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Sooner or Later

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The Jacket Club was misleadingly named, Cas thought, heart beating fast as he stripped naked in the clean and comfortable locker room.

You didn’t need a jacket. You needed to be naked, or at least stripped to your skivvies, because you were going to jack off in a roomful of other men. The website said, “No lips below the hips” and “Nothing goes inside anybody’s anything”. It was supposed to be a celebration of men’s sexual energy. You weren’t supposed to talk. It was supposed to be completely anonymous.

He could use some anonymous sex. He felt excited, and weirded-out — he’d cruised bathhouses, but this was something different.

He heard men murmuring on the other side of the locker bank, and looked up, startled, as another man sat across from him.

“Your first time here,” he said. He was a nice-looking bald guy in his fifties, with a beautiful speaking voice. He was also naked, but nudity in context never bothered Cas.

He nodded.

“Do you care if another guy walks up and grabs your dick? We have a wristband system to prevent it if you’re not into it.” He shook a small cardboard box and offered the contents to Cas.

Cas took the red wristband. That was the one that said Ask First. He was okay with those ground rules, and it took all the awkwardness out of grabbing some other guy’s dick if he was already wearing a green wristband that meant “Come On Down!”

He walked out into the main Jacket Room. The regular furniture was covered in special canvas covers so you could blast off anywhere you felt like it and didn’t have to apologize to the host for getting jizz on the chintz.

He rolled his eyes at the amount of cologne, but it wasn’t enough to make him want a refund, so he walked straight up to the couch in the middle of the room and watched five guys, draped across each other and idly stroking themselves and each other. It was absolutely mesmerizing, and so much better than porn, since it really was ordinary looking guys jerking off as slowly as they felt like, instead of looking like they were trying to rip their own dicks off, like on porn sites; it was very chill and everyone was trying to make it last as long as possible.

Cas helped himself to warmed lotion and started to stroke himself, since that was the whole point of the exercise. After a few minutes he made room for another man who had arrived after him, and as he shifted over he felt the man’s hand, warm and welcome, on his shoulder, and he turned to look into his face just long enough to agree to be touched.

What he saw made him catch his breath. The five-man tableau in the middle of the room, faded.

“May I?” the green-eyed god murmured to him from two feet away, and then that same hand was next to his cock.

“Me too, I guess,” Cas said, that being the only thing he could manage to say.

Wordlessly, they got more lotion, and Cas grabbed towels. Wordlessly, they sat astride a bench, facing each other. The other man leaned into Cas and insinuated his hand around his dick in a friendly, and arousing, way. There was a little puff of a laugh from the other man and then Cas slid his right hand down his left flank and spread lotion as smoothly and firmly as he could.

The other man was quiet as he enjoyed it. He let go of Cas’s dick and concentrated on his partner’s steady strokes and teasing ball play, fondling and pulling and cupping. The other man’s breathing quickened but stayed quiet. There was a steady background of grunts and moans across the room, nothing very loud, so they felt perfectly in tune with everyone.

Mostly, his eyes were closed, but after realizing that Cas never took his eyes from him, he countered by staring back, and Cas dropped his eyes to that amazing dick, eight girthy inches of smoking hot hardness. It made him feel almost dizzy, how intense being close to this man was, while looking at him.

Being naked with him in a room full of naked men all jerking themselves — and other men — off was the most liberating moment Cas Novak had ever experienced, and he was doing it with a complete stranger in a city he didn’t even live in.

He left the epiphany behind and attended to the other man’s dick and when he opened those beautiful eyes and briefly showed a dimple Cas felt like he’d do anything, go anywhere, if this man asked. It was an, under the circumstances, ordinary request, “May I come on you,” in a little strangled voice.

Cas said, “Sure,” and felt the first force of the orgasm he had helped create against his belly like the universe had been upended and then put back in place. It was as if he could feel the other man’s orgasm and he whimpered as well, without being too loud, and never letting go, and continuing to wring it from him until he finally let a sigh that turned into a moan and Cas handed him something to clean up with.

“Can I take care of you,” the other man said, after a hazy few minutes during which Cas felt a post-orgasmic stupor, by proxy.

‘Oh, I think so,” Cas said, and the other man looked for two seconds like he was going to kiss him — there were men kissing, but mostly jerking off and giving hand jobs — and then shifted his chin so it was clear he wasn’t going to do that, and Cas melted as the back of a hand brushed the inside of his thigh and enclosed his dick again.

Cas looked him full in the eyes, but dropped his gaze to the amazing things he was doing and he felt his orgasm build, at first lazily and then with a certain almost gravitational force. Under the casual precision of his every stroke, and the occasional stroking motion on his thighs and balls, Cas came with four little grunts, and he didn’t ask for anybody’s permission as he sprayed from the other man’s chin to his pubes, like a teenager. It was against the club rules, but the green-eyed man was smiling an open-mouthed, almost triumphant, smile. “You rebel,” the green-eyed man breathed, and Cas laughed under his breath.

After clean-up and a brief, almost wordless cuddle, slouched artlessly across each other like puppies, they smiled and parted, to check out what else was happening. Cas lost track of him and by the time he realized he should at least make an effort to get contact info, the gorgeous man had left the Jacket Club.

 

Cas had left his rental car in the hotel lot, deciding an Uber would be a better bet on the way back. As he waited outside in the most unwelcome wet snow that had commenced to fall, after a 30% chance of snow forecast, the green-eyed man appeared out of nowhere and kissed him hard, grabbing Cas on the sidewalk, in daylight.

Snowflakes stuck to their lashes. Cas moaned.

It never occurred to Cas to either resist or demand a phone number. They kissed for perhaps a minute. The other man said, “I shouldn’t - I shouldn’t have done that, I’m sorry. Sorry, man,” and, letting go abruptly, he pulled up his collar and put his head down and disappeared into the snow like the Batman.

 

Cas quietly said to the air, “Whoever you are, I love you.”

 

…Two years later

 

Cas was already bone weary when his new boss, a charming man named Sam Winchester, who ran a legal and immigration services charity in Kansas City, suggested a meal downtown, closer to the chic restaurants with vegan offerings, before Cas checked into his long term rental hotel and (finally!) slept.

