Dean would really like to not be late for once in his life. For some reason every time he had to make an appointment, it was like the entire universe awoke and did everything possible to stop him.
Which is why he stepped into Central Christian Academy wearing a white button down and black slacks… with his sleeves rolled up to his elbows and his forearms and hands covered in grease. He made a beeline to the right, following a short way down the hall towards where the main offices were. His husband — er, ex-husband — stood outside of one of the large office doors with his arms crossed over his chest and his foot tapping impatiently on the pristine wood floor. Castiel was so good at looking annoyed...
“You’re late,” Castiel growled.
“I had a flat tire!” Dean exclaimed, still trying to keep his voice down. He was not ashamed to admit that the whole Christian Academy thing scared the shit out of him. He felt like he was going to be sent straight to hell every time he walked in the door because hello he liked dudes. But when the twins had reached preschool age, Castiel had been adamant that they needed to attend the best school that western Washington had to offer.
And, as Castiel had said numerous times over the previous five years that the kids had attended Central Christian… it was a liberal Christian school, which obviously welcomed kids with same sex parents. Not that Dean had ever met any other’s. Granted, he didn’t spend a lot of his free time hanging around the school, but he went to ever required meeting that Castiel requested of him. Most of the parent nights were filled with over-compensating women, trying to be the best mother around, and fathers that looked bored out of their minds.
“Behave,” Cas growled, as he finally pushed the office door open and stepped in.
Behave? Behave! Like Dean could do anything more than pretend he was an upstanding citizen in that particular building. He didn’t want any rogue nuns stepping out to slap his hands with a ruler. (Or maybe that was just Catholic schools?)
“Mr. Novak, Mr. Winchester, so happy to see you could finally join me.”
Abby Warren was a demon in heels, as far as Dean was concerned. She had been the principal at Central Christian for two years, and Dean sincerely missed the fat old bloke that she had replaced. That guy wasn’t scary at all!
“I apologize, Ms. Warren — Dean had some car trouble on his drive over,” Castiel said. Dean held his arms up as explanation, but the woman looked utterly unconcerned with his excuses.
“Right, well… shall we begin?”
Since they had joined Central Christian as little preschoolers, Jack and Emma were essentially ‘grandfathered’ into acceptance each school year, but Dean and Cas were still required to go over a pre-school-year-screening with the principal to make sure that all summer activities had proven beneficial to advancing the twins’ knowledge.
Which was just a load of horseshit to say that they had to prove Jack and Emma hadn’t sat on their asses and played video games all year. It was Cas’ job to prove such things, because when the twins were allowed to visit Dean’s apartment… he let them sit on their asses and play video games all day. Because they were twelve, and also because Dean worked forty hours a week and didn’t have the luxury of working from home (like Cas) and making sure they were keeping themselves occupied with things like summer reading and science projects.
He tuned out after that — he probably wouldn’t even be there if it wasn’t mandatory for all joint-custody parents to be in attendance. When he had gotten the call, he was honestly surprised that Castiel hadn’t made up some excuse to the school to explain off Dean’s absence.
He joined the circus.
Oh, their other father? No, sorry, I’m unaware of such a being.
He blinked back into focus at the sound of his name, only to find Castiel giving him an angry stare and Ms. Warren raising one perfect eyebrow in his direction. Shit. “Yeah?”
“I asked if you had anything to offer. It’s my understanding that the children spend one week a month at your home?”
Thanks for reminding me, he felt like grumbling. Instead, he plastered on his best ‘customer service’ smile and nodded. “They do. Most recently we’ve been studying geology and the Cascade mountain range. Last visit we took a nature hike up Mt. Rainier.”
“Oh! How nice.”
The conversation diverted away from him again, and Dean took a breath, knowing he had fulfilled his requirement for the meeting.
Twenty minutes later, they shook Ms. Warren’s hand and left the office… worthy enough to give Central Christian another forty thousand dollars for their children’s tuition that year.
Dean bit back the bile that always threatened to escape when he remembered how much money they were devoting towards Jack and Emma’s education… when the kids were only twelve-fucking-years-old. It had been a long running argument between Dean and Castiel — one of the many — because Dean thought most of the local public schools were perfectly competent and ‘can’t we just devote the money to their college funding? Or hell, wait until high school?’
No, of course not. Because no public education would ever be good enough for a Novak child.
’So I’m an idiot then? Is that what you think? Poor little midwestern kid that grew up on a farm and only got a public education?’
‘You just said that a private education was going to help our children excel in the future, which means my life is shit because of public schools, right?’
‘I never said your life was shit!’
‘No, of course not. A Novak would never say something so crass to your face. Why demoralize someone publicly when you can tear them down behind their backs?’
“I have to go,” Castiel said, once they were outside of the school. “I have to pick Emma up from piano lessons.”
Dean didn’t even have a chance to ask his ex to tell the kids hello for him, before Cas was climbing into his Lexus and driving off. Dean grumbled to himself the entire walk back to his old Chevy pick-up, before starting the long drive — in rush hour traffic — back to Renton. Once back at his apartment, he put a leash on his shaggy-haired dachshund, Rufus, and took the dog out to do his business, before getting back in the truck. “Let’s go see Sammy,” he said, looking over at the small dog sitting in the passenger seat. Rufus didn’t care where they went… he just liked car rides.
Since traffic was still shit, he used backroads to get to Sam’s house in Beacon Hill. It probably took longer but there was something about actual driving instead of stop-and-go that relaxed his brain.
He parked in the driveway of his brother’s quaint two-story home and helped Rufus out of the truck, before holding onto the leash as he went to the front door and knocked.
Two years ago he would have just walked in — but then Sammy went and got himself hitched and Dean accidentally walked in on a round of ruckus couch fucking and suddenly he was a-ok with knocking and waiting patiently.
The door opened and Dean’s brother-in-law grinned at him, before quickly ducking down and scooping Rufus up in his arms. “Hello, sweet boy, how’s my second favorite nephew?”
Dean rolled his eyes at Steve, unclipping the leash he still held and dropping it on the table by the door, before bypassing the blonde to get into the house. At the other end of the hallway, Sam stepped out of his office door and immediately frowned at the look on Dean’s face.
“Is it the fifth of August already?”
“He’s such an annoying bastard,” Dean grumbled, going into the kitchen and raiding the fridge for the beer that Sam kept stocked just for Dean’s bad moods. “I feel like the only reason I’m required to go to those damn meetings is so that Cas can wave it in my face that he can afford the forty-g’s to send the kids there.”
Steve, with Rufus tucked securely in one beefy arm, gave Sam a look, and said, “I’m gonna order Chinese,” and then left the brothers alone in the kitchen.
Dean slumped unhappily into one of the chairs. “He didn’t used to be like this, you know?”
“I know,” Sam answered, sitting down across from him.
“Back in college… money was the last thing on his mind. Who needed money when there was another war protest happening downtown? It’s just… now every time he speaks, I just hear his father’s voice. Because my Cas would never sound like that. Would never be such an asshole.”
“People change, Dean. College was a long time ago… people grow up and get jaded.”
They had the same exact conversation the year before. And the year before that — although slightly different because Dean had still been married and grumbling over the money spent for private school tuition.
He had been such a dumb naive kid to think that a farm boy like himself would ever get a Novak multi-millionaire like Castiel to actually love him for life.
So naive. So dumb.
For a kid used to the slow, routine life of growing up on a farm… the west coast was something of a mystery just itching to be discovered. Dean had never been farther than Texas, a big consideration when it came time to send in college applications. He’d spent most of high school (and even before that, in Little League) playing baseball, and had enough talent to cash in on a scholarship if he wanted. So he applied where he wanted — not just the University of Kansas because it was close to home — and maybe did a little dance when he got the acceptance letter to Washington State University.
Sam was just as excited, he had pictures and postcards of various west coast and east coast cities, one of which was Seattle. And Sammy, the computer nerd that he was, had a serious dream of moving to Seattle and working for Microsoft. ’It’s so much better than the mess that is the Silicon Valley. And California is so expensive, Dean…’
What Dean wasn’t expecting was to drive to Washington State and arrive at a college town that honestly didn’t look much different from Kansas. No one had really told him that Eastern Washington wasn’t very exciting in comparison to Western Washington. Damn it.
That being said, he loved everything about college. For once he wasn’t stuck waking up at the asscrack of dawn to get his farm chores done, and then spending the rest of the day studying and practicing baseball. All he had to focus on in college was studying and baseball.
And then he met Castiel Novak and suddenly he had something else entirely to focus on.
It took him about four weeks of being paired up with Cas in a 100-level science class, before he realized that Washington was different and suddenly he could explore that whole ‘kinda-like-boys’ side of himself without worrying about how the midwestern town around him would react. It took another two weeks before he found the nerve to ask Cas out on a coffee date.
’I wondered how long it would take you…’
For the next two years they were all but inseparable. Christmas of their junior year, Dean bought a ring and proposed. They were married a few days after graduation.
His senior year, the Washington State Cougars won the College World Series with Dean as it’s starting pitcher. He got an offer to practice with the Seattle Mariners not long after that, and when he left college, he followed Castiel back to his hometown of Redmond, Washington and signed on to pitch for the Mariners. Cas got a job working for his father’s accounting firm and for a while everything seemed to be going great. A year later, they decided to use a surrogate and have a child. They were young, yes, but Castiel had grown up with ‘old’ parents and didn’t want to be that person. ’I want to be young and fun, Dean.’
The week they found out that the implantation had worked and their surrogate was pregnant… was the week Dean got hurt.
He pitched three major league games in his career. During the third, a home game against the San Francisco Giants, he was pitching in the top of the fifth when a line drive hit him square in the right forearm — his pitching arm — causing him to drop to his knees and bite back a wail of agony at the instant pain. He had never been shot, but it felt like he had taken a bullet to his arm.
The hit had splintered multiple bones in his arm, requiring multiple surgeries to get everything fuzed properly back together.
When he had tried to throw a ball again, after his arm had finally healed, the movement caused so much residual pain along the length of his arm that he knew he would never pitch another major league game.
Unfortunately a farmboy who had played baseball his whole life… didn’t really have a backup plan. Made painfully obvious by the fact that he had gotten his Bachelor’s degree in English, of all things. It had seemed like an easy enough option, while he was busy chasing Castiel and playing ball. He hadn’t ever really shared his ‘love’ of writing with other people, but he played it off well when asked, by saying that he was great at writing book reports.
Of course that didn’t bode well for a ‘retired at 23’ baseball player finding a new job.
It was probably those early days of Dean being depressed and feeling useless, staying home with the kids while Castiel went to work and made six figures, that started the beginning of the end for their marriage. In college they had been on mostly even ground — sure, Dean knew that Castiel came from a well-off family, but it didn’t matter because he was in love with the Cas that couldn’t hold his liquor on a Saturday night and always craved pancakes when he had a test. In real life, they were so unevenly matched that Dean felt inadequate.
For twelve years of marriage that feeling just grew and grew.
(Quick author's note to say: imagine the gloriousness of a Sam Winchester/Steve Rogers ship, okay? OKAY?!)
