The clump of Dean’s work boots against smooth hardwood floors echoes through the mostly empty spaces as he explores his new home. Cain had told him the place was furnished when he’d offered to let Dean rent it, but he’d neglected to mention that only meant a dining table and chairs, a futon in the living room, and a creaky bed in the master bedroom.
He doesn’t mind though. He doesn’t need more than that, although he does think it might be a good idea to get a bed for the spare room for when Sammy visits. He has time to get that done though since Sam just started the semester and won’t be coming around for a while.
The house’s main floor is a huge open layout design with only a few pillars interspersed through the room, holding up the vaulted ceiling. The kitchen takes up the entire Northern wall except for where the staircase is tucked into the corner, leading to the second floor. Under the staircase is a door leading to a small laundry room that was actually built onto the outside of the house. The South side of the space has a fireplace which is clean, but shows the black marks of past fires. Dean’s glad for it since the beach house is in Washington, and the area isn’t anywhere near as warm as the beaches near where Sam’s living in Stanford.
The lack of furniture makes the room feel colder than it probably is, but Dean shivers and makes a mental note to get himself some firewood soon.
Bracing his hands on his hips, he stops in front of the Western wall of the house and admires the view. The wall is mostly made of windows, and there are two glass and wood doors that open onto a huge wooden deck porch, where Dean sees a set of beach chairs.
Ah good. There’s more furniture than he thought.
He opens the doors and steps outside into the fading light of the evening. A cool breeze rises up from the sea, ruffling his hair and tugging at the loose ends of his flannel shirt. He inhales, taking in the salty tang in the air, then pulls out a brand new pack of cigarettes. He smacks it several times against his palm to pack it, rips off the plastic and pulls a cancer stick out. He holds it between his lips as he digs for his lighter.
“Can’t have too much clean air,” he mutters after he takes his first drag of thick smoke. It wouldn’t do to spoil himself, after all.
He snorts at his own joke since this whole house is one huge treat for himself. A shitty one room apartment would have been perfectly fine for his needs, even if it would be a little cramped during Sam’s visits. But Cain had offered him a great deal on this beach house when he agreed to move here for a job, and it is worth the extra long commute to work every day. A nice place in his price range, and a little extra time to drive his Baby every day? No brainer. He’d signed up.
Cain’s warning about strange neighbors lingers in Dean’s mind. He’s pretty sure it must have been a joke, because there aren’t any other houses within sight. At least not from where he’s standing, and he certainly couldn’t see them on the drive in.
Thinking he might see other houses from a different angle, Dean takes the four steps from the deck porch down to an actual pier that goes a fair distance out across sandy beach and ends above the sea. His footsteps don’t seem as loud on the wooden surface as they did inside the house, probably because there are no walls capturing the sound and bouncing it back to him.
He stops at the end of the pier and looks out over the sea instead of back toward land where there might be other houses visible through the trees. The sun is just sinking below the horizon and he waits, hoping for a glimpse of the elusive Green Flash he’s heard of but never experienced.
He’s not disappointed a few minutes later when it doesn’t happen though. The view is beautiful anyway, and he’ll have plenty of chances to see it in the future.
When he finishes his cigarette he almost tosses the filter into the water, but stops at the last moment. He lifts his foot and knocks the lingering cherry off on the sole of his boot, and tucks the filter in his pocket to be disposed of in the trash. As he turns to head back in the house, he sees a flash of something pale out of the corner of his eye.
Instinct has his head whipping around and he squints against the gathering gloom. A fair distance away he sees a man treading water. Dean can’t make out his features from that distance, but he can tell the man is watching him. The hair stands up on the back of his neck, and Dean wonders if this is one of the weird neighbors Cain warned him about.
Well if he is, then Dean might as well make the effort to make some kind of peaceful gesture. No need to be rude and cause issues with the guy. So he raises his hand, waving two fingers in a casual half-wave-half-salute.
The man tilts his head, as if he’s curious or doesn’t understand the gesture. At first Dean doesn’t think the man is going to acknowledge him, but after a long moment the man raises one of his hands out of the water and mimics the gesture.
Dean smiles, nods a goodbye and then retreats into the house. He can’t see lights from any other houses through the trees along the beach, and there aren’t any other piers going out into the water so he has no idea where the guy lives, but at least he knows there’s someone out there and that Cain wasn’t just pulling his leg.
Inside, Dean makes his way upstairs. In his room, he runs a hand over his guitar case, but decides he’s not in the mood to play. Instead he digs through his duffel bag for a pair of sweats to sleep in while he makes a mental note that he’s going to need to get a dresser in the room eventually. And maybe a tv, he thinks as he settles into bed with his laptop.
At least the mattress is comfortable and the house has internet.
He surfs Netflix, but doesn’t find anything to catch his interest before he falls asleep with the laptop open on the mattress beside him.
After several weeks of exploring the area, Dean never does find any other houses along the beach. The area is a small cove, and there isn’t much space for more houses along the beach, but he can’t believe that he has the magical area all to himself. Especially since he catches a glimpse of a man out swimming through the waves on more than one occasion. Never close enough for Dean to get an idea of what he looks like though. All he can see from a distance is that the man has dark sunkissed skin, and hair that could be either dark brown or black.
The man always returns Dean’s waves, but never comes closer to the beach.
It’s over a month before he finally gets a better look at the guy. It’s Dean’s day off, and he’s walking along the beach. He has a cigarette in his mouth, but hasn’t lit it yet. His body is sending signals, begging for nicotine, but it seems disrespectful to light up in the raw beauty of nature so he keeps his lighter clasped tight in his palm. Maybe he’ll quit eventually, but for now the cigarette between his lips and the metal in his hand are a comfort.
In the distance he sees a rocky outcrop, and he makes his way toward it. A huge tree has fallen down over the rocks, but Dean can’t tell how long it’s been there. The pine needles are long gone, along with the tree’s bark, so he assumes it’s been a while. It would be a good place to gather firewood if it weren’t half-submerged in the water. He could always chop off some branches and bring them home. Put them somewhere dry and-
His speculation cuts off when a man’s head comes into view beyond some of the rocks. Somehow he can tell, even though this is the closest he’s ever been, that it’s the swimmer.
Dean’s steps quicken. He’s keen to talk to the man, since their little non-verbal greetings leave him intensely curious.
The sand muffles his footsteps, but the man hears him approaching. His head snaps up, and his eyes zero in on Dean.
He’s close enough that Dean can not only make out his features, which are pretty damn good looking with a strong jaw covered in stubble and sharp cheekbones, but Dean can also see that his eyes are blue. Not blue like the ocean under the brightness of a clear day, but blue like the choppy waves during a storm. Dark, edged with the grey of foam near the pupils.
Those eyes widen with surprise, and instantly narrow with threat, and Dean stops. He holds up both hands, palm out. “Hey, uh… didn’t mean to surprise you there. Sorry.”
The man does not look reassured. He shifts, ducking behind the rock until Dean can just barely see his eyes over it.
Okay, weird. Dean drops his hands and takes half a step back, hoping to show the man that he means no harm. “I think I’ve seen you around,” he says with his most charming grin. He gestures out to the ocean. “You sure do like to swim out pretty far. Seems kind of dangerous.”
“I’m Dean. I’m renting the beach house from Cain. Do you know him?”
Dean thinks the man’s expression shifts slightly. More curious than suspicious. But he still doesn’t say anything. He sighs at himself and gives up. Apparently a friendly wave is all he’s ever going to get out of the guy.
“Hey look, I’m not trying to invade your space or anything.” He hooks a thumb over his shoulder in the direction he came from. “So I’m just gonna get out of your hair. See you around.”
He takes another step back, and then another. Just as he’s about to turn around, the man sits up a little, revealing his face and the curve of his bare shoulders. One hand comes up from behind the rock, and he gives Dean a two finger wave.
Dean grins and returns the gesture. Maybe the guy is just shy. He can deal with that. “See ya around,” he calls before turning away and following his own footprints back toward his house.
The itch between his shoulderblades makes him think the guy is watching him, but when Dean turns back to look, the man is gone. Dean huffs and shrugs his shoulders. Weird guy.
Hot though. Definitely hot.
On a particularly warm day, Dean decides he’s going to take advantage of the beautiful weather. He carries a cooler full of beer out to the end of the pier and sits on the edge. He pulls off his t-shirt, and sits down on the wood with his feet dangling over the side. Just the bottoms of his feet dip into the water, but it’s enough to keep him cool under the hot sun.
He curls his t-shirt up and lays back on the pier, tucking the cloth under his neck as a makeshift pillow. He closes his eyes against the sunlight and basks in its warmth, relaxing to the music of the wind and the waves and letting the clean scent of the ocean sweep through him. He hasn’t had a cigarette for three days, and though his fingers twitch in the direction of his pockets he doesn’t follow through on the desire.
A splash catches his attention, and he turns his head toward the direction it came from. Startled, he sits up, jerking away from where the weird guy is hanging from the edge of the pier. Only his fingertips and his chin hooked over the edge of the wood seem to be holding him out of the water.
