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And Our Song Would Just Rain Away

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 "And I said: 'this life ain't no love song' while I marched on blindly"

”You’re not serious,” Dean said as he opened the door of his apartment.

“You’re not dressed,” Sam replied as he pushed past his older brother and walked into his kitchen like he owned the place.

Sam was technically right; Dean was currently in a t-shirt and boxers, having just rolled out of bed when Sam’s violent knocking almost made the walls fall down on him.

“You were supposed to be ready half an hour ago, we have to get going soon,” Sam said, pulling a box of orange juice out of the fridge and pouring himself a glass while picking up yesterday’s newspaper from the kitchen table.

Dean just stared blankly.

“You can’t make me do this.”

“Dean. You promised.” Which was, technically, also true.

“I thought you were kidding.”

 “I’ve been talking about it for months, how could you possibly have thought I was kidding?”

“A dog, Sammy. In a student’s home? How will you even have time to take care of it?”

Sam took a swing of his orange juice, wiping his mouth with his sleeve before he spoke. “Firstly, not all species need a lot of space. I’ve been checking and I’ve found a few ones that could easily live at my place without any trouble, as long as I take it for a walk every day.” He paused.

“Secondly, and I can’t stress this enough, you promised you would drive me to the shelter today. Please, Dean?

Dean sighed. “Fine. Fine, I’ll do it.” Sam’s face visibly lightened up and Dean held up his hand to stop the outbursts of thankfulness threatening to erupt from his little brother.

“One condition,” Dean said.

“Anything.”

“You get one of those tiny pink ones that’ll fit in your handbag.”

Sam smacked the grin off his face with the folded newspaper.

-

The animal shelter wasn’t far from Dean’s apartment, but he complained all the way there anyway.

“It’s gonna pee everywhere, Sammy. All over your precious books and sheets and everything,” Dam rambled as he pulled into a parking space in front of the shelter.

Sam just shook his head and got out of the car.

“And the hair, it’s gonna be all over the place,” Dean continued as he pushed the door of the animal shelter open. “You’re gonna need to buy some super expensive food and vaccine and stuff as well, and let’s not even get started on the toys and beds and-“

Sam gave him bitchface #4, the one that had been dubbed “you’re an annoying prick and if you don’t shut up I will punch your face”. Dean considered it a job well done and took a break.

There was no one by the counter, so the brothers started aimlessly wandering up and down the aisles of spacious cages, filled with animals of all sorts. There was miauing, barking and even (Dean jumped a little at this) the sizzle of a snake, flashing its tongue in rapid motions as it slid across a piece of wood.

Next to one of the cages, a guy in a bright green sweater Dean was refilling a bowl of dog food. As he heard them approaching, the guy turned towards the brothers and Dean very nearly dropped his jaw.

Dark brown hair sticking up in all directions, dark blue jeans on thin legs and he was most possibly the hottest guy Dean had ever seen.

The fact that he has eyes that looked like they were scissored out of the fucking sky didn’t exactly help.

“Hello,” the guy smiled and Dean jumped back into reality with a snap. “Can I help you?”

“Yes, actually,” Sam said and stepped forward. “I’m looking for a dog? For adoption.”

“Right. Do you have any idea what kind or species? I’m Castiel, by the way.”

“Can I call you Cas?” Dean said and Sam glared at him. Castiel only chuckled and replied, “Sure, go ahead,” and that was that. Dean was a goner.

With Cas’ help, they went through the different dogs in the shelter. Dean voted for the poodle and Sam rolled his eyes in exasperation. The dogs were all rejected of different reasons; they needed more space and time than Sam could afford, too big, too small. Dean thought that they were going to be stuck there forever (not that he minded, he got a pretty decent look at Castiel’s ass every time he bended over to pick a smaller dog up), when Cas opened the last cage in the row.

“This is Peach,” Cas said, picking up a small golden retriever puppy. “She’s been through a lot, so please be careful with her. She’s not really used to being around humans yet.”

Sam carefully took the puppy in his arms and Dean could practically see how his brother’s insides turned to a puddle of jelly. Sam was just a big girl, after all.

“What happened to her?” Sam asked, stroking the soft fur behind Peach’s ears.

“Abuse,” Castiel said, closing the door of the cage. “We get in new victims every week. They get kicked, left without food, sometimes even burned with cigarettes.”

Sam just held the puppy closer to his chest. The puppy made a little whining noise and closed its eyes, nestling into Sam’s shirt. “She likes you,” Cas smiled. “She’s usually not this calm around people.”

Sam continued patting her small, furry head and Dean extended a hand to touch the puppy as well. Her fur was like silk under his hand and Dean knew that Sam was going to take her home.

Sure enough. “She’s perfect,” he said, not taking his eyes of the puppy in his arms.

Castiel nodded. “Right. We need to take her in for check-ups every week in the start to make sure she’s adjusting, and there’s also some shots that she’ll need to take before she can go outside and meet other dogs. I hope that’s not a problem?”

Sam shook his head without taking his eyes of the dog. Dean grabbed his arm and led his brother towards the counter. “Come on Samantha, we’ve got some paperwork for you to do, then you can coo over your little puppy all you want.”

Castiel huffed a laugh and Dean found himself loving the sound, wanting more.

-

“I can’t believe you didn’t get her a cage.”

“Look at her, she doesn’t need one!” Sam replied, eyes still glued on Peach.

“There will be hair, all over my baby,” Dean snapped.

“Lies. There’s barely any hair on her, look,” Sam said, patting the puppy’s head for the hundredth time. “Whatever,” Dean mumbled.

He looked over to find Sam staring at him. “What?” Dean asked, looking back to the road in front of them. “Castiel was nice,” Sam said.

“I guess. Why?”

Sam just smiled a little, looking out the window. “Oh, nothing.”

“Bitch.”

“Jerk.”

-

A week passed without incident. Dean worked long days in the Salvage Yard owned by an old friend of their dad’s. Bobby had taken care of the boys when John could not, and Dean considered himself in eternal debs to the old man for that. That was why Dean insisted on minimal salary, despite Bobby’s protests, and always made sure to help around his house whenever he could.

Sam sometimes helped, when he wasn’t too busy with law school, or as recently, with the new addition to his apartment.

Dean was at home when the phone rang and he picked up immediately. “Hello?”

“Dean, you were right,” Sam’s voice said on the other end.

“Of course I was. About what, specifically?”

“She’s peeing. Everywhere. I think she’s nervous, Dean, what do I do?”

Dean just laughed until Sam hung up on him and his little brother’s curses were replaced by the dial tone.

He had barely left his apartment in a week, other than going to and from work and a small run for groceries, so in a sudden strike of inspiration, Dean put his favourite shorts and jogging shoes on and went for a run.

The air was chilly and he regretted not putting on full-length pants and a jacket instead of the ratty t-shirt he was wearing. He plugged in his earbuds into his iPod (a Christmas gift from Sammy last year) and picked up a pace, falling in step with the rhythm of the music. Soon he found himself in the park, running laps on the trails circling the pond in the middle.

On his second lap, he almost ran straight into someone standing at the side of the trail.

