me a picture of him on Facebook one time.”
Castiel’s memory clicked into place. “Dean. He’s a CNA—no, a therapist. At that SNF I do PRN for every once in a blue moon.”
“Every once in a what?”
“Is that not still the phrase?” Castiel frowned. “I’ve only been to that building a couple of times, is what I mean.”
“Right,” Hannah said. “You’ve never even spoken to him, have you? You just showed him to me because you thought he was good-looking.”
Castiel was still staring at Dean. At his backside, more accurately, because he was paying for his food. In addition to the burritos, he ordered a bag of chips and queso and a side of guacamole and one drink.
When Dean turned away from the register, his eyes landed on Castiel and he smiled and winked before Castiel had time to look away.
“Jesus,” Hannah exclaimed, which for her meant that she raised her voice the smallest amount. “Why did he just do that to you?”
“He caught me staring. And now he’s walking over here, Hannah, why is he walking over—”
“Hi,” Dean said with a toothy grin down at Castiel.
“Um. Hi,” Castiel replied.
Dean’s smile fell; he blinked. “What?”
“What I meant to say is I’m Castiel.”
Dean recovered easily, moving his takeout bag and drink to his left hand so he could dig a piece of paper out of his back pocket with his right. He held the paper out to Castiel with it caught between the sides of his index and middle finger. His nails were clear and shiny, manicured.
“Give me a call sometime, Castiel,” Dean said seriously. “And by ‘sometime’ I mean ideally in the next 20 minutes.” He winked again and walked away.
Castiel watched him for a few seconds before looking down at the paper in his hands. It was a business card with “DEAN WINCHESTER” in black text on white background and a phone number in smaller type underneath. Nothing else. Castiel flipped the card over and then held it up like it was wasted time incarnate.
“If he wants you to call him in 20 minutes, that probably means he doesn’t have plans with someone else. He also only got one drink. You don’t want to spend time with a man who’s going to eat two burritos in the next 20 minutes,” Hannah reasoned.
“I’m sorry, am I missing something?” Castiel gestured to the business card. “Is this a normal thing people are handing out now?"
Hannah squinted at it. “If they’re hoping to get a date during their five-minute trip to Chipotle, then yes, maybe.”
Castiel stared at the card another few seconds and then pocketed it before returning to his meal.
Hannah said, “So, are you going to call him?”
Dean lived in a townhouse five minutes away from the Chipotle. They lived in a crowded city, but not so crowded that a single man couldn’t afford a two-bedroom townhouse by himself.
Castiel parked his truck next to a black behemoth of an old car. A tall man came out of the townhouse attached to the right of Dean’s and offered Castiel a curt nod as he walked toward a red Subaru. Castiel waved, and the man stopped in his tracks.
“Are you here to see Dean?” he asked loudly.
“Um, I’m not sure how that’s any of your business,” Castiel replied as politely as his impatience would allow.
The guy ran a hand through his long hair. “Sorry. I’m Sam, his brother. Are you his new Thursday?”
Sam’s eyes widened. As he stammered out an apology, a small pale woman with dark hair walked outside and moved her hands toward Sam in what Castiel belatedly realized was sign language. Sam moved his hands furiously in response, then both of them walked in a hurry to their Subaru.
If only Castiel knew sign language.
He waited for two minutes after knocking before Dean swung the door open, Chipotle cup in his hand and mouth full of food.
“Sorry,” Dean said. “Come on in, make yourself at home.”
Dean’s house was suspiciously clean. No artwork hanging crooked, no speck of dust on the kitchen counter. There was sufficient furniture that looked cozy and worn in, but no clutter. Even the bookshelves that took up an entire wall of the living room, filled floor to ceiling with books, were neatly organized with the pages of the books facing out instead of the spines. A wall full of off-white paper. Castiel surreptitiously tipped one of the more used-looking hardcovers out at random: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. He pushed it back in.
“Was your friend OK with you ditching them?” Dean asked as he stood at the kitchen counter finishing his food. Hannah was right: all of it was for him and he was halfway through his second burrito now.
“She’s my roommate, so yes, I just took her home before coming over here,” Castiel replied. He stayed in the living room and continued carefully tipping books, finding mostly sci-fi and fantasy.
“Roommate? Dude, how old are you?”
“Ignoring the judgment in your tone, I’m 37.” Lord of the Rings, of course. Parable of the Sower, surprising.
“OK, and why the hell do you have a roommate?”
Castiel rolled his eyes. “I enjoy their company. Why do you have business cards to hand out to random men at Chipotle?”
Dean took his last bite and crumpled up his wrapper, then threw all of his trash in the garbage and immediately reached for a dish towel and wiped down the counter. He said, “It’s a whole lot easier than the ‘let me put my number in your phone, how do you spell your name? I never remember how to add a contact blah blah blah’ bullshit.”
Castiel just stared at him.
“So, you wanna watch a movie or something?” Dean suggested.
“Is that why you invited me over? To watch a movie?”
Dean hid a burp behind the back of his hand and used his other hand to very obviously pop the button of his shorts. “Yeah, I just wanted to hang out. You’re hot, and you clearly think I’m hot, so.” He shrugged.
“Why...why did you just unbutton your shorts?”
“Because they’re so fucking tight, dude.” Dean fidgeted uncomfortably, pressing a hand to his impossibly flat stomach. “I get so hungry after working out, but then, like, I can’t fit into my clothes, you know?”
Castiel did not know. “I’m sorry, I’m not sure why I’m here. I should go.”
“Whoa, hey, hey, no. I’m in that Chipotle all the time, so if you leave now, it’s gonna be so awkward next time I see you there.”
Castiel visibly relaxed. It would be awkward if they ran into each other at work, too, but he’s not about to tell Dean that he knew him from the brief glimpse he’d gotten of him at work a month ago, when Castiel was coming in for second shift and Dean was heading out the door for the day.
“OK,” Castiel conceded. “One movie.”
It took them 45 minutes to pick out a movie, as they argued over what genre to watch while Dean clicked recklessly among his many streaming services on his too-big TV. They settled on The Devil Wears Prada because Castiel had never seen it before and Dean insisted that it was the linchpin of Meryl Streep’s career and “trust me, I’ve seen all of her movies, Cas.”
Castiel allowed the first 10 minutes of the film to pass in silence before he asked a plot-related question. Dean answered not just the basic question but included behind-the-scenes trivia and background information about the actors.
So Castiel continued asking questions when appropriate and learned more about the movie from Dean than from the movie itself. Castiel grew quiet toward the end, and Dean shifted positions on the couch, lying sideways and resting his head in Castiel’s lap. He ran his fingertips over the fabric of his jeans, up and down his thigh, and Castiel settled a hand near Dean’s bony hip.
After a few more minutes, Dean’s hand slowed, then stopped. His breathing evened out, then a light snore overtook him. Castiel finished the movie then carefully retrieved the remote and clicked on a documentary he’d been meaning to watch. He sat perfectly still and let Dean sleep.
Half an hour into the documentary, Castiel felt himself drifting. He turned the TV off and pressed a hand to Dean’s shoulder, gently rubbing him awake the way he would to a patient to administer their meds in the early morning.
Dean startled, huffing a sleepy snort and lifting from Castiel’s lap like a cat. “What—where—"
“Sorry, Dean. I’m leaving,” Castiel said quietly. “I have to work first shift tomorrow, so I should get home.”
“Oh. Yeah, OK.” Dean tried to sit up but only made it to his elbow. His eyes were half-closed. “Hey, wait. This was fun, right?”
Castiel smiled softly at him. “Yes, this was fun.”
“OK. Good.” Dean reached up then and fumbled a bit before cupping Castiel’s cheek and pulling him down for a kiss.
Castiel made a surprised noise in the back of his throat and nearly lost his sitting balance. The kiss only lasted about three seconds before Dean pulled away, looking just as sleepy as before.
“Ugh, I guess I should lock the door after you,” Dean grumbled, laboriously getting to his feet.
Taking his lead, Castiel stood and walked robotically toward the door. Dean only said, “Night, Cas” before Castiel was standing outside, alone, wondering what the hell had just happened.
Dean knocked incessantly on Sam’s door for 30 seconds before it swung open to reveal the bitchiest of faces.
“Buy your own damn creamer, Dean,” Sam complained as Dean walked right past him and set his travel mug on the kitchen counter.
He pulled the creamer out of the fridge and dumped a generous portion into his coffee. “I can’t afford the calories, dude. C’mon.”
Eileen walked in wearing her pajamas and signed, “You’re here almost every morning. You’re not saving any calories.”
“Yeah, but I always tell myself I’m gonna stop,” Dean said before taking a long drink of his now calorie-rich coffee. “I’m three months out from Mykonos, I gotta get a fucking grip.” He pulled at the waistband of his scrub pants. “I swear these fit better, like, a week ago.”
Sam threw his head back and sighed. “Oh my god, your life is so hard. Get out of my house.”
Eileen said and signed, “Did you get a new Thursday? We saw a man coming in last night.”
Dean looked down at his coffee cup to hide his blush. “Uh, yeah.”
“Dean,” Eileen said loudly. “Can’t see what you’re saying.”
Dean looked up, mumbled an apology and started signing. “I didn’t ask him if he wanted to hang out again, but yeah, his name’s Castiel. Met him at Chipotle.”
“Did you give him a business card?” Sam asked.
“Oh, so now you’re interested in my life.”
“Well, did you?” Eileen asked.
Dean winked at her and nodded.
“Gross,” Sam said. “And in case I haven’t been clear enough in my opinions about your lifestyle, let me reiterate: gross.”
“Eileen, how could you be married to such a homophobe?”
“You’re not gay, Dean,” Eileen replied. “If anything, he’s a whore-a-phobe.”
Dean high-fived her on his way out the door.
The sun was just rising when Dean pulled into work. The only other therapist who got there as early as Dean was Charlie, a speech-language pathologist who charmed the kitchen staff into giving her individual breakfast trays as early as 6 a.m. so she could work with half a dozen or so of her feeding patients before lunch. She was standing at a rolling table in the therapy gym, typing on her laptop, and she pointed toward the desks lined up on the far wall when Dean came in.
“Thank you, sweetheart,” he said as he picked up his schedule from the desk. He looked at the names and continued, “Oh Christ, Bobby is back on. That old man just refuses to die.”
Charlie snorted a laugh. “His hundredth birthday is next week, don’t forget.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Dean mumbled as he shoved his lunchbox in the fridge.
“How was your empty Thursday? Did you die of loneliness?” Charlie asked, eyes still on her laptop.
“No.” Dean pulled his own laptop out and also stood at a rolling table, directly facing Charlie. They were the only therapists that didn’t use the stationary desks. “I met a guy, actually.”
“What? How? You left at, like, 3 yesterday. Oh, no. You picked up a guy at the gym. Dean, you said you wouldn’t pick anybody up at the—”
“No, I met him when I was getting takeout after the gym.” Dean bit his bottom lip. “We didn’t fuck.”
Charlie blinked up at him, staring for a few seconds. “What?” she asked.
“I don’t know. You know, I went through the usual routine, suggesting a movie or whatever, sitting close, clearly not intending to actually watch a movie, you know the drill.” He nervously took the headband off his wrist and pushed it up into his hair, getting the shaggiest part of it out of his face. “And then we, uh, watched a fucking movie. I fell asleep.”
“Aww, that’s so cu—”
“No, fuck off. I jerked off in the shower this morning like some kind of incel.”
“OK, first of all,” Charlie started. “I still don’t believe that you actually have sex seven days per week. Second of all, I also don’t believe that you have so much sex that you never jerk off.”
“I don’t have sex seven days per week,” he argued. “At least one person cancels pretty much every week.”
“Is that why you got rid of your Thursday, because he was canceling too much? Do you have a three strikes rule like our Medicare patients?”
Dean shook his head. “Aaron just hated me.”
“Don’t, like, three of your days hate you?”
“No.” He pouted. “Only Tuesday, but it makes the sex really good. And Wednesday kind of hates me but that’s only because they’re in love with me and really mad about it. Aaron just thought I was insane. He only ever wanted to smoke weed and play video games.”
“Oh wow, I wonder why he thought you were insane,” Charlie said sarcastically. “Anyway, let’s talk more about human beings that you refer to by the day of the week that you fuck them.”
Dean closed his laptop and headed toward the door. “See you later, Charlie. Wish me luck with Singer.”
Charlie just laughed at him.
Bobby was coughing and spitting into the bathroom sink when Dean came in. He had his wheelchair positioned practically under the sink, his hands gripping the porcelain and hoisting half his body up out of the chair.
“Bobby, how many times do we have to go over this,” Dean chastised as he carefully pulled the chair back and locked the brakes. “You’re going to break your back trying to crawl into this goddamn sink.”
“Oh hell,” Bobby said loudly, looking at Dean through the mirror. “I wanted one of the pretty ones, not your candy ass.”
Dean patted his hair delicately. “What, you don’t think I’m pretty?” he teased.
Bobby rolled his eyes and then unlocked his brakes, backing up and nearly hitting Dean’s legs before positioning his chair toward the toilet. “I don’t hate you because you’re gay, son, I hate you because you’re annoying.”
When Bobby reached for the grab bars, Dean reached for Bobby, helping him stand and pull his pants down to sit on the can.
“Get me some new clothes, would’ya,” Bobby grumbled, waving at Dean to give him some privacy.
Being the only male occupational therapist in the building, Dean always had most of the male patients on his caseload. Since he was big and had a deep voice and had grown up with a dad that threatened to beat him if he wore the color pink, Dean was pretty butch and could help male patients with their daily tasks—most commonly bathing, dressing, toileting—without worrying that one of them would notice that the man helping them wash their balls was as queer as the day is long.
Although, most of the long-term residents, the ones not in the late stages of dementia, knew that Dean was queer. Bobby gave him shit for it, but not in a malicious way. In fact, Dean sometimes wondered if Bobby was just jealous.
While picking out an outfit from Bobby’s illustrious collection of worn flannel and army surplus jeans, Dean’s watch pinged with a text. He instinctively looked at it then looked quickly away, but when he realized the name he stopped everything and pulled his phone out of his pocket.
Castiel: Why did Meryl Streep win an Academy Award for The Iron Lady? It’s not very good.
Dean wasted five minutes typing out a reply, not even bothering to take his gloves off.
Dean: What the hell kind of first shift job do you have that lets you watch Meryl Streep movies on the clock and also are they hiring?
Bobby hollered from the bathroom, so Dean pocketed his phone and quickly grabbed some clothes.
“Hm,” Bobby grunted. He squinted up at Dean from the toilet. “What’s that dopey look for? You got a new boyfriend?”
“Maybe,” Dean responded coyly. He crouched down in front of the toilet and helped Bobby thread his pants over his feet. “I’m thinking about it.”
“You’re too old to be thinking about it. You need to be thinking about settling down already.”
They stood up together, Dean doing most of the work of pulling Bobby’s pants up and then holding onto the waistband to help him transfer back into the wheelchair.
“I’m only 33, you old man,” Dean said.
“Don’t tell me what I already know, son. One day you’re 33 and the next day you’re 99, so don’t act like you know anything about anything. You want a boyfriend, pull out that phone and ask him out.”
Dean rolled his eyes and pulled his phone out while Bobby washed his hands and his dentures.
Castiel: Couldn’t sleep when I got home last night. Watched most of The Iron Lady with Hannah.
Castiel: My roommate. The one you judged me for having.
Dean: Why couldn’t you sleep? Thinking about me? :)
Eyes glued to his phone, Dean stepped out of Bobby’s way as he propelled himself out of the bathroom and went over to his closet to retrieve his hat.
Castiel: Is Meryl Streep your favorite actress?
Dean: No. Viola Davis.
Castiel: Would you like to come over tonight and show me your favorite movies of hers?
Dean walked next to Bobby while the old man pushed himself down the hallway toward the therapy gym.
“Oh no, this isn’t gonna work. I’m gonna have to cut this off,” Dean said, thumbs hovering over his phone screen as he thought of a reply.
“What is it this time?” Bobby asked derisively. “He’s got one extra ounce of body fat on him? Receding hairline? Doesn’t moisturize to your liking?”
“Alright, for that, you’re doing wheelchair push-ups today.”
Dean: Can’t tonight. Maybe Thursday?
Castiel: You’re busy every day between now and Thursday? [eyebrow raised emoji]
Dean counted out 10 reps of Bobby pushing up and down from his wheelchair; he watched him out of his peripheral vision while he texted Cas.
Dean: I’m very popular. [sunglasses emoji]
The rehab director, a physical therapist named Billie, was sitting at her desk in her very small office in the corner of the gym. She looked over at Dean and Bobby and said loudly, “Add Mildred to your schedule, Dean. However much time you want to spend with her.”
“Private pay?” Dean yelled back.
Billie gave a judgmental “mm-hmm.”
“Jesus, how much are we gonna milk her for just so she can hang out with me? Can’t we just tell her to put me in her will?”
“Dean, for fuck’s sake, don’t talk like that in front of Bobby,” Billie admonished halfheartedly.
“You ain’t getting shit from me when I die,” Bobby muttered.
Castiel didn’t respond, and Dean did not spend the rest of the day obsessively checking his phone. He had a new hip replacement patient, then did a shower and IADLs with one of his short-term stroke patients, passive range of motion on a worker’s comp long-term resident named Rufus who had been paralyzed on the job, wrote notes during lunch, then he headed across the hall to the independent living facility to see Mildred.
“Well, look who finally decided to show up,” Mildred said as she let Dean into her apartment. “And black scrubs today? You couldn’t be bothered to wear those tight coral ones that bring out your eyes?”
“C’mon, Mildred, I know you mean my ass,” Dean said with a pat to his own ass, which looked just fine in his black scrubs, since he purposely wore all of his scrubs a little too tight to show off his extremely well-maintained body.
She winked at him then raked her eyes over him. “Take a seat and relax. I need to finish my makeup.”
As Mildred headed back toward her bathroom, Dean sat down on the couch and shouted, “You’re paying for these minutes, you know! If you need suggestions for better ways to use your money, I’m sure I can come up with some!”
She came back out to the living room a couple minutes later and explained to Dean that she was having shoulder pain and difficulty reaching things and would he please help her with some strengthening exercises and compensatory strategies and maybe put the TENS unit on her a couple days per week.
Dean said, “You’ve talked your way into therapy so often that you could fake being a COTA and nobody would bat an eye. C’mon, show me your kitchen set-up.”
While they reorganized her kitchen and simulated cooking tasks, Mildred asked, “So, Dean. Who’s the oldest person you’ve ever hooked up with?”
Dean snorted a laugh. “Like I’ve said before, age ain’t the problem with you, sweetheart. You live where I work. You know how fast I’d lose my license?”
“So? You can get another job, you can’t get another me.”
She laughed and checked his hip playfully. They had been doing this routine for years.
“You have somewhere you need to be, or are you just sick of me?” Mildred asked after the millionth time Dean checked his watch.
“No, no, I’m just.” He sighed. “I’m waiting for a text.”
“I mean, older guys always text me back. Immediately. Not that he’s old, I mean, he’s just four years older than me, but I don’t get left on read like this. At least not before I’ve told the guy I’m bi and not gay, I don’t. Look at me, do I look like a guy who gets left on read?”
Mildred put a gentle hand on his shoulder and looked up at him with pitying eyes. “Dean. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Dean muttered a “never mind” and changed the subject.
His work day was done by 3, gym until 5, go home and eat protein and greens until he felt somewhat full—exercising six days per week and carrying about 40 extra pounds of muscle on his frame meant that he was hungry, always, miserably, no matter what—then over to his Friday’s house by 7.
He brought a bottle of wine and an assortment of snacks with him and let himself in through the garage.
“I ordered Thai food!” Cassie called from the direction of her bedroom. “I’ll be out in a sec!”
Dean puttered around the kitchen while he waited, tempted by the assortment of sugary cereals Cassie kept on top of her fridge, but he thought about Mykonos and was able to resist.
His phone buzzed with a text.
Castiel: I guess Thursday it is then.
Dean: Perf. And you should come to my place again because I don’t have roommates.
Dean stared at his phone, willing Cas to answer faster. His heart was hammering in his chest.
Castiel: It’s a 10-minute drive. At some point you’ll have to come to me to make it fair.
Dean: Wow 10 whole minutes, that’s way too far. Guess I’ll never see you again.
Cassie walked into the kitchen smiling brightly, wearing a fluffy robe and a red bonnet over her hair. She slid an arm around the expanse of Dean’s shoulders and went on her tiptoes to kiss him.
“Hi,” she said.
“Hi,” he answered, turning his body more fully toward her so he could squeeze her hips and kiss her properly.
After several long seconds, she pulled away and put a hand to his chest. “I’m sorry, I should’ve told you. You can’t spend the night. My husband’s getting home a day early, and you know how he is.”
Cassie’s husband traveled every weekend for work, and the rules of their open marriage included never, ever seeing their others.
“OK, then we better not waste any time,” Dean said as he hoisted her up on the counter and put his lips to her neck, hands gripping her thighs.
Cassie was one of his oldest hookups; she had been his Friday for nearly two years. He had read one of her articles online, stalked her on Instagram, realized that she lived near him and immediately sent her a DM. The day they met in person, a Friday, they clicked right away through the shared trait of being very good at having sex with each other.
They made out in the kitchen for a while, until Dean got impatient and lifted Cassie up around his waist and carried her all the way to bed. In the middle of eating her out, the Thai food arrived and they took a break to eat, naked, at the kitchen table, Dean in a chair and Cassie sideways in his lap. When they were done, Dean gargled mouthwash then resumed his position between Cassie's legs.
It was around 11 p.m., and they were snuggled up together in bed, Dean lying on his back and Cassie tucked into his side with a hand resting on his pec, when Dean had the ridiculous thought that if he wasn’t spending the night then maybe he could hang out with Castiel.
Dean had rules. In the top five was the rule of not seeing any days outside of their designated day, except in the case of waking up next to them in the morning and going home before breakfast. There was no hanging out with one person and then hanging out with another person right afterward.
He picked his phone up from the nightstand with one hand and kept rubbing Cassie’s lower back with his other hand.
Castiel: I’m stuck on Viola Davis now. I fear between now and Thursday I’m going to make it through much of her filmography. Hannah is already tired of this.
Dean: You gonna stay up all night watching her?
Castiel: I’m a grown man. I’m very responsible about my bedtime.
Castiel: But yes, I’ll be up all night.
“Who are you texting?” Cassie asked quietly, her mouth pressed to Dean’s skin. She nosed at his chest and wrapped her lips around a nipple.
“Got a new Thursday,” Dean replied, typing. “He’s kind of weird.”
“Good weird or bad weird? You already have enough bad weird.”
“Good, I think. Not sure yet.”
Cassie swirled her tongue around his nipple then dropped butterfly kisses in a line down his rib cage, over his tattoos. “Must be good if you’re ignoring me for him.”
Dean: Can I join you?
Castiel and Hannah lived in a two-bedroom apartment on the third floor of one of those fancy apartment buildings where you had to wait outside the glass door for someone to buzz you in and then take the elevator up into a maze of hallways.
Dean got lost twice before finally knocking on their door a little past midnight.
“We started How to Get Away with Murder,” Castiel announced as soon as he opened the door.
His hair was messy like he’d been lying sideways on the couch, and he was wearing blue checkered boxers and a soft t-shirt with a stylized photo of Fiona Apple on it. Dean followed him into the apartment and got a good look at his perfect ass.
Hannah sat on the couch with her knees up to her chest, eyes glued to the TV. They were thin and pale with big blue eyes and a closely cropped haircut similar in color and style to Castiel’s.
“Hi, Hannah,” Dean greeted. “You got pronouns?”
Hannah did not look away from the TV. “She/they.”
“Knew it,” Dean muttered smugly. His gaydar was shit, but his theydar was usually spot on.
“Is it true that this show features the first onscreen rim job?” Castiel asked as he took a cross-legged seat on the couch.
Dean sat in the middle, closer to Cas than to Hannah, and put his arm up on the back of the couch, fingertips nudging the center of Cas’ back.
“They don’t actually show it,” Dean replied. “It’s just kind of, like, heavily implied.”
“Oh really? I was hoping to see an explicit rim job on network television,” Castiel joked.
Dean punched him lightly in the arm, pulling a soft smile out of him.
Hannah went to bed after half an episode. Dean drew closer to Cas, putting his arm more firmly around him and tugging him against his side. Cas hugged his knees to his chest like Hannah and angled his body toward Dean, leaning his cheek against Dean’s chest.
After two episodes, Castiel paused it and asked Dean if he wanted to watch another one or “is it getting too late? Do you have to work tomorrow?”
On Saturdays he usually left Cassie’s in the early morning and did a 10-mile run on a trail at the park before going to the gym. Only about once every couple of months he had to work a Saturday.