Dean realizes he’s clutching his chest like a fairytale damsel and quickly drops it to his side. “Uh, hey there. You startled me.”
A slow blink is the man’s only response.
“So…” Dean grasps for something to say. “Nice day, huh?”
The man tilts his head again, rocking his chin against the wood he’s braced on.
Dean tries again. “I’m assuming you must live around here, but I’ve never seen any other houses along the beach.”
He doesn’t expect an answer, so he nearly jumps when the man opens his mouth to speak. “My home is not on the beach.”
The man’s pronunciation is strange, like the words are not in his native tongue. His voice is low and rough, like rocky sand. It sends a shiver down Dean’s spine, and it takes him a moment to react to the man’s words instead of his voice. “Oh yeah? Is it close by?”
The man makes a movement that looks like a shrug.
Okay then. Not a chatty guy.
Dean shifts, pulling one leg up onto the pier and curling it under himself so that he’s facing the guy directly. He gestures at the cooler at his side. “Do you want a beer?”
When he gets another curious head tilt, Dean wonders if the guy might live under a rock or something. He reaches for the cooler anyway, pulling a bottle out of the ice. He twists off the top and holds it out to the guy. “It’s nothing fancy, but it’s cold.”
The man eyes the bottle curiously, then pulls himself up until he’s braced on a forearm, revealing that he’s shirtless. A necklace made of stones and seashells strung together with some kind of braided material hangs around his neck. One of the shells drips water down onto his skin, and Dean tries not to watch the droplet as it snakes down toward a dusky nipple. The man reaches out and gingerly takes the bottle from Dean. He sniffs it and wrinkles his nose, and casts an incredulous look at Dean.
Dean laughs. “Don’t tell me you’re a beer snob.”
The man shakes his head. He presses the edge of the bottle to his lips and tilts it up. Dean holds his breath, more interested in the way the guy’s bottom lip curves around the glass than he should be, but damn the guy is downright sexy.
After a small sip, Cas makes a sour face and holds the bottle out for Dean to take. Once his hand is free, he wipes the back of it across his lips, and then sticks out his tongue and scrapes his fingers over it as if he’s trying to clean sand out of his mouth.
Dean laughs again, holding a hand over his stomach. He ignores the guy’s indignant glare. “Dude,” he gasps out between guffaws. “Is that your first beer? If you’re not a drinker, you could have just said no thank you.”
The guy gives Dean a disgruntled side-eye, but after a moment the barest hint of a smile curves his lips. “No, thank you.”
Dean chuckles. “You’re a weird dude, you know that?”
“You are also very strange,” the man says, but his smile only seems to widen.
They stare at each other for a long moment. Far past the acceptable norm, and Dean feels his cheeks flush when he realizes it. He glances away, but his eyes are immediately drawn back to the stranger. “What’s your name?”
Between the gravel in the man’s voice, and the way his tongue seems to curve around the syllables, Dean’s not terribly surprised when he starts to get a little bit of a chubby. He wonders if it would be rude to ask if Castiel is into guys or not, but figures he’d better reign it in for a while. Castiel seems wary of him, and Dean wants to clear that up before he starts in with any level of flirting. “Castiel? That’s an interesting name. Can’t say I’ve heard it before. That must have made role call in school easy. I always hated it when I ended up in a class with another ‘Dean’.”
Castiel tilts his head again, his brow furrowing in confusion. He remains silent, as if waiting for clues as to how he should respond.
Dean clears his throat. “Uh, you want to come up here on the dock? Might be more comfortable than hanging from it like that.”
“No,” Castiel responds. “Thank you.”
And then he’s slipping back down in the water. There’s a splash as he disappears, and Dean scrambles to the edge of the pier to look over the edge. The water is usually clear enough to see the bottom, but now it is dark and murky and he can’t see a thing. Dean’s head comes up, and he scans the area around him.
He scrambles to his feet, and looks around, turning in every direction to try and see where Castiel went. “Castiel?” He calls. When there’s no answer, he cups his hands around his mouth and tries again, louder. “Castiel?”
There’s a splash, and he spins around. Far out in the cove, Castiel is treading water. He lifts a dripping hand, and gives Dean his standard two-fingered wave before sinking back under the waves.
Dean waits for a long time, but Castiel never resurfaces.
What the hell?
It’s nearly the end of the day before Dean works up the courage to talk to Cain. He finishes clamping the table together that he’d spent the day building, careful that everything is positioned just right so the glue can dry. Then he walks across the shop and waits for Can to finish with the table saw so he can be heard.
“So, I met Castiel.”
Cain looks up, blinking through the sawdust clinging to his protective goggles. He smiles, and straightens up to his full height. “He’s introduced himself to you? That’s excellent. He’s very shy.”
Dean rubs at the glue drying on his fingers, picking it away like layers of dry skin. “Yeah, I kinda got that impression. So he’s the weird neighbor you warned me about?”
“He’s not the only one. But he’s the one that you’ll probably see the most. He’s very curious about us.”
That makes no sense at all. “Curious about us? Who is us? What do you mean?”
Cain only shakes his head, his expression fond. “You’ll see.”
Ooookay. Dean’s tempted to push the matter further, but Cain whips off his goggles and heads for the back of the shop, talking about designs for a king sized bed that was special ordered earlier that day. He wants Dean to look over the designs so he can get to work on it as soon as possible. Dean allows the change of subject, and falls easily into the creative mindset that Cain claims he was hired for.
With plans for the project swirling around in his head, he forgets about the conversation about Castiel until he’s leaving the shop. He’s stopped as he’s walking out by Cain’s voice calling him back.
Cain is usually a stern man, but there’s a kindness about him that has always made Dean feel like they have a special relationship. A mentor/student bond that is just as important to him as the relationship with his own father. Maybe more so, because Dean’s relationship with his alcoholic father has been strained for most of his life.
But now, that kindness seems to be gone. His face is a hard mask that makes Dean’s stomach curl in on itself. “Castiel is good, Dean. Don’t forget that. Don’t hurt him.”
What the hell? Dean wants to ask questions, but Cain turns away. The set of his shoulders tells Dean the discussion is over for now. So Dean leaves the shop and thinks about the conversation all the way home.
It’s been almost a week since Dean has seen Castiel, and even though most of their interactions have been a waved greeting over long distances, Dean kind of misses him. Which is silly. He doesn’t know the guy. The solitude of the beach house must be getting to him.
It’s always so quiet. Even with the new tv he purchased for himself turned on, or with the radio playing music, the place feels quiet. Empty.
Maybe he should build some furniture to fill the empty spaces. Something to soak up the sounds so every little noise doesn’t echo and remind him of how alone he is in the house.
For now though, he decides that a little music is in order.
The acoustics inside the house are all wrong, so he takes his guitar outside. At first he plans on sitting in one of the chairs on the back porch, but his feet take him down the steps and out to the end of the pier. He settles down on the end, letting his feet dangle in the water, and starts plucking out random tunes.
Eventually, he begins to sing. Never full songs. Just a few chords and lyrics from whatever song strikes his fancy.
A splash startles him, making him pluck a sour chord, and he turns to find Castiel hanging from the edge of the pier again. Dean’s pounding heartbeat doesn’t slow, although he knows with a certainty that he can’t explain that Castiel is not a threat to him. Maybe it’s Cain’s words that Castiel is good, or maybe it’s the small gentle smile curving Castiel’s lips, or maybe he’s just off his rocker. No matter the reason, he knows he doesn’t fear Castiel. So the only other reason for his heart to keep pounding is from excitement.
Dean takes in the strength of Castiel’s shoulders and arms. The gold of his skin, and the way the sunlight carves lighter glints out of Castiel’s dark brown hair. Yeah, definitely excitement.
Cas squints at the shortening of his name, but his smile widens slightly, showing just a hint of bone white teeth. “Hello, Dean.” His eyes fall to Dean’s guitar for a moment, before lifting back up. “Are you a siren?”
“A what?” Dean blinks a few times as he tries to understand the question.
“Your voice is lovely. I find myself unable to resist listening to your song.” There is a teasing glint in Castiel’s eyes.
The compliment surprises a huff of laughter out of Dean. “Dude, are you flirting with me?”
Castiel shrugs, but his smile doesn’t dim. His eyes drop back to the guitar. “Will you sing more?”
Warmth pools inside of Dean at the request. “Sure, Cas. Is there anything specific you want to hear?”
The way Castiel stares at him makes him feel stripped bare. Every part of him exposed, and vulnerable. It should be uncomfortable. It should make him want to escape, to run for cover. But Dean finds himself going still, hoping that Castiel will not be startled away by his movements. Hoping that he likes what he sees.
“You,” Castiel says after a moment. “I want to hear you.”
“Alright,” Dean says in barely more than a whisper. He can’t hold Castiel’s gaze any more, so he looks down at his fingers as he begins to pluck the strings.
He finds himself playing a love song. And when that’s over, he plays another. And another.
