Of course the one thing Sam wants for his birthday is the one thing Dean can't find. And really, who asks for a friggin' book for their birthday anyway? Only Sammy.
Dean pulls up in front of what feels like the hundredth book store he's been to today. It's a little hole-in-the-wall place, nestled between a cafe and an antiques store, and Dean tells himself if the book isn't here, he's giving up. Sorry, Sammy, no can do; here's a gift card to Men's Warehouse so you can pick out a new suit to wear to your fancy new lawyer job, the end.
Dean pauses on his way in to glance up at the wooden sign above the door where STACKS is written in bold, faded lettering. "Alright, Stacks," Dean mutters to himself, "I'm counting on you."
A bell jingles overhead as he enters the store, and Dean's greeted by the smell of dust and old pages. The store is quaint, with books stacked haphazardly in all directions, and threadbare carpets that speak of many days of avid readers treading their length.
It's mostly quiet, some Oldies but Goodies station playing softly throughout the store, and judging by the rundown look of everything, Dean figures the place is being held together by charm and a hefty dose of faith.
No one's behind the register. In fact it feels like Dean's the only soul in the whole store, and so, Dean sets about to look himself, eyes scanning rickety shelves that make the carpenter in him cringe.
He walks directionless among the jungle of books barely taking in any of the titles, and just as he's considering giving up, a man rounds the corner nearly bumping right into Dean. He's tall, all long lines and rigid angles, and he starts when he looks up and sees Dean standing before him.
"I'm sorry, I didn't hear you come in," the man offers. "Can I help you find something?"
"You work here?" Dean asks, despite the fact the man just made that pretty clear. He's answered with a nod. "And here I was thinking this was a self-serve bookstore," Dean says as he takes in the man's bright blue eyes and two day old stubble. His looks definitely make up for the fact Dean's been wandering around the store alone for the past ten minutes.
The man's brow pulls into a furrow, his fingers curled around a stack of books in his hands, and he stares at Dean as if Dean's just spoken to him in a different language. After a beat, Dean clears his throat.
"Anyway, uh—I'm looking for a book for my brother. You think you can help me out? You're kinda my last hope."
"What is it you're looking for?"
Dean fishes in his jacket pocket for the slip of paper he'd written the book title and author on. He hands it over to the man and watches as the guy shifts the books in his hands to rest under his arm, his hip jutting out to support them.
A look of determination steals the man's features. He sets the books down on a rickety table, its legs swaying precariously, and begins to walk away from Dean calling, "Follow me," over his shoulder.
They come to stop in front of one of the more organized shelves, and the man's slender fingers trail along the spines of the books before stopping on one and pulling it out. "We've got several copies," he offers.
The familiar cover instantly sends relief flooding through Dean before he remembers the one small detail about Sam's request that's made finding this book so damn difficult in the first place. "That doesn't happen to be a first edition copy, does it?"
"First edition copies are extremely difficult to come by," the man points out. He flips the book open, seemingly just for Dean's sake, and scans the first few pages before shaking his head. "I'm afraid not."
Dean's shoulders slump, and the employee eyes him thoughtfully for a moment. "If it's really that important to you, I might know where I can find one. It won't be inexpensive, but I can check if you'd like."
With that statement Dean feels another glimmer of hope float through him. "Yeah, sure. I'm pretty desperate at this point."
The man is off again, this time heading for the register, and Dean follows. "So d'you own this place, or what?" Dean asks. He isn't sure what's given him that impression, maybe something about the way the man carries himself, but for some reason it makes sense.
"For the most part, yes. It belonged to a man named Marv until about eight years ago when I bought it from him."
"Did it come as is, or?" Dean wonders, wincing as the comment comes out. It was a shitty thing to say, he knows that now, but all the weathering wood he's surrounded by is making Dean itch to build the guy some decent shelves; shelves that won't crumble if someone so much as sneezes.
They're at the register now, the dark haired man behind it, Dean standing on the other side, and the man tilts his head at Dean. "What do you mean?" he asks.
Dean shrugs, "I'm a carpenter," he explains, "when things look like they're falling apart, it's my job to fix them. Your store looks like it could use a little fixing."
"I do just fine, thank you," the man counters. His voice isn't exactly cold, but there is an edge to it that Dean recognizes as back off, and Dean does, realizing he's being an ass. If someone came into his shop and said anything remotely along the lines of what Dean had just said he'd have their ass out on the curb so quick their heads would spin.
"You know what," Dean starts, his hands tapping on the counter, "I'm sorry. It's not my place to say shit like that. You're saving my ass; I should keep my mouth shut."
The man quirks a small smile at Dean. "It's alright," he says, "but thank you."
Dean nods, and a silence settles around them as the man plinks away at the keyboard, the corners of his mouth pulled into a frown. Dean practically holds his breath as he waits, his attention deterred only momentarily when a fat, orange tabby cat leaps up on the counter and settles itself on a pile of books. Her yellow eyes flicker in Dean's direction, eyeing him incredulously.
"They have one copy," the employee finally says, "I can have it here in about four days."
"They have it?" Dean's eyebrows shoot to his hair line, almost expecting the other shoe to drop and land right on his head. The man nods. "Is it gonna cost me a fortune?" Dean asks.
"First editions are more expensive, but I'm willing to offer it to you at my cost."
Dean stares, wide eyed. "You'd do that?" The man nods. "I- wow. That's- That's really awesome of you, thanks, man." Dean says, accepting the form the man hands him from across the counter and quickly jotting down his information.
The employee offers him a warm smile. "It's my pleasure...," his eyes glance at Dean's information, "Dean. I'll call you when it arrives."
"Thank you. Seriously, I was afraid I wasn't gonna find it."
"It was no trouble, Dean."
The man's eyes are heavy on his face, and Dean flashes him a grateful smile. "I'll see you in a few days then."
When Dean leaves the store, it's with relief and the weight of blue eyes trailing him as he goes.
Four days later Dean gets a phone call as promised. At first he doesn't hear his phone over the shrill sound of the table saw he's using, but once the noise dies down, he's quick to find his phone and put it to his ear.
"Dean? This is Castiel."
Dean holds up a piece of wood, checking for imperfections in the grain. "Who?" he asks.
"Castiel, from the bookstore? I have your brother's book."
"Oh, right. Can I swing by in a few hours? I can't really get away right now."
"Yes, anytime before six will be fine."
"Great, thanks man. I'll see you then."
When Dean gets off of work, he contemplates going home first and having a quick shower. He's sweaty, covered in saw dust, and he can't seem to scrub the smell of lacquer off his skin with the shitty low grade soap they keep in the shop bathroom. But it's almost six, and so Dean heads straight for the bookshop. Sam's birthday is tomorrow; Dean needs that book.
