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House Of Memories

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“Senior year, huh?”

Cas simply nodded, thumbed over the lip of the half empty bottle of beer in his lap. Ever since sophomore year, Dean had gotten really good at sneaking his Dad’s beers, he had a system down at that point. Of course, Cas always frowned upon him for that, but Dean would always just give him that dazzling, sly Dean smile and ask why Cas always had to be such a buzzkill.

So, after a few years, Cas kind of stopped complaining.

“You know,” Dean began, leaning back on one arm on the dock they were sitting on over the lake on the edge of town. “People always give senior year a bad rap, but I think this year is gonna be pretty good,” Dean told Cas, looking out over the lake where the sun was just starting to set. “I mean, I had a good summer, so why not just keep it going? Summer goes well, beginning of school goes well, rest of the year goes well,” Dean trailed off, snagging the neck of his own beer bottle between nimble fingers and taking a sip. Cas caught the motion out of the corner of his eye and sighed.

“So, you’d chalk your summer up as good?” Cas questioned. Him and Dean had only just met up on the lake for the first time in most of the summer, even though summer was already ending. Dean had gone away at the beginning of the summer for a long family trip leaving Cas stranded at his own shitty house with his own shitty family. Cas had enough nerve to envy Dean, driving around state landmarks with a happy family, Sam and John and Mary. Meanwhile, Cas had to deal with Michael for most of the summer who was starting to stress about funding for their house, bringing Cas in to look at the numbers since Cas was starting to become the second oldest in the house, even with Raphael and Balthazar and Gabriel hanging around every now and then. Samandriel and Anna were still younger even if only by one and then three years respectively, but Michael seemingly put Cas in position to reign over them.

“Yeah, I mean, my summer was pretty good. Some of the drives were really long and being stuck in a car with your family can drive you crazy. But when we stayed in that cabin by Milford Lake I had a thing going with a girl from the campsite,” Dean told Cas, looking over at him and waggling his eyebrows. Cas shook his head and resisted an eye roll as he turned away, trying to focus on anything other than Dean.

The other thing Dean had done over summer? He had gotten really hot.

Puberty apparently hadn’t been done with Dean, not even by the end of Junior year in high school. Puberty took in an already attractive Dean Winchester and spit him out in a new, shiny version of Dean Winchester. Dean Winchester 2.0 if you will.

Dean’s bone structure had become more apparent and his muscles had become more defined. Him and Cas had gone swimming earlier and when Dean had taken off his shirt Cas almost fell over when he saw back muscles he didn’t even know existed on regular humans. Or maybe he did, and just forgot when he saw Dean because not only had Dean’s bone structure and muscles come out, but his eyelashes had gotten darker, his eyes seemingly even more green, skin tan as it had ever been, and freckles, by God the freckles. Dappled all over his cheeks and nose in the most beautiful pattern, it was as if God had strategically placed them there.

Cas, of course, tried to ignore this all, however, and pretended that none of this was appealing whatsoever. It wasn’t connected to a confusion that had started blooming at the end of junior year, no, not at all. It was unrelated and it wasn’t there to begin with.

“How about you, you do anything fun over summer? Have any summer flings out by the lake?”

Cas rolled his eyes at that, and he could hear the teasing in Dean’s tone.

“No, and no. I didn’t even get to the lake that much this summer, the only times I went were when Anna begged me to take her so she could try and meet up with her boyfriend. And then Michael wouldn’t let me have the car because Michael is freaking out about expenses now and he’s terrified I’ll wreck the car. I was working pretty much all summer too, so it’s not like I had free time,” Cas sighed, looking out and squinting at the reflection of the sun on the water.

“Yikes,” Dean hissed, shaking his head.

“Yeah,” Cas replied. “But I shouldn’t complain. It’s not like my life’s falling apart or my world is ending, I’m just stressed.”

‘Stressed would be an understatement,’ Cas thought silently to himself.

“Hey, well, we’ve got a new school year ahead of us and tons of options for stress relief.”

Cas shot Dean a sidelong glance.

“I’m serious!” Dean protested, sitting upright.

“This year will be the most stressful of them all, you know that, right?” Cas told Dean, looking over at him. “College is next and we’ve got to get our shit together for-”

“College is way too far ahead of us,” Dean argued, waving a hand and taking another sip from his beer bottle. “That’s for the end of the year.”

“Don’t you want to apply? Try to get into your choice school? Figure out what your major is?” Cas questioned.

“Cas, how much of this is you talking and how much of this is Michael bitching to you about the funds he’s been saving up for you?” Dean questioned. Cas opened his mouth to protest, then sighed, slumping down a bit.

“I want to go to college, I do, but I mean, yeah, you have a point,” Cas sighed.

“He still pushing you on that?” Dean questioned. Cas pinched the bridge of his nose and nodded.

Ever since Cas’ parents had left when he was only a child, Michael had taken over the family. Cas’ parents had left copious funds for Michael to take care of the family with, but with such a big family, funds were finally being drawn tight.

Michael had tried to get Balthazar, Raphael, and Gabriel to all go through college, though it was a tight squeeze. Cas was next in line, and Michael had enough to split costs with Cas who had been saving up, but because of that, Michael constantly pushed Cas towards college, and Cas had always gone to Dean to tell him about it.

Of course, Cas wanted to go to college, he even had a major, Environmental Sciences, in mind. But sometimes, the push Michael gave was enough for Cas to want to shove back.

“Listen, Cas,” Dean began, putting a gentle hand on Cas’ shoulder. Cas swallowed thickly at the touch and looked over at Dean who had a kind look in his eye. “We’ve got a whole year ahead of us, and the year ahead of us is gonna be great. It’s gonna be a whole coming of age thing and we’re gonna have parties and we’re gonna kiss girls and drink and do some crazy shit to celebrate the fact that we’re old enough to make our own decisions. So finish your beer, take a deep breath, and come back to my house for dinner. Mom’s making a casserole and she put a pumpkin pie in the oven to celebrate our exciting return to our house,” Dean told Cas with a lopsided grin that made Cas’ stomach do this weird flip flop thing that it… had never really done before.

But, Cas just smiled back and nodded.

“Sounds good.”

---

There were only about two weeks left in summer and though Dean and Cas hung out a lot over those two weeks, Cas also spent a lot of time in a simple state of stress as he looked over what he needed, what books he did or didn’t have, the syllabus for the school year which, Dean pointedly told him was bullshit but Cas just gave him an annoyed look and told him that they put out syllabuses for a reason.

Cas also spent a fair amount of time, in those two weeks, trying to tamp down a strange feeling he wasn’t really used to feeling. Around Dean.

To backtrack a little, however, at the end of junior year, Cas had started to feel something different, something unusual that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. It wasn’t really a bad feeling or a good feeling, it just kind of felt like a shifting feeling, like a feeling that promised change.

Initially, Cas didn’t pay it any mind. It wasn’t hurting or helping anything, so why bother looking into it. But slowly, it became more prominent, started to appear in strange ways.

It was like some… some form of nerves that Cas started getting around only certain people.

It didn’t correlate to anything really, in Cas’ mind at least, nor did it give any true patterns that Cas could decipher. Since Cas was always so busy with working at the local farm stand (a job that payed surprisingly well, Mr. and Mrs. Pickett were very generous), and always so busy watching over Anna whom he was pretty close to, even though she was three years younger, just entering freshman year of high school, Cas didn’t have too much time to look into it. All he knew, however, was that it resembled some sort of… fondness. Like an appreciation towards someone.

Cas had a brief moment over summer where he thought over it in a little more depth, where he wondered if whatever he was feeling had to do with the fact that, unlike everyone around him, he never really had childhood crushes, he only hand fond feelings towards people; but never crushes. Or maybe it had to do with the fact that he had never kissed anyone. Or maybe it had to do with the fact that he had never dated anyone.

The bottom line was: Cas didn’t know. The only thing he knew was that he felt unsure a lot of the time, and he felt a lot more careful around people.

And, in the last few weeks of summer, Dean became the person Cas was most careful around.

These fond feelings, those feelings of being pulled towards someone, they centered themselves around Dean.

Cas found himself appreciating Dean more, appreciating things he said or jokes he would make. He found himself appreciating things pertaining to his appearance. Cas found himself growing fond of Dean in a very strange way, in a way that Cas put a lid on and stowed away the second he stepped into the school with Dean by his side, ready to face a new school year. A new school year that Cas had to focus on and make count. There was no room for error.

Walking into school as a senior felt no different than walking in as a junior. Lawrence was a pretty big town but the high school that Cas and Dean went to was a little smaller than most public schools. And with Dean’s popularity, and with Cas always by Dean’s side, it meant that Cas knew most people at school, just like Dean. So, as Dean and Cas walked side by side, Dean was constantly stopping, talking to people, yelling obnoxiously across the halls in a way that made Cas roll his eyes.

They both eventually found their lockers, however, which were the same ones they had last year and also happened to be near each other. They made pretty simple talk, looked over and compared each other's schedules. They had a few classes together, which they were both equally thankful for. It was only when Cas felt a hand on his shoulder that he turned away from Dean, conversation stuttering.

“Oh, Anna,” Cas said, smiling softly as he turned to find Anna standing next to him. “How are things going so far?” Cas questioned. Anna sighed, looked down at the floor before glancing back up at Cas.

“I can’t find my locker. And I already dropped half my books in the middle of the hallway on my way to find you,” she told Cas, grumbling, looking away from him.

“Anna, you know I would have come in with you if you wanted me to. I told you, I don’t mind coming into school with you,” Cas told Anna as he put some books in his locker.

“I know, but do you know how embarrassing that is?” Anna replied. “To have my nerdy senior brother leading me all over the place?”

“Nerdy?” Cas questioned, raising an eyebrow at her. She just rolled her eyes.

“I’m relenting though, I give up. Just, can you help me find my locker?” she questioned. Cas sighed, took one more book out of his locker before closing it and scrambling the lock.

“Not a problem,” Cas told Anna before looking over at Dean, about to open his mouth to tell Dean he was leaving, when he saw that Dean was in the middle of talking to Lisa Braeden.

Cas’ stomach did that flip flop thing it had done when he had seen Dean for the first time, except in a bad way.

Dean and Lisa had history, like major history. They had been off and on dating since about sophomore year, and they were both pretty popular in school, especially as a couple. It was basic locker room gossip if people were talking about if Dean and Lisa were together or not, and if anyone had seen them making out under the bleachers or fighting behind the football field.

They were prone to do both.

But then, Cas could see it in Lisa’s face. He could see the exact same thoughts Cas had had towards Dean when he first saw him. Thoughts of how he had possibly grown an inch taller, how he had more freckles and greener eyes. Cas could see the telltale flirting signs of Lisa’s eye contact, of the way she fiddled with her bracelets and tucked stray strands of hair behind her ears.

And Dean was eating it up.

Dean was just as bad, smiling one of those classic flirty smiles, laughing and looking ever so relaxed.

The last Dean had left it with Lisa was that they broke up at the end of Junior year. Lisa had left Dean for some dude Gregory who was a senior at the time, and it had been no skin off Dean’s nose because Dean was already planning on playing the field over summer vacation.

Which he had.

And it made Cas feel…

“Cas,” Anna said, tugging at Cas’ wrist. “Cas, stop staring at Dean, he doesn’t have the answers to the universe,” she teased.

Cas broke out of what he could have only called a trance for a second to look over at Anna, trying to cover up what must have been a dazed kind of look.

“Locker, yeah, right,” Cas sighed, nodding his head. “Alright, just tell me what number it is and what block of the school it’s in,” Cas said, collecting all his books in his hands, turning to look at Dean one last time when Anna wasn’t looking.

When Cas did, Dean caught his eye, glanced over at Lisa and winked at Cas when Lisa wasn’t looking, giving Cas a little thumbs up. Cas smiled and nodded weakly back before sighing and turning back to Anna.

“Block C, number 645. I looked in Block C but I couldn’t find the six hundreds,” Anna said as Cas took her locker number scrawled on paper into his hand and looked down at it.

“Yeah, that’s because Block C is weird, the even numbers are sometimes off the map,” Cas replied quietly, turning and leading Anna to her locker which was, unluckily for him, halfway across the school.

And, by the time Anna was to her locker, the bell had rung.

And by the time Cas got to his first class, AP Physics, he was late.

His school year wasn’t off to such a good start off the bat.

---

The next and first time Dean and Cas got to hang out one on one again was at the end of the first week of school. The first week of school had been pretty crazy for both of them. Meeting a few new kids, catching up with friends they hadn’t seen over summer, it was all pretty social stuff, school work was sort of pushed to the side. Though, Cas was insistent about it and was probably the only one actually invested in making those first essays and lab projects count. And on top of that, Cas didn’t really feel all that present when socializing. He wasn’t so sure why, but Dean had caught it. Dean had been the only one who caught it.

“Cas, you gotta relax,” Dean told Cas as he propped his feet up on the coffee table in front of the worn and frayed couch that was set down in Dean’s basement. “I can feel your stressful vibes from across the halls in school,” Dean told Cas as Cas tried to get a little more comfortable on the couch, hugging his legs to his chest and letting his head fall back against the back of the couch.

“Forgive my stressful vibes, Dean, I apologize,” Cas sighed, closing his eyes.

“I mean, c’mon, what’s there to be stressed about? Things are going great so far. Hey, did you see me talking to Lisa? She got pretty hot over summer,” Dean huffed.

Cas shut his eyes even tighter.

“She’s single now, too. That douchebag Greg or whatever the fuck his name was is gone now. Guess he moved away or some shit,” Dean sighed, reaching over and picking up a can of Coke, taking a sip.

“So, you’re getting back together with Lisa now?” Cas questioned, not knowing why the idea of that made his stomach tight when the idea of Dean and Lisa together had never bothered him in the past.

“Dunno,” Dean replied, setting the can back down on the coffee table. “She doesn’t seem all too mad at me which is pretty sweet since the last time we talked we were fighting like crazy,” Dean told Cas who was well aware. Dean and Lisa had held multiple screaming matches with one another, all to the glee of the school who got to circulate rumors upon rumors based off of the fights.

“Well, do you want to get back together with her?” Cas questioned, opening his eyes and looking over at Dean to card his reactions. Dean simply shrugged.

“I gotta keep my options open. I mean, this is senior year, y’know?”

Cas rolled his eyes. He was already fed up with Dean’s hype about senior year. Senior year was an important year, sure, but, in Cas’ mind, not for Dean’s reasons.

“Don’t roll your eyes!” Dean protested, sitting up a little more. “We’re seniors so we have more options. And there are at least those two new girls, what, Ruby, Meg?” Dean went on. Cas fought the strong urge to roll his eyes again. “Hey, y’know, I saw Meg eyeing you during lunch the other day and then checking you out in the hall,” Dean told Cas, giving him a suggestive look. Cas sighed and turned away.

“I’m not invested in getting a girlfriend,” Cas argued.

“Oh, come on, Cas, you’ve got to,” Dean said, voice trying its best to be convincing. “You haven’t had a girlfriend all throughout high school.”

Cas glared at Dean.

“It’s just the truth!”

“And it’s something that doesn’t matter,” Cas added on.

“It does matter,” Dean insisted. Cas looked over at him and raised an eyebrow. “You’ve got to at least talk to her.”

“Meg?”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“Caaaaas.”

Cas groaned, dropping his legs down and slouching down on the couch.

“Why her, why Meg? Why not someone I know like Hannah or, or even Becky or-”

“Because they’re all old news and Meg is new, she just moved into town, she’s probably God’s gift to you.”

A dubious look from Cas.

“Listen, I’m just saying, she has P.E. with us on Thursdays, that’s your chance to talk to her. And I can tell she wants to talk to you. She’s feeling you out, watching you, giving you those looks that girls give you, you know?” Dean explained. Cas shook his head.

“No, I actually don’t know because I’m not obsessed with girls,” Cas sighed, looking over at Dean who shrugged.

“Dude, girls are gifts from Heaven, they need to be protected.”

“Oh, so you’ll do the protecting?” Cas questioned, crossing his arms. Dean smiled softly and shrugged.

“What has to be done has to be done.”

“Ugh. You’re unbelievable,” Cas sighed, shaking his head. Dean’s smile only grew.

“What? C’mon, just humor me, okay. Try talking to Meg on Thursday. That’s it, that’s all.”

Cas raised an eyebrow and looked over at Dean.

“I see you’re not benefiting from this in any way. Are you actually doing something for someone else instead of yourself for once?” Cas teased. Dean mocked a laugh for a moment before shooting Cas the finger and turning away, earning a laugh from Cas.

“I’m trying to do something nice for you, Cas, don’t make me regret it,” Dean said, taking another sip from his Coke can.

“I don’t see how this is nice at all or what I will benefit from it,” Cas told Dean, sitting up a little more, crossing his arms again.

“It’ll benefit you because you and Meg will hit it off and then you’ll have a girlfriend,” Dean explained. “Something you’ve needed for a long time,” Dean added on.

“Oh, for a long time?” Cas questioned, raising an eyebrow. Dean rolled his eyes.

“Cas, you’re a lonely guy, you need some good old fashioned companionship.”

‘I thought you were my companionship,’ Cas thought silently to himself.

But, then Cas thought it over some more and thought of how Dean really wouldn’t give up until Cas just talked to Meg. And if all Cas needed to do was just talk then maybe he’d be fine.

“Yeah, alright, I’ll talk to her,” Cas sighed, slouching back down in the couch again. Cas didn’t miss Dean’s extremely wide grin at that. Nor did Cas miss the lurking feeling that no proceeding events were going to go well.

Chapter Text

Thursday came all too quick for Cas who was secretly dreading the whole talking to Meg thing.

Cas had a complicated relationship with girls.

Girls were great, sure, but Cas never understood Dean’s… enthusiasm towards them.

Cas was fond of them. They were nice to talk to, they were very pretty. Cas appreciated them. And, he had tried talking to them in the past, but whenever he did it either felt awkward and stilted, or it felt like easy conversation friends would have.

Strictly friends.

Cas never passed the friendship line because he never really felt compelled to. But, now, Dean was seemingly trying to get him to vault that line after years of not even touching it.

“See, there she is,” Dean said to Cas, pointing to Meg who was halfway across the football field. They were working on running miles in P.E., so Meg was a little ways ahead of Dean and Cas, in the classic gym clothes, blue shorts and a school t-shirt, walking, looking as though she was about to start jogging again. She had been walking with Ruby for awhile before that, but Ruby had started running again, and Meg was left to run alone.

“Now, just be polite, give her a compliment, and make eye contact,” Dean instructed, patting Cas on the shoulder. “Go get ‘em tiger,” Dean said, giving Cas a firm enough pat on the shoulder to push him forwards. Cas turned slightly to send Dean a half hearted glare before jogging forwards, following Meg until he was caught up to her right as she began jogging again. Cas could already feel nerves creeping up underneath him as he cleared his throat and managed a,

“Hey, Meg.”

Meg turned, looking a little caught off guard before smiling.

“Oh, hey. Castiel, right?” she said, looking Cas up and down.

“Yeah,” Cas breathed back, trying to look at her but also the ground in front of him because Cas knew Dean would give him oh so much shit if Cas tripped and fell right on his face while trying to talk to Meg.

“Religious parents?” Meg asked immediately. Cas blinked.

“Um?”

“The name,” Meg went on, still smiling almost slyly. “Castiel is an angel’s name.”

Cas couldn’t help but smile a little as they continued to jog, side by side.

“Yeah, how did you…?”

“My parents,” Meg began, taking a deep breath and trying to even out her own breathing. “Well, my Mom, really, is really religious. Or was. A real Bible thumper, crosses on the walls, saying grace, the whole shebang,” she told Cas.

“Yeah, my parents, both of them, they were really really religious. All my siblings have angel names,” Cas explained.

“No shit,” Meg replied, sounding amused. Cas smiled a little and nodded. “How many siblings do you have?” Meg questioned.

“Six,” Cas replied with a little sigh.

“Oh shit, that’s a lot,” Meg replied. Cas nodded. “Your parents must stay busy, huh?” she went on. Cas shook his head.

“No, my parents, actually, they left a while ago, left my oldest brother to be in charge. He pretty much runs the house,” Cas explained.

“Oh, sorry about your parents,” Meg said, but Cas just waved a hand.

“Par for the course.”

“It’s nice you’re chill about it though. Must be rough with six other kids though,” Meg replied. Cas shrugged.

“Three of my older brothers are in and out of the house, they already passed by college. I’m pretty much the next in line. I only have a younger brother and a younger sister. Other than that, the other four brothers are all older,” Cas went on to explain.

“Predominantly male, huh?” Meg questioned, smirking a little. Cas huffed a breath of laughter and nodded.

“Yeah. The youngest is Anna, and she’s the only girl, like I said. She’s just coming in here as a freshman,” Cas told Meg who nodded. “What about you? Do you have any siblings?”

“Nah, I’m an only,” Meg told Cas with a sigh.

“That must be nice,” Cas huffed, but Meg laughed a little and shook her head.

“To an extent, yeah, but it gets a little lonely sometimes.”

“That’s understandable,” Cas sighed, looking over at her. She shot Cas another small smile before looking away. “So, you just moved here, huh?”

“Yeah, change of pace my Dad said. We used to live out Colorado, but we didn’t have any major ties there so we both figured moving to a different state wasn’t all too bad of an idea or too big of a deal,” she told Cas.

“Can I ask why you had to move?” Cas questioned.

“We couldn’t afford to live where we were living so we needed a cheaper place. Then, like I said, we figured moving to a different state wouldn’t be a big deal, and housing is cheaper over here so we figured why not,” Meg explained, slowing her pace to a walking pace as Cas slowly did the same.

“I feel you on the housing struggle,” Cas breathed out, trying to catch his breath. “My parents left a lot of money for all of us to get by but we’re starting to get tight when it comes to funding. He hasn’t said anything, but I can tell Michael’s thinking about selling the house,” Cas said.

“Is Michael the oldest?” Meg questioned, stretching her arms leisurely over her head.

“Yeah, he’s the one in charge,” Cas sighed.

“If you guys sell the house do you think you’ll still stay here?” Meg questioned. Cas shrugged.

“Maybe, maybe not.”

“Well, I hope you do,” Meg replied, her tone a little softer, smile sly, eyes twinkling. Cas looked over at her and smiled a little before glancing back down. “Hey,” Meg went on, her voice still quiet. “Ruby and I were gonna have a bonfire by the lake tomorrow before it gets cold and all. You should come. And bring some people. You hang around with that Dean guy all the time, right?” she questioned.

“Uh, yeah, yeah we’re friends,” Cas nodded.

“Cool. Sound good?” Meg questioned.

No, it didn’t sound good, not at all, but Cas just found himself nodding.

“Yeah, uh, what part of the lake?” Cas questioned.

“You know that little beach that like no one ever goes to? Tiny parking lot, by the woods?”

“Oh, yeah, right,” Cas replied, knowing exactly where it was, even with such little description. It was a hangout spot for kids, a place where cops nearly never touched which meant lots of drinking and smoking. It was hidden from most streets and Cas had been there in previous years for bonfires and things of the sort.

“Just be there at like 6:45. And remember, bring some people,” she added on. “You got that in you?” she teased with a lopsided grin. Cas huffed a breath of laughter and smiled softly.

“I can, yup, I can handle that,” Cas sighed.

“Cool. See you then, Cas,” she bid, shooting Cas a dazzling smile before turning and jogging away.

Cas’ smile faded the second she turned as he turned around and clasped his hands together, resting them on his forehead as he grit his teeth.

There was nothing Cas hated more than a good old fashioned teenage, Lawrence Kansas bonfire that was always chock full of smoking, drinking, and drama that resulted in perfect gossip material for the next week or so at school.

Cas had been to a few with and without Dean in the past and they almost never resulted in anything good for Cas. But, now Cas knew there was no way he was getting out of this one, not once he told Dean about it. Which, yes, he thought for a moment to not tell Dean, but he knew that if he didn’t and he bailed on Meg and Dean then found out that Cas had bailed, Dean probably wouldn’t talk to him for a week. Or at least a few days.

