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When you think of love, tell me, who do you think of? Because Dean Winchester always thought of Castiel Novak. He knew that it wouldn’t matter how slow the years would pass, his heart would belong to his only one. Obviously, they had a story, a long one. Not like one of those cliché things, those relationships people never fought. Dear God, no. they weren’t always fighting, but it wasn’t always peaceful either. Sometimes Dean would do something Castiel had asked him precisely not to do, and vice versa.

 

 

Flashback – November 2nd, 2005

Dean was sitting at his usual booth at the Roadhouse, alone with his thoughts and beer.

- What the hell are you doing here on your own, boy? You know your dad doesn’t want you here.  

- I just couldn’t stay at home, Ellen. Sam’s still at school, couldn’t stay home with dad, specially today – Dean remembered well what happened eleven years ago, he could still smell his happiness and life burning out.

- Sorry kid, I forgot. We still miss her, ya know? Every damn year your uncle Bobby lights up a candle with a white rose under. Misses her like a bitch, and I do too.

- I know, El. I miss her too.

- You should go visit her grave, Dean.

- You know what? That’s exactly what I’m gonna do, El. Thanks.

For the very first time, Dean was going to the cemetery to visit his mother’s grave. Remembering her still hurt. The memory was fresh, it came with a bright yellow, summer air, the smell of apple pie and the song Hey Jude. It never changed, his mom was still the best thing he had, the only thing he held on to. The day was grey, full of dark clouds, and as cold as he could remember ever being. When he got to the cemetery, it was empty, it always was. He left the impala outside, with a heavy heart. He walked for a couple of minutes and found her grave, the smell of cigarettes in the air.

- Hey mom. It’s been some time, uh… eleven years, to be exact. Guess it’s better late than never, right? Well, I’ll graduate in two months and Sammy is 12 now. Thinks he’s an adult already, it’s funny to watch. He’s got this Gabriel as best friend and I swear, that kid is weird and is always eating candy. And… well, there’s dad. He tries his hardest, you know? I know he does. But when he misses you, it’s hell at home. He never yells at me or Sammy. He just sits there, staring at your wedding pics, and he’s just… there. He’s still the dad he was, but not today. I miss you, mom. And I love you.

 

Not very far from Mary’s grave, there was a boy drinking wine with big combat boots, looking at the boy kneeling on the dirt. Just staring, listening. He couldn’t help but think he was beautiful; dirty blonde hair, broad shoulders, and a beautiful voice. He couldn’t quite see the boy’s eyes, so he came closer.

- Who are you?

- I should ask you the same – Castiel was surprised to see that the boy’s eyes were also beautiful, with freckles on his face and pink lips, plus tears stained cheeks.

- You’re in the freaking cemetery dressed all in black, drinking wine and smoking, apparently. God, this is so cliché.

- Well, I was at my dad’s grave. I’m Castiel.

- I’m Dean. Visiting my mom’s grave.

- Yeah, I got that. Sorry, by the way, it wasn’t my intention to hear it.

- That’s fine, man. Uh –I… I gotta go. Nice to meet ya, Cas.

- Dean! Wait! – Cas wanted to tell him something, anything that would comfort him.

- Yeah?

- You’re beautiful. I really hope to see you again.

Dean just looked at him and smiled. Cas fell in love just a little, wondering if he’d see him again, almost praying for it. He stood there, watching Dean leave, hoping that boy would be alright.

 

Now

 

If Dean had any idea of the mess they’d make, he would never have gone to the cemetery again. Not necessarily the mess they made, but the mess Dean had become. He was the shell of the man he once was. The shell of the man he was with Castiel. It’s been five months since he last saw him, but it felt like yesterday. He remembers Castiel looking at him, begging for answers and for the three words he never dared to say aloud. He remembers the last time he felt the scent of Castiel’s perfume mixed with cigarettes – God, he loved that scent so much –, the smell was already part of him, he stopped complaining about it when it started to comfort him when Cas wasn’t around. After all this time, it still brings some comfort, along with sadness, so his life became cigarettes and old perfume.