Castiel is behind the register when Dean arrives. He's dressed in a white button down and a waist coat that lies unbuttoned. His sleeves are rolled to his forearms, and Dean catches sight of a few braided bracelets on one wrist, and a black swirling tattoo on the other. It's as if the man has gotten even more attractive since the last time Dean saw him, if that's even possible, and now Dean really wishes he would have had time for that shower.
Castiel quirks a smile at Dean when he approaches the register. "Hello, Dean."
Dean's stomach does a little flip flop. "Hey, Cas. Can I call you 'Cas'? Is that cool? Or not, y'know, whatever." Dean snaps his mouth shut and stares at the other man. He never gets this way around women; no, with them he's all smooth talking and easy charm, but put an attractive man in front of him and he's a nervous wreck.
"Cas is fine," Castiel intones. He's looking at Dean with something like amusement in his eyes, and Dean can't tell if that's good or bad.
"So uh- the book," Dean finally says after he and Castiel have stared at each other for a good couple of minutes.
Castiel nods. "Yes, the book." He bends (and Dean's eyes definitely don't linger on the guy's ass) and straightens with a box in his hands, sliding it onto the counter and sifting through the titles. When he pulls out Sam's book and shows Dean the FIRST EDITION mark on the inside, Dean smiles wide.
"You're a life saver, Cas."
"As I mentioned before, it was no trouble, really."
Dean shakes his head, cradling the book in his hands. "You don't understand. I spent days looking for this thing. Days.I checked online and everything. Really, you're a lifesaver."
The smile Castiel offers him is small, pleasant, like the guy doesn't smile often, but when he does, he means it. "Well, I'm glad I could help. I hope your brother enjoys it."
"He will. Sam's really into this shit. He's been talking about this book for weeks now."
Castiel's eyes are fixed on the computer screen as he rings the book up. "Do you like to read as well?" he asks.
Dean shrugs, handing over a wad of bills. "Here and there. I have a hard time finding stuff I really like though. Mostly just stick to the same few books."
"What books are those?"
Dean tries to recall to memory the last book he read. It's been at least a month; work has been busier than usual. "Uh- Slaughterhouse-Five? I think?"
Castiel's eyes light up. "That one was very enjoyable. Though I think Player Piano is my favorite."
Dean's eyes widen. "You read Vonnegut?"
Castiel smiles. "I read a lot of things, Dean."
Dean dims his excitement ever so slightly and nods, reminding himself, Easy, Dean. Easy. "Right. Bookstore owner and all that. So Player Piano, huh? That's one I haven't read."
"You're missing out on a truly great piece of literature, Dean, you should read it."
"I don't know that one seemed a little..."
"A little what?"
Dean rocks back on his heels before responding. "Out there."
Castiel's eyes flash, and he digs around in a stack of books behind the register before presenting a tattered copy of Player Piano across the counter. "I insist that you read it."
Dean stares down at the cover. The book looks like a wilted flower, its pages curling at the corners, the spine cracked. "Is this your way of getting me to buy more books? 'Cause I gotta say, Cas, it's a smart business tactic."
Castiel chuckles and shakes his head. "I don't want you to buy it, Dean. I want you to take it and read it, and then, bring it back and tell me what you thought." There's a pause before Castiel adds, "Over tea. In my apartment."
Dean's head whips up, and he finds Castiel grinning coyly at him. When Dean doesn't speak, his mouth working like a fish on a hook, Castiel's face falls. "Am I being too forward?" he asks quietly.
"No! Not at all, no. I just didn't expect you to... But, yeah I'll uh- yeah. I'll take the book and- Come back for tea- and you- and I'll just- Yeah." Dean practically chokes the words out, his head spinning because the hot bookstore owner just asked him on a date. For tea, but still, it's a date, right? ...Right?
Castiel's smile is back. "Wonderful. Just let me know when you've finished, so I'll know when to expect you."
Dean nods, backing away from the register slowly, narrowly missing a shoddy display of Harry Potter books. "Kay," he says and offers Castiel a weird little wave as he leaves the store.
By the time Dean arrives home, he's worked himself into a pathetic, floundering frenzy. What if it's not a date? What if Castiel's just being friendly? Platonically inviting Dean over for some man version of a book club? (If that's even a thing...)
Desperately needing to clear his thoughts, Dean pulls the Impala into the dusty side yard of the little house he became the proud owner of 6 months prior and pops the hood.
"Alright, Baby," he mutters as he surveys the cars innards, "talk to me."
Less than an hour later, Sam's inappropriately quiet smart car rolls into the driveway, and Dean's stomach drops to his feet. He'd promised Sam dinner tonight.
As Sam's gangly form approaches, Dean wipes his hands on his grease rag, wincing a smile when Sam comes to stand before him.
"I assume this means it's a pizza night," Sam says in greeting.
"Sorry, Sammy. I forgot."
Sam shrugs, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "Something on your mind, Dean?"
Dean gives his brother his best I'm offended look. "What? No!" When Sam cocks an eyebrow at him, Dean deflates, "Okay, maybe."
"You wanna talk about?" Sam folds himself onto the creaky stairs that lead to the back porch, that expression that says you-don't-have-to-talk-to-me-but-I'm-going-to-pry-until-you-do carefully in place on his features.
The world spins for a second because this is nearing feelings territory, which Dean does not do, but then Dean heaves a sigh and tosses his grease rag into a nearby bucket. "I met a guy," he mumbles, scratching at the back of his neck.
Sam's face brightens visibly, about two breaths away from screeching like a fourteen year old at a slumber party that just found out her best friend held hands with the popular kid in school, and Dean immediately regrets saying anything.
"Forget it," he says, waving a hand in Sam's direction and closing the hood to the Impala.
"No, Dean, c'mon!"
Dean puts his hands on his hips matter-of-factly and eyes Sam incredulously.
Sam throws his hands up in a receding gesture. "I'm cool, I promise. Just here to listen."
Dean leans a hip against his car, his mouth twisted in thought. He's already said too much; Sam knows there's a someone now, might as well get the rest out, too. "Fine," he finally concedes, "but inside. I'm starving."
Sam follows Dean inside and takes on the task of ordering pizza while Dean takes a quick shower. It isn't until they're kicked back in front of the Jayhawks game that Sam prods again.
"So you met a guy..."
"Don't say it like that," Dean grumbles around a mouthful of pizza.
"I used the exact same words you did."
"Still makes it sound like I'm the lead in a Meg Ryan flick or something."
Sam clears his throat and shakes his head. "Anyway," he prompts.
"Anyway, I'm going to his house next week for-" Dean swallows the word 'tea,' burying it beneath another bite of pizza. No way is he giving Sammy that tid bit of information. "… stuff."
"That sounds promising," Sam offers. "What's the problem?"
Dean picks at an errant thread on the jeans he pulled on after his shower. "The problem is, I don't know if it's a date or not."
"Ohhhhhh." Sam drags the word out, saturating it in sympathy.
The room falls quiet, the Jayhawks scoring a goal in the background, before Sam breaks the silence. "Did he say it was a date?"
