It was just another hunt, a ghost that was tied to a 19th century wristwatch, nothing special about it. Castiel had come along, only being allowed to after proving to Dean that even though he didn't have all of his mojo he was still useful and wouldn't need babysat. Sam had gone to the grave of the man who owned the wristwatch to see if anything else was stolen. That left Castiel and Dean to take care of the salting and burning of the watch. It was just another hunt.
Until something happened with Dean. Nothing fatal, not even something that put either of them in danger. It was just a realization. An epiphany. A moment of truth.
Dean was in love with Castiel.
Dean wasn't sure when he realized it, but it was somewhere in between when he and Castiel left the bunker and just talked in the Impala and when they were walking in the moonlight to the abandoned house where the watch was. It was something about the monotony of what they were doing and the simple joy that Castiel brought to it that made Dean smile whenever he looked at him.
Dean had known there was something special about Castiel when he saved him from the apocalypse world and brought him beneath that streetlight. When he said, "Don't ever change," he knew that there was something about his friend that he needed. He hadn't figured out what it was until tonight. He needed Castiel. He needed to be able to tell Castiel how much he needed him. But that something that he didn't do. No chickflick moments, Dean had always said. How much he wished he could say, "I love you," but knowing him it would come out as, "We're family," or "You're like a brother to me". But he felt two very different feelings when looking at Sam and at Castiel.
Dean was quickly thrust out of his thoughts when he heard Castiel talking.
"Dean?" Castiel looked back at him.
"Yeah Cas, what is it?"
"What do you mean? We're still the only ones here, and there haven't been any cold spots yet."
"No, not with the hunt. I just felt a surge of longing."
"A surge of what?" Crap. Was that him? Could Cas have possibly picked up on his realization? Sure he could've, he's a freaking angel of the lord.
"Longing. If can sense if a human feels an emotion strongly for me."
"Can you tell who?" Dean's voice cracked.
"No," Oh thank God, "but I can find their location."Crap.
"Well that can wait until we finish the hunt, now c'mon we have a watch that needs destroyed."
The ghost of Sir Edmund Franklin showed up only once. He got in a few good hits on Dean face and chest, but Cas was able to salt and burn the watch before Dean had to endure anymore. After the ghost turned to into a pile of black ash Dean retrieved his iron crowbar and headed out of the house. He remembered that he had said they would figure out where the person who was longing for Castiel was after getting rid of the ghost, and he knew Cas remembered. He waited in the Impala and tried to figure out what he'd say if the longing came from his general area.
Cas finally got out of the house and got in the passenger seat. "I got another wave of longing while we were in the house."
"And the location was inside the house at the time, but there was no one else inside."
"Alright so maybe without all your angel mojo you're feeling something else." Dean reversed out of the driveway and got onto the freeway.
"No, Dean, that's not it. I just don't understand, the only other person in the house with me at the time was you."
Dean gulped and turned his focus away from Cas and onto the road. Very quietly he spat out, "It was me."
"I'm sorry? I didn't quite hear you." Cas said.
Dean breathed in, "It was me."
Cas tilted his head in that special way that only he does, and the moon lit up his whole face. "It was you?"
"Yes Cas, it was me. And I know that's probably the last thing you want to hear, but I..." Dean took a deep breath and decided to wait on a response before going on.
"Why would that be the last thing I want to hear?"
"Because it's me, and that just creates so many more problems."
"The problem that I'm in love with you!" Dean yelled. He pulled over onto the side of the road. He sighed and wearily looked over at Cas, trying to see any sort of expression on his face. Be it shock, or happiness, or disappointment, or disgust, but Castiel kept a blank expression plastered on. They sat in silence for what felt like ages.
Cas finally turned towards Dean, "Why would that be a problem?"
"Because, unless you say differently, it's a one sided thing. And I wasn't going to say anything because I didn't know how you felt, or if you could even feel things like this."
"Well, then I'm saying differently."
"I'm in love with you, too, Dean." Cas smiled.
"But, why didn't you say anything?"
"Frankly I thought I'd made myself quite clear, from the staring and the 'I love you' and the whole saving you from perdition thing." Cas laughed. Dean laughed too, when put that way it was kind of obvious.
"But why me?"
"Because you have the most pure soul of any human I've seen. Because you always want to save everyone in any given situation. Because of the way you care about everyone in your life."
Dean smiled, "Can I kiss you?"
"Please." Cas grinned.
And so he did, and Dean could say with joy that he was absolutely, undoubtedly, in love with Castiel. And Cas was just as much in love with him, too.