#1 ‘Trip,’ fall against a man’s chest, and say “Damn, your pecs are so hard, I felt like I was falling into a wall.”
Cas figures fake-tripping won’t be any more difficult than actual tripping, at least for him, given that he runs into everything from locker doors to music stands pretty much on a daily basis. It’s gotten to a point where his mother’s wondering whether he needs glasses, but the fact of the matter is that his eye sight is fine; the real problem is thin air miraculously transforming into tangible obstacles around his feet.
So when Dean comes up to his locker during passing period, right by Cas’ own in the hallway, Cas turns to say hello and promptly trips over his trombone case on the floor.
“Whoa,” is all Dean says before steadying Cas with a hand on his arm. “You alright there, Cas?”
His glasses are askew and his eyes are so green, especially this close, closer than they’ve ever been. They probably don’t even have a name yet for the color swimming and blending in those irises, and Cas stares, awed and silent, before remembering the script and blurting out, “I fell into a wall.”
Dean laughs, eyes lighting up from moss to apple. “What?”
“I mean- I…” Cas ignores his brain screaming god, abort the mission, you moron. “Nothing, it’s nothing. I apologize, Dean, my trombone is clearly a menace.”
“S’not as bad as my brother’s cello.” Dean shrugs, straightening his dark-rimmed glasses. His grin is bright enough to make Cas feel like falling again, but he waves instead when Dean tells him “See you later,” and wonders if Cosmo has an article just for klutzes.
#6 Study his face, and remark on how much he looks like [insert hot male celeb he kindasorta resembles here].
Alright, Cas admits that this one is ‘kindasorta’ incredibly stupid.
It’s not that Dean isn’t hot - Cas stumbles, okay, he isn’t blind. But despite his limited knowledge of pop culture, Cas knows Dean’s much better than some Hollywood heartthrob with high cheekbones. Because Dean is beautiful without being vapid, funny without ever being mean, and whenever he smiles, it’s like watching the sun rise, and yeah, Cas has got it bad but wouldn’t anyone if given ten minutes to spend with Dean?
So rather than churn out a comparison, Cas commits to just the first half (‘study his face’), which was already part of his pitiful crush routine. Except, well. Except he doesn’t quite realize how creepy all this might seem, not until Dean catches him looking moonstruck across their lab station and shit, abort again.
“Hey, Cas,” he says easily enough. “Can you measure out twenty mills of ethanol in here?”
Cas blinks because, because oh, Dean didn’t notice his staring at all. Which is definitely good and everything for his creep-o’-meter but the purpose of the exercise was to send Dean a message and- Wow, he is so pathetically bad at this, isn’t he. The phrase ‘sexually active band geeks’ is such a blatant lie, a bigger one than the moon landing, bigger than freaking Watergate.
“Uh, sure.” He dejectedly takes the test tube Dean is holding out and walks to the supply bench at the back of their classroom. When he returns, Dean is standing closer, writing meticulous notes in his composition notebook.
“Yeah,” Cas replies, still holding the test tube, and his heartbeat stutters when their eyes meet and Dean smiles.
Dean holds their gaze for a moment then leans in, and Cas sort of panics in a stream of what is going on, what is going on. And when Dean lifts his hand and Cas feels fingertips brush his cheek, he of course drops the test tube and startles at it hitting the floor. He jumps as Dean stills, as the glass cracks into three pieces on the linoleum. Some of the alcohol splatters onto Dean’s shoes and his, and after that he just freezes while Dean rushes toward the paper towel dispenser on the wall.
“I’m sorry,” he murmurs eventually, kneeling beside Dean to help him clean up the spill. Ms. Mills comes by to sweep the glass away herself, but Dean’s gone all quiet and Cas doesn’t like that one bit.
“You had an eyelash,” Dean explains when they’re back on their feet, shoes poorly dried. “Um, on your cheek. I just wanted to- Sorry I scared you.” He looks inexplicably sad and Cas is lost.
#13 Comment on a guy’s outfit with something like “It takes a lot of balls for a man to wear pink - I’m into that.”
Dean doesn’t ever wear pink, like ever, but Cas assumes he can apply the compliment to anything.
The awkwardness from bio lab didn’t last very long, thankfully, so the next time they see each other Cas comments on the band shirt Dean is wearing, says it’s nice. He omits the part about how soft it looks, worn in, worn out, loosely-fitted and comfortable. Dean grins at him anyway and Cas is stupidly pleased.
“Do you like Zeppelin?” Dean asks him, endearingly curious.
Cas flushes because the most played songs on his iPod are by the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, the Berlin- You get the idea. “I actually… I listen to a lot of, um… classical?”
“Oh yeah?” Dean says, expression unfaltering. “So does Sammy. Tried to get me to sit through Wagner or some dude yesterday, but- I don’t know, these weren’t having any of it.” He makes a small waving motion by his ear and Cas laughs, thoroughly charmed. “He’s assured me it’s an acquired taste - like brussels sprouts.”
Cas wrinkles his nose. “Well, better than those, I think.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Dean replies, and it sounds teasing and playful, warming Cas down to his toes. “You should educate me sometime. I mean, Beethoven and co. can’t be that bad, right?”
Cas fights back a smile. “Right.”
He spends the rest of the afternoon drafting up a playlist in his head.
#18 Ask him to lift that bulky box off the top shelf because “I need a big, strong man for this.”