"You think I'd be having this problem if he did?"
"I guess not."
More silence and then, "Does he have a Facebook account?"
"How the hell should I know?"
Sam pulls Dean's laptop from where it rests on the coffee table and flips it open. "What's his name?" he asks as he pulls Facebook up in the web browser.
"Last name?" Sam inquires, casting a glance in Dean's direction.
"You don't know his last name?"
"It didn't come up!" Dean offers in his defense. He watches as Sam types Castiel's name into the search bar, clicking on the one profile that pops up. "What are you doing, Sam?"
"Checking his relationship status. This him?"
Dean eyes the picture and nods. It's a good picture, a candid of Castiel working the counter of Stacks, a wide smile stretched across his face, and Dean smiles himself. The guy looks happy to be doing what he's doing.
"He owns Stacks?" Sam asks, looking at Dean.
"Yeah, that's where I met him."
"What were you doing in a bookst- never mind."
It takes a split second for Dean to realize what Sam's just figured out and then he's slugging Sam in the shoulder. "Dammit, Sammy, mind your own fucking business, ya hear?"
Sam suppresses a laugh, "I know nothing," he says, biting his lip.
"I'm returning it," Dean mutters as Sam scrolls through Castiel's page.
After a moment, Sam stops and points to something on the screen. "It says he's ‘Single’."
"So it's probably a date," Sam explains.
"Or maybe he just doesn't care about letting everyone and their dog know about his relationship status via Facebook."
"Or it's a date," Sam counters.
"Or shut your face."
Sam closes the laptop and reaches for another piece of pizza. "So about this book. Can I have it now, or do I have to wait until tomorrow?"
Dean buries his face in his hands and groans.
Dean finishes Player Piano that week, reading during every spare minute he can get. When he shows up at the bookstore just before close several days later, the CLOSED sign is already hanging on the door, and he can see Castiel busying about inside, straightening things and cashing out his till. He takes a minute to watch the other man, a mantra of Is it or isn't it? running through his brain, before rapping his knuckles on the door, Castiel's book clutched tightly in his grip.
Castiel looks up and moves across the store, unlocking the door and permitting Dean inside. "Hello, Dean."
"Hey, Cas," Dean says, looking around the dimmed store. "I coulda met you at your apartment, you know."
Castiel quirks a smile. "I live upstairs," he offers.
"I'm almost done," Castiel informs Dean, moving back behind the register and finishing his tasks. "What did you think of the book?" He seems so at ease, like he and Dean have done this a thousand times, that Dean thinks maybe this isn't a date.
Dean drapes himself over the counter, folding his arms over the top of it, mirroring Castiel's relaxed persona. "It wasn't as out there as I expected," he says.
Castiel nods, his eyes focused on the dollar bills in his hands.
"I still like Slaughterhouse better, but this one wasn't too bad."
Castiel smirks. "I see."
When he's finished closing the store, he leads Dean to the back and through a door that opens up to a staircase. It's dark, no windows, and when they reach the top, the only way to go is through a door on the right.
"Did Marv live up here, too?" Dean wonders as Castiel fiddles with the lock.
"Not that I'm aware of. It looked fairly unused when I moved in."
When the door does spring open, Dean follows Castiel inside and is struck by how much the apartment matches the store. There are books everywhere, stacked along the walls, piled next to furniture, tucked in corners...
"You keep what won't fit down there up here, or what?" Dean asks as they wind along Castiel's apartment.
"No, these are mine."
"All these are yours?"
"Yes. Please sit." Castiel gestures to the couch where there are, surprisingly, no books, and Dean obeys. Aside from the disarray of literature, the apartment is relatively clean, the distinct smell of cinnamon hanging in the air.
Castiel disappears around a corner, popping his head back in the room after a beat. "What kind of tea would you like?" he asks.
Dean rubs at the back of his neck. "I don't know. I've never uh- Never had tea before." Sam's tried to get him to drink it, but each time Dean's blatantly refused, stating his plain, black coffee was more than fine.
"I'll make orange," Castiel decides.
He disappears again and Dean can hear the sounds of the other man brewing tea in what Dean assumes is the kitchen. When he reappears, he settles into the armchair just across from Dean.
"You got something against bookcases?"
Castiel looks around the apartment. "I never anticipated acquiring so many books," he confesses. "I didn't think I'd ever have a need for shelves."
"Stuff like that sure does have a way of sneaking up on you," Dean agrees. Castiel smiles at him warmly and nods.
After that the tea timer is going off, and Castiel excuses himself again. As Dean waits, the orange tabby from the week before saunters into the room. She leaps onto the chair Castiel was just occupying and settles herself there, eyes glaring warningly at Dean as if to say, He's my human. Back off.
Castiel returns with two mugs in hand. As he hands one to Dean, Dean motions towards the cat. "I don't think you're cat likes me very much."
Castiel shoos her off the furniture and sits down. "Bumblebee doesn't like anyone very much," he says.
"She seems to like you alright."
The corners of Castiel's mouth tug up. "Yes, well. I do feed her. I think her love may be obligatory."
"Nah," Dean counters, "you're just a likeable guy."
A hint of a smile settles on Castiel's lips. "Thank you, Dean." He lifts his mug to his mouth, taking a swallow, and Dean realizes he should do the same. Castiel invited him up for tea, Dean probably needs to drink the tea.
The liquid is warm, spicy, with a sweet flavor Dean wasn't expecting, and he holds it in his mouth for a beat, letting all the different flavors roll over his taste buds before swallowing.
"What do you think?" Castiel wonders. He's eyeing Dean like his opinion is of the utmost importance.
"It's really good," Dean admits. "It's sweet. I thought it'd taste more like... dirt."
Castiel looks satisfied. "I used a vanilla-infused honey."
"Ah," Dean says with a nod. Up until now he had no idea there was even such a thing as vanilla-infused honey. "Excellent choice," he offers.
Castiel chuckles. "Let's start from the beginning shall we?"
The rest of the evening is surprisingly relaxed. Dean forgets all about whether or not he and Castiel are on a date and ends up opening up a whole lot more than he anticipated, getting more passionate about a book than he's probably ever been.
Castiel listens with a focused precision Dean's only ever thought marksmen possessed, his blue eyes sharp, drinking everything in like Dean's word is his gospel. It's almost exhilarating sharing his opinion with someone who genuinely seems to want to hear it, and their conversation floats from Player Piano to Slaughterhouse-Five and well on into their personal lives: what it's like owning a business (which they have in common), tidbits about their families, and even a little bit about the farmer's market Castiel frequents on the weekends.
Dean doesn't leave until nearing midnight, and when he does, there's a long pause at the door, his fingers itching to reach out and grab Castiel by the waistcoat and kiss him until they can't remember their own names. Instead he mumbles some lame good bye and shows himself to his car, letting his head fall to the steering wheel once he's tucked safely inside.
