The idea was to move to Phoenix and not really look back. Dean left behind an unfortunate job after an unfortunate argument with his unfortunate looking boss and that was really it. He packed his car with everything he needed and left the rest of it on the curb. The morning he left, he looked at the map and tried to get as far from the Midwest as he could and the desert seemed like a good enough compromise.
Dean’s not used to cities that sprawl out across miles and miles of land. Phoenix is the hub, but five or six more towns branch off, quietly draining the life from the center, soaking in prime real estate, expensive movie theatres and fine furniture. He’s used to the quiet, condensed way Midwest cities grow and feed into the small towns around them. There are no farms out here, nothing like back home. And it’s dry, dry enough to peel skin and bleach bone. It makes Dean crank the AC up and drain his last water bottle before he realizes he’s driven outside of any city limits and there’s way too many cactus here. Fuck, he mutters, giving up and pulling to the side of the road, digging his map out and trying to figure out how to get back on the highway.
And then he sees it, straight ahead with the white “FOR SALE” sign punching out of the dirty-orange backdrop. Dean urges the car forward and pulls his phone out of his pocket, makes the call. He’s inside in an hour, running his hands over the white walls and tracing patterns in the dusty floors, listening to the real estate agent go one about resale value and schools - Dean doesn’t have the heart to tell her that not a single bit of that interests him, but he nods and listens and makes an offer.
It’s his by four o’clock, and by five, everything he owns is sitting in a pile in the living room. Dean falls asleep with his head on a trash bag of sweaters and sleeps like the dead.
What Dean had been hoping to avoid was Sam’s phonecall the next day, but he can’t just pretend that his brother hasn't called him thirty-seven times in the last four days, so he answers it, nonchalant, like he hasn’t been driving for more than seventy-two hours.
“Where the fuck have you been?”
“For four damn days?”
“Yeah.” Dean’s at an estate sale down the street, contemplating between haggling for the yellow sofa with embroidered roses on the arms, or the brown one with wooden lion legs. Each looks like they were a different color when they were bought, but Dean goes with the brown one because it smells less like a cat and lion legs are cooler than roses.
“Where are you?”
“What?!” Dean listens to Sam bitch and complain about how you don’t just quit your fucking job because someone makes you mad and you definitely don’t drive all the way to Phoenix or buy a house when you get there or ugly brown sofas and you don’t pretend your brother hasn’t called you and you don’t act like this isn’t a big effing deal. “Are you even listening?”
“I’m, like, a day’s drive from you now, you realize that.” Sam sputters for a minute, pouting and still trying to find a way to win the argument. “And I’ve got a job interview tomorrow. So calm the fuck down.” He tells the dead guy’s son to follow him in his truck and he tells Sam to chill out and call him in the morning when he’s wrapped his head around the fact that Dean’s a fucking adult and he can do what he wants.
When the couch is finally in the living room, Dean takes a chance and sits on it, sneezing when the dust rises up in a little mushroom cloud from the cushions, surveying the house. The ceilings aren’t too low and there’s exposed brick along the kitchen wall that cools everything down. Dean’s pretty sure it’s not a new house, but it isn’t ancient either. Something about every line and every fixture is comforting, like the house is a living, breathing animal constructed solely to make Dean feeling less like the world is collapsing in around him.
Dean lied about the job interview.
He doesn’t have anything lined up, but he’s been a photographer since he was nineteen and he’s always had a knack for building up a reputation in a matter of months. Of course, he’s always been an expert at destroying that reputation. He’s pretty sure no one in the greater Phoenix area has heard of him - anonymity feels good.
Photography’s in his blood - his dad took wildlife shots for forty years. After a week in the house, Dean feels it creeping back into his skin, the prickling need to hold the camera in his hands and focus and sharpen and snap. The first thing he photographs is the house. He spends the entire day taking shots of the stained glass in the bathrooms and the archway with the terracotta tiles outside the front door. The front door itself is like artwork and there’s bougainvillea creeping up the side of the white, stucco walls like river deltas. The landscape is rocky and there’s a cluster of palo verde trees that shade the house when the sun is high. Dean’s got the camera focused just past the trees and toward mountains when someone startles him out of his reverie.
