Every Tuesday and Thursday, Dean leaves, is gone for two to three hours, and comes home sweaty and exhausted to the apartment he and his brother Sam share.
Sam had asked him where he went once, and Dean had said he was working out, which technically wasn’t a lie. What he was doing was definitely giving him a workout, just not in the traditional sense. Thankfully though, Sam hadn’t pressed for more information and just accepted Dean’s explanation with a shrug.
In all actuality though, Dean was leaving every Tuesday and Thursday for a dance class.
A class he knew Sam would taunt him about endlessly if he ever told him. Sam could take his teasing about his girlish hair, but Dean wasn’t sure he could take the return teasing about dancing. Even if sometimes he thought Sam wouldn’t care, Dean didn’t feel ready himself to let anyone know that was what he did on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
But it wasn’t as if he was ashamed to like dancing. And he did—he really enjoyed dancing. It helped relieve the stress of teaching high schoolers who cared more about Lindsay Lohan’s arrest history than U.S. history. But if he was being honest, it wasn’t just the dancing that helped get his mind off of his day job.
Dean had originally signed up for that first dance class as a favor to his co-worker Lisa, who taught government and economics, which in Dean’s opinion made her a saint. (If you think teaching kids about the Civil War is bad, try teaching them about branches of government and supply and demand. At least Dean had some awesome movies he could show.) She had begged him to come with her because the class was severely lacking in male partners, and she was tired of having to watch the others or take turns pretending to be the “guy” partner. Dean had rather reluctantly agreed after she bribed him with burgers and pie after every class. And how could Dean turn down that offer?
Lucky for both Lisa’s wallet and Dean’s figure, he did not insist she keep coaxing him with grease and sugar. After that first class, he found out that not only did he like dancing, but he wasn’t too bad at it either.
Oh, and the teacher was nice to look at, too.
Okay, so mainly it was the instructor who helped with Dean’s decision to continue the class out of choice rather than bribery.
The instructor, Castiel Novak, had been the focus of Dean’s attention most of that first night (his excuse being he was trying to learn). Lisa (who knew better) didn’t mind. She knew that Dean went for muscles instead of curves, which Dean suspected was the likely reason he had been asked to accompany her to the class.
The class with Lisa lasted a month, and by the end, Lisa decided that dancing was fun but not her thing and moved on to yoga, something she didn’t need a partner for. Dean, however, decided he’d stick with the dance classes.
That was five months ago.
Now, he was in the more advanced classes, and he had taken every class Castiel taught from swing to ballroom, and even a couple of country western classes. And while his dance skills had improved, any relationship with Castiel Dean was hoping to develop remained very much a student/teacher one.
Castiel knew his name, but other than a friendly acknowledgement in greeting and a wave at the end of class, Castiel gave no other hints to Dean that he even wanted to be friends. Which, okay, Dean got; he was teaching him and everyone else who took the class how to dance, so it wasn’t like he could play favorites. But, you’d think after five months of seeing the same guy in every single course, you’d at least ask if he wanted to get drinks after the class was done or something.
Dean realized how sad and pathetic he sounded when this was all he kept thinking about at the end of every class. He wasn’t going to quit dancing because of it. But, he had been pining away for Castiel (Cas, as he liked to call him in his head) for the better part of four months, and he’d like not to keep it up for another one.
In the same turn, Dean would take what he could get, maybe because he was too chicken to ask Cas himself. Not only because he was afraid of the answer but also because even though they weren’t exactly friends at this point, he and Cas had an easy rapport with each other in class. Dean was usually one of the first people who picked up on the new steps and moves, and Cas would often point him out as an example to the other students. On a few occasions, he would come over and correct Dean’s posture, and Dean would swear up and down that he was not slouching on purpose just so he could feel the other man’s warm hand on his body.
After taking so many of the classes, Dean had picked up on several of the other man’s quirks and habits. Cas would stand in the middle of the room and wait while everyone took a water break, and occasionally, do a couple of steps with his eyes closed as if trying to plan out what he would show them next. Cas was always there well before class started, which Dean realized after a few times of trying to come early to warm up, and he was always there after everyone left (although Dean was never sure how late he stayed).
On the days that Cas taught them a particularly difficult step, one he would have to show them repeatedly, he wore what Dean assumed was his professional dancing attire: a tight elastic-y pant and fitted shirt combo that Dean secretly hated and loved. It allowed Castiel to move more freely, but the fabric clung to his backside, showing off the curve of his ass, the strength of his calves, and the flexed muscles of his back, all of which did not help Dean move more freely in his own attire. All the other times, Cas would wear looser pants and shirts, but he always wore the same pair of well-loved dance shoes.
Cas would try to dance with everyone in the class at least once over the course, regardless of gender. Sometimes the other men would feel a bit uncomfortable about that, but Cas would ignore those signs and press on anyway, showing them things like the proper way to turn their female partner. Cas was excellent in either role, but Dean couldn’t help but feel like Cas enjoyed riling up the male students whenever they had to dance with him, excluding Dean of course.
Whenever it was Dean’s turn to dance with Cas, Dean was as excited about it as the others had been uncomfortable. It might have been in his head, but by the last couple of courses, Dean thought it seemed liked Cas relaxed a little more with him. With the other male students, Cas remained “the teacher,” his voice taking on a tone of authority, his posture remaining poised and perfect, almost tense, like Cas was trying to emphasize the fact that he was to be looked upon as an example. But with Dean, his voice was more casual when he showed Dean where he could improve, his body more relaxed in Dean’s arms like he was enjoying the movement rather than ensuring he was showing Dean how to do it properly.
Dean looked forward to those classes the most. The one time during the course when Cas would focus solely on him, when Dean had permission to press in closer to Castiel, rest his hand on the small of his back, and hold his hand. Dean was always sad when his one-on-one time with Cas ended, and he was left wishing it were longer, that he could keep Cas in his arms. Of course, it never happened, and Cas would tell him he was doing a great job and then moved on to the next step or the next student.
This evening’s class, however, was the last of the course, which meant that the students, partnered up, were expected to perform the dance they had all been practicing over the last several weeks. It was mainly a chance for them to show off what they had learned, and less about them getting a final critique. Dean had learned over the many classes that Castiel, while not hesitating to point out where they could improve or how to fix something during the learning period, liked encouraging and clapping for the students more. Whenever it was the last class, Castiel looked thoroughly pleased and happy for all of them, only offering feedback if asked for it.
Dean had never asked for feedback. He knew he was no Fred Astaire; he didn’t need to hear it from the man he admired and had a crush on. Besides, he liked hearing Cas clap and congratulate him on a good job, and he didn’t want that feeling ruined with hearing what he did wrong.
When Dean started packing up his things along with everyone else at the last class, Cas was at the door telling everyone how proud he was of their improvement and how well they did. It was another normal thing Cas did at the end of every course, so Dean treated it as such. That was until Castiel stopped him and asked him to stay behind a few minutes.
Once every one else had cleared the room, it was only Dean and Cas left, and Dean was nervous. What did Cas want to talk to him about? Was he so terrible and Cas was tired of seeing him that he was going to tell him to stop taking his classes? Was he actually going to ask him to get drinks? Dean stood by the door, shifting from foot to foot and waiting while Cas gathered his things.
“So, uh, what did you want to talk to me about?” Dean asked, impatient because he wanted to get what he was assuming was some sort of rejection over with.
Castiel smiled as he shouldered his bag and walked closer to Dean and the door. “I wanted to see if you might be interested in taking my advanced class. You are quite good, and I believe you would do well.”
“Oh… uh, I didn’t think you were offering any more classes. I looked at the schedule and didn’t see you on it,” Dean replied, instantly regretting it since he essentially just admitted he was only taking Cas’s classes.
Only Cas’s lips quirked up in a smirk, fully aware what Dean was implying. He and Dean left the classroom, and Castiel locked it behind them. “I’m not. At least not for the rec center. I teach at the university and am offering a closed class for more advanced students. I’ve invited a few other students from my rec center courses to join, and I’d like to extend that invitation to you.”
Dean rubbed the back of his neck as he followed Castiel out of the rec center and toward the parking lot. “So, like a private class for the select few, huh?”
Castiel smiled again, “Something like that.”
“What dance would we be learning?”
“There’s no specific dance. If everyone accepts the invitation there will only be five couples, and it will be more focused on honing technique and posture than any particular dance.”
They had finally made it to the parking lot, and they were both standing between their two cars, each only a few spaces away from each other. Dean had long picked out Cas’s car by the third course he’d taken. It was a Lincoln MKZ, a respectable hybrid that seemed to fit Cas and his personality quite well. And compared to Dean’s baby, a ’67 Chevy Impala, it was small and unassuming but still classy, which was pretty much Cas.
“That sounds cool, but I’m not sure I’m really cut out for something like that.”
Castiel narrowed Dean with a look that was all but rolling his eyes. “Dean, I believe you are or else I would not have invited you to attend. Here,” Castiel said as he reached into his bag and pulled out a small card. He held it out to Dean, who accepted it. “I know you will do well in the class, and I’d really like for you to be in it. There is no pressure, though, if you don’t want to join. It starts in a couple weeks, and it’ll be the same time as this course, but at the dance studio at the university. Let me know if you change your mind by week’s end and call or email me,” Castiel tilted his head to indicate the card in Dean’s hand, “so that I can give you more information and let the university know about your enrollment.”
