I think I’m a ghost. No one ever seems to see me at all.
Dean frowned, staring down at the first page of the book that he’d found on top of the lockers, pushed back out of sight. He’d never have found it at all, if Sam hadn’t taken his Physics textbook and hidden it up there, just to show off that he was taller than Dean now.
I don’t talk to anyone and no one talks to me. It’s not that they don’t like me, it’s that they don’t seem to see me at all. I swear I really am a ghost.
Dean stopped reading, frowning. Was this supposed to be an actual diary, or some kind of story? He checked the front cover of the book for a name, a clue to whom it might belong - but found nothing. He opened it up again.
One day, I think I’m just going to stand up and walk right out of class. And no one will even look up. I’m going to walk out of class and never come back and not one person at this school will miss me. And I won’t miss any of them, either. Except…
Dean leaned back against his locker and flipped the page, his attention caught. He wondered briefly whether he should stop reading - but then he got a glimpse of the next few words, and his curiosity escalated out of control.
… there is one boy. Dean Winchester, his name is Dean Winchester. I don’t know what it is about him that’s different - he talks just like all the others, acts just like them, dresses just like them…
Dean looked down at his jeans and letterman jacket ensemble indignantly - and then another guy walked past wearing the exact same jeans, down to the inch of the turn-up. Dean sighed. Fine, so it seemed like the writer of this book might be onto something.
… but there’s something in his eyes - I look at him, sometimes, and he looks back, and it’s like - it’s like finally being seen. It’s stupid. He’s probably just zoning out. Part of me wants to talk to him but I know he’ll just laugh at me, especially if it’s in front of his friends. At least this way, I get to imagine that he really wants to look at me.
“Dean?” said a voice, and Dean snapped the book closed, jerking upright. Charlie Bradbury stood in front of him, eyebrows raised. “If that’s porn,” she said, “of the kind that I would enjoy, then I want to see.”
“It’s not,” Dean said truthfully, but she looked like she didn’t believe him. “Really! It’s…” Part of Dean wanted to keep the diary to himself - but the idea of sharing the fact that he had a secret admirer was just too tempting to ignore. “It’s a diary, look. And on the second page, here… it’s all about me!”
Charlie frowned and leaned around to read, her eyebrows raising higher and higher.
“Dude,” she said. “I think someone has a crush on you.”
“I know!” Dean said, a little too loudly, drawing the attention of everyone around him. He lowered his voice. “But who could it be?”
“Well, Mr Stares-A-Lot, why don’t you tell me?”
“Apparently, you’ve been making eyes at them, whoever they are,” Charlie said. “Who could that be?”
“I…” Dean began, and then closed his mouth. He wasn’t sure. The school they went to was huge, and he barely knew anyone - kept his circle of friends close, and didn’t stray much beyond them. There were a few people who caught his eye occasionally - one guy, the blue-eyed one from his Physics class, stood out especially - but no, it couldn’t be him. Surely he had a ton of friends, and the writer of the diary had none.
“What, have you been eyeing up the entire school?” Charlie said. “C’mon, there can’t be that many objects of your affection.”
“Well… I might… nah, it’s nothing.”
“So, what’s their name?”
“It’s - it’s - no, really, it’s nothing.”
“Come on,” Charlie said, nudging him. “You might as well tell me.”
“I’ve never spoken to him -”
“Ooooooh, him. ”
“Him,” Dean confirmed. “It’s - his name is Castiel. He’s in my Physics class.”
Charlie was grinning.
“Time to get physical with Physics boy,” she said, tipping him a large wink, which made the pink rise to Dean’s cheeks. “So, why don’t you ask if this is his?”
“What?! No way.”
“Come on, Dean! You said you liked him. It might be his.”
“Yeah, but… c'mon, Charlie, be real. It’s just wishful thinking,” Dean said, closing the diary again. “It won’t be who I want it to be, so I’m not gonna look into it. At least, you know…” Dean swallowed. “At least this way, I get to imagine it’s him.”
“That makes no sense,” Charlie said tartly. “Sounds like something the wilting heroine of a bad romance movie would say.”
Dean rolled his eyes, and then draped the back of his hand to his forehead.
“I’m wilting,” he said, stumbling back into his locker gracefully. “I’m wilting, Charlie!”