Dean was stubborn like that.

Cas was just wrapping his head around things, trying to put sense into everything when from behind him, Dean almost barreled him over, wrapping an arm around Cas’ shoulders.

“How’d it go?” Dean breathed out. Cas sighed unhappily and batted Dean’s arm away from him, taking a few steps forwards.

“You’re gonna be elated,” Cas told Dean, giving him a knowing glance. Dean grinned a slow grin that spread over his face and settled there. A grin that was similar to one of Meg’s, but actually offered something. It offered some sort of feeling.

“Meg wants me to come to a bonfire tomorrow at that spot on the lake and she wants me to bring some people,” Cas explained.

“Dude! Do you know what this means?”

‘Pain and suffering,’ Cas thought silently to himself.

“Pray do tell,” Cas sighed.

“It means she wants you,” Dean said, tone excited. “She totally wants you, Cas,” Dean went on. Cas rubbed a hand across his forehead and sighed.

“I don’t care. You know I hate bonfires, Dean,” Cas said, looking over at Dean knowingly.

“Cas, buddy, you gotta make an exception. And we can invite friends, too, to take the edge off,” Dean said as the two walked forwards.

“Like who?”

“Jo can come, we can probably get Bela to come. Garth could come if he wanted, you know, to even out girls to guys ratio. Kevin, maybe, you know?” Dean went on.

“These things always end badly, Dean,” Cas warned truthfully.

“No idea what you’re talking about, buddy,” Dean said, patting Cas on the back. Cas opened his mouth, then closed it, sighing. Cas knew there was no way that Dean was gonna let him off the hook, there was no way he was getting out of this unless Death himself came down and swooped Cas into loving arms.

But it’s not like that was gonna happen.

So, now Cas was stuck with the promise of coming to a bonfire filled with drinking and smoking and pent up teenagers and Dean who was more of a problem than anything else because, well, he was Dean.

Great.

Chapter Text

Whispers circulated school that there was going to be a bonfire the next day. Dean had gone over it with Cas and told Cas they needed to invite the right people, and even though Cas knew there was no such thing, he ignored his inner thoughts, tamped them down and let Dean take the wheel.

That’s what would have happened anyways.

So, Dean immediately invited Bela and Garth, pointing out to Cas that a good girl to guy ratio is what you’re looking for though Cas thought that that was bullshit. After that, Dean invited Jo, and after that Dean told Jo to bring Kevin. Then, after that, Dean told Cas that that was a sufficient base and more people may or may not show up. Apparently it didn’t matter either way, however, because there were enough people coming to have a “good” bonfire.

“Why didn’t you invite Lisa?” Cas asked Dean as they headed to the bonfire Friday night, the sun just setting, dusk falling over the town. Luckily enough, the spot by the lake had been in walking distance for both Dean and Cas, and Cas made sure that Dean wasn’t gonna be driving home, especially in the Impala, especially if he had been drinking.

“Lisa, you know, she’s not the type for these kinds of things,” Dean told Cas, hands in his pockets as they walked leisurely, the park by lake appearing as a tell tale sign that they were getting close.

“She’s been to them before,” Cas offered, glancing over at Dean. Cas paused before raising an eyebrow. “Don’t tell me this is because you’re going after Ruby?”

Dean didn’t answer.

“You’re going after Ruby?” Cas then promptly asked. Dean rolled his eyes next to Cas.

“I’m not “going after her”, alright? I’m just checking her out,” Dean told Cas.

“Dean, she’s not into you,” Cas said pointedly, which was true. “She was checking out Crowley throughout the entirety of last week,” Cas told Dean, which was, admittedly, true.

“Cas, I’m sorry, but I don’t trust you,” Dean replied. Cas rolled his eyes.

“Alright, fine, but when Ruby shows up tonight with Crowley on her tail, just let me say at least one ‘I told you so’,” Cas went on. Dean gave him a sidelong glare.

“Hey, there they are,” Dean said after a pause, spotting two dark figures standing by the edge of the lake. Dean immediately started jogging towards the two as Cas stayed behind him, walking, waiting until Dean was pretty far away to roll his eyes and start jogging, heading down a slight hill and into the sandy alcove where Ruby, Meg, and Dean all were with a pile of unlit wood in the middle of them.

“Had trouble lighting it?” Dean teased, giving both Meg and Ruby that 1000 mega watt smile that was seriously starting to freak Cas out on some strange level.

“No, we were just waiting until someone showed up. You guys are late,” Meg told them both, sounding a little dissatisfied.

“Sorry, Cas made us walk,” Dean replied, shooting Cas a little unamused look. Cas sighed, figuring no one would really care if he gave a lecture on drunk driving. So, instead, he just threw his arms up in the air very halfheartedly.

“I made us walk,” he sighed, turning and looking back in the direction they had come from, a direction Cas greatly wished he could have been pursuing.

“Well, it doesn’t matter,” Meg sighed and she crouched down and worked on the fire starter nestled in the middle of a few blocks of wood. “Did you guys invite some people?”

“They sure did,” came a voice from the opposite direction that Cas and Dean had come from. Looking over, Garth was wandering over with Jo behind him.

“Did you bring Kevin?” Dean questioned, looking over at Jo. Jo smiled a little and raised her eyebrow.

“Kevin had enough common sense not to come.”

“So you’re lacking enough common sense to come?” Dean shot right back.

“Ladies, ladies,” Garth sighed, pointing a hand in the general direction of Jo and Dean. “No bickering.”

“Are you two…?” Meg began, glancing between Jo and Dean. It took a second, but then Dean was scoffing and Jo was laughing.

“No, Dean and I are friends through family. We’ve never, no,” Jo finished off. Dean gave an astute nod.

“Yeah, never,” Dean added on.

Meg looked a little amused as she glanced between them before finally getting the fire to start up, flames spreading to other pieces of wood propped up against each other.

“You invite anyone else, Dean?” Ruby questioned, looking amused. Dean smiled a little and shrugged.

“A few people. They’ll show up,” Dean insisted, and Ruby held eye contact before turning away. Dean glanced over at Cas, already pretty bored with current events, and nodded almost knowingly. Cas shook his head, but Dean just nudged him and Cas sighed.

“Here, Cas,” Meg said, handing over some blankets to Cas. “You can just put these down while we wait for everyone else,” she told Cas who held back a sigh and just nodded, smoothing some blankets out on top of the sandy shore of the lake. Finally, by the time a few blankets were spread out, Bela had waltzed in from across the park.

“So, is this it?” she questioned right off the bat, gaining an eyeroll from Dean.

“This is probably it, to be fair,” Cas replied, gaining a slap on the arm from Dean. “Ow! Dean,” Cas grumbled, rubbing over his arm.

“Well, I brought something that’ll make everything a little more exciting,” Meg said, walking over and rummaging in her bag before pulling out a handful of fireball and menthol nips on one of the blankets.

Cas wanted to rub his temples already.

“And I scored some twisted teas from my cousin,” Ruby added, pulling out two six packs from her bag and setting them down by the fire. Immediately, Jo sat down and Garth settled down next to her. Cas eyed Dean out of the corner of his eye, seeing that Dean was eyeing Ruby who wasn’t looking, but then Cas found that Bela was eyeing Dean intently.

So, Cas just sighed and sat down on a blanket right where he was standing next to Dean. Dean noticed it, however, and nudged Cas, nodding over to Meg who was occasionally glancing over at Cas. Cas sighed, was about to just say something when out of almost nowhere, like some strange, supernatural phenomenon, Crowley wandered into the little campy bonfire site they had going.

“Late, I know, but at least I’m here,” he sighed simply. He looked over at Ruby who was just sitting down and he smiled. “Any room?” he questioned, looking at the space next to Ruby that Dean had been eyeing.

“Plenty,” she replied with a soft, coy smile, letting Crowley sit down next to her.

Cas tried to hold back a grin as he looked up at Dean who glanced down at him.

Cas let a little grin filter through as he mouthed an, ‘I told you so,’ that only Dean saw. Dean only rolled his eyes and glanced back to look over what spots were taken and which ones weren’t.

Cas did the same, finding that on one large blanket next to him was Garth, then Jo next to him. Bela was standing next to Jo, still eyeing Dean (who was oblivious), and then it was Crowley, then Ruby, Meg who was still standing, and then it came all the way back around to Dean who was still standing.

Cas knew that, though no one was saying anything, the setup was, a. not enjoyable and b. awkward. Cas also knew that Dean would kill him if he didn’t sit next to Meg, and then Cas had enough of a brain to know that Bela wanted to sit next to Dean so finally Cas just stood up.

“Bela, come sit over here with Dean. Do you mind if I sit with you, Meg?” Cas asked politely.

“Not at all,” Meg replied sweetly, sitting down on a blanket only big enough for her and Cas.

Cas sat next to her, reasonable distance, not too close, not too far, and watched as Bela came over and smiled softly at Dean, settling down next to him as he smiled back before looking over at Cas and raising an eyebrow just enough for Cas to know that though Dean’s sights had been on Ruby, they were easily switching to Bela.

Cas had to try his hardest to not roll his eyes at that fact.

“Cool, so I’ll take the first drink of the night,” Jo announced, leaning over to Ruby’s blanket and grabbing a Fireball, unscrewing the cap and downing it in one swallow, not even a grimace left behind, only an empty bottle.

“Alright, Jo,” Garth said, smiling as he grabbed his backpack and rummaged around in it. “So, are we drinking to forget tonight or are we drinking to celebrate?”

“Little bit of both?” Meg suggested, reaching over and grabbing a menthol nip. She glanced over at Cas.

“You want one?” she questioned, and Cas took in a breath and held it for a second.

Yeah, Cas drank sometimes. Yeah, he had smoked before. Did he particularly enjoy either activity? No, not really. And with this year starting off so… strange, with these weird feelings towards Dean, with this strange absence when socializing, this thing with Meg that Cas didn’t necessarily want, Cas wasn’t so sure he was up for drinking or smoking in a group with a few of those people being people Cas didn’t even know all too much.

But, then Cas glanced over at those two six packs of twisted teas just lying on a blanket, the tiny bottles of menthol and fireball nips next to them. And then, Garth was pulling out a bag with a few grams of weed and he was grinning at Cas.

“Come on, Cas, pick your poison,” he joked, setting the bag down.

Cas sighed, and shook his head.

Peer pressure is a great thing, isn’t it?

“Yeah, sure. Give me one of the menthols,” he said, looking over at Meg who reached over and grabbed one, handing it over to Cas who sighed a little, twisted off the top. He downed it in one go, knowing it was the best way to do it so that minty alcohol taste slid down a little easier and didn’t last as long.

He let out a huff of air, twisting the top back on and simply setting the empty bottle down in front of him. He glanced over at Meg, saw her do the same before smiling a little over at Cas. Cas smiled weakly back before turning, looking at Dean who gave him an approving nod.

“You having any?” Cas questioned, raising an eyebrow at Dean.

“Sure. Ruby, grab me a tea,” Dean said, gesturing over to Ruby. Ruby gave Dean a mock offended look.

“Can I have a ‘please’?” she questioned teasingly. Dean smiled sweetly.

“Please.”

And then Ruby was handing Dean a can that Dean opened and took a sip from before setting down next to his side.

After that, things got a little more awkward before loosening up. Weird small talk was offered up between everyone. Everyone got their hands on some sort of alcohol, save Garth who never drank, only smoked and passed around a joint that was hit by only Meg and Dean and Crowley. Cas, thankfully, got off the hook on that one, insisting that he would only drink, just like Bela and Ruby and Jo.

After a few nips and teas, and a few hits from the joint Garth had going around, things seemingly loosened up. People's tongues loosened up, Ruby and Meg shared some more facts about themselves, more things pertaining to their past.

Cas listened, he did, but he found himself watching the fire more than anything else, tuning in and out of conversations, rarely offering up too much. He drank a little more, finding that de-stressing himself looked like a good option. He had another menthol and then a fireball, and then worked on a twisted tea, noting that bitter undertone it had, noting that he felt a little looser, a little more calm. Not drunk, but tipsy maybe.

Time shifted a little, certain things were funnier, people’s voices were more interesting. It was just the little things that caught Cas up as he tried his best to tune in, as he tried his best to talk to Meg, to really listen because he knew that that’s what Dean wanted.

And then he found himself looking over at Dean, watching him talk animatedly to Bela and laughing.

Cas tilted his head ever so slightly and took a breath.

Dean looked different.

The light from the fire was playing over his cheekbones, dancing across his face, lighting up his eyes in this way that stole Cas’ breath for a second.

Cas watched some more, looked for those little details of Dean that he knew. He mapped out his freckles, thought of them as constellations. Cas thought to himself that if Dean’s freckles were constellations, real ones in the sky, that Cas would never take his eyes off of them. He would spend every night looking at them, searching for them.

Cas found himself watching Dean’s eyes, the way they glowed and danced and lit up, not just by the light of the fire but on their own. It was like they had a fire of their own. Green, fiery, happy, care free.

And then Cas tilted his head the other way.

And Dean looked different again.

Dean was different from a different angle. Maybe it was the alcohol, but Cas swore he could see a side of Dean that he hadn’t really seen before. Or maybe he had seen once or twice but hadn’t thought about it, or tried not to think about it because it hurt him too much. A side to Dean that was cut off, protected, fenced in.

Cas swore that in Dean’s eyes he could see something underlying that happiness, that care free green gaze that sparkled and sparkled and sparkled. Cas swore there was a side that Dean hid, even from Cas, even from Sam, his parents too. There was something in Dean that Cas wasn’t sure Dean even knew. There was a side to Dean that Cas didn’t know. And that hurt him. It hurt him because Cas knew every single side of Dean there was. Cas and Dean had been best friends since kindergarten. And to think there was a side to Dean that Cas didn’t know…

Cas had an overwhelming urge to talk to Dean, to ask him questions he hadn’t before. To crack Dean open and look inside, to find every part of him, broken or not, flawed or perfect, to find them all and gather them in his arms. To fix those broken parts, maybe, to fix them so he could put Dean back together. Yeah.

Take Dean apart and put him back together.

Know every inch of Dean.

Know even the dark sides, the dirty sides that Dean didn’t want people seeing.

Know the sides that even Dean didn’t know.

That sounded… that sounded like a mission Cas wanted to go on. It sounded like something Cas wanted.

It was something Cas craved.

“Cas?”

Cas slowly tore his gaze away from Dean, looking over at Meg who had said his name.

“Hm?”

“You okay? You looked like you were blanking out for a second,” she told Cas who internally kicked himself, realizing that he had probably been staring at Dean way too much.

“Yeah,” Cas replied, but he shook his head as if he was secretly saying, ‘No, nothing is fine and Dean Winchester is becoming a big problem in my life.’ “Yeah, just distracted,” Cas sighed.

“Oh, alright, good,” Meg replied, smiling. Cas smiled back and gave a little nod, noting in the back of his head how different it was when Meg smiled at him compared to Dean smiling at him. When Meg smiled, it was nice; she had a pretty face, a pretty smile. But, when Dean smiled, something warm happened inside of Cas. Because Dean had a pretty face. And Dean had a pretty smile. And, somehow, Dean’s smiles were different from Meg’s smiles.

“Haven’t had too much to drink, have you?” she teased with a knowing smile. Cas laughed a little and shook his head.

“No, there’s a ways to go before I’ve had too much,” he told her truthfully. “And I usually don’t get drunk unless I’m really stressed or, y’know, trying to forget something,” Cas sighed.

“That’s not necessarily a good mentality,” she warned, grinning as Ruby passed her what was the very end of the joint that had been passed around. “That’s how alcoholism starts,” she went on before taking a long drag from it, taking a second before letting it out in a smooth exhale, promptly flicking the very last of the ashes of it into the fire.

“Ah, you got me there,” Cas sighed. “But I don’t really think alcoholism is for me,” he said, dimly aware of how stupid that sounded. Meg laughed.

“I don’t think alcoholism is for anyone really,” she told Cas. Then, a little more seriously, “My Mom was an alcoholic.”

“Oh, yeah, you mentioned her the other day. You said she was really religious,” Cas replied, reaching in the back of his brain to pull out that information.

“Yeah, she was. But she was also a raging alcoholic,” Meg sighed. “She left my Dad and I eventually, y’know, said she didn’t want to hurt us and shit. Bullshit in my opinion,” Meg trailed off. Cas was aware that it was his time to comfort Meg, maybe even rest a gentle hand on her knee or something. But all he managed was,

“That sucks.”

Thankfully, Meg laughed at that one and Cas smiled softly.

“Why do you drink then? Y’know, if your Mom was an alcoholic, it might run in the family,” Cas told her as if she didn’t know. She shot Cas a sly smile before taking a sip from the can of tea she was drinking.

“Just like you. I drink to forget.”

Cas blinked.

“That’s how alcoholism starts,” Cas pointed out, repeating Meg’s words from earlier. Meg grinned.

“Touché.”

And then there was a long period where Cas and Meg simply stared. Cas looked into her eyes, compared it to looking into Dean’s and thought to himself how odd it was that he didn’t see as much in Meg’s eyes. He saw the obvious flirty, twinkle in them, but there wasn’t that… fire that Dean’s eyes had.

Cas thought to himself that he would much rather be looking in Dean’s eyes instead of Meg’s eyes.

“Hey, so what are we doing after this?”

Jo’s words broke apart the little staring contest Cas and Meg had gotten themselves into.

“Yeah, fire’s starting to go out,” Garth added. No one said anything for a moment before Cas gathered his thoughts and spoke.

“Um, well, I should probably go. Curfew and all, y’know,” Cas trailed off, standing up, stumbling just a bit. “Dean, do you…?” Cas began, knowing that him and Dean had walked there together and figured they’d leave together.

“Well, I was gonna take Bela home. She shouldn’t be walking in the dark, y’know,” Dean suggested, looking over at Bela with a flirty little smile that made Cas frown.

Cas didn’t like that, none of it. He didn’t like that Dean was taking Bela to her house, that he wasn’t going home with Cas. He didn’t like the way he looked at Bela.

None of it.

“Why don’t you take Meg home? Meg, you walked here with Ruby, right?” Dean said, glancing between Meg and Ruby who both nodded. “Cool. Yeah, Cas bring Meg home, Crowley and Ruby can do whatever and same with Garth and Jo,” Dean suggested as a collective nod went around the circle. Cas was a little late to nod, but eventually he did, glancing down at Meg.

“Do you…?” Cas began, and Meg seemingly understood the unsaid question.

“Yeah, I should probably go now anyways,” she told Cas. Cas nodded, then, after a moment, held out his hand, letting Meg take it as she stood up, stumbling a bit too.

“Cool. We’ll see you guys later,” Dean said as Cas continued to hold Meg’s hand as he led her off the little campsite.

“Yeah, this was fun, we should do it again,” Meg called back.

“Yeah, definitely,” Dean replied, looking over at Cas. Cas caught eye contact with Dean, and for a second, Cas felt this… confusion pass between them. Dean furrowed his brows just slightly, and Cas simply looked away as quickly as he could, heading up to the park with Meg by his side.

It was only when him and Meg were on top of the hill that Cas remembered they were holding hands.

“We’re holding hands,” Cas stated dumbly, earning a nice laugh from Meg.

“We don’t have to,” she offered. But, Cas thought about Dean, about how Dean would be happy if Cas told him that he had held Meg’s hand all the way home. All the way home.

And Dean being happy was all Cas wanted.

Cas tightened his grip slightly on Meg’s hand and shook his head, attempting a smile.

“No, this is, this is nice,” Cas sighed, letting his other hand slip into his pocket. “You’ll have to lead the way though, I don’t know where you live,” Cas pointed out.

“Yeah, it’s just this way,” Meg said, pulling Cas across the street. “It’s pretty close which is nice,” she continued on, leading Cas down the street.

“Yeah, it must be nice to be so close to the lake. I’m a little farther away,” Cas told her.

“You still walked though?” she questioned. Cas nodded.

“Yeah, Dean, he lives near me and we wanted to come together and I knew that at least he would be drinking and I didn’t want him driving. It’s worth even a long walk, y’know?” Cas explained.

“That’s a good set of ideals you have there,” Meg said, smiling softly. Cas huffed and shook his head.

“It’s common sense,” he replied. “Drunk driving is so fucking stupid,” Cas sighed.

“Yeah, I agree,” Meg replied.

“And Dean, y’know, he drives his Dad’s car, and if Dean wrecked his Dad’s car, he’d be dead,” Cas explained. “It’s this ‘67 Chevy Impala. Dean treats it like it’s his child,” Cas went on, smiling fondly.

“It’s nice he has something like that, y’know, to care about so much,” Meg replied. Cas nodded.

“You’re right. Life is a lot better when you have something to really care for.”

“Or maybe it’s not,” Meg said, and Cas looked over at her curiously.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, when you care so much about something, you put a lot of yourself into it, y’know. And then if it dies or gets taken away or wrecked, it’s like you’re losing some of yourself. You go through all that pain and anguish,” she went on.

“But it’s worth being able to care for that thing, to love it,” Cas argued. Meg quirked a smile.

“You might be right. I don’t know myself, personally. I just think it’s an interesting topic to debate,” she continued. There was a pause before she went on. “What’s your ‘67 Chevy Impala?” she questioned, half teasing, half serious. Cas smiled, thought about it for a moment. He didn’t have any material objects that he put so much care and love into. He only had people.

Like Dean.

And then it hit him for a second.

Maybe Dean was that one thing. Maybe Dean was that thing that he put all his love and care into.

“Can it be a person?” Cas questioned quietly.

“Sure,” Meg shrugged. Cas sighed, thought a little more.

“I don’t think I have one right now,” he told her softly. “Do you?” he then asked after a small, very quiet pause.

“I don’t either.”

Cas looked up at Meg, and she had a sadness tinting her eyes. There was also a very suggestive look in her eye, a look that usually preceded kissing and Cas was not about to get involved in that so he just said,

“That sucks.”

Meg didn’t laugh, but she grinned slyly and looked away.

“Yeah. Maybe. Maybe not.”

“Do you want something like that in your life? Y’know, if you think it’s not all too beneficial to have something you really really care about, do you still… want that?”

Meg paused.

“I think so, secretly. Yeah. Honestly, I think everyone secretly, really deep down, wants to be able to have their ‘67 Chevy Impala,” she replied, glancing up and over at Cas.

“Well, you’ll find one. It’s just a matter of time,” Cas told her.

“Yeah. I might have to wait a lifetime though,” she teased, smiling over at Cas.

“You won’t have to wait a lifetime.”

“And how do you know that?” she questioned. Cas sighed.

“Well, I don’t. But I have a feeling,” Cas told her.

“Do you base most premonitions on feelings?” she asked. Cas paused, thought for a moment.

“You ask good questions,” Cas simply replied, and Meg laughed.

“Only when I’m stoned. Or tipsy. Both in my current case,” she told Cas who quirked a little smile. “You sound like you ask good questions even when you’re sober,” she went on. Cas shrugged.

“Of course I’d like to think so, but I’m not so sure,” Cas sighed. “I think I’m at my best when I’m alone.”

“Oh, so you’re a loner type?” Meg inquired. Cas shrugged.

“Not necessarily, but I’m more of an introvert,” Cas explained.

“Yet, you hang around with Dean Winchester?” she teased. Cas snorted.

“Yeah, we can be opposites sometimes, but I think that’s what makes us good half the time.”

“Does he drag you to a lot of these kinds of things? Parties and such?”

“What makes you think he dragged me here?” Cas questioned, furrowing his brow and looking over at Meg. Meg smiled softly.

“Cas, I’m not an idiot. I could tell that you were hesitant to come here. It seemed like Dean was the one who really wanted you to come,” Meg explained. Cas sighed and shook his head.

“I did want to come, really, it’s just, bonfires aren’t my type of thing. I’m a quieter person. And not one for drinking and smoking,” Cas went on.