Chapter Text

Dean woke up 10pm and instead of going back to sleep, he got up and went outside with a cup of coffee, sitting on his porch lighting up a cigarette – the habit came with missing Castiel. As he looked at the empty street in front of him, he remembered Castiel leaving, crossing his fence without even looking back at him once. Yes, it still hurt him a lot thinking about it. As night grew colder, Dean did too. It’s been almost two years since he left, yet, he never moved on.

There were a few things Dean did that Castiel hated, but Dean never stopped doing them, he could never forget that. Even if he stopped doing these things, he’d still end up alone in this cold house. Always alone, right? He deserved it. He pushed away the only thing he could love in this world, taking a different path, and then Cas disappeared without a trace, making every day feel like a fucking torture for Dean.

 

February 3rd, 2011

 

- Jesus Christ, Dean, do you always have to do this?

- What, Castiel? What the fuck did I do wrong this time?

- Be rude to my family, Dean, you always do this, you know what they are like. You commit yourself to accompany me, and you always say, ‘oh this time I’ll be nice’ and you never, ever are. You should show me, and them, some respect.

- You know how they think they’re better than me, Cas, I just can’t ignore their fucking rant on how I’m only an engineer.

- You know we’re better people than them, Dean, you know it, and yet, you act like you believe they’re better than you.

- They don’t leave me with much choice, do they?

- Oh sure, because you grew up with them, with the fucking pressure mother used to put on me because Michael did this, Uriel did that and God knows where the fuck Gabriel is, but who cares about what poor little Castiel wants to do, right?

- You don’t know how I grew up, you have no right to say something like that!

- It’s because you won’t fucking tell me! – Castiel screamed and for the first time in a long time, Dean felt scared. Scared he was screwing the only good thing in his life, he was pushing away the only person that could still love him. Castiel saw when Dean’s face fell at this sentence and realized what he had said. – Dean… I’m sorry, I just wish you’d tell me because you won’t let me in and…

- I know what you meant, Cas. You’re right.

So Dean told him. Dean told everything he went through – from losing his mom and running away with his little brother in his arms from a burning house to the year Dean lost everything and they reunited again to finally start a relationship.

- And that was the last year I saw my brother and my dad, Cas. The last time I saw my family.

-   A wise man once told me that family doesn’t end in blood, you idjit.

- I know I’m not the most open and loveable person in the world, I’m not easy to deal with sometimes. But I’m trying, Cas. For you, because I love you and I don’t think I can express in words just how much I really feel that. You’re just… the best thing that has ever happened to me. You’re my angel. Mine, okay? Just please, stay with me.

- if you want to, then I’ll stay till my breathing stops, because I love you too and want to grow old with you.

- I want to have your babies.

- You just ruined the moment, you idiot. I love you.

 

Now

 

Dean regretted most of his decisions in life, however, Castiel was not one of them. Yes, it ended badly and he still loved him with every cell of his broken and beaten body, but he did not regret it. He still haunted these halls, the perfume Castiel used when they were together, the soap he used, the smell of cigarettes. When he was a little kid and his dad was still trying to be a dad, he told him stories of ghosts, of how sometimes, they were people that couldn’t let go and got stuck in their own stories, their past. That’s what he did to Castiel. He made Castiel become a ghost in this house, in his memory after he left. He wasn’t his angel anymore, he was probably somebody else’s angel now. Castiel was his ghost.

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Mama, take this badge off of me
I can't use it anymore.
It's gettin' dark, too dark to see
I feel I'm knockin' on heaven's door.

 

The hours never seemed to pass that night, it was a constant cycle of everlasting sadness and memories of them, replaying in his head. Even replaying the whole history, he still couldn’t quite know for sure what went wrong. He had his suspicions; not being able to open up, sometimes being distant, or a little rude, – being himself, basically – which made him feel sorry for himself, as usual. As he hummed to Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, he lit up another cigarette. It’s been two years without him, yet, five months ago he saw Cas again.

 

September 11st, 2016

 

Dean was playing at the Roadhouse, after a long time. As Jo sang Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, Dean played perfectly with calm and serenity. Everything was going well that day, he looked at the audience that night, seeing familiar faces everywhere, until he saw him; Castiel was there. At the bar, with Ellen in front of him. He got nervous, but kept playing, ignoring the empty feeling in his chest and his stomach dropping. He didn’t stop playing and Jo didn’t stop singing, as he played, he didn’t look up from his guitar, not even once, meaning he never saw Castiel looking at him, nor Cas talking to Ellen about him.

