It only took 6 months for Cas to call him on the phone one morning, completely out of the blue, and tell him that they needed to talk. Dean knew exactly what that meant. He’d been through that kind of thing before before…that “we need to talk” shit. Cas wanted to break up with him.
Normally, he’d see it coming, so the sting wouldn’t be that bad and the heartache wouldn’t last long. He’d seen the end of him and Lisa coming from a mile away. He would have broken things off himself if it hadn’t been for Ben. Dean had been the one to break up with Cassie, but se hadn’t been surprised. There were signs, goddamnit. They had stopped having sex weeks before it happened, dropped down to only seeing each other once every other week, and when they did meet up, it was strained and spent mostly in silence. They used to be able to talk on the phone for hours, but by the end they couldn’t last five minutes before running out of things to say. They had both seen it coming. Fuck, she’d even agreed with him and they’d parted as friends.
This time, though, he hadn’t seen it coming.
There had been nothing that indicated that their relationship had been souring. Cas hadn’t given any hint of their impending end. Dean had thought they were doing great! Claire was amazing, and they got along like two peas in a fuckin pod. Cas was always giving them these fond looks that made his heart flutter. He was over at their house all of the time, playing with Claire, helping her with her homework, and cooking dinner with Cas. After Claire went to bed, they would watch tv together, talk about their days and other random shit, and sometimes Dean would read a book while Cas graded essays. He even slept there half the week and helped get them out of the door in the mornings. At this point, they were practically living together.
Had he been over too often? Had Cas been secretly annoyed that Dean was over all of the time? He would like to think that Cas would have told him if he needed to be around less. Sure, he would have been a bit hurt, but he would have respected Cas and backed off. He would have done anything to make things better for their relationship because he way already more than halfway in love with Cas and his little girl.
God, he was going to miss Claire. Leaving her was going to be difficult. They had been getting closer within the last few months, and Dean loved it. Every time he walked through the front door, she would yell out his name and tackle him, squeezing him in a hug while calling out “Super Hug!” as loudly as she could. It was a game they played, and Dean would squeeze her tightly back until one of them yelled out to stop. Usually, the one begging for mercy was Dean, and Claire would laugh and declare she won. Claire loved to win, and made everything into a race. Dean, not wanting to spoil the girl, occasionally let himself win, and in those cases she declared them both winners. It both annoyed him, and amused him to no end.
He had agreed, of course, to meet with Cas. He wasn’t enough of a selfish asshole to prolong the inevitable. If Cas wanted to break up with him, and was brave enough to do it to Dean’s face, then Dean could at least summon the balls to show up to it.
Dean locked his Car and stared up at Cas’s front door with a bit of trepidation. Going back to his car and driving away would not be a good idea, but it sure as hell sounded appealing. He checked his watch and saw that it was a few minutes before 7, and sighed. That was the time he’d agreed to come over, so he had no excuse to loiter. With a deep breath, he straightened his shoulders, held his head high and began trekking his way up the stairs. He didn’t have a key, and he guessed he’d never get one, so he had to knock on the door and wait for Cas. He heard the mans muffled voice from inside the house, and suddenly, the door was unlocked and yanked open by Claire.
Dean stared at her for a moment, surprised at her presence. He had figured Cas would send her to Gabriel’s while he did the dirty work, wouldn’t want to distress her after all. But there she was, squealing excitedly, and wrapping her arms around Dean’s thigh. He reached down to pick her up almost automatically, and fit her on his hip. At least he would have that memory, he supposed, and one last hug from the kiddo. “Hey, Claire.”
“Daddy said you’d come over, and you did!” She gabbed and looped her arms around his neck and pulled uncomfortably. “Are you gonna have dinner wif us?”
“Uh…” Dean kicked his shoes off and walked them both into the living room where he could see Cas stirring something on the stove. “Maybe?”
Cas turned around and hit Dean with a soft smile. “Of course you’re invited to dine with us.”
Dean nodded, fighting his frown as he set Claire down on the couch. Wouldn’t it just be easier on all of them if Cas didn’t drag it out? “Do you need any help?”
Cas turned back to the pot and turned off the heat. “I’m actually finished. Its been quite chilly lately, and I’ve been craving some beef stew.”
On autopilot, Dean walked into the kitchen and grabbed the bowls from the cupboard. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Cas watching him, but the moment he turned towards Cas, the man turned away and busied himself with grabbing a trivet for the table. Dean gulped and his insides clenched. Shit. He had been hoping, in the very deepest part of his heart, that he had been wrong. Claire being here had given him just the smallest hint of hope, but if the guy couldn’t even look at him, then there was no way they’d still be together by the end of the night. Cas was going to break up with him.
