"Are you sure you don't want a beer?"
Castiel looked across the small table at the sweating bottle in Dean's fist. "I dislike the taste of alcohol," he said.
"You didn't seem to mind doing shots with Ellen," Sam pointed out. He was sucking on lite beer from the can, his third of the night, and his eyes were actually starting to wander Impressive, Dean thought, that his beer goggles were starting to kick in before Dean's own. Truth was, the place was sort of a dive. He didn't see a pretty girl in the vicinity. There were some skinny bikers and a couple of round-faced and round-bellied thirtysomethings wearing fringe on their cowboy boots, but nothing that appealed. The one Sam was checking out wasn't bad, but she wasn't Dean's type. Too brainy-chick.
The liquid courage had apparently sunk in nicely, because Sam got up. "I'm gonna--" He finished his sentence with a grin and a swig. "'Scuse me, guys." He put down the can and turned, heading straight for Brainy Smurfette.
Dean laughed and lifted his bottle in a toast to them. "Go Sammy, it's your birthday," he cheered.
Castiel watched, waiting until Sam was out of earshot before leaning forward. "So he's going to attempt to--"
"Cas, if you say the word fornicate one more time, I swear I'm going to be sick."
Castiel shut up quickly.
"Actually," Dean said after a minute, "this is a good trend. Sam needs to loosen up more. I mean, you have an excuse for being a total tightass, but him? He's gonna get high blood pressure if he keeps this up."
He sat back, and together he and Castiel watched Sam's flirtation. The girl arched forward, her eyes bright with interest, as Sam explained something, all smiles and sweeping hand gestures. She laughed and asked him another question, shifting her weight so her hip cocked out at him coquettishly.
"He's smooth," Dean said with an appreciative whistle.
Sam led the girl onto the dance floor, and they began to sway together. The girl looked even shorter next to him, and she had to loop her arms up around his shoulders and crane her neck so they could talk. Their mirroring smiles were dazzling. Dean cleared his throat. "Something tells me I'm sleeping in the car tonight."
Dean looked at Castiel askance. "I don't have to explain that to you again, do I? It's about privacy. And my personal sanity."
"I mean, why don't you get another room?" Castiel said. "You aren't using your own money to begin with, so it can't be the financial constraints."
Dean looked at him for a long enough moment of silence that Castiel felt the need to loosen his collar. "What?" he said finally.
Dean's expression was slack. "That's... actually a really good idea."
Actually, it was Castiel who bought the extra room. He looked distinctly uncomfortable the whole time, but the teenage boy behind the desk said, "Don't worry, man. I'm sure your buddy just needs to sleep it off."
"I'do'need t'sleep anything off, y'jerk," Dean slurred.
"Right," the boy said with an arched eyebrow as he handed over the keys. Castiel was holding Dean firmly by one shoulder, and Dean was trying at odd intervals to shake him off, with no success. He wasn't half as drunk as he was acting, but sometimes you just had to pretend you were having a better time than you were. Plus, if he didn't act nine sheets to the wind, the kid just might have made a snarky comment of some other kind. He looked like the type.
In the open-air hallway, Castiel counted doors until he found the one that matched. He slid the key into the lock. "Was it all right to leave Sam without telling him we were going?" he wondered aloud.
"Oh, it was fine." Dean stepped inside. The room was well kept, with a queen-size bed. Light rock was playing softly on the clock radio. "The way he was dancing with that girl, he probably had forgotten we even exist."
"That's very strange." Castiel hung up his coat on the rack by the door. In just his shirtsleeves, he looked even more human, more solid and real. He had hair on his arms and ragged fingernails and wrinkled sleeves, just like anyone else. Dean liked seeing him that way. "Why could dancing cause him to forget?"
"Oh, you're just saying that because you've never danced." Dean grinned and put a hand on Castiel's shoulder. "Once you've got a pretty girl in your arms, with her hands on the back of your neck, looking up at you with big eyes--" He sidled up to Castiel playfully and batted his eyelashes. "--it's hard to see anything else."
Castiel's back had stiffened. "Really?"
