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suddenly, all at once

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Dean falls in love on a Thursday.

Well, no. If Dean's being honest with himself -- and really, he pretty much avoids that as much as possible -- he'd have to admit it happened years ago, probably somewhere between the voice says I'm nearly out of minutes and this is it. Dean just hasn't wanted to think about it, so he hasn't been thinking about it. Ignoring shit he doesn't want to deal with is easily his third-best skill, right after killing monsters and pissing off Sam.

But then this Thursday rolls around and completely ruins everything.

Dean is sitting in his favorite chair, eating his breakfast and frowning at Monday's Omaha World-Herald, trying to decide if the unexplained deaths in Plattsmouth are regular unexplained or unexplained unexplained, when Cas wanders into the library like a zombie, yawning and rubbing his eyes. He's wearing an old Zep shirt and a pair of hideously orange and blue pajama pants; he blinks at Dean for a few seconds, silent, then helps himself to half of Dean's coffee and a triangle of Dean's toast, and it hits Dean all at once, like a lightning bolt out of a clear sky.

"Morning," Cas grumbles, spilling toast crumbs absolutely everywhere, down the front of his shirt and all over the table. He's only been human again for a couple of months, but he's already picked up some annoyingly human quirks. He leaves his dirty socks on the couch, he won't comb his hair at gunpoint, his table manners are nearly as bad as Dean's, and he sleeps like he's getting paid for it. He's also the furthest thing from a morning person to have ever walked the earth; it takes a legitimate miracle to get him out of bed before nine, and he's totally useless without at least four cups of coffee.

Dean loves him so much he thinks he might puke.

Cas just stands there, still not entirely conscious, hovering too close to Dean's shoulder and chewing Dean's toast. His shirt is way too small, and his pajama pants are crooked, slouching low at one hip. Dean stares at the strip of tattoo framed between the two and tries not to think about touching it, holding his hand there, tracing the dark lines with his fingers.

"Is that a job?" Cas asks.


Cas points at the newspaper. He has grape jelly at the corner of his mouth. "That article -- three bloodless bodies found in church basement. Is that a job?"

"No," Dean says, mostly to his eggs, which he no longer wants to eat. "It's -- nothing. It's nothing."




Dean is an adult, so he handles the situation in a completely adult fashion: he hides in his room like a total baby and hopes it will just go away.

Which works pretty well for the first five hours. After that, he starts to go a little nuts, bored out of his skull and jittery with a weird, low-grade cabin fever. He gets tired of staring at the walls, and he gets hungry for a better lunch than Pop Tarts and beer. The problem is, every time he convinces himself to put on his big boy pants and rejoin the world, he hears something that stops him dead in his tracks -- footsteps down the hall, the creak of a door, the deep rumble of Cas' laugh.

Dean figures he's in the library with Sam; Sam enjoys research, even when they don't have a specific case, and Cas fell back to earth with his angelic knowledge and memories, all seven thousand billion years of it. They're probably in the middle of some ridiculous nerd festival, looking at dusty books written in an ancient language, or talking about a creature Dean hasn't even heard of and wouldn't care about anyway, except that knowing his luck, he'll end up having to gank one eventually.

Fucking dorks.

He paces his room a little, calling himself nine kinds of idiot as he shuffles around the narrow space between the foot of his bed and the door. Two stubbed toes later he works up the nerve, mostly through some embarrassing self-bribery about the kitchen having actual food in it, but then he hears Cas laugh again, and he flops down on his bed in resignation. For the record, Cas has a stupid laugh. It's all gravel and rock salt, and his eyes crinkle at the corners when he smiles, and his mouth -- no. Dean isn't going to think about that, because that will just lead to Dean beating off in the middle of the afternoon like a furtive, awkward teenager.

Dean doesn't think about Cas' mouth, or the slow curve of Cas' spine, or the way his ass looks in the tiny shorts he wears when he washes the hooptie on Saturdays, how his shirt always rides up when he stretches over the trunk or the hood, flashing bits and pieces of that fucking tattoo, and when he finally gives in and wraps his hand around his dick, Dean doesn't think about the way Cas would look in his bed, naked and coming, or the way Cas would sound choking out his name.