Dean sings until his fingers ache and his throat is dry, then he stops. He looks over at Castiel who is still hanging from the edge of the pier, his chin propped on his crossed forearms. His eyes are heavy lidded, and his smile is dopey. When he catches Dean’s eye, he smiles so wide and happy that his nose wrinkles.
“Thank you, Dean.”
Dean clears his throat. “You’re welcome.”
He’s about to ask Castiel to come up on the pier again, but his guest yawns and looks out over the cove, and Dean follows his gaze. To Dean’s surprise the sun has gone down, and the stars are starting to twinkle to life above them.
A splash jerks his attention back to where Castiel had been, and he’s not terribly surprised at this point that the man is gone. It seems weird that he’d go back in the water, since it must be really cold now that the sun is down, but Dean has already determined that Castiel isn’t going to fit inside any of Dean’s definitions of normal. Which is cool. Dean likes that about him.
Dean doesn’t see Castiel very often, sometimes not at all for days. But every time he brings his guitar out and sings to the open water, eventually Castiel will show up to listen. Dean isn’t sure how he knows to come, but he plays until he’s no longer alone, and Castiel is hanging from the pier and smiling as Dean plucks out tune after tune.
“You are a siren,” Castiel teases once when asked how he always knows Dean is playing.
It’s not the answer Dean’s looking for, but it makes him feel good anyway.
Sometimes Dean will bring snacks. Nothing too fancy. Sometimes Dean will bring candy. Crackers and cheese. Grapes and sliced apples (yes, he has fruit in his fridge, he just won’t admit it to Sam). The first time he brings soda, Castiel doesn’t trust him that it isn’t beer, but when he finally tries Sprite for the first time, he’s delighted with the bubbles.
Castiel treats everything like it’s a brand new experience. He laughs when the crackers crunch between his teeth, and stares at the crumbs on his fingers in fascination. He moans around apple slices. He eyes candybars like he’s not sure what to do with them until he watches Dean unwrap one and take a bite.
The sound Castiel made when he bit into a Butterfinger for the first time made Dean lift one knee up to block his boner from view.
Castiel’s weird hangups about food confuse Dean, but he figures the guy must not be from America. He’s mostly silent, but when he does speak his words are strangely accented. It almost sounds Russian, but Dean is no linguist so he doesn’t know for sure.
The few times Dean brings a pack of cigarettes out with him, he never bothers to offer one to Castiel. He can tell by the way Castiel’s nose wrinkles with disdain that the offer would be turned down. But eventually it becomes a non-issue since Dean finds himself smoking less and less as he spends more and more time with living in the beach house. Sam would be so proud.
Through all their little visits Castiel never comes up out of the water, no matter how often Dean asks. He even refuses to take snacks as bribery, and Dean eventually gives in and shares them because he doesn’t really want to deprive Castiel of the treats.
Sometimes after a song or two, Dean will just pluck at the guitar strings and talk about his day. Castiel listens quietly, occasionally murmuring an agreement to a rhetorical question or laughing along when Dean tells a funny story.
Sometimes Dean isn’t sure Castiel follows everything he’s talking about, but he figures it’s probably a language barrier. He wonders if he’s being selfish, always chatting Castiel’s ear off, but his new friend doesn’t seem to mind in the least.
One day, before Dean has even started playing his guitar, he hears the splash announcing Castel’s presence. He turns to grin at his friend. “Heya, Cas! Were you waiting for me?”
Castiel’s smile is shy. “Yes.”
Dean laughs. “I guess you missed me.”
A pretty flush creeps over Castiel’s cheeks, which makes Dean’s heart thump eagerly. He’s tried to keep the flirting to a minimum, but sometimes he can’t help himself. And the reward is always worth it.
“I brought something for you,” Castiel says in lieu of addressing Dean’s flirtation. He holds out a hand, and uncurls his fingers. In his palm is a woven bracelet about an inch wide. “I made it.”
Dean’s breath catches at the unexpected gift. He takes the bracelet, feeling his own face go dark and warm when his fingers brush Castiel’s palm.
The bracelet appears to be woven from dried plants of some kind. And there is tiny sea shell, the kind that looks like a miniature conch, bound into the weave. The shell is creamy white with pink around the delicate edges. Dean touches the tiny shell, testing its texture under the the pad of his finger.
“Thank you, Cas,” he says softly.
He turns it around in his hands to see how to fasten the bracelet on, and sees that a rock with a hole drilled through the center has been tied to one end, and there’s a loop in the other, like a makeshift button. He wraps the bracelet around his wrist, and pushes the bead through the loop. It fastens easily, and hangs loose enough that it doesn’t feel uncomfortable, but tight enough that it doesn’t feel like it will fall off.
Castiel is beaming at him when he looks up. There’s definitely pride in his work, but there’s also something soft in his eyes. Something not unlike affection.
Dean likes it.
“I wish I had something to give you,” Dean murmurs.
Castiel’s eyes widen, and his lips for a small o of surprise. “Really?”
“Yeah, but I don’t know what you’d like.”
“You sing for me.”
Dean laughs and shakes his head. “That’s not a gift, Cas.”
It’s clear that Castiel doesn’t agree, but he presses his lips together and stares at Dean in contemplation. After a moment he reaches out and tugs at the open flap of Dean’s flannel shirt. The air is getting chillier as autumn approaches, and Dean has been wearing layers when he sits on the pier to guard him from the cool wind from the ocean.
“May I have one of these?”
Dean looks down and sees that Castiel is fingering one of the buttons on his shirt. It’s an odd request, but simple enough to fulfill. He takes the button from Castiel’s fingers, and twists it until it pops free of the shirt. Then he does the same to two more. It’s not like he buttons it up often, and he can always replace them later if he needs to.
He holds out his hand, three plain white plastic buttons on display in his palm.
Castiel takes them as if they are the most delicate treasures. And a few days later, when Dean sees him again, the buttons are wound into a necklace with stone beads and seashells, hanging from Castiel’s neck.
“How are you and Castiel getting along?” Cain asks one day, out of the blue.
Dean shuts off the table saw and lifts his safety goggles up on his head. He’s probably grinning like an idiot, but he can’t help smiling whenever he thinks of his new friend.
“Great,” he answers. “He’s a cool guy. Kinda weird, but cool.”
Cain chuckles. “That’s good.”
Now that the subject is opened, Dean finds himself talking about Castiel. About the jewelry he makes, and the way he’s always excited about apples, and he’s always around when Dean needs someone to talk to.
“It’s weird though,” Dean says as he runs his fingers through a pile of sawdust. “He never talks about himself. He avoids my questions. And he never comes out of the water. What’s up with that?”
Cain only shakes his head, and smiles. There’s obviously something he knows that he’s not going to talk to Dean about. “You’ll see eventually.”
Dean decides a few days later that he’s tired of waiting for “eventually” to happen. He’s going to ask Castiel what’s up the next time he sees him.
That night he goes out to the end of the pier. He settles down on the edge and hangs his bare feet down to the water. He plucks a few notes on the strings to make sure they’re in tune, and is just about to start a song when an unfamiliar voice brings his head snapping up.
“Ah, no wonder my little brother is so interested in you.”
Dean jerks around to see a stranger in Castiel’s usual place. The man has golden hair, which hangs down nearly to his shoulders and is dripping water all over his skin. His eyes are a buttery shade of brown, and twinkle with amusement over Dean’s startlement. “Who the fuck are you?”
“You can call me Gabriel.” He speaks with the same strange accent as Castiel. They don’t look anything like each other, despite the shared dialect and the fact that he referred to Castiel as his brother. “I’m here to see why Cassie has been so distracted lately. And what do I find? A pretty man who makes music. Cassie always had a thing for sirens.”
Dean blinks. His mouth opens and closes a few times as he tries to process Gabriel’s words and form a response.
“Hm… now you look more like a fish.” Gabriel grins. His teeth had looked normal at first, but now they look sharp as needles. His tongue flicks out over them, somehow not getting cut on the sharp tips. “I like fish. They’re delicious.”
What the fuck?
Gabriel winks and then disappears under the edge of the pier. Dean leans toward the edge, trying to see where he went. That’s when something slick and flexible wraps around his ankle and tugs. Dean yelps in surprise, and then the thing around his ankle jerks harder and he’s being pulled off the pier into the water.
His head hits the edge just before the waves close over him, sending jagged spikes of pain through his head, neck, and shoulders. His last thought before he loses consciousness is for his guitar, and the damage it will take from the sea water.
Dean wakes to the feel of warm lips against his, and burning pain in his lungs. His stomach clenches, his lungs spasm, and then the acid destroying his lungs comes up. He coughs, and he retches, and gentle hands turn him on his side so he doesn’t breathe the water back in.
It’s a long time before his world is anything more than pain and the struggle to suck in air between violent coughing and vomiting.
Pain wracks his chest and throat and sinuses, and his body feels like it has been beaten with a stick. He’s so cold he can’t feel his hands or his feet, and the only reason he knows he’s shivering is because he can feel how violently his body is shaking against the arms holding him. He blinks and looks up to find Castiel staring down at him, eyes wide and terrified.