Dean was feeling just silly enough to keep up the farce. "Here, pretend I'm a girl," he said. He grabbed Castiel's hand and pulled it backward to place around his waist, then put both of his own arms around the wrinkled collar. "There, see?" He swayed his hips in an exaggerated roll. "Just close your eyes and think of some girl angel you dig. Or something." He grinned mischievously at Castiel, adding in a falsetto with a Southern twang, " 'Oh, Cas, you're a wonderful dancer.' "
Castiel didn't close his eyes. Instead, he looked down at the space between their bodies, at the spot where his hand wrapped along the subtle curve of Dean's waist. His other hand had disappeared behind, pressing against the small of Dean's back. "This is dancing?" he said.
"Slow dancing," Dean said. "There's other kinds, too, but this is the best when you want to get a girl. Plus, it's all we have the music for," he added with a nod toward the incessant middle-of-the-road crap emanating from the clock radio.
"I see." Castiel's eyes still stayed wide open, but his hand tightened on Dean's waist. The music was just loud enough to be audible, and Castiel counted in his head, trying to approximate some synchronicity with the beat. It seemed to come naturally to Dean, but it was hard for him. His head began to bob up and down and his mouth formed around the numbers unconsciously.
"Dude," Dean said. "You're thinking too hard. Just feel it." Castiel's eyes met his, questioning and a little afraid. But he stilled, forcing himeslf to quit counting and just shift in a little closer to Dean, as though that would give him a better feeling for the rhythm that was so intuitive to humans.
"I got it," Dean muttered, "I'll lead. C'mon, just follow me." He began to move with some purpose, guiding Castiel's body and feet with his hips, with tugs of hand on the bewildered angel's shoulders and with small steps to the side and backward. Castiel's eyes fell to his feet, watching and trying to keep in time, his jaw set to prevent himself from counting.
Dean's eyes began to droop. The movement and the alcohol were relaxing him, and his lids fell to half-mast. Castiel watched his face carefully and saw the tension, the bravado melt away as the music guided his motions. A sweep of relief and gladness went through him, and he tried to hide the beginnings of a smile.
Dean realized he was looking at the floor at the same time he realized the song had ended and a new one had begun. And he was still dancing with Castiel. He'd meant this little lesson as a joke, right? Or at least as a helpful tip for surviving in the human realm? He wasn't sure of the purpose now. He just knew he was slow dancing with Cas, that they'd pressed together in an intimate flush of bodies, and that-- as Dean had predicted-- the rest of the world had just faded away.
He leaned forward, and his forehead knocked gently against Castiel's. Something chimed deep within him. When he took a breath, the air was hot in his lungs. His heart was thudding, quiet but rapid, in his chest. Castiel's hands were heavy, weighing him down, and the pressure made his knees shake. Now he had closed his eyes. When had he done that? He opened them again and his gaze fell immediately to Cas' mouth. Lips pursed, the rough edge of his jaw so defined, every prickle in focus against the blurred background. Dean swallowed, and he could hear his throat catch and release.
"Jesus. When did we..." His voice was low and rough.
Castiel's answer mirrored Dean's voice. So low, so husky and jarring. "I don't know."
Dean exhaled. His breath blew against Castiel's mouth. "I didn't think this was going to happen, Cas. I didn't--"
Castiel's eyes, ebony stars in the pale set of his face, met his. "I am frightened."
The confession, brief as it was, made Dean's heart twinge. He was scared, too, but at least he knew what this was. It must be so much more frightening for Cas, he thought with a burst of pity and protectiveness.
"My heart." Castiel winced. Dean could see the expression in exquisite detail, every crease that formed on his face in perfect focus. "It's in pain." His eyes searched Dean's. "Why? What is happening?"
Dean brought one hand forward to touch Cas' cheek. Nettles of stubble stung against his fingers. He drew a hand across the sandpaper jaw, his eyes steady, radiating calm into the trembling of the angel's features. "Don't be scared, Cas. It's okay. It's all doing to be okay."
"I want to..." Castiel stopped to gulp hard. "I don't understand why this feels the way it does. Is this how Sam felt dancing with that woman?"