Dean glanced down at the card and then tucked it in his bag before he rummaged in it to retrieve his car keys. “Thanks, Cas. I’ll think about it.”
“Please do. You are an excellent student and incredibly talented, especially since you only started five months ago. I hope you will consider continuing with this class.” With that, Castiel pulled out his own set of keys and made his way toward his car. Before he got in, he called out to Dean who was still standing there looking after the man who gave him his business card and hadn’t bat an eye at the nickname Dean had kept to himself for so long, “Good night, Dean. I hope to hear from you.” Then, he climbed in and shut the door behind him.
Dean gave him a little wave as Cas pulled out of his parking space and drove away. Once Dean was in his own car, everything that had just happened caught up to him. Cas had finally given him his number, Cas had said more to him than good job and have a good night, and Cas had invited him to a private course he was teaching. An invitation that meant Cas thought Dean was a good enough dancer to join said course. He would be an idiot if he turned it down, and Cas had seemed so eager for Dean to accept.
He had told Cas he needed time to think about it, but really, he’d already accepted before Cas had even offered. He was too hung up on Cas to tell him no, no matter what Castiel had asked him to do. Heck, Cas could have asked Dean to dress up in a chicken suit and dance the Macarena, and Dean probably would have said “yeah, sure,” without hesitation. He had it bad, and he had made up his mind the moment Cas had asked him to stay behind after class.
So, now all that was left was to tell Cas that yes, he’d take that class. The only problem now was… how?
When Dean arrived back home, Sam, who had textbooks and papers spread out on the kitchen table, greeted him. “Hey! You were out kind of late tonight.”
Dean glanced at the clock on the stove and shrugged. It was kind of late, at least for a school night, but Dean wasn’t about to tell Sam why he was out later than normal. It was 10 p.m., and usually he got home from his “workouts” by 9pm. But staying after to talk to Cas and then spending a long while driving around trying to decide on how to phrase his response to Cas had taken longer than he thought.
“Had to get gas for Baby,” Dean lied.
Sam nodded, accepting this, and continued, “So Jess and I are going out tomorrow with a few people. Do you want to come with us?”
“You don’t really want your boring older brother tagging along with you and your girlfriend, do you?”
“There’ll be lots of other people there, too. And you’re not boring, Dean.”
“I teach high school, and I can’t stay up past eleven. I think that qualifies me as a boring adult.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “Whatever. I figured it might be good. You know you can get out of the house and stuff. Get to know Jess better,” Sam replied, and Dean couldn’t tell which reason held more weight to Sam. He thought he knew Jess plenty well. He knew Sam liked her, was really only waiting ‘til he was done with school before he proposed, and Dean had already given Sam his approval. She was smart and independent, and the girl could hold her liquor fairly well and often chose burgers over salads, which made her perfect in Dean’s eyes.
This meant that Sam was feeling sorry for Dean, thinking that he would spend another weekend at home. It wasn’t that Dean didn’t have friends or go out; he just liked taking a break. Spending the week with teenagers can really take a lot out of a guy, and by the weekend, all Dean wanted to do was sleep or veg on the couch and catch up on Dr. Sexy, MD.
“A couple of my classes have papers due tomorrow, so it’s a grading weekend for me. Thanks for the invite though, Sammy,” he said with a reassuring smile, hoping that Sam would drop the subject and let him get to bed.
“It’s just one night, Dean. Are you sure? It’ll be fun. I think Jess’s friend Victor is coming.”
Ahhh… so it was a setup, a let’s find someone for Dean, not a let’s make sure Dean doesn’t become a shut-in kind of deal.
“I’m sure it will be. I’ll think about it, Sammy, but not right now. I might pass out here on the tile if I don’t get to bed.”
Sam chuckled, “Yeah, okay. Let me know. Night!”
Dean ruffled Sam’s hair as he walked by, to which Sam batted his hand away and gave an indignant grunt. “Night.”
As Dean went to sleep he thought more about Cas’s invite, imagining how the class would go, hoping that it’d mean he’d get to dance with Cas more, and trying to come up with an excuse as to why he couldn’t go with Sam and Jess. He thought it was nice that they were thinking about him and wanting him to be happy, but he already had someone else in mind.
When Castiel arrived at his office at the university and checked his email Monday morning, he was pleased to find an email from a D. Winchester among the others from his students and generic all-staff reminder emails. He was even more pleased when he read that Dean had accepted his invitation for the course. He quickly sent off his reply to Dean, sending the necessary information to register as a non-student and the necessary fees. He then fired off an email to the registrar to let them know about Dean’s incoming request.
Before he could read his other emails, a knock sounded against the doorframe. He looked up to find his friend and coworker Anna.
“Hello, Anna. Please come in. How can I help you?” Castiel gestured to the seat in front of his desk, and Anna gladly took it.
“Did you read Naomi’s email?” Anna asked, her chin resting on her hands, elbows on Cas’s desk like she’s ready to talk gossip. Naomi was their department chair, and although it was clear the woman was well educated and knew what she was talking about, she was not a very kind woman. Neither Anna nor Castiel liked her very much, and they often commiserated over it.
“No, I just got in and haven’t been able to go through all my emails yet.”
“Oh, okay. I’ll wait,” she replied, not changing positions. She was literally going to wait until Castiel read the email. Cas enjoyed Anna’s company and valued his friendship with her, but sometimes she did things that bugged him. He preferred reading his email alone so that he could focus on it without feeling rushed because someone was waiting for him.
“You seem quite eager to talk about it. Perhaps you should just give me the Cliffs Notes version, and I’ll read it later. What is this email?”
Anna smiled at Cas, clearly happy that she was getting to break the news, whatever it may be, to Cas without having to wait. She stood up to shut Cas’s office door and then sat back down, scooting her seat closer to the desk.
“So, apparently, we’re going to be hosting this year’s regional collegiate dance competition in April, and Naomi wants us all to perform for it. She said something about how there’s a demonstration portion of the competition, and since we are hosting, we’re required to handle that part. They already have judges lined up and everything.”
Castiel nodded. This was not new information to him. He had already known that it was their turn to host, and it was tradition that the hosting school had their professors perform after the official competition was held. It was a chance to showcase the talent in their department (in the hopes that it would recruit students) as well as to entertain the audience while the judges deliberated on scoring and awards.
Just as Castiel was about to respond that he was aware of this already, Anna continued, “She also said that we could perform whatever dance we would like.”
“Okay…” Castiel said, waiting for the punch line that Anna was very clearly keeping until the last possible minute.
“With whomever we would like.”
Castiel’s eyes widened a little at this, and Anna smiled and leaned back, nodding while she let the information she just dispensed sink in.
“Anyone we like?” Castiel asked, making sure there was no catch Anna was withholding.
“Anyone,” she repeated, her smile wide.
“Hmmm, that is very interesting. Is that why you’re here? To ask me to be your partner?”
Anna narrowed her eyes at him. “Castiel, you are an excellent dancer, don’t get me wrong, but if I can pick any dance I want to do with anyone, it won’t be with you. Modern dance is not your forte, hon. I’m surprised you even suggested it. I thought you’d be excited by this.” Her voice was almost petulant at the end, like Cas should have read her mind and known exactly what she was implying.
“Anna, I’m not sure I understand what you are trying to get at.”
She let out an exasperated sigh. “Really, Castiel? Do I have to spell everything out for you? How many times have you told me about your love for the tango and how frustrating it is that the female partner gets to do the ‘fun’ part?” She held up her fingers and did air quotes.
“But, this is for a competition to highlight the school. I’m not sure Naomi would approve of something unorthodox and possibly controversial.”
“Castiel, she said anyone; she can’t go back on it now. It was written down and sent out to the whole department. If she denied you, we would all be behind you not her. You’re the best dancer in our department and the best professor; she’d be an idiot to not let you dance with another male just because it could possibly be scandalous.”
“I don’t know, Anna,” Cas hedged. He had always wanted to mix things up and push the envelope, but this was his job, and he would very much like to keep it.
“You still have a few weeks to decide, but you should do it, Castiel. I even have some people in mind that would be willing and strong enough to lift you.”
“Thank you, Anna. I’ll consider it and let you know.”
“Okay. Have a good day. Oh, and don’t eat the cookies in the break room. Gabriel brought them, and you know how he is.”
“Noted,” Cas said with a nod. Anna waved and walked out of his office, leaving Castiel to ponder their conversation. He would really like to do something non-traditional, and taking the female position in the tango for himself would qualify. Even though Anna meant well, her suggested partners were strangers to Cas, and he didn’t think he could choose any of them.
Any dance was often intimate, but the tango especially was. There had to be complete trust between the partners because there were jumps and lifts involved. Not only that, but the tango was more about the emotion, the push and pull of the partners and less about technique. If Castiel’s partner was capable of lifting and holding him but inept at conveying the passion inherent in the dance, the performance would be abysmal. Cas needed someone who could do both. Someone who was strong enough to do the necessary moves and also display the sexual tension the dance and music brought up.
Finding the ideal partner was going to be impossible.
It was the third week of Cas’s private, invitation-only, 10-week course, and Dean was regretting his decision to take it. Clearly, Castiel had taken it pretty easy on his rec center students, something he did not do for his university students.