“You a professional?” He’s a wiry guy, with an awkward beard and a bathrobe over his jeans and tshirt.
“Guess we’re neighbors. I’m Chuck.” Dean takes his extended hand and feels good about the calloused skin that squeezes back. “This is Becky.” Dean blinks and realizes there’s this tiny blonde creature standing next to Chuck, eyes bright and smile wide and toothy. She’s got this miniscule little diamond on her finger and her hand around Chuck’s waist and Dean figures that that’s more important than anything else. “So you work for a place in the city at all? You just moved in a few days ago, I saw that.”
“Unemployed, at the moment. Looking for some freelance work, though, if you’ve got any friends in need of creating some memories.” He quirks a smile and Chuck returns the sentiment.
“I might, yeah. I’ll let you know.” It’s close to a hundred and ten degrees out - Dean doesn’t know how Chuck’s in a robe or how it’s allowed to get this hot in May, but he’s silently thankful when the couple goes back inside. Dean blinks at the sun and troops back into his own house, collapsing on his couch and wondering why he doesn’t have hired help to bring him classes of ice tea and grape popsicles. Frowning, he stairs at the designs on the ceiling tiles, wondering why he hadn’t noticed them before. He lifts his camera from his chest and snaps a photo, then tracing the patterns with his eyes.
He’s not looking for a message, but he finds one anyway, in some sort of probably heat-stroke induced half-dream. There are words and there are not words and they clearly do and do not say that this is where he belongs. That it’s okay to be happy here. That he can let go.
It doesn’t take long for Dean to realize that he might be in love with his house. And it doesn’t take him much longer after that to realize that this whole thing? It’s pretty fucking messed up. A house isn’t a person and it can’t run his hands through his hair and rest its head on his shoulder and whisper to him in a movie theatre. Logic tells him that he might be losing his mind. Everything else says that if he doesn’t meet the person who designed this house, and soon, he might go a bit further than stir-crazy.
“Dean, it’s after midnight,” Sam mutters into the phone.
“Okay, grampa, thanks for that. It’s eleven here. Is Jess - ah fuck this computer.” Dean growls at keyboard and bangs on the mouse, scowling through the phone as Sam laughs his ass off, managing to say something about Dean getting a regular laptop like everyone else between breaths. Laptops never made sense to Dean and Sam reminds him that, eventually, he’s going to have to catch up with the rest of the world and start acting like it isn’t 1987. They didn’t have the yellowing PC’s that Dean has set up on a sturdy writing desk in the corner, but it’s old enough to make his brother nearly vomit in his mouth every time Dean mentions something about Windows XP not working like it used to.
“Why do you want to talk to my girlfriend?” Sam’s on the other line and Dean can practically see his bitch face from an entire state over. He rolls his eyes.
“Don’t, like, architecture students know about architects? Or something?”
“I’m sure it’s in county records, Dean. Jess is busy.”
“I’m not,” Dean hears her call from somewhere in their apartment. Sam shushes her. He likes keeping Jess and Dean’s contact between one another minimal, mostly because they both have filth mouths and every phone conversation ends in a bad dick joke or something worse. She snatches the phone from Sam. “What’s up, fuck face?” she asks cheerfully. Sam groans.
“I want to know who built my house.”
“Okay, sure. Let me look that up in my architect’s phonebook. Why the fuck would I know that?”
“Look, isn’t there like a thing where architects are registered or something official or whatever?”
“You sound like a colossal idiot right now. You’ve got no idea what you’re talking about, do you?”
“There’s something. Not everyone registers in it. It’s to get news about national conferences and contests and stuff. I could look there, see if my department knows anything. Why do you wanna know?”