He makes his escape about an hour later, creeping down the hallway like he's sneaking away from a crime scene. Which is a whole new level of avoidance, even for someone who has spent most of his life burying his feelings under a combination of denial and Maker's Mark, but Dean doesn't know what else to do. He feels vaguely guilty -- even though he hasn't really done anything, except realize he's in love with his best friend, and maybe jack off while thinking about him, and there's an event his mind is already working double-time to scab over -- but he also feels a little trapped. He can't think straight; it's like everything about Cas is suddenly deep-frying his brain.

The kitchen is dark and quiet and -- thankfully -- empty. He only turns on as many lights as he needs to work, but it figures he hadn't made a clean get-away; just as he's setting a pot of water to boil, the loose tile in the doorway squeaks and Sam clears his throat.

"Dean," he says, and fuck, that's his Grown-Up Conversation Face. Dean's first instinct is to look for the nearest exit, but the kitchen only has one door that doesn't lead to a pantry and Sam is blocking it with his gigantic shoulders. To add insult to injury, he's wearing his yellow and blue flannel, the one Dean wants to give a hunter's funeral.

"Your geek convention over already?"

"Yeah. Cas wanted a shower."

Wow. That mental picture isn't helping at all.

"Dean, are you all right?"

That's a trick question, Dean's pretty sure. He opens his mouth around the usual bullshit -- yeah, great, never better -- but Sam seems genuinely concerned, and a part of Dean is still kind of empty and raw from the months when Sam barely even looked at him. He'd never expected Sam to forgive him, not after Gadreel and Kevin, or the five weeks Dean spent as a demon. He probably shouldn't break that mended fence by punching it with a bald-face lie.

"I, um." Dean snatches a box of pasta off the counter, fumbling it open with a sigh. He doesn't really feel like cooking right now, but he's starving, and someone -- probably Cas -- ate all the fucking Hot Pockets again. "I don't want to talk about it."


"Look, it isn't a big deal."

"Dude," Sam says. He folds his arms and cocks his hip against the door frame, which -- great. He's settling in for the kill. "You've been hiding in your room all day."

"Did you eat yet? I wanna know if I should make meatballs."

"Is it Cas?"

Anxiety coils in Dean's gut like a snake. "What?" The plumbing rattles behind the wall, reminding Dean that Cas is in the shower, but he isn't going to think about that. Nope. No way. "No."

"Hey, if you don't want to talk about it, that's fine." Sam pushes a handful of hair out of his face, then shifts in the doorway, lowering his voice as he adds, "I just -- it's got to be weird for you, having him around all the time."

Dean knows he shouldn't be surprised; Sam has always been the brains of the outfit. "It's -- I'll figure it out."

"Why don't you just talk to him?"

"About what?" Dean snaps, glancing at the door. Cas is human now, so he can't eavesdrop from fourteen rooms away, but knowing Dean's luck, he'll discover a secret passage from the showers to the kitchen via the meat locker just in time to catch this horrorshow of a conversation.

"About you. Like, the-two-of-you you."

Dean swallows around the knot in his throat, wiping his dry hands on a dishtowel so Sam won't see them shake. "Why the hell would I do that?"

"Well," Sam says slowly, and really, burning that shirt would only be a mercy killing. "I don't think this is a one-man show."

Which -- yeah. Hearing that out loud only makes things worse. In a perfect world, Dean might be willing to try, but Dean currently lives in reality, and in reality trying would only lead to disaster, the kind of disaster where Cas moves out of the bunker and never speaks to Dean again and possibly petitions for weekend visitations with Sam. It's not like either of them are anything close to normal. Lisa alone is solid gold proof that Dean's main function in a relationship is to be a complete disappointment, and Cas -- Jesus fucking Christ. Cas used to be an angel. He probably still would be, if Dean hadn't -- if Dean just hadn't.

"Drop it, Sammy. I'll figure it out."




Dinner is spaghetti -- slightly overcooked, because Dean had let it boil too long, distracted with thoughts of falling asleep next to Cas at night, or waking up next to Cas in the morning, and without meatballs, because the only ground beef Dean could find had been frozen. Cas doesn't seem to notice or care; he's making food porn noises around every other bite, a soft hum in the back of his throat, and if he doesn't knock that shit off, Dean will have to excuse himself. Which is completely ridiculous. He isn't fifteen anymore.

"Hey, Dean," Sam says suddenly, and Dean already doesn't like his tone. It's way too reasonable. "I need the car keys."


"I need to take care of something in town."

