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It’s funny how a little chiming sound coming from his laptop could make Dean’s heart flutter with excitement.  How that little red circle with the number ‘1’ in it popping up in the corner of Dean’s laptop screen could make his day ten times better. It all started a few months ago. 

One night, Dean was bored. The type of bored that he couldn’t fix with just going out; especially not at that time of night when he had school the next day. So, he flipped open his laptop and signed into a random online chatroom. At first, he was a bit doubtful that he’d find anyone who would actually want to talk to him about anything other than sex.

His dad had warned his little brother about sites like this, told him people aren’t always who they say they are. The thought that Dean could be whoever he wanted to on this site sent adrenaline rushing through his veins as he pursed his lips, trying to find a chatroom that suited him.

Dean had always wanted to be someone else, he never felt quite good enough. The fact that he could pretend to be a better person than he believed himself to be on these types of sites was a comforting thought. He had total control of what these people thought of him. That fact alone made him feel less anxious about sending that first, ‘hi’.

A few hours had passed and so far he’d only managed to have a few conversations. People really were crazy on here; probably about eighty percent of them were just looking for pictures and sex talk. Dean wasn’t really up for that right now, he needed someone to vent to. He’d had a rough day, getting detention in the very first class and then almost getting kicked off the football team for beating up some kid who called Sam a ‘geek’ even though the punk deserved it. Sam was his little brother and no one was going to make a fool out of him. 

With all of that running through his head, finally someone with the username, ‘Wingless-Wonder’ popped up and said ‘hello’. A wave of nervousness swept over Dean’s body as he placed his fingers on the keyboard and began to type the best reply he could think of, ‘hey there’. His heartbeat was beginning to speed up as he took a breath, convinced that the person just wouldn’t reply or would ask ‘asl?’ like everyone else.

But, he didn’t and they spoke until the early hours of the morning. His name was Castiel Novak and he just so happened to live a few miles away from Dean. He was seventeen, had a sister and two brothers and lived in a farm house just outside of town. 

After a few months of talking online for almost four hours every day, Dean felt as if he really knew this guy. Talking to Castiel slowly became the highlight of his day. He would go without sleep just to talk late into the night, finding out more about him and telling him more about himself.

Dean found out interesting things about Castiel; such as the fact that he played piano and wrote poetry. He also found out pointless little facts; how Castiel’s favourite colour was green and he loved walking on the beach at night. Even though there was still an air of mysteriousness about Castiel, Dean enjoyed finding out these silly little facts. It made him feel one step closer to actually getting to know the guy.

He soon found himself being completely truthful with this … stranger. Because that’s what he was essentially, a stranger. This ‘Castiel’ guy could be anyone; he could be a forty year old creep for all Dean knew. However, Dean had a good feeling about this guy.

The only strange thing that Dean noticed about Castiel was the way he would simply stop replying for days on end. Dean would check his email several times a day. Before school, between classes and even during football practice and there would be nothing. Then, a few days later, he would suddenly get a reply and Castiel would be acting as if he hadn’t just disappeared for days. Dean just disregarded this, maybe Castiel was just a busy person.

Over the next few months, they talked about everything from school to family and even about relationships. When Dean was upset or angry the only person he wanted to turn to was Castiel, and he’d always be there for him. Things were going great and Dean felt really at ease until Castiel popped up on his chat that Wednesday night in October.

Chapter Text

“He’s gorgeous, Dean. I mean it, he’s an easy eight … possible nine,” Jo’s over-excited voice boomed through Dean’s phone. She was just back from a date with her new boyfriend, Adam, and had decided to call Dean and give him every tiny little detail of how it went.

Dean rolled his eyes and chuckled, kicking his feet up at the ceiling as he lay on his bed. “So, did you get a chance, between all the obvious drooling over him,” Jo scowled at that, “to warn him that if he ever hurt you there’d be a very angry captain of the school football team ready to beat him up?” he asked, grinning.

An excited squeal came from the other end of the phone. “Captain of the football team?! Dean, that’s great! We have to celebrate!” Dean couldn’t help but roll his eyes again. That was Jo Harvelle: party animal. Always looking for an excuse to celebrate.

“Jo, it’s really not that big of a deal.”

“Are you kidding me? My best friend is captain of the football team. To me, that’s a pretty big deal.” There was pensive silence for a few seconds before Jo spoke again, determination in her voice, “Party. Friday night, eight o’clock, the Roadhouse. You better be there, Winchester.” Dean heard rustling of paper on the other end, indicating that she was already beginning to plan this party that would no doubt be one to remember.

Dean sighed over-dramatically and got to his feet, stalking over to his desk. “Okay, I’ll be there,” he chuckled, wiggling his mouse a bit, causing his laptop screen to come to life. He almost let out an excited noise when he saw the tiny little ‘1’ icon at the corner of his screen. He quickly sat down on his swivel chair and balanced his phone on his shoulder as he clicked on the icon, bringing up his chat screen.

“You’re talking to him, aren’t you?” Jo asked through the phone, amusement rife in her voice.

Dean rolled his eyes, hoping that she could sense it through the phone. “Yes, if you must know,” he replied, smiling as he read Castiel’s message.

 

Castiel_N says:                       Hello, Dean.

D_Winchester says:               Hey Castiel how’s it goin?

           

“So, this guy’s pretty mysterious, huh?” There was now steady scribbling in the background and the familiar echo that suggested that Dean had been put on speakerphone.

“Not really,” Dean said, waiting patiently for Castiel to reply. “I mean, I know enough about him.”

And? Just how much does this not-so-mysterious guy know about you?” Jo asked with an audible grin in her voice. God, Dean hated it when Jo had a point. She was so damn smug. Dean was not going to tell her that he’d pretty much told the guy about every little thing that had happened in his not-so-exciting life for the past few months.

Instead, he settled for a, “Not much,” and leaned forwards, smiling brightly when he noticed that Castiel had replied.

 

Castiel_N says:                       Really good, thanks. You?

D_Winchester says:               I’m awesome we won a match 2day!

 

“Whatever. You’re such a liar. Should I leave you alone to talk with your big gay crush?” she chuckled. Although there was no real venom in her words, Dean hated being called gay. Especially when he wasn’t. At least he didn’t think he was.

“Jo, you know I’m not gay,” he said, sighing heavily as he settled back in his swivel chair.

Jo too sighed; Dean could almost see her rolling her eyes and shaking her head. “It’s not my fault I’ve always wanted a gay best friend.”

After a while of being annoyed, Dean couldn’t help but chuckle at Jo’s words. “You’re such a jerk sometimes, you know that?”

“Yep, and that’s why you love me,” Jo chirped, papers rustling in the background. “So, how much should I charge per shot?” she asked. “Oh, and you’ve gotta invite all your friends. Especially any hot football players.”

 

Castiel_N says:                       Oh, well done! :D

D_Winchester says:               naa I hardly did anythin lol

Castiel_N says:                       You’re far too modest, Dean.

 

Dean blushed, smiling like an idiot at his laptop screen. “Dean?” an irritated voice interrupted him through the phone from trying to think of a cocky comeback for Castiel.

“Sorry. Um … I dunno. Two dollars?” he suggested, fingers typing swiftly on the laptop keyboard, the soft clicking sounds filling his quiet room.

 

D_Winchester says:               shut up lol where were u last week? U didn’t reply for 4 days…

Castiel_N says:                       Why? Did you miss me? :P

 

There it was, yet again, Castiel just avoiding the question completely. Dean hated that; hated being blatantly ignored. But, he was too tired to argue tonight. So, he just let it slide like he usually did.

“Yeah, two dollars seems reasonable,” Jo mumbled, half to herself, as she scribbled away in the background.

 

D_Winchester says:               shut up

Castiel_N says:                       Haha. I’ll take that as a ‘yes’ then.

D_Winchester says:               ugh ur so annoyin sometimes

 

Suddenly, Dean could hear the quiet murmurs of a woman’s voice talking to Jo as he spun himself around in his chair once, enjoying the dizziness that filled his head. Jo heaved a sigh and Dean could hear more rustling of papers before the click of a lamp switch he knew too well. “Gotta go, Dean. I’ll see you at school and we can plan this party together,” she said, the smile evident in her voice.

“’Kay, see ya,” Dean muttered before hanging up and placing his phone on the desk right beside his laptop where yet another new message was gracing his glowing screen.

 

Castiel_N says:                       And you love it.

D_Winchester says:               bite me Novak

Castiel_N says:                       Maybe you’d love that too, lol :P

Castiel_N says:                       … Can I ask you something, Dean?

 

It was very rare that Castiel ever used Dean’s name so seriously. Actually, it was very rare that he asked before asking Dean a question. This made Dean nervous. It was obviously something important. Dean felt his heart begin to race in his chest. What could be so important that Castiel would have to get so serious? As he had reminded himself countless times during the past few months; Castiel could be anybody.

 

D_Winchester says:               yeah sure…

Castiel_N says:                       I’d like to meet you. Are you free on Saturday?

 

Dean’s heart nearly stopped dead in his chest at the question. His fingers froze on the keyboard. He’d been dreading this question ever since they began talking regularly. Seeing it written on the screen like that made everything seem more real and he had to take a deep breath to keep himself calm.

Right now, he had a choice to make. He really liked this guy. As a friend, of course. But, what if they met and Castiel was disappointed? Dean knew he wasn’t anything special and he could never live up to any expectations this guy may have of him. Castiel wrote poetry and read Shakespeare for fun. Dean fixed cars and played football. It just didn’t seem like a good match.

Despite all this, he found his fingers moving speedily on the keyboard almost without command as he chewed on his bottom lip nervously.

 

D_Winchester says:               yeah I am where should we meet?

Castiel_N says:                       We could meet at the mall. 11am?

D_Winchester says:               okay sounds good

 

“Dean,” a deep voice said from the door. Dean turned to see his dad’s head peeking through the open door. “You should be sleeping.”

Dean furrowed his eyebrows and glanced at the time on his laptop. It had just turned 00:32; which would’ve been okay if it wasn’t a school night. He hadn’t even realised how late it was. “One minute,” he mumbled, holding his index finger up and fixing his eyes on the screen as he typed with his other hand.

 

D_Winchester says:               G2G talk 2 u 2morro?

Castiel_N says:                       Okay. Goodnight, Dean.

D_Winchester says:               nite Castiel

 

After signing out of the chat, Dean quickly shut down his laptop and muttered a ‘goodnight’ to his dad who nodded at him once before leaving the room. He then stripped down to his boxers and a t-shirt and slipped into bed.

Usually, Dean would be able to get to sleep within minutes. Not tonight though. There were too many thoughts buzzing around in his head, refusing to let him sleep. What if Castiel hated him on Saturday? What if he didn’t turn up? Or, what if ‘Castiel’ wasn’t really who he said he was?

Chapter Text

After a restless night filled with thoughts of every possible scenario – good and bad - that could happen on Saturday, Dean drove to school in a sleepy daze. The coffee he’d managed to gulp down before he left the house had yet to fully kick in.

He sauntered towards his locker, tugging it open impatiently before grabbing his notebook and textbooks for his morning classes. Just as soon as he shut his locker again, Jo appeared, grinning widely at him. Dean groaned inwardly at her chirpiness. It should be illegal for anybody to look that happy this early in the morning.

“Hey, Dean-o! English first.” She then proceeded to hooking her arm around Dean’s and leading him towards their English class. “So, I’ve been thinking—“

“Oh, that’s never good,” Dean grumbled, a smirk playing at his lips.

Jo jabbed her elbow into Dean’s ribcage playfully and continued, “You should have some sort of date for our party.”

Dean groaned at that, shaking his head. “No, no, no.”

“Oh, c’mon! Lighten up, grumpy. It’s only for one night.”

“Remember the last time I let you set me up on a date? That did not end well,” Dean recalled, shuddering over-dramatically as they turned a corner in the hallway.

Jo shrugged. “I thought that went okay actually. Lydia seemed to like you.”

“She puked all over me. I had to literally carry her home because she was so wasted. She even tried to give me a blowjob and passed out halfway through it. So, forgive me if I fail to see how you’re matchmaker of the year,” he grumbled with a grimace.

“Ew, gross. Anyways, I promise that this girl’s a little more civilised. Her name’s Lisa Braeden, she’s in my home ec. class,” she explained as they entered their English classroom together. “So, what d’ya say?”

Dean gave a long-suffering sigh before nodding slowly. “Whatever. But, there better be some damn pie at this party,” he replied, wagging a finger at his blonde-haired friend who grinned back at him with a wink.

“You know it,” she chimed happily, taking her seat at the back of the classroom.

Dean sat in the middle row of desks. He shared his desk with a quiet guy that he’d hardly ever looked at, never mind spoke to. Dean just instantly judged him as the nerdy book-worm type and decided that any acquaintance made with him would seriously damage his reputation.

For most of the lesson, Dean listened absently to Mr. Shurley babble on about Shakespeare and the importance of his works to the English language. Dean zoned out every now and then, trying to imagine what Castiel looked like. Would he be tall? What if he had a weird style? Then again, he could be much older than he said he was. What if he was some sort of pervert?

When the bell rang, signalling the end of the lesson, Dean realised he had been daydreaming so much that he’d forgotten to take down any notes whatsoever. He merely shrugged and began packing away his things. English wasn’t really that important to him anyway. Though, he silently cursed himself for acting like a stupid twelve-year old girl about this whole Castiel situation.  

The rest of the morning went by quite quickly. Even though Dean almost fell asleep in Math, he managed to find the strength to stay awake until the bell rang for lunch. He then made his way towards the cafeteria and chose his usual; burger, fries, fizzy apple juice and this weird pastry stuff that was the closest thing to pie that he’d get in this place.

Jo hollered at him from across the cafeteria and he laughed, weaving his way through the crowd of hungry teenagers to finally sit down opposite her. Ash, Pamela, Anna and Adam were also sat around the table eating, laughing and gossiping as usual.

Ash was Dean’s best friend, after Jo of course. He greeted him with a fist bump and a salute as always. Adam was only sitting at their table because he was dating Jo and he couldn’t keep his eyes off of her. Dean chuckled, taking a sip of his drink before tucking in to his burger. Pamela and Anna were Jo’s friends and they sat huddled close together, talking about guys, shoes and reality TV shows. Truth be told, Dean had hooked up with both of them in the past. Maybe even more than once.

“So, you’re all coming to the party at the Roadhouse tomorrow night, right?” Jo asked, taking a bite of her pizza as she peered around the table. There was a collective nod of the head and hums of affirmation around the table which made Jo beam. “Good.”

“Will there be alcohol?” Ash asked, raising an eyebrow as almost everyone at the table laughed at him.

Jo gave him a look before nodding slowly. “Well, duh, Ash. It’s a bar after all. Plus, my mom is away for the whole weekend,” she replied, grinning mischievously. The whole table erupted into mumbles of ‘you’re so lucky’.

“Well, I’ll definitely be there. I trust you to have some hot guys lined up for me, Harvelle,” Pamela answered, pointing a finger at Jo with a chuckle.

As the table quietened to quiet murmurs with Ash talking to Adam about football and Anna telling Pamela about some guy she hooked up with last weekend, Dean leaned forwards to whisper to Jo, “He asked to meet up.”

A chip fell out of her mouth as her jaw dropped and her eyes widened. “What? When?!” she asked, keeping her voice as quiet as she could whilst the rest of the group chattered around them.

“Saturday,” he replied, swallowing.

So … what?” she asked, picking her chip back up and throwing it into her mouth. “Are you gonna meet him or not?”

Dean shrugged, looking at her with unsure eyes. “I dunno, Jo. What if he’s some forty-year old pervert or somethin’?”

Jo barked out a laugh at that. “But, what if he’s not?” she asked, chewing on another chip. “What if he’s genuine? You really shouldn’t just stand the guy up.”

“Then what should I do?”

Dean watched as Jo thought silently for a few moments, stealing a sip of Adam’s coke. “How about I go with you? We can hide-out somewhere until we see him and then you can either get the hell outta there or go speak to him,” Jo suggested. “It’s worth a try.”

After worrying his bottom lip between his teeth for a while, Dean let out a soft sigh and nodded, finishing off his burger. “Yeah, okay. Thanks, Jo.”

“You’re welcome and besides, I wanna see your face when you lay eyes on your big gay crush,” she chuckled, throwing a chip in Dean’s direction.

Dean threw the chip back before glaring at her. “How many times do I have to tell you? I don’t have a crush on him,” he insisted, lowering his voice to make sure Jo was the only one who could hear him.

“Sorry, that’s right. You’re not gay,” she retorted, although all the humour had disappeared from her voice. It was replaced with concern and soft eyes as she gazed at Dean as though she knew him better than he knew himself. Maybe she did.

***

 

D_Winchester says:               doin anythin cool at the weekend?

Castiel_N says:                       Meeting you on Saturday lol. What about you?

D_Winchester says:               oh yea lol not much after that

Castiel_N says:                       So, afhdishgfjhjkfklsareitegjkre[[‘f

Castiel_N says:                       Sorry, my brother was trying to type a crude message

 

Dean laughed, taking a forkful of pie into his mouth. He knew all about annoying brothers. Sam may be smart and the star of the family, but sometimes he can be really irritating. Then, other times, he can be the best freakin’ brother ever. As Dean found out when he came home from school to find a slice of apple pie on a plate at the table with a note attached saying, ‘Tell dad I’m staying late at the library and I’ll buy you pie everyday this week. -S’ Dean couldn’t say no to that. He’d caught the kid walking out of school hand-in-hand with a pretty blonde girl and this was obviously black-mail. But, Dean could never resist a nice slice of apple pie.

 

D_Winchester says:               haha no worries so what will we do on Saturday?

Castiel_N says:                       Just hang out I suppose. Unless you’ve got other ideas lol   

 

Okay, maybe it was just so late and Dean was still tired from his sleepless night. But, he could’ve sworn that this guy was full-on flirting with him now. He re-read the message almost ten times. Yeah, he was probably just imagining things. He shook his head and placed his fingers on the keyboard once again.

 

D_Winchester says:               nope hangin out is good

Castiel_N says:                       I can’t wait

D_Winchester says:               neither can I dude but I gotta get some sleep now

Castiel_N says:                       Okay. Goodnight, Dean. Sleep well.

D_Winchester says:               u too

 

Dean signed out and shut down his laptop like he did every night. After going downstairs to find his dad watching television with no doubt his fifth beer in his hand, Dean told him that Sam was at the library to which John grunted in response and took another sip of beer. Dean made his way back upstairs and into the bathroom.

He tried to forget about Castiel’s ambiguous comment as the warm water of the shower washed over his body. He really did try to relax, but he found himself getting worried. What if this guy expected them to be more than friends? Dean so wasn’t ready for any of that. Besides, he wasn’t gay. Not really. It’s not like he found every guy he laid eyes on drop-dead gorgeous. He’d always been attracted to girls. Not guys. Yeah, sure, he’d maybe crushed on a few guys the past few years, but not many. Surely that meant that he was straight, right?

After switching off the shower and getting changed into clean underwear and a random t-shirt, he slipped into bed just as he heard his brother walk through the front door. He was ready for his dad to start shouting at him, asking where he’d been. But there was nothing but the sound of Sam creeping up the stairs and into his bedroom. Dean sighed and rolled his eyes as he pulled the sheets up over himself. John must’ve passed out on the sofa.

Dean really didn’t blame his dad for turning to alcohol to numb the pain. Every time he’d tried to talk about what happened to their mum, his dad had always told him not to mention it before grabbing another beer.

It had been eleven years since Mary had died and not once had John ever sat down and spoken about it with his boys. Though Dean understood why; he knew why his dad refused to talk about it. Because, even though all these years had passed, the wound left by her death had never really fully healed. It still hurt and there was nothing Dean could do but watch as his dad spiralled into an endless pit of self-destruction.

He would try to help. He would try to stop his dad from drinking. He even threw away all the alcohol in the house one day, but John just shouted louder and stormed out, coming back a few hours later with a twelve-pack in his hand and an even wearier look on his face. Dean knew the truth though. He knew why he couldn’t do anything to help. It was because all of this was his fault. Even though his dad would never admit it, Dean was the reason Mary was dead.

Chapter Text

The next day at school was generally uneventful. At lunch, Dean sat with the same bunch of people as they chattered excitedly about the party. Jo was making last minute lists and briefing Adam who had agreed to be a sort of bouncer for the event. Dean sat with his elbow perched on the table and his chin resting on his hand as he zoned in and out of conversations, nodding and humming in agreement at the appropriate times.

After a while, he got bored and managed to persuade Ash to let him use his iPhone for a few minutes to check his email. He was relieved to see that there was one reply in his inbox. It didn’t take him long to guess who that was from. He opened it instantly and, after a while, he was grinning down at the phone screen, tapping at it like he’d been using it for years.

“What’s her name?” Ash teased, glancing down at the phone.

Dean quickly hid the phone away from Ash’s line of view and shook his head. “It’s no-one.”

“That’s a weird name,” Ash teased further, craning his neck in an attempt to see the phone.

“Ash, piss off,” Dean scowled, trying to reply to Castiel’s message whilst making sure Ash didn’t see what he was doing. After all, he really didn’t need Ash (or anyone else for that matter) to find out that he was non-stop messaging a guy online like some naïve twelve year old girl. That would result in never-ending mockery and he would never hear the end of it.

“Remember whose phone you’re using, dude,” Ash retorted in a sing-song voice, pushing Dean on the arm before getting back to finishing off his meal.

Dean quickly sent the message in silence and signed out of his email account before handing the phone back to Ash and getting to his feet. “Thanks, man. I’ll see you guys tonight,” he said, slinging his backpack over his shoulder.

Jo looked up from her notebook to point a warning finger at Dean. “You better not stand me up, Winchester,” she joked. Dean laughed and stuck his tongue out at her before leaving the cafeteria.

On the way to his next class, he stopped by his locker to pick up a few books. He wished that his last lesson on a Friday afternoon didn’t turn out to be friggin’ religious studies with Mr. Adler. He sat through the whole fifty minutes doodling idly in his notebook and flirting constantly with the pretty girl, Cassie, who sat beside him.

***

When he got home, Dean noticed Sam sitting on the couch in the living room. He decided to have a little fun and jumped onto the couch right beside his little brother, slinging his arm around him.

“Dean, you’re gonna break the couch if you keep doing that,” Sam grumbled, flicking through the television channels idly.

“Whatever,” Dean chuckled, pulling his little brother closer. “So, who was the girl?”

Sam’s face suddenly flushed with colour and he looked down, clearing his throat. “She’s just a friend.”

“Yeah right,” Dean scoffed, he knew Sam far too well not to know when he was lying to him. “You were holding her hand, man. What’s her name?” he continued, poking Sam in the ribs gently.

Sam sighed and wriggled out of Dean’s grip, eyes glued to the television. “She’s called Jessica. Now will you leave me alone?” he groaned, face now beet red.

Dean chuckled again, patting his little brother on the back and feeling oddly proud of him. “Well, well, well, little Sammy’s growing up,” he laughed. “Here’s the one and only piece of sappy, romantic advice you’ll ever get from me; treat her right, dude.” He then got to his feet again, ruffling his little brother’s shaggy hair. “What d’you want for dinner?”

Sam shrugged; obviously glad Dean had changed the topic of conversation. “Pizza or something,” he yawned, stretching his huge arms up over his head.

Dean proceeded to hauling a pepperoni pizza out of the fridge and cutting it into slices before stuffing it into the oven. Afterwards, he grabbed the Led Zeppelin CD he always kept in the kitchen drawer and put it in the old, beaten-up stereo that sat mostly unused beside the toaster. As the music started to seep out of the speakers, Dean toed off his boots and twisted the volume knob to maximum. He would never get the chance to do this if his dad was home. He’d yell at him and demand for him to turn it off completely.

Dean whistled along to the music as he laid the table and checked the pizza every now and then. After pulling the slightly burnt pizza out of the oven, he threw a few pieces each onto the two plates and set them down on the table. He called Sam in and they sat down to eat in comfortable silence. Dean poured them a glass of coke each before letting out a loud burp to which Sam shot him his trademark bitchface.

“Ew, Dean,” he murmured, finishing off his first slice of pizza.

“Better out than in, Sammy,” Dean laughed, wolfing down his second slice. “Oh, by the way, I’m going to a party tonight. Will you be okay ‘til dad gets home?”

Sam rolled his eyes, taking a sip of his coke. “I’m fourteen, Dean. Not four. I think I can look after myself for a few hours.”

“Okay, Mr. Grumpy,” Dean replied, as he gulped down his glass of coke. “You still up for a spot of fishing on Sunday?”

Every Sunday, Dean had made a habit of doing something special with his little brother. They used to do it with their dad until their mum died. It started when Dean was ten and they went for a walk together one Sunday night when their ‘uncle’ Bobby had to come to their house to calm their dad down after a particularly bad drunken episode. They had just walked and talked and laughed, pretending that their lives were perfect. Some teenagers read to escape from reality, others drank or did drugs, Sam and Dean spent time together. Because they knew, no matter how bad their realities got, they’d always have each other.

“Yeah, should I make the sandwiches while you’re gone?” Sam asked, settling back in his chair when his plate was empty.

“Okay, just stick ‘em in the fridge once you’re done,” Dean replied, getting to his feet and gathering their dishes. Sam stood too, ready to help.

Dean washed the dishes, making sure they were fully clean before handing them to Sam who dried them, stacked them up and put them away in their proper places. After they had finished, Sam retreated to his room to finish his homework and Dean headed for the bathroom to take a quick shower.

Once Dean got back to his room with nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist, he quickly flipped open his laptop and signed into his instant messenger. A smile crept onto his face when he saw the little green icon beside Castiel’s name, indicating that he was online.

 

D_Winchester says:               hey there

Castiel_N says:                       Hello, Dean. How are you?

D_Winchester says:               gr8 just getting ready 2 go out wbu?

 

Dean left his laptop for a while to search around in his top drawer for a decent pair of underwear. Due to the fact that he might be getting laid tonight, he didn’t want to be embarrassed. So, the pink pair of boxers with big white polka dots were definitely out of the question. He settled for a dark blue pair with a white waistband and towel-dried his hair briefly before hopping back over to his laptop.

 

Castiel_N says:                       Me too. Hope you have a great night.

D_Winchester says:               I will same to u

 

He then walked over to his closet and peered inside. It was messy as hell in there and clothes were just thrown everywhere. He sighed and began grabbing random clothes until he finally found a pair of clean, slightly creased, blue jeans. After slipping them on, he sprinted back into the bathroom, almost sliding on the wet floor. He sprayed a generous amount of deodorant and cologne on before heading back to his bedroom, taking a peek at his laptop.

 

Castiel_N says:                       Thank you. Are we still meeting up tomorrow?

D_Winchester says:               yep 11am @ the mall

 

Even though Dean’s stomach flipped with nervousness at the thought of tomorrow, he decided that he should at least enjoy tonight. So, he pushed it to the back of his mind and searched around in his closet for a clean wearable t-shirt. He finally found a slightly faded AC/DC shirt that was his favourite and slid it over his head with a grin. After tugging on some socks and boots, he gazed at himself in the mirror. Now all he had to sort out was his hair. Thankfully, Dean wasn’t too fussy when it came to his hair. He just grabbed his tub of hair gel, took a small amount between his fingers and ran it through his short hair a few times causing it to stick up slightly but not too much. He stood back and nodded approvingly at his reflection. “You are definitely gonna get laid tonight, my friend,” he said to his reflection, grinning widely.

 

Castiel_N says:                       I gotta leave now. See you tomorrow.

D_Winchester says:               ok cya 2morro

Castiel_N  is now offline

 

Dean grabbed his wallet, keys and phone before stuffing them into his back pocket. He took one last look at his reflection, winking at it before shouting, “See ya, Sammy,” as he headed downstairs and out the front door.

***

When Dean stopped his car outside the Roadhouse at 7:30pm, people were already stood at the door. He stepped out of the Impala and strolled over to the people who he now recognised as Adam, Jo and some girl he’d never met before. Dean could hear the steady beat of music coming from inside the bar as he approached them.

“Knew you wouldn’t let me down, Dean-o,” Jo said as she stepped forward to wrap her arms around him. When she stepped back again, she turned to the girl beside her, urging her closer to Dean. “This is Lisa.”

The girl stepped forward, her dark eyes sparkling as a smile spread across her face. She held out her hand for Dean to shake it. “Hi,” she said softly, her hair long wavering in the light breeze. Dean couldn’t take his eyes off her. She was beautiful.

“Well, hey there,” Dean said with a flirty grin on his face as he took her hand and shook it with one firm shake. “I’m Dean.”

“I kinda guessed that,” she chuckled, looking up at him through her curled eyelashes.

“Oh, pretty and funny? I like you,” Dean flirted, wiggling his eyebrows which caused Lisa to giggle quietly. Dean could hear Adam sigh and see Jo smirk victoriously before patting his back.

“C’mon you two, I’ll get you some drinks,” she suggested, leading the way inside the Roadhouse which was surprisingly packed with people.

As they waded their way through the sea of people, Dean must’ve said ‘hey’ a thousand times to tons of different people. When they finally got to the bar, Jo served them some shots to start off. Dean laughed and downed his easily whilst Lisa erupted into a fit of coughing after her first shot. He rubbed her back soothingly as her face slowly turned from red to normal again.

After filling up on vodka shots and a pint of beer, Lisa dragged Dean out onto the ‘dance floor’. The ‘dance floor’ being the normal bar with all the tables and chairs stacked up in the basement. They danced for a while, pressed up tight against each other as the bodies around them moved to the rhythm of the music. As soon as a Lady Gaga song came blasting through the speakers, Dean groaned and shook his head. He refused to be seen dancing to Lady Gaga no matter how wasted he was. He made a beeline back towards the bar and leaned against it, grabbing an empty plastic red cup and filling it up with beer from a bottle. As he sipped at it, Lisa appeared beside him. She winked at him as she downed another shot and swayed her body in time to the music.

I want your ugly / I want your disease / I want your everything as long as it’s free

What happened next almost seemed to happen in slow-motion. Lisa was laughing at something Ash was doing halfway across the bar and Dean wanted to see what was so funny. He was just in the process of turning around to face Ash when he collided with someone. Dean gasped loudly as the beer in his cup spilled all down the front of some guy’s hoodie.

I want your drama / the touch of your hand / I want your leather-studded kiss in the sand

“Shit,” he cursed, looking up at the guy. He recognised him. It was that quiet guy from his English class. His eyes were wide with shock as he gazed at Dean with an open mouth. “My bad,” Dean chuckled, placing his now empty cup on the counter.

“Dean, you clumsy shit,” Jo laughed, rolling her eyes. She then turned to the wide-eyed boy and gave him directions to her bathroom. He sauntered away, an unsure look on his face as he pushed open the door behind the bar.

I want your love and / I want your revenge / you and me could write a bad romance

After a while, the boy returned, not looking any less soaked than he was before he went to the bathroom. Dean rolled his eyes. This guy seemed like such a loser. Jo stumbled forward, already a little drunk. “Havin’ some trouble there?”

The boy looked down, face flushing with embarrassment. “I can’t seem to find your washroom,” he replied, voice barely audible over the boom of the music.

Jo rolled her eyes and a few people who were watching giggled and whispered. Dean almost felt sorry for the poor guy as he stood there looking like a lost puppy with beer still dripping steadily from his clothes. Jo shot Dean a look that said, ‘help me out here’. Dean sighed frustratedly, glaring briefly at Jo before walking behind the bar and pushing past the guy. He led the way silently towards Jo’s bathroom at the end of the hall.

When they got there, he stopped and held his hand out dramatically. He tried putting on his best bitchface, hoping he looked as threatening as Sam usually did. Although he doubted it, he was slightly tipsy from all the drinking. “Wasn’t so difficult, was it?” he said, rolling his eyes as the guy took a towel gingerly off the rack and began patting the beer-stain on his hoodie carefully.

“Thank you,” the guy said quietly, still gazing down at the stain on his hoodie with a frown.

“Yeah, whatever.” Dean didn’t say anything for a while, he just propped himself up on the edge of the bathtub and watched the guy. “You sit beside me in English, don’t you?”

The boy looked up and nodded sheepishly, the smallest of smiles tugging at his lips. “Y-Yes.”

Dean nodded back, trying not to smile at him. This guy was so shy. Shier than anyone Dean had ever met. It usually would’ve put him off getting to know him. Instead, this time, it proved endearing. It made Dean want to unravel the guy. He even found himself wanting to get to know him. “So, what’s your name then? Just so that I can put it on the cheque when I pay for any damages,” he joked, staring at the stain on the guy’s hoodie and swinging his legs.

The guy frowned, tilting his head to the side slightly as his big blue eyes sparkled with confusion. “You do not have to pay for any ‘damages’,” he said softly, obviously not getting the joke. “My name is Castiel. Castiel Novak.”

Those two words hit Dean like a punch to the stomach and he found himself tumbling backwards into the bath with a pained yelp. Only after a dull throbbing pain shot through his head did Dean realise he’d banged his head against the railing. He let out a groan as he closed his eyes tightly, head thrumming with pain and two words echoing around inside his brain. Castiel Novak.

After blinking a few times, Dean stumbled clumsily out of the bathtub with another groan. When he finally got back on his feet, he noticed that Castiel had moved. He was now standing very close to him, those big blue eyes filled with concern as they gazed into Dean’s. “Are you alright?” he asked, voice so deep that it sent shivers down Dean’s spine.

“Yeah, m’fine,” Dean replied, rubbing the back of his head where an angry bump was already beginning to form.

Castiel still didn’t look convinced and he grabbed Dean’s face with both hands, staring even deeper into his eyes with a look of sheer concentration on his face. Now Dean was getting uncomfortable. Not just because he was alone in a bathroom with a guy who had just turned out to be Castiel. Not just because this guy was standing way too fucking close. Not even just because he’d epically embarrassed himself. But, because he found this guy oddly attractive. He could feel himself getting lost in those mysterious blue eyes and he even found his mussed hair and oversized hoodie slightly cute. And that terrified him. His heart was hammering uncomfortably in his chest and it suddenly felt very claustrophobic in this bathroom.

He stepped away, clearing his throat. “Um … ever heard of personal space?” he murmured, blinking a few times.

“I was checking for concussion,” Castiel replied with a look on his face that suggested this was obvious. “You seem to be fine.”

Dean nodded and moved further away, almost falling back into the bathtub before steadying himself. “Right. Okay. I guess I’ll see you around then,” he mumbled, quickly pushing past Castiel who was now hanging a towel back over the rack.

“You’re Dean, aren’t you?” Castiel asked, causing Dean to freeze again.

What the hell was he supposed to say? ‘Yeah, Dean Winchester, the guy you speak to online. Hah, funny coincidence.’ That just wasn’t what Dean wanted to do right now. He knew he couldn’t just lie about his name, the guy would definitely find out at school sooner or later. Plus, there was just the tiny problem that Dean was slightly … ever so slightly attracted to this guy. Besides, maybe Castiel had figured it all out already. He could feel his chest tightening up at that thought and he desperately needed to get out of here. He needed to think; to get his head around this. Because, he was just so confused … and a little drunk.

So, he did what he always did when his emotions got too jumbled. He put on a mask, complete with a cocky smirk and a turn of the head as he looked back over his shoulder at Castiel who still hadn’t managed to get that stain out of his hoodie. “Dude, I don’t hang around with nerdy book-worms,” he muttered before heading towards the door.

He knew it was a douche move. But, he didn’t care. For Dean, snide remarks and being a general asshole were some sort of messed-up defence mechanisms. When he sensed that someone was getting too close or that he had feelings for them, he would swiftly put his guard up and be a dick to them. He guessed he learnt that from his dad.

“You should get some ice for that,” he heard Castiel say, his voice small and weak. He could hear the disappointment in his voice but he didn’t dare turn around. He knew that if he did, he’d see that lost-puppy look and he couldn’t handle that right now.

When he got back to the bar, he downed another two shots, wincing as the cold liquid burnt the back of his throat. He really wanted to forget what had just happened. A few minutes later, from the corner of his eye, he thought he saw Castiel move swiftly through the crowd and out of the Roadhouse.

After that, the night went by in a drunken blur. Maybe he hooked-up with Lisa in the toilets, but he was too drunk after his eighth shot and second beer to remember or even care. When the party ended and everyone had filtered out of the Roadhouse, Dean gave Jo a hug and stumbled towards the door.

“Where do you think you’re going?” she asked, arms folded against her chest as she stared at Dean with that stern look she’d obviously adopted from her mother.

“Home?” Dean mumbled, pointing towards the door.

“Uh, no you’re not. You’re far too drunk to drive and I am not cleaning up this mess by myself,” she said, gesturing at the floor which was cluttered with plastic cups and half-eaten snacks.

Dean sighed and rolled his eyes before slipping his keys back into his pocket. “Fine. Where will I sleep?”

***

When Dean finally managed to get into a comfortable position in the stupid pull-out bed Jo had set up for him, his thoughts began to drift. They drifted to a place where he didn’t want them to. Blue eyes. All he saw when he closed his eyes were those piercing blue eyes gazing into his. They felt more like they were gazing into his soul; like they already knew all his secrets. Dean tried to shake these images away but it took him a very long time to do so.

It was strange. Dean had been speaking to Castiel for months online. He never once suspected that he might go to his high school. The thought that he’d been sitting beside him in English for the past year, completely oblivious was incredible yet slightly creepy. At least Castiel wasn’t some old pervert. Though, that didn’t make Dean feel any more at ease. Not when he found those mysterious blue eyes so damn hard to get out of his mind.

Chapter Text

Dean Winchester was no stranger to hangovers. In fact, he’d gotten used to having at least one every weekend. He soon realised that this was a very bad thing when he opened his eyes to see the digital clock on Jo’s nightstand reading 07:34.

“Shit,” he cursed as he stumbled off the pull-out bed and to his feet, searching around for his jeans that he had discarded halfway through the night.

“What is it?” Jo groaned, still tucked up in her bed as she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes.

“I have football practice in less than half an hour. Why didn’t you wake me?” he mumbled, finally spotting his jeans and slipping them on quickly. He then stepped into his boots and began to make his way towards the door.

“Dean, I told you that you have to help me clean up that mess!” Jo yelled, but Dean was already sprinting out of the Roadhouse and towards his car.

***

“You’re five minutes late, Winchester,” coach Walker barked as Dean ran past him on his way towards the locker room.

“Sorry, Coach,” Dean muttered, not stopping to explain his tardiness.

When he got to the locker room, most of the team were there getting ready for practice. They acknowledged him with nods of the head and pats on the back as he passed them. He opened his locker and began getting ready. Whilst he was tying his trainers, one of his team mates, Alastair sat down beside him with a grin on his face.

“So, who was the girl you were with last night? Did you get lucky?” he asked, voice loud enough so that all the other guys turned around, eager to hear whatever Dean had to say.

His face was now bright red and he shrugged, grinning. “All you need to know is; Lisa Braedan is a very flexible woman.” And with that, the whole locker room erupted into laughter and wolf-whistles.

During practice, Dean forced himself to focus. No thoughts about blue-eyed strangers. No thoughts about where he’s supposed to be in a few hours. He just focused on the ball. On his feet. This was what he was good at. He was Dean Winchester: captain of the football team. Right here, there was pressure on him, but not as much as at home or in school or with Castiel. Right here, he knew exactly who people expected him to be.

When practice ended some of the guys made their way towards the locker room whilst other gathered around the team of cheerleaders who had also just finished practicing. “Great work today, Winchester,” coach Walker said, giving Dean a firm pat on the back. “Keep playing like that and you’ll definitely get that sport’s scholarship.”

Dean blushed slightly, hoping no one else heard that. He smiled at coach Walker, muttering a quick ‘thanks, Coach,’ before heading over to where the rest of his team were gathered near the benches. He slipped off his shirt and grabbed his water bottle. It was sweltering in the early morning heat, unseasonably warm for the middle of October. He unscrewed the lid and tipped the refreshingly cold water over his head and down his body. A few girls sat in the bleachers made squealing noises, their gazes running over his exposed torso hungrily. He chuckled to himself before gathering his things and making his way towards the locker room.

***

It was 10:30 by the time Dean got back to his car after practice. He sat for a while, his car stereo blasting out some AC/DC whilst he thought. In half an hour, he was due to meet Castiel at the mall. Dean was torn between not turning up at all or meeting him and telling him that they shouldn’t speak anymore. Either way, he couldn’t just turn up after the way he treated Castiel last night and expect everything to be absolutely fine between them.

As he pulled out of the school parking lot, his decision was made. He was going to go straight home, hide-out until 1pm and try not to think about Castiel and how disappointed he will look when Dean stands him up. He tapped his steering wheel in time to the music, trying to take his mind off things. Somehow, those blue eyes crept into his mind in more than one occasion.

To Dean’s utter annoyance, when he arrived home, Jo’s blue car was parked right outside his house. She was stood, leaning against it and talking to Sam. Dean sighed frustratedly, rolling his eyes as he stepped out of the Impala.

“Hey there, Dean-o,” Jo said, a smug grin on her face as she walked toward him. Sam waved at Dean before returning to the house, obviously he’d just came out to keep Jo entertained until Dean had arrived.

“What’re you doing here?” he asked with a nervous chuckle, even though he damn well knew why she was stood right in front of him.

Jo folded her arms across her chest; that stern look on her face. “You know why I’m here. C’mon, let’s go meet your big gay crush.” She turned around to open her passenger door for Dean to get in.

“I can’t,” he said quickly, looking away.

“Why not?” she asked. After waiting a few silent moments for an answer, she began to chuckle, shaking her head in mock disbelief. “You’re nervous, aren’t you? Dean Winchester is nervous! I always knew you were at least a tiny bit Human.”

“I’m not nervous!” Dean protested, glaring at Jo who seemed to be finding this whole situation way more entertaining than he was. “It’s not that.”