“Yeah, okay, Dean. Whatever.” She hangs up, leaving Dean pleasantly surprised at how polite they managed to be toward one another.
Dean does follow his brother’s advice and go through county records, making a few phone calls and trying to figure out the person designed en masse in the area. But whoever the architect was, they’re missing from everything. Annoyed, Dean gives up and waits for Jess to call him back, but his phone is quiet for a while. Everything is quiet, almost painfully so, and Dean’s happy to have someone knocking on his door one Sunday afternoon. Becky’s standing at his door, a pie in her hands a wide smile across her face. “Do you still need a job?” she asks.
“If you weren’t married, I would kiss you into an oblivion.”
“I know,” she says sweetly, pressing the warm apple pie into his hands. “I get that a lot.” She lets herself in, complimenting Dean on the sparseness of the house. She peaks into the bedroom “Actual beds are so old school. The mattress on the floor gives it a very squater-esque feel.”
“Can it,” Dean snaps, grinning as he jabs a fork into the center of the pie. “You got a job for me?”
“I teach at the elementary school a few miles over. We’ve got a culture day tomorrow and the company the school hired to photograph it cancelled on us. They got a better offer and bailed.”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full.” She sits on his couch, making a face at the dust. “Anyway, it’s a small school. I told our principal that I could bring in someone tomorrow who’d do it for less money and was an all-around nice guy.”
“You don’t know me,” Dean points out. Becky shrugs.
“I know enough. You’re sweet and you read Chuck’s manuscripts.” Dean nods. Chuck writes horror films and sends them off in droves every week between his real job doing tech support for a phone company. It’s probably the saddest thing Dean’s ever heard, but he likes the stories and Chuck brings beer. “Plus, you need a job.”
“I really do.” Becky smiles, smug, like she’s won, and pushes herself off the couch. “Thanks for the pie.”
“Nine AM tomorrow, got it?” Dean nods because he’s just shoved a forkful of pie into his mouth and gives her the thumbs up.
Dean’s busy photographing a booth on the foods of South Africa when Jess calls three separate times and leaves three separate, equally raunchy and awful voicemails, one of which he can hear Sam yelling about in the background. He’s not sure if it’s because he’s expecting absolutely nothing out of her search, or because he’s finally enjoying himself and this job, but he doesn’t check his phone until well after his tenth or eleventh piece of baklava and a third glass of this weird, Portuguese soda. Everyone’s taking a break as Dean lounges across the playground, back against a palm tree, sipping on horchata.
“Jess is mad at you.”
“Where, a theme park?” The kids are screaming on the jungle gym a few yards away.
“I’m working at a school.”
“I thought you had a job.”
“Didn’t work out,” he lies. “My neighbor teaches third grade. They needed someone to take pictures of an event. What did Jess want?”
“She says she might have found your architect.” Dean swallows his drink too hard and coughs, choking on it. “You okay?”
“Who?” he asks, fumbling with a pad of paper and a pen in his camera bag.
“Well there’s like forty who registered in the Phoenix area and the little cities around it.”
“It’s a national registry, Dean. Did you expect the name to just pop up? I’ll email you the list, unless you’d rather me send it by Pony Express or-” Dean mutters a playful fuck you and hangs up on his brother, waving at Becky as she crosses the playground toward him, handing him a cookie and muttering, “I have the worst fucking headache.”
“Yeah.” She sighs. “I’m pregnant, you know.” Dean raises his eyebrows. “Chuck doesn’t know. I don’t…it’s not like we weren’t planning on it. It’s just that…I don’t know, the doctor said it’d be a while and I don’t know if we’re ready for that.” Dean looks into his cup and bites his lip. People do this to him. A lot. Open up without asking. But it’s weirdly okay with Becky. She shrugs and mutters, “Whatever,” before downing her drink. “You want any kids, Dean?”
“I’ll just baby-sit yours.” She laughs, loud and infectious, forcing a laugh from Dean, too. “Is that not okay?” Becky runs a hand through her hair and pushes him with her shoulder.
