“Got the ring?”
“Got your...what's it called...the flower thing.”
Dean cast his eyes around the cramped church foyer he and Castiel shared, but didn’t spot the small sprig of purple flowers and white ribbon anywhere.
“Behind you, on the table.”
Spinning, Dean let out a sound of triumph and snatched up the herbs and nearby box of straight pins. He quashed the urge, barely, to crumple the lavender that comprised the notion in his fist.
This is Cas's big day, he reminded himself for what felt like the millionth time. Don't do anything to ruin it.
Numbly, Dean watched his hands reach up and pin the boutonniere on Castiel's lapel before straightening his bowtie and collar one final time. Absolutely refusing to allow his fingers to linger over sloped shoulders or the fine lines of Cas's tux jacket, Dean cleared his throat and said, “You ready for this?” Dean certainly wasn't.
Don't screw this up. Castiel deserves to be happy.
“Yes. Thank you, Dean,” the former angel said quietly.
“No problemo. What're best men are for?”
The Winchester brothers and Castiel were finally getting what they dreamed of: a real chance at the apple-pie life. After escaping Purgatory, Dean had promised the newly-human (and sane) Castiel he'd stick by his side. After all, Castiel had given up every last drop of his grace busting them out; Dean figured the least he could do was help Cas adjust to his sudden humanity, and Sam agreed.
Dean hadn't expected the considering look he was leveled, nor the quiet words that followed.
To see Daphne.
Surprised but not unwilling, the Winchesters packed up their belongings and drove to Colorado. When the visit went so well Castiel said he wanted to stay nearby at least semi-permanently, Dean asked Sam to find them an apartment.
Which was how they'd ended up living in a cramped three bedroom converted dormitory within spitting distance of the house Cas once lived in with Daphne as Emmanuel. She brought around a housewarming gift of pretty decent pot roast and sweet biscuits that she claimed were Cas's favorites, which was Cas ended up starting to date Daphne.
Dean watched for weeks as his best friend awkwardly courted his former 'wife'. (Turns out they'd only had a 'spiritual' marriage, something about surrogate wives and how she'd been ready to let him go if that was God's plan and a bunch of other hooey that Dean couldn't decipher. He just found himself strangely happy they weren't actually married, married, for whatever that was worth.) He mastered pretending to listen attentively when Cas brought her up in conversation and even suggested places for them to go out to on their dates. Inwardly, though, the more Castiel talked about her, the tetchier Dean became, to the point where he would have to actually remind himself not to snarl in her presence. There were times Dean positive Cas was somehow testing him by mentioning her, a challenge in his blue eyes like he wanted Dean to say something. What, Dean didn't know. Congratualtions? Good job, buddy? Dean wasn't about to say either.
He held his feelings in as best as possible and tried to not examine them too closely. Perhaps he'd grown too used to having Castiel practically attached to his side, between the Apocalypse that wasn't and their little trip through sunny Purgatory, he reasoned. He does have a co-dependent personality, after all.
That didn't explain why Dean spent a half-hour puking in the bathroom after Castiel casually announced that he'd asked Daphne to marry him, and she'd said yes, one random summer day three months after moving to town. When Cas stood over him and asked him if he was alright, peering into the toilet with seeming fascination, Dean waved his nausea off as bad seafood, an explanation Castiel seemed all too eager to accept.
Then he asked Dean if he'd be his best man.
Despite the screaming voice in the back of his head that said it was a bad idea, Dean moaned yes into the bowl. He was Castiel's best friend, hell, his only friend aside from Sam. He wasn't about to let him down over his poor, picked on, bitter feelings.
“You ready for this?” Dean asked again in an attempt to distract himself, only remembering he'd already asked after speaking.
Cas stopped whatever he'd been going to say and shook his head. Twitching the corner of his mouth almost wistfully, Cas said instead, “Yes, Dean. I'm ready.”
A soft knock on the door, and Sam stuck his head in, a carefree grin on his face. Dean wished he honestly felt the way Sam obviously did, but the best he could do was pretend and hope no one noticed.
“Hey guys. It's time.”
“Great,” Dean said weakly. Rallying, he clapped the former angel on the back. “C'mon Cas, showtime.”
Daphne came down the aisle in a veritable cloud of lace, her dress audibly whispering against the pews as she passed. She looked radiant in her frothy peasant gown, her face glowing under her crown of daisies. Thinking she didn't deserve Cas, that she couldn't possibly need or understand him the way Dean did, especially when she looked so damn happy, made Dean feel like a jackass. The thoughts came anyways.
Cas, for his part, had an expression on his face that was a peculiar mixture of worry and gobsmacked. Stomach curdling, Dean watched his friend's eyes widen as Daphne got closer, saw his hands flex in unconscious want. Dean wondered if he'd be able to make it through the ceremony, or if he'd need to make a sorry excuse and leave part way through. A quick glance at the congregation—mostly Daphne's family, but a few acquaintances the Winchesters had met along the way, too—and the way they were staring raptly at the altar destroyed any ideas of a discreet exit. Plus Sam, Cas's only other groomsman, was standing just to his left; he'd probably grab Dean if he tried to bolt. Taking a deep breath, he told himself to buck up.