“Then what is it?” She looked at her watch briefly. “It’s 10:44, Dean. We’ve gotta go now.”

Dean stayed silent for a long while just staring at his feet. Suddenly, Jo punched him hard on the arm. “Ouch! What the hell was that for?” he asked, rubbing his arm irritably.

“Being a pussy,” she said simply, shoving Dean into the passenger seat and slamming the door behind him.

“Jo!” Dean yelled, trying to get out of the car. But it was already moving before he knew it.

“Suck it up, Winchester. We all get nervous sometimes,” Jo chuckled, speeding down the road.

“This is not nerves,” Dean said, feeling his chest tighten up and his stomach flip. Okay, maybe it was a little bit of nerves. He sighed frustratedly, gazing out the window and folding his arm, mirroring Jo’s earlier actions. “You don’t understand.”

“You’re right. I don’t understand why you’re being such a girl about this,” she mumbled, turning the corner as the mall came into view.

“You will when you see him,” he murmured, half to himself, as he tried to keep calm.

***

The mall was crowded with people when Dean and Jo entered. Dean’s hands were shaking as he glanced around, ready to dart back out the minute he spotted Castiel. Jo stayed close, also glancing around with a huge, excited grin on her face.

“So, any idea what this guy looks like?” she asked, pulling Dean down to sit on a nearby bench.

“That’s the problem,” Dean mumbled, rubbing his face frustratedly.

“What the hell are you talking about?” Jo asked, her eyes now fixed on Dean, demanding an explanation that he really didn’t want to give.

“I can’t meet him because… I already have,” he said, watching people pass by them as they sat.

“What?!” Jo shrieked, eyes wide as she tugged at Dean’s arm trying to get him to look at her. “You’ve met him? When?”

Dean sighed heavily, frowning as he peered around again. He hoped that Castiel had forgotten or he decided to stand Dean up. That would make this whole situation so much easier. “Last night. At the party,” he said, turning to glance at Jo who now looked shocked and slightly confused.

“But I was with you the whole time, Dean. How could you have met him last night?” she asked, frowning.

“He was the guy I spilled my beer over,” he said, grimacing slightly at the memory.

“No, he couldn’t have been,” Jo said, chuckling and still looking confused. “That guy’s name is James. James Novak. He’s in a few of my classes at school but that’s all I know about him.”

Dean’s eyebrows furrowed. “James?” he asked, bewildered. Now he was the one who was completely confused. “He told me his name was Castiel.”

Jo’s eyes suddenly seemed to sparkle with recognition as she gazed at some point over Dean’s shoulder. “Well, Castiel or James is now stood right over there looking pretty nervous,” she said, smiling widely.

Dean’s chest suddenly felt a lot tighter, his stomach giving an uncomfortable lurch. He couldn’t do this. He physically couldn’t move. “Jo,” he whispered, shaking his head. “I can’t.” This nervousness and guilt was crippling. It was paralysing.

“Dean,” Jo said, a comforting tone to her voice as she placed her hand on his arm, still gazing over at where Castiel… or James or whatever was stood. “What’ve you got to lose by going over to talk to him?” she asked.

Dean could answer that damn question with one word. Everything. If he went over there and talked to him and got to know him, then he’d want to see him more. They’d get close and Dean knew where it would eventually lead. He couldn’t allow that to happen. He just couldn’t.

He peered behind him and, sure enough, Castiel was stood, all alone, glancing around. He had an oversized, green hoodie on. It had words on it but Dean was too far away to make out what it said. Then there were those black jeans which looked far too tight on Castiel’s thin legs. Castiel kept glancing down at his phone, nibbling his bottom lip slightly. Dean couldn’t help the small smile that crept onto his lips at the sight of those sparkling blue eyes which were soon to be filled with disappointment, yet again. Dean couldn’t look anymore with that thought in mind.

After a few more moments, he swiftly got to his feet and began making his way out of the mall as quickly as possible. He could hear Jo sigh as she followed close behind him. When they got outside, Dean took a deep breath, stopping to compose himself.

“Whoa, Dean, you can be a real douchebag sometimes,” Jo said, walking ahead of Dean with a frustrated look on her face.

“Jo, you don’t get it.”

“You’re right, I don’t. Because you don’t tell me a damn thing anymore,” she said angrily, still walking.

“Fine. You wanna know why I don’t wanna see him?” Dean asked, grabbing Jo’s arm.

She stared at him for a few silent seconds before nodding.

“I freaked out when I found out who he was at the party. I was kinda… rude to him,” Dean said, looking away.

Jo squinted curiously. “What d’you mean ‘rude’?”

Dean sighed, rolling his eyes as a slight blush crept onto his cheeks. “I called him a nerdy book-worm.”

Jo stared at him for a few long moments before bursting into laughter. “You think he’s a nerdy book-worm? James Novak? Whoa, you really don’t know the guy,” Jo laughed, shaking her head.

Now Dean was really confused. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Find out for yourself and stop being such a judgemental dick.”

***

Dean avoided his laptop completely when he arrived home. He couldn’t deal with messages of ‘where were you?’ right now. He quickly changed into his old blue jeans and a white t-shirt before grabbing his keys and leaving the house again.

Bobby looked surprised when Dean turned up half an hour early for work. Dean just gathered his toolbox and began to work on an old beaten-up jeep which had been standing in Bobby’s yard since last weekend.

Dean liked working at Bobby’s garage. It gave him a sense of achievement. As he fixed the cars, it made him feel like maybe he didn’t screw everything up all the time. At least he could do something right here. He was good at it. Maybe Dean couldn’t fix things with his dad, maybe he couldn’t fix all the mistakes he’d ever made in his life, but the thought that he could at least fix these cars gave Dean some level of comfort.

Plus, there was the fact that Bobby was cool. He’d bring out an ice-cold beer for Dean on his break and they’d lean against the old rusty cars and joke and laugh about pretty much nothing. There was no pressure here. Not like at school or home or even on the football field. There was a real relaxed atmosphere at Singer’s garage. Dean had even begun to view Bobby as a second dad. Sometimes Bobby seemed like a much better father figure to Dean than John had ever been.

***

When he got home, his dad had cooked some spaghetti with a spicy Italian sauce. Dean was left surprised at how good it was. They all sat around the table; Sam, Dean and John. They talked and laughed just like a normal family. Even though Dean knew better than to get his hopes up, he couldn’t help but want to get used to this. Especially when he gazed across the table to see Sam with a huge, happy grin on his face. He had to remind himself that this would not last. Their dad would probably be drunk tomorrow. So, instead, he enjoyed this rare night of family unity and laughed when his dad cracked lame jokes, trying hard to make sure this night was etched into his permanent memory.

After Sam went to do homework as usual, Dean helped his dad with the dishes before heading to his room. He decided now was as good a time to get it over and done with. His laptop switched on with the familiar jingle and he took a calming breath. This was stupid, why was he so nervous and worried about standing up some weird kid?

When he finally picked up the courage to log into his instant messenger account, Castiel wasn’t online but there were three unread messages from him.

Castiel_N says:                       So, where were you today?

Castiel_N says:                       If you didn’t want to meet me you should’ve just said so.

Castiel_N says:                       Never mind, I get it…

After that message, there was nothing else. Dean’s heart felt heavy with guilt as he re-read the messages slowly. All he could see in his mind were those blue eyes filled with hurt. He sighed, placing his fingers on the keyboard of his laptop. He didn’t have a clue as to how to apologize to Castiel. He didn’t know where to start. Dean desperately wanted to apologize for everything. For standing him up earlier, for treating him like shit at the party last night and for just being a general asshole.

D_Winchester says:               things r just complicated atm I didnt mean 2 stand u up

It was the best he could come up with at the minute. He settled back into his swivel chair and frowned at the laptop screen. He didn’t know what else to say. What he had said was completely true. Things were totally complicated in his life right now. He was trying to focus on football, wanting desperately to get that scholarship whilst also trying to keep up this act in front of his friends. Dean wanted to make everyone happy, no one more than his dad. He wanted his dad to be proud of him. Maybe that would make everything okay if his dad was proud. He wanted his dad to feel that warmth in his heart that Dean got when he looked at Sam.

With one last look at the screen, Dean logged off and shut down his laptop. After stripping down to his usual boxers and t-shirt, he slipped into bed and pulled the covers up over his head. Yet again, those blue eyes haunted his thoughts and guilt settled in his stomach. He knew he was coward, but he had good reason to be. At least that’s what he told himself.

***

The sun shone down on them as they settled back on the grass. Sam held a fishing rod in his hands as he gazed out over the lake which seemed to sparkle in the sun. It was peaceful out here. Nothing but the sound of birds chirping happily as they flew high above them and the sound of the occasional fish leaping out of the water only to dive back in within a blink of the eye.

Dean lay back on the grass, tucking his hands underneath his head. The salad sandwiches that Sam had made were long gone and a lone piece of apple pie was sat in a box at Dean’s side ready to be eaten.

“I like this,” Sam said quietly, breaking the comfortable silence.

Dean smiled, eyes closed contentedly as he hummed in agreement.

“Remember when we used to do this with dad?” Sam asked, still gazing out over the lake as a Heron bird flew low close to the water surface.

Dean frowned. Of course he remembered. Every Sunday, without fail, their father used to take them fishing or hunting or out to a football game. He knew that Sam missed that and, if he was being honest, Dean kinda missed that too. Those times seemed like a lifetime ago now. Back when their mum was still alive and their dad wasn’t an alcoholic and they were a real family. Now, they were just a far cry from what they used to be. Dean couldn’t help but blame himself.

“Yeah,” he sighed, propping himself up on his elbows so that he could watch Sam.

“Remember that one time—“

“Don’t,” Dean snapped, shaking his head. “Don’t do that whole ‘memory lane’ thing. Yeah, things used to be way better than what they are now. But, we’ve just gotta move on and focus on the right now. Okay?”

Sam was silent for a few moments before nodding slowly. It was a while before either of them spoke again. After Sam finally caught his first trout of the day, Dean suggested killing it and taking it home for dinner. Sam, the mother Teresa figure that he was, quickly unhooked the fish and let it swim away with a smile on his face. Dean sighed, watching the fish disappear under the water before turning to his brother. There was a strange, unreadable expression on Sam’s face; a mix between contentedness and nostalgia.

“I’m sorry,” Dean muttered, trying not to frown.

Sam turned to look at Dean, eyebrows furrowed and a frown on his lips. “For what?”

“That dad doesn’t do this with us anymore.”

“That’s not your fault, Dean. Why are you apologizing?”

Dean could never bring himself to tell his little brother why. He knew it was better if Sam didn’t know. So, he just shrugged, averting his gaze to the horizon where the sun was slowly beginning to set.

He tried not to think about what tomorrow held. Turned out it was hard to follow your own advice about only thinking about the present. English was just after lunch tomorrow and Dean really didn’t want to see Castiel. He didn’t want to see the hurt in those big blue eyes. Because he knew just how much of a dick he’d been at the party, and he didn’t want to face having to sit beside him for almost an hour. It wouldn’t be that hard to ignore Castiel; Dean had been doing it for months. But, somehow, he had a feeling that it was going to be way more difficult to just ignore this guy from now on.

“We should get back,” he suggested, getting to his feet. He could feel his brother’s curious gaze on him and was relieved when he stayed silent, letting the topic go as quickly as it came up.

As they drove back home, Sam sat in the passenger seat and Dean gazed over at him with a warm smile. He reached over with his free hand to turn on the radio. Bob Dylan’s voice seeped out of the speakers as they made their way down a seemingly endless road. The sun set lazily behind them, casting an orange glow across the evening sky.

It’s gettin’ dark / too dark for me to see

Dean smiled as he moved his head to the slow beat of the music. “Knock, knock, knockin’ on Heaven’s door,” he sang, slightly out of tune as he nudged Sam, gesturing for him to sing along too.

Sam chuckled loudly and began singing along. And, for one moment, just one perfect moment; their lives were good. Their lives were easy. And Dean was content for the first time in a long time.

Knock, knock, knockin’ on Heaven’s door

Chapter Text

The minute Dean’s alarm clock went off the next morning, he felt like pushing the ‘snooze’ button and just ignoring everything. He really didn’t want to go into school and face Castiel. But, he knew it was stupid; avoiding school like some stupid girl just because he’d been a little rude to the guy he sat beside in English. Because that’s all Castiel was; the guy that Dean sat beside in English. Absolutely nothing more than that.

So, he forced himself out of bed and into the shower. Afterwards, he attempted to calm his nerves by taking a few bites of toast and some coffee. His dad was still passed out on the couch when Dean left the house. That meant he had to give his little brother a ride to school.

“C’mon, Sammy! We’re late already!” Dean shouted as he started the Impala’s engine.

“Like you care,” Sam muttered as he left the house, slinging his bookbag over his shoulder.  Something wasn’t right with him. He didn’t look nearly as chirpy as he normally did this time in the morning. Dean frowned as he watched Sam get into the passenger side and slam the door behind him.

“Dude, careful with my car,” Dean growled, reversing carefully out of their driveway before glancing at Sam warily. “Something wrong?” he asked as he took a right turn.

“No,” Sam mumbled, turning his head to look out the window with his arms crossed in front of his chest.

Dean sighed heavily. Okay, he didn’t want to get into talking about each other’s feeling either. But, he was worried. Sam wasn’t usually this moody. Maybe he fell out with that girl he’d been hanging out with. Hopefully they’d sort things out soon if that was what was wrong with him.

***

After an awkward drive to school, Sam got out of Dean’s car quickly and headed inside. Dean parked his car and took a deep breath before getting out. Seemingly out of nowhere, Jo was by his side.

“I’m still angry with you, Dean,” she muttered, walking beside him without looking at him at all.

Dean chuckled softly, rolling his eyes. “Then why are following me?”

“Because,” Jo began, dragging out each syllable unnecessarily longer. “No matter how much of a complete and utter dick you are to others around you, I’ll always be here to tell you how much of a complete and utter dick you are. I think you really do need me to tell you that every now and then.” She patted Dean on the back a few times with a grin on her face as they entered the school and made their way towards their lockers.

“You’re like the annoying little sister I never had… or wanted,” Dean said with an over-dramatic sigh to which Jo punched him on the arm.

“So, d’you have English today, Smart-ass?” Jo asked just as they arrived at their lockers. She began entering her combination code on her padlock carefully as she glanced at Dean a few times.

Dean sighed, tugging open his locker which really needed a clear-out. How could his locker be so full and messy when they weren’t even half-way through the semester yet? “Uhm, yeah. Lesson after lunch,” Dean muttered, feeling sick just thinking about it.

Jo must’ve sensed Dean’s anxiety because a minute later she threw a piece of crumpled-up paper at him. “Hey, don’t worry. Okay? Everything’s gonna be fine,” she said with a soft tone in her voice and a warm smile on her face. Dean knew that Jo wasn’t good at talking about feelings. That’s why they got along so well, because Dean wasn’t exactly great about talking about his emotions either. But, he always knew one thing; Jo would always try to comfort him, even if she couldn’t get him to talk about things.

Dean shot her a reassuring smile before beginning to rummage through his untidy locker to fish out his Economics and Maths textbooks. Afterwards, he closed over his locker and stuffed the textbooks into his backpack. “I guess I’ll see you at lunch then,” Dean mumbled.

“Yeah, whatever,” Jo said, slinging her backpack over her shoulder and giving Dean a half-hearted salute as she walked away.

As Dean made his way to Economics, he asked himself why he was so freakin’ nervous about English. He’d been sitting beside Castiel for the past month in English and last year he’d sat beside him in Science. Not once had either of them spoke to the other. So, why was it so nerve-wracking for Dean? Was it because Dean knew who Castiel… or Jimmy or whatever really was now? Was it because Dean was feeling guilty about what happened on Friday night? Or was it because he was internally freaking-out over the fact that he found Castiel (or Jimmy, or whatever) strangely attractive?

***

As with every time that he was anxiously waiting for something that he didn't want to do, time seemed to fly by. Dean found himself wishing, for the first time ever, that his Maths lesson was just a little bit longer when the bell rang signalling the start of lunchtime. It sounded more like a warning bell to Dean. Warning that it was getting closer and closer to the time that he’d have to face Castiel and see those big blue eyes yet again. His stomach swirled with nausea at the thought.

When he got to his usual lunch table in the cafeteria, there were a few more new faces crowded round the table. The first one he recognized as Cassie from his religious studies class. She was sat beside an excited looking Lisa. Beside Jo were Anna and Pamela as usual. At the other side of the table sat Adam, Ash and a girl with fiery ginger hair and large, black-framed glasses. 

“Hey, guys,” Dean said as he took a seat beside this new girl he’d never met before who shot him a timid smile and went back to gazing down at her phone. The rest of the table acknowledged him like they usually did with Ash giving him a fist-bump.

“Hi, Dean,” Lisa replied, giving him that dazzling smile and twirling a strand of her long, dark hair between her fingers. “I had fun on Friday.” She grazed her teeth over her bottom lip and winked at him flirtatiously to which he grinned and chuckled.

“So did I,” he said before digging in to his burger. He knew she wanted some kind of ‘we should do it again sometime’ promise. He could tell by the way her shoulders slumped slightly and her face didn’t look as excited anymore. But, Dean just wasn’t that type of guy. Yeah, he thought Lisa was cute and all, but Dean Winchester did not do dating. He had tried that once a long time ago and it didn’t work out at all. It left him miserable and humiliated. No way was he going through all that again.

“Oh, by the way,” Jo began, pausing to take a sip of her coke before setting it down and continuing, “Dean, this is Charlie. Charlie, this is Dean.” Jo gestured toward the unfamiliar red-head and Dean held out his hand for her. After an awkward handshake, Charlie began to blush slightly.

“I know who he is,” she muttered, lowering her head a little as if she didn’t mean to say that. “I mean… hi!” she chirped with a nervous chuckle.

“What did you mean? How did you know who I am?” Dean asked, not accusingly, just curiously. “Please tell me you’re not some kind of stalker.” He took a large bite of his burger, gazing over at Charlie who was now fiddling with her phone anxiously.

“No, of course not. I’m just a good... hacker,” she mumbled, smiling awkwardly at Dean.

“Good?! No, Dean. She’s very good,” Jo interrupted. “Last year I needed some dirt on that jerk Garth after he threatened to post those embarrassing pictures of me drunk onto Facebook if I didn’t go on a date with him. Two hours. It took her just two hours to get me a lifetime worth of black-mail material on that guy. Let’s just say, he deleted the photos right away.” Jo chuckled to herself victoriously before turning her attention to Pamela who had just spotted a hot guy across the cafeteria.

Dean laughed, turning to look back at Charlie who was still working on her phone. “So, you can get info on anyone?” he asked, taking a sip of his drink and trying not to look too interested. Which he totally was.

Charlie shrugged and looked up at Dean as her glasses perched low on her nose. “Well, I’ve never failed. So, that must be a good sign,” she chuckled and then furrowed her eyebrows slightly. “Why? Who do you need dirt on?”

Dean thought silently for a while. Would it be bad to ask her for info on Castiel? It wasn’t like he was going to turn out to have a big secret life or anything. The guy seemed pretty cookie-cutter clean. “Not dirt,” Dean replied, leaning closer and lowering his voice slightly. “I just need basic info on someone.”

“Who?” Charlie repeated, her attention now fully on Dean.

“A guy called Castiel Novak,” he whispered. “He’s in my English cla—"

“What?!” Anna interrupted, glaring at Dean with a suspicious look on her face. “Why do you need information on my brother?”

Dean felt his heart leap into his throat and he cleared his throat, leaning away from Charlie. Damn it, he had no idea that Anna was Castiel’s sister. He shrugged, putting on his best uninterested smirk and keeping his cool. “I-I don’t. It’s just… a friend of mine has a huge crush on him.” He could hear Jo laughing softly at his answer and promptly kicked her leg underneath the table.

Anna nodded slowly, rolling her eyes. “Why can’t she just go up and get to know him or something?”

“Things are kinda… complicated between them right now,” Dean replied, finishing off his burger with a frown. Truer words had never passed his lips. Things were complicated between him and Castiel. Maybe he should just man-up and go speak to him. But, the nervous nausea in his stomach and the thoughts of things that could go wrong in his head prevented him from doing so.

“I can get you the information by the end of the day,” Charlie said, not looking up from her phone.

Dean wiped his hands on his jacket and shot Charlie a grateful smile. “Thanks. How much do I owe you?” he asked, pulling his wallet out of his back pocket.

Charlie glanced up immediately and shook her head. “No, I don’t charge,” she laughed. “I do, however, request that you tell me exactly how you use the information. But, we can talk about that later.”

The bell rang a few minutes later and Dean groaned exasperatedly. Jo shot him a warm smile before they all made their separate ways towards the first of their afternoon classes. Dean contemplated skipping English and hanging out in the school library or something. Though that would be the easy way out and Dean wasn’t that type of guy. So, as much as he really didn’t want to, Dean trudged to his locker and pulled out his English and Geography textbooks before making his way slowly towards his English classroom.

When he got there, most of the class were already in their seats including Castiel. He sighed wearily and slumped down onto the chair beside the mussed haired boy who barely even acknowledged him. After taking his notebook, pen and textbook out of his backpack, Dean threw it to his feet and settled back in his chair waiting for Mr. Shurley to start the lesson. Dean didn’t dare to look at Castiel. He didn’t want to see those eyes and that hair and those lips and—

“Good afternoon, class,” Mr. Shurley said and Dean fixed his gaze on the tired looking teacher for the first half of the lesson, just barely getting some notes jotted down.

“So, your first project of the semester is based around poetry,” Mr. Shurley said, writing some authors’ names down on the board. “I will put you all into pairs and you must write a poem together on the topic I assign you both.”

Dean could feel his heart-rate pick up in his chest and he was silently pleading for Mr. Shurley to pair him up with anyone but Castiel. Please not him, Please not him, Please not him. “James Novak, you’re paired with Dean.” Dean could hear some people snickering around the classroom and he rolled his eyes, burying his face in his hands. Apparently, Castiel (or James) wasn’t too happy about this either judging by the way Dean could hear him sighing.

As Mr. Shurley continued to call out the pairs, Dean lifted his head and turned to face Castiel, picking up the courage to say, “Thought you said your name was ‘Castiel’.”

Castiel gazed at him for a few silent seconds, head tilted to the side slightly. “Forgive me, my full name is James Castiel Novak. I usually go by ‘James’ or ‘Jimmy’. I reserve the name ‘Castiel’ for people whom I assume are worth getting to know.” He then paused, a frown forming on his lips. “Please just call me James,” he muttered, turning to face the front of the classroom again.

Dean felt his heart wrench painfully in his chest with guilt, hurt and slight embarrassment. He knew that the way Castiel… James was treating him was directly because of what happened on Friday night. Rendered temporarily mute by Castiel’s words, Dean spent the rest of the lesson worrying about how the hell they were going to get along long enough to get this stupid poetry project done.

At the end of the lesson, Dean began putting his books away into his backpack before turning to look at Castiel who was doing the same. “So, how are we gonna do this?” Dean asked, slinging his backpack over his shoulder.

“Huh?” Castiel asked, looking like he’d just shaken himself out of a world of his own.

“The project,” Dean reminded him, holding back an annoyed sigh.

“Oh, yes. Well, if you prefer me to do it and put your name on it too, I can do that,” Castiel suggested, voice slightly cold as he began making his way out of the classroom making no move to wait for Dean.

“What? No, of course not,” Dean said, walking after him. “How about library after school tomorrow?”

“Whatever,” Castiel muttered, still walking far ahead of Dean as the corridor filled with students. Dean soon lost him in the crowd of teenagers making their way towards their last class of the day.

***

At the end of the school day, Dean made his way toward his locker. He was still thinking about how he was paired up with Castiel of all people to do a freakin’ English project. Fuck his life and his stupid bad luck. When he got to his locker, Charlie was leaning against it with a grin on her face and a folder in her hands.

“Here’s the basic info you asked for,” she said, reaching out the dark purple folder for him. Dean tried to take it but she pulled it away again with a chuckle. “You’ve gotta tell me why you needed this.”

Dean sighed, rolling his eyes. “Like I told Anna; a friend of mine has a massive crush on the guy. She’s a bit shy though,” he lied, trying to grab the folder.

“That’s cute,” Charlie replied with a knowing smirk. She then finally handed him the folder. “Good luck.” She then gave him a Vulcan salute and began making her way towards the exit.

Dean took a deep breath, staring down at the purple folder he now held in his hands. It had the words ‘James Castiel Novak’ written on the front in black, permanent marker ink. He knew that this was nothing more than basic information on Castiel. But, somehow, he felt as though by reading this he was violating the guy’s privacy. It couldn’t be that bad, right? With a sigh, Dean stuffed the folder into his backpack and opened his locker.

When he was making his way towards his car, he saw Sam leaning against it, waiting for him. He still had that look on his face from this morning that screamed ‘I don’t want to talk to you’. Dean got into the driver’s seat in silence and Sam climbed into the passenger side. The kid had to crouch over slightly just to fit inside. He was a giant and it made Dean feel as though he was the youngest.

“Stop growing, dude,” he joked, starting the engine.

“I will, once you start growing,” Sam retorted, a grin finally spreading across his face. Dean hoped that it would stay that way. He still wondered what had got his little brother’s boxers in a twist this morning, though he pushed it to the back of his mind. Dean had way more pressing matters at hand right now.

Chapter Text

Dean sat on his bed staring down at the purple folder he’d just pulled out of his backpack. He flipped through it idly a few times. There were four pages filled with carefully typed-out information and on the inside of the front flap was a message from Charlie that read, ‘I did not give this to you. Understand?’ Dean chuckled to himself and turned to the first page. It started with general information such as; ‘Name: James Castiel Novak’ and ‘D.O.B: 23rd December 1994’. Then it began to get more personal. ‘Mother: Rachel Novak (deceased) Father: n/a’

Dean’s eyebrows furrowed. Castiel’s mum was dead and there was no information on who his father was ... Why? Who does he live with then? He read further on and came to a section that said, ‘Legal Guardian: Missouri Moseley’ So, Castiel was adopted? Dean’s head was starting to hurt. This was slightly confusing. ‘Siblings: Michael Milton (25), Gabriel Milton (21), Anna Milton (17)’. Okay, even more confusing. ‘Milton’? Wasn’t Castiel’s last name ‘Novak’? Maybe reading this information wasn’t such a good idea in the first place.

The next part of the folder continued on with Castiel’s other personal information such as his address and telephone number. There was also a section on his school attendance which was only 68% with the average for their year being 95%. Why was Castiel absent so much?

The next part basically documented his performances in school. He was apparently a straight-A student in almost every class. Castiel was also involved in some clubs, ‘Creative writing club, Art club and GSA club’. Dean’s eyes widened slightly. Castiel was a member of the Gay-Straight Alliance club? Did that mean he was gay? Dean didn’t really know what went on in those meetings. He’d seen the flyers around school and heard people talking about it but he didn’t really know what it involved. He also didn’t know how he felt about the possibility of Castiel being gay. It was something he was trying not to think about.

Dean had thought that this folder of information would answer all of his questions. It turned out that it just brought up tons more unanswered questions. Dean shut the folder over and stuffed it back into his bag. His head was now pounding with confusion and questions that he was itching to know the answers to. He rubbed his face frustratedly before laying back on his bed with a sigh.

He began to almost replay their relationship up until now in his head. Last September, when they were placed beside each other in Science class, they didn’t talk or even look at each other. This September, when they were placed together in English class, yet again they didn’t acknowledge one another. Then finally, last Friday when they spoke to each other for the very first time. Although, it wasn’t the first time. They’d been messaging online for months beforehand. It was almost like …

Then Dean remembered something. Had Mr. Shurley used Dean’s full name when pairing him with Castiel in class today? He quickly sat up and scrambled off his bed to switch on his laptop. Shit. He was full-on freaking out right now. What if Castiel had already figured it all out? If he had, Dean didn’t know what to do. He didn’t like the fact that the guy knew quite a lot about him and he’d even grown to think of him as a friend before he even met him. It was a really bad idea from the very beginning. Only, Dean just realized that right now at the last minute. It was too late to save anything if Castiel did know.

After signing in to his messenger, he noticed a familiar icon signalling that Castiel had replied to the messages he had sent him on Saturday night. There was one that was sent early this morning and one that was just received right now as Castiel was online.

Castiel_N says:                       I said I get it, Dean.

Castiel_N says:                       Hello, Dean.

Dean let out a breath he didn’t even realise he was holding. Castiel didn’t know. Thank god. He sat back in his swivel chair, relief flooding through him as he took a few deep breaths before leaning forward and replying.

D_Winchester says:               Hey Castiel. S’up?

Castiel_N says:                       Not much.

D_Winchester says:               Look dude I didn't mean 2 let u down on saturday

Castiel_N says:                       Okay.

D_Winchester says:               Sooo we good?

Castiel_N says:                       …

Castiel_N says:                       How long have you known, Dean?

Dean could feel his heart drop and his stomach churn uncomfortably. He knew what Castiel was meaning. Turned out all that relief he’d just felt mere seconds ago was for nothing. He sat back again, covering his face with his hands, trying to figure out what to say. All that was going through his head was; shitfuckshitfuckstupidstupidstupid. He finally decided to just play dumb with his next reply.

D_Winchester says:               What?

Castiel_N says:                       That you sit beside me in English class.

He could feel his breathing becoming rapid and his heart pounding in his ears and it was all getting too much and his chest was tightening up and … He suddenly clicked ‘sign out’ and closed down his laptop as if it would stop this situation from becoming reality.

There were a few reasons why Dean was so freaked-out at that moment. One was because he was stupidly (and frighteningly) attracted to Castiel and he’d told him a lot about himself online. Two was because he was so afraid. This opened so many new doors for their friendship and Dean couldn’t let that happen. He couldn’t let their friendship become anything more than just that. In fact, he didn’t want friendship anymore. He didn’t want anything. He just wanted Castiel to disappear and never come back. It was so much easier when it was just ‘Castiel: that guy on the internet’.

***

The next day, English happened to be first lesson. Dean’s anxiety levels were high as he entered the classroom. To his surprise, the seat beside him was empty. Usually, Castiel would be one of the first students to arrive in class. Not today though. Maybe he was just late or something.

Dean couldn’t help but feel relieved and just a tiny bit disappointed when Castiel didn’t turn up for the entirety of the English class. Mr. Shurley passed out project folders to everyone and gave them the topic on which their poems were to be written. They were one-word topics with no further information given. Dean peered down at the sheet of paper in front of him with the word ‘happiness’ on it. How ironic, Dean thought, he didn’t even know the feeling of ‘happiness’. Not really.

Castiel was supposed to meet him in the library after school today, but it turned out that he wasn’t in school at all. Dean sighed as he closed his locker after lunch. Now he knew what Castiel must’ve felt like when he had stood him up on Saturday.

***

On his drive home, Dean’s thoughts turned to Castiel again. There was probably nothing to worry about; he’d probably be in English bright and early tomorrow. But, the percentage on that paper just kept popping into his mind. 68%. So many possibilities as to why Castiel was absent so much whirled through his brain. Soon, he managed to shake it off and tell himself that everything was okay and Castiel was okay. Why was he so worried about the freak anyway? It’s not like they’re friends or anything … right?

When Dean arrived home, he could hear commotion coming from the kitchen. He closed the front door quietly and crept towards the kitchen door, eavesdropping. He could see his dad leaning against the counter, rubbing a hand over his face in exasperation as Sam was shouting loudly, his deep voice booming through the kitchen and in to the living room where Dean was stood.

“You’re useless, Dad!” Sam yells. Dean leaned over a bit from where he was pretending to watch television and he could see Sam stood in front of their father, hands balled into fists at his side. “I asked you so many times to never drink again. D’you even remember what you said to me last time, huh?”

John sighed, eyes now trained on the floor beneath his feet. He looked as if he just wanted the floor to swallow him up and Dean couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. “Sam, don’t,” he breathed, sounding exhausted.

“Don’t what?! Don’t tell the truth?! Don’t show you what you’re really like?” Sam let out a humourless chuckle. “The truth hurts, doesn’t it?” There was a brief pause before Sam spoke again, his voice slightly more quiet. “You promised me you’d never do it again. You broke your promise, Dad. How could you do that?”

“You don’t understa—"

“Don’t! Don’t you dare give me that crap!” Sam yelled, anger rife in his trembling voice. Dean contemplated walking in and stopping all this, telling them both to shut the fuck up and leave each other alone.

He could see John lifting his head to look into Sam’s eyes and he could’ve sworn he saw tears glistening in his father’s eyes. “Sammy, I do not want to have this conversation with you. You’re too young. Now go to your room,” he said loudly, pointing in the general direction of the stairs.

“Don’t call me ‘Sammy’!” Dean then heard Sam letting out a frustrated growl before there was the unmistakable sound of a plate smashing against the floor. He jumped up from the couch and sped into the kitchen where, sure enough, there was a broken plate laying on the ground just inches from his dad’s feet.

The silence that filled the kitchen after Sam’s outburst was deafening. The only sounds that could be heard were those of Sam trying to calm his heavy breathing. Dean cleared his throat and looked at his dad before glancing at Sam. He then crouched down to begin picking up the pieces of the broken plate carefully into his hand.

Soon after, Sam stomped off to his room, trying to control his rage. He even slammed his bedroom door shut which made both Dean and John startle. After retrieving the broken glass, Dean threw it all into the rubbish bin with a quiet sigh before turning to look at his dad. He looked worn-out, devastated and totally heartbroken. Dean took a few steps towards him before placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. “It’s gonna be okay, Dad.”

John turned his head to smile sadly at Dean before nodding slightly. Without saying a word, he shrugged Dean’s hand off his shoulder gently and made his way towards the fridge. After taking out yet another beer bottle, he flicked off the lid and gulped at it for a solid five minutes before sighing and closing his eyes. Whilst watching all this, Dean felt incredibly helpless. “Dad, I don’t thi—"

“Don’t you have homework to do, son?” he asked abruptly, taking another swig of his beer before heading towards the living room. Dean sighed, standing alone in the kitchen for a few minutes trying to think of a solution. He couldn’t find one.

He hated witnessing his family fighting. Sam looked so angry tonight that god knows how far his argument with their dad would’ve gone if Dean hadn’t have been here to break them apart. They never fought when his mum was alive. She would know how to solve every single conflict so easily. Guilt settled deep in Dean’s conscience as he thought of his mother and how things would be so much different if she were still alive. Because he knew, deep down, that this really was entirely his fault.

Chapter Text

Things had calmed down considerably by the next morning. Sam had even prepared a delicious breakfast of pancakes and syrup for them. Their dad was sobered up enough to clean himself up and eat breakfast with them. He even asked how they were getting on at school. As usual, Sam was able to tell him that he was getting straight As in every class. John gave his youngest son a firm pat on the back with a proud grin on his face. Dean couldn’t help but feel proud of his little brother too. When asked how he was getting on at school, Dean just muttered a ‘fine’ and squeezed more syrup over his pancakes.

Dean could tell that Sam was feeling guilty about last night. Firstly, there was the fact that he’d gotten up early just to make breakfast and throw out all their dad’s empty beer cans which had littered the living room the night before. Then there was the way he was talking to his dad and being as polite as possible, ‘want more coffee, Dad?’ Dean could almost see the ‘sorry’ on his little brother’s lips. But, he knew better than anyone that it was going to remain unsaid. Winchesters never apologize. Especially not to each other.

***

Dean’s first class was World History with Miss Hawkins. Many of the guys in the class normally spent the whole lesson checking her out. Even Dean couldn’t help himself when she accidentally dropped her pencil and had to stoop to pick it up, causing an uproar of silent wolf-whistles around the classroom. 

When he got to English class, the seat beside him was empty again and he was still no further forward with his project which was to be completed by Friday. He sat through the whole lesson trying to come up with at least the first damn line of the stupid poem. But, all that was whizzing around in his head were thoughts like, ‘I wonder if Castiel’s okay,’ and ‘I’ve been a real jerk to that kid.’ He then came up with a plan. Since he knew Castiel’s address (from the folder of info Charlie got him), he would visit him after school and try to get the poem done. Yeah, it seemed like a pretty good plan. And that way, he’d be able to see Castiel again. Not that he desperately wanted to or anything …

***

At lunch, the lunch table was its usual chaotic self. Jo was sat on Adam’s lap with her tongue down his throat. Anna and Pamela were talking about guys as usual, with Anna glancing over suspiciously at Dean every now and then. Ash was trying to show Dean some new app he’d downloaded, something about a ‘virtual glass of beer’. But, Dean wasn’t listening to any of that. He was in his own world, trying to figure out what to say when he got to Castiel’s later.

He was finally forced out of his thought-bubble by Jo stealing one of his fries from his plate. Adam had left to go to lacrosse practice, leaving Dean to deal with Jo’s antics. She grinned mischievously and nudged his leg with her foot underneath the table. “You okay?”

Dean nodded quickly, taking a sip of his coke. “Yeah, I’m fine. Why?”

“You just look a bit …” She paused, pouting out her lips as if she were searching for the correct words to use. “Out of it today.”

“I am not ‘out of it’,” he chuckled, taking a big bite of his burger and rolling his eyes.

Jo smirked, peering around the cafeteria for a second before leaning in close and whispering, “It's your big gay crush, isn't it? He not here today?”

Dean glared at his best friend and flicked one of his fries at her. “Shut up … But, no, he’s not.” He tried not to frown, but failed and looked down at his tray.

He could hear Jo sighing softly. “Dean, stop feeling sorry for yourself,” she said, sounding scarily like her mother.

“I’m not—"

“Yes, you are,” she interrupted, gazing at him with a stern expression on her face. “Now, you have two choices; you either treat that guy right and stop being a dumb, spineless dick.” Dean gasped at that, rolling his eyes. “Or …” she began, stealing another one of Dean’s fries with a smirk. “Just ignore him, forget him and get on with your life. Your choice, Winchester." 

After a few moments of silent eating, Jo began to talk again. “Oh, I almost forgot … I need some advice,” she said, smiling at Dean.

“And you think I’m the one to be giving you this advice because …”

“Because you’re a guy and you know what guys like,” Jo replied, grinning.

“Oh, no,” Dean groaned, shaking his head and moving away. “No, I’m not giving you sex advice.”

Jo gasped and slapped his shoulder with a laugh. “That’s not what I meant, dumbo,” she laughed. “I meant what should I get Adam for his birthday?”

Dean breathed a sigh of relief, the last thing he needed was to be giving Jo awkward advice on how to please Adam in the bedroom. “Um, I dunno. Personally, I think he’d be happy with a beer and shaving cream or something.”

“I got Inias a really nice body spray. That way, he can smell great when we go out,” Pamela chimed in, winking.

“Who’s Inias?!” Anna asked with a huge, interested grin on her face.

Pamela simply laughed and tapped the side of her nose with her index finger, obviously staying silent on the matter. After a few more minutes of idle chit-chat, Jo rose to her feet, patted Dean on the head and began making her way out of the cafeteria.

“Dude, seriously. This thing is some trippy shit, give it a try,” Ash said, shoving his iPhone into Dean’s hands with an enthusiastic grin on his face.

***

For the rest of the day, Jo’s words buzzed around inside Dean’s head. They wouldn’t leave him alone. All through Algebra and Biology, Dean couldn’t take his mind off what Jo had said.

Dean knew that he had been more than a jerk to Castiel ever since Friday night. He had freaked-out and thought that being an asshole was probably the best protection from Castiel getting too close. They had become such great friends online, but that’s all it was. Online. Dean had almost felt as though he had two separate lives; one online and one in real life. He never thought that the two would suddenly become one. It was his worst nightmare.

It was strange; the places people would have sudden, possibly life-changing revelations. Dean had one in Biology class whilst dissecting a pig’s heart with his lab partner Max Miller. Basically, it went like this; Dean was making small talk with Max, somehow he found out Max used to be friends with Cas— James. Max began telling Dean how nice James was and how, even though he hadn’t hung out with him in ages, he was a great friend and always there for him whenever he needed him.

Dean was never one to believe in fate or destiny. But, he took this as a sign. It helped him make up his mind. He was going to go with Jo’s first choice. He was going to try to get along with Castiel. He was going to go to his house tonight and apologize, get their stupid poem done and maybe offer to be friends. But, that didn’t mean he was going to be best buddies with this kid. Dean still had issues with people getting too close to him. Though there was nothing wrong with apologizing for being a jerk, right?

***

When he stopped the Impala outside Castiel’s house, he peered out the window. It was a huge, white farmhouse with a wide front porch and a red door. The windows had bright blue shutters and there was a garage connected to the right side of the house. There were many colourful flowerbeds lining the pathway leading towards the porch and two vibrant red-maple trees at either side of the house. It really was breathtaking along with a bright, homely feel to it. At least on the outside.

Nervous butterflies fluttered around inside Dean’s stomach as he stepped out of his car, grabbed the project folder and made his way towards the porch steps. Once he was standing in front of the door, he almost ran back to his car again. Why was he so nervous? After forcing himself to suck it up and be a man about it, he finally pulled back the large golden knocker and knocked confidently a few times before stepping back and trying to decide what to say.

“Hey … um … we should really get this project done,” he muttered to himself, staring down at his feet before sighing heavily. “No.” He then cleared his throat and tried again, “Hi, you haven’t been in school, we need to get this done by Friday. How about we—“

Suddenly, the door swung open and Dean’s head snapped up to see a tall, blond guy standing there. “Can I help you?” he asked, his tone of voice suggesting that he really didn’t want to ‘help’.

“Uh … Yeah,” Dean began, straightening himself up a bit, feeling a little small under this guy’s icy gaze. “I was just wondering if Ca—James is home. We’re meant to do a project together and—“ All of a sudden, the guy snatched the folder out of Dean’s hands and flipped it open, looking down at it with a bored expression. Dean huffed out a breath, raising his eyebrows. Well, this guy seemed like dick of the century.