Sam was quite firm. “There’s no food in that neighbourhood at this time of night that’s worth eating, let alone paying for. Please allow me to take you to someplace where the food isn’t swimming in sugar, salt and palm oil.”

“Honestly, I just want to collapse,” Cas said. It was hard to keep his eyes focussed.

“We’ll get takeout, then,” Sam said, relenting. “I’ll call it in, and we can go pick it up in twenty.”

“That would be preferable,” Cas said.

His head was swimming with exhaustion. The twice-delayed flights, making nice with all the new fellow employees, lack of sleep from nerves the night before the flight — all had combined into a maelstrom. He forced himself to get out of the car and follow Sam into the take-out joint, which was called the Roadhouse, just to prevent himself from falling asleep while he waited for Sam to pay for it.

He walked in, and the green eyed man was standing at the counter facing the door and talking to Sam. The exhaustion, hunger and surprise all mugged him. Sam’s long, sprint-ready legs probably prevented a skull injury, and he caught Cas as he fainted.

 

Sam was cursing himself under his breath; Cas had made his preferences clear and he’d just bulled on through it like a complete… moose. Maybe his brother was right about that.

But it was Dean’s reaction that was really freaking him out.

He rushed to kneel next to Cas and pulled him into his arms, murmuring, “It’s okay, it’s okay, I’m here.”

What in the ever-loving fuck? Sam thought in stupefaction.

Cas came around. He coughed once, and then said, in a tiny little voice, “Is it really you?”

“Yeah,” and here Dean gave a rueful laugh.

“You two know each other?” Sam asked, the amazement now solidly dialled up to eleven.

“We’ve met,” Cas said, in a stronger voice, a voice that stalled more questions without sounding rude. “I should probably eat something and go straight to the hotel.” He scrambled to his feet and quietly apologized for fainting, and Dean was already moving him into a chair. He was touching Cas’s arm with… was Dean staking some sort of claim on him, or what?

Ellen called over, “Order up!”

Dean gave himself a little shake and bustled off to bring their food. Sam said, “So you know Dean.”

“Ah!” Cas said. “That’s his name.”

“You don’t know his name?”

“He, uh, never offered it.”

Sam’s eyes narrowed. “So, where did you meet?”

Cas smiled, politely, but there was the merest chill in his voice when he said, “I’ll let Dean tell you. How do you two know each other?”

Sam was frowning now. “He’s my brother. Seriously, how do you two know each other?”

Cas sucked in a breath. “Brother. Oh, boy. If Dean’s willing to talk about it, I’m trusting him to be honest and kind,” Cas said, “And I’m not going to do any more thinking or talking until I’ve got me on top of some food.”

“Yeah, yeah, sure,” Sam said. He was obviously vibrating from unaskable questions, plus an uneasy feeling that he’d contributed to Cas fainting.

Dean came back and sat across from Cas and stared at him. They stared at each other so long, their expressions so intent, that Sam literally snapped both sets of fingers in front of their faces. They turned to look at him. The bag of food sat unremarked in front of them.

Still they didn’t speak.

“Were you two involved?” Sam finally asked, a thread of incredulity in his voice, which he kept low.

Both Dean and Cas shifted in their seats but didn’t answer, which might as well have made the answer written in the sky, as far as Sam was concerned. “When the hell was this?”

“Two years ago in March,” Cas said, his voice very deep all of a sudden.

Dean’s lips thinned, but if anything his eyes got even bigger, and he wasn’t disputing it.

“You know I’m bi,” Dean ground out, glaring at his brother.

Sam abruptly realized that he was the reason they weren’t talking, and that he needed to leave, immediately.

“I’ll see you at the office tomorrow,” Sam said to Cas, “And you can bring me up to speed then, if you feel like it.” He looked at his brother and tried to keep all the emotion out of his face as he said, “I trust you can get Cas back to his hotel after he’s been fed and watered.”

“Uh, sure, Sam.” To Sam’s astonishment, Dean got up when he did and hugged him, as if Sam had rescued a drowning puppy on live national TV, or sent him back to 1975 when he could still see Zeppelin in all their glory, live, when John Bonham was still around.

The last thing he heard was Dean saying, as he extended his hand, “Dean Winchester,” and Cas replying, taking the hand, “Cas Novak.”

“Cas,” Dean said, as if he was rolling the name around in his mind and his mouth to see how it felt. “Lemme get you home.”

 

His head buzzing, Sam drove home and when Jess greeted him from the kitchen saying, “I thought you were going out for dinner,” in a mildly annoyed voice, he replied in a daze, “I think Dean’s in love.”

“Wha-a-a-at?” Jess called out, and she came out into the living room with oven mitts still on her hands.

“Did you make enough for two?” Sam asked hopefully.

Jess’s face became overly solemn. “I live with you, Sam, I make enough for the two of us and a pair of teenaged boys.”

As if this interruption had not happened, he returned to his worries about Dean. “I dunno. It sure was weird, like they were listening to music no-one else could hear.”

He described what he’d seen and she said, “You decided that he loved this guy on the basis of how he was looking at him?” and Sam responded, “You weren’t there… he held him in his arms like he thought Cas was dying, it was — you had to see his face.”

Sam shook his head and sighed, and then his brow unfurrowed at the look Jess was giving him, and a small, self-mocking smile bloomed in its place.

“I guess I sound foolish.”

Jess was smiling too. “You never sound like a fool to me. Maybe he is in love.” She shrugged, realized she still had the oven mitts on, took them off and hung them up. “Maybe he’s been in love with the guy for two years. My question is, why would he not tell a soul for two years and then when the guy shows up make no effort to hide it?”

“Um,” Sam said, “Because he didn’t know his name before?”

“Oh boy, that’s sad. Sounds like Dean found his one and only during a random hookup and didn’t get his contact details,” Jess said.

“Fuck,” they both said at the same time.

“Our kids are doomed,” Sam said ruefully, after a little pause.

Jess immediately tried to soothe him, “Relax about swearing so much! Some strange grandma from Iceland says that she taught her kids to swear - in three languages - and it was amazing. She gave a TED talk.”