“Oh, sorry,” a fairly familiar voice said and Dean stopped dead in his tracks.

“Cas?” he asked, turning towards the source of the voice. Sure enough, Castiel was standing there, a slightly too big trench coat thrown over a black sweater. In his hand was a camera, one of the fancy ones Dean sometimes saw teenage girls carrying around to take photos of their Starbucks Frappes.

“Hello, Dean,” Cas said, a faint smile tugging at his lips.

While the other man looked as good as ever, Dean was a mess. He was sweating from head to toe and he was pretty sure his face was red from the cold and the running. Fucking fantastic, he thought.

“You a photographer?” Dean asked, bracing himself against a tree.

“I freelance,” Castiel replied, hanging the camera in its strap around his neck. “I’m only at the animal shelter part time.”

“What do you take pictures of?” Dean asked, genuinely interested.

“Right now I’m just trying out the focus of this new objective I got. I’m trying to see how much I can isolate the motive and… Is this making any sense to you?”

“Not really, no,” Dean grinned and Cas huffed one of his small, short laughs. “You should talk to my friend Jo though; she’s really into that kind of stuff.”

“I could show you, if you want,” Cas offered and Dean swore to God he almost looked a bit shy.

Dean’s face went from grinning to outright beaming. “Sure, I’d like that,” he said, and he thought that Castiel’s face lighted up at his answer.

They spent over an hour in the park, taking stupid photos of ducks and trees and the clouds in the sky. When Castiel shouted, “Dean, say cheese!” Dean struck the most stupid poses he could think of; pouting lips, arched back, hand on his waist. He jumped up as high as he could and Cas snapped a photo of him mid-air.

As Dean went up as close as he could get to the camera lens and started making grimaces, Castiel almost fell over laughing, snapping photo after photo of the other man. Dean found himself laughing along, and soon they were both gasping for air, Castiel wiping tears from his eyes.

When they had both calmed down, Cas pulled his phone out of his pocket and checked the time. “I should go,” he said. “I promised to meet Gabe and come with him to the hospital this afternoon.”

“Your… kid?” Dean asked, stomach sinking.

Castiel snorted. “Almost. He’s my older brother, and he’s got the mental maturity of a five-year old.”

“The hospital, you say. Nothing too bad, is it?” Dean asked. “Sorry, didn’t mean to pry,” he added when Cas didn’t reply immediately.

“No… no, it’s alright. It’s our mom, she’s got Alzheimer. Along with our names and faces, she also forgot to take her medication, so they took her in. They’ll be putting her in a home soon, they just wanted to make sure everything was okay before they let her go.”

“I’m sorry,” Dean mumbled, but Castiel smiled a little.

“It’s okay. She’s got her ups and downs. Sometimes she remembers our names, sometimes she doesn’t. She’s still got memories of her childhood and everything, so we can still talk to her about that.”

Dean nodded. “I see,” he said, not sure if he was supposed to say something comforting, and if so, what could he possibly say? “I’m sorry your mom is dying?”

“Yeah,” Castiel said, rocking back on his heels. “I’ll see you around, Dean. Thank you for spending time with me today.” Then he turned his back and walked away.

“My pleasure,” Dean shouted after his retreating back. And he meant it.

As he turned to leave, he heard Castiel calling out behind him. “Dean? Dean!”

Turning towards Cas, he saw the other man half-jogging towards Dean, trench coat flaring behind him. “I almost forgot,” he panted out. “Would you like my number? I mean, if you want to do this again sometime. If you don’t that’s okay but I just thought-“

“Of course,” Dean interrupted and Cas handed his phone over with a smile. “Just enter your number, I’ll send you a text or something later,” he said.

Dean did as told and Castiel pocketed the device and took off again, waving as he went. Dean found himself waving back but promptly stopped when he realized Cas couldn’t see him anymore.

Later that evening, when Dean was spending quality time with old reruns on television and a bottle of Bud, his phone beeped in his pocket. Pulling it out, he glanced at the unknown number.

It is actually possible to paint on paper of medium quality using nothing but hospital-issued jell-o, it read and Dean found himself laughing. Then his phone beeped again. This is Castiel, by the way.

did ur bro paint it? Dean wrote and hit ‘send’. The reply came a minute later.

My sister, actually, but close enough. Dean flipped his phone shut and smiled to himself. He hadn’t had as fun with anyone in ages as he had had with Castiel that same afternoon, and Dean found himself hoping that he would run into his new (friend?) acquaintance again. He fell asleep with that thought on his mind and a smile on his lips. He was sure they would meet again.

-

Dean was right, and two days later came the confirmation.

He was in a coffee shop, getting his afternoon fix of caffeine when he spotted a familiar trench coat by one of the windows.

Castiel was sitting with a large cup of something on the table and his nose buried in a book. On said nose balanced a pair of thick-framed reading glasses. He looked up at the sound of Dean pulling the chair on the opposite side of the table out.

“Is this taken?” He asked, already sitting down.

“Not until now,” Cas smiled, turning a page in his book.

“What’re you reading?” Dean asked, sipping his coffee. Black, two sugars, just like he wanted. Not too sweet, not too bitter.

“It’s Kafka,” Castiel replied. “It’s probably the third time I’ve read it. Still don’t understand half of it.”

Dean snorted. “Then why are you reading it?”

“I enjoy a challenge,” Cas grinned, putting his book down. He took a sip of whatever was in his cup and Dean specifically did not notice how those lips formed around the edge of it.

“What the hell is that?” Dean asked. It looked like coffee with milk and sugar, no coffee.

“This? It’s a chai latte.”

“Chai what?”

“Chai latte. It’s chai tea, skimmed milk and honey. Really sweet, really good.”

Dean paused for a second. “So there’s no coffee in there?”

“None. I never could handle the taste,” Castiel said, taking another sip. “Want to try it?” he asked, extending the cup towards Dean. He took it hesitatingly, looking at the liquid in it with a frown.

“Don’t look so skeptical, it’s really good,” Castiel chuckled. Dean brought to cup to his lips and took a small sip. He immediately handed it back with a grimace. “I think that just gave me diabetes,” Dean said, taking a large swing of his coffee instead.

Castiel just shrugged, sipping his sugar bomb.

“I just realized,” Cas said, “you know what I do and you know about my family, or at least parts of it, but I know practically nothing about you. Tell me about the mystery that is Dean….?”

“Winchester,” Dean smiled. “You?”

“Novak. Castiel Novak.”

“Right,” Dean said, extending a hand. “Nice to meet you, Castiel Novak.”

Cas took Dean’s hand in his own, shaking it twice. “Likewise, Dean Winchester.”

“You know… there’s really not much to know about me,” Dean said, twirling his now empty cup between his fingers.

“Oh, I’m sure there’s something,” Cas said, eyeing him over the rims of his glasses. “Where do you work, for example?”

“In a salvage yard, just north of town. The owner is an old friend of the family. I fix up cars and stuff,” Dean said, realizing how boring it sounded. Castiel, however, seemed intrigued.

“The Singer Salvage Yard?” he asked, leaning forward in his chair.

