It should be a good day. Dean has cleared out his inbox, filed three boxes of paperwork and finally got the Fermat accounts to balance. It should be a good day, but Cas’ stupid husband has made Cas cry.
It’s worse because Cas doesn’t cry like normal people. He’s not hysterical, clutch my friends in the bathroom like some of the secretaries in the office. Definitely not the screaming and yelling thing Dad did when he was drunk, thank god. Of course Sammy still cries with his whole body like a five year old, wailing and flinging his arms around, desperate in his misery. Dean likes to think his more dignified than that, but he can feel his face crack raw and open, which is generally when he finds a wall to punch so at least he has the excuse of scraped knuckles
Cas doesn’t do any of that. He just sits at his desk, perfectly composed except for tears welling from his red-rimmed eyes. If asked he claims hay fever, and his voice is so even that Dean actually believes him the first couple of times. Until he notices Cas’ hay fever has nothing to do with the weather, and everything to do with rumors circulating about his utter dick of a husband.
Cas’ husband works for the same firm of accountants they do. In fact Michael is pretty much the big boss of the firm, being the great-grandson of the founder and all. Cas is actually related to him in a stupidly convoluted third cousin five times removed kind of way that wouldn’t mean anything to anybody not the Messingers, who are big on control and nothing gives you control like family. All three senior partners are Messingers and all the junior partners are Messingers except Cas, who’s technically a Novak, although his mother had the all-important surname.
And the big problem with working for your husband’s firm is that when he’s fucking one of the interns, everybody knows about it.
Dean can’t imagine what that’s like for Cas. Dean is pretty much a let all hang out guy, what you see is what you get and all that shit. Cas though, Cas is quiet and private and dignified (and also kind of shy, it’s cute), it has to be a special sort of hell for Cas to have the whole office speculating on his sex life.
Now Dean might not have the best reputation when it comes to sex (you said it Slutty McSlutterson, shut up Sam) but he really doesn’t have much patience for cheaters. It’s not like not-cheating is difficult or anything, you either keep it in your pants or you don’t make that commitment. And Michael is cheating on Cas, which is so irredeemably stupid Dean has to wonder if the guy’s lost his brain or something.
Anyway, Dean gets that people make mistakes (boy does he get that people make mistakes) so he’d cut Michael some slack on the cheating thing, but he cannot forgive the way he messes Cas around.
Last year, when Dean joins the firm as admin assistant and Cas’ dogsbody, it takes him less than a week to develop a fierce loathing for Michael Messinger. The way he stalks about the building like he owns everybody in it, like he owns Cas. The way he muscles into their cubby-hole office pushing Cas up against the filing cabinet, tongue-fucking his mouth, hands groping, all deliberately pornographic. Cas pushes at him ineffectually,
“Stop it Michael.”
“Never had a problem with a quickie at work before Castiel.”
“Dean’s right here.”
“Oh he doesn’t mind, do you Deano?”
“Whatever you say, Mikey.” Dean keeps his head down and pretends he’s focused on the figures in front of him, deliberately not looking up. Michael can get his kicks embarrassing somebody else, Dean’s not playing that game.
When Michael finally leaves, Dean glances up. Cas looks mortified. There’s no happy blush, like Jess after Sam has stolen public kisses, just a miserable hectic flush.
“I am sorry about Michael,” he apologizes stiffly.
“Nothing to do with me,” says Dean, looking back down at work, because he already knows calling Michael names will just upset Cas.
Unfortunately most people at Messinger & Messinger lack Dean’s superior taste. Michael is the idol of the office. He has that sense of uncanniness that all the Messingers seem to have inherited no matter what their physical characteristics. From Luc, who looks like a scruffy computer programmer but runs a Hedge Fund in New York and raises all the hairs on the back of Dean’s neck while some animal part inside him squeals with fear, Cas tells him Luc likes him and it’s the most terrifying thing he’s ever heard; Rafe, Michael’s scarily intense second in command, Cas tells him Rafe thinks Dean isn’t the right sort of caliber for Messinger & Messinger, Dean finds that deeply reassuring; Anna, a painfully thin prima ballerina with an aura of such intense sadness it’s hard to be in the same room with her; to the Accountant Clones, the other Messinger partners, who are so creepily identical, Dean swears share they a brain; even Cas has an other-worldly air, like he was put on Earth without an instruction manual and is earnestly trying to figure things out as he goes along. He has this confused little head tilt that’s utterly adorable. Dean may or may not look up obscure slang on urban dictionary dot com for the sole purpose of provoking that expression.