“No, I just have to work out in the morning,” Dean replied. “And then meet my Sat—uh, meet up with a friend later in the day.”
Cas shifted and burrowed, putting a hand to Dean’s thigh. “You really are very busy.”
This would be the time to tell him. Actually, usually by this point Dean had already explained his days system to a new day. That was another rule in his top five: tell the person by the second hangout at the very latest. But he and Cas hadn’t even had sex yet, so what was the rush? Maybe Cas was just a friend.
“Do you want some wine?” Dean asked. “I brought some wine.”
“No, I don’t drink. But I can get you a glass if you’d like.”
Figuring that drinking would give him a viable excuse to sleep over, Dean accepted a glass. They sat together in Cas’ kitchen and talked about movies until Dean felt tipsy from the wine and excused himself to go to the bathroom. When he came back, Cas was eating ice cream straight out of a half gallon and asked Dean if he wanted his own.
Dean knew he should say no, but he hadn’t had anything to eat since the Thai food, and that was hours ago. So he said sure.
Cas handed him an unopened pint of mint chocolate and asked, “So what do you do, Dean?”
“I’m a, uh, an occupational therapist. An assistant. COTA,” Dean stammered as he worked the lid of his ice cream off.
“Oh, yeah? I’m a nurse,” Cas responded robotically, like he had rehearsed this conversation with himself beforehand.
“Really? Where do you work?”
“The hospital. I PRN for a couple of nursing homes, too.”
Dean swallowed a big bite of ice cream and said, “I work in a nursing home. Actually, I worked in the hospital right out of school, but the pay was shit. Been at a SNF for five years now.”
They talked about work until Dean put his spoon into his carton of ice cream and realized he had eaten the whole thing. He set it down on the counter and put a hand to his stomach, his heart racing in mortification at how much he just ate. He would have to run at least 15 miles in the morning, no excuses.
“You’re welcome to stay here if you’d like,” Cas said after Dean yawned.
“Yeah, uh, that would be great, Cas.” Dean closed the distance between them but stopped right outside of Cas’ personal space.
“I have pajamas you could borrow.”
Another step forward. “Thanks.”
Cas looked down at Dean’s mouth then back up to his eyes. “And an extra toothbrush.”
Another step. Dean could mention that he had a duffel bag in his car that was meant for Cassie’s house, but he didn’t feel like walking all the way back downstairs. He put his hands on Cas’ hips. “Let’s go to bed.”
Cas groaned quietly, closed his eyes and reached up to cup the back of Dean’s head as he kissed him. Dean tried to keep it chaste, but Castiel shoved his tongue through his lips and twisted his fingers in the back of Dean’s too-long hair, so Dean dug his fingers into Cas’ hips and pulled him flush against his torso. They kissed, desperate and hungry, for several long minutes until Castiel moved forward, forcing Dean backward down the hall toward the bedroom.
As they kept kissing, they clumsily removed their own shirts, and Dean felt a little miffed when Castiel didn’t even stop long enough to admire his body. Sure, he was a little bloated from the ice cream, but it was still obvious that he had a six-pack and biceps as firm and smooth as Captain America’s. Not to mention a thousand dollars’ worth of tattoos on his rib cage.
Castiel didn’t break the kiss as he worked on Dean’s fly, expertly shoving his tight jeans down before leading him over to the bed. Cas still wore his boxers, Dean his black boxer briefs, and Castiel hovered over Dean and kissed him and kissed him.
Usually by this time Dean would start asking when they would get to the goddamn point already, but his entire body felt electrified, like kissing Cas was the only thing it needed to sustain itself. After at least 15 minutes, Cas moved his mouth down Dean’s jaw, his neck, then he sucked a hickey into his collarbone, expertly placing it below the typical placement of a scrubs collar.
“I’m gonna go brush my teeth,” Cas said against Dean’s skin.
But Cas was already up and heading toward the bathroom on the other side of the room.
Dean lay back on the bed and had not a single thought in his head. He couldn’t even remember his own name, alert and oriented times zero.
He fell asleep before Cas got back.
The sun was shining through the window when Dean woke up in the morning. He panicked, immediately realizing he slept way too late, but what did he expect? It was past 4 in the morning when he passed out in Cas’ bed; in no universe was he going to get up before the sun to go for a run.
He was alone in bed, still only wearing his boxer briefs, but less than a minute passed before Castiel came in wearing a purple t-shirt and gray sweats, looking warm and sleepy, and smiled gently at him before leaning down and kissing him on the forehead.
“I’m making pancakes,” Castiel said.
“What? Did we—I’m sorry, Cas, I gotta get going.” Dean stumbled up from the bed, looking around the room for his clothes, but he stopped when he caught Cas staring at him. “Cas.”
Cas snapped out of it, his eyes moving from Dean’s torso to his face. “Apologies. You’re, um, extremely in shape.”
Dean huffed a laugh. “Gotta be. Going to Mykonos with a few buddies in a couple months.”
Castiel’s eyes went back to Dean’s stomach. He walked up to him and traced his fingertips over the pine trees tattooed on his right side. “Am I allowed to call myself gay even though I’ve never been to Mykonos?”
Dean put his hands on Cas’ hips, rucking up his t-shirt so he could feel his warm skin. “I’m not actually gay. I’m bi.”
“Oh.” Cas was still fixated on the tattoos.
“Is that...a problem?”
His eyebrows pinched together. He looked up at Dean, searching his face. “No, why would it be?”
Dean kissed him. “No reason. So, uh, pancakes?”
Castiel startled, his eyes widening. “Right. Fuck.” He walked quickly out of the room.
Dean went to the bathroom and checked his phone while he brushed his teeth. He had a few junk emails and a text from Sam.
Sam: Are you still at Cassie’s? Can you get some eggs from her? I’ll pay you back.
Cassie and her husband had chickens and a seemingly endless supply of fresh eggs that they sold.
Dean: No, sorry.
He switched over to text Charlie.
Dean: I saw Cas again.
Dean: Guess who I still haven’t fucked.
Dean put his shirt back on and briefly considered asking Cas if he could borrow one. He hated wearing the same clothes two days in a row, but if he took Cas’ clothes then he would be tempted to come back over to return them before Thursday.
Sam: Where are you? Gym?
Dean bit his bottom lip and stared at his phone.
As Dean came out of Cas’ room, he fully intended on telling him he had to get going and couldn’t eat breakfast with him, but then the smell of syrup and pancakes may as well have been a siren song and Dean’s ass found its way to a kitchen chair.
“Where’s Hannah?” Dean asked as Cas set a generous stack of pancakes in front of him.
“She works on the weekends at a nonprofit. Would you like coffee?”
“Yes, please,” Dean answered with a mouthful of pancake.
His phone pinged from his pocket, and he surreptitiously checked it while Cas made coffee.
Charlie: Lol you’ve already broken so many of your rules. You loooooooove him.
Another rule was that sex absolutely had to be the main part of the arrangement. If he hung out with one of his days twice in a row and didn’t have sex with them, he ended it.
“Do you read, Dean?” Cas asked from across the kitchen, while he poured their coffee into mugs.
“Uh, yeah. I listen to a lot of audiobooks when I’m working out.”
“What’s your favorite genre?”
Dean opened his mouth, lie ready on his tongue, before remembering that he’d watched Cas snoop through his bookshelves just a couple days ago. “Uh, sci-fi and fantasy. And some classics, like Vonnegut and the Bronte sisters.”
Cas gave Dean a mug and offered him cream and sugar, which Dean took. Cas asked, “Have you ever read C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy? The first one especially, it’s one of my favorites.”
“No, I haven’t. It’s on my list though.”
Cas got up from the table and went to his room, returning a moment later with a giant yellow book in his hands. “That’s all three of them. You can borrow it.”
No. Tell him no. He accepted it. “Thanks, Cas.”
Dean didn’t leave Cas’ apartment until almost noon. He rushed home, hurriedly put on his gym clothes, and was halfway back out the door when he saw the space trilogy sitting on the sideboard next to his keys and thought to himself, Well, I could read one chapter before I go.
It was 5 p.m., and Dean’s phone was ringing.
“Hey, shug,” his Saturday greeted when he picked up.
“Hey.” Dean sat up on his couch, looked at his watch, and set the trilogy aside so he could get ready.
“I hadn’t heard from you, we still on for tonight?”
“Yeah. Yeah, of course. Sorry.” Dean tucked his phone against his ear and dug through his closet for some clothes. “I can meet you at the bar in an hour.” He shucked his unused gym clothes off, folding them back onto their shelf.
“Alright, I look forward to it.”
“Yeah, me too. See you soon.”
Dean kept sifting through his closet, only in his boxer briefs now, and let out a frustrated shout. “I hate all these fucking clothes,” he said out loud to no one.
Giving up, he took a quick shower, twisted his hair up in a towel and threw on a long robe and sandals before walking over to Sam and Eileen’s and pounding on their door. Dean used to have a key to their house, but Sam revoked his rights to one after the third spare he lost.
“Clothes,” Dean said gruffly when Sam answered.
“When were you at the gym today?” Sam asked, following Dean all the way to the closet in the master bedroom. “I was there around noon, and Gordon said he hadn’t seen you all day.”
“Jesus, are you the gym police? Get off my back.” Dean rummaged through Sam’s clothes and found a dusty pink plaid button down. “Perfect,” he muttered as he took it off the hanger.
“You going to the bar to meet your Saturday?”
“Yeah, you know how he is.”
“Not really,” Sam replied. “I’ve only met him once.”
“I wish we were the same height,” Dean lamented, still looking through Sam and Eileen’s closet. “All my jeans are so fucking tight.”
“Yeah, Dean, because you buy them that way. You could, you know, buy jeans that aren’t two sizes too small.”
“No offense, Sammy, but I don’t accept fashion advice from heterosexuals.”
“But you can borrow a heterosexual’s clothes?”
Dean grunted in response, then headed back out toward the door. Eileen was sitting in the living room studying, so Dean walked over to her and gave her a kiss on the cheek and waved before leaving.
After getting dressed, Dean spent another 10 minutes fighting with his hair, trying his damnedest to style it like a gay version of Zack’s hair from Saved by the Bell.
When he finally got to the bar, his Saturday was shooting pool by himself and already had two empty beer bottles on a tall table against the wall.
“Am I late, or are you early?” Dean asked as he walked up to him, cupped him by the cheek and eagerly kissed him.
“Both, I think,” Benny replied in his deep southern drawl. “What d’you want to drink?”
Dean kissed him again and reached around him to grab his ass, bringing their crotches together. He rolled his hips once and bit Benny’s lip. “I’ll get it. You finish your game.”
The bar was not a gay bar, and was in fact a gruff kind of old man bar, and despite the fact that Dean and Benny had been there almost every weekend for the past year, a couple of the regulars still side-eyed them. In the dark recesses of his brain where Dean was mad that he never got to show affection for a man in front of his dad before he died, he relished seeing John Winchester’s face in all these judgmental old alcoholics.
“Vodka soda, and another IPA for Benny, please. Thank you, sweetheart,” Dean said, putting his card up on the bar.
Pamela smiled at him as she took his payment. “Vodka soda? You dieting again?”
Dean shook his head. “I had pancakes for breakfast this morning. Like, 10 goddamn pancakes.” In a conspiratorial whisper, Dean added, “And I didn’t work out today.”
Pamela put a dramatic hand to her chest. “Oh, goddamn. Your life is falling apart.” As she handed him the drinks, she said, “Who’d you convince to make pancakes for you? I know Cassie doesn’t spoil you like that.”
“How do you know someone made them for me? I can cook.”
“Yeah, sure, but you wouldn’t indulge like that on your own.”
Dean pouted at her and backed away from the bar, a drink in each hand. “Maybe I met someone. Maybe they’ll spoil me like you never could.”
Pamela flipped him off.
She used to be his Wednesday, but only for a few months until her work schedule changed and he couldn’t fit her in any other day of the week. Also, when Benny wanted to come to this bar, Dean knew he couldn’t keep seeing both of them.
“Pamela flirting with you?” Benny asked as Dean handed him a beer and kissed his cheek.
Benny smacked his ass. Hard. “Always.”
The thing about Benny was that he was possessive, territorial, but it was more like a kink for him than an actual character trait. He loved that Dean fucked so many people other than him, and he acted like he absolutely hated it. Every Saturday, Benny would fuck him so thoroughly and mark him up so much that every other day would comment on it. But otherwise, Benny was a big soft teddy bear.
“You know what I was thinking about today?” Benny asked as he racked the balls.
Dean grabbed a pool cue off the wall and chalked it. “My ass?”
“The day we met.” He smiled sheepishly. “You were so cute.”
“Shut up, I was, like, 150 pounds soaking wet.”
“Yeah.” Benny laughed sweetly, lining his cue stick up to break. “I miss that shy little twink sometimes.”
Benny turned 40 this year, and was definitively a bear with his hairy face and body and his prominent beer gut. He had only been Dean’s Saturday for about a year, but they had known each other since Dean was in his early 20s and had no idea who he was and was playing the part of a gay twink.
“You were the only one who saw right through my shit,” Dean said.
“And you know I still do, shug.”
Dean knocked the four into a corner pocket as Benny wrapped his arms around him from behind and nuzzled his beard against his neck. “You know you can be yourself around me, Dean. No bullshit.”
Benny said this kind of thing often, and Dean never quite knew what he meant.
Dean’s phone pinged while Benny was taking his turn.
Castiel: I’m reading Parable of the Sower. What do you think is the best journey book? Like a person going on a journey to get to a specific destination. Is it this series? It is, isn’t it? This has to be the best.
Dean furiously typed a response, his cue stick tucked against his body while he held his phone in both hands.
Dean: It’s more than just a journey series though. There’s SO MUCH in there. It’s incomparable to anything.
Dean: But the best journey book is LOTR. Duh.
Castiel: No, I think the space trilogy is better than LOTR. A bit too religious perhaps, but as far as imagination goes it is unmatched.
Dean: Dude I read like 200 pages of that today.
Castiel: It’s really very good.
Castiel: Lewis and Tolkien flipped a coin to decide who would write space travel and who would write time travel. I’ll never forgive Tolkien for not holding up his end of the bet.
Castiel: Wait, when did you have time to read 200 pages of a book? Did you skip the gym?
“Dean,” Benny said, right in his face.
Dean startled and fumbled his phone, tapping it a few times before catching it against his chest. “Jesus, dude.”
Benny dropped a kiss to his forehead. “It’s your turn.”
Dean always beat Benny at pool, but only just barely. He would purposely miss four or five shots so that Benny at least felt like it was a fair game. In reality, Dean could probably beat Benny without ever letting him take a shot.
After a couple games, they went to the bar and sat close together and drank until Dean felt really, properly drunk. He was tucked against Benny’s side and was squeezing his thigh and enjoying his ministrations against his neck and collarbone when Benny suddenly stopped and sat up straight.
“What?” Dean asked, trying to blink himself to sobriety.
“What’s this?” Benny asked in a low tone, pressing his index finger to Dean’s shoulder.
It stung a little bit, and Dean jumped. “Um. My new Thursday.”
Benny shook his head. “Nah. That right there’s a new bruise. A today bruise. Fess up.”
Dean ran a hand through his hair, ruining the perfect coif. “OK. It’s my new Thursday that I also saw last night into this morning.”
Benny’s eyes widened then narrowed. “You don’t do that, Dean.”
“Yeah, well, I’m an idiot, so.”
“Is that who you were texting?”
Benny got up immediately, slapped some bills down on the countertop and grabbed Dean’s hand in a hard grip. “C’mon, time to make you forget about Thursday.”
Cas: Harry Potter or Hunger Games?
Dean: Hunger Games. Fuck JK Rowling.
Cas: OK. Harry Potter or Twilight?
Dean: OH FUCK you. Harry Potter. [eye roll emoji]
Dean was still in bed, nursing a minor hangover and sore thighs. After Benny fucked him into next week, Dean drove home late and finished Perelandra before falling asleep. He absolutely needed to get up and exercise, but he was procrastinating.
Cas: Would you like to go on a hike with me today?
During his 10 seconds of hesitation, Dean realized that he was a grown man with no spouse or kids and could do whatever the fuck he wanted with his free time.
He remembered this time to text his Sunday, telling them that he might be later than usual. They texted back right away, assuring him that he could show up at their house whenever he pleased.
Dean heard the sound of the front door opening and shutting, followed by Sam shouting a greeting, so Dean got out of bed with a wince and went to the bathroom to brush his teeth and apply some Icy Hot. He threw on an oversized t-shirt that said, in big blocky letters, “DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL” and walked awkwardly out to the kitchen.
Sam made a disgusted face at him. “Dude, I don’t understand why you let Saturday do that to you. You look like you got beaten up.”
Dean got his bottle of psyllium husk caps out of a cabinet then took a ginger seat at the kitchen table. “I think what you meant to say is that you’re super jealous of how awesome my life is. Ow.” He pressed a hand to the side of his neck, trying to find the most painful hickey. “Where’s Eileen?”
“Library.” Sam brought Dean a cup of coffee and sat across from him. “As you know, she graduates this year.”
“Uh-oh, this sounds like a conversation.” Dean knocked back his pills and chased them with coffee.
Sam cleared his throat. “Yeah, um. We’re gonna adopt a kid.”
“We’ve been talking about it for a while, and I think we’re ready.”
“You’re only 29,” Dean argued.
“That’s a common age to have a kid, Dean.”
“How are you gonna—why would you—isn’t it, like, super expensive to adopt?”
Sam sighed. “Well, yeah. But we’re both planning on being professors one day, so I think we’ll be alright. We’ve been saving for this, too.”
“You have? Since when? Why didn’t you tell me?”
Sam threw his hands up in the air. “I’m telling you now, Dean. Can you just get a grip and say congratulations?”
“Yeah. Yeah, sorry.” Dean blinked and looked down at his coffee. “Yeah, congrats. Of course I want you to have kids. I’m just—it’s unexpected, is all.”
“It’s gonna take a while. And now that you know, I promise I’ll keep you updated.”
“C’mere, Sammy.” Dean got up and didn’t wait for Sam, bending over instead so he could wrap his arms around his little brother. He thwacked him on the back a couple times then kissed the top of his hair before letting go.
Sam stayed for a few more minutes, making small talk while they drank their coffee, and he putzed around Dean’s house as if looking for something out of place.
“What’s this?” he asked, holding the space trilogy up.
“A book, Sam. You see, it has words in it, and you read them page by pa—”
“This looks worn. Somebody give it to you?” Sam interrupted, flipping the book in his hands and checking the page where Dean left a bookmark.
“Thursday let me borrow it.”
Sam’s eyebrows went up to his hairline. “He brought a book with him on your very first Thursday?”
“No.” Grown man: can do whatever he wants. “I saw him again. And actually, I’m going on a hike with him today, so. Get the fuck out of here so I can get ready.”
“That’s not a Thursday, Dean,” Sam said as Dean shooed him toward the front door. “That’s an everyday. That’s your everyday man.”
Dean slammed the door in his face.
He checked his phone; Cas told him to come over whenever, since the mountain was closer to his house than to Dean’s. He also had a text from his Sunday, informing him that they’d be having tamales for dinner.
Hiking was by no means Dean’s favorite activity, so he had to dig through the back of his closet to find some viable boots. He put on the loosest jean shorts he had and a neon green tank top and pulled his hair up on top of his head like Pebbles from The Flintstones.
Castiel, on the other hand, looked like he was born to hike. He had on sturdy cargo shorts, a moisture-wicking t-shirt with the name of some 100-mile race on it, and a buff headband holding his hair back. He had one of those water-bottle-backpacks, carabiners hanging off his belt loops, yellow hiking sticks, and boots that looked like they were worth at least one paycheck.
“Alright, REI,” Dean greeted. “Let’s do this, I guess.”
They took Cas’ truck, which meant they listened to Cas’ music. He switched from Chance the Rapper to MNEK to Fiona Apple then back to Chance. “Who’s your favorite artist, Dean? Or favorite band?”
“Queen,” Dean lied. “And I like Lizzo, Janelle Monae, and any new pop music, really.”
Cas hummed and stayed quiet for several seconds. Eventually, he said, “OK, so who’s actually your favorite artist?”
“Led Zeppelin,” Dean blurted out, as if Cas had given him veritaserum. “I fucking love classic rock. Give me Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones. I mean, Lizzo and Janelle Monae are fine, but Jesus Christ I actually hate pop music. Those are, like, the only two I can tolerate.”
Cas’ gentle laugh filled the cab, warming Dean’s heart. “Who are you trying to impress, Dean? I’m listening to Chance the Rapper. You have nothing to worry about here.”
Dean reached over and tangled his hand with Cas’, forcing Cas’ hand off the steering wheel and over to his lap. Cas untangled their fingers, gripping Dean’s thigh instead and rubbing circles against his skin.
“So, why are you covered in bruises?” Cas asked casually.
“Oh. Um.” Dean shifted. “I have a hookup that’s kind of rough with me. Not in a bad way! Like, he doesn’t hurt me. It’s good.”
Cas stopped rubbing circles into his thigh, his grasp loosening. “You hooked up with someone last night?”
Now. Now would be the time to tell him. “Cas, I’m not—I don’t really do the whole monogamy thing. I don’t know what it is you’re looking for, but—”
“No, no, it’s fine, Dean,” Cas reassured. “You’re not my boyfriend. I have no claim over you.” He sighed. “Although, it looks like someone else is definitely trying to lay claim.”
“Do you, um. Do you date around? Like, have you had boyfriends or whatever?” Dean asked lamely.
Cas parked in a gravel lot far away from any other cars. He didn’t answer Dean before they got out and grabbed their packs, then he pointed toward a trail and asked Dean if seven miles was too far, to which Dean said no.
It wasn’t until they were climbing a hill so steep that Dean felt like he was going to puke that Cas said, “I don’t really date.”
Dean, completely out of breath, replied, “Oh...really…? Why...not…?”
“I rarely feel a connection to other people, and if sex isn’t presented right in front of me, I forget it exists.”
Dean was behind Cas, but he wished desperately that they were face-to-face. “You...forget...sex...exists…? How...the...hell…”
“Maybe I’m just not good at it. I don’t know.” Cas’ shoulders raised in a shrug. “I know I prefer men, but still, I’ve never dated a man longer than a few months before getting...bored.”
They got to some stairs built precariously into the dirt. Dean felt like he was going to pass out. “Cas, I feel like I’m gonna pass out.”
“Oh, here, come over here,” Cas soothed, turning around and leading Dean back down the stairs and over to an empty clearing. He held Dean by the shoulders and guided him to the ground, then crouched in front of him and put his fingers to his wrist and looked at his watch. “Take deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth.”
“Alright, nurse Cas, don’t act like I didn’t learn the same shit in school that you did,” Dean said, pushing Cas’ hand away from his wrist. “I don’t need my goddamn vitals checked, doc.”
“Drink some water,” Cas said, offering Dean his weird backpack straw. “Vasodilation.”
Dean drank water and took several deep breaths until he felt his heart beat slow. “I don’t think I’m gonna make it seven miles, buddy.”
“Yes, well, hiking is different than running. We can go back.”
“Hey, wait, before we do that—” Dean fisted his hand in the front of Cas’ shirt and yanked him down for a kiss.
Cas smiled into it and kissed Dean for several long, languid seconds before pulling back, opening his eyes slowly. “I do enjoy kissing you, Dean.”
Dean gave him a shit-eating grin. “Not bored of me yet?”
Cas stood and held his hand out to help Dean up. “No, certainly not.”
In the end, they only made it about three miles. Dean was sweating bullets and felt like he had run a marathon, so he figured that was enough of a workout for the day.
They took turns showering at Cas’ apartment, but Dean didn’t have an extra change of clothes, so Cas gave him a pair of black joggers and a soft blue t-shirt. The shirt smelled like Cas, and that’s when Dean realized that Cas had a smell. A wonderful smell.
He went straight from Cas’ to his Sunday’s house, arriving just in time for dinner.
Jesse opened the door to let Dean in and stopped short for a second as he surveyed him.
“Those aren’t your clothes,” Jesse stated. “Those aren’t nearly flamboyant enough to be your clothes.”
Dean couldn’t help it; he hugged himself. “Borrowed ‘em from a friend. I kinda like them.”
Jesse slid his hand around Dean’s waist and gently kissed him. “They look good on you.”
The food smelled so good that it brought a tear to Dean’s eye. He followed Jesse into the kitchen and sneaked up behind Cesar, hugging him and pressing quick butterfly kisses to the skin around the collar of his shirt.
“Hey, there’s my boy,” Cesar said sweetly, still cooking food on the stove.
“Miss me?” Dean asked, squeezing him.
“Siempre. We made spiked horchata for you. Go, relax. I’ll bring you your food.”
