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One in the Same

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September, 2007

 

The car shuttered and he swore, slamming his fist on the steering wheel as the car shut off and he maneuvered it to the side of the road. He climbed out and slammed the door, yanking up the hood and stared uselessly at the engine, not sure at all really of what he was doing. He walked around to the passenger side, reaching through the open window and grabbing his cell phone from his bag. He scrolled down to his brother’s number, staring at it before sighing, flipping the phone shut and tossing it back into his bag. He knew his brother wouldn’t answer, none of them would, not anymore.

 

He thought things would be easier, getting away from the negativity and focusing on his own life, separate from what they all thought he should be. Becoming who he wanted to be, trying his hardest not to hide behind the lies anymore. School was going well, he had decided to go to graduate school when he found out he had earned a scholarship that would pay for it. Advance his marketing degree and really make something of himself. His tutoring paid the rest of his bills, he didn’t want for much, nothing material at least. He struggled with loneliness, he had since he realized he was different from his siblings, but there wasn’t really anything he could do to change that other than push forward.

 

The sound of a car pulling up behind his caught his attention, shaking him from his thoughts as the car shut off, and its driver climbed out with a grin.

 

“Engine trouble?”

 

Castiel pushed off of the car, walking towards him, “Yeah, I.. I don’t know what’s wrong with it.” He added, rather uselessly, dropping his hands to his sides in defeat.

 

The other man waved him off, he was tall and handsome, skin tanned from being in the sun and his eyes were kind and a brilliant green. “I work at Singer’s Garage downtown, want me to take a look at it?”

 

“If you don’t mind, thanks.”

 

“No problem, name’s Dean.” he replied, offering his hand, Castiel shook it, the calluses the other man earned from working at a garage scraping against the softer skin of his own palm.

 

“Castiel.”

 

“Good to meet ya.” Dean said as he stepped over to the front of the car and examined it, and Castiel stepped over and watched from the side. He was amazed at how quickly Dean assessed the car, looking over parts and quickly ruling them out. When the other man’s eyes lit up and he moved with more purpose he wondered if he had it narrowed down.

 

“It might be your alternator.” Dean said quickly, as if he had been reading his thoughts. He stood up straight, closed the hood, and looked over to Castiel while he pulled a rag from his back pocket and wiped his hands off.

 

“I can give you a lift where you need to go and have this towed to the garage, if you want?”

 

Castiel sighed, “That’s very nice of you, I don’t have much in the way of covering the fee immediately but...”

 

Dean held up his hand, interrupting him, “Don’t worry about that, let’s just get you off the side of the road.” Castiel nodded, feeling grateful, almost hopeful. He reached through the open window and grabbed his bag. “I was heading home, I don’t live far from the garage, just a couple of blocks over on 10th.”

 

Dean gave a softer smile, looking over the other man, noting the heavy books in the bag he was carrying. “School?” he asked, gesturing towards the bag as they climbed into his car. Castiel looked down at the bag as he settled on the passenger's seat, placing it between his legs.

 

“Yeah, grad school, marketing.” Dean let out a low whistle, cranking the car and pulling back into traffic, “Kid brother is in school, wants to be a lawyer.”

 

“What about you?” Castiel asked as they drove, making their way into the downtown district. He was surprised at how easy he fell into conversation with Dean, he was normally awkward but something about the other man made him feel at ease. He didn’t question it much, just let himself go with the flow, something he had promised himself he would start doing.

 

“I never really cared for school, I like working with my hands and Bobby needed a mechanic. I’ve worked on cars most of my life, dad taught me, he and Bobby were friends growing up.” Dean said, “Mind if we swing by the garage first so I can send a tow truck after your car?”

 

“That’s fine.” Castiel said, turning slightly to look at Dean, “Thanks again, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.” he gave a smile of his own, his heart beating a little faster when Dean glanced his way and returned it, before facing the road again and turning down the street that would take them to the garage.

 

“It’s no problem, you looked like you could use a hand and I’m off today.” he replied easily, turning into the parking lot and pulling up near the office. He shut off the engine, climbing out and gesturing for Castiel to come with.