Dean touched Cas' lips with his index finger. "I think it probably is, yeah." A moment of panic flashed through him, and he experienced a sudden, total awareness of the situation. His finger on Castiel's lips. Hand tucked under his chin. Castiel's hands on his back. Their frames moving together in a leisurely, steady rhythm.
"Cas." Guttural. Barely a voice at all. A scrape of the air against lips and teeth. "Cas, I'm gonna kiss you now. OK?"
"What--" Castiel's face began to turn up, and Dean's hand guided it the rest of the way, met it with his own. Their lips touched. Castiel's mouth was soft under his own, but that was all; the rest of his body went stiff. His eyes remained open and rounded. Dean pulled away.
"Why did you do that?" Castiel whispered.
"Why--" Dean's voice broke. His thumb pressed the length of Castiel's lower lip. "I told you, I-- Jesus, Cas. Just... just close your eyes and relax, OK?"
Castiel held his gaze for another moment. "All right," he said. His shoulders stilled.
Dean took a moment to look at him. Dark lashes fluttered at the base of his eyelids. He licked his lips, a bright pink flicker of tongue. He was beautiful. Dean's heart contracted painfully. He leaned in and brushed his lips across Castiel's again, then let them settle there. Castiel swallowed, hard enough that Dean could feel it, but was trying hard not to tense up. Dean nipped at his bottom lip. God, he was unbearably warm, and manly, and how could Dean not have seen that until tonight?
Castiel's lips moved beneath his, just minimally, and Dean shuddered. He groaned, wrapped both hands around Castiel's shoulders and pulled him closer. His tongue darted between Castiel's lips. He thought he felt the hand on his back clamp down.
The guttural noise he heard himself make was not entirely foreign to him, but it was rare. Dean made that noise, he knew, only when he was going out of his mind with desire, when someone had come along who knocked him off his feet. It wasn't something he shared with every hookup on the road. Castiel couldn't know how special it was that he made that noise, could he? Or how devastating it was that he was making it with his lips pressed against Cas', of all people, not just not a woman and not a human but not somebody he could ever leave behind? To start something like this now just invited heartbreak. And Dean's heart was bursting already to think of cutting it off now.
He broke the kiss. His breaths came quickly. His knees shook.
"Tell me why you did that," Castiel said again. "I need to know."
"I don't know," Dean said, shaking his head. "I don't know, I just... You were there, and we were dancing, and I had to. I had to, I couldn't not." He kept moving his head from one side to the other, as though he might be able to shake out a sufficient reason.
Castiel was trembling too, and Dean remembered then that he'd been scared. He forced himself together. "Look," he said. "This... this is good. It's a good thing, what's happening."
"But what is it?" Castiel's voice was insistent. "I don't understand, Dean."
The words tumbled out. "You don't get it? I kissed you. We were dancing, and I kissed you, and I think, I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I think I'm falling..." He couldn't finish. He just closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around Castiel, squeezing him tight. When he could manage to speak again, his words were, "I think I'm in real trouble."
Castiel squinted, watching Dean's mouth carefully. "Is this trouble?" he asked.
"Hell, yes," Dean breathed. "But we'll be all right."
One of Castiel's hands, sweaty from holding on, came up to touch Dean's face. An experimental caress. "I like it when you do this," Castiel explained haltingly.
Dean had to smile. "I like it when you do it too," he said, turning to kiss at Castiel's palm.
Castiel's voice was bass-viola low, almost too low to hear. "I liked slow dancing, as well."
"Really?" Dean's smile widened. Castiel nodded. "Because, you know. We don't have to stop."
A hint of a smile tripped across the steady features. "That's good."
When he leaned in to kiss Castiel a third time, his mouth met an equally eager one. The song died down on the radio, and there was no noise in the room but the sweet wet sound of lips meeting and releasing.
When the radio piped up again, it was with a horrid commercial jingle. Dean groaned and pulled back to stare at it reproachfully. Castiel lifted one hand, the barest movement, and it fell into silence. The smile he got for his efforts was blindingly bright.
"No more music," Castiel said. His lips were plumped and his face flushed from kissing, and now he reddened further. "Can we still slow dance?" he asked timidly.
The answer was the same. "Hell, yes."