“Well, maybe next time we could do something more quiet,” she offered softly.

“Like what?” Cas questioned, looking over at her. She shrugged.

“Maybe we could all go for a hike next time. There are those trails by the lake,” she said, trailing off.

“Oh yeah,” Cas replied, wondering to himself what it would be like to substitute a bonfire with a hike.

“But, I don’t know. I just, well, I had a nice time tonight. It was nice to hang out with you,” she told Cas, smiling slightly.

“Oh,” Cas said softly, pausing. “That’s a compliment.”

Meg laughed.

“It is,” she replied with a nod. Cas paused for another second before realizing he was supposed to say something back.

“Well, it was nice to get to know you a little more tonight,” Cas said cautiously, aware of Meg biting her lip, looking like she was trying to hide a smile. “And, y’know, if you want to have another bonfire, I’ll come. If you want me to,” Cas quickly added. It was just short of a lie since if Meg held another bonfire, Cas would fucking dread it. But he would go. Why? Well, he really wasn’t so sure at that point.

“Oh, this is me,” Meg said, slowing her walking to a stop, looking up and over at a small, little worn down house.

“Oh, right,” Cas said, awkwardly dropping Meg’s hand. He turned and looked down at her as she tucked some stray hair behind her ear.

“That’s nice of you to say. To sacrifice your comfortability for coming to a bonfire,” she teased. Cas smiled and looked away.

“I, yeah, well, I’m a nice guy I guess,” he said, voice a little more quiet as he turned back to Meg who was biting her lip again. There was a small, somewhat awkward pause before Meg sighed.

“Well, I’ll see you on Monday, I guess,” she said, slowly stepping backwards and towards the walkway of her house.

“Yeah, Monday,” Cas replied, nodding.

“Thanks again, y’know, for coming,” she added on. Cas smiled and waved a hand.

“It’s no problem at all.”

But it kind of was a problem, Cas thought to himself as he watched Meg disappear into her house.

Cas turned, heading back down her street, knowing he would have to backtrack to get to his house which meant more walking, more walking in the dark when Cas was tired and tipsy.

Cas sighed, rubbed a hand across his forehead and tried to tamp down all stray feelings inside of him that he couldn’t identify. He was completely done with feeling things he hadn’t felt before, he was done with feeling things he hated. He was done feeling uncomfortable.

He looked up at the night sky that was present in between trees that adorned the edges of the street he was walking on. The stars were out and they were beautiful, dappled all across a navy blue sky. And suddenly, Cas was thinking of constellations, and then Cas was thinking of Dean. Dean and his freckles, freckles that could be constellations if they wanted.

Cas walked down the very middle of the street, stumbling slightly, still tipsy as he watched only the sky, trying to find patterns that matched the patterns of freckles on Dean’s face. And then Cas thought to himself how wonderful it was to look up at a beautiful night sky and think of someone. That was something that he had heard of in romance novels, in cheesy little stories about star crossed lovers. People would look up at the sky and think of someone. The someone that they thought of was usually the person they loved, the person they had fallen for. It was just like when you looked out at the ocean. Whoever you thought of when you looked out at the ocean, people said, was the person you loved.

There was a record scratch in Cas’ alcohol blurred mind.

That fondness that had been developing over past weeks curled itself into a warmth that spread when Cas looked at the sky and saw Dean, thought of Dean. And that definitely meant something.

That meant a lot more than what Cas was willing to address or even think about.

So, Cas let himself have a little daydream on his stumbling way home. He let himself have that idea that Dean was in the stars, in the night sky. And then, once he got home, got in bed, looked up at a blank ceiling, he pushed it all down, deep deep down.

He should be thinking of Meg when he looked at the sky. For all Cas knew, Meg thought of Cas when she looked at the sky.

Cas fell asleep thinking it over.

Cas fell asleep knowing that he couldn’t keep thinking things that were as stupid as Dean’s freckles being constellations.

Cas fell asleep, and instead of dreaming of stars, he dreamed of bright green eyes that had a secret side to them. A side Cas had never seen but wanted to with all his heart.

Chapter Text

The next morning, thankfully a Saturday, Cas woke up with a semi manageable hangover. It was mostly some dizziness and a bad headache, but as Cas sat up in bed there was a small wave of nausea that passed through him and made him groan.

Cas got up and immediately went for some aspirin and then wandered downstairs for a glass of orange juice, only to find out that the carton was empty and one of Cas’ biggest pet peeves was someone leaving empty containers in the refrigerator.

“Anna!” Cas yelled, voice very rough. He immediately regretted the yelling part when his head pounded in response.

“What?” Anna shouted back from upstairs. Cas took a breath and let it out, grabbing the empty orange juice carton and stomping upstairs to Anna’s room. He immediately opened the door, no knocking, which got Anna pissed off right off the bat.

“Jesus Christ, try knocking next time,” she grumbled from where she was still curled up in bed with her phone in front of her.

“What is this?” Cas questioned, holding up the orange juice container and shaking it a bit. Anna paused and raised an eyebrow.

“Orange juice?”

“No, it’s an empty orange juice container that I found in the fridge. How much does it take to just throw this away when you’re done with it?”

“How do you know Samandriel wasn’t the one who left it there? Or Michael?” she offered.

“Because they both have the common fucking decency to throw away empty containers!” Cas exclaimed, shaking the orange juice more vigorously. Anna sighed and shot him a displeased look.

“Cas, why’d you have to go out and drink last night?” Anna questioned. Cas thought for a moment to be indignant, to tell her that she didn’t know that for sure, but then sighed and decided against it. Cas nearly never drank orange juice unless he was hungover and he only got really short tempered with Anna if he was hungover. The signs were pretty obvious.

“I didn’t even want to drink. Dean dragged me to this stupid fucking bonfire because Meg invited me and Dean wouldn’t let me not go so I had to,” Cas explained in a huff of breath. Anna sighed and sat up some more in bed.

“Meg is that new girl, right?”

Cas nodded.

“And she likes you?”

“Dean thinks that she does,” Cas grumbled, looking away from Anna.

“And do you like her?”

Cas paused hesitantly.

“I mean… she’s nice. She’s pretty,” Cas told Anna. Anna smiled softly and raised an eyebrow.

“Just because she’s nice and pretty doesn’t mean that you like her,” Anna told Cas who sighed, threw his hands up in the air.

“I know that,” he sighed. “I know that,” he then repeated, more quietly.

“Cas, come sit for a second,” Anna offered, sitting up in bed and patting the side of it, setting her phone aside. Cas sighed and walked over, sitting down on the edge of her bed and slouching over. “Cas, listen, I’m your sister, so I want to help.”

Cas gave her a dubious look.

“Okay,” he replied cautiously.

“I know you and your past, and I’m not dumb enough to pretend that I don’t know you’ve never had a girlfriend.”

Cas shot her an unamused look.

“You don’t know…” he began, trailing off and rubbing a hand across his forehead with a sigh. “Alright, yeah, I give up. I’m an open book, read me some more. Tell me about my empty romantic past and my barren love life,” Cas joked dryly. Anna smiled a bit and leaned forwards.

“I just want to help you out with Meg for a second, alright? Get some insight into a girl’s mind. You’re constantly surrounded by guys,” she pointed out. Cas took a breath and nodded. “Just tell me why you’ve never had a girlfriend.”

Cas gave Anna another dubious look.

“I never… I never really wanted one.”

“Why?”

That was a good question - that Cas wasn’t sure he had the answer to.

“I just, I never felt like I needed one,” Cas shrugged. “I never saw a girl who I really fell for,” Cas added on.

“Have you ever seen anyone you’ve fallen for?” Anna asked. Cas had to think for less than a second before someone popped into his brain; the first someone that had made Cas really feel that growing fondness people explained they felt when they got crushes.

Dean.

Cas swallowed thickly and looked down, suddenly entranced by the nutrition facts on the side of the orange juice container he was still holding. There was no way Dean could be that person… could he? There was no way… no, no there couldn’t have been. Dean was a friend, a best friend and he was a guy, he was male, he was not a girl and girls were the gender that Cas was supposed to be captivated by.

“Listen, I don’t want to talk about this anymore, alright?” Cas said, rising from Anna’s bed and pointedly not making eye contact. “I still have a headache and I don’t want to think about Meg right now,” Cas sighed, making his way to Anna’s door.

“Cas, wait,” she called out. Cas turned to face her with a sigh.

“What?”

“You know you can tell me anything, right?”

Cas swallowed thickly once more before nodding.

“Yeah, Anna, I know.”

And then Cas was leaving, closing the door behind him and trying to push all thoughts of Dean, of Meg, of the stupid fucking feelings that came with them down as far as they could go.

But it would only be so long before they rose back up to the surface.

---

Cas pointedly avoided Dean over the weekend. Dean had texted Cas later on in the day on Saturday, but Cas ignored it, turned his phone on silent, left it on Do Not Disturb. Cas spent Saturday and Sunday trying to drown himself in homework and projects and anything school related, anything to get his mind off of Meg and Dean. And it worked, somewhat, but Cas knew that the tide would come in eventually and wash away the little wall Cas had built up around himself over the weekend.

Sure enough, Monday came and Cas was able to avoid Dean until lunch when Dean found him eating lunch by his favorite spot behind a big maple tree in the school courtyard. Cas’ stomach did a very strange thing when he saw Dean walking up to him, smiling. All Cas could think of was the way Dean’s face had looked when they were by the bonfire, how Cas had been able to capture a sparkle in his eye. That same sparkle was still there as Dean came up to Cas and plopped down right next to him.

“Dude, you didn’t answer any of my texts,” Dean said, nudging Cas.

“My phone was on silent. I was doing a lot of studying,” Cas told Dean, staring down at his lunch, trying to avoid looking directly at Dean. Looking at Dean had quickly become similar to looking right into the sun. Very blinding.

“Well, you gotta tell me how it went. You walked Meg home. And you guys were holding hands too, I saw you guys when you left,” Dean went on, nudging Cas again.

“Yeah, but it wasn’t spectacular,” Cas sighed.

“What do you mean? Did you guys not kiss?”

“No,” Cas snorted incredulously.

“What?” Dean questioned, dragging out the word. “Why not?”

“We weren’t into it. I walked her home and held her hand because it was just… it was convience more than anything else. And she didn’t care. I even asked her and she said she didn’t care. And we walked home, holding hands. I brought her to her door, and she left.”

‘And then I looked up at the sky and thought of you my whole way home,’ Cas silently added on in his head.

“Okay, were you not into it? Is that what happened?” Dean questioned. Cas rolled his eyes. “Dude, you should have seen the way she was looking at you during the bonfire. She was ogling at you!” Dean exclaimed. “Meanwhile, you were blanking out. Why weren’t you talking to her more? You just kept staring at the fire,” Dean went on.

“I told you I hate bonfires and I wasn’t feeling social. Forgive me,” Cas replied dryly, gaining an eye roll from Dean.

“Dude, you’ve gotta get your head in the game. Meg obviously likes you and this is your chance. This is your chance to have your first girlfriend, first kiss, first date, all that romantic shit. Don’t you want that?”

‘No,’ Cas thought silently. Instead, he just looked over at Dean, unamused and dubious.

“Come on, Cas, I know you. And like I said, you need some good companionship,” Dean added on. “Meg is like a gift that God placed directly in your lap.”

“I just…” Cas began, sighing. “She’s not special to me.”

“Yet,” Dean said pointedly, pointing a finger over at Cas. “Sometimes you’ve just got to warm up to a girl a little. I mean, look at me and Bela. I was set on Ruby at first, that asshole Crowley came in, and my options were sparse. So, it took a little warming up, but I realized that Bela is hot, and she’s funny,” Dean told Cas who really really wanted to cover his ears and or shut Dean up. Hearing about Dean’s relationships with other girls was another thing that was becoming very uncomfortable.

“We ended up making out after I dropped her at her house. She’s a pretty good kisser too,” Dean hummed. Cas sighed.

“So, what, now you’re gonna go date Bela?” Cas suggested, glancing over at Dean who made an incredulous face.

“What? Hell no. She’s not my type,” Dean told Cas matter of factly in a way that made Cas even more frustrated. “You know, you had a point when you were talking about Lisa. I know that I should probably be keeping options open and shit, but Lisa is looking good right now. You know, she’s single, hot, she’s a great kisser,” Dean went on.

It was a feat for Cas to legitimately not cover his ears.

“We have history and all and I know her pretty well. I might end up going after her,” Dean sighed, crossing his arms.

“You think she’ll take you back?” Cas inquired. Dean snorted.

“I fuckin’ hope so. I’m guessing yeah, she was definitely flirting with me a few weeks back and she gives me these looks in History sometimes. I think my chances are set for me rather than against me,” Dean said with a nod.

“Well, that’s good for you,” Cas murmured, picking at his lunch. He had lost his appetite the second Dean had waltzed over with that sly smile.

“Yeah, well, Cas, I think you’re missing the facts that the cards are stacked up for you too,” Dean went on. “With Meg, y’know? That’ll be easy. Just ask her on a date and I guarantee she’ll give you a yes.”

“Really?”

Cas’ voice was dull as he looked over at Dean once more. Dean smiled and nodded.

“Get to know her a little more and then ask her to go somewhere nice. She still had P.E. with you on Thursdays, you’ve got a major chance,” Dean told Cas. Cas sighed.

“I don’t know, Dean.”

“At least humor me, alright? At least keep in touch with her. Even if it takes you forever to ask her out on a date, at least you’ll have someone to talk to,” Dean said, patting Cas on the back before standing up.

“Where are you going?” Cas questioned, brows furrowed.

“I got Garth to help me with Physics homework, he said he’d help me during lunch,” Dean replied. Cas frowned.

“Why didn’t you ask me?”

Dean always asked Cas for help on his homework, he never asked anyone else. Cas always liked to study with Dean or at least help him instead of giving him answers point blank, but he had to admit that sometimes he had just given Dean a sheet of answers and let Dean do some filling out on his own paper.

“I did. Texts, remember? You didn’t answer any of them,” Dean told Cas. Cas frowned even more.

“Oh.”

“Yeah, turn your ringer on next time, buddy,” Dean said, giving Cas a pat on the shoulder. “I’ll see you later!” Dean called out as he began jogging away, back in the direction of the entrance to the school. Cas watched him disappear before letting out a very heavy sigh and letting his head fall back to rest against the tree he was sitting by.

Of course in trying to help himself, Cas only made things worse, only made himself frustrated and upset because he had no problem with Garth, but Cas had a problem with Garth helping Dean do his homework. He had a problem with it because that was and always had been his job. It had been Cas’ job to do flashcards with Dean. It had been Cas’ job to always be there for Dean when Dean needed to know the quadratic formula which he never knew because he had a mental block on it and Cas was the only one who knew that. Cas was Dean’s best friend, his best friend for years and years and Cas suddenly felt like that was fading. Cas felt like there was a disconnect between them, like Dean was on a different track than Cas. Hell, Dean was on a different track than Cas. He was drinking, smoking, going to bonfires and enjoying them, kissing girls and telling Cas all about it. And Cas was just confused, trying to figure out weird things and weird feelings, not feeling comfortable in his own skin, not feeling right anymore.

The worst part was that their differences, Dean and Cas’ opposite ideals, were what made them a great pair. But now, it was as if the tables were turning. Dean being this huge ladykiller and Cas being more quiet and shy had always been a dynamic that was wanted, a dynamic that made for a fun friendship since Dean could talk about how many girls he had kissed and Cas could just roll his eyes. But now, it was Dean telling Cas things he didn’t want to hear and Cas being pushed into a relationship he felt odd about.

Dean was always extroverted and Cas was always introverted and it always worked, gave them something to laugh at when Dean wanted to party and Cas wanted to read. But now, it was Dean wanting to party, Cas wanting to stay home, and Dean dragging him to a party anyways.

Nothing felt right anymore. And it was only the beginning of the school year.

Cas felt like a puzzle had just been dumped straight out of the box and set messily in front of him, and there was some ominous timer going in the background, ticking away.

Cas felt lonely, for some reason, for some reason he didn’t know, a reason he could barely describe.

The worst part was, Cas was lonely when there were plenty of people around. Cas knew so many people at school whom he liked or who liked him. And Dean. Cas had Dean. But somehow, he still felt lonely. Lonelier than he had been in awhile.

Chapter Text

The rest of the week was a little bit of a blur for Cas. He kept his head down mostly, paid attention to school work. Him and Dean still talked, hung out after school or during lunch. Cas mostly tried to keep all feelings involving Dean at bay, and it worked, somewhat. Then, Thursday swooped in and Cas found Dean harassing Cas once more about Meg. So, this time, Cas kept his mouth shut, didn’t complain because he knew that would get him nowhere, and he jogged up to Meg who was still working on running miles like everyone else.

“Hey, Meg,” Cas sighed, trying and failing to keep tiredness out of his voice.

“Oh, hey, Cas,” she greeted, smiling softly over at him. “You sound like you’ve had a tough week.”

Cas could only laugh at that because he knew if he didn’t laugh he’d probably yell or scream or just simply fall to the ground and not get back up for a long while.

“I’m hanging in there,” Cas replied meekly, glancing over at her and giving her a small smile, the only smile he could muster. She smiled back before looking away.

“Did you have a hangover or anything after the bonfire?” she questioned. Cas huffed a little breath of laughter.

“A little one, yeah. I had a headache and I felt shitty. I tried to get some orange juice to cure it, y’know, since orange juice is always good for hangovers but my sister left the empty carton in the fridge and I went off on her about that,” Cas recalled, trying to leave out the part where he had sat down with Anna and talked about Meg and thought of Dean promptly after.

“I have that same pet peeve,” Meg laughed. “Except, usually I’m the one at fault. I just put the milk carton back in because I’m lazy, next time I go back, it’s there, and I have no one to be pissed at except myself,” she told Cas who laughed a little.

“Did you have a hangover?” Cas then asked, and Meg shrugged a little.

“Just like you, I had a little one. Nothing I couldn’t handle though,” she sighed.

“That’s good,” Cas replied, giving her a little nod.

“I think you had a point about those bonfires though,” she said slyly, glancing over at Cas. “You might be right about the drinking and smoking and all. Might just be nice to do something quiet,” she added on. Cas smiled softly.

“I’m glad I could enlighten you somewhat,” Cas replied, and Meg chuckled.

“So, if you’re so quiet all the time, what do you do in your spare time?” Meg asked.

“Read, write a little sometimes. And I like doing anything involving nature. Our house, it has a nice back garden and I’m, well, I’m the only one who takes care of it. Samandriel is always too busy, Michael couldn’t give a shit, and Anna has really bad allergies. So, I take care of it and sometimes just sit outside, y’know. It’s nice to watch the bees come to the flowers or to watch the way the flowers look in the wind,” Cas explained. Meg smiled warmly over at him.

“That sounds really nice,” she replied. Cas nodded a little.

“Nature has always been my thing. I work at the Pickett farm stand actually. There’s a lot of cash register work and all, but there’s also a lot of gardening or tending to plants,” Cas added on, Meg listening intently. “That’s what I’ve kind of figured I’ll do for college. Environmental Sciences,” Cas added on.

“Ah, a science guy, are you?” Meg questioned, grinning. Cas smiled back and nodded a little.

“Science has always been a strong subject for me. Biology is my favorite course.”

“Biology? Seriously?” Meg asked. Cas turned to her with a little smile.

“Yeah, why?”

“Oh man, nothing against you but I hate Bio,” Meg said and Cas laughed.

“No, no, it’s very understandable. Biology isn’t for everyone.”

“Yeah, it’s not for me,” Meg went on.

“So, what is your favorite subject?” Cas questioned.

“English,” Meg replied. “I mean, technically, Math is my strongest subject. Not to brag but I’m pretty quick when it comes to Math,” Meg said, glancing over at Cas. Cas shook his head.

“You’re not bragging at all,” he assured her with a warm smile.

“So, even though I’m best at Math, English is my favorite. I mean, I’m not terrible when it comes to English, I’m just not all too, I don’t know, flowery with my words,” she explained, waving a hand.

“You don’t have to be flowery to be good at English,” Cas told her with a shrug. “English is pretty subjective, in my personal opinion. The language is very malleable - to an extent at least. If you’re writing a proper, classic essay, tone and diction need to usually stay in a certain range, otherwise whoever is grading will dock down your grade. But, if you’re just writing or reading for free or for fun, everything is endless. There’s no wrong way to write, and there’s no wrong way to read. English is a comfort, in my opinion,” Cas added on. Meg grinned widely over at Cas.

“Well, jeez, Cas, you could be a poet,” she said, and Cas laughed a little, shaking his head. “I’ve never met someone so literate,” she went on.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Cas stated, and Meg’s grin grew a little more coy.

“You should,” she replied quietly. Cas looked over at her and they held another one of those small staring contests where Meg’s eyes twinkled and Cas tried to decide what he wanted to feel when he saw them like that.

The gym whistle interrupted them, however, before Cas could decide if he was supposed to feel a content warmth inside of him when he saw Meg look at him like that.

“Hey, well, we should do something again sometime soon,” Meg offered as she began walking away from Cas.

“Yeah, yeah, definitely,” Cas replied.

“I’ll see you around, Cas!” she called out with a wave as she began running towards the entrance to the gym. Cas smiled and waved back, but dropped his smile the second she turned away.

Seemingly nothing had really been accomplished in the short time they had shared, and Cas only knew that Dean was going to be on his case about it, asking him what Meg said, telling Cas that Meg is “so into him”. The worst part was: Cas knew that Dean’s words held something.

Cas wasn’t an idiot. Yeah, he had minimal experience with dating, love, sex, what have you, but he had an unerring ability to read people like books. And he was reading Meg. And he could tell from those looks she sent him, he could tell from what Dean was telling him, Meg had at least some sort of feelings for Cas.

Cas just didn’t really know how to handle them.

---

Cas learned that he had to handle Meg’s feelings over time, however, when every Thursday it was the same deal.

Don’t get Cas wrong, Cas really enjoyed Meg’s company, and Cas really thought that Meg was really really sweet. The only problem was, it was all one sided.

Cas didn’t feel that spark inside of him when he looked at Meg, his stomach didn’t flip when he realized it was Thursday and he’d be running next to Meg for a portion of the day, talking over all different topics. He liked it, sure, but it wasn’t the kind of liking that translated to even the smallest bit of a crush.

There was just nothing there.

So, days and weeks passed and Meg always said they should do something together but Cas always managed to avoid it.

Though, he could only avoid it for so long.

Homecoming was coming up in a few weeks, posters had already been plastered down the halls, a few people already had plans, some girls even had dresses. Cas didn’t pay much mind to it, however. He had gone to a few dances before, always solo, but he figured he would sit this one out. He needed to sit this one out. He really wasn’t up for it.

Dean had different plans.

“So, I have an idea,” Dean began one Saturday night when him and Cas were in Dean’s basement once more, hanging out on his worn down couch, watching cartoons with some nachos and a few cans of Coke on the table in front of them.

“And how hard did your brain have to work to produce it?” Cas teased with a grin, reaching for a nacho.

“You’re obnoxious, you know that, right?” Dean said, obviously unamused.

“I have a little sister, of course I know that,” Cas replied calmly before taking a bite of nacho. “Now just tell me your idea before I lose interest.”

“I take Lisa to homecoming,” Dean began and uh oh, Cas, first of all, didn’t like Dean’s tone and second of all, didn’t like the idea of Dean taking Lisa to homecoming. “And you take Meg so we can go on a double date.”

Cas choked on the last bite of nacho he had taken.

Dean didn’t react, only raised an eyebrow.

“What?” Cas asked incredulously once he had sufficiently stopped choking.

“It’s perfect!” Dean exclaimed cheerfully. “You and Meg have needed to go on a date for like forever, and I finally need to reel Lisa in,” Dean explained. Cas immediately shook his head. Homecoming meant loud music, crowds, sweating, and, oh right, dancing with Meg and watching Dean dance with Lisa.

“Dean, no,” Cas replied solidly.