Jesse grabbed the drinks, then he and Dean both went out back to the screened-in porch and sat together on the worn sofa. Jesse turned sideways and coaxed Dean into leaning back against his chest.
“Can you rub my shoulders?” Dean asked.
Jesse immediately put his own drink down and placed both hands on Dean’s shoulders, massaging carefully. “Benny went a little far this week.”
“Yeah, uh.” Dean cleared his throat. “Someone else left a hickey on me, so he had to correct that.”
“You found someone for Thursday?”
Jesse didn’t ask any follow-up questions, too busy putting his mouth to Dean’s skin and moving his hands down around to Dean’s thighs, massaging his knotted muscles. Jesse had massive, strong hands, impossibly soft, and Dean couldn’t get enough of them. Jesse was also trans, which Dean didn’t know until he and Cesar told him after they had been his Sunday for a month. They were terrified to tell him, worried that he would react badly and leave them.
Instead, he had said “cool” and shown up the next week in a babydoll t-shirt with light blue and pink horizontal stripes.
Of all of his days, nobody spoiled the shit out of him quite like Jesse and Cesar. They had been married for five years and didn’t want kids or pets, but wanted someone to dote on. Enter Dean.
Cesar brought the tamales out, and they ate them in the dim light of the porch, Jesse and Dean on the couch and Cesar in an armchair facing them. Cesar insisted on offering Dean more food every time he cleaned his plate, and he was powerless to say no. Wearing Cas’ loose joggers, he didn’t worry so much about his stomach bloating and getting uncomfortable. He rested a hand on it and ate to his heart’s content.
Later in bed, Dean was sleepy and sated, a little tipsy, and Jesse and Cesar assured him that he could just lie back and relax. He turned over to his stomach, and they took turns fucking him, then Cesar gave him a blowjob and spit his come into a conveniently placed towel.
After a cursory shower, Dean fell asleep between them, their arms and legs draped over him and locking him in place. He always slept the best with Jesse and Cesar, possibly due to feeling like the safest person alive when nestled between them.
When Castiel’s alarm went off on Monday morning, he nearly threw it across the room. One of his coworkers had the week off, which somehow meant that he had to do 12-hour shifts instead of eight this week. And he had a meeting with his director of nursing today, a person he despised with every fiber of his being.
Hannah was already up when Castiel came into the kitchen. They didn’t look up from their phone as they said, “Have you had sex with Dean yet?”
“Good morning,” Castiel grumbled, pouring himself a bowl of cereal. “No, I haven’t.”
“Are you going to?”
Hannah finally looked up at him. “If you wait too long, he’ll get bored of you. Like the last two.”
Castiel took a big bite and frowned at them. “I got bored of them. It’s not my fault they weren’t interesting enough on their own. You shouldn’t need sex to be interested in a person. You and I have never had sex, and I don’t find you boring.”
“You’re being defensive for no reason again.”
“Apologies.” He took another bite. “I know I don’t have to defend my sexuality to you.”
“Or to anyone. That’s other people’s problem, not yours.”
“Hm,” Castiel grunted.
Hannah waited exactly five seconds before saying, “So when are you going to have sex with Dean?”
“I don’t know. He’s seeing other people.”
Hannah squinted and tilted their head to the side, looking off into the distance. “Yes, I suppose if I looked like him, I would probably be having sex with multiple people.”
Castiel sighed and took his empty bowl to the sink.
The morning meeting at work lasted about 30 minutes, then Castiel stayed behind for his one-on-one with the DON, walking into their office and closing the door behind him, ready to get it over with.
“Have a seat, Castiel,” Crowley said in a monotone.
Castiel sat and crossed his legs.
Crowley was looking down at papers on their desk. “How would you like a promotion?”
“Supervisor. You’d still be on the floor, of course, but you’d have more people under you, more responsibilities.”
Crowley rolled his eyes. “Two more dollars per hour.”
Castiel scoffed. “Four.”
“I’m doing you a favor, Castiel,” Crowley spit, his hands gripping the desk in anger. “Take it or leave it.”
Castiel stood and turned toward the door, saying over his shoulder, “Fine. Then no.”
“Fine! Four! I’ll get you four, you fucking diva.”
Castiel turned back around, glaring at Crowley. “Thank you.”
“I mean, I feel like now it would just be awkward to tell him,” Dean said as he set up the TENS unit on Rufus’ right arm. “I told him I’m not into monogamy, like, isn’t that enough?”
Charlie didn’t look up from her computer screen, didn’t stop typing at her rolling table. “No.”
Jody and Donna were over at the parallel bars, co-treating a patient that required two people to complete sit-to-stands.
Jody said, “I just don’t see why you set up all these rules for yourself if it’s just gonna bite you in the ass when you want to break them.”
“Yeah,” Donna agreed, her teeth gritted as she held the patient’s hips while they stood between the parallel bars. “Way I see it, you’re torturing yourself for no reason.”
Billie shouted from her office, “If you’re gonna have multiple hookups, it’s good to set boundaries. Dean’s right to have rules, and he’s wrong to break them.”
Dean sat on a stool and pulled up close to Rufus’ power chair, grabbing his left hand to passively range his fingers into extension. “What do you think, Rufus?”
Rufus raised his eyebrows and frowned. “I think you’re a dumbass, is what I think.”
All the women laughed.
“If you like the guy and want to see him every day,” Rufus continued, “then dump everybody else. Simple.”
“But then what if it doesn’t work out?” Dean asked. “I can’t lose seven good people in the small hope that the eighth one will work out. You know how hard it is to find good hookups?”
Charlie laughed too loudly. “Right, like it’s ever been hard for you to find a hookup. Ladies, remind me the longest it took Dean to fill a slot when he lost his Wednes—”
“A week,” Jody and Donna answered nearly in unison.
Dean pouted and ignored them as he moved his gloved hands up to Rufus’ elbow.
He hadn’t even talked to Cas since their hike, so maybe he wasn’t an everyday man. Maybe Dean really could wait until Thursday to see him again, and then he could explain his lifestyle and hope for the best.
The problem was that the idea of having the conversation with Cas didn’t sit right with Dean. It was usually easy, made sense, since most of his days were people that were looking for exactly what Dean was offering. The sales pitch was easy. But Dean didn’t want to sell Cas anything. He just wanted to hang out with him.
His last patient of the day was Mildred, and she immediately noticed that something was off about him.
“Honey, what’s wrong? You look lovesick,” she said, running a gentle hand down his arm.
He squeezed her hand and pointed her to a chair in her apartment so he could stretch out her shoulder.
“I’m fine,” he lied.
“What’s his or her name?”
“Cas.” He winced after he said it, like he was a schoolgirl divulging her crush to her friend on the playground. “I don’t get like this, Millie. I don’t know what it is about him.”
“Have you told him how you feel?”
“No. I only met him a few days ago.”
“Oh, boy. You really don’t get like this.” Mildred tilted her head to the side so Dean could work on her neck. “He must be something special.”
Dean thought about it for a second, trying to pinpoint what made Cas special. “Yeah, maybe I just need to sleep with him. Maybe that’d break the spell.”
Mildred snorted a laugh.
After work, Dean went to the gym and tried to read the space trilogy while running on the treadmill. It was way too big of a book and impossible to steady correctly, so he switched over to the stationary bike and ignored the men around him. There were a few guys at the gym that would spot Dean or randomly compliment him, hit on him, but today they were laughing in confusion at the big book in his hands.
While Dean was on the floor doing reverse crunches and holding the book up above his head to keep reading, Gordon came over and looked down at him, hands on his hips.
“Hey, uh, Dean,” he said.
“Yeah.” Dean kept reading.
“What’s with the book?”
“It’s really good.” He flipped over to his stomach and went into a plank, putting the book on the floor in front of him.
“You’re making the other guys feel stupid,” Gordon said. “Maybe bring a smaller book next time, something with pictures in it?”
“Did you actually get complaints about me? Seriously, Gordon?”
“Dean, every man here either wants to be you or fuck you. I’m going to lose clients if you do nerd shit.”
Dean rolled his eyes, shoved a bookmark in the book and tucked it under his sweaty arm as he stood up. He was nose-to-nose with Gordon, a man he had astronomical levels of sexual tension with but had never fucked because Gordon was straight.
“Fine. I’ll go work out at home,” Dean said.
On his way out the door, he texted Cas.
Dean: I got kicked out of the gym for reading the space trilogy while exercising.
Cas xo: Reading is more fun than working out anyway.
Cas xo: Are we still hanging out on Thursday?
Castiel didn’t text back right away. Dean got home and looked at the pull-up bar on his bedroom door, trying to convince himself to actually use it. He had been about halfway done with his workout when Gordon called him a nerd, but he couldn’t drive home sweaty so he had showered and changed at the gym and now it seemed ludicrous to get sweaty again.
He sat on his couch and read the space trilogy and ate chips until there was a knock on his door.
“Hello, Monday,” he said in a silly voice as he gestured for her to come inside.
“Hey, Winchester,” she replied, dropping her duffel bag by the sideboard and going immediately to the fridge. “I already ate dinner, but I’m fucking starving.”
Patricia, who went by Pati, had smooth dark brown skin and was short and plump and had straight dark hair that she usually kept in a braid down her back. Her parents had emigrated from India a few months before she was born. Now she was in her late 20s and ran her own small business, an upholstery and sewing shop.
“I think I might be pregnant,” she said apropos of nothing as she preheated the oven and pulled a frozen pizza out of the freezer.
“What?” Dean asked, trying not to sound horrified.
“Yeah, I’m, like, two weeks late.” She opened Dean’s pantry and grabbed a giant bag of granola. “And I’m so goddamn hungry. At first I just chalked it up to being fat, but this is like a next level hunger.” She shoved a handful of granola in her mouth.
“OK, but.” Dean blinked and stared down at the counter. “It’s not mine, is it?”
“No.” She wobbled her head from side to side, which she had explained to Dean meant “yes,” so he wasn’t sure why she was fucking doing it now. “I don’t think so. I haven’t taken a pregnancy test, but once I confirm it, I’ll figure out who the dad is.” She tapped her fake nails against the countertop. “I hope I can track everybody down. I had a threesome with a white couple a few weeks ago, and I really don’t know how easy it’s gonna be to find those fuckers.”
“No, guy and girl. So at least there’s only one potential there. I have a friend-with-benefits, one of my neighbors, who’s really sweet. I hope it’s his.”
Dean still felt panicked. “OK, but seriously, could it be mine? Because if it is, Pati, I’m not gonna—”
She waved him off. “I know, I know. Relax. I’ll let you know if I need you to do a paternity test, but I’m pretty sure it’s not yours. If I’m even pregnant.” She ate more granola then threw her hands out to the sides. “But hey, if I am, then I can’t get pregnant again. So we don’t have to worry about anything tonight.”
Dean frowned at her. Another rule was that he always used condoms no matter what, so Pati was dreaming if she thought otherwise.
“Hey, lighten up,” she said as she came around the kitchen counter and wrapped her short arms around his waist, looking up at him with big brown eyes. “I promise I’m not gonna make you a dad.”
He put his hands around her and squeezed her closer to him, bending down and angling his face to kiss her. “I’d be a good dad, though, right?”
“Oh, buddy,” Pati responded with a patronizing pat to his sternum. “Anyway, do you think we have time for you to eat me out before that pizza’s done?”
“Yeah, you know I love a challenge. Let’s do it.”
They made it with time to spare, although Pati lamented that her orgasm was lackluster due to craving pizza.
Pati put on one of Dean’s big t-shirts, which hugged her round belly but was long enough to cover her ass. Dean wore just his boxer briefs while they ate pizza on the couch, as Pati insisted on being able to ogle his body whenever she wanted.
“I met your Tuesday the other day. She’s a real bitch,” Pati said as she picked up her fifth slice of pizza.
“Yeah, she sucks,” Dean confirmed. “Where’d you run into her?”
“She came into the shop asking for some really complicated tufting for her couch pillows, I don’t know. She kept, like, staring at me and then she was all, ‘Are you one of Dean Winchester’s girls?’” Pati imitated in a posh accent.
“She probably cyberstalked you and purposely made a trip to your store.”
“Yeah, well, she can eat my ass. She kept looking me up and down and, like, blatantly said she didn’t believe that you were actually into ‘big girls’ and had to ‘see for herself.’”
Dean tensed up, balling his hand into a fist. “Oh, I’m gonna kill her. I’m gonna fucking kill her.”
Pati laughed. “Why the hell do you sleep with her? Magic puss?”
“Yeah, actually, that’s exactly it.”
Pati smiled at him then got up from the couch, kissing him on the lips before taking the empty pizza pan back to the kitchen. Dean looked around for his phone but didn’t see it anywhere near him.
“Who’s Cas?” Pati asked from the kitchen.
Dean looked over and saw her standing at the counter, tapping on his phone screen.
“Oh, can you bring me that?” Dean asked. “He’s my new Thursday. Did he text me?”
Pati kept looking at the phone as she walked back over. “Uh, yeah. I think he’s on his way over here?”
As if on cue, there was a knock on Dean’s door.
“Oh no, should I hide?” Pati asked. “Don’t you have a DNI rule for all of us? I don’t want a repeat of meeting your Tuesday.”
“Relax,” Dean said as he went to the door.
Cas had a concerned look on his face, and a big stack of books under his arm. “Um. I’m sorry.” His eyes flickered down to Dean’s bare torso, then farther down to Dean’s crotch, then back up to his face. “I was waiting for you to respond, but I was driving by here on my way home from work—I have to work late this week—so I figured I would just stop by. I brought books.”
Dean accepted the stack of books and set them on the sideboard. “Sorry, I didn’t have my phone on me. Uh, I have company. I’m sorry, Cas.”
“Hi!” Pati yelled from the living room. “I’m Pati! You’re very cute!”
Cas waved shyly at Pati then looked at Dean again. “Um. I’ll be going, then.”
“Hey, wait!” Tell him. Tell him.
Cas looked at him hopefully.
Dean kissed him gently, gratefully, then squeezed his hand. “Thanks for the books. I’ll see you Thursday.”
After Cas left, Dean walked slowly back into the living room and found Pati staring wide-eyed at him.
“What?” he asked gruffly.
“You’re, like, straight up in love with that guy.”
Pati clung to Dean in her sleep, spooning him with one arm around his middle and one leg thrown over his hip. He had no idea how she managed to maintain that position all night, but he had learned how to expertly extricate himself so as not to wake her up. Her shop opened a lot later than Dean got to work, and he was usually out the door before she was out of bed. They both thought it was funny that he basically sneaked out of his own house on Tuesday mornings.
While he was driving to work, his phone rang.
“Hey, Cas,” he said.
“I hope you don’t mind my calling,” Cas replied, his voice sounding even deeper on the phone. “I just wanted to explain—I thought you might enjoy those books, and I had them in my truck and passed your house on my way—”
“Buddy, you already explained that. It’s fine. Really.”
There was a long pause before Cas said, “I don’t want you to think I’m desperate.”
Dean bit his bottom lip, overcome with affection. “Look, man, I like hanging out with you. But I have a lot of other people in my life, and I’m not, uh, interested in giving those people up, you know?”
“I’m not asking you to.” Cas sighed into the phone. “I just. I’m embarrassed at how much I can’t stop thinking about you.”
“Oh. Um.” Me too. Say me too, you idiot. “I mean, it’s understandable. I’m extremely good-looking.”
“I hardly think about your looks. No offense. You are beautiful, but it’s secondary to me.”
Dean sputtered, failed to come up with a response.
“Anyway, let me know what you think of the books,” Cas said casually. “Goodbye, Dean.”
Dean felt like he was in a daze at work. Charlie asked him three times if he was alright, and he blew her off each time. He didn’t want to talk about Cas, and he desperately wanted to talk about Cas. He hadn’t even known him for a week. Surely this feeling would pass.
He was stressed, and when he was stressed, he stressed-ate. He skipped the gym after work and went through a drive-thru instead, ordering an ungodly amount of cheat food. When he got home, he went over to Sam and Eileen’s and texted Eileen to let him in.
Sam was teaching, but Eileen was at home studying as usual. She eyed his takeout bags and furrowed her brow at him.
“What are you stressed about?” she asked.
They sat across from each other at the kitchen table and Dean didn’t answer right away, choosing instead to shove half a burger into his mouth.
After he swallowed, he looked at her and said, “I’m falling for a guy I haven’t even fucked.”
“Right. Yeah, that does sound bad on your arbitrary scale of what constitutes bad.”
He finished the first burger and unwrapped a second. “What’s monogamy like? Do you ever get sick of Sammy?”
Eileen laughed loudly. “Yeah. All the time. But he’s my person.”
“Your life is exciting, Dean. Thrilling even. But I’d take settled and content over thrilling any day of the week, no offense.”
“Hm. Sounds boring.” He grabbed a handful of fries and shoved them in his mouth.
“It is sometimes, but boring can be good. Gives you time to, like, think about things. Time to reflect.”
Dean made a disgusted face at her. “That sounds miserable. Big fat no thank you to that one.”
“Tell me something, Dean, when was the last time you were alone? Like, truly by yourself?”
“What are you talking about? I live by myself.”
Eileen shook her head. “You’re with people all the time. Every day. What do you do that’s just for you, by yourself?”
“Exercise,” Dean answered automatically.
“Sweetie, you don’t do that for you.”
“No, you’re right, I don’t,” he admitted. “Uh, I read. I like reading.” He thought about the rare occasion that he read during the day, curled up on his couch listening to the birds singing outside. It seemed so indulgent, something he should only be allowed to do if he was truly content with his life.
“OK, so spend a little more time doing that and see how you feel,” Eileen said.
“Hm. Sounds suspicious, but alright.”
He gathered up all his takeout and walked over to his own house, finishing the food while reading the space trilogy. He leafed through the other books Cas gave him, too, finding a note in The Name of the Wind that said, I’m sure you’ve read this, but in case you haven’t, it’s another of my favorites. -Cas
He found a similar note in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, which Dean actually had not read. There were other genres besides sci-fi, too: Mexican Gothic, No Ashes in the Fire, The Good Earth.
The one that grabbed him first was Queenie. As he read the first few chapters about a young woman sabotaging her own life through a series of botched relationships, he wondered if Cas was trying to tell him something.
His Tuesday texted him around 6 p.m.
Mega Bitch: I’m coming to you today. Be there in 10.
Dean: Oooooh boy I know what that means. [peach emoji, hammer emoji]
His belly full of heavy food, Dean felt sluggish and lazy but managed to quickly pick up all the books, haphazardly shoving them into a pile on a bookshelf and turning them so the pages were out instead of the spines. He then went to his room and spilled lube all over his hand and rushed to open himself up as much as possible in five minutes. He usually set aside time to douche first, but he would just have to go without it today.
Bela insisted on having her own key. She let herself in and said, “Are you ready for me, darling?” while Dean was still face down, ass up on his bed.
If he said anything other than yes, she would do something mean like not let him come. So he said yes.
“Oh, perfect,” she said quietly as she came into the room.
Dean stayed put and listened to her rustling movements, trying to figure out what she was about to do. Less than two minutes passed before two small hands gripped his ass and pulled his cheeks apart, then a thumb teased at his entrance.
“Hm. You lied. You aren’t ready,” Bela said.
“Just do it, bitch.”
She smacked his ass. He winced at the sting for less than a second before being split open by a dildo. Bela’s hands moved up his sides, and he could feel her hips jerking into him. A strap-on. He groaned against the sheets and rutted his body uselessly. Fuck, he loved Tuesday.
It took Dean an hour to come, tears in his eyes, and he barely had time to relax before Bela sat on his face.
Afterward, she sat up on the side of the bed and lit up a cigarette. Dean painstakingly got up to open a window and then returned to the bed, curling onto his side to recover.
“I met your Monday,” Bela said. “Surely you could do better than that fat—”
“Why do you talk? You’re so ugly when you talk.” Dean scooted away from her and her billowing smoke. “I hate you so much.”
“What? Because I’m honest? You’re an Adonis, Dean. You should only be having sex with Aphrodites.”
Dean groaned and shook his body, trying to get the Bela muck off of him even as she sat right there next to him. “I don’t even think you have your mythologies right.”
“Although, actually I’m not sure if you’re an Adonis,” she continued, as if she was having a conversation with only herself. “You look like you’ve lost some self-control, Dean, you’re all puffy and round.” She reached over and indelicately squeezed the nonexistent fat on his hip. “Letting yourself go, love?”
Dean felt shame overtake him, that is, until he remembered that he didn’t give a fuck what Bela thought of him. “Yeah, maybe I am. And then what, Bela? We both know you can’t quit me, even if you found me physically repulsive. That might be fun, actually. Making you fuck someone you find disgusting. I’d really enjoy that.”
“What the hell is this? Did you find some self-esteem in the past week?”
Dean sat up quickly, crowding her space and clamping his teeth down on her neck. Right up against her ear, he whispered, “What if I did? What are you gonna do about it?”
She put a hand to his chest and tried to gain back control, but he was bigger and stronger than her, so he aggressively kissed her and tipped her back on the bed and lay himself on top of her, rolling his hips as he got hard again.
“Do it, Dean. Show me what you’re made of.”
Fuck, he loved Tuesday.
“Darling, who’s Cas?” Bela asked from the living room as Dean poured wine in the kitchen.
“None of your business,” Dean replied.
“Is it Cassie? Your Friday?” She flipped through one of the books. “No, she wouldn’t be giving you books. Why would anyone be giving you books? You’re too pretty to read.”
“So what you just admitted is that you don’t read. Put my damn books down, Bela.”
She acquiesced, but only because Dean handed her a glass of wine, and she insisted on pretentiously holding it with two hands.
“Cas,” Bela said, rolling it off her tongue. “Cas. Your boyfriend Cas. Your girlfriend Cas. Cas.”
Dean took a long drink of wine, trying to get himself into the right headspace to deal with Bela for the rest of the evening. He tried to remind himself that the sex was worth it, the sex was worth it, the sex was—
His phone rang.
“Cas, hey,” Dean said quickly, locking eyes with Bela.
“I know it’s late. I apologize. I just finished the first season of How to Get Away with Murder, and I had to talk about it right away. Would you like to—”
“Come over? Right now? Yes. Please.”
Dean walked toward Bela, holding his glass out to her and saying, “Lock up for me, would you? Try not to steal any of my shit.”
She took the glass, shock on her face as she now stood in his living room wearing her ridiculously sexy lingerie, wine glass in each hand. “No, no, no, I will cancel on you next week, Winchester, and I will make you come back begging for it, crawling on your goddamn knees, if you so much as consider walking out right—”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever, Bela. See you later.”
“I wasn’t trying to invite him over,” Castiel repeated for the fifth time. “I was trying to ask him if he’d like to come over tomorrow to start the second season.”
Hannah yawned. “Well, you could just explain to him when he gets here that you’re in the middle of a very long work week. Maybe you’ll go straight to bed.”
Castiel’s heart raced. “I don’t want to do that. I haven’t properly thought about having sex with him, so it would be unenjoyable for us both if I—”
“I meant going to sleep.” They stood from the couch and stretched. “Which is what I’m going to do right now. Night, Castiel.”
When Dean showed up a minute later, he seemingly only had on an oversized black t-shirt that said “BODY-ODY-ODY” in hot pink letters. It wasn’t until he held out the space trilogy to Castiel that the shirt lifted enough to reveal a pair of very tiny black gym shorts underneath.
“Finished it today,” Dean said shyly as he stepped past Castiel into the apartment. “The last one was the worst, but overall very fucking good.”
“Would you like some tea?” Castiel asked, opening a cabinet to get mugs.
“Uh, you got any booze? Oh, right, you don’t drink. Tea’s fine I guess.”
Castiel watched as Dean sat gingerly in a chair, his face screwed up in a wince.
Dean looked up at him, his eyes big and eager. “Yeah?”
Castiel blinked at him. “You know you can have sex that doesn’t hurt, right?”
Dean’s face turned as pink as the letters on his shirt. “I promise I like it. I’m not, like, being abused or whatever.”
Castiel turned away from him, taking his time making their tea. As he waited for the kettle to whistle, he impulsively walked over to Dean and wrapped an arm around his shoulders from behind and rested his chin on top of his head.
“Uh, Cas?” Dean reached up and put his hand on Cas’ wrist. “The hell are you doing?”
Castiel squeezed him tighter. “I believe it’s called a hug.”
Dean laughed softly and rubbed his thumb across Castiel’s skin. “Hey, do you wanna go out on Thursday?”
“Like a date?”
“Yeah, like a date.”
The kettle whistled, so Castiel kissed the top of Dean’s head and let him go.
“I’d like that. I won’t be done with work until 7 though.”
“That’s fine, I’ll make a reservation. Take you somewhere nice.”