“Dean,” Castiel sighs in relief. He leans his head down until his forehead bumps against Dean’s. His fingers trace tiny designs on Dean’s cheeks. “I am so sorry. My brother likes to play tricks, but he doesn’t care how dangerous they can be.”
Golden eyes flash through Dean’s memory. So the dickbag pulled him into the water, huh?
He groans and tries to move. Pain shoots through the back of his skull.
Castiel makes a shushing sound and holds him closer, forcing him to be still. Dean relaxes against him, soaking in his body heat. Castiel wraps tighter around him.
Around his shoulders, his torso, his legs… Dean frowns. Something about that feels wrong, but he’s so comfortable that he can’t focus on the thought.
“Don’t fall asleep, Dean,” Castiel admonishes him with a tiny squeeze. “You’re still in danger. You hit your head, and there may be more water in your lungs. You need help.”
With Castiel’s hands guiding him, Dean moves to a sitting position. The world tilts and he cups his face in his hands, squeezing at his temples until the motion stills.
When he opens his eyes, the first thing he sees are dark blue tentacles wrapped around his waist and legs. With a shout, he tries to jerk away, but they hold him fast.
“Dean, please! You’ll hurt yourself!”
It takes a moment for Castiel’s words to break through Dean’s confusion and growing panic. His eyes snap to Castiel’s face for a moment, and he doesn’t understand how Castiel can’t see that a giant octopus seems to have come out of the ocean with them, and it’s wrapped around him, and- His eyes fall back to the appendages holding him still, and they widen as they follow the course of the tentacles until they merge into the dark skin of Castiel’s belly.
Dean renews his struggles, doing his best to kick and hit and break free. A scream bubbles up in his throat, but it comes out as a ragged cough that has him collapsing back on the sand.
“Get-” he coughs again. His voice is hoarse and weak. “Get away... from me.”
“Monster,” Dean croaks out. “You’re… a monster.”
No wonder Castiel always stayed in the water. No wonder Dean had no idea where his home was. Castiel’s home is in the ocean.
He misses the pain in Castiel’s expression as he let’s go of Dean, first removing his hands, then unwinding his tentacles from Dean’s legs.
Dean wants to gag when he sees the wide suction cups on those tentacles. He’s never been a fan of calamari, but he’s not sure he’ll ever be able to even look at seafood ever again. As soon as he’s free, he starts dragging himself away, half crawling through the sand to get as much distance between them as possible.
He collapses on the beach, retching and coughing again.
“Dean!” Castiel is back at his side, but he only hovers over Dean’s prone form. “Please let me help you.”
He does need help. He needs an ambulance. He probably has a concussion (he briefly hopes that is the reason he sees the lower half of Castiel’s body as tentacles instead of legs), and he’s in danger of secondary drowning. But he doesn’t have the energy to drag himself into his house, even though he can see it’s not too far away. Castiel brought him close to the house’s back porch.
“Get me inside,” Dean chokes out.
Castiel nods. He hooks his hands under Dean’s shoulders, and two of his tentacles around Dean’s stomach, and begins pulling him across the sand toward the stairs that will take them up to the house.
It’s slow going, although Castiel seems to have no problem with the stairs themselves. But he’s breathing hard by the time they’re up on the porch. Moving around on land is probably difficult for him, and Dean suddenly wishes he had the energy to stand up and walk. He hopes that Castiel’s strange body is not damaged by the rough wood of the porch, or the trek through the sand to get there.
Castiel opens the back door of the beach house and pulls Dean inside.
“Stop,” Dean says, then coughs again. “Leave me here. Get me my phone.”
Castiel manages to find it on the kitchen counter where Dean points him to. Dean watches him through a strange dream-like haze as he pushes himself up on his tentacles so he can see over the edge of the counter. Castiel doesn’t know what a phone is, so Dean has to describe it for him. As soon as he finds it, he scrambles back to Dean’s side, his tentacles flowing over the wood with surprising agility. Apparently he moves around on land just fine as long as he’s not dragging a human body along with him.
Dean accepts the phone, and dials 911. It takes the last of his energy to speak with dispatch and give them his address. He wants to hang up and go to sleep as soon as he’s done, but the operator keeps him on the line.
After a few moments, Castiel inches closer. His tentacles reach towards Dean, hesitating for a moment, then wriggling underneath him. Dean wants to flinch away, but he is too weak, and the appendages are soft, protecting him from the hard wood under his back.
Castiel stays like that until he hears the wail of the amulance sirens. He gives Dean one last sorrowful look before he pulls his limbs away, and disappears out the back door. A few minutes later, the paramedics are coming through the front door, and Dean turns himself over to their care.
“Are you certain he’s good?”
Cain doesn’t turn his attention from the road to answer Dean’s question. “Castiel is good, Dean. You can trust him.”
Dean stares out the passenger window of Cain’s beat up old Ford F150, and watches the trees sweep by as they make their way to the beach house. After two days in the hospital, he’s glad to be out, but he’s nervous as fuck about going home. He almost asked Cain if he could stay with him for a little while, until he finds a new place to lease, but the thought of leaving the beach house behind makes his heart twist painfully in his chest.
He’s grown to love that house. But he’s not sure he can handle the neighbors.
But then again, there’s one particular neighbor that he’s grown to care about. As weird as it is that Castiel is some kind of octopus-man hybrid, Dean thinks that he probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the beach house half as much as he does without Castiel’s company.
“Am I really safe out there?”
This time Cain glances at him. “You’re safe. Gabriel is a prankster, but I doubt he truly meant to hurt you. He pulled me into the water the first time I met him, too.”
“You should have told me about them.”
Cain chuckles. “Would you have believed me?”
A smile tugs at Dean’s lips. “No.”
Silence falls between them for the last few miles of the drive. Dean uses the time to prepare himself to see Castiel again. Now that the secret is out, will Castiel still refuse to come out of the water? Will he be angry with Dean for calling him a monster?
He should apologize for that. Cas isn’t human, but calling him a monster was going too far.
That’ll be the first thing he does when he sees Castiel again He’s actually looking forward to it.
Castiel doesn’t come back.
At least not that Dean can see. There are no more glimpses of him swimming out in the cove, and no answer when Dean calls for him.
Dean mourns the loss of his guitar. It wasn’t anything fancy, just an old acoustic he’d managed to scrape up money for when he was a teenager. He can certainly afford something nicer now, but he’d learned to play on that old guitar, and it was his favorite.
But he also misses it because he misses Castiel. After so long of having his friend appear any time he played it, he’s started to associate the press of strings under his fingertips with Castiel’s company. He wonders if Castiel would come back if Dean played for him again.
On his fourth day home, Dean is sitting on the pier wishing he had a pack of cigarettes and enough of a death wish to ignore the doctor’s warning that he was not to smoke, or else. He needs something to keep his hands busy, whether it’s the strings of an instrument, or a cigarette and a lighter.
Or maybe he just needs some company.
He’s not sure why, but he starts to sing. Not very loud because he doesn’t want to set off a coughing fit, but it’s one of Castiel’s favorite songs.
When he finishes the final chorus, he waits, heart in his throat. But he doesn’t see a flash of skin, or hear the splash that usually announces Castiel’s arrival.
Anger boils up in him, and he shoves himself up to his feet. “Fine!” he shouts out at the indifferent water. “Don’t come back! I don’t need you! But tell your asshole brother he owes me for ruining my guitar!”
He spins on a heel and runs back into the house. His lungs are burning from the exertion, and also from holding his emotions in check.
For several days, Dean refuses to go out to the back porch or the pier. But on his first day back to work, he returns home and as he’s crossing the room to the stairs something catches his eye through the window. He changes his course and goes to the back door.
He doesn’t even realize his hand is on the knob until the door is flung wide and he’s striding out. His boots boom loudly against the wood, and he thinks that if Castiel couldn’t hear him calling or singing, he should be able to hear that at least.
At the end of the pier he stops. His guitar is waterlogged, and likely ruined. The strings that aren’t missing are loose or broken. He bends down to pick it up, and notices that there is a huge conch shell next to it.
The shell is the exact same shade of cream and pink as the tiny shell woven into the bracelet that Dean is still wearing. Dean picks it up, and turns it over in his hands several times, running his fingers over the smooth surfaces and the rough edges. He’s seen shells like these turned into horns, and he wonders if Castiel is trying to replace his ruined instrument with something new.
“It’s not quite the same, buddy,” he says as if Castiel is there listening, because who knows? Maybe he is? “But thank you.”
He retrieves the guitar, and carries it inside along with the shell.
Every day he finds a new gift on the pier. A necklace of coral beads in every pastel shade imaginable. A pile of colored stones. A huge clam shell that shimmers with mother of pearl, with three large black pearls nestled inside it. Three long black feathers tied together with braided seaweed and held in place by a black stone bead that weighs them down.
