Dean winced as he opened his eyes. He had been up to the wee hours of the morning shooting the season finale of his show Otherworldly. He then went out drinking with the cast and crew and consumed far too much alcohol. He blinked trying to focus at the time displayed on his clock. He moaned when he realized it was ten a.m. He was supposed to be on a flight from Vancouver, Canada, to his home in Texas at one o'clock. "The hell with that." He rolled over, pulled the pillow over his head, and went back to sleep.
A few hours later, his cellphone rang. He picked it up and looked at it. It was Sam Wesson, his co-star on the show. He answered the phone and said, "Yeah, Sam?"
"Dude, where are you? I just touched down in Austin, and Brock said you never arrived."
"Sam, did you see how much we drank last night? How are you even upright, much less in Austin?" Dean felt guilty as he realized he never called his bodyguard and driver Brock to tell him not to pick him up.
"I left the party at two. How long after me were you there, Dean?" Dean could imagine the bitch face on Sam right now from the tone of his voice.
"Four, I think. It's all really kind of a blur." Dean remembered taking repeated shots of tequila with a girl named Mandy, but not much after that. He wondered how he got home.
Sam sounded annoyed, "We are supposed to go to up to Ellen's for a few days. You going to fly in later today?"
Dean sighed. He loved his co-star, he loved his job, but he was tired of being around people. He knew that Ellen's would be packed. A lot of them would be his friends, but some of them would be strangers that he'd have to entertain. He'd have to put on his charming façade instead of just being himself. "You know what, Sam. Give Ellen my apologies, but I'm just going to take a few days off and just chill."
Sam now sounded concerned, "You okay, Dean? I mean, really okay?"
"Yeah, Sam. I'm just tired. You have fun. Tell Brock that I'm friggin' sorry." After hanging up with Sam, Dean stretched and wandered into the bathroom. He took a shower and got dressed. He stared at himself in the mirror. He still looked tired. He was tired. He had been playing his character for nearly a decade. He enjoyed his life, but except for the few months hiatus they had every summer, he worked long hours that didn't leave him with much of a social life. It was especially difficult because he was trying to keep it on the down-low that he was gay. He wasn't ashamed of it, but he didn't want the tabloids to go wild with the rumors, especially because of his close friendship with Sam. Sam was dating a lovely girl in Texas, but fans liked to speculate that there was something going on between him and his costar.
His stomach growled. He had to run to the grocery store before he could eat anything, because he had emptied out his apartment to prepare it for his summer hiatus. Dean picked up his wallet. He frowned when couldn't find his car keys. He searched his bedroom with a growing feeling of dread. He decided it was possible he left them in the car. He couldn't remember how he got home from the party. When he walked to the front door, he saw his keys taped to his front door with a note. "Sorry, Dean. I had to take your car keys away from you. I didn't want you to drive drunk. Your car is still at the lot. Cas."
Dean squinted his eyes. Cas, who? He mentally ran down everyone he knew at the party, not remembering anyone named Cas. He suddenly thought of the handsome guest star on the superhero show, Crossbow, that filmed in the adjacent lot. Castiel Novak. If he remembered correctly, one of the people called him Cas. He had been immediately drawn to Castiel's impossibly blue eyes and uncontrollable hair when they had been introduced as he and Oliver, the lead of Crossbow, were taking a break together in the studio coffee shop the previous week. He had heard rumors that Castiel might be a recurring character on Crossbow the next year and would be introduced in the finale.
Dean rocked on his heels and bit his bottom lip as he considered whether to contact Castiel to thank him. He didn't have his phone number, but possibly Oliver did. Dean called Oliver.
Oliver answered, "Hey Dean, what's up?"
"Do you have that guy Castiel's phone number. He did me a solid, and I want to call and tell him thank you."
Oliver laughed. "He's the one that offered to drive you home last night. Man, you were so drunk. I don't know how someone could drink so many shots and still stand. Cas is actually the one who made sure you got cut off on drinks."
Dean felt a blush rising on his cheeks. He hated to make a fool out of himself, and apparently, he had the previous night in a big way. "Hey, I'm sorry if I said anything…"
"Dean, it's fine. I'll text you his number." Dean thanked him and hung up the phone.
Dean hesitated before dialing the number. He had no clue what he might have said to Castiel. He pushed dial before he could second guess himself again.
He could hear the gravelly voice answer, "Hello."
"This is Dean, Dean Winchester. I called to thank you for making sure I got home last night. I usually don't drink that much, man." Dean grimaced, feeling stupid.