Castiel set mugs on the table and leaned down to give Dean a slow, sweet kiss. He loved kissing Dean, and touching Dean, more than he had ever loved kissing and touching anybody else.
“So, what’d you think of the finale?” Dean asked.
They talked about How to Get Away with Murder until their mugs were empty. When Castiel fought back a yawn, Dean grabbed his hand and said, “C’mon, let’s get some sleep.”
In a panic, Castiel blurted out, “I don’t want to have sex with you.”
Dean stared at him.
“I mean, right now. Currently. I just—I need some sleep.”
Dean smiled and nodded reassuringly. “That’s OK, Cas. We can just sleep.”
Once they were in bed, Dean folded in on himself and seemed to still be in pain. Castiel shaped his body around him, tucking his knees up behind Dean’s and pressing his crotch lightly to his butt. He wrapped a strong arm around his waist and rubbed his hand gently up and down his stomach while placing kisses on his neck and hair.
“This is nice,” Dean said.
“You deserve nice things, Dean.”
Dean made a disbelieving huffing noise. After a few seconds, he said, “Cas, I…”
“I, um.” He cleared his throat and shifted, his butt pressing more firmly back against Castiel’s front. “I just really like spending time with you.”
“Me too, Dean.”
When Castiel’s alarm went off in the morning, Dean belatedly realized that he hadn’t brought a change of clothes over. He quickly rolled over in bed and accidentally smacked Cas in the face with the back of his hand.
“Ow,” Cas said, eyes closed and cheek smashed against a pillow. “Five more minutes.”
“Cas, I gotta go home. I’m gonna be late to work,” Dean whispered as he put his hand to Cas’ shoulder and kissed his temple in his rush to get out of bed. “I didn’t bring any—”
“Just borrow my scrubs,” Cas muttered, still not opening his eyes or moving. “I’m sure they’ll fit you just fine.”
“Oh. Um. OK. Should I just…?”
Cas raised a limp hand from the bed and pointed halfheartedly toward the closet, then he rubbed his face into the pillow and made a sleepy little noise.
Dean clenched both hands into fists at his sides, stuck in place as he watched Cas. The covers had gotten messy and tangled around him in the night, so Dean could see how he had one leg hiked up and one hand stretched down near his calf, the other arm tucked under his face. Dean resisted the primal urge to take a picture.
Cas’ scrubs fit better than Dean’s own scrubs. A more relaxed fit, it would make assisting patients with transfers so much easier. He picked out a nice light blue set and was fighting with his hair when Cas sleepily trudged into the bathroom, his own hair a huge mess, eyes half-closed.
“Morning,” Cas mumbled as he fetched his toothbrush from the countertop. “You look good in my scrubs.” He dropped a kiss to Dean’s shoulder.
“Not a morning person, huh?”
Cas grunted in response.
“Why don’t you switch to second shift?”
“Because I’m not a work-until-11-p.m. person, either.”
“Mm, yeah, I get that.”
Cas put his toothbrush in his mouth with one hand and rubbed his other hand along Dean’s lower back and down to his ass, where he grabbed a handful.
“Jesus, dude,” Dean yelped, tensing.
Cas spit into the sink then said, “It’s so firm,” like Dean’s ass was a specimen he was studying. He dug his fingers in. “With a body like this, you should be living at a beach. Or L.A.”
“I’ve been to L.A. on vacation once. I fit in a little too well.”
“Yeah, I’m sure.” Cas let go of his ass, giving it one final pat before going back into his room to change.
Dean smiled to himself and gave up on his hair, pushing his usual headband up into it.
At work, literally everyone noticed that Dean had new scrubs.
He lied and said he’d bought them because he was sick of his scrubs being so tight.
After work, he decided to make that lie the truth and went to the store and impulsively bought four new sets of scrubs, thinking all the while about how sad Mildred would be at the looseness of the material.
Skipping the gym once again, he went straight over to his Wednesday’s house after buying the scrubs. His Wednesday never drove to him, because they came from money and lived in a house so rich and fancy that it could be featured on a television show. Dean didn’t even think Wednesday worked, or at least, he’d never thought to ask him.
“Evening, darling,” Crowley said as they let Dean in through the side door. “I’ve made dinner for us.”
Crowley wasn’t exactly Dean’s type, one reason being that he and Bela shared that unfortunate accent, but he was rich and offered Dean very expensive whiskey and was hung like a goddamn horse.
The food was of course fancy and delicious, and Dean tried to get Crowley to eat it on the couch in front of the TV to avoid feeling like they were on a date, but Crowley insisted they sit at the elaborate dining room table. Despite Dean repeatedly telling Crowley he didn’t feel the same way, Crowley persistently tried to win him over.
Was the big dick worth it? Yeah.
“What have you been up to this week?” Crowley asked in a soft tone as they sat too close to Dean at dinner.
“Same ol’, same ol’. You know me,” Dean said stupidly.
Bela was the only day Crowley ever asked about, because she was the only one they could tolerate hearing about. Dean of course liked all the other days too much, and it made Crowley sad.
“I ditched her last night,” Dean said. “She sucks so badly.”
Crowley laughed lightly. “Doesn’t she come to your place? Did you boot her out?”
Dean should’ve lied. Instead, he answered, “Uh, I just went to a, um, new friend’s house and stayed there instead.”
Crowley’s face darkened. “New friend?”
“Maybe my new Thursday? I don’t know yet.”
“Yesterday wasn’t Thursday. You have very strict rules, Dean, or so you’ve told me.”
Dean scrubbed a hand down his face and sat back in his chair and tried not to think about how satisfied he felt with a belly full of wonderfully prepared food and expensive whiskey. “Yeah, and I keep fucking breaking them for this guy. I don’t know what to tell you.”
Crowley was very quiet for several long seconds. A very expensive clock was ticking on the wall. Eventually, they said, “So. You have feelings for him.”
“I...I don’t know.”
“You said you don’t catch feelings. You’ve told me repeatedly you don’t catch feelings.”
“I don’t!” Dean sat forward, desperately trying to make Crowley understand something that Dean himself didn’t understand. “Crowley, I’ve been doing this hookup thing since I was 20, and I’ve never—” He stopped himself, thought about Lisa. He always thought he felt differently for her because she had a kid, and he fell in love with the kid while falling in love with her. “—I don’t get hung up on people. I just don’t.”
“But you have.”
He could see perfectly in his mind’s eye Cas sleeping like a cute little angel in bed this morning. “Yeah.”
“You just couldn’t for me.”
“Crowley, I’ve told you…”
Crowley straightened up, folding their napkin in their lap and sniffling before looking up at Dean with a smile. “No, no, don’t worry about little old me. I’ve always known I’m just lucky to get any piece of you I can.” His eyes raked up and down Dean’s frame. “God knows you’ll always be out of my league.”
Dean shifted nervously in his seat. “Um. I’m still keeping my hookups. But if you don’t want to—”
“No,” Crowley interrupted. “It would take a lot more than that for me to give you up, as desperate and ridiculous as that makes me.” He shrugged and drank his whiskey. “I’ve got nothing better to do, might as well break my heart every Wednesday.”
Dean felt bad. He always felt bad at Crowley’s.
Until he was riding the biggest dick he’d ever ridden, and then he didn’t feel so bad.
Dean never, ever fell asleep at Crowley’s. He would lie in bed and wait until he was absolutely sure Crowley was out, then he would sneak out and head home. Crowley had never said anything about it, so Dean assumed they didn’t know.
When he got to work, Dean went to his usual spot with his laptop open across from Charlie and said, “Where should I take Cas for dinner tonight? I can make reservations online, right?”
Charlie snorted. “‘Area Man Hasn’t Been on a Date in So Long, He Forgot How Restaurants Work.’”
“‘Sick of Everyone’s Shit, Area Man Finally Snaps and Kills Best Friend.’”
“Oh, Dean, am I really your best friend?” Charlie asked sadly.
“What? Yeah, I think so.”
“Buddy, that’s so depressing. We’ve never even hung out outside of work.”
“We haven’t? No, I’m sure we have. Haven’t we?”
She shook her head in pity.
“Well, we should,” Dean said. “Why haven’t we, exactly?”
“Um, because you have a hookup for every single day of the week? And when you’re not having sex with your copious lovers, you’re at the gym keeping it tight to impress said lovers?”
Dean got lost in thought for a minute, trying to figure out where in his schedule he could fit Charlie. He definitely wanted to hang out with her outside of work.
“We’re doing Bobby’s birthday party today at lunch,” Charlie said. “We’re gonna surprise him in the dining hall, he’s gonna hate it.”
“Oh right, I almost forgot. I got him a new hat. What do you think are the chances I can convince him to stop wearing that old junky piece of shit hat he’s been wearing since before we were born?”
The morning went by quickly. Dean managed to make a reservation at an upscale restaurant that Mildred recommended. As he was texting Cas to let him know, he got another text from his Monday.
Pati: Yeah so I AM pregnant lol
Dean dropped his phone.
Pati: Gonna need your sexy little DNA.
Pati: No rush tho bc there’s like at least four other guys it could be
Dean took his current patient back to their room and then rushed to the bathroom and locked himself inside.
Dean: Pati I cannot be a dad [man making an X with his arms emoji, man holding baby emoji, man making an X with his arms emoji]
Pati: You’re the second hottest guy I fuck so it’s kinda a shame you don’t want a cute lil Deanie bean
Dean: Who the fuck is hotter than me
Pati: jfc my dude
Dean pocketed his phone and looked at himself in the mirror, trying to get his shit together before going out to Bobby’s party.
He could not be a dad.
He and Pati would have cute kids, though.
As he walked to the dining hall, images popped in his head of a chunky little brown baby, him and Pati doting on it as they sat together in the hospital room.
“What’s got you smiling so big?” Jody asked as she handed Dean a party hat and noise maker.
“Uh, nothing,” Dean replied awkwardly as he put the hat on.
Bobby grumbled through his entire party, opening gifts, blowing out the candles, spending quality time with other long-term residents and staff. The only time he looked happy was when he sat outside on the patio with Rufus while they waited for cake. Dean insisted on being the one to cut the cake, because it stopped him from eating a piece. He had cheated so much lately, he really needed to get back on track or else his summer was doomed.
After work, he went to the gym and held up Queenie on his way in the door, calling to Gordon as he passed the front desk, “Is this an acceptable book for the other guys to maintain their fantasies of me?”
Gordon ignored him.
He worked out harder than usual to make up for the lost days and to look swole for his date with Cas.
When he got home, he stripped to his underwear and stared at his clothes, frustrated as usual that he could never find exactly what he wanted in his closet. He ended up in Cas’ soft blue t-shirt with Sam’s dusty pink plaid button-down over it, with the top three buttons undone so his assortment of necklaces was visible. He had a chain with his three favorite rings on it, a plain cord with a gold amulet Sam gave him when they were kids, and a simple silver rose pendant his mom gave him after he came out to her a year before she died.
He put on a dark-wash pair of jeans and went to the bathroom to wrestle with his hair. After five minutes of fussing with it, he spotted the electric razor on his counter and stared at it for a few seconds, contemplating.
He forcefully picked it up and stomped his way over to Sam and Eileen’s, knocking urgently on their door.
Sam squinted at him. “That’s my shirt.”
Dean held the razor out to him. “I need a haircut.”
They dragged a chair into Sam and Eileen’s bathroom and draped towels around Dean’s shoulders as he looked up reference photos on his phone.
“I’m thinking, like, Tom Cruise’s typical length? Or like Brad Pitt in Fight Club,” Dean said distractedly. “Matt Damon in Bourne Identity.”
“So, like. A straight guy’s haircut,” Sam deadpanned.
Dean glared at him through the mirror. “Sammy, I will end your life.”
“OK, I’m just gonna start cutting and you tell me when to stop.”
Eileen came in and offered suggestions, but ultimately Dean ended up with a haircut that could’ve made him the seventh friend on Friends.
“Wow, that looks way better than before,” Eileen said in awe.
They were all staring at the mirror.
“Yeah, Dean, what the hell. You look great.”
Dean didn’t say anything for several long seconds. His ears stuck out too far and his neck looked longer, his forehead bigger.
He actually loved it. It was perfect. He said, “I look like a fucking straight guy.”
Dean leaned up against the side of his car in the parking lot of the restaurant, scrolling through his phone as he waited for Cas. He heard the old truck coming toward him, so he looked up in time to see Cas nearly crash his way into a parking spot as he took in Dean’s appearance.
“You cut your hair,” Cas said gruffly, barely shutting his door all the way in his rush to get over to Dean. He reached up to Dean’s hairline and ran his perfect fingers along the edge. “It looks so good.” He was gentle, tentative, as he carded his hand through it. “So much more like yourself.”
Dean wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but the compliment made him feel warm all over anyway. He leaned his head into Cas’ touch, closed his eyes and put a hand on his hip.
“Dean,” Cas said softly.
“Are you OK?”
Dean opened his eyes. “What? Yeah.” He leaned forward and pecked Cas on the lips. “You look good, too, Cas.”
Dean was sure Cas had just changed at work, but still, he looked good. He wore a simple navy blue button-down and gray chinos, an outfit Dean would never look twice if a stranger were wearing it, what with his shit gaydar.
They walked into the restaurant side-by-side, Dean throwing a casual arm around Cas’ shoulders to keep him close.
“Hey, Cas, you dress kind of like a straight guy,” Dean said.
“No, I don’t.”
Dean laughed. “Yeah, you kind of do. That’s, like, totally the kind of clothes a straight dude would wear.”
Inside the door, Cas turned a furrowed brow and a tilted head at Dean, making him stop before they got to the host stand. “I’m gay, Dean. I’m dressed like a gay person because I am gay and I dress like this. Whatever I wear is what a gay person wears.”
Dean blinked at him. “Whoa, sorry. I didn’t mean to make you defensive, I was just joking around.”
“I’m not—” Cas cut himself off, took a deep breath. “I don’t mean to be defensive. I know you’re not being malicious.”
Dean wrapped his arms low around Cas’ back and kissed him on the cheek. “Do you think anyone will think you’re straight if I do this?” He kissed him on the lips, a little dirty.
Cas pulled away after a second, rolled his eyes and tugged Dean by the hand toward the host stand.
In an attempt to impress Cas, Dean asked for a wine menu and then felt stupid as hell when he remembered that Cas didn’t drink. He didn’t order any for himself, either, opting instead for a plain old glass of water. Spending so much time with someone who didn’t drink made Dean acutely aware of just how much he drank. He could probably afford to cut back.
After they ordered their food, Cas asked how Dean had been, and Dean almost blurted out that he might be a dad. It actually would be a good way to explain his days system to Cas, but then Cas said a perfect sentence and Dean knew he wasn’t getting around to explaining shit to him anytime soon:
“I have tomorrow off.”
Dean whipped out his phone and texted Billie.
Dean: I’ve been puking all afternoon. Fever of 101. I can try to contact a PRN person to cover tomorrow if you want?
“What are you doing?” Cas asked.
“Calling in sick tomorrow,” Dean replied. He set his phone on the table to wait for Billie’s answer. “I would’ve had a short day anyway.”
Cas smiled at him. “What should we do tomorrow?”
Dean shrugged and smiled back. “Anything we want.”
By the time their food came, they were deep in discussion about books. They must’ve sounded like they were in a two-person book club for the entire meal. It wasn’t until they were walking back out to their cars together, Dean in the middle of a rant about Carl Sagan, that he realized this was the part of the evening where he should be seductively kissing his date against Baby and whispering in their ear, “Your place or mine?”
“Oh Christ, we drove separately,” Dean said instead. “Where we going?”
“Well, you don’t have roommates,” Cas said suggestively, turning toward Dean and carding a hand through his hair again, but it felt stilted this time, like Cas was just going through the motions. “So I think we should go to your place.”
“Yeah. Yeah, OK.” Dean kissed him quickly then pulled his keys out of his pocket. “You can follow me.”
Dean tapped his fingers impatiently against his steering wheel as he drove, not even in time with the music. Billie texted him back, telling him not to worry about it and to feel better soon. Of course she believed him, because he almost never called out. He certainly never called out for one of his hookups.
When they got to Dean’s house, he didn’t even wait until they were in the door before he continued complaining about Carl Sagan and how if C.S. Lewis was annoyingly religious in his sci-fi and fantasy then Carl Sagan was downright unbearable in his anti-religiousness and maybe both of them should’ve just—
Cas cut him off with a kiss, pushing him through the door and fumbling for the buttons of Dean’s (Sam’s) shirt and backing him up into the sideboard.
“Ouch, Cas—wait—whoa, whoa, wait.” Dean put one hand on Cas’ chest and the other on his waist and pulled away from him. “Have you ever read Contact?”
Cas frowned at him. “I thought...You want to keep talking about books right now? You don’t want to…?” He moved his eyes slowly down Dean’s front, getting closer to him, putting his hands back on Dean’s buttons. Then he stopped suddenly, his demeanor changing. “Is that my shirt?”
“Oh, um. Yeah.” Dean looked down at himself and shuffled his feet. “So, have you read Contact?”
Castiel dropped his hands away from Dean and sighed, looking off to the left. “Yes, I’ve read Contact.”
They watched Contact.
It was a longer movie than Dean remembered it being, so they got snacks halfway through and stripped down to underwear and t-shirts, and Dean kicked his feet up on the coffee table and slung an arm around Cas, holding him close to his side. As Jodie Foster took an intergalactic transit route inside her dodecahedron, Cas’ hand stilled in the bowl of popcorn and he jerked a couple times in his sleep.
Dean kissed the top of his head and fit his hand over his hip, rubbing gently so as not to disturb him. They stayed like that until the movie ended, then Dean very softly woke Cas up and was rewarded with sleepy confusion and messed-up hair.
“C’mon, buddy. Bed,” Dean whispered, helping Cas up off the couch.
“Oh my god, I missed the part where she went to space,” Cas grumbled as they walked together toward Dean’s room.
“Yeah, it’s OK. The special effects only kind of hold up.”
Castiel just barely woke up enough to brush his teeth, not awake enough to notice that Dean got him a toothbrush from his ridiculously large supply he kept under the sink for anybody who happened to be sleeping over. When they got in bed, Cas pressed himself firmly against Dean’s side and lazily kissed his neck and muttered, “Goodnight, Dean” before falling asleep practically on top of him.
Dean: Gonna have to cancel tonight, sweetheart. Sorry.
Cassie: Everything OK?
Dean: Yeah, just got some stuff going on. Randomly got the day off, trying to sort some things out.
Cassie: Alright I’ll see you next week, hon. Xoxo
Dean clicked out of his text messages and pulled up a search bar, typing in “how to get a paternity test.”
It was the early morning, sun barely up, and Dean was holding his phone in two hands awkwardly off to the side, straining to keep it steady due to having his arms wrapped around Cas. Dean was lying on his back; Cas was on his side, tucked under Dean’s armpit, sort of drooling on Dean’s (Cas’) t-shirt.
Google was rather unhelpful about DNA testing, so Dean texted Pati.
Dean: Getting a paternity test sounds tedious. I’m gonna procrastinate.
Pati: That’s fine. Thnx for waking me up for this, you great big bag of dicks.
Cas shifted and nuzzled, turning more fully into Dean and wrapping a strong arm around his waist before falling back to sleep.
Dean held his phone up high and snapped a picture of them both. He stared at it for two minutes.
After about 10 more minutes of scrolling through his phone, Dean’s stomach growled, and he felt like he couldn’t hold his pee much longer. He scooted his way out from under Cas, trying his best not to wake him, but as soon as they were apart Cas grumbled his annoyance.
“Coffee,” Cas mumbled against the sheets.
“Coming right up, sunshine,” Dean replied with a kiss to his forehead.
Dean took his time, realizing when he got to the kitchen that all of his drawers and cabinets had been reorganized into a nonsensical mess. It was the kind of clean and deliberately petty crime that only someone like Bela would commit. He spent half an hour putting everything back in order before bringing Cas a mug of coffee in bed and finding him still passed out.
“Cas,” Dean said loudly. “Wake up, sleepyhead.”
Cas scrunched his face up and made a deeply annoyed noise. “Where’s my coffee?”
Dean sat up against the headboard and held two mugs in his hands. “If you’d open your eyes you’d see that I have it right here.”
Cas grumbled some more, laboriously shifted and pushed himself up to a half-sitting position on his side and yawned as he snatched a mug out of Dean’s hand.
“Why are we up so early?” Cas asked after taking a drink.
“It’s 8, dude.”
“Yeah, so, why are we up so early?”
Dean nudged him. “C’mon, Cas, I’ve been awake almost two hours. Hang out with me.”
Cas turned to his back and dropped his head against the outside of Dean’s arm. “What do you want to do today?”
They sat together in silence, drinking their coffee for a few minutes.
“Dean, I have to tell you something.”
Dean’s heart sank. “Uh-oh.”
“I PRN at your SNF,” Cas said somberly. “Not very often, but I saw you there one time and stalked you on Facebook.”
Dean barked out a laugh and moved his arm around Cas’ shoulders. “Is that why you were eyeing me at Chipotle?”
“Yes. I couldn’t place you at first.”
“Oh, I just thought you were staring because I look like this.” Dean gestured to himself.
“Well, yes, that too.”
Castiel reached across Dean to set his mug on the nightstand. He then slid his perfect hand under the hem of Dean’s (Cas’) shirt and pushed up the material so he could cup a pec. He lazily worked his mouth around Dean’s neck and pressed his morning wood against his thigh.
“What do your tattoos mean?” Cas whispered against his skin.
“Uh.” Dean closed his eyes, tried to focus. “The roses around the lion face are for my mom. The forest and, uh, the lion are just, uh—they just look cool, I guess.”
Cas kissed a line down his collarbone. “Oh, I thought they might’ve been from a favorite book or something.”
“No, that would be awesome, but it’s too—” Dean cut himself off and arched into Cas’ touch.
Cas slid his hand down the front of Dean’s boxer briefs and stroked him slowly, bringing him to hardness. “But you just said it would be awesome. It’s your body, you should do what you want with it.”
Dean laughed and rocked his hips up. “Yeah, and the main thing I want to do with it is get laid, so. No nerd shit.”
“Hm,” he repeated.
“I get that you have perfect hands, but you gonna use anything else down there, or…?”
Cas’ hand stilled around Dean’s shaft. “Um. Would you like to top or bottom?”
“Oh Christ, dude, please don’t tell me you’re a virgin.”
Cas removed his hand completely, sighing loudly as he rolled on top of Dean, pressing his full weight down against his lap. He kissed him hard, moving his tongue in a bruising rhythm inside Dean’s mouth.
“I am not,” Cas said between their lips. “Just based on what I’ve gathered about your sexual exploits, I assume nobody’s ever asked you that question. So I’m asking.”
“Oh.” Dean relaxed, settling his hands on Cas’ hips. “Um, bottom.”
Castiel nodded sweetly before leaning back in and kissing Dean again.
They kissed like they had all day, because they did. Eventually clothes came off, and eventually Cas got around to fucking Dean.
He took him apart gently, using towels and a generous amount of lube—making sure to ask Dean which bottle to use from the nightstand, which nobody ever took the time to ask despite the fact that there were four different types of lube in there—and propping him up with pillows, repeatedly asking him if he was comfortable, then he put a condom on and made love to Dean slowly and carefully, kissing him and touching him and making sure Dean came first.
Afterward, Cas asked Dean if he wanted help cleaning up—“I’m a nurse, Dean, nothing about the body bothers me”—and Dean waved him off and hurried to the bathroom and shut the door so Cas couldn’t see him cry.
It was only two tears, but still. Dean did not cry after sex.
When he came out of the bathroom, Cas was no longer in bed. Dean put on a new pair of boxer briefs and Cas’ blue shirt and walked out to the kitchen to find Cas standing at the stove, wearing one of Dean’s oversized t-shirts—bright pink, with a picture of Cher from Clueless on the front and the phrase “AS IF” at the bottom.
“I saw you have an assortment of nut butters and fresh fruit, so I’m making crepes,” Cas said as he cooked.
Cas turned and looked at him.
“You OK, buddy?” Dean asked.
“Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?”
Dean narrowed his eyes at him. “OK.”
They sat across from each other at the kitchen table for breakfast, making small talk with Dean doing most of the talking. He noticed after a few minutes that Cas was definitely avoiding eye contact with him, so he repeated, “Cas.”
Cas looked at him.
“What’s on your mind? C’mon, you can tell me.”
Cas sighed dramatically and turned his head to the side. “I’m not very good at sex.”
“What? What do you—that’s not something you say after great sex.”
“You don’t have to patronize me, Dean, I know you’re used to—”
“Cas, man, listen to me. I just fucking cried in the bathroom because you took such good care of me. I can have good sex anytime I want it, obviously, but crying after sex is, like, a once-in-a-decade thing.”
Cas squinted at him, tilted his head to the side. “It wasn’t...terrible?”
