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The only thing that Dean Winchester has decided on the first day of his graduate classes, is that he doesn't want to sit in the front row. Nor the back. The front row is for the nerds who are more concerned with networking than learning. The back rows are for the people who don't care, and have probably been forced to stay at school. The middle rows are where all the action is. Not too eager, not playing on their phones all day. It's perfect. Dean throws his bag down three seats to the right and four rows back. Exactly halfway, and close enough to the door without being directly on the aisle.

The next thing he takes note of is the man who sits down next to him three minutes before class starts. Normally Dean wouldn't give him more than a cursory glance before turning back to his book, but the dude who slides into the desk is remarkable. Deep blue eyes, messy dark brown hair that needs a trim, a slight stubble shadow over his jaw, thick lips. Jesus.

He nods at Dean briefly and then bends away from him to grab his notebook and pen. Dean's eyes are drawn down to the guy's hands as he twirls the pen in his long fingers, and a Winchester is caught hook, line, and sinker. The hands alone are amazing, but he's also sporting... well, a truly banging manicure. The base color appears to be black, but there are swirls of glittery color within it, pink and blue and green, depending on how the light hits the polish. It looks like a whole galaxy, which, come to think of it, is pretty damn appropriate in an astronomy class.

The guy looks up again, catching Dean's eye. But he doesn't look away. He just tilts his head slightly.

Dean clears his throat, gesturing with his own pen. "How'd you, uh... how'd you get your nails that way?" God, that sounds fucking stupid. He can feel his ears burning.

The guy's eyes narrow. "I painted them," he says shortly, and then he turns his head towards the front of the room, ostensibly to pay attention to the professor who has just walked in. But Dean keeps watching for a moment longer. He also decides that he doesn't like the tight twitching in the guy's jaw. He hadn't meant to be offensive. He likes the manicure.

~ o ~ x ~ xoXox ~ x ~ o ~

The next class is on Wednesday, and Dean is actually surprised that the guy chooses to sit next to him again. But he does. With a slight hesitation in removing his messenger bag. "Hi," Dean says, hating himself for putting him on guard.

"Hello," he answers in a rough voice that Dean likes more than the manicure.

He sits down and Dean watches him do it, slightly intrigued because there's something different today. Something about the guy's eyes. They look... bluer? Is that even possible? Dean slips on his glasses and looks back again. The guy is facing forward, almost like he's making a concerted effort to ignore everyone around him, but that's okay because it gives him a minute to figure out what's different.

It's eye makeup. Not a lot of it. Frankly, it's probably almost unnoticeable unless someone's being pervy enough to look as closely as Dean is. The eyeliner is a dark blue, applied over the top and bottom lashes in a thin line, winged up only barely at the edge. The eye shadow is also blue, sheer, and sparkles slightly in the light.

Dean's never seen a man wear eye makeup before. It's... it's pretty freaking awesome. He finally understands what his ex-girlfriends had meant when they said stuff about "making their eyes pop."

There's no way not to notice it. In fact, Dean's so distracted by it that it takes him a minute to also see that the guy's wearing a blouse. It's dark blue with cream-colored birds on it.

It's decidedly of feminine design.

But the way it looks on him?

Dean feels a deep sense of wrongness thinking about it as a woman's shirt.

He hasn't heard a word of the lecture by the time everyone's packing up. And he doesn't stop staring. Not even when he gets caught. The guy's incredibly blue gaze doesn't waver for a second, and Dean doesn't miss the challenge there.

It sucks to see. And it sucks even more when Dean realizes he knows exactly why it's there. "I'm Dean," he says, holding out his hand.

The guy blinks down at Dean's hand. Probably notices the bitten nails, cracked cuticles, and calluses. "Castiel," the guy says. He doesn't shake hands. He just nods once and then leaves.

~ o ~ x ~ xoXox ~ x ~ o ~

On Friday, Castiel doesn't say a single word or even glance at Dean. He sits in his chair, back ramrod straight. He doesn't take notes. He doesn't even appear to be hearing the lecture. He's wearing full face makeup today, but his clothes are subdued jeans and AC/DC shirt. The makeup doesn't hide the split lip.

At the end of class, Dean rips his notes out of his binder. He slides them onto Castiel's desk without a second thought or a chance for a reaction. He's the first out of the room.