Michael’s uncanniness comes from his in your face attractiveness. There is none of Cas’ understated beauty, Michael is full-on, unrelentingly and showily gorgeous. He is blond, blue-eyed, and broad-shouldered. He is a good inch taller than Dean, and if Dean wasn’t used to his four years younger little brother being taller than him, he’d find that annoying. The secretaries swoon as they rustle and whisper about Michael being positively angelic. Dean doesn’t remember anything from Sunday school about angels being complete and utter dicks.
“You don’t like Michael, do you?” Cas asks him one day.
Dean shrugs his shoulders. That gets him the confused head tilt,
“Everybody likes Michael.”
Dean shrugs his shoulders again. He’s keeping his mouth shut about Michael because he’s worried what he might say if he gets started.
Last year from sometime before Dean joins the company to just after Thanksgiving Michael’s fucking around and everyone knows except Cas. Dean does his best to stay ignorant of Cas’ private life but it really is an open secret and just fetching them both coffees from the break room eventually gives him enough overheard snippets to put it together. He hates being an unwilling part of the conspiracy but he isn’t going to say anything unless Cas asks, and Cas doesn’t ask.
Not that Cas is blind or stupid, he knows something’s up but Michael is all, don’t you trust me, you’re just being paranoid, don’t you love me. Dean hears a lot of that thanks to Mikey’s habit of acting like Dean is wallpaper. So Cas is stuck between believing what his senses are telling him, or his husband.
Hence the hay fever.
It all leaves Dean feeling increasingly homicidal. Because cheating sucks big time, but if you do fuck up like that, you can at least be man enough to admit it. Not mind-trip your husband until he doesn’t know which way is up. Dean has actually heard Cas apologize for doubting Michael.
(It amazes Dean the blaze of white hot fury didn’t kill him and Michael both, he’s not sure what would have happened if Michael and Cas hadn’t both been gone by the time the world reappeared.)
Walking out on your husband of six years for your intern is hardly classy, but it’s a million times better than stringing your husband along while you fuck your intern behind his back.
Sam spends most of that Thanksgiving talking Dean out of beating some respect into Michael. Dean wouldn’t actually have done it, it wouldn’t really help and it would have upset Cas, but it feels good to play out the scenario, to feel there was something he could do for Cas. Sam also talks him out of his semi-serious plan of intimidating the intern until he crawls back under his rock. Jess is strangely intense about Dean not getting involved until Cas had made ‘his decision’, whatever that means.
Then when he gets back to the office, he finds one of Cas’ cousins has done the dirty deed and spilled the whole story at Thanksgiving lunch. Dean would like to think Gabriel had done it out of concern for Cas, but he’s pretty sure the tricky little fucker was just stirring for the hell of it.
Cas comes into the office and settles into work as if it is just a normal day. Dean doesn’t even know anything is wrong until he goes on his first coffee run and overhears one of the secretaries who is sleeping with one of the clone Messingers describing the whole thing as if she’d actually been there. Thankfully they all shut up when Dean appears because by now they all treat Dean as if he’s an extension of Cas and he pours two mugs of coffee and adds Cas’ three sugars in the awkward silence.
When gets back Cas is crying those horrible silent tears. Cas accepts the coffee and says,
“Thank you, Dean,” with a perfectly steady voice. His hands aren’t even shaking and Dean can’t begin to comprehend what that sort of composure must be costing him. Abruptly he can’t pretend to be ignorant any longer,
“Go home,” he says.
“Go home, I got this. There’s nothing crucial until your meeting with Boltzmann on Tuesday. Go home and take some anti-histamines.”