Date or not, Dean's pretty sure that drawn out silence-and-staring number at the door was his opportunity, and he basically just dropped it in the toilet and flushed it right on down to the sewer of missed opportunities.
He hears from Castiel again the following Friday.
The phone call comes during his lunch break, and when he sees Stacks' phone number flash across his screen, he blinks, wondering for a second if it's a mistake.
"Hello?" The word comes out almost reluctantly.
"Dean, it's Castiel."
"Yeah, hey, Cas."
There's a beat and then, "Hello, Dean."
Dean smiles. "Hey."A brief silence fills the line before Dean clears his throat. "So..."
"Oh, yes. I called because I'm going to the farmer's market tomorrow, and I was wondering if you'd like to accompany me."
Dean's mind flicks through the several hundred times Sam's tried to get him to go to the farmer's market with him. Every time, Dean's scoffed self-righteously and asked Sam what business a guy like Dean would have showing up at a place like a farmer's market. "Uh, sure. Yeah. Farmer's market. Sounds... cool."
As Castiel gives Dean a time and place to meet, Dean wonders if maybe he's in way over his head.
Agreeing to attend the farmer's market with Castiel has Dean up in arms even more than the tea-and-book-club thing.
The farmer's market isn't a place even Sam would take someone on a date, and so the morning he's supposed to meet Castiel on Lazarus Street, Dean stands staring at his closet for a good several minutes, wondering if he should wear a nicer shirt, something that will probably require ironing, or if something more relaxed will suffice.
He decides on a short sleeved Henley and one of two pairs of jeans without holes in them, and as he walks out his front door, he asks himself when the hell he turned into that guy.
Lazarus Street is a mess. Dean has to park about a block and half away, but when he sees Castiel waiting for him in the spot they agreed, a grey t-shirt and deep blue cardigan hugging his frame, the brisk walk Dean was forced to take just moments before becomes of minimal importance.
"So uh, how do we do this thing?" Dean wonders after they've greeted one another.
Castiel smiles at him with his head tilted to the side. His teeth aren't showing, but it's just as satisfying of a smile as if they were. "That's right, you've never been."
Dean rubs his hand over the back of his neck. "Yeah, this is kinda Sammy's thing."
"Sam. Your brother, right? The one you got the book for."
Castiel guides Dean in a small turn, his hand warm against the small of Dean's back, and they head towards a long stretch of vendors scattered along either side of an open street.
There are bursts of color everywhere, bright, seasonal foods mixing with the colors of autumn hanging in the trees and dusting the ground, and Dean thinks maybe the place isn't going to be so bad after all.
"I have a list of things I need, but if you see somewhere you'd like to stop, by all means let me know."
Dean nods, and they make their way affably down the street, shoulders brushing, and hands skirting around one another's awkwardly.
Their first stop is for honey where Castiel insists Dean picks the flavors. After a taste test that may or may not include Castiel spoon-feeding Dean little samples of honey, Dean decides on a lemon infused one and the same vanilla flavor Castiel put in their tea several nights before.
After that they head for apples. Midway there Castiel stops them in the middle of the street and blinks against the sun as he looks at Dean. "Dean, may I hold your hand?" he asks. His eyes are bright, like endless pools sparkling inquisitively in the early afternoon light.
Dean's stomach clenches, and he almost lets out a laugh because apparently Castiel is the type of guy who invites dudes up for tea and considers places like farmer's markets prime spots for hand holding; but, then that laugh is gone, and Dean is smiling and lacing his fingers with Castiel's because apparently Dean's the type of guy that's totally on board with all of that.
As they walk hand in hand, a lot of Dean's apprehensions melt away, and he loses himself in watching as Castiel thrives in his element. It's fascinating watching the other man barter with vendors and dig through barrels of produce to find the perfect squash, and though he's completely content just to watch, Castiel draws Dean into the experience as well.
When they finish a couple of hours later, they're both laden down with bags. They fill Dean's trunk with it all - Dean insisting on taking Castiel home rather than having him ride the bus - and stop for burgers on the way back to Stacks.
As Dean helps Castiel carry in his groceries, he catches sight of an Ikea magazine lying open on Castiel's kitchen table.
"On the market for new furniture?" Dean asks, pulling the magazine across the surface and eyeing its shiny pages. He takes personal offense to mass produced woodwork sold by the likes of Ikea.
"Bookshelves, actually," Castiel corrects as he empties his bags. "After you mentioned me not having any, I figured it was time to invest in some."
"Sure, but from Ikea?"
"I'm just looking, Dean."
Dean turns his attention from the magazine and focuses it on Castiel, wandering into the kitchen and leaning a hip against the counter. "You know, I happen to know a guy who might have some time to make you a few. If you're interested."
Castiel quirks a soft smile at Dean. "Perhaps I'll look him up," he says.
Dean's knees feel a little gooey as he smiles back. First the hand holding, now the flirting, and fuck if he can remember the last time someone made him feel this way.
"Did you have a good time today?" Castiel wonders as he empties another bag.
"Best trip to the farmer's market I've ever had," Dean replies.
Castiel huffs a laugh at him and shakes his head muttering, "Incorrigible," under his breath.
Dean sticks around until Castiel's unloaded all of his groceries, and then, Castiel walks Dean to the store door and unlocks it for him.
"I'd like to see you again," Castiel says when Dean is standing outside, fiddling with his keys.
Dean smiles, nodding. "Yeah. Me, too."
After another long pause Dean leaves, without kissing Castiel, and spends the drive home wondering what the hell is wrong with him.
When Dean gets home, Sam's car is in the driveway, and Dean lets out a groan. Sammy's going to want to know every intimate detail of his day with Cas, he just knows it.
"How was it?" Sam asks the second Dean steps through the door. Dean huffs a sigh, dropping his keys on the table in the entryway, and goes straight for the fridge, pulling out a beer and cracking it open.
"Great," he grunts. As he takes a swig, he can feel Sam's eyes on him from across the room where Sam sits on the couch.
"And?" Sam asks when Dean doesn't say anything else.
"And what, Sam? We went to the farmer's market, got burgers, and I took him home. End of story." Dean conveniently leaves out the bit where he and Castiel held hands because for one thing, Sam doesn't need to know everything, and for another thing, Sam doesn't need to know everything.
"You went to a farmer's market?"
Dean heaves a shoulder in the air and lets it fall, leaning his weight against the wall. "He needed some stuff."
Sam shakes his head in disbelief. "I've been trying to get you to go for years, Dean, years, and this guy asks you, what once? And you go with him?"
"So," Dean grumbles.
"So, you have got it bad."
Dean scoffs at his brother and disappears back into the kitchen.
Sammy, the asshole who can't leave well enough alone, follows Dean in, clicking away on his phone with a devious half-smile on his face.
"Huh," Sam says after a moment, his brow furrowed as he stares at his phone.