~ o ~ x ~ xoXox ~ x ~ o ~

On Monday, Dean gets to campus too early and takes an hour to do his reading under a huge oak tree in the quad. The days are starting to cool down, there's not a cloud in the sky, and a slight breeze makes everything feel perfect. He could fall asleep and take a pretty awesome nap out here, truth be told. Once finished with his work, he flops onto his back against the soft grass.

He doesn't fall asleep because he's startled out of mild dozing and leaf watching when someone plops down close to him. "Hello, Dean."

Dean only moves his eyes. "Hey, Castiel."

Castiel is holding out several sheets of notebook paper to him. "Thank you for lending me your notes."

Dean takes them with a shrug. "Any time. Advanced astronomy isn't the class to zone out in. Not with Zachariah teaching it."

"I'm starting to get that." The tiniest of smiles peeks out, stretching the cut on Castiel's lip a bit. He doesn't even flinch.

Dean smiles tentatively, too. But then it fades with Castiel's as weighted melancholy settles there, making him look a lot older than he is. He should probably leave it alone, but he can't help saying, "it's hard to focus with a busted mouth and bruised knuckles."

Castiel does flinch at that. "I'm not great at using concealer yet."

Dean sighs, voicing something that hasn't even fully formed in his mind yet. "Concealer should be for acne and shit," he says bitterly.

Those blue eyes finally focus on him properly, wide and so much nicer than the sky. "You're not bothered by me." He sounds dumbfounded.

Well, that's great because Dean's shocked, too. "Dude, why would I be?"

Castiel's face does this thing. Like he doesn't want to have any sort of expression, but his face contorts anyway. He keeps staring, though. Dean does the same, breath held. After a long time, Castiel suddenly blurts, "I'm not trying to be more like a stereotypical woman."

Dean's brows knit. He hadn't even considered that, for some reason. "Okay?" he ventures carefully.

Frustration clear in every inch of his body from his pinched face to his fingers fisted in the grass, Castiel says, "I just... I like makeup. I like the clothes I wear. I like nail polish. Gendering everything is so..." he searches for the word. Gives up.

"Stupid?" Dean offers. "Pointless?"

"Exhausting," Castiel adds, shoulders slumping. His eyes come up again. "I can't believe I'm even talking to you about this," he says wryly.

Dean sits up properly, affronted. "Why the hell not?"

Castiel tucks his legs under him. "You're quite masculine. All you've worn are jeans and plaid."

Dean snorts, still insulted. "That's because I'm poor and my brother and I only ever got to shop at surplus stores, like my dad did when we were kids. Jeans and flannel last forever."

"I've insulted you," Castiel says seriously. "I'm sorry. Judging you the same way people judge me is the opposite of what I want. It's just..." he trails off, eyes dropping back down to his knees.

"It's just 'cause you've got precedent to be wary of guys who look like me," Dean softens.

"I want to wear what I want to wear," Castiel murmurs, voice sounding thick. "That's all."

"I wish I could help," Dean says sincerely. "I think you look great."

Castiel's eyes skip up. They skip away. His cheeks look a bit red, but not because he's wearing makeup today. He's not. "Thank you," he says even softer.

~ o ~ x ~ xoXox ~ x ~ o ~

On Wednesday, Castiel sits next to Dean and doesn't ignore him. He also seems to be over looking anonymous anymore. He's got on a long-sleeved shirt and tight jeans under a bright floral sundress. He's stunning when he slides into his seat and beams at Dean.

Heart stuttering wildly in his chest, Dean says, "you look..." his tongue dries up in his mouth.

"Thank you," Castiel grins even wider.

~ o ~ x ~ xoXox ~ x ~ o ~

For a whole month, Castiel wears brightly colored clothes that Dean is sort of almost positive he's doing just to see Dean's flustered, impressed reactions.

Then, after class on a Friday before a three day weekend, he waits for Dean to finish packing. They stand together and Castiel hesitation makes Dean hesitate in return. "What's up?" he asks.

Castiel tilts his head from side to side. "Do you... would you be interested in going shopping with me today?"

They've been out a few times before. Nothing like a date, as Dean would call it, but lunches off campus. Dinners. Bowling. To each other's apartments for movies and pizza. The lack of confidence today is new, so Dean does his best to pretend it's not there. "Sure. For what?"

Castiel looks Dean up and down. "Clothes," he says simply.

Unconsciously, Dean glances down at himself, too. There's a sparkle in his eyes when he focuses on Castiel again. "Something wrong with what I've got on?"