 

He climbed out, following Dean into the office, it was small and smelled of oil and stale coffee, which was surprisingly a comforting combination. Dean stepped behind the counter grabbing a clipboard and a form, handing it and a pen over to Castiel, “Fill out just the top part, I’ll get the rest of it.” Dean said before ducking through a door and heading towards the bay.

 

Castiel nodded at his retreating back before he leaned against the tall counter, the plastic worn and cracked and filled out the form. It looked like just basic info, name, address, phone number. He filled the information out while half listening to Dean talking to Bobby and arranging a truck to go pick up the car. Just as he finished he looked up to see Bobby lean close and whisper something, causing Dean to tilt his head back in laughter. Castiel felt his chest tighten as he looked over Dean’s strong jawline and neck, the way he seemed to almost smirk while he talked to Bobby. Dean clapped Bobby on the shoulder as he turned to head back towards Castiel and caught his eye, his smile spread widely as Castiel blushed and looked back down at the paper, mentally kicking himself for being so obvious about checking him out. Dean stepped back into the office, taking the clipboard from him and making some notes of his own on the form.

 

“Mind leaving the key so they can get to work once it’s here?” Dean asked, hanging the clipboard on the nail on the wall behind him after taking the form off and putting it on the desk. Castiel popped the key off of his keyring, he didn’t have many on there anymore, not since his brothers had kicked him out and he stopped speaking to them. He handed it over, ignoring the tingle that passed over his skin as his fingers brushed across Dean’s.

 

“I can give you a lift home, will you need a ride anywhere while we fix it? We should have it done before the end of the weekend, simple replacement.”

 

Castiel shook his head with a slight chuckle, “I don’t have class again until Tuesday, and never really have plans over the weekend.”

 

“Shame, that.” Dean said with a wink, coming back from behind the counter and heading towards the door. Castiel followed, swallowing around the lump in his throat, feeling as though Dean was on to him already.  

 

Once seated back in the car, Dean looked over to Castiel with a thoughtful gaze, “Do you want to get something to eat? My treat. I haven’t eaten and I could use the company.”

 

Castiel smiled and for once threw caution to the wind, “I’d like that.”

 

October, 2007

 

They never really talked about it, they just spent time together when Castiel didn’t have class and Dean wasn’t at the garage. Sometimes Castiel would walk down, if the weather was good, and hang out in the office for the last hour that Dean had to work. During late nights, Dean would show up at Castiel’s apartment, it was almost always expected. Neither one of them really put a name to what they had, only that it was good.

 

It was almost Halloween, the first time Dean said it. They were watching another cheesy horror movie, Dean sprawled out on the floor, his back against the sofa and taking a bite of the pizza in his hand. Castiel was laying across the sofa, when he reached over and absentmindedly started running his fingers through Dean’s hair. It was still a little damp from the shower he had made him take, washing the oil and grease away before he would let him step foot near the living room. Dean leaned back into the touch, putting his plate on the coffee table and turning so that he was facing Castiel.

 

Castiel smiled, pulling him closer and kissing him, twisting slightly so that Dean didn’t hurt himself reaching for him. Dean pulled away, the look on his face serious as he stroked the side of Castiel’s face with the tips of his fingers. Dean’s green eyes locked with his radiant blue, as he brushed his thumb over his lip.

 

“I love you.” he said, his voice deep, more full of emotion than Castiel had ever heard it. His heart thudded in his chest, letting the words wash over him. Dean had finally put words to what was blooming between them, the time spent together, the kisses and soft touches. Their eyes met, saying more than words ever could.

 

“I love you, too.” Castiel finally said, his voice breaking as he rushed the words, causing Dean’s face to light up with a smile. He kissed Castiel again, and allowed himself to be pulled up onto the sofa, hovering over Castiel. Their lips met as Dean settled his body on top of Castiel, keeping himself from completely smothering him by propping up on his elbows.