Dean's pretty sure he wants nothing to do with whatever it is Sam's involved in, but he asks anyway. "What?"
"His relationship status still says ‘Single’." Sam flashes his phone at Dean, but Dean just shakes his head and turns his back to his brother, pulling open a cupboard in search of something he can make a quick dinner out of.
"Why would it say something otherwise, Sam? We've seen each other twice. It's not like we're confessing our devotion over candlelight and planning our wedding. How do you even know he uses the damn account anyway?"
"How do you know he doesn't?"
Dean wonders if punching his brother square in the mouth would get him to shut up. "What are you even doing here, Sammy? You think you live here too now or what?"
"You owe me dinner," Sam reminds him, "for flaking last time."
"I didn't flake, I ordered pizza."
"Because you forgot," Sam counters.
Dean huffs. "Details."
Dean thinks about Castiel and his lack of shelves for three days straight. He knows he should probably let the guy figure things out on his own, buy some from Ikea if that's what he wants to do, but instead Dean finds himself wondering, How soon is too soon to make a guy shelves? and wandering out to the scrap yard to see if he has anything salvageable.
It takes him two days to finish them up, working on them only on his down time so as not to take time away from paying clients, and when he finishes them, Dean can't keep the grin off his face.
They're simple bookshelves, a couple of tall ones and some shorter ones made from varying woods he had lying around, but with their repurposed feel, they look like something Castiel would like.
After work Dean loads the bookshelves into the bed of his shop's truck and drives over to Stacks. When he arrives he watches Castiel from the truck for a moment. He's counting down the till again, his lips moving along to some unheard song, and Bumblebee is curled up on the same stack of books Dean first saw her on.
Dean feels like a creep, watching Castiel, but there's endearment blooming in his chest that's pushing out the guilt.
Climbing out of the truck Dean calls Castiel and stands by the door. When Castiel answers, his voice is rough, like he hasn't spoken to anyone in hours.
"Hello, Dean," he says. There's a hint of a smile in the man's voice, and it makes Dean smile, too.
"Hey, Cas. You wanna help me with something?"
"What is it you need help with?" Castiel asks. He's cradling his phone between his cheek and shoulder as he sorts through a stack of books.
"For starters you could let me in." Dean says. Castiel looks up, and Dean offers him a wide grin and a wave.
Castiel stares for a moment and then he's walking to the door and unlocking it. "What are you doing here?" he asks, the phone still pressed to his ear.
"I've got something for you," Dean replies as they stand staring at one another. After a beat he pulls his phone away from his ear. "I'm gonna hang up now."
Castiel nods, his brows pulled into a furrow.
"So I had some time on my hands," Dean says, gesturing towards the truck, "made you a few shelves. You wanna help me bring 'em in?"
"You made me bookshelves?" Castiel asks.
Dean's smile is lopsided, his cheeks a little pink as he shrugs. "It's not that bigga deal."
"Dean, that's-" Castiel's eyes flick back and forth between Dean and the bed of the truck. "Thank you," he finishes.
Dean nods, smiling. "Sure, Cas."
They unload the bookshelves from the back of the truck and haul them up to Castiel's apartment where Dean helps Castiel mount them to the walls and fill them with books.
While Castiel's books may look like they're stacked with no rhyme or reason, the guy has extremely detailed instructions on where everything goes.
"What about these?" Dean asks, picking up another stack from the floor and looking over the titles. He and Cas are almost done, more books on shelves than on the floor now, and Castiel's apartment is starting to look bigger and less cluttered.
Castiel glances at the books. "Here," he answers, tapping the shelf next to him.
Dean makes his way across the room and slides the books onto the shelf. He feels Castiel's eyes trained on him, watching intently as Dean arranges the books in alphabetical order according to author just like Cas had shown him to do, and when he's finished he glances at the other man.
"Did I do it right?" he asks.
Castiel nods, a warm smile on his face. "Perfect," he says.
Their eyes lock together, and Dean forgets to blink, his mind careening desperately into Castiel's wide, blue eyes.
After a beat Castiel gently leans over, squashing their shoulders together, and presses his lips against Dean's. The kiss is soft, brief, but it's enough to leave Dean's head spinning and his face splitting into a wide grin.
Castiel pulls away, looking down at his feet, his lips stretched into a smile of his own, and neither of them says anything for a moment.
"Would you like some tea?" Castiel finally asks, meeting Dean's gaze once more. The smile is still on his face, and Dean thinks his heart might pound right out of his chest.
"Sure," Dean says.
Castiel nods once. "Alright." He turns to walk away, heading for the kitchen, but Dean grabs his wrist, stopping the man. Castiel turns back, one brow raised.
"I just uh-" Dean stops, his words failing him. Instead of talking he draws Castiel in, both hands going to cup the other man's face, and closes his mouth over Castiel's.
Castiel lets out a small gasp and melts into the kiss, his hands reaching up to grasp Dean's t-shirt at the waist.
There's no space between their bodies, no room for doubt or fear that this doesn't mean the same thing to both of them, and Dean falls into the moment, surrenders himself willingly.
When they pull apart, there's only enough space for them to breathe. "I think I'll make chai," Castiel mutters against Dean's lips, his eyes trained on Dean's nose (or what he can see of it from that close anyway).
Dean smiles. "Okay."
Despite his promise to make tea, Castiel doesn't move, still clinging to Dean like he'll disappear if Castiel lets go, and Dean takes the opportunity to press his lips against the other man's forehead and run his thumbs along Castiel's cheekbones, grateful for the second he has to marvel in the presence of someone who's come into his life and taken him completely by surprise.
Finally, Castiel is slipping from Dean's grasp and disappearing into the kitchen with a small grin on his face, like he's just been swept off his feet.
Dean watches him go with so much want in his chest that he fears it may crack him open.
"Did you see?" Sam asks hours later when Dean's settled into his couch with a marathon of Dr. Sexy re-runs just starting on KBC.
"See what?" Dean questions.
"Cas' status changed on Facebook."
First Dean wants to ask why the hell his little brother insists on treating that fucking website like it means anything, but instead he's overtaken by curiosity. If Castiel's relationship status no longer says he's ‘Single’, that's of Dean's personal interest.
"What's it say?" he asks, almost afraid to know the answer. After his and Castiel's kiss(es) earlier that day things had carried on like normal. They had tea, finished putting Cas' books on the shelf, and Dean left, simple as that.
"It says ‘It's Complicated.’"
Okay, so maybe things weren't as simple as Dean had originally thought.
"What the hell does that even mean?" Dean grumbles.
"I don't know," Sam admits. "It means, he's not in a relationship, but he's not seeing anyone other than you?"
Dean wouldn't know; they haven't talked about it, but if Castiel's in the same position Dean is, that sounds about right. "Sounds about right to me, Sammy," Dean offers, attempting to get Sam off his case and make it sound like it's not a big deal. If Dean feels the same way then why would ‘It's Complicated’ be a big deal? It's not a big deal. It's not.