- He plays beautifully, don’t you think, Cas?

- I do. He rarely played it when we were together – Cas said looking at Dean with wonder in his eyes.

Castiel remembered Dean’s history with music. When he was a kid, his mom had a guitar, with which she played for him sometimes – she played a lot of songs, but the only one he remembered was Hey Jude. When she died, Dean took interest in her guitar, and in memory of Mary Winchester, he started to play, never giving up, righting the wrong chords, hurting his fingers, almost breaking his wrist, but not even once thinking of stopping. By ten years old, he already knew how to play Hey Jude. He never really stopped playing, he just did it rarely. His father tried to sell her guitar and Dean got in a fight with him that night. His father told him “he wasn’t worth of his mom’s things because he wasn’t someone she’d be proud of”. After that night, he stopped playing every day, becoming self-conscious of the person he had become. So, he only played for Cas when he feared thunderstorms, and when he felt insecure.

 

- Yeah, it took a lot of convincing for him to play today, and ironically, you decided to come back from the dead. What are you doing here after all this time, boy?

-  I… I really do not know.  I just… I miss all of you.

- I can imagine it. You had a family and you gave it all away, must be so hard for you – Ellen said with sarcasm dripping in her words. She still resented Cas for what he did and, unfortunately, he knew.

- You know he left me with no choice, El. Dean could not even tell me he loved me, and that hurt.

- I know… it’s just, it destroyed him. He still doesn’t talk to his brother or his father, you were the only family he had along with us, then you left. That boy was a mess, asking everyone if he really was a shitty person.

- He is not…  I understand now that his situation was a little complicated, especially with what his father used to tell him in his younger years, but still, it was difficult for me too.

- I know, I’m sorry, boy. So, you moved on, huh?

- That’s a joke, right? God help me, I am still in love with him with everything that I am, El.  – when he finished that phrase, he got up and left.

Dean never heard that conversation, and Ellen didn’t tell him about it. It’s not useful information, it wouldn’t do him any good, or so Ellen thought. 

 

Now

 

Two years, and he still hasn’t moved on, he couldn’t, everything was still like a movie in his head. Cas sitting on the bed next to him reading some cliché romance, some religious bullshit or scientific shit. Religion fascinated Cas, he created a lot of theories in his head, and shared them with Dean when he couldn’t sleep. Or he would lie next to Dean, telling him what happened to Emma and Dexter at the end of One Day, and surprisingly enough, he was always amazed by the stories Cas told him. The day he told Cas about his mom singing was the first time he really opened up, crying and fucking missing his mom. Cas held him through all of that, amazed by Dean’s strength and determination in learning something so meaningful to him and his mom.

Everything Dean loved went away, it was gone, and there was nothing he could do at this point, right? If only he had had more time… he showed Cas the albums he still wanted to know the story behind, he remembered his arms around Cas. That feeling, it hurt more than drinking mercury.

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Well, at some point, Dean would have to move on, but a part of him didn’t want to; the part of him that hated himself, the part that didn’t think he deserved to simply let go because he fucked up the very best thing he has ever had, the only thing that could make him happy after so many years of being miserable. After chainsmoking and drinking coffee for a few hours, Dean finally got up and went inside, thinking it was time to go to bed.

As he lay in bed, awake – and unfortunately for him, sober – he replayed some things in his head, not only his days with Cas, but also his days with his family, even if not complete. He thought of Charlie, Jo, Ellen, Bobby, and even Anna. Thinking of them hurt a little sometimes, because he knew that they knew what he’s done, and even if they didn’t judge him for it, they missed Cas, he was family too and they lost him because of what Dean did, it wasn’t fair. They never talked about Castiel, but Dean wondered if they kept contact with him, and he hoped they did, Cas deserved a family more than he did.

 

Halloween, 2014

 

- Are you really doing this just because of a bet, Dean?

-  Yes, babe. Unfortunately, I fucking lost to Jo.

-  I know, but what was the bet?

- That I can’t tell ya, sorry angel.

- That’s okay, at least you’re dressing up as Justin Bieber, and I love Jo for that, so that’s enough for me.

- I heard my name! – said Jo as she entered their house for the family party they were having – this is a family party and you’re dressing up as a shitty singer, Winchester? That’s just disrespectful.