There was one woman whom Dean had seen in his previous classes with Cas, but the others were from the university. Being the only older, non-college students, Dean and the woman, Pamela, had silently agreed to be partners. It had taken that first week to emphasize that her occasional groping was not wanted and that although Dean could appreciate that she was attractive, nothing was going to happen between them; no matter how hard she tried, Dean didn’t swing that way these days.
Once that was clear, dancing with her was a breeze. They both agreed that if this was how all Cas’s classes went at the school, they were glad the rec center class had been where they started. While Dean could recognize that Cas’s usual habits hadn’t changed much, Cas seemed less forgiving of mistakes more so than he had been in his previous courses.
It made sense. Cas had told him this was a private course meant to hone skills and master techniques. The classes Dean had been taking were more for fun, for beginners starting out or seeing if dancing was something they enjoyed—it focused on learning one particular type of dance and moving from one step to the next. This class was nothing like that. Cas would have them practice the same step over and over again until he was satisfied.
At first Dean had thought Cas’d still cut him and Pamela some slack since it wasn’t like they were planning on dancing for a career; boy was he wrong.
Cas treated them all the same. And although it was killing his feet and legs, Dean appreciated that Cas was treating them all equally. It was clear that their skill levels were all different, but Castiel could see certain points that they all could improve on. If there were things the others had mastered and Dean and Pamela had not, he would make the others practice something else while he helped Pamela and Dean.
The class turned out to be a lot of work and he would be in pain and near exhaustion by the time he came home, but he liked it. It was a good ache in his legs, a reminder that he was doing something with his life and progressing instead of just going the course and plateauing.
Even Sam could tell a difference in Dean’s attitude a few weeks into the course. He had stopped bugging Dean to play third wheel with him and Jess, and he hadn’t even brought up the name Victor or any other person that was “really cool” or that Dean “might like.” It probably helped that it was getting further into the semester, so Sam didn’t have much time to go out himself, and when he did, he spent it with Jess alone.
It didn’t bother Dean any. A while ago, he might have been upset that Sam never spent any time with him. But, they were older now, and although it had taken some time, Dean understood that Sam was an adult who could take care of himself. Nowadays, Dean thought Sam only lived with him for cheaper rent and his convenient location to campus and not because he wanted to have quality brother-bonding time.
A month into Cas’s class, Dean had fallen back to his pining ways, which annoyed him. When he had officially signed up and paid the fees for the class, he had decided that he wasn’t going to let his feelings for Cas get in the way of becoming a better dancer. Cas had seen talent in him and invited him based on that alone not because of any romantic interest.
But as much as he kept telling himself that, he couldn’t help but notice the way Cas’s eyes would linger on him, or drift back to Dean’s feet or hips. He was positive he wasn’t imagining when Cas would narrow his eyes at him while they lined up to prove they’d practiced. And it was not wishful thinking when he turned to find Cas had been checking him out while he had taken a water break, if Cas’s darting eyes and flushed cheeks were anything to go by.
His suspicions were confirmed when Cas asked him to stay behind after class.
He and Pamela had taken to walking out together and complaining about how they were too old for this, so when Dean said he’d see her next class and waved her off, she gave him a knowing look and a wink before she walked off. He turned to find Cas, his bag over his shoulder and looking much more nervous than Dean had ever seen him. Usually Castiel was all confidence and properness, and Dean had been convinced he probably was afraid of nothing. But Castiel seemed so small now, wringing his hands before pulling on the strap of his bag.
“Have another class you want to invite me to?” Dean joked to ease Cas’s visible tension. Cas did chuckle at the comment, but the nervousness was still apparent.
“Actually, I’d… I’d like to ask you for a favor… of sorts.” Dean raised his eyebrows, not meaning anything by it, but Cas seemed to have taken it the wrong way. “No, no, not anything like that. I just need help with something. I don’t mean…” He let out an exasperated sigh.
“It’s okay, Cas. I didn’t think you were implying anything. What do you need?” Dean said with a warm smile. Cas seemed to calm down slightly after that and stood a little straighter.
“Feel free to say no. I don’t want you to feel obligated in any way, or if it makes you uncomfortable or something, you don’t have to go through with it.”
“Okay…. It might be helpful to know what it is you think I’ll say no to though.”
Castiel laughed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Right. The university is hosting a dance competition in April, and all the professors are required to perform. I’m hoping to do the tango, but a little more of an unconventional take on it, which is why I would like to ask you to be my dance partner.”
Dean’s eyes widened in shock. “Me?” Cas nodded, his look a mixture of hope and hesitance. “But, why? I mean, why me? I’m not any good, and I don’t even know the first thing about dancing the tango, and umm… I’m a guy.”
Castiel rolled his eyes at the last comment. “Hence my unconventional take on it.”
“Oh,” Dean said, his mouth still forming the letter as realization set in.
“I think you underestimate yourself and your ability. But, if you don’t want to do it, it’s fine, really. You can forget I asked,” Cas’s voice was back to being timid. He started to move past Dean toward the door, but Dean held up his hand to stop him.
“Now wait, Cas, I didn’t say no. I’m just not sure I’m the right choice. Do you really want to shackle yourself to me as a dance partner? I’d probably end up breaking your leg or something.”
Cas let out a loud laugh at that, and Dean inwardly preened at getting a reaction like that from Cas. “Dean, we’ve danced before and nothing that disastrous has happened.”
“Yeah, but we weren’t doing the tango. I mean, granted, my only point of reference for the dance is the movie Moulin Rouge, but doesn’t the tango involve a lot of lifting and twirling and fancy footwork? We’ve never done that before.” Already Dean was warming up to the idea of performing a sexually charged dance with Cas, possible muscle strain and penguin shoes be damned.
“True, but if it goes how I would like, the twirling and fancy footwork will be all me. You just have to worry about the lifting. But…” Castiel stepped closer to Dean and wrapped his hand around Dean’s bicep and squeezed, and Dean felt his temperature rise. “I don’t think you’ll have to worry too much about that,” the flirtiness in his tone was unquestionable.
Swallowing, Dean choked out, “That’s good.” What a stupid response. But Dean was not thinking clearly at this point, so he could not be held accountable for his words. Castiel let his hand linger and it felt like an iron to Dean, traces of heat still noticeable to Dean as Cas’s hand fell away.
“So, is that a yes?” Cas asked, looking up at Dean with damn near perfect puppy-dog eyes, and how dare he give Dean that look. Especially since he gave him this whole preamble about how Dean shouldn’t feel pressured to say yes. How could you not say yes to someone as hot as Castiel giving you a look like all their hopes and dreams rest in your hands?
“Uh… I… um… yeah? But, I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into. I meant what I said about movies are the only reason I know the tango is a dance and not like a drink or something.”
“Why do you think I asked you now?” he said with a smirk. Dean pretended to be offended by that comment, but Cas saw through it and shook his head. “It’s not ‘til April, so we have a good four months to rehearse, give or take a few weeks. You made it to my advanced classes in less than five. I think we can do it, but we’ll have to start now, if that’s alright.”
“Yeah, of course. I’m free most weekends and aside from the class, weekday evenings.”
Cas nodded at this information as he rummaged through his bag and pulled out his cell phone. He handed it to Dean. “Will you give me your cell, and I’ll text you with possible times?”
“Sure,” he said as he started entering his phone number. He felt proud of himself for acting so cool during the exchange. Aside from feeling like he was going to die when Cas had his hand on him, he kept his emotions in check. At least on the outside. Inside he was freaking out about this whole arrangement and the fact that he was giving Cas his number and basically telling him he was a loser that did nothing but work and go to dance class.
After he’d saved his number, he returned the phone to Cas, who then did something else with it before putting it away. Dean felt his pocket vibrate, and he pulled out his own phone.
“I just texted you, so that number’s me,” Cas said with a grin. “Well, I don’t want to keep you any longer.” He gestured toward the door, and Dean took the cue and exited, Cas following and locking up behind him. “Thank you again for agreeing to do this.”
“No problem. It’ll be fun. Slightly embarrassing when I trip over my own feet, but fun.”
The corner of Cas’s lips quirked up. “You won’t trip. I promise. It will be fun, and maybe I can prove to you that you are a much better dancer than you like to believe.” Dean ducked his head at the compliment. “Besides, if we win the department competition, we get a $50 gift certificate to Cheesecake Factory.”
“I am more of a pie person, but cheesecake is alright. And what if we don’t win?” Dean asked, surprising himself with how easy it was to flirt with Cas after months of being afraid to say more than hello.
Cas tilted his head in consideration, “Hmmm, I could think of some kind of consolation prize for your efforts.” He looked up at Dean through his eyelashes, and there was no mistaking his playful tone. Where had this Cas been months ago? But just as quickly as Dean wondered that, Castiel returned to normal, straightening up and readjusting his stance. “I still have a few things I need to take care of in my office. I’ll text you once I’ve looked at my schedule. Good night.” Then he turned and walked farther down the hall, presumably to his office.
“Sounds good. Talk to you later then,” Dean called after him.
Man, what had Dean got himself into? He was starting to think that his crush on Castiel was impairing his judgment and common sense. What normal person would agree to dance the tango with a man he barely knew in front of thousands of people for a competition?
Obviously, Dean was not a normal person.
Later that night when he’d received a text from Cas asking about schedules, Dean was a nervous wreck. It was worse than the time he was fretting about his decision to accept Cas’s invitation and what to say. Castiel was so sure about Dean’s talent with dancing and his strength, which is a whole different issue that Dean couldn’t really handle thinking about right then, but what if Dean couldn’t do it?