“Mmm. But you’re thinking what I’m thinking,” Sam said.

Jess understood, of course. Her eyes had an awestruck reminiscence to them. “About us. About the first time we had sex.” She tilted her head to look at him. “I knew from the instant you touched me,” Jess said, with tears starting in her eyes, “That I never wanted anyone else to touch me that way.”

“You told me,” Sam said. When they got married, they made public vows but, true to their gnarly, full-contact love-each-other-to-pieces selves, they’d made private vows as well. Very demanding and physical private vows, as he remembered, sometimes. “I couldn’t put words to it, but something was so different about you, about us.”

“Imagine if Dean had that with… “

“Cas. His name is Cas.”

“Right. Imagine if they had that together, or at least Dean felt that way, and he couldn’t find him, or decided not to look.”

“Dean was a skip tracer,” Sam said derisively. “If he can’t find someone, it’s ‘cause the Mob got him first, or — he never got a name.”

“So I wonder if Cas felt the same way?”

“Well —,” Sam said, and Jess made a face.

“What did he say? Did he say anything to make you think he felt the same way?” Jess asked eagerly.

“He knew to the month when he’d last seen him,” Sam said.

“You’re not - what did he say?”

“He said, in this gravelly voice, ‘Two years last March’,” Sam said.

“My god.”

They looked at each other like it was a conspiracy.

“Now that I say it aloud, it does sound pretty much like he thought about him every day.” Sam thought about it, brows furrowed. Jess pulled out the junk drawer and started shoving things around.

“Where was Dean two years ago last March?” Jess said, and then she said, “Aha!” in that tone of voice that all married men learn to dread, because it means your spouse was hunting for some proof and has found it, and maybe not everything will go your way, in consequence.

“What,” he said, flatly resigned.

“Our appointment calendars since we got married,” Jess said.

“You keep them.”

“You bet I do, saved my ass more than once. Well, I lie, it’s more like I won twenty bucks on a bet, since I’m so organized. Charlie wanted to know when we started game nights.” There was a rustle of pages as she flipped through, and Jess said, triumphant, “Dean was in Seattle, installing something for an art gallery. He was there six weeks, right through March.”

“I remember now, he was in a very strange mood when he came back,” Sam said. “Also, Charlie should not have bet against you; I never would.”

Jess self-mockingly poked a finger into a smiling dimple and continued. “Yeah, yeah!” Jess said, “I remember too! He was staring off into space once when we had him over, and I asked him where his thoughts were, and he said something.”

Sam’s eyebrows went up. Even now, he could make her heart skip when he did that. “And?” he said, encouraging.

“I’m trying to remember it right. He said, ‘I either got the best bad news of all time or the worst good news and, either way, life goes on.’ I asked him to elaborate and he gave me the saddest smile I’ve ever seen.”

“Shit, now I remember. I asked him what he was all droopy about and he shrugged, the classic Dean Winchester ‘drop it’ shrug. What the hell happened between them?”

“Sex,” Jess said cheekily. “You know from personal experience that sometimes it’s just that good.

“Hm,” Sam said, and moved forward to kiss her. Things got interesting and breathless for a while. It was why he’d fallen in love with her. Everything between them was on a seamless continuum of eternal trust, plus a mutual sexual attraction that could be observed from Mars.

 

Dean said to Cas, “Give me a minute,” and told Ellen he was leaving. She rolled her eyes at him. “Seriously Dean, I can’t cook orders, wait tables and answer the phone.”

“Then lock the door, set the website to night mode, quit answering the phone, get the last two orders out when the customers come looking and go home, I’ll cover your lost hours.”

“Drop him off and come back,” Ellen said, indicating Cas, who was swaying with weariness, with her nose.

“I can’t guarantee I’ll be back tonight,” Dean said.

“Gawdalmighty, Dean,” Ellen said, shaking her head again. “All right, whatever.”

 

Cas stumbled, on the way to the car, and then he squawked, “Oh my God, my luggage.”

“Sam already put it in the trunk of the Impala,” Dean said.

“Oh,” Cas said. “Your brother has a key to your car?”

“He’s my brother,” Dean said, as if that explained everything.

“I wouldn’t give any of my brothers a key to anything I owned!” Cas said, winding himself up at the very thought.

Cas gave Dean the address and they drove in silence. After a few minutes Dean glanced at Cas; he was out cold.

“Hey, buddy,” Dean said softly, when they arrived.

Cas woke, blinked, blinked again, frowned briefly and then smiled. “I thought I was dreaming,” he said, voice crackling.

“I’m really here.”

“And your name is Dean. It really suits you.”

“My mother in heaven thanks you for your support,” Dean said.

Cas put his hand out to caress Dean’s face, still not sure he was real. Dean cradled the hand in one of his own, and pressed a kiss into it.

Cas said, a faint and crooked smile on his face, “Do you believe in love at first sight?”

“Not until it happened to me,” Dean said. He wasn’t smiling, but it didn’t matter. Cas could feel his breath still streaming across his hand. “Let’s get you situated in your suite before we do any more, uh, talking.”

Cas literally fell asleep on his feet during check-in. Dean had never seen anyone do that before, and checking him in was one of the most surreal experiences of what was becoming the strangest and most wonderful day of his life.

They’d gotten past the point of the desk clerk being very unhappy about Dean attempting to check in a slightly unconscious man. Her name was Renée and she was short and dark, with magnificent warm brown eyes. Dean liked her as soon as he saw her, which was good, because what he was doing could be construed as more than suspect by the small-minded.

A call to Sam had straightened things out, since it was his organization’s card which had held the reservation and was paying for everything.

“Hon,” Dean said. “I mean, Cas. I need your wallet for your ID.”

“Hmhh,” Cas said, as if he believed this was a helpful communication. The desk clerk was openly laughing, and forcing a more serious expression, and failing.

She giggled again. Sobering, Renée said, “There’s a wheelchair behind that door, put him in it.”

Things got easier after that. Dean got the wallet out, got a key - she looked at the both of them again and without asking put two passkeys in the envelope. Then she got out two cookies, instead of one.