“Anti-histamines?” Cas repeats, like he’s never heard the word before.
“For your hay fever.”
“Oh. Yes. I –”
“Shut up Cas.”
“Thank you Dean.”
And Cas goes home and apparently has a serious talk with his husband because over the next few days Dean finds out from the grapevine that Michael and Cas are definitely back together. Cas himself never says a word about the issue.
Dean’s not precisely disappointed by this state of affairs, but he can’t quite manage to be happy for Cas either. Michael increased displays of coupledom make him itch under his skin. Michael buys and presents Cas with an extremely expensive watch. Cas looks at it curiously, and Dean just knows he’s wondering why Michael bought him a watch when he already has a perfectly good $10 watch. Cas simply doesn’t get status displays. The expensive watch also turns out to be a wind-up one, which Cas never remembers to do, so it spends most of its time run down, and after a couple of weeks, Cas starts wearing his $10 watch on his other wrist so he can actually tell the time.
Michael retaliates with an even bigger, fancier, more expensive (and battery-operated) watch, which Cas dutifully uses to replace his $10 watch even though the heavy metal links chafe at the delicate skin of his wrist.
Dean admires Cas’ deft, slender fingers as they fly across his keyboard, page through legal documents, carefully cradle his coffee mug and his eyes inevitably fall on the wide metal shackles Michael’s strapped around his wrists. It makes him want to break things.
To add to his general frustration with life, Sam starts up a campaign to get him to change jobs. Dean doesn’t understand it, Sam was the one who originally twisted his arm into applying for the job when they had to sell the garage after Dad died.
(“Come on Dean, it’s an accountants, you need to add up, and maybe subtract, how hard can it be.” Sam’s a moron who sticks to his opinion on accountants no matter how often Dean waxes lyrical on Cas’ feats of financial legerdemain.
Dean gets the job because Gabriel (he’s not sure if Gabriel has an actual job, he seems to spend his time flitting between his brothers’ and cousins’ business annoying the crap out of them) was standing in while Michael’s on a conference and Rafe’s pitching to some client on the East Coast. Gabriel looks him up and down,
“Don’t tell me, you’re a corn-fed farm boy who loves his mom and apple pie.”
“Shut the hell up about my mom,” Dean snaps back reflexively, before remembering he actually needs this job, then he decides he doesn’t need to put up with this shit, fast food joints are always hiring, and he refocuses his glare.
“Oh yeah,” Gabriel’s whole face lights up with twisted amusement, “you are going to drive Michael bugfuck crazy. You are so hired.”)
Now though Sammy’s decided Dean should do something else and nobody can whine relentlessly quite like Sammy. (“Come on Dean, the jobs adding up and maybe subtracting, you can do better than that.” Like he said, Sam’s a moron.) Dean finds an unexpected ally in Jess, who insists that Dean should stick it out and that things will change. Dean’s grateful for her support but tries to explain he doesn’t want anything to change, he’s happy with everything as it is. Sam and Jess temporarily unite in calling him an idiot.
Eventually Dean snaps, loses his temper and declares he’s not going anywhere and can’t Sam just be happy for him. Sam gives him the big hurt puppy eyes until Dean relents and calls him a gigantic moron and things settle down again. Dean would almost go as far as to say things are good.
And now Michael’s made Cas cry again.
Dean really is going to kill him this time.
“Hey Cas,” he says gently, trying to indicate his willingness to talk if Cas wants to.
“Dean,” Cas turns his head towards him, but Dean doubts he can actually see him through the misery, so deep he can’t hide it away anymore, welling up out of his eyes.
There’re a lot of things Dean wants to say but it’s not his place, and anyway it’s not as if he can say anything Cas doesn’t already know. Instead he mutters,
Dean gives up, he doesn’t want to hear it. “Just go home.”
Cas glances down at his hands and wrists, then quietly picks up his briefcase and leaves.
Dean grits his teeth and starts redoing the account Cas was working on. When he’s upset Cas loses his ability to manipulate figures like a human calculator but the stubborn ass refuses to acknowledge it, which means everything he’s done today needs to be reworked. Dean would let him sink but there’s something pathetic about a grown man arguing that two times four equals six.