“Did you think it was terrible?” Dean’s eyes widened. “Oh god, am I bad at sex?”
“No. No, of course not, Dean.” Cas put his elbow on the table and hunched over, running his hand up through his hair. “As I said before, I don’t really think much about sex. If I want to have sex with someone, it’s usually because I feel like they want to have sex with me and I should provide them with the opportunity. And then it takes a lot for me to, uh, build up the courage to do it because I don’t know what’s good and what isn’t.”
“So, um. Did you like having sex with me? And don’t tell me you’re glad you made me feel good, I’m asking if you enjoyed yourself.”
It took Cas a few seconds to answer. “I think so. It certainly felt good.”
“And would you do it again?”
“Yes, I believe so.”
Dean took a bite of his crepes. His mouth full, he said, “Glowing review of my skill in the bedroom, sweetheart.”
Cas smiled softly at him. “I’m sure I’m not the most exciting sexual partner you’ve had.”
“Well, definitely the most intimate,” Dean said stupidly. He froze, fork halfway to his mouth. “I mean, uh. Who said that?”
“You did,” Cas deadpanned. “But I’ll let it slide just this once, and then I’ll bring it up when you’re at your most vulnerable.”
After breakfast, they brainstormed what to do with the rest of their day while Dean did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen, and Cas went to the bookshelf and snooped.
They didn’t make any decisions before Cas got distracted by the books and asked Dean which ones he could borrow. He pulled out and put back several, not bothering to slot them properly and instead putting the spines out, leaving them on their sides, on the coffee table.
Usually this kind of destruction of Dean’s organization would make him lose his mind, but he was too busy talking to Cas to care.
They ended up snuggled on the couch together, and after yet another book club meeting between the two of them, the conversation died down and they each silently began reading their own books.
When a knock broke them out of their reverie, they both jumped in surprise. Dean looked around, noticed the angle of the light coming through the window and determined that they had been reading together for at least two hours.
In a daze, he opened the door to reveal Sam.
“Damn, I just cannot get over how good your hair looks like that,” he said, eyes on Dean’s hair as he came inside. “Why’re you home? Finally get fired from your job?”
“No, I, uh. Called out.” Dean pointed over his shoulder toward the living room. “Cas and I are hanging out.”
“Oh.” Sam looked over at the couch. “Hi, Cas.”
“Hello, Sam. Nice to see you again.”
Sam nodded and gave Cas a tightlipped smile before turning back to Dean. “Well, uh, I was just checking on you because I saw your car here. I was gonna ask if you wanted to go for a run with me before I have to go back to work, but you’re busy, so—”
“Go for a run if you want, Dean,” Cas called from the couch. “I’ve got another hundred pages of this book.”
Dean turned sad eyes on Cas, longing to be tucked up next to him on that couch. To Sam, he said, “Nah, I’m gonna stay here with Cas.”
Sam made a confused face at Dean and silently gestured for him to step outside with him.
Once out on the porch, Dean impatiently asked Sam, “What?”
“Seriously, Dean. You know you’re breaking all your arbitrary rules for this guy, right?”
Sam shifted from foot to foot. “Why? Are you dating him?”
“No. I don’t know,” Dean said. “I’m not giving up any of my other people for him.”
“You canceled on Cassie for him though.”
“How the hell do you know—”
“I texted her about getting some eggs.” Sam ran a hand up through his hair and looked over at his own front door. “I gotta get going. Look, Dean, it’s OK if you have feelings for Cas. Just, like, be honest about it for once in your life.”
“OK, Sam, thanks so much, now fuck off.”
As Sam walked the short distance over to his own house, he called back to Dean, “Does he like your haircut?”
“Yeah, he likes my fucking haircut.”
Back inside, Cas asked, “Everything OK?” without looking up from his (Dean’s) book.
“Yeah, we’re good.” Dean grabbed a bag of tortilla chips from the kitchen and joined Cas on the couch. “I didn’t wanna go for a run anyway, I hate running.”
Cas huffed a light laugh. “Why do it then? I try not to make a habit of doing things I hate.”
“What, you think I just look like this without putting in some work?”
Cas moved closer to Dean and put his hand under his t-shirt, feeling every line of his torso. “Do you like your body?”
Dean blinked at him. “You’re kinda weird, Cas.”
He tweaked a nipple. “That doesn’t answer my question.”
“I guess I don’t think much about it. I like how other people enjoy it.”
“Like how I am with sex.”
Dean threaded his fingers up through Cas’ hair. “You should enjoy sex for you, though. My body’s just a body. Who cares.”
“Hmm. I still think you should do whatever you want and not worry what other people think.”
“Well, what do you think?” Dean puffed his chest out, pushing against Cas’ hand. “You sure seem to enjoy it.”
“Yes, well, I enjoy you, whether you have abs or not.”
Dean rolled his eyes and kissed Cas to get him to shut up. If Cas liked Dean for something other than his perfect looks, then he would find himself getting sick of him very quickly. If Dean wanted to keep Cas, he would have to find a way to convince him that looks mattered, actually.
They made out on the couch for several long, lazy minutes. When Dean grew tired of holding himself up over Cas, he dropped down on top of him and rested his cheek on his chest and asked him if he wanted to watch a movie.
Dean purposely suggested a boring movie, hoping they would get tired of it and have sex instead, but what actually happened was that they fell asleep on the couch together.
The rest of the day was much of the same—talking, eating, touching, one more round of mind-blowingly gentle sex before bed.
As Dean fell asleep with Cas curled up behind him, he wondered if they would spend all of Saturday together, too. Benny wouldn’t be happy if he canceled, but he could worry about that in the morning.
On Saturday, despite Dean’s protestations, Cas declared that he was overstaying his welcome and should get home. He left Dean’s house just in time for Dean to make it to the bar to meet Benny.
“What’s wrong?” Benny asked as soon as Dean greeted him with a kiss.
Dean waved him off. “Nothing, just too much going on lately.”
“Well, let me help take your mind off some things.”
They stayed at the bar only an hour or so, Dean playing his usual half-assed game of pool as he thought about Cas. He still won, but just barely.
When Benny noticed the one hickey Cas had accidentally left on him, he went through the typical routine of possessiveness, but Dean couldn’t take it.
“Dude, stop,” Dean said, batting Benny’s hand away. “Can we just, like, be normal tonight?”
Benny took a step back, assessing him. “I knew something was up with you, Dean. You ain’t need to hide from me.”
Dean sighed. They were standing out in the parking lot of the bar, about to drive separately over to Benny’s place. “Can you just—can you not mark me tonight? And for the love of god, use silicone lube. Please?”
Benny crowded him against the side of the car, bearing down on him. “Bossy tonight—”
“Jesus, Benny, I’m not—I’m not fucking around.” Dean pushed him off of him.
“You know what, forget it. I’m going home. Sorry.”
As Dean wrenched open his car door, Benny shouted at him, “I told you we needed a safe word, shug!”
Dean went home and curled up in his softest sleep sweatshirt and ate a bowl of ice cream and finished reading Queenie before falling asleep.
On Sunday, Dean got up early and did some Facebook stalking and found Hannah. He messaged them and asked what to bring them and Cas for breakfast. Hannah responded within minutes, saying she wasn’t home but Cas loved Dunkin’.
So Dean showed up at Cas’ apartment with his arms full of Dunkin’ and when Cas buzzed him in, he said, “Here, hand me a package and I’ll pretend to be Ben Affleck."
Cas didn’t get it. Dean didn’t mind.
Cas was so appreciative of the gesture that he insisted on giving Dean one of the most incredible blowjobs he’d ever gotten.
They hung out at Cas’ apartment all morning then went for a walk in the afternoon and then Dean realized the time and apologized to Cas half a dozen times before racing home to get ready for Jesse and Cesar’s.
As soon as Jesse opened the door, he asked, “You didn’t see Benny yesterday?”
“What? Oh.” Dean self-consciously rubbed his shoulder. “No, uh, kinda sick of being bruised all the time.”
Jesse’s face lit up. “Oh, that’s fantastic news,” he said as he wrapped Dean in a bear hug.
Cesar reacted much the same way. They spent a good portion of the evening admiring Dean’s new haircut and his unblemished body, stripping him down and lavishing him in kisses and caresses.
Before they had sex, though, Jesse and Cesar sat up on the bed with Dean between them and announced that they had to talk to him about something.
“God, don’t tell me you guys are having a kid, too,” Dean teased.
They didn’t laugh. Cesar said, “We need to take a break for a while, Dean.”
“Like, from each other? No, wait, you mean me. A break from me?”
Jesse put a hand on his thigh and rubbed it reassuringly. “We’re working through some personal issues, things that have nothing to do with you, but we don’t want to use you.”
“We realized that we’ve been using you to avoid our problems,” Cesar added. “Focusing on you helps us get along with each other for at least two days each week. It’s not sustainable, unfortunately.”
“And we can’t rely on you to hold our marriage together, especially without even telling you that we’ve been doing that.”
A week ago, Dean would have absolutely lost his shit at losing Jesse and Cesar. They doted on him and spoiled him like nobody ever could, and they would be impossible to replace. But now, less than two days out from crying after sex, Dean could handle it.
He said, “I’m sorry, fellas, I had no idea you had any problems.”
“That’s very sweet of you, Dean,” Jesse said. “But you don’t have to worry about us. What about you? How do you feel about this?”
“Oh, don’t—it’s OK, really. I mean, I’ll miss you two, but I’ll be OK.” He looked between the two of them. “What about Mykonos?”
“We’re definitely still planning on going with you,” Cesar confirmed.
Dean nodded. “OK. Uh, so what now?”
Jesse and Cesar looked at each other, clearly having a silent conversation. It was Jesse who turned to Dean and said, “If you’re up for it, breakup sex?”
Dean was definitely up for it.
On Monday, Dean desperately wanted to tell Charlie everything that had happened to him over the weekend, but they didn’t have time between patients to really get into it.
Lucky for Dean, Pati canceled on him.
Pati: My fave fuckbuddy is going with me to the doctor today. Better luck next week, second fave fuckbuddy.
Dean: [fingers crossed emoji] He’s the dad [fingers crossed emoji]
“Hey, Charlie, you wanna hang out after work today?” Dean asked at lunch.
“Did your Monday cancel?” Charlie said.
Charlie squinted at him. “If we hang out, does that mean I have to have sex with you?”
“Ugh, and catch your lesbian cooties? No thank you.”
They went to Chipotle after work and stayed there for so long that Dean got up to order more food not once but twice. They agreed to find room in their schedules to hang out outside of work at least once a week.
On Tuesday, Dean assumed Bela would cancel on him due to the stunt he pulled last week, but she showed up at his door unannounced and tied him to his bed before riding him. She didn’t say a word to him even as she got close to coming and unmounted, sitting on his face to finish, then walked naked into the bathroom and stayed in there for 10 minutes. He was still tied to the bed and hadn’t come yet.
When Bela returned, she sat on the edge of the bed and lit up a cigarette.
“I wasn’t serious last week when I said you were letting yourself go,” she said. “But honestly, Dean, have you been bingeing? You’re positively bloated.”
Dean felt his face flush. His arms restrained, all he could do was look down at his abdomen and see the slight convexity of it, his abs invisible. Two weeks of eating whatever the hell he wanted and skipping workouts was already starting to take effect.
“Are you gonna untie me?” Dean asked.
She turned an irritated face at him. “What the hell is up with you lately? We don’t even have fun banter anymore. It’s just pointless.”
“OK. So, can you untie me and get the fuck out of here then?”
She rolled her eyes and moved to undo the ties. “Goddamn, you’re boring these days. You’re acting like the married men I fuck. Did you get a wife recently?”
“Yeah, and she’s way hotter than you. Get out of here, Bela.”
After she left, Dean went to the bathroom and looked at himself in the mirror. He looked pretty much the same as he always looked—jacked arms, big pecs, small waist—but his belly was definitely softer, not as flat. He pulled his scale out and discovered that he had gained six pounds. Once the initial shame passed, he found that he didn’t really mind all that much.
Despite being blue-balled by Bela, Dean wasn’t in the mood to finish himself off and instead ate three bowls of cereal and went to bed.
On Wednesday, Dean dreaded spending his evening with Crowley so much that he felt sick at work. The problem was that if he canceled, Crowley would ask a bunch of questions and expect legitimate answers, and Dean was not ready to have that conversation with him.
So he sucked it up and went over to his house and ate his delicious food and drank his expensive alcohol and pretended like everything was fine.
The sex was still good, as the sex with Crowley was pretty much always good. But then Crowley pulled Dean up against their side in bed and stroked his back and asked in a quiet tone, “How much longer are you gonna be this jealous with your time, Dean?”
“I count down the days each week until I get to see you again. I give you your space, I don’t bother you with texts or calls, I let you decide on the schedule—so how much longer? When do I get more of you?”
“Crowley, I...I don’t have more to give,” Dean said, his head resting on Crowley’s chest.
“Yes, your ridiculous days and in your mind I’m just Wednesday, but why do you need so many others? I could give you what they give you, whatever that is. Tell me.”
Dean wanted to get up, to leave, but his body was stuck in place, naked and pathetic in Crowley’s arms. “Please, Crowley. Don’t push me.”
Crowley sighed deeply. “I won’t wait forever, Dean.”
Yeah, that’s what I’m counting on, Dean thought. He said nothing.
The second he was sure Crowley was asleep, he left.
Thursday was Dean’s favorite day of the week.
He skipped the gym and grabbed takeout on his way over to Cas’ and was rewarded with a kiss. It was too early to eat the takeout food, so they stashed it in the fridge and took Dean’s car to the movie theater on a whim.
“This is a very unique car,” Cas said from Baby’s passenger seat.
“Yeah, uh, it was my parents’,” Dean responded. “I wish I drove something a little less gaudy, like, maybe something more environmentally conscious or whatever, but, you know, it’s the family car.”
Cas sighed. “Tell me how you actually feel about your car.”
Dean blew out a breath between his lips. “I love this car more than I love everything but Sammy. I would kill a man for this car.”
Cas reached his hand over and brushed his fingertips at the nape of Dean’s neck. “That’s better. No lies you use to impress gay men, OK? There’s no need for that with me.”
Dean leaned into his touch. “Yeah. Yeah, I know.”
The movie kind of sucked, so they moved to a corner in the back row and whispered through the entire thing. They shared a large popcorn, and Dean drank his weight in Coke slush.
As they were leaving, Dean slung an arm over Cas’ shoulders and kept him close to his side and talked his ear off about the parts of the movie he hated. Before they made it to the door, Dean made eye contact with a guy he used to know and didn’t look away fast enough to avoid talking to him.
“Hey, Lee,” Dean said awkwardly, putting some distance between him and Cas so Cas wouldn’t feel pressured to introduce himself.
“Wow, look at you. Hardly recognized you with that hair,” Lee replied, looking Dean up and down. “You doing alright for yourself?”
“Yeah, doing fine.” Dean looked at Cas apologetically and then back to Lee. “We’re just, uh, heading—”
“I’m Lee.” He grinned at Cas. “What are you, fuckbuddy number nine?”
Cas raised an eyebrow at him but said nothing.
Dean took a mental picture of Cas’ face to add to his spank bank.
“I’ll see you later, Lee,” Dean mumbled, grabbing Cas by the hand and continuing toward the door.
“You know my number! If you ever change your mind!” Lee called after them.
In the parking lot, Cas asked, “Ex?”
“You don’t want to say anything more about that?”
Dean shook his head. “Not really.”
Dean thought Cas might be mad at that response, but once they were in the car Cas put his hand on Dean’s thigh and rubbed it soothingly the entire ride back to his apartment.
The takeout food was waiting for him when they walked in, but Dean’s jeans were way too fucking tight and his short-sleeve striped button-down was constricting his biceps and neck, so he asked Cas if he could shower and didn’t wait for a response before heading toward the bathroom.
He had packed his own clothes to wear at Cas’, but the call of the blue t-shirt was too strong and he found himself nakedly sifting through Cas’ closet for more like it. He found a dark green long-sleeved shirt and a pair of loose-fitting plaid pajama bottoms and walked out to the kitchen to see Cas wearing boxer briefs and Dean’s “BODY-ODY-ODY” t-shirt.
“Oh, I didn’t realize I left that here,” Dean said as he took a seat at the table, his food already set out for him.
“I suppose we’ll need to do a clothing exchange soon,” Cas said grimly, pulling at the oversized shirt.
“Don’t worry about it. That looks better on you than it does on me anyway.”
Cas looked curiously at Dean’s (Cas’) shirt. “I think you look better in my clothes. They suit you.”
“You think so?”
“Your clothes make you look good, but…”
Dean took a bite of food and waited.
“You never seem fully comfortable in them.”
Dean huffed a laugh. “Yeah, ‘cause I’m not. I’m miserable most of the time.”
Cas frowned at him. “You should wear what you like, Dean.”
“Yeah, well, I like your clothes, so these are mine now. Sorry.”
“We really are doing a clothing exchange then.”
Cas winked at him, and Dean blushed.
They went to bed somewhat early and had slow, easy sex followed by slow, easy caressing. As they were winding down to go to sleep, Dean lay on his back and Cas pressed up against his side and ran his fingertips along the planes of Dean’s softening abdomen. Dean felt like he should say something, explain himself, tell Cas about the six pounds, but Cas was touching him so perfectly that it seemed like a moot point.
“What did Lee mean,” Cas said eventually, his head pillowed on Dean’s chest, “when he said ‘if you change your mind’?”
Dean took a deep breath. “You sure you wanna know?”
“I would like to know anything about you that you’re willing to share.”
Dean closed his eyes and said, “I, uh, was friends with him a long time ago. There was a group of us right out of college, and I was a little bit younger because, you know, associate’s degree, and I, um, thought I was gay back then.” Dean rubbed Cas’ back in an attempt to center himself. “All the guys I hung out with were gay, and we did all the typical shit you do when you’ve just figured out your sexuality, and then I, uh, realized I wasn’t gay.”
“Hmm.” Cas kept up his ministrations.
“When I told them I thought I was bi, they didn’t really wanna be friends with me anymore,” Dean continued. “They thought I was, like, betraying them and that I must secretly be straight or I’m ashamed of being gay or whatever. I tried to keep hanging out with them, but they’d say shit like I wasn’t acting ‘flamboyant’ enough or I was too macho, and eventually I just got tired of it and they cut me out.”
Cas was quiet for a long time, still moving his fingertips along the surface of Dean’s skin. All he said was, “Taking issue with your sexuality says more about their insecurities than it does about yours. If Lee still thinks that way after all these years, then I feel sorry for him.”
Dean wrapped his free arm around Cas and linked his hands together around Cas’ back, squeezing him tighter to him. “I’ve never really told anybody about that.”
Cas pressed a kiss to his sternum. “What was the woman’s name?”
“The woman who made you realize you were bi.”
Cas kissed him again. “I’m sure she’s lovely.”
“Yeah, she is. How’d you know there was a woman, Cas?”
Cas lifted his head off Dean’s chest and hovered over him. “Because I know you.”
Dean hummed, rubbing his hands up and down Cas’ sides as they kissed.
Cas pulled away after a few seconds and dropped his weight fully on top of Dean. “So,” he said, a smile spreading across his face. “Sex with me is the most intimate sex you’ve had?”
Heat rose to Dean’s face. “Oh, you fucker.”
Through laughter, Cas said, “I told you. When you were at your most vulnerable—”
“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Dean kissed him, then held his face in the palm of his hand and stroked his cheek with his thumb as he assessed him. “I like you, Cas. Is that OK?”
Cas closed his eyes and pressed their foreheads together. “Of course.”
At work on Friday, Dean felt anxious and on edge all day and had no idea why. His coworkers gave him a wide berth but Mildred had no such qualms.
“Oh honey, you are pining for somebody bad,” she said after spending just two minutes with Dean.
In a moment of clarity, Dean decided to come clean. “Mildred, you know about my lifestyle, right?”
She made a face at him. “I assure you, Dean, you don’t need to explain sexuality to me.”
“No, no, I mean—I have a whole system that I use,” he explained as he set up the TENS unit on her shoulder. “I have different people that I sleep with every day of the week, and I only see them on that particular day each week.”
“Goodness, I knew you were an organized and regimented person, but I didn’t realize it was that bad. How the hell do you live like that?”
“What do you mean? It’s awesome.”
Mildred scoffed at him, shaking her head judgmentally. “It may be good if all you care about is sex, but—”
“Sex is all I care about.”
“—It closes you off completely to actually developing feelings for anyone.”
Dean pouted. “Exactly. I don’t want feelings.”
“But you’re such a gentle and caring person. Why wouldn’t you want to be close to people?”
“I’m close to people,” Dean argued, stamping down the warm feelings in his belly at Mildred’s assertion that he was gentle. “I’m just not, like, in love with anybody.”
“Except you kind of seem like you are, hon,” Mildred said sweetly.
“I just met him, like, two weeks ago! I mean, yeah, maybe I have stronger feelings for him than I usually have for people, but that’s stupid.” Dean threw his hands up in the air. “A guy, what? Asks me poignant questions during movies and recommends good books to me, and suddenly I’m in love? Are you fucking kidding me?”
Mildred shook her head. “You poor, stupid boy.”
After work, Dean pushed himself too hard at the gym and nearly puked. He had to do an extra half-hour of stretching before feeling well enough to go over to Cassie’s house.
“Oh my god, your hair,” Cassie said as soon as he came in from the garage.
Dean self-consciously patted the side of it. “Do you like it?”
“Yeah. It’s kind of retro, but it suits you way better.”
“Yeah, everybody keeps saying that.”
Cassie pulled celery stalks and hummus out of the fridge and set them on the counter as she said, “Your clothes are different, too. What the hell did I miss in the past week?”
Dean grabbed a piece of celery, dipped it in hummus and bit off half of it. “I think I have feelings for my Thursday.”
“Yeah, I don’t know.” Dean shrugged then used his arms to hop himself up onto the counter.
“So, are you, like, dating him?”
“Kind of? I mean, he knows I see other people, but he doesn’t know about all the...you know, how I have a person for each day. He doesn’t even know I refer to him as Thursday, which, I should probably stop doing because I feel like it would break his fucking heart.”
Cassie joined Dean on the counter, leaving enough space between them for the hummus. “Are you gonna, like, be monogamous?”
“I don’t know. Maybe?”
“That’s funny, that’s the opposite of me and my husband. Monogamy first, then realized we hated it.”
“Was it hard though?” Dean looked at her, suddenly realizing how ridiculous it was that they had never had this conversation. “Like, who brought it up first and how’d you figure everything out?”
“Well, it wasn’t easy. We were fighting all the time and had a volatile relationship, and one time when I was really mad at him I tried to hurt him by saying I wanted to see other people. Then he said he wanted to see other people, too.” She laughed. “Then it just clicked. And it was easy from there.”
Dean hummed. “Yeah, my situation’s different.”
“Dean, what do you think it says about you that you showed up at one of your hookups’ houses wearing another of your hookups’ clothes?”
“I’m not wearing a hookup’s clothes, I’m wearing Cas’—oh. Oh, Jesus.” Dean stared off into the distance, his eyes glazing over.
There was a long pause before Cassie said, “You just realized you have a boyfriend, didn’t you?”
Dean excused himself from Cassie’s house and drove straight home.
Cas texted Dean late on Friday night, while Dean was pacing around his living room having a thought spiral.
Cas xoxo: Movie night tomorrow?
Dean: sorry buddy i’ve got a lot going on this weekend i may have to raincheck xoxo
Cas xoxo: Everything OK?
Dean: yeah i’ll call you if my schedule frees up
Dean tried to go to bed, but he tossed and turned and finally gave up and read a book instead. But then he couldn’t focus on what he was reading, so he gave up on that, too, and tried to go back to bed and still couldn’t sleep. He dusted and wiped down every single surface in his house and then it was still only 11 p.m.
He texted Charlie and asked if she wanted to meet him at a gay bar.
Charlie: Hell yeah
He changed out of Cas’ soft clothes and into his ugliest outfit—cut-off jean shorts and a baseball-sleeve red crop top—and took an Uber to the bar, knowing he would not be sober enough to drive himself home.
Charlie didn’t ask him any questions and didn’t seem to notice anything off about him, as she ordered double shots for both of them and loudly announced that she was going to find someone to go home with before Dean did.
“That’s my goal tonight,” she shouted over the music, two shots down. “To leave before you do.”
“Charlie, I’m not trying to get la—”
“Hi,” a guy said from behind Dean.
“Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me!” Charlie shouted, annoyed, as she stalked away from the bar and out onto the dance floor.
Dean turned to the guy and had to move his head back to get a good look at him, because the guy was sitting so close. He was Black with dark skin, his head shaved on the sides and short twists on top, perfectly white teeth and a jawline that could cut glass.