“That’s the one,” Dean replied with a smile.

“Alright,” Cas said. “Anything else?”

Dean though about it for a second. “I’ve got a younger brother, whom you’ve met. The giant with the puppy, you know?”

“That was your little brother? I would have guessed he was older than you, judging by his height.”

“Real funny, Cas. I’m actually four years older than him. He’s a smart cookie, studying to be a lawyer and everything.”

“That’s impressive,” Cas said. “One of my brothers is a lawyer.”

“Big family?” Dean asked.

“Pretty big, yes. I don’t have any contact with most of them though.”

“I’m sorry,” Dean said.

“Mhm,” Cas replied, looking down at the table. “But we were talking about you now, not me. Tell me more,” he added after a moment of silence.

“I’m really not that interesting, you know,” Dean laughed. “What is there to know? I live in a apartment that’s too big and too expensive for me, I like pie, apple and cherry specifically, though anything goes as long as it’s got a crust. Sammy is the only family I’ve got left at this point, unless you count Bobby and Ellen. They took care of us a lot when Sam and I were small, and their daughter is the one I told you about yesterday, Jo. I own a classic car, a 67 Chevy Impala to be exact, and she’s my baby girl. Someday, I would like to open my own garage, work on classic cars. That’s about it, I suppose,” Dean finished his little speech. He hadn’t exactly meant to tell Cas all of this, but it was difficult when he had two wide eyes staring into his own, wanting to know more, and not just for the sake of being polite.

“I see,” Cas said, taking his reading glasses of and stuffing them in the pocket of his trench coat. “Do you like pecan pie?” he then asked.

“Dude, yes,” Dean grinned. “It’s far up there on my list of amazing pies.”

Cas smiled. “Me, too.”

They chatted for another 15 minutes, until Cas had to go take work an afternoon shift at the animal shelter. Dean wished him a good luck and Cas thanked him with a smile before he was out the door, bell ringing behind him as he went.

Left on the table was Cas’ book, turned upside down to mark the page he was currently reading. Dean picked it up and in a flash of curiosity, took it back to his apartment.

He texted a dude u forgot ur book and got a Just keep it for now, you can return it whenever you want to in reply.

Kicking his shoes off, Dean laid down on his bed and opened the book on the page Castiel had flipped it over at.

Theoretically there is a perfect possibility of happiness: believing in the indestructible element in oneself and not striving towards it, Dean read. Then he reread it two more times.

He worked his way through one full page in about half an hour, having to stop and reread almost every sentence he stumbled upon.

Dean was pretty sure a few of the words he came across were made up and after two pages, he gave up. i dont understand shit, he wrote to Cas, adding this guy is insane, im tellin u and hit ‘send’.

Told you. Also; take one to know one, came the reply and Dean chuckled to himself. He could get used to this.

-

A week of meaningless texting (But why is there no such thing as organic chocolate cereal?) and short hang-out sessions passed and Dean found himself more comfortable around Cas than almost anyone else he knew.

His ridiculous Attraction At First Sight had faded into a comfortable friendship and Dean didn’t mind. He liked just hanging out with Cas, grabbing a slice of pizza (Castiel liked the pepperoni one without ham but with extra cheese on top) or watching a crappy movie.

Dean showed an unimpressed Cas his baby which led into a discussion about modern versus classic cars. As it turned out, Castiel didn’t even own a car (even though he did have a driver’s license) which automatically rendered him unable to say anything bad about the Impala, ever again.

Castiel told Dean about his siblings (in order: Michael, Lucifer, Raphael, Balthazar, Gabriel and Anna, Castiel being younger than Gabriel but older than Anna) and showed him the small studio he had set up for photography.

He learned all the little things about Cas, like the fact that his sister was an artist and that he was a gay rights supporter, spending time on the internet writing articles for a small online magazine. He wasn’t too sure about his actual sexuality though, Cas had never mentioned an ex or a past date.

Dean found himself avoiding the topic as well, never mentioning his failed relationship with Cassie and the one with Lisa or his numerous hookups, male and female. And it was all right, more than all right actually. Dean had always had a hard time making friends and he found himself clinging to Cas, feigning ignorance in fear of suffocating the other man. But he was happy, really damn happy, and hopefully, so was Castiel.

It was a nice balance they were sharing, mutual respect along with friendly insulting and Dean wouldn’t change it for the world.

-

“Look, I wouldn’t ask but I literally have no other place to go.”

“Dude, it’s okay. Just pack your stuff and I’ll come pick you up,” Dean promised, sipping a cup of cold coffee.

“I can walk-“ Cas started and Dean quickly interrupted him. “I know you can, but it’s raining cats and dogs and I don’t want you to get a cold if you’re gonna hang around here, understood?”

Castiel sighed on the other end of the phone. “All right. Meet you here in ten?”

“Sound good to me,” Dean replied, aiming for casual and missing by about six miles. On the short ride to Castiel’s apartment complex, Dean’s knuckles were white from gripping the steering wheel too tightly. He could deal with meeting Cas every few days, hell, he loved it, but 24/7 contact with him, he was not prepared for.

Dean parked the Impala outside the house he knew was the one with Cas’ apartment in it (they all looked exactly the same, but Dean remembered it from an impromptu movie night last week) and took a deep breath before walking up to the front door and buzzing the button with the text “C. Novak” on a paper strip next to it.

Cas didn’t buzz him up to the apartment like Dean thought, but instead opened the front door of the complex. His hair was in more of a mess than usual, worn duffel bag thrown over his trench-coated shoulder.

“Ready to go?” Dean asked and Cas nodded in reply.

The drive was quiet in the beginning and Dean wanted to squirm out of his seat. He knows Cas could be awkward, but this was stretching it. When they hit a red light halfway between his apartment and Cas’, he asked, “How did you even get kicked out of an apartment?” and Castiel shrugged.

“It was a student’s only apartment. Sooner or later, someone was going to realize that I graduated a year and a half ago,” he said with a small smirk and Dean huffed a laugh.

“All your stuff though? Furniture and all that crap?” he asked and somehow felt like he was intruding on something private.

“In the attic for now. The landlord said I could keep it there until I found a new place,” said Cas and Dean nodded.

“So they’re not total dicks, then,” he concluded and Cas smiles.

“I’d like to think that they remember me as one of the more, let’s say harmless, students and therefore are doing me a favor.” Dean just stared.

“You talk like printed fucking Austen,” he said and Cas laughed as the light turned green.

 

-

Castiel only brought about four changes of clothes and a toothbrush, so Dean put his least itchy blankets and a pillow on the couch and said, “You take the bed.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Castiel replied and he’s got that you can’t tell me what to do look in his eyes that Dean’s sure drove Cas’ parents crazy when he was younger.

“Don’t start,” said Dean and carried Cas’ duffel into the bedroom for emphasis.

Castiel grumbled about it for another good ten minutes and then they’re both in the kitchen, cooking a vegetable omelet with ham on the side for Dean and it’s so fucking domestic that he wants to throw up.

