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For the third day in a row, there’s a sticky note on Castiel’s locker. It’s innocuous in and of itself, but also bright pink and impossible to miss what with the way the color contrasts with the dull, grey lockers. Castiel sees it long before he reaches it, the sight both making his blood boil and sending butterflies bursting through his stomach.

He hates it.

He snatches the note off of the locker’s metal surface as quickly as he can, knowing Meg isn’t far behind him and not wanting her to see. He shields the small paper with his palms while he reads it.

Cas—

Your hair looks good today. It looks soft. I want to run my fingers through it.

Castiel rolls his eyes, even as his cheeks burn with a blush. He can’t decide if this one is better or worse than the last; it certainly isn’t as embarrassing as the first had been. But that doesn’t mean he wants anyone to know about them—he opens his locker and shoves the note into the back, stashing it behind a never-used chemistry textbook with the previous notes. He doesn’t want to see them, doesn’t want to acknowledge their existence.

He’s not sure which of his ‘friends’ is behind the stupid prank, but he’s taken a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ stance for the time being, and hates them all for it equally. He knows it’s not Meg—she’s sweet on him, she wouldn’t mess with him in this way—but it could very well be Balthazar, or Raphael, or Bart, or Uriel, or even some combination of those dicks working together. He wouldn’t be surprised.

After all, it’s not like anyone would seriously leave these kinds of messages for him (no matter how endearing the sentiment might be, or how his stomach still twists like it is real, despite his belief of the opposite). Castiel isn’t the only ‘punk’ in the school, the only one with tattoos and piercings and a unique ability to make teachers hate him—his ‘friends’ also tend to fall in that category, to various degrees, which is the only reason Castiel aligns himself with them in the first place. He is, however, the only one who’s gay. He’s not the token in the school, but he’s the token in his own clique, and that’s what brings the hellfire down on him. His friends aren’t homophobic, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to harass him.

But no one on the outside of their group would ever take an interest in him, and certainly no one would have such nice things to say about him.

Castiel pulls his books for English out of his locker with jerky movements, rushed, thanks to the kinetic nervousness making itself at home in his gut. He doesn’t notice Meg coming up behind him, and he startles when she suddenly speaks, dropping his copy of Slaughterhouse-Five with a dull thump .

“You alright there, angel-face? Lookin’ a little… stressed.”

Castiel whips his head up to glare at her, a thunderous expression which only serves to earn him a raised eyebrow. He drops to pick up his book and shoves it into his bag. “It’s nothing,” he bites out, “don’t worry about it.”

“…Right.” Meg shifts to lean against the wall of lockers beside him, her hip popped out and arms folded. “So other than the fact that that’s total bullshit, should I be concerned?”

“No.” Castiel slams his locker shut, and turns on his heel, away from Meg. She makes an offended sound, but not even that stops him from storming off toward his first class.

If he doesn’t talk about it, he can go on pretending it isn’t happening. And, most importantly, he can go on pretending he doesn’t wish it was real.

~

The following morning, Meg is already standing beside Castiel’s locker when he arrives. He doesn’t think twice about it at first, but as he approaches, she grins and holds out her index finger. There’s a bright pink sticky note stuck to it.

Castiel’s stomach drops.

“Looks like you got a fan, Clarence,” she coos, the sweetness in her voice at-odds with her wicked grin. She holds the note out to him and recites it from memory, adopting a dreamy, love-struck tone. Even from a few feet away, he can read the neat, blocky letters that line up with what she says. “ Cas, your smile lights up a room. You should do it more .” She glances slyly at Castiel. “Looks like you’ve been keeping secrets. Who’s the lucky lady?”

Castiel rips the sticky note away from her and, once he’s managed to quell his shaking hands long enough to get his locker open, shoves it in the back to join the growing collection of notes there. His cheeks burn and Meg’s amusement isn’t helping anything. He tries to ignore her. He wants to pretend she doesn't exist. He wants to pretend he doesn't exist, for god’s sake. He doesn't want any of this to be happening .