“It’s fine.” Dean nods and watches another teacher blow her whistle, calling the kids inside. And, yeah, he thinks to himself. It really is sort of fine.
That night, he goes home and finds an email of forty-two names that are registered on this stupid list. It occurs to Dean that the person he’s looking for might not even be here, but as he’s browsing through the phone numbers, the house gives that familiar creaking noise, like it’s comforting him, almost telling him have faith, it’s going to be alright. Dean’s not entirely sure if it will be - he’s so hung up on this whole Dean-house-architect love triangle thing that he’s starting to feel like he should check himself into a mental hospital. He’d contemplated telling Becky earlier about being in love with both his house and someone he didn’t know, but she’s such a new friend, so fresh and trusting and unaware of the fact that everything Dean touches inevitably falls to pieces, that he just didn’t want to ruin it.
Or make her think he’s a head case. He’s working on not scaring all his friends away.
It’s harder than it looks.
Dean starts in on the phonecalls that Tuesday morning after the school job. There’s a nice paycheck on its way that’s going to pay his first set of bills and there’s a referral from one of Becky’s teaching friends whose brother is getting married next month and needs a wedding photographer who isn’t higher maintenance than his bride-to-be. So Dean’s feeling good about himself as he starts with the “A’s” and begins working his way down.
By the “D’s” he’s feeling more like a snail working its way up one of the mountains behind his house and he throws in the towel around five at the letter “I.” Sam calls, but he ignores it, not wanting to deal with questions and teasing and more speeches about why Dean hasn’t hauled his ass up to Stanford yet, since he’d been leveraging that against Sam for the past three weeks.
The next morning, he doesn’t shave, doesn’t bother to change out of his pajamas. It’s Wednesday and he feels like a fucking hobo, but he’s got a plate full of eggs and bacon and the rest of the list to go through. He’s half-way through dialing the number to, “Inman, Florence,” when he stops. “It’s not you,” he murmurs to himself, realizing that, in fact, he’s been thinking that about every name so far. “It’s not any of you, is it?” The house creaks. “I know, I’m not quitting,” he snaps. “I’m just…fuck it.” Dean pushes back his desk chair and goes to hall closet. He doesn’t have a lot of clutter, but there’s an ancient scrabble game he’s had since freshman year of his undergrad. Dean pulls out the bag of letters and sits back down at his desk.
“Here,” he says, looking up at the ceiling. “We’ll do it this way, alright?”
“Okay. Good start.” He reaches in hoping to get a vowel.
“Awesome.” Scanning the list, Dean finds two last names starting with N-O. “What do you think? Norman or Novak?” Dean narrows his eyes at the list, peering curiously at the first names. Richard Norman is decidedly boring and sounds too much like one of his photo-editors when he was working for the paper in Lawrence. But Castiel. Castiel Novak sounds different. He says the name outloud, letting the V buzz between his teeth and his lips, the hard K hitting the roof of his mouth pleasantly.
He picks up his phone and dials the number.
The house creaks.
“This is Castiel.” Something in the voice hits Dean like a sucker punch in the gut and he hangs up, feeling his muscles tense and his head cloud.
“That’s him,” he tells the house. He doesn’t know how or why - why he knows or why he’s still talking to the house. He just does. An hour goes by before Dean gets the courage to call again.
“If this is a prank caller-”
“It’s not,” Dean says quickly. “I…I thought…did you design a house on Desert Vista, zip code 85383?”
“That’s in Peoria,” Castiel says.
“You’re talking about 12126 Desert Vista, with the terracotta tiles out front and the blue and white tiles in the bathroom wall?” Dean swallows, nodding.
“Yeah. With the, uh…the ceiling tiles. With the etchings.” His breath hitches. “And the wood floors. Stained glass windows. Heavy door with an old knocker. Everything opens outside, it-”
“Makes it seem bigger,” Castiel finishes. “Jesus. You bought that house.”