So today is not a good day and Dean is thoroughly grumpy by the time five o’clock rolls around and he can head for home.
When he walks out into the parking lot, Michael, Rafe, and four accountant clones are hanging around waiting to ambush him. Dean has a weird flashback to high school except this time around the jocks are all wearing hand tailored suits and if he punches any of them he just knows they’ll call the cops on him.
“And he here is,” caws Michael, swaggering over to him. He’s a little unsteady on his feet and Dean is surprised to realize that Michael Messinger is drunk, then he gets a look at Michael’s wild eyes and amends that to, very, very drunk.
“My husband’s faithful little lapdog.”
Dean stuffs down every little bit of himself to try and stop the words that are coming from snagging and catching against his raw spots.
“You’re pathetic, you know that? Desperate for a few crumb’s from the master’s table. Performing tricks in the hope of a pat on the head. Pathetic.”
Dean ducks his head and sets his chin, and walks straight through the little gang of Messingers. He’s almost made it to his car when Michael grabs his arm and hauls him back.
“Aw poor Deano, did you think we didn’t know. Did you think we weren’t laughing at the way you pant after him like a bitch in heat? White-trash like you giving himself airs. Funniest thing I’ve seen in years.”
They’re all laughing now, like pack of hyenas. Dean yanks his arm away from Michael and lunges for the safety of his baby.
“As if Castiel would ever fall so low as to touch you.”
Dean pivots on the balls of his feet and slams his fist into Michael’s jaw.
Michael staggers back, clutching his mouth. He stares wide-eyed as if he can’t believe Dean just did that. Dean can’t believe he just did that. He didn’t mean to but sound of that smarmy voice saying Cas’ name drove all the sense from his head.
“Winchester,” snarls Rafe, jumping in when Michael continues to just stare at Dean. “You’re fired.”
“Am I supposed to care?” Dean growls back, because he can’t take another day of watching Cas be sad because of Michael.
“I’m calling the police,” says Michael, sounding so lost Dean has to wonder if he’s actually the first person to ever get tired of his shit and belt him one, “I’ll have you arrested for this.”
“Go right ahead, you gutless son of a bitch. Just man the fuck up and stop making Cas cry.”
“Like I need your advice on how to treat my husband.”
“You need somebody’s advice, or Cas is going to get stolen right out from under your nose.”
Michael gurgles like he’s being strangled before he spits out, “It won’t be a redneck hick with dirt still under his fingernails.”
Dean’s been insulted by better. He shoves past a Messinger clone and dives into his baby. He guns the engine and watches vaguely amused as they all scatter like he’s about to mow them down. They really do think he’s nothing but an idiot bar-brawler. Then he wonders if that’s what Cas thinks of him, all amusement flees and he shivers.
He goes back to his little shoebox and has a long hot shower to wash the last day, last year, away. He switches abruptly to cold water when he realizes his scrubbing under his fingernails in a way he hasn’t needed to since he quit working at the garage. Sometimes Dean really is an idiot.
Sacked out on the couch in tracksuit pants and an old t-shirt zoning out over some mindless detective show, he hears a knock on his door. It’s too light to be the cops, he’s not lucky enough for it to be Sam, which means it’s a Messinger. He is really not in the mood to deal with that fucked-up family.
He opens the door wondering if it’s going to be a clone, or possibly Gabriel, and his jaw drops in surprise when it turns out to be Cas.
Cas with two duffle bags and a suitcase.
“What the hell?” demands Dean.
“It is something of a long story. May I come in?”
“Sure, sure.” Numbly Dean steps aside and motions Cas in. Cas drops his bags just inside the door, staggers to the coach and collapses like a felled tree. Looks like it’s lucky Dean paid the extra for a sofa bed, although he was think about putting Sam up at the time. “You want, um, coffee or something.”
“Whiskey,” Cas growls his demand, then, compulsively polite, adds, “please, if you have any.”
Dean laughs. God, he loves Cas. He fetches the whiskey, two tumblers and pours them each a couple of shots.