They ate it in front of the ten o’clock news and Castiel was half asleep by the time he had finished his half of the omelet. Dean put a hand on his knee and said, “Bedtime for all good girls and boys,” and Cas swatted his hand away with a low grumble.

Dean took the dirty dishes to the sink while Cas changed into his sleeping attire and Dean almost had a heart attack when he showed up again in only boxers and a too large T-shirt.

“Goodnight, Dean,” he said and Dean had to remind himself how to use words before he croaks out a “Goodnight,” in return.

Falling asleep was difficult business for Dean Winchester that night, and he cursed the fact that his new best friend was so goddamn attractive at least five times before sleep finally took him in.

He dreams that he’s hunting a deer, but the target is just in bull’s eye and Dean’s finger hugs the trigger the deep leaps away and Dean has to do it all again before the animal disappears completely into the fog.

-

Dean woke up the next morning to the sound of something very Cas and very indie and the smell of pancakes. He stumbled out in sweatpants and no shirt, finding Castiel by the stove, flipping a pancake over to a plate.

“G’mornin,” Dean mumbled, pressing the start button on the fancy coffee maker Sam gave him a few years ago. A cup of steaming coffee was delivered in an instant and Dean gulped down the liquid, burning his tongue in the process.

“Good morning,” Castiel replied and Dean noticed that he was wearing jeans and specifically did not notice the way they hugged Cas’ ass. “Would you like some pancakes?” he asked, holding out a pile of pancakes balancing on a small plate.

“Dude, yes,” Dean grinned, taking the plate. “I could kiss you, you know that?” he added, realizing a second too late what had actually come out of his mouth.

If Cas minded, he didn’t show it. He went back to the stove, flipping a pancake as he took a sip from a cup next to it.

“Tha’ coffee?” Dean asked through a mouthful of syrup-drenched pancakes.

“This?” Castiel asked, holding the cup up and Dean nodded in reply. “Oh, I don’t drink coffee. It’s just tea,” he replied, taking another sip of it.

Swallowing, Dean said, “I don’t have any tea at home.”

“I know. I took it with me from the apartment, of course,” Castiel said, flipping another pancake with a spatula.

Dean stared. “No offence or anything, but you’re a freak.”

“So I’ve been told,” Cas replied with a small smile. “Speaking of apartments,” he continued, “I’ll be out of your hair later today. I just need to make a call to Gabe and then I can probably stay there.”

Dean’s coffee suddenly tasted a lot bitterer. “Really? The hyperactive architect one?”

“The one and only,” Cas replied.

Dean swallowed and said “You know, I don’t mind having you around. Especially not if you’re gonna make me pancakes and coffee,” he said lamely.

“I don’t want to intrude-“ Cas began.

“Dude, you’re not, I already told you. Stay as long as you like,” Dean interrupted. Cas just stared at him, seeming to contemplate his words.

“Pancake,” Dean said as the food went up in smoke on the stove behind Cas.

Shit,” Castiel hissed and Dean’s laughter was soon drowned by the fire alarm.

-

Falling into routines with Cas was almost scarily easy. Castiel cooked (because one of his insane brothers was a Gordon Bleu chef and had taught Cas a thing or two) and Dean did the dishes afterwards. Dean would usually be home earlier than Cas which gave him some time to prepare for a nightful of Ridiculousy Attractive And Generally Really Nice Temporary Roommate action. Not, however, action in the way Dean in the deepest corners of his mind would want it to be.

On Wednesday, Castiel brought pie home after work and they ate it in front of old Star Trek reruns on TV. On Thursday Dean, after painstakingly ransacking the Internet for help, succeeded in the extremely vexing task of making chai latte. He’s not completely sure that he got it right, but Cas fucking beamed and drank it all so Dean supposes it wasn’t too bad.

Thursday is also the day he called Sam after almost a whole week of no contact (except for the endless stream of puppy pictures Sam keeps sending him), which is most likely some sort of record for the two Winchesters.

“So, who’s the girl?” Dean asked the second Sam picked up the phone.

“How did you know?” said Sam on the other end and the rest of the conversation turned into one about Jess, the lit major with blonde hair that Dean quickly decided was far out of Sam’s league.

He told Sam about Cas and the fact the he’s practically homeless and Sam ‘aaaw’ed on the other end. “Aren’t you a do-gooder,” he said and Dean threatened to hang up.

The conversation turned into law school which turned into Dean’s recent project at the salvage yard which eventually turned into we should really meet up it’s been too long.

“Are you free tomorrow night?” Sam asked and Dean immediately replied with a ‘yes’.

They set a time and Sam was about to hang up when Dean remembered and stopped him with a “Wait, Sammy, is it okay if Cas comes too?” in the heat of the moment.

“It’s just,” he adds, “I don’t really want to kick him out, you know?”

Sam faked a sniff on the other end. “Betrayed,” he said, “betrayed by my own flesh and blood. You choose this Castiel over your own brother? I am hurt, Dean.”

“Fuck you,” Dean said.

He could practically hear Sam’s grin on the other end. “Of course it’s okay, Dean. I’d love to meet him again,” and Dean sagged with relief.

They said their goodbyes and hung up and that was the exact moment Castiel stumbled through the front door, camera equipment hanging in four different bags from his shoulders.

“Hey,” Dean said by way of greeting and Castiel mumbled something unintelligible in response before disappearing into the kitchen.

“You remember my brother Sam?”

“Of course,” Castiel replied, now bag-less and making his way to one of the armchairs opposite Dean’s.

“He’s coming over tomorrow for dinner and a movie, if you don’t mind,” Dean said, fingering the hem of his shirt.

“Why would I mind?” Castiel asked and his confusion sounded genuine. “It’s your brother and your apartment.”

“Just checking,” Dean replied.

“I can cook if you want,” Cas offered and Dean grinned in response. They ordered pizza and watched some crappy movie in TV and Dean though that this, he could definitely get used to.

-

When Dean came home from work the next day, there was a banging in the kitchen and for a second he thought that someone had broken into his apartment.

As it turned out, Castiel was going all out on his offer to cook, making not only a main course (homemade pasta with chicken and walnut sauce) but also dessert (peach pie, this guy was a keeper) and Dean almost said “Dude, can I marry you?” before stopping himself.

Dean took a shower, partly to rinse the sweat and dust from the day off, partly to calm himself the fuck down. Yes, Castiel was gorgeous and possibly the coolest person Dean had ever known (in the nerdiest way possible) but he was also Dean’s friend and he would rather eat his own legs than mess the relationship they had up.

He put a nice T-shirt and dark jeans on and was quickly shoved out of the kitchen with a “You’ll mess everything up,” thrown after him.

Sam arrived seven o’clock sharp and Dean was surprised by the lack of puppy.

“She’s with a friend,” Sam said and Dean waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

“Playing the cute puppy card now are we?” He asked and promptly got a kick in the shin for his trouble.

As Dean knelt over in agony (“This is gonna bruise, asshole”), Castiel came out of the kitchen, brushing flour from the front of his black dress shirt.

“Hello Sam,” he said and held out a hand. Sam took it and shook it twice like a Proper Adult and then said, “Castiel. Nice to finally meet you, again. Dean has been singing your Gloria for weeks.”