Dean worked forty hours a week for the Washington State Transit system. Which was a fancy way of saying he took tickets, organized lines of cars, and parked people properly when they were boarding the various ferries that left Seattle. It wasn’t glamorous, but it paid the bills and he kind of enjoyed being down by the water all day. He had spent a few years unloading shipping containers on the docks, but his bad arm made it hard to lift anything over forty pounds, and eventually it was too much to spend all day in pain and then go home and be in even more pain.
While they were still married, Castiel wouldn’t tell his friends or family what Dean did for work. Instead, when Dean finally rejoined the workforce after the twins started school, Castiel began telling folks that Dean was in ‘software development’ with his brother. A load of horseshit, if Dean ever saw one.
’Why can’t you just be honest with them?’
‘And tell my parents that the guy whom I married despite all of their arguments against the idea is a dock worker? Yeah, no thanks, Dean.’
‘Sure, fine. But why are you lying to our friends?’
‘They’re my friends, Dean. People I have to work with every day. These people expect a certain type of family dynamic from me.’
It was just like the idea of sending their kids to private school — Castiel was constantly keeping up appearances like he was trying to win some ‘best family’ contest.
“So I got a date.”
Dean looked up from his sandwich and across the table to where his workmate — and probably closest friend that wasn’t Sam or Steve — Benny sat. “Yeah? Where did you find the time for that?”
“Joined one of those phone apps. I was a bit skeptical about the whole thing, but now I’m kind of excited.” Benny paused, giving Dean a very serious look. “I’m thinking, brother, that maybe you should look into it.”
He grumbled a bit to himself and focused back on his sandwich. Just because Benny was finding good luck with internet dating, didn’t mean Dean would find such success. He was never so lucky.
The more he thought about dating, the more he thought about Castiel. Of course, everything made Dean think about Cas, so it wasn’t much of a surprise.
For so many years, the one thing they did right was sex. Everything seemed fine once they were in the bedroom.
In hindsight… Dean had spent a lot of years lying to himself. It hadn’t actually been bad, but things had been so terribly vanilla and every time Dean suggested something new or different, Castiel had always said no. Which wouldn’t have been all that hard to live with, if not for the fact that Dean just wanted to try one thing… he wanted to bottom when they had sex. It was such an odd request, though, that he didn’t know how or whom to complain to about it. He didn’t see either role (top or bottom) as being lesser than the other, but he felt like if he started whining about what he wanted, suddenly people would think that.
The whole mess was a disaster and had caused him so much anxiety that every time he contemplated dating or even having a one night stand… he decided it was easier to just wait. For what? Who knew.
Despite all of his issues with dating, Dean spent his next night off looking over various dating sites. Damn Benny for sticking the idea in his head. They all seemed so utterly terrible, though. When he looked at the various profiles… it was like the same sex-hungry dude had wrote every single one. And yeah, Dean had slept with a couple of women in high school, before he met Cas, and he was open to dating women or men… but the idea of being with a woman when he had gotten so used to being with a man over twelve years, just seemed exhausting.
Which left the gay dating sites, which were even slimmer pickings.
Finally, he started getting a little more specific in his search… which led him directly to a very interesting website that yeah, had a few ‘dating’ aspects, but also had a few ‘porn’ aspects… and mostly just had a bunch of people that were interested in the more ‘kinky’ side of sex.
Not only that but apparently the people liked to not just have kinky parties… but also do completely mundane things like go to dinner.
He was intrigued. And, maybe, just a little bit turned on.
So he created a profile, and spent most of the night looking over various groups in his immediate area.
’I’m going out of town tomorrow on business, I figured I would check to see if you wanted the twins, before I asked my mother.’
Dean drove through rush hour traffic to get to the east side and Bellevue, where Castiel and the twins lived. He rolled his eyes at the numerous high rise buildings, and turned off 8th street to make it into the particular high rise building that Castiel called home. (Before the divorce they lived out in Redmond in a house with a yard, but Castiel wasn’t a big suburban fan and prefered the urban lifestyle… Dean just hated apartments, no matter how fancy.)
He parked in the extra space that went to Cas’ place (because he refused to pay for parking when picking up his own damn children from their home), and shut off his truck before climbing out and moving around to the back. He dropped the tailgate and sat down on it, pulling his phone from his pocket and sending off a one word message:
Cas: 10mins. Emma is hunting down her tablet.
Dean sighed, tucking his phone back in his pocket. Cas had lived in the apartment for two years and Dean had never been farther than where he stood at that very moment. It was like Cas wanted to separate his former life as much as possible, and letting Dean into the new life would wreck all possible progress.
Dean looked up at the shout and immediately grinned at the sight of Jack running towards him from the elevator, a backpack on his shoulders. Dean hopped off of the tailgate and held his arms open, swooping Jack into his arms as soon as he was close and swinging the boy around once. Jack, who was the spitting image of Castiel, had a soft soul and unabashedly wore his heart on his sleeve. He loved fast and strong.
And he was a daddy’s boy through and through.
As soon as Jack’s feet were back on the ground, he was talking animatedly about the latest drawing he’d been working on. Jack was a big superhero fan, as well as a variety of computer and console video games, but since both of his father’s had a rule that his screen time was limited, he had quickly taken to drawing his own versions of his favorite characters.
“Wait wait wait… a batman comic?” Dean asked, interrupting the excited descriptions.
“I know! I have it on my tablet, I can’t wait to show you!”
The elevator dinged again, and before Dean could say anything else to Jack, Emma and Castiel were stepping off of the elevator and walking his direction. Where Jack was the spitting image of Cas… Emma was the female version of Dean. Sometimes he wondered how it was possible that it was like their surrogate’s genes hadn’t been involved at all. Looking at his children, the only time Dean could ever see glimpses of the woman, was in the wrinkle of Emma’s nose, and the shape of Jack’s ears.
“Emma bear,” Dean greeted, holding his arms out and pulling the girl close. She was a little less touchy-feely, in comparison to Jack, but thankfully still allowed her dad to take what little attention and love he could get. God, he missed them. “How’s it going, kiddo? Did you ace that karate test?”
Emma’s entire face lit up. “I kicked Tyler's butt. Had him flat out and pinned in seventy-eight seconds!”
Dean high-fived the girl. “Way to go. Uncle Sam invited us over for dinner. I'm sure Steve would love to see your moves.”
She leaned forward and whispered for only Dean to hear, “I’m gonna kick his ass.”
Dean couldn’t help but laugh, patting her back and motioning to the cab of the truck. “Say goodbye to Pops and load up, guys.” He watched the twins hug Castiel goodbye, before they both moved to climb into the front of Dean’s pick-up. Instead of arguing over who got the window seat, they used the same system as always… rock, paper, scissors. Dean was not at all surprised when Jack won… again. Kid was just like his uncle.
He turned back to his ex, rubbing a nervous hand along the back of his neck. “When will you be back?” It was Wednesday, and since Dean got so few days with his kids, he was seriously considering calling in sick and playing hookie the next two days.
“I get back Saturday night,” Cas answered. “You can bring them home Sunday evening like you normally would, though. Be on the lookout, Jack’s allergy meds are about out, so you might have to refill if you spend too much time outside. Are you gonna have someone able to check in on them tomorrow and Friday?”
Dean smiled, “I’m going to call in. It’ll be nice to get to spend four days together, and I have a bunch of time saved up that needs to be used.”
“Okay. I’ll be in conferences during the day, but might call for goodnights if I’m not too tired.”
Tired was a great description for how Castiel looked, but Dean wasn’t going to call him on it. Cas had a lot on his plate, working fulltime and keeping up with the kids and all of their activities. Dean just nodded, “Travel safe. Don’t forget your melatonin and contact solution.”
The statement came out almost by habit… because Cas was a terrible traveler and couldn’t sleep when he was in an unfamiliar bed. He was also forgetful. Dean watched the soft smile pass over his ex-husband’s face, before the other man moved towards the elevator. “See you later, Dean.”
Dean sat on his brother’s back porch with an open bottle of beer and watched as the twins took on Steve down in the grass of the backyard. It had started with Emma showing Steve her karate moves, and turned into an impromptu wrestling match amongst the three of them. With Rufus standing a few feet away and barking badly at their wild activities.
“How was Cas?” Sam asked, from the chair beside him.
“Good. He looks really tired though. I know we aren’t getting any younger, but the age is definitely starting to show around his eyes. He looks so tired.”
“Can’t be easy,” Sam mused, “he’s working fulltime and dealing with the kids day to day. I’m sure it’ll get better when school starts in a couple weeks.” Dean huffed at the mention of the kids’ pretentious private school, but for once… Sam wasn’t giving into his shit. “You remember when they were six and came home that one day speaking Spanish like they’d known it their whole lives? And you called me and were all excited because you couldn’t understand what your children were saying?”
Dean could remember that day very clearly. It had taken him an hour to understand what Jack wanted for dinner that night. “They start learning Mandarin this year.”
“See? Listen, I get it that the cost is a bit outrageous, but you have to admit the benefits are amazing. Most people dream of being able to give their kids the kind of education that Jack and Emma are receiving. They’re twelve years old and fluent in three languages… about to start on a fourth. That is not only insane, but going to benefit them so much in the future. If you could stop for one minute and realize that Castiel wanting them to have that is less about him proving you weren’t good enough, and more about wanting what’s best for his children… I think you would stop being so angry.”
Dean opened his mouth to argue, but suddenly stopped, lips closing to form into a thin line as he thought about exactly what his brother was saying. “Are you… are you saying my own insecurities are fueling my anger over a matter that isn’t worth being mad about?”
It took a second, but Sam let out a sharp laugh and nudged his shoulder. “That is exactly what I’m saying, Dean.”
“Okay. Okay.” Steve came rushing up the porch steps, a little out of breath as he left the kids back in the yard kicking a soccer ball around. “We have to feed these monsters before I die. Also, where is my beer? I deserve a beer after that.” Steve reached out to swipe Sam’s beer and take a long swallow, before he pointed at Dean. “Your daughter kicked my ass.”
“That’s my girl, Emma!” Dean called out across the yard. “Way to kick Uncle Steve’s ass!”
Dean somehow worked up the nerve to go to one of the ‘munches’ that the BDSM site he was on, talked about. Which turned out to be a motley group of people meeting up at a local Mexican restaurant for dinner. The lady in charge was an older biker woman whose partner was a skinny guy with gray hair and tattoos lining his arm. She called him ‘daddy’ and wasn’t afraid to tell the people about certain things she wasn’t allowed to do without ‘daddy’s’ permission. Half of the people there — men and women alike — wore various necklaces and collars, all with tiny little locks on them.