"Hello, Dean. I was glad to be of service. Are you feeling well today?" Castiel sounded concerned.
"Um, yeah. Well, no. I had a massive hangover and missed my flight home. Mistakes were made, Cas, mistakes were made." Dean felt oddly nervous. He was usually very self-confident and charming. Dean stumbled over his words, "Would you like to meet for coffee, Cas? I'd like to thank you in person."
There was quiet on the other end of the phone for several seconds. "How much of last night do you remember?"
Dean dreaded what he might have done. "Nothing, Cas. It's sort of a blur to me."
"Let's meet at Benny's Coffee House on 8th. Is now good?"
"Umm, yeah." After hanging up, Dean contacted Uber to get a lift to the diner. He didn't know how this was going to turn out.
Dean walked in and saw Castiel already sitting in a corner booth. He was dressed in a grey turtle neck and had tight blue jeans. He was messing with his cell phone. His dark hair was still tousled and out of control. A cup of coffee and two pieces of pie were on the table he was sitting at. Dean placed his coffee order and walked over to Castiel, sliding into the seat of the booth across from him.
Castiel smiled at him warmly, "Hello, Dean. I would have ordered your coffee for you, but I didn't know how you take it."
Dean licked his lips nervously, as Castiel stared at his mouth. "Cas, I apologize for anything I might have done last night. I haven't been shitfaced drunk like that since I was like 22."
"Relax, Dean. It wasn't that bad. You mostly were just loud and happy. You kept asking me if I wanted to go to a country bar with you to ride a bull. You also asked me if I had cowboy boots and a hat." Castiel laughed. "It was kind of adorable."
Dean felt the heat rising to his face. "I umm…." He felt relieved when the barista called his name. He stood up and grabbed his coffee and then went back to the table.
Castiel was pushing a piece of pie to his side of the table, when he returned. "Hope you like pie, Dean. Cherry seemed the best option, but they have apple and peach if you prefer one of those."
"Dude, I love pie and cherry is the best." Dean smiled, still feeling butterflies deep in his stomach. Dean cut off a piece of the pie with his fork and put it in his mouth. He looked across the table at Castiel and their eyes met. Time seemed to stand still as they stared at one another intently. Castiel cleared his throat and looked away first.
"So, Cas. Tell me about yourself. You going back to the States during the hiatus? Are you really going to be on the show with Oliver next year?"
Castiel laughed. "I'm Canadian, Dean. I only visit the States occasionally. I lived in Vancouver my entire life, including college. As for next year, umm… I'm probably only going to appear in the first episode. But, I'm really close to signing something else. "
"Anything I know?"
Castiel shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "I'm really not at liberty to talk about it yet, Dean. When I sign the dotted line, I'll be sure to let you know. Weren't you supposed to go home today?"
Dean looked out the window. "I think I just need a little me time, Cas. I've been burning the candles on both ends for a while. At home, I got a lot of friends, who I love. Don't get me wrong. But, they'll want to make up for lost time. Plus, Sam has his new girlfriend, Eileen. And… I sound ungrateful, don't I?"
"Not at all, Dean. I go on meditation retreats periodically. I think taking the time to do something for yourself is necessary to keep balanced. Especially, in this business, when you are bombarded with constant rejection. Well, I am at least. You've been steadily working for years."
"Twenty of them. Since I was seventeen and cast on that sci-fi show."
Castiel smiled, "I was a fan of that show. Had a poster…" Castiel stopped. He looked embarrassed as he looked out the window.
Dean laughed, for the first time feeling at ease. "A poster, huh?"
Castiel shook his head and laughed softly. "Yes, I was a fan boy. But to be fair, I had almost forgotten about that show until I met you last week on the set of Crossbow."
"You did a couple of sci-fi movies, right?"
"Yes, low-budget ones on the science fiction channel. But they were so cheesy, they were fun to film. It's also not as stressful if you know from the onset that people will think the movie is ridiculous. If they expect crappy acting, and you do a half decent job, you look good in comparison."
Dean nodded, "There's a certain logic in that. What do you do when you aren't acting?"
Castiel grinned, "You mean besides my appearances in low-budget and indie films or as a one-time guest star on several crime and medical shows? I play victim number 3 and thug number 2 very convincingly I'll have you know. I'm also perfect when playing a Russian assassin."
"Dude, I'm not trying to insult you." Dean stuttered.
"It's fine, Dean. I'm fine. I paint, and I've written a couple of novels. I get by. I like being creative. I'm working on a screenplay. I've just learned to handle rejections in auditions very well." Castiel smiled.