“Cas, you have to,” Dean replied quickly, sitting up a little more and facing Cas. “Cas, you gotta, c’mon, this is your chance,” Dean went on, and his voice was verging on that awful whine it did when Dean really wanted something that Cas refused to give him.

“My chance for what?” Cas questioned, shaking his head.

“For so so much! A chance to dance with Meg, a chance to kiss Meg, a chance to go to your first senior dance. Doesn’t any of that sound appealing?”

‘No,’ Cas replied internally.

“Dean,” Cas began, still shaking his head.

“Cas, you gotta do me a solid on this one. I can’t just go alone with Lisa,” Dean went on.

“What? Why not?” Cas questioned, eyebrows furrowed. Dean sighed and looked away before looking back at Cas.

“Because.”

“‘Because’ why?” Cas shot back.

“Because I want to do something good for you, I want to do good by you. And you’re my best friend and I want you by my side. I need you by my side,” Dean corrected, tilting his head just slightly. “Can’t you imagine how great that would be? Both of us walking into senior year homecoming with beautiful girls on our arms?” Dean suggested, smiling just a little.

Cas chewed on his lip and let his eyes roam Dean’s face. God, Dean had such fucking beautiful features. And he was doing that thing, giving Cas that look he gave when he really really wanted something. Cas sighed.

“I’ll ask Meg. I’ll tell her that it would be a double date,” Cas finally relented. Dean smiled a smile so bright it practically lit up the entire room.

“This is gonna be so great,” Dean sighed, turning back to the TV and grabbing his can of Coke. “Senior homecoming,” he sighed softly. Cas sighed softly back, still watching Dean carefully.

Cas thought to himself dimly, in the very back of his mind, in the corner where all unwanted thoughts went, he thought to himself what it would be like if the tables turned and Dean was the one asking Cas to homecoming. What if Cas took Lisa’s place? What if Cas became that person that Dean wanted to show off, wanted to dance with? What would it be like if Cas could be that?

Cas swallowed thickly and turned away from Dean, letting his sight settle back on the TV.

“Yeah, it’s gonna be great.”

---

Dean tried to give Cas instructions on just what to do when he asked Meg to homecoming. Dean had been to almost every school dance, almost always with a girl, so he apparently “knew a lot about how things worked”.

Cas figured it was all bullshit.

Cas, instead, after pretending to take Dean’s advice and listen to everything he had to say, took his own route and decided to keep things simple.

Cas thought over his options, all the simple ways guys asked girls to homecoming. Cas wasn’t thinking confetti or loud speaker announcements. He wasn’t thinking of great big cards or bouquets of flowers. He was thinking of Meg and what Meg liked. And he smiled to himself one evening when he remembered how Meg said her favorite subject was English.

It took Cas a little while because he wanted to put some thought into it, but eventually he got it. And eventually, on a Wednesday evening, he slipped a little piece of paper into Meg’s locker.

A poem.

It was short and it was a little stupid in Cas’ humble opinion, but Cas didn’t care, only waited until the next day, Thursday, when, as per usual, Meg jogged up to him.

Meg acted as though nothing had happened, and Cas had a moment to panic that she never got the note, but eventually, Meg said,

“So, yesterday, I found this piece of paper in my locker.”

Cas smiled a little, just because he had to.

“A piece of paper?” he repeated, playing dumb. Meg nodded, not looking over at him.

“I didn’t know what it was until I opened it up,” she continued on.

“And what was it?” Cas questioned, glancing over at her. She was biting back a smile as she continued to speak.

“It was a poem. It was a beautiful little poem.”

“What did it say?” Cas asked.

“It was a poem asking me to homecoming. And it was written by this guy I know who’s in my gym class. And he’s got messy dark hair and these bright blue eyes,” Meg went on. Cas grinned.

“Who could that be?”

Meg looked over at him with a sly, coy little smile.

“So, you want to take me to homecoming?” she questioned, voice soft. Cas smiled and nodded.

“I’d like to very much,” Cas replied quietly. Meg’s smile grew a little as she looked over at him.

“I’d like to go with you very much,” she told him, and Cas grinned because at least he could do something right, at least Dean would shut up now that he was taking Meg to homecoming.

“Would you still say yes even if I told you that it would be a double date?”

Meg raised an eyebrow.

“Dean is taking Lisa. He figured I could go with you and he could go with Lisa. He would probably pick Lisa up and then me and then you and we’d all drive there together,” Cas explained. Meg nodded.

“That sounds nice. I don’t know Lisa too much,” she added on.

“Well, Lisa is nice, I think you’ll like her,” Cas offered even though he had a feeling that that wasn’t true because Lisa was very different from Meg in terms of she was a little more settled in with the popular girls.

“Well, it sounds like it’ll all be really nice,” Meg said with a nod and a smile. Cas took a breath and smiled back.

“I think it will.”

Cas’ words were, of course, a total lie, but Cas knew he couldn’t tell Meg the truth, tell her that he didn’t want to go in the first place, that he wasn’t really happy with any aspect of what was about to happen.

But, Cas’ life was already going pretty badly, so why not let it get a little worse, right?

Chapter Text

Dean was pretty much ecstatic to hear the news that Cas had gotten Meg to say yes to homecoming. Meanwhile, Dean had no problem asking Lisa, she had said yes immediately. So, it was only a matter of time, a little waiting game that Cas hated, before homecoming was there, and Cas found himself sliding into Dean’s car in a suit he absolutely hated with a daunting night ahead of him. And a corsage in hand. Of course.

“Did Meg tell you what color her dress is?” Dean questioned, noting the few purple flowers dappled through the corsage.

“Purple,” Cas sighed, looking out the window as Dean put the car in drive and they began the drive to Lisa’s house first.

“Hey,” Dean said, leaning over and giving a nudge to Cas’ arm. “Don’t look so depressed. This is a fun night, we’re gonna have fun,” Dean announced. Cas made sure Dean didn’t see him roll his eyes.

“Yeah, whatever you say, Dean,” Cas replied, glancing down at the corsage.

“I’m serious, Cas,” Dean went on. “You gotta at least smile, tonight, do you have that in you?” Dean teased, grinning as he glanced over at Cas. Cas sighed, smiled a fake smile and looked over at Dean.

“Good?”

Dean scoffed and nudged him again.

“Don’t be a smartass,” Dean grumbled, and that earned a real smile from Cas.

“Did Lisa tell you what color her dress is?” Cas then asked. Dean nodded, pulled out a little corsage in a box and handed it over to Cas.

“Pink,” he sighed. Cas looked over the corsage, little light pink roses in it.

“Nice taste,” Cas murmured.

“Thanks,” Dean replied, glancing over at the corsage. “You know how to put those things on, right?” Dean questioned, earning another eye roll from Cas.

“I’m not an idiot, Dean,” Cas replied, setting both corsages in between both of them.

“Okay, okay, just asking,” Dean replied. “I know you’ve never exactly taken a girl to a dance before,” Dean muttered, throwing his gaze over to Cas for a second.

“Yeah, well, I’m pretty sure I can figure it out,” Cas replied with a sigh.

“Alright,” Dean sighed back. “You nervous at all?” Dean questioned after a pause.

“No,” Cas replied, thought that was a semi lie. Cas was a little nervous, of course, but he was more looking to get everything over with more than anything else.

“You sure?” Dean teased with a grin. Cas smiled a little.

“I’m sure, Dean. It can’t be all that bad,” Cas went on, thinking that, yes it probably could and it probably would be all that bad just because he wasn’t getting so lucky lately with, well, most things.

“You know, you’ve been kind of off lately,” Dean supposed after a short pause. Cas immediately tensed up a little, though he tried not to show it.

“What do you mean?” Cas murmured in question.

“Dunno,” Dean shrugged, glancing over at him. “You just seem really distracted most of the time,” Dean offered. Cas sighed and shrugged.

“Just, thinking about stuff I guess.”

Dean quirked a little smile and raised an eyebrow.

“What kind of stuff?”

“Future stuff, I guess. And the financial situation at home. Meg too, I guess,” Cas added on quietly.

“Well,” Dean began with a sigh, patting Cas on the shoulder. “You can forget all about all of that tonight. Like I said, tonight is about having fun. Hey, I hear Garth was thinking of spiking some of the punch,” Dean added on. Cas smiled a very weak smile and looked over at Dean, trying not to sigh in defeat.

More alcohol was just what Cas needed.

---

It wasn’t too much longer before they got to Lisa’s house. Lisa got in the front seat, so Cas was forced to sit in the back, feeling immensely like a third wheel as Dean and Lisa talked and didn’t make too much conversation with Cas. Cas was actually a little relieved when they got to Meg’s house. At least Meg would sit in the back with Cas and at least she would talk to Cas. And Cas had to admit, Meg was nice to talk to.

Cas got out of the Impala with a sigh, corsage in hand as he walked up the walkway to Meg’s house and gave a gentle knock on the door. He waited only a few moments before Meg opened up the door, standing there with a soft, growing smile.

“Hey, Cas,” she greeted almost shyly.

“Hey, Meg,” Cas replied, taking a second to take in Meg’s appearance. Her hair was up in a loose bun, stray strands falling to frame her face. Her makeup was a little darker than usual in a sort of smokey way, and her dress could only be described as elegant. It was a deep purple with a higher collar and a cinched waist which slowly flowed outwards, reaching down just above her knees. It had a dark lace overlaying the top half of it too.

Meg looked beautiful, there was no denying that. But there was also no denying that when Cas looked at her, he didn’t see “homecoming date”, he saw “good friend”.

But he let those thoughts float down as he smiled softly at her.

“You look beautiful,” he complimented, and there was no hiding the slight blush that rose to Meg’s cheeks as she glanced down at her feet and tucked some hair behind her ear.

“Thanks, Cas,” she replied quietly, glancing back up at him from under her lashes. Cas smiled softly down at her and pulled out the corsage he had been hiding behind his back.

“May I?” he questioned simply, and Meg smiled a little wider and nodded. She held out her hand, and Cas took the corsage gently in his hand, holding Meg’s hand as he slipped it carefully onto her wrist.

“You’ve got nice taste, I’ll give you that,” she said, looking over the corsage.

“Thank you,” Cas replied, still holding Meg’s hand. “Do you want…?” he began, nodding back towards the Impala.

“Oh, yeah, sure,” she replied, stepping out onto the walkway and closing the door behind her.

Cas held her hand softly, noting how it only felt somewhat odd since he had only held her hand once and that was when he was half drunk. Now, sober, it just felt… simple. Plain.

Cas let Meg get into the car first, opening the door for her before sliding in next to her in the backseat.

“Hey, Meg,” Dean called over his shoulder, craning his neck a bit as Cas closed the door to the car.

“Hey, Dean,” Meg replied, shifting around in her seat.

“Hi, Meg,” Lisa chirped from the front, turning to look at Meg. Meg smiled over at her as Dean put the car in drive.

“Oh, hi, Lisa,” she replied with that same cheerful tone that Cas had noticed was like this universal… female greeting.

“Your dress is beautiful, Meg,” Lisa gushed, smiling back at her.

“Oh, thanks,” Meg replied, looking down at her dress. “I haven’t seen yours yet, but I’m sure it’s beautiful too,” she told Lisa.

“Oh, thank you,” Lisa chimed right back.

“Did you do your own makeup?” Meg questioned, and Dean and Cas took a moment to share a look, a look that passed a mutual understanding that the ride to the school would probably be a little long.

---

The ride to the school didn’t turn out all too bad. Meg and Lisa talked a lot but Dean and Cas chimed in fairly equally. It was when the pair of them, Dean and Lisa and then Cas and Meg, entered the school gymnasium that Cas knew it was going to be a long night.

“Wow, people went all out with decorations this year, huh?” Meg murmured, looking around at all the decorations hung up, all going with the theme of “A Night Under The Sea” which Cas thought was good in theory, but not necessarily with all the random decorations of fish and mermaids and things that, well, were under the sea.

“Hey, Lisa wants to go find Lilith and say hi, so we’ll see you guys around, okay?” Dean said, voice raised since the music was fairly loud. Meg and Cas nodded, and they watched as Dean and Lisa disappeared into the crowds of high schoolers.

“Alright, so what’s your deal, then? Anyone you want to find?” Meg questioned, turning to Cas.

“I don’t… think so?” Cas replied hesitantly, and Meg smiled. “Is there anyone you want to find?” Cas went on to question, dreading the answer. Meg shrugged.

“Not right now I don’t think. I might want to say hi to Ruby at some point, but that can wait. She’s probably coming later anyways,” Meg continued on. “So, you must be toughing it out coming here if you’re the quiet type, huh?” Meg teased as she slowly began walking towards some tables set up by one of the gym’s walls.

“Well, I mean,” Cas began, noting the amusement on Meg’s face. “Of course, dances aren’t my thing but, y’know, I wanted to take you and to come with you and that’s all that matters,” Cas finished off, tilting his chin up.

“Well, you’re brave,” Meg commented. “My sophomore year, at my old school, we had a homecoming, and it was a big one, really big school, y’know?” Meg began as they continued simply walking. “I was wicked shy back then, but this kid Brad, he was pretty popular, and he asked me. And obviously I couldn’t say no,” Meg went on.

“Obviously,” Cas teased with a nod and a small smile that made Meg grin.

“So, he took me there and I had a horrible time. It was so loud, they played horrible songs. Not only that, but it was my first time wearing heels so my feet were killing me,” she added on.

“That sounds pretty bad,” Cas commented. Meg nodded, sliding into a seat at a table and sitting down. Cas raised an eyebrow. “Sitting down already?” he questioned. Meg quirked a smile and glanced up at him.

“I used to be shy and even now, sometimes I still am. And dances, they aren’t my major thing. I’m more of a bonfire person, or a chill party, y’know,” Meg explained. Cas sat down across from her and furrowed his brows.

“Why’d you agree to come then?” he questioned. Meg’s smile returned as she tucked some more hair behind her ear.

“Well, honestly, I just wanted to be able to spend some more time with you. And that poem was really sweet. And, y’know, I like you,” Meg added on, glancing between the table and Cas. Cas quirked a little smile.

“That’s a compliment,” Cas pointed out, and Meg laughed, nodding.

“It is.”

“I’ll accept it greatly then,” Cas replied with that same smile.

“Why’d you ask me?” Meg questioned then after a short pause. Cas tilted his head a little.

“Because I like you too. And I’d like to spend time with you.”

“So, Dean didn’t drag you to this like he did with the bonfire?” she teased. Cas had to laugh at that or else he probably would have gave an exasperated sigh that would have said it all.

“No, Dean didn’t drag me here,” Cas lied. He felt awful lying, really, but he didn’t want to tell Meg the truth, nor could he really. He was kind of balls deep in a lie at that point, pretending that he liked Meg in that flirty way, telling Dean that he was actually going after her. He did like Meg, really, just, not romantically, not sexually. He liked her as a friend.

“Well, I’m glad you have some free will in you,” she joked, earning a grin from Cas.

“So, are we staying here all night?” Cas questioned teasingly. Meg shook her head with a small smile.

“We’ll get out there eventually,” she told Cas who simply nodded and waited for what was “eventually”.

“Eventually” turned out to be when one of Meg’s favorite songs came on and she dragged Cas out to dance with her. Cas went somewhat willingly and danced somewhat willingly, needing a lot of teasing from Meg and a lot of banter with her to get him to finally come out of his shell at least a little.

Cas found himself, somehow, miraculously, having some fun. He focused mostly on Meg and him and Meg didn’t really talk to too many people. Meg said hi to Ruby at one point, Cas tried to say hi to Dean at another but couldn’t find him.

Everything was going fairly smoothly until things took a little turn. A slow song came on.

Meg smiled softly once it did, and Cas looked around, watching all the people around them pair up slowly but surely. And then he looked at Meg, and a pang of nerves went through him before Meg raised an eyebrow.

“Do you know how to dance?” she questioned, and Cas gave her a look that simply said ‘no’. Meg laughed a little and stepped forwards, taking Cas’ hands in her own. “See, you put your hands here,” she instructed gently, placing Cas’ hands on her waist. “And I put my hands up here,” she went on, reaching up a little and looping her arms around Cas’ neck. It took Cas a second, another pang of nerves, a fleeting feeling of fear before he decided that it wasn’t so bad.

It was kind of nice.

“See? Now, we just kind of sway,” Meg added on as the two of them began to rock back and forth to the music, and Meg continued to smile up at Cas with that twinkle in her eye that was starting to make Cas’ heart ache a little because he knew, he just knew that he couldn’t, and would never be able to match it.

And he really really wished he could match it.

Maybe if he could match it, he could finally be content. Dean would shut up. Cas would have someone. His problems would be solved. But no, it didn’t work like that.

It was like there was some sort of barrier, this wall between him and Meg. This thing that kept him from wanting. From wanting to touch Meg, from wanting to kiss her. It kept Cas from wanting her as anything more than a friend.

But somehow, Cas found himself trying because maybe if he tried, it would break, right? So, he pulled Meg a little closer, tried to look down at her with as much heart as he could. And then Meg was smiling a little more before leaning forwards, letting her head fall and rest on Cas’ shoulder.

Cas swallowed thickly and tightened his grip on Meg’s waist just so. He had never really had someone so close to him before. Sure, he had had Anna cuddle up with him on the couch, or he had gotten into little wrestling matches with Dean, but this was different. This was a girl who wanted Cas, wanted Cas romantically, and she was putting herself out there, resting her head on Cas like Cas was the one who could protect her when Cas was having trouble protecting just himself.

When Cas felt like he couldn’t stand it anymore, the song was over and Meg was pulling away with a happy, soft little smile.

“You’re a good dancer for someone who’s never slow danced before,” she told Cas who huffed a little breath of laughter.

“Thanks,” he breathed out, searching Meg’s face before looking away. “What now?” Cas then questioned.

“We could dance a little more, then maybe find Lisa and Dean and see what they’re up to,” Meg suggested. Cas swallowed, smiled as best he could, and nodded.

“Sounds good to me.”

---

The night went on a little longer before Cas and Meg found Lisa and Dean, and after a bit it was decided that Dean would drive everyone home.

They all talked happily in the car, save Cas who was a little more quiet. He was distracted, thinking the night over, barely noticing when Dean dropped Lisa off first. Finally, he resurfaced, however, when he realized they were back at Meg’s house.

“Here, I’ll walk you to your door,” Cas offered, opening the door for Meg and getting out after her.

“Thanks for bringing me, Cas,” she said softly as they walked up the walkway to her front steps.

“Don’t even mention it,” Cas replied with a little wave of his hand. He kept his eyes on the ground as they got to the door, only looking up at Meg when they were on her front step.

“I had a really great time tonight,” she went on, glancing down at the ground.

“I did too,” Cas replied, smiling lightly.

“We should, y’know, do something like this again. I mean, not like, go to homecoming, but I mean, y’know, one on one,” she offered.

“Like a date,” Cas said, immediately internally hitting himself for saying that because now it was implied that there would be dates in the future.

“Yeah, like a date,” Meg agreed with a nod.

“That sounds… that sounds nice,” Cas replied, nodding. Meg bit her lip and nodded back.

There was a pause, tension heavy in the air as Cas figured out the inevitable. He saw it in Meg’s eyes, in the slight blush to her cheeks. And, before Cas knew it, Meg was leaning forwards, up on her tiptoes, closing her eyes, and pressing a soft, tender kiss to Cas’ lips.

Cas blinked before quickly remembering eyes closed was the general code of kissing. And then he slowly brought a hand to Meg’s face, cupping it gently.

The kiss was chaste, no tongue, no spit. It lasted seemingly forever, however, and once Meg pulled away, she was smiling wider than ever.

“I’ll see you later, Cas. Thanks for tonight,” she bid before slipping right into her house as though she was some strange dream that had come to Cas in the night and then promptly disappeared.

Cas blinked, stood on her doorstep for a second. He licked his lips, tasted lip gloss, and then thought the kiss over a little more. A general surprise was what ran through him during the kiss. But then he thought it over more. People always talked about sparks when kissing, they talked about lighting running down your spine and your heart doing funny things in your chest.

But, Cas had felt nothing.

No fireworks or stars, no warmth in his stomach, no blood pumping faster. Just lips on lips with residual lip gloss left behind.

Cas took a breath and finally turned, heading back to the Impala and getting in, Dean immediately slapping him roughly on the shoulder.

“First kiss!” Dean exclaimed, and Cas tried not to flinch.

“Uh, yeah,” Cas replied, blinking.

“How was it?” Dean questioned, shifting the car into drive.

“Um.”

This was it, this was the make or break moment, the moment that Cas told Dean what it was like to kiss a girl, what it was like to kiss Meg. This was the moment that gave Dean an idea of what Cas felt like when he kissed girls, when he kissed Meg. This was the moment that gave a lot away.

This was the moment where Cas lied and said,

“It was amazing.”

Chapter Text

The next month or so was not only a blur, but somewhat of a hopeless blur. Rumor circulated quick that Dean was back with Lisa. Rumor circulated quick that Cas had gotten with Meg. And then, suddenly, the two pairs were the hottest thing in school.

Cas was not having any of it.

It was nice to spend time with Meg, but Cas still had this guilt complex going on, this horrible twisting feeling he got every time Meg kissed him or smiled at him in that way. Cas pretended, tried to reciprocate it as much as he could, but he knew it wasn’t and would never be enough.

Cas thought of telling her something, telling her that he was confused, that he didn’t know what was happening, that he was being pushed by Dean, but nothing seemed to feel right. And he didn’t feel like he could just break it off with her either, so he was just stuck.

So, as Cas tried to juggle Meg, Cas tried to juggle Dean too. Cas was stuffing all stray feelings towards Dean down so far Cas was sure they would never see the light of day. Cas decided that pussyfooting around Dean and not hanging out with him was just stupid, so Cas made sure that he spent time with Dean and with Meg.

Cas, however, not wanting to focus particularly on either one of those people, tried to focus on school, though he managed to give it the opposite effect it should have gotten.

Cas’ grades went down as he missed classes or didn’t study hard enough for a test. Sometimes, he would study for a test, then once it was in front of him, he would just kind of… go blank.

Cas’ grades slipping meant Michael getting pissed and that had resulted in one screaming match with Michael that left Cas’ voice hoarse for half a week afterwards.

So, Cas had a lot on his plate though he tried to put on a smile every day as he walked into school and kissed Meg good morning, trying to pretend that it wasn’t jealousy that flared inside of him when he saw Dean kissing Lisa.

Finally, however, Cas had had enough. Cas was tired, he was angry, frustrated, confused. Up was down and left was right and nothing felt right anymore. So, Cas did what any other struggling teenager would do. He found a way to get his hands on a bottle of white wine, and showed up at Dean’s doorstep with the bottle hidden behind his back.

Thankfully, Dean answered the door after Cas knocked. Dean didn’t even have the time to say anything before Cas was pulling out the bottle and holding it up.

“Wanna go get drunk?”

Dean grinned a sly, slow, warm grin that made Cas’ insides twist.

“Let me get my jacket,” was all Dean said before he disappeared into his house, soon coming out of his house and stepping into the cold air of late autumn.

The two of them made simple small talk as they headed down to the lake. It was getting dark out, but the sun hadn’t quite set yet. Soon enough, however, Cas found him and Dean watching it set over the lake as they passed a two thirds empty wine bottle back and forth between them, tongues loose, warmth flaring up from their stomachs and making the chill outside not so bad.

“Why’d you even want to get drunk anyways?” Dean sniffed, holding out his hand as Cas passed him the bottle. “You say you drink to forget, what are you trying to forget now?”

“That I exist,” Cas replied, and though his voice was dead serious and somewhat sad, Dean laughed, and then Cas found himself laughing because Dean was laughing and Dean’s laugh was the best thing in the whole wide world at that moment in time.

“Your life is great right now, man. You finally have a girlfriend,” Dean told Cas. Cas shook his head.

“I’m so fucking stressed right now,” Cas breathed out, leaning his elbows on his knees where he and Dean were sitting on the sandy shore in that same spot where the bonfire had been a few months back.