“I’ll give it to him,” he muttered before moving to close the door right in Dean’s face. But, just before he could do so, a friendly looking black woman appeared wearing an apron which was splattered with flour.

“Michael! Don’t be so rude, boy,” she chastised, smacking the guy over the back of the head. Michael grumbled something under his breath before leaving to jog up the staircase. “What can I do for ya, sweetie?” she asked, cleaning her hands on her apron as she shot Dean a warm smile.

“Uhm … James and I were supposed to do a project in school together. It’s due for Friday, he hasn’t been in school since Monday,” he said. “I was just wondering if he’s gonna be in tomorrow.”

The woman, who Dean guessed to be Missouri, frowned and shook her head. “I’m sorry, Jimmy’s ill with the flu at the moment. I don’t know when he’ll be back at school,” she replied.

“Oh,” was all that Dean could say, nodding like an idiot. He’d pretty much made a fool out of himself. “Okay, well, tell him I said ‘hi’ and ‘get better soon’.” He then began to make his way down the porch steps and back towards his car.

“Wait!” the woman called. “What’s your name, honey?”

“Dean,” he said softly. “Dean Winchester.”

“You a friend of his?” she asked with a soft expression on her face.

Dean didn’t really know how to answer that. His ‘friendship’ with Castiel had been a confusing and rocky one. He nodded slowly, although he could tell by the look on Missouri’s face that she wasn’t buying it. So, instead, he murmured truthfully, “I dunno.”

Even though a small frown appeared on her lips, Missouri nodded understandingly. “I’ll let him know you called ‘round.”

***

In English the next day, the seat beside Dean was still empty. This was Castiel’s third day absent in a row. Dean was worried, and not just about the stupid poetry project. He was worried about Castiel. That number floated around in his head again, 68%.

Mr. Shurley reassured Dean that it was fine if he couldn’t get the project done by tomorrow. He knew that Castiel had been absent and told Dean that they could do it together next week if needs were.

As Dean sat silently with his head resting on his hand, watching everyone else do their projects with their partners in class, he realized that maybe Castiel was staying off to avoid him. Maybe he couldn’t stand Dean’s asshole attitude and decided to skip school until the end of this project. That made Dean feel horrible and even guiltier. He needed to make this right.

***

That night, Dean sat on his swivel chair by his desk and signed into his messenger on his laptop for the first time in a few days. He sighed sadly when he saw the grey symbol beside Castiel’s name which told him that he was offline. With a right-click of his mouse, he chose the ‘send message’ button and began typing out the best apology he could think of (without use of the word ‘sorry,’ of course).

D_Winchester:           Look Castiel I hope ur not skippin skool becos of me. I kno I was a jerk 2 u but things have been real complicated 4 me. I really didnt mean to be an asshole. Hope u can make it 2 skool tomorro Im no good at poetry lol

Chapter Text

Dean was at his locker first thing next morning as usual. He tugged his Algebra textbook out from underneath his gym bag which was also stuffed messily into his locker. Just as he was about to close it, his locker door was suddenly slammed shut and behind it stood an angry looking Castiel with a folder clutched in his hands.

“Goodmorning to you too,” Dean grumbled, trying to act as if he wasn’t fazed by Castiel’s sudden appearance by slipping his textbook into his backpack.

Castiel scowled, rolling his eyes. “I’ve completed our poem,” he muttered, shoving the folder against Dean’s chest roughly which caused him to stumble back slightly.

After he snatched it over-dramatically, Dean straightened himself up and shot Castiel a bitter smile. Castiel looked tired … exhausted even. “Well, good for you.” If Castiel was going to be a moody dick, Dean had the right to be one too.

“You really need to get over yourself, Dean Winchester,” Castiel growled, taking one smooth step forward so that he was right up in Dean’s personal space. He could feel Castiel’s puffs of breath against his lips as he glared into those furious, unrelenting, blue eyes which glared right back into his. Dean couldn’t help but feel just a little intimidated. And maybe a little ... just a little more attracted to Castiel after hearing his name pass those gorgeous pink lips.

“I can’t,” Dean replied, smirking a little. “I’m too tall.” Of course he had to relieve some of the tension between them by throwing back a smart-ass comment. It was what he was good at.

Castiel simply sighed frustratedly, shaking his head a little but never once taking his intense gaze away from Dean’s as he continued, “For your information, I was not ‘skipping’ school because of you. Contrary to your personal beliefs, the world does not revolve solely around you.” Dean smirked again, pushing his chest out as inconspicuously as possible. He probably didn’t look half as threatening as he would’ve liked too. “Not that I am obligated to explain myself to you.”

“Look, dude, I don’t particularly care why you weren’t at school. I just needed to get a good grade on this project,” Dean said, determined to stare Castiel down.

Dean watched as a flicker of emotion spread across Castiel’s face, but it disappeared as quickly as it arrived, returning to his normal stoic expression. He opened his mouth to speak again, but Azazel appeared out of the blue, resting a strong hand on Castiel’s shoulder. Those cold, blue eyes seemed to widen slightly with what could only be fear.

“This weirdo givin’ you trouble, Dean?” he asked with an evil grin on his face as he gazed at Castiel.

Dean chuckled humourlessly, eyes still locked on Castiel’s. “Nothing I can’t handle.”

After a few moments of silence, Azazel stepped back, patting Castiel on the back harshly which caused his whole body to wobble a little. “Keep outta trouble, Jame-sy. Remember what happened last time you bothered a member of my team?” he said, voice so low, dark and sinister that it sent shivers down Dean’s spine. Like nails grating down a blackboard. He then shot Dean a cocky, lopsided grin before turning on his heels and striding away down the corridor confidently.

Dean could feel Castiel breathing a sigh of relief when Azazel disappeared down the hallway. He looked incredibly pale and Dean found himself wanting to ask Castiel if he was okay, but that would defeat the whole purpose of not backing down.

"A simple ‘sorry’ would’ve been satisfactory,” he murmured, a frown on his lips as he took a few steps away from Dean.

“Castiel—“

“It’s ‘James’ to you,” he snapped, eyes glaring again. “And I would appreciate it if you didn’t just turn up at my house uninvited in the future.”

Dean sighed and rolled his eyes, finally tearing his gaze away from those eyes. It wasn’t backing-down, it was simply avoiding conflict. “Whatever,” he muttered, slinging his schoolbag over his shoulder just as the bell rang. “Well, James, this little confrontation has been fun. But, I really need to get to class now.”

As he turned to walk away, he could hear Castiel sigh heavily and could almost feel that icy staring boring into the back of his skull. 

***

The rest of the morning consisted of Dean trying to concentrate in Algebra class but having his thoughts constantly on those eyes. Those eyes that held so much emotion. Those eyes that felt as though they could stare into Dean’s very soul and see all his deep, dark secrets that he dared not tell anyone. 

When Dean entered English class, Castiel was already sat in his usual chair. Dean felt strangely happy about that. He had to force down a smile that threatened to spread across his lips as he sat down beside the blue-eyed boy.

Thankfully, Dean didn't have to endure the awkward silence for long as Mr. Shurley made a prompt appearance. He asked for their projects and told them they'd have to present them to the class on Monday morning. Dean sighed. He wished that he had taken a closer look at Cas-- their poem now.

 ***

 "I see your big gay crush is back at school," Jo muttered as Dean took a seat at their usual lunch table.

 "Yeah well, we're not exactly on the best of terms at the minute," he sighed, gazing down at his lunch with a dreary expression on his face.

 Jo frowned and Dean could've almost been tricked into thinking she felt sorry for him. That was until she started speaking. "It really is no one's fault but your own," she said, grabbing a chip and throwing it into her mouth. "You're the one who can't man-up and go make friends with him. Why complain when you could be doing something about it?"

 Dean glared at her for a few seconds before beginning to eat his lunch unenthusiastically. Maybe Jo was right. Maybe Dean should be taking control and actually making an effort with Castiel instead of shying away all the time. But that would open the doorway for a whole new level of 'complicated'. This was far too deep thinking for lunch time.

 "Anyway, you're coming to Ruby's houseparty with me tomorrow night," Jo informed him.

 "Jo, I don't really--"

 "No!" Jo snapped, pointing a finger at Dean sternly. "You are not sitting at home on a Saturday night sulking and feeling sorry for yourself, Dean. You're coming with me and that's final."

Dean didn't have the energy or will to protest. So, he just sighed and continued eating. Besides, maybe it would be good to go out and forget about Castiel for one night.

Chapter Text

It was already six o’clock on Saturday night and Dean should’ve really been ready at that point. Especially with all the texts Jo had been sending him telling him that he better be early to pick her up at 6.30 sharp. He sighed as he fixed his hair in the mirror. Just as he turned around to grab his keys, he could’ve sworn he saw that little red icon pop-up on his laptop screen. A frown appeared on his lips when he realized it must’ve just been the light. He didn’t know why he wished so badly to have that anonymity with Castiel back again. To have that sense of excitement every time his laptop made a chiming sound. But, unfortunately, he’d never have that again.

***

“This is Dean,” Jo shouted over the boom of the music as she introduced him to a short, dark-haired woman who smiled at him before handing him a drink.

The woman leaned closer to Dean so that she could whisper right into his ear, “I’m Ruby. And, if blond, pretty-boy guys were my type, you’d be first in line, sugar.” She then leaned back and winked at him before stalking off into the heart of the party in the living room, leaving Dean standing open-mouthed, eyebrows furrowed.

“What’s with the sour-face?” Jo asked, laughing at the look on Dean’s face before downing another shot.

“I am not a ‘pretty-boy’,” he said, grimacing. “Or ‘blond’ … am I?”

Jo let out a howl of laughter as she set her shot glass down and patted Dean on the back, shaking her head. “Drink up, Winchester. Then you’re gonna come dance with me.”

Dean immediately shook his head. “Absolutely not. You know I can’t dance, Jo,” he protested, taking a few steps away from his blonde-haired friend who was already downing her third shot. Jo turned to take one look at Dean before nodding, seemingly standing down from her attempt at getting Dean to go to the dancefloor with her.

“Okay, sure,” she said softly, tilting the drink Dean had in his hand up so that he could take a big sip of it. It almost spilled down his shirt but he managed to lean forward enough to stop it.

***

Stupid Jo. Dean made himself a promise right then and there never to go out partying with Jo ever again. He made that promise after three beers, two shots and some weird tasting alcoholic drink that Jo had forced down his throat before dragging him out to the living room ‘dancefloor’. Now he was dancing … actually, no, scratch that. He was now being pushed and bumped up against by a group of drunk, high and totally out of control teenagers. And, if he wasn’t currently one of them, he was pretty sure he wouldn’t be in this position right now.

He was shook out of his drunken thoughts by the sight of a familiar shaggy-haired boy who was definitely way too young to be at a house party. Dean pushed his way through the crowd to get to the boy who was stood with his back to him. He almost wished that when he went to place his hand on the boy’s shoulder and turn him around that it didn’t turn out to be ...

“Sam?” Dean asked, blinking a few times, finding it hard to see in the dark even though Ruby had set-up some cheap strobe lights that just made everyone’s head hurt. “What’re you doin’ here?” He knew he sounded ridiculously drunk. But, he was allowed to be. He was allowed to be here. He was the eldest. Sam was only fifteen.

Sam didn’t look at all shocked by his older brother’s obvious drunken state. But Dean could tell something wasn’t right with Sam. He was standing weird, there was a permanent amused grin on his face and he couldn’t look straight at Dean. “Just havin’ fun, big bro,” Sam replied with a loud giggle. Shit. He was wasted.

Dean rolled his eyes and grabbed his little brother’s arm. “I’m takin’ you home.” Just as he pulled Sam a little, a wave of weird, sweet-scented odour drifted from Sam’s direction. Dean knew that smell and his eyes instantly widened. Sam wasn’t drunk. He was high.

Just as this realization hit him, Ruby appeared, holding out a plastic cup of beer for Sam who took it with that stupid grin of his. “Oh, hey, Dean,” she said, her breath stinking of booze and marijuana. 

Dean glared at Ruby before snatching the cup from Sam’s hand and threw it away. “No. You’re going home. Now!” Dean shouted, dragging Sam out of the living room and towards the front door where Sam tugged away.

“You’re not Dad, Dean,” Sam giggled. Dean could see more clearly in the light shining in the hall that Sam’s pupils were dilated way beyond normal.

“I’m calling you a taxi. You’re gonna go home and get sobered up before Dad gets there. You hear me?!” Dean yelled.

“Why is it every time I wanna have fun you ruin it?” Sam slurred, pouting over-dramatically as he stumbled a little, trying to get closer to Dean in order to look more intimidating.

Dean just rolled his eyes and sighed heavily, rubbing his hand over his face. He then looked back at Sam with disappointment in his eyes. “Please tell me that was your first time trying that shit, Sammy,” he pleaded, hoping that it was. It would be easier to deal with it that way.

Sam seemed to hesitate before nodding slowly. “Yep,” he chirped, flipping his hair out of his eyes.

All Dean could do was nod and believe him. Because why would his sweet, innocent little brother lie? Dean looked up to his little brother way more than he probably should. He wouldn’t want the thought of his little brother as a stoner to get in the way of his perfect image of him. The uncorrupted little fifteen year-old who was way too smart and mature for his age. Dean was way too proud of him to be able to think of him like that.

***

After sending Sam home safely in a taxi, Dean sighed heavily, rubbing his eyes. He couldn’t believe how bad the night had been and it wasn’t even midnight yet. Dean began to walk, needing the fresh air and the quiet, peaceful silence. He made his way towards the empty playpark.

As he got closer, he noticed a figure of a guy ... and not just any guy. Too bad Dean was already at the damn gate. It would look stupid to turn around and walk away now. Although a little voice in his head was screaming for him to just forget his pride and walk the hell away. But, Dean’s stubbornness got in the way and he decided against following his head. The gate’s hinges squealed as he pushed it open, causing Castiel to turn around on the swing, his puffs of breath coming out as fog in the cold night’s air.

“Hey,” Dean said softly, straddling the swing beside Castiel so that he could face him as they spoke. He didn’t know why exactly he was speaking to Castiel. Even though his heart was racing in his chest and he was shaking a little from the coldness of the air, this felt … right.

“Thought you’d be at Ruby’s party,” he replied quietly, barely turning his head to look at Dean.

Dean huffed out a breath and rolled his eyes as he pushed his feet a little, causing the swing to move him side-to-side slowly. “I was. It was … boring,” he chuckled humourlessly as he continued to gaze at Castiel through the darkness.

Castiel turned his head a little, staring at Dean with that same emotionless expression as he always had. “Why are you talking to me, Dean? I thought, judging by your actions, that you wanted nothing more to do with me.”

“Honestly? I don’t know why I’m talking to you. I don’t know much of anything anymore,” he replied, frowning a little as he looked away from Castiel’s stare.

He could hear Castiel shifting a little on the swing, but couldn’t look up again. This was just way too much emotion to be spilling to one person on one damn night for Dean. “Something happened at the party?” Cas asked calmly. How did he do that? Was Dean really that obvious?

Dean looked back over at Castiel with a frown. This reminded him of how close they were online. He used to tell Castiel pretty much everything. He stayed silent for a few long moments before deciding to confide in Castiel. “Sam was high and we had an argument,” he sighed, looking away again.

“Sam’s your brother. You guys will work things out,” he replied, voice sounding so soothingly deep. Dean couldn’t help but believe him. He gazed back up into those piercing blue eyes. The way Castiel was trying to comfort him made Dean feel terrible for the way he’d treated him this past week.

There were a few minutes of comfortable silence. Dean then decided to say what they were both no doubt thinking, “Us … being friends. It really wouldn’t work out. You know that, right?” Dean asked, chancing a glance over at Castiel. He knew it would just end in disaster, heartbreak or maybe even both. And he couldn’t have that.

Castiel sighed and nodded. “I get it. You wouldn’t want to be friends with someone like me anyway.”

Dean’s eyebrows furrowed a little and he scoffed slightly. “You make it sound like you’re a really horrible person,” he chuckled.

Castiel shrugged, looking down at his feet as he kicked at the gravel aimlessly. Dean sighed again, not really knowing what to say to that. It seemed Castiel had a really weird view of himself. Dean thought Castiel was a great person; the only person who would willingly listen to his stupid, trivial problems this late at night.

“Look, dude. I’d really just rather get along with you. We don’t have to be best buddies, just … civilised.” He couldn’t believe he was doing this. The fumes off Sam must’ve gotten to him. He was already drunk after all. Or maybe it was just the fact that he simply missed their late-night online chats and wanted to hear more of that soothing, deep voice. “So, what d’you say?”

After a few moments of silence, he was rewarded with a blue-eyed stare, a head tilt and eventually a slow nod and a small ghost of what could only be a smile on Castiel’s lips. “I suppose we could try that.”

Chapter Text

The next afternoon, Dean was woken up by the sound of someone vomiting. He groaned and stepped out of bed, making his way towards the bathroom where he was met with the sight of his little brother stooped over the toilet, heaving up the contents of his stomach. Dean sighed, shaking his head as he walked over to hold back a sweaty strand of Sam’s hair which had stuck to his forehead.

“Please tell me you’ve learnt your lesson,” he said, bringing his other hand up to pinch his nose so that he wouldn’t have to smell the horrid smell of Sam’s vomit.

Sam grumbled something under his breath, clutching his stomach as he nodded weakly. “Yes, Dean,” he groaned before lurching forward and spewing up another fresh fountain of stomach acid and last night’s dinner.

Dean sighed and nodded, walking over to the cabinet to get a cloth before soaking it in cold water and sitting down on the bathroom floor. He dabbed his little brother’s pale forehead with the cool cloth. “Where’s Dad?”

“Couch,” Sam rasped, resting the back of his head against the wall, breathing heavily from the effort of throwing up. “Probably got drunk again last night.” Dean couldn’t help but frown at Sam, still holding the cold cloth to his feverish forehead, earning him a roll of Sam’s eyes. “Don’t look at me like that, Dean. You know what he’s like.”

“He’s fine, Sam,” he lied, trying his best to divert this conversation. He knew rightly that their dad was far from ‘fine’. Dean wasn’t stupid. He knew what his dad was. He just couldn’t bring himself to think about it, much less talk about it.

Sam’s eyes went wide and he shook his head in disbelief. “You can’t honestly think that. Have you seen him lately?!” he asked, voice a little louder and higher than usual.

“Calm down,” Dean murmured, pressing the cold cloth to Sam’s neck.

“Calm down?! What do y—“

“Goddamn it, Sammy!” Dean shouted, throwing the cloth to the side and getting to his feet. “You want me to tell him what you were up to last night?”

That seemed to quieten Sam as he pursed his lips together, glaring at Dean. Even though they both knew that Dean would never say anything to their dad about what happened last night. After a few moments of silence, Dean left the bathroom with a heavy sigh.

He made his way downstairs and into the living room where his dad was stretched out on the couch, snoring softly and surrounded by empty beer bottles. Dean began to clean up, stuffing all the bottles into a rubbish bag before cracking open the windows to eliminate the stench of alcohol. That was when John stirred on the couch and groaned as he rubbed the sleep out of his bloodshot eyes.

“’Mornin’, son,” he grumbled, sitting up straight and stretching out his limbs.

Dean shot his dad a small smile and fluffed-out some of the pillows on the couch. “Afternoon actually,” he replied. He heard his dad sigh a little and get to his feet.

“Where’s Sam?” he asked, not seeming to notice how Dean had just tidied up the room for him.

“Upstairs. He’s ill.” Well, it seemed better than saying, ‘He’s upstairs throwing his guts up because he sneaked out last night and got high and drunk at a house party.’ At least this way there’d be no argument.

John seemed to buy it, nodding slowly before making his way towards the kitchen. Dean was glad that he didn’t have much explaining to do. But, he somehow wished that he could tell his dad about Sam’s antics. Sam hardly told Dean anything anymore and that worried him. After seeing him like that last night, it was frightening. He just hoped that he’d never see his little brother in a situation like that ever again.

Dean then stalked off to his bedroom where he slumped down onto his swivel chair and logged on to his messenger on his laptop. To his utter, never-to-be-admitted joy, Castiel was online and had already sent him a message.

Castiel_N says:                       How are things with Sam?

A smile spread across his face. No one had ever shown as much care about small things in Dean’s life like Castiel did. It made him feel cared for. He supposed that was why he liked Castiel so much; because he actually showed that he listened to Dean’s ranting.

D_Winchester says:               Better thanks. Hes sick now though which sux cos we usually hang out 2gether on a Sunday. How r u?

Castiel_N says:                       I’m good, thanks. How are you?

D_Winchester says:               A little tired but ok :-)

Talking to Castiel online, knowing his real identity, now was really weird for Dean. But, it was also a little easier. There was no longer that fear of the unknown or the worry that he was faking who he really was.

He then got an idea; one that he wasn’t sure was an entirely good idea. Since Sam was ill, he’d have no one to hang out with today. Jo would be getting over her hangover and Ash would be doing last minute assignments. There was only one other person he would actually want to hang out with.

D_Winchester says:               Wanna hang out 2day?

It took a while for Castiel to reply. Dean was twirling himself around on his swivel chair, wondering if he’d ever get a reply. After ten minutes of waiting, Dean was ready to just tell him to forget about it. Then, suddenly, he got a reply.

Castiel_N says:                       Yes. I’d love to. Where should we meet?

Dean didn’t know why his stomach filled with those stupid butterflies at the prospect of actually hanging out with Castiel. He was both nervous and excited at the same time. All he knew was, he wasn’t going to stand him up this time.

***


After deciding to meet at the park that they met at last night, Dean spent almost an hour getting ready. He took a shower, picked out clothes (a yellow Hugo Boss shirt and blue jeans), fixed his hair in the mirror, slipped on his leather jacket and checked in on his brother who was now lying in bed fast asleep.

Just as Dean was about to open the front door, he heard his dad mumble from the living room, “Where you going?”

“Out with a friend. I’ll be back early,” Dean sighed, rolling his eyes as he stood still with his hand on the door handle.

His dad stayed silent for a while before grunting and saying, “Be back by nine.”

After that, Dean slipped out of the house and made his way towards the park. Nervous butterflies did somersaults in his stomach as he shoved his hands into his pockets. The walk to the park took less than ten minutes and when he arrived, Dean slumped down onto the swing. The park was completely empty. After five minutes waiting, Dean was starting to get impatient. His mind then began telling him that maybe Castiel wanted to get him back for standing him up last week.

He was just about to get up and leave when he noticed Castiel and his messy dark hair, wearing an oversized red hoodie with an image of a panda on it and tight black skinny jeans with black Vans on his feet. There were no words to describe how cute Dean thought Castiel looked at that very moment. And since when did he describe guys as ‘cute’ anyway?

Dean almost stumbled over his own two feet to get up off the swing like an idiotic teenager with a crush when he noticed him. Castiel shot him a small smile, but there was something … off about him. As he got closer, Dean noticed the dark bags under his eyes and the faint redness around his eyes. 

“Hey,” Dean muttered, trying to act cool, calm and collected by leaning casually against the swing. On the inside though, his emotions were going crazy.

“Hello, Dean,” Castiel sighed as swiped his hand over the seat of the swing before shrugging to himself and sitting down carefully. “How are you?”

Dean swallowed, eyes on Castiel as he sat down again on the swing beside him. Castiel was gazing absently at the ground as he scuffed his feet against the gravel below them.

“I’m good,” Dean replied. He briefly, inconspicuously, and possibly unconsciously checked Castiel out. Damn, his legs were so skinny in those jeans. “You?”

Castiel shrugged again, averting his gaze away from his feet and up to meet Dean’s gaze (more like stare). “I’m fine,” he said in a tone of voice that suggested he was used to giving that response when asked that question.

Dean nodded and then there was silence as they gazed at each other. The intensity of Castiel’s blue-eyed gaze sent shivers down Dean’s spine. He didn’t know why his gaze flickered between Castiel’s eyes and his lips a few times. Was he really developing a crush on Castiel? Sure, he knew he was attracted to him. Ever since that party where his identity was discovered he knew there was something about him that made his heart skip a damn beat. He’d kept it a secret ever since, hoping it would somehow magically go away. But, now he realized it hadn’t gone away. And, that was a problem. A very big problem. 

“So, what’re we gonna do?” Castiel asked, that deep voice shaking Dean right out of his thoughts.

Dean shrugged, looking around. “How about we go get an ice-cream?” He knew there was an amazing ice-cream shop nearby and he hadn’t been there in months. Castiel seemed to like the idea, because he immediately stood up and shot Dean a faint smile. 

They walked to the ice-cream parlour in comfortable silence. Dean couldn’t help but glance at Castiel every now and then. He noticed little things like the way he chewed on his bottom lip a lot and the way the sleeves of his hoodie were always hanging over his hands. There was no doubt about it, Dean found Castiel fascinating. Maybe a little too fascinating. Maybe even … more than fascinating.

***

“Butter Pecan ice-cream in a large cone, please?” Castiel asked, handing the money over the counter to the waitress who was smiling brightly at him. Dean wrinkled up his nose. He hated butter pecan flavoured ice-cream, it was horrible and brought back memories of when Sam threw up all over him one time when they were kids after eating that stuff.

After having his little reminiscent moment, Dean noticed Castiel looked at him funny, tilting his head to the side a little and squinting slightly. “What?” Dean asked, blushing a little under that intense gaze. The way all Castiel’s attention was concentrated on him made him feel a little nervous. He was still holding the belief that Castiel could see right into his soul.

Castiel shook his head, standing to the side so that Dean could order his own ice-cream. “Nothing,” he muttered. “I just thought you’d be … different.”

“Double Chocolate chip sundae,” Dean said politely, flashing the pretty blonde waitress a charming smile before handing her the money. He then turned back to look at Castiel again, eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “Different? Different how?” 

“Just … I thought you’d be like the rest of the football team,” he said, shrugging as his barely-there smile faded slowly. “But you’re not.”

Dean chuckled, still feeling a little puzzled. “I hope that’s a good thing.”

That small smile was back on Castiel’s face as he nodded. “It is.”

***


After getting their ice-creams, they made their way back to the park. Castiel had finished his ice-cream long before they got there, with Dean captivated by those lips and that tongue.

Dean sat back down on the same swing he was on earlier. To his surprise, Castiel just sat right down on the ground. Dean stared at his back for a while, finishing off his ice-cream which was making his head hurt a little. He then stood up, threw his plastic bowl and spoon into a nearby bin and sat down cross-legged beside Castiel who was now lying down, gazing up at the cloudless sky. Dean scooted down until he was lying down too. He tucked one hand beneath his head and rested the other in the space between them as he got comfortable. 

The ground was a little cold against his back as he gazed up into the dusky sky. It was that time of night that the sky wasn’t fully dark but some of the stars were already beginning to appear. The sky was a dark indigo colour with a few bright stars dotted across it. It was a quiet night and the only sounds that could be heard were those of Dean and Castiel’s steady breathing and the odd car passing by on a nearby road. They lay there silently for a few moments, just taking in the peace and letting the chilly autumn night’s air nip at their noses.

“So, how is Sam?” Castiel asked, turning his head so that he could look at Dean.

Dean continued to stare at the sky as he replied, “Hungover, ill and lucky he’s got such an awesome big brother who won’t tell Dad what he was up to last night.” He chuckled with very little humour before letting out a soft sigh.

“Sam’s lucky to have you, Dean,” Castiel commented and when Dean turned his head to gaze into those blue eyes, there was a level of sincerity in them that made him almost want to believe those words. But, his inner guilt managed to claw its way through and remind him that Sam would still have a mother if it wasn’t for him.

He cleared his throat and tried not to frown as he rolled his eyes. “Yeah. Sure,” he said sharply with a smirk.

“You don’t believe it?” Castiel asked suddenly, doing that head tilt thing that made Dean’s stomach flip.

Dean gazed into those shining blue eyes with his mouth open slightly. He didn’t know what to say to that. Of course he didn’t believe it. But, it was the fact that Castiel could tell that he didn’t believe it. Castiel could see right through the walls and it made him feel horribly vulnerable.

He was brought back to reality when he felt a warm hand rest gently on top of his. He gasped a little, his heart now racing in his chest as he gazed down at Castiel’s hand which was now resting comfortingly over his own.

“You’re a good person, Dean. You shouldn’t think so low of yourself,” he said, voice nothing more than a low, honest whisper.

Dean was now shaking a little and if he were asked why, he’d blame it on the coldness. Because, it couldn’t be because of all the emotions running through his veins at once. Castiel was making him feel so many things that it was getting so hard to breathe.

After a few moments, Dean pulled his hand away from Castiel’s and sat up quickly. He took a deep breath before stumbling to his feet. His head was spinning a little and all he wanted to do was run away.

“Are you okay?” that deep voice asked from right behind him and he felt a soothing hand rest gently on his shoulder. 

Dean nodded and turned around with a confident smirk on his face, trying to hide the fact that he didn’t know what the hell was happening to his emotions right now. “’Course I am,” he lied. “We should get home though, it’s getting cold.”

***

Trying to fall asleep when your mind is racing and butterflies are doing somersaults in your stomach is one of life’s most difficult tasks. And Dean learned that as he lay staring at the ceiling at 1:32a.m. on a damn school night (or morning, whatever). There was only one thing on his mind. More specifically, one person

He turned onto his side with an irritated sigh. Why was he acting like a teenager with a stupid crush? Maybe that was exactly what he was. He didn’t want to admit to himself that he liked Castiel a little more than he acted like he did. He didn’t want to give Castiel that advantage over him. It was far too risky. He couldn’t let anyone – never mind Castiel, who was a damn guy! – get too close. These new feelings he was experiencing terrified the hell out of him. And he didn’t know how to cope with them.

***

It was lunchtime, somehow. Dean was pretty much half-asleep when he sauntered into the cafeteria with a sleepy yawn. As he was trying to choose between a burger and shepherd’s pie, he accidentally bumped his arm with the next person in line. 

“Sorry, dude,” he said before glancing up to meet those blue eyes and smiling face.

“The shepherd’s pie is really good,” Castiel commented, taking a big bite of his apple before smirking at Dean’s indecisive expression. God, the things that smirk did to Dean.

Dean chuckled nervously, face flushing slightly as he grabbed the shepherd’s pie and placed it onto his tray. After grabbing an apple juice and a fork, he began to make his way towards his usual lunch table. Castiel was walking close behind him, heading towards the exit of the cafeteria. Dean wondered where the hell he ate his lunch. That was when he got the idea to invite him to sit with him. Only because Dean was a nice guy though. It had nothing to do with the massive crush he ‘didn’t’ have on him.

“Wanna sit with me?” Dean asked, stopping to turn around to face Castiel who looked slightly shocked. He watched as Castiel glanced over at Dean’s lunch table, chewing on his bottom lip for a while before nodding.

“Okay, sure,” he said, following Dean towards the table.

“Dean-o!” Jo exclaimed, grinning as she looked between him and Castiel. Dean could tell, solely from the look on her face that he was never going to live this down.

He sat down opposite Jo and shuffled over to make space for Castiel who sat down slowly, looking around the table nervously. Anna’s eyebrows furrowed when she noticed Castiel. 

“How much did you pay to sit here then?” she laughed, with no real venom to her words.

“Just as much as you did,” Castiel retorted, taking a small sip of water as his lips quirked up in a cocky smirk that Dean couldn’t help but chuckle at. He never expected Castiel to be the type to give as good as he got.

The table was generally okay with Castiel’s presence. Anna and Pamela teased him a little, but he was able to stick up for himself. Jo just kept winking at Dean and kicking him under the table. She even mouthed, ‘big gay crush’ a few times to which Dean glared at her.

The mood seemed to change once Adam sat down beside Jo. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and kissed her deeply causing the whole table to groan and roll their eyes. Jo simply gave them all the middle finger jokingly as she continued kissing Adam.

When he pulled away to breathe, Adam wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and glanced around the table. His eyes settled on Castiel and his eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “I think you’re at the wrong table, buddy,” he chuckled. Castiel just stared aimlessly at his tray, his cheeks turning red from being singled out like that. 

“You have a problem with my brother, Adam?” Anna asked, glaring down at him dangerously as she dug her fork into one of her fries threateningly. Ash tried to hide his laughter, seemingly enjoying this confrontation.

Castiel glanced at Dean, teeth worrying his bottom lip. Dean wanted to stick up for him. He really did. But, he couldn’t. It would damage his whole reputation. Adam was part of the football team. If the rest found out he’d never be done trying to defend his actions. So, he just stayed silent and looked away from Castiel.

“Yeah, he’s sitting at our table. It’s making all of us look bad,” he replied before eyeing Castiel up across the table.

“Just shut the fuck up, Adam,” Jo said with a laugh, throwing a grape at him, obviously trying to calm the tension which was quickly rising.

“I will, after that loser leaves,” he growled before kicking Castiel’s shin underneath the table, drawing a yelp from Castiel’s lips.

Anna immediately stood up, ready to attack Adam before Pamela grabbed her wrist and began attempting to calm her down. Dean watched as the whole table was divided into people trying to defend Castiel and people who just didn’t really want to get involved. 

He then felt Castiel rise to his feet and lift his tray. “You’re nothing but a dumb jock, Milligan,” Castiel muttered, glancing at Dean one more time with tears in his eyes before walking away quickly.

Adam laughed loudly as Castiel disappeared out of the cafeteria with Anna running after him. Jo shrugged Adam’s arm off her shoulders and shuffled away from him with an angry look on her face.“You can be such a dick sometimes, you know that?” she growled.

“Oh c’mon, baby,” he cooed, leaning over to kiss at her cheek. “You really don’t wanna be seen hanging around with someone like him.”

Jo scowled and got to her feet. “Yeah? Well, maybe I don’t wanna be seen hanging around with someone like you either.” She then turned on her heels and left the cafeteria with an angry frown on her face.

Adam rolled his eyes and stretched out his arms. “She totally didn’t mean that,” he chuckled, stuffing a few fries into his mouth.

Dean shook his head and got to his feet also. Okay, well his stupid idea turned out to be disastrous. It ended up tearing the whole lunch table apart. Plus, he was pretty sure that Castiel was mad at him again. Great.

Chapter Text

When the last bell rang, Dean made his way towards his locker. On his way there, he noticed Castiel searching around in his locker for something. He stopped in his tracks and watched him for a while. Castiel looked a little frustrated with his brows knitted together and those lips pursed together. Somehow, Dean found that endearingly cute. After shaking his head and clearing it from the stupid, sappy thoughts whirling around inside it, Dean walked over to pinch Castiel’s ribs playfully.

“Hey there,” Dean chuckled cheerfully, leaning against the locker adjoined to Castiel’s.

Castiel just rolled his eyes, sighed, rubbed his side irritably and continued hunting through his locker. “Hello, Dean,” he muttered, head stuck in his locker which was so organised that Dean wondered how the hell Castiel managed to lose anything in there.

“What you lookin’ for?” he asked. Dean didn’t really know why he was so talkative with Castiel. Maybe it was because of the guilt he felt about what happened at lunchtime.

He could hear Castiel sigh again before replying, “My world history textbook.”

Dean nodded, peeking into Castiel’s locker before his gaze dropped to Castiel’s book bag.  Poking out from the opened bag was a textbook with ‘World History’ clearly written on it. Dean stooped down to grab it before clearing his throat and waving it in front of Castiel’s eyes when he had finally taken his head out of the locker. Castiel took the book with a slight blush creeping onto his cheeks as he mumbled a quiet, ‘thank you’.

There was silence for a few moments whilst Castiel fixed his locker and locked it before slinging his book bag over his shoulder and glancing at Dean with an eyebrow raised. “Is there a particular reason why you’re still standing there?” he asked with a sigh.

Dean glanced away from Castiel for a few seconds, mainly to check that no one from the football team was around. If they ever saw him talking to Castiel as if they were friends he’d never live it down. “Look, about lunchtime—“

“It’s okay, Dean. I get it,” he interrupted quickly, not looking at Dean. “If that was all you wanted to say, I’ll be on my way.”

“Poet and you didn’t know it,” Dean mumbled sarcastically under his breath before turning on his heels and following Castiel who was now walking down the corridor towards the exit. “I was wondering if you maybe wanted to hang out. Go get something to eat or …”

Castiel stopped abruptly and turned around to face Dean. “I can’t. I have an essay to do for World History class, an assignment for Biology and an economics homework which is due for tomorrow. Therefore, I really don’t have time to be ‘hanging about’,” he snapped, complete with air-quotes. Dean’s shock from Castiel’s outburst must’ve been written all over his face as Castiel immediately took a calming breath and shook his head. “What I meant to say was … maybe another day,” he said softly, looking up at Dean through his eyelashes before shooting him a small half-smile and disappearing down the corridor. Dean was left frozen in place, watching him leave with a frown on his face.

Well, Dean’s amazing idea for an apology went down the drain. Castiel was still mad at him. Dean could tell just by the way he was so dry with him. He found himself in a contradicting situation; he didn’t want to be friends with Castiel as it would damage his reputation. Though, at the same time, he did want to be friends with Castiel. He genuinely liked him and he hated it.

Dean was soon shaken out of his thoughts by a finger poking into his lower back, making him jump. “What the—“ He swung around to find Jo standing there, gazing up at him with a mischievous grin on her face.

“Hey, Dean-o!” she chirped, hooking her arm around Dean’s in a familiar gesture of comfort. “I feel like we haven’t had a gossip session in like forever. Wanna come over for a few hours?”

Dean made a face, shrugging. He didn’t really feel like it after Castiel rejecting him like that. “I dunno, Jo …”

“Would it change your mind if I told you that my mom’s baking an apple pie for dessert tonight?” she asked, fluttering her eyelashes persuasively.

And that was all she had to say. Because a few minutes later, Dean found himself driving towards the Roadhouse with Jo in the passenger seat singing along to some Katy Perry song.

***

“Adam was such a fucking jerk today,” Jo groaned, closing over her Math homework book after finishing the last question. She threw it to the ground and crawled up to where Dean was lying on her bed to rest her head on his chest.

Dean loved hanging about with Jo. It was just so easy and he could always be himself around her. They’d been friends ever since they were five years old when their fathers worked together for a while. Ever since then, they’d been almost inseparable. Best friends.

He hummed in agreement, staring at the ceiling as he flashbacked to lunchtime. After that loser leaves. He’s making us all look bad. Castiel just looked so humiliated and Dean had sat back and done nothing about it. What kind of friend does that? It just added to his growing guilt and shame. “Yeah,” he sighed.

Jo tilted her head to look at Dean. She stayed quiet for a while, just watching him as if she could read his thoughts and feelings without him saying a thing. Then she placed her hand on his chest gently. “I’m glad you brought him over to the table though. It’s a step in the right direction.”

It didn’t feel like ‘a step in the right direction’ for Dean though. It felt like he’d taken one step forwards and two back. He hated how his brain was telling him all the right things to shout at Adam right now, but earlier he just froze and couldn’t stand up for Castiel. He felt like a total coward.

“Yeah, but it was a stupid idea. I never should’ve even thought about it,” he replied, pushing Jo off him carefully before sitting up and running a hand through his hair exasperatedly.

“No. It wasn’t a ‘stupid idea’!” Jo exclaimed, sitting up and turning around with her legs folded and her eyes wide. “I don’t know if you could tell or not, but James looked so happy to be sitting next to you. In fact, he couldn’t keep his damn eyes off of you. That boy really likes you. So if you like him too, then stop being such a pussy and do something about it. It’s so simple. C’mon.”

Jo then got to her feet and walked over to her desk where she sat down on her chair before lifting up the screen of her laptop. Dean hopped off the bed to see what she was up to and caught a glimpse of her desktop background which was a picture of her and Adam making out. He snorted at the picture which earned him a sharp slap on the arm.

“What’re you doing?” he asked, pulling over a big purple bean bag chair before slumping down onto it. His eyes were still glued to the laptop screen which was now displaying Jo’s Facebook news feed.

“Just giving you that final push towards your big gay crush, Winchester,” Jo replied, typing ‘James C. Novak’ into the search-bar and hitting the enter key.

Dean didn’t have much time to ask what Jo meant by that because up popped James’ Facebook profile right onto the screen. 231 friends, 34 pictures, single. There wasn’t much on his wall, but his profile picture almost took Dean’s breath away. It was a very close-up shot of his piercing blue eyes with the dark hair of his fringe hanging over them slightly.

Jo must’ve noticed Dean’s awe-struck expression because she quickly wrote something down on a post-it note and clicked out of Castiel’s profile. “Here,” she said, handing Dean the post-it with a number scrawled on it.

He glanced down at it and then back up at Jo, perplexed. “And this is …?”

“Castiel’s number, dumbass,” Jo answered, shutting down her laptop again before grabbing her phone and checking her texts.

Dean’s hands shook slightly as he examined the number written on the post-it note. What the hell was Jo expecting him to do with it? If this was some random girl’s number he’d be able to call her up no problem. But this was Castiel’s number. The same Castiel who he’d humiliated at lunchtime. The same Castiel he might have a horribly insane – and never mind stupid – crush on.

“I can’t … I can’t just call him up. Not after what happened earlier,” he said, voice cracking slightly.

Jo sighed and crouched down to where Dean was still slouched on the bean bag chair. She took his face between her hands and stared straight into his eyes. “You can. You’re Dean freakin’ Winchester, he would forgive you for daylight robbery and you know it. Sometimes the things you want don’t just come knocking at your door. Sometimes you’ve gotta go out there and get them yourself. So … go get him,” she said firmly before pressing a quick kiss to his lips and standing up straight.

***

I can do this. I’m Dean freakin’ Winchester. It’s not like I have a crush on him … Do I have a crush on him? No. Dean fought with himself inside his head for about half an hour before he finally picked up the courage to step out of the Impala. He took a deep breath, almost chickening-out and jumping straight back into his car and driving away as fast as he could. 