Totally reasonable. Except, there is no town. Not at this hour. Lebanon's population tops out at two-fifty, if the count includes house pets and potted plants, and everything that qualifies as a business closes at sundown. If Sam is looking for civilization, he'll have to drive out to Smith City, or over the Nebraska line into Hastings. Either will leave Dean alone with Cas longer than is good for his current state of mind.

"But," he says, pointing at the TV with his fork. Sam had lured him out of the kitchen with a Game of Thrones marathon; Jody's vampire situation had interrupted them in the middle of season two. "You said you wanted to watch this."

Sam just looks at him, his mouth twitching like he's holding back a bitchface, and Dean quickly realizes that his only option is retreat. He has no reason to say no, and if Sam keeps pushing it, Cas will just lend him the hooptie. Sighing, he sets his plate aside and digs the keys out of his pocket.

"Thanks," Sam says, catching them in mid-air. His mouth twitches again, and -- fuck. He's trying not to smile. The gigantic dork probably thinks he's doing Dean a favor.

Betrayed, Dean turns back to the TV before Sam is even out the door, finishing his spaghetti as he watches Ned's bastard meet the wildling king. Cas doesn't move over, even though Sam leaving frees up the other side of the couch; he's sitting on the middle cushion, just close enough that Dean can't ignore the proximity. His knee bumps against Dean's when he sets his plate on the coffee table, and again when he reaches for the remote to turn down the volume.

"Are you feeling better?"


Cas smiles at him, his mouth soft. "You stayed in your room most of the day. Sam believed you were unwell."

"I'm all right. I'm just -- you know. Tired," Dean says, which isn't exactly a lie. He's exhausted in a way he can feel in his bones; a full day of self-pity and deep cover denial is an incredible amount of work.

"We can do this later," Cas offers, waving the remote.

"Nah. We've only got two more episodes, and the next one is supposed to be good. I'm hoping Stannis is going to kick Joffrey's ass."




Dean wakes up to a dark room and an awkward boner and the horrifying realization that he fell asleep in Cas' lap. The last thing he remembers is Stannis' fleet getting destroyed outside the castle, all those ships exploding into bright green flames; he must have conked out at some point after that, then slouched down and rolled over. His head is pillowed on Cas' thigh, his face tucked in the crease of Cas' hip, and Cas is at least partially awake, because one of his hands is carefully sifting through Dean's hair.

His other hand is at Dean's waist, curled loosely in the hem of Dean's shirt, and Dean closes his eyes. He needs to get out of there. Cas will knock out eventually, and he pretty much sleeps like the dead; he won't notice if Dean slips away then. Maybe if Dean stays still and keeps his breathing even, Cas won't -- no. Dean should get out of there, but he doesn't really want to. Cas is wearing those hideous pajama pants; the material is thin enough that Dean can feel the heat of Cas' thigh against his cheek, and it would be so easy to just tip his chin up, to nose at Cas' dick until it's hard, kiss up and down its length, find out what Cas sounds like when he comes.

Cas' fingers thread through his hair again, soft, his thumb stroking Dean's forehead, and Dean has to bite his lip to stop himself from leaning into it. The TV is off; Dean wonders what time it is, how long Cas has been sitting here in the dark, letting Dean snore against his leg, if this is some weird habit held over from his angel days, back when he would watch Dean sleep, and -- Christ. Maybe Sam was right. Maybe this isn't a one-man show.

Dean turns his head a little, and -- oh. Oh. Cas is already hard, and he makes a startled, breathless sound when Dean's lips brush against his dick.


"Don't say anything," Dean whispers, because talking about it will just ruin it. Right now everything is quiet and dark, just the two of them; maybe they can have this tonight, just this once, get it out of their systems without building it into something that will only go down in flames.

Cas shifts restlessly, his fingers twisting in Dean's hair, tugging slightly, his dick nudging against Dean's cheek, and Dean leans into him, pressing an easy kiss to the base, then working his way up to the head. He takes his time, mouthing at Cas' dick through his pajamas until the material is wet with precome and spit, then pulling on the string, tugging them down enough to get his tongue on Cas' skin. The angle is awkward, and he can't get Cas deep enough, can't quite bob his head the way he wants; he thinks about sliding down and kneeling between Cas' legs, but Cas stops him before he can move, his fingers hooking in the pocket of Dean's jeans. He runs his hand over Dean's hip, then curves it over Dean's dick, stroking him slow, and Dean moans, the noise catching in Dean's throat as Cas' slips out of his mouth and pushes back in.