The experience of talking to the people and getting to know such a friendly group, had Dean going home and spending a bit more time on the website — joining local groups and conversations without as much hesitation.
themasterof1 40M Master
Hello pet. I saw your post about wanting to explore your submissive side. You’re new to this?
dockerdee79 39M slave
I uh… yeah. I was married for a long time and things were very vanilla. So now I’ve had a bit of time on my own and I’m starting to explore new things.
themasterof1 40M Master
I can definitely understand that experience. I’ll admit, your profile stood out because you aren’t into the painplay and more intense bdsm acts. I have a hard time finding good subs and slaves that don’t want more from me than I can provide.
dockerdee79 39M slave
I deal with enough physical pain during the day to not really be into that. I’m more curious about ropeplay, bondage, sensory play.
themasterof1 40M Master
Orgasm denial? Cock cages?
dockerdee79 39M slave
themasterof1 40M Master
What a quick and excited response. Does the idea of me locking your cock up and making you wait to get off, get you going? Mmm. Maybe I’ll tie you up, keep your cock all pretty and soft in a cage, and start stretching your ass open with my tongue and fingers. Find your prostate — start driving you crazy as I tease you, bringing you and your pretty cock right to the edge.
dockerdee79 39M slave
Fuck, sir, please.
themasterof1 40M Master
And then, when you’re all pliant and blissful, body teetering so close but so far from the edge… that’s when I’ll fuck you. And you’ll be screaming, pet, because it’ll feel so good but your cock won’t know what to do with all of that pleasure.
dockerdee79 39M slave
I need to come, sir! Please, I need it...
themasterof1 40M Master
You will do no such thing until I tell you! Are you touching yourself now? How dare you. I didn’t see you ask for permission, boy.
Dean whimpered, right hand immediately falling away from his swollen cock. He had been touching himself… how could he not when everything the Master was saying sounded so wonderful? He wanted all of it. He wanted to be tied down and at the mercy of someone that knew exactly what they wanted.
dockerdee79 39M slave
I’m sorry, sir.
themasterof1 40M Master
How good of a pet do you want to be?
dockerdee79 39M slave
The best, sir.
themasterof1 40M Master
Good. Then twenty-four hours from now you may send me a request to come. Until then, I don’t want you to touch that cock. Your cock belongs to me, and I want you to acknowledge that. Understood?
dockerdee79 39M slave
themasterof1 40M Master
Good. Twenty-four hours. Goodnight, pet.
Dean sent back a quick ’goodnight’ and then took a moment to realize how much his heart was racing. His cock was still swollen… leaking precome along his lower abdomen, but he wanted to be a good pet… even if the Master would have no way of knowing whether or not he followed the rules. There was something — the kinda something he had been longing for — that tingled under his skin at the idea of following someone else’s rules when it came to sex. It was tantalizing, yes, but also… very, very exciting. Dean could definitely be a good boy for that feeling!
So he pulled his sleep pants back up, trapping his hard cock beneath the soft fabric, and set his laptop beside him on the couch before getting up to find himself a midnight snack. Since it was his night off, he was staying up a little later than normal — but Rufus had already huffed at him and then went to bed. Old dog stuck in his ways…
Dean and the Master spoke for three weeks almost daily, before Dean got the invite. He woke up one morning and checked his messages only to find a new one from the Master.
themasterof1 40M Master
They have a party scheduled for three weeks from Saturday. A masquerade party at one of the local BDSM clubs. I would love to have you there, pet, ready to show the world you’re mine. I thought maybe the ‘secret identity’ part would be helpful for a first time together?
dockerdee79 39M slave
I would love to be there! What should I wear? How do I prepare myself?
They spent the next week going over a variety of topics — starting with the do’s and don'ts of their relationship. Things that both of them weren’t comfortable doing on a first meet-up. Safe words. Turn offs. They discussed it all.
So as Dean began to search various websites looking for the perfect mask for the party, he felt ready... scared out of his fucking mind, yes, but ready nonetheless.
Sometimes Dean got cravings for his old life. Not in the way of ’I wish I still lived in a two-story house with a yard and drove a new car…’ but in the ’damn, I’m really craving upscale Indian food’ way.
So his next Saturday night off, he waited until traffic had died down and then left Rufus with a chewy bone to keep him occupied and drove east towards Bellevue. He, of course, ignored Castiel’s glowing apartment building, as he parked at Bellevue Square and walked the half a block to one of his favorite restaurants.
They didn’t have curry in Kansas… at least not when he had been growing up. And even if they had, he could imagine his father’s response to the idea of eating at an Indian restaurant… and it wasn’t a pretty visual. Pretty close to how his father had reacted upon realizing that Dean was into guys. Not just into but marrying one.
“Table for one?” the hostess asked. Dean nodded, happily following along behind her — giving a quick glance up at the bright elephant chandelier that spanned part of the ceiling over the bar.
He stopped, causing the hostess to stop, and turned to his left where he saw his ex-husband sitting in a two person booth against the wall. “Cas.”
“I don’t know why I’m surprised… you always did love this place.” Castiel glanced up at the hostess, before looking down at his own menu that he still held… he must have just gotten there as well. “Would you um… do you want to join me? I mean, unless you’re meeting someone else, of course…”
Dean shook his head a little too quickly. “Just me.” He looked over at the hostess, “Is that okay?”
“Sure.” She smiled and set down his menu across from where Castiel sat. “Enjoy your meal, guys.”
Dean picked up his menu, even though he knew what he would be ordering — the same thing he always ordered — and looked over it for a moment before casually asking, “Where are the twins?”
“My parents took them over to Victoria for a long weekend. School starts next week so one last hurrah of the summer.”
“God,” Dean whispered. He looked up, trying to bite back his emotions, “our babies are only a couple years from high school.”
“I know.” Castiel took a sip from his water glass and leaned forward, “Emma started her period last week.”
Dean’s eyes grew wide. “Holy shit.” A waiter walked up to take their order and after the man had walked away, Dean lowered his voice to whisper, “Is it just me or did that dude look a lot like that guy that played Hannibal on tv?”
Cas laughed, shaking his head. “Mads Mikkelsen. How can you have such a crush on the guy and not know his name?”
“I do not have a crush!”
“Dean, you had no idea what was going on in that show half of the time but still forced me to watch it every week.”
“I can’t help that it seemed very gay and I liked that.”
The rest of the night went much the same — they sat long after their food had been boxed up and talked like they hadn’t in years. It reminded Dean of the days when they used to date. Back before marriage and kids and jobs got in the way. Once they had finally paid for their meals, they stepped out into the night and Castiel nodded to his left, “Wanna walk a bit?”
“Sure. We can leave the food at my truck. I’m just parked right inside the lot.” So they dropped off the food, tucking it into the cab of his truck, and then began walking down a side path that led to a grass park a block over.
“My dad wants to retire at the end of the year,” Cas mused, hands tucked in his pockets.
“Seriously?” His former father-in-law was a hardass who had probably been working as a toddler, he was so money hungry. It was hard to imagine the man hanging out playing golf all day. “Huh.”
“Mother wants to travel. Father wants to move to Florida.” There was a pause, long enough that Dean glanced over and caught a glimpse of the anguish on his ex’s features. “He wants me to take over as CEO. Working something like eighty hours a week and never seeing the kids. And I just—”
It was, frankly, a bit shocking to hear the way that Castiel was talking. They hadn’t fought much about money — Dean wasn’t the one that came from money or earned all of it, so he had mostly kept his mouth shut (other than the private school thing, which seemed like such a waste) — it had always just been a thing that was there in the background. A thing that belonged to the Novaks, not the Winchesters. If not for the damn prenup he had signed, Dean would be getting a pretty significant alimony check each month, but again… Dean hadn’t ever seen it as his money, so he hadn’t really been bothered about signing a document saying he had no right to it.
And Castiel, after they moved to Seattle and Cas had started working for his father’s company, had always seemed to be fitting back into the lifestyle he was raised in… completely different from the anti-government protester of their college days.
Which is why it was weird, for the first time since then, since… fourteen years ago, Castiel had that same look in his eyes that he used to get when his father would try and buy his happiness at school.
Suddenly, Dean started to understand some things. “You’re tired of being that man.”
Castiel took his hands out of his pocket and rubbed them over his tired face, before dropping them back to his side. “Yes,” he finally answered, even though it hadn’t been a question.
No wonder he had been such an asshole lately, Dean thought to himself. “How long have you been feeling like that?”
“Honestly?” Castiel met his eyes. “It’s gradually gotten worse over the last five years.”
They had stopped walking for a brief moment, but continued on then, and Dean, out of habit, reached out and tucked his hand in Cas’. “You know,” he said, voice low, “you don’t have to be that man.”
“I’m so scared though. This is all I’ve ever known — and God but they’re going to be so pissed off if I tell them I want to quit.”
Castiel hadn’t pulled his hand away, instead he had tangled their fingers together… causing Dean to smile. He squeezed Cas’ hand. “Remember our junior year?”
“Barely. Fuck, that was a long time ago.”
“You had that economics class that made you design a portfolio and business plan for your dream business. Oh! No… it wasn’t economics. It was entrepreneurs… something like that. Anyway, you had to design the whole thing… what you wanted to be when you grew up, remember?”
“Oh shit, yeah, I do.” Castiel’s forehead creased a little as he thought about it. “That was forever ago, but I was so into it.” He chuckled. “The Geek Nanny. Teaching your kids how to appreciate the geeky lifestyle.”
“Didn’t you design like a full scope teaching plan for an after school program too?”
“I did, yeah. I think… I think I kept that.” Their pace slowed, the park’s path had circled around and dropped them back out at one of the main intersections downtown, and Cas suddenly turned to Dean, a real, genuine, smile on his face. “Dean, I don’t want to be an accountant.”
“I know, Cas,” he replied, lips quirking. “You never did.”
And suddenly Castiel was right there, chasing the space between them and squeezing Dean’s hand as he kissed Dean with all of the excitement that he used to when they were dating. The kiss was short and sweet though, because Cas pulled back a moment later and frowned. “Shit, I’m sorry. You probably have other people you’d much rather be—”
“No!” Dean cut him off. “I honestly… no, I don’t.” His free hand reached up, cradling Castiel’s neck as his thumb tickled that one spot right behind a perfectly sculpted ear that he used to wake up every morning wanting to nibble… “Cas,” he breathed. He pulled him in, chasing the flavor of curry and mango lassi on Castiel’s tongue.
After a few heated kisses at the edge of the park, Dean walked Castiel back to his building (with a quick stop off to pick up his box of leftovers from the truck). When they got to the lobby, Castiel nodded a quick hello to the doorman, before turning to look at Dean. “You should come upstairs.”
“I—” he wanted to say yes immediately, but he also wasn’t stupid. He knew what would happen if he went upstairs… he knew that sex would be just like it had been before with Cas. The same. Predictable. Vanilla.
He had made so many strides towards change, that the idea of going backwards was a bit scary. “I can’t, Cas.”
“You— oh.” Cas’ face changed, clouding over with emotion as he pulled his hand from Dean’s.
“This has been amazing, don’t get me wrong. I’ve enjoyed every second. But we were… the last time… God, we weren’t happy afterwards. And I’d hate for that feeling to show up and ruin tonight.”
“Who says it has to?”
Dean frowned, “Can you promise me it won’t?”
There was a long silence, until finally Castiel shook his head. “No, I guess not.”
“I don’t want to erase how things have gone tonight. Maybe we could just be friends for now?”
It seemed like such a stupid thing to say to his ex, and also incredibly childish, but Dean wasn’t sure he could offer more without the certainty that things would be different.