Charlie batted his arm, a little play-punch.
“Got to get to English,” she said. “You?”
“ Oooooooh. See you after?”
They parted, Charlie offering him a chirpy wave as she left. Dean headed straight to Physics, unable to stop himself poring over the book.
Dean’s taller than I am, and he’s got muscles from playing sports. He makes this face when he’s answering a question, sometimes… I don’t know why I’m writing this down. Who am I telling? Maybe me. Me from the future. Dear me from the future, please remember the way that Dean smiles when he gets an answer right.
Dean walked into Physics class, absorbed in the pages - he was the first to the room, so he took his usual seat and kept reading.
I’ve never felt this way about anyone. It’s stupid, because I barely know him and I have no idea if anything would ever work between us. That doesn’t stop me wanting to kiss him.
Dean was blushing, his cheeks afire. He’d never had anyone crush on him like this before, not that he’d known about, anyway - and it felt amazing. Especially when he could picture a pair of bright blue eyes reading over the words as the ink dried.
But dreaming like that is the stupidest thing of all. Because I’m just a ghost. Ghosts don’t get to kiss real people.
I wish I could. He is very beautiful.
Dean could feel his heart aching for this person, whoever they were. He wanted to hold their hand, at least, and tell them that they were real. Tell them that he could see them.
The rest of the class began to pile into the room, and Dean quickly stowed the diary away in his bag, pulling out his Physics textbook.
Castiel came in and sat down, in the same place he always did - all the way across the classroom from Dean, but with clear space between them - no one blocking their eyeline if they wanted to look at each other. Dean stared at him, now, trying to detect some sign of worry, some hint that Castiel might be missing his diary. He could find no evidence to suggest Castiel was even mildly put out - but then, Dean had only just found the diary. Maybe Castiel didn’t realise anyone had taken it, yet.
Dean felt a twinge of guilt. Whoever the diary belonged to was going to be going crazy with worry once they realised it was gone. He should really put it back - no, but he’d disturbed the pages, ruffled them, moved the book. He’d never be able to conceal that he’d read it. No, he’d keep it with him, read it all - and then write the owner a letter, tonight, to tell them that it was alright. He’d read it, but he wasn’t going to tell anyone.
Or perhaps he shouldn’t read it. After all, it was an invasion of privacy...
Even when he wasn't actually reading the book, the lure of the writer’s crush on him was too strong to resist. Dean was already burning to open it again.
He looked over at Castiel, and met his eyes. Normally, Dean would only let the gaze hold for a few seconds before looking away - but today, he let it linger. If the writer really was Castiel, Dean thought, then he needed this. If not, Dean looked a little creepy - but it was worth it, just in case. I can see you, Dean tried to say with his eyes. You’re not a ghost.
Dean didn’t know what Castiel’s gaze said in return - but he didn’t look away.
I don’t know when I first noticed that Dean was beautiful. I think it was when I accidentally overheard him talking to one of the lower years when he found her crying. He was so kind. I’ve never seen someone be so kind....
Today he was only a few yards away from me, drinking a coffee and reading a book, and he didn’t even notice me. If he actually liked me, wouldn’t he have noticed? Wouldn’t he have smiled at me, or something? I always knew that he could never truly feel anything for me, but part of me wanted to believe...
He looked at me again today, in class. There’s something there, I swear it. I can’t describe it - it’s like when I look at him, it’s charged with electricity - like we’re galvanising each other, somehow. He answered two questions right. He smiled both times. This is terrible. I wish it would stop...
Dean read through the whole diary as soon as he got home from school, losing himself in the writer’s world. It wasn’t all about Dean - his name came up fairly regularly, but he wasn’t their whole life. They talked about music, art, food; their opinion on all things from baths to bees to flower crowns (in favour of all, though without confidence); their little habits, their frustrations, the arguments they had with their parents. Dean found himself, quite despite his own intentions, falling half in love with the person in the pages. They were so non-judgmental, so kind, despite their loneliness.
I need a new diary, read the last entry. I’ve filled this one up. There are so many pages. I know that it should be enough - that this ending should mean a letting go - but when I look at him across the room, I feel as though I could fill a hundred more books. I wish I knew what he was really like.