Once he was outside Castiel’s front door, Dean pulled out his phone with a shaking hand. The bright screen informed him that it was 6:12pm and he took a quick glance around himself before scrolling into his contacts where he had saved Castiel’s number. 

His thumb hovered over the call button. Was this really the right thing to do? Maybe Castiel was still mad at him. If Dean called Castiel and he immediately hung-up that would be embarrassing and he didn’t think he could look at Castiel ever again if that happened. But, then again, that was the worst thing that could happen and it still wouldn’t be as humiliating as what he allowed to happen to Castiel earlier.

“Stupid Harvelle,” he grumbled to himself before pressing that little green button and raising the phone to his ear.

It rang a few times and he was convinced that he wasn’t going to get an answer. Maybe that would be for the best. He didn’t like the possibility of being embarrassed anyway. Besides, he was already shaking like a leaf and the cold October air wasn’t making it any easier and he still hadn’t—

“Hello?” a deep familiar voice answered through the phone, making Dean startle slightly before he composed himself and exhaled slowly.

“Hey … Uhm, it’s Dean,” he said lamely, closing his eyes tightly and mentally cursing his stupidity. He should just hang up right now and save himself the humiliation.

“Oh …” There was silence for a few moments and Dean almost thought Castiel had hung up before he spoke again. “How did you get my number?”

“Facebook.”

“You don’t have Facebook.”

Dean breathed out a laugh at that. “You been stalking me, Novak?”

“Of course not,” Castiel replied, sounding annoyed. Dean could hear the sound of movement in the background and then the rustle of fabric. “I’d say you are the stalker, Winchester. Why are you standing outside my house?”

Dean’s eyebrows furrowed with confusion instantly and he glanced around himself, spinning in a circle before looking upwards.

“Second window on the right,” Castiel mumbled and Dean looked up to see him standing at the window with his hand on his hip, the phone held to his ear and a half-amused, half-irritated expression on his face. Dean waved up at him dumbly and chuckled nervously.

“Just thought you’d need a break from all that hard work,” he murmured, gazing up at Castiel with a faint smile on his face. “Fancy a drive?”

He saw Castiel frown down at him, never changing his stance. “I thought I told you never to come to my house uninvited again.”

Dean pouted slightly, shrugging. “Should I take that as a ‘no’?”

Castiel tilted his head and just stood there silently, gazing down at Dean with a soft expression on his face and curiosity in his eyes. Dean could hear his steady breathing through the phone and he licked his lips anxiously as they stood there locked in some sort of staring contest for what seemed like hours. 

Castiel then looked away and hung up before walking away from the window. Dean watched as the curtain fell back into place behind the window. He let out a long sigh, averting his gaze to the gravel beneath his feet as he listened to the deafening silence from his phone which he then tucked back into his pocket. 

Well, shit, that was horrible. Dean definitely knew how Castiel felt earlier right now. The humiliation was almost unbearable.

He turned to walk away, feeling embarrassed, hurt and angry at himself for being so stupid to think that this one thing would, by some miracle, turn out right for him. All that melted away the minute he heard a door opening and closing before footsteps running to catch up with him.

“Dean, wait,” a quiet voice called. Dean turned around slowly to see Castiel wearing a chunky blue sweater, the sleeves hanging down over his knuckles and those same skinny jeans as last time with his hair all adorably mussed coming to a stop behind him. Dean’s face immediately lit up as he fixed his gaze on those blue eyes which seemed to shine in the faint moonlight. Castiel stood still with his arms folded across his chest for a while before nibbling his bottom lip and asking, “Well then, where are we going?”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

When Dean glanced over to see Castiel in the passenger seat of the Impala, he felt a stupid sense of pride and joy at that. He was examining Dean’s collection of cassette tapes with his legs folded up on the seat. Dean sneakily peeked over at him every now and then with a warm smile on his face. After reaching over to turn on the radio, he sighed contentedly and tapped his fingers against the steering wheel in time with the music, trying to keep his eyes on the road.

AC/DC? Led Zeppelin? Metallica?” Castiel rhymed off as he flipped through the cassette tapes. He didn’t sound overly-impressed. Actually, he didn’t sound impressed at all.

“What’s wrong with them?” Dean asked, peering over at Castiel with a bemused look on his face.

Castiel set the box down at his feet with a sigh before answering, “Don’t you have anything a little more modern? Or at least something with meaningful lyrics?”

Dean’s jaw dropped as he kept his eyes on the road. “You’re kidding, right?” he replied, completely bewildered. What the hell was wrong with AC/DC or Led Zeppelin? To Dean, they were awesome. He’d been listening to that kind of music since he was a kid cruising along in this very car with his dad at the wheel. Dean rolled his eyes and turned off the radio again. “I bet you listen to some Classical crap. I’m right, aren’t I? Beethoven or some shit?”

“Actually, I’m not a fan of Classical music at all,” he scowled and Dean could feel him glaring at him. “I listen to all genres of music, though I do prefer songs which aren’t all about sex, drugs and money. I find them boring, repetitive and just for those who aren’t emotionally mature enough to listen to music with profound, meaningful lyrics.”

After Castiel’s outburst, there was silence apart from the faint purr of the Impala’s engine. When Dean glanced over at Castiel, he was staring out the window. It was dark and the streetlights seemed to blur into bokeh as they passed them. The roads were pretty much empty as Dean turned corner after corner. They then came to a stop at some traffic lights and Dean looked over at Castiel again who met his gaze now. 

“So, did you just bring me out to insult my taste in music or was there actually some kind of plan?” he asked, arms folded stubbornly as he waited for an answer.

Dean smirked before noticing the light had turned green. After waiting for a few moments, he slammed his foot down on the accelerator causing them to go speeding down the deserted road. Castiel gasped loudly in shock and Dean just laughed, throwing his head back as the adrenaline rushed through his veins. 

After going almost 20mph over the speed limit for a mile or so, Dean began to slow down and eventually brought the Impala to a stop in front of a small diner. The bright blue neon sign blinked above it like it always had and Dean smiled. He hadn’t been here in ages.

Dean slipped out of the car and watched as Castiel did the same, giving the diner a once over with his eyes before glancing over at Dean.

“After you,” Dean chuckled, following Castiel into the diner.

When they opened the door, the bell rang merrily as a way of welcoming and the smell of food and coffee wrapped around them. Almost everything in the diner was silver apart from the splash of bold royal blue in the booths and stools. This wasn’t the first time Dean had been here, but he always got that same feeling every time he visited.

Dean smiled and led the way towards a booth near the back of the diner. After he sat down, he watched Castiel settle down opposite him. He looked around himself before his eyes rested on a painting on the wall beside him. Dean found the way Castiel studied the picture absolutely adorable. The way his brows were knitted together in concentration made butterflies flutter around inside Dean’s stomach.

He looked over at the picture himself to see what was so fascinating. It was simply a painting of an angel with broken wings, sitting on the ground with his legs crossed and his head in his hands.

“So, what can I get you guys?” a chirpy, middle-aged waitress asked them with a huge smile on her face and a small notepad in her hand.

“Cheeseburger, extra bacon with fries and a coke,” Dean said, the words flowing out of his lips easily. It was what he got every time he came here.

He watched the waitress scribble down his order before turning to Castiel with an expectant look on her face. “Just a hotdog with water, please.”

When the waitress turned on her heels and began making her way towards the counter again, Dean settled back in his chair and took a look around them. The diner was relatively empty apart from a few old men sipping on coffees or reading newspapers. Music hummed sleepily from the old fashioned jukebox in the corner and the chairs were slightly worn from many years of use. But, the place had a certain feeling of friendliness to it. 

Dean decided it was the best time to try and explain about earlier. He just couldn’t stop thinking about how humiliated Castiel looked. “Look, about Adam,” Dean began, pursing his lips together before continuing, “He didn’t mean all that stuff, he’s just—"

“Blinded by popularity?” Castiel interrupted, looking right into Dean’s eyes with a shrug. “I’m over it. Actually, I’m quite used to it by now.”

Dean’s eyebrows furrowed and he frowned. “What d’you mean by that?” he asked, curious.

Castiel sighed and began occupying his hands by tugging at a loose string on the sleeve of his sweater. “Nothing,” he said, shaking his head and avoiding Dean’s gaze.

“Right,” Dean said, rolling his eyes. He knew it wasn’t just ‘nothing’, but obviously Castiel didn’t want to talk about it. So he wouldn’t push him to.

There was a slightly awkward silence for a few seconds whilst Dean watched Castiel who then turned to face him with a questioning look on his face. “Why are you doing this, Dean?”

“Doing what?” Dean asked, completely confused as usual when it came to Castiel.

“Being nice to me. Hanging out with me outside school. I don’t get it,” he replied, nibbling on his bottom lip which made Dean instinctively lick his own as his gaze flickered to those lips and then back up to Castiel’s eyes.

Dean simply smirked and shrugged, not sure he entirely understood it himself. “Dunno. I guess since we’ve been talking online for so long, it seems only right to try and get to know the real-life you.”

Castiel narrowed his eyes and tilted his head a little, as if he was studying Dean for some hint of sincerity. Dean didn’t know if he found it or not as the waitress was suddenly back at their table, setting down their plates and glasses before telling them that she’d be at the counter if they needed anything else.

Dean immediately tucked in to his burger, humming appreciatively as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. After a while of stuffing fries into his mouth and taking sips of his coke, Dean glanced up at Castiel and then down to his plate. His hotdog was hardly eaten which made Dean frown. “Something wrong?” he asked, mouth still full of food.

“No,” Castiel muttered, shaking his head as he looked at Dean with slight disgust on his features. “You really shouldn’t talk with your mouth full. It’s horribly unattractive.”

One of Dean’s eyebrows shot up and he smirked, gazing across the table at Castiel. “You think I’m unattractive?” he teased, faking a pout before gulping down some coke. Not that he would care if Castiel found him unattractive … right?

“Of course not, I simply meant that talking with your mouth full is unattractive,” Castiel muttered quickly before his face flushed and he looked away. Dean felt his heart skip a beat or two at that. He knew it hardly meant anything and Castiel probably phrased his thoughts wrong, but Dean couldn’t stop thinking about it long after he’d finished his meal. ‘Of course not’.

***

After he paid for their meal, Dean led the way back out to the Impala. When he slipped into the driver’s seat, Castiel gave him a weird look from the passenger seat. “What?” Dean asked, blushing under Castiel’s concentrated gaze.

“Was that a date, Dean?” he asked and Dean almost choked on his own damn tongue as he shoved the key into the ignition.

“What the hell?! No! ” he shouted, unable to look at Castiel now. His hands were trembling and he had to grip the steering wheel tightly so that it wouldn’t show.

"Then why didn’t you let me pay for my hotdog?” Castiel asked irritably, kicking off his sneakers and bringing his knees up to his chest.

Dean groaned and looked over at Castiel, eyes briefly raking over him before back to the road where he was now driving. “Because I wanted to pay. It’s not like you actually touched the fuckin’ food anyway.”

That seemed to silence Castiel as he turned to rest his forehead against the window. Dean sighed, knowing he’d probably upset Castiel with his hostile tone. So, he drove a few miles aimlessly, not really knowing where they were going. He then decided to take Castiel to a place he knew he’d love

He drove them up a narrow road which twisted and turned until it stopped at the top of a hill. When he turned off the engine, he twisted in his seat to stare at Castiel with a fake pout. “Castiel,” he whispered.

Castiel turned his head to look at him, blinking a little, eyes a little glassy. The side of his mouth curled up into a small smile and he exhaled slowly. “What?” he whispered back in response.

Their gazes were locked and Dean couldn’t bring himself to look away. He smiled, swallowing nervously before reaching forwards to place his hand on top of Castiel’s just like he had done to Dean the other night. God, he was so nervous about that small gesture, but when Castiel seemed to respond positively by intertwining their fingers slowly, Dean let out a soft sigh of relief.

“C’mon, I wanna show you something,” he said as he gently slipped his hand away from Castiel’s and jumped out of the car with a grin on his face.

He strode over to Castiel’s side and walked up the rest of the hill beside him, their hands brushing as they walked close together. He led him a little further up the hill until they could see the whole town below them illuminated by street, house and car lights. Dean could hear Castiel’s breath catching in his throat and he glanced at him to see his eyes filled with tears.

“You okay?” he asked, trying to catch his gaze which was roaming over the streets below them.

“It’s … beautiful,” Castiel said softly, barely audible. The gentle breeze tousled his dark hair and his bright blue eyes sparkled with awe-stricken wonder.

Dean chuckled softly, looking out on the town. “Yeah, I come up here a lot,” he muttered. “Just to get away from everything.”

Finally, Castiel tore his gaze away from the town below them to gaze at Dean with an amused expression. “Whoa, Dean. I never thought you were that deep,” he chuckled.

Dean rolled his eyes and pushed Castiel’s arm playfully. “Shut up,” he laughed.

The night air was filled with the sounds of hustle and bustle of the streets below them. Car horns honked and engines roared, but up here, everything seemed so peaceful. Everything seemed simple. Being here with Castiel made Dean feel … content.

On the drive home, Castiel managed to tug open the Impala’s glove box and bring out Dean’s driving licence. This started a ten minute long grumble from Dean matched with laughter from Castiel. Laughter which lit up a spark inside Dean and he found himself laughing too as Castiel mocked him, pouting out his lips in a blue steel look which Dean had perfected in the driving licence picture.

After Dean had successfully snatched his driving licence off Castiel, they somehow got into a conversation about the people at Dean’s lunch table. More specifically, Jo.

“Are you and her … secretly together or something?” Castiel asked out of the blue making Dean’s eyes go wide.

“Me and Jo?! Oh my god—" Dean began to laugh loudly, almost losing control of the car for a moment before calming himself down. “No. What made you think that?”

Castiel shrugged, looking a little embarrassed by Dean’s laughing fit. “You guys just seem really close. Even Adam looked jealous at the lunch table every time Jo looked at you,” he said softly.

Dean couldn’t wait to tell Jo this on the phone later. It was hilarious. He’d known Jo since he was a kid and they’d dated when they were 14. Jo had been his first kiss, first girlfriend, first everything. He even lost his virginity to her. But right now, they were just friends. Dean had known Jo far too long and well to date her again.

Afterwards, Castiel curled up and fell asleep, head resting against the window, arms wrapped around his legs, snoring softly. Dean smiled at the sight as he stopped the car in front of Castiel’s house. He sat there in silence for a while, just watching Castiel sleep. It might’ve looked borderline creepy but Castiel just looked so peaceful and cute, his dark eyelashes fluttering in his sleep.

Dean was about to reach over to fix a stray strand of Castiel’s hair before he noticed a figure trudging down the driveway. He immediately stepped out of the car and recognized the person as Castiel’s brother Michael. Michael didn’t look too happy and Dean gasped when he was shoved up against a nearby tree, two strong hands pressed against his chest, pinning him to it.

“Where is James?” he asked, voice low and angry as he glared into Dean’s eyes which were full of fear.

“In the car,” Dean choked out, pointing weakly to the Impala.

Michael turned around to stare at Dean’s car for a moment before back at Dean. “Listen to me. I know what guys like you are like, Winchester. I don’t want my little brother getting hurt; physically or emotionally. So just stay away from him, you hear me?” he growled.

“Oh thank goodness,” a woman’s voice said, full of relief. Dean struggled to push Michael away before Missouri approached them. “Michael? Get off that poor boy. Get inside now!” Missouri managed to pull Michael away by his ear and push him in the direction of the house.

When Michael had went back to the house, Missouri turned to smile warmly at Dean and fix his shirt collar. “Sorry about him, sweetie. He can get awfully emotional sometimes. Is James okay?”

Dean nodded slowly, clearing his throat. “He’s fine. We just went for something to eat. I’m sorry, I should’ve told him to let you know,” he replied, glancing over to where Castiel was still sleeping soundly in the car.

“It’s okay, hon,” Missouri sighed, shaking her head with a fond smile. “I’m just glad he’s finally getting out a bit. He’s always studying so hard. He deserves a bit of time to just have fun. I know he’s safe with you anyway.”

A small smile appeared on Dean’s lips as Missouri began making her way back towards the house. He walked over to open the passenger door slowly and gently shook Castiel out of his sleep. “Hey, dude. We’re home,” he chuckled softly as he watched Castiel rub the sleep out of his eyes and look around himself for a moment before stepping out of the car with a yawn.

They made their way up to Castiel’s front door where they both stopped and stared at each other silently. Dean took a step towards Castiel when he thought he was going to fall asleep right there on the doorstep.

“I had a good night,” Castiel said softly, blue eyes heavy with sleep.

“Me too.”

Dean’s gaze dropped to Castiel’s lips which were pink and chapped and he was struck with the sudden, sickening urge to just kiss him right then and there. He was so close, just inches away. But he didn’t.

Instead, he stepped away again, swallowing as he nodded a goodbye and headed back to his car, heart thundering in his ears.

***

It had been an amazing night. Dean felt as if he was really getting somewhere with Castiel now. But there were still so many unanswered questions and unexplainable emotions spinning around inside Dean’s head. He hated how vulnerable Castiel made him feel. But he also loved how much fun they had together in such a short space of time. The only bad thing was that now he couldn’t get those blue eyes or that mussed hair or those over-sized sweaters out of his head. As usual.

Chapter Text

“He thought we were together?!” Jo asked through the phone as Dean lay on his bed staring up at the ceiling with a big goofy smile on his face.

“Yeah,” he replied airily. His night had just been really, really good and Dean couldn’t believe how comfortable he’d become around Castiel. Although, those blue eyes and their power to leave him speechless still worried him a little.

Jo’s laughter echoed through his phone speaker and he grinned to himself. “Sounds like you had a fun night,” she chuckled before pausing and gasping a little. “You didn’t, did you?!”

Dean’s eyebrows instantly furrowed in confusion at Jo’s sudden outburst. “What? Did I do what?” he asked frantically as Jo squeaked down the phone.

 “You kissed him, didn’t you?!” she squealed and Dean almost thought he heard bedsprings, knowing how Jo liked to jump around every time she was happy, excited, or just plain hyper.

He sighed and rolled his eyes, even though he knew she couldn’t see him. “No. Of course I didn’t. It wasn’t even a date.”

There was silence at the other end of the phone and Dean didn’t need to see Jo to know she was giving him a look that said, ‘you’re such a liar’.

 “I’m serious, Jo! He’s probably not even in to me anyway.”

 “So, you admit that you’ve got a big gay crush on him?” Jo asked and Dean could practically hear the grin in her voice.

 “No, this is not a crush,” Dean insisted, frowning to himself. He wasn’t so sure of his feelings towards Castiel yet. It was so damn confusing when Dean had spent so long forcing himself to like girls only.

 “Shut up, Winchester. I’ve known you for thirteen years and I’ve never seen you so smitten. I can see it in your eyes when you talk about him. You really like him and you can’t deny it,” she said, voice firm and honest. This made Dean a little anxious. If he was so transparent with his feelings about Castiel to Jo, who else had figured it out by now?

Dean cleared his throat slightly, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth. “Enough about me,” Dean dismissed, quickly changing the subject as his cheeks turned red and his ears burned. “How’re things going with Adam?”

Jo sighed heavily and Dean could hear her slamming a book closed in the background. “He came over last night when you left. Kept asking if we were still together and all that shit. I just agreed with him. I’m getting real tired of him though.”

 “Why don’t you just leave him?” Dean suggested, getting to his feet and walking over to his desk where his laptop was already switched on. He signed on to his messenger and smiled happily when he noticed that Castiel was online.

“Too many reasons; it would take me all night to tell you half of them. But I guess the biggest one is that I need him so that I have a date for the winter formal,” Jo said with a sigh.

 

Castiel_N says:                       Hello, Dean. I forgot to thank you for such a good night.

D_Winchester says:                No prob. We should do it again sumtime :-)

          

“What?! Jo, you could get any guy in the whole damn school to go with you to the prom. You don’t need that douche-bag,” Dean muttered, eyes fixed on his laptop screen which informed him that Castiel was typing a reply.

Jo laughed bitterly before sighing yet again. “It’s not just that though … I love him, Dean. I love him so damn much and I hate it.” It took Dean a while to realize it, but soon he could hear Jo sniffling softly. She was crying.

“Jo,” he started softly, turning away from his laptop screen and staring down at his feet, trying to find the right words to cheer his best friend up. He hated seeing her upset and wished he was right there with her to hold her in his arms. “Everything’s gonna be fine, okay? No matter what happens with Adam. You’re a fighter and if you wanna keep him, you can. Okay?”

“Yeah, okay,” Jo replied, voice sounding a little nasal. “Thanks, Dean. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Dean smiled a little and nodded to no one. “Sure. Get some rest.”

 

Castiel_N says:                       Yeah. I’d like that. I’ll see you in English tomorrow.

D_Winchester says:                Okay! Bye Castiel

               Castiel_N is now offline

 

***

The next few days flew by and Dean found himself having a pretty good week. On Tuesday, English was right before lunch. Dean fooled around with Castiel during the lesson, poking his ribs under the table and cracking jokes with him. He did get some weird looks from other people in the classroom, but Dean was too content right then to care.

At lunch that day, Castiel avoided the cafeteria which made Dean pissed at Adam. Unfortunately, Adam did notice Dean’s quietness at the lunch table and tried to coax him to talk. “Dude, I’m having a party this Saturday for Halloween. You gonna sulk around or you gonna come?” he asked, mouth full of half-eaten burger as he looked over at Dean who just rolled his eyes and sighed.

 “Whatever. I’ll be there,” he finally replied, trying to hide an annoyed smile.

Adam chuckled loudly and swallowed his food before saying, “Knew you’d say yes. Always up for a party, aren’t ya?”

Dean resorted to hurling a fry straight at Adam who just laughed and threw it back in Dean’s direction.

 

***

The next day when Dean was sitting at the lunch table listening to Jo and Pamela talking about outfits for Adam's party, he zoned out for a while. Soon, he noticed Castiel picking out his lunch. Their eyes met across the room and Dean shot Castiel what could only be described as an apologetic smile as Adam snickered and made fun of him as usual.

Castiel offered him a small smile before going back to picking out his food. Dean could hear the sound of Jo kicking Adam underneath the table and chuckled softly.

“The hell was that for?!” Adam whined, rubbing his shin with a grimace.

“Being a dick,” Jo replied plainly as she continued eating as if nothing had happened.

 

***

Thursday was strange. His dad was in such a good mood that he gave him $20 'for the weekend'. He also offered to give Sam a ride to school which Dean gladly encouraged. It gave him the freedom to blast some AC/DC out of the Impala's speakers without an annoying little brother riding shotgun and whining at him to turn it down.

Dean had a Math test first thing. He just randomly guessed most of the answers and was finished before most of the other people in his class. Mr. Adler eyed him suspiciously when he started chewing his gum far too loudly. It wasn't his fault he was so awesome at Math. When in reality, he knew he was definitely going to get a big fat 'F' on this one.

With no English lesson on Thursday, Dean didn't get the chance to see Castiel. Not even in the cafeteria at lunch. He wondered briefly if he was absent again. He decided to just talk to him online tonight.

Once Dean got home, he threw his backpack to the ground. He was greeted with a whiff of something that made his mouth water and his stomach growl as he headed towards the kitchen to find his dad stood at the oven.

"Spaghetti Bolognese," John murmured, stirring the pot on the hob in front of him. "How was your day, son?"

Dean's eyes widened slightly. It had been a long time since his dad had asked him that question. Probably not since his first day of high school. "Uhm, good," he replied awkwardly, grabbing a few plates from the cupboard and setting the table. "Yours?"

He saw his dad shrug as he lifted the pot from the stove and started shovelling the spaghetti onto the plates. "Went to see Bobby. He says you've been workin' hard," he said, causing Dean to flush a little and look away. "Then I went to see if I could find a job."

Dean paused and glanced over at his dad with an eyebrow raised. "Really?" he asked in complete disbelief which proved comical to John who let out a soft chuckle. 

"Yes, Dean. I can't have you being the only one bringin' money into this house," he began, walking over to set the pot down in the sink before wiping his hands on a towel, "and besides, it'll be good for all of us. You boys can look after yourselves while I'm at work." He smiled and Dean thought to himself that this was the first time he'd seen his dad smile genuinely in a long time.

Dean smiled back, looking at his dad with pride and adoration as he took his seat at the table. "That's great, Dad," he said before lifting his fork and twisting a few strands of spaghetti onto his fork. "So, where's Sam?"

"Basketball practice," John answered, taking a few sips of his coke.

"Oh," Dean let out, eyebrows knitted together. He hadn't known that Sam was into basketball now. He didn't even know there was a basketball team at their school. Okay, now he was confused and a little worried.

 

***

After helping his dad clean up the dishes and the kitchen, Dean went to his room and jumped onto his swivel chair. He pressed the start up button on his laptop and it instantly came to life. Even though it took forever for his laptop to load, Dean was excited when he finally managed to sign-in to his messenger and saw that little green circle beside Castiel's name.


D_Winchester says:               hey how r u?

Castiel_N says:                       I'm good, thanks. How're you?

D_Winchester says:               me 2. Didn't see you around 2day.

Castiel_N says:                       oh really? Because I saw you flirting with Bela Talbot at the lockers.

 

Dean chuckled softly, rolling his eyes. He remembered flirting with Bela but he hadn’t known anyone was around. Or, more specifically, he didn't know Castiel was around.

 

D_Winchester says:               Stalker.

Castiel_N says:                       Player.

D_Winchester says:               shut up  Just cos ur jealous of my beauty and luck with the ladiez ;-)

Castiel_N says:                       Oh, yes, I'm so very jealous of your talent. /end sarcasm

D_Winchester says:               well u should be I'm awesome.

Castiel_N says:                       God your ego is huge, Winchester.

D_Winchester says:               it's not the only thing that's huge about me Novak ;-)

 

Dean couldn't believe he'd actually just sent that. He'd just blatantly flirted with Castiel. Shit. His face went red and he placed his hand over his eyes, shaking his head at his stupidity as he waited for that little chiming noise.

 

Castiel_N says:                       Haha, very funny. So, I'm gonna go get some homework done now and I'll see you in English tomorrow.

D_Winchester says:               okay c u 2morro :P

Castiel_N is now offline.

 

***

"You should come over to mine after school," Dean mumbled, scooping some soup into his mouth with his spoon as he sat opposite Jo at the lunch table on Friday.

"I can't, sorry. I'm going to a GSA meeting," Jo replied, crunching on a piece of lettuce. Dean's eyebrows shot up and he remembered how Castiel went to those meetings. "And, yes, your big gay crush is going too."

Dean took a quick glance around the table to make sure no one heard Jo's words before glaring over at her in warning. "Whatever," he murmured, trying to look uninterested.

"You should come too," Jo suggested, looking like she'd just came up with the best idea ever.

Dean immediately shook his head. "No, absolutely not. I wouldn't be seen dead at those meetings. Hey, wait a second ... you're not gay, Jo."

Jo rolled her eyes at Dean's ignorance before explaining, "It's not just for gay people, you idiot. It's called the 'gay-straight alliance' for a reason. The straight people that go are basically there just to show their support. It's fun and informative and you might even enjoy yourself."

Dean scoffed and shovelled his last spoonful of soup into his mouth before smirking at Jo. "I'm sure I'd have more fun doing homework," he joked, grabbing his tray and getting to his feet.

"You're missing out, Winchester," Jo yelled as he walked away shaking his head. He didn't need to go to some stupid meeting. Especially not when he was trying to keep the fact that he might be gay a complete secret. 

***

After school, Dean was grabbing some textbooks from his locker when Castiel passed him. "Hello, Dean," he said cheerfully. His eyes drifted to Dean’s messy locker and he was clearly judging Dean's lack of organisation.

"Hey," Dean replied, shooting him a smile before tugging another book out of his locker. "What's up?"

"Not much, just on my way to the GSA meeting," he said, fiddling with a few flyers he was carrying. "You should come." He held out a flyer for Dean with a hopeful look on his face.

Dean sighed, trying to come up with a good excuse as to why he couldn't go. He took the flyer and studied it absently before glancing back up at Castiel with a frown. "I really wish I could, but I have way too much homework to do--"

"Do it at the meeting! Or over the weekend or something?" Castiel said with a small smile and Dean almost felt bad for not taking him up on his offer.

"I can't," he said more firmly, staring into Castiel's eyes. "I'll be really busy tomorrow with practice and work. Then I hang out with my brother on Sunday. I just ... can't." 

Castiel nodded slowly, a frown appearing on his lips. "Okay, maybe another time?"

Dean nodded and smiled with a nervous chuckle. "Sure," he said as he zipped up his backpack and locked his locker.

"Promise?" Castiel challenged with one eyebrow raised. 

Dean couldn’t say no when those blue eyes were pleading with him like that. "Yeah, I promise."

 

***

"Milligan!" coach Walker barked and Adam took off running up the field as fast as he could. Some other guys in the team let out exasperated breaths at how fast he was and Dean could tell that they thought no one could beat Adam’s record.

Once Adam finished, coach Walker took down his time and called on the next guy, then the next, then finally it was Dean's turn. He warmed-up by jogging up and down on the spot, stretching his hamstrings a few times before Alastair finished his test, panting heavily as he passed Dean.

Dean took a deep breath, eyes on the post fifty metres in front of him. He needed to be quick in order to even be considered for the team's first game of the season next week. He poised himself, waiting for the coach's whistle. When the deafening squeal of the whistle sounded, Dean was off like a shot. All he could hear was his heart hammering in his ears and his heavy breathing as his legs kept moving. He was focused and alert; eyes on the goal. Once he got to the post, he raced around it before sprinting back towards the starting post. His lungs screamed for air and his muscles burned but he made it back to the post and a few of the guys cheered for him and gave him firm pats on the back. He smiled and panted heavily, glancing at coach Walker who just nodded at him and grinned letting Dean know that he’d done enough to get through. He was now guaranteed a place on the team for next week and it felt good.

When he walked over to where he'd left his water bottle, he could hear a familiar voice shouting his name from the bleachers. He took a swig of his water before gazing up into the stands to see Jo standing and waving at him with a huge smile on her face. That wasn't Dean's only surprise when he glanced up there, because sat right beside her was Castiel. He was wearing a plaid button up shirt with a white shirt underneath. He smiled down timidly at Dean before going back to reading his book. Dean couldn't help but smile back widely.

 

***

"What was he doing here anyway?" Adam asked as he slipped off his sweaty shirt in the locker room.

Dean had just walked in and caught the last few words. "Who?" he asked, curious. He slipped off his shirt before spraying on some deodorant, not having time for a shower since he had to be at work in half an hour. 

"That Novak kid," Alastair elaborated in that irritating voice that was in the same league as nails down a chalk board. Dean shrugged, deciding to stay way out of this one.

"He's such a freak though," Adam said, sitting down on the bench to untie his sneakers.

"Hey, wasn't he with your girl?" Azazel chipped in, trying to fix his hair in the mirror in his locker. Lots of the guys in the locker room snickered and started teasing Adam.

Adam just rolled his eyes and stuffed his things into his gym bag. "I've got nothin' to worry about there, the guy's a fag," he laughed.

The locker room then erupted into fits of laughter and gasps and homophobic slurs. Dean just couldn't stand it anymore. He slammed his locker door shut and grabbed his things before heading out of the locker rooms and towards his car. He almost felt ashamed at how relieved he was that Adam and the others didn't know about him.

Chapter Text

“That one o’er there needs an oil change,” Bobby muttered, pointing vaguely at the blue Ford Focus parked in the salvage yard without even raising his head as he flipped through the pages of some tattered old book.

It was a cold Saturday morning and Dean was beyond exhausted from football practice. All he wanted to do was go home and relax. Instead, he found himself stood in Bobby’s office, trying to stifle a yawn as he glanced out at the car. “’M on it, boss,” Dean mumbled, popping the rest of his buttons on his faded blue overalls closed. 

As he began working on the car, his mind drifted to other things. He tried to figure out what he should wear to Adam’s Halloween party tonight. Sure, he had some old costumes from past years stuffed away somewhere in the back of his closet but he wasn't even certain if they would still fit him or not.

The sun was beating down on him but it was deceptive; the air had an icy bite to it. Dean tugged his rolled-up sleeves down over his cold forearms before starting on changing the oil in the old Ford with a sigh.

***

The loud music blared out of the speakers as hundreds of teenagers crammed into Adam’s tiny living room. Dean was on his third beer of the night and was now dancing with Bela Talbot who looked quite hot in her leather cat suit complete with cat ears.

Dean hadn't thought too much about his vampire outfit. It was basically just a black cape with red lining and a black wig he had tugged on at the last minute. He didn't even have fangs on because he couldn't find the stupid things. They were probably lying behind his bed or something.

Bela would grab his hands every now and then and place them on her slender hips, grinning up at him seductively before draping her arms around his neck as she pressed up against him. She kept licking her red lips as she gazed into Dean’s eyes and he could tell what she was expecting. He could tell that she was expecting a good ‘ole one-night stand after the party. Whatever. Dean could deal with that. At least she wasn’t like Lisa who seemed hell-bent on tying the knot with him as quickly as possible.

“Wanna get outta here?” Bela whispered hotly into his ear and Dean smirked. He couldn’t say no to that. Not when he was feeling slightly tipsy and he hadn’t had sex in like … ages. So, that was how he ended up stumbling down the street with a giggly Bela who then dragged him straight to her bedroom and had her way with him late into the night.

***

At 8a.m. the next morning, Dean woke Sam up for their usual Sunday get-together. He had something special planned for today. A quick glance out the window in his bedroom confirmed his fear that the weather was horrible. He frowned at the fog which had descended on the street. Hopefully the weather would be at least a little better where they were going today.

When they hopped into the car, Dean immediately turned on the heater. After rubbing his hands together and exhaling, he began pulling out of the driveway. He could hear Sam sigh and turned to look at him with one eyebrow raised. "What?"

Dean watched Sam roll his eyes before running a hand over his face. "Nothing, Dean. It's just ... why did you wake me up so early?" he grumbled, stifling a yawn.

Dean narrowed his eyes. "I always wake you up early on a Sunday, dude," he replied, taking a left and heading down a straight road. Why was Sam acting as if he'd been out partying last night or something? Then Dean realized that he actually didn't know what Sam was up to last night. "Rough night?"

"What's that supposed to mean?" Sam snapped defensively, glaring at Dean.

"I dunno. You tell me. You're never this cranky on Sunday mornings. Yeah, sometimes you're tired but never this bitchy," Dean said, keeping his eyes fixed on the road ahead.

"I'm not the one who came home at five this morning with a hangover, jerk," Sam retorted, tugging the hood of his hoodie up over his head before folding his arms across his chest with an irritated look on his face.

Dean sighed. He knew it was hypocritical of him to be chastising his brother over things that he himself had been doing since he was even younger than him. But, Sam was his little brother. Dean saw it as his responsibility to take care of him. Right now, he was worried. He didn't want Sam turning out like him. He was only fifteen for god's sake. He shouldn't be out partying and drinking and doing drugs. It wasn’t normal for him. It just wasn't ... Sammy.

The rest of the ride was spent in silence with Sam resting his head against the window and Dean focusing solely on the road. Dean didn't want to make things any worse between them. Though Sam's attitude seemed to be changing drastically these past few weeks. What happened to the adorable little dork who'd rather stay up late studying than going out partying with people who were, even in Dean's eyes, not a good influence at all? He seemed to be asking himself that question a lot these days.

He wondered if his dad had noticed Sam's moodiness. Or the way he was staying out later than usual. Unfortunately, he didn't think his dad had noticed very much of anything lately. The infamous beer bottle had made a return into his hand these past few nights.

***

After fifty miles of driving in silence, Dean finally pulled up into an old parking lot which had long since been abandoned and was now full of over-grown weeds and other green plants. The gravel crunched under Dean's feet as he stepped out of the car and took a deep breath through his nose, revelling in the fresh sea air.

It had been years since he'd last been here. In fact, the last time he remembered being here was when he was six years old. A few weeks before his mom had died. He remembered the way her blonde hair had rustled in the wind as she stepped out of the car that day. Sam had been there too. Four years old and full of giggles as their dad had lifted him up into his arms and ran towards the sand dunes. Dean remembered the feeling of his mother's warm hand holding his tightly as they walked at a leisurely pace behind John and Sam. He longed to feel that hand in his again. He missed that beautiful smile and the way her eyes sparkled so full of life.

"I've never been here before," Sam commented as he took a look around.

"Yeah, you have," Dean murmured, leading the way towards the sand dunes which were blocking the view of the beach and the sea which could already be heard from where they were standing. He climbed up the sand dunes, holding onto long strands of grass to balance himself as he climbed. It was steeper than he remembered.

When he finally got to the top, his breath caught in his throat at the sight of the empty beach below and the sea spreading out for miles to the north. "This was Mom's favourite beach," he said, voice soft and quiet as he gazed out at the breathtaking scenery. It was a downcast day. There wasn't sun like there was the last time. But it still felt the same. Dean still got those same chills as he did that last day with his mom.

"It's beautiful," Dean heard Sam whisper breathily.

They stood there staring silently as seagulls squealed above their heads. The beach seemed to stretch on for miles at either side of them. Dean closed his eyes and he could hear his mother say, "Isn't it lovely, Dean?" and "John! Don't let Sammy go too far into the sea." He could hear his little brother's laughter. Four years old again. So innocent. So carefree.

Dean opened his eyes again to find himself in the present, his brother sitting down on the sand dune beside him with his eyes on his phone. He decided to climb (actually, slide) down the sand dune to get onto the beach. The sand filled up his boots as he trudged along the beach, hands in his pockets and eyes on the sea.

"Dean, look after your brother," he could hear his dad shout from where he was sat on the beach. Dean chuckled and shouted back a promise that he would. They splashed around in the water, jumping over dying waves and trying to catch small fish that were far too quick for their tiny hands. Their shared laughter still rang in Dean's ears. Every time Sam fell on his ass, Dean would haul him back up again and make sure he wasn't hurt.

He would glance over at his parents every now and then. Just to make sure that they were still there. They always were. He believed that they always would be. They'd never leave. Nothing would ever happen to them. Not when they looked so happy together, Mary's legs over John's and smiles on their faces as they talked softly about long since forgotten topics. He didn't have to hear them to be able to know what his mother was saying to his father, "I love you."

Yet, here he was. In the present. He found it ironic that the weather was so much drearier than that day all those years ago. He looked over at the spot where he parents once sat with smiles on their faces and frowned. He imagined he could still hear their laughter when Sam ran up to them, his clothes soaked through from jumping about in the water so much. Tears filled Dean's eyes when he realized that that had probably been their last day of happiness together. God, he wished that he could just go back to that day and relive it one more time. Or just go back and fix things completely. Just wait a few days for that fateful night. Just listen to his dad when he muttered, "don't forget to blow out the candle, son." Just do that one simple action that could've saved his mom's life and their family's happiness.

Dean was still standing there, staring out into the vast sea where an oil boat was crawling slowly along the horizon. The waves crashed to the shore and Dean tugged his jacket around himself tighter as the cold sea air nipped at his nose. It took him a while to notice the presence beside him.

"You okay?" Sam's soft, concerned voice asked and Dean turned his head to look at him. In that moment, he didn't see the fifteen year old nerd-turned-brat. He saw the innocent little, snot-nosed kid who looked up to him with those big innocent puppy-dog eyes.

He smiled warmly and nodded. "Yeah, 'm fine," he answered before taking a deep breath and giving Sam a firm, manly pat on the back. "Let's go get somethin' to eat."

***

The next weekend, it was Dean's first big football game of the season. All of the players crowded into the locker room to hear coach Walker's pep-talk. The nervousness seemed to seep slowly out of the room as the boys talked and joked together. Dean stretched his legs and he could already hear the cheers of the supporters in the bleachers.

He tried to guess who'd be there cheering for him. It had been a tough week for his dad where alcohol was involved, slowly returning to his old habits after almost a week clean. So, he highly doubted that his dad would be in the crowd. Then there was Jo and Sammy who he knew without a doubt would be there for him. They never missed any of his games. He briefly wondered whether Castiel would be there or not. He'd shown up at the practice last week after all. They'd had a good week getting to know each other a little better. Dean had even joined Castiel for lunch on Thursday. In secret, of course.

The crowd's cheers seemed to get even louder as the team slowly filtered out of the locker room and onto the field. The team's mascot, a deformed looking squirrel with Garth Fitzgerald wearing the costume this year, began doing the Gangnam Style dance which made the people in the bleachers erupt with laughter. The cheerleaders even joined in on the dance, much to the delight of the football players who wolf-whistled loudly.

The game was tough. The opposing team took an early lead and Dean was certain that they were beat. Surprisingly, by half time, they'd almost caught up. Dean delivered a pep-talk which got the players pumped-up and ready for the second half. Their game play was much better and they managed to surpass the other team and win the game with a respectable score and loud cheers from the supporters.

Most of the team celebrated on the field, throwing their shirts into the crowd, dancing and singing loudly. Dean glanced up into the bleachers where he could see Jo, Sam and his dad running down the steps to meet him. He chuckled and ran towards them, shirt sticking to his sweaty body. "Hey, guys!"

Jo laughed happily and jumped up to wrap her arms tightly around Dean's neck, kissing his cheek softly. "Well done! You were brilliant out there!" she shouted happily, finally letting go and jumping up and down a little.

Sam gave Dean a manly pat on the shoulder and a huge grin. His dad smiled proudly at him too and muttered a, "well done, son." Dean couldn't help the warmth that filled his heart at the look on his dad's face. He just looked so proud. If a little tired.

Afterwards, Jo told Dean to meet her in the parking lot and Sam and his dad said their goodbyes before heading off home. Dean was just about to head back into the locker room when he heard his name being called by a familiar deep voice. He smiled widely and turned around, blushing a little. "Hey there. D'you enjoy the game?" he asked, trying to act casual as he ran a hand through his sweat-soaked hair.