“Yeah. I suppose that’s fair, after everything that happened. It really has been nice having someone to talk to that had an outside perspective on everything. It’s not like mom and dad can give me answers… and most of my friends are people from work just trying to earn my good fortune so they can succeed faster. Those people would just use the idea of me wanting to quit for their own gain.”
“Those aren’t true friends, Cas.”
“No,” he shook his head, “they really aren’t. So I don’t get out a lot, and I definitely don’t talk to many people other than the kids and their nanny. Fuck, listen to me… I wanted to grow up and create a business where I got to work with kids and help grow their personalities, and instead I pay some lady to come and keep my kids from screaming at each other. How can you even stand back and let me do things like that? I’m a terrible father!”
“That isn’t true.” Dean couldn’t believe what he was hearing… or what he was saying. “The kids love you. They come to my house and spend most of the time sending you messages or telling me that I fucked up the simplest of things. How can you fuck up making mac and cheese?”
“They’re spoiled by that Beecher’s shit down the block.”
“Are you… do you buy mac and cheese and claim it’s your own recipe?”
Castiel blushed, ducking his head, “Maybe?”
“Oh my God! I take it back… you are a terrible father!”
Castiel felt like he was at the end of his last rope, just dangling over an open pit and hoping he could hold on. He sat in his car after getting home from work and, for just a few minutes, allowed the quiet to wash over him. It was so hard to go from the hustle and bustle of his office, to the clear chaos of a home with small children. He was so tired.
Finally, he found the motivation to climb out of the car and grab his bag from the passenger seat. He walked up the front walkway of their three bedroom rental — they were in the process of buying, but finding the right place had been a hassle with his tight schedule — and took a deep breath before finally opening the door. As he had expected, he was immediately hit by the sounds of shrill screaming. The twins were just shy of a year old, and since Dean’s injury meant that he wasn’t currently working, Dean had made the argument that it was stupid to pay someone to watch their children when he was already going to be home.
It wasn’t working the way Dean had obviously wanted it to.
After setting his bag by the door, Cas walked into the living room area and immediately frowned. There were baby gates up at each open doorway (where he stood, and across the room at the kitchen entrance), making the room pretty well baby-proofed… Dean laid on his back in the middle of the floor, eyes closed as the twins crawled around him and hit his body with various toys. His husband looked so… defeated.
Over the next few hours, Castiel went into ‘clean-up’ mode, getting the kids and Dean fed dinner and the house brought back from the precipice of disaster. When it was finally dark and the twins were down in their cribs, Cas took Dean’s hand and pulled him towards their bedroom. It was early, yes, but they were both so exhausted, and they deserved an early night of snuggles.
Once the lights were out and Castiel was curled around Dean, he heard his husband softly mumble into the dark, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this. They hate me. I’m a failure at everything.”
He sounded like he was on the verge of tears, causing Cas to lean up and kiss the side of his lips. “They don’t hate you… they’re babies, they’re learning how to voice their opinions and get the things they want and need. And if it’s too much, Dean, we can get a nanny. I can help you find work. Sweetheart, we can move forward…”
“I just don’t know how.”
“One foot in front of the other. That, plus me standing beside you and keeping you steady, and we’re bound to succeed.”
He tried to tell himself it was the right thing to do… to let Dean walk away instead of forcing him upstairs. They were over.
If they were really ‘over’, Cas wouldn’t be struggling to sleep while remembering the ghost of Dean’s lips against his own. It hadn’t taken much to realize how much Dean had changed over the past year. He had finally settled into himself, secure in the fact that no, he wasn’t ever going to be ‘that guy’ that played professional baseball, he was simply a guy that worked a job and earned a living to support himself and his family.
It was a relief to see, because Castiel could contribute the majority of their fall out to how Dean had reacted after his injury. And yes, it had taken a few years for things to get really bad, but it had still happened. When Dean had a dream career, he hadn’t worried at all about money. He hadn’t cared for a moment about the expense of living in the city or paying for a surrogate… it had all just been part of the process. But when suddenly Dean wasn’t the ‘breadwinner’, it was like a switch got flipped in his brain and suddenly he was scrutinizing everything. The house had been the start of it — yes, Dean loved the place, but did they need something so big and so expensive? — then daycare costs, and eventually the costs of enrolling the kids in private school. Every year, every time the bill came for the twins’ tuition, Castiel watched the frown lines get a little deeper on Dean’s face. They wouldn’t fight about the money, no, because Dean was raised in a household that taught ‘what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours’... so he felt like he had no say when it was Castiel footing the bill. Which was the problem, he had no say, so he would quietly go over it in his mind until it made him angry at everything. One of their most monumental fights had been about the type of milk that Castiel wanted the twins to drink.
It wasn’t all Dean’s fault, though. Because while he was quietly stewing over the entire mess, Castiel was mentally berating his father and mother over how they continued to control his life, and the lives of his family. He hadn’t wanted to enroll the kids in private school, but it was the same school he’d gone to as a boy and ’Castiel, son, a Novak will have only the best education.’ But how could he explain to Dean that he was making decisions about their children based on what his parents wanted? He couldn’t! Dean would throw a fit!
He missed the glory days of college, when all they had to worry about was making it to class on time and which movie they were going to see after Dean got done with practice.
Castiel rolled over onto his side in bed and stared at the red numbers of his alarm clock, as he remembered what Dean had said about his college dreams of business. He hadn’t thought about those ideas in ages — but it was a nagging reminder of how different he had become from that young naive kid.
But the thing was — Dean was surviving perfectly well, working a blue collar job. He wasn’t living a glorified life in a Renton apartment, no, but he seemed so happy in comparison to Castiel, who worked sixty hours a week and hated everything.
“I need to change,” he whispered to the dark. “Something has to change.”
The kids got back on Monday and were scheduled to start school again on Wednesday, so they had a couple of days to get everything prepared and ready for another busy year. One night, Cas got home from work, said goodbye to the nanny, and found himself checking on each of the twins — who were supposed to be in bed, since it was after nine — Jack was out like a light, but Emma was still sitting up in bed tapping on her tablet.
“Hey kiddo,” he said, voice gentle as he stepped inside her room. He pushed the door mostly closed behind him, so they wouldn’t wake up Jack, then walked over and sat down on the edge of her bed. It hit him just as hard as it always did when he saw Emma’s green eyes blinking up, because she looked so much like her daddy it was scary. “What are you looking at?”
Emma tilted the screen so that he could see. It was a virtual photo album showing pictures from their trip to Disneyland a few years back. Their last family vacation before the divorce. Castiel moved so he was sitting up against the headboard next to Emma, throwing one arm over her shoulders as he pulled the tablet closer. He could remember taking some of the photos, switching off the cameraman role with Dean every few rides. There was obvious joy on the entire family’s face… the whole week had been an amazing experience.
“I miss it, Papa,” Emma whispered, voice sad and way too grown up for Castiel’s liking. “I miss our family.”
It was ironic though, that Castiel had just been feeling the exact same way that Emma was presently feeling. If he had to guess, he suspected that Jack had very similar thoughts. “I do too, sweetheart,” he answered, kissing the top of her head.
The next photo in the series was one that Jack had taken, of Cas and Dean kissing in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. It made Castiel remember the press of Dean’s lips against his from a few nights before and choke a bit on his own emotions.
“Sometimes when we’re over at Dad’s house, I look at him and he looks so sad. I think he puts on a brave face for us, but his smiles don’t reach his eyes anymore.” Emma’s voice remained soft, and Castiel regretted that their current position didn’t allow him to see the look on his daughter’s face. He knew she had a lot of wisdom for such a young person. “I get why parents get divorced, I do, but sometimes I just wish it hadn’t happened with my parents. I used to feel so lucky to have two great dads that always loved each other and never fought, but then it all just fell apart. And I’m sorry, Papa,” her voice broke a bit, and Cas realized she was crying, “I’m sorry but I hate this place. I hate this apartment and my school and I just… I would give up everything to have our old house again. Waking up to daddy making pancakes on Saturday mornings.”
“Oh, Emma,” he mumbled, his own tears starting to drop onto her hair as he held her impossibly closer.
The first week of school, Castiel’s father had him working with one of their largest accounts that left him waking up before the children and getting home long after they had gone to bed — which meant he didn’t get to talk with either of them about how the new year was going. They were officially in sixth grade, which put them in ‘middle’ school and entering into a new building with new teachers that they hadn’t spent any time getting to know, and he was a bit worried about how things were settling in, especially after Emma’s concerns over how much she hated her current life.
Of course he wasn’t expecting his lack of attention that first week to end up with him getting a concerned phone call from the principal’s assistant on the following Monday morning. He gave his own assistant the news that he would be out for the rest of the day and grabbed his bag to head out. His job made it a lot easier to drop everything and get to the school, in comparison to Dean’s — who worked on the other side of the city and hours away in traffic.
When he got to the school, Emma and Jack were both sitting on a bench outside of the principal’s office — both dressed in their school uniform and pressed close together. As he got closer, Castiel realized that Jack had soft tears dropping down his face, and Emma was holding on tight to Jack’s hand, her knuckles a bit bloodied and bruised.
Fuck. He dropped down to one knee in front of the twins, one hand landing on Jack’s knee, the other on their clasped hands. “Tell me what happened,” he said, voice soft and, for the moment, understanding.
It didn’t surprise Castiel one bit when it was Emma that answered him. “Someone in our math class found out that Jack liked another boy. It started last week with soft taunting, but today got real bad and the other boy looked at Jack and said Jesus didn’t like gay kids with gay dads… so I decked him in the face.”
Castiel felt his blood start to boil in anger. For the most part, they had never seen a problem with the kids being at a ‘Christian’ school, because the school was so liberal. But the kids were getting older, meeting new children entering the school — a lot of people waited until their kids were in the higher grades before they decided to pay for the private school tuition — and dealing with things like crushes and finding out their own attraction preferences. Still, the school should be able to handle such issues from the beginning, without it getting to a point where Emma had to step in to protect her brother.
Reaching out, Castiel wrapped his arms around Jack and pulled his sweet-hearted boy close to him. “I’m so sorry, love.”
“I hate this place, Papa,” Jack whispered between tears falling. “I hate it so much.”
“I know, sweetheart. We’re gonna talk that over, okay? If you don’t feel comfortable here, we’re going to address things and find a better situation.”
“Mr. Novak, it’s good to see you. I’d like to have a word with you in my office—”
He looked up, spotting Ms. Warren standing above him. He squeezed his children’s hands and then stood, arms crossing over his chest. “I believe that’ll have to wait, Ms. Warren. We can schedule an appointment for later in the week, but at this moment, I’m going to take my traumatized children home and start the search for a new school.” He looked down at the twins. “Grab your bags, kids, let’s go.”
“I’ll have my lawyer contact you about a reimbursement of our paid tuition and whether or not you’d like to issue an official apology for the hate crime that happened today. Until then, have a nice day, Ms. Warren.”
Castiel took the week off work, knowing it would frustrate his father and not really caring. In fact, he ignored calls from both of his parents for the entire week. Instead, he focused on the kids, taking them to various local schools to tour facilities and meet faculty members, trying to see if there was one that stood out as better than most.