“I’m Jerome,” he said.
“Oh no, I heard about you from my friend Lizzo, you’re bad news,” Dean teased.
Jerome leaned in close and yelled in Dean’s ear, “You know, I never get sick of that joke no matter how many white people say it to me.”
Dean snorted a laugh. “You wanna get out of here, Jerome?”
“Let me buy you at least one drink first.”
Dean got another double shot, followed by a vodka soda, then finally a beer. He and Jerome yelled over the music at each other about nothing in particular until Dean once again asked if he wanted to leave, and Jerome agreed this time.
Jerome had barely had anything to drink, so he drove them to Dean’s house.
It was sloppy. Dean was sloppy. He kissed clumsily, then took too long to get hard, then couldn’t find the right rhythm with his hips as they thrust together. Jerome thankfully was patient and average-sized, so Dean didn’t have any pain during or after.
Jerome wasn’t much for cuddling, as he was already putting his pants back on when Dean came out of the bathroom.
“You OK to drive this late?” Dean asked gruffly, feeling silly in his nakedness.
“Oh yeah, it’s no problem.” He crossed the room and kissed Dean chastely. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to hurry out like this, I just...”
“If you’re worried I’ll expect something from you if you spend the night, I won’t. You can sneak out before I wake up in the morning. I don’t care.” Dean looked down at Jerome’s bare chest and ran his hand along it. “C’mon, let me give you a soft bed to sleep in. That wasn’t, uh, exactly my best performance.”
Jerome laughed and put his hands on Dean’s hips, bending down to kiss him again. He was a couple inches taller than Dean, probably about Sam’s height. “If that was what your bad looks like, then maybe I should stick around for your good.” He pressed his lips to Dean’s neck then whispered, “You’re very fucking sexy.”
Dean wrapped his arms around his back. “C’mon, stay. I’ll be better in the morning.”
Jerome stayed. But he left before Dean woke up.
Before Dean willed himself to get out of bed, Sam let himself in and yelled from the kitchen that Dean needed to get up and go for a run with him.
“Don’t wanna,” Dean yelled back, turning to his side and wrapping his duvet up around his head.
Sam came to his room and stood in the doorway. “Who was that guy that left here earlier?”
“Do you and Eileen just spy on me all day? You don’t have better things to do?”
“You didn’t go to Cassie’s last night?”
Dean sat up on the side of the bed with a groan, keeping the duvet wrapped around his head. “I left her place pretty early. Do we have to run?”
“Ugh, I don’t care.” He fell back over against the sheets.
“C’mon, dude, you’ll care when it’s summer and you wanna be shirtless all the time. Let’s go.”
Dean believed Sam was right long enough to convince him to go for a run, but during mile three Dean wanted nothing more than to stop and never run again in his life. All he could think was, Why the hell do I do this?
He made it five miles before walking his way back to the car and waiting for Sam to finish.
Back at home, Dean showered and changed and got a text from Benny.
Benny: Can we skip the bar tonight and maybe I can just come over? We can talk.
Dean: Yeah that sounds good.
Benny showed up with pizza and beer and an apologetic demeanor.
“You didn’t have to do that, Benny,” Dean mumbled, avoiding eye contact as he took the pizza box and led Benny to the couch.
“How you feeling, Dean?” Benny asked carefully.
“Uh, like shit.” Dean huffed a self-deprecating laugh and shoved half a slice of pizza in his mouth.
“I’ve been too rough with you lately.”
Dean looked over at Benny and waited for him to continue.
“Being with you, Dean, it’s...Well, you’re a handful. Not in a bad way, I mean, I just get caught up in it. In you.” Benny sighed and ran a hand up through his short hair. “But I know you. And I know our time together’s coming to an end here soon.”
Dean’s instinct was to argue, to reassure him that everything was fine, but that would be a lie and Dean found it hard to lie to Benny. Instead, he said, “I’m sorry. Last week, I was, uh, unfair to you. I’m just going through some stuff, and I...I don’t know if I can keep living how I’ve been living.”
Benny was quiet for so long that Dean had time to stress-eat three slices of pizza. Eventually, Benny said, “You met somebody?”
“It’s your Thursday, ain’t it?”
Dean nodded, drank some beer.
Benny scooted across the couch and took the beer out of Dean’s hand and set it on the coffee table. He then put his arms around Dean and hugged him.
“You know I love you, Dean,” he said quietly. “You were just a baby when I met you, and I’m so glad I got to be there through all your worst shit.”
Dean fisted a hand into the back of Benny’s shirt. “I still need you, Benny.”
“Yeah. Yeah, I know.” Benny released him and gently kissed his forehead. “I’m still gonna be here, but I think you need a friend right now more than anything. So. Friends?”
“Yeah, sounds good.”
“Alright now, tell me about Thursday.”
On Sunday morning, Dean skipped his run with Sam and went to the nail salon with Eileen instead.
They had a favorite place that had pedicure chairs that faced each other, which made it easier to sign with one another.
“I don’t think we’re going to adopt a baby,” Eileen said, making a noncommittal face as she moved her hands. “But adopting a kid from foster care is tough, too.”
Dean moved his lips while he signed, “Seems like it should be as easy as adopting a pet, like you just walk into an orphanage and pick one.”
Eileen rolled her eyes and did his name sign, the one she had given him years ago.
“What? It just seems like there’s way too many hoops to jump through and I’m sure there’s tons of kids that want parents.”
“Yeah, but they don’t just let anybody adopt a kid.” Eileen pushed her hair behind her ears and continued, “We might get a deaf child.”
“That would be fucking great.”
Eileen smiled softly at him. She then checked her phone and told Dean that Sam was going to the gym, so she and Dean could get lunch after the salon if they wanted.
“Oh thank god we got permission from your husband,” Dean teased.
Eileen laughed then said, “Sam’s worried that you haven’t been working out as much lately. He thinks something must be wrong.”
“Yeah, his name is Cas,” Dean admitted, spelling out Cas’ name with his right hand. “Eileen, would it be weird if I had a boyfriend?”
“Yeah,” she said with a loud laugh. “Why don’t you bring him over to our house one night and we’ll let you know how we feel about him?”
“God, no. No. He’s weird, and Sam will be all judgy.”
“Oh, come on. You lost your Sunday, right? Ask him if he wants to come over tonight, and we’ll have steak.”
Dean narrowed his eyes at her. “I know when you lure me with steak. You’re not fooling me.”
“So, will you ask him or not?”
“Yeah, I’ll ask him.”
They got manicures, too, both opting for a clear coat. Dean used to get light blue or black nail polish, but he got sick of it chipping all the time.
As soon as his nails were dry, Dean texted Cas.
Dean: Hey, sorry about yesterday. Do you want to come over tonight and hang out with me and my brother and sister-in-law? They’re making dinner.
Dean and Eileen walked to a sandwich shop in the same shopping center as the nail salon and chatted about her classes and the papers she was working on while Dean obsessively checked his phone between bites of the two paninis, soup and chips he’d ordered.
Cas finally texted him back as they were leaving the restaurant.
Cas xoxo: That would be great. I don’t know anything about wine to be able to bring a bottle, but I can bring dessert?
Dean: Whoa Cas, you trying to impress my family? [side-eye emoji]
Cas xoxo: Of course. I like you a great deal.
Cas xoxo: Do you like apple pie?
Dean: Hell fucking yeah I like apple pie.
Eileen tapped Dean’s shoulder to get him to look up from his phone. “What are you smiling at?” she asked.
Dean handed Eileen his phone as they got in the car. Eileen said, “Aww,” then pulled her own phone out and copied Cas’ number into her contacts.
Castiel knocked on his neighbor’s door and was relieved when the teenage daughter, Claire, answered.
“Hey, Cas,” she said in a monotone, leaning on the door. “You wanna play Street Fighter?”
“No, actually, I was wondering if you’d help me bake a pie,” Castiel said grimly.
Claire laughed out loud at him. “Yeah, let me come to your place though because my mom will kill me if I wreck the kitchen. What ingredients are you missing?”
Castiel held his phone out to her with the apple pie recipe that he had found online and that seemed simple enough. When Claire was younger, Castiel had babysat her while her mom worked at night, and as she got older they were more like friends. She liked baking (pot brownies), and Castiel had been assigned as her sous chef for many bake sales at her school. (He did not help with the pot brownies.)
“What do you need an apple pie for?” Claire asked as they got started in Castiel’s kitchen.
“He has a new boyfriend and he’s meeting his family tonight,” Hannah replied from the couch, where they were scrolling through their phone and pointedly not helping with the pie.
“What?” Claire exclaimed, her face lighting up in a rare smile. “You never date, Cas. What the fuck? How’d you meet him?”
Castiel sighed and glared at Hannah. “Thank you, Hannah.”
Hannah gave him a thumbs up, eyes still on her phone.
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Castiel said to Claire. “We’re just...seeing each other casually.”
“You don’t see people casually,” Claire argued as she poured dry ingredients together into a bowl. “You don’t see people at all actually. Wait, no, I didn’t even know you were gay until right now.”
Castiel tilted his head and put a hand on his hip, giving her a judgmental look.
She looked him up and down. “OK, so you’re pretty obviously gay, whatever, aren’t we all?”
“Yeah,” Hannah agreed.
“What’s his name?” Claire pressed.
“Ooh, sounds hot.”
“You’re a lesbian.”
Claire rolled her eyes. “We’re talking about you, not me.”
After a pause, Castiel mumbled, “He is hot.”
“So you’re banging him?”
“I’m not discussing that with you, Claire.”
“He is,” Hannah added.
Claire continued pressing Castiel about Dean, but it was worth it for how good the pie turned out.
Sam and Dean were sitting in Adirondack chairs on the small porch in front of Sam and Eileen’s house, drinking beer and talking when Castiel pulled up. Dean hopped up immediately and took the beer out of Sam’s hand and placed both bottles out of sight, and it was then that Castiel realized Dean probably thought he was a recovering alcoholic.
“You can drink in front of me,” Castiel said as he walked up to the porch, pie tin in hand. “I have no problems with it.”
Dean said, “Oh, I just didn't want you to judge me and Sammy for sitting here drinking while Eileen cooks." He wrapped his hand around the back of Castiel’s head to pull him forward for a kiss. He then smiled down at the pie between them. “Did you make that?”
“I had help from a neighbor. She did most of the work.”
“Hey, Cas,” Sam said, reaching out to take the pie. “I’ll set that inside. You can come on in, make yourself at home.”
“Thank you, Sam.”
Dean grabbed Castiel by the hand to keep him outside. He pulled him close and said, “You OK?”
“I am. Are you?”
Dean gave him a nervous smile. “Yeah, uh, I’ll be fine.”
Inside, Eileen asked Castiel a slew of questions about himself and he did his best to maintain eye contact with her despite the fact that she was moving around the kitchen as she cooked. When Sam and Dean talked to her, they used sign language so casually and effortlessly, and it made Castiel feel warm inside to watch Dean use another language. He made a mental note to ask him later if he could speak any others.
They sat at the kitchen table for dinner, and Dean scooted his chair as close to Castiel as possible and rubbed his thigh under the table whenever his hand wasn’t busy cutting steak. Castiel asked Sam and Eileen about their teaching jobs and getting their PhDs and listened to their passionate answers as he watched Dean nervously clear his plate in record time.
During a lull in the conversation, Castiel put a hand to the center of Dean’s back and whispered, “What would you like more of?”
“Everything. Thanks, Cas.” He pecked him on the cheek as Castiel picked up his empty plate.
“Oh good, Cas is already used to you eating twice as much as a regular person,” Sam teased.
“Yeah,” Dean replied, then he looked over at Castiel refilling his plate and winked at him. “I can’t keep eating like this if I don’t get back to the gym, though. My abs are, like, gone, dude.”
“Really?” Sam asked. “You’ve been wearing those looser clothes, so it’s really not noticeable.”
“Yeah, I’ve been stealing Cas’ clothes,” Dean said sheepishly.
“You’re gonna freak out and fast for a week before Mykonos, aren’t you?” Eileen asked.
“Oh yeah, totally,” Dean replied before stuffing a huge bite of mashed potatoes in his mouth.
“What about you, Cas?” Eileen continued. “You look fit.”
“Oh, um. I like walking and hiking,” he said. “I don’t really do any other exercise.”
“You mean you don’t live your life obsessing over your beach bod, getting ready for Mykonos year-round?” Sam asked sarcastically.
Castiel blinked at him. “I don’t care what other gay men think of my body.” He turned quickly to Dean and added, “No offense, Dean.”
Sam laughed so hard he nearly spit his beer.
Dean just rolled his eyes and kept eating.
Once Dean had cleared his second plate, Castiel offered to cut the pie. He felt unjustly anxious that they wouldn’t like it, and he was glad that he could reassure himself that Claire had done most of the work and was an excellent baker.
Sam and Eileen gave appropriately positive reactions and each ate a slice. Dean took one bite, closed his eyes and moaned in equal parts pleasure and frustration. He inhaled the rest of his piece without taking a pause to breathe, then he got up and went to the counter and cut another piece twice as big as the first and ate it while standing at the counter. He ate nearly half the pie before announcing that he was full, then he palmed at his food belly and yelled, “Fuck Mykonos.”
Sam led Castiel into the living room while Dean and Eileen cleaned the kitchen. Their house, exactly the same as Dean’s but backward, was much homier and cozier than Dean’s. They had an assortment of bookshelves with various organization systems and stacks of books in all directions, an extra couple of armchairs in the living room, blankets and pillows worn and strewn about the furniture, and pictures of family all over the place.
“Hm. Dean doesn’t have any pictures in his house,” Castiel said absentmindedly.
“He’s the one who gave us most of these,” Sam said, pointing to picture frames set up on a side table against the back wall.
It was full of pictures of Sam and Dean as kids and teenagers, heavily featuring their mother but only a couple with their dad when they were very little.
“Both your parents are deceased?” Castiel asked.
“Yeah. Dad died when I was in eighth grade. Car accident. Mom died a few years ago from, uh, a rare cancer.”
Sam leaned in close to Castiel and put a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t mention them to Dean unless he brings them up, OK? I don’t mean to tell you what to do, but it’s just, you know, one of those things.”
“Yes, I understand.” Castiel picked up a picture of Dean standing between his mom and Eileen, his arms around both of them, one hip cocked dramatically, and his head tilted down toward his mom. Dean looked to be in his 20s, too skinny and tall and wearing very short shorts and a hot pink mesh tank top, both his ears and his nipples pierced.
“This must’ve been when Dean thought he was gay,” Castiel said, smiling down at the ridiculous picture.
“He told you about that?” Sam asked, surprised.
“Oh, um. Yes.” Castiel cleared his throat. “You and Eileen have been together a long time?”
“Yeah, we met in high school,” Sam said affectionately. “I’ve only dated three girls my whole life.”
“Quite different than Dean.”
Sam huffed a laugh. “You can say that again. Hey, how’s that going, by the way? He spends so much more time with you than he does his other days.”
Castiel frowned up at him. “I don’t—his other days what?”
“Well, I know he was able to have you over here tonight because he doesn’t have Jesse and Cesar anymore, but still, he sees you way more often than just on Thursdays.”
“Sam. What are you talking about?”
Dean and Eileen laughed loudly from the kitchen.
Sam said, “You know, how his Sundays are Jesse and—oh my god.” Sam’s face drained of color. “Oh my god, he never told you.”
“What? What didn’t he tell me, Sam?”
“Christ, Cas, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t—this is something Dean should tell you, not me. Oh god, I thought you knew. He always tells every—I’m gonna fucking kill him.”
“Sam, you haven’t even given me enough information for me to ask Dean what you’re talking about, so you’re going to have to tell me,” Castiel said forcefully. “And I’m already thinking the worst, so the sooner you can explain yourself the better.”
Sam looked toward the kitchen then gestured for Castiel to follow him out the back door. There was another small porch out back, just a slab of concrete and a storage space that jutted out between the houses as a partition between porches.
“Something you should know about my brother is that he, like, probably has OCD,” Sam said apropos of nothing. “Or, like, whatever it is that makes a person have to keep everything in their life perfectly organized or else he feels out of control.”
Castiel stamped down his impatience. “Yes, I’ve met Dean. Continue.”
“He, um, doesn’t date.” Sam winced. “He has hookups—regular hookups, the same people every week. He assigns a different person to each day of the week and only sees them on that particular day. He’s been living like this for years, Cas, he’s never—he’s never not told someone.”
Castiel thought about the day at Chipotle, the ridiculous business card, the easy way Dean flirted with him. “I met him on a Thursday.” He blinked and widened his eyes. “He always asks me to hang out on Thursday.”
“Yeah, you, uh, were supposed to be his Thursday. But he keeps breaking all his stupid rules for you, like spending all this extra time with you, and Eileen and I almost never meet his—”
“Why didn’t he tell me,” Castiel whispered, not really talking to Sam.
Sam gave him an answer anyway, but he didn’t hear it.
He was just a day of the week to Dean. He was just Thursday.
Dean was eating yet another slice of pie while Eileen talked his ear off about how much she liked Cas when Sam and Cas came back inside and immediately announced that they were tired and ready to call it a night.
“Well, should Eileen and I give you two some privacy then?” Dean joked.
Only Eileen laughed. Sam gestured for her to come to bed, so they all said their goodbyes rather quickly.
Dean grabbed Cas’ hand and led him out, as if he didn’t know how to get from Sam and Eileen’s townhouse to Dean’s.
“Hey, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” Dean asked as they walked into his house.
Cas was still standing in the doorway, frozen to his spot. Dean closed the space between them and nuzzled his face against his neck, hands squeezing his hips.
“C’mon, it couldn’t’ve been that bad,” Dean muttered against his skin. “They loved you. And I loved that pie.”
Cas moved his arm up around Dean’s back and carded his fingers through the back of his short hair. “Dean, I think I need to—I should get going. I’ve got to—”
“Wait, wait, hold up. You’re OK, Cas. We did good.” He pulled away just enough to look Cas in the eye. “Listen, I need to talk to you.”
Cas looked hopeful all of a sudden; his shoulders visibly relaxed. “Yes, me too.”
“OK. Uh, me first.” He pressed his hands more firmly against Cas’ sides. “I’m—I’m really bad at relationships, Cas. Like, so bad. I hook up with people all the time, and I don’t understand monogamy. But, um. I really wanna make this work with you.” He smiled sadly at him. “Can you just give me some time, just to figure some things out?”
“What...what do you have to figure out, Dean?”
Dean cleared his throat. “I like you more than I’ve ever liked anyone outside of my family. If you can just—I gotta change my life. I gotta take care of some things, and then—then I want to ask you out, Cas. I wanna be with you.”
Cas put his hand on Dean’s cheek and stroked the pad of his thumb gently across his skin. “Dean.”
“Why aren’t you telling me the whole truth?” Tears welled up in Cas’ eyes. “When were you gonna tell me that I’m just a day of the week to you?”
Dean’s heart dropped to his stomach. “No, no, Cas, you’re not—you’ve never been—that’s what I’m saying I need to—”
“Goodbye, Dean.” Cas stepped away from him. “I need some time.”
Arguments died in Dean’s throat. He watched Cas leave.
Dean: You told Cas about the days thing
Sam immediately called Dean; Dean ignored it.
Dean: I don’t wanna talk on the phone I’m at work
Sam: Dean I’m so sorry, I thought he knew. I said something about it, and he had no idea what I was talking about and he started freaking out so I tried to explain it to him as best as I could. Why didn’t you tell him?? And why didn’t you tell ME that you hadn’t told him??
Dean: Jesus dude I was bringing him home to meet my family you really thought he was just Thursday to me
Sam: Then why are you still seeing all your other days? Why haven’t you dumped them, Dean?
Dean: I’m literally working on it right now. I was trying to tell Cas that last night, and then he fucking ditched me because of my stupid fucking life.
Dean didn’t talk to anyone at work and nearly snapped at Charlie the third time she asked him what was up. He went to the gym in the afternoon and pushed himself so hard that he puked afterward.
“You look like shit,” Pati said casually as she arrived at Dean’s later that evening.
She had gained weight in the two weeks since he’d seen her, her face fuller, belly jutting out more than usual, and she was wearing looser clothes.
“How far along are you?” Dean asked, eyeing her as she rummaged through his kitchen.
“Like, four months? I don’t know, don’t remember. I’m keeping it though.” She put bread in the toaster and grabbed apricot jam and almond butter from the fridge. “My favorite fuckbuddy is not the dad unfortunately. I’m waiting on results for a couple other guys, but if you want to go with me to the doctor sometime this week we can get you tested, too?”
“Uh, yeah.” Dean scrubbed a hand down his face. “Just let me know when.”
Pati hummed while she made her sandwich, then she hunched over the counter to eat it and asked, “So, what’s up with you? You cut your hair off and put on some weight?”
“Do I really look like I’ve put on weight?”
“Yeah, a tiny bit. It doesn’t look like you could cook an egg on your abs anymore.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know, dude. Why are you sad? Is it that guy you’re in love with?”
Dean dropped into a kitchen chair. “Yeah. I have to break up with all my days.”
“Aw man, can we get one last sad fuck before we’re done? I’m gonna be so pregnant and then I’m gonna have a gross little baby and nobody will ever fuck me again, please, Dean.”
Dean looked at her, considering. She was so soft, her skin glowing, and his stupid body desperately wanted to feel her, sniff her perfect hair, squeeze her.
“Plenty of people will still want to fuck you, Pati,” Dean said. “And we can still hang out and, like, touch or whatever. We’re friends, right?”
She rolled her eyes and stuffed the rest of her sandwich in her mouth. “OK, let’s ‘hang out’ then.”
They watched a movie together. Pati lay on her side and rested her head in Dean’s lap, and Dean unbraided her hair and ran his fingers through it. She didn’t spend the night, but she kissed him one last time before leaving.
Castiel was standing at his nurse’s cart, going through his patients on his laptop, when a very intimidating white woman stormed down the hallway and headed straight for Crowley’s hidden office.
A CNA passed by Castiel and asked, “What the hell is that about?”
“I have no idea.”
Castiel surreptitiously moved his cart closer and strained to hear their conversation through the cracked door. The woman sounded British; Castiel wondered if she was related to Crowley.
Suddenly, the woman was shouting loud enough for everyone on the hall to hear. “Well, he’s going to dump you next, you ugly wanker! Excuse me for trying to give you a courtesy call.”
“Just tell me the reason, Bela,” Crowley shouted back, sounding desperate. “Tell me what goddamn reason he gave you!”
“Oh, please. You think he would tell me? He can’t stand me.”
It was quiet for a second, then the woman continued, “I pity you, though. I was using him as much as he was using me. You, on the other hand. You’re in love with the man, and he only sees you as Wednesday.” She laughed loudly. “You stupid, pathetic idiot.”
Crowley yelled at her to get out.
The woman clicked past Castiel in her heels a moment later, briefly making eye contact with him before putting sunglasses on.
Castiel looked down at his patient list and kept working.
Dean spent Wednesday afternoon getting his locks changed, since Bela refused to give him his spare key back. He wouldn't tell her the reason why he was permanently breaking it off with her, and she had not exactly taken it well.
He thought about calling Crowley, but that was cowardly, so he just texted him to tell him he had something to talk to him about and that he wouldn’t be able to stay at his house for very long.
The moment Crowley opened the door, they said, “Alright, get it over with.”
They both stood uncomfortably in the front foyer.
“Tuesday visited me at work and let me know you’d be breaking up with me this evening, so. Break up with me.”
Dean clenched his jaw. “Fucking Bela. Look, Crowley, I’m sorry. I should’ve never let it go this far with you to begin with. It was shitty of me to keep this up with you when I knew you had, uh, feelings for me.”
“You really aren’t capable of having feelings for me, then? It’s just not possible, despite all I’ve done for you?”
Dean tensed up, tried to hold in his anger. “No, Crowley. It’s not possible. But I’m sorry I made you believe that it was. I get—it’s confusing, when you tell me one week that it’s enough and then the next week you’re begging for more. It’s confusing, and I should've just ended it. I’m sorry.”
Crowley stepped closer to him, glaring up at him. “Why now? Have you seriously fallen for someone else?”
“Why couldn’t it have been me?” Crowley raised his voice. “I deserve to be loved.”
“Yeah, you do.” Dean pointed a finger at them. “But you knew what this was. I was honest with you from the beginning, and yeah, I should’ve just ended it when I realized you couldn’t fucking get over me, but I’ve told you this a thousand times, Crowley. I don’t have feelings for you.”
“So, what is it? What makes this other person better than me?”
“I don’t owe you a fucking explanation, Crowley.” Dean turned back toward the door. “I’m sorry, again, for the millionth time. I’m leaving.”
On the drive home, Dean thought he would feel miserable. Instead, he felt free.
On Thursday, Dean texted Cassie and asked if he could come over to talk to her.
