It was a small town. The kind of towns you find passing along the grapevine or up PCH, off the side of a highway, full of orchards and green open land or rows and rows of carefully plotted trees and crops.
Deans family ran a apricot orchard, not unlike any other aside from it was the Winchesters, and it’s where this story begins and ends.
Castiel’s family ran the parish in town. Not unlike any other small parish is a small town, except that this family had Castiel, and to Dean that was all that was needed to make the Novak home special.
The two families were rather close- since it is a small community- a thousand people or so. Maybe less.
Chuck Novak had actually wed John and Mary Winchester. So naturally when Cas and Dean were born around the same time, being the same age, in a small nameless town, they grew to become each other other half, joined only by the youngest Winchester 3 years later, Sam.
This is basically a coming out story a couple decades in the making.
Everything in youth had been great. Slices of memories, when they were young, things like playing in the orchards during spring when all the tree canopies were pink.
Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten. Memories like hide and seek. Cas is a good finder, or maybe Dean's just a shitty hider. Either way it seemed like they had always ended up having to pull Sam out of the branches- because the little cheat liked to hide in them.
Eleven, Twelve. Winters spent puddle hopping, Cas helping Sam get the hang of cursive. Swimming in the river and Dean teaching Cas how to catch tadpoles.
It’s endless. Using Dad's scrap wood and tools to make a house in the low oak in the front yard. Failing, but John Winchester using a tractor tire to make a swing for them none the less. Sunburns to hot chocolate, helping Mary make marmalade to the first time Dean laughs so hard he could pee himself when Cas’ voice starts to change.
Life is great till they are teenagers and Dean starts to notice Cas more.
It scares him because no one in town is like him. No one else seems to see Cas like he does. None of the other boys.
At 15, they lay out on the crate trucks eating Popsicles in the heat of summer. This should be normal. How many summers has this scene played out? But when Cas peels his shirt away, Dean feels his stomach sink with the change in him he feels.
Like he’s poisoned, looking at Cas that way. Smooth tanned planes, sloped shoulder blades, the mole on Cas’ chest and the light sheen of sweat rolling down the curve of his back.
Dean starts to separate himself. In small ways, the ways he can without being too obvious. Simple things, like not changing around Cas. Opting out of sleepovers and slowly one by one he finds excuses to get out of Tuesday pizza nights and movies on Saturdays.
He gets into football, helps John with the orchard. Anything to give him the space he can to fix whatever he is.
Finally Dean graduates and leaves town without without a word to Cas for college.
He doesn’t know how to explain exactly what Cas was or felt like to him. There’s a heat and a rush of emotion that follows him when he thinks about Cas, dreams even. But as soon as the rush passes it’s like a subtle shame. Because Cas didn’t change, it was Dean. Dean, who without meaning to, had started to look at his best friend- pretty much his brother they had been together so long- more carnally. Greedy. With something he knew he shouldn’t. Something unfamiliar.
So he left off to college and tried to figure himself out. Sleeps with women, because he should and he can.
Then meets a guy named Aaron in his second year that doesn’t last long. He scared himself with it, coming to terms with what exactly it was he preferred. What made him different.
Dean gets a job after he graduates, doing sales for a company called Sandover.
He calls or sees Sam sometimes- the smart little shit got into Stanford and met what better be Deans sister-in-law, a beautiful girl named Jessica. (He had hated Ruby.)
Dean missed holidays often, because even 8 years later he’s scared of going back to town. If and when he does go, its as short as possible. drive in and out by that night. He hasn’t spoken to Cas but maybe more than twice on the phone since he left. Nothing more than pleasantries usually in the background. Its strange but better, somehow, he hopes.
Dean meets a guy named Benny, and that lasts a year. A year he actually found a sort of comfort in, but Benny wanted things Dean couldn’t really give him. Things like meeting Deans family, talking about things he wasn’t sure he wanted to talk about, getting their own place– things that Dean looked at as big steps when he is still unsure exactly what wanted. They split.
Then, two years later, at 29, Dean wakes up to his phone ringing. He gets a call from Sam in the middle of the night.
John has passed away.