This is not the first time Dean has wanted to shove a toilet brush down Sam’s throat, but it might be the first time he’ll actually make words into action.

Castiel didn’t seem fazed at all, just said, “Have a seat, please. The food will be done shortly.”

“Isn’t that my job, to say all of that polite stuff?” Dean asked from his position on the floor.

“Like you could behave like an adult long enough for something like that,” Castiel snorted and Sam barked a laugh before going into the living room to take place at the small dining table.

Dinner was delicious and Dean was practically moaning trough his fork, Castiel watching him intently as he ate. 

“This is amazing, Cas,” Sam said, helping himself to a second (third?) portion. “Where did you learn this?”

“My brother Balthazar is a Gordon Bleu trained chef,” Castiel simply replied. “He spent some time travelling through France and Italy to find good recipes, and I suppose he thought me the essentials.”

Conversation spun off in the direction of Europe and European literature and Dean thought that he would pass out from the geekiness of his brother and friend.

They all had only one glass of wine each like Responsible Adults so Dean couldn’t blame the alcohol for the fuzzy feeling inside him. Somehow, he was just so damn happy, happy for the fact that two of his favourite people got on so well together, even though it was like they were from different parts of Dean’s world. He had been scared that the reality that he had slowly and painstakingly built up around him was going to crack and crumble the second he let these two main pieces of his lifemeet again, but somehow, they fell into place on either side of him like perfectly matched puzzle pieces.

“Thanks, Cas,” Dean said when Sam had already went home and Cas was putting plastic wrapper over the leftovers.

“What for?” he asks.

“You know. Food and stuff,” Dean mumbles lamely but Cas somehow seemed to get it.

“Anytime, Dean.”

-

“Dean, wake up”

“Mmmmmgh.”

“Dean, we have to go.”

At this, Dean cracked one eye open. Castiel was looming over him, face just a few inches from Dean’s. “Where? ‘s too early,” Dean mumbled before turning over in hopes of going back to sleep. The next second, Dean was on the floor, sheets tousled around him.

“Get up,” Cas said, clapping his hands together. “Coffee’s in the kitchen.”

As it turned out, Castiel needed Dean to drive him outside the city, purposes unknown. Cas was sitting in the passenger seat, two plastic buckets in his lap, staring out the window as the landscape flew by.

“Anytime you’re gonna tell me where we’re going?” Dean asked, stifling a yawn.

“No,” Castiel replied, “turn left here.”

This continued for a while, Cas giving directions while refusing to tell their destination until he suddenly said, “Here, stop here.”

Dean pulled the Impala to a stop on the side of the road. “Here? There’s nothing here, Cas. Just a field.”

“Oh, I know. We’re going to take a short walk.” He picked the buckets up and got out of the car, Dean following after his friend.

“Where are we going?” Dean yelled as Cas started wading through the knee-high grass of the field. “What are we doing?”

“Patience, please,” Cas called back and continued through the grass.

“Well, fuck it,” Dean muttered and threw himself into the sea of grass. The morning dew had yet to disappear, and Dean felt his jeans becoming more and more wet by the minute.

After about ten minutes that felt like an eternity, Castiel had reached the far end of the field, where the transition between grass and forest started. Dean wasn’t far behind, pulling at his soaked jeans as he waded out of the grass.

“Alright Cas, you’ve got to tell me what’s going on,” he grumbled. Wordlessly, Castiel pointed to one of the trees, standing a small distance away from the other ones.

“Apples,” he said and grabbed a bucket and throwing one at Dean, who caught it by the handle.

“Apples? You woke me up this early to pick apples?

“Pie,” Cas said, gripping one of the lower branched and heaving himself up into the tree.

“Oh,” Dean said. Suddenly it didn’t seem like such a bad idea at all.

Castiel was already several branches up in the tree, picking the red apples as he climbed. Dean stayed on the ground, picking up the ones that had fallen and still looked edible.

“Nice view?” he shouted up to Cas, who was a good four meters up in the tree.

“Phenomenal,” came the reply. “I think I can see a few cows.”

“How’s your aim?” Dean yelled back, holding one of the empty buckets up and Castiel snorted.

“Terrible,” he said and Dean laughed.

The first apple hit Dean right in the head. “I’m sorry!” Cas shouted from his place up in the tree whilst not sounding sorry at all.

The second one landed next to Dean’s left foot but the third actually fell into the bucket with a thump. Castiel whooped and Dean did a small victory dance on the spot which he would forever deny ever happened.

The ride home was a messy business with apples on the floor of the Impala and fighting over what music to listen to. At the promise of getting the best apple pie he would ever taste later that day, Dean agreed to listen to Castiel’s weird, acoustic indie music for the rest of the ride.

Cas did however make good on his promise to make Dean the best apple pie he had ever tasted.

“Oh my god,” Dean said through a mouthful of pie, “is this magic?”

Castiel huffed a laugh. “I just put grinded hazelnuts in the bottom. Gives it a richer taste,” he explained and Dean took another bite.

“You’re an angel, dude. Please never leave.”

Cas paused for a second, putting his spoon down. “Speaking of which… I found an apartment. It’s not big but it’s more than good enough for me. There’s even some space for me to put up a small photo studio,” he explained.

Dean’s stomach dropped. “Alright,” he said quietly. “When do you move?”

Scraping some vanilla sauce off his plate, Cas replied, “I have access starting Monday.”

Dean stared. “How did you find one so fast?” he asked and Cas snorted.

“I… let’s say I have some contacts,” he replied mysteriously and Dean didn’t pry. If it was something he didn’t want to get into, it was the giant Novak family and the strange way they worked.

“Do you want some help moving your stuff?” Dean offered and Cas fixed him with his best are you fucking joking glare.

“You let me sleep in your bed for almost a whole week,” Cas said. “There’s no way I’m having you do more things for me.”

Dean shrugged. “I’m just saying. You don’t have a car, how will you get your furniture and stuff to your new place?”

“I’ll just rent one,” Cas replied.

“Waste of money,” Dean said.

“Waste of your time,” Cas said.

They both stared at each other for a minute before breaking eye contact.

“It’s not a favor, man, I’m just helping a friend,” Dean said, scraping the last remains of his pie from the plate. “I’m working until two but after that I’ll definitely help you.”

Cas didn’t reply and Dean knew he’d won.

-

The truth was, Dean didn’t actually want Castiel to move out. They had fallen into a pattern, easy and comfortable and Dean wasn’t about to let it go. Tuesday afternoon did however find him sorting through Castiel’s stuff in the attic of the student’s apartment complex he used to live in.

It was Cas’ day off, so most of his belongings were already boxed up and ready to go, lest for a few exceptions.

“What the hell is this?” Dean asked, holding up what looked like a bright yellow baton.

“Oh, I had forgotten all about that,” Cas replied, taking the stick from Dean’s hands and pressing a button on the side.

A large umbrella unfolded, yellow with small ducks on the fabric on top.

“That is the ugliest fucking umbrella I have ever seen,” Dean told him.