 

Castiel slid his hands into Dean’s hair, keeping him in place as his lips parted and he met Dean’s tongue with his own. He felt fingers slide down his chest and stomach, dipping just slightly into the waistband of his sweatpants, hovering there as if seeking permission. Castiel thrust his hips up into Dean’s, encouraging him to explore. Dean smiled against Castiel’s lips, dipping his hand inside and brushing his fingers along his length, causing Castiel to gasp into his mouth. He thrust into Dean’s hand, as he trailed kisses along his neck and collarbone. Suddenly Dean’s breath was hot against his ear, “Relax, let me take care of you.”

 

He watched Dean move down his body, and helped by lifting his hips slightly so he could remove his pants and underwear, tossing them to the side. They had never taken it this far before, but he had no intentions of stopping it, he didn’t think he could if he were being honest with himself. Dean took him in hand again, holding his hip in place with the other before taking the head of his cock into his mouth. He gasped at the warm heat working it’s way down his length, Dean’s tongue swirling around the head before taking him deep and pulling back again and again.

 

Castiel could feel himself nearing the edge and reached blindly, gripping Dean’s hair tightly as a warning, crying out shortly after as he came. Dean swallowed, pulling back to a sitting position and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, smirking at how debauched Castiel looked. His smug look didn’t last long as he was suddenly shoved backwards towards the other end of the sofa and Castiel climbed on top of him, kissing him. Dean groaned into the kiss, thrusting upwards towards Castiel, his jeans too tight and restricting. Castiel pushed him down on his back with a palm on his chest, his other hand unbuttoning and unzipping the jeans, stroking Dean through his boxers.

 

“Cas…” Dean breathed against Castiel’s mouth, thrusting frantically into his hand, “so close… please.” He pulled Dean’s boxers down enough to get his hand around Dean’s cock and stroked him quickly, kissing him. It wasn’t long before Dean threw his head back, gasping Castiel’s name as he came between them. He slowed his strokes as Dean shuddered and he stopped, grinning at the satisfied look on Dean’s face. He kissed him again, their kisses less frantic and heated as they had been moments before.

 

Dean glanced down between them and chuckled, “Do you think maybe now we both need showers?”

 

Castiel rolled his eyes and pushed back, before he reached over for some of the napkins and they cleaned up as best they could and redressed. Dean settled on the sofa and opened his arms waiting for Castiel to come sit with him. He smiled at Dean and laid his head on his chest, and they watched the rest of the horror movie in a comfortable and content silence. They didn’t need anything special, they just were and it was enough.

 

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Castiel was walking to his car after class when she appeared at his shoulder, startling him a bit, “Charlie!” he chastised as she giggled and matched his speed. “What’s up?”

 

He had met her in one of his classes and they had gotten close, bonding over some of their favorite shows and movies. He was glad to have finally broken from his lone wolf type of behavior and started making friends. Dean had helped break him of his tendency to push people away in the early weeks of knowing him,  which he was more than grateful for. Charlie had been good for him as well, helping him to open up about who he was rather than trying to hide it. Many of the female friends he had back home were always trying to change him, make him interested in them rather than just appreciating his friendship for what it was. He didn’t have that problem with Charlie, she genuinely wanted to get to know him and they studied together often.

 

“So I am having a party…” she started as they walked towards the parking lot.

 

Castiel groaned, “You know I don’t do well with crowds, Charlie.”

 

She huffed in response, “Small group of us, dummy, and I would love to finally meet Dean. Besides, we have been working our asses off this semester, don’t you think a party for Halloween would be a great time to unwind and let loose? Just promise me you’ll think about it? Here, I wrote it all down. Show Dean.

 

He laughed, taking it from her and shoving it in his bag, “Fine, fine. If it’s a small group, and I’m sure he’ll be all for it too. He’s been swamped at work lately.” He stopped at his car, unlocking it and tossing his bag in the seat.

 

“Okay, you better be there tomorrow night!” Charlie said as she walked over to her car, giving him a wave as he climbed inside.