“Here. Sorry it isn’t the fancy stuff you drink.”
Cas throws back the whiskey, necks it all in two swallows, and slams the glass back down on Dean’s coffee table.
“Oooh-kay.” Dean cautiously pours another smaller measure and is relieved when Cas just picks up the glass, and turns it carefully round and round as he stares into the amber liquid. He sits down on the sofa beside Cas, there isn’t anywhere else to sit, and angles himself so he’s mostly facing Cas. He takes a sip of his own whiskey. “So, long story?”
Cas takes a deep breath, “First I must apologize to you.”
“I what, no seriously Cas, you don’t have to.”
“Raphael, Melchior, Zachariah, Nayail, Gabriel, and Anna, have all called me.”
It’s mentally jarring that the Messingers actually need to use phones. They always seems to know what’s going on with one another immediately, Dean would find telepathy, or maybe a hive mind much easier to believe than something mundane like a cell phone. Mind you, if six of them have called Cas since he left work, that practically is a hive mind.
“I know about Michael confronting you, about what he said, and I am deeply sorry for it.”
“Nah, don’t worry about it,” Dean waves one hand in dismissal, “I know better than to let a dick like that get to me.”
“But he was wrong,” pleads Cas, looking pained, like Michael insulting Dean would be just fine as long as he’d told the truth. Though now that Dean considers the matter, Cas probably does think that, Cas has all the tact of an absent-minded rhinoceros.
“Like I said, don’t worry about it. Besides Rafe fired me, which you know is going to be way more annoying in the long run.”
“I know. I am sorry. I remonstrated with Michael most strongly.”
“Uh huh, and how’d that go for you?”
“Michael fired me.”
“What! He can’t do that.”
“Yes he can. Michael is the senior partner at Messinger & Messinger.”
“Right, but you’re his husband.”
“Not as such, no.” Cas looks down at his knees.
“What do you mean not as such? You did the whole shebang in the Bahamas or somewhere.” Dean’s seen the pictures. Michael and Cas on a white sandy beach, Cas looking miserably out of place but deliriously happy.
“The Cayman Islands. However Michael has now told me that we were not in fact legally married. And since he did not wish to have a religious ceremony, we are not married in either the eyes of the church, or the eyes of the state.”
“But why would he do that?” Dean is completely non-plussed. He’s always assumed that deep in his dickish heart Michael really did love Cas, because how could anybody not.
“Apparently there was some concern that in the event of a split between us the division of assets could be needlessly complicated.”
Dean takes a moment to parse that, then, “He was worried you’d take him to the cleaners! Holy Hell, even Mikey can’t be that stupid.”
“I am uncertain if it was Michael or more senior Messingers who had these concerns. I did not stop to enquire too closely.”
“So you, um, left?”
“You cannot try and keep a marriage together if the marriage does not in fact exist.”
“Oh, but, you and Michael have been together for eight years, marriage or no marriage, that’s got to mean something, Cas.” Dean wants to smack himself in the face. He should not be trying to talk Cas into going back to his stupid, stupid husband.
Cas smiles but his eyes are sad. “I wanted to marry Michael but I would have understood if he preferred not to take that step, we would still have remained together. Instead he lied to me and faked our marriage.”
Dean doesn’t think that’s strictly true, though he doesn’t think Cas realizes that. Cas is so blatantly a ring and marriage person that he has a sneaking sympathy for Michael. Dean would totally fake up a marriage if he thought it would help him keep Cas. Actually no, scratch that, Dean would damn well marry Cas right off bat. Would be so fucking grateful just for the chance. Screw sympathy for Michael, he’s bigger moron than Dean ever imagined.
“I’m sure Michael will come round,” he says as comfortingly as he can manage. “He’d be an idiot not to. He was probably still in a snit from when I pissed him off this afternoon.”
“Why do you believe I would want Michael to ‘come round’?” Cas is doing his head tilt thing again. Dean twists his fingers into the soft material of his t-shirt to stop them wandering over to Cas’ side of the sofa.