- Yeah, Dean, I’m not part of the family, but I feel disrespected – said Cas with fake exasperation as Ellen entered the room with Charlie and Bobby.

- Who said you’re not part of the family, boy? Take your head out of your ass, you’re part of this madhouse, there’s no getting out.

- Are you serious?

- Of course you’re part of the family, Cas! You’ve been putting up with Dean’s ugly mug for the last 7 years, you deserve at least something good from this relationship!

- Haha, Jo, funny. Anyway, ignore this little shit, I’m awesome and adorable. And yes, you’re a part of this family because we love you, Cas.

 

Now

In that moment, Dean remembered seeing happiness in Castiel’s eyes, along with some tears. God, what would Dean have done without seeing those beautiful blue eyes and crooked smile? It hurt like hell to think about his past if he had never met Cas, because maybe he knew he wouldn’t have come this far in life. dean was 26 now, and that was a long time for someone that never thought would pass 17. Cas saved his life more than once, showing him there was always a way out. Cas rebelled against his family for him, went after what he believed in, never once doubting Dean nor himself for doing what he thought was right. Cas reminded him of what his mother used to say when she put him to bed: angels are watching over you – and when he met Cas, he was sure his mom was right. Castiel used to protect him from everything he was afraid of, even if it was stupid, like thunderstorms. When it happened at night, Cas would stay up with him, not complaining once, talking to him about anything that could distract Dean from the chaos outside their home.  How could Dean let him go so fast, without even trying? Everything they build got destroyed so terribly fast, he didn’t even get a chance to try to make it all okay; his life wouldn’t allow him to have a good thing forever. He wishes he could give it all up again, because now he was back to square one, losing everything.

He was tired of spending his day like this: lamenting everything he lost and moping around. Everything lost its purpose, he was seeing grey once again, walking around the house in the shadow of the man he once was and going after the ghost of his beloved, hoping to find anything in the house that belonged to him, desperate for something he could carry around to comfort him, so maybe, just maybe, he could pretend he was still there.

 

December 21st, 2006

As Dean entered the cemetery gates, he could hear the dry leaves crunching under his sneakers while the snow was slowly starting to fall. He knew he wasn’t here to visit his mother’s grave again, but he liked to pretend he wasn’t here for the boy he met that day. Fortunately, he easily found the boy sitting on top of a tomb, and surprisingly enough – drinking wine.

- Looking for me, Winchester? – said the boy looking at him with a smirk, not really waiting for a reply.

- How do you know my last name?

- It was written in that woman’s grave, who I suppose is your mom. I’m sorry, by the way, I didn’t mean to pry, and I’m also not trying to be rude, I just, you know…

- That’s fine, man. You were right, that is my mom’s grave. I’m Dean – he answered laughing at the boy’s desperation in not hurting him.

- I’m Castiel, nice to finally meet you.

- So, Castiel, tell me, why in God’s name are you in the cemetery when it’s freezing here and almost Christmas?

- not to sound all deep and cliché, but I like to hang out in my dad’s grave because it’s really quiet in here, unlike my house, so when I want to think, I come here.

-  Oh… I’m sorry about your dad.

- It’s okay. Nothing more ironic than creating humans – the so-called children –, naming them after angels and then dying, am I right? – Dean didn’t know if he could laugh, because it was a joke based on his disgrace, but still a good joke.

- Really? What are your siblings’ names?

- Lucifer and before you ask, we call him Luke, Michael, Raphael, Uriel, me and Gabriel are twins, and the last one is Anael, or Anna.

- Well shit, that’s almost the whole bible.

- I know, right? My parents are insane, but they’re the best. Well, dad was and mom still is. Mom’s a theologist and loves angels and their concepts, dad was just madly in love with her to let her name us.

- That’s so cute. My parents name me and my little brother after my mom’s parents. Deanna and Samuel Campbell.

- Cheesy and cute. You’re named after your grandmother – Cas said laughing with a little more admiration than he should.

- Laugh all you want. The woman is badass and makes a mean pie.

- Oh, so you like pie?

- Who doesn’t? Man, my granny is awesome!