What if they practiced for months, and Dean never nailed the steps or moves? What if he completely sucked at the tango and he let Cas down? Hell, what if he freakin’ dropped Cas? Cas might think he was strong enough, but Dean has seen Cas. He appeared thin and small, but Dean knew for a fact it was all muscle. He was not some tiny ballerina that weighed a feather. Cas was strong and lean, and maybe Dean had stared at his calves and back on more than one occasion, so he knew that Cas probably didn’t weigh much less than he did. He was going to have to go to the gym to make sure he had the upper body strength to lift a grown man.
Ugh. Why had he agreed to do this? Oh, right. Cause he was kind of in love with the guy that asked him.
He texted back a reply and after exchanging a few more messages, Dean had agreed to meet Cas at the dance studio on campus bright and early on Saturday morning. Which was good since it only gave him one day to freak out about it. He could spend half the day worrying about not dancing good enough to be partners with Cas, and the other half worrying about how he would be alone in a room with Cas doing an activity that would require them to encroach on each other’s personal space. All while he’s supposed to be actually concentrating on teaching The Great Depression to a group of disinterested 16-year-olds. Really, his Friday was going to be super positive; he could tell.
On Saturday morning, Castiel waited for Dean in the dance studio, two coffees and a of couple bagels in hand. He hoped that the food and coffee were enough of an apology for making Dean wake up so early on a Saturday.
He had arrived much earlier than the time he had told Dean, mainly so he could unlock everything and set up the music in case they got that far. He didn’t think they would. For someone just learning a specific dance, he never started out with music but basic steps and moves first, setting it to a rhythm and music later once the student was comfortable. But, maybe he could play Dean the song he had chosen, depending on how much time he was willing to spend with Castiel.
Cas slowly sipped his coffee and glanced at his watch. He still had 15 minutes, he knew, but he couldn’t help checking the time. It wasn’t until his third glance that he realized he was nervous, something that was quite unusual for him.
He had given private lessons to plenty of students before, but this was different. Dean was different. Dean was his student, yes, but there was something about Dean that set him apart. Something that made Cas choose him as a partner, and it wasn’t because of Dean’s strength (although that was a contributing factor). No, something about Dean ignited something in Castiel that, honestly, was frightening. It had been the main reason why he had tried to distance himself from Dean. He saw the way Dean would look at him or talk to him, and Cas told himself that he needed to keep things professional. Despite being close in age to Cas, Dean was still his student.
But slowly, Dean had wormed his way into Cas’s defenses, had worn down Cas’s resolve to a point where Cas felt more relaxed dancing with Dean, felt comfortable asking him to join his closed college course, and eventually asking him to perform with him, where he would spend more time alone with him. Cas knew he was asking for trouble, suspecting that it was only a matter of time before Dean found all the chinks in his armor and slid even closer.
That didn’t mean Cas wouldn’t try to put up a fight.
When Cas first got the idea to ask Dean to be his partner, it seemed like a great one. Albeit a challenge since Dean was not a professional by any stretch of the imagination, but Dean seemed to fit the ideal partner that Cas had in his head. Someone he knew, that he was comfortable with, that he trusted, and that he had a spark of emotion with. Anna had plenty of candidates for Castiel, and they would have been, more than likely, easier to partner with since they were seasoned. He wouldn’t have had to rehearse with them months in advance and teach them every step.
In the end, Cas was confident he had made the right choice with Dean. Yes, he would have to guide Dean step by step, but it would help in the end. He could take Dean and essentially mold him and train him to fit Cas and their dance. Dean had no preconceived notions about the dance, and since he had only learned from Cas, he wouldn’t have another’s training to get in the way of Cas’s style. Dean was the perfect choice.
The closer to their meeting, though, Cas went back and forth in his head, trying to convince himself that having Dean as his partner was something he could handle. He could be a professional about this, and that if his professionalism slipped a tiny bit the longer he spent with Dean, it would only mean that their performance would be that much stronger. Dean was attractive, yes, but Cas could handle himself just fine.
“Guess it’s good I decided to be on time instead of stopping at McDonald’s,” Dean said as he opened the door to the studio, startling Castiel from his thoughts.
“It was the least I can do, since I made you come all the way up here so early on a Saturday,” Castiel replied, handing Dean the coffee he bought. “I’m not sure how you take it, so I got something of everything. It’s in the bag with your bagel.” He held out the bag to Dean. Dean set his coffee on the table and rummaged through the bag for cream and sugar for his coffee.
Noticing only one bagel in the bag, he asked, “Oh, did you already eat?”
“Yes, but please, eat yours. I can wait.”
“Alright,” said Dean as he opened the packet of cream cheese to smear on his bagel. It was early and he was hungry; he wasn’t going to object to food when he was offered it. Once his bagel and coffee were to his liking, he turned to Castiel who had been watching Dean the whole time. “So, is there anything I need to know or do before we start?” he asked around a bite of bagel.
“No. But, I do have a liability waiver in my office that you’ll have to sign.” Dean’s eyebrows shot up, almost choking on his coffee. Castiel burst out laughing. “I’m kidding, Dean.”
“Man, don’t scare me like that! I thought you were going to make me do some kind of stunt work or flips or something.”
“No stunt work, and there is a flip, but I’m doing it, with your help.” Dean’s eyes widened again. “Don’t worry about that now though, that’s getting ahead of ourselves. I don’t have the whole routine mapped out just yet, but we’re just going over the basic steps today anyway.”
“You already know there’s a flip, huh? Anything else I can look forward to?”
“Well, I believe I already told you there would be some lifting involved, so there’s that. But again, I’m still choreographing it, and if something doesn’t work for us, we can change it.”
Dean nodded, shoved the last of his bagel in his mouth, and brushed the crumbs off his hands. After swallowing, he said, “Okay, where do we start?”
With a smile, Castiel waved Dean to follow him to the center of the room. “Now, I know my ballroom dance was one of the first classes you took, so you might need a reminder, but the movements of the tango are very similar to that of the waltz. First, I’ll show you the basic steps of the tango, and once you feel comfortable with that, we’ll build off it with more complicated steps.”
Dean bobbed his head in understanding and stood next to Castiel, both of them facing the wall of mirrors in the studio.
“The first step is back with the left foot,” Cas said, demonstrating as he did with Dean mirroring his movements. “Then to the side with your right, walk forward with your left, then right, and then close. Then forward again left, to the side with your right, and then together.” Cas looked over to Dean who smiled back at him. “We’ll do it a few more times, but I’ll count this time. Okay, one, back, two, side, forward, three, four, close, five, forward, six, side, seven, together, eight. Got it?”
“Uh, I think so,” Dean said, staring down at his feet as if he was willing them to remember what they had just done.
“I’ll count, you step, and we’ll just keep going till you think you’ve got it down, and then we’ll do it together.” Dean gave a firm nod. Cas stepped away to face Dean and watch as he counted. With every count, Dean moved his feet as Cas had showed him, and by the fifth time of repeating the steps, Dean said he was ready.
“Alright,” Cas said, stepping forward into Dean’s space. “Now, the tango has just as much to do with the connection and passion between the dancers as it does the steps. Think of it as a… game of seduction.” Dean swallowed hard. “Dean, if you’re not comfortable with this…”
“No, no, Cas, it’s fine. I just… no, it’s fine. I can do that. I can be… seductive.” Dean winked, to which Castiel rolled his eyes. Cas held his arms up waiting for Dean to do the same. Dean wrapped his arm around Cas, resting his hand on the side of his back, his other hand taking Cas’s. Even though Dean and Cas were close, Dean was still tense and standing as far away from Cas as he could while still touching him.
Cas let out a sigh. “Now, Dean, you know that’s not proper posture and embrace.” Dean winced at Cas’s reprimand while Cas reached behind him and moved Dean’s hand so it was at the small of his back instead of the side, bringing Dean even closer to Castiel. Cas brought his hand to rest on Dean’s shoulder, their arms touching, and took Dean’s other outstretched hand.
“Ready?” Cas asked looking up at Dean for confirmation.
“You’ll still count?” asked Dean.
“Of course. One…,” Cas said, as he followed Dean’s lead as they stepped back. When they got to the third count, Cas paused. “Now, on this third count, you step to the side of me when you go forward.”
“Got it,” Dean said, showing Cas he understood by stepping out to the side of Cas.
“Four, five… six. This time when you step forward, step between my legs instead of to the side.”
Dean stepped forward between Cas’s legs and immediately looked up at Cas from where he had been staring at his feet. Cas smiled and nodded, letting him know it was alright, that he was starting to get it.
“Seven, and eight. And that’s the basic step,” Cas said, as Dean dropped his hands and stepped back. Castiel hoped that Dean hadn’t changed his mind and decided that he couldn’t do this with Cas. He could tell Dean was nervous; he could feel the tension in Dean’s shoulders when they moved and how stiff he was. He was hoping that it was because it was a new dance and not because of Cas.
“Okay. We’re going to have to do that a bunch more times, but I got the gist.”