 

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It took him a few minutes to relax once they had arrived, but it wasn’t long before Dean’s confidence bled over and boosted his own. They were sitting on the sofa, drinking a beer and laughing along with Charlie about a story she was telling them from her job. She had been true to her word, it was a small group of people and they didn’t blink twice when he and Dean showed up and Charlie introduced them as a couple. He felt safe, for the first time, in the group of people as they chatted and played games. It was so different from what he had experienced back home, pretending to flirt with girls casually no matter how uncomfortable it had made him.

 

“How many have you had?” Castiel asked Dean while they stood in the kitchen with some of the snacks Charlie had laid out. Dean smiled, holding up a bottle of water, “Just the one when we got here, switched to water.”

 

Castiel kissed him on the cheek, “Okay, good.” He smiled as Dean pulled him close and whispered in his ear, “I’ll always make sure to take good care of you.” He tucked his face into Dean’s neck, breathing him in as he felt Dean’s hold tighten. He knew he could trust Dean, the one person who had been able to break down the walls he had built to protect himself, keep him safe from the people back home who didn’t understand him.

 

He pulled back and looked up, “Wanna head back to my place? It’s winding down and we’ve been here long enough.” Dean nodded, shoving the last bit of food in his mouth while Castiel laughed, “Let me go say bye to Charlie. Meet you outside?”

 

Charlie thanked him for coming, before punching his arm and telling him she’d see him in class. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” she yelled with a laugh as he headed towards the door. He took Dean’s offered hand as he got outside and they walked down the block to where Dean had parked. There were a lot of parties going on, but the weather wasn’t too bad so he didn’t mind the walk. They were almost to the car when he heard a bunch of guys leaving the house they were passing by, loud, obnoxious and pretty drunk.

 

“Hey, would you look at those fags!” one of them yelled, causing Castiel to flinch and tighten his grip on Dean’s hand. Dean scoffed but they kept walking, ignoring them and unlocking the car, opening the door on Castiel’s side first, and making sure he was in before turning and glaring in the direction of the guys. He ignored the rest of their comments as he walked around and got inside, started the car and drove off.

 

Castiel’s mood soured and they drove in silence on the way to his apartment, Dean frowned, knowing that there was nothing he could do to drag him from the dark place he was in, at least not while driving. Castiel was quiet as they made their way up to the apartment and inside, Dean shrugging off his jacket and hanging it up before taking Castiel’s from him and hanging it up. They kicked off their shoes and headed towards the living room, until Castiel stopped abruptly. Dean gently reached up and touched his upper back, before Castiel turned around and threw himself into Dean’s arms. He buried his face into Dean’s neck and tried to ground himself, while Dean wrapped his arms around him and held him close, whispering softly that it was okay, that it would be okay.

 

“I meant it, I will always take care of you and I will always keep you safe, Cas. Fuck anyone who doesn’t like what we are, who we are.” he said fiercely, pulling back and tipping Castiel’s face up to look at him. “They don’t see you for how wonderful you are? Well, that’s their loss.”

 

Castiel kissed him, then tucked himself back in Dean’s embrace, fighting against years of being told he was broken and letting Dean remind him that he wasn’t.

 

December, 2007

 

It was colder now, and Castiel checked his mailbox quickly before climbing the stairs to his apartment. He flipped through the envelopes, mostly bills and junk until he got to the colored envelope, a Christmas card, and he stopped walking. It was an old friend’s handwriting, from back home and he sighed, shoving the mail into his messenger bag, walking down the hallway and unlocking the door to his apartment. He kicked the door closed, dropped the bag on the floor near the door and took off his shoes before he crossed to the sofa and flopped onto it. He knew he would have to read the card eventually, but he didn’t have the mental capacity to deal with it at that moment.

 

Most of his friends had written him off when he left home, they couldn’t understand why he wasn’t normal like they were. He gave up trying to explain it, the same way he had given up trying to explain it to his family. No one seemed to understand that there wasn’t anything wrong with him, he wasn’t broken and didn’t need to be fixed. He was who he was, and there was nothing that anyone could do to change that.