Castiel dropped it into a box. “Saving for a rainy day,” he said and Dean snorted.

The new apartment wasn’t very large, as Castiel had said, but Dean did see the appeal in it. It was a nice location with a nice view and he felt sick the entire time he helped Cas unpack. When all the furniture was in place, taken safely to their destination through the Impala and a borrowed trailer, Cas turned towards Dean, who was opening a box of plates.

“Thank you, Dean. I mean it,” he said and Dean ducked his head.

“No biggie,” he replied. “That’s what friends are for.”

Cas smiled. “I think I can take it from here,” he said. “Thank you again.”

Dean shoved his hands into his pockets. “So… I’ll see you around?” he said awkwardly and Cas nodded.

“How about tomorrow? At that coffee shop close to your house?”

“Great,” Dean grinned and realization hit him like a punch in the face.

He hadn’t wanted Cas to leave because in his twisted mind, he thought that would be the end of their friendship. Which was such a stupid thought that Dean had to resist the urge to slam his head against the brick wall of Cas’ new kitchen.

Of course nothing would change. Cas was still Cas, whether he was in Dean’s apartment or not.

-

Tomorrow came with no Cas in the coffee shop.

Dean checked the time again. He was twenty minutes late and Dean had already finished his Americano.

Cas was thirty minutes late when his phone beeped in his pocket.

I’m sorry something came up and I couldn’t use my phone earlier

what happened? u ok? Dean wrote back and hit ‘send’.

I’m fine can’t talk came the reply five minutes later and that was that. Dean left his empty cup by the table and went home.

-

Three days passed with no sign of Castiel.

“What happened?” Sam asked him on Saturday and Dean honestly didn’t know how to reply.

On Sunday, his phone rang and Dean almost dropped his plate of eggs and bacon as the word CAS was displayed on the flashing screen.

“Hello?” Dean answered and mentally prepared himself for a thousand different scenarios.

Family emergency. That he could deal with.

Work emergency. He would be pissed, but get over it eventually.

Surprise vacation? He would never let Cas live that one down.

“Mother is dead,” Cas said and Dean felt his own heart stop.

“I’m so sorry,” he choked out.

“It was quick,” Cas said on the other end and his voice sounded clipped and cut short, like he had been rehearsing for days before he could pick up the phone. “It was a stroke. Not expected, since she was still fairly young.”

Dean didn’t know what to say.

“I’m sorry I didn’t contact you earlier,” Cas said and Dean balked.

“No- no, don’t say that,” Dean said, too fast for his own mouth. “I understand, I… are you okay?”

Castiel was quiet for a while. “I don’t know. Not really,” he said. “She wasn’t herself toward the end, though. I lost her a long time ago.”

“I’m sorry,” Dean mumbled again and felt useless.

“Me, too,” Cas said. “The funeral is next Friday,” he said, “And the entire Novak clan will be staying here for the week. I probably won’t be able to see you before that.”

“Alright,” Dean replied. “Take care, Cas.”

“I’m sorry, again,” Cas said.

“So am I,” Dean replied and then Cas voice was gone and replaced by the echoing dial tone. The cold eggs and bacon didn’t help him fill the hole that had somehow created in his stomach.

-

Dean worked his way through Monday and Tuesday on pure willpower alone. On Wednesday, it was raining and Dean almost couldn’t see the road in front of him through the downpour.

When he got home to his apartment building, something bright yellow was by the door. He parked his baby as close to the building as he could and dragged the collar of his jacket up over his head, throwing himself out in the downpour.

The yellow blob turned out to be a ridiculous umbrella, held by Castiel in protection from the rain and Dean almost tripped over his own feet.

“Cas, what are you doing here?” he asked while unlocking his front door with shaky hands.

“Spending time with your possibly insane family twenty four hours of the day does take its toll on people” Cas said. “I just needed to get away, only for a little while.”

“Come on up,” Dean said immediately, holding the door open. “I think some of your weird tea is left in a cabinet, if you want some.”

Upstairs, Dean changed out of his drenched clothes while Castiel made tea and he walked out into the living room to the sight of Cas holding an half-empty (he wasn’t in a half-full kind of mood) bottle of scotch.

“I’m not really in the mood for tea,” he said and Dean nodded, grabbing two glasses from the kitchen.

They worked their way through the bottle, keeping their distance from their own side of the sofa. When only a fourth of it was left, they put their legs up on the fabric and their feet touched as they spoke in hushed tones about everything and nothing.

Castiel didn’t mention his mother or family and Dean didn’t pry. Cas didn’t seem like the kind of person who wanted to talk about his problems and Dean was more than okay with that. If there was something he had always been horrible at, it was comforting and talking about feelings. Sam used to call him emotionally retarded.

They worked their way through the bottle and Dean was thinking about pulling out a few beers from the fridge, but Cas was slurring, tangling his legs together with Dean’s.

At one point, Castiel tugged at the front of Dean’s shirt, making him lean over their tangled legs and feet until they were almost face to face.

“You have pretty eyes,” Cas said and then Dean’s lips was covered by Castiel’s and it was short and brief and he could taste the alcohol on Cas’ lips and Dean found himself leaning in for more and oh god what was happening.

They broke apart with a smack and Dean found himself staring into the blue of Castiel’s eyes. Then their mouths were on each other’s again, exploring and tasting and licking and they were stumbling in the direction of the bedroom, tugging and tearing at each other’s clothes.

“I want you,” Dean said. “I’ve wanted you for so fucking long. Oh my God, this is happening,” Dean mumbled into Cas’ mouth.

“Shhh,” he whispered back and then fucking dropped to his knees and everything that came out of Dean’s mouth after that was utter gibberish.

Afterward, when they were both down from their high and cleaned up, they drifted off to alcohol-induced sleep together, Castiel’s arms wrapped around him like a cocoon, and Dean’s last though was that this was too good to be true.

-

When he woke up to a pounding head and the intense urge to throw up his first though that his bed was cold and that Cas wasn’t there.

Why would Cas be there?

As he hurled yesterday’s lunch into the toilet, realization hit him like a punch in the gut.

The hangover. Castiel. Why the sheets were rumbled and smelled like sweat and sex.

He slept with Cas.

That’s what happened.

He slept with his best friend.

Dean called in sick and spent the day in bed. The sheets smelled faintly like coconut and he wondered if it was Castiel’s shampoo.

He didn’t notice the water and aspirin left on the nightstand, bubbles slowly forming on the inside of the glass.

-

He didn’t hear from Castiel again for three more days. He didn’t call because he didn’t know what to say and he didn’t drive to Cas’ apartment because he didn’t know what to do.

Instead he dragged himself through work and quiet evenings alone and didn’t answer the phone when Sam called.

On Sunday, he sat with his phone in his hand and considered calling before grabbing the keys to the Impala and driving to Castiel’s apartment. He stood in front of the door separating them for a few minutes, wondering whether he should hope that Castiel was in or not.

Taking a deep breath, he pressed the bell and heard it echo through the space on the other side of the door. Footsteps quickly approached and Dean had to fight the urge to run away on sight. Then the door swung open and Dean was face to face with a very massy-haired Castiel, wearing sweatpants and a worn to hell T-shirt.