Dean held his arms up again and Cas stepped forward, pleased when Dean placed his hand in the proper spot this time. Cas counted them off and continued counting aloud as he and Dean did the basic steps. Soon, Dean started getting more comfortable and led Cas around the floor instead of the one spot they had been circling. Here and there, Cas would mention that Dean needed to pivot more with a certain foot to turn them, or that he should try to keep his feet on the floor as long as he could (“Your feet should caress the floor, Dean.” “Caress? Are you freakin’ kidding me, Cas?” “No, Dean, I am not. That’s the best way to describe it.” “Yeah, um, okay, Cas.”).
As they moved about the studio, Dean gained more confidence with every repetition. He could feel the tension in Dean’s shoulders ebb, and on every count he could feel Dean bring him in a little closer when they turned, and the heat that Cas felt where they touched was getting to him.
Cas finished the count he was on, and before Dean could continue, he dropped his hands. “That was very good, Dean. Now, see that wasn’t so hard, was it?”
“No. But, you’re gonna add something else, aren’t you?”
Cas grinned, “Indeed. This next step is called the forward ocho. It changes up the basic step slightly, but I’ll be doing the hard part, so you just have to stay with me.”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way,” Dean said, holding his arms up again.
When they called it quits, Dean had learned the forward and backward ocho, the sandwich, and the sandwich with a traspie. It was the sandwich that did it because as soon as Cas started to explain it, all Dean could think about was how it was almost lunchtime and he was hungry.
In a way, Cas was glad that Dean decided he couldn’t learn any more because his stomach was growling. The traspie and sandwich involved a lot of leg touching and twisting. Despite how much Cas had been worrying about Dean’s comfort, he realized that maybe he should be worrying about himself and how close he had to be to Dean, their legs pressed against and between each other, sliding against one another. If they couldn’t control themselves, they were bound to feel something else against each other.
Dancing with Dean was going to be much more difficult than Cas had first thought. It was going to take every ounce of will and restraint to keep their relationship on a professional level.
And Cas was the consummate professional.
A month into their rehearsals, Dean had finally convinced Cas to join him for lunch afterwards. He had asked after that first rehearsal, but Cas had made up an excuse saying that he had a few appointments he had to get to. Eventually, though, Dean had worn Cas down enough to accompany him.
They were only rehearsing with each other on the weekends, and although Cas told him he finished choreographing the routine, he hadn’t shown Dean anything but the starting steps. He was still having Dean learn more and more steps increasing in difficulty of the traditional tango. Dean had complained about it at first, asking why Cas was having him learn these steps instead of their routine. Cas had answered that it was more important to him for Dean to know the dance and how to intermix steps, than to only know a set routine.
Dean had grumbled about this, but Cas had a point. He didn’t know what future occasion was going to call for him to dance the tango, but he supposed that if Sam and Jess decided to have dancing at their future wedding, he could always pull out his moves and impress his friends and family and whomever he decided to take with him.
Cas was still respectful and almost distant toward Dean during class, which Dean tried hard not to take personally. Hadn’t it been one of the things he liked about Cas’s class in the first place? That Cas was treating everyone equally and not playing favorites? If Cas started now, halfway through the semester, it wouldn’t look good for either of them.
On Saturdays, though, when it was just the two of them, Cas was a different person. He would laugh and joke around with Dean, and Dean might not call it flirting, but it was definitely friendly—friendlier than he had ever been toward Dean in his classes. So, it seemed only logical for Dean to invite Cas to lunch after their private lessons.
Quickly, it became a tradition.
They would meet Saturday mornings in the studio, taking turns bringing coffee and breakfast and the other treating for lunch afterwards. They exchanged tidbits of personal information during their meals, Dean revealing his job at the high school, how his brother Sam lived with him and attended the university for pre-law, and his love of Star Trek. Cas wasn’t as open as Dean in sharing facts about his life, but Dean learned Cas had always had a passion for dance and for teaching, something his family of doctors and lawyers frowned upon, enjoyed upending people’s expectations of him, and loved cheeseburgers. This is why their lunches tended to take place at the diner a few blocks away from campus.
It was at one of these lunches that Cas decided that Dean was ready to start learning the routine for their performance.
“Do you have somewhere you need to be after lunch?” Cas asked, picking up his already half-eaten cheeseburger for another bite.
“Um, I just have to pick up Sammy before dinner, but other than that, I don’t have anything. Why, what’s up?”
“I believe we’re ready to start working on the routine. You know enough steps that I think it will be easy for you to transition.”
“Yeah?” Dean said, excitement clear in his voice. “It’s about time. You still haven’t even told me what song you picked, and I know you knew before we started rehearsing.”
Cas grinned, “I wanted it to be a surprise. I think it’s something you’ll really appreciate; you inspired the song choice after all.”
“I did, huh?” Dean said with a raised eyebrow. Cas only nodded and glanced down at his plate of food. “So you gonna tell me? Or are you gonna make me guess?”
“Can you come back to the studio with me after we’re done? Then I can show you more of the routine along with the music.”
Dean nodded. “Awesome,” he said, his lips curled up. He looked down at what was left of his food and decided he was full. “Well, I’m done. You?”
Cas’s burger was half-eaten and only a few fries gone, but he was too excited to show Dean to keep him waiting any longer. “I’m done,” he said, wiping his mouth with his napkin and tossing it on his plate, “Let’s go. Is it your turn or my turn?”
“My turn since you got breakfast,” said Dean pulling out his wallet and placing some cash on the table as Castiel slid out of their booth.
He followed Cas in the Impala back to campus, weirdly excited to see what Cas had picked out for their routine. Dancing the traditional tango with Cas was fun and educational, but he could tell by the second rehearsal Cas wanted to do his own routine. Dean was hopeful that Cas might be more relaxed with him now that they were doing what Cas was eager to do.
Dean had got Cas to lighten up a little bit; the meals were definitely helping. But even though Dean would consider Cas a friend, he wasn’t sure Cas saw him the same way. Everything would be going well and they’d joke and laugh, but then Cas would straighten up and tense and put on his teacher voice. These brief moments never lasted long, and soon he’d relax again with Dean. But, it was giving Dean whiplash.
Now that he was getting to know Cas, he was falling more and more for him. Before he had been okay with accepting any kind of attention from Cas, pining from afar since he figured Cas would see him as nothing more than a student. But with every private rehearsal, the longer he spent pressed against Cas, spinning him around the dance studio, the more difficult it was for Dean not to want more from Cas. Dancing with Cas started occupying more and more of his thoughts, so much so that Sam was back to worrying about him and asking him to go out with him and Jess and their friends.
Maybe once they started learning their actual routine, Cas would be more willing to open up, maybe go to dinner instead of lunch after rehearsal. Although, in the back of Dean’s mind, he had a nagging suspicion it would never happen.
Dean parked next to Cas and walked with him back into the studio. Cas strode over to the stereo system against the wall, plugged in his iPod, and pressed play. He immediately shot up and turned to face Dean, watching his reaction as the tune started playing. As recognition set in, Dean’s smile grew, with Cas’s matching his.
“This is the one from Moulin Rouge, isn’t it?” Dean said.
“Well, you did say it was the only version of the tango you were familiar with. I thought it… fitting.”
Dean strode up to Cas, reaching for his hand and pulling him into position. “So, what’s the first step, Professor?” he asked with a smirk, his voice low.
Cas, who had been all smiles, frowned and tensed at the remark. He stepped back out of Dean’s embrace and cleared his throat. “I believe I’ve shown it to you already.”
Dean furrowed his brows, upset at the sudden mood change. “Uh, yeah, but you just showed me my part. Don’t you want to do it with me?” Dean held up his arms and waited for Cas to step into them instead of pulling him in like before.
Cas hesitated briefly but then stepped into position. It wasn’t until he had explained the first few movements to Dean and they did them a few times that Cas relaxed again. The tense moment from before forgotten. They were only able to go through the first part, which had a lift that Dean was not comfortable doing yet, before Dean’s phone was ringing. Sam was done studying and wanted to eat.
“I gotta get going. I like it so far. I can’t wait to do the rest,” Dean said as he gathered his things and headed toward the door.
“Thanks for coming back after lunch so I could show you.”
“Yeah, no problem. Sorry about that lift though. I’m not sure I’m ready.”
“It’s fine, Dean. We’ll work on it. There are a few others that are more difficult later in the routine, but once we nail those, I think the rest will fall into place.”
“We might have to bump up our rehearsals to more than once a week.”
“There’s only a couple weeks left of my class. Perhaps… we could rehearse on those days once it’s over?” Cas asked, following Dean as he shuffled toward the exit.
“Sounds good to me, Cas. I’ll see ya later,” said Dean, waving to Cas as he walked out of the room. He knew he was leaving abruptly, not even waiting for Cas to return the sentiment, but it was to keep him from inviting Cas to join him and Sam for dinner. He still hadn’t told Sam what he did on Saturdays or that he was starting to feel like he was on campus just as much as Sammy was. Sam was still blissfully in the dark about Dean’s dancing skills and weekly sometimes sexy, often confusing rendezvous with his instructor.
He hoped Cas didn’t think his exit was offensive, although Cas’s mood swings weren’t any better. They were jarring. It was like Cas couldn’t decide how to act around Dean, going back and forth to being friendly and even a little flirty to being stiff and distancing himself, usually whenever Dean tried to flirt back. That was making Dean more uncomfortable than all the hours he was spending sweating with and rubbing up against him.