Don't mess this up. Don't mess this up.
All too soon the bride reached Castiel's side, and they held hands as the ceremony began. While the minister droned on about God, faith and fidelity, Dean realized he was staring at Cas like he was hoping for something. What, he didn't know; a freaking sign? Any sort of clue, maybe, that Castiel didn't truly want to be there, marrying a strange woman.
Speak now, or forever hold your peace.
Dean only realized after a long, lapsed silence, and the minute flicker of devastation on Castiel's face when it remained unbroken, why he'd been standing there, silently hoping Cas would call it all off.
He was in love with him.
All their fights, the depth of devastation he'd felt at Cas's betrayal, the sweet relief when he'd found him again and the trust he'd instinctively restored to the angel before they'd even reached Purgatory now made sense. He was in love with him, maybe always had been. Yet Dean was just standing there, watching him marry someone else because he didn't want to mess the wedding up?
The minister began again, and Dean found his voice.
A collective gasp rolled through the church, but Dean didn't give a damn. Castiel half-turned toward him, and no, Dean didn't think he imagined the hope mingled with relief on his friend's face.
“Dean, what are you doing?” Sam hissed from Dean's other side while the minister sputtered about how the time for objections had passed.
“Something I should have done before now,” Dean whispered back. He then gave his full attention to Castiel, who'd dropped Daphne's hands to face him.
“I'm not saying never marry Daphne, if it's what you really want,” Dean began, “but could you...wait, maybe? I know it's not my place, but. This...isn't this a little fast?” Given a little time maybe Dean could come to terms with his revelation, could stand there and watch happily while Cas married someone else, but not right now. It'd kill him to watch it now.
“I care for Daphne, and she for me. We agreed to marry one another. Time is unlikely to change our suitability. Unless...” He made an aborted movement towards Dean, one hand half-raised. “Forgive me if I'm wrong in my assumption, but Dean...” The white of Castiel's shirt shifted and his Adam’s apple bobbed as he took a deep breath. “If you want me, I need you to say it.”
The very church seemed to hold it's breath. Dean shuffled backwards, wishing all eyes weren't on them. Castiel caught his hand before he could give into the urge to flee, and tugged him gently closer.
“Tell me you need me, and I will wait.”
“Cas, I shouldn't have even—I'm sorry, I--”
“Dean.” Bright blue eyes caught his, and Dean bit his lip. “Daphne and I can have a good life.”
“Good, but quiet. One devoid of passion,” Daphne said, the first words she'd spoken since Dean disrupted the proceedings. God, he'd interrupted her freaking wedding, and she was looking at him with gentle compassion. Speaking in a tone clearly meant to make her voice carry, she said, “I love Castiel, Dean, and I think he loves me too. But I have never seen him as alive as when he speaks of you. His eyes, they just shine. He loves me, yes, but not the way he loves you.” She laughed a little.
“Daphne, I never meant--” Castiel began, but she shushed him.
“I always knew I was a surrogate for who you really wanted. It was selfish of me to try to be more.”
The absurdity of the bride encouraging her groom to take off with another man wasn't lost on Dean. He marveled for a second—Daphne was either amazing or bat-shit crazy—before he pulled Cas's attention back.
“I—I want you,” Dean said. Sam brushed past them as a commotion began in the church audience, but Dean focused on Castiel, and the hand that shook slightly as it clenched his tighter. “And I need you. So please,” his voice dropped as he whispered, “don't marry Daphne.”
Then Cas was kissing him, one hand still clasping Dean's between their bodies and the other cradling the back of Dean's head as he pulled them closer together. An enraged shout that sounded suspiciously like Daphne's father sounded out. Dean heard Sam respond in kind, and somewhere in the background was a babble of distressed voices, but all that soon faded from Dean's attention in favor of the warm, wet glide of Castiel's mouth and the slow, languid joining of their lips.
Daphne mentioned passion, and passion was there, but it wasn't frenzied. There were no crazed hands wandering, no popping of buttons as shirts were ripped off. Instead Dean was filled with a feeling of rightness, the absolute certainty that Castiel was it, the one. Dean pulled away reluctantly, a shaky sigh passing from his lips.
“Does this mean--”
“Yes, Dean.” There was the shine that Daphne spoke of. Why had he never seen it before? “I was always yours. Am, still yours.”
“Dean.” Sam broke up their second round of kissing by tugging on his sleeve, face pinched in distress. “We need to leave. Like, right now. The Allens are getting pretty upset.”
There was only one Allen who Dean cared about. He and Cas scanned the room until they saw Daphne. She was surrounded by a group of women wailing like a tragic greek chorus. She was a pillar of calm in their mist, actually comforting them over her disrupted wedding with a small, wistful smile on her face.
Thank you, Dean mouthed to her.
Go, she returned. Dean and Cas didn't need to be told twice. Hand in hand, they ran down the aisle, out of the church, and into the waiting sunshine.