"So something happened between you two?" Sam asks.
Dean pulls the phone away, scowling at it, and ends the call without even saying good bye. Sam's too nosey for his own good.
That night, as Dean lies in bed, he wonders what the relationship status for I-have-no-idea-what-the-hell-is-going-on-but-I'd-kinda-like-us-to-only-see-each-other-anymore is. He doesn't figure it out before falling asleep.
Friday Castiel shows up - unannounced - at Dean's door. The waistcoat is back (damn that waistcoat), and the man has a six pack of Samuel Adams under his arm and a sheepish expression on his face.
"How do you feel about Harvest Pumpkin ale?" he questions.
"Never had it," Dean admits.
Castiel blinks his impossibly blue eyes at Dean, and Dean smiles. "You wanna come in?" he asks.
Castiel nods, a small smile alighting his face. "Yes."
Dean opens the door wide enough to permit the other man inside, wondering if this is the part where they kiss hello or if that's more ‘In a Relationship’ material.
"I got your address off the form you filled out when you requested Sam's book." Castiel explains in a rush, "Is it alright that I'm here?" He follows Dean -who's decided a kiss might be too presuming - to the living room.
"Yeah, Cas. Why wouldn't it be?"
"I don't know. I didn't call beforehand and-" he stops, sighing, "I realize now this may be a breech of confidentiality." Dean turns and looks at Castiel. His face is twisted in hesitation, like he's second guessing himself.
This, Dean supposes, is what ‘It's Complicated’ actually means. Not knowing if it's okay to spontaneously show up at each other's houses or greet one another with a kiss, that strange place between Friends and Something More where one misstep could throw the whole thing off.
"You're not breeching a damn thing," Dean assures him. "I know where you live, why would it be a problem if you know where I live?"
When Castiel's only response is to stare at Dean unblinkingly, Dean chuckles. "Seriously Cas. Relax."
Castiel bites his lip. "So I'm not interrupting anything?"
"Nope. I was just watching T.V."
"Care if I join?" Castiel asks, a small, hopeful smile settling in place on his features.
Dean shifts on his feet. He was actually droning in front of the Dr. Sexy re-runs still playing on KBC, but somehow that doesn't seem like something you'd admit to someone you're technically still trying to impress.
"I think there's a Die Hard marathon on TNT," Dean offers.
Castiel shrugs. "Alright."
"I usually watch them on Christmas, but you know, tonight works, too."
As they sit Dean grapples for the television remote, but he's not quick enough to change the channel before the commercial ends and Castiel gets an eyeful of Dr. Piccolo and Dr. Sexy caught in the throes of a hard core make out session in an elevator.
"She's too good for him," Castiel comments, reaching for a beer.
Dean nearly swallows his tongue as he stares at Castiel, eyes wide and mind reeling. "You watch Dr. Sexy?"
"Here and there; my sister got me into it."
"So if I told you I was really watching Dr. Sexy and not Die Hard like I may have led you to believe?"
"I'd ask what episode you were on and maybe suggest popcorn. Really, Dean, what's wrong with Dr. Sexy other than the fact that his boots are extremely overrated and his hair is too long?"
"The boots are part of what make Dr. Sexy sexy," Dean protests with no real fight behind his words. He feels like he could kiss Castiel for even having an opinion about the show in the first place.
Castiel shakes his head. "If you're into that sort of thing," he mutters.
"I might be," Dean retorts.
Castiel sips at his beer quietly, peering over the lip of the bottle at Dean, his expression saying everything his silence isn't. Oh really?
"You questioning my tastes?" Dean asks. Castiel merely shrugs. "Because I might be into waistcoats, too." Dean's grin is cheeky as the flirtation comes out, and Castiel's cheeks heat, just like Dean hoped they would. He winks at Castiel as he stands and leaves the room, heading for the kitchen to pop a couple of bags of popcorn.
When he returns, Castiel's slid off his shoes and made himself comfortable on the couch, settling himself deeply into the plush cushions.
"What'd I miss?" Dean asks, setting the bowl of popcorn down on the coffee table.
"Dr. Piccolo slapped him."
Dean looks to the screen where the doctors are making out again. "Didn't take, huh?"
Castiel shakes his head. "She's weak."
"I thought you said she's too good for him."
Castiel pops a few pieces of popcorn in his mouth and washes them down with a swig of beer. "She is. But she's also weak."
They make their way through the beer and popcorn, and within a few hours Dean's eyes begin to droop, his belly full and warm, and Castiel's deep, rumbling voice soothing against the buzz in Dean's head.
"I'd offer to take you home, but I don't think I'm fit to drive," Dean says, flicking the television off and putting their empties in the empty popcorn bowl.
"I don't mind taking a cab," Castiel replies.
"Or you could just stay here." The words tumble out of Dean's mouth unbidden, and he blinks at Castiel, waiting to be shot down. Dean's not drunk, but three beers on nothing but a stomach full of popcorn could definitely be to blame for the suggestion if needed.
Castiel leans in, brushing his lips over Dean's. "Okay," he agrees.
Dean suddenly feels very alert, every detail of What Could Happen running through his brain. Is it too early for sex? Too presumptuous of him to even be wondering about it? Does Castiel even want to have sex with him?
Dean stands, pulling Castiel to his feet and leading him down the hall, vaguely grateful he had the mind to change his sheets this morning. They stop once to kiss, Castiel's hips pushing Dean's against the wall, dragging from Dean a small gasp, and once in the cover of darkness in Dean's bedroom, their hands roam.
It's a short walk to the bed as they tug at each other's clothing, shirts falling to the ground, Castiel's overcoat getting tangled on a bed post, and they stop only when they're each in nothing but an undershirt and boxer briefs, both of them very aware of the unspoken boundaries lying in limbo before them.
When Dean's legs hit the mattress, he lets himself fall onto it, tugging Castiel down with him.
Castiel takes the opportunity to straddle Dean's hips, his lips finding Dean's quickly.
Dean's hands slip underneath Castiel's shirt, his skin heated, soft under Dean's touch. He runs his hands along Castiel ribs as the other man kisses Dean until his head is nearly spinning from lack of oxygen.
Everything feels so good; from the way Castiel touches Dean, like he's the single most important thing in the universe, to that thing he's doing with his tongue inside Dean's mouth (and occasionally against Dean's neck), but Dean can't shake the feeling that things are about to get a hell of a lot more complicated if they keep going.
First or second date sex isn't exactly foreign to Dean, and he's wondered for awhile if that's why his relationships don't stick. Why buy the cow, right? But Castiel is different. Dean wants to make this work; he wants the cow and the milk. And while this is something like their third, or fourth date (if any of what they've done together can be considered dates), the timing still feels off, like they're about to take a tailspin onto ‘It's Complicated’ Island and strand themselves there forever.