Meg’s continued teasing doesn't make his pretending easy. She's too skilled at reading him for her own good.

“Oh, dear,” she says, tone sweeping and dramatic, with no little amount of amusement, “you don't even know, do you, angel cake. A secret admirer and here I was thinking I'd seen all of the best cliches. Gotta say, whoever this kid is, they're good. They must be pretty damn crazy about you, if they're leaving you stuff that tooth-rotting.”

Castiel slams his locker closed with a scowl. He thought his stomach was in knots before— it's only getting worse the longer Meg goes on. He doesn’t know what to do with the thought of anyone being crazy about him . Him, Castiel Novak. He considers himself lucky to have people he can call friends, what could he possibly have done to be worthy of potential romantic interest?

“Maybe this’ll be that chance you’ve been waiting for to finally get laid, huh?” Meg adds, and the last of Castiel’s resilience crumbles away to nothing. He doesn’t want to deal with this shit any more.

Fuck it. Who needs class, anyway?

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he growls, pointedly ignoring her smug grin as he turns away. He shoves past some meathead in a varsity jacket who was standing much too close to his locker, and beelines toward the exit. He doesn't give a damn who it was, and he pays them no attention. After that, everyone sees him coming and steers clear, parting before him like the Red Sea.

He doesn't look back to see the varsity jacket boy staring after him in mute shock.

He wouldn’t care, anyway. He’s just anxious to get home.

~

His locker is note-less the next morning. After the scuffle he had with Meg over it a scuffle which was later continued over text, much to Castiel’s chagrin he's grateful for the reprieve. He can tell that she still wants to make a comment when the two of them reach the blank metal door of his locker, can see the wicked glint in her eyes, but he silences her with a glare, and for once, it has the desired effect.

He resolutely tells himself that he’s not disappointed that his so-called ‘secret admirer’ looks to have been scared away—he’s just surprised, is all. A note-leaving pattern of close to two weeks has been broken. That’s all it is. Even if this is Raphael or someone, it’s odd. Obviously. There’s no other emotions, there.

God, he’s like a prepubescent girl .

He listens with half an ear while Meg talks his head off about some incident with Luc, her on-again-off-again boyfriend from the other side of town, and keeps his answers to monosyllabic grunts. His lack of enthusiasm doesn't deter her, and she continues on well through their shared first period. His second hour is a blessing of silence, as is his third, but there's a trickle of tension in his gut that inspires him to keep to himself even more than usual. Through all of his classes, he keeps a book propped open on his lap beneath his desk, and reads to escape his thoughts.

It works well, until he gets to English.

“Vonnegut, huh?” a voice to his left says, and Castiel startles so hard that the book falls closed in his lap. He’s sure he can find his place again, but logic isn’t enough to quell his burst of irritation as he turns a glare up at the speaker.

Said speaker turns out to be a boy Castiel is vaguely familiar with. Or--okay, very familiar with. Everyone in the school knows the captain of the wrestling team/varsity tight end on the football team/ASB vice president, Dean Winchester. And alright, maybe Castiel has, well, taken note of him in the past. Several times. Often. Maybe he’s caught himself staring a few times.

So he knows exactly who Dean Winchester is. Who doesn’t?

But whether he knows of him or not, this is definitely a first. They’ve never spoken , Dean and Castiel. Jock and punk don’t exactly mix well, at least in the eyes of the broader social sphere of a high school. He can’t quite understand why it’s happening now which is why his surprise is quickly hidden behind a mask of disgruntlement.

“Vonnegut,” he confirms a beat later, eyes narrowed slightly. He doesn’t know what to do here; does he go on the defensive, or assume that Dean’s comment is good-natured? He hedges neutrally, “You’re… familiar with his works?”

For all of Castiel’s paranoia, however, Dean just seems genuinely enthusiastic about his choice in novel. His eyes ( so very green; Castiel rarely allows himself the opportunity to look at them, not eager to be caught staring ) are bright with excitement. “Hell yeah, I know his works! My favorite is Cat’s Cradle , but Slaughterhouse Five is a damn close second. I’ve got a copy at home that I’ve read, like, a dozen times.”