“Dude, why?” Dean slurred, passing the bottle back to Cas. Cas took a long swig before wiping his mouth and answering,

“Everything.”

“Everything, huh?” Dean questioned, smirking a little. Cas looked over at him and nodded. And then Cas caught this look in his eye, this drunk, giddy look that sparkled with the way the sun hit his face. The rest of his face was glowing gold too, tan skin illuminated by a setting sun. His freckles were everywhere, and Cas remembered how he had been thinking of those freckles as constellations a few months back.

Dean stared back too. He didn’t blink or look away. He didn’t tell Cas to stop staring or that it was creepy. He just kept looking. And looking. And Cas kept looking back.

“Cas,” Dean began, his voice croaky. Cas swallowed thickly.

“What?”

“I, can I…” Dean began, finally looking away, looking down at the sand between his legs. “Can I like, talk to you about this thing? This thing that I’ve been kind of like, thinking about,” Dean added on. Cas crossed his legs and sat up, nodding. He was pretty sure he was drunk enough to forget whatever Dean was about to say, but he wasn’t all too sure, so he replied,

“Of course.”

“So, you know how girls are like, like super pretty, right?”

Cas snorted, but just nodded.

“Well, I just, sometimes I wonder if maybe guys,” Dean began, holding out his hand, gesturing for the bottle of wine Cas had in his lap. Cas handed it over, watching Dean take a long drink before shutting his eyes. “What if guys are attractive too?”

Cas paused, and his brain had to war with the alcohol to get him to think straight.

“What?” Cas simply asked.

“It’s, it’s fucking stupid, I know but like, what if they are? I mean, like, y’know Benny? Benny Lafitte at school? Like, he’s kind of, I don’t know…” Dean paused. “Attractive.”

“So, are you saying you like guys?” Cas questioned dumbly. Dean looked over at him, the look he gave resembling one that a deer in the headlights would give.

“I’m not, not saying anything,” Dean sighed. “But, well, okay, maybe I am,” he relented, rubbing at one temple. “I just, well, for a little while I’ve just wondered about it, y’know?”

“I have too,” Cas finally breathed out. Dean snapped his head to turn to Cas so quickly it looked like it hurt.

“What?”

“I, well, I just think maybe, I’ve been thinking for maybe a bit if guys are better than girls,” Cas managed. Dean just blinked over at him.

“You… you like guys?” Dean questioned softly. Cas shook his head.

“I don’t know if I do is what I’m saying,” Cas replied.

There was a long, tense pause between both Dean and Cas.

And then Cas got an idea.

“Dean, I, don’t give me shit for this, okay?” Cas began, shifting, turning his body to face Dean. “I have an idea.”

“What is it?”

“Kiss me.”

Cas had no idea how even alcohol was able to push him to say that, but somehow it was.

Dean blinked, and blinked, and then looked at Cas’ lips, and then licked his lips.

“It can be an experiment. For both of us. We’ll know then,” Cas explained, drunken thoughts moving way too fast, so fast he was just trying to keep up with them.

Cas watched as Dean seemingly debated it, he watched as he tried to read Dean’s thoughts even though he knew he couldn’t. Finally, however, Dean was shifting, getting up and crawling right clear into Cas’ personal space.

Seeing Dean so up close was practically blinding. Cas could see all these pretty, delicate features he couldn’t from farther away. He could see Dean’s eyelashes and those specks of gold in green eyes. He could see dilated pupils, likely from the alcohol. Or maybe not.

Cas glanced down at his lips, the soft cupid’s bow of them, the shade of pink they were. It felt like forever before he looked back up and into Dean’s eyes.

“Will you let me?”

The question was breathless, and Cas’ voice was soft.

Dean swallowed thickly, and Cas watched the adam’s apple in his throat bob as he nodded.

Cas then took a breath, feeling his heart thump in his chest so hard he thought it might fly right out. His lungs felt tight and his stomach was all twisted up, but before he knew it he was leaning forwards and Dean was leaning forwards and their lips were brushing so tenderly, so softly.

It took Cas a moment, a second in time where everything stopped. And then he pressed his lips a little more insistently to Dean’s and then his whole world imploded.

Cas brought a hand up to cup Dean’s face, except this was different from when he would cup Meg’s face. This was Dean and Dean’s face and Cas would much rather be holding Dean’s face, cupping his cheek gently and feeling Dean lean into it in a way that made Cas’ heart ache in all the right ways, in all the ways it had never done before.

The kiss seemingly lasted forever, chaste and sweet. Cas didn’t want to pull away, not at all, but he did, ever so slightly.

Dean didn’t let him.

Dean slid a hand around the back of Cas’ neck and brought him forwards, kissed him in a way that had Cas’ lips slipping open, Dean’s tongue sliding in. And it made this immense amount of sense to Cas all of the sudden.

The first time Cas had kissed Meg with tongue it had been the most uneventful thing ever. Cas always heard those stories about being able to taste things when you kissed people, but Cas just tasted what he had predicted a mouth tasted like: it just kind of tasted like a mouth. And it was wet, and warm, and very odd and kind of slimy. But this, this...

Cas could taste the wine on Dean’s tongue as it curled inside of Cas’ mouth, as Cas kissed Dean better than Cas had ever kissed Meg. It was still wet and still tasted like a mouth, but it was different. Dean’s tongue moved differently, Dean’s lips were softer, Dean moved with the kiss a little more.

And then Cas was moving into it, really getting involved because holy shit Cas suddenly knew why people liked making out so much.

Dean pulled Cas even closer and Cas went with ease, soft little moans slipping out of his mouth as he slowly found himself easily becoming entangled with Dean, leaning on Dean’s chest with their legs all mixed up.

Cas felt hot all over, he felt arousal curling inside of him, he felt like fireworks were going off because fucking finally, something made sense.

And then Cas’ hands were in Dean’s hair and Dean’s hands were all over Cas like both of them were starving for this thing that they had never even properly thought of carrying out. And then Dean was starting to groan into the kiss and Cas was moving against him more enthusiastically and everything felt fucking fantastic.

Dean pulled away to take a breath, only to nip and tug at Cas’ lower lip, something Cas had never even thought of and it made him groan, low and deep in his chest. Dean was pulling him back in again, however, the kiss still hungry, alive with this energy that Cas never knew existed. Suddenly, Cas was vaguely aware that Dean was lying on his back and Cas was just lying on top of him, hands planted firmly on Dean’s chest.

Dean and Cas kissed until Cas literally could not breath and had to pull away, resting his forehead on Dean’s. When Dean opened his eyes, Cas saw that his pupils were bigger than Cas had probably ever seen them.

“Holy fucking shit,” Cas breathed out, all the air in his lungs gone. He wanted to scream, scream in utter happiness that this was it, it all made sense now. There was a reason Cas didn’t like Meg in any way other than a friend. There was a reason why Cas never got how girls worked. “Holy shit, Dean,” Cas just repeated, starting to smile, to really grin. Dean did the same underneath him, Dean’s eyes searching Cas’ face.

“It was good?” Dean breathed back in question.

“Fuck yes,” Cas sighed, looking over Dean’s face, looking over every detail of it, trying to memorize it as best he could. This was all Cas could ask for, all of it. It was all right in front of him, it was all in that moment. “God, you’re so fucking beautiful,” Cas then breathed out with a fond smile because he could, because he had just kissed Dean, because he was literally lying on top of Dean, face to face with him.

“I never pegged you as a good kisser,” Dean murmured, running a hand through Cas’ hair. Cas got butterflies in his stomach at the touch.

“I never even thought I would kiss you,” Cas murmured back, searching Dean’s eyes.

“I didn’t either,” Dean replied softly, doing the same thing Cas was doing to him, searching his eyes.

Another moment that felt like forever passed between them. A moment where Dean toyed with Cas’ hair and they looked at each other, really looked at each other with roaming eyes, looking for answers that neither of them were sure they would even find. Finally, however, Cas realized that it was starting to really get dark, and also he was lying on top of Dean, probably crushing him.

“We should go,” Cas murmured, still looking down at Dean. Dean smiled softly.

“Kiss me one more time,” he told Cas quietly. Cas smiled ever so slightly before leaning down and pressing another kiss to Dean’s lips. This one didn’t deepen, didn’t intensify, it only offered a comfort to both Dean and Cas, a comfort that both of them had unknowingly been craving for years.

Cas got off of Dean and helped him up. Cas shoved the remaining wine in the bottle into his backpack as him and Dean giggled and stumbled, walking up the hill and out of the park, heading back to Dean’s house.

“What are you gonna tell your parents?” Cas questioned once they finally reached Dean’s house.

“Don’t know, don’t care,” Dean sighed, smiling over at Cas. Cas smiled back, and they held eye contact for a second before Dean drew Cas in for one last lingering kiss. “Text me when you get home,” Dean said before turning, heading back into his house. Cas watched him go fondly, only began to walk back down Dean’s street and towards his own house once Dean was inside.

Cas replayed the kiss over and over in his head as he walked home, feeling triumphant, feeling like now he had endless possibilities. The alcohol inside of him was keeping negative thoughts at bay. Cas wasn’t thinking of how he was still dating Meg, Cas wasn’t thinking of how now he would officially be in the closet. Cas wasn’t thinking of the next step for him and Dean. Cas wasn’t thinking that that step would probably be painful. All he was thinking was how it felt to put one singular puzzle piece into the big puzzle that had been dumped onto him at the beginning of the school year.

Cas only knew happiness in those drunken moments that fell in between the kiss he shared with Dean, all the way into the moments he fell asleep.

He dreamed of green eyes, constellations, and soft kisses.

---

Cas woke up and pretty much the first thing he did was puke. He had, apparently, underestimated how much alcohol he had consumed and also forgotten how white wine was the one type of alcohol that gave him the worst kinds of hangovers.

After puking, however, he felt a little better, save the general dizziness and pounding migraine he had going on. It took him a little while to get his wits together, but finally he realized that, shit, it was a Friday and he was already late for school.

He thought of not going, right off the bat, just because he felt like shit, but then he remembered the night before. He remembered Dean. He remembered getting drunk with him. He remembered kissing him. And that was all it took for Cas to hop into a pair of jeans and tug on a sweatshirt because if Dean was at school, which he probably would be since he was a lot less prone to hangovers for some reason, then Cas could talk to him.

So, Cas went into school, uncaring that he was late, simply thinking things over. His brain was foggy and he felt groggy throughout the whole day, but he tried to push all thoughts, negative or not, to the side.

Cas didn’t want to think, he just wanted to see Dean. Cas wanted to see the reaction Dean had when Cas came up to him. Cas wanted to see those green eyes that he could look at differently now.

Cas miraculously managed a way to get through the day without seeing Meg, and then somehow, he didn’t see Dean either, not even in the classes they shared. Cas started to think that maybe Dean did have a hangover, maybe he had skipped school.

Cas felt a little deflated, even with that tiny bit of hope flaring in the back of him, saying that Dean was at school. Cas eventually sighed, however, and pushed it down for good (Cas was getting really good at repressing emotions) figuring he’d just talk to Dean the next day. Maybe they’d hang out on Saturday and talk things over. Maybe they would kiss again. Cas didn’t know, but he was still thinking it all over as he left the school building at the end of the day. It was only when he stepped outside, however, and looked over to the school parking lot, that he saw Dean, heading over to the Impala, apparently just leaving the school.

Cas grinned wider than he had in months before immediately heading over to Dean.

“Dean,” Cas said as he came up behind Dean, Dean having not seen him as Cas had made his way over. Dean startled a little, turned to face Cas, and Cas looked in his eyes. He expected to see relief or happiness but all he saw was… fear?

“Cas,” Dean sighed, trying for a smile as that fear, that surprise, was replaced with an easy going look. “Hey man,” he went on, and Cas could see him trying to visibly relax.

“Hey,” Cas simply breathed back, still smiling softly. Dean smiled back and nodded.

“What a night last night, huh?” Dean began, and Cas’ heart started beating faster. This was it, this was the point where they’d talk things over, this was the point where more puzzle pieces would fall into place, where Cas’ life would start to mend itself again, Cas’ wounds disappearing as-

“I don’t even remember any of it.”

Cas paused, and there was a record scratch in his brain. A big, good ol’ fashioned record scratch with the needle hanging off the record looking a little dazed and the record still spinning despite confusion.

“What?” Cas managed, his voice almost meek. Dean shrugged.

“White wine, I guess, gives me those blackout hangovers, y’know? I mean, I remember us walking to the lake and all, but it’s gone after that.”

Cas could feel his heart crack, he could see a little visual like they showed in cartoons where the character’s heart would fill with little fissures that spread out before the whole thing just shattered in one harsh blow.

“You don’t remember anything?” Cas repeated. Dean sighed and shook his head.

“Nothing,” he replied.

Cas took a moment then, to really look Dean in his eyes. Cas was good at reading people, excellent, actually, and Dean, he could read Dean like an open book sometimes. But, now, looking into Dean’s eyes, all he saw was a blank slate. There was no more surprise or fear, and there was nothing else there either. No emotion, happiness, or remorse.

It was like Dean had shut himself off, put everything inside of him behind a rope, tied it off and put a ‘No Trespassing’ sign over it.

“Why, did anything exciting happen?” Dean teased with a little smile, a smile that caused another fissure to spread in Cas’ already cracked heart. Cas swallowed thickly, shook his head.

“No, we just, we just hung out by the lake,” Cas told Dean who nodded.

“Cool,” Dean replied.

There was a silence, tense and terrible, between them as Cas looked over Dean, looked over every inch of his face, internally screaming ‘Help!’ because he needed to find something on Dean, he needed to find some sort of, some evidence, maybe, or some emotion, some feeling to let him know that Dean was still there, that maybe he hadn’t forgotten.

There was no way he could have forgotten.

But, Cas figured if Dean wanted to play pretend, Cas couldn’t come in and ruin in.

“So, hey, that double date on Sunday, right? At that diner near town square?” Dean began, opening the door to his car and raising an eyebrow at Cas. It took Cas a second before he nodded. Lisa and Dean had set up a double date with Meg and Cas a few days back, and Cas had completely forgotten about it.

“Right, yeah, I, um, yeah I’ll see you, uh, see you then I guess,” Cas bid as Dean slid into the Impala.

“Cool. See you later Cas,” Dean said before closing the door and immediately pulling out of his parking space, leaving Cas standing alone in the school parking lot.

Cas blinked as he watched Dean leave.

Cas thought to himself that there had to be something behind that fear Dean had initially gotten when he saw Cas. What was he afraid of?

As Cas turned to head back to his house, he thought to himself that he would have to find out. He thought to himself about all those months back, at the bonfire, when he had seen that protected side of Dean, that side even Dean didn’t know.

Cas decided then and there that he would find a way to open up that side, to take Dean apart and put him back together again no matter how much it hurt. Cas only yearned to know Dean, to know every inch. And some of Cas knew that maybe that was impossible, but the the larger portion of Cas, the determined portion, didn’t really care.

Chapter Text

Cas managed to get through the double date with Dean and Lisa with only minimal heartbreak. Now that Cas had kissed Dean, now that he had the memory burned into his head of the taste of white wine on Dean’s tongue, the feel of Dean’s hands on him, well, it made him about ten times more jealous to see him kissing Lisa, talking to Lisa, laughing with her. So, Cas came up with a solution.

Cas completely distanced himself from Dean.

Cas stopped saying hi to him in the mornings, he stopped saying yes to double dates. His phone permanently on ‘Do Not Disturb’, Cas was lost. Him and Dean had had fights, sure, but they had never been apart for so long. And it made it even worse when Dean reciprocated it all.

Dean didn’t make move to say hi to Cas, he rarely asked what was wrong, what was on Cas’ mind. Cas left, and Dean drifted with seemingly no protests. And it all only made Cas’ heart break even more.

Cas decided, with the new un-installment of Dean in his life, that he needed to at least get lost in something. He needed some sort of escape. He couldn’t just spend all of his days alone. So, he spent a lot of them with Meg.

Meg was sweet, and she was very very kind, and Cas could tell that she had an inkling that Cas was having trouble getting by. She never really said anything, only hugged and cuddled and kissed Cas as though she was trying to fix him, as though she was mirroring what Cas wanted to do to Dean.

Cas pushed down the guilt he felt with Meg and tried to let everything run its course. It only worked so well, however. One winter evening, a snow day wherein Meg had come over Cas’ house and curled up on his bed, she brought it up, just touched on the issue of Cas’ inability to connect properly.

“Cas,” she began softly, tracing easy circles into Cas’ chest where she was curled up by his side. “Why don’t you talk to Dean anymore?”

Dean’s name hurt Cas, hit him like a punch to the gut that Cas needed to take a breath to ease.

“We just lost touch, I guess,” Cas sighed.

“But, you two used to be such good friends, like, even since kindergarden. I mean, did something happen between you two? Did you guys like have a fight or something?” she asked. Cas wanted to laugh because otherwise he’d probably cry, but instead he just sighed again and shook his head.

“We just, we stopped hanging out so much. As you get older, you lose friends, y’know,” he explained, stroking a hand over her back, trying to get as much comfort from it as he possibly could. The touch of her, the closeness offered something, but the fact that Cas knew it was different for her, that it meant more for her, it still made Cas’ heart ache a little. Even after all those months of being together. Even after hundreds of kisses and hugs.

“Yeah, but Dean was different. Is different,” Meg argued. Cas swallowed thickly. She was right. She was really really fucking right.

“You have a point, I guess. But, I mean, it’s not like I’m gonna go back and try to rekindle some flame with him,” Cas said, trying for a teasing tone that actually came out a little more serious than he would have liked.

“Well, why not?” she questioned, propping herself up on one elbow and looking down at Cas. Cas looked up and over at her. Her face was hopeful and a little curious.

“Well, I don’t know, I mean, we just… probably don’t get along anymore. Things change, Meg, people change, they leave or they only pass through your life. Some people aren’t meant to stay,” Cas went on, realizing he was skirting dangerous territory, starting to talk about Dean like he was some old lover.

“He was your best friend, Cas, and he should still be your best friend. And if he’s a good friend, he’ll welcome you back into his arms if you go and talk to him a little,” she told Cas with a little smile quirked up on her lips. Cas tried for a little smile himself as he tucked some hair behind her ear.

“Why are you bringing this up now, anyways?” Cas questioned softly. Meg sighed and looked away before looking back down at Cas.

“Cas, I can tell you’re lonely. And sometimes, y’know, you’re not all here. You’re so stressed, and I can understand why. Michael, Anna, college, money issues, grades. It’s all a lot and it’s a lot to deal with. And sometimes I see you just looking like you’re far away. And I think that’s not fair. I think you deserve to be here, and you deserve to be happy. I want you to be happy,” she continued on, running a hand through Cas’ hair. Cas relaxed a little and sighed at the touch.

“Maybe you have a point,” Cas sighed.

“Of course, I have a point,” Meg replied with a little grin. “And I have an offer. A proposition.”

“Uh oh,” Cas teased, though internally he really was thinking ‘uh oh’. “What is it?”

“Well, Bela is having a New Year’s party this New Year’s, and that’s only in like a week or so. And she invited me. And you know that I can’t go there alone,” Meg went on. Cas sighed and looked away from Meg.

“Meg,” he began, tone deflated.

“Cas, I know how much you hate parties and I know how stupid this will sound but this is important to me. This is a new school for me, y’know, I’m still one of the new kids, even though it’s December. And Bela was nice enough to invite me and I’d like to spend the New Year with you, y’know. Kiss you at midnight,” she added on with a smile. Cas’ eyes that had been closed peeked open, and he saw that Meg was looking very hopeful. “We don’t have to be there for long, we can at least just show up,” she offered. Cas paused and swallowed. “Please?”

Cas knew this wasn’t a good idea at all. Cas knew that nothing could possibly go right in this situation. Parties never went well and New Year’s was always a holiday that got people amped up. And there would definitely be a lot of alcohol. But, Cas looked into Meg’s eyes and saw that asking, that want for something that Cas could at least partially give her. And Cas deserved to give her his best.

“Alright.”

---

It snowed that Christmas. A white Christmas. Cas remembered always wishing for white Christmas’ as a child. Now, it didn’t mean so much to him though. It meant that Balthazar and Raphael couldn’t come to Christmas dinner because they were snowed in. It meant a lot of shoveling. And it meant Michael and Gabriel fighting since Raphael wasn’t there to mediate it.

So, Christmas was mundane. Cas didn’t get too many gifts and none of them seemingly made life’s current circumstances any better. Cas thanked everyone for the gifts, and he gave some gifts too. Mostly to family, then to Meg. Cas didn’t get anything for Dean and he felt terrible. It was the first Christmas since he’d met Dean that he didn’t have a gift for him. But him and Dean really weren’t talking anymore so he chalked it up as something that didn’t matter. Or, well, it did matter to him, but it shouldn’t have. He wished it didn’t.

Meg and Cas went sledding and it was the closest thing to fun that Cas had had in a little while. They had snowball fights and Cas found himself laughing for real for the first time in awhile.
So, overall, Christmas was a little bit of a mixed bag. Cas held onto it for as long as he could, however, knowing that a New Year’s party was coming up, was just in reach. He pretended it wasn’t there, he pretended it wasn’t there like so many other things. At this point he had kind of been looking at life like some weird game of playing pretend. Half the things Cas said were lies, and the truest parts of him, the parts deep down, were so far down that no one could see them. Cas was cut off from everyone in one way or another.
Still, Cas found himself being dragged to that New Year’s party by Meg who promised him it wouldn’t be so bad.

It was bad though.

Bela had a huge, beautiful house, but the beauty was choked off by the hoards of Cas’ classmates wandering through it and yelling. Practically everyone had a red solo cup in hand and half the people there were already making out.

“I promise we won’t stay for long,” Meg had muttered to Cas the second they got in. Cas had simply nodded and swallowed, let Meg take his hand and lead him where she wanted. “I’m gonna try and go find Bela to say hi to her, alright?” she went on, and Cas nodded because he knew he didn’t quite have a choice. So, he watched Meg go, escape and disappear into the crowd leaving Cas feeling very alone.

Cas, again, really wasn’t usually one for alcohol, but he had had a rough Christmas, he had had a rough year, he was having a rough life. So, he went over to the punch bowl, took a red solo cup, and filled it to the brim, downing half of it in one long swallow. It was fruity and bitter but Cas didn’t care, just filled it up again and started simply wandering around.

He knew tons of people there, and he said hi to a few, but for the most part he just tried to find his way around and not knock his cup over. There were tons and tons of people around, but somehow, Cas felt even more lonely than if he had been standing alone in the middle of Bela’s foyay.

Cas looked around some more, just walked around and kept drinking, not caring what kind of alcohol it was, not caring what effects it would have. He wasn’t really feeling it yet so he just kept drinking.

Finally, when Cas was just starting to feel a little looser, he managed to wander around to the more secluded places, the little hallways off by the dining room and whatnot. Everything was fine, Cas was admiring some of the fine china hanging up when it happened.

He turned and ended up finding himself looking down one hallway where two people were. They were a little ways away so Cas couldn’t fully see them, but he knew immediately that he knew them. It was a girl and a guy and they were making out. Like really making out, tongue and spit and it looked very messy.

Cas squinted a little because he knew those people, but he couldn’t tell who they were. And then the guy, the taller one, tan skin, light brown hair, turned his face just so, and just so happened to look over slightly, caught that Cas was staring at him.

Dean. It was Dean and Lisa.

Cas swore he felt every emotion in him at that one moment, that one second in time.

Dean looked at him, stared him down like a deer in the headlights. And Cas just looked back, feeling this jealousy, big and angry and mean flare up inside of him alongside this terrible heartbreak, this ache that started in his chest and sank down down down until it was settling like a stone in the pit of his stomach.

It took a few seconds, but then Cas was just booking it. And then Cas heard Dean call his name, and then overlaying it was Meg, Meg calling his name too. But, Cas didn’t care, he just found his way to the back door, burst out of it, and held back a scream that was begging to come out of his throat. Instead, however, he chucked his cup, one third still full, off into the snow, not caring where it landed.