With bowls and spoons in hand, he began setting the table. Claire, the little angel, walked up to him and asked for the spoons so she could help. Fuck, he was starting to get choked up and they hadn’t even eaten dinner yet. How the hell was he supposed to get through the night without becoming a total fucking mess? There was no chance in hell Dean would cry in front of Cas, fuck no. He’d get through it and go home and do it like a man. With a pint of cookie dough ice cream. The expensive shit that used real cream as the first ingredient.
After Claire went and washed her hands, they sat down for dinner. It was strange. Dean couldn’t stop thinking that that was going to be the last dinner he’d ever have with the two, and Cas was looking at him oddly every few minutes. Cas was obviously disappointed that Dean couldn’t keep his shit together around Claire. He had to pull himself together, if not for himself, then for Claire.
Dinner passed slowly, and somewhat awkwardly. Claire seemed to be the one to supply the conversation, going on and on about her day at school and how a boy named Damian had been the line leader for that day. Once that subject had been exhausted, she moved onto talking about her friend Olivia and how they had been at the Lego station and made a house. All in all, Dean and Cas passed the whole dinner without saying more than a handful of words to each other. Was that super strange? No, not really. They had been together long enough that silences hadn’t really bothered them, especially when Claire tended to have no problem talking. Now, though? Dean felt every second they weren’t speaking.
Since dinner had been late, Cas had to begin Claire’s night time routine once they took their last bites. When she came to him for her hug, his heart clenched and he couldn’t help but hold her a little longer than he normally did. Thankfully, Cas didn’t notice the sad smile he aimed at Claire’s back as they walked off to start their routine. He itched to sing Hey Jude to her one last time, but Cas was already gone and he’d never be able to do it again. Dean busied himself with clearing the table and began rinsing the dishes off so they could be put in the dishwasher.
When Cas came out of the hallway a little past 8pm, Dean dried off his hands and walked over to where Cas was settling onto the couch with a heavy sigh. “Claire was a handful today…”
Dean nodded absently, not really sure what to say.
“She decided to play a game of hide and seek without telling me, and of course I panicked when I couldn’t find her. We had a talk about that, I assure you.” He rubbed a hand over his forehead, and Dean had the urge to give him a hug, but if the guy was going to break up with him, then he probably wouldn’t want it. “She’s just been going non stop since I picked her up from daycare.”
“She seemed to have a lot to say tonight…” he started awkwardly, his knee already fidgeting with nerves. If Cas wanted to draw things out, that has his business, but Dean didn’t have to agree. He wanted to get things over with so he could go home and lock himself in his house for a week. “Hey, uh…Cas? You said you wanted to talk about something?”
Cas nodded with a sigh. “Yes, I did.”
Dean nodded for him to continue, but Cas wasn’t even looking at him. His heart, already beating rapidly with nerves, clenched in his chest. It was coming…the ‘It’s not you, its me’ bullshit. And Dean would have to sit there and listen like it didn’t fucking tear his heart out to hear it. It was Dean. It had to be because Cas was perfect. He always fucked up the good shit in his life. His dad had it right about him. John always told him the truth when no one had to balls to say anything. He was a fuck up, and everything he touched fell apart. If Dean had just-
“Where do you see our relationship going?”
Dean froze, his mind stopping mid-spiral. “What?”
Cas frowned at Deans expression. “I’m wondering where you see this relationship going, and how you feel about Claire.”
Dean let out a long breath. “I just…I thought-” he shook his head and bit his lower lip. “That’s not what I thought you were going to say.”
“Oh…” Cas didn’t seem to know what to make out of Deans statement, and it made him want to smile. Of course Cas would have been absolutely clueless about the connotations of telling someone you were dating ‘we need to talk’. “Well, that is what I wanted to talk to you about.”
His mind was racing, but one thing stood out in his mind: Cas wasn’t breaking up with him. “And you want to know if I’m serious about us.”
“Well yes, and no. I do believe that you are serious about out relationship, but I still need to have this conversation with you.” He said confidently. “I am not willing to leave anything to chance, especially because I need to look after Claire. She has grown very attached to you.”
Dean couldn’t help but smile at that. “Well, I’ve gotten pretty attached to her too.”
Cas looked relieved. “I had hoped, but it is good to hear. A few days ago, as I was tucking Claire in for bed, she said something surprising. She asked me if you were going to be her daddy.”
Dean sucked in a breath and his eyes began to tingle alarmingly. Shit. Dean told himself he wasn’t going to cry. So Cas wasn’t breaking up with him. He hadn’t done anything wrong. This was the other type of ‘we need to talk’ kind of situation, the one that he’s never had before. Even with Lisa, she never sat him down and had a serious talk about their relationship and where it was going. She never asked him about his relationship with Ben, and how he felt about the kid. This was uncharted territory. Claire wanted to know if Dean was going to be her daddy too? Sweet Claire, who Dean was absolutely in love with, wanted him to be in her life like that? He cleared his throat and looked away from Cas, not wanting him to see how choked up he was getting. He didn’t know if he should cry in happiness, or get up and pace the living room.