Dean closed the diary, letting himself re-enter the real world slowly, deep in thought. The person who wrote this - God, Dean hoped he knew who it was, but he just couldn’t be even close to certain - Dean wanted to meet them. He wanted to talk to them. But it was unfair to arrange a meeting with someone if they were anyone but - but Castiel, right? He would only have to turn them away; his crush was bad enough by now that he couldn't even imagine trying to think about being with someone else. This person, whoever they were, was already so isolated; they had no one to help them move through a heartbreak. Dean couldn’t damage them too much. He had to be careful.
After more than half an hour of silent thought, he got up, and found a pen and paper.
Dear Diarist, he wrote.
My name is Dean Winchester, and I read your diary. I should start off by apologizing. I know I shouldn’t have read it. I was going to leave it when I saw my name, and I just - I kept going. I’m so sorry. Maybe you feel like this has ruined everything. I’m sorry.
I want to tell you that I loved reading the diary. I don’t get to feel noticed all that often, either, though I guess my problem isn’t as bad as yours. I don’t think you can really be a ghost, you know.
I want to meet you, really badly. But you see, it's complicated. The thing is, there’s someone that I hope this diary is written by. Because... I have a crush too. I'm nervous of meeting you and then having to let you down, if you aren't the person I hope you are. I'm worried that I'll be too disappointed to help you right. I want to be able to be there for you because even if we can't get together, you sound like you need a friend and I can be that.
The only thing I can think of is this: come to the place where we have class together. Come after school today. I’ll be waiting in my seat. If you’re the person I think you are, you’ll know what I mean and I’ll see you there. We can talk?
If not - if you go to the wrong place and I’m not there - I’m so sorry. I think we’ll both need some time to deal with our disappointment. But thirty minutes after school ends, I’ll go to the bleachers. You can meet me there and we can talk about it. Or, you know, you can always come and find me at school anytime. I’ll always want to talk with you.
There are loads of things I want to tell you - things about how I feel, things about me - things to make up for how much more I know than you do. But it doesn’t seem right to share that stuff before knowing if - well, if you’ll be there tomorrow.
Thank you for thinking I’m worth something.
The last sentence was too much. Dean crossed it out. He folded the letter in half, and then put it inside the diary. He’d return it to its place tomorrow.
The classes he had the next day couldn’t pass quickly enough. Dean had left the diary up on the top of the lockers, poking out over the edge to catch the attention of the writer - he hoped. He didn’t have Physics for another two days, and whilst he kept an eye out for Castiel in the halls, Dean didn’t see him once - nor did he see anyone who looked at him particularly significantly, or angrily, or hopefully. He had no idea how the writer of the diary would feel when they read the letter. Happy, that Dean wanted to meet? Angry, that he’d read the diary? Nervous, that they wouldn’t be the right one, wouldn’t go to the right place?
Probably a mix of a hundred things, Dean thought, just like himself.
He felt a little unwell with nerves, and avoided all his friends - he didn’t think he could talk about his plan, but he also couldn’t seem to think about anything else. Lunch came and went, and the afternoon classes passed with a painful slowness. Dean was seriously trying to move the clock hands faster with his mind by the time English, his last class, came around.
“Winchester!” said a sharp voice, and Dean jerked, his attention demanded by Miss Mills. The call back to reality after a day of almost feverish dreaming grated on him.
“Yes, Miss Mills?” Dean said.
“What is the literary device called in which the letter ‘s’ is repeated at the start of words?” Miss Mills asked, shooting a sharp stare that had Dean suddenly sitting up straight.
“Sibilance?” he ventured uncertainly, and Mrs Mills accepted his answer with an affirmatory nod.
“And other letters?”
“Alliteration,” Dean said, more surely.
“Hmm. And the device by which an author holds the readers back from the climax of the action, in order to increase the tension?”
“Um… suspense, Miss Mills?” Dean said, and Miss Mills nodded.
“Good,” she said. “Very good.” The bell rang, jarringly loud as always; Dean’s heart leapt. “You may go.”
He couldn’t get out of the classroom fast enough. He hared through the corridors, running all the way to the Science classrooms - and stopped outside the one with the sign on the door that read, Physics.