Some gifts are simple, and some are extravagant (he can’t even begin to imagine what the pearls are worth), but each one is beautiful in some way. His favorites though, are the wood carvings.
The carvings are just images etched into branches. One is a branch as large as Dean’s leg, with whales and fish and other creatures of the sea carved into the surface. That one hangs in a place of honor above his bed. The smaller ones end up on a shelf he built just for the trinkets Castiel keeps leaving him.
The jewelry he wears. Not all at once because his collection is growing quickly. But he usually wears a necklace and two or three bracelets at a time. Cain notices each new piece, and smiles his approval, even if he doesn’t say anything about them. Other people Dean sees on a regular basis question him about them, like Becky from the supermarket, and Lisa who works at the bank and invites him to her weekend yoga classes even though he always turns her down.
Jo, whose mother owns The Roadhouse - Dean’s favorite place to hang out when he’s not at work and not at home - teases him about the jewelry constantly, and pesters him about a girlfriend that he’s been hiding from her. Her mother Ellen just wants to know where he gets them, because she’d like a few pretty coral necklaces of her own.
On one of his frequent Skype calls with Sam - who is still pissed at him for not letting him know about his hospital stay - he spends an hour showing his brother each trinket after Sam notices one of the coral necklaces peeking out of the neck of his shirt.
“Wow, that’s some impressive work,” Sam finally says after Dean has shown him the largest of the wood carvings. He leans back and scratches his fingers over his jaw, and his smile is sly. “I think this guy likes you.”
Dean has never really liked talking to Sam about his relationships because his brother will inevitably regress back to twelve years old and break out the K-I-S-S-I-N-G song at some point. But the longer Castiel hides away, the more Dean misses him, and he needs to talk about him to someone. Cain knows about Castiel, but he’s always been somewhat taciturn. And he’s not ready to tell his mentor that he thinks of Cas as something more than just a friend.
“I like him too, Sam,” he admits. “But he’s avoiding me. He thinks I’m mad at him.”
Or even worse, his feelings are hurt. Dean did call him a monster. That’s not exactly the kind of thing you say to a friend without putting a dent in the relationship.
He’s come to terms with Castiel’s otherness. At least he thinks he has. He hasn’t seen Castiel in weeks to test his theory.
“But he still keeps leaving you gifts?” Sam’s nose scrunches up in his confusion. “Have you tried leaving something for him? Something that sends the message that you’re not mad?”
He hasn’t. He’s taken everything that Castiel has given him, but hasn’t really done anything to show his appreciation for the gifts. A smile stretches slowly across his features. “Sam, you’re a genius.”
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
Dean flips him off and slaps the laptop closed. Then he hurries down the stairs, grabs his wallet, keys, and phone, and heads to Cain’s shop. He has an idea.
Wood carving has never been Dean’s specialty, but it is a skill that he’s practiced over the years working for Cain, starting at a shop in Lawrence not too long after he got out of highschool. It takes him a while to create his gift for Castiel, mostly because he’s so picky about the block of wood he eventually uses, and then he agonizes over every little cut. He fusses so much that Cain threatens to toss him in the sea and leave him for the sharks more than once. But Cain smiles and concedes that it’s the best work Dean has ever done when it’s finished.
The sculpture is small enough to fit in both of Dean’s cupped hands. It’s a wooden octopus that shines with several layers of stain and lacquer, its tentacles curled and looped in every direction. The grain of the wood makes the creature look striped and colorful.
Dean leaves it on the end of the pier that night, but he doesn’t retreat inside. Instead he sits on one of the porch chairs and chain smokes while he waits for Castiel to appear. He’s never waited for Cas before, which he realizes in hindsight is stupid, so he has no idea how long it’ll be until he shows up, and his nerves are frazzled.
He promises himself that if Castiel shows up, he’ll quit smoking for good.
The sun has been down for a few hours, and Dean has been watching the stars while he listens for the telltale splash of Castiel’s arrival. It doesn’t occur to him that as a creature born to live in the sea, Castiel can move about without a sound, and that the splash was always purposeful so Dean would know he was there.
Which is why he jumps and drops his cigarette in his lap when Castiel speaks from just a few feet away.
“This is for me?”
Dean curses and slaps at his thighs until he finally knocks the cigarette away. He stomps on the cherry to put it out, then turns a disgruntled glare on his friend. “Jesus, Cas, make some noise.”
Castiel ducks his head, and two of his tentacles curl up around his waist, almost as if he’s hugging himself. “I’m sorry. I did not mean to startle you.”
“It’s alright,” Dean says honestly. “I’m just glad you finally showed up.”
The only light is from the half-moon, but it’s enough to see Castiel turn the sculpture over in his hands. His fingers caress the smooth surfaces, and drag over the suckers on the tentacles. “This is very beautiful.”
Happiness. Yep, that warm feeling in his chest is definitely happiness. “I’m glad you like it,” Dean murmurs. “I made it.”
Castiel’s head pops up and he stares at Dean with wide eyes that look black in the moonlight. “You made this?”
“Yeah. You know I build things for work.”
“You build furniture,” Castiel says, and Dean is pleased that he remembers. “I did not know you also made things just for their beauty.”
“Furniture can be beautiful,” Dean points out.
Castiel smiles. It’s small and tentative, and Dean’s heart thumps painfully in his chest because he’s missed that smile so much. “I wouldn’t know. I don’t see very much furniture.”
Which reminds Dean that Castiel isn’t even partially submerged in the water. “I could show you… unless you need to get back in the water or something?”
“It is not necessary for my kind to be in the water at all times,” Castiel says. “As long as I drink water regularly, I can stay on land for quite a long time.”
Dean has a million questions he wants to ask, but the last thing he wants to do is drive Castiel away with his curiosity. They can talk about those things later. Right now, Dean just wants to spend the evening getting reaquainted with his friend, and doing what he can to ease the tenseness in Castiel’s shoulders. “Do you want to come inside and see some stuff I built? I don’t have a lot, but I’ve got a dresser, and there’s a spare bed that I made for when my brother visits.”
Hope flashes in Castiel’s eyes, and his smile becomes less timid. “Yes, I would like that very much.”
Dean stands and leads the way to the back door which he holds open for Castiel to pass through. He tries not to stare as Castiel’s tentacles carry him smoothly across the porch and into the house, but his curiosity intensifies. Each limb is thick and strong and they don’t look nearly as flimsy and delicate as what he always thought octopus tentacles would look like.
The suckers make small popping sounds against the wood floor, which makes Dean hide a grin behind a hand.
Castiel pauses and turns to look up at Dean, waiting for him to lead the way and Dean let’s the door fall closed. He smiles. “Thank you for inviting me to your home, Dean.”
“I’m glad to have you here, Cas.” He means it. The huge room has always felt so empty, but with Castiel taking up some of the space, it feels more comfortable and far less lonely.
Their friendship changes. Castiel spends more and more time with Dean, to the point where Dean actually starts filling the house with furniture just so they have somewhere comfortable to sit when they hang out.
The futon gets moved upstairs, replaced by a comfortable couch and a papasan chair that Castiel loves to curl up in. Dean builds end tables, and a coffee table, and even sets out a few lamps. He moves some of Castiel’s gifts out onto the fireplace mantle, and hangs a few of the wood carvings on the walls. The wooden octopus sculpture finds a place on an end table next to Castiel’s chair.
“You can take that home with you, Cas.”
“The sea will ruin it.”
“It’s here where I can enjoy it.” Which effectively ends the argument, because if Dean is home, Cas is generally there with him.
He buys a fancy flat screen tv with built in Netflix and introduces Castiel to the joys of binge watching cop dramas. He fills the fridge with fresh fruits and veggies to share with his guest, and Castiel brings fresh fish several nights a week which Dean cooks for their dinner. Castiel thinks cooking fish is odd, but he enjoys the taste. When he gets excited over the existence of sushi, Dean brings him some from a local restaurant. Castiel enjoys it so much that Dean starts watching YouTube videos to learn how to make it fresh.
That’s also when Dean learns that Castiel has two sets of teeth. His human set, and his sharp needle set like the ones Gabriel had flashed at Dean the day he’d pulled him off the pier.
“That’s scary as fuck,” Dean points out.
Castiel grins wider.
Unlike before Dean’s near drowning, now Castiel is not quiet. He talks about his home in the cove, a little cave of rocks near the beach where Dean first saw him up close. His kind mostly live in the ocean, but are also capable of living on the land when needed. They breed more like humans, having no more than a handful of children in their lifetime, and both parents take part in raising them.
“Doesn’t a male octopus die after copulation?” Dean asks. He may have done some Wikipedia searches.
Castiel flicks him with a tentacle. “We’re not the same species, Dean.”
Dean grins and shrugs. “Good to know that I won’t lose you if you decide to settle down and become a daddy.”
The subject makes Castiel blush so hard that his normally dark blue tentacles start rippling with rainbows of color, and Dean doesn’t argue when the subject is immediately changed.