 

He knew being in a small, heavily religious town made it difficult, but he thought at least some of them would still love him, even if they didn’t agree with his “lifestyle choice” they called it. He didn’t understand why it hurt them, it didn’t even involve them when it came down to it.  He was glad that school had just let out for the holiday, he needed the break.

 

There was a knock at the door, but he knew who it was and yelled “It’s open” without lifting his face from where it was shoved against the sofa. The door opened and Dean huffed a laugh as he closed it behind him, locking it. He heard the take out food bag being put on the counter and perked his head up slightly then turned so he could see Dean. He watched as he shrugged out of his coat, something Castiel hadn’t even bothered to do, and kicked his shoes off at the door before walking over to the sofa.

 

“So, are you gonna just stay bundled up in that coat, Cas?” Dean asked with a smirk and Castiel huffed at him before rolling to sit up on the sofa and looked up at Dean.

 

Dean frowned a bit, reaching out and brushing his knuckles along Castiel’s cheek. He leaned into the touch, sighing. He stood slowly, keeping eye contact with Dean, “Got a Christmas card in the mail today, didn’t put me in a great mood.” he finally said, shrugging off his coat and walking over to hang it up next to Dean’s.

 

Dean’s frown deepened and he walked over to start unpacking the food, “Well, if it’s any consolation I got Chinese for dinner.” Castiel smiled, leave it to Dean to get his favorite just when he needed it the most. He kissed Dean on the cheek as he stepped over to help sort out the boxes and then went to grab a couple of plates and silverware. They split up the food and walked over to the sofa together. Castiel felt comforted just having Dean near him, the Christmas card went forgotten as they finished up dinner, cleaning up and then settling down for a movie together. Castiel was laying on his side with his head in Dean’s lap, and at some point during the movie fell asleep, only to wake up to Dean running his fingers gently through his hair.

 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to fall asleep.” he said as he rolled to his back and looked up at Dean, who smiled gently and shook his head. “Don’t worry about it, you were tired, the movie wasn’t really your kinda thing anyway. I can stay tonight, if you want, I don’t have to work tomorrow.”

 

Castiel smiled and sat up, stretching a bit as Dean turned off the TV and standing, offering his hand to help him up. They shut off the lights and got ready for bed, Dean laying down first and waiting patiently for Castiel to join him. Once in bed, lamp off, Dean pulled him close and they both drifted off to sleep fairly quickly.

 

He woke the next morning, stretched and reached over where Dean was, finding that he was in bed alone. He frowned a bit, but stood and went to the bathroom before stepping out into the main area of the apartment and finding Dean in the kitchen. He had his back to him, busy with the stove. “Smells good in here.” he said as Dean turned slightly to look at him.

 

“Pancakes, you had just enough left in here to make some. Don’t you ever go shopping?” Dean asked plopping the last one on the plate next to him before turning to face Castiel fully. “How did you sleep? Feeling better?”

 

Castiel nodded, kissing him in greeting before looking over at the pancakes, “Yeah, I did. Thank you for staying.”

 

“Of course.”

 

They ate in a comfortable silence, Dean taking the plates into the kitchen and gesturing towards the part of the counter closest to the door, “Your mail from yesterday fell out of your bag when I picked it up to hang it on the hook.” Castiel frowned at the red envelope and huffed an irritated sigh, before resigning himself to opening it sooner rather than later. He couldn’t put it off, and if he just let it sit it would only continue to put him in a bad mood. Dean gave him a concerned look, resigning to let Castiel handle it, “I’m gonna go shower and then we can hit up the store. Otherwise you have hardly anything to eat. Maybe some noodles.”

 

Castiel smiled, “Yeah, okay.”

 

He heard Dean step into the bathroom and turn on the water as he sat down on the sofa with the card. It was from his old friend Hester, he couldn’t bite back the bitter laugh when he opened the envelope and pulled the card out, seeing that she had written a rather lengthy message on the inside.