At first the search focused mainly around the Bellevue area — since it was where they currently lived and close to Castiel’s downtown office. When they didn’t find anything that stood out, they started looking a little farther out… until finally, Jack made a suggestion.
“Can we visit Uncle Steve’s school?”
Huh. Cas hadn’t even considered it, mostly because it was midway between where Dean lived in Renton, and where Sam and Steve lived in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. Which was to say… a long way from Bellevue. “It wouldn’t hurt, I don’t suppose.” He pulled his phone out and sent a quick text to his former brother-in-law, seeing if they could all stop by for a quick tour of the school whenever was convenient. To his surprise, Steve wrote back immediately, inviting them to drop by at the end of the day, and then to stop over for dinner afterwards if they’d like.
Though the idea of going to dinner at Sam and Steve’s without Dean seemed a bit odd, he remembered how much he enjoyed hanging out with the two men, and thought it might be nice. He could get an outsider perspective on his ideas.
“Okay, we’re going to go see Uncle Steve’s school after class.”
The twins were immediately ecstatic when they got to the school and saw their uncle. Cas watched in amusement as Jack and Emma both latched onto Steve in impressive hugs, before starting to ask a non-stop list of questions about the school where Steve taught. Steve, a history teacher, gave Castiel a knowing smile, before beginning his tour. They stopped at Steve’s classroom first, before looking around the first floor where most of the sixth and seventh grade classes were, then they moved upstairs, where eighth graders were taught. Most of the classrooms were empty, but they were about halfway down the hall when a loud bang and a puff of smoke seeped out of one of the open doors.
“Shit, Tony.” Steve pointed at the twins, “Stay here.” Castiel, Jack, and Emma all watched as Steve walked to the door and waved away some of the smoke as he peered inside. “Tony? You okay?”
“Fine!” A voice called from inside the room. “One of the kids labeled a canister wrong. Someone’s gonna get a fucking F— oh heyyyyy. Children. Steve? Why are there children?”
Once the smoke had dissipated, the three of them had slowly followed Steve’s path. Castiel knew the ‘adult’ thing would probably be to tell his kids to remain back, as instructed, but his curiosity had been just as strong.
Steve looked over his shoulder at them and smiled. “This is my niece, Emma, and my nephew, Jack, and my brother-in-law, Castiel. Emma and Jack wanted a tour of the school, because their current place isn’t working out.”
“Where do you go now, kids?” the man — Tony, apparently — asked.
Emma answered, “Central Christian.”
“That stuck up hell hole? No wonder you need a change. Hey kids, you wanna see something cool?”
That immediately got their excitement jacked back up, and Castiel leaned against the door frame as he watched his children get decked out in protective gear, before beginning some kind of experiment. Steve moved back over to where Cas stood, and called back into the room that he and Cas would be downstairs in Steve’s classroom, once the kids were done harassing Tony.
“You sure it’s safe to leave them in his care?” Cas asked, following Steve back downstairs.
“I know he seems like a disaster waiting to happen, but hell, they trust him enough to teach, so I think he could handle a bit of time with the twins.” Steve perched on the edge of his desk, while Castiel began wandering around the room examining different projects. It was only quiet for a moment, before Steve said, “Switching schools is a big deal. I understand the reasoning, but there are a ton of great places over in Bellevue—”
Making his way back to the front of the room, Cas pulled one of the chairs out and sat backwards on it, facing Steve. “I’m thinking of moving. Quitting. Changing everything. I can’t… I’m so tired of that person, and the kids aren’t happy, so why am I putting them through it?”
“Wow, that’s a lot. A big change.”
“I want to work where I can see my kids more often, you know? I mean… fuck I went all of last week without seeing them at all, because of my damn work schedule. What kind of life is that? I don’t need the money. If I sell the condo, we’d have more than enough to buy a house and survive until I found other work.”
“I’m sure Dean would really appreciate having them closer. I mean, if you were in this school district, he could see them all the time without dealing with traffic.” Steve crossed his arms over his chest. “Not that that should influence your decision at all.”
Castiel ducked his head. “It has, a bit. He and I ended up at the same restaurant the other night, so we ate dinner together and then went on a walk… talking about the past made me realize how much I’ve changed, and how much I hate the new version. And I miss him, Steve, but if I went back to him like this, nothing would change.”
Steve nodded. “Sam and I talk a lot about how good you two were together when it worked. We see him all the time, but I have to admit that I miss having you over as well. You know you’re always welcome… you and the kids. Lord knows Sam would spend as much time as possible with the twins. He has the spare bedroom designed especially for them, and they’ve only stayed over once!”
He couldn’t help but laugh about that. It didn’t really surprise him — Sam and Dean had always been close as brothers, so it made sense that Sam would want to be just as close with his niece and nephew. “I think he’s just wanting kids of his own and compensating.”
“Probably. Unfortunately adoption is a long and steady process, so who knows when the right situation will appear.”
When Castiel got home that night, all he could think about was the fact that Sam and Steve were working on adopting a kid together. It made him think back to his own plans of doing the same thing, back when the kids were about eight. He hadn’t ever mentioned it to Dean, but a couple people at his job had adopted or had new babies and he’d gotten a bit of baby fever and looked into the process. As an only child, he had always wanted a big family with a bunch of little ones running around, and yes, they could have used a surrogate again, but with so many children looking for homes, it had seemed like a very selfish idea.
Unfortunately, right around the time when he was working up the nerve to talk to Dean about the whole thing, his father signed on a new big-name client and suddenly he went from working forty hours a week to sixty, and he soon realized that it would also be selfish to adopt a child, just to have a nanny raise the poor thing.
Laying in bed that night, he ignored all of the new messages waiting in his inbox and pulled up a real estate website, looking at four bedroom homes in the area surrounding Steve’s school. The twins had walked away from Tony’s classroom both adamant that they wanted to attend that school. And he was done denying them, so he already planned to call the school the next day and work on getting them enrolled. Of course, it would mean driving them across the city for a few weeks, since no bus would go that far, but it would be worth it, if Jack never felt the type of exclusion he had been feeling at Central Christian.
It was nearing ten, and he was looking at photos from a contemporary home that he really liked, when his phone buzzed from the bedside table. Castiel leaned over, spotting a picture of Dean and the twins and immediately smiling, as he grabbed the phone and hit the answer button. “Hello, Dean.”
“Cas. Sorry for calling so late, but I had to work overtime, unloading one of the late ferries for a guy whose wife had a baby.”
“Oh, I remember those days.”
“Right?” He could hear the smile in Dean’s voice. “Sleepless nights and drowning in bottles.”
Dean chuckled. “Speaking of kids, I got an interesting photo from my brother. Did you guys spend the evening over at his place?”
“Yes. I meant to call you, but the last few days have been hectic. Both of the twins have decided that the Academy is not the right school for them this year. So we’ve been touring a variety of places and I think they’ve settled on going to the one where Steve teaches.”
There was an audible gasp on the other end of the line. “You’re kidding me.”
“Nope. We toured it this evening and they fell in love with the science teacher and made me promise to enroll them there. So I have a meeting tomorrow with the principal.”
“Cas,” Dean said, “That’s a long ways away from your apartment.”
“It is. Which is probably why I’m spending my evening looking at homes in the Beacon Hill area.”
“Houses. With yards. I found this really awesome one that also has a downstairs area… originally it was for a separate apartment, but I’m wondering if it could be converted easily into a daycare.”
“I’m changing, Dean. It’s time. I can’t be this person anymore. I can’t keep missing out on my kids growing up.”
“Sounds amazing,” Dean whispered, voice cut off by a yawn.
“You must be exhausted. I should let you go… my meeting at the school is first thing.”
“I’m proud of you, Cas.”
“Thanks, Dean. Goodnight.”
“G’night,” Dean mumbled. “Love ya.”
Castiel fell asleep with a smile on his face, and the next morning, he went to the school and got the kids enrolled, before spending most of the day touring homes with a realtor. He was one of those people that when he got an idea in his head — an idea he really liked — he wasn’t going to put off chasing after it just in case things might go wrong. If he could find a house that he fell in love with, then he would move forward with making an offer… it was as simple as that.
The hardest part, unfortunately, was going to be telling his father that he was quitting, and opening up his own business. He was worried, just a little bit, about the transition from a high paying job to one that was definitely not going to make even half of that salary, until he realized that doing some simple accounting from home would help tie the ends together in a perfect bow.
He could make it work.
He would make it work.
His family’s happiness depended on it.
Chapter warning for a panic attack involving a bdsm scene gone wrong.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was maybe because he had spent some time with Steve and Sam and learned how much the kids enjoyed staying with their uncles, that Castiel was able to drop the twins off there the following weekend for a sleepover. Which left him free on an unexpected Saturday night. He thought about Dean, for just a second, wondering what his ex would be doing at that particular moment, before he shook off the thoughts and opened his laptop to check nearby events hosted by his favorite BDSM group that were happening that night. He didn’t get to play a lot, thanks to wanting to spend his weekends with the kids. Usually, when the twins were with Dean or his parents, he would try to find an event, but the timing never worked out right.
When he saw a posting about a masquerade party happening at one of the local clubs, he felt a shiver run down his spine. He was a vetted member, so he could get in without needing an RSVP, and he had the perfect outfit thanks to a similar party that he missed out on the year before. It was the perfect thing to get his mind off of his ex.
Even if he still loved Dean — and he did — he hadn’t been crazy when he overheard Sam and Steve talking about Dean having a date that weekend. Which, late night sleepy love declarations aside, meant Dean was moving forward without remaining hung up on their marriage, and Cas could do the same.
Unfortunately it really had been a while since he played (or got laid), so his personal grooming routine had fallen a bit to the wayside. Castiel grumbled a bit, then spent a few precious Saturday afternoon hours cleaning himself up and then doing a proper ‘manscaping’ of his pubes. He wasn’t necessarily looking to have sex at the party, but one of his favorite acts was cock warming, and he wouldn’t feel right asking someone to warm his cock with untamed hairs tickling their noses.
Once he was well groomed, he stepped into his walk-in closet and started searching for his black-on-black suit and masquerade mask. The suit was hanging in the very back of his closet, mask string wrapped around the hanger. He still absolutely loved the mask — it was a sparkling silver, with black rimmed openings for the eyes, and jagged black lines spreading out over the mask, making it look a bit like black lightning strikes.
He got dressed, omitting any underwear (who needed it?) and on second thought, also leaving off the suit jacket. Staring at his reflection in the mirror, he rolled the sleeves up on his black dress shirt, then remembered going on a date with Dean, where his husband had leaned across the center console in the car and flicked a few buttons open at the neck of his shirt. He did the same to the shirt he was currently wearing, smiling at the memory, and went in search of his favorite cologne.
The party had been going for about thirty minutes when Castiel finally arrived. He gave his info at the door and smiled when he recognized one of the main moderators of the group. He chatted a bit with the woman, before letting her get back to checking everyone in. Since he didn’t have a particular person he was there to meet and play with, he spent a bit of time wandering around the entire club and watching a few of the performances happening. As he got farther towards the back, he spotted a group mingling around a scene and curiosity got the best of him, so he moved up to get a good view of what was happening.