"No," Castiel answers, readjusting the bag on his shoulder and the hem of the black silk dress he's wearing over jeans so tight, they might be leggings, and secured with a metal belt over the top of his hips. "But I think you'd look a lot better in red." He turns and takes a few steps towards the door. He pauses.

"If you say so," Dean answers, following behind him.

~ o ~ x ~ xoXox ~ x ~ o ~

They shop for so long at practically all the thrift stores in town, that Dean's feet ache when they make it back to Castiel's apartment well after dark. All the many bags get piled onto Castiel's bed. It's going to take a lot of sorting to separate them.

There are just enough beers to make them laugh and shove at each other while they argue over their purchases on top of the comforter.

"This shirt is mine!" Castiel insists, hugging the pastel striped button down to his chest protectively.

"It is not!" Dean insists, making a grab for it."You said, and I quote," he pitches his voice deeper to mimic Castiel, "'Dean, your spring wardrobe leaves a lot to be desired. You need more color.'"

Castiel laughs again, smile wide and gummy. "I was saying that about the pink shirt! Not this one!"

"No take backs!" Dean argues, snagging the sleeve.

Castiel leans backwards, trying to keep the shirt. "Wait! Wait, wait, wait! How about we both try it on? See who wears it better? That's fair, right?"

Chuckling, Dean says, "we could always share custody."

With a snort, Castiel throws the shirt at Dean's face. "Make your best effort." He nods towards the door on the far wall. "Bathroom. Go change. I'll judge you."

Dean drapes the shirt over his shoulder, then digs around a handful of other bags, pulling things out. "Bet you will," he mutters. He grabs a few options and then tumbles off the bed and shuts the door to the bathroom behind him. He takes longer to get dressed than he ever has in his life. The only thing he can decide on right away are the artfully distressed jeans. He tries on all the undershirts. The white isn't enough. The robin's egg blue seems too loose across the chest. The sea green looks good, though. Brings out his eyes, maybe. He tugs on the overshirt, gives himself a thorough once over, feels like something's missing, but he looks damn good, anyway.

Back in the bedroom, Castiel is still sitting on the bed with the rest of the clothes, though he's sorted most of them into piles by type. His expression doesn't change when he catches sight of Dean.

Self-consciously, Dean spreads his arms. "So?"

Castiel scoots closer on the bed. "I was right about you needing more color in your wardrobe, but you look much better in fall and winter jewel tones."

Dean rolls his eyes. "Not all of us were born looking good in everything like you were."

Castiel comes to the edge of the bed and beckons Dean over. He stops just in front of Castiel's knees. Castiel reached up and gently takes Dean's wrist, his nimble fingers unbuttoning the cuff of the shirt and smartly rolling it up his forearms. "I don't look good in everything," he says, sounding shy.

"Could'a fooled me," Dean mutters, feeling much bolder in the face of Castiel's embarrassment. "I watched you try on like, fifty things today, and you looked good in all of them."

Shrugging, Castiel moves to the other cuff. "I've just learned what works for me." At Dean's questioning look, he explains, "YouTube, fashion blogs, trial and error. I used to buy everything online because I was too scared to try anything on in the stores. But I didn't know my sizes or anything. I ended up sending most of it back and buying other things, and sending those back. It was frustrating. So, I learned how to measure myself, what cuts would fit my body type, everything."

"Huh," Dean breathes. "So, then, can you tell me why I still kinda feel only half dressed?"

Castiel leans back on his hands, assessing. "Your fly's closed and you're just missing shoes, so what do you mean?"

Grinning, Dean brushes out the wrinkles in the shirt and smooths down the creases in the jeans. "Dunno. I just feel like I should be wearing something else, too?"

Castiel's eyes light up. "Accessories? Hold on." He scrambles on hands and knees to the other side of the bed where his mirrored dresser is only a reach away.

Dean follows around the end of the bed to the other side and he sits down next to Castiel who is rifling through a heavy silver jewelry box. It looks like an heirloom. He finds what he's looking for and puts the box aside, grabbing for Dean's wrist again and looping a thin length of leather around his wrist.

"You've got a lot more makeup than I thought," he muses while trying not to think about how fucking good Castiel's hands feel on him.

"That's taken a lot of practice, too," Castiel answers, securing the bracelet with a metal clasp. "So have the nails." They're bright red this week.

Dean reaches forward and picks up one of the many bottles of makeup off of the table. It's lipstick. He tilts the tube over, studying the light pink sticker on the bottom. It's labeled, "kiss me, bitch."