"Maybe your appearance on Crossbow will be a breakthrough."
Castiel looked slightly uncomfortable again. "Yeah, that would be good. Dean, I have an appointment. If you haven't picked up your car yet, do you need a lift?"
"Yeah, that would be great."
They walked out to Castiel's Minicooper. Dean looked at the car doubtfully. "How does all six feet of you fit into that tiny car?"
Castiel laughed, "You complained about its size last night too. And I told you it's not the size, but what you do with it."
Dean paused as some images flashed through his mind. He vaguely remembered leaning on Castiel as he walked him out to the Minicooper the previous night. Dean struggled to remember as he climbed into the passenger seat. He looked across at Castiel. Another memory was beginning to surface in the back of his mind, but he couldn't quite reach it.
Castiel started the car and headed to the lot. They were quiet as Dean struggled to remember more of the previous night, and Castiel's mind seemed to be on something else. Castiel parked next to Dean's classic '67 Impala and turned the car off.
Dean looked at him, not sure what to say. He didn't want the day to end. "Cas. I really enjoyed myself. Would you like to go grab dinner tomorrow?"
"What about Texas?"
"I think I'm sticking around here for a while."
Castiel worried his bottom lip, as he seemed to be considering the question. "Dean, would this be a date or just friends getting together for a meal?"
"What? We're dudes, bro."
Castiel gave a small, bitter laugh, "Well that answers that."
"Did I give you the impression I was gay?" Dean asked slowly.
"Not today, but last night you did. You lamented the fact that you thought you needed to hide your sexuality from the fans and the press," Castiel smiled sadly. "I'm out, Dean. I'm bi. Never bothered to hide it. If you hang out with me in public, people would assume it was more than friendship."
Dean looked into Castiel's eyes, and they stared intently at each other for a few minutes. Dean finally said, "Cas, you want to go out on a date with me and grab dinner tomorrow?"
"I would like that very much," Castiel smiled shyly.
"Thank you." Dean leaned over the gear shift to kiss Castiel on the cheek, when the memories that were surfacing in the back of his brain exploded full force. "Oh, my God. We made out, and I gave you a hickey last night."
Castiel laughed, "I'm glad I was not as forgettable as I was afraid I was." He tugged down the turtle neck, so Dean could the large purple bruise on his neck. "That's why I have to wear the terrible sweater in 80-degree weather. I have a meeting with some studio people in a half hour, and I didn't want to look like a randy teenager."
"Oh my, God. I also propositioned you."
Castiel grinned, "You told me you wanted me to ride you like a bull at a rodeo." He broke out laughing. "I decided in the state of inebriation you were at, it would be unethical and immoral to take you up on that offer. Besides, I don't give out on the first non-date."
Dean buried his face in his hands. "Never tell Sam. He'll never let me live this down."
Castiel laughed as he got out of the car. "Text me where and when you want to have dinner tomorrow." Castiel headed towards the studio building, while Dean got into the Impala with a large smile plastered on his face.
The following evening, Dean picked Castiel up from his small house and drove him to a steak house. After they got their food, Castiel seemed slightly quiet and withdrawn as he picked at his food. He didn't exhibit any of the good humor and mirth he had the day before.
Dean finally sighed and said, "Cas, if you are having second thoughts about dating me. It's ok. We can be friends."
Castiel looked up at the ceiling for a moment and then met Dean's eyes. "It's not that, Dean. I want to date you, but I have to tell you something. I was trying to avoid it until after dinner, but evidently for being an actor, I suck at acting."
Dean's brow furrowed. "You shouldn't have to act with me."
"The show runner will probably tell this to you in a day or two, so please act surprised. I'm not really supposed to share this yet."
Dean looked confused. "What is it, Cas?"
"I was originally signed to do a four-episode arc on Crossbow. But, one of Otherworldly's showrunners saw me working with Oliver, and he…," Castiel paused, looking nervous. "He asked the studio if they could sign me on as a season regular on Otherworldly instead. So, they are reworking the story for Crossbow, so I don't stick around after the first episode. You get me instead. We're going to work together, so I didn't know if that…"
Dean still looked confused, "But, the only regular they were talking about for next year is supposed to be an on-again, off-again love interest and frenemy for my character. Some sort of angelic something."
"The angel would be me," Castiel smiled wryly. "Apparently, since your character flirts with everything that moves, and angels don't have genders, they thought it would be interesting to pair you with me."
Dean's jaw dropped open. "Wow, just wow."
"I understand if you don't want to continue dating. It's not always prudent to date one's coworker."