Dean said, “You have no idea how helpful you’ve been. Where’s the closest breakfast place?”

After she told him, she said, “How long have you guys been together?”

Dean said, “Two years, less two years.”

“I’m not understanding —?”

Dean said the first thing that came into his mind that wasn’t a lie. “This is a reunion.”

“Oh, oh!” she said, misunderstanding in a good way.

 

Dean transferred Cas to the bed. He woke up, but not entirely, and yawned and blinked at Dean as if all intellectual capacity he had ever achieved had been obliterated.

Then his expression sharpened into awareness and he said, “Did you call me hon?” in an almost scandalized voice.

Dean’s voice wobbled with suppressed laughter. “I did.”

“It was wonderful. I thought I was dreaming. In fact I’m pretty sure I’m sleeping right now.”

“Can I get your shoes off first?” Dean said, almost complaining.

“Are you going to be the rational, practical one?” Cas groaned. Now that a bed was snugged up under his ass, he seemed to have gotten his second wind.

“Oh my god, you put me in a wheelchair,” Cas said, sitting up again.

“I have to take it right back downstairs. You’ll fall asleep while I do that so I’m going to take your shoes off first.”

Cas seemed resistant, but he was teasing. “I don’t know if I’m up for sex, Dean,”

Dean straightened him out on the bed as if he was a rag doll and pulled his shoes off. “Sleep, not sex.”

“That all you got big guy? I got a belt you can wrestle with if you’d like,” Cas snarked. Being thrown around by Dean and then being told there was no sex happening made him feel weirdly happy, as if they’d already been married for ages and Dean was just looking after him like married people do.

“Sam texted you’ve been awake for 36 hours and you’re verging on mental collapse.”

“Those flight delays really took it out of me.”

“I’ll make sure you get enough sleep. When do you want the alarm set?”

“Never, if it means I have to wake up and you’re not here,” Cas said.

“Wow,” Dean said.

“Yeah,” Cas said.

“So — you want me to be here when you wake up?” Dean hazarded.

“You called me hon. Don’t you want to be here too?” Cas asked, in a reasonable voice. “And before I fold up into unconsciousness for at least twelve hours, one question, one that’s been troubling me for almost two years: why did you say sorry and run away?”

Dean’s eyes grew dark, so dark that Cas was almost frightened for him. But he had to know.

Dean sighed, and then sniffed. “Because I didn’t think I was - that I would ever be - good enough for you. Why did you think I ran off?”

“Because you weren’t out.” It had seemed the most logical conclusion at the time. Naked, he was a beautiful man who smelled delicious, whose warm flesh, pressed against his, was like oxygen for his companion-starved soul, whose hands were a practiced delight. Dressed in that beat up leather jacket and work boots, he looked like a homophobic clueless straight dude on the way to a construction job.

“Well, that too,” Dean said. He laughed. “That would definitely have been part of why I wasn’t good enough for you.”

He got up and waved at the wheelchair. “I really gotta take this back, this is Sam Winchester’s international year of the non-disabled noticing disability rights.”

“Okay,” Cas said. “But it’s bullshit.”

“Disability rights?” Dean said, his eyes bulging slightly.

“No,” Cas said. “You not being good enough for me.”

Dean shook his head slightly, and changed the subject.

“What do you want me to do if you’re asleep when I get back?”

Cas thought about it. “Eat the takeout.” He looked around. “Where is the takeout?”

Dean, messing with Cas’s luggage and the sleepwalking Cas, had been busy. “I forgot it in the car.”

“Well, now you have two reasons to go downstairs,” Cas said. “I think I can manage to get into my jammies while you’re gone.”

“Are you always this sassy?”

“No, I’m the boring brother.”

“Not with your clothes off,” Dean said with an admiring smirk.

“I don’t dispute it, but unless we make porn tapes I’ll have a hard time convincing Gabe of that,” Cas said.

“Porn tapes,” Dean said.

“Wheelchair,” Cas said helpfully. Dean, a stupid smile on his face, left on his errands.

Dean returned five minutes later with the food, and they sat at the two person table set into the wall by the kitchenette and devoured it. “Sorry it’s not as hot as it should be,” Dean said.

“Jesus,” Cas said, mouth full. “I didn’t feel hungry until you opened the bag and then —“

“Shazzam!” Dean said. “Yeah, Ellen is a Hogwarts professor level wizard at the grill.”

“Mes compliments au chef,” Cas said.

“I’ll let her know,” Dean said.

They finished their meal. Cas eyed Dean. “Are you always this noisy when you eat?”

“I was raised by wolves, I know…. I’m working on it; I get the same shit from my sis-in-law all the time,” Dean said.

There was a pause.

“Do you really want me to stay?”

“You want to hear me beg?” Cas asked gently.

“No,” Dean said. “Well, yeah, kinda.”

“Please, please stay,” Cas said.

“Okay,” Dean said.

 

Cas woke up. No Dean.

There was a note propped on the alarm clock, GETTING BREAKFAST BACK SOON D.

Cas gulped in relief. He’d woken once in the night, and Dean, in boxers and a tee, had been lying next to him snoring, but not loud, radiating heat and comfort like a Franklin stove. The note got his heart rate back to normal, and he leaped out of bed to make himself presentable.

He’d been in the bathroom for a while and didn’t know how long Dean had been watching him through the door, his mouth open slightly as if he meant to speak and had been arrested in the act. Cas looked into the bathroom mirror and saw him reflected there, the way he’d been reflected in hundreds of fruitless daydreams.

They ate breakfast burritos and drank amusingly bad coffee, and Dean, sitting astride a chair, watched Cas get dressed.

“So,” Dean said.

“So,” Cas said.

They looked at each other for a while and then Dean said, almost pompously, “It is my intention to date you until either dump me or you decide you want to marry me.”

“We’ve been married for two years already, in my mind,” Cas said.

What?

“Yeah, I suppose I should have mentioned that a lot of people think I’m batshit,” Cas said. “Not usually in a bad way though.”

“You have a stable employment history,” Dean said, after a dramatic pause.

“So did Edgar J. Hoover,” Cas said, and Dean cracked up.