 

Now

It was not an aleatory meeting, both went there hoping to see each other again, both getting what they wanted. You could say it was destiny, or just love, even if they didn’t love each other at the time. Maybe they just knew they were supposed to meet again, they saw something in each other they couldn’t quite put their fingers on. Dean and Cas liked the story about the red string of fate, saying they were connected by it, sharing their hearts. To this day, Castiel never told Dean that on the day they met again, he wasn’t there to think, but to find him.

 

Some things are better off forgotten

We bury them in places that we really only visit by ourselves.

 

Dean imagined what Cas was doing right now, seeing it was 2am, he was probably asleep, but if he wasn’t and hasn’t changed, he would probably be reading an article or a book, a classic romance, probably.

 

February 4th, 2015

Dean woke up suddenly, automatically searching for Cas lying beside him, but this time, finding the bed empty. He got up and went searching for him, finding him in the study room – they lived in a house with 2 bedrooms and a suite, they bought the house in blind hope that Sam would live with him once again, but when it didn’t happen, they turned one of the empty bedrooms in a study room – reading a book, with his glasses on, holding a mug of coffee, silently repeating the book’s words. Dean loved watching Cas do these types of things, he got so absorbed in the book, only Dean could ever make him leave the story, taking in every word, hardly changing positions, he just forgot there was a world outside.

- Hey angel, it’s 2am, come back to bed.

- I’m sorry, I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t want to wake you, babe. I think I’ve been here for an hour or so, but yes, I’ll go with you.

- Thanks. Did you have a nightmare?

- No, nothing of the sort… just, I was anxious to see what would happen in the book and I dreamt about that – he said sheepishly smiling at Dean.

- Oh god, I’m in love with a nerd.

 

Now

 

What do you wanna hear? Do you wanna know how many times I tore myself apart cause you're not here?
Oh, what do you wanna know?
Does it make you feel alive?
I had to die to finally let you go.

 

Letting go is never easy, Dean concludes to himself “and I’ll never do it.”  was his last thought before he fell asleep.

When the morning came, Dean didn’t hesitate to get up and start planning his lessons for when winter break was over, drinking his coffee. As he thought of some new teaching methods, he heard a knock on the door, he got up with a confused expression, wondering who could be knocking on his door at 6:30am. He got his answer when he opened it and felt the ground beneath his feet disappear as his stomach churned with pain and confusion.

- Hello, Dean.

Chapter Text

Everything went to absolute shit. What would you do if someone you loved suddenly came back from the dead? There’s not much to do, right? You stare at them, look at the features on their face, remembering everything you loved in it, to stare for hours and just fucking appreciate it like art. Or you want to punch them in the face, just punch them for leaving you and not even saying goodbye. Dean did the first one; he stared like it wasn’t really happening because he longed for it so much, loved him incredibly hard, pictured it in his mind how they would meet again.

- Hi… uh, I think. Yes, hi. – he said a little uncertain and hesitant, afraid of scaring him away again.

- We need to talk, Dean.

- Yeah, come in.

He moved to the side of the door so he could come in. Castiel moved hesitantly, but Dean still couldn’t help but think that Cas still belonged there, they bought this house together after all, the mobile they chose together, almost everything black – Cas was still the punk he was in their youth on the inside – and blue. Dean never got rid of anything that Cas chose. As they sat on the couch, Cas was still looking around searching for anything different.

- So, uh, what are you doing here? Not that I’m complaining, of course, it’s just… why?

- I found your brother, Dean. After so long, I have found him. I had to come here to tell you that. I contacted him, he’s a lawyer. Well, my brother Gabriel found him. He’s in California. I told him about how you’ve been looking for him and he thinks that it would be incredible if you two could meet.

- My brother Sammy? Oh shit, Castiel, you’ve got to be kidding! – Dean felt like his heart was coming alive again, words couldn’t express the happiness he was feeling.

- Yes, Dean. Actually, he is coming to town again in two days, and…  I was meaning to ask, if I could stay here for a couple of weeks. I know it’s a lot to ask and I’m out of line here, just…

- Of course you can, this was your house too, y’know?

