Castiel became overly self-aware as he walked into his classroom. He didn't make it very far before he felt a familiar tug on the hood of his sweater. Typical of him, Castiel flailed as he toppled backwards, landing on his backpack not with a bang but with a whimper. The air around Castiel erupted with loud bursts of noise. His classmates were laughing at him, this he knew; they always did. Castiel tried to righten his body, but against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand. Until the barrage of noise halted. There was a boy, one Castiel had never seen before, crouching next to him on the floor, and a hand was extended between them.
The tree trunk was stiff against his back, the air cold and the sun shining brightly in his eyes, but Dean's body was warm and supple against Castiel's side. His mind was whirring pleasantly from answering all of Dean's questions. Dean now held a lot of information about his life, and Castiel was enjoying the feeling of connectivity.
“I believe this makes us friends.” Castiel liked hearing Dean's smile, and he basked in the peaceful feeling of Dean's hand slottled against his own.
“How so?” Castiel wouldn't mind having a friend.
“A friend is one who knows [you], but [likes] [you] anyway.” A friend. Strange. No, not strange, new. Castiel decided he liked new things.
Castiel wondered if Dean loved him. Dean had never mentioned such a far-flung notion, but then, they were both strongly aware that love is shown in [one's] deeds, not in [one's] words. Raphael seemed to know how powerful actions were as well, for his fist swung towards Castiel's face in a cloud of hate. Castiel knew this scene well, its many recurrences had dug their way inside his bones, forcing him to memorize its roadmap.
The one road on the map suddenly came to an end, leaving Castiel on the edge of a cliff, wondering where the rest of the road had gone.
“You won't touch him. Not anymore.”
Castiel couldn't slow down his momentum as he raced down the road, and ended up going right over the edge, but Dean was there to catch him. He held him close until the road and the cliff, all of it, fell away, and it was just them. Dean, gentle and strong, secure. Castiel, warm and safe, content.
Dean's deed spoke loudly that day. Castiel knew he was loved. It felt nice, to be loved.
Raphael stayed true to Dean's word. Castiel went about his life, a small, happy smile on his lips, Dean's fingers smoothly intertwined with his, and skin no longer dotted black and blue. Castiel's classmates welcomed him in as though he had always been a close friend of theirs, not as if they had bruised him internally as easily and often as Raphael had bruised him externally.
'Perhaps because I'm happy...They think they have done me no injury.' Castiel could correct their demeanor quite easily, but he figured maybe it was for the best that they moved on, much as he was.
Dean nudged Castiel gently, a cheesy grin on his lips, eyes shining with light from the moon and cheeks adorned with red from the cold wind. His finger was in the sky, pointing to the stars.
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
Castiel let his mind float in the feeling of love heavy between them and the soothing sound of Dean's voice as he bestowed each star with a reason.