“You mean, J. Edgar Hoover. I wanted you to know that I’m serious,” Dean said, after he recovered.

“So am I. In my version of married life you do most of the cooking.”

There was a little blinking pause. Dean, who had expected to get told that he was past being a creepy stalker, and right into full-on psycho-mode, had not been expecting this.

“O-okay,” Dean said. “But not all of it.”

“No.”

“What do you cook?”

“I bake,” Cas said. “It’s very tactile.”

Dean got the intent, hopeful look of a dog who hears his mistress spell the word T R E A T.

“Like cookies?” he asked.

“And cheesecake, and key lime pie,” Cas said.

“No…” Dean breathed.

“And I will knit you mitts and hats and scarves and expect you to wear them.”

“Do I get to pick the colors?” Dean demanded.

“Yes,” Cas affirmed.

Dean relaxed. “Okay.”

“I do yoga almost every morning and I run a couple of times a week. Mock me at your peril.”

“I think you’re gonna be the bendy one in this marriage,” Dean said. “My hips don’t flex like they ought to.”

Cas tittered at the annoyance in Dean’s voice.

“Do you know what LARPing is?” Dean asked. “I LARP.”

“You get dressed up in costumes and say thee and thou a lot.”

“No, I mostly run at shit and pretend to try to kill it at my Queen’s command.” Dean added, “I could get new knitted gauntlets in silver.”

“Find me a pattern and give me measurements and I’ll do it.”

They realized what time it was and jammed themselves together at the door. Dean got Cas to work with about four seconds to spare. Sitting in the Impala under the archway that sheltered the main entrance to Legal Defence for Families, Cas said, “I would like it very much if you kissed me goodbye.”

As a consequence Sam got an eyeful of his brother kissing his new employee with all the sweet tenderness of young love, which was weird on two men pushing forty, until Sam realized that it was the new normal, and not the new weird. Dean drove away smirking and giving him a jolly wave, and Cas was blushing. Sam took him straight to his own office and closed the door behind them.

“You spent the night together,” Sam said.

“Dean wants to marry me,” Cas said.

“You’re kidding.”

“We’re going to date first, until it’s obvious to everyone else, but — I’m pretty much okay with the idea,” Cas said.

Sam, head whirling sat back. Cas was the only one of Dean’s conquests, with the exception of the long-gone Jo, that Sam could sit in the same room with for more than ten seconds without feeling either judged or the subject of jealousy. It was weird to have that jealous feeling turned on its head.

With a look of great expectancy and seriousness, Cas  said, “Are you okay with that? ”

Sam took a deep breath. “Welcome to the family, Cas. Knowing Dean, it would have happened like this — sooner or later.”

 

Sam was watching him work from a distance. Cas appeared to have the ability to compartmentalize. He made no secret of having agreed to marry someone (Dean, what the hell, dude) after so few hours spent together, which was insane, until he thought about Jess, and shivered, and wondered if that kind of extreme pair-bonding experience ran in families.

He prayed both of them were okay, ‘cause it was going to suck from all directions if Dean fucked this up. At the same time Sam was already pretty sure this was Dean’s opportunity to turn everything he’d learned in the last two years into a really great life for himself. 

 

Cas continued to familiarize himself with layouts and printers and people and IT stuff and learned to his horror that he was expected to qualify to level three support as part of his continuing education.

He communicated his horror to Sam, who punted to Charlie, the agency’s contract IT service provider when she wasn’t making a small fortune buying and selling rare horror and customized leather items.

She called Cas on the company cell phone which Sam had handed to him while his head was full of swamp gas and quicksand from his lack of sleep. She seemed to be set up with everything needed to back him up, and walked him through what he was expected to do, and how a lot of it was kinda epistemic.

Cas understood what she meant, and he cemented her instant opinion of him by saying, “The mark of a really good teacher is that they choose the right approach in teaching. Now I understand I have to stay calm and ask the right questions in the right order, and to not get derailed in the task by the customer, and to get off the phone if I am not, in fact, helping the customer, who is my coworker.”

“Yup, and sometimes you’ll have to call me, and I won’t be available, so you’ll have to talk to that competent dickhead endless anecdote asshole Chuck, note I called him competent, but also tried to give you a flavour of what you’ll have to wade through to get competence out of Chuck.”

“You swear a lot when you talk about Chuck. What is your relationship to him, may I ask?”

Charlie gave a brief laugh. “Unless you understand Klingon, there’d be no point in saying it.”

Cas tried to remember how it went, and said something in what he hoped was Klingon.

“Where’s the nearest bathroom,” Charlie said. “Well, I’ve never thought of using Chuck for a toilet, and much as I dislike him, I can’t see how using him for a toilet would be wise, and this oh my god, this, this is going to impact every conversation I have with him until I can scrub such an unholy image from my brain.”

“I remembered the Klingon without remembering the English translation,” Cas said apologetically.

“That you even attempted Klingon in your first conversation with me makes me like you even more.”

“Are you the Charlie who’s Dean’s friend?”

“What? Why?,” she asked, suspicious. Sam had kept his mouth shut; it was Dean’s news.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have assumed.”

“What does he say about me?” she demanded.

She was so direct, it was refreshing.

Cas considered it. “That you’re his closest friend and he loves you and trusts you and if he believed in God he’d thank him for putting you in his life.”

There was a little sigh. “Dean is where mildly irritating meets incredibly cute, and tough as nails meets cuddly as a sleepy piglet.”

“Mm,” said Cas, reminiscently. “Yes,” he agreed, with more alertness.

“You’ve met sleepy piglet Dean already, I take it,” Charlie said with a bit of ooh-la-la in her voice.

“Yes,” Cas said. “You mean a lot to him, and you’ve demonstrated how smart you are, which means a lot to me, so I’d like to have your personal phone number and vice versa as if we were already friends.”

“You want to be able to talk to me about Dean.”

Cas once again was silent, considering what to say.  “I think it’s impossible, now that you know that Dean and I are involved, that you could refrain from calling me and asking me how things are going. In the course of those conversations I might legitimately ask you questions about Dean. But perhaps not on company time.”