-  Key word being was, Dean…

And like a punch to the gut, Dean realized what was really happening. Castiel, the one he was still in love with and would be until his last breath, was in front of him, asking to spend two weeks in the home they built together, and both destroyed. He wanted to scream and tear his own skin apart, but instead, he stared at Castiel’s blue eyes, drinking his appearance in: he hasn’t changed much, but he grew beard that unfortunately for Dean, made him look older, more tired, but still the most beautiful human has ever seen. His shoulders were broader, he looked more built anatomically speaking. He looked like everything Dean has ever dreamed and loved.

 

- But still, you can stay. Uh, tomorrow I’ll go to work and you can get settled now, I’ll be organizing my classes, so… I’ll be in the study room. Please, get comfortable.

- You’re teaching?

- Yes… at the local university now.

- Wow… that’s amazing, Dean!

- Thank you. So, if you need anything, you know where I’ll be. – he said awkwardly, leaving the room avoiding looking into Castiel’s eyes again.

 

Dean went to be alone in the room, trying to find anything to really distract him from the hurricane in human form in their living room. Dean never really spent time there; the couch was always too cold and empty for him, but having Castiel there again was a trainwreck for his head. He spent the last two years alone, for the most part, got used to the loneliness, the empty house, and it was fine for him, because he couldn’t bear to even think to bring someone else in the home they built, even if only one of them was still here. As he sat down, he looked at the tests on his desk knowing he wouldn’t really concentrate, he just couldn’t, he just sat there and for what felt like a fuckload of time, he let himself cry and be angry, for once. Until he heard the knock on the door.

- Dean… we really need to talk. I’m sorry, but…

- Yeah, I know. Come in and sit, I guess.

- So, I’m sorry I’m here in such short notice, but there was no way of contacting you, since I don’t remember your e-mail, and you have no social media. I found your brother, Dean, and he is looking for you, too. He would like to meet you again.

- You said that already. – Castiel was a little taken back by the words, feeling out of place and completely heartbroken in front of the man he was still terribly in love with.

- I am sorry, Dean. My brother met him there, and was surprised to discover he was really Sam Winchester, because you two look nothing alike. Gabriel became friends with him, and one night he told Sam about how he knew his brother, Sam obviously got interested. And here I am, so we can arrange a meeting, Gabriel is living here in Lawrence again, Sam is coming to spend a few weeks with him, then you two can meet.

-  Fine by me. You can just talk to him and he can choose the date, whenever he can I’ll be there. Anything else?

- Yes… Dean, I’m sorry for leaving that day, it is one of my biggest regrets.

- Look, we won’t talk about that. I get it, I was a shitty boyfriend, fiancée, whatever, you didn’t have to put up with my shit and all my issues, it wasn’t your obligation. You didn’t deserve any of that. We fought, you left, it was the best for you, I understand that now. So, don’t worry your pretty little head with pity, I don’t need it.

- Dean… it’s not pity at all. You’re still with those self-worth issues, I always hated when you assumed my feelings, you know that. The way things ended weren’t healthy, I wanted to fix –

- No! you don’t get to run away and come back now to fix me like I’m some mental case.

-  I wanted to fix us, Dean! Not you, you were never broken in the first place, and even if you were, it was not up to me to fix you, it was yourself – Castiel screamed, and Dean got scared because Cas never screamed, not even once – Yes, I fucking ran because I felt like you were getting tired of me and I saw no other option, it  was so difficult, you have absolutely no idea the hell I’ve been through these last two years.

- And whose fault is that? I’ve been through hell my entire life, but these two years were the fucking worse because, guess what? You weren’t here!

 

He wanted to scream, and break things like he always did, Dean Winchester always destroyed everything he touches unintentionally, so why not break everything intentionally, right? He wanted Cas to be angry at him, so he could leave again, but he wanted desperately to scream “please, stay, don’t run again, we can fix this as we always did, please, please, stay”.  Except he couldn’t, not like this. He waited patiently for Castiel to return, and couldn’t ask him to stay, not after everything.

 

- I know, and it kills me every day, Dean, but it is not something I can fix so easily, no matter how much I wish for it.

- I’m sorry.

- I am, too. It was not my intention to come here and fix things, but seeing you always makes want to never leave. Did you know that five months ago, I came back and saw you playing at the Roadhouse? You were as beautiful as the day I lost you.

- You always did enjoy how to train your dragon. And yes, I know that. I saw you, but I pretended I didn’t.

- Why?

- It hurt. Seeing you there again hurt like hell.

