Chapter 1: Entry Interview Sam Winchester
OFF-CAMERA: So, Sam, can you tell us a little bit about your brother and why you nominated him?
SAM: Umm, he’s not gonna see this until after the week is over, right?
OFF-CAMERA: No worries, you can say whatever you want to say.
SAM: Okay. Okay. Well, my brother. My brother is an amazing person and he has like, literally saved the world more than once. But he’s also the biggest idiot on the planet? I’ve tried for years to hammer this into his brain but he just doesn’t believe that he deserves good things to happen to him. So he drowns all his feelings and pretends that he doesn’t have them. Only, they’re like, leaking out at every corner? I mean, you’re gonna meet Cas, you’re gonna see what I mean. In any case, it’s become unsustainable. And not only for him, for the rest of us as well. Something needs to be done.
OFF-CAMERA: So what do you hope for for this week?
SAM: Frankly? That Dean finally gets his shit together. That he sees that it’s okay to - you know, not even be out and proud - but that if you love someone that it’s okay to tell them that. And to, you know, show the world who you are? Yeah. That. That’s what I hope for. Oh, and that he doesn’t kill me for doing this. I hope that, too.
Chapter 2: Day 1 - Grim(oire) Housing
“You gotta be kidding me.”
For a second, Dean’s eyes glow in the light of the bunker in a way that makes Sam wonder whether he’s turning into a demon again. Though really, human-Dean already has the ability to kill him and the camera team and the Fab 5 without breaking a sweat, so Sam isn’t even sure it’s going to make a difference.
“We’re going to need a second,” he tells the camera crew and flashes them his best fake smile before bodily dragging Dean to the corner of the room, where hopefully they are out of earshot.
Cas and Jack follow their track with their eyes, expressions vaguely worried, but make no attempt at coming closer. And yeah, if Sam had a choice, he’d choose not to get closer to Dean right now, too.
“Want to explain to me why there is a pride parade in our library, Sam? A pride parade with cameras ?” Dean asks, voice dark and dangerous.
“Because,” Sam answers, because really he has no idea how to explain this to Dean. “Please, Dean? Just roll with it? For me?” He gives his brother his best puppy-dog-eyes, hoping that something of his childhood superpower might still be left over.
“DON’T!” Dean suddenly shouts and runs forward, almost running Sam over in the process, and ripping a book out of Antoni’s hands. “DON’T YOU FUCKING DARE TOUCH THE BOOKS!”
He yells it loud enough that everyone in the room freezes.
“They are, umm, originals,” Sam hastens to explain and takes a second grimoire that looks like Tan had just been about to start reading from to the camera back. “Please don’t touch them.”
“Also, probably don’t read from them, either. At least not if you have a decent pronunciation in Latin,” Cas says matter-of-factly.
“What?” Tan asks confused.
“Never mind,” Sam jumps in. “I told Bobby already, it’s totally fine to make over Dean’s room, but the library stays untouched. So do all the storage rooms.”
“Ohhh, what a dominant tone,” Jonathan says and starts fanning himself.
“What?” This time it is Sam who is stumped.
“MY ROOM?” Dean explodes. “We’re making over MY ROOM?”
“Yes, we are, honey,” Jonathan smiles and boops Dean in the chest. “Because if your room is as depressing as this room, it’s no wonder that you never managed to find the courage to ask for a date.” He looks Dean over critically. “Cause it's not your looks, hun. A little rough around the edges but such a good canvas to work with! And the freckles are downright adorable!”
Dean bats at Jonathan’s hands when Jonathan tries to turn his face towards the light to see the freckles better. “Sam!” he hollers. “What the fuck?”
“Just roll with it, Dean. Please,” Sam repeats. Then he turns back to the camera crew. “I can show you the way if you want to already be in Dean’s room when he leads Bobby in.”
“Well, actually,” the producer says. “At this point it would be customary to leave us alone with the nominated person.”
“NOOO!!” And that’s a triple shout from Sam, Dean and Cas. Only Jack looks confusedly from one to the other.
“No way. You’re not leaving me alone with these clowns,” Dean repeats.
“I agree,” Cas nods. “I’m not leaving Dean alone with these strangers.” And if Cas could smite anyone still, this would probably be the moment where he’d start with it.
“I did a background check!” Sam hurries to assure. “They’re all clean.”
“What?” That comes from the Fab 5 and their crew, who have started muttering among each other.
“Standard safety procedure,” Sam grimaces. “Don’t think anything of it.”
“Uhh, secrets.” Jonathan draws the word out like he’s tasting a particularly lovely piece of chocolate. Or piece of whatever it is that Jonathan usually likes to taste. “Are you secret service agents or something?”
“Or something,” Dean grumps.
“Oh, honey,” Jonathan’s face crumples up in sympathy, “we got some work to do with you, don’t we?”
“Let’s move this over to Dean’s room, shall we?” Sam interferes before Dean can punch anyone. “Cas, stay with Dean please?”
“I will,” Cas growls and yes, growls is exactly the right term for it.
“Jealous much, girl?” Jonathan’s eyebrows rise.
“And Jack, if you could offer our guests some refreshments? Make a new pot of coffee if you can manage?” Sam talks right over Jonathan because if this spirals, it’s gonna be nasty. And Sam would very much like for all of them to make it out of this week alive, thank you very much.
“They’re not really guests, though, are they?” Jack says with a philosophical tilt of his head. It is uncanny how much it reminds him of Cas a decade ago, though Sam definitely doesn’t feel any of the awe he had originally felt for Castiel, Angel of the Lord. Instead, he just feels the weariness of someone who suddenly got a teenager dropped into their lap and now navigates uncharted waters. Sam guesses that it’s the closest to the experience of being a father he’ll ever come.
“Please, Jack,” he sighs. “Please just do what I say.”
Jack looks searchingly at Cas and only when Cas nods does he actually nod as well. “Very well. I’ll make coffee for our ‘guests’.”
Sam takes it as a small blessing that he doesn’t actually do finger quotes as Cas might have done.
“Okay, guys, follow me,” Sam tells the camera crew. “And you two,” he points at Cas and Dean, “be nice!”
Sam has sent the production crew the basic layout and a few pictures of the relevant areas of the bunker, so that they could figure out in advance where they want to place their cameras. And also, because he didn’t want the bunker to come as a surprise. It still takes the crew twenty minutes to wrangle everyone into the right positions and have the lights up and the cameras rolling. Bobby’s first sentence when they’re finally shooting is, “Oh my God, this room is the most depressing place that I’ve ever seen and that includes any cemetery I ever visited.”
Dean is now sulking while leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, mumbling angry things at himself. Cas is standing somewhat awkwardly next to him, the camera teams progressively unsubtle hints to get out of the frame bouncing off of him unheard while he splits his attention only between Dean and sending Bobby worried glances.
“I want to say the exact same thing about this closet.” Tan stares at Dean’s collection of plaid somewhat despondently. “I think not even a childhood monster would want to live in this closet.”
Sam quickly hides a snort of laughter, because yeah, no monster would survive Dean’s closet, that much is clear.
“Do you even own any shoes apart from boots?” Tan asks Dean.
Dean shrugs. “Sturdy, watertight, easy to clean. ‘S all I need.”
“He has flip-flops for when he goes to the shower,” Cas supplies helpfully.
“Right.” Tan turns back to the closet. “Right.”
Sam wonders whether he already thinks Dean is a hopeless case, but then Sam has watched the show, and there were worse cases on there. Dean’s wardrobe might be as depressing as his room but it is functional, and it includes their FBI suits and everything.
“Ummm, what is this?” Karamo holds up a priest’s outfit.
Well, Sam guesses that also falls under the hunting-related heading of ‘and everything’. He has the urge to facepalm, but then, he is the one who did the hurried sweep of Dean’s room ten minutes before the camera team arrived to make sure to get all of the most incriminating stuff out and he kind of overlooked their costume section.
Dean turns a bright red while Cas says seriously, “It’s a priest’s shirt. You know it because of the white band at the collar. Dean uses it often when...”
Quicker than Sam thought Dean could move, Dean slaps a hand over Cas’ mouth. “When it’s Halloween. That’s when I use it. Halloween.”
Tan raises his eyebrows, Jonathan hides his cackling behind his hand and Karamo outright smirks. “We’re not ones to kink-shame, no worries.” He hangs the outfit back into the closet. “Guess you’re not throwing that one out, Tan.”
“You know what?” Bobby turns around his own axis once, taking in the whole room again. “This is depressing as fuck, but do you know what it is not?”
All eyes turn to him.
“A sloppy space. This is all neat.” He points at the closet, “The clothes are clean and either hung up or folded in the dresser,” he points at the bed, “the bed is made, the floors are clean and,” he steps over to the railing that Dean uses as a shelf and slides a finger along it, “there isn’t even that much dust up here.”
“‘S cause I’m not a slob,” Dean grumbles.
“Is there any reason for it?” Bobby asks curiously. “You know, most guys who get nominated are not exactly particular about their living spaces.”
Dean grumbles under his breath but then he says, “Grew up in motel rooms. And the car. Car is too small to be sloppy in, and we kinda never stayed anywhere else long enough to develop a habit of leaving our things strewn around. Makes packing harder.”
Sam thinks his eyes are probably halfway to bulging out of his head because Dean actually answered that. And more than that, he answered it truthfully and with a piece of information that was - well, not a guarded secret maybe, but at the very least not a purely fond memory.