“Hey,” Dean said lamely.

“Hello,” Cas replied, pulling a hand through his hair.

“How was the funeral?” Dean asked and it was so awkward he wanted to crawl out of his own skin.

Cas sighed. “It was nice. Very quiet and still.”

Dean shifted his weight and shoved his hands into his pockets. “That’s, uh, good.”

They were both quiet.

“So, about the other night,” Dean started and Cas’ eyes widened, just a little. “We should just… forget about it, right? Pretend it never happened.”

Cas just looked at him for a while and Dean shifted his weight again, uncomfortable under Cas’ stare.

“I… Yes. We should,” Cas said and Dean nodded quickly.

“Well, I’ve got some stuff to do,” he lied, “so I’ll see you around, Cas.”

Castiel looked down at his feet. “Yes. I’ll see you, Dean.”

Dean walked away, feeling emptier than ever.

-

Later, Dean thought about how strange it is that one person could seem to make everything in your life fall into place and then make it all turn up side down the minute they’re gone.

Nothing was different, not really, but Dean hated it. It was too quiet and peaceful and when he found Castiel’s forgotten book under the sofa, he wanted more than anything to throw it out the window.

He worked extra to fill the time with other thoughts than those of Castiel and the fact that once more, Dean fucked everything up without really trying. Bobby watched him with a concerned look on his face through the entire week and Dean pretended he didn’t notice.

Star Trek is on TV on Friday and Dean thought about calling Cas. He never did, just heated up the pizza from yesterday and watched Die Hard because Star Trek just isn’t the same without Cas next to him, explaining the different camera angles and sprouting random trivia about the show that no one with their sanity still intact should need to learn.

“You’re a fucking idiot,” Sam told him when Dean couldn’t take it anymore and explained everything through the phone, then Sam hung up.

“Tell me something I didn’t know,” Dean mumbled to himself and cracked open a bottle of beer.

He called Sam again, asking for an explanation.

“He didn’t want to forget, you complete and utter fuck-up,” Sam said and it’s like a slap in the face. “I’ve known about your little crush for months, and I’ve suspected that he feels the same way about you. No one could put up with your shit the way he does,” he finished and Dean made an undignified noise.

“Are you sure?” he asked and suddenly he could feel his heart thrumming in his ears and he thought he might pass out.

Dean was in the Impala before he could rethink, blasting Zeppelin as he drove. In less than ten minutes, he was standing in front of Castiel’s door again, doorbell just pushed. Suddenly, this seemed like a terrible idea.

The door swung open and he was once again face to face with Cas, holding a large polaroid camera in one hand.

“Cas, I’m sorry,” Dean breathed. “I was so stupid and thick and I thought that you wanted to forget but I want you to know that I really don’t. I fucked up so bad,” he said and it’s like a river of confessions pouring from his chest, an unstoppable force and the words just keep coming. “I thought that you thought that it was a mistake. It wasn’t, not for me. I’ve wanted that for so long and then I just ruined everything and I’m sorry. I understand if you don’t want anything to do with me, just please… Even if you don’t come back, I won’t stop waiting for you,” Dean finished and Castiel opened his mouth to reply.

That’s the exact second a blonde head pokes out of a room behind Castiel. “You coming, Cassie?” the man asks in a perfect British accent. Oh.

“Well, uh, never mind,” Dean said quickly and practically ran down the echoey stairs, Castiel’s voice shouting his name behind him.

He spent a few hours just driving around, his thoughts starting with What Went Wrong With Castiel, which turned into What Went Wrong With Dad to What Went Wrong With Me. In the end, he had riled himself up to the point of hysteria and he had to stop the car and breathe for a few minutes.

Sam called twice and Dean didn’t pick up. Instead, he went back to his apartment, getting himself spectacularly drunk in front of a bad rom com on TV.

When he called in sick the next day, Bobby didn’t ask what was wrong but Dean could almost hear him thinking it.

His hangover was the worst he’d had in a long time and Dean spent most of his day curled up in bed or hunched over the toilet seat. When the doorbell rang, he only just managed to pull a pair of sweatpants on before stumbling to the door.

Impossibly blue eyes met his when he swung the door open and Dean almost jumped out of his skin.

“Cas,” He said, pulling on the frayed edge of his T-shirt.

“Brother,” Castiel blurted. “That was my brother Balthazar you saw. He was staying here a few days extra after the funeral,” he added and Dean wanted to smack himself for his own stupidity. He had immediately though the worst, that Castiel was sleeping with someone else and jumped to the wrong conclusions.

“And… you were right, you know.” Castiel said, almost shyly.

Dean stared. “You… you don’t want to forget what happened happened?” he said, incredulously.

Cas huffed a small laugh. “Well, that too. I was thinking about the ‘you’re an idiot’ part. I’ve wanted this too, you know, probably since that day in the park.”

Then Dean was pulling on Castiel’s trench coat, pulling him close and pressing a tentative kiss against his lips. Cas’ lips were slightly chapped but Dean didn’t mind.

Cas shoved him away after a few seconds. “Go take a shower. You smell worse than the junkyard,” he said, pushing Dean in the direction of the shower. “I’ll make some food, if you want.”

“I’d like that,” Dean said, pulling his shirt of as he walked towards the bathroom.

When he was done, smelling like soap and shampoo, a plate of toast was put in his hands and Dean flopped down on the sofa in the living room. He patted the space next to him, then waved his fork in the general direction of Castiel.

“C’mere,” he said and Cas stalked over, carrying his own plate of food, sitting down next to Dean. Some quiz show was on TV and they playfully competed their way through the questions. Castiel won by far and Dean gave him a kiss as a prize. Somehow, they ended up tangled together on the couch after that, hands travelling and exploring under each other’s shirts, mouths never breaking contact other than for breathing purposes.

Cas didn’t stay the night. He had an early morning shift at the animal shelter the next day and needed to go home, he told Dean. Before he left, he gave Dean one last kiss on the lips before asking, “Where does this leave us?”

Dean was fazed. “What do you mean?”

“I mean,” and Dean could swear Cas was blushing. “Are we… courting each other?”

Dean laughed and pulled Cas into his arms, resting his head on the other man’s shoulder. “If you want to, then yes, we are ‘courting each other’, though I would like to call it ‘going out’.”

“I’d like that,” Cas said and Dean smiled.

“That’s settled, then.”

He called Sam later, talking about Jess (he still hadn’t made a move, the little whuss) and the growing puppy and right before they said goodbye and hung up, Dean blurted out “Also me and Castiel are going out,” and Sam sputtered on the other end.

“But weren’t you fighting yesterd-“ he started and Dean quickly interrupted him.

“The times, they are a-changing,” he said, adding “Bye Sammy,” before hanging up on his brother.

His phone beeped later with a I’m not sure what’s going on but I’m happy for you, quickly followed by a Please tell me what happened.

Dean typed back mutual orgasms does wonders and cackled to himself as he imagined Sam’s horrified face.

He fell asleep that night with Castiel’s smell on his skin and a smile on his lips.