Speaking of Castiel’s tentacles. Dean is starting to enjoy the fuck out of them. They change color with his mood, and sometimes change to blend with whatever blanket he’s snuggled up in. The tips flick like cat tails, signally his irritation or his amusement even if the color doesn’t change.
They’re more like hands than legs, and Castiel is definitely a hand talker. He’s also touchy-feely. At first, Castiel seemed nervous around Dean, still scared that Dean doesn’t trust him anymore even after half a dozen apologies to each other. But eventually he starts to relax, and with the relaxation, he began to reach out and touch.
Castiel’s tentacles feel just as smooth as the rest of his skin, although they are not callused like his fingers. The suckers will sometimes gently massage his arm while Castiel animatedly tells a tale of a shark hunt with his brother. Sometimes the tentacle will wrap around his wrist in a loose hold while they watch a movie together.
One night they sit together on the couch to watch a scary movie, some 80’s movie called Leviathan, which scares the hell out of Castiel. Dean’s attention is too focused on the way Castiel starts wrapping tentacles around him to really pay attention to the movie, though. By the end, Castiel practically has him wrapped up like a cocoon.
It should freak him out, but he likes it. It’s like full body cuddling. He does his best to return the gesture, wrapping one arm around Castiel’s shoulders and another around his waist. When the movie ends, Castiel starts in surprise when he realizes how close they’ve gotten, and Dean reluctantly lets him go when he moves away on a ripple of squirming tentacles.
Castiel sticks to his own chair for a while after that, but Dean eventually lures him back for a viewing of The Abyss. And this time when Castiel tries to pull away at the end, Dean tightens his hold, silently willing Castiel to stay.
Blue eyes regard him for a long silent moment, but eventually Castiel’s lips tilt up in a tiny smile and he cuddles close again. A ripple goes through his tentacles which feels a little bit like a hug, and a little bit like a massage, and Dean thinks it’s a whole lot of awesome.
They cuddle a lot after that.
They spend the last remaining weeks of autumn, and the entirety of winter like that. Dean makes a point of still going out once in a while just to maintain his friendships, but he’s always eager to get home to spend time with Castiel. It bums him out that he can’t introduce him to his friends, and that he has to pretend there’s no one special in his life, but that small sliver of unhappiness dissolves immediately as soon as he’s home and opening the back door for Castiel to join him.
Eventually, as spring is beginning, Dean does introduce Castiel to Sam. The beauty of Skype is that Castiel can hide his tentacles from the video camera.
It warms Dean’s heart when Sam and Castiel hit it off. And when Castiel asks Dean to bring him some books that Sam suggests he reads, it’s a no brainer to get them for him. He ends up adding a bookshelf to the living room to hold them all.
“Where did you learn to read, anyway?” Dean asks as he makes delicate slices of salmon for nigiri. “I wouldn’t think books would work out for a water creature.”
“Cain taught me when I was a youngling,” Castiel explains. He’s at the bookshelf, running his fingers over the bindings while he decides which one he’d like to read next.
Sometimes they invite Cain to dinner, and it’s nice for both of them to have another friend that Castiel doesn’t have to hide his nature from. Dean hopes that when Sam comes to stay for summer vacation that he’s going to be understanding about the tentacle thing. His brother’s pretty cool though, so he has a feeling it’ll all work out.
Eventually even Gabriel joins them on some evenings. Dean’s not sure he’ll ever truly enjoy Gabriel’s company, but he does enjoy the way Castiel lights up in the presence of his family. He understands what that feels like after all.
Gradually the empty space begins to look lived in. And it begins to truly feel like a home.
Early in the spring Dean walks outside on a day that’s finally warm enough for him to sit at the end of the pier and dangle his feet in the water. It’s too cold for him to leave them in the water for long, but Castiel has no problem with the chilly temperatures. He dives in and splashes about, playfully flicking water at Dean with fingers and tentacles, teasing him for being a weak human that can’t handle the cold.
It’s while Dean is watching Castiel frolic in the waves that it hits him. He’s totally in love with Cas. Like sappy, mushy, wants to declare his undying devotion for the rest of his life like the lead in a low budget rom-com kind of in love.
Well shit. He doesn’t know what to do with that.
He has no idea if Castiel feels anything even remotely the same, and even if he does, what kind of relationship could they have beyond friendship? It’s not like Dean can marry Cas and introduce him around to all his friends as his husband. Castiel’s people go to great lengths to hide their existence most of the time. Cain and Dean are lucky to know that they exist.
And then there’s sex. Dean’s a pretty physical guy, and Castiel is sexy as fuck.
Even, he thinks with slight horror at himself, the tentacles.
He’s obviously watched far too much hentai.
But the thought sticks, and Dean feels panic bubbling up inside him. What the hell is he going to do?
Castiel notices something is wrong, and pops out of the water using Dean’s knees to hold himself up instead of the edge of the pier. “Dean? Are you alright?”
Seeing Castiel bobbing so innocently between Dean’s knees makes him grateful that he’s wearing thick enough jeans to hide the growing bulge in his crotch. But then again, Castiel is right there. If he looks down, he’s bound to notice.
Think of old people having sex! Think of naked clowns! Think of ANYTHING besides Castiel’s proximity to your dick!
Dean pulls his knees up, knocking Castiel loose with the motion. “I’m good, Cas. Just cold. I’m going to head in and start lunch. You going to be out here for a while?”
Castiel watches him with narrowed eyes which means he doesn’t quite believe Dean’s excuse. Fortunately he accepts it, and swims backwards away from the pier. “I’m going to go hunting.”
They say their goodbyes with smiles and waves, and Dean spends the rest of the afternoon agonizing over this new knowledge. It’s almost dark by the time Castiel comes back. He brings a flounder which he’s already cleaned and prepared for Dean to cook, and a small net full of large seashells. Dean had introduced him to paint, and Castiel loves to use it to decorate the shells. Apparently he gifts most of them to others of his kind. The prettiest ones get added to Dean’s growing collection of knick-knacks.
Dean’s had enough time to get himself together, and everything between them is normal while he prepares dinner.
But later, when Castiel eventually leaves for the night as he always does, Dean feels a hollow ache growing in his chest. Maybe if Castiel loved him, he wouldn’t leave every night.
He doesn’t sleep very well after he makes that realization.
It takes a while for Dean to grow a pair and ask Cain for advice, and spring is in full swing by then. The days are still chilly, but growing noticeably warmer. The wind no longer burns Dean’s sinuses with cold, and he and Cas start spending more time outside again.
It’s a seasonably warm day, and Dean is itching to get out of the shop and to get home. But there’s another itch, this one in his brain, that he can no longer ignore.
He waits until the shop is relatively silent, and Cain is helping him set pieces together for gluing that he finally speaks. “I’m in love with Castiel.”
Cain pauses only briefly before testing the fit of a chair leg in the seat it’s going to be attached to. “You don’t sound happy about that. Shouldn’t that be good news?”
“He’s not human.”
“Is that the only thing holding you back?”
Dean would throw up his hands in frustration if they weren’t full of the double legs for a table he’s putting together. “Isn’t that enough?”
There’s a moment of silence while Cain finishes fitting together the last pieces of the chair. It still needs glue, but he looks pleased with the current results. He looks up at Dean as he brushes his hands together, and then turns to the little office built off the side of the shop. Dean follows when Cain crooks a finger over his shoulder, beckoning him to come along.
In the office, Cain fills the coffee maker with water, changes out the grounds and the filter, and starts the little machine. Then he sits down at his desk and gestures for Dean to have a seat as well.
Dean does as he’s told, even though he feels slightly like he’s being brought to the principle’s office for a scolding.
Cain rummages around in his desk, and pulls out a picture frame. He passes it across to Dean.
It’s a picture of Cain smiling more widely than Dean has ever seen him smile. His arms are wrapped around a woman who is beaming into the camera just as brightly as Cain is.
“That is my wife, Colette,” Cain says. His eyes are soft on the frame in Dean’s hands. “I built the house you’re living in for her.”
Dean’s head jerks up in surprise. “Really?”
Cain nods. “She died several years before I met you, and I don’t feel at home there anymore. I wandered around the country for a while before I settled in Lawrence where you came to work for me. But I can’t bring myself to get rid of the property either, which is why I’m currently renting it to you.”
He holds out his hand, and Dean passes the picture over to him. Love shines brightly from Cain’s eyes as he looks down at the picture. It is only slightly dimmed by his sadness, though. Obviously she meant the world to Cain.
Dean can relate. Cas has kind of become the center of his world too.
It feels wrong to interrupt the moment, but Dean can’t help himself. “What happened to her?”
Long fingers, callused and scarred from decades of carpentry, trace over the picture. “She got caught in a shark frenzy while hunting. Her sons were unable to retrieve any of her remains, otherwise they would have also been caught in the frenzy.” Cain looks up at Dean, and there’s a suspicious sheen in his pale eyes. “Gabriel and Castiel are all I have left of her. So you’d better take good care of my step-son if you decide to pursue a relationship with him.”