“Yeah,” Dean croaks. “I did. I’m…I’m in love with it. I love every single thing about it.”
“Like you wouldn’t believe.”
“I couldn’t fix that. I don’t know why it did that. It was the builders, they did something. And the wood, it pops. It’s like-”
“And all the palo verde that-”
“Block the sun in the day.”
They are both silent for a while. Dean’s trying to breathe right because, here he is, the person who put a piece of their own self into his house, a piece that Dean’s fallen so hopelessly in love with in the last three weeks that he doesn’t know what to do with himself.
But he’s in love with everything about this little hideaway at the base of the mountain. He thinks about kids making meat pies and pouring him horchata when it’s a hundred degrees out. He thinks about Chuck bringing over beer in the evening and them reading scripts and talking about how much they hate Woody Allen. He thinks about the wind chime Becky gave him the day after he met her, and about the dead guy who used to own his sofa and how he might of died on it and Dean would never even fucking know.
“Are you there now?” Castiel asks, sounding just as lost in his own head as Dean is.
“Will you be there in an hour?”
“Okay. Okay, then, I…I want to see the house. I want to…to hear it. I need…” Dean nods, which Castiel can’t see, but he thinks he understands. He knows what he needs because Dean wakes up needing it every day. He wakes up seeing the words that may or may not being etched in the ceiling, wakes up to the groan of the house and the sound of Becky’s chime. “What’s your name?” Castiel asks suddenly, before he hangs up.
“It’s Dean. Uh, Winchester. Dean Winchester.”
“Of course,” Castiel murmurs, and the smile Dean hears in his voice is enough to make his stomach turn and turn until he realizes he’s still got the phone to his ear, but Castiel is gone. Dean finally hangs up and realizes he’s still in his fucking pajamas and his kitchen’s a mess and there’s no way he’s going to be able to keep himself sane with Castiel gets here. He thinks about calling Sam and spilling everything - I’m in love with my house, but not really. I’m in love with the piece of the soul of the man who built it, but really I might be in love with him, too, I just don’t know him yet, except that I do. I know something so deep inside of him and I have been living for almost a month surrounded by him on all sides, listening to him and feeling him and knowing him like I’ve never known another person before. Dean swallows and changes his clothes, then cleans his kitchen.
There’s a knock on the door.
For a second, Dean thinks about not opening it. Just…pretending he didn’t do this, that he didn’t put himself out there this far, that he didn’t pull fucking Scrabble letters out of a bag and pick Castiel’s name off the list and know it was him before anything even happened.
The knock sounds again and Dean just throws everything to the wind and pulls it open, breathless and trying to look like he has at least part of his sanity still with him.
Castiel is everything and nothing that Dean had expected in the seconds before opening that door. He’s staring at the cluster of palo verde trees, hands in the back pocket of his jeans. The wind blows up behind his open flannel shirt and pushes his tshirt up, showing off the pale skin of his hip bone that Dean wants to reach out and touch.
“It’s you,” Castiel says quietly, turning around and fixing Dean with a stare that dunks his thoughts in ice water. His eyes are blue and shocking and familiar. Dean swallows and nods. “You’re the one.”
“The one for the house.” Dean laughs like it’s been jerked out of his chest, because, yeah, that’s pretty much it. Without thinking he presses his hand to the door frame reassuringly and nods. “There was always supposed to just be one. The agent told me no one…no one ever stayed long…” He shakes his head.
“Come inside.” Dean steps out of the way and Castiel walks over the threshold of the house, taking it in and nodding. He doesn’t ask if he can see it, and Dean’s glad for that. He just starts wandering, running his hand along the walls, glancing up at the ceiling and testing the old, brass door handles. Dean brings a beer from the kitchen and hands it to him. “It’s, uh, it’s not much right now.”
“It’s clean,” Castiel says, nodding and sipping his beer. Dean rubs the back of his neck, muttering, “Wasn’t before.” Castiel laughs. “It’s fine. You’ve taken care if it.”