Dean lifted his hand, and then clenched his fist, and lowered it. He tried to prepare himself for the worst. The diary was already full; there was no reason for the writer to have gone looking for it and seen the letter, unless they saw it poking out over the top of the lockers. Plus, there were thousands of pupils at the high school; the chances of it being one - specifically, the one that Dean liked back - were microscopically small.
Dean sighed. Enough forced misery. He was as prepared as he could be.
He pushed open the door.
He stepped through it.
Was no one.
Dean let out a long breath.
He had run here, as soon as class had ended. He’d wait for a few minutes - five, ten maybe - just to make sure.
He hated to think of his ghost writer out there somewhere, alone, hoping that he’d turn up - and he’d be here, hoping Castiel would turn up. Two separate aching hearts.
Dean shook his head. It was still possible that that wasn’t true.
But the seconds ticked by… and then the minutes.
Fifteen minutes since class had ended.
Dean got up, and went to stand by the window. He looked out over the fields behind the school, keeping his mouth set tight so that he wouldn’t cry. He wouldn’t cry. He wasn’t - God, he wasn’t some wilting heroine in a bad romance novel. He’d only found the diary yesterday. It couldn’t already mean so much - that was to say, he’d liked Castiel for some time before all this, and the two things had got all interwoven, but now he’d just have to unpick them - this didn’t mean he had no chance with Castiel, after all, he thought angrily, wiping his cheek. It only meant that the person who wrote the diary was not Castiel, and he was not going to -
A voice that Dean had never heard before.
Castiel never spoke in class.
It was low, and a little rough, and serious. Dean closed his eyes, taking a moment to beg, beg, beg the universe to be good to him…
He turned around.
Standing in front of him, with the diary clutched in one of his hands and a loose piece of paper - Dean’s letter - in the other, looking nervous and hopeful and disbelieving and happy and lost and confused all at once, standing there, standing there - was Castiel.
The blue-eyed boy from Dean’s Physics class. The one he’d had a crush on for who knew how long.
The writer of the diary.
The one who had said all those things, thought all those things about Dean.
The one Dean had hoped, so badly, to see here. And - somehow - here he was.
He was here.
“It’s really you,” Castiel murmured. He was frowning, his eyes betraying the depth of his feeling. “I thought it might be a prank - I waited outside to see if they would get bored and leave - but it’s… it’s really… you.”
Dean found that he couldn’t summon words. He opened his mouth, closed it again, smiled as best he could and held out his hands in a strange, awkward, ‘here I am’ gesture.
“It’s me,” he managed. “And…” He swallowed; his voice was croaky. “And it’s you.”
Castiel was shaking his head.
“This can’t be real,” he said. “This must be a joke. You can’t really have been waiting here, not for...”
His mouth seemed to catch over it - ‘me’, that little word - as though to speak of his own self out loud would be wrong. Dean took a step forward.
“I am,” he said. He stepped forward again, letting impulse carry him, wanting to hold Castiel, to look at him, to make him feel seen and noticed and valued and cared for and - and everything that Castiel had made Dean feel, with his diary. He took Castiel’s hand in his own. “I am, I swear. This isn’t a joke.”
Castiel looked down at his hand inside Dean’s; Dean, worried he’d been too forward, made to drop it - but Castiel’s fingers curled suddenly, wrapping around Dean’s.
"Swear it," Castiel said.
Dean looked right into his eyes.
"I swear," he said seriously. "I swear. I came here for you."
Castiel looked at him for a long, long second. He was frowning, still disbelieving.
“But - but - you don’t even know me,” he said.
Dean almost laughed.
“I don’t know you?” he said. “Please."
Castiel's frown only deepened. Dean squared his shoulders, and spoke again.
"I know... your name is Castiel Novak."
Castiel's eyebrows raised. Dean's urge to laugh only increased. Castiel had thought that Dean didn't even know his name.
"I know that you have blue eyes. And you’re smart and you’re - you’re - beautiful,” he said, using the same word as Castiel, almost shamefacedly, but unable to think of another one that did him justice. He kept talking, letting out the words that begged to be said. “And I also know, now, that you, uh. You like flower crowns, but you think you wouldn’t look good in one. I gotta disagree with you there. And you like bees, and bubble baths. And I know you had a cold last semester and couldn’t talk for a week, and you wished you had the power of telepathy so that you wouldn’t have to keep explaining through mime. I know - I know you make me laugh with how you think about stuff and the way you describe things. I know I like you a lot. I know…” he took a breath. “I know that you feel like nobody can see you. Like you’re a ghost. But I came here to tell you that - that you were right with what you said about me - about there being, uh, something between us. I’ve been thinking about you for so long, and I was always too - yeah, I didn’t - I couldn’t make the move, but - but right from the first time I saw you, I saw you, OK? That’s what I wanted to say.”