Castiel gave Dean and small smile and nodded. "Yeah. You did really well," he replied, hands tugging at the hem of his sweater absently. "Congratulations."

"Thanks," Dean muttered, taking a long sip of his water. He could feel Castiel's eyes on him as he drank and if he was honest, it made him feel a little self-conscious. "You should come to the after-party."

"Oh, no. I have ... homework to do," Castiel said quickly, making a face. Though Dean knew the truth. He knew the real reason Castiel didn't want to go to the after-party was because of how everyone on the team treated him like shit.

Dean nodded understandingly before smiling warmly at him. "G'night then. I guess I'll see you on Monday," he said, getting lost in those eyes again.

"Yeah, have a good night," Castiel said quietly before turning around to walk away.

***

The rest of November went in quickly. The weather got colder and soon there was a layer of ice covering the ground almost every morning. One day, Dean was walking in to school when he heard a few kids giving Castiel a hard time about the huge over-sized chunky sweater he'd chosen to wear to school. True, it looked hideous. But Dean couldn't just let those guys take the piss out of Castiel like that. So, a few seconds later Dean took a run for a particularly bad patch of ice, slid down the slope and ended up falling on his ass with a pained groan all to divert attention away from Castiel. Needless to say, it definitely worked as everyone was in stitches laughing. As was Dean himself.

Though his laughter was quickly swiped away when Principal Roman appeared seemingly out of nowhere, hauling him to his feet by the scuff of his collar. "You really should be more careful, Mr. Winchester," he said with that creepy grin of his. He gave Dean a pat on the back before walking through the double doors and into the school.

Dean had just epically embarrassed himself in front of about twenty students, but it was worth it. Because, when he glanced over at Castiel, the blue-eyed boy was smiling widely, clearly trying to hold back his laughter. Dean winked over at him before wiping some droplets of ice off his jacket and heading inside. Yeah, definitely worth it.

***

On the first Saturday night of December, it was the winter formal. Dean had dusted-off his old black suit and tried it on the week before. Sure, the white shirt looked a little tight and he hated wearing a damn tie, but all-in-all it looked quite good. His date was Lisa Braeden. Not by choice, of course. Lots of girls had almost begged Dean to go as their date, but Lisa seemed the least crazy somehow.

After stepping out of the shower with a towel wrapped around his waist, Dean made his way to his bedroom where he signed in to the messenger on his laptop. He glanced over at the suit laid out neatly on his bed and sighed. He kinda wished that he was going to the winter formal with someone he actually liked. Not that he didn't like Lisa. He thought she was very pretty and nice, but just not his type unfortunately.

Castiel_N says:                       Hello, Dean.

D_Winchester says:               Hey Castiel you goin 2 the formal tonite?

Castiel_N says:                       Yeah :-)

D_Winchester says:               Who u going with?

Dean promised himself right then and there that he would not - absolutely not - get jealous when Castiel answered. It wasn't like Castiel would get jealous when Dean told him he was going with Lisa, right? So, he waited anxiously for a reply, biting on his bottom lip.

Castiel_N says:                       Anna and her friends.

Castiel_N says:                       You?

After breathing a sigh of relief (even though he totally wouldn’t have been jealous if Cas had an actual date) he smiled at the screen and replied that he was going with Lisa. They continued to talk for a little while before Dean checked the time on his laptop and realized he should probably start getting dressed. He promptly said goodbye to Castiel and signed out.

***

Dean pulled up outside Lisa's house, biting his lip nervously. He knew this was meant to be a night for couples to get that excited butterfly thing in their stomachs. But Dean didn't have that. As cheesy as it was, he sorta wished he was going with someone who he actually cared about; someone he had feelings for.

When Lisa stepped out of her house, Dean's breath hitched in his throat. She looked absolutely beautiful. And Dean could definitely appreciate a beautiful woman. She was wearing a short, royal blue, one-shouldered dress. Her dark hair flowed down past her shoulders in perfect curls and she wore sparkly silver high-heels.

"Wow," Dean breathed, eyes roaming over Lisa's figure which seemed to make her blush.

"You look so handsome," Lisa said, smile bright and eyes sparkling.  She leaned in to kiss Dean on the cheek and he tensed up, letting out a sigh before forcing a smile. This felt so damn wrong.

"Let's go then."

***

The school gym looked so different. The theme of this year's winter formal was 'winter wonderland' and the prom committee really did a great job based on that theme. Half of the gym was filled with circular tables covered in white cloth and a centrepiece which lit up with a light blue glow. The rest of the gym was set out like a dance floor.  The walls were covered in blue and clear fairy lights. Seemingly thousands of silver helium-filled balloons stuck to the ceiling and the picture-taking area was an arch made of silver and blue balloons and leftover fairy-lights. And the DJ even seemed to be playing OK music. The prom committee must've worked so hard.

/ Young hearts / Out our minds / Runnin' 'til we outta time /

Dean immediately grabbed a cup of punch when he got inside because damn it was hot in here. Lisa stayed glued to his side and if Dean was being honest, he felt a little claustrophobic.

They sat down at one of the tables and waited for the meal to be served. Soon, their table slowly began to fill up as Jo and Adam sat down opposite them. Jo looked absolutely stunning in her sparkly red dress. Dean had never seen her hair up like that, all volumized and windswept. He couldn't take his eyes off her.

Adam and Lisa must've noticed this because Dean caught them exchanging looks that were halfway between jealous and full-on furious.

"You look so beautiful," Dean said, smiling over at Jo which caused Adam to wrap a possessive arm around her.

"Thanks. And you look very pretty," Jo teased, grinning over at Dean, her eyes sparkling with amusement.

Dean chuckled before glaring over at Jo. “Shut up,” he laughed as Jo stuck her tongue out at him playfully.

He could feel Lisa's foot move closer to his under the table. He tried to ignore that obvious gesture that screamed, 'you're my date, not her's.' Thankfully, the food arrived just in time and Dean immediately dug in.

Ash appeared a few moments later with his arm around Bela Talbot who subtly checked Dean out with a wink. They took a seat at the table and soon everyone was eating and chattering idly as the music played around them.

"Did you see who Alastair came with?!" Bela asked everyone whose eyes were suddenly all on her as she spoke with that alluring British accent she used to grab people’s attention. "He came with Meg Masters. She's not even in our year."

The table erupted into gasps and chuckles. "How the hell did he manage to score with her?!" Ash asked, shaking his head in disbelief.

"Dunno. He must have a big p--" Bela was cut-off with a glare from Ash. "What?! I was gonna say 'paycheck'. Get your mind out of the gutter, Ash."

Dean laughed at the banter, finishing off his food before taking a sip of his punch. Lisa leaned over to whisper in his ear, "Dance with me?"

"Lis, I'm a horrible dancer," he protested, setting down his cup.

"Oh, c'mon, Dean. You gotta dance with your date," Jo teased, grinning over at him mischievously. He just glared over at her before getting to his feet with a heavy sigh. Lisa stood up too, huge smile on her face. Well, at least someone was happy.

***

After dancing for a few songs, Dean’s feet were hurting but the smile on Lisa’s face urged him to dance to one more song. After that, Amazed by Lonestar came on and Dean took that as his queue to get the hell off the dancefloor.

"What? Where are you going?" Lisa asked over the music, a frown appearing on her lips.

Dean ran a hand over his head and chuckled softly. "Just going out for some air. I'll be back in a while, 'kay?"

He then made a swift exit through a pair of double doors which lead out into a corridor. He leaned against the wall and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt which, he was convinced, was restricting the flow of oxygen to his lungs or something. He spent a while just cooling down, waiting until that sappy, romantic song had finished.

Just as he was about to head back into the gym, he jumped as he noticed someone pass through the double doors. It wasn't just anyone. It was Castiel. And there were those butterflies everyone was talking about. They were now somersaulting inside his stomach and Dean decided he hated this feeling because he was not meant to feel like this about a guy. But Castiel just looked so perfect. He had a tuxedo on with a bow tie and his hair was all adorably mussed.

Dean smiled shyly at him, swallowing thickly. "Uh, hey," he said, voice cracking a little. Shit, why did he have to sound like a shy teenage freakin' girl with a stupid crush?

"Hello, Dean," Castiel's deep voice echoed through the empty, dark corridor which was only lit by a few fairy lights stuck to the wall. "Having a good night?"

Dean nodded, that stupid smile still on his face and he tried to look more casual by leaning his arm against the wall. It didn't really work very well as his arm slipped and he almost fell over. His face went bright red as he composed himself. God, why must he always embarrass himself in front of Castiel? "Y-Yeah. It's been fun," he replied, clearing his throat. "You?"

Castiel shrugged, his hand kept creeping into the inside pocket of his blazer for some reason. "It's been okay," he muttered before finally pulling out a small, rectangular package wrapped in red paper with a golden bow on top. Dean's eyebrows furrowed in confusion as Castiel began to walk closer to him. "Uhm ... this is for you. It's a Christmas present. Don't worry, you don't have to buy me anything. This isn't really much. But I hope you like it." He extended his arm to hold out Dean's present for him.

Dean took it slowly and stared down at it. Why was Castiel buying him presents? He hadn't expected this. He unwrapped it slowly to reveal a cassette tape with a note attached. He chuckled, remembering their night out and how Castiel was highly unimpressed with his musical taste.

"It's a mixtape of some of my favourite songs. I also included a tracklist with some of my opinions and why I like the songs," he said before pausing as a small smile crept onto his lips, "I just thought you deserved to listen to much better music."

Dean couldn't help but laugh, shaking his head before gazing back up into those beautiful blue eyes. "It's awesome, Cas," he chuckled, not even realizing about the nickname or noticing the way Cas' eyes widened a little at it. "Thanks."

They stood there for what seemed like hours just staring into each other's eyes. Then Dean saw Castiel's eyes flicker upwards before an amused smile spread across his face and Dean was confused as hell but he just loved that smile and then everything happened so quickly.

Cas was moving closer to him before cupping his cheek with his hand and then his lips were on Dean's and they felt so soft and right and Dean was freaking-out internally but he was paralyzed by Cas' actions. Then Cas was gone. Running off back into the gym and Dean was left standing there, wide-eyed and confused as hell. Then he looked up with a sigh, heart racing in his chest. There was mistletoe hanging above him.

***

He couldn't stop thinking about it; about the feeling of Castiel's lips on his. How good it felt. How right it felt. But he also thought of how it shouldn't have happened. He should've pushed Cas away and shouted at him, told him to stay the hell away from him because he was not gay! 

Lisa was straddling his hips, mouthing at his neck as her fingers fumbled blindly with the buttons of his shirt. They were in his car and the windows were slowly steaming-up around them as Dean's breath came out heavily against Lisa's cheek. They'd left the formal early when Lisa had said she was feeling sick. Turned out she just wanted to get Dean alone and away from Jo.

His eyes were closed and all he could think about was Castiel and his lips and that smile and the mistletoe and-- "Stop," he breathed out, pushing Lisa away gently. "Stop. I can't."

"What?" Lisa asked, eyebrows furrowed. "C'mon, just let me-- it'll be really good, okay? I promise." She continued kissing at Dean’s neck even more intently.

Dean sighed, looking away. He just couldn't watch Lisa's heart break in front of him. "I'm sorry. This ... It just doesn't feel right."

He could hear Lisa exhale a shaky breath before moving to sit on the passenger seat with an angry expression on her face. "It's because of Jo, isn't it?" she said, fixing her hair and dress with shaky hands.

"What? No!" Dean said, breathing out a humourless chuckle. Why did everyone think he was fucking Jo? It was ridiculous. 

"I see the way she looks at you. They way you look at her."

"You're imagining things, Lisa. There's nothing going on between me and Jo," he sighed, buttoning up his shirt again.

Lisa then opened the Impala door, tears in her eyes.

"Woah-- At least lemme take you home," Dean offered before Lisa's hand connected with his face and his cheek was stinging with pain.

"Fuck you. I thought you were different, I thought you weren't like any of those dumb jocks. I was so fucking wrong. You're just like the rest. Actually ... you're worse," she growled before grabbing her black clutch bag and storming out of the Impala, slamming the door behind her.

Dean sat silently for a while before sighing heavily. He knew long before Lisa told him that he was a pathetic excuse for a human being. But hearing someone say it; actually hearing them say it with so much venom in their voice. It fucking hurt. The truth was meant to hurt anyway, he thought.

Chapter Text

It was Christmas Eve and Castiel was lying in bed staring at the ceiling. The distant sound of cars in the highway proved soothing as he tried to sleep. It seemed to remind him that life went on outside of his troubled mind. It always took him hours to fall into slumber. Even then it was never peaceful. Just broken and interrupted.

Missouri cracked open the door a little at around 1a.m. She always did that to check up on him. He found it both comforting and a little annoying at the same time. He could always hear her padding off to check on Gabe, Michael and Anna too. Castiel couldn't complain though, Missouri had been so good to them. She took them all in when no one else would. She gave them a roof over their heads, food to eat and so much more. Castiel would be forever grateful for her kindness.

He sighed as he turned his head to where a dim light was shining through the thin curtains of his window. Soon, as always, he found his thoughts turning to Dean. Dean hadn't been online tonight. Cas had waited up for him but he never signed in. He guessed he probably had stuff to do since it was Christmas Eve and all. Though he had been pleasantly surprised the night before when Dean had wished him a happy birthday. Although, he was pretty sure he'd never mentioned his birthday to Dean since he hated people making a fuss over it.

His eyes were slowly beginning to droop closed when he heard something tap lightly against his window. His eyes went wide as he gazed through the dark towards the window where there was another few light taps. He then realized it was tiny stones being thrown at his window. Who the hell does that at this time of night? In fact … who the hell does that at all anymore? It was honestly like something out of a horribly cheesy 80’s movie.

He sighed frustratedly and stepped out of bed, heading towards the window. After tugging the curtains apart, he peered down at where Dean Winchester was standing like an adorable idiot all wrapped up with a scarf around his neck and a hat on his head, beckoning him down with a smile Castiel couldn't resist. 

Cas quickly pulled on a pair of sweatpants, thick woolly socks, his new Ugg boots and a sweater before running down the stairs as quietly as possible and out the front door. He could see his breath leaving his mouth in puffs of steam as he walked towards Dean with a small smile."Hello," he said softly before punching Dean’s arm hard.

"Ouch!" Dean yelled, rubbing his arm with a pained groan. "What was that for?"

"Bringing me outside at after one in the morning. What was so important that you couldn't text me or something?" he asked, arms folded across his chest as he shivered in the cold a little.

Dean grinned before pulling a very badly wrapped present out from beneath his jacket. "Uhm, I guess it's a Christmas and birthday present," he said, handing the present to Castiel.

Castiel took it gingerly and opened it carefully to reveal a red button-up sweater. It was absolutely gorgeous and Castiel smiled down at it. "Thank you, Dean. I love it," he said quietly as he gazed up at Dean through his eyelashes with a shy smile on his face and his cheeks rosy from the cold.

Dean took a few steps towards him and Castiel's face became a little more serious as his eyes flickered between Dean's beautiful eyes and those plump lips. Dean's hand slowly rested on Castiel's arm as he tilted his head and Castiel's heart was hammering in his chest as his eyes fell closed as he awaited the imminent kiss.

Then Dean huffed out a laugh and Castiel's brows furrowed, eyes snapping open. "What?" he muttered, feeling like a fool before he noticed that Dean wasn't laughing at him

"It's snowing," Dean whispered, lips brushing against Castiel's as tiny snowflakes fell all around them. Castiel's eyes darted upwards and he smiled. He smiled genuinely for the first time in years.

Dean must've noticed Castiel's happiness because soon their lips were pressed together in a perfect kiss. Dean's arms snaked their way around Cas' waist as his own arms wrapped around Dean's neck.

He knew what he had with Dean was flawed in many ways. He knew it would probably never work out or Dean would turn out to be a jerk or something would come between them. Because Dean didn’t know Castiel. Not really. But, just for one night, Castiel decided that he could let himself have this one thing; if only for tonight. He let himself believe that this would work. That everything was going to be okay. Because he needed it. 

When Dean pulled away for breath, Cas found himself instantly missing those lips against his. "Merry Christmas, Cas," Dean whispered, frozen nose pressed against Castiel's as he smiled at him with that smile that almost made Castiel’s heart leap out of his damn chest.

"Merry Christmas, you dork."

And so, for one night only, Castiel's life was perfect.

Chapter Text

To say Dean freaked out after the impromptu kiss was a huge understatement. He spent the next day trying to work out what the hell his feelings were doing exactly. Castiel seemed to be a permanent fixture in Dean's mind. He couldn't stop thinking about those blue eyes and those soft lips and the way his heart had thundered in his chest when Cas kissed him. It terrified Dean just how much he liked it. He didn't want to admit it to himself at first, but he had enjoyed the far too brief kiss way too much. Maybe he wanted more. Maybe he actually wanted Cas.

It was a scary concept for Dean to get his head around. He wanted a damn guy. At first, it made him feel sick. He stayed in bed long into the afternoon just staring at the wall and thinking about last night. Nausea churned in his stomach as that moment kept replaying itself over and over again in Dean's head until he couldn't take it anymore and he kicked the sheets off of himself and grabbed his phone to call the only person he knew would listen.

"Hey, Dean-o," Jo's overly-happy voice rang through Dean's speaker and he sighed softly, now staring up at the ceiling.

"Hi, Jo," he replied, not so enthusiastically.

Jo seemed to sense his mood instantly and she quickly asked, "What's wrong?"

"H-He kissed me last night." It was weird actually saying it. It felt as though it didn't actually happen. Like it was part of some fucked up dream … or nightmare. But he knew by the way he wanted to throw-up right then and there that it did happen and there was nothing he could do to change that.

It seemed to take Jo a while to realize just what Dean was saying, but soon she was shrieking excitedly. "Dean! Oh god, that is awesome! I owe that boy a damn fruit basket. So, when are you guys going on a date? Need some help choosing something to wear, because I know how y--"

"Jo," Dean interrupted, voice tired and anything but as excited as Jo sounded.

"What?"

"There is no date." How could there've been? Castiel had just ran off and left straight after their kiss and hadn't even given an explanation or anything. What if he had just kissed Dean purely because they were under the mistletoe?

"You freaked out, didn't you?" Jo asked, sounding a little less excited now.

Dean let out a heavy sigh, rubbing his eyes with a groan. "No. He just left. We were .... under some mistletoe."

Dean found the laugh that erupted from the other end of the line after a few moments incredibly irritating. He contemplated just hanging up and going back to sleep or something. "That's so cute," Jo squeaked.

"No. It's not. It's far from cute, Jo," Dean replied, biting down on his bottom lip before sitting up. The sight of his laptop sat on top of his desk silently made his stomach flip uncomfortably and he had to look away. "What the hell do I do now?"

"You call him up and ask him out on a date, dumbo," she replied and Dean groaned, rolling his eyes.

"You don't get it, Jo. I can't." He groaned again, this time louder. "I'm so fucking confused right now."

Jo was silent for a long while before Dean could hear movement through the phone. "Right. I'm coming over and we're going for a drive."

"Jo, I really don't feel--"

"No, I'm not letting you sit around feeling sorry for yourself and whining about your sexuality crisis."

"This is not a sexuality crisis, Jo!"

"Really? 'Cause it sure sounds like one to me. You like Cas but you don't wanna admit to yourself or anyone else that you're gay," Jo said and the words just felt as though they were spears right through his chest. Then Jo sighed, supposedly realizing how harsh her words seemed. "Look, I'm sorry, but I just don't want you to feel as though the way you feel about Castiel is somehow wrong. C'mon, let's meet at that place we used to hang out when we were kids. I'll bring some pie and we'll talk, okay?"

Dean couldn't help but agree. He felt as if he needed someone like Jo to talk to in person. Jo was the only one who could actually help him right now. She was the only one who could help him with anything and everything. Jo had been his best friend since he was five years old and since then, she had helped him through so much. She helped him when his mom died and the first few times his dad was hospitalized for his alcoholism. She helped him through numerous break-ups and, in return, he had helped her through her father's death. He knew that Jo was going to be able to help him through this. What he didn't know, was if he wanted her to help him through it.

***

Dean got to the wooded hideout before Jo. He sat down on one of the huge logs that had been there for as long as he could remember. It had been quite a long time since Dean had been here. All of ‘the gang’ used to hang out here after school when they were kids. Dean, Jo, Sam and Ash. They'd make up ghost stories and play games which were long since forgotten today. Though Dean could still remember how carefree everything was back then. No thoughts about love. No thoughts about sports scholarships and the future ahead. Just a couple of kids having innocent fun.

"Still the same after all these years," Jo's voice said wistfully from behind him, making him jump just a little. She sat down beside him and took a long look around in silence, Dean could tell that she too wished she was still six years old, running around playing hide-and-seek and cops and robbers.

Dean nodded in agreement as he stared down at the leave-covered ground. "Yeah. Still feels the same too," he said, lips curling up into a half-smile.

"Remember the time Ash tried to climb that tree?" Jo reminisced, pointing to a nearby tree which now had fewer branches than Dean remembered. He smirked at the memory. "Poor guy had a cast 'round his arm for weeks afterwards. His mom even told him never to come back here ever again. But he always did."

"That's 'cause he had a crush on you," Dean chuckled earning him a punch on the arm from Jo.

"Shut up," she laughed before resting her head against Dean's shoulder and sighing contentedly. "Tell me what happened."

Dean paused for a moment, a frown appearing on his face. "We grew up," he said, almost mournfully.

"No," Jo chuckled, rolling her eyes. "I didn't mean what happened to us. I meant what happened with you and Castiel last night?"

His heart fluttered at the damn name but at the same time, his stomach churned and he felt as though he could just throw up all over the ground. He cleared his throat and shrugged. "I went out to the corridor for air. He appeared. We talked. He gave me a present. He kissed me. He left. That's it."

There was silence for a few moments as if Jo was analyzing this information thoroughly. "So, what was the present?"

Dean's hand immediately slid into his jacket pocket and he lifted out the mixtape carefully. Jo looked down at it with a small smile. On the label, in Castiel’s neat handwriting, was, 'For Dean'. He hadn't noticed that the night before because of the darkened corridor. It made his heart skip another few beats and butterflies went crazy in his stomach. Why did Cas even have this effect on him? 

"A mixtape? That’s so adorable, I think I might puke," Jo said, never taking her eyes off the small cassette tape in Dean's hands. "What songs are on it?"

"Dunno yet," Dean muttered, turning the tape around and around in his hands. "Haven't had the chance to play it."

"Doesn't the Impala have a cassette tape player?" Jo asked. "Oh, and I think I might have an old portable cassette tape player lying around at home if you want it. Just so you can listen to it on the go."

Dean nodded, but he wasn't fully listening. He was just staring down at the tape in his hands and frowning. He didn't know what to do. He was confused as hell and he didn't even want to talk to or think about Castiel right now, let alone listen to a mixtape that he'd obviously worked hard on just for Dean.

Dean didn't know how to cope with that new information. Castiel was trying so hard to get along with Dean, maybe more. Dean didn't know if he could handle that pressure. He kept telling himself that he'd just disappoint him or let him down like he did with everyone he loved. Not that he loved Castiel just yet. But every time he looked into those perfect blue eyes he could feel himself falling a little deeper. And it scared the crap out of him.

***

Dean didn't go near his laptop at all on Sunday night, and when he arrived at school on Monday, he made it his goal to avoid Castiel as much as possible. He just couldn't face him after what had happened on Saturday night. He felt if he faced Castiel, he would also be facing a lot of other crap that he really didn't feel like facing right now. So, he did his best to stay away.

It worked well for the first few lessons since Castiel wasn't in any of Dean's classes. Then it got to English time and Dean sat at his desk, trying to stop the shaking in his hands. He really didn't want to see Castiel. But, somehow he couldn't take his eyes off the door. As if he was awaiting Castiel's entrance with anticipation.

When he finally did arrive, Dean averted his gaze to the textbook in front of himself immediately. He had specifically pulled his chair as far away as possible so that he would be at least two inches away from Cas at all times and not half as close as he'd allowed himself to be all those weeks before.

He felt blue eyes on him as Castiel took his seat beside him. He stared down at the pages of his textbook even more intensely, but all he was thinking was, 'don't look at him, don't fucking look at him.'

Halfway through the class, just when Mr. Shurley had left to go and print something out, Castiel turned to look at Dean. He instantly became more aware of his palms sweating as his nerves set in and all he wanted to do was get up and sprint out of the classroom and get as far away from Castiel as he could.

"I've messed everything up, haven't I?" Cas asked, voice soft and low, but Dean didn't even flinch. He just kept his eyes on the board at the front of the room. All he wanted to do was turn around and tell Cas that, no, he hadn't messed everything up. That the reason he was being like this was that he wasn't ready to accept the fact that he was gay right now. It would sound absolutely ridiculous and Dean didn’t even know who or what he was at the moment anyway. He was just so damn confused. So, he just stayed silent and ignored Cas' soft sigh.

***

The next day, Dean had English first. He was nervous about yet another awkward encounter with Castiel but thankfully, his car broke down and he had to wait almost half an hour for Bobby to come round and fix her. Mr. Shurley had already begun the class by the time Dean arrived. He muttered his apology before taking his seat.

He commenced a five-minute long dig around in his backpack for his books. Then he noticed something. Castiel wasn't there. It was weird because Castiel hadn't been absent for weeks. Dean frowned and tried not to show too much care as he cracked open his textbook, promising himself that he’d just focus on the lesson today.

But he couldn't stop thinking and worrying about Castiel all day. That number also popped into his brain as he ate lunch with the same bunch of people who chattered quietly around him. 68%. Like a mantra, it spun around in his head. He felt sick, pushing his tray of fries away from himself and rubbing his hands across his face with a frustrated groan.

"Dean?" Jo's voice said softly across the table. He looked over at her with a frown and he knew that she could tell immediately what was wrong with him. She reached over to place her hand over his and offered him a small smile.

That was when Adam appeared and his gaze instantly landed on where Jo’s hand was resting on Dean’s. "Hey, Jo, baby," Adam said, glaring inconspicuously over at Dean. Dean just rolled his eyes and took his hand away from Jo’s. He had enough drama right now with Castiel and his own life. He really didn't need the extra stress with Adam's unnecessary jealousy.

"You really should talk to him, Dean," Jo said around a bite of her burger, seemingly paying no attention to Adam. "I've never seen you this miserable."

"I'm not miserable!" Dean protested, glaring at Jo. But he knew better than anyone that it was a lie.

 Jo, as usual, could see right through his facade and rolled her eyes as she took a long sip of her soda before saying simply, "Man-up, Winchester."

 ***

Dean didn't know what made him sign in to his messenger that night. Maybe it was Jo's words of encouragement which sounded vaguely like threats to him. Or maybe it was because Castiel had been absent for the first time in weeks today and he wanted to know if it was because he was being a douchebag. Again.

Castiel wasn't online when he first signed in. So, Dean spent a few hours aimlessly surfing the internet and watching funny YouTube videos and maybe some porn. He was just finished a game of Solitaire when he heard the little ding which informed him that Castiel had just signed in.

He instantly felt anxious as he clicked on Cas' name and up popped the chat-box. He paused for a moment, fingers hovering over the keys of his keyboard as he tried to decide what to say. He eventually just settled for a simple 'hey' and waited. Dean didn't even realize he was holding his breath until there was a knock on his door and he let out a long exhale.

"Yeah?" he asked as his little brother's head peeked round the door.

"Dad wants to know if you've got anything planned for Sunday night," Sam said, running a hand through his shaggy hair.

Dean thought for a while before shaking his head. "Nope. Why?"

"He's having grandma and grandpa Campbell over for lunch," he replied with a roll of his eyes.

Dean nodded at that before Sam left. When he turned back to face his laptop, Castiel had replied.

Castiel_N says: hi

Dean couldn't help but glare at his laptop screen, as if he was waiting for Castiel to say something else. But he didn't, and Dean had to think up something quickly to avoid this becoming an awkward conversation.

D_Winchester says: Why did you kiss me?

Okay, maybe that wasn't quite what he was going for, but he needed to know. Not that the reason would make what happened any easier to deal with. Dean would still be as confused as he was before about his feelings for this blue-eyed mussy-haired boy.

It took a long while for Castiel to answer and Dean even thought he'd just never reply. He wouldn't blame him. In some ways, Dean was glad that he wasn't the one who made the first move. He would never have been able to explain coherently why he had felt the urge to kiss those outrageously attractive pink lips.

Castiel_N says: It was a spur of the moment decision.

Castiel_N says: I had consumed a little too much alcohol beforehand.

Castiel_N says: There was mistletoe.

Castiel_N says: and I guess the biggest reason was that ... I wanted to.

Dean could feel his eyes widen and he just didn't know what to say to that. If Castiel had just typed out those first few lines but left out the last one, Dean could've handled that, but since he'd said that ... Dean was just shocked. He sat there for quite some time before trying to type out a half-decent reply at least.

At first he was going to go off on an angry rant at how he definitely was not gay. But he knew better than anyone that Castiel just wouldn't buy that at all. Then he erased that idea and went for a much more simple but extremely ambiguous,

D_Winchester says: ok

He didn't know what to do. He was shaking and he felt like the temperature in his room had gone up a few degrees. He rubbed a hand over his forehead. If Jo thought he was freaking-out earlier, she should see him right now. This was full on panic-mode. Dean hadn't been this afraid since he thought he'd lost Sammy in a shopping mall a few years ago when his dad told him specifically not to.

Castiel_N says: i have ruined everything, haven't I?

Dean was then reminded of how hurt Cas looked in English the other day when he had just ignored him after he’d asked this question. He couldn't just tell Castiel that there was no hope for them. Even though he knew it was probably true. This wouldn't last. Anything between them would just crash and burn horribly and leave them both hurt.

But this was crunch time. Whatever Dean said right now would affect the way their relationship developed or ended. He had two choices. He could go with his head and tell Cas that he had messed things up and that they should stay with each other. Or he could go with his heart and say one simple word.

D_Winchester says: no

***

The days after that seemed almost too good to actually be Dean's life. Castiel returned to school and they resumed their friendly banter and even had lunch together on Friday. Jo teased Dean tirelessly about how happy he looked and Dean couldn't find it in him to even deny the fact that it was all because he was finally getting along with Castiel again. 

Dean would give Castiel rides home from school and they'd make out in his car. Things never went any further than that though. It was way too soon for both of them. So, Dean may have had to jerk off in the shower a few times after a particularly heated make-out session with his ... boyfriend?

The word felt weird to even think about, never mind say. Although Dean had warned Cas that they needed to keep all this a secret, he still felt majorly self-conscious about this whole situation. He was with a guy. It was strange because Dean had never let himself give in to these suppressed desires before. Castiel had changed him. And he wasn’t sure if it was for the better or for the worse.

Jo slept over that weekend and they both listened to Cas' mixtape together on an old portable cassette tape player late at night as they curled up together in Dean’s bed. Dean held one earphone to his left ear as they both sat close together on his bed and was shocked to hear an upbeat song blast through the earphone.

He smirked as he read the little note Castiel had written beside the track number, 'Just thought I'd begin with an upbeat song so that you are not under the false impression that I am as boring as you seem to think.'

Dean was impressed with Castiel's taste of music until the words, 'wise men say, only fools rush in,' began singing through the earphone. He groaned at the sound of that song. He hated the Elvis version already but this was a little more cheerful and reggae style. Jo smiled sadly down at the note beside that track number which read, 'A song that has been a part of my life since I was a child. It was my mother's favorite song, so therefore it holds a huge amount of significance to me. I listen to it when I miss her.' Dean instantly felt a little bad for hating a song that obviously meant a lot to Castiel.

A few tracks later and the words on the very last track number read simply, 'my favorite song.' It wasn't really Dean's type of music, but something about the lyrics really struck a chord deep inside him. He wondered briefly why this was Castiel's favorite song. Was it because he felt as if the guy was singing about him? To him? For him? The song slowly began to get a little more powerful and Dean really did find it beautiful. It was so inspiring and empowering.

As the song slowly began to fade away, Dean felt as if he had subconsciously gotten to know Cas a lot better just by listening to the mixtape. Like the songs had told Dean things that words never could. 

/ It's alright if you don't know what you need /

Chapter Text

Christmas came and went. Dean knew that going to Cas' house in the middle of the night to give him his Christmas present was beyond cheesy, but he didn't really care. Within the next week, Dean couldn't stop listening to the mixtape. Soon, he found himself singing along to the songs he wouldn't usually like. He listened to it in his car, in bed at night and even in the shower, always thinking about one thing: Castiel.

Christmas Day was filled with food, presents and absolutely no alcohol in the Winchester house. Sam had thrown out every drop of liquor or beer he could find in the house. That would turn out to be quite unnecessary though, as their dad was cheerful and sober for the whole of Christmas Day. Which was a record considering that last Christmas, Dean had to clean up puke on the kitchen floor as Sam helped his dad up the stairs and into bed after he'd had a huge fight with Bobby. This was a nice change though.

Dean bought Sam a few Stephen King books because he had no idea what the hell to buy a fifteen year old nerd at Christmas. Obviously, he'd made the right choice as Sam wouldn't put the damn books down all day. He also bought his dad a new leather jacket since he had given his old one to him a few months back. Dean got a few CDs and a calendar full of pictures of classic cars from Sam, clothes from his dad and a huge red stuffed Angry Birds plush thing from Jo. He couldn't help but roll his eyes at it as Sam laughed loudly. Thankfully, he had bought her something equally as embarrassing. A life-size cardboard cut-out of Justin Bieber.

The week after Christmas Day consisted of challenging Sam to different games on their new Xbox and being lazy by eating all the food in sight and lying around the house all day long. When it came to December 30th, Dean still had no idea what he was going to do on New Year's Eve. Luckily, Jo had planned a huge party at the Roadhouse which she promptly invited him to just in time.

***

Dean was standing at the bar downing his third beer as he glanced at the time on his phone. 23:16. Jo appeared beside him with a huge grin and glassy eyes. She looked more wasted than Dean had ever seen her before and Adam staggered up behind her, holding her tightly around the waist in an obvious attempt to let Dean know who she belonged to (and maybe to support her effort to stand up straight too).

"Havin' fun?" she asked, leaning right over into Dean's personal space. The stench of alcohol in her breath was almost in itself overly-intoxicating and Dean couldn't help but chuckle at her slurred words and the way Adam looked so green-eyed with jealousy as he stood behind her.

"Oh, yeah," Dean replied, taking another gulp of his beer before placing the cup down on the counter. "You look like you're having fun too."

Jo giggled loudly with a nod and a hiccup. "Yep!" She then leaned in close again to whisper in his ear, "I've got a surprise for you."

Dean's eyes widened a little and he glanced over at Adam who looked furious at how close Jo was getting to him. "Oh really?" he chuckled, leaning away from her a little to show Adam that he wasn’t interested in Jo in that way.

"Mmh-Hmm," she hummed with a grin that suggested she was very proud of herself. "It's in the back room." She then placed her hand on Dean's chest, tried to wipe some of the make-up she had accidentally smudged onto it off of it before winking at him. That was when Adam sighed heavily and pulled her away towards the dancefloor.

Dean didn't move for a little while. He thought that maybe Jo was just overly-drunk and didn't know what she was talking about. Then, his curiosity got the better of him and he found himself lifting up the latch and heading behind the bar and into the back room, closing the door tightly behind himself.

It was dark and he struggled to find the light switch. His hands slipped over the wall until he finally found the switch, pressing it with just enough pressure to flood the room with light. When he turned around, he wasn't expecting to see Castiel standing there with a stupid goofy smile on his face.

He cleared his throat, one corner of his mouth curling up into a smirk as he checked Cas out slowly. That dark hair was all mussed just the way Dean liked it, those blue eyes were sparkling under the light and Dean could smell his cologne from where he stood. All Dean wanted to do right now was walk over there and push him up against the wall, inhale his scent and cover that exposed neck in lovebites to let everyone know that this gorgeous guy was taken.

As Dean checked him out further, he noticed that Cas was wearing the red button-up sweater that he'd bought him for Christmas along with a white polo shirt underneath and sandy coloured chinos with red converse shoes which matched his sweater. To Dean, Castiel looked so hot and adorable at the same time and he couldn't decide what he wanted to do first: kiss him breathless or get him naked.

"Hey," Castiel breathed out and Dean didn't know why that deep, husky voice made his heart skip a beat in his chest.

Dean took a few steps closer to Castiel as the music from the Roadhouse boomed outside the door. "Hi. How was your week?" he asked lamely, a slight blush creeping onto his cheeks. He hadn't seen or spoken to Castiel since Christmas Eve, but it felt like years to him.

Castiel shrugged, knuckles covered by the sleeves of his sweater as he glanced around the room. "It was good," he replied softly, reminding Dean of how nervous Castiel was the first time they met properly right here just a few doors away all those weeks ago. So many things had changed since that night. "How was yours?"

"Good," Dean replied. He paused for a while before rolling his eyes. He absolutely hated small-talk. But he didn't know what the hell to talk about since the last few times they met up in private had been to make-out and then say goodbye. "I really liked your mixtape," he finally said, desperate to keep up an interesting conversation for once.

Castiel's face seemed to brighten at that and he gazed into Dean's eyes with a smile. "Really? What was your favorite song on it?" he asked, seemingly suddenly extremely interested in whatever Dean had to say.

Dean thought for a while before scratching the back of his neck and replying, "I liked them all, but that song about not being perfect but always trying or something was my favorite." God, he really wasn't good with all this chick-flick stuff, but Castiel made it all seem so easy.

"Perfect by Hedley? Yeah, I love that song," Castiel said as he nodded.

"At first, I hated that 'Can't Help Falling in Love With You' song because I hate the Elvis version. But I really liked that version you put on the mixtape. It was much more cheerful," he said before remembering the little note that Castiel had written beside the track number. "What happened to your mom then?" The expression on Cas' face changed so dramatically that Dean instantly regretted asking that question. Him and his stupid big mouth. Damn it. 

"She died," Castiel said, voice so soft and breathy that it was barely audible.

"I-I'm sorry, I shouldn't have--"

"No," Castiel interrupted, shaking his head as he stared at the floor. His fingers were pulling at his sleeves, keeping them firmly over his knuckles as he frowned heavily. Dean's heart wrenched painfully at how upset Castiel looked. "It's okay. She died in a car crash when I was eight."

Dean bit down on his bottom lip. God, why did he have to ask about that of all things? "My mom is dead too," he said, thinking that those words would comfort Castiel or make things better somehow. "She died when I was six. A house fire."

Castiel gazed over at Dean with sadness in his eyes as they stood in silence together, the music still playing loudly out in the bar. "I'm sorry," he whispered softly.

Dean nodded and cleared his throat, not wanting to get too emotional in front of Castiel. "Nah, it was years ago. I hardly remember it," he lied. He didn't even want to think about it right now.

After taking a few steps forwards, Castiel raised his hand to cup Dean's cheek gently. Dean closed his eyes, leaning into the touch. In that moment, it felt like he and Cas were the only ones in the whole building. He took a deep breath through his nose, Cas' cologne filling his nostrils and his presence comforting him.

The people in the bar began counting down at the top of their lungs as Castiel pressed closer. Dean could feel the heat radiating from his body and instinctively wrapped his arms around his waist, pulling him closer, needing him closer. Their lips were brushing as the shouts of the people in the bar got louder and louder.

Four!

Dean could feel Cas' warm breath against his lips. He could feel the air between them get thicker with anticipation.

Three!

He took a deep breath, getting lost in this moment. Their moment.

Two!

A tilt of the head and the hitch of Castiel's breath was all it took.

One!

At the first gentle press of their lips together, Dean let out a soft pleased noise. The cheers in the bar were drowned out by Dean's overwhelming feelings towards Castiel. All he could feel, all he could hear, all he smell and all he could taste was Castiel. At that moment, he realized that all he wanted was Castiel. As their tongues tangled languidly and their hands explored each other's bodies, they rang the New Year in together with the unspoken promise of making it better for each other.

Chapter Text

That night, Castiel pretty much begged Dean to go home with him. He didn't have to beg for long though, because Dean was definitely in the mood for going home with him. Once they got to Cas' door, Dean's nerves finally settled in. He realized that he'd never actually been inside Castiel's house, and that he was a little drunk right now, and that tonight might be the night he'd have to actually face up to the fact that he was gay.

He stood still for a few moments as Castiel fumbled with the keys before chuckling softly when he eventually managed to get the door opened. He then turned around and supposedly noticed Dean's worried expression and rolled his eyes, taking his hand and pulling him inside. "No one's home, silly," he told him, closing the door behind them. "Anna is still at Jo's party, Gabriel's out partying with his own friends and Michael's outta town."

When Castiel finally turned on the light, Dean was shocked by how huge Castiel's house really was inside. He was only in the hallway and it felt like he could fit his whole house in here. Okay, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration, but it was gigantic. The floor was wooden and the house had a distinct homely feel to it. The whole house smelled like apple and cinnamon, very Christmassy. There were red and green fairy lights wrapped all the way up the banister of the staircase and Christmas decorations were placed neatly all around the hall.

"What about your step-mom?" Dean asked, turning his attention back to Castiel who was slipping off his sweater before helping Dean shrug off his jacket and hanging it on the coat-rack which was standing right beside the front door.

"Missouri is visiting relatives in Oklahoma for New Year's. She won't be back tonight," he replied, lowering his voice as he turned around to face Dean with a flirtatious grin on his face. Dean was getting the impression that Castiel had plans for them both tonight. How could he refuse?

Dean returned the grin, raising an eyebrow. "Oh really?" he asked teasingly, trailing his teeth over his bottom lip and wrapping his arms around Castiel's waist to pull him close. He pressed a gentle kiss to his lips and he felt Cas melt against him with a soft noise that sent shivers down Dean's spine and sparks of arousal straight to his groin.