“Only been here a few weeks.”
“Mmm, she knows you, I think. She likes you.” It makes Dean feel a lot less insane that he isn’t the only one emotionally attached to this house. That he isn’t the only one whose breath catches in his throat when the light pushes through the colored glass.
“Listen, Castiel, I’m-”
“Cas. Call me Cas.”
“Cas. Right.” Dean clears his throat. “I’m sorry to, uh…to call you. Like this. I just…I had to meet you. I had to see you. Had to know.”
“Me, too.” Cas sits on the couch and stares at the ceiling. “When I picked those out, the woman who wanted the house hated them. She thought they were strange and she didn’t want tiles on the ceiling. But I put them in anyway because I was younger then and I thought everyone was an idiot.”
“Most people still are.” Cas laughs, nodding.
“Yeah, you’re right about that. But she was…insufferable. She hated this place when it was done. Wouldn’t live here. Took us years to get paid on this and my brother Michael was so mad about it. Couldn’t figure out where I’d gone wrong. And I told him that this house was built for someone. It just wasn’t her. The timing wasn’t right. ‘Course, he thought I was a fucking idiot, but I know, now. I was right.” He looks at Dean, running a thumb down the wet neck of his beer bottle. “You love this place.”
“It’s my best work, I think.”
“I love…” Dean opens his mouth, trying to figure out what to say I love you, isn’t fair or right. Because he doesn’t know Cas. He doesn’t know what he orders when he goes out for drinks or how his hair sits when he wakes up in the morning. Dean thinks he wants to, but he knows that he isn’t in love with the man on the couch. He’s in love with part of him buried inside this house, but that’s a start. That’s better than nothing. That’s better than the enormous well of loneliness that he’s felt since Sammy went to college and his father died, all in the same few years. And now here’s this person, this person who made something beautiful and Dean’s in love with whatever part of him made that. He’s in love with this house and he’s desperate to know Castiel a hundred different ways.
“I know,” Cas says suddenly. And that’s it. Dean pulls the beer out of his hands and tugs him forward, kissing him and licking his way into Cas’s mouth. There’s a needy feeling that manifests itself into this awful noise that catches in his throat when Cas threads his fingers through Dean’s hair and tilts his head, deepening the kiss and fumbling for purchase. Dean pulls them both off the couch, but Cas already knows his way around, leading him to the bedroom and gently pushing Dean onto the mattress.
“I keep forgetting you already know everything about this place,” Dean manages, peeling his shirt off and shooting Cas a grin.
“Not everything,” Cas murmurs, running his hands over Dean’s chest and pressing his mouth to a nipple, dragging his teeth down and sucking a bruise above Dean’s hip. Dean’s shoving his hands over Cas’s shoulders, trying to pull off his flannel shirt and tug up his tshirt. Laughing, Cas pulls them off himself and moves back up toward Dean’s mouth, bending low and kissing him deep. “But I will. I’ll know everything.”
“I want you to. I need-”
“I know,” he soothes. “I know.” And he’s going down again, mouth pressed against the erection under Dean’s pants, fingers deftly undoing the button and fly at the top of his jeans. Dean hisses and lifts his hips as his jeans go down and Cas tosses them away. It’s hardly past noon, but Dean loves seeing Cas’s shoulders bathed in filtered sunlight. The colored glass at the top of the windows plays on the wall and across his back.
Cas’s mouth wraps around Dean’s cock and moves down, the burn moving in him slow and careful. He wants to tell him to go faster, that he isn’t going to break, but Cas is learning the curves of Dean’s side and the weight of him in his mouth and the way he tastes and feels.
“You want this?” he murmurs as he pulls away. Dean groans and nods, bucking his hips up and burying a hand in Cas’s hair. Cas swallows him down again, going further and getting Dean’s dick spit-slick and swollen. Dean fucks into Cas’s mouth, letting go of his head and fisting his hands in the sheets. He feels seventeen again, but he knew he couldn’t ever actually last long, not like this - but then Cas stops, pulling up out of breath and staring at Dean like he’s never seen him before this moment. And he hasn’t, not like this, not really.