Dean was ready for Cas to pick one mood and stick with it, despite how much he liked Cas. It was too trying on a guy’s emotions for Cas to jerk him around like that, and Dean could only take so much. He felt he’d been clear and straightforward about what direction he’d like to take their relationship; it was Cas’s turn to decide if it was the same direction he wanted, too.
The rest of the weekend Cas wrestled with himself and replayed all his actions and reactions to Dean during their rehearsals and meals. Dean’s sudden dismissal hurt, but it wasn’t uncalled for. Castiel felt terrible for how he’d been treating Dean. It had taken some time to admit to himself, but he could comfortably say they were friends at this point, especially once their weekly meals became routine. But even he knew the sudden tenseness and distance he displayed on Saturday and previous occasions weren’t very friend-like.
The problem wasn’t Dean, far from it, really. He liked Dean, but Castiel could feel himself losing the fight to remain emotionally distant, having his feelings toward Dean become something more than just liking him as dance partners or even friends. The looks he’d catch from Dean and the smiles he’d notice when Dean nailed a step or looked pleased at making Cas laugh were becoming more apparent. Castiel found himself looking for them more, letting the warm feelings he’d get when he saw them gather and collect and grow in his heart.
This, ultimately, was the problem.
Castiel was trying so hard to maintain this balance between friend and teacher that he was failing miserably, letting one outweigh the other and tipping the scales dramatically back and forth. Cas was also trying to constrain himself. If he didn’t, he might do something he’d regret, like fall for Dean and watch what they were building as friends and dance partners crumble with a rash, passion-fueled action.
In the end, he knew that his previous goal of keeping things strictly professional might have long since passed the realm of possibility. They could be friends at least, and once his class was over and he no longer had to remind himself that Dean was still his student, the task would be even simpler. Then he could worry about the performance and learning the routine with Dean as his dance partner and not about letting himself get closer to a student.
Deciding that he owed Dean an apology for his behavior, he texted Dean and asked him to come to his office hours before class. He didn’t give Dean a reason for the meeting (although he spent a good 10 minutes deleting and retyping one before ultimately leaving it out), and Dean only replied “Okay.” Cas forced himself to accept the response and not text back. Maybe Dean had made some decisions of his own and had decided to tell Cas to find someone else to be his partner. Cas wouldn’t blame him if he did.
Never before had an hour of being in his office felt so long to Castiel. His office hours were open to anyone, but being a professor of dance didn’t really lend itself to having a stream of students visit him. Usually, he was more likely to be found at one of the studio rooms or asked to meet there with students. But office hours were a requirement, so Castiel sat and waited for the one student he knew was coming.
He busied himself with email, grading essays he had his intro students write, and going over steps in his head. He jumped when he heard a knock on his doorframe; it was still early, and he figured that Dean wouldn’t show up ‘til right before class started. Instead of a possibly surly Dean, it was a petite blonde who smiled and waved in his doorway.
“Hi, Professor Novak! Are you busy?”
Cas shook his head, “Not at all, Miss Moore. Please come in, take a seat.”
“Please call me Jess,” she remarked as she slung her backpack off her shoulders and onto the floor, sitting down in front of Castiel’s desk.
“Jess, how can I help you?”
“Well, the deadline to sign up for the dance competition is next week, and my partner and I can’t really decide which dance category to sign up for. I was hoping that maybe you could help us pick?”
“What’s it between? You’re dancing with Victor, yes?”
Jess nodded. “Victor wants to do hip-hop. Our routine for it is solid, but I think our jazz routine we’ve been practicing is better and it’s more complicated. The more complicated the more points you receive, right?”
“Yes, but you have to execute it perfectly to get those points. However, having seen part of your jazz routine last week, I’m more inclined to agree with your choice.”
The smile on Jess’s face brightened. “That is all I needed to hear. Victor can just suck it up and deal.”
Castiel chuckled, “You’re going to tell him I told you to go with jazz, aren’t you?”
“Of course. He’ll listen to what you say.”
“In that case, tell him I said to focus on maintaining his posture throughout the dance. He tends to forget.”
Jess stood up, gathering her backpack, “He’s gonna be mad, but I’ll pass on the message. In fact, I’m going to go call him right now so I can sign up while I’m here.” She pointed her thumb behind her in the direction of the signup sheets across from Castiel’s office.
“If he’s truly upset, tell him he can talk to me.”
“Thanks, Professor,” she said with a grin. She pulled her phone out as she left, taking a seat down the hall from Castiel’s office. Castiel only had time to reply to one more email before there was another knock on his doorframe.
While not looking surly, Dean did look tired. He was wearing a rumpled suit and tie, his hair a bit messy like he’d been running his hands through it all day out of frustration. Cas knew Dean was a teacher, and he looked as if today had been a particularly rough day. To see Dean in this haggard state made Castiel feel worse for making him come early just to apologize for how he’d been acting.
“Cas.” His tone wasn’t harsh, but it wasn’t overly welcoming either. Castiel couldn’t tell if it was because Dean was tired in general or if it was because of him. Dean walked into the room but didn’t sit down. Before Cas could say anything, Dean continued, “I stayed late grading, came straight over, and didn’t have time to change.”
“I understand. I’ll be quick. I’m sorry—“
“Look, Cas, I get it. If you were regretting asking me to be your partner, you could have told me earlier.”
“What?” Cas asked, shocked because Dean had the wrong idea about this meeting.
“I’m sorry you wasted your time, but it’s still early. You have time to find someone else who’ll be better,” Dean said, turning to walk out.
“Dean, stop. That’s not why I asked you to meet with me.”
Dean froze, his back still turned away from Castiel. “It’s not?” His voice came out quiet, almost a whisper. Cas got up from his desk and strode over to Dean. He hesitated a moment before putting his hand on Dean’s shoulder to turn him around. Cas waited until Dean looked up and their eyes met before he answered.
“No, Dean, it’s not. I wanted to apologize for my behavior toward you as of late. I will try to be better and stop…”
“Giving me mixed signals?” supplied Dean. Cas’s lips curled up in a small smile.
“I hadn’t thought of it that way, but yes. I’d still like for you to be my dance partner if you’re still up for it.”
Dean grinned, “I’m still up for it.” He paused to glance down at his watch. “I better go get changed. I have this professor that hates when we’re late.”
Castiel looked up at the ceiling as he shook his head. “Of course. I’ll see you in class, Dean,” Castiel said as he grabbed his keys from his desk and followed after Dean, staying to lock up. Jess was still standing by the signup sheets, her phone in her hand and her mouth open in shock for a moment before she noticed Castiel looking at her in concern.
“Are you alright, Jess?” Castiel asked.
Jess shook her head and quickly answered, “Yup.”
“Did Victor argue with you again?”
“Huh? Oh, no. I just had to say you told me, and he agreed with you wholeheartedly. He’s such a kiss-up. Which he might be doing more of since I also told him what you said about his posture. Be warned he might be coming to see you more often.”
Castiel chuckled, “Thank you for the heads-up. Have a good evening.” He turned and walked toward the stairs at the end of the hall.
“You too, Professor!” she said, dialing a number and holding her phone to her ear while she strode back down the hallway in the opposite direction.
The first rehearsal he had with Dean after he apologized was not exactly awkward, but it wasn’t comfortable. In fact it was much like their first rehearsal. He brought Dean coffee and bagels to add to his apology, and they covered a few more steps of the routine. They didn’t have lunch together afterwards.
It got easier after his class was over and Dean was no longer his student. Castiel could feel himself relax more around Dean, and the stiffness of their conversations had smoothed out. Soon after, the lunches after rehearsal returned, as well as the occasional dinner before rehearsal when they started practicing on the weeknights once reserved for the class that was now over.
Dean had picked up on the routine fairly quickly, and the extra rehearsals were only adding to his confidence. He’d even managed to achieve some of the simpler lifts in the routine, and although Cas wasn’t worried about it actually happening, Dean’s happiness about not dropping him every time he completed the lift was contagious. And this time around, Castiel let himself be happy, let himself hold on to Dean longer than necessary when he lowered him down, let himself get closer to Dean, closer than just friends did.
Despite how confident they were getting with the routine, there was still one lift Dean had yet to master and had in fact been refusing to do. It was the most challenging and involved Dean holding Cas up with one hand. Yeah, Castiel wasn’t quite sure what he was thinking when he put that one in either.
“I can’t do it, Cas. I’m telling you, it’s not going to happen. Can’t you change it or leave it out? I mean, I freaking help you do a flip. Isn’t that enough?”
Cas let out an exasperated sigh. “Dean, you haven’t even tried. You’ve achieved all the others; this one isn’t that different. I’m not changing it or leaving it out until we at least try it.”
“So you’re willing to risk breaking your neck just to ‘see?’”
“I’m not going to break my neck.”
“You could! I could drop you, Cas! My arm could just give out on me.”
Cas grabbed ahold of Dean’s flailing arms and squeezed them in reassurance. “Dean, you won’t drop me.”
Dean’s eyes scanned Cas’s as if trying to read something in his look or detect it in his statement. “How can you be so sure?” he asked, his voice small with a hint of fear.
Castiel came closer, still holding on to Dean’s arms. “Because I know you. I trust you. You wouldn’t let me fall.”
Dean gave him a hesitant smile. “Sometimes I worry about how much faith you have in me.”