 

Cas,

 

I hope this card finds you well, I know we haven’t spoken in months but I wanted to apologize for what happened between us this past summer. I understand you are angry with me, I was only trying to help. I know you didn’t ask for my help, but we are all concerned for you…

 

He tossed the card onto the table, he should have known it would be another non apology all in the name of “helping” him. There was nothing wrong with him, he wasn’t sure why everyone insisted on trying to help, trying to “fix” him. He wasn’t broken, he was different and there was nothing wrong with that. He had known of Hester’s crush on him, they had been friends since they were children, but he never led her to believe he wanted more than friendship from her. He had made the mistake one night, shortly after they started college, confiding in her that he found one of their male friends attractive. It wasn’t too long after that she started dropping subtle hints about ways to control his “urges” as she called them. She had even called him sick, once, and that he could be cured if he would let them help.

 

He shook his head, there was no changing what she said and he wasn’t going to go back to someone who couldn’t accept him for who he was, even if those people included his own family. He picked up the card and got up, walking into the kitchen and threw it in the trash. He read enough to know that it was more of the same and didn’t need to read anything else. He had all he needed, here, with Dean, his new friends and his education.

 

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“Are you sure you want me to join you guys for your Christmas dinner, Dean? I know it’s the first one since your dad…”

 

“Yes, Cas, I’m sure. Besides, it’s time you met Sam anyway and he’s brought his new girl, Jess. She’s really sweet, I bet you’ll love her.”

 

Castiel smiled and pulled at his collar a little more nervously as Dean drove them to the apartment he shared with his brother, though shared was a loose term. It seemed more and more often the brothers spent their nights away from the place. Dean spent most of his time at Castiel’s apartment than he did at his own, and Sam with Jess at her apartment.

 

“Sam and Jess were finishing up cooking while I came to get you, everything should be done by the time we get there. Stop worrying, it will be fine.”

 

He found that Dean was right, when they stepped inside, Sam immediately came forward to introduce himself and Jess. Just like with Dean, he didn’t feel like he was broken, different, he was just Castiel. Dinner was amazing and they were sitting around the living room drinking the rest of the wine from dinner and just overall having a good time.

 

“Dean never told me how you two met, Cas.” Sam spoke up, refilling everyone’s glass with the last of the wine in the bottle.

 

Castiel chuckled and looked at Dean who was blushing slightly, he shrugged and nodded his head for him to go ahead. “My car broke down on my way home from class at the end of the week. He happened to show up shortly after it happened and gave me a ride back to town, called a tow truck and everything.”

 

Dean spoke up then, “Even fixed his car for him. We started hanging out that night, dinner first and it just sort of went from there.” They shared a look and a smile, before Castiel shrugged at Sam, “There never was some grand thing, it just sort of happened with us. Glad my car was a piece of crap and happened to pick that day of all days to act up.”

 

“Well, you guys are great together.” Jess said, before trying to stifle a yawn. Sam shook his head, “It’s late, maybe we should all hit the sack.” Dean nodded, taking everyone’s glasses and going to deposit them in the kitchen. Sam and Jess headed to his room while Castiel went to see if Dean needed help in the kitchen.

 

“Nah, don’t worry about it, we’ll get it in the morning. Let’s get to bed.” Dean said, taking Castiel’s hand and walked down to his room. As they got ready for bed Dean looked around and then looked at Castiel for a moment, as if he was considering something.

 

“Sam mentioned that neither one of us really spend time in this place anymore, he feels like it’s a waste to have to keep paying rent on it.”

 

Castiel raised an eyebrow, “Are you asking if you can move in, Dean?” then laughed as Dean’s cheeks turned pink as he coughed and looked away. He sat on the bed and pulled Dean’s arm to pull him down to sit beside him. “Okay, seriously though, Sam has a point, and you spend more time at my apartment than you do here anyway. Also, it’s only a couple blocks away from the garage, you would be closer to work.” He took Dean’s hand into his own, “So I guess what I’m saying is, yes, move in with me.” Dean kissed him as his response, smiling against Castiel’s lips.