Dean's not sure what makes Castiel stop, but he does, and abruptly too. "I don't think this is wise," he admits, practically panting around the words.
Dean groans, his head falling back into his pillows and his eyes falling closed as he swallows down his budding arousal.
"I'm sorry," Castiel mutters, his voice husky, thick with heat.
"No, it's okay," Dean assures him, breathing equally as hard, "It's okay. As much as I hate to agree with you, I do. You're right."
"I can go," Castiel offers quietly. He's still leaning over Dean, but the heat between them is dissipating slowly, but surely.
"No, it's okay," Dean starts before realizing maybe Castiel wants to go, "I mean, that's cool if you want to. I get it. But, you don't have to; I'm definitely not kicking you out."
"Can you keep your hands to yourself?" Castiel asks.
Dean's quiet for a moment, still a little out of breath. "Probably not," he admits, "but I'll keep it PG, I swear on my car. Just kissing; and maybe-" he trails off, unable to say the word. He's not afraid to admit he likes to cuddle, but saying the word is a different story. It's hypocritical and he knows it, but Dean's an old dog that never claimed to be able to learn new tricks.
"Cuddling?" Castiel asks, and Dean can hear the smirk in his voice.
Castiel falls silent, probably trying to gauge his own will-power, before leaning down and grazing Dean's lips gently with his own. "No kissing," he decides.
"But you just-"
"That was the last one. And I need to hear you say the word 'cuddle' before I agree to anything else."
Dean huffs. "No way."
"Dean, you really are being ridiculous. It's a simple word. You aren't going to sound any less manly if you say it."
"It just feels weird," Dean hedges, his voice coming out in a whine.
Castiel remains still, quiet, as he waits.
Dean smirks because two can play that game. Dean can wait all night if he has to, he really can.
Dean lasts thirteen seconds.
"Okay, one more kiss, and I'll say it."
Castiel nods once. "That sounds agreeable." He leans in, and Dean nips at Castiel's lips as they slot over Dean's. Without the initial rush he felt before, Dean takes the time to appreciate the kiss, the slide of spit slick lips against his own, the taste of salt and pumpkin in Castiel's mouth.
He should have lobbied for more kisses.
Castiel pulls away gently after some time, his nose brushing against Dean's before he raises himself to hover above Dean.
"Now what, Dean?" he questions expectantly.
"Now we... cuddle," Dean answers, and Castiel is right. Dean feels like all of his manhood is still intact even after saying the word.
"Yes," Castiel agrees, "now we do that." He rolls off of Dean and onto the opposite side of the bed, and Dean prepares himself to have Castiel tucked against his side, the other man's head against his chest. Instead Castiel pulls Dean against himself, curling around Dean like an octopus. Dean buries his face in Castiel's throat, inhaling his scent, tea tree and something earthy Dean can't quite place, and his body relaxes.
"Good night, Dean," Castiel mutters into the darkness.
Dean smiles against Castiel's skin, draping an arm over the man's side. "Night, Cas." And then he tips over that dark abyss and into sleep.
The next morning Dean finds out two things about Castiel. One, he has no reservations about walking around Dean's house in his underwear (which Dean doesn't either, but he's pleasantly surprised to find he has this in common with Castiel), and two, his scowl before he's got a cup of coffee in him is enough to put the fear of God in Dean.
"Not a morning person, huh?" Dean asks around a chuckle when Castiel shuffles into the kitchen, his eyes still blinking open and his hair sticking up in every which way.
"Is that a rhetorical question?" Castiel growls, reaching for the mug in Dean's hands and tugging it out of his grasp. He takes a swallow of the bitter liquid while Dean watches, mouth hanging slightly ajar as he processes the loss of his coffee. "No milk?"Castiel asks.
"I'm sorry, your majesty, I didn't know you'd want milk in my coffee," Dean mutters as he digs the milk out of the fridge. Castiel holds the mug out, and Dean pours until Castiel tells him to stop.
"You sleep okay?" Dean wonders, pulling another mug down from the cupboard and pouring himself a second cup of coffee.
A light smile plays at Castiel's lips now as he stares down into his mug, and he nods. "Yes, thank you."
Dean smiles back. "Awesome."
It's quiet for a moment as they drink their coffee, stealing fleeting glances over the edges of their mugs, and Dean wonders briefly what's supposed to happen next. "You want something to eat?" he asks.
"I'd like to shower first, if that's alright."
"Yeah, sure. It's in my room. You need help with anything?"
"I assure you I know how to shower, Dean." Castiel responds with a smirk.
Dean's cheeks heat as he barks a nervous laugh. "So not what I meant."
"I'm sure it isn't." Castiel puts his mug in the sink and saunters off towards Dean's bedroom.
"Towels are under the sink!" Dean shouts after him. Castiel raises a hand in the air, and then he disappears around the corner. Dean shakes his head, the corners of his mouth tugging up into a smile. Apparently Castiel comes with a hefty supply of sass.
When Castiel pads out of Dean's room, his hair is still wet, ends sticking out like a patch of weeds, and he's in a pair of jeans just a little too big to be his own and one of Dean's old band tees.
"Looks like you found everything okay," Dean says, his chest tightening at the sight of Castiel in his clothes.
"I did, thank you."
Dean pulls his skillet from the stovetop and holds it up. "Breakfast?"
Castiel nods, and Dean leads the way to the table.
"So," Dean says around a mouthful of eggs. "What do you think about me updating the bookshelves at Stacks?"
Castiel pushes his second helping of potatoes around on his plate, mulling over Dean's words. "I'm reluctant to do anything that takes away from the original state of the store," he explains.
"Alright, I can understand that. What if I just fix up the existing ones? Y'know so they don't topple over on someone's head. Think of it as a safety upgrade."
"That might be alright," Castiel agrees, "if you really think they need it."
Dean's brain flits back to his first visit to Stacks; the rickety tables barely standing well enough to hold books, the dilapidated bookshelves with warped shelves. "Trust me," he says, "they need it.”
"Tomorrow then," Castiel offers.
Dean nods. "I'll be there."
Castiel remains at Dean's for most of the day, leaving only when the sun begins to dip below the horizon. Dean assures him he doesn't have to leave, but Castiel just offers him a warm smile and a shake of his head. "I need to feed Bumblebee and follow up on a few things at the store. But, thank you, Dean."
"Are you sure I can't at least take you home?" Dean asks as they stand in his doorway, the cab Castiel called minutes before idling at the curb.
Castiel smiles and presses his lips against Dean's. "I'm sure. I'll see you tomorrow."
Dean toys with the hem of the t-shirt Castiel borrowed, slipping his thumb underneath and swiping it across Castiel's warm hip. "Tomorrow," he repeats. He accepts one final kiss from the other man and then watches as Castiel makes his way down Dean's walk and climbs into the cab.