“Yeah, Cas, you’re right.” Charlie gave him her private line and said, “And you asked, so I will reveal! Chuck is my brother-in-law AND my sub-contractor… the worst of both worlds. Ciao, bitches!”

 

Cas, who had a tremendous ability to compartmentalize, went back to work. By the end of the  day he’d met with Sam and the bookkeeper and had an understanding of all the filings and paperwork he was supposed to stay on top of to prevent things like chargebacks. He also became familiar with the fundraising cycle, and the ‘busy periods’ which seemed to be all year, but there were relatively slack periods too, like the weeks before and after Christmas.

At six o’clock his work phone beeped with the alarm he’d set and he realized he’d survived his first day at his new job. Sam came over to his desk and asked, “So how was it?”

“You described it as being a mess, but the bones of the previous workflow were there, so I think within a month we’ll be on top of - ” and here he waved vaguely at the volcano of paper, files and banker boxes next to his desk, “ - all this.”

“I sure hope so. Dean picking you up?”

“I didn’t ask him to,” Cas said, frowning. But Dean was sitting out front in the Impala, reading a paperback copy of ‘Old Man’s War,’ with every sign of rapt interest. It occurred to Cas to wonder how long he’d been sitting there.

He got into the Impala and before he could say anything, Dean said, “Sam texted me what time you were planning on leaving work.”

“So… he’s okay with us being this…”

“Bugfuck?” Dean said delicately. “Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” he followed up, with a drawl. “I got a lecture about how if I do anything to make you quit when he’s got this much invested in you he’ll throttle me.”

“Sam didn’t threaten to kill me,” Cas said.

Dean was grinning. “Employment laws are lax, but even the most right-wing judges have an issue with threatening to kill your employees.”

“Really?” Cas said, but he was being sarcastic.

“Do you really want to keep living in that apartment hotel or are you going to back there, check out, and move in with me?” Dean asked.

“Give me a week, Dean,” Cas said. “But you can sleep over if you like.”

“I like my bed better,” Dean said. He was practically pouting.

“I imagine I will too, but there’s always the chance we’ll find out something about each other that puts the kibosh to this whole crazy thing.”

“Which reminds me,” Dean said. “I went to the clinic to get tested and I’m hoping you’ll find a minute to do it.”

Cas shrugged. “Okay. I haven’t actually done anything to make me need to get tested in years, but I can put that on my list of things to do.”

Dean turned the Impala over, and they rumbled down the road.

“How do you feel about religion?” Dean asked.

“It’s fine for other people. I’m was raised as part of a fundamentalist Christian organization and my parents were elders in the church. Then three of their children came out simultaneously.”

Dean was entertained. “How many siblings do you have?”

“Nine.”

“Jesus fucking Christ.”

“Indeed. My mother had a hysterectomy in her late thirties, probably because it was easier than birth control.”

“Tell the coming out story.” Dean was tapping the steering wheel and grinning.

“Anna is bisexual, Gabe is pansexual, I mean truly pansexual, he’d fuck me if I gave consent, which is so disgusting I don’t want to talk about it, but he will, so you need to be prepared, and me, well, I’m gay but serially monogamous, which makes me the true unicorn in the crowd as far as I can tell. My parents heard our stories with complete horror and made arrangements to throw all of us out. Gabe was twenty, I was nineteen, and Anna was fifteen.”

“Your parents threw you out.”

“Michael - out of spite - filed a civil suit against them for failure to provide the necessities of life to a minor. He was only seventeen at the time. The church was disgusted that these elders could have nursed such ungrateful vipers in their bosom for so long, and disfellowshipped first us, and then my parents. My parents finally figured out that family should come first, and turned around and wrote a book which made a lot of money and got made into a TV movie and completely gutted the church, and none of us are religious now except Inias, who got into Scientology.”

“Jesus fucking Christ,” Dean said again, in awe and horror.

“How do you feel about religion, Dean?”

“Great segue, Cas. I don’t go to church, I’m not sure if I believe in God, and I try not to crap on other people’s belief systems.”

“Have I told you lately that I love you?” Cas asked seriously.

“Uh,” Dean said. “I don’t actually remember you ever saying that.”

“I said it to you after you kissed me, but I don’t think you heard me.”

“No,” and Dean laughed a little. “I didn’t.”

“Don’t worry, you don’t have to say it back to me.”

“I will if you need to hear me say it,” Dean said, but he had to take a really deep breath first.

Cas barked a laugh and said, “You know about love languages?” to try to take the pressure off Dean.

He took the conversational life saver. “Yeah, I read that book when I was in therapy.”

“You? You were in therapy?”

“After I came back from Seattle I realized that I could have true love in the palm of my hand and I’d keep running away from it as long as I didn’t feel worthy of it. I wanted to get to the roots of that weed in my life and pull it the fuck out.”

Cas stroked his shoulder. “So what are your love languages?

“Physical touch,” Dean said immediately, throwing a smiling glance his way. Then his mouth firmed up. “I hate words of affirmation. When people praise me I want to argue with them. Gifts —“ he shrugged. “If you never gave me an anniversary present or bought me anything sparkly I wouldn’t even notice. But if you knit me silver gauntlets for LARPing I’ll take really good care of them and I’ll tell everybody you knit them for me.”

“Oh, Dean,” Cas said. He could feel his eyes brimming.

“Oh, Cas,” Dean said, self-mockingly.

“Acts of service and quality time and physical touch are it for me,” Cas said. “I’m not used to words of affirmation and I was raised to never expect gifts except to mark personal achievements.”

“Really,” Dean said. He stopped talking to negotiate a difficult bit of traffic, and Cas followed suit.

“We aren’t going back to the hotel,” Cas said.

“No. One short, emotional stop first.”

“Emotional for you?”

“For both of us, but mostly me, you’re right.”

Dean broke off the conversation and diverted into comments about the various buildings and amenities they were passing, as if he was a tour guide.

After a few minutes, Cas said, “Dean, this is a cemetery.”

“You’re going to meet my folks.”

“Dean,” Cas said, sighing, and squeezed his arm in sympathy. “I’d be honoured to meet them.”