He dropped his face into his hands, then let them slide back, running through his hair, tugging at the longer strands until it hurt, until it stung. Cas could see his breath in front of him, clouds of warm air escaping his lips in these angry little breaths.

“Cas?” came a kind, worried voice from behind him. “Cas, what’s wrong?”

Meg’s hand came out and rested gently on his shoulder. Cas sighed and shook his head.

“What happened?” she asked, slowly leading Cas backwards, trying to get him to sit down on the step by the backdoor.

“Nothing is fucking fair, Meg, none of this is fair!” Cas half yelled, still walking in a slow little circle before Meg finally got him to sit down next to her.

“Cas, what are you talking about?” Meg questioned, running a kind hand over his back. Cas let his head fall forwards and just hang there, hands still in his hair. There was no way he could explain anything to Meg. There was no way he could tell her that everything they had done, that their relationship had been a game of house, a play pretend game that Cas tried to keep up with. He couldn’t tell her about Dean. He couldn’t tell her about the kiss. He couldn’t tell her he didn’t like girls, not at all. None of it.

“Cas, was that… was that about Dean?” Meg began cautiously. Cas took a breath and sighed. “Cas, c’mon, just talk to me, I’m here,” Meg assured him. Cas had no idea how he managed, but he managed a way to look up and over at Meg. Meg’s eyes were big and kind and sweet and Cas felt another horrible rush of guilt run through him.

“I’m so sorry, Meg,” he choked out, because that’s all he could say, because he needed to say that, he needed Meg to know that he was sorry for everything.

“Cas, what are you talking about?” Meg questioned.

Cas just shook his head and looked at her, and looked at her, and tried to convey silently all the words he knew he couldn’t say. And then he saw it in her face. Understanding, confusion, all of it mixing up into this curiosity.

“Cas, why are you sorry, tell me why you’re sorry,” Meg began, her voice insistent. Cas shook his head.

“Meg, I can’t,” he began, his voice cracking. He took a deep breath. “Meg, I wish I could explain everything to you, but I can’t.”

“Cas, are you and Dean…?” she began. Cas shook his head.

“He’s not, we’re not,” Cas began, sighing. “We’re not doing anything.”

“But you want to.”

Cas could feel tears prickling his eyes, a sharp contrast to the cold. He looked back over at Meg and his face said it all.

“Cas, are you…?”

Cas knew what she was asking, he could hear it in her tone, he could see it in the understanding on her face. Cas just swallowed thickly and tried to ignore the tears threatening to spill.

“Don’t tell anyone. Please.”

It was all he could manage to say, all he could get out.

Meg looked over at him, tilted her head a little as her eyes stayed kind.

“All this time?”

“Meg, I wish,” Cas began, voice tight. “I wish I could have done better by you. I wish I could have given you what you gave me. I wish everything was different.”

And then, Meg was surging forwards, capturing Cas in a hug that for some reason, felt better than any hug Cas had ever shared with Meg.

“Don’t apologize, Cas,” she murmured. “Don’t apologize.”

Cas wrapped his arms around her tight, buried his face in the crook of her neck.

“Why aren’t you mad?” Cas questioned, voice breaking. “You should be mad, Meg, you should hate me,” Cas insisted. Meg shook her head and pulled away, setting her hands firmly on Cas’ shoulders. Cas looked into her eyes and saw that there were tears in hers too.

“I could never be mad at you, Cas,” she told Cas softly. “I’m sorry for what you’re going through, Cas, and I’m sorry that I didn’t know sooner and I wish I could stay as a friend at least, but for now, just for a little while, you have to give me time, okay?” she said, and Cas nodded. “I’ll come back as your friend, and then we can be friends, just friends, and things will change,” she insisted.

“I don’t deserve you, Meg.”

Meg smiled and leaned in for one last kiss. The very last kiss.

“Yes, you do. You deserve even better than me, Cas. And I know you’ll find someone even better,” she told Cas. Cas swallowed, attempted a smile and nodded a little. “I’ll get a ride home with Ruby, okay?”

Cas nodded.

“I’ll be back before you even know it, Cas, I promise,” she said as she stood up and Cas continued to sit. Cas nodded. “You’ve been amazing to me, you’ve been kind to me, and you’ve treated me wonderfully. So, I’ll be back to return the favor.”

And before Cas could protest, Meg was slipping back inside Bela’s house.

“Happy New Year, Cas,” she bid with a tender smile.

“Happy New Year, Meg,” Cas replied, quirking the slightest smile before Meg was gone for good, left to go home and hopefully find another boyfriend, a boyfriend who wasn’t in the closet and could treat her a lot better.

Cas took a deep breath and let it out, closing his eyes. Now Meg knew. Now at least one person knew.

He hadn’t said those two words, those ones that really solidified everything and made everything count, but he could tell that Meg understood, Meg knew exactly what those two words were without even having to ask, without needing clarification.

Cas wasn’t so sure how he felt about someone knowing. It felt freeing, sure, but he was almost paranoid now. What if Meg let it slip? Cas knew that Meg would never tell anyone, but what if she got drunk or high or something and ended up joking about that one period in her life where she was dating a very convincing gay teenage guy?

Cas sighed again, rubbed at his eyes and pushed the tears back, pushed the worry back, did what he did best and repressed all the bad shit before taking a breath, standing up tall, and heading into the party again.

No one seemingly knew any of what just happened, and Cas found it easy to disappear into the crowd. He took another solo cup, filled it up, and started up on the drinking front, figuring that forgetting that night would be desirable.

So, he stumbled around and mostly sat in corners, drinking and drinking, waiting until it was only minutes before the ball dropped, minutes before everyone kissed. Minutes before Dean, wherever that fucking bastard was, was kissing Lisa. The thought made Cas nauseous, and then it mixed with all the alcohol he had ingested, and then he found himself immediately running upstairs to the bathroom because he checked the downstairs one and it was already taken.

Cas pretty much barreled down the door to the upstairs bathroom, almost one hundred percent sure he was gonna spend his New Year puking up his guts (in his mind, it was pretty appropriate), but he stopped immediately when he saw someone sitting on the edge of the bathtub.

“Shit, sorry,” he began, starting to back out, able to tamp down the urge to throw up, when he suddenly realized who it was, exactly, sitting on the edge of the bathtub and looking very sad, looking into his open palms like maybe they held answers or something.

It was fucking Dean Winchester.

Dean looked up, saw Cas, and they stared again, like two deer both caught in the headlights.

Cas wasn’t so sure what to feel, what he was feeling, or what he was supposed to feel, when he started to leave again.

“Cas, wait,” Dean said, reaching out a hand for Cas. Cas looked back at him, and his eyes were sad. “Stay.”

Cas didn’t know what came over him or what stupid part of his brain decided that it was a good idea (probably the drunk part) but he did. He stayed. He closed the door and went to carefully sit next to Dean on the edge of the bathtub.

“Hey,” Dean said softly as though they were just going to avoid everything. As though they were going to avoid the fact that they had kissed and Dean had supposedly forgotten, the fact that Cas was gay and in the closet, the fact that they hadn’t spoken in weeks upon weeks. But, Cas figured that he played pretend pretty well so why not just keep playing a little longer.

“Hey,” Cas replied just as softly.

“I thought you weren’t the partying type,” Dean mused, glancing over at Cas.

“Meg dragged me here,” Cas sighed.

“Where’s she?”

“Gone.”

“Why?”

“We broke up.”

“Why?”

“It’s a long story.”

“Oh.”

Silence fell between them then, even though outside the bathroom both Dean and Cas could hear people yelling in excitement, the minutes ticking closer and closer to a New Year.

“I had something to do with it, didn’t I?” Dean offered quietly. Cas looked over at him. “You saw me kissing Lisa and then you ran.”

“I did.”

“Why?”

“I was jealous,” Cas answered truthfully. Cas figured that because he was drunk, and Dean was probably drunk, and it was New Year’s, that he could get away with letting some truths out.

“Oh,” Dean simply replied with this little nod like he was trying to understand but he didn’t quite, not all the way.

“Where’s Lisa?”

“We broke up.”

“Again?”

“Again.”

Cas looked over at Dean and Dean looked over at Cas and they both smiled because it had always been a teasing kind of joke between them when Dean would get back together with Lisa, or when they would break up.

“Why?” Cas questioned, still looking at Dean, searching his face.

“It doesn’t matter,” Dean told Cas, and Cas swallowed thickly before looking away.

“First time I’m supposed to get a kiss on New Year’s and it turns out to be a bust,” Cas mused, mostly to himself. “At the last second too,” he sighed.

Outside, people were starting to count down, but they were still in the twenties, not even at the last ten seconds.

“I see you’re drinking again,” Dean then pointed out, looking at the red solo cup in Cas’ hand. Cas smiled and set it down behind him. “What’s Castiel trying to forget tonight?”

Cas’ full name felt strange coming from Dean. Dean never used his full name, not since he had come up with the nickname.

Outside, people were starting to go down to even lower numbers.

Twelve…

“To forget someone exists.”

Eleven…

“Who might that someone be?”

Dean was smiling softly at that point, and the sadness in his eyes had faded a little.

Ten…

“You won’t want to hear his name.”

Nine…

“Try me.”

Dean quirked that smile that made Cas’ heart skip a beat.

“You. Dean Winchester.”

Eight...

“And why on Earth would you want to forget that I exist?”

Dean looked intrigued.

Seven...

“You’re ruining my life.”

Cas didn’t know why he was smiling but he was.

Six…

“Really?”

Five…

“Really.”

Four…

“Baby, you’re ruining mine.”

The name made Cas’ heart leap all the way to his throat.

Three…

“So, we’re ruining each other’s lives?”

Two…

“I guess so.”

Dean was looking at Cas’ lips, and Cas was looking at Dean’s eyes.

Cas’ heart was beating in his throat, his palms were sweaty, his mouth was dry.

One…

Dean’s hand came up so slow, oh so slow, and he cupped Cas’ chin with gentle fingers. Cas’ eyelids fluttered at the touch. Everything went in slow motion as Dean drew Cas forwards. Cas held his breath until his lips brushed Dean’s. Tender, easy, soft and kind, the kiss was everything Cas had been looking for for the past few months.

Warmth flooded him, his blood rushing in his ears, the sounds of people yelling outside the bathroom door overlaying it. Cas felt Dean’s hand slide up to the side of his face and Cas leaned into the kiss a little more.

Cas parted his lips, Dean parted his in kind, and there was a tender moment where they each let out a soft breath into warm, open mouths. And then they were kissing again, Cas’ hand coming to rest on Dean’s shoulder, sliding to the back of his neck as his tongue slipped past Dean’s lips.

Dean leaned into it a little more and Cas welcomed him, trying to slow that hunger inside of him, trying to let that simmering lust stay back as he kept the kiss going, slow and gentle.

It wasn’t like the first time they had kissed. The first time they had kissed it had been an epiphany, it had been this realization with underlying hunger. It had been an understanding, a final understanding. But this was different.

This was soft and sweet, this was kind and easy and what both of them needed. This is what Cas craved, this is what Cas had been looking for. Someone to collapse into, someone to welcome him with open arms. And Dean was doing just that, cupping his face and matching every touch Cas had to offer, every swipe and curl of his tongue.

Slowly, sounds faded out, slowly, everything faded, and all there was was Dean, the sound of his breathing, the softness of his lips, the feeling of his thumb stroking Cas’ cheekbone. Cas finally had to sigh into it, relishing it, relishing every single fucking second, every second that he had been searching for for forever.

Slowly, Dean pulled away and nuzzled at the side of Cas’ face, pressed a kiss to his cheek and nipped at his earlobe.

“I’m so sorry, Cas,” he murmured against Cas’ ear. His voice had a sadness in it that Cas wanted to cure. “I shouldn’t have told you that I didn’t remember that night. I shouldn’t have lied to you like that.”

Cas curled his arms around Dean, felt the way Dean accepted him, hugged him right back. Cas closed his eyes and nuzzled into the crook of Dean’s neck.

“I missed you so fucking much, Dean,” Cas sighed, and he could feel those stupid tears from earlier coming back. “I shouldn’t have ignored you. But it was all I could do. I couldn’t pretend like that, pretend that what happened never happened,” Cas told Dean softly.

“It’s okay,” Dean replied, stroking a hand over Cas’ back. “It’s okay.”

“What now?” Cas mumbled, refusing to relinquish his grip on Dean. He would hold Dean for as long as Dean would let him. Which, Cas was getting a feeling, was a very long time.

“I don’t know,” Dean muttered. Cas smiled a little, he smiled for some unknown reason, or maybe he just smiled because he could.

“I don’t know either.”

Chapter Text

Both Dean and Cas managed to get home safe after the party, agreeing that they both needed to discuss things in more detail when they were sober. So, on a Saturday when no one was home at Dean’s, Cas came over and they curled up together on the same old couch they had always sat in in Dean’s basement, except this time Cas wasn’t sitting across from him, he was nestled happily in between Dean’s legs with his head resting on Dean’s chest. Cas couldn’t even voice how nice, how amazing it was to be able to just lay there with Dean, in Dean’s arms, with Dean running his fingers through Cas’ hair.

“So, you said I’m ruining your life, huh?” Dean questioned with a soft smile, looking down at Cas whose features were soft. Cas closed his eyes and sighed.

“Yeah, you wrecked it,” he told Dean who laughed.

“And how’d I do that?”

Cas opened his eyes and looked up at Dean from an upside down view. He smiled a little and shifted, rolling over so that he was chest to chest with Dean with his chin lying on Dean’s sternum.

“You came back from summer vacation and you were different. You looked different, you had grown a little. Obviously you were still you, still the same Dean I knew, but I just felt different around you. I didn’t really know what it was, and the puzzle pieces were really slow to come together. I spent a lot of time in the fall just trying not to think about you because I kind of knew what I was feeling, I just didn’t want to face it.”

“What were you feeling?” Dean murmured. Cas quirked a smile.

“I was feeling what I figured was a crush. And I kind of knew that it was a crush, but I wasn’t so sure. I just knew that I liked you and I felt different about you. But, then Meg came along and you were all enthusiastic about me being with her so I tried that and it didn’t work. I liked her as a friend and she was pretty but I could tell I wasn’t feeling those feelings you got when you talked about girls or when you were around girls,” Cas went on to explain, and Dean nodded.

And then, I kissed you and it all made sense. It was this huge puzzle piece coming in and fitting itself along with what little I had already figured out. I finally understood why I didn’t like girls, I finally understood that I really liked you, that I wanted to be with you. But then, you told me you didn’t remember the kiss and I kind of lost hope. I figured it was kind of over, and I couldn’t just keep hanging out with you with what had happened looming over me. So, I tried to get lost in Meg, but that didn’t really work,” Cas shrugged.

“I’m sorry I lied to you, Cas, I really am. But I panicked,” Dean explained.

“Yeah, tell me your side of this whole story,” Cas said, shifting around and smiling a little. Cas immediately caught a little blush rising to Dean’s cheeks and watched as he laughed a nervous little laugh. “What?” Cas asked, tilting his head to the side.

“Cas, you’re not gonna believe me when I tell you this,” Dean assured Cas who grinned.

“Try me.”

“Back in sophomore year, you were the one person that I liked.”

Cas’ jaw dropped probably as far as it could.

“That’s why I started dating Lisa. I mean, I liked girls, and Lisa was hot, and I could have her, so I figured that was the best way to go about things. So I did that, and then ignored it for Junior year. Then, this year, coming back after vacation, I felt that same thing I felt back in sophomore year. So, I panicked again. I went back to Lisa, tried to set you up with Meg so that my mind could finally shut the fuck up because then I would know you were taken and I would know for sure that it was all impossible. So, then, after we kissed, I really panicked because I knew you had Meg and I had Lisa and I figured there was no way it would ever work out,” Dean explained.

“You’re joking,” Cas said dryly. Dean smiled and shook his head.

“I told you you wouldn’t believe me.”

“But, when we kissed, you said that you had only been thinking of guys as attractive for like, a little while. Not all the way back in sophomore year,” Cas argued.

“Yeah, I didn’t think guys were attractive, but I thought you were attractive,” Dean replied, nudging Cas with his knee. “You were an exception.”

Cas just looked down at Dean, and kept looking at him, at his eyes, his face, his lips. There was a little sparkle in his eyes that Cas had never seen before, and it gave Cas this sort of hope. It gave him hope that maybe this was part of that secret side that Dean hid. Maybe Cas was already starting to uncover those hidden details of Dean. Maybe Cas was making progress.

“I guess we’re both masters of repression at this point, huh?” Dean teased, lips quirked into a smile, eyes shining as he ran a hand through Cas’ hair. Cas smiled a slow, wide smile and nodded.

“I think you’re right.”

Dean’s face turned a little more serious then as he looked over Cas.

“I knew you were in pain, Cas. You were different when you came back to school. You always looked so lonely, even with Meg. I wanted to fix you so so bad,” Dean murmured.

“I want to fix you too,” Cas mumbled softly. Dean smiled a bittersweet smile.

“That’s where we get into trouble. You can’t fix people, Cas, no matter how hard you try,” Dean informed Cas quietly.

Cas thought to himself of all those months back, at the bonfire, when Cas had looked at Dean and wished that he could break him open and put him back together, to smooth down those rough edges, to kiss away bruises and sore spots. Cas thought of how badly he wanted to see Dean whole, completely whole with no secret sides.

“Will you stop me if I try?” Cas questioned. Dean smiled a little more.

“Don’t act like I don’t know how stubborn you are, Cas. Of course I can’t stop you,” Dean told Cas, smoothing a hand down Cas’ back. “Trying to fix each other, it’s not ideal though.”

“Nothing is ideal in my life right now,” Cas replied, smiling. Dean laughed at that.

“I guess you have a point,” Dean sighed, kind eyes roving Cas’ face.

“What are we gonna do about, y’know, us?” Cas questioned almost shyly. “I want you, Dean, I want to be with you,” Cas insisted.

“You don’t know how bad I want to be with you too, Cas,” Dean sighed back. Cas bit his lip, knowing what was coming next. “I don’t think that letting everything out though, letting people know about us, is the best thing.”

The worst part was that Cas knew that that was true.

Public high school could be rough, and though there were definitely accepting groups and accepting people, there were definitely kids at their school who would come after them if they came out as a couple.

“What do we do then?” Cas questioned softly, catching Dean’s eyes that were tinged with a little bit of sadness.

“Keep it a secret,” Dean replied quietly. Cas swallowed thickly and nodded hesitantly.

“How do we do that?”

“Sneak around,” Dean said, a smile starting to spread on his face again. “It won’t be so bad, Cas. We can sneak around and make out in little spots that no one knows about. We can hold hands under desks or when no one’s looking. We can spend days together cuddling when our houses are empty. I’ll make time for you, you make time for me,” Dean went on, nudging Cas. Cas couldn’t help but smile a little.

“You think it’ll really work?” Cas questioned, chewing on his lip. Dean nodded.

“As long as, y’know, you’re willing to put some energy into me. I know I’m a pain in the ass, annoying, definitely persistent in sometimes the worst ways, not to mention-”

Cas leaned down and shut Dean up with a kiss, a kiss that Cas smiled into, a kiss that Dean smiled into, a kiss that unknowingly sealed their fate for most, if not the rest of the school year.
Maybe even longer.

“I’ll put as much energy as I have into you.”

“And I’ll do the same with you.”

Cas couldn’t remember a time feeling more content.

---

The first week back at school was, well, pretty much a mess. Gossip ran rampant through the school on account of the fact that not only had Lisa and Dean broken it off, but Cas and Meg who had become one of the school’s most favored couples (ironically enough) had also cut things off.

Everyone was talking, people were asking both Cas and Dean questions. Cas and Dean figured it would be good, however, if they stayed fairly separate from one another since they were single, had broken up with their girlfriends at the same time, and if they ended up getting caught holding hands or some shit under the desk, everything would be over.

So, painstakingly enough, Cas avoided Dean and Dean avoided Cas. Cas was technically the loneliest he had been, now with not even Meg by his side, but somehow, he felt a lot less lonely than he had in awhile.

He felt a little more whole, he felt like maybe things were looking up. And Dean would look at him in this way sometimes, this secret kind of way with that secret kind of smile that made Cas wonder if maybe fixing Dean wasn’t such a bad idea. Maybe Dean’s rough edges and broken pieces could be put together with kind words and soft kisses. Tender touches, lingering gazes, maybe those would fix Dean. And then Dean would put Cas back together with gentle hands and they’d be whole, both of them, and they’d be together.

It was all an elaborate daydream that Cas indulged in on a near daily basis. The idea that him and Dean could have everything, they could be everything. The idea that Dean was something Cas could fix. Cas knew, on some level, that it wasn’t true, that it couldn’t happen, but he had spent so much of the year in pain that he wanted to have some solace for once.

Dean became that solace.

After the first week of a hidden relationship, Cas figured that things wouldn’t be so bad. On Saturday, Dean’s house was empty again. Cas came over and they cuddled and shared stray, sweet kisses.

On Sunday, they took a long walk, holding hands.

On Monday, they had a snowball fight after school and eventually ended up with Cas on top of Dean, in the snow, laughing and kissing with cold noses and warm mouths.

Tuesday, they kissed behind the school.

Wednesday, they held hands on the drive to school.

Thursday, Dean found a little spot in the woods where they could park the car and hold long make out sessions.

Friday, Dean kissed Cas good morning.

Saturday, Dean’s house was empty and they cuddled again.

The next week was a repeat then, all those activities blurring together, mixing up on different days. And then the week after that was the same. And slowly, Cas began to feel like he was
dreaming. His grades rose back up again, he didn’t feel lonely. And it all reached a beautiful peak one Sunday night when Cas and Dean had snuck out to the lake that had frozen over. They sat on a small dock that not many people visited and Cas leaned on Dean’s shoulder as they both looked up at the night sky present over the horizon.

“Hey,” Cas began, starting to smile as he remembered something. “You wanna hear a secret?”

“A secret?” Dean questioned. Cas nodded and Dean smiled, nuzzling into Cas’ head before pressing a kiss atop it. “Tell me,” he replied.

“Remember that bonfire we went to at the beginning of the year? Before I was with Meg and all?”

Dean took a second to think before he was nodding.

“Well, that was when I was really starting to feel things for you. And I remember looking at you with the fire dancing and making your face glow in this way that was absolutely stunning.”

“I like the flattery,” Dean teased, and Cas grinned, nudging Dean.

“And I was looking at your freckles.”

“My freckles?” Dean questioned, raising an eyebrow. Cas smiled and nodded.

“Over summer your freckles had really come out, they were really pronounced. They were all over your cheeks and your nose. And they were really really beautiful,” Cas went on. “And I was like,
semi drunk, so I started thinking, ‘Dean’s freckles look like constellations’.”

Dean didn’t say anything, but Cas could feel him smiling next to him.

“And that was the night that I walked Meg home holding hands and all. And I got her home safe, but then I had to walk home, and when I did, I looked up at the sky and I thought of you. And I spent my entire walk home looking at the sky and trying to match the patterns of the stars with the patterns of your freckles,” Cas explained. He paused. “I think that that’s when I really knew that I was in for it. I knew there was no turning away from those feelings, those feelings for you that made me all warm, those feelings that made me look up at the sky and think of you,” Cas went on, quiet, reverent. Dean squeezed Cas’ hand that he had been holding in between them. Cas felt Dean lean over a little, pressing his lips to Cas’ head before resting his own head there.

“What did I do to deserve you, Cas?” Dean questioned softly. Cas grinned, warm and slow.

“What did I do to deserve you?” Cas shot right back. Dean pulled away from him for a second, and Cas looked over at him. His eyes were warm, sparkling, full of something Cas had never seen. It was another secret coming from that secret side of Dean that Cas was starting to know.