“Yes It surprised me too.” He gripped Deans hand and gave it a squeeze. “When I asked her why she was asking, she said it was because she wanted you to be her daddy too.”
“Well, shit…” Dean had to blink rapidly to warn away the moisture that was beginning to collect in his eyes. A tear rolled down his cheek anyway, and he swiped it away quickly before Cas could see it.
“As I’m sure you can imagine,” he continued, thankfully ignoring the moisture in Deans eyes. “dating with a child can be difficult. Most men who don’t run away from the moment I mention Claire, end up leaving for a variety of reasons. Most simply cant handle the idea of raising a child, especially one not biologically related to themselves. Others will try, but they never stick around for long. It’s a big responsibility. Hearing Claire so explicitly say that she wanted you to be in her life was something that I hadn’t expected.”
Dean nodded and cleared his throat to warn away the thickness. “So what did you say?”
“I promptly changed the subject.” He rubbed at his forehead, smoothing out the crease between his eyebrows, and made eye contact with Dean. “I didn’t feel comfortable giving her an answer without first talking to you.”
Dean nodded in understanding and reached an arm up to swipe across his eyes again, hopefully for the last time. “That’s, uh...wow. I don’t know what to say.”
Cas waited a moment before speaking. “Are you having a negative reaction?”
“Oh god, no…” Dean rushed to say. He reached down with a shaky hand and put his hand on top of Cas’s. “Definitely not. This is good. Real good, baby.”
He nodded and flipped his hand so he could interlock his fingers with Dean. “I understand that this is overwhelming, but I want you to know that if you needed time to think, I would respect that.”
Dean shook his head. “I’m just a little overwhelmed. But Cas…You know I-” he cut himself off and tried to collect his thoughts. “Both you and Claire…you two are family to me. I know we still have a long way to go, but I want to be that for Claire.”
“That is wonderful to hear, Dean.” Cas squeezed his hand. “Claire was very young when I separated with Michael…”
Deans ears perked up at the mention of Cas’s ex-husband. Michael was only ever mentioned once before, and it was in an off-hand, dismissive way. They had been at dinner and Cas was talking about a vacation he had been on, some bed and breakfast in the middle of Wyoming, and a lake he had found. “I wanted to go fishing.” He was saying. “But Michael was more interested in exploring town.” And that was it. Gabriel was the only reason he even knew the name of Cas’s ex-husband. The first time the two had met, and when Cas had excused himself to the restroom and left the two of them alone briefly, Gabe had done the whole ‘hurt him and I’ll kill you’ routine. After a moment of the usual threats one would expect to hear, he added that whatever he did to ‘asshat of an ex-husband, Michael’ would be chump change compared to what he would do to Dean if he hurt Claire and Cas. He had yet to find out what Gabe did to Michael, but the eerie smile on Gabriel’s face when he had asked…well, Dean had let it drop.
“…and I feel blessed that she doesn’t remember him. To her, I am her daddy, and there was no one else. Now, though, we have you. Claire is smart, and children can often sense when others care for them. To me, it is clear that you care for her, and I think she knows that.”
“I do care for her.” Dean had to look away from Cas’s piercing blue eyes with a blush. “And you know I care for you two. I’m, uh, in this thing for the long run…”
A gentle hand gripped Deans chin and turned it towards Cas. His eyes were shining, and his lips were pressed tight with emotion. “I am too.”
Dean cleared his throat and looked away, suddenly aware at how shitty he was at expressing his emotion. He was itching to tell a joke, to diffuse the weight that was hanging over them, but he fought it back. It wasn’t a bad weight…it was a good one. The air was thick with the unspoken affection they had for each other. And god…Dean wished he could just say it. Just fuckin say the four letter word…
“I have something for you.” Cas started, and shifted to his hip so he could reach into his pocket. Dean only caught a glimpse of silver before Cas’s hand obscured the object. “I’ve been considering when would be a good time to give you this, and now feels like the time.”
Cas reached out and placed a silver key in Dean’s open palm. Immediately, Dean flushed with warmth at the sight. “Wow, Cas.”
“You are welcome here, Dean. Anytime.”
Dean could do nothing but lean over and pull Cas into a back breaking hug. Cas had no fucking idea what had been going through Dean’s head from the moment he got that text. He was so sure that they would be over, that he would never see them again. It had hurt him to think he would loose Cas and Claire. It had been so bad that Dean even had a moment where he thought he would actually miss Gabe. And now, sitting here with Cas in his arms and knowing that they weren’t breaking up…that Cas was taking their relationship to the next step…
…he knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was absolutely in love with this man.