-

Dating Castiel, it turned out, was easier than being friends with Castiel once all the sexual tension between them had been resolved.

Castiel had a sensitive spot under his ear which begged to be kissed and sucked on at all times and he was also amazing at giving blow jobs, something that Dean didn’t mind in the least.

Afterwards, they would lay together, tracing fingers over each other’s skins like empty canvases and whispering hushed words into each other’s ears, words only meant for the two of them. Dean would hold Castiel like he was a prize, a cherished possession that he’d won out of pure luck rather than something deserved to keep and Cas always stroked the length of Dean’s spine right before he went to sleep.

Castiel cooked and Dean did the dished, just like all those weeks ago and their pattern rom then was easy to resume.

(“What the hell is that?” Dean asked one day when Castiel was bent over the kitchen counter, cutting up what looked like wet cheese. “It’s tofu, Dean. It’s good for you,” Castiel replied and Dean snorted. “It looks like a freaking sponge.”)

-

“I’m practicing,” Castiel said as he once again shoved his camera in Dean’s face.

“Sure you are,” he replied, pulling a face into the camera lens.

Castiel stuck his tongue out and Dean laughed. “I also want lots of pictures of your face. For art,” he smiled.

“Why do you need pictures?” Dean asked. “You can look at me any time you want.”

Castiel shrugged. “I know. Just an old habit, I suppose. In college, I used to take pictures of everything that reminded me of nice memories or things that made me happy,” he explained. “I had a wall full of them in my dorm.”

“You were a photography major, right? I suppose it makes sense then,” Dean said.

Cas nodded, fiddling with the strap of his camera. “What about you?”

 “College? Never went,” Dean shrugged.

“How come?”

“Not really my thing, you know. I never was one for studying and tests. That was all Sammy, getting straight A’s all the way from start to finish.”

Castiel smiled a little. “Dean don’t need no education?”

Dean laughed. “Exactly.”

“You should though. The way you work with the cars, you’d be a perfect engineer.”

“Nah, I’m pretty happy the way I am, actually.”

“Really? You should think about it. There’s so many possibilities for you, I mean you’re clearly very intelligent.”

Dean could almost feel himself going sour. “You know what, Cas? That’s none of your goddamn business. Just because you had someone paying your fancy education doesn’t mean you can just walk in and tell me what to do.”

Looking into Cas wide eyes, Dean immediately regretted his words. The hurt in them was like a punch in the gut. But it was too late, Cas was already untangling himself from Dean’s grip and walking towards the door.

“Never mind then. You keep that up, pushing people away as soon as they start to actually care about you. It’s foolproof, really.” And with those words, Castiel grabbed his trench coat from the hook by the door and slammed it behind him before Dean had the chance to reply.

Burying his face in his hands, Dean sighed. “Well, shit.”

It was still raining when he found Cas. He was standing under a tree, yellow umbrella folded out over his head. Dean slowed down as he approached him, water dripping down from his hair into his eyes, making it difficult to see clearly.

“Hey, Cas.” No reaction.

“Cas, I’m sorry. And wet, I forgot my umbrella.” Nothing.

“Please talk to me?” At this, Castiel sighed and motioned for Dean to come stand under the shelter of his ridiculous umbrella.

Dean inched closer until they were standing next to each other, arms pressed together.

“This is kinda difficult to talk about, so bear with me, okay?” Dean started and Castiel looked directly at him for the first time, eyes prompting him to go on. “When I grew up, I had to make sure Sammy had it all, education, friends, everything. That he wouldn’t miss out on anything a kid should have just because our dad was a major fuck-up.” Dean paused and took a breath before he continued. “I had to make some sacrifices, I guess. Food on the table every night was more important than me getting an education. As long as I had a job, that was good enough. I would have loved to go to college, not for the studying maybe, but for the opportunities that it would give. But I succeeded in the most important thing; I got Sammy into law school like he always wanted. Or rather, he got himself into law school. I’d like to think that I helped there. And that’s good enough for me.”

Castiel just looked at him for a while before speaking.

“I was going to go to Yale. Got a full ride, I was gonna be a journalist, like I wanted.”

“What happened?” Dean asked, gripping the end of Cas’ sleeve between his index finger and thumb.

“I had an older brother who took care of us when Father disappeared. His name was Michael, and he died in a car crash four years ago, right after I graduated from high school. Anna was only sixteen.” He fell silent for a while and Dean didn’t push him.

“I stayed here, went to college in Kansas City and helped out as much as I could at home. There’s nothing I regret more that not going, not taking the chance I had, and that’s why I pushed you. I’m sorry, Dean.”

“Me too,” Dean mumbled, and then he was in Cas’ arms, just a quick embrace before it was gone. He found himself missing the warmth.

“We should go back. The rain seems to be picking up,” Castiel said and Dean realized he was right. It was practically pouring down, water running down the street, looking for an open well to disappear into.

They ran back to the apartment, huddled close together under Castiel’s stupid umbrella and for once, everything was okay.

-

 “I love you,” Castiel blurted once when they were in IKEA picking out a new coffee table for Dean’s apartment (Dean would like to think that it would also be used in their apartment but he wasn’t going to rush things).

Dean almost choked and died on thin air.

He was about to open his mouth and say something when Cas put a finger over lip lips. “Don’t,” he says. “Not if you’re not ready.”

Dean hooked his thumbs in Castiel’s belt loops and kissed him right on the spot, wondering what good deeds he had done in some past life to deserve someone like Cas.

Castiel responded eagerly to the kiss before pulling away.

“Now, what do you think about the Latte Crème? Or maybe the Frost one?” Cas asked, holding up two colour sheets and Dean smiled and said, “Whatever you want is fine,” and that was all it was to it. Quick, simple and Dean thought that it was possible that he’d never been happier in his life.

-

They met up with Sam at a college bar, Castiel wearing his best dress shirt and Dean an old Zeppelin T-shirt.

They found Sam quite quickly, the giant that he was, but Dean almost dropped his jaw when he saw the girl standing next to his little brother.

“Hello,” she smiled, holding out a hand. “I’m Jess.”

“Nice to meet you, Jess,” Dean said, shaking her hand. “I’m Dean, Sam’s brother and I would suppose that this is your last chance to pick the right Winchester,” he grinned.

Sam sighed and rolled his eyes and Castiel shoved his shoulder. Dean gave his boyfriend a smile and a wink to tell him that he was joking.

“I’m Castiel,” Cas said, taking Jess’ outstretched hand. “Pleasure to meet you. I heard you were a literature major?” he asked and then the rest of the night was just a blur of Dostoyevsky and H.C Anderson and Dean getting a headache.

When the bar started to empty out, Dean leaned over and put his mouth close to Castiel’s ear.

“You’re cute when you’re geeking out,” he whispered and Castiel turned his head and kissed him under the ceiling spotlights.

“You think?” Castiel whispered back.

“Yeah,” Dean murmured, pressing a kiss to Cas’ cheek. “And you know what?”

“What?” Cas smiled and Dean felt the movement of his cheeks against his own lips.

“I love you, too.”