That was when his phone buzzed in his pocket. He groaned softly in irritation as he tugged it out, one arm still wrapped tightly around Cas' waist who kept pecking distractedly at his jawline and even slid his hand underneath Dean’s shirt slowly. "Hello?" Dean answered into his phone, eyes on the ceiling as he tried to keep his breathing normal. Stupid hot Cas.

"Hey, Dean," Sam's cheerful voice shouted from the other end of the phone. Dean frowned at the noise in the background which clearly suggested that Sam was at some sort of party. After last time, he didn't know if he trusted his little brother at parties anymore. "Happy New Year!"

"You at a club?" he asked almost immediately, breath hitching when Castiel squeezed his ass and he tried to ignore him, rolling his eyes.

Dean could hear Sam speaking to someone before turning his attention back to him. "'Course not. Just at a friend's house."

"Which friend?"

Sam sighed heavily through the phone before giggling at something a girlish voice had said to him. "Doesn't matter."

"Which friend's house, Sam?" Dean demanded, this time more sternly as he pushed Cas away from himself gently.

Dean could hear some movement on the other end of the phone before Sam's loud laugh echoed through and a velvety smooth voice Dean knew all too well said, "Dean Winchester, stop being a such cock-block and let your brother have some fun for once." Then the line went dead and Dean's blood boiled as he ran a hand frustratedly through his hair.

"Bitch!" he shouted, slipping his phone into his back pocket.

"What is it?" Castiel asked. Dean was shrugging on his jacket as Castiel watched him with curious eyes.

"That manipulative cow is with Sam," he groaned angrily, rubbing his eyes. Fuck, he was far too drunk to drive. Could he make it to Ruby's without crashing his car? He had no clue, all he knew was that he needed to get his little brother out of there.

"Who?"

"Ruby," Dean replied, tugging his car keys out of his pocket before Cas' long fingers wrapped around them almost instantly.

"I'll drive," Cas said softly and Dean tried not to notice the disappointment in his eyes. Yeah, he had wanted to get it on tonight too. But, his damn cock-blocking brother obviously had other plans for Dean tonight. He frowned at Castiel before leaning in for a gentle kiss.

"Next time," he promised and Castiel nodded in agreement.

***

When they got to Ruby's house, Dean told Castiel to stay in the car. He might've been a little drunk, but he still had the sense to know that no one could see them together (especially in the same car). That was also why he chose to tell him to park the Impala one street away from Ruby's house just so that they'd be hidden out of plain sight. Dean didn't really pay much attention to how Castiel was feeling about this. He guessed that letting the guy drive his beloved baby should be enough proof of just how much he cared about him.

He sighed as he made his way towards the house. Dean couldn't believe how incredibly stupid, reckless and irresponsible Sam was being right now. He was supposed to be the sensible Winchester. The smart one. Not the trouble-making black sheep like Dean. Sam better not have taken any drugs at this party or Dean was going to make sure to ring his (and whoever gave him the drugs in the first place's) neck.

The cool night's air managed to calm Dean down a little before he finally made his way through Ruby's front door. He waded his way through the crowd of wasted, high and overly-touchy teenagers, eyes searching for that long-haired moose. Sam was apparently nowhere to be seen. Dean searched the entire living room, kitchen, bathroom and any other rooms he could downstairs before pushing past a couple who were making out at the foot of the stairs. That earned him a slurred, 'hey, watch it!' as he took the stairs two at a time.

When he swung open the first door on his right upstairs, he was greeted with the sight of a messy bathroom and a few people crowded around someone who was slumped against the bathtub. Dean's eyebrows furrowed. Surely that couldn't be Sam. One of the girls glanced over her shoulder and Dean recognized her straightaway as that blonde girl -- Jess. She had tears staining her cheeks and looked just as shocked as Dean must've. The girl beside her also turned round and her eyes widened to the size of saucers when she noticed Dean. "Dean," she breathed out, causing Jess' eyes to flicker with realization.

"His brother?" she guessed and Bela nodded in affirmation.

"I-Is that Sam?" Dean choked out, even though he already knew the answer to that. He pushed the girls apart carefully so that he could see who was on the floor. When he saw the state his little brother was in, he almost threw up right then and there.

Sam was slumped against the side of the bathtub, obviously unconscious with vomit dripping down his chin and his bangs hanging over his face. Dean's stomach churned and his hand shot up to cover his mouth. The way that Sam was slumped over like that reminded Dean so much of how their father would look after a particularly bad bender. Of how their dad had looked that night the ambulance came for him when Dean was only nine years old and he was so terrified, thinking his dad was dead.

Thankfully, Jess managed to think fast and told everyone to leave the bathroom except for Dean. She moved Sam down to lie on the cold tiles of the bathroom floor and rolled him onto his side with a groan. Dean crouched down beside her, eyes on Sam. He felt frozen with fear as he watched Jess stick her fingers into Sam's slack mouth, making sure there was nothing in there before glancing at Dean with mascara running down her cheeks. "Call nine-one-one!" she shouted, snapping Dean right back to reality.

He nodded lamely, scrambling to his feet and tugging out his phone to dial 911 with a shaking hand. Dean tried to answer all the questions that the operator was asking him as clearly and accurately as he could despite the whirlwind of emotions that were whirring through his head. He stared at where Jess was now forcing Sam onto his back before pinching his nose and blowing hard into his mouth, eyes screwed shut.

"What did he take?" Dean asked Jess frantically after the operator had asked him.

Jess gasped in a deep breath when she pulled away from Sam. Then she turned to Dean and shrugged, tears still filling her eyes. "I-I dunno. People were saying that Ruby was passing round dope," she answered shakily.

Dean's whole body was shaking now with a combination of both anger and fear, but he had to stay strong. If not for himself, but for Sam. He quickly informed the operator and she asked him a few more questions before telling him that an ambulance was on its way. "Hurry, please," he pleaded before hanging up, putting his phone away and running a hand down his face as Jess gave Sam a few more strong puffs of air.

She was shaking too. Dean could see tears staining Sam's shirt and, for a brief moment, he hated his little brother for putting them both through this. Jess obviously cared a lot about Sam and if she was as scared as Dean was right now, then he had a lot of respect for her. The way she was staying calm and strong, trying her hardest to keep Sam alive was truly inspirational and Dean really liked this girl.

But there was no time for getting to know her right now. Dean felt so useless as he watched Jess for what seemed like hours. "Where the fuck are they?!" he shouted, pacing around the bathroom anxiously. He then crouched down again to grab the collar of Sam's shirt and shake him firmly, tears forming in his own eyes. "Sam? Sammy?! Wake the hell up right now you son of a bitch!"

Jess pushed Dean away to lean forwards and breath another deep puff of air into Sam's lungs. "That's not gonna help," she breathed when she pulled away. Dean took a deep breath, noticing how Sam's lips were now tinted blue. "Stay calm."

Dean managed to take Jess' advice and stay calm for as long as possible. He was relieved when he finally heard the squeals of ambulance sirens outside. The paramedics filled the tiny bathroom and crowded around Sam, pushing Dean and Jess out of the way.

Jess wrapped her arm around Dean's waist to hold him back when he tried to barge past the paramedics and back into the bathroom. Instead, he had to watch from the doorway as the paramedics did their work and spoke about 'overdose' and 'Narcan'. Dean's head was spinning horribly and all he could think about was the 'what ifs...?'. What if Sam died? What if this was all Dean's fault? What if Dad blamed him for it? He would understand because, right now, he blamed himself too.

He was shaken out of his terrifying thoughts by the sound of a loud gasp of breath coming from the bathroom. Jess almost fell to the floor with relief when she heard it, but Dean held her up, eyes never leaving the bathroom. Sam was alive. He was okay.

***

Soon after Sam regained consciousness, the paramedics escorted him downstairs with Dean and Jess following close behind. Dean hated how everyone was staring blankly as the scene unfolded. He was almost overwhelmed by the sudden urge to tell everyone to just fuck off or take a picture which would undoubtly last longer. In a way, he was glad that he didn't see Ruby on his way out. Because if he had, he didn't know if he would've been able to control himself.

Sam was shoved into the back of the ambulance before Dean even had the chance to talk to him, or punch him, or hug him and tell him how much he loved him. Maybe it was good that he was taken away in the ambulance with Jess. It gave Dean time to think and clear his head.

He thought the whole way back to the Impala where Castiel had a worried look on his face. When Dean climbed into the car, he sighed heavily, burying his face in his hands. Now he was finally allowing himself to just calm down and take in the events of the past hour or so. It had been incredibly touch and go for a long time. Overall, he was just glad that Sam was alive and safe.

When he felt a comforting hand squeeze his shoulder and Cas' deep voice asking, "Dean? What is it?" he felt strangely calmer and less alone.

Dean glanced over at Castiel with tears filling his eyes, but he promised himself not to cry. How could he let himself cry when he wasn't the one being rushed to hospital with suspected Heroin overdose? How could he let himself cry when there were people out there who had it much worse than him? It was ridiculous. "Sam," he muttered, rubbing at his eyes as he looked away. "He ... Uh, overdosed on Heroin."

Castiel's eyes instantly widened and his mouth hung open in what could only be shock for several moments before he shook his head. "Suicide attempt?" he asked in a breathy voice causing Dean to give him a look of confusion and slight disbelief that he'd even imply that.

"What?! No! Of course not," he replied before rolling his eyes and settling back in the seat. "Just take me to the hospital."

Dean could almost feel second hand awkwardness and embarrassment just by the way Castiel had looked at him after saying that. But Dean had far bigger problems at the moment to worry himself about something stupid that had just happened to slip out of Cas' uncensored mouth.

***

When they arrived at the hospital, Dean demanded to see Sam immediately. Castiel had insisted on going into the hospital with Dean. At first, Dean had told him to just stay in the car, but Cas was being stubborn and had just followed Dean inside. A young nurse guided them towards Sam's room where he was apparently resting. He thanked her before beginning to head right on in.

"I'll wait here," Cas told him softly, stepping forwards a little. Dean froze, watching that gaze flicker down to his lips. His breath quickened and he hoped that Castiel wasn't about to kiss him in a public place. Surely he couldn't be that stupid?

Turned out that he was, in fact, just that stupid. He tilted his head, pressing a quick kiss to the corner of Dean's mouth. As much as Dean liked kissing Cas, he just couldn't do it in a damn public place. So, he placed his hands on his chest and pushed him away firmly, giving him a look. He had to look away soon after because Cas had that hurt puppy look on his face. Dean just sighed and turned right around, trying not to think about how he'd just hurt Castiel's feelings.

Dean entered Sam's room with a frown on his face. The first thing he saw was the back of Jess' head, her long blonde hair flowing over her shoulders as she sat on a chair at Sam's bedside. He closed the door carefully and that was when Jess noticed him, glancing back over her shoulder and forcing a smile. She just looked so tired as she grasped Sam's hand between her own.

"How is he?" Dean asked quietly, sitting down on the chair right beside Jess who just shrugged.

"The doctors said he'll be fine as long as he stays away from drugs in the future," she replied, thumb brushing over Sam's knuckles. "He'll have to stay in for a few hours for observation though."

Dean took a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair with a nod. He then took a look at Sam. Okay, so his lips weren't blue anymore and at least he was actually breathing normally now. But he shouldn't be lying here right now. They should both be still out enjoying the first night of the New Year. They shouldn't be stuck in a damn hospital. Dean didn't know whether to feel angry, relieved, disappointed or all three at Sam.

He'll never forget the sight of his little brother slumped up against that bathtub with vomit dripping from the side of his mouth. Then he remembered how Jess acted quickly and possibly played a part in saving Sam's life. "Thank you," he whispered, never taking his eyes off Sam.

"For what?"

"You pretty much saved his life just as much as the doctors did," he said before turning to look at her with an eyebrow raised. "How did you know what to do?"

Jess bit down on her bottom lip, looking back at Sam and swallowing thickly. "My brother. He ... died of an overdose a few years back. Before that, I had to save his addicted ass so many damn times. I'll always regret not being there that day."

Dean wasn't expecting that and he didn't really know what to say. Well, he wanted to punch Sam for putting this girl through this shit. It must've been ten times as traumatizing for her to see Sam like that as it was for him. "Sorry," he muttered, frowning a little. "You shouldn't have had to do the same for Sam. Fuck, that stupid moose had me so damn worried."

"When you love someone, you'll do anything to save them. No matter how scary it is. Sam is worth it. He's so worth it. Regardless of what he has done with Ruby," she said sincerely, tears filling her eyes as she looked over at Dean. "I'll always be there to save him." Dean couldn't help but smile at that. This girl was amazing and he was so glad that Sam had found someone as beautiful and kind-hearted as her.

Sam tossed in his sleep soon after with a groan before his eyes fluttered open and his gaze settled on Jess. He managed a weak smile and she immediately got to her feet, getting closer to him. She looked so torn for a few moments before she raised a hand and slapped Sam right across the face. Dean'll never admit it, but that kinda made him feel a little better. Then Jess lunged forwards, taking Sam's face between her hands and planting a loving kiss on his lips. Sam's hands waved around a little for a split second before they settled on the sides of Jess' torso, holding her close.

"Eugh, you taste of puke," she murmured, but that didn't stop her from pecking at his lips continuously. "You scared me so much you idiot. Don't ever do that to me ever again, you hear me?"

Dean cleared his throat, looking away as Sam and Jess continued their game of tonsil tennis that Dean didn't really need to see. When they finally stopped, Dean watched as they panted against each other's lips, foreheads pressed together and eyes locked in a loving gaze that reminded Dean of what he and Cas looked like after a steamy make-out session. Which also, in turn, made him feel horrible for how he'd pushed Castiel away like that earlier.

"I'm so sorry. I love you, Jess," Sam whispered and Jess sobbed a little, nodding with a huge smile on her face.

"I love you too," she replied, tears rolling down her cheeks but Sam quickly dried them with his thumbs.

Dean cleared his throat again, but this time a little louder. Finally, Jess pulled away from Sam, taking his hand instead. Dean stepped forwards, staring at Sam with a frown on his face. Sam just lowered his head, smile turning into an ashamed frown. It looked like he was expecting Dean to unleash Hell on him. He definitely looked surprised when Dean leaned down to wrap his arms around him in a tight (manly, of course) hug.

He could feel Sam's cheek rising into a smile against his and he chuckled softly. "Fuck, Sammy. Don't ever scare me like that again," he groaned, pulling away to ruffle Sam's hair.

"I'm so sorry, Dean," Sam whispered and Dean just nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat. When it came down to it, Dean was just so fucking relieved that Sam was alive. He didn't care about what he'd done. He just wanted to make sure he never did it again. With Jess' love and support, he was pretty sure that Sam wouldn't do this ever again. And, of course, Dean was going to help him through this too. He just wasn't sure how their dad would react to it all.

***

Luckily, Dean didn't have to find out what his dad's reaction was that night. The hospital had rang him and he had told them that he'd be there to visit Sam in the morning. Dean knew what that was code for. He knew his dad was probably too wasted to come and see his son who had almost died. It made him furious. If Jess hadn't been there with Sam, he had no idea what would've happened.

He tried not to think too much about things that made him angry as he said his goodbyes, hugging Sam and then Jess before leaving the room. Dean wasn't really expecting Castiel to be slouched in a chair opposite the room after all these hours.

Dean yawned as he tugged out his phone to check the time. 5.04am. After putting his phone away, he stood there for a while, just watching Castiel sleep peacefully, chest rising and falling slowly as his eyelids fluttered slightly. Dean just wanted to kiss those sleep-slackened lips and wake Cas up just like that.

Instead, he just placed a hand on his shoulder and shook him gently out of his sleep. His eyes opened slowly and he took a look around, obviously not remembering where he was for a moment or two. Then he groaned and got to his feet, stretching out his limbs.

"Why did you stay? You should've went home," Dean said, noticing how exhausted Castiel looked.

Cas just shrugged, running his fingers through his already messy hair. Cas wasn't really looking at him and Dean knew why. He couldn't stop thinking about earlier either. He wanted to apologize, but he just didn't know how to. "That would've required taking your car. How would you have got home?" Cas reminded him, pursing his lips together and folding his arms across his chest.

Dean nodded. Good point. But he knew that they both knew Castiel could've just taken a taxi or something. The reason Castiel stayed was either because he wanted to be there for Dean, or he just didn't want to leave him alone. Dean believed it was a combination of both of those reasons.

"How's your brother?" he asked.

"He'll live," Dean replied simply, pushing open one of the double doors for Castiel as they headed towards the exit.

Neither of them talked again until they were in Dean's car and driving down the road aimlessly. Castiel was obviously giving Dean the silent treatment as he drove. Dean just rolled his eyes but promptly thought up an idea to soften Cas up a little. He searched around in the glovebox and found that mixtape. After slipping it into the car's radio cassette player, Castiel looked confused for a while as Dean fast-forwarded to one particular song and pressed play.

'Perfect' by Hedley seeped through the speakers and Dean watched Cas' face carefully. He could see the corners of those lips twitching up into a slight smile. This was Dean's way of saying sorry. He hoped that it was working. After a while, he turned the volume up a little as Cas continued to drive, keeping his eyes on the road.

Dean slipped his hand over to rest it on Castiel's thigh, giving it a gentle squeeze which caused Cas to roll his eyes. "Are we going to your house?" Dean asked, hoping Cas would say yes.

"Why?" Cas muttered, biting down on his bottom lip, eyes still fixed on the road ahead. Dean could tell that Cas was holding back his frustration just because he didn't want to make a bad night worse for him.

"Because I was an idiot and I wanna make it up to you," he flirted, face flushing as the words flowed out of his mouth almost without command.

There was silence for a while - apart from the song playing from the radio - before Castiel glanced over at Dean with a smirk on his face. "Whatever. Idiot."

Chapter Text

They arrived back at Castiel's house half an hour later. Dean was exhausted. It had been a horribly long night and the alcohol he'd consumed earlier was only now starting to wear off now, leaving him with a dull headache. 

Castiel locked the front door behind them and then led the way upstairs. Dean followed, gazing around when they got to the top. There were so many damn rooms that he was surprised Cas didn't get lost in this mansion.

When they got into Castiel's room, Castiel turned on a small bedside lamp which filled the room with soft, relaxing light. Dean watched as Castiel sat down on the edge of the double bed and slipped off his converse. Castiel's room was medium-sized. There was a closet, a dresser and a bookcase which looked as if they were purchased as part of a collection. The nightstand looked similar too. Castiel's double bed looked mega comfortable, but Dean just stood awkwardly in the middle of the room, not entirely sure what to do.

He was so fucking nervous right now. After having sex so many times with so many different girls, Dean thought he'd be able to handle this moment whenever it came. Unfortunately, he was way more nervous than he initially thought he would be. He chewed on his lip until he could taste blood, doing anything to occupy his shaking hands.

"Dean?" Cas' deep voice said from across the room, prompting Dean to glance over at him. He watched as Castiel beckoned him over with his finger.

Dean cleared his throat before shrugging off his jacket, letting it fall to the floor. He then made his way over slowly towards Cas' bed, their gazes locked. Maybe Cas was as nervous as he was. He hoped so. It was embarrassing to look like some frigid virgin when Dean was far from it. Well, kind of.

He sat down carefully beside Cas, bed creaking a little underneath him. Then Castiel sighed heavily, tugging his own shirt off and Dean gulped audibly as his gaze raked over Cas' exposed chest. Castiel must've noticed the way Dean was staring as his fingers paused when they landed on the button of his pants.

Dean licked his lips, breath quickening a little. His eyes flicked up to Castiel's face to see him smirking a little, a slight blush colouring his cheeks. Then his hand was suddenly over Dean's, sliding up to grasp his wrist gently and pull on it. He guided Dean's hand over to his groin where he placed it firmly and kept his hand pressed down on top of it, moaning out breathily as his fingers curled between the spaces of Dean's.

Dean could feel the thickness and warmth of Cas' half-hard cock through his pants. He let out a shaky breath, eyes fixed on Cas' as he felt his own blood rush southwards. "Castiel, I--"

"Shh," Cas hushed him, leaning over so that their lips were brushing as he pushed his hips up into their joined hands. "Let me make you feel better."

Dean was surprised that Cas couldn't hear his heart thundering in his chest. Their lips brushed once more before Dean gave in. He gave in to his desire, his lust for Castiel. A soft noise escaped his mouth the second their lips met in a heated kiss.

Despite his nervousness, Dean managed to keep his breathing under control as he felt Cas' hands slide up his chest to wrap around his neck and pull him closer. Their lips moved slowly against each other, as if they were strangers getting to know what the other liked. Except, they kind of did know what each other liked. Dean knew that Castiel liked it when he rested his hands on his hips, so he did, earning him a soft pleased noise from Cas' lips.

They stayed like that for a long time, pressed close against each other, breathing in each other's air. Castiel would nip at Dean's lower lip now and again, Dean would moan breathily and pull him closer. It was as if they couldn't get enough of each other. When Castiel finally parted his lips and teased the tip of his tongue against the seam of Dean's lips, he instantly opened up for him, inviting him in with pleading sound that he really did not mean to make.

After that, it was as if they were both craving for this. Their tongues tangled up together as their hands grabbed for purchase. Cas pushed Dean down so that he was lying on his back, but he never broke their lip-lock. They'd both been waiting for this for so goddamn long that the moment their crotches brushed together through the restricting fabric of their pants, they both let out long low moans at the friction provided. Dean gazed up into those blue eyes that were so filled with lust and pure need that the blue was almost completely replaced with lustblown pupil.

Their kisses became more frantic and desperate. Castiel tugged at Dean's shirt, breaking their kiss for a split second to slip the shirt off and over his head. His lips were quickly back on his as Castiel's fingertips brushed over one of Dean's nipples which instantly hardened under the touch. Dean shivered as waves of goosebumps appeared all over his skin. Soon, Cas' lips were travelling down across Dean's jawline and onto his neck. Dean tilted his head back, giving Cas complete access to his neck as he stared at the ceiling, heart racing in his chest.

This was it. They were actually going to do this. After all the makeout sessions which almost went too far, Dean thought he'd be able to handle this. But he was freaking out right now. What the hell was he doing? He was about to just let Castiel have his way with him. He didn't know what to do. Should he stop him? Should he have a huge big 'I'm gay and I don't wanna be'  freakout right here, right n--?

The moment he felt Castiel's tongue twirling around his nipple, Dean arched his back off the bed and let out a loud moan. His hand instantly went to Castiel's hair as if he was subconsciously telling him not to stop. But that was the point. Dean didn't want Cas to stop. Everything they were doing felt good-- No, fuck that, it all felt amazing so far.

He felt Castiel chuckling against his skin and he rolled his eyes. "Shut up," he retorted, pushing his hips up which caused Castiel himself to let out a low moan. Castiel then worked his way across Dean's chest, suckling and nipping gently at Dean's nipples as Dean writhed like a damn virgin underneath him.

Dean managed to get his upstairs brain into gear long enough for him to tug at Castiel's shirt, trying to get it off. When he finally did, he leaned up to kiss and suck at Cas' collarbone, hands roaming up and down the sides of his torso.

His tongue darted out a few times to just taste Castiel's salty skin. He left marks all over his chest as Cas moaned breathily above him. He could feel those fingers tangling through his hair before they slid down to his shoulders and pushed him back down to a lying position on the bad.

He was breathing heavily in anticipation as he gazed up at Castiel. Fuck, he looked so hot right now with his hair all mussed and that bulge in his pants which made Dean both a little nervous and incredibly aroused at the same time.

Apparently Dean had been staring at it for a little too long, because soon, Castiel's hands were fumbling with the button on his chinos. After tugging them down to his knees, Cas stroked his cock through his boxers and Dean moaned when he saw the outline.

Dry lips. Shaking hands. Sweaty palms. Yeah, he definitely felt like a virgin. But, somehow, he was reminded of something Jo had told him months ago. Something along the lines of, 'Every first time is the first time.' She was right - as usual - because this wasn't Dean's first sexual experience, but it was his first time with Castiel. Therefore, he had a right to be nervous and want everything to go right.

So, he promptly told his brain to shut up when he felt Castiel's mouth on his chest again. He was kissing down towards where Dean's cock was feeling a little too trapped in his jeans. Dean's hips seemed to push up instinctively as he felt Cas get closer and closer to his groin. 

"Please," he whispered, voice barely audible. He was staring at the ceiling as he swallowed thickly, feeling anxious as hell. He could feel Castiel pause for a while and he could feel those blue eyes on him for a while before he finally felt those deft fingers popping the button on his jeans and tugging them right off. 

When his jeans were on the ground, Dean chanced a glance down at Castiel who was just sat there, eyes roaming over Dean's eyes with a look in his eyes that was similar to an animal who hadn't had food in months. That in itself made Dean's cock twitch with interest in his boxers.

"You're so hot," Cas whispered, sliding up to mouth at Dean's jawline which drew a low moan from his lips. "Totally out of my league." Dean breathed out a chuckle, rolling his eyes because he knew that was far from true.

"If you don't do something soon, I'm probably gonna end up having a nasty case of the blue balls," Dean joked, trying to mask his nervousness with snarkiness.

Thankfully, Castiel just chuckled and sat back on his heels before stripping Dean of his boxers. Dean raised his hips slightly to help him, heart hammering in his chest, in his ears. There was no doubt in his mind that he actually wanted this. Fuck, he hadn't wanted anything more in his entire life. But it was the fact that he did want it that scared the shit out of him.

Castiel's soft hands travelled up the insides of his parted thighs and his breath hitched in his throat. He was staring at the ceiling, not sure where to even put his hands, eventually resting them by his sides. He could feel his cock throbbing, begging for attention, but he kept his hips still. 

When he first felt Castiel's tongue licking up the underside of his cock, Dean let out a loud moan. He glanced down and saw those blue eyes staring up at him and he had never been so turned on in his life. God, he looked so vicious and Dean couldn't stop thinking about what they could do together in the future. He knew for certain that he wanted him to pin him down and fuck him right into the mattress sometime. Maybe not tonight though, he was far too tense for that shit right now.

He licked his lips, averting his gaze to the ceiling again. Then he felt those lips wrap around the head of his cock and damn. He'd had many blowjobs before, way too many to count, all from girls. But this ... this was far too good, far too soon. Along with the perfect suction and the velvety tongue licking away the precome beading at the slit, Dean couldn't help but whimper softly as his hips shook with the effort to keep still.

Castiel had obviously done this before. There was no way that someone could take Dean down inch by inch like that perfectly without having some sort of practice. He could feel his damn head hitting the back of Cas' throat and then he swallowed around it and Dean threw his head back, moaning loudly. Dean hadn't noticed that one of his hands was now tangled in that thick hair, gripping tightly as his hips jerked up slightly every now and then. 

For the next few minutes, Dean enjoyed the best blowjob he ever had - and probably ever will have. "F-Fuck, Cas," he groaned, mouth hanging open and eyes closed as he could feel that tight heat coiling deep in his stomach. "Gonna come. Shit.

It only took one last twirl of Cas' tongue around the head of his cock for Dean to tense up and cry out wordlessly as he shot right down Cas' throat. When he finished, his whole body seemed to instantaneously relax and he felt completely boneless. He panted heavily, trying to come down from his amazing high.

He looked down and watched as Castiel cleaned up his softening cock with his tongue gently. He shouldn't have found that quite as hot as he did. Once he was done, he slid up to kiss Dean's lips gently. Dean screwed up his nose at the taste of his own spunk in Cas' mouth and pushed him away gently with a chuckle.

They stayed like that for a while. Just staring into each other's eyes. Castiel's fingers were carding their way through Dean's hair as Dean pecked his lips again and again. His hand slipped down over Cas' stomach and right down into his underwear. He could hear Cas' breath hitch right beside his ear. He definitely wasn't not going to return the favour.

"D-Dean," he gasped. "You don't have to."

Dean rolled his eyes with a smirk. "I'm not some chick, dude," he laughs before wrapping his shaking hand around Cas' thick length. His thumb rubbed at the wet tip for a while as Dean wrapped his other arm around Cas' waist to hold him close, he wanted to hear all those delicious noises coming from his mouth right next to his ear.

When he began to stroke Cas with slow strokes at first, he could hear those breathy little noises escaping from deep inside Cas' throat. The feeling of Castiel clutching to his shoulders was in itself way too hot. He kissed his shoulder gently before picking up the pace of his fist, stroking him with firmer, faster strokes.

He would swipe his thumb against the tip on the upstrokes, enjoying the noises that Castiel would make when he did that. He noticed the volume of Castiel's moans grow louder, so he stroked him faster. "C'mon," he whispered hotly into his ear.

He only had to stroke a few more times before Castiel was shaking as he came all over Dean's fist with a moan of his name.

They both panted heavily in the aftermath. Dean stared at the ceiling, but didn't let Castiel out of his arms. They lay there, tangled up with each other for a long time, not saying anything before Dean's eyes slowly began to close. He could feel Cas' lips on the skin of his shoulder and could hear him mumbling something incoherently just before he fell into a deep, peaceful sleep.

Chapter Text

Dean spent the first week of the new year juggling his time between checking up on Sam who had just been released from hospital, and meeting up with Castiel secretly. Jess was a huge help with Sam. She'd come over, make him soup and finish up homework with him. Dean was so grateful for her help and he could see just how happy she made his little brother. He really hoped things worked out for them.

He would meet up with Castiel as much as he could. They even went on a few dates. They always had to meet up outside of town though. Dean really didn't want anyone from school to spot them and he'd do anything to hide this ... thing he had with Cas.

They'd go to the cinema to watch a movie and hangout afterwards at the town's arcade before heading back to the Impala to maybe steam up the windows from the backseat for a few hours.

It wasn’t just all sex though. Sometimes they’d curl up in each other’s arms and talk. Dean found himself opening up for the first time about his mother’s death. He hadn’t spoken to anyone else about his feelings in this much depth. Not even to Sammy.


Cas would talk about his mom too. About how much he missed her and wished he had just one more day with her. Dean asked about his dad and Castiel told him that he never knew his dad. That he’d ran off after he found out that Rachel was pregnant. He guessed that Castiel had a much worse life than he did. At least he had a dad. Even if he was an alcoholic half of the time.

***

The day before the next semester began at school, Castiel invited Dean over for dinner. Dean thought that he just meant 'dinner' as in, 'pizza and a quick blowjob'. Turned out, Castiel meant way more than that.

Missouri was the one who answered the door when Dean arrived. His eyebrows furrowed, but he let her manhandle him inside and greet him with a huge, motherly hug. She looked like she'd been cooking for hours. That probably was correct to assume though, because when she led Dean into the dining room, he'd never seen so much food except for at Christmas time. She'd made a full roast dinner.

Everyone was sat around the table. Anna and Gabriel were sat beside each other whilst Michael sat at one end of the table. There was an empty chair at the other end and Castiel was sitting opposite Gabriel with an empty chair beside him, obviously reserved for Dean.

Dean swallowed thickly. Fuck. It looked like a 'meet the family' lunch. He did not sign up for this shit. Regardless, he took his seat without a word opposite Anna and shot Cas a look, earning him a sheepish smile.

Michael looked annoyed that Dean was even here and it made him feel majorly uncomfortable.

"Eat up, sweetie," Missouri said, taking her seat as everyone around the table began reaching for food. "There's plenty for everyone."

Dean forced a weak smile and chuckled nervously before reaching over to place some roast chicken on the plate in front of him.

Just as Missouri sat down, there was a loud farting sound coming from her direction. Everyone glanced at her before looking to Gabriel who was holding his breath, trying hard not to laugh. Missouri rolled her eyes and threw the whoopee cushion away from where she'd tugged it out from underneath her.

"Really, Gabriel?" Anna sighed, chewing on her first mouthful of food.

Gabriel threw his arms up and let out an exasperated breath. "Doesn't anyone in this household know how to have a little fun?" he asked, but everyone just continued eating, ignoring him.

Dean was sat there nervously, keeping his eyes on the food on his plate as he ate. The food was delicious, but Dean was just too preoccupied to enjoy it properly.

"So, Dean," Michael began around a mouthful of food before swallowing it and clearing his throat. "You go to high school with James?"

Having the attention of everyone at the table suddenly focused on him alone was slightly unnerving for Dean. He forced a polite smile and nodded. "Yeah. We're in the same English class," he elaborated.

"And he's in my Science class," Anna added, obviously trying to take the pressure off Dean a little. Which he was entirely thankful for, shooting her a grateful smile.

"Do you have a part-time job of any sort?" he asked and Dean watched as Michael exchanged a look with Castiel who glared at him before focusing on his food again. It was a strange look. One that was a half-smug, almost fatherly look.

"Uh, yes," Dean answered, taking a sip of the glass of water in front of him. He found himself suddenly grateful for it since his throat had seemed to dry up under the intense scrutiny of Michael's fixed stare. "I work weekends at the garage-- Singer's Salvage Yard."

Michael raised an eyebrow, but didn't look overly impressed. "Oh, a mechanic? How very ..." Michael looked to the ceiling, as if searching for the right word to use. When he found it, he returned his gaze to Dean with a slight smirk before saying, "low-class."

Missouri sighed loudly and gave Michael a stern look. Dean's eyebrows must've shot up towards his hairline as he clenched his fist where it was hidden below the table. Gabriel was sat with his hand over his mouth, trying hard not to laugh. Yeah, if Michael had said that to anyone else, Dean would've probably laughed too. But he'd said it to him. If the smug bastard wasn't Castiel's brother, Dean would've stood up and punched him right then and there. But since he was, he decided to try and keep his cool.

"Dessert!" Missouri chirped in a cheerful voice, clearly trying to relieve some of the tension in the room as she rose from her chair with a smile. "I hope you like apple pie, Dean."

Dean? Like apple pie? Wow, understatement of the century right there. "I love it," he replied, now with a huge grin across his face.

"Good. Then you can help me serve it," Missouri suggested, gathering everyone's empty plates. Dean glanced at Castiel slightly who stood up to begin helping Missouri. She just batted his hand away and told him to sit down again. "I'm sure a strong boy like Dean can help out. You just sit right there, sweetie."

Dean just about caught sight of Michael rolling his eyes as he gulped down the rest of his wine. After getting to his feet and taking a pile of empty plates into his arms, Dean made his way straight towards the kitchen. When he got there, he set the dishes down beside the sink and internally congratulated himself on not dropping them. That would've been so humiliating. Especially in front of Michael.

Missouri joined him a few moments later and smiled politely at him as the door closed behind her. Dean didn't really know how to act around his (kinda) boyfriend's step-mom. He just decided to stay silent as he watched her slice the apple pie and place a slice on every clean plate.

"I was gonna bake this one, but Castiel insisted on baking it himself," she chuckled, scooping some ice-cream onto each plate carefully. Now Dean realized that this was all planned. Why hadn't Cas just asked him? He tricked him. He tricked him into an awkward family dinner. Son of a bitch.

"I'm sure it'll taste great either way," he said, turning on the charm with a sparkling grin.

Missouri had just finished serving the pie when she wiped her hands on her apron and turned to face Dean with a concerned look on her face. "So, who are you hiding from, hon?" 

Her question had taken him completely by surprise that he had to do a literal double-take. His mouth hung open for a while before he shook his head in confusion. "I-- sorry, what?" he stuttered.

"I can tell you feel the need to hide whatever you have with Castiel." Dean flinched a little at that. Having other people talk about it was strange and so foreign to Dean. Somehow, he didn't feel threatened though. "Whoever you're hiding from, it isn't worth it. Whether it's your parents, your friends, or even yourself. You need to put your happiness first."

Dean was speechless. It had been so long-- actually, no one had ever spoken to Dean like that … except for his mother of course. Like his thoughts and his happiness actually mattered. For so long, he'd been doing everything to make everyone else happy. Maybe ... just maybe, Missouri was right.

"I haven't seen Castiel this happy in ... years and it's all thanks to you," Missouri said and Dean could swear he noticed tears welling in her eyes. "Let him make you happy in return, Dean. I can see just how much you both care about each other. Let it happen. It's okay. It's natural. Love is normal, no matter what form it's in."

That was it though. This didn't feel normal. Liking a dude just wasn't something that Dean thought he'd ever feel. It felt disgusting and wrong and just far from normal. But talking to Missouri like this made him feel like it might just be okay.

Dean helped take the plates of pie into the dining room and he grinned over at Cas who just smiled back at him proudly, shaking his head. He set the plates down on the table before taking his seat beside Cas again, feeling a hand rest on his thigh almost immediately.

"I hope she didn't grill you too much," he whispered with a chuckle.

"Nah, I'm awesome. I think she likes me," Dean retorted with a charming grin. Cas just rolled his eyes and pushed him away playfully before digging into the apple pie.

When Dean tasted the delicious pie himself, he let out a pleased hum around his fork. The look of pride in Cas' face when he did filled Dean's stomach with butterflies as his heart skipped a beat. "I didn't know you could bake, Cas," Dean said after swallowing his first bite, gazing at Castiel with curious eyes.

Castiel shrugged a little, a slight blush creeping onto his cheeks as he chewed on his first bite.

Michael sneered a little at the other end of the table before saying, "Oh, there's probably a lot you don't know about our little Jimmy."

Dean's brow furrowed in confusion and he watched Castiel's face flicker with too many emotions for him to even register. "You know I don't like you calling me that," Castiel muttered, eyes fixed on the table.

"Michael, behave yourself, boy," Missouri warned, giving him a look that, if looks could kill, Michael would be stone dead right now.

The rest of the meal went by without any major incidents. Afterwards, Dean offered to help Anna with the dishes. Maybe it was to get away from Michael and his judgemental comments and glares.

As they washed up, Anna talked on and on about school and Jo and other things that Dean didn't really care about. So, he just zoned in and out until Castiel's name was mentioned. "Whatever's going on between you two, just don't worry, I won't tell anyone," she said with a sincere smile.

Dean swallowed and nodded, deciding to just continue on with the dishes. He didn't really want to have to explain himself to Anna of all people.

***

Being back at school after having almost two weeks off for the holidays definitely took its toll on Dean. He had never consumed as much coffee in his life as he did in the first week back at school. He managed to keep up with classes and homework pretty well. All whilst meeting Cas in secret both inside and out of school hours.

Football practice resumed that Saturday and Dean really worked on pushing himself. Sometimes he'd see Castiel hiding up in the bleachers, watching him closely with a smile on his face. That proved to be a big inspiration for Dean and he found himself doing better and better in each training session.

He also began running every morning before school. It was nice to just get out and clear his head as the sun began to rise and the birds chirped above him. It helped when he was angry about things like his dad slowly slipping back into his old habits again or his little brother being a dick about 'where were you last night?' 'I know you stayed at someone's house last night' and ‘is it a girl? Why won't you tell me, Dean?'

It really pissed him off that his brother was acting as if he was Sherlock fucking Holmes. Dean didn't want Sam to know he was seeing Castiel for two reasons. The first was that he knew that if Sam found out, it would only be a matter of time before his dad found out. That would be absolutely catastrophic. Secondly, he didn't want his little brother to think of him as 'Dean the gay'. He wanted to be someone that Sammy was proud of. Not just the black sheep freak of the family.

 

 

***

Valentine's day. Dean never really liked the whole fuss about Valentine's day. He didn't even know why he was all dressed up with a wrapped present in his hand and standing at Castiel's front door in the freezing cold February night's weather. But he was. And he looked like an idiot.

When Castiel opened the door, Dean's eyes widened before they checked him out slowly. He was wearing one of Dean's band shirts and a pair of tight black boxers. His hair was mussed and he was checking Dean out too. Suddenly, he felt a little over-dressed in his white shirt, suit jacket and jeans.

He let out a soft noise when Castiel pulled him in, closing the door behind him before pinning him up against it and leaning in to kiss him breathless. Dean almost immediately dropped the present to the floor - it wasn't fragile anyway - and wrapped his arms around Cas' waist, pulling him flush against him.

When Cas' tongue probed at the seam of Dean's lips, he instantly opened up for him with a soft moan. Well, this wasn't exactly what he was expecting when Castiel invited him over for a Valentine's dinner but he could definitely work with this.

After their tongues explored each other's mouths and their hands slipped and slid over the curve of eachother's bodies, Castiel pulled away for air, breathing heavily against Dean's lips. "Happy Valentine's day," he whispered seductively, gazing into Dean's eyes with such intensity that it sent sparks of arousal racing to his groin.

"You too," Dean breathed, licking his lips.

Castiel chuckled before stepping away and taking Dean's hand, leading him to the kitchen. The only lighting in there was candlelight which cast a soft glow on Castiel's face, making him look almost angelic. He handed Dean a beer before taking a sip from a large glass of red wine.

Dean happily gulped down his first beer as they headed to the living room to curl up on the couch together and watch some romantic movie that Dean wasn't really paying any attention to since they were both too busy making-out.

Soon, Dean lost count of the amount of beer he'd consumed. He was pretty sure Castiel was on the same boat because they were stumbling up the stairs together in the dark, giggling like children as they tripped and held on to each other's torsos.

When they got to Castiel's room, they tumbled down onto his bed in a tangle of limbs as they moaned and panted, unable to keep their hands (or lips) off each other. It was dark, and all Dean could feel was Castiel. All he could hear and smell and taste was all just Cas. His Cas.

Clothes were discarded and Castiel had somehow managed to roll them over so that he was on top, kissing down Dean's neck. Their cocks slid against each other perfectly thanks to their precome. Dean's hips kept on thrusting upwards, making Cas growl as he pinned down Dean's wrists above his head.

It was that moment that Dean realized. He was a bottom. He was a total and utter sub. The worst thing about it was, Dean actually liked the idea.

"D-Dean," Cas gasped out, hips grinding down hard. "Fuck. Want you."

"Mmh, want you too," Dean replied immediately, tilting his head back to give Cas complete access to his neck. "Please. Fuck me."

He couldn't believe those words actually came from his mouth. More importantly, he couldn't believe how much he actually wanted it. God.