"Well, I…" Dean frowned. "I don't want to not try. There's something special about you, Cas. Something different. I want to explore that."
Castiel looked off in the distance. Without looking at Dean, he said, "I very much would like to as well. I have 48 hours to sign the contract. If you don't want me to, I won't…"
"Oh, hell no on that, Cas. This is your chance. I don’t want to screw that up for you," Dean sighed. "If you aren't comfortable dating a coworker, we'll just stick to being friends."
"The thought of having a relationship with you and being a coworker doesn't concern me, Dean. But, you are so guarded about your private life. This would open that can of worms for the world to see. What would Sam think?"
"Oh, Sam knows I'm gay. He'd be happy if I had a boyfriend. He's tried to hook me up several times, but he has excellent taste in women and horrible taste in men." Dean laughed.
Castiel nodded, "I propose then, Dean, that we take it slow over the summer and decide before we start shooting, whether or not to remain dating. Maybe, we'll decide to be friends."
"Deal. Now, let's order pie," Dean smiled happily.
Dean never returned to Austin that summer. He stayed in Vancouver and spent time with Castiel. Castiel showed him all his favorite spots in British Columbia. They grew closer and decided by the end of the summer that they wanted to continue their relationship. Dean spent far more time at Castiel's house than he did at his own apartment. Both were nervous when shooting was to set to start in July. Sam returned from Austin with his own good news. He and Eileen planned to get married over the next Christmas holidays.
On the first day of shooting, Sam watched in the wings, while Castiel made his character's dramatic entrance when Dean's character summoned him to a barn. Sam watched as sparks flew from the ceiling and Castiel prowled across the barn floor to stand face to face with Dean, mere inches separated them. Castiel claimed the scene and made it his. Dean upped his game in response to Castiel's electric performance and delivered a stellar response. The sexual tension between the two characters palpable. Sam's jaw dropped, "Oh, my God."
The show's creator grinned at Sam. "See, Sam. That's what I thought. I saw him over on that other set and felt putting him with Dean would be lightning in a bottle. Our ratings are going to skyrocket."
Sam just watched them mesmerized. He was firmly into women, but he could feel his blood pressure rise with the sexual tension on the set. "Lightning in a bottle," Sam murmured.
Five years later on Valentine's Day, Castiel and Sam were standing on a stage in Honolulu at an Otherworldly fan convention. Castiel was complaining about some prank that Sam had played on him, while Sam giggled into his beanie. They looked at each other fondly. The costars had grown very close over the last five years. Along with Sam's wife Eileen, they grew into their own family. Castiel and Dean still lived in Canada but spent many extended holidays in Texas with Sam and Eileen. Sam and Eileen had a son and a daughter that called them Uncle Cas and Uncle Dean.
The fans accepted Castiel's and Dean's characters' relationship. They were thrilled when they realized it was paralleled in the real world. Much fan fiction was written for both the actors and the characters.
On the stage, Castiel kept trying to ask audience members questions, but Sam kept interrupting him. Castiel finally walked over and pulled Sam's beanie down over his face. The audience laughed. The house lights suddenly went red, as the house band walked onto the stage. Castiel looked around confused. He and Sam were supposed to continue taking questions for another ten minutes and then Sam was going to switch out with Dean.
A voice from the question line said, "Castiel, this question is for you."
Castiel instantly recognized the voice as Dean's. He looked at Sam bewildered. Sam had a wide smile, as the band began to play the music for a Beyoncé song.
Dean started singing with the music as he approached the stage:
Remember those walls I built?
Well, baby they're tumbling down
And they didn't even put up a fight
They didn't even make a sound
I found a way to let you in
But, I never really had a doubt
Standing in the light of your halo
I got my angel now
When he reached Castiel, he knelt at his feet. He slowly pulled a ring from his coat pocket and asked, "Will you marry me?"
Castiel's hand flew over his mouth, as the roar of the audience drowned out the band. Castiel waited until the audience had quieted down and answered quietly, "Yes."
Sam fist pumped into the air and started high fiving the band members, while Dean and Castiel engaged in a long, drawn-out kiss.
When they finally broke apart, the crowd gave them a standing ovation. Sam looked between Dean and Castiel. He asked, "Can I tell them, guys?" Sam was bursting at the seams with excitement. After Dean nodded, Sam looked at the fans. "Eileen is pregnant again! But it's not ours! It's theirs. She's acting as their surrogate. And it's a boy."
Castiel smiled at Sam, "His name is going to Jack."
And the crowd went wild.