-  I understand that.

- I’ll bet you do.  Uh… I need to finish those papers, but I’ll take a shower first and anyway, I’ll see you later.

Dean left the room feeling like crap, but that wasn’t exactly a surprise. He went to the bathroom and locked the door behind him, as he looked at his face in the mirror; he looked broken, lost and exhausted, he hated it. He felt the anger rising as he looked at himself with disgust, he felt angry at himself for ruining everything. There was a photograph of him and Cas on his suite, in the mirror. He compared his own face on the photo and his face now, he could clearly see his happiness: the photo was from the day they bought the house. If it was possible, he felt even more angry as he looked in the mirror, so he punched it. He punched it, and it hurt.  He felt the broken pieces cutting into his skin, making their way into his fist. The mirror smashed and some pieces cut into his face, mixing blood with tears, as he couldn’t stop muttering “I’m so fucking sorry”. Unfortunately for him, Cas heard the mirror smashing, and now was knocking at the door, begging him to tell him what happened and let him in. Dean opened the door, and just stared at Castiel while Cas sat him on the toilet and grabbed the first aid kit to clean him up. Dean wasn’t really listening to what he was saying, but distantly sounded like “It’s okay, baby, I love you, it’s okay”.

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Dean basically fainted, but slept nonetheless. He dreamt that night, – or would it be morning? – but it wasn’t exactly a dream, it was a memory, that turned into a dream. He felt restless and useless in the dream, like he couldn’t change anything, even if it was his subconscious.

 

Dean came home that night feeling weightless, he finally decided to take a step forward in his life, his relationship. They’ve been together for years, and Dean couldn’t imagine his life without Castiel by his side, for the good and the bad. Sure, there were some missing pieces in his life, but he knew it would be complete in time, he only had to be patient with himself, as Cas always said. Nothing was ever easy in his life, everything came with a price, he was always willing to pay, as long as he had Castiel with him, he would be okay, even with the debts. Love wasn’t easy for him, and he imagined how Cas could ever love him; he was difficult, impatient, self-destructive, and dear God, how he hated himself. But his Cas loved him, accepted him, soothed him when he needed and was patient. He loved Castiel for everything he was: patient, loving, kind, intelligent as hell. He wanted a future with him. Life had other plans.

- Cas? What are you doing here in the dark, love? – Castiel was sitting on the couch, all the lights in the house turned off, as Dean saw a glass of whiskey on Castiel’s hand – Are you drunk?

-  No, Dean, I am not. Could you sit with me? I must tell you something. It’s something big!

- Sure, what is it, babe?

- I was offered a job as a professor.

- Seriously? Where, Cas?

- Stanford, Dean. – Dean’s face fell at that, but of course that two years ago he didn’t know his brother was there, cause maybe things would have been different.

- Congratulations, love! I know how much you wanted to teach psychology.

- Thank you, babe. They are expecting an answer, and I have until Friday to make a decision.

- And what will it be? – Dean knew Cas has wanted this position for too long for him to decline, and he didn’t want Cas to do that, but his selfish part hoped he would stay here with him, and well, he kinda bought a ring for that.

- I will say yes, – unfortunately not for what Dean had planned – but I want you to come with me, Dee. – Cas said that so happily and full of hope, it broke something inside Dean.

- Cas… you know I can’t. I can’t leave the only family I have, I’ve done that a lot already.

Then, something changed in Castiel’s face, Dean remembered it vividly. He saw his expression turn from happy to cloudy in seconds, full of hurt and betrayal. Dean felt sick.

-  You can’t or you don’t want to? Not even for me? You can’t risk something in your life for once, I can’t say I am surprised, unfortunately.

-  What is that supposed to mean?

- Jesus, Dee. Not once in your life you did something to change, you’ve never thought of leaving this town? Yes, your family is here, but I am family too, right? There’s always ways to contact them, you know that. We can build a home there, a family, too, just please, don’t make me leave without you.

- I know how you always dreamed big, bigger than me, even. I never thought of going to college, but you believed in me and talked me into it. You always made me come out of my shell, and I have always thanked you for that. I know that you always wanted to get out of this town, and now you have a chance to do that, Cas. But I can’t. I don’t want to, actually. I like it here, I grew up here, I made a life for myself, I have Jo and Ellen, Bobby and Ash, Charlie and Benny. I don’t want to give that up, but I’m not going to be selfish and tell you to decline the offer, you’ve got nothing to lose.