In the center of the group, a submissive man was naked (except for his mask) and bent forward over a breeding bench. The sub’s arms were pulled behind his back and tied at the wrist, and he already had a few red welts on his ass, thanks to his dom playmate using a flogger on him.
The man was beautiful, whimpering and moaning with every strike. Castiel felt his cock twitching a bit in his pants, and he watched for another moment before feeling a bit uncomfortable as a voyeur of the scene. There was something about the sub that was getting to him. Maybe it was the noises, or maybe it was the way that the black mask landed on tan skin and made the man look a bit like Batman.
He turned away, finding his way toward the booths along one of the side walls, where numerous submissives waited patiently on their knees, ready to service dominants with their mouths. He grabbed a condom from a nearby bowl, before sitting down in front of one of the young men and undoing his pants.
“Hello sir,” the sub said, brown eyes blinking up under long lashes. “May I please suck your cock?”
Later, after a somewhat satisfactory blowjob, Castiel found himself walking back towards where he had seen the Batman sub. Curiosity killed the cat, he mused to himself. Even still, he walked back in that direction and wasn’t surprised to see that they had moved to a large cushioned platform. The sub was now on his back, cock secured in a metal cock cage, and the dom was obviously preparing him for sex, three fingers deep already and cock sheathed in a condom.
Without his own lust creating a distraction, Castiel found it easy to lean against a nearby wall and watch what was happening. A part of him wished that he could see more of the sub’s face, but the Batman mask covered everything but puffy pink lips, and he couldn’t see eyes from his current position. Nevertheless, he could enjoy enough of the view to get by and be happy. Especially when three fingers were replaced by a cock and suddenly those lips were parting on a gasp and a groan. Beautiful.
He watched, more focused on the sub than the dom, fascinated by the taut pull of muscles when a head dipped back, exposing the sub’s neck. Apparently the dom was just as focused on that spot, because a moment later, a large hand was moving up and wrapping around the sub’s exposed neck. Castiel knew that breathplay was a big kink for a lot of people, but he had personally never been a fan. Something about the idea of holding someone’s life in his hands was too overwhelming for him… too much for it to be a sexualized thing in his mind.
Part of him wanted to walk away, but something about the sub’s reaction to his breath being cut off, made Castiel stay put. It wasn’t his first event, so he had definitely seen both the good and the bad side of BDSM. And when the dominant player started to close his hand just a little tighter around his sub’s neck, the sub began to jerk and freak out. An arm flailed, pushing at the dom’s shoulder — and when that didn’t cause the man to immediately pull away, a fist connected with a jaw. The dom jerked back, pulling his cock free and stepping a few feet away, one hand moving up to hold his jaw.
“What the fuck!” The man growled. “Listen, bitch—”
Castiel’s feet were already taking him towards the spot where the submissive still laid, entire body shaking. He barely noticed other people stepping up to keep the dom from lashing out… because as soon as he was a foot away from the sub, the man sat up on the bench and tore his mask off, dropping it to the floor with a shaking hand.
Castiel saw tears in familiar green eyes, and felt his heart pull. He closed the space, but didn’t reach out to touch. Not yet. “Dean,” he whispered, voice soft and calm. He could recognize that his ex was in the middle of a full-fledged panic attack, and it was something he had calmed Dean down from before… numerous times. “Sweetheart, it’s Cas. You’re okay. Listen to my voice, alright? Focus on me.” He edged closer. “I’m going to lay my hand on your knee. Focus on my touch.”
Dean jerked a bit, at the first touch of Castiel’s hand on his knee, but a moment later he was slumping forward, entire body falling into Castiel’s arms as he began to sob. Castiel held him close, gladly accepting a soft blanket from one of the club workers who had recognized a bad situation taking place, and could obviously see that Cas was doing his best to help. He wrapped the blanket around Dean’s naked shoulders and kissed his temple. “You’re okay. You’re right here with me. I’ve got you.”
They stayed just like that for a long time, then the woman that Cas had chatted with at the club entrance moved up to them and whispered in Castiel’s ear that they had cleared out a private room for him. He nodded, looking towards where she was pointing, before focusing back on Dean. He lifted the other man’s chin and caught his gaze. “Can you walk, sweetheart? There’s a room in the back where we can curl up and people can leave us alone, okay?” He pointed out the room, but Dean didn’t respond verbally. He did, however, step down off of the platform and hold onto Castiel as they walked through the crowd to the room.
When they got in the room, he wasn’t surprised to see a pile of Dean’s clothing waiting for them — the staff knew what they were doing — but he ignored the clothes for the moment, focusing instead on closing the door behind them, and sitting on a comfy couch with a blanket wrapped Dean in his arms. There were fewer tears at that point, but still a lot of shaking, so Cas hummed a soft melody and gently rocked them both from side to side, as Dean continued to calm down.
His watch told him that they had been in the room for over an hour, when a soft voice finally asked, “Cas?”
“Yes. I’m here.”
“What happened? Did they call you? I don’t— I don’t understand.”
He watched Dean sit up, pulling out of Cas’ arms and looking around the small room in confusion. Cas got it. He hadn’t ever thought to explore the BDSM lifestyle until after the divorce, when he was trying to sooth his broken heart and had stumbled upon a part of himself he didn’t know he needed. “I was here, actually.” He realized suddenly that he was still wearing his mask, and reached up to pull it down so the string hung around his neck. “The children are at your brother’s, so I had a night to myself and saw the group was having a party. I kept seeing you… and something about the submissive I was seeing, kept drawing me in.”
Dean shuddered a bit. “What did he do to me? I don’t remember…”
“Ah yes. Breathplay. I don’t think he was intending to do something so outrageously wrong, but he definitely fucked up. He followed his instincts and did what he wanted, without realizing that you hadn’t agreed upon that particular kink. When he cut off your airway, you panicked.”
“I thought I was dying,” Dean whispered, staring down at his hands. “I thought I wouldn’t see my family again.”
Castiel reached out, grasping one of Dean’s hands and squeezing it. “You’re okay now. And I’m sure that dom will get a stern lecture from the people in charge about do’s and don'ts.”
“I just wanna go home,” Dean mumbled. His voice was heavy with emotion, and Castiel almost expected him to cry again. “Please take me home.”
“Alright, sweetheart. Your clothes are right here, okay? Let’s get you dressed, and we’ll get out of here.”
As soon as they left the club, Castiel worried about what would happen if Dean hit some kind of subdrop while alone. He knew immediately that he couldn’t just drop Dean off at his own apartment and expect him to be okay on his own. So after driving Dean home in the rusty pick-up that Dean had loved for years and Castiel (surprisingly) still had a key for, he followed his ex up the stairs to his apartment.
Cas had been in the parking lot of the complex before, but had never been inside Dean’s apartment, so he was a bit surprised when he was greeted first by a shaggy looking dog… and then by the sight of numerous photos of their family hanging on the wall.
“He needs to pee,” Dean mumbled, voice heavy with sleep.
“Go get in bed. I’ll take him out and be right back, okay?” Dean didn’t respond, but he also didn’t argue as he went wandering down the hall towards what Castiel presumed were the bedrooms. He quickly took Rufus — the dog that his children were absolutely in love with, despite his old man features — out to pee, and then went back upstairs and locked the door behind himself. He kicked his shoes off in the foyer, gave another last longing look at the images of his family on the wall, and ignored the dog going off to lay on a doggy pillow in favor of finding his way to Dean’s bedroom. Dean was sprawled on the bed, wearing his boxers and a pair of socks, already snoring lightly.
Castiel stripped out of his suit pants and button down, making sure to fold them nicely on Dean’s dresser, before he put his black socks on top and moved to the bed. He pulled Dean’s socks off and tossed them aside, then struggled for a moment to pull the blankets out from under the other man. Once he had, he laid down next to his husband and pulled the blankets up over both of their bodies… smiling softly as he snuggled close to the man he loved.
It was about six the next morning when Castiel felt Dean startle awake. He let the sleep clear from his head, watching silently for a moment as Dean sat up on the edge of the bed, before he finally sat up as well, sliding his body up against Dean’s back and kissing his bare shoulder.
“If you’re having a bad time right now, it’s going to be best to talk it out. I know it’s hard, but if you ignore these feelings, it’ll change all of your future experiences in a negative way.”
Dean turned, pulling one knee up onto the bed so that he was facing Castiel. The sun had just started to raise and lighten the sky, and though the blinds were shut, the room was still light enough that it was easy to see Dean’s face. His ex didn’t look nearly as upset as Castiel expected. Actually… he looked quite normal, if a little bit confused.
“You know a lot about this stuff,” Dean finally said. “How long—”
Castiel rearranged a pillow and sat back against the headboard. “I mean… it’s not news that we were having issues in the bedroom, right? I know you were unhappy. I kept struggling with my own problems. I thought…” he ducked his head for a moment, “I thought that I wouldn’t be any good at anything other than what we had done. You were my first back then, and you were always so confident in bed. I never felt that confidence. Sex wasn’t something that my family ever discussed, and any kind of pornography was obviously frowned upon. I’m pretty sure my parents have always slept in separate rooms. So how was I supposed to take that upbringing and channel it into wanting to be in charge in the bedroom? I didn’t know how. I didn’t even know how to voice it, when I wanted to top. I just thought I would fuck it up and you would leave me. Then years went by and the insecurities were like a nagging voice in the back of my head, and eventually I realized that we had fallen into some mundane sexual situation and it had to change. Unfortunately, I didn’t figure out how to embrace any other part of myself until after the divorce. At that point, I started researching different things, testing out what I enjoyed. I went to a few dinners with a group, then I went to a few parties… always watching and learning. Finally, I realized I wanted to be in charge. I wanted to embrace that part of myself.”
It was a lot, Castiel knew, but he needed to be honest with Dean. Changing his opinions sexually had been the first step in a long line of turning into a new man, now he was ready to find a new career and move his kids into a happier situation. He was ready to open up to the only man he’d ever loved.
Dean turned a little more, so that they were both sitting on the bed facing each other, knees touching. “So you have a partner.”
“No. I never… I never wanted anyone, other than you, on a permanent basis. The few times I’ve played at parties, I just meet up with various single subs and we play for a scene. It’s hard, because it’s hard to be in that situation without really knowing your partner, but I couldn’t open myself up to something more.”
“I thought that’s what I wanted,” Dean whispered, eyes falling to his lap. “But after last night…”
“That is one of the issues with it. Situations like that happen more often when two partners don’t know everything about each other. That dom got in over his head with lust and didn’t realize that he was crossing a line that he hadn’t talked about beforehand with his partner.” Castiel reached out, laying his hand on Dean’s knee and brushing his thumb over soft skin. “It isn’t supposed to be like that.”
“I miss you.”
“Yeah,” Castiel nodded. “I know that too.”