Cassie: You figured things out with your boyfriend, huh?
Dean: I’m working on it. Wanna talk to you in person.
Cassie: Yeah sure, hon. My husband’s home, but I’m assuming you’re breaking up with me, so it’ll be fine if he’s there.
Dean: Thanks, Cassie.
He skipped the gym and went straight to Cassie’s after work, knocking on the side door instead of letting himself in through the garage.
“Hey,” she said sweetly, ushering him into the kitchen. “My husband’s at the store, so we have a few minutes.”
“So I guess I’m doing the monogamy thing,” Dean said grimly.
“You don’t sound too thrilled about it.”
Dean told her what happened with Cas, how he found out the truth, how they hadn’t talked since Sunday despite Dean texting him every day.
“You’ve gotta stop lying to people, Dean,” Cassie said when he was done explaining.
“You do, though. You lie about dumb shit all the time just to present yourself in a certain way to people, and then you get so used to lying that it makes it easy to lie about big stuff, too. It’s actually wild that you’re just now facing consequences for your actions.”
Dean fidgeted with his hands, struggling to accept what Cassie was saying about him. “Do you think he’ll take me back?”
“Yeah, but no more lying.” She gave him a pitying look then reached up for a hug.
The garage door opened while they embraced, so they broke apart and Cassie went to the sink to put clean dishes away.
Her husband walked in with his arms loaded down with bags and said, “Hey, babe, I just—Dean?”
Dean blinked at him. “Jerome?”
Cassie looked between both of them. “Jerome? Who the hell is Jerome?”
“Uh,” her husband said, staring at Dean.
“Ryan, if you don’t start talking right now, I swear to god—”
“I met him at the club, babe. Last week. Got back a day early and didn’t tell you.” He set all the grocery bags on the floor and moved toward Cassie. “Is this the guy you see on Fridays? Baby, I had no idea—I use a fake name at gay clubs, I didn’t—”
“Why the fuck are you going to gay clubs?” Cassie asked, her voice raising. “Are you bi, Ryan?”
“No! I just...sometimes I want something different…”
“Sounds like you’re bi, dude,” Dean added.
Cassie pointed at him. “You shut up. What are you doing fucking my husband? You did that right after you left me last week? C’mon, Dean.”
Dean threw his hands up. “I obviously didn’t know he was your husband. Look, you guys have some shit to sort out, so I’m just gonna…”
Cassie put her hands to her temples. “Oh my god, I cannot believe we’ve fucked the same fucking guy.”
“OK, yeah, so maybe we should change our rules about seeing each other’s—”
Dean sneaked out through the side door.
On Friday, Dean texted Cas twice to let him know he had broken up with everyone and could they please talk, but Cas continued to ghost him. He accompanied Pati to the doctor and barely processed that he was doing a paternity test.
After the doctor, he once again went to the gym and pushed himself so hard that Gordon told him to slow the fuck down. Dean didn’t listen. After lifting, he got on a treadmill and ran as fast as he possibly could.
During mile number two, Dean fell and broke his foot.
By Sunday afternoon, Dean had read four of the books Cas had given him. He hadn’t really moved from his couch since getting home from the doctor on Friday night.
Sam and Eileen took shifts checking on him, bringing him groceries and takeout and even new lounge clothes—baggy sweat shorts, plain soft t-shirts in blues and greens, one of Sam’s old Stanford sweatshirts that was way too big, from Sam’s chubby phase in undergrad.
Castiel was still ghosting him, so Dean didn’t text him about his foot.
So when the front door opened on Sunday night and Dean called from the couch, “I forgot to ask you to get ice cream, did you happen to get ice cream?” he expected to hear Sam’s annoyed voice answering.
Instead, Cas appeared in the living room holding books under one arm and a takeout bag in the other hand. He was wearing a burgundy floral short-sleeve button down and knee-length faded jean shorts.
“Heya, Cas.” Dean swallowed. “Sam and Eileen got to you, didn’t they?”
“Eileen texted me.” Cas set his things on the coffee table. “What’s your weight bearing status?”
“Uh, doc said keep off it for six weeks, but I’m sure I’ll be doing ‘as tolerated’ within a week or so. Can’t take a full six weeks off work.”
“I can take a look at it if you’d like.”
Dean shifted his hips. “Not right now. Um, did you get my texts?”
Cas took a seat in the armchair perpendicular to the couch and crossed his legs. “Yes, I just needed some time. Would you like some company while your foot heals?”
Relief flooded Dean’s body. “Yeah, Cas.”
They talked while Dean ate the takeout food Cas brought, not really talking about anything in particular and pointedly avoiding heavy topics.
After a couple hours, Cas excused himself to go to the bathroom and Dean checked his phone. He had a text from Pati.
Pati: Good news, you’re not the BD.
Weirdly, the first thing Dean felt was disappointment. He quickly texted her back.
Dean: Sorry your kid won’t be as hot as me. Who is it?
Pati: Ugh the fucking guy from the white couple I had a one-night stand with. He’s the worst. His hot gf dumped him.
Dean: Did she dump him because you’re having his baby?
Pati: No, she dumped him bc he’s the worst.
Pati: You’ll still babysit for me sometimes, right?
Dean: Yeah totally
Cas came back with ice cream from the freezer and handed it to Dean.
“Oh thank you, sweetheart,” Dean said as he opened it. “I just found out I’m not gonna be a dad.”
“Uh, one of my—actually, you’ve met her. Pati? She’s pregnant, and she just found out who the dad is and it ain’t me.”
“Hmm.” Cas crossed his legs in the armchair again, folding his hands over his knee. “Do you want to be a father one day?”
“I don’t know. Never really thought about it, but I like kids.”
“I think you would be a good dad.”
Dean snorted. “Yeah, sure, Cas.”
As it got later, Dean got sleepier and sleepier until he passed out on the couch while mid-conversation with Cas.
He woke with a start in the middle of the night and found Cas curled up in the armchair, sound asleep.
“Cas!” Dean whisper-shouted.
Cas woke with a jump. “What—where—”
“Go sleep in my bed, man. You’re gonna hurt your back.”
“You’re gonna hurt yours, too.”
Dean insisted that he was fine, but Cas insisted more forcefully and took most of Dean’s weight against his side so he could hop on one foot to his room. He had crutches, but he wasn’t about to say no to Cas’ touch. Once in bed, Cas set up pillows for Dean to rest his foot properly, then he crawled into bed next to him and turned on his side, away from Dean, and fell back asleep without another word.
Dean did not sleep well. He was too aware of Cas’ presence next to him and the impossible gap between their bodies. In the morning, they hopped back out to the couch together and Cas left for work without touching or kissing Dean at all.
Charlie came by around 3, and Jody and Donna showed up a little while later, all in their scrubs and claiming that Billie made them stop by to confirm that Dean was actually injured. They complained about work and told Dean stories about all their favorite patients.
Jody went out to her car at one point and came back in holding something behind her back. She said, “Mildred bought you something.”
“Oh god,” Dean said.
Jody revealed a reacher, handing it to Dean with the handle out so he could grab it.
“Oh hell yeah,” Dean said, using the reacher to get a bag of chips off the coffee table. “This is a solid OT solution right here.”
There was a knock on the door around dinnertime, and Charlie went to answer it. She came back to the living room with Cas on her heels, holding a Chipotle bag.
Jody and Donna both gasped and got up to ogle Cas.
“Good lord, I see why he’s given up everything for you,” Jody said. “I mean, like, in a normal way. You’re very cute.”
“Cas, meet Charlie, Jody, Donna,” Dean said, exasperated. “My coworkers. Sorry about them.”
“Hey, I’ve seen you before,” Donna said. “You PRN for us, don't ‘cha?”
“Yes, every once in a while. I’m an RN.”
Everybody “oohed” at him, only somewhat facetiously.
“I, um. Didn’t know you’d all be here,” Cas said. “I only brought enough food for Dean.”
“So, like, enough food for four regular people?” Charlie asked. “We could teach Dean how to share.”
“Nuh-uh,” Dean said, using the reacher to snatch the bag out of Cas’ hand.
Jody and Donna excused themselves after a few more minutes, claiming that they had to go to the bar for “ladies’ night.”
Charlie stayed longer, and she and Cas talked while Dean ate his burritos. Cas asked her questions about her job, then her hobbies, then her personal life. Dean learned that Charlie had a side business designing websites and writing code, and that she was talking to a woman named Stevie and was going to ask her to be her girlfriend soon.
“What? Why didn’t I know that?” Dean asked, offended.
“Uh, ‘cause you didn’t ask?” Charlie responded in the same tone.
“Hm,” Dean grunted.
“I met her last week when we went to that club, when you ditched me for that hot guy the second we walked in.”
Dean only looked at Charlie as he said, “Oh yeah, funny story. That guy is married to one of my favorite hookups.”
“What?” Charlie and Cas asked simultaneously.
“Yeah, uh.” Dean looked down at his burrito. “I was breaking it off with her the other day, and her husband walked in, and it was that guy. I should actually check on her and see how they’re doing. They were fighting over me when I left.”
Cas put his head down, clearly trying to hide his smile. He said, “Is this the same woman who’s pregnant?”
"What?” Charlie repeated.
“No, different chick,” Dean responded. Then, “I mean, at least they’re in an open marriage, so it’s not like I cheated with either of them.”
“On that note, I’m gonna head out,” Charlie said as she stood. “Cas, you’re way too good for him, but you already know that.” She leaned over to give Cas a hug, which clearly surprised him.
“Dean, I’ll let your favorite patient know that you love the reacher and that you’re being spoiled here.” She gave Dean a hug, too.
“Yeah, actually, please tell her not to worry about me,” Dean said, purposely not saying Mildred’s name because of HIPAA. “You know how she is.”
After Charlie left, Dean finished his food while Cas sorted through the bookshelves like usual, turning and moving books however he pleased.
“It would be nice if you had some pictures in here,” Cas said, his back to Dean.
“Yeah, I used to, but I, uh, couldn’t deal with the clutter. Made it hard to dust.”
“How often do you clean?”
“Well, that depends. I clean the kitchen, like, multiple times per day. I dust and wipe the whole house every couple of days, vacuum and mop once a week.”
Cas turned toward Dean and frowned. “Dean, that’s too much cleaning.”
“You can never be too clean.”
“You can, actually. This isn’t a display room. You live here.”
Dean rolled his eyes. “Yeah, whatever.”
Cas stayed the night again, same routine as the previous night, and Dean once again didn’t sleep well. The good news was that he had plenty of time to sleep on the couch during the day when everybody was at work and he had nothing to do but read or watch TV and eat.
Two more days passed much the same, with Cas coming over after work or in the evening, bringing food, deliberately leaving space between him and Dean and not touching him at all.
On the third day, he brought a stack of picture frames with him and a packet full of pictures.
“Sam gave me these,” he explained. “And I got some frames from the store.”
Dean flipped through the pictures, finding everything from him and Sam as little kids to his occupational therapy school graduation. There was a picture of his mom and dad that he had never seen before: they were standing next to the Impala, and his mom was very pregnant with him.
He thumbed at the picture, smiling at his mom.
“God, I miss her,” he said quietly.
Dean blinked up at Cas. “Yeah. She was tough, but I loved her.”
“She was tough?”
Dean huffed a laugh and looked back down at the picture. “Yeah. We fought all the time. You know, we were just too similar. My dad, I mean, I fought with him, too, but that’s because he…”
“He what, Dean? You can tell me.”
“He hated me.” Dean smiled sadly. “Sam was always his favorite. And my dad, he, uh, put a lot of responsibility on me to take care of Sammy. Then he—he assumed that I was gay before I even knew it myself, and it just got—it got really bad then.”
“I’m sorry,” Cas said solemnly.
Dean kept flipping through the pictures as he said, “They got divorced when I was in high school—when my mom found out how my dad was treating me, she kicked him out. I hadn’t seen my dad in almost a year when he...Well, he died in a car accident.” He shook his head. “Fucking drunk.”
A long silence stretched between them. A bird was singing outside.
Cas said, “It’s not your fault, Dean.”
“Your parents, their divorce, your father—none of it is your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
Dean looked at him, finding only conviction in Castiel’s gaze. He wanted to reach out, touch him, hug him, but Cas was too far away. It was an insurmountable distance.
On the fourth day in a row that Castiel went to Dean’s, he stopped by Sam and Eileen’s first.
“Thanks for your help with Dean,” Sam said as he made a pot of tea for him and Castiel. “He’s such a baby when he’s sick. I would’ve killed him by week two if it was just me and Eileen taking care of him.”
“He’s not the worst patient I’ve had,” Castiel replied.
“So, um.” Sam cleared his throat and set a mug in front of Castiel as he joined him at the kitchen table. “Have you talked to him?”
Castiel grimaced. “I’m trying. I think I’m afraid of what he might say to me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t trust that Dean knows what he wants.” Castiel looked down into his cup and circled his thumb around the ceramic. “I apologize for discussing your brother so crudely with you, but he’s very sex-oriented. I don’t understand why he would give up his lifestyle for me. I barely like sex at all.”
Sam tapped his fingers against the tabletop. “I’m gonna be honest, my knowledge of gay culture is limited to what I learn from Dean and from the show Pose, but, uh, do you want to be monogamous with him? Like, couldn’t he still…?”
“I’m not opposed to the idea of an open relationship, but I tend to be rather, um, jealous. It would take me some time to adjust.”
“Hmm.” He kept tapping. “Here’s what I know about my brother. He does everything with his whole heart. It might be freaking him out that he wants to change his entire life for you, but once he’s made a decision, he’s doing it 100 percent.”
Castiel was quiet. He drank his tea.
“I can tell you’re the same,” Sam said.
“You do everything with your whole heart.”
Castiel took a deep breath and got up to put his mug in the sink, thanking Sam before going over to Dean’s.
Dean’s door was open, and he was asleep on the couch when Castiel came in. Castiel considered waking him up but ended up just staring at him instead. Dean’s face had softened in the short time Castiel had known him, his formerly cut jawline now pillowed in a little bit of fat beneath his chin, his cheeks fuller and pinker. His sleeping face looked so content and young, it made Castiel ache to touch him.
A knock on the door broke Castiel out of his reverie. Dean stirred and mumbled something incoherent in his sleep, so Castiel got up to answer it.
It was Crowley. Their mouth dropped open and his face drained of color when he saw Castiel.
Castiel blinked at them. “Hello, Crowley.”
“What the bloody hell are you doing here?” Crowley spit.
Castiel shut the door behind them, making Crowley stand outside on the front porch to avoid waking Dean up. “I’m taking care of Dean. What are you doing here?” he asked in a monotone.
Crowley gaped like a fish, clearly trying to work something out. “You’re not—how the hell do you know Dean?” Their face lit up with rage. “It’s you. You’re Thursday.”
“No, I’m Castiel.”
“Don’t play coy with me, you disgusting little—”
“Which day were you? Wednesday?” Castiel sighed and looked off to the side. “Dean has very bad taste.”
“It was you. He dumped every single one of us for you? Oh, I’m going to kill him. And then I’m going to kill you. What could you possibly have that I don’t?”
“A better hairline?”
Crowley got in his face and began a litany of curses at him, but the door swung open and a disgruntled Dean appeared on crutches.
“Crowley? What the fuck are you doing here?” he asked.
“What the fuck am I doing here? What the fuck is he doing here!” Crowley shouted, jamming a finger at Castiel. “I offered you everything, Dean. I offered you everything, and you’d rather be with this—this insignificant—”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, you don’t know the first thing about Cas.”
“He does, actually,” Castiel said calmly. “He’s my boss.”
“What?” Dean asked.
“I thought they might be one of your people, Dean, but I didn’t want to pry.”
“I am not ‘one of his people.’ I’m Crowley, you stupid queen!”
A few neighbors opened their doors to watch the scene. Sam came out of his house but kept his distance.
“Hey, hey, alright,” Dean placated, using his crutches to stand between Crowley and Castiel. “Crowley, what are you even doing here? I told you it’s over.”
“You broke your foot, so excuse me for being concerned and wanting to check on you.” Crowley held up a reusable grocery bag. “I cooked for you, but fuck you. You can’t have it.”
“Crowley, I told you I fell for some—”
“Yes, but I didn’t know it was Castiel, for fuck’s sake!” Crowley shouted loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear.
“Alright, you have to leave,” Dean said calmly. “You’re gonna get the fucking cops called on me. Or worse, the HOA.”
Crowley looked back and forth between Dean and Castiel, fuming. “You’re going to regret this, Dean. You’ll be crawling back to me in just a few—Castiel is nothing, no—”
“Get the fuck out of here,” Dean seethed, barely above a whisper, as he moved forward on his crutches and bore down on Crowley.
Crowley growled but turned on his heel and left. As he drove out of the neighborhood, he threw the food out the window, scattering it all over the street.
“Sorry, everybody!” Dean shouted at the neighbors. “Get back to your regularly scheduled jerk-off sessions!”
As they made their way back inside, Castiel said, “Impressive that you can be that intimidating with a broken foot.”
Dean struggled to the couch and plopped down with a groan. “I’m sorry, Cas. Crowley’s the fucking worst.”
“They’re in love with you.”
“Yeah, have been for a long time.”
Castiel sat in the armchair and peered curiously at Dean. “And you weren’t clear with him? That you didn’t share those feelings?”
“No, I was.” Dean laughed humorlessly. “I’m fucking selfish, dude. He’d always say it was fine and that I was giving him enough, and I don’t know. I should’ve been the bigger person or whatever, but I’m shit at that.”
“Hm. If it makes you feel better, I’m not going to be the bigger person either.”
“I hate Crowley, and I loved every minute of what just happened.”
Dean laughed and then admitted that he felt kind of bad about it.
Castiel wanted to kiss him, touch him in all the ways Crowley was no longer allowed. Instead, he changed the subject and stayed on the armchair.
By the end of the week, Dean’s body really did feel different. Not just his stomach, but everywhere felt softer. His arms and legs weren’t veiny and swollen as usual, and he felt smaller, somehow. Like he was already losing muscle mass after just one week. He was still eating too much, though, as evidenced by the way his stomach pushed out just a little over the waistband of his sweats both in the front and on the sides.
On Friday, Dean realized how he could get Cas to touch him.
“Hey, could you check out my foot?” he asked, very casual.
Cas closed the book he had been reading. “Of course.”
The second Cas’ perfect hands touched Dean’s skin, he closed his eyes and dropped his head back. Cas unwrapped the ACE bandage and checked his skin integrity, then he got a washcloth and some cream and gently washed and cleaned his foot, taking his time like it was precious. When he was done, he wrapped it back up and announced that the recovery was going well.
“Thanks, Cas,” Dean said, his voice cracking.
“I don’t think you’ll be able to exercise like you’re used to, not anytime soon at least. You’ll have to take it slow for a while.”
Dean put a protective hand across his belly. “Can I tell you something?”
“Of course, Dean.”
Dean winced. “I hate exercise. I fucking hate it.”
Cas laughed and sat on the edge of the couch, right near Dean’s legs. “Not just running?”
“No. I hate all of it. I hate the gym, I hate lifting weights, I hate being fucking hungry all the time because I have all this stupid, pointless muscle.”
Cas would not stop laughing. “What about walking?”
“Well, I like walking in the park with you. And I think I’d like hiking if it didn’t make me feel like I was gonna die.”
“OK, how about we make a deal?”
Dean gestured for him to continue.
“When you get better, you cancel your gym membership and go on walks with me instead.”
“Sweetheart, I’m already going soft just from a week of no exercise. I’ll look like the Pillsbury Doughboy if I cancel my gym membership.”
“Yes, I think that would suit you.” Castiel smiled sweetly at him, sincerity in every line of his face.
Dean reached across himself to squeeze a bicep, thinking. “I guess I could try to transition into being a bear.”
“Dean, listen to me.” Cas’ face fell. “Not everything you do has to perfectly fit inside the parameters of what’s acceptable for gay men in our society.”
“What’s going on? Am I accidentally at a TED Talk?”
Cas impatiently rolled his head to the side. “You can just be you, Dean. You don’t have to perform for anyone.”
Dean crossed his arms over his chest. “I don’t know how else to be, Cas. I don’t know who I am outside of—everything I’ve ever done is to attract the type of people I want to fuck. Trying to prove that I can—that I can be with men and women and everybody else, and that’s OK.”
Cas opened his mouth to say something, then shook his head and closed it. On his second try, he said, “Why didn’t you tell me, Dean?”
“I knew you were sleeping with other people. Why didn’t you—why didn’t you tell me about the days?”
Dean’s heart pounded against his rib cage. He had rehearsed this conversation over and over in his head, but he always pictured that he would be holding Cas, touching him. “You were different from the day I met you, man. I was just looking for somebody to fill my Thursday, but then we didn’t even fuck and I wanted to spend all my time with you, and I just—I thought I could live two lives. I’m really bad at this, Cas.”
Cas folded his hands over his knee and looked down. “Do you feel like you need to have sex every day? Is that why you lived like that?”
“No. I mean, yes. I did. But I don’t feel that way with you.” Dean put a hand on his shin and rubbed; his foot hurt. “I don’t ever—I don’t get feelings for people. I love sex, and I love several of my day—my hook—my people that I see every week, but they’re like my friends. They didn’t even mind when I told them I didn’t wanna fuck anymore. Cas, I wanna be with you. Only you.”
“Why? I can’t fuck you every day, Dean.”
“Yeah, but you read books with me,” Dean argued, practically shouting in an attempt to make Cas understand. “You let me talk during movies, and you’re smart and thoughtful and care about what I have to say—what everybody has to say. You listen to people and take time to really understand them, even though you’re impatient as hell. You don’t let me bullshit you, and you make me want to be more like myself, and I don’t even know what that means. You’re weird and kind, and you make me feel safe.”
Dean took a deep breath, unable to stop. “It’s like you’re holding up a mirror and telling me to look at myself and to like what I see, and I can’t—that’s really fucking hard, Cas, but you make it seem like it could be easy.”
Cas blinked several times in quick succession, his shoulders moving up and down with deep breaths. After what felt like an eternity, he turned his whole body on the couch and grabbed Dean around the back of his neck, yanking him forward and kissing him wholly, reverently.
Dean relaxed into it with a tentative hand on Cas' cheek, a gentle press of his tongue through his lips. Cas made a soft noise and gripped Dean tighter, and a shiver went down Dean's spine like he had never been kissed like this before. He moved his hands to Cas' waist and pulled him closer so he could feel his warm body and drink in his scent and let himself indulge. It was quiet while they kissed, like time had stopped just for them.
“C’mere,” Dean said between their mouths, wrapping his arms around Cas’ back and locking him in an embrace.
Cas rested his cheek against Dean’s chest, and Dean rubbed his back and put his chin on top of his head. In a moment of clarity, Dean thought he might be able to do this forever and never tire of it, of Cas.
“Please, Cas.” He squeezed him. “Will you please have me?”
Cas pressed impossibly closer. “Yes. Of course, Dean.”
“OK, this one or this one?”
Cas held up a shirt in each hand, one a plaid flannel in different shades of brown and the other a dark red plaid flannel.
“Both,” Dean said.
Cas huffed a laugh and placed both shirts in their cart. “You can’t wear flannel in the summer, Dean.”
“OK, so we’ll get some t-shirts, too.”
They were at the mall, both still in their scrubs from work, Dean with a boot on his foot and Sam’s Stanford hoodie on. Dean needed an entire new wardrobe since breaking his foot. He had lost weight, actually, as his muscles softened, but he had a little belly and couldn’t get any of his stupidly tight pants around his pudgy waist anymore. Also, relatedly, he hated everything he owned—unless Cas was wearing it.
Cas had inherited (stolen) all of Dean’s oversized sleep shirts, neon tank tops, gaudy crop tops and any shorts that he could fit his big thighs into. Dean found that he actually preferred wearing earth tones, soft and simple t-shirts, Henleys, flannel, plaid. He felt much more comfortable in them than his old clothes.
Cas got distracted by a wall of socks, so Dean came up behind him and dropped his chin to his shoulder and wrapped an arm low around his waist.
“Babe,” Dean said.
“Give me just one second,” Cas replied, thumbing at a pair of socks.
Dean nuzzled his neck and brought his other arm up to hug him properly. Cas was warm and smelled like cucumber melon shampoo, and Dean was willing to wait all day for him to pick out his socks if it meant he could keep hugging him.
Startled by the voice, Dean quickly jumped away from Cas and turned to see Cassie standing just a few feet away with an empty basket on her arm.
“Hey, sweetheart, c’mere,” Dean replied, closing the distance between them and wrapping Cassie in a tight hug.
“I knew your foot was getting better, but it’s good to see you out and about,” Cassie said, eyeing him up and down. “You look good, Dean.”