“You shouldn’t. I only put my faith in those who are deserving of it. Come on,” he said, tugging on Dean’s arms until they moved to the center of the dance studio. “It’ll be easier if we start a few steps before so we have the momentum.” Dean agreed and waited for Castiel to begin counting out the beat before pulling Cas in to start.
Cas didn’t fall when Dean tried to hold Cas one-handed, but it was a near thing. He lasted about two seconds before he added his other hand to distribute the weight and quickly lowered Castiel back down. He tried to get out of it after that first try, but Cas didn’t give up and kept pushing Dean to try again.
After a few more attempts, Cas said they would take a break because Dean was purposefully jeopardizing himself with his nerves. Following their break, when Dean said again that they should give up on it, Cas stopped him and grabbed Dean’s face with both hands to force him to look at him.
“Dean, stop putting yourself down. I know you can do this. If I had thought you incapable of it, I would not have put it in. Now, shut up and do it.”
Dean’s eyes widened and his eyebrows shot up at Cas’s forceful tone. He didn’t say anything more, and despite the encouraging albeit demanding words from Castiel, they didn’t land it the next few tries.
But, after another longer break, they tried it one more time, and it came out perfectly. Dean held him above his head, one-handed, and Cas arched his back to complete the move, grinning the whole time. Dean brought him back down, beaming with pride, letting Cas slide against his body on the way down to the floor, their breathing heavy as they gazed and smiled at each other. It was not until then that Castiel realized what happened.
Dean might have lifted Castiel, but he still fell, was falling, for Dean and didn’t think he’d recover.
And deep down, he didn’t want to.
Without much fanfare, the weather changed from windy and cold to snowy and freezing, and when the ground started thawing and snow turned to rain, Dean realized that the months of practice were finally coming to a close. The date of his and Cas’s performance was a week away, and although he hadn’t had time to really think about it before, it suddenly came rushing to him.
He was going to dance with Castiel in front of a thousand or more strangers. No, scratch that. A thousand strangers plus Sam.
Not that Sam knew yet. He hadn’t said a damn thing to his brother about where he went most nights. It didn’t keep Sam from bugging him about it though and giving him this look like he knew what Dean was up to (even though Dean made up every excuse under the sun as to why he wouldn’t be there for dinner or their semi regular pizza, horror movie, and beer night). He felt guilty about ditching Sam to rehearse or spend time with Cas (because at some point, they started hanging out and not just meeting to practice). But Sam would give him the look and then tell him it’s cool, that Dean couldn’t get mad if he left dishes in the sink as payback, or that he was planning on going over to Jess’s anyway.
Jess was the reason why Sam would be at the dance competition. Jess was performing too, which Dean didn’t know until he saw the same familiar flyer Cas had given him on the fridge beneath an ugly frog magnet (and not pinned inside his closet door).
How could he forget that Sam’s girlfriend was in this? How had he missed this stupid flyer for so long? Uh, probably because you’ve spent zero time at home, his brain helpfully supplied.
For a brief second, he thought about calling Cas and telling him he couldn’t do it, that something came up or he was sick or a vital body part was broken. But he couldn’t do that to Cas. They had been working so hard, and he knew this was important to Cas. It was important to Dean, too. After they had got the difficult lift, Cas decided to add some more twists and flips at the end both because he knew Dean could do it and because he’d been dying to put them in from the beginning but had resisted to keep from overwhelming Dean. Turned out, Dean could do them all, and although he complained aloud, both he and Cas knew he loved doing them as much as Cas did.
Even though Cas tried to hide it, Dean could tell how excited Castiel was for their performance. Cas dragged Dean shopping when it came time to pick out their costumes. When Cas forced him into suits and made him model them, Dean couldn’t decide if the look on Cas’s face was from picturing how they would look dancing while dressed in the complementary outfits or from picturing taking the outfit off of Dean. For Dean when he saw Cas modeling the various outfits, he can safely say that he was thinking of the latter option.
It meant that much more was riding on this performance than just Dean’s pride and Cas’s job and reputation. He and Cas and all that the phrase implied were also on the line. They had grown incredibly close, and Dean could tell they were on a precipice in terms of their relationship or at least potential relationship. Dean could sense that Cas was still holding back. He was no longer causing Dean emotional whiplash, but he was definitely keeping his cards close to his vest.
Wrapping yourself around someone you had feelings for set to the backdrop of sexually charged music would inevitably bring with it certain bodily reactions, ones that both parties knew about and tried to ignore. At first it was just Dean suffering, but eventually he wasn’t alone. Neither one said anything, but sometimes Cas would stare at him and his mouth like it was taking every ounce of will he had not to smash his lips against Dean’s and take care of both their little problems at the same time.
He never did though, as much as Dean wanted him to. He’d clear his throat and declare a break and rush off somewhere, presumably to the bathroom. It was as if Cas had drawn this line for himself in regard to Dean. On the one side, he held all the things he allowed himself to do with Dean, and on the other, what he could not, and Cas seemed so desperate to cross it. But Dean knew how much Cas valued his friendship, his partnership, and how he didn’t want to jeopardize what they had spent so much time building by acting impulsively.
If Dean was ever going to get Cas to cross that line, to see if what they had could be something more, it was going to have to be after their performance.
So Dean pushed down his fears and anxiety about dancing in front of strangers, in front of Sam, because somewhere along the way, Cas became more important to him than his manly pride and reputation. It also helped that he remembered that the students would be done before he and Cas went on stage, and maybe he hoped that meant Sam would watch Jess and then leave.
Of course on the big day, Dean is not that lucky. It’s almost like a slo-mo scene in a movie: Dean’s holding a garment bag with his suit in it and trying to find Cas because he’s not sure if he has to register like all these other people because Cas neglected to tell him. He had in fact practically ran away when they had almost kissed at the end of their dress rehearsal, leaving Dean confused and frustrated. Then he turns and sees Sam, two bouquets of flowers in his hand, and it’s too late for Dean to run and hide because Sam’s already seen him and he’s stuck in a crowd so it’s not like he could get away fast enough anyway.
Sam is grinning as he’s approaching, and Dean is sweating bullets trying to come up with something. He could tell him he saw the flyer on the fridge, and that he’d come to support Jess, or that he was bored and had nothing else to do so why not spend his Saturday checking out men in tight pants? He doesn’t say any of it, though, because when Sam finally fights the crowd to get to him, the first thing he does is thrust one of his bouquets into Dean’s chest.
“These are for you,” he says, still grinning from ear to ear.
“Ah, Sammy, that’s sweet, but my birthday was three months ago.”
“Ha ha. No these are for today,” he says with his eyebrows wiggling.
“Sam, you have a girlfriend. Those eyebrows should be for her not me. That is so wrong, dude.”
Sam rolls his eyes, “Ugh, Dean. You can stop the act. I know you’re dancing today, and I know that all those times you bailed on dinner and horror movie nights were because you were practicing or with your partner or at a dance class.”
Dean’s mouth opens, and he finally takes hold of the bouquet that Sam still has pressed against his chest.
“But, how did you—“
“Jess told me. She overheard you talking to her dance professor. She said she stuck around to peek in the window during your class, and she said you were really good.”
“Oh, so… you’re okay with this?”
“Dean, why wouldn’t I be okay with it? Pretty sure I was okay when you told me you were into guys, and that’s kind of a bigger deal than you sneaking off to a dance class.”
“True,” he says, suddenly deflating. All the fear of Sam finding out seeps out of him and makes him feel silly for even worrying about what Sam would think about his Billy Elliot ways. “You’re not going to tease me about this?”
“Now, did I say that?” Dean lets out a groan, and Sam chuckles before continuing, “I won’t… too much. Not today anyway. I’ll only tease you if you’re bad.” Dean’s brow furrows at the suggestion. “But you won’t be. If Jess says you’re good, then you are. And if you’re dancing with her professor, you must be. Either that or he’s too hung up on you to notice when you step on his feet.”
Dean can’t help the blush in his cheeks at both Sam’s compliment and the joke about Cas. Sam whistles low. “What?” Dean asks incredulously, trying to cover up his moment of vulnerability with bravado.
“You must have it real bad for this guy.”
“Shut up,” Dean says punching Sam in the arm. He feigns being hurt but laughs too.
“I better go find my seat, and you should probably get ready. I’m glad I saw you before you went on. Who knows when I’ll see you after this,” he says with a wink and a nudge in the shoulder. Dean pushes his face away.
“Get out of here, bitch.”
“Good luck, jerk.” He waves goodbye and leaves to find his seat while Dean searches for Cas.
When he finally finds him, the professors have about 10 minutes before they start their portion of the performances. Luckily he had found another professor whom he had seen before named Anna who directed him to where he could change and where to find Castiel (who had been in charge of collecting and passing out scorecards to the judges).
He and Cas are performing last, so they still have time, but that just gives Dean more time to freak out. Cas is already in his outfit: black dress pants and shirt, a silky red tie, and bright red suspenders. Dean had opted out of the suspenders and is wearing all black as well, except for a red shirt beneath his black tie and waistcoat.
Cas doesn’t say anything as he comes to stand next to Dean, waiting just off stage for their turn. He does take hold of Dean’s hand and squeezes it briefly before letting it go. It’s not much, but it’s enough to calm Dean after being on edge the whole day without Cas. Now that Cas is by his side, their shoulders bumping next to each other while they watch the others, Dean’s not as anxious or nervous, the warm presence of Cas enough to keep him grounded.