Castiel blinks. Dean Winchester, a reader? And of pulpy sci-fi at that. Sure, they share an AP English class, but he’d always assumed…

Well. He’s not quite sure what he assumed, actually. Maybe he should feel guilty for that.

He wets his lips and searches for something to say in return. He comes up woefully short, but eventually settles on, “I’m not a huge fan of Cat’s Cradle . The ending was too bizarre for me.”

Dean laughs, loud and bright. It makes Castiel’s heart swell. “It's not for everyone,” he concedes. There's a moment of hesitation, then, and though Dean’s good mood remains in place, he starts to look a bit nervous.

When Castiel raises a pierced eyebrow, Dean’s nervousness takes on a degree of embarrassment. He bites his lower lip, and the sight definitely should not hold the entirety of Castiel’s attention like it does. He's so distracted that he nearly misses it when Dean eventually speaks.

“You weren't in class yesterday.”

“I was sick.” The lie falls from Castiel’s tongue without a second thought. It's only once he's spoken that he recognizes the implication that Dean noticed his absence. His cheeks warm. “I

“Do you want the notes?” Dean asks. He's already flipping back a few pages in his notebook, and rambling on as if his lines were already prepared long before Castiel even gave his answer. “I can take pictures of what I have and text them to you, if you want? Or, I mean, you can take pictures yourself, but sometimes I'm not always clear with what I write, so I could explain things, and we talked about the next project we’re doing, so

“Mr. Winchester,” a voice calls from the front of the room, and Dean immediately falls silent. His eyes, unfortunately, leave Castiel as he turns to the front of the room, looking cowed. Castiel would know; he can't tear his eyes away.

Mrs. Mills continues sternly, “If you and Mr. Novak can't behave yourselves and stop chatting, I will be forced to both separate you, and discipline you. This is supposed to be a quiet work time. So help me god, Dean, I will make you run lines at practice today if I have to.”

Castiel wonders if Mrs. Mills targeted Dean instead of himself because she's his coach (for which sport, he hasn't the slightest idea) or because he was clearly the instigator, but regardless, he's oddly glad for it. Dean’s blush is a beautiful sight to behold. He doesn't mind getting yelled at by his teachers, but lord, this is so much better.

“And Mr. Novak.”

Damnit .

He finally turns his attention forward, frowning to let his teacher know just how displeased he is with the development.

She isn't fazed. She never is. It's admirable, really.

“I have a task for you. Come up here, please?”

Castiel represses an eyeroll, but goes obediently to the front of the room. The ‘task’ turns out to be a trip to the library to pick up a copy of their new assigned reading book. It’s a bit obnoxious, having to go all the way across the school, but he does need the book, so he shuts his mouth and goes.

When he returns to class twenty minutes later, there’s a pink sticky note protruding from between the pages, and Dean is gone. The sight of it shocks Castiel to his core. He pointedly ignores the way his hands tremble when he reaches for the book, and flips it open to the marked page. His eyes go to the note, first.

Cas—

I should’ve worked up the courage to talk to you a long time ago.

It’s okay if you’re not interested in me. I get it. But just know… everything I said in the notes is true.

Castiel can’t breathe. His gaze slides to the illustration on the opposite page, and his heart clenches.

Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt .

~

The following morning, he stakes out early.

It takes some careful maneuvering, admittedly—he has to make sure Meg is occupied, so that she can't blow his cover, and he has to actually beg Gabriel to drive him to school earlier than usual, since his elder brother is typically half-asleep at their normal time. But in the end, Castiel manages to pull it all off. And that’s how, at seven o’clock in the morning, Castiel finds himself the only student in the hallways, lurking in an alcove and mostly-hidden behind a bank of lockers, just down the way from his own.