Dean untangled their hands that had been being held between them, and he brought that hand up to cup Cas’ chin. Cas smiled a little more at the touch. Cas could see the reverence in Dean’s eyes as he slid that hand up and let his thumb brush over Cas’ cheekbone. The touch made Cas melt, it made him melt like candle wax even despite the cold air around them.

“I love you, you know.”

Cas’ heart did this thing, this thing it had never done before. And butterflies erupted in his stomach along with this big great warmth. Neither of them had said ‘I love you’ yet. They had been together for a fair amount of time, but those words had never been said. Cas thought back and remembered that he hadn’t even said those words to Meg, nor had she said them to him.

Cas thought to himself to ask Dean if he really meant that. He thought to himself that maybe Dean was just saying that. He thought in the very back of his head that there was no way this could work out. He thought of how, on some level, it hurt to sneak around. He thought of how Cas was just one seventeen year old, closeted gay kid who had no idea where his place was. But then those words, those words coming from Dean gave him this grounding feeling. This feeling like maybe he did have a place. And he had purpose. And he found that though he wanted to say so much, he wanted to tell Dean endless things, he just found himself managing an,

“I love you too, Dean.”

Chapter Text

After that, Cas felt like things were going wonderfully. Him and Dean were spending a lot of time together, Dean always put Cas first and Cas always put Dean first. They were almost always on the same page.

But, what goes up, must come down. And that rising peak of content that had risen in their relationship a few weeks back, well, it had to fall.

People started giving Dean and Cas looks and glances. They started whispering about them behind their backs. Dean and Cas were becoming gossip material.

Dean and Cas had, admittedly, gotten close, a little too close for two high school guys who had just broken up with their girlfriends. At the same time.

Talk circulated, and Dean and Cas became aware of it slowly but surely. And then it came to a head one afternoon when Dean and Cas were heading back to the Impala after school, Dean getting ready to drive Cas home.

“Hey, so, you guys dating or what?”

Cas’ blood froze when he heard that voice, the voice of Alastair, one of the higher ups in their school, one of those kids that were always raising hell, always torturing some poor kid that didn’t deserve it in the slightest.

“What do you want, Alastair?” Dean called back, having turned to look at him. Cas couldn’t, meanwhile, he just couldn’t, it was too daunting. Instead, he glanced over his shoulder at him and then looked between him and Dean who didn’t look too happy.

“Just wanna know how it’s going for you two. You guys look awfully comfy around each other lately.”

Cas swallowed and looked down at the ground.

“It’s none of your fucking business,” Dean snapped.

“Well, it’s pretty much the business of the whole school. You guys sucking each other off behind the bleachers or what?”

Dean started forwards and Cas immediately stepped over to Dean, laying an arm across his chest.

“Dean,” Cas said, voice solid. Dean grit his teeth and glanced down at Cas who shook his head a little. “He’s not worth your time,” Cas murmured.

It took a second, but finally, Dean was stepping back, untensing just slightly. Cas sighed, trying to turn Dean back in the direction of the car as they began to walk off.

“Fucking fags!” Alastair called out with the most horrible, wicked grin on his face. Cas cringed, and Dean turned around, even as they kept walking towards the car.

“Dean, don’t-”

“Fuck off, asshole!” Dean called back, and Cas practically had to shove Dean for Dean to get into the car and finally pull out of the parking lot.

“This isn’t good, Cas,” Dean sighed, knuckles white on the steering wheel. Cas sighed from where he was sitting with crossed arms in the front seat. “People are starting to get suspicious. We’re too out there, we’re giving too much away.”

Cas wanted to argue, but he knew he couldn’t. Dean had a point, and his point was right on.

“Well, what are we gonna do then?” Cas asked, tone a lot more snappy than he would have liked it to come out. Dean gave him a sidelong glance and Cas sighed, shaking his head. “Dean, I’m sorry, it’s just-”

“You don’t have to apologize, Cas,” Dean replied quietly. “I just, I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“What do we do then?” Cas just repeated. He looked over at Dean who had his eyes dead set on the road. Dean sighed.

“I have an idea, but you’re not gonna like it. You’re not gonna like it at all,” Dean told Cas.

“What?” Cas questioned softly. Dean bit his lip and glanced over at Cas.

“I get back with Lisa.”

Cas’ whole entire heart sank, his stomach going with it, all the way down past his feet.

“What?” Cas asked meekly. Dean sighed and shook his head.

“Cas, trust me, I don’t want to but it might be the smartest thing to do. If I’m with Lisa, people with shut up, they’ll stop gossiping, y’know?” Dean suggested. Cas stayed silent, looking out the window. “Cas, baby, I want to do what’s best for you.”

“Getting back together with Lisa isn’t what’s best for me,” Cas replied, looking over at Dean.

“Then what is?” Dean questioned.

Cas sat and thought for a moment then, he thought of all possible options he could. He thought, well, maybe him and Dean could just get up and run away and never come back to fucking Lawrence Kansas and they would never have to deal with any assholes like Alastair ever again.

Except Cas knew, no matter what, something would always go sour.

So, Cas thought a little more, and figured to himself that maybe, just maybe things would work out. Because Dean had a way of making impossible things possible. So, Cas looked over at Dean with a sigh and nodded.

“Alright. You get back together with Lisa.”

Dean glanced over at Cas and a momentary look of mutual understanding passed through them. A mutual feeling that was wreaking havoc inside both of them apparent in both their eyes.

Fear.

---

Cas went back to pretending after that. He pretended he didn’t see Dean ask Lisa out and he pretended he didn’t see her reaction. He pretended he didn’t even see them hug.

He got pretty good at it too, because Dean played pretend with him. Dean kissed him and pretended he hadn’t kissed Lisa in the same day. Dean hugged Cas as if he was the only one Dean had ever touched.

It was okay for a few weeks, and Cas even managed to even tamp down the guilt he felt that Lisa was a part of it, that Dean was leading and stringing Lisa on this whole time, just for Cas.

Things grew sad though. They grew sour.

Cas got bitter, strung uptight, on edge with every touch Dean and Lisa shared. And Dean just seemed tired all the time, he seemed like he was trying hard, trying his best, but it wasn’t quite enough.

Everything seemed to be mounting, silently, however. This mounting frustration, mounting anger and fear and disappointment. Mounting feelings that were unknown, mounting feelings that went unsaid. They came out one night, however. Another Saturday in Dean’s empty house, Cas and Dean were in Dean’s basement again, their usual spot on the couch, when Cas spoke.

“I was thinking, maybe, y’know,” Cas began cautiously. “We haven’t really done anything in awhile so no one will really get suspicious if maybe we see a movie tomorrow,” Cas proposed from where he was on the opposite side of the couch. They still cuddled, but cuddling sometimes felt a little bittersweet to Cas.

“Lisa and I, we were, uh, gonna go somewhere tomorrow,” Dean replied, voice quiet as though he didn’t even want to tell Cas about it.

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

There was a tense pause in the air.

“You don’t have to lay it on thick with her, y’know,” Cas began, tone bitter, but also sad. “You guys can just hold hands in the hallways and be done,” Cas went on. “Unless you want to take it further.”

“Cas, why on Earth would I want to take it further?” Dean questioned, looking over at Cas who looked away.

“She’s your girlfriend.”

Dean gave Cas a look that had some hidden guilt in it.

“She doesn’t mean anything.”

“So, you’re just using her? Y’know, we never really discussed that, we never discussed that she’s in the fucking dark thinking that you love her again for the fucking umptenth time, but really your just screwing your best friend and trying to keep it a secret,” Cas shot back.

“Cas, none of what we’re doing is fair right now to anyone, okay?” Dean snapped. Cas sat up a little.

“So, what do you want to do about it then, Dean?” Cas questioned, voice raised just slightly.

“I don’t fucking know, alright, Cas?” Dean replied curtly before looking away and rubbing his temples.

“Well, you said it wasn’t fair, I mean, don’t you want to fix this?” Cas suggested, mock kind tone.

“Of course I want to fix this, Cas,” Dean replied, tone deflated. “Of course I do,” he then added a little more softly, as though he were talking to himself.

“Well, I’m not seeing any way of fixing it,” Cas told Dean matter of factly. Dean looked up and over at him, his eyes sad.

“I wish I could do better by you, Cas.”

Those words reminded Cas of the ones he had said to Meg awhile back, and for some reason, they stung. They hurt.

“Don’t say that,” Cas replied, his voice coming out quiet.

“Why not?”

Cas looked over at Dean, and Dean looked like he was trying so hard for hope, like he was reaching out but he just couldn’t quite get it.

“Cas, you don’t know how fucking true that is. You think I want this? Any of this? Cas, I don’t want Lisa, I don’t want fake dates. I don’t want stringing people on, I don’t want fucking any of it,” Dean breathed out. “I just want to do good by you.”

“You do do good by me,” Cas murmured. Dean smiled softly and shook his head.

“I don’t. Not as much as I should. I wish I could bring you into school on my arm and show you off to everyone, to tell everyone how amazing you are.”

Cas didn’t know why, but there were tears building up in his eyes.

“I wish I could do this all over again. I wish I could make things better. I wish I could fix you.”

Dean was starting to get up, move closer to Cas on the couch, sit right by his side.

“You can’t fix people. You were the one who told me that, remember?”

“And you were the one who said that wouldn’t stop you.”

Cas let his eyes roam Dean’s face. He looked kind, open. He looked like he was just cracking the door open to that secret side of him that Cas wanted to know the second Dean came home from summer vacation.

“I don’t want to keep doing this. I don’t want to keep Lisa in the dark and I don’t want to watch you have to sit in silence,” Dean murmured. Cas swallowed, pushing tears back.

“So, what do you want to do?”

“I have no idea.”

Cas huffed a breath of laughter at that because he knew that if he didn’t laugh, he’d cry, and it would be all ugly and gross and he didn’t want to have to put Dean through that.

“We’re star crossed lovers, I guess.”

“You’re avoiding the issue here, Dean.”

“Destined for love but kept apart,” Dean went on, leaning over and capturing Cas in his arms, tangling themselves up on the corner of the couch.

“We were fighting less than a minute ago,” Cas pointed out, half a smile on his face that he was valiantly trying to keep off.

“Yeah, and now we’re not.”

Dean pressed a soft kiss to Cas’ lips.

“How amazing is that?”

“Dean, c’mon,” Cas went on, nudging Dean. Dean smiled a little and buried his head in the crook of Cas’ neck.

“I’ll break up with Lisa,” Dean said softly.

“We’ll just be in the same position we were in before.”

“We’ll be more careful.”

“It’s not gonna work.”

Dean pressed a tender kiss to one of Cas’ pulse points.

“We’ll make it work.”

Cas hated that part of him believed that, that part of him that surrendered to Dean and said that everything would be okay.

“I don’t want to lose you, Cas. So, I’ll do whatever I can to keep you,” Dean explained softly. Cas felt his heart pang.

“Why do you even want to keep me at this point?” Cas huffed. Cas could feel Dean smiling against him.

“Because I love you.”

Cas smiled a little. He wanted to fight, he wanted to ask Dean how stupid it had been for this whole Lisa thing to happen, how stupid both of them were, but Cas just found himself sighing,

“I love you too.”

---

Sunday, Cas didn’t hear from Dean, but he figured it was likely because Dean was figuring everything out with Lisa. Then, on Monday, Cas figured he would see Dean in school and talk to him then, ask him if he got to talking to Lisa and if he did, how it went. Though, for some strange reason, Dean wasn’t at school on Monday.

Once the day was over, Cas was only mildly worried. He figured that maybe Dean had lost his phone or he was sick or maybe he just had to take a day off. He kind of pushed everything to the back of his mind, not letting those worries get the best of him.

He was just on his way out of school, having gathered his books and everything, when he felt his phone buzzing in his back pocket.

He fished it out and checked the caller ID, worry jumping inside of him when he saw that it was Dean.

“Dean?” Cas immediately said once he had accepted the call and brought the phone to his ear.

“Hey, Cas,” Dean breathed out on the other line. Cas’ brows immediately furrowed when he heard a tone of distress (or maybe sorrow?) in Dean’s voice.

“Dean, are you okay?” Cas questioned, stepping out of the school and into the air that was warming up as spring grew closer.

“Um, well, I guess,” Dean replied, and he sounded like he was trying his best to keep his voice from shaking. “Cas, I hate to tell you this over the phone, but I really can’t, just can’t…” Dean trailed off, and that worry inside of Cas grew.

“Dean, what’s wrong?”

“Sunday, uh, Sunday night, there was a fire at our house and now, well, the whole thing is gone,” Dean told Cas whose stomach dropped all the way past his feet.

“Oh my God,” Cas simply managed, unsure of what, exactly, was the correct thing to say. “Is everyone okay?” Cas then quickly asked.

“Um, well, Dad got out and I got Sammy out but Mom, she, she couldn’t get out in time and well…”

Dean’s voice was cracking, and Cas could feel his blood turning cold.

“Well, Mom didn’t make it. She’s gone.”

Chapter Text

Cas had offered to go to the funeral, the wake too, but Dean wouldn’t let him. Cas wasn’t so sure why, exactly, but he didn’t argue, nor did he ask any questions. Dean was blunt with Cas, straightforward and to the point, telling Cas that he wouldn’t be at school for a little while, that him and John and Sam would be staying at Bobby’s where he had some spare rooms.

Dean didn’t offer Cas much, didn’t show feelings, didn’t cry. He didn’t talk to Cas much either, Cas hadn’t even seen him since that Saturday where he had talked to Cas about breaking up with Lisa. Cas and Dean only talked a few times, and Cas tried his best to console Dean, tried his best to apologize, to get Dean to understand that he was there for him, but Cas could tell that Dean wasn’t really having it.

Dean brushed off every apology, he brushed off every bit of remorse that Cas tried to offer in attempts to reach Dean, in attempts to get him to understand that Cas was there for him one hundred percent. Dean seemingly took it in, but never gave much back.

Cas figured he’d wait it out. He knew that Dean was dealing with grief, he knew it would take healing, it would take God knows how long for things to settle out. So, Cas just waited until a few weeks later, Dean was back in school.

The second Cas saw Dean, he knew Dean was different. Dean didn’t make eye contact, but when he did, Cas could see this look in them, some sort of raw sadness, and empty space, blank, open, tired. Cas could tell Dean was tired, but he could also tell that Dean was trying not to show it.

Dean was trying not to show anything, actually. He went around school like nothing had ever happened. He went through all life’s motions, and Cas just watched. He offered for Dean to come over his house, offered the idea that maybe they should just have some one on one time to talk, but Dean just brushed him off and Cas accepted the fact of it.

Cas wanted to help, but he knew Dean needed time to himself for a bit. So, Cas gave him that.

It was a whole month before Dean finally accepted one of Cas’ offers to go to Cas’ house.

It was the first time, since the fire, that they had really talked.

They sat on Cas’ bed and they just talked.

They talked over simple stuff. Cas didn’t bring up the fire, didn’t offer any apologies. He played pretend with Dean for the millionth time, acting as though Dean wasn’t always tired, as though Dean’s eyes weren’t sad, as though Dean himself wasn’t sad.

Dean smiled a little, and he even laughed, and Cas felt like maybe things were better than they seemed.

But they weren’t.

Dean and Cas drifted apart again, just like they had earlier in the year. They drifted as though they were trying to pull up the past and hit ‘copy’.

They didn’t sneak around, they didn’t kiss. They stopped cuddling, those lingering touches fading. They never held hands, they didn’t text as much.

It hurt Cas, it hurt him so Goddamn much but he knew he couldn’t do anything about it. He knew that he couldn’t push Dean into things. He could try and lead Dean here or there but he knew it wouldn’t work.

Cas thought he had uncovered that secret side to Dean in the past months. He thought he had found those rough edges and dirty sides. He thought he had access to them, he thought that maybe Dean had let him in. But Dean pushed him out. Dean cut himself off again, and suddenly Dean and Cas were doing this huge rewind to before they even knew they had feelings for each other

So, it was only fitting that history repeated itself, twisted itself around and mirrored the infamous event that brought them to where they were in the present.

“Wanna go get drunk?”

Dean asked it after knocking on Cas’ door, holding up another bottle of white wine. Cas didn’t know where Dean got it, didn’t think it was necessarily a good idea to go get drunk with Dean with all their past history muddling up their current circumstances. Though, somehow, still, Cas found himself down at the lake with Dean, same spot, same time, the sun setting.

They still talked simple stuff, talked about school, classes, people.

“You still with Lisa?” Cas asked cautiously, side eyeing Dean and taking a long drink from the bottle in his hand. Dean smiled a little next to him, his eyes set out on the horizon of the lake.

“Nah. She didn’t want me the way I am.”

‘I want you the way you are,’ Cas thought silently to himself. He only nodded, however.

“That sucks,” Cas sighed, passing the bottle over to Dean.

“Not really. Lisa was never someone I really connected with.”

“Then why were you always on and off with her?” Cas questioned. Dean smirked and glanced over at Cas.

“You. You were the reason I got with her. Remember? Thought you were cute but I had to hide that so I went after her. Then it was basically a rinse and repeat kind of thing.”

“Oh.”

Cas couldn’t stop a little smile from coming up on his face.

“Poor Lisa. Jeez. You should apologize or something,” Cas said, and Dean laughed. Cas smiled. Dean rarely laughed a true laugh, one of those old Dean laughs that used to come out back when him and Cas were originally together.

“Yeah, she always got the short end of the stick, huh?” Dean supposed.

“Are we bad people?” Cas then asked after a moment of contemplation. “I mean, I was with Meg and that was a mess. And she said she’d come back as a friend, and we still smile at each other, but she never really reconnected with me. And then you with Lisa,” Cas added on. Dean shrugged.

“Everyone is shitty in one way or another.”

“We’re liars,” Cas mused. Dean laughed again.

“Feel guilty about it another time. We’re drunk now, we’re not in the right mindset to properly feel guilt.”

“Huh. Never thought of it that way,” Cas murmured. Dean smiled next to him.

“Sometimes getting drunk is the best thing to do when you want to think.”

“That’s debatable.”

“Hey, you’re the one who always drinks to forget.”

Cas smirked and Dean smirked right back.

“I missed this,” Cas then said, voice a little quiet.

“What?” Dean replied.

“Talking with you. Banter. You’re the only one who I can really talk to,” Cas told Dean almost shyly.

“So, in the time we haven’t been talking, what have you wanted to say?” Dean looked a little amused.

Cas swallowed thickly.

“A lot.”

“Tell me.”

Dean eyes were so honest that Cas could have melted right into them and never come back.

“I miss you. And I still want to fix you. And I want to be there for you. And I wish I could let you know how much I love you and care for you. And sometimes life feels a little empty without you.”

Cas’ voice was quiet, almost a whisper. Dean shifted closer to hear it.

“What else?”

Dean’s eyes were searching Cas’ as though the tables had turned and Dean was trying to find Cas’ secret side.

“I want you to be happy. And I want to be happy too. So that maybe we can be happy together.”

Cas looked away from Dean.

“Or something.”

“Or something?”

Cas looked back up at Dean, Dean with his searching, honest and open eyes.

“Yeah,” Cas managed.

“Do you believe we could be happy together?”

“Honestly?”

Dean nodded.

“Honestly.”

Cas took a breath.

“I think… if we tried. Maybe. But I’m not so sure. I know things are rough for you right now. I know I haven’t kissed you in months. I know you’re sad.”

Dean smiled a melancholy smile and let his eyes roam Cas’ face. Cas felt like he was completely open in that one moment, like the entirety of him was laid out for Dean, for Dean alone.

“Can I kiss you?”

Dean sounded almost shy, and his voice was quiet. Cas looked up and into his eyes and there was so much there, so many feelings, so many unsaid words. Cas could barely tell what was most prominent.

Cas didn’t say anything, just nodded and swallowed thickly.

Dean leaned in, cupped Cas’ chin, and kissed him, kissed him softly and slowly and tenderly and in a way that made Cas’ heart ache.

It was a different kind of kiss. It was different from their other kisses. It was sad.

Dean pulled away, his lips lingering on Cas’.

“I’m sorry, Cas.”

“For what?”

“Everything.”

“You don’t have to apologize,” Cas murmured, looking back up into Dean’s eyes. They were sad, just like the kiss. Sad, a little empty.

“I’m leaving.”

The words were quiet, said in a hushed tone that made Cas’ stomach drop.

“What do you mean?”

“I have to… I have to drop out of school. I have to take care of Sammy. Dad started drinking again and he’s not really, not really all there anymore. Sammy has pretty bad nightmares and flashbacks on a daily basis,” Dean explained. Cas swallowed thickly and pulled away from Dean a little more.

“Oh.”

As Cas pulled away, he looked over at Dean’s wrist, looked at the skin where the sleeve of his jacket had ridden up. On his wrist there was a dark bruise, a very ugly bruise that Cas immediately pointed out.

“Dean, what’s that from?” Cas questioned quickly. Dean cleared his throat and moved his jacket back down.

“It’s nothing,” Dean muttered.

“Dean.”

Cas’ tone was serious with a hint of warning to it. Dean glanced over at Cas before looking back down at the ground.

“Dad, just, um, gets annoyed sometimes. Sometimes he can get a little rough,” Dean huffed, sounding as though he was trying to brush it off, but Cas could hear his voice shaking a little.

“Dean, you-”

“Cas.”

Dean’s voice had a warning tone to it, though it was still shaking a little.

The two of them took a moment to pause before Cas spoke.

“I wish we could do this all over again,” he began softly. “I wish none of this had happened. I wish you weren’t in pain. I wish you could understand how far I would go for you.”

“You’re wishing for a lot of things there, Cas,” Dean said, a little smile on his face. When Cas looked more closely, he could see tears brimming Dean’s eyes. It made his heart ache once more. He had never seen Dean cry, he had never even seen him come close to that much emotion.

“I have even more wishes stored in the back of my head, y’know,” Cas told Dean, quirking a little smile. Cas wanted to cry too, he did, but he couldn’t. He felt more numb than anything else.

“Don’t waste your energy on them.”

Dean didn’t say it with venom, he said it more with sadness.

“But, don’t you remember when we first started sneaking around? Don’t you remember how I said I would put all of my energy into you?” Cas said, starting to feel that numbness fade, a dull ache now present in his chest. He looked over at Dean who smiled a little more.

“Yeah.”

“I’m still gonna do that. Even after you leave,” Cas added.

“I’ll still be in town, y’know,” Dean offered, but Cas knew that his offer was only a last gasp, a last attempt to give Cas hope. Cas smiled softly and shook his head.

“I know that you know that it’s not gonna work, Dean.”

Dean’s eyes flashed with an understanding, an acknowledgment.

“And I know that too. Star crossed lovers, remember?”

Dean swallowed thickly and nodded, trying for a smile.

“I won’t leave you if you don’t want me to, Dean, but I have a feeling you know it’s best.”

Dean bit the inside of his cheek and nodded, those tears threatening to spill.

“Hey,” Cas soothed, reaching over and running a hand through Dean’s hair. “I still love you, y’know. Every part of you.”

One tear slipped down Dean’s cheek.

“You were the first person I really fell for, Dean. You were the first person that made me feel like there was always hope for everything and anything. I know we’re teenagers, I know both our lives are messes, but I know that you were the first person that I loved.”

Another tear fell down Dean’s cheek.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s the same for you too, y’know,” Dean choked out. Cas smiled a little.

“You mean that?”

“Of course I do.”

There was a pause, a silence falling between them. Dean looked at Cas and Cas looked at Dean and they both were seemingly searching for something, anything, something to hold onto maybe or something to find comfort in. But, there was only so much.

“I should get you home now,” Dean said, voice a whisper. Cas smiled softly. He didn’t want to go home, not at all. He never wanted to go home, he never wanted to leave. He wanted to stay on that little beach by the lake and indulge in the daydream that maybe him and Dean were meant to be, that maybe fate would turn things around, maybe everything wasn’t over. Or maybe it was all an elaborate dream and Cas would wake up the next day and meet Dean at the lake after having not seen him for the whole summer. And Dean’s mom would still be alive and Cas would look at those freckles that looked like constellations. And they would sneak around some more, and they would kiss and hold hands, and people like Alastair wouldn’t be around to give them shit.