When their names are called, Cas takes his hand again and leads him to the center of the floor. They get into their starting position, and right before the applause dies down and the music starts, Cas leans in and whispers, “You’re going to be great. I’m right here.” Then he looks up at Dean with a private smile. Dean smiles back and squeezes Cas’s hand in thanks.
The music starts, and they begin moving in sync across the dance floor. Everything else, his nerves, the crowd, melts away, and all Dean can see is Castiel.
Castiel is beautiful, his movements are fluid and graceful, and Dean is surprised he never took the time to notice, too busy worrying about his own strength and footing. Castiel jumps and flips and twirls in Dean’s arms like he and Dean were always meant to do this. Dean ignores the pull in his muscles as he lifts Cas above his head, Cas’s back arching like his body longs to be pressed against Dean’s and is reaching to return.
He can feel Cas’s legs slide and move against his own until they wrap around his waist, and he spins them both, neither one taking his eyes off the other.
A few of the previous performers had parts in their routine where they danced next to each other, but he and Cas’s don’t. He never loses his connection to Cas, a part of them always touching throughout their routine.
The song progresses and with it the intensity of their gazes increases. Cas looks as if he wants to strip Dean in front of everyone, and he almost starts to when he yanks and loosens Dean’s tie. To everyone else, it might seem like part of the routine, but both Dean and Cas know the truth. As much as Dean loves dancing with Cas, he’d rather be doing something else, something that involves fewer clothes. The hunger and heat he can see in Cas’s eyes tells him Cas is probably thinking the same thing. It’s the same looks they had exchanged the night before when they had almost kissed, and Dean hopes it won’t be an almost event again.
They do their final steps as the music crescendos. Dean holds Cas up as they spin, setting him back on the ground before launching him over one shoulder and spinning him back over his other shoulder and again once more to do their last kicks. Dean’s muscles ache and he’s breathing hard, adrenaline keeping him focused on the movements. They’ve rehearsed it so many times though that Dean’s worry about executing the moves are minimal and instead replaced with thoughts of adoration of Cas and how he doesn’t want the song to end, doesn’t want to let Cas go anywhere without him. On the last chord, their routine ends with Cas in the splits and Dean above him, their foreheads touching, and his arms holding on to Cas.
Dean pulls Cas up to his feet, his arms wrapped around him, their foreheads still pressed together, and both of them breathing hard into each other’s open mouths. Dean’s not sure who moves first, but they’re kissing and all he can think about is the way Cas’s tongue slides against his own.
Just as quickly as it started, it stops, and Cas pushes on his shoulder to put some space between them. The audience and their applause come rushing back to Dean. Oh, right, they are still standing on the dance floor in front of a ton of people.
Cas doesn’t let go of his hand, but he stands next to him and pulls on it so they can both bow. Then, he tugs and leads Dean off stage. He stops to whisper something to Anna who smirks, and then he continues pulling Dean toward the elevators. Dean following, his mind in a fog of lust and desire and Cas Cas Cas on repeat.
Unfortunately, there are people in the elevators as they ride up to the floor of Cas’s office, so Dean can’t push him up against the wall and start ripping off Cas’s clothes like he so badly wants to.
Once securely locked inside the office, Dean does push him up against the door, mouthing at Cas’s jaw and neck while he pulls off his tie and unbuttons his shirt.
“Finally,” Cas says on a breath. Dean smirks and pulls back to look at him, his eyebrow quirked up in a question, he continues yanking up Cas’s shirt and stripping him while he waits for Cas to respond. “I have been wanting to do this for two months now.”
“I’ve been wanting to do this since my second dance class with you.”
“Then strip faster, Dean. I don’t want to wait any longer,” he says as he yanks off Dean’s waistcoat. “I almost took this off while we were out there.”
“Well, you did manage to loosen my tie, which definitely threw me off for—“
Cas crashes his lips against Dean’s. “Less talking, more nakedness… and kissing,” he says against Dean’s lips before going back to kissing and nipping at them.
Soon they both have lost their clothes and Cas’s legs are wrapped around Dean’s waist, his back pressed against the door, both of them grinding and rubbing against the other. Neither of them can seem to get a good rhythm and friction in their position.
“Desk,” Cas says, gripping Dean’s shoulders so Dean can carry him to the desk. He pauses and looks down at the stacks of papers before Cas leans over and swipes them all off. “I’ll clean it up later,” he mutters before pulling Dean in for a kiss as he sets his ass on the surface.
Cas pulls at him so that he’s standing over him as he lays out on the desk, his legs still locked around Dean’s hips. Cas can’t seem to decide where to touch, moving from cupping his face to feeling his chest to sliding down his back. They’ve touched and felt the other before, but now without clothes, it’s an entirely new and different sensation, one Dean can’t get enough of.
He feels so good beneath Dean. Without the barrier of clothes, Dean can truly feel the sinews of Cas’s muscles, the slight twitches and tensions of them when he moves a certain way against Cas. He could get lost in the feeling, in the want to categorize every reaction Cas gives him to his touch. Cas pushes him up though, letting his legs fall away from Dean.
Before Dean can protest, he says, “My bag’s on the chair, side pocket.” He gestures toward the messenger bag resting in the corner. Dean rummages through it until he finds a condom and lube.
He almost asks Cas how long they’ve been there, if he had them specifically for Dean or not, but changes his mind and says, “Well aren’t you just the little Boy Scout.”
“Dean, shut up and get over here, and fuck me already.”
“Yes, sir,” Dean says with a salute. Cas rolls his eyes but opens his legs farther in invitation when Dean returns to him.
They’re both too strung out for any kind of patience, so Cas speeds Dean along, barely giving him any time between each added finger before he says he’s ready.
Dean slicks himself up over the condom and presses into Cas, waiting for Cas to adjust before pushing in deeper. It’s nothing like he’d imagined because it’s better than that. It’s the last connection made between them that both of them had needed, had wanted, and it’s amazing. Dean is overwhelmed, slowed by the sensations of Cas around him, and he can’t think of anything else. Cas takes control, thrusting himself onto Dean, until Dean picks up the pace, reminding him of the urgency they had felt moments before. Castiel moves, pulling his legs up to his chest to change the angle of Dean’s thrusts, both of them moaning with every one.
Dean knew Cas was flexible, but now he wants to see just how much, bringing himself closer to climax as he lets his mind create images of Cas bent and twisted in different positions as they fuck. He wants to try them all, to see Cas curved around him with a face of pure bliss.
Cas’s pull on his neck forces him back to the present, to what he and Cas are doing, have been building up to for months. He has time to come back to those positions later, can try them with Cas in the future because now that he has all of Cas, he’s not letting him go. He and Cas have shared many things over the last few months, grown closer and intimate, and it must continue because he can’t imagine being with anyone else. He wants to have Cas forever, to be his partner in more than just dance.
And just as he’s about to chastise himself for having such thoughts so early on, Cas whispers in his ear, “Dean, can I keep you?”
All Dean can do is nod and cover Cas’s mouth with his own before he’s coming. Cas follows soon after.
They rest until their breathing returns to normal, and then Dean cleans them up so they can redress. He’s not sure how long it’s been, but whether the competition is over or not, there will still be people milling around that they will have to face with their debauched appearance.
And one of those waiting people will probably be Sammy who will want to meet his mysterious dance partner.
Seeming to read his mind, Castiel says, “We can’t stay in here forever.”
“We can try though.”
Castiel takes his hand once more, opens the door, and says, “I’m right here.”
With matching smiles and interlocked fingers, they both face the crowd together.
Anna finds them and hands them a gift card to Cheesecake Factory after telling them with a knowing smirk that they owe her for covering for them and accepting the award on their behalf. She adds that no one probably believed her excuse since that kiss was seen by everyone.
Sam and Jess, who placed first in her category, find them too and insist on doing a double date, and Sam invites Cas to the next horror movie night. Dean notices Cas’s boss doesn’t look too pleased, but she doesn’t say anything and Cas ignores her.
Many people offer them their congratulations and compliments. Dean thinks they’re nice sentiments, but he’s happier when Cas says he agrees with them when they compliment Dean specifically. He looks so proud every time he glances Dean’s way, like Cas couldn’t care less what people told him about his performance because the one he really cared about was Dean’s.
The crowd dwindles, leaving Dean and Cas mostly alone. He pulls Cas into a kiss and can feel Cas’s smile against his lips. “Come on,” Castiel says, “I think I owe you pie… among other things.”
And really, how could Dean turn that offer down?
I really hope you enjoyed the story! Give Zee tons of love for her breathtaking artwork!
The story was inspired by this video and is the basis for Dean and Cas's final routine (y'all should watch the video cause it is amazing and sexy and much better seen than any way I could describe it). Also, the lines that Cas says when teaching Dean the basic steps of the Tango (like that it's a game of seduction, and his feet should caress the floor) were legitimate lines from instructional videos I watched on YouTube (because I know nothing about how to do the Tango so I had to do a ton of research). The most helpful of instructional videos was this series of lessons if anyone is interesting in learning the dance!
This whole fic would not have happened had it not been for my tags on the video which spawned a conversation/brainstorming session with Melodie a while back. The story didn't turn out exactly how we talked about, but I hope you like the end result anyway, Melodie!
Feel free to come say hello and fangirl with me on my tumblr!