Castiel stopped all his movements, breath hitching slightly right beside Dean's ear. "You sure?" he asked through the darkness and Dean could feel Castiel's rock-hard cock twitching at the thought where it was trapped between their bodies.

Dean nodded, humming in affirmation before pushing his hips up in an attempt to show Castiel just how damn desperate he was for this. "Y-Yes. Want you inside me. Please?" Cas didn't reply verbally. He just reached over to his nightstand and pulled a small bottle of lube out from the first drawer.

Several moments later, Dean was breathing harshly as two of Cas' fingers were working him open slowly as Castiel's lips kissed gently at his shoulder. The stretch burned a little and through the drunken haze of want and lust, Dean wondered briefly how the hell he was going to take Castiel's cock which was way thicker than his fingers.

He felt a third one push in and groaned quietly. This didn't feel as good as he'd thought it would. In fact, it felt pretty painful and uncomfortable at the moment. Dean closed his eyes and gritted his teeth, hoping that it would get better once Cas was actually inside him.

"Just ... fuck me already," Dean choked out. He then watched as Castiel pulled away and slipped a condom onto his cock before slicking it up with some lube.

He looked so hot like this. Even though Dean's vision was swimming slightly, he could still tell how gorgeous Castiel looked. He still had his band shirt on too which made the whole thing even more arousing.

When Castiel pushed into him slowly, he choked back a pained groan, eyes screwed shut again. Fuck. Yeah, he was right. This hurt like a bitch. "Cas, fuck--" he groaned, clawing at his shoulders.

The burn was still there long after Dean managed to relax himself around Cas' length. Though he was glad that Cas wasn't pushy. He threaded his fingers through his hair and whispered soothingly into his ear which all helped Dean stay relaxed and calm.

Once he began to move, Dean tried to ignore the slight pain and focus on the pleasure. And there was definitely pleasure. With every thrust, Dean moaned out loudly. His whole body was thrumming from a mixture of alcohol and arousal. Dean couldn't hold back the noises escaping from his throat.

"Wanted you ... f-for so long," Cas groaned right into Dean's ear, fucking into him a little harder causing Dean's nails to dig into his shoulder blades.

Dean just whimpered in response, unable to string together a coherent sentence anymore. He was just too far gone right now. His cock was dragging deliciously against Cas' stomach as they moved together, Dean clinging onto Cas as if his life depended on it.

When he felt Castiel hit his prostate, his back arched perfectly and he cried out loudly. It only took a few more sharp hits for Dean to tense up and cry out Cas' name loudly as he spilled between their bodies, shuddering underneath him as his vision went white and pleasure coursed through his entire body.

He could feel Cas pistoning in and out of him at an erratic place for a few more minutes. Dean was still coming down from his high when he felt tremble as he came. He had just about recovered from his orgasm when he heard those three words being gasped out into his ear, "I love you."

Nausea churned in his stomach as Castiel rolled off him, panting heavily. But Dean felt like the whole world had just stopped. This was the moment he had never wanted to ever happen. Castiel had said the three words that Dean feared the most in this world and he couldn't take them back. Shit.

The moment he came back to reality, Dean clambered off the bed in a hurry, stumbling to find his clothes. He began pulling them on as quickly as possible, not even noting the fact that Castiel was now sitting up and watching him with a half-hurt, half-drunk expression on his face.

"Dean? W-Where are you going?" he asked, voice shaking a little and Dean could tell that he was close to tears.

"Home. Just ... I think we should stay away from each other from now on," Dean slurred, not even sure if he was making sense anymore. That didn't matter though.

When he finally made it outside, he ran. He ran as fast as he could, lungs screaming for air as tears welled in his eyes. He ran until the muscles in his legs were cramping with pain. Just a few more miles. Just a few more miles. He needed to get as far away from Cas and 'I love you' as he could. The words kept spinning around in his head and echoing like a broken gramophone record.

His stomach is what finally stopped him. He found himself stumbling to a halt and doubling over on an empty sidewalk to throw up pretty much everything he'd eaten in the past 24 hours.

Once his stomach stopped emptying itself, he slouched over on a bench and breathed heavily, staring up at a nearby streetlight. Fuck. Now everything really was messed up and he didn't know what the hell to do.

Chapter Text

As Dean had expected, Castiel was nowhere to be seen for the next week at school. Dean himself felt like utter shit but he managed to force himself out of bed on Monday morning even though he slept through his alarm. He got to school half an hour late as a dishevelled mess.

Jo appeared the moment Dean tugged open his locker and he sighed heavily. He really didn’t need to cope with her detective skills today. After grabbing his textbooks for his first few classes, he slammed the locker door shut and tried to lock it, but the damn thing was stuck. He cursed under his breath and tried with all his strength to just lock the door, but he couldn't. Eventually, he gave up with a loud groan and kicked the locker below his hard, leaving a dent in it.

"Jesus Christ, Dean," Jo gasped, pushing him out of the way so that she could lock his locker herself. She managed to do it with one twist of her wrist which enraged Dean even more. He picked up his backpack, slung it over his shoulder and began making his way down the hallway without saying a word to Jo.

It didn't take long for Dean to hear Jo’s footsteps jogging to catch up with him though. "Hey, aren't you gonna thank me?" she chuckled softly with an air of concern in her voice. No, no, no, Dean didn't want concern or sympathy. He just wanted to be left alone. Was that too much to ask for? "Dean, wait the fuck up."

Jo grabbed onto Dean's shoulder to stop him before turning him around. Dean just glared at her with tired eyes. He hadn't been able to sleep all weekend. He also hadn't been able to even look at his laptop because of the reminder it gave him of Castiel who he'd been trying so hard not to think about. A task in which he'd failed … epically.

"What?" Dean growled, and maybe it was a little harsh, but he was so fucking tired.

"Okay. What is up with you?" Jo demanded, pulling him over to the side of the hallway as she searched his eyes. "And don't you dare tell me it's nothing, because I haven't seen nor spoken to you since last Wednesday. So, what's wrong?"

Dean sighed, not looking Jo in the eye as he shook his head. "Nothing's wrong, Jo," he groaned.

"Hmm ... wait a minute, it was Valentine's Day on Friday," Jo noted and Dean could just about hear the wheels turning in her head as the penny slowly dropped. "Which means that this ... mood of yours has something to do with your BGC."

Dean's eyebrows furrowed in confusion and he finally looked at Jo. "BGC?" he asked.

"Big gay crush," she replied, causing Dean to scowl and begin to walk away again. "Don't walk away from me, goddamnit." Before he knew it, Jo was pulling him back again by the strap of his backpack.

"I don't wanna talk about it, Jo!" he shouted, loud voice booming through the hallway and almost all the students who were loitering around turned to find out what all the commotion was about. Though he just ignored their stares and tried to get Jo to leave him alone.

She was still tugging on his backpack strap, so Dean turned in an attempt to push her away. Except, Dean underestimated what was supposed to be a 'gentle nudge' and ended up shoving Jo a little too roughly. She stumbled a bit, but before she could regain her balance, she tripped over her shoelace and fell back against the side of a locker with a pained yelp.

Dean's eyes widened and he instantly fell to his knees where Jo was now hunched on the floor, rubbing her back with a pained expression on her face. "Jo, shit, I'm--"

"Get away from me," Jo whispered, tears filling her eyes as she clutched at her wrist which already had a bandage around it which Dean hadn't noticed before.

"No. God, what happened to your wrist?" he asked frantically, reaching for Jo's wrist which she swiftly pulled away.

"I swear to God, Dean. If you don't fuck off right now, I'm gonna fuck up your face," she threatened in a shaky voice, attempting to get to her feet.

Dean tried to help her up, but she just kept pushing him away. Thankfully, Anna and Pamela soon ran to her side. They helped her up and Pamela escorted Jo off to the nurse's office. Dean didn't even get a chance to say he was sorry. He felt the guilt churning in his stomach as he watched Jo stagger off with Pamela with a frown on his face.

"You dick," Anna growled in low voice as she stood with her arms folded sternly across her chest, glaring at Dean. "All that repressed sexuality must really be getting you down, and to think I almost felt sorry for you."

Dean took a sharp step forwards, hands balling into fists. Though, he forced himself to take a deep, calming breath and gritted his teeth. Anna's gaze flickered to his fists and back up into his eyes before she took a step into Dean's personal space and smirked.

"What? You gonna hit me like you hit Jo?" she asked smugly. "Go ahead then."

"I didn't hit her," Dean said, top lip quivering as his anger almost got to boiling point.

"First you hurt Cas, then you hurt Jo? Who's next? That little brother of yours, maybe?"

"You shut up," Dean growled, glaring at her angrily. The bitch really did not need to bring Sammy into this shit.

Anna rolled her eyes and took a step back. "If you're working on isolating yourself, Dean, you're doing very well so far," she said before giving him one last look and walking away to catch up with Jo and Pamela.

As he watched Anna strut away, he took a deep breath and leaned against a nearby locker. What if she was right? What if Dean was 'isolating' himself? It did seem like everyone was against him these days. His dad wouldn't listen to him when he asked him to stop drinking, Jo hated him now and he wasn't even going to think about how fucked-up things with Castiel were.

***

Things only got worse from then on.

Jo wouldn't answer any of his calls or even look at him at school. His lunch table was missing 3 people now. It seemed so much duller without Jo, Anna and Pamela and it was all Dean's fault that they chose to sit at the other side of the cafeteria now. Although, Adam didn't seem to mind - or even care - about Dean's incident with Jo, he still chose to join Dean and Ash at the lunch table along with some other members of the football team.

Dean and Jo had been friends for almost thirteen years and it felt so odd for Dean to not have someone to talk to about anything and everything. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that it was his fault entirely. He was the one who pushed her away when all she wanted to do was help. All she ever wanted to do was help.

His dad's drinking problem continued to deteriorate and Dean would resort to curling up in his bed sheets, even pulling them up over his head, to try and escape from everything for just a couple of hours. Though he could still hear the shouting of his dad fighting constantly with Sam. He'd still hear the slamming doors, the plates smashing on the kitchen floor. He could still hear his mother screaming and Cas' voice wavering on Valentine's night. He could still see Jo falling backwards and the tears in her eyes. All my fault. All my fucking fault.

The only way he could forget about everything was by running. Running both metaphorically and physically. He'd push himself so hard that he was literally close to passing out by the time he got home. This also worked by boosting his performance at football practice on Saturday.

Regardless of how well he was doing at football, Dean still felt like shit about everything. He couldn't believe how badly he'd fucked up everything now. All to hide who he really was.

***

Castiel returned to school two weeks later and he returned with a bang. Or, rather, a slam of a locker door. Dean jumped, eyes widening to the size of saucers when he saw Castiel just standing there with such rage in his eyes and his hair sticking out in all directions. It would've turned Dean on if he wasn't so guilt-ridden and tired.

"C--"

"Don't," Cas snapped, glaring at him viciously. "Don't say a fucking thing, Dean."

Dean gulped, accepting that order and just straightening himself up, standing his ground because when he glanced behind Cas he could see Azazel, Adam and Alastair (or A3 as they were affectionately known) hanging around talking like regular jocks, not even noticing that Dean was being cornered by Castiel.

"I actually thought you were different," he said softly and raised a shaking hand to run it through his messy hair as he held eye contact with Dean. "Was it your plan all along to just lure me in and then dump me like dog shit?"

Gritting his teeth, Dean didn't even reply. He didn't want to. He didn't ever want to have to face Castiel again if at all possible. Because every time he looked into those blue eyes, all he could think about was how much he loved him but was too scared to tell him and it frightened the shit out of him.

"And then I find out - even before everything - you were stalking me?!" he asked, voice rising higher and Dean glared at him in a silent warning to be quiet. He didn't need the football team to hear that he'd been having some secret, sordid affair with the ‘gay freak’.

"What?" Dean asked, eyebrows furrowed. He put on an amused expression to hide the fact that all he wanted to do was get on his hands and knees and breakdown, explain to Cas why he couldn't say those three words back and why he ran away like a scared little boy.

"Anna told me how you asked Charlie to get 'information' about me long before you picked up the courage to even speak to me," he said, complete with air-quotes.

Dean's heart sank. Cas was never meant to find out about that. It made Dean feel humiliated and sick and all kinds of wrong. "That's--"

"No, I don't want an explanation," Cas interrupted, raising a hand and looking away from Dean with a pained expression that was almost over-dramatic. "You're just a coward, Dean Winchester. A coward who is too afraid to admit how he really feels!"

Finally, Adam seemed to notice the confrontation between Dean and Cas. A grin spread across his face as he diverted Alastair and Azazel's attention to where Dean was stood. Dean couldn't let his bravado facade down now. He had to stick up for himself when all he wanted to do was run away.

"Yeah?" Dean asked, a shaky smirk appearing on his face. He leaned his face in right close to Cas' and gazed into his eyes before saying the one thing he knew he'd regret for a very long time, "Well, you're nothing but a dirty faggot."

The laughter that echoed through the hallway from the small crowd gathered behind Castiel was deafening. They were all watching the argument with their undivided attention as if it was the most exciting thing they'd ever witnessed. Castiel's eyes widened and Dean's heart wrenched painfully in his chest as he watched tears flood those blue eyes.

"Maybe I am," Cas replied with a shrug, voice shaking almost violently as he glared at Dean with such anger, such pain. "But it takes one to know one."

What happened next shocked, not only the crowd of students blocking up the hallway, not only Castiel, but Dean himself. He found himself balling his hand into a tight fist and smashing it against Cas' nose. As with every shocking thing that happened to Dean, time seemed to slow down dramatically as Castiel groaned and fell back with everyone laughing and hollering around him.

'FightFightFight,' they all yelled, but even before Castiel got the chance to stand back up and defend himself, there was a loud squeal of a whistle and everyone began hurrying to get out of the way before Principal Roman appeared.

"My office," he demanded, pointing in the general direction of his dreaded office. Dean felt frozen in place as he stared at Castiel who was now clutching his nose, not looking at him at all. He felt sick, like he was going to throw up all over again because of Cas. "Now!"

Dean finally managed to shake himself out of his daze and begin heading straight towards Roman's office like a robot on autopilot. Nothing felt real at all anymore.

***

"So, who's going to explain to me what happened out there?" Mr. Roman asked. He was sat at his desk, facing Dean and Cas who were also seated but a few feet apart.

Castiel's nose was now bleeding and he was holding an already bloodied tissue against it in a vain attempt to stop the bleeding.

None of them spoke for a long while and Mr. Roman sighed, just watching them expectantly. Finally, Castiel decided to speak and he sounded horribly nasally thanks to Dean's punch. "It was all my fault, sir," he insisted.

Dean immediately turned his head to look at him with wide eyes but Castiel was just staring right at Principal Roman.

"Is this true, Mr. Winchester?" he asked, attention now solely on Dean who shook his head.

"N-Not exactly. I mean--"

Dean was interrupted by a knock at the door before the receptionist, Becky, walked in and handed an ice-pack to Cas. "If you need anything else, just ask," she said before apologizing for interrupting and closing the door quietly as she left.

When Dean looked back at Mr. Roman, he saw that he was looking down at a notebook of records on the desk in front of him. "I see both of you have never been involved in any altercations of this kind, is that correct?"

Both Dean and Cas hummed in affirmation as they waited in anticipation for word on their inevitable punishment.

Mr. Roman then looked back up at them and nodded. "Okay then. I see no need to punish either of you. Though I will be writing this down in both of your records and informing your parents about it," he said and Dean let out a relieved sigh. "But, if I ever have to bring either of you into my office again for reasons such as this, I'll be punishing you more severely. Is that understood?"

Dean nodded and watched from the corner of his eye as Castiel did the same.

"Now, get back to class," Mr. Roman ordered and Dean rose to his feet, slinging his backpack over his shoulder as he left the room right before Castiel.

When they got out of the office, Dean decided that it was now or never. He needed to use that 'S' word and he needed to use it right the fuck now. He took a deep breath before turning to face Castiel who was now cradling an ice-pack against his nose and looking incredibly exhausted.

"Castiel, I--"

He was cut-off once again by Castiel shaking his head and saying, "I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear anything you have to say ever again." He paused, visibly swallowing a lump in his throat.

“No, Cas, don't--"

"We're done," Castiel said simply, obviously trying to stay calm and composed. And, with that, he turned to walk away.

There was nothing Dean could say to fix this right now. He'd messed everything up all on his own. Everything with Jo, everything with Cas, everything with everyone he loved and cared about. It was all so fucked up. Even worse, it was all his own fault. As usual.

Chapter Text

At first, life without Cas was easy. Dean would go through his days normally. He'd go through the day with a smile on his face, cracking jokes and acting like he didn't have a care in the world. He even started running to school. Yeah, he ran to school nowadays. At first, it had annoyed Sam since he'd either have to get the bus to school or walk, but Dean really couldn't have cared less at the time. He just shoved his earphones into his ears and let the music blast loudly as he focused on the road ahead. Pity he couldn't do that metaphorically.

I'm fine, he'd say to himself in the mirror every morning and by the end of the day his jaw would hurt like a bitch from all the forceful smiling he was doing. I'm fine, he'd say when he would suddenly doze off in classes because he hadn't gotten enough sleep the night before thanks to thoughts of Castiel popping into his head over and over again. I'm fine, he'd say when he failed yet another test or missed an easy pass in football practice. I'm fine, he'd say as he stood in the shower with tears streaming down his face when he thought of how fucked up his life was right now.

The truth was, inside, Dean was a wreck. He was an exhausted, moody, heartbroken wreck and he didn't know what to do anymore. He planned to ignore the hollow pain in his chest, thinking it might just disappear sometime soon.

Dean's plan of ignoring his problems consisted of partying on Saturday nights, getting so wasted he could hardly stand up, then staggering home with any random girl to fuck away his feelings. He really believed it would help. Honestly, he thought it would cure - or at least make him feel better about - his recent fuck-ups. But it didn't.

It just made him feel way more fucking miserable on Sunday mornings when the alcohol had worn off and he was left with a pounding headache and thoughts of Cas and Jo circling around in his mind until it became a blizzard of good and bad memories which eventually had him emptying the contents of his stomach into the nearest toilet.

The funny thing was, Dean actually thought that he was hiding his problems perfectly. That no one suspected there was anything remotely wrong with him. That was until coach Walker took him aside a few weeks later at football practice with a firm hand on his shoulder.

"What's bothering you?" he asked, squinting as the Spring's sunlight hit his eyes.

Dean felt nausea roll around in his stomach and he swallowed before answering, "Nothing, Coach."

Walker clearly wasn't buying Dean's lies, but he didn't pry any further which Dean was thankful for. Instead, he leaned close, staring sincerely into Dean's eyes. "We got a big match coming up in a few months, Winchester," he said, voice lowered to a tone which probably only Dean could hear. "I need you on top form, you hear me? I see those bags under your eyes and the way you get outta breath so easily. You gotta forget about whatever personal crap you got playin' on your mind and focus on the game. I gotta see improvement. You're one of the best damn players I've ever had the privilege of coaching. So, don't let me down, Dean."

To hear those words and have someone believe in him so much should've made Dean feel better, more confident in his abilities. Only, it made him feel guilty. Guilty that some people actually thought he was a better person than he actually was. All Dean was, in his own mind, was a fuck-up. He messed up every good thing he had ever had in his life and he just didn't understand why anyone would see him as anything other than the trash that he was.

***

The only place Dean seemed to find solace was Singer's Salvage Yard. He found himself able to focus on fixing the cars and just doing his job, taking pride in the fact that he'd actually earned the money that Bobby was paying him.

Not only that, but Bobby was patient with him. He knew when to leave Dean stewing in his own troubles and when to take notice and pry until Dean broke and told him everything.

"I ain't seen that friend o' yours about much these days," Bobby noted, arms folded across his chest as he watched Dean work.

The mention of 'that friend' sent nausea, guilt and shame coursing through Dean's entire body until his hands got so clammy that he had to straighten himself up and wipe his greasy hands on the dirty cloth, not meeting Bobby's gaze just yet. He knew who he meant. Castiel. He used to come and hang out for an hour on Saturdays to keep Dean company. He'd even bring him food sometimes. Dean would never admit how much he missed that.

"He's just ... busy, I guess," Dean muttered with a shrug.

He watched Bobby nod slowly out of the corner of his eye and he thought that the conversation was over. Apparently he was wrong. "Stickin' yer tongue down his throat is an odd way to greet a 'friend'," he mumbled and Dean's head shot up, fear in his eyes. Shit. Bobby knew. Fuck, what if he'd told his dad? Oh god, Dean could feel his heartbeat quicken with anxiety. "Don't worry, boy. I ain't told yer daddy nothin'."

Relief washed over Dean and he swallowed back his feelings, nodding as he just stared at Bobby who looked more concerned than he ever had done before.

"It ain't nothin' to be ashamed of, you know," he said, placing a hand on Dean's shoulder. "I don't think any less of you just 'cause you like boys."

"I d-don't ..." Dean tried before pausing and sighing, looking away with a slight flush on his cheeks. "It was only him."

There was silence for a while as Bobby nodded, and Dean wasn't scared of him knowing anymore. He was actually relieved that he could talk to someone about it without being judged or hated. Bobby would never know just how much he saved him by letting him know he accepted him.

"But I've fucked everything up now, so it doesn't really matter anymore," Dean sighed with a frown.

Bobby chuckled at that and Dean met his gaze again with a confused expression on his face. "I seen the way he looked at you. Like you were the most amazin' thing he'd ever seen. But I also seen the way you looked at him. You can't tell me you didn't love that boy."

Truer words had never been spoken. Dean didn't realize until Castiel was gone that he actually did love him. He loved him so fucking much it hurt.

"And you can't tell me that he didn't love you either. So, it's up to you whether you fix things or not. But you can't lie to yourself and tell yourself that it didn't matter. Of course it mattered. But only you know if it's worth fixing or not," Bobby finished, squeezing Dean's shoulder reassuringly before pulling away with a smile. "Now, you can start by fixing this damn truck." He chuckled, patting the old Chevy truck's hood before heading back inside leaving Dean with a whole lot to think about. A whole lot he didn't even want to think about.

***

Nevertheless, Dean decided to take coach Walker's advice and concentrate solely on his football. After all, he needed that scholarship and since his grades were constantly slipping, this seemed to be the only way to get it in order to get into college and make his mom proud.

His 'concentration' slowly changed into obsession. The only way not to think about Castiel and Jo and his mom and everyone else seemed to be just keeping his head in the game. He didn't think it was a problem for the first few weeks. Since his aim and passes seemed to be improving along with his overall stamina, Dean thought he was doing a damn good job.

All that training would've probably been healthy if it weren't for the fact that Dean was out partying every Friday and Saturday night. Any house parties or clubs that he could get into were a sure thing for Dean over the next few weeks. He became the life and soul of every party he went to. Mainly because he was wasted 95% of the time and ended up making a fool out of himself which earned him the 'legend' title along with many girls fighting over who got to go home with him that night.

Of course, all the partying did have immediate consequences. Such as his dad getting pissed at him bringing girls home at five in the morning or making too much noise when he came in or even just the simple fact that he was drunk without a clue where he actually was.

"Look what you're doing to yourself, Dean!" his dad shouted when Dean had came in at 2am with a bruised and bloodied face after a drunken brawl with some guy at a bar for no apparent reason.

Dean was holding a tissue to his bleeding nose as he tried to focus his swimming gaze on his dad. "'M fine," he muttered, holding on to the wall in an attempt to steady himself.

"Spare me the lies, boy. This has been going on for far too long now. You think you can just waltz in here at all hours of the night drunk outta your mind to wake up your brother and I?"

The glare he aimed at his father probably looked incredibly stupid considering how drunk he was, but he didn't seem to care. And neither did his mouth apparently. "Don't talk 'bout drunk to me," he slurred, feeling like he was going to either pass out or puke at any moment. "Yer the one whoz th'alcoholic."

Dean didn't realize it right there thanks to his drunken stupor, but he might just have fucked things up with a third person in less than a freaking month. He watched as his dad's eyebrows rose to near his hairline before he felt a fist connecting with his jaw. It took him a while in his drunken state to realize that his dad had punched him and that he was now on the ground with pain shooting through his face.

"Go to bed, son," his dad's tired voice ordered, and Dean knew not to disobey direct orders anymore. Though he still couldn't believe that his dad had actually punched him like that. Now he knew how Castiel felt that day almost two months ago.

When Dean got upstairs, he collapsed onto his bed and stared at the ceiling in a trance-like state for what seemed like hours. He thought about what Bobby said almost two weeks ago, he thought about Jo and her mysterious broken wrist, he thought about Castiel and how he had requested to move seats in English and was now hanging about with some other guy from the GSA. His name was Balthazar, and Dean told himself time and time again that he definitely was not jealous that this guy could make Cas smile the way Dean never could. But it was obviously a big fat lie.

***

Deep down, Dean knew that he was falling into a deep dark pit of self-destruction. Though he didn't seem to think about that when he was downing shot after shot at some random house party that Friday night. He noticed people looking at him differently, as if they knew he was fragile and heartbroken but they didn't want to get involved so therefore they felt pity for him. He didn't want that. Not at all.

He left the party that night with some random freshman called Ellie. Just as he's dragging her out of the house, one arm wrapped around her waist as he kissed at her neck, there was a loud crashing sound nearby. Ellie gasped and her eyes widened as Dean looked around.

"The hell was that?" he asked, leading Ellie over to where everyone was gathering around a car that had crashed into a lamppost. A car that looked very fucking familiar. The Impala. His dad's Impala. At first, he thought that Sam had taken it for some sort of joyride. His heart sped up as he let go of Ellie and pushed past the crowd of people until he was able to get to the car.

Inside, was his dad passed out against the airbag which had inflated just seconds before. "Dad?!" he shouted, climbing into the passenger seat as everyone looked on. "Fuck. Dad?! Can you hear me?! Someone call a fucking ambulance!"

***

The whole incident really woke Dean up to a lot of things. As he raced down the corridor in the hospital, he felt as though his whole life was far too out of control. He needed to fix things up. He needed to be a man and sort his life out before he turned out like ... like his dad. Hellbent on trying to take away the pain of a death that wasn't even his fault.

When he finally found his dad's room, he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw him sitting up in his bed with only a few minor cuts and bruises. He was alive and Dean was just so glad that he lunged himself towards his dad, wrapping his arms around him in a tight hug.

"Fuck. You scared me," he whispered, burying his face against his dad's shoulder, shaking a little. "What the hell happened?"

John pushed Dean away gently and held him at arm's length. "I needed to see you," he replied, staring into his eyes sincerely. "I wasn't drunk. Just worried."

Dean's eyebrows furrowed as he searched his dad's eyes for some sort of answer. "Worried about what? I'm fine."

"No, you're not," John breathed, shaking his head with a frown. "You're not 'fine' and it's my fault."

"W-What are you talking about, Dad?" Dean asked, completely and utterly confused by his dad's words.

John paused for a moment and took a deep breath before smiling a little. "I wish I could say that I've been a good father," he began. "But I know, in my heart, that I haven't exactly been the best role-model to you and Sammy. With the drinking and the constant unemployment. I'm just ... I need you to know that I am so sorry, Dean."

Tears filled Dean's eyes as his dad spoke, but he didn't say a word. He needed to hear this. He needed to hear his dad actually speak to him without boundaries or no-go topics. He needed this. "I know, Dad," he choked out, nodding and smiling a little.

"If your mother could see me now, she'd be disappointed. Disappointed that I let you believe for so long that you were the cause of her death," he said and Dean could tell he was fighting back the tears. "You were six years old. A child. Of course it wasn't your fault. I should've blown out the candle myself. It was my own goddamn fault and I hope you know that I don't blame you one bit."

Dean swallowed and nodded, still staring at his dad with tears in his eyes. "Mom wouldn't want you to blame yourself."

John nodded, looking away for a while before meeting Dean's gaze again. "She also wouldn't want you to hide who you really are just because you think it might hurt or offend me," he said and Dean's eyebrows furrowed. It took him a few silent moments to realize just what his dad was meaning and, when he did, his eyes widened dramatically and he felt sick.

"W-What?" was all he could manage to stutter out as he sank down onto the chair by his dad's bedside.

"Missouri came to speak to me earlier," John elaborated. "Told me you'd been seeing her step-son. Of course I was shocked at first, since I was under the impression that you were into girls. But it turns out that you ... broke up with him or something?"

Dean's mouth was hanging open a little and he felt like he couldn't breath. This was all he didn't want to happen and now his dad knew and-- oh god. He buried his face in his hands and took a deep, calming breath. "I'm sorry," he whispered.

"Sorry for what?" John asked.

"For being g-- like this," he answered, a single tear escaping from his eye and streaming down his face that he quickly wiped away with a sniffle.

He could hear his dad sighing before placing a hand on his head in an attempt to comfort him or something. "You don't have to apologize for being yourself, son. I'm proud of you for who you are, not who you pretend to be. I'm not angry or disappointed. Hm, well I guess I'm disappointed in myself that you felt the need to keep it a secret from me. But apart from that, I don't want you to feel ashamed of yourself."

"It's only him, Dad," Dean breathed, taking his hands away from his face as tears continue to fall from his eyes. "It was only him and I messed things up so badly. I called him out in front of everyone and now he hates me and I don't know what to do."

John frowned before nodding and hushing Dean. "I wish I could help you with that, but I'm not one to be giving out relationship advice," he chuckled which made Dean laugh a little as he wiped his eyes.

Coming out to his dad wasn't as difficult as he thought it would've been. It was actually a relief to finally tell his dad who he really was and actually be accepted which he definitely wasn't expecting. They talked for hours after that, bonding like they never got the chance to and John even promised to give rehab a try once he was out of hospital.

***

Next to find out his big gay secret was Sam who took it exactly as Dean had been expecting. Sam had hugged him tightly and said something sappy like, 'you're my brother, and I love you for who you are.' Then they'd played video games for hours as their dad rested after being discharged from hospital the day before.

Dean was just heading into his own room after a long night of beating Sammy in every damn video game they owned when he heard the doorbell ringing. He groaned as he turned to jog down the stairs and unlock the door to reveal ... Jo standing there with tears running down her cheeks and an angry bruise on her cheekbone.

"Dean," she whimpered, bottom lip quivering.

He was so relieved to see her and happy that she was actually talking to him now that he immediately wrapped his arms around her tightly, kissing her cheek. "God, Jo, I've missed you so much," he whispered. After pulling away, he pulled her inside and closed the door. "What's wrong?"

Jo sniffled, wiping her nose with the sleeve of her jumper like she used to do when she was five years old and hadn't managed to get the last cookie. Somehow, Dean had a feeling this was a little more serious. So, he led her to the kitchen and began making her favourite hot chocolate drink with marshmallows and whipped cream.

They sat facing each other at the table, drinking their hot chocolates in silence as Dean tried to figure out the right thing to say. He decided to start with telling her something he'd been denying for years. "I came out," he whispered, biting his bottom lip.

Jo stared over at him before smiling sleepily. "Well done you," she said with a chuckle before rolling her eyes. "Pity you didn't come out on time."

Dean frowned at that, sighing heavily before deciding to just address the elephant in the room. "Who hurt you?"

Jo's hand instantly shot up to where her cheek was badly bruised and shook her head. "N-No one. I ... fell over," she said which was obviously a huge lie.

"Jo, talk to me. Please?" Dean pleaded, hand sliding over to rest on top of Jo's.

"He's been hitting me, okay?" Jo growled, glaring at Dean before downing her hot chocolate in one go.

Dean was frozen with shock. Even though he knew who the 'he' was, he still felt the need to ask, "Who?"

Jo sighed irritably and rolled her eyes. "Adam. Adam fucking Milligan."

Seemed like Dean was so caught up in his own worries and troubles that he didn't take the time to realize that Jo was hurting. That she was being physically abused by the dickhead he actually called a friend. Dean was furious.

Chapter Text

"Why didn't you tell me before?" Dean asked, fingers threading through Jo's long blonde hair as they were lying on his bed together.

Jo just shrugged, wiping away a few tears from her eyelashes as she gazed at Dean with the most lost expression Dean had ever seen in her eyes. It was weird seeing her like this when Dean had always considered her one of the strongest people he'd ever known. "I knew you had your own shit going on," she answered, frowning a little.

Yeah, Dean had his own shit going on. He wouldn't deny it anymore, he was having a big gay crisis. It made him feel selfish, like he was a horrible friend. He hadn't even noticed that Jo was having a tough time too. One more thing to feel guilty about he supposed. A sigh left his lips as he shook his head and leaned forwards a little so that their noses pressed together.

"You should've talked to me," he whispered. "I'm your friend. Your best friend."

A small smile appeared on Jo's lips and she nodded a little. "I know," she replied simply.

"And I shouldn't have pushed you away," he continued, causing Jo to look away. "I'm so sorry, Jo."

Dean didn't even feel like he should be forgiven. He shouldn't have taken his trivial problems out on his best friend, the only one who'd been there for him since the very beginning. The only one who had never judged or ridiculed him. Probably the only one who would forgive him for absolutely anything.

The minute her arms wrapped around him tightly, Dean felt like he was finally home. He felt safe and wanted. He felt truly loved. Dean was so fucking glad to have his best friend back.

"You're an idiot," she chuckled, sniffling against Dean's neck as he held her close. He just laughed breathily, arms around her waist. They stayed just like that for ages, just holding each other and not staying a word as darkness soon filled the room.

"What happened?" she asked softly, voice barely there as her head rested on Dean's chest.

"Huh?"

"With your BGC?" Dean rolled his eyes at the way a stupid grin spread its way across her face at that. Oh well, it was good to see her smiling again.

"Well, we were a BGT, now we're a BGN," he replied, trying hard not to think about Castiel and the punch and the sex and the everything. In the end, the memories just continued whirling around in his head like a VHS tape on reverse.

Jo looked up at him with a glare. "Enough with the acronyms, dickhead," she hissed with the same playful grin on her face but her eyes were now full of concern.

Dean sighed before simplifying his reply a little, "Long story short; we were a thing, now were not."

Silence filled the air after that before Jo reached up to wipe Dean's cheek gently. He hadn't even noticed that tears were steadily streaming down his face.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

He shook his head, closing his eyes and trying to compose himself. "You have nothing to be sorry for. It's completely, one hundred percent my fault," he breathed out, biting down hard on his lower lip to stop it from trembling uncontrollably.

Jo tried to comfort him for long hours after that, but nothing she could say would make anything any better right now where Cas was concerned. Soon, the conversation topic turned back to Adam and his abusive behaviour. Dean insisted on beating the shit out of him the next time he saw him, but Jo didn't agree.

"No, Dean, you can't," she pleaded, hands fisted into the front of his shirt. "Please, promise me you won't hurt him."

"I don't know why you're defending the sick psycho," Dean growled back at her.

"Dean, promise me!" she demanded, staring into his eyes pleadingly. He couldn't exactly say no to her. He never could.

So, he ended up just nodding with an irritated sigh. "The next time he so much as lays a hand on you, I'll make sure he's six feet under before he even gets the chance," he promised.

 

***

Having Jo speaking to him again made Dean feel so much better about everything. She even began sitting at their lunch table with Anna and Pamela just like old times. Dean felt like things were finally getting back to normal and it felt good.

Though, everytime Dean saw Adam's smug face at school, he felt like beating the crap out of him. But he'd made a promise to Jo not to hurt him, and he was going to keep it. No matter how difficult it proved to be. He needed to prove to Jo that he was worth forgiving. He wasn't going to let her down.

No matter how much better things got with Jo, or his dad, or his brother, that didn't change how things were still messed up with Castiel. It was like the worse Dean felt about it, the more he'd be tortured by the sight of Castiel with Balthazar. Watching them laugh together at lunch or hold hands as they walked down the hallways together was slowly killing Dean.

On Tuesday, he caught Castiel sitting on Balthazar's lap in the bleachers. He was just running a few laps, getting in top condition for their big game that Saturday when he noticed them. Dean would never, ever admit how he could physically feel his heart tearing apart at the sight of Castiel throwing his head back in a full body laugh, one hand resting on Balthazar's chest. The skinny British dick had his arms wrapped tightly around Cas' waist as if he was afraid that he was going to runaway or something.

It was so fucking hard seeing the guy he loved all tangled up with some other guy. It made him feel sick. Sicker than he'd ever felt before as he forced himself to look away, panting heavily after four laps of hardwork. The sight of them together, looking so happy and being so open about their ... love? It sent Dean around the track three more painful times. By the time he was done, sweat was causing his clothes to stick to his entire body and they were still up there. He felt fatigued and horrible and just overall exhausted as he took a long sip from his water bottle before glancing back up into the bleachers only to see Cas staring right down at him as Balthazar ravished at his neck like some hungry predator.

Dean held Cas' gaze as he watched his long fingers threading through Balthazar's hair like they once did to his. He shivered a little, remembering the feeling of Cas being so close to him. He found himself missing it way more than he had the right to. It was his fault that everything was fucked up, he reminded himself.

It was Friday afternoon, just as Dean was leaving school, when he noticed Castiel pinned up against the wall outside the school with Balthazar playing a passionate (and frankly disgusting) game of tonsil tennis. He made a face, forcing himself to look away as he scuffed the gravel beneath his feet, waiting for Jo so that he could finally get away from reminders of what could have been.

"Jealousy's a bad colour on you, Dean-o," Jo said playfully as she appeared behind him, hand patting his back comfortingly.

Dean just sighed heavily, rolling his eyes as he glanced one last time over at where Castiel was making out with Balthazar in broad daylight. He tried not to picture what it would've been like if he had just been more open with Cas. Would he be in Balthazar's position right now?

"Whatever. Let's just go," he muttered, slinging his backpack over his shoulder before heading off out the school gate and down the sidewalk in the direction of his house with Jo on his heels.

 

***


All of the extra training and running Dean had been doing over the past few weeks turned out to really pay off. He was one of the strongest players in the first half of their big game on Saturday. They were rivaling one of the other most talented high schools in the area. So, the whole team needed to be in top shape.

At the end of the first half, the team crowded into the locker room to rehydrate and get ready for the second half of the game. They were ahead of the other team, but only by a few points, they could easily overtake them. Dean tried to keep his head in the game, but all he could think about was punching Adam right in his smug face.

Though, he knew he couldn't. Jo had asked him not to, and he was going to keep that promise. That was what he thought, until he heard Adam gloating to a bunch of the other players. "I make sure my girl knows who's boss," he chuckled, stretching his calf muscles as Azazel listened intently to his every word like a stupid lap dog. "I definitely wear the pants in the relationship. She knows if she steps out of line, she gets punished." He then laughed and winks at Azazel who laughed with him, sounding so incredibly fake.

Adam's words were enough to send anger and rage flooding through his veins, making him see red. He took a deep breath, trying to keep his cool as he leaned against his locker, deciding to wait until after the game to confront the bastard. They couldn't afford to lose this match because of Dean's anger at one of the best players on their team.

The second half of the match seemed to drag on and on. Dean felt more and more exhausted, but he pushed on and managed to help his team win by just a few solid points. They all celebrated on the field, shirts flying everywhere and cheers ringing from the bleachers.

Even though the post-match hysteria soon died down, Dean's anger towards Adam didn't. He balled his hands into fists several times as he glared over at Adam who was surrounded by cheerleaders and other members of their team. All he could hear were those sick words, 'she gets punished' echoing around in his head until it was all he could hear. Knowing that Jo was hurting and Adam was so carefree and happy with not an ounce of guilt showing, that was what finally pushed Dean to storm over to where Adam was cracking some charming joke that he'd probably used a thousand times before.

"Adam," Dean growled, teeth already gritted as he watched Adam turn around to face him with a huge grin on his face.

"I know, I was awesome out there," he chuckled, causing the cheerleaders to giggle and swoon around him. Stupid airheads.

"You've been hurting Jo," he began, angry gaze locked intensely with Adam's. A crowd was already starting to gather around them, but Dean's attention was focused solely on the one jerk he wanted to beat the shit out of the most.

Adam faked a confused expression, tilting his head to the side a little with an amused smile on his lips. "I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about."

"You liar!" Dean shouted, crowding up into Adam's personal space.

"What did you just call me?" Adam challenged, voice calm as he straightened himself up. Everyone was watching them both closely with breathless anticipation.

Dean glared, lips pursed together. "You heard me, womanbeater."

"You're one to be name-calling, Winchester," Adam laughed, not showing a bit of remorse or even denying Dean's accusations.

Dean ignored that jab, trying hard not to get nervous about what it implied. Did he know? Wait … if he knew, then who else knew? Fuck. He took a breath before pushing his chest out a little and glaring at Adam. “This isn’t about me,” he retorted, voice a low snarl now. “It’s about how you feel the need to abuse your girlfriend you sick, twisted son of a bitch.”

Adam just laughed loudly at that, breath warm and intimidating against Dean’s face as he blinked a few times. He stood his ground though; he wasn’t going to let him win this. “She deserved every punch, every slap and every single kick,” Adam replied simply with a smirk on his face. Some people watching looked shocked and disgusted. Others looked as if they had expected this.

Any friendship that Adam and Dean had before that, went right out the window with those last words from Adam.  It was the final straw for Dean and, before he knew it, his fist was slamming right into Adam’s jaw sending him stumbling backwards with a pained groan. Once he regained his balance, he spat out some blood before grinning over at Dean menacingly.

“That was for Jo,” Dean growled, ignoring how insanely furious Adam looked right now as he cradled his hand against his chest. He then turned around to walk away, adrenaline still rushing through his veins.

“Faggot,” Adam snarled, loud enough for everyone to hear. It stopped Dean in his tracks and he had to take a literal double-take. Did he actually say that? In front of everyone? Dean felt as though his whole world was falling down around him at that very second.