“Oh, that makes so much more sense now!” Bobby looks at the room again like he’s seeing it with new eyes. “You treat your room like a liminal space. Even though you have been staying here for a few years. And you plan on staying, right?”
Dean nods jerkily.
“With your whole family,” Bobby continues thoughtfully, “in an actual homebase.”
That provokes a slight cringe from Dean and his eyes quickly dart to Cas before darting away again. “Well, some of us are based here more permanently than others.”
The look does not go unnoticed, either, as Tan asks Cas, “You don’t live here? I was under the impression that you did.”
Cas’ eyes dart to Dean’s nervously, then to Sam, then to Dean’s bed, before finally settling somewhere on the floor in front of Antoni. “I have extended guest rights.”
“No, dude!” Sam can’t keep quiet anymore even though he’s supposed to be out of the frame and not say anything. “You live here. I know you don’t want your own room but…”
“You don’t have a room?” Bobby asks at the same time that Antoni says, “Where do you sleep?”
“I don’t -” But Dean elbows Cas in the ribs so that he shuts up.
“He sleeps on the couch. Or, umm,” Dean’s voice is suddenly insecure. “Sometimes we share,” he mutters so quickly that it almost gets lost.
And okay, that would explain why Cas keeps staring at the right side of the bed.
“So we’re keeping the queen or upgrading to a king,” Bobby nods unperturbed. “Got it.”
“No one touches my memory foam mattress!”
“Memory foam?” The Fab 5 suddenly perk up.
It’s Jonathan who runs and jumps first, throwing himself onto the mattress with a scream of delight. The other four follow only seconds later landing in a pile of fashionably dressed limbs, immediately goading Dean to join them.
Dean groans and hides his face behind both of his hands. “I hate everything,” he mutters.
Chapter 3: Day 2 - From Plaid To Print
Dean sulks. He sulks like an annoying four-year-old. Or maybe a teenager, seeing how instead of just having a temper-tantrum, he starts walking into Sam’s space the minute the cameras are gone, finger pointing at him, mouth already open for whatever he wants to yell, but then throws his arms up in the air, turns on his heels, grabs the Impala’s keys and stalks out of the room.
Cas is immediately hot on his heels, worry clear in every line of his body.
For once, Sam stops him. He puts a hand on Cas’ chest, bodily blocking him, “Let him be. He’ll be back by midnight.”
“You can’t know that,” Cas grinds out, every muscle still poised to move past Sam.
“He’s my brother. I know it.” He makes his voice sound as calm and as sure about this as he can.
The way Jack tilts his head at him, the lie is still obvious. Which means that the fact that Cas deflates and nods, resigning himself to not going after Dean, is because he wants to believe Sam’s lie as much as Sam wants to believe it.
Sam squeezes Cas’ shoulder in commiseration. “He’s going to come around, Cas. Eventually. We’ll make him.”
“Should I look at the spellbooks?” Jack supplies helpfully. “I’m sure there’s something to make Dean -”
“NO!” Sam and Cas exclaim simultaneously.
“No,” Sam repeats quieter, suddenly feeling exhausted. “No, Jack, that’s not how we do things. We can nudge and prod but no spells.”
“But why? It would make Dean happier.”
And that’s probably not even wrong.
“Because it is a transgression to manipulate someone’s free will. Our Father gave it to His creatures on Earth for a reason and it is not our place to undermine that,” Cas explains.
“Dean’s decisions are his own,” Jack summarizes thoughtfully. “Even when they are not in his best interest.”
“Yes,” Cas agrees, and suddenly looks 10 years worth of weary.
Sam nods decisively at himself and turns around. “I’m going to break out the whiskey. We’ve earned it.”
Sam doesn’t know whether Dean was in by midnight - or where he slept if he was, seeing how Bobby’s crew has already started with the renovations in Dean’s room - but he’s back the next morning. He’s still scowling and he’s also still in his Dead Man’s Robe when the camera crew arrives, but he is back.
“I hope you have explanations ready when they stumble upon the weapons,” Dean mutters under his breath when he goes to get his morning coffee that Cas reliably has brewed already.
Sam always thinks of it as a peace offering to grumpy early morning Dean, but sometimes he catches Cas staring a little forlornly at the coffee pot and then he isn’t sure that it isn’t Cas’ way of reminding Dean that he is useful first thing in the morning in the hopes that they’ll go another day without Dean throwing him out of the bunker. But he’s also pretty sure that both Cas and Dean would scoff at him for uttering that thought, and would deny any truth in it. Because if there’s one thing they’re both great at it’s denial and not communicating.
“I packed everything that can’t be taken as some kind of kinky deco into the storage rooms,” Sam mumbles at Dean. “And those are locked and everyone knows that they’re out of bounds.”
“Hope that includes the more potent grimoires.”
Sam grimaces at the memory of yesterday’s incident. “Yeah, I took care of that last night.”
Dean makes an indistinct grumbling noise that Sam decides to take as approval.
“And hey, with the bunker being warded as it is, at least we’re now 100% certain that the Fab 5 are human.”
Dean rolls his eyes at Sam.
Just then, the camera team is done with their set-up and an unbelievably peppy Tan strides over towards them. “How are you, Dean? Are you ready to experience clothing that is not plaid?”
“You saw the suits in my closet, didn’t you?” Dean grumps.
“I did. And I’m happy, Dean, I’m really happy that you know how to assemble a formal outfit. But all of that is so incredibly - neutral? I can’t feel you at all when I look at it.”
“That’s the whole point,” Dean grumbles.
“But, Dean, people want to get to know you! The real you!”
Dean snorts a dismissive huff.
“Dean, you are intentionally making it hard for us, and I can still tell that you are an incredibly warm and caring person. There is no shame in embracing that.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure all of my life would disagree.”
“I don’t,” Sam says.
“Yeah, well, you’re my brother and a tree-hugger.”
“Yeah, your brother who you more or less single-handedly raised. Which makes me the most competent person to judge this,” Sam huffs and crosses his arms in front of his chest.
“You were an annoying kid,” Dean bitches, but Sam has lived with Dean’s deflections for a while now.
“Whatever you need to tell yourself, man.”
“Your story may have started out sad, but it is inspiring now! You grew up, you stuck together, you found family! You’ve made a steady home where you can be happy. Both your home and your wardrobe should reflect that.”
Dean looks at Tan like he’s grown a second head but apparently he has no real way to refute what Tan has said because he stays quiet.
“What do you say, get dressed and we go shopping together?”
“Go,” Sam nudges him. “We’ve got things under control here.”
“I hate you.”
“No, you don’t.”
Dean doesn’t dignify that with a response and instead stomps out of the room, presumably to get dressed.
“He’ll try to give you shit but don’t be discouraged,” Sam turns to Tan. “He’s a fashionista at heart. He’s just -,” he gestures vaguely.
“Overcompensating?” Tan guesses.
“Yeah,” Sam says with a relieved sigh. “That.”
“He’s not the first guy to be scared of what he perceives as his feminine side. It happens especially with guys that grew up in a rather traditionally masculine environment.”
“Uhh, yeah, our Dad was not exactly known for his tolerance. And Dean used to think he was the be all and end all, so it, you know, took him a while to notice that not all of his opinions were exactly beneficial or even halfway decent.”
“What about the people Dean has in his life now?”
“Well, you’ve met them. Or, the most important of them. I mean, I called you. So you already know that I definitely have no problem with anything Dean wants to do or be. And Cas, well, Cas pretty much thinks Dean hung the moon, so there’s that. And we’re raising Jack to be tolerant and kind. In fact, that’s kind of our number one priority in what we teach him.” Sam grimaces. “Nurture over nature or something like that.”
There are days when Sam forgets that Jack is Lucifer’s son. When it’s just like they’ve always been his Dads. And then Jack casually suggests to influence someone’s mind or to let someone die for the benefit of a hunt, and suddenly it’s painfully clear again.
One day, they’re going to have to tell him. What his Dad did. Not just to the world in general, Jack has a pretty good grasp on that. But what he did to Sam in specific. Sam’s not looking forward to that moment.
“So Dean knows that everyone in his life is supportive of him and his decisions?”
“He knows it here,” Sam touches a finger to his head. “I’m not quite sure he knows it here as well.” He lays his hand over his heart. “Kinda hoping you guys can help with that.”
That is the moment that Dean chooses to come back. He is indeed fully dressed, and not only that, “Dean! You made an effort!” Tan’s whole face lights up when he sees what Dean is wearing.
He’s put on one of his better pairs of jeans and what Sam’s come to think of as the ‘Demon-Dean’ shirt. It’s the color of blood and Sam doesn’t really share Tan’s enthusiasm about the clothes choice, because he isn’t sure that Dean didn’t choose it because of its color and the fact that it is pretty easy to hide blood stains on it.
But Tan of course has no such reservations. In the opposite, not only does he go towards Dean in greeting, no he throws his arms around Dean as well, drawing him into a hug.
“I’m so glad that you made an effort. I promise you, you won’t regret it. We’re all here for you, to help you with this.”
Dean sends a helpless glance over to Sam who shrugs. He can’t really pull Tan off of Dean.
Dean pats Tan’s back, possibly a little harder than strictly necessary and tries to make Tan let go. Tan squeezes for another long moment, before he finally pushes Dean an arm’s length away from him, holding on at Dean’s forearms. “Are you ready for your transformation, Dean?”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever.”