Shortly after Castiel leaves, Sam arrives with pizza. He originally came to watch the Jayhawks game, but so far all he's done is yap at Dean about a new girl in the office, Jess, who's smart and sassy, and apparently everything Sam's ever wanted in a woman, but she won't give him the time of day. Dean only half listens, his mind stuck on Castiel and where their relationship is headed. Facebook may have gotten a few things right with their relationship status options; ‘It's Complicated’ is about the only way Dean could accurately describe what's going on between him and the quirky bookstore owner, but he's growing to really despise those two words.
"What the hell am I supposed to do?" Dean finally blurts, cutting Sam off mid-sentence. Dean feels bad not listening to the kid, he really does, but there are too many questions taking up space in his brain; he has to let some of them out before he explodes.
Sam stares at Dean, a slice of pizza midway to his mouth. "What the hell are you supposed to do about what?" he asks.
Dean sighs, tossing his napkin onto the table and staring down at the melted cheese oozing off his pizza in strings. "About Cas," he mumbles.
Sam puts his pizza back on his plate and wipes his fingers on his napkin before crossing his arms over the table and fixing Dean with an inquiring stare. "Dean, what's going on?" he asks.
"I don't know, Sammy, I really don't. I can't stop thinking about him. I want to be around him all the time. He makes me feel like this whole other person, but still myself? Like apparently I drink tea now, and I discuss books, and go to farmer's markets and shit. But, this all feels so out of my league that I'm about ten seconds away from just walking and never seeing the guy again."
"Dean, that doesn't make any sense."
Dean's hands fly up in the air, and he lets out a frustrated, "I know!"
Sam sighs, his expression filling with concern. "Why are you two having such a hard time establishing the fact that you're in a relationship? Or that you want to be in a relationship? You like him, he likes you what's so hard about that?"
"I don't know, maybe because I've never dated a guy before? Or, anyone really? I don't do relationships, Sammy. So how am I supposed to know when I'm in one?"
"Dean, I think the best thing for you to do at this point is just talk to Cas." Sam's voice is quiet when he speaks, just sympathetic enough to make Dean feel like an idiot for saying anything in the first place. Sam means well, he knows that, but Dean's mantra is to keep everything inside and let it work itself out. This is beyond what he's used to dealing with.
"Yeah, I guess," Dean agrees.
Sam stands from the table. As he walks past Dean on his way to the kitchen, he stops to squeeze Dean's shoulder. "You can do this, Dean. It's not as tough as it sounds." He pauses, probably giving time for Dean to process, and then asks, "You want another beer?"
Dean nods, and Sam leaves the room. The thing Dean hates most about their talk is the fact that he knows Sam is right. Dean needs to talk to Cas.
There are books everywhere. Dean and Castiel have spent most of the morning pulling books off of shelves and stacking them out of the way on the floor so Dean can make the necessary repairs to the shelves.
Castiel is in Dean's clothes again, the jeans riding low enough on his waist that every time he raises his arms a thin strip of tanned skin is revealed, and Dean's more than partially distracted by that and Cas' quickly growing stubble.
Dean thought all night about what he wanted to say, but now that he's here, everything he'd come up with melts away and he's left feeling jittery and weighted.
"You seem distracted," Castiel comments as he peers down at Dean who's lying on the floor, nailing a shelf back in place from the underside.
Dean puts a couple more nails in the wood and sets his nail gun off to the side, sliding out from underneath the shelf and sitting up. "Sorry. Guess I'm just kinda in the zone."
Castiel eyes him curiously. "I've seen you in the zone," he comments, "this is different." And sure maybe they've only known each other for a few weeks, but Dean's beginning to get the feeling Castiel can see more than the naked eye reveals.
Dean pushes himself off the floor and turns to face Castiel head on. "You're right." He finally admits.
"What's bothering you?" Castiel leans himself against the newly fixed shelf and crosses his arms over his chest.
"I just uh-" Dean looks down at his hands before giving Castiel his full attention. "I just got a lot on my mind… 'bout you and me."
"Such as?" Castiel wonders. His gaze is open, willing to hear Dean's words, and all Dean can think is: dammit how did he end up with the quiet guy who likes tea, and cats, and wears shit like waistcoats and sweater vests? A man who kisses like it's his fucking job and is downright wrathful in the mornings unless said morning involves coffee and a shower. A man who makes Dean feel safe, like nothing can touch him when Cas is around, who gives Dean the feeling of being valued, wanted? All Dean can wonder is how he got so lucky.
"I guess I just wanna know what's going on. Your Facebook says ‘It's Complicated’ and while I can't argue that, I don't want it to be complicated anymore."
There's a smile playing at Castiel's lips. "You've been checking my Facebook?" he asks.
"Sam has," Dean grumbles because that is what he's least proud of at this moment in time, that he's relied so heavily on a couple of words on a social networking site to navigate his relationship with the guy.
"So let's uncomplicate things, Dean. What do you want?"
Dean hesitates because this is the hard part, admitting what he wants without knowing if it's what Castiel wants, too. "Cas, I like you," he finally breathes, his palms clamming up and his head feeling a little dizzy. This might be the moment where sharing his feelings actually kills him, but he presses on. "I like you, and I want to know that it's okay to kiss you whenever I feel like it, and I want you to know it's okay to drop by whenever you want, and spend the night as often as you want, and steal my coffee and wear my clothes, and-" Dean stops, assessing the ever growing smile on Castiel's face.
"And?" Castiel urges.
"And I don't think we should see anyone else but each other."
"So you want us to be boyfriends."
Dean internally cringes at the word. "Yeah, but maybe without using the term 'boyfriends'?"
"What do you have against the term 'boyfriends'?" Castiel is close now, his lips a breath away, and Dean's pretty sure he's about to be kissed again.
"I don't know," Dean confesses.
"You said 'cuddle' and survived, I'll bet you could say 'boyfriends' and live to tell the tale as well."
Dean grits his teeth. Castiel is smiling at him, full on, cheeky as hell, smiling, and somehow Dean knows nothing is going to move forward until he gives in.
"Okay," Dean hedges, "I want us to be boyfriends. Now will you please kiss me?"
Castiel slips his fingers in Dean's belt loops and pulls him close, their mouths fitting together like two puzzle pieces that have been missing from the same puzzle. Dean's hands find either side of Castiel's face, and he holds on for dear life as he kisses his boyfriend between the dusty, run down shelves of Stacks. The weight that's been lifted from his shoulders is replaced with a warmth he hasn't felt in a very long time, and Dean smiles into the kiss.
"We don't actually have to use the term 'boyfriends,’" Castiel supplies when they break apart, "I just wanted to hear you say it."
"You're such an ass," Dean responds.
"I'm your ass now," Castiel retorts.
Days later, when Castiel finally gets around to changing his relationship status on Facebook, Dean stares at the words ‘In a Relationship’ and realizes maybe things weren't so complicated after all.