Dean moved forward, crawling a bit so that he was straddling Castiel’s lap, wrapping his arms around Cas and dropping his head onto his shoulder. “I can’t keep doing this, Cas. I miss my family. I miss coming home from work and the kids being there to talk about their day. I miss laying in bed at night and talking with you about the past. Curling against you and smelling that damn grapefruit body wash that I always hated but would give anything to smell again…”
Castiel placed a kiss on Dean’s neck, hands brushing up and down his back. “I put the apartment up for sale. I have an offer in on a house in Beacon Hill. I’m not… I’m quitting my job. I want to be a happier person, Dean, and being happy wasn’t a penthouse in Bellevue and an eighty-hour-a-week job. Being happy was you and Jack and Emma. I’m willing to get back to us, but there are things that both of us need to do to make it work. Counseling, maybe. I know that talking out everything from the past would help.”
Sitting back so that he was perched on his knees, Dean chuckled a bit. “I actually have maybe been doing that?”
“What?” Cas frowned. “Seeing a counselor?”
“Yeah. A friend of mine — one of the guys I work with on the ferry — he kinda has a similar background. Went to college on a football scholarship and then fucked up his leg and wasn’t able to play again. We’ve talked a lot about how hard it was to move past that idea of having your future planned out and then something disrupting those plans. He said right after his injury, talking with his therapist about how to move forward was a lot of help. It got him through being an angry asshole for a while. Something about my big burly friend opening up to being in therapy, made me realize that I could do it too. That therapy wasn’t a bad word.”
Castiel couldn’t help himself… he was so relieved and happy about Dean’s improvements, that he leaned forward to kiss the other man. “You’ve come so far, sweetheart,” he mumbled against Dean’s lips.
Dean kissed him back for a moment, before leaning back again and getting serious. “There is one other thing.”
“I’ve had some serious hangups in the past regarding money. That is one of the big things that both my therapist and Sam have hassled me about. I was always so pissed off about that damn school… I felt like it was a bad reflection of me and my childhood, that anything less than a fancy private school wouldn’t create a good child.”
Castiel reached out and grabbed Dean’s hand. “I have a confession. Something I’ve been holding onto for way too long, and I can’t keep letting it break us like this…” He swallowed, looking away and feeling like shit. “The school was a requirement from my father. Something demanded of him, if I wanted to keep in his good graces. He was… fuck, he never approved of you. Never approved of me being gay. When we decided we wanted kids, he was furious. We had this big argument with him yelling about how the kids would never amount to anything if they were yours. God… he’s such a fucking asshole. I was so pissed, I wanted to just tell him to shove his opinions up his ass, but he threatened to fire me, if I didn’t swear to give the kids the best of everything. You had just gotten hurt, and we were looking at houses… I didn’t know how to survive without that job.”
The room was quiet for a bit, but Dean didn’t move away. Eventually, he squeezed Cas’ hand. “My brother is right. Despite my own issues with the place… the kids have gotten an amazing education up until this point. Something that I could have never dreamt of getting as a child. They’re smart beyond belief, and we owe part of that to that damn school… but most of it to you, because you were always looking out for them.”
“Being a dad is the one thing I’m good at.”
“Now… that can’t possibly be true.” Dean leaned forward for another kiss. “I have a feeling you’re pretty good at a few other things.”
For the first time since he had met Dean… Castiel got to experience what it was like to open the other man up and watch the sheer bliss on Dean’s face while Cas fucked into him. It was… everything. He was a bit sad that he had let his own personal shortcomings keep him from being able to experience it before. But the past was in the past, and as he kissed along Dean’s neck and made love to his best friend, he realized that the whole morning had focused on putting the past behind them and moving forward.
They spent Saturday morning (post-sex) having breakfast and being lazy. Sam texted at one point and said the twins wanted to know about staying an extra night — something about a very long and intense Monopoly game — so Castiel didn’t feel any real need to rush off and do anything. Instead, he enjoyed getting to spend quiet time with Dean, the way they hadn’t in so long.
They went out to eat at a local ramen joint that Dean swore by, then took Rufus on an extended walk around Dean’s neighborhood. By dark, they were back at Dean’s apartment and relaxing on the couch watching a movie. Castiel couldn’t help himself though, and he started talking about Dean’s interest in BDSM. They discussed likes and dislikes, talking long after the movie ended, and at one point when Cas mentioned cock-warming, he couldn’t help but grin at the visible shiver that ran over Dean.
Exploration was something they should have been doing for a long time.
An hour later, they were back in Dean’s bedroom, and Castiel was holding a silk tie in one hand and staring at a naked Dean on the bed. “Are you sure?”
“Yes.” Dean wiggled his body up to the headboard and grasped two of the wooden bars. “I need to get beyond that bad experience. And I trust you more than I trust anyone else in this world.”
Castiel straddled Dean’s upper torso and began wrapping the silk around his wrists. “Tell me your safeword.”
Cas smiled, securing his knot and tucking the end piece into Dean’s hand, so that if he needed to, he could tug on it and loosen the entire thing. “If you start thinking about Marley’s in Moscow during sex, I’m going to tease you for life.”
“World’s best pie,” Dean answered with a smirk.
Castiel kissed the tip of his nose. “I love you.”
“Love you too,” Dean replied.
“Now… we’re going to do some orgasm denial. This’ll be tough, okay? It takes a bit of time to get used to the sensitivity, so don’t be afraid to ask me to slow down or pause for a moment, alright?”
“Yes.” Dean wiggled for a moment, then smiled, “I’m ready.”
Dean was fairly certain that at some point he had fallen into a coma and he was currently living out his dream life. It seemed almost impossible that things had played out the way they had — randomly running into Castiel at the BDSM club after he had a bad time, actually discussing their issues instead of ignoring them, and then spending a weekend in bed exploring a whole new side of each other… It had all been awesome. When Cas had recommended that they go on a few ‘official’ dates over the next few weeks, Dean had wholeheartedly agreed.
He was his best when he was with his family.
They hadn’t discussed whether or not to tell the kids, but it didn’t make much difference because apparently the twins knew right away when Cas picked them up. He had texted Dean that evening with a simple ’apparently I’m glowing’ and Dean hadn’t been able to stop his laughter. He understood, because he felt the same way.
On top of the world.
He spent the next month expecting the house of cards to topple and things to go badly. When he mentioned those exact words to his therapist, she laughed. ’You don’t spend hours discussing previous issues without causing a foundation to build itself, Dean. Maybe that house of cards is pretty stable.’
When Castiel called, asking Dean to help them move into their new house, Dean knew she was probably right about that, just like she was with everything else.
He loved the new house… it wasn’t exactly fancy, but it was completely renovated and updated inside with wood floors, new counters, and fancy appliances. It also had a completely fenced back yard that the kids and Rufus immediately took a shine to. And as Dean helped Cas set up his master bedroom, Cas kissed him gently and tucked a house key in Dean’s jean pocket.
Date nights turned into nights over turned into Dean having his own drawer. Rufus moved permanently to Castiel’s house when Jack got sick with the flu one week and demanded that the puppy get to stay and cuddle with him.
On Halloween, Dean and Cas were trailing along behind the kids as they trick-or-treated for what was probably going to be their last year (trick-or-treating as a 13 year old never seemed cool), when Dean squeezed Castiel’s hand and said, “My lease is up November 15th.”
“Good,” Castiel replied.
“Yeah. It seems like a waste to keep driving out to that place just to hold up some kind of pretense like you aren’t already living with us.”
Dean smiled, a bit speechless as they continued to walk.
Their first fight happened in December. Dean wasn’t really surprised that it revolved around money. The surprising part was that it was Dean wanting to spend money that Castiel didn’t approve of. It was a bit different, since Castiel was trying to get licensing to start an in-home daycare and no longer working for his father. Because he wasn’t working and was relying solely on money set aside in savings, he had become a bit more worried about spending.
That all being said… Dean had been planning for months (long before he and Cas got back together) to spend the Christmas holiday with Steve and Sam at a cabin in Aspen. He still wanted to go, but he also wanted his family to go with him. He couldn’t imagine spending the holiday without the kids, now that he actually could be with them (usually Cas and the kids were with his parents during Christmas).
Castiel was worried about the expense of a last minute trip — flight prices were already outrageous that time of year, and getting them two weeks before was going to make it worse — but Dean had his own savings and wanted to foot the bill.
“But what if something happens? What if this whole business idea suddenly falls through and I’m stuck without work? We might need all the savings we have access to!”
Dean watched Cas pacing back and forth in the kitchen for a long moment, before a thought dawned on him. He stood from his spot at the table and walked over, wrapping his arms around Castiel’s waist and pinning him against the counter. “I’m sorry, love.”
“What?” Castiel looked up at him, more than a little confused.
Dean touched their foreheads together and explained. “I’m sorry that your parents have excluded you from their holidays this year. We both knew that your father would be upset when you quit… and I’m sure he’s none too happy about us being back together, either.”
“They haven’t even called,” Cas whispered, a sadness in his eyes.
“Holidays are for family. All I want is to spend Christmas with my entire family. I know you’re worried about things not working out with the business, but you have to remember that I have a job too, okay? The house is paid for, and we would survive just fine off of one income if we had to for a while.” He kissed the side of Cas’ lips. “Let me take care of you for once, eh?”
The kids loved Aspen. It wasn’t much of a surprise that Emma was a natural at snowboarding. For most of the week, they didn’t even see her, Steve, and Sam. Dean liked to appreciate the snow from afar… very afar. He spent most of the time in the cabin, playing cards with Cas and Jack. Wondering who taught his son to cheat at poker.
On Christmas morning, Dean woke up early and rolled over in bed to smile at Cas. He was in love… but then again, he had never really fallen out of love.
Reaching behind him to the bedside table, he grabbed the small metal band that he had placed there before he fell asleep, and brought it forward to look at for a moment. It was his wedding band, which he had worn for years… hell, even after the divorce. He had taken it into a shop, though, and had them change the size. Now, he lifted Castiel’s left hand and slipped the silver band onto Cas’ ring finger.
“What are you doing?” a sleepy voice asked him.
Dean smiled. “Asking you to marry me.”
Their first wedding had been an extravagant event, thanks to the Novak family. Dean had felt like an outsider at his own party and hated the majority of the thing. Dean and Cas really hadn’t had a say in any of the planning, so it wasn’t like the wedding was personalized for them. Even the attendees had been friends of the Novaks.
Their second wedding took place at a Seattle city courthouse. Where a Justice of the Peace wed them in front of their ‘official’ witnesses (Sam and Steve) and their favorite people… Jack and Emma.
Dean felt like he had gotten lucky for the second time in his life. Unfortunately, he also felt like a great big ball of nerves throughout the entire process. It was stupid, really, to be nervous about something that he had literally already done... but he had also fucked up royally last time. He didn’t want to do that again. Didn’t want to risk losing everything twice.
Which mostly meant that he spent the entirety of the wedding with a ball of nerves in his stomach, sweat on his palms, and probably fumbled over more words than he had in his life. When Cas leaned forward and kissed him, after a whisper of ‘I do’... suddenly the nerves were washing away and he was settling back into himself. Dean brushed the sweat from his hands and held onto his husband’s face for another kiss. He wouldn’t fuck up again. He wouldn’t. He was a better man than that and ready to prove it to his entire family.