“Cas, you took him back, hell you never even left him, after all that fuss last year.”
Cas kind of curls in on himself, “Yes,” he says, voice unsteady, “I can see why you consider me to be foolish.”
“Wait, what? No Cas, that’s not true. You’re not foolish at all.”
“And yet you believe I would choose to stay with someone who demonstrably does not love me, when I could instead go to one who does.”
“Ahh.” Okay, that makes sense. Always easier to move on when you’ve got someone new. No wonder Michael flipped his lid, Dean had come closer to home than he suspected with his jab of Cas finding somebody else.
“Who is it?”
Cas blinks at him.
Dean runs through a quick list of the people Cas spends most of his time with. “Oh no, it’s not Gabriel, is it? Because I really don’t think...” he winces and shuts himself up.
Cas chuckles. “No it’s not Gabriel.
“Okay good. So –”
“Dean, it’s you.”
Dean flicks his head like he’s trying to clear water from his ears. He cannot have heard that right.
“I am sorry if I was presumptuous. And I know I have treated you very badly.” Cas tails off, he’s shriveling where he sits and that just not right. He doesn’t understand why Cas thinks there’s a problem, but he’ll worry about that later. Dean grabs Cas’ bare wrist and shakes it lightly.
“No, no, no. Nothing like that Cas. You and me, we’re golden.”
Cas has a beautiful smile. Then he leans in close and kisses Dean right on his shocked lips. Dean jerks back like it was a slap,
“What the hell?”
Cas looks confused, “Was I too forward?”
“No, I mean yes, I mean what the hell. Cas you can’t just go around kissing people.”
“I am not kissing people, I’m kissing you. And I may be mistaken, but I thought you had loved me for a long time.”
Ow, okay, that stings. Stings like a mother-fucking-sonofabitch. He’d never have thought Cas was the sort to dish out pity fucks. It probably all makes sense in Cas’ stupid, freaky head, “So this is supposed to be what? Some sort of reward?”
Cas smiles like a delighted little boy,
“You could look at it like that. A reward for finally making a real decision. For going after what I want. You are my reward.”
Cas’ big blue eyes get even bigger and bluer as he glows up at Dean. Dean swallows. Cas is looking at him as if he’s the whole world wrapped up in a bow just for him and Dean is finding it hard to string a coherent thought together, let alone a coherent sentence.
“I don’t understand,” he wails, confused past the ability to think.
“I was too forward. I should go.”
“No,” Dean grabs onto Cas’ arm before he can disappear. “Don’t go. Just explain things to me slowly, you know I’m thick.”
“You are not thick. You are highly intelligent. It is my fault, I rushed things. I should have gone to a hotel like I planned, but Michael returned while I was packing my bags and I discovered the reason we tried again last year was no reason at all and somehow I arrived here instead.”
Dean still isn’t certain he understands any of this, but words have never been his friends, he probably won’t understand if Cas talks all night. Instead he leans forward, curls his hand gently around Cas’ neck and pulls him forward for a kiss.
Cas hums happily and kisses him back. For a long moment he relaxes into the soft press of lip on lip and the sensuous glide of Cas’ tongue, then he makes himself wake up and pay attention.
Opening his eyes, he finds Cas’ eyes are also wide open, and fuck, whoever goes on about kissing with your eyes open means you lack feeling doesn’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. All of Cas’ fiery intensity is focused in on Dean, staring right through to his soul. It’s like being at the center of an electrical storm.
In a burning flash of revelation Dean realizes there’s no possible way Cas can be thinking of anyone but him, and he has to pull back a little just to breathe. Cas whimpers and chases after him, peppering his face and jaw with quick frantic kisses.
“Easy, easy,” Dean runs his hands up and down Cas’ arms, “I’m right here, I’m not going anywhere.”
“Good,” snarls Cas, clambering determinedly onto his lap. Dean laughs and flops back on the sofa, pulling Cas down on top of him. Cas comes willingly, wriggling until he’s comfortable, then he’s kissing Dean again, through and slow with no intention of stopping anytime soon.
Dean has no idea how he got so lucky, but he’s not letting go now.