So number eighteen grates on Cas’ pride just a little bit, but he presumes it has something to do with guys wanting to feel useful or whatever psychobabble it is those relationship books like to sell you. Biology class is uncooperative in that they never have to lift anything heavier than a pound, but then the universe decides to help him out for once and he runs into Dean outside the band room after sixth period.
“Hey,” Dean says first, sidestepping the antelope stampede that is the trumpet section.
“Hello, Dean.” Cas nods and tightens the grip on his instrument case. “I don’t usually see you in this wing.”
“Yeah, um,” Dean shifts on his feet. “I had to park in the back lot today, so,” he points vaguely to their left, “that exit’s closer.” His cheeks look slightly pink although Cas imagines it’s the heating, always a tad overdone in December.
“I parked there too,” Cas says, starting for the door. He notices the thick chemistry textbook under Dean’s arm and decides to forgo asking him to carry anything.
“Cool,” Dean smiles like this is the best news he’s heard all day, and Cas feels the weight lift from his grasp as Dean walks by, casually taking the case from Cas’ hand.
“Come on, Cas.” Dean turns around, the muscles in his forearms visible beneath rolled-up sleeves. He sees Cas blushing hard and shrugs both of his shoulders. “I just didn’t want you to trip again.”
“You didn’t-” A huff of laughter escapes Cas’ lips before he can stop it. “You’re making fun of me.”
Dean briefly drops his gaze then looks back up, biting his lower lip. His glasses dip down along his nose and Cas wants to fix them, to stand closer, to touch. “I wouldn’t want you to get hurt outside,” Dean murmurs. “It’s raining and it’s… slippery.”
Cas’ heart twists in his chest, because Dean is- He already knows that Dean is kind and thoughtful and wonderful, yet he continues to be surprised by him, in unexpected ways every day. It doesn’t do any favors for his crush or hopeless pining, but for now Cas swings his backpack around, and reaches for the umbrella he had to the foresight to pocket that morning.
“Do you think you could trust me to keep this over our heads?”
There are crinkles by Dean’s eyes when he answers, “Lead the way.”
#22 Check out a cutie for two seconds, look away, then glance back at him through lowered lashes.
This piece of ‘advice’ is by far the most realistic one on the entire list, which is good considering that Cas was this close to tossing the magazine back to Anna in exasperation.
It happens on a Thursday, just as Cas leaves a Yearbook Club meeting and walks right into the path of a rubber band car zipping down the hallway. He jumps aside and doesn’t slam into anything - a miracle, really - but the car belongs to Dean so there’s that and the heat threatening to spread across his face.
“Sorry, Cas!” Dean calls as he runs over. Benny Lafitte gets up too except he stays in his place, eyeing Cas inquisitively.
“It’s okay.” Cas bends down to retrieve the car then holds it out. “Physics project?”
“Yup.” Dean rubs his neck sheepishly but there’s a twinkle in his eye - bright, bright green. “I swear I wasn’t, you know, aiming it at you or anything.”
“Are you sure? It felt rather intentional.”
Dean laughs and fidgets with the car, spinning a wheel. It’s basically a blank CD, Cas notices, catching the ceiling lights in a rainbow. “I swear on all the pies in the world that it wasn’t,” and somehow that fails to sound ridiculous coming from Dean. “Um, also, if you’re heading home, Benny and I are just about done…”
Cas nods as he trails off. “Sure. I can wait.”
Dean beams at him then rushes back to Benny, handing him the car and crouching down to pack his bag. Whatever he’s saying makes the other boy raise an eyebrow, but all Benny does besides that is to clap Dean on the shoulder and leave first, shooting Cas a swift, evaluating look.
Dean, for his part, returns a moment later, and reaches for Cas’ instrument case like it’s the most natural thing in the world. “But it isn’t raining today,” Cas informs him very quietly, though the protest goes ignored by Dean, who carries it all the way out to Cas’ car.
The only option is to follow, which Cas does with his pulse racing underneath his skin. When they get to his car, Cas says “Thank you” and puts the trombone in the backseat, then peers up at Dean, fists clenched in an effort not to kiss him.
Dean stares back before letting out a shaky breath. “Cas, you can’t… You can’t do that.”
Cas frowns. “Do what?”
“… Look at me like that.”
“Oh.” His heart pretty much drops into his stomach. “I’m sorry, Dean.”
“No. It’s not-” Dean pushes a hand through his hair, his laugh sort of strained. “It’s just- I really want to kiss you when you do that and… I know you don’t feel that way about me.”
Cas feels like an anvil’s been dropped onto his head. His ears are ringing and his mind can’t seem to process anything save for ‘kiss you’ and ‘kiss you’ and, god, Dean Winchester wants to kiss him.
“You… You want to…”
“Yeah,” Dean says helplessly and he sounds so sad and Cas has to tell him that he couldn’t be more wrong.
Dean steps into his space, mouth still turned down at its corners, and it’s like a sudden flashback to two weeks ago when they were in lab, standing a foot apart. Cas can barely breathe at Dean’s touch, his fingers ghosting over his cheekbone feather-light, and his heartbeat is louder than Dean as Dean says, “You’ve got another eyelash. You should make a wish this time.”
He watches Dean pull back, shy and hesitant, sees the eyelash on his fingertip, dark against light. It’s then that he also sees the freckle, right by the eyelash, a lone star in the galaxy dusting Dean’s skin. He can’t help a smile because Dean is beautiful, a whole universe, and when he looks up, Cas whispers “I don’t need a wish” and kisses him.