He turned around slowly, deciding to face his fears like a man. At least then he’d have his dignity. “What did you just call me?” he asked quietly, eyes locked fiercely with Adam’s as he tried to forget about the crowd of people surrounding them. People he’d have to face every single day, people who now knew his deepest, darkest secret. That thought alone made him want to disappear forever.

Adam's grin widened into one very like that of the Cheshire Cat's grin. Everyone was now quiet and Dean glanced around them briefly. It seemed like the whole school was in a circle around them, watching them, waiting for the inevitable fist-fight. "Jo and I have a very ... honest relationship," he purred, licking his lips as if he was getting ready to feed on his prey or something. "In other words; I read her texts since she feels the need to read mine."

 

Dean's eyes instantly widened at that. Shit. He knew exactly what he meant now. Last night, Dean had been texting Jo. They'd talked about a lot of things, but the main topic of conversation was about one guy in particular. Cas.

He felt like falling to his knees in front of Adam and begging him not to tell anyone, begging him to just let all this go and leave Jo alone. But he was frozen in place, still glaring at Adam furiously as fear flickered over his expressions.

"Oh, he knows what I mean now," Adam chuckled, taking a step away before looking around him with that same grin and mischievous twinkle in his eyes, a light bruise beginning to form on his jaw. "You see, everyone, Dean Winchester isn't the charming little ladies' man you all know and love. In fact, he's quite the opposite."

A wave of confusion seemed to spread across their audience's faces all at once. Dean clutched his stomach with a frown on his face as the field seemed to spin around him and he could almost taste the vomit in his mouth. "No, please," he wanted to whisper frantically. "Don't do this." But, he couldn’t get his words out no matter how hard he tried. All he could do was stand there and take it.

“So, gather round. 'Cause this is a world exclusive," Adam continued in an obnoxiously loud voice. "Dean Winchester is nothing but a pathetic, cowardly little cock-sucking faggot."

Dean had never heard so many people gasping at once. He felt like dying or puking or asking the ground to swallow him up, maybe all three at once. Some people were laughing and making jokes, others looked sympathetic or indifferent. Dean didn't want jokes or pity, he didn't want anyone to know and now the whole school knew. It was too much to handle.

There was nothing else he wanted to do more than run away, but he just couldn’t bring himself to be that cowardly. So, instead, he lunged towards Adam with an angry groan. They both fell to the ground and the crowd erupted into cheers and chants, but all Dean could do was punch and kick viciously at whatever part of Adam he could.

"Stop! Adam, please! Please don't hurt him!" Dean heard Jo screaming in the distance as they tumbled around in a mess of punches and misses.

Eventually, Adam managed to get the upper hand. He was on top of Dean, punching him again and again until all Dean could feel was pain shooting through his face and his eye swelling up as Adam laughed and the crowd roared around them.

"C'mon!" he yelled, clawing at Adam’s face and kicking his legs. He must’ve looked ridiculous and way more than weak. "D-Do your worst, you dick!”

That was when Adam stopped and looked down at him with a curious yet amused expression on his face. "Like I said; pathetic," he breathed before climbing off Dean and getting to his feet with a soft groan.

Dean tilted his head up a little to watch Adam hop away, lots of people hurrying after him. He just lay there though. He was sore and tired and all he wanted to do right now was lie here and die. His eyelids fluttered open and he stared up at the cloudy sky, hands resting over his stomach which was thrumming with pain. No, scratch that, his whole body was screaming with pain.

He had no idea how long he lay there before someone nudged his foot with theirs. A croaky groan left his lips as he attempted to sit up and see who was standing beside him. Then a hand was held out and he grabbed onto it to pull himself up with a range of pained noises. When he finally got to his feet, he wiped the grass off his shirt before taking a look at the person who helped him up. He definitely wasn't expecting to see him standing there with a worried expression and a frown on his face.

"Cas?"

Chapter Text

Surprisingly for Dean, Castiel didn't want to punch him or yell at him like Adam. In fact, he actually invited him back to his house to help him get cleaned up. Apparently he was a bloody, bruised mess. He didn't even realize it. His face just felt so numb right now and maybe a little swollen as he could hardly open his left eye. Apart from that, the adrenaline was only thing acting as a painkiller and it was slowly beginning to wear off

When they were leaving through the school gates, Jo was standing there waiting for him. She instantly wrapped her arms around Dean, rubbing his back comfortingly as he buried his face against her neck, accidentally getting some blood on her shirt. "Are you okay? Shit, Dean, you look horrible," she breathed once she had pulled back, holding his face in her hands as if she was examining the damage.

"Wow, thanks, Jo," he muttered sarcastically with a sigh, glancing over to where Castiel was talking quietly to Balthazar. No, he totally didn't feel a surge of jealousy when he saw how close they were standing together and how Cas was grasping to Balthazar's hand and--

"Dean?" Jo prompted, forcing him out of his jealous trance and back into reality.

"Hmm? Oh, yeah, I'm fine," he muttered, nodding at Jo which made his neck cramp a little. He raised his hand to rub irritably at the back of his neck to try and relieve the pain just as he caught sight of Castiel kissing Balthazar goodbye in his peripheral vision. It made him want to throw up. It was just so hard to watch the love of his life love someone else and know that it was his own fault they weren't together.

Castiel then turned to walk towards him, an indifferent expression on his face as he greeted Jo with a nod. "Ready to go?" he asked Dean, hands in his pockets.

Dean cleared his throat and nodded again, groaning softly this time as he apparently nodded too eagerly. Stupid Cas and the stupid things he made Dean do and feel. "Yeah. So, I'll talk to you later, Jo," Dean muttered, giving Jo another brief hug and feeling her grin against his cheek.

"As if," she chuckled before whispering into his ear, "You'll be too busy gettin' it on. Call me tomorrow with all the deets, ok?" She then kissed his cheek gently and patted his back, winking at Castiel before walking off. Dean watched her for a while, hoping she wasn't going back to find Adam. He hoped she had learned her lesson by now that Adam was nothing but an abusive dickbag.

"You coming?" Castiel's deep voice said from somewhere behind him and Dean turned around to see him opening the passenger door of a blue Ford for him. He didn't even know that Castiel could drive, never mind that he owned a car too. He stood still for a while, staring at the car like a dummy before hearing Castiel say, "You're supposed to get in, idiot," as he climbed into the driver's seat.

Dean cleared his throat again, his nervous, still-in-the-closet mind telling him to make sure no one would see him getting into a car with the school's most out-and-proud gay guy. He ignored that little voice, knowing that now everyone knew, there was no need to hide it anymore, and slipped into the car, closing the door behind him.

They didn't talk much during the ride. Dean glanced at Cas once in the whole half an hour it took to get to his house on the outskirts of town. The atmosphere was awkward and a little tense, so Dean decided to just keep his mouth shut and stare out the window like some melancholy teenager which he totally was not.

***

Dean finally chanced a look in Castiel's direction once the car had pulled to a halt outside the house. He could feel that familiar nervousness creep into his mind as he swallowed thickly, watching Castiel tug the car keys out of the ignition and turn to him with an unfamiliar expression on his face.

"I'm not going to sleep with you," he began, causing Dean's eyes to widen a little at the bluntness of his tone. "So, if that's what you think this is, then I can take you home right now."

"What?" was the first thing to come out of Dean's mouth. "N-No, I get it. I thought you were just gonna help me with ... this." He gestured vaguely at his face which now felt swollen and painful thanks to the wear-off of adrenaline.

Castiel stared into his eyes for a few seconds before nodding and stepping out of the car without another word. Despite his slight shock and major anxiety about what Castiel had just said, Dean did the same before following him inside where Gabriel was first to greet them.

The moment he saw Dean's face, the Popsicle that he'd been slurping on fell right out of his mouth and hit the ground with a soft thud. "Wow, you look--"

"Horrible. I know," Dean sighed, getting irritated by everyone telling him how horrific his face looked when he hadn't even had the chance to take a look for himself yet.

"What happened?" Gabriel pried further but Castiel was already tugging at Dean's arm, leading him towards the stairs.

"Doesn't matter. Leave us alone," Castiel answered, grip on Dean's forearm like a damn vice causing Dean to groan softly as he tried not to trip up the damn stairs.

"And here was me thinkin' that you were a virgin, Cassie," Gabriel chuckled behind them, but Dean was being pulled to Cas' bedroom so quickly that he didn't even have the chance to reply with a witty comeback.

Once they got to his bedroom, Castiel closed the door behind them immediately before finally letting go of Dean's arm and walking over to his bed where he crouched down to pull a small box out from underneath it. Dean did try really hard not to stare at his ass, but failed miserably. Well, it wasn't his fault that Castiel had the most firm looking ass he’d ever seen.

Castiel managed to catch him staring by turning his head a little. A slight blush crept onto Dean’s cheeks – though he wasn’t sure if it was noticeable thanks to the amazing job Adam had apparently done to his face – as he looked away, clearing his throat awkwardly.

That reminded him that he hadn’t yet seen the damage done to his face. He spotted a mirror hanging on the wall at the other side of the room and walked over to it, trying to avoid any further awkward moments.

“Like I said, this is only to help clean you up,” Cas reminded him in a soft voice from where he was now sitting on the bed.

Dean nodded, rolling his eyes a little. When he finally saw himself, he realized what everyone else had been meaning. He looked terrible. Adam had really fucked his face up well. There was dried blood all over his cheeks, nose and chin. His lips were cracked and split and his eye was unrecognizable, swollen and bruised badly. He turned around, unable to look at himself another second.

Castiel was searching around for something in his box when Dean sat down on the bed beside him, the mattress dipping a little under his weight. He sighed, staring at his hands as he waited for Castiel to get on with helping to patch him up so that he could just leave, go home and crawl into bed forever.

When he felt something damp and soft prodding at a cut on his cheek, he hissed as a stinging sensation shot through his cheek. “Fuck,” he cursed, flinching away from Castiel who was holding a cotton bud with some liquid on it between his fingers, trying to dab at Dean’s cuts with it.

“Do you want them to get infected?” he asked, tugging Dean closer and rolling his eyes. Dean frowned and glared a little at Cas before relaxing and closing his eyes, letting him caress his face gently with the disinfectant-soaked cotton, not before noticing a small bottle of pills on Cas’ nightstand. “Well then, stop acting like such a child.”

“What’re the pills for?” he asked, trying to ignore the stinging in his face.

He could feel Castiel pausing and his breath quickening before he answered, “They … uh, help me sleep.”

Dean nodded, accepting the answer and focusing instead on Castiel being so close to him after all this time apart. It felt nice. He could feel his warm breath against his cheek and his eyelids fluttered. Being this close to him after so long felt slightly weird but extremely right all at the same time. He almost forgot all about Balthazar in the several silent moments until the image of him kissing Castiel plagued his mind once again.

“So,” he began, cracking open one eye to look at Castiel who seemed focused solely on fixing Dean up. “Balthazar.”

The prodding stopped for a second as Castiel tilted his head to the side, eyes narrowed. “What about him?” he asked as he pulled his hand away, only to grab a fresh cotton pad and dab it against Dean’s cuts.

Dean closed his eyes again, exhaling slowly through his nose as their knees bumped briefly. “Nothing. I just … you like him?” he questioned, swallowing thickly as Cas’ fingertips grazed over his cheekbone causing shivers to run down his spine.

Castiel hesitated for a moment and Dean wouldn’t deny how much that pleased him. “Maybe I do,” was Cas’ eventual reply. He began fiddling around in that box again before taking Dean’s right hand carefully between his own and giving the same treatment he had given the cuts on his face to the grazes on his knuckles that he’d hardly even noticed. “It’s not really any of your business though.”

Well, that wasn’t really the response Dean was hoping for. He nodded a little as he flexed his fingers, curling them around Cas’ briefly as he stared into his eyes. Castiel’s own gaze flickered up to meet Dean’s and for a moment they were back to Valentine’s night, back to the never-ending sexual tension between them both, back to never being able to keep their hands off of each other.

Their moment was short lived when Castiel broke their locked gazes to unravel some bandage, letting Dean’s hand rest on his thigh for a while as he kept his eyes on the bandage. Sure, it was awkward and tense, but the air was also thick with something else. Thick with the memories of the good times along with memories connected to this room and them both together gasping out each other’s names through the darkness. The sexual tension was suffocating.

Castiel’s soft, long fingers wound the bandage around Dean’s knuckles carefully before taping it in place with some medical tape. He didn’t just let go of Dean’s hand right away like he’d expected. Instead, he brushed his thumb across Dean’s bandaged knuckles gently, staring down at his hand like it held the answer to everything.

“I’m sorry,” Dean whispered before even being able to think about what to say next. He was resting his forehead against Cas’ now, staring at his eyelashes which covered those beautiful blue eyes that he loved so much.

“Don’t,” Cas breathed, shaking his head a little, bottom lip quivering slightly.

“No, I have to say this. I should’ve said it a long time ago, Cas,” he continued, bringing his hands up to cup Castiel’s face even as he closed his eyes and turned his head away. “But, I was an idiot. I was so stupid and I’m so sorry.”

“Dean, stop,” Castiel begged, visibly clenching his jaw as he tried to push Dean away.

Dean just kept going though; he was going to make Castiel hear him out. He needed to have him hear him out. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I know without a doubt that I—“ He stopped, finding it impossible to get the words out.

Castiel froze too, eyes opening slowly to reveal that they were full of tears. His lips were parted as he stared at Dean questioningly. “You what, Dean?”

“I … love you,” he breathed, thumb brushing over Cas’ bottom lip as his whole body was shaking like a leaf. He was so damn nervous and he’d never said that to anyone outside family before.

A few tears escaped from Castiel’s eyes as his breath hitched and he shook his head. “No, Dean, don’t say that. Please,” he whispered pleadingly, sniffling softly.

“Cas, I’m in love with you,” Dean repeated, leaning in closer to Castiel’s face as tears continued to flow down his face causing Dean to wipe them away with his thumbs. He then closed the gap between them and pressed their lips together softly, eyes closing slowly. He could feel Castiel relaxing against him, hands pressed against his chest as his lips fitted perfectly against Dean’s.

Then he was wriggling out of Dean’s grip, pushing him away with a groan. Dean’s eyebrows furrowed as he frowned heavily and watched Castiel sit there shaking his head frantically. “You can’t just do this,” he sobbed, shaking hands coming up to cover his face. “You can’t just crash back into my life when I’m finally getting over you. You have no right, Dean. Y-You can’t.”

“I know, I know,” Dean whispered. “And I hate myself for ruining things between us, I really do. But Cas, please, I can’t just walk away and forget we ever happened. —“

Dean didn’t have to plead anymore because Castiel’s lips were back on his, kissing him insistently. It was all happening so quickly, Castiel’s hands holding his face, moaning softly against his lips as he crawled onto his lap. Dean let out a surprised huff, eyebrows raised before he simply melted against Cas, hands gripping his hips, pulling him as close as possible.

Their lips moved in sync with each other, as if they were two puzzle pieces just made to fit together. The whole room and world around them seemed to just fade away as Dean focused completely on the love of his life, hands sliding up and down the sides of his torso, smirking when he felt Cas shiver under his touch.

Dean hardly had time to think when Cas began tugging his shirt off before leaning down to kiss and suck at his collarbone. He threw his head back, a guttural moan leaving his throat as he let his eyes close slowly. This all felt so good and right and way more than perfect that Dean was already half hard in his pants.

One of his hands was soon sliding up underneath Castiel’s t-shirt to thumb at his nipple gently. Dean was quite proud of the soft whimper that left Cas’ lips and how the bud of his nipple hardened under his touch.

“Missed you so much,” Cas breathed out, tongue flicking out against one of Dean’s nipples, forcing a husky groan to escape from his throat.

“M-Missed you too, Cas,” Dean whispered in response, cock now achingly hard and begging for attention where it was trapped in his restricting jeans.

When Castiel started suckling on his nipple, Dean’s hips jerked up instinctively as he let out a shaky breath. Castiel moaned, eyes flickering up to gaze into Dean’s full of lust. Dean could feel that Castiel wanted this just as much as he did if the hard line of his erection pressed against his was anything to go by.

Dean was itching to just beg Castiel to hurry up and fuck him already, but the kisses that the blue-eyed boy was leaving right down past his navel were making his breath quicken and his cock twitch in anticipation.

After mouthing at the outline of Dean’s cock teasingly for a few moments, Castiel finally got to work on tugging Dean’s belt off and undoing his jeans. Dean raised his hips to help him tug them off, chuckling breathlessly as their foreheads bumped together a little causing Castiel to press a firm hand against Dean’s chest and push him down to a lying position on the bed.

Castiel’s hand stayed there for a while, resting right over Dean’s heart which was hammering in his chest. A small smile graced his lips and Dean couldn’t help but lean up to peck at them lovingly. He was pushed back down again soon after though before being stripped of his boxers, his breath hitching in his throat as the air finally hit his throbbing erection.

He watched as Castiel licked his lips and began slipping off his own pants and underwear until they were both staring at each other; the only sounds in the room were that of their heavy breathing. Castiel was first to break the silence, turning to reach over for the bottle of lube which was packed away in the bottom of the top drawer of his nightstand.

Dean swallowed thickly, closing his eyes and getting himself ready for the feeling of a slicked-up finger pushing inside him. He waited, and waited, but nothing happened. He opened one eye to see Castiel still there, back arched perfectly and head thrown back with his lips parted sensuously. Dean opened his other eye with confusion written all over his face before he realized what Castiel was actually doing.

“Fuck,” he breathed, watching Cas work himself open for him. He resisted the urge to reach down and stroke his neglected cock at this hot-as-fuck sight.

Cas leaned forwards a little bit, eyes now fixed on Dean’s as he panted, hand still working behind himself. “Dean,” he whispered, grabbing for the lube before slipping it into his hand. “Get yourself ready for me.”

Dean nodded eagerly, licking his lips as he flipped open the lid and poured some of the cold liquid onto his hand. He then finally wrapped that hand around his cock, letting out a soft moan at the much needed friction. He stroked himself slowly, only a few times before forcing his hand away. Dean knew that if he continued much longer, he’d come long before he was inside Cas.

Castiel was now gripping tightly at Dean’s thigh, groaning softly as he took his other hand away from where he was working himself open. Dean watched him take a deep breath before moving so that he was straddling Dean’s hips, that blue-eyed gaze never leaving his.

If Dean had to use three words to describe how utterly amazing Castiel felt around him the moment he began sinking onto his cock like that, he’d say: hot, tight and perfect. He’d never felt anything like it. His hands were gripping tightly at Castiel’s gorgeous hips, so tightly that there would probably be finger shaped bruises there by morning.

Their moans and grunts filled the room when Castiel finally bottomed-out. Dean stayed still for a while to allow him to adjust before sitting up a little to wrap his arms around Castiel tightly, holding him close and thrusting up a little.

Cas’ arms draped around his neck and their foreheads were pressed together as they began moving together, gasping out each other’s names and staring deeply into each other’s eyes. It was far more than perfect, far more than just sex. It was making love.

As Castiel continued fucking himself like a pro on Dean’s cock, his hands slid up to thread through Dean’s short hair, gripping tightly and holding him there. “I love you,” he sobbed, cock twitching where it was pressed between their bodies and Dean could tell Cas was close by the way his whole body began to tremble.

“Mmh, God— Love you too, baby,” Dean gasped out, feeling the heat coiling deep in his abdomen getting stronger and stronger with every thrust and every clench of Cas’ muscles around his cock.

Castiel’s moans and whimpers got louder and more frequent as he began kissing Dean sloppily to try and muffle his uncontrollable sounds. “P-Please, please— oh, fuck. M’gonna … Dean, I’m so close.”

“Me too, me too. Fuck— CasCasCas,” was the last thing Dean was able to cry out before pleasure was shooting through his entire body, raising goosebumps across his skin as he filled Castiel up with one last thrust.

Dean fell back, panting heavily, after his cock stopped pulsing inside Cas. It took a while for him to recover from one of the most intense orgasms he’d ever had. It also took him a while to realise that Cas had also came not long after him and they were now tangled up with each other in a sweaty mess of limbs as their heartbeats slowly returned to normal.

Nothing else was said afterwards. Maybe Castiel regretted it, or maybe he was just as confused and surprised by it as Dean was. Either way, they fell asleep together after Dean tugged the blankets over them both and wrapped an arm around Cas’ waist to hold him close.

He had no idea what would happen in the morning. Yeah, they’d definitely have to have a very long conversation about all this. All he knew was that he loved Cas so much more than he ever could’ve imagined and even though that scared him, he was willing to try and get over it … for Cas.

Chapter Text

In the morning, Dean had expected to wake up all tangled up with Castiel. Maybe even go for another repeat of last night because god, he’d never felt as good as Cas had made him feel last night. But, when he woke up, he was greeted with the sight of an empty bed beside him. The only sign that Castiel had been there the night before was the creased dent in his pillow.

Dean sighed and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes with a soft groan. He really didn’t want to get up, so he waited in the hope that Castiel would return to bed sooner or later. When half an hour passed and there was still no sign of Castiel appearing and Dean sat up, running a hand through his hair as he glanced at the clock on the nightstand. 10:34am.

As he walked down the stairs slowly in nothing but a pair of boxers that he wasn’t sure were his or not, he could smell bacon wafting through the house. His stomach growled in response as he entered the kitchen to find Castiel standing at the oven with his back towards him.

“Bacon and eggs,” he muttered, voice sounding tired and worn out which made Dean frown with concern. “Pour yourself some coffee.”

Dean did as he was told, grabbing a mug from the table and pouring some coffee into it before taking a long sip, letting the warm liquid flow down his throat before he leaned against the counter beside Castiel, studying him with curious eyes.

Castiel caught him staring and narrowed his eyes as he transferred the bacon and eggs onto the plates on the counter. “Something wrong?” he asked.

“Nope, but I was just about to ask you the same thing,” Dean replied as he took his plate from Castiel along with a knife and fork and went to sit at the table, immediately digging into the delicious breakfast that his stomach had been craving for.

He could hear Castiel sighing as he sat down opposite him and he didn’t talk for quite some time as they both began eating in silence. Dean was worried now. Had he done or said something wrong last night? Did Castiel not enjoy it as much as he did? What was wrong? ‘Cause something obviously was.

After taking a slow sip of his own coffee, Castiel started to talk with a frown on his face. “Dean, about last night,” he began.

“It was awesome,” Dean interrupted with a goofy grin, but his face dropped when he noticed Castiel wasn’t smiling back or even agreeing. “Cas?”

“It should never have happened,” he said softly, now staring at the wood of the table, eyes glistening with tears. “I’m with Balthazar now. I can’t believe I did this to him. What the hell was I thinking?”

Dean felt nausea churn in his stomach and he could just about feel his heart shattering into a million tiny pieces. He swallowed thickly, biting down on his bottom lip before taking a breath. “W-What are you saying?” He couldn’t eat anymore, even though his plate was mostly still full. His appetite had just completely vanished.

He’d never known the meaning of heartbreak until Castiel look him in the eye and said, “I’m saying … you had your chance with me, and you blew it. And now you think one night of stupidity is going to change things?”

“Cas— Please,” Dean choked out, blinking as tears stung at his eyes. “Don’t do this.”

“What would you have me do, Dean?” he growled back, getting to his feet. Dean soon followed, walking around to face him. “Breakup with Balthazar and get with you, pray you don’t mess things up this time? I can’t go through that shit again, Dean. I can’t.”

Dean cleared his throat, trying so damn hard not to let a single tear fall. “I thought you loved me,” he whispered, grabbing Cas’ arms and forcing him to look at him. “You told me you loved me! You made me love you! Please don’t do this. I promise I can change, I’ll make you happy, I swear it.”

Tears were flowing down Castiel’s cheeks as he shook his head slowly. “I can’t. I’m sorry, Dean,” he sobbed, pulling away from him. “Coming out is difficult, Dean. You’re gonna have it hard the next few months and I can be there to help you through it, as a friend, but nothing more.”

Dean nodded, feeling hurt, angry, upset, heartbroken— Fuck, there were no words to describe how he felt at that very moment. He had to force himself to turn and head back upstairs to pull on his clothes, feeling like a robot on autopilot. Once he was fully-clothed, he headed downstairs and took one last look around before heading out the door and slamming it shut, possibly for the last time.

***

Dean didn’t understand why Castiel did what he did for a long time after that. They did talk and text quite a lot and Dean kept on hoping that somehow they'd end up together again. But, maybe it was for the best. He had no idea how hard times were for Castiel. As they spoke more, Dean found out that Castiel had even spent time in a psychiatric ward a few years back after a failed suicide attempt. They both obviously had a lot of issues to work out and they were going to help each other get through their troubles.

A few weeks afterwards, finals were rearing their ugly heads once again and Dean suddenly found himself bombarded with tons of work and studying to do. Thankfully, his dad took on his job at the garage, giving him more time to study and less to sit around wallowing in self-pity. Sam was getting back to his old nerdy ways and Jess was paying a lot more visits to their house. Dean definitely didn’t mind that since the girl made the best damn apple pies he’d tasted since his mom’s.

On the last Friday in the semester, after Dean had brutally fought tooth-and-nail through his finals, Jo met him at his locker with that same smile she’d been wearing ever since she’d broken up with Adam after he had royally kicked Dean’s ass at the match.

“Dean, you know the way you love me?” she began, batting her eyelashes as Dean let out a fake groan of overly-dramatic irritation.

“What is it?” he asked with a chuckle, stuffing the last of his books into his backpack before zipping it up and closing his locker for the last time this school year.

“Well, there’s an end of year party thing at the GSA meeting right now. Since Pamela has fucked-off to Spain and Anna is nowhere to be found, I have no one to go with,” she said, grinning adorably up at Dean who rolled his eyes.

He remembered how he’d made a promise to Castiel all those months back that he’d go to at least one meeting. Would Castiel be there? Probably. Along with Balthazar. Would it hurt to see them? Of course it would. But Dean wanted to do this one last thing for the guy he’d always love no matter how much time passed.

So, he nodded and Jo looked hugely surprised. Soon, Jo’s arm was hooked around Dean’s and they were heading towards the meeting that everyone seemed to be going to by the looks of things.

Once they entered the room where the meeting was taking place - it was actually just a classroom with no tables, only rows of chairs - they were handed flyers and ushered to seats in the middle row. The meeting had already begun and Charlie was standing at the front giving some sort of speech.

"And, we're going to have a few speakers as usual before the fun starts," she said with a smile. The room was packed and Dean glanced around to find people of all social labels in here. "Our first speaker is James Novak."

Dean instantly wanted to get the hell out of here. But something was keeping him from doing so. Maybe the way Castiel looked so cute and-- was that the sweater Dean bought him for Christmas? Oh god, that made him feel all warm and fuzzy inside even though they were long since over. 

Castiel cleared his throat and took a look around before beginning. He talked on for almost five minutes about the importance of the GSA and how it has helped so many people come to terms with their sexuality over the past year. Something about the way Castiel spoke with so much passion and understanding in his voice made sure that no one in the room was bored and that they hung to his every word.

Then he began talking about his own personal experience with the GSA and how it has helped with so much more than just his sexuality. When Castiel began talking about his depression, Dean felt like a horrible person for not working it all out. It all made sense now. The time off school, the mood swings, the pills. All of it. Dean should've made the connection, but he didn't. Now he felt horrible for all the bad things he'd said and done to Cas over the past year.

"Soon after my diagnosis, my sister encouraged me to come to a GSA meeting where I met a lot of people who helped me through some tough times. Along with one person in particular." Cas looked over to someone and smiled. Dean soon noticed it was Balthazar and he made a face before Jo nudged him in the ribcage and told him to behave. "But, then I met this other guy. This wonderful, beautiful guy. I thought he was gonna save me, make me better somehow. But, I put too much hope in him and he let me down, but i loved him. I still do. I think I always will. He'll never know just how much he saved me. But I wasn't good for him. Being together wouldn't have been good for either of us. It's a very difficult time in his life and I don't want him to feel pressurized or stressed out in any way. He'll have a lot to go through and I don't want to have to hurt because he does. Maybe it's selfish, but I know he understands. I know that, if we ever see each other in the future, that he'll know that this was worth it. That we wouldn't have worked out. So, I think I did the right thing. And found someone who's able to admit how he feels when he feels it in the process. Someone who tells me he loves me everyday and means it so much. Someone who is so far from perfect but who tries so hard. Someone who makes me happy, even when I thought I never would be again."

The whole room was silent for a long moment afterwards. Some people were in tears whilst others were clapping and saying how inspirational Castiel was. But Dean was just feeling so ... bittersweet. Was that even an emotion? They hadn't really talked about their break-up ever since. They'd just kinda slipped into a friendship that was comfortable and good. Though now he finally knew why Castiel did what he did and the best part was, he understood. He wasn't angry anymore. He felt like he could finally get over it and get on with his life.

***

The years went by, Dean and Cas grew apart and college came and went. Soon, Dean was playing minor league football and coaching kids in his spare time. He didn't see Cas for a very long time after high school and he just seemed to fade away out of his mind after a while.

But that didn't mean that Dean never thought about him again. Sometimes he'd accidentally slip the mixtape into the radio of the Impala and find himself humming along to the songs, reliving the memories of the blue-eyed boy in his head, wondering briefly where he was now.

Sometimes, he'd sign into his messenger every few months, even though he only had one contact now. He'd wish that there was a little green circle beside Castiel's name. He did that for years, but he never did get that one last online chat with Cas that he so desperately wished for.

 

Ten Years Later:-

He stood there, in front of Castiel’s shopping cart in the middle of a crowded supermarket with his heart hammering in his chest. Dean knew this was probably a very bad idea; speaking to him again after all these years. Even though Dean had a million things he wanted to tell or ask Castiel, only one question pushed its way through to the front of his mind.

“I’m sorry, I just need to know something then I’ll leave you alone,” he said, voice shaking. The look on Castiel’s face was one of mixed emotions as Dean continued, “Are you happy?”

Castiel seemed to hesitate for a while before he glanced over at his blonde-haired daughter. He looked back at Dean with a smile and nodded, Dean could swear those were tears he saw glistening in the stranger’s eyes. “I am,” he said, gazing at Dean with that look. The look he gave him the last time he said, ‘I love you’. Even after all this time, Dean still got nervous butterflies when he stared deep into those perfect blue eyes.

Oh, how Dean wished that they were still seventeen and everything was simple again. But, they weren’t and things would never be the way they were back then. As Dean stepped away from Castiel’s cart, he felt as though he was letting his whole world slip through his fingers like grains of sand. But, Castiel was happy and that was all Dean needed to hear.

Castiel gave him one last look before leading his daughter out towards his car to join Balthazar who was waiting there for them, reminding Dean of what could've been. Tears blurred his vision slightly as he watched Castiel walk away. Things were so different now. Cas was so different. But, those eyes were exactly the same. Still as bright and blue and beautiful as the first time Dean saw them at that party which seemed like a lifetime ago now. The one thing he was certain of, was that it was worth it. Everything they went through together was worth it, and maybe they wouldn't have worked out. They'll never know, but Dean was content enough knowing that Castiel was happy.

A comforting arm hooked around his and he glanced down to meet Jo’s soft, understanding gaze. “You okay?” she asked, peering over to where Cas was now driving off into the distance.

“Yeah,” Dean croaked. He was surprised at how much truth there was in that word. Knowing that Castiel was safe and happy made everything ‘okay’. “I am.” He shot Jo a reassuring smile before leaning down to press a kiss to her lips and place a hand over her growing tummy.

~~~

When your heart releases, you won’t fall to pieces

And your breath comes crashing in,

Like perfect porcelain

Chapter Text

In the morning, Dean had expected to wake up all tangled up with Castiel. Maybe even go for another repeat of last night because god, he’d never felt as good as Cas had made him feel last night. But, when he woke up, he was greeted with the sight of an empty bed beside him. The only sign that Castiel had been there the night before was the creased dent in his pillow.

 

Dean sighed and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes with a soft groan. He really didn’t want to get up, so he waited in the hope that Castiel would return to bed sooner or later. When half an hour passed and there was still no sign of Castiel appearing and Dean sat up, running a hand through his hair as he glanced at the clock on the nightstand. 10.34am.

 

As he walked down the stairs slowly in nothing but a pair of boxers that he wasn’t sure were his or not, he could smell bacon wafting through the house. His stomach growled in response as he entered the kitchen to find Castiel standing at the oven with his back towards him.

 

“Bacon and eggs,” he muttered, voice sounding tired and worn out which made Dean frown with concern. “Pour yourself some coffee.”

 

Dean did as he was told, grabbing a mug from the table and pouring some coffee into it before taking a long sip, letting the warm liquid flow down his throat before he leaned against the counter beside Castiel, studying him with curious eyes.

 

Castiel caught him staring and narrowed his eyes as he transferred the bacon and eggs onto the plates on the counter. “Something wrong?” he asked.

 

“Nope, but I was just about to ask you the same thing,” Dean replied as he took his plate from Castiel along with a knife and fork and went to sit at the table, immediately digging into the delicious breakfast that his stomach had been craving for.

 

He could hear Castiel sighing as he sat down opposite him and he didn’t talk for quite some time as they both began eating in silence. Dean was worried now. Had he done or said something wrong last night? Did Castiel not enjoy it as much as he did? What was wrong? ‘Cause something obviously was.

 

After taking a slow sip of his own coffee, Castiel started to talk with a frown on his face. “Dean, about last night,” he began.

 

“It was awesome,” Dean interrupted with a goofy grin, but his face dropped when he noticed Castiel wasn’t smiling back or even agreeing. “Cas?”

 

“It should never have happened,” he said softly, now staring at the wood of the table, eyes glistening with tears. “I’m with Balthazar now. I can’t believe I did this to him. What the hell was I thinking?”

 

Dean felt nausea churn in his stomach and he could just about feel his heart shattering into a million tiny pieces. He swallowed thickly, biting down on his bottom lip before taking a breath. “W-What are you saying?” He couldn’t eat anymore, even though his plate was mostly still full. His appetite had just completely vanished.

 

He’d never known the meaning of heartbreak until Castiel look him in the eye and said, “I’m saying … you had your chance with me, and you blew it. And now you think one night of stupidity is going to change things?”

 

“Cas— Please,” Dean choked out, blinking as tears stung at his eyes. “Don’t do this.”

 

“What would you have me do, Dean?” he growled back, getting to his feet. Dean soon followed, walking around to face him. “Breakup with Balthazar and get with you, pray you don’t mess things up this time? I can’t go through that shit again, Dean. I can’t.”

 

Dean cleared his throat, trying so damn hard not to let a single tear fall. “I thought you loved me,” he whispered, grabbing Cas’ arms and forcing him to look at him. “You told me you loved me! You made me love you! Please don’t do this. I promise I can change, I’ll make you happy, I swear it.”

 

Tears were flowing down Castiel’s cheeks as he shook his head slowly. “I can’t. I’m sorry, Dean,” he sobbed, pulling away from him. “Coming out is difficult, Dean. You’re gonna have it hard the next few months and I can be there to help you through it, as a friend, but nothing more.”

 

Dean nodded, feeling hurt, angry, upset, heartbroken— Fuck, there were no words to describe how he felt at that very moment. He had to force himself to turn and head back upstairs to pull on his clothes, feeling like a robot on autopilot. Once he was fully-clothed, he headed downstairs and took one last look around before heading out the door and slamming it shut, possibly for the last time.

 

***

 

Dean didn’t understand why Castiel did what he did for a long time after that. They did talk and text quite a lot and Dean kept on hoping that somehow they'd end up together again. But, maybe it was for the best. He had no idea how hard times were for Castiel. As they spoke more, Dean found out that Castiel had even spent time in a psychiatric ward a few years back after a failed suicide attempt. They both obviously had a lot of issues to work out and they were going to help each other get through their troubles.

 

A few weeks afterwards, finals were rearing their ugly heads once again and Dean suddenly found himself bombarded with tons of work and studying to do. Thankfully, his dad took on his job at the garage, giving him more time to study and less to sit around wallowing in self-pity.

 

Sam was getting back to his old nerdy ways and Jess was paying a lot more visits to their house. Dean definitely didn’t mind that since the girl made the best damn apple pies he’d tasted since his mom’s.

 

On the last Friday in the semester, after Dean had brutally fought tooth-and-nail through his finals, Jo met him at his locker with that same smile she’d been wearing ever since she’d broken up with Adam after he had royally kicked Dean’s ass at the match.

 

“Dean, you know the way you love me?” she began, batting her eyelashes as Dean let out a fake groan of overly-dramatic irritation.

 

“What is it?” he asked with a chuckle, stuffing the last of his books into his backpack before zipping it up and closing his locker for the last time this school year.

 

“Well, there’s an end of year party at the GSA meeting right now. Since Pamela has fucked-off to Spain and Anna is nowhere to be found, I have no one to go with,” she said, grinning adorably up at Dean who rolled his eyes.

 

He remembered how he’d made a promise to Castiel all those months back that he’d go to at least one meeting. Would Castiel be there? Probably. Along with Balthazar. Would it hurt to see them? Of course it would. But Dean wanted to do this one last thing for the guy he’d always love no matter how much time passed.

 

So, he nodded and Jo looked hugely surprised. Soon, Jo’s arm was hooked around Dean’s and they were heading towards the meeting that everyone seemed to be going to by the looks of things.

 

Once they entered the room where the meeting was taking place - it was actually just a classroom with no tables, only rows of chairs - they were handed flyers and ushered to seats in the middle row. The meeting had already begun and Charlie was standing at the front giving some sort of speech.

 

"And, we're going to have a few speakers as usual before the fun starts," she said with a smile. The room was packed and Dean glanced around to find people of all social labels in here. "Our first speaker is James Novak."

 

Dean instantly wanted to get the hell out of here. But something was keeping him from doing so. Maybe the way Castiel looked so cute and-- was that the sweater Dean bought him for Christmas? Oh god, that made him feel all warm and fuzzy inside even though they were long since over.

 

Castiel cleared his throat and took a look around before beginning. He talked on for almost five minutes about the importance of the GSA and how it has helped so many people come to terms with their sexuality over the past year. Something about the way Castiel spoke with so much passion and understanding in his voice made sure that no one in the room was bored and that they hung to his every word.

 

Then he began talking about his own personal experience with the GSA and how it has helped with so much more than just his sexuality. When Castiel began talking about his depression, Dean felt like a horrible person for not working it all out. It all made sense now. The time off school, the mood swings, the pills. All of it. Dean should've made the connection, but he didn't. Now he felt horrible for all the bad things he'd said and done to Cas over the past year.

 

"Soon after my diagnosis, my sister encouraged me to come to a GSA meeting where I met a lot of people who helped me through some tough times. Along with one person in particular." Cas looked over to someone and smiled. Dean soon noticed it was Balthazar and he made a face before Jo nudged him in the ribcage and told him to behave. "But, then I met this guy. This wonderful, beautiful guy. I thought he was gonna save me, make me better somehow. But, I put too much hope in him and he let me down, but i loved him. I still do. I think I always will. He'll never know just how much he saved me. But i wasn't good for him. Being together wouldn't have been good for either of us. It's a very difficult time in his life and I don't want him to feel pressurized or stressed out. He'll have a lot to go through and I don't want to have to hurt because he does. Maybe it's selfish, but I know he understands. I know that, if we ever see each other in the future, that he'll know that this was worth it. That we wouldn't have worked out. So, I think I did the right thing. And found someone who's able to admit how he feels when he feels it in the process. Someone who tells me he loves me everyday and means it so much. Someone who is so far from perfect but who tries so hard. Someone who makes me happy, even when I thought I never would be again."

 

The whole room was silent for a long moment afterwards. Some people were in tears whilst others were clapping and saying how inspirational Castiel was. But Dean was just feeling so ... bittersweet. Was that even an emotion? He finally knew why Castiel did what he did and the best part was, he understood. He wasn't angry anymore. He felt like he could finally get over it and get on with his life.

 

But that didn't mean that Dean never thought about him again. Sometimes he'd accidentally slip the mixtape into the radio of the Impala and find himself humming along to the songs, reliving the memories of his true love that he regretted losing every single day since. He always would.

 

1 YEAR LATER-

 

The day he got that scholarship he'd worked so damn hard for, he was proud as hell of himself. His dad kept saying how proud his mom would be of him right now and that just made him more and more determined to work hard at college and be able to make up for years of feeling guilty about her death.

 

He had tried to date a few guys since Castiel. Benny had been nice and Dean had some fun times with him, but things just didn't work out and that was okay. They were still friends afterwards and even hung out sometimes. Then there was Aaron who treated Dean as if he was the love of his life. Even though Dean didn't feel as if he deserved the way Aaron was so understanding sometimes when they'd argue, he really did like him. That was until they decided amicably that, since Aaron was travelling halfway across the country to go to college, that it would be best that they go their separate ways.

 

So, Dean was a single guy by the time he began college. He decided to stay close to home and went to a college near enough to home that he didn't have to spend tons of money on accommodation. Things were really looking up for him as he began to accept who he was and Dean was happy to see some familiar faces at the student orientation week.

 

Except, none as familiar as the blue-eyed, messy-haired boy with an over-sized sweater and a warm smile bumping into him accidentally at the gates.

 

"Hi," Castiel said softly, running a hand through his hair as a slight blush crept onto his cheeks and he looked almost as adorable as he did that first time they officially met at the party which seemed like a lifetime ago.

 

"Hey there, you go here too?"

 

"Yeah. College. It's gonna be great," Castiel chuckled and Dean grinned and they were totally having a moment, Dean would no longer dispute that. "I guess I'll be seeing you around a whole lot more then."

 

Dean nodded with a huge, pleased smile on his face. "I hope so."

 

As he watched Castiel walk off, shaking his head with a fond smile on his face, he thought to himself that maybe all hope was not lost. Maybe there was a second chance looming on the horizon. And maybe even a instant message conversation later on that night.

 

 

~~~

 

When your heart releases, you won’t fall to pieces

 

And your breath comes crashing in,

 

Like perfect porcelain