"Dean," Cas says, quietly, his voice a low rumble. He starts rolling his hips, just enough to make a delicious ache spread through Dean's jaw, and he slides the hand in Dean's hair down so he can stroke Dean's face, tracing the shape of himself through Dean's cheek, pressing his thumb at the corner of Dean's mouth, where Dean's lips are tight and slick around him. He works his other hand inside Dean's jeans, wrapping it around Dean's dick, huge and rough and perfect, and fuck -- fuck. It feels so good, and it's Cas; Dean moans again as he eases off to tongue the head of Cas' dick, as he drags a wet kiss down the length of it, as he pulls back up and takes Cas back in.

Cas tugs on Dean's hair before he comes, murmuring Dean's name in a way that's desperate and urgent at once, but Dean just sucks him harder, takes him in deeper. This is the only time they're going to do this, and Dean wants every single bit of it. He swallows and coughs and swallows again, is still pressing kisses to Cas' dick when he finally comes himself.




Cas is a terrible human. Not serial killer terrible, or even kicks puppies terrible, just terrible terrible. He hogs the hot water, and he leaves the remote in dumb places, and he never dumps out the coffee pot, and he puts the orange juice container back in the fridge when it's practically empty.

He's also pretty oblivious to potentially awkward social situations, which is why -- after Dean spent the whole morning hiding in his room -- he knocks on Dean's door, then lets himself in as far as the doorway and asks, "Why are you avoiding me?" in a tone that suggests Dean is the worst person in the world.

Which -- yeah. That's probably true. But that doesn't mean Dean wants to discuss it. "I'm not."

"Yes, you are," Cas insists. His eyes are incredibly blue. "Is this about last night, because I --"

"Damn it, Cas. No." Dean sits on the foot of his bed, rubbing his hand over his face. "We're not talking about that."

"Why not?"

"Because. We're -- it shouldn't have happened."

"I don't understand." Cas comes inside Dean room, closing the door behind him. They keep forgetting to take him shopping for clothes; he's wearing a pair of Dean's jeans and one of Dean's old flannels, and looking at him is making Dean's chest ache. "Did you not want to? Did you not enjoy it?"

"No, I -- no. That's not the problem. We just can't. I can't."

Cas stands there for a moment, silent, then kneels between Dean's legs, resting his hands on Dean's thighs -- too close, too close -- and Dean never should've touched him in the first place, because now it's the only thing he can think about. He wants to stroke his fingers through Cas' hair, kiss the hollow of Cas' throat. He slides his hand over Cas' jaw before he realizes what he's doing, and Cas catches his wrist, keeps him from pulling away.

"I wish I could still see your soul." Cas turns his head a little, brushing his lips against Dean's thumb. "It helped me understand you when you said things that didn't make sense."

Dean closes his eyes. Guilt burns through every part of him, horrible and hot. "I'm sorry."


"It's my fault," Dean says quietly. "If I hadn't -- you wasted your grace trying to fix me."

Cas kisses him, slow and sweet and easy. He wraps his arm around Dean's waist and lets go of Dean's wrist to curl his hand into Dean's hair, and Dean doesn't know what to do. A phantom itch under his skin is telling him to pack a bag and put a thousand miles between himself and Cas before he finds a way to ruin everything, but Cas just kisses him again. And again. And again.

"That grace was never mine," Cas says eventually. He makes it sound like nothing, like he misplaced his car keys or lost a sock in the dryer. "There are days when I do regret losing it, but not the way you think. I regret that I can no longer see your soul. I regret that I can no longer heal you, or your brother. That I can no longer protect you. Only that."

Dean shakes his head, has to clear his throat before the words will come out. "You don't mean that."

"I thought about this, sometimes. Before we went to purgatory. We stayed at a cabin for a few weeks while you worked on the spell to defeat the leviathan, and I wondered what it would be like, if the three of us lived together, and traveled together. Hunted together. If you and I --"

"Okay, okay." Dean pulls Cas closer, fisting his hand in the back of Cas' shirt and hiding his face in the curve of Cas' neck. He's still not convinced he deserves this, or that it won't end with them trying to split the bunker in half like War of the Roses, but this isn't a one-man show. Cas thought about this before he even lost his grace, and that makes Dean want to try. "Okay."

He thinks he loves Cas more today than he did yesterday, which -- wow. That's totally terrifying. But it's kind of wonderful, too.