Dean shut his mouth up tight. He’d been planning bits of that out in his head all day, and it had come out messy and stupid all the same, but at least he’d managed to say the most important things. Castiel looked almost windswept, as though Dean’s words had passed over him like a hurricane.
“And I’m sorry,” Dean added suddenly. “I’m sorry for reading the diary. I shouldn’t have done it. I just… I kept imagining it was you who was writing it, and I couldn’t stop wanting to hear what you thought. I just kept promising myself, one page more, but - I couldn’t get enough. I’m sorry, Castiel. I’ll make up for it. If you'll let me. If you want me to.”
Castiel finally seemed to find his voice - that low, low voice.
“I’m not angry,” he said, seeming numb, not meeting Dean's eyes. “I’m - I’m astonished. I can’t believe you wanted to read it. I thought you’d find it… creepy, or -”
“What?” Dean said, startled. “No way. I was the creep. You were just - just - having a crush. So unless having a crush makes you a creep…”
There was a beat of silence; their eyes met, and held.
“If so,” Castiel said, “then I am still very... creepy.”
He smiled triumphantly at the blush that rose to Dean’s freckled cheeks, and the way Dean ducked his head.
“Really?” Dean said softly. It was one thing to see the words written; it was another thing to hear Castiel, Castiel Novak, saying that he had a crush on him, out loud.
Castiel’s smile relaxed, a touch of dryness at the corners.
“Did I not make it clear enough in the diary?” he asked. “I thought I was quite descriptive.”
“You were - it was -” Dean said, and couldn’t find an adjective that worked, so he stopped. “Well,” he said instead, “I - I…” He was flustered, wordless. He looked down at their hands, his and Castiel’s, twined together. He couldn’t believe it. And yet that hand in his was so warm, so real - so... believable.
“Castiel,” Dean said. He looked up into Castiel’s eyes, into his face - inside his personal space, close, but not nearly as close as Dean wanted it. “Cas, listen. Thank you for, uh. For saying those things. I didn't know anyone was, you know... paying attention? Least of all someone like you.”
Castiel lifted a shoulder. He had his head tipped in a way that just seemed to invite Dean closer, closer…
“I’m just a ghost writer,” he said. Dean looked into his eyes, then - into those blue eyes, full of real thoughts and real feelings and real, real, real.
“No one falls in love with ghosts,” Dean said. Castiel went still, so far inside Dean’s space that Dean felt his breath stop. “Because no one can see them.”
“No,” Castiel agreed. He looked worried. His gaze flicked between Dean’s eyes, trying to read him.
“Well. You can’t be a ghost, then,” Dean said. He brought his hand up and, tentatively, cupped Castiel’s cheek. “Because I can see you. And, Cas…" He screwed up all the courage that he had, every last bit. Castiel's eyes, locked on his, gave him strength. "Cas... I’m falling in love with you.”
They did not speak for a long time, after that.
When, six months later, Dean found Castiel’s second diary under his box of flower crowns - when he flicked to the right page, permission to read them always granted - he found a simple entry.
I don’t think I am a ghost after all.
Dean Winchester can see me. I kissed him! And he kissed me, too. He tasted - I can’t describe it. It’s a new taste that I’ll call ‘Dean’. It tasted like… how I imagined love might taste, sweet but not all sweet, but good. It felt so right. I wanted to kiss him and kiss him and kiss him, and so I did! And he kissed me back!
I believe - it sounds so young and stupid to write it, but - I think I'm falling for him. Truly, now, with more to know than just how he looks, how he acts in little moments. It feels like burning in my chest, but good.
I would not stop it. Not for anything.
Dean closed diary with a smile. He did not need to read the rest. All of Castiel’s love these days was on his lips, spoken aloud. He hid nothing; he said it all.
Dean tucked the book away and headed downstairs to find Castiel; to taste love on his lips again.