“Thanks.” He smiled and put a hand to his belly, resting it on the pocket of the Stanford hoodie. “I’m getting kinda chubby, but Cas likes me cozy, so it’s OK. You look good, too."
She tucked a bit of her curly hair behind her ear. “Is that Cas? Can I meet him?”
“Oh yeah, sorry. Cas!” Dean shouted. “Take a break from your socks for a second and come meet Cassie.”
Cas walked over, holding a hand out to Cassie and introducing himself while Dean put a protective hand on his back and kept him close to his side.
“Ah yes, you and your husband have both slept with Dean. Something we all have in common,” Cas deadpanned.
Cassie laughed then looked between them. “Yeah, actually, I never thanked you, Dean. I’m honestly not sure how I would’ve responded to finding out my husband was a closeted bisexual if I hadn’t been hooking up with a bisexual every weekend.”
“So, everything alright?” Dean asked.
“Yeah, never been better.” She smiled. “Not to kiss and tell, but Ryan and I have a lot of threesomes now.”
Dean turned his head to Cas and lightly smacked him in the chest. “See? We could—”
“Dean, I’m not discussing threesomes with you right now.”
Cassie burst out laughing then said to Cas, “So Dean is still Dean, huh?”
“Hey,” Dean said with a pout.
“Cas, if you ever change your mind, give us a call,” Cassie said. “You’re exactly my husband’s type.”
“Um,” Cas said, his eyes widening.
Dean laughed, hugged Cassie one more time, then grabbed their cart to continue waiting for Cas to pick out socks.
On their way up to the front, Cas said, “We’ve only been dating two months, Dean, I’m not ready to share you again.”
Dean slung his arm around Cas’ shoulders and pressed a sloppy kiss to his temple. Lips against his face, he mumbled, “But at some point you’ll let me do some kinky shit, right?”
“Yes, Dean, at some point.”
Dean was scrolling through his phone, holding it high above his face while he lay sideways on the bed, his head pillowed on Cas’ lap and his legs dangling near the floor.
“Looks like Jesse and Cesar had fun in Mykonos,” he said, showing Cas pictures of the couple on Facebook.
Cas hummed. “Are you still sad you didn’t get to go?”
“Nah, I’ll take you next year.” Dean blindly reached up a hand and found Cas’, tangling their fingers together and pulling his hand toward his mouth to kiss his knuckles.
“Mm, a vacation sounds nice.” Cas moved his hand away from Dean’s, opting instead to rub back and forth across his softening chest. “Do you want to go for a walk today?”
“Yeah, nothing too hilly though.” Dean set his phone down and looked up at Cas.
“What?” Cas asked sweetly.
Dean smiled at him. “Nothing. I just love you.”
Cas bent forward, and Dean lifted an arm up to grab the back of Cas’ head to bring him down for a kiss. The angle was awkward, and they were both smiling too much, so they settled for several quick, chaste kisses before Cas sat back up.
“I love you, too, Dean.”
They sat together for a few more minutes until Dean had to pee and got up to go to the bathroom. He took his shirt off to check his tattoos in the mirror, turning to the side and pressing his fingers to the clear bandage over his ribs. He had spent a ridiculous amount of money getting the forest on his side turned into Ents, subtly, with a very small couple standing at the foot of them: Merry and Pippin. Between the lion and the roses, he had added a stylized quote: Joy shall be yours, spoken by Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia. Next, he planned on getting the Impala’s first license plate number, KAZ-2Y5, under his right arm.
When Dean came out of the bathroom a couple minutes later, Cas was asleep, hand still holding his phone against his chest. Dean laughed and kissed Cas on the forehead before going out to the kitchen and starting a pot of coffee for him. Then he put a robe around himself and headed over to Sam and Eileen’s.
“Oh good, come help us put this bed together,” Sam said as soon as he opened the door.
“Hello to you, too.”
Dean followed Sam into the spare bedroom, where Eileen was ratcheting together two pieces of a bed frame. She waved at Dean and kept working.
“Any word on how much longer it’s gonna take?” Dean asked as he and Sam moved a mattress.
“Couple months maybe,” Sam replied. “It’s going so much faster than we thought.”
“That’s good, though, right? Still excited?”
“Yeah.” A soft smile took over Sam’s face.
The child would be almost 3 by the time he came to live with them. He had a congenital hearing impairment and pictures of him showed a chubby, long-haired, gap-toothed little angel. His name was Jack.
“What’s Cas up to? I saw his truck outside,” Sam said as they worked.
“He’s asleep.” Dean fought a smile at the thought of Cas’ sleeping face, then blurted out, “What if I asked him to move in with me?”
“What did you just say?” Eileen asked, stopping her work to look at Dean.
He repeated his question in ASL.
“Well, he’s the first actual boyfriend you’ve ever had,” Sam said. “And you’ve only been dating, what, three months?”
“Lesbians move in together after two dates,” Dean argued.
“Are you a lesbian?” Eileen asked.
“He practically lives here anyway,” Dean said. “And he rents his apartment, so—”
There was a familiar knock on the door, so Dean went to go get it. Cas had a scowl on his face and a mug of coffee in one hand. He was wearing one of Dean’s old oversized t-shirts, “IDGAF” in big rainbow type across the chest.
“I hate when I fall back asleep like that,” he said before stepping inside and kissing Dean on the cheek. “Thank you for the coffee.”
Dean wrapped his arms around Cas’ waist and pulled him close so he could kiss him properly. “I’ll wake you up next time.”
“No, please don’t,” Cas said between kisses. “That’s even worse.”
They stayed and helped Sam and Eileen with Jack’s future room for the rest of the morning, then they headed out to go for a walk.
It ended up being more of a hike, which was fine because Dean’s foot had healed nicely and all he needed was some ibuprofen to survive. They went about eight miles and took pictures up at the peak, and Dean didn’t feel like he was going to puke or pass out. He loved hiking.
Back at home, Dean showered and changed into a pair of jeans, a black t-shirt and a dark green button-down that he kept open with the sleeves rolled up. The t-shirt had started to hug his growing belly, but he was going to wait as long as possible before buying new clothes again. He hoped his body would settle soon so he wouldn’t have to keep replacing clothes, but he also really liked eating.
“Oh no, I know that face,” Dean said as he came out of the bathroom. “You responding or unfriending?”
Cas was sitting on the edge of the bed with his laptop open, brow furrowed in anger. “Unfriending. I posted our hike pictures.”
“What? Those pics were cute.”
Dean joined Cas on the bed, dropping his head to his shoulder and looking at the screen. It was a full-body side view picture of himself standing on a rock, his hands holding the straps of his backpack as he smiled at the view.
“Wow, who’s that handsome fella?” Dean asked.
“I’m unfriending everyone who comments on your weight,” Cas said. “Your brother’s on thin ice.”
Sam had commented something about Dean looking “awfully healthy.”
“Babe, I used to have washboard abs and posted shirtless pictures all the time.” Dean laughed and reached a hand down to jiggle his fat stomach. “Of course people are gonna comment on my weight.”
“Well, they could be nicer about it.”
“Hey, remember when I was the one obsessed with what people thought of my body and you told me to stop?”
Cas turned and narrowed his eyes at Dean. “Fine.” He shut the laptop.
They went to Dean’s favorite bar—which was still the dive he and Benny used to go to together—and sat up at the end of the bar and ate greasy food and Dean drank two beers while chatting with Pamela. It was the only night of the week Dean drank anymore.
Benny came in with a group of burly guys and waved at Dean and Cas before taking his usual pool table.
Dean finished his food and switched from beer to a shirley temple with as many maraschino cherries as Pamela could fit in the glass. Heavy hands dropped to his shoulders and he turned to see Benny smiling down at him.
“Well, look at this,” Benny said smugly. “You look as soft and spoiled as I always hoped you’d be.”
Cas audibly growled.
“Benny, I saw you two weeks ago,” Dean said. He reached over to Cas and squeezed his knee in reassurance.
“What, and I can’t be happy for you twice? I told you, Dean, I could always see through your shit. I knew you’d find yourself one day.”
“And how exactly did you help him with that?”
“Cas,” Dean chastised. “Hey, Benny, wanna play some pool? For old times’ sake?”
“Oh yeah, and get my ass kicked as usual?”
Benny was clearly trying to put on a show for his friends. He took his time racking the balls, explaining to his buddies how he used to spend Saturdays with Dean, how Dean would always win at pool but Benny would always be so close.
And then Benny stood there, holding his pool cue, waiting for his turn that never came.
Dean ran the table, sunk every stripe, calling his pocket every time, then set his cue stick back up on the wall and said, “You can see through my shit, right, Benny? So you knew I was going soft on you every time we played.”
Dean patted him on the back and left him staring dumbfounded at the pool table while his friends laughed.
Cas was smiling shyly when Dean returned to him. Dean gestured that it was time to go, then he set some bills on the counter and waved at Pamela.
“Been waiting years for you to do that to him, Dean!” she shouted at him from across the bar.
Outside, Cas pushed Dean up against the side of the Impala and slotted a knee between his thighs as he kissed him. Dean slouched back against the car, forcing Cas to hold his weight.
When Cas moved his lips to Dean’s neck, Dean said, “You know, Benny’s just possessive as, like, a kink.”
Dean huffed a laugh. “That he thinks you’re playing some kind of fun game, but you would actually kill him if given the chance.”
Cas pulled away to make eye contact with Dean. “I already won the game. Killing him is all that’s left to do.”
Dean cupped Cas’ face and rubbed the pad of his thumb gently across his cheek as he looked at him. “Babe. Get a fucking grip.”
Dean was in a panic.
Cas had moved in a week ago, and some of their friends were coming over for dinner. Dean had spent the morning making an elaborate breakfast because he loved his boyfriend and also because he wanted to see if he could get laid before noon (he did). But now he only had a few hours to clean the house and cook dinner before people started showing up.
While Dean hurried around the house taking a duster to every surface, Cas sat on the couch with a blanket over his lap reading a book.
“Babe, can you help me move this—”
“No,” Cas interrupted.
“Cas, for the love of god. Please.”
Cas dramatically set his book down in his lap and turned a bitchy face at Dean. “The house is immaculate. I’m not indulging this behavior from you.”
Their hundreds of books weren’t organized properly on the shelves, there were blankets strewn haphazardly over furniture, three different types of coasters on the coffee table, picture frames crooked on the walls. Cas had brought an armchair with him that just barely fit in the living room, an extra bookshelf that looked ridiculous crammed next to Dean’s, and half a dozen plants that he had placed “strategically” around the house.
Granted, it was better than the sterility of before. But still, Dean obsessively cleaned.
As Dean made his way around the coffee table to organize the coasters, Cas snatched him by the hips and pulled him backward down onto his lap and buried his face in Dean’s neck.
“Stop cleaning,” Cas said.
Dean squirmed and batted at the hands around his stomach. “C’mon, man, just let me—”
Cas moved a hand down the front of Dean’s sweats and teased at his cock.
Dean groaned. “I’m not falling for this.”
“Falling for what?” Cas bit his shoulder.
“I hate you so much,” Dean mumbled as he arched up into Cas’ touch. “Bed. Now.”
Dean barely had time to shower and get dressed before Charlie and her girlfriend Stevie arrived. They helped chop vegetables and peel potatoes.
Hannah showed up next and spent several minutes looking at all the pictures around the house, adjusting every frame on every shelf and occasionally asking who someone was. Then they turned their attention to the books, all of which had the spines facing out now.
Jesse and Cesar made it just in time for dinner. Everybody helped move the kitchen table around so they could add a leaf to it and put more chairs around it. Cas and Dean didn’t sit next to each other, and Dean watched warily as Cas had a quiet conversation with Jesse and Cesar all through the meal.
As everyone finished their food, Cas picked up empty plates to take them to the sink. When Dean handed his plate over, he refused Cas’ nonverbal offer of seconds.
“Wait, hold on,” Cesar said.
Everybody looked at him.
He stared at Dean. “Did you just refuse seconds?”
“Yeah, I’m full.”
“But you’re never full,” Jesse added.
Dean relaxed in his chair and put his arm over the back of Charlie’s. “I’m fine, guys. Really.”
From the kitchen, Cas said, “Dean doesn’t deprive himself anymore, so if he says he’s full, he’s actually full. Don’t worry about him.”
“Huh,” Jesse said, getting a good look at Dean. “He takes good care of you.”
“Dean takes good care of himself,” Cas corrected.
Later, snuggled up in bed, Dean asked Cas what he had been talking to Jesse and Cesar about during dinner.
“Oh, um.” Cas cleared his throat. “Just, um, things that you like. I asked them for advice on how to spoil you.”
Dean snorted a laugh. “Why?”
Cas tugged Dean closer to him and kissed the top of his head. “Because I love you.”
“I love you, too, babe, but I don’t need you doing any tricks and gimmicks to keep me interested.” He squeezed his arm around Cas’ waist. “I have everything I want right here.”
“Hm. So you’re saying you don’t want me to get Cesar’s recipe book?”
“Wait, hold on, I didn’t say that.”
“Dean, can I have my baby?” Pati asked from the kitchen.
Dean was in the living room, holding the cutest little baby he had ever seen in his life and finding himself completely incapable of looking away from her. “No,” he said.
“Alright, dude, but you’re paying for this shirt if my tits leak through it.”
Cas gingerly but forcefully took the baby out of Dean’s hands and carried her over to Pati. Dean crossed his arms over his chest and pouted.
“So Pati, you have a girlfriend?” Cas asked.
Pati sat in a kitchen chair and shoved a boob into her baby’s mouth. “Yeah, we’re thinking about moving in together actually. She’s got a baby, too, from the same BD.”
“What?” Cas asked.
Dean had already heard this story.
“Yeah, be careful out there or you might get two girls pregnant in the same week,” Pati said. “But hey, our kids are like half-twins, so I hope it works out with her.”
“That is the most outrageous coincidence I’ve ever heard in my life.”
“You must not know a lot of bisexuals,” Pati said.
Cas looked to Dean for confirmation that Pati was fucking with him. Dean just shrugged.
Dean picked Cas up from work and sped home. Neither of them bothered changing out of their scrubs before going over to Sam and Eileen’s to pick up Jack to take him out for dinner and ice cream.
Jack was 3 and used his own unique sign language to communicate, which Cas was fluent in. Cas still struggled with ASL, but he and Jack were cut from the same cloth. On days that Dean had to work later than usual, he would come home to find Cas and Jack sitting on the floor of the living room having a tea party with Jack’s stuffed animals and furiously signing back and forth to each other.
They took Jack downtown so they could walk around and stop by the library and the playground before dinner. When they were out in public, Jack clung more to Dean than to Cas, because Dean would put him up on his shoulders, push him down the slides or on the swings, let Jack hang onto his waist while he did the monkey bars.
Dean was running as fast as he could to spin a merry-go-round full of laughing children when a terrible voice stopped him in his tracks.
“Oh my god,” she said.
Dean adjusted the Stanford hoodie over his paunch and bent down so Jack could crawl up onto his back before he walked over to Bela.
“You have a kid,” she said.
“You look good, Bela.” Dean looked her up and down.
She wore tight-fitting workout clothes and had a yoga mat rolled up under one arm. “You look fat,” she said.
“Yeah, that's 'cause I'm fat. Would you still fuck me?” He winked at her.
“Dean, you’re holding a child.”
“Oh, he’s deaf. So, would you?”
She clenched her jaw and glared at him. “Yes.”
“Wait.” He set Jack down and pulled up the sleeve of his hoodie to reveal the Starship Enterprise and Millennium Falcon tattooed on his forearm, both of them flying toward his wrist. “I’m getting all my favorite spaceships as a half-sleeve. Now would you still fuck me?”
“What the hell has happened to you, Dean?”
Cas came up to them, settling a hand on Dean’s lower back and looking between the two of them. “Bela, I presume?”
“Well, Castiel, you really made him into your own, didn’t you?” Bela said. “Tailored him perfectly to you so he can’t go running off with anybody else, hm?”
Dean turned to look at Cas. “She just admitted that she would still fuck me, so don’t listen to her, babe.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Bela, but we have to get to dinner.” Cas walked off to retrieve Jack from the seesaw.
“You have a kid with him,” Bela repeated.
“Sure, yeah.” It wasn’t worth it to correct her.
Dean and Cas walked down the street with Jack between them. He held their hands and they swung him back and forth every few feet.
“I haven’t tailored you,” Cas said. “Every iteration I’ve seen of you has been beautiful to me.”
“Cas, please, not while we’re in public. You might as well whip your dick out if you’re gonna say shit like that.”
“I think you’re hot, too, by the way. I don’t think I say it enough.” Dean cleared his throat. “You have the most perfect fucking hands I’ve ever felt in my life.”
“Dean, please. Not in public.”
It was around 5 p.m., and Dean and Cas were sitting on opposite ends of the couch, their legs tangled up in the middle, both reading books.
“It’s almost our first year anniversary.”
Cas looked up from his book and frowned at Dean. “I’ve never had one of those. Are we supposed to do something?”
Dean scoffed. “I mean, if you wanna get laid that night, then yeah.”
“You know I’m ambivalent about that at best.”
“How ‘bout we go out tonight? Somewhere nice. And I’ll fake propose so we can get a free dessert.”
Cas put a bookmark in his book and closed it. “That sounds nice actually.”
They showered together and got ready, dressing up a little nicer than usual. On their way out the door, Cas grabbed Dean around the waist and hungrily kissed him, pushing him back against the sideboard and moving his mouth in a bruising rhythm.
“Hey, what—what’s this for?” Dean asked, laughing.
“You look really good,” Cas muttered against Dean’s lips. “I’m feeling uxorious.”
“Oh, so I’m your wife now?”
“Yes. Let’s go.”
Cas acted the same at the restaurant, showing embarrassing amounts of PDA while they stood in the lobby waiting for a table. He was hugging Dean from behind and had one hand under the hem of Dean’s shirt to palm at his soft belly when Crowley walked through the door with a very tall, blonde drag queen on their arm.
“Oh, Christ,” Dean breathed, dropping his hand over top of Cas’.
“What?” Cas asked as he kissed the side of Dean’s neck.
Crowley spotted them and smiled as he walked over. “Bloody hell, Dean, what has Castiel been feeding you?”
Dean pulled Cas up to his side. “Good to see you, Crowley. Who’s your friend?”
Crowley copied Dean’s movement, holding their friend close. “This is Lexi. Lexi, this is Dean and Castiel.”
“Oh, the cute boy you used to be in love with,” Lexi said excitedly. She offered her hand palm down, so Dean took it and kissed her knuckles. “Aren’t you just adorable? Fergus, this is not what I pictured when you talk about him.”
“Fergus?” Cas asked.
Ignoring him, Crowley said, “Well, he looks different now, darling.”
“How long have you two been going out?” Dean asked.
Cas nudged his side, nonverbally admonishing him for being nosy.
“A few months,” Lexi answered. “I helped Fergus get over you, hon.”
“Oh, good,” Dean said. “Good to see you happy, Crowley.”
Crowley clearly tried to fight off a smile, so Dean winked at them.
Lexi said, “So, should we get a table for four?”
Dean opened his mouth to say “sure,” but both Crowley and Cas said no at the speed of light. Lexi just laughed as Crowley led her away from them.
After a pause, Dean said, “Glad to see Crowley’s over me.”
Cas hugged Dean from the side, linking his hands around Dean’s love handles. “Yes, he’s been scowling a lot less toward me at work lately. I kind of miss it.”
“Yeah, you know you didn’t actually win any sort of competition, right? That I’m not some prize?”
Cas frowned at him. “No, you’re definitely one of those giant stuffed animals I won at an amusement park.”
Dean squirmed out of his hold but Cas just kept reaching for him, both of them laughing.
They got a booth, and Cas insisted on sitting on the same bench with Dean so he could keep touching him throughout the meal. Dean enjoyed the excessive attention and decided to use it to his advantage.
“Hey, babe,” he said once they were in bed that night.
“Mm,” Cas mumbled against his neck.
Dean wrapped his arms around Cas’ back and dug his fingertips in. “Do you think we could try, uh, something different tonight?”
“You know I’m always willing to give you a rim job, Dean, but you didn’t douche earli—”
“No, baby, listen.” Dean waited for Cas to stop kissing him. Once Cas was making eye contact with him, Dean said, “I wanna try topping.”
Cas’ face drained of color. “But. Your penis is huge.”
Dean laughed and gripped Cas’ arms, rubbing them reassuringly. “I’m patient. Please? Just this once, to see if I like it?”
Cas worried his bottom lip between his teeth then nodded.
Dean had been bottoming for so long, he knew every tip and trick imaginable for a good fuck, and he made sure not just to prepare Cas but to overprepare him. It took an hour and a half of cleaning, foreplay, opening him up, positioning him exactly right on the bed, then finally fucking him.
Cas made a surprised little noise when Dean pushed into him, and then Dean held still and waited for Cas to tell him to start moving. It took them both a long time to come. Dean was exhausted and sore and collapsed next to Cas on the bed after coming between his legs. They had towels beneath them, so they didn’t get up right away to clean.
Through panted breaths, Cas said, “That—was—unlike—anything—I’ve—ever…”
“Was it good?”
“Fantastic,” Cas breathed. “Was it—good—for—you?”
Dean shrugged. “It was fine.”
Cas laboriously turned to his side and slung an arm across Dean’s chest. He waited until his breathing evened out before saying, “I’ll set an early alarm and make love to you in the morning before work.”
Dean brought Cas’ hand to his mouth and kissed his fingers. “Thank you.”
Bobby was back on Dean’s caseload. He fell out of bed and broke his wrist and therefore needed help with pretty much everything. Their oldest resident had died a few months ago, making Bobby the new oldest.
“I heard there’s a new nurse here today,” Bobby said as Dean helped him get his clothes on.
“Uh, yeah. My boyfriend is filling in for somebody,” Dean replied sheepishly.
“Well, bring him in here. Let me get a good look at him and see if he deserves you.”
Dean pressed a dramatic hand to his chest. “Bobby, that’s so sweet,” he said in a high register.
Bobby scoffed at him.
Dean pulled his phone out.
Dean: Bobby wants to meet you. Room 213.
Babe xoxo: Five minutes
Exactly five minutes later, Cas knocked on the door and Dean let him in. Bobby surveyed him then asked him a slew of questions, everything from “where are you from” to “what are your intentions with Dean.”
Cas’ eyes flickered to Dean before returning to Bobby. “I intend to be with Dean for as long as he’ll have me.”
“Why? What’s so special about him?” Bobby asked gruffly.
Cas blinked. “He’s gentle and caring, effortlessly selfless, funny, intelligent, resilient but soft. He makes me a better person just through loving others so wholly, I can’t help but want to be like that. He’s beautiful.”
“Hm,” Bobby grunted. “Fine.” He turned his wheelchair toward Dean and said, “He passed.”
Dean and Cas just looked at each other and smiled shyly. Cas excused himself and left Bobby’s room without another word.
For the rest of the day, Dean felt warm and loved. His coworkers teased him about how lovesick he looked with Cas so nearby, but he didn’t care.
After they both clocked out for the day, Dean led Cas over to Mildred’s apartment to introduce him. She wasn’t on his caseload anymore, but he hung out with her sometimes when Cas had to work late.
She greeted Dean with a hug and a pat to his belly, then she gestured for Cas to give her a hug, too.
“What a handsome man you’ve caught, Dean,” she said sweetly, cupping Cas’ face in her hand.
Cas shuffled and awkwardly thanked her.
They stayed about an hour, with Dean and Mildred doing most of the talking while Cas just quietly drank the tea Mildred offered him.
"So, Dean," Mildred said as they were heading out. "Do you ever miss it? The excitement of your old life?"
Dean smiled and looked at Cas then back to Mildred. "You decide to ask me that now, right here in front of my handsome boyfriend?"
Cas squeezed Dean's hip. "Go ahead. You can answer."
Dean cleared his throat; heat rose to his face. "I, uh. I used to have a lot of fun, but I'm content now. Settled." Eyes still on Mildred, he reached over and held Cas' hand. "I don't know. He's my person."
Mildred pulled them both down for a hug and told Dean she's proud of him.
On their way home, Dean had one hand on the steering wheel and the other entwined with Cas’. He rocked their hands together back and forth against Cas’ thigh.
“Thank you,” Dean said.
“Uh, what you said about me to Bobby. That’s—well, it was just—you know, it was...” He cleared his throat. “Yeah.”
Cas laughed and kissed Dean’s knuckles.
At home, Cas announced that he wanted to see Jack and walked straight over to Sam and Eileen’s. Dean hated being in his scrubs once he was home, so he took a shower and changed into comfy clothes and considered going over to Sam and Eileen’s but the book he was in the middle of reading caught his eye from its spot on the coffee table.
So he sat on the couch and threw a blanket over his legs and read a book. The birds were singing outside.