“What is it?” Dean manages. “Why’d you stop? What-” Cas crawls up and straddles Dean’s waist, kissing him slow and murmuring, so quietly, “I want you inside me. Can you be? I want to feel you, but like this. I want to be here, like this. I want to see.” Dean nods, reaching over the side of the mattress and pulling a condom and lube out of a box. “Let me,” Cas says, when Dean reaches down.
“Yeah. Okay.” Cas tears the condom package open and rolls it down Dean’s dick, then coats it in lube and Dean’s hard, he’s so hard and he’s so needy and he wants this, he wants to bury himself in Castiel and not just like this. He wants to bury himself in his life and his voice and the way his hands twitch over the mouth of a beer bottle and the way he nods and tilts his head and smiles.
Cas lowers himself onto Dean with a groan, squeezing his eyes shut and letting himself adjust before lifting himself up again. Dean feels his cock bottom out and push back in with every stroke. He pushes himself up, forearms under Cas’s thighs, helping him. Cas leans forward, supporting himself on Dean’s shoulders, panting into his skin, muttering nonsense. And Dean just keeps lifting him up, pushing Cas back onto his cock harder, until he hits his prostate and Cas shouts, nails digging into Dean’s back.
“I got you. Baby, shh, I got you, don’t hold back, I feel you, I do, I feel it.” Cas nods, babbling and throwing his head back, yelling and then gasping. “Touch yourself,” Dean murmurs, dark and needy. Cas complies, gripping Dean’s neck with one hand like a vise, the other pumping his cock furiously. Dean wants to turn him over, pound into until Cas comes like that, breaking underneath him. But at the same time he wants this. He wants to be eye level and watching as Cas meets his gaze and doesn’t look away, hand jacking himself until Dean feels his orgasm being yanked out of his skin. He yells and pushes in deep, gripping Cas around the waist and holding him down on his cock while Dean’s dick presses against Cas’s prostate and he comes between the both of them.
Dean falls back, pulling his softening dick out of Cas and rolling him over, watching him collect himself. After a while, they’re both staring at the ceiling. Dean feels Cas’s hand thread through his own. Everything a mess, but neither of them moves. Dean closes his eyes and sleeps, exhausted from the overload of things he’s felt today. He wakes up with a start. The digital clock of the floor reads 1:27 AM. Cas stirs next to him.
“We fell asleep,” he mutters, rolling over and facing Dean.
“Yeah.” Dean tugs the worn blanket at the end of the bed over them. “It’s okay. Stay here.”
“Wasn’t planning on leaving.” They’re both quiet again. Then, “I want to know more,” Cas says quietly, carding his fingers through Dean’s hair. “What can you tell me?”
“You.” Cas leans forward and presses his lips to Dean’s collar bone. “You tell me. I tell you. We do this the long way. A slow reveal.” Dean laughs. “Come on.”
“Okay, okay.” Dean kisses him. “I’ll start, then.”
There’s so much he could say, most of it trivial and unimportant now. He imagines they’ll get to those things later. Maybe after arguments or breakfast or while they’re looking for a rug or a chair or a plant. So Dean goes with the most important things.
“I’ve got a brother,” he says, thinking about Sam and awful, wonderful, perfect Jess. “And he’s more important than anything else in the entire world to me.” Cas nods, pressing in closer and pulling the blanket over his shoulders. “I’m a photographer. I think my neighbors are my only friends. And I’ve been falling in love with the guy who built this house since the minute I saw it.” He feels Castiel smile against his chest.
“Is it my turn?” Cas asks sleepily, lifting tired eyes to meet Dean’s. Dean shakes his head, ruffling Cas’s already-awful hair.
“No,” he manages, before he falls asleep again. “It can wait. We’ve got a lot of time to learn it all.”