They parked, and Dean got a bunch of dandelions and a bunch of roses out of the trunk — and was that an overnight case that looked suspiciously like it might be Dean’s?— and they walked for a while. There was hardly anyone else there.

“Dandelions?”

“Family thing,” Dean said. “When my dad was drunk one time, which was, basically, the entire time between when Mom died and he did, he told me that he only ever wanted dandelions on his grave since a nice flower arrangement was not meant for a guy like him.”

“‘Do this in remembrance of me.’”

“Yeah, if ya wanna get biblical.”

Dean put the roses on his mother’s grave and the dandelions on his father’s grave and said, “Hey guys, want you to meet Cas.”

“Hi,” Cas said, and waved awkwardly.

“Cas, John; John, Cas. Mary, Cas; Cas, Mary,” Dean said. He put an arm over Cas’s shoulder and the two of them faced the gravestones together. Dean was breathing funny, as if he were trying very hard not to cry.

“Dean,” Cas whispered. “I’ll never, ever mock you for weeping.”

Cas was close enough to watch as a tear formed, a little pregnant bubble in Dean’s eye, and spilled over. He breathed a deep sigh and said, “Hoo. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea.”

“When you’re serious about someone, you take them to meet the folks,” Cas said. His arm was around Dean’s waist and Dean’s breath was on his face and he felt a wave of love and longing and acceptance that almost swamped his whole being.

“Too soon?” and Dean waved an arm.

“Not for them,” Cas said seriously, and said to Mary’s gravestone, “Thank you for bringing Dean to me.” He said the same thing to John’s grave, and Dean leaned his forehead against Cas’s shoulder and cried for a minute.

Cas pulled out a handkerchief and said, “What would they have thought of me, I wonder.”

Dean sniffed hard, a couple of times, and then chuckled softly. He pulled back. He had a twisted smile on his face.

“My dad would’ve fuckin’ hated you. He would have just treated you, and me, like shit. Mom? She would have made you pie and asked you if Sammy was a good boss and I was treating you right.”

“Anyway, Mom, Dad? This is Cas, and he’s the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

They stood for a moment longer, and finally Dean shook himself and blew his nose.

“Let’s go home.”

“You mean back to the hotel,” Cas said gently.

Dean looked mutinous but didn’t argue. He pulled over to let Cas out and Cas said, “Park the car and come upstairs, you’re making me nervous.”

“Thanks for inviting me up,” Dean said.

“Thanks for not assuming I wanted you to come upstairs and tell me what you did all day.”

“Seriously.”

“Come and tell me about your day.” He sounded wheedling, rather than bracing, which annoyed him.

“Only if you go first,” Dean said.

“Park the car, Dean,” Cas said.

Dean, hangdog, joined him after a few minutes in the suite, using his passkey.

He said, with a look on his face that made Cas want to just get up and hug him, “I’m very new to trying to communicate well with my partner.”

“Take all your clothes off, Dean, we’re ordering takeout and getting fresh with each other tonight.”

Dean pinked up. “What if I had other plans?” he asked, trying to sound virtuous.

“My hand is very sore from filling out forms and clutching a handset all day, I need you to put your penis in it to make it feel better.”

Dean got even pinker. “Can I kiss you first?”

“I’d actually find the lotion first, you know, not wanting to break the mood. I know what you’re doing, you’re trying to court me and not demand sex.”

“Shush now,” Dean said, and kissed him. Cas thought Dean smelled like soap and motor oil and woodsmoke, and Dean thought Cas smelled so good it was criminal. “Why do you smell like a barbecue pit in the back yard of a garage?” Cas asked.

“Damn,” Dean said softly against his mouth. “I showered, but I guess it’s in my jacket.”

“So I should quit commenting?” Cas murmured back.

“Mmm,” Dean said, equivocating, but then his tongue was stroking his in an interesting and gentle and delicious way, and Cas decided to lean in.

They were laughing, almost airless from lust, when Dean rolled Cas onto his back and lined their dicks up for frottage. Twenty minutes later, breathless, sticky with two sets of come and perhaps a bit starry-eyed at how very sexually compatible they continued to be, Dean and Cas took a shower.

“You’re a shower hog,” Cas said, reproof in his voice.

“I’m a hog, period,” Dean said. “I have a big appetite for just about everything.”

“Maybe I’ll turn out to be too small to be interesting over the long haul,” Cas said. Dean did not consider this possible, at least if his look of amused disdain was anything to go by.

“Oh, pshaw,” Dean said in a squeaky voice, throwing up his hands like a shocked granny. “Don’t think it’s likely. Are you as hungry as me and how do you feel about putting your clothes back on?”

“I am staying as close to you, and as close to naked as possible, for the rest of the evening.”

“I was hoping to go on our first restaurant date. You know, you’ve never asked me what I do for a living.”

Cas, who got cold easily unless he was moving, slid back into bed. “It’s not the most important thing about you.”

“I don’t have a steady job,” Dean said, shamefaced.

“Still not the most important thing about you. Get to the point, Dean.”

“You’ve got a solid office job and I’m a grease monkey.”

“I will have a solid office job once I make my three months’ probation,” Cas reminded him, “And as for you being a grease monkey, it is my duty to inform you that you are a grease primate, not a grease monkey.”

“Are you always going to be like this?” Dean asked, a little aggrieved.

“Dean, I’ve spent my whole life escaping from the shame that my parents put on me, even after they publicly apologized, repeatedly, for what they put me and my siblings through. You are a beautiful soul, you are whole, you are worthy, you’re fucking hot; I don’t know what to tell you.”

Dean flopped onto the bed like a tidal wave of man. “Tell me more about how fucking hot I am.”

Cas took a kinesthetic approach to his ‘ongoing Dean problem’. He pinned Dean and tickled him unmercifully.

“I’m ho-o-o-o-t!” Dean acknowledged, twisting and just barely able to speak.

“I can’t hear you!” Cas said in an arch voice. “Repeat after me, ‘I am a beautiful soul’!”

“I h-am-am a - Jesus, Cas, you’re ki-ill-in’ me!”

Cas stopped.

“You’re a fuck-ton stronger than you look,” Dean said breathlessly.