He smiles a little. "Have you ever worn lipstick? I can't remember seeing you in it."

Tucking his foot under his leg, Castiel faces Dean more fully. "Not much. I mostly wear chapstick when it's cooler out. My lips get dried out."

Very suddenly, Dean's eyes are glued to Castiel's mouth. They do look slightly chapped. Without looking away, he pulls the lid off of the tube and twists the base. "Can I?" he murmurs.

Unblinking, appearing stunned, Castiel tilts his chin forward, color riding high in his cheeks.

Lifting the tube up, Dean pauses. "I've never, um..." He clears his throat.

"Doesn't matter if you mess it up," Castiel murmurs right back.

Dean takes Castiel's chin gently in his hand. So very carefully, he drags the tip of the lipstick across Castiel's top lip with trembling fingers. There's a shine to the shade, but it doesn't change the color of Castiel's lips very much overall. Understated. Just a small highlight to accent the beautiful parts of him, like the eye shadow. He paints Castiel's bottom lip, going a little too far. Blindly, he puts the tube back on the dresser. Transfixed, he touches the corner of Castiel's mouth to smudge away the excess.

"It's okay," Castiel whispers.

Dean moves his finger again and presses his thumb to Castiel's bottom lip, swiping outwards. The lipstick smears across Castiel's lips all the way to the slight dimple on his cheek. Dean's body burns. Castiel looks like he's already been kissed.

And then he has because he makes a soft, broken moan, and closes the distance between them.

It says something about the relationship they've been cultivating that Dean doesn't even think for a second that it's like kissing a woman. He's never tasted lipstick on a man before, but it's goddamn great.

Plus, Castiel kisses Dean with his whole being. Both hands on either side of Dean's face, pulling him in, pulling him up. Tongues meeting with determination and absolute enthusiasm. He's also the one to break it. When he does, he's smiling fit to burst. "It's a good color on you," he says.

Dean touches his own lips. They've smeared the lipstick between them. He grins. "Is it?"

Castiel dives in for more so quickly that he topples them into the bed among the clothes, Dean on his back, clutching tightly. Between each meeting of their stained lips, hands sliding over each other, Castiel mutters a litany of, "want you, want you, Dean, want you!"

Dean nudges up, yanking at the button on his jeans. Castiel scrambles up, too, dress hiking up over his hips as he straddles Dean. Dean changes course to rip at Castiel's jeans - they are jeans - while Castiel goes for his. There's a great deal of wiggling and grunting while they figure out how to get rid of the layers while trying not to separate too much. But the top layers prove too huge an obstacle, so Castiel slides back into Dean's lap, jerking forward until their dicks thrust together.

"Oh, God!" Dean gasps, helplessly moving against Castiel. His cock glides up over Castiel's belly, brushing the hem of the dress. "We gotta.... hng! Fuck! We gotta! I might! Your dress is silk, don't wanna..."

"Ruin it," Castiel growls against Dean's mouth. He moves away, small bites and hard presses of his mouth against Dean's neck. He nuzzles against the stubble, long fingers wrapping around Dean's throbbing length. Stroking them together.

Dean doesn't want to ruin the dress. It's awfully pretty. But Castiel seems to enjoy making him try. He makes sure that the tips of their dicks brush against the watery cool fabric every time he strokes them up.

It doesn't take long. It would be embarrassing, but when Dean feels his balls start to tighten, and he flattens his palm against Castiel's chest for balance, he can tell he's not the only one. Castiel is hot against him, breath heaving, heartbeat fluttering. It's so good. It feels like everything.

Dean comes with Castiel's name in his throat, lipstick on his tongue, and a sexy black silk dress covering his dick. Castiel's weight hits him suddenly, and they both cry out as they tumble back down onto the bed.

"Shit," Castiel bursts with feeling against Dean's collar bone.

Dean puffs a small amused snort. Then it bubbles up again until he's laughing, petting at Castiel's hair, stroking over his shoulders. They're both laughing, shaking, wrestling to get their rest of their clothes off. Then they settle. "That was awesome," Dean sighs.

Fingers tangle with his, Castiel tugging their hands on top of his chest when he settles them side by side to cool off under the ceiling fan. "Yes."

After a pause, Dean says, "it was the shirt, wasn't it? I told you I should keep it."

Castiel laughs again brightly. "Fine. Maybe we should each try on everything. Just to see."

Dean rocks onto his side and kisses Castiel. "Gimme an hour, and you're on."