At this hour, the school is almost unnaturally silent. It gives him too much space to think, to ruminate over what an idiot he’s probably being, because there’s still a good chance he’s being pranked—but it also gives him time to think about how this might possibly go down, and, more importantly, it gives him the ability to hear every set of footsteps that approaches.

He really, really hopes he understands what’s happening here, correctly.

For the first fifteen minutes of his stakeout, not much happens. A few teachers walk past him in either direction, but aside from one exchanged, “Good morning,” with Castiel’s AP Bio teacher, none of them pay him any mind. A number of students start to filter through, as well, but there’s still not much going on.

Until a telltale varsity jacket hurries past his hiding place.

Castiel’s heart just about stops in his chest, but thankfully, he isn’t seen. He holds his breath for a few seconds, remaining as still and silent as he can, and then carefully turns and peers around the edge of the lockers beside him to spy down the hallway.

Even through the heavy fabric of his jacket, the set of Dean’s shoulders looks nervous. He glances left, then right, then slides his backpack off of his shoulder and reaches into the outermost pocket. When he draws out a stack of pink sticky notes and a pen, peeling one off and starting to scribble a message across it, Castiel pushes off of the wall he’s been waiting against and closes the distance between them with silent feet.

When he reaches him, Castiel grabs Dean’s shoulder and flips him around, then boxes him in against the lockers with his arms. They’re so close that Castiel can taste Dean’s surprised exhalation, can hear the almost-whimper that he clearly tries to stifle.

“Why are you doing this?” he asks, and Dean just makes that sound again.

“I…” The other boy—the most perfect boy in the entire school, probably in the entire world , if Castiel is being honest—seems at a loss for words. He swallows audibly, his eyes wide as they sweep across Castiel’s face. “I told you yesterday that I mean it, I don't know—”

“You said,” Castiel interrupts, “that it's okay if I'm not interested in you. Was that to say that you are interested in me ?”

Dean’s face is bright red with embarrassment. It takes him a moment, but he nods.

Castiel’s stomach swoops in a way it never has before. A part of him wants to ask why, wants to figure out how, not just anyone, but Dean Winchester could have feelings for him—but the larger part of him is tired of drawing this out. He presses closer to the boy, and is thrilled when he doesn't so much as lean away.

“You're right,” Castiel says, “you should have talked to me sooner.”

He seals his lips against Dean’s, then, kissing him before he can talk himself out of it. Dean’s lips are soft and plush, and he eagerly kisses back, once he gets with the program.

“Fuck yeah, I should’ve,” Dean breathes when they part. He cards his fingers through Castiel’s hair, but only seems to recognize the significance of the action after he's done it. He looks overjoyed, then pushes both of his hands into Castiel’s locks, purely because he can. “Jesus Christ, I knew it’d be soft.”

Castiel can't help but laugh. “Keep saying nice things to me, and I'll let you touch it whenever you want.”

Dean’s eyes somehow light up even more at that. “How about this Friday? Can I touch it then, maybe after some burgers and a movie?”

It's a bit rash, but Castiel is helpless but to kiss him again. He needs to remind himself that this is really happening, and it's far more effective than a pinch to the arm would have been. When he pulls back a few moments later to give them both the chance to breathe, he grins. “Friday sounds great to me.”

~

The notes continue after they start dating, of course. They’re not always daily, but Castiel still finds them often enough, and the sight never fails to fill him with happiness. Only now, he doesn’t hide them in a crumpled pile at the back of his locker. No, the notes from Dean, so precious and loved, have a special place at home, tucked neatly away in his desk drawer.

Cas—

You're gorgeous when you talk about your passions. You shouldn't hide them as much as you do.

Cas—

You’re kinder than you let on. You’re better than you think you are.

Cas—

You outshine everyone here.

Cas—

I wish you could see how incredible you are.

Cas

I love you.

 

Castiel considers himself to be very fortunate in his life. And he always makes sure to express the same sappy sentiments in return—only, he always says it to his boyfriend’s face.

Dean’s blush always makes it worth it.