As they walked out of the courthouse, Castiel’s hand clutched securely in his own, Sam reached out and stopped them right before they could get to the entry stairs. Steve and the twins were a little ways ahead, moving towards a crowd people watching a street performer.
“Here,” Sam said, holding out an envelope for them.
Dean frowned, reaching out to take the envelope from his brother. “What is this?”
“Steve and I talked to the kids and we decided you two deserve your own vacation.” Sam grinned. They hadn’t planned on doing an official honeymoon — since it was February and they had just gone on the vacation for Christmas. Apparently Sam had other plans. “Everyone deserves a honeymoon… even doops that decide to get married a second time. So we put together a trip for you.”
“But I have work,” Dean mumbled, flipping the envelope over and slowly tearing at the seal.
“I talked to Benny, and your boss, and everything is covered. And Cas, before you say anything, Charlie has already offered to cover for you as well. And Steve will step in when she needs help.”
Dean looked over at his husband in time to see Castiel rolling his eyes. A moment later, Dean pulled a paper from the envelope and quickly read over the information. “A cruise?”
“To Alaska?” Cas asked, reading over Dean’s shoulder.
“We figured even if it was too cold to really enjoy the scenery… you would probably be busy in bed anyways.”
Dean had a lot of reasons to thank his baby brother, but he never expected one such reason to be an all expenses paid trip to Alaska for a honeymoon. Even still, the whole thing was such a great idea that ‘thanks’ was never going to be enough.
A finger tapped gently on his cheek, causing Dean to blink his eyes open and look up at Castiel.
Cas frowned at him, “You’re thinking too hard and not paying attention. Do you need a spanking?”
Dean pulled back, letting Castiel’s soft cock gently slide from his mouth. “No, sir,” he stated, voice gentle. “I’m sorry, sir.”
“Get back to it, your punishment was forty minutes, wasn’t it? If you can’t concentrate, I can very easily extend that…”
He wrapped his mouth back around Cas’ cock and closed his eyes as he tried to slowly zone out and allow himself to give in to his master’s control. The time slipped by easily once he shut off his brain and focused solely on warming Castiel’s cock. A few minutes later, there was another tap and when Dean looked up, Cas brushed a soft hand over his cheek.
“You’re done, sweetheart.”
Dean pulled back, making sure to fix Castiel’s underwear before happily sliding up onto the sofa next to his husband. He snuggled up against Cas, moaning when he felt the gentle fingers brushing through his hair.
“Such a good pet,” Cas whispered.
They hadn’t went onto the cruise ship with the intentions of having ‘playtime’ while there, but had quickly realized how perfect of an opportunity it was to explore that side of themselves. When Dean had showed Castiel the cock cage that he had bought… it had set off a series of various scenes that they had played out together. Dean was definitely happy to settle into subspace when it was Castiel standing by as his dom.
“I love you,” Dean mumbled, snuggling a bit closer.
“I love you, too.” There was a momentary pause, before Cas finished, “I’m still not taking the cage off.”
Dean huffed, pulling back. “You’re the worst!”
“I’m the best, and you know it. Now, I’m still not opposed to issuing some well deserved spankings…”
Pouting, Dean laid back against him. “I’ll be good.”
Castiel sat on the bed in a Cambodian motel room and watched as the twins and Dean argued over a deck of cards. Well… Emma and Dean argued; Jack sat quietly, secretly reading a book beneath the table. They had just arrived the night before, and after breakfast and getting ready, had a couple hours to kill before a car would arrive for them. Because of the heat and rain outside… doing anything like taking a walk was out of the question. As soon as one would step out of the air conditioning of the hotel, the humidity hit and sweat would begin to pour.
Cas wasn’t a fan. And it definitely wasn’t his first pick for ‘family vacation’ but they were there for a very important reason.
It was July, and school had been out for a week, so Castiel had left his very busy daycare business in the capable hands of Charlie, one of his assistant teachers, and Steve… who was excited to spend some time playing with little ones, while also seeing his and Sam’s daughter Aria as much as possible.
He looked back to the twins, surprised — like always — to realize how old they were getting. They would be fourteen in a few months. Holy fuck.
From the table between the hotel rooms two beds, his phone dinged with an alarm. He reached over for it, swiping the screen to turn the alarm off, before looking back over to Dean and the twins, who were all three watching him. “The car will be downstairs in ten minutes.”
Dean nodded, clapping his hands together and looking over at Jack and Emma. “Let’s get our act together, shall we? Any necessary trips to the bathroom should be taken now. Jack, don’t forget your motion sickness pill. Socks? Shoes? Let’s do this thing.”
Ten minutes later they were all four standing at the front entrance of the hotel. Cas hooked his pinky in Dean’s and tried not to groan. “This weather is shit.”
“I will take a rainy Seattle over this mess any day,” Dean agreed.
A van pulled up, looking a little worse for wear, and the man from the agency that they had met over Skype and the day before in his office, stepped out. “Winchesters! Good morning. How is everyone?”
The man — who looked more like a kid — was actually American, but had moved to Cambodia after receiving his Master's degree at an early age. ’I wanted to help people, more than I could back home,’ he had said the day before.
“Morning, Kevin.” Dean greeted, shaking Mr. Tran’s hand. He opened the side door of the van to let the kids climb in the back, placing a hand on Castiel’s back as he climbed in first to the middle seat. “We're all a bit anxious, I think."
“And sweaty!” Emma called from the back of the van.
Mr. Tran laughed, “Welcome to Cambodia.”
While they road through town, Dean had his arm stretched across the space between the two seats, holding on tightly to Castiel’s hand. It was something that had happened more and more often since they got remarried… Dean used to be very self-conscious about touching and public displays of affection, but he had suddenly became more confident with himself and a lot more tactile. Castiel couldn’t find a reason to complain about it.
“When is your flight home?” Mr. Tran asked, eyes glancing briefly up into the rearview mirror.
“Monday. We’re stopping over in Japan for a few days though, before going home,” Cas answered. “We decided that if we were going to make such a long trip, we were going to get the most out of it.”
“Japan is definitely worth the time. We finalized everything with Sophea’s passports today, so those will be a part of the rest of your packet you receive today.”
Castiel felt his heart skip a beat at the mention of their new daughter’s name. Talk about adopting had happened pretty quickly after they arrived home from their honeymoon. They knew that they both wanted to expand their family, and ultimately decided that adoption was a much better option than finding another surrogate. Especially when Steve and Sam brought home Aria, the two-year-old girl they had adopted out of foster care.
They had spent a couple of months talking with lawyers and figuring out the best country to adopt from, before finally settling on Cambodia. It was mostly a game of tossing a coin and seeing which country ended up on top.
Dean leaned over, nose nuzzling against Castiel’s neck before he whispered, “Nervous?”
Castiel smiled and raised his left hand, rocking it back and forth where Dean could see. He was… but only a little. He was mostly nervous that something was going to go wrong at the very last minute. He had done so much research over the course of the whole process, that he had read way too many horror stories about things falling apart when the couple went to pick up their new son or daughter.
“We’re here,” Mr. Tran announced happily, pulling the van up to the orphanage. The group unloaded over the next couple of minutes, before following Mr. Tran into the orphanage main office.
One of the main arguments in the family while they were going through everything… was whether to adopt a boy or a girl. Emma had won that argument by simply claiming she was ‘outnumbered’ and deserved a sister. The funny part being that Emma wasn’t exactly ‘girly’, so it wasn’t like she planned on spending her time playing dress-up with her new sister. She just wanted someone on her side in arguments.
Cas continued to hold onto Dean’s hand as they walked through the building into one of the large family meeting rooms. Mr. Tran motioned for the four of them to have a seat, before saying that he would be back in just a moment.
Castiel watched Dean’s knee bouncing, counting the seconds in his mind based on each movement. Eventually, the door clicked open again and they all looked up to watch as Mr. Tran walked back in carrying Sophea… the five month old little girl that they had officially adopted. Cas had mostly prepared himself to expect shyness, probably a little crying… but what he wasn’t expecting was for Sophea to look around the room curiously.
Dean jumped from his seat, letting go of Castiel’s hand for the first time since they walked in the building. He moved slowly, closing the space to where Kevin Tran stood. “Hey, Soph,” Dean whispered. “It’s so good to see you, sweetheart. Such a beautiful little thing, aren’t you?” Dean held his arms out to the girl, a little tentative, Cas noticed, and waited patiently as she looked back and forth between Dean and Mr. Tran for a moment. Finally, she clapped her hands together and reached out for Dean.
Snuggling the girl a bit, Dean carried her back over to sit down next to Castiel. “This is your new papa, Soph. He’s a good guy — a little stinky when he eats garlic though. And those two over there?” Dean pointed to Emma and Jack. “Those are your new best friends. They’re going to spoil you rotten and love you through everything.”
Castiel laid his head on Dean’s shoulder and reached a finger out for Sophea to hold with her small chubby hand. “Hello, baby girl. Look at those pretty eyes. Gonna break some hearts and drive daddy mad, aren’t you?”
Traveling with an infant was still the nightmare that it had been fourteen years earlier. Thankfully, Sophea was mostly a happy baby. She fussed a bit when she was hungry or uncomfortable, but spent a large amount of her time snuggling with one of the four of them. Surprisingly… mostly Dean. She had definitely already picked a favorite and was working quickly to get Dean wrapped around her finger.
They spent a week exploring Tokyo as a family — visiting museums, seeing the sights, trying weird-as-fuck foods (Dean’s words) — then boarded the plane for home. Sam and Steve had requested the opportunity to plan a ‘welcome’ party for Sophea, but since jet lag hit them hard and fast, the party ended up being postponed for an entire month.
Aria was infatuated with her new cousin and spent the majority of the party bringing her toys to Sophea, trying to get the infant to care about horses and trains as much as she did. Steve continued to prove that he was some sort of baby whisperer… it took him fifteen minutes of holding onto Soph, before she was falling asleep in his large arms.
Sam found Dean on the back porch, hiding away from the goings-on of the air-conditioned house. “Hey. You okay?” He held out a beer as an offering, which Dean took and swallowed a bit of slowly.
“Just thinking about life.”
Sam nodded. “Big subject. Any particular aspect?”
“I never thought I’d get here,” Dean responded. “I never thought I would make it to this level of happiness. Even before… the first time I was married to Cas? Everything was always a ‘responsibility’ and never really a joy. But now? It’s so fucking cliche but I feel like the luckiest man—”
“I had my doubts about you two for a bit. I knew that you were good together at first, but after the divorce I couldn’t really see a universe where everything worked out. My best wish was always that you would just find something new that would make you happy.” Sam turned, leaning his back against the porch railing and staring through the glass doors into the house. “It won’t always be this easy, or this perfect, but I think you’re right. You’re a lucky man.”
There was a pause, before Sam laughed and used his elbow to nudge Dean’s arm. “Also?” Sam said, pointing towards the patio door. “I’m not the only one that went looking for you.”
Dean turned, a smile lighting up his face when he noticed that Sophea had crawled over to the door and was pressed up against the glass watching them. He left his beer on the porch rail and walked over to the door to open it.
“Hey princess,” he whispered, picking the girl up. “Did you have a good nap? Daddy loves you.”