- Don’t you dare say that! You think they aren’t my family too? I’ve got everything to lose, too! Especially you, Dean, you always were everything that made sense to me, you always were home to me. And I’m about to lose you too.

Dean knew this was a dream. A nightmare, maybe. He wanted to tell Cas that no, he would never lose him, he would always belong to him and love him whole heartedly. But just like in the real life, he couldn’t, he just stood there watching Cas say those things, trying to memorize what his voice sounded like, how blue were his eyes, how his face changed fast, because he remembered this was a goodbye.

- It’s okay, Cas. Take the job, you always wanted it. But I’m not coming with you, I’m sorry, but I can w... – Dean never got to finish that sentence, Castiel interrupted him before he could say he would always wait for him.

- You don’t love me enough to do that, right?

- Fine! If that’s what you want to hear, fine. No, I don’t love you enough to leave my hometown, I don’t love you at all.

He remembered that moment as if it was yesterday, and Dream Dean did the same as he did: nothing. He just watched Cas looking at him as if he didn’t know him, searching for anything in his face that could indicate that Dean was joking, but he found nothing. He turned around, going to the stairs, and Dean closed his eyes. He stood there, eyes closed for the tears not to fall, hearing the drawers opening and closing. He only opened his eyes again when Cas was in front of him again, with his bags packed, anger in his eyes, looking at him.

- Goodbye, Dean.

As he left, Dean woke up.

 

Dean woke up with tears in his eyes and only one song in his head. I know some day you’ll have a beautiful life, I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky, but why can’t it be mine?

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The breakup was probably one of the hardest things that has ever happened in Dean’s life, and that was saying something after all the shit he’s been through. When it happened, he thought he would be able to move on, after all, being alone was what he deserved, right? He was used to it after two years, or at least he thought he was. Having Cas here was familiar, he belonged there, yet, Dean felt uneasy because he knew it wasn’t gonna last. The good things never do.

 

July 4th, 2014

 

- This night is going to be awesome! Jesus Christ, I’m so going to get shitfaced. – said Jo as she took the fireworks to the backyard.

- As long as Ellen doesn’t blame me for that, I’m all up for it.

- No drinks for you, Mr. Winchester. Tonight is going to be beautiful, and you can’t be drunk for lighting up those fireworks, babe – said Castiel following Dean and Jo outside, waiting for Ash and Garth to arrive.

- Yes, I know, love.

- You two make me sick. Ugh.

- Get over it, big baby.

As the night fell and everyone arrived with food and drinks, they made themselves comfortable in chair outside, Ash went to light up the fireworks with Jo, Dean remembered the fourth of July he spent with Sam, leaving the house without their father knowing to light up fireworks in a big field, it was one of the best days of his life. that’s how he knew today was perfect for what he planned.

The fireworks went off, and Dean got down on his knees in front of his family.

- Cas, I thought a lot about this. It isn’t soon enough, because I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you. With you, everything is in the right time, no matter how long it might take because we always wait for each other. You know I was a mess when we met, and you were this little punk with literally too many piercings and you waited for me to grow up emotionally, you waited, we grew up together. You know that I love you with all that I was what I’ve become, and I’ll always owe you for it. So, I’m here, in front of the most important people of my life; my family, to ask you: will you marry me?

- Fucking hell, yes, of course I’ll marry you. You’re the love of my life, I love you, yes, yes, always yes.

Everyone started cheering along with the fireworks, and Ellen was crying, and although Bobby would never admit it, he was too.  He had never felt prouder of his boy than in that moment, finally being happy and building his family, he knew everything was going to be alright.

 

Dean remembered that day and felt even emptier if it was possible. He was so fucking happy when Cas said yes, and he didn’t even know where it all went wrong for them end up like this. He went downstairs to make coffee, seeing it was 4am. He usually got up at 6, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep again. Cas was asleep on the couch, so he simply stood there to watch him sleep peacefully, feeling his heart melting at the sight.

Dean left the house to work, but not without leaving coffee and donuts for Cas. Maybe when he got home they could talk about what happened, at least he hoped.