Dean’s brain scratches the metaphorical record. “I-I’m sorry,” he stutters after a moment. “Did you say Gabriel and Castiel are your step-sons?”
Which means Colette was a tentacle creature like they are.
Cain nods, and it is enough to knock Dean out of his stupor. “How come you never told me? How come Cas never said anything?”
“Was it important?”
Dean wants to say fuck yes it was important. But it really isn’t. It is kinda cool though. Dean snorts a laugh. “Dude, if I hook up with Cas, you’ll be my father-in-law. I mean, kind of.”
Cain gives him a dry look, but it’s ruined by the twitch of his lips. He puts the picture frame away in his desk, treating it like a delicate treasure before sliding the drawer closed. He leans back in his chair and links his fingers together over his stomach. “So, I ask again. Is Castiel’s species the only thing that is holding you back from pursuing him?”
A weight Dean hadn’t realized he’d been carrying lifts from his shoulders. The species difference really doesn’t bother him, but it seemed like something that should. So that leaves him with only one other problem. “I’m not sure if he feels the same about me,” he murmurs.
“Well, there is an easy solution for that,” Cain points out. “Just talk to him and find out.”
Oh yeah. Totally easy.
Dean doesn’t talk to Castiel. He can’t. Every time he sees Castiel smile, or hears him laugh, or watches him paint dainty ocean vistas on giant seashells, the words get trapped in his throat.
Hey Cas, you’re my best friend, but you also mean more to me than that.
Hey Cas, I look at you and the whole world goes away, and you’re the only thing that’s left for me.
Hey Cas, I’m pretty sure I’m in love with you. Do you love me too?
Huh, maybe he should put that last one on a note with checkboxes for Yes or No.
Castiel senses there is something wrong, and he watches Dean closely as if waiting for a physical answer to his silent questions. It’s almost comforting because at least Dean is not the only one having difficulty talking about the tension between them.
It doesn’t help that Dean’s body is starting to react to Castiel’s presence more and more over time. He’s constantly nervous that he’s going to pop a boner while Castiel’s tentacles are wrapped around him. His breath hitches when any part of his skin is bared to Castiel’s touch. Even the casual brush of fingers makes Dean’s pants feel a little snug.
It all comes to a head about a week before Sam is scheduled to come for his summer visit. They’d spent all day getting the spare bedroom ready, and it is warm enough that Dean is feeling gross and sweaty. Even Castiel seems uncomfortable at the accumulation of dust and sweat on his skin. And it is obvious he is longing for a dip in the sea by the way he keeps casting longing glances at the bedroom window.
“Hey,” Dean says as Castiel finishes smoothing a patchwork quilt over the new mattress with his tentacles. “How about a swim?”
Castiel perks up, and his tentacles flicker with multi-colored circles and stripes. “That sounds lovely.”
To save time, Dean crouches by the bed and let’s Castiel wrap his arms around his shoulders. Tentacles wrap around his torso, and one even goes around his thigh. Castiel gets around pretty quickly, but they’ve both found that it’s easier for Dean to give him a piggy back ride sometimes.
Castiel’s breath tickles the back of Dean’s neck, and he has to concentrate carefully on his way down the stairs so he doesn’t trip and break both their necks on the way down. The tentacle around his thigh is uncomfortably close to a growing situation in Dean’s shorts, and he has to resist the urge to try and twitch away from it.
Thankfully the walk out to the pier is short despite Castiel’s weight. Dean is strong from years of carpentry, and he isn’t even short of breath by the time he reaches the end.
He’s not really dressed for swimming, but it’s not like he can’t just throw his t-shirt and shorts in the wash as soon as he goes back inside. So he doesn’t even hesitate to jump straight into the water as soon as he can.
Castiel’s weight only pulls at him for a moment before the tentacles are whipping away and Dean is free to kick his way back up to the surface for a gulp of fresh air. He breaks the surface laughing, and shakes his head, sending droplets of water in every direction. “Holy shit!” he gasps. “I should have checked how cold the water was before I did that!”
Rough laughter echoes back at him, and Dean turns to see Castiel several arm lengths away, only his head above water. His dark hair is plastered to his head, and one tentacle comes out of the water to brush it away from his eyes. “The temperature is quite balmy, Dean. I don’t know what you’re complaining about.”
“Shut up, ya shit.” Dean punctuates the words by smacking his palm against the water, sending a small spray in Castiel’s direction.
Castiel’s eyes narrow dangerously. “Do you really want to play that game with me?”
In answer, Dean splashes again. Then he yelps and starts to swim in the opposite direction when Castiel disappears under the water. On land Dean may move around quicker and easier, but he knows that the sea is Castiel’s true domain. So he’s not at all surprised to feel a tentacle wrap around one of his ankles and jerk him under the water. He has just enough time to gasp in a breath before he’s submerged.
He’s released immediately and Dean is able to pop back up with ease. He mock glares at his friend who is now less than a meter away. “That’s not fair.”
Castiel cocks his head to the side, a gesture that has become both familiar and dear. His eyes sparkle with mischief. “It’s not?”
This time Dean isn’t expecting the tentacles that grab both his wrists and tug him forward. Water splashes in his face, but he’s not pulled under again, only closer to Castiel. “No,” he responds, even as he makes a half-hearted effort to get free. They both know he can’t unless Castiel wants him to.
“Well you are just a human,” Castiel says with a smirk. “I guess you are at a severe disadvantage.”
“Oh yeah?” Dean twists his wrists, and Castiel let’s them go free. They don’t play in the water often since it’s been too cold until just recently, but he’s always careful not to inhibit Dean’s ability to swim. This time, it’s Castiel’s fatal mistake.
Dean lunges forward in the water and digs his fingers into Castiel’s armpits. “How’s this for a disadvantage, huh?”
Even as Castiel cries out with tortured laughter, two of his tentacles wrap around Dean to make sure he doesn’t sink in the water without the help of his hands to keep his face in the air. And that’s why Dean is going to win this battle of wills. Castiel won’t try to escape him which means Dean can keep going as long as he wants.
Or until Castiel fights back. His hands grab Dean’s forcing them away from sensitive areas, and at the same time two tentacles slide up Dean’s sides under his t-shirts and wiggle against his bare skin. Dean’s whole body convulses, and the only reason he stays above water is because Castiel is still holding him.
Which is good because he’s laughing so hard, there’s no way he wouldn’t suck in a lungfull of salt water as soon as he goes under. That doesn’t stop him from struggling and making waves around them though.
Castiel doesn’t stop his assault, but he does wrap Dean in two more tentacles, effectively immobilizing him.
“Cas stop! Stop, oh my god, Cas!”
He doesn’t know how long he begs before Castiel finally shows him mercy, but by the time he comes to his senses, he realizes he’s pressed against Castiel’s chest, and he’s wrapped in both his arms and several of his tentacles.
Dean is instantly rock hard. And his thin cotton shorts are not thick enough to hide his reaction. Especially not when his erection is pressed up hard and hot against Castiel’s belly.
They both go still, staring at each other with wide eyes. Their breath is heavy and rough from exertion, and it heats the inches between their mouths.
Castiel’s eyes flick down to Dean’s lips, and Dean is lost. He closes the space between them and captures Castiel’s lips under his own. He tastes saltwater, and the remaining sweetness of the apples Castiel ate at lunch time, and Dean dips his tongue deeper when Cas opens to him with a rich moan, chasing the flavor.
His hands wander, his palms sliding across muscled chest and pebbled nipples, up over wide shoulders and into Castiel’s dark hair. It’s just long enough to curl his fingers in, and he uses the leverage to tilt Castiel’s head to the side. The motion breaks the kiss, but Dean traces his lips over the curve of Castiel’s cheek, the edge of his jaw, the line of his neck. He pauses over Castiel’s fluttering pulse and suckles at the salty skin.
“Tell me this is okay, Cas,” Dean murmurs. Castiel’s heart beats so hard he can feel the bump of it against his lips. He runs his tongue over the vein, and then kisses again, just a brief press of lips to skin. “Tell me you want this.”
“Yes, please. Dean!”
That last is a cry as Dean closes his teeth over Castiel’s pulse and bites down. Not enough to even bruise, but it still sends a shiver through every one of Castiel’s limbs. Since several of them are twined around Dean’s body, he feels the tremor as if it’s his own.
“Get us to shore, Cas,” Dean murmurs against heated skin. He kisses a path back up, and takes Castiel’s mouth in another lip sucking kiss. He breaks away, panting. “Can you do that?”
He feels the water sliding over his skin, and out of the corner of his eye he can see the shore getting closer. Castiel is swimming with only a limited number of tentacles which slows their progress, but right now Dean doesn’t mind. He’s too busy pressing bruising kisses to Castiel’s mouth, sucking his lips, biting them, licking them, and cataloguing the tiny gasps and whimpers each action causes.
The bump of sand beneath his feet startles him for a moment, and he tries to get his feet under him. But Castiel’s tentacles squeeze tighter, immobilizing him, so he let’s Cas drag him to shore.