“Wonderful! Let’s go then!”
Sam jumps when Jack suddenly shows up in his space, Sam having been too concentrated on Dean to even notice that Jack’s been here as well. “Sam?” he asks.
“Yeah?” Sam answers and tries to calm down his racing heart.
“Why is he allowed a transformation spell when I’m not?”
For a moment, Sam is too stunned to answer. Then he can’t help it, he starts laughing helplessly. It’s only when Jack keeps staring at him that he notices that yes, Jack’s meant that as an actual question.
“Oh God, no, he’s not gonna use a spell to transform Dean,” Sam wheezes. “He’s just gonna buy him some clothes.”
Jack tilts his head even further. “I don’t understand. Clothes do not have any lasting influence on Dean’s body or mind.”
Cas has joined them by now as well, obviously having waited until Dean was out of the house to show up in the common area.
“No, no, that’s not how this works for humans,” Sam shakes his head and tries to stop the last giggles to actually think about how to word this to make Jack understand. “It’s like - certain things make us feel a certain way. When you snuggle up in flannel PJs, it makes you feel relaxed and comfy. And when we wear our FBI suits it makes us feel, like, you know, a little bit like we actually have authority. Tan’s gonna try to find clothes for Dean that make him feel more like himself.”
Cas frowns at that intently.
“Not in a spell kind of way! Michael’s not back,” Sam immediately makes clear before Cas comes to the wrong conclusions as well. “Dean is already himself. Like you are yourself even though you still wear Jimmy Novak’s clothes. Tan’s just trying to - broaden his fashion horizon a little, so that maybe he can let other facets of his personality shine.”
“Hmm,” Jack makes a thoughtful noise. “What about his room then?”
Sam takes a deep breath. He should have had coffee before explaining the world to his Nephilim foster kid. “They’re trying to brighten it up. Lighten it.”
“I don’t like that there are strangers in Dean’s room,” Cas frowns.
“I hid the porn and the weapons, it’s going to be okay, Cas,” Sam tries to calm him down.
“But they are invading Dean’s privacy! It may not be the personal space around him but it is still his private space,” Cas argues.
Sam has to bite his lip not to chuckle at the sudden memory of Dean’s helpless expression when Tan hugged him, but he tries to stay soothing. “It’s okay, Cas. They’re not doing it without Dean’s permission. And they’re going to design the room so that it helps Dean feel less depressed all the time.”
Cas seems to think that over, and really, Sam hopes a lot that it actually does something to get Dean out of his funk. Sam had thought that the fact that they had semi-retired in favor of raising Jack would make a difference, but it hadn’t had as much impact as he’d hoped. A simple lack of demonic or angelic possessions and daily attempts on their lives is obviously not enough to make Dean happy.
“What about my room?” Jack asks.
“What about it?” Sam asks back, needing a moment to shake himself out of his thoughts.
“Should I make it so that I can feel happy?” Jack asks with a hesitant frown like he’s not even quite sure what he’s asking.
Which he probably isn’t. They gave him the room and Jack uses it to store his clothes there and take the naps that count as enough sleep for him, but he has made no adjustments to it, has accepted it without really treating it like a space that is his.
“I think that’s a great idea!” Sam encourages him. “We can go to Home Depot and find some stuff that you like.”
That is an idea that is universally appreciated but since Sam doesn’t dare leave Bobby’s crew alone at the Bunker, it ends up being Cas and Jack going to Home Depot together. Sam implores them to please please please come back with no more stuff than fits into Cas’ car because he’s not 100% convinced of their interior design talents, but since they both promise him, he gives them one of their Winchester-brand credit cards and lets them go.
And then he’s alone. Or not alone really. It’s weird, having none of his family here but still having the bunker full of people. He tells the crew to take as much coffee as they want and opts for some random research on his laptop, because he can set that up in the library and keep track of everyone from there. They don’t let him go anywhere near Dean’s room to check the progress anyway, claiming that they are very tolerant to let the family stay instead of carting them off to a hotel anyway.
Sam huffs a little about it but decides that it’s too late now anyway. If they stumble upon something dangerous in Dean’s room, well, he guesses he’ll hear the screaming.
Two hours later, there’s still no screaming but the front door opens, letting in an exhausted looking Dean and an even more exhausted looking Tan. Behind them follow a group of PAs with shopping bags.
“No, don’t,” Tan stops the crew with a wave and a shake of his head when they immediately start setting up lights and bringing in a camera. “We got enough footage for the day. I just wanted to bring Dean back safe and sound.” He turns to Dean. “Can I have a hug goodbye?”
“There’s no cameras,” Dean points out.
Tan sighs. “I’m not nice to you because of the cameras, Dean. I’m nice to you because I genuinely believe that you are a good person who deserves good things.”
“Like hugging you,” Dean says skeptically.
“Like hugging anyone. Humans are social creatures, we all crave shared warmth.” Tan’s smile cannot hide his exhaustion, but he opens his arms anyway, prompting Dean physically to step into them and give him the hug he’s asked for.
Dean rolls his eyes, but to Sam’s surprise, he actually does step forward, closing his arms around Tan for a moment before letting go.
“Have a good night, Dean,” Tan smiles. “Sam.” And then he turns around and is gone.
Dean makes his way straight to the fridge, cracking open a bottle of beer and downing half of it in one long swallow. Then he frowns and looks around like he’s searching for something. “Where’s Cas?”
Someone then, not something. “Gone to Home Depot with Jack. We want to give Jack’s room a makeover as well. Make it his space more than it was.”
Dean raises his eyebrows. “And you let the two of them go alone?”
“Someone had to stay here,” Sam shrugs.
“How long have they been gone?”
“A few hours. And what’s with the third degree?”
But Dean just scowls at him and gets his phone, pressing speed dial. He listens for a moment then says, “You better be checking your voicemail, buddy. Call me to let me know you’re good. If I don’t hear from you in an hour, I’m going after you.” He hangs up and scowls at the phone like reaching Cas’ voicemail instead of Cas himself is a personal affront.
Sam stops himself from pointing out to Dean that Cas has in fact lived quite a few millennia before he ever met them and has successfully stayed alive without Dean following him to Home Depot. It’s no use arguing with Dean about this anyway.
“So how was it?” Sam asks instead.
“You mean apart from the hugging?” Dean grumbles.
“Well, you can’t have spend the whole day hugging. Or did you?” Sam asks.
“NO!” And okay, that was emphatic.
“Hey, no need to shout. What did he give you? In clothes, I mean.”
“Shirts that aren’t flannel. I refused the skinny jeans.”
Against better knowledge, Sam snorts. The idea of Dean in skinny jeans is just too funny. “Has he found your car-wash shorts yet?”
Dean’s eyes turn wide. “No? I don’t think so anyway? I store them in the garage. Holy hell, he better not find those. I don’t even want to know his opinion on those.”
Sam wonders whether that means that Dean actually cares about Tan’s opinion of his wardrobe, but he knows better than to say that out loud. “He’s probably gonna make you wear them. Like, when all the other guys are around as well.”
Dean’s face turns a bright red at that idea. “No,” he grinds out. “Hell no.”
“Hey, you have no problem with me or Cas seeing you in them.”
“Yeah, but that’s you and - Cas.”
There is a distinctive pause before Cas’ name that makes Sam think that they’re not quite lumped into the same category in Dean’s mind. “I’m sure Cas appreciates it,” Sam smirks. “He does go to chat with you every time you wash the car, doesn’t he?”
And really, Sam doesn’t want to be evil. He doesn’t. But his brother’s face taking on the color of ripe tomatoes while he stutters something unintelligible and then gulps down more beer is too funny to pass up on.
Just then, Dean’s phone rings. Dean takes one look at the caller-ID, puts down his bottle of beer and disappears into the depths of the bunker while he takes the call. “Hey Cas. You okay?”
Chapter 4: Day 3 - Your Freckles are Fabulous
If Sam thought the day would be a repeat of yesterday, Jonathan coming to get Dean in the morning and disappearing to some barber shop with him, he’s wrong.
“Darling, your hair is not what’s wrong with you,” Jonathan tells Dean, right after he has let him go from a hug that was dangerously close to breaching the one-mississippi-two-mississippi line of socially acceptable hugs. He fusses with Dean’s hair for a moment before sighing. “It’s the whole rest of it.”
“What’s wrong with the rest of me?” Dean growls, immediately defensive.
“Your attitude, sweetheart, your attitude,” Jonathan makes a sympathetic face and shakes his head. “You treat your poor body like a commodity. Like you can replace it like that,” he snaps his fingers, not noticing how both Dean and Sam flinch at the gesture. They’ve been in the presence of beings that could disintegrate them with a snap of their fingers way too often. “So I’m going to teach you to treat your body like the temple it is.”
“That sounds -”
“If you say gay, I’m going to have words with you,” Jonathan puts his hands on his hips. “You have this whole,” he angrily takes his hands from his hips again and gestures in the air, “over-the-top butch thing going that’s honestly so toxic. We’re gonna purge that from your body. There’s just no other option. Follow me!”
Dean’s actually taken a step back in the face of Jonathan’s righteous anger, and now he sends Sam a desperate look to where he’s standing behind the cameras. Sam shakes his head. He can’t save Dean from this day-long spa treatment and he wouldn’t even if he could.
“I’m going to teach you how to treat yourself. We’re going to start with a facial - where we’re going to make the mask ourselves, because it’s not actually that hard and somehow I don’t see you going shopping for a facial mask anytime soon…” Jonathan’s chatter get quieter as the camera team makes their way towards the Bunker’s master bathroom.
“Oh boy,” Sam sighs.
“You alright?” Bobby asks, who has checked up on the progress in Dean’s room.
“Yeah, yeah,” Sam says. “It’s just that the words Dean and facial mask have never been uttered in the same breath before.”
Bobby laughs. “Yeah, Jonathan can be lot when you’re not used to him. But trust him, man. He knows what he’s doing.”
“If you say so,” Sam says skeptically.
“I say so.” Bobby nudges his shoulder. “One of my little birdies whispered in my ear that you were redecorating your kid’s room? Need some help?”
“What?” Sam asks surprised. “But you’re here for Dean.”
“True,” Bobby nods. “But his room is designed and progressing well enough. Want to show me what you’ve planned for Jack’s room?”
“Umm, sure. Okay,” Sam stutters. “He went shopping with Cas yesterday. I don’t actually know everything they went for, yet.”
“Ha, we’ll find out together then. It’ll be fun!” Bobby grins.
And that’s how it comes that Sam doesn’t even check on Dean and the camera team for the next three hours because he and Cas are carrying around furniture and hammering nails into the walls while Bobby discusses with Jack how Jack wants to decorate his room. And where Jack had only the loosest idea in the beginning, he soaks up Bobby’s ideas and explanations at a rate that is almost a little scary.
At some point, Bobby gets out his tablet, discussing options with Jack and then ordering things short-notice. When he sees Sam’s eyes go wide at the prices, he waves him off. “It’s in our budget, don’t worry.”
An hour later, a new couch gets carried into Jack’s room while someone presses a large box of fairy lights into Sam’s hands that they diligently distribute around the room until the fairy lights alone are enough to lighten up the room, even though the new floor lamp that Cas and Jack bought yesterday also gets a place of honor.
“With the fairy lights, you achieve a really nice soft light, you know?” Bobby explains. “Since you said you have trouble falling asleep sometimes, you don’t want any lights that have a high ratio of blue in them. This warm soft light is perfect.”
Jack looks at the fairy lights with a fascinated expression, his eyes following the twinkling of the little LED stars and flowers he’s decided on. Then he abruptly turns back to Bobby. “Can you help my Dad with his clothes, too?”
“What?” Bobby asks confused.
“Sam explained it to me yesterday. That clothes can make you feel more like yourself. My Dad always wears this suit, that wasn’t even originally his.”
“Jack…” Castiel interrupts him.
“No,” Jack shakes his head. “No, you’ve done so much for me. And I’ve - I’ve missed you so much when you were - gone. I want you to be happy!”
Sam can virtually see Bobby’s expression melt into something gooey.
“Oh, how sweet!” He gushes, and - and Sam should really have expected this - hugs both Cas and Jack to him. “Group hug, come on!” We waves Sam over as well.
Sam shakes his head, but he joins them anyway, squeezing them tight, sweaty and tired as they all are.
“I’ll ask Tan, okay?” Bobby promises.
“Don’t tell Dean,” Sam says.
“Why?” Jack frowns at him.
“Because that way it’ll be a surprise. There’ll be a party kind of thing in the end, right? So have Cas show up to that in the new clothes as a surprise to Dean.”
“I’m not sure…,” Cas starts.
“He’ll like it, Cas,” Sam talks over him. “I promise, whatever Tan finds for you, Dean will like it. Though I’m guessing he’d extra like it if it wasn’t quite as over-sized as this suit.”
Bobby laughs. “Okay, I’ll make sure to tell Tan. But he’s pretty big on clothes that actually fit without me needing to prompt him.”
“Thank you,” Jack says earnestly. “No one really helps my Dads normally. Thank you for making them feel happier.”
“And for helping you, too,” Sam adds and puts a hand around Jack’s shoulder.
“And me, too,” Jack repeats just as earnestly. “Thank you for helping with my room.”
“You’re very welcome,” Bobby smiles and then somehow they’re all hugging again.
It takes another hour and a half after that until Dean shows up again with Jonathan.
“Awww, Dean,” Sam immediately gets up into his brother’s space to put a hand on his cleanly shaven cheek. “So smooooooth!”
As expected, Dean slaps his hand away. “Shove it, Sammy.”
“Cas, come over here! You got to feel this! Dean’s face is as soft as a baby’s bottom!”
Cas looks frozen like a deer in the headlights, which would be all kinds of funny, only this is the week. The week. Sam’s going to make sure of it. So he bodily drags Cas over - who lets himself be dragged - and places Cas’ fingers on Dean’s skin.
“Feel that? Jonathan is a miracle worker!”
Having Cas’ hand on him, Dean stands frozen as well, no sign of slapping Cas away like he did with Sam. Instead, Dean looks at Cas and Cas catches his gaze and -
“This,” Sam whispers at Jonathan, “this is what I have had to put up with for a decade . I can’t do it anymore, man. I just can’t.”
“Ohh, they’re sweet, though,” Jonathan answers.
“No, man, no. They’re not sweet. The sexual tension between them is killing me. If they don’t get their shit together with the help of you guys, I’m gonna lock them in Dean’s newly built closet until they’ve banged it out, I swear.”
“Naughty!” Jonathan gives him a mock shocked look, hands dramatically at the sides of his face.
“It’s no more than self-defense. Also, it’s annoying as fuck when they forget that I’m in the room and do - this.”
He gestures at where Cas and Dean are still staring at each other and have obviously forgotten that they’re not alone in the room - or the world. Cas’ hand is also still on Dean’s face, just laying there, a mirror of the times when Cas has healed Dean in just this way. Because Sam has totally noticed that, that Cas always touches Dean when healing him, but can totally heal anyone else without touching them. So necessity is not what drives Cas to touch Dean.
“Well, at the very least I would say that keeping his skin moisturized is good for his game,” Jonathan comments on the same thing Sam has noticed. “I think we did good today. Fist bump?”
He holds his fist out and Sam bumps it good-naturedly. “No hug, though? Did our manly man Dean get to you?”
That makes Jonathan break out in a wide smile. “Ohh, hugs! Yass, Queen!”
And then Sam has an armful of gay guy and some hair in his mouth that is not his. It is not a feeling he’s used to but he still holds on until Jonathan lets go. Because he’s got to admit, for all that they’re not used to it, all of this hugging and sharing of warmth is really kind of nice.
Chapter 5: Day 4 - Latin is Not Just a Dead Language
Consequently, when Dean’s already in the kitchen the next morning when Sam comes in, Sam immediately opens his arms, “Good morning hug?”
Dean points an accusing finger at him, “Not you too, Sam.”
Sam almost doubles over laughing at Dean’s horrified expression. “Oh man, this is better than coffee at waking me up.”
Dean rolls his eyes but he still takes out another mug and fills it with the fresh brew. “Then I better feed you coffee to keep you from having any other bad ideas.” He slides the mug over to Sam.
“You’re in a good mood,” Sam observes surprised.
“What? No! Of course not! I still have two more days to get through with these clowns,” Dean protests.
“You’re in a good mood,” Sam repeats because that’s totally the truth.
He also notices that Dean has styled his hair in a softer way than usual and the slight shine on his skin probably means that he took that moisturizing advice seriously. Holy shit. This is actually working. The Fab 5 are getting to him. And they have two more days! They can do this!
“Good morning everyone!” A smiling Karamo makes his way down the stairs to them, of course immediately going in for a long hug that Dean stoically bears. “Are you ready for the day?”
“Yes.” And that was not Dean, that was a growly voice from behind Sam.
“I have been asked to participate in today’s event and I have agreed,” Cas says gravely.
“Why have I not been asked to participate?” Sam pouts.
“Oh, you can come if you want. But Dean’s going to need a partner for what we have planned, so I asked Castiel here whether he wanted to join us,” Karamo explains, pleased as punch.
“What kind of partner?” Dean asks suspiciously.
“You’ll see,” Karamo smiles. “Wear something comfortable enough to move in and be ready in ten minutes.”
“Cas?” Dean turns on Cas immediately. “Where are we going?”
“I do not know, Dean,” Cas answers somewhat exasperated. “If you don’t want me there, I don’t need to come.”
“Whoa,” Dean takes a step backwards. “Where did that come from? Course you can come if you feel like putting up with the circus.”
“I will do that then.” Cas keeps his stormy look but doesn’t explain himself.
Though Sam gets an inkling what might be happening when Jonathan and Antoni join the fray when they’re all out at the cars. They both hug Dean and it seems like Dean has accepted his fate at this point, hugging both of them back without protest.
Cas positively glowers .
Sam bites back his grin and instead gives Jack final instructions about keeping the crew out of all but the assigned rooms using only human methods , and calling him should anything unforeseen happen. Jack nods earnestly and Sam thinks he can see how proudly Jack’s chest is puffed out because they’ve deemed him responsible enough to guard their home for a few hours.
And then they’re on their way.
Sam doesn’t get to drive in the same car as Dean and Cas, seeing as Karamo wants to get an interview on the way, so Sam keeps his phone close and tries to determine from a distance how things are going. It’s hard to say, seeing how Dean doesn’t actually answer any of his texts.
They arrive a few minutes before the other car, giving the crew time to set up a camera for the arrival of Karamo and Co. Sam’s heart sinks into his stomach when he sees where they’ve ended up. It’s a dancing studio. Dean’s gonna flip.
And then the other car arrives.
“Holy hell, NO!” Dean yells as he gets out of the car.
Cas follows him silently and with an expression that will seem stoic to anyone else, but Sam speaks fluent Cas by now, and this is his kicked puppy expression.
“You want me to… with Cas ??? NO!!!”
Dean makes as if to stomp off but Karamo is apparently used to runners, because with two quick steps he’s blocking Dean’s path. “Dean. Dean, listen.” He holds his arms out in a gentle attempt to corral Dean. “I understand that this is a lot and I also understand that this is in public and thus not an easy thing for you to do. But let me explain to you why I chose this, okay?”
Dean mutters something that is probably a lot of curse words as his mouth curls in what is closest described as disgust, when he looks up at the big friendly letters of the dance studio’s logo. But he stays where he is.
“Thank you,” Karamo smiles at him, keeping his voice and body language soothing. “You may not recognize it but even staying and hearing me out is a big step. So thank you for that. Dean, I’ve had the chance to observe you and your interactions both with us and with your family over the past few days. And what I’ve found is that you can seem very jovial and charming when you want to be, but in reality, you are a very closed off person. You keep everything inside.” He pats his own chest over his heart a few times to illustrate his point. “You don’t like to talk about your emotions. You don’t like to show your emotions via bodily contact, either. Cause don’t think I haven’t seen you flinch when the others hugged you.” He smiles a conspiratory little smile. “I understand that you have lived this way for quite a few decades, and you have always survived like this. What I want to show you today, why we’re here, is, though, that it actually feels good to learn how to communicate your emotions.”
“What’s a tutu gonna teach me?” Dean spits.
“Well, ballet is a powerful form of expression, but I think it might be a little beyond what we can reach today. What we’re doing today is learning the basics of Latin Dance.”
“Latin Dance?” Dean asks with a frown.
“Yes. Of the tango to be more specific. Tango is one of the most refined of expressions of emotion using your body. It is a powerful yet balanced give and take, expressing the natural attraction and drifting apart just to find back together of two humans without the need for any words.”
“No words needed?”
Karamo smiles like he had known that this was the right bait to reel Dean in. “No words needed,” he confirms. “You can express yourself without having to find the words.”
“And you want me to - you want Cas to be my partner.”
“Yes,” Karamo nods. “Tango is a very physical dance. The partners have to be close. Seeing how averse you are to touching strangers, I thought it best to bring in someone who you already know very well and I think have no big problem touching.”
Sam snorts. Understatement of the year. But also very nicely and neutrally worded to get past Dean’s defenses.
“And you’re okay with this?” Dean turns to Cas, who has so far just been standing stiffly to the side of Karamo and Dean.
“I’ll try to be of assistance,” Cas says cautiously.
“Well then,” Karamo nods, “does this mean you’re giving us a chance?”
For a long moment, Dean stares at the ground in front of him, lips pressed into a tight white line, apprehensive frown on his face, then his eyes stray to Cas for a second, and finally he nods jerkily. “Guess I can give you this one.”
Karamo smiles at Dean again. “I’m proud of you, Dean. And I’m looking very forward to discovering Latin Dance with you.”
They end the segment there, everyone relocating into the building. Sam tries to get close enough to Dean or Cas to ask them whether they’re okay, but Dean and Cas get herded away separately for individual interviews.
He only sees them again when the cameras are already set up in the ballroom. Antoni has joined them by now, serving as Karamo’s dancing partner for the day. Sam is kind of glad about it. Having more than one couple dancing will take some of the pressure and focus off of Cas and Dean and that can only help. Because right now, Sam isn’t even sure who looks more uncomfortable in their skin, Dean or Cas. They’re still in their normal clothes, plaid for Dean and the full suit for Cas. They look like the opposite of Latin dancers.
The teachers come in next. They are both dark-haired, muscular and curvy - an Antonio Banderas - Selma Hayek combo in skin-tight clothes that makes Dean gulp visibly. Sam thinks he can even see Cas’ eyes widen a bit.
They start the class, figuring out who is going to dance the lead first. The choice falls on Karamo and Dean, mostly because Karamo is the more experienced dancer between him and Antoni, and Cas volunteers to be led.
They go through the first step combinations and it’s all Sam can do not to laugh out loud. Dean has a concentrated frown, but actually follows along well enough, Cas on the other hand looks completely out of his element.
Finally, the female teacher takes him to the side, putting her hands on his hips to try to physically show him how the movement is supposed go, but that only makes Cas go stiff as a board.
“Alright, stop, this isn’t working,” Dean interferes. “Get your hands off of him!” He barks at the lady but at least refrains from physically threatening her. “We’ll switch.”
“You’ll switch?” Karamo asks with raised eyebrows.
“We’ll switch,” Dean nods. “The dude doesn’t have to do the hip thing, right?”
“You’re both dudes,” Antoni helpfully points out.
Dean rolls his eyes. “Alright, the one who leads then. Cas can lead, it’s fine. I’ll do the hip thing and the twirls and whatever other shit you throw at us.”
Sam thinks his eyes will bulge out of his head when the words sink in, but the teachers seem to take them in stride.
“Alright, we’ll rearrange and you get to practice the opposing steps.”
Surprisingly, or maybe unsurprisingly, it works better. Dean loves dancing, even if he usually does it where no one can see, and he’s quick to catch up on the new steps, while Cas seems relieved mainly to have the teacher’s hands off of him and works on his new steps with renewed enthusiasm.
And then comes the moment when the teacher tells the couples to “please now step closer together, we’re going to try this in proper form”. Immediately, both Cas and Dean stand frozen, while Antoni just grabs Karamo’s hand.
“One hand around the waist of your partner, please. A little lower, this is not ballroom dance. Good. Now draw him close,” the male teacher corrects Karamo’s form.
“See what they’re doing? Just repeat it,” the female teacher encourages Cas. “Since you’re leading, you have to hold the form. Dean will mold himself to you.”
For all that they both use any chance they have to touch the other in what they think is subtle ways, now, when being asked to hold onto each other, they don’t. Sam groans, “Now they turn shy? Great.”
“Alright, let me help,” the female teacher finally gives up. Of course the minute she steps behind Cas, threatening to press herself to his back to show him the right form, Cas jumps forward and almost collides with Dean in his haste to get the form right.
The teacher smirks in a way that makes Sam think that this is exactly what she intended, too.
“Better,” she comments. “But right now you’re directly opposite each other, that’s not going to work. You can try it of course but you’ll see that you’ll bump knees with every step.”
It’s Dean who gets it first. He clears his throat, but then he takes a half-step to the side.
“Perfect! Now, the tango is a dance of high emotion. In a close hold, it is a very close dance. If you cannot feel your partner, you’re doing it wrong. So, let’s try the basic steps and see whether you can feel the person you’re dancing with.”
Judging by how red Dean’s face gets, he is in fact feeling Cas, as Cas does as he’s told and pulls Dean close. Sam’s pretty sure he’s going to have permanent indentations in his knuckles, he’s biting down so hard on them not to burst out laughing.
“Wonderful!” The teacher comments. “Now don’t be scared of your partner and we’ll start from the top!”
After a few tries, it gets better. Dean and Cas are nowhere near even what Karamo and Antoni are doing, but they get the base-steps down, and after a little while, they even start to add a little flair. Cas very gentlemanly nods and smiles at Dean before sending him into a twirl, Dean in return sends a hip shake and wink over his shoulder back at Cas. And when they come back together for a close hold, they smile at each other and any awkwardness from the beginning is gone.
Jonathan comes in at some point and stands next to Sam to watch the proceedings. He conspiratorially leans over to Sam when there’s a long moment where the music has already started but Dean and Cas do nothing but stand in their close hold and look at each other. “I have money to split with you, darling.”
“Huh?” Sam turns around to him.
“Antoni bet me that the dancing wouldn’t work,” Jonathan grins. “Said Dean was way too butch for it. I told him that one, he’s too negative and it’ll make his skin wrinkly, and two, that I’d bet him 200 bucks that it would work out fine.”
Sam raises his eyebrows. “How’d you know? I’d have been on Antoni’s side on this bet.”
“Whaaaaat?” Jonathan exclaims. “But it was you, honey! You showed me how they forget we exist. I knew they were gonna forget the cameras the minute they were in smooching range.”
“Though they’re still not smooching,” Sam says frustratedly. “It would be so little distance to close, too.” He shows the scarce inches with his hands, like he could take their faces and just smush them together. Not that he hasn’t thought about that before.
“Oh, give them time, honey. There’s still two days left. I believe in them.”
Chapter 6: Day 5 - Right in Front of my Burger
Sam is sure that the day yesterday can’t be beaten. There is nothing that’s gonna top making Dean dance the lady steps of a tango while Cas leads him around the dance floor.
But then, this day shapes up to be quite interesting already as well.
The crew has taken over the bunker’s kitchen, with Antoni at the helm. Dean actually looks completely relaxed at the moment as he’s leaning against the kitchen counter, listening to Antoni. But then, Dean likes cooking. This here is Dean in his element. Something they haven’t seen yet this week.
“So a little bird told me that your favorites are burger and pie...”
“Damn right,” Dean nods.
“... and that you make both of them from scratch…”
“... and that you’re pretty awesome at making them.”
Dean smirks smugly. “Damn right.”
Antoni grins at him. “You are aware that we’re going to have to bleep that out every single time, right?”
Dean’s smirk turns even wider, “Damn right.”
Antoni laughs and shakes his head. “Alright, I deserved that one. What I actually wanted to say, though, is that this info tells me that I don’t have to teach you the basics of cooking. Which, in fact, seems to be a common thread this week. None of us really had to start from scratch. Bobby didn’t have to teach you how to keep your living space tidy. Tan didn’t have to teach you how to put together a formal outfit. Jonathan didn’t need to convince you of the advantages of a shave.”
“Yeah, and the list stops there,” Dean throws in. “Karamo had to start from minus ten.” It sounds like a dry joke more than like the bitter sarcasm Sam expects.
“Ah, I don’t know, Dean. You had a pretty good hip swing there.”
Dean snorts. “Not what I meant and you know it.”
“Well,” Antoni smiles back, “we’re gonna keep working on that topic today. Because food is also a language that can transport love and care. There is a reason that the saying ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’ exists. Which is exactly how we’re going to add to your skills of transporting your feelings today.”
“Yeah, good luck with that,” Dean huffs.
“You don’t believe me,” Antoni states the obvious.
Dean grimaces. “Dude, don’t you think I’ve tried? Because believe me, I’ve tried. All he’s gonna say is that the food ‘tastes like molecules’.”
Dean actually does the air quotes, and holy fuck, did Dean just actually admit out loud that he has feelings for Cas?
“Like molecules?” Antoni’s eyebrows rise.
Dean shrugs. “He’s weird and dorky, in case you hadn’t noticed that yet.”
Okay, so Sam hasn’t misheard that. Dean is actually referring to Cas in way that publicly states he’s interested in him. Sam’s heart pounds loud in his ears, because monsters are a common occurrence, but this, this is exciting. He’s worked for this moment for a decade and he’s never thought it would ever come.
“I find him very sweet. He is definitely not a dancer but he tried so hard to get it right for you.”
That makes Dean smile a crooked little smile, even while he shrugs as if this isn’t a big deal. “Yeah, Cas is pretty awesome.”
“So let’s try to see whether the recipe I’m gonna show you today will make him appreciate your efforts and will tastes different than molecules, okay?”
“What are we making?”
“We’re making Bacon Avocado Bombs,” Antoni says proudly.
“Does it explode? Because I don’t appreciate unexpected explosions in my kitchen. Ask Jack about that one.”
“Oh my,” Antoni chuckles. “No, it really doesn’t explode. But it’s easy and quick and very tasty.”
“That doesn’t sound too bad,” Dean says. “I was kinda worried you were going to make me make rabbit food.”
Antoni smiles. “Well, you obviously love bacon, so I wanted to give you something that was still ranking with your preferred foods, while making it somewhat healthier than your usual choices.”
“I can live with that,” Dean shrugs.
“Perfect. Then let’s get started. Have you ever taken apart an avocado?”
Dean raises his eyebrows at Antoni. “Child’s play.”
Antoni raises his eyebrows right back. “Is it? Well then, prove it.” He takes one of the avocados that are in front of him on the counter and hands it to Dean. “We need this peeled and in two even halves.”
“You got it,” Dean nods, though he actually turns around to the sink first to wash his hands again before he chooses one of his knives and starts working.
And really, Antoni should have known from the quality of the knives in their kitchen that Dean is taking this seriously. But apparently, he hasn’t. Or maybe he’s met too many people with fancy knife sets who had no fucking clue how to use them. Now Sam’s had the dubious pleasure of seeing Dean’s work with machetes and silver knives, he knows damn well that an avocado is not a foe for him. Antoni’s eyes on the other hand get almost comically wide as he watches the speed and precision with which Dean slices through the avocado, takes out the pit and then peels the fruit.
“Dean, I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but I’m currently extremely sexually attracted to you,” Antoni says, still looking somewhat stunned, when Dean is done.
Dean chuckles, “Knife skills doing it for you, huh? You shoulda have given me something to chop.” He attaches an honest to God wink to that. Sam might be more flabbergasted than Antoni here.
“Seeing how we’re a family friendly program, it’s probably better that I didn’t.” Antoni clears his throat and obviously tries hard to go back to being professional. “Now that we have the avocado prepared, we can fill it. There are several options. I personally like to put an egg in the middle, but you can also fill it with cheddar or whatever else tickles your fancy. Just make it something that isn’t too salty, because otherwise it’s gonna be a bit overwhelming, seeing how we’re going to wrap the whole thing into bacon before putting it in the oven.”
“Got it,” Dean nods.
They work together to slice several more avocados, filling them with different ingredients and finally wrapping them in bacon. If Sam didn’t know any better, he’d say this is Dean’s day job. He works accurately and fast, and maybe Sam should have registered Dean to be a candidate in one of Gordon Ramsay’s cooking shows. Except it might not have been safe for Gordon if he ever yelled at Dean.
“Alright, we’re done. Now all we have to do is put these beauties in the oven and wait,” Antoni nods satisfied.
They do exactly that, leaning against the kitchen counter together to wait for the Bacon Avocado Bombs to start sizzling.
“So have you thought about tomorrow yet?” Antoni asks Dean.
Dean shrugs a little uncomfortably, then tries to look behind the cameras to see who is watching like he’s afraid Cas might be listening in. Even though Cas had informed them all in the morning that he and Jack won’t be at the bunker all day today. He didn’t give a reason to Dean, but Sam knows that Bobby kept his promise and asked Tan to get in touch with Cas concerning a new wardrobe. Tan had taken one look at Cas’ suit and had heartily agreed that a new outfit was needed. So now Cas and Jack are spending the day shopping with Tan.
“Will there be a party to show off the new you?” Antoni asks gently.
Dean shrugs again. “Some kind of party that’s gonna be. Everyone we know lives out of state.”
And is a hunter. And hunters are notoriously shy about getting their faces on camera. Too many years of dodging security cams. Dean fortunately doesn’t actually add this part, but it’s no less true anyway.
“Dean,” Antoni says carefully, suddenly hesitant like he’s treading on thin ice, “you know that it doesn’t have to be a party, right? You could just - invite Cas on a date?”
There is no immediate answer from Dean. Which is also no immediate denial. Which Sam guesses is a win in itself.
Antoni stays silent, not pressuring Dean any further, just contemplatively watching the bacon around the avocados starting to sizzle.
“How do I even do that?” Dean asks quietly after a good few minutes. “We’ve known each other for a decade, man. We’ve been through so much shit together. How do I go ahead and say I wanna change everything we have? Cause I got no idea.”
“Maybe it’s not, though. Changing everything you have. Because from what I’ve seen, you’re already pretty darn close. So maybe asking him out is just - the cherry on top, so to speak.” There is something soft in Antoni’s eyes as he watches Dean. “For what it’s worth, I don’t think he’s gonna say no.”
Dean smiles back at Antoni, but the smile doesn’t cover the sadness in Dean’s eyes. “You’re right. He’s probably gonna say ‘yes, Dean, of course I’m gonna go eat Bacon Avocado Bombs with you and I’m gonna close-dance tango with you and I’m gonna even hold your hand when you have a nightmare and wait with you until you fall asleep’.”
“He does that?”
“Yeah,” Dean nods. “Yeah, he does that. Only way I can fall asleep some nights…” He trails off. “It’s just - it’s just that I don’t think it means the same thing to him that it means to me, y’know? I don’t even doubt that he loves me. And that,” Dean shakes his head like he can’t believe it himself, “that is already so much more than I thought was ever possible. But, y’know, I don’t think that he’s in love with me. Like, romantically . Don’t even really think he knows what that means.”
Antoni’s eyes turn even softer, a sadness lingering in them now, too. He squeezes Dean’s elbow for a second. “See, the thing is, you won’t know if you don’t ask. And I know that that’s not easy. It’s never easy to put yourself out there and tell someone how you feel, no guarantee that your feelings are reciprocated. But the problem is, if you don’t do it, if you don’t allow that person you love to see you at your most vulnerable, then it’s quite possible that you’re also losing the chance to be happy. And Dean, you deserve to be happy. You deserve it so much. So - think about it at least? For me?”
Dean doesn’t answer, just turns his head away from both Antoni and the cameras. Means that he’s facing vaguely in Sam’s direction, though, and Sam can totally see how glassy Dean’s eyes have gotten.
Sam’s heart breaks for his brother. God knows - like, literally, God knows - that the Winchesters haven’t had much luck finding happiness in their lives. In fact, Sam doesn’t expect the happiness that comes with being with a person you love to happen in his life again. It took him years to recover after Jess, and then Eileen - no, if Sam’s lucky he’ll have a dog again one day, and that’s good enough for him.
But Dean and Cas have a chance. They have a very real chance to have something together. And Sam does most definitely not share Dean’s opinion that Cas doesn’t feel what Dean feels. After all, Cas has gotten so incredibly human over the past decade. Maybe ten years ago he didn’t know what that energy building between him and Dean was. Maybe back then everyone around them saw it much clearer than Dean and Cas themselves did - though to be fair, Sam had needed a moment or two to get over his disappointment that Cas didn’t seem to like him, though he had always been the one who had more faith than Dean. But even he saw it early on, that what Dean and Cas had was something that could not be explained even by friendship. A profound bond . That’s what Cas called it back then. Sam’s pretty sure he would call it love today. And he would call it in love as well, though the word seems too weak to describe the static electricity that builds whenever Dean and Cas are in the same room together.
No, Sam is one hundred percent sure. They have all changed of course - Sam remembers himself as a wide-eyed naive boy before that first apocalypse. But even though he had been millennia old already when he’d met them, none of them has changed more than Cas. Cas loves Dean and Cas is in love with Dean. He would do anything for him, but he also really wants to touch Dean and for Dean to love him back. Cas has even said the word love before. All Dean needs to do is to respond. To actually tell Cas that he loves him, too.
His brother and his brother’s angel are going to get their happy end. They are this close already, Sam can almost smell it. He’s just gonna have to make sure that Dean doesn’t chicken out.
Oh, and he’s gotta try those Bacon Avocado Bombs because Sam can smell those for real and they smell fan-frikkin-tastic.
Chapter 7: Only Clothes Live In The Closet - The New Dean Winchester
The next morning, Sam carefully watches for a moment when he can corner Dean alone in the kitchen. There’s still a group of people in the bunker, working on last minute decorations in Dean’s room, but the camera team isn’t scheduled to arrive until the afternoon.
Sam waits until Dean has had his first cup of coffee, too. He’s not risking caffeine withdrawal to thwart all of his perfectly laid out plans to get his brother to admit his feelings to the love of his life.
“So,” Sam starts cautiously while getting himself some whole-grain cereal for breakfast, “have you thought about how you want tonight to go?”
Dean looks up at him for a second before concentrating back on the toast he’s fixing himself. “Has anyone ever told you to keep your nose out of other people’s business, Sam?”
“Quite often actually,” Sam confirms amiably. “Both on the job and in private life.”
It gets a dry chuckle from Dean. “Well, you know my answer then.”
“Oh come on, Dean, don’t be like that. Give me a hint at least? Do you want me and Jack there or not?”
Dean snorts. “Like I could keep you from sticking to the camera like you’re glued to it.”
“No, I meant, do you want us there with you? In front of the cameras.”
Dean shrugs. “Seems to be tradition that the family is there for the big reveal.”
“And after that?” Sam prods.
“None of your business,” Dean repeats in a tone of finality. “I would say I’m going to eat this in my room, but thanks to you, I don’t have a room currently, so I’m going to the den and eat this in front of the TV. And you better not follow me.”
Sam sighs as Dean leaves the room, turning around in the doorway to make an ‘ I’m watching you’ gesture and then disappearing down the hallway. So much for his carefully laid out plans.
He gets no second chance to corner Dean alone again. It’s not for lack of trying, either. But Dean steadfastly avoids him. Sam grumbles about it but finally decides that it makes no sense to follow Dean from room to room. Instead, he joins Jack in the library, where Jack reads some old tome that he seems to find fascinating. Sam might as well do something useful while their waiting for the camera crew to arrive, so he takes up where he’d left of cataloguing their whole collection. The Men of Letters had been thorough about it already, but they’d also been analogue. Scanning their partially handwritten index had proved to be error-prone, so Sam now double-checks every single entry and adds keywords for quicker searches. Charlie would be proud of him.
“Sam?” Jack asks him after a while.
“Do you think Castiel’s new wardrobe will be appealing to Dean?”
“Huh?” Sam looks up from where the handwriting of the MOL archivist is smudged by a coffee stain. He wants to say it’s the dead guy’s fault but the coffee stain looks much too new and much too much like it has the exact circumference of Dean’s novelty Star Wars coffee mug.
“Castiel was worried about it. Tan didn’t want him to keep the blue tie. Castiel says that Dean likes the blue tie.”
And Sam has stumbled upon the type of porn Dean watches way too often while they were still sharing a computer, so he has an immediate image of what exactly Dean might be imagining while he’s staring at Cas’ tie. But that’s not a discussion Sam wants to have with his foster kid. “Well, I think Cas doesn’t need to be worried. I’m pretty sure Dean will find him appealing in any outfit. Though he - doesn’t necessarily have to throw out the tie. It might be - useful again I guess.”
“For when you pretend to be FBI,” Jack nods.
“Umm, yeah, that,” Sam agrees with a cough to cover his laughter. “Did you pick out anything new, too?” he asks Jack.
Jack looks down at his combo of jeans and a plaid shirt in warm earth colors. “No. I like this.” He tilts his head like he’s trying to catch an elusive thought before he starts smiling. “It makes me feel like I belong.”
And catch Sam’s heart bursting because Lucifer’s son wants to belong. “I’m glad,” he manages to say through the lump in his throat.
Jack’s head tilts again like he’s assessing the situation but then the smile is back. He has puzzled out what was bothering him. “Do you want a hug?” he asks.
And okay, maybe the Fab 5 didn’t only get to Dean, maybe they got to all of them. “Yes, please,” Sam nods and then folds Lucifer’s - no, their son into his arms. “You’re gonna be alright, Jack. We’re gonna be alright.” And at least for this moment, he believes it.
Only then Cas is wearing his normal clothes. It’s the first thing Sam notices when the Fab 5 call them all together for the big reveal. The disappointment settles deep in Sam’s stomach, especially since he has no time to even confront Cas about it, because Tan already comes back out from where he’s presumably helped Dean dress in his new and improved clothes in his new and improved room.
“So, are you all ready?” Tan claps his hands together.
Most of the “yaaaaasssss!” volume comes from Jonathan, with the other cast members accounting for any hoots beyond a polite scattering of applause. Sam himself is too busy trying hard to hide his disappointment from his face to join in with the cheers, while Jack looks around somewhat confused, and Cas stares at Tan blankly. It’s not smitey enough to have Sam worried, but as it is, he has no idea how to place that look. If he had to compare it to anything, he’d say it’s Cas’ FBI stare. The one where Dean told him not to fuck this up and Cas has trouble remembering everything he has to lie about and thus prefers to just silently stare people into the ground.
Sam is still looking at Cas when Dean comes out and it wouldn’t take the applause from the others to know. Cas’ eyes widen as he takes in Dean and there is suddenly a blush of color on his cheeks. And why the hell did Cas wear his stupid oversized suit? It’s so obvious that getting ripped out of their usual trot is what’s needed to make these two finally get their shit together.
Sam grumbles about that even while he finally looks over at Dean, who is currently performing a little twirl for everyone.
“We’ve picked out several outfits going from casual to formal, but all of them have one thing in common: color. Almost everything Dean owned before was muted. None of the clothes were bad or ill-fitting, but they were clothes made to tone your personality down. To hide behind. What we want, though, is clothes that make Dean shine. We went for a salmon shirt in a slim cut here, but honestly Dean can wear pretty much any color and it will look good on him. It’s complemented with low-cut slim jeans and we’re doing the front tuck for the shirt because it’s cool. Do you think it’s cool?”
There are few “hell yeah” calls and a wolf-whistle from Antoni.
“What do you think, honey?” Jonathan turns to Sam.
“Looks pink to me,” Sam shrugs.
“Salmon!” Dean and Tan correct him in unison.
“Not there’s anything wrong with a guy wearing pink,” Tan immediately makes clear. “It’s just that it is a very different color from this one.”
Sam nods obediently. He doesn’t think it makes much of a difference in practical terms. Getting blood stains out of light colors like this without bleaching the material? Almost impossible. Even though - maybe Dean not objecting to wearing this means that he’s finally ready to accept that they should be retiring for good. That there’s a younger generation of hunters to take over, who mostly need them for information, not for them to sprain their old bones wrestling with a rougarou and getting mud and blood all over their salmon shirts.
“But then, this is not the outfit Dean has chosen to keep on for the day anyway. Dean, do you want to go and change into the second outfit?”
“Yep,” Dean nods, his face suddenly slightly pinched.
Is that - nerves? What have they chosen that makes Dean nervous?
When Dean comes back out, Sam on first glance sees absolutely no reason why Dean should be nervous about what he’s wearing.
“Isn’t this a nice change from the dreary black suits Dean wore before?” Tan almost swoons as he brushes out a few wrinkles out of Dean’s new suit.
It’s a dark blue with a subtle checkered pattern. Dean wears a light blue shirt underneath and has finished off the ensemble with dark green tie that has stripes in the same blues as the suit and shirt.
“This is a lovely light material that still has a lot of depth. And this suit fits . I mean look at this!” Tan brushes the jacket to the side so that everyone can admire the way the suit pants hug Dean’s thighs and butt. “This! This says something. This shows who you are! People are going to flock to you when you wear this!”
While Tan keeps gushing, Sam crosses his arms in front of his chest but doesn’t do much to hide his grin. Okay, he sees where the nervousness would come in. Cas might not have gotten the memo, but Dean? Wearing blue and green out of all colors he could use to show ‘who he is’ ? Yeah, subtle is not a thing Sam would accuse his brother of being.
Still. Sam’s gaze wanders back over to Cas who keeps silently staring. It’ll need more than this. Hints alone are not going to deliver Sam from the decade of unrelenting sexual tension and stares.
But there’s no time to figure out a tactic right now, because Bobby already invites Dean to invite everyone back to his room to see the changes the team has made. Well, Sam’s usually quick on the uptake, he’ll just have to find some angle off the top of his head later. For now, he follows the others to Dean’s new room.
Which - whoa! Sam already thought Jack’s room turned out pretty fucking great, but Dean’s room is on a whole another level. Starting with how bright it is.
“Artificial daylight windows! The next best thing if you live in a bunker and don’t have actual natural light,” Bobby explains proudly. “Doesn’t it immediately make the room one hundred percent less depressing?”
Sam definitely agrees, to a degree actually, that he is absolutely sure that he needs one of those in his room as well or he’s going to spend all of his time in here.
“Now, now, Sammy, you’re turning green, you’re so envious,” Dean grins. “Don’t hulk out on us and instead let me remind you that this was all your idea in the first place.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Sam grumbles and holds Jack back before he can in his teenage curiosity try to find out about how the artificial daylight works by ripping the new installments right out of the wall again.
In the meantime, Cas has started cautiously prodding the bed, which is draped in new sheets with a white and light blue pattern like the whole bedding is made up out of fluffy clouds in a summer sky.
“Ah, you’ve noticed!” Bobby exclaims and puts a hand on the bed as well to test its give. “It is a king size now. We thought a queen might be a little tight for two guys who are over six foot tall.” He holds out his hands appeasingly immediately, “It is a memory foam mattress, though, so all is well. I wouldn’t want to incur Dean’s wrath by giving him anything less than that. Also, the old mattress serves a good purpose still. We’ve exchanged it against Jack’s old mattress. A good mattress is an important step to dealing with insomnia. Healthy sleep makes absolutely everything easier.”
Cas nods a little dubiously.
“Just sit down, man,” Dean encourages him and lets himself fall down on the new bed as well. “No way you’ll be able to tell how comfy it is just by poking at it.”
Cas looks at Dean, then at the cameras, then back at Dean, before he carefully sinks down.
“And? Do you like it?” Dean asks.
“I like it,” Cas confirms gravely, prompting what Sam would characterize as a relieved smile from Dean.
It’s only then that he notices, “Hey, how did you even get a king-sized bed into this room?”
“Ah! Good that you ask!” Bobby is immediately excited again. “This room is actually two rooms! We broke through the wall and combined the neighboring room with Dean’s original room. It doesn’t look as big as it would because of this.” He opens a large two-wing door on the left side of the room to reveal a walk-in closet. The lights in the closet automatically turn on when opening the doors, shining down on neat rows of color-coordinated clothes.
“Yes! We gave the clothes so much more room to live and breathe! And look at all the wonderful colors! It’s a veritable rainbow! A color for every mood and fancy that could strike in the morning. Gone are the days of dank, dark corners and equally dank and dark clothes.”
Tan looks over his work proudly while Karamo turns around and points a finger at Jack. “Pop quiz: What have we talked about yesterday? What do we not do with closets, even if they’re bright and wonderful like this one?”
“Live in them,” Jack says earnestly. “Only clothes live in closets.”
“Bingo!” Karamo goes over to Jack and holds his hand up for a high five, which Jack hesitantly returns.
Then he apparently feels both Dean’s and Sam’s incredulous gazes on him because he rubs his neck awkwardly. “Karamo bought me the Harry Potter series. He said that I must read it because everyone should have read it at least once.”
Tan laughs. “Even though the wizards make questionable fashion choices, I agree with the sentiment about living in closets, so I guess it’s a good gift Karamo gave you.”
That brings mumbles of agreement from all corners before Bobby comes forward again. “You may have noticed this wall.” He points at the space over Dean’s bed that had formerly held a collection of his favorite weapons and that is now painted in a very light blue that matches the new bedding. “And you may have noticed that some of these frames -” he points at the various frames that are decorated in the space - “are not filled yet.”
Sam looks closer and yes, what he had taken for art are indeed just pieces of paper with different quotes on them, all of the quotes amounting to something like ‘fill me with memories’ .
“We have already filled a few of the frames with pictures of you and your family, of your parents and your past. But these, these empty frames, they represent the future. All of the adventures that are still to come. Fill them with as many happy memories as you can. With portraits of your loved ones, with vacations at the beach, with everything that makes you happy.”
“I have in fact,” Karamo steps forward and holds out a printed photo to Dean, “taken the liberty to make a start for you on that.”
Sam’s close enough that even though it’s upside down for him, he can see the picture. It’s a candid from their dancing lessons yesterday. It’s not clear whether Dean and Cas are currently in a tango hold because the picture focuses on their faces. They’re both flushed from exertion, and they are smiling, as always looking at each other like they are all that exists in the world.
Sam expects Dean to gruffly brush over this like he does with anything that might become emotional. But instead, his eyes turn soft as he holds out the photo to Cas so that he can see it, too.
“You wanna decide which frame this goes in?” Dean asks.
Cas smiles back at Dean, eyes just as soft. “The one in the middle, right above the pillows. It has just the right size.”
“Done,” Dean smiles back.
Somehow, they lose Cas on the way back to the kitchen for their promised Bacon Avocado Bombs.
“Where did Cas go?” Sam asks with a frown.
“Oh, he’ll be here in a moment, don’t worry,” Dean says lightly before turning around to the oven to take out the avocados. His suit jacket hangs over the back of a chair for now, his sleeves are rolled up and an apron makes sure that none of the sizzling fat splatters on the new clothes.
There are two avocados, and their smell is amazing. Sam has a hard time concentrating on anything else, and his stomach immediately rumbles.
Dean obviously hears it, because he chuckles before he carefully slices the avocado bombs in half along their pre-sliced edges. He decorates each avocado on one plate.
“Only two plates?” Sam frowns.
“Yep,” Dean confirms. “Only two plates.” Then he looks up, his gaze getting drawn to something behind Sam and getting stuck there. Absentmindedly, Dean drops his knife onto the counter, wipes his hands and draws the apron over his head to get rid of it. “Cas and I won’t be needing any.”
It’s only then that Sam turns around and - he blinks. But it’s not an apparition, it is, in fact, Cas, who comes closer now, shy smile on his lips.
He’s wearing a dark button-down with a regular print pattern on it - and are these? Yes, these are little knives printed on the shirt - and he’s wearing a tight-fitting pair of jeans with it.
“Is this good enough for where we’re going?” He asks Dean a little insecurely. “You’re wearing a suit.”
“It is good enough,” Dean says and audibly swallows. “Goddamn, but it is more than good enough.”
“Blasphemy, Dean,” Cas scolds with a warm smile.
“Yeah, yeah,” Dean waves the comment aside and instead grabs Cas’ hands. “Let me look at you, man. You look good!”
A blush tints Cas’ face again as he looks up at Dean. “So do you,” he smiles.
Dean apparently doesn’t really have other words because he keeps staring at Cas, not letting go of his hands.
“Come on, come on, come on,” Sam whispers, praying to every deity they’ve ever met that this is it.
Cas takes another step closer to Dean. And there really isn’t any room anymore to get closer. He ends up right against Dean’s chest, now having to look up at him. “I didn’t think it was true. But they do make me feel different, these clothes.”
“Yeah?” Dean asks, voice scratchy like his throat is too dry.
“Yeah,” Cas confirms.
And then he goes up on tiptoes and Dean leans down and then -
“Oh thank God.” Sam can feel the relief course through every bone of his body. “Finally.” And then half a minute later, “Jack, come here, concentrate on your avocado. You’re too young to see this.” Because really, Sam feels too young to see this and this is with Dean and Cas doing no more than kissing while fully clothed.
Though apparently Dean hears Sam’s comment because he starts chuckling against Cas’ lips. It still seems to take a moment to rein in the kiss. Like it is impossible for them to separate now that they have tested how it is like to be as close as they can be. And even when they do separate, they stay close enough that it’s still as if they were attached at the - everything. Sam shakes his head, though the relief is still strong. Nothing can be worse than the decade of pining.
“No need to be concerned, Sam,” Dean says jovially, “Cas and I have a kid- and brother-free date to get to now. So as long as you don’t wait up for us, your precious sensibilities shouldn’t get offended.” He grins and pulls Cas with him towards the exit, stopping only once when it looks like some of the crew want to follow them. “This date will be camera-free, too! None of you is going to step foot in Baby!”
He yells it, and then he and Cas are gone, leaving a confused group of crew members behind, while the director calls out to stop rolling.
“His car,” Sam explains to Jonathan, who has come up next to him. “He means his car.”
Jonathan chuckles. Then he puts an envelope on the table that’s almost bursting it’s so full. “Here. It’s your cut, darling,” he explains when Sam stares at the bills in the envelope without comprehending.
“This is - a lot of money.”
“It is indeed,” Jonathan grins. “We’ve earned it, love, we’ve earned it. They should have known better after yesterday. Betting against those two kissing? That was a losing bet from the start.”
“They did that, right? I didn’t hallucinate it? They really kissed? And went on a date together?”
“Yaaas, they did that,” Jonathan grins excitedly.
“Yes,” Sam allows himself to smile as well. “Yes, they did. I won. We won! They won!” He blurts out, provoking bright laughter from Jonathan. Which can of course only be answered one way: His arms already stretched out, Sam shouts, “Yassss, Queen!” and then envelops Jonathan in his best moose hug.
Chapter 8: Exit Interview Sam Winchester
SAM: “No really, I don’t have the right words. I just don’t. So...”
SAM JUMPS UP FROM HIS CHAIR, RUNS TOWARDS THE CAMERA AND THEN OUT OF FRAME. AN ‘OOMPF’ SOUND CAN BE HEARD.
SAM (OFF-CAMERA): “Thank you, just thank you! Yes, I’m gonna hug every single one of you. No, don’t run! Wait! Let me love you!”
SCREEN FADES TO BLACK