But, Cas knew none of that was true, nor would any of it happen. He knew what the circumstances were, and he knew what was in front of him. He knew Dean was broken and he knew he couldn’t fix him no matter how hard he tried. Cas knew that he was still living in a lonely state, knowing that Dean was the only one he ever felt like he could really talk to.

Cas knew nothing would work.

So, Cas said okay and let Dean walk him home. And they hugged for what felt like forever, even though it wasn’t nearly long enough. And Dean kissed Cas one more time, another sad kiss, a kiss that spoke volumes to the damage that had been done between them all by life’s circumstances.

Dean left, and Cas went to bed still dreaming of constellations.

Cas got through the rest of the week without even a text from Dean.

And then he got through the next.

And the next.

And everything faded to a white noise kind of blur as Cas went through the motions, thinking of Dean less and less, even though he had this space carved out in his heart just for Dean and Dean alone. Though, as weeks passed, as months passed, as Cas graduated and moved away to college, as Cas started college, details of Dean faded. The patterns of his freckles, sly smiles, twinkling eyes, they all drifted away and Cas couldn’t really do anything about it. Nothing at all.

Chapter Text

- Three Years Later -

Cas was having a bad day.

Cas’ first class of the day, which was all the way across campus, had been cancelled. Cas only found this out once he had realized he was late to said class and booked it across campus to get there. Then, after that fiasco, he managed to spill a cup of coffee on his favorite shirt, so he had to head back to his dorm to change, then that resulted in him actually being late to his next class. Promptly after that, he had forgotten to bring a term essay to the class after that class.

So, Cas wasn’t all too surprised when his bag holding all his books broke on the way to one of his last classes of the day.

Cas heard multiple thumps and then the prompt scattering of papers behind him when his bag initially broke, and he took a moment to simply stand in the cool, fall air, to close his eyes and ask God if he really wanted to continue to mess with Cas for the rest of the day.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Cas breathed out as he turned and leaned over, crouching down to try and collect rogue papers and tattered books. He had to work quickly too since it was a windy day meaning half of his papers started to blow away.

Cas was tired enough, however, to just let them, and he focused instead on what was in front of him.

Cas picked up and stacked up a few books, realizing that now he’d have to carry them in his arms around campus which was going to be a bitch and a half. He was just thinking about just how bad the rest of the day would be when a voice came out from above him.

“Is this yours?”

Cas glanced up to see an arm holding out a piece of paper that was, yes, in fact, Cas’. Cas sighed and nodded, starting to pick up the books he had gathered.

“Yeah, thanks, I just,” Cas began, straightening up and reaching out to take it. He was just about to take it when he looked up a little more to see who was offering the paper to him. Cas was a Junior so he knew a fair amount of people on campus, but, since it was just the beginning of fall, the influx of freshman was a group Cas hadn’t become completely familiar with.

It took him a second, but then he was taking in the features of the guy. He looked very familiar at first glance; tan skin, light brown hair, freckles…

Cas swore his heart stopped for a solid second. Just completely stopped.

“Dean?”

Understanding and realization became blatant in those green eyes that Cas had known so well.

“Cas?”

The two of them stared for a second, just stared, blinking, eyes roaming faces that had changed just slightly over the years.

“Holy shit,” Cas breathed out, still trying to decide if he wanted to laugh or cry since the initial memories he got when looking at Dean were very heart wrenching and bittersweet. Also, he had no clue what Dean was thinking.

Neither of them were really saying anything, mostly out of shock, so finally Cas just dumbly asked,

“Do you go here?”

Dean blinked and then finally closed his mouth that had been open for the moments he had been gaping at Cas.

“Uh, yeah, I, this is my first year.”

Cas blinked. Apparently that was why Cas didn’t know Dean was there, he was only a freshman.

“Oh.”

Cas said it in a tone of realization, the kind of ‘oh’ you would use when you found out that your friend’s remodeled kitchen didn’t look so bad afterall.

“Yeah,” Dean then replied. Cas just stared for a second more before shaking his head and finally taking the paper that Dean had tried to give him in the first place. “You- I thought you wanted to move to the northeast for college,” Dean began, and Cas vaguely remembered talking over college with Dean back in high school, telling him about what schools he wanted to go to.

“Oh, yeah, well, this wasn’t supposed to be permanent, I came here freshman year and figured I’d do maybe a few semesters or a year because, well, I got a scholarship so the costs were a lot better. Then, well, I made some friends here and I liked the teachers so I ended up sticking around. Plus, moving all the way to the northeast, y’know, it’s pricey,” Cas added on, sticking the paper Dean had handed him into the stack of books he was holding. Dean nodded and Cas took a deep breath. “What about you?” he questioned, remembering that Dean had dropped out of school, trying to push aside the memory of the fact that when he dropped out, him and Cas had broken off all ties.

“Oh, I got my GED a little while back, and eventually got the funds to actually pursue the whole college thing,” Dean told Cas, smiling. Cas immediately cursed himself when he saw that smile, when that smile stirred something inside of him that he thought he had forgotten.

“That’s good,” Cas replied with a little smile. “What are you majoring in?”

“Engineering,” Dean told Cas who nodded. Dean quirked a little smile again, and his eyes twinkled a little when he spoke again. “Let me guess, Environmental Sciences?”

Cas smiled way too wide at that. Dean must have remembered not only Cas’ college plans, but the major he had wanted to go after.

“You guessed right,” Cas told Dean who smiled a little more and nodded.

“Is it going well?” Dean questioned, and Cas nodded.

“It’s great so far. And this school is really nice too, I think you’ll like it,” Cas told him.

“Do you live in the dorms or do you travel?” Dean questioned.

“I live in the dorms,” Cas replied, nodding over to the general direction of where his dorm was. “Did you just move into the dorms?” Cas went on.

“Nah, I have my own place. It’s really small, nothing great, but it’s right near campus so it works out,” Dean told Cas.

“You must be working a lot if you can afford your own place,” Cas supposed. Dean grinned and shrugged.

“Bobby was really kind and let me work for him at his garage. And when I wasn’t in school, I had a lot of time on my hands and a lot of that time was spent working for Bobby. I saved almost all of it, and now I have a job at another garage downtown that pays pretty well,” Dean explained, and Cas nodded.

“You’re lucky. Once I stopped working for the Picketts, I was lost,” Cas told Dean.

“You started working for them in sixth grade, didn’t you?” Dean questioned, still smiling. Cas smiled back, something inside of him warming when he realized that Dean really hadn’t forgotten even the details of Cas.

“Yeah, yeah I did.”

“So, where do you work now?”

“There’s a bee farm a little ways away from here and I work over there,” Cas explained.

“Bee farm?” Dean questioned, sounding amused. Cas smiled a little and nodded.

“Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but it’s really nice. I like it at least,” Cas went on, sighing. Dean nodded.

“I’m glad you found something you like,” Dean replied. Cas nodded a little and smiled.

There was a pause between them, somewhat awkward, somewhat tense before Cas finally swallowed and opened his mouth.

“So, how well do you know the campus?” Cas questioned. Cas could tell that Dean already knew what he was getting at just by that little sparkle in his eye.

“I’m pretty lost half the time to be honest,” Dean replied. Cas quirked a smile.

“Maybe I could show you around a little,” Cas offered almost shyly. He didn’t know how Dean was feeling, nor how he felt towards Cas, but Cas knew that he, himself, was just a little curious. He was interested to see what Dean’s life had been like after they had cut things off.

“Yeah, I’d like that.”

---

Cas thought it would be awkward, showing Dean around and all, talking with him again; but for some reason, it wasn’t.

Cas chalked it up to the fact that Dean had always been easy to talk to, was always smooth when it came to conversation. Cas and Dean seemed to always mesh well on the conversation front. So, Cas kind of put aside the old memories of Dean, the last ones he had of Dean being sad, Dean looking lost and empty. He put away the memory of the last time they had kissed. He focused on Dean in the moment, on the person Dean had become in the years Cas had been apart from him.

Dean and Cas, at first, simply started walking around the campus and talking. They avoided touchy subjects, fell into an easy flow of conversation as they wandered the campus day after day. Apparently Dean had been doing really well and Sam was doing great in school. John had stopped drinking. Dean told Cas about jobs he had had in between working for Bobby and his current job. He told Cas about his apartment and how things had been looking up for him.

Cas told Dean about himself too. He talked to Dean about Michael, how Michael had finally sold the house and Anna was still in school and Samandriel had been able to go off to college. Cas told Dean about how college had been for him so far, and he talked about his job at the bee farm. He told Dean shyly that he had come out to his family and friends, and Cas half expected a bad response from Dean, but Dean only smiled and told Cas that he was proud that he was able to do that.

Cas found himself able to recall the things he’d forgotten about Dean. His laughs, his freckles, the way his eyes twinkled in conversation, the way his smiles played out across his lips, all of it was coming back and Cas was just trying to make sense of it.

Cas found his heart still leapt when Dean grinned, slow and warm.

Cas found his stomach tumbled when Dean laughed a real laugh, a genuine one.

Cas found that feelings he thought would never come back, feelings he had forgotten, were still there, buried deep down and begging to come up.

It was after a week or two of showing Dean around that Cas finally broke.

Cas wasn’t planning on pursuing Dean, not at all. He knew that Dean had changed, Cas himself had changed, circumstances had changed and what happened between them happened years ago and it was when they were high schoolers. Confused high schoolers with too much heart and a lot of intention.

So, Cas was nervously fiddling with his hands as him and Dean walked around campus, a comfortable silence having fallen between them. Cas was thinking it over, thinking how Dean would probably reject him, and Cas was in the middle of warring with the thought of rejection versus the thought of Dean actually saying yes when Cas just blurted out,

“We should get coffee sometime.”

Dean stilled a little next to him, and Cas swallowed thickly, pointedly looking down at the ground.

“To talk,” Cas then added. Cas could feel Dean looking over at him, so Cas finally took a chance and looked over at Dean. Dean’s eyes were sparkling, his lips quirked up into this little smile, and he looked… amused.

“About what?” Dean asked. His tone was soft, kind. Cas had a feeling, just by the look in Dean’s eyes, that Dean knew, that he was on the same page as Cas, but still he replied,

“Past stuff.”

Another pause.

“Y’know, they call it the past because it passed by.”

“I’m aware,” Cas replied, trying to keep a steady tone. But it was difficult with Dean looking at him like that. Dean smiled a little more.

“How about tomorrow afternoon after you’re done with your classes and I’m done with mine, we grab coffee at the cafe, then go over by that place you hang out around, the little park by the pond,” Dean offered. Cas swallowed again and nodded.

“That sounds… yeah, that sounds nice.”

When Cas looked back over at Dean, his eyes were still sparkling in that way that made Cas’ heart leap.

---

Cas waited for the next day with bated breath. He tried to tamp down his nerves when him and Dean headed to the cafe. He tried not to blush when Dean ordered for him. And he tried to keep his heartbeat at a steady rate as they sat down on a bench overlooking a little pond on campus.

There was a silence between them, and though it was fairly comfortable, it had an underlying tension to it that Cas wanted to cut, to get out of the way.

“When you say past, there’s a lot to it, y’know,” Dean began quietly, taking a sip from his coffee. A cool, autumn breeze wandered by and Cas shivered a little, hands tightening on his own cup.

“I know,” he replied softly, keeping his gaze on the ground as Dean looked out over the pond.

“What part?”

“What?”

“What part do you want to talk about?”

Cas took a deep breath.

“All of it.”

Dean chuckled a little, and Cas’ stomach flipped.

“Cas, if we go over our entire past, we’ll be sitting here for weeks,” Dean told Cas, looking over at him. Cas smiled a little, gaze flicking over to Dean for just a second.

“You have a point.”

Cas paused.

“Is there… do you want to bring up a certain part?”

Dean seemingly tensed a little before relaxing.

“I want to say something.”

Cas nodded.

“I want to say that I’m sorry,” Dean said softly. Cas furrowed his brows.

“What are you sorry for?” Cas questioned. Dean quirked a little smile before glancing over at Cas.

“Don’t pretend like I didn’t hurt you, Cas.”

Cas paused, looked away from Dean.

“We were both hurt,” he replied quietly.

“I was the one who left.”

“It was what needed to happen.”

Cas looked over at Dean and Dean looked up. They held each other’s gazes for a moment or two.

“You were hurting so bad, Dean. And I wanted to fix that. I spent so much time wishing that I could open you up and find that secret side of you that I knew you hid,” Cas explained. Dean smiled softly and looked away.

“You were always too good to me, Cas.”

Cas smiled.

“You were the only person that I didn’t feel lonely around,” Cas told Dean quietly. Dean didn’t look at Cas, but he smiled.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“I wish I hadn’t left you, Cas,” Dean sighed, sitting back a little. “I missed you too much and for too long. At the time, y’know, I thought it was the best thing to do. And, I mean, it probably was. My Dad was, God, he was awful. And he wasn’t, well, he was homophobic to an extent that would have been really bad for me if he found us together. And I was trying to get over Mom and trying to take care of Sammy. It was this huge nightmare, but after it faded, I started to wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t left you,” Dean explained quietly.

“Wondering what could have been is a risky business,” Cas pointed out, melancholy smile on his lips. Dean huffed a little breath of laughter.

“Isn’t that what we’re doing right now? Wondering what could have been?”

Cas looked back over at Dean, and they held eye contact again, searching, searching each other’s eyes for the millionth time, trying to find answers that had never been there before.

“Things changed. We got older. We moved around and we forgot people and things but I never forgot you,” Cas told Dean softly. Dean tilted his head to the side.

“Well what do you know,” Dean began, smiling kindly. “I never forgot you either.”

Cas smiled.

“Do you… do you remember that night, the last night we were with each other when we mentioned being star crossed lovers?”

Dean nodded.

“Do you think that’s still true?”

Dean smiled, and there was hope in that smile, hope that made Cas’ heart flutter.

“I think it’s true that we got lost in each other. I think it’s true that we loved each other.”

“Do you think we’re meant to be together?”

Dean bit the inside of his cheek before quirking a smile.

“Cas, do you remember the first time we ever kissed?”

Cas snorted.

“Yeah, how could I not?”

“Remember how we were talking about if we liked guys, how I started asking you if maybe you thought guys were attractive? And you told me you thought they were? So you proposed a kiss?”

Cas nodded slowly.

“And remember how that kiss was like an experiment, or at least it was supposed to be? And it was supposed to tell us if we liked guys or not?” Dean continued. Cas raised an eyebrow, unsure of where Dean was going.

“Yeah,” Cas replied cautiously. Dean took a breath and let it out.

“I think we should do that again.”

Cas paused.

“But…” he began, and Dean must have know what Cas was thinking.

“We do it different this time. We do it with a different purpose in mind. We kiss and see what happens. We kiss and we find out if we’re supposed to be regular lovers or star crossed lovers,” Dean went on to explain. Cas’ heart started beating faster as he looked over Dean’s face, Dean’s features. They were still just as beautiful as Cas remembered.

“Do you think it’ll work?”

Cas’ voice was near a whisper.

“One way to find out,” Dean replied with a shrug. Cas licked his lips. Dean’s eyes were searching his face again, searching for something Cas didn’t know about. Cas’ eyes fell to Dean’s lips before darting back up to his eyes, sparkling in the best of ways.

Dean put down his coffee and took a breath, facing Cas and leaning in a little closer. Cas could see more details that way. Freckles that hadn’t been there before, colors he didn’t remember seeing in his eyes.

Dean’s hand came up and his fingers cupped Cas’ chin ever so gently. The touch felt foreign at first, but then it came back to Cas, it all came back. Years of being apart couldn’t even tamp down that feeling Cas got when Dean touched him in that way, that gentle, caring way.

Cas felt himself leaning forwards ever so as Dean did the same. It went slow, so so slow, but finally, lips were brushing lips in a tender, barely there kiss.

They both hovered, hesitated for a moment, feeling out the kiss. Cas didn’t know what he felt quite yet, he couldn’t tell. Everything inside of him was rushing, emotions swirling and blood pumping fast.

Dean pressed forwards slightly more, lips connecting fully, offering a softness, offering something to fall into.

Cas didn’t feel anything at first, he only felt nerves. But then, Dean’s hand was sliding up, cupping the side of his face. His thumb stroked Cas’ cheekbone and as if the touch unlocked something inside of Cas, Cas parted his lips slowly, let the kiss deepen, let feelings identify themselves, come out of the shadows.

Cas melted into it, let himself get lost in a kiss that was chaste and sweet, tender and loving. It was as if those years they had spent apart had built up into this one, singular emotion, this one kiss.

Familiarity washed over Cas as he relaxed, hands coming out to rest gently on Dean’s knees as the kiss continued and Cas felt remembrance flood through him.

Cas felt this surge of relief, this feeling of finality. In a way, the kiss resembled their first kiss. It resembled that understanding, it resembled the realization. Cas realized, in that moment, that Dean hadn’t been forgotten for a reason. Feelings hadn’t diminished for a reason. And the reason was right in front of him.

Eventually, Dean pulled away, though Cas’ lips lingered on Dean’s as though they wanted to stay content there for forever. Cas felt Dean smile against his lips, he felt Dean’s thumb brush over Cas’ cheekbone.

“How was that?” Dean breathed out.

“You should take me out to dinner,” Cas simply managed, and Dean laughed, soft and sweet, nosing at the side of Cas’ face and pressing a stray kiss there.

“After all these years and you still manage to ensnare me. What a feat, huh?” Dean questioned as he pulled away, letting his hand fall from Cas’ face back to his side.

“Stranger things have happened,” Cas replied, smiling. Cas was pretty sure he wouldn’t stop smiling for at least a week.

“So, maybe we were wrong,” Dean offered, tilting his head and looking over at Cas. “We’re not star crossed lovers, we were just loving each other at the wrong time,” he supposed.

“Don’t jinx it. Life sucks and something could get in the way again,” Cas said, nudging Dean, shifting over so he was sitting a little closer to him.

“No, I think God is about to bestow mercy on us. We had enough pain and suffering in high school. Time to let the good times roll,” Dean said, leaning over and pressing another kiss to Cas’ cheek. Cas smiled.

“Whatever you say.”

Chapter Text

- Fifteen Years Later -

“Dean!” Cas called out, crouched over a half unpacked box in Dean and Cas’ new living room.

“What?” Dean called back from where Cas’ suspected was the dining room.

“Come here a second!” Cas said, smiling down at what was in his hands. Cas heard footsteps slowly coming from the other room before Dean was standing in the doorway.

“What?” Dean questioned, looking down at Cas. Cas looked up at him and bit his lip in attempts not to smile.

“Look what I found.”

Cas held out a book, and Dean came over, crouching down to take it from his hand. He took it, looked at it, and immediately looked over at Cas, highly unamused.

“You have to burn that thing,” Dean said simply, completely deadpan as he passed the book back over to Cas who laughed.

“Aw, come on, you don’t want to prop our high school yearbook up on the mantle?” Cas questioned teasingly. Dean rolled his eyes.

“Ha ha, very funny, Cas. Why did you even keep that thing?” Dean questioned, standing up and leaning against the doorframe.

“Nostalgia,” Cas sighed, flipping through the pages. Cas stood up and walked over to Dean. “Hey, look, you were actually good looking back in high school,” Cas teased, trying to hold back a grin and failing. Dean rolled his eyes again and reached around to give Cas’ ass a little slap that made him jump and then grin.

“Watch it, Cas,” Dean grumbled, though there was a little grin surfacing on his face as he turned to walk into the kitchen.

“God, how shitty were our high school years though?” Cas mused as the two of them wandered into the kitchen where a few boxes were that still hadn’t been unpacked in their recent move. Don’t get them wrong, living near the city had been great, but it had been starting to be more of a bitch than anything else having to deal with the traffic and busy streets and apartment buildings. The suburbs seemed to be much better suited to them at that time, even though Dean grumbled and made endless jokes about being that ideal suburban couple.

“Ugh, don’t remind me,” Dean groaned as he opened up the fridge and looked around inside of it. “You seriously need to throw that out,” Dean went on, grabbing some orange juice from the fridge.

“I’ll keep it but I’ll hide it from you, how about that?” Cas suggested, leaning his forearms on their island counter.

“Good enough,” Dean sighed, pouring himself a glass of orange juice.

“Oh, come on, Dean, don’t be so grumpy. High school was shitty but at least that’s when we got together.”

“And then fell apart,” Dean promptly pointed out. “If you’ll recall it was college where our flame was rekindled and set on course to where we are now,” Dean then added on. Cas sighed and glanced down at the golden wedding band on his ring finger, shaking his head.

“Can you imagine if we went back in time to like, seventh or eighth grade and told ourselves we would be married one day?” Cas questioned.

“I wouldn’t believe you. No way would a stud like you marry me,” Dean teased, grinning. Cas rolled his eyes but smiled fondly. “Oh, shut up, I know you love it,” Dean argued, taking a sip of orange juice.

“Alright, alright,” Cas sighed, raising his hands in mock surrender as a slow smile spread over his face. “Seriously though, it’s nice that we can look back on our high school years and-”

“Know that they’re over,” Dean interrupted, smirking. Cas looked like he was about to argue, but then he grinned.

“Yeah, you have a point,” he told Dean. Dean nodded and set down his glass.

“Of course I have a point,” Dean replied, walking over and around the counter, slipping his arms around Cas’ waist and leaning over to give him a quick kiss. “Now, tell me if we’re ever gonna unpack all these boxes.”

“Probably not,” Cas sighed, and Dean grinned, nuzzling into Cas’ neck. “You never finish moving, y’know.”

“I know. Remember when you moved into my apartment at the end of college?”

Cas rolled his eyes.

“That was a nightmare. That place was so fucking small,” Cas grumbled.

“But, at least it was ours. Our first shared thing, our first time living together,” Dean offered, pressing another kiss to Cas’ neck.

“You have a point,” Cas sighed.

“Of course I do. And that’s the second point I’ve had today,” Dean added on. Cas smiled. “Now what do you want for dinner and are we eating on paper plates again or what?”

“The dishwasher works.”

“And you suspect me to do the dishes?” Dean teased. Cas rolled his eyes.

“At one point or another, yes.”

Cas turned to face Dean, Dean’s arms still wrapped around Cas’ waist.

“But, for tonight we’ll keep up the paper plates deal,” Cas told Dean.

“Or takeout?” Dean suggested.

Cas shook his head.

“Way way too much takeout. We’ve only been here like a week, but in that one week we’ve had take out almost every night,” Cas explained as though Dean wasn’t aware.

“I’m not complaining,” Dean offered.

“Of course you’re not. You’re the one who thinks diner food is good food,” Cas supposed and Dean nudged him with his leg.

“You’re making far too many jabs at me tonight, Cas. You’re on thin ice,” Dean warned, though he was smiling whilst he said every word. Cas smiled back.

“I’ll keep a steady flow of compliments going the rest of the night then,” Cas said. Dean nodded.

“Sounds fair.”

“Now, why don’t you go and try to unpack a few more boxes in the dining room and I’ll do some in the living room. We’ll talk dinner in a bit,” Cas offered. Dean nodded and Cas smiled as Dean leaned down to give him another kiss before disappearing into the dining room. After he was gone, Cas glanced at the yearbook set on the island counter and smiled softly.

Him and Dean had a rollercoaster ride of history, so many ups and downs in their life that sometimes it was hard to keep track. Somehow, a part of it, at least a slice, was stuck in that stupid yearbook that Cas had to admit he kind of hated too. High school had sucked for him, it had been some of the worst years of his life. But, in Cas’ mind, it had also been some of the most important.

Cas smiled once more before leaving the kitchen, letting the yearbook stay on the counter. Sure, Dean would complain more about it, and, yes, Cas would eventually put it away, but Cas didn’t really mind. Not one bit.

The End