Dean was confused. This wasn't an uncommon thing seeing as he was incredibly hard-headed, but this time it wasn't What killed those teens? or What should I order for lunch?, it was about Cas. The words Cas and weird could often be grouped into the same sentence, but this was different. When it came to angels, a lot of things are confusing, but Dean wasn't confused on the actual thing, more like the reaction to said thing. The "thing" was the ring of blue fire that swirled over Castiel's head, something Dean could only assume to be his halo.
What was confusing Dean, was that no one seemed to comment on it, or even notice it. But to Dean? It was enchanting. He couldn't stop noticing it.
It was stunning, a ring of blue fire, constantly swirling. Sometimes it rotated slowly, other times it spun so fast it was barely a blur. It moved up and down too, sometimes sitting atop the angel's hair, other times floating more than a foot over his head. It provided no heat but glowed. It seemed to change in brightness also. Sometimes being a faint glow, and other times glowing so bright it challenged the sun.
After observing Cas for a while, Dean concluded the halo corresponded to the angel's emotions. Cas was happy? The halo would rise. Cas was thinking hard or fast, the halos rotation would speed up. When Cas didn't understand something, the halo, like his head, tilted slightly to one side. When Cas felt strongly about something, or when he tapped into his grace, the fire burned brighter. And Vise Versa.
Of course, these were all guesses on Deans part, he wasn't actually one hundred percent sure what the movements meant. He was quite confident in his assumption, but he didn't dare ask Castiel. He didn't want to pressure the angel or, to be frank, seem stupid. He felt that talking about halo's was a personal topic, seeing as no one discussed them.
But it was strange though, no one seemed to notice about the beautiful fire that rested above the angel's head. No one seemed to care. So far, Dean couldn't see any other angel's halo's, which bothered him even more. What if something was wrong with Castiel?
Eventually, he decided to ask Sam. He approached his brother in the war room when Cas was out doing who knows what who knows where. Right now there wasn't a case or any world situations that had the potential to bite them in the ass if they focused on something else for a moment. So Dean took this rare chance of a grey area to ask Sam before the chance slipped between his fingers.
"Heyya Sammy, can I ask you something?" Sam looked up from his computer at his brother, an eyebrow raised.
"Yeah sure, what's up?"
"I wanted to ask about" Dean paused for a moment, unsure why he felt a sudden tightening in his chest when talking about Cas, "About Cas' halo. For example-"
Dean was cut off by his brother "Cas doesn't have a halo," Sam said simply, his voice filled with confusion and interest.
"Uh, what the fuck do you think that glowing ring on top of his head is, dumbass?" Dean shot back, a bit more hostile than he meant to.
"Dean, there is no 'glowing ring' on top of his head," Sam said. Both boys sat quietly for a few seconds, organizing their thoughts. Sam seemed to zone out completely before sighing and saying, " Why don't we just call Cas down here and ask him?"
"Yeah," Dean said trying to keep a sense of calm in his voice. He really didn't want to ask the angel about the halo issue. He began regretting coming to Sam. It would have been better if I just kept my mouth shut, he thought. " Castiel, Castiel, who may or may not be fucking up the world right now, can you get your feathery white ass down here, we gotta ask you something,"
Sam shot one of his famous bitch faces to Dean, but a moment later a displacement of air and rustle of feathers broke the silence of the bunker. There stood the trenchcoated angel, sporting his usual poker face.
"Hello, Dean... Sam" Cas said, nodding his head slightly at the boys.
Dean looked to the top of Cas' head and there it was, the beautiful ring of blue fire. It spun lazily and was slightly tilted to the left. The fire burned bright as the angel looked into the older Winchester's eyes.
"Cas do you have a halo?" Sam asked bluntly, eying the top of the man's head.
Cas immediately looked to the floor as if he wanted it to crack open and swallow him whole. His face was tinted pink as he stood there. Dean watched as the halo moved closer to the angel's head and started to spin faster. Cas finally nodded.
"Why do you ask," His eyes flew to Dean's, searching the green pools for an answer.
Dean blanked. Was seeing an angel's halo a bad thing? Did he make Cas uncomfortable? From the way the man blushed, probably. He was about to apologize and tell Cas it really didn't matter when Sam, who seemed to be ignoring the tension and awkwardness of the room, answered for him.
"Dean can see your Halo," He stated simply. His fingers began to tap silently on the map table as he awaited the answer, clearly intrigued what this meant for his brother and the angel.
Dean didn't think it was possible but the angel became redder. He was sure if he walked to the kitchen and got one of his brother's apples, Cas would be the same color. His halo kept rising high, then falling back down to his head. It moved like an ocean tide only much faster. The halo was spinning so fast it was only a blur. Dean was staring at it and immediately Cas noticed and looked back at the floor, his halo moved so far down, it looked more like a crown.
"Judging by the way that moved, I'm guessing this ain't good," Dean commented to no one in particular. His hands were by his sides, swinging slightly.
"Wait it moves?" Sam questioned with wide eyes. Cas also seemed confused, tilting his head to the side, the halo moved along with it. Dean explained how the halo moved, how it glew, how it spun.
Cas stared at Dean for a few seconds before returning his gaze to the floor. Sam exchanged a look with his brother that said What is he hiding?, then returned his gaze straight, zoning out. Dean pressed his palms together and rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet. The boys stood quietly for what seemed like hours but was, in reality, only mere moments. Dean finally broke the deafening silence.
"So, what does it mean if I can see your halo?" The question hung in the air for a few seconds.
Cas looked up towards Dean, not quite meeting the other man's eyes. He opened his mouth to speak and nothing came out. He closed it then opened it again quickly. The angel did this a couple of times, standing there looking like a fish out of water.
"It means nothing of import. Do not concern yourself with it." Castiel finally responded. His face was completely emotionless but his halo stayed pressed against his head, moving very slowly. In a blink, the angel was gone from the bunker, leaving the brothers to ponder what he had said.
"Well I definitely won't worry about that," Dean remarked, staring at the spot the angel previously occupied.
"Yeah, that was strange," Sam paused, opening his laptop. "Let's see if we can find anything in the lore. Cas definitely doesn't seem like he's gonna be much help here."
Dean nodded and began his trek to the kitchen to get a round of beers. If he was gonna sit down and do research, he wasn't gonna do it sober, that's for sure.
And so with that, the boys got to work, Sam scrolling through websites on his laptop and Dean flipping through the Men of Letters archive page by page. The bunker was quiet besides the tapping of keys and the flipping of pages. In the archive, there wasn't a whole lot about angels, but Dean still thought it was worth a shot. The Men of Letters had a 500-page book (only volume one) about werewolf transgenderism, why not this?
Minutes of research quickly turned to hours, and the boys still drew nothing. Any lore they did find seemed sketchy at best.
"Hey remember when Cas referred to a 'Profound bond' that connected you two?" Sam asked, halfway to their fifth hour of research. He mimed the air quotes around profound bond. "Maybe it has something to do with this."
"Yeah," Dean replied, rubbing his eyes and getting up to stretch. He grabbed his half drunken beer and took a swig. "Now that I think about it, he was weird with that too."
The hunters continued the hellish amount of research for another hour. Dean was about to call it quits to go watch a movie or something before his brains blew out, when Sam turned the computer towards him. On the screen was an article matched with a picture of a huge creature with thousands of eyes and two large wings. It was stunning but also fearsome.
"So get this," Sam said his usual phrase as he started to explain what he found. His hands were waving in the air as he spoke. "Halos are supposedly a connection to the angel's true form. It kind of blinds them to a vessel. It's also connecting them to their grace, allowing them to access it while possessing someone."
"So what does it mean if I can see one?" Dean asked, looking back up at his brother.
"Well," A small smirk that worried Dean appeared on the younger Winchester's face. "Angel's can't even see each other's halo's, let alone humans. It is a rare occurrence to see a halo, one of the closest things to an angel's true visage, but can occasionally be done by humans. Turns out we were right with the whole 'Profound Bond' thing, in order to see a halo, you must be soulmates with the angel."
Dean blushed then shot to his own defense. "Soulmates? What do you mean soulmates, Sam? I'm not gay. I don't like Cas. The guy doesn't like me. End of story"
Sam shot Dean a bitch face that could rival the power of gods. "Okay so first, the previous comment set aside, angel's mating systems work similar to arranged marriages. At birth, or rather creation, angel's are assigned a soulmate by god. According to the lore, these soulmates are usually angel's but on very rare occurrences, humans can be chosen. It's actually really interesting, I want to ask Cas about it later." Sam paused, looking into his brother's eyes. " Now, back to that comment. Dean, I am not blind, I can see how you look at Cas, like he's the only light in the dark. I've seen the way you act when he's gone or worse, you're a nervous wreck. You care for him, I know you do, and not just as a friend or brother. I'm fine with it Dean, if it makes you happy just go for it. And by the way Cas looks at you, he will definitely be fine with it."
Sam flashed him a small smile as he tapped his leg up and down frantically. It was true, Dean had always liked the angel more than platonically, but was it actually love? Were they actually soulmates, handpicked by the big man upstairs himself? The idea made Dean's head spin. Demons, vamps, werewolves, or a wendigo? He's your guy. But love? Absolutely not. Dean Winchester didn't know shit about love.
Dean took a few more seconds to reply. He had been relieved that Sam was fine with him dating not only Cas, but a guy in general. He had always been worried that his brother would have been harsh or unaccepting like his father. The first time he brought a boy 'home' was too nerve-racking to relive, but let's just say it ended very badly. John wasn't exactly approving, hell he still had scars. But he also was getting increasingly stressed as each moment passed. What would Cas think? He clearly hadn't seemed happy with the news.
Dean finally asked, "How'd you find out?"
"Well, as someone who has to live in a bunker with enough sexual tension to fill a book, I would notice."
He paused for a moment, spinning his laptop around and closing it in one swift movement. "That's also the way I used to look at Jess," He choked a little on her name. Sam got up, taking his laptop with him and began to exit the room.
Before he left, the younger hunter added, "If you have the chance to be happy, take it. Don't mess this up, Dean"
Dean sat there for a moment before calling Castiel. He wanted to bottle his feelings and just tell the angel already, but at the same time, he wanted to just forget the entire situation and down a few bottles of beer. He decided to do the former, mostly as a silent promise to his brother, but also because he was generally curious about the situation. Let's just get this over with, he thought.
"Cas, buddy, I gotta have a word with you. Got your ears on?" Dean prayed out loud.
A moment of silence, which seemed to last an eternity, filled the room. Then a displacement of air and a flutter of wings made Dean turn. There stood the angel, his halo a few inches above his head and spinning fast. His face showed no emotion, as usual.
"Hey Cas, can we talk for a minute?" Dean fidgeted, his foot lightly tapping against the floor in stress.
"Of course Dean, "The angel paused, his halo spinning slightly faster. "You know I enjoy our talks. And our time together."
"I wanted to ask about what the halo meant again," Dean replied, opting to ask the angel again in the slim possibility that Castiel would grow a pair so he didn't have to.
"I told you, Dean. It is not of import," Cas answered with a warning tone and stare.
"Why won't you tell me? Are you ashamed of the answer?" Dean was standing now and took a step towards the angel.
"No- No I am not- I'm not ashamed," Cas replied quickly, his eyes shifting to the floor. The next part he whispered quietly under his breath. He intended for Dean not to hear it; Dean heard it anyway. "Actually I'm rather thrilled."
Dean's eyes widened and breath hitched."So, thrilled to be my soulmate then? Huh," He replied playfully, hoping the nervousness in his voice didn't show.
The angel's eyes shot up to meet Dean. A thick blush overcame his face. The ring of blue fire rose up a few inches then fell back down. "How do you know about that?" Cas' eyes held Deans, hiding behind the briny blue depths was a deep fear.
Why would he be afraid?
"Sam and I looked it up," Dean said, regaining a bit of calmness after seeing that Cas was nervous and scared too. "What's the big deal about telling us?"
The man stayed quiet for a while, looking into Dean's eyes for any sign of emotion. His hands fidgeted at his sides. Cas then answered in a voice that was way smaller than someone the size of the Chrysler building.
"I did not want to burden or disappoint you with unimportant news,"
"Unimportant?" Dean said the word before he realized he even opened his mouth.
Neither man was yelling, they were actually talking quite softly to each other, but it felt like yelling. It felt like all the world's tension was bottled up and in the room at the moment. It felt like the rest of the world had dissipated.
"Because it is unimportant. You bear no feelings towards me," The angel paused. "And that is fine. It is best to be ignorant of it and move on."
Dean took a moment to think. To actually think of the situation relative to the future and the rest of his life. Before Cas entered his world, it was a vicious cycle of find the monster and gank it, now though, it was much more. His life seemed to have more purpose than to protect Sammy. It was having a place to call home, it was having periods of stability, it was having friends, and above all, it was having a family, having Sam and Cas by his side.
Dean thought back to when he first met the angel. The day when they both stood in that barn in Pontiac, Illinois. That day felt like eons ago, so much had happened since then, but Dean remembered it perfectly.
It was cold and slightly windy, the sky was dark and the night seemed threatening, but that might have been the fear in his own chest. He sat there with Bobby, surrounded by a hundred different symbols, each a different pledge of protection, from cultures all around the world. They both had a million idea's of the monster that could walk through those doors, but both had a definite feeling it was a powerful demon, even though demons claimed they didn't know or understand either. All they knew was this "Castiel" creature most likely had evil intent and they had to kill it.
When Castiel first entered the barn, the air seemed to be filled with electricity, or possibly that might have been the light bulbs bursting overhead. The man's face seemed to be filled with no emotion, yet the halo on top of his head was spinning quite fast. Dean hadn't commented on the blue ring of fire, mainly due to the fact that he thought he was about to be ganked by some demonic being.
Dean and Bobby both immediately shot at Cas, as he walked right over a devils trap effortlessly, pumping salt into his chest. He seemed to be unaffected, instead just continuing to walk forward towards the hunters. Dean started to panic when the salt didn't take effect, and the symbols didn't seem to work either. We are so fucked.
As Castiel got closer, both men stopped shooting, as it was clearly ineffective. Dean moved to the table cautiously and quickly grabbed Ruby's demon knife, something that could hopefully kill the monster. As he clutched it in his hand, the man stopped in front of him, looking him deep in the eyes.
Dean looked into those deep blue eyes he would soon come to love. They were mesmerizing and beautiful, yet powerful and creepy. Although he looked like a tax accountant, there was a certain power that radiated off him, like the air surrounding him was filled with lighting.
"Who are you," Dean demanded
"I'm the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition," Castiel said simply, as it was the most casual thing in the world.
"Yeah. Thanks for that,"
Dean plunged the knife into the man's chest. Blood started dripping down his chest, staining the tattered trench coat. He expected a glow of orange to radiate from the man's skin. He expected a horrifying shriek in pain. He expected so sort of reaction. He did not expect a confused head tilt and almost offended stare.
He backed up as the man pulled the knife from his chest with ease, letting it fall to the floor. His eyes fixated on Dean, Bobby swung his gun to knock out the man. Without looking Castiel caught the weapon, swung Bobby around and pressed two fingers to his forehead, making him pass out instantly. Bobby crumpled to the floor as Dean ran over to him.
Castiel moved towards the stack of books lying on the table, examining one of them with seemingly great interest. Dean checked Bobby's pulse, thankfully he was still alive. Dean tried to wake him but to no avail. He glared at the man and rose from the floor.
"Your friend is alive," He said, not looking up from the book.
"Who are you?" Dean said, a bite in his voice.
"Castiel," He looked toward Dean innocently.
"Yeah, I figured that much, I mean what are you?" Dean replied, rolling his eyes.
"I'm an Angel of the Lord"
And that was their first encounter. Was Dean intimidated and just a tad scared for his life? Absolutely. Did he know that this Angel, who looked like a tax accountant, would become one of the most important figures in his life? No.
I suppose we don't really know where life will lead us when we meet someone, certainly no exceptions for angels. Dean looked back at this and smiled. It had been different back then, very different. The biggest threat they had to face was the seals breaking and the "inevitable" apocalypse. A million things had happened since then, not all of it was good, but Dean was glad he got to know more about the angel. Glad he could spend more time with him.
"Because it is unimportant. You bear no feelings towards me," The angel paused. "And that is fine. It is best to be ignorant of it and move on."
Dean bit his lip, reflecting on all the things he had just thought about. Do I really like Cas? As more than just a brother? Dean thought back to the way the angel made him feel. The way he felt when Cas walked into a room. The way he wanted to smile when Cas smiled. Yep, I think I definitely like him more than just a friend or brother.
Then he said something a bit daring, hoping Cas would understand what he meant. "And who says I don't?"
Castiel cocked his head to the side. "Well, you clearly exempt no feelings towards me. Also, you are attracted to women, not men, and this vessel is male. Although I could change vessels, Jimmy sacrificed his life, and personally, I do like this vessel."
Dean sighed. This was going to be harder than he thought. He wasn't the one to talk about his feelings to anyone, even his brother, but then again, Cas wasn't just anyone.
Cas was the dorky little angel who watched over the Winchesters. Cas was an absolute badass but also took time to appreciate the small things, such as bees. Cas was very smart, but couldn't understand things like wordplay. Cas was incredibly sassy, but also quite kind. Cas was a lot of things, but "just another person" was never it, and it never would be. He was different from everyone else, and that's part of what Dean loved.
"Well you aren't your vessel," Dean said, once again taking the hardest fucking route through the conversation.
"Of course not, but I like this form. A vessel of an angel bares no resemblance to the angel itself, but in a sense, this is my body now. This body-" Cas said, still not getting the point. Dean interrupted him.
"Cas, I don't care about your fucking meatsuit!" He said sternly, a tad louder than he meant.
Cas looked at him. They had been maintaining eye contact most of the conversation, but this was different. It was like the angel was looking through him rather than at him. It felt like he was looking at his entire being, not just his body. It was nerve-racking but also strangely pleasant.
"Cas, what are you doing?"
"Nothing," Cas replied, his halo continuing to swirl, this time only a tad slower.
"You're lying," Dean accused. "What are you doing, Cas?"
Cas sighed, "I am examining your soul, looking at how bright it shines. Sorry."
"No reason," Cas replied and Dean knew he was being sincere. "It's very bright you know, the brightest I have ever seen."
"Your halo is quite bright too," The halo rose at the compliment. " Actually it's quite beautiful. Definitely one of the prettiest things I've seen."
Dean didn't describe things as beautiful or pretty. Yes, girls were "pretty", but this was different. The halo was unearthly and eternally beautiful. It was pure and raw and untainted. It was a different kind of beauty and Dean knew it. It was the kind of beauty you could spend a lifetime describing and still not get through half of it.
"Thank you," Cas was blushing lightly now, his hands twitched slightly at his sides. "This will not affect our friendship, correct?"
"Yes, it will," Replied Dean the dumbass, trying to drop a hint. Ultimately it failed because Cas' halo dropped down as low as it could go. The angel swayed back and forth a little, his fists clenched.
"Then I guess I'll just be- I have to..." Cas responded sounding like he was about to cry, his eyes were focused on the wooden floor. "I will be going now."
Dean moved closer to the angel before he flew away. He grabbed his hand, Cas flinching at the touch and looking up in slight panic.
"Wait," Dean said softly.
Dean's hand felt good in Castiel's. He felt at home there, like that's where he was always meant to be. They stood there in silence for a few moments, the tension thicker than the Order Of The Phoenix. Both men were anxious for something to happen, though neither one moved. Dean squeezed Castiel's hand lightly, still looking into those electric blue eyes.
"Our friendship is going to change, Cas. It's going to change a lot," Dean whispered.
He was taking a risk. He could back down and keep his best friend, forgetting all this ever happened. Or he could take action, either fucking himself exponentially or finally getting his happy ending with Cas. Both options scared him.
What if this isn't what I actually want. What if this is just some stupid crush. What if Cas doesn't feel the same way. What if I lose my best friend? I can't lose him, not again. His thoughts ran through his head faster than light, all causing a sudden tightening in his chest. Oh, fuck it.
Dean did something unthinkable for someone as emotionally constipated as him. Castiel may not understand words or hints, but he sure would understand this. Dean closed the space between him and Cas, lips pressed against the angels. It was chaste and slow, not how Dean would normally kiss someone, but then again, Cas wasn't just someone.
Castiel's eyes flew wide open, completely shocked by the kiss. He then sank into it, closing his eyes and simply enjoying the moment. The kiss felt like coming home, a real home. It felt like fireworks and pure raw joy. It felt like stability and the beginning of an era. It felt wonderful, certainly one of the most remarkable feelings in the universe.
One moment the kiss the sweet and innocent, the next Dean was pressed firmly against the wall. Cas' hand was entangled in Deans hair, pulling at it with a lustful passion. The angel slid his tongue along Dean's bottom lip, a silent plea to enter. Dean moaned and as he opened his mouth, Castiel thrusted his tongue inside.
Eventually, both men disconnected, as the need for air was (barely) more urgent than the need for a kiss. Both men breathing heavy, smiles painted across their faces, actual smiles. Smiles that weren't caused by saving the world or saving someone, no artificial happiness caused after dodging the edge of the knife. This was happiness caused by something much more innocent, like when Crowley slips and busts his ass in the parking lot.
"That was, interesting," Dean panted. "Where'd you learn to kiss like that?"
"I learned that from the pizza man," Cas said slightly embarrassed.
"The pizza man!" Dean laughed, crumpling to the floor. On his descent, he grabbed Cas' wrist and pulled him down too.
They both sat on the ground smiling and laughing. The boys laid down on the floor side by side, looking into the depths of each other's eyes.
Dean never realized all the love that radiated from Castiel's eyes. He was so caught up in self-hatred, in the belief that no one could love him, he never realized someone already did. He never realized how soft Cas' voice was when speaking to him. He never realized the soft touches or careful steps. Now though they seemed so apparent to him, like they were the most obvious things in the world.
He now noticed the love in the angel's eyes, how they lit up like tiny suns in this small moment. He noticed how Cas was laughing and smiling wholeheartedly, unlike lots of other times in the past. And he loved it. He loved how the angel looked so happy and content, it made him feel happy too.
"So you aren't angry that we are soulmates?" Castiel asked in a whisper, afraid of the answer. The fear showed in his eyes, wading in the electric pools. Cas' wondered if he had gotten the wrong idea.
"No, I'm not mad," Dean asked. He paused and gulped, choking out the next few words slowly. "I-I love you, Castiel"
Cas paused and smiled, "I love you too, Dean."
Dean glanced up at the halo, the start of this entire mess. It was higher and brighter than he'd ever seen it. It spun lazily. Castiel was clearly happy, and for the first time in a long time, so was Dean. The halo might have been trouble at first but Dean was now glad he asked. He was glad he was able to be happy, at least temporarily, and that wasn't so bad.
Dean always thought destiny could go fuck itself. That was the entire reason they were still here wasn't it? The entire mission of Team Free Will was to tell destiny to fuck itself and let humanity to take its own path. But destiny often came with trouble, like nuking half the planet. Destiny often was more than a hassle to change, but they always inevitably changed it. But just this once? Dean could let "destiny" take control. He didn't mind it to be destiny that he and Cas were together. For the first time in his life, Dean Winchester was pretty damn happy destiny decided to take the wheel for a little while.