Now that Castiel no longer needs the rest of his tentacles to move them through the water, they get busy exploring. They start at his toes, the suckers like tiny mouths kissing his feet. It tickles a little, but Dean is still distracted by Castiel’s mouth, as well as the other tentacles that are starting to slide under his wet clothes.
Castiel breaks free of Dean’s kiss with a whine, but he resists being pulled back and stares down at Dean with dark and hungry eyes. The tip of a tentacle tugs at the hem of his shirt. “Dean?”
Skin on skin action? Hell. Yes. Dean nods, and tries to wiggle free of Castiel’s hold so he can help remove the offending article of clothing. But Castiel still holds him nearly immobile with his tentacles. He uses his hands to tug the shirt up and over Dean’s head, and immediately tentacles wrap around Dean’s arms, holding them in place with his fists just above where his shoulders dig into the sand.
“Cas, I wanna touch you,” Dean whines.
It’s the right thing to say because suddenly his arms are free. He instantly wraps them around Castiel’s shoulders and pulls him back down for another kiss. Castiel’s hands explore Dean’s torso along with two other tentacles. His fingers stop to flick at Dean’s nipples and then move down along his stomach while tentacles take their place. Dean arches up when suckers pluck at the tender buds, but his moan is muffled by Castiel’s mouth against his own.
Dean nods frantically when Castiel’s nimble fingers pause at the fastening of his shorts. In no time the button is popped free, the zipper is down, and tentacles are pulling them down his legs along with his underwear.
Oh dear god, he’s naked. He’s naked and Castiel is blanketing him with his body. And… is that a tentacle wrapping around his cock? Dean thrashes against Castiel’s hold when he feels the suckers on his dick. Each one feels like a tiny mouth sucking gently at the skin.
His reaction startles Cas, who rears up over him. The tiny motions of his tentacle stop. “Dean?”
“Don’t stop, Cas, fuck, don’t stop!”
Satisfied that he’s not hurting Dean, Castiel leans to the side enough so that he can look down and see what he’s doing. When Dean tries to pull him back down, Castiel captures one of his hands in his own and twines their fingers together.
The gesture is more intimate than whatever Castiel is doing to Dean’s cock, and that more than anything else sends him shooting toward the edge of an orgasm. “Cas! I’m gonna… fuck I’m-” He cuts off with a whine when Castiel’s tentacle disappears.
“Dean,” Castiel pants. “Dean I want you.”
“I want you too, Cas,” Dean manages to say between gasps. “Fuck, I want you so much.”
Tentacles spread his legs wide, bringing one knee up nearly to his chest. And then something slick and warm is pressing between his ass cheeks. Dean’s head comes up and he looks down to see a tentacle massaging the tight ring of muscle. It’s the one that’s different than all of the rest. It doesn’t have any suckers at all. Dean always thought it was some kind of birth deformity and he’s never brought it up, but he can see now how the tip is swollen and round. It slides up over his perineum, smearing a slick liquid against his skin, and he realizes with a jolt what it really is.
His eyes flick up to Castiel’s and he sees the question in those stormy blue eyes. His words are a husky purr. “You wanna fuck me with that, Cas?”
The tentacle presses at his hole again. Gentle, not enough to breech him. “May I?” Castiel asks.
A little prep would probably be good, but Dean’s got himself a nice collection of toys that he likes to fuck himself with two or three times a week. He’d used one just the night before so he should still be loose enough to take Castiel, especially with the creamy lube his tentacle is spilling all over him.
“Yeah, Cas. Do it.”
His head drops back to the sand, and his eyes roll up behind his fluttering eyelids as the tentacle nudges harder. He feels his ass spreading open to accept the cock, and he bears down to encourage its passage. They both gasp when it finally pops past the ring of muscle.
And then Dean shouts wordlessly when it starts to wiggle, forcing its way deeper. His arms and legs immediately tense up even though he’s not fighting the intrusion, and Castiel’s tentacles tighten around them, holding him still.
He’d always had a kink for bondage. Turns out tentacle sex is practically the same thing.
“Cas…” He opens his eyes to see Castiel staring down at him, his expression fierce and predatory, his pupils blown wide with lust. “I need… need…”
“What is it, Dean?”
How he can be so articulate Dean will never know. He can’t quite form the words because now Castiel’s tentacle is wiggling right up against his prostate, setting off fireworks behind his eyes. So he opens his mouth wide and sticks his tongue out, hoping Castiel will understand what he needs.
He hears a sharp intake of breath, and then there’s another tentacle pressing into his mouth.
Dean would have been happy with a couple fingers, but hell yeah this works too. He sucks at the tentacle, teasing the suckers with the tip of his tongue, and moaning louder when the tentacle in his ass starts fucking in and out. Each thrust passes over his prostate, making Dean grunt and gasp around the appendage in his mouth.
Castiel starts kissing Dean’s face, his chin, his jaw, his neck. Everywhere he can reach. He even uses his tentacles to shift Dean around so he can reach new areas.
It shouldn’t feel so good to be completely limp and at Castiel’s mercy, but Dean fucking loves it.
And then the tentacle that had been massaging his cock slides just so over the head, and Dean feels like a supernova goes off inside him. He thrashes and writhes which only forces Castiel’s tentacles deeper inside him, prolonging the pulses of pleasure.
The tentacle in his ass increases its pace, and Dean’s whole body locks up in a second orgasm just as Castiel cries out against his chest. The tentacle in his ass flexes and fills him with so much come that he can actually feel each pulse as it shoots inside him.
When it’s over, they both relax into the sand and let the ocean lap at the lower half of their bodies while they both catch their breath. Castiel’s tentacle slips free, but Dean keeps his legs spread so he can feel the warm semen dripping out of him.
Dean’s heartbeat has finally slowed to something almost normal when he finally breaks the silence between them. “I love you. I have for a while now.”
The tentacles holding his limbs had gone loose, but they tighten briefly. “I have loved you since the first time I heard you sing,” Castiel whispers against Dean’s neck. He presses a kiss to the skin there. “You are my siren.”
Warmth suffuses Dean’s whole body, and he wiggles against Castiel’s grip until the tentacles slip free. He wraps his arms and legs around Castiel, trying to eliminate any space between them. “I guess I should get myself a new guitar, huh?”
Fingers trace against his sides. Tentacles slide over his arms and his thighs. Castiel’s breath is hot against his skin. “I would like that very much.”
Dean smiles and turns just enough to press a kiss against Castiel’s temple.
“Sam’s gonna shit a brick,” he says after a moment. “I’m going to be introducing him to my boyfriend the tentacle monster.”
Castiel’s eyes narrow briefly but then he grins. His expression is far too smug, and Dean braces himself for whatever he’s going to say.
“Yes, and I’ll have to thank him for showing me those hentai sites you seem to like so much.”
Their laughter breaks out and echoes across the cove as the tickle fight starts up again. Dean totally lets Cas win.
Chapter 2 is just a long author's note and kind of an epilogue. Not really part of the story, but kind of cute to read about :)
This is not really a chapter. It is an author's note slash pseudo-epilogue talking about Dean and Castiel's happily ever.
A few commentors (hello, hi, i love you!) mentioned a sequel. I am not going to write one because my Muse stamped this story with a big giant FINISHED, and then wrapped it all up in a giant ribbon. However, I did get to thinking about what their life would be like.
Dean would eventually talk Castiel into selling some of his creations because he starts running out of places to keep them. The painted seashells are Castiel's most popular items. Sam (who is totally chill about the tentacles thing, although he's horrified as soon as he realizes what Castiel wanted the hentai websites for) helps him set up an Etsy shop so that he can sell online. One day Dean is at an antique shop and he finds a giant bin of old fashioned buttons. He buys the whole thing and brings them home to Castiel which starts a whole new line of jewelry and decorated shells. Castiel loves interesting buttons, and Dean brings new ones home for him as gifts whenever he finds them.
Cain builds a special wheelchair for Castiel that allows him to go out in public while hiding his tentacles. They create a backstory for him as a migrant from Siberia who lost his legs to frostbite. A few people seem to give him knowing looks, but no one says anything. Dean suspects there are more creatures like Castiel known to others in town, and his suspicions are confirmed when Cain receives two or three orders for similar wheelchairs over the next few years.
Castiel and Dean are unable to have children, but the ocean is a dangerous place, even for the fiercest of Castiel's people. One day he brings home an orphaned female who is about three years old. They name her Gracie and raise her as their own. She has a preference for the sea, unlike Castiel and her uncle Gabriel, and when she grows up she marries one of her own species and spends most of her time living with them. But she brings her offspring home often to visit their proud grandpas.
Sabriel totally happens, much to Dean's disgust and Castiel's delight. Together Dean and Cain build a second cabin in the cove because if Dean has to put up with Gabriel's presence, he can only do it in small doses and he'd rather have him as a neighbor than a roommate. Sam opens a small law office in the town and becomes a pillar of the community.
Anyway, it's all disgustingly cute.
Except for the sex. That's dirty. In the good way ;)