Cas said, in his most masterful voice. “You would do well to remember that.”

Dean got a look on his face like he was briefly mesmerized by how bossy Cas could be, and then changed the subject again. “I’ve never been fucked in the ass.”

Cas sighed. “I know this is the first time you’ve openly dated a man, so here’s the thing. Anal sex is not gay sex. It’s human sex. If you want to do that with me I’ll be all over it, and vice versa. And if you don’t, I won’t complain.”

“Seriously.”

“Dean, I’m not worried, and you’ll be doing yourself a kindness if you quit worrying. Besides, I’m not really all that experienced, so we’ll figure it out together.”

“Destination wedding?” Dean asked.

“What, like Hawaii?” Cas asked, perturbed. He sat up and looked directly into Dean’s face, and then slid his hands up to rest on either side of Dean’s face.

“Destination weddings are a scam,” Cas said. “They cause hardship to families, spending a fortune on the wrong things. Or so I see it. I don’t even want a honeymoon if it means getting on an airplane.”

Tension drained out of Dean. “I hate flying.”

“Poor baby,” Cas teased. “Well, there you are, you can quit worrying that I want to honeymoon in Macchu Pichu, or Lake Titicaca.”

Dean chortled.

“You’re a child,” Cas said.

“Speaking of which,” Dean said.

“I’ve seen toddlers that handled subject changes with more subtlety than you, but do go on,” Cas encouraged. He knew what was coming.

“How do you feel about children?” Dean asked starkly.

Cas asked, “Is it a deal breaker?”

There was a long pause.

“No,” Dean said.

“I’ve always wanted children,” Cas said.

“Really?” Dean asked. It was obviously desperately important to him, and Cas pulled him close to his heart and whispered in his ear, “Really,” to put him out of his misery.

Cas got up and got his wallet from the table, where it had come to rest in their mad scramble out of their clothes.

“Time for you to meet your nieces and nephews,” Cas said.

“I’ve got nieces and nephews!?” Dean said. “Lemme see ‘em!”

“My oldest brother Michael and Sara have two boys, both in their early teens, and Anna and Nasrin have twin girls, who are pre-schoolers, so family events are usually pretty lively.”

“I bet,” Dean breathed, looking at the pictures with a fond smile. “What are their names?”

“I can’t tell the girls apart unless I feed them; Lally is a picky eater. Margot is more like you,” and here Cas gave Dean a little dig in the ribs, which he pretended to be hurt by.

“My god, they’re so cute,” Dean said. “Christmas is going to be so much fun this year.”

“Dean, you may not like Michael, although I know that Nazz will adore you and Anna will love anyone I do. Sara’s okay, I find her a little too pink and white, if you know what I mean.”

Dean suggested, “Kinda Stepford?”

“She’s into it, she clearly loves Michael and the boys, I shouldn’t judge, and yet, somehow…”

“Somehow you do. Finally! you aren’t perfect!” Dean said.

“Nope,” Cas said. “But I think I’m perfect for you, and I’ll be even more perfect if you order me some damned dinner.”

 

Cas settled in at his job; in the first two months he prevented thousands of dollars in chargebacks and secured better lease terms on the renewal, thus saving LDF the equivalent of his first year’s salary.

Sam looked like a genius to the board of directors (kudos all around.) And he loved working with Cas, whose honesty, tact and work ethic matched his own.

Dean was fired up about finding a nice big apartment for the two of them and Cas told him not to bother, and moved into the old one with him to save money. They used Sam’s garage to made a desk for Cas, who worked at home sometimes.

Dean sang as he cooked, out of tune but always cheerful. Cas started learning to interpret his moods based on what he was singing.

Dean met his future in-laws. Cas had been right to warn him. Dean loathed Michael with everything he had, and Sara was a pill - at best. Their boys, Callan, thirteen, and Calder, fifteen, had good manners but had obviously been trained to think of men who have sex with other men as subhuman, and it hurt to think they were being raised by such bigoted parents.

Anna was a sweetie and Nazz was one of the calmest, most loving and responsive mothers he’d ever met; watching her do her thing gave Dean a lot of ideas about what kind of parent he wanted to be. The girls were still small enough to enjoy turning Dean into climbing equipment, and he loved them instantly. 

Cas’s mom Naomi was a perfectly groomed dragon with a deceptively soft voice, and his dad Zachariah was the picture of a man who’d been at the pinnacle of something important - or so he had thought - and fallen. He was clearly struggling with his change in roles, even though it had been years since the rupture with his church. He was always pontificating and rarely making a point; Dean finally connected with him over his love of John Wayne movies. Naomi was going to be a tougher nut to crack, but he gave it time.

 

After six months, Charlie asked Dean point blank what he disliked about Cas.

“What I dislike about him?”

He sat down and thought about it.

“Well,” Dean said slowly. “Sometimes he’s a little too trusting of other human beings, but other people might not see that as a flaw.”

“Nothing else to dislike?”

“He’s Cas,” Dean said helplessly. “I mean, he’s grumpy in the morning and he shames my food choices sometimes but… he’s Cas.”

 

Charlie put the same question to Cas.

“Dean is very annoying sometimes, but only briefly,” Cas said. “I mean, he’s Dean.”

 

They got married after a year (‘long enough for everyone to come around’) in Sam and Jess’s back yard. Jess was so pregnant she looked like she was going to explode into a baby, and in fact gave birth later that week, the day before the docs were going to induce her. She had a little boy, and they named him Sam Jr., just to drive everyone nuts.

Zachariah and Naomi came to the wedding (although Michael and Sara politely declined) and they wound up talking to Nazz about the de-conversion experience for almost the entire reception, while Lally and Margot jumped all over them. Cas’s last view of them, as they snuck out to the Impala for a ten day road trip to the Grand Canyon and other places of interest, was of his mother nodding intently while Margot slept in her lap.

Dean said, patting the seat next to him, “I think our blender family is going to be okay.”

“Blended family,” Cas corrected gently. He saw Dean’s mini-glare and said, “Okay, have it your way,” and Dean replied, with all the licentious glee